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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Spotify Appears To Be Punishing Artists

Spotify punishing artistsTalk about a sore loser, it looks like Spotify is punishing artists who do exclusives with Apple Music. According to an article in Bloomberg, the service is manipulating search results so that those who provided Apple Music with an exclusive on a new release don’t appear in the top ranks of searches after their music becomes available when the exclusive is over.

Spotify has also warned artists who provide Apple Music with an exclusive that they will no longer be included on its playlists. Spotify playlists have become a very important promotional tool, so any exclusion could hurt a song or album’s popularity on the platform.

A Spotify spokesperson has denied the allegations, which appear from have come from inside the company.

The fact of the matter is that Apple Music is using these exclusives in order to catch up with its rival. Spotify now claims to have 39 million paid subscribers while Apple Music sits at 15 million, so the company is using the artist exclusives to help close the gap. Whether that’s actually working or not is yet to be seen, since we’ve not seen subscriber numbers from Apple for a while, at least before the exclusive wars got into full swing.

Of course, it’s easier for Apple to get artists to provide an exclusive on a new release because of the company’s deep pockets for an advance, and widespread television and social advertising and promotion, something that Spotify or most other streaming companies can’t easily match.

Will it be worth it? Many in the industry actually feel that exclusives hurt everyone involved since the consumer isn’t able to get the music when she wants it on the platform she wants to use while the album is hot. My guess is that we’ll see exclusives die down in 2017 after Apple reaches subscriber parity with Spotify, or something close to it. Until then, Spotify will probably continue punishing artists who bow to Apple’s advances.

Pro Tools Expert Founder Russ Hughes On Episode #124 Of My Inner Circle Podcast

Russ HughesI’m very pleased to have Pro Tools Expert founder Russ Hughes as the guest on the latest edition of my Inner Circle Podcast.

Russ had a successful career in multiple aspects of the music business, but started a small blog dedicated to helping Pro Tools users. The blog has grown into a group of sites (Pro-Tools-Expert.com, Logic-pro-expert.com, Ableton-Live-Expert.com and Studio-One-Expert.com) that may be the most influential in the digital audio world today.

Russ and I will discuss the future of Avid, and the hot upcoming workstations, among other things.

In the intro we’ll take a look at how an artist finally got the best of a major record label (you don’t see that every day), and the passing of engineer Rudy Van Gelder, a giant in the world of recording.

You can listen to it at bobbyoinnercircle.com, or via iTunesStitcher, Mixcloud or Google Play.

The Success Of New Music Fridays Still Up In The Air

New Music FridayFor the longest time new music was released by most record labels in the United States on Tuesday, which made a lot of sense. Tuesday is usually a slow news day, so it was (and still is) pretty easy to get the word out without having to wade through the noise, plus it gave record stores and journalists some time to get up to speed on the latest releases before the weekend. All that changed last July when the IFPI moved to a universal release day of Friday for its 1300 members based in 60 countries. Since then New Music Fridays has been a success on some levels, and not so much on others.

Sales aren’t as much of a concern for record labels these days as they once were, so New Music Fridays actually seems to be working, and it’s been readily adopted by the streaming services as well. That said, evidence suggests that labels that do rely on sales, especially indie labels, are suffering from the decision, having to deal with a busy Friday and relatively dead weekend when it comes to the promotional cycle.

For the major record labels, a single world-wide release date has actually been a good thing since subsidiaries in different parts of the world previously released new music on the day they felt was best for their home market. The problem was that it was easy to steal the thunder from  a new release if it came out in India on Monday before it was released in the US or the UK on Friday. That’s all under control now as New Music Fridays has become the standard.

Friday also seems to work best just for the general psyche of people who want to discover new music, as it seems like more of that is done on the weekend than during the week, although precise information to that effect is sketchy at best.

That being said, New Music Fridays appears here to stay, and despite some promotional challenges, it looks like the industry is good with it.

August 26, 2016

Will Amazon Break The $5 Streaming Music Barrier?

Amazon EchoThere’s been speculation for some time that Amazon was going to launch it’s own streaming music service to rival that of Apple Music and Spotify. While such a service could be formidable indeed, another me-too platform might not shake up the streaming landscape much. That could change if Amazon is able to launch a lower-priced service, which could be a game changer based on price alone.

Reports are that the company is considering a streaming service priced at either $4 or $5 per month, but it would only be available on Amazon’s Echo player, and not on phones or other devices. The service would have features much like its competition in that it would be fully ad-free and on-demand. Reports are that the company would also launch a $10 per month full-line service as well that would be available on all devices.

While an Echo-only service seems like a serious limitation given that Amazon has only sold a few million units so far (predictions say that there will be 4 million in use by the end of the year), it’s the precedent of breaking the $5 per month barrier that’s more important than the service itself.

Many industry analysts have railed against the standard $10 per month price point, with the premise being that the price is too high for the industry to reach the tipping point it needs to fully replace physical product. It’s long been predicted that $5 per month was the point that would reach consumers who were reluctant to subscribe at a higher price and finally have them sign on.

The $5 price point has been resisted by the major labels as being too low, and they have fought with the streaming services to keep it at $10. While that might have been a wise decision when streaming was ramping up, in order to truly grow to the heights that most in the industry believe can happen, an adjustment downward is necessary to overcome current consumer objections based primarily on price. The adoption of the proposed $5 per month of the Echo-only service would make music execs more comfortable with the idea that a lower price means more customers, enough so to make up for any perceived money being left on the table. [Read more on Forbes]

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 8/25/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the music industry news roundup from the week of August 25th, 2016. It’s a little more diverse this week, but there are a few blockbuster topics (Spotify never fails to excite). Let’s get into it.

Spotify’s label deals are now out of contract. The company is going month to month, and trying to negotiate a lower royalty rate, meaning that it wants to pay even less to artists and labels. Spotify already has a “soft” deal, but the labels are now pushing for something better. Not a good strategy for Spotify when its IPO is looming, in my opinion.

London’s looking for a “night czar.” The city is looking for a person to help rebuild it’s fading nightlife. It pays about $46,000 for 2 1/2 days work per week. This is a government gig, but there’s probably not a lot of power to change much, as the reason why clubs are dying has more to do with finances than regulation.

A former Apple Music exec defends exclusives. This is a hot topic, as some say it’s really hurting the music business while others think it’s saving it. Sean Glass makes some good points about why it’s a positive.

AM radio doesn’t seem to have much future. This radio consultant sees there’s a need for it and a few stations are thriving, but more and more AM stations are closing all over the world and the trend will probably continue.

Samsung’s free Milk Music service will close in September. It seemed like a good idea in 2014 when it was launched, but never caught on with Galaxy users. The company is urging users to switch to Slacker instead.

Forbes highest paid DJs. EDM has peaked, especially in the US, but the top DJs are still raking it in.

Tencent is the biggest company in China, and wants to be everywhere else too. The digital entertainment company has the financial backing of the Chinese government, and content deals with all the big players in the world.

Want to invest in music, there’s a fund for that. 10 years ago everyone wanted to be in the recorded music business, now it’s touring and and merch, which is booming. This investment fund specializes in that area.

Is sleep a musical genre? It is to some people that specialize in sleep music creation and sleep enhancement products. Don’t be surprised to start seeing this show up in playlists.

That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

Japan Has Way More Music Stores Than The US

Japan Music StoresJapan is a pretty small country compared to the United States, but when it comes to the music business in has a big lead in at least one category – retail music stores. In what may be a startling revelation to some, Japan currently has around 6,000 music stores while the US only has 1900, with that number falling every week.

The fact of the matter is that Japan has a CD based economy, as 78% of sales come from the round shiny discs. The US, on the other hand, is down to around 39% of its total music revenue coming from the CD, which is still larger than most of us think, but it’s a figure that continues to fall fast.

So why does Japan still love the CD so much? For one thing, even though Japan has a big digital economy in general, record labels and consumers have resisted digital music to this point (it’s only 8% of total revenue). This has more to do with the culture of Japan than anything else, as most Japanese prefer the tangible aspect of the CD and view it more as a piece of artist merchandise than a music delivery system. It’s more about helping the artists they love than listening to the music.

Another thing is that in Japan, CDs sell for between $23 and $28 and aren’t discounted, thanks to a long-standing law that sets the minimum retail price. The country also has a thriving CD rental business, something that never caught on in the US and was fought vigorously by the major labels. Japanese labels look at rentals as an opportunity to get consumers into the buying mindset, which has proved to be a strategy that has worked. That said, the rental business, why still large, is decreasing.

All this has lead to Japan becoming the second largest music economy in the world behind the US. This does seem rather artificial however, and one has to wonder what will happen should streaming actually catch on there.

One thing’s for sure, for everyone who longs for the way it was in the old days of music, Japan’s the one place on earth where it’s still like that.

Mastering Engineer Colin Leonard On Episode #123 Of My Inner Circle Podcast

Inner Circle PodcastColin Leonard is one of the hottest mastering engineers going, and he’s so busy that he can’t get to all the work he’s offered. So he’s created a new online automated mastering process called Aria that uses his analog signal path to the do the job. That’s right, it’s online automated analog mastering!

On podcast Episode #123 Colin discusses how he came up with the process and the differences between other online mastering sites.

In the intro we’ll take a look at the music business in Japan and how it’s really still like the US was about 15 years ago in terms of CD sales (and even rentals), and I’ll look at a study that shows how only the right kind of music can help us concentrate. You won’t believe the genre that’s the best.

You can listen to it at bobbyoinnercircle.com, or via iTunesStitcher, Mixcloud or Google Play.

Enjoy the show!

New Twitter Features May Make Promotion More Difficult

New Twitter FeaturesMany artists and bands have found Twitter a great place to promote themselves and their music, but that just got a lot more difficult with the implementation of some new features. New Twitter features include Notifications settings and especially a Quality Filter, which will mean that an artist’s strategy for using Twitter will have to change in order to be successful.

The new Notifications settings will give users the ability to limit notifications to only people they follow on mobile and on twitter.com. The individual Twitter experience will continue unchanged if it’s not selected. Managing notifications is now also easier in that you can now access them directly from your notifications tab.

The real change comes with the Quality Filter though. When turned on, the filter looks at a variety of post data, including account origin and behavior, to select the types of posts that you see. Lower-quality content like duplicate tweets or content that appears to be automated from your notifications and other parts of your Twitter experience will no longer be seen. It does not filter content from people you follow or accounts you’ve recently interacted with, depending on your preferences. This can turned on or off in your notifications settings. The feature is also designed to learn and improve over time in updates in the future.

What this means is that if you duplicate a morning post in the afternoon to hit a different audience, it might not be seen by the people that you’re targeting. Likewise, if you are set to automatically tweet from a blog or Facebook post, that may also be filtered out. It’s unknown whether a 3rd party scheduled post from a service like Hootsuite is affected.

We’re still not sure what the algorithm of the Quality Filter actually takes into account, so there may be other types of posts that may be affected as well. The best thing to do at this point is to continue to post custom tweets, and keep the automation to a minimum.

As with other social networks, user experience is the prime directive, and that’s what these new Twitter features aim to improve.

Maybe YouTube Isn’t That Big For Music After All

YouTube FactsThe music industry has always operated under the premise that music content made up about 40% of YouTube’s traffic, a figure that has bothered everyone considering how little revenue it’s generated as a result. No comes data from Pexeso showing that figure may be way off.

The company found that music-related content on YouTube amount to just 4.3% of the the service’s total traffic. In contrast, gaming-related content accounts for 33.4% of the total, entertainment-focused content has an 18.9% chunk, and bloggers, and YouTube personalities have a 14.3% of the pie. .

What’s more, YouTube itself says that music is only worth 2.5% of its traffic and users spend only an hour a month watching music videos!

That said, there’s a lot of new YouTube data that’s both interesting and a little scary as well.

  • YouTube receives roughly 300,000 individual video uploads each day, amounting to 80k hours of video and 24TB of data.
  • 8am PST is the busiest time of day for video uploads, whereas 12:36am is the least busy. Approximately 10x more videos are uploaded during the busiest time comparing to the least busy.
  • The average video uploaded to YouTube is 15 minutes long and 86MB in size.
  • 93.5% of videos uploaded to YouTube are in English.
  • The People & Blogs category receives the highest volume of uploads, accounting for a whopping 41% of videos uploaded everyday, followed by Gaming (14%), Film & Action (10%) and Entertainment (8%).
  • Although the People & Blogs category accounts for the most video uploads each day, Gaming is king, receiving the most attention.
  • Static videos — typically spammy videos containing just a static image whose purpose is to lure people outside of YouTube — account for unbelievable 7.5% of all uploaded videos.

What happens to videos after they’re uploaded? That’s even more interesting.

  • Only 35% of all videos uploaded will be claimed by rights holders. 26% will be monitored or monetized by the copyright holder; the remainder will be taken down.
  • A whopping 32% of all videos will end up removed within the first 24 hours.
  • 5% of videos will be deleted by users.
  • 18% will be removed because the user had their account terminated.
  • 9% will be taken down due to copyright infringement.
  • 0.4% of all videos are made private by the users in the first 24 hours.
  • 5% accounts that uploads videos in any given day get terminated for violating YouTube’s TOS.
  • Terminated accounts upload around 20% of all videos every day, 6x more than a typical account.

I’m still a little leery of this data because of the big disparity from what we’ve used in the past. Although it’s enough to change my mind, I’m still looking for confirmation from another source just to be sure that music isn’t a big part of YouTube anymore.

 

Music Industry News Roundup #8

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the music industry news roundup from the last week. As always, streaming and streaming services are in the news, but so are a number of huge artists, as well as some cool speculation on the future. Let’s get into it.

Apple Music is seriously getting into song lyrics. Reports are that it’s hired a new team to curate lyrics rather than use a third party to do it. The feature is supposed to be part of iOS 10, which hasn’t been released yet.

The Ed Sheeran plagiarism lawsuit is causing a bit of a dustup. Billboard rants a bit about the bad journalism surrounding the suit (that “Thinking Out Loud” is too close to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”), and on the surface, this one feels frivolous, but we’ve been surprised by the results before. This could be a bombshell for songwriters and music publishers alike if it goes against Sheeran.

Chance The Rapper turned down all the major labels and signed an exclusive with Apple instead. That’s the way the new music business works, although I’d bet that he ends up on a major sometime in the future.

Speaking of exclusives, Frank Ocean also went with Apple Music. Starting to see a trend here? First it was Tidal, then Spotify, now it looks like Apple is putting on the serious push for exclusives. It will be interesting to see its latest subscriber numbers.

In the meantime, Spotify is diversifying into gaming. It launched a new portal dedicated to game soundtracks, which is a great idea, given that gaming is a far larger business than music.

Pandora’s doing the same thing. Diversifying, that is. The company has added more comedy and podcast content, in a move that might be too little too late. Notice how little press the company is getting lately?

People can’t tell what fidelity they’re listening to. That’s what an informal study by CNBC says. Only 1 in 3 could identify the hi-res stream in a test that included streams from Tidal, Spotify and Apple Music. I’m not sure if that means the codecs have all gotten better or the basic quality of the tracks have gotten worse (probably a little of both).

Will Google suffer Yahoo’s fate? It wasn’t all that long ago when Yahoo was the search engine of choice, and this article shows how it could also happen to the current king of the mountain.

How Drake conquered streaming. First you conquer social media, then the streaming comes with that, according to this article. Yeah, it also helps when you’ve had success before a great team to work with.

That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

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