Monthly Archives: October 2016
Monthly Archives: October 2016
California has an interesting law on the books called the “7 Year Rule” that releases employees from a personal services contract, like a record deal, after 7 years. Th was actually part of a law that was enacted way back in 1872 as a way to protect the then burgeoning entertainment industry and helped to create the “studio system” that film studios used to employee actors for long periods of their careers. This all changed in 1940 when Gone With the Wind co-star Olivia de Havilland won a judgment from a state appeals court that her contract with Warner Brothers Pictures wasn’t binding past the seven-year mark, but now the law is being tested again.
Warner Music is taking Avenged Sevenfold to court over a relatively new provision in the 7 Year Rule. The band recently bolted to Capitol Records, and it’s new album The Stage just came out on Friday on that label. The problem is that in 1989 record labels successfully lobbied to add an amendment to the law that allowed them to sue an artist that left without delivering the number of albums originally agreed upon, which appears to be the case with Avenged Sevenfold. The labels argued that since many times they invest huge sums of money up front in an artist, there’s really no incentive for an artist to fulfill the contract if he can wait it out 7 years, hence the amendment.
The band wasn’t happy with the marketing strategy that Warners had used on its previous albums, even though two of them made it to #1, as well as the fact that many of the company’s main executives had left, which was behind their decision to find another label.
Lots of actors, artists, athletes, talent agents and record companies have invoked the 7 Year Rule in the past, but this is the first time it’s actually being tested in court. The big problem for Warners is trying to determine what the damages might be for not having the last album of the deal, which is why it’s looking closely at how well The Stage does in the marketplace. The band claims it doesn’t owe Warners another album due because it came to the end of its 7 year term. It now looks like sometime in 2017, a judge will decide.
Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup from the week of October 28th, 2016. As always, it’s a mixed bag of different industry items that caught my eye. Let’s do it.
Pandora lost a lot of money and listeners in the last year. The company may be transitioning to a full interactive platform, but it could be too late to be a real competitor in the space by the time it finally gets it done.
Spotify video isn’t doing too well. It got almost no traction, so the company is cutting ties with some of its providers, while claiming that it’s still in the game.
Soundcloud grows a bit. And it claims it’s all thanks to getting people to pay.
Twitter is discontinuing Vine. Could this be a sigh of things to come, now it’s killing is short-form video app?
Georgia is trying to bring in more music projects. It may pass a law that will provide incentives to producers and artists to record there. Sounds like a good thing, but other states have tried this as well and have halted it after a few years. It never has the effect that either the state or the producers hope it will have.
The first virtual reality music release is here. Universal Music jumps in the game first with something new from Avenged Sevenfold.
MTV adds fan livestreams. In an effort to stay relevant, MTV will allow fans to livestream starting with a full-time show on MTV Australia (although it was tested in the US this last year as well).
Radio tries some audio sharing. One of the things that bums people out about radio is that they can’t share something they like with their friends. Maybe they now can with these new apps.
Radio online made easier. A better way to listen to radio streaming as well with something called Radioplayer.
Piracy is supposedly up again. How? Streaming ripped off of YouTube. I don’t believe it, personally. Piracy is always going to be there, but for most people it’s far more convenient to get it for free from Spotify or a similar service, so why bother with the hassle.
Selling songs without selling out. You don’t always have to be aggressive with your networking and marketing to get your songs placed.
That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.
If you’ve released some music recently and are surprised at how low the stream or view counts are, there are a lot of things that you can blame, but probably most of them aren’t at fault. Before you can fix the problem, you have to look inward first. Here are 3 reasons why your music probably isn’t being listened to, but take heart, there are solutions.
1. You haven’t found your audience yet.
Don’t let anyone tell you that your music sucks. There is a audience for what you do out there, although it may end up being smaller than you’d like, but you just have to find it first. How? If you have any fans already, ask them or your friends what your music reminds them of. If they mention a type of music or a particular artist, go hang out on those forums or groups, or follow those artists. Their audience is also your potential audience. Try an inexpensive Facebook or Twitter ad campaign ($3 to 5 per day) targeting those audiences. If your music resonates as it does with your current fans, you’ll have more new fans before you know it. Remember that this is a long process that happens over time though. You won’t get a huge following overnight, but it can be slow and steady.
2. You haven’t explored all of your distribution options.
You can’t just upload your songs to Tunecore or Distrokid and think you’re done. Videos are an important part of the mix for any artist, so make sure that you have both YouTube and Facebook videos available. In fact, upload your videos to Facebook and then promote them in the Ad Manager (don’t use Boost). You’ll be surprised at the reach you’ll get since Facebook favors videos over static posts these days. Can’t afford a big production? Don’t worry about it. A lyric video or even just a picture of you or your band over the music can perform just as well as a full-fledged music video.
3. Your online presence is insufficient.
It’s surprising how many artists are content to have a Facebook page as their online identity and nothing more. You really need a dedicated website as it’s the only thing online that you can truly control 100%. It’s the place for your bio, contact info, press pictures (meaning for the press if they write an article about you), upcoming gigs, videos, and music. It’s also the best place to get people to sign up for your mailing list (which may be your most important online tool). Yes, you need a presence on at least one social network (Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook – wherever your fans hang out), but make sure you take care of the basics first.
These 3 reasons may not be the only ones that keep the right people from finding your material, but taking them seriously will move your project forward a surprising amount.
For more information on how to build your online infrastructure, check out my Music 4.1 online music guidebook.
Low royalty rates are something that concerns every artist, label, songwriter and publisher. The good news is that they’re gradually rising, and since there are more paying subscribers to streaming services every year, the revenue pie is also getting larger. This may take an even better turn if the proposed new rate increase that SoundExchange wants from SiriusXM comes to pass.
To be clear, SoundExchange is a government body that collects revenue for artists from non-interactive (meaning they play like a radio) services like Pandora, satellite radio, cable TV’s Music Choice, and Muzak background music that you hear in retail stores everywhere. Every 5 years the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) sets a new rate that these platforms must pay content owners and creators for streams on their ad-supported tiers.
Last year, the CRB increased the royalty rate for Pandora a slight bit from $.0014 per stream on its free ad-supported tier, to $.0017. SoundExchange asked for $.0025, but part of that may have been a strategy of bidding high to get a better rate in the end.
For SiriusXM, SoundExchange has proposed a rate starting in 2018 that is the greater of either 23% of the platform’s total revenue or a per subscriber rate starting at $ 2.48 per subscriber per month in 2018, with small annual increases until the agreement ends in 2022. Sirius XM currently pays just 10.5% of its “Gross Revenues” 2016 and 11% in 2017.
For Music Choice and Muzak, SoundExchange has proposed a per subscriber per month rate starting at $ 0.019 per subscriber per month with annual increases. The current rate for Music Choice’s and Muzak’s cable/satellite TV music services is 8.5% of Gross Revenues in both 2016 and 2017.
As you can see, SoundExchange likes to reach for the stars when it comes to proposed rates. Even though these seem reasonable for everyone involved in the music business, effectively doubling a rate does put any distributor in an immediate financial hole that some might find difficult to climb out of. That’s why we can expect higher royalty rates from SiriusXM, Music and Music Choice once the CRB rules, but they’ll probably not be as high as SoundExchange has proposed.
Billboard recently posted a very interesting article about 11 artists, some major, that still can’t be be found on a streaming network. While you have to admire that they stand for their principles, it does seem to be a somewhat dated view, since streaming has not only become a major source of income for previous holdouts like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, but has also helped with their visibility and physical sales as well. Another major holdout in Garth Brooks just came in from the cold last week, with his exclusive deal with Amazon Music Unlimited.
So who are the holdouts? They may surprise you as they not all in the rock genre, who’s artists seem to make up the bulk of the pushback against streaming.
De La Soul
Of course, if you want to find bootleg copies of any of these artists, they’re certainly there, as is the user generated uploads on YouTube (although some of the above do have official videos on that platform). It’s also interesting to note that, with the exception of York, all of these artists have seen their best days behind them. Almost all current artists have grown up in a streaming environment and have no connection to the physical music business of the past, so they don’t know what they’re missing nor do they care.
Still, if these holdouts expect the music industry to return to the way it was, they’re sadly mistaken. The business constantly evolves and moves forward, and these artists should too.
Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup from the week of October 21th, 2016. It’s some pretty good news for the recorded music industry, more on music subscriptions and some interesting lawsuits. Let’s get to it.
The music business has seen a lot of growth this year. Up 3.2% globally and more than 8% in the U.S.. That’s great news for an industry that’s had quite a few bad years lately.
Garth Brooks becomes Amazon Music Unlimited’s first exclusive. Good for Amazon but will it work for Garth in the end?
Grooveshark’s creator has a new platform. And this time it just might be endorsed by the major labels.
Radio is giving live streaming a try. Finally, radio’s doing something to try to increase its relevancy.
Spinal Tap sues Universal. Harry Shearer sues the media giant for $125 million, stating that he’s received less than $100 for record sales in 30 years. Merchandise income only a little better.
Will there be more device restricted music subscriptions in our future? The low-priced Amazon Music Unlimited tier with Echo and Dot may be just the first of many.
Kanye West thinks the feud between Jay-Z and Apple has hurt his latest release. I think he just backed the wrong horse when he went all in with Tidal exclusives.
You won’t believe the music service that has half the teens in America signed up. Musical.ly may the industry’s secret weapon.
A brief look at the history of Pop music. You probably could guess what’s the most popular pop song of all time.
That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.
We all know how powerful video can be when it comes to having a hit, but a recent analysis of Adele’s “Hello” by Pexeso really drives the point home that video copies play a huge part in fan awareness. The site tracked the hit song over a period of 101 days, starting on its October 22nd release date on YouTube, and found out a lot about the popularity of video on various social platforms.
This is indeed a strange new video world we live in that’s asymmetrical in nature. It can’t be assumed that the results on one platform will be matched by another, or that one is better than another. One thing’s for sure, if the fans like your song or music video, it will for sure make it’s way onto every available social platform available.[photograph: Egghead06 via Wikipedia]
The major record labels are adamant about keeping the price of a music streaming subscription at $9.99 per month, regardless of the platform, so it was a great surprise last week when Amazon announced that its new Amazon Music Unlimited service was priced at $7.99 per month for Amazon Prime members. It turns out that the labels haven’t softened their pricing stance at all, as Music Business Worldwide reported that Amazon will actually end up subsidizing the other 2 bucks when all is said and done.
It turns out that Amazon is expected to be paying out from between $5.50 to $6 each month to record labels and artists for each $7.99 Prime subscriber, and an additional $1.50 a month to publishers and songwriters. When you figure in administration, marketing, staff and infrastructure costs, that means that most if not all of that monthly fee has pretty much been eaten up.
So what’s the company’s end game?Amazon might be pulling an Apple here, losing money on software in order to sell more hardware and make a much higher profit. While Echo and Dot seem to be hits and are the leading products in this new category, there very well may be more hardware devices from the company on the way . Using music streaming as a loss-leader to make it’s hardware more attractive has been tried by many companies though, particularly in the mobile space, and only Apple has been wildly successful with the strategy.
The price subsidy could also be another way to increase Prime memberships. While Amazon doesn’t publish the actual number of subscriptions, insiders have reported it to be around 60 million, and when you consider that each one is paying $99 a year for the privilege, you can see why anything that might increase that number could be valuable. Still, it seems like a stretch to think that the average music user will say to himself, “I really want to subscribe to this music service because of this great price. Let me pay just $99 more so I can buy in.” [Read more on Forbes]
If you’re like me, you don’t have a huge amount of experience with in-ear monitors. I’d just gotten fitted for a set, and thought it would be a great idea to find out as much as I could about them, so I asked Ultimate Ears sales director Mike Dias to come on this week’s podcast to fill us in.
In this episode we’ll talk about all the nuances of in-ears, as well as the laser scanning process for the ear molds, and the fact that these tiny earpieces hold as many as 18 drivers!
On the intro we’ll look at Amazon’s new Music Unlimited streaming service and it’s deceptive low prices, and some out-of-the-box thinking of putting music venue sound systems in the ceiling instead of on the stage.