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Monthly Archives: January 2017

January 31, 2017

Dubai-Based Engineer Joshua F Williams On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Josh Williams DubaiWe pretty much know about life in the studio around us, but how different is it in other countries? My former assistant Joshua F Williams has been one of the top engineer/producers in the Middle East for the past 10 years, and he’ll tell us what the music scene is like in the Dubai area on my latest podcast.

Yes, the techniques are different, the instruments are different, and even the way you listen to things are different there, but Josh also sees the similarities between Europe, Los Angeles, and the UAE. It’s some interesting insight into a land that most of us are curious about, and well worth a listen.

In the intro I’ll look at the changing streaming music business (32 services have closed in the last 5 years), and at the world’s first “perfect” concert hall.

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

January 30, 2017

Most Billboard Album Charts To Now Include Streaming

Billboard 200After updating the Billboard 200 chart to reflect both streaming and track sales a few years ago, Billboard is now doing the same for most of it’s other genre-based album charts as well.  The following charts will now reflect the new measurement methodology starting this week:

Top Country Albums

Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, plus:
-R&B Albums
-Rap Albums

Top Rock Albums, plus:
-Alternative Albums
-Hard Rock Albums
-Americana/Folk Albums

Top Latin Albums, plus:
-Latin Pop Albums
-Regional Mexican Albums
-Tropical Albums
-Latin Rhythm Albums

Top Dance/Electronic Albums

Top Gospel Albums

Top Christian Albums, plus:
-Christian/Gospel Albums

Soundtracks

Top Catalog Albums

Holiday Albums

The charts are still primarily based on sales, but 10 digital track sales from an album will equate to one equivalent album sale (TEA), and 1,500 on-demand song streams from an album will be equivalent to one album sale (SEA). Sales and streaming data is compiled by Nielsen Music. Billboard will also continue to publish pure album sales charts for the above genres using Nielsen’s sales data exclusively.

By moving to a “consumption” methodology, Billboard is trying to make sure that the top-ranked titles each week on the above charts align with the top titles of those genres on the Billboard 200.

The on-demand subscription services that provide the data for the charts are Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, Soundcloud, Slacker, Napster, Google Play, Groove Music and Medianet.

This is actually a good thing in that all the “official” charts will be measured the same way with data from physical sales, digital sales, and stream consumption. That said, with sales of both physical and digital costing more than streams, you have to wonder whether they’re worth more and should be pro-rated as such. This is a step in the right direction though, at least until music sales become a much smaller part of the picture.

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 1/27/17

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week of January 27th, 2017. There’s lots of varied news that covers the spectrum of the music business. Here are some of the news highlights for the week.

Spotify wants to pay a lower royalty rate. It’s contract with the major labels is up, but it’s offer is to pay 14% less than it’s paying now. Good luck with that.

Spotify also has some big loan payments soon. Which is why the rush for the company to go public this year.

Pandora thinks it can take on Apple Music and Spotify. Maybe, but it has a long way to go. This article provides its plans.

32 online music services have shut down in the last 5 years. It’s getting tough out there unless you’re one of the big boys.

Sony wants to keep its music division. It plans on selling the film studio, but music is making too much money to cut loose.

Artists can make money from YouTube’s new Super Chat feature. It’s a pay-to-comment feature that the service hopes will add some revenue to the artist’s coffers. It’s also killing the Fan Funding feature in the process.

Google Play Music is testing an auto-play option.  It’s unique in that it resumes play at the spot where you left off when you launch an app.

Music has to lead the way for VR to succeed. That’s going to be difficult, as most creators still view audio (let alone music) as the poor step-child to the picture.

Movie trailers may be the best marketing for an artist. At least that’s what this Atlantic Records exec thinks.

It looks like protest music is making a comeback. We can thank our new president for that.

Some of the copyright changes that the industry hoped for might not happen. The new administration is strangely silent on the matter, which scares music insiders.

That’s the Music News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Have a great week ahead!

January 26, 2017

7 Tips For Live Event Tweeting

Twitter live event tipsWhen it comes to a live event like a gig or conference that you’re attending, Twitter can be the best way to keep your fan base both active and up-to-date. The idea is to maintain your visibility by sharing some worthwhile information that they’ll want. Here are 7 tips to do just that so you have have a successful live event Twitter campaign.

1. Use the right hashtag(s). If you have a following that regularly attends your gigs, start your own hashtag that you can consistently use. Something like #(yourband)live could work. Also find out if the venue has a hashtag and include that as well.

2. Let your followers know. If there’s going to be a flurry of activity in a short period of time, let your followers know beforehand. No one likes their feed dominated by one poster, but at least they can tune you out if they’re not interested if they know its coming.

3. Be interesting. Try to give a unique perspective that only you can give. What’s the venue like? Did you meet anyone interesting (give them a shoutout)? Is there a meet and greet or something happening preshow or aftershow?

4. Retweet others. If there are others tweeting about the gig, retweet them as well.

5. Take pictures. Tweets are a lot more interesting when a picture is included and the engagement is increased as well.

6. Follow other tweeters. This includes the promoters, venue and other bands on the bill.

7. Don’t forget the video. Twitter is more than just text, so don’t forget to share a video about meeting a fan, what’s happening backstage, from the stage, etc.

Twitter is especially cool for communicating at a live event, and that’s the perfect time to engage your fans. Follow these tips to keep you fans interested and have them continue to come back for more.

January 25, 2017

Jay-Z Gets Bailed Out As Sprint Invests In Tidal

Sprint logoRecently there’s been a lot of speculation on how long Tidal could financially hold on before it would have do something drastic. Today those fears are allayed with the news that telco Sprint has bought a 33% interest in the music streaming service for $200 million. Each of the company’s much celebrated two dozen artist-owners will remain as partners.

A big part of the deal is that Sprint reportedly contributed another $75 million just for future artist exclusives and marketing, which had been lacking in recent months.

Sprint is owned by the Japanese giant Softbank and has about 45 million paying customers, which will reportedly now get access to Tidal as part of their cell phone service agreement.

Tidal is reported to only have about 1 million paying customers, but it is available in 52 countries and has more than 42 million songs in its catalog, as well as 140,000 videos. It’s not known how many of those are on the premium high-definition tier, but it’s presumed to be only a small portion. The press release sent out about the investment states that there will be no change in service for Tidal’s current customers.

Tidal has had a relationship with Sprint that goes back a couple of years, and owner Jay-Z has been courting the company since then. That said, Tidal was burning through money while its paid subscribers weren’t rising at a fast enough rate to compensate. Something had to give, and after overtures to other large companies like Apple, the company pulled off the surprise Sprint deal.

This should at least buy the company some time, give it some money to market with, and gain a new customer base from Sprint customers. Tidal gives Sprint its entry into the music world, which it’s been looking for for some time. At the moment its a win/win scenario for both companies.

January 24, 2017

Winter NAMM Show Overview On Episode #145 Of My Inner Circle Podcast

2017 Winter NAMMThe Winter NAMM show is always the one exhibition of the year to look forward to. Not only are some manufacturers now skipping AES in favor of NAMM, but it’s so much more fun and colorful, as musical celebs seem to be everywhere.

Here’s a report from the show, from the big picture point of view about the vibe of the show, down to some of the cool products that I saw.

It’s a short show because I didn’t want to repeat myself on some of the things that I’ve posted on my blog. Shorter is better, right?

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

Jack White Starting His Own Vinyl Pressing Plant

Third Man Records pressing plantFrustrated with the long wait in to get records pressed, Jack White’s new Third Man Records pressing plant is scheduled to open in February in his native Detroit. The company has installed 8 new energy efficient presses capable of outputting up to 5,000 discs every 8 hours. The company also hopes to add 50 jobs to a city that desperately needs them.

Although the plant is primarily for the releases from Third Man artists, it will also be available for outside work. The company will continue to maintain its longstanding relationship with United Record Pressing in Nashville to handle any overflow.

White is proud of the fact that the plant made every effort to be environmentally sustainable, which includes a closed-loop, chilled-water system that maximizes water sustainability, state-of-the-art temperature control, and noise control of the loud machinery.

There are only 20 record pressing plants in the United States (including Third Man when it comes on line), and just about all plants are currently backlogged by an average of 4 months. Obviously this prevents getting a release quickly to market, which is why Third Man decided to make the rather sizable investment in its own plant.

The major labels actually make up a great deal of the vinyl orders these days, as many new releases also get a vinyl version as well. This makes it very hard to squeeze indie labels and artists into the cue, so at least for the moment, any new plant that comes online should have no trouble finding enough work to keep itself busy.

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 1/20/17

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week of January 20th, 2017. We’re back in the swing of things as everyone hits the ground running in the new year. Here are some of the news highlights for the week.

There’s speculation that Sony Japan is tiring of the entertainment business and might now want to sell out. That means Sony Music and Sony/ATV publishing as well. Could the 3 major labels soon be down to 2?

It looks like Sirius XM is still interested in buying Pandora. But only at the right price. Pandora is in trouble, so that price is sure to be coming down to where Sirius likes it soon.

There are predictions that the US radio industry is going to change big time soon. Back to local and away from big station groups, as iHeartRadio is in big financial trouble that could start the change. This is a good thing.

The long term trends in radio don’t look good. Despite what you might read, fewer people are listening to radio, a figure that looks like it will only decrease. Is it because of the product (too many commercials) or the format? Could a big industry shakeup change the trend?

Norway shuts down its analog radio system. It’s trying to make a clean shift to digital. This is for national stations only though, as lots of independent analog stations will still stay on the air.

Facebook has decided to stop paying publishers for live videos. It seems like this was just a short term deal to establish the format and now it wants to put more emphasis on long-form videos instead. This is no-doubt because it will soon be inserting mid-roll ads after 20 seconds, so the longer the video, the better.

Apple is looking to produce TV content. Could this be Netflix/Amazon envy, or has it just lost confidence in the core product of Apple Music?

The hottest selling metal records of 2016 holds a surprise. Metallica holds 6 of the top 10 spots and is still selling physical product like crazy.

Music streaming now has more paying users than Netflix. Of course, Netflix is only one company, while the more than 100 million music streaming subscribers is across all the streaming networks world-wide.

10 virtual reality observations. Will it be the next big thing? It could be, but probably not in the way you think.

That’s the Music News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Have a great week ahead!

 

Artist Sponsorship Is Today’s Payola

Payola has always been part of the music business and many insiders feel that it’s the reason that some artists become stars, and some stars become superstars. Without money or favors changing hands between the record label and the radio station/streaming service, a song might never gain the visibility it needs to become a hit. While this was a dirty under-the-table business in the past, today it’s a lot cleaner and above board in that we call it “corporate sponsorship” instead of payola.

What is payola? When it first reared its head in the 1950s, a record label would drop a wad of cash on a DJ or program director in order to get its record played on the station. It was basically renting the air time, or sponsoring the song, but it was never identified as such (or probably even thought of in that way). Soon payola was made a crime, so the labels then turned to “independent promoters” who handled the same transactions with the stations so the labels could legally say they weren’t involved. In many cases, drugs, vacations, and luxury items like big screen TVs where substituted for cash, but it had the same effect – getting airplay for the song on the station.

Today that still might happen in radio, but much of the attention has now turned to playlists, where indie promotion men now do their thing trying to influence the influencers to include a song or album on their playlist. That said, a new form of legal payola now exists in corporate sponsorship, which is completely out in the open even though we might not recognize it as what it really is.

It’s much more difficult to get radio airplay these days since stations are now owned by large station groups, so brands, bands, artists and labels have turned to sponsorship to fill the gap. For instance, Pepsi launched “The Sound Drop”in a partnership with MTV, Shazam, and iHeartMedia to spotlight artists who are already on major labels and in rotation on iHeartRadio. Not to be left behind, Dr. Pepper’s “One of a Kind Sound” is a series of artist promo spots designed to look and sound like pre-release album teasers. And of course, a few years ago Warner Music famously partnered with iHeartRadio to actively promote its artists (there was even a big announcement). Radio stations and groups continue to offer festivals and that’s also become a huge business. In fact, there was over $1.5 billion in sponsorship money spent last year for live events.

Sound familiar?

The artists of past were very idealistic about anything related to sponsorship and stayed as far away from it as possible in an effort to keep their music as pure as possible. Today those ideals are pretty much dead, as sponsorship is the main focus of the artist, management, labels and brands. It’s a new world out there where we might call payola by a different name, but it’s still payola just the same. If you don’t have the money, you can’t play the game.

January 18, 2017

France’s SACEM Might Have Created The Copyright Management Technology Of The Future

SACEM copyright systemFor the most part, performance rights organizations use an antiquated system to determine the payouts to their members. For radio, it all depends on a survey at certain times of the year that looks at a cross-section of what stations are playing in order to determine the royalties. For streaming, it depends on the data they get from the streaming services. There’s lots of room for error here, and that’s been a complaint over the years. France’s SACEM might have the solution though, with a new cloud-based copyright management system powered by IBM.

The system is called URights, and it uses cognitive search and content analysis technology to provide rights holders with extensive data reporting to not only track usage, but identify trends in the marketplace as well. It’s going to be launched this year, and a major requirement is that it be able to effectively track and process the billions of audio files now consumed on a daily basis around the world

SACEM is actually doing a pretty good job of that already, last year tracking over 980 billion download and streaming transactions (almost twice the previous year’s total) on behalf of its 157,000 members.

Accurate accounting is something that every artist, band and songwriter expects in this digital age of ours, and unfortunately that’s often not what’s provided. Sometimes it’s more of an “in the ballpark” estimate, other times its the accounting provided by the distributor (which history has proven can be way off), and other times it’s determined by a measurement that’s no longer as effective as it could be, given the resources that are available today.

URights is a step in the right direction, but will only serve a small portion of the world. Let’s hope that the US PROs either come up with something similar, or decide to license the SACEM technology in the near future.

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