Monthly Archives: February 2017
Monthly Archives: February 2017
In my mind Richard Gibbs’ Woodshed Recording is one of the top 5 studios in the world (see the photo on the side), and it’s not because of its idyllic setting on a mountaintop overlooking Malibu’s Zuma Beach.
No, it’s because it can be configured any way you want at the drop of a hat, with a console/workstation and outboard rack that can be repositioned anywhere in the room, movable walls so there are multiple iso rooms, or none at all, and windows and doors that open to let in the cool sea breeze yet have little affect the studio’s acoustic integrity. And that’s only the start.
The studio has a who’s who of hi-end clientele like Coldplay, U2, Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand, Kanye West and many more, which is impossible for most studios to attract – but not Woodshed.
In Part 2 of my conversation with Richard, he talks about how the studio came about, the mistakes that were made in the process, and some studio building advice.
In the intro I’ll take a look at the MQA process that’s been widely adopted by labels and associations, but may or may not be used for high-resolution streaming, and hearing loss and prevention.
There are some states in the US that know the value of entertainment and they’re willing to invest in it. The latest is Georgia, which is about to pass the Music Investment Act to make it more financially attractive for music artists to create in the state. Not only is this piece of legislation intended to lure musicians to Georgia to record and tour, but also keep its home-grown talent from fleeing to other parts of the country like Nashville and Los Angeles.
The bill will provide Georgia’s music industry with tax cuts and incentives similar to the ones the film industry receives, which have proved very successful in bringing major film projects to the area. The proposed incentives are estimated to bring $9 million in net revenue and help spur as much as $2.2 billion of economic activity in the state within five years.
The Georgia Music Investment Act (also known as House Bill 155) has three major components:
The truth of the matter is that sometimes these tax incentives work and sometimes they don’t. Usually when they don’t it’s because the state hasn’t done enough to let the industry know that they exist. It’s unlikely this will happen with Georgia though, as it’s done a great job with its film and television credits already. Atlanta currently has a burgeoning music scene that will only grow larger as a result.
Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week of February 24th, 2017. It was a rather quiet week, but still lots to talk about. Let’s get into it.
This may be the last easy year for streaming music. It needs new innovations and pricing if it wants to grow.
Users are leaving Snapchat for Instagram. It now has the same features, and this poster tells you why.
Old fashioned TV still drives the music business. But a lot less than in the past Remember when an appearance on Saturday Night Live was worth 150,000 album sales?
Universal Music And MQA make a deal. MQA may be the future format for streaming high-resolution music, and Universal is getting in on it early.
Alex Da Kid thinks there a new resurgence of indie labels coming. And he hopes his label leads the way.
Does owning your music matter anymore? Millions of streaming users say no but this article thinks differently. I’m not so sure I agree.
The big tech companies are still coming after the music business. Good or bad thing? Time will tell, but it looks inevitable.
And maybe Apple will end up with a music monopoly. It’s a long shot, but could happen.
Ed Sheeran is the biggest artist on Spotify worldwide. This is a bit of a surprise, but he’s killing it on the platform.
Look for more personalized ads coming from Pandora. Or just buy a subscription and go ad-free.
That’s the Music News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Have a great week ahead!
It wasn’t that long ago that A&R execs at record labels were scouring the online platforms, looking for acts with the high view numbers, page visits or Likes. All that’s changed as artists and their webmasters became more sophisticated in gaming the system by using bots or fake users to drive up their numbers. Today you can easily purchase big numbers of views or likes for a relatively small amount of money, but does that actually help you get that elusive record deal?
A&R departments are well aware of how it all works these days so as much as they want to see them, they’re wary of those big numbers. If that’s the case, what metric do they use then? Believe it or not, A&R execs are pretty much back to the way they did it in the pre-Internet days. They look for things like:
1. Do you actually draw an audience when you play a gig?
2 .Do you connect with an audience in a live show as well as you do in an edited video?
3. Are you charming and memorable in off-the-cuff interviews and interactions?
4. Do you actually sound good live?
If there’s a “yes” to all the above, then A&R will go online and look at the the artist’s online presence. If you have millions of views, for instance, even if some of those views are bought, chances are that there’s still a buzz happening and the label will take notice. Have lots of likes, shares and followers across a number of platforms, then that’s going to confirm that there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye.
Your online presence is important and it’s absolutely necessary, but it’s not the only thing when it comes to getting the music industry to notice you. A record deal can come from a massive online presence, but more and more it’s what’s on stage that counts.
Streaming gets all of our attention these days but there’s more to music distribution than that. Business Insider conducted a survey of adults in the United States and found some very interesting data about our very favorite music platform, Here’s what it found.
iTunes – 30%
Pandora – 23%
Spotify – 13%
Google Play – 12%
Amazon Prime Music – 9%
Apple Music – 7%
Other – 6%
Now don’t misunderstand these numbers. It doesn’t mean that people are buying songs from iTunes, just that they’re consuming what they’ve already purchased there.
There are some total surprises with these numbers though. First of all, Pandora rates almost twice as high as Spotify, and Google Play and Amazon Prime Music have similar usage numbers as Spotify. Apple Music still lags behind.
When we look at the year end streaming numbers from Nielsen and the IFPI it’s very easy to think that streaming is all everyone does these days, but as this study shows, there’s more to music consumption than that.
Some caveats with this data though. First, it’s from September of last year, and second, it takes into account all US adults. These numbers would be very skewed towards streaming if it looked at only Millennials and younger (those that listen to music much more than older adults). Still it’s important to keep in mind that as a popular music platform, iTunes isn’t dead yet.
Michael Carey started his career as a guitar player, but soon found his way into writing music for commercials. His credits there include Toyota, Ford, Sonic, Coke, Papa Johns, NASCAR, Exxon, and Outback Steakhouse among others, as well as on-air promo packages for CBS, NBC and TBS.
Michael missed album work though, as has since made his way back into songwriting, production and session work, and he’ll tell you about that journey in the interview of my latest podcast.
On the intro I’ll take a look at the biggest selling albums of all time in the US (Michael Jackson’s Thriller just went 33x platinum), and take an in-depth look at my 10 favorite compressors and why they made the list.
Well here’s a bit of good news. I know that most of us hate sitting through even the skippable 5 second pre-roll commercials that run before YouTube videos, let alone the 15 second ones that you have to watch all the way through. What’s even worse though, is having to watch a full 30 second ad that you can’t skip and seems to go on forever. It looks like YouTube now agrees with us as it recently stated that it will no longer allow 30 second un-skippable ads as of 2018.
The fact of the matter is that most people grow frustrated after about 10 seconds of an ad and leave for something else, especially if a timer tells them how much time is left. While that might be a factor, most observers feel that this decision isn’t based on users react to being held captive by an ad. They believe that the real reason that YouTube is taking these steps is because it’s fear of Facebook, which has recently revealed that it will soon only allow ads after a video has run for at least 30 seconds. That means no pre-roll ads, which I think will be a big selling point for users watching Facebook videos going forward.
That said, YouTube will still continue to have un-skippable ads, they just won’t be as long as 30 seconds. YouTube’s options for advertisers include ads that can only be skipped after five seconds, as well as un-skippable ads that run for 15 or 20 seconds. It also offers un-skippable bumper-style ads of up to six seconds.
Believe it or not, Google has said that those long video ads deliver results for advertisers even when users are able to skip the ads. Viewers who watched skippable ads all the way through, or for the full 30 seconds, were 23 times more likely to visit the advertiser’s channel and subscribe, and 10 times more likely to engage with it.
So even while they’ve been effective, the 30 second ad will soon become extinct on YouTube. 2018 can’t get here fast enough.
Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week of February 17th, 2017. A lot went on in the streaming world, although nothing that you’d classify as major.. Let’s get into it.
Spotify just signed a big new lease in NYC and plans to add 1,000 jobs. The is a curious move given recent rumors about its IPO running aground. Could an acquisition be in the works?
Spotify also made a deal with the New York Times. You now get a free Spotify account with every Times digital subscription. That means the company should break 50 mil subscribers by the end of the year.
Apple Music is “well past 20 million” now. Of course, they didn’t say how much past. The last figure was estimated at 20.9 million paid subscribers.
SoundCloud lost 2 top executives. That’s not a good sign for streaming service that’s the backbone of most indie musicians.
Pandora is really trying hard to become a premium product with paying subscribers. It’s hoping to get to 9 million subs by the end of the year. It might be a futile effort as it has a lot going against it at the moment, not to mention fierce competition.
Facebook ads will now play automatically with audio. Ads used to be muted and you had the option to unmute if you wanted. Now we go to the dreaded autoplay with audio, so we’ll all have noisier news feeds. Why? Facebook says the mobile uses want it that way!?#!
Facebook also wants to steal music away from YouTube. It’s trying to make the labels an offer they can’t refuse.
It looks like big changes are coming to music videos either way. Industry analyst Mark Mulligan points out the many ways this sector is changing.
The movement to have radio pay music artists may be coming to a head. The hope is that the new administration will take the side of the artists instead of the radio industry so artists will finally get paid for airplay (only the songwriters get paid currently).
Prince’s music is back on most streaming services. There’s no reason to hold it back if the estate could be making money.
That’s the Music News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Have a great week ahead!
It looked like Spotify’s strategy was to go public this year, but recent announcements have pretty much put that aside. The IPO (Initial Public Offering) market has changed recently, and tech companies can no longer be assured of the big paydays of just a few years ago. As a result it looks like the company’s new plan is to look for a buyer instead.
Now to be sure, Spotify has over $3 billion in revenue, but it also has been losing money as well. It currently has a lot of investors that want to cash out, and if an IPO is risky, then those investors are going to push for another way to get their money, which is through an acquisition.
Industry consultant Mark Mulligan thinks that a buyer probably won’t be Western. All the deep pocket companies like Amazon, Apple and Google already have their own services. Facebook is a possibility, but still not a good fit. Mulligan thinks that the only reason why Apple might be interested is to use up some of its off-shore cash reserves before it gets repatriated by the Trump administration, but that’s still a long shot. European companies don’t seem to be interested either.
That leaves Eastern companies and there are a number of them that could be potential suitors. China’s Tencent is already the streaming leader in the Asian market and the company has the money and the will for an acquisition. It would give the company an entrance into the West and immediately make it the 800 pound gorilla of music streaming.
There are a number of other Chinese companies also on Spotify’s radar. Alibaba, Dalian Wanda, and Baidu all have pockets deep enough to pull off an acquisition. Mulligan also suggests that a couple of telecommunications giants could also be in the running with SoftBank and India’s Reliance Communications being the most likely, although 21st Century Fox and Liberty Global may also see some synergy with Spotify in the fold.
One way or the other, it looks like Spotify is going to be going through some changes soon. How will that change its service? Probably not much actually. Until the license agreements with the major labels are renegotiated so the company can offer lower prices, things should still remain the same for some time to come.
Facebook may be the largest social network by far, but it appears to be suffering from a severe case of user fatigue in the United States. A recent study found that the satisfaction level of the platform has decreased across all age groups, with ages 35 to 44 decreasing the most.
Much of this has been traced back to the recent election, when more posts became political in nature. As a result, many users began to unfriend and unfollow in an effort to avoid the resulting online social confrontations that would happen. When that didn’t work well enough, many began to visit Facebook less and less, and now many have even fled the platform to other social networks.
Who’s the major beneficiary of this user fatigue? Instagram. One of the top 2 reasons why people use Facebook is to share photos and videos, and Instagram provides a perfect alternative.
The big question going forward is, “Will the number of negative posts decrease as we get further from the election, or will they maintain with the public so divided?” It’s too early to tell, but my guess is that we’re in a new world where the political differences are greater than ever, and Facebook posts will continue to reflect that.
That said, Facebook does have a very sophisticated algorithm that decides what you will see in your newsfeed. While there are reportedly thousands of factors involved in the algorithm, one of the major ones is what you tend to read or view. If you view politically oriented posts regularly, Facebook will gladly serve up more to you, so the simple way to avoid those types of posts is to stop reading them.
Unfortunately, most people don’t understand how the algorithm works and are inclined to react when they see something negative, so this will not work in in their or Facebook’s favor in the future, as more and more people flee to other platforms.