Monthly Archives: March 2017
Monthly Archives: March 2017
Unless you live in a big media center like NY, LA or Nashville (or any big city for that matter), most artists and songwriters probably don’t have access to the caliber of musicians needed to really make their tracks as good as they can be.
A company called Custom Tracks is trying to change that though, allowing you to submit your song so a crack team of studio professionals can craft it while you watch and listen online in real time. On the latest episode of my Inner Circle Podcast, founder Dane Myers gave me the rundown of how Custom Tracks came about, and how it all works.
In the intro I’ll take a look at some very interesting Internet statistics that might blow your mind, and how a new study found that the physicality of playing music live means so much to musical performances, as well as the new trend of Jymmin (what, you haven’t heard of it?).
You’d think that owning music is a thing of the past, yet the iTunes music store still does over a $1 billion a year selling downloads. Streaming may be putting a big hit on downloads, but a new online store called Voltra is coming at it with a new approach that might benefit both music consumers and artists alike.
Voltra allows users to listen to an entire song once for free, and then pay a small fee for each consecutive listen. After the 10th play, the track is fully paid for and officially owned by the user. Best of all, the dreaded 30 second preview is gone from the service and there are no ads. You listen for free, then if you like the song, you then begin to pay for it.
Voltra users also has a premium membership tier for the typical $10 a month. The stream-to-own deal is still the same, but the user’s files are automatically backed up to Amazon’s Glacier storage. The advantage here is that if a user cancels the account, there’s little danger of losing your music like with some other services.
How is this better for artists? Artists who sign directly with Voltra will receive 100 percent of their earnings, since the company doesn’t deduct a commission from their song profits. And it’s free to upload your music as well. Reportedly an artist can earn 99 cents after only 10 streams on Voltra, compared to 226 streams on Spotify, 134 on Apple Music, and 146 on Google Play, so it’s a pretty good deal. Artists and labels can also opt out of this stream-to-own option, but so far it looks like most in the service’s catalog are going along with it.
The problem is that Voltra is just launching and the service’s desktop and mobile players are in beta (they’re free to download). According to the company there’s about 5,000 users in the beta program and a song catalog of around 3 million so far.
This is a pretty cool idea. Let’s see if this gets some traction. Find out more at Voltra.co.
Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week of March 24th, 2017. Spotify gets a lot of attention because it’s getting serious about its upcoming public offering, but lots of other news as well. Let’s get into it.
Spotify is nearing a new licensing deal with the major labels. It’s been out of contract for the last 2 years, but needs to reup before its IPO this year.
The Street takes a grownup look at Spotify’s current financial situation. There are a lot of forces currently at work here that are pushing Spotify to make deals that it might not want.
Speaking of Spotify, it’s collecting a huge amount of data from you. It doesn’t care much if you stream for free because it’s learning so much about you that it’s turning into cash.
Voltra has a different approach to monetizing music, both for the consumer and artist. The question is, will it survive against the deep pocketed services that have a big head start?
Just after you thought no one can top Ed Sheeran, here comes Drake again. He breaks both Apple Music and Spotify records with 90 million streams in 24 hours for his latest release.
Vinyl versus streaming – the future. Experts predict what may happen to both, but they’re actually pretty vague, and I think off the mark.
Discogs is bringing record collecting into the 21st century. Although there are many who go along kicking and screaming.
Google Hangouts gets a makeover. It’s not only going after Slack, but WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger as well.
LiveNation has acquired 13 companies in 13 months. The latest is the UK’s Isle of Wight festival. Talk about a rollup.
Radio is listened to at the same rate in all age groups. Surprising numbers from Nielsen, but these numbers have been holding steady for years.
That’s the Music News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Have a great week ahead!
A new strategy in music releases is beginning to take place, even within the major labels. In almost a return to the early days of records, the single song is king rather than the album, and that requires an entirely new look at the timing of when your material becomes available.
The basic premise of this new philosophy is to release fewer songs but have them come out more frequently. In other words, it’s better to release a song or two every six, eight, or twelve weeks than to wait a year for one album release of ten songs as was once done. This benefits the artist in the following ways:
Make no mistake, the album format is not dead in Music 4.0, even though sales continue to decrease, but the emphasis has shifted to the individual song. Not only that, the tastes and attention span of audiences today are shorter and shorter, which makes multiple releases an ideal fit with the lifestyle.
No one is saying that you can’t release an album; just that multiple singles at regular intervals before the album release works better in today’s marketplace. Choose your music releases wisely in order to take advantage of the current streaming and social media world.
You can read more from The Music 4.1 Internet Music Guidebook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.
We like to think that everything about music is built around the tastes of the people that are both creating and listening to it, but that outlook seems to be increasingly out of step with reality. Artificial intelligence is being used more and more for all sorts of things that control our lives, so why shouldn’t what we listen to not be one of them? In this video from the BBC series The Secret Science of Pop, you’ll see that there’s already an algorithm that’s predicting the next chart hit. The scary part is that no human actually listened to the songs involved. The world has certainly changed from the old days when a hit could be picked by a local DJ who played a song until the rest of the world caught on.
If you were going to show someone how to make it in the music business, you’d point to engineer and mixer Drew Drucker as the perfect example.
Drew graduated from recording school, then worked his way up in the business by starting as a runner and moving up the ladder thanks to hard work, paying his dues and some good timing. His client list now includes some of hip-hop and R&B’s biggest stars including Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J, Travis Barker, Bruno Mars and B-Real, among many others.
We really got down in the weeds when it comes to Drew’s mixing and recording techniques in this interview, so expect a lot of details.
In the intro I’ll take a look at the surprising top selling vinyl records from 2016. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over this one. I’ll also look at a pre-session checklist that every producer and studio owner should follow to make that first session run smoothly.
Music is a big part of the nightlife of any city, but venues everywhere have been seriously threatened by rising real estate costs, noise control laws, and city taxes. Luckily, many cities are finally waking up to the fact that a city without music is a far less attractive destination or place to live, and the effort is being make to save local music venues.
London has a master plan in place to save its existing music venues, and is even creating a new position of Night Czar. Even so, local tax increases still threaten to close down many pubs and music venues.
Philadelphia has introduced a new Music Industry Task Force to try to reestablish the city as the music center that it once was, and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has created a new initiative to bring more music to the city as well. Denver has a particularly thriving music scene these days that’s often overlooked by everyone but touring musicians in the know.
Yet venues everywhere struggle against against gentrification, which not only raises real estate prices beyond what a venue can reasonably pay, to local condo owners complaining about the loud music and patrons as well.
Clubs have a definite lifespan, and one that makes it beyond 5 years might be considered living on borrowed time, but the challenges facing club owners today are greater than ever. Increased liability for drunken customers, DUI laws that limit consumable beverages putting an artificial limit on revenue, and a limited number of acts that can actually draw a crowd put extreme pressure on anyone running a club.
But clubs and small music venues are the farm team of the music business. It’s where young artists and bands develop their musical and performance chops, build their followings, and hone their shows. They’re vital to survival of the industry as a whole, so everyone should shed a tear for any venue that closes. That said, at least there’s a newfound awareness regarding the fragile nature of the music culture by many cities that just wasn’t there before, and that could only be a good thing.
Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week of March 17th, 2017. There’s lots of interesting speculation on new services, and not a mention of Spotify for once. Let’s get into it.
Facebook trying to solve “social music.” No one else has cracked it, but the company is taking music very seriously.
Will AI and chatbots disrupt the music industry? AI is already being used for streaming recommendations, but there may be other places for it as well.
Ed Sheeran claimed 9 of the top 10 chart spots in the UK. And 16 of the top 20, and that’s worrying a lot of people. Are free streams are screwing up the charts because they’re weighted the same as paid streams? Apple’s Jimmy Iovine has a lot to say on this.
Is Taylor Swift getting into the streaming business. She just filed for 9 trademarks for “Swifties,” but all we know is that it’s for a website. Speculation runs high here.
Pandora finally launched its premium tier. The company tries to capitalize on its 175 million users, but is this too little too late?
Alibaba to launch an artist management company. The Chinese company is going global and has committed to spending more than $7 billion on entertainment in the next 3 years. Look out Google, Apple and Amazon.
Airbnb is getting into the music business. It’s launched its “Music Experience” which provides not only accommodations, but prime tickets as well. Now available in 12 cities but soon expanding to 40 globally.
And Amazon is getting into the festival business. No announcement, just a job posting about wanting to dramatically improve the festival experience. Who wouldn’t be for that?
Google Play Music has new audio playback options. You can now change between 4 different levels of audio quality, which suggest some hi-res music in the future. The problem is there’s no explanation about the specs.
You’ll be shocked at the top vinyl records in each state. Classic rock still rules, which is kind of sad in a way. I like the fact that vinyl buyers understand the quality of the musical period, but it’s time for some new blood.
That’s the Music News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Have a great week ahead!
Getting your music placed on playlists is now an important part of an artist’s release strategy. If a track is added to a popular playlist, its streams will spike and listeners will add it to their personal playlists, which sometimes adds a viral element that spreads to playlists on other networks as well. What’s more, hot playlists are now watched by radio programmers to see both what’s trending and what’s not. That being said, Spotify and Apple Music playlists are getting harder and harder to crack, especially if you’re not on a major label. Here are a few tips that can land you a spot on a playlist from Spotify or any other playlist.
1. Verify your profiles with Spotify and Apple Connect
The first thing you have to do is make sure you have a presence on the service itself. Playlist curators, especially if they’re in-house, are reluctant to feature anything by artists who’ve not verified their profiles on the streaming platforms.
2. Get as many of your fans as possible to follow you on the streaming platform
You don’t need millions of followers or streams, but you don’t need enough to get a curator interested. They want to know that you have a buzz around you before they take a chance.
3. Get the rest of your digital house in order
If a curator is interested in your music, he or she will probably check you out further by looking at your website, photos, social media, upcoming gigs and all the things that we’ve talking about on this blog. Here’s where that all comes into play.
4. Find some playlists to follow
Find some playlists that you love and begin to follow them with the idea of learning if your music is a fit. Don’t limit yourself to Spotify’s in-house curators. In this game, everyone counts because the idea is to ultimately get on a number of smaller playlists first so you’ll be noticed by the Spotify team. Also make sure to follow them on social media, and make comments where and when you can.
5. Make your pitch
Make sure that the playlist owner is well aware of you before you begin your pitch. You’ll be taken much more seriously if you’re recognized as a supporter rather than someone just cold-calling. Send a personally crafted email to the playlist owner or curator. Make it brief and to the point and tell them why you think you song is perfect for their list. Be as specific as you can and avoid being long-winded. If a curator has a submission policy, make sure that you follow it to the letter or chances are your submission won’t even be read.
Remember that some curators for the larger lists make their selections in a closed system, so they don’t want pitches and they’ll usually make that clear in their submission policy. If that’s the case, respect their wishes and don’t hassle them. The only way you’re going to get to them is if you begin to get on a lot of other playlists so your buzz will be noticed.
It looks like Pandora isn’t the only streaming company having big financial problems. SoundCloud is reported to now be in a do or die situation where it must either raise some serious cash or sell for pennies on the dollar. The company has been trying to raise $100 million to keep the doors open for almost a year now with no success, and it hasn’t been able to find a buyer in that time either.
One of the reasons why a buyer hasn’t stepped up is that SoundCloud valued itself too highly, reportedly seeking $700 million, but now that number is said to have decreased significantly. The company has raised about $250 million so far (including $70 million from Twitter), so now any offer over that number will be considered, which just goes to show how dire the circumstances seem to be.
One of the big problems is that although SoundCloud reportedly has 175 million users, not many of them pay for the service. They’re mostly indie artists who use it has a repository for their music, and while that serves a major slice of the market, it’s not necessarily one that has been successfully monetized yet. Plus, that 175 million figure hasn’t been updated in 3 years, so it’s possible that its now even lower.
The company has tried to boost its revenue by launching two paid tiers, one $10 per month and the other more recently for $5, which hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. That’s because most music consumers go to the one of the larger services first before they consider SoundCloud, and just like any other streaming service, it’s very difficult to get someone to either buy an additional service or change from the current one that they’re using.
All this means that it’s entirely likely that the streaming landscape will face even bigger changes in the coming months. SoundCloud plays an important part in the indie music environment, but if you’re an artist, it might not be a bad idea to have a plan B ready.