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Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 4/28/17

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week ending on April 28th, 2017. There was a wide variety of news stories this week, from streaming struggles to hardware development to streaming royalties to radio. Let’s get into it.

Spotify has acquired the blockchain startup Mediachain Labs. The company wants to use blockchain technology to help with attributing streams to the correct owner, a problem that its been having for some time.

It’s also developing its own hardware. Reports are that Spotify wants to have its own version of Amazon’s Echo wireless speaker.

Streaming music is booming, so why is SoundCloud struggling? A look at why the service is losing its successful artist customers, and its valuation.

The Global Jukebox displays cultural data. It’s a very cool interactive representation of the music of the world. Take a deep dive into the data.

The music industry had a big year, but it could have been better. Income (or lack of it) from YouTube is still hampering the recovery process.

A look back at Record Store Day. Its founders take a look at how it all started, and answer the critics about why its going corporate.

The top 1% of artists make most of the revenue from recorded music. No surprise there, but the amount (77%) really is.

UMG has fewer employees than 10 years ago. That’s even after acquiring EMI. There seems to be a new round of layoffs every time you turn around even though the company is worth more today ($22 billion) than ever.

iHeartRadio will probably enter bankruptcy. It’s carrying way too much debt and bankruptcy may be the only way to turn its financial hardship around.

Radio stations have to have a studio on-site. It’s an FCC rule, but since we all work in the cloud today, an outdated one that needs changing.

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

April 27, 2017

10 Facebook Best Practices For Artists And Bands

Facebook Best PracticesFacebook is one of the best social networks for artists and bands, but execution is everything in order to take full advantage of it. Here are the 10 best practices for artists and bands to increase your engagement.

1. Reach out to other artists. Ask a band whom you’re tight with to post your new music video/track/album art to their wall with a link back to your Facebook Page, and then return the favor. This is one of the best ways to use the network to expand your audience.

2. Take your fans backstage. Everyone loves to see behind the scenes, but fans are especially interested. It might seem insignificant to you, but any kind of backstage access is a big deal to them.

3. Go beyond the music. Your music is your marketing, but don’t forget to make any merch or touring info available as well. That said, don’t try to sell to your fans, just make these things easily available if they want it.

4. Ask for input from fans. Communication is a two-way street and fans love to be asked their opinion on just about anything. Besides, they’re your fans so they know what they want.

5. Be as visual as possible. Music is an aural medium for sure, but either still or moving pictures add so much to the entire package that you can’t ignore them any more. Besides, it’s so easy to take pictures these days or make short videos with your smartphone, so you can’t use gear or expertise as excuses anymore.

6. Make everything an event. This is one of the secrets of multiple singles releases rather than full albums. Every release becomes an event. You can expand upon that idea in just about any direction, from gigs or giveaways on your birthday to your best fan’s birthdays, to making every gig a special occasion. Use your imagination.

7. Give as much as you take. Once again, communication is a two way street. Don’t just ask for things. You give some and you take some and vice versa. If you ask for information, give something away for free. This goes a long way in keeping your tribe happy.

8. Don’t forget the basics. Bios, press kits, pictures, and logos are still important, so be sure to have links to where people can get them if they want.

9. Offer exclusive content. The way to a fan’s heart is through exclusive content. If a fan can get exclusive mixes or movies that no one else can get, that legitimizes his or her fandom and makes them want it even more. Alternative mixes, outtakes, interviews are all inexpensive and easy to make content that any fan would love to have.

10. Use some tools. Make sure to take advantage of everything that Facebook has to offer, but also check out apps like Reverbnation for their event, sales and music plugins as well.

Following these 10 best practices will help to increase your Facebook fan engagement and your audience.

You can read more from Social Media Promotion For Musicians and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.

IFPI Numbers Show How The Music Industry Is Getting Healthy Again

IFPI music industry healthyThe annual IFPI revue of the music business confirms what all the other studies have shown – that music is truly on the comeback trail. After years of doom and gloom, the industry has seen its first double-digit rise in revenues in nearly 20 years, all thanks to streaming. The skeptics said it would never happen, but the numbers don’t lie, as a billion dollar increase in income shows that the format replacement cycle has finally has finally taken hold.

The IFPI found that there were 112 million paying streaming subscribers, which is a little higher than most other studies have found. The predictions were that once the industry got to 100 million subscribers then the pain from the death of the CD would be lifted, and the prediction proved to be true. The fact of the matter is that this 112 million figure should be just the tip of the iceberg, as there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

One of the things that industry analyst Mark Mulligan cited was the growth of streaming in South America. When the CD was king, most of the consumer’s money went into purchasing a player, then the user bought mostly inexpensive bootlegs CDs, which meant no money returning to the artist, label, songwriter and publisher. Streaming changes the whole equation though, since most people already own a smartphone, so subscribing to a free or paid tier is more affordable. The same is happening in other parts of the world as well. Chalk that up as a win for increased revenue and royalties. It also shows why that 112 million figure is just a drop in the bucket.

Just to put this all in perspective though, streaming numbers will have to increase in a big way, as the CD revenue is about to collapse in the both Germany and Japan. Of course, it’s still a big business in the U.S. at a little less than a billion dollars a year, but expect that number to fall off a cliff soon too, maybe even in 2017.

There are still a lot of inequities when it comes to streaming royalties, beginning with the way they’re currently calculated by the streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music to the minimal payments from YouTube, but strides are being made in both areas that can change the dynamic soon. Word is that 2017 has started off a little flat on the revenue side of things, but barring some unforeseen catastrophe, 2017 will end up being another good year for both streaming and the music industry.

Audio Builders Workshop Founder Owen Curtin On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Owen CurtinThe DIY ethic is running deep in the audio and recording business once again as a variety of manufacturers now provide kits to build everything from preamps to compressors to microphones to ???.

It’s a great way to not only learn how your gear ticks, but also get some great sounding gear at a very reasonable price as well.

Engineer and educator Owen Curtin has been on top of this trend, creating the successful Audio Builders Workshops that happen every 3 months or so in Boston.

Owen is my guest on the latest podcast, where he describes how the workshops came about, some upcoming themes, and some trends in DIY gear.

On the intro I talk about a new source of royalties for backup and session musicians, and some big changes that are coming to your wireless audio gear (you could be breaking the law if you’re not careful).

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

Neil Young Tries It Again With New Hi-Res Streaming Service

Neil Young XstreamTo say that Neil Young’s Pono download service and dedicated audio player was a failure is an understatement. The service was very late to be introduced, and by the time it became available, downloads had been swept aside by streaming. Young also underestimated the consumer market’s attraction to high-resolution, especially when the prices are much higher than what’s commonly available. As a result, the project was essentially stillborn.

You have to give it to old Neil though, as he’s trying it again, this time with a hi-res streaming service called Xstream. The problem is that the same market forces still exist, which makes the likelihood of the the service being a success a long shot at best.

There are a number of factors that make Xstream an uphill climb.

1. Most people can’t hear enough of enough of a difference between normal resolution and high-resolution material to make them want to pay the difference in price. Tidal found this out with its $20 a month streaming tier. You never hear about its number of subscribers because they’d be embarrassing. Audiophiles have no problem with paying the extra 10 bucks a month, but there just isn’t enough of them to make a significant contribution to the bottom line of a dedicated service at the moment.

2. You can’t go up against the extremely deep pockets of Apple, Google and Amazon (and even first-mover Spotify) unless you have the same deep pockets. Young himself admits that it’s been difficult finding investors to get the venture off the ground and that’s no surprise. Most seasoned venture capitalists are aware of what they’d be up against. It’s not only paying for the infrastructure of the service, but mostly for the marketing that’s daunting when in the shadow of Apple or Amazon.

3. Any of the major streaming services can launch its own hi-res tier at any time. Apple especially has been collecting hi-res masters for about 4 years now and could launch a new tier or even just raise the quality bar on its existing service, which would kill Xstream and Tidal in their tracks. VC’s are acutely aware of this, so you won’t be seeing much dough coming from Sand Hill Road (the home of Silicon Valley venture firms) to get a new streaming service online, especially one who’s only unique feature is high quality tracks.

4. There’s probably going to be some problems with the name, as there are other companies using the same name already.

But Neil Young is a music legend and he’s able to get a lot of publicity for a project almost at will, as is happening now. I have my doubts if Xtream will ever see the light of day though. In the end, you still have to have demand for a product. So far, it hurts me to say that high-resolution currently has none.

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 4/21/17

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week ending on April 21st, 2017. Spotify was much in the news this week, but there were a lot of other significant news stories as well. Let’s get into it.

Is the end of the free streaming tier near? It might be coming soon, especially if the music industry has its way.

Now indie labels can window releases too. Universal Music got its way with holding back star releases for the paid tier only, but the indie association Merlin just signed a similar deal with Spotify.

You’re the real product when you consume free music. It’s really your data that Spotify and other streaming services want.

Spotify had $2 billion in revenue last year, but still lost a bunch. And that’s why investors want that IPO as soon as possible.

YouTube is making it hard to be an artist on the platform. It’s shifting algorithms are really hurting creators, especially the outspoken ones.

Universal may go back on its deal with the Prince estate. Apparently the company doesn’t feel like it’s getting its money’s worth.

The nature of the music business has changed. It used to be major versus indie, but now it’s “quick versus slow” according to this interview.

Facebook’s Instant Articles may end up being a flop. Publishers are pulling out, saying that they get a better rate of return with direct links to their sites.

Believe it or not, the “golden age” of UK radio is upon is. There are more listeners than ever before, proving that radio doesn’t have to be old and stogy like in the U.S.

LiveNation is partnering with Mercedes for a VIP ticketing program. I guess it’s smart to go where the money is, but this won’t make concert tickets go anywhere but up.

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

The Importance Of Playlist Placement For Your Music To Be Discovered

Playlist placementWhile radio airplay used to be the lifeblood of a hit (and in some cases still is), today it’s the playlist that really sets the tone for listener discovery. If a track is added to a popular list, 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.

Not surprisingly, pay-to-play has come to the digital age as a new form of payola now attempts to influence what consumers listen to. Playlist promotion, or “playola,” has become a big part of the promotional campaigns for many managers and labels. In fact, prices for playlist promotion can be as little as $100 to a small blogger with a modest following, to as much as $10,000 for a six-week campaign for a major playlist owner. A quick Google search will find dozens of promotion companies that specialize in getting your songs on playlists just about anywhere.

Just like in the old days of radio promotion, competition is now fierce for these playlist spots, so don’t be surprised if the prices continue to rise.

While the playlist culture has been great for music discovery for the listener, it turns out it hasn’t been that great for artist development. Where before listeners were getting to know the artist’s music via multiple songs on an album, that’s all changed as streaming has made the business more song-driven instead of artist-driven. As a result, songs tend to come and go faster, as do artists. The good news is that means there are are always spots open on a playlist for new songs. The bad news is that it’s more difficult for an artist to get long-term traction as a result. Check out this post to improve your chances of getting placed on a popular playlist.

With 32 Million Subscribers Apple Music Is Challenging Spotify As Streaming Leader

Apple MusicWe keep reading about Spotify having more paid subscribers than just about any other service at 51 or so million, but it looks like Apple Music is not only catching up, but surpassing the service in many areas. A new survey from the media measurement company Verto Analytics actually puts Apple Music at the top of the list for monthly unique users in March, with Spotify coming in third behind Pandora. The study looked at adults over 18 only in the United States.

Apple Music is now reported to have 32 million subscribers, which is a huge jump up from the 20 million that was reported only at the beginning of the year. What’s more, it boasts almost 41 million unique monthly users in the US in March, which topped all other streaming services. What was interesting is that the top stickiness (the time spent on a listening session) went to Spotify at 25%, while it also topped out the monthly sessions per user at 51. Amazon Music came in at a strong 22% stickiness for second place, followed by Pandora at 21% and Apple Music at 19%.

Interestingly enough, Tidal was nowhere to be found among the leaders of this chart, despite having more publicity than just about any company not named Spotify.

What this shows is that while Spotify may have the worldwide lead in subscriptions, Apple is catching up fast, and Amazon Music may be even faster (with a reported 65 million subscribers thanks to its Prime service and Echo speakers). The disadvantage for Spotify is that its up against some deep pockets in Apple, Amazon and even Google (which came in at #9 on the chart below). These companies aren’t that concerned with making money from music as it’s not their core business, which makes them very difficult to compete against over the long haul.

The prediction here is that by the end of the year Apple Music and Spotify will be about equal in paid subscribers, but look for Apple to take the lead next year after Spotify goes public and its investors cash out.

Streaming Music Properties

Legendary Audio Designer Paul Wolff On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Paul WolffYou may not know my guest Paul Wolff’s name but you certainly know his products. As a former owner of the console company API, Paul was not only responsible for the acclaimed Legend and Vision series, but also the creator of the 500 series racks and modules, for which he was rewarded with a membership to the Tech Hall of Fame.

Since then he’s gone on to create Tonelux, and has designed products for Slate Audio, A Designs and Sunset Sound, among others. Currently he’s back in the console business with his own Fix Audio Designs as well as being the director of Product Development for Aftermaster.

I had a very enlightening conversation with Paul, where he described in detail, among other things, the technical differences between the sound of new and old analog gear, and the differences in the sound of the major console brands. If you’re an audio geek then you’re going to really enjoy this one!

On the intro I talk about the streaming service with the largest number of users (no, it’s not Spotify), as well as a look at the global loudspeaker market and trends.

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

TuneCore Direct Advance Offers Artists Automated Advances

TuneCore Direct AdvanceIt could be a sign that digital music aggregation has either grown up or is adopting a label model, but regardless of the reason, TuneCore has launched a program called TuneCore Direct Advance that offers automated advances to artists signed to distribution or publishing deals. This is certainly a first for this arm of the industry, and adds a major missing factor to the DIY aspect of digitally distributing music.

press release from the company states, “From recording new material to purchasing new equipment to funding a tour, TuneCore Direct Advance provides a simple way for artists to access advances at their convenience, 24/7 and on their own terms. In addition, this new advance model does not require artists to pledge ownership of their music, which is often the case with many competing services. With TuneCore Direct Advance, independent artists can have full control of their finances while still maintaining total creative control of their music.”

“This is a one-of-a-kind integrated offering that gives artists a hassle-free, reliable way to access their future earnings quickly and easily, eliminating the difficulty often associated with obtaining advances,” says Scott Ackerman, CEO at TuneCore.

“We are deeply invested in the careers of our artists and are committed to ensuring they have the tools and resources needed to succeed.”

The advances from TuneCore is made available via a partnership with Lyric Financial, and is available only to members in the US, and like most advances, are repaid from future sales where they’re automatically deducted from streaming and download earnings

Members can request a cash advance directly from their TuneCore Balance Page, which is based on current and forecasted earnings. There’s a one-time fee involved, but reportedly a qualified member can quickly receive the advance either through through PayPal or direct transfer to his bank account.

There are still a lot of unknowns about this program, like how much is the one-time fee and what it takes to qualify, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. Many artists prefer to see their money in a lump sum rather than small monthly payouts, so TuneCore Direct Advance is certainly a step in the right direction.