April 13, 2017

Developing Your Social Media Strategy

online strategyThe online world is so large and all-encompassing that it’s not uncommon for an artist to feel overwhelmed by it all. This usually leads to a scattered approach that isn’t nearly as effective as it could be. In this video from my new Social Media Promotion For Musicians, Artists, And Engineers course on Lynda.com, we’ll look at some basic steps to take to develop an online strategy that really works.

The Reason Why YouTube Pays Artists So Little

YouTube user generated contentThe recorded music business is rejoicing at the fact that after more than a decade, it finally has some strong revenue growth. The best part is that the growth looks like it will continue, as paying for streaming has finally gone mass market and listeners have seem the light of the benefit of paying at least a little every month to enjoy their favorite songs. That said, all this growth comes with little help from YouTube, which still pays artists at a lower rate than every other streaming service.

According to the RIAA and just about everyone else who’s done a survey, YouTube pays around $1 per thousand plays, while Spotify may pay as much as $7 for the same number. That’s a huge disparity and it’s something that all record labels have been wrestling with for some time. YouTube hasn’t been terribly cooperative in these discussions, giving a “This is all we have. Take it or leave it,” response in just about any licensing negotiation.

How does it get away with it when other streaming networks can’t? The key here is that YouTube is primarily a user generated service. If a label was to refuse a license to to the company, its songs would still appear thanks to user uploads. The label can ask for a take down, but as soon as that happens, another one, or 10, pop up. This puts YouTube in a strong position to low-ball on any licensing agreement.

Of course every other streaming service plays by different rules. Their lifeblood are the songs that they’re only able to play thanks to the licensing agreements with the labels. No license, no songs to play. Users can’t upload their own content (legal or otherwise), so the user generated nature of the way YouTube works just doesn’t exist elsewhere.

All this means that YouTube probably won’t be paying much more than it already is in the future, much to the dismay of labels and artists alike. The only good thing in all of this is that there’s some evidence that we’re reached “peak YouTube” and more and more people now prefer to get their music on a dedicated service. That probably won’t have much of an impact on your bottom line if you’re an artist though. It’s still way too little, with no sign of getting better.

Mastering Engineer Gavin Lurssen On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Gavin LurssenGavin Lurssen started as a protege of the great mastering engineer Doug Sax (the very first indie mastering guy) but quickly forged his own way and sound, first at the famed Mastering Lab, then at his own Lurssen Mastering in Hollywood.

Along the way he’s mastered projects for everyone from Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crowe, Miranda Lambert and Elvis Costello, among many others, plus he’s won 4 Grammy awards for his work. Gavin is also a governor of the LA chapter of the Recording Academy, and now has his own mastering plugin from IK Multimedia.

We had a great conversation on mastering that I think you’ll really like.

On the intro I talk about YouTube’s new requirement of 10,000 views before you can get paid, and what we know about the upcoming release of the new Mac Pro desktop.

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

Would You Pull Your Music Off The Radio?

pull music off radioAlmost from the beginning of the industry, recording artists have complained about not being compensated for radio airplay. Sure, songwriters get paid, but artists and labels never receive a dime. This is a phenomena unique to the United States, since in most other countries artist compensation has long been settled. While legislation to pay artists has been put forward from time to time over the years, the powerful NAB has managed to squash it every time. However, a new bill that thinks outside the box on the subject may finally bring the broadcasters to the table.

Last week a bipartisan bill called the PROMOTE Act (Performance Royalty Owners of Music Opportunity To Earn Act) was reintroduced to Congress with an interesting twist that could make radio broadcast very interesting for a while. The bill gives a label the right to pull its music a radio station if it chose to do so. Of course, the reason that it would do that is so that the broadcaster would ultimately pay for the privilege of airing it.

This could be interesting if a label pulled its big hits off a station, but imagine if it pulled its entire catalog? On the other hand, do artists feel secure enough knowing that a large group of potential fans might never be exposed to their music?

Broadcasters have always maintained that although artists and labels don’t get paid from radio airplay, what they do receive is substantial promotion in return which could make or break a career. This has been true through the decades, and is even true today as radio is still the number one place that people discover new music. That said, with streaming music having more and more influence on the typical listener, that perspective might be changing (Ed Sheeran and Drake haven’t seemed to need it lately).

If a major radio station suddenly wouldn’t have the latest Maroon 5, Taylor Swift or Katy Perry single, would that force listeners away and into streaming’s waiting arms? If it were your career, would you be willing to risk eliminating a huge potential audience as part of the battle to force broadcasters to pay?

These are some of the deep questions for all involved, but should the bill pass (and there’s no guarantee that it will), it will make radio a lot more interesting than it is today.

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 4/7/17

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week ending on April 7th, 2017. It’s been another big week in the world of streaming, but there’s other news as well. Let’s get into it.

Streaming is now making more money than downloads ever did. And Steve Jobs said it would never happen. Some good charts and comparisons here, but it just goes to show how much the music business has changed in 10 years.

The music business is still unsure about it though. That’s basically because it’s still run by execs that may be a little too “old school” for their own good.

But streaming may be overtaken by artificial intelligence. Don’t bet on it being soon however.

There are 4 ways it could happen. And the article is probably right – it’s just the timing that we don’t know about.

The UMG/Spotify deal is a bigger deal than you think. Mark Mulligan outlines why this is really a big deal for both parties other than what’s been publicized. He says it ushers in a new era of licensing agreements.

The windowing part of the deal is bogus. Bob Lefsetz makes a great point that it will only alienate users, and he has a point.

Pandora is losing audience. Fewer visits and less time spent is a bad sign as it loses users to Spotify.

Spotify may be looking to become a label. But despite what this article says it can’t go into competition with the major labels yet.

You can’t trust Facebook’s numbers. It seems to fudge things by 10 to 15%. But advertisers (the lifeblood of the service) are catching on.

And Beats 1 is not the biggest radio station in the world. Apple fudges the facts as well.

YouTube is changing its advertising and everyone is making less money. Advertisers aren’t happy and content creators big and small are besides themselves. Mark my words, we have now passed “Peak YouTube.”

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

April 6, 2017

The Best Hashtags For Instagram Promotion For Artists And Bands

Instagram promotionAccording to Nielsen Research, if you want want to reach music lovers, Instagram is one of the best platforms to use for promotion. Why? Well first of all, Instagram users are huge music fans, and spend 42% more money on music and listen 30% more than the general population. In fact, the typical Instagram user spends a surprising $269 per year on music, which is about twice as much as the average music fan that subscribes to a streaming service. That’s what makes Instagram promotion so valuable.

Hashtags are an essential part of Instagram marketing and promotion, so it’s important that you’re familiar with how they work on the platform. Contrary to all other networks, on Instagram, the more hashtags you use, the better. That’s because hashtags are the primary way you build a community on the platform. Believe it or not, between 7 and 11 hashtags get the most engagement, according to most studies.

That said, make sure you do some research as to which hashtags you’ll use. Hyper-focused hashtags will put your images in front of a more interested audience. That means that you should use hashtags relevant to music, and to your music and brand in particular.

Three ways to search for new hashtags include hashtagify.me, websta.me/search, or picodash.com. Some of the most popular music related hashtags include:


The best hashtags for getting new followers are:

#tbt (Throwback Thursday)

Finally, don’t forget to include a custom hashtag of you or your band, if your following is large enough, and consistently use it on all your posts.

Hashtags constantly change in popularity depending upon the current trends, so make sure you do regularly searches just to be sure that you’re using the best ones for your posts so that your Instagram promotion remains viable.

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

Spotify Gets A New Deal With Universal Music

universal musicAs I’ve written in other posts, Spotify wants to do a public offering this year but won’t be able to do that until it signs new licensing agreements with each of the major labels. It looks like the first of those agreements has come to pass with the reported signing of Universal Music.

The fact is that Spotify was not in a particular position of power here, so had to make some concessions that under other circumstances (like not having an impending IPO to think about) it would probably not agree to. One of the biggest is that it has agreed to make new album releases available only on its paid tier, something that the company has stated it would never acquiesce to in the past. This “windowing” is for two weeks and begins today. New singles will still be available across both the free and paid tiers.

One of the more interesting reported terms is that Spotify is said to have set subscriber growth targets in return for a reduced royalty payment. No one is saying exactly what those subscriber milestones are, but the company must feel very comfortable with them in order to place it in the agreement. It’s presumed that the payments will increase if Spotify doesn’t meet those goals, but there could also be a penalty involved or maybe even an increased staked in the company.

This is only the first of the agreements that Spotify has to have in place prior to its IPO. There’s still Sony and Warners as well as Merlin for indie content. That said, one would think that the other agreements would be similar to the one with Universal Music, as most labels require a “favored nations” clause that requires everyone to get the same terms.

If Spotify can’t get these agreements in order, it could shoot down its IPO, as there would be too much future financial uncertainty for investors or underwriters to sign on. This is a good first step.


Alesana Guitarist And Revival Recordings Founder Shawn Milke On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Shawn MilkeShawn Milke’s band Alesana had been touring almost non-stop since 2004 when he decided to tap the brakes and get off the road for a bit. This resulted in the creation of Revival Recordings, which lives by the inspirational mantra “Good Music By Good People.” Now with distribution through Artery/Sony Red, the label continues to grow and prosper despite the indie business climate.

Shawn also published his first novel Annabel last year, and hopes to launch the Revival Rock School later this year. He’s an interesting guy and we had a great talk on the latest episode #155.

On the intro I take a look at the great revenue numbers of the U.S. music business last year (there’s a lot of people jumping for joy), and at the 10 most important criteria for an assistant engineer (or studio owner).

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

Happy Days – US Music Growth The Most In 20 Years

Music sales growthIn record label executive offices across the U.S. there’s rejoicing as the latest RIAA numbers show a double digit increase in revenue for the first time in almost 20 years. The latest figures show that the recorded music market in 2016 brought in $7.7 billion, up a bit more 11% over the previous year. And guess what? Despite what the many naysayers had predicted, the growth is all because of streaming.

Streaming contributed $3.9 billion to the total revenue in 2016, which was up 69% from the year before. And get this – it now makes up 51% of the recorded music business, which is the first time it’s crossed that mark in the U.S. There’s even more good news though. There were 431.74 billion (with a B) streams counted by Nielsen Music (which includes video and audio on-demand streams), and the average per-stream rate went up to $0.0072. To put that number in perspective, that number last year was $0.00517, and in 2014 it was $0.00666.

One of the downsides of the streaming numbers is that fact that YouTube no longer reports all of its streams to Nielsen Music. Last year it began to report streaming data on artists whose music has over 1,000 views a day. That means that a lot of the streaming data is going unreported, something that’s bound to bring about some gnashing of teeth in label board rooms.

As you would expect, CD sales are now rapidly declining to the point where just 99.4 million full-length CDs were sold in the United States. Although that was worth $1.2 billion, which is nothing to sneeze at, it still marked the first time since 1986 that fewer than 100 million were sold. Top that off with the fact that downloads were down 22% last year to $1.8 billion, and you can see that it’s a good thing that streaming has picked up the slack.

The numbers show that the vinyl fad looks like it has peaked though, as sales revenue grew just 3.5% to around $430 million, based on a 1.8% growth of unit sales to 17.2 million. To put that into perspective, vinyl growth averaged 38 percent a year from 2012 through 2015, according to Nielsen Music numbers.

So overall, the music business is now picking up steam in the right direction. Hopefully the growth trend will continue.

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 3/31/17

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week ending on March 31st, 2017. There is less news about streaming than in past weeks, but there’s still lot of very interesting items nonetheless. Let’s get into it.

New music is cool, but it’s old music that sells. The weekly Top 50 is only worth less than 4% of the total music revenue pie, and gets most of the audio and video streams.

Warner Records just launched a vinyl-only label. The difference is that all the releases are selected by fans.

Whatever happened to Generation X? They joined the ranks of the Baby Boomers, that’s what. Interesting story of the transition here.

We’ve said it before, Pandora is in trouble. The problem is that the major labels aren’t too thrilled with the prospect as they might have been before.

5 ways Spotify is gaining leverage over the major labels. It needs all the leverage it can get because it still also needs those new label licensing deals.

Can Snapchat change the music business? I have my doubts, but this article thinks it’s possible.

Every hear of a record store crawl? There’s one coming to New York City in April and 11 more cities during the summer.

A battle is shaping up at the US Copyright Office. And it could have a big affect on the music business.

iHeartRadio now has more than 100 million users. Doesn’t matter, the company still has big financial problems.

Sad to say, but music education appears now to be only for the white and wealthy. With all the money spent on other things that are frivolous in the grand scheme of things, you’d think that there’d be a little money for something so essential.


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