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

Music Industry News Roundup 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!

March 16, 2017

5 Steps To Get On Spotify And Apple Music Playlists

spotify playlistsGetting 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.

Money Is Getting Tight For SoundCloud

SoundCloud Plan BIt 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.

OWC’s Larry O’Connor On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Larry O'Connor OWCIf you’re a Mac computer owner then there’s a good chance that you’ve purchased hard drives, memory or accessories from Other World Computing or OWC (I know I have – a lot).

OWC founder and CEO Larry O’Connor joins me for a conversation about new and old Macs, upgrades, and performance enhancements on this week’s podcast. He’ll also tell us some surprising facts about hard drives that every computer owner (and that includes PC people) should know.

In the intro I’ll take a look how the fate of both Pandora and SoundCloud are now hanging in the balance, and at the increasing incidence of hearing loss in adults.

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

March 13, 2017

The Gatekeepers In The Way Of Getting Your Music On Commercials

More and more artists, bands and songwriters are interested in getting their music placed in a commercial, but unfortunately it’s not getting any easier. That’s because a wide array of gatekeepers stand in the way of any placement. A great article from Jordan Passman combined with the following infographic outlines just where the gatekeepers lie.

Music Gatekeepers infographic

As you can see from the infographic, there are two ways to get your music placed in advertising – either through an agency or directly to the advertisers. Going through an ad agency means that there’s a wide variety of people within that company that must give approval first before the advertiser even gets to hear the song. These include the agency music producer, spot producer, maybe the art director, the creative directors of the brand team, and the agency account team. They may go through as many as 300 songs before choosing one to send off the client for approval.

The song must then make it’s way through the advertiser’s junior and senior client teams, the brand marketing team and then the chief marketing officer or even the CEO. If the commercial tests well from there, it goes on air. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.

If you can skip the agency, the number of gatekeepers can be decreased by half, but it may just bypass the lowest execs on the totem pole. Regardless of how the song makes it onto a commercial, there’s a lot of many to be made for the songwriter, but the journey to get their is still a long road.

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 3/10/17

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week of March 10th, 2017. Nothing major, but a lot of interesting business tidbits this week. Let’s get into it.

Streaming music is a bad business according to this article. It is if that’s the only product you have. As I’ve explained before, it’s a loss-leader for Apple, Amazon and Google.

But the music business is a model for non-music businesses. Which means, learn by our mistakes.

Spotify is quietly A/B testing the pricing for a high-resolution tier. It’s called Spotify Hifi, and it will be either $5 or $10 more than the normal paid subscription.

And Spotify has hit 50 million paid subscribers. That said, it’s beginning to look like the streaming business is slowing down. Time to lower the price? That will give it the kick it needs.

Ed Sheeran is dominating Spotify. He breaks a single day record for streams with his new album, then tops a billion views on YouTube.

Nirvana’s Nevermind is still on the charts 350 weeks later. It has a way to go to top Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon ( 741 weeks), but that’s still pretty impressive.

Another indie artist goes #1. Move over Chance the Rapper, Stormzy hit the top of the charts in the UK.

Indie artists should not skip streaming. CD Baby’s CEO gives some pretty interesting numbers that just backs up what we all know – the music industry is quickly become all about the stream.

Songwriters are pushing hard for increased royalties from interactive streaming. It’s currently a pittance of a pittance, and they deserve more.

New York City is the center of the music universe. More ticket sales there than anywhere else, and it even has twice as many digital music startups than Silicon Valley or Los Angeles.

Iron Maiden is beating the scalpers. They’ve managed to bypass 3 of the top secondary ticket sellers in the UK. Quite an achievement!

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

March 9, 2017

5 Tips For Building Your Email List

email listYour email list is one of the most powerful online tools that an artist can have, but how do you build one if you’re just starting out or you’ve neglected it for too long? Here are 5 tips from my Social Media Promotion For Musicians book that provide an easy roadmap to a larger list.

“Just like with your social media follows and Likes, building your mailing list takes some work. In general it comes down to the following:

1. A trustworthy site. If your site or social page makes people uncomfortable in any way, chances are they won’t give you their email address.

2. An incentive of some kind. Generally speaking, people don’t want to give their address out unless they’re get something in return. Don’t think about the fact that you’re getting their email address, think of what’s in it for the fan. He only may care about regular communication, but usually access to something free (a song, video, ticket, ebook, article, etc.) gets better results. Be careful if you’re paying to advertise a signup for your list though. Both Google and Facebook have been know to consider this “email scraping,” which could lead to your advertising account being suspended if you trade something for an email.

3. Make it easy by not asking for too much information. The more info you ask from a potential subscriber, the greater the chance that he’ll give up during the signup process. Asking for just an email address gets the greatest response, but adding a first name allows you to include a personal greeting. More than a simple name and email address makes the chances of a successful signup decrease.

4. Cross-promote across social media, business cards, banners, and anywhere else you can think of. Anywhere you get a chance to mention your email list, do so.

5. Reminders in your content. Mention your mailing list in any podcasts, blogs, or videos, because sometimes even if it’s right in front of a viewer or listener, a reminder is still needed.

Your email list is extremely powerful for communicating, interacting, and promoting to your fans. Put sufficient time and effort into it and you’ll be richly rewarded.”

By the way, you can join the email list for this blog on the left.

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

Big Changes Are Coming To Pandora Soon

Pandora being sold?If you’re a Pandora user, the service that you know and hopefully love may very well be different in the next month. That’s because an investor revolt looks to be forcing the company’s sale, according to an enlightening expose’ by Music Business Worldwide, and that could come within the next two weeks by the way things are shaping up within the company.

Apparently on last Friday March 3rd new directors were scheduled to be nominated, and founder and CEO Tim Westergren’s tenure as a director was coming to an end. Since it was most unlikely that he would be renominated due to investor unhappiness, he managed to postpone the meeting was two weeks in order to gain some breathing room, which doesn’t normally happen in a publicly traded company.

The thought is that that newly appointed directors would force a sale (most likely to suitor Sirius XM) and force Westergren out as CEO. By postponing the meeting, Westergren has a chance to sell the company in that time period and keep his job, or that’s what the speculation would leave you to believe.

Pandora’s share price has taken a beating, dropping 22% since it’s IPO. It dropped 6% just in the last week after the chairman of Sirius XM parent company Liberty Media made a statement about Pandora being overvalued thanks to its operating loss of $343 million last year.

The big investors in Pandora no longer see a way to make the big money they were betting on and just want to get at least some of their money back as soon as possible, so they’re forcing the issue. That’s why you’ll see a change coming to Pandora one way or another very soon. It probably won’t go away as a company, but you can bet that by the end of the year it will be a far different service than it is right now.

Celebrate The 3rd Anniversary Of My Inner Circle Podcast With Guest Dennis Moody

Dennis MoodyToday is the 3rd anniversary of my Inner Circle Podcast and I’d like to thank you for being a loyal listener. I never envisioned getting to 150 episodes, but it’s all been made possible by followers like you!

Episode #151 brings back engineer Dennis Moody. Dennis was my first guest, and he’s celebrated every podcast anniversary with me since. As always, we look at the many trends that are happening in both the studio and live sound business. If you’re not familiar with Dennis, he’s the engineer to drumming gods like Steve Gadd and Dave Weckl, and also mixes live sound in arenas to clubs, so he has quite a history.

In the intro I’ll take a look at Spotify’s current A/B tests of its new Hifi tier, and at some killer vintage recording consoles with big histories that are now for sale.

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

Will SXSW Have International Artists Deported For Unofficial Shows?

SXSW immigration tweetA big controversy has popped up over a tweet (see below) that outlines the language in the latest SXSW artist contracts which stipulates stipulates “SXSW will notify the appropriate immigration authorities” if an international artist tries to play either an official or unofficial show without the proper work visa. As a result, a number of international acts have cancelled their appearances at this year’s event.

With all the hysteria of the Trump administration travel ban into the US fresh on everyone’s mind, any kind of contract language that outlines immigration policies is bound to upset some people, but the fact of the matter is that this is nothing new in terms of SXSW or any other promoter. All promoters know that they must comply with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) authorities, or things could get pretty miserable for them in short order. There’s been contract language to that effect in virtually all promoter’s contracts for decades when dealing with acts outside of the US. The promoter does not in any way want to be even remotely libel.

The fact of the matter is that SXSW has plenty on its plate already and being an ICE enforcer isn’t one of them. It’s never been known to report an act for a visa violation, and though they frown on unofficial shows, the festival has its hands full jsut making sure that its own shows run as planned.

Tweets have a way of riling people up and that’s happened way before the current president began posting. Celebrities, musicians, sports figures and politicians have been doing this ever since the service began, and this tweet is more of the same – an over-reaction rather than a look at reality.

So to break it down – 1. If you’re from outside the US, save yourself any possibility of a hassle and just get the proper work visa before you come to SXSW, and 2. If you get in trouble with ICE, SXSW will probably not be the cause of it.

You can read more about the controversy here, as well as read the reply from SXSW managing director Roland Swenson here.