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Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 12/2/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week of December 2nd, 2016. We’re still in Holiday Hangover so news is light again this week. The fact of the matter is that activity drops off substantially from Thanksgiving through about the 2nd week of January. There is some news to report though, so let’s get into it.

iHeartRadio is releasing its new music service. It’s pretty innovative in that it allows you to replay any song you hear from a radio station in the app. There’s also a Save button that allows you to save a song to a playlist to listen to latter. Just $4.99 per month.

Pandora hasn’t launched its interactive service yet, but it’s trying hard on the non-interactive side. The problem is, will anyone notice or care?

Soundcharts is a new service that measures music consumption across 2600 charts. This includes streaming services and radio stations across the world. The first month is free, but they have plans down to the artist level.

Music can make us sick. This is a paper on the surprising number of artists and musicians that suffer from depression or similar mental illness.

The impact of social media on the music industry looks at the obvious, but it’s still a worthwhile read. The problem is that it looks at exclusively on big names, when a little down market focus would have been nice.

Autonomous cars are coming, and the music industry should take notice. We’ll have a lot more time to concentrate on listening when we don’t have to worry about driving.

Artist’s are making a lot of money from Spotify plays, and this article shows you just how much. Go to the bottom and check out the list of the top 25.

Some public radio powerhouses have banded together to launch VuHaus. It’s a non-profit video streaming site filled with music performances. Seems like a great idea.

That’s the Music News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

November 9, 2016

Why Does A Big Arms Dealer Own A Piece Of Pandora?

Lockheed-Martin invests in PandoraIt’s safe to say that if you’re involved in music, the last thing you think about is making war. That’s why it comes as a great surprise to discover that the world’s largest arms dealer, Lockheed-Martin, owns 184,000 shares of Pandora worth almost $2 million. To be sure, this is a drop in the bucket for both companies, but it’s still a curiosity.

According to Music Business WorldwideLockheed Investment Management Co, the investment arm of the company, routinely invests in tech companies that it feels might make a future breakthrough. At some point, Pandora looked like it fit into that category, although these days the company is more follower than leader. You also have to wonder what the synergy is between the two companies, since a music streaming company is about as far away from selling state-of-the-art arms systems to large countries like the United States, Germany and Japan, just to name a few, than you can get.

It’s also interesting that Lockheed sold 4,000 shares of Pandora at the end of September, which the company reported in an SEC disclosure at the beginning of November, which is how MBW discovered the investment.

According to Crunchbase, Pandora raised $64 million of funding before it went public in 2011, so Lockheed’s $2 million is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. And of course, when you look at it from Pandora’s standpoint, when you need money to stay in business or grow, you don’t necessarily care where it comes from. It’s also unknown if the company’s investment came before or after Pandora went public.

The investment seems at odds with both Lockheed’s propose in life, and music in general, though. Music, and the people associated with it, has always been more about peace, love and understanding than blowing everything to bits with weapons and making money from it.

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 10/28/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup from the week of October 28th, 2016. As always, it’s a mixed bag of different industry items that caught my eye. Let’s do it.

Pandora lost a lot of money and listeners in the last year. The company may be transitioning to a full interactive platform, but it could be too late to be a real competitor in the space by the time it finally gets it done.

Spotify video isn’t doing too well. It got almost no traction, so the company is cutting ties with some of its providers, while claiming that it’s still in the game.

Soundcloud grows a bit. And it claims it’s all thanks to getting people to pay.

Twitter is discontinuing Vine. Could this be a sigh of things to come, now it’s killing is short-form video app?

Georgia is trying to bring in more music projects. It may pass a law that will provide incentives to producers and artists to record there. Sounds like a good thing, but other states have tried this as well and have halted it after a few years. It never has the effect that either the state or the producers hope it will have.

The first virtual reality music release is here. Universal Music jumps in the game first with something new from Avenged Sevenfold.

MTV adds fan livestreams. In an effort to stay relevant, MTV will allow fans to livestream starting with a full-time show on MTV Australia (although it was tested in the US this last year as well).

Radio tries some audio sharing. One of the things that bums people out about radio is that they can’t share something they like with their friends. Maybe they now can with these new apps.

Radio online made easier. A better way to listen to radio streaming as well with something called Radioplayer.

Piracy is supposedly up again. How? Streaming ripped off of YouTube. I don’t believe it, personally. Piracy is always going to be there, but for most people it’s far more convenient to get it for free from Spotify or a similar service, so why bother with the hassle.

Selling songs without selling out. You don’t always have to be aggressive with your networking and marketing to get your songs placed.

That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 10/14/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup from the week of October 14th, 2016. Streaming is back in the news this week as Amazon and Pandora both launched new services. There’s so much more though that you could easily have missed. Let’s get to it.

Amazon finally launched its stand-alone streaming service. But is the company taking after Apple and using it to sell hardware?

Pandora launches it’s new service too. Not to be outdone, Pandora finally launched its interactive service as well as a total rebranding. It was curious that it launched on the same day as Amazon though. It was pushed down the list of news as a result.

Apple Music’s Jimmy Iovine hints at things to come. He’s claiming that we’re going to love the upcoming features and upgrades to Apple Music, but then again, he’s always been a salesman.

Doing an artist deal with Apple may not be what’s it’s cracked up to be. It seemed like a good deal at first, and the money was good, but in the end Anohni feels that the company tempered her political style.

Is canned music on the way out? An organization in the UK is trying to ban elevator music, blaming it for noise pollution and world-wide hearing loss.

Michael Jackson topped the list of dead celebrity earners. That was mostly because of the sale of his publishing to Sony Music so this might be a one time only thing.

Will Emotional Radio save the medium? This new smart radio senses your mood via artificial intelligence and programs it accordingly.

Speaking of radio, BBC 1 is losing all its best DJs. It’s shaping up as a big problem as it’s affecting the ratings.

Streaming exclusives may be here to stay. Labels hate them and there’s evidence that they don’t actually boost an artist’s album, but the evidence says they’re not going way.

A new agreement opens the door to unofficial mixes on Spotify and Apple Music. The contract with Dubset sets the stage for more indie artists and more music that haven’t been able to get on the platforms before.

That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

September 16, 2016

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 9/16/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the music industry news roundup from the week of Sept 16th, 2016. There’s a lot of news in the streaming space, but also some interesting news with club music in Australia and the UK charts as well.

Tidal had huge loses last year. It appears that the streaming service is not doing well and burning around $2 mil per month. No wonder Jay-Z is looking for a buyer.

And it has a lot of unpaid bills. Over 100 in fact, including rent, accountants, recording labels, advertising agencies, and just about everything else you can think of. Tidal was never a serious streaming contender, and was only a money play for Jay-Z that looks like it’s not going to turn out well.

Why hasn’t Apple Music introduced hi-res music yet? It seems that the introduction of the iPhone 7 would have been the perfect time, since the transition over to digital earphones is now underway and audio reproduction is a big feature.

Pandora announced a number of licensing deals. With everyone except Warner Music, that is. Even most of the indie labels are now licensed, which leads you to believe that its new service will be launched just about any time now.

Spotify wants to go public, which means a change in service. The streaming leader may get rid of the free tier to make itself look better to the market, which the major labels will love as well.

YouTube told it has to pay more in the EU. The EU is going to reform copyright laws and video sites like YouTube will have to pay more to be in compliance. Very cool.

Is stream-ripping a real thing? It seems like it’s something that the music industry made up so everyone thinks piracy isn’t dead. People just aren’t a serious threat to pirate music from YouTube, not matter what the article says.

Sydney’s lockout laws are causing a dustup. The bars now have to close by 2AM instead of 3:3oAM, but just how much business can you lose at that time of the morning? Then again, those Aussies do like to party.

A change in the UK charts could influence the US as well. Top 40 charts don’t turn over much any more since they reflect streams of songs that are listened to over and over. The UK wants to reward new discovery, which might change how charts are determined.

Ameba Records in Hollywood will not see the wrecking ball. At least not until its lease runs out. Ameba sold its prime real estate on Sunset Blvd last year, so this might not end well, but at least any ending won’t happen in the near future.

That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

Will The New Cheap Tier From Pandora And Amazon Be Worth It?

pandor more skipsEver since music streaming began in earnest, there’s been a mantra inside the music industry that’s gone something like this – “Until the paid subscription rate gets to $5 per month, streaming is never going to scale.” That’s only partially been true, as subscriber numbers have grown steadily at the now standard $10 per month, but not to the level that the industry wanted or expected. The question is, will they truly take off even when they reach the $5 cheap tier?

It looks like we might know soon enough as Pandora is reportedly about to launch a brand new service at that magic price, with Amazon to follow shortly thereafter.

But is what you get for that $5 going to be worth it?

According to reports, Pandora’s $5 tier is just another version of its other tiers, but with the ability to skip more songs and store several hours of playlists. And Amazon’s $5 tier will only apply to owners of its Echo smart speaker. That sort of limits the reach of these $5 tiers a bit, don’t you think?

While all streaming services are feeling the pressure to reduce prices, they’re bound by their agreements with the major record labels, which doesn’t provide a lot of wiggle room for lower prices. In fact, it’s rumored that Apple wanted to set the price of its Apple Music to $8 at launch but that idea was quickly laid to rest by the major label’s powers-that-be.

Pandora and Amazon dipping their toes in the $5 water could be a gateway to a new round of streaming discounts though. Whenever Spotify runs a sale (like the recent $3 for three months student special) its paid subscriber numbers rise pretty quickly, although it’s yet to be seen what the churn rate for those new subscribers is. That’s not enough evidence for the labels however, who still cling to the $10 per month price point as the floor that will never go lower. [Read more on Forbes…]

September 7, 2016

Which Music Streaming Services Will Survive 2016?

Music Streaming ServicesNote: Here’s a guest post from Caroline at Culture Coverage.

In a world of free music, not all streaming services are created equal.

Between premium subscriber systems and free platforms with limitless libraries, there are a lot of options that can cloud a music lover’s desktop and not provide any real advantages. For these five industry leaders, however, it can be a different story. To figure out the future of streaming, check out this list of what’s up and what’s worth a listen. 

Spotify

As the behemoth winner of the streaming music world, Spotify started out just like any other digital age streaming startup, but it’s as much about what critics would consider faults as it is about its apparent successes; the truth is, everything is working for it. The easy-to-use interface, the completely free use of its music catalogue and mobile listening features make it perfect for all ages. Customizable playlists, radio stations, and great social features that mean easy sharing—it’s easy to see why Spotify is top dog in a world of free music. From customized Discover Weekly playlists tailored to your likes and cool features like the one that matches your songs to your running pace, this service is one that only gets better.

Apple Music

While the streaming service isn’t free (and therefore a huge negative), Apple is the leader in everything else tech related, which gives the service strong staying power even if it’s had slow success since debuting in 2015. With only 15 million followers since it launched, Apple Music has been rumored to be acquiring Jay-Z’s TIDAL, which is predicted to be a smart business move. While it may have only 4.2 million subscribers, the clout TIDAL has with big musicians like Kanye West and Rihanna is suspected to boost the listener experience and advantages of subscribing to the Apple Music service.

YouTube

YouTube is the uncontested largest music streaming music service around with over a billion monthly visitors, and since it launched YouTube Red, it’s finally available without pesky ads. YouTube also leads in the music category by allowing users to search concert tapes, music videos, live recordings, and a plethora of uploaded work ranging from wedding videos to covers. While sifting through all the noise can be a drawback, the lyric video revolution and payout to artists means this globally unifying music source isn’t going anywhere soon. 

Pandora

With 80 million active users, Pandora gets away with having a limited number of skips for one reason: it’s the best way to discover new music. With personalized radio station features and the opportunity to use the app across multiple platforms, the music service has a great price, and it’s perfect for customized listening. While the geographical limitations on this one are a little archaic (though nothing a Virtual Private Network can’t fix), and it’s not your best option when you’re looking for a specific song, it’s free level is one that can’t be beat. The ever-updating and shifting song selection also make it a road tripper’s go-to. 

SoundCloud

A hotbed for indie artists, remixes, and the Next Big Thing, SoundCloud is still free, though this could change in the next year with its execs looking for a buyer. In the meantime, it offers something none of the other streaming services can. With raw mixes, unreleased EPs and fresh demos, this platform is where untested, undiscovered and underground artists flex their chops, which means it has serious staying power for listeners who want something outside of the commercialized music industry. Plus, there are options for sharing privately with friends or on social media; and with SoundCloud Go, you can listen anywhere.

From on-the-go to at-home listening, these five streaming services are providing the bulk of the industry’s listening platforms, and for 2016, they’re the masters of their trade. What’s next for the 2017 leaders? Only time—and the ear—will tell.


About Me: Caroline is a music junkie and streaming service lover, uploading any and all of the available service apps to her phone to continue her hunt for the next best one. Currently leaning toward the platforms that let her take the music with her, she’s open to being persuaded if you feel like leaving a comment and pointing her in the right direction. 

[Image courtesy of Nickolai Kashirin under CC BY 2.0]

Music Industry News Roundup #8

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the music industry news roundup from the last week. As always, streaming and streaming services are in the news, but so are a number of huge artists, as well as some cool speculation on the future. Let’s get into it.

Apple Music is seriously getting into song lyrics. Reports are that it’s hired a new team to curate lyrics rather than use a third party to do it. The feature is supposed to be part of iOS 10, which hasn’t been released yet.

The Ed Sheeran plagiarism lawsuit is causing a bit of a dustup. Billboard rants a bit about the bad journalism surrounding the suit (that “Thinking Out Loud” is too close to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”), and on the surface, this one feels frivolous, but we’ve been surprised by the results before. This could be a bombshell for songwriters and music publishers alike if it goes against Sheeran.

Chance The Rapper turned down all the major labels and signed an exclusive with Apple instead. That’s the way the new music business works, although I’d bet that he ends up on a major sometime in the future.

Speaking of exclusives, Frank Ocean also went with Apple Music. Starting to see a trend here? First it was Tidal, then Spotify, now it looks like Apple is putting on the serious push for exclusives. It will be interesting to see its latest subscriber numbers.

In the meantime, Spotify is diversifying into gaming. It launched a new portal dedicated to game soundtracks, which is a great idea, given that gaming is a far larger business than music.

Pandora’s doing the same thing. Diversifying, that is. The company has added more comedy and podcast content, in a move that might be too little too late. Notice how little press the company is getting lately?

People can’t tell what fidelity they’re listening to. That’s what an informal study by CNBC says. Only 1 in 3 could identify the hi-res stream in a test that included streams from Tidal, Spotify and Apple Music. I’m not sure if that means the codecs have all gotten better or the basic quality of the tracks have gotten worse (probably a little of both).

Will Google suffer Yahoo’s fate? It wasn’t all that long ago when Yahoo was the search engine of choice, and this article shows how it could also happen to the current king of the mountain.

How Drake conquered streaming. First you conquer social media, then the streaming comes with that, according to this article. Yeah, it also helps when you’ve had success before a great team to work with.

That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

Music Industry News Roundup #5

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the music industry news roundup from the last week. There’s much more diverse news than previous weeks, but streaming continues to dominate the conversation.

Taylor Swift is the highest earning celebrity. The thing is, she didn’t get that way from selling music. She learned early that it’s the brand that sells.

Elizabeth Warren has it in for music monopolies. She has her eye keenly on Apple, Google and Amazon. This is not the person to have angry with you, regardless how large the enterprise.

Spotify’s trying some hosted radio shows. It seems like Apple Music’s Beats 1 is making an impact, so Spotify’s trying something similar, but without the big name DJs.

Spotify looks to go public this year. In related news, 5 sources have stated that the company will file an IPO soon. I bet the investors are happy at the prospect of getting some money back, but what will the market say?

Sirius XM subscribers pass 30 million. Everyone thought that the satellite business was dying, but that’s not the case at all. You know what? It’s all about the programming (something that terrestrial radio should learn).

Pandora is teetering. The major shareholders aren’t happy and they’ve brought in a high-powered consultant to explore a sale.

Artists not seeing much from secondary ticketing. Not much of the money made by Stubhub, Viagogo or Ticketmaster seems to be making its way back into the pocketbooks of the artists. Isn’t this a bigger issue than YouTube royalty rates?

Selena Gomez social media posts are worth $550,000 a piece. Astonishing but apparently true, Ms Gomez ranks #1 with sponsors who are willing to pay to be included in her posts.

Nielsen’s mid-year charts. Drake, Adele, Rhianna dominate. No surprises here except for Bowie’s Blackstar being the #1 vinyl album so far (but with only 57,000 copies sold). Sales are still falling, with Adele’s 25 leading the pack with only 1.4 million in sales.

That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

Pandora’s Largest Investor Worried About Its Future

pandora-internet-radiopandora-internet-radioPandora’s largest investor is so concerned about its future that it sent a letter to the company’s CEO and board members asking them to reconsider its strategy and explore the possibility of a sale. According to a report in Music Business WorldwideCorvex Management LP, the investor that sent the letter, owns  8.3% of Pandora and is fed up with seeing the company’s share price slide.

Among the concerns expressed in the letter include:

  • Pandora is “pursuing a costly and uncertain business plan, without a thorough evaluation of all shareholder value-maximizing alternatives.”
  • Questionable capital allocation decisions” which may refer to the $450m purchase for Ticketfly last year.
  • The fact that senior management has sold off most of its stock, which certainly doesn’t give an investor confidence in the company’s future.
  • The fact that the company replaced former CEO Brian McAndrews with founder Tim Westergren, a move panned by many in the industry
  • Concern over Pandora’s direct deals with rights-holders, which were very costly.
  • and finally, Pandora’s poor stock price, which seems to have little hope of increasing.

Pandora is reportedly gearing up to transition to an on-demand service like Spotify, since in its current non-interactive state the company is not able to expand to other territories. It’s now available only in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, but other countries have blocked entry because of local rights issues which have proved too costly for the company to overcome. Turning into an on-demand streaming service would allow Pandora to expand, since most of the required record label licenses would be world-wide and wouldn’t depend upon local broadcast regulations.

Pandora labels itself as “Internet Radio,” a term which, while accurate, is very limiting. In September of 2015 the company purchased many of the assets of the Rdio music streaming service out of bankruptcy, providing it with much of the infrastructure for the change in the platform. The licenses from the major labels (the difficult part) were not included, however.

The call for a sale by its largest investor may cause others to jump on board, which could mean a fire-sale for the company, and one more income source for artists will die.