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Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 2/17/17

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week of February 17th, 2017. A lot went on in the streaming world, although nothing that you’d classify as major.. Let’s get into it.

Spotify just signed a big new lease in NYC and plans to add 1,000 jobs. The is a curious move given recent rumors about its IPO running aground. Could an acquisition be in the works?

Spotify also made a deal with the New York Times. You now get a free Spotify account with every Times digital subscription. That means the company should break 50 mil subscribers by the end of the year.

Apple Music is “well past 20 million” now. Of course, they didn’t say how much past. The last figure was estimated at 20.9 million paid subscribers.

SoundCloud lost 2 top executives. That’s not a good sign for streaming service that’s the backbone of most indie musicians.

Pandora is really trying hard to become a premium product with paying subscribers. It’s hoping to get to 9 million subs by the end of the year. It might be a futile effort as it has a lot going against it at the moment, not to mention fierce competition.

Facebook ads will now play automatically with audio. Ads used to be muted and you had the option to unmute if you wanted. Now we go to the dreaded autoplay with audio, so we’ll all have noisier news feeds. Why? Facebook says the mobile uses want it that way!?#!

Facebook also wants to steal music away from YouTube. It’s trying to make the labels an offer they can’t refuse.

It looks like big changes are coming to music videos either way. Industry analyst Mark Mulligan points out the many ways this sector is changing.

The movement to have radio pay music artists may be coming to a head. The hope is that the new administration will take the side of the artists instead of the radio industry so artists will finally get paid for airplay (only the songwriters get paid currently).

Prince’s music is back on most streaming services. There’s no reason to hold it back if the estate could be making money.

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

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 2/3/17

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week of February 3rd, 2017. This has been a big week for social media changes, but there are still some interesting record label-related developments. Let’s get into it.

Sony earned $1.2 billion from streaming last year. It still made more from physical sales, but not by much.

Streaming is changing music consumption, but is that good? Well, the measurements are no different, and this article doesn’t think they’re as fair and equal as they should be.

Investors are putting more money in the music business. That’s because they believe it’s finally coming back, and owning music publishing is an appreciating asset (which it’s always proven to be).

Vevo has now reached 100 million users. The music video network partially owned my Universal Music was seen by 43% of all viewers who watched YouTube in December. The funny thing is, most of them aren’t even aware that they’re watching it.

Speaking of Vevo, MBW thinks Facebook should poach it from YouTube. The article says that it could make approximately $32 billion a year if it did, which sounds a bit far-fetched to me. Still a good idea though.

Soundcloud’s getting deeper into advertising. Users don’t want to hear this, but the company is trying to increase revenue to look like a better acquisition target.

Snapchat is adding augmented reality. A new lense will allow users to identify environmental elements and superimpose digital effects on top. It’s still experimental so we won’t see it for a while, but it’s cool that it’s in development.

Hulu launched its virtual reality show On Stage. You need the service’s VR app in order to get the full effect, but it’s good to see the technology getting off the ground in music.

Facebook is going to start paying for videos. Both up front and revenue sharing from ads will make video content creators happy. It’s also a shot across the bow of YouTube.

People are upset that Instagram now does groups of photos. They feel it’s trying to become all things to all people and losing its focus.

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

Spotify’s Acquisition Of SoundCloud Look Like It’s Off

SoundCloudIt looks like all of those rumors about Spotify buying SoundCloud have turned into nothing more than words on paper. Word is now out that any hopes of a deal between the two companies has been squashed, although months of talks almost lead to a deal.

Why? Although it hasn’t been officially announced, Spotify is planning on a public offering in 2017, and there were fears that this particular acquisition could negatively impact the IPO. The fact that Spotify hasn’t turned a profit yet and owes loads of money is bad enough, but at least it’s generating lots of cash and growing. You can’t say the same thing for SoundCloud, however. Despite many different attempts to both gain more users and get them to pay for the premium service, that hasn’t happened, so the company’s health is definitely in question.

The other question that potential investors and underwriters had was about the synergy between the companies. For SoundCloud, the acquisition would be a life preserver. For Spotify, it would gain some potential users, and perhaps provide them with an easy path to post their music on Spotify, but it’s difficult to see how that helps Spotify enough to justify a potential billion dollar investment.

Another negative is the fact that Spotify would have to enter into another round of negotiations with record labels and publishers for new SoundCloud license agreements. These licenses are the biggest hurdle for any company either trying to get into, or already in the music distribution business, and investors know how difficult they can be. As a result, it’s a headache that Spotify can’t afford to take at the moment.

If Spotify does go public next year and is flush with cash (after paying off investors that is), look for the company to revisit the SoundCloud acquisition again. Until that time, SoundCloud has to hang on.

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.

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]

A SoundCloud Demise Would Create A Void For Indie Artists

SoundCloudSoundCloud is seeking a buyer, and that could make it much more difficult for indie music artists across all genres to have their music heard. The streaming music service is reportedly seeking a sale in the $1 billion range in a deal that could alter that part of the music landscape for a long time.

According to Bloomberg, SoundCloud execs are currently mulling over a strategy that would result in the sale of the company. No potential buyer has been identified however, and one may not be on the horizon at the valuation the company appears to be asking. Either way, it’s beginning to look as if the streaming service’s days are numbered, at least in the form that we know it today.

SoundCloud has sometimes been compared to an audio version of YouTube in that it’s basically a free service for user generated content, most of which is posted by indie music artists. It’s been good for that niche in that it’s easier and cheaper to post a music file to SoundCloud than to host on the artist’s private website or social media network. That said, the company was never going to earn enough revenue just from usage fees by artists, and it’s really not much of a draw for music fans when compared to any of the sites like Apple Music or Spotify that feature commercial music from label-signed artists. It may have 175 million users a month, but most are not high-volume listeners like on the larger services.

But what really hurt SoundCloud’s prospects for turning a profit is the fact that it was forced to sign expensive licensing deals with the major networks in order to avoid pending copyright issues, and to clear the way for the service to offer a subscription tier in an effort to finally increase revenue. While that sounds good on paper, the biggest distinguishing feature of SoundCloud is its indie artists, and that hasn’t proved to be enough of a draw when its free, so it’s difficult to imagine how it could work for a monthly fee. [Read more on Forbes…]

Music Industry News Roundup #3

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s some interesting music business news from the last week. As always, it’s surprising how some old topics keep on coming back to life, and the new topics that we never expected pop up.

Streaming music has surpassed YouTube music views. They said it would never happen, but streaming music is now more popular that YouTube for listening to music. This is extremely important because it’s really a paradigm shift happening right before our eyes, as music streaming becomes the big dog of music distribution. Watch the financial pie get bigger for everyone in the food chain!

Spotify and Apple Music are beating YouTube with blockbuster hits. Huge hits like Drake’s “One Dance,” Rihanna’s “Work,” Desiigner’s “Panda” and Zayn’s “Pillowtalk” don’t appear as much on YouTube as on the streaming services.

Spotify paid subscribers now at 37 million. That’s a good strong metric for success, except that so many of subscribers are on a discounted $0.99 per month or 3 months for $10 plans, so there’s no telling what will happen when those run out. Spotify figures they’ll lose between 1 and 1.5 million subs, but experts figure it will be higher. Still, the streaming service continues to grow at a faster rate that the competition.

Sony/ATV’s purchase of the other 50% of Michael Jackson’s catalog is in jeopardy. It appears that European regulators may block the acquisition because it will give Sony too much control of the publishing world. I guess that owning 60% of any industry would get anti-trust regulators to open their eyes.

Speaking of Sony, it’s being investigated in the U.S. for colluding against Rdio. The streaming service filed for bankruptcy last year (a lot of its assets were purchased by Pandora), but Rdio’s 3 founders are filing an anti-trust suit saying that Sony colluded with Warner Bros and Universal in licensing issues to force them into bankruptcy.

The music and tech industries are out of touch when it comes to copyright laws. That’s the conclusion from an article in the Wall Street Journal, but most industry experts think that the existing copyright laws need a serious updating since they apply more to a time before the high-tech age we live in today.

A classical composer has a similar viewpoint. It’s not only pop and rock songwriters that are suffering from existing copyright laws. Jennifer Higdon feels she’s not getting free market value for her compositions, which are played by orchestras worldwide.

Distrokid has created a new system for getting artists paid. This allows for multiple people to get paid, even with different percentages of ownership, instead of the current system of a single payment to one person that has to be divided after the fact.

Soundcloud is taking another step to becoming a full-fledged streaming service. It’s added a new radio-like feature similar to what other services have. Users have said it’s very “Pandora-like,” although I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.

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

June 17, 2016

Twitter Invests In SoundCloud, But Why?

SoundCloud-TwitterTwitter has made an investment in SoundCloud for a reported $70 million and if you’ve been following the story between the companies, you have to ask yourself “Why now?”

About two years ago Twitter almost acquired SoundCloud before walking away at the last minute, and an acquisition certainly would have made a lot more sense at the time, even though it might not have changed the futures of either company.

Back then Twitter wanted to capitalize on its high profile music users like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, who had massive followings on the service (and still do) but weren’t able to take advantage by directly serving up their music to them. SoundCloud was struggling with both monetization issues (which still exist) and licensing problems, and theoretically could have provided the infrastructure for Twitter to transition to at least a partial music service.

Many think that Twitter was better off for walking away from the deal and keeping the focus on its core business, which in theory worked fine except for the fact that the company’s user base has plateaued in the meantime even with a focused agenda not diluted with delivering music.

SoundCloud has actually come a long way in that it now has signed licenses with the three major record labels, and has since worked hard to roll out its $9.99 monthly subscription service called SoundCloud Go. Still, it’s a cash-starved company and needs another round of funding to stay alive, so having Twitter as an investor in this round is most welcome.

That said, the benefit for Twitter isn’t as apparent. It’s not getting any of the technical goodies that come with an acquisition, and it’s buying a piece of a company that essentially hasn’t grown in valuation since its last go around.

In fact, out of all the music streaming companies currently in the space, SoundCloud may be the most baffling. It’s long been a boon to artists, bands and songwriters as a tool for free music distribution, and at that it may very well be #1 in the space. That market isn’t large enough to add enough subscribers to make the platform go however, and may be tapped out already. Attracting regular music consumers to its paid Go service may be limited to electronic music fans, since the platform is a favorite of DJs, but that genre seems to have plateaued as well. [Read more on Forbes…]

SoundCloud Launches Its Subscription Tier

Soundcloud GoIt’s been rumored for months, and it’s finally happened. SoundCloud has launched a subscription tier to its streaming service called SoundCloud Go and it’s priced at what’s now become the standard – $9.99 per month ($12.99 for iOS).

The fact of the matter is that SoundCloud Go seems like it’s more to appease the major labels than anything. All 3 majors have now licensed their catalogs to SoundCloud in an effort to get a piece of the DJ remix space they’d been missing.

As for the consumer, there’s not all that much of an advantage. The free tier provides 125+ million tracks while the SoundCloud Go offers the same plus an “expanded catalog” (no idea what that means), offline listening, and it’s ad free.

One of the big problems for consumers is the lack of big names on the platform, or extensive catalog from major label artists, although the platform seems to be adding more content to Go today. Still, the majority of available songs consists of remixes or user uploaded tracks.

SoundCloud has had a major problem with DJ remixes using unlicensed material, and has had to revoke the subscriptions of many of them as a result, which has led to bad blood in the community and mass defections to MixCloud and Dubset. It’s going to be difficult to get them back, if for no other reason than from a logistics standpoint of moving a catalog to a new service.

It appears that SoundCloud Go will pay artists according to their market share, which means that the top 1% will continue to enjoy a higher revenue stream regardless of whether they own the copyright of their material or not.

SoundCloud currently has 175 million active users, so even a conversion rate of 5% would make it a player in the streaming space with nearly 9 million subscribers. SoundCloud Go is only available in the U.S. market for now, but will roll out globally later this year.

By the way, you can avoid the extra $3 iOS charge by signing up on your desktop instead of your iPhone.