curious 2know the status of my album? tweet BlackgroundMG. They control the $ & album date. In the meantime, I’m gonna keep working LoveUAll
YouTube has launched Creator Academy offering free online courses to help serious users - which should probably include every musician trying to grow their audience - create better videos and improve channel performance. Their first offering is Maximize Your Channel. The two-week course starts on June 3rd and will teach creators how to:
Sign up for the course here. You can view the YouTube intro reel below:
The partnership will add relevant videos to each artist’s profile page, giving users a wider variety of content to ‘scrobble’ – the term coined by Last.fm to describe the act of recording a track as part of your ongoing listening habits.
The videos will be available to European users today, although the company says support for additional countries will “come very soon.”
Each artist page currently shows a short list of the top tracks scrobbled by users through the Last.fm service. Music videos supplied by MUZU.TV will be integrated into this chart – rather than being listed separately – and will also be available on the webpage assigned to each individual track.
On the flip side, support for automatic Last.fm scrobbling will be added to the MUZU.TV website so that videos will always be recorded as part of users’ listening habits, regardless of where they are on the Web.
Last.fm is one of the only services that provides a comprehensive and seamless way of recording everything that you listen to. This data was originally used to recommend new tracks and artists to listen to, using both the Last.fm website and its dedicated mobile apps.
The service has since been integrated into other music services, particularly on-demand streaming alternatives such as Rdio and Spotify. Last.fm has never offered users this sort of control – instead relying on automated playlists similar to Pandora – and has lost some attention as a result.
Last December, the service practically abandoned this service in almost all countries except the US, UK and Germany. Web-based radio listening remains free in these countries, but it’s now a paid-for option elsewhere, as it already is in its mobile apps.
Last.fm doubled its efforts, however, by launching a brand new iOS app called Last.fm Scrobbler, as well as a striking new Xbox 360 app just last month.
The addition of MUZU.TV music videos is significant, but Last.fm needs a serious overhaul if it’s to stay relevant in the ever-expanding and evolving range of Web-based music streaming services.
Source: TheNextWeb (by Nick Summers)
Soundhalo is a brand new service for taking live concert video recordings and transforming them into mixed single song videos for immediate sale. It’s an interesting hybrid that’s currently being offered as an Android app that allows purchases during the live show. DRM-free concert files are then available for viewing on any device. Sounds like a potential winner on impulse buys if Soundhalo can pull off some formidable challenges.
Soundhalo launched in beta at a performance late last week by Alt-J. People reviewing the technology seem impressed.
Chris Welch, writing for The Verge, described the process:
“Minutes after a song’s conclusion, a production team pairs video with audio pulled directly from the soundboard. Everything’s properly mastered before the final product is uploaded to the cloud, so you won’t have to worry about dealing with a harsh audio mix.”
My understanding is that audio/video will be provided via the band and venue. Soundhalo will quickly turn the individual videos around and fans can preview the videos via their smartphones and decide to purchase them individually.
Alt-J’s songs went for around $1.50 each with the whole 16-song set being purchased for $9.00. Apparently the service automatically provides the whole set when you purchase enough individual tracks to cover the full-set price.
Nick Hide at CNET UK had some concerns about the scalability of Soundhalo:
“‘The Soundhalo production team take video and audio feeds directly from the venue,’ the startup explains, ‘and utilizing the fastest broadcast connectivity, delivers those files to the Soundhalo studio where mixing, mastering and grading take place by the expert ears and eyes of world class mastering engineers.’”
Without some kind of algorithmic solution, making each individual track quickly available seems really difficult. And the mobile app description does make it sound quick:
“Soundhalo is an evolutionary new platform that allows music lovers to buy, share and own artist endorsed live video and audio recordings as it happens. Fans can now purchase and download the actual performance as it unfolds, whether they are at the gig or on the other side of the globe.”
The focus on a mobile app is interesting given that you then download DRM-free MP4 files that can be viewed on any device. And you don’t even have to be at the show if you have the app.
Soundhalo is launching with an emphasis on being closely tied to individual shows and the possiblity of impulse buys during the show.
Beyond that it’s a live video production and digital sales platform accessible via an Android app. So that emphasis makes quick turnaround particularly important in making the whole thing work. If they can pull that off, Soundhalo potentially becomes quite powerful.
Source: Hypebot (by Clyde Smith)
On the heels of Google wading into the music streaming waters with its Google Play Music All Access service, with a $10 fee for all-you-can-eat streamed tracks, the indie music agency Merlin has today published results of a recent survey of its 20,000-label member group, plus an analysis of 6.5 billion music streams over the last year, which spell out where the money is coming from today. Streaming services are making increasing headway as a revenue driver for musicians, but digital downloads — specifically Apple’s iTunes — are still ruling the roost.
Worldwide, iTunes has held on to its spot as the single-biggest source of revenues for Merlin’s independent label members, both across key markets like the U.S. and UK, as well across Europe and globally. Interestingly, Spotify is securely in second position, underscoring just how popular both Spotify and streaming services have become — second has been a place held by Amazon for some time prior to this. Amazon’s MP3 download service subsequently slipped down to third place across the board, while Deezer and eMusic are split regionally in terms of their influence and in grabbing fourth place.
We’re reaching out to Merlin to see if we can get a specific percentage breakdown here. Typically iTunes has been estimated to hold around 60% of the digital music market by revenues; NPD put its share at 63% in April 2013. (Update: A Merlin spokesperson says those breakdowns are not being disclosed.)
“The new generation of digital services has created a new dynamic of consumer freedom, limitless choice and myriad paths to discovery,” Charles Caldas, the chief executive of Merlin, said today in a speech at the Great Escape conference in Brighton. “Our numbers illustrate that this dynamic is bringing incremental value to the market, and the demand from music fans for the music being released by our independent members is higher than ever before.” However, in what might be a swipe not just at big labels but big players like Google jumping deeper into the market, he also cautioned against companies that might be trying to apply legacy music royalty concepts to digital.
“The ecosystem is fragile: power is more concentrated than ever, and we are seeing an attempted land grab by the largest companies for digital market share as they try to recreate the old-market advantages they are clearly losing in the digital space,” he noted. Merlin, despite its tens of thousands of indie label partners, only makes up about 10% of the world’s music market, so it has a place continuing to rage against the machine.
It will be interesting to see whether Spotify’s (and streaming’s) rise are eating into that 60% marketshare for iTunes. But the research from Merlin suggests that if this is the case it’s not a watershed moment quite yet: both formats appear to still be growing, even if streaming is growing more.
Some 92% of respondents in the survey said that streaming and subscription revenues (based on streaming) grew in 2012 compared to a year ago. One-third said the rise was as much as 100%.
The rise in downloads was less pronounced: around 66% said a-la-carte download sales grew alongside that streaming rise. Only 8.4% said the rise in download revenues increased by 100%.
In terms of what the growth in streaming means for actual businesses, the takeaway is still marginal.
Merlin’s members say that they expect royalties of $65 million or more for 2013 from streaming services, but if you just do the math and divide that among 20,000 members, that works out to only $3,250 per label. Considering that Merlin claims that its members’ share of streaming services is typically 12-20% higher than those of other major labels — included in Merlin’s counts are acts like The National, Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver, as well as labels like Domino and Beggars Group — it sounds like streaming, despite all the advances and popularity, remains for now just an opening act, and not the main event.
Full results of the report can be seen here.
Source: TechCrunch (by Ingrid Lunden)
Google yesterday announced Play Music All Access, a music service with subscription features that competes with Spotify and Rdio — building on Google’s existing music store and cloud service that competes with iTunes and Amazon. That’s a compelling mix of features, but Google still faces plenty of challenges as it attempts to establish itself as a credible competitor in the rapidly changing music space.
“For now, we have a version 1.0 of what’s possible,” Google Play lead product manager Paul Joyce told The Verge. “We had a vision and it’s taken us time to build out that vision. We look at All Access as a complement to the locker, which we felt we had to build first.”
“WE HAD A VISION AND IT’S TAKEN US TIME TO BUILD OUT THAT VISION.”
But while the streaming service came second, it’s clear Google felt pressure to enter the subscription market as consumer music spending shifts. “Music subscriptions are the fastest growing segment of the music business,” said Joyce. “There are people who will always buy music, and people who will always rent. Increasingly there will be both.”
The combination of a store, cloud storage, and streaming service means that All Access is currently unique in allowing customers to browse, play, and manage both purchased tracks and subscription tracks in a single unified interface — something that no other service currently offers. “You can see how a subscription model works with your own personal collection, and if you like it, we would love for you to pay $9.99 a month,” said Joyce. “But if you decide you don’t need all that music, your going-away prize is a free level of service where all your music is safe in the cloud.”
That’s a pretty good deal, and it gets better if you sign up before June 30th — the price falls to $7.99, although Joyce wouldn’t say if it would ever go up again. “It’s $7.99 a month,” said Joyce. “Forever and promises are difficult. But people have the same question about our free music locker.”
But getting people to take advantage of that deal won’t be easy — especially since Google seems to be artificially limiting its potential market by keeping Play Music safely within the boundaries of its own ecosystem. There’s no iOS app, for example, and social integration is limited to Google+ — even though Spotify famously received a huge boost in users by integrating with Facebook. In an increasingly multiplatform world, a music service that only works in the US on a single platform and doesn’t allow for seamless sharing seems seems destined for niche status.
“I THINK WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED.”
But Joyce said his team is exploring all their options. “We’ll always evaluate other platforms and other opportunities,” said Joyce. “Our general goal is to have everyone use our service. I don’t think it should be a requirement that people have a specific piece of hardware to use our service — that’s not a strategic aim. I think we’re just getting started.”
Joyce also hinted at future integration with YouTube, which has turned into a dominant music service in its own right. “YouTube’s hugely successful and we’re all part of one company,” he said. “Can Google build something better that involves aspects of YouTube with things that Play is doing? I think that’s something we’re all aware of, and directionally that’s likely.”
Source: The Verge (by Nilay Patel)
In 2004, 13-year-old Joanna Levesque became the youngest solo artist ever to have a number one single on the Billboard charts.
Levesque, who recorded as JoJo, had been building to that moment since she was just a little girl, giving electrifying performances on shows like Kids Say the Darndest Things with Bill Cosby at the age of 6. When Levesque was 12, she signed a seven-album deal with Blackground Records, and later her debut album JoJo was certified platinum. Her 2006 follow-up, The High Road, pleased critics and included at least one bona fide hit, the breakup ballad “Too Little Too Late.” She was quickly becoming a rising star in R&B.
And then she went silent.
It’s been almost seven years since JoJo has put out an official release, though that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been trying. “I’ve recorded about three incarnations of this third album,” JoJo tells BuzzFeed. “We’ve chosen the track listing, we’ve done multiple album photo shoots, chosen the cover, chosen the credits, everything.” But every time her team tried to present the album to her label, Blackground Records, they never received a response.
“Blackground Records lost their distribution deal through Interscope, and if you can get the answer from them on why that happened, that would be a miracle,” JoJo says, “because I am sure they would not engage you in that conversation.” While JoJo says she has no problem with Interscope, she says she’s lost all communication with Blackground.
JoJo’s case is an extreme one. But whether it’s a new artist waiting to release their debut, or a successful musician who’s seemingly disappeared, many artists have found themselves fighting either to release their music or release themselves from their contracts. It happened to Lupe Fiasco. It happened to Sky Ferreira. It happened to Bow Wow, and Metallica, and Big Boi, and Amanda Palmer. The list goes on.
In most cases, even through politics, artists and labels can eventually reach a place where they mutually agree that it’s not working out and it’d be better to part ways.
But what happens when they can’t?
The label merges with or is acquired by another company.
“It is a little confusing because most of these companies, they get bought and sold several times,” says Ben McLane, an entertainment lawyer whose past clients have included DMX, Keith Sweat, and LL Cool J. Repeated changes in ownership caused problems for Blackground Records, an independent label that was distributed by Interscope, a subsidiary of Universal. Blackground’s CEO Barry Hankerson (uncle to the late Aaliyah, and responsible for launching her career) is known for making abrupt business decisions that leave his artists in a constant state of flux. “He’ll have a hit, and then he’ll have hard times with his label, and he’ll sell it to some other distributor and then the artists just kind of float around,” says McLane. “That’s part of the problem — there are a lot of mergers and acquisitions that go on, and the artists get stuck in the middle of it. If you’re not U2 or Justin Bieber, at the top of the food chain, a lot of times artists just get lost in the middle.”
The music industry has changed rapidly in the digital age. Where there were once six major labels in 1998, now there are just three remaining: Sony, Warner Music Group, and Universal, which became the largest international record company after merging with EMI last year. The mergers have left many artists lost in limbo. “Sky Ferreira’s label has gone through four or five label presidents since she’s been signed, and a big merger,” says McLane, who calls Ferreira’s experience “the worst-case scenario.”
“It’s a complicated space,” McLane says, “and I don’t want to say just because one artist’s experience is shitty, it doesn’t mean that another artist couldn’t sign with a major label and maybe get treated really well.” McLane points out that Katy Perry was signed to Ferreira’s label around the same time but has had a very different experience. “Maybe she just got lucky, or she just had a better team, or the right timing.”