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)
A few weeks ago, YouTube released a creators guide for musicians who use YouTube—detailing best practices and techniques for musicians using the service. The 40 page guide holds much common knowledge, but a few gems of wisdom stuck out. Below are a few key points they made, that you shouldn’t miss.
Source: Music Think Tank (by Jesse Cannon)
Here is a very informative video from The Needle Drop which goes into great explanation of the basics of how to spread your music. This ten minute video can be a great reminder of some basics of what you may be missing in the promotion of your music, so take note!
For independent artists, YouTube can be one of the most powerful platforms available for promotion and exposure. Of course, it is also one of the most difficult platforms to garner any significant growth and attention.
This challenge was no different for 23 year old hip-hip artist, and Brooklyn native Rob Scott.
As his manager, it was my job to figure out how to bring his dream to fruition. Without any assistance from record labels, we began to effectively use YouTube as a platform to get Rob Scott noticed.
Within the first couple of months, it was painful to notice that his long nights in the studio would only result in his songs receiving 11 views. To make matters worst, the 11 views I am speaking about came from the friends and family that was in the studio with him.
Initially, we would post his YouTube link all over people’s Facebook pages until we realized that spamming individuals was probably not the best way to gain true fans. We then decided that garnering views organically is the best possible solution. Today, he has accumulated over 235,000 channel views and has acquired more than 1, 400 YouTube subscribers.
Some may wonder how so?
Below are 6 strategies that we used to organically build Rob Scott’s Youtube channel from desolate to highly-trafficked:
At one point, Scott would upload a video at least once a week. During one week we would upload a song with a cover art and a couple weeks later we would upload a music video for that same song.
It is important to break down your material to get the most out of it. What I mean by that is, if you have a music video that you are planning to release, put out behind the scenes footage for that video, put out the song before you put out the video, or put out a snippet before you even release the song.
Now you have three pieces of content all based around that one record.
The more things you have to release, the easier it is to follow the rule of frequency. Evidently, it is almost impossible to acquire a great amount of views if you post a video once a year.
There have been several rare cases such as the Harlem Shake video going viral without the use of “frequency”, but I would not recommend depending on pure luck.
With Rob Scott, we created a schedule and began creating on a regular basis.
Another step that Rob Scott implemented to reach his amount of views was re-doing songs that were already popular.
Trey Songs released a song entitled “Can’t Be Friends” three years ago that gained a lot of commercial attention. While the song was still at its peak, Scott decided to re-do the song over with his own words and then shoot a music video for it.
Because viewers would search for the original Trey Songs version and see Scott’s rendition, it gave him a better chance of being viewed by some of the fans of that particular record. To date, Rob Scott’s rendition has over 90,000 views on YouTube and is still growing daily.
How much does Spotify pay artists? It’s the biggest mystery in music. One independent artist claims to have received a measly $0.004 per stream. There was a rumor that Lady Gaga only earned $162 from a million streams. Even indie band Grizzly Bear chimed in to express their displeasure with the alleged slave wages of Spotify declaring that they only received $0.001 per stream. Some have even taken to restricting their music from the service altogether. Is it really that bad? are the payments that low?
In an interview with Hypebot D.A. Wallach, lead vocalist & songwriter in Chester French who works with Spotify as their “Artist in Residence.”, had this to say:
…We make money in two ways. We make money through advertising to free users, who have access to Spotify only on computer. The service is interrupted by ads, and the functionality is a lot like YouTube. There is no mobile option for free ad-supported users, either. Second, we generate revenue from selling subscriptions. In the U.S., a subscription is $120 a year. In the U.K. it is ₤120 a year, and in the E.U, it is €120 a year.
We aggregate all of this revenue from these two streams, and distribute back 70% in royalties based on a pro rata share in accordance with the popularity of a piece of music. For example, if one of your songs has been streamed 1% of the total number of streams in a month, you will get 1% of the 70% of royalties we pay out to rights holders.
According to D.A Wallach in order for anyone to calculate what artists earn from Spotify, in say a month, a few numbers are needed.
Spotify’s revenue for the month
Amount of dollars Spotify pays out to rights holders
Combined number of streams
Their number of streams
Percentage of overall streams a song accounts for
Being that Spotify is a private company, we don’t have access to their revenue figures so here’s my hypothetical scenario based on real numbers that Spotify has released to the public. According to PrivCo, in 2011 Spotify generated 244 million dollars in revenue. In 2011 Spotify released U.S figures that showed there were over 13 billion songs streamed on Spotify in that year. 13 billion songs streamed doesn’t tell us how many times those 13 billion songs were streamed respectively but we’ll use that number being that that’s all we have.
$244, 000, 000/ 12 = $20,333,333 per month (Revenue for the month)
70% of 20,333,333 = $14,233,333.1 (Amount of dollars Spotify pays out to rights holders)
13,000,000,000/ 12 = 1,083,333,333.333333 per month (combined number of monthly streams)
20 streams X 100/ 1,083,333,333.333333 = 0.00000184615% (artist’s percentage of monthly streams)
0.00000184615% X 14,233,333.1 = 0.26276867902 (artist’s royalties)
0.26276867902/ 20 = $0.01313843395 (artist’s per stream royalties)
So, if an artist on Spotify received 20 streams out of 13 billion and Spotify grossed 244 million dollars, that artist would have earned a little over a penny per stream. It’s pretty safe to assume that the 13 billion songs streamed were listened to more than once and the higher the amount of total streams, the lower the amount of per stream payout for each artist. At the same time, the higher the amount of revenue generated by Spotify, the higher the amount of per stream payout per artist. In addition, Spotify doesn’t accept music submissions directly from artists. As a result artists must submit through digital distribution companies like ONErpm, CdBaby and Tunecore.
Some of these distributors charge up to 15% of sales, from what I’ve seen, and have arranged their own rates with Spotify so what an artist can earn through them varies. For instance, from music I’ve released through CDBaby on average I see $0.004 per stream after their 15% deduction. With music I’ve released through a relatively new company called ONErpm, I receive $0.007 per stream after their 15% deduction. Artists signed to a label may have arrangements that are far less favorable. Aside from the digital distribution and label fees that are deducted from your per stream payout, a 10.2% publishing fee is deducted as well. What happens to that money? Well, I’ll save that for another post.
Source: Music Think Tank (by SF)
Let’s look at some stats: Jack White’s Blunderbuss, number one debut on the Billboard 200, Third Man Records. Taylor Swift, worth $165 million, Big Machine Records. Adele, 21, more than 26 million records sold, XL Recordings. Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”, Grammy for Record of the Year, Eleven. Macklemore, a number one single on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, no label.
With financial success stories like these, many music industry pundits have been quick to celebrate the new “reality” for independent musicians. A quick glance at some media outlets might lead you to believe that all the old gatekeepers have fallen away, or that independent musicians have the same shot at stardom as major-label backed artists. However, these narratives can be misleading.
Take, for example, the artists listed above. Jack White’s Blunderbuss was released on his own imprint… in association with XL Recordings (a large British independent label), and Columbia Records (owned by Sony Music Entertainment.) Taylor Swift has been with Big Machine Records (a Nashville-based independent label) since her debut… but Big Machine is distributed byRepublic Records under the Universal Music Group umbrella.
Both of Adele’s records were released on XL Recordings in England, but she depends on Columbia for distribution and promotion in the United States. Gotye is on Eleven, an Australian independent label, but his music is distributed in the United States by Universal Republic. And Macklemore may not have a label, but as NPR recently pointed out he and Ryan Lewis chose (as many notable indie labels do) to work with Warner-owned Alternative Distribution Alliance for physical distribution, and partnered with Warner Music Group to help promote “Thrift Shop” to radio.
The point of acknowledging these arrangements isn’t to call these artists’ integrity, authenticity or accomplishments into question. A distribution deal or marketing partnership hardly invalidates the time, creativity and ingenuity required to succeed in today’s marketplace. Rather, the point is to acknowledge that contrary to what some pundits are saying, mainstream chart success still usually requires the resources and reach of certain industry powerhouses at some stage.
An artist may be able to build a successful career through extensive touring, online platforms or other means. But when it comes to clawing your way onto commercial radio or onto the shrinking shelves at big-box retail outlets, a major label partnership can make all the difference.
While each artist’s business model is their own, we should be realistic about what these arrangements mean in terms of the average musicians’ ability to reach audiences. Commercial radio airplay remains the number one outlet for discovery, and big-boxes account for far more music sales than dwindling record shops. Which is to say: we’re still dealing with a deck that seems stacked against smaller players; that hasn’t fundamentally changed in the digital era.
FMC’s own research backs this up to a considerable extent. Our artist revenue streams study found that significant commercial radio airplay remains out of reach for all but a tiny handful of artists. And our earlier radio-centric research demonstrates that commercial playlists tend to be repetitive and narrowly focused on major-label artists. (This, incidentally, is one of the reasons why it’s important to support Low Power FM and non-commercial radio, as these formats offer indies a better shot at airplay. It’s also a reason to oppose further ownership concentration in commercial broadcasting which is likely to worsen this problem.)
Still, there are many gray areas. Where does a “spec deal” – where you remain unsigned, but the label pays for you to record a few tracks – fit in to today’s picture? And how about distribution deals, where the artist pays to record their own music, but a label handles many of the other chores, including promotion? Or distribution and manufacturing deals, where the label is *only* responsible for getting your record pressed and on shelves, but not marketed? What if an artist has no label, but has a major publishing deal? In many instances, independence is clearly not a binary phenomenon.
Hypebot’s Clyde Smith says he’s no longer going to use the term “indie” at all, for a whole host of reasons. We would argue that, at a time when marketplace concentration is becoming more pronounced, it’s good to have some differentiators, even if they are based in business approach rather than sonic aesthetic. The merger of EMI and UMG means that just three companies will control 75 percent of the domestic recorded music industry – how can anyone accurately describe unfair marketplace conditions without a blanket term to describe the competing 25 percent of the industry (which actually translates to a much larger percentage of the overall pool of artists and releases)?
Perhaps the best way to deal with these grey areas is simply to talk about themmore, and with a little more precision. Instead of simply saying “an indie artist,” try saying “an artist on an independent label with a major distribution deal,” or “a self-released artist with a publishing deal,” as the case may be. This may be a tall order at a time when many fans still confuse “indie” with a set of aesthetics rather than a business model. That said, the more consumers understand the intricacies of the artist experience, the closer we are to creating a future where more artists have a fair shot at success, whatever path they choose to get there.
Source: Future of Music Coalition (by Kevin Erickson & Olivia Brown)
Musicians: If you’ve ever attempted to hold a Q&A via Twitter, you know that it can be a bit of a sh to the it show. It’s hard to keep track of all the conversations going on, and folks in the need-to-know aren’t really interacting with each other. Well, the microblogging site is out with a tweak that makes the experience of interacting with a tweet more robust and streamlined: a new, overhauled conversation view.
Let’s say that you’re a social media-savvy band keen to get your fans’ feedback on a new album title. You tweet out the call to action, only to be flooded with at-replies. Now, Twitter has made it easier to sort through all those responses — and for your fans to interact with each other — by tucking all the responses under your tweet, allowing you to scroll through and respond to each and every one. See this feature in action on Jimmy Fallon’s page in response to the tweet below:
Now, a tweet has — in effect — a comments section, which is pretty neat and useful when you’re looking to poll your fandom as a whole.
In addition to the new conversation format, Twitter has also added some features that aim to enhance how users view media: 1). Now, when you click on a photo on someone’s profile you’ll be able to see a larger view without leaving the page, 2). Your photo gallery (on the left side of the page) will now include video content from Vimeo, YouTube and the newly launched Vine. Bands, this means that when you tweet your new music video, it will be stored right on your Twitter profile, making it easy for fans to find.
Get a paper and pen. Just do it, it’ll totally be worth it. I’m about to blow your mind. Quick – tell me 3 people you want to listen to your music that you think will be able to put it in a commercial, film, or TV promo! Even if you’ve already contacted them, write down a name with a little space beneath to complete this exercise.
Done? Great! Now write down 3 things you said to persuade each person to listen to your music (they can all be similar or the same if you do a lot of copy/paste).
Alright, now for each person list 3 things about them that have nothing to do with their job, or music.
Hmmm…alright, take some more time and think about it…times up!
Now, as fast as you can, write down 3 things you can do for that person based on their needs or wants!
If you can come up with 1 thing for that last one, I’ll give you props. But only if it isn’t ridiculous (like “give them a million dollars” or “cut them in on license fees they secure for me” – because that’s payola, and payola is illegal…unless you’re Clear Channel).
The above exercise should prove to you that your emails suck. “Me, me, me.” That’s what you write about. “Listen to this! Check that out! I’d LOVE for you to put my song in a commercial!”
Great. I’m sure there aren’t 100,000 other people out there sending the same thing.
However, if you’re far enough along to know who to contact and actually have gotten some contact info, you’re STILL ahead of the game, as sad as it is. But you need to know something and you need to PRACTICE and GET BETTER at it as soon as you can:
The music business, and life in general, doesn’t work the way you think it does.
You cannot just sell yourself cold. It’s a waste of time. If you don’t have a good relationship with someone, it’s really tough to break through and make a connection. Especially one strong enough where they have confidence and enough trust in you and your music that they’ll give it a real shot.
How many emails have you received from someone or some entity that you didn’t know or agree to take part in? How did it make you feel? Did you read it carefully and take action doing what they ask? No?! What a surprise!
Here’s a gigantic tip:
Find a genuine connection to EVERY person you want to listen to your music before you ask them to listen to it.
That is HUGE takeaway. Huge. You should read it again, think about it, write any immediate ideas that come to mind, and then read it again.
Is it coming full circle yet? Do you get it?
Music supervisors are inundated with requests from people they don’t know and therefore don’t care about every day. They are flooded with emails like the ones you’ll find here. What makes you different?
Do you think changing your wording or coming up with a better email subject line makes you better? Wrong.
What most music supervisors will tell you is that they want a ‘filter,’ someone or some entity that they know well who they can reach out to for their music needs. What you need is to either discover one of those filters and partner up with them, or look for pre-existing relationships that act as that filter for you.
Whatever you do, don’t write another crappy email. No one cares about the 8-word catch-phrase that sums up your music perfectly. Your album art is NOT good enough to get someone’s attention. Your 15MB attachment consisting of your amateur band photo, 1 sheet, and latest ‘single’ from 2 years ago? You guessed it. It couldn’t penetrate chocolate pudding.
Don’t get mad or frustrated – get smart. CHANGE your approach. Make yourself relevant to the person you’re contacting. Emphasize key elements that will filter you out from the crowds of morons or partner up with someone who can. The intelligent independent musician can find ways to make themselves valuable IMMEDIATELY. Sure, it takes work. Yes, you have to do more than copy and paste the same form email to 200 people. You’re better of sending 10 effective emails in an hour than 200 bogus ones.
Shape up. Get relevant, get genuine, and start focusing on the right things. You’ll find it goes a lot further than the lame attempts made by most everyone trying to get their music licensed.
Source: Hypebot (by Andy Lykens)
DEBATE: Will We Ever Return to the Days Before Mass Piracy?
The most entrenched cynics will say “Ha! Um. No.”
Most would argue the culture of piracy is too deeply interwoven into music culture today. Sound point. However, a lot has changed with music consumption as of late. Streaming has rivaled downloads, illegal and legal, and this is the key detail that might eat away at piracy. Unfortunately, streaming is still slow to find fair royalty rates with labels and musicians.
When there are so many easy cheap/free streaming outlets, music pirates aren’t as incentivized as they used to be. With the massive growth of streaming services and time for the culture to heal itself and embrace them, music consumers could be programmed to limit the piracy.
In the end, it’s hard to imagine any form of technology stopping piracy. It’s a floodgate that can only be reduced in size, but not sealed altogether. Music tech gurus don’t bother trying to stop it, but find ways to adapt and work around it. No, we won’t return to the days before piracy, but hopefully someday, culture will embrace a compromise that makes most sense to them and the musicians making the music.
It’s Never Been Easier to Launch Your Own Record Label