For over four years now, we’ve been somewhat mystified by the hatred from some musicians and labels towards streaming services like Spotify. The general complaint seems to be that “it doesn’t pay enough,” but “enough” is often at ridiculously high standards. I’ve now seen three separate analyses that show that, on a per listener-per play basis, Spotify pays more than any other source. The problem, it often seems, is one of expectations. Part of it is simply that musicians seem to forget that their labels take a giant chunk of their earnings, and that the payments that eventually trickle down to musicians are often months or years late. Also, those doing the complaining often seem unable to comprehend that these services take time to grow, and as they grow, the payouts get bigger and bigger. But the biggest mistake of all seems to be the idea that not having your music where your fans want it is somehow a good idea. We’ve pointed out repeatedly that making music disappear from where people are looking for it only harms the musicians.
Furthermore, as we’ve seen over and over again, as these services get bigger and start to catch on, artist are realizing all sorts of ways they can profit from them. Two recent examples are quite handy. First up, we have independent musician Ron Pope (music here), who has written a fantastic piece for the Huffington Post about just how wonderful Spotify has been for his career.
In the good old days of digital music — say, five or six years ago — high-tech talent scouting by record labels meant trawling MySpace for hot new bands. Labels still hunt for acts online, but the pools of data they consult have become much more vast, and access to them highly competitive.
On Wednesday, the Warner Music Group, the company behind Bruno Mars, Wiz Khalifa and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, will announce a deal with the music app Shazam that will create a label imprint for new artists who are discovered through Shazam.
Shazam, used by more than 88 million people worldwide, identifies songs playing on the radio, on television or at a nightclub. According to the company, it is used about 500 million times each month to identify, or “tag,” an audio signal, which each year leads to more than $300 million in download sales.
The deal would let Warner executives use Shazam’s data to see what songs are catching on and where — potential signs of a breakout hit. Warner could use this data to sign new artists to a special Shazam imprint, and market them with Shazam’s help. Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“There’s so much information that we’ve never had before as an industry, and Shazam is at the forefront of that,” said Rob Wiesenthal, chief operating officer of Warner Music. “When a consumer hears something he or she likes and holds up their phone, that enables us to learn more about the likes and dislikes of fans.”
Rich Riley, Shazam’s chief executive, said that big hits represent “a relatively small percentage” of the music tagged on the app, and that it is often used for songs by unsigned artists — the acts that Warner will be most interested in.
For Shazam, the Warner partnership is also an opportunity to move beyond its “name that tune” function and become more of a conduit for various forms of content. Last November, the company struck a deal with the media-services agency Mindshare to make it easier for advertisers to incorporate Shazam in campaigns.
“We want it to be the place you go for lyrics, the place you go to see video, the place you go to engage around a particular artist,” Mr. Riley said. “This is a big step in that direction.”
For the music industry, data is the new gold. A number of music companies have struck deals recently to help them comb through the noise of social media to see the early flickers of hits. Twitter is working with 300, a new company led by Lyor Cohen, Warner Music’s former head of recorded music, and last month Gracenote and Next Big Sound, two music data specialists, said they would work together to develop a customizable Internet radio app.
But whether all this data can lead to more hits is unclear. Jim Lucchese, the chief executive of the Echo Nest, a music data company that works with Spotify, Sirius XM and others but was not involved with the Warner-Shazam deal, said that the challenge is not so much getting access to information as having the expertise to interpret it.
“The massive amount of data that’s available is incredibly exciting,” Mr. Lucchese said. “The reality is that there is a scarcity of people out there who really know how to make sense of it.”
ARTISTS / LABELS: Get your music on Shazam now with ONErpm! Click HERE to get started.
In the past 14 years, music industry revenues plummeted from $14.3 billion to $7 billion. People listen to more music than ever, but they do it on platforms like Spotify and Pandora, which pay artists fractions of pennies per play. Things aren’t much better on YouTube, where ad revenues for creators continues to fluctuate. With little monetary incentive, some worry that musicians will simply stop creating altogether. Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne went so far to say, “The Internet will suck all creative content out of the world.”
Is the state of affairs for musicians really so dire?
Not according to Pomplamoose singer Jack Conte. Last year with $2.1 million in funding, he launched Patreon, a platform where musicians, writers, cartoonists and other creators can solicit donations for their work. What makes Patreon a little different than Kickstarter and Indiegogo is that users subscribe to creators, paying them monthly for as long as they wish. Creators can offer small rewards for donations, but the focus is less on rewards and more on supporting artists for its own sake.
An intriguing new music discovery app has popped up on Apple’s App Store. It’s called Rewind Radio, and pitches itself as “the world’s first radio time machine” while promising that “music rediscovery is possible”.
The app, which we’ve been playing with this morning, prompts you to choose a decade, a year, or a season (e.g. Winter 1987) and then play music from that period, saving tracks as ‘moments’ for later access.
The caveat is that the music comes in the form of 30-second samples rather than full tracks, with a shopping-cart button to buy them from Apple’s iTunes Store. However, Rewind Radio also has a ‘Listen to Full Songs’ button, which prompts users to enter their Rdio login to stream full tracks via that service.
It’s thus the latest app to be built on Rdio’s platform, with that company competing with Spotify and Deezer to build an ecosystem of mobile app developers. The app is slick, social features are built in too, and the nostalgia angle isn’t one that’s been over-mined by discovery apps in recent times, so feels quite fresh.
Can it cut through the App Store clutter to find an audience, and then find a successful business model? That’s a challenge, as it is for all music apps, so we’ll watch Rewind Radio’s progress carefully.
Source: Musically (by Stuart Dredge)
Beats Music is not the same old song and dance.
The new music service, which launched today online and for mobile devices, does let you stream and download 20 million-plus songs just as you can on Spotify. And it provides music based on your mood, as does Pandora.
But Beats, which made its industry-changing Beats by Dr. Dre headphones a fashion statement, brings swagger and style to the music marketplace. Some critics chide Beats — founded in 2008 by Dr. Dre and Interscope Geffen A&M Records Chairman Jimmy Iovine — for emphasizing style over substance.
With Beats Music, the two are suitably intertwined.
The new service has pretty much the same catalog that Spotify has. Both services had the latest from Bruce Springsteen and Jennifer Nettles when their new releases hit. Not available at launch on Beats Music is Led Zeppelin — a get that Spotify ballyhooed last month — or the Beatles and AC/DC, for now found only on iTunes.
That could change, as Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers says it “will be adding more and more artists on an ongoing basis.”
Where Beats Music differs from the competition is that it serves as a music-loving older brother or sister who turns you onto music you may not have heard, or have forgotten.
With 2013 now behind us we are beginning to see the first full year sales numbers come in for 2013 and the long anticipated ability to assess the impact of streaming on the market. Until the IFPI annual revenue numbers come out we are mainly constrained to volume data which only paints half of the picture. This is especially true for streaming given the massive difference in revenue per stream for free versus paid, YouTube versus Spotify etc. But even within these constraints we have enough to start establishing a view, one that indicates the headline story may be more about transition than it is growth.
Nielsen’s numbers for the US show that digital track sales were down 5.7% and that digital albums were down 0.1% while albums as a whole were down 8.4%. In the UK the BPI reported that digital track sales were down 4.2% though digital albums were up 6.8%. Nielsen also reported a 103% rise in audio streams. Let’s assume that a significant portion of those increased streams will be coming from free users and that the impact on streaming revenue growth will therefore be around the 65% mark. That would translate into total US music market revenue growth of just under 1%, though if free usage is a bigger part of the picture then growth could be negative.
It is important to understand the appropriate context for the shift to streaming: it is fundamentally a transition of spending. Just as the download was a transition from the CD so streaming subscriptions are a transition from the download. This is because the majority of subscribers were already digital music buyers before becoming subscribers and the majority of those were iTunes customers. 50% of subscribers buy album downloads every month and 26% buy CDs every month (see figure). On the one hand this can be interpreted as the fantastic capacity of streaming to drive discovery and music purchasing. There is some truth in this, but it is an inherently temporary state of affairs. If streaming services do their job well enough there should be little or no reason for a subscriber to additionally buy music. They do so because consumers transition behavior gradually not suddenly. The fact that a third of download buyers still buy CDs illustrates the point.
While Shazam users have been able to tap their Rdio account to listen to tagged songs for a while already, Rdio has just announced its taken this partnership a step further with the launch of a new playlist feature. Check out the full details from Rdio below:
Last year, we teamed up with Shazam to make it easier than ever to listen to music you discover at clubs, shops and restaurants with the Listen Free on Rdio link, available from Shazam’s Tag screen. Now we’re taking our integration one step further with the latest Shazam mobile update, available on Android and iOS. Connect your Rdio account in a few simple steps and all of your Shazamed songs will be added to a new playlist in Rdio called “My Shazam Tracks.” And the playlist will automatically update with every new song you Shazam, making it easy to relive an amazing night out, track for track, through the Rdio app.
The Shazam playlist feature is exclusive to Rdio and instantly ready for you to use. Just update to the latest version of the Shazam app, connect your Rdio account, and your playlist awaits!
This integration is the latest example of one of our developer partners extending the Rdio experience through our powerful, best-in-class API. Over a thousand developers are actively creating a huge variety of apps using the Rdio API, making it easier for Rdio users to discover new music, attend concerts, create playlists, listen collaboratively, learn about their favorite artist, and more. Check out our API Gallery for more innovative examples of the Rdio API at work.
The latest Shazam update is available in both Free and Encore versions for iOS and Android. To connect your account, follow the instructions in your Shazam newsfeed or go to your Shazam settings and select Connect to Rdio.
ARTISTS / LABELS: Get your music onto Rdio and Shazam with ONErpm! Get started HERE!
Streaming music provider Rdio has just launched its services in 20 new countries, making for a total reach of 51 different international markets. That’s more than rival Spotify, for those counting, which used to rival Rdio by exactly one after launching in four new countries back in September, for a total reach of 32 global spots. Rdio has seen its monthly active user growth from countries outside the U.S. grow from 30 percent at the start of 2013, to 57 percent by the end of the year.
The new countries in that group of 20 include much of Latin America, as well as parts of Europe and Africa, and members who sign up as new users in those markets will get free access to Rdio on the web for six months, and two weeks free trial on mobile. The service provides access instantly to Rdio’s library of over 20 million tracks, which features new releases every week. Rdio also recently launched greatly improved Rdio radio stations, which can be created from an artist, genre track or based on your collection.
Rdio has been facing challenges with its business lately, and laid off staff recently, including closing its regional Canada office entirely. Then in early December it named Amazon vet Anthony Bay as its new CEO. Bay took over for Drew Larner, who announced his intention to step down from the chief executive role earlier this year.
It’s been a long while since Rdio has announced anything in terms of subscriber numbers or MAUs, and the percentage increase reported today manages to tout some success without actually saying much, except for the fact that international growth appears to be what it considers a key element to its future success. Rival Spotify had about 24 million MAUs as of last count, and that Rdio rival is announcing something at a special event kicking off at 10 AM ET today, which we’ll be covering. That speaks volumes about the timing of this expansion announcement, which is likely designed to take some wind out of those Spotify sails.
Here’s a full list of the new countries where Rdio is launching today:
Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
ARTISTS / LABELS: Distribute your music directly to Rdio for FREE with ONErpm!
Source: TechCrunch (by Darrell Etherington)
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