So, you want your music to be heard around the world? A new eMarketer report, says the number of worldwide social network users will climb to 1.73 billion this year. That means one in four people on the planet will regularly use Facebook, Twitter or one of their many competitors.
The Asia-Pacific region is expected to be the biggest driver of social network growth in the next few years, while developed markets such as North America and Western Europe are slowly approaching saturation. With approximately 777 million users, Asia-Pacific currently has the largest social network audience. China alone has more social network users than North America and Western Europe combined.
Until 2015, eMarketer predicts annual double digit growth for social networks around the world. By 2017, 2.55 billion or one in three people could be using social networks according to the report.
Source: Hypebot (by Bruce Houghton)
The pace of change in technology is mind boggling. But is that also true for music tech? Many say that licensing hurdles slows music tech innovation. Perhaps some, but the commercial mp3 is less than 20 years old; and look at all that has made possible, This infographic from Soundcontrol, atempts to chronicle the last decades of music tech.
Source: Hypebot (by Bruce Houghton)
Independent artists can make more money than ever before. The walls of major label distribution have crumbled, and have been down for a decade. Social networks make promotion to fans easier and cheaper. Add in home recording, crowd-sourced artwork, and other cost cutting maneuvers and DIY musicians can be financially successful.
Or so goes the myth.
Reality is far murkier. Yes, it is possible to make money as a DIY artist and many are doing it. However, they are not making it from selling recorded music. That can certainly bring in money, but even modestly successful DIY artists generally gross $20,000 to $50,000 from sound recordings annually. These are artists who have many songs in their catalog with some momentum. After you take into account recording costs and splitting revenue amongst band members and the producer, there’s not a lot left. Even those with a big enough fan base to do deluxe packages get a decent gross, but profits can be elusive.
Yet, DIY artists living below stardom are consistently finding profitable careers. How are they achieving this if iTunes and Spotify revenues aren’t paying the bills? The ones who are making a profit mostly fall into one of these three buckets:
Complain all you want about musicians making YouTube covers and goofy videos instead of being “serious”. The reality is many of them make a good living from this. Costs are minimal compared to professional studio time. Distribution costs are near zero. The casualness of the content also allows for more rapid creation than one might find for “official” recorded work.
Companies such as Maker Studios and Big Fra.me have grown to help these artists monetize their music with better-leveraged ad rates, production assistance, and channel cross-promotion. Once ramped up with a lot of content, successful artists in this area can clear mid-to-high five figures in revenue. Since they are often solo artists, they also don’t have to split it up much.
2) LIVE TOURING
It’s a rough life trudging from city to city, especially with gas over $3 a gallon. Yet many artists have figured out a way to make this work. The rise of house concerts has allowed some to make thousands per night when a club in town might have previously paid them hundreds.
Social networking has made promotion in new cities cheaper and easier to find the dozen “super fans” that might bring friends to a show. Smart artists also tour in areas where they know a fan base exists from mailing list and social network data points.
Once at the show, with an audience primed to like the band (instead of grumpy locals), these artists sell more merchandise. Easier access to creative items like sunglasses, jewelry, and handbags also leads to increased sales. Add this up, and musicians who aggressively work these approaches take in mid-to-high five figures in profit. As tough as touring can be, artists focused on this are clearly leveraging it into a career.
3) SYNC PLACEMENTS
The proliferation of cable channels and niche online audiences has meant more content and advertising that needs to be created professionally. This has also led to more needs for music around the world. Creators also can’t settle for mediocre library music. They need professional, contemporary songs that fit the mood of the creative.
Artists who fit the sound requirements and have a certain buzz amongst music supervisors are often rewarded with multiple placement opportunities for their music. Rates can be as lower than $100 (on sites like Audiosocket, The Music Bed, and Cuesongs), but they can also be upwards of $100,000 for a worldwide television spot. Even after paying a placement company, an artist can still end up with a mid-to-high five figures in profit. This is also before they may get lucky with the “magic sync” that results in larger sales and popularity.
There are multiple examples of DIY artists who could fit into each of these buckets, but there are very few that were actually succeeding in multiple buckets.
YouTube artists don’t get enough road experience to draw well and their music lacks the “cred” music supervisors want. Touring artists mostly have “road” content to post on YouTube (which doesn’t perform as well), and they are in the studio less often to make tracks for sync placements. Meanwhile, sync artists tend to avoid YouTube for fear of diminishing their brand with covers, and don’t get much name recognition for their sync placements to draw on the road.
While success in multiple categories is elusive for most, success comes to those who focus on one revenue stream. By putting their energy in growing that one element, a musician quickly learns what works for that bucket. Then they refine their trade to fit the medium and achieve greater success. Laser-sharp vision allows them the financial resources to make a living at what they love.
The disadvantage is that this singular focus makes it difficult to get the career momentum most artists desire. Those that want to be rich and famous in music need to be succeeding on radio, the Internet, press, TV, and touring. For the DIY musician, much of that is cost prohibitive anyway, so a focus on what you can achieve makes smart business sense. However, it also explains why most major labels continue to dominate the biggest selling artists. Even when the artist comes from an indie, they usually have a partnership with a major label to generate success.
If you are truly DIY and don’t have a team, focusing on one area to succeed is a wise business plan. If you achieve a lot of success in that bucket, then you can evaluate how to grow on your terms. The new music business may look different, but it’s clear that a focus allows a greater chance towards DIY success.
Source: MTT (by Jay Frank)
Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ had been streamed nearly 25.5m times on Spotify by the end of last week, with its weekly streams increasing over the previous four weeks as the song gathered momentum.
How do we know? Late last week, Spotify launched its new weekly charts, the Spotify 50 and Social 50, with the former ranking the 50 most-streamed songs in each of the 28 countries that Spotify is available in.
The chart shows weekly play-counts for each track, and is backdated to the week ending 28 April for every country. In other words, spend a bit of time digging into the Spotify 50 widget (as we have done today) and you can get national and global Spotify streaming counts for popular tracks.
‘Get Lucky’ is a good subject, because it was released on Spotify during that first week – meaning the four weekly charts available through the widget account for all its streams so far on the service. It’s also good, because the song has been such a hit, it appears in the Spotify 50 for every single country for each of those four weeks. There are no holes in the data.
Having typed all the figures in to a spreadsheet (here’s a public version for you to see the raw data), here’s what we’ve found:
‘Get Lucky’ was streamed 25,467,772m times in its first four weeks on Spotify. What’s more, its momentum built over time: 6m streams in week one, 6.3m in week two, 6.5m in week three and 6.7m in week four. Note, if you’re one of the early users who can see play-counts in Spotify’s desktop app, it’s currently showing nearly 29m plays for ‘Get Lucky’, meaning another 3.5m-odd plays so far since the 28 April (the last published chart).
The US, UK and Sweden were the three biggest countries for the track. The US accounted for 6.4m of ‘Get Lucky’ streams on Spotify for the four-week period as a whole – 25.3% of the total. That’s ahead of the UK’s 3.8m (15%) and Sweden’s 3m (11.9%). That means that together, these three countries accounted for 52.1% of ‘Get Lucky’s Spotify streams.
Other notable markets: Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Spain. This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise: key European countries where Spotify has been available for a while. Norway accounted for 1.7m streams over the four weeks, just ahead of the Netherlands (also 1.7m rounded up), Germany (1.6m), Denmark (1.4m), France (1.2m) and Spain (1m).
It’s very early days for Spotify in the Baltics. Last week, ‘Get Lucky’ was only streamed 5,657 times in Lithuania, but was still top of the Spotify 50 chart there. Streams are also counted in the thousands in Estonia and Latvia.
Using very rough calculations, all these streams may have generated $127k in payouts. We’re always wary of simple per-stream = X thus artist makes Y calculations, not least because we have no idea what the deal is between Daft Punk and label Colombia Records when it comes to streaming revenues. But if you take the $0.005-per-stream average that’s often cited (for example here) about Spotify, 25.5m plays generates around $127k of payouts.
We can see the negative headlines now: 25.5m plays for the biggest song in the world right now only makes $127k? Streaming sucks!
One, because as a single-track, ‘Get Lucky’ has sold like the clappers. In the same four-week period in the UK alone, it sold 606k units according to the Official Charts Company, alongside those 3.8m Spotify streams.
Two, because the ‘Random Access Memories’ album appears to have been pre-selling extremely strongly too. In the US alone, it’s expected to sell more than 250k copies in its first week – again, despite the album being available to stream on Spotify and other services.
Three, because the figures above are only for Spotify. They don’t include payouts from Rhapsody, Deezer, Rdio and other streaming services, nor do they include YouTube (34m plays so far for the official audio there).
Four, because people are going to keep playing ‘Get Lucky’ for the rest of 2013 and beyond. It has ‘summer hit’ written all over it. If summer ever deigns to arrive, that is. Spotify and its peers will keep paying out as long as people keep playing the song.
We’re not blinkered evangelists for streaming music – there is still too much murk around how streaming payouts make their way to artists, and reasons for concern about whether streaming services can find a sustainable business model for the long term.
What’s more, all the data in this blog post relates to one of the biggest hits of 2013 so far from a well-established artist: it doesn’t say much about what Spotify and streaming in general means for emerging artists, which is another point of contention within the industry.
But the really vital thing when talking about streaming music and how it’s paying off or not paying off for artists and music rightsholders is to look for accurate data, and start to draw conclusions based on that, rather than prejudice for or against the streaming model.
In short: here are some hard numbers….
Source: Musically (by Stuart Dredge)
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)
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)
The online video sharing site YouTube is this generation’s MTV. Artists like Gotye and PSY have found mainstream success after their videos went viral. Yet the number of cover songs — from toddlers singing The Beatles to teens tackling Led Zeppelin — eclipses original work by a long shot. Between those two extremes is an alternative universe of aspiring professional musicians who use cover songs on YouTube to build fan bases of their own. What these musicians once did for love and fame is starting to pay off in cold, hard cash.
If you search for a song called “Payphone” by Maroon 5, you’ll find the original, and you’ll find the Jayesslee version, the P.S. 22 version and one by Tyler Ward, a 24-year-old singer and songwriter from Denver with an all-American look and a sound that lives somewhere between indie pop and country. Ward uses YouTube to promote his music career — he posts covers trying to draw new fans.
“I started, actually, doing cover songs in the bar, trying to make ends meet every weekend,” he says. “So when I figured out what YouTube was, I just figured I could put these online, see what happens.”
What happened was an opening slot for the Jonas Brothers, a performance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and a headlining tour through Europe, the U.S. and Canada. But he could have made more money back at the bar singing those same songs.
“The challenge is, when an artist decides to cover a song, they don’t actually have the rights to make money on that song,” says George Strompolos, the CEO of Fullscreen Entertainment. Tyler Ward is one of his clients.
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)