Search is going social in a variety of ways as search engines look to social proof to make search results more relevant and users turn to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook for more of their information needs. Google’s dominant role in search and web video, through YouTube, allows them to shape this process by pushing Google+ to the center of the Googlesphere to the degree that Google+ is now an inescapable tool for music marketing.
Google+ has been a growing factor in Google search results since 2011 with mostly confirming studies since though conflicting studies are starting to emerge.
However even conflicting studies can’t cancel out the fact that if Google is now using social proof as part of its results rankings, then Google+ participation would affect those rankings. Even if that were not the case, Google is introducing multiple reasons to convince or even force your participation.
YouTube Comments Will Soon Require Google+ Accounts
Last week YouTube began to introduce comments “powered by Google+” with full rollout by the end of the year. The new system means that comments about videos on Google+ can show up on YouTube, comments can have privacy settings and new moderation tools are available.
Based on additional details, this new system should be an improvement for videomakers and marketers:
"comments from the video creator will be ranked very highly and surfaced more regularly…The system will also push comments from popular personalities on YouTube and people in your Google+ circles higher up the comment chain, as well as highly engaged discussion about the video. Just like before, you will be able to vote comments up or down, too, and those votes will also influence the ranking…"
"YouTube will now also aggregate public comments about a video from Google+ and display them on YouTube….users on YouTube itself will now also be able to have private conversations on the site by leaving comments that can only be seen by people in their Google+ circles or individual users."
Google Authorship Now Requires Google+ Accounts
I’ve been remiss is not discussing the benefits of the Google Authorship program for solo musicians and individuals building their music industry brands but both Roo Raymond and Bob Baker recently addressed the topic.
In the latest version of Google Authorship you connect Google+ to your web content, in particular blog posts and website articles, and then your Google+ avatar appears with a byline next to your first content-related search result.
Google is partnering with multiple platforms including Wordpress (.com I assume) and Typepad which will further simplify the process for many bloggers.
For Wordpress.org users, various plugins are addressing the issue including Jetpack 2.5.
But the biggest recent change in Authorship is that you no longer have to be signed into Google+ to see those avatars in search results.
See Search Engine Land for more on Google Authorship.
What About the Death of Keywords?
So keywords aren’t really dying, they’re just becoming a bit less key to the Googleverse and that means, in the tech world, that they’re dying.
Hyperbole aside, the role of keywords in SEO is changing as search changes. As Google moves to encrypt all searches, analytics results for keywords used on Google will no longer be available. Though other tools can help take up the slack, this is a major step in undermining the gaming of keywords by SEO practitioners.
But if you take a look at these suggestions for post-Penguin SEO, you’ll start to see that the way forward is a move away from tricks and towards engagement, quality content and honest navigation.
Both earlier seo changes at Google and newsfeed changes at Facebook suggest the same thing, doing what’s best for your readers and site visitors will ultimately improve your presence on Google and Facebook.
Key Points for Musicians and Music Marketers
Emphasis is shifting towards engagement and high quality content in search results and on social media and away from tricks and techniques for higher rankings.
Current changes involving Google+, especially Authorship, privilege individuals over groups. Keep an eye on those changes and make sure you have a Google+ page for your band in the interim.
Keywords have never been the biggest issue for musicians beyond making sure you’re found when they search for your name though they have been of use for particular marketing tactics.
Focus on getting your name out there. Make sure you have a broad but manageable social media presence. And be sure your official website’s homepage has your name in the title and in relevant text on the page and you’ll be found.
When in doubt, serve your fans.
Source: Hypebot (by Clyde Smith)
Music videos are no small potatoes for YouTube, and Google’s looking at making them bigger in Google Search results — literally.
As part of Google’s quest to more tightly integrate its different services, the company appears to be experimenting with how music videos appear in Google Search results, according to the blog Google Operating System. The top search result for a music video would be significantly larger preview of the video itself, in the style of a Google Now card, with additional information such as the artist name, song title, album name, and year released.
It’s not clear if the preview will let you play the video directly from the search results list, or if you’ll have to click through to YouTube. It’s also unclear whether Google will be opening this test out to more people.
ARTISTS / LABELS: Monetize your videos on YouTube through ONErpm’s Premium Network and earn more revenue! Get started by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
Source: CNET (by Seth Rosenblatt)
Musician Zoë Keating earned $808 from 201,412 Spotify streams of tracks from two of her older releases in the first half of 2013, according to figures published by the cellist as a Google Doc.
The spreadsheet was Keating’s latest attempt to shed more light on the issue of streaming music payouts to artists, as part of the wider debate on whether Spotify and its rivals can generate a sustainable income for musicians.
"This is streaming revenue reported from January to June 2013 for my 2 old recordings distributed by CDBaby," explained Keating in the notes section on her spreadsheet.
The 201,412 Spotify plays of songs from her One Cello x 16 EP and One Cello x 16: Natoma album earned Keating 0.4 cents per stream (just under 0.3p in UK terms), after digital distributor CDBaby’s 9% cut is factored in.
How do other streaming music services compare to Keating’s Spotify payouts? She earned $54.40 from 7,908 plays on US service Rhapsody at 0.69 cents per stream, although that included mechanical royalties payments for writing the songs as well as performing them.
Keating earned a mere $13.38 from 387 plays of these songs on Microsoft’s Xbox Music service, although the per-stream rate there was a startling 3.5 cents.
The spreadsheet includes payments from Apple’s iTunes Match and Amazon’s Cloud Drive – 0.2 and 0.05 cents per stream respectively, although as services that let people stream music they already own from cloud lockers, these represent different licensing deals to Spotify, Rhapsody and Xbox Music.
Keating’s EP and album earned $1,617 from SoundExchange – the US company that collects royalties from services including Pandora, iHeartRadio and Sirius XM – and $930.26 from YouTube, although data on the number of plays in these cases is not available.
Her total streaming payments for these two releases were $3,454.28 in the first half of 2013. Keating’s last album, 2010’s Into the Trees, is available to buy, but not to stream.
Keating has a history of releasing this kind of raw data, as the debate about how much artists get paid from streams as opposed to sales of their music has grown in volume.
"If we are going to discuss the ideal structure of the new music industry, we need to know how recording artists make a living today or we’re just spouting hyperbole," she wrote in a previous Google Doc, released to share details of her digital earnings between October 2011 and March 2012.
"So, in the interest of evolving the discussion, I am making myself into a data point. I encourage other artists, if they are able, to do the same."
That first Google Doc revealed that nearly 97% of Keating’s income came from sales of her music on iTunes, Amazon and her own Bandcamp website. During that six-month period, Keating earned just under $47k from iTunes, $25k from Bandcamp and nearly $11.2k from Amazon, but less than $300 from Spotify.
Google has today launched a pan-European ad campaign for its first music-streaming service, Google Music All Access, as it seeks to take on rivals such as Spotify.
The campaign, by Isobar UK, introduces All Access, the new subscription service from Google Play Music, Google’s digital distribution platform for music.
The service went live in Europe last week and includes access to Google’s music catalogue, free storage of up to 20,000 tracks and a personalised “radio” option, which streams tracks based on a user’s music taste.
The radio function is similar to the service introduced by Google Play’s primary rival Spotify in 2011 and pioneered by Last.fm.
Isobar created the marketing campaign, which spans OOH, print and digital. The agency, recently renamed from Glue Isobar, worked with Essence on the digital media and OMD UK on print and OOH.
The campaign imagery aims to reflect Google’s simple aesthetic, with plain ads featuring plenty of white space around the product. The six videos in the digital campaign tell personal stories about people’s relationship with music.
The activity will run in France, Italy, Spain and the UK. Further video content is planned for the autumn.
Isobar’s UK office works with Google on a project basis and was appointed to the international Google Play account in May, after a competitive pitch.
Nick Bailey, the executive creative director at Isobar, said the work was “a conversation-starting campaign, which perfectly reflects the popular, human essence of the Google brand”.
Adam King was the creative director for the campaign and Mark Light art directed it.
Source: Campaign Live (by Louise Ridley)
Last October, Google shut down Google Music in China, and today, some nine months later, the company appears to have cut the cord on a similar experimental service that it ran in India.
Though the service is offline, the company has not officially communicated its closure. We’ve reached out to Google to get more details. Medianama reports that the catalog had gotten old of late, showing signs that the service was gathering mothballs and suggesting that this is an all-out switch off rather than an outage.
Google launched Music in India in October 2010. Like the Chinese offering, users could search out and stream tracks from a range of partner sites right from the Web-based Google service.
In a world in which music is often licensed to a limited number of streaming services, multi-platform offerings like Google’s are something different in that users can play music from multiple services from just one spot. Ultimately, it looks like there was not enough potential in the business for Google to keep the service — a product of its experimental Labs division — going.
The apparent closure of Google Music India follows the shuttering of Flipkart’s Flyte digital music store in May. Unlike Google Music, Flyte was not free and it charged customers to download DRM-free tracks. However, both may have suffered from increased competition as freemium streaming startups Dhingana, Saavn and Gaana continue to grow both on the Web and via mobile apps.
All three of the aforementioned services offer a free-to-use ad-supported service, alongside a Spotify-style premium monthly subscription that includes offline support and storage on mobile.
Source: TNW (by Jon Russell)
In a continuation of YouTube’s focus on user-generated content, the Google-owned video site is launching a video series to provide guidance for users that want to turn their channel from a hobby into a full-time gig.
‘YouTube Pro’ will give advice on a range of issues, such as crowdfunding, attracting and managing advertisers, using a manager, recording content series and more.
The videos will feature input from YouTube and video content pros who have been there, done that and lived the scenarios, as YouTube’s blog explains:
The first topic we’ll cover is “Working with Advertisers”. In these four videos, learn from Dane Boedigheimer, Spencer Griffin of College Humor, Kurt Hugo Schneider and Elle Walker about all aspects of effectively pitching and executing branded content deals. They give advice on pitching an idea, what to include in a contract, how to price a deal, as well as to stay true to your audience through the process.
In addition, the company is also announcing live events that will take place in New York, Los Angeles and London soon.
YouTube recently passed its eight-year anniversary, and it revealed that users now upload 100 hours of video per hour on average. But the site has spent the last two years aiming to go beyond simply being the Web’s largest repository of video content, as it has taken steps to encourage original content and programming on its service.
This year, Google is taking the service into new territory with the recent launch of paid-for channels that are aimed at rivaling streaming services like Hulu and Netflix.
That isn’t YouTube’s first foray into original content. It kicked off its Channels program in 2011, which provides selected content partners with an undisclosed sum of funding to create content for YouTube channels. The money is not free, but instead is an up-front payment of future advertising earnings over the next year. But it does give partners a lump-sum that can be invested in equipment and talent to produce compelling shows — that’s the aim, at least.
The video series doesn’t complement Channels — such selected partners are usually at a fairly advanced stage already — it is aimed at helping those aiming to take their living from YouTube to take their first step…Channels would be a program they might later aspire to be part of.
Source: TNW (by Jon Russell)
Cantankerous critics gripe that nothing is new in music anymore, except ways of melding and repackaging what has come before.
Rhapsody’s new app does just that, and the company is hoping the combination will hit the right notes to win new subscribers and distinguish it in a crowded field of competitors
The company, one of the oldest Web subscription music services, is launching a concert tickets app on Tuesday.
It’s the second of Rhapsody’s companion apps to its namesake one for streaming music, following up Songmatch, a Shazam-like offering that plugs tunes into playlists. Rhapsody has more apps on the way, as it turns greater focus to mobile.
It launches Tuesday for iOS, with an Android version to follow.
Other apps already exist to find shows and purchase tickets. Live Nation, the huge concert promoter and world’s largest ticket seller via its Ticketmaster merger, has an app to sell tickets — and is nearing the launch of a new platform that will give it more flexibility. Ticket reseller StubHub, a unit of eBay, dominates the secondary ticket market and has an app as well.
But Rhapsody Concerts is setting itself apart by marrying ticketing with its on-demand streaming capabilities. To find live events, users can search by artist, venue, or what is nearby, either by a search or with GPS. Ticket purchases occur in the app itself, powered by SeatGeek. SeatGeek’s program shares revenue of the ticket sales with partners like Rhapsody.
Unlike other ticket apps, the Rhapsody offering can take users into an on-demand choices — subscribers can listen to the performer’s full albums right away, get to know the music of opening acts, or find similar artists.
Digital music is one of the few corners of the music industry that is flourishing, which has attracted a diverse and crowded field of competitors. In addition to other streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, giants like Google and Apple are throwing their weight behind their own challengers.
As consumer spending on concert tickets recovers after the economic downturn, another company with its model threatened by new entrants has turned to live events as a new pillar of support. Redbox’s DVD rental kiosks are the main profit engine under the hood of parent company Coinstar, still named for the coin-counting kiosks it was founded on.
But online video streaming outfits like Netflix and other forms of video on demand have the days of the DVD format numbered. Redbox has partnered with Verizon for its own streaming video offering, but it also is testing live-event ticketing at kiosks as a way to leverage its machinery into a new way to make money, still linked to entertainment.
Having expanded the foray to a second market earlier this year, Redbox has found the strategy offers inventory owners and venues a way to promote their events to entertainment-conscious consumers at the nearly ubiquitous kiosks and immediately sell tickets to them in a simple way.
Rhapsody’s new app is aiming for the same behavior, and it’s putting it in the palm of your hand.
"Our members are huge music fans and we have always understood that fans want to ‘do more than listen,’" said Paul Springer, Rhapsody’s senior vice president of product and design. "We wanted to go another step forward for fans by helping them discover great live events."
Source: CNet (by Joan Solsman)
7digital, the London-based company that offers digital music store services to some of the world’s leading consumer electronics companies, including Samsung and Blackberry, as well as to smaller companies and startups like doubleTwist and Turntable.fm, is announcing the wide release of its streaming music platform for DMCA radio partners in the U.S.
The new-and-improved streaming radio API from 7digital is designed to help anyone launch their own streaming radio service, one which is fully compliant with DMCA restrictions in the U.S, and which also includes all of 7digital’s extensive catalog of licensed music – a library of more than 25 million tracks and growing as of this writing.
Already, 7digital offers streaming music licensing for some DMCA radio providers in the U.S., including NYC-based Turntable.fm, which also used the 7digital API to launch its new Piki service, the music-based social network it debuted late last year. Piki, along with any other app that complies to U.S. DMCA streaming radio regulations, must fit very specific conditions to offer its service, in terms of being able to skip tracks or not, how users can search for songs and artists and more. It all sounds a bit constricting, but 7digital President of North America Vickie Nauman says that in fact, they’re finding the DMCA-style radio experience is exactly what users are looking for to replicate the ease and convenience of terrestrial radio.
“In the old days you drive your car and you push a button and you listen to a program that’s been streamed for you,” she said. “It’s easy, you find someone that can curate, and something that’s to your liking, and it’s such a great lean-back experience and we’ve been watching the marketplace and we feel that the partners that we have that are doing really well, combined with the need people have for a really easy way to listen to their music have led us to decide that this year we’re really going to focus on radio.”
7digital’s radio push comes at a time when streaming radio seems to be the order of the day. Google has just launched its own All Access streaming music and radio service, while Apple is said to be preparing its own iRadio service, which could potentially launch as soon as next week at WWDC. But while the space is heating up in terms of competition, Nauman believes it’s heating up in terms of interest among potential 7digital partners as well, and that represents a big opportunity.
“Everyone watches what they do, and then they play their cards, and people see the products, and people say ‘Oh, well we can do that better’,” she said. “For Apple, I’m certainly a fan of the devices, and the way they incorporate hardware, software and content, and I used to work at Sonos so I have a real appreciation for the elegance of having all three of those pieces work well, but Apple is going to build things for iOS, and for iOS users, and especially as you go outside of the U.S. you realize there are a lot of other operating systems and devices in different parts of the world.”
In the end, though, 7digital isn’t choosing radio streaming over and above other options. It still plans on offering its digital purchasing and download model, as well as on-demand streaming as a separate option. In fact, Nauman says that 7digital wants to offer solution that highlight how different delivery systems can work seamlessly together. There’s an option to plug its streaming radio API directly into the 7digital store, for instance, which she says should result in such a seamless shopping experience that users would be able to hear a song, purchase it as simply as if they’d liked it or given it a thumbs up, and then have it delivered automatically to their cloud locker.
7digital’s streaming radio API is designed for big companies and startups alike, and Nauman says it should be particularly helpful to startups in terms of simplifying the thorny licensing issues around music and letting companies focus on products. That leads to a dramatic increased capability in terms of go-to-market time, and lowers a huge barrier faced when starting up any media-focused enterprise. But with so many big fish in the pond, it’ll be interesting to see how eager others are to jump in.
Source: TechCrunch (by Darrell Etherington)
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)
Spotify’s quest for world domination is continuing.
The top on-demand, streaming-music service is set to launch in eight new markets, including Mexico, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, the Baltics, and Iceland, according to a person familiar with the situation. The rollouts could come as soon as tomorrow.
Adding territories has been a top priority for Spotify, which is racing to boost its user base. Spotify, which launched in the U.S. just over a year and a half ago, now has 24 million active users, 6 million of whom are paying subscribers. It’s become the fastest-growing digital music company ever, and is second in reach only to Internet radio company Pandora. With the additional markets, Spotify will be in 28 territories in all.
Growth is key for a number of reasons. The company is trying to negotiate better terms with the music labels, which earn the bulk of every dollar — roughly 70 percent — that Spotify brings in. The more Spotify is paying to the music labels and publishers, the better its position at the negotiating table. Spotify is already the label’s No. 2 source of digital revenue behind Apple, and CEO Daniel Ek has said his company is on track to pay rights holders $500 million this year alone — the same amount the company paid out in total since launching in 2008.
Yet competition is growing — and fast. The big tech titans — including Google, Apple, and Amazon — are all gearing up soon to add streaming-music services of various sorts. So the quicker Ek and his team can open new markets and build the brand, the better.
Adding new markets requires its own set of negotiations. Each new territory requires new deals with music rights holders, something that Ek has said is Spotify’s biggest limiter to growth. In addition, these new services — both for mobile devices and PCs — will be in local languages.
Spotify has amped up its marketing efforts in recent weeks as it seeks to build its name among mainstream music fans. The company last month launched its first-ever TV campaign, and last week it rolled out an ad across the top of YouTube, which has become the go-to site for young people to listen to music.
Source: CNet (by Paul Sloan)