curious 2know the status of my album? tweet BlackgroundMG. They control the $ & album date. In the meantime, I’m gonna keep working LoveUAll
The 2013 Billboard Music Awards pump big sales gains on the charts this week, thanks to blockbuster performances from the likes of Bruno Mars, Jennifer Lopez and Ed Sheeran. The show aired on May 19 from 8-11 p.m. EST on ABC.
In the week ending May 19, the broadcast spurred an overall 15% gain for the 18 previously-released songs performed on the broadcast, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That’s impressive, considering there were only a few hours left in the week before the close of business on Sunday night.
Combined, the 18 tunes sold 842,000 downloads — up from the 733,000 the week previous. Those songs include Mars’ “Treasure” (24,000; up 220%), Lopez’s “Live It Up” (65,000; up 53%) and Sheeran’s “Lego House” (56,000; up 134%).
“Treasure,” which is the third single from Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” album, also debuts on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at No. 71. It follows the album’s two previous No. 1s: “Locked Out of Heaven” and “When I Was Your Man.”
Other gaining songs include Chris Brown’s “Fine China” (35,000; up 41%), Selena Gomez’s “Come and Get It” (164,000; up 15%), will.i.am’s “#thatPower,” featuring Justin Bieber (81,000; up 3%) and David Guetta’s “Play Hard,” featuring Akon and Ne-Yo (12,000; up 164%).
Even a-ha’s classic Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit “Take On Me” earned a 30% gain, following its surprise performance on the show. The group’s singer, Morten Harket, joined Pitbull and Christina Aguilera during their rendition of “Feel This Moment,” which samples “Take On Me.” The latter cut moved 3,000 downloads for the week.
Next week, we could expect further sales gains, following a full week of post-show impact.
Source: Billboard (by Keith Caulfield)
As an entertainment attorney who was once an indie artist myself involved in a few different artistic disciplines, I know that the bridge between law and art doesn’t always seem straightforward. There’s certainly a lot of gray area, which could lead a person to probably think that the law would be one way, when it isn’t. Through my work, I’ve frequently encountered several myths regarding music law that I hope can eventually go away! While there are much more than 4, I found that these were especially common:
1. “A poor man’s” copyright is a “poor” way to properly protect the rights to your music.
Emailing or snail-mailing yourself a copy of your music (or other creative work) is what many people refer to as a so-called “poor-man’s” copyright. Let’s get this clear once and for all: the “poor man’s copyright” has never been a part of the US copyright law, nor is it recognized by law. It’s simply not a substitute for copyright registration in any way. Your copyrights actually arise when your original creative works are placed in a fixed format, such as when you record original music, or when you write down original lyrics on paper. By taking the step of timely registering your copyrights with the government (within 3 months of publication), you gain a host of great benefits. Perhaps the best benefit of timely registration is the ability to bring a copyright infringement lawsuit for $750 - $150,000.00 + attorney fees per act of infringement via statutory damages. By putting your trust in the “poor-man’s” copyright for your music, it might literally leave you “poor.”
2. There is no “50 second,” “5 second,” “8 bar,” or “1 bar” rule to being able to legally sample music you don’t own or control the rights to.
Another common myth echoed across the indie music scene is that there is a “50 second,” “5 second,” “8 bar,” or “1 bar” rule that permits you to legally sample music you don’t own or control into your own music creations. This is a very dangerous myth that needs to go away. When you sample any portion of someone’s music without proper authorization, it gives rise to a valid cause of action for copyright violation. The owner has every right to sue you, and if they did the right thing by timely registering their copyrights, then you could get hit with a pretty severe lawsuit money-wise. If you want to obtain the rights to sample music properly, you have to clear the rights to the music composition copyright, and if you want to use the sound recording, then the sound recording copyright has to get cleared as well.
As for the concept of “fair use,” it’s a defense that is used as a shield, not a sword to copyright infringement, and it’s a pretty difficult defense to prove in court. Sampling under fair use must be for the purpose of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. Further, the court will also weigh the following four factors to evaluate whether there was an actual fair use: (1) Purpose & character of the use – was it for profit or non profit and educational? (2) Whether the work been published already? (3) The amount and substantiality used; and (4) The harm done to the original copyright owner.
Long story short – don’t sample without securing the rights. More often than not, music sampling by musicians is not protected by fair use, and even if it is, you still have to pay to defend your argument in court. Your best bet: create your own original music.
3. Even if you don’t plan on selling your music/mixtapes with uncleared samples, and you just distribute them online/offline for free, it’s still copyright infringement.
Your copyright (both at common law and under federal registration) gives you as the copyright owner 6 exclusive rights – a bundle of rights if you will. Those being: (1) The exclusive right to reproduce your work; (2) The exclusive right to distribute your work; (3) The exclusive right to perform your work; (4) The exclusive right to display your work; (5) the exclusive right to make derivatives of your work; (6) The exclusive right to digitally transmit your work. While some artists might not make a fuss or even bother to contact you if they see that you used an uncleared mashup/mixtape /sampled song or master recording from their music being shared by you for free, they absolutely have every right to prevent you from doing so, and to enforce their rights. Whether its shared for free physically or online, the law is that only the copyright owner has the right to reproduce, distribute, and make derivatives of their music.
4. Securing a license to record a cover song doesn’t automatically give you the right to make and distribute a music video of your cover.
A cover license give you the right to make, reproduce, and distribute a certain amount of mechanical reproductions of music (i.e. reproductions via digital, CD, vinyl, etc. –whatever is specified in the license). While this may seem odd to lay people, a cover license doesn’t give you concurrent rights to make a music video of your cover. The right to do so is an entirely separate license called a synchronization license which you need to obtain from the copyright owner. Hence, if you’re goal is to record and distribute a cover song with an accompanying music video, you’ll need a mechanical license and a synchronization license as well.
Source: Hypebot (by Mita Carriman)
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.”
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)
Well, this partnership has now been expanded beyond the US, and is available to anyone in the UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil and Mexico.
Just to recap, Shazam is one of the most well-known media discovery and tagging services, letting users identify the name of a song or artist that’s playing simply by activating the app on their smartphone. These tags are stored on a user’s device, and lets them go and stream or download the song elsewhere when they find the time.
With the Rdio integration, however, this makes it easier for someone to play the song directly on their phone. The user must, of course, have the Rdio app installed too. While Rdio Unlimited subscribers can listen to the full song, new users can sign-up to a 14-day trial to hear the complete track, after which they’ll need to commit to the monthly $9.99 fee to continue to use this feature on their mobile.
So now, if you tag a song in Shazam and the song is available on Rdio, you will see a “Listen Now on Rdio” tab below the main artwork. If Rdio isn’t installed on your device, you’ll be taken to the relevant page on Google Play.
Users don’t have to install any app update, as the feature has been pushed live automatically already. This works in addition to the existing Spotify (since January 2011) and YouTube integration, though as you’ll note, Rdio takes precedent at the top.
“Working together in six major countries across the globe, we are now providing more than 120 million users of the free version of Shazam the ability to instantly listen to an entire song they just identified exclusively on Rdio,” said Jason Titus, CTO of Shazam.
Launched in 2010, Rdio gives on-demand access to more than 20 million songs, and is currently available in 24 countries.
Source: TNW (by Paul Sawers)