Apple had no shortage of new things to announce at WWDC 2013 yesterday, and iTunes Radio is one of the highlights. The company’s new music service has been long-rumored, but now the curtains are drawn and we can see what the Pandora-like streaming radio offering actually looks like.
iTunes Radio is essentially what we’ve been hearing it would be: a streaming music service that takes your tastes into account in order to play tracks that are likely to be in line with your tastes. Apple really has essentially taken its Genius jukebox-style feature, which combs your library and builds genre-based playlists, or suggests recommended artists and tracks based on what you’re currently listening to. The difference with the new service is that it can access the entire iTunes catalog, which, at this point, is well over 26 million tracks. Sony, Universal and Warner are all on board.
The service will be free for U.S. users, and will use both text and audio ads to support the free streaming. iTunes Match subscribers won’t receive ads, making the subscription service a bit more compelling. Track skipping is supported, which was something that was reported to be a sticking point in negotiations with music label partners leading up to this product launch.
What’s striking is that it looks a lot like Pandora. On iOS, you create your custom stations, you can give a thumb up if you like a song. In the corner of every song, iOS shows a “Buy” button to make to funnel song purchases in the iTunes Store. It was probably one of the requirements to sign the deals with major music companies and could become a good revenue generator for the iTunes Store.
As a reminder, Google has just introduced its own streaming music service, All Access for Google Play, which will cost users $9.99 per month after June 30 and provides complete access to 18 million songs available on Play. This service competes more with Spotify and Rdio than with Pandora. Google is also releasing an app for iOS devices to provide access to the service. Pandora, which has around 20 million tracks, offers its basic product for free, but also has a premium tier called Pandora One for $3.99 per month that drops ads, provides access to a desktop app and ups the number of skips a user is allowed per day.
Apple’s iTunes Radio will arrive sometime in the fall for U.S. users initially. The release should coincide with iOS 7. In Addition to iOS devices, the Apple TV will get iTunes Radio.
Source: Techcrunch (by Darrell Etherington)
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)
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)
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!
There is a great episode of Seinfeld in which Kramer, fed up with receiving junk mail, decides to permanently suspend his mail service. Mailman Newman attempts to convince Kramer to reconsider by offering a series of hypotheticals — What about bills? What about cards and letters? — each of which Kramer dismisses with sound logic. Newman is eventually forced to concede that physical mail is unnecessary. “Of course nobody needsmail!” he finally blurts out, daunted. It’s a very funny scene that makes a pretty compelling case for not needing the USPS.
But Newman was wrong. In fact, a good portion of USPS’s 7 million daily customers own businesses that rely almost exclusively on the troubled agency. And Monday’s dramatic rate increase has the potential to cripple or hamper greatly the livelihood of some of those most loyal and dependent customers. Chief among these are bands and independent labels with international customers, for whom the USPS provides a lifeline that no laptop, fax machine, or smartphone can provide.
First, the good news: the changes in Domestic shipping rates are relatively minimal. According to the official Domestic and International Shipping Price Change breakdown on the USPS’s official website, Express Mail has increased 5.8%, Priority Mail 6.3%, Parcel Select 9% and First Class 3%. This is cause for mild concern, but such a hike is not unreasonable, given the post office’s highly publicized financial woes (more on that later). Even Media Mail, beloved by everyone from fanzine editors to high profile indie labels, will not be greatly affected by the hike.
International mail is a different story. Published prices for all retail international Shipping Services –- Global Express Guaranteed (GXG), Express Mail International (EMI), Priority Mail International (PMI), and Airmail M-Bags -– show an average increase of 14.5 percent (with many services increasing far above that figure). Many small labels and artists ship as much as half of their stock to fans overseas, and this sharp rate increase is the highest since most of those labels began operating.
Great ad by Official.fm. Sends a message against ads and music.
Since 2006, hip-hop artist MC Lars has been a poster boy for indie music success and the DIY work ethic. After a short-lived relationship with Terry McBride and the Canadian record label/management company Nettwerk five years ago, Lars formed his own label, Horris Records. Since then, he has taken his self-described “post-punk laptop rap” and delivered it to a target audience he calls the ”iGeneration” — kids born between 1982 and 2000.
A couple of months ago I sent my assistant and ace correspondent Kendra Wright to the St. Louis date on the 2011 Vans Warped Tour. There she sat down with MC Lars and captured his thoughts on his approach to a DIY music career, making money as an indie musician, his advice for new artists, and much more.
Here are the first two video excerpts from that great interview:
Article originally appeared on The Buzz Factor (http://www.thebuzzfactor.com) and was written by Bob Baker.
I just got back from teaching social media master classes throughout Finland, Norway and Iceland and many musicians asked me to help them understand what traditional publicity is and how it fits into their overall planning. This is a past article I wrote which I have recently updated for you for navigating the world of traditional PR. So, it’s back to the basics today…
I talk to musicians all day who call looking to hire a publicist, and I’ve noticed that many artists don’t really understand what publicity is. The following list will clarify the concept of publicity for you.
1. The Definition of Publicity.
First, we are going to start out with the very basics – some definitions of what publicity is exactly, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Publicity – “An act or device designed to attract public interest; specifically: information with news value issued as a means of gaining public attention or support. Also: The dissemination of information or promotional material.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Publicity is exactly these things.
A music publicist is hired as a member of your team to represent you to the media. Media is defined traditionally as editors and writers at newspapers, magazines, college journals, and television. Some publicists may also cover radio for interviews on tour stops. But if you want to get on the radio charts (like CMJ), you will need a radio promoter. More and more publicists also cover Internet PR, like my company. But not all traditional publicists do this, so make sure to ask before you hire.
A publicist’s job is to liaise with the press. They are not hired to get you a booking agent or gig, a label deal, a distribution deal, or any other type of marketing deal. That is what a manager is for. A well-connected publicist may be able to hook you up with all of the above-mentioned things, but it is not in her job description.
2. You Are in the Driver’s Seat.
Remember, as the artist, you are the buyer here, and you are shopping for PR. You are in the driver’s seat. It’s your money and your music that keep publicists in business. Hiring a publicist is like hiring another guitar player for your band. Choose one you like, who fits your vision and your goals. All too many times I’ve heard that a publicist was hired in spite of the artist’s personal opinions. You should like your publicist, and she should be the right one for you.
3. With Publicity, You Pay for Effort – Never for Results.
I have had disgruntled artists call me and say, “I hired a publicist and I only got six articles. That cost me $1,000 per article!” Sadly, this is not how you quantify a PR campaign. How you quantify a PR campaign is by how many albums were sent out and what the responses were, even if they were inconclusive or negative. You pay for the amount of effort the publicist made on your behalf. Of course, you should get some and even many results. Getting nothing is totally unacceptable. But you never know when your publicist’s efforts will show up months, and sometimes years, after your campaign is complete.
4. A PR Campaign Needs to Be Planned Well in Advance.
For long-lead press (that means magazines with national distribution like Spin and Rolling Stone), the editors put their publications to bed three full months before they hit the newsstands. So if your CD is coming out in October, you must have it pressed with full artwork and ready with materials to mail in July. Of course not all PR campaigns focus on national press, but no publicist will take you on with zero lead-time, so you definitely need to prepare lead-time in every case.
Recommended Publicity Campaign Lead Times:
(Placement = article, CD review, calendar listing, TV/radio interview, etc.)
5. The 4 Components of a Press Kit.
I see fewer and fewer actual press kits these days. A great one sheet will suffice in today’s digital world, however a thorough press kit consists of four parts: the bio; the photo; the articles, quotes & CD reviews; the CD.
6. Publicity is a Marathon, Not a Sprint.
PR is very different in nature from a radio campaign that has a specific ad date and a chart that you are paying to try to get listed on. There is no top 40 publicity chart. With the sheer number of albums coming out into the marketplace (approx 1,000 per week), it could take months longer than your publicity campaign runs to see results.
7. Online Publicity is Just as Important as Offline Publicity.
I would argue that online PR is more important, because today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s recycling. This of course unless the newspaper also posts the article online (which most are doing now). Online publicity goes up fast, and it can be around for months and sometimes for years.
Current sales figures show that people are reading newspapers less and less with every passing day. More people rely on the Internet as their main news source, and on recommendations from friends, so Internet placements are absolutely wonderful and totally legit, and they can help your Google rankings as well.
8. Publicity Does Not Sell Records.
If you are hiring a publicist to see a spike in your CD sales, I have news for you: There is absolutely no correlation between getting great PR and selling CDs or downloads.
PR is designed to raise awareness of you in the press, to help build a story, and also build up critical acclaim – and, of course, a great article can lead to sales. But overall, if selling albums is your goal, PR is not the only thing you will need to reach it; you will also need to build your loyal fan base and take care of fans with sweet offers.
9. All Publicity is Good Publicity.
I know we have all heard this, but it’s a great thing to really understand. If one of your goals in PR is to get your name out there (and this should be a goal), the truth is that the average person remembers very little of what they read. Only a tiny percentage gets retained. If you really think that readers are going to remember a tepid or a mediocre review of your album, the answer is, they won’t.
And never ever take your own PR seriously. As my favorite artist Andy Warhol once said, “Don’t read your press; weigh it.”
Article originally appeared on Hypebot (http://www.hypebot.com) and was written by Ariel Hyatt.
Though we tend to hear of “pay what you want” music pricing models from big artists like Radiohead, Atlum Schema has found pay what you want for CDs at live shows to be a viable model for lesser known artists as well. However, fans may not be looking for specific products so much as something that connects them to the larger experience.
“Pay What You Want” for CDs may not be a theme many in the music industry want to hear. But according to Atlum Schema, aka Andy Mort, pay what you want for CDs at live shows can work if you connect with your fans.
Atlum Schema states:
“More people started buying my CDs when I said it was up to them what they paid. I would also encourage the idea that my main goal was for anyone who wanted one to have one, even if they couldn’t give me any money for it. Essentially, just pay what you can afford, even if that is nothing. People started giving me lots more money.”
He points to the fact that people buying CDs at live shows are buying something more than a product:
“But they were not giving me £30 for the CD itself, they were giving it for something more, albeit something much less tangible, something you cannot put a price on. The CD merely represented a part of the bigger thing, and the pay what you can model is actually a part of what they are buying into.”
For Atlum Schema pay what you want is not a gimmick but a method for drawing in fans. If they’ve had a good experience and connect the purchase to that experience, then he’s happy with the return.
It certainly takes a leap of faith to go from pricing based on what you need or want to make to pricing based on what your fans want to pay. But for Atlum Schema it’s working out just fine.
Article originally appeared on HypeBot (http://www.hypebot.com) and was written by Clyde Smith.