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)
As an independent recording artist, do you think of your music as a service or as a product?
When the phonograph debuted in 1877, the traditional service of music (live performance) was transformed into a product (recordings). This product was stored on physical media — wax cylinders that eventually evolved into vinyl records, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, digital downloads, and other formats. This single innovation, through its ability to reproduce recorded sound, forever changed the way we experience music.
It wasn’t long before people started thinking of music as something to own and collect as much as experience. When someone bought an album containing the music of Louis Armstrong or Benny Goodman or Les Paul, they owned it. They could keep it or they could sell it. It was theirs. And they could enjoy and appreciate that music without ever seeing the artist perform it live.
Virtually no one alive today remembers a time before vast, personal record collections, a day when music could be experienced only in the moment in which it was performed. But that is exactly how it was experienced for thousands of years before Edison.
Something surprising is happening in the 21st century. Recorded music is becoming less of a product every day.
In 2000, when digital downloading was gaining steam through Napster and other file-sharing platforms, sales of CDs started a precipitous decline. And they declined throughout the decade, losing more ground each year to iTunes and Amazon and other digital retailers. As the digital snowball grew, consumers learned to think of their music as a non-physical commodity — as digital files on iPods and computers rather than as pieces of molded plastic stacked on shelves. With the advent of music streaming via Rhapsody, Pandora, and Spotify, the transition of recorded music from product back to service was underway.
Suddenly you didn’t need to “own” a collection of non-biodegradable products that inefficiently held your favorite music recordings. You could simply pay for a service that granted you access to virtually all of the commercially available recordings in the world.
You could just summon the music whenever you wanted to hear it — in much the same way you might have asked a performer to play your favorite song in a public square in 1840. Or in 1540.
And the physical recordings you owned? Well, they sure did take up a lot of space.
So what does all this mean for you as an independent recording artist?
An interesting thing happens when people switch from buying CDs to paying for music-streaming services: the secondary market disappears. There is no equivalent to horse-trading in the streaming world. Your recordings on streaming services are always yours, no matter how many times people enjoy them, no matter how old they get. When someone listens to one of them, you’re paid. Every time.
No question, CDs still make great takeaways along with the merch at your live shows. But if you follow music commerce in 2013, you’re probably not spending too much time selling shiny, little plastic widgets with copies of your recordings on them. Instead, you are allowing your recordings to perform for your audience. When someone spins one of your songs on Rhapsody, you receive a payment of a little under a penny. On Spotify, you get about half a cent. And sure, that will probably never pay the light bill. But the transparent tracking of plays isn’t just about revenue. It’s about knowing how frequently your recording is being played, and understanding the nature and quality of the interactions between you and your audience.
It’s about building that essential relationship.
Streaming is changing the way we experience music. The recordings you’ve released into the world are now standing up and being counted every time they’re played. And their intrinsic value as a creative service performed — original to you — is here to stay.
Source: Music Think Tank (by Mark Doyon)
Rdio may not be available in as many places as, say, Spotify, but the relatively popular music service is certainly doing all it can to get there. As such, Rdio today announced (see press release below) that it has now arrived in seven additional markets, bringing its total presence to 31 countries and making this the first time it’s being offered in Asian territory. Hoping to lure folks in, Rdio’s quick to point out its promise to deliver up to six months of free internet-based tunes, after which streamers can easily upgrade to one of its various plans (assuming they want to, of course). Fret not if Rdio isn’t live in your hood; the company says it’s constantly working on expanding its reach, so hopefully we’ll see it pop up in more areas pretty soon.
Rdio Arrives To Asia and Adds Seven New Territories
We’re thrilled to welcome Malaysia, Hong Kong, Colombia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Poland to Rdio today! This step not only represents our deeper journey into South America and Europe, but also marks Rdio’s first step into Asia!
If you’re new to Rdio, sign up at rdio.com right now and we’ll gift you up to six months of free music. Discover old favorites and new jams with our web and desktop apps without ever pulling out the plastic. At any time you can upgrade to Rdio Web or Rdio Unlimited to stream unlimited music everywhere you go.
This exciting milestone brings Rdio to 31 countries in five continents! We’re constantly expanding our reach so let us know here where you’d like to see Rdio available next.
Source: Engadget (by Edgar Alvarez)
It looks like Twitter #Music has gotten a couple of improvements on the web — specifically to its individual artist profiles.
Previously, the artist page just pointed to the other artists that they were following. So the profile page for Fun., for example, pointed to the other musicians followed by Fun. on Twitter. (Clearly I’m writing this post to include as much #random punctuation. as possible.) Now it also includes a list of Fun.’s most tweeted tracks and links to artists who are similar.
These aren’t huge changes, but they do make the profile page more useful, both for discovering music by a given artist (if you click on a “most tweeted” track in a profile, an iTunes preview of the song will start playing) and for finding other artists you might like. I’m guessing that the various charts of trending music are still going to be the site’s main discovery mechanism, but now, at least, when you go from a chart to an artist page, it’s a little more interesting.
It looks like the changes are only live on the website currently, not on the mobile app. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the new features are live on the web for everyone, but she declined to say if and when they would be added to the app. (This suggests that we may want to keep an eye on the website for new Twitter #Music features before they hit mobile.)
By the way, Twitter #Music was in the news earlier this week because it’s going to have its own station within Apple’s just-announced iTunes Radio service.
Source: Techcrunch (by Anthony Ha)
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)
Music streamer Slacker today launched EQ Score, a new take on the music charts that measures not what tracks a fan likes, but also which ones they don’t. Music charts were about sales and radio airplay, but the rise of streaming and social media alongside declines in sales and traditional media have led to an almost constant reconfiguring of what constitutes a hit.
Slacker’s solution is to assign a number from 1 to 100, a Slacker EQ (Entertainment Quotient) score that measures hundreds of millions of weekly data points that show how deeply users are engaging with a song on Slacker. Uniquely, the Slacker algorithm is based on both on positive and negative actions, including:
The company produced the infographic on how EQ works:
Slacker EQ scores will be released every Thursday, tracking 40 songs across multiple genres from the previous week. Slacker has also launched a station that counts down the 40.
Source: Hypebot (by Bruce Houghton)
It’s coming down to the wire: will Apple have the necessary rights in place by next week in order to launch its planned streaming music service at WWDC? According to various leaks from music publishers over the last couple of days, it appears Apple’s plan is coming together.
The New York Times says that Apple is close to having all the major music labels on board for recorded music rights, but there are two who still have not signed on completely:
Apple has signed a deal with the Universal Music Group for its recorded music rights, but not for music publishing — the part of the business that deals with songwriting. Over the weekend, Apple also signed a deal with the Warner Music Group for both rights. It is still in talks with Sony Music Entertainment and Sony’s separate publishing arm, Sony/ATV.
The WWDC keynote starts at 10 a.m. PT Monday, so Apple has about five days to get all the necessary deals in place so it can announce a full library of streaming music that potential users would expect. Apple has been in these situations before — most notably with ebook publishers right before the launch of the iPad — and Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Services, has come through.
Details about what Apple is building — a streaming, radio-like service to augment its paid download iTunes service — have been leaking out since late last year. But one of the major aspects is still uncertain: pricing.
Source: Gigaom (by Erica Ogg)
Digital music service Rhapsody International has expanded its Napster brand to 14 new countries in Europe: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Use of the iconic and controversial Napster brand could help Rhapsody gain traction in an EU market already crowded with Spotify, Deezer, We7, Google Play and others.
Rhapsody International offers Rhapsody in the United States and Napster in Europe. For 9.95€ per month, users will have access to unlimited web and mobile streaming.
“As we expand Napster’s global footprint, we’ll continue to emphasize partnerships as the primary strategy to bring Napster to a wider audience on their favorite devices, no matter where they are,” said Jon Irwin, president, Rhapsody International.
Source: Hypebot (by Bruce Houghton)
Next time you hear the Recording Industry Association of America cry poor or make dire proclamations about the death of the music industry, keep this news article in mind. TorrentFreak has obtained copies of the RIAA’s IRS filing for 2011 — the most recent filing that has been released, as far as we know — and they make for very interesting reading indeed. You can read the entire document here, but we’ve pulled out some key points: read on for private investigators, fascinatingly elusive lobbying expenditure and whopping great executive bonuses.
The first thing you notice about the 2011 document, and the thing that’s been most widely reported, is that the RIAA’s revenues are dropping dramatically. This is because it’s receiving a whole lot less in membership dues than it used to — in 2008, it received over $50m, but by 2011 that figure had halved to $24.8m. It’s also shedding staff like crazy; per Digital Music News, it employed 109 people in 2009, but by 2011 that figure had been reduced to just 60. In other words, it’s cutting costs by cutting people.
Elsewhere, however, its expenses remains significant. There’s $761k spent on travel, which averages out at about $12.6k per employee, and $1.3m on occupancy expenses (“the use of office space or other facilities, including rent; heat, light, power, and other utilities expenses; property insurance; real estate taxes; mortgage interest; and similar occupancy-related expenses”) — relating, presumably, to the RIAA’s swanky Washington, DC, offices.
The tax filing itemizes the five highest compensated individual contractors receiving money from the RIAA in 2011 — the top three are law firms, which isn’t surprising given that the RIAA spent $1.2m on legal representation during that year, with the three firms in question receiving $354k, $323k and $288k respectively. More intriguingly, $202k was paid to Investigative Resource Management, a company that is apparently run by a former RIAA employee and seems to be some sort of private investigator. (The Texas Association of Licensed Investigatorslists one of the company’s specialties as “surveillance,” although reassuringly, they don’t have armed guard or guard dog insurance.)
There’s also $250k a year for a “copyright alert system” from the Center for Copyright Information. This doesn’t exactly seem to be paying off — the figure listed as income from “antipiracy restitution” is a pretty measly $190k, or about 10% of what the RIAA is paying out to its top lawyers and investigators. It doesn’t even cover the cost of the copyright alert system. (The RIAA’s Anti-Piracy EVP Brad Buckles, by the way, pocketed $485k in 2011, including a $50k bonus.)
An even more significant expense is lobbying. In 2011, the RIAA apparently spent $1.9m on this, although it’s unclear where any of this money went — the only itemized expenses are some $35k in relatively piecemeal donations to a curious assortment of causes ($4k to “Gansler Attorney General”, $1k to “Campaign to Re-Elect Jim Hood,” $1k to “Citizens for Mara Candelaria Reardon,” and so on.) There’s also apparently an RIAA Political Action Committee, which was funded to the tune of $20k. The rest? Who knows. We’d certainly be intrigued to find out.
But wait, because we’re saving the best for last: in news that will surprise absolutely no-one, the RIAA’s executives are receiving more money than ever. Cary Sherman, who was the RIAA’s president from 2001 until 2011, when he became CEO, earned nearly $1.5m in 2011, including a base salary of $882k and a bonus of $496k. His predecessor as CEO, Mitch Bainwol — who was CEO between 2003 and 2011 — earned a similar amount, including two separate bonus payments totalling nearly $600k.
You’ll also be happy to know that at least one of the company’s executives — it’s not specified who — received “first-class or charter travel” and “travel for companions,” and that both Sherman and Bainwol “received gross-up payments [basically, when a company pays the tax you’d normally pay on your income, and also the tax you’d normally have to pay on that income] for some benefits that are taxable and reimbursable to them, including club dues.”
This means that the RIAA paid over 11% of its revenues to just two men in 2011. These two men happen to be the same two men who presided over a decade in which the RIAA failed dismally to understand the realities of a changing music industry, filed egregious lawsuits against children, beat out Halliburton for the coveted worst company in America award, and became perhaps the single most loathed industry body in the world. In most jobs, this’d get you fired. At the RIAA, it gets you a hefty bonus. Nice work, as they say, if you can get it.
Source: Flavorwire (by Tom Hawking)
We’ve discussed in the past a favorite talking point of the RIAA, claiming a 40% decline in employment for musicians over the past decade or so, which simply isn’t supported by the numbers. We’ve been seeing a lot of people claiming this again lately, so we decided to take a look at what the numbers actually showed, and can’t seem to figure out where that decline is coming from, because the numbers show a very different story — one that suggests things are actually much better for independent musicians than in the past, just as we would expect. In fact, there’s been an astounding 510% increase in independent musicians making their full time living from music in just the past decade.
It’s important to note, of course, that very, very, very few people get to make a living as a professional musician. That’s just the unfortunate reality of the market. But understanding where that employment comes from is important. The RIAA, rather bizarrely, relies on the top line numbers for “musician employment” to make their case, but nearly all of those musicians are not musicians who are associated with RIAA member labels at all. Let’s dig into the numbers a bit and see what we find.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Data is available on their site, though they don’t always present it consistently, and so we see some people cherry picking some numbers (what the RIAA did) to distort things and then, sometimes, they’re just bad at math (again, RIAA is guilty). So, if we look at overall employment of musicians and singers over a 10 year period, we can go back to the numbers from May 2003 and then the numbers from May 2012. Take a look at some of the key data points here. Let’s start with the top line numbers, which is what the RIAA and others have been using.
The top line there does show a decrease in full-time musicians and singers, overall, but it’s a drop of 16.7%, nowhere near the 40% (or, even higher) numbers some claim. Anyone claiming a bigger drop from these numbers is doing something wrong. Because when you compare the same numbers a decade apart that’s the drop you get.