Friday, October 2, 2015

7 Mistakes Songwriters Make When Registering With A PRO

7 Mistakes Songwriters Make image
If you ask the people that work at the Performance Rights Organizations (PRO) like ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, they'll tell you that they see a number of common mistakes when a songwriter registers a song.

The problem with a mistake or omission during this process is that someone will end up not getting paid when royalty time comes around, so it really does pay to be as meticulous as possible. Here are the 7 common mistakes as outlined by Songtrust.

1. All performers of the song are not listed.

2. All the writers and publishers and their correct shares are not listed.

3. Any alternate titles (like those used for some music libraries) are not listed.

4. The writer/publisher account doesn't have the correct contact information.

5. All samples aren't licensed or cleared.

6. Songs have names that are not clear or too difficult to remember.

7. Songs that are performed live aren't listed with the proper PRO.

Filing the correct paperwork is a vital part of modern songwriting so you can get paid, so take it seriously and get it right. Make sure that you don't make one of these mistakes so that royalty check shows up when you expect it.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hip-Hop Listeners Embrace Streaming More Than Other Genres

Streaming music image
Hip-hop listeners have embraced streaming more than listeners of other genres, according to the numbers from the various streaming services. It appears that hip-hop and R&B artists have far more total monthly streams than any other type of music, including rock, which was previously thought to be the genre of choice for streamers.

For instance, Drake's “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” had 48 million streams in one week, according to Nielsen, while Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” opened with 38 million and The Weekend’s “Beauty Behind the Madness” started with 57 million one week and 52 million the next.

Compare that with the top non-hip-hop artist, Mumford & Sons "Wilder Mind" at 15.4 million one week back in May, and it looks like streaming has a much different demographic than was previously thought.

No one has a good answer for why this is occurring, although many feel it has to do with increase in social presence from the major R&B artists. Some feel that Apple Music's Beats 1 radio service may be an influence, as an analysis of its playlists indicate that it skews towards hip-hop and R&B.

Whatever the reason, the numbers are a surprise and will warrant closer watching in the future.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dart Music Specializes In Classical Streaming

Dart Music image
Classical music hasn't fared well in the digital music age, but a new service called Dart Music aims to change all of that.

Dart is like a TuneCore for classical music, with an annual rate of $20 for a single musical piece, $40 for an album, and a 100% royalty payout to the copyright owner. The service then submits the music to online retailers like iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and others.

The difference between Dart and other aggregators is that it pays special attention to metadata. While most other aggregators include metadata that identifies the artist, song and label at a bare minimum, entering other metadata can be a tedious chore.

Classical music requires additional metadata like conductor, ensemble, and performer, since there is so much more featured collaboration in a classical piece that needs to be identified. This is where Dart is said to shine.

While incomplete metadata is an industry-wide problem, Dart is trying to solve the problem as it specifically focuses on this market niche. Find out more at

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Streaming Music Up, Everything Else Down According To The RIAA

RIAA logo tilt image
The RIAA mid-year report is out and it's filled with good news and bad news. The good news is that digital revenues grew 6.3 percent to $2.32 billion as streaming revenues grew 23.2 percent to $1.03 billion.

That said, digital downloads dropped 9.4 percent, although digital album sales rose by a surprising 4.2 percent (this category had been declining rapidly).

As expected, physical sales declined 17.3 percent to $748 million, with CD sales dropping by 31.5 percent to $494.8 million.

The one bright spot in physical sales continues to be vinyl sales, which grew 51.3 percent to $226 million.

The major takeaway continues to be the growth of paid subscriptions from services like Spotify, as the category was up almost 25% over the same time last year. The RIAA estimates that there was a slight growth of subscribers, up to 8.1 million in the United States.

What this shows is that physical product (except for vinyl) is falling fast, and digital revenue is just barely keeping up.

Although more and more people are signing up for streaming, not enough are convinced that it's worth it to spend 10 bucks a month on yet.

Pricing seems to be a big issue here, but until the labels and publishers come to grips with this issue, we won't see the dramatic growth in streaming subscriptions that everyone has been expecting.

Monday, September 28, 2015

New YouTube Music Service Might Finally Launch

YouTube Red image
It looks like YouTube will finally launch it's long-awaited paid music service in late October, but it also looks to be  a little different than what we expected.

While YouTube's Music Key has been in beta testing for about 6 months, the rumors are that the service will now be called YouTube Red and it will consist of 2 main features:

1. The elimination of ads on all videos.

2. Access to Google's Play Music Unlimited catalog.

This all comes at a price of $9.99 per month. It's unclear whether users who have purchased Music Key will still be able to pay their $7.99 price or if their cost will also be the higher $9.99.

Supposedly the new service will also provide offline access to music and videos as well as background play (so you can listen to a song while working on another app on your phone) and more.

There's no word yet on the royalty structure for artists, songwriters, labels and publishers.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bobby O Interviewed On Inspirational Creatives

Inspirational Creatives image
I want to thank Rob Lawrence for having me on his Inspirational Creatives webcast.

He asked a lot of thoughtful and insightful questions regarding the creative process that I'm not often asked.

He also got me thinking and talking about a lot of people that have helped me in the past, that I can probably never thank enough.

Check it out if you get a chance.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pay For Play Infiltrates Online Playlists

Playola image
Just when you thought that the record business couldn't get any sleazier comes this. Record labels are now paying some big dollars to influence online playlists of streaming services.

This is what many in the industry call "Playola" (named after the old payola practice of illegally paying a DJ for airplay on the radio), and is yet another way that an established label, manager, or artist gets a one-up on the indie artist.

Believe it or not, the practice is legal, and even if it weren't it would be difficult to police. It's easy for a label or promotion company to slip $100 (or way more) to a blogger with a hot playlist for "consulting" without anyone being none the wiser.

While a small blogger might only cost that much, owners of popular playlists with hundreds of thousands of followers cost considerably more, with a six week campaign going anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, according to an article in Billboard.

This is one area of the music business that most of us thought was still pristine and untouched by big money, but I guess that's too idealistic a vision.

That said, Spotify is taking a stand and forbidding its playlist owners from taking money from outside sources, which is an excellent reason to keep supporting it.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cassette Tape Makes A Comeback

Cassette Mix Tape image
It looks like another format that was left for dead is making a dramatic comeback. Believe it or not, the cassette tape is selling better than it has in years, and new tape decks are again being made.

According to National Audio Company, the largest of the companies still involved in cassette manufacturing, the company sold nearly 10 million units last year (remember that vinyl only did 13 million with a lot more hoopla about it).

Of that number, a surprising 70% was actually production copies made for two of the major labels Sony and Universal, along with a few small indie labels. The other 30% were blank tapes.

The company sees such an upturn in cassette sales that it persuaded Teac/Tascam to reintroduce tape machines long out of production.

So who's buying most of the tapes? You'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't).

Just like vinyl, it's the under-35 crowd who's gravitating back to the format. After listening to digital music all their lives, they've found they preferred analog.

Although many have looked down on the cassette as an inferior playback format, a fresh tape in a well-aligned machine can actually provide surprisingly good performance.

That's too much to hope for in this new resurgence, but it's nice for people to experience analog audio once again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bandcamp Launches Artist Subscriptions

Bandcamp artist subscription image
For many artists, having their fans subscribe to a monthly subscription is the way to go. That way the artist gets a fairly predictable income, while the fan gets exclusive content and first dibs on wide release content as well.

The infrastructure for putting that together can be a lot more daunting than an artist wants to deal with however, so platforms like Patreon have sprung up to make it easier. Now the widely use artist utility Bandcamp has launched it's own subscription service.

When this feature was originally announced more than a year ago, I wrote a blog post about why I didn't think it would work. It's certainly not for every artist and the post explains why.

That said, Bandcamp makes it fairly easy to incorporate a subscription into your BC site, as well as set the subscription price and tiers. It also makes it easy for the subscriber to receive newly released material as well.

Bandcamp charges a 15% commission plus a 2.9% processing fee, while Patreon only charges 5% plus a processing fee, which is something that every artist wishing to use the feature has to take into account.

Here's a video that describes the feature in detail.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pay Attention To Regional Streaming Services

Simfy Africa logo image
When we think of streaming services we automatically think of the global players like Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play.

It's true that they have the a great deal of the current streaming subscribers, but they don't have them all, and probably won't get many in certain areas of the world.

A good example is Africa, who streaming abounds, but not so much with the big players.

The reason is that many people there don't have bank accounts (along with some 2.5 billion people in the world), but most of them do have mobile phones.

Check out the following services are tied primarily to mobile carriers (in order of total revenue):

1. Simfy (South Africa)
2. Spinlet (Nigeria)
3. Tigo (Tanzania/Ghana)
4. Mdundo (Kenya)
5. iRoking (Nigeria)
6. Vuga (Nigeria)
7. Miziiki (Tanzania)
8. Mkito (Tanzania)
9. Orin (Nigeria)
10. LasGidaTunes (Nigeria)

The point is that if you want to address a regional fanbase, you can more easily target the country if you know which streaming services they listen to. Don't rely on just on the global services as they may not be popular with the fans or potential fans you want to address.

Monday, September 21, 2015

People Still Not Willing To Pay For Music Subscriptions

Time Americans Listen To Music image
Despite all the hype over the entry of Apple Music into the streaming music arena, people are still hesitant to spend money not only on Apple Music, but any streaming service. That’s the conclusion of the latest edition of Nielsen’s annual Music 360 report.

While every day there are new articles regarding the growth of streaming music, it turns out that good old fashioned radio not only refuses to die but is actually growing in importance in regards to consumers discovering new music. Music 360 found that 61% of people say they discover music that way, which is up from 57% in 2014. 

On the other hand, only 27% of consumers said they discovered new music via a music streaming service (and that includes YouTube).

This shows that the much talked about migration to subscription music isn’t the exactly the flood that was expected by now.

One of the major reasons for the slow start is price, an opinion that industry analysts have long held and was born out again in Music 360. According to the study, the top three reasons that consumers gave for not subscribing was that services are too expensive (46%), they can stream music for free elsewhere (42%), and they didn’t think they’d use a service enough to justify the spend (38%).

Although the current $9.99 per month seems like an ideal number in terms of the music industry’s wants and needs, that figure doesn’t seem to correspond to what consumers have in mind.

The general feeling among industry analysts is that $3.99 to $4.99 is a much better ballpark for a monthly price. It’s an easier psychological barrier to breach, and addresses two of the three objections sited in the report. You might feel that your 10 bucks a month is being spent unwisely if you only listen for a few hours during that time period, but it doesn’t hurt nearly as much at half that price. 

The chances of getting just about any music licensing body to sign off on a $4.99 per month price seems to be somewhere between slim and none at the moment though. Even the mighty Apple couldn’t negotiate a reported $7.99 per month price, which signals that it’s going to take some time before a continued low adoption rate causes a re-think of that position. Read more on Forbes.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Too Many Choices Can Be A Bad Thing

Anatomy of a Digital Catalog image
There's an old salesman's adage that goes like this - "Never give a customer more than 2 choices." The reason why is that the customer may just get confused, throw up his hands, and walk away with a "never mind."

That could very well be the case today with the huge catalogs offered by all of the streaming services. Millions of choices is actually no choice at all.

Industry consultant Mark Mulligan of MIDiA has some interesting statistics on the subject (shown on the left) where out of a catalog of 25 million songs, only about 5% (1.25 million) is frequented and just 1% (250,000) is played often.

As a result, a $9.95 subscription price just seems like too much to the average music consumer. It's too many choices and they're walking away from a paid subscription.

Mark suggests that niche services would offer much more value to the average fan (the superfan is happy as is). That means a service that only serves a genre of music, like metal, hip-hop or jazz, with the catalog limited in the number of artists, titles and playlists. Of course, a lower price of $3.99 to $4.99 would help it be a winner as well.

That would get rid of all the covers, copies and karaoke versions that just clutter up the  streaming app and currently haunt Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and virtually every other music service.

This is idea who's time has not yet come, as the industry pushback would be enormous, but it's an idea worth considering. Read Mark's full article and his great blog here.


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