Monday, September 15, 2014

Rdio Goes Free

Rdio image
With Spotify, Pandora, Apple and Google threatening to run away with the streaming music market, some of the smaller services have been forced to make changes in order to keep up. Rdio, which was created by the makers of Skype four years ago, announced recently that it would change from an all-subscription model to a freemium model in order to entice more customers to give the service a try.

No one knows for sure how many users Rdio actually has, but the service is currently available in 60 countries and it's generally admired for its clean design. Its new freemium service will be available in 20 countries to start, and gradually roll out to the others over time.

One of the more interesting things about Rdio is that it's now partially owned by Cumulus Media, which operates 460 radio stations in 89 markets. Advertising for the new Rdio free service will be handled by the Cumulus sales staff, and the service may be allowed to use some of the Cumulus programming in the future.

Rdio's freemium service allows a new user to try the various stations available for free, and for the $9.95 Unlimited package provides additional playlists and add-free playback. With so much music now available for free online, it's no longer possible to be a pay-only service and attract new customers, and Rdio saw the writing on wall that it must be either free (at least partially) or die.

Jeff Ponchick Of Fullscreen On The Latest Inner Circle Podcast

If you want to know all about YouTube networks, have a listen to Jeff Ponchick on my latest Inner Circle Podcast.

Jeff is the A&R manager at Fullscreen, the largest multichannel YouTube network going, and you can hear what it takes for your YouTube channel to get the interest of a "major label" network.

Jeff is also one of the founders of a unique service called Outlisten, which crowdsources the concert experience online, and he'll talk about that as well.

In the intro section, I'll also talk about the importance of metadata for your music files and my top 10 plugins.

Take a listen at bobbyoinnercircle.comiTunes or Stitcher.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Top 10 Highest Paid DJs In The World

Calvin Harris image
The top DJs sure make a lot of money. Here's what the top 10 have earned in 2014 so far, according to Forbes.

1. Calvin Harris - $66 million
2. David Guetta - $30 million
3. Tiesto - $28 million
3. Avicii - $28 million
5. Steve Aoki - $23 million
6. Afrojack - $22 million
7. Zedd - $21 million
8. Kaskade - $17 million
8. Skrillex - $17 million
10. Deadmau5 - $16 million

Keep in mind that the concert season hasn't been totaled yet so these numbers are bound to change, as will the order. Except for Calvin Harris, of course, who seems to have an insurmountable lead for the year.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Top 10 Apps In The US

Music apps are very popular these days, but it comes as a little bit of a surprise that only one true music app (Pandora) and two apps that are used for music a lot but not exclusively (YouTube and Google Play) are in the top 10 in the US at the moment, according to this graphic by Statista based on data from Comscore.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Google Search is not #1, and that two map apps (Google Maps and Apple Maps) rank so high. That said, the chances are good that a new and different music app breaks into the top 10 at this time next year. Care to speculate on which one?

Top 10 apps in the US image


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

9 Twitter Etiquette Rules

Twitter Etiquette image
Twitter is all about engagement, but if you don't follow the unwritten rules of etiquette, you'll find yourself with fewer and fewer followers. Here's an excerpt from my Social Media Promotion for Musicians book that explains the 9 Twitter etiquette rules that every user should know.

"This is a fairly simple medium, but there are certain unwritten rules that attempt to keep people from annoying one another. Despite this group etiquette, you’ll still no doubt run into situations that may make you want to scream, but keep in mind that it’s probably bugging others as well. Rest assured that sooner or later the offender gets the message and either mends his ways or leaves. Let’s take a look at what you should know.

1. Don’t use all caps. One of the things that netizens universally hate is someone COMMUNICATING IN ALL CAPS. This is considered the equivalent of shouting, is more difficult to read, and just plain impolite.

2. Don’t be rude. What’s rude in real life is rude on Twitter as well. The problem is that people are more easily offended online because they can’t see any facial expressions or body language, and as a result, what you consider to be a rather harmless tweet can kick up a firestorm. The way around this is to think through every tweet before you send it and stay away from any provocative language.

3. Don’t use an affiliate link in a tweet. Links in a tweet are a good thing, but it’s bad form to include one that’s blatantly trying to sell something or make money.

4. Don’t ask someone for a favor publicly. Just like doing it in a crowded room, it’s uncool. Better to ask in a private conversation. Use DM instead.

5. Don’t auto-DM. It’s possible to set up an automatic direct message welcoming someone when they follow you. Save your time and money as this is considered bad form. If it’s not personal, an auto-DM can do more harm than good.

6. Issue a high volume warning. If you’re going to be tweeting more than normal (like from a show, conference or event), tell your followers in advance. No one likes their Twitter feed to be controlled by one person.

7. Don’t be negative. Nothing turns off followers faster than negative commentary. If you can’t say something nice and be positive, don’t say it at all.

8. Don’t provide too much information. Twitter isn’t a place for details. There’s not enough room in the limited number of characters that you have, which means that you have to resort to more tweets, which puts you into the realm of over-tweeting. As with most things online, less is more.

9. Pause between tweets. Another thing that makes people crazy is a big volley of tweets one after the other. Take a break before your next tweet. Give other people a chance to get their tweets seen as well.

Following these online etiquette rules will not only help you keep your followers, but will keep you in good Twitter standing. It’s just a little bit of courtesy, but well worth it."

If you'd like to read additional excerpts from Social Media Promotion for Musicians and my other books, go to the excerpts section of

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

T-Mobile Adds More Music Services

T-Mobile Music Freedom image
T-Mobile is doing its best to win new customers using music as the incentive with its Music Freedom initiative, a plan where music streams don't count as data against a customer's data limits. In fact, the company recently said that customers have streamed nearly 7,000 terabytes of music, which amounts to around 5,000 songs a day since the service was launched a few months ago.

Music Freedom customers already had access to Pandora, Spotify, iHeart Radio, iTunesRadio, Rhapsody, Samsung's Milk and Slacker, which probably have the biggest market share in the space, but it's now adding Google's Songza, Rdio, AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, and Paradise.

Interestingly, it didn't add Google Play Music, which turned out to be the #1 most requested platform by its users. T-Mobile ran a survey and after more than 750,000 votes, that was the service that came out on top, yet it's the only one that hasn't been implemented yet.

It's yet to be seen if Music Freedom will add the extra jolt that that T-Mobile really needs to compete with its much larger competition, but its great to see music as such a large part of its new direction.

Monday, September 8, 2014

2014 Is The Best For Concert Attendance In 20 Years

Stadium concert image
We keep on hearing how bad the music business is, and when it comes to the recorded music part of the business, that may or may not be true. One thing's for sure though, an area of the industry that's definitely thriving is live performances, especially big venue concerts.

According to Billboard's Boxscore chart, 2014 is the best year for concert attendance in 20 years, mostly because so many major acts have added stadiums to their tours this year. In fact, Live Nation has promoted 72 concert shows this year alone, and predict to have more than 100 by the end of the year.

Most stadiums pack in anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 people, as compared to only 20,000 in the largest music-only arenas and amphitheaters. Whether the sound is better is debatable, but that doesn't seem to be a deterrent to the fans that purchase tickets.

Interestingly enough, the fact that you can play to 3 times as many people doesn't automatically mean that you can automatically make 3 times the money. The costs also jump proportionally anywhere from 2 to 3 times as well, since more sound and video equipment is required, so there's quite a risk involved. The margins on a tour are very thin to begin with, with the promoter getting around 1% and the act around 30%, so any miscalculation can mean a huge bath for everyone involved.

Still, this seems to be a good year to be in the concert business, and business, as they say, is booming.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

9 New Rules For Making Music In Today’s Online World

Online music image
The music world we live in today is decidedly different from that of only five years ago, let alone a few decades. Where once the entire business was based around physical sales, today its more about aggregating multiple revenue streams for both the artist and the record label. Here’s a set of 9 rules that have been excerpted from my book Music 4.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age that all artists need to at least be aware of if they want to succeed in our current music environment.

1. It’s all about scale. It’s not the sales, it’s the number of YouTube views you have. A hit that sells only 50,000 combined units (physical and digital) may have 50 million YouTube views. Once upon a time, this would’ve been deemed a failure, today, it’s a success. Views don’t equal sales, and vice-versa.

2. There will be fewer digital distributors in the future. It’s an expensive business to enter and maintain, so in the near future there will be a shakeout that will leave far fewer digital competitors, and fewer places to distribute your music. Don’t be shocked when you wake up one day to find the landscape of online music to be very much consolidated in a way similar to what happened with the major record labels.

3. It’s all about what you can do for other people. Promoters, agents, and club owners are dying to book you if they know you’ll make them money. Record labels (especially the majors) are dying to sign you if you have have an audience they can sell to. Managers will want to sign you if you have a line around the block waiting to see you. If you can’t do any of the above, your chances of success decrease substantially.

4. Money often comes late. It may not seem like it, but real success is slow, and even in this social media world, you still grow your audience one fan at a time. The longer it takes, the more likely you’ll have a longer career. An overnight sensation usually means you’ll also be forgotten overnight. This is one thing that hasn’t changed much through the years.

5. Major labels want radio hits. They want an easy sell, so unless you create music that can get on the radio immediately, a major label most likely won’t be interested. This is what they do and they do it well, so if that’s your goal, you must give them what they want. Once again, this hasn’t changed much through the years. Read more on Forbes.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What Leads To An iTunes Purchase?

iTunes Purchase image
Our music world is changing significantly in that it's rapidly becoming built around streaming rather than sales. iTunes sales of music downloads have decreased in each of the last 3 quarters, but that doesn't mean that people have stopped buying completely. Individual track sales are still at a billion plus per year, so significant sales activity will continue for some time even as streaming takes over our musical lives.

Since sales will be around for a bit, a good question to ask is, "What happens before someone purchases a song?" Viacom Research (the people that own MTV, VH1 and CMT) did a study that asked just that from 1200 18 to 30 year olds. Here's what they found:
  • 66% of people search for info about a song online
  • 83% make sure they really like the song before they buy it
  • 87% listen to other songs from the artist
  • 91% listen/watch the song/video on YouTube
This shows how influential YouTube is in the current sale of music, which is a great reason to be sure that you have a video available the day your songs are available on iTunes. It doesn't matter if the video is a plain vanilla lyric video, or even just a static picture with the music playing behind it. It's now an integral sales tool!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

There's More To Music Than Social Media

Amanda Palmer TED talk image
So much of an artist's promotion and visibility is built around social media these days that it's easy to believe that it's almost more important than the music itself. Sometimes it's possible to be a social celebrity without making any meaningful penetration with your music however, as this excerpt from the New Masters chapter of my Music 4.0: A Survival Guide for Making Music in the Internet Age guidebook illustrates.

"If you’re in the music business there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of Amanda Palmer, although there’s an even better chance that you’ve not heard her music. Palmer represents a conundrum in social media where she’s become a huge presence in the music industry thanks to her extremely effective social media and crowdfunding campaigns, yet that hasn’t helped to spread her music much beyond a small, yet avid following.

Palmer rose to a low-level of prominence as half of the duo Dresden Dolls before going solo in 2008. Her cult following grew from there thanks to her extremely hands-on relationship with her fans. In an interview with Techdirt in 2012, she gave her secret:
"I've been tending this bamboo forest of fans for years and years, ever since leaving Roadrunner Records in 2009. Every person I talk to at a signing, every exchange I have online (sometimes dozens a day), every random music video or art gallery link sent to me by a fan that I curiously follow, every strange bed I've crashed on...all of that real human connecting has led to this moment, where I came back around, asking for direct help with a record. Asking EVERYBODY...And they help because...they KNOW me."
Palmer’s notoriety again grew thanks to reports of big merch sales through Twitter campaigns (like $19,000 worth of T-shirts in less than a day), to where it reached a peak with a massively successful Kickstarter campaign in which she raised $1.2 million (the goal was $100,000) from nearly 25 thousand fans in 31 days for the marketing of an album/art book/gallery tour. This was followed shortly thereafter by a riveting TED talk where she described her fan-first business model.

Considering the exposure that Palmer has garnered from the mainstream media thanks to these events, her music still hasn’t gained much traction and she remains very much a niche artist, though one with a fanatical following. Only three of her videos have barely cracked 1 million views, she has less than a million Twitter followers, and just over 200,000 Facebook Likes. 

While these are really great numbers for an indie artist, Palmer hasn’t managed to transcend that narrow category despite generally positive and vast exposure and a supercharged fanbase. Amanda Palmer proves that no matter what your social media connections are, star and superstar success still depends on your music. In order to gain a mass audience, it must connect with the masses.

There’s More To Music Than Social Media Summary
  • Social prominence won’t automatically cause people to like your music
  • But it can cause people to notice you
  • Caring deeply about your fans builds an avid fanbase
  • An avid fanbase is essential for crowdfunding"
To read more excerpts from Music 4.0 and my other books, go to the excerpts page at

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The 25 Most Popular Clubs In America

House of Blues image
There are fewer clubs than ever in the US, but there are some that continue to thrive. Here are the 25 most popular club venues over the last year, according to Billboard Boxscore. Not surprisingly, most House of Blues clubs seem to always be in the mix.

1.) House of Blues, Orlando Fla.: 339,470 (attendance)
2.) House of Blues, Boston: 322,755 (attendance)
3.) 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C.: 268,727 (attendance)
4.) House of Blues, Dallas: 222,988 (attendance)
5.) House of Blues, Chicago: 211,446 (attendance)
6.) House of Blues, Houston: 209,799 (attendance)
7.) House of Blues, Anaheim, Calif.: 192,424 (attendance)
8.) Tabernacle, Atlanta: 185,769 (attendance)
9.) House of Blues, Los Angeles: 172,005 (attendance)
10.) House of Blues, San Diego: 155,938 (attendance)
11.) House of Blues, Cleveland: 155,566 (attendance)
12.) The Fillmore, Silver Spring, Md.: 152,332 (attendance)
13.) The Fillmore, Denver: 151,387 (attendance)
14.) Palladium, Hollywood: 148,555 (attendance)
15.) House of Blues, New Orleans: 145,077 (attendance)
16.) The Fillmore, San Francisco: 140,100 (attendance)
17.) Irving Plaza, New York: 135,398 (attendance)
18.) The Fillmore, Charlotte, N.C.: 133,212 (attendance)
19.) House of Blues, Las Vegas: 131,208 (attendance)
20.) House of Blues, Myrtle Beach, S.C.: 129,528 (attendance)
21.) The Fillmore, Detroit: 129,199 (attendance)
22.) Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, Columbus, Ohio: 128,975 (attendance)
23.) The Paramount, Huntington, N.Y.: 127,730 (attendance)
24.) Stage AE, Pittsburgh: 124,013 (attendance)
25.) Stubb's Bar-B-Q, Austin: 116,582 (attendance)
To put this into perspective, the #1 venue (House of Blues in Orlando) drew an average of 928 people per night over the course of a year. I'll leave that to you to decide whether that's good or bad.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The 5 Most Expensive Music Videos Of All Time

Madonna "Express Yourself" image
Once upon a time music video budgets were almost like TV movie budgets in that directors took advantage of the record label's largess and went for the best of everything available. Today that's all changed as music video budgets have decreased quite a but due to the ever falling fortunes of the music business, but also because the basic costs of gear has fallen so low as well.

That said, there are 5 music videos that totally stand out from the crowd as the most expensive ever created. Surprisingly, all 5 are divided between only two artists - Michael Jackson and Madonna. Here they are in decreasing order in today's dollars adjusted for inflation.

5. "Black or White" - Michael Jackson - $6.9 million. 11 minutes long and premiered on all the music channels at the same time all over the world with an estimated audience of 500 million!

4. "Bedtime Story" - Madonna - $7.7 million. Surprisingly, this was not one of her bigger hits.

3. "Die Another Day" - Madonna - $7.9 million. The James Bond inspired video was the best selling dance song of 2002-2003 and nominated for a Grammy.

2. "Express Yourself" - Madonna - $9.4 million. The most expensive video ever made up until that time (1989).

1. "Scream" - Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson - $10.7 million. It won a Grammy and 64 million people watched when it debuted on ABC's Primetime Live show.

They don't make them like that anymore, and we should all be thankful.


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