Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Are New Analytics Coming To Beats Music?

Musicmetric sample image
Musicmetric sample
Apple recently acquired a British analytics service company called Semetric, according to The Guardian, making many wonder whether improved analytics will be part of the new Beats Music when it relaunches later this year. Although an exact sales price was not revealed, it's estimated by the Financial Times to be around $50 million.

The interesting part of the deal is that Semetric owns the music analytic service called Musicmetric, which specializes in tracking sales, pirated downloads and artist social media for labels and independent clients (see a sample on the left). The company recently struck a deal with Spotify to include its dashboard on the service, although another analytics company, Next Big Sound, provides the data.

While virtually all streaming music services provide some sort of analytics, the presumption is that Musicmetric brings greater depth than what's normally available, which could be a factor in making Beats Music more attractive to some labels and artists.

Apple has also been attempting to renegotiate its current licensing deals with the major labels in order to bring the monthly subscription fee down to around $5, which could be the killer feature for consumers. This is no sure thing, however, as the labels have been very reluctant to do so.

Whatever the case, Beats Music is set to cause some disruption in the streaming music side of the business. Both Spotify and Pandora should be very concerned, as they don't have nearly the deep pockets to match an all-out effort by Apple to gain market share.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Even In Music It's The Top 1%

1 percent artists image
Most streaming and download music services have more than 20 million songs available, which should be more than enough for any one lifetime of music discovery. But music discovery isn't something that most people seem to be interested in, at least according to the numbers quoted in an article on The Atlantic.

  • First of all, the top 1% of bands and solo artists now earn 80% of all the revenue from recorded music. That's pretty depressing.


  • But it gets worse. The 10 most popular songs accounted to almost 2% of all streams in both 2013 and 2014. That means that 1 in ever 50 to 60 streams on Spotify, Soundcloud or YouTube will be a top 10 song.


  • A typical listening session is around 3 1/2 hours, but no matter how musically cutting-edge you are, there will still be at least one top 10 song in the playlist.

The fact of the matter is that some people love to discover new music, but most people don't actively take the time to do so and would rather be spoon fed by radio or some other passive service. That means that social buzz means more than ever to a new artist. You can make new music, but the world isn't going to beat a path to your door to hear it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Spotify Unveils Touch Preview

When looking for new music, we're not always sure about what we like, but we always know what we don't. Most music services give you a 30 second preview of a song, but these days we want to be able to immediately move on if there's something that doesn't immediately tickle our fancy.

That's why the new Spotify Touch Preview feature is so cool. It's a change in the user interface on an iPhone or iPad (Android to come soon) that allows you to touch and hold to activate the preview of the song. Don't like it? Just touch something else. It's designed to make music discovery as quick and easy as possible, and I think it succeeds. Check out the video to see how it works.


    Thursday, January 22, 2015

    Putting Vinyl Sales Into Perspective

    Vinyl gets a lot of hype these days and you have to admit that it's a great success story. Here's a format that's basically dead in the water that suddenly rises from the ashes to find new popularity. On top of that, it's been growing by about 20% every year for the last 5 years.

    That said, below is a chart that puts vinyl sales into perspective. It shows what sales were at their peak, and what they are now on the rebound. Many thanks to Paul Resnikoff at Digital Music News (you should read it).


    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    Who's Buying Music Today vs 10 Years Ago

    Music Purchase image
    A recent survey by MusicWatch looked at the demographics of CD and digital music buyers back in 2004 and compared them to 2014. What they found shouldn't be too surprising, because it's almost exactly what you'd expect.
    • In 2004, the largest demo of CD buyers was age 36 to 50 at 25% (and it's 26% in 2014).
    • In 2014, the largest demographic of CD buyers were age 50+ at almost 35%.
    • In 2004, ages 13 to 17 purchased the most digital downloads at 25%, followed by ages 36 to 50 at 24%.
    • In 2014, ages 36 to 50 purchase the most at 26%. Ages 18 to 25 was second at 23%.
    • Surprisingly enough, both in 2004 and 2014, women purchased more CDs than men by a roughly 5% margin.
    • That flipped around for digital music though, as men purchased far more digital music in 2004 by a 60 to 40% margin. Today women buy more than men by 53 to 47%.
    Of course, all this may be moot in a few years as both CDs and digital downloads face ever diminished sales. It's still a huge part of the business in terms of revenue, but the writing is on the wall that streaming music will be the dominant distribution method for some time to come unless a new distribution technology is introduced that takes the industry by storm.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2015

    Vinyl.org - The Netflix Of Vinyl

    vnyl.org image
    Here's an interesting idea that's sort of a cross between a record club and Netflix, but it deals exclusively in vinyl. In fact, it calls itself the "Netflix of vinyl." It's called vnyl.org, and for $15 a month they'll send you a stack of vinyl records tailored to your tastes.

    First you choose the category that you're interested in, and the service curates album choices for you and sends you a stack. If you choose to keep any of the records, it will cost you $8 to 12 each. If you don't want them, pre-paid envelopes are provided to send them back.

    The site is in invite-only beta mode right now, and while it sounds like a great deal, expect for it to see a lot of scrutiny as an illegal rental model. If you take notice, any vinyl or CD rental services that have popped up in the past have been quickly beaten down for breaking copyright laws.

    It's legal to try before you buy, but you can't rent with an option to buy, so just how vnyl.org plays this will have a lot to do with if it succeeds or not.

    Still, any service that gets more vinyl into the hands of consumers can only be a good thing for artists, as long as it's legal. Check it out at vnyl.org (check the spelling - it's vinyl without the "i").

    Monday, January 19, 2015

    Twitch Launches New Free Music Library For Games

    Twitch TV image
    Gamers really love Twitch, the leading video platform and community that allows them to broadcast, watch and chat about gaming. Many even consider it the center of the esports industry. That said, it's a huge platform that's somewhat underground unless you're an active gamer.

    A big problem that viewers have had is that many times the audio in a gaming video would be muted because of the copyright laws regarding the music. In other words, a video of someone playing a game would violate the music copyright of the game because the video didn't have the rights to play it.

    Needless to say, watching a video without the sound isn't remotely the same experience so Twitch has done something about it by making a library of 500 royalty-free songs available to play when that situation occurs.

    The library leans towards EDM and features songs from both Skrillex and Steve Aoki's record labels as well as many indie labels. Aoki already has a relationship with Twitch, having performed the platform's first live concert in 2014.

    Twitch, which is now owned by Amazon, plans to make music more prominent in the future by adding a new Music category for performances, and has even entered into an agreement with Beatport to host a channel.

    YouTube went through a similar a similar problem with its Content ID feature before granting blanket licenses from major labels to video creators, and Twitch now hopes that the library will get around the same problem just as seamlessly.

    Sunday, January 18, 2015

    Muve Acquisition Makes Deezer #2 In Paid US Subscribers

    Muve Music image
    Chances are if you ask a typical music lover if they know about the streaming platform Deezer they’ll reply, “Who?” Even though the French company seems to be the only service to seriously battle Spotify for streaming superiority in Europe, it’s still little known in the North America, although the fact is that it only launched here last September. 

    That said, Deezer now becomes the #2 streaming platform in the US in terms of paid subscriptions with its recent acquisition of Muve Music from AT&T subsidiary Cricket for an undisclosed amount. Deezer will now add 2 million new paid subscribers to go along with the users in its Elite tier (although that number is undisclosed as well). As a reference point, Spotify currently has approximately 6 million paid US users.

    What’s interesting is that Deezer actually seems to have a real market strategy in place, as opposed to most of its competitors. Muve now becomes the service’s entry-level tier at $6 per month, which is far enough below most other platform’s usual $9.95 to make a difference to a potential subscriber. If a customer wants talk radio or podcasts, the company offers a free app from Stitcher, other recent acquisition. Finally, Deezer offers high-resolution audio with its up-market $19.99 Elite tier, a distinct feature not found on most other platforms.

    While Spotify has increased its paid subscriber base substantially in the last six months, much of that can be attributed to huge discounts in all of its paid tiers. Many analysts feel that its $0.99 Holiday promotion had the biggest impact on its subscriber surge, and wonder how sustainable those subscriber numbers actually are after the trial period has ended. A bigger question might be how many of them might be willing to try Deezer and if the difference between the services is sufficient enough to make a user want to jump from one to the other. Read more on Forbes.

    Thursday, January 15, 2015

    Only 1 In 4 Spotify Users Pay

    Spotify is growing and it now has more than 60 million subscribers, but how many of those actually pay? It turns out that about 25% are paying subscribers, bringing the figure to around 15 million, which was a substantial increase over the previous year. What's more, that's still a lot better than Pandora, which runs at about a 10 to 1 paying subscriber ratio.

    That said, Spotify has been running discounted deals for the better part of that time period, so basically no one is paying "retail" for their subscription. The big question is, what will happen when the prices go back to normal?

    The other major looming question is, what will happen when Apple's Beats service is reloaded and launched this year, along with YouTube's Music Key? Will the increased competition stunt Spotify's growth?

    If I had to wager on it, I'd say that all of those concerns will factor into a tougher year for the platform in 2015.

    Here's a infographic from Statista that shows Spotify's recent growth.
    Infographic: Spotify Has 60M Users But Only 1 in 4 Pays | Statista
    You will find more statistics at Statista

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015

    Releasing An Album On Dead Formats

    Delivery Formats image
    It's been quit the thing to do in recent years to release an album on a format that was dead and gone. For a while that was vinyl, then 8-track was the thing to do. No one would be able to play it, but it was good for the PR value.

    But how about release an album in just about every format ever used? That's what British musician Trevor Jackson did with his new Format album, making it available in no less than 12 different delivery formats.

    Format is available in three sizes of vinyl (12, 10 and 7 inch), CD and mini-CD, reel to reel, USB stick, cassette, VHS, MiniDisc, DAT and 8 track. If none of those work for you, it'll also be available digitally in March.

    It'll be interesting to see how many of each format is actually sold (my bet is that VHS and DAT will be the least), but it will be even more interesting to find out just how many of those buyers actually played the thing.

    The album is being released by Jackson's label The Vinyl Factory, and actually doesn't have any new material, since it's made up of remastered and re-edited tracks from his previous records.

    This might seem like just a PR stunt, but it got us talking about it, so it worked. That said, it still has a way to go to compete with OK Go's DNA album, which was literally released as organic DNA.

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015

    A New Twist On Social Concert Apps

    wego concerts logo image
    There are apps to help you find concerts, there are social apps, and there are dating apps. Most of them cross over a bit, bit they all stay in their particular specialization. So what if you want to go on a date with someone in a low pressure environment? If that's you, then meet Wego Concerts, which arranges a date at a concert you'll both enjoy.

    Fans connect to the free services through their Facebook page, and the app then probes your iTunes library to create a musical profile of you to make recommendations to concerts that you'd probably like to see. You have the ability to edit your playlists before anyone else sees them (which can be handy if you're a closet Justin Bieber fan), then you set your dating preferences - male/female, age, etc.

    At that point you're able to browse through a range of people in your area with similar musical tastes. Users seeking dates have a heart surround by a pair of headphones so they can be easily identified, but you can look for other like-minded people to share the concert experience as well with no dating in mind.

    One interesting thing that the app developers have found is that the romantic connection is deeper if the act they see together isn't that well known.

    I'm not sure how they're monetizing this app, but anything that helps people go to shows can only be a good thing.

    Monday, January 12, 2015

    Rock Still Leads In Music Consumption

    Music Consumption image
    While it seems like a country and pop world when you listen to the radio, it's a completely different planet when it comes to total music consumption across all delivery platforms, according to a study by Nielsen Music. The study selected the top musical genres looking at albums, track equivalent albums (downloads) and streaming equivalent albums. This is what was found:
    1. Rock - 29%
    2. R&B/ Hip Hop - 17.2%
    3. Pop - 14.9%
    4. Country - 11.2%
    5. Dance/EDM - 3.4%
    6. Christian/Gospel - 3.1%
    7. Holiday/Seasonal - 2.6%
    8. Latin - 2.6%
    9. Jazz - 1.4%
    10. Classical - 1.4%
    11. Children - 1%
    When it comes to actual album sales, Rock had a commanding lead over the next closest genre with 33.2% over R&B/Hip Hop's 13.9%.

    This goes to show that consumers of the Rock genre are used to buying albums and are still most comfortable consuming their music that way. That said, Rock consumers have embraced streaming as well at 24.7%, just behind R&B/Hip Hop's 28.5% and ahead of Pop at 21.1%.

    While Rock may not have any artists in the top 10 of almost any overall sales chart, as a whole, the genre is still vibrant. In fact, since it no longer relies on a few huge sellers to prop up the numbers, it might actually be healthier than many of the other seemingly more popular genres.

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