Friday, April 17, 2015

TuneCore Acquired By Believe Digital

Believe Digital image
Digital music aggregator Tuncore, one of the pioneers in that area of the music business, has been acquired by Believe Digital for an undisclosed amount. Believe is the French version of Tunecore only larger, operating in 29 countries.

Both companies will reportedly retain their current staffs and continue operating as normal, but will now be owned by a new corporate entity called Tunecore & Believe Digital Services.

The new company is now a heavyweight in music aggregation, reportedly responsible for 25 to 30% of all uploads to iTunes every day.

This merger may turn out to be a significant upgrade for artists currently signed to Tunecore.

Tunecore company stresses services more for the DIY artist who does everything for himself, while Believe is known for its artist hand-holding. The company features departments for marketing, radio promotions, and project management - all the services usually provided by a record label.

Of course, those services are all for hire, but just the fact that they're available is a step in the right direction for many artists that don't have a clue what to do after they finish recording and uploading their songs.

Usually mergers and acquisitions like this are to the detriment of the end users. This time it may turn out to be a giant positive for artists and bands everywhere.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Digital Music And Physical Sales Now At Equal Strength

vinyl kills the MP3 image
The IFPI, the organization that represents record companies across the globe, just released its annual Global Digital Music Report showing that worldwide digital music sales equaled physical sales for the first time. Digital revenues grew 6.9% last year to $6.9 billion USD, which represents 46% of total revenue, exactly the same as physical sales of CDs and vinyl.

Overall, the global revenue for music stayed roughly the same in 2014 as the previous year, coming in at $15.03 billion, which was down just 0.4%. Still, some might consider that a victory considering that digital music sales continue to increase at a level that offsets the decline of physical sales.

A data point that jumps out of the report is that the number of paying streaming subscribers now tops 41 million, which represents an estimated 46% increase. This brought in around $1.6 billion in revenue, or about 26% of the digital market.

What's interesting about the subscriber number is that many feel that it's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tapping the potential streaming market, since the report sites another 100 million users now subscribe to a free music streaming tier as well.

According to the IFPI report, a commissioned study undertaken by Ipsos across the top 13 music markets found that only 35% of Internet users accessed a free streaming service in the last six months. That leaves a lot of room for growth. Read more on Forbes.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Bank Starts Its Own Streaming Service, And It Might Make Sense

Streaming music services image
What do you think your reaction would be if I told you that a major banking institution just started its own music streaming service? If you knew anything about the music business, chances are you'd be incredulous. With all the existing competition in the marketplace and some deep pocketed players about to re-enter the sector in a big way, at first look this move seems to be somewhat misguided, especially for a major bank.

There may be one place where this action defies common wisdom however, and that's in Brazil.

Billboard recently reported that Brazilian banking giant Banco Bradesco (#63 on the Forbes Global 2000) entered into a partnership with Universal Music Group to create a new streaming music service exclusively for its credit card holders.

Now, read that again and tell me what your reaction is. I bet at least part of it is, "Why?"

On the surface this seems like a crazy move, but that's because we automatically think of the music industry of the United States as a reference point. The reality is that Brazil is a different animal completely.

According to the IFPI, Brazil is the ninth largest music market with $228 million in total revenue last year. It's also still a young market when it comes to streaming, even though most of the major players have launched there. Read more on Forbes.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How Many Hashtags?

Twitter hashtags image
Hashtags are such a successful feature with Twitter that other social networks have adopted them. They're great as a resource for finding topical posts fast, at least on Twitter. On other networks, not so much. This was the case with Linkedin, who experimented with them for a while before giving up.

There's been a lot of study on effective hashtag use in terms of the number that can be effectively used. Here's the latest.
Twitter - 2 hashtags work best, with the amount of engagement decreasing with the more you add. That said, there's 100 % more engagement if you use them, and tweets with them are more likely to be retweeted as well. Remember not to trivialize your hashtag, since they're best used to categorize a tweet. 
Facebook - It's been found that hashtags actually decrease engagement. Don't use them. 
Instagram - Contrary to all other networks, the more you use, the better since on Instagram, hashtags are used primarily to build community. 11 hashtags or more get the most engagement. 
Pinterest - Once again, it's been found that hashtags actually decrease engagement. Stay away from them here.
One thing to remember is that they now turn up in a Google search and many people do search for them, so they're worth using.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Google Lays The Groundwork For Its YouTube Music Key Launch

YouTube Music Key image
When Google announced last November that it was rolling out a new YouTube subscription service in 2015, the major questions were when and how much. It now looks like we're getting closer to having at least one of those questions answered if yesterday's email to YouTube content creators is any indication.

While the email doesn't specifically mention the awaited Music Key service, it does lay the groundwork for it, asking its content partners to agree to a new terms-of-use contract that specifically mentions an ad-free subscription version of YouTube.

According to the email:
"We’re excited to build on this momentum by taking another big step in favor of choice: offering fans an ads-free version of YouTube for a monthly fee. By creating a new paid offering, we’ll generate a new source of revenue that will supplement your fast growing advertising revenue."
When the new terms are accessed via the Partner Creator Studio Dashboard, the most significant paragraph is one regarding the split of subscription revenue. Read more on Forbes.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Apple's New Streaming Service May Have A Rough Start In Europe

Apple Beats image
Regulators in the European Union may throw a roadblock into Apple's upcoming launch of its new streaming music service.

Reports from both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have sited multiple sources that say that the computer giant is increasingly under examination in Europe in its dealing with record labels. As a result, EU regulators have sent questionnaires to major labels and other streaming services regarding their dealings with Apple.

The supposition is that the tech giant hasn't been entirely truthful with the record labels in the past and regulators want to get to the reality of the situation before the new streaming service is launched. The streaming network is expected to be part of iTunes and is based upon the infrastructure of Beats Music, which Apple purchased last year.

There have been reports that Apple has been pushing the labels hard for a new deal that would enable the company to lower the monthly subscription rate for the upcoming service from the industry standard $9.95 per month to $7.95.

While $4.95 is thought to be the pricing sweet spot, major label licensing deals have made that price point impossible except for limited feature tiers or introductory pricing. Read more on Forbes.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

At Least For Now The Album Makes A Comeback

Record Album image
The album has taken quite a beating for the last few years, as more and more music consumers gravitate to single songs instead. Last year's total album sales, which counts CD, digital and vinyl formats, dropped 11.2% from the previous year, according to the RIAA. Even digital albums weren't immune, dropping 9.4% as well.

The good news is that at least for one quarter, the album's decline has seen an abrupt turnaround, with digital albums up 2.8%, and overall sales down just 1.8% in quarter 1 of 2015, according to Nielsen Music.

Why the change? Many have pointed to Drake's digital-only album release, If You're Reading This It's Too Late, as a possible impetus for the album sales uptick.

Other's think that the increase can be partially attributed to vinyl's continued resurrection, with sales up yet another 52% over the first quarter of last year at 2.77 million units. The problem with that theory is that the format's impact on total album sales is still minor at less than 5% of sales. See more on Forbes.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Will Vessel Video Service Make The Same Mistake As Tidal?

Vessel video service image
Even though many in music hate to acknowledge it, YouTube really runs the music business these days. Multiple studies have found that most discovery of new music online is the result of YouTube, and that the percentage of use increases as the age demographic gets younger.

For that reason, YouTube is a big target for new and existing music services alike. Every entrepreneur wants a piece of those total eyeballs. The problem is that many focus on the wrong part of the equation in an effort to get a competitive edge.

Vessel is a new video network started by two former Hulu executives and backed by Amazon's Jeff Bezos to the reported tune of $75 million. The service hopes to lure users away from YouTube (especially millennials) by giving its subscribers exclusive access to videos not found anywhere else online for a window of up to 72 hours in return for a monthly fee of $3.

The company seems to be basing its success on a strategy of attracting high quality creators by offering them a better deal than they're currently getting anywhere else. This includes 60% of the subscription fee and up to 70% of the advertising revenue for a video that's released on Vessel before another service.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this means that the revenue could go as high as $50 per 1,000 views, a figure that soars past the $6 per 1,000 paid by Vevo and $2 per 1,000 paid by YouTube.

The generous terms has lead to partnerships with Warner Music Group, A&E Networks and YouTube multichannel networks Machinma and Tastemade, according to a New York Times article. Read more on Forbes.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Lowly CD Still A Big Part Of The Music Business

Colored CDs image
All of the music industry news for the last year or so has been directed at oncoming music streaming steamroller and the downfall of the music download, but what's interesting is that our good old physical CD still remains a huge part of the music business. The latest report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the music industry's trade group, shows the 2014 sales of the bright and shiny disc at $1.85 billion, or about 27% of the total U.S. recorded music revenue.

There's no denying that CDs are on the way out, with unit sales falling another 16% in 2014 from the previous year. It's true that it's just a matter of time before the format goes the way of the vinyl record (although there's been a recent resurgence), the 8 track tape and the cassette. What's interesting is that the 144.1 million CDs officially reported as sold by the RIAA in 2014 doesn't represent the real total by a long shot.

The CD sales listed in the annual revenue statistics revolve around sales reported via Nielsen Soundscan, the retail system that registers the sale at the point of purchase by scanning the barcode.

While that's most likely the majority of CD sales sold at retailers and online giants like Amazon, it isn't all of them though. CDs sold by artists and bands at their gigs or on their websites aren't counted. Neither are CDs sold at worship events. And of course, bootleg CDs aren't in those totals either. In fact, there's a huge underground economy still based on the CD that just doesn't register on the RIAA's radar.

That said, the CD business is falling and when it finally hits the ground, it won't be able to get back up. In 2014, streaming revenue from services like Spotify and Pandora overtook CD sales for the first time, ringing up $1.87 billion in revenue. Read more on Forbes.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Big Data Picks This Year's YouTube Music Awards Honorees

YouTube Music Awards image
We seem to be awash in awards shows these days, and most of them feel like they're packaged especially for TV viewing rather than to honor the nominees (as evidenced by the recent iHeartRadio awards). In fact, many times the winners and performers are picked by anonymous "voters" who just happen to select the acts that are the most popular at the moment and also have the largest potential viewer attraction.

The YouTube Music Awards may be another me-too award, but at least it's selecting its winners in a more modern way - by letting the data do the talking.

The awards event will recognize the site's 50 biggest artists based on the views, subscribers and engagement over the last 6 months on Youtube, which is a pretty good general indicator of popularity.

Among the 50 honorees include artists that you'd probably expect like Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, One Direction, Ariana Grande, Beyonce, Hozier, Ed Sheeran, and Brad Paisley, but there's also some off-the-radar choices as well like Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling, artists that are a product almost exclusively of YouTube.

That said, the 50 award honorees represent the cream of the music crop on the service, collectively garnering over 47 billion views (yes, that's with a "b") so far.

One thing that's going to be a lot different about this year's awards is that it won't consist of what we've come to know as a "show." Even though last year's awards show was anything but traditional in that it was largely one big improvisation (although it was eventually viewed more than 54 million times), this year the network has decided to forgo any vestige of the standard fare we've come to expect from such an event.

Instead, on March 23rd YouTube will receive a one day music makeover, complete with a number of exclusive videos produced by Vice Media. In the meantime, YouTube also has launched a channel just for the awards.

As with the previous YouTube Music Awards, the event is sponsored by Kia.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Jay-Z's Relaunched Tidal To Benefit The Artists That Need It Least

Tidal relaunch image
Okay, let me get this straight. Jay-Z’s newly relaunched Tidal streaming music service is supposed to be special because it’s owned by the artists, right? If that’s the only benefit, then it won’t last very long, since the artists with the most to gain are the just the ones that don’t need any more help to begin with. 

During the big rollout last night, there were numerous mentions of the ownership that the first group of artists have in Tidal (reported to be 3% of the company), but let’s look at what that means in terms of benefits to most recording artists and the people who seem to be forgotten in all of this - the potential users of the service.

First of all, the early “investors” in Tidal is a who’s who of A-list music stars like Madonna, Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Coldplay, Calvin Harris, Nikki Manaj, Rihanna and Jason Aldean, among others. There’s also supposed to be a second round of ownership available soon to other artists as well.

Here’s the $56 million (the amount payed by Jay-Z to acquire Aspiro, which ownsTidal) question. How does that benefit the potential end users of the service in any way? Do these artists really believe that most people will pay $20 a month for high-resolution audio content that they won’t already pay $10 for? Why would they even buy into the new standard-def $10 per month tier if they can get the songs they want on a free streaming tier of another service or on Youtube? Read more on Forbes.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

4 Excellent Rules To Stay Out Of Trouble With Your Fans On Facebook

If you're an artist or band and you're on Facebook, you want to make that audience grow and keep them engaged. The problem is that there are right and wrong ways to do this. Choose the wrong way and you either look like a schmuck or even worse, anger your fanbase.

Here are 4 excellent rules to follow on Facebook that will keep you out of trouble with those fans. They're simple and easy, all you have to do is follow them.

1. Don't Like your own post. This just looks bad and doesn't serve any real purpose. It won't help your Like count and it just feels like you're patting yourself on the back for how smart you are. You're not like that, so don't do it.

2. Don't post or tag photos of fans, crew or venue employees without their permission. You might think that the people will be flattered, and that may be true for most, but there's always someone that's there discretely and wants to keep it that way. Just ask permission first. Want to be even safer? Get written permission with a short release form.

3. Don't tag people or pages that aren't relevant to you. This one personally steams me the most. I just hate it when someone tags me in a photo that I wasn't involved with in an effort to get me to check it out. It's just bad form, doesn't accomplish the task, and angers your followers, so don't do it.

4. Don't ask for Likes, Comments, or Share. This one is sort of borderline in that there's an acceptable way and an unacceptable way to do it.
First of all, it's against Facebook's terms to ask for a Like, although people do it all the time. A better way to do this, and also keeps it within FB's terms of use, is through through a Facebook promotions company like Woobox. This allows you to set up contests or giveaways that hopefully will result in more Likes or Shares.
You pay for it, but it's a much more elegant and legal way to accomplish the same thing. As for Comments, the best way to get more is to ask more questions. Works every time.

Follow these rules and you'll not only stay out of trouble with your fans and followers, but look a whole lot more professional in doing so as well.

You can find more social media tips and tricks from my Social Media Promotion for Musicians book.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.


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