Monday, May 9, 2016

We've Moved To A New Site!

Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 Music Industry Blog can now be found at:


All new posts going forward will appear at that site, but you can still enjoy 6 years of archives here.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Virtual Reality Concerts To Begin This Summer

The future of concertsI'm a big proponent of virtual reality, especially when the audio is done well, and many have predicted that the technology will eventually be a boon to concerts. We're going to see soon enough as virtual reality concerts will actually begin to roll out this summer.

NextVR, which has been a leader in VR broadcasting of sporting events, has teamed up with LiveNation to broadcast a series of concerts, although no artists have been named as of yet. There will be a limited number of VR music events this summer, with a full schedule planned for 2017.

The NextVR broadcast will be available via Samsung's Gear VR using the Oculus Home app, although they will also most likely be available on other VR platforms as well.

LiveNation/NextVR aren't the only companies jumping into the concert broadcast game. iHeartRadio and Universal Music Group previously announced that they would also broadcast VR concerts this year.

Virtual reality concerts hold great promise because it gives the viewer a feeling of actually being there and watching from the best seat in the house, which many feel may eventually eclipse attending an event. Paying $200 for a nosebleed seat might not be a suitable option when you can get a better view from your home while still feeling immersed in the event.

The same can be said for sporting events as well, as NextVR recently signed a 5 year deal with Fox Sports, although there may be more technical challenges in this niche than with music.

One thing's for sure, VR is taking beginning to take off, even though it still hasn't hit the general public yet, as more and more companies are jockeying for position.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Which Genre Of Music Do We Like Best?

Rock's not deadIf you were to listen to a week of nothing but radio, you'd think that all we listen to in the U.S. is pop and country music. If you were to read a week's worth of the music news, you might think that dance/electronic/EDM was close to the top of the heap in what we enjoy. The problem with those assumptions is that they're wrong, at least according to the 2015 Nielsen Year End Music Report that, among other things, looked at the genres of music we liked the best last year.

When taking into account the total amount of music consumption, which includes physical and downloaded albums, downloaded tracks, and streams, here's the order of music genre preference that the study determined:

Rock - 24.5%
R&B/Hip-Hop - 18.2%
Pop - 15.7%
Country - 8.5%
Latin - 4.5%
Dance/EDM - 3.4%
Christian - 2.8%
Holiday/Seasonal - 1.7%
Classical - 1.3%
Childrens - 1.1%

When it came to number of albums consumed, Rock was far ahead at 32.6%, followed by R&B/Hip-Hop at 15.1% and Pop at 22.6%.

For streams, R&B/Hip-Hop came out on top at 21.1%. Rock at 17.5%. and Pop at 14.5%.

Rock might not be the hippest genre and it's frequently portrayed in the press as spiraling downward in popularity and relevancy, but it still continues to out-perform other music genres, for better or worse.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Record Store Day May Have Peaked

Record Store Day peaked imageSince 2008, Record Store Day every April has been a huge hit. In fact, many in the music industry feel that it's been a big reason for vinyl's resurgence, calling attention to a side of the business that had been essential dead and buried and has now returned to a level of surprising growth. Even though the latest Record Store Day a couple of weeks ago was proclaimed the biggest ever, there's evidence that we might've seen its peak.

One of the best things about RSD was that the small Mom & Pop record store was celebrated, but this time many of these stores refused to join in the festivities because they now feel it's been totally co-opted by the major labels.

The reason is that in order for a store to officially participate in the event, they are forced to purchase a slew of "official" new vinyl releases, which they're not able to return if unsold. This has imparted an undue financial burden upon already cash-strapped stores which many are now unwilling to take.

While many vinyl fans do look for new or re-released titles, most record stores make their living on used or early edition releases, and find that new vinyl just doesn't sell in the quantities that the labels require them to take for the event (the big indies are complicit here too).

Small indie labels and artists are also upset too, in that the major labels tie up all the vinyl pressing plants for months prior to RSD, so they're not able to have new vinyl ready for the event.

So like with so many other movements that start off with the best intentions, Record Store Day has been co-opted by big business, and as a result will soon cease to be the event that it once was. Let's hope that the indie record stores find other ways to maintain their visibility so they can still stay in business.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Radiohead Erases Its Online Presence

Radiohead erased online imageRadiohead has always been groundbreaking when it comes to their online presence (the "pay what you want" campaign for In Rainbows being a prime example), but now it's entered some new territory by slowly but effectively erasing its entire online presence.

Yes, that's right. It's pretty hard to find any trace of Radiohead online right now.

There are no longer any Facebook posts or tweets on the band's accounts, and singer Thom Yorke has deleted his tweets as well. The band's Google Plus account is now blank too. And most bizarre is that its website has been slowly fading away as the opacity has decreased until it too went totally blank.

Then over the weekend, fans received postcards from the band via old fashioned snail mail that simply said, "Sing the song of sixpence that goes 'Burn the witch'."

There's speculation that there's a new Radiohead album about to be released since the band registered a new company called Dawn Chorus LLP in February. Previous to the the band's In Rainbows and The King of Limbs albums, the band also established companies in their names.

So there's a new album coming, and we can be pretty sure that won't be online, since the band has long shown it's contempt for streaming. It should be interesting to see exactly what the marketing play is this time.

Update: The band reappeared this morning with a couple of short animated clips on Instagram, then a new music video presumably from their new album on its website.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Old Music Outsells New In 2015

Nielsen's latest music report is out and, as always, it's very revealing about what we listen to in the U.S. Perhaps it's biggest revelation is that, for the first time, old music (known as catalog sales) outsold new music in 2015.

Catalog is defined as a music release that's more than 18 months old. Of course, we're also talking about music sales and not streams, which is an entirely different matter.

That said, sales of older music came despite the huge sales numbers for Adele's giant 25 album, which was only available for sale and not as a stream. The album went on to sell 7.2 million copies in the last 6 weeks of 2015 in the U.S. alone.

But lest you think that CDs are completely dead, 2015 saw 125 million of them sold for about $1.52 billion in revenue, which is still a huge amount of money.

And that's only the CDs that were tallied by Soundscan. CDs sold privately on events and online aren't counted.

Beyond that, there were 103 million digital albums downloaded, and 11.9 million vinyl albums sold.

As you can see on the chart on the left, catalog music leads over new music in all facets of sales. I guess the "Long Tail Theory" must be working.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Your Cover Songs May Not Be Streamed

Cover songs might not be streamed imageDoing a great cover version of a hit song has been a successful tactic in helping to raise the visibility of an artist or band for some time, but that practice may soon come to an end thanks to new efforts by iTunes, Spotify and other streaming services.

More and more, digital streaming services are either hiding or removing cover songs, sound-alikes, re-recorded songs and live performances in an effort to simply their catalogs and make it easier for users to find the song they really want.

And they have a point. Searching for a popular song sometimes turns up more than 50 choices, making it difficult to find the original that you're looking for.

The problem is that there are many unintended policies that come with this editorial decision.

For instance, it's been reported by Billboard that one service's "blacklist" of recordings that include 400 artists that range from B.B. King, Frank Sinatra, John Coltrane and Pete Seeger.

Re-records, the practice of an artist or band re-recording one of their hits so they own the recording instead of the record label, are also frequently marginalized as well, although many fans aren't all that unhappy as most prefer the original versions.

So beware if you're recording a cover song in the hopes of gaining some extra streams. While the practice may still work on YouTube, chances are your cover won't see the light of day on the other streaming services from now on.

Apple Music Up To 13 Million Subscribers

Apple Music 13 Million Subscribers imageIt looks like all the naysayers were wrong. Apple reported on its recent earnings call that its Apple Music streaming service was now up to 13 million paid subscribers and still growing.

Much of that growth has come recently in fact, as it was reported that 2 million subscribers signed up since February alone.

The present growth looks to be at around 1 million a month, which means that the tech giant should be battling Spotify for the top space in the streaming industry by the end of year.

Spotify claims to have 20 million current subscribers, but many are on a "student discount" tier at half the $9.99 monthly price.

One advantage that Apple Music has over Spotify is that it's available in 58 more countries than Spotify, including Russia, China and Japan. All in all, the service is available in a total of 113 countries, leaving Spotify to play catch-up.

One reason for AM's growth spurt has been albums from Drake, Coldplay, The 1975 and Gwen Stefani, where were releases to AM for a period before Spotify. Having an advert with Taylor Swift was also a big help.

Despite the recent hype around Tidal, it's Apple Music that seems to be making the most headway.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tidal Exclusives Bring Back Piracy

Tidal Exclusives Lead To PiracyJust when you thought music piracy was dead and buried it comes roaring back as alive as ever. The reason? Exclusives by Kanye West, Beyonce and Prince on Tidal.

These exclusives have been great for Tidal, as they have helped it to jump more than 100 places on the App Store most downloaded app chart, where it now sits at #3 on the iOS list.

As a result, Tidal is now the most popular music app in the US, even above Pandora and Spotify (Apple Music doesn't chart since it's a native app).

That's the good part of the story. The bad part is that some people just don't want to pay a monthly fee to stream a single album, they're not fond of Tidal, or they already subscribe to another service, so they resort to piracy instead. As a result, it's been estimated that West's The Life Of Pablo was torrented over 500,000 times in just its first day of release!

It looks like the same thing all over again in the initial hours after the release of Beyonce's Lemonade, as it's already on top of the the charts of both Kick Ass Torrents and The Pirate Bay.

And while Lemonade may be getting all the credit for Tidal's sudden ascendancy, the fact of the matter is that it's the only place online (other than YouTube, of course) where you can stream Prince's entire catalog. After his passing last week, there's been a tremendous appetite for his music, again helping Tidal tremendously.

So it looks like the only one making out on these exclusive's is Jay-Z and his Tidal service. The artists lose sales and streaming royalties to piracy, and the entire industry loses a chance to further the streaming cause. It's a missed opportunity.

The real smart move here would have been to make the exclusive's available only on the paid premium tiers of every service to give consumers a reason to sign up or upgrade. It could have happened with Adele's 25, it could have happened with The Life Of Pablo, and it could have happened with Lemonade.

Instead they've resurrected a scourge to the music industry where no one benefits except the pirates.

(This post was first posted on Forbes)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What Do People Listen To On Their Smartphones?

Smartphone listening imageEdison Research recently completed a study on smartphone usage and discovered that the listening habits of users isn't quite what we believed it to be. in fact, the results were pretty surprising.
  • 54% listened to a radio channel
  • 16% listened to music they own
  • 15% listened to Pandora or other radio-like streaming services
  • 7% listen to Sirius XM
  • 5% to TV music channels
  • 2% listen to podcasting
Heavy listeners (those defined by listening to 2 hours or more per day) have a slightly different consumption pattern.
  • 43% listen to music they've downloaded and own
  • 37% listen to streaming audio
  • 9% listen to AM/FM radio
  • 7% listen to podcasts
Finally, 87% of adults from 18 to 34 never let their smartphones leave their sides.

All that said, we're under the impression that the listening world belongs to exclusively to streaming, but that's far from the case, according to the study. While radio listening and downloads may be dropping, they're still a vital portion of our listening day.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Prince Passes, Record Store Day and Songtradr CEO Paul Wiltshire On My Inner Circle Podcast

Paul Wiltshire imageAs those of you who are songwriters or copyright holders know, you make money when people use your songs, especially on television, films or commercials. It's not easy to get placement though, but it's getting easier thanks to Songtradr, a marketplace that matches songs and cues to people and brands who are looking for them.

Paul Wiltshire's the founder and CEO of Songtradr and he's my guest on this week's podcast. Prior to coming up with the idea, Paul was an award-winning songwriter and producer in Australia, and he's also had some big successes in the US with the likes of the Backstreet Boys, so he knows what it's like to be on the creative end of things.

In the intro I'll take a look at a part of Prince's legacy that not many see, his business acumen that changed the music industry in many ways. I'll also give you a report on the backlash by record retailers at what was once their biggest day of the year - Record Store Day.

Remember that you can find the podcast at BobbyOInnerCircle.com, either on iTunes, Stitcher and now on Mixcloud and Google Play


Major Labels Say That Content ID Not Effective Enough

YouTube Content ID and CopyrightThe 3 major labels are furthering their attack on YouTube, the platform they love to hate.

With licenses up for renewal soon, the majors are trying their best to gain some leverage in the negotiation, so they have filed a submission to the US Copyright Office claiming that YouTube's Content ID is ineffective in identifying uploads using content illegally using their copyrights a great deal of the time.

Content ID is YouTube's secret sauce in that it's the content recognition technology that allows the copyright holder to identify and monetize unauthorized uploads of copyrighted material.

Universal Music Publishing claims that it fails to identify as much as 40% of its compositions, according to an article in the Financial Times.

YouTube, of course, claims that Content ID is successful 99.5% of the time. Even if that were true, 0.5% still represents hundreds of thousands of unlicensed uploads, so there's a lot of money being left on the table.

Ultimately, the labels would like the 55/45 revenue split with YouTube to be increased, since all other music streaming platforms are in the 70+% range. YouTube has little incentive to change, however, since even if the labels pull their licenses, the user generated uploads will continue, so the label's vast catalog of music will still remain on the platform.

If it's true that Content ID doesn't catch 40% of the unauthorized uploads, that only puts YouTube in a stronger negotiating position. One should never bet against the major labels in a negotiation, but in this case, my money is on YouTube coming out on top.


Friday, April 22, 2016

How Long Should Your Teaser Video Be?

Best teaser length imageMany artists and bands will post a teaser video of their album before it's released, or as a brief sampler afterwards. The problem is that there's several schools of thought on how long the teaser should be.

One school has it that shortest is best, since YouTube attention span is around 8 seconds. The second school says that you should make it as long as necessary to get the point across, even up to several minutes long.

It turns out that neither may be right. According to a study done by Think With Google, good old fashioned 30 second ads performed far better than either 15 or 60 second ones when it came to people viewing it all the way through. This allowed the viewer to get more detail about the product without the dreaded viewer fatigue.

This contradicts what happens on television, where 15 second ads are up to 75% more effective (and cheaper) than their longer counterparts. No surprise since online advertising has proven to be substantially different because of its random access nature.

The bottom line is that 30 seconds is a sweet spot in that it's neither too long nor too short, giving you enough time to get the point across while the viewer doesn't feel like she has to sit through too much information.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

6 Best Practices For Using Facebook Live

Facebook Live imageFacebook Live looks to be a boon to artists and bands everywhere who want to reach their Facebook fans. That said, there are some best practices in using the platform, according to Facebook's Media Blog. Here's what they suggest:

   1. Alert friends and followers in advance about plans to broadcast live, in order to build up anticipation.

   2. Ensure that you have a fast enough connection to broadcast live video, preferably WiFi or 4G. Be aware that the “Go Live” button will be grayed out if the signal is not strong enough to support Facebook Live.

   3. Post a description of what you are about to share before going live.

   4. Ask friends and followers to sign up for notifications so that they are aware of your Facebook Live offerings.

   5. Respond to comments by saying hello and mentioning the names of users who comment.

   6. Stay live for longer time periods: Facebook recommends at least 10 minutes, and the feature supports broadcasts up to 90 minutes.

There are plenty of live video platforms out there, and you may be successfully using some of them already. That's fine if you're sure you're reaching your fans, but keep in the mind that Facebook has more users outside the United States than in. If you want to reach those fans, consider using Facebook Live.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tidal Subscribers Sue Kanye West For Posting On Other Services

Tidal - $84 million in personal data imageHere's an interesting twist in the Kanye West/Tidal story. He's getting sued by Tidal subscribers who claimed they were duped into paying for the service.

It all stems from when the performer released his latest album The Life of Pablo exclusively on Tidal. At the time, West claimed that the album would never appear on another streaming services, and as a result, some two million people flocked to Tidal to pay at least $9.99 a month to have a listen.

Alas, that exclusivity was to be short lived as TLOP is now available on both Apple Music and Spotify - for free.

That's part of the reason why West has been named in a class action suit against him. Perhaps because that might be a flimsy case to present, the plaintiff's attorneys are leaning more heavily on a privacy issue instead.

"Mr. West's promise of exclusivity also had a grave impact on consumer privacy," the lawsuit states, mostly because user credit card information, music preferences and other personal information were collected.

The lawsuit contends the value of new subscribers and their personal information could be as much as $84 million for Tidal.

The album was reportedly streamed some 250 million times within 10 days of its release.

This will be an interesting one to watch.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Amazon Prime Music Takes Another Baby Step

Amazon Prime Music logoIf you've been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I've been saying all along to watch out for Amazon Prime Music as the next big disrupter in the streaming music space.

Why? Prime Music is part of the popular Amazon Prime subscription service that already has a reported 75 million subscribers (although Amazon isn't saying just how many). Amazon is also dabbling in its own record label, and is generally getting into the mainstream music distribution waters one toe at a time.

Well, maybe two toes, as the company recently dropped a few new nuggets of what might come next.

First of all, T-Mobile must added Amazon Music to its data-free music streaming program called Music Freedom. This is the first instance of Prime Music being available to off-the-platform users.

What might be more an indicator of the future is the fact that Amazon just made it's Prime Video service available as a stand-alone product for $9 a month. For $11 a month you could also buy the full Amazon Prime membership complete with Amazon Prime Music and 2 day shipping (which is more expensive than just paying the $99 a year fee for the same thing).

Although this last move has little to do directly with Prime Music, it's another baby step in the direction that we inevitably know Amazon will take. Don't be surprised if there's a big announcement about a free-standing Prime Music service in the next few months.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Facebook Finally Launches Its Version Of Content ID

Facebook Rights Manager imageContent creators have been complaining for months that many of their YouTube videos have been showing up on Facebook posted by someone else - an action called "freebooting."

In an effort to alleviate the situation, Facebook has now officially launched its version of YouTube’s Content ID called Rights Manager

This is an admin tool for Facebook Pages that lets them upload video clips, then monitors Facebook news feeds for copies of these videos that might be later illegally posted to Facebook. It can then either automatically report them as violations to be deleted or notify the original publisher.

Rights Manager allows copyright owners to set up whitelists of Pages that are allowed to distribute their videos, and upload unpublished videos they don’t want anyone else using even if they haven’t posted them themselves.

It will also show what Page posted a video, how many views it has gotten, and sort alerts about freebooting by these parameters, too.

Live videos can be monitored as well, which is designed to prevent people from rebroadcasting pay-per-view TV content like boxing matches, which has become a huge issue that has put Periscope in the television industry's crosshairs.

Rights Manager isn’t available to all Facebook users yet, although content owners can now apply for access.

Interestingly, there's been no discussion about monetizing Facebook videos yet, although it seems like only a matter of time now that Rights Manager is in place.



Friday, April 15, 2016

Keep Your Eye On These Next 3 Social Trends

3 new social media trendsSocial media is the lifeblood of so many artists, bands, musicians and record labels in terms of engaging and growing their fanbases. That means it's important to stay current on the latest developments so you don't get left behind.

With that in mind, there are 3 new trends in social media that are really heating up that you should keep an eye on, according to Kevan Lee of of the social posting tool Buffer in a post on thenextweb. Look out for the following:

1. Purchasing items directly from your News Feed.
We're already seeing this on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest where your fan can make a purchase from within the app, which means she's avoided linking to the multiple steps in an external shopping cart and possibly losing the sale. Facebook has also been testing a Buy button for more than a year, and is slowly rolling it out to a specific group of advertisers.

One of the downsides of News Feed purchasing in the current crop of social platforms is that you usually need to be involved with a third part app like Shopify, Stripe or Gumroad to use as a payment processor/gateway, but if you're selling merch online already, chances are that you're already connected.

2. Custom social networks at work.
Companies are beginning to see the advantage of having their own internal social networks. The thought being that if employees are going to be on social media during the workday anyway, the company might as well have some control over it. Facebook at Work is the first network to jump into this game with a customized work version, but expect others to follow.

There are still a lot of unknowns here, but the trend is worth watching since it could affect the timing of your posts. In other words, it might be better to wait until after 5PM when people are away from their work networks so you can catch them on their personal networks. On the other hand, a work network might be able to be penetrated by a certain type of post, which then gives you the inside track at engagement. We'll know more as it rolls out.

3. How to reach people who aren't checking their feeds.
Social media is more broadcast while messaging is more personal. Many people prefer messaging because there are no algorithms involved, nor are there ads. As messaging becomes more popular, the influence of social lessens, as does your ability to reach your fans who depend less on a social platform. But what would happen if you could broadcast to a group of fans over a messaging app? Whatsapp has already started something like this with a newsletter that is broadcast to a wide group of people, and Everlane for Facebook allows a broadcast over Messenger.

The upside of this is that it gives your fans another way to hear from you if you give them multiple options when subscribing. The downside is that it can definitely clutter up a service with unwanted messages.

Many of the social distribution companies are also trying to wrap their heads around this one, but the hope is (at least from me) that messaging stays private. Don't be surprised if ads start to pop up in places that you never expected though.

(Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg via Flickr)


Thursday, April 14, 2016

IFPI Releases New Global Music Industry Sales Figures

Global Music Sales imageThe IFPI (the organization that tracks global music sales) finally released its annual report on the sales for 2015. If you've been reading this blog for a while, none of the figures surprise you.

Here are the numbers right out of the report.
  • Digital revenues now account for 45 per cent of total revenues, compared to 39 per cent for physical sales.
  • There was a 10.2 per cent rise in digital revenues to US$ 6.7 billion, with a 45.2 per cent increase in streaming revenue more than offsetting the decline in downloads and physical formats.
  • Total industry revenues grew 3.2 per cent to US$ 15.0 billion, leading to the industry's first significant year-on-year growth in nearly two decades. Digital revenues now account for more than half the recorded music market in 19 markets.
  • Streaming remains the industry's fastest-growing revenue source. Revenues increased 45.2 per cent to US$ 2.9 billion and, over the five year period up to 2015, have grown more than four-fold.
  • Streaming now accounts for 43 per cent of digital revenues and is close to overtaking downloads (45 per cent) to become the industry's primary digital revenue stream.
  • Premium subscription services have seen a dramatic expansion in recent years with an estimated 68 million people now paying a music subscription. This figure is up from 41 million in 2014 and just eight million when data was first compiled in 2010.
  • Downloads remain a significant offering, but now account for just 20 per cent of industry revenues. Income was down 10.5 per cent to US$ 3.0 billion - a higher rate of decline than in 2014 (- 8.2 per cent). Full album downloads are still a major part of the music fans' experience and were worth US$1.4 billion. This is higher than the level of sales in 2010 (US $983 million) and 2011 (US $1.3 billion).
  • Performance rights revenue grew. Revenue generated through the use of recorded music by broadcasters and public venues increased 4.4 per cent to US$2.1 billion and remains one of the most consistent growing revenue sources. This revenue stream now accounts for 14 per cent of the industry's overall global revenue, up from 10 per cent in 2011.
  • Revenues from physical formats declined, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years, falling by 4.5 per cent compared to 8.5 per cent in 2014 and 10.6 per cent in 2013. The sector still accounts for 39 per cent of overall global income and remains the format of choice for consumers in a number of major markets worldwide including Japan (75 per cent), Germany (60 per cent), and France (42 per cent).
That's a lot of data to take in, but the big takeaways are that the total industry revenue remains flat at $15 billion, despite streaming's growth, and paid subscriptions are taking off, at 68 million worldwide as compared to 41 million the year before.

There's more than meets the eye here though, which I'll address in an upcoming post.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

YouTube Has All The Leverage In New Label Negotiations

If you’re a record label, or an artist, band or publisher for that matter, the one thorn in your digital side is YouTube. Why? It’s by far the most widely used streaming service for consuming music, yet it pays the least of all the services. However, it’s come to light that YouTube’s licensing agreements with the three major labels have either expired or are about to, which brings new hope that renegotiated terms might mean increased revenue for the industry.

That hope may prove false though, since YouTube continues to hold all the leverage - in fact, it holds virtually all of it.

Until now, the major labels could drive a hard bargain with all other streaming services that not only gained them hefty upfront fees, but also even a piece of the company in some cases. If a music service didn’t like a label’s terms, it still had no choice but to take the deal, otherwise it would be minus the label’s catalog, which could mean a death blow to the service.

Not so with YouTube.

Since so much of the music on the service is illegally uploaded by its users, the company is able to dictate the license agreement terms, since if a label balks and refuses to agree to the deal, its music will still appear on the service.

In fact, Warner Music tried this very tactic a few years ago, but after a year of its songs still appearing on YouTube yet generating zero revenue, the company acquiesced and signed a deal on YouTube’s terms. Getting some money is better than no money at all.


All this is made possible thanks to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which protects YouTube and other similar services in that they can’t be held liable as a result of unlicensed content that its users might upload. A record label can ask that the content be taken down, and YouTube will comply, but chances are that content will be re-uploaded immediately and the cycle will continue. Plus the burden of finding any unlicensed versions lies with the labels, all of which spend a great deal of time and resources searching for violations. 

So YouTube is in the drivers seat in these negotiations. Even if the labels don’t like the deal presented, they have no recourse since their music will find its way onto the service, but the labels will get zero money if they pull their catalogs because they don’t like the terms.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Everything You Wanted To Know About Facebook Live

Facebook Live imageFacebook Live is about to the "next big thing" on the platform, and it seems like it will be a boon for artists and bands wanting to engage with their fans on the service.

Since it's so new, you may not be sure of exactly what Live is and what it will do. Here are some facts about the service from the FB Live page.
  • What is Facebook Live? Live lets people, public figures and Pages share live video with their followers and friends on Facebook.
  • Live is available to all Pages and profiles on Facebook for iOS, Android, and Facebook Mentions. There will be a red icon at the top left-hand corner of the video indicating that it is a live video. The word “Live” is written next to the icon, along with the number of current viewers.
  • The video will be published to the Page or profile so that fans and friends who missed it can watch at a later time. The broadcaster can remove the video post at any time, just like any other post.
  • Videos will appear in News Feed and on the broadcaster's Page or profile while they are live. Once a broadcast has ended, live videos are eligible to show up everywhere that other videos appear.
  • Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live.
  • You can apply control and customization settings to the video on the broadcast after it has ended if you're a Page.
  • Live broadcasts can last up to 90 minutes.
  • People can discover live videos right in News Feed. To get notified when certain a broadcaster goes live, tap the "Live Subscribe" button on the top of a live video to get notified when that person or Page goes live again. People who frequently engage with or have recently interacted with a person or Page going Live may receive a notification.
  • You need a strong signal before going live. WiFi tends to work best, but if you can't find a nearby network, you'll want a 4G connection. To check your internet speed ahead of time, download the Speedtest app from the App Store or Google Play.
Just like natively uploaded videos, Live videos will rank higher in news feeds and more of your followers will see it, so it's a very useful tool for engagement.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Music Attorney John Kellogg On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Music Attorney John KelloggI'm really pleased to have music attorney John Kellogg on the podcast this week. John represented acts like Levert and the O'Jays before becoming assistant chair of the Music Business and Management at Berklee College of Music.

John knows the music business from an artist’s perspective as well, since prior to becoming an attorney, he was a singer in the funk band Cameo.

In the intro I'll take a look at Apple's swearing patent, and the 6 trouble frequencies that many mixers find perplexing.

Remember that you can find the podcast at BobbyOInnerCircle.com, either on iTunes, Stitcher and now on Mixcloud and Google Play

The Beatles A Bigger Hit On Spotify Than Current Artists

The Beatles On Spotify imageAfter all these years, it's surprising how popular The Beatles music still is, and the band's presence on Spotify proves it. The Fab 4 have been on the streaming service for a mere 100 days, yet the it's been one of the most popular, even more so than current artists like Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and 5 Second of Summer.

The band has averaged 6.5 million listeners a month, with 67% of them being under the age of 35. All told it's been estimated that the several hundred million plays add up to more than 24 million hours of listening.

Surprisingly enough, Beatlemania is strongest in Mexico City, followed by London, Santiago, Chile and Los Angeles, and Thursday at 5PM is the peak time for listening. The top 4 countries that listen are the USA, UK, Mexico and Sweden.

The 4 most popular songs globally are "Here Comes The Sun," followed by "Come Together," "Let It Be," and "Yesterday," while the most popular albums are 1, Abbey Road, The White Album and Let It Be. The band's songs also now appear on 4.2 million playlists.

It's pretty amazing that the music from any single artist could be so enduring and popular.


Friday, April 8, 2016

New Social Media Tools For More Efficient Posting

Social Media Tools imageIf there's one thing that we all know, it's that the more social media platforms you're on, the more time it will take to check and post to them. That's why the latest social automation tools can be so valuable, as they save time and make engaging your audience so much more efficient. Take a look (many thanks to Smallbiztrends).

DrumUp allows you to curate content to multiple accounts so you always have something new to post even when you don't have any new original content. It finds content based on your keywords, then provides content recommendations, feeds, scheduling and re-posting. It also supplies a suggested list of hashtags when you post. And it's free.

IFTTT stands for "If This Then That" and is a social media automation tool that lets you create “recipes” that make apps work together. For instance, if you post to Facebook, you can create a recipe that also posts to over 292 other services, including music services like SoundCloud, Deezer and Spotify. Very cool.

RiteTag works across 14 major websites but is most useful as a Twitter tool in that it allows you to add images, hashtags, GIFs, emojis and customized CTAs on all your shared links. That said, one of its best features is the ability to recommend hashtags, including the most used, trending, and least popular. There's also a free version to get you started.

Managefilter is a tool that lets you keep track of your Twitter followers, your reach, and provides some advanced analytics. Perhaps its best feature is to show you the best time to post for maximum reach, but the group Unfollow and Follow feature can be valuable, as well as the search feature to find influencers. A free starter plan is also available.

These tools are only valuable if you use them, so I recommend that you try them one at a time, spend some time with each, and see if they fit your needs. Chances are at least one of them will make your social life easier.

(Photo: Per Erik Strandberg via Wikipedia)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

9 New Rules For Success In Today's Music business

9 New Rules For Success In Today's Music businessWe've gone through a mighty change in the music business over the last 10 years, and it keeps on morphing and evolving every day. Since these changes are constant, many of the old school rules pertaining to success in the music business no longer apply.

Here's an excerpt from the latest edition of my Music 4.0 book that outlines some of the new rules for success, as well as a few that may never change.

1. It’s all about scale. It’s not the sales, it’s the number of YouTube views (at least at the moment) you have. A hit that sells only 50,000 combined units (album and single) may have 50 million YouTube views. Once upon a time, a sales number like that 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 get into and maintain, so in the near future there will be a shakeout that will leave far fewer digital competitors. Don’t be shocked when you wake up one day to find a few gone.

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 success is slow. You grow your audience one fan at a time. The longer it takes, the more likely the longer the career you’ll have. 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 radio immediately, a major label 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.

6. You must create on a regular basis. Fans have a very short attention span and need to be fed with new material constantly in order to stay at the forefront of their minds. What should you create? Anything and everything, from new original tunes to cover tunes, to electric versions to acoustic versions, to remixes to outtakes, to behind the scenes videos to lyric videos, and more. You may create it all at once, but release it on a consistent basis so you always have some fresh content available.

7. YouTube is the new radio (but it may include Facebook soon). Nurture your following there and release on a consistent basis (see above). It’s where the people you want to reach are discovering new music.

8. Growing your audience organically is best. Don't expect your friends and family to spread the word, as they don’t count. If you can’t find an audience on your own merits, there’s something wrong with your music or your presentation. Find the problem, fix it, and try it again. The trick is finding that audience.

9. First and foremost, it all starts with the song. If you can’t write a great song that appeals to even a small audience, none of the other things in this book matter much.

Finally, remember that making a living is the new successSuperstardom is more difficult to come by than ever, and the artistic middle class continues to shrink. Today, if you can make your living strictly from making music, you've accomplished a lot and have a lot to be proud of.




Bkstg Connects Artists Directly With Fans

Bkstg appThere are many direct-to-fan platforms available for artists these days, but that doesn't prevent new ones from launching. Bkstg is a new app that lets artists own the entire experience of connecting with fans in one place. This includes posting videos and photos to selling tickets to selling merch.

In many cases, 5 to 10% of an artist's fan base drives 80% of the revenue, but the artist usually has no direct way to identify and directly connect with those fans, especially when using most social platforms like Instagram and Twitter.

The Bkstg platform allows an artist to see exactly who's buying tickets, engaging with content. and consuming exclusive content so they can be further targeted.

The platform also utilizes geo-fencing so that an artist on tour can send out a message about ticket or merch specials just to those fans attending the show.

Bkstg is starting with some heavyweight artists like Aerosmith, Justin Bieber, Usher and Maroon 5, and the app is free to use for both artists and users.



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

$38 Script Let's You Set Up A Spotify-Like Site

YouTubifyIt seems that pirate music sites are getting easier and easier to set up these days.

Apparently there's a script that you can buy for just $38 that will let you set up your own cross between Spotify and YouTube. It's illegal, of course, and will get shut down in no time (especially if you live in the United States), but if you're really into it, it is possible to launch your own instant music site.

The script is called YouTubify and allows almost anyone to set up their own music service without breaking too much of a sweat. For now, it's available on one of the biggest coding sites frequented by hackers.

Wefre was a fee music distribution site that recently popped up using the script, and although users loved the look and feel of it, it was forced to shut down shortly after launch.

And fortunately for artists, publishers and labels everywhere, this is what's going to happen in most of these cases. Just because you can easily launch a music distribution site, it doesn't mean you should.

Sites like Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, Apple Music and every other music streaming site that you can list have all paid millions of dollars in licensing fees and pay monthly royalties to artists, labels and publishers. Even if the music is offered for free by one of these hacker sites, it still violates copyright laws (it's a form of piracy, after all).

Reportedly there are dozens of sites using this script that yet to be shut down, but luckily, none have received much attention or gotten traction.

It's tough enough trying to make money in the streaming music business without a plethora of free sites popping up everywhere.


Monday, April 4, 2016

YouTube To Introduce A Live Streaming App

YouTube Connect imageWhere once we lived in a world of pre-recorded video, that's changing rapidly as millennials increasingly show how much they love live streaming.

For instance, Periscope has posted more than 100 million broadcasts since its debut in March of 2015, and Snapchat Live Stories has as many as 100 million users per day, which has lead Facebook into the same space with Facebook Live.

And Facebook Live has been successful in just a short time, with some creators pulling in over 100,000 viewers per broadcast.

All this has lead Google to decide that perhaps it's a good idea to enter this side of the online video business, and as a result, you'll be seeing its new stand-alone app called YouTube Connect in the coming months.

The service is said to have chat and tagging features built in, as well as a newsfeed that displays videos from friends and brands that the user has subscribed to.

YouTube is beginning to feel the pressure from Facebook when it comes to short form video, and Connect is its way for trying to get back in the game.

Too little too late? Users are fickle, but they usually go where their friends are, so don't be surprised if many don't even sample a new offering, even from market leader (for now) YouTube, at least until the next update of their favorite platform upsets them.


Friday, April 1, 2016

New Apple Technology Rids Songs Of Swear Words

Free Speech with conditions imageHere's one for the 1st amendment. Apple has been granted a patent named "Management, Replacement and Removal of Explicit Lyrics during Audio Playback" for technology that can automatically scan a song being streamed and edit out any swear words in the lyrics.

According to an article in Business Insider, the technology is different from automatic beeping of a swear word though. The system can detect an undesirable word then generate background music from the song in its place instead, so the transition is seamless.

Apple claims that the system may also work with books as well. For example, it could edit out words applying to sex or even full sex scenes from a book to make it more applicable to children.

Apple employs some censorship currently on Beats 1, limiting the content to anything without explicit lyrics. and the App Store has been notorious for keeping out porn or porn-related sites. That said, the list of "swear words" that the new technology works on will be undoubtedly controversial.

Apple hasn't said if it would actually employ the technology however, only that it's been granted the patent for it. If it's ever rolled out, it's bound to have free speech advocates everywhere up in arms.

(Photo Credit: Newtown Grafitti)


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

SoundCloud Launches Its Subscription Tier

SoundCloud Go imageIt's been rumored for months, and it's finally happened. SoundCloud has launched a subscription tier to its streaming service called SoundCloud Go and it's priced at what's now become the standard - $9.99 per month ($12.99 for iOS).

The fact of the matter is that SoundCloud Go seems like it's more to appease the major labels than anything. All 3 majors have now licensed their catalogs to SoundCloud in an effort to get a piece of the DJ remix space they'd been missing.

As for the consumer, there's not all that much of an advantage. The free tier provides 125+ million tracks while the SoundCloud Go offers the same plus an "expanded catalog" (no idea what that means), offline listening, and it's ad free.

One of the big problems for consumers is the lack of big names on the platform, or extensive catalog from major label artists, although the platform seems to be adding more content to Go today. Still, the majority of available songs consists of remixes or user uploaded tracks.

SoundCloud has had a major problem with DJ remixes using unlicensed material, and has had to revoke the subscriptions of many of them as a result, which has led to bad blood in the community and mass defections to MixCloud and Dubset. It's going to be difficult to get them back, if for no other reason than from a logistics standpoint of moving a catalog to a new service.

It appears that SoundCloud Go will pay artists according to their market share, which means that the top 1% will continue to enjoy a higher revenue stream regardless of whether they own the copyright of their material or not.

SoundCloud currently has 175 million active users, so even a conversion rate of 5% would make it a player in the streaming space with nearly 9 million subscribers. SoundCloud Go is only available in the U.S. market for now, but will roll out globally later this year.

By the way, you can avoid the extra $3 iOS charge by signing up on your desktop instead of your iPhone.


U.S. One Of 4 Countries That Doesn't Pay Artists For Radio Airplay

Artists Not Paid For Radio Airplay imageRadio is still a big part of an artist's success, but did you know that an artist doesn't get paid for radio airplay in the United States? Songwriters get paid from money collected from broadcasters by ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, but there's no mechanism in place for an artist to get paid for the same airplay.

As an example, the Righteous Brothers "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" is the most played song on the radio ever, with more than 15 million plays since its release in 1964, yet the group never received a dime from all that radio play. The writers (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Phil Spector) got rich, however.

Unbelievably, the U.S. is one of only 4 countries in the world that doesn't pay artists for radio airplay. More unbelievably, the other 3 are North Korea, Iran and China, none of which are exactly known for their artistic freedom or copyright protections.

So what's the problem in the U.S.? Lobbyists, to put it simply. The National Association of Broadcasters is very powerful and contributes to many political campaigns, so they've always managed to quash any legislation that gets introduced to Congress.

The NAB has always threatened that radio and television stations would go bankrupt and be forced to go off the air if legislation was passed mandating them to pay artists for playing their songs, all while the industry was raking in billions of dollars of profits.

Sadly, this situation won't change soon, mostly because radio is in a true downswing (especially AM) with advertisers moving their money away from radio to social media instead (streaming platforms do pay artists for airplay, by the way).

Radio still helps break a song as millions of people continue to listen at work and in their cars, but it's mostly from the top 1% artists or those backed by the major labels. It's irrelevant to young artists and bands since airplay is out of reach.

While the rates seem low, music streaming is an artists friend, since at least you get paid something. Because unless you're the writer, you're not going to see any money from radio airplay. And at least online is a place for a young artist to build an audience, since local radio (once the champion of local music scenes everywhere) barely exists anymore, and many colleges have shed their terrestrial radio stations.

For a deeper look into the subject, check out this article on Medium from CD Baby's CEO Tracy Maddux.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How Gen Z Is Using Social Media

Gen Z is coming of age and they have a whole different take on communication than the generations before. Gen Z is generally defined with birth years ranging from the mid or late 1990s through the early 2010s or starting from the early 2000s.

Gen Z and social media imageA study by the college marketing insights agency Fluent examined the online active of Gen Zers and found a number of interesting points.
  • Facebook is still the top network for many users. 51% use the platform for keeping in touch with high school friends and family, while 39% used it for keeping in touch with college friends. Gen Zers like the fact that the platform keeps on top of new technical trends like messaging and video.
  • Snapchat and Instagram were used to keep in touch with closer friends, particularly at college. 34 and 35% used Snapchat and Instagram several times a day.
  • They spend their time online looking for content rather than social interaction.
  • 24% sample new apps every month.
  • YouTube is a major destination with 80% of respondents.
  • That said, Facebook has become a major video destination as well for 79% of respondents.
  • 32% watched at least 1 hour of video a day, 30% watched 2 hours a day, and 21% watched 3 hours a day.
  • They cannot live without the following brands in order of popularity: Apple, Samsung, Google, Netflix, YouTube.

Notice that Twitter isn't a part of the social mix. This goes to show that pictures and video are a big part of the Gen Z lifestyle, so if you're fan base is in this demographic, this is something to strongly consider in future marketing campaigns.


Monday, March 28, 2016

YouTube Says It Pays Plenty Of Royalties

YouTube still not paying much imageMany fingers are being pointed at YouTube for not contributing much to label and artist bank accounts despite the enormous number of streams it generates.

For instance, YouTube claims that it had 50% of the 317 billion streams last year, yet paid only a fraction of what the paid tier from Spotify paid.

How much? We don't have the exact breakouts, but a combination of YouTube, Soundcloud, and all the ad-supported tiers from all streaming services accounted for $385 million in the U.S. in 2015.

Premium tiers of Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and others amounted to $1.22 billion last year.

While everyone is disgruntled with YouTube for paying such low rates, its response as been that it's paid out over $3 billion dollars to the music industry, which is deceiving in that it's over the services lifetime, not last year.

The fact of the matter is that YouTube is still the go-to service by most people to listen to music, yet it pays the least to artists, songwriters, labels and publishers.

Yet the company has the music industry over a barrel as it holds all the leverage. Whether an artist wants their music there or not, chances are some fan is going to upload it, so it's always going to be available, and the price is still right at free.

Unfortunately, don't expect this dynamic to change soon.


Friday, March 25, 2016

The Official RIAA 2015 Statistics Are Out

The RIAA has released its statistics for 2015 and, as always, there are some surprises. The things to remember about the RIAA is that it works for the record labels (especially the majors), so some stats you have to take with a grain of salt. Here are some of the more noteworthy data points.
  • There was a very slight increase in the recorded music part of the business, with revenues of just over $7 billion, for an increase of 0.09%
  • Streaming accounted for more revenue than any other income stream for the first time, accounting for 34.4% of income, while download sales made up 34%, physical sales were 28.8%, and synch were 2.9% of total revenue.
  • Paid subscription revenue increased 52.3% to $1.22 billion, compared to $800.1 million in 2014, while ad-supported streaming revenue increased 30.6 percent to $385.1 million. All very good news!
  • Revenue from CDs, vinyl and DVDs of albums and singles fell another 10.1 percent to $1.9 billion (although that was less than predicted). CDs fell to $1.521 billion from $1.83 billion the year before based on 123 million CDs that were sold last year, which was down from around 143 million in 2014. 
  • Vinyl sales continued to soar, generating $423 million from 16.9 million album sales and roughly 500,000 singles, an increase of 31.8 percent.
Here's the catch - the RIAA's numbers reflect retail sales, which means that the above numbers don't reflect how much the labels actually received for their music, although wholesale prices are from 65 to 70%.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Branding For Musicians Quick Overview

Branding for Musicians imageLast summer I was a thought-leader at David Cutler's wonderful SAVVY Musician program at the University of South Carolina, which is basically a mini-MBA program for musicians. The program not only teaches you have to think like an entrepreneur, but produce results as well.

Here's a brief branding outline that I gave while there, which explains some of the very basic steps that any musician, engineer, producer, or music exec can do to develop your brand.




Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Twitter Can't Get Young Users

Twitter not for Gen Z imageIf you're an artist or in a band then you're probably on social media to reach your existing fans and to expand your fanbase. There's a problem though, in that it's getting a lot harder to do that, especially with the biggest social platforms available.

This is especially evident with Twitter, which still has 320 million monthly users, but most of those seem to be business, sports and celebrity users or journalists. Gen Z and younger millennials are staying away like the plague.

It seems that, unlike Facebook (which they reluctantly use), younger users really don't have a good reason to use Twitter when other alternatives like Snapchat, Instagram and Kik fulfill their needs in a better way.

Twitter is hard to define and even harder to describe why you need it, but any social network is in trouble if the user doesn't have any friends on it, as is currently the case with Twitter and the Gen Z and millennial crowd.

Brands are beginning to recognize this as well and spending less on the platform, understanding that it probably won't be growing much in the future, and that you're buying current users, not future ones.

That's why it's important that you know exactly where your fans are before you invest your time in a social platform. You only have a limited amount of energy and as a result, can't be everywhere, so go where you can get the most bang for your buck in terms of time invested. If you know that your fans are on Twitter, spend your social capital there, but if more are on Instagram (for instance), that's where you have to be.

Also, be aware of the ebb and flow of social media platforms, because they change every year both in terms of users and features. What works this year might not work next, and vice versa.


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