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.


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