Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Top 10 Innovative Music Companies

Fast Company logo graphic from Music 3.0 blog
Fast Company Magazine recently announced what it considered to be the 50 most innovative companies of 2012. Along with those companies it also came up with a top 10 most innovative music companies.

There are a couple of old school companies and some new school companies, and even an artist. I don't know if I agree with their choices, although a few are definitely interesting. Here they are:

  1. Soundcloud - sound sharing platform
  2. Spotify - music streaming
  3. Pandora - personalized online radio
  4. Bjork - artist with world's first app album
  5. XL Recordings - indie label producing mainstream hits
  6. Mason Jar Music - innovative collaborative concert model
  7. Ticketmaster - ticketing giant 
  8. Bandcamp - direct to fan for musicians  
  9. The Echo Nest - open-source music identification  
  10. - social music sharing
It's worth reading the article to see if you agree with their thinking in picking their top 10. Did they miss any?

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Google+ Is A Ghost Town

Google Circles graphic from Music 3.0 blog
If you read this blog a lot you know that I've posted quite a lot on Google+. That's because it seems to be the first serious challenger to Facebook, and of course, it's backed by one of the 800 gorillas of the tech world in Google.

And as I've been reporting, Google+ now has more than 90 million users, which is an astounding number considering that the network only started about 6 months ago.

But the real measure of a site isn't how many users it has, but how engaged those users are, and this is where G+ seems to be very, very lacking. In fact, Web research firm ComScore has recently ascertained that G+ is a virtual ghost town compared to Facebook when it comes to user engagement.

ComScore's research shows that the average user spends only 3 minutes per month on G+, compared with 6 or 7 hours on Facebook, which is an quite a large difference. It seems that even though G+ has some unique features like Hangouts and Circles, they're not enough to get most users to switch from Facebook in a big way. As a result, users of both simply dabble in G+ to see what's there, but still spend most of their time where they're still comfortable, and where most of their friends are, and that's still Facebook.

Now it's hard to say if there will be a migration from Facebook to G+ when FB's new Timeline becomes mandatory, since it seems to be universally disliked at the moment. Let's check back in a couple of months to see.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

EMI vs. Artists: The Big Battle Ahead

EMI logo graphic from Music 3.0 blog
Leave it to a major label to turn something meant to benefit artists into a potential business busting battleground. EMI was once a welcome home to some of the biggest names in the music business (The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Coldplay and Bob Seger to name just a few), but if they continue on their present path they're going to have the mother of all lawsuits on their hands, according to former ceo and industry gadfly Michael Robertson.

It all started a few years back when Congress changed the copyright law so that artists had a chance to reclaim ownership of their works after 35 years (see my previous post on the subject). Obviously there's been a lot of artists who were taken advantage of 35 plus years ago, so beginning in 2013, it was going to be possible for them to get the rights to their songs back and therefore finally collect their fair share of the royalties, thanks to the new law.

But EMI doesn't look like it's about to let that happen says Robertson, declaring that their works were actually a "work for hire," which is a term that basically means "we paid you some money to produce this material for us, and now we own it all and you own nothing." Bottom line, it means that these artists might not only get their rights back, but may not even see another dime in royalties as well.

So who are the artists that EMI is trying to take to the cleaners? Here's a partial list:

Adam Ant
Amy Grant
Asleep At The Wheel
Beastie Boys
Ben Folds Five
Bill Evans
Billy Idol
Bob Seger
Bob Welch
Bonnie Raitt
Boz Scaggs
Crystal Gayle
Daft Punk
Duran Duran
Fats Domino
Frank Sinatra
George Clinton
Herbie Hancock
Iggy Pop
Katy Perry
Keith Urban
Lenny Kravitz
Missing Persons
Norah Jones
Paul McCartney
Pink Floyd
Sammy Hagar
And the list goes on and on.

To say the least, if this is really true EMI is playing not only with fire, but with dynamite, since some of the names on the list are extremely well financed and very prepared to do battle. If nothing else, it should make for an interesting couple of years should they follow through on their plans.

For the full list as well as Michael Robertson's insight into this story, go to Hypebot.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The New Radio

radio tower graphic from Music 3.0 blog
A few years ago I posted an article called "The New Radio" that was an excerpt from the 1st edition of Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age. Here's an update on that post, this time from the 2nd edition of Music 3.0, that focuses more on Internet radio.

"As outlined in Chapter 2, traditional radio has gone from being a cultural juggernaut to almost a media has-been, but new flavors of radio have significantly energized the medium to the point of rebirth. Let’s look at some of the ways today’s radio listeners consumer its product.

Internet Radio
Radio is said to have gone through its own version of M3.0, with Radio 1.0 being the early, startup days of AM, R1.5 being the age of the Top 40 formats of the ’60s and ’70s, R2.0 being the rise of FM, R2.5 being the rise of talk radio, and R3.0 being the era of Internet Radio. You can say that we’ve entered into R3.1 as Internet Radio has matured and now moves into the car.

Internet radio has risen in popularity quickly as a whole new set of online-only virtual stations have appeared along with Internet counterparts of many of of the terrestrial stations as well. In fact, Internet radio has radically changed our listening habits, according to Arbitron/Edison Research, a leader in media opinion and marketing research used by the radio industry. In their Infinite Dial 2010 report, they state:
  • approximately 70 million people a month listen to radio online
  • 52% of all radio listeners have listened to radio online
  • 23% listen to Internet radio while working
  • they listen to Internet radio because of the control and variety to provides
  • Pandora is the clear leader in top-of-the-mind awareness at 28%
The report also has some interesting demographic material as well.
  • the online audience skews 55% male
  • nearly 2/3rd’s of the audience is between the ages of 25 to 54
  • online radio attracts an upscale, well-educated and employed audience, with 55% having a college degree and 61% employed
  • 30% of 12 to 25 year olds are interested in listening to Internet radio in their car or on their cell phones
  • 27% of all listeners are interested in listening to online radio in their car (a point that we’ll cover in depth later)
Most independent Internet radio stations differ from their terrestrial cousins in that they utilize the vertical nature of the Internet to provide very specific targeted programming to their listeners. But while terrestrial stations have a sales staff with a host of customers used to advertising, their independent Internet counterparts require a different business model to survive, as they are relegated to traditional Internet sales support like banner and contextual ads, paid search, and pay per click if they don’t utilize on-air advertising.

Pandora, MOG, Slacker and similar services are successful because they solve the filter problem. You program your own music channel, and your choices are analyzed and some additional recommendations are given. This is the antithesis of traditional broadcasting where the programming choice is made for you via consultants, focus groups, advertiser requirements, or in the class old days, by the DJ himself. It’s also one of the reasons why these services will continue to gain support, as the various services try to outdo one another with better recommendations.

One of the biggest problems for Internet radio is the issue of performance fees, which broadcast radio does not pay (although this might change soon). Currently, an Internet radio station pays on a sliding scale depending on the type of station and number of listeners, but the rates gradually rise each year until 2015, jeopardizing one of the truly great resources to new artists. As the cost of doing business for Internet radio rises, many stations will have to resort to the advertiser-supported model of their terrestrial cousins to survive. This also brings with it the same problems that their terrestrial counterparts now endure, meaning outside pressure on the makeup of their playlist. The bottom line remains that the fan is out of the loop in advertising-supported entertainment, other than their passing interest in something like a chart statistic.

In the end, technology doesn’t change the lessons of broadcast history or the fact that there is always intense competition for advertising dollars. There is very little difference between electronic distribution and broadcasting once you peel away all of the hype."

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Artist Management According To Flo & Eddie

In January the legendary producer and engineer Ken Scott and I gave a guest lecture at Belmont College in Nashville at the behest of professor Mark Volman, who many of you know as one of the main men of the 60's group The Turtles, and latter of their own group Flo & Eddie. Mark and his partner Howard Kaylan had numerous misadventures in the business side of music, some of which are illustrated in the humorous video regarding their many managers. To say the least, kids, don't try this at home.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.


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