Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Puzzle Piece That Apple Really Bought

Jimmy Iovine image
Now that the announcement has been made that Apple’s acquisition of Beats Electronics has been completed for $3 billion, and that Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will join Apple in yet unspecified executives roles, it’s important to take a step back and examine what has really gone down here. There’s much more than meets the eye.

As I alluded to in a previous post, there were just as many reasons for Apple to avoid the Beats deal as there were to make it. That said, just about everyone (myself included until now) has missed the big picture point of the purchase. The deal really isn’t about Beats music service or its headphone business. It’s all about Iovine.

Apple CEO Tim Cook realized that while he may be a great operations guy, he doesn’t have the market vision of his predecessor Steve Jobs (who could?). Music has been responsible for the resurgence and subsequent market rise and dominance of Apple, not so much from a revenue point of view (although the sales from music are substantial), but as means to an end to sell what really makes the company money - its hardware. Apple needs someone who is capable of looking into the future in a way that no one else at Apple has been able to since Jobs passed nearly three years ago.

While it’s too much to expect Iovine to be another Jobs, he has proved to be quite deft at navigating the minefield that is the entertainment industry - enough so to build a substantial billion dollar company in a mere seven years. This was done by seeing a hole in the market (high-end headphones), then recruiting the well-respected hip hop producer Dr. Dre to provide credibility and marketability to an underserved market. He then granted an exclusive manufacturing and distribution license to Monster Cable, a company perfectly suited to instantly provide widespread availability of the product. The distribution deal we terminated at the beginning of 2012, at which time Beats took the manufacturing and distribution in-house. All the hard work of establishing the brand had already been done. Read more on Forbes.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dae Bogan On YouTube Video Optimization

YouTube Optimization image
We all want our videos to be seen by the most people, but many times some basic posting mistakes can sabotage all the effort that's put into producing the video in the first place. Luckily it just takes some thought and a little extra time to optimize your videos so that they're more easily found online.

Dae Bogan has considerable experience in both music and social media marketing, starting out in event production for major brands such as Chipotle, Dell, Blackberry, Virgin Mobile and Def Jam, then as vice-president of marketing for Shiekh shoes and their Shiekh music artists program. His current company, Chazbo Music, provides in-store video music entertainment services by programming custom-curated channels for businesses, music and lifestyle. In this excerpt from my new Music 4.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age (the 3rd and latest edition of my Music 3.0 book), Dae explains some basic strategies for making sure that your video is seen by the most people.

"Today you really have to do optimization for search or it’ll be buried with the other 700 million videos on YouTube at the moment. If I had to give some advice, I’d say song choice is number one. Choose songs [if you're doing a cover song] that are relevant today by using the Billboard charts as a guide. Select a song that’s on the top of the charts today, then post a really good cover, then make sure the video title is appropriate by posting the original artist’s name, the song name, then your name. Make sure it’s tagged with the original artist’s name, the song name, as well as the record label name and anything else about it. If it’s a love song or a pop song, put that descriptive tag in. Sometimes people just search for love songs, so they’ll come across your video that way. Finally, make sure the video description is complete. 

Also at the end of the video there should be all the information about your social media, then ask people to subscribe to your channel. Now with annotations you can also embed links in the video as well. Those are ways to optimize the video so that at least some information is carried along with it. What artists forget is that once someone shares that video that a lot of the meta information that you inserted is lost. The description and the tags don’t come with it and the title isn’t visible. The only thing that you can see is what’s inside the video player, so by using annotations there’s a way to make at least some of the information available to the viewer.

Finally, release it at the right time. YouTube shows in their analytics what time of day is best. Look at when you have the most viewers or followers."

To read additional excerpts from Music 4.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age and my other books, go to the excerpts section of


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

3 Reasons Why Twitter Killed The Soundcloud Deal

Soundcloud logo image
Twitter has been trying hard to get into the music business, but keeps on coming up empty. First there was its ill-conceived #Music service which died on the vine about a year after it was launched due to low adoption numbers, and now the company reportedly has nixed a deal to buy the Berlin-based Soundcloud music streaming service. 

It was only last week that a deal between the two looked imminent, but the Twitter looks to have bowed to pressure from stockholders and the investment community alike, both of which took a dim view of the acquisition.

On one hand, Twitter-Soundcloud looked to be synergistic in may ways. Twitter has a large number of influential music celebrities that use the platform and have extremely large followings, so incorporating some sort of a music service seems like an ideal match. Soundcloud has roughly the same number of active users as Twitter, and any added users (there’s some overlap between the two) could possibly provide a needed boost in Twitter’s plateaued user numbers, which in turn could help it’s slowly dwindling stock price. That’s the theory, but as we well know, reality is frequently a different story, especially in this case. Here are three reasons why Twitter might have chosen not to consummate the deal.

Reason #1: User Attrition

While Soundcloud might look attractive because of its 250 million or so users and $700 million estimated valuation, it has it’s own set of problems. Like Twitter, there’s ongoing user attrition, especially with the DJ community, who are leaving for other services like MixCloud, MixCrate and

One of the reasons is that Soundcloud uses Audible Magic technology to identify unlicensed songs, which then flags Soundcloud, who then issues a take-down notice much like YouTube does in similar cases. Unfortunately Audible Magic, or any other content identification service for that matter, isn’t perfect and many times users are directed to take down their own compositions. No one wants the hassle of having to defend their own material, and the three strikes and your account is cancelled policy forces many users to make the decision to jump to another service. Read more on Forbes.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Was "Stairway To Heaven" Stolen?

Led Zeppelin is being sued for stealing parts of "Stairway To Heaven" from a song by Spirit called "Taurus" more than 44 years after the song was written. The estate of Spirit guitarist Randy California is preparing an injunction ahead of Zep's upcoming Led Zeppelin IV reissue.

All this stems from the fact that Zep opened for Spirit several times during their first tour of the States during which Spirit performed "Taurus" as part of their set, but why wait 40+ years to sue?

If you listen to the Spirit song below you'll hear some similarities to the intro of the song, but it's of a rather generic guitar pattern and nothing of the song's melody. I'd bet that this suit goes nowhere, but it does serve one purpose in that it got us talking about Spirit again, who were a great and very underrated band from way back when.

It's been estimated that "Stairway" has made the group $540 million over the years, so the 36 year old attorney for the plaintiff (who's younger than the song) is obviously hoping for a reasonable out of court settlement. The problem is that Zep obviously has deep pockets and it might not be as easy for that to happen as he believes.

So songwriters beware, there's nothing new under the sun given the 12 note scale that we use, so you're probably copying a previous song without even knowing it. That's enough to get you sued, but it's another story when it comes to actually winning in court.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Skype Releases Its Version Of Hangouts

Skype to Skype call image
If Google+ has a killer feature, its Hangouts, which allows you to connect with up to 9 other people on a video conference call. Connect YouTube to it and now you have a Hangout On Air that can broadcast the conference to thousands more.

Hangouts are a nice feature, but far more people use Skype for their video calls. The problems was that if you wanted a multi-person call it would cost $8.99 per month for a premium subscription.

Skype has now seen the light and has introduced group video calling as part of the free package with anywhere from 3 to 10 participants (just like Hangouts), although Skype recommends a max of 5 for best results. The new feature is available on Windows, Mac and XBox platforms.

Another new and welcome feature is what's called "deep integration" that allows you to seamlessly transfer a voice call over to video chat. The performance of the platform on mobile devices is also said to be improved

Although Hangouts On Air is tough to beat for an artist, band or musician, Skype is definitely making headway with free group calling. You can't beat it for staying in touch while on the road, no matter where in the world you are.


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