Thursday, October 30, 2014

TIDAL Starts The Streaming Race To The Top

TIDAL Web player image
While Spotify may be the current king of the hill when it comes to interactive music streaming, and Apple and Google threaten to enter the fray in a big way, a new kid on the block may have changed the game for everyone. This week the Swedish service WiMP launched its new TIDAL service and from here on out, streaming music is not going to be the same.

So what does TIDAL have that the other services don’t already? Real CD quality audio for one, with 44.1kHz/16 bit tracks streamed in either FLAC or ALAC compression formats, depending upon the device you’re listening on. TIDAL is also the first streaming service to be able to stream this level of audio quality to a mobile device, with apps available for both iPhone and Android.

To be fair, you can also get roughly the same sound quality with the new Deezer Elite tier as well, but that only works if you have an Sonos audio playback system available, which means that at least at the moment, it’s not available to the masses.

As good as TIDAL sounds, the downside is that it costs $19.95 a month, which is way outside the comfort zone of most music consumers. For audiophiles, it’s probably a no-brainer, but I don’t think you’ll see the average music lover subscribing given what’s available for a lot less or even free. For some, sound quality is just not that important. Read more on Forbes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The 3 Elements Of An Artist's Online Promotion Strategy

If you're an artist or band it's very easy to be overwhelmed by all the options online. That's why you need a solid strategy to make sure you don't spend more time than is necessary, and really getting the promotional value you want from your online presence. My Social Media Promotion for Musicians book lays out a strategy for this, and here's an excerpt that provides an overview of the 3 elements of online promotion that should bring it all into focus if you have any confusion at all.

"There are a lot of online elements that every artist, band or brand has to be involved in these days in order to be an effective online marketer. It’s pretty easy to get confused and either not know where to begin, or throw yourself scattershot at all of them, which usually means that your efforts will be ineffective when it comes to promotion. If we just look at the major components, it looks something like this:
  • Your website
  • Your email list
  • Facebook and Google+ posts
  • Twitter
  • Music releases
  • YouTube video posts
  • Blog posts
Throw in any of the 100+ additional networks available and it’s no wonder why artists, bands and music execs become bewildered by it all. We can make things a bit simpler by separating these components so they fall into one of three categories; content, interaction and tactics. If we break all this out, it looks like this:

1. Content: the places online where you place the material that you generate, like information about your band, music, videos, or blog posts. Interaction is all the social networks where you might interact with your fans and followers. These include:
  • Your website
  • Your mailing list
  • Your blog
  • Your videos on Youtube and other video sites
  • Your music files on Soundcloud or other music hosting sites
2. Interaction: the places where you regularly communicate with your fans, followers, clients and customers. These include:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Bookmarking
  • Instagram
  • Any other social network
3. Tactics: everything required to define and refine who you are and your position in the online world. These include:
  • Branding
  • Strategy
  • Measurement
All this gets more interesting when we put into the form of a Venn chart as in Figure 2.1 and watch how the categories intersect.

Social Media Presence Venn Chart
Figure 2.1: A Venn chart of your online presence. 

As you can see, where all three category circles cross, a new element pops up - promotion. This isn’t possible without all three elements combined, which goes to show just how synergistic they all are. Use only one or two and you fall short; use all three and new possibilities for promotion arise. That’s not the strategy though, only the general overview."


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Reason Why Opening Acts Lose Money

You've signed you first major label record deal, the new album is about to drop, and now you're scheduled to be the opening act for a major headliner. What could be better? Well, it helps if you actually make some money, but that's usually not the case because touring costs are so high.

How high? This article in Billboard illustrates the costs for an opening, mid-level, and superstar act. An example of the opening act costs from the article is below.

The big takeaway is the final note. If you're not careful, you'll be on the hook to the label for much more than you think.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What Smart People Listen To

Here's an interesting chart the looks at what people listen to based on their college SAT scores. Basically, if you have a really high score than you probably listen to Beethoven, if it's moderately high it's Sufjan Stevens, Counting Crows, U2 and Radiohead. If it's on the low side, then you tend to listen more to hip hop, pop and rock. One of the more surprising parts of the chart is that jazz is pretty low on the "smart scale." We always think of the genre as more cerebral, but the chart doesn't bare that out.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pandora Teases Streaming Subscribers With A New Ad Model

Pandora image
Streaming music platform Pandora has tried a lot of things to both raise its income and increase its subscriber base, but the company is getting especially aggressive with a brand new ad model that promises an hour of ad-free music for just clicking on a banner ad. 

The new ad product, named Sponsored Listening, has a couple of big brands that are eagerly joining in the beta testing, which is initially launching only on Pandora’s mobile app. That’s a shrewd move since about 80% of its users listen on a mobile device, although the company projects a desktop version to come a few months down the line.

So far Fox and Sony Playstation have signed up for the new format, with Fox pushing its shows Gotham and Mulaney, and Sony’s campaign to launch in a few weeks. The ads will only be available to a small group of users targeted by the advertisers for now, but a full rollout to all sponsors and subscribers is expected to begin in latter half of 2015, according to the company.

Pandora currently has around 77 million users but around 3.5 million of those are paying subscribers. A subscriber pays $4.99 per month for ad-free listening, so the Sponsored Listening campaign is a way for more listeners to be exposed to the ad-free environment. For advertisers, not only do they the exposure via the banner ads, but also hope that users will associate the positive Pandora ad-free experience with their brands. Read more on Forbes.


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