Thursday, December 18, 2014

What We Can Learn From The Top 20 Streamed Artists Of 2014

Streaming Music image
One of the ways that streaming music differs from radio is that it's so democratic. You listen to what you want to, so any streaming chart or list better reflects the musical tastes of the listeners.

Soundexchange put together a list of the 20 most streamed artists in 2014 based on royalties it has collected, and it will surprise you. The list shows a variety of new and classic artists, as well as a cross-section of genres. Here it goes:
  1. Drake
  2. Pearl Jam
  3. Rihanna
  4. Katy Perry
  5. Bruce Springsteen
  6. Lil Wayne
  7. Luke Bryan
  8. Imagine Dragons
  9. Eminem
  10. Pink Floyd
  11. Usher
  12. Maroon 5
  13. Jason Aldean
  14. Bruno Mars
  15. One Republic
  16. Lorde
  17. Chris Brown
  18. Tim McGraw
  19. Beyonce
  20. Taylor Swift
And the top 5 streamed tracks of 2014?
  1. "Counting Stars" - One Republic
  2. "Dark Horse" - Katy Perry
  3. "Demons" - Imagine Dragons
  4. "Royals" - Lorde
  5. "Happy" - Pharrell Williams
The Billboard charts have always been skewed towards pop music because they were based on radio airplay, which has a very limited playlist that gets even more so every year. That said, streaming is a much better way to see what people actually listen to, and the analytics are far more accurate than the surveys traditionally used to determine radio airplay.

I think you'll see a much better reflection of music consumers tastes in the coming years, which could very well influence the music available, as record labels follow the analytics.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Highest Paid Musicians Of 2014

When it comes to making money, it sure helps if a musician has another source of revenue besides royalties, touring, merch sales and licensing.

Take the case of Dr. Dre, who made more money than any musician in history last year on the basis of his interest in Beats Electronics, which was purchased by Apple for $3 billion. As a result, Dre comes in at #1 of the highest paid musicians with $620 million, according to the following chart by Statista.

Some familiar faces fill out the rest of the top 10, but relative newcomers Justin Bieber, One Direction, Calvin Harris and Toby Keith all had banner years.

Notice who's not on the chart - Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry, among other current stars.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Skinny Puppy Sues The US Government For Torture Songs

Skinny Puppy torture image
Skinny Puppy
When the spooks at the CIA were interrogating their terrorist captives at the prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba in 2002, one of their techniques was to play songs at a very high volume from the industrial band Skinny Puppy for 6 to 12 hours straight.

Tipped off by a prison guard who happened to be a fan, the band is now suing the US Department of Defense for $666,000 (an interesting amount) for the unlicensed use of their songs.

Having your songs used as a torture device isn't exactly a badge of honor for any artist, and the band can't even be faulted for being "un-American" since they're from Canada, but the suit probably has more value for its promotional merits than its legal ones. Since the band's CD was played in a private setting by the owner (presumably the CIA) of the CD, you can't call it a public performance, so the suit most likely has no legal basis. That said, there may be some legal precedent that we're unaware of, so you never know how a judge might rule, or even if the DoD might settle to make the whole thing go away.

You still have to wonder if 12 hours of very loud Bon Jovi, Britney Spears, or Iggy Azalia might have the same effect though. Thankfully, most of us will never know.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Universal Music Group Using Big Data For Big Decisions

big data image
For most of its lifetime, the music business was run on the gut instincts of its executives in everything from artist signings, which songs to release as singles, marketing, promotion, and just about everything else.

The major labels of today and their precursors were built on these decisions, but we live in the age of Music 4.0, where just about any decision can be a lot more precise and pragmatic, thanks to the influx of data on just about every aspect of the business, and that's exactly how Universal Music Group is going about things, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

The company is using a new software tool that was built in-house called Artist Portal to help its execs make smarter marketing decisions. The app allows a user to track everything from artists sales, music streams, airplay and social media buzz happening globally and in real time, then overlay sets of data that include television appearances, concert dates, commercials featuring an artist's songs, social media posts and promotional events. This allows the company to be able to better analyze sales and interest spikes, which in turn helps it to better allocate marketing funds as needed.

Something that's a bit more insidious is that upper level label management can also track how much each Universal employee uses the app, which could play into future staffing decisions, which seems to take the gut instinct out of the picture entirely, which at least some is needed when it comes to creating, selling and creating art. That said, the tool is proving a big help in a variety of ways, with one major example being that its data used as a help to show promoters in Finland that there was indeed an audience for the label's hip hop acts in that country.

UMG isn't the only major label to employee a big data app though, as both Warner Music Group and Sony Music are also developing their own versions of Artist Portal. In fact, Sony now has 25 people on its analytics team, showing its deep commitment to the concept.

I equate this to baseball in that it took the sport a long time to begin to use precision metrics to help executives get a better picture before they made their biggest decisions. It took the music business a long time to come to the same party, but big data is now becoming a major part of the way a major label does business.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Top 10 Highest Grossing Concerts Of 2014

The results are in and the highest grossing concerts from this year will astound you. The following chart from Billboard shows that some music acts are making some serious money on the road. Keep in mind that the chart isn't for an entire tour - it's only for 1 show!

The One Direction/5 Seconds Of Summer tour was obviously a blockbuster, capturing 5 slots of the top 10, including the single highest attendance with 236,566 at London's Wembley Stadium, but The Stones were the highest grossers, capturing almost $28 million for a single date at the Tokyo Dome.

All that said, actual total concert attendance was actually down a little over 1% in 2014, but people paid more money than ever, as the concert industry made nearly 20 billion worldwide - a record.

Highest Grossing Concerts 2014 image


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