Friday, July 17, 2015

Chicago's Cloud Tax Could Affect Your Music

Cloud Tax image
Most large cities claim to be in a money crunch these days and Chicago is no exception. In order to create a new income stream, the city has instituted a "cloud tax" that targets online databases and streaming entertainment services.

This means that you now may be taxed on your entertainment from Spotify, Apple Music, or Netflix at a rate of 9%. If you're currently paying $100 a year for a service, it will now cost you $109 if you live in Chicago.

But how can this happen, since none of those services are based in Chicago and for the most part are global entities? The cloud tax is actually comprised of two taxes - one covering "electronically delivered amusements" and the other covers remote computing databases and platforms that are aimed at those consuming the media, not providing or distributing it.

Some ISPs are already implementing collections of the tax, but that may also make them eventually leave the city limits to keep the bookkeeping costs down and their customers happier.

Many attorneys are gearing up for a fight as well, claiming that the tax violates both the Federal Communications Act and the Tax Freedom Act as it discriminates against services delivered on the Internet.

Of course, with people reluctant to pay for a subscription music service already, adding even a few dollars more could be a deal breaker.

Here's hoping that the cloud tax doesn't catch on beyond Chicago, since before you know it we'll all feel the pain as the local taxes pile up on our Internet use.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Why Would Facebook Start A New Music Service?

Facebook Music image
Don't look now but Facebook has been in talks with the major labels and many believe that's because the company is seriously considering launching a music service to compete with Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, etc.

One advantage for Facebook is that, unlike Spotify and Pandora, it wouldn't have to rely on the income from music to keep the lights on. Of course this is a strength of both Apple and Google.

That said, there's another more likely scenario at play.

Facebook has recently dedicated itself to making video a bigger part of the service, providing better engagement and ad rates than YouTube to start the ball rolling. While major brands have tried Facebook videos with some success, the platform is still having trouble getting smaller brands and page owners to post.

The most watched content on YouTube is music, so by just getting the official music videos of stars and superstars on the platform, Facebook believes it can make some giant strides in taking a chunk of viewership from YouTube, and hopefully prime the pump for more user generated content.

Reportedly a pilot program to post some music video trials will launch as soon as the licensing deals have been sewn up.

The ad revenue split is supposed to be identical to YouTube, with 45% going to the rights holder (in this case, the major labels) and 55% going to Facebook.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

7 Tips For Tweeting A Live Event

Twitter event tips image
Adweek recently ran a great post about tips for Tweeting a live event. They were thinking more about a business conference than a gig, but many of the tips apply to a live show anyway. Here they are, but with a music spin.

1. Use the right hashtag(s). If you have a following that regularly attends your gigs, start your own hashtag that you can consistently use. Something like #(yourband)live could work. Also find out if the venue has a hashtag and include that as well.

2. Let your followers know. If there's going to be a flurry of activity in a short period of time, let your followers know beforehand. No one likes their feed dominated by one poster, but at least they can tune you out if they're not interested if they know its coming.

3. Be interesting. Try to give a unique perspective that only you can give. What's the venue like? Did you meet anyone interesting (give them a  shoutout)? Is there a meet and greet or something happening preshow or aftershow?

4. Retweet others. If there are others tweeting about the gig, retweet them as well.

5. Take pictures. Tweets are a lot more interesting when a picture is included and the engagement is increased as well.

6. Follow other tweeters. This includes the promoters, venue and other bands on the bill.

7. Use Vine and Periscope. Twitter is more than just text, so don't forget to share a video about meeting a fan, what's happening backstage, from the stage, etc.

Twitter is especially cool for communicating at events, and that's the perfect time to engage your fans. Follow these tips and you'll keep everyone happy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The BBC Will No Longer Play The Classic Rockers

MCPS logo image
In the wacky world of music copyrights, what's normal and useful in one country may not extend to another country that has a whole different set of copyright laws. The result can mean it's difficult for even classic superstar acts to get paid or played.

Such is the case with Neil Young, The Doors, Journey and Bonnie Raitt, who have all withdrawn from Britain's Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) over the terms of its licensing agreement. As a result, the BBC has announced that it will no longer player their music, because there is no way to properly pay them.

The MCPS is like the UK's version of ASCAP or BMI in that it collects royalties for radio performances in that country.

The fact of the matter is that the BBC really doesn't play these artists all that much anyway, but it might disrupt a few newer artists who happen to use a sample from their records.

The BBC also took a long time to make this decision in that Young had bowed out from the association way back in 2002, The Doors in 2006, and Journey in 2013.

The lesson here is to make sure that you have your international licensing deals sorted out, especially in these days of streaming, because you might be missing out of royalties from airplay that you're not aware of, or not being played at all because you're not part of the system.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Composer-Producer Rob Arbitier On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

This week I'm please to have composer, producer and music technologist Rob Arbitier on my Inner Circle Podcast.

Rob is not only one of my compadres from the AudioNowcast, but he's been Stevie Wonder's technology guy for 30 years, as well as a composer/producer for commercials, movie trailers and albums.

Rob tells a great story about how he got started started with Stevie, then shares his vision about the future of audio hardware and software on the podcast.

In the intro I'll describe how a lawsuit from American Idol's record label 19 Recording against Sony looks to challenge the major label's equity interest in Spotify, and the importance of the studio headphone mix and some tips on getting a great one.

Remember that you can find the podcast at, or either on iTunes or Stitcher.

Everything You Need To Know About Hashtags

Here's a great infographic from about Twitter hashtags. I've posted a lot about them here in the past, and this graphic reinforces that info.

Pay attention to the bottom right hand corner - the Where To Find Popular Hashtag section. It has some great suggestions about where to find find the right hashtags for your content (remember that what you post doesn't always have to use #musicians, #music, #studio, etc.).


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