Friday, October 23, 2015

YouTube Red May Not Be Attractive To The Exact Audience It Seeks

YouTube Red image
YouTube finally announced its new subscription service today, and although the new Red service is somewhat different than last year’s beta test of Music Key, the basic concept still holds true - you now have the option to pay for something that’s widely available for free.

YouTube Red is slated to launch on October 28th, and will bring ad-free viewing at a cost of $9.99 with a free one month trial period. Red will only be available in the US at first, with a world-wide rollout to come in early 2016.

Getting people to pay for something that they’ve been trained to get for free may not be easy though, if my small sampling is any indication.

During a presentation I gave to a class of about 40 college students yesterday, I asked them how they consumed their music. Just about all of them said via YouTube and Soundcloud (Spotify and Apple Music had only one student subscriber each). 

When asked how many would pay if it were ad-free, the group erupted into laughter and indicated with a no-doubt-about-it “no” that they wouldn’t consider paying for the privilege anytime soon (to be fair, one student did say that she might consider it).

If that’s any indication of the widespread feeling of the age group, then Red may not be much of a player with the exact demographic that it’s aimed at, at least when it comes to music. Read more on Forbes.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

3 Steps To Creating The Perfect Custom Thumbnail For Your Videos

Custom Thumbnail image
It's surprising how influential the thumbnail graphic is when it comes to getting people to click on your video. That's why it's much better to choose your own thumbnail when uploading to YouTube or Vimeo, rather than letting the service pick one for you.

Here's an excerpt from my Social Media Promotion For Musicians book that explains how to create the perfect thumbnail image in three steps.

"One of the easiest ways to get more views is by having an appealing thumbnail image. 

When you upload a video, YouTube usually selects three screen grabs from which you can select the thumbnail. The problem is that it’s likely that none of these provide an image that instantly tells the potential viewer much about your video. 

A customized image can now be used as the thumbnail instead of the selections made by YouTube or Vimeo. Here’s what to do:

1. Find the perfect still shot. Search through your original video (the one you had before you uploaded it to YouTube) until you find that one shot that perfectly describes what the video is all about. This might be an action shot, or it could be a close-up of a face or product, or it could be anything that grabs the viewer’s attention. Whatever it is, make sure that it’s relevant to the video. When you’ve found it, export it as a jpeg or PNG image, or even take a screen grab.

2. Add text. Use an image editor like Photoshop, Pixelmator or GIMP to add text to identify the video. Make sure that the text is large enough to read easily on a small screen found on a smartphone. The file size should be less than 2MB.

3. Click on the Custom Thumbnail icon and upload. This can be found on the Info and Settings page, which is accessible from the first icon (the first one) at the bottom of the video viewer. Viewers will now see your custom thumbnail."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Where Are People Buying Their Music?

There's still a lot of physical music product being sold despite what you might read, but the places that people are buying it is changing.

According to Soundscan, retail stores are selling less and less, but some of the slack is being taken up by non-traditional retailers like Amazon, which grew 8%.

Retail chains, mass merchants like Wal Mart, dowload stores, and mom & pop stores all saw their sales decrease last quarter.

Overall, CD sales are down 10%, but still sold a healthy 82.6 million, and vinyl sales still continue to surge, up 32% to 8 million sales.

Physical product is far from dead, but it's certainly decreasing at a rapid rate.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Future-Proof Your Album Artwork

Display sizes
While it can be debated just how important hi-res audio is (or even if consumers can hear the difference), one thing that's instantly noticeable is the resolution of album artwork.

Thanks to the increasing number of pixels that displays are using these days, an 800 x 800 pixel graphic is no longer enough. Today's album graphics have to be optimized for both 5 inch and 55 inch screens alike. Tomorrow's graphics need to be formatted for the new 4k displays that seem to be popping up everywhere.

As an example, that 800 pixel graphic would take up about half the screen area on an old 1,440 x 900 Macbook or iMac screen, but on a 4k display (which is 4,096 x 2,160) it takes up only around 8% of the area.

One of the big problems here is that most DIYers don't have the ability to design or check their graphics in 4k, which gives the major labels a significant advantage, at least at the moment.

So what should you do to future-proof your digital artwork?

It's actually not that difficult. Create those graphics at a resolution that fits the 4k display, or 4,096 x 4,096 pixels to begin with.

The reason why is that if you're releasing vinyl, the required artwork for a 12 inch record sleeve at 300 dots per square inch is 3,600 pixels already, so it's not much of a leap up to 4,096.

In any case, it's time to start thinking about creating artwork and graphics for 4k displays. Don't let the major labels get the jump on you.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mixcloud Co-Founder Nico Perez On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Mixcloud co-founder Nico Perez
Everybody knows streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, but there's another very interesting service out there that fills a niche that the others overlook.

I'm talking about Mixcloud, a streaming service that specializes in radio broadcasts, DJ mixes, and podcasts.

I'm very pleased to have Mixcloud co-founder Nico Perez on this week's podcast to discuss a little bit about what's cool with the service and how it came about.

In the intro I'll give an overview of Aurous, and why this new streaming service is terrifying to the major labels. I'll also take a look at the 10 songs that define America, according to the US State Department.

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

Amazon Prime Coming On Strong As A Streaming Service

Amazon Prime Music

Means More Revenue For Artists And Songwriters

I've been saying for months to watch out for Amazon's music streaming service, and now there's some data to back that up.

According to a report by market-research firm Parks Associates that was sited in Billboard, 66% of the 97 million U.S. households with broadband connections listen to a streaming audio service. 40% of them use a free service, while 26% listen to a paid streaming service.

Here's where the data gets interesting. Amazon Prime Music has the lead with about 10% of those households that subscribe to a paid service, followed by Pandora One at 6%, Spotify Premium at 4%, SiriusXM Streaming at 4%, iTunes Match at 2% and Google Play Music at 2%.

Amazon Prime has an estimated 40 million domestic subscribers, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, although some figures reach as high as 90 million. Whatever the number, it's large and now it appears that many of those customers are beginning to discover the value of Prime Music, which is part of the Prime subscription.

Amazon Prime has been completely under the radar when it comes to the streaming music wars, but shouldn't be underestimated. Amazon's a huge company with deep pockets, and ultimately may be the only company that can ultimately take on Apple, Google and maybe Spotify.

The one downside to Prime Music is that it's catalog is relatively small at 1 million or so (most other services are 25 million plus), and doesn't have the latest hits. That may not be a factor as the customers using it may not ultimately care.

The point is that Amazon Prime is becoming another viable revenue stream when it comes to streaming music.


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