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Fake artists still dominate Spotify ‘chill’ playlists

To refresh your memory: last summer, Music Business Worldwide extensively reported on reams of artists on Spotify who weren’t quite what they seemed. The article can be read HERE

They were, in a very obvious sense, fake – pseudonyms created by songwriters and performers who, for some reason, didn’t wish to be identified on Spotify’s platform.
Draw your own conclusions from what Music Business Worldwide discovered:

  • Spotify was playlisting every one of these tracks in key first-party lists such as Peaceful Piano (4.6m current followers), Deep Focus (2.8m), Sleep (2.8m), Music For Concentration (932k) and Ambient Chill (756k). We literally couldn’t find one track amongst them that hadn’t been playlisted by Spotify. As a result, these songs were each racking up hundreds of thousands or, in many cases, millions of streams. They exclusively appeared on Spotify and were nowhere to be found on other streaming services.
  • Spotify pays out to labels and artists each month on a pro rata basis – ie. each rights-holder gets paid in line with their individual percentage of Spotify’s total stream volume. By racking up millions upon millions of streams, these ‘fake artists’ were claiming a significant, if small, percentage of these royalties.
  • Stockholm-based production music house Epidemic Sound later admitted that its composers were behind the ‘fake artists’ – although its CEO, Oscar Höglund, objected to the term. He argued that the reason all (literally all!) of these tracks were being playlisted by Spotify was simply because they were “of a very high quality”.
  • The suspicion amongst many senior music industry sources contacted by MBW was that Spotify was licensing these tracks from Epidemic Sound at a lower monetary rate than its typical deals with the major labels and Merlin. If true, this would have seen Spotify retain more money out of each month’s pro rata pot. In other words, it would have meant Spotify was improving its gross margin directly at the expense of labels and ‘non-fake’ artists.
  • According to streaming analytics site ChartMetric, the biggest losers in all of this were non-fake ambient/electronic composers. For example, in February 2017, Spotify swapped out 16 tracks on its Ambient Chill playlist by the likes of Brian Eno, Jon Hopkins and Bibio for 28 songs connected to Epidemic Sound.

Things haven’t gotten any better for the major labels: judging by ChartMetric stats analysed by MBW, over 90% of the tracks on Ambient Chill today (August 2) are under the names of fake artists.
ChartMetric data suggests that only one major label – Universal Music Group – has a presence on the playlist, with just two tracks out of 71, equivalent to a 2.8% share.

It’s the same story on Sleep, where UMG and Sony can claim only one track each out of 50 songs. And on Music For Concentration, amongst 80 tracks, Universal owns two while Warner and Sony have one each.

But today, Universal, not to mention real ambient/electronic artists, appear to be fighting back. And they’re doing so exclusively with Apple Music.
UMG has just announced what it’s calling ‘the first playlist brand to be co-created by Universal Music Group in conjunction with Apple Music… and artist ambassadors’. In other words, it’s not quite a third-party playlist, and it’s not quite a first-party playlist – it’s somewhere in between.

The skinny: Peaceful Music will be a collection of contemporary and calming music ‘specially curated by today’s leading composers and superstar artists of the genre’. Revered modern composer Max Richter will be the first artist ambassador to preside over Peaceful Music, ‘making expert selections to provide listeners moments of calm and inner focus’.

Universal says that more ‘legendary and exciting names’ are due to ‘join the movement’ by curating/presenting the playlist in future. Presumably, they will all be real human beings.

Max Richter said: “The Peaceful Music playlist ranges widely but all the track selections share a common fingerprint – they don’t flood your consciousness and leave enough space for you to think. It’s like a landscape that enables the listener to find a place to rest and reflect.”

Check out why he’s doing it in the video below.

Apple Music does already boast some ‘chill’ playlists of its own, including its sixth biggest playlist, Today’s Chill, the more dance-influenced Chill House (which, according to ChartMetric, is currently Apple’s 60th most popular playlist) and Piano Chill (at No.64).

It will be interesting to see where Peaceful Music lands amongst this list – and whether the front-and-center presence of bona fide artists makes a difference to its popularity. Apple Music recently overtook Spotify’s subscriber base in North America. According to MBW’s calculations, both services now have comfortably more than 25m subscribers each across the US and Canada.


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EU Copyright proposals expected to help music industry fight piracy

When the EU last overhauled its copyright rules, back in 2001, the German newspaper Bild was selling more than 4m copies a day, music lovers were buying 2.4bn CDs a year, and recently revived computer maker Apple had just brought out something called an iPod.

The abundance of free tunes uploaded to the internet each day has been making it hard for the music industry to sell versions of the same songs. But while a lot has changed since then, the rules have stayed the same — which is why, this week, Brussels will try to bring them up to date. The European Union’s executive branch this week is expected to propose a broad package of copyright reforms that, among other things, would help musicians and their record companies earn more by making streaming services such as YouTube beef up their ability to fight piracy.

As part of the copyright protections, the EU also is expected to propose granting news organizations new rights to demand licenses for the posting of even snippets of their articles for 20 years, a move to help publishers negotiate compensation from news aggregators such as Google.

The European Commission’s proposals, which come after a three-year review aimed at updating copyright law for the digital age, could take years to ratify. The proposals have been—and are likely to remain—the subject of heavy lobbying from copyright holders like record labels and newspaper publishers on one hand, and technology firms on the other.

Tech companies say the proposals could threaten smaller companies that don’t have the resources to build beefed-up copyright protection systems that would automatically block or remove violations and discourage the sharing of news content from European publishers.

Music executives say the reforms are a step in the right direction. Music executives have lauded the fact that early drafts of the proposal acknowledged the widening “value gap” between the amount of music consumption and the amount of revenue it generates. Over the past few years, sites offering protected content uploaded by fans “have flourished and have become main sources of access to content online,” reads a recent draft of the proposals, adding that this affects creators’ ability “to get an appropriate remuneration for it.”

Drafts of the proposals call for online services to protect copyrighted recordings and songs that their users may have uploaded with measures that aren’t required under current law either in Europe or in the U.S., unless they receive complaints. The proposals also require services to be more transparent about their data and technology, people familiar with the matter said.

EU takes a swipe at YouTube's safe harbour.
EU takes a swipe at YouTube’s safe harbour.

The potential reforms underscore the conflicted relationship that the music industry has with YouTube, which has more than 1 billion monthly users. YouTube has licensing agreements that allow record labels to automatically monetize, block or mute their tunes in user-uploaded content with a high degree of accuracy through its “Content ID” system. YouTube spent $60 million to build the system. But while the overall amount that YouTube pays out to music creators has been increasing, the amount that labels and artists get per stream on user-uploaded videos has been declining. Record labels also lament having to employ teams to search for and remove their songs that they have tried to block automatically from the site but that have nonetheless escaped the Content ID system, which can happen when users manipulate the audio files.

The music industry—which has barely grown in recent years after shedding 60% of its value since 2000—has been lobbying for similar reforms in the U.S., where lawmakers have also been conducting a yearslong review of copyright law. In particular the music industry has been seeking to change the part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that shields host sites from liability when their users upload content without an explicit license to do so. Tech companies are fighting to preserve that so-called “safe harbor” protection, which they say has underpinned the sector’s rise.

Given Silicon Valley’s enormous economic clout in the U.S., label executives think European lawmakers are more likely to enact such a change. In April, the music industry cheered when EU’s digital chief Andrus Ansip said in public comments that change was needed to create “a level playing field between different service providers.”

Whether YouTube’s free site is directly competing with paid services such as Apple Music and Spotify is a matter of debate. According to a YouTube spokeswoman, “users come to YouTube to watch all kinds of different videos. The average YouTube user spends an average of an hour a month consuming music, far less than music-only platforms.” Meanwhile, she added, less than 20% of all music views on YouTube result from a user searching for a specific artist or song. “The vast majority of music discovery and consumption is through songs recommended through YouTube’s algorithms,” she said.

Data from recording industry trade group International Federation of the Phonographic Industry released on Tuesday paints a different picture. According to a recent survey of internet users, YouTube is the most-used music service, with 93% of 16- to 24-year-old YouTube users visiting for music and 80% of the site’s music users listening to songs they already know.


Via: Forbes

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Deezer is now majority owned by Warner Music’s parent company

Access Industries, the multivalent business owned by billionaire and former oligarch Len Blavatnik and the parent company to the Warner Music Group, now has control of its own streaming service: Deezer.

Sources close to Access told MBW that its 50%+ ownership of Deezer was a mechanical result of its investment in January. Len Blavatnik’s company is said to have no plans to make any changes amongst Deezer’s management. Although Deezer is now majority owned by US-based Access, the streaming firm’s HQ will remain in Paris.


This was the second time that Access had invested in the Spotify rival; it joined together with Idinvest to raise an initial €100m investment into the firm back in October 2012. Information regarding Access’s percentage stake in Deezer is redacted, but ElectronLibre suggests that Access now owns in excess of 50% in Deezer, with Orange taking a 10% stake.

Access’s control of Deezer may raise alarm bells amongst Universal, Sony and the indies – who will point out that Access is also the 100% owner of Warner Music Group, which it bought for $3.3bn in 2011. The French competition authorities acknowledged this in their decision, pointing out the ‘vertical link’ between Access, Deezer and Warner.

The report admitted that this ‘vertical link’ had the potential to restrict competition ‘potentially crowding out competitors or penalizing them by increasing their costs’. However, it said the risk of anti-competitive behavior was significantly lowered due to Warner’s market share in key territories being lower than 30%.

Within the European Economic Area (EEA), the authorities estimated that Warner’s recorded music market share stood at 10-20%, with Universal on 30%-40% and Sony plus the independents on 20%-30% apiece. They also estimated that Deezer held a 0%-5% market share of total digital music revenues across the EEA, with both Spotify and iTunes (Apple) on 40%-50% each.

However, Deezer was estimated to hold a 40%-50% market share of streaming music value in France alone, with Spotify on 20%-30%.


Via: MBW

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How Record Labels and Indie Artists can fix their Youtube woes

As the music industry vs. YouTube battle rages on, Mark Mulligan suggests that the real underlying issue is that the four minute music video, while it worked well for MTV, is no longer fitted to YouTube, and that artists need to begin creating lengthier videos, both to maintain user interest and multiply their ad revenue.

The 4 minute pop video was a product of the MTV broadcast era and still worked well enough when online video was all about short clips. But something has changed, as has short form video (in its new homes Snapchat, and Vine). Short videos are no longer the beating heart of YouTube viewing and quite simply they don’t make the money anymore. This is why music videos represent 30% of YouTube plays but just 12% of YouTube time. If record labels, publishers, performers and songwriters want to make YouTube pay, they need to learn how to play by the rules of Youtube. And to do that they need work out what to do with ‘15’.

The recorded music industry gets radio, and it is beginning to get streaming. Both are all about plays. Each play has, or should have, an intrinsic value. They are models with some degree of predictability. But YouTube does not work that way, which is why the whole per stream comparison thing just does not add up. In MIDiA’s latest report ‘The State Of The YouTube Music Economy’ — revealed that YouTube’s effective per stream rates (that is rights holder revenue divided by streams) halved from $0.0020 in 2014 to $0.0010 in 2015.

Youtube Music Monetization. IMG: Midia Research.
IMG: Midia Research.

There is no way to spin it into a good news story. However, it didn’t fall because of some nefarious Google ploy. It fell because of many complex reasons but the 2 biggest macro causes were:

YouTube pays out as a share of ad revenue (55%) not on a per stream basis. So when the value of its ad inventory goes down (due to factors such as more views coming from emerging markets with weaker ad markets) the revenue per stream goes down too. This is something the labels can do little about, though an increased revenue share will soften the blow as YouTube globalizes.

YouTube serves its in-stream video ads (the most value ad format) on a time-spent basis, not on a per-video basis. The research found that the average number of video ads per hour of viewing comes out at about 4. That means if the artists have 15 minute videos (like many YouTubers do) they’ll get a video ad every play. But if they have 3 or 4 minute pop videos they may only get 1 video ad for every 4 or 5 plays. Which means 4 or 5 times less video ad revenue. The research also revealed that just 26% of music video views have video ads.

The 15 Scale
Right now music video sits in the same 3-4 minute slot it has done so ever since MTV said it wanted videos that length. Yet video consumption is now polarized between the 15 second clip on lip synch apps like and Dubsmash and 15 minute YouTuber clips. Falling in between these two ends is revenue no-mans land.

At the opposite end of the 15 scale labels and artists need to start thinking about what 15 minute formats they can make. Think of this as a blank canvas – the possibilities are limitless. For example:

  • 3 track ‘EP’ videos interspersed with artist narrative and reportage coverage
  • Live sessions (recorded by, and uploaded by labels so they get revenue as well as publishers)
  • Mini-documentaries such as ‘the making of’s
  • On-the-road features


Via: ICYMAG. For more details on this topic, please visit Mark Mulligan’s blog HERE.

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Soundcloud bracing for HUGE Copyright Infringement lawsuits

Grooveshark said it wouldn’t happen to them, either. But according to multiple executives close to the situation, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) will soon be filing lawsuits against SoundCloud for ‘massive copyright infringement’.

The move comes ahead of an anticipated premium subscription launch… or not. “They don’t like SoundCloud’s attitude, they don’t like the pace of the talks,” one source flatly told DMN, with particular reference to SoundCloud’s CEO, Alexander Ljung.

“I’m not saying this is another ‘legal jihad,’ but lawsuits will be filed.”

And what is SoundCloud’s ‘tude, exactly? One issue is Ljung’s insistence on maintaining a free tier, similar to the ‘freemium funnel’ created by Spotify. “There are 3 billion people online, you’re never going to all get those into subscription, it’s just not going happen,” Ljung flatly stated recently at Midem. “Some people will come through ads, some through subscription.”

“That’s why I’m choosing to have both.”
But from the standpoint of mega-labels like UMG, that’s not necessarily his choice to make. And neither are the terms of their contracts.

Meanwhile, uploading DJs are finding their content blocked based on stepped-up copyright claims from companies like Sony, a situation that spells more than inconvenience. “The DJs are getting strikes for infringement, and that’s affecting their accounts,” one source noted. “They’re trying to avoid that and thinking about other places to upload.”
At this point, it’s unclear where indie labels, including consortia A2IM and Merlin, will land in the matter.

The news comes just as indie label consortium Merlin has inked a significant deal with SoundCloud, a pact the ushers in potentially 20,000 label participants. “I’m excited to announce our largest independent label partnership to date with Merlin, the global rights agency for the independent label sector,” Ljung said.


Sounds positive, though it’s not clear that Merlin signed a solid deal. After all, this is the same consortium that signed a deal with Grooveshark, essentially validating the company right to the bitter end.

But wait: isn’t SoundCloud already signing major label deals? Well, they have signed one deal with Warner Music Group, but that deal is already being written off as a “special case one-off” scenario driven by SoundCloud SVP of Business Development and Strategy Stephen Bryan, who recently worked at Warner Music Group. That deal handed WMG a 5 percent share, which apparently just isn’t good enough.


Source: Digital Music News

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North American Electronic Music Industry Worth $1.9 Billion

A new business report presented at IMS Engage this week found that the North American electronic music industry is worth approximately $1.9 billion.

Accounting for revenue drawn from music sales and streams, festival and club income, and other sources including platforms like DJ technology sales, the figure represents approximately 30 percent of the estimated global industry value of $6.2 billion.

Authored by Kevin Watson of Danceonomics, the study draws upon numerous reports to provide a comprehensive overview of the dance industry’s rising music consumption, DJ fees and social media followings, and live event revenue.

Analyzing Nielsen data, the study found that dance track sales equaled an all-time high of 4.6 percent share in 2014, representing a 1.5x increase from its 2011 level. The report also found that dance music represents the fourth most popular genre for North American streams after R&B/hip-hop, rock and pop, accounting for 7 percent of all US streaming and 10 percent of Canadian.

The report cites an Eventbrite study which found that electronic music events account for a quarter of all nightlife tickets sold in the US. Further, the twelve largest US electronic music clubs, including the likes of XS, Hakkasan, Marquee and LIV, accounted for more than half a billion dollars in revenue in 2014.

While US festival growth held steady at a 1.4 million capacity point with Ultra Music Festival switching back to one weekend, Canada now accounts for a 400,000 capacity point. Cited research suggests that US electronic music fans are 13 percent more likely than average to attend a festival.

 Source : Billboard, IMS, Kevin Watson.

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The 10 Richest Songs Of All Time

If you want to make a ton of money in the music industry, you need to learn how to write a song. Actually it’s not enough to write just any song, you need to write a HIT song. Earlier this week we wrote an article about whether or not it’s possible to retire off the royalties from one song like Hugh Grant’s character in the movie “About A Boy”. We concluded that not only was it possible, but if you manage to write a song that has longevity, you can retire with a bloody fortune. In that same article, we listed the 10 “richest” songs of all time. These songs have produced enough money through royalties, endorsements and other streams of income to make the song writers (and their heirs) extremely wealthy. The list was so interesting that we decided it deserved it’s own article with more details.

If you’re interested in making a lot of money off songwriting, remember these three tricks:

1) Write a Christmas song.

2) Write a timeless love song.

3) Get your song featured in a movie.

And if you really want to hit the jackpot, write a Christmas love song that gets featured in a movie! So without further delay, let’s take a look at the 10 richest songs of all time:

The 10 Richest Songs Of All Time:

10. Mel Torme – “The Christmas Song” (1944). Estimated earnings: $19 million.

You probably know this song by its opening line “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”. Ironically, Torme is Jewish and wrote the music and the song in under 45 minutes during a blistering hot Chicago summer. He was just 19 years old. The song has since been covered by hundreds of huge artists including Michael Buble, Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, NSYNC and many more. Despite having written more than 250 songs during his career, “The Christmas Song” was by far Mel’s biggest financial success. He often referred to it as “my annuity”.

9. Roy Orbison & Bill Dees – “Oh Pretty Woman” (1964). Estimated earnings: $19.75 million

As we mentioned above, one of the best ways to make a ton of money off a song is to get it featured in major Hollywood movie. Better yet, get a major Hollywood movie to name itself after your song. That’s obviously what happened for Roy Orbison and Bill Dees’ 1964 tune “Oh Pretty Woman”. The song was a huge hit in its own right 25 years before the Richard Gere/Julia Roberts feature film, but clearly the movie is responsible for much of the songs lasting popularity today. Right before his death in 2012, Bill Dees told a reporter that he was still earning $100-$200 thousand per year in royalties off “Oh Pretty Woman”, nearly 50 years later.


8. Sting – “Every Breath You Take” (1983). Estimated earnings: $20.5 million

Sting’s classic song about an unhealthy obsession with a lost love, was one of the biggest hits of 1983 having spent eight weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Billboard ranked “Every Breath You Take” at #25 on their list of the top 100 songs of all time. In 1997, the song received a huge re-boot in popularity when Puff Daddy released his cover tribute to the late rapper Notorious BIG “I’ll Be Missing You”. Diddy’s version would go on to win a Grammy and become one of the best selling singles of all time with more 7 million copies sold worldwide. In 2010, Sting’s former business manager claimed that this song is responsible for more than 1/4 of all the singer’s lifetime publishing income and today still produces $2000 a day ($730,000 per year) in royalties income for Sting.

Songwriting for “Every Breath You Take” is credited 100% to Sting (AKA Gordon Sumner). When Diddy produced his version, he forgot to ask for permission first which allowed Sting to demand and receive an unheard of 100% of the remix’s publishing royalties (the standard would have been 25-50%). Interestingly, the only part of the original Police song that Diddy actually sampled was Andy Summer’s guitar riff. Neither Sting’s vocals nor Stewart Copeland’s drum can be heard anywhere on “I’ll Be Missing You”. Because Sting is listed as the sole composer, Summers did not receive a dime in royalties from P Diddy and was not even consulted for his blessing. In fact, Summers was not even aware of the song until his son heard it on the radio. In a recent interview, Andy Summers called Puff Daddy’s song “the major rip-off of all time”. Furthermore, he elaborated: “He actually sampled my guitar, and that’s what he based his whole track on. Stewart’s not on it. Sting’s not on it. I’d be walking round Tower Records, and the fucking thing would be playing over and over. It was very bizarre while it lasted.”

Sting and Diddy

7. Haven Gillespie & Fred J Coots – “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1934). Estimated earnings: $25 million

The second of three Christmas songs on this list. The day after the song debuted, over 100,000 people ordered copies of the sheet music. 400,000 copies had sold within a few months. The song has been covered by a wide range of artists including Justin Bieber, Bruce Springsteen and Mariah Carey.

6. Ben E King, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller – “Stand By Me” (1961). Estimated earnings: $27 million

Similar to song #9 on this list, “Stand By Me” was a huge hit in its own time then topped the charts again 20 years later when the movie by the same name was released in 1986.

Stand By Me

5. Alex North & Hy Zaret – “Unchained Melody” (1955). Estimated earnings: $27.5 million

Originally penned as the theme for a little known 1955 prison movie “Unchained”, this song would eventually become one of the most covered songs in recorded history. Since 1955, “Unchained Melody” has been covered by more than 650 different artists. The most famous cover is the 1965 version by The Righteous Brothers which, like many songs on this list, received a major boost in popularity when it was used in the 1990 Demi Moore/Patrick Swayze Oscar winning film “Ghost”.

4. John Lennon and Paul McCartney – “Yesterday” (1965). Estimated earnings: $30 million

From the birth of The Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon agreed to share credit for all of their songs 50/50, no matter how little the other person contributed. That meant even though Paul wrote and sang 100% of “Yesterday”, it was credited to “Lennon-McCartney”. “Yesterday” would go on to be the second most played song in the history of radio and would be covered by over 2200 different musicians. As John’s sole heir, Yoko Ono has earned millions in royalties from the song. and despite Paul’s repeated pleas, has refused to surrender credit. In 2000, McCartney asked Yoko for permission to could change the credit to “McCartney-Lennon”, she refused.

Paul McCartney Beatles

3. Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Phil Specter – “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” (1964).Estimated earnings: $32 million

Husband and wife songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote this song with legendary producer (and convicted murderer) Phil Specter. Specter insisted, against the couple’s wishes, that they add the now famous line “and he is gone, gone, gone, Whoa, whoa, whoa”. Similar to the #5 song on this list, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” became a massive hit after it was covered by The Righteous Brothers. It also received a massive re-boot in popularity as part of the soundtrack to the 1986 Tom Cruise movie “Top Gun”. The song would eventually be covered by more than 2200 different artists around the world and become the most played song in radio history.

2. Irving Berlin – “White Christmas” (1940). Estimated earnings: $36 million

No song captures the heart of the holidays like “White Christmas”. This is ironic when you consider the fact that it was written by a Jewish immigrant from Russia. Bing Crosby’s version is by far the most famous but countless other artists have recorded the song. Crosby’s version is one of the best selling pieces of music in history, with over 100 million copies sold worldwide to date.

1.Hill Sisters – “Happy Birthday” (1893). Estimated earnings: $50 million

In 1893, the Hill sisters needed a song for their kindergarten class to sing on birthdays. Fast forward 120 years and “Happy Birthday” is by far the richest and most profitable song of all time. The Ownership of “Happy Birthday” has changed hands a few times in the last 100 years. Music holding company Warner Chappell bought the rights for $15 million in 1990. Today the song brings in $2 million a year in royalties ($5000 per day). It costs $25,000 to use the song in a movie or TV show which explains why you often see actors sing an odd, amalgamated version on screen. This also explains why chain restaurants sing their own custom songs for a guest’s birthday. You may not even realize, but it’s technically illegal to sing the song in a large group of unrelated people (like an office party) without paying a royalty to the current copyright holder Warner Music Group (which is owned by a private corporate conglomerate called Access Industries). The copyright for “Happy Birthday” expires in 2030 in the United States and 2016 in the European Union, at which point we can all finally sing Happy Birthday without writing a royalty check.

Happy Birthday!

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How music Streaming services have put the Downloads Industry out of business

Music fans love the speed, ease and price of streaming, and it is growing in popularity. What has this done to the download business? Can artists still earn a living? What does the future hold?

Since the launch of iTunes in 2003, the music download phenomenon has grown exponentially and according to a BPI Report, now accounts for 51 per cent of all record label revenues in the UK. However, downloading faces some tough competition from streaming, which has taken the music industry by storm, offering music-lovers something downloading cannot – all-you-can-listen music for a fixed monthly fee.

Services such as Spotify, Deezer and Google Play offer the chance to stream millions of tracks onto your chosen device, to create playlists and listen whenever, wherever you chose, all for a low, fixed price of around £10 per month. Pulselocker, a streaming service specifically for “electronic music fans and DJs” provides “a music subscription service and storage locker”. All of these services remove the need for masses of storage space, either physically or in the digital world.

Downloads versus Streaming
In his Music Industry blog music analyst Mark Mulligan writes about the cannibalisation of downloads by streaming, stating, “the majority of subscribers were already digital music buyers before becoming subscribers” which ultimately means that if paying a monthly fee, subscribers are unlikely to fork out further to download music too. However, Mark Foster, CEO of Deezer UK believes that downloading and streaming, “are not mutually exclusive”. He argues that as, “more music consumers move into an access model… rather than an ownership model”, it is creating, “exciting future growth for streaming music on demand”.

The development of streaming is a revelation for music lovers. A relatively low fixed monthly price for as much music as you can listen to. No matter how limited your device storage, you can listen to anything, anytime, anywhere without the worry of having the space. If you are concerned about your data usage, you can save songs onto your device. For the consumer, it is a great package. But what about the music makers?

Impact on Artists
No doubt, it is an exciting time to be a musician. The explosion of social media has made it far more accessible for budding artists to publicise themselves and their work, and for fans to feel closer to the people behind the music they enjoy. However, with the growth of streaming and its sometimes complex pay structures, how will that affect the music makers who need to earn a living?

DIY musician Ari Herstand has recently written an article on Digital Music News explaining that streaming will soon be more profitable than sales. He quotes both The Wall Street Journal and an article on the BBC website and highlights Sweden’s Avicii as an example, pointing out that this superstar DJ who has dominated the charts for several years is making more money from streaming than from physical sales and downloads combined.

Granted, Sweden is some years ahead of the rest of the world in the popularity of streaming. It should be highlighted that, according to the BBC, “the Swedish music market’s 13.8% growth last year… was a figure most countries could only dream of, with global music trade revenues increasing by just 0.2%, the first rise since 1999.”

Couple with this the fact that Spotify, one of the world’s most popular streaming services originated in Sweden and it is easy to see why, as the BBC points out, “91% of digital income in Sweden now comes from streaming sites, compared with just 13% worldwide.” If these figures are anything to go by, streaming seems to be the way to go.

Musicians and Streaming
Not every musician commands the audience of Avicii, so what can the average artist do to make streaming work for them? Mark Foster believes that artists need to be creative in order to make money from streaming in the way they would have profited from downloads in the past, and utilising the power of social media provides the ideal platform. He sees musicians driving interest by, “posting messages to their fans on social media sites, such as “check out my new album”.” Each streaming service offers something different. For Deezer, it is the, “stripped-back Deezer Sessions… an intimate performance, and is exclusively available to Deezer users.” Foster hopes this, “will encourage people to come and check out not just their Session, but their entire catalogue.”

Foster believes that, “The more artists talk about streaming services in a positive way, the more people will use them to follow the artists they already like and, crucially, discover new ones, and the more revenue is generated for the artists as a result. Everybody wins!” A sentiment that is echoed by many.

Herstand argues that beyond money, streaming does something for the integrity of music. He believes that, “Streaming is a much better model than sales. Streaming rewards those who create great music – not just those who have the biggest marketing budget. Sure, it might take a few years for a DIYer to reach the same amount of streams a major label pop artist gets in one week, but the great music will last and continue to be played.”

If a musician or DJ can make money by creating great music, without the need for a record label and a multi-million marketing budget, it seems that Foster may have a point.

Source : Sally Loader (Just Go).

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Japan’s War on Dance

With Tokyo winning the bid to host the 2020 Olympics, a newfound debate is underway centered around efforts to reform Japan’s 60-year-old fueiho laws, which impose strict regulations on dancing in social spaces. The laws are the result of a larger effort to stamp out the perceived immorality of nightclub culture, but many people in Japan’s musical community believe it is causing the vibrant scene to lose its meaning. Although Japan’s Cabinet recently agreed to lift the notorious law, club owners are still operating in a legal grey zone.

Although dance music began to recede into the shadows, it did not, nor will not, ever truly die. About thirty hip/hop artists, producers and DJ’s recently joined together to form C4, a Club & Club Culture Conference. This group has started lobbying with politicians to get these strict, and unfair laws changed. The first organization of it’s type, this has been a pivotal movement of change in Japanese culture.

With even reports of security on the dance floor stopping any attendees from dancing, United States citizens, and citizens throughout North America, would have a hard time understanding such drastic circumstances. Despite such restrictions, however, some clubs in the “grey area” still have dancing till midnight.

Still, the Olympics are soon approaching and the need for Tokyo to become a global city is becoming apparent to both citizens and politicians alike. Change is surely in the cards for the future of Japan; both as a necessity for continued economic growth and as an attraction for tourists and visitors to a highly discerning and cultured nightlife.

Check out the full documentary from Thump below; it’s quite an insight into foreign culture and how people across the globe relate to our impartial passion.

Via Thump

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War on ‘Freemium’ Music Services Rages On, Rhapsody CFO Weighs In

Still continuing to make news, the debate over the economics of online music streaming has been reinvigorated after artists began to speak up about unfair compensation. Taylor Swift suddenly pulled the plug on Spotify, withdrawing all her entire music catalog from the service, and subsequently rallied a campaign against Spotify and other similar streaming services that offer music for free. She recently told Yahoo, “I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music… And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”

This was the match that set the forest ablaze. Soon after, renowned country artist, Jason Aldean, followed suit by pulling his latest album from Spotify, and Sony Music big whig, Kevin Kelleher, suggested that his company is considering withdrawing its support of free music services such as Spotify.

Spotify has since spoken out to set the record straight. CEO Daniel Ek discussed the genesis of Spotify, citing piracy as a major issue that was paying artists nothing, and ultimately detracting from the music industry as a whole. “Spotify [on the other hand] has paid more than two billion dollars to labels, publishers, and collecting societies for distribution to songwriters and recording artist. . .so all the talk about Spotify making money on the backs of artists upsets me big time”, Ek says.

Regardless, as Spotify and other similar streaming services continue to be portrayed as the bad guys, online music companies that don’t utilize a ‘freemium’ model, like Beats Music and Rhapsody, stand to gain. Rhapsody CFO, Ethan Rudin, spoke out regarding the recent attacks on the ‘freemium’ model and how it is not only beneficial to his company, but also the music industry as a whole. In his statement, Rudin highlights two main flaws with the ‘freemium’ model. First, he states that listening to music is an experience that SHOULD NOT be interrupted, and that abruptly shoving advertisements in between tracks just cheapens the experience. Second, he points out that by offering ‘free’ music, services like Spotify are lessening the value of a music album for future generations, teaching young music fans to expect that music is free.

As the battle against streaming services that provide free music rages on, only time will tell who will come out on top on the other side. Until then we are left with the same old issue of artists and right-holders not getting appropriately compensated for their hard work, a problem that has been around since the emergence of music on the inter-webs. Who will make the next move?

Via EDMTunes

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