MediaNet Blog

Surprising Takeaways From The Billboard Music Industry Executive Survey

Posted by Glen Sears | August 27, 2015 11:53 am | No Comments

billboard music industry executive survey
People often think of music, label, and technology executives as disconnected and greedy, but a report out yesterday from Billboard shows they might not think as differently as consumers.

The survey, given to 50-something anonymous music industry executives, had a few unexpected bits of information inside. We don’t know which executives were polled and what their industry position is. They might be from labels, publishers, distributors, techs, PROs, or others. Let’s assume they’re evenly distributed, being totally honest, and let’s have some fun.

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Even A-List Execs Don’t Think Artists Are Treated Fairly.

In a 3:2 ratio, industry executives stated clearly that the industry isn’t favorable to artists. While it’s a fairly ambiguous question, it does highlight the shifting landscape of opinions on artist treatment. We’ve said recently ourselves that artists aren’t the only ones that “being left behind” by the music industry, but they are certainly one of the many. Everyone deserves to get paid for the music they helped create, and the belief that artists aren’t given proper fairness is a good step forward.

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Everyone Continues to Hate on EDM, but Also on Rap.

It’s no secret that EDM has a tough time gaining legitimacy in the broader music industry. Despite its massive revenue-generating power, EDM behemoth SFX Entertainment is poised for bankruptcy in just a few short weeks. What’s more surprising is that hip-hop, currently enjoying yet another pop culture resurgence thanks to the movie Straight Outta Compton, is the music industry’s least favorite genre. What would Drake think of that?

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Boomers and Gen X’ers Think They Understand Technology Better Than Millennials.

In another 3:2 ratio, music industry executives claim they understand technology better than their teenager. On the one hand that makes sense. No average teen knows how to deploy a global music catalog in 13 formats across more than 50 services. On the other hand, until we see more major brands using GroupMe and participating in hack weeks maybe some 14 year olds might be more familiar with emergent technologies and social platforms.

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Wherever You Work, You Might Wish It Was Apple or Spotify.

This one isn’t a huge surprise. In the music technology world, it doesn’t get much loftier than Apple or Spotify. Even so, it’s still a little surprising that over half of music industry executives (not associates) might leave their current posts to work at a different company. Even after the very public denigration of Apple Music. Good thing these surveys were totally anonymous, huh?

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Nobody Believes In Tidal.

Poor Tidal. The Jay-Z owned high-definition music streaming service has had a really rough go. First their launch is a PR nightmare. Then multiple CEOs are fired or jump ship. Additionally, we’ve covered in great detail how difficult and expensive it can be to run a high-definition music service. It turns out, most music industry execs don’t believe Tidal has more than a year left in it. Whether or not this is true (analysts regularly predict the fall of Apple Music, too) it does prove that Tidal still has a major public opinion mountain to climb.

What Does It All Mean?

Public opinion is generally shaped by trends in ideas, money, and current events. In many ways these surveys are only surprising because we expect music industry executives to be pretty stalwart and seemingly less susceptible to trends and flashes in the pan.

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Everybody loves Taylor Swift, but will they always? Does she have another 10 years in her? Are we all just jumping from ship-to-ship, hoping the tide will rise long enough to make the next musical leap? It’s worth noting that one music executive thought it possible.

“I’m sure everybody will answer Taylor [Swift], but the big question I ask myself is can she sustain this for more than another album or two? I lean towards betting on her, but I’m sure the cost that comes with it becomes exponential over the next few campaigns.”

Billboard seems to have proven that music industry executives are more like us in many ways than we might think. Is that a recent trend? Is that good or bad? We believe music industry executives are key influencers, critical to renewed growth and revenue for the entire musical supply chain. We encourage everyone, from executives all the way to consumers, to think about the future of music, instead of reacting to the present.

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5 Important Takeaways From Next Big Sound’s “Data To Date” Report

Posted by Glen Sears | August 19, 2015 2:34 pm | No Comments

Next Big Sound Music Industry Data
Next Big Sound, a digital music analytics firm recently acquired by Pandora, made headlines last week with the release of its report “Data To Date: The Rapid Rise of Social and Streaming.” This in-depth report examines how digital music is streamed and how it is shared.

The report, which analyzed over one trillion plays across 7 major services, put real data to many of the suspicions held about digital music. It’s growing rapidly, videos carry huge weight, and being a huge pop star all but ensures you continue to be a huge pop star.

While the report is easy-to-read and well-formatted, it is also long. We decided to pull what we feel are the most important parts of the report and compile them here.

You can read the entire Data To Date report here.

1. More digital music was streamed in the 1st half of 2015 than in all of 2014.

Anyone with a Spotify or Apple Music account knows just how prevalent streaming music has become. What’s surprising is the almost unbelievable speed at which it is growing. The 1,032,225,905,640 plays dwarfs 2014’s 434,695,663,626, with 4.5 months still left in the year.

Part of this play data can likely be attributed to the inclusion of Pandora’s venerable streaming radio service, but even so the numbers show just how fast digital music streaming is skyrocketing.

2. If you’re an artist building your brand, you need to use Instagram daily.

When considering social media for musicians, no platform showed the massive growth of Instagram. Monthly new follows for artists were up an astounding 455%, from 51m in June 2014 to 283m in May 2015.

Next Big Sound Instagram

Artists can use the platform to give listeners and fans a glimpse into their lives. Fetty Wap (known for his breakout hit “Trap Queen”), is a prime example of this phenomenon, adding 1.1m new followers since the beginning of 2015.

3. Latin artists are disproportionately popular on Facebook.

A strange anomaly in the NBS data, Latin artists provided a social media surprise. With most Latin artists making up around 2% of activity across social media channels, Facebook activity for the genre is more than double at 5%.

Additionally, of the 10 artists that attracted the highest number of page likes, 50% were in the Latin genre. Nicky Jam added more than 14m Likes in just six months.

4. Soundcloud is still a major player and growing — even with the controversy.

With recent news that Soundcloud struck a deal with Universal Music Group, its days as a copyright Wild West may be coming to an end. But that didn’t stop the streaming service from tallying an explosion in plays, growing from 2.5b in June 2014 to 4.9b in May 2015.

Next Big Sound Soundcloud

This would seem to suggest that hesitant rights owners like Sony may find themselves reluctantly striking Soundcloud deals in order to get their share of the action. These deals, however, could also cannibalize a user base accustomed to receiving the service for free.

5. Undiscovered artists are gaining notoriety not from their own videos, but from videos using their songs.

Liv Buli, the public report’s author, calls YouTube song-in-video detection “one of the more telling metrics” about fan engagement. In theory, using an artist’s track in your own content is considered “next-level” engagement.

To this end, undiscovered artists like Halsey are finding major success on the platform even without doing the work directly. Three of their songs breached the Top 10 list of unsigned artists whose music is being used widely on the network.

 

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Next Big Sound Drops Massive Music Industry Insights, and EDM Takes a Huge Hit [Soundcheck]

Posted by Glen Sears | August 17, 2015 10:50 am | No Comments

Next Big Sound Music Industry Data

Story of the Week

Next Big Sound Releases “Data To Date: The Rise of Social and Streaming” Report
Read More: http://bit.ly/1UOKZfV
Hot on the heels of Berklee’s report on transparency in the music industry, Pandora-owned digital music analytics firm Next Big Sound released their own report on streaming music and how we share music socially. To create this report NBS analyzed one trillion plays across YouTube, Vevo, Vimeo, Spotify, Rdio, SoundCloud, and Pandora.

“What really blew our minds when tallying these totals was that the number of online plays in just the first six months of the year far exceeds what we tracked in all of 2014, even before the addition of Pandora’s data. And social is growing like a weed as well. We tracked close to 14 billion new followers, page likes, and stations added in the first half of the year, already more than three quarters of the total from last year.

Let’s take a moment to consider what impact this could have on the music industry at large. For musicians, their piece of the streaming pie will only continue to grow, let’s shift our focus from the decline in sales, and instead focus on maximizing digital revenue from streaming and social interaction with fans.”

Other Important Headlines

Berklee’s Rethink Music Releases Fair Music Report Followup – According to Allen Bargfrede, “in spite of living in an age where music is more accessible than ever before, the commercial end of the business has a long way to go as far as getting artists the money they deserve.” Read more

SoundExchange Launches PLAYS Search Engine – Money earned from digital plays often, for one reason or another, ends up in the wrong hands, and even services like SoudExchange can misdirect funds. Enter the PLAYS Search Engine, a tool which allows artists to track where their money is going. Read More

What Apple Music’s 11 Million Trialists Really Mean – How successful has Apple Music actually been? While an initial report of 11 million trial subscribers certainly looks good on paper, the question remains over how many of these trial users will turn into paid subscribers. Read More

Sillerman’s Bid to Take SFX Private Fails, Stock Tumbles – Sillerman’s offer of $5.25 per share for the company became increasingly untenable as the stock continued to decline to its current $1.55 per share — a 20.1 percent decline from Thursday’s closing price. SFX has released a statement on Friday saying it is exploring “strategic alternatives” for its future. Read More

EDM Artist Laidback Luke Pens Op-Ed On Pay to Play for Festival Lineups – “Corporate investors are now involved and they often extend offers to promoters that they can’t refuse. Such investments require return, and lineup strategy and conversation gets weighed down even more by charts and apps that continuously poll the audience about what they like, who they are going to see on the day, and what they want and appreciate.” Read More

Rdio Announces Live Broadcast Radio Function With 500 U.S. Stations Onboard – The partnership with Cumulus Media includes Los Angeles’ 95.5 KLOS, San Francisco’s KFOG, and New York’s NASH FM 94.7 all stations now operating on the Rdio platform. Read More

Columbia House, Former ‘Music Club,’ Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy – Columbia House was once famous for operating a mail-order business that enticed consumers with the prospect of “11 records or tapes for $1.” Now the company finds itself in massive debt to the people who once provided its products—labels. Read More

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U.S. DOJ Considering Baffling New Licensing Rules, and Apple Music Is (or Isn’t) Succeeding [Soundcheck]

Posted by Glen Sears | August 3, 2015 10:58 am | No Comments

DOJ music licensing publishing ASCAP BMI

Story of the Week

The Dept. of Justice Said to Be Considering a Baffling New Rule Change for Song Licensing
Read More: http://bit.ly/1DlaKQK
According to numerous sources, the DoJ has sent a letter to two performance rights societies (ASCAP & BMI) governed by the consent decree, telling them that on “split works” songs — songs written by multiple writers — any writer or rights holder can issue a license for 100 percent of the song. In other words, the long-established industry practice of each rights owner greenlighting their particular portion of a song in order to establish a license — also known as fractional licensing — may no longer be allowed.

Currently, if a song has multiple writers, each writer must give permission for a song to be licensed for a cover, streaming service, or sync with film. These new laws, if verified and eventually passed, “would turn music publishing into the Wild West.” “If the DoJ follows through on this position, it could upend every agreement between co-writers and producers,” says one publishing executive.

Other Important Headlines

RIAA and Other Groups Revisit Case Against Cnet Over Downloads in New Letter – A 16-member coalition sent a letter stating that the CBS-owned property “has made various computer, web, and mobile applications available that induce users to infringe copyrighted content by ripping the audio or the audio and video from what might be an otherwise legitimate stream.” Read More

SFX Gives Sillerman Two Weeks to Secure Financing For Takeover Bid – After finding no other bidders, the SFX board says Sillerman has two weeks to provide proof of secured financing for his proposed (and overdue) takeover of the EDM promoter. Read More

Apple Music Racked Up 10 Million Subscribers in Less Than a Month… Three weeks after Apple Music’s launch, Apple CEO Tim Cook said “millions and millions of customers” had already signed up for the new streaming service. Read More

…But Apple Music Streams Just 4% Of Spotify, Says Indie Distributor – Independent music digital distributor DashGo, monitoring activity for its artists, says that, so far, streams from Apple Music are only 4% of what they see from Spotify. Read More

Soundcloud Subscription Tier Is Coming – While the exact details haven’t been revealed yet, it’s believed that the service will offer a free tier with a capped number of streams and downloads per month, and a paid tier where both are unlimited. Read More

No Happy Birthday Decision After New “Smoking Gun” Evidence Submitted – The judge overseeing the ‘Happy Birthday’ copyright dispute has pushed back any decision making for at least another week. Read More

1000 Musicians Gather To Lure Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters To Italy – It’s the most impressive video you’ll watch all week. Read More

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Why Aren’t All Streaming Music Services “High-Definition?”

Posted by Glen Sears | July 30, 2015 10:31 am | No Comments

high definition lossless music streaming
Historically, the most successful music streaming services have operated using two key formats: MP3 and AAC. Both formats take audio data and compress it by removing parts of the information deemed irrelevant to the listening experience.

This type of compression is referred to as “lossy,” and comes in a variety of bit rates. These bit rates determine how much audio data is removed, and the size of the file itself following compression.

Standard File Sizes (3-minute song):

  • CD-Quality WAV file (uncompressed): 31.7 MB
  • CD-Quality FLAC file (compressed): 15.85 MB
  • 320 kbps MP3: 7.2 MB
  • 256 kbps AAC: 5.76 MB
  • 192 kbps MP3: 4.32 MB
  • 128 kbps MP3: 2.88 MB

Even the highest bit rate (320 kbps) lossy compression reduces a song to 1/4 of its original size. This opens a world of possibilities for on-demand music services to deliver “near-CD” quality at tremendously faster speeds. Apple’s iTunes has sold (and now streamed via Apple Music) 256 kbps AAC files since 2011, and Spotify has offered 320 kbps mobile streaming since 2012.

What changed? Why did people suddenly start craving mobile high-definition music?

Lossless audio encoding like FLAC and Apple Lossless have existed for a long time. Lossless compression is a class of data compression algorithmsthat allows the original data to be perfectly represented by compressed data. Sophisticated algorithms create a file that sounds mathematically identical, at 50–60% the original size.

Pretty cool, right? Get original master recording sound quality at half the size. On hi-fi audio equipment, there is no doubt that lossless audio is fuller, richer, and more faithful than MP3 or AAC. It seems like anyone would want lossless audio, but as with all data — the devil is in the details. Size really does matter, and so do the people on the other end of the stream.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

The MediaNet catalog contains 42 million tracks in 12 different formats.Let’s pretend for a moment that we only carry 320 kbps MP3, and every track is 3 minutes long. Storing this imaginary catalog would require 298,200,000 megabytes, or 298.2 terabytes, of usable server space.

Compare that with a 42 million track library of FLAC files, which would require 665,700,000 megabytes, or 665.7 terabytes, of usable server space. That’s 223% more space than the highest-quality MP3 library to store, and it isn’t taking into account the metadata contained in the files (ISRC, track name, artist, album, release year, etc).

Lossless audio requires 223% more storage space than high-quality MP3

Even today, server space isn’t particularly cheap. Using Amazon Web Services’ S3 Enterprise Cloud Storage solution, our FLAC library would cost $20,900 each month. Simply to store the files. Compare this with the relatively low cost of MP3 at $9,500, and you can begin to see the problem.

Then add the cost of delivering those files to users. A standard streaming service can easily log over 500,000,000 plays in one month. That means our FLAC catalog would deliver 7.9 petabytes of data to users vs 3.6 petabytes for MP3, every single month. $426,900 vs. $204,300, respectively. That’s 209% more per month to deliver FLAC audio instead of MP3.

In reality, the cost of delivering digital audio could be slightly higher or lower, but can generally be accepted as increasing proportionally with file size. At over double the cost, lossless audio files are a huge strain on storage and bandwidth, as well as existing server architecture.

Many streaming services, especially those just launching, can’t afford that huge infrastructure cost without massive investment.

Your iPhone Will Hate You

So what? Lossless streaming services like TIDAL, Qobuz, and Deezer Elite have found a way to afford the massive infrastructure costs. Why can’t everyone else? The next sticking point is how a service’s music is consumed.

52% of Spotify users consume their music on a mobile device such as a phone or tablet. This means that data throughput is subject to an individual’s mobile data plan.

Verizon’s “More Everything” plan offers users 10 GB of data per month.According to Pew Research, half of all cell phone users listen to mobile music. Let’s assume 50% of their data (5 GB) is available for music streaming.

“Few people really want to pay more to wireless carriers for any data overage charges associated with streaming high-quality music.” — Venture Beat

Using a FLAC streaming service, a user could listen to roughly 315 songs per month, or 10 songs per day. Using an MP3 streaming service, a user could listen to roughly 694 songs per month, or 22 songs per day. That huge discrepancy could cost consumers tens or hundreds of dollars in data overage charges. That’s bad PR.

These numbers don’t take into account the elements of the user interface (album art, UI elements, etc) that are loaded each play. Existing apps must also be re-built with enhanced delivery APIs required to stream lossless audio. All these factors equal a huge strain on a user’s data bandwidth.

Even More Technology Costs

Did you know that codecs like MP3, AAC, and others cost money to use? Every streaming service has to pay a license fee (either one-time or per-play) to the technology company that created the codec. While FLAC is truly free, many other lossless codecs are not.

This problem is compounded when attempting to get permission from a record label to offer music in a lossless format. Labels are understandably protective of their 24-bit masters, as they are a great way to establish copyright. As the gatekeepers of high-definition content, labels are choosy with who they allow to stream content beyond 320 kbps MP3.

Additionally, finding the studio-quality digital masters for every single track you want in your catalog can be difficult when you’re dealing with over 370,000 labels and 500,000 new tracks released each month. (That’s what we handle at MediaNet for our catalog.)

Labels don’t offer a “better than CD” experience to just anyone, and if a service is deemed worthy of lossless audio, it may be required to use certain codecs, licensors, and B2B partners approved by the label. These may not be the same for each label. Each of those partnerships can require additional license fees.

You Probably Won’t Hear The Difference Anyway

When it’s all said and done, is high-definition audio really any better than high-quality MP3? It depends on who you are and how you’re listening.

NPR and The Verge both put that question to the test: Can you tell the difference between AAC, MP3, and FLAC? NPR claims “many listeners cannot hear the difference,” and The Verge found that in “29 percent of the tests, subjects couldn’t tell any notable difference at all.”

29% of people can’t tell any difference between lossless and MP3 audio

While lossless audio might seem like the next frontier in digital audio, it faces an uphill battle: it’s too expensive to do at the same price as MP3. Until server and bandwidth costs decrease significantly, high-definition streaming audio will always be a boutique market.

All things being equal, lossless audio sounds better than lossy audio. It’s simple mathematics. But imagine you’re on the train, at rush hour, listening to music on non-isolated earbuds while conversations are happening 2 feet from your ears. Without a dedicated hi-fi like SONOS or Cambridge Audio, will you really be able to hear the subtle differences in Coltrane’s tenor sax?

Most streaming services aren’t going to invest 223% more to find out.

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When Will My Performing Rights Organization Pay Me?

Posted by Glen Sears | July 28, 2015 8:24 am | No Comments

performing-rights-organization-payments-ascap-bmi-sesac
Performing rights organizations, or PROs, are societies responsible for collecting income on behalf of songwriters and music publishers when a song is publicly broadcast. This includes live covers, radio plays, television plays, internet radio services like Pandora, streaming services like Spotify, restaurants or bars, nightclubs, and any other public performance. All these users pay the associated PRO a fee, which the PROs then pay to their registered songwriters.

For a comparison of performing rights organizations, click here.

Given the different processes in digital music, PROs have different distribution schedules. Many times payments will be remitted as much as two quarters following the performance. We’ve taken the liberty of combining all 3 U.S. PRO payment schedules here:

ASCAP

ASCAP, an organization owned and run by its members, is the leading U.S. Performing Rights Organization representing over 540,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers.

2015 DATES TYPE PERFORMANCE PERIOD
April 6, 2015 Domestic Writers July, August & September 2014 (3Q14)
May 11, 2015 International Distribution
June 19, 2015 Domestic Publishers October, November & December 2014 (4Q14)
July 6, 2015 Domestic Writers October, November & December 2014 (4Q14)
August 10, 2015 International Distribution
September 18, 2015 Domestic Publishers January, February & March 2015 (1Q15)
October 5, 2015 Domestic Writers January, February & March 2015 (1Q15)
November 9, 2015 International Distribution
December 18, 2015 Domestic Publishers April, May & June 2015 (2Q15)

Source: http://www.ascap.com/members/payment/distribution.aspx

BMI

BMI is the bridge between songwriters and the businesses and organizations that want to play their music publicly. As a global leader in music rights management, BMI serves as an advocate for the value of music, representing more than 8.5 million musical works created and owned by more than 650,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers.

PERFORMANCES BETWEEN ENTERED BY PAYMENT
October 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014 June 30, 2014 September 2014
January 1, 2014 – June 30, 2014 September 30, 2014 January 2015
April 1, 2014 – September 30, 2014 December 21, 2014 March 2015
July 1, 2014 – December 31, 2014 March 31, 2015 June 2015
October 1, 2014 – March 31, 2015 June 30, 2015 September 2015

Source: http://www.bmi.com/faq/entry/how_often_is_this_paid_out

SESAC

SESAC currently licenses the public performances of more than 400,000 songs on behalf of its 30,000 affiliated songwriters, composers and music publishers.

Domestic Royalty Payments

PERFORMANCES OCCURRING BETWEEN ARE DISTRIBUTED ON OR AROUND
January 1 – March 31 (Qtr 1) June 30
April 1- June 30 (Qtr 2) September 30
July 1 – September 30 (Qtr 3) December 31
October 1 – December 31 (Qtr 4) March 31 (next year)

Foreign Royalty Payments

ROYALTIES RECEIVED FROM FOREIGN ARE DISTRIBUTED ON OR AROUND
January 1 – March 31 September 30
April 1- June 30 December 31
July 1 – September 30 March 31 (next year)
October 1 – December 31 June 30 (next year)

Monthly Radio Royalty Payments
Radio-Payments-Schedule
Source: http://www.sesac.com/WritersPublishers/HowWePay/GeneralInfo.aspx

Have more questions about managing your musical rights and payments? Email us here!

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Apple Music Takes Major PR Blows, Rivals Find Common Ground, & the Government Wades In (Soundcheck)

Posted by Glen Sears | July 27, 2015 9:22 am | No Comments

apple music jim dalrymple soundcheck

Story of the Week

Apple Music Faces Major PR Problems
Read More: http://for.tn/1MRW3UP, http://bit.ly/1MRWgaG
Last week Apple Music, previously thought to be cornering huge new portions of the market, was hit with a 1-2 punch of bad PR.

First, U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) called for a federal investigation into Apple Music and the App Store’s pricing practices. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of all purchases within the App store. Developers are also not allowed to inform consumers within their App pages that the same service can be purchased on their website, cutting Apple out of the equation. Rules also prohibit apps from including a link to their websites and from mentioning other platforms like Google Play.

“I am concerned about certain business practices that have the potential to limit choices and raise prices for consumers.” – Sen. Al Franken

Second, Jim Dalrymple (former Macworld news editor and tentpole Apple supporter) very publicly dropped Apple Music after an iTunes library bug wiped out large parts of his music library. “At some point, enough is enough. That time has come for me—Apple Music is just too much of a hassle to be bothered with. Nobody I’ve spoken at Apple or outside the company has any idea how to fix it, so the chances of a positive outcome seem slim to none…Apple music is a nightmare, and I’m done with it.”

While Dalrymple later received support directly from Apple HQ and revived “99 percent of my music back,” the bad publicity was already at a fever pitch after being picked up by every tech and music blog imaginable. Not a great week to be Apple.

Other Important Headlines

Spotify Adds Discover Weekly Personalized Playlists – Spotify has launched Discover Weekly, a two-hour custom playlist of music recommendations, based on the user’s library and listening patterns. Read More

Beatport Will Bring Videos, Curated Playlists to Spotify – Despite being competitors, the deal opens up opportunities for highly-lucrative music video and live streaming partnerships. “We’re not just in the streaming or download business, but heavily focused on video.” Read More

Pandora Revenue Rises 30.5% on Higher Advertising Sales – Online music streaming company Pandora Media Inc raised its full year forecast and reported better-than-expected second quarter revenue as it signed up more subscribers and increased its advertising revenue. Read More

Billboard’s First-Ever Nashville Top 50 Power Players List Revealed – Like its other Top 50 lists, Billboard ranks the most highly-powered individuals in the $830 million genre for the first time. Read More

Amazon Now Selling Concert Tickets Without the Extra Charges – As part of its attempt to get into the ticketing business, Amazon is selling tickets to an upcoming festival sans the obnoxious service charge. Read More

SESAC Settles Anti-Trust Dispute With US Radio Industry – The smaller, commercially-owned performing rights organization has reached a settlement with the Radio Music Licensing Committee which includes agreeing to allow a third-party arbitration panel to settle future royalty disputes. Read More

Government Opens Consultation on Tougher Sentences for Online Copyright Infringement – The government announced this weekend that it is launching a consultation on plans to increase the potential jail terms for commercial-scale online copyright infringement to ten years from the current two, which would bring the penalties for commercial piracy operations based on the net in line with the penalties for pirating physical goods. Read More

Also last week, Grooveshark co-founder Josh Greenberg was found dead in his Florida home. He was 28 years old. There was no immediate sign of foul play, injury, drug use, or suicide. Our sympathies go out to his friends and family.

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Soundcheck #008: Your 5-Minute Recap Of Last Week’s Most Important Music News

Posted by Glen Sears | July 20, 2015 11:11 am | No Comments

music transparency berklee rethink music soundcheck

Story Of The Week

Berklee Rethink Music Releases Landmark Fair Music Report, Ignites Massive Debate
Read more: http://n.pr/1dYnZdF
Last week, Berklee College of Music’s Rethink Music project released a 28-page report on the state of transparency and fairness the digital music industry. The report, backed by industry titans like David Byrne and the Future of Music Coalition, suggests that 20-50% of music payments don’t make it to their rightful owners. The report also details the researchers’ recommendations for repairing the opaque and complex music industry payments ecosystem.

Typically artist payments aren’t a part of public consciousness. With the rise of digital streaming services, leaks of Spotify contracts, and Taylor Swift’s stand against Apple Music, the amount of money independent artists are paid (or not paid) has gained international attention. The question on everyone’s minds: where do the hundreds of millions of dollars in the music industry go?

The Fair Music Report attempts to answer this question, using a combination of industry insight and research. The report recommends a “Fair Music” seal for streaming services, a non-profit rights database, cryptocurrency payments, and education initiatives.

Other Important Headlines

The RIAA Responds To Fair Music Report, Says “This Is An Important Subject” – The RIAA goes on to assert that “some of the report’s findings are flawed,” before going on to point out that while major labels’ revenues have dwindled, the amount they pay artists rose 36 percent. Read More

Why The Music Industry Isn’t Transparent, and How To Fix It Right – “It’s simply too easy for big companies to sit on money because they can’t find out who to pay, or don’t care to know. It’s time to demand more accountability and transparency.” Read More

NPR Follows Amazon in Withdrawing From MIC Coalition – “When Amazon took the lead and left this anti-artist Coalition, after concluding the group was ‘consumed’ with lowering payments to musicians, musicFIRST called on NPR to leave as well.” Read More

Ticketmaster Competitor Ticketfly Closes $50M Series D Round – At its core, Ticketfly is pursuing a smarter, more flexible, more social ticketing platform that challenges Ticketmaster. It is now valued at $85 million. Read More

Blurred Lines Retrial Request Denied, Damages and Distribution Ban Cut – Gaye family attorney Richard Busch exclaimed “thrilled with the decision by the Court,” Thicke and Williams expected to appeal. Read More

Final Paid Edition of Music Magazine NME To Publish This Month – The music industry mainstay will be following the move with a brand new free magazine, launching in September. Read More

Marshall Cranks Out a Phone for Music Lovers – With a focus on music and shamelessly beautiful styling, the phone is equipped with stereo speakers, dual mics and headphone jacks, and hifi lossless audio card. Read More

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Global Record Release Day Changes To Friday, This Friday

Posted by Glen Sears | July 9, 2015 11:06 am | No Comments

global record day changes to friday
After many long discussions from industry groups worldwide, in February the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) announced it would be adopting a global album release date. According to the IFPI, Friday (not Tuesday, as it is in the U.S.) is the day most global music fans want to receive their new music.

“Their love for new music doesn’t recognise national borders. They want music when it’s available on the internet — not when it’s ready to be released in their country. An aligned global release day puts an end to the frustration of not being able to access releases in their country when the music is available in another country.” – Frances Moore, IFPI

Well music fans, that day is tomorrow. On Friday July 10th 2015, major and major independent labels will begin to release new music on Fridays, instead of the traditional Tuesday. What does this mean for you?

Consumers: New releases will be available for download, purchase, and streaming on Fridays instead of Tuesdays.

Labels: Most digital music providers (MediaNet included) require a week lead time for releases. This means the ideal time to submit your new tracks and albums is the Friday prior to the release date.

Despite opposition from various independent labels on choosing Friday, support is generally high for a global release date. The IFPI has released a viewpoint article detailing the rationale behind the switch. We encourage all labels and consumers to read it.

Have more questions about what the switch means for your catalog? Email us here!

In Streaming, Licensing Means Far More Than A Huge Music Catalog

Posted by Glen Sears | 10:08 am | No Comments

music licensing streaming

Key Takeaways

  1. For every song in a digital music catalog, there is a huge rights and licensing stack that is far more complicated to fulfill.
  2. Without a digital music platform that understands these relationships, potential for lost and escrow revenue increases dramatically.

 
At MediaNet we regularly see and hear music services touting the sheer size of their music catalog. On one hand, it’s the easiest number for regular folks to get their head around. A service has “this” many songs, and more is better. But where music streaming starts getting interesting (and difficult) is in paying for each song to get played.

The Problem

If you’re a music service, broadcaster, bar, venue, or other licensee of music, managing the process of calculating payments seems almost impossible. The large volume of digital usage, limited availability of ownership data, and the generally byzantine royalty structure all add up to one thing: lost payments.

Billions of dollars of digital payments are administered each year, $6.9 billion in 2014 according to the IFPI.

Rights holder losses are due frequently to old systems, unmatched pay, slow processing, poor ownership data, paper processing, and lack of open markets. We estimate these losses exceed hundreds of millions of dollars.

Content owners and legacy middle men (Labels, publishers, PROs, Societies) that license copyrights have a difficult time tracking, monitoring, and receiving payments from the 1,000’s of licensees in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, it can take up to 18 months for rights holders to get paid through these legacy systems.

These problems are a result of the transformation of music from a physical distribution and licensing framework to a digital distribution and licensing framework. Specifically there are two critically transformative changes: Volume, and License Laws and business models.

The volume of individual music transactions has increased massively. Not by factors of 5, 10 or even 100, but by an order of magnitude in the billions (yes, billions). Billions of lines of usage each month, compared to millions of sales of CDs each year.

License laws and business models are also very different in digital streaming and subscription models, requiring complex calculations and access to ownership data covering millions of content owners. The play of one song can require tracking and paying over 10 different entities, with royalty calculations of a single play monitored down to 6 decimal points (e.g. $.000003).

Incumbent services that have supported the music industry for almost 100 years, services that powered the entire royalty payments supply chain, simply were not designed to handle these volumes. They have managed to “get by” using older analog legacy systems (e.g. spreadsheets) and processes that are cumbersome and have numerous gaps in the workflows. These gaps cause loss of data resulting in loss of ability to properly account and completely pay all rights holders.

The Solution

When licensing, delivering, reporting, and paying on a world-class digital music library, it is imperative that the foundation be built with these things in mind. Any service that isn’t aware of plays and licensing isn’t built for the future.

Many companies are spending their time trying to consolidate and simplify licensing. Some are tracking down any number of the 900,000 revenue streams worldwide.Others are working toward combining mechanical and performance license servicing.

This is all great news. I fully support anyone who is working to make digital music licensing simpler and more efficient. But the question still exists: who will handle the digital fulfillment supply chain? Can they also get rights holders paid?

The answer? Here at MediaNet we’ve built and host a database of rights holdersspecifically matched and linked to Sound Recordings. Every time a song is delivered, we know who needs to get paid and how. Without any need for third parties. No third parties means less translation, better accuracy, and payments accounted for.

This is the way all future digital music platforms need to be built. From the ground up to be ready for any changes in licensing or publishing. A platform custom built to ensure that no matter what the contract says, everyone is getting paid.

-Frank
If you’re interested in learning more about how MediaNet can help power your service, I’d love to chat! Email me at fjohnson@mndigital.com or follow me on Twitter: @francjohnson

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Have questions about how Medianet can help your digital music business? Ask us here. Want a topic or insight published on this blog? Ask us here. Other questions or comments? Let us know!

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