Posted by Glen Sears | November 30, 2015 10:45 am | No Comments
Story of the Week
Adele’s ’25’ Smashes Every Conceivable Sales Record
It’s official: Adele’s ’25’ album sold 3.38 million copies in its first week in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music. That’s the largest single sales week for an album since Nielsen began tracking point-of-sale music purchases in 1991, beating *NSYNC’s previous record of 2.42 million copies.
’25’ is the first album to sell more than 3 million copies in a week in Nielsen history, and only the second to surpass 2 million sold in a single frame. ’25’ sold 335 copies per minute and constituted 41% of all record sales in the week.
The album also ended the week with U.K. sales of 800,307 copies, smashing the previous record of 696,000 created by Oasis’ Be Here Now in 1997. Finally, ’25’ reached triple platinum status in Australia, topping out the ARIA Albums Chart and its lead single “Hello” leading the ARIA Singles Chart for the fifth successive week.
These sales numbers come after the notable omission of ’25’ from major streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.
Read all the stats on Billboard: http://bit.ly/1NDXFpZ
Top News Stories
Pandora Goes Ahead and Streams Adele’s ’25’ Anyway – Thanks to the structure of U.S. online radio laws, Pandora confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that every track from Adele’e new album is available through its radio service. Read More
Judge Sides With BMG and Round Hill, Says Cox Not Absolved From User Piracy – A judge ruled on Thursday, Nov. 19 that Cox Communications is not entitled to safe harbor from copyright liability because of its failure to reasonably implement a repeat-infringer policy with regards to piracy. Read More
RIAA CTO David Hughes Responds To Hi-Res Music “Confusion” – “I understand there might be some confusion about exactly what constitutes ‘high resolution music.'” Read More
Guvera Raises $72.2m and Plans IPO – But Lost $58.6m Last Fiscal Year – Austrailian digital music firm Guvera startled the industry by announcing a $72.2 million funding round, yet the company’s latest financial results reveal that it lost $58.6m in its last financial year. Read More
Pandora Financials Reveal $1bn+ Investment Since 2009 – Analysis by Music Ally reveals that since the start of 2009, Pandora has also spent $183.9m on product development costs, $959.1m on sales and marketing, and $1.7bn on content acquisition costs. Read More
Foo Fighters Release New EP For Free – The new EP is called ‘Saint Cecilia’ with the band using the release to pay tribute to the victims of the attacks in Paris earlier this month. Read More
Barack Obama To Sing On Coldplay’s Next Album – “We have a tiny clip of the president singing ‘Amazing Grace’,” front man Chris Martin told the British tabloid The Sun. A person close to the band said they received “permission from Obama himself and the Charleston church it was recorded in.” Read More
Major Labels Won’t Get Higher Royalty Rates in Webcasting IV – The possibility that different types of labels could be paid different royalties was put to rest by the Register of Copyrights regarding Webcasting IV, the rate-setting procedure that will establish the royalties non-interactive webcasters like Pandora must pay record labels and artists from 2016 to 2020. Read More
Speaking of royalties, are you curious when various PROs will deliver royalties? Here’s a list of every PRO’s pay-out dates.
Posted by Glen Sears | November 23, 2015 11:38 am | No Comments
Story of the Week
Pandora Acquires Bankrupt Rdio For $75 Million, Plans Global Expansion
Consolidation in streaming music has begun, though perhaps a bit earlier than expected. Pandora is acquiring “the technology and intellectual property” of streaming music service Rdio for $75 million, and will use the assets to compete with Spotify, Apple Music and others.
The bid comes as Pandora, whose user growth has slowed to just 3%, searches for new avenues of expansion. “We seek to be the definitive source for music discovery and enjoyment globally,” Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews told Variety. The music streamer plans to offer “full on-demand paid subscription” over time. “We plan to substantially broaden our subscription business.”
McAndrews said that Pandora chose Rdio because it had “the best product” in subscription streaming. “We just were really enamored with their product.”
Read more on Hypebot: http://bit.ly/1XmbxV5
Top News Stories
Pandora Didn’t Buy Rdio Because It Was $220m In Debt – “The business was challenged, and financially would have been a drain for us,” Pandora CFO Mike Herring told analysts. The scale of that challenge was revealed overnight in Rdio’s bankruptcy filing. Read More
The Pros And Cons Of Pandora’s Rdio Acquisition – On the surface it seems like a huge positive for the company, but there are also a few potential land mines that come with the deal. Read More
Spotify Claims Users Listen 1.7bn Hours Each Month – The listening statistics closely match those published by Pandora. Once Pandora moves into on-demand in 2016 – licensing deals allowing – the two companies could become fierce rivals. Read More
Bye Bye Beats, So Long Zune – Apple, Microsoft Retire Major Digital Music Brands – Two major digital music brands are being retired. Apple is shuttering its Beats Music service and pushing users to Apple Music; and Microsoft is shuttering one of the original digital music services Zune. Read More
New Board Elected For Digital Rights Group Merlin – North American reps include Epitaph, CV America, Secret City Records, Tommy Boy and the Secretly Group. “[We are] delighted that so many of our members took the opportunity to vote in this election.” Read More
Adele’s ’25’ Won’t Be On Streaming Services – This is sure to increase 25’s chances of breaking *NSYNC’s record for the biggest first-week sales of the Nielsen/SoundScan era (1991-present). Read More
Robert Sillerman Pulls Third Bid to Buy Back SFX – In a company memo acquired by The Wall Street Journal, he explained that with prices so low ($0.41/share as of Thursday morning), “the time is not right to go forward on this path.” Read More
YouTube To Pay Fees For Some Video Makers To Fight Takedowns – The video giant said on Thursday that it would pick up the legal costs of a handful of video creators that the company thinks are the targets of unfair takedown demands. Read More
RIAA Introduces A Hi-Res Music Logo – The logo, and a definition of what constitutes hi-res, are intended to be displayed by distributors so music consumers will have no confusion over what kind of fidelity to expect. Read More
Curious why all music streaming services aren’t ‘high-definition?’ Read our explanation of the huge infrastructure costs on Medium.
Posted by Glen Sears | November 16, 2015 11:12 am | No Comments
Story of the Week
YouTube (Finally) Releases Its Music App
YouTube is already, not-so-secretly, the king of the music streaming hill, with 60 percent of people saying they use YouTube to listen to music some or most of the time, according to Edison Research’s “Infinite Dial 2015” report. The majority — 83 percent — of 12-24 year-olds say YouTube is how they keep up-to-date with music. “YouTube as a music channel is as mainstream as all of online audio put together,” the report says.
YouTube has been the subject of scrutiny over its pay to creators and rights holders, though those figures seem to be rising sharply, having paid $3 billion to rights holders since the company’s launch in 2005, a figure that stood at $1 billion in February 2014. With subscriptions bringing in additional revenue that volume will continue to tick upwards. (Randomly, the company’s blog post on the app launch points out that a windowing strategy for new releases — or at least, singles — isn’t encouraged. “Just this month,” Fowler writes, “Adele’s ‘Hello’ became the fastest rising video of the year on YouTube, while also breaking the record for first week download sales.” Whether that could be true for any other artist in the world remains to be seen.) The company says it has solved the problem of monetizing user-generated content — Billboard is still awaiting an answer on the complicated question of payouts on derivative works like Boiler Room sets.
In a congested market, YouTube has every advantage, and the two that matter most especially: money and ubiquity. Now they have a useful music app, too — as long as you pay.
Read more on Billboard: http://bit.ly/1ONpkVo
Posted by Glen Sears | November 9, 2015 10:57 am | No Comments
Story of the Week
Napster Relaunches in Canada as Subscription Music Streamer
Long after Napster transformed the music and tech worlds before a court-ordered closure in 2001, the one-time file-sharing site has returned to Canada as a subscription online music service.
The Canadian relaunch gives consumers online streaming and offline playback access to around 35 million songs for CAN$9.99 (US$7.65) a month. The music streaming service was legally available here for seven years until 2011, when Napster left the Canadian market after being acquired by U.S.-based Rhapsody International, its current owner.
Napster’s new Canadian service, available on the iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Web, Sonos and Chromecast platforms, has hand-curated playlists and local artists like Shawn Mendes.
Read more on Billboard: http://bit.ly/1L6QgI5
Other Top Stories
SoundCloud Launches ‘Pulse,’ Dedicated App for Creators – Key features include: Reply to comments on tracks directly through the app, up-to-date stats on the performance of tracks, share sounds already uploaded, and follow other users. Read More
Adele’s ‘Hello’ Has Biggest Sales Week for a Single Since Elton John’s Princess Diana Tribute in 1997 – It’s the first song ever to sell at least 1 million downloads in a week. Read More
Adam Levine On Record Labels: ‘No One Knows What They’re Doing.’ – Adam Levine and his band Maroon 5 are clearly products of the big label, big media system. That didn’t stop him from having some harsh words for record labels. Read More
Value of U.K. Music Industry Grows to $6.3 Billion – At a time when grassroots venues across the United Kingdom are finding it increasingly difficult to survive, a new report outlining the value of the British music industry illustrates the sector’s importance to the country’s financial well-being. Read More
Facebook Announces New ‘Music Stories’ Feature – Beginning last week, songs shared either through a URL or “Share on Facebook” button within Spotify and Apple Music will appear in the news feeds of iOS users as 30-second song samples. Read More
Sony/ATV Announces Direct Licensing Deal With Pandora – This pre-empts any future change to collective licensing rules Stateside, and means America’s biggest streaming service will now agree rates directly with the Sony publishing firm, rather than relying on fees set in the country’s rate courts. Read More
Posted by Glen Sears | November 4, 2015 1:12 pm | No Comments
(Additional contribution by Dan Charlson & Amy Vandergon)
Structuring data so it can be easily interpreted and transported is critical for modern digital music infrastructures. The most common structured data solutions are called Markup Languages, which take an exceptionally simple approach to structure.
Markup languages simply mark sections of a document (hence “markup”) with a descriptive label called a “tag.” These tags are then used by other software to properly display or ingest that data.
Markup languages typically consist of regular words rather than code syntax and symbols. This makes them more user-friendly, often possible to interpret by eye alone. The two most popular markup languages are HTML and XML. XML is also known by its long-form name: eXtensible Markup Language.
What is XML?
Markup languages don’t actually perform operations. Their job is to describe and organize data for software that understands those descriptions, and can execute the data. HTML is made up of tags (<head>, <body>, <div>, <p>, etc) that were agreed upon when the language was built. Every HTML developer must use only these tags to categorize data, or the software built to interpret and display the data (web browsers) will not render the elements correctly.
XML differs in that it allows a developer to create any tag they like. This is why it is known as extensible. XML developers are not limited to a predefined set of tags to describe elements of data. Data can be organized with any tag imaginable. While XML resembles HTML, its data structuring potential is far greater. In a sense, XML is a framework that allows you to create your own language for describing and transporting data.
Computer systems often contain data in incompatible formats. To move data between these systems, large amounts must be converted and incompatible data is often lost. Industries, organizations, and developer communities agree on XML specifications or standards for this reason. This makes the creation of compatible software programs easy, regardless of how they’re built or where they’re situated.
XML is a common choice for exporting structured data and for sharing data between programs or companies.
How does XML service digital music?
Let’s say Company A wants to send Company B information about a new music album. If they were using email, Company A would simply write the information down in an easy-to-understand human format. Company B could then take that information and enter it properly into their system.
Title – Album Title
Artist – Album Artist
Track 1 – Track Name
Track 2 – Track Name
Track 3 – …
But—what if Company A wanted to send the information from their system directly into Company B’s system? Since the systems are almost certainly not compatible, there must be an intermediary step where the data is re-written in a common language. This is where XML comes in. The two companies agree on a set of XML tags and their hierarchy (referred to as a “schema”), then map those values to their own systems. It may look something like this:
While to a human the data looks virtually identical, digital systems can process data written in a common tongue much more easily. XML allows digital music services to transmit and synchronize massive amounts of content information between incompatible systems easily and accurately.
How does MediaNet use XML?
As shown above, XML is a critical part of digital music data delivery to MediaNet. Without XML feeds, content data being added to or updated in our library would require large databases or spreadsheets. Each addition (or batch of additions) would require a human to package it and send it to us, where another human would then integrate it into our system.
Thanks to XML, this is not necessary. Every time a new piece of data needs to be added to the MediaNet catalog by our Content Partners, it is simply added to the feed and picked up by our system.
MediaNet maintains its own sophisticated XML content ingestion schema. It consists of over 30 top-level elements, expanded into 100s of metadata sub-values indicating data points such as rights, territory, currency, and usage for every track, album, artist, and composer. All told, a typical album can consist of more than 3,000 lines of XML markup—information that ensures data is ingested into our systems accurately and completely.
What challenges does XML pose?
While the beauty of XML is its dead-simple nature, that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges in using it. Beyond the inherent possibility of coding errors, the most common XML challenge is also one of its most useful features: automation.
Using XML with custom software platforms means the schema must be agreed upon at both ends of the feed. Both tags and the acceptable values inside these tags are built into the automated software that receives them. This automation can easily be tripped up if the XML schema or acceptable values are improperly entered.
Most systems require XML information to be two things:
- Well-formed – meaning that it adheres to the XML spec itself
- Valid – that it properly follows the schema
Errors in either of these categories can cause XML data transfers to stutter or fail entirely.
How does MediaNet help solve those challenges?
Such automation and data input errors can, but don’t have to, halt or destroy XML data transport. MediaNet uses a 3-part system to resolve feed errors, enhance data, and keep transports running smoothly:
- Erroneous data is identified and filtered from the feed into a separate error queue, leaving the rest of the feed free to ingest into our system.
- Our Content Operations Team prioritizes and manages our error queue daily to avoid long-stay metadata errors, and resolves many in the process.
- Our Rights Management Team manually uncovers and verifies additional information and data to ensure rich, accurate entries.
While our systems are automated by using the most effective language for collaborative data exchange, ensuring the highest possible quality of data still requires a human touch.
MediaNet’s data is the cleanest, most accurate data in the music industry because our database is built on an unbeatable combination of enterprise technology and human intuition. We are almost always able to resolve XML feed errors without any need for Content Partner involvement.
XML is the humble technology that drives many of the most successful digital music technologies. Digital music infrastructure costs would rise dramatically without it. The degree of difficulty for integrating systems would increase.
Most importantly, the extensibility of digital music systems to flex and change with need would disappear.
Posted by Glen Sears | November 2, 2015 1:15 pm | No Comments
Story of the Week
That Study on Spotify Everyone’s Talking About? It’s Wrong, and That’s Not Even the Point
The working paper — a collaboration between the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (a division of the Europen Commission’s Joint Research Center — was written by Luis Aguiar (of IPTS) and Joel Waldfogel (of the NBER and the University of Minnesota), received a great amount of attention after an article appeared on Slate on October 30. (Because it’s a working paper, it has not been peer reviewed and hasn’t been published.) It searches for a relationship between streaming and music industry revenues by examining Spotify streams, music piracy and music sales across multiple countries.
The study was unable to differentiate between Spotify’s free and premium tiers. It’s possible free streams affect track sales differently than streams by subscribers. What’s more, it’s possible — as some labels allege — that Spotify’s unlimited free tier, supported by advertisements and meant to encourage listeners to upgrade to the premium service, discourage listeners from becoming subscribers. (Spotify would undoubtedly argue differently.)
“In other words, we don’t know which portion of any lost revenue in the sales market could be attributed to Spotify, exclusively,” Touve writes. “And yet, the… paper essentially treats the situation as if the entirety of any decrease in unit sales can be explained by adoption of Spotify alone.”
Read more on Billboard: http://bit.ly/1P6uZ8U
Other Top News
Deezer Abandons IPO Plans – Apple Music’s damage to Pandora contributed to Deezer’s decision Tuesday to pull its initial public stock offering. Read More
YouTube Red Is Now Live! – Creators To Be Paid During Free Trials – Google’s YouTube launched its paid video and music subscription service today. YouTube Red ad free $9.99 per month subscriptions extend across devices and platforms. Read More
Apple Music By The Numbers [Mark Mulligan] – Apple CEO Tim Cook recently announced that Apple Music has 6.5 millions paid subscribers. While a promising figure on its face, it seems unlikely that all these listeners will continue paying past the first month. This article breaks down Apple Music’s most recent statistics, offering us some idea of where the streaming service is headed financially. Read More
European Parliament Rejects Net Neutrality Protections – Proponents of net neutrality suffered a major setback Tuesday when European politicians voted against enshrining in law the concept of treating all online data equally. Read More
SXSW Responds to Panel Cancellation Backlash, Announces Day-Long Summit – “By canceling two sessions we sent an unintended message that SXSW not only tolerates online harassment but condones it, and for that we are truly sorry. While we made the decision in the interest of safety for all of our attendees, canceling sessions was not an appropriate response… It is clear that online harassment is a problem that requires more than two panel discussions to address. To that end, we’ve added a day-long summit to examine this topic.” Read More
Could Adele Be The Last Hurrah Of The Album Era? – As the listening public waits with bated breath for the release of Adele’s upcoming album ’25,’ the question is being raised as to how much longer even superstar artists like Adele can expect to achieve blockbuster success when it comes to selling their albums. Read More
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