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The Top 146 Songs of 2015 in the U.S. & Canada

Posted by Glen Sears | January 26, 2016 12:15 pm | No Comments

top songs 2015 digital radio streaming
Every year billions of digital music streams are played through our partner services and served up by the MediaNet platform. These diverse services encompass on-demand streaming, paid downloads, online radio, and more. MediaNet’s 49M track catalog gives the users of these services unprecedented access to digital music—but which songs are the most popular?
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Music News Recap: 25M Listeners Want To Pay For HD Audio (Maybe), Streaming Revenue Doubles, Deezer & SFX Financials

Posted by Glen Sears | January 25, 2016 10:14 am | No Comments

high definition lossless music streaming

Story of the Week

25 Million People Are Willing to Pay More for Better Sound Quality (Maybe)
Lossless streaming audio, often referred to as “high-definition” music, is enjoying something of a slow burn. HD audio is the defining feature of TIDAL, and Neil Young’s Pono music player promises to “stand up for sound.” We’ve written before about why most digital music services aren’t high-definition, and it comes down to two points: high cost and low market demand. Now a study unveiled by MusicWatch challenges one of those factors.

MusicWatch has shared research into consumer sentiment about what listeners want in a music streaming subscription. When asked what feature would encourage them to pay for their tunes, far and away the top answer was control over a completely on-demand service at 39%. However, 11% said “sound quality as good as the recording studio.” According to MusicWatch Managing Partner Russ Crupnick, that’s an estimated 25 million people voicing willingness to pay for better audio.

While encouraging for pristine audio evangelists, one of the most interesting facets to the results was that while “recording studio” quality clocked in second, the option of sound that’s “better than MP3; as good as CD or vinyl” would only motivate 6% to upgrade to paying customers. Crupnick interpreted this as a sign that highly technical jargon may not be the best way to explain the benefits or features of better-quality audio. Either way, the question remains whether or not these estimated 25 million people would be willing to pay the premium required for HD audio—especially as they already have the option.

Read more on RAIN News, Digital Music News, and MusicWatch.

Top News Stories

Is There A Streaming Music Ceiling? According to music industry writer Cortney Harding, streaming services don’t make economic sense for the vast majority of music consumers when free options like YouTube and ad-supported Spotify exist.

App Annie Report 2015: Music Streaming Revenue Doubles. “The decline in digital music sales is a trend that will most likely continue in 2016… and is likely to receive another boost as underpenetrated markets such as Japan finally reach a tipping point.”

Apple Music Reportedly Has 300K Subscribers in Russia. Russian business newspaper Vedomosti claims that “Russia is quite likely to be on the top five of Apple Music biggest markets” – with figures backed up by Billboard’s industry sources there.

Study Finds Digital Music Sales the Least Hurt By Piracy…Eight Years Ago. A new research paper (that focuses on some fairly old data) delves into the relationship between file sharing and music sales.

Deezer Raises $109 Million From WMG Parent and Telecom Giant. CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht says the “vast majority” of the funding from Access Industries and Orange will address Deezer’s biggest challenge, customer acquisition.

SFX Borrows $20M At 20% Interest, Uses Promoter ID&T As Collateral. To avoid bankruptcy, CEO Robert Sillerman have secured a bridge loan under very unfavorable terms to keep the company afloat.

Is There a Music Tech Bubble? Billboard Senior Editorial Analyst Glenn Peoples claims “sky-high valuation” and “runaway funding” mean the music industry should be thinking about life after streaming.

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Music News Recap: Soundcloud Signs UMG, SFXE Gets Another Lifeline, iTunes Radio Goes Paid

Posted by Glen Sears | January 19, 2016 10:47 am | No Comments

Soundcloud Universal Music Group MediaNet

Story of the Week

Soundcloud Strikes Licensing Deal With Universal Music Group
The agreement covers SoundCloud’s planned expansion of advertising on its free service, which has 175 million monthly listeners, as well as its plans to introduce subscription services in the US and other markets later this year.

“At UMG, we have long ­embraced empowering entrepreneurs and innovative services such as SoundCloud,” said Universal chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge, in a statement. “With this partnership, we’re ensuring recording artists, songwriters and labels benefit, both creatively and commercially, from the exciting new forms of music community engagement on SoundCloud. We look forward to working with SoundCloud and supporting the company’s evolution into a successful commercial service.”

SoundCloud now has deals with Universal and Warner; with indie-labels licensing agency Merlin; with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) in the US and with PRS for Music in the UK – having settled the latter’s recent copyright infringement lawsuit. The Universal deal, like those other agreements, covers tracks added to SoundCloud by labels and artists, but also user-generated content: remixes and mash-ups, which have been both one of the key attractions of SoundCloud for music fans, and one of its biggest headaches from a copyright perspective.

Read more on Music Ally

Top News Stories

YouTube Launches in Pakistan, Where It Is Banned. The launch is seen as a positive step in lifting the blockade, put in place after the emergence of an American-made video that depicted the Prophet Mohammed in a negative light.

Apple Will Start Charging for iTunes Radio. The Pandora-like online radio service will only be available for Apple Music paid subscribers paying $9.99 per month, the company said in a statement.

SFX’s Bumpy Ride Continues With $20 Million in New Financing. The troubled EDM promoter, having just defaulted on a loan, revealed Friday it raised $20 million “for itself and certain of its operating subsidiaries.”

The Spotify/Genius Deal Has Potential. Stuart Dredge claims the partnership for displaying contextual content for songs “may be a gimmick that gets quietly forgotten by 2017, but the potential is there for it to be more.”

Labels Still Don’t Get YouTube. Analyst Mark Mulligan says the consumption of music on YouTube has seen incredible growth, but if labels don’t update how they’re using the platform, they risk of being edged out by YouTube’s native content creators.

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Music News Recap: US, UK Streaming Way Up, Downloads Way Down, Studies Claim To Know Why

Posted by Glen Sears | January 11, 2016 10:26 am | No Comments

Music streaming grows, downloads shrink

Story of the Week

US & UK Streaming Numbers Were Way Up, But At What Cost?
In 2015, overall US music consumption tracked by Nielsen Music grew 15.2 percent to 549.4 million track equivalent albums and streaming equivalent albums, a 93% increase. The UK now follows an increasingly familiar European narrative of strong streaming growth helping bring total markets back to growth. Sales revenue increased 3.5% to reach £1.1 billion while total streams increased by 85% to reach 53.7 billion, with audio stream representing 49.9% of that total.

Crucially for those in the music industry, this rapid increase in streaming doesn’t come without a cost. While streams increased by 257% between 2013 and 2015, download sales decreased by 23%. And of course the vast majority of that streaming volume came from free streams, not paid. There are a number of theories. One from MusicWatch’s Russ Crupnick claims about 50 million of the 120 million people using music audio and video streaming sites won’t pay to stream—the remainder will be difficult to reach.

US UK streaming up downloads down

Another explanation is digital deflation, a term that explains how content loses value when consumption switches from physical to digital formats. (In economics the term refers to the idea that digital technologies lead to greater productivity and cheaper prices.) It’s too early to say if streaming will further the digital deflation in music, but it doesn’t appear to be reversing the effect. But streaming revenue is more complicated than download revenue. Royalties paid to rights holders can depend on a number of factors: streaming activity, label market share, advertising rates, the number of subscribers to premium services and the amounts paid to those services.

The download to streaming transition is an inevitability, whatever business models are wrapped around it. It is part of the fundamental shift from ownership to access of which streaming music is but single component. It comprises consumers progressively replacing one behaviour with another. We all just have to learn how to thrive in that new ecosystem.

Read more on Billboard, Reuters, and the MiDiA Blog

Top News Stories

BPI Study Asks Why Fans Pay For Streaming Music, What Makes Them Convert From Free. The study suggests that there are really a variety of factors including exclusive features that motivate users to lay down their credit card.

iHeartMedia Announces Digital Expansion Into Canada. In partnership with Bell Media, the deal will encompass everything from live and televised events to content on car dashboards, handheld devices and consumer electronics, putting Bell Media ahead of its direct media competitors in Canada.

Breakdown: Pandora’s Ticketly Acquisition in Numbers. In 2014, Ticketfly had revenue of $55.0 million, an operating loss of $8.9 million and a net loss of $9.5 million. In the first three quarters of 2015, it had revenue of $52.8 million, a $12.3 million operating loss and a $13.9 million net loss. (See the full figures here.)

SFX Entertainment Explores Bankruptcy, Hires Restructuring Experts. Only 26 Weeks after a $260M IPO, SFX is exploring the protections available in federal bankruptcy, according to a new SEC filing. It has hired restructuring experts TI Consulting to lead the effort.

Surprising Discoveries

40% Of Customers Would Change Providers If Music Came With Their Mobile Plan. A new survey suggests that mobile bundling may be a more effective way to gain users, and confirms why mobile carriers need to be more aggressive with their music offering.

Apple Music’s App Has More Users Than Spotify’s. The Apple Music app is allegedly now the 9th largest smartphone app, with 54.5 million users, outpacing both Spotify and Pandora. Whether these users count as actually “active” however, is questionable.

Researcher Claims Labels Still Don’t Get YouTube, And It’s Costing Them. “Record labels and artists can seize some control of their destiny, by taking a more sophisticated view of YouTube and exploring how to build strategies that work for YouTube in 2016.”

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Music News Recap: USCO to Review Safe Harbors, SFXE Continues Decline, Spotify in Legal Trouble

Posted by Glen Sears | January 4, 2016 10:40 am | No Comments

US Copyright Office safe harbors medianet

Story of the Week

U.S. Copyright Office to Review Safe Harbor Provisions
The U.S. Copyright Office announced that it is undertaking a public study of the country’s safe harbor provisions. Section 512 was introduced in 1998 as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and its safe harbor laws provide some liability limitations on usage for Internet-based services.

The rules focus on protecting services from liability due to copyright infringements occurring in user-generated content, such as video or audio creations. To qualify for safe harbor protections, the online platform usually needs to offer a process for quickly addressing any infringements in uploaded material. The Copyright Office will undertake a review of the impact and effectiveness of the existing safe harbor provisions, including the costs and burdens of the notice-and-takedown process for copyright owners of all sizes, online service providers, and the general public.

Read more on RAIN News: http://bit.ly/1UqQ8cY

Top News Stories

Trademark Filings Point To 4 More Apple Music Beats Stations
Apple Music has filed for trademarks for the names B2, B3, B4 and B5 along with accompanying logos for Beats 2, Beats 3 Beats 4 and Beats 5. The logos match the one currently used by Apple Music’s flagship station. Beats 1.

SFX Defaults on Spotify Deal, Loses a Good Company, and Major Exec Prospect
SFX chairman and CEO Robert Sillerman’s troubled dance event company has defaulted on its content agreement with Spotify, refunding the $10 million licensing advance first announced this past summer. Adding to the company’s troubles, SFX has parted ways with the company behind artist management firm TMWRK.

Spotify Hit With $150 Million Class Action Over Unpaid Royalties
David Lowery, retaining the law firm of Michelman & Robinson, LLP, has filed a class action lawsuit seeking at least $150 million in damages against Spotify. The lawsuit comes amidst ongoing settlement negotiations between Spotify and the National Music Publishers Assn. over the alleged use of allowing users to play music that hasn’t been properly licensed.

Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister Remembered: A Hero, Rock Star, Warrior, Pirate, Legend, Human
“With respect to Lemmy, remember this — he rocked hard and true for fans around the world, never resting too long, never selling out. Missing. But never forgotten. Horns and halos, my friend.”

Russia Vows to Ban Most Popular Torrent Sites
Roskomnadzor, which regulates the Russian telecom and media industries, has decided to permanently block the country’s 15 most popular torrent sites next year in a move to crack down on piracy.

Cord Cutters Wreaked Havoc on Entertainment, Media Stocks in 2015
Media giant Viacom reported weaker cable networks profit figures for its latest fiscal year, and Walt Disney and others acknowledged subscriber declines, fueling worries that consumers are cutting the cable cord and tapping the Internet for entertainment.

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