Imogen Heap using Blockchain Technology for the Future of the Music Industry

Singer/songwriter Imogen Heap recently is taking a stance to the way in which she wants to sell her music, use her music, and expand her music. Imogen heap is best known for her unique sound and use of musical gloves in recent performances and more importantly an award-winning songwriter and performing who, so far, is the only female artist to have won a Grammy for engineering. After reading an article on The Guardian earlier today I found that Heap, like many artists, is fed up with not being compensated for her work and furthermore not having her work used and listened to as intended. Soon after releasing her album Sparks Heap looked into new ways of releasing her music and came across blockchaining. Blockchaining is broadly used amongst programmers and tech geeks and is used as a peer-to-peer payment system done through a uniquely created database cutting out the extra people involved in a company and instead linking individuals through verifying transactions. In a musical sense, Heap is looking to do this through sharing her music between other artists, film directors, commercial use, and the common music consumer. Through having her music on her own platform, which she calls Mycelia, she can connect one on one with other creators looking to use or branch off of her work. Another benefit to showcasing her work like this is that it also gives the artist more ownership of their work by having simple contracts that state what terms the music would be used to download for. This gives her a record of who is using it for what and a better way to have a latch of her own music. She looks to creating a community of music lovers combined with artists a like to share interest and learn from others work. Heap takes it a step further with making her lyrics, photographs, instruments used, and names of other musicians she’s played with accessible to the public.

More and more artists are taking steps like these to ensure they are getting what they want out of their work and ultimately bringing together a group of people who want to work and learn together. At first it has to start with bigger name artists that have a following and once it is recognized globally newer artists can tag along.

I personal feel that this also gives other in the industry and fans a better understanding of what that artist is like and see a more personable side to them. As is, that is what we are losing a bit more now a days with streaming. Before you would hear a song, look up the artist, listen to more of their songs, buy their album and fall in love with them. We need that back in order for artists work to be appreciated. Fortunately and unfortunately artists have more power than they think, just ask Taylor Swift. They just need to be the ones to make a stance, broadcast it to their fans, and make that difference in the industry we have been waiting for.

If you’d like to hear more about Imogen Heap’s input on the matter along with a team of others in the industry take a look at the video below.

Technology Changes Everything.

If there is one thing that has become quite obvious is that technology has the power to change everything. It has certainly transformed the music industry throughout the years! From the way we make music to the way we produce it. From the way we source music to the way we listen to it. It can be said that technology has affected the music industry in both positive and negative ways. The short clip above provides an excellent example of this.

If you were to type “technology and the music industry” into the multiple search engines that are available to us, you would soon discover that the majority of the articles out there focus on the negative effects technology has brought to the music industry. It is important to point out that technological advances have not only affected music but also publishing, television, radio, and the news. While it is true that perhaps technology has had a negative impact on the music industry (as well as other industries), there are many other changes that have been positive.

Today, I am choosing to focus on the positive as it is important to recognize favorable disruption. Let’s look at the short clip below.

Positive changes in the music industry (thanks to technological advances) include: consumers having access to music more than ever before, online music education availability, new musical instruments, access to digital tools (by both artists and consumers), artist collaboration increase, artistic control and independence, artist and fan communication/interaction via social media channels, crowd funding platforms, etc. All these changes continue to ultimately shape the music industry today.

Though there are many who feel nostalgic when thinking about the way the music industry used to be, it is important to appreciate the way the music industry is now. It will never be the way it used to be. In other words, it is important to see the good and bad (without specifically focusing on the bad). I am not saying the music industry is perfect. In fact, there are many things that could be improved. I am simply saying that technology should not to be seen as evil. It is important to embrace it and welcome the changes technological advances may continue to bring.

Raw talent first performance

I’ve been representing Nayvia for some months now. She’s a talented girl that never took any sort of voice education but still can do what you can see in the video of this post.

It’s a very special and satisfactory challenge that actually demands more patience than it usually needs. It’s special because you’re building an artist from scratch, you’re trying to let the new talent learn a ton of new things, learn how to communicate with musicians that actually have been in the business for a while. It’s a constant struggle with simple but huge insecurities and interests.

It’s satisfactory, because every step Nayvia takes, don’t matter how big it is, it feels like it’s being a huge one. Jon O’Hara and myself are always having our jaw dropped when we hear her during rehearsal. Every time she sings I can see how she gets more and more convinced that maybe her voice it’s her biggest asset, I can see her dancing while practicing her song and having a dumb smile that she can not contain.

Jon O’Hara, just finished Nayvia’s first song, they have been rehearsing and working on its details. In less than a month they will be recording it in a professional studio with some professional artist and professional sound engineers. I’m not sure if she realizes how big is this recording going to be. Jon and myself are convincing some artists from Berklee to get involved in this project and we are getting good response so this dream is about to come true.

Next step it’s making a photo shoot to Nayvia so hopefully next time you read something from me, you’ll see a beautiful picture of her in the post.

The Music & Technology Relationship? It’s Complicated.

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There is no doubt that music and technology have continued to evolve both separately and together throughout the years. Technology has the power to seriously complement or hinder music. On the other hand, music has the power to help increase technology sales. Perhaps this all means that music and technology should simply work together as much as possible as opposed to against each other. Let’s take a look at some of the most recent news regarding the music and technology relationship…

Apple-Beats

Apple recently confirmed a decrease in downloads. Maybe this is one of the reasons why Apple acquired Beats earlier this year. Using Beats, Apple can easily gain the kind of simplicity it has been craving in the music streaming sector. In fact, a good example of this can be the recent Southwest Airlines and Apple partnership agreement. Southwest Airlines now offers free music streaming thanks to Apple’s Beats music service!

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Streaming is definitely the way music is heard these days. It is no wonder that Apple is interested in improving their music streaming services and pricing as Spotify revenues rose in 2013 and the music service turned to profit. Spotify also launched a family plan with cheaper subscription options recently as well. Despite all its good news, Spotify was caught a bit off guard when Taylor Swift surprisingly pulled her music from them. It will be interesting to see if this will affect Spotify success.

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Pandora is now giving artists the data it stores from the audience members. However, Pandora is not the only one doing this. Both Spotify and The Next Big Sound have also taken the same initiative. Data enables artists to grow and enhance their careers in a proactive way. By better understanding the audience members, artists are be able to improve musical content they offer and better engage with their followers. It is obvious why data continues to become so important! These companies definitely want to stay ahead of the game by providing artists with this free data.

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Next, news regarding a touchy subject: Piracy! For those that are still trying to illegally download music, Google is now using its search data to point those users towards legal sources through ads whenever words like “free” and “download” are searched in the Google search engine. Piracy has been a continuous problem so it is good to see that Google is playing its part to help regulate music consumption. There are still a large debate questioning whether this approach is enough when it comes to dealing with this issues..

imagesYouTube plans to launch its own subscription service called MusicKey. This is not exactly new news as there have been talks about this for a while now. Although YouTube’s CEO stated she is positive about this subscription service, 25% consumers say they will never pay for a subscription service since they can already find all the music they want using YouTube.

Looking at all these news, it is clear that music and technology continue to be very much connected. Sometimes it can be a complicated relationship. Music and technology have become so closely connected that it makes the relationship an incredibly powerful tool though. Technology alone and music alone cannot succeed in saving the music business. It is by coming together that this relationship can become less complicated as it provides the millennials, those tech-empowered fans, with the ability to become closer to the content they love, align with their socioeconomic surroundings, and follow the new cultural norms. This is what should save the music industry in the future.

To view the article that served as inspiration for this blog post, visit this link – http://blog.midem.com/2014/11/news-review-technology/#.VFoBJZV0zmI

Pono, the answer to the music industry’s prayers?

Everyone knows that the advent of the mp3 sent the music industry into a frenzy trying to adapt to the digital word.  What with piracy, streaming, and iTunes taking over as the main sources to find, discover, and acquire music the industry is continually met with new opponents.  Many argue that the dominance of the mp3 and digital music has somewhat devalued music and created passive mentality when purchasing music.  After reading various articles and listening to various speakers talk to us about the future of the industry many seem to be waiting for a new product,service, or device that brings back a value in music that was taken away when the mp3 was introduced.  Que, PONO.

The mother of all formats

Pono-logo

Singer-songwriter Neil Young announced that he will be initiating a Kickstarter-funded music service, PonoMusic, and player to deliver high-quality digital sounds. The Kickstarter campaign launched on March 15 and  in the span of about a week and a half as already surpassed its goal of 800,000 to about 4.5 million dollars coming from 13,522 pledgers. Here is a video of Neil Young attempting to explain what Pono is all about.

Most of the conversation with Letterman focused on the new quality that the product will be providing.  ˝The project grew out of Young’s dissatisfaction with the quality of digital recordings after the music industry shifted to the MP3 format˝ and wanting to ˝move digital music into the 21st century”.  The triangle-shaped PonoPlayer will cost $399 and can also be ordered with a discount through the projects Kickstarter, according to the site the player will have enough memory to contain as many as 2,000 albums with memory cards can be used to store more.  So what differentiates this PonoPayer from the likes of iPods?  Well Neil Young says its the quality.  Instead of focusing on a player that can hold all the music in the world this product will hold less but have more quality content.   The Pono mission is as follows;

Pono’s mission is to provide the best possible listening experience of your favorite music. We want to be very clear that PonoMusic is not a new audio file format or standard. PonoMusic is an end-to-end ecosystem for music lovers to get access to and enjoy their favorite music exactly as the artist created it, at the recording resolution they chose in the studio. We offer PonoMusic customers the highest resolution digital music available. PonoMusic is more than just a high-resolution music store and player; it is a grassroots movement to keep the heart of music beating. PonoMusic aims to preserve the feeling, spirit, and emotion that the artists put in their original studio recordings.

So is this the answer to the music industries prayers?  Will it instill a greater sense of value for music due to the focus on quality in sound? Maybe Record Labels can adapt some of Young’s ideas and develop a product incorporates this quality sound into a device consisting of an artist album and additional material, just at thought?

To make your own opinion, check out some more information with testimonials in the video below.

Sources

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-10/neil-young-to-start-kickstarter-funded-music-service-with-player.html

http://www.ponomusic.com/#home

 

Microsoft announces Xbox Music

Microsoft is the latest name to be added to the list of companies competing in the digital music arena – The company announced their new Xbox Music service earlier this week, featuring the usual perks digital music companies are offering, with a few twists:

– The free streaming service claims it is one of the largest digital music catalogs on the planet, going so far to boast that you can “listen for over 80 years and never hear the same song twice.” This may be of huge interests to current users of Pandora, sick of the same songs played over and over again on certain stations.
– Cloud connected, so users can sync their Xbox Music Pass collection and playlists across your tablet, PC, phone, and Xbox 360 (currently, you can sync iTunes to the cloud, but iTunes is not also a streaming service),

Xbox Music will ship free bundled on every new Windows 8 PC. The basic paid Xbox Music Pass service will cost $9.99/month (similar to most other streaming services) and $99.99/year. Xbox Music will replace Microsoft’s previous failed attempt at the digital music sector, its Zune music service. Speaking of Zune, I find it hard for consumers to become interested in trying Microsoft’s new service because of negative associations with Zune. I find it likely that only consumers that purchase a new Microsoft computer may ever try the service, and only consumers that already have Xboxs may actually use the paid service. Also, I find the video very unsettling in terms of brand image and target market. The video feels very bland, uninspiring, and on top of this all, the unoriginal logo for the service makes an overall unenticing package – At least for me, personally (a Mac user, nonetheless).

What do you think, does Xbox Music have a chance at the digital music market?

Digital Music Arena – Part 1: Rdio’s Artist Program

During the first few times I posted here I wasn’t quite sure what my theme was going to be for the semester.  I’ve decided to track and provide commentary on what’s going on in the digital music arena, particularly streaming services, applications and websites contending to win over the 21st century attention-deficit music fans who have a million of ways to choose from to access music.  I think this is an important issue to follow because new developments in this arena are happening every day as consumers appear to be shifting more and more away from physical music formats, opting for digital ones.

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This first entry is about the streaming service Rdio.com, and their innovative strategy to lure paying customers to their service.

Rdio recently announced the release of their Artist Program, which incites artists to lure new subscribers on to the service by offering artists $10 for every new subscriber.  As Brian Bishop of The Verge remarks, “By paying artists to take advantage of its service, Rdio extends a hand to acts looking for additional revenue streams, and then every link and tweet an artist pushes serves as an advertisement for Rdio itself. It also lays the groundwork for Rdio to become a true social engagement platform in its own right.”

It is too early to tell whether or not the program will be successful in the long run – This will depend on whether or not artists participate in the program and if the practice becomes popular with other artists over time.  Well known artists such as Snoop Dogg, excuse me, Snoop Lion, Scissor Sisters and Chromeo are already participating in the program, however since these artists have a large fan base, it makes sense they would use the program).  It is unclear whether the program is economically viable for the majority of artists without millions of fans, but time will tell….  Any more developments on this program will be covered in future blog entries.

Currently, Rdio’s subscription plans are as follows:

Free plan: Free unlimited streams for 7 day trial

Web Plan 4.99€/month: Unlimited web streaming

Unlimited plan 9.99€/month: Unlimited web + mobile streaming

List of countries Rdio is currently available: https://www.rdio.com/availability/