Secondary Ticketing Needs to Change

As an advocate of the future of Live Music as both a consumer and provider I would like to express my frustration in secondary ticketing. In May of 2014 I remember sitting down at my computer to purchase a ticket to my favorite band, Zac Brown Band at Fenway Park. It was an hour after the tickets went on sale that I went to select “purchase” but soon realized I was an hour too late. 70,000 tickets had been sold within thirty minutes. A ticket that went from a reasonable price of $60 with a decent view, quickly jumped to $170.

The secondary ticket market in 2012 was about a $3 billion to $5 billion business, growing at a rate somewhere between 12 percent and 24 percent. As of 2013, only a few states prohibited reselling tickets or made it unreasonable to do so. The practice is prohibited in Kentucky and Michigan, although Kentucky doesn’t establish any penalties for a violation. Massachusetts limits the markup to $2 but allows a broker to add a service charge to recoup the expense of buying the ticket. Rhode Island and North Carolina both limit the amount charged above face value to $3. New Jersey has a more generous policy that enables brokers to charge up to 150 percent of the ticket’s face value. In Hawaii, Indiana, and Maryland it is currently illegal to resell a ticket for a boxing match at more than its face value (according to the Maryland Code, this law only applies if you are an event “promoter”). Indiana also prohibits the resale of tickets to any sparring or other unarmed combat match for more than face value, while Maryland limits it to boxing, wrestling, and kickboxing. Although, selling a ticket for any other type of event is legal in those three states.

Radiohead have announced a partnership with ethical ticketing company Ticket Trust. The issue of secondary ticketing has become a hot topic, with noise being heard far and near, a number of bands have stepped into the fray. Radiohead’s management issued a statement blasting the practice of secondary ticketing. “Secondary ticketing is wrong on so many levels… the band’s enjoyment of their own shows has been marred by the knowledge that a great many of their fans have been obliged to pay well over face value for their tickets”.

With new ethical ticketing companies such as Ticket Trust there is no reason why artist shouldn’t be protecting themselves. If there is money to be had, then the artist is deserving of it. And as an artist supported by fans of all different economic standing,  one would hope to be represented as an artist that doesn’t rip off their fans. Music is to be enjoyed and accessible to all, not survival of the fittest or… the richest.

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The Owners of the Music Industry

To further my discussion of my previous article on the revenue artist make within streaming, I wanted to look at the whole picture. Where is most of the revenue going if in 2014 global recorded music totaled in the US at $6.9 billion?  To break down the consumption of music in the US by genre, although possibly in broad terms, according to a study released by Nielson Music, rock music was twice as popular in 2014 as pop musicaccounting for 29% of the industry’s music consumption across album, track purchases, and music streaming.

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Forbes magazine also provides us with the top three paid musicians of 2014:

With Dr. Dre’s (Aftermath Entertainment) most recent sale of Beats, the company he cofounded, to Apple for $3 billion, he is listed at number one going home with $620 million this year before taxes. Coming in far second is Beyoncé (Columbia & Sony Music) with $115 million as her most successful year yet.  And finally, The Eagles (Asylum) with their longevity in the industry at $100 million.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that after securing $400 million in fresh funding, Spotify is now worth more than the entire US recorded music industry at $8.4 billion.

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Sony leads the record label trio at $4.9 billion but if we look at Live Nation it will not be long when it takes a step ahead of all three. With Live Nation’s monopoly in live music, being that most revenue is from cold hard ticket sales, it would not be surprising that Live Nation takes the lead within a year.

The album “1989”, a gold mine for Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Ryan Adams

Imagine how Taylor Swift and Max Martin (the King writer of pop songs) must feel right now. They co-wrote the majority of the tracks of the successful album “1989” (along with Shellback, Ryan Tedder, …). When Ryan Adams came with the idea of cover, they immediately saw the opportunity of a gold mine. Both RA and TS albums are in the top 10 charts (it’s the first time that situation ever occurred). Let’s do the math : double publishing income for Max Martin and Taylor Swift and huge record royalties for TS and RA. This is literally the dream.

This collaboration is not surprising because the two stars were already friends. They were working on a few demos before her album Red, unfortunately those songs were never released. Actually, Ryan’s work had always been an inspiration for her.

Ryan Adams was a bit bored to play his own compositions (as he delivered enough albums to his label) and then decided to cover “1989”  in its own way : creating a dreamy atmosphere pointed out by the echoes of past. He wanted to change the “colors” of the lyrics.

Ryan Adams said  : “I wanted the music to sound like … inside the movie of my mind … what the parallel universe of my 1989 could be. (-). Where it might have been hopeful before, it might sound more filled with regret, like ‘How You Get the Girl.’ Or like ‘Shake It Off,’ like the way I read the lyrics out loud to myself, I was compelled to side more with the anxiety and the pressure of a feeling like you are the subject matter of people’s conversations that maybe aren’t in the best light. I liked the pressure of that and wanted the music to sound like it was running away from that… That’s a feeling and a place and a time that was inside the movie of my mind — what the parallel universe of my 1989 could be.”

It’s also important to mention that 7 songs of Ryan Adams’s “1989” are in the Billboard charts right now. That album release attracted the curiosity of a lot of users who wanted to hear the way he was transforming the initial records of TS. Surprisingly, songs of Taylor Swift made their way to the alternative songs chart thanks to! “Bad Blood”.  This is an incredible cover success that brings benefits to both parties and it really enlightens the fact that cover projects should be always encouraged by the original artists.

Sources :

http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/6714591/more-than-half-of-ryan-adams-1989-debuts-on-hot-rock-songs-chart

http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/6715334/before-1989-did-any-identical-album-titles-share-space-in-the-top-10

http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/6708212/ryan-adams-cover-of-taylor-swifts-bad-blood-debuts-on-adult-alternative-songs

How is the Music Industry going to make money?

From the very beginning of the “Record Label” we know that a label made money by SELLING and distributing records. Plain and simple. The very minute the world went digital there has been a devestating collapse in revenue specifically in selling records. Spotify, Pandora and other streaming services are usually considered the bad guys. The industry blames them for the lost of revenue. Times magazine calculated in November 2014 that an artist’s stated payout range is $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream. Before Taylor Swift pulled her music off Spotify her chart breaking hit “Shake it off” streamed 46.3M times with only a pay out between $280k-380k. Sounds ridiculous but consider this, although an artist such as Taylor swift is making peanuts through Spotify services, there is a gain elsewhere. The terabytes of specific data being collected through Spotify is unfathomable. Spotify now knows that Sarah Smith currently lives in San Diego, CA, 25 years of age, in a happy mood and on her afternoon jog is wanting to listen to “Shake it off”. At Taylor Swift’s level of success this information is automatic but for a DIY band out of Boston now can promote, market and shape their tour around this information. If the Boston based band is getting the most streams out of Chicago at the age demographic of 18-20, performing a concert at a university in Chicago could be a very valuable show.

Which leads me to my next point. The industry’s last hope of survival is live performance. The EDM scene seems to be getting it right. Music Times calculated the Calvin Harris will walk away with $400k per gig in his New Hakkasan Deal. EDM festivals such as Tomorrowland, Electric Daisy Carnival, or Sensation bringing in hundreds of thousands of fans have shown huge strides in changing live performance. Selling albums is no longer the main focus but selling tickets at a bare minimum of $100 is top priority. In order to do this, millions of dollars needs to be invested into a production of  a live performance that is so monumental and life changing to an attendee that it could never be reproduced in any other form. On the other hand a website called Sofar is a live performance/streamed based platform shifting live shows into a more exclusive setting. Once you join the free membership, hundreds of exclusive  shows all over the world are now available to purchase tickets. Choose the city you are in and see the next show; the only catch is that you don’t know the location until the day before nor the artist you are seeing until the day of. This platform is a genius way to help people discover new artist in a social setting that can be just as impactful in their lives as a mega show but without the millions of dollars being invested into a production for one night. How amazing would it be to see one of your favorite artist perform in a living room big enough for maybe 20 people?
Until the next best thing, the way I see musicians making money in an industry as loved but taken for granted as this one, is innovating a live experiences so spectacular, big or small, that it will never be forgotten.

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.

From Musician to Cultural Icon in a Technology Driven Age

Have you ever stop to think about what it would be like if the everyone would simply embraced this technology driven age we live in instead of fighting it so much?

Amanda Palmer showed the world the beauty of embracing the unknown. She went from musician to cultural icon when her Kickstarter campaign raised 1.2k!! Pretty impressive, right? Watch her TED talk below as it will help you understand exactly what I mean.

“Palmer is set to join Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails as the artists people mention when they talk about the new music business.” — Billboard

While everyone constantly takes the time to put down the online world, and artists like Taylor Swift oppose tech driven services like Spotify for her own personal reasons, Amanda decided to embrace it all. She strongly believed that a strong relationship with her fans is what the music journey should always be about, and emphasized that this technology driven age can allow us all to create deep connections if we are willing to ask.

Palmer has become the poster girl for dipping not only your toe, but your whole body, because you never really know what will happen. In her case, the road less traveled led her to find incredibly positive results. Her kickstarter campaign, TED talk, recently published book, and unique music have all had great success because Amanda took a chance to welcome the changes the technology driven age has introduced instead of questioning them.

Amanda was strategic in her approach though. She made sure to establish a strong fan base before using technology to her advantage. In fact, it is her strong fan base that helped her raised 1.2k via Kickstarter. She beautifully mastered “the art of asking” as she likes to call it. She turned to her fans for help her and they provided more help than she ever imagined. It is very exciting to learn about her story however, it is also important to understand that not everyone will be able to do what she did. Because truth be told, there is only one Amanda Palmer.

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80% of the crowd funding campaigns that manage to be successful only raise about $10,000. This, however, is $10,000 more that artists can receive because of the changes this technology driven age has introduced. Crowd funding is not a magic path to stardom or riches. Artists must work extremely hard for crowd funding campaigns to succeed. Crowd funding platforms and success stories like Amanda Palmer do create a wonderful point though. Technology is not always evil. Technology can be an incredibly good ally. It can allow artists to use the power of music combined with the power of fans to acquire additional funding. Changes like these are why technology continues to shape the music industry.

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Finland in Three Parts #2a

Opera has also been a genre that has influenced the music in Finland, so now let me talk about the last big genre of Finland. Popular music in Finland is very varied, it all started with Georg Malmstenstarted in the 1930s. There were also artists like Olavi Virta or Tapio Rautavaara, who were the most popular male singing stars in Finland and Toivo Karki, one of the most popular songwriter.

I don’t understand a single word of what he is singing, but this makes me move. Back to what I was talking about earlier, best hits are called “Iskelmä.” Other of the great singers is Katri Helena, who has been performing since the 1960’s.

The biggest influence that Finland has after the Rock Era is Metal. Finland is one of the biggest influence of Symphonic Metal around the world. In the ’90s, Apocalyptica was founded, whom started making Metallica covers with a chelo quartet.

Other famous groups are Stratovarius, Nightwish and Children of Bodom. This last group, Children of Bodom, made a cover of Britney Spears’ song “Oops I did it again.”

Now that we have some background about the music in Finland, let’s talk about the music industry these days. In Finland there is IFPI, which is the national trade association representing 23 record companies in this country.

“IFPI Finland´s goal is to ensure favourable operational environment for the recording industry in Finland”.

IFPI’s Digital Music Report illustrates that the global music business offers consumers a more diverse range of licensed music services. For the first time, revenues from streaming and subscription services rise 51.3% globally, crossing a threshold of US$1 billion.

As you can see in this chart, since 2005 there is a significant increase of money in the digital music streams.

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http://www.ifpi.fi/

Lecrae, Part II: Laying the Groundwork (albums 1-5)

Today, we are examining Lecrae’s musical development in his early career. I’ve picked one song from each album as a representative of Lecrae’s style for that album.

We’ll be listening to:

Take Me As I Am (Real Talk)

Prayin’ for You (After the Music Stops)

Don’t Waste Your Live (Rebel)

Just Like You (Rehab)

Battle Song (Rehab: The Overdose)

Lecrae’s first two albums, Real Talk and After the Music Stops were his introduction as a rapper to the Christian community. Released in 2005 and 2006, they maintain solid technique and his lyrics demonstrate the elements Lecrae held most valuable: his faith.

Let’s listen to “Take Me As I Am” from Lecrae’s first album, Real Talk:

As with many of he songs on this album, “Take Me As I Am” is autobiographical, and is themed around a biblical message. His beats are comfortable, though not particularly exciting; and his songs are primarily rhythmic with very little melodic or harmonic work (there’s a basic underlying chord structure, and a brief reoccurring melody in the synth).

Lecrae’s biggest selling point on Real Talk is the style and content of the rapping itself. He has an enjoyable flow and presentation, and manages to take the style of rap where it hand never been successfully exploited before: the Christian and Gospel audience. Because Lecrae raps about deep struggles he remains authentic to the themes of rap, even though the struggles his lyrics allude to are spiritual as opposed to more common themes.

Lecrae’s style doesn’t change very much for his second album, After the Music Stops. The main differences you can note by listening to “Prayin’ for You,” are the inclusion of a female vocalist in the background, as well as a few extra instruments.

“Prayin’ for You” from After the Music Stops:

The first remarkable stylistic change doesn’t come until Lecrae’s third album, Rebel. When you listen to “Don’t Waste Your Life,” you’ll notice something new: the chorus is sung. In addition, the underlying beats have a much more robust harmonic structure and instrumentation – Lecrae is expanding and developing his musical style. I believe that his expanding musical style is what helped him to be well received in the 8 different charts he made it onto (see Part I).

Take a listen to “Don’t Waste Your Life” from Rebel:

In Rehab, Lecrae makes a huge stylistic change, which I enjoy. We’ll listen to “Just Like You” first, then discuss.

“Just Like You” from Rehab:

I love what Lecrae has done with the introduction of this song… he’s incorporated a beautiful instrumental, then a sung melody. It is expressive and musical. He still raps for the bulk of it, but he is intentional about using his rapping style to control the mood of the piece.

Even though his style is growing in harmony, melody, and instrumentation; and even though he us making different artistic choices about how he uses his voice when he raps; Lecrae holds true to the autobiographical and religious themes he has aligned with since the beginning of his career.

To me, this development is a sign of artistry. It is one thing to be good enough at rapping (or any skill, for that matter), but it is true artistry when you are able to alter how you use that skill in order to more effectively communicate through your craft. With the huge artistic strides Lecrae made in Rehab, is no surprise that he was nominated for a Grammy, or that he topped 3 charts (Gospel, Christian, and Independent). It should be noted that Lecrae collaborated with several other artists for Rehab.

These musical styles and collaborations continue to grow Lecrae’s follow up album, Rehab: The Overdose. Check out “Battle Song,” featuring Suzy Rock as an example.

Tracing back to Real Talk (Lecrae’s first album), you can hear a dramatic shift in the harmonic and melodic elements, as well as Lecrae’s developing artistry as a rapper. In Part III, we will examine the albums to follow.

To be continued…

Raw talent with professional artist

Nayvia, raw talent in Valencia

Jon and Nayvia rehearsing their song.

It’s very interesting how things are developing so fast. Yesterday, Nayvia and myself met one more time with Jon O’Hara.

A couple months ago, I told Jon I wanted him to meet with a talented girl I was representing, and now they are working in a brand new song tailored to my artists qualities and strengths.

I enjoyed a lot watching this talented guys having such a great time singing together. There’s no doubt music is an universal language.

I’ve noticed a great progress with Nayvia in terms of confidence, voice and attitude. It hasn’t been easy for all of us, particularly to her. Sometimes I notice she gets quite overwhelmed and insecure about her capabilities. It must be shocking to see how people fall in love with things you took for granted of yourself, in Nayvia’s case, that was her voice.

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