“SPOTIFY “, A BOON OR BANE

Spotify, the most popular music streaming service in many countries plays its part by providing its users musical content of various artists in one domain. However there have been discussions regarding whether Spotify shrinks the music business by persuading people not to buy music anymore or by helping the music business by telling people not to steal music anymore.

Usually when you buy music from Spotify, you don’t have to buy it from iTunes. Spotify displaces music piracy and the two balance each other. Interactive streaming appears to be revenue neutral for the recorded music industry. Usually the argument that Spotify has is that, if they are not allowed to distribute music properly and money is not got for it, it will definitely lead to piracy of that music. They cannot sell enough subscriptions by replacing albums and single-track sales. A study was conducted which was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Various record labels and Spotify are in disputes regarding new contract distribution. The streaming services require the content of the music label to exist in order to provide it to the users and the labels also require the streaming services. So, there is no way that they can convince people to buy downloads anymore. However this will not affect content owners or individual musicians. If Spotify grows to greater heights, then it will start growing the overall music pie for everyone in the music business.

The Launch & Quick Tear Down of Aurous; The ‘Popcorn Time for Music’

This past Monday Aurous, known as the ‘Popcorn Time for Music’, launched Alpha. This streaming service, like many before it, offers a completely free, on-demand way to listen to music. The biggest attraction to this service is that not only is it ad-free but also allows the user to pull together playlist from multiple platforms whether that is off the internet, Spotify, or from the users own library of music. Creator Andrew Sampsons announces that Aurous has teamed up with ProTip, a tipping services that uses bitcoin’s blockchain technology to pay rights holders so that in this way, users will be able to compensate artists. What seems a bit unclear is whether or not users are forced to pay through listening to a song at a time or are given the option of paying per song.

aurous platform layout

See Aurous layout / interface above.

Essentially illegal to most label and artists a like, Sampson points out that there is a portal for rights holders to take their music off the service if they would like. The idea behind this is simple but is it legal?

According to reports this morning the RIAA has quickly cracked down on Aurous claiming that this service is not only pulling music from companies that to not negotiate with record labels to have their music played on but also with illegal websites that put up free music illegal such as MP3WithMe and VK. Published today on 20KHZ, the RIAA said quote, “This service is a flagrant example of a business model powered by copyright theft on a massive scale.” Sampson earlier mentioned that his intent was geared for users to take off of ad-supported services such as YouTube or paid streaming services.

Although this service seems like a great idea, there are still a clear amount of problems to figure out. Piracy is already a overwhelming problem enough. In my opinion the way in solving this is to make a portion of the website that detects when content is converted from an illegal source that way the company and the user don’t get in trouble pushing the user to legal means of service.

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.

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

The Tyranny of Choice

Have you ever noticed the immense amount of music that technology allows us to listen to? There are so many choices that it would be impossible to listen to every track out there in one lifetime. This is what a fellow blogger likes to call “The Tyranny of Choice”.  In his blog, he points out simple facts – making relevant points regarding the future of music.

There is a noticeable imbalance in the music industry. There a numerous music services world wide. These music services are focusing on a small percentage of consumers as opposed to targeting a much larger market share. Streaming plays an important rule in the music industry and it has caused cd and download sales to decline. By targeting that small percentage of consumers, music streaming services are simply taking the downloading money and converting it into streaming money. This means the consumers are switching but not spending more. Larger target market is not necessarily being considered meaning there is just revenue transition rather than revenue growth in the music industry.

According to fellow blogger, there are three things to focus on that are predicted to shape the future of digital music – (1) Consumer Behaviour (2) Tech Companies Strategies (3) Income Distribution. Consumer behavior of the next music generation listeners and not the generation transitioning from downloads or cd’s will be the ones music services need to pay attention to. By understanding the next generation, the music services will be able to properly grow and evolve. Technology companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Google control digital music in one way or another. For this same reason, others such as labels and producers can focus specifically on the music while these companies strategize to focus on their own established goals which mostly involve product/service sales. It is a win-win. Finally, artists and songwriters have begun to pay more attention to income distribution. Although it may not happen overnight, the pressure to more evenly distribute this income is an important movement.

Music listeners may not be expected to spend money on downloads or cd’s in the future, however they are expected to listen to the numerous music choices available to them more than ever before. The Tyranny of choice will influence the way we all listen to music. This provides artists and labels with new opportunities though. Because of “the tyranny of choice” technology has created and will continue to create in the future, artists and labels must come together to create partnerships that will allow them to sell an experience – an unique music experience that they can both sell to the next generation listeners. To provide unique music experiences to listeners is what music has always been about so to focus on this same principle in the future despite how technology continues to change our lives is truly a beautiful thing.

To read the blog post and see charts that served as inspiration for this blog post, follow this link – http://musicindustryblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/digital-ascendency-the-future-music-forum-keynote/

Musical Nostalgia

I purchased my first CD at a very young age. Holding it in my hands and knowing it in was mine was pretty neat. Playing it over and over again until I knew all the lyrics to every song was an even better feeling. Those days seem to be over though. Technology has provided us all with convenient ways to listen to our music now. Every day it seems as though there is new evidence pointing to the fact that streaming is the evident future in the music industry. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the effortless convenience that is opening up my Spotify account… listening to my favorite artists as well as easily discovering new ones! Is streaming changing the way we relate to music though?

I am sure I am not alone in saying that there is a certain beauty in owning music from that band you have followed and loved for years. Then again, there is also the music quality you can hear in say a vinyl than you could never hear while streaming that contagious song you can’t get enough of. It is true that streaming exposes us all to unlimited amounts of music we would probably never had discovered or even had the ability to purchase (even if we wanted to). As music consumers… or simply music lovers… we are able to appreciate the technological advances that make life a little easier however, every now and then we are entitled to feel a little nostalgia about the good old days and questioning how streaming is changing our musical experiences.

Article link served as inspiration. Read “Why I Rushed Out To Buy An Apple Classic: Soon It’ll Be Too Late” as it will surely take you for a stroll down your own memory lane. – http://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/why-i-rushed-out-to-buy-an-apple-ipod-classic-soon-itll-be-too-late

Music Streaming Vs. Music Downloading

Music streaming has changed the music industry. It is easy to recognize that music streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, or YouTube continue to overpower downloading services such as iTunes or even the more physical music goods such as CD’s and Vinyl. This year, streaming has become even stronger and more apparent within the industry. Although many streaming services have the free subscription option, consumers are now willing to pay for the actual premium subscription option in order to have less advertisements. While physical music sales and downloads continue to weaken, it is only fair to wonder how long it will take for music streaming to take over completely the music industry? It would also be fair to wonder if the beauty of actually owning music from our favorite artists will disappear with time? It will be interesting to see how music streaming will monetize its services so that everyone involved, artists included, can benefit? It is important to ask such questions as both consumers and simply music lovers. For now, we can only wait to see how streaming (and any other technological advances) will continue affecting music in the near future.

Article below provides recent numbers and facts in relation to the same thoughts mentioned above – http://www.cnet.com/news/streaming-music-swiping-sales-from-music-dowloads/

Is Amazon working on a Music Streaming Service?

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Amazon really seems to hit the ground running lately. First came the conjunction with Amazon Prime, a new video-on-demand service and a few days ago Amazon has announced the FireTV then, the counterpart of Apple TV. And apparently that was not all.

After Amazon released Fire TV, a streaming device for TV only a few days ago, now a contract indicates that in the next few weeks Amazon will also introduce a music streaming service similar to Spotify. While Amazon Prime customers currently can already stream movies and TV series for free , such an offer for music is still lacking at the moment.

Just like Spotify, Amazon might also offer a free  service in the streaming like the Spotify limited version and a premium subscription, which presumably would be a part of the Prime Offer. A contract between Amazon and the music label states suggests a deadline for the signature on May 1, 2014, which is a timely launch of the streaming service. Especially after the price increase Amazon Prime (of 29 € to 49 €) a music streaming service is another great incentive for customers to complete the Prime subscription. Amazon would therefore also make their own hardware (the Fire TV) even more attractive.

But even this leaked contract is real it’s no guarantee that Amazon will ever actually launch a streaming service. 

The contract, which publishers are being asked to sign by May 1, states the following:

“…If you provide a signed copy of this Agreement to us or our data manager that includes any changes, additions, or deletions (handwritten or otherwise), no such changes, additions, or deletions will have any force or effect…”

Here’s the full contract.

The future of music streaming

Online streaming services just like Spotify are regarded as the best example of the future success in the music streaming market. However, recently it was shown that many users do not imply the equal success. As announced in an interview with Daniel Ek in the Wall Street Journal, Spotify for example runs millions of losses every year  – mainly because of the high license fees. Also the future of streaming services could look better. According to a research streaming services as currently structured have no hope of achieving profitability.  That is, barring a radical overhaul in the way royalties are structured, or a miraculous shift in the way music fans are monetized. “Music subscription services are all losing money, and that is going to remain the case until they find a way to monetize a worldwide user base,”  the report states.

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Spotify is seen as one of the most popular music streaming services on the Web and yet the crowd puller is not profitable for the operators. The reason for the low profits : licensing costs are too high. According to the WSJ article, the music streaming service has achieved a turnover of 252 million U.S. dollars in 2011 and doubled the following year in 2012 with 576.5 million U.S. dollars. However, although enough users have subscribed to the service and in general a high revenue is being generated, one can not achieve the intended green numbers. Just like sales, which have risen, the total loss has also increased: from 60 million to 77 million U.S. dollars.

If you believe Daniel Ek, this relatively high  loss is mainly due to the music industry, asking for an enormous amount of money. The CEO explained in the interview that since the launch seven years ago, a total of half a billion dollars has been paid to rights holders – roughly 70 percent of sales. Given this fact, it will  not only affect the service itself but the whole concept of music streaming on the internet. Because one can assume that Spotify as a leader, compared to competitors such as Pandora or Rdio , it has the largest business potential.

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If the market leader already stumbles , the whole industry is likely to stumble. How do you want to save yourself from this dilemma? Daniel Ek strives new markets in Asia to achieve higher sales, so that the 77 million decrease as soon as possible and profits instead of losses are generated. In addition, the founder hopes that the music industry lowers the royalties. Such negotiations are already underway.

Streaming Rates: Get the Facts, Get My Opinion

I don't even understand how you don't already

I don’t even understand how you don’t already…

Let’s face it, in today’s music industry going digital and with the existence of genius and authorized sources of information (Like this blog… right??) I see a lot of people arguing over important topics but none of them seem to have their facts right.  More importantly, it seems like people are just missing the point.  So, I’ll address both in this post.

I found a neat article off Digital Music News that took the sales of individual artists and did the math themselves based on the royalties the artist received.  The averages rounded out to the numbers in this post.  Please tell me you already knew most of these don’t make more than a third of a cent, or you’ve got Jackie Chan up at the top of this post to give you my response to that…

SPOTIFY:  $0.005 Per Play

RHAPSODY:  $0.013 Per Play

NAPSTER (It still exists… Sorry Lars Ulrich):  $0.016 Per Play

ZUNE (Microsoft):  $0.028 Per Play

So, if you were to use some common math there, you’d find out that Spotify is actually one of the digital streaming service providers that provides the least.  And, if you weren’t surprised that Napster even still existed despite the Rhapsody buyout, it’s actually making more money than Rhapsody.  To drive that one deeper, Zune, the online service you totally knew existed, makes an artist the most revenue per play.

 But wait! This means we all have GOT to hop on the Zune now right?  If we all hop onto the streaming service that pays out the most, then we’ll provide better support to the artist and then we can fix the industry, right?!  Well… my facial expression would be:

You had to irritate me enough to pull out CARTOON Jackie on your ass.

You had to irritate me enough bring CARTOON Jackie into this.

It’s not a question of what is the “better” streaming service.  For too long I’ve scoured these online blogs and sites and seen people jabbing back and forth about which streaming service is going to save the music industry, or that streaming altogether is the cure to the industry situation.  It’s really not.  It’s the industry’s last stand.  If shelling out tons of cash on a vinyl didn’t work, we advanced with technology to make $10 CD’s to appease the solution.  When $10 CDs were too much, we hopped onto iTunes for digital downloads.  When music going on digital meant we wanted it all free, we gave them streaming.  Streaming is a compromise, NOT a solution.  The music industry has only been piggy backing on the innovations and evolutions of technology.

You can disagree with me as much as we want, but the numbers don’t lie.  The future of the industry lie in VIP packages and live shows, not streaming.  And even then, we have to play the live music game very carefully; something I’ll cover later on.

Take it from Lady Gaga, integrating her fans into one website online, combining the online social instant gratitude into a unified fan base that share interest into her.  Of course I’m not the biggest Lady Gaga fan around, but I know a damn good idea when I see one and she’s laughing herself to the bank

Only an obscene amount of cocaine could front an idea like that.

Only an obscene amount of cocaine could front an idea like that.

Again I’ll say it again, you don’t have to agree with me, but let’s face the facts.  Instead of arguing over what streaming service works better, or what are the current flaws in the streaming model, we gotta get on thinking on alternatives.  For too long the music industry has been riding on technology’s progress.

– @NishadGeorge