Life with a Sound Track

Imagine if your everyday life had a soundtrack. The places you visited from Paris to Hollywood, the same everyday route you took to school or work, the local park down the street or even the closest beach you jog in the morning had a specific soundtrack associated to that location.

Musicians and music lovers alike have had a form of doing this for years through playlist. A group of college students going on a road trip might construct a playlist, or a compilation album that would then become the sounds of a memory forever associating to that road trip. A sixteen year old girl going through a break-up might decide to create a playlist of heartbreaking pop hits.

Adding location awareness to music apps is fast becoming a major mobile trend, as is evident by a rash of new mobile music apps hitting app stores of late. Use of location technology is taking many forms. Many, if not most, are designed to let users tag a location with a song. The result can be a localized, crowdsourced playlist, add context to the discovery of a new song or even be used as a way to find concerts and live shows. Other apps flip it around a bit by letting users in the same area determine what the venue should play. Think about the data local businesses could collect.

For those Spotify Premium listeners, Spotfiy early this year created a new feature for their mobile device app that has tempo detection to the rhythm of your Stride. Here is how it works: Pick from a playlist, such as “Recommended For You,” “Pop Hits,” or “Electronic Moves,” and you’ll hear a woman’s voice say, “Start running to detect tempo.” Your stride shows up as pulses on the green circle until she says that she knows your stride. It takes a few seconds—about ten paces. Then you’ll get a track with matching beats per minute. Genius.

Imagine if these two amazing app features together in one. As a provider of music and sound catalogs such as Spotify, this would open up a whole new world of revenue for musicians. This would create jobs for composers, DJs, playlist makers from all over the world giving them the opportunity to compose and invent infinite sounds/compositions for streaming services. This could re-inspire the consumers value of music and appreciation for it; along with allowing non musicians to compose and create the film score of their own life using the catalog provided by the service.

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.

The Music & Technology Relationship? It’s Complicated.

!!!

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!

Yondr_TWO-CASES_905

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.

imagesIW2VK09F

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.

Yondr_TWO-CASES_905

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

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

Is Amazon working on a Music Streaming Service?

14.02.27-Amazon_Music

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.

Album Review Of The Week – Animals As Leaders – The Joy of Motion

This week has been particularly exciting. As I recover from my yearly spring/early summer cold, as my system realises that the ‘Fallas’ have actually eaten away chunks of my higher auditory spectrum (16kHz-20kHz), as school kicks back into gear, and as we launch Berklee Valencia’s very own Record Label named Disrupcíon Records, one of my most cherished artist/band releases their third opus through Sumerian Records.

Animals As Leaders and their third release named The Joy of Motion is an ode to the greatest of all lost arts (I don’t mean Lower Defintion’s amazing album, I’m talking about Music), and full of maturity and humility (at times) Tosin Abasi, along with Javier Reyes and new addition Matt Garstka have put together a truly immersive experience.

With phrases, chord changes or cadences that echo some from the previous releases, one can recognise the Tosin Abasi songwriting and find himself at home. But you’ll find tunes off this record mirroring some of Javier’s personal stuff (Mestis, EP: Basal Ganglia). A few solos on the record also let me wonder whether there were any guest players at any point. Track number 3, Air Chrysalis echoes Intervals’ Epiphany, and track 12 (the closer) ‘Nephele’ sounds strangely similar to a Vai-Petrucci progeny. Mystery to be solved…

Overall musically the album is very strong, and so is my wording to describe it, I realise that… Garstka’s involvement and participation in the writing definitely shines through a lot more on this release and it does it a tremendous amount of good. That classic AAL quarter-note pulse is still present, but less important. When straight feels good, straight is played, no unnecessary polyrhythmic aberrations and convolutedness.

I must also admit that I’m super thrilled and amazed that they collaborated with Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood for the production of this opus. Adam is THE guy when it comes to producing this type of music, hands down, no questions asked. Forget Joey Sturgis, he is just good. Nolly is the exegesis of a mix that packs a punch. And for the guys in AAL to realise that, then get him on-board is the best move that could have been made. Allegedly it mustn’t have been a huge stretch of the mind since Misha Mansoor plays alongside Nolly, but anyway… I’m glad for both posses involved, it is in their best common interest, not something that you see done a lot in the music industry these days (cf. The Prisoner’s Dilemma, Economics 101, Somewhere along the course of every Economics syllabus), and the production is just MASSIVE, mate!

The album came out on the 25th of March, so two days prior to this post. The ’single’ (I guess you could call it that), Tooth and Claw had been out for a little bit of time before that, and it was just the perfect song to release to build a hype and amp things up. I’ve already rinsed the life out of it. It was available for stream on YouTube, however I’ve never been a fan of pre-release streams for music that has value. I get that it would make sense if you’re anticipating a specific single featuring two of your favourite artists, but here it’s the whole artefact that is important. So I waited patiently while all my friends were posting about it on what has become the most important book to all of us these days, got it on Spotify, and am heartlessly taking away what could’ve been a full 7,99$ from this band that I hold so dear…

A few tunes to look out for on this album/my personal favourites so far:

Ka$cade
Tooth and Claw
Para Mexer (8 nylon-stringèd bonanza, it’s got Javier Reyes/Mestis written all over it)
The Woven Web (Slappin’ that bass mon’)
Mind-Spun (Just a power tune, simply put)

If you want to have a listen, head over to Spotify and punch this URL in: spotify:album:6amcjpW1tFWbKniDMn9CE4

heck, even purchase it on iTunes: http://smarturl.it/thejoyofmotionitunes

or have a gander on the YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbA3jxab4A0&list=PLH22-xSMERQpG4M9HshhXUJ9OKMNlwU8T

 

As for myself, I’ll probably be getting the Vinyl, transparent Red sounds like it looks sexy. DJ kTunes said it first, they’re making a come-back.

 

Animals As Leaders – The Joy of Motion – The Woven Web

Is Spotify’s long tail bringing benefit for New and Indie artists?

 

Thanks to the internet, anyone can have access to a big diversity of music content at anytime, anywhere. In addition, this technological tool has changed the music industry helping to bring out new and independent projects. This recent phenomenon is thanks to the easy accessibility and cheap distribution of tons of music.

 

Back in time, as soon as a CD album decreased in popularity, it was released from the retailers giving no chance for long tail revenue. Thanks to the digital catalogues the music could still being purchased long after it was first released and its buzz decreased. Basically, the tail of distribution is the time when non-common product sales become profit due to the low cost in distribution and marketing. The long tail is when these sales are made giving us the context of how consumers interact within the digital tools.

In theory, this situation would give a chance for new music to appear in the scene making a more balanced market against the blockbusters-hits. The creation of these niches was supposed to grab new consumers that can follow a diverse content on the web. Social media, blogs, forums and platforms such as Youtube and music stream channels like Spotify seem to build a perfect environment where new projects will finally fight for some space in the market against big labels.

 

The problem is that the mainstream music is pushing down from the top instead of the bottom (new artist) pushing up and fattening the tail of the indie music. The consumption of the product on the head of the tail (commercial-mainstream music) has increased due to several reasons including:

  •       Mediocre content in the middle of the tail
  •       High level of competition within the Indie market
  •       Low barriers to enter into the Indie market
  •       People used to listening to the same music. For instance classic and commercial music.
  •       Consumers are still influenced by the trend of blockbuster-hits
  •       Water cooler effect: people adapt their tastes to fit in social groups
  •       Consumer’s “Tyranny of Choice” in which excessive choice actual hinders discovery.

Statistics show that 1% of the music projects represent 75% revenue in recorded music and 79% in the subscription revenue.  This means that in the economic sense it has become an unrewarded situation for most of the projects especially for the non-commercial ones.

In an era where digital music and streaming is increasing each year, Spotify seems to be the perfect window where new music will be exposed. Unfortunately 5% of the music streamed through this website are the most popular tracks representing 80% of the streams. One fifth of the 25 million tracks available have never been played. In addition, the revenue per streams is ridiculous. As it is shown in the following chart, a song should be streamed around 145 times in order to equal the payout from one iTunes Store song download.

 

In conclusion, although there are people that still believe that long tail is working well for music aficionados and undiscovered projects, it is a fact that it works much better for super projects backed for the big companies that can still make money for many time after the date when the music is released.

If you care about music, should you ditch Spotify?

This week in the Econ class the topic for debate was whether Spotify is killing the music industry or not. My team members, Chris Wade, Jasmine Shepard and I were debating against the topic that spotify is not killing the music industry.

It was a fairly easy debate for us because two of us are regular spotify users and have subscribed to their monthly premium subscription. We got the opportunity to point out some really interest facts and figures and our research only increased our knowledge about the worlds largest music streaming service.

For some of you, who don’t know, Spotify is an online and offline music-streaming platform, which was launched in 2008. It is currently the largest streaming service out there with 20 million-song catalogue and 1 billion playlists. It currently has 24 million active users and 6 million monthly subscribers. It was launched in Sweden and is now available in 54 other markets. 2013 turned out to be their biggest year with a stream count of 4,500,000,000. This streaming platform is easily accessible and has music on the go 24*7. One of the best things I find out about Spotify is the ease of discovery of new artists. Artists like Lorde, who is now on top of the billboard charts were discovered on spotify. You can easily create and share playlists on one platform.

Apart from this, what made us win the debate were the figures that Spotify is alternative to piracy. The young generation is the biggest consumer of pirated content and ever since Spotify, the piracy rate between the people from 18-29 has significantly reduced by 55%.

Despite the problem of royalty payment to the artists, Spotify has emerged as a leading platform for music streaming. Clearly, we were able strengthen our point that Spotify is NOT killing the music industry.

I really hope Spotify launches is India soon enough, else I don’t know what will I use for music accessibility and discovery when I go back to India upon graduation.

Here’s a song by an artist I discovered on Spotify

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.

streamingfuture3

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.

streamingfuture4

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.

When I Lost a Debate About Spotify.

Is Spotify Killing the Music Industry?

I recently took part in a class debate where our team was arguing that ‘Yes’ Spotify is killing the music industry.

With a class of music lovers, who predominantly use Spotify to listen to music everyday, it was always going to be an up hill battle trying to convince them.

Our team of three, brainstormed many different arguments but couldn’t find any validity in that the decline in the music industry is solely due to Spotify, as it takes up such a small market share. Instead, we decided to use our passion, what I like to call the Thom York approach and go for the emotional tact. The three of us do not use Spotify and are quite passionate that it is the devil. Trying to articulate that proved pretty hard.

Below is my section of the speech, it gets quite convoluted at times, I hope however, that the audience were entertained and could see some valid points in my argument:

Today, we are not going to use the aid of a slide presentation to tell you why Spotify is killing the music industry. As a class of music aficionados, passionate, next generation leaders, we hope to prove why Spotify is killing the music industry  – creatively, through the choice paralysis and finally the hit song complex.

Here we have a brothel more commonly referred to as the music industry. The major labels are the pimps and the whores are the artists. You can buy that more desired worker, but for a larger price. Or you could just pay for that indie band who you wouldn’t brag to your mates about.

In comes spotify, the STD known as chlamydia that is slowly infecting the music industry. And no, I’m not talking from personal experience.

Amanda Palmer, our favourite TED talker said not to ask an artist about Spotify. “He’ll go on about the glory days of vinyl and recording to tape”…Spotify started in 2008 as a band aid solution to illegal downloading and has killed the value of songs and albums that I Tunes were offering. Just like video killed the radio star, Cd’s killed the vinyl star, Spotify is killing the music industry. Palmer says not to ask the artist but without the artist and their creativity, where would the industry be?

We define the music industry as a creative industry that over the last ten years has seen a detrimental downturn.  The industry is not measured in sales, it’s measured by creativity. We saw at MIDEM music conference, the need for innovation and new business models but the underlying theme of the festival was nostalgia. These big dogs of the music industry were crying out for a need to go back to the model of the 80’s. But why did it ever stop? It is the the global mega stars, often with one hit wonders, that Spotify holds (excuse the pun) – major  biases for that are killing the industry.

Yesterday, Kid Cudi released his 4th studio album. Blogs across the internet cleverly marketed it with a “download here”  button tat automatically directed the user to I Tunes. On I Tunes, Cudi sold it for $10 as a buy album only. Where we were once saving our pocket money for that new parental advisory album our parents didn’t want us to buy, we now pay the same amount to play millions of albums once, make a quick assessment of whether there’s a ‘Gangnam’ hit on it or not, then dispose of it. It is in this quick disposal of music the creative side of the industry is being killed.

Needless to say, we were crushed in the debate, the opposing team spoke well and used many figures proving that Spotify are currently doing some good in terms of sales for the music industry.

We concluded the debate with:

The record industry has been a cold twitching corpse for a long time now, Spotify has just given them a chance to choose their coffin.

I enjoyed the way the results were announced by our teacher over Twitter and the conversation that ensued:

Image

Image

Image