March Industry Wrap-Up

Pandora Premium Takes on the On-Demand Streaming Game


While household names like Spotify and Apple Music boast a combined 120+ million users streaming music each month, Pandora has enjoyed the success of their proprietary “Music Genome Project” algorithm and their ability to draw users in with perfectly curated and personalized radio stations. Last year, Pandora announced it’s “Pandora Plus” service, offering listeners more replays and skips, as well as the ability to listen to offline radio stations. Now, after much anticipation, the biggest name in digital radio has announced “Pandora Premium”, their brand new on-demand streaming service.

Pandora Premium will function much like other monthly subscription streaming services, offering a similar catalog of over 30 million tracks for listeners to browse and discover. With its current user-base of 80 million, Pandora sees its transition into on-demand streaming as an opportunity for further growth. While it remains to be seen, there may be an advantage to joining the game late – for instance, Pandora won’t be focusing on ‘exclusives’ for big name releases, and instead hopes to utilize its personalization proficiencies to stand out in the crowd of streaming services when it comes to recommending songs to users based on their listening habits as a means of music discovery.

“We have very grand ambitions for what this can be,” Pandora CEO Tim Westergren said. “If we look around at the space right now, we just don’t think that there’s a product that’s done it right. No one has solved the ease of use and personalization part of the on-demand world. I don’t think there’s really a true premium product out there yet… we think we’re bringing something really different here.”

This development is great news for indie artists who hope to tap into Pandora’s user-base by making their releases available on-demand.

Ticketmaster Uses Software to Combat Bots More Effectively


Whether you’re a fan who paid out the nose for a ticket or lost out to what would have to be the fastest ticket-buying hands known to man, or you’re an artist who has had to deal with the backlash of bots buying up all their tickets, there’s a general consensus in the live music industry that these bots aren’t really doing consumers or artists any good. In fact, you could say most people feel that bots – which derive from software that immediately purchases tickets when they go on sale in bulk, only to re-sell at a higher cost to fans – are completely ripping people off!

Enter Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fan” program. Ticket scalping (re-selling tickets at higher costs), as it’s known, has become such a problem on the company’s platform that they’ve introduced new efforts to combat it by using customer data and new systems. For example, identifying fans’ purchasing history has been tested with lower-level tours to cut down on automated ticket buying systems and bot purchases. The program requires fans to register to buy tickets in advance (typically 48 hours before they go on sale); shortly after, Ticketmaster collects emails and scrubs out any believed to be connected to scalpers. Verified Fan is being used for pre-sales at the moment, but could be expanded for general sales in the future.

This is a meaningful attempt to make sure that artists – both major label and independent alike – are able to continue to offer tickets to their tour dates through this platform without worrying that their fans are getting ripped off.

Early Reports Suggest a Potential $16.1 Billion Year For Recorded Music During 2016


Each year, the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) announces official music industry figures to show how much was earned over four quarters. In March, Midia Research offered its own 2016 estimates ahead of the annual IFPI announcement – suggesting a 7% ($1.1. billion) year-over-year increase in the realm of recorded music at $16.1 billion.

Since the music industry entered into a major paradigm shift in the early days of Napster, and as illegal downloading took off across other platforms, this is considered a major uptick in annual growth. As Midia puts it, “Underpinning the growth was streaming which grew by 57% in 2016 to reach $5.4 billion, up $3.5 billion in 2015.”

While streaming music platforms were initially introduced as not only a way for fans to have legally licensed music at their fingertips but also to curb the trend in music piracy, there’s little doubt that artists and industry professionals alike have reaped the benefits of its popularity in the past couple of years. The report credits Spotify’s role in the growth, “accounting for 43% of the 106.3 million subscribers at the end of 2016.” But don’t sleep on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Deezer, who have been considered “strong contributors” to streaming growth last year.

Breaking revenue down by record label, we see that Universal, Sony and Warner Music made up a combined $11 billion in revenue, with independent labels generating $5.1 billion, or 31.3% of the global market share! As 2017 looks to offer increased figures, independent artists can rest assured that overall, recorded music can still be a viable revenue stream as more fans subscribe, listen, and discover.

iHeartRadio Expands Services For Users

Hot on the heels of announcing 100 million registered users, iHeartRadio recently released their newest services, iHeartRadio Plus and iHeartRadio All Access (powered by Napster) and we’re excited to announce that these services are now available for TuneCore Artists to distribute their music to!

iHeartRadio already offers listeners access to over 750 live streams of radio stations across the U.S., as well as the ability to build a playlist or ‘user-generated’ radio station based on an artist of their choosing. Here’s a look at how the new services stand to impact users and artists:

  • With iHeartRadio Plus, users will have access to offline listening, unlimited skips and replays, and customized radio stations for $4.99/month;
  • With iHeartRadio All Access, users get a traditional on-demand streaming platform complete with a catalog millions of songs (via Napster) for $9.99/month.
  • For TuneCore Artists, both of these new services open up the opportunity for discovery and democratic listening among iHeartRadio subscribers!

What does that mean for TuneCore Artists who have already distributed to iHeartRadio and Napster?

Since your music is already on iHeartRadio and Napster (fka Rhapsody), you’re good! You do not need to take any action to make your current active releases available on iHeartRadio Plus or iHeartRadio All Access. Any fans who search for your release(s) on iHeartRadio should be able to find them on both of these services.

For information about getting your music on iHeartRadio, learn more here.

To add your current active releases to iHeartRadio and/or Napster, head over to your Store Manager.

TuneCore Artists know they can always look to us to offer them a plethora of stores and streaming services to send their new releases to. We know that independent music is something that fans seek globally, and we strive to make sure that artists can take advantage of all available outlets in order to build their fan base.

This is a big step for iHeartRadio and their listeners, and we’re excited about what this means for our artists moving forward.

The Music Industry Belongs to the Hypercreators

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Ryan Kairalla, an entertainment lawyer based in Miami, FL. He recently published Break the Business: Declaring Your Independence and Achieving True Success in the Music Industry and also hosts the Break The Business Podcast.]

 

“You can’t use up creativity, the more you use the more you have.”
– Maya Angelou

A few weeks ago, I was giving a talk at the NAMM Conference in Anaheim, California. After it was over, a musician approached me and asked me what was the most important thing he should be doing to be more successful in his music career.

I succinctly responded: “Make music. Make lots of music. All the time.”

I could tell that this young creative was more than a little unsatisfied with my answer. Perhaps he thought I would give a lengthy discussion on the value of effective social media. Or maybe he was expecting that, as an attorney, I would talk to him about the importance of having good legal structures in place.

Granted, those things are important. But if you’re going to be in the business of making music, there is nothing more important than making as much music as you can. Today’s musicians need to be “hyper creators.”

Let’s lay down some essential truths about the current state of the industry:

  1. It has never been easier or cheaper to create quality music thanks to advancements in low-cost home recording hardware and software.
  2. It has never been easier or cheaper to distribute your music thanks to the digitalization of music and the emergence of low-cost distribution platforms.
  3. It has never been easier or cheaper to promote your music with the advent of social media.
  4. It has never been easier or cheaper to fund your music projects with the rise of online crowdfunding platforms.

Modern technology has removed nearly all of the barriers preventing artists from creating music constantly and sharing that music with a worldwide audience. Being able to make more music means that artists can have more opportunities to connect with their fans. It also means that artists can have a larger catalog of material to sell or license.

The musicians that will succeed in this world will be the ones who are best able to take advantage of these developments. This means creating lots of music—far more than the musicians of previous generations did.

The prevailing music creation model of recording and releasing an album’s worth of songs every two or three years is making less and less sense in the New Music Industry. It is a product of a bygone era where the creation, distribution, and promotion of music was an expensive endeavor, and thus bunching together the release of a small number of tracks was the way things had to be done.

Today, it is a better strategy to (1) make more music and (2) spread out the releases of your music throughout the year so that your fans never have a chance to forget about you. You can still make and release traditional albums if you so choose, but don’t do it at the expense of depriving your fans of a steady stream of new material.

Many musicians have effectively embraced the hypercreation model. Ireland-based indie acoustic artist J.P. Kallio has garnered some impressive success by releasing new original songs every week. Colorado-based Danielle Ate The Sandwich gained considerable fanfare for writing, recording, and producing an album’s worth of songs in just 24 hours (and she’s done this twice).

And then there’s New Jersey’s own Jonathan Mann. Mann has written and recorded a new original song every day for the past eight years—and counting. Mann and his catalog of nearly 3,000 songs have been featured on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and HuffPost Live.

If hypercreation seems too daunting to you, remember this: Creativity is a muscle. The more you create, the more prolific you will become. Conversely, the less you create, the more that muscle atrophies. Make creation a constant in your music career, as each song you produce gives you one more opportunity for success.

A final word of warning:

As you embrace hypercreation in your own career, you should be wary of business relationships that are not conducive to you being prolific with your art. You cannot hypercreate unless you have complete authority over when, how, and with whom you make music. As a result, you should look upon exclusive recording agreements with great skepticism.

These contracts essentially give someone else (such as a record label or producer) full control over your recording projects. Under such a deal, you would not be able to make music without that someone’s permission, and they almost assuredly will not approve of you creating new music on a weekly basis. Rather, they will favor the old release model: Make an album, wait 2-3 years, and make another album (assuming that the label/producer still wants to record with you).

In the New Music Industry – one in which the creation, distribution, and promotion of music is so conducive to hypercreation — artists should give some serious thought to the significant value in being able to create on their own terms.

TuneCore Heads to SXSW 2017!

Another year, another journey to one of the largest music conferences in the world.

In the past couple of years, TuneCore has had the honor of getting involved with SXSW in a multitude of ways; from sponsoring day parties with cool brands and blogs, to boasting four days of showcases packed with both well-known and emerging TuneCore talent.

As a digital distributor that has helped so many artists that show up in Austin to play and network each year, we’re always excited to hang out, catch awesome live sets, and connect with and make ourselves available to artists who use TuneCore!

SXSW-Announces-Select-Speakers-and-Expanded-Access-for-All-Badge-Types-for-2017

This year, TuneCore will be camped out in the SXSW Artist Lounge from Wednesday, March 15th through Saturday, March 18th – each day from 11am-6pm. There, we’ll be mixing it up with artists who’ll be showcasing all week, giving away awesome stuff, and meeting with artists interested in open consultation on topics like music distribution, publishing administration, and social media management.

At night, you can find the TuneCore crew up and down 6th Street checking out showcases and sets all over Austin in an effort to support as many of our talented TuneCore Artists as possible! Make sure to say hello if you see us out there!

Additionally, several members of the TuneCore family will be making us proud at some exclusive panels and discussions aimed at helping artists further their careers in the music industry:

  • Chris Mooney, TuneCore’s Sr. Director of Artist Relations, will be sitting on the “Transforming Online Popularity to Offline Success” panel; featuring artist manager Adina Friedman, Back 40 Entertainment’s Geniveive Thompson, and TuneCore Artist Ron Pope. March 16th 12:30pm-1:30pm 
  • Amy Lombardi, TuneCore’s Director of Entertainment Relations, is heading up the “Creating For a Cause: Making Music for Action and Awareness” discussion; featuring Broadway Records’ Van Dean, SIMMS Foundation Heather Alden, and TuneCore Artist Chaka Mpeanaji (Riders Against the Storm). March 15th 3:30pm-4:30pm

Speaking of awesome educational panels that are sure to help shape indie artists’ career strategies, we also asked our talented Music Publishing Administration team to pick out a couple of suggested discussions to sit-in on:

March 15th

New Nashville: The Evolution of Music Publishing

Invested Development: We Do What Labels Don’t

Music Publishing Meet Up

March 16th

Compulsory License Today, Direct License Tomorrow?

Creative and Financial Aspects of Sampling

March 17th

The Song and Sound Recording Performance Right

March 18th

Developments in Music Publishing: Lemons Or Lemonade?


Heading down to SXSW 2017? Give us a shout in the comments! See you down there, artists.

The Downsides of Releasing Music Often vs. Rarely

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Hugh McIntyre and is the second installment in a two-part series about how the timeliness and/or frequency of your release schedule can impact your career.]

 

Recently, I looked at the upsides that can come with releasing music either fairly often or rarely. There are plenty of good reasons to consider either one of those options, but what I didn’t discuss in detail in my piece was what could be wrong with these choices. What are the downsides to dropping albums and singles constantly, or only every so often?

Often

Ask any artist that releases a new album every year and you’ll probably hear them all say the same thing: they’re tired. Operating as a musician that shares that much material that often is exhausting in almost every way, and while it might sound terribly romantic to be so committed to your art that you’re willing to wear yourself thin to make it and put it out into the world, it’s incredibly difficult to keep up.

Between writing, recording, finishing everything else that comes with an album, and then properly promoting that new project—which means filming music videos, doing media outreach, and composing entire marketing campaigns—and that’s to say nothing of touring, it isn’t actually too difficult to imagine that refusing to take breaks in between album cycles is the sort of thing that can run anybody down, even the most ambitious and talented of artists.

If you’re constantly creating and releasing music without taking time to refresh and relax (at least for a little while), it may not take long for your art to suffer. Time is one of the necessary components to creating great music, and if you’re always working, you will see the quality of your work decrease…and everybody else will eventually notice as well. Sure, you may be selling more albums than you would if you only dropped a full length every few years, but can you keep up the pace for long? Are you really willing to all but kill yourself to get to a place where you’re worn out and creating music that may be beneath the best you can?

Also, just because you’re not taking time in between albums, that doesn’t mean that creating singles and albums (and everything else connected to these products) can be finished faster. It’s likely that putting together a 10-track record will take you essentially the same amount of time no matter how you’re doing it…so don’t you want your art to be appreciated? Putting new things out into the world constantly doesn’t let fans and the media give each piece the right amount of time and attention. If there’s always something else to hear, everybody will move on, and that can cheapen your art!

Rarely

It’s quite simple: if you don’t release a lot of music, you’ll have fewer things to sell. Even your biggest and most ardent fans are only going to buy every album you release once (or perhaps twice, depending on how you market different formats). Releasing an album every few years may help in some departments, and it may be the absolute best art you can possibly create, but you can still only sell it so many times. Sharing new tunes less frequently means you’ll need to focus on selling more copies to different people, which means more time spent promoting your limited output in the hopes of attracting new fans. Adding to your fan base sounds great (and of course it is), but it’s far easier to sell something, anything, to a fan you already have than to turn a stranger into a paying customer.

On top of having fewer opportunities to sell music, releasing music only occasionally only gives you so many chances to promote yourself, at least via traditional methods. Few blogs will want to interview an up-and-coming artist with nothing new to push, and larger publications that may only be potentially interested in you during the beginning of a cycle may miss you once, and then you’ll need to wait a long time before having a good reason to pitch them again. Even if you spend the money to hire a publicist, they’ll likely tell you that your best chances of getting press come when there is something new and exciting coming.

The same can be said for touring. Much like selling music, only the biggest and most adoring fans will come see you more than once if you have nothing new to play them. Tickets always sell better when you’re in full promotional mode, which comes with a new “era.” Plus, does it sound like fun to you as an artist to continually travel across the country playing nothing but the same few tracks?

One of the least talked-about issues facing artists that take lengthy breaks in between album cycles (or whatever we want to call it in today’s post-album economy) is that of lost momentum. Sometimes when a new or lesser-known artist starts to see their single become well known, be it on the charts or via a streaming platform like Spotify, they have already released an album or an EP that had been in the works. While some tracks become overnight sensations, it still takes a lot of acts months to see their songs go viral. Once that happens, musicians need to do everything they can to capitalize on their newfound, growing popularity. To disappear for a few years shortly after a potential fan base becomes interested is a huge wasted opportunity.

While it may be tiring, the smart thing is to try to get something out in time for those people that just arrived to the party to snap up more material, thus cementing them as fans. If you step away for a time and return years later, it might be too late for many of them, and you’ll have lost some could-have-been fans.

February Industry Wrap-Up

The cold weather is slowly on its way out and SXSW is on the horizon – must be the end of February! That’s why we’re here to wind down the month in music industry happenings. Just because it was a short month doesn’t mean there was no action – read on to catch the latest on Facebook’s upcoming video ventures, collaboration among the YouTube and Google Play Music teams, and Spotify’s ‘sunny’ new parter.

 

Facebook to Introduce Longer-Form ‘Premium’ Music Video Content


As online videos become an even more integral part of marketing and promotion for artists – from major label mainstays to indie up-and-comers – competition to serve hungry fans continues to heat up among all the big name platforms. If you’ve been reading around, you know that Facebook is a key contender in its attempts to offer users exciting ways to consume video content, including it’s rolling out of Facebook Live which paid some big name creators to help promote the service in its early stages.

Recently, Facebook’s VP of Partnerships Dan Rose expressed their desire to begin offering ‘premium videos’, with content shifting into the 5-10 minute length. According to reports, Facebook will offer indie artists and labels the opportunity to test and create episodic content while being paid directly by Facebook in the early stages; Rose says the model will shift to a rev-share after that. With almost two billion users, Facebook remains a major platform for promoting and marketing musical content.

Like anything else surrounding the world of copyright and video content, Facebook is facing concerns from members of the music industry surrounding licensing. When you’re hoping to take a slice of YouTube’s market share, at the very least, a platform should have systems in place that protect copyright holders and ensure that they can be paid properly for the use of their works. Like YouTube’s Content ID system that allows TuneCore to help artists collect their sound recording revenue when their music is used in videos across the platform, sources say that Facebook is in the process of building a parallel copyright ID program. This will be crucial in the potential success of Facebook’s upcoming premium video plans, and it goes to show the importance being placed on protecting copyrighted work – good news for artists of all stripes!

 

Google Merges Play Music & YouTube Music Teams


This past month it was revealed to media outlets that the product teams in charge of directing YouTube Music and Google Play Music will be combined into a single unit. Confirmed by Google, a spokesperson said: “Music is very important to Google and we’re evaluating how to bring together our music offerings to deliver the best possible product for our users, music partners and artists. Nothing will change for users today and we’ll provide plenty of notice before any changes are made.”

What does this mean for artists? Well, we already know that independent music makers can make their music available on YouTube and Google Play via TuneCore, but with the platforms technically being under the same umbrella, this appears to be a play towards creating a better overall user experience for music consumers. As streaming services acquire new subscribers every day, access to independent music grows and artists are able to make themselves available to fans who use all different ‘preferred platforms’ for discovering new tunes.

There’s an array of possible reasons for this internal shift at one of the biggest media companies in the world – perhaps as a move to simplify in-app listening, and more interestingly, a way for Google to negotiate deals with artists and labels. Either way, users of both apps will be able to continue using them as normal for now, and it’s highly possible that artists can look forward to a simpler way to reach YouTube- and Google Play-loyal fans in the near future.

 

Spotify’s Latest Partner is … a Weather Company?


We all know that weather impacts our moods. We all also know that music can play a similar role. But how do listeners build playlists that capture any given climate?

Ever the forward-thinking streaming platform, Spotify announced in February that is partnering with weather reporting website AccuWeather to develop and launch a site called Climatune, offering playlists for various cities based on varying weather conditions. This comes after partnerships with modern apps and companies like Uber, Tinder and Headspace, and shows that Spotify has no intention of slowing down its pace of clever collaboration with those looking to bring music into the fold.

So instead of just throwing on Banarama on those sunny days or curling up to some Morrisey during a morning rainstorm, Climatune offers playlists to music fans based on the hours and hours of research in major cities pointing to habits of listeners based on the skies. For example, did you know that residents of Chicago get excited when it rains, causing a huge lift in happier music? Houston Spotify subscribers, on the other hand, boost their acoustic listening by 121% on rainy days.

While it remains to be seen just how many subscribers will utilize this cool new service, we here at TuneCore see it as just another interesting avenue for music discovery via the popularity of playlists.