The first month of 2017 is in the books, and even with a post-holiday haze in the air, the music industry didn’t slow down. Catch up with some of the headlines from January and head into the next month informed!
Music Streaming Subscriptions Surpass Netflix
Is ‘binge-listening’ going to be a thing now? Not quite, but as Music Business Worldwide reports, at the end of 2016, a little over 100 million people were paying subscription fees for music platforms like Spotify, Deezer, and Apple Music. That’s an uptick from 68 million people who were reported subscribers at the end of 2015. The television/movie streaming giant Netflix, on the other hand, reportedly rounded last year off with 87.8 million subscribed.
MIDiA reported that according to its data, around 43 million of these subscribers preferred Spotify, 20.9 million chose Apple Music, 6.9 million subscribe to Deezer, with Napster and TIDAL faring at 4.5 million and 1 million, respectively.
Should we be surprised at the numbers? There’s no doubt that we’ve seen music fans – both active and passive – warm up to streaming in general, and more artists have felt comfortable making their releases available across platforms. While it’s taken years to get here, there’s no denying the important evolution of streaming and what it has meant for artists’ (independent otherwise) ability to earn more revenue from their music. As MIDiA’s Mark Mulligan put it, “100 million subscribers might not mean the world changes in an instant, but it does reflect a changing world.” It’s safe to say that artists have the opportunity to reach more fans – new and old – than ever before by taking advantage of the many streaming platforms out there.
Pandora, YouTube and Spotify Beat Radio For First Time
First Netflix, now radio? According to a new MusicWatch survey, it wasn’t just the household-name movie and TV service that music streaming platforms stole the shine from in 2016. Bringing to the table free and ad-supported providers like YouTube and Pandora, AM/FM Radio came in second to streaming music services for music listening. 28% of survey-takers said they prefered to stream while 24% opted for the more traditional route of terrestrial radio. Pandora (who TuneCore recently announced a partnership with) topped the chart of participants’ preferred streaming services with 28%, followed by YouTube shortly behind at 27%, and Spotify ranking third with 17% of the share.
While it could be that as radio stations become more and more conglomerated, music listeners feel that they have less and less say in what they’re hearing on AM/FM radio, it likely also boils down to the sheer amount of access that streaming music services provide. Curation and overall availability of music is key in streaming’s appeal to feverish music fans, the advent of smart mobile devices simply makes it easier even for those casual fans who don’t mind an ad or two between their daily or weekly intake of Top 40 hits.
YouTube Launches Super Chat Tool To Help Channel Owners Earn More
As Facebook wraps up its $50 million effort to spread the word about its Facebook Live feature via celebrities and other publishers, the live streaming war continues to heat up. This month, YouTube announced the launch of a product known as “Super Chat” that will give channel owners the opportunity to further monetize their live streams. Discontinuing the “Fan Funding Feature”, Super Chat will act as a sort of tip jar for YouTubers to better connect with the live streamer. For musicians, using a live stream to show off a new single, update a tour diary, make a special announcement, or host a Q&A session with fans can also mean earning extra revenue.
As fans pay, their comments (or ‘Super Chats’) will remain pinned to the top of the chat for up to five hours – this ensures that the channel owner sees their messages in a more pronounced manner, and allows the commenter to get their question/comment across with greater exposure. This opens up an opportunity for indie musicians to not only explore new ways of promoting themselves and making a little extra dough, but also discover what kinds of engagement their fans respond to. According to HypeBot, Super Chat is expected to be available for creators in 20 countries and viewers in 40 by January 31st.
Whether it’s music, gaming, or other entertainment, creators and artists/musicians of all sorts flock to the platform to connect with new and established fan bases. TuneCore has already helped countless independent artists collect their sound recording revenue from ads placed on videos using their music since 2014, and the new Super Chat feature adds an interesting method for connecting with fans in a more direct manner. It certainly helps that fans will be able to feel good about contributing money and being heard.
Rights Society SESAC Purchased by Blackstone Group, LP
SESAC, a performance rights organization (PRO) based in the United States alongside ASCAP and BMI, was offered a rumored $1 billion acquisition deal from the private equity firm Blackstone Group, LP.
Unlike ASCAP and BMI, which only collect and pay out public performance royalties for songwriters, SESAC covers public performance, mechanical, and sync in-house. These offerings were amplified by the purchase of mechanical rights powerhouse the Harry Fox Agency in 2015.
The first step into the music industry for Blackstone Group, the collection society is expected to retain their existing management team while receiving support from the equity firm, with SESAC’s CEO John Josephson remarking, “We anticipate a seamless transition in ownership with no disruption to our business activities as a result of this transaction.”
What this means for the near future of public performance collection societies is tough to comment on, but it certainly shows that SESAC, the youngest of all three, is poised for further growth. What it means for U.S.-based independent artists is that they should try to remain as informed as possible about the continued growth and new offerings from PRO’s that may help them advance their career. Head over to Billboard to see the breakdown of SESAC’s financials as we wait to hear confirmation on a deal.