March Industry Wrap-Up

March 29, 2018

U.S. Recorded Music Revenues On The Rise

The Recording Industry Association of America released its recorded music figures for 2017 in April. One major takeaway from the report was a 16.5% increase in retail value from 2016, up to $8.72 billion, and a 12.6% overall rise to $5.9 billion in wholesale revenue collection. If you’ve been following our monthly industry wrap-ups or if you’re an artist tracking revenue sources over the past few years, it should be no surprise where the RIAA points to as a cause of these increases: music streaming and streaming subscriptions.

We all know streaming has been soaring in terms of adoption from fans – old and young – and that each month reveals higher subscription numbers. Something that hasn’t been discussed a ton, though, is the decline of digital download sales. The RIAA’s report actually shows that in 2017, sales of CDs, vinyl and other physical media has actually surpassed digital downloads in revenue generated.

As The Verge points out, there’s another understated but interesting takeaway from all of this revenue data: “limited tier subscriptions” and their dent in the subscription market. Limited tier subscriptions can be defined as streaming subscriptions with ‘some sort of major constraint’ – the examples given in their article include Pandora’s “Pandora Plus” paid radio service and Amazon’s $4/month unlimited streaming-on-Echo subscriptions. These types of subscriptions not only make up 14% of the greater pie chart, they’re also up 11% year over year.

Regardless of how much of an impact your individual releases made in 2017, it’s encouraging to see to an overall rise in music revenue across the board as TuneCore continues to help artists get their music sold and streamed!


Spotify: In-Car Integration, Auto-Mixed Playlists, & More

It’s rare that we’re able to get through a monthly industry news wrap-up without mentioning our friends at Spotify. The streaming giant continues to attract new subscribers, innovate its platform, and introduce features that benefit our community of TuneCore Artists – and as long as they and others make announcements that can help our artists get heard and discovered by more fans, we’ll keep covering it!

Much like when we began seeing Sirius/XM Radio subscriptions being parlayed into new automobile purchases, Cadillac will begin offering an app they collaborated with Spotify on to let Premium subscribers use a car-friendly interface to browse their libraries and stream directly as they drive. This is the first move we’ve seen from a streaming platform to go above and beyond the method of simply plugging a mobile device into an auxiliary cord in order to listen to music via their preferred service. At the moment Cadillac owners will have to go through the systems “infotainment” app store to take advantage of this feature, so we’ll have to wait and see how the automaker decides to market it.

Ever a hub for popular playlists, Spotify appears now to be testing out a feature that allows songs within a playlist to be mixed together. Music Ally was tipped off about this unannounced update this month, pointing out that on certain playlists, when you turn off the ‘crossfade’ feature, it’s almost as if a DJ set is being composed right before your eyes (ears?). Without any official announcement from Spotify it is difficult to tell where this is going, but we definitely recommend testing it out yourself and keeping an eye out for any more updates in the near future.

Speaking of Spotify playlists, streaming analytics provider ChartMetric published a report on its blog showing a quantitative breakdown of “context-based” playlists by listener. Noting that people are focusing less on what genre they feel like listening to (content-based), the rise of followers attributed to playlists based on activities such as working out or eating dinner at home and time-related events has remained steady over the past year. Genre tags go from things like “Pop” or “Latin” to “Chill”, “Sleep”, or “Workout”.

ChartMetric points out that while “contextual marketing” has been adopted across countless other industries, the music business has traditionally been locked into a “genre-based listener segmentation”. This is something to keep in mind next time you’re setting up your release and pitching to stores like Spotify, which you can do via TuneCore’s “Feature Submission Form” – specifically where you’re given space to talk about the release, perhaps a new focus on keywords around these types of playlist will help catch editors’ eyes.


Social Media Habits Study Show Demographics & Preferred Platforms

In March, The Pew Research Center dropped their latest study of social media habits among Americans – something that should grab your attention if you’re an indie artist looking to take advantages of popular platforms in order to promote your music and connect with fans. We’ve offered plenty of takes on how to approach your social media marketing strategies, but it’s rare that we stop and think, “Who’s on what?”

Perhaps it’s worth stopping to think about the demographics of your current fan base. Do folks who like/follow your accounts tend to be a little younger? Or have you noticed an increasing population of music fans over 30 showing up to your gigs? Or maybe you’re still building, but you know which demographics you’d like to be promoting your music to for the sake of discovery.

In an era where something as useful as social media seems cluttered and over-saturated, studies like this can be used strategically when it comes to allocating ad dollars or zeroing in which channel(s) to dedicate content to.

Head over to the report and start taking notes, artists!

Tags: featuring music industry news pew riaa spotify