January 2018 Industry Wrap-Up

Copyright Royalty Board Approves Increases in Mechanical Rates


Good news for songwriters of all stripes: this month,the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) approved a series of graduated increases in mechanical royalty rates. What’s being referred to as the single largest jump in mechanical royalties in history, rates are scheduled to increase 43.8% over the course of 2018 through 2022.

The decision comes in the resolution of an original trial taking place last year, filed by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and the Nashville Songwriters Association (NSAI) against Google, Amazon, Spotify, Apple and Pandora. NMPA CEO & President David Israelite said of the decision, “We are thrilled the CRB raised rates for songwriters by 43.8% – the biggest rate increase granted in CRB history. Crucially, the decision also allows songwriters to benefit from deals done by record labels in the free market.”

Still kinda new to the music publishing game? You can read more about how your songs earn royalties here. An important takeaway from this major ruling for the average independent songwriter is that when your songs are downloaded, bought in-store, or streamed, there’s a mechanical royalty attached to that action. Even as TuneCore would help you collect the streaming revenue owed to you across platforms like Apple Music and Spotify, songwriters must be registered with a publisher/administrator to collect the other half of that revenue, which is the mechanical royalty. With rates increased per stream, that is more money in the songwriter and publishers pockets!

If you’re interested in learning more about registering your compositions with TuneCore for music publishing administration, learn more here.

YouTube Expands Red to New Markets, Updates Official Artist Channels


This month we learned that YouTube plans to expand its YouTube Red paid subscription music service into international territories outside of the U.S. Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl says that their newest licensing agreement with Universal Music and their talks with performance rights societies in places like France have played a role in this expansion.

Said Kyncl, “All this work now allows us to launch YouTube Red around the world. We have no launch date for France, but this service will be launched this year on dozens of markets in 2018.”

In other YouTube news, less than a year after the video and music streaming giant launched “Official Artist Channels”, they announced in January the ‘mandatory consolidation of all an artist’s subscribers’ under these channels. The point of this appears to be to more or less ‘clean up’ the landscape in ways that should benefit both artists and subscribers (fans).

Moving forward, if a music fan is subscribed to an ‘unofficial’ YouTube artist channel, their subscription will automatically be shifted over to that of the “Official Artist Channel”. Subscriptions to the aforementioned unofficial channels will expire and become inactive.

For artists, having fans available and subscribed in one official place that they can manage could be beneficial for reach and engagement. It will allow them to take advantage of some of YouTube’s engagement features like Community Posts, Ticketing and Mobile Live. Check out the video below for more info:

iHeartRadio Reaches 110 Million Users, Announces Updates


More good news for all of our TuneCore Artists who distribute their new releases to iHeartRadio – the streaming platform has announced a 10 million-user jump since March of 2017, surpassing 110 million in total. This is in addition to the 250 million users that use the service for streaming broadcast radio stations throughout 150 U.S. markets (850 stations all in all).

iHeartRadio announced this during January’s Consumer Electronic Show. In addition to boasting about their increased user figures, the company also introduced new or updated features across the 200+ unique platforms its streaming service is available on, including “bot for Facebook Messenger (pictured above); Bixby from Samsung; Jibo,  a social robot for the home; Garmin’s new GPS running watch, the Forerunner 645 Music; Roku; and new automotive updates with General Motors and Ford.”

Like with any digital partner that TuneCore distributes content to, we’re tipping our caps to iHeartRadio and look forward to more growth and positive updates that impact their users and our artist community.

INTERVIEW: Fanburst Seeks To Offer Independent Artists More Streaming Options

While it’s known among our artist community that getting your music in stores and streaming platforms like Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and Google Play has never been easier. But of course there are other platforms that don’t require typical digital distribution, such as Soundcloud and Bandcamp, allowing artists to host and share their music either for free for a named-price.

Beyond making their music available to the bases of dedicated fans using these platforms, another benefit has traditionally been space for those artists who are putting music out weekly or even daily. But as some of these platforms are gearing towards a paid or subscription model, the amount of space per account an artist has becomes limited, which either requires them to remove content to make room or simply not put new content out there.

Enter Fanburst – a new streaming service offered free to musicians and fans of all genres. Similar to other streaming platforms, Fanburst allows artists to set up their profiles with information about themselves, links and photos.

Founded and developed by Jeremy Yudkin and Chris Miller, Fanburst offers artists the opportunity to upload and host an unlimited amount of releases, from albums to singles – all the special price of 100% free. Since launching in beta last year, the two founders have been working with artists to garner feedback and figure out how they can better serve creators and fans alike.

As with services like Soundcloud, we’ve never been shy about encouraging artists to take advantage of ALL their options when it comes to getting their music into the world. Discovery is a challenge, so why not cast a wide net? If you’re covering fans who love to use Soundcloud, it’s equally important to cover fans who prefer Apple Music or Spotify – and vice versa. Fanburst is another platform to reach fans, and that should please any independent artist

We had the chance to chat with them in a quick interview below about launching Fanburst and what they hope to achieve with this exciting new platform.

Tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and how you got together to start building Fanburst.

Jeremy: Chris [Miller, co-founder] was one of my customers in a previous venture, and we were spending a lot of time talking about music and the future for artists. At some point, we decided we should build something together. We wanted to take both of our skill sets, as well as our shared passion for music, to start solving problems that we saw for emerging and established artists.

What kind of input were you getting from indie artists during the development of Fanburst?

Artists just want to be heard. Really, it’s so hard to get discovered, but it’s not impossible. Indie artists have to just get their music out into every marketplace, streaming service, and digital platform there is. If an indie artist writes an amazing tune and it takes off on Fanburst, it will still have carry over onto other platforms.

Also, artists are creating a lot of music and they need a way to share and publish it. The finished ones, the drafts, and just ideas – we didn’t want any artist not to share something. We built Fanburst so every artists at any point could upload their music.

Similarly, what kind of feedback have you received since launching? How have you been engaging with artists to improve and adjust?

The feedback has been awesome – especially from new and developing artists. We’re helping artists get their first few fans, and it snowballs from there. More fans here helps to drive word of mouth, and then artists have the opportunity to grow.

What advice do you have for young up-and-coming artists when it comes to delivering their content online?

Get your music everywhere – get on TuneCore, they make it easy. But also get your music anywhere TuneCore doesn’t distribute. Also: be early adopters on platforms – you can get lucky and become the big fish in a small pond and dominate.

Also, keep writing and working on your art. It compounds and improves, just like any other skill, so just get better every day, bit by bit.

How do you envision Fanburst living aside big name players like Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer?

Hopefully we develop a unique, independent community where artists can catch some new fans. We think music is going to be a lot bigger than it currently is, and it likely will play out with a lot of platforms and lots of different fan experiences where artists can take advantage of.

We hope the artists using Fanburst are also using the other services, because we think its a net win when artists are growing everywhere.

What can you leave us with in terms of the exciting future ahead of Fanburst?

We think we’re planning on rolling out a bunch of interesting features that will help artists grow their fans, grow across other platforms, and drive revenue. For now, making sure the platform is simple and easy – that’s our focus.

December Industry Wrap-Up

Amazon Music Unlimited Expands to 28 Countries


Back when TuneCore got started, Amazon was one of the first stores we helped independent artists get their music into. It was a different digital landscape back then, but over the next decade Amazon would evolve in pretty miraculous ways – bringing us to the age of in-home smart technology.

Amazon’s Alexa smart speakers have made it easy for music fans to get access to instant streaming music from its Music Unlimited service. This month, Amazon announced that both Alexa and Music Unlimited would be available in an additional 28 countries! A wider rollout throughout Europe and South America is sure to please hungry listeners looking for a new layer of convenience.

Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music said, “Music is such an incredible global connector, and with Amazon Music Unlimited we’ve been able to give listeners access to an extensive catalog with the added experience of using their own voice to hear music in so many ways with Alexa.”

We’re always reminding independent artists that in addition to getting their releases onto popular platforms in their respective countries, by distributing to those additional platforms in territories they know less about, they’re opening up the doors to discovery for new fans. We’re always ready to celebrate new development from our store partners like Amazon Music, especially when it means new opportunities for TuneCore Artists to be heard.

YouTube “Remix” Music Service – Potential March ‘18 Launch


We all know at this point that YouTube is a major destination for music fans – from music videos to Art Tracks to exclusive user-generated content, it’s become an undeniable force in the industry. (No wonder TuneCore helps you get your releases on there AND collect potential revenue from sound recording use on others channels!)

Of course, YouTube’s road to becoming a streaming destination has been rocky in terms of how fans consume and pay for subscriptions (if they choose to). Between YouTube Red and Music Key, all signs point to YouTube consumers being less likely to sign up for a subscription service. With so much to offer users in the way of content, it’s not entirely unsurprising that when it comes to music, YouTube appeals to more ‘passive’ listeners who are willing to sit through some ads and use an app that also allows them to watch videos.

YouTube’s latest rumored offering, known internally as “Remix”, appears to take on more of a model that’d be similar to Spotify or Apple Music. While like any other streamer these days they’ll have to navigate negotiations with the majors, there’s certainly no reason not to be optimistic about Remix if you’re an independent artist. As Music 3.0’s Bobby Owsinski put it:

The best part about a Remix launch for artists, labels, songwriters and publishers will be the fact that there’s another deep-pocketed entity in the game with hopefully more marketing muscle than Google’s previous efforts. Nothing bad about another potential revenue stream.”

While it’s not an official announcement, Bloomberg reported that the new paid service could come as soon as March 2018.

Practice of Fractional Licensing For PRO’s Upheld in U.S. Appeals Court


In what’s being heralded as a “massive victory” for songwriters and publishers, it was announced this month that the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold a 2016 decision allowing for the practice of fractional licensing.

ASCAP and BMI, the two leading performing rights organizations in the U.S., joined forces to challenge the U.S. Department of Justice, which was seeking to end the practice of fractional licensing. Without fractional licensing, songwriters and copyright holders are forced to adhere to ‘100% licensing’, without the ability to split up royalties – both PRO’s believed that the DOJ’s mandate would “cause unnecessary chaos in the marketplace and place unfair financial burdens and creative constraints on songwriters and composers”.

The 100% licensing requirement was an update made by the DOJ, creating legal and logistical obstacles for creators. While both PRO’s believe this to be a ‘2-year distraction’ that resulted from their original goal of updating the standing consent decree that they considered to be outdated.

Given the benefits to those songwriters, composers and publishers associated with either or both of the two PROs, ASCAP and BMI received unwavering support from members and the music industry overall during this period of uncertainty.

Songwriters who have signed up and registered compositions via TuneCore Publishing Administration can rest easy when it comes to the continuation of fractional licensing.

November Industry Wrap-Up

Spotify Adds More Artist Friendly Features


As “Spotify For Artists” evolves and continues to set the tone for streaming platforms and how they allow artists to control their profiles, this month marked another update that most who distribute their music there should be happy about. Spotify introduced “Artist’s Pick”, a new feature aimed at allowing artists to control the music that sits on top of their profile – they can pick any album, track, or playlist they prefer to highlight, and even include a message about why they dig it so much.

In addition to “Artist’s Pick”, artists who distribute their music to Spotify can now add custom images and share geotargeted tour dates. Previously, artists were limited to their profile image when it came to these sort of uploads/customizations – now they can add photos from on the road, album art, or hey, even a fun selfie for the heck of it. As far as tour dates are concerned, this new feature actually coincides with the “Artist’s Pick” feature, as they can choose to make their geotargeted tour date the main focus of a user’s attention up top! Both of these go a long way in offering free tools that allow indie artists to engage and connect with their fans via an increasingly popular streaming platform. We’ll be sure to keep you updated month to month as all the stores/services we help you distribute to make announcements like this!

YouTube Announces Partnership with TicketMaster


Remember last year when Spotify partnered with Ticketmaster to integrate local tour dates into artists’ profiles? Well, YouTube is getting in on the fun! The video streaming giant owned by Google announced in November that they’d begin featuring “hundreds of artist’s upcoming US tour dates on their YouTube videos.

When it comes to music – love it or hate it – a LOT of music fans rely on YouTube to stream their favorite music these days. It remains to be seen what differences lie among those who use YouTube to stream versus those who prefer services like Deezer, Spotify or Apple – specifically in how these users engage with their favorite artists or how often they’d pay to go see them live in concert. But this certainly signals a shift in YouTube’s strategy for additional revenue streams, or at least an attempt to diversify from their main source of dough: advertising.

If you’re an independent artist and you distribute your music to all platforms available, this only increases the access your fans – whether they’ve been with you from the beginning or are just discovering your tunes – have to your upcoming live dates.

Google Assistant Adds Song Recognition Feature


It’s unlikely at this point that you haven’t been hearing a lot more about Google Assistant. The tech behemoth has been making cool updates to their voice-controlled feature available on Google and Android driven devices, and it’s latest involves music.

Eerily similar to the process that helped put Shazam (which TuneCore distributes to) on the map, users with Google Assistant can now instantly get more information about the music being played in their surroundings.

By holding down a home button (to trigger Google Assistant) and asking your device what song is playing, you’ll immediately be served with a song title, the artist and a sample of the song’s lyrics (where applicable). But of course, that’s not all you’ll get: in typical Google fashion, links to Google Play, YouTube and search (for more information) are also offered up with each response.

While it’s not an incredibly revolutionary addition, it’s important to remember that this action no longer requires a music fan to have additional apps they may not have previously considered downloading to get instant access to the new music they’re hearing. That stands to impact artists of all career levels when it comes to how quickly discovery can lead to fandom.

Deezer Announces New “Community” Feature


While the messaging/sharing and social networking elements of streaming services have been explored, blown up, and in some cases completely dialed back, Deezer has decided to open up the conversation…among its users, of course. In November the streaming platform announced that its subscribers can access the Deezer Community feature in order to share new tunes with their friends on the platform, receive Deezer news and updates, and join fellow music lovers on their message board-like system in order to find support, share tips, or act as a leader in conversations about artists and genres.

While it may seem less relevant in 2017, one must not forget about the power of message boards and forums among diehard music fans. They’ve long been a refuge for those active listeners looking to share new deep cuts, discover underground singles, and participate in deep topic conversations with like-minded folks. In the same way that vinyl and cassettes are still being purchased by some, these forums and communities too are populated with vocal and fervent music fans, (don’t believe us? Just check out indie hip hop label Stones Throw’s boards for yourself!)

We’re psyched to see the European streamer get its toes wet in the social game, because after all, when it comes to independent music, word of mouth can be everything.

October Industry Wrap-Up

Spotify Adds Playlist Pitching Options, Partners With Google & Launches New App


October was a busy month for Spotify! They’ve announced some recent updates that impact fans, labels and artists. For music fans who use Google and Android smart devices, an advanced partnership now allows Spotify subscribers to use voice command control of the app using  Google Assistant. Formerly relegated to Google Home smart-speakers, this marks a move towards Google’s acceptance of Spotify’s high subscription rate and putting it front-of-mind when updating its mobile offerings. While Andorid users can rejoice in their ability to say “OK Google, Play Spotify”, Music Ally points out that the tech giant may still be leaning toward YouTube being the lead music brand for Google going forward, as it merges with Google Play.”

For independent labels, pitching for slots on playlists and Spotify’s ‘Browse’ section can be as difficult for those without representation. There also remains an internal struggle between the promotion of label playlists and Spotify’s own in-house playlists. As such, Spotify has moved to offer a new system for indie labels aimed at giving their artists a better shot at making it onto playlists while also (ideally) giving labels’ playlists “a better chance of building an audience on Spotify.” Read more about the pitching system here, and as indie artists, keep your eyes out for more transparent pitching opportunities in the future!

Finally, as creators are concerned, Spotify launched it’s “Spotify For Artists” app on iOS. We’ve talked about the “Spotify For Artists” app on the Blog before, so it’s exciting to see such a helpful tool being offered to artists right in their pocket. An Android version is soon to follow, but for now, indie artists with iOS devices can edit their bios and their ‘artist’s pick’, as well as update their playlists and keep an eye on their listener analytics.

2017 On-Demand Streams Soar in the U.S.


We know, even though it feels like time is flying, the year isn’t over yet. But as a digital music distributor serving independent artists with the opportunity to make their music available on dozens and dozens of digital streaming platforms, we can’t help but get excited about figures like this: on-demand audio and video streams are up 40.5% in the U.S. so far in 2017

At 442.44 billion streams so far, MusicAlly once again provides a helpful comparison that shows that this year, eight tracks have already toppled last year’s most-streamed track, “Panda” by Desiigner, in the comparative window of time.

While the top artists being streamed are no doubt most of the big-timers you’d expect to see leading the way, it’s important as ever to look at these types of figures as an overall shift toward the trend of streaming. Once a consumption method for the ‘active’ music listener, more and more subscribers means more and more music discovery. With direct access to these platforms, it puts independent artists in a good position to be marketing their releases across fans’ preferred channels for streaming.

BandsInTown Announces “Big Break” Platform For Emerging Artists


BandsInTown – if you don’t already know (and you should) – is a popular app aimed at helping artists promote their concerts/tour dates and helping fans keep track of when all their favorite performers will be playing locally. In addition to helping fans discover new artists by offering concert dates for bands they don’t already follow on Facebook via a “listen-if-you-like” style algorithm, BandsInTown is launching their “Big Break” platform in an effort to promote new independent artists.

The new feature “highlights everything you need to know about the fresh faces turning the industry upside down. From the secrets behind their viral tracks to their big plans for the future…”, supported by a series on their blog. BandsInTown will select 50 artists in order to grow their ‘trackers’ following from 500 to 5,000.
This is a very cool step towards further connecting indie artists with new and potential fans. The app is already right up any diehard music fan’s alley in terms of keeping up with their favorite acts’ performing schedules – even for local artists. Head on over to their blog to learn more about the platform and how to keep up with the opportunities coming from the app down the road.

September Industry Wrap-Up

Spotify Expands Video Features, Partners With Hulu


It’s rare that a month goes by without some sort of news around the music streaming platform Spotify’s latest ventures. Last month, we reported on Spotify extending a test to U.S. customers that added videos to their playlists, specifically within its wildly popular “Rap Caviar” playlist.

This past month, Spotify rolled the feature out globally. The expansion was highlight by an exclusively-shot video for pop star Sam Smith’s latest ‘Too Good At Goodbyes’ single. Included in 40 popular international playlists, this quick development one month from its initial testing shows that the company is feeling confident in the feature’s reception from fans. As MusicAlly points out, the expansion of this feature is notable as it highlights Spotify’s video strategy shifting towards playlists as opposed to original shows.

Speaking of original shows, Spotify has also expanded its marketing of premium subscriptions by partnering with another likeminded and innovative player in the media space, Hulu. The two industry disrupters have teamed up much to the delight of college students heading back to campus this semester by offering a bundled subscription package: just $4.99/month for Spotify Premium and Hulu’s on-demand streaming plan. Spotify already offers a $4.99 student special, but this bundling deal is sure to sweeten the offering for a lot of tempted college kids looking for entertainment on the cheap!

Between finding new ways to entice paying subscribers and expanding artist-friendly creative features that we’re seeing in their video strategy, all signs point to Spotify staying on course as an innovative leader in a space in which indie artists can earn more revenue. We already know that music videos continue to be a big part of artists’ marketing strategies, and this combined with college campuses being a breeding ground for new music fans gives artists all the more motivation to get creative in this space.

 

RIAA Reports Strong Growth in Music Industry Thanks to Streaming


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) dropped it’s 2017 mid year music industry review in September, and it turns out everything is coming up streaming! Not a huge surprise to most, obviously, but the numbers are definitely encouraging overall.

Comprising 62% of U.S. industry revenue in 2017 so far, paid streaming is now the largest contributor to the industry, a slice of the pie once dominated by digital downloads. In fact in just two years, that number jumped up from 33% in 2015 – while digital downloads accounted for 22% less this year, down to 19% from 41% in 2015.

Another less surprising point from this report is Spotify and Apple Music remaining ahead of the pack in terms of paid subscribers; but it’s important to note that paid music subscriptions overall grew in the U.S. to 30.4 million – a 50% jump.

Music to investors in the space’s ears? Probably. But the big takeaway for TuneCore and the indie artist community we support: streaming continues to grow among music lovers, giving artists more and more opportunities to get their music heard and discovered on the platforms we distribute to.

 

Australia’s Music Market Emboldened by Indies


A joint report by Deloitte and AIR (Australian Independent Record Label Association) dropped this month, revealing that Australia’s independent labels account for 30% of the country’s $400 million music market.

Always known for some its legendary independent labels and innovative music, Australia ranks #6 in the world music market share. Streaming accounted for 55.9% of digital revenues in 2016, up almost 30% from 2014-15.

While some indie artists may overlook the continent’s power in terms of music discovery, we here at TuneCore are celebrating the figures in this report – because whether it was an indie label or directly through distributors like TuneCore, this shows an encouraging trend towards independent music’s popularity.
Additionally, it’s a helpful reminder that when you distribute your releases worldwide, territories you might not personally visit or tour in can be viable when it comes to revenue and building a fanbase. Read the whole report here.