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.

July News From Our Store Partners

By Stefanie Flamm

Our stores are gearing up for the second half of the year with some exciting new developments:

  • Spotify attempts to rival Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio by launching two new radio shows on their service.
  • TIDAL caters to both artists and listeners alike at the twelfth annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival in DUMBO.
  • After a two year wait, Deezer has finally been made widely available for listeners in the United States.

Spotify launches two new radio stations to compete with Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio.

Spotify is giving Apple Music a run for their money by launching two new exclusive radio stations. Similar to Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio, Secret Genius and AM/PM are artist-focused and feature new music, artist interviews, and more.

spotify-logoAM/PM focuses on the music that guest artists like to listen to, both in the morning and at night. In addition to the interviews, each episode comes packed with an AM and PM playlist curated by the guest. Guests artists thus far include Tinie Tempah, Wolf Alice, Lianne La Havas, and more.

“There’s an experimental edge to what we’re doing: let’s try this out and give it a go,” said Spotify’s Rob Fitzpatrick. “…AM/PM is an artist-friendly way of doing that without it becoming a thing that turns into a slog for them.”

Secret Genius concentrates on songwriters, interviewing different artists every week to discuss the songwriting and collaborative process. Guests have included breakout star James Blake, as well as more behind-the-scenes songwriters Nick Van Eede, Ed Drewett and Nicky Chinn.

The radio stations are available to all Spotify users, including those with free accounts.

Brooklyn Bridge Park provides a backdrop for TIDAL’s latest exclusive concerts at the 12th Annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival.

Brooklyn Bridge Park was pulsing with the sound of hip hop earliertidal logo this month. The TIDAL-sponsored 12th Annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival was a major attraction for hip hop lovers from New York and the Tri-State Area, featuring headliners like Nas and TuneCore artist Talib Kweli.

The 4-day event was held in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), a small neighborhood tucked in between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges that is home to both the festival and TuneCore’s Brooklyn office. Each day was unique, offering a different flavor of hip hop entertainment for every day of the festival.

Wednesday, July 13th kicked things off with the “Hip Hop Institute,” a series of lectures and workshops with artists and executives of the hip hop world. The lectures covered everything from making it as a musician to what it means to be a woman in hip hop. In the aftermath of several police shootings this month, keynote speaker DeRay McKesson inspired listeners with words about Black Lives Matter.  

Day two focused on hip hop and film with the Dummy Clap Film Festival. Screenings included 86-32, the 1983 documentary Style Wars, and the 25th Anniversary Screening of New Jack City. Day three took a page from Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby” video, combining visual art with music from DJ Midnite, TuneCore artist Taylor Bennett, and more. Finally, the weekend was capped off by a blowout finale concert on the waterfront, including Fabolous and Rapsody, in addition to headliners Nas and Talib Kweli.

TIDAL helped bring the Brooklyn festival to hip hop lovers everywhere, offering a live stream of the concerts throughout the weekend that can now be viewed at any time on TIDAL.

Deezer is ready to tackle the US streaming market with the long-awaited launch of their service in the United States.

Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, etc. have another streaming service to compete with, starting this month. The French streaming service Deezer has been working to launch a US version of their site for the past two years, offering limited beta memberships through partners like Bose and Cricket Wireless during that time. However, the wait is now over for the rest of us, and Deezer is fully live for streaming in the US.

“We are thrilled to make Deezer available to all music fans in the U.S., at a time when the company is growing stronger and developing new technologies that enable us to deliver a much more personalized experience. We’ve already received an overwhelmingly positive response since offering Deezer via our partners Sonos, Bose and Cricket, and now look forward to making our service available to everyone,” Deezer Global CEO Dr. Hans-Holger Albrecht said in their launch statement.

Deezer-logoDeezer’s US service is Premium-tier only, meaning there is no option for listeners to stream music free in exchange for ads. Instead, Deezer is offering a 30-day free trial for all new customers, who will then be required to pay $9.99 per month to continue with the service.

With 16 million monthly users across 180 countries, Deezer is one of the most widely-available music stores around. The service is already a household name in Europe, but it faces some tough competition this side of the Atlantic including goliaths like Apple Music, TIDAL, and Spotify. The newly-updated “flow” discovery feature, along with their quirky and hilarious advertising campaign, should be a big selling point for US listeners.

SOUND BYTES

June News From Our Store Partners

By Stefanie Flamm

The days are longer, the sun is brighter, and our digital store partners are gearing up for a summer’s worth of big updates:

  • Amazon Music plans to release a new streaming service that will compete against Spotify and Apple Music
  • US music mogul Guy Oseary, famous for representing Madonna and Nicki Minaj, has become an investor and partner of Saavn
  • Apple Music responds to negative customer reviews with a total overhaul of their interface
  • Deezer uses a simple, fun advertising strategy and sees their new user numbers triple

Our store partners are working hard to improve customer experience, offer new products, and make it easier for your fans to listen to your music.

Amazon Music is stepping into the streaming arena with a new service planned to rival Apple Music, Spotify, and TIDAL


Pretty soon, Apple Music, Spotify, et al. will see another competitor in the ring of digital music streaming. A source informed Reuters earlier this month that Amazon Music is planning to offer a standalone streaming service for, in keeping with what has become an industry standard, $9.99 per month. The service is set to launch early this fall.

2. amazon-music-logoCurrently, Amazon offers a curated catalogue of music for
streaming, available only to Amazon Prime members. The new 
service will be available outside of the Prime membership for the monthly cost of $9.99, and will offer a larger catalogue of music for streaming.

Amazon has been making huge strides in its competition with other streaming services outside of just music. Prime Instant Video is in direct competition with Netflix and Hulu, and Amazon recently launched a customer-supported video service called Amazon Video Direct which is a similar service to YouTube. It’s therefore something of a natural progression for the store to invest in a music streaming service to compete with Spotify, TIDAL, and Apple Music. The service is also likely to complement the Amazon Echo device released last year.

We’re excited to check out the service when it launches!

Saavn receives an investment from a major music industry executive. What does it mean for the service?


Legendary music executive Guy Oseary has joined Saavn as an investor and partner, as of earlier this month.

Oseary started his career at 19 years old as an A&R rep for Maverick Records. He quickly climbed through the ranks, now acting as partner and CEO for Maverick, which represents artists like Nicki Minaj, The Weeknd, Paul McCartney, and Lil Wayne.

8. Saavn-Logo-Horizontal-Green-1000Saavn isn’t Oseary’s first go at tech investment. He joined with Ashton Kutcher and Ronald Burkle to form A-Grade Investments, which has helped finance Airbnb, Spotify, SoundCloud, Shazam, and Uber. In the case of Saavn, however, this is a personal venture and is not associated with A-Grade.

Saavn CEO and Co-Founder Rishi Malhotra is excited to have Gil on the Saavn executive team. “Guy has incredible instincts across entertainment and media. He understands that we are not building the Spotify or Pandora of India. We are building Saavn in India, for India, and we’re thrilled to work with him to build the company for the long term.”

Perhaps, to quote the 1942 movie Casablanca, “this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Apple Music gets a makeover to improve their customer experience.


Between their first year anniversary coming around the corner and their recent announcement that Apple Music is now up to 15 million subscribers, it’s an exciting time to be a part of the Apple Music community.

Another big piece of news from the Apple Music front was apple-musicannounced at their Worldwide Developers Conference that took place between June 13th-17th in San Francisco. Senior Vice President Eddy Cue showed off the brand new Apple Music interface, designed to better employ the feedback received from customers over the last year. The new version of Apple Music is designed to centralize the listening experience and create a fluid transition between streaming and downloaded music.

Since the June 2015 launch of Apple Music, Apple has struggled to consolidate the pre-existing iTunes app with their new streaming service. Both listening platforms were combined into the Music app, but the interface has notably been difficult to navigate, and in rare cases has resulted in thousands of lost audio files. This new overhaul is designed to not only better harmonize iTunes and Apple Music, but it’s also making the interface easier to maneuver.

Cue detailed that the new version of Apple Music will have a mostly black-and-white interface, making the colorful album artwork pop, as well as more detailed song information and a “Recently Added” section to check in on what’s been recently downloaded or saved on the device. The new updates will also affect the desktop OS, with Apple Music sharing available directly through iMessage.

The newly designed Apple Music should be integrated with iOS 10, coming this fall, and we can’t wait to test it out.

Deezer uses their enormous registration increase to revamp their advertising strategy and help close the gap between themselves and Spotify.


Deezer took a leap last year with their first attempt at TV advertising, and it’s paid off big time. The streaming service, available in over 180 countries, has seen a 300 percent growth in daily registrations within the last year. With that momentum, they’re taking on a new strategy with a fresh set of video advertisements.

Deezer-logoDeezer’s first campaign approach is simple: what rhymes with Deezer? The commercials are straightforward and fun, and the bright colors, subtle humor, and “sounds like you” tagline give the store’s branding a friendly and approachable vibe that inspires you to check out the service. Their new campaign takes the silly but candid sentiment that brought them so much success in 2015, only now doubling-down its own absurdity. They even went for a one-two punch by adding puppies, because who doesn’t love a dog jamming out to dance music? The new “flow my music” tagline refers to their recommendation tool, but also implies an easy-to-use interface.

“Our first foray we saw a 300 percent increase in daily registrations. With those results in mind, having demonstrated TV is a success and we’re keen to unlock more of that opportunity. With this new campaign we’re broadening the offering to more audiences and more media channels,” said Christian Harris, managing director for the UK & Ireland.

As Deezer grows in strength, they hope to close the gap between themselves and Spotify. With a campaign this naturally enticing and their consequential success over the last year, it looks like Deezer is quickly becoming a huge asset to artists around the world.

Deezer is available in almost every territory, and listeners can apply for the beta in the United States.

SOUND BYTES

January News From Our Store Partners

By Dwight Brown

It’s a month into the New Year and a new day for our digital store partners and independent artists too.  

More music fans are watching YouTube than ever before. Deezer has gotten funded and is looking to conquer North America. Amazon Music is trying to further differentiate itself from other music subscription services. Q.SIC, a commercial music streaming service in Australia, is trying to make sure artists get their piece of the pie.

This is the way to start the first month of 2016 with a bang.

More eyes & ears on YouTube than ever before

YouTube-logo-full_colorThe statistics for YouTube are staggering.  A billion+ users—almost one-third of all people on the Internet—spend hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube, producing billions of views. Their watch time is up 60% year-to-year. The number of hours people spent watching videos on mobile is up 100% year-over-year.

Wow.

YouTube Red (YouTube’s subscription service), after launching in the U.S. in October, is expected to launch in Europe later this year, says MusicBusinessWorld. It opened the door in the UK and Ireland via a new licensing deal with the collection society PRS for Music. Christophe Muller, YouTube’s Head of Music, commented: “2016 will see yet more opportunities for creators, authors and composers as we launch new products and create new revenue streams.”

Note: if you’re interested in monetizing your music on YouTube, check out TuneCore’s Sound Recording Revenue collection service.

3.8 million subscribers, expanding in U.S. $109M funding

In a conversation with Billboard.com, Tyler Goldman, North American CEO of Deezer, contemplates his subscription streaming service’s entry into the U.S. and the role of non-music content.

Based in Paris, with 3.8 million revenue-generating subscribers in Deezer-logoover 180 countries, Deezer’s strategy for attracting American music fans is focusing on audiophiles who could appreciate their high-definition service, “Deezer Elite.”  Must be working – Deezer now has 300,000 subscribers in North America through its partnership with Cricket Wireless. Said Goldman, “You’re seeing a shift to not just non-music, but to a highly programmed experience. If you look to research Deezer has done, the majority of consumers want a lean back experience, and they’re willing to pay.”

As Deezer looks ahead and contemplates new customer acquisitions, it’s getting a wallop of financial support: $109 million (€100 million) of funding from lead investor Access Industries with participation from mobile telecommunications company Orange.

80M Amazon Prime Members = How many Prime Music members?

Amazon_Prime_Music_logoSubscription services like YouTube Red and Deezer have to convince new customers that streaming services are worth $10 per month. Amazon Prime Music has a different task. It has to convince a captive audience that their service is worth a go to customers of Amazon Prime—at no extra charge. GeekWire.com says there are up to 80 million Amazon Prime Members globally. And, as CNet.com points out, the ad-free music streaming service is included in the $99 annual subscription rate those 80M members already pay. All they have to do is download an app, and presto – they have the Amazon Prime Music service.

Steve Boom, vice president of digital music at Seattle-based Amazon, recognizes that years of selling vinyl, CDs, and downloads have helped them evolve into an enticing ad-free streaming service: “We have a first-row seat at exactly what people’s music purchasing behaviors had been. With Prime Music we wanted to address the customer who wants access to a lot of music… without all the interruptions [ads].”

Boom acknowledges that Amazon is the buffet table and Prime Music a tempting dessert: “You come to the home page. You might be going to shop for a new tablet… laundry detergent, garden furniture or a new record, videos… you’re going to see this [Prime Music] promotion. That’s pretty powerful.”

Streaming music to Aussie businesses is good for everyone

Finding a streaming service in Australia or New Zealand is a snap if you are an individual music fan. CNet.com lists Deezer, Google Play, Guvera and Spotify among 15 possibilities. However, for businesses, choices are fewer, and the aforementioned services are not legal options. Legally, they’re for personal use only.

So, why should artists care?

Actually, reaching businesses could be a huge opportunity for artists. A single stream of a song at home is likely to reach just a couple of people. At a store or a venue, the audience size is much larger. So in fairness, the royalty rate needs to be adjusted so artists are paid appropriately. Makes sense, especially if you’re an artist, right? The commercial streaming service Q.SIC meets this need. It makes sure artists get their fair share of royalties and that businesses can have legal access to mood-setting music for their clients. Hospitality chains are happy: “We rolled it out across all our hotels and have never looked back,” says the Co-founder of the Sand Hill Road Group. The owners of Mecca Stores chime in, “Branded curation delivered effortlessly to stores, that’s why we use it [Q.SIC] Australia wide.”

Aussies have better in-store experiences. Artists get paid fairly. Not bad.

2016 has just started and already the world of independent artists continues to look up.

SOUND BYTES

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