June Industry Wrap-Up

Spotify Tests “Sponsored Songs” and Expands Concert Listings


In lieu of traditional audio ads that ‘freemium’ tier users of Spotify hear during a given listening session, Spotify is testing a new process that would allow artists and labels to pay for placement of their song – thus monetizing the free listening associated with this kind of membership. This opens up the potential for artists to to secure a place on playlists, which have soared in popularity among subscribers of all kinds over the past couple of years.

Users of the ad-supported tier will have the option of opting out of this test; and Spotify has confirmed that even if the test is successful, this feature will only remain on this tier. Relying heavily on its plethora of data, Spotify will target sponsored song placement based on listening habits.

While sponsored songs’ likeness to the traditional ‘payola’ models of old terrestrial radio is up for debate, it does represent a shift in how Spotify manages its ‘freemium’ platform and drives revenue from those still unwilling to subscribe for a monthly or annual fee. Spotify has remained one of the few popular streaming platforms to offer a free listening tier, and there has long been speculation around whether or not the company would be willing to eliminate it; the ‘freemium’ model is a key differentiating offer when compared to its growing and formidable streaming rival Apple Music.

It remains to be seen how this will be rolled out and made available to independent artists, but if it is made reasonably affordable and accessible to music makers outside of the label system, they could stand to benefit from the feature by reaching new listeners who are more likely to tune into a ‘sponsored song’ then a generic advertisement.

Spotify also announced that in addition to its partnerships with Ticketmaser and digital ticketing platform SongKick, users will now be able to access artists’ upcoming tour dates via a collaboration with Eventbrite and AEG’s AXS. This means more hometown venues, more touring territories, and more opportunities to promote local live experiences for fans.

LANDR Celebrates 1 Million Users


TuneCore’s pals over at LANDR – the tool that allows independent artists to instantly master their tracks at an affordable rate – have hit a major milestone: one million users! LANDR has continued to offer a great solution to artists hoping to polish the sounds of their tracks while lacking a robust mastering budget.

Throughout most of June, LANDR partnered with TuneCore Artist Chance the Rapper, donating $1.00 for every user that masters a track Chance’s Chicago-based “Social Works” Music Academy, as well as 10% of all purchases. We always love to see great brands connecting with great artists, and the charitable element of this arrangement only warms our hearts more.

Google Play Music’s New Release Radio Feature Launches


No matter what music streaming platform your fans dig the most, (and remember, we help you get your releases on a lot of ‘em!), we can all agree that they should be aware of new releases each week. After all, with so much music being digitally released each year, listeners can feel a bit overwhelmed, and it helps to have a little curated direction when it comes to being alerted about the latest and greatest.

Much like Spotify’s “Release Radar” or Apple Music’s “My New Music Mix” features, Google Play Music announced this month that it’s now offering a feature for subscribers called “New Release Radio”. It’s essentially, according to the Android Authority blog, “a playlist that offers up the latest new release and is actually updated on a daily basis to ensure that you’ve always got something new to listen to.”

As personalized, data-driven playlists and features continue to increase in popularity among streaming platforms, Google’s New Release Radio is a welcomed addition. We look forward to seeing how TuneCore Artists can make their music more discoverable to more fans.

ASCAP and YouTube Strike a Performance Rights Deal


In an era in which artists and songwriters have been forced to be more vigilant when it comes to collecting digital royalties, video streaming giant YouTube and performance rights organization ASCAP have reached a multi-year agreement for public performance rights and data collaboration in the U.S. This comes as a sigh of relief to many who have been seeking ways to ensure that royalties are being paid to songwriters, composers and publishers when their works are streamed on YouTube.

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews says, “This agreement achieves two important ASCAP goals – it will yield substantially higher overall compensation for our members from YouTube and will continue to propel ASCAP’s ongoing transformation strategy to lead the industry toward more accurate and reliable data.”

Good news for TuneCore Artists who are affiliated with ASCAP: this new deal will allow the two parties to address the issues around identifying and compensating songwriters using the extensive amount of data they have available. This, in general, is also another important step towards creating a system within the digital music economy that holds platforms and rights societies responsible for proper royalty payments.

April Industry Wrap-Up

Facebook Launches ‘Chat Extensions’ That Encourage Music Sharing

As both streaming music and social media use has evolved over the years, it became pretty obvious pretty quickly that people love to share whatever new music they’re digging with their networks. Spotify was an early player in this arena by connecting social profiles to their platform so that users can see in a feed what the folks they follow are listening to at any given time of day. On top of this feature, users have always been able to send music directly to one another via a built-in messaging app.

As the social media giant Facebook looks to appeal to more and more businesses that use the platform for leads and engagement with customers, they’ve announced the introduction of ‘Chat Extensions’ within their messenger platform. The primary function of this launch is to offer the ability to perform actions within Facebook Messenger without switching apps.

For Spotify, this means the launching a new ‘bot’ that includes search, recommendations, and the ability to share 30-second song clips as well as launch Spotify from the app to hear full songs. Friends now have more options for sharing and discovering music within their chat windows. Facebook has revealed that a similar launch to support Apple Music integration is on the way, too.

As Facebook continues to beef up its music department in general and looks to innovative streaming platforms for partnerships, indie artists of all genres can feel good about new ways for fans to be sharing their tunes with friends.

A Month of Updates From Spotify

It’s hard to get through one of our ‘Monthly Industry Wrap-Ups’ without breaking recent news related to streaming giant and our friendly partner Spotify! This month, Spotify re-structured its multi-year license agreement with global music rights agency Merlin – which represents independent music companies like Beggars Group, Secretly Group, Domino, Sub Pop, and others.

The big story from this signing is that the updated agreement allows these labels to ‘window’ releases for Spotify Premium users only – a tactic used by major label groups to limit access to a release for usually up to two weeks. The significance of windowing is that it allows releases to only be made available to users that contribute higher streaming rates, (when you’re a ‘freemium’ Spotify user, you are using an account that gets served ads and each time you play a song, it pays out less than that of Premium subscribers’ streams who pay a monthly fee).

Spotify and other streaming platforms are required to sign licensing agreements with both independent and major label groups. But what’s new here is the apparent bargaining scraps indie labels have when it comes to keeping up with the majors. As a distributor that sees its artists getting signed to indie labels on a regular basis, it’s encouraging to see that they’re able to take advantage of opportunities offered by streaming platforms like Spotify.

Additionally this month, Spotify rebranded their “Fan Insights” – data about who is listening to artists, from numbers of monthly listeners to cities they’re being streamed in most – as “Spotify For Artists”. It’s available to all artists and managers, and is designed to be a ‘one-stop shop’ that allows you to track growth, update creative profile assets, and feature particular songs and playlists. Here at TuneCore, we’re always excited to see more data and insights being offered to artists to help them make business and branding decisions. If you haven’t already, head over to Spotify’s site to take advantage of these updates.

Google Play Music Gets Cozy With Newest Samsung Galaxy Model

As competition for subscribers and listeners continues to heat up among music streaming platforms, so too does competition among mobile device manufacturers. Nowhere is that more obvious than between Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy. As each company strives to attract brand loyalty to their respective operating systems, Samsung announced that its latest model, the Galaxy S8, has made Google Play Music its preferred music player.

That means those who pick up the newest Galaxy S8 will get the opportunity to use Google Play Music with enhancements just for them. One of these is an increase in cloud locker storage, with Samsung users being able to upload up to 100,000 tracks that can be streamed from anywhere (up from 50,000 for other users). Also, Samsung promises that it’s choice music player will support Samsung’s smartphone assistant, Bixby, “once support for voice commands is actually ready to roll out.”

It remains to be seen how many Galaxy S8 users will adopt Google Play Music over a preferred service, but it’s no doubt that Samsung will do what they can in collaboration to make it more attractive. For independent artists, it’s just another push for a platform that is carrying your releases already (unless, of course, you still need to add your music to Google Play!), and it may in turn end up being a great excuse for you to be promoting your Google Play links, as well.

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.

4 Ways To Engage With Fans in Digital Stores

You already know how to get your music into over 150 digital stores and streaming services worldwide – whether it’s a single, a brand new EP/full-length, or even just a cover song to surprise and delight your fans with.

And while it’s easy to get caught up with the desire to end up on Spotify playlist or get featured in the iTunes Store, independent artists often overlook some even easier ways to solidify their presence and interact with fans in some of these well-known streaming and download platforms.

Let’s take a look at a few simple ways you can engage fans and make your music easier to find when they come hunting:

spotify

1. Set Up a Spotify Verified Artist Account

Start building a community of fans who want to discover music through you – with a Spotify ‘verified artist account’ you can let your fans know when you’ve made a  playlist or share a new song. Your account will be linked to your discography pages, (making them easily searchable) and you’ll be creating a direct-to-fan channel within Spotify.

Once you’ve distributed your music to Spotify and signed up for your own account (avoid signing up with a Facebook profile), head over to this site to complete Spotify’s “Verification Form”. Be prepared to have a URL to a hosted 200×200 pixel profile image on the form. Click here to download a PDF of Spotify’s “Best Practices Guide”.

Next, add a playlist to your account (make sure to ‘right click’ on the playlist name to ‘Make Public’) – that way, you’re not launching an empty page.

Finally, share it with your fans! Copy and paste the playlists’ ‘http link’ and let your fans on Facebook and Twitter know you’re open for business.

2. Get Access to Spotify Fan Insights

Last November we reported on one of Spotify’s coolest roll-outs: Fan Insights. Now you can find out who your fans are, where they are in the world, how they listen, what their other musical preferences are and how they engage.

spotify fan insightsYou can still head over to Spotify’s Artist site and request access to the beta version of Fan Insights here.

 

Google Play

3. Set Up a Google Play Artist Page

If you’ve distributed your latest releases using TuneCore, it’s pretty likely that you’ve decided to include Google Play in the stores we send your music to. And why wouldn’t you? Google has risen to the ranks as one of the biggest household names in digital media, and Google Play serves as it’s platform for getting music, videos, apps and more in the hands of fans.

Selling your music, personalizing your store page and reaching users with your music on Google Play is easy! After you’ve made sure that your music has gone life on Google Play, head over to the Google Play Artist Hub.

Google Play Artist Hub

From there you can sign in with your Google account, find your artist name, and you’ll even be able to use a credit card (without being charged) to protect against “artist impersonation”.

apple music

4. Claim Your Profile on Apple Music Connect

By now, Apple Music has made enough headlines and become enough of a go-to platform for so many fans that as an indie artist, you want to make the most of it. Apple Connect is described as a ‘place where musicians give their fans a closer look a their work, their inspirations, and their world.

When you claim your profile on Connect, you can engage directly with your fans and share audio, photos and videos. Get started by visiting this site and signing in with your Apple ID.

AppleMusicConnect2

From there, you can search for your artist name or paste a link to your iTunes artist page and claim that profile.  Additionally, you’ll be asked for your Artist Management and Label contact information – keep in mind, TuneCore does not fulfill either of these, so if you’re lacking this information, just put in your own personal contact information twice and move on.


Now that you’ve stepped up your store game, head over to your social media profiles and break out that email list – it’s time to start sharing some links!

March News From Our Store Partners

By Dwight Brown

It’s spring. It’s a time for growth. Change is in the air at our digital stores.

  • New Google Play Music app adds YouTube video search.
  • CÜR streaming launches and targets the tech savvy crowd.
  • Spotify finds a new way to highlight emerging artists.
  • Rhapsody is growing faster than daisies on a spring lawn.

New update pairs YouTube videos. New desktop app saves time.


YouTube-logo-full_color copyA new update to the Google Music app will allow users to search for YouTube videos from within the app, reports Radio & Internet News. The upgrade will only show music-related video hits, such as clips with official audio or a cover of a track. In version 6.4 of the app, video results will appear for all users, including paying listeners and non-subscribers. This comes as other streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal) are also sticking their toes in the video content waters.

In other Google Music news, Huffington Post notes that an updated version of Google Play Music Desktop Player, a third-party app, has launched for Mac and Linux, making listening to the service a smoother desktop experience. Music fans no longer have to open a tab on a web browser to listen to their favorite music. They can use media keys to navigate tracks, utilize voice controls and custom hotkeys, and use less memory.

Well-connected, interactive music fans get a new playground.


CÜR Music launched after a successful round of funding that put cur_logo_blue copy$1.75m in their coffers. Radio & Internet News states that late in 2015, the streaming service was billing itself as “a social, mobile and web streaming music application.” In 2016, CÜR’s identity has been fine-tuned to “a mix of internet radio, expertly curated stations and your own playlists all-in-one.”

A CÜR rep lauded other compelling features: “A ‘CÜR8’ profile allows a select number of on-demand songs that the individual can change daily. Listeners will be able to personalize their experience with photos and videos, as well as sending songs to their friends.” For artists who create their own CÜR8 profile, there is a clear opportunity to showcase songs, interact with fans and send messages. Luckily for everyone, sharing works in both directions.

Spotify shines a new light on emerging, undiscovered artists.


spotifySpotify’s new Fresh Finds playlist is a hybrid of human curation and data-driven algorithms designed to bring music fans the best from both types of playlist creators. Spotify’s programmers will follow blogs and music sites to scout out the latest new talent and use data from listeners that have been identified as tastemakers. Their searches are designed to break the next big act, says Radio & Internet News.

“By analyzing the listening behavior of our top tastemaker users, we’re able to predict new breakout artists and filter their hits-to-be into playlists with the most promising new music out there,” says Dr. Brian Whitman, Spotify’s principal scientist.

Music Business Worldwide lists the five Fresh Finds genre categories: Fire Emoji (hip-hop), Basement (electronic), Hiptronix (vocal pop), Six Strings (guitar driven) and Cyclone (experimental). A new door is opening for emerging TuneCore Artists who want to reach Spotify’s 100m users, 30m of which are now paid subscribers.

Rhapsody now in 34 countries. Subscriber base grows 45% in 12 months.


Rhapsody and TuneCore go way back. It was one of our first digitalrhapsody928 music stores. Back in the day, it was the first streaming service to make it possible to share full-length, licensed songs on twitter using Audio Card. Now it’s stepped up its game big time: 3.5m global subscribers. A presence in 34 countries. A 45% growth in less than 12 months. Additionally, in 2015, it refreshed its core app experience.

2016 comes along, and now gamers can stream music from Rhapsody through their Wii U console, via a free app from the Nintendo eShop. Rhapsody subscribers with Wii U systems can begin listening immediately and Wii U owners who aren’t yet Rhapsody or Napster subscribers can sign up for a 30-day free trial. Game on.

Thanks to a new partnership with BandPage, music fans who are rocking out to a favorite artist on Rhapsody’s mobile app can receive push notifications on their phone that indicate when that artist is playing a gig nearby. There are even links to purchase tickets via third party services. The new feature is available on Android, with support for iOS coming soon.

SOUND BYTES

It’s springtime 2016, and digital stores are blooming with fresh ideas for our artists. Spring forward.

TuneCore Artists — Add your music to new stores today.

Not a TuneCore Artists yet? — Join TuneCore today.

September News From Our Store Partners

By Dwight Brown

It’s September. Back to school. Back to work. Back to the business of selling music.

For artists who want to get their releases sold worldwide, it’s time to leave that summer daze behind, and follow the innovative steps digital stores are taking to become more competitive, get music discovered and help artists increase fan engagement.

Google Play Music launched in Japan, a country that has been reluctant to jump into the music streaming pool. Google Play Music follows in the footsteps of Apple Music, but makes inroads in the Google_Play_logoworld’s second-largest music market before Spotify can get a foothold. Billboard reports the new streaming service is available for Google’s Android operating system and Apple’s iOS mobile operating system.

Transitioning from CDs to downloads and from downloads to streaming has been slow going in Japan. But the country’s music subscription market grew 43 percent in the first half of the year, according to the Recording Industry Association of Japan. Both Google and Apple are competing in the emerging Japanese streaming market against LINE, which added a music subscription service to its popular messaging app, and AWA, a joint venture between CyberAgent and Avex Group Holdings, owner of the Japenese music imprint Avex Trax. All subscription services currently available in Japan are paid-only services. Now is a perfect time for artists to hook their music up with Google Play.

Shazam has opened its Verified Program To All Artists on Shazam. Originally only 200 well-known artists, like Pharrell, David Guetta shazam928and Sam Smith, could easily share what they’d Shazamed with their followers. Now all artists who sign up with Shazam can create a closer connection with the people who love their music.

A Hypebot.com article reveals that the granddaddy of music recognition apps announced that its verified artist community has achieved a combined reach of 1.4 billion followers. Peter Szabo, SVP, Head of Music, Shazam details their strategy, “We are creating an engagement that goes beyond a playlist or a recommendation. It’s an organic, one-of-a-kind connection between millions of fans and the artists they love.” Artists can sign up to be a Verified Shazam Artist hereThe verification process is pretty simple and opens up great opportunities for artists to engage music lovers.

Rhapsody and BandPage (a digital platform/website with 500,000+ musician profiles) have entered a partnership designed to increase engagement. Billboard reports that the first round of data to come from the partnership — which uses information about listener’ favorite artists to target and deliver push notifications to their phones — could be a new way for artists to generate revenue in the digital streaming industry.

The push notifications alert “super fans” about concerts and “special experiences” like meet-and-greets, and generate a much higher rhapsody928click-through rate (CTR) than Google search ads and Facebook posts. Greg Spils, Rhapsody senior director of Traffic & Demand, notes that the company saw a 50 percent higher engagement rate with this type of messaging.  For example, when a music fan is streaming an artist’s music, a pop-up appears while the fan is in the moment. It’s a new way artists can reach fans, grow their fan base and increase revenue. All aboard Rhapsody.