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.

March Industry Wrap-Up

Pandora Premium Takes on the On-Demand Streaming Game


While household names like Spotify and Apple Music boast a combined 120+ million users streaming music each month, Pandora has enjoyed the success of their proprietary “Music Genome Project” algorithm and their ability to draw users in with perfectly curated and personalized radio stations. Last year, Pandora announced it’s “Pandora Plus” service, offering listeners more replays and skips, as well as the ability to listen to offline radio stations. Now, after much anticipation, the biggest name in digital radio has announced “Pandora Premium”, their brand new on-demand streaming service.

Pandora Premium will function much like other monthly subscription streaming services, offering a similar catalog of over 30 million tracks for listeners to browse and discover. With its current user-base of 80 million, Pandora sees its transition into on-demand streaming as an opportunity for further growth. While it remains to be seen, there may be an advantage to joining the game late – for instance, Pandora won’t be focusing on ‘exclusives’ for big name releases, and instead hopes to utilize its personalization proficiencies to stand out in the crowd of streaming services when it comes to recommending songs to users based on their listening habits as a means of music discovery.

“We have very grand ambitions for what this can be,” Pandora CEO Tim Westergren said. “If we look around at the space right now, we just don’t think that there’s a product that’s done it right. No one has solved the ease of use and personalization part of the on-demand world. I don’t think there’s really a true premium product out there yet… we think we’re bringing something really different here.”

This development is great news for indie artists who hope to tap into Pandora’s user-base by making their releases available on-demand.

Ticketmaster Uses Software to Combat Bots More Effectively


Whether you’re a fan who paid out the nose for a ticket or lost out to what would have to be the fastest ticket-buying hands known to man, or you’re an artist who has had to deal with the backlash of bots buying up all their tickets, there’s a general consensus in the live music industry that these bots aren’t really doing consumers or artists any good. In fact, you could say most people feel that bots – which derive from software that immediately purchases tickets when they go on sale in bulk, only to re-sell at a higher cost to fans – are completely ripping people off!

Enter Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fan” program. Ticket scalping (re-selling tickets at higher costs), as it’s known, has become such a problem on the company’s platform that they’ve introduced new efforts to combat it by using customer data and new systems. For example, identifying fans’ purchasing history has been tested with lower-level tours to cut down on automated ticket buying systems and bot purchases. The program requires fans to register to buy tickets in advance (typically 48 hours before they go on sale); shortly after, Ticketmaster collects emails and scrubs out any believed to be connected to scalpers. Verified Fan is being used for pre-sales at the moment, but could be expanded for general sales in the future.

This is a meaningful attempt to make sure that artists – both major label and independent alike – are able to continue to offer tickets to their tour dates through this platform without worrying that their fans are getting ripped off.

Early Reports Suggest a Potential $16.1 Billion Year For Recorded Music During 2016


Each year, the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) announces official music industry figures to show how much was earned over four quarters. In March, Midia Research offered its own 2016 estimates ahead of the annual IFPI announcement – suggesting a 7% ($1.1. billion) year-over-year increase in the realm of recorded music at $16.1 billion.

Since the music industry entered into a major paradigm shift in the early days of Napster, and as illegal downloading took off across other platforms, this is considered a major uptick in annual growth. As Midia puts it, “Underpinning the growth was streaming which grew by 57% in 2016 to reach $5.4 billion, up $3.5 billion in 2015.”

While streaming music platforms were initially introduced as not only a way for fans to have legally licensed music at their fingertips but also to curb the trend in music piracy, there’s little doubt that artists and industry professionals alike have reaped the benefits of its popularity in the past couple of years. The report credits Spotify’s role in the growth, “accounting for 43% of the 106.3 million subscribers at the end of 2016.” But don’t sleep on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Deezer, who have been considered “strong contributors” to streaming growth last year.

Breaking revenue down by record label, we see that Universal, Sony and Warner Music made up a combined $11 billion in revenue, with independent labels generating $5.1 billion, or 31.3% of the global market share! As 2017 looks to offer increased figures, independent artists can rest assured that overall, recorded music can still be a viable revenue stream as more fans subscribe, listen, and discover.