A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

The Streaming Wars, iTunes Suspending Downloads Due To Decreased Sales While Bandcamp Sees An Increase in Sales

“It’s (streaming) not the enemy and the thing that frustrates me is the old guys, and I call ’em the old guards; now what a nasty position to be in to be thought of as a gatekeeper. Because you’re a rockstar, you’ve been around 20, 30 years — some of ’em 40 years — and you say, ‘Bah humbug to streaming!’ You say, ‘Bah humbug to rock. Rock is dead. There’s no hope for the future. Put your guitars down and go get a job in a bank.’ It’s, like, that’s not the message that young musicians and fans need to hear. They need to hear, ‘Streaming is your friend. The listening experience is more exciting. Pick up your guitars, there’s a career for you out there. The next Elton John’s out there. The next Metallica’s out there. The next Beatles is out there. The next Muse is out there — they’re out there.’ They’re young, they need to be pushed to be the best they can be; they don’t need to be told there’s no future. There’s money and there’s hope, and what money gives musicians is the opportunity to have stability. And with stability you can continue to create music and, when an artist is creating music, we get to do interviews and talk about it.”
Nikki Sixx 

Suddenly Google has become the baddie when it comes to piracy being. The tech giant is accused of the same crimes that Napster, Limewire, The Pirate Bay, MegaUpload, etc. were accused of previously.

It’s been ongoing for a while, especially around the takedown procedures. Suddenly musicians are now speaking up against the small payments from YouTube. Nikki Sixx and Deborah Harry spoke out against YouTube.

Manager Irving Azoff mentioned YouTube should allow musicians to opt out of the service, and if the musicians via their backers ask for their content to be removed it should be removed permanently and not allowed to be put back up without the consent of said musicians.

And if you have ten minutes, check out the latest rant against YouTube. It is a read of BenHur proportions.

And then there was a rumour of iTunes cancelling music downloads which was denied by Apple. However where there is a rumour, there is also some truth. The article states;

“Whether or not Apple wakes up one day and decides to tear down its iTunes music download store is not the most important thing.  Because they are already starting to get rid of it.  This phase-out is already happening and Apple is definitely assisting this process.  They are definitely not growing their download store and they are doing what it takes to make this die a natural death.”

The article talks about how Apple is blurring the lines between iTunes and Apple Music, by corrupting our iTunes downloads with the Apple Music product, even going as far as replacing your paid iTunes download with the a different version licensed for Apple Music. Apple believes by doing this process, the user would eventually give in and pay for an Apple Music Streaming subscription.

And the major record labels couldn’t care less. They will phase out CD’s and if mp3 downloads are phased out, the only mp3’s pirates can download are the web rips of YouTube songs. Which if you read the above, the labels are really pushing hard to tear down as well. All of this means the labels get back control of the distribution channel that Napster took away.

They have hedged their bets with every digital musical offering, taking decent percentage stakes in each of them, so when they get sold or go public, the labels stand to gain billions. Add to that the millions earned from licensing the songs that they hold copyrights for and you get to see how much money is going to the record labels and not the artists.

But hey, YouTube and Spotify is to blame.

Bandcamp has posted a counter argument to Apples “iTunes problem”.

  • Bandcamp grew by 35% last year.
  • Fans pay artists $4.3 million dollars every month using the site, and they buy about 25,000 records a day.
  • Nearly 6 million fans have bought music through Bandcamp.
  • Digital album sales on Bandcamp grew 14% in 2015 while dropping 3% industry-wide.
  • Track sales grew 11% while dropping 13% industry-wide.
  • Vinyl was up 40%.
  • Cassettes 49%…
  • Even CD sales grew 10% (down 11% industry-wide).

Bandcamp is not just a download store. When a user buys music on Bandcamp, they also get instant, unlimited streaming of that music via Bandcamp’s free apps as well as an optional, high-quality download.

In the past I have always mentioned that fans come in different ways and consume music in different ways and it looks like Bandcamp is positioned to capitalise on that.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Music Is All About Change

The new music industry is all about change.

Do you think that if you pull your music from Spotify that it is not available on YouTube with ad support (which means income) and with no ad support (which means no income).

The new music industry is about exploring different business models and seeing which one works for you.

Black Veil Brides had a Pre-Order pledge campaign for their new album and the perks on offer just kept on getting sold out. First week U.S sales are anaemic at 29,925 however does that mean that the album is not popular or that it is not a success. Go on YouTube. The BVBArmyVEVO account shows 2,206,786 views for the “Heart Of Fire” video, 1,208,958 for the “Faithless” audio and recently a clip went up for the ballad “Goodbye Agony” and that has already accumulated 464,059 views. Compared to their big song “In The End” with 36,560,728 views, you can see that the fan base is experiencing the band in many different ways. In this case, the band and their team (record labels, managers, accountants, lawyers and publishers) are making money from the Pledge Campaign, YouTube views, streams on other services, physical sales, mp3 sales and radio plays.

Coheed and Cambria had a vinyl remastered re-issue of “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” which sold out its first pressing and then they went on a sold out commemoration tour of the album. They are remaining relevant even though their last album came out in February 2013. For them, 2014 was all about touring, vinyl sales, special edition live box sets and merchandise.

Basically new business models from bands are reshaping the way music is marketed and distributed. There are countless new artists emerging and there are countless new ways for fans to listen to those artists.

The music industry of the past consisted of great control. Distribution in those days consisted of record stores. Technology has made way for new opportunities, thus creating new models. The internet has eliminated a lot of past costs within the music industry; this goes for the way music is recorded, the format of music, the marketing, and especially the distribution outlets. New models have taken away the control aspect.

Digital Summer recently asked a Facebook question to their followers about how does everyone find new music. They wanted to know how their fans had heard of them and where they usually hear new music they like? I went through the comments and grouped them into categories.

Radio like Sirius XM Octane, local terrestrial stations, Pandora, Slacker Radio, iHeart, etc got 137 votes for 26%. At this point in time radio is still the best way to get your music out there. However it is the Live show that seals the deal for the band.

Live Shows especially comments around the opening slot that they had on the current Volbeat tour got 121 votes for 23%. It looks like the band really delivers on stage. Also the comments kept on saying that the band members took time out to meet newly converted fans and showed them where they can get free downloads of the band’s music. It’s all about connecting with fans folks.

Word of mouth from fans or band members got 63 votes for 12%. With the internet connecting everyone, I expect this to be more relevant.

YouTube via the algorithm suggestions got 57 votes for 11%. The tech industry is fragmented. When you combine the platforms like YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, MySpace, Online publications, other online platforms and Amazon, you get a 37% reach from the Techies.

Spotify via the similar artists feature got 30 votes for 6%

Twitter via the band members following someone and that someone goes on to check the band out got 25 votes for 5%.

iTunes via the Genius or suggestions based on previous purchases got 25 votes for 5%.

Promotions like having cool looking merchandise, flyers, giving away free demo CD’s, having their stickers plastered all over town, endorsement companies, music stores got 16 votes for 3%.

Other Online Platforms like Reverbnation, Soundcloud, Google Play, XBOX Music, Last.fm, Gaming Music Videos got a combined 13 votes which also equates to 2%.

Instagram via the band members liking photos posted by users or following users got 10 votes for 2%. This was a surprise, however the work that the band members have done on this site is astounding. One fan commented that they are a Gemini Syndrome fan and when they posted a photo of Gemini Syndrome on Instagram, one of the Winterstein brothers liked the photo. The soon to be fan, clicked on his account, saw they had a band, checked out the band and then became a fan.

Facebook and MySpace got 10 votes each for 2%. Goes to show that while Facebook is a good tool for connecting with fans once you have them, it is not a good tool for finding new fans.

Online publications like Stereogum, Loudwire, Jango, Revolver, Ultimate-Guitar got 6 votes for 1%. This is another fragmented industry. The online publications offer no substance, no personal opinion. It’s just all thumbs up, pat my back and I will pat yours style of reporting.

The Pirate Bay/Torrents got 4 votes for 1%. Looks like copyright infringement is not such a big issue.

Amazon got 3 votes for 1%. This is how I found out about the band. Their “Counting The Hours” album came up with bands I might like based on my purchases.

So what does tell any new artist trying to build a career in music.

Be ready to change on the whim and be ready to try different ways of promoting, connecting and marketing your music.

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A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Are People Listening And Sharing Your Album?

I still can’t listen to the new Evergrey album on Spotify in Australia. I went to the AFM Records Facebook page and I saw they have a post that states “Listen to the new Evergrey album on Spotify and add it to your favorites!” So I went on to Spotify and like the day before only “King Of Errors” is available for streaming. I then saw on the AFM post that they had a Spotify Embed link, so I clicked on that and the whole album came up on a webpage. I clicked on the other songs on the webpage and in my Spotify player I got the message “This track is currently not available in Australia.”

And I was like, WTF. It’s like 2014. What the hell is AFM Records thinking withholding the album from Spotify? And what the hell are they thinking of doing a gated released based on which countries/zones?

This is silly. Evergrey is not known as a huge seller of recorded music in Australia. All of the CD’s that I have purchased from them I have done so as Imports. So whoever is the brains at AFM should return the brain they have and get a new model that is fitted for 2014 and beyond as they are leaving money on the table by not making the album available on Spotify, while YouTube who pays less has it.

Also the norm is that when I purchase an album from Amazon, it comes with an AutoRip feature that allows me to download an mp3 version of the album. Sixx A.M’s “Modern Vintage” had that feature, Godsmacks “1000hp” had that feature however Evergrey’s new album is not even part of that agreement either. AFM Records is out of touch with the modern world. Their answer to Spotify is to charge consumers more to have access to music.

Sales are irrelevant. It is an old metric and no way a guarantee of success. Seriously ask any artist what they would prefer. To be number 1 on an irrelevant chart or to be number 1 on Spotify or YouTube. Consumers of music have moved over to the access model. So why not service those fans as well as the fans that want to buy the album.

The only important thing today is how many people LISTENED to the album.

It is a different train of thought and the usual media outlets don’t publicise it. Think I am wrong, go on any Blabbermouth post about a band and there is always a paragraph or two about first week sales and what the album charted. Seriously, who cares. The future is that artists will get paid for every play of their track for all time. The money is in play. The more people who are subscribing and listening, the more each play is worth.

And the future is also in sharing. It doesn’t matter how many people download albums (legally or illegally). What does matter is how many people shared them via social media or word of mouth. Every artist thrives on their audience talking about their material. That is how they keep their audience and how they replenish it. I have talked to anyone who listens about how good “Hymns For The Broken” is and every time the people I told went to hear the new album they said the same thing. “King Of Errors” is great but why isn’t the album up on Spotify”

The old mainstream hype does little. New albums are hyped and are instantly forgotten. Like “13” from Black Sabbath or the self-titled “Dream Theater” album. However, if you go on Spotify, you will see that people are listening to these albums. The play counts are rising. In Australia, even Stone Sours “Looking Glass” got a stream increase thanks to Slipknot.

And U2 did do a $100 million deal with Apple (which seems to have inspired Lars Ulrich immensely). As Lars said in a recent Billboard music and branding discussion, he doesn’t care if the endeavor was a success or not. The way I read that is “as long as the band gets a cool hundred million who cares if the music is shit.” Metallica has earned their success and the truth is successful artists make more money than ever before. It’s just that these artists want to make the same as the techies and bankers do and in their quest to line their pockets they forget about creating quality art. And they forget that in 2014 and beyond it is all about the plays and the shares. Get 3 million plays a week for one song on a consistent basis and watch the money come in (provided you have a fair recording contract in place).

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