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

The New Music Labels

There are a lot of discussions happening around the film industry.

For example, would the new Star Wars movie be better served as a HBO/AMC/NETFLIX/etc TV Series?

Instead of a two-hour movie for Episode 7, would it serve the Star Wars story line better if it followed the Game Of Thrones formula and produced ten 1 hour episodes.

Two hours vs Ten Hours.

What would the customers want?

In relation to music, Napster pretty much showed the recording industry what customers want. More single songs than a slab of songs.

It’s pretty obvious that CD’s are not making a comeback. Yes, they are still selling, however so is vinyl. Both niche markets for the time being. The majority of the listeners have moved to streaming services, digital downloads, YouTube or P2P downloading. Whatever the method used to consume music, access is the key word.

Do we want to watch a movie in our home theatres or do we want to put up with dirty Cinema’s, people talking and deciding that the movie experience was the perfect time for them to have a Subway Roll, Satay Chicken from the Thai restaurant next door or some other kind of lunch/dinner.

What people want is instant access. But the content providers would rather sell 5 movie tickets ONCE to my family than get a percentage cut from a monthly license fee from a streaming service over and over and over and over again.

The content providers would rather sell my family ONE Blu-Ray/DVD than get a percentage cut from a monthly license fee from a streaming service over and over and over and over again.

I was talking to me kids about a movie called “Who’s Harry Crumb?” a few days ago. It got them excited to watch it. So i pulled up Netflix, searched for it and it is not there.

Bummer.

Did I got out and buy a copy of it?

Of course not. We just moved on to another movie, which in this case was “The Replacements”.

Same deal with music.

The best emails I get are the ones from Spotify when they tell me a certain album from the bands I follow is available for streaming;

In the last week, those emails have covered the following releases;

  • Survival by TesseracT
  • The Book Of Souls by Iron Maiden
  • Got Your Six by Five Finger Death Punch
  • Life, Love, Loss by Degreed
  • Here To Mars by Coheed and Cambria
  • Love, Fear and the Time Machine by Riverside

I remember the old days when we all rushed to the record store or to the cinema so we could purchase the latest music or watch the latest movie just to be part of the conversation. Why would I want those days back again.

Change is happening quicker than ever before.

We went from Napster to iTunes to YouTube to Spotify. We went from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter and back to Facebook. The major labels have withered down to three. The movie studios are doing the same.

Watch out for television to do the same. Funny thing to note, is that the channels leading the way, are channels that originally started off licensing movies from the Hollywood studios. HBO, AMC, Showtime and Netflix found out that original programming is where it’s at. Create a show that connects and watch it become part of the cultural conversation. Amazon is now involved and Apple is due to enter this market.

So what does this have to do with music and artists?

Expect Spotify to lead the way and start signing up artists because even though artists can cut a record without a major label or corporation behind them, they cannot be heard without the help of the label machine. There is a lot of money in music if you control the copyrights of artists you break through. Spotify can break an artist, they just need to start signing them and developing them.

It’s just a shame that the power players in music would rather spend their resources and monies to shut down illegal music websites through the Courts while websites controlled by terrorist like ISIS are allowed to operate. It’s a shame that the power players in music have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new digital world post Napster.

Especially when illegal music websites have allowed fans of certain styles of music to access bands they never could before. Metallica and Iron Maiden are two examples of illegal music websites growing their fan bases in countries where they sold no physical product.

So what did these bands do with that high rate of P2P piracy?

They toured those countries.

Being an artist is a business and making money in a business is hard.

The good thing for musicians today, is that all of the craziness that happened since Napster is all over. Musicians now know what the recording industry looks like and how it all hangs together within the music industry. In my view, the current ecosystem would remain stable for the next 50 years or so.

The big change that would happen is when technology companies like Spotify, Apple, Pandora, Google and Samsung get into signing and developing new artists. When these techies become like labels they will be powerful. Because of the data which they will have and control. Will the record labels then start to litigate against these techies.

Once these companies become like labels, expect them to enter the live arena as promoters. Apple and Spotify are both involved in the festivals scene.

Times they are a changing.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Distribution

Last year a couple of big corporation plays happened.

The Amazon/Hachette war was not about books. It was about a power play between Corporations. One Corporation has the distribution and the reach, while the other has the content. Somewhere in between are the writers who are paid sweet f.a while Hachette and Amazon rake in millions.

The YouTube/Independent Label war was not about music. It was about a power play between a new cultural gatekeeper and a union of labels that want to play the music game. As with the Amazon/Hachette war, one corporation has the distribution and the reach, while the other has the content. While the major labels got favourable licensing deals because they bring in most of the traffic, the independents got a pittance. Somewhere in between are the artists and the songwriters who are again paid sweet f.a while YouTube and the major labels rake in millions.

What does this tell us about the world?

It tells us that DISTRIBUTION IS KING. It was never content. Content has to go to where people can buy it, see it or hear it and distribution puts it there. However distribution as usual is controlled by corporations. The record labels used to control it and now the techies control it. Copyright infringement was never the issue for the record labels. Their real issue was that their control of the distribution chain was diminished or made obsolete by the internet.

As a by-product, creators may gain fame from the sales of their works however the money remains with the distributor. How do you think the major labels became major labels in the first place? It was due to distribution. Apple promotes itself as a manufacturer and a software maker however underneath all the front end marketing they make their money as a distributor.

So with different corporations controlling the distribution chain what does the mean for us?

The same as it always has. Corporations are not our friends as they are all about the bottom line and with the Internet every store is next door to each other and only a mouse click away. With so much competition only a select few survives.

Napster decimated the record stores. While ignorant media outlets trump up a small vinyl increase, YouTube and Spotify are increasing their power exponentially. That’s right, we have people celebrating the old vinyl format and overpaying while the digital distributors aren’t even paying attention as they grow bigger and bigger.

YouTube is the place we check out to try/sample everything. Google is the place we go to for search. Facebook is our digital home, showing the world what such great and happy lives we lead while under the surface it’s actually hard and depressing. Amazon is where we go and buy everything. Apple is still in front for the smartphone wars even though the Samsung products offer way more features. There is a war between various streaming services going on right now. Expect one to survive and at the moment Spotify is in the lead for music and Netflix for movies.

Is this good for us?

All we have done is replace one cultural gatekeeper with another. But the problem with this replacement is that we are also giving a large part of lives to these new cultural gatekeepers. Google has our search histories in waiting and target ads based on that. Amazon gives us recommendations based on our purchase and view history. Facebook has our private history and so on. We threw away our privacy like it was a piece of trash. We gave it away for free.

Are we really moving into a George Orwell Big Brother world?

We threw our hats in the rings with the techies because they stood for something once. But the truth is money corrupts everything. And our politicians are not going to stand up against the corporations because politics is all about money.

The ignorant still focus on the decline of CD’s and now MP3’s while trumping up the return of VINYL. The wannabe trash all end up on reality TV shows believing that it is a stepping stone to a career in the entertainment business. In all of this, the artists and the writers keep on getting hurt while the powerful fight over their creations. They are just pawns in their game.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a trustworthy shopfront that is reliable with their deliveries, however I don’t like a shopfront that can control everything. And that is the problem in the digital world. No one is looking out for the consumers, us. We believe that the techies have our best interests because so many of the things we do are free, like Facebook and Google and YouTube. However they are not looking out for us and the politicians we vote in are not looking out for us either as they are in bed with whoever contributes to their campaigns. And the big IT companies have no competitors at the moment.

We used to join together under artists however they are all now part of the corporate machine with so many deals crossing over it makes the mechanics of the brain look simple.

Why do you think Dodge and Motley Crue are in bed with each other?

Dodge has realised that Motley Crue fans will be more inclined to purchase high performing cars so the partnership will allow Dodge to distribute more vehicles so that they can make money.

So don’t believe everything you read. Distribution is the reason why corporations become monopolies and the truth is this; the corporation that controls the distribution chain wins.

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

YouTube

Do you want an audience or a fan base?

An audience will go and check out a song after being instructed to do so. The fan base will choose what song to play or what album to play when they want to.

It’s always the techies that are getting it right for the music industry. They can see how to make dollars in between all of those ones and zeroes.

“An audience changes the channel when their show is over. A fan base shares, it comments, it curates, it creates.”

YouTube’s global head of entertainment Alex Carloss said the above.

So where do you stand as an artist.

Do you have an audience? People who are directed to check you out?

Or do you have a fan base, people who share, comment, create playlists and do everything else.

It is a global world and YouTube is a platform that can reach all corners of the world. The reason why it is so popular is that while the major labels procrastinated over how much they would get from the streaming services, YouTube entered via the backdoor and became the leader. And it wasn’t even licensed.

Recent research has shown that by not having your music on YouTube could lead to an increase in music sales. What this clearly shows to me is that there are more factors out there that have led to reduced sales of recorded music than piracy alone. It also shows the shift of people’s listening habits. But wait, Neil Young and the Ponos team still reckon we need studio quality files. Yep, good luck with that.

If you are not using YouTube to promote yourself, then you are doing it all wrong and your career is challenged.

Even if the record labels do not renew their licensing agreement with YouTube, it will still survive. Because it is the fans that want it. YouTube’s success is made by the people, who apart from going to listen to music or view videos, they also upload as well. If I want to hear a new release before I buy it I normally go to YouTube. The whole album is there. Spotify is good as well, however it’s search algorithms are rubbish, plus it doesn’t have everything there.

I wanted to listen to Badlands “Voodoo Highway” album recently. It’s not on Spotify, however YouTube has it. Unlicensed.

I wanted to listen to Don Dokken’s “Up From The Ashes” album recently. For both, I could have gotten the CD and played it or I could have plugged in the portable drive and played it from there, however that was too much effort. Spotify didn’t have it, but YouTube did. Again unlicensed.

The record labels get wined and dined by Apple for exclusivity around their streaming service. And then when the cash rolls in from another licensing agreement to them, the artists will complain that streaming is killing the music business.

NO.

The Record Labels are still killing the music business. Their own greed will kill off streaming services. A stream is not a sale, so the royalty rates that labels pay artists are bullshit. Because the labels classify a stream as a sale which in turn brings with it a lower royalty rate.

Because if a band can stand to make $24,000 for putting up a silent album on Spotify that has been streamed for a combined sum over 4.7 million, then surely the larger acts that have 40 million streams will be making better dollars.

But they don’t.

Because that low royalty rate per stream that Spotify pays, gets further diluted when the Record Label applies it’s 80/20 split to it. Then that low 20 percent is split again by managers, lawyers, band members, etc..

What about illegal downloading of music?

It is still going on and it will never stop because people still want to have the mp3.

14 years have passed since the Napster revolution and music lovers still don’t have a legal ad-supported peer-to-peer download service for mp3’s. It’s leaving money on the table if you ask me.

Do you know what one of the main income revenues is for the record labels?

Yep, its YouTube fan clips that go viral. The ones that have unlicensed music playing in the background. With the YouTube Content ID system, labels can claim the clip as theirs and then reap the benefits that the clips views bring in.

Even Governments fear it. Turkey’s government blocked access to YouTube when an audio recording of top civilian and military officials appeared, which involved high-level security talks on Syria. The Government has classed it as illegal content. I see it as a form of censorship.

YouTube was seen as the enemy to TV stations and to the Music Industry. Now it is their greatest ally, only if they know how to use its potential. Expect to see the various YouTube networks become bigger than the movie studios in the future. Because they realise that it’s not all about the blockbuster effect. Releasing content more frequently is king.

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