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

Playlists And Streaming

Spotify is growing. The pop artists or the cross-over artists from other genres into the pop world are getting into the 100 plus millions/billions listens. And the high counts are due to two things;

  • Spotify Playlists.
  • Listeners Playlists

If a song is added to the most followed playlists, then the listens go up.

There is a “Rock In The 2000’s” playlist created by Spotify and if you check the songs on it and then check the streams the songs have on the artist account, you will see those songs on the playlist dwarf the rest of the catalogue. For example, “Chop Suey” from System Of A Down is on the Spotify playlist and the listens of Chop Suey is exponentially higher than the remainder of SOAD’s catalogue.

“Drake doesn’t lock himself into an album cycle. When Drake wants to put out music and he feels like it’s ready, Drake puts out music. So it’s not the typical, “I’m gonna put out two singles, then launch my album, then go on tour, then wait two years and go back in the studio and release this music.” I think he really has captured that rhythm of how fans want to consume music.”
Spotify’s Troy Carter on Drake’s Streaming Success

Drake is as metal and rock as the soap in the bathroom is metal, however the lesson should be applied to all. New music is an invitation into the world of the artist. It’s not the only thing. Capture the moment and release when the song is ready, not many months later when the album is ready.

Platinum selling artist Mark Tremonti has released three albums in 2 years, and while Tremonti and Alter Bridge are on tour, he is spending his free time giving guitar lessons/doing guitar clinics as an additional income stream.

It is easier to find and less costly to release new music, leading to unpredictable successes from artists who might not have been discovered or produced an album in an earlier era.
Michael Luca and Craig McFadden – Harvard Business Review

And that’s the cold hard truth about music in 2016. Artists who normally wouldn’t be signed can suddenly record and release music into the world. The supply of new music over the last 10 years is way higher than the demand for new music. Hell, I listened to 950 plus unique artists on Spotify this year. I grew up in the 80’s with no more than 50 or so unique artists. Spotify has over 20 million songs that haven’t been listened to yet.

Sure, some of the Spotify playlists might be a PR exercise for the labels, in the end, it still comes down to the user, who still likes to have some a filter to push new music on them. But then the record labels would like to mislead people about how much it costs them to break an artist to the mainstream.

The truth is the labels don’t break artists. They can spend monies on the artist, the promotions and put them out into the market place, however it is the people who decide if the artist will break on through. And what we are seeing more are artists making it on the back of streaming and no radio support.

But times have changed: in a landscape dominated by services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon, it is possible to have a hit without the press and radio (or much of the public) even noticing you. Kiiara, hardly a household name, is currently enjoying a global hit with Gold, off the back of 312m streams on Spotify alone. (Other services don’t make their numbers public.) You could look at British artist James TW, whose song When You Love Someone has 35m streams. Then there’s Australian teen Joel Adams, whose one and only song Please Don’t Go has chalked up 320m streams on Spotify.
Peter Robinson – Guardian Writer

Yeah, I got no idea who the above artists are and none of them are really rock or metal, but the possibilities are there for unknown metal and rock bands to become streaming behemoths without the support of record labels and radio stations. However, having a high streaming listen count doesn’t automatically correlate to concert ticket sales or sales of recorded music, much in the same way Facebook likes/followers never equal sales. The artist will need to work even harder to convert those listeners into real fans, because a lot of streaming users are casual fans who like to check songs out.

 

In the back-end of Spotify, for instance, fans are split into three categories: streakers (who have listened to the artist every day in the last week), loyalists (who have listened to them more than to any other over the past 20 days), and regulars (who listened to the artist on the majority of the days in the month
Peter Robinson – Guardian Writer

Spotify is building the data banks instead of the labels. Apple already has the databank. The labels have done nothing in this regard. So as an artist, who do you want to partner with?

And finally, there are the playlists. The more playlists the songs are added to, the more exposure the songs will get and this is where the old gatekeeper model comes into play. How does a rock or metal band get their songs onto a Spotify created playlist that has over a million followers?

STREAMING – changing the music business again
STREAMING – artists who made it huge without radio support
STREAMING – Swedish artists benefiting from streaming 
RECORD LABELS – breaking an artist 
SONGWRITER WHO SOLD HIS SONGS FOR A FEE AND IS UNKNOWN

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Power Of User Transcriptions and the Death Of Sheet Music

I can honestly say that with the rise of the internet, the need to use my ear and figure out a song has more or less gone out the window. All I need to do is go to UltimateGuitar.com or to an iPhone app and search for the song.

There is a 100% chance that it is there, especially the popular ones. The beauty of it all is that the transcriptions are free and made by musicians who are fans of the band. Some of the more complex progressive stuff is also out there and massive kudos to the guys and gals who sit down to transcribe Dream Theater, Periphery, Sikth, Animals As Leaders and Protest The Hero because they love it, not because they get paid to do it.

However, it wasn’t always UltimateGuitar for me. My fascination with other people transcribing tabs started off with “Harmony Central” back in 1999 which had basic and crude text tabs. However that interest went up a large notch with this website:

THE POWER TAB DUNGEON

The website is littered with PowerTabs from bands in the Eighties and Nineties. In some cases it has the whole album from a band or in some rare cases it has the whole discography for a band, even going into the Nineties and Two Thousands. It is simply as well. Click on the song and it downloads straight away. Nice and easy, just the way that I love it where as UlitmateGutiar.com has way too many clicks involved in order to get the song transcription.

If you are in the business that sells sheet music, your business model is challenged. Not because of piracy, but because of users wanting to show the world that they can transcribe music that they love. If you are in the business that sells magazines with transcriptions like Guitar World or Total Guitar, your business model is also challenged. I am a Guitar World subscriber and the last 16 months worth of issues are still sitting on my shelf with the plastic wrapping still on them.

When my subscription expires I will be letting it lapse. There is no need for it in the current world and their fascination with ass-kissing the classic rockers is getting too much. For example, i can honestly say that i have over 15 transcriptions of the same song from either Jimi Hendrix, Metallica, Ozzy/RR era, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton.

I digress. You will notice that I mentioned PowerTab earlier. It’s a piece of software which I still use today to capture riffs and turn them into songs. It is not the best piece of software out there on the market right now, however I was a very early adopter of PowerTab (circa 2003 or 2004) and it served my purpose well when my kids came into my life between the years of 2005 and 2011. Instead of plugging in and playing riffs, I opened up the lap top and fired up the PowerTab software. It more or less became my guitar.

And this brings me back to the the Power Tab Dungeon website. It is pure Eighties heaven. Even the hard to find stuff. Back then, when this site came out, a lot of the other tab sites didn’t have this collection of material. Now if you go onto UltimateGuitar.com you will more or less see it all there. However the original leader in Eighties tab was the Dungeon.

If you wanted to know how to play songs from “Shotgun Messiah” they are there. Or “Babylon A.D”. Or “Steelheart”. Or “Jackyl”. Or “XYZ”. Or “Ugly Kid Joe”. Even “Vince Neil’s” solo albums.

Also on the flip side you still have Hal Leonard selling Note For Note books for between $50 to $70 plus dollars in Australia. And they wonder why no one is buying. Let’s blame piracy. Why not, everyone else does.

Of course, there was a time when the Music Publishers Association freaked out about PowerTab and went all nuclear on the software.

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