Posts Tagged ‘Music’

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How to reach 380,000 music fans in a week – YouTube

January 15, 2010

The brilliant, brilliant video for This Too Shall Pass, by OK Go, has been viewed more than 381,000 times in the week since it was posted on YouTube.

Here is the video (follow the link – it cannot be embedded): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJKythlXAIY

X-Factor winner Joe McElderry sold around 450,000 copies to reach number two in the highly contested Christmas UK music charts.

That was almost certainly one of the most promoted releases in the UK in 2009, yet it was ultimately pipped by Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine after a social media campaign that was probably skillfully – i.e. quietly – encouraged by the record label.

Social media is becoming such an important part of music promotion, it may be close to becoming more effective than traditional promotional activity.  A band I know, Georgia Wonder, are amazing at promoting their music entirely via social media.  They even funded their most recent single, Destroy, via Twitter.  Remarkable, and brilliant.

I’m now really looking forward to another of my favourite bands, Archie Bronson Outfit, to see how well they can leverage their large MySpace and Facebook followings.  Their new videos (totally home-made by the band members) look superb.  Here is their trailer:

(Disclaimer – I also know Archie Bronson Outfit, though the only personal gain I can expect by promoting their new videos is – if I am VERY lucky – a pint at some point).

Posted via web from The good, the bad and the ugly

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5 Reasons to Pay for Spotify

July 28, 2009

SpotifyI was recently singled out at a music industry event for being the only person of over 100 attendees to pay for Spotify Premium.

“So you’re the one” was called out. There were suppressed sniggers. One or two people actually booed me – which I still don’t quite get.

But what really hit home was the general consensus that I was naive for paying for something that is available for free elsewhere.

So why do I pay? Here are my five reasons for paying for Spotify:

  1. It’s excellent value.  This may not be true for everyone, but through buying CDs, second-hand vinyl and digital music on iTunes, I have spent between £10 and £30 per month on music since I was 18.  Spotify is, to a slightly above-average music user, a bargain.  And as the library grows, it gets better value every week.
  2. Adverts lead to censorship.  I don’t argue against adverts because of the quality of their content (though people tell me Spotify ads are particularly special in this regard).  Rather, I am opposed to the censorial impact advertisers can have.  It is something that has been well-documented, brilliantly summed up by Naomi Klein in No Logo.  For example, if a brand does not like swearing, and Spotify wants to carry that brand’s adverts, it will have to ban songs containing swearing.  Censorship is always just a dollar payment away.
  3. You can’t lose it.  Contrary to some people’s views, music you don’t own is more secure than music sitting on a shelf in your home.  I’ve lost a least 100 songs that I purchased on iTunes in the past two years – once through a computer failure, once through a relationship failure (the songs went with the laptop, TV and sofa).  It’s nothing new – think of all the fights there have ever been over who owned which bits of the vinyl collection.
  4. It’s going mobile.  It is likely that it will be available shortly on the iPhone and other 3G devices, for Premium users only.  If the user interface on the mobile devices is as good as it is on the computer (with the caveat that content discovery could be improved), it will be a huge winner.
  5. The economic sustainability argument.  The music ecosystem requires people to pay for it.  If everyone pays, the music industry and writers profit and there is downward pressure on the price for the service.  If nobody pays, the market fails.  In between, there is an equilibrium.

So, on the grounds that I really like the service, and I would like to pay as little as possible for it, I have to declare a big and blatant self-interest in urging others to join me and enjoy Spotify ad-free.

Update | 13.45 | 28 July  Official UK music industry figures suggest that I am actually quite a heavy music buyer.  According to a story in The Times today:

…Spotify [asks] customers to pay £120 a year for the service, when, on average, music buyers spent half that amount on music purchases last year, according to research for the BPI, the record industry trade association.

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Apple Tablet and Higher Music Margins

July 27, 2009

Very interesting story in today’s FT about Apple working with the four major record labels and launching a tablet computer.  It’s interesting because it suggests Apple’s famously tight-lipped new product development process may have sprung a leak.  But it’s far more interesting because it is another reminder that Apple is operating on a level above most others when it comes to making money from information – in this case, music.

Newspapers are struggling with the concept of charging for content, with a few good exceptions, such as the FT and New York Times.  By contrast, Apple – having already cracked the making money part – is struggling with the far more noble challenge of driving up margins for online content.

The music industry appears to have struck a good working relationship with Apple, whereby they collectively work to improve their money-making potential.  Even if Apple were to take a larger slice of the fee for delivering higher-value interactive music packages (including album art and sleeve notes), everyone wins because the pie itself is getting bigger.

And to turn that on its head – since Apple is investing in new hardware, surely it has earned the right to a greater slice of the income for its efforts.  This sort of relationship between a technology developer and the music industry highlights what could be achieved in newspapers – if only the papers themselves would start collaborating over paid-for (or even ad-funded) delivery of portable e-news.

Watch out Kindle, or Apple may use its experience in the music trade to beat you to the punch with its new 10-inch tablet, which would be perfect for catching up with the latest news.

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Spotify or Soundcloud: future of music payment

July 16, 2009

Tonight, I was at a great event organised by Chinwag called “Music – who Pays the Piper?”, that examined future revenue generation in the music industry.  It was refreshing that the panel members were unanimous on one thing – music can’t be free.  Or, in other words, artists should be paid for creating something valuable.

But what was most inspiring was the range of ideas put forward about how music creation might be rewarded.  This is a very rough summary of some of the ideas put forward by the panel – Dave Haynes, UK Manager at Soundcloud; Dom Hodge, Associate Director at Frukt Music; Helienne Lidvall, journalist and blogger at The Guardian and a songwriter; Jon Mitchell, Sales Director at Spotify and Richard Jacobs, Head of Radio at MediaCom.

Dave Haynes: the age of the CD is over.  A premium will be put on originality – remixes and music created collaboratively will become more valuable – in fact, music can already be developed entirely in the cloud, enabling collaborative creation of the music itself.  This collaborative creation is where value can be added to the music – what happens then is not important – ad-funding, fan-payments or brand sponsorship – Dave does not really care!

Dom Hodge: one of the most important recent changes to the music industry has been the new emphasis on access, rather than ownership (e.g. the streaming model used by Spotify).  A solution to the stifling of innovation in the music industry would be for the major labels to acquire equity stakes in successful start-ups, rather than to shut them down – an intriguing idea. Fans will pay for music.

Helienne (pronounced as Korean): the obvious revenue generator is touring – but not everyone can make money this way.  The industry rule of thumb is that the break-even point is when you can fill the Shepherd’s Bush Empire (capacity 2,000). Other ways of making money don’t necessarily work: Helienne has received millions of plays on YouTube but been paid only about £30 royalties.  From online sales, record labels make about ten times as much as song-writers.  She argued against flat-rate fees for music.  Brand advertisers will end up funding music.

Jon: Spotify has reached 2m users within five months, but it is still a long way from making money.  The entire room was asked “who has not used Spotify?” – nobody put their hand up to that.  But when asked who pays for Spotify Premium, only one person in the room raised their hand – me.  Jon said artists must be compensated, and alluded to innovations and growth in the ad-funded Spotify service.  He also mentioned that – in the very long term – individuals should have access to Spotify too.  Ads will eventually pay for music.

Richard: brand relationships in the music industry are becoming more important and this is going to continue.  Media buyers such as MediaCom are hearing from countless new music streaming sites every week attempting to pick up ad revenue – but the vast majority are not worth looking at.  Fragmentation is nobody’s friend, and Richard advocated a collaborative approach to media selling among streaming services.  He emphasised that the biggest consideration is the connection between brands and the music site – and in that sense, media buyers are increasingly becoming the financial gatekeepers of the music industry – if the song doesn’t fit the brand perfectly, then it is Richard’s job to pull out of the deal.  He felt an ad- and sponsorship-funded music industry was inevitable.