In this week’s 7 1/2 minute episode, I am podcasting from lovely London, and the subject is streaming music and the future of indie music revenue streams. (The picture is of some Hare Krishnas we encountered on our walk back to the place we are staying at.)
An article this week in Digital Music News entitled Why Apple’s Acquisition of Beats Is Bad for Indie Labels, Artists, and the Industry… argues that the acquisition of Beats Music by Apple is a bad thing for indie artists and labels. The basic argument is that as download revenue declines, streaming revenue will not increase enough to compensate (essentially due to the unbundling of the single from albums), and that labels will continue to keep a large amount of the revenue from streaming from artists anyway, and so this is not a good model for indie musicians.
I disagree. I think the future viable revenue model for an indie musician will look more like that of indie artist Zoe Keating, who revealed where her revenue comes from earlier this year. Zoe makes much more money from selling her music directly from her website ($68k) than from streaming her music ($6k) – but she is OK with that.
In a March article on Hypebot, she is quoted putting her revenue streams into perspective, saying, “…Aren’t I just an example of “The Long Tail” at work?… For a single artist like me commercial streaming will never be more than promo. I accept that. But I will keep talking about it until streaming companies do more to make that promo more useful (i.e data).”
I believe that the Zoe Keating model is the model of the future for indie artists – one where record labels don’t stand between the services that deliver the music to fans and the artist – and more importantly, where they don’t stand between the payments made by those fans and the artist who created the music.
Please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I just did my second band photo shoot for our Solveig & Stevie updated EPK, for the cover of our new EP/CD (whatever it is going to be), and for our redesigned website and social media banners.
This was not my first experience with band photo shoots. I’ve done band promo shoots, several music videos, and sat for professional family photo portraits and for business head shots numerous times before as well. You would think I could get this right – but no.
Band photos are so important, and they can be so complicated. Your photos should communicate your band’s brand accurately to your potential fans. Plus, all of us humans want to look cool and sexy and, well… good, in our pictures – preferably without either plastic surgery or too much Photoshopping.
I think we can all agree that we artists are perhaps a little more touchy when comes to visual presentation than the rest of the population. Whether we are are punk, folk, metal, grunge or goth, it’s often a very carefully calculated personal image.
Welcome to my weekly podcast. I talk about music, music marketing, and the music business where I do some of my best thinking – while walking my dog.
In this 22 minute episode, I discuss the Music Biz Association’s 2014 Metadata Summit on Tuesday May 6 I attended in LA, part of the larger three day Music Biz 2014 Summit. The Music Biz Association, formerly known as NARM and its sub-organization, digitalmusic.org, is “a non-profit membership organization that advances and promotes music commerce — a community committed to the full spectrum of monetization models in the industry” (from their website.) I have written about the importance of standardizing music metadata as a critical component in ensuring artist compensation in the new music industry where digital will eventually dominate.
It’s interesting to note that the board of the Music Biz Association is composed of representatives of all the major players in the music industry, and this list is evolving to encompass players other than the big labels: Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Amazon, Microsoft, Spotify, YouTube (ie. Google), iTunes, as well as players like The Orchard and INGrooves. As music moves to a self-published model, I hope to see more representation in associations such as Music Biz for indie artists, too. Right now the industry is dominated by these big players (“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”), but the future of music is a much flatter structure, where streaming micropayments, and thus metadata, will play an even larger role.
Look for a long form blog post later on this website about my experiences at Music Biz 2014, and a larger discussion about music metadata.
Also of note this week is the speculation around the purchase of Beats by Apple, as streaming players being a slow consolidation that (in my opinion) makes for a more rational and sustainable financial structure for streaming music services, as I predicted many months ago. This would be the largest acquisition ever made by Apple, if it goes through.
Finally, I discuss the significance of the incredible success of the soundtrack to Disney’s movie, Frozen. At the MetaData Summit, I sat next to Disney’s finance group, there to hear about the latest advances in metadata standardization. Why do they care? Because the Frozen soundtrack has been on the Billboard 200 13 times, it knocked Beyonce off the charts, and it has sold 2.6 million copies (58% digital – but that means 42% digital). As pointed out in this article on NPR’s blog, “Well Into Spring, ‘Frozen’ Soundtrack Keeps The Charts Cool,” Frozen‘s soundtrack has made a lot of money for Disney in a variety of different ways. Perhaps the difficulties of tracking all the various ways in which songs make money for Disney in the new music model, where digital plays come from a myriad of sources, will motivate a behemoth like Disney to put pressure on the industry to standardize music metadata more quickly, and streamline the monetization process further.
I’ve written about the platforms StageIt and YouNow, where indie artists can stream a live music performance and even make money doing so. Concert Window was launched in 2011 by Harvard grads and musicians Dan Gurney and Forrest O’Connor to provide the same service. Still running a bit under the radar because they’ve only been live for about 9 months, Concert Window is gaining praise and growing quickly through word of mouth buzz in the indie musician community.
Last week, I attended a streaming performance on Concert Window by Austin singer-songwriter Alex Winters. It went so well that I thought it would be interesting to interview Alex about her experience and try setting up my own artist profile.
Alex and I met through GoGirlsMusic, and while she was here in Seattle recently, she mentioned she was about to do her first Concert Window performance. I signed up on the website ahead of time as a viewer so I could tune in. One of the things I noticed right away was that I could watch Alex’s performance on my iPhone while away from my desktop. I think this is a smart feature, and no doubt increases audience views significantly. Mobile is where it is at.
After a few minor glitches on both her end (Alex’s PRO TIP: “When you’re ready to broadcast, hit the BROADCAST button!”) and on my end (my AT&T phone signal was weak at first), I was able to enjoy her concert on my earbuds with no problem. Note that all the viewer features of the desktop version are not there on mobile, such as chat and tipping.
This post has three parts. First, an interview with Alex about her experience with Concert Window. Second, my walkthrough of setting up an artist profile and a performance on Concert Window. Last, I give my assessment of some of the features that make the Concert Window platform stand out.