Music Ally Music industry consultancy covering digital music marketing and strategy Wed, 27 May 2015 14:27:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Music Ally Report – 367 – Play-ola Wed, 27 May 2015 14:27:56 +0000 Play-olaIn our cover feature we pick apart streaming playlists to look at how pitching, “power-seeding” and payola (or, more specifically, play-ola) is being used and abused to break acts and drive hits. The indies, for now, are more than holding their own in this space (certainly compared to radio); but that doesn’t mean they can rest on their laurels. Another brewing issue here relates to playlist data – or, more specifically, who can access it and, ultimately, who will own it.

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Snapchat now has 100m daily active users (and plans to IPO) Wed, 27 May 2015 05:38:57 +0000 snapchat-logoMusic has been part of social app Snapchat’s move into professional video content, from WMG’s status as a launch partner for its Discover section to the series of independent artists who’ve been promoted by the company’s own Snap channel.

Now, Discover is also competing directly with Spotify both for deals with shortform video providers, and for the eyeball-time of the people who both companies hope will watch that content.

Snapchat is a new player in the music world, in short, so it’s high time for a catch-up on the app’s growth and plans for the future. Starting with the growth: CEO Evan Spiegel announced yesterday at the Code conference that Snapchat now has 100 million daily active users (DAUs) with 65% of them sending snaps (photos and videos) every day.

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Mozilla has ‘not seen sufficient traction’ for $25 smartphones Tue, 26 May 2015 09:32:51 +0000 The big idea behind Mozilla’s Firefox OS software was to power affordable smartphones in emerging markets, with an open web-standards ethos to provide an alternative to iOS and Android. As things stand, it seems emerging markets are just as keen on those two platforms as the rest of the world. “We will build phones and connected devices that people want to buy because of the experience, not simply the price,” wrote Mozilla CEO Chris Beard in an email to Mozilla partners late last week. “We have not seen sufficient traction for a $25 phone, and we will not pursue all parts of the program.” Mozilla is also exploring the idea of making its smartphones compatible with Android, so they can run the hundreds of thousands of Android apps rather than expecting developers to create new web-based versions for Firefox OS phones.

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WMG launches 360-degree video app for Robin Schulz Tue, 26 May 2015 09:29:32 +0000 DJ and producer Robin Schulz has a new app out this week for his single ‘Sun Goes Down’. It’s a 360-degree video available for Android and iOS which can be used with Google Cardboard VR headsets, or simply watched on the smartphone. The idea: fans spin around and watch the video from multiple viewpoints: “Go with Robin on a helicopter ride over Manhattan, drive with him in a limousine through the Times Square, and join him on stage during his concert in New York City,” as the app store listing puts it. WMG worked with Hamburg directors Nicolas and Rico Chibac on the app, with the video filmed with 17 cameras. It’s a free download for fans.

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Samsung committed to Milk despite layoffs Tue, 26 May 2015 09:25:55 +0000 Samsung’s Milk Music is making headlines this week, but not for positive reasons. The music service’s parent division, Media Solutions America, has laid off “dozens” of staff according to Variety, which suggests that as much as 15% of its headcount may have gone. This, shortly after Samsung’s VP of content and services Kevin Swint left the company. Milk Music remains going alongside its Milk Video and Milk VR compatriots, with Samsung maintaining it is not planning to close them. “What we can tell you is that Samsung remains committed to delivering engaging, connected entertainment experiences through its Milk platform, and we continue to expand our library of music, video and virtual reality,” said a spokesperson. Milk Music is Samsung’s latest crack at digital music, following the flop of its Samsung Music Hub.

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Hunter Hayes goes streaming-first with new singles Tue, 26 May 2015 09:16:02 +0000 The willingness to innovate digitally within the country music genre can be underestimated, but from Garth Brooks to its younger stars, there is plenty of experimentation going on. The latest example is Hunter Hayes’ launch of a series of singles as digital-first releases. Billboard notes that the songs are making their debut on streaming services before “eventually” coming to iTunes, so it’s more accurate to say the singles are streaming-first. “We’re constantly looking for new ways to get music to the fans in a quicker and more exciting fashion,” said Hayes. “Now it’s just a matter of letting the fans speak. Change is not a bad thing – it’s a beautiful thing.” Label Warner Music Nashville sees the campaign as a way of “building a digital story first with 18 to 24-year-olds”, while Spotify’s Steve Savoca chipped in by noting that “there’s a lot of discovery of new country on our platform”. Doubtless the company is hoping for more country fans to give streaming a try, as more artists get on board.

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International Artist Organisation weighs in to Sony row Tue, 26 May 2015 09:06:01 +0000 The International Artist Organisation (IAO) has leapt on the recent leak of Spotify’s Sony Music contract as “a turning point for artists that cannot be underestimated”. The body has published an open letter to European Commission officials criticising the lack of transparency around the “complex and creative deals” that labels have signed with digital music services and which, it claims, “offer opportunity not to reflect the full value of those deals under the contractual terms between label and artist”. The IAO would like to see labels “develop a code of practise with strict penalties for transgressors that should govern all contracts between artists and record labels and which should provide a framework to better align their interests and foster relationships of partnership”. It intends to be a witness in any ensuing antitrust investigation conducted by the EC – a prospect that looks increasingly likely given the rumpus around the Sony contract, but also mutterings about Apple’s plans.

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Zoe Keating publishes her Spotify payouts again Fri, 22 May 2015 12:17:29 +0000 “It’s been a while & a journalist asked, so I put my latest Spotify royalty payments online: Jan 2013 to May 2015,” tweeted musician Zoe Keating last night, with a link to her latest Google Doc listing her streaming payouts – this time, for Spotify only. The key numbers: 1.49m streams between 1 January and 19 May, and a payout of $4.8k. Or, if you do the obvious maths, an average of $0.0032 per stream. Keating releases her music without a label but has historically distributed through CD Baby – assuming that relationship continues, it’ll be taking a 9% cut of her streaming income. “Don’t worry about me, my stool has many legs and things are good. I’m just showing you what the actual numbers are,” she tweeted last night. Keating’s strategy remains to have a single album (2005’s ‘One Cello x 16: Natoma’) and an EP (2004’s ‘One Cello x 16 (EP)’ on Spotify, while her 2010 album ‘Into The Trees’ is only available from her own Bandcamp store, iTunes and other digital retailers.

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Boiler Room now has a 24/7 channel on Twitch Fri, 22 May 2015 12:14:09 +0000 Live-streaming service Twitch has been ramping up its partnerships with musicians and labels, particularly around dance music. Its latest is with a familiar brand: Boiler Room. It now has an official channel on Twitch pitched as “24/7 underground music”, streaming live and archived sets round the clock. It’s early days for the channel – it has just under 600 followers at the time of writing – but its live stream has already been watched more than 43,000 times. The channel’s launch came as Twitch launched a new feature for its Android and iOS apps: adding video-on-demand features for archived broadcasts, so that mobile viewers aren’t just restricted to watching live channels on their mobile devices.

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Quincy Jones’ Playground Sessions is raising $1.5m Fri, 22 May 2015 12:07:13 +0000 We last wrote about Playground Sessions – a US music-education startup co-founded by Quincy Jones – back in 2013, when it launched as a $9.99-a-month subscription service teaching piano online (Bulletin, 20-Feb-13). Two years on, the company is trying to raise $1.5m on crowdfunding service CrowdFunder, with individual investors invited to chip in a minimum of $10k for a stake in the company. Its pitch page includes some useful information about the company, which now has global publishing agreements with Sony/ATV, Universal and Warner/Chappell. Playground Sessions also claims to have more than 18,000 users and more than 4,000 current subscribers, operating at a “90% gross margin plus $800,000 in sales to date with profitable months”. The startup also has distribution deals with Yamaha and Guitar Center. With 39 days to go in its crowdfunding campaign, the company is already up to $810k of current reservations – with Jones himself one of the investors chipping in.

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Taylor Swift breaks Vevo one-day record with ‘Bad Blood’ Fri, 22 May 2015 12:02:48 +0000 Taylor Swift broke Vevo’s record for most video views in a 24-hour period with her promo for ‘Bad Blood’, sailing to 20.1m views in the first day after its release. “FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW. YOU BROKE THE VEVO WORLD RECORD. THANK YOU,” tweeted Swift, before thanking all the stars who appeared in the video. Actually, the stat is interesting for the way it shows Vevo’s growth, not just Swift’s popularity. In September 2012, One Direction broke the record with 8.24m views of their ‘Live While We’re Young’ video, before being overtaken by Justin Bieber’s ‘Beauty And A Beat’ with 10.6m views in 24 hours a month later. Since then, the record has increased to 12.3m for 1D’s ‘Best Song Ever’, 19.3m for Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ and 19.6m for Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ – the total that’s just been beaten by Taylor Swift. In short, this particular record has more than doubled in three years, in terms of views.

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Managers want EC policy makers to read Sony’s Spotify contract Fri, 22 May 2015 11:58:06 +0000 Tech site The Verge has removed the leaked Sony/Spotify contract from the article it published earlier in the week “at the request of the copyright owner”, while leaving its analysis of the document’s terms up. Now music managers – through the International Music Managers Forum (IMMF) – want European policy makers to consider some of the revelations from the contract. In an open letter, the IMMF points policy makers to the information on advances; on free and discounted advertising on Spotify for Sony; and to the hint that “labels have access to online real-time detailed statistics and usage data” that may not be passed on to artists. “Music is at present often exploited under clouded terms in hidden deals, with complex formulae used to calculate royalty rates, and with little transparency regarding source values,” claims the letter. “Artists should have access to all relevant information concerning all exploitations of all rights; any contract where a label or publisher waives the artist’s right to receive such information should be considered void.” For its part, Sony has responded by pointing to its digital breakage policies in a statement to Billboard. But the IMMF’s letter shows that the leaked contract is spurring a wider […]

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Line tests $2 streaming service as Tinder starts selling music Fri, 22 May 2015 07:07:43 +0000 line-musicTwo news stories that are seemingly unrelated this morning, but which show the potential for companies in the social apps world to extend their businesses into music.

First: Japanese social network Line is testing a $2-a-month streaming music service in Thailand. Second: dating app Tinder is selling the latest album by dance artist Zedd at a discount.

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Evernote boss talks ‘cognitive ergonomics’ and freemium Thu, 21 May 2015 13:35:32 +0000 Evernote doesn’t do music: it’s a service for storing your notes, reports and lists, and sharing / collaborating on them with co-workers. But its CEO Phil Libin’s latest interview may have some useful nuggets for the music industry. For example, his interest in cognitive ergonomics. “20-30 years ago we had this revolution where people started making physical products with an understanding of how the human body actually works, and you had much nicer products,” he told the Guardian. “But most products right now are still not cognitively ergonomic: they’re not made with an understanding of how the brain works.” Libin also talked about how Evernote is doubling its revenues from people upgrading from its free service to its paid one, simply by asking them to choose between the two. “85% have never chosen: they’ve never been presented with a choice. Most of them don’t even know there’s a decision to be made! And they certainly haven’t been asked to choose… Just that is potentially a long-term doubling of revenue.”

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Google and Skrillex team up for space-themed smartphone cases Thu, 21 May 2015 13:23:03 +0000 Google has a new accessory for Android smartphone owners: Editions. “A series of creative collaborations to develop limited-edition cases for Android phones.” And the first creator to collaborate on this is a musician: Skrillex. He’s created three designs based on space for his Skrillex Live Case, with the “live” element of that involving a companion live wallpaper that updates with new shots of the Earth throughout the day. Plus there’s content: “Fans who get the Live Case will get early access to a free OWSLA album from Google Play and Skrillex updates sent directly to their phones,” explained Google. “A shortcut button built-in on the Live Case gives you one-touch access to Skrillex’s music feed on YouTube.” Remember, Skrillex has built a big audience on YouTube: he has 10.3m subscribers and nearly 2.2bn lifetime views.

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