Articles - Music Business Articles
PRPS 4 Weeks Ago 12:08 PM
Here's a recent article from the new york times written by David Byrne. I provided the link to the article at the bottom but quoted the article for everyone's convenience. He has written many articles on the music business and has a keen sight on the direction in which it is headed. I always find his articles extremely intriguing so I figured I'd share his latest one. He is also the author of “How Music Works.” If this post attracts interest, i have numerous other articles he wrote that i'll be more than happy to share.

THIS should be the greatest time for music in history — more of it is being found, made, distributed and listened to than ever before. That people are willing to pay for digital streaming is good news. In Sweden, where it was founded, Spotify saved a record industry that piracy had gutted.

Everyone should be celebrating — but many of us who create, perform and record music are not. Tales of popular artists (as popular as Pharrell Williams) who received paltry royalty checks for songs that streamed thousands or even millions of times (like “Happy”) on Pandora or Spotify are common. Obviously, the situation for less-well-known artists is much more dire. For them, making a living in this new musical landscape seems impossible. I myself am doing O.K., but my concern is for the artists coming up: How will they make a life in music?

Melvin Gibbs is a jazz bassist and the president of the Content Creators Coalition. “None of these companies that are supposedly in the music business are actually in the music business,” Mr. Gibbs said. “They are in the data-aggregation business, they’re in the ad-selling business. The value of music means nothing to them.”Music Artists Take On the Business, Calling for ChangeJULY 31, 2015
It’s easy to blame new technologies like streaming services for the drastic reduction in musicians’ income. But on closer inspection we see that it is a bit more complicated. Even as the musical audience has grown, ways have been found to siphon off a greater percentage than ever of the money that customers and music fans pay for recorded music. Many streaming services are at the mercy of the record labels (especially the big three: Sony, Universal and Warner), and nondisclosure agreements keep all parties from being more transparent.

Perhaps the biggest problem artists face today is that lack of transparency. I’ve asked basic questions of both the digital services and the music labels and been stonewalled. For example, I asked YouTube how ad revenue from videos that contain music is shared (which should be an incredibly basic question). They responded that they didn’t share exact numbers, but said that YouTube’s cut was “less than half.” An industry source (who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the information) told me that the breakdown is roughly 50 percent to YouTube, 35 percent to the owner of the master recording and 15 percent to the publisher.

Before musicians and their advocates can move to enact a fairer system of pay, we need to know exactly what’s going on. We need information from both labels and streaming services on how they share the wealth generated by music. Taylor Swift, when she forced Apple to back off a plan not to pay royalties during the three-month free trial period for its new streaming service, Apple Music, made some small progress on this count — but we still don’t know how much Apple agreed to pay, or how they will determine the rate.

Putting together a picture of where listeners’ money goes when we pay for a streaming service subscription is notoriously complicated. Here is some of what we do know: About 70 percent of the money a listener pays to Spotify (which, to its credit, has tried to illuminate the opaque payment system) goes to the rights holders, usually the labels, which play the largest role in determining how much artists are paid. (A recently leaked 2011 contract between Sony and Spotify showed that the service had agreed to pay the label more than $40 million in advances over three years. But it doesn’t say what Sony was to do with the money.)

The labels then pay artists a percentage (often 15 percent or so) of their share. This might make sense if streaming music included manufacturing, breakage and other physical costs for the label to recoup, but it does not. When compared with vinyl and CD production, streaming gives the labels incredibly high margins, but the labels act as though nothing has changed.

Consider the unanswered questions in the Swift-Apple dispute. Why didn’t the major labels take issue with Apple’s trial period? Is it because they were offered a better deal than the smaller, independent labels? Is it because they own the rights to a vast music library with no production or distribution costs, without which no streaming service could operate?

The answer, it seems, is mainly the latter — the major labels have their hefty catalogs and they can ride out the three-month dry spell. (The major labels are focused on the long game: some 40 percent to 60 percent of “freemium” customers join the pay version after a trial period.)

I asked Apple Music to explain the calculation of royalties for the trial period. They said they disclosed that only to copyright owners (that is, the labels). I have my own label and own the copyright on some of my albums, but when I turned to my distributor, the response was, “You can’t see the deal, but you could have your lawyer call our lawyer and we might answer some questions.”

It gets worse. One industry source told me that the major labels assigned the income they got from streaming services on a seemingly arbitrary basis to the artists in their catalog. Here’s a hypothetical example: Let’s say in January Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” accounted for 5 percent of the total revenue that Spotify paid to Universal Music for its catalog. Universal is not obligated to take the gross revenue it received and assign that same 5 percent to Sam Smith’s account. They might give him 3 percent — or 10 percent. What’s to stop them?

The labels also get money from three other sources, all of which are hidden from artists: They get advances from the streaming services, catalog service payments for old songs and equity in the streaming services themselves.

Musicians are entrepreneurs. We are essentially partners with the labels, and should be treated that way. Artists and labels have many common interests — both are appalled, for instance, by the oddly meager payments from YouTube (more people globally listen to music free on YouTube than anywhere else). With shared data on how, where, why and when our audience listens, we can all expand our reach. This would benefit YouTube, the labels and us as well. With cooperation and transparency the industry can grow to three times its current size, Willard Ahdritz, the head of Kobalt, an independent music and publishing collection service, told me.

There is cause for hope. I recently spent two days on Capitol Hill, with the help of Sound Exchange, a nonprofit digital royalty collection and distribution organization, to discuss fairer compensation for artists via the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, which would force AM and FM stations to pay musicians when their recordings are broadcast, as most of the world does.

Rethink Music, an initiative of the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, released a report last month that recommends making music deals and transactions more transparent; simplifying the flow of money and improving the shared use of technology to connect with fans.

Some of these ideas regarding openness are radical — “disruptive” is the word Silicon Valley might use — but that’s what’s needed. It’s not just about the labels either. By opening the Black Box, the whole music industry, all of it, can flourish. There is a rising tide of dissatisfaction, but we can work together to make fundamental changes that will be good for all.
Whitecat 4 Weeks Ago 11:47 PM
Musicians launch campaign to save the bassoon as shortage threatens orchestra | Music

Initiative hopes to encourage young players to take up reed instrument and pave way for promoting other ‘endangered species’

GearAndGuitars 4 Weeks Ago 03:47 AM
Music Artists Take On the Business, Calling for Change - The New York Times

Melvin Gibbs is a jazz bassist and the president of the Content Creators Coalition. “None of these companies that are supposedly in the music business are actually in the music business,” Mr. Gibbs said. “They are in the data-aggregation business, they’re in the ad-selling business. The value of music means nothing to them.”
the right direction.
Whitecat 4 Weeks Ago 06:42 PM
Studio A placed on National Register of Historic Places

RCA Studio A, the Music Row building that touched off a sweeping debate how the city's music landmarks and preservation policy, has been listed on National Register of Historic Places.

Whitecat 4 Weeks Ago 04:57 PM
Have 3 Undergrads Just Created An Instagram For Music? - Forbes

As app development explodes on campuses, three Tufts undergrads may have just created an Instagram for music lovers.

Whitecat 4 Weeks Ago 11:46 AM
Why Is the Live Music Business Living in the Last Century? — Cuepoint — Medium

While the recorded music biz has started to embrace big data, the live space lags far behind

theblue1 4 Weeks Ago 10:13 PM
Stop the presses! Move the stream wars debates to the back burner.

Here's a real 'Perry Mason Moment' from the copyright courts... new evidence shows the much-acted-upon "Happy Birthday" to be in public domain -- and perhaps almost as startlingly, Warners/Chappell Music appear to have been caught doctoring documents...

theblue1 4 Weeks Ago 05:02 PM
International Federation of the Phonographic Industry* chief on the state of industry revenues...
IFPI chief defends labels' pay outs to artists for streaming | Music Week

'Remuneration has increased as a proportion of record companies' revenues'
As she lays it out, paid subscription streaming is a definite plus, she defends the sometimes large slice of the revenue that labels take as necessary to marketing the music, noting that 70% of unsigned artists want to be on labels, and lays blame for declining revenue on abuse of user-upload services like SoundCloud and Youtube.

Here's a rather different shading on the story that notes that the IFPI's primary villains, Soundcloud and Youtube, are among primary promotional vehicles for many truly independent artists:

*The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is the organisation that represents the interests of the recording industry worldwide. It is a not-for-profit members' organisation registered in Switzerland. It operates a Secretariat based in London, with regional offices in Brussels, Hong Kong and Miami.

GearAndGuitars 4 Weeks Ago 06:15 PM
The true cost of streaming: Spotify paid Kiwi band with five-star reviews and 90,000

• Local band She's So Rad earned multiple 5-star reviews for their album Tango and have two songs on A-rotate on Hauraki. • Yet they've only sold a total of 20 physical - New Zealand Herald
... it's just math ...
Whitecat 4 Weeks Ago 01:07 PM
BMG, and YouTube Curator BroadbandTV Launch Joint Venture to Boost Music Artists on YouTube

The Bertelsmann music division, led by Hartwig Masuch, will pact to launch Windfall to turn music talent into media stars.

Whitecat 4 Weeks Ago 01:06 PM
5 Reasons the Music Business Is in the Toilet - Breitbart

It doesn't take a big-shot music executive or a statistician to see that the music industry is in a major period of upheaval.

Whitecat 4 Weeks Ago 01:05 PM
Imogen Heap's Mycelia: Creating A Fair Trade Music Business, Inspired By Blockchain -

In yesterday' interview with Zoe Keating and previous posts in this series, music business scholar and entrepreneur George Howard explored Bitcoin Blockchain and its potential to revolutionize how music is monetized. Today, he interviews musician, artist and inventor Imogen Heap, who is working on her own Blockchain inspired solution to...

Whitecat 4 Weeks Ago 11:50 AM
T-Mobile adds Apple Music to its data-free music streaming plan | The Verge

T-Mobile's controversial Music Freedom program just got a lot bigger. In an announcement today, CEO John Legere announced he was adding Apple Music to the carrier's free music-streaming program,...

Whitecat 28th July 2015 02:53 PM
Apple Music hits 10M subscribers in four weeks, report says

A day shy of its one-month anniversary, Apple Music has reeled in more than 10 million subscribers on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and iTunes, a report said Monday.

Whitecat 28th July 2015 12:59 PM
Amazon Prime Music takes on Spotify and Apple Music in the UK - Telegraph

Amazon has launched its music streaming service in the UK, in an attempt to entice more customers onto its Prime membership scheme

Whitecat 26th July 2015 11:32 PM
The new pirate radio crackdown: 400 stations closed in the past two years | Televisio

Illegal radio setups are still being seized by the authorities, but you shouldn’t fear for their future

Whitecat 26th July 2015 10:36 PM
SoundCloud confirms subscription service is on the way

You'll soon be able to pay to get rid of the ads.

Whitecat 25th July 2015 06:51 PM
UK music streaming hits high note of 500m songs per week | Technology | The Guardian

Ed Sheeran, Mark Ronson and Rihanna helping to drive the boom in audio streams on services such as Spotify, Deezer and Google Play

Whitecat 24th July 2015 11:45 AM
From Simple Minds' Jim Kerr to Bono and the Edge: Rock stars are no longer tras

“You won’t hear* ‘Alive And Kicking’ being played in the elevator. Don’t worry! And there’s no Simple Minds memorabilia there,” quips Jim Kerr, the band’s lead singer, about Hotel Villa Angela, the delightful boutique establishment he opened in Sicily a decade ago. “When I first came across Taormina, I thought it was the most magical little town I had ever seen. I still do.” An Italophile since his early teens, the Simple Minds frontman simply acquired a piece of land with spectacular views of Mount Etna and the deep blue Mediterranean and decided to build a small hotel “so that others could come visit and, as a result, go home feeling as recharged and rejuvenated as I did every time I came to this part of the world. People mostly thought I had lost my mind when I told them of my plan”.

Whitecat 20th July 2015 08:40 PM
Grooveshark cofounder dies at 28

One of the creators of the controversial and recently shuttered music streaming service Grooveshark was found dead in his Florida home.

Whitecat 19th July 2015 04:49 PM
UK says it's once again illegal to rip CDs for personal use

Brits: we hope you enjoyed that brief, glorious year of legal media ripping, because you're once again flouting the law. In the wake of a challenge from the mus...

Whitecat 18th July 2015 02:40 AM
Large-scale online pirates to face up to 10 years’ jail under ministers’ proposal

Consultation calls for maximum sentence to be vastly increased so penalties for online offences tally with those for copyright infringement of physical goods

Whitecat 18th July 2015 01:11 AM
'Music Tourism' Hits A New High In The UK

Trips by foreign music fans to the UK's numerous live music events and festivals has increased by 39% since 2011.

Whitecat 15th July 2015 10:42 PM
Neil Young pulls music from streaming services: “The worst audio in history&#82

"I don't need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution."

Whitecat 15th July 2015 10:21 AM
Is streaming good for music? - BBC News

Four experts give their view about the effect of streaming on the music industry.

Whitecat 15th July 2015 09:33 AM
Pharrell wins back $1m in Blurred Lines plagiarism case - BBC News

Pharrell's damages in the Blurred Lines copyright case are reduced by $1m, as a judge rules out a new trial.

theblue1 15th July 2015 04:02 AM
Is Transparency The Music Industry's Next Battle? : The Record : NPR

A report on the music industry from Berklee College of Music offers recommendations for ensuring that royalties make it to their rightful owners.
The output of a year-long study, the report cites estimates "that anywhere from 20-50 percent of music payments don't make it to their rightful owners." Proposed fixes include better behind-the-scenes technologies, a "Creator's Bill of Rights," a "Fair Music" seal and education campaigns.

Whitecat 14th July 2015 09:15 PM
Nicola Roberts: Small songwriters need to be paid by big music companies - BBC Ne

Exclusive music news, big interviews, entertainment, social media trends and video from the news people at BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra.

Whitecat 14th July 2015 01:55 PM
FTC looking into Apple Music antitrust claims, while Apple pockets 92% of smartphone revenue

Apple Music has been available for the masses since the end of June, and now, according to reports, the FTC is looking into some antitrust claims.

Whitecat 13th July 2015 10:56 PM
Kanye West: why can't rock'n'roll's old guard handle him? | Music | The Guardian

Rock’n’roll history is littered with egocentric mavericks whose bad behaviour was celebrated. So why do past greats expect Kanye to act respectfully?

Whitecat 13th July 2015 12:29 PM
No studio? No problem. Meet Prince Harvey, the man who secretly recorded an album at an Apple Store

The rapper covertly created his record using just a display laptop, the GarageBand app, friendly members of staff - and a little background noise from unaware New York shoppers

Whitecat 13th July 2015 09:36 AM
Ritchie Blackmore demands Deep Purple payments | Music | The Guardian

Guitarists says he is owed £750,000 and claims a percentage of income from the group’s albums

theblue1 9th July 2015 05:11 PM
Rdio Partners With "Cool" Record Labels For Specially-Curated Stations - Forbes

In an effort to separate themselves from the pack (of other streaming services), Rdio has partnered with some of the coolest record labels in the world, all of whom will be contributing to the site with individual stations. Unlike major firms (Warner, Universal, etc.) that focus on trying to sign [...]
Rdio sneaks out of the shadows to do a bit of freshening up of their veteran service.

(Rhapsody? Are you guys awake out there? I didn't even know until recently that you'd switched up to 320 kbps streams, and I was a happy customer for more than a couple years. Y'all need to blow your own horn.)
GearAndGuitars 4th July 2015 01:58 AM
Apple Music will make Spotify totally irrelevant within a year - Business Insider

Apple Music will dominate iPhone users because every iOS user will get an easy way to sign up for a three-month trial, and the service will hook them
GearAndGuitars 3rd July 2015 10:40 PM
Why .002 is Greater than .001 and Why 90 Days is Better than Forever… | The Tri

There's been a lot of talk and understandable dissent surrounding Apple's free tier payment of the reported .002 per play during each consumers 90 day free trial period. We now live in a world of lessor evils. Here are three things that we may want to keep in mind... One: Eliminating the Unlimited Free, Ad-Supported,…
Whitecat 3rd July 2015 06:40 AM
Feuding ukulele bands battle it out in court - BBC News

A British ukulele band wins a High Court battle against a rival German-based group it accused of copying its act.

GearAndGuitars 1st July 2015 11:57 PM
Spotify Hater Thom Yorke Is Streaming His Albums On Apple Music - Stereogum

In July 2013, Thom Yorke pulled his solo album The Eraser and the Atoms For Peace album AMOK off the streaming services Spotify, Rdio, and Deezer. Discussing
GearAndGuitars 30th June 2015 10:55 PM
Apple Music Launches | News | Pitchfork

Pitchfork is an official curator
Whitecat 30th June 2015 04:05 AM
AC/DC is on the highway to Spotify as rockers will finally stream their music

AC/DC, one of the few remaining artists who have refused to let fans stream their songs, will put their music catalog on Spotify and Rdio, Mashable confirmed.

GearAndGuitars 29th June 2015 05:21 AM
Illegal music sharing is ending: How the Internet finally grew up and learned to stop

From the moment I arrived at college in 1997, I was a pirate. Like me, the Internet was in its adolescence. Its infancy had been a time of academic cultivation. Its mature form today is mostly a corporate affair. In between though, there was what some have called the “golden...
GearAndGuitars 29th June 2015 04:40 AM
Sweden losing $100m from film-TV piracy | News | Screen

The Swedish film and TV industries lose close to $100m annually from illegal streaming and file sharing, according to report.
GearAndGuitars 28th June 2015 06:34 PM
Canadian court reflects common sense in rejecting Google appeal. - The Illusion of Mo

Last week's rejection of Google appeal in Equustek v Google offers refreshing dose of common sense.
GearAndGuitars 28th June 2015 06:09 PM
B.C. court ruling orders Google to block sites worldwide | Globe and Mail

In an unprecedented ruling, a B.C. court has ordered Google Inc. to block a group of websites from its worldwide search engine – a decision raising questions over how far one country’s courts can exert their power over the borderless Internet.
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