Your weekly guide to music business news
…and everything else you may have missed last week that matters in music.
Digital, Streaming and Subscription
US digital sales for 2014 continue the declining trend seen at end of 2013. Three weeks into 2014, digital track sales are down 11.9% and digital albums are down 13.3% according to Nielsen SoundScan. This time last year digital track sales were up 2.2% and digital album sales 18.9%.
Beats Music launched Tuesday, presenting a new top competitor to Spotify and Rdio with their digital interactive streaming service. Beats Music is allowing a free 7 day-trial, which after completion the service will cost users $9.99 per month. AT&T customers will have exclusive access to the $14.99 per month family plan, which allows up to five users full access to the service. Royalty rates are likely to be higher than similar services with free models as Beats Music does not offer a free version and only relies on paid subscriptions – however the exact rates are currently unknown.
Unfortunately, excessive demand for the service led to technical difficulties for new users trying to register and has led the company to put into operation “a gate” that will slowly allow new users to sign up and claim their Beats Music name. Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers offered any users who register this week an extended trial of 14-days to thank them for their patience.
SoundCloud, the popular Berlin-based streaming audio company that provides large and lesser-known artists alike away to store, stream and share their music on the web and mobile devices, recently closed a Series D funding round led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) with participation by the Chernin Group, the investment firm founded by former News Corp. president Peter Chernin. SoundCloud has not disclosed the official amount of funding yet, however the Wall Street Journal has reported the company raised over $60 million at a valuation of approximately $700 million.
According to a spokesperson at SoundCloud, the funding will be used “to grow more rapidly in product, personnel and expansion in mobile efforts”. However sources SoundCloud could use the cash to close ongoing negotiations with major labels to license their songs for the platforms, although most of the music uploaded and played on the platform is unlicensed.
Currently the company is used in over 200 countries, with it’s users uploading 12 hours of audio every minute, and 90% of those tracks are played the day posted.
Before the big names like Spotify and Rhapsody, Last.fm was the go-to source for personalized online radio. Although since 2007 when CBS bought the music service for $280 million, new competitors have left Last.FM in the dust. Their most recent move to battle more popular services is to dramatically cut costs by switching to music powered by YouTube videos. Last year, the company dropped out of most markets and stayed open as paid only in the US, UK and Germany.
Labels and Publishing Deals
Independent music won 50% of the awards at last nights 56th annual GRAMMY Awards. This is the highest percentage of wins since 2006, when A2IM began tracking the awards. Also, this marked the sixth consecutive year that indie labels and artists led the industry with 50% of all nominations, earning 199 of 398 non-producer nominations. Concord Music Group ranked first of the indies, winning six Grammy awards including: Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Best Blues Album and Best American Roots Song.
Effective as of January 21, US based music agency Paradigm announced the acquisition of a 50% stake in the London based Coda Music Agency. The joint venture will allow them to more efficiently operate by sharing resources to support their client roster. Coda’s client list includes a large number of electronic, rock, hip-hop and pop artists such as: The Civil Wars, Deer Tick, T-Pain and more.
UMPG’s news agreement with Pandora will allow the streaming service to play UMPG songs in the BMI repertoire. This agreement follows a legal battle over whether publishers like UMPG had the right to withdraw digital licensing from the PROs, and this new licensing agreement means UMPG and its songwriters and composers will not be subject to the Pandora/BMI rate court proceeding.
Legal and Royalties
Rap lyric website, Rap Genius has agreed to it’s first licensing deal with Universal Music Publishing Group.
Prince is pursuing a $22 million legal action against online bootleggers. The action is being commenced against 22 online users who are accused of distributing unauthorized live and other bootlegged Prince material.
Did you watch the GRAMMY Awards last night? Who do you think deserved each category’s awards and which mash-up of artists performing were your favorite? Comment below to tell us!
Our top three performances (in no particular order):
- Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons
- Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder
- And of course… Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Star