Conferences: Midem 2014
Sunday morning, New Music Seminar presented a panel which focused on the impact of new services and business models on indie labels. The transition from ownership to music access or physical and download sales to streaming has created both concerns and excitement for indie labels.
Executive Director of NMS and CEO of Tommy Boy Records Tom Silverman moderated the session which he began by stating “A new world order is starting to establish itself”. The panel was comprised of: Kenny Gates, founder of PIAS Recordings; Martin Goldschmidt, chairman of Cooking Vinyl Group; Emmanuel de Buretel, CEO of Because Music; and Colin Daniels, MD of Inertia.
Today Midem revealed the results of their 2014 Hackday, where 25 hackers were given roughly 48 hours to create some of the most compelling new music apps. The winning app was “DJ Spotify” which lets anyone — including self-proclaimed beginner DJs like creator Yuli Levtov — mix any tracks from Spotify’s 22 million-string catalogue.
Other great apps developed included “This is your tour” which allows artist to quickly and easily list all the cities and venues they should visit by intelligently querying datasets around the internet, “seevl hipster” which gives you the ability to find obscure artists that match your friends’ tastes, and show-off on their Facebook wall, along with several others.
The theme of Midem 2014’s international conference is “Back To Growth? Make It Sustainable!”, and that the music industry may finally be on a projectory towards future growth. Midem created a helpful infographic to prove their case and includes other great information on how to successfully maintain sustainable growth in the music industry. Click the thumbnail to see the full size infographic on Midem’s Blog.
Digital, Streaming & Subscription
Billboard tracked 57 investment deals totaling over $2.4B and found nearly 9 in 10 dollars invested went to a traditional music company, EDM promoter or music streaming company. Most investments were made in small, digital start ups. Most were focused on improving how people discover concerts or changing how people create music.
Following SoundCloud’s recent $60 million funding round (at a valuation of $700 million), SoundCloud has launched a new embeddable visual player. The new visual player adds artwork including an improved version of SoundCloud’s trademark look and adds continuous listening.
Artists first to utilize the new visual player include Steve Aoki and The 1975. Check out an example of the new visual player below with a track from Steve Aoki. The existing player is still available, however after trying out SoundCloud’s new offering you may not ever need it.
Last week we told you about Last.fm’s plans to stream music via YouTube to cut costs and this Wednesday, CBS owned Last.fm announced a new deal with Spotify which appears to be an additional measure to cut operating costs by switching to outside music providers. Both free and premium Spotify users can play and control music from a Spotify playbar at the bottom of the Last.fm screen.
According to their announcement: “We’ve teamed up with Spotify to bring their entire catalogue, on demand, to the world’s leading music recommendation service. Whether it be your own profile page, artist pages or album pages – if Spotify has it, you can play it and control it on Last.fm via the Spotify playbar at the bottom of the screen. Using your Spotify account (premium or free) you can listen to any track simply by pressing the play button. This will load all tracks on a Last.fm page as a playlist in Spotify.”
Although unknown if YouTube or streaming from other services are still part of the Last.fm plan, its highly likely due to the cost savings that outside music providers offer the service.
Rap Genius launched their first mobile app today, Genius. Described by the company as “your pocket guide to human culture”, the app will allow users to search Rap Genius, scan songs in the users’ iTunes Library and match with annotated lyrics and as the site describes, “hold your phone up to music playing around you, and – SHAZAM! (The Rap Genius annotation reads: “no relation”)– Genius instantly takes you to the annotated lyrics for that song.”
Just to note further, Rap Genius’s Genius Technology has no affiliation with Shazam and as of now Genius will not display lyrics for music playing from other app such as Spotify, Pandora or any others.
The site’s recent dispute with Google about backlinking in order to increase the their search ranking has led to a penalization and sharp decline in traffic. Rap Genius hopes this app will bypass some of their dependence on search engine traffic, specifically for mobile which is stated to make up more than half of their overall traffic. Also, the app’s launch is thought by many to be a sign that the company is attempting to further legitimize itself with its controversial reputation.
Revenue from music apps rose 77% in 2013, according to analytics firm App Annie. Music is now the third most popular app category, up from seventh in 2012, with only game and social networking apps more popular last year.
Pandora lead global music app growth, which is impressive given their music streaming service is only available in the US, Australia and New Zealand.
App Annie data measures downloading from paid apps and in-app purchase (i.e. for Pandora means subscriptions) and their data does not take into account ad revenue. Read the full App Annie Index 2013 Retrospective here.
3Plet Publishing brings the album experience back to digital music by creating music albums as apps. Named a Midemlab Music Tech Startup Finalist, the Estonian-based startup provides a digital publishing solution and platform for music and visual artists to jointly publish, share and monetize their music and art on mobile and connected devices.
In their early days, 3plet focused on the Russian-speaking market to test its ideas for artists such as Mumiy Troll. Now, they’ve started to more actively market their services in the US and Western Europe. This weekend 3plet took their platform Midem, which they hope will increase their visibility to bring its service to a wider audience. 3plet currently has over 40 apps you can check out here.
Indiegogo, the San Francisco based crowdfunding site which has launched over 190,000 campaigns, raised $40 million in Series B Venture funding from IVP and Kelin Perkins. The new funds are earmarked for expansion and to push ahead of competitors such as Kickstarter and more specialized PledgeMusic.
Indiegogo, run by a team of only 85, will use the funds to start “making key hires, expanding globally and improving the user experience with a focus on mobile, personalization and trust,” according to a statement.
“We’re committed to making Indiegogo the world’s funding engine and giving people access to capital worldwide,” stated Slava Rubin, Founder and Chief Executive of Indiegogo. “With IVP’s and KPCB’s support, we can rapidly take critical steps to helping more and more people fund what matters to them.”
App.net has launched Backer, a new crowdfunding service for developers that focuses on funding a new feature or service. The new service hopes to help developers see if users are actually going to support a startup’s next step by seeing if they’ll fund it.
So, what is App.net? It’s developer platform launched to provide a basis for creating alternatives to Twitter and Facebook. In addition to providing support for independent apps, App.net itself is creating specific tools. For example, App.net Broadcasts was launched last Fall providing free push notifications.
App.net have tested Backer on their site and the service is now currently available to the public, join here.
Legal and Royalties
SoundExchange has finally released royalties that had not been claimed by record labels and artists, otherwise known as a pool release. The performing rights organization for digital performances of sound recordings cleared $9.3M from their books, a relatively small sum compared to their 2013 distributions of around $300M. Sound recording owners or performing artists who hadn’t signed up prior to October will not receive their unclaimed royalties from 2004 to 2008.
The regulations for unclaimed funds were created by The Copyright Royalty Board under Section 114 of the Copyright Act. The rule directs SoundExchange to hold for a period of three years any royalties if it cannot identify or locate a copyright owner or performing arts. After three years, SoundExchange may apply the unclaimed funds to offset administrative costs.
SoundExchange President and CEO Mike Huppe repeatedly delayed releasing unclaimed royalties and warned unregistered labels and artists that a pool release was imminent. In August 2012, SoundExchange released a list in the form of a searchable database of artists who hadn’t registered and were eligible to receive $31M of unclaimed royalties.
Clearing out unclaimed royalties has been difficult and three years prior to the pool release SoundExchange engaged in over 150 programs with outside parties. A matching program matches names on the organization’s unclaimed royalty list to uses a third party’s membership list with additional help from CD Baby, Myspace, BandPage, SAG-AFTRA and more.
ReDigi, ‘the digital second hand record store’ has secured a patent for an ‘atomic transaction’ process which allows MP3s to be transferred between consumers without creating a new copy. The creation of a new copy, when transferring a digital music file between the original and new owner had landed the service on the wrong side of copyright law.
This new process has the potential to clear the service from its legal wrangles allowing ReDigi to focus on growth rather than litigation. Read more here.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has been elected ranking minority member of the House Judiciary subcommittee that oversees issues vital to the music industry. The Courts, Intellectual Property, and Internet Subcommittee has jurisdiction over one matter of particular interest to the entertainment industry, copyright. It has been especially active in recent months, holding hearings on various copyright issues as part of efforts by House Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte to update copyright law.
Nadler is a strong advocate of copright and friendlier to the music industry than other Democrats on the Subcommittee, reminding us who he prevented from being elected. For example, Subcommittee member Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) was a sponsor of the Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA) which introduced in 2012 would have lowered statutory royalty rates paid by Internet radio services and fellow Subcommitte member Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) who was an original cosponsor of IFRA. Nadler in contrast, is said to have drafted competing legislation that would have raised the statutory royalty rate for Internet radio.
The Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet at the House of Representatives took oral testimonies from a number of witnesses on the scope of fair use last week.
The witness panel included Namoi Novik from the Organization for Transformative Works, singer/songwriter David Lowery and Kurt Wimmer, General Counsel for the Newspaper Association of America. A full list of the witness panel, their testimonies and video of the hearing is available here.
Labels and Publishing Deals
Universal Music Publishing Groups has settled a short term deal for its catalog to remain with performing rights organization BMI.
The agreement is amongst a number of short term arrangements between publishers and performing rights organizations as the regulatory issues surrounding digital performance rights are clarified.
Third Side Music has signed publishing and sync partnership deals with two classic catalogs: Studio One/JamRec and the works of Galt MacDermot. Studio One, the legendary Jamaican recording facility, was also a label and outlet for various enterprises operated by musician, producer and entrepreneur Clement “Coxsone” Dodd (1932-2004). Dodd helped pioneer the Island’s major music movements in the 1960s and ’70s, including ska, rocksteady, dub and dancehall while recording and producing some of the top musicians to ever come out of Jamaica, including: The Skatalites (the studio’s first house band), Horace Andy, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Burning Spear, Sugar Minott, Abysinians, the Heptones, Marcia Griffiths, Lee Perry, Alton Ellis, Sound Dimension and hundreds more.