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jerryking : music_publishing   7

How Spotify’s algorithms are ruining music
May 2, 2019 | Financial Times | Michael Hann.

(1) FINAL DAYS OF EMI, By Eamonn Forde, Omnibus, RRP£20, 320 pages
(2) SPOTIFY TEARDOWN, By Maria Eriksson, Rasmus Fleischer, Anna Johansson, Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau, The MIT Press, RRP£14.99, 288 pages
(3) WAYS OF HEARING, By Damon Krukowski, The MIT Press, RRP£14.99, 136 pages

In April, the IFPI — the global body of the recording industry — released its latest annual Global Music Report. For the fourth consecutive year, revenues were up, to a total of $19.1bn, from a low of $14.3bn in 2014. Nearly half those revenues came from music streaming, driven by a 33 per cent rise in paid subscriptions to services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal...... It is worth remembering that 20 years ago, the IFPI reported global music revenues of $38.6bn. Today’s “booming” recording industry is less than half the size it was at the turn of the century.....The nadir for the recording industry coincided with the first shoots of its regrowth. ....In August 2007, the British record company EMI — the fourth of the majors, alongside Universal, Sony and Warner — was bought by private equity firm Terra Firma (Guy Hands, the fund’s founder and chairman) for $4.7bn; a year later, a Swedish company called Spotify took its music streaming service public. The former was, perhaps, the last gasp of the old way of doing things — less than four years after buying EMI, Terra Firma was unable to meet its debts, and ceded control of the company to its main lender, Citigroup. Before 2011 was out, the process of breaking up EMI had begun...EMI’s demise was foreshadowed before Hands arrived, with a blaze of hubris in the early 2000s. Forde, a longtime observer and chronicler of the music business recounts the “disastrous and expensive” signings of that era......Handspreached the need to use data when signing artists, not just the “golden ears” of talent scouts; data are now a key part of the talent-spotting process.

* to qualify as having been listened to on Spotify, a song has to have been played for 30 seconds.
* hit songs have become increasingly predictable, offering up all their pleasures in the opening half-minute. Their makers dare not risk scaring off listeners.
* for all the money that the streaming services have generated for the music industry, very little of it flows back to any musicians except the select few who dominate the streaming statistics,

.......On Spotify, music consumption has been reorganised around “behaviours, feelings and moods” channelled through curated playlists and motivational messages......The data Spotify collects enable the industry to work out who its market is, where it lives, what else they like, how often they listen to music — almost anything, really. It’s the greatest assemblage of information about music listeners in history, and it has profoundly altered the industry: it has made Spotify music’s kingmaker......when an artist travels abroad to promote a new album, the meeting with the local Spotify office is more important than the TV appearances or the newspaper interviews. ...Spotify enables artists to plan their band’s set lists so they can play the most popular song in any given city.............So what? What does it matter if one model of music distribution has been replaced by another.....It matters because Spotify has profoundly changed the listener’s relationship with music....Older musicians often wax about how, when you had to buy your own music as a kid, you listened to it until you liked it, because you wouldn’t be able to afford a new album for another month. Now you simply skip to the next one, and probably don’t give it your full attention. Without ownership, there’s no incentive to study...........Faced with the impossibly wide choice of Spotify, it becomes easier to return to old favourites — easier than when flicking through your vinyl or CDs, because the act of looking through your own music makes things you had not thought of in years leap out at you. Spotify actually makes people into more conservative listeners, a process aided by its algorithms, which steer you towards music similar to your most frequent listening.....The theme of Krukowski’s book is that the changes in the way the music industry works have been about controlling and eliminating excess noise. That’s in a literal sense and in a metaphorical one, too. Streaming has stripped music of context, pared it back to being just about the song and the moment....but noise is the context of life. Without noise, the signal becomes meaningless......The world of the old EMI was one of both signal and noise; where myths and legends could be created: The Beatles! Queen! The Beach Boys! Pink Floyd! It was never all about the signal. The world of Spotify is one of signal only, and if you don’t appreciate that signal within the first 30 seconds of the song...all may be lost
abundance  algorithms  Apple_Music  books  book_reviews  business_models  curation  cultural_transmission  data  decontextualization  EMI  gatekeepers  Guy_Hands  hits  indoctrination  iTunes  legacy_artists  music  music_catalogues  music_labels  music_industry  music_publishing  noise  piracy  platforms  playlists  royalties  ruination  securitization  signals  songs  Spotify  streaming  subscriptions  talent  talent_scouting  talent_spotting  Terra_Firma  Tidal  transformational 
may 2019 by jerryking
The death of cultural transmission
April 3, 2019 | FT Alphaville | By Jamie Powell.

music publishing = the business of licensing songs for films, television and advertising.

Valuing [a record label's] music catalogue is... crucial for anyone looking to bid for a stake in the business.

Despite the prominence of new music, established artists are still fundamental to recorded music's success. .......So let's think about these golden oldies as assets. Assets whose appeal has, arguably, only been heightened by the advent of streaming which, with its recurring revenues and growing audience, has made recurring payments from established acts even more bond-like in their cash flow consistency.
But like fixed-income assets with long durations, these cash flows are also sensitive to the smallest assumptions about their future viability. Assumptions which are not as rock solid as some investors might imagine. Let's use The Beatles as a point of reference here, as "The White Album" was UMG's fourth best-selling album last year. (If you're asking “why The Beatles?” Well, Alphaville likes The Beatles, sure. The Fab Four could easily be replaced by its other legacy acts, such as Queen and Nirvana).

But the problem for a prospective buyer is why we're a fan. To put it simply: we had no choice. We were indoctrinated.

On a long car journeys to coastal summer holidays, or at home on a knackered JVC stereo, we, like many of our friends, were limited to a dozen or so records (jk: finite resources). One of which, inevitably, would be some form of John, Paul, George and Ringo (and George).

Call it the cultural transmission effect. Music would be passed on generation to generation, amplified by the relative scarcity, physical space constraints and high prices of recorded media.

This provided a boon for the major labels as it not only meant lower marketing costs but reissues, limited editions, and remasters became an easily repeatable trick, as younger generations grew up to become consumers themselves.......The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Marley are after all, great artists. Their music will live on. But that's not the question for a perspective investor.

The question is: to what degree will the royalties from these artists continue to flow? Assume Sir Paul and Sir Ringo will continue to grow exponentially richer off the back of streaming, and perhaps the quoted multiples don't look quite so mad. In this age it's hard to find assets which both grow, and have semi-predictable cash flows.

But if the next generation doesn't hold the same affinity to the artists which defined the first fifty years of the pop era, where does that leave the labels' back catalogues? May we suggest: in a tougher spot than most imagine.
Apple_Music  artists  assets  Beatles  biopics  bonds  cultural_transmission  digital_strategies  finance  finite_resources  golden_oldies  hard_to_find  indoctrination  legacy_artists  music  music_catalogues  music_labels  music_publishing  platforms  Rollingstones  royalties  Spotify  strategic_buyers  streaming  superstars  U2  UMG  valuations 
april 2019 by jerryking
Music’s ‘Moneyball’ moment: why data is the new talent scout | Financial Times
JULY 5, 2018 | FT | Michael Hann.

The music industry loves to self-mythologise. It especially loves to mythologise about taking young scrappers from the streets and turning them into stars. It celebrates the men and women — but usually the men — with “golden ears” almost as much as the people making the music....A&R, or “artists and repertoire”, are the people who look for new talent, convince that talent to sign to the record label and then nurture it: advising on songs, on producers, on how to go about the job of being a pop star. It’s the R&D arm of the music industry......What the music business doesn’t like to shout about is how inefficient its R&D process is. The annual global spend on A&R is $2.8bn....and all that buys is the probability of failure: “Some labels estimate the ratio of commercial success to failure as 1 in 4; others consider the chances to be much lower — less than 1 in 10,” observes its 2017 report. Or as Mixmag magazine’s columnist The Secret DJ put it: “Major labels call themselves a business but are insanely unprofitable, utterly uncertain, totally rudderless and completely ignorant.”......The rise of digital music brought with it a huge amount of data which, industry executives realized, could be turned to their advantage. ....“All our business units must now leverage data and analytics in innovative ways to dig deeper than ever for new talent. The modern day talent-spotter must have both an artistic ear and analytical eyes.”

Earlier this year, in the same week as Warner announced its acquisition of Sodatone, a company that has developed a tool for talent-spotting via data, another data company, Instrumental, secured $4.2m of funding. The industry appeared to have reached a tipping point — what the website Music Ally called “A&R’s data moment”. Which is why, wherever the music industry’s great and good gather, the word “moneyball” has become increasingly prevalent.
........YouTube, Spotify, Instagram were born and changed the way talent begins its journey. All the barriers came down. Suddenly you’ve got tens of thousands of pieces of music content being uploaded.......Home computing’s democratization of recording removed the barriers to making high-quality music. No longer did you need access to a studio and an experienced producer, plus the money to pay for them. But the music industry had no way to keep abreast of these new creators. “....The way A&R people have discovered talent has barely changed since the music industry began, and it’s fundamentally the same for indie labels, who put artistry above sales, as it is for major labels who have to answer to shareholders. It’s always been about information.....“We find them by listening to new music constantly, by people giving us tips, by going out and seeing things that sound interesting,”.....“The most useful people to talk to are concert promoters and booking agents. They are least inclined to bullshit; they’ll tell you how many people an act is drawing,”...like labels, publishers also have an A&R function, signing up songwriters, many of whom will also be in bands)....“Journalists and radio producers are [also] very useful people to give you information. If you know you’ve got particular DJs or particular writers who are going to pick up something, that’s really good.”
.......Instrumental’s selling point is a dashboard called Talent AI, which scrapes data from Spotify playlists with more than 10,000 followers.....“We took a view that to build momentum on Spotify, you need to be on playlists,”....“If no one knows who you are, no one’s going to suddenly start streaming a track you’ve just put up. It happens when you start getting included on playlists.”......To make it workable, the Talent AI dashboard enables users to apply a series of filters to either tracks or artists: to sort by nationality, by genre, by number of playlists they appear on, by the number of playlist subscribers, by their industry standing — are they signed to a major? To an independent label? Are they unsigned?
.......What A&R people are looking for, though, is not totals, it’s evidence of momentum. No one wants to sign the artist who has reached maximum popularity. They want the artist on the way up....“It’s the direction. Is it going in the right direction?”....when it comes to assessing what an artist can offer, the data isn’t even always about the numbers. “The one I look at the most is Instagram, because that’s the easiest way for an artist to express themselves in a way other than the music — how they look, what they’re into,” she says. “That gives a real snapshot into [them] and whether they really have formulated a world for themselves or not.”......not everyone is delighted with the drive to data. “[the advent of] Spotify...became the driving force for signings...“A&Rs were using their eyes rather than their ears — watching numbers change rather than listening to music, and then jumping on acts....they saw something happening and got it out quickly without having to invest in the traditional A&R process.”... online heat tends to be generated by transient teenage audiences who are likely to move on rather than stick around for a decade: online presence is a big thing in electronic dance music, or some branches of urban music, in which an artist might only be good for a single song. In short, data does not measure quality; it does not tell you whether an artist has 20 good songs that can be turned into their first two albums; it does not tell you whether they can command a crowd in live performance..........The music industry, of course, has always had an issue with short-termism/short-sightedness: [tension] between the people who sign the cheques and those who go to bat for the artists is built into the way it works..........The problem is that without career artists, the music industry just becomes even more of a lottery. It is being made harder, not just by short-termism, but by the fact that music has become less culturally central. “It’s so much harder to connect with an audience or grow an audience, because there’s so much noise,”
.......Today the A&R...agree that the new data has its uses, but insist it still takes second place to the evidence of their own eyes and ears.......As for Withey, he is not about to tell the old-school scouts their days are done....Instrumental can tell A&R people which artists are hot, but not which are good. Also, there will be amazing acts who simply don’t get the traction on the internet to register on the Talent AI dashboard.....All of which will come as a relief to the people running those A&R departments. .....when asked if data will become the single most important factor in scouting talent: “I hope not. Otherwise we may as well have robots.” For now, at least, the golden ears are safe.
A&R  algorithms  analytics  data  dashboards  tips  discoveries  filters  hits  Instagram  inefficiencies  momentum  music  music_industry  music_labels  music_publishing  Moneyball  myths  playlists  self-mythologize  songwriters  Spotify  SXSW  success_rates  talent  talent_spotting  tipping_points  tracking  YouTube  talent_scouting  high-quality  the_single_most_important 
july 2018 by jerryking
The music industry dances to the beat of TV revenue - The Globe and Mail
September 4, 2017 | Globe and Mail | by JOSH O’KANE.

Toronto's Barenaked Ladies first blew up in the 1990s, when CDs were king. But music sales have since collapsed and streaming services such as Spotify have replaced some, but not nearly all, of that revenue. Bands such as Mr. Robertson's have made up for lost sales in large part by touring. As the fall TV season begins – including The Big Bang Theory's season premiere later this month – getting music on a TV show, film or commercial is becoming an increasingly enticing revenue stream for musicians and the businesses that back them.

As streaming-video platforms keep adding new, original shows and films on top of traditional broadcast channels, the opportunities to license music increase as well. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the recorded music industry's global lobby group, reports that in 2016 Canada brought in $7.8-million (U.S.) in "synchronization" revenue for artists and labels from using music in TV, film, ads and video games.

While that represents less than 1 per cent of total revenue, it's a 32-per-cent increase over the previous year, signalling growing attention for recordings' revenue stream. Meanwhile, SOCAN – which collects royalties for songwriters and music publishers in Canada – says more than a third of all of its royalty revenue comes from TV sources.
films  licensing  music  musicians  music_industry  music_publishing  royalties  streaming  songwriters  television 
september 2017 by jerryking
Venture: The (musical) schlock stops with Jingle Punks - The Globe and Mail
DAVE MORRIS
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Sep. 25 2014

Jared Gutstadt had been playing in struggling bands by night and working as a video editor at MTV by day, choosing tracks from “production music” libraries to soundtrack the action in the likes of Chappelle’s Show.

The music industry boasts dozens of libraries, the largest of which are affiliated with the major record labels, and millions of songs are available for licensing, from no-name tracks to cover songs to huge, prohibitively expensive hits. The Rolling Stones famously charged Microsoft a reported $3-million (U.S.) to license Start Me Up for an ad campaign for Windows 95.

Ready-made production music normally costs a fraction of that figure. The filmmaker or TV company licenses the publishing rights (the lyrics and structure of a song, as opposed to the actual recording), paying what’s known as a “synchronization” fee. In 2013, according to the IFPI, synchronization fees worldwide totalled $337-million. In addition, whenever the TV show or movie featuring the track is broadcast or reproduced on DVDs, the owner of the recording itself is usually entitled to another sum, producing a revenue stream that can be small, but potentially steady.

Gutstadt and a partner saw an opportunity to be the suppliers of the music for the shows he and his MTV co-workers were editing, and Jingle Punks was born. The opportunity to become more than a niche player emerged not long after.

“There wasn’t enough production music that was easily accessible for the tidal wave of content that was going to occur,” Gutstadt says on the phone from his office in Los Angeles. That wave was unscripted reality shows.

Jingle Punks’ technical innovation, spearheaded by co-founder and software developer Dan Demole, was to offer a curated selection of license-able songs organized by what Gutstadt describes as a “relational search algorithm.” Users can search for music using non-musical terms such as the names of movies, and select and pay for the use of those songs, all through the company’s website.
music  free  start_ups  MTV  digital_media  algorithms  licensing  licensing_rights  musicians  music_catalogues  music_labels  music_publishing  Dave_Chappelle 
september 2014 by jerryking
A New Spin for Corporate Music Deals - WSJ.com
June 13, 2007 | WSJ | By ETHAN SMITH
A New Spin for Corporate Music Deals
Warner Venture With Top Manager Aims to Build on Ties to Artists.

Brand Asset Group, as the newly formed venture with Chris Lighty, the manager of rapper 50 Cent, is called, aims to address one of the biggest complaints among record labels: Their inability to capitalize on lucrative revenue streams such as merchandise sales and image licensing that typically benefit artists and their managers.

For years, labels have been vowing to vault out of the narrow CD and download business and into the "brand" business. Executives have watched in growing frustration as their artists cash in on endorsements, sneaker and clothing deals and the like. Labels have spent millions marketing artists and building their brands, but have benefited from only one dwindling revenue stream.

"The music industry is growing," Warner Chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. told an investor conference last week. "The record industry is not growing." He went on to say that his company is trying to expand into "many, many other businesses" beyond the sale and licensing of music.
music_labels  music_industry  branding  celebrities  talent_representation  music_publishing 
june 2012 by jerryking

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