The blockchain is a decentralized system, with no single entity controlling it. The servers keeping its backbone upright are scattered across the globe, and for that reason the technology is transparent; everyone can see its anonymized data. It could also replace notaries, as every transaction is time stamped automatically and receives a unique ID. No exchange rates apply either, because cryptocurrencies are oblivious to borders. And because there are no intermediaries involved, monies are transferred instantly.
Two companies, both still in development, show the technology's potential for the music business. PeerTracks, which plans to launch in about two months, plans to use the technology to create a type of artist equity trading system. Another, Ujo ('container' in Esperanto, the international auxiliary language made semi-infamous by William Shatner) is building a system designed to address two major problems in global royalty distribution and licensing.
Apparently, Americans still feel right at home with the radio dial. According to Nielsen, 91.3 percent of people over age twelve still listen in every week.
Seriously? What about all this big-time streaming radio? Spotify? Pandora? Satellite radio? MP3s?
Well, “on-demand” streaming radio is rocking it, with 54 percent of people streaming more music last year than in 2013. Altogether, 59 percent of people listen to both streams and traditional radio for their tunes. But streaming, satellite radio and MP3s have by no means knocked out AM/FM airwaves.
Of course there are a few caveats. The car is the primary place for radio, driving 25 percent of Americans’ listening time. It just feels right to listen to radio in the car, and no other listening format has the ubiquity of the car stereo. As far as new(er) music on a casual, on-the-fly-level, radio’s got it—for free. Fifty-one percent of people use radio to discover new stuff (but they don’t necessarily buy it).
The week of October 19 is the week digital music met its future. Long dominated by early entrants and standalone companies, the music subscription market was rocked by the world's two largest technology companies, Apple and Google.
Nielsen’s fourth annual study of U.S. music listeners, 91% of the national population listens to music, spending more than 24 hours each week tuning into their favorite tunes. While total listening figures are roughly the same as last year, how we access and engage with musicis changing.
In looking at the report data, 75% of Americans listen to music online in a typical week, up nearly 12% from last year. And online listening trends are having a significant impact on our on-demand listening habits. While Americans streamed more than 164 billion on-demand tracks across audio and video platforms in 2014, they streamed 135 billion in the first half of 2015 alone – up more than 90% from the same period last year. And our music listening isn’t just becoming increasingly digital, it’s becoming more mobile. In fact, 44% of us report using our smartphones to listen to music in a typical week, a 7% increase over last year, while we’re listening on our desktop computers less.
Radio continues to be the No. 1 source of music discovery in the U.S, with 61% of respondents saying they find out about new music from AM/FM or satellite radio, a 7% increase over last year. Word of mouth is also important, particularly for teens: 65% say they discover new music through family and friends, well above the average of 45%.
Colu, a platform using Bitcoin blockchain technology, today announced that it has beta launched its platform for developers. Individual developers and companies are now welcome to build on the Colu platform. In addition, Colu has announced Revelator as its first partner. Revelatoris a cloud-based provider of sales and marketing intelligence for independent music businesses.
“Colu has made the complex technology of the blockchain accessible for integrations into platforms like ours, and we’re looking forward to exploring all the ways it can improve service to our clients.”
Colu has developed a platform based on Bitcoin blockchain technology which for the first time can be used by developers and consumers with little to no bitcoin knowledge to build and exchange digital assets for everything from financial industry (shares, bonds, stocks), records (certificates, copyrights, documentation) to ownership (event tickets, vouchers, gift cards).
Colu is working with music-tech industry leader, Revelator, to build a Rights Management API. Today, there remains a complicated chain of rights ownership and usage in the digital distribution of music. This API will provide the secure issuance and distribution of digital assets, including listing and registration of musical works for its clients and helping collecting societies provide more transparency and efficiency to all market participants.
Of the issues that have bedeviled the music industry, perhaps the most insidious has been that of transparency, or, more accurately, a lack thereof. In fact there really has not ever been a time when the modern music industry, meaning the industry that developed around the distribution and use of sound recordings, has been truly transparent. - See more at: http://www.thembj.org/2015/08/transparency-in-the-music-industry/#sthash.9rFSnmD9.dpufOf the issues that have bedeviled the music industry, perhaps the most insidious has been that of transparency, or, more accurately, a lack thereof. In fact there really has not ever been a time when the modern music industry, meaning the industry that developed around the distribution and use of sound recordings, has been truly transparent. - See more at: http://www.thembj.org/2015/08/transparency-in-the-music-industry/#sthash.9rFSnmD9.dpuf
Catherine Hol's insight:
Of the issues that have bedeviled the music industry, perhaps the most insidious has been that of transparency, or, more accurately, a lack thereof. In fact there really has not ever been a time when the modern music industry, meaning the industry that developed around the distribution and use of sound recordings, has been truly transparent. - See more at: http://www.thembj.org/2015/08/transparency-in-the-music-industry/#sthash.9rFSnmD9.dpuf
On one level, this is a battle of two similar products simply trying to out-do each other: see Spotify’s new Discover Weekly feature – a trenchant riposte to Apple’s popular ‘For You’ playlist picker.
On the other side, witness Apple’s insistence that its human-based music curation can trump anything Spotify’s Echo Nest machine-makers have up their sleeve.
It’s some contest.
But compared to what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s small fry.
The real Battle Royal is taking place in the judicial and legislative arena of the United States.
Apple is now facing tangible pressure from the US’s Federal Trade Commissionfor something it’s been doing for ages: taking a 30% cut of app and in-app purchases – including music subscription services – within iOS and iTunes.
This is hardwired into Apple’s technological DNA: in-app purchases on iOS have to be collected using Apple’s own API.
There are two arguments over the right and wrongs of this practice.
Apple supporters say it’s a godsend for startup app developers as it removes any initial monetary risk.
You don’t have to pay Apple anything upfront, and they don’t take any equity in your company (which, funnily enough, appears to be the de facto major label approach to such relationships).
But Apple detractors say this system is deeply unfair. Some refer to it as the ‘Apple tax’.
Their argument: Why should companies have to pay Cupertino’s finest such an arbitrary, hefty cut of their proceeds?
Especially when Apple’s main device rival, Android, from Google (remember that name, people, for a stunning callback – coming soon) doesn’t place such restrictions on its partners?
Enter the launch of Apple Music, and a fuller explanation of why 2015 is hosting an era-defining skirmish in the world of digital entertainment.
Since June 30, Spotify, Tidal, Rdio, Deezer and the rest have faced a painful headache.
They either maintain their standard pricing on iOS and swallow Apple’s share (so, charge $9.99 a month to the consumer but give away $3 of this payment to Apple) or increase their public-facing price by 30% (to, say $12.99) to make an allowance for Apple’s slice of the pie.
Do musicians need to sign to a major label to make it in 2015? Do they need Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote themselves, their music and that super exclusive behind-the-scenes selfie with their dog? Increasingly not, and a wave of new apps look set to make it even easier to sustain a direct-to-fan eco-system.
Did you know less than 1% of the world’s population are currently paying for on-demand music streaming services?
The wider industry continues to hope that the likes of Spotify and Apple Music will provide salvation – and early signs from the Nordics and other territories certainly provide reason for hope.
But why are the vast majority of people refusing to put their hand in their pocket for ‘all the music in the world’?
New research out of the US from Nielsen Music brings us closer to the answer.
The research company has conducted what it calls ‘a comprehensive, in-depth study of consumer interaction with music in the United States’ for its Nielsen Music 360 Report – analysing the responses of more than 3,300 US music fans.
The Report covers a range of topics and provides reason to be cheerful: apparently 75% of US consumers now listen to music online in a typical week, for example.
There’s also a shot in the arm for radio.
According to Nielsen’s respondents, 61% of people say they discover new music on the wireless today, which has actually increased from the 57% who agreed in 2014.
Meanwhile, streaming services, including YouTube, inform 27% of people about new music.
That’s less than a third of radio’s influence, but also behind the recommendations of friends and family (45%) and movies / movie soundtracks (31%).
Regulators and other entities have been looking to create a new system since 2000, when a group of European collection entities sought to build something called the International Music Joint Venture. Most recently, at the direction of the European Union, a number of performance rights organizations and technology companies worked in Europe to try to create something called the Global Repertoire Database, which would have solved this problem for publishers and the songwriters they represent.
But after spending more than $13 million trying to figure out the logistics of such a system, a number of large organizations, including ASCAP and BMI, abandoned the project, effectively putting the Global Repertoire Database on ice. Questions remain about who could pay to maintain a system involved in trillions of transactions every year. A separate initiative, the International Music Registry, which would pay for itself through taxes on transfers of money between performance rights organizations, also is stalled.
Music industry stakeholders say creating something that works for everybody will require an unprecedented amount of wrangling and politicking. But as more and more people begin using these kinds of services, that cooperation will become necessary. “The data’s available,” Omnifone founder Sant said during a panel at last week’s Rethink Music forum. “It’s just spread out in thousands of places.”
Since its 1998 peak, the music industry has been tanking. Global revenue from recorded music has halved from nearly $30 billion before leveling off to about $15 billion in the past few years. In the United States, recorded-music revenue suffered a similar free fall, cratering in 2011 at $4.5 billion...
A project is underway to launch a new playlist brand on Spotify and other streaming services which represents independent labels worldwide.
The major labels own successful playlist brands including Digster (Universal), Topsify (Warner) and Filtr (Sony), which boast more than 7m followers between them.
(Update: To clarify, that 7m figure refers to profile followers. Across all of its playlists combined, Filtr alone has more than 21m followers.)
Today, the Association of Independent Music (AIM) has released an official Request For Proposals (RFP) to organisations and individuals interested in helping creating a comparable playlist brand for the independents.
Live music has been on a bit of an over-the-top roll lately. The five shows in the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well tour, which wrapped up in Chicago over the weekend, together racked up more than 175,000 paid live streams, making it easily one of the largest paid live music events ever to go over the top. Archived shows will be available through August 5, which will push the combined live and on-demand numbers even higher.
This week brought word of a partnership between Verizon Digital Media Services and LiveXLive to live stream at least three day-long festivals this fall in the U.S. and internationally.
Launched in May, LiveXLive is a subsidiary of hedge-fund backed Loton Corp., created to pursue what its founders believe is a growing opportunity in live music streaming. While live-streaming music festivals obviously is not new, LiveXLive’s is thinking much more ambitiously.
According to the launch press release, LiveXLive wants to create a 24-hour over-the-top linear network around live music modeled on what ESPN is to sports and CNN is to news.
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