Archive | Digital Media
Yesterday, the Copyright Alert System was launched in America. If you’re a normal person and consume your music via Spotify, Pandora, YouTube or sites like this one, you’ve got nothing to worry about. And even if you still illegally download music, you don’t have that much to worry about yet, but consider yourself on notice. Launched by the Center for Copyright Information and its record label and movie studio partners, the system seems a lot less harsh and more reasonable than the RIAA suing its customers or Nuclear Blast going after All Shall Perish fans via a third party.
The way the Copyright Alert System works is that content owners (aka the labels) can send infringement notices to offenders via their Internet Service Providers (ISP), with AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon on board. The first notice someone gets will be just that, a notice stating that they’ve been found downloading copyrighted material. A subsequent offense will require the infringer to acknowledge receipt of the notices. If you continue to infringe, you might have to watch an educational video or your internet service may be slowed. It’s not a “three strikes” program, which means if you, for example, have your internet slowed for a few days and don’t download anything illegally, it’ll eventually return to normal.
The Copyright Alert System won’t do anything to persecute you. There are no criminal penalties or fines for any of this. However, according to the Daily Dot, the content companies may try to sue you as a serial pirate after you’ve been cited six times or more. And that definitely seems like something that could be used against you in court. With all the ways to listen to music for free, it’s hard to imagine that there’s still that much file sharing going on. This likely has more implications for people that illegally download movies or TV shows.
[Billboard.biz and The Daily Dot, via The Daily Swarm]
Led Zeppelin is unarguably one of the biggest bands to ever exist in rock music (just ask President Obama). So would having exclusive rights to stream their vast catalog be a major grab for any streaming subscription service? Hell yeah it would! And apparently such a deal could come to fruition very shortly.
According to The New York Times, Led Zeppelin and its longtime label WMG is in negotiations with a handful of subscription services for the right to stream their entire catalog online. Spotify, Rhapsody and Rdio are reportedly a few of the companies taking part in the talks. A spokesman for WMG reportedly had the following to say about the negotiations:
“We’re excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Led Zeppelin to activate streaming rights for their catalog. We’re supportive of the band’s discussions with W.M.G.’s streaming service partners to create a window of exclusivity to maximize the impact of this launch.”
Led Zeppelin has previously taken their good old time to adapt to digital formats, holding out from iTunes until 2007. And even without digital sales, Led Zeppelin have been one of the best -selling rock groups of all time. So Led Zeppelin’s participation in any subscription service will give the streaming model itself a big boost (though whether joining Spotify has helped Metallica yet is still debatable). We’ll have to wait and see where the negotiations will lead to and which streaming service you’ll be able to blast “Stairway To Heaven” on.
Earlier this month, Metallica’s entire catalog was made available on Spotify. It was a major grab for the European streaming service, with Metallica being one of the biggest and best-selling groups in rock (not just metal). But would the move prove to be a good one for Metallica? Well, new reports suggest that the move to Spotify may have had an effect on Metallica’s album sales…but not in a good way.
According to Billboard.biz, Metallica’s studio albums have supposedly taken a dip in sales since being made available via Spotify. Taking a look at Nielsen SoundScan data for Metallica’s studio albums for four-week periods leading up to Christmas from 2008 to 2012, Billboard.biz found that album sales were 15% below expectations the week the titles were added to Spotify, and 35% below expectations the following week. Plus, during the four-week period leading up to Christmas, Metallica’s sales increased to 27.2%. That pales in comparison to the 60% to 61% increase they experienced during the same time range in 2010 and 2011.
With that said, Billboard.biz does acknowledge that Spotify may not be entirely to blame. They do note that the end of the SoundScan sales week this year occurred further away from Christmas, while sales weeks ending closer to Christmas tend to better reflect late holiday shopping. It also doesn’t help that the number of retail outlets to purchase music has decreased dramatically over the years. Plus, it wouldn’t be hard to believe that Metallica’s agreement with Spotify includes a higher percentage of revenue from streaming.
Still, many continue to question whether Spotify actually helps or hurts existing album sales, and Metallica’s decreases in sales aren’t helping the streaming service’s case. Furthermore, this isn’t exactly a great start for Metallica own label.
We know that Trent Reznor is a busy guy, especially with all sorts of new musical collaborations. As it turns out, though, the Nine Inch Nails mastermind has also been busy creating his own streaming service.
During a feature interview with The New Yorker, Reznor revealed that he’s been working with Beats Electronics (aka Beats By Dr. Dre) on a new music streaming service. Tentatively being dubbed Daisy, Reznor is reportedly aiming to make the service more “personable” and better exposes users to more new forms of music. When comparing his service to Spotify, Reznor claimed “Here’s sixteen million licensed pieces of music,’ they’ve said, but you’re not stumbling into anything. What’s missing is a service that adds a layer of intelligent curation.”
But that’s not all Reznor revealed during the interview. While we know that new Nine Inch Nails material has been in the works, Reznor revealed that Interscope Records is preparing to release a “best of” compilation for tentatively 2014. While it’s unclear how involved he’ll be with the release, Reznor did say that two new NIN songs would appear on the compilation. It’s unclear, though, as to when (or how) an album completely made of new material will be released.
Check out more highlights from The New Yorker interview online (note, you need to have an account to read the entire piece).
AC/DC was one of the remaining major acts to hold out from distributing music through iTunes. Well that changed this morning, as the Australian rock legends’ entire catalog is now available via Apple’s juggernaut music store.
In addition to individual records, iTunes is now offering the “Complete Set” of AC/DC for $149.99, as well as the “Studio Collection” for $99.99, ringtones, and the group’s new live album Live At River Plate. Other than a generic post on Facebook, no specific member of AC/DC has comment on the move to iTunes. Regardless, this move does come as a surprise since not only has AC/DC been very vocal about their hold out, but they are unarguably one band that doesn’t need iTunes to sell albums. Ironically, this announcement comes the same day that Kid Rock (another long-time hold out from iTunes) made his debut on iTunes by releasing his new album Rebel Soul.
Chances are many fans already have most (if not all) of AC/DC’s albums. For those who don’t or want digital copies, though, head over to iTunes now.
Digital radio and streaming services have been a hot button issue in the music industry, especially relating to revenue. So it’s understandable why many musicians would be unhappy that Pandora is lobbying lawmakers in U.S. Congress to pass the “Internet Radio Fairness Act,” which would change regulation of how royalties are paid to artists. In fact, 125 artists specially are so opposed by the online music company’s push that they’ve signed an open letter to voice their concerns.
According to Digital Music News, heavy acts like Megadeth, Rush, KISS, Skid Row, and Duff McKagan included their signature in the open letter to Pandora that also included Rihanna, Billy Joel and many others. Here is the open letter to Pandora (along with all 125 signatures):
“We are big fans of Pandora. That’s why we helped give the company a discount on rates for the past decade.
Pandora is now enjoying phenomenal success as a Wall Street company. Skyrocketing growth in revenues and users. We celebrate that. At the same time, the music community is just now beginning to gain its footing in the new digital world.
Pandora’s principal asset is the music.
Why is the company asking Congress once again to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon? That’s not fair, and that’s not how partners work together.
Congress has many pressing issues to consider, but this is not one of them. Let’s work this out as partners and continue to bring fans the great musical experience they rightly expect.
Bryan Adams, Alabama, Greg Allman, Steve Angello, Rodney Atkins, Sara Bareilles, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Clint Black, Jack Blades, Blondie, Jonatha Brooke, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffett, Oteil Burbridge, The Cab, Colbie Caillat, Camper Van Beethoven, CoCo Carmel, George Clinton, Keyshia Cole, Common, Easton Corbin, Cowboy Mouth, Cracker, Randy Crawford, Robert Cray, David Crosby, Joel Crouse, Sheryl Crow, Drew Davis, Taylor Dayne, Dead Kennedys, Raheem DeVaughn, The Doors, Down, The Dream, Vikter Duplaix, Missy Elliott, Lupe Fiasco, The 5th Dimension, Flyleaf, John Fogerty, Guy Forsyth, The Game, Vince Gill, David Gilmour, Genevieve Goings, Martha Reeves, Rihanna, Eric Roberson, Darius Rucker, Rush, Bobby Rush, Joe Sample, David Sanborn, Skid Row, Michael W. Smith, Britney Spears, Dave Stewart, Survivor, T.I., Susan Tedeschi, Robin Thicke, George Thorogood, Toto, Butch Trucks, Derek Trucks, Josh Turner, Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio (The 4 Seasons), Dionne Warwick, Roger Waters, Bobby Whitlock, Whodini, Chuck Wicks, Otis Williams (The Temptations), Ann and Nancy Wilson (Heart), BrianWilson, BeBeWinans, Zac Brown Band, Andy Grammer, Amy Grant, CeeLo Green, Gyptian, Warren Haynes, Don Henley, Hootie and The Blowfish, Mallary Hope, Bruce Hornsby, Mick Hucknall (Simply Red), The J.Geils Band, Jaimoe, The Jazz Crusaders, Billy Joel, John Paul Jones, Mick Jones (Foreigner), Journey, Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill (Simple Minds), KISS, Jana Kramer, Ludacris, Maroon 5, Nick Mason, Duff McKagan, Megadeth, Janelle Monae, Alissa Moreno, Jason Mraz, Nas, Graham Nash, Ne-Yo, Stevie Nicks, Night Ranger, Ted Nugent, Owl City, Christina Perri, Katy Perry, Pink Floyd, Robert Plant, John Pointer, The Pointer Sisters, Primus, Marc Quinones, Joel Rafael, Trisha Yearwood, Bonnie Raitt.”
There’s no denying Pandora’s growth over the past year alone, as the open letter points out. However, Pandora (along with Clear Channel Communications and other streaming services) believe it to be unfair that they have to pay more for the rights to music as they gain customers. “This bipartisan bill will end royalty rate discrimination against internet radio and bring greater fairness to our industry. Today, the discrimination is extraordinary. In 2011, Pandora paid over 50% of revenues in performance royalties, while SiriusXM paid less than 10%,” Pandora claimed on their website.
This comes during a time when artists and labels have been battling it out over digital royalties, while music industry groups recently came to an agreement over a new royalty deal regarding digital and cellular services. We’ll just have to wait and see how far the debate amongst musicians and streaming services like Pandora will go.
[via Digital Music News and Reuters]
While much of America has gotten on board with Spotify since they launched in a year ago (especially since their integration with Facebook), there have been some notable holdouts from the service. While it’s mainly been established bands (Tool, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, The Beatles) or acts waiting to put their newer full length albums up (The Black Keys, Adele, Coldplay), Century Media, Metal Blade, Sumerian and Prosthetic made headlines last year by pulling their entire catalogues from Spotify. Now it looks like Century Media is back.
We got a press release earlier today stating that Century Media, as well as InsideOut Music, Superball Music and People Like You Records, have put their music back on Spotify. The press release says that feedback from fans and continued discussions with Spotify led to the label to reverse their decision. So basically, it wasn’t just a combination of fans and blogs like ours bitching that led to the reversal – it looks like they might have negotiated a better payment rate. But given how they freaked out earlier in the year when their distributor accidentally put a few releases on Spotify, something’s definitely led to their change of heart.
“Spotify offers great tools to discover new artists, CM’s European GM Antje Lange stated. “We feel that this is essential for our promising newcomers. In that respect, Spotify gives those artists a very good forum.”
“We respect that music fans wanted to have instant access to our catalog via Spotify,” states CM North America president Don Robertson added. “But we also have to consider the rights of our artists. After practicing some due diligence, we’re moving ahead confident that both the artist and the fan are being fairly served by this developing platform.”
Century Media says they’ll continue to “evaluate Spotify as a music discovery tool and welcome the fan’s opportunity to preview a release in its entirety before deciding to buy a copy.”It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. The last sentence sounds like somewhat of a veiled threat that they could just as easily pull their titles again. But considering that people that want to illegally download music will continue to do it anyway, labels are leaving money on the table by pulling out of Spotify. Granted, that money pales in comparison to an actual album purchase, but it adds up.
So now that 2012 is more than half over, the folks at Billboard have crunched some numbers for record sales for the first half of the year. And while last year at this time showed album sales increasing for the first time since 2004, it’s back to business as usual this year. Album sales for the first six months of 2012 are down 3.2% as compared to last year. In fact, there’s only one album that’s sold more than one million copies so far this year – Adele’s 21, of course. For those of you keeping track, this is the first time that there’s only one album that’s sold 1 million copies through the first six months of the year since SoundScan began tracking sales data 21 years ago. While 11 albums have sold at least 500,000 copies, that’s five less than this time last year.
Worse yet, there aren’t even any rock albums in the top ten, although Gotye, Bruce Springsteen, The Black Keys and Coldplay finished in the top 20. If there’s any silver lining, it’s that digital track sales are up 6%, with 698.02 million sold in the first half of 2012, as compared to 660.80 million in 2011. And two songs, Gotye’s ubiquitous “Somebody That I Used to Know” and fun.’s equally inescapable “We Are Young,” both sold over 5 million in six months. This is the first time any song has sold over 5 million in the first six months of a calendar year.
Just a few weeks ago, an unnamed independent label stated that they weren’t making much money at all from streaming services like Spotify. However, an article that ran in the New York Times alleges that royalties from Internet radio stations like Pandora as well as SiriusXM are starting to increase. SoundExchange, a non-profit group that process payments for online streams, announced yesterday that they paid more than $100 million in payments to artists and labels in the most recent quarter. In all of last year, they’d only paid out $292 million. This quarter brings them to the $1 billion mark for what they’ve paid artists and record labels since their founding in 2000.
“The way the industry is going, it is about multiple revenue streams, not just one,” SoundExchange president Michael Huppe told the Times. The article looks at indie label Jagjaguwar, Bon Iver’s label, whose founder says that they’ve made $95,000 since 2007 from SoundExchange. That’s not a ton of money for a label, but it’s more than what they’d be making without anyone tracking digital sales. It’s also worth noting that it’s the only way that labels and performers are getting paid for airplay, since terrestrial radio only pays songwriters and publishers in the United States.
Digital radio royalties still have a ways to go before they catch up, however. Songwriting licensers ASCAP and BMI paid out $1.64 billion in 2010, which is a fraction of the $292 million that SoundExchange paid. Yet as the music landscape continues to change, it’s encouraging to see that streaming and Internet radio revenues are possibly starting to fall in line and give artists another stream of revenue.
So it’s pretty widely known by now that when you sell a single on iTunes, the label winds up with about 70% of the 99 cent or $1.29 price, while Apple gets the remainder. Of course by the time the label and producer take their cut, the artist gets about $0.084 cents. It’s also pretty widely known that streaming services are being touted as the wave of the future, as they actually do pay artists, even if they’re listening to the music and not buying it. But while streaming services are better from an artist and label standpoint than pirating music, labels aren’t exactly raking it in, either.
Digital Music News points to a month-old post on a blog called The Trichordist in which an unnamed independent label disclosed their finances from July 2011-December 2011, and it looks pretty bleak. This is from the label’s perspective, so with the iTunes ratio, know that the label is assuming an approximate 70% payout. These figures are from a catalog of 87 albums consisting of 1,280 songs, and is before the distributer’s fee.
$0.028 per song
25:1 Itunes Song Download
$0.016 per song
43:1 Itunes Song Download
$0.013 per song
53:1 Itunes Song Download
$0.005 per song
140:1 Itunes Song Download
A $5862.61 payout for six months of streaming 78 albums? That’s pretty paltry. That being said, there are a few things that are a little biased about this story. First of all, it’s understandable why a label might want to remain anonymous, but “a source” makes this impossible to quantify, even though the math seems to add up. Spotify looks like the bad guy because they’re paying the lowest. However, it’s mostly a free service, unlike some of the others. And the artists are also getting by far the most amount of spins through Spotify, as it’s the most popular service. If any of those almost 800,000 spins led to someone purchasing the music, that’s a win.
And on that subject, comparing streams to someone actively purchasing your music is apples and oranges (pun somewhat intended). But it certainly wouldn’t hurt if labels and artists could negotiate with the streaming services to get a higher royalty rate. And it shows that while some income is better than none, nobody’s getting rich from streaming music yet.