Spotify Desperately Doubles Down on Dumb Bad Math… Free Doesn’t Pay, It’s Just Math.

Bring out your shills… It’s no surprise that Spotify has once again enlisted it’s shills and PR machinery to defend it’s exploitation of artists, bad business model, and horrible royalties. The latest offensive comes as the major labels have announced that the unlimited free tier is not working for them (go figure, free doesn’t pay?).

Last year we wondered out loud, Who will be the First Fired Label Execs over Spotify Fiasco & Cannibalization? In February of this year we found out when Rob Wells exited his post at UMG. Around the same time public comments were made by Lucian Grainge for the need to get more paid subscription revenue. He also noted that the free tiers are not creating the type of performance required for a sustainable ecosystem of recorded music sales. Sony music chief Doug Morris has also come to the party stating, “In general, free is death.

Generally speaking we’re not often fans of major labels (remember they have 18% equity in Spotify) but we’re glad they’ve gotten out the calculators. Right now, the three major labels are currently reviewing their licenses with Spotify which are up for renewal this year. This is the time for the major labels to renegotiate those licenses to be more fair for artists.

We’ve detailed the math here, Music Streaming Math Can It All Add Up? In that post we look at the numbers based only upon paying subscribers. The bottom line is that even at the current rate of $9.99 (per month, per subscriber) it’s going to take a lot more paying subscribers to even get close to the type of revenue earned from transactional sales. Free, ad supported revenue, not even close.

Here’s a couple more things to keep in mind that we’ve detailed:

* Spotify Per Stream Rates Drop as Service Adds More Users…

– and –

* USA Spotify Streaming Rates Reveal 58% of Streams Are Free, Pays Only 16% Of Revenue

But perhaps the worst part of Spotify was outlined by Sharky Laguna’s editorial, “The Real Reason Why The Spotify Model Is Broken.” The well written piece details how the artist you play, may not be the artist who get’s paid due to the fixed revenue pool and market share distribution of revenues.

Now keep in mind we’re not anti-streaming. We completely believe that streaming is the future of music distribution and delivery. None of our arguments here are anti-streaming or anti-technology.

Our arguments are anti-exploitation and anti-bad business models. Technology and economics are different issues. We detailed our thoughts for moving forward with potential solutions in our post Streaming Is The Future, Spotify Is Not, Let’s Talk Solutions. We look at five practices that can make streaming music economics viable for all stakeholders and generate the revenue required for a sustainable ecosystem.

When a Spotify rep says, “We think the model works” keep this in mind as we review the Spotify Time Machine…

* 2010 A Brief History Of Spotify, “How Much Do Artists Make?” @SXSW #SXSW

Back in 2010 during Daniel Ek’s Keynote Speech an audience member who identified themselves as an independent musician asked how much activity it would take on Spotify to earn just one US Dollar. The 27 year old wunderkind and CEO of the company was stumped for an answer… Five years later we have a pretty good idea why.

– and –

* 2012 A Brief History Of Spotify, “It Increases Itunes Sales”… @SXSW #SXSW

Ek strenuously denied that his streaming service cannibalises sales of music through services such as Apple’s iTunes.

“There’s not a shred of data to suggest that. In fact, all the information available points to streaming services helping to drive sales,” he said.

Of course, that was until this past year when Itunes sales are reported to have declined by 13-14% and that is pretty much directly attributed to the cannibalization done by Spotify. Hello…

It is said that one of the definitions of insanity is to keep doing the same thing while expecting different results. Our suggestion to the those in positions of power is simply this, if  you want something different, you have to be willing to do something different.

Sure, Spotify was a grand experiment but after half a decade we now have the data to know if that experiment is working out (or not). In the end, it’s just math and free doesn’t pay…

 


 

Streaming Is the Future, Spotify Is Not. Let’s talk Solutions.

 

Spotify Per Stream Rates Drop as Service Adds More Users…

 

USA Spotify Streaming Rates Reveal 58% of Streams Are Free, Pays Only 16% Of Revenue

2012 A Brief History Of Spotify, “It Increases Itunes Sales”… @SXSW #SXSW

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before… Spotify doesn’t cannibalize Itunes sales it actually increases them… Uh huh. That was the rap they wanted us to believe. Smart and cautious artists and labels seem to have been right by avoiding Spotify.

In 2014 Itunes sales are reported to have declined by 12-14% and that is pretty much directly attributed to the cannibalization done by Spotify.

So here’s what they said in 2012…


Spotify Plays Can Increase iTunes Sales. Here’s Proof! | TechCrunch

… there’s no evidence of Spotify or other streaming services negatively impacting music sales. More data like this could encourage artists and labels to promote their streaming music presences, and push acts like The Black Keys and Paul McCartney who’ve pulled their catalogues from Spotify to come back.


Spotify launches new apps, as Universal again defends the service| CMU

Paul Smernicki did some more defending at a Guardian conference. According to Music Ally, Smernick told the conference: “We’ve looked really really hard for evidence of cannibalisation, almost unobjectively. Across the business, we’ve been unable to find that evidence. And in [European] markets where Spotify has launched, the growth in the digital business has been about 40%, in territories where it doesn’t it’s around 10%. There’s a healthy ecosystem and it can be served by many of those services”.


Spotify chief: streaming services boost music sales | The Telegraph UK

Speaking to digital music site Evolver.fm in a pre-Grammys interview, Ek strenuously denied that his streaming service cannibalises sales of music through services such as Apple’s iTunes.

“There’s not a shred of data to suggest that. In fact, all the information available points to streaming services helping to drive sales,” he said.


Does Streaming Cannibalize Albums? | Billboard

Wilson points out that the number of digital downloads has increased-up 15% for albums and 6% for tracks in the first 46 weeks of 2012, according to SoundScan-suggesting that the widespread availability of free on-demand streaming hasn’t led to a sales apocalypse.

Rhapsody chief executive Jon Irwin says, “The only thing streaming music cannibalizes is piracy.”


So there you have it.  Three years later and meanwhile back on earth the actual effects of Spotify on the transactional sales of recorded music have been a disaster. Which is why there are major changes happening at the major labels as Spotify licenses come up for renewal.

2010 A Brief History Of Spotify, “How Much Do Artists Make?” @SXSW #SXSW (Shill By Shill West)

SXSW Rewind… Back in 2010 during Daniel Ek’s Keynote Speech an audience member who identified themselves as an  independent musician asked how much activity it would take on Spotify to earn just one US Dollar. The 27 year old wunderkind and CEO of the company was stumped for an answer… Five years later we have a pretty good idea why.

2010… #SXSW Rewind…


Live Blog: Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Says Music Service Now Has 320,000 Paid Subscribers | TechCrunch

Q: How many plays equals one dollar?
A: Depends on the type on contract with the publisher/record labels. We share the rev we bring in. You can’t really equate to ‘per play’ we look at all our ad rev. Creates a bucket. For instance how do you account for a purchase of a song. There is no easy answer to your question. Over time our ad revs are growing, number of downloads growing. Amount of rev we bring in is growing.


Will Spotify Be Fair to Artists? | Technology Review

I couldn’t help noticing, however, Ek’s artful dodge to the question of how artists are paid by his service. The subject was broached by an audience member, who identified himself as an independent musician and thanked Ek profusely for the great application. He wanted to know how much he would be paid.

“It’s complicated,” was, in essence, Ek’s reply. But he did reveal that it’s a revenue sharing model; artists get paid a proportion of whatever Spotify gets paid, presumably based on the number of plays on the site they receive.

Ek’s reply was disappointing because this is the million dollar question for many music sites.


Dodgy from the start. What do you expect from one of the co-founders of U-Torrent… Economics only a pirate could understand?

 

A Tale of Two Pirates? Daniel Ek (uTorrent) and Kim Dotcom (Megaupload)

 

USA Spotify Streaming Rates Reveal 58% of Streams Are Free, Pays Only 16% Of Revenue

 

How to Fix Music Streaming in One Word, “Windows”… two more “Pay Gates”…

If Streaming is the “Solution” to Piracy, What Happens When Piracy is Streaming? Rot Oh… #sxsw

A big talking point of streaming, particularly of the Spotify variety has been that streaming is a solution to piracy, and that “access over ownership” models are the future.

Well… ok… but that assumes that piracy (of the corporately sanctioned, ad funded variety) remains a download business, while consumers migrate to the easier more accessible (free tiered, ad funded) music streaming models.

We’re told that the ad-supported free tier is the only way to attract consumers from piracy to legality. To be clear we’re not opposed to free trial periods. Free trials of 30 days, maybe even 60 days should give the consumer the ability to fully experience the value a streaming service offers. We just don’t see how the economics of ad-supported free streaming can create a sustainable revenue model for musicians and songwriters.

But here’s the bigger question. What happens when the pirates migrate to streaming over storing? Now we’re back to square one. A decade ago iTunes and later Amazon provided an legal solution to piracy that was superior in every way except one, price.

Why would anyone think that streaming would combat piracy any better than transactional downloads? Well, for the same reason piracy is, was and remains the primary source of music consumption, price. So the conversation and controversy over streaming is not one about the method of distribution, or technology. The conversation is the same as it has been for a over a decade, price.

Essentially Spotify appears to be designed to model ad-funded piracy whereby the company who can capture the largest market share would have ability to legally devalue music by delivering it to consumers for free. This math just doesn’t work. We can’t even see where the math on paid subscriptions will ever get to scale or revenue at a price point of $9.99 a month per subscriber.

So the inevitable question becomes if streaming is the solution to piracy, what happens when piracy is streaming? There are already multiple applications that are available or in development that reportedly enable users to stream music directly from BitTorrent as opposed to the need to download files to a local hard drive.

So explain to us again exactly how streaming is a solution to essentially the same service? Oh, they both need to compete on the same price point, which is free. Well, guess what, ad-supported free distribution of music is not sustainable.

YouTube is the largest free ad-supported free streaming distribution platform and it can not create the type of revenue required for the sustainability of the recorded music business. If we believe what they say, YouTube isn’t even a profitable business for Google!

So here’s the bottom line. Spotify, YouTube, Pandora and other ad-supported free streaming services are a side show to take the conversation away from the core problem, piracy. Internet piracy is big business and these side shows distract the conversation away from the fundamental truth of our economic reality… Free doesn’t pay. It’s just common sense and it’s just math…

 

Spotify Doesn’t Kill Music Sales like Smoking Doesn’t Cause Cancer…

 

BUT SPOTIFY IS PAYING 70% OF GROSS TO ARTISTS, ISN’T THAT FAIR? NO, AND HERE’S WHY…

 

Apple Announces Itunes One Dollar Albums and Ten Cent Song Downloads | Sillycon Daily News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Much For Spotify in Sweden, Overall Sales Drop… and Norway Too…Streaming Kills…

Remember how we’ve been told for years that Spotify is the solution to the record industry’s problems? Remember how we’ve been told that Spotify is the solution to piracy? Remember the stories of how “sales are growing” in Sweden and Norway?

Well guess what? According to Digital Music News (reported by IFPI) overall sales in Sweden and Norway are actually down for 2014.

Overall. Down.

Hmmmm… Click the links below…

After Years of Recovery, Music Sales Are Now Declining In Sweden… | Digital Music News

Streaming Killed Piracy In Norway. It Also Killed Recording Sales… | Digital Music News

We’ve said it before, and we’re willing (and happy to be wrong) that streaming economics, specifically of the Spotify variety are unsustainable. That doesn’t mean the economics can’t be changed, or that streaming doesn’t work and can not work – it just means that the predictions about growing revenue via Spotify are wrong.

We’ve questioned the philosophy and math behind streaming for a while now and it appears some of our criticisms and concerns are coming true. For example we noted that the Spotify per stream rates are dropping as more users are added to the service.

If overall revenue continue to decline, especially in the most promoted and championed markets in the world, what does that say for the rest of the world?

We previously reported that the per stream rates are dropping as the service add more users (graph below). This new data suggests that not only is the per stream rate dropping, but in two the leading countries in the world overall revenues are also down.

It’s just math.

SpotifyNetMONTHLY_Charted

 

Artist Rights Leaders: Taylor Swift

0202

 

After the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, we thought we should start recognizing and praising those who stand up for artist rights.  We will also identify those who oppose artist rights and tell you why we think they are villains.  Not all of these people will be famous and you may not recognize some of their names, but that’s kind of the point.  We also want to emphasize that we’re not comparing anyone to anyone else, we’re just appreciating people for what they do and who they are–on both sides.

When we look back on the last year, there’s probably no one who did more for artist rights than Taylor Swift.  She really did not need to take on these issues, she could easily have sat back and let the money roll in.

And yet she did.  She put her career on the line and challenged the definitive “new boss” digital business–Spotify.  She challenged them in a very straightforward way by simply saying no.  Taylor had a lot to lose, and she went above and beyond to stand up to the “new boss.”

Spotify’s Daniel Ek revealed himself and did his best to play the “Lars card”–he talked down to her and attacked her.  Not as badly as the calculated and well-financed humiliation of Metallica by Napster’s litigation PR team, but a strain of it.  Can you imagine Steve Jobs doing that?  No way.  But that’s OK, we finally got the evidence on who this guy Ek really is and what his company really stands for.  Same old same old.

Taylor also showed that you don’t need YouTube, either–and she turned her team loose to present herself on YouTube the way she wanted, not the way YouTube wanted to force her to be presented.

She challenged The Man 2.0 by simply being who she was and exercising her rights as an artist–the very rights that the “new boss” constantly tries to take away from us.  It’s really simple:  The new boss needs hits, and hits don’t need the new boss.

And Taylor Swift showed us that artists can be strong and classy and successful, all at the same time.  She reminded us that it’s OK to take care of our business the way each of us want.  And she said it in the Wall Street Journal!

Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.

 

Spotify Must “Adapt Or Die” : Pricing For Sustainability

The single biggest problem with Spotify (and other services like it) is that they have completely removed the relationship between the artists and the fan. The labels have leveraged their catalogs as an asset in exchange for equity shares in a tech start up that is subsidized by the artists. And to be clear, that is equity that the labels are not “sharing” with the artists who are making the equity possible. We’re not even sure how this could be legal, but we’ll leave that to the lawyers to figure out.

The second problem is that the money the consumer pays, does not pay the artists the consumer is supporting. The model for Spotify and others is to divide the total pool of revenue by the total number of streams and pay out the revenue on a per stream basis. But that is not the same as a directing each consumers payments only to the artists that consumer is streaming.

So in two very important ways the relationship between the fan and the artist has been broken by completely disconnecting compensation from consumption.

There’s a very simple fix, per stream retail pricing. We are NOT supporting the notion that 150 streams should equal one song download. However for the purposes of this writing that’s where we’re going to start. We feel that Billboard has grossly undervalued the cost of a stream, but we’ll get to that later.

We’re starting with this metric specifically in the context of the new Billboard “consumption” chart whereby every 150 streams = 1 song. At retail, that means each stream is worth $.00666 (we still love the irony there).

$.00666 x 150 = $.99

Here’s what the breakdown looks like PER STREAM:

$.00666 Gross Retail (Paid by Consumer to Spotify)

$.00666 x .70 = $.00467 Paid to Artist/Rights Holder (70% of Gross)

$.00666 x .10 = $.000666 Paid to Songwriters / Publishers from 70% Above

So let’s recap… in context of 150 streams to ONE SONG:

$.00666 x 150 = $.99 (One Song)

$.00467  x 150 = $.70 (70% of Gross) To Artist/Label

$.000666 x 150 = $.09 (Full Stat Mechanical, One Song) To Songwriter/Publisher

$.70 – $.09 = $.61 Net to Artist/Label

These are the exact same mechanics paid on a single song download.

Another way to express this would be to say that the consumer spending $10 a month on Spotify can play 1,500 streams. Every stream the consumer plays then pays out 70% of gross, just like iTunes. In other words, every 150 streams equals the same economics as ONE Itunes Song Download in the distribution of revenue.

A consumer pays $10 for every 1,500 streams they consume at $.00666 retail pricing. If they consume more, they pay more. If they consume, less they pay less.  Compensation is now directly reconnected to consumption!

Simple. Easy. Fair.

We can argue about what the price of a stream should be, but reconnecting the artist fan relationship through compensation for consumption is essential.

Steve Jobs was a genius. He reversed engineered the margins and mechanics of physical retail distribution for Itunes. Jobs made it easy for labels to make sense of digital revenues, accounting, operations and royalties reporting. There is no logical reason why streaming services can not operate the same way.

There is also no logical reason why per stream retail pricing can not exist. That is unless of course the goal is to NOT have a simple, easy and fair ecosystem that is sustainable and supports artists.

We tend to think that the retail price per stream should probably more like two to five cents per stream (maybe more), as we’ve heard Beats may be paying. Whatever the retail price per stream to consumers there should be flexibility in the model for variable pricing bu artists and labels.  Variable pricing exists in digital stores such as iTunes as it also does in physical distribution.

Retail per stream pricing restores the relationship between the fan and the artist whereby compensation is directly connected to consumption. This model works and does not change the margins paid by Spotify (and others). The streaming service still retain 30% of the gross revenue, except now we have the opportunity of moving closer to a fair cost of goods.

No Music = No Business.

Add to the above experiments with new release windowing, value propositions based on bundled tiers, etc, and we can start to see a smart and sustainable streaming business emerging for all stakeholders.

Spotify can chose to “adapt or die.” It’s just math.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotify Top 10 Territories : Global Revenue Marketshare & Streaming Percentages

The Top 10 territories account for 87.10% of all streams and 91.48% of all revenue. So all revenue outside of the Top 10 is less than 9% of global revenues. So if you’re streaming your music outside of the Top 10 territories, you are more or less giving your music away.

SpotifyGLOBALMarketshareRevStreams

Here’s the summed, net averaged per play rate for the top ten territories.

SpotifyT10CountriesStreamingRates

Below the top ten territories are isolated (and the market share recalculated).

The data would seem to suggest that savvy artists and labels avoid the territories where the number of streams far exceeds the percentage of revenue (the red boxes).

SpotifyNOFLYTerritories

Data set provided by US based indie label with 800 songs. Data is summed from sales and reports dated Sept 2011 – Aug 2014. This is what Spotify really looks like to most artists and indie labels.

Kim Dotcom declares he is ‘broke’ because of legal fight | BBC

Kim Dotcom, the founder of the seized file-sharing site Megaupload, has declared himself “broke”.

The entrepreneur said he had spent $10m (£6.4m) on legal costs since being arrested in New Zealand in 2012 and accused of internet piracy.

Mr Dotcom had employed a local law firm to fight the US’s attempt to extradite him, but his defence team stepped down a fortnight ago without explaining why.

READ THE FULL STORY AT THE BBC:
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30209067

RELATED:

A Tale of Two Pirates? Daniel Ek (uTorrent) and Kim Dotcom (Megaupload)

Anil Prasad VS Spotify : Public Debate Challenge ( @innerviews vs. @eldsjal / @spotify )

via Facebook:

Anil Prasad
Yesterday at 11:22am
I just challenged Daniel Ek and Team Spotify on Twitter to debate me in a public forum on their policies. Let’s see what comes of it. The truth is, probably nothing, because I am incapable of being bought and sold by any industry association. However, I’m making the attempt. Someone should bluntly ask the hard questions without handlers, message massaging or publicists. If you want a chance of this happening send him a tweet yourself at: @eldsjal (Daniel Ek)

AnilVsEkTweets

Anil Prasad @ Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/innerviews/posts/10152912535628594

Anil Prasad @ Twitter:
https://twitter.com/Innerviews
@Innerviews