Van Dyke Parks on How Songwriters Are Getting Screwed in the Digital Age | The Daily Beast

Forty years ago, co-writing a song with Ringo Starr would have provided me a house and a pool. Now, estimating 100,000 plays on Spotify, we guessed we’d split about $80. When I got home, on closer study, I found out we were way too optimistic. Spotify (on par with other streamers) pays only .00065 cents per play.

There’s less support for all the arts today, and the blade gets duller with every cut in arts funding. It degrades dance, opera, even academia and, significantly, the art of journalism. As a result, in the U.S., public opinion suffers from what we call “infotainment.” That’s a genre of media news that is not informing, entertaining, or remedial. And it’s a direct result of a vacuum of patronage (and by patronage, I don’t mean just Medici-style sponsorship but the willingness of all arts consumers to pay for what they listen to, read, and watch, and for the industry to fairly recompense creators).

READ THE FULL STORY AT THE DAILY BEAST:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/04/van-dyke-parks-on-how-songwriters-are-getting-screwed-in-the-digital-age.html

David Pakman is Wrong on The Price Of Music (and streaming subscriptions)

Is there anyone left in the record business with common sense and a calculator?

David Pakman wrote an interesting piece asserting the problem with streaming services getting up to scale is a matter of pricing. He puts forth that $10 a month, or $120 per year is too much. He claims that the ability of these services to scale should be more in line with a monthly fee of $3-$4, or $36 – $48 a year to appeal to a broader base of the “average” music consumer. We think there are some serious flaws with this line of thinking not the least of which is that we can’t get the math to scale at $10 a month per user!

The first and most important error is that an “average” music consumer does not exist. Sure, you can average the total spending by the estimated number of consumers to find an average per consumer but no “average” consumer actually exists. Some spend many times the average, some spend far below it.

Pakman makes the assumption that music subscription services are over priced citing that the “average” consumer is only willing to spend $64 a year on music.  This completely ignores that the majority of highly active music consumers that have historically purchased much more than the average.

Those working in music distribution have always know that the most active consumers, contribute the greatest percentage of revenue to the total. In traditional terms this would be an expression of the classic 80/20 model where the top 20% of consumers represent 80% of the revenue. Conversely 80% of consumers only account for 20% of the revenue overall. This is of course an over simplification but it illustrates the point being made.

Here’s some simple math. Apple’s iTunes boasted 200 million users in 2011. Using Pakman’s own estimates at $64 per “average” consumer, the store should have generated a cool $12.8 billion in revenue. As we all know that’s not true, it quickly illustrates the problem with Parkman’s methodology of the “average music consumer.” Of course Itunes is not the only music retail outlet, and surely not all of those Itunes users were strictly music consumers. Again this is the problem with attempting to define an “average” music consumer to broader market economics.

Pakman also doesn’t fully account for the fact that while music prices dropped nearly in half from $19.98 compact discs to $9.99 downloads the volume of sales continued to decline. This is a decline that began with the introduction of Napster and has spread through the expansion of ubiquitous illegal file sharing networks such as the now defunct Kazaa, Grokster and Limewire.

The single greatest factor effecting both the price of music and the volume of sales, was and remains the illegally free supply of the exact same product available to consumers without risk, investment or consequence by those distributing it for profit without paying for the cost of goods.

But Pakman may have stumbled upon some other points of interest in his observation. First, is that the music business needs to learn how to window releases and build a transactional streaming model as the film business employs. We detailed this in our post “Spotify is not Netflix, but maybe it should be.” Second, there should tiered access on streaming services. A basic $4 a month subscription gets you the hits, say the top 200 current singles and the top 200 catalog albums. For $9 a month you get the hits plus all music more than a year old. For $20 a month you get everything available.

The narrow band thinking of music industry business people is stunning when we don’t need to look any farther than the film and tv industry to see a robust variety of different streaming products for different consumers needs and demands. The film and tv industry successfully window releases and have different pricing tiers based on access and there’s really no reason why these models would not, and can not translate to the record industry.

 

Amazon’s Streaming Contract Is “Entirely Unacceptable” | Digital Music News

Amazon is trying to bypass US Copyright law and define its own royalty rates

Section 115 of the US Copyright Act is the rate, set by the government, that defines the mechanical royalty rates. Most people know that the statutory mechanical royalty rate is currently 9.1 cents per download or physical “phonorecord” under 5 minutes (and then 1.75 cents per minute thereafter), but few know what the rate is per stream. That’s because the streaming rate is based upon the streaming service’s number of subscribers and users. More subscribers to the service equals higher mechanical royalty rates.

For the record, Spotify, Beats and the other streaming services all follow Section 115 of the US Copyright Act and follow the defined mechanical royalty rates.

READ THE FULL POST AT DIGITAL MUSIC NEWS:
http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2014/04/10/amazons-streaming-contract-entirely-unacceptable

@bettemidler : @Spotify and @Pandora have made it impossible for songwriters to earn a living: three months streaming on Pandora, 4,175,149 plays=$114.11.

The truth is self evident.

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https://twitter.com/BetteMidler/status/452200886970769408

One Band Have Worked Out a Way to Cheat Spotify out of Money| Noisey.Vice

We just can’t get enough of this story. There’s a great interview with the band at the link below.

Spotify is a great way for most musicians to make money. By most musicians, I mean a superstar economy of 1% who account for 77% of all artist revenue from streaming. And by “money” I mean the $0.007 per stream that most artists receive.

READ THE FULL STORY AT VICE:
http://noisey.vice.com/blog/one-band-have-worked-out-a-way-to-cheat-spotify-out-of-money

London Police Attempt to cut off illegal websites’ advertising revenue | BBC

What we find so interesting about this is that the digital music services that report to be friends of musicians are not taking a strong public position against Ad funded Piracy and supporting these measures.

Spotify, Pandora and the like are affected by the downward economic pressure created by Ad Funded Piracy that diminishes both the amount consumers are willing to spend on subscription fees and the amount that can be charged for legitimate advertising on legitimate services.

Why aren’t Spotify and Pandora more publicly engaged in the fight against Ad Funded Piracy as it certainly is a large contributing factor as to why these businesses remain unprofitable.

Websites offering illegal copyrighted material could see their advertising revenue cut under a new initiative.

Police have created an online database of websites “verified” as being illegal.

It is hoped that firms that handle advertising will use the resource to make sure they do not serve advertising on those sites, cutting off revenue.

Top piracy sites generate millions of pounds thanks to advertising.

One estimate, from the Digital Citizens Alliance – a group backed by rights holders – suggested that piracy websites worldwide generated $227m (£137m) from advertising revenue each year.

Even smaller sites commanded revenues into the hundreds of thousands, the group said.

READ THE FULL STORY AT THE BBC:
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26788800

Nobody should be surprised that Spotify is already planning its IPO| Musically

Watch stories about Spotify planning a stock market flotation this Autumn spread across the web in the coming hours, triggered by a report on tech/business site Quartz.

“The popular music-streaming company has participated in informal chats with some of the investment banks likely to fight for a role in a potential IPO, sources familiar with the process said,” claims the article.

“The six-year-old service may start holding formal meetings as early as next month in anticipation of an offering in autumn. (Though the timeline for a possible IPO could change for a number of reasons, including unfavorable market conditions.)”

READ THE FULL POST AT MUSICALLY:
http://musically.com/2014/03/27/spotify-ipo-planning/

RELATED:

Music Streaming Math, Can It All Add Up?

#SXSW REWIND : Venture Capitalist Admits Artists Can Not Make A Living On Streaming Royalties

Why Spotify is NOT the Enemy of Artists, and Who Is…

The Black Keys: Still Boycotting Spotify After All These Years…| DMN

The Black Keys are a huge band.

Huge bands lose a lot of money on Spotify.

Which is why, once again, the Black Keys are withholding their latest album release from Spotify.

READ THE COMPLETE POST AT DIGITAL MUSIC NEWS:
http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2014/03/24/blackkeysspotify

The Internet Empowered Artist? What 1 Million Streams Means To You! #sxsw

Is this the future of music? We continue to explore artist revenue streams.

Here’s what 1 million streams looks like from different revenue perspectives on the two largest and mainstream streaming services.

Service  Units Per Unit  Total  Notes 
Spotify 1,000,000 $0.00521 $5,210.00 Gross Payable to Master Rights Holder Only
Spotify same million units as above $0.00052 $521.00 Gross Payable to Songwriter/s & Publisher/s (est)
YouTube 1,000,000 $0.00175 $1,750.00 Gross Payable for All Rights Video, Master & Publishing
YouTube CMS Master Recording (Audiam / AdRev) 1,000,000 $0.00032 $321.00 Gross Payable to Master Rights Holder Only
STREAMING TOTALS  3,000,000 $7,802.00 TOTAL REVENUE EARNED FOR 3 MILLION PLAYS ON SPOTIFY AND YOUTUBE 
Itunes Album Downloads 1,125 $7.00000 $7,875.00 Gross payable including Publishing

Here are some compelling stats on the break down of what percentage of videos on YouTube actually achieve breaking the 1 million play threshold, only 0.33%

CHART OF THE DAY: Half Of YouTube Videos Get Fewer Than 500 Views | Business Insider

Some 53% of YouTube’s videos have fewer than 500 views, says TubeMogul. About 30% have less than 100 views. Meanwhile, just 0.33% have more than 1 million views.

That’s not a huge surprise. But it highlights some of the struggles Google could have selling ads around all those unpopular videos, despite the money it has to spend to store them.

An artist needs to generate THREE MILLION PLAYS on the two largest and most popular streaming platforms to equal just 1,125 album downloads from Itunes. This is an important metric to put in context. In 2013 only 4.8% of new album releases sold 2,000 units or more. So if only 4.8% of artists can sell 2,000 units or more, how many artists can realistically generate over four million streams from the same album of material?

in 2013 there were 66,565 new releases, only 3,237 sold more than 2,000 units = 4.8% of new releases sold over 2,000 units

in 2013 there were 915,482 total releases in print, only 14,856 sold more than 2,000 units = 1.6% of ALL RELEASES in print sold more than 2,000 units.

This is even more important when you start to consider that many artists feel that growing a fan base of just 10,000 fans is enough to sustain a professional career. Note we said solo artists because these economics probably need to be multiplied by each band member added for the revenue distribution to remain sustainable. So a band of four people probably need a sales base of 40,000 fans to sustain a professional career for each member of the band.

Each 10,000 albums sold on iTunes (or 100,000 song downloads) generates $70,000 in revenue for the solo artist or band. To achieve the same revenue per 10,000 fans in streams, the band has to generate 30 million streaming plays (as detailed above) if they are distributing their music across the most common streaming services including Spotify and YouTube.

In 2013 the top 1% of new releases (which happen to be those 620 titles selling 20k units or more) totaled over 77% of the new release market share leaving the remaining 99% of new releases to divide up the remaining 23% of sales.

This appears to confirm our suspicion that the internet has not created a new middle class of empowered, independent and DIY artists but sadly has sentenced them to be hobbyists and non-professionals.

Meanwhile the major artists with substantial label backing dominate greater market share as they are the few who can sustain the attrition of a marketplace where illegally free and consequence free access to music remains the primary source of consumption.

What’s worse is that it is Silicon Valley corporate interests and Fortune 500 companies that are exploiting artists and musicians worse than labels ever did. New boss, worse than the old boss, indeed.

So whose feeling empowered?

RELATED:

If the Internet is working for Musicians, Why aren’t more Musicians Working Professionally?

Artists, Know Thy Enemy – Who’s Ripping You Off and How…

Over 50 Major Brands Funding Music Piracy, It’s Big Business!