Spotify Per Play Rates Continue to Drop (.00408) … More Free Users = Less Money Per Stream #gettherateright

Down, down, down it goes, where it stops nobody knows… The monthly average rate per play on Spotify is currently .00408 for master rights holders.

PerStreamAvg_Jun11_July15

48 Months of Spotify Streaming Rates from Jun 2011 thru May 2015 on an indie label catalog of over 1,500 songs with over 10m plays.

Spotify rates per spin appear to have peaked and are now on a steady decline over time.

Per stream rates are dropping because the amount of revenue is not keeping pace with the  number of streams. There are several possible causes:

1) Advertising rates are falling as more “supply” (the number of streams) come on line and the market saturates.

2) The proportion of  lower paying “free streams”  is growing faster than the proportion of higher paying “paid streams.”

3) All of the above.

This confirms our long held suspicion that as a flat price “freemium” subscription service  scales the price per stream will drop.  As the service reaches “scale” the pool of streaming revenue becomes a fixed amount.  The pie can’t get any larger and adding more streams only cuts the pie into smaller pieces!

The data above is aggregated. In all cases the total amount of revenue is divided by the total number of the streams per service  (ex: $4,080 / 1,000,000 = .00408 per stream). Multiple tiers and pricing structures are all summed together and divided to create an averaged, single rate per play.

Did Google & YouTube just Scam The Entire Record Business into Free Streaming Licenses? MusicKey is MIA…

Remember all the controversy over YouTube’s ad-free streaming subscriber service, MusicKey? If the words “Google” and “Ad-Free” sound like a complete contradiction, you are not alone.

MusicKey_AdFree

Ok, so where is it? We tried to sign up, but we’ll be notified later when the service is available.

whenMusicKey

Remember how one of the requirements was ALL OF YOUR MUSIC also had to be licensed for FREE STREAMING on YouTube or your promotional videos would be blocked or banned from the site?

Did you forget? No worries, here is the recap from Zoe Keating’s blog that brought the issue to light.

1) All of my catalog must be included in both the free and premium music service. Even if I don’t deliver all my music, because I’m a music partner, anything that a 3rd party uploads with my info in the description will be automatically included in the music service too.

2) All songs will be set to “montetize”, meaning there will be ads on them.

3) I will be required to release new music on Youtube at the same time I release it anywhere else. So no more releasing to my core fans first on Bandcamp and then on iTunes.

4) All my catalog must be uploaded at high resolution, according to Google’s standard which is currently 320 kbps.

5) The contract lasts for 5 years.

So, “All songs will be set to “montetize”, meaning there will be ads on them.” That’s one hell of a trade-off to get some subscription money, but maybe it won’t be so bad once that MusicKey money starts rolling in right? YouTube and Google have a HUGE amount of users to convert to PAYING SUBSCRIBERS, right?

Hahahahahahahahahaa. You fell for that gag? Seriously? Here’s what YouTube says about that little side business of PAID SUBSCRIBERS…in an interview between YouTube Senior Exec Robert Kyncl and Music Ally: YouTube Music Key delay ‘nothing too serious’ says senior exec.

“We’ll always have ad-supported: that’s our core, and we’ll never stop focusing on it.  It’s in Google’s DNA to be in the ad-supported business.

Subscription is just an add-on. It’s an adjacent business that we’re building.”

Suckas… You seriously thought Google who has slathered the internet with advertising on “User Pirated Content” across multiple platforms was going to pivot to a paid subscription model to move away from advertising on it’s flagship video streaming site? Really? Seriously?

You saw that five year term, right? So MusicKey is a no show for subscriber revenue but thanks to that five year term the largest streaming service in the world, that pays the least amount per stream now has licenses for the next half decade. As the kids say, LOL.

Don’t worry about MusicKey not showing up anytime soon with that Paid Subscriber Money, in the meantime enjoy your life’s work as a YouTube auto-generated music video and playlist, for free.

Oh MusicKey we would have loved to have known you – now all we have is our catalogs of master recordings being monetized on old-school YouTube for pennies on the dollar of every other streaming service including Spotify. Wow, just wow.

And Speaking of Spotify, guess who has a seat on the board to make sure that their “ad-supported DNA” remains the primary focus of that music streaming service? Three guesses… Yup, it’s Google.

Here’s a trip down MusicKey memory lane…

April 2014 : Exclusive: ‘YouTube Music’ Is Launching This Summer… | Digital Music News

June 2014 : Artists who don’t sign with YouTube’s new subscription service to be blocked [Updated] | Ars Technica

June 2014 : F*&K It: Here’s the Entire YouTube Contract for Indies…| Digital Music News

November 2014: YouTube’s MusicKey Will Cause $2.3 Billion In Music Industry Losses… | Digital Music News

January 2015 : YouTube Is Removing Any Artist That Refuses to License Its Subscription Service…| Ars Technica

April 2015 : If You Don’t Agree to YouTube’s New Ad-Free Terms, Your Videos Will Disappear…|Digital Music News

June 2015 : YouTube Music Key delay ‘nothing too serious’ says senior exec | Music Ally

Exhausting… Why would anyone trust these people? All hail “User Pirated Content“… and if that doesn’t work just come up with a non-existent paid subscriber streaming service that auto-generates music videos and playlists on the free, ad-supported platform. At least that part is working, right?

Let’s talk about transparency for a second. Why is it that YouTube would be excluded from Google’s own DMCA tracking report? It couldn’t be because DMCA notices and takedowns of infringing material YouTube dwarf even the most notorious of pirates sites say like The Pirate Bay? No, that wouldn’t be the reason would it?

553k_InfringingBusinessesMaybe #adbusters and #blackspot really do have it right…

Music Artists Take On the Business, Calling for Change | New York Times

The New York Times quotes representatives of the artists rights movement including Blake Morgan of the #irespectmusic campaign, Melvin Gibbs of C3Action.Org (Content Creators Coalition), David Lowery of the Trichordist as well as musicians Zoe Keating, David Byrne and others.

“None of these companies that are supposedly in the music business are actually in the music business,” Mr. Gibbs said. “They are in the data-aggregation business. They’re in the ad-selling business. The value of music means nothing to them.”

READ MORE AT THE NEW YORK TIMES:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/01/business/media/music-artists-take-on-the-business-calling-for-change.html

“User Pirated Content” Is Core Internet Advertising Model (Which is Why Streaming Rates Can’t Increase Until Piracy is Decreased)

Google’s YouTube is a business built on infringement as a model. So called “User Generated Content” is really just code for what the majority of the high value media on YouTube really is, “User PIRATED Content“.

In other words there’s nothing internet advertising loves more than illegally monetizing the work of professional creators, and thus driving down the true fair market rates for those works (keep this in mind when thinking about Spotify and streaming services!).

Below are excerpts from emails discovered during the Viacom Vs. YouTube lawsuit and published  by DailyFinance:

• A July 29 email conversation about competing video sites laid out the importance to YouTube of continuing to use the copyrighted material. “Steal it!” Chen said , and got a reply from Hurley, “hmmm, steal the movies?” Chen’s answer: “we have to keep in mind that we need to attract traffic. how much traffic will we get from personal videos? remember, the only reason our traffic surged was due to a video of this type.”

And this is not the only smoking gun, here’s a quote from DailyTech regarding Google’s Ad Sales and the site EasyDownloadCenter: 

In fact, Google’s ad teams even made suggestions designed to optimize conversion rates by using keywords targeted to pirated content – such as suggesting downloading films still in theatrical release, that obviously were not available yet in any authorized format for home viewing.

According to PCWorld this added up to some decent money…

EasyDownloadCenter.com and TheDownloadPlace.com generated US$1.1 million in revenue between 2003 and 2005, and Google received $809,000 for advertising, the Journal reported.

Both YouTube and Google Search function similarly by monetizing infringing “User Pirated Content” with advertising. On YouTube users upload infringing music and videos of all varieties which attract the consumers to the globally dominant and monopolistic video streaming site.

Remember the email above where the YouTube founders admit “how much traffic will we get from personal videos? remember, the only reason our traffic surged was due to a video of this type”. And by “this type” they mean professionally produced and created media by artists, musicians, filmmakers and other creative professionals that are of high value in attracting an audience – an audience that can then be monetized with advertising.

Google Search operates in very similar way (no coincidence) by monetizing (mostly with advertising) millions infringing URLs on sites primarily dedicated to distribution of copyrighted works via p2p networks and bittorrent.

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

LouReedCHEVY

But don’t take our word for it, here’s a report from DigiDay (owned by The Economist):

According to AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley, it’s an easy problem to fix, but ad companies are attracted by the revenue torrent sites can generate for them. Kelley said his company refuses to serve ads to torrent sites and other sites facilitating the distribution of pirated content. It’s easy to do technically, he said, but others refuse to do it.

“We want everyone to technically stop their customers from advertising on these sites, but there’s a financial incentive to keep doing so,” he said. “Companies that aren’t taking a stand against this are making a lot of money.”

What about the removing infringing material with a DMCA notice you ask? Well, we’re glad you did… here’s how it “works”…


DMCA “Takedown” Notices: Why “Takedown” Should Become “Take Down and Stay Down” and Why It’s Good for Everyone | Nova Edu


 

Safe Harbor Not Loophole: Five Things We Could Do Right Now to Make the DMCA Notice and Takedown Work Better


 

Why Digital Exec’s ARPU is Bad Math and also Bad Philosophy for Artists.

ARPU. Do you know what that is? It’s Average Revenue Per User. Not withstanding the insulting connotation of referring to fans as “users” this is just bad on a number of different levels.

Leaked Sony emails suggest that digital music executives confuse per-capita with ARPU. One of the items we’ve found cruising wikileaks has digital music execs explaining the digital landscape ARPU as follows:

$120 Streaming Subscription

$68 Downloads

$3 Ad-Supported Streaming

We’ll get into the fallacy of the $68 Downloads vs the $120 Streaming Subscriptions in a minute. But first, let’s just look at the fact the industry digital execs actually clocked ad-supported ARPU at $3 per user per year and did it anyway! Seriously? Really? Who thinks going from $68 to $3 is a good idea and then doubles down on trying to get sell in on it? Wow, just wow.

Ok, now back the $68 Downloads ARPU. The question that never seems to be qualified in these ARPU valuations is how many users exactly contribute to the revenue pool to end at up an average of $68 per user? The next question would be how many of those “average” users are paying significantly more than $68? Hell, how many are paying significantly more than $120 per year?

In a basic 80/20 model we would expect that 80% of the revenue would come from 20% of the consumers (er, um… “users”). This means the most valued “users” are now being artificially flattened DOWN to $120 per year.

Streaming Subscription fees as a representative of ARPU doesn’t work, because there are only TWO numbers that can be worked into the average, $120 and zero. So now you have the problem of trying to raise the causal user up to $120 per year while you’ve flattened down your best costumer (er, user). This is the crazy rational behind dropping streaming subscriptions down below $120… But wait… wouldn’t that just also artificially flatten the overall market even lower than the $120 ARPU? Yeah… you bet it would.

It’s truly astounding the lack of ability to use calculators and do simple math. We’ve pointed this out again and again. Even at 90 Million Paid Subscribers at $120 per year, that only generates $7.5b in industry revenue. Ninety Million Paying Subscribers. Just keep saying that over and over until it sinks in.

Subscriptions artificially flatten the market and require extremely high (and largely unrealistic) subscriber numbers because the actual number of “users” consuming music is probably at least double 90 million in the USA. That’s where an ARPU of $68 starts to make sense, somewhere around 110-155 million consumers, but most likely even higher. So, here’s the rub – who really believes that Spotify (or all subscriptions streaming services combined) are going to convert 10s of millions of casual consumers/users into $120 per year ARPU’s? They’re not and that’s why this model is screwed.

ARPUisBAD

For streaming to truly mature the industry needs to embrace tier based, value pricing, so that a truly dynamic and flexible ARPU can be restored. The one size fits all Streaming Subscription ARPU is a lie, and the math shows us why.

 

 

Spotify is the Problem, Not Labels. (Well, Mostly…)

There is a narrative that keeps getting repeated by Spotify apologists and propagandists. It goes something like this, “The problem is not that Spotify pays too little to artists it’s that record labels are not paying the artists their fair share of royalties from Spotify.” Ha! When the gross payable is half a cent or less we think this has a lot more to do with Spotify than labels.

But this idea that labels are the problem pretty much means that Spotify ignores or otherwise feels that any artist not signed to a major label is unimportant in this conversation and that’s too bad.

We don’t know how many artists and small DIY indie labels aggregate to Spotify via Tunecore and CDBaby for example but we suspect it’s literally THOUSANDS of artists that are not signed to major labels (or ANY label). These are artists who are collecting either 100% of their Spotify royalties directly (Tunecore) or collecting those royalties after a 9% dist fee (CDBaby).

When Spotify shifts the blame for low royalties they are ignoring and invalidating all of the artists not signed to major labels, or any label. There are no industry middlemen taking Zoe Keating’s royalties from Spotify. The per stream rate is just incredibly, horribly bad. 

There are high profile artists such as Zoe Keating and others who echo the sentiments of artists across all strata’s of the business. The economics of Spotify are just unsustainable from the top down at present rates.

Everyone knows that record labels advance massive amounts of money to develop the careers of those artists signed. These advances are recouped from monies earned in royalties. One can argue about the recoupment mechanics but it doesn’t change the fact that with so little money being generated by Spotify the problem is much greater then the labels.

It’s also interesting that in all the talk of democratization and empowering musicians how little of it appears to be actually happening.

99.9% of Tunecore Artists Make Less Than Minimum Wage…

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

We’ve detailed numerous times how at the top end of the food chain, the Spotify math just doesn’t work and would require more subscribers paying $9.99 a month then any other mature premium subscriber business has achieved to date.

Here’s some context for the chart above. Netflix only has 36m subscribers in the US, no free tier, and massive limitations on available titles of both catalog and new releases. Sirius XM, 26.3m in the US as a non-interactive curated service installed in homes, cars and accessible online. Premium Cable has 56m subscribers in the US paying much more than $10 a month and also with many limitations. Spotify… 3m paid subscribers in the US after four years. Tell us again about this strategy of “waiting for scale.” Three Million Paid… Three…

* 3m Spotify Subs Screen Shot
* 26.3m Sirius XM Subs Screen Shot
* 36m Netflix Subs Screen Shot
* 56m Premium Cable Subs Screen Shot
* $7b Music Business Screen Shot

And, just so everyone is clear, we’re not giving the labels a free pass either. But Spotify’s divisive punt to blame the labels for their own bad business model isn’t fair. We’ve reported on the 18% equity stake the labels took as part of their licensing agreements. That’s an 18% equity stake that we’re pretty sure the artists won’t participate in at the time of an IPO or sale (should there be one).

The larger issue in this conversation however is that if Spotify and on demand streaming services can not generate the same or more revenue then transactional sales, then the model is a net negative for artists.  This has nothing to do with labels and everything to do with a flawed business model. Removing the free Ad-Supported tier after a limited time is probably the first, best and most obvious immediate solution but not the only one that should be addressed.

Spotify can not hide behind their bad math by shifting blame to labels when so many artists are getting their royalties from Spotify directly without labels.

 


 

Spotify Must “Adapt Or Die” : Pricing For Sustainability

 

Five Important Questions For Spotify from Artists and Managers

 

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

 

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

Dead Kennedys’ East Bay Ray: The ‘Free Internet’ Will Not Set You Free | NY Observer

These Internet theorists also invariably fail to distinguish between the profound moral difference between sharing something with a friend and distributing, without permission, other people’s files for profit. It’s a crucial distinction.

One of the reasons that this distinction is not brought up is because the Internet corporations don’t want you to see much discussion about the enormous riches being made on the Internet from both the consensual and nonconsensual selling of your information to advertisers, as if it didn’t matter. The advertising system has money and money is power. Ask yourself: Are you gaining real power over your destiny from the Internet, or just stuff?


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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grooveshark “Offline by Christmas”… | Digital Music News

Infringement should not be a business model.

On September 29th, the United States District Court in Manhattan found Grooveshark guilty of massive copyright infringement, and specifically named CEO Sam Tarantino and CTO Josh Greenberg as bad actors. Now, the curtains are starting to drop: just days after that decision was rendered, federal judge Thomas Griesa issued another decision that removed all doubt that the plaintiffs — a total of 9 recording labels — had triumphed in the case.

READ THE FULL POST AT DIGITAL MUSIC NEWS:
http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2014/11/21/grooveshark-offline-christmas