5 Stories That Will Shape The Music Industry In 2014
By Alex May (@AlexmDrums)
Ranging from music royalties gaining press attention to Billboard’s including YouTube video views and online music stream in chart rankings, 2013 provided several great topics to have a discussion about. Here is summary of the best parts.
1. Music Royalties Become Mainstream Topic
2013 saw streaming services, particularly Spotify, make headlines concerning the royalties that are given back to featured artists. This rise in publicity is due to several artists expressing concern over the payouts they received from Spotify.
“When someone who is particularly famous opts to pick a fight, then everybody loves that. I think the media particularly loves negative things happening, because they’re more interesting and more dramatic. So particularly when artists come out and deliver quite blunt words around what they're earning back from certain services, it’s inevitably going to get some attention.”
While several major artists gained media attention when calling out the streaming service for it’s minimal payouts, their claims are not always entirely accurate.
“David Byrne’s claims around the revenue on Spotify were just factually quite wide of the mark. That kind of thing bothersme a bit, because it perpetuates bad wisdom.
I get it a lot where even when you’re working with bands — artists I’m involved with — you talk to them about this subject, and what they tell you is what they read from people like David Byrne because he gets all the press.
The rebuttal that a significantly less famous but very intelligent industry person might make doesn’t get any of the attention. People don’t want to read that, they want to read David Byrne being angry about something.”
2. Streaming Services Fail to Reach Mainstream
Although streaming music services had increased media coverage in 2013, we have started to wonder if streaming has reached a market saturation point.
“A) Are we going to hit a saturation point next year? and B) Are any of these services going to crack the mainstream?
“It’s the one thing I think the entire streaming services market has got to unite on is pushing the method of consumption via streaming services as being a mainstream proposition. It looks like they’re all planning their moves to knock out the other competition.”
Hemmings believes the greatest challenge for Spotitfy will be moving away from music fanatics and trying to capture the interest of casual music listeners.
“The irony of Spotify is that they need more people using it who don’t like music anywhere near as much. For the model to work, they need a lot of people paying, but only streaming it a little bit. Then there’s more money to break up among all of those streams as they pay out to people. But that’s a kind of weird thing right? They’ve got to win over super casual music consumers. Right here and now, I struggle with that, because super casual music consumers are probably quite happy with radio.”
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3. Pandora Pisses Off Tons of Artists
Internet radio favorite Pandora spent time last year looking for alternatives for their business model. In supporting the Internet Radio Fairness Act, Pandora aimed to have internet radio treated more like satellite and terrestrial radio, which are required to pay less to rights holders. The company fought hard in it’s attempt to get the legislation passed, but may have given off a different message to artists.
“They have been quite aggressive in the way that they’ve been approaching this, which certainly hasn’t endeared them from the artist side… I just think the biggest problem with Pandora is the way in which they’ve gone about trying to address this felt very – not underhanded maybe — but it felt very strong armed.”
“I just worry with Pandora — that the way they carried themselves has pissed off the rights holders so much — that they are less likely than ever to want to find a compromise on this and help them fix that problem with their business.”
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4. EDM Festivals Rise in Popularity
Last year saw a rapid increase in popularity of EDM. No longer limited to clubs and festivals, EDM has extended its reach across the market, being heard at sports events, on the radio, and as the background music in shopping centers. We explored the social characteristics that the music promotes.
“I think at some point [EDM's] got to cave, but weirdly, I don’t feel like I’m seeing any sign of it yet… I still wonder if half of it is like a weird boast factor. People go so they can say that it was Tiesto soundtracking their night out.
“EDM is definitely about the communal experience of being with those other fans and getting to celebrate and party in the context of a music environment where it is surrounding them, but not necessarily forcing them to pay attention to it. That is such a distinct and curious trend. I wonder if it will continue in the coming years.”
5. Viral Videos Influence Music Charts
Finally, we take a look at the viral nature of music videos. 2013 saw several videos go viral, ranging from Baauer’s Harlem Shake to Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball. The large amount of views these videos obtained convinced Billboard to take video views into account when determining their top music charts. Darren Hemmings wonders what this means for music, and how it will impact future marketing.
“You’re now in a point — and a really weird tipping point — where you could introduce a race to the bottom by basically having a musical train wreck for a video that starts representing a double whim. When Miley Cyrus did that whole Wrecking Ball clip, it went hyper viral because everyone that loved it was going: 'Oh my God, you’ve got to see this!' And everyone, like me, who just couldn’t believe what they were seeing, were showing it going: 'Have you seen this?!?' It won both ways.”
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