The closing of the year has seen interesting announcements from Spotify and ByteDance as well as some exciting new features for indie artists on less prominent platforms. Here’s the lowdown on the most important industry news stories from the past month that you should be aware of.
1. Spotify Reveals More Information About Its Paid Promotion Tool But It’s Not Good News For Indie Labels/Artists
In October we brought you the news that Spotify is offering a cost per click ad product to major and independent record labels for the first time. The ad product they’re offering is a “Brand New Music For You” visual pop-up alert, something which previously existed organically, notifying users when their favorite artists have released new singles/albums. More details have come to light this month about the product but it’s very disappointing from an indie label/artist perspective. The service, called Marquee, is going to cost 55 cents every time a user clicks on the release announcement, and Spotify is recommending a $5000 minimum buy-in. This means that for $5000, potentially 9000 people will stream your new track or album. If we use the latest Spotify payment rate of $0.0036 per stream this means that the $5000 spent will only bring returns of $32.40. If all of those users were to stream an entire 10 track album then you would be looking at a return of $324, nowhere near the $5000 spent on the campaign.
Why This Matters
Following this announcement a couple of months ago there was a real sense of optimism with Spotify finally opening up its two-sided marketplace, especially when you link this to Co-Founder Daniel Ek’s vision for one million artists to live off their music on the platform. With thoughts turning to all the exciting new opportunities and ways that artists could spend and market their music directly on Spotify, instead, we’re now looking at what is essentially feeding into payola, where the major labels, which have the most money and the most frequent releases, get the most plays. It’s disappointing to see Spotify pricing out indie labels/artists at this time and one wonders when/if this will change or will Spotify continue to price them out with future marketing tools as it looks to increase its bottom line. With Spotify CFO Barry McCarthy announcing the company’s intention to increase its advertising revenue from 10% of overall sales to 20%, it is not encouraging news in the short term.
2. Free Social Music Discovery App LÜM Set To Launch Virtual Gifting System
LÜM (Live Undiscovered Music) is an exciting and unique streaming platform that champions independent artists. LÜM's goal is to decrease the disparity between mainstream and undiscovered music by combining the best elements from streaming and social media. Since launching in July over 30,000 artists, including some from the BrandMan Network, have uploaded tracks to the app, which is currently only available in the US. From this month the platform’s new virtual gifting system will allow artists to grow and monetize their fan base. The system will allow users to earn and buy “Notes,” LÜM’s in-app currency. Users can then use these “Notes” to support their favorite artists, earning rewards and achievements along the way.
Why This Matters
If you’re an artist based in the US reading this now you should definitely check out and put your music on LÜM. What separates this streaming app from the rest is that it is exclusively for emerging music, meaning that you won’t be drowned out by the corporate noise and you will be able to reach out directly to your fans on the platform. Given that the platform offers unlimited free uploading it has also proven to be a great space to drop demos and beats to measure the potential success of a track. The new virtual currency which is rolling out in Beta this month is a great opportunity to start earning some extra income from super fans which you could attract on the platform. Definitely jump on this app while it is relatively new with fewer artists to compete against for attention. Early adopters are certainly seeing the benefits, especially given that all users can enjoy unlimited ad-free streaming and now the chance to earn directly on the platform is a massive plus.
3. ByteDance Announces Launch Of Its New Streaming Platform, Resso
TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has gone public with its announcement regarding its highly anticipated music streaming app. Named Resso, the app is being trialed in India and Indonesia and has been downloaded 27,000 times across iOS and Android so far. ByteDance has focused on these emerging territories with the hope of becoming the market leader given that the likes of Spotify and Apple Music have failed to make a significant impression thus far. Currently in Beta, Resso features two tiers, an ad-supported free version, and Premium.
Why This Matters
We finally have more information on Bytedance’s long-awaited music streaming platform and its focus on social features promises to effectively differentiate itself from its rivals. Resso grants users the ability to share and comment on tracks and also embraces some of TikTok’s most popular features allowing users to generate music-accompanied GIFs and videos. While it is unclear when Resso will launch in the US and Europe, ByteDance is currently negotiating global licenses with Universal Music, Sony Music, and Warner Music and if all goes to plan it could well be within the next six to nine months. If Resso proves to be just half as popular than TikTok then it’s swiftly going to become the biggest music streaming platform in the world...
4. Canva To Launch Free To Use Video Editing Software
Popular graphic design platform Canva has announced a range of new products that will launch this year including Canva Video, which promises to be as powerful and user-friendly as the platform’s photo editing software. The tool will be free to use and will enable users to create slick-looking videos including graphical elements like text overlays without contending with the more difficult interfaces of more pro-oriented products. It will also offer a content library including thousands of free stock videos, hundreds of free music tracks and thousands of free animated stickers, as well as templates and a library of professional animations.
Why This Matters
If you’re looking for a very cheap and easy to use alternative to Adobe Premiere and iMovie to edit your videos for social media then look no further than Canva. Canva is building out its platform to be an all-inclusive graphic design solution for smaller marketing teams wanting to keep everything in-house, something which is important as an indie artist when time and money are at a premium. The software allows you to edit on your computer or on the go on your phone and offers preset templates if you’re creating a video specifically for Facebook or for your Instagram Story. It’s also very easy to drag and drop your music into the video as shown in this announcement video. It is unclear how many of the features you will be able to utilize in the free version but you can pay for Canva Pro for $9.95 a month, a good price considering you get the equivalent to Adobe Photoshop, Premiere, InDesign and more, all in one for a fraction of the cost.
5. *REMINDER*: You Need To Change The Settings On Your YouTube Channel Immediately
As we informed you in last month’s newsletter here’s a reminder that YouTube is updating its terms of service and you need to make some changes to your Channel settings now. Failure to act and comply with these changes could result in your content and channel being deleted and you could receive a fine of $42,530 per video! Here’s why: The platform has gotten itself into hot water with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on a number of occasions in recent years, with a major one centering around violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The Act states that no digital platform can collect data on anybody under the age of 13 and YouTube was fined a serious amount of money for breaching this back in 2017. Now as a result, with the FTC set to seriously clamp down on this issue and go after specific channels from January next year, YouTube is changing its terms of service to shift the responsibility onto you to deem whether or not your content is suitable for children. I’ll explain what you need to do to avoid this below.
Why This Matters
These changes affect all users regardless of whether you make content for kids or not. By failing to act and not changing your channel settings you are effectively saying that your videos are appropriate for and made for kids. So if your videos include inappropriate language then you’re going to be hit with a hefty fine.
Here’s what you need to do. It only takes 1 minute to change your settings: First go to your YouTube Creator Studio and click settings. Then click channel, followed by advanced settings. Underneath where it asks: “Do you want to set your channel as made for kids?”, select “No, set this channel as not made for kids.” This method will apply this across your entire channel but you can also adjust this setting for individual videos if you wish.
WARNING: Don’t select the option “Yes, set this channel as made for kids.” just because you want an increased audience reach. If you do select it you will instantly lose access to comments, a selection of adverts, info cards, end screens, stories, the ability to save videos for later, notification bells and playlists. This is due to the fact that these are all classified by the FTC as forms of collecting data. Make these changes asap.