October Music Industry News For Indies
October has provided us with some significant announcements including Spotify beginning to open up its long-anticipated two-sided marketplace. Meanwhile, filing for copyright infringement in the US could soon become far more affordable for creators. Here’s the lowdown on the most important industry news stories from the past month that you should be aware of.
1. More Artists Are Now Getting Access to Spotify’s Canvas Video-Looping Feature
An increasing number of artists are now receiving an invitation to participate in the beta program for Canvas, a video-looping tool that allows artists to create/add short looping visuals to their music on Spotify. These visuals are loops that can run from 3-8 seconds in duration that appear in the “Now Playing View” in the mobile app in place of the album artwork. Artists who are in the beta program can create these visuals for their upcoming releases as well as any track from their back catalog. There is also a new feature where artists can access stats in the Spotify For Artists dashboard to see how many listeners have viewed each Canvas.
Why This Matters
Spotify has reported that the Canvas visuals have increased streams by up to 120% and increased track saves by 114%, making them a more prized asset than perhaps many would have thought/expected. These stats and the extended rollout of this beta program highlight the impact that visuals are having on streaming and how high-quality video content can prove to be the making of a song. With this feature, there is also an opportunity to be extremely creative with your storytelling and branding and it makes you wonder what the future holds for the static album artwork. If you haven’t received an invitation yet the good news is that if you have a Spotify For Artists account you can sign-up for the Canvas waitlist here.
2. CASE Act Poised To Make Filing Lawsuits Affordable For Copyright Owners
Passed by a count of 410 to 6 in the US House of Representatives last week, The Copyright Alternative in Small–Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (CASE Act) could soon be passed into law. If passed, the act will make lawsuits a quick and affordable process for all artists, producers, and songwriters as they won’t have to appear in court or need to hire an attorney. Copyright owners could recover up to $30,000 per case but in order to make a claim, you must register your copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office first. The Case Act now goes to the Senate for a final vote where it is expected to pass. At the time of writing (31 October), no date has been set for the vote.
Why This Matters
This Act could bring the power back into your hands if your music has been infringed. Not only will you be able to afford to fight to protect your creation, but you’ll also stand a fair chance of winning. The fact that copyright owners would only earn up to $30,000 in damages per case has probably left you thinking that the CASE Act leaves a lot to be desired and severely undervalues creators’ work. This is a very valid point of view but when you factor in that the average cost of litigating an infringement case in federal court is currently upwards of $200,000 in legal fees, coupled with the fact that you generally only earn between $750-$150,000 per infringement, the prospect of being awarded $15,000-$30,000 in damages with a cap of $5,000 in legal fees suddenly doesn’t seem so bad. It’s worth mentioning that you don’t need to register your work with the Copyright Office to have a copyright but you do need to register in order to file a claim. It costs just $35-$55 if you register before any infringement has occurred but $800+ if you register post-infringement. If this Act passes it’s well worth registering as early as you can if you believe there’s a chance that others may try to infringe your music.
3. Record Labels Can Now Pay Spotify To Promote Their Artists Music Through Pop-Up Alerts
For the first time, Spotify is offering a cost per click ad product to major and independent record labels, marking the launch of their heavily touted two-sided marketplace. 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. Select labels in the US will be participating in the beta testing of this product and will only be able to target users who frequently listen to the particular artists they are trying to promote. The ads will appear on both premium users and free users accounts in the iOS and Android mobile apps but premium users will be able to turn off these alerts in the app’s settings.
Why This Matters
I’m sure many of you run ads on Facebook and Instagram with the aim of directing potential fans to stream your music on Spotify and you will soon have the chance to allocate/spend a budget to advertise directly on the platform. More importantly, this appears to be the first of many forthcoming Spotify paid advertising products as the company looks to monetize the artist/fan relationship significantly moving forward. One would expect that all artists will be able to pay for these ads sometime in early 2020 as this beta testing in the US appears to be merely a formality. The company has clearly been encouraged by the click-through results generated by organically testing these “Brand New Music For You” alerts and it’s certainly going to be interesting to see how much of an impact these ads will have in terms of generating an increased number of streams for artists.
4. Facebook Adds New Features To Its Creator Studio
Facebook has added several features to its Creator Studio which will be highly beneficial when it comes to planning your content as well as analyzing the impact/success of your videos. Users will now be able to access loyalty metrics to highlight returning viewers to your videos and utilize a distribution metric tool that allocates a score to each of your video’s performances based on 1-minute views, average minutes watched and retention. There is also a new native Instagram and IGTV scheduling tool that will allow you to create your caption, add a location, upload a single photo, video or carousel and schedule it for up to six months in advance. You can get started with the Creator Studio here.
Why This Matters
Facebook’s Creator Studio is a powerful tool which has just become invaluable now that they’ve added Instagram scheduling. Granted you can schedule posts through the use of other platforms but these have limited functionality and are not looked upon favorably by Instagram’s algorithm. The tool isn’t all it could be just yet though as you can’t edit posts once they've been scheduled but this feature is expected to be added soon. The loyalty metrics is another exciting addition to the studio as you will be able to identify your core fans that are going to support you and fund your career. Identifying who they are will allow you to reach out to them directly, thank them and engage with them and it also creates the opportunity to start building a community where you can do shout-outs and invite fans to join you on Facebook and Instagram Lives. Your core, die-hard fans are pivotal to the evolution of your music career and this is the perfect way to give something back.
5. Artists Can Now Sell Merch On YouTube Through Merchbar
YouTube has partnered with Merchbar to allow artists to advertise/sell their merch directly on the platform. Artists in the US with an Official Artist Channel and a Merchbar store can sign-up in YouTube Studio and start selling immediately. The merch will be placed below artists’ videos on both mobile and desktop in what is being called a ‘merch shelf’, with fans being able to click through to purchase via Merchbar’s website. Merchbar carries over 1 million items from 35,000 artists, making it one of the largest music merchandise providers in the world. This feature is only rolling out in the US for now but YouTube has plans to expand globally in the near future.
Why This Matters
This announcement bares far more significance in the grander scheme of things for YouTube, more specifically YouTube Music. You may be aware that YouTuber’s can already sell merch on the platform through companies such as Teespring, Fanjoy, and Crowdmade, however, this partnership demonstrates the platform’s focus and commitment to serve its artist community. YouTube is investing a lot of resources into ways it can monetize the artist/fan relationship and this has been illustrated through this partnership, the new YouTube Music algorithm-driven playlists mentioned in last month’s newsletter and Google’s move to replace Google Play with YouTube Music as the default music app pre-installed on new Android phones. It’s encouraging to see the platform’s commitment to helping artists develop and grow at all levels and this is set to continue through more integrations which could include direct in-platform ticket sales and crowdfunding features.
Other Notable News Stories
Music Workflow App Bounce Now Available To All Users
Bounce streamlines file sharing during a record's creation by allowing music creators and their team to organize tracks and metadata, compare different versions, securely share demos and send and receive time-stamped, threaded feedback.
The app is out now on iOS and will be available on Android in early 2020 but not all users need to have the app as you can send any song or playlist to anyone by selecting their name via your phone contacts. When they're ready to join Bounce, the shared song will automatically appear in their account too.
The aim is for artists and labels to use Bounce as a vehicle to showcase multiple versions of a track. They also hope to provide a passive income stream for artists by allowing other artists to legally sample parts of a song and build from them.
Facebook Adds New Live Video Publishing Tools
Facebook Live has added 3 new features: Live Rehearsals, Replay Trimming and Simulcast Live Broadcasting.
Rehearsals enable publishers to broadcast their Live videos to Page admins and editors only for testing before going live.
The Trim feature allows publishers to cut off the beginning and end of their Live broadcasts to get rid of the unneeded bits and get straight to the action.
Triller Set Sights On Overtaking TikTok - Raises $28m In Latest Funding Round
The major labels all now own a minority stake following licensing agreements being renewed.
The platform has reported 500% year-over-year growth and has 13 million monthly active users as well as 60 million total downloads.
Triller helped Tga go 6x Platinum and is credited with helping Lil Nas X launch “Old Town Road”.