September Music Industry News For Indies
September has provided us with some exciting developments and new features including a new streaming platform, a fairer alternative for royalty payouts and new ways to promote your music. Here’s the lowdown on five important industry news stories from the past month that you should be aware of.
1. Deezer Poised To Adopt New Payment System For Artists To Be Paid Fairly
This month Deezer formally announced that it is backing a user-centric approach to digital royalties by launching a consumer-facing website explaining the new payment system and why it’s fairer for all artists and fans. To summarize, currently, market share impacts how much artists and content creators get paid. The payment model looks like this:
With Deezer’s proposed User-Centric Payment System (UCPS), the money you pay as a subscriber only goes to the artists you love and listen to. This payment model looks like this:
Why This Matters
As you can see UCPS is a far-fairer royalties payment system and it would be a massive game-changer for independent artists, particularly as this system will promote a diverse and vibrant music landscape as well as support local creators and niche genres. Another important thing to mention is that it would stop royalties from getting paid out to fake artists. While this all sounds amazing the big question is how likely is this transition to happen. Deezer is seeking to persuade labels and distributors where it has a large market share and a significant influence in its home country France to switch to this model in 2020. While the independent labels are onboard the majors haven’t been so forthcoming to accept these proposals and would need to in order for this change to come into effect. You won’t be surprised to hear that their reasons for hesitation over this transition are financially related. Their digital deals could no longer include per-play minimum guarantees and bigger artists would be set to lose money where independents gain given that a significant amount of streams of chart music come from casual, low-frequency listeners. It will certainly be intriguing to watch this story develop, particularly if the labels in France choose to support the deal. This could act as a trial that other countries, labels and streaming platforms will watch with interest and if it goes well it could well act as a domino effect with UCPS becoming the industry standard payment system for digital streams a few years from now. Let’s hope so!
2. DIY Radio App Stationhead Allows Users To Generate Spotify/Apple Music Streams For Their Music
Since launching last November Stationhead has become a powerful app, allowing anyone to have their own radio station and create and connect over interactive audio content with live talk, guest callers and messaging. Most notably, users can play any music they want while broadcasting live by using their Spotify and/or Apple Music accounts and as of this month users broadcasts are now available to be recorded, downloaded and listened to on-demand. Stationhead’s technology and licensing partnerships with the two streaming platform giants allow audiences to listen to the music played during your live/on-demand broadcast via their own personal Spotify or Apple Music account.
Why This Matters
This DIY radio app provides a fun and creative way to share your music and the music you love with your fans as well as the rest of the world, all the while generating streams and royalties. For example, if 500 people tune-in to listen to your radio show live and you play one of your own tracks, this will count as 500 streams simultaneously on Spotify or Apple Music. Taking this further, if some of your fans, let’s say 200, miss the live show but listen back on-demand that’s another 200 additional streams for your song plus any other original tracks you play from artists you love and want to support will also benefit, gaining all those streams too. In the first year, artists have seen a 100% increase in streams through Stationhead and it’s a fun and arguably more lucrative alternative for you as an artist as opposed to releasing your own podcast. Now with the added on-demand functions, you could even download the audio from your show and re-purpose/re-release it as your own podcast (provided you remove any music you don’t own/have permission for that is). It is apparent that there are so many opportunities to utilize this app to engage with your current fans and attract new ones and it will certainly pay to be an early adopter.
3. Blockchain Streaming Platform Audius Launches In Public Beta
Audius has been dubbed as a direct rival to SoundCloud, with a mission to break down barriers and make sharing and interacting with music seamless between all community members, allowing anyone to become an artist. The most interesting feature which separates Audius from SoundCloud and YouTube is that the platform operates with an anti-takedowns policy. Artists will be notified if their track is found to be in breach of copyright through a Content-ID-style system but copyright owners will earn royalties from user-uploaded tracks as opposed to them being taken down. This is due to the fact that Audius is a decentralized service and will pay out royalties in “Loud” tokens via the creator revenue sharing system, the organization’s form of cryptocurrency. Audius has been endorsed by major electronic artists including deadmau5, Zeds Dead and Graves, all of which sit on the platform’s advisory board.
Why This Matters
A streaming platform without gatekeepers sounds highly appealing, particularly for DJ’s and artists who like to perform covers. Audius is showing early signs of being a fruitful space to upload your music to capitalize as an early adopter, particularly given the fact you have complete creative freedom and control of your content, listener data, and relationship with your fans. However, with a combined monthly listenership of artists at 10 million and an anti-takedown policy, Audius is certainly going to ruffle a few feathers in the industry now it’s in open Beta. This policy and their blockchain royalties could certainly become very messy, particularly for songs with multiple publishers and unknown revenue share split sheets, not to mention the possible frequent emergence of illegal insensitive content that could appear on the platform. That being said, with big backing from musicians and $5.5million in funding, as well as future plans to invest 90% of the organization’s revenue back into artists on the platform, it’s definitely worth uploading your music to Audius.
4. YouTube Music Adds Its Own Algorithm Playlist For Music Discovery
YouTube Music is now offering its own version of Spotify’s highly praised Discover Weekly playlist called Discover Mix. The playlist contains 49 songs, updates every Wednesday and is designed to help users discover new songs and artists based on previous listening habits. This is YouTube Music’s second algorithm-generated playlist following the recent launch of New Release Mix which is similar to Spotify’s Release Radar.
Why This Matters
Algorithm-generated playlists have provided excellent promotion and support for independent artists, most notably on Spotify and this is a welcome addition to a streaming platform that has struggled to attract subscribers. This is another great opportunity for independent artists to get discovered and attract new fans and the initial reaction has been very positive from YouTube Music users. Subscribers have said that of the 49 songs in the playlist, while they had listened to some of the artists before they had not heard these particular songs of their’s and hadn’t liked/disliked any of the tracks in the past across the entire playlist. The playlist reportedly features a wide range of genres, adding to its appeal. It’s early days but this playlist along with Release Mix are very positive additions, keep an eye out on your stats for YouTube Music, you may well see a significant increase in streams in the coming months.
5. Spotify & Pandora Add Music Sharing To More Social Media Platforms
Spotify’s music sharing on Instagram Stories has proven to be a very popular feature and as a result, users can now do the same thing on Facebook stories and on Snapchat. Facebook users simply tap share to Facebook on the Spotify app and can customize their post before sharing the 15-second clip. At the moment only single tracks include a preview, albums and playlists do not at this time. Meanwhile on Snapchat users can create a snap that includes song information and album art and share it with their friends, similar to what Pandora is now offering with music share on Instagram Stories.
Why This Matters
Spotify’s aim with these new social rollouts is specifically to aid musicians, calling these features “a more powerful way to connect with fans”. It’s important to note that it’s available to all users but it’s interesting to see the way these updates have been framed, particularly for Facebook Stories. The music sharing is a great way to push your music out directly to fans as well as general followers, who may be encouraged to check out your music if they hear a 15-second snippet while browsing. The more options you have in your arsenal for marketing and song promotion the better and these features should definitely be embraced and utilized.