Welcome to the first installment of the Musonomics Monday Reading List!
Every Monday we’ll post a list of the previous week’s best reads. Amongst our curated list of the best music industry writing, you might find an explainer on the latest music industry merger, or a Q&A with an artist or an industry player of note — or maybe just a terrific essay penned by a music legend.
No matter what, our picks will always shed light on some unseen part of the industry, bring clarity to a hot-button issue, or provide a new perspective on an old problem.
Check out this week’s Monday Reading List after the jump:
Taylor Swift is more powerful than we could have imagined.
Sunday, Swift penned an open letter to Apple, condemning the Cupertino company’s decision not to pay artists royalties for music streamed during Apple Music’s 3-month free trial. She ended the letter with a firm charge for Apple’s decision-makers: “Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”
Apple’s announcement of Apple Music, as anticipated, sent tremors of excitement, curiosity, and fear across the music industry. With the service set to launch in just 11 days, the lines of support and discontent are being drawn in predictable places.
I’m sure you’ve heard the news. A few days ago at WWDC in San Francisco, Apple finally announced a streaming service that might actually be a competitor. After years of research, posturing, acquisitions, and rumors, the Cupertino tech leader will launch Apple Music.
Tech website The Verge last week leaked a 41-page licensing agreement from 2011 between Sony and Spotify that shed light on some of the ways that Sony keeps their Spotify revenue growing, and some of their strategies have been met with a less-than-cordial reception by a number of artists and the International Music Managers Forum. But that was just the start to what’s turning out to be a bad week for the the second-largest record company in the world. Continue reading “SoundCloud Strategy & Leaked Licensing Contract is a PR Problem for Sony, Spotify”→
Yesterday Pandora announced the acquisition of Next Big Sound (NBS), a company that specializes in monitoring the popularity of music on social media and the internet at large. It’s a big move for Pandora, as they follow suit with Apple and Spotify, who both acquired similar companies last year.
For anyone watching the music analytics space and here at Musonomics, this is a big deal. What does this mean for Pandora? Data, and improved music recommendations for Pandora’s 79 million users. Information is invaluable to streaming services and what started as a side project for founder Alex White and his partners while they were at Northwestern has quickly turned into one of the industry leaders in music analytics. More important is what it might mean for NBS’s many clients throughout the music industry. Although a Pandora representative said that there would be “no immediate changes” in how NBS works with its existing clients, after Spotify acquired the Echo Nest last year, Rdio and many other EchoNest clients who compete with Spotify immediately dropped the Echo Nest from their roster of data providers.
The biggest surprise of all is who the buyer wasn’t — Nielsen, a company that has enjoyed a virtual monopoly on US music sales data since its acquisition of SoundScan, and has been growing its arsenal of complementary data services on music sales and downloads, radio listening and music broadcast on radio.
In his New York Times story on the acquisition of NBS, Ben Sisario mentioned Pandora’s frosty relationship with the music industry over the rates it pays for music. It is unclear how NBS will help on that front. But it won’t hurt.
Grooveshark, the Florida-based illegal music streaming site, was officially shuttered in April following a lengthy litigation process resulting in a federal court ruling against them for massive, willful copyright infringement. As part of their settlement with the major labels, Grooveshark agreed to cease operations, wipe clean all of the record companies’ copyrighted works, and hand over ownership of the Grooveshark.com domain, mobile app and intellectual property, including all patents and copyrights. It was a terminal blow for Grooveshark.com, but since that site came down a number of clones have popped up across the web
Here at Musonomics, we usually stick to the business side of music, but we decided to take a break today to give tribute to one of music’s most soulful souls. Pioneering blues musician and Mississippi native B.B. King passed away Thursday night in his home in Las Vegas. He will be sorely missed.
Spotify is one of the biggest names in streaming, but that doesn’t mean it’s profitable. In fact, it could be a while before that happens. In a new article on the fantastic MusicBusinessWorldwide.com (MBW), Tim Ingram lays out three ways that Spotify can make that transition into profitability; pay less in royalties, watch the pennies very closely, and/or make the free-tier pay. All of those are, of course, tougher than they sound.
A new Morgan Stanley assessment of Pandora paints a bleak picture of the company’s future. By 2017, rising royalty costs and plummeting stock prices could force Pandora to seek “up to $350 million” in financing. Pandora might never become profitable, let alone make it to 2021.
What could that mean for other streaming platforms? Interestingly, Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swineburn posits that a Pandora disappearance could signal an uptick in paid streaming subscribers:
“…if not for Pandora, some material percentage of its 80 million active listeners would pay $10 per month for subscription services…”