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David Goe on music

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What Does the Future of Streaming Music Look Like?

By David Goe
Friday, June 10, 2016


Roy LaManna, the CEO and founder of Vydia.com, a new online platform that helps musicians of all levels create, monetize and distribute their video content.

 

Have music and technology finally figured out how to get along? Possibly.

Access to high quality streaming music services, access to cheaper tech devices such as smartphones and affordable access to high speed internet have all contributed to the rise of streaming music, now the fastest growing revenue source for the music industry.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, 2015 was the first time that streaming music content was the largest revenue source for the recorded music industry.

Comprising nearly 35 percent sales, streaming music through sites such as Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music accounted for more than $2 billion in revenue.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry similarly reported that globally, revenue from streaming music was up 45 percent in 2016.

As the momentum for streaming music grows, it is clear that going forward consumers will have little choice but to get their music digitally from streaming music sites. Musicians also will need to figure out how to maximize their exposure on streaming music sites if they want to be successful.

In April, I wrote about the strengths and weaknesses of various streaming music sites, however the future of streaming music is much more complex than settling on a subscription plan.

Bigger questions still need to be answered. How does technology dictate the way we consume music? Are music downloads now passé? What will the future of streaming music look like for musicians and consumers?

So I reached out to Roy LaManna, the CEO and founder of Vydia.com, a new online platform that helps musicians of all levels create, monetize and distribute their video content.

Vydia currently represents more than 100,000 artists and focuses primarily on promoting video content through popular music discovery sites such as Vimeo, YouTube and Facebook.

LaManna also is the former music video commissioner for Island Def Jam Music Group and over his 15 years in the entertainment industry has worked with performers ranging from Justin Bieber to Ludacris.

To help understand what the future of streaming music will look like both for musicians and consumers, LaManna answered a series of questions.

Goe: As the major streaming sites continue their arms race to lock in exclusive rights to major artist’s catalogs, how will streaming work for the consumer in the next couple years? It looks like consumers may be forced into subscribing to multiple outlets just to listen to music. Is that the best model or are we seeing another example of the music industry failing to take into account the end consumer, again?

LaManna: I think this is an example of the music industry failing to take into account the end user. The reason being is that you’ll find people are going to subscribe to the service they feel has the best user experience and if the content they want is not available, you’re going to find that they’re just going to get it illegally. I don’t think people want to have multiple subscription services.

Goe: How do independent artists fit into the streaming system? If steaming sites are paying on a per stream basis, that model seems to heavily benefit major musicians. Independent artists on the other hand, artists who don’t have the additional revenue streams of a major musician and rely on sales, seem to lose out in that scenario. What can independents do to make sure their voice isn’t lost?

LaManna: Independent organizations, they’ll band together. If you go through an aggregator, even a company like ours, you could have a bigger voice by banding together a bunch of independent artists. That’s what other companies like Merlin and organizations like ATYM do. They essentially try to give a voice to the independents by grouping together and organizing in that fashion.

The biggest place where independent artists get hurt is when the payouts are not a per stream basis, but are calculated on a market shared basis, which means that the amount of streams are sometimes calculated not by the amount of streams you get on that service, but the amount of exposure you get on, as silly as it sounds, things like radio airplay, sales, downloads, etc ...

Goe: In order for the streaming system to really take off, the American data system needs to keep pace with technology. For example, there are parts of America that still do not have quality access to high speed internet, let alone fiber broadband speeds. This means that Tidal’s hifi service is not accessible for at least a quarter of American citizens. How does access to affordable high speed internet affect what these streaming companies plan to do in the future? Do our own data networks limit the growth of this new service?

LaManna: Google is coming out with their Fiber network and I think people are going to get access to the internet over time. Even in third world countries, companies like Facebook have their Internet.org initiative. While that isn’t true internet, a lot of it’s just access to Facebook, I think you’ll find that people will start finding and discovering their music on Facebook. This is why international countries discover a lot of music on YouTube, because that’s what is available to them.

For a complete interview transcript see below. 

115 comments

Complete Q & A With Roy LaManna

By David Goe
Friday, June 10, 2016

Roy LaManna, the CEO and founder of Vydia.com, a new online platform that helps musicians of all levels create, monetize and distribute their video content. LaManna also is the former music video commissioner for Island Def Jam Music Group and over his 15 years in the entertainment industry has worked with performers ranging from Justin Bieber to Ludacris.

To help understand what the future of streaming music will look like both for musicians and consumers, LaManna answered a series of questions.

 

Goe: Just to define the term, when we talk about streaming are you referring to subscription based sites like Tidal/Spotify/Apple or does this also include sites like Band Camp, Reverberation, Soundcloud, etc...

LaMana: When I refer to streaming, I’m referring to the Tidal, Spotify, and Apples of the world; however, my area of expertise is in video streaming sites, like YouTube.


Goe: It sounds like Apple Music is getting ready to phase out music downloads within the next couple years even though the iTunes download market still projects to be worth $600 million in 2019. If that is the case, how does the industry make up for nearly half a billion dollars in lost revenue? How would axing the download store affect other music markets? DJs for example still rely on downloads to run through their dedicated software and independent artists dangle downloads as a carrot to help sell vinyl and cassettes.

LaMana: My guess is that if Apple is going to be shutting down download services, it's because the renewal of the licensing fees from the major labels would prohibit them from making the profit that would be necessary for them to continue the venture. If that’s not available, someone else is going to pick up the slack. So, what I would guess is that it would be a very profitable area for a company like SoundCloud to get into specifically, because DJ’s utilize SoundCloud primarily and offering a fee to download content would be key. It’s also, quite frankly, a good extension of businesses for companies like Spotify and Tidal, and so on and so forth, that for an extra fee would allow you to download the content and keep it on your own servers, which is something that I know Amazon and other companies have already done for movie streaming sites.


Goe: As the major streaming sites continue their "arms race" to lock in exclusive rights to major artist's catalogs, how will streaming work for the consumer in the next couple years? It looks like consumers may be forced into subscribing to multiple outlets just to listen to music. Is that the best model or are we seeing another example of the music industry failing to take into account the end consumer again?

LaMana: I think this is an example of the music industry failing to take into account the end user. The reason being is that you’ll find people are going to subscribe to the service that they feel has the best user experience and if the content that they want is not available within the exclusivity window you’re going to find that they’re just going to get it illegally. I don’t think people want to have multiple subscription services.


Goe: How do independent artists fit into the streaming system? If steaming sites are paying on a per stream basis, that model seems to heavily benefit major musicians. Independent artists on the other hand, artists who don't have the additional revenue streams of a major musician and rely on sales, seem to lose out in that scenario. What can independents do to make sure their voice isn't lost? 

LaMana: Independent organizations, they’ll help them band together. So, if you go through an aggregator, even a company like ours, for instance, Vydia represents over 100,000 artists, you could have a bigger voice by banding together a bunch of independent artists. That’s what other companies like Merlin and organizations like ATYM do. They essentially try to give a voice to the independent by grouping together and organizing in that fashion. The biggest place where independent artists get heard is when the payouts are not a per stream basis, but are calculated on a market shared basis, which means that the amount of streams are sometimes calculated not by the amount of streams you get on that service, but the amount of exposure you get on, as silly as it sounds, things like radio airplay, sales, downloads, etc. That’s where the independent artist is really getting hurt when there’s a market share payout on a service.


Goe: Is music streaming the key to finally eliminating online music piracy? 

LaMana: You’re not going to eliminate online music piracy. I feel like that’s just going to go on just like people are just going to steal and do things forever. I mean you could minimize it, and the way you minimize it, is you recognize that if you make the content convenient for the users, you set it at a reasonable price or what’s deemed to be a reasonable price, and you didn’t force people to do things that they didn’t want to do. As I mentioned before with the exclusivity windows, I know it makes sense for different platforms to try and secure exclusive windows, but I do think that’s going to force consumers to start moving towards piracy if it’s not on the platform that they want.


Goe: In order for the streaming system to really take off the American data system needs to keep pace with technology. For example, there are parts of America that still do not have quality access to high speed internet, let alone fiber broadband speeds. This means that Tidal's hifi service is not accessible for at least a quarter of American citizens. How does access to affordable high speed internet affect what these streaming companies plan to do in the future? Do our own data networks limit the growth of this new service? 

LaMana: Google is coming out with their Fiber network and I think people are going to get access to the internet more and more over time. I mean, even see in third world countries, companies like Facebook have their internet.org initiatives. While that isn’t the true internet, a lot of it’s just access to Facebook, I think you’ll find that people will then, in these countries who have access to only Facebook and a handful of other sites, will start finding and discovering their music on Facebook. This is why international countries discover a lot of music on YouTube, because that’s what is accessible and what is available to them. I also think there’s potential in the idea of sponsored data, I know that some of the cellphone and smartphone companies have gone this way, meaning that you actually stream songs and listen to music, but it doesn’t count toward your data streams and then that data usage is sponsored by either an artist, an organization or a company. 

6 comments

The Streaming Music Wars Have Begun

By David Goe
Friday, April 29, 2016


Beyonce's new album "Lemonade" is just the latest album to stream exclusively on Tidal.

 

This past week Queen B Beyonce released her sixth studio album, “Lemonade” to the public ... sort of.

Currently, the album is only streaming on Tidal, Jay-Z’s subscription-based, music-streaming site, and unless you want to fork over $17.99 for the download, Tidal is your only option to hear “Lemonade.”

Recently, Tidal has made news for its exclusive album releases. For a long time, Tidal was the only place to stream Kanye West’s latest album, “The Life of Pablo,” and Rihanna’s “Anti.”

Eventually, both of those albums ended up on other music streaming sites, but those customers had to wait months to get their hands on the records.

As it happens, Tidal also is the exclusive holder of Prince’s complete catalog, so those looking to mourn the icon’s passing through his music could, again, only do so on Tidal.

While Tidal currently is riding a hot streak, the site is still relatively small. With only 3 million reported subscribers, Tidal falls well short of the number of subscribers on Apple Music (11 million) and Spotify (30 million), the other two major players in steaming music.

Last year, revenue from streaming music increased by 45 percent. Digital music as a whole accounts for nearly 50 percent of the music industry’s total profits.

If you’ve yet to jump into the music streaming market, it’s time to consider signing up for a service. Companies such as Tidal, Apple and Spotify all have their pros and cons. Deciding which one of the three to pick can be difficult, so here are some things to consider.

Tidal has two subscription plans, a premium plan for $9.99 and a hifi plan for $19.99 a month. Both plans offer basically the same features, a decent catalog of popular musicians, high-def music videos and curated playlists from A-list musicians. It claims to pay the highest royalties to musicians and songwriters. The hifi plan comes with lossless streaming audio, which is noticeably better than standard streaming quality.

Basically, Tidal is the bottle-service of steaming music. If you are willing to pay a little extra for lossless audio, then you really get a VIP experience.

The downside of owning a Tidal subscription is that you need a really strong internet connection if you want to take advantage of the lossless audio (its debatable whether Grand Junction provides a strong enough connection). Lossless files are much larger than standard audio files and require more bandwidth to stream uninterrupted.

Also, because Tidal is a Swedish-based company, if you pay for your subscription using a credit card you may be subjected to an additional international transaction fee. You can get around this fee by paying with a PayPal account, but it’s an added layer of annoyance.

Much like Tidal, Apple Music has its own stable of exclusive artists. Apple is home to artists such as Taylor Swift and Dr. Dre and will be the exclusive location for Drake’s upcoming album, “Views From The 6.”

Apple has a partnerships with the BBC Radio One’s Zane Lowe, who curates a 24-hour streaming radio station (which is pretty amazing), and NBC’s smash hit “The Voice.” Apple also provides handpicked playlists sorted by genres or activity and boasts a much more robust catalog than Tidal.

The downside of Apple Music includes one of the lowest music streaming qualities and a website and mobile interface that aren’t very intuitive to navigate. If you don’t care about audio quality, at $9.99 a month, it’s a good bargain.

The best thing about Spotify is they give you a paid option at $9.99 and a free-streaming option. The free option does subject you to numerous annoying ads, but you get complete access to the site, including its playlists, which are the easiest to find and navigate.

Spotify boasts one of the larger streaming libraries with more than 30 million songs and reportedly adds 20,000 new songs a day.

The knock against Spotify is a rather big one, however. A number of the biggest musicians refuse to stream their catalogs to the site because of Spotify’s reputation for unfairly compensating artists.

If you are looking for quantity, Spotify is for you. However, if you want to listen to the biggest names in the business, then Apple or Tidal are probably better options.  

89 comments

Shotgun Hodown, Jack + Jill Headline 420 Event

By David Goe
Friday, April 15, 2016

In just five days, marijuana enthusiasts across Colorado will be Rocky Mountain high for annual 4/20 events.

From the massive public smoke out at Denver’s Civic Park to the small backyard kutchie sessions in a neighborhood near you, plenty of weed will be consumed to celebrate this unofficial holiday.

Even on our side of the state, where local government has done its best to curtail use and access to recreational marijuana, local bands Shotgun Hodown, Jack+Jill, Zolopht and acoustic guitarist Ryan Harrison are all gearing up for Grand Junction’s annual 4/20 concert at Mesa Theater.

Bobby Hodown, lead singer and guitarist for Shotgun Hodown, has helped organize the event with Jack+Jill for the past five years. Both early supporters for the 4/20 movement before it went mainstream, the two bands have seen the event grow from a niche local showcase to the highly anticipated concert it is today.

Long before legalized recreational or even when medicinal marijuana was commonplace, local businesses were reluctant to hang up posters promoting the event, especially those posters with the iconic seven-point pot leaf.

Now, thanks in large part to Colorado’s relaxed stance on the drug, businesses are much more willing to hang those posters.

With locals more tolerant of a pro-pot event, this year’s celebration is shaping up to be the biggest 4/20 event to date. In honor of the occasion, Jack+Jill are pulling out all the stops with customized merchandise. Anyone looking to blaze up can now do so with Jack+Jill lighters.

Wednesday’s show isn’t controversy free, however. There are still large pockets of the community appalled at the idea of glorifying marijuana.

But the fact is, that doesn’t matter. In the court of public opinion, the arguments over pot have has been settled. Nearly 60 percent of Coloradoans still support legalized marijuana. The war on weed is over and Mary Jane won.

Love or hate marijuana, you have musicians to thank for mainstreaming the drug. I would hope this doesn’t come as a surprise, but marijuana has fueled musicians’ creativity since ... forever.

Pick any genre — jazz, blues, rock, country and hip-hop — they’ve all been touched by the green leaf.

Early jazz band leaders such as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Benny Goodman wrote and recorded songs about the drug in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The 1960s and 1970s were ablaze with the likes of Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Bob Marley and Black Sabbath writing doobie tunes and promoting the benefits of marijuana.

The tradition carried on through the 1980s with songs such as Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie” and Tone Loc’s “Cheeba Cheeba,” but the point of no return was in 1992, when Dr. Dre’s landmark hemp-hop album “The Chronic” dropped. Up until that point nobody had been so brazen about marijuana use nor had they done so with a genre-defining album, one that paved the way for the hip-hop heyday of the 1990s.

From the national stage to the local level, musicians have done more than just about anyone to make marijuana culturally acceptable. As an entire generation grew up listening to Dre and other pro-pot contemporaries from Cypress Hill to Phish, it’s easy to see how these early millennials shaped the marijuana conversation and pushed through legalization.

As Coloradoans spark up for 4/20 celebrations, keep this in mind: If Ted Cruz, our most conservative Republican presidential candidate, says states such as Colorado should be free to legalize marijuana, then it’s probably OK for Grand Junction to loosen up a bit or at least celebrate with some great local bands.

22 comments

An Intro to Atmosphere and Brother Ali

By David Goe
Tuesday, April 5, 2016

This Friday Minneapolis hip-hop group Atmosphere and special guest Brother Ali will play a free (to CMU students) outdoor show at Colorado Mesa University. Community tickets are only $20, which makes this a rare, affordable opportunity to see national touring hip-hop in Grand Junction. It's hard to put in perspective just how big of a show this is for Grand Junction but for perspective Atmosphere and Brother Ali headline at Red Rocks in September. For those unfamiliar with these well reguarded artists, here is a quick intro into what you can expect Friday night.    

Rapping about everything from hangovers to the death of the American dream, Atmosphere and Brother Ali can be anything from party starters to introspective poets. With over 13 studio albums between the two groups, and countless side projects, Atmosphere and Brother Ali content rich, which should make for an eclectic and fun concert experience. Here are a couple key tracks that speak to the heart and soul of each group. 

 

Atmosphere - Sunshine

 

Atmosphere - She's Enough

 

Atmosphere - The Best Day

 

Atmosphere - Trying to Find A Balance

 

Brother Ali - Uncle Sam Goddamn

 

Brother Ali - Mourning In America

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