✖ No meritocracy in music: direct-to-fan, brand partnerships, rights management
And: rapid testing solutions to open clubs; iHeartMedia acquires ad-tech firm Triton; $424 for MLC; Vevo, AI & mood-based playlists (but it's about the ads); Jerusalema redux
There's a need to excel in human beings. If you go into music, you do it to be successful; if you set up a music/tech business, you do it to be successful. The hits you generate or the unicorn status you achieve subsequently measure your success. To focus on the artists for a moment, there's a seemingly growing number of artists who make a living from streaming revenues: Spotify talks about 43,000 artists earning 90% of the revenues thus giving them a solid income and AWAL says that they see a 40% year-over-year growth of artists earning more than $100k a year from streaming. This sounds positive - and reminds me of the Hans Rosling TED talks that take a macro view and say overall life on our planet gets better over time - but still impacts only a very small amount of artists. As Mark Mulligan has recently argued, there's no silver streaming bullet to fix this: equitable remuneration won't; user-centric payment systems won't.
So what will work?
And what does that mean in terms of that insatiable need to excel?
👉 Continue reading to find out how brand partnerships, direct-to-fan strategies, and rights management are part of the hard work required to live off of your art nowadays.
♿ Liz Pelly is awesome and she puts together a great argument to support a radically different model for the streaming market: universal access.
🗱 Vevo and Musicxmatch have teamed up to create mood-based playlists based on energy and tone. It’s an AI model that Musicxmatch created which will label the videos. While this sounds like a way to serve listeners, it’s really a play to maximize ad spend.
🧜🏽♂️ Speaking of ads, iHeartMedia has acquired Triton Digital, the audio ad-tech firm. Variety reports this now gives iHeartMedia “the full ad-service package that spans on-demand audio, broadcast, internet radio and podcasting.” Triton will apparently continue to dynamically insert ads for other companies too. Whether this signals a broader integration of the Triton ad-tech into the wider Liberty Media landscape isn’t yet known.
🧑🏿🔧 A major move built on the Music Modernization Act: streaming services have paid out $424million to the Mechanical Licensing Collective. Now, let’s see how they will go about the allocation of that cash.
📐 Speaking of rights, Pex - the “Google-like search engine for rightsholders to find copyright infringement” - has raised $57million. The new round of investors include both Tencent and TME.
*Correction from Bas from last Tuesday, now with the right link: 🎟 Ticketmaster has launched a service to sell tickets for livestreams.*
🏥 Remember the Jerusalema Challenge? That song and dance that struck such a cord in the pandemic, especially with hospital staff. It looks like Warner is now looking to get some cash from those institutions, because they promoted their image through the use of the music…
💉 Boris Johnson has said that nightclubs could reopen with rapid testing in place. Potentially, of course. Unsurprisingly, the Music Venue Trust backs this call.
🍁 A new initiative in Canada: #fortheloveoflive. 80 music venues have already shut down due to the pandemic and lockdowns in Canada and one in four workers in the broader entertainment industry lost their jobs in 2020.
🧵 The aftermath of the PRS’ botched attempt at a livestream license still rumbles on. Now EMMA, the European Music Managers Alliance, has called on all European PROs to first discuss with the artists and their representatives. Those discussions will turn into a thread the will continue to unspool.
🐀 Plague raves. Just don’t, just wait.
Sometimes I just want to listen to some beautiful piano music. Jamie Saft often makes a lot of noise, but this solo show is one of my go-to albums to just let the world sink away for a while.
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✍️ Today’s newsletter was written by Maarten Walraven.