✖ The rise of the fan-centric streaming service
And: Spotify's white noise spam, TikTok breakthroughs, New Zealand's 20k attendee festival, Ethereum founder reflects, Jean-Michel Jarre talks virtual concerts
Happy new year! In case you missed our piece last week, Maarten and I wrote about the trends to watch out for in 2021: from blockchain-enabled scarcity models, local collaboration to make music more sustainable, and the hybrid return to live music.
The rise of the fan-centric streaming service
For Water & Music, I wrote about the evolving music streaming landscape. The article is free to read until Friday when it goes behind a paywall. Here are a few of the takeaways that are explored in full detail in the article:
Most of the dominant streaming models employ a strategy of selling their product (subscriptions) by improving the listener-catalog relationship. That is different from a fan-artist relationship, because it emphasises diversity, rather than commitment.
Spotify’s artist donation feature was not the success that tipping features in East Asian streaming services are. This is, in part, due to the fact that they’re tacked on to a user experience that is not optimized for the fan-artist relation, but also because it’s framed as charity unlike the virtual gifts in Tencent Music’s WeSing app, for example.
YouTube Music and Amazon Music are well-positioned to emerge as a Western equivalent to the more fan-centric services popular in East Asia. YouTube merges the music listening experiences with options to livestream, tipping, and membership clubs. Amazon Music does the same more indirectly through its recent Twitch integration.
Newcomers like Currents.fm, LÜM, Matter, Zora and Audius have a different take on the user experience of music streaming. Each exploring more fan-centric ways to generate revenue, as opposed to focusing primarily on the listener-catalog relation.
The piece concludes with thoughts about why Spotify has to care. A big thanks to Cherie Hu for the platform and the editing. Explore all the details now - it’s free until Friday.
🌫️ The same white noise tracks are getting reuploaded on Spotify under different artist and release names; all optimized to capture search traffic. It’s a lucrative type of spam, with one identified party making around $3,000 daily with it: inside the surprisingly big business of Spotify’s secretive white-noise spammers.
🚴 Good catch by the Music Ally team: in Universal Music Group’s end of year memo, Lucian Grainge emphasises social, fitness, and gaming for licensing.
⛓️ Vitalik Buterin, founder of the Ethereum blockchain, wrote down his thoughts about the crypto space and the internet and how a culture shift is happening. It’s a must-read, exactly because it tackles this point made in the post itself:
“If you are still operating today precisely according to a script that was created in 2009, when the Great Financial Crisis was the most recent pivotal event on anyone's mind, then there are almost certainly important things that happened in the last decade that you are missing. An ideology that's finished is an ideology that's dead.”
🎤 Jean-Michel Jarre thinks most virtual concerts are mislabeled, calling performances such as the pre-recorded Travis Scott show in Fortnite “not real” and talks about how a Banksy moment is needed to hijack the trend.
🌱 Justin Bieber was once discovered on YouTube. Nowadays, it’s TikTok that’s launching the careers of young artists. Ellise Schafer talked to Nessa Barrett, Jxdn, Jufu, and Tayler Holde about how they built their followings on TikTok, got discovered by labels or pop stars, and what that’s meant for them:
“Indeed, COVID birthed a new kind of star on TikTok — one that had a massive following before even starting a music career — and those artists are circumventing the traditional A&R process.”
🇳🇿 Everybody’s speculating about the return of concerts this year. Meanwhile, New Zealand just had a 20,000 people festival without masks and social distancing due to the country’s suppression of the virus.
🇺🇸 The Save Our Stages Act that was passed in the US won’t help the majority of the live business. Independent contractors are left out, as well as businesses that meet certain criteria (e.g. have an office in another country).
🏟️ In the UK there’s hope for a return to open-air live music this summer. Predictions published in Variety however, are less optimistic especially considering the larger festivals.
📱 On a lighter note: Vice has a nice wrap-up of how partying changed in 2020 which ranges from illegal raves, to virtual events, to socially distanced events.
🐦 One artist making the best of a bad situation is Tim Burgess, whose influential Twitter Listening Parties have explored 600 albums so far.
A big shout-out to everyone supporting MUSIC x on Patreon already: Baptiste, Bo Plantinga, C.Y., Carlo Kiksen, Carson Lee, Casper Schadt, Cherie Hu, Christian Ruhnau, Henry Prince, Jason Fahlstrom, Kalam, Keagon Voyce, Lukas Hermeling, Maarten Walraven-Freeling, Nur Al Habash, Pete Cohen, Pietro Fuccio. Thank you!
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RIP MF Doom. His album MM…Food will forever be a classic for me.
🔙 Previous edition: What to watch out for in 2021: scarcity models, return to live, and sustainability.
✖ MUSIC x, founded by Bas Grasmayer and co-edited by Maarten Walraven.
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