✖️ Cost per hit versus catalog
And: J. Cole's catalog in spatial audio; What if 2022 isn't the year of NFTs?; Brexit one year on; Black creators miss out on Tik Tok revenues; fan-to-fan community strategies
Why does an artist sign to a major label? Because of an upfront pay check and a marketing machine. But when does something actually become a hit? The first answer on most people’s lips nowadays would probably be something along the lines of “Tik Tok will let you reach so many people, it’s like a popstar factory.” And if we look at some of Tik Tok’s success stories you could say that’s true. Of course, there’s Lil Nas X, but he did end up signing with a major label, and some of the biggest stars on the platform took a musical detour last year, but they also turned to record labels. More pertinent, perhaps, is the story of Addison Rae, who ‘went indie.’ Although ‘indie’ perhaps isn’t the correct turn of phrase here. As Yash Bagal explained, the team Addison put together was basically a major label team. So if hits come from star influencers, where does this leave other new music? What is the cost per hit and is that worth it?
“If you monitor the value of the hits business, you’ll see that the Top 50 tracks – the sole focus of much of the industry – accounts for about 3% of streaming revenue. It’s a tiny slice of the business, yet it accounts for the bulk of the costs of most labels.”
At the same time, catalog listening keeps going up, creating an ever smaller slice for new – or frontline – music from the total pie of sound recording revenues. This fact is driven home by the fact so many new songs use what’s called interpolation, or the practice of building a new song from an old song. Like Ariana Grande’s 7 Rings, which sees the artist share 90% of the royalties from that song with the Rodgers and Hammerstein estates. Similarly, Olivia Rodrigo seems quite keen to hand out royalty shares of her music to those that inspired her. Creating a hit, then, in 2021 meant to draw on history and pay your dues. But that also means that the revenues assigned to those hits go down.
Meanwhile, that same Olivia Rodrigo helped push the cassette to unknown sales heights in the UK last year. Comparably, Adele and Taylor Swift propelled CDs to a first increase in sales in 17 years. If these major artists take up all that space, the independent artists who purportedly thrive on physical sales don’t actually benefit from the overall growth. That stays at the top. So why would a major label invest so much money in new music if there’s hardly any money to be made with it? Moreover, there’s so much new music coming into the market every single day. The tools are available for anyone to make music, which has previously led me to ask what a billion music creators would mean for the music industry. I concluded that it might lead us to listen differently, and perhaps that’s what we’re seeing in this discussion on catalog and things like interpolation.
As so many people have access to music creation tools and people with social capital – like Addison Rae – have the financial power to put major label music teams around them, what we look for in our music consumption habits changes. We look for things we recognize, both as listener and creator. Now that production and consumption are changing, I’m sure we’ll see investments changing too, or perhaps the large catalog deals and new investment funds show that the money is already flowing differently too. Will we stop having hits? Of course not, but we may get less and less of them.
“It’s great to see artists embracing spatial audio as a new listening experience since it really does feel different. The technology is something that Apple is hoping will set its music streaming service apart from others.”
I’m sceptical as to whether people will actually value this and spatial audio will become a vital element that distinguishes Apple Music from other streaming services.
⁉️ What if 2022 isn’t the year of Music NFTs (Dan Fowler)
“An NFT is predominantly a vehicle in which to sell rights. From a usefulness of NFTs perspective, the design space is completely open and only experimentation will show what works and what doesn’t … To the point above about building a system that credits and rewards multiple contributors to an NFT, we need infrastructure on which this can be done. For clarity, this is not an easy task. The current digital (& analogue) music industry has valiantly struggled to build a comprehensive view of the ownership and rights picture that underpins music, and there is no silver bullet within web3 that suddenly makes that easier.”
🪂 How To Make Airdrops That Go Viral, Bring Awareness, And Convert Members Into Active Contributors (Elliot Couvat)
“With a strong project and a well-designed airdrop, chances are the token's value won't drop completely. With a token that goes up in value, it creates more incentives for developers and various teams to build for your project that, in return for their efforts, will get paid in compensation with the project's native token.”
Most of the problems stem from almost silly-sounding bureaucratic issues.
“Before Brexit, concert hauliers were not restricted in the number of times they could unload and load productions on a European tour. Now, trucks over 3.5 tonnes are limited to just three stops before they have to leave the EU and return to the UK.”
💸 Forbes Names Highest Earning TikTokers—No Black Creators Made the List (Jasmine Browley)
Black users from TikTok were already fed up with not receiving credit for some of the app’s most viral and widely shared moments. Last summer, #BlackTikTokStrike took hold of the popular platform to help support Black creatives voice their concerns about their work being copied by non-Black users and receiving social clout. Now, Forbes has inadvertently highlighted that Black users aren’t getting paid for their impact either.”
⚗️ LR ALL $GENRE DAY1 (Leaving Records)
“We feel our priority of sustaining thriving community is felt through participation. Our hope is that the roles of the fan and the artist may merge, permitting invested engagement by exploring meaningful shared ownership via new web3 models such as LR community-issued NFTs & our community token $GENRE.”
👭 The next evolution of direct-to-fan will be fan-to-fan (Tatiana Cirisano)
“The music industry has evolved from one-way engagement (the artist makes music and the fan listens) to two-way engagement (direct-to-fan tools that allow for fluid interaction between artists and fans). For the creator economy to be sustainable in the long-term, there must be a third prong where fans are not just connecting with their favourite artist, but also with each other.”
Theodore Wild Ride is a collaboration between people and instruments. Christine Ott plays various forms of keys, amongst which the Mellotron. Mathieu Gabry similarly plays keys and one of those is also the Mellotron. For those of you who aren’t aware what this instrument is, it uses magnetic tape and if you hear it you’ll think of old films where it was often used for sonic affect. Finally, there’s Ophir Levy who plays the Oud, one of my favorite instruments. It’s the combination of these sounds that trigger me into imagining this record as an exploration for these three musicians. You can hear them move along a path, through a forest, up a mountain or across a sea, as they remove obstacles and find themselves inside gorgeous vistas.