The hip thing in 2016 for many big-named artists is to only make their music available on one specific streaming or download service, usually in a deal struck between the artist’s label or management and the streaming service in hopes of drawing more subscribers towards one service, or in many cases, away from another—specifically Spotify.
Instead of having joggers running through parks listening to Spotify playlists, they’re not chasing down pocket monsters with their smartphones. Instead of consumers keeping up with their favorite bands and artists on social media, they’re engaging in Pokemon business in a virtual world.
How to purchase music is a very convoluted subject, is specific to each artist, and it can drive you crazy thinking about it. But despite some rare cases and unusual exceptions, there are a few hard and fast maxims about the best ways to purchase or stream music to make sure you’re supporting your favorite artists as best you can.
According to sources, a deal is in process for iTunes to purchase the Big Machine Label Group for $250 million. Big Machine’s current distribution deal with UMG is up, and Taylor Swift has one more album left on the label before her contract expires, leading to speculation Big Machine wants to sell before they risk losing their superstar.
On December 4th, Billboard will roll out new changes to their Billboard 200 album chart, and the effect will be big on some of your favorite music artists, including legends like Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton, and up-and-comers like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. The changes will be the first major overhaul to the album chart since 1991.
Yes, Billy Bragg is is the super cool British songwriting icon with a sharp wit and a penchant for social justice that many know and love, and Taylor Swift is the American pop princess with shallow radio singles selling out stadiums and amassing more money than God in a bid for nothing short of world domination. But the shade Billy threw Taylor over her decision to pull her music from Spotify is wild-ass conspiracy theory.
On Monday, November 17th when Garth Brooks appeared on Access Hollywood promoting his upcoming tour dates and the release of his new album Man Against Machine, he was pretty loose lipped about his hatred for certain elements of music technology, and how it has taken a lot of the power out of the hands of artists.
On Monday, Jason Aldean pulled his latest record Old Boots, New Dirt from Spotify—a big loss for the company from one of country’s biggest stars, and one who has set streaming records. Subsequently, Brantley Gilbert, whose 2014 release Just As I Am has been receiving surprising sales numbers, has also been pulled from Spotify. So has Justin Moore’s “Off The Beaten Path.”
Taylor Swift’s 1989 did not appear on Spotify upon release, though the lead single “Shake It Off” was available. Then the shocking news came down Monday that her entire discography was pulled from the Spotify network, singles and all. The impact of Taylor Swift removing her music from Spotify, especially after she just revealed herself as the biggest artist of the last decade-plus, cannot be overstated.
The one last bastion of revenue for music that has remained however has been live concerts. Ticket prices have remained strong and allowed artists that would otherwise not be able to make a living playing music to continue the pursuit and help pay for recording production. But a new company and a new service could inject the subscription dilemma into the live concert space as well.
For the better part of 15 years, country music Outlaw David Allan Coe recorded for Columbia Records and worked with Hall of Fame producer Billy Sherrill on timeless recordings that have become treasured releases in country music. However obtaining these records had become difficult to impossible over the years as they subsequently went out-of-print.
Today (9-4) at a press conference in Chicago ahead of the very first concert of Garth’s world tour and his official comeback from retirement, he announced that he was going digital, and doing so by launching his own digital company. Garth has launched GhostTunes LLC, which allows the artist to select how their songs or albums are sold.
The underlying problem is that free music is quickly becoming seen as an inalienable right for all Americans, and all of the world’s consumers, if we haven’t reached that dangerous plateau already. And the even more dangerous step of expecting musicians to pay to have their music heard is becoming more of a reality every day—evidenced by this Super Bowl Halftime news.
So before we get too engrossed in this idea, let’s all just appreciate that it’s just an idea. This is sport; a discussion point. So don’t get too exercised about how I’m an idiot, and it would never happen. It doesn’t have to be NPR. But make no mistake, if anyone, NPR or not, offered a sustainable streaming service, the demand would be there.
On Wednesday, The United States House of Representatives’ House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet took up the issue in an open hearing, specifically taking up the matter of music licensing Under Title 17 â€“ Part 2 of the current law. Multiple members of the independent music community came to testify, including Rosanne Cash.
Here’s there long and short of the current problem: Just like iTunes, Beats, Amazon, your local school district, and your refrigerator repair company, YouTube has decided it’s getting into the digital streaming music service too. However the problem is YouTube is not really set up like its burgeoning rivals to make the best of the current music streaming paradigm.
the simple fact remains, radio is still the most widely used format for music listeners, confirmed by a new study by Edison Research. And even more importantly, radio is where listeners go to discover new music. 75% of listeners use radio to keep up-to-date with music, while only 20% use SiriusXM, and only 18% use Spotify. Radio’s days might be numbered, but right now, it still rules the roost.
Oh how independent music nerds love to puff their chest out and pontificate about what’s wrong with the mainstream music industry, how it’s creatively bankrupt and was too slow to evolve to the onset of the digital format. What none of these nerds and experts seem to be willing to recognizing though is that over the last 18 months, music sales have increased. So what happened?