Tag Archives: Demographics

The Unfamiliar Sound of Competition and Managing Your Rights BY: BRUCE WARILA / MTT

Up until now, music was in a unique competitive product category: there simply wasn’t much competition (for consumer attention) between well-made songs.

Songs are inexpensive, consumed in under four minutes, easily obtained, and songs are the only product in the world where billions of users…each own thousands of ‘competing’ alternatives.  In reality, uniformly-priced competitors are often stacked up and then consumed in succession, and in the age of the iPod, the stacks (the playlists) are growing instead of shrinking.

However the modern world conspires to ultimately deliver, in every product category, the greatest value at the lowest price, and songs are about to loose their long held exception.

There’s a clash coming between legacy songs (established hits) controlled by disconnected conglomerates versus new music solely controlled by artists that can instantly, with the click of a mouse, manage all of their rights.

Consider the (partial) concept control panel (below) for a set-it-and-forget-it, radio-like streaming music service…

For the purpose of this post, we are focused on price competition.  Assume that the popularity fader…simply works as expected.  I believe there’s enough work being done is this area to deploy this (popularity potential) feature now or in the near future.

Price Competition
The ‘stream / song price’ fader (shown above) controls price (consumer cost); it could just as easily control the flow of advertising insertions within a flight of music.

It’s only natural that the average music fan will want to listen to a combination of the lowest-priced music, popular music, music with popularity potential (within genres), and/or streams of music that are minimally interrupted by advertising intrusions.  

Let’s examine what the lowest priced, popular mix might contain: at the very lowest prices, the mix will contain the least amount music that’s controlled by entities that are unwilling or unable to waive fees and royalties; this includes music from established (signed) artists and almost all preexisting hits.  If users want (more) familiar music, they will have to either increase the price they are willing to pay per-stream / per-download, or expose themselves to more advertisements (by sliding the fader to the right).

We already know that users would rather not continuously listen to streams that are over populated with unfamiliar songs, so I suspect that most music fans will choose a place on the fader that includes a comfortable level of preexisting hits; obtained at an acceptable price.

Everybody and every entity in the world that plays or consumes music is price/cost sensitive.  People steal music because of price.  Music services are cost (label fees, streaming fees) sensitive.  Bars, restaurants and nightclubs are price (licensing fees) sensitive.  Even radio would love to reduce the costs connected to broadcasting music.

Coming soon to a streaming service near you…  If your songs have popularity potential (within a niche/genre), you will be able to compete for spins against established artists and preexisting hits, and you will be able to be filtered into streams…all based upon price.  Moreover, you will be able to withdraw your willingness to suspend your royalty rights and forgo payments with the click of a mouse.  If you believe exposure leads to the revenue, then price competition is going to be great for unknown artists and not so great for legacy artists.

Now that you have the information above, here are four things to consider:

1) I do NOT believe that using a Creative Commons license  is the best way to withdraw your rights from the marketplace.  Wait until you are able to control your rights upon, and suspend payments from, individual streaming services via the click of a mouse.

2) If you are unknown, uniform pricing is not your friend (it’s probably not your friend under any circumstance).  Any deal, contract or law that shortens your ability to set your own price or to temporarily suspend your royalty rights is not in your best interest.

3) Remain vigilant and don’t get misled into believing that certain laws need to be extended, amended or adopted to protect “your” best interests.  Chances are, the laws and regulations will be protecting the entrenched interests of those that 1) don’t want to compete on price, or 2) exist off the back of the income streams you want to suspend and restore via the click of a mouse.

4) In today’s world, the interests of publishers, labels, management, investors and artists are usually not in alignment.  The last thing you want is a contractual situation that prevents you from freely using your songs to drive the remainder of your business.  For this reason, I am an advocate of entering into 360 deals with ‘partners’ that can deliver value to, and participate in the upside of, every facet of your business.

I want to hear from music publishers, industry attorneys and songwriters on the option of temporarily suspending rights and payments to compete for exposure on streaming services.  Consumers are one (huge) thing, but venues (restaurants, bars, nightclubs, etc.) pay for blanket licenses; I don’t think venues are going to stop paying for blanket licenses in droves, as music fans will expect to hear a reasonable flow of familiar music.  Then again, I could be wrong?

In the US, royalties from traditional broadcast radio are only paid to songwriters. Can songwriters legally suspend their radio royalty rights in consideration for more exposure?  Artists, would you give full commission on the sale of your music (you get nothing until you click out of the program) to a popular radio station in exchange for ongoing exposure?

The Unfamiliar Sound of Competition and Managing Your Rights 



How To Sell And Market Your Music Using The Latest Research BY: CATHERINE HOL / MTT

If you keep an eye out for the latest research on music consumption habits, you can use these statistics to help guide you in creating an effective sales and marketing plan for your music releases.

After all, that’s how the marketing department of a major record company would operate – basing their plans on the latest market research.

If you’re despairing at the idea of having to add market research to your “to do” list, don’t worry – there’s an easy way. Just google for Google Alerts, and set up a few alerts such as “music consumption research”, “music consumer survey”, or “music market research”. The latest research will just appear in your email inbox.

Then, all you have to do is choose the studies and surveys relevant to your own music market, and ask yourself how these statistics could shape your music sales and marketing plan.

You don’t have to go into too much detail here – taking note of the general trends will guide your strategy quite effectively.

Take the following example of worldwide music consumption statistics in 2010, courtesy of Midem.com:

A global survey of music consumers by Nielsen (Sept. 2010)

Nielsen (one of the most highly regarded market research firms) conducted a global survey of 26,644 people in September 2010 on their music purchasing and listening habits. It surveyed people’s music consumption for the previous 3 months.

What can we musicians learn from this research?

  • We need multiple ways to reach music consumers worldwide: The survey found that there is considerable diversity in music consumption habits globally, and that no single channel dominates.
  • We need to make videos: Watching music on video is the most popular way to consume music. 57% of those surveyed had watched music videos on computers in the preceding 3 months. 44% watch internet videos several times a week.
  • Giving away some of our music as free downloads is likely to be a good promotional strategy: Downloading a song without paying for it was the second most popular form of music consumption. The survey did not distinguish between “legal” (free downloads – often promotional) or “illegal” downloads (pirate copies), so many of these free downloads could have been obtained legitimately. Obviously there is still a great deal of interest in downloading music, and people like to get it for free … legally or otherwise.
  • People aged between 21 and 34 are the “core digital music audience”: People in this age range have a generally higher level of music-related activity. They watch the most music videos (on computer or TV), download more songs (both paid and free), and stream more music.
  • It’s worth selling digital downloads; particularly if aimed at a younger audience:The survey found that just over 20% of people under the age of 34 had paid to download a music track to their computer in the preceding 3 months.
  • We need our own artist website, with our music readily accessible for streaming and buying: About 18% of people surveyed had accessed music from an artist’s own website in the preceding 3 months.
  • A Facebook fan page is worth having: 35% consume music via social networking sites. Check out the usual suspects – but also keep an eye out for niche social networks that relate to you and your music, for a more targeted audience.
  • Streaming services are worth factoring into our promotional strategy: 36% stream music via a computer. The survey doesn’t go into details about this streaming figure, so it’s an amalgamation of all the different ways someone could stream music these days. However, it tells us that services such as Spotify, Pandora, Last fm, Jango, etc, are a viable option for getting our music heard.
  • We should look into the sales and marketing potential of creating our own music apps: 30% listen to music via their mobile phone, and 20% of respondents had downloaded or used music apps on their mobile.
  • We should promote our music on internet radio: Just over 30% of those surveyed say they listen to music on web radio several times a week. The vast array of genres and sub-genres catered for by specialist radio shows online means that, if we take the time to investigate, we are likely to find the perfect audience for our own music.

Creating a realistic music sales and marketing plan

You can see that, just through interpreting the statistics of this one study, we can lay out the basis of a sales and marketing plan that is rooted in the realities of the here and now.

It would be best to take note of a number of different studies, of course, for the greatest accuracy. And it is important to update your information regularly. But thanks to Google Alerts, this is not the time-consuming chore it used to be.

I hope this is helpful to those of you who are confused about which of the countless marketing strategies to adopt, and who have precious little time available for trying to figure it all out.


Nielsen white-paper for Midem.com: Digital music consumption and digital music access published January 12 2011. http://bit.ly/fhz3BO

Nielsen Music (www.nielsen-music.com ) is a division of Nielsen ( www.nielsen.com ), the leading global market research company.

MIDEM is “the most important event for the world’s music community” http://www.midem.com

How To Sell And Market Your Music Using The Latest Research  

What Do Music Fans Want To Own, and Why? BY: CHRIS STONEMAN

I’ve spent my teenage and adult life obsessing over my music collection. Meticulously arranging hand labelled tapes and CD’s was FUN, but when the same job arrived for mp3’s, it became a massive chore. But I still felt compelled to own something, and so I continued for many years, wasting hours arranging an mp3 collection I’d not paid for. I passionately argued that I’d always want to own what I listened to, until the Spotify mobile app made that notion extinct.

I now have no need to own every piece of music I listen to, but is owning nothing enough? Who wants to own music, and what does ‘own’ really mean anyway? Nobody ‘owns’ TV shows, so why do some pay Sky £50 / month? If nobody’s going to own anything, what are people going to pay for?

To answer these questions, we need to identify three key ways in which we desire music. Individually we are a mix of all three, with differing quantities of each.

Easy Music
The overriding desire in everyone is that we just want to listen to the music with as little effort as possible. For most people, the strength of this desire means their needs are met by switching on the radio, and purchasing one CD a year in Tescos or Walmart. Others may be more committed to spending far more effort and cash, but the want for easy music remains no matter how obsessive the fan is.

Understanding Music
We don’t just want the music, we want to make sense of the music within a wider space, and to understand it. Traditionally this is provided by the artwork, lyrics and credits, or a pricey boxset detailing info on the musicians involved, their backstory, influences, references, vision and its place within a genre. We would then leave this product environment and read books, magazines, and seek public reaction in conversation. Today, their online equivalents (webzines, social media etc) are not as distant from the product’s environment (the internet) as they once were.

Music as a Badge
We want other people to know who we are, and why. Since the birth of pop in the 1950’s, music has given people the opportunity to do just that by offering ways to wear your musical taste as a badge. A shelf of CD’s or vinyl, a Ramones t-shirt, a Justin Bieber pillow case, or a bedroom wall full of posters are common ways people identify themselves. Whilst these will never be wholly replaced by a digital equivalent, there are still modern ways of complimenting them. Ringtones and callback tones, PC/phone/tablet backgrounds, publishing last fm charts, personalised web browsers, and even our list of favoured artists on Facebook are the result of this desire to define ourselves.

So how do each of these desires affect the fans need to own something?

Make Music Easy, and Work Better.
The main reason we want to own music is because it enables us to listen to it with ease. Casual fans don’t necessarily want a CD, they just want to own the right to listen to it whenever they want, and to KNOW it’ll work. Spotify Premium should not be viewed solely as a streaming service, as the offline app allows you to download and store music on your phone within seconds, after which you can listen to it whenever and wherever you like. But how do we, the fans, get convinced? Entice us in for free, then make it work better than a CD.

Combine Gracenote mood info and location based services, so when switching on Spotify in your local gym a random ‘Fast Beat, Uptempo’ playlist will automatically start, with a beat linked to our pace. Likewise, automatically give us party tunes on a Saturday night and chill out tunes on Sunday morning. Don’t ask what we’re feeling because we probably don’t know; guess and get it right. The technology exists, it’s just not worthwhile selling it to the fan yet because there’s no great way to do so. Make music work BETTER and EVERYWHERE, and we’ll pay a premium for it.

We don’t want to own the music, but we want to own the right to listen to it, especially if it works better.

Help us Understand Music
Those that strive to understand music use streaming as the start of a journey that will see them interact with it in a variety of ways. This is not just for music enthusiasts or snobs. Young girls want to “understand” everything about Justin Bieber just as much as a Dylan fan wants to understand his lyrical references. Remove the barriers to this understanding and not only will fans create a deeper bond with the music, but they’ll also come to value the ease of access to it.

Some sites have started on this path. MOG show reviews and user comments whilst you stream songs, and has the potential to be the more legal Hype Machine for the new decade (if they could sort out the site’s usability). Before eMusic lost its way, I was a happy customer for over two years due to the editorial that surrounded my browsing. Spotify have brought downloading closer to the listener by pairing with 7Digital, coaxing the fan to take the next step in their journey. Repeating this approach with physical product (I would buy 10 times more vinyl if I could do so with a few clicks from Spotify) is an obvious step, but we need EVERYTHING closer to the music.

I would pay a monthly premium to have versions of the following embedded in my Spotify, or just one click away : Pitchify (with offline reading options), Songmeanings, LastFM stats, Songkick, any of the Echo Nest apps (Discovr, ex.fm Blogfinder, and many more), any app that tells me what musicians I’m currently listening to and what else they play on, mFlow, links to Amazon eBooks, even a direct link to Google streetview (or better still Historypin) allowing me to stroll down Penny Lane as I listen to it, or through my childhood memories accompanied by music of the time. The possibilities are endless.

We don’t want to own the music, but we want to own easy access to the information that goes with it.

Sell Badges, Giveaway Music.
Fans will always want to use music to identify themselves, so give them ample opportunity to do so. Use streaming to upsell to CD’s, vinyl, t-shirts, gig tickets, pillow cases, duvet covers, pencil cases, posters, and every other conceivable piece of merch, with just a few clicks. The streaming site gets a % of the final sale, and the provider puts its product in front of millions of new fans; the perfect way to combine the Freemium and Upselling models.

But importantly, this also needs to work the other way around. Place value on the badge, and offer the music as a bonus. Music no longer has to come on a CD, with the use of a QR Code there’s now no reason why it can’t come with a packed lunch box, hoody or poster.

We don’t want to own the music, but we do want to own something that helps us define ourselves.

What Do Music Fans Want To Own, and Why? 

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