Latest Indie News

  • Spotify Rumor Roundup: The Latest Before Today's Big Announcement [UPDATED]

    Nov 30

    image from www.google.com(UPDATE 2) Spotify is making a "big announcement" today at 12pm EST/9am PST which they say will mark a "new direction". I'll be live blogging here. Until then, here is a roundup of the latest Wall St Journal plus rumors, my guesses, a bit of humor and at least one wild theory:

    • UPDATE: Industry sources are telling The Wall Street Journal that an improved API will be announced today. At launch free apps will add reviews, lyrics and concert listings.
    • Several of the latest rumors center around closer ties with or even purchase of music intelligence provider The EchoNest. Since that company helps power hundreds of apps, that would jive with other theories regarding the launch of a Spotify commercial API.
    • In fact, Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm (a blog funded by The Echo Nest) is convinced that Spotify will announce a commercial API that "lets app developers for iOS, Android, and other platforms build - and sell - music apps that  draw on Spotify’s catalog of 15-million-plus songs.
    • Peter Kafka at All ThingsD agrees, but admits he can't find anyone to confirm it including app developers who might logically be the "special guests" that Spotify promised today.
    • A Spotify web player in conjunction with the API is Janko Roettgers of GigaOm's theory: "Taking Spotify everywhere wouldn’t be half as spectacular if all third-party developers could do was to trigger plays within the app, or direct people to splash pages that ask them to install it. No, the real holy grail would be to actually play Spotify music within third-party apps and sites, with no additional software downloads required."

    But to make this a "big announcement" of "a new direction", I think there will more. I'm also expecting one or more of the following:

    • An iPad App. Hardly a new direction, but overdue.
    • Big partner announcements of major mobile or ISP providers offering Spotify as a bundled and or discounted service. Spotify has done this with Virgin in the UK.
    • Spotify's own US download store. No more sending customers off to iTunes, etc.
    • Ticketing and or other "buy" options powered by new partners.  

    A Wild Theory

    None of the above is all that sexy, but collectively it might qualify as "big".  Here's a wild theory, but not illogical theory would make major headlines:

    In an interview by Eamonn Forde for Music Ally, Jason Herskowitz of the "anti-iTunes" music player Tomahawk theorizes that "Facebook acquires Spotify in an all-stock deal that makes everyone investing in Spotify rich with Facebook stock. And Facebook doesn’t have to pay cash to get the service; they just have to pay for licences." Now, that would classify as "BIG". 

    Tired of all this guessing and ready to laugh?  Stuart Dredge offers: Top 10 Things Spotify Might Announce at its ‘New Direction’ Event.

  • Live Blogging Today's Spotify Announcement

    Nov 30

    image from www.google.comWe're live blogging today's Spotify announcement at 11:45AM. Read the latest from journalists and pundits sharing what they say will be announced here.  Follow the live blog and comment after the jump.

  • Lefsetz to Artists: Wake Up!

    Nov 30

    We’d be lying if we said Lefsetz’s latest offering was anything other than another one of his classic rants, but it’s a good one. An attack on many angles and processes of the established music industry, it’s poised to make you think a little, if nothing else. Give it a read through, and let us know which points you agree with and which are ridiculous in the comments!

    -Aidan

    (Lefsetz Letter) Dreese on Retail

    Credit: Bob Lefsetz

    Indie Ambassador E2G Bob Lefsetz Letter“So (the big music chain’s strategy was) not about trying to excite the customer. To extract value from the labels seemed to be the pursuit. In essence, there was a lot of value available because not very much of that value (from the product being sold) was flowing to the artists. (Retailers and labels) would be sitting there on a $10 wholesale (CD) item, and it was basically $9 available to be thieved.

    If Best Buy could grab $2 of it on a mark-down, the label could use the rest for car service and fancy meals; I guess that worked for a long time.”

    Mike Dreese of Newbury Comics, as told to Larry LeBlanc: http://bit.ly/aQpmuY

    The major label business model is theft.

    I have no idea why so many artists revere the major labels. It’s like staying with an abusive spouse, fearful of the great big world outside the house, afraid you won’t find something better. It’s like a poor person voting for a Republican. It’s against your interests. But since big media controls the debate, look at the Big Brother SOPA legislation it’s ramming through the legislature as a result of paying off Congressmen, ignorant artists believe the labels are on their side.

    They were never on your side.

    From Ahmet screwing bluesmen back in the fifties to Warner Brothers insisting on 360 deals today, the goal of the label is to take your money. Oh sure, their hit to shit ratio sucks, but is that really a given? How come every Pixar movie has been a blockbuster? You can’t call it luck at this point, there were just better people involved, insisting on excellence.

    So you signed with the label, which paid you an advance, and the rest of the money, the touring and merch, was your own.

    Now they’re coming after that money too. They say it’s necessary, that they can’t make it without them. What’s it gonna take for artists to say NO MAS!

    As for the acts saying how much they used to make selling records, the dirty little secret was that after having a load of success, their lawyers renegotiated and got huge advances, which still weren’t enough if you continued to sell. And if your deal didn’t pay out, the labels took it out on the wannabes. Hell, costs are not even the same amongst the rich and poor acts. It takes longer to recoup if you’re a newbie than it does if you’re an established act, why should that be? Costs are costs!

    And you don’t end up owning what you pay for anyway. It’s kind of like leasing a car. You pay for years and end up with nothing. The automobile manufacturers love this. Because you lease more car than you can afford, and since you’re focusing on payment rather than total cost, you’re not even aware you’re being screwed. As for always wanting to drive a new car, I guess you’re keeping the fashion industry alive too.

    The record companies screwed the artists, paid off the radio stations and put the profits into their pockets. And now that there’s less money to be made, someone’s gotta pay, something’s gotta give, and it sure as hell ain’t the execs’ salaries. Do you see Doug Morris making less? Jimmy Iovine? Are you kidding me? They just laid off the underlings. As for those underlings still with jobs, they’re clueless as to the workings of the royalty department. Which is a black hole anyway. There’s no such thing as an accurate accounting, people on both ends of a contract can’t even agree on a definition, there’s just a settlement after an audit. The labels never want to cave, never want to admit they’re wrong, it sets a bad precedent.

    As for their statement that no act ever broke through the Internet, that they’re a necessary part of the equation, that’s no longer true. Acts have broken via the Net, radio means less than ever, this is their worst nightmare, that they may not be needed, which is why they’re on this giant disinformation campaign.

    And they’re not to be trusted. Acts couldn’t share in the upside of CDs because of the startup costs. That would be like asking you to pay $10,000 for the new MacBook Pros to be released in the new year, the ones akin to MacBook Airs. Hell, there’s tooling involved! Someone’s gotta pay! But costs keep going down with volume, with success, and the labels never did raise CD royalty rates, they just kept that money. To the point where you now sell a track on iTunes and the act gets less than a dime.

    Is that fair?

    Of course not!

    Which is why the major labels are gonna die. It’s a fairness issue. Acts don’t mind sharing fifteen or twenty percent of their revenue with managers, they can see the benefit in all avenues of exploitation, they believe the manager is on their side. But the labels ask for revenue in areas in which they’ve got no expertise, it’s a land grab.

    You’re just looking for a sugar daddy if you sign with a major. You’re afraid to do it by yourself. You’re no Curt Flood, not one changing the game, but a soldier. But artists are supposed to think, they’re supposed to follow their own muse, why can’t they do this?

    And now the enemy is Spotify.

    Well, Spotify coughs up a minimum of 70% of revenues to rights holders. If your label is taking most of that, you just have a bad deal. If you’re lamenting that per stream payment is less than an iTunes royalty you’re a believer in buggy whips and typewriters. You can’t succeed in the future by denying it.

    We live in an era of data. Hell, Google makes analytics available for free!

    But you don’t see the labels publishing their accounting. There’d be too big an uproar. It’s like the NBA owners saying they’re losing money but refusing to open their books. One can argue the players had nowhere else to go, but that’s not true with musical artists. Yes, major labels have a lock on Top Forty radio, but that’s a smaller game than ever before.

    And it’s not only labels, artists pay lip service to all kinds of archaic forms that are destined for the scrapheap. Like terrestrial radio and the album. Yes, the artists can continue to be screwed by the system because they’re just that uninformed, just that dumb.

    You know who hates change?

    ARTISTS!

    They don’t want to save themselves. They just want to blame someone else for their failure, for their lack of revenue.

    Hell, I have sympathy for those with archaic deals formulated before the Internet era, but if you’re starting now, you’ve got the freedom to succeed. You can do it your way. But you don’t want to. You’d rather be in an abusive relationship, told how to behave and complain about it later.

    Then again, you can tell people the truth all day long and they don’t want to hear it.

    Just like the artists think their savior is the major label, the public thinks Ticketmaster is the reason ticket fees are so high.

    Meanwhile, fat cat businessmen are laughing all the way to the bank. They obfuscate the truth and you buy it.

    Pioneers are gonna continue to blow the music landscape wide open. Napster begat the MP3 and Spotify, et al, are monetizing the ability of all people to have all the music for a very low price. Next comes the obliteration of the major labels. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution.

  • What To Expect At Tomorrow's Big Spotify Announcement

    Nov 29

    image from www.hypebot.com(UPDATED) We'll be live blogging Spotify's promised a "big announcement" tommorrow (11/30) at 12pm EST / 9am PST. The company says it is taking a "new direction". But aside from CEO Daniel Ek hosting along with some "special guests", no other details are being provided. That hasn't kept the pundits from making educated guesses. Here's what the experts think, my best guesses and a wild theory that could change digital music consumption for decades:

    • Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm is convinced that Spotify will announce a commercial API that "lets app developers for iOS, Android, and other platforms build - and sell - music apps that  draw on Spotify’s catalog of 15-million-plus songs.
    • Peter Kafka at All ThingsD agrees with Eliot, but admits he can't find anyone to confirm it including the app developers who might logically be the "special guests" that Spotify promised tomorrow.

    These are two smart guys, so they are probably right.  But to make the " big announcement" of "a new direction" worthy of all of this hype, I think there will more tomorrow than just a commercial API.  I'm also expecting one or more of the following:

    • Big partner announcements of major mobile or ISP providers offering Spotify as a bundled and or discounted service. Spotify has done this with Virgin in the UK.
    • Spotify's own US download store. No more sending customers off to iTunes, etc.
    • Ticketing and or other "buy" options powered by new partners.  

    A Wild Theory

    None of the above is all that sexy, but collectively it might qualify as "big".  What's the wild theory that could make major headlines tomorrow?

    In an interview by Eamonn Forde for Music Ally, Jason Herskowitz of the "anti-iTunes" music player Tomahawk theorizes that "Facebook acquires Spotify in an all-stock deal that makes everyone investing in Spotify rich with Facebook stock. And Facebook doesn’t have to pay cash to get the service; they just have to pay for licences."

    That would classify as "BIG".

  • Spotify Rumor Roundup: Here's The Latest Before Today's Big Announcement

    Nov 30

    image from www.google.comSpotify has making a "big announcement" today at 12pm EST/9am PST which they say will mark a "new direction". I'll be live blogging. But until then, here is a roundup of the latest rumors, expert opinions, my own best guesses, a bit of humor and at least one wild theory:

    • Several of the latest rumors center around closer ties with or even purchase of music intelligence provider The EchoNest. Since that company helps power hundreds of apps, that would jive with other theories regarding the launch of a Spotify commercial API.
    • In fact, Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm (a blog funded by The Echo Nest) is convinced that Spotify will announce a commercial API that "lets app developers for iOS, Android, and other platforms build - and sell - music apps that  draw on Spotify’s catalog of 15-million-plus songs.
    • Peter Kafka at All ThingsD agrees, but admits he can't find anyone to confirm it including app developers who might logically be the "special guests" that Spotify promised today.
    • A Spotify web player in conjunction with the API is Janko Roettgers of GigaOm's theory: "Taking Spotify everywhere wouldn’t be half as spectacular if all third-party developers could do was to trigger plays within the app, or direct people to splash pages that ask them to install it. No, the real holy grail would be to actually play Spotify music within third-party apps and sites, with no additional software downloads required."

    But to make this a "big announcement" of "a new direction", I think there will more. I'm also expecting one or more of the following:

    • An iPad App. Hardly a new direction, but overdue.
    • Big partner announcements of major mobile or ISP providers offering Spotify as a bundled and or discounted service. Spotify has done this with Virgin in the UK.
    • Spotify's own US download store. No more sending customers off to iTunes, etc.
    • Ticketing and or other "buy" options powered by new partners.  

    A Wild Theory

    None of the above is all that sexy, but collectively it might qualify as "big".  Here's a wild theory, but not illogical theory would make major headlines:

    In an interview by Eamonn Forde for Music Ally, Jason Herskowitz of the "anti-iTunes" music player Tomahawk theorizes that "Facebook acquires Spotify in an all-stock deal that makes everyone investing in Spotify rich with Facebook stock. And Facebook doesn’t have to pay cash to get the service; they just have to pay for licences." Now, that would classify as "BIG". 

    Tired of all this guessing and ready to laugh?  Stuart Dredge offers: Top 10 Things Spotify Might Announce at its ‘New Direction’ Event.

  • Sonos Adds Slacker, Upgrades Android App, Spotify Controls & Sonos Labs API

    Nov 30

    image from www.sonos.comA collection of 24,342 tracks is close to worthless if they can't be enjoyed at will. Cloud services like iTunes Match, Amazon Cloud and Google Music offer a partial solution, and streaming music provides another. But the last few feet between your music and listener bliss in places like the kitchen or back porch can still be elusive. Providing ubiquitous in-home audio has been Sonos' mission since launch; and a stream of innovation cemented their status as modern in-house audio leaders. (Yes, I know I'm gushing. If you've got a better product, prove it to me.) Here's the latest round of Sonos upgrades:

    • The Slacker music service has joined Rhapsody, Rdio, Pandora and over a dozen other music & audio services on the Sonos music line-up.
    • Spotify gets a serious feature boost providing more control.
    • A new free Sonos controller app for Android tablets is optimized for the larger screen of tablets like the Kindle Fire, Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab.
    • A more robust API. With Sonos 3.6 software, the company is introducing Sonos Labs, a new Beta environment to test music services before they’re officially launched. Media and music service developers can learn more about becoming a Sonos Labs music partner at http://musicpartners.sonos.com.

  • Putting Things in Context

    Nov 30

    Originally posted 2009-09-23 15:06:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

    sellyourself

    Have you ever walked down the street and accidentally evesdropped on someone’s conversation.  You’ve caught 1 sentence in a discussion and what they’ve said makes no sense whatesoever!  But you know, if you could have kept listening or jumped in earlier on the conversation, you’d be on the same page.  This is the same idea behind music marketing.  You’re trying to sell an idea to someone that just hasn’t caught onto it yet.

    Because people like patterns, routines, and categories, they want things to fit into their frame of reference. We naturally compartmentalize thoughts and put certain ideas into certain categories as a way for us to make sense of the world. Even though you might not have it all together (cause nobody does), here are some tips on how to put your music into context so you can better sell yourself.

    Promoting Shows
    A good businessman knows what his competitors are doing so he can be on his best game at all times.  In the same way, a good musician needs to know other events occuring during the time of his/her show and if that will affect the turnout.  It’s also great to know about other events to see how you can use them to your advantage.  During the fall, in certain cities like Pittsburgh, it’s a terrible idea to have a gig on a Sunday afternoon/evening because that’s designated to football :)    On the flipside, it an excellent idea to book a show in any venue on Penn Ave on the first Friday of the month…b/c that’s the monthly Unblurred gallery crawl.

    And don’t forget simple things like mentioning that the venue has a full kitchen and serves food/drinks.  Food always brings more people out. 

    Who You Are
    Don’t tell people you’re completely different and sound like nothing they’ve ever heard before. That’s probably a lie. Everyone sounds like someone to a certain extent. There’s nothing new under the sun. And if you don’t give people something tangeable, they’re not likely to do the extra digging to learn more about you down the line. If you have a sultry voice, campare yourself to Norah Jones.  If you’ve got biting lyrics and  catchy tunes, compare yourself to Connor Oberst. You get the point. Read this post for more thoughts on the matter: The Things You’ll Hate To Do…But Should Do Anyways #2

    Think of it this way: If you’re having a conversation with someone who wants to know what you do, you need to have a real answer.  This won’t fly

    I’m actually a musician. I play the guitar and a few other instruments and my sound is very original. I’m currently working on my website so I don’t have any tunes up just yet, but if you check back in 2 weeks I will.  I’m also working on booking some gigs.

    I’ve overheard statements like this so many times.

    ***Subscribe to Grassrootsy

  • Artspire: Making Crowdfunding Campaigns Tax Deductible, Eligible For Grants

    Nov 29

    ArtspireArtspire is a newly launched crowdfunding platform that takes a  different slant than sites like Kickstarter. A project of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), this a web-based extension of NYFA's fiscal sponsorship program offers fundraising support as well as the ability to accept tax deductible contributions and grants usually restricted to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. It's a useful development for a well-established service that should be considered by musicians with an interest in developing donors and seeking grants.

    Though Artspire has only recently gone public, it is already populated by projects supported by NYFA. The artists and projects accepted for fiscal sponsorship do tend towards fine arts rather than pop culture but when I spoke with NYFA Executive Director Michael L. Royce about Artspire and "The Profitable Artist", he clarified that any artist whose work involved reaching an audience was eligible for participation.

    There are a number of application guidelines that a musician considering their first crowdfunding project might find daunting. In particular, a project must have a minimum budget of $15,000 and a complete project description and budget must be included in one's application.

    However, as Royce pointed out, such requirements help artists think about their expenses for every stage of the project in a thorough manner, rather than playing it by ear and discovering new costs at later stages. In addition, they want to work only with artists who are well enough organized to think through every detail. Given the cost of producing, marketing and distributing such end products as a high quality CD or DVD, a minimum budget of $15k is certainly not an excessive amount to consider.

    Beyond what one can see on the site, the backend is a self-service platform that offers such features as project management, 24/7 banking, bookkeeping and tax services. Clearly Artspire goes beyond taking donations and cutting checks to offer a more complete package to artists.

    In addition to the application guidelines, interested artists should take a close look at the Artists FAQ for such issues as fees and deadlines for application. Keep in mind that participation is also open to Emerging Organizations and, given that Artspire offers free guidance and support, it would be an excellent vehicle for launching, for example, a community-based music program.

    To some degree, Artspire solves the problem of projects like Patronopolis, that have previously turned to such organizations as Fractured Atlas for fiscal sponsorship and IndieGoGo for crowdfunding. For well-organized musicians who feel that fiscal sponsorship is a benefit worth pursuing, then Artspire is definitely worth considering.

    Related Hypebot Coverage: The Profitable Artist: A Handbook For Turning Your Art Into A Career

    Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and blogs at All World Dance and This Business of Blogging. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

  • What To Expect At Tomorrow's Big Spotify Announcement

    Nov 29

    image from www.hypebot.com(UPDATED) We'll be live blogging Spotify's promised a "big announcement" tommorrow (11/30) at 12pm EST / 9am PST. The company says it is taking a "new direction". But aside from CEO Daniel Ek hosting along with some "special guests", no other details are being provided. That hasn't kept the pundits from making educated guesses. Here's what the experts think, my best guesses and a wild theory that could change digital music consumption for decades:

    • Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm is convinced that Spotify will announce a commercial API that "lets app developers for iOS, Android, and other platforms build - and sell - music apps that  draw on Spotify’s catalog of 15-million-plus songs.
    • Peter Kafka at All ThingsD agrees with Eliot, but admits he can't find anyone to confirm it including the app developers who might logically be the "special guests" that Spotify promised tomorrow.

    These are two smart guys, so they are probably right.  But to make the " big announcement" of "a new direction" worthy of all of this hype, I think there will more tomorrow than just a commercial API.  I'm also expecting one or more of the following:

    • Big partner announcements of major mobile or ISP providers offering Spotify as a bundled and or discounted service. Spotify has done this with Virgin in the UK.
    • Spotify's own US download store. No more sending customers off to iTunes, etc.
    • Ticketing and or other "buy" options powered by new partners.  

    A Wild Theory

    None of the above is all that sexy, but collectively it might qualify as "big".  What's the wild theory that could make major headlines tomorrow?

    In an interview by Stuart Drudge for Music Ally, Jason Herskowitz of the "anti-iTunes" music player Tomahawk theorizes that "Facebook acquires Spotify in an all-stock deal that makes everyone investing in Spotify rich with Facebook stock. And Facebook doesn’t have to pay cash to get the service; they just have to pay for licences."

    That would classify as "BIG".

  • Free Webinar For Hypebot Readers: Holiday Music Marketing & The New Digital Consumer

    Nov 29

    image from www.google.comYou define your target consumer, and then you plan your marketing campaign to reach them. This holiday season, however, the market has become more fragmented. NARM and eMusic are offering a webinar this Thursday December 1st sharing insights into the new music marketing landscape. Hypebot readers get in free.

    This webinar offers an understanding of the digital music consumer breakdown and insights learned from third party research conducted by eMusic. It will take a look at some of the holiday's biggest trends for the digital music industry, and how they will affect specific consumer segments.

    You can register here.  Hypebot readers get in free using the code: webinar-100

    What webinars would you like to see in 2012?

    NARM has issued a Call For Presentations to be presented by NARM and digitalmusic.org in 2012 If you have anything that you'd like to see explore or a program that you'd like to present, contact NARM here.