October Industry Wrap-Up

Spotify Adds Playlist Pitching Options, Partners With Google & Launches New App


October was a busy month for Spotify! They’ve announced some recent updates that impact fans, labels and artists. For music fans who use Google and Android smart devices, an advanced partnership now allows Spotify subscribers to use voice command control of the app using  Google Assistant. Formerly relegated to Google Home smart-speakers, this marks a move towards Google’s acceptance of Spotify’s high subscription rate and putting it front-of-mind when updating its mobile offerings. While Andorid users can rejoice in their ability to say “OK Google, Play Spotify”, Music Ally points out that the tech giant may still be leaning toward YouTube being the lead music brand for Google going forward, as it merges with Google Play.”

For independent labels, pitching for slots on playlists and Spotify’s ‘Browse’ section can be as difficult for those without representation. There also remains an internal struggle between the promotion of label playlists and Spotify’s own in-house playlists. As such, Spotify has moved to offer a new system for indie labels aimed at giving their artists a better shot at making it onto playlists while also (ideally) giving labels’ playlists “a better chance of building an audience on Spotify.” Read more about the pitching system here, and as indie artists, keep your eyes out for more transparent pitching opportunities in the future!

Finally, as creators are concerned, Spotify launched it’s “Spotify For Artists” app on iOS. We’ve talked about the “Spotify For Artists” app on the Blog before, so it’s exciting to see such a helpful tool being offered to artists right in their pocket. An Android version is soon to follow, but for now, indie artists with iOS devices can edit their bios and their ‘artist’s pick’, as well as update their playlists and keep an eye on their listener analytics.

2017 On-Demand Streams Soar in the U.S.


We know, even though it feels like time is flying, the year isn’t over yet. But as a digital music distributor serving independent artists with the opportunity to make their music available on dozens and dozens of digital streaming platforms, we can’t help but get excited about figures like this: on-demand audio and video streams are up 40.5% in the U.S. so far in 2017

At 442.44 billion streams so far, MusicAlly once again provides a helpful comparison that shows that this year, eight tracks have already toppled last year’s most-streamed track, “Panda” by Desiigner, in the comparative window of time.

While the top artists being streamed are no doubt most of the big-timers you’d expect to see leading the way, it’s important as ever to look at these types of figures as an overall shift toward the trend of streaming. Once a consumption method for the ‘active’ music listener, more and more subscribers means more and more music discovery. With direct access to these platforms, it puts independent artists in a good position to be marketing their releases across fans’ preferred channels for streaming.

BandsInTown Announces “Big Break” Platform For Emerging Artists


BandsInTown – if you don’t already know (and you should) – is a popular app aimed at helping artists promote their concerts/tour dates and helping fans keep track of when all their favorite performers will be playing locally. In addition to helping fans discover new artists by offering concert dates for bands they don’t already follow on Facebook via a “listen-if-you-like” style algorithm, BandsInTown is launching their “Big Break” platform in an effort to promote new independent artists.

The new feature “highlights everything you need to know about the fresh faces turning the industry upside down. From the secrets behind their viral tracks to their big plans for the future…”, supported by a series on their blog. BandsInTown will select 50 artists in order to grow their ‘trackers’ following from 500 to 5,000.
This is a very cool step towards further connecting indie artists with new and potential fans. The app is already right up any diehard music fan’s alley in terms of keeping up with their favorite acts’ performing schedules – even for local artists. Head on over to their blog to learn more about the platform and how to keep up with the opportunities coming from the app down the road.

October News From Our Store Partners

By Stefanie Flamm

As everyone ramps up for the music industry’s busiest time of the year, both our store partners and the music publishing world at large have some exciting new updates:

  • Amazon amplifies their existing digital music platform with a brand new streaming service, specially designed to work with their Echo devices.
  • Kesha has dozens of releases in limbo as her legal battle with Sony and Dr. Luke continues.
  • Spotify defends their “freemium” price tier in the face of criticism from competitors and publishers.
  • The upcoming US election is more important than ever for songwriters and music publishers.

Amazon’s long-anticipated interactive streaming service has finally launched this month.


Yet another streaming competitor takes to the stage this month with the launch of Amazon Unlimited, an on-demand music streaming service developed to work in tandem with Amazon Prime. This service has been a long time coming, as Amazon launched Prime streaming for select releases on the Amazon Digital Music store a few years ago, but Prime and Amazon Echo loyalists have been especially excited for Unlimited’s launch.

Amazon is also posing a strong threat to other services like Apple Music, Spotify, and TIDAL. While Amazon Unlimited is priced at $9.99 /mo for its base-tier users, the pricing goes down to $7.99 /mo for Prime users, and even more for owners of Amazon Echo ($3.99 /mo).

The Amazon Echo also brings another potential advantage to Amazon over its competitors. While the new iPhone design will eventually render your $10 headphones useless, Amazon Unlimited is currently the only streaming service to offer a complementary listening device, integrated with their service right out of the box.

“The first phase of [streaming] growth was driven almost entirely by smartphones,” said Amazon Music VP Steve Boom. “We believe pretty strongly that the next phase of growth in streaming is going to come from the home.”

Amazon might seem a little late to the party, with Apple Music and Spotify both quickly becoming unstoppable Goliaths of music streaming, but Amazon does bring a fair share of weight with its new product. After all, it does have the unique advantage of being associated with the widely popular Amazon Prime. For the 63 million people already using Amazon Prime, the extra $2 a month savings may be worth it to make the switch over to Unlimited.

With their widely-anticipated launch, and exclusive streaming deals coming down the pipeline, it looks like Amazon Unlimited has already hit the ground running.

Kesha and Dr. Luke are back in the news with recent updates on their legal battle.


In recent weeks, the NY Times has pointed its spotlight back on the contentious lawsuit between Kesha and Dr. Luke. While the story has been in the news for some time now, their coverage has reignited a debate about one of the industry’s most complicated litigations to date.

For the last two years, pop star Kesha Rose Sebert (popularly known as Kesha) has been buried in an exhaustive legal battle with both Sony and her producer Dr. Luke (né Lukasz Gottwald) over the restrictiveness of her contracts. You may remember the #freekesha hashtag trending on Twitter a few months ago, when Kesha and Dr. Luke met in NY State courts to fight for Kesha’s right to abandon her contracts. And while this is one of countless lawsuits that have stemmed from artists being locked into governing contracts with their record labels, Kesha’s current struggle stands out.

Back in 2014, Kesha sued Sony and their subsidiary Kemosabe Records, asking to be released from the many contracts that obligated her to work with Kemosabe’s CEO and lead producer Dr. Luke. Dr. Luke is one of the biggest producers in pop music today, boasting a producer credit on works from Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry (to name a few). Kesha is under several contracts that bind her to working with Dr. Luke, including that he produce six songs on every album she releases. Her reasoning behind this request is that Dr. Luke has allegedly been emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive to her.

“I cannot work with this monster,” Kesha wrote in an affidavit in 2015. “I physically cannot. I don’t feel safe in any way.”

In February of this year, NY State courts denied Kesha’s request for a judicial order that would end Kesha’s legally-binding professional relationship with Dr. Luke. Two months later, the same NY State judge determined not to pursue the claims further, due to reasons including Kesha’s sexual assault claims having passed the statute of limitations, lack of evidence, and Kesha’s claims that the sexual assault was a hate crime. Dr. Luke is now pursuing a countersuit for defamation, which is currently awaiting trial.

And that brings us to now. Kesha’s career has been at a standstill since she first took legal action against Dr. Luke, and as she has lost her case in both New York and California, there is no end in sight. In that time, Kesha has written more than 20 songs that she is legally forbidden from distributing without the permission of Dr. Luke.

“Kesha has been trying for six months to record and release new music,” Kesha’s attorney said in a statement. “Kesha still has received no commitments on promotion, songs or even a release date. We hope things turn around fast.”

It’s an extremely tricky situation for both parties, who refuse to budge on their initial stance. Dr. Luke’s reputation has been badly damaged, resulting in backlash from fans and low charting numbers. But it looks as if either of them dropping their cases would give the public the impression that they are admitting defeat or accepting responsibility, so for the time being Kesha is caught between a rock and a hard place.

Disputes like this are a great example of why it’s increasingly common for artists to choose independent distribution over foregoing their rights to a label. And like many artists who’ve been in a similar predicament (Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Prince, etc.), we’re likely to see Kesha insisting on a lot more control of her music once this situation is resolved.

Check out the NY Times podcast for more detailed information on the dispute.

Spotify’s Global Head of Creator Services goes on record to defend their services “freemium” price tier.


As music streaming becomes more and more popular for listeners worldwide, the biggest names in the industry have wide range of subscription models. While they are all fairly similar in terms of price, the way each store specifically shapes their subscription tiers and terms of use is unique. Especially as each new streaming service comes onto the market, it’s hard to ignore how much the subscription model dictates the culture behind each service.

For example, TIDAL and Apple Music are both available only to paying subscribers. The exclusivity of their service to those listeners who are willing to shell out as much as $19.99 a month has spawned a congruent exclusivity of their product. Beyoncé, Drake, Nicki Minaj, etc. have forgone more popular streaming services in the name of exclusivity.

The catalyst for this exclusivity? Freemium price tiers.

“Freemium” refers to a pricing model in which consumers can use a service for free, as long as they listen to periodic ad placement. The eventual hope is that they will become a paid subscriber, in exchange for removing the ads and adding additional features. It’s pretty simple: the store has to make money for both profit and royalty payments, so they earn that either through ads or through customer subscription payments. Freemium is separate from 30-day trials, which most subscription-only models offer before either billing you or locking you out of the service.

Freemium has received a lot of flack over the years because it’s said to lower per-stream payouts. “Consumers are blissfully ignorant, mostly content to endure a few ads to listen to unlimited free music,” said Taylor Hatmaker for The Kernel. “Considering how many people are sharing the pie, the ad-supported ‘free’ streaming model remain a bonkers excuse for a business plan, no matter how you slice it.”

Ask a lot of people in the industry, and freemium streaming is a bad idea. But in spite of that, Spotify stands firm that they will retain their free pricing tier for the foreseeable future.

From Spotify’s point of view, the advantage to a free pricing tier is clear: afford more listeners an opportunity to hear your music, and the royalty difference will balance itself out in ticket and merch sales. Unfortunately, since the era of pirating began, people don’t like to pay for music, and Spotify’s defense is a way of making lemonade out of 55 million lemons.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to get to a world where everybody on the planet is going to pay for music,” Spofit exec Troy Carter said. “[A freemium user] may never convert to a paid subscriber…but they’ll be able to afford a concert ticket, they’ll be able to afford a t-shirt.”

In spite of criticism, Spotify doesn’t stand alone in this fight for free, ad-supported streaming. Martin Mills, Co-Founder of Beggars Group, stood behind Spotify’s pricing model, saying, “The use of free [price tiers] to transition fans from piracy to monetised has clearly been a success – very visibly so in markets particularly challenged by piracy. And the industry would be insane to throw that away right now.”

Streaming is still very new territory for the music industry, and while there are obvious flaws to the free price tier, freemium pricing still has its merits. And whatever you think of this, at the very least you can continue to stream the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to your heart’s content, free of charge.

In the wake of the most heated US Presidential election in history, music publishers and songwriters are more eager for Congressional reform.


As we draw ever closer to November 8th, it feels like all anyone in the US can talk about is the upcoming election. With two controversial candidates at the top of the ticket, tensions are high with talk of the future of the country.

However, for music publishers and songwriters, there’s far more to their ballots than just Trump versus Clinton. With over 450 Congressional seats up for grabs this year between the House and Senate, folks in the music industry are focusing their efforts on reshaping the Legislative branch.

As far back as the Clinton Administration, publishers have been advocating for policy reform to accommodate the digitization of music. In 1996, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed as an effort to reinvigorate some seriously out-of-date legislation, but this was only a tiny push in the right direction. The last time any major music royalty legislation was passed, we were still in the throes of World War II, so publishers and songwriters have justifiably been frustrated with the slow progression of licensing and royalty reform on the side of Congress.

For publishers, this election is an opportunity to win on several fronts, all surrounded by this outdated legislation. “Music creators today face extreme hurdles in their ability to seek a fair value for their work thanks to music licensing laws that have not kept pace with the advent of new technologies,” said ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews. “We need to modernise the 75-year old consent decrees that govern how ASCAP and BMI operate to ensure a strong collective licensing system. We need a set of laws that give the PROs and our songwriter, composer and music publisher members more flexibility to adjust to wherever the marketplace takes us.”

It may seem like there are bigger fish to fry in today’s political climate, but music copyright reform can’t change without the help of legislative support.

Want to do your part to help sway the US Legislative branch in favor of copyright reform? Check out the platforms for the Congressional nominees in your state here.

For assistance collecting 13 different royalties from around the world, check out TuneCore Publishing Administration.

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September News From Our Store Partners

By Stefanie Flamm

Streaming isn’t going away anytime soon, and it seems like all of our store partners have been stepping up their game to better accommodate the rapidly-evolving music streaming industry:

  • Spotify shatters previous streaming records with 40 million active subscribers.
  • Apple Music gets a makeover in the wake of the iPhone 7 and iOS 10 launches.
  • Pop stars come in droves to perform at iHeartRadio’s Music Festival in Las Vegas.

Spotify celebrates the end of their third quarter with a massive 40 million subscribers.


Spotify broke both a personal and global record earlier this month by racking up an active subscriber count of 40 million users.

spotifyOn September 14th, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek tweeted a cool, “40 is the new 30. Million. (smiley face emoji)” to announce the good news officially. The “30” he’s referring to is the 30 million active subscribers they announced back in March of this year, meaning they’ve increased their listenership by a whopping 25% in six months.

These seriously impressive numbers can be attributed to a number of factors. While Spotify may not have the leg-up on exclusive content that Apple Music and TIDAL have, Spotify’s Discovery algorithm has become the bread-and-butter of their streaming service since they launched it in summer 2015. Acknowledging their immediate popularity, Spotify’s next move was to increase the accessibility for new music recommendations, and now users can add similar tracks to an existing playlist, or even immediately create a similar version of a complete playlist.

Competitors have been jumping on the bandwagon, each offering their own brand of new music discovery. But the numbers make it obvious that, for now, users prefer Spotify’s experience to some of their other competitors. Apple Music is currently boasting a listenership of 17 million, with TIDAL far behind at 3 million active listeners as of March 2016.

A huge congratulations to Spotify!

Apple Music gets some major touch-ups on iOS 10, including competitive algorithms for new music recommendations.


Tech gurus, developers, and especially owners of the 1 billion active Apple products worldwide have come to expect a big show every September at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Since the launch of the iMac in 1998, Apple has treated the WWDC like a tech-savvy Christmas, rolling out the newest versions of their products, and convincing the world that we all need the latest and greatest products that Apple has to offer. So it should come as no surprise that this year’s WWDC brought some major changes to the future of the iPhone and Apple Music listener experience.

Apple introduced a total external overhaul of the iPhone, with the apple-musiciPhone 7 devoid of a headphone jack (welcome to a future of losing Airpods!). In addition to giving users an excuse to finally buy the bluetooth Beats headphones they’ve been eyeing, Apple Music got a makeover to improve user experience.

Jumping on the success of Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlists, Apple Music for iOS 10 includes a My New Music playlist that will update with fresh recommendations every week. Unlike Spotify, which updates every Monday, Apple Music’s My New Music will update on Fridays to coincide with New Music Friday. Where Spotify has Discover Weekly and Release Radar playlists, My New Music should kill two birds with one stone and offer users a playlist packed with new music.

Apple Music will also offer a My Favorites Mix, updated every Wednesday, complete with a blend of the user’s most-streamed songs, side-by-side with new music similar to the aforementioned tracks. My Favorites Mix was designed as a gentler way to ease into new music, versus digesting a playlist comprised entirely of unfamiliar songs.

It’s too early to see if this update will bring more users into the Apple Music camp, but it’s certainly a cool update for existing Apple Music subscribers.

iHeartRadio packs their La Vegas Music Festival with some of the top music acts, including Britney Spears and Ariana Grande.


Las Vegas was abound with pop stars last weekend for the iHeartRadio Music Festival, a two-day festival bringing together some of the most popular musicians in the US for a power-packed weekend.

iheartradio90’s nostalgic millennials were in heaven with performances from both Backstreet Boys, who who used the festival to announce their Las Vegas residency, and a blowout set by Britney Spears. Both groups performed a combination of throwback favorites, as well as some newer music. Usher, Lil Jon, and Ludacris also came out for a performance of “Yeah” that left the crowd wanting more of their favorite early 2000’s goodness.

The lineup didn’t stop there, as sets from Miley Cyrus, Drake, Sia, and Ariana Grande filled the two-day event at the T-Mobile Arena. Performing alongside Billy Idol, Miley told the audience, “It’s f**king good to be back.”

Christina Grimmie, who was shot and killed at her own concert earlier this year, was remembered in a memorial on the second night of the festival.

With the service’s recent five year anniversary, their reaching 90 millions registered users, and a potential Spotify-rival in the works, 2016 has turned out to be an excellent year for iHeartRadio, and the music festival seems like the perfect way to celebrate their success this year.

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NEW STORE ALERT: Kuack Media Group

Here at TuneCore, we’re always keeping our eyes and ears out for new, exciting streaming services and digital music stores to offer independent artists access to. As the way in which consumers all over the world choose to listen to and discover new music evolves, we too must evolve to help creators reach new fans in different places.

With that in mind, we’re excited to announce that TuneCore is officially distributing music to Kuack Media Group. Kuack Media Group is the market leader streaming service for mobile telecommunication companies in Latin America and the Caribbean.

That means music fans who have mobile service from Virgin Mobile Colombia, Digicel, Kolbi Costa Rica or Viva Bolivia and subscribe to either “Premium” or “Top” tiers in territories like Colombia, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Anguilla, Aruba, Barbados, El Salvador, and more will have access to your music when you distribute to Kuack Media Group.

For those less familiar with mobile services like those mentioned above, let’s just put it into perspective for you: across all four mentioned, there are over 19 million mobile subscribers combined – all of whom have easy access to Kuack Media Group’s respective platforms as a convenient streaming subscription service option.

As far as the subscriptions go, artists can rest assured that they’ll be paid for streams whether fans prefer Premium (unlimited streaming, conditional downloads, playlist creation, & more) or Top (access to a Top 40 Chart and rotating playlists which can be downloaded conditionally as well) tiers. Even cooler? Kuack Media prides itself on promoting independent artists!

If you’re interested in getting your music in front of more Latin American and Caribbean music fans, head over to your Store Manager and add  your music to Kuack Media Group.

Not a TuneCore Artist yet? Sign up for your free account today and get your music distributed to all of our awesome digital store partners.

Store Update: Rhapsody is Now 'Napster'

If you were born before the late 80s or early 90s, the word ‘Napster‘ is synonymous with completely disrupting the way anyone with access to a computer equipped with dial-up Internet service could consume music.

Sketchy song titles, people mixing up  artists like “Soft Cell” and “The Clash”, slow downloads, and the first-ever DIY ‘mix CDs’ once those ‘burners’ came long – to music lovers who felt, rightly or wrongly, that they’d been subjected to overpaying for albums for the past five years, it was a welcome, hands-on process.

But even younger music fans and creators remember what would come next for Napster. (Read: Confusion, fear, and some wealthy artists taking legal action…catch up here.)

A Web 2.0 relic that laid the foundation for a wave of music piracy while simultaneously inspiring the future of digital music consumption, the Napster brand was ultimately bought by Rhapsody – a popular music streaming platform that TuneCore has proudly distributed independent artists’ music to for years – in 2011.

‘Why?’ people wondered, ‘What are they gonna do with that?’

Well, yesterday Rhapsody has announced that it is rebranding as Napster in the U.S. They had already been using the Napster brand in other countries. The company said:

“Rhapsody is becoming Napster. No changes to your playlists, favorites, albums, and artists. Same music. Same service. Same price. 100% the music you love. Stay tuned!”

While we’re not sure exactly what’s next for the brand, we’re excited to continue calling them our partner! As they suggest, stay tuned – we’ll be sure to keep you updated on any developing details.

Rhapster
Photo c/o GadgetPipeline.com

If you’re a TuneCore Artist who doesn’t yet distribute to Rhaps—er, Napster, head over to your Store Manager and add your music today! Remember, any connotations you had with Napster can be shaken off, as it’s functioning as a totally legal streaming service on the main stage helping artists earn revenue – and we’re psyched to be partnered with them.

March News From Our Store Partners

By Dwight Brown

It’s spring. It’s a time for growth. Change is in the air at our digital stores.

  • New Google Play Music app adds YouTube video search.
  • CÜR streaming launches and targets the tech savvy crowd.
  • Spotify finds a new way to highlight emerging artists.
  • Rhapsody is growing faster than daisies on a spring lawn.

New update pairs YouTube videos. New desktop app saves time.


YouTube-logo-full_color copyA new update to the Google Music app will allow users to search for YouTube videos from within the app, reports Radio & Internet News. The upgrade will only show music-related video hits, such as clips with official audio or a cover of a track. In version 6.4 of the app, video results will appear for all users, including paying listeners and non-subscribers. This comes as other streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal) are also sticking their toes in the video content waters.

In other Google Music news, Huffington Post notes that an updated version of Google Play Music Desktop Player, a third-party app, has launched for Mac and Linux, making listening to the service a smoother desktop experience. Music fans no longer have to open a tab on a web browser to listen to their favorite music. They can use media keys to navigate tracks, utilize voice controls and custom hotkeys, and use less memory.

Well-connected, interactive music fans get a new playground.


CÜR Music launched after a successful round of funding that put cur_logo_blue copy$1.75m in their coffers. Radio & Internet News states that late in 2015, the streaming service was billing itself as “a social, mobile and web streaming music application.” In 2016, CÜR’s identity has been fine-tuned to “a mix of internet radio, expertly curated stations and your own playlists all-in-one.”

A CÜR rep lauded other compelling features: “A ‘CÜR8’ profile allows a select number of on-demand songs that the individual can change daily. Listeners will be able to personalize their experience with photos and videos, as well as sending songs to their friends.” For artists who create their own CÜR8 profile, there is a clear opportunity to showcase songs, interact with fans and send messages. Luckily for everyone, sharing works in both directions.

Spotify shines a new light on emerging, undiscovered artists.


spotifySpotify’s new Fresh Finds playlist is a hybrid of human curation and data-driven algorithms designed to bring music fans the best from both types of playlist creators. Spotify’s programmers will follow blogs and music sites to scout out the latest new talent and use data from listeners that have been identified as tastemakers. Their searches are designed to break the next big act, says Radio & Internet News.

“By analyzing the listening behavior of our top tastemaker users, we’re able to predict new breakout artists and filter their hits-to-be into playlists with the most promising new music out there,” says Dr. Brian Whitman, Spotify’s principal scientist.

Music Business Worldwide lists the five Fresh Finds genre categories: Fire Emoji (hip-hop), Basement (electronic), Hiptronix (vocal pop), Six Strings (guitar driven) and Cyclone (experimental). A new door is opening for emerging TuneCore Artists who want to reach Spotify’s 100m users, 30m of which are now paid subscribers.

Rhapsody now in 34 countries. Subscriber base grows 45% in 12 months.


Rhapsody and TuneCore go way back. It was one of our first digitalrhapsody928 music stores. Back in the day, it was the first streaming service to make it possible to share full-length, licensed songs on twitter using Audio Card. Now it’s stepped up its game big time: 3.5m global subscribers. A presence in 34 countries. A 45% growth in less than 12 months. Additionally, in 2015, it refreshed its core app experience.

2016 comes along, and now gamers can stream music from Rhapsody through their Wii U console, via a free app from the Nintendo eShop. Rhapsody subscribers with Wii U systems can begin listening immediately and Wii U owners who aren’t yet Rhapsody or Napster subscribers can sign up for a 30-day free trial. Game on.

Thanks to a new partnership with BandPage, music fans who are rocking out to a favorite artist on Rhapsody’s mobile app can receive push notifications on their phone that indicate when that artist is playing a gig nearby. There are even links to purchase tickets via third party services. The new feature is available on Android, with support for iOS coming soon.

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It’s springtime 2016, and digital stores are blooming with fresh ideas for our artists. Spring forward.

TuneCore Artists — Add your music to new stores today.

Not a TuneCore Artists yet? — Join TuneCore today.