Recap: TuneCore at the 2016 Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival

The borough of Brooklyn and the genre of hip hop are two things that we here at TuneCore have a whole lot of love for. So when we were invited to participate in the 2016 Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, you can bet we were all over it.

Celebrating it’s 12th year in a row, the multi-faceted festival takes place over four days, with the daily events being The Hip Hop Institute, The Dummy Clap Film Festival, The Juice Hip Hop Exhibition, and closes out with a big bang at the Finale Concert. This year’s Finale included Nas (featuring the Soul Rebels), Rhapsody, Fabolous, Talib Kweli and others.

Brooklyn Hip Hop Fest

Our Senior Director of Artist Relations Chris Mooney was invited to sit on the panel alongside Ibrahim H. ( Dreamville Records) and Hovain (Troy Ave’s Manager) to talk “Independence in Hip Hop” at Medgar Evers College. Moderated by Wes Jackson (Brooklyn Bodega – presenters of the festival), the panelists discussed and  answered questions about music career foundations, getting your music featured in stores and placed on playlists, and at times, TuneCore.

It was an honor to be able to connect with a crowd full of talented up-and-coming artists, producers and entrepreneurs right in our backyard.

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To make the music distribution circle complete, we went from hanging with artists to hanging with one of our awesome digital store partners. On Saturday, TuneCore staff were helping to hold down the Tidal Tent at Brooklyn Bridge Park from 11am through the last song performed onstage.

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Despite a brief rain scare, the day was gorgeous and hip hop fans were everywhere. TuneCore Artist Taylor Bennett was rocking in the St. Ann’s Warehouse and the main stage was bringing the heat, showcasing artists like Rhapsody and Rob Swift. By the time Talib was set to perform, a good sized crowd had packed the fest.

Native Fabolous was showing love the Brooklyn way, bringing up guests like Smiff n Wessun, and Nas capped off the evening perfectly with the amazing Soul Rebels backing him up. To top it off, Tidal was streaming the whole thing live online.

Positive vibes, great food, and amazing hip hop – classic and fresh – made for a pretty epic blowout. A big thanks to the festival’s organizers and Brooklyn Bodega, as well as our friends at Tidal – it was definitely a highlight of our summer.

We’re already excited for next year. Take a look at some pics snapped by TuneCore staffers below.

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.

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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.

May News From Our Store Partners

By Stefanie Flamm

You can finally put away your winter coat and grab your shades, because summer is upon us and a lot of exciting things are going on with our digital store partners.

  • Rhapsody launches virtual reality streaming of exclusive live performances.
  • Spotify updates their subscription plan to compete with Apple Music and Google Play.
  • Guvera launches 3.0, making their app an immersive music and entertainment hub for users around the world.
  • Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book sets new records, Apple Music’s exclusivity reigns supreme.

Keep Reading!

Rhapsody VR changes the game for live concert streaming


Rhapsody just took a huge leap into the world of virtual reality with their new streaming service, Rhapsody VR. The service is the first of its kind, designed specifically for music and concentrating on exclusive, 360º coverage of live concerts.

While other streaming services are offering similar live concertrhapsody928 footage on their platforms, Rhapsody VR is unique in its interactive 360º coverage. Shot onstage, right beside the performers, the viewer can choose their own concert experience. And while the service is most compatible with Google Cardboard viewers, you can also watch on iOS or Android devices directly through the Rhapsody VR app. You can even sample the VR service on YouTube with TuneCore artist Talib Kweli’s “Get By”.

Rhapsody is excited about the future of VR, and expects that it will become increasingly popular in the music scene in years to come. “Music lovers around the world can experience a live concert for free from anywhere — the comfort of their home, their local watering hole, or wherever they have a cellular or WiFi connection,” Rhapsody shared in a statement from May 19th. “Musicians can share live performances with more fans… expanding their base of listeners and sharing more music with the world.”

With Rhapsody’s plan to release new content monthly, it will be exciting to see how VR influences the concert-going experience in the future.

Spotify goes head-to-head with Apple Music and Google Play with new family pricing model


Spotify has decided to give Apple Music and Google Play a run for their money when they announced their new Family Subscription Plan on May 23rd.

spotify300The pricing models for all three services are now identical, with individual accounts priced at $9.99/mo. and $14.99/mo. for up to six users. This is a big change from Spotify’s old pricing model, which could cost up to $29.99 for five users.

In the wake of millions of users subscribing to Apple Music and TiDAL for their exclusive content, matching the pricing models of these streaming services will be crucial to Spotify’s success.

The new family plan covers up to six users across the world, and existing accounts will remain intact and separate, keeping user content personal. Spotify is partnering this deal with an individual new-customer offer of $9.99 for 3 months of premium service.

It’s already looking like the new pricing will entice some fresh subscribers, and more subscribers may result in a higher per stream payout for independent artists.

Guvera launches their new platform, providing a comprehensive music experience for their users.


Guvera’s commitment has always been to connect brands and consumers through music and entertainment, and they took this mission one step further this month by introducing Guvera 3.0.

The re-launch of their service is marketed as a “new immersive music and entertainment platform” where brands can connect with consumers through Music Channels and Guvera’s new Social features.

The streaming service offers genre and mood-specific channels, as guvera1well as an opportunity for brands to offer exclusive content on their own channels. Channels can feature customized content including video, photos, blog content, and even competitions hosted by the brands themselves.

Guvera Social will offer brands an opportunity to connect with consumers through targeted updates, exclusive offers, and content sharing. With this service, brands can even make music recommendations to their consumers.

In their May 14th announcement, Guvera Head of Product, Robb Snell, is quoted, “…it’s all about discovery; discovery of a brand’s music recommendations, products and services all presented by a range of diverse content. Our Channels shine a spotlight on the underlying culture that drives artists and delivers a more immersive entertainment experience for our listeners to engage with the brands they love, when and how they want to.”

Chance the Rapper’s new album proves that Apple Music exclusivity is working for the store.


Chance the Rapper made history this month by releasing the first album to score a top 10 debut charting based solely on streaming.

apple-musicColoring Book has already collected over 57.3 million streams since its May 13th release date, ranking it #8 on the Billboard 200 album charts. Chance also made an impact on the Billboard Hot 100, with “No Problem (feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz)” coming in at #86 and “Blessings” taking home #93 on the charts.

After Drake’s resounding success with his Apple Music-exclusive release of Views in April, Coloring Book is proving to be another huge win for the store. Apple Music has brought in over 2 million subscribers since February, undoubtedly related to the collective success of Views and Coloring Book. And while Coloring Book was made available on Spotify, Rhapsody, Deezer, TiDAL, and Google Play as of May 27th, the two-week exclusive was a big success for Apple Music.

TiDAL and Apple Music have both used exclusive streaming content to give their stores an edge, but the Billboard success of Coloring Book is a victory on the side of Apple Music.

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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.

September News From Our Store Partners

By Dwight Brown

It’s September. Back to school. Back to work. Back to the business of selling music.

For artists who want to get their releases sold worldwide, it’s time to leave that summer daze behind, and follow the innovative steps digital stores are taking to become more competitive, get music discovered and help artists increase fan engagement.

Google Play Music launched in Japan, a country that has been reluctant to jump into the music streaming pool. Google Play Music follows in the footsteps of Apple Music, but makes inroads in the Google_Play_logoworld’s second-largest music market before Spotify can get a foothold. Billboard reports the new streaming service is available for Google’s Android operating system and Apple’s iOS mobile operating system.

Transitioning from CDs to downloads and from downloads to streaming has been slow going in Japan. But the country’s music subscription market grew 43 percent in the first half of the year, according to the Recording Industry Association of Japan. Both Google and Apple are competing in the emerging Japanese streaming market against LINE, which added a music subscription service to its popular messaging app, and AWA, a joint venture between CyberAgent and Avex Group Holdings, owner of the Japenese music imprint Avex Trax. All subscription services currently available in Japan are paid-only services. Now is a perfect time for artists to hook their music up with Google Play.

Shazam has opened its Verified Program To All Artists on Shazam. Originally only 200 well-known artists, like Pharrell, David Guetta shazam928and Sam Smith, could easily share what they’d Shazamed with their followers. Now all artists who sign up with Shazam can create a closer connection with the people who love their music.

A Hypebot.com article reveals that the granddaddy of music recognition apps announced that its verified artist community has achieved a combined reach of 1.4 billion followers. Peter Szabo, SVP, Head of Music, Shazam details their strategy, “We are creating an engagement that goes beyond a playlist or a recommendation. It’s an organic, one-of-a-kind connection between millions of fans and the artists they love.” Artists can sign up to be a Verified Shazam Artist hereThe verification process is pretty simple and opens up great opportunities for artists to engage music lovers.

Rhapsody and BandPage (a digital platform/website with 500,000+ musician profiles) have entered a partnership designed to increase engagement. Billboard reports that the first round of data to come from the partnership — which uses information about listener’ favorite artists to target and deliver push notifications to their phones — could be a new way for artists to generate revenue in the digital streaming industry.

The push notifications alert “super fans” about concerts and “special experiences” like meet-and-greets, and generate a much higher rhapsody928click-through rate (CTR) than Google search ads and Facebook posts. Greg Spils, Rhapsody senior director of Traffic & Demand, notes that the company saw a 50 percent higher engagement rate with this type of messaging.  For example, when a music fan is streaming an artist’s music, a pop-up appears while the fan is in the moment. It’s a new way artists can reach fans, grow their fan base and increase revenue. All aboard Rhapsody.