Music Business Worldwide

Music Business Worldwide

Music Business Worldwide (MBW) is the leading information and jobs service for the global music industry. It publishes two podcasts: The weekly series, Talking Trends – which dives behind the biggest headlines in the music industry – as well as The MBW Podcast, which sees us interview some of the leading figures in the global business. read less

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As ChatGPT sets the internet aflame, will AI write the lyrics of tomorrow's hits?
4d ago
As ChatGPT sets the internet aflame, will AI write the lyrics of tomorrow's hits?
Welcome to the Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music. On this episode, MBW founder Tim Ingham speaks to AI expert, and the CEO of LyricStudio, Dr. Maya Ackerman.------Bloody Elon Musk. Not content with doing beastly things to Twitter (like, erm, marginally improving the user experience), he's also triggered the actual beginning of the actual end of the world. Well, not directly. But Musk was one of the co-founders and funders of San Francisco-headquartered OpenAI, which is the progenitor of ChatGPT – the AI-powered online tool that can not only research and regurgitate online facts, but also weave that regurgitation in a variety of generated tones and styles. Some tech experts are so impressed with ChatGPT, they say, in just a few more iterations, it will become a serious challenger to (and perhaps even surpass the usefulness of) Google, and turn the business of online search upside down. (The next chapter in this sci-fi novel: ChatGPT gains sentience, turns our own long-trusted devices against us, and subjugates the human race. But that's probably still a few years away, so chill out, and, as Warren Zevon famously recommended, Enjoy every sandwich.)The music industry is actually a little ahead of the curve on this topic. Because language-based 'generative AI' platforms are already transforming this business in a meaningful way – in the world of lyric writing.LyricStudio, owned by California-headquartered parent WaveAI, produces original lyrics for songwriters in a style that mimics their own. In this sense, it's 'assistive AI' – a human companion, a muse. "When it comes to curing writer's block, there is nothing as powerful as LyricStudio," its website boasts. LyricStudio's popularity is already mind-boggling: to date, it has been responsible for 'assisting' the creation of over a million songs, from over a million songwriters, musicians and producers. At least 15% of the people that use it, say LyricStudio, are professional music-makers.One of those artists, rapper Curtiss King, released a No.1 album (on the US iTunes chart) last summer – with lyrics written/'assisted' by LyricStudio.On this Music Business Worldwide podcast, the co-founder and CEO of WaveAI/LyricStudio, Dr Maya Ackerman, discusses the future for AI and music... especially when it comes to lyric writing.Ackerman has some powerful credentials: she is a professor of AI at the Computer Science and Engineering Department at Santa Clara University, as well as a singer, songwriter and music producer. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, held Postdoctoral Fellowships at Caltech and UC San Diego, and has published over 50 peer-reviewed research publications.We ask her all about LyricStudio and the moral and artistic quandaries presented by the use of 'generative AI' in music-making. She points out that, so long as everyone in her field behaves ethically – which they surely all will, right? – there shouldn't be a music-biz-ending conclusion to this tale...The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
As ChatGPT sets the internet aflame, will AI write the lyrics of tomorrow's hits?
4d ago
As ChatGPT sets the internet aflame, will AI write the lyrics of tomorrow's hits?
Welcome to the Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music. On this episode, MBW founder Tim Ingham speaks to AI expert, and the CEO of LyricStudio, Dr. Maya Ackerman.------Bloody Elon Musk. Not content with doing beastly things to Twitter (like, erm, marginally improving the user experience), he's also triggered the actual beginning of the actual end of the world. Well, not directly. But Musk was one of the co-founders and funders of San Francisco-headquartered OpenAI, which is the progenitor of ChatGPT – the AI-powered online tool that can not only research and regurgitate online facts, but also weave that regurgitation in a variety of generated tones and styles. Some tech experts are so impressed with ChatGPT, they say, in just a few more iterations, it will become a serious challenger to (and perhaps even surpass the usefulness of) Google, and turn the business of online search upside down. (The next chapter in this sci-fi novel: ChatGPT gains sentience, turns our own long-trusted devices against us, and subjugates the human race. But that's probably still a few years away, so chill out, and, as Warren Zevon famously recommended, Enjoy every sandwich.)The music industry is actually a little ahead of the curve on this topic. Because language-based 'generative AI' platforms are already transforming this business in a meaningful way – in the world of lyric writing.LyricStudio, owned by California-headquartered parent WaveAI, produces original lyrics for songwriters in a style that mimics their own. In this sense, it's 'assistive AI' – a human companion, a muse. "When it comes to curing writer's block, there is nothing as powerful as LyricStudio," its website boasts. LyricStudio's popularity is already mind-boggling: to date, it has been responsible for 'assisting' the creation of over a million songs, from over a million songwriters, musicians and producers. At least 15% of the people that use it, say LyricStudio, are professional music-makers.One of those artists, rapper Curtiss King, released a No.1 album (on the US iTunes chart) last summer – with lyrics written/'assisted' by LyricStudio.On this Music Business Worldwide podcast, the co-founder and CEO of WaveAI/LyricStudio, Dr Maya Ackerman, discusses the future for AI and music... especially when it comes to lyric writing.Ackerman has some powerful credentials: she is a professor of AI at the Computer Science and Engineering Department at Santa Clara University, as well as a singer, songwriter and music producer. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, held Postdoctoral Fellowships at Caltech and UC San Diego, and has published over 50 peer-reviewed research publications.We ask her all about LyricStudio and the moral and artistic quandaries presented by the use of 'generative AI' in music-making. She points out that, so long as everyone in her field behaves ethically – which they surely all will, right? – there shouldn't be a music-biz-ending conclusion to this tale...The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
Lyor Cohen: 'The music industry is facing one of our biggest crises to date.'
Nov 28 2022
Lyor Cohen: 'The music industry is facing one of our biggest crises to date.'
Lyor Cohen believes that short-form video poses a major threat to the music business. He also thinks it might be the industry's savior.On this MBW Podcast, Cohen – Global Head of Music at YouTube – explains his fears over short-form video platforms that fail to push users into deeper engagement with music and artist content."Short-form video that doesn't lead anywhere is the most dangerous thing I've seen the music business face in a long time," says Cohen. Cohen believes that, if left unchecked, the rise and rise in music consumption on this type of short-form video platform could become one of the music industry's "biggest crises to date".(Cohen doesn't mention any particular platforms, but it's worth noting that there's been a lot of headlines written on MBW this year about TikTok's failure – so far, at least – to launch a connected music service to its main platform.)Cohen argues that YouTube's approach with its YouTube Shorts product offers an important distinction: A platform that hooks you in with short-form video – but then nudges would-be fans to longer/deeper audio and visual content about artists on both YouTube and YouTube Music.Cohen lays out three problems he sees growing to a head in the current music business:Problem No.1, he says, is an expectation for modern artists to spend a significant amount of their time, creativity and energy on certain social media platforms – platforms that in Cohen’s view rarely lead to deeper fandom amongst consumers;Problem No.2, he says, lies with consumers themselves – and his concern that the next generation of fans aren’t currently delving deep into artists, their stories, and their catalogs;And Problem No.3, says Cohen, lies at the door of record companies, who are struggling to break artists with regularity in this current digital environment.He believes the migration of fans away from long-standing social media platforms towards short-form video services is a major opportunity for the music business to foster true fandom in a vast potential audience globally.But he also warns the music business to drop its current "euphoric" state, and think hard about how short-form video's role must evolve to best serve the next generation of fans and artists.The MBW Podcast is supported by Voly Music.The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
Per Sundin on ABBA, buying Avicii's rights – and why he thinks the smartest music execs will soon be working on catalogs
Oct 16 2022
Per Sundin on ABBA, buying Avicii's rights – and why he thinks the smartest music execs will soon be working on catalogs
If you watch the new Netflix dramatization of the Spotify story – 'The Playlist' – you'll come across an entire episode told from the perspective of Per Sundin.That's because Sundin was the CEO of Universal Music Sweden at the time of Spotify's EU launch (2008), and one of the early believers that Daniel Ek's streaming platform could one day rule the global music industry.Yet arguably what Sundin's up to today is even more worthy of some TV drama treatment. As he explains on this MBW Podcast, Sundin has since 2019 been CEO of Pophouse Entertainment – the Stockholm-based company behind a number of successful ventures with ABBA.The most radical of those ventures is ABBA Voyage, the technologically stunning 'virtual concert residency' from the legendary Swedish band that has been playing to hundreds of thousands of wowed ticketholders in London since May this year. Portraying the group as they appeared in 1977, the show has been created by ABBA in conjunction with Pophouse and Industrial Light & Magic, the Disney-owned visual effects company most famous for working on Star Wars properties through the decades. (Founding ABBA member Björn Ulvaeus is a shareholder in, and board member of, Pophouse.)PopHouse recently got even more interesting from a music business perspective, buying a majority stake in the rights of catalogs created by names such as Swedish House Mafia and Avicii. On this podcast, Sundin tells us how Pophouse plans to "amplify" the artist brands behind this catalog music using lessons learnt from working with ABBA. He also discusses why he's confident, after a major financial investment, that the ABBA Voyage show will soon become profitable, go global – and change the face of 'virtual' artist performances forever more. And he explains why he believes that the major record companies will soon switch their smartest executives (if they haven't already) to focus more on catalog, rather than frontline, music.The MBW Podcast is supported by Voly Music.The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
Strange Fruits has tens of billions of streams... but it's not without controversy. Its 25-year-old founder speaks out.
Jul 21 2022
Strange Fruits has tens of billions of streams... but it's not without controversy. Its 25-year-old founder speaks out.
Some people say the modern music business lacks entrepreneurial new independent record companies. Those people haven't met Stef Van Vugt.The 25-year-old Dutchman founded Strange Fruits (now Fruits Music) in 2016 while studying music as an aspiring DJ.The label-cum-playlist company now has millions of followers on Spotify, where it's racked up tens of billions of streams. From Dance Fruits (5.4m followers) to LoFi Fruits (7m followers), Fruits Music's playlists have become a phenomenon on Spotify – but not without controversy.For one thing, Fruits Music 'buys out' the rights to all its tunes from artists who work with the company (although it does continue to pay through royalties as part of these deals). In addition, in order to better ride the Spotify algorithm, the lead 'artist' name on all of the tracks the company produces is Fruits Music itself (or one of its sub-brands). This creates similarities to the 'fake artists' that caused controversy for Spotify a few years back.And last year, Rolling Stone wrote an exposé of Fruits Music playlists – particularly Rain Fruits Sounds – that are designed to maximize payouts from Spotify (via its 'pro rate' royalty model). Rain Fruits Sounds contains over 2,000 'tracks' of rain noises, many of which are just over 30 seconds long. Every time one of those 'tracks' gets played, Strange Fruits increases its market share of Spotify's royalty pool – ultimately ensuring it gets paid more each month, and 'real' artists get paid less.On this MBW Podcast, Music Business Worldwide founder, Tim Ingham, grills Stef Van Vugt on the story of Strange Fruits, accusations that its actions hurt 'real' artists, the 'gaming' of streaming playlists – and what he thinks about a shift to 'user-centric' licensing on streaming platforms. (His answer to that last one might surprise you.) The MBW Podcast is supported by Voly Music) .The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
When will TikTok start paying the music industry 'properly'?
Jul 6 2022
When will TikTok start paying the music industry 'properly'?
Welcome to the latest episode of Music Business Worldwide's Talking Trends, supported by Voly Music.In this episode, MBW founder Tim Ingham discusses the model under which TikTok currently pays the music industry.Music Business Worldwide sources suggest that TikTok's deals with rightsholders are currently 'buy-outs' – i.e. the platform pays a lump sum upfront, rather than paying a revenue share based on each artist/label's popularity on its platform.With TikTok's revenues expected to triple to $12 billion in 2022, concerns are growing amongst music companies that TikTok could soon get "too big and too powerful" to force into an agreement that sees it "pay music rightsholders properly".Says Ingham: "The music industry is growing increasingly worried that it's about to star in a movie we've seen play out time and time again when it comes to music's relationship with tech and media giants. "In short, that movie is about a tech or media giant – you've guessed it! – 'building its business off the back of artists' without paying those artists what they deserve. "As my major record company source put it to me the other week: 'Soon TikTok is going to be too big and too powerful for us to force it into a revenue share deal. The last time we let a company of this size and power run away with things without paying us properly... was MTV."Ole Obermann, TikTok's Global Head of Music, has told Music Business Worldwide in response to this podcast: ""From the outset we wanted to pay rightsholders and we built a team to do that. We're proud of the deals we've struck and how in a few short years we've been able to offer a new and growing revenue stream to the industry, as well as becoming a powerful marketing and promotional platform for artists of all genres. "We're delighted by the success [that] artists, both new and old, have found using TikTok; connecting with fans and kick-starting their careers. This success and the power of our platform has translated into record label and publishing contracts [for artists], the launch of careers, significant streaming uplift and TikTok having a positive impact on charts worldwide."TikTok is a unique service and has pioneered the adoption of short-form video. We're not a streaming platform and we do not offer a subscription model. We negotiate our licenses on a rolling basis and as engagement with music on TikTok evolves, our business model will also evolve."Adds Obermann: "We want to play our part and contribute to a growing music industry, enabling music creators and makers to find success both on and off our platform.”The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
The major labels face a battle for streaming market share. Here's how they might fight back.
Jun 6 2022
The major labels face a battle for streaming market share. Here's how they might fight back.
Welcome to the latest episode of Music Business Worldwide's Talking Trends, supported by Voly Music.In this episode, MBW founder Tim Ingham discusses the market share threat that the major record companies currently face on Spotify from DIY distribution platforms – and the millions of independent artists they service.As music from these independent artists swamps streaming services, the majors' refusal to allow the music they distribute to fall under a certain perceived quality threshold limits their ability to compete on volume / scale with the likes of DistroKid. (A prime example of this refusal: Universal Music Group's Spinnup shutting down DIY distribution last month; it now only distributes music from invited artists.)As a result (amongst other factors), the majors' cumulative market share on Spotify is statistically falling – down by a full 10% from 2017 (87%) to 2021 (77%).We hear from Rob Stringer, Chairman of Sony Music Group, who last week told investors that Sony has widened its own distribution net – via The Orchard and AWAL – to work with more independent acts, and counteract the market-share erosion created by DIY distribution.However, Stringer noted that a proportion of this DIY-distributed music isn't of a good enough quality to be considered anything more than "flotsam and jetsam".Ingham theorises that the majors may soon pressure Spotify to pay out higher royalties for 'quality' or 'premium' artists – especially those who attract subscribers to its service – versus the tens of thousands of tracks uploaded to streaming services daily.Ingham wonders aloud if the majors' business model "can only triumph long term if streaming companies start acknowledging that 'quality' music is deserving of a higher rate of royalty payment than 'flotsam and jetsam'. "In other words, will Spotify agree that not all music is worth the same, or that a play of Bohemian Rhapsody is intrinsically worth more than a play of a large man's elongated burp? "Adds Ingham: "Defining the parameters of what constitutes 'premium' music versus 'flotsam and jetsam' is going to be fun. Music by its nature is subjective. You might think a certain track or an album is complete dreck; I might think it's celestial, and vice versa. That's part of what makes the industry so much fun."He continues: "Lest we forget that the other week I was on this very podcast telling Music Business Worldwide listeners that I had seen an app – Soundful – that can create studio-quality music via machine learning at the touch of a button, and every single one of its tracks is original. "There is no reason technology like this won't soon be able to create millions of tracks per day at the touch of a button, and then upload all of them to Spotify within seconds. "Imagine the threat that kind of tidal wave of music hitting services daily brings to the major record companies and their need to dominate market share on Spotify and other platforms. "So: if the majors are going to take the argument to Spotify that some music simply deserves more financial respect than other music, surely they are now compelled to do so sooner rather than later."The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
Meet the AI expert who just patented technology that helps indie artists spend their money smarter.
May 25 2022
Meet the AI expert who just patented technology that helps indie artists spend their money smarter.
We've called SK Sharma an 'AI expert' in the headline above, but it hardly does him justice.We could have just as easily called him an expert on theoretical chemical physics, marketing analytics, computational biophysics, or antimicrobial therapeutics.Granted, 'AI expert' was snappier.In his 20s, Sharma graduated with a Ph.D in Chemical Physics and Biophysical Chemistry from Caltech.He went on to create medical pharmaceuticals, before turning his hand to analyzing markets for the likes of Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers.Along the way, he began managing investments – using data science to help guide his clients' money. Amongst his early bets? Tesla, owned by that shrinking violet, Elon Musk.From there, Sharma went on an impressive run as an entrepreneur: To date, he has either been a co-founder or a Partner / equity owner in four startups, in multiple fields, that have each exited for over $100 million.And then, in 2017, he took a sharp turn into the music business – joining Ingrooves Music Group, the global distribution and services provider for indie artists and labels.Ingrooves first successfully patented tech underpinning its 'Smart Audience' marketing platform in 2020.The other week, it announced that it had won its second US patent for further developments on this tech – developments, the company claims, that now means Smart Audience drives streams for artists that amount to more than double the plays they would have received via traditional digital marketing methods.In this latest MBW Podcast (supported by Voly Music), SK Sharma discusses Ingrooves' strategy, the music business's relationship with technology – and why, in his view, the "defining characteristic of success" for any new-fangled inventions in music (see: metaverse, NFTs etc.) is "going to be separating the bulls**t from the facts..."The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
I have seen the future of music. It's scary, and utterly brilliant.
May 18 2022
I have seen the future of music. It's scary, and utterly brilliant.
Imagine being able to tell an app exactly the type of music you'd like to create – the key, the tempo, the genre, the sub-genre – and then that app just... making it for you.Imagine recording yourself singing a verse and a chorus into your phone, uploading this vocal to a platform, and that platform wrapping an entire professional musical production around it, all in the style of your choosing. And the result sounding so polished, it could comfortably sit in the tracklist of Spotify's Today's Top Hits.This is Soundful. The artificial intelligence-driven platform, currently in beta, was recently founded and created by San Diego-based entrepreneur, Diaa El All (pictured).To date Soundful has raised somewhere around $4 million in seed funding – from "leaders" of companies such as Disney and Microsoft. A fuller Series A round is expected to open soon.Soundful's website describes the platform thusly: "Soundful’s music-theory trained algorithms put studio-quality tracks in your hands so you can produce the next hot album, make a viral-worthy TikTok or YouTube sound, or amplify your gaming stream."It promises that anyone using it can "make tracks at the speed of sound". On this Podcast (supported by Voly Music), Diaa El All joins Music Business Worldwide founder, Tim Ingham, to talk about the effect Soundful is about to have on the global music business. Soundful's founder is upbeat and optimistic about how his platform will help today's billion-plus online content creators worldwide find music to use in their content. He also suggests Soundful is already inspiring music makers to move in interesting new creative directions.Ingham is a little more circumspect. He says: "In short, I'm a bit scared of Soundful. And I am utterly amazed by Soundful and its creator."The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
Gunnar Greve: Alan Walker, the metaverse, and why Web3 will 'completely change the music industry'
Apr 29 2022
Gunnar Greve: Alan Walker, the metaverse, and why Web3 will 'completely change the music industry'
Gunnar Greve believes, with all his heart, that Web3 and decentralized networks are about to turn the music industry upside down. In a good way.Greve is the long-term manager of Alan Walker, the Norwegian-British electronic music sensation whose tracks have been streamed across audio and video no less than 50 billion (!) times... including more than 5 billion times in China.In addition, Greve is a co-composer of Alan Walker's music (including the 2015 global mega-smash, Faded).But all of that is just part of why Greve joins MBW founder, Tim Ingham, on this MBW Podcast (supported by Voly Music).Alan Walker's background is intertwined with the world of video games. Walker is a video games design geek, and proud of it. His music career began when, as a teenager, he began sharing his epic compositions with fellow video games fans online.Today, Walker (with Greve's help) has devised his own entire fictional world – The World Of Walker – within which his fans, the Walkers, are (not surprisingly!) the good guys.This world extends to Walker's music videos, which have racked up over 11 billion views on his YouTube channel... which happens to be the world's 11th biggest music artist channel on the platform.It's no great shock, then, that Gunnar and Alan are rather enthused about the possibilities for Web3's combination with music – and the impact it can have on artist-fan relationships.If you're growing a little weary of all the chatter around the metaverse, NFTs and the blockchain, this is just the pep talk you need.The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
With Netflix losing subscribers, is music's own streaming party over? (Talking Trends)
Apr 20 2022
With Netflix losing subscribers, is music's own streaming party over? (Talking Trends)
Welcome to the latest episode of Talking Trends, the weekly podcast from Music Business Worldwide (MBW) – where we go deep behind the headlines of news stories affecting the entertainment industry. Talking Trends is supported by Voly Music.On this episode, MBW founder Tim Ingham analyzes the news the Netflix's global subscriber base fell quarter-on-quarter in Q1 2022 – and ponders whether leading music streaming services like Spotify will soon face similar headwinds. Netflix lost 200,000 subscribers in Q1, meaning that more people unsubscribed from the platform in the quarter than actually subscribed to it.Ingham sifts through Netflix's new letter to shareholders, in which the video streamer explains why it thinks these subscribers left its platform.Says Ingham: "One very convincing take on Netflix's poor Q1 results is that the [macro economic] sluggish economic growth and increasing inflation [in the world today] are actually the only factors that really matter here. "Inflation in the US, for one thing, hit a very scary 8.5% in March, according to the Consumer Price Index. "That 8.5% was the highest US inflation rate we've seen since 1981: that's over 40 years ago. This is once in a generation stuff. "So it's no great shock that people are starting to worry very seriously about their cost of living, versus the salary they have dropping into their bank account every fortnight or month. "And they're making sensible cutbacks of goods and services they can ultimately live without."The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
Amy Thomson: How To Fix The Music Business in 3 Easy Steps
Apr 14 2022
Amy Thomson: How To Fix The Music Business in 3 Easy Steps
Amy Thomson has pretty much done it all as an artist manager, and is now disrupting the modern music industry from another angle as Chief Catalog Officer of Hipgnosis Song Management. Before joining Hipgnosis in 2020, Amy ran her company ATM artists, and has managed acts including Seal, DJ Snake, and Swedish House Mafia. Most famously, Amy took Swedish House Mafia from being a baby band to kings of the globally dominant EDM scene of the early 2010s. She also worked closely with Kanye West on the stunning marketing campaigns launched during his Yeezus era. On this MBW Podcast (supported by Voly Music), Amy discusses the three areas of the music business that she believes need drastic change. Those areas are: (1) NDAs. That's nondisclosure agreements in artist and songwriter contracts; (2) Data – as in the flow of data to music makers and the vast inefficiencies that bad data is causing; and (3) Service and royalties, particularly the level of service that catalog artists are receiving from labels. Claims Thomson: "I think that the service of record labels for 99% of artists since 2006 has been absolutely shocking. In 2006, when streaming was launched 30 million records got re-released [on streaming platforms]...  "Labels are getting better at [marketing catalog records]. But when I say better, that means instead of 500 catalog projects a year [being prioritized for marketing by the major record companies], maybe there's now 700 catalog projects a year. "There are 30 million records on Spotify. [And] 75% of streaming is catalog, and that grew 10% last year."The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
Spotify Just Dropped A Stat That Changes Everything...
Mar 24 2022
Spotify Just Dropped A Stat That Changes Everything...
Welcome to the latest episode of Talking Trends, the weekly podcast from Music Business Worldwide (MBW) – where we go deep behind the headlines of news stories affecting the entertainment industry. Talking Trends is supported by Voly Music.This week on Talking Trends, MBW founder, Tim Ingham, responds to a new set of statistics released by Spotify about what artists earn from its platform.Those stats, published on Spotify's Loud & Clear site, reveal that 16,500 artists generated over $50,000 in royalties from Spotify in 2021.But, Ingham argues, this wasn't the most revealing piece of data issued by Spotify. He focuses in on a number buried towards the bottom of the Loud & Clear site: Spotify estimates that around 200,000 artists on its platform are “professional or professionally aspiring”.Spotify has partly estimated this figure, Ingham explains, via two key questions.The first is: How many of the 8 million artists on Spotify's platform have released fewer than 10 tracks? The answer might surprise you: it's 5.4 million, or just over two-thirds of artists on the service.Spotify has then calculated how many of the 2.6 million artists on its platform with more than 10 tracks are popular enough to also have more than 10,000 monthly listeners.The answer? Just 165,000 acts.Separately, Spotify has estimated that 199,000 artists sold a ticket to a live concert in 2019 (pre-pandemic) via the likes of Songkick, Ticketmaster and other platforms.This is how Spotify gets to its estimate of 200,000 artists on its service that are “professional or professionally aspiring”.Argues Ingham: "To put it a slightly crueller way, 98% of the 8 million artists on Spotify today either aren’t popular enough to have 10,000 monthly listeners, or have released less than 10 tracks to date."He adds: "Spotify’s own stats show that just 0.2% of [the 8 million] artists on its platform are generating $50,000 or above per year. As a standalone stat, 0.2% sounds like a scandal."But now we can move that [narrative] on, and ask what percentage of genuinely 'professional or professionally aspiring' artists – that club of 200,000 – are generating more than $50,000 a year on Spotify. "And I’ll tell you: it’s just over 8%. Eight percent – or around one in 12 – artists deemed 'professional or professionally aspiring' by Spotify are now generating more than $50,000 dollars on that one platform per year."Is eight percent good enough? Is having one in 12 commercially meaningful artists generating $50,000 a year on Spotify a positive or a negative?"Let that debate rage. But let it rage with the key information that the vast majority of artists on Spotify – 5.4 million, or more than two thirds of all acts on the platform – haven’t even released enough tracks to fill an album."The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
Is this the REAL reason Epic Games acquired Bandcamp?
Mar 15 2022
Is this the REAL reason Epic Games acquired Bandcamp?
Welcome to the latest episode of Talking Trends, the weekly podcast from Music Business Worldwide (MBW) – where we go deep behind the headlines of news stories affecting the entertainment industry. Talking Trends is supported by Voly Music.This week on Talking Trends, MBW founder, Tim Ingham, responds to the news that US-based video games giant, Epic Games, has fully acquired online independent music retailer Bandcamp.Following the surprise acquisition earlier this month, some suggested that Epic's driving reason to buy Bandcamp was the buzzword of the year – the metaverse – and the use of music within it. (Epic is, after all, the maker/owner of Fortnite, which has already hosted some major music events featuring artists such as Travis Scott and Ariana Grande.)Ingham posits a different theory. He notes that, according to its co-founder, Ethan Diamond, Bandcamp has been profitable since 2012. In addition, Bandcamp charges its customers (indie artists) just 10-15% commission rates as a retailer – and on Bandcamp Fridays, it charges nothing at all.Last year, Ingham notes, Epic Games failed to force Apple to reduce its 30% commission rate for large app makers as part of an ill-tempered legal battle. That failure potentially cost Epic hundreds of millions of dollars a year, notes Ingham, much of it from microtransactions taking place within Fortnite.In that legal battle, Epic cited its own Epic Games Store – on which it sells its own games and third-party titles for just a 12% commission – as an example of how a digital store could be run successfully without the need to charge a much higher 30% (as Apple does on its App Store).But Epic came unstuck when Apple probed the finances of this Games Store, which, it transpired, was making heavy losses. As neatly summed up by the Washington Post: "By highlighting how the Epic Games Store is not profitable, Apple is trying to show that a 12% commission like Epic charges is not sustainable for running an app store, and that a 30% commission such as what Apple charges makes business sense.”Comments Ingham: "In short, Apple exposed the lack of profitability of Epic’s store, and in doing so sunk [Epic's] legal argument."Ingham doesn't believe Epic's battle to reduce app store commissions is over – following its Apple trial, it may turn attention to Google Play, for example, which also charges a 30% commission to large-scale app makers on its platform. "[With Bandcamp] Epic now owns an online retailer that charges its customers just 10-15% commission, and sometimes nothing," says Ingham. "But that retailer has paid out around a billion dollars to artists, and crucially, it says that it has long been profitable."Epic can now point to Bandcamp as what it might claim to be proof of Apple or Google's excessive commission fees. In return, Apple or Google won’t be able to attack Bandcamp for running on a broken model, or being unprofitable… because it’s not."The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.
Why are major music companies using other people's money to buy copyrights? (Talking Trends)
Feb 24 2022
Why are major music companies using other people's money to buy copyrights? (Talking Trends)
Welcome to the latest episode of Talking Trends, the weekly podcast from Music Business Worldwide (MBW) – where we go deep behind the headlines of news stories affecting the entertainment industry. Talking Trends is supported by Voly Music.This week on Talking Trends, MBW founder, Tim Ingham, responds to the news that Warner Music Group is co-investing in a new music acquisition fund with investment giant BlackRock. Ingham notes that this is Warner's second co-investment fund in recent years – following its Tempo Music vehicle with Providence – but also points out that Sony Music Group invited outside capital from Eldridge Industries last year in its acquisition of the Bruce Springsteen catalog.Why are these major music companies not entirely using their own funds to make these acquisitions?Ingham suggests that it could be because they're hedging their bets against threats to the potential future growth of the music industry."Demand in the music marketplace today, largely driven by these Wall Street investment banks, means that multiples being paid for music rights have infamously gone wild," notes Ingham. "This comes with risks. If the music market changes, or is hit by some kind of slowdown in growth, the prospect of getting a return on these investments can suddenly disintegrate."Ingham highlights three key areas where the future value of music rights could be hit by a slowdown. They include:1) "A fear that the growth in music subscription streaming in the future might not be as sunny as some analysts estimate." Ingham notes that Goldman Sachs is currently predicting that over 1.2 billion people will be paying for music streaming by 2030 – an optimistic forecast that makes sense from a lot of angles. Yet Ingham notes: "In 2021, Spotify saw slower global streaming subscription growth - in terms of volume – than it did in 2020. So what happens if [overall] streaming subscription growth now doesn’t meet the bright hope analysts at Goldman Sachs and elsewhere have? What if these numbers start to get downgraded as the years tick on? What happens if Gen Z, who are currently obsessed with TikTok, don’t value an all-you-can-eat streaming service menu like Spotify’s?"2) Says Ingham: "When you look at the [banner copyright] investments being made in the business today, there’s definitely a question mark over whether these artists are going to be long-term mainstream propositions in non-Anglo-American markets. He adds: "Look at what’s happening to the charts in local markets globally: They’ve never been domestic in their tastes. MBW reported earlier this year that Italy’s entire Top 20 album and Top 10 singles in 2021 were from domestic artists. Where do Bruce Springsteen or Wiz Khalifa fit in that?"3) Economic uncertainty on a macro level – and shooting interest rates in the months ahead. "Consumer prices are said to be rising by 5%, 7%, even 9% this year, while energy prices also shoot up making spending on so-called luxury goods or services like a streaming music subscription harder to justify for many people," notes Ingham. The Music Business Worldwide Podcast supported by Voly Music.