Streaming services now account for 75% of music industry revenue

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Streaming services now account for 75% of music industry revenueStreaming Services

The music industry has been dancing on the precipice of a sweeping streaming takeover for years. According to a recent report from the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA), that transition was solidified with a reported music streaming growth of 30% in 2018 alone.

The $7.4 billion in categorical revenue came from predicted streaming mammoths like Spotify and YouTube, as well as digital radio hubs like Pandora and SiriusXM. The music business at large was heftily bolstered by paid subscriptions to these streaming domains, accounting for over half the industry’s yearly takeaway for the first time ever.

While digital downloads in recent years accounted for nearly half of industry sales, it spent 2018 continuing its swift decline, finishing with approximately $1 billion in total revenue, dropping a sizable 25% from 2017, and garnering just 11% of the industry pie. Mirroring downloads is physical sales, down 23% in 2018 alone, with $1.15 billion in sales.

A bright spot for the latter sector, however, came in the form of a firm incline in vinyl sales, which saw its most profitable year ($419 million) since 1988, which should come as no surprise to those who’ve been tuning in to industry trends of the past decade or so.

The 2018 report in full can be found here.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Research shows music industry losing $2.6B a year due to retail stores’ improper streaming

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Research shows music industry losing $2.6B a year due to retail stores’ improper streamingSpotify Enterprise

According to a Nielsen Music study, the music industry is missing out on $2.65 billion annually due to businesses using personal music accounts in their storefronts. The culprit is mostly small businesses that are using consumer accounts not intended for commercial use.

This report was paid for by Soundtrack Your Brand, who offer music streaming for businesses starting at $26.99 a month. They surveyed 5,000 small business owners in the US, US, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Germany, and France. The data found that most of these businesses simply use an employee’s streaming account.

When music is played to benefit a business, a business licenses is needed. These rights are not included in the standard consumer streaming accounts that most small businesses use. Results estimated 21.3 million businesses are using the consumer streaming account instead of obtaining the proper business license.

80.3 percent of the small businesses surveyed mentioned music is important to their business, and 86 percent said they were willing to pay a bit more for the proper license. More than half the businesses were unaware their methods of playing music was illegal. In the US, 71 percent of businesses were unaware.

Co-founder and chairman of Soundtrack Your Brand, Andreas Liffgarden (formerly Spotify‘s global head of telecom business development) said, “Lack of innovation has driven small businesses to choose consumer services, as they are far more accessible and easy-to-use than most business alternatives. We need a new generation of B2B streaming services, attractive to business owners, that make sure music makers get fair compensation.”

H/T: Billboard

Photo Credit: Mia Shanley/REUTERS

The Music Modernization Act unanimously passes, bringing considerable changes for both labels and artists

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The Music Modernization Act unanimously passes, bringing considerable changes for both labels and artistsMusic Industry Modernization Act Passes

After a lengthy process and a fair amount of music industry squabbling, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Music Modernization Act on September 19.

The MMA was developed as a direct response to a rapidly changing and shifting music industry that’s still sprinting to catch up to the upheaval caused by streaming services and the shift in how digital royalties are accumulated and ultimately paid. The act will bring immediate changes including royalties for artists and songwriters on songs recorded before 1972, allocating additional royalties for music producers; and updating streaming service licensing and royalty rules to better and more easily pay rights-holders.

Overall, it means the piece of the modern music industry pie for creators and labels gets a little bit bigger. Orrin Hatch, the senator from Utah who championed the bill’s push through Congress, was quick to point out how much more change the music industry still needs in a statement. Says Hatch,

“With this bill, we are one step closer to historic reform for our badly outdated music laws. That the MMA is a boon to creators in the music industry is true. However, the long and internally contentious path to make just three modest changes to copyright rules highlights one reason why more hasn’t been done.”

UK music fests call for investigation into Live Nation’s ‘market dominance’

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UK music fests call for investigation into Live Nation’s ‘market dominance’Aif Live Nation Festival Accusations

The UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has publicly renewed their call to competition authorities, citing dangerous and increasing dominance and control of large music events by Live Nation. Currently, Live Nation controls a slew of the country’s biggest festivals, including Reading & LeedsParklife and more. That level of dominance is something the AIF says will stifle the competition, specifically by attempting to lock acts into exclusive deals requiring them to only play Live Nation-controlled events.

“Nobody wins from that,” one festival organizer told The Guardian. “We’ve all got an interest in the bands and the scene flourishing.”

To support the public declaration of concern, the AIF even created a map showing prominent UK events and the 26 percent of them currently under the control of Live Nation. Additionally, the organization is launching a “Stamp of Independence,” with the goal of giving festival-goers the power to support independent businesses in the UK’s music scene. AIF chief executive Paul Reed further explained the impact Live Nation’s growing influence could have on music fans.

“Allowing a single company to dominate festivals reduces the amount of choice and value for money for music fans,” Reed said. “It can block new entrants to market, result in strangleholds on talent through exclusivity deals and stifle competition throughout the entire live music business.”

Live Nation has yet to comment on the AIF’s accusations.

Photo Credit: Jen O’Neill

The music industry made $43 billion in 2017, but artists only took away 12% of it

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The music industry made $43 billion in 2017, but artists only took away 12% of itDJ SNAKE Photo By Eva Blue 07

Musicians’ struggles in today’s industry are well-documented. Royalties have plummeted as a result of downloading or streaming, with extended touring taking place of beatmaking as the prime form of income. On top of all this, the teams behind these artists also have to make a living, cutting profits further.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Citigroup’s latest report on the music industry economy asserts that musicians only took home 12% of the $43 billion in revenue generated industry-wide in 2017. The cycle is a cruel one — creators often rely on publishers, tech companies, and other team members to help get their message out and allow them to make a living through their craft in the first place. However, the cost of this success is that these outside parties suck up greater amounts of income in return.

Citigroup didn’t paint an overly grim picture with its reporting. In fact, it posed potential paths of redistributing some of the revenue to the musicians that helped generate it in the first place. It foresaw two potential vertical integration models, with one pointing to promoters and platforms like Spotify merging together. Or, Spotify and its ilk will cross into the label space as another form of vertical integration that would benefit artists. Finally, Citigroup also posed a horizontal model where different distribution platforms merge with one another.

Also, the fact that artists are taking a 12% stake in the industry is good news in itself — in 2000, that number was at 7%. The report attests this to the increase of royalties via streaming subscriptions, and also growth within the concert business. Only time will tell how the industry evolves to tip the financial scales back in the artists’ favors.


H/T: Pitchfork

Photo credit: Eva Blu


Mental health extends beyond the music industry: resources for those struggling with self harm [List]

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Avicii’s death has foregrounded the interrelated topics of self harm and mental health in recent weeks. Many news sources, including Dancing Astronaut, have reported on the mental health struggles commonly associated with artists’ unrelenting touring and travel schedules, and with other facets of the music industry.

The premature passing of an artist who was both central to the electronic industry, and beloved by fans and fellow producers alike has led many to speak out regarding mental health in the wake of Avicii’s death, including Kaskade, who reflected on the decade’s rise in suicide rates in a recent blog postDancing Astronaut’s editorial staff additionally discussed mental health as related to the music industry in their Editor’s Roundtable, dedicated to Avicii and his timeless impact.

Dancing Astronaut is conscious that anxiety, depression, and other mental health hardships extend far beyond the music industry to affect the lives not only of the artists and producers active in the music industry, but those of listeners worldwide. With this in mind, Dancing Astronaut has compiled a list of mental health resources to help those struggling with thoughts of self harm. Dancing Astronaut seeks to remind its readers that there are ways to get help, and hopes that this list will be of assistance to those who may need it.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s toll-free number, 1-800-273-TALK(8255), is available 24/7. 

The Crisis Text Line is a free text-message service that provides 24/7 support. Text a message to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor immediately.

Resources from the NSPL are available online, here

            Resources from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) can be found, here.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National toll-free Helpline is available 24/7 and can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Those contemplating self harm can also receive immediate help by calling 911, or by visiting

  • Their primary care provider
  • Their local psychiatric hospital
  • Their local walk-in health clinic
  • Their local emergency department
  • Their local urgent care center

The US Department of Justice pins Live Nation as potential monopoly

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When the Justice Department allowed a merger of the music industry’s two most dominate companies — Live Nation and Ticketmaster — critics feared the worst.

A merger between the world’s biggest concert promoter and live entertainment’s leading ticket provider would, essentially, “create an industry monolith, one capable of crippling competitors in the ticketing business,” according to the New York Times.

The merger was granted back in 2010, with federal officials reassuring skeptics that the terms of the legal settlement would block monopolistic behavior by Live Nation and ultimately bolster market competition.

Eight years later, and the newer, more bloated Live Nation has a hand in nearly every aspect of the live concert world. Not only that, according several complaints filed to the DOJ, the company has become the biggest bully on the block. The most damning evidence came from Live Nation’s biggest competitor, AEG, that claims emails between venue managers and Live Nation representatives suggest venues were bypassed by Live Nation tours after adopting AEG’s ticketing program, AXS.

Live Nation dismissed AEG’s complaints as tactical mischaracterizations: “You have a disgruntled competitor that is trying to explain their loss around the boogeyman that there were threats made that nobody can document,” said Daniel M. Wall, Live Nation’s antitrust lawyer.

“Now Department of Justice officials are looking into serious accusations about Live Nation’s behavior in the marketplace,” a New York Times article reports. “They have been reviewing complaints that Live Nation, which manages 500 artists, including U2 and Miley Cyrus, has used its control over concert tours to pressure venues into contracting with its subsidiary, Ticketmaster.”

The report continues, “The company’s chief competitor, AEG, has told the officials that venues it manages that serve Atlanta; Las Vegas; Minneapolis; Salt Lake City; Louisville; and Oakland were told they would lose valuable shows if Ticketmaster was not used as a vendor, a possible violation of antitrust law.”

Other DOJ complaints are investigating possible Live Nation threats aimed at venues in Austin and Boston.

The live music business has historically been a collaborative effort, with multiple parties coming together to put on a show, including promoters, talent agents and managers, venues, and ticketing companies. But Live Nation now runs all of them.

Worldwide, it operates more than 200 venues; last year, it promoted upwards of 30,000 shows and sold 500 million tickets; and, since the merger, it has acquired Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, as well as gobbling up smaller promotional and ticketing companies from all over the US to Europe.

With the help of Ticketmaster, the behemoth company has engorged the competition: “Ticket prices are at record highs. Service fees are far from reduced. And Ticketmaster, part of the Live Nation empire, still tickets 80 of the top 100 arenas in the country. No other company has more than a handful.”

Ticketmaster president, Jared Smith, responded to the NYT article, defending the legality of its practices,

The New York Times article suggests that any benefits of being a vertically integrated company are, in and of themselves, anticompetitive   They insinuate that we “condition” content. That we “retaliate” when Ticketmaster is not selected as a venue’s ticketing partner. In short, they say we have stifled competition.

The reality is that none of these things are true. It is absolutely against Live Nation and Ticketmaster policy to threaten venues that they won’t get any Live Nation shows if they don’t use Ticketmaster. We also do not re-route content as retaliation for a lost ticketing deal. Live Nation is the most artist-focused company in the world, and misusing our relationship with artists to “settle scores” with venues would be both bad business and counter to our core beliefs.

No official statement has been released from Live Nation’s CEO, Michael Rapino. The company has just settled a $110 million lawsuit with Songkick over rights to ticket sales.

H/T: Consequence of Sound |Via: New York Times


What the hell does it mean to be a producer in 2017?

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It’s 2014, and 60,000 festival attendees at Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival are staring expectantly up towards a sea of lights and a DJ board. Over the course of the weekend, they’ll watch Pharrell Williams, Zedd, and Calvin Harris light up the desert sky, but now, they stand and wait for two men whom not a single person in the crowd has seen take the stage.

Fans linger, eager with anticipation, confident they know what to expect from this ‘breakout’ group from hit releases ‘Smile’ and ‘You.’ Little do they know, they had been listening to their music for years.

Linus Eklow and Christian Karlsson of Galantis are staring back at the expectant faces from the side of the stage, taking a moment before they reveal themselves. For the past 20 years, their production capabilities have propelled the likes of Britney Spears, Madonna, and Kylie Minogue into the limelight of sold out arenas. They have created hit records, chart topping albums, and won Grammys. As they stepped out in front of a roaring crowd and a thousand lights, they turned to one another and smiled.

Now it was their turn.


For as long as anyone can remember, a producer’s job description has entailed slaving over sound boards in a dark studio and inevitably forfeiting all due credit to the vocalist. A producer was acknowledged for his or her masterpiece in the fine text of the ‘thank you’s,’ and their fame began and ended with industry stakeholders.  The David Axelrod’s and George Martin’s of the world lived in anonymity despite producing some of the industry’s most well known tracks such as “The Edge” by David McCallum and “Love Me Do” by The Beatles respectively. Had Axelrod or Martin been told that being a producer would result in the excessive and public facing lifestyles embodied by the Diplo’s and The Chainsmokers of today, they likely would not have believed it.

Today’s producers are global citizens, jet setting across the world to play their music for a different hoard of fans each night. Emboldened with microphones, they are performers in their own right. They pack arenas and festival grounds with tens of thousands of fans like the pop singers of the 2000s. For the first time in the history of commercialized music, being a music producer is sexy.

The reality of our modern music landscape is that we now live in a world that has two distinct factions of music producers. There are still many traditional producers, who strictly work in the studio and behind the scenes to create music that is performed by star vocalists and bands. These producers—people like Max Martin or Rick Rubin—aren’t credited in the title of the tracks they create nor do they perform their music live.

The second faction of producers are a recent breed. They elicit their own fans who are drawn to the beats behind the songs that they create. These music producers are doubly skilled: in addition to producing their own tracks they perform their music ‘live.’ This new brand of producer is a complex phenomenon that many are still teasing out.

Up until 15 years ago, there was no option for a music producer to become a performer unless the producer was also the vocalist. As the art of DJing has evolved into a mode for producers to ‘perform’ their tracks ‘live,’ the producer’s role has evolved, too. Now the job title music producer can indicate one of two very different career paths, and because of this, there has been a dynamic shift within the music industry.

Before the rise of commercialized electronic music, music producers were virtually never credited in the title of a track. This elevation of the producer to an artist—as opposed to a fine text name at the bottom of a Wikipedia page—is something that was rarely done in the U.S. pop music scene until fairly recently. M.I.A.’s breakout hit, “Paper Planes,” for example, was both written and produced by Diplo in 2007.  In contrast, 2015’s “Where Are U Now” is billed as a track ‘by’ Diplo, Skrillex, and Justin Bieber.  

As producers find their own celebrity through DJing, a greater public appreciation of the craft has resulted, and they are more able than ever before to use this leverage to further their own celebrity.  

This phenomenon is all too familiar to Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklow—the production duo behind the Grammy nominated project Galantis. Though fans are surely familiar with the group’s hit songs like breakout “Runaway (U+I),” less familiar are the years of behind the scenes production work Karlsson and Eklow have racked up.

Karlsson is the Grammy award winning producer behind mega hits like Britney Spears’ “Toxic” as well as a part of the Swedish Indie Pop band Miike Snow. Eklow co-produced and wrote on Icona Pop’s number one hit, “I Love It.” Karlsson and Eklow have, independently of one another, produced and co-written music with the likes of Katy Perry, Madonna, and Kylie Minogue

“It’s important to mention that today you can be a producer and you can be an artist,” says Karlsson, though he concedes that duality is “not for everyone.”

“That’s for a few. If you are an amazing producer and you don’t have that talent and you don’t have that in you, you aren’t supposed to do that. To make it as a ‘celebrity producer,’ you need to be an artist,” says Karlsson.  “It’s a totally different thing.”

Karlsson’s distinction is hardly without merit. Being a celebrity producer today is reserved for those who aspire to be an artist, just as someone like Britney Spears did. Although Djing as a method of performance has gotten it’s share of criticism from those who believe all it requires is standing on a stage and pushing a button, there is a reason why not every successful music producer has become a mega star through playing their hits on stage.

But Karlsson’s distinction begs the question: has the rise of the celebrity producer diminished the value of the traditional producer? A famous producer can bring their brand and their fans to the table in addition to the vocalist’s. The traditional producer cannot add this value.

“The producer fee is the same, but celebrity producers are not only being paid for being producers,” says Karlsson. They are being paid as artists, which adds another layer to their credibility.”

Stranger yet, Karlsson points out, is the that vocalists now seek out superstar producers to appear, credited as artists, on their albums.

“A singer is going to do a song, and now they are able to seek out an artist who can produce the song,” says Karlsson. “Celebrity producers appeal to vocalists because they want that brand so badly and the bigger exposure. The cross pollination of producers’ and vocalists’ audiences has resulted in new and exciting collaborations across different genres of music that we haven’t seen before.”

If anyone is familiar with this sentiment, it’s Maarten Vorwerk. Vorwerk made a name for himself in 2015 when he came forward as a ghost producer—a controversial role in dance music which involves unknown producers selling their creations outright to famous artists who then own the track.

Though Vorwerk now puts his efforts into his own creations, he enjoyed a long run as one of the most sought after ghost producers in the industry, engineering more than a few Beatport number one hits.

“Eminem tells everybody that Dr. Dre has produced his new track and the fact that Eminem collaborated with Dr. Dre is seen as a big selling point to the track,” explains Vorwerk. “Whereas, you wouldn’t see a DJ saying that this or that producer has produced his new track. From my point of view I think that you should give credit where credit is due.”

But ghost producers, he concedes, are paid outright to never be credited.

Though ghost producing is undoubtedly a very real phenomenon among the dance music community, keyboard warriors are quick to level the charge against any artist they don’t particularly like. This witch hunting can be chalked up in part to our increasingly polarized and contentious internet culture. It also reveals how little people understand just what a ‘producer’ is responsible for.

Contrary to popular belief, the producer is not necessarily the person creating the sounds and programming the track. Karlsson and Eklow explained that the role of a traditional producer does much more than simply engineering the beat of a track.

The producer is responsible for even the most ephemeral elements of music creation: to make sure everyone is hitting timelines and the atmosphere in the studio makes the vocalist feels comfortable and confident.

“You can hire anyone to program a drum,” says Karlsson and Eklow. “People think that the producer is the guy who actually programs the beat. The producer is the one who decided who is programming the beat, and what the vision for that beat is, and how it’s supposed to make the listener feel. See the difference?”

“Everything that happens in the studio—it is the producer’s responsibility.”

In this regard, producing music becomes similar to producing a movie or a tv show. The producer isn’t responsible for the technicalities of lighting and camera angles. Instead, the producer is making sure that all 200 pieces that need to come together to create a final product do so.

The more mainstream electronic music becomes, the more noticeable the discrepancy between the traditional producer and the celebrity DJ-producer. In examining where the traditional pop producer is left when there is the potential for celebrity, Galantis solidified that celebrity DJ Producers should be likened to artists as opposed to the traditional producer.

After all, they are compensated as artists, they are branded as artists, and they are celebrities in their own right.

Perhaps no one knows this tension more intimately than Andrew Harr and Jermaine Jackson. Together called “The Runners,” the duo have a staggering 17 year production history working with a star-studded list of clientele that includes the likes of DJ Khaled, Usher, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber. Harr and Jackson have a reputation for being some of the best minds in the music industry, but their reputation lives solely within the music industry itself and hardly registers at all to music fans outside of it.

Recently, Harr and Jackson have had an epiphany of sorts. In hopes of being recognized for their own talents by a newly receptive public, the duo have developed a project to push through their own original releases. With their BLVK JVCK project, they hope to drum up traction for their creative work without having to depend on the star power of a pop artist feature.

“Our dreams always were to be a Pharrell or a Timberland, but we couldn’t sing and we couldn’t rap,” says Harr. “The growth of electronic music has opened that door for us to express ourselves musically.”

“When you are working with the Rihanna’s and Ushers of the world, you are creative but you still have to create something that caters to them creatively,” continued Harr. “Now it is our opportunity to do what most producers dream of- to create something that is our own. Our own portrait, our own painting, and that is amazing. To be able to say this is my project, and this is how I’m going to do it is an amazing rebirth creatively.”

Harr and Jackson look onto the evolution of the producer’s role and star power in a positive light, but not every behind the scenes producer is clamoring to become the next Calvin Harris. In fact, Harr and Jackson could indeed be outliers in a world where many producers are still keen to stay behind the scenes and live in quiet glory.


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Spotify accused of defrauding stream numbers and underpaying artists. Again.

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In an effort to save money, Spotify have been paying producers upfront to compose music under non-existent monikers to fill up its premium playlists, which allow for maximum exposure for its content. The fraudulent process allows the streaming giant to evade future royalty payouts despite garnering millions of streams on some tracks.

According to an article by Adam K. Raymond on Vulture: “Placing these fake tracks in high-ranking playlists limits the opportunities for real music-makers to make money.” Spotify has not responded to these accusations.

This type of situation makes it very difficult for the listener as they have to sift through a plethora of artists that aren’t even real, just to find what they’re really looking for and enable the streaming service to evade paying royalties on popular songs. According to the report, many of the service’s most popular playlists like “Ambient Chill” or “Sleep” are stacked with one off producers whose tracks, suspiciously, have millions of plays.

The music streaming business has proven to be a lucrative one, but not for the artists.

Thousands of streams earn artists barely enough to buy a cup of coffee and it’s proven difficult for genuine smaller artists to nuzzle into a spot on Spotify’s high-ranking playlists to boost their royalty checks. Meanwhile Spotify continues to post sky high earnings topping $2 billion per year, as their artist payouts continue to go “way, way down.”

The allegation that the streaming service underpays artists is not a new one, but the fraudulent monikers are a novel addition to an undying argument.

H/T: Vulture

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