California’s gig economy AB5 bill could significantly damage the independent music industry

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California’s gig economy AB5 bill could significantly damage the independent music industryFrank

California is in the final stages of passing legislation
that would severely impact, if not destroy the state’s independent music

The bill, titled AB5, is written in response to the rise of gig economy jobs—companies like Uber, Doordash, and others. It states that anybody who provides services to a “hiring entity’s” business is no longer an independent contractor but to be considered an employee. The goal, according to assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is to target big businesses, particularly gig-economy goliaths like the rideshare providers, who hire hundreds of thousands of drivers without offering labor protections or benefits.

While AB5 is a clear attempt to hold the feet of these companies to the fire, forcing them to offer unemployment insurance, healthcare subsidies, overtime pay, paid breaks, and parental leave, its language also holds independent musicians to the very same standard. For example, an up-and-coming producer looking to hire a manager would now have to abide by the aforementioned labor laws proposed in the bill. Same goes for a rapper looking to have their first track mixed, who under the new law would be legally considered an employer to the mixing engineer. While these parameters make sense for larger companies, they seem nothing short of impossible for independent musicians.

“This is not an issue of big versus small; this is small struggling to become big. There are tens of thousands of kids with dreams in California—dreams to become a recording artist, a singer, a producer, a rapper, a small label executive, a major label executive. The unintended consequence of this law is that they will have to move out of California to pursue this dream,” says Mitch Glazier, President of the RIAA among other industry leaders in an op-ed published this week for Variety.

“If you care about allowing independent artists, songwriters, and labels to remain in California, we need your help. Call your local state legislature, your union, the AFM. Tell them how important it is to you that we keep the music in California. Ask them to support an exemption to AB5 for independent recording in California.”

Assembly Bill 5 goes to vote in California on September 13.

U.S. music industry postures to make over $10 billion in revenue in 2019

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U.S. music industry postures to make over $10 billion in revenue in 2019Music Industry Modernization Act Passes

This year the music industry is expected to breach $10 billion for the first time since 2007, according to a mid-year revenue report from the RIAA.  

The revenue increase is largely fueled by the streaming market’s swell— everything from Spotify and Apple Music to Youtube and Pandora, which grew by 26% as of the first half of 2019. Paid subscriptions lead the way, accounting for nearly 15 million new subscribers since 2018’s mid-year report. In total, the streaming side of the industry accounts for 80% of the mid-year report’s $5.4 billion in revenue.

Vinyl sales continue to rise as well, with an expectation that they’ll outsell CDs come year’s end, though the format still only makes up 4% of the industry’s revenue. In total, however, revenues from shipments of physical products make up 9% of the industry total for the period.

“Our mid-year report tells a great story and highlights how the music industry’s embrace of new platforms and technologies has fueled a huge amount of growth and excitement—and a gusher of great new options for fans everywhere.” says Mitch Glazier, RIAA Chairman and CEO.

The music industry supports over 157,000 music-related businesses and nearly 2 million jobs.


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