The 10 Best Playlist Curators of 2017

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As Spotify won this year’s best streaming service of 2017, we have also asked our readers to vote for the best playlist curators for the 2017 year. While hip-hop has Rap Caviar, dance music has a wide variety of playlist curators ranging from Austin Kramer’s mint playlist to Robaer’s EDM HOUSE playlist. With more than

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The Best Streaming Service of 2017

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2017 was a defining year for the streaming industry. As Spotify began to spread its wings and pull away from other music streaming services, Amazon Music quietly gained ground in the streaming space. With more than 20,000 votes for this year’s Dance Music Awards, we are pleased to announce the most popular streaming services from

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SoundCloud User Claims Soundly Has Decreased Its Audio Quality: Update

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Update: A spokesperson for SoundCloud has responded: “We always appreciate feedback, but these reports are inaccurate. SoundCloud has not altered its approach to audio quality. We have been using the Opus codec (among others) since 2016, and we regularly test different combinations of encoding and streaming to offer listeners a quality experience on any device.

The post SoundCloud User Claims Soundly Has Decreased Its Audio Quality: Update appeared first on EDM Sauce.

Spotify breaks down your listening habits over the last year

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Spotify has officially released its Your 2017 Wrapped feature. By tracking listening habits over the year, the Swedish streaming giant provides users with a year in review to sum up their most listened to artists and genres throughout the year.

The feature farms data throughout the year to generate a list of listener’s top 100 streamed songs, and also provides a convenient virtual infographic detailing genre preferences, minutes listened, demographics, and even the amount of times listeners skipped tracks. Spotify also gives users a short quiz based on listening preferences to determine musical self awareness: Did you know that Bassnectar was your top streamed artist of 2017? How many minutes did you listen to music throughout the year? What is your most listened to genre? If you know the answers to these questions, you might be considered musically self aware.

All of these features can be accessed by visiting the service here and logging in with your Spotify account.

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Neil Young highlights the importance of high-quality audio in online music archive release

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The venerable rock ’n’ roller Neil Young has delivered on his promise of a high-fidelity audio service with the launch of a new platform, XStream, and to mark the occasion he’s launched an archive of all of his music.

Aptly-titled the Neil Young Archives, Young’s complete music collection is all the music he’s produced to date — both released and unreleased material. All of the artist’s works are now available for free — until June 2018 — in the high-fidelity format.

“We developed [the archive] to provide fans and historians with unprecedented access to all of my music and my entire archive in one convenient location,” writes Young.

A big push for the integrity of all listening experiences, Young’s music service is a dramatic improvement in easy-listening with the service’s full-resolution. XStream provides the highest quality listening to a network condition in its adaptive nature. The service is simply an adaptive streaming service that changes with a listener’s available network bandwidth.

“Full resolution is attained with no compression, unlike any other streaming service to date,” Young explained in an open letter about the archives. Full resolution is attained when your bandwidth is high enough to play back all the quality of each individual recording. This is as good as it gets.”

Young’s new service comes after a wave of the audiophile’s investments. He first introduced the PonoPlayer in 2014 on Kickstarter, which was launched in store later the following year.  Much like the new streaming service, Pono catered to audiophiles who were seeking out high-quality files at lower costs.

In 2016, Young was prompted to close his Pono venture after a change of hands and investments, but in a streaming giant age that beckons for convenient, high-quality audio, audiophiles will soon see if XStream can fill the void.

Visit the archives here.

Photo Credit: @Neil Young/Facebook

H/T: Engadget

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New Spotify data shows sharp increase in listening time, artist diversity

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“The pie is getting bigger and there are more slices going around.”

In an announcement by David Erlandsson and Jomar Perezos of Spotify, the company has revealed statistics that show in an increase in hours listened and music diversity.

Average listener hours are up 25 percent, alongside a 37-percent increase in diversity. Erlandsson and Perezos credit editorial and algorithmic playlists are the center of the increase, while critics counter that the data is too general to definitely indicate the average individual listener is listening to a larger pool of artists and more often than years before.

The graphs below show the company’s analytics over the past few years.

spotify-increase-average-listener-diversity
spotify-increase-average-listener-diversity
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Report: 4 in 10 internet users steal music

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Some say music streaming platforms were initially successful because they worked to combat illegal music downloading. Ranging from five to ten dollars per month, they gave consumers a guilt free way to consume music without draining their bank account. However, recent research shows that music piracy is on the rise once again.

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the last year has seen a 5% increase in music piracy, jumping from 35% to 40% of internet users worldwide. The IFPI seems to be placing the blame on search engines, noting that they “play a key role in copyright infringements” due to the easy to access of pirated material via their sites. THe report also noted that services like YouTube and Spotify are among the most pirated music sites.

Services like YouTube-to-MP3 converters and other stream ripping sites make downloading unlicensed music easy for those who don’t want to pay. While the IFPI is asking for stronger regulation, the highly contested topics of net neutrality and cyber security make progress on this issue unlikely for now.

H/T:  South China Morning Post

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Spotify unveils its most-streamed songs of the summer

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For those curious what friends in Hong Kong or Iceland have been vibing out to this summer, Spotify just unveiled its global power rankings—aka the most-streamed songs of the summer.  To no surprise, Bieber’s‘s juggernaut hit has been entering the ears of listeners across the globe at an unsurpassable rate, as “Despacito” sits at the very top of the list both globally and in the US.

“Despacito” — which just capped its record-breaking week number 16 atop the Billboard Hot 100 — was streamed more than 786 million times this summer. (The summer specifically between June 21 and August 27 for the service’s purposes.) In global streams, “Despacito” was then followed by DJ Khaled, Rihanna, and Bryson Tiller’s “Wild Thoughts” with French Montana’s “Unforgettable” at number three. Calvin Harris‘ “Feels” falls at number seven and Axwell / Ingrosso‘s “More Than You Know” comes in at number 15. Globally, The Chainsmoker’s early-summer hit “Something Just Like This” sits at number 18 with “There for You” by
Martin Garrix falling a bit below, at number 28.

After taking a look at the US streams, it’s obvious that hip-hop reigns supreme. Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO TOUR Llif3” comes in at number two and “Wild Thoughts” takes the number three slot. Calvin Harris’ “Feels” doesn’t come in until number 11 and the only other truly electronic inlaced number his is Harris’ pop -infused hit “Slide” later down the list.

Check out the full rankings below.


H/T: Billboard

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See what streaming platforms are paying artists

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Ready for it? Every 1000 plays an unsigned artist gets earns them: $6.40 from Apple Music, $3.80 from Spotify, and a whipping $0.60 from YouTube. Artists who are signed earned more, $7.30 from Apple Music, $4.40 from Spotify and just $0.70 from Youtube for every 1,000 plays, an Information is Beautiful study shows reported by Digital Music News.

01-RIAA-Apple-Music-Spotify-YouTube

The RIAA did their own study as well and found every 1000 plays an unsigned artist gets earn them, $12, from Apple Music and $7.50 from Spotify, but YouTube only pays out $1.50. One thing is for sure, the amount of money made from music isn’t what it used to be — and leaves the current environment in a period of uncertainty and flux.

H/T: Digital Music News

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For its flaws, SoundCloud is still the best streaming service on Earth [Editorial]

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For its flaws, SoundCloud is still the best streaming service on Earth [Editorial]

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Amid worrying reports that SoundCloud may well and truly be over the hill, it’s been easy for the music community to get carried away preparing obituaries for the stream titan that cite a lack of management expertise, flawed revenue model, and ill-treatment of fresh talent as root causes of an untimely demise.

However, to call SoundCloud ‘dead’ would be incorrect, especially in light of recent statements from the company and some of its more high profile supporters.

The fact is that, even in the most trying of times, SoundCloud has more visitors to its website per month than its main competitors, even while the number of registered users and time spent on the website per user has continued steadily dropping in favor of major competitors like Spotify and Apple Music.

It would be naïve to suggest that SoundCloud’s problems could miraculously vanish with a major cash injection that many anticipate is coming the website’s way.

For starters, the entirety of the company’s revenue model needs a stark restructure if any lasting improvement is to be observed.

A key contributing factor to SoundCloud’s current struggles is their despotic removal of mixes and singles due to ownership and copyright issues. Though there are surely two sides to this not insignificant issue, SoundCloud’s “three strikes” rule has adversely affected budding musicians and eminent producers alike—Martin Garrix’s music was taken down by the site at the beginning of the year.

By relaxing the rules surrounding the removal of mixes—at least those in which the mixer credits each track to the contributing artist—and bootleg remixes, SoundCloud just might be able to live up to their vision of being a “unique ecosystem where all forms of expression can live and thrive.” They could possibly even resurrect their faltering finances in the process.

Currently, the website’s independent artist base—which had been their main source of revenue until the introduction of their new subscription pricing option a few months ago—has been steadily shrinking while they continue to pay exorbitant rates to major music labels to keep them from abandoning a sinking ship. It’s just a matter of time before the such a system would implode as company strategy continues to turn its back on its core user base

The possibility of this scenario, however unlikely, should be taken as a serious concern. After all, enterprise owners have pulled the plug on more useful money pits before, which begs the question:  ‘What kind of post apocalyptic musical society could emerge once SoundCloud is gone?’

Well, for starters, such events would throw a serious wrench in the A&R efforts for some 20,000 independent labels that currently populate the website. This process of recruiting up and coming talent is essential for the all-round development of those musicians and, in turn, benefits major labels who bank on their indie counterparts to sift through a sea of prospective signees and filter out those with true talent.

Artists like Kygo, Seven Lions, Illenium, Martin Garrix and Mura Masa would not have become household names without the unprecedented, direct-to-consumer exposure that SoundCloud provides, to say nothing of their equivalents in the hip hop community. Other streaming sites simply lack the social and share-friendly elements that allow for artist discovery on the platform. If artists depended solely on, say, Spotify playlist placement as a possible break, indie development in the electronic music industry would seriously stagnate or even regress with time.

Let’s be honest, the discovery of new artists is the main reason the SoundCloud party hasn’t ended already.

Among an ever shortening list of edges the company holds over other services is its user interface which is more than half social media. No other website offers the combination of an instant feed, the ability to like and repost music to one’s own profile, or enables feedback on an artist’s work. On this front, the site’s only real competitor is YouTube—but mobile streaming videos can be cumbersome and data intensive, especially for mobile users.

Meanwhile, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora don’t even come close to reproducing anything near SoundCloud’s community-oriented interface. They are music streaming websites, and that’s all.

They offer no value addition to the streaming process whatsoever, apart from a smattering of user-specific playlistsmetric insights and simple notifications for followers when new music is released.

In fact, these websites are more suited to housing a user’s private collection and offering recommendations based on a taste profile, while SoundCloud basically shoves new music in users faces around the clock. While this distinction may not be of much importance to a casual listener, it makes a difference to tastemakers, label heads, and for music writers like myself. Perhaps I’m alone in feeling that I would much rather open a web page and have new music from various sources waiting patiently for my discerning ear, than scour social media for new music announcements, opening them one at a time across various tabs and servers.

Which brings us back to SoundCloud’s defining characteristic—a literally unfathomable degree of accessibility.

Though many readers of Dancing Astronaut live in the United States, many human beings who consume electronic music do not.  As of publication, SoundCloud can be freely accessed by citizens of 190 countries, boasting over 175 million monthly hits.

Spotify’s anemic outreach has brought the app to a measly 60 countries with an Alexa rank of 147 to SoundCloud’s 109. While Apple Music claims to be available in 120 countries, many of those regions only have access to certain features of the service. Countries like Qatar are only able to subscribe to iTunes Match—a service that depends on your ownership of the music, to begin with.

Both fall well short of SoundCloud’s global appeal inherently with their pay-to-play subscriber models that require monthly memberships and, often, the use of a native app.

As an Indian citizen, the biggest stumbling block to Spotify’s potential reign of supremacy is its lack of global support. Somehow, this region is dramatically neglected though India constitutes over 1/7th of the world’s population and is considered by many to be the next big destination for EDM. There is a reason that eminent producers like Hardwell, Armin van Buuren, and Tiesto visit India on a regular basis, and reserve high praise for the energetic, high-capacity crowds that turn up to their shows.

To be honest, it’s been completely baffling to see the lack of action taken by Spotify and other stream competitors to explore the vast, untapped potential the Indian market has to offer. The role I currently hold at Dancing Astronaut was predicated on opinions about music formed solely on SoundCloud. For years the site has been my bread and butter, as much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth. I sure as hell am not ready to let it fade into irrelevance unless a fitting heir is poised to replace it.

SoundCloud will continue to hold an ace up its sleeve, to my mind, as long as it continues to dominate the international market and toast its competitors with website traffic. The weight of those metrics alone could empower the site to play hardball with major labels over subscription fees to gain a financial upper hand. If the labels disagree and SoundCloud does go bust, 175 million users from 190 countries could potentially be without access to music.

Labels, artists, and users would lose too much. It’s in our common interest to ensure SoundCloud remains up and running for the foreseeable future.

One can only hope that such a bleak future would never come to fruition, as the solution to this seemingly complex financial problem simply requires SoundCloud to become the website it was always supposed to be—a music sharing community for musicians, by musicians.

SoundCloud is so much more than just a music streaming website, it’s a blissful, nearly flawless aggregation of different levels of the musical supply chain with the power to modify trends and shape genres. With any luck—and quite a bit of work—it could even remain so for decades to come.

 

Kanvar Kohli is Dancing Astronaut’s International Editor. Based in India, he provides a fresh, cogent perspective on the electronic music industry from one of its biggest emerging markets.