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Apple seeking lower revenue share payouts to labels

Apple reportedly is looking to renegotiate its deals with record labels in a move that could reduce the share of revenue it needs to pay out to those industry players. Unnamed sources told Bloomberg that the talks cover both Apple Music and iTunes. The current deals are slated to expire in June, but could be extended if new terms are not reached, according to the sources.

Under the present terms, Apple initially returned about 58% of its revenue from Apple Music subscribers to labels. Sources said that labels would consider a lower rate if Apple is able to expand subscriber rolls and deliver on other requirements.

Other top streaming services have been pursuing similar changes to their label deals. Spotify successfully renegotiated a new deal with Universal Music Group for a lower rate based on meeting certain subscriber growth targets and windowing content. The willingness to shift financial structures could be a sign of faith in the growth streaming has seen in recent years. Streaming is projected to have continued revenue growth in the U.S. and internationally, and subscriptions are on the rise.
Jay-Z, a new album, and Spotify’s ongoing journey toward artist-friendly distribution

For the release of his newest work, Jay-Z opted to gate the album to his Tidal streaming service for one week. But even after distributing the music to most other digital platforms, Spotify still does not have 4:44. That may not be a cheap decision for the artist.

Industry insiders told Billboard that Jay-Z may be losing weekly payments of as much as $1 million by leaving Spotify in the cold. That estimate is based on numbers for likely payouts to popular artists and album stream counts following the release of a new album. Other performers such as Drake, whose 2016 album Views spent a long period of exclusivity on Apple Music, set that standard for how much Spotify’s large audience could boost royalty payments.

Given that streaming revenue is probably a tiny sliver of Jay-Z’s annual income, the choice to keep his new album (and several old ones) off of Spotify seems driven by personal principle rather than finances. Spotify’s market-leading position and large audience of more than 140 million means that it remains the face of freemium listening for many in the music industry, (even though it’s also leader in streaming subscriptions with more than 50 million paying listeners). There’s still a lingering reputation among performers of streaming devaluing music, especially at free and ad-supported tiers. Since the time when Taylor Swift removed her entire catalog from the service, Spotify has inked two major label deals that allow artists to window their work to paying listeners only. That was a sticking point for many artists, but Jay-Z’s action shows that there may still be an uphill battle for Spotify to convince A-list performers to distribute new releases on its platform.

Posted on July 25, 2017 by Anna Washenko
YouTube Red and Google Play Music to combine, but details are scarce

YouTube Head of Music Lyor Cohen said that Google Music Play and YouTube Red will be combined into a single property. Cohen confirmed the eventual merger during a session at the New Music Seminar event in New York. He said the move would help educate consumers and increase the company’s subscriber numbers.

There have been rumors of such an action for several months, especially after the teams for those services were combined in February. Lyor did not go into more detail about the timeline for blending the properties, and did not discuss specifics around if and how names, branding, or the apps themselves might change.

The announcement appears logical for the YouTube/Google/Alphabet enterprise on a few levels. Both properties have somewhat opaque, confusing names, and their connection isn’t obvious, even though the two platforms are closely related: subscribing to one service also grants you access to the other. Making their relationship clearer would make the experience simpler for listeners.

YouTube Red also still faces an uphill climb to convince a critical mass of people that it’s worth the subscription price. YouTube has a long history as a free service, and the value proposition needs to be clear to secure paying customers. As of November 2016, The Verge was reporting 1.5 million subscribers for the multimedia service. That’s barely a sliver of YouTube’s audience, which numbers in the billions.

On the other hand, Google Play Music underwent a relaunch at about the same time, introducing new features such as contextual song recommendations. In most research into streaming music habits, Google has a narrow share compared with YouTube, so it could benefit from tapping into the vast audience commanded by the video platform.

Posted on July 27, 2017 by Anna Washenko
BMI Members Receive Free Song Submission to the Independent Music Awards

BMI affiliates are again this year invited to take advantage of one free song submission after their first paid submission to the 16th annual Independent Music Awards (IMAs). Enter in any Album, EP, Song, Producer, Video or Design category here during the program and you’ll receive a free song coupon with your receipt.

BMI members who release their music independently, or who are signed to independent labels, can submit their recordings and design projects. Iconic artists including Tom Waits, Amy Lee and Michael W. Smith, along with fans, music supervisors and talent buyers from North America, Europe and Pacific Rim will choose the year’s best artists and releases. (Past IMA nominees include Macy Gray, Jackson Browne, fun., Killer Mike, Passenger and Flying Lotus, as well as BMI members Five Finger Death Punch, Valerie June, Melissa Auf der Maur, Elizabeth Mitchell, Girl In A Coma and Bent Knee).

Winners will be announced from the stage of Lincoln Center during a day-long music event showcasing IMA artists to fans and industry representatives during NYC GRAMMY week.

Posted in News on July 28, 2017
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