Industry News Courtesy Of Hypbot                   

2 Google Execs Forge Closer Ties With Spotify  

googspotOmid Kordestani, who us the acting chief business officer at Google is joining the Board of Spotify, according to reports today. And a former executive, Shishir Mehrotra, will reportedly become a special adviser to Spotify and CEO Daniel Ek. YouTube execs have said that they'd love to buy Sporify, if they could.  But do these moves, first posted by re/code, point to a Google purchase of Spotify?

"The new appointments appear unrelated, writes Karen Swisher. " And, to be clear, Google’s top execs often join boards of companies both with ties to the company and not."

Still, given that YouTube is about to launch Google's second streaming music service, both developments certainly are interesting.

8 Steps To Building Your Personal Music Brand 

Personal-brandNeil Patel freely shares his "Complete Guide To Building Your Personal Brand" which mixes notions of business image and personal identity in a manner that's quite relevant to musicians. Though some musicians would prefer to take a haphazardly organic approach to brand building that just leaves it up to others to decide who you are. But building your brand doesn't have to be a superficial process and Patel advocates the perspective that, "your personal brand is what separates you from everyone else in the world."

In a tradtional marketing industry sense, a "brand" is the "name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's product distinct from those of other sellers." I assume this goes back to things like branding cattle with one's mark and is the reason brands are often associated with logos and trademarks.

The term brand has expanded to include the public image of a company or an individual. Such an image is a holistic take on how a company or individual is viewed. While you can't ultimately control that view, you can establish a clear picture of who you are and what you stand for as a solid base for promoting your musical identity and conducting your behavior.

From Neil Patel's "Complete Guide To Building Your Personal Brand" (via @Buzzsonic):

8 Steps To Building Your Personal Music Brand

1) Create your personal brand vision

"The first step to creating your personal brand is to organize your thoughts and create your personal brand vision. This is the way you want yourself to be perceived by others and also how you want to live your professional and personal life."

2) Define your target audience

"Defining a target audience is a best practice for anyone that needs others to give them something. It might be a salary, an investment or money in exchange for a product or service. Whenever you need something from someone you go through at least some of the steps in defining a target audience."

3) Build up your online and offline assets

"Assets are the things you own that will communicate your brand message to your target audience. Assets are things like your own website and blog, but they can also be things like your Twitter username and your LinkedIn profile. Offline assets are things like business cards and or traditional newsletters that you send out."

4) Build your brand through outreach

"Outreach is the act of providing value to those that have established audiences filled with the people you want to reach. You provide value and in exchange they give you the chance to sell yourself to the audience."

5) Get free press coverage

"Getting press coverage can establish you as an authority in your industry. You can get access to audiences full of the people that can hire you as an employee, partner and vendor. Getting free press coverage as an individual can be a challenge, but it can be done and be done effectively leading to the opportunities you seek as you work to grow your personal brand profile."

6) Connect with mentors

"A mentor is someone that can provide guidance and friendship for your life. They might have experience in the exact life path you want to pursue, but that quality is not a requirement. Often, the best mentors are simply good listeners, educators and friends."

7) Monitor your brand

Patel shares tools and discusses ways to monitor your brand online. Remember that if you're going to work so hard on your brand you should also work to find out what people are saying and, ideally, thinking which goes beyond the immediate feedback people are willing to give you.

8) Be yourself

Patel brings things full circle with the reminder that though you are making conscious choices about presenting yourself in public that may sometimes require you to change your behavior or appearance, they should still be based in what makes you uniquely you.

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) also blogs at DanceLand. Send news about music tech startups and services, DIY music biz and music marketing to: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

Sparkplug Helps Musicians Rent Gear and Space From Each Other [Updated] 

Sparkplug-logoSparkplug is a new site and service that facilitates musicians renting gear and space from each other. But they go beyond just a Craiglist-like listing to add a system with such features as clear procedures, deposits and id verification. It's potentially a great service but, in what I think is a simple oversight, you can't figure out who the people running the site might be which kind of contradicts their trust-building features.

[Update: I've been informed by co-founder and CEO Julia Wilde that Sparkplug is adding an About page with info about the founders today, three out of four of whom are musicians, so that's positive news. I think letting people know who you are is really important and something I've seen missing at times even from more established sites.]

Sparkplug strikes me as a startup that could do quite well. It's self-described as a "community marketplace where musicians and artists can rent instruments, equipment, and space from each other."

Such a service helps not only local musicians renting from each other but traveling musicians as well. Sparkplug is intended to be global but their inventory currently includes only the U.S. You can browse gear to see what's on offer.

It's All About Trust

For Sparkplug to succeed a certain amount of trust will have to be developed and, as they state on their homepage, they're working to provide that:

"When you list with Sparkplug, you’re renting to our identity-verified users. When you transact through our system, we take a deposit for your instrument, gear, or space and hold it for 24 hours after the reservation is complete. From our stringent security measures to our 24/7 expert customer care, we’ve got you covered."

You can also see from their FAQ that they're working to create clear procedures to help facilitate rentals.

So it strikes me as kind of odd that, at least without a user account, there seems to be nothing on the site that identifies who owns it or runs it and where they're located. There's certainly no information that's designed to be easily found for someone trying to decide if this is a legitimate service or not.

However an article in Paste mentioned co-founder Jennifer Newman Sharpe who turns out to be a lawyer in New York

And who would be more trustworthy than that?

Honestly I think it's just an oversight and perhaps not an issue to that many people once they see the pretty pictures of gear.

What's This Got To Do With Sharing?

On a side note, you'll see Sparkplug being described as part of the "sharing economy." That's not the old-fashioned "loaning stuff out for free" or "here, have some" kind of sharing. Instead it's referring to everyday people renting out their property (Airbnb) and possessions (Sparkplug) sometimes with added services (Uber).

So it's a Silicon Valley version of sharing in that it's transformed into something which can be both faciliated and monetized via startups such as Sparkplug. Which is actually a great thing except for the part where they call it sharing.

More:

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) also blogs at DanceLand. Send news about music tech startups and services, DIY music biz and music marketing to: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

How Some Managers and Agents Benefit From Piracy and Low-Paying Streaming Music 

Trichordist_logo_400x400By David Lowery of The Trichordist.

Seems like every six months or so I have friends forward me an article or interview with a manager or agent extolling the virtues of streaming (and sometimes even piracy.) Usually this comes with some note that reads something like this “Agent/Manager X thinks streaming/piracy is a good thing, Why don’t you?” I am always perplexed by this. Of course some managers and agents love streaming and piracy! Less revenue from recorded music means their artists must play more and more live shows to make up the difference. I thought everyone knew this.

You see managers and agents make virtually all their money from an artist’s live performance not from the artist’s recorded music. However screwed up it might seem from an artist’s perspective it makes perfect financial sense (at least in the short term) for managers and agents to turn a blind eye to piracy and low payouts for streaming. Precisely because it seems to result in more touring. You can’t really blame them for this can you?

I teach a class on the finance and economics of the music business at the University of Georgia. I usually spend at least one lecture on the differing financial incentives for artists, managers and agents, and in particular how managers and agents are often incentivized to work against the artists long term interest. Let me try to summarize that lecture here. Especially how it relates to streaming and piracy.

First , have artists resorted to playing more shows to make up for declining revenues from their recordings? In my case? Yes, absolutely. So have virtually all my friends. There are plenty of anecdotal stories of artists touring into their old age because recorded music royalties have dropped off. Levon Helm of The Band is one tragic case and here’s Robert Hunter from The Grateful Dead spelling it out clearly. But you don’t have to rely on anecdotal data as it is clearly reflected in the records kept by companies like Pollstar. It depends on how you interpret the data but even the most conservative reading suggests there has been a 200% rise in the number of shows since the advent of Napster. Now this would all be great news except that average attendance has fallen and any gains in revenue appear to have gone to the top 1% of acts.

So why is this good news for managers and agents but not artists? You have to consider the order in which people are compensated. Managers and agents are paid first and off the top before expenses. Artists are paid last and after expenses. Let me explain.

Agents.

An agent’s only source of revenue is commissions on live performance. So if artists play more shows this is generally good for agents. But dig a little deeper. Specifically agents usually receive 10% of gross. Not net, but gross. You get what that means, right? Whether the artist makes a profit or loss on the show the agents commission comes off the top. The agent always gets paid.

Example: a baby band gets a $500 club show but it costs them $465 dollars, in hotels, gas, rental vehicle, meals etc. The agent still get’s his/her 50 bucks. Off the top. Before expenses. So the band would actually lose $15 dollars on that show.

A more subtle example is to examine what happens when a band that normally plays 75 shows a year suddenly starts playing 150 shows a year to make up for lost recording revenue. My wife is a concert promoter and books hundreds of shows every year. We see this situation all the time. We are very familiar with what happens. In order to accomplish this an artist may needs to play smaller rooms; go into smaller markets and overplay and hence saturate some major markets. The artists annual gross for live shows will not double as the result of playing twice as many shows. If the band is lucky they will see a rise in revenue of around 50%. But unfortunately for the band, expenses may come close to doubling! As a result the artist usually only sees a small increase in their income since they get paid after expenses. In some cases I’ve seen artists actually earn less by doing more shows! I think this was the case for my band in 2007! Regardless the 50% rise in gross revenues never turns into 50% rise in income to the artist. But the agent DOES see a 50% increase in income. As a result the agent has a much bigger financial incentive to see an artist play more shows even if the artists doesn’t see a substantial increase in income.

Managers.

Unlike agents, a manager typically does make money from recorded music revenue. So you would think a manager might be more concerned about piracy and low payouts from streaming services. But as it turns out managers make such a small percentage from recorded music revenues when compared to live revenues their financial incentives are no different than agents. Again let me lay it out for you.

Like agents, managers are paid a gross percentage on their artists live revenues. Typically a manager will get between 15%-20% of gross from concerts. But it is customary that a manager take their cut of all other income after all expenses have been deducted, i.e. they get paid when the artist (finally) gets paid.

So for instance if a band receives a recording advance of $70,000 and the band spends $50,000 recording the album, the manager only gets 20% of $20,000 not $70,000!

Similarly an artist is typically compensated for recorded music with an “Artist Royalty” of 10-20% of the wholesale price of a download, “stream” or CD. So a manager’s 15-20% of that means a manager only nets 1.5%-4% of recorded music revenue. And these royalties are only payable after the artist has recouped it’s recording and promotion costs. So in practice a manager receives very little money from these sources.

Finally a time-tested way for a manager to generate additional revenue is to get the label to pay for “tour support” and send the artist out on an otherwise unprofitable tour. Stick with me on this one cause this is brilliant scam.

Let’s say band X is planning a tour and they have gross guarantees of $50,000 dollars but they have $60,000 in expenses. The band would normally cancel this tour and the manager would get nothing. Instead the manager requests 10k in tour support from the record label. The record label hoping to generate sales agrees. The band then goes out on a break even tour but the manager still pockets 20% of $50,000 which is $10,000. Now where does that $10,000 in tour support really come from? Does it really come from the label? No. It’s almost always configured as an advance against the artist’s royalties. So in effect the manager has traded 20% cut of $10,000 in future artist royalties for 20% cut of $50,000 in live revenues. The manager turned $2,000 potential commission into $10,000 actual bird-in-the-hand commission.

There are a zillion of these clever tricks that managers have dreamed up over the years, but that’s not really the point of this post. The point is that managers and agents don’t really make anything off of recorded music revenues at least when you compare it to the amount they make off of live concerts. Managers and agents have never really cared about revenue from recorded music and they have even less incentive to care about it now that streaming has obliterated what little revenue there was.

So managers and agents are free to say whatever they want about streaming and piracy. But just remember what’s good for managers and agents is not necessarily what is good for artists. Keep that in mind next time you see an agent or manager extoll the “virtues” of streaming or piracy. Heck some managers even own pieces of these low paying streaming services or worse unlicensed services that pay nothing to artists. No wonder they love streaming and piracy.

 

Feature.fm Sets Song Promo Platform Launch, 8Tracks Partnership [We've Got 100 Free Trials!] 

image from aboutstartups.frSong promotion platform Feature.fm will exit beta tomorrow, and with the unveiling comes an important new partnership with popular indie music discovery site 8Tracks. Feature.fm inserts songs on targeted streaming radio stations to replace audio ads. Included are tools to interact with fans and an analytics dashboard to measure success.

100 Hypebot Readers Get 100 Free Song Plays. 

Not every song submitted is chosen and artists set the length and cost of their campaign. Costs range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, with the average indie band spending about $250. With each targeted song play, the artist or label gets the song naturally integrated into 8Tracks pus a premium banner ad. 

Pay For Play?

image from www.digitalmusicnews.comPay for play can be a tough sell for many artists. But the startup makes this pitch: A Facebook ad could cost around $1 per click with no guarantee the music gets heard.  Feature.fm costs between $.05 and $.17 on average; and if it results in additional plays from sharing or repeat listening, those plays are free.

"The best way to promote an artist's music is to simply let the music speak for itself.," co-founder and CEO Lior Aharon tells Hypebot. "We believe that every artist should be able to use their limited marketing budget to get their music played to a highly targeted audience. Our mission is to help up and coming artists gain exposure." 

Here's a video intro on how feature.fm works:

 

Free Trial

To try out feature.fm, the first 100 Hypebot readers who up load a song get 100 plays free.  Sign up here and use the discount code hypebot.

Be sure to come back here and tell us what you think.

On The Music Industry Jobs Board: Paid Internship @ Babygrande Records, Cashmere & More 

image from www.google.comNew on the Hypebot Jobs Board is a paid intership at Babygrande Records. There's also an opening for a Senior Publicist the Cashmere Agency. House Cult is looking for one or more co-founders including a designer/front-end developer. Details on these opportunities and more are on Hypebot's Music Industry Jobs Board.

HIRING?  How To Post Your Job:

You can also post a job here for just $29 for 30 days. 

That small fee includes exposure on Hypebot.com, on our social media channels and across the web on the Simply Hired network. 

MusicPlay Analytics and LuckyPennie Join The Brandery Accelerator's New Class 

BranderyCinncinnati's The Brandery is considered one of the top tech startup accelerators. They help startups in the early stages to further develop and seek funding. The Brandery just took in a new batch of startups including two in the music tech space. LuckyPennie combines music and event discovery with social elements in an interesting mix. MusicPlay Analytics wants to track music played in business so that licensing fees can be distributed to the actual musicians whose music is played.

The Brandery was already considered a top accelerator when an academic study solidified that status in 2013 with wide coverage in the tech press.

Their accelerator program runs for four months in which startup teams receive support in various forms including mentorship and $20k in seed funding. For a startup being in a top accelerator does not insure future funding but makes it much more likely by giving the startup an initial stamp of approval, raising their visibility and connecting them to a growing network of investors.

The Brandery just inducted a new class of startups with two in the music space.

LuckyPennie: Music, Shows, Friends

LuckyPennie is an iOS app that has been described in various ways but I like this one:

"LuckyPennie seeks to bridge the gap between...social networks and music sites and serve as a digital hub for the local music scene."

LuckyPennie's homepage says that they connect you with music, local shows and friends.

They do this with such features as The Wall's activity feed and LP Radio's streaming music mixes.

MusicPlay Analytics: Pay The Right Musicians

MusicPlay Analytics is hoping to interest Performing Rights Organizations in paying the right people licensing fees for music played in bars and restaurants. Currently those payouts are based on local radio, as I understand it, which is one of the more bizarre examples of just how ridiculous the game can be.

MusicPlay Analytics seeks to correct this situation by distributing:

"monitoring devices to the establishments that are then plugged into an audio source. Audio passes through the device uninterrupted and song information is collected. This information is then transmitted wirelessly back to MusicPlay Analytics to allow for customized reporting and other various uses."

It makes a lot of sense except for one thing. MusicPlay Analytics is assuming that the various entities and organizations who handle money on behalf of musicians want transparency. History suggests that's not always the case but we may be finally reaching the point where things are changing.

Best of luck to both startups as they enter a new phase of life.

More:

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) also blogs at DanceLand. Send news about music tech startups and services, DIY music biz and music marketing to: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

MusicPlay Analytics and LuckyPennie Join The Brandery Accelerator's New Class 

BranderyCinncinnati's The Brandery is considered one of the top tech startup accelerators. They help startups in the early stages to further develop and seek funding. The Brandery just took in a new batch of startups including two in the music tech space. LuckyPennie combines music and event discovery with social elements in an interesting mix. MusicPlay Analytics wants to track music played in business so that licensing fees can be distributed to the actual musicians whose music is played.

The Brandery was already considered a top accelerator when an academic study solidified that status in 2013 with wide coverage in the tech press.

Their accelerator program runs for four months in which startup teams receive support in various forms including mentorship and $20k in seed funding. For a startup being in a top accelerator does not insure future funding but makes it much more likely by giving the startup an initial stamp of approval, raising their visibility and connecting them to a growing network of investors.

The Brandery just inducted a new class of startups with two in the music space.

LuckyPennie: Music, Shows, Friends

LuckyPennie is an iOS app that has been described in various ways but I like this one:

"LuckyPennie seeks to bridge the gap between...social networks and music sites and serve as a digital hub for the local music scene."

LuckyPennie's homepage says that they connect you with music, local shows and friends.

They do this with such features as The Wall's activity feed and LP Radio's streaming music mixes.

MusicPlay Analytics: Pay The Right Musicians

MusicPlay Analytics is hoping to interest Performing Rights Organizations in paying the right people licensing fees for music played in bars and restaurants. Currently those payouts are based on local radio, as I understand it, which is one of the more bizarre examples of just how ridiculous the game can be.

MusicPlay Analytics seeks to correct this situation by distributing:

"monitoring devices to the establishments that are then plugged into an audio source. Audio passes through the device uninterrupted and song information is collected. This information is then transmitted wirelessly back to MusicPlay Analytics to allow for customized reporting and other various uses."

It makes a lot of sense except for one thing. MusicPlay Analytics is assuming that the various entities and organizations who handle money on behalf of musicians want transparency. History suggests that's not always the case but we may be finally reaching the point where things are changing.

Best of luck to both startups as they enter a new phase of life.

More:

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) also blogs at DanceLand. Send news about music tech startups and services, DIY music biz and music marketing to: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

Spotify Plans Global Expansion, Says Top Exec 

Spotify logoSpotify is planning to expand its music streaming service to many other countries in Asia and globally in the next 12 to 18 months, according to a top Spotify international executive. Currently Deezer is ahead globally with 182 countries worldwide and plans to add the U.S. and others this year.  Spotify is only available in 57 countries. But that may be about to change.

“We want to be everywhere," Sunita Kaur, director of Asia at Spotify, tells TNW.  And Spotify's recent moves into mobile are key to finding success in emerging markets.   About half of the world’s mobile connections are now in Asia Pacific - 1.6 billion subscribers, according to the GSM Association.

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