Industry News Courtesy Of Hypbot                   

Can Indie Music Discovery App 'Next' Find Success Where So Many Have Failed? 

Next-logoTinder is a mobile dating app that allows you to pick out those that interest you by swiping one way and dismissing those that don't by swiping the other. There's more to it but that basic action, along with the organization of content by cards or in small chunks, has gotten a lot of attention as a design choice. Next, a mobile music app for discovering indie artists started by a co-founder and former employee of Tinder, use swiping to dismiss or to like. It's nicely designed and a positive idea but, except for the Tinder connection and the design, it follows a long list of such startups, some still in the game, some long forgotten.

Tinder: Connect or Not

Tinder's dating app is getting a lot of attention because it's popular and that attention is focusing on the design elements.

Cards are one element. It's basically a way of organizing chunks of information in small rectangles rather than long streaming pages or articles or whatever else you might do with it.

Tinder presents you with cards featuring a possible date one at a time. You swipe one way to get rid of that card and the other to express interest. If two people express interest in each other, they can then connect.

Instead of having a long list from which you leave to check out one individual/piece of information and then return, you basically get a stream of cards but you can only look at one at a time and once you've said no you can't go back.

Next: Like or Not

Next, a mobile indie music discovery app, presents musicians in card form with 30 second video clips. You swipe one way to get rid of the musician and the other to like the musician.

You have to follow separately but a like is an expression of interest so I guess that's similar though the stakes feel a bit lower.

As Josh Ong at The Next Web notes, there are some glitches and the system seems a bit short of musicians to recommend but those things are likely to soon be sorted.

As he points out, Next was "created by Tinder co-founder Christopher Gulczynski and former VP of design Sarah Mick."

Gulczynski says:

"There’s a stigma around the music industry that it’s notoriously hard to monetize. What we’re trying to do is circumvent that by growing a critical mass of people on the platform, by coming around the backside. If the 'music industry' wants to be a part of it, we’re going to force them to play nice...Next is always going to be a home for the person with a guitar sitting in their bedroom. It’ll never grow away from that. The core of the product will always be focused on the little guy."

The motivation is great but I've heard this from so many startups that came and went or have entered zombie startup territory that I know that even true passion is not enough. Sure, they can do all sorts of things if they build a "critical mass of people on the platform."

And that's going to be quite a challenge.

Next Faces Some Serious Challenges

Beyond the glitches Josh Ong points to two other big problems:

"The company’s generic name will also pose problems for how users will find it. When I search for 'next' in iTunes, it’s the 16th result on the list."

"After swiping through a handful of poorly-lit, out-of-tune cover songs on Next, I found myself longing for mainstream music. Maybe I just don’t have the necessary indie fan cred, but I suspect that the average user doesn’t either."

Despite this moment of attention, there's a lot riding against Next. But they also have a lot of resources available at the moment. I look forward to seeing what they do with them.

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.

Politics of EDM: Festival Bans Plains Indian Warbonnets, Sniffer Dogs Not So Easy To Ban 

Beautiful_Indian_maidens,_promotional_poster,_ca._1899With electronic music a large part of youth culture, we're seeing numerous issues surface that have come up in the past. The trend of wearing Plains Indian warbonnets, aka "Native American headdresses," is being attacked and has now been banned at the Bass Coast festival. Sniffer dogs are also under attack but their presence at festivals is unlikely to change at this point given the almost total lack of political organization of those in electronic music except for some providing services at a local level.

Bass Coast Bans Plains Indian Warbonnets

Canadian electronic music and arts festival Bass Coast is reported to have banned "war bonnets," the relatively rare Plains Indian headdress that is sometimes simply called a "Native American headdress."

Of course, calling a Plains Indian warbonnet a Native American headdress is similar to calling a Scottish kilt a form of European menswear. Each has different significance in their related culture but the tendency of many in the U.S. to speak broadly of Native American sayings, customs, etc. is typically a sign of ignorance though often commingled with respect.

There are lots of terminological issues but the bottom line is that wearing sacred items from other culture because you think they look cool is disrespectful, self-centered and somewhat childish. If you disagree, I suggest starting here:

Native American Headdresses: Facts for Kids

Want to dig deeper?

An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses

But Why Can’t I Wear a Hipster Headdress?

Calling For A Ban On Sniffer Dogs

Dan McNamee, a member of Art vs Science, recently wrote on Facebook that he was encouraging Australian politicians to test a temporary ban on sniffer dogs at last weekend's Splendour In The Grass festival.

The basic idea is that sniffer dogs stress people out causing some to take all their drugs at once and, in some cases, die. History and a recent study back up this conclusion.

I assume it didn't happen or we'd hear more from In The Mix who gathered together coverage and also created a guide to "Drugs, Sniffer Dogs, Your Rights and Safety" (in Australia).

Wherever they are, most concergoers understand this dynamic, one in which we've been trapped arguably since the late 60s though one could put it in a larger timeframe as well.

Banning sniffer dogs could be considered a form of harm reduction, which works, as opposed to drug eradication, which is a dismal failure.

Honestly, some kids might stop wearing headdresses and the like but getting politicians and cops to change their ways? That's a tough one without an organized political base and the will to fight for what you think is right.

[Thumbnail image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.]

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.

Sony's Major Label Shenanigans Revealed By American Idol Lawsuit 

Wallace-collinsBy copyright and intellectual property attorney Wallace E. J. Collins III, Esq..

19 Entertainment, the record company founded by “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller, has sued Sony Music Entertainment for allegedly cheating artists such as Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson out of monies due to them. The lawsuit sheds light on some controversial accounting practices at the major labels and explores the minefield that is the various incomes streams that now comprise the modern music business. Issues raised include how a major label accounts for revenue generated from platforms like Spotify and iTunes, how advertising expenditures are treated, and whether Sony is required to share proceeds from battles on the copyright litigation front.

Copyright Litigation: Sony says its contracts with 19 concerning certain American Idol alumni provides for 19 to share in excess recoveries only from legal proceedings that Sony institutes in the name of 19 or a particular artist. Sony argues that this provision does not apply to proceedings that are brought in Sony’s name, including those aimed at stopping the broad-based copyright infringement of Sony’s catalog such as the action brought against the file-sharing website Limewire which settled for $105 million. 19’s position is that the contract gives Sony the right to sue in the artists' names and compel cooperation from them which logically necessitates that artists be compensated from the proceeds of such copyright infringement lawsuits. 19 maintains that Sony has many ways to bring a  lawsuit and that the manner in which Sony starts a litigation is of no consequence to 19’s right to receive a portion of any money which is attributable to the infringement of a particular 19 artist’s record.

Streaming Platforms: 19 claims that Sony underpays artists by paying the lower of two royalty rates on streaming income. Specifically, Sony treats music exploited on services like Spotify as "sales" or "distributions" rather than "broadcasts" or "transmissions." The effect of doing this according to 19 is to account for such deliveries as no different than downloads purchased. Sony says artist royalties are contractually tied to the language used in the major label's licensing deals with third party services. If that was not so, Sony argues, there would be no purpose in setting up a contract with two different royalty rates as Sony simply would be obligated to pay the higher rate. Sony argues that the language would be meaningless if it never had the possibility of treating streaming income as distributions. In opposition, 19 alleges that Sony is acting in bad faith by mischaracterizing what is happening in streaming which “robs 19 of the fruits of the Recording Agreements by purposefully avoiding using the correct operative words when Sony knew a 'broadcast' or 'transmission' was precisely what was occurring."

Royalty Escalators: The lawsuit also addresses what happens when consumers go to iTunes and buy individual tracks off an album. Though many of the songs were not released as "singles" per se, Sony treats them as singles to allegedly avoid having them count towards album sales that would trigger royalty escalators for the recording artists. Again, Sony points to the "unambiguous language" of the agreements: "If the parties intended multiple separate sales of Records that are not Albums to count as an Album, they would have said so" states Sony.  Sony says the interpretation that multiple individual tracks sold should be grouped as partial album sales "leads to absurd results," calculating the economic consequences being at most just "two dollars and change" even if millions of records were sold. 19 argues that its audit calculated an underpayment of $960,000 thanks to this practice, and further states: "It's easy to see that the labels can come out 20 percent to 40 percent (or even more) ahead if they sell 11 to 13 tracks individually to the same or multiple buyers, rather than the entire album in a single transaction to a single buyer."

Simon Fuller’s company 19 is alternatively looking to bring a claim against Sony for breaching its duty of good faith and fair dealing by allowing iTunes and other download providers to permit the "disaggregation of the Album format," allowing individual tracks to be sold for the alleged benefit of Sony and to the detriment of 19 and its artists. But according to Sony, "19’s assertion that the Agreements did not contemplate the changes to the music industry caused by the rise of individual track downloads is refuted by the fact...that all of the Agreements were executed after individual track downloads became a fixture in the music industry."

This lawsuit is still in its early stages but, whatever the outcome, it is sure to have important ramifications for the music business.


Music Tech M&A: Apple x Swell, CBS x Eventful, Kapipal x WeLoveYourSongs 

We-loveMusic tech merger and acquisition activity isn't just happening in the streaming music space. Sometimes it's even happening where people wouldn't expect it to exist. For example, Apple is rumored to be buying Swell, known as a news app. CBS Local Media is buying Eventful which offers events listings and promotions including music. And personal crowdfunding service Kapipal recently bought WeLoveYourSongs, a community for unsigned musicians that will now add crowdfunding.

Sources Say Apple Is Buying Swell

Swell's homepage describes them as "News Radio Rebooted." But they do or did have a music channel and with such radio content providers as NPR, they'll have talk radio related to music as well.

"Multiple sources" told Re/code that Apple is buying Swell in a deal "worth about $30 million."

Some of the team members are expected to go to Apple and the app will be shut down this week. I assume we'll see traces in future Apple radio efforts.

CBS Agrees To Buy Eventful

image from www.hypebot.comEventful is an events listings, discovery and promotions platform with a Demand it! feature to gauge interest and use for promotional purposes.

There is a concert section as one of the main forms of events on the platform.

Last week CBS Local Media announced an agreement to acquire Eventful for an undisclosed sum.

It sounds like Eventful will remain intact with a variety of CBS Local Media integrations.

Kapipal Acquired WeLoveYourSongs

Kapipal is a crowdfunding platform focused on raising money for "personal projects, charities, and causes by reaching out to friends, family, and online contacts." Kapipal is part of the Grow VC Group.

Earlier this month Kapipal announced the acquisition of, an "internet community for unsigned musicians and music fans."

According to the announcement:

"WeLoveYourSongs will continue its existing operations supporting unsigned musicians and helping music fans to discover new talented underground musicians, with a roadmap in place first to bring more crowdfunding support to artists and to integrate Kapipal’s crowdfunding platform in the future."

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.

Merlin Slashes Indie Music Admin Fees Another 17% 

image from www.musicindie.comIndependent music global rights agency Merlin has lowered its fees yet again. After a 50% drop on 2013, Merlin today announced another 17% reduction. As of June 1, the agency’s administration fees relating to commercial deals have been reduced from 3% to 2.5%, or 3.9% to 3.25% for Merlin members who are not members of local Independent Trade Associations. 

Citing the cost and nature of obtaining settlements and recoveries from infringing services, Merlin administration fees relating to those activities remain unchanged.

It is very satisfying to be able to announce another reduction in these fees after the 50% reduction we made in 2013, and we trust that this further underlines our commitment to continuing to deliver the maximum possible value to our members via our activities,” Merlin CEO Charles Caldas commented. 

Why Email Newsletters Are Still a Vital Marketing Tool for Musicians 

Shutterstock_204761359Email Marketing may seem a little bit old school, but the truth is, if you're taking a pass on this avenue you're missing a critical opportunity to personalize your band to fan communication. Having Facebook & Twitter followers and fans crawling your BandPage, Sound Cloud, or StoryAmp is fantastic but if you aren't utilizing those tools to point your followers toward signing up for your mailing list, now might be a good time to reconsider your plan of action.

Here's why...

With email distribution lists you have to opportunity to own and track your data. If you're connecting with fans via social media and interactive tour date platforms you've already taken the first step, but the second step is to cultivate those listeners into lifelong fans. You can do that by tracking your response and targeting your efforts as you tour based on the interaction you experience. Build your Email Marketing strategy and boost your career with these 5 tips from Dave Cool from Bandzoogle. Get back on the bandwagon thats still gaining ground on

"An email list is the ultimate in permission marketing. Once a fan gives you their email address, they’re telling you that they want to hear about your career, about your latest album, your next show, your new merchandise, etc."

[Continue Reading]

Apple Beats Deal Gets EU Commission Approval  

image from tech.firstpost.comApple's $3 billion deal to purchase Beats Electronics and Beats Music has received the approval of the European Union Commission. The trade regulators found that Apple and Beats are no dominate players in the headphone category in Europe, and what they sell is too varied to be considered closely competitive, according to TechCrunch.

U.S. approval is next, and considered likely.  

Then Apple and Beats can turn to the new lawsuit against them filed by competitor Bose.

Kayne West Declares Victory Over Coinye Digital Currency. As Usual, He's Wrong. 

image from content.animalnewyork.comEven the mighty Kayne West is no match for the digital currency revolution.

With his usual bravado, West declared victory Friday over digital currency Coinye for using his likeness and name without permission.  West's claim came after his attorneys filed for a summary judgement in NYC since most of the defendants - many of them 'John Does' - failed to answer his complaint.

But, it's not over yet...

image from www.coinyethecoin.comOf course, West and the headline writers at Billboard and elsewhere, seem to forget that the judge still needs to sign off on Kayne's request.  

And then there are the clone sites already cropping up like "The New Official Coinye Site aka The (most) Official Coinye Site Out There!". The site's creators go on to declare, "You heard Coinye is dead? Unfriend whoever told you that crap!"