Sunday, March 27, 2016

Streaming Is Now the Recording Industry's Core, and It's Being Treated As Such

"research has shown consumer awareness in many streaming brand increased in the last year."
Billboard - The access model is undoubtedly the future of music, and its services are finally showing a glimpse of their potential. There shouldn't be any expectations of reaching anything like 100 million subscriptions in the U.S. any time soon. Or ever. But, between strong subscription growth and increased brand awareness, streaming is now an opportunity, not (just) a problem.

U.S. Recording Industry Sees Slight Uptick in Revenue Last Year, Streaming Dominates Digital

Streaming services of all stripes have come a long way in five years. In 2010, the year before Spotify launched in the U.S., revenue from both subscription and ad-supported streaming was $212 million. From 2010 to 2015, fueled by smartphone apps and a broader shift to access models, that number had grown 655 percent, to $1.6 billion.

These gains seemed to have eased the anxieties that streaming services initially caused in the music industry over the last five or so years -- there was a noticeable change in tenor at SXSW last week. People communicated more comfort and complained less; there was less focus on royalty rates - - although industry participants have hardly resigned themselves on the topic -- and more attention on workable business models, growth opportunities and the value in fixing metadata problems.

Subscription service revenue increased 52 percent, to $2.2 billion, according to the RIAA's figures. Even more impressive was the $429 million difference between last year's revenue and 2014's. The average number of subscribers rose to 10.8 million from 7.7 million, a far better improvement than 2014's 1.5 million gain in subscribers.

Maybe it should be called "the Apple effect." Sources at subscription services have told Billboard their businesses recently have seen an uptick that's due, at least in part, to the arrival of Apple Music and the resulting increase in consumer awareness. It has long been said that the subscription model's greatest hurdles are awareness and education. It appears Apple has lowered those hurdles a bit.

Although it would be difficult to quantify Apple Music's contribution, research has shown consumer awareness in many streaming brand increased in the last year. In early 2015, Beats Music, the predecessor to Apple Music, had only 27 percent brand awareness, according to Edison Research. A year later, Apple Music -- Beats Music's new name -- claimed 67 percent awareness. Other streaming brands also saw noticeable improvement: Pandora rose to 82 percent from 75 percent; Spotify jumped o 52 percent from 41 percent, Amazon Music climbed to 51 percent from 41 percent.

Usage of subscription services has also increased. The percent of people surveyed who had listened to Spotify in the previous month rose to 13 percent early this year, from 11 percent in 2015 and 8 percent in 2014. This service is especially popular with the youngest consumers -- nearly one in three people in the 12-to-24 age group said they had used Spotify in the last month.

All these improvements don't even include two new sources of revenue. One is Dubset's partnership with Apple Music that will provide previously unlicensed remixes and DJ mixes to the service. Dubset's technology identifies recordings with these mixes, distributes to Apple Music and distributes royalties to all rights holders, both labels and publishers, according to the usage of their works in a particular mix. This technology will eventually expand to other digital services and should generate significant royalties from mixes that already expand to other digital services and should generate significant royalties from mixes that already exist but weren't being monetized. The other new source is SoundCloud, a popular streaming service that is currently underutilized. Licensing deals with the three majors has cleared the way for a subscription service that, like Dubset, will create revenue where none existed previously.

In the early days of subscription services -- roughly 2006 to 2010 people proposed different business models that would return the industry to growth. Some of these models attempted to capitalize on piracy. There was an attempt to monetize peer-to-peer traffic which failed, mainly due to a lack of metadata. Many people proposed the imposition of a tax on broadband subscriptions that would compensate rights holders while allowing people to acquire music however they chose. There have been attempts to bundle music with telecom subscriptions (more successful) and consumer electronics (less successful).

The current scheme of things is different than these proposals. Labels have made consumers pay for premium streaming services and -- by law -- allow them to stream music for free but with restrictions. There are problems but there's been progress. Making money with YouTube and other video services is still a work in progress, but has definitely progressed. And people still buy downloads. The industry might not be making money from every internet connection, but it is earning a stable, and respectable amount.

Click to read article on Billboard

Another Huge Donation for Bustamante Hospital For Children Courtesy of The Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation

The Bustamante Hospital For Children has once again received huge and meaningful donations courtesy of The Shaggy Make A Difference Foundation, a charitable organisation spearheaded by International Jamaican artiste Shaggy. 

Shaggy presented a cheque valued $55 million Wednesday March 20 at the Hospital in St. Andrew all proceeds from the Shaggy and Friends concert held on the lawns of Kings House, January 2016.

Chairman of the hospital, Kenneth Benjamin, said so far, proceeds from biennial concerts have allowed the hospital to purchase over 450 pieces of medical equipment. As reported in the Jamaica Observer the chairman, at the handing-over ceremony said, "Over 77,000 children are treated at this hospital yearly. This is the only children's hospital in the Caribbean, so we attend to children from the region also. Shaggy and his team have proven that they are all about making a change and not just another avenue for talk," and has served children throughout the region.

This year's proceeds will go towards several different ventures in the hospital, including the Intensive Care Unit which currently has a total of five beds --- far fewer that the required amount.

Entertainer, Philanthropist and Director of Shaggy Make A Difference Foundation, Orville 'Shaggy' Burrell thanked all the performers and sponsors who supported the effort and said, "the figure we make is nothing compared to what we spent.  What we make is a drop in the bucket to what we need; however we are grateful for all the support." 

This year the foundation partnered with iHeartRadio, which broadcast the event on 18 stations across the United States. Shaggy however made it known that with over 4 million Jamaicans living in the United States, they received little or no support from the natives, "there are over four million Jamaicans living in the United States, more than who live in Jamaica but the Jamaicans didn't step up to do their part" he said. "We raised way less than we expected from them." Mr. William Mahfood, Managing Director of Wisynco Group handed over a cheque valued 'little over" over $8 million the Observer reported, from a $3 off every purchase of a 'specially marked' bottle of WATA drive in January where over 2 million bottles of WATA was distributed for the purpose. While new company, Stewart's Auto contributed $1.5 million to the cause.

To date, The Shaggy Make A Difference Foundation has donated $255 million since it's inception in 2009 to the facility.

Source: Jamaica Observer