Tag Archives: music industry

Apple Music: The Verdict

So the highly anticipated music streaming service from Apple Inc ‘Apple Music’ was launched yesterday (30th June). After a very public display of anger from Taylor Swift, over the lack of artist payment from Apple for the first free months in which they are offering customers a free service, the streaming site needs to gain positive publicity this week. Gaining such publicity could see it become an iconic name and possibly replace Spotify.

The verdict so far consists of opinions portrayed from some of the leading music industry publications. After reading Music Week’s impression on the new streaming service, it instantly put me off and I think the writer (Mark Sutherland) felt the same way too at the start.

Streaming is meant to be easy, instant, accessible and fast. His opening paragraphs portrays the opposite.

He goes on to explain that in order to even start using the streaming service, you have to download a whole new operating system for your computer. Like, really? Who has the time and energy to do that. Who would want to do that, just to be able to listen to the same music that is easily available via Spotify? I’m losing faith already.

However, there are positive aspects. Instantly being able to narrow down your choices to make sure your select music taste is what you hear… that is pretty good. After accepting all the terms and conditions etc etc and signing in to Apple Music you’re able to let it know what music you like after sampling some of their suggestions.

Also, the 24/7 radio service that is provided by the music streaming service is a great addition, especially for already established Zane Lowe fans who can now hear the music enthusiasts voice once again, playing music both mainstream and indie to the ears of Apple music subscribers.

Nonetheless, while Lowe may occasionally spout nonsense, his sheer love of music means it’s impossible to dislike him. And, ultimately, the same goes for Beats 1. At the moment, it’s rather like the early days of 6 Music: a potentially brilliant radio station broadcasting into a void while waiting for people to catch up with the technology. If people do, it could go from interesting experiment to appointment listening.

So I guess, if you can power through the faff of downloading a new operating system prior to downloading Apple Music, then it has its moments of worth. But, if you can’t get through that early stage. Then you’re never going to.

It was obviously clear as well, that the public feud between Apple and Swift was something they were going to use but in a positive way. As soon as you enter the Apple music streaming site, right there, right there in front of you is Swift’s 1989 album, so openly parading the image into the faces of new subscribers who prior to Apple Music’s capture of the content, has never been seen before on a streaming site. It’s almost like an instant stab in the back for other streaming sites that are unable to use the content due to company and artist differences regarding streaming royalties. But it has worked.

(http://www.musicweek.com/news/read/apple-music-the-music-week-verdict/062188)

The Telegraph has also jumped on the music newsworthy band wagon and done what most of us are trying to do in our head; compared the launch of Apple music to the much-loved streaming site, Spotify.

So here is the low down…

Both sites have roughly the same amount of tracks on their streaming service (roughly over 30 million)

Spotify currently has 75 million subscribers, of those just 20 million (I say just, because that is less than half of its total subscribers) are paid subscribers. We will have to wait and see what the figures will be for paying customers to Apple music, after their free three-month trial basis. That will be the moment where the success of Apple music is defined.

The prices are similar both £9.99 for premium service at Spotify and the streaming service at Apple music. However, with a large population of music lovers within the younger age sector… Spotify has got something right in offering a student price for their premium service of just £5.99. Many of my friends have signed up.

With other elements like sound quality, device ability and other technological factors that show that Spotify are steadily sitting in front of Apple music – it’s going to be an interesting few months to see how the future of Apple music pans out.

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/11699117/Apple-Music-vs-Spotify-How-do-the-two-streaming-services-compare.html)

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Swift Vs Apple: The Winning Battle.

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Well. She did it. She proved everyone wrong and actually did it. Apple have changed their payment policy for during their free three-month trial to customers for Apple music. Music producers, writers and artists will be paid for their streams during that free three-month period by Apple.

(Read Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple here: http://taylorswift.com/news/251533)

To be honest, I couldn’t believe it had happened at first. A big organisation like Apple, I know Swift is a big name and has a large following but for them to give in so quickly and change their policy was incredible. Good on her I say. She did speak for a large portion of music industry professionals who are just starting out in the industry and need to make money in order to continue their work, so for them, I am pleased.

However, I still feel there is a slight essence of greed from Miss. Swift.

The letter she wrote, there were aspects of it that, well her or her PR could have altered to make it seem less about her and more about other people. It just seemed a little too forward and demanding for my liking. Either way, it worked but is it really for the right intentions?

First Spotify and now Apple. She never seemed to have an issue with streaming her other albums, yet with her latest 1989 album, there is a bigger issue for her. Is it her or is it her label or is it both?

What ever the reason it has pros and cons within what happened. Whether it was for greed or because she actually genuinely cares about other professionals making money, Apple gave it and that large social media voice she has worked.

What still makes me wonder though, as to whether greed and the want for her own personal gain is behind the letter to Apple is what was brought up by photographer Jason Sheldon.

He created his own open letter to Swift reflecting the restrictions she has put in place upon photographers who take photos of her.

He says:

How are you any different to Apple? If you don’t like being exploited, that’s great.. make a huge statement about it, and you’ll have my support. But how about making sure you’re not guilty of the very same tactic before you have a pop at someone else?

With all due respect to you too Taylor, you can do the right thing and change your photo policy. Photographers don’t ask for your music for free. Please don’t ask us to provide you with your marketing material for free.

Too right. I completely agree with him. It is double standards. If she wishes the music industry to be fair with their paying standards, then it should be fair for all aspects and everyone involved. After all isn’t this what she was stating in her own letter to Apple?

Either way. Publicity stunt = succeeded. Well Done Taylor Swift. You have got us all talking once again.

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To Stream Or Not To Stream?

Swift Vs Spotify

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There has been a lot of debate within the music industry recently as to whether music streaming sites like Spotify, should be allowed to use artist’s content when the pay per stream is as limited as $0.006 – $0.084 per stream. In November 2014, Taylor Swift made a drastic decision to remove her backlot of music from the streaming site Spotify and not add her recent album release, 1989 to the sites domain. Why?

Well according to her own personal quotes, this is what she had to say…

“Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things. They keep running towards streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales.”

“And that places a perception of value on what I’ve created,” the star explained. “On Spotify, they don’t have any settings, or any kind of qualifications for who gets what music.

“I think that people should feel that there is a value to what musicians have created, and that’s that.”

– Time Magazine (Read the post here)

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So, is it the fact the music isn’t being ‘valued’? In my views, the music is probably being valued a lot more nowadays with the introduction of the online streaming site because since then, there has been a major decrease in music piracy and illegal downloads. Surely streaming sites are controlling the negatives surrounding theft within the music sector?

Ok, yes, the free subscribers don’t pay to listen to the music, but Spotify is very aware that there is a limited amount of income being drawn in from paid subscribers at this early stage of business and henceforth why the free subscribers are bombarded with paid for advertising. This is where the money comes from.

Some of you might be thinking, there is a lot of difference between the amount artists receive from streaming compared to CD sales… But what if streaming wasn’t available, that potential $6 million Swift could’ve earned from her 1989 streams on Spotify in the first week of release, would’ve gone down the drain on illegal downloads and piracy.

The CEO of Spotify took a stand against the issue and had this to say….

“Taylor Swift is absolutely right: music is art, art has real value, and artists deserve to be paid for it. We started Spotify because we love music and piracy was killing it.”

“So all the talk swirling around lately about how Spotify is making money on the backs of artists upsets me big time. Our whole reason for existence is to help fans find music and help artists connect with fans through a platform that protects them from piracy and pays them for their amazing work. ”

– Spotify Press (Read the press release here)

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In some ways, I can understand where Taylor Swift is coming from, Spotify do need to make arrangements with artists and discuss where the content is going and who too… I think her biggest criticism was that Spotify was ‘an experiment’ she didn’t want to be a part of. She wants Spotify to allow artists to segregate their music to specific sections, i.e exclusive tracks and new album releases for paid subscribers first before it’s free to everyone.

Yes, there may be improvements to make Spotify more ethical, but they provide enough information for their stakeholders to understand the company is new, it’s growing and it’s making adjustments rapidly. It also states how 70% of it’s revenue is put back into the music industry, so that’s good right?

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What are your thoughts on the subject? Is Music Streaming taking us from an age of illegal downloads to a rise in legal music consumption, which will lead to more net revenue for the music industry? Or do you believe streaming sites take away the right artists have and need to pay artists more for their content?

Let me know what you think on the subject in the comments section below….

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