Friday, April 24, 2015

3 Rules For Instagram Posting

Instagram image
For many artists, bands and musicians that are promoting their brand online, Instagram has become a favorite tool. There's been a lot of data collected on exactly what works and what doesn't on the platform, and that's lead to 3 main rules for using it for promotion.

1. Don't ask people to follow you.
While asking for follows is not forbidden like it is on Facebook (although few are disciplined for it), it's a decidedly uncool thing to do. If people really like your post, they'll follow you without you asking. That also includes using hashtags like #tagsforlikes, which is just bad form.

2. Don't bunch your posts.
While it's been found that most major brands post an average of once or twice a day, some average as high as 12. That said, they work best if they're spaced out throughout the day. No one likes their feed filled up by one user.

3. Use the right number of hashtags.
Unlike just about any other platform, the more hashtags you use, the more engagement your Instagram post receives. While Twitter studies have found that 2 was maximum on that platform, it's way higher on Instagram, with the ideal number at 11!

While many studies of social platforms revolves around users with serious numbers of 10,000 followers and up, its been found that the above rules work even for those with followings of 1,000 or fewer.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Facebook Tweaks Its Algorithm And Becomes A Useful Tool Again

Facebook icon image
One of the problems that artists and bands have had with using Facebook for promotion is that the network has made it more and more difficult to reach your fans when you post.

Five years ago you could reach just about all of your friends or followers with a post, but by two years ago that was down to about 15%. Last year it was even worse with the number down to 5% or even less.

Facebook is always tweaking its algorithm however, and has done so again, but this time for the better.

Facebook was getting feedback from users stating that they were worried about missing important updates from their friends, and as a result it will now push those to the top of the News Feed so people are less likely to miss them.

A new update brings three big changes. First, followers can now see multiple posts from the same source. Second, it will promote news from people that Facebook has judged that users care about, and third, it will now show less news regarding friends that liked or commented on a post.

This is all great news for artists and bands that want to promote a new song, video release, or gig. Where recently the best way to do that was to promote the post (meaning you had to pay for it), it appears that you'll now have a much greater reach to the people that care about that information.

Of course, it's still too early to understand just how much the system has been tweaked and what that reach actually is, but stay tuned for more details on how it well it now actually works.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is The Norway Switch-Off The Beginning Of The End For FM Radio?

DAB Digital Radio image
Norway’s Minister of Culture announced this week that the country will be switching out its national FM radio stations in favor of Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) in 2017. This marks the first country to make the big switch from an analog communications service that was a staple of the last century to a more modern digital version.

Many give FM radio credit for pushing music to new heights in the late 60s and 70s thanks to experimental playlists that deviated significantly from the tight Top 40 oriented ones featured on the large AM radio stations of the time. The fact that FM also featured a much higher quality audio signal that was broadcast in stereo during a period when hi-fi systems were a staple of every dorm room helped change the face of the music business and the audience alike in the U.S. By 1978, FM radio listenership had eclipsed AM.

FM does have its limitations, one being that it’s range is limited compared to AM, but a major reason for Norway making the switch is the operating costs. The Culture Ministry estimates that it costs eight times less to currently offer 22 DAB channels than it does for five FM channels. That amounts to a savings of around $25 million per year.

Another thing in DAB’s favor in Norway is that 56% of people already listen to it, with about 20% having that ability in their cars. DAB has failed to make the same inroads in the U.S. however, with 90% of the population still listening to FM at least once a week, according to a Pew survey.

One fear among Norwegian broadcasters is that they’ll lose too much of their current audience when the switch is made. The hope is by setting a switch-off date several years in the future, it will give its citizens enough time to equip for the upcoming change. The problem is that this could be just the impetus to switch even further into the digital realm by bypassing DAB altogether and going to an Internet streaming service like Spotify instead. Read more on Forbes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Twitter Updates It's Homepage For Those Not Signed In

New Twitter Categories image
New Twitter Homepage Categories
Twitter is getting a somewhat bad rap because it's user numbers seem to have flattened out at around 280 million, but it turns out that active users aren't the only ones on the service.

More than 500 million people check out Twitter every month who aren't signed in, and more than 125 million of come through the homepage.

That's one of the reasons why the network has updated its main landing page to cater to those not signed in.

Now new visitors will see a collection of curated timelines that show off the most popular parts of the Twitterverse, with choices such as pop artists, cute animals, space news, tech blogs & reporters, business news, and actors, among others.

The reason behind the change is two-fold. First, it makes it easier to check out real-time news and conversations without needing an account or signing in. Second, it now can also serve up ads to those people to make additional revenue.

Of course, if Twitter can convert just a fraction of these visitors to active users it could finally get around the user plateau that it seems to have encountered. And it would also help if it found a way to show Wall Street that there's more to user numbers than those that are actively signed-in.

For the musician this is all good news. The fact that there are more people viewing the service than the numbers suggest means that it's not yet time to bail on the network like many have suggested. Twitter is still an especially powerful tool for an artist or band.

Monday, April 20, 2015

TIDAL Fires Their CEO And Lots Of Staff

The infamous TIDAL relaunch
When Jay-Z's new streaming service TIDAL relaunched a few weeks ago with a lot of undue pomp and circumstance, you can be pretty sure that it didn't expect the backlash that ensued. Not only were music fans and potential users turned off by music's one percenters taking about making making more money off the back of paying subscribers, but fellow artists, producers and music execs as well.

It looks like all the hubbub has had some effect, as multiple reports have Tidal firing 25 staff members, including CEO Andy Chen. The company acknowledged that Chen is being replaced by former CEO Peter Tonstad, but the company categorized the other firings as "redundancies" and "streamlining."

In a statement posted by Business Insider, TIDAL explained the rehiring of Tonstad:

TIDAL’s new interum [sic] CEO is Peter Tonstad – a former CEO of parent company Aspiro Group. He has a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo. He's streamlining resources to ensure talent is maximized to enhance the customer experience. We've eliminated a handful of positions and refocused our company-wide talent to address departments that need support and cut redundancies. TIDAL’s offices globally will remain and grow: we are already hiring for several new positions now. We're excited about our future and what's in-store for fans who want the best listening experience.

Although TIDAL enjoyed some enviable press coverage after its relaunch, the reviews generally haven't been kind, with many calling the catalog insufficient and others reported that the difference between the $19.95 per month high-definition audio tier and the standard quality tier generally indiscernible under most modern conditions.

Even the exclusive music and video content promised by the company's superstar shareholders proved to be short-lived, soon showing up on other streaming networks.

While the firings may or may not be related to the poor launch, TIDAL continues to stay in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Friday, April 17, 2015

TuneCore Acquired By Believe Digital

Believe Digital image
Digital music aggregator Tuncore, one of the pioneers in that area of the music business, has been acquired by Believe Digital for an undisclosed amount. Believe is the French version of Tunecore only larger, operating in 29 countries.

Both companies will reportedly retain their current staffs and continue operating as normal, but will now be owned by a new corporate entity called Tunecore & Believe Digital Services.

The new company is now a heavyweight in music aggregation, reportedly responsible for 25 to 30% of all uploads to iTunes every day.

This merger may turn out to be a significant upgrade for artists currently signed to Tunecore.

Tunecore company stresses services more for the DIY artist who does everything for himself, while Believe is known for its artist hand-holding. The company features departments for marketing, radio promotions, and project management - all the services usually provided by a record label.

Of course, those services are all for hire, but just the fact that they're available is a step in the right direction for many artists that don't have a clue what to do after they finish recording and uploading their songs.

Usually mergers and acquisitions like this are to the detriment of the end users. This time it may turn out to be a giant positive for artists and bands everywhere.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Digital Music And Physical Sales Now At Equal Strength

vinyl kills the MP3 image
The IFPI, the organization that represents record companies across the globe, just released its annual Global Digital Music Report showing that worldwide digital music sales equaled physical sales for the first time. Digital revenues grew 6.9% last year to $6.9 billion USD, which represents 46% of total revenue, exactly the same as physical sales of CDs and vinyl.

Overall, the global revenue for music stayed roughly the same in 2014 as the previous year, coming in at $15.03 billion, which was down just 0.4%. Still, some might consider that a victory considering that digital music sales continue to increase at a level that offsets the decline of physical sales.

A data point that jumps out of the report is that the number of paying streaming subscribers now tops 41 million, which represents an estimated 46% increase. This brought in around $1.6 billion in revenue, or about 26% of the digital market.

What's interesting about the subscriber number is that many feel that it's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tapping the potential streaming market, since the report sites another 100 million users now subscribe to a free music streaming tier as well.

According to the IFPI report, a commissioned study undertaken by Ipsos across the top 13 music markets found that only 35% of Internet users accessed a free streaming service in the last six months. That leaves a lot of room for growth. Read more on Forbes.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Bank Starts Its Own Streaming Service, And It Might Make Sense

Streaming music services image
What do you think your reaction would be if I told you that a major banking institution just started its own music streaming service? If you knew anything about the music business, chances are you'd be incredulous. With all the existing competition in the marketplace and some deep pocketed players about to re-enter the sector in a big way, at first look this move seems to be somewhat misguided, especially for a major bank.

There may be one place where this action defies common wisdom however, and that's in Brazil.

Billboard recently reported that Brazilian banking giant Banco Bradesco (#63 on the Forbes Global 2000) entered into a partnership with Universal Music Group to create a new streaming music service exclusively for its credit card holders.

Now, read that again and tell me what your reaction is. I bet at least part of it is, "Why?"

On the surface this seems like a crazy move, but that's because we automatically think of the music industry of the United States as a reference point. The reality is that Brazil is a different animal completely.

According to the IFPI, Brazil is the ninth largest music market with $228 million in total revenue last year. It's also still a young market when it comes to streaming, even though most of the major players have launched there. Read more on Forbes.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How Many Hashtags?

Twitter hashtags image
Hashtags are such a successful feature with Twitter that other social networks have adopted them. They're great as a resource for finding topical posts fast, at least on Twitter. On other networks, not so much. This was the case with Linkedin, who experimented with them for a while before giving up.

There's been a lot of study on effective hashtag use in terms of the number that can be effectively used. Here's the latest.
Twitter - 2 hashtags work best, with the amount of engagement decreasing with the more you add. That said, there's 100 % more engagement if you use them, and tweets with them are more likely to be retweeted as well. Remember not to trivialize your hashtag, since they're best used to categorize a tweet. 
Facebook - It's been found that hashtags actually decrease engagement. Don't use them. 
Instagram - Contrary to all other networks, the more you use, the better since on Instagram, hashtags are used primarily to build community. 11 hashtags or more get the most engagement. 
Pinterest - Once again, it's been found that hashtags actually decrease engagement. Stay away from them here.
One thing to remember is that they now turn up in a Google search and many people do search for them, so they're worth using.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Google Lays The Groundwork For Its YouTube Music Key Launch

YouTube Music Key image
When Google announced last November that it was rolling out a new YouTube subscription service in 2015, the major questions were when and how much. It now looks like we're getting closer to having at least one of those questions answered if yesterday's email to YouTube content creators is any indication.

While the email doesn't specifically mention the awaited Music Key service, it does lay the groundwork for it, asking its content partners to agree to a new terms-of-use contract that specifically mentions an ad-free subscription version of YouTube.

According to the email:
"We’re excited to build on this momentum by taking another big step in favor of choice: offering fans an ads-free version of YouTube for a monthly fee. By creating a new paid offering, we’ll generate a new source of revenue that will supplement your fast growing advertising revenue."
When the new terms are accessed via the Partner Creator Studio Dashboard, the most significant paragraph is one regarding the split of subscription revenue. Read more on Forbes.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Apple's New Streaming Service May Have A Rough Start In Europe

Apple Beats image
Regulators in the European Union may throw a roadblock into Apple's upcoming launch of its new streaming music service.

Reports from both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have sited multiple sources that say that the computer giant is increasingly under examination in Europe in its dealing with record labels. As a result, EU regulators have sent questionnaires to major labels and other streaming services regarding their dealings with Apple.

The supposition is that the tech giant hasn't been entirely truthful with the record labels in the past and regulators want to get to the reality of the situation before the new streaming service is launched. The streaming network is expected to be part of iTunes and is based upon the infrastructure of Beats Music, which Apple purchased last year.

There have been reports that Apple has been pushing the labels hard for a new deal that would enable the company to lower the monthly subscription rate for the upcoming service from the industry standard $9.95 per month to $7.95.

While $4.95 is thought to be the pricing sweet spot, major label licensing deals have made that price point impossible except for limited feature tiers or introductory pricing. Read more on Forbes.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

At Least For Now The Album Makes A Comeback

Record Album image
The album has taken quite a beating for the last few years, as more and more music consumers gravitate to single songs instead. Last year's total album sales, which counts CD, digital and vinyl formats, dropped 11.2% from the previous year, according to the RIAA. Even digital albums weren't immune, dropping 9.4% as well.

The good news is that at least for one quarter, the album's decline has seen an abrupt turnaround, with digital albums up 2.8%, and overall sales down just 1.8% in quarter 1 of 2015, according to Nielsen Music.

Why the change? Many have pointed to Drake's digital-only album release, If You're Reading This It's Too Late, as a possible impetus for the album sales uptick.

Other's think that the increase can be partially attributed to vinyl's continued resurrection, with sales up yet another 52% over the first quarter of last year at 2.77 million units. The problem with that theory is that the format's impact on total album sales is still minor at less than 5% of sales. See more on Forbes.

You should follow me on Forbes for some insights on the new music business, Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.


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