Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Google's Removal Of Pirate Links Soars

Take down notice image
If you're a content creator, then you may know how it feels when someone steals your content and passes it off as their own.

There is something that you can do about it online though. You can appeal to Google to delete the links to the pirated content via what's known as a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) Takedown Notice.

Google has been flooded with these requests lately to the tune of 1,500 per minute (25 per second, or 2 million a year), so it's happening more and more these days.

Over the last month alone, Google received notices from more than 5,600 different copyright holders targeting more than 65 million links spanning more than 68,000 domain names.

Amazingly, Google does respond in a timely manner and most links are removed quickly, although duplicate requests are common, which can slow things up.

Prior to actually removing the link, Google will downrank the URL in its search results, which is one of the main reasons that pirated content via torrent sites doesn't show up as high as it used to.

This applies not only to Google searches, but Blogger posts and YouTube posts as well, so be careful when you post something. If you don't have the rights, it could cost you your search engine ranking. On the other hand, if you feel that your content has been infringed, start here first.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Gigmor's David Baird On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

David Baird of Gigmor
David Baird of Gigmor
If you ever wanted to replace a player in a band or find a band to join, you know how difficult the process can be. Finding players of the same interests and proficiency levels really complicate things.

David Baird had the same problem when he moved to Los Angles (just about the last place you'd think that would happen), so the savvy technologist built a new platform called Gigmor that allows not only players to connect with each other, but bands and artists with venues as well.

On this week's podcast David will tell us how Gigmor got started and how to get the most from this innovative website.

In the intro, I'll talk about the implications of Pandora buying some of the assets of the Rdio streaming service, and the hi-res music logo that the RIAA just introduced that seems to cause more confusion than it solves.

Remember that you can find the podcast at BobbyOInnerCircle.com, or either on iTunes, Stitcher and now on Mixcloud and Google Play.

Adele Foregoes Streaming In A Last Dash For Cash

Adele live
Adele’s new album 25 was released last week and, as many predicted, it won’t be on any streaming services, as she and her record label make what might be the last attempt at some serious money from physical product before the format disappears.

That Adele should even be in this position speaks well of her music and her generally older fanbase, as the music deeply motivates fans to acquire her music at any cost (just like Taylor Swift and her last album 1989).

Although the songs from 25 won’t be on any of the major streaming services at least initially, you can be sure that by latter today it will be spread all over YouTube by zealous fans posting audio-only and lyric videos. Of course, these will be joined by official Adele videos, so at least some of her music will still be available on the largest streaming network currently available, especially now that YouTube Red and Music have launched.

While it’s easy to see why Adele (or her management or label) chose to forego streaming, the decision only postpones the inevitable. It might take 90 days or more before 25 appears on Spotify or Apple Music, but rest-assured it will be there eventually. 

The real question is how much sales might have been hurt had the decision been made to go the streaming route the day of the release of the physical album. In fact, it’s likely that the songs from 25 would have racked up some massive numbers on the various streaming services and might have even caused some new fans to register, which would have been a win for entire music business. Read more on Forbes.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Google+ Revamping Again

Google+ Collections
Google+ Collections
It looks like Google+ is giving it another shot, revamping the current service to better reflect what its users were requesting.

And what did they want? The most asked-for features were Communities and Collections, which the service is now emphasizing, making it easier for people to share their passions.

It looks like Communities is indeed going to be popular, with an average of 1.2 million new joins per day. Collections is still so new that most users haven't gotten their arms around it yet (see the graphic on the left to see what it looks like).

The new G+ has streamlined other functions too, making it easier to post, search and connect as well.

The new UI change can be a shock to users, so it's possible to toggle back to the "classic" design, although it will be eventually phased out.

To get started with the new Google+, just click on the "Let's go" prompt when you first log in.

Let me know if you think this is a good idea and if you'll use it more now.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Pros And Cons Of Pandora’s Rdio Acquisition

Pandora acquires parts of Rdio
The music streaming wars just became a bit more interesting early this week when Pandora agreed to acquire some critical assets of the Rdio streaming service out of bankruptcy for a reported $75 million. This will the second strategic acquisition that Pandora has pulled off recently, following its $450 million purchase of Ticketfly a few months ago.

On the surface this seems like it could be a huge positive for the company, but there are also a few potential land mines that come with the deal. Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pro: On-Demand Infrastructure Can Provide Growth
Pandora is acquiring Rdio’s streaming technology (as well as some of its staff), which could be key to its global expansion. Right now the service is only available in the United States, and to a lesser degree, Australia and New Zealand.

A real problem for Pandora until now has been its ability to expand beyond those territories, mostly due to the company not being able to come to a suitable agreement with the licensing organizations in various countries (which all seem to favor on-demand streaming).

The company is now more more likely to be able to grow, as having Rdio’s on-demand streaming infrastructure available as an integral part of the service not only makes for a more attractive package for the consumer, but may make it easier to gain approval to operate in other countries.

Pro: The Public Prefer’s On-Demand
Give Pandora credit, as it saw the writing on the wall that on-demand streaming would eventually become a clear winner with consumers over the radio-like non-interactive service that it currently provides.

This was blatantly evident with Apple’s recent entry into the market with it’s on-demand Apple Music after only offering the Pandora competitor Apple Radio previously. You could see the trend in user numbers as well, as on-demand Spotify’s numbers continue to grow while Pandora’s have been relatively stagnant.

Con: On-Demand Licensing Costs Are Considerable
While that on-demand infrastructure is important, Pandora didn’t inherit any of Rdio’s roughly 1 million customers in deal, mainly because it’s not buying the Rdio business itself. Maybe more importantly, it didn’t get any of its licenses with the record labels, which were non-transferable. That means that the company will need to negotiate these deals, which can be both costly and time-consuming. Read more on Forbes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

YouTube Debuts Its "Music" App

YouTube Music app
Don't look now but YouTube just launched another music app. This one is fittingly titled YouTube Music and is an audio-only version of its recently launched YouTube Red service.

YouTube Music is free to download, and there's a free, ad-supported tier, but you unleash its power if you become a YouTube Red subscriber for $9.99 per month.

The experience is optimized for music and allows you to search for a particular song from its 30 million licensed tracks. The key here is that when you search in the app, you'll only get music-related results.

It should be noted that the app doesn't replicate Google Play Music (which is included if you sign up for Red) as it doesn't allow you to create a playlist. What it does instead is create a playlist for you based on what you've listened to before as well as some songs that it thinks you'll like.

Of course, its ad-free if you've signed up for Red, but it's yet to be seen if that will be enough to attract new users.

If you're using either YouTube Red or YouTube Music, let us know what you think. Is it worth the money?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The RIAA Introduces A Hi-Res Music Logo And Some Confusion To Go With It

Hi-Res Music logo
While the number of streaming sites that feature hi-res audio is still limited (Tidal and Deezer come to mind), there are plenty of download sites that will happily sell you some very hi-res files for a premium price.

That said, it looks like the RIAA (the major label's lobbying organization) is trying to get serious about hi-res music with the introduction of an official hi-res logo (seen on the left). It's asking distributors to display the logo so music consumers will have no confusion over what kind of fidelity to expect, but it may end causing more confusion than it alleviates.

Interestingly, the RIAA defines high resolution music as "lossless audio capable of reproducing the spectrum of sound from recordings which have been mastered from better than CD quality (48kHz/20bit or higher) music sources which represent what the artists, producers, and engineer's originally intended."

Take notice the 48kHz/20 bit (it's not a misprint). This is a significant difference from what many online services (including Apple's Mastered For iTunes program) call "hi-res," which is 44.1kHz/24 bit.

There's virtually no recording done at 20 bit these days and that's been the case for about 10 years, so why not just make the standard 24 bit, which is what virtually everyone records at anyway? Also, why not just go and make 96kHz the true lower limit of hi-res, like in the real world?

This new logo and definition is bound to cause some confusion in the marketplace where there was little before. This just goes to show how behind the times the powers that be actually are.

According to the press release, "Retailers who have adopted the Hi-Res MUSIC logo include Acoustic Sounds Super HiRez, Blue Coast Music, HDtracks, IsoMike Recordings, ClassicsOnline HD*LL , PonoMusic, and ProStudioMasters. In addition to these digital music retailers, the logo also features on advertising and promotional materials of both independent and major record labels."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Apple Music Now Available For Android, But Will Anyone Care?

Apple Music For Android
Apple is finally letting the other half of the world in on Apple Music. A few days ago the company announced that the streaming service is now available to Android smartphone users. This now puts the service within reach of about 52 percent of the market  (that's about 1.2 billion users, according to Google) that couldn’t previously experience the streaming music app when it was relegated only to the iOS platform. The real question is, how many of those Android users are really interested in trying Apple Music?

Actually Apple Music Android can still be considered in beta, with two of its features, the family membership plan and Apple Connect videos, currently not available. Other than that, the app is same as what’s found in the iOS version. It’s currently available in over 100 countries, except for China, where the largest group of Android users happen to live.

A Look Inside The Numbers
On the surface, this looks to be a good move for increasing user numbers for the streaming service. Apple Music currently has 6.5 million paying subscribers a little more than 4 months after its launch. That’s good enough for second place behind Spotify’s 20 million paying customers, and that’s with being available to less than half of the available audience.

That said, the 6.5 million number may be deceiving, since many of those may have forgotten to turn off their subscriptions at the end of the three month trial period. This means that we won’t know the true number of iOS subscribers for some time yet.

The user number still may not get a huge bounce even with the release of the Android version though, since the new version won’t have the marketing momentum of the original launch. This may result in far fewer opt-ins to the 90 day trial period than might have otherwise been possible with a day and date launch on both platforms. Read more on Forbes.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Guess The Music Celeb Dropping His Album Via Lyft

Bieber Takes A Ride image
Music celebrities will use just about any social edge they can get these days, and it doesn't matter what the platform is.

In May I posted about Britney Spears using Uber to launch her "Pretty Girls" single, complete with a vehicle wrapped in custom Britney graphics.

Not to be outdone, Justin Bieber is making his new album available for early purchase via the Lyft app. Fans can purchase it for $5 from November 12th to 19th. If you buy it via the app, you get the download link at the end of the ride and a $5 credit towards your next Lyft ride (which makes the album essentially free).

And that's not all, the Biebs is also surprising random people by showing up as a passenger in the front seat of some of their rides.

Okay, so this might seem a bit over the top, but it just goes to show how hard even the top 0.1% of music celebs work at keeping in the social forefront and staying in the public eye.

If A-list acts like Justin Bieber and Britney Spears are using all the tools at their disposal, it shows the need to keep up with the latest in social media to make sure that you continue to reach your audience.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Why Teens Love Instagram

Why Teens Love Instagram image
If you want to know what a typical teenager thinks of the various social networks available, there's a great post by 19 year old University of Texas student Andrew Watts on BackChannel. In it he describes how he and his friends use all the popular networks, but what they love and hate about them as well.

It's especially interesting what he has to say about the current darling of the teen world, Instagram. In an excerpt from his article, here's why he says it's so beloved.
  • "I'm not terrified whenever I like something on Instagram that it will show up in someone’s Newsfeed and they'll either screenshot that I liked it or reference it later. The same goes for commenting.
  • I am not as pressured to follow someone back on Instagram, meaning my feed is normally comprised of content I actually want to see. That being said, I will come back and scroll through an application that has content I enjoy rather than one where I have to find the occasional diamond in the rough.
  • The content on Instagram is usually of higher quality. People take time to edit their photos with filters, use different brightness/contrast settings (it’s even one of the steps to posting a photo), etc., to make the pictures look the best they possibly can. This means the content on Instagram is normally “better” (photo-wise), so I am more likely to go back to the application.
  • Instagram hasn't been flooded with the older generation yet (not everyone has an Instagram) meaning it’s “hip” and “cool” to the younger crowd. However, it is popular enough that if you have a smartphone it’s almost unheard of for you not to have Instagram, if not to take pictures, but to at least tag people in photos.
  • Another point: tagging. I don't have to constantly check Instagram to make sure I wasn't tagged in any awkward or bad photos. That’s because you can't easily see them in your feed, making the whole experience seem way more private. Am I looking weird in a photo you posted? Who cares—I can just delete the tag if I really am that upset about it without fear that my friends from another social circle (who don’t follow you) will get to it first. I know Facebook has the ability to let you check every single photo tagged of you before it appears on your profile, but many people I know do not have that enabled or know it even exists.
  • People do not post 10000 times a day on Instagram. Many are much more polite about posting, either doing once a day, a few times a week, etc. This means that there isn't a constant flow of content being shoved down my throat every time I open the application, and it is possible to be “caught up” with my Instagram feed.
  • There are no links on Instagram, meaning I'm not being constantly spammed by the same advertisement, horrible gossip news article, or Buzzfeed listicle about the “28 Ingenious Things For Your Dog You Had No Idea You Needed”
There's a lot of great additional insight about social use by teens, so if you market to that age group, I suggest you take a look.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Indie Labels Benefiting From Digital Music

Merlin Network
It looks like indie labels are actually benefiting from digital music and streaming, according to a new survey by the indie music trade organization Merlin. The study contacted indie labels from 26 countries to gauge their health in the new digital economy.

The survey revealed that business was up for 65% of its members, and over half derived more than 50% of their revenue from digital. Only 16% said their digital revenue decreased, mainly because of a decrease in download sales.

What was significant was that around 55% of the labels said that their digital revenue was more than half of their total income, while another 33% placed it at somewhere between 25 and 50%.

Merlin labels represent around 10% of the global digital market share at the moment, but that seems to be rising. What it shows is that indie labels are beginning to thrive in our Music 4.0 economy as they learn the various ways to earn money.

While the major labels have gotten stronger in the last few years, that doesn't necessarily mean that the indies have become weaker. The music industry continues to evolve and everyone inside is learning to change with it in order to stay in business.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


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