My Latest Podcast: How to write a dramatic melody for a TV series like The West Wing. I discuss how the melodic structure of the theme song creates a dramatic prelude to the show. Contact me at http://www.davidmitchelldma.com for music composition lessons. Share and comment.
Apple’s new Apple Music streaming service is due to launch June 30, 2015. According to the website and Apple’s WWDC presentation, it will be bring together all of the various platforms on which consumers like to listen to music.
According to the company, it will feature music streaming, artist videos, a radio station, curated playlists and “Connect” messaging from artists. All of which will be available on all your devices including iPod, iPad, iPhone and Mac or PC for just $9.99 per month for an individual membership and $14.99 per month for a whole family, up to six people.
Check out the features listed below and a screen shot of Connect, a feature which connects artists to fans.
In short, Apple appears to be bringing together YouTube, Twitter, radio and music streaming under a single application. Streaming and YouTube are the two biggest music consumption platforms, and Twitter is how most artists reach out to fans these days.
If Apple pulls this off, they will own the music industry once again. For consumers, this is a win.
But, what does this mean for artists?
Apple is currently pitching their service to artists as the ultimate place to “connect” with fans. What is conspicuously absent is any mention of monetary benefit to the artist.
I have read that Taylor Swift is onboard with Apple, a moderately good sign in the light of her stand against Spotify. Additionally, it is a paid service. There is nothing free here, as I understand it. And I’m sure, as you read this article; frantic negotiations are underway with various labels, artists and music licensing services to secure compensation.
That being said, I don’t see how it is possible for artists to benefit financially in any significant way. In my opinion, especially for the independent artist, the financial benefits will likely be negligible. $9.99 per month is just not a big enough pie for the industry to share, no matter how you slice it.
We will see come June 30th…
A live performance of “Lake Avondale” for classical guitar and piano featuring Jay Kacherski and Lina Morita at The University of Mississippi for Women.
This is the first in a series of blog posts covering topics related to music marketing. The slides in this post are from a presentation at the 2015 College Music Society Conference in Columbus, Mississippi. I was selected to present on this topic along with my fiancé, Jennifer Jones. Ms. Jones is a marketing expert and principle partner with Anderson Jones PR and Pinpoint Market Research.
Our presentation covered the online music landscape, creative case studies, the social media landscape, the new “publish or perish” model and questions to ask yourself as you design your marketing campaign.
This bog post will focus on the online music landscape, specifically, the pros and cons of online streaming.
The bottom line is online streaming is not profitable for musicians. The decision to stream your music online must be made with this in mind. Here is what the most popular services pay per stream:
The Streaming Business Model:
These numbers represent an average paid by each service, which can be more or less depending on how many streams you receive per month. For example, Spotify, used by more than 50 million people, takes 30% off the top and divides the remaining 70% of their $10 per month subscription between everyone involved in the recording. They do this by dividing your streams by the total number of streams on their service each month. On average, this works out to be roughly .007 cents per stream. If your song streams 10,000 times you will receive $70 per month on average. This is divided among your band mates, the producer and your label, so you’ll receive enough to purchase a Happy Meal or two, which would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.
This is why even major artists like Taylor Swift have removed their music from Spotify. According to Time Magazine, her estimated pay out for “Shake It Off” was roughly $280,000 to $390,000. Her total streams for this song were 46.3 million. If we use the high number of $390,000 and divide that by 46.3 million, the average pay out per stream was .0084 cents per stream. Not good, especially if you consider she must divide it between everyone involved in the recording.
By comparison, Michael Jackson sold an estimated 66 million copies of Thriller according to the New Yorker. Sources have estimated his income from this album was roughly $129 to $500 million. Admittedly, this was an album and not a single, but it does illustrate the fact that streaming pays a fraction of what record sales used to pay.
ENGAGEMENT VS. PROFIT
The upside to streaming is engagement with your fans. Streaming does offer the average, independent artist the ability to reach 50 million potential fans on Spotify alone. In a recent survey conducted by Pinpoint Market Research, 31% of millennials said they listen to music on streaming services and roughly 45% discover new music on streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, YouTube and Soundcloud (see the slide below). So, if your goal is to reach fans and drive engagement, streaming can help, but remember, you’re essentially giving away your music to get people to your shows and engage fans.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?
Before you put your music on a streaming service, you should decide what your goals are. Do you want to profit from the recording itself or do you want to reach as many fans as possible and drive engagement? If profit is your goal, consider placing your music on streaming services that pay the most per stream, probably not Spotify, Pandora or YouTube. If Taylor Swift can’t make a significant profit on these services, you probably won’t either.
In my opinion, musicians should never give away their music. It lowers the bar for everyone in the industry. Instead of racing to streaming services, which pay the least, let’s streaming our music on services that pay musicians fairly. Maybe we can reverse the trend toward lower and lower profits, if we insist on fair payment for our life’s work. For example, 10,000 streams on Spotify will net you $70. 10,000 streams on Rhapsody at .69 cents per stream will net you $6,900, significantly better.
If you agree, comment at #fairpay4music. Please share, comment and tweet your thoughts. Follow this blog for more information in the coming weeks. Let’s make a difference.
Musicians, it’s time we started demanding just compensation for our life’s work! Another case of “musicians being asked to play for exposure” has come to my attention. Ex Cop, a punk duo featuring Amalie Bruun and Brian Harding, was asked by the McDonalds corporation to play at their SXSW stage “for the exposure only,” and with no compensation whatsoever. McD’s is a mega corporation with a net worth of $97 billion – that’s billion with a B – and they can’t scrape together just compensation for artists? This arrogance blows my mind. When did it become OK to rip off musicians? It’s not the first time this has happened. Bruno Mars wasn’t paid a dime when he performed at the 2014 Super Bowl. In fact, the NFL floated the idea of having HIM pay THEM to play in order to cover their cost for the multimillion dollar broadcast extravaganza. They suggested he compensate them in a number of creative and self-serving ways, including taking a percentage of his record sales and/or tour receipts. Musicians, we must unite through social media to call out corporations, bars, club owners and venues who attempt to take advantage of us. We can use the power of social media and the power of the purse to make a difference. Let’s take a page from the LGBTQ community and boycott businesses who treat musicians unfairly. I, for one, will not patronize McDonalds until they make a change. We are not powerless to demand to be treated fairly. The power of the purse will make a difference! Let’s also stop racing to the bottom with streaming services who pay fractions of a cent and rip off artists at every turn. Check out compensation models below in a slide taken from a presentation I recently gave with Anderson Jones PR on marketing your music online. (Click the image to view full presentation). Please use this as a guide to put your music on services that compensate you fairly. Let’s wise up and claim our power to make a difference! Let’s start a hashtag campaign to call attention to abuses in the industry. Tweet #fairpay4music if you agree.
The opening theme for Boardwalk Empire is an excellent example of setting the mood for a television series. The song is “Straight Up and Down” by The Brian Jonestown Massacre, their second album released in 1996, Take It from the Man. According to Wikipedia, this album “is rooted in rhythm and blues and heavily influenced by artists such as The Rolling Stones.”
Click the image below to watch the video in a new window.
This song is anachronistic within the context of the show, but it sets the mood perfectly. From the start, the opening theme song and video draws you in, making you want to watch. It says, “this is hardcore. You’re going to want to stick around and find out what happens next.” It’s also clear that this show is not a sitcom. It’s a serious drama and stuff is about to go down, my friend.
So this theme song does everything a good theme song should do:
- It sets the mood.
- It let’s you know the type of show you are about to watch (sitcom or drama).
- It keeps you in your seat wanting to see more.
- It’s also kind of catchy. You can’t help but nod your head and say “yeah man, rock ‘n roll.”
- It’s also nice and short, just long enough to do what needs to be done without giving the audience time to change the channel or head for the fridge.
What is most interesting is the juxtaposition of a modern rock song with a television series set in the early twentieth century. Both Nucky’s suit, obviously 1920’s fashion, and the old Boardwalk don’t jive, at first blush, with the music. In addition, the series as a whole takes great care to make everything true to the period from clothing, appliances and cars to music,lingo and mannerisms. If you have watched the entire series as I have, you know it’s almost like looking back into the past, a postcard from the early twentieth century. This juxtaposition is curious and compelling.
So why did the producers choose this song over period music? It’s because period music no longer has the same connotations for a modern audience as it used to have for audiences of the early twentieth century. A modern rock song can reach an audience with more familiar music and push the right emotional buttons which have been put in place by years of exposure to popular music. Period music won’t make an audience think “hardcore, yeah man, it’s about to get real.” Period music does a great job of placing the series within the early twentieth century, a job the producers do so well within the episode itself. It won’t necessarily keep you from changing the channel or thinking “this is a show my grandma would like.”
This juxtaposition is also a classic film trick, namely, combining two polar opposite elements to create a more powerful impact, for example, playing children’s songs during a murder scene. It’s so wrong, it’s right.
In addition, the producers did a great job marrying the video to the music. In most cases, the music is written after the film is shot. In this case, the music came first (1996). For example, the highly distorted guitar is matched by the oversaturated video (nice touch). Also, the violence of the waves and the breaking of the whiskey bottle, at approximately 48 seconds into the video, match the raw sound of the grunge guitar solo which begins at that precise moment reflecting the violent, raw nature of the series as a whole. Also, the solo ends with waves hitting Nucky’s feet at approximately 1 minute 15 seconds with a brief reprise as the camera pans up to Nucky’s face ending at approximately 1 minute 20 seconds. This symbolizes the fact that this series begins and ends with Nucky Thompson. It’s all about his world.
I say bravo to the producers of this opening theme song and video. It serves as an excellent example of how to marry video to music and captivate an audience.