Apple Music & The Make-Believe Streaming Music Market

Streaming Music MarketApple Music is the latest and greatest to enter a crowded space: the streaming music market. Like the other big new competitor, Tidal, Apple Music is only going to offer paid subscriptions, instead of ad-sponsored free music.

But why? Why is any company even bothering to enter this space?

There is no streaming music market. Period. Really, there’s no proof that people are wiling to pay for digital music at all.

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Why “Humans of New York” Proves Every Cynical Writer & Artist Wrong

Humans of New York is an experiment in digital art & journalism.A few weeks ago, a journalist met the President. The journalist was a blogger who took photographs and talked to people. He’s also the author of The New York Times bestseller, “Humans of New York.” His name is Brandon Stanton and, in late January, he managed to help raise over a million dollars for Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn, a school in one of New York City’s most impoverished neighborhoods… and helped the students and principal meet the President of the United States.

He told the story on a blog. He told the story through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. And, above all, he told the story through photographs of people talking about life.

Stanton is making a living taking photos and reporting on things. He’s not associated with any media publication. He took the tools technology has made available and used them to make a huge impact.

Stanton’s success isn’t just inspirational, it’s a powerful indictment of the cynicism permeating the art world when it comes to social media, art, and the digital world.

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Media Companies: Go Mobile or Become Social Media Serfs

Media companies have to go mobile or they risk becoming serfs in Facebook's kingdom.Media companies are having a hard time trying to get people to pay for digital news. When there are so many sites that just provide headlines and a few paragraphs of sensational context (which is what most people want, anyway), it’s difficult to convince readers that “news” is a product that’s worth any money.

That’s why media companies have come to rely on advertising so heavily. Right now, 69% of all domestic news revenue is tied to advertising. And how do media companies ensure that they get the most potential exposure for advertisers? They bring in traffic. Lots and lots of traffic.

Facebook is responsible for a huge amount of that traffic, so it should be no surprise that the social media giant is enticing publishers with promises of lots of traffic and engagement in exchange for a deal in which, according to The New York Times, “media companies would essentially be serfs in a kingdom that Facebook owns.”

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Digital Marketing for Bands: Everyone’s Doing it Wrong

Digital marketing for bands isn't a cure-all when no one is buying music.There’s a little tiny mushroom industry of music marketers growing. A lot of them offer digital services to help “promote” you. Bands are falling for it. Musicians want to believe that, with enough clever marketing on this magical thing called “the Internet,” they’ll still become rockstars.

The fundamental problem with this belief is that people don’t pay for music anymore. Sure, you might get 10,000 Facebook likes. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be making any money. Literally… any… money.

Now, it’s not like every band was making millions before the Internet. However, almost all of them could at least depend on one thing for sure: album purchases from fans. Maybe the fans liked everything on an album, maybe they liked two or three songs.

Either way, there was no other way for fans to consistently listen to your music other than buying your album. 

Today, there are dozens, maybe hundreds of ways for fans to simply not give you any money and listen to your music. Digital music has been unchained from the chain of commerce. And bands have become the missing link. This isn’t debatable: album sales have consistently hit new lows almost every quarter.

Digital marketing and digital music have become a music lover’s paradise… except any band that doesn’t have the popular support of millions of people is going to be left behind, leaving us with boring, predictable, faux-controversial, vanilla music that is as accessible as possible.

Streaming platforms – via Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube – have created a culture where “listening to music” is as easy as turning on the faucet. Just like water, music has become a utility. But if we’re being taught that music is interchangeable, on tap and always available, how do bands make money? 

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Don’t Like Native Advertising? Start Paying for News.

633408166_51157f74acLately, there’s been a lot of discussion about one of the newest advertising tactics in the journalism world: native advertising.

You might have seen it yourself, if you’ve felt the need to click one of BuzzFeed’s “10 Reasons Why You Should…” list articles.

You’ll have a series of copyright-infringing GIFs, generally stolen in some capacity from other websites, and, at the top of the article, you’ll see that it’s sponsored by Jack Daniels. Or JetBlue. Or whatever.

The idea is that people reading the article will start thinking BuzzFeed isn’t the only company that can put together some fun GIFs to help people avoid reading anything meaningful. That association will, in turn, benefit the brand.

The BuzzFeed / brand relationship is a dubious one at best, but investors are convinced – that’s part of the reason that BuzzFeed just got another $50 million in funding. The real issue for people, though, is that other publications – like The New York Times – are publishing “native advertising” content, too.

This is turning out to be a huge revenue generator for news publications and a great way to build brand awareness for the company. But when branded content starts flowering in every crevice of a news outlet’s website, it becomes more difficult to decide which is good to eat and which is a poisonous, subjective berry.

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Yes, The Goldfinch is Overrated… But Why?

The Goldfinch is overrated - but why?I’m not really qualified to decide what does and doesn’t deserve a Pulitzer. But I’m of the somewhat strong opinion that “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt shouldn’t have made the cut.

Let me break down this epic journey in rambling, poorly plotted, erratically written, Pulitzer-worthy material. And then let me explain why it spells trouble for the book industry if “The Goldfinch” is what we consider great literature. I’d warn you that there are some minor spoilers ahead, kind of, although, since Tartt fails to put anything at stake or develop any meaningful characters (aside from one), there’s really nothing to spoil. You read the book for the writing, put it down, and say: “Huh. Well, guess it’s over.”

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Want to Market Your Band? Start Moving!

Lights, Camera, Visuals.Recently, I found my way to a blog post about giving compelling business presentations and something struck me – the best time to market your band isn’t when you’re sitting behind a keyboard and rattling away on a website or tweeting YouTube clips at people.

It’s when you’re on stage.

And it’s not just the music. Anyone who has been to local shows knows that a good part of the audience is only half-listening to the music. Your job is to convince them that it’s worth paying attention… and the way to do that is to start moving.

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