YouTube’s Music Service Could Screw Indie Musicians – Here’s Why

Youtube's premium service means heartbreak for indie musicians.It’s been an uphill battle for indie musicians to make a living. Forever. Dwindling CD sales haven’t helped much, either, along with the pittances paid by streaming radio stations like Pandora and Spotify.

Well, as rumored, YouTube is planning a premium subscription music service now. And, as expected, indie artists are apparently getting way worse deals than the major labels. If they don’t sign onto the new service as it rolls out, they risk being dropped from YouTube “in a matter of days.”

That would be fine if YouTube wasn’t aggressively persuading (ahem, forcing) indies to join the music service.

From The Guardian:

[Trade organization] WIN claims that the company [YouTube] has signed lucrative licensing deals with major labels Universal, Warner and Sony, while demanding that independent labels sign up to inferior terms or face having their videos blocked from YouTube’s free service.

Seem a little harsh? Maybe, you might be thinking, the videos would just be blocked from YouTube’s new music service, not the whole site. According to WIN – and clarified by The Guardian:

“If labels don’t sign up for YouTube’s new paid music service at the (non-negotiable) terms, their entire catalogues will be blocked on YouTube – all of YouTube, not just the new premium bit.”

That means the rug has essentially been ripped out from underneath musicians’ feet. All of the music videos, albums, and songs independent artists have uploaded to YouTube, the things that have gotten thousands upon thousands of views for YouTube… might disappear. If you don’t sign something.

So how did we get here? And is there any escape?

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Bands: Don’t Forget This One Thing When Marketing Online

Bands need to build a local following before going crazy with online marketing.The promise of going viral has never sounded so sweet. From Rebecca Black’s “Friday” to the newly viral and morbidly interesting “Brick in Yo Face” by Stitches, marketing your band online seems like it has magical powers.

One day, you make a YouTube video. The next… well… you’re famous. Right?

Or maybe you’ll find the answer in Facebook and Twitter and ReverbNation, instead. If you spend enough money online and have a good website, won’t that make sure your band gets heard?

If you’ve tried all of this stuff, or you’ve thought about trying it, you might already know the answer. In the scramble to market their music online, bands are forgetting one vital thing:

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5 Boston Music Tech Start-Ups You Should Know About

Boston Music Tech Meet UpWe might already be entering the era of music business 3.0.

That’s at least what the CEO of music technology start-up Gideen told me in my recent interview with him.

I like the term. It acknowledges that streaming and downloadable songs (music business 2.0) existed before this new wave of music tech start-ups.

And also acknowledges that streaming and downloads are, slowly but surely, failing musicians.

To be a musician has always been a very poor career move, but you could at least count on album sales to stay (kinda) afloat. That option’s gone, because most people aren’t willing to spend money on music. Digital downloads are dropping. Streaming pays tiny shards of pennies to artists.

So what kind of technology can actually help bands make music, distribute music and get paid? I went to a Boston Music Tech Meetup last week to find out.

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3 New Ways You Can Sell CDs at Shows

Bands can still sell CDs at shows, but you have to think differently.It’s harder than ever -literally, ever – for bands to sell CDs at shows. People just don’t buy them anymore. CD sales are at an all-time low.

In December 2000, 785.14 albums were sold.

In 2013, that number dropped to 289.41 million. This past January, sales reached another record weekly low.

My laptop doesn’t even have a place to put CDs. Itunes has been offering a digital alternative for years. Streaming radio stations like Spotify & Pandora have made the process of music-to-ears even smoother… and free-er.

Iphones and iPads don’t play CDs.

But bands keep trying to sell them shows, because it’s still one of the most straightforward ways to make money from music. But trying to sell a CD at a show full of music lovers with smartphones is like trying to sell a DVD to someone with Netflix. Or iTunes. Or Amazon. Or Google Play.

Trust me, they’ve moved onto something else.

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Forget iTunes & Pandora: Gideen Offers Bands A New Way to Make Money Online

Online marketing for music has been one of the most hyped up things in the past few years. It seems simple, right? You release a song online. Promote it through some savvy Facebook marketing or YouTube videos.

Then, suddenly, you’re Viral.

As most bands know, the reality is different. You can drop $50 “boosting” a Facebook post for $0 in return. YouTube channels become haunted houses of cobwebs and shakily filmed videos of you playing in an empty bar. And streaming stations have destroyed a mid-market brand of listener and both Spotify and Pandora pay musicians terribly.

In the pursuit of precious exposure, musicians are leaving revenue far, far behind.

I haven’t yet come across a reliable way for bands to make (decent) money online… but I think I might have found one on the horizon. Gideen is a start-up, an online music platform that taps the best of every world to create what CEO Heiko Schmidt calls “a 3.0 music business model,” which casts aside the $1 song completely.

Fueled by fans, musicians, advertisers, artists of all stripes and a lot of songs, Gideen is hoping to revolutionize traditional licensing and revenue models in the music industry. Right now, the company is hosting an IndieGoGo campaign to fund it all.

Here’s what Schmidt had to say about Gideen, music marketing and the music industry in general:

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Net Neutrality’s Meaning for Bloggers, Writers, and Musicians

Net neutrality has a lot of implications for bloggers, writers and musicians... but which are going to come true?Last week, the FCC struck down something called “net neutrality.” You might have seen headlines and decided it was boring. Maybe, for a little while, you were curious about the ruling’s meaning.

No one really knows how things are going to work in a post net-neutrality world. But there are a lot of alarm bells ringing. Let’s break it down and then talk about what this could mean for bloggers, writers and musicians.

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Why People Can’t See Your Band’s Facebook Posts

Facebook posts are entering a black hole. Even the hypnotic ones.You may have noticed something if you have a Facebook Page to promote your band – fewer and fewer people are seeing it. It’s not that people have decided to “dislike” the Page. It’s that they honestly, truly, can’t see your band’s Facebook posts anymore.

What once used to be a ripe old 50% of your fans might now be closer to 30%. Embarrassing things like “16 People Saw This Post” show up in Facebook’s sophisticated analytics captions.

Why’s all this happening? Because Facebook wants money.

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