Apple, Spotify, Tidal All Miss The Point. This Is The Future Of Recorded Music

missingthepoint

Hopefully the millionaire musician owners of Tidal have been listening to the criticism from their fans and peers.  I outlined a couple weeks ago how their insulting launch totally neglected the one group of musicians who actually need a theoretical payment structure improvement: the indies.  Instead, millionaires stood on stage lecturing the public on why they should pay them more money.  But I guess when your entire think tank consists of millionaires and yes-men, you’re not going to get the perspective you actually need to launch a successful music service in 2015.

+What Jay Z and Tidal Need To Do To Truly Change The Music Industry

Apple is mere weeks away from launching their Beats-powered streaming service to (finally) attempt to compete with Spotify.  But rumor has it they aren’t looking to do anything different in the space – save for a few lackluster exclusives.

+Apple Thinks Exclusives Will Make Their Streaming Service Succeed

Spotify was the first to scale with streaming, but even they aren’t providing the experience fans (or musicians) crave.

A few nights ago I was listening to the Daft Punk album Random Access Memories on Spotify.  I never gave it a proper listen when it came out two years ago.  Yeah, “Get Lucky” was funky, but I didn’t realize the depth of this!  And the musicianship!  Okay, I’ll give you a moment to scroll down to chastise me in the comments for missing this boat.

Anyway, I was funking out and I couldn’t get over the rhythm section.  So tight.  The drummer’s pocket was locked down.  Such an interesting, almost mechanical (yet still human) groove.  I needed to know who this was!  And those guitar tones!  Gahhh.

But how do I do this?  Impossible on Spotify.  Impossible even if I downloaded it on iTunes.  Impossible in Rdio, Deezer, Tidal or anywhere else.

So I went to the one place where this information clearly exists.  No, not Wikipedia.  Allmusic.com.  But, for some sadistic reason, Allmusic.com on Safari on my iPhone takes over audio control from Spotify and shuts off the funk!

Tidal includes the most track info for (major label) artists (fucking the indies seems to be a common theme with Tidal across the board), but still has major holes.  I just tried finding this info in Tidal on my phone and it includes Producer, Lyricist, Composer and Featured Artist information for the Daft Punk album.  But no players!

Rdio on the desktop displays the featured artists, but not on mobile.  Allmusic.com links to Rdio to stream any song from their site, but ironically Rdio contains no Allmusic information in their app!  How difficult is it to integrate all of the information from Allmusic.com TO Spotify?  TO Rdio.  TO Tidal.  TO iTunes…

And what about lyrics?

None of the streaming services (except Deezer – which isn’t available in the US) include lyrics (on mobile)!  So what are we supposed to do?  Head on over to Google and search for them – which inevitably brings up an ad-laden, “illegal” lyric hosting site.  Which isn’t mobile friendly so I have to manually pinch in.

What a horrible experience.  All around.

Doesn’t anybody understand it’s not JUST about the music?

There needs to be a platform that is THE destination for true music fandom.  A beautiful, all-encompassing, music listening experience.  Why is listening to vinyl so enjoyable?  In part, it’s the ritual of taking the record out of the package, placing it on the turntable, but also exploring the liner notes, lyrics and artwork.

+Yes Neil Young, Vinyl IS Better. And Here’s Why

iTunes completely neglected this experience for the past 10 years, but because there was no competitive alternative it got lazy and forgot what a true music experience could be.  It’s not just about the transaction!  Or the audio quality.

The destination for music should be an identically pleasurable experience on mobile, tablet, desktop AND …wait for it… television.

Yes, with everyone owning a smart TV, we should be able to fully immerse ourselves in the music on the TV.  Show me HD album artwork, credits, lyrics, music videos, photos, bio, everything with a couple clicks of the remote.

On mobile, play the song, swipe right for lyrics, swipe right again for FULL credits (include the ability to click featured artists, songwriters and producers to then see THEIR credits – in app), swipe right for bio info, album artwork, swipe again for tour dates, TICKET INFO, merch options, crowdfunding campaigns.

How to do this?  Link up with Allmusic.com.  Link up with Songmeanings.com (one of the few legal lyric sites out there).  Link up with BandPage for merch and tickets.  Merge with PledgeMusic to have the crowdfunding LIVE within this app.  Ongoing.  Stop making the users hop around the internet, apps, phones, platforms.  What is going to be the hub to kill off everyone else?

And what about Jazz and Classical?  No service, download or streaming, has gotten this right.  How do I search for all albums with Herbie Hancock?  No, not just his albums, but the records where he’s a sideman for Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, and the list goes on.  Impossible!  And what about Olga Kern’s version of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #3?  Good luck finding that.  Well, it’s on YouTube.  Maybe YouTube Music Key will solve this.  Doubtful.

Yes, Exclusives are important.  And the 2013 Nielsen study revealed that music fans would pay up to $2.6 BILLION more if they were offered behind the scenes, VIP access, exclusives and experiences.  But the superstars are so out of touch they don’t know what exclusives fans actually crave.  The Tidal exclusives are laughable.  A video?  Come on!  It’s thrown up on YouTube minutes after it hits Tidal.

Want to know exclusives people would pay for?

Live streaming hangouts and home concerts in the app, interacting with the fans commenting in real time.  That can’t be replicated.  Early access to tickets.  The ability to buy backstage, pre-show hangouts.  Forums, message boards and fan collaborations where they know the artist will peek in once in awhile and say what up.

Why isn’t anyone thinking like this?  And if they are, what’s the damn hold up?!

Bitching about higher streaming royalties dilutes the true issue at stake.  The user experience is abysmal.  Let’s get people to FALL IN LOVE with the experience of listening to music again.  Yes, audio quality is important.  But so is everything else.

The app world has it right.  Get the user hooked on the free version, then get them to make their purchases in app.  The free version of these streaming services could include low-fi music.  The paid version would unlock a music listening experience so great that fans wouldn’t think twice about upgrading.  And with their credit cards on file, they’ll buy tickets, support crowd funding campaigns, buy merch and tip their favorite artists.

Want to win the future of recorded music? Don’t play catch up.  Innovate!

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog, Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

Photo is by Amanda Norisada and used with permission (yes that’s an Ari Herstand baby romper. what what!)

 

*Correction: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that no streaming services include lyrics. It has been clarified to state that no American streaming services include lyrics on mobile. 

128 Responses

  1. Carrico

    The moment I read that none of the services contain lyrics, I lost trust in this source. Spotify has included lyrics for weeks, if not a month or two. Facts straight author.. or else, the entire point of the article becomes pointless, no matter how well written or thought out it was.

    Reply
      • DNog

        If you’re using mobile you’re most commonly doing something else while listening to music. For example, I use it through bluetooth in my car. If I NEED the lyrics to a song that badly, I can look it up when I have time. I know this is just one part of your argument but it’s a very insignificant one.

        Reply
  2. William

    Thank you thank you thank you Ari. Its exactly some of the same things I have been thinking as well. The people with the most money and the backing to innovate clearly don’t or won’t. So I guess it will be up the independent artists to do so.

    Reply
    • Sarah

      It’s exactly some of the things we’ve been thinking – and building! – as well. 🙂

      With RepX we’re doing something very similar to what Ari describes (minus all that messy linking and after-thought integration; seamless, built-in functionality, thank you).

      p.s. We care about those higher streaming royalties though. Professional artists are businesses; the amount of money they earn from their work (in whatever form) is very much the “true issue.”

      Reply
        • Sarah

          Whatever price you set. Your music, your prices, your audience – it’s your business, run it. 🙂

          It’s a new model for the music industry; more sophisticated, more personalized, and potentially much more lucrative. We’re a marketplace, similar to your local mall or Airbnb or eBay. RepX provides the foundation, helpful features, and support so everyone has a great experience, but the business is between the artist (or label) and his audience.

          On RepX, our friend superduper can sell downloads and physical albums;
          Ari can offer unlimited free streaming of his music and focus on selling t-shirts and show tickets; and
          You, the customer, can do business with both of them with one account, one easy site, one great experience.

          Reply
          • Anonymous

            Great comment!

            It’s almost like you’re building a symphony here, instrument by instrument, theme by theme: Last week, a social network. Today, eBay. Or perhaps something slighly less evil, like Etsy…

            —————————————
            🙂 The real Anonymous 🙂

          • Anonymous

            …also, the timing is not bad at all:

            You know the way Google Search prioritizes its own services and hides competitors? That may finally stop now:

            EU kicked Mr. Schmidt’s butt today — and we’re actually talking a potential series of $6.4bn kicks here. One of the specific purposes is to prevent Google from choking sites like Vimeo.

            And it’s not just a European thing. FTC recently recommended a lawsuit against Google, according to a report that was sent to Wall Street Journal by mistake. FTC eventually chickened out, but EU’s initiative might bring them back on track. Here’s what FTC said in the report after describing how Google used content from Yelp and Amazon without permission:

            “When competitors asked Google to stop taking their content, it threatened to remove them from its search engine.”

            According to Wired today, FTC “concluded that Google demoted or refused to display links to certain specialized search services“.

            So that could break almost any startup…

          • Edward Jennings

            The EU did nearly the same thing with Microsoft before Windows 7 came out. Microsoft is none the worse for the wear. The EU tried to get Microsoft to give them the source code for Windows. That never happened.

            Situations like this is what Google has a top flight legal team to address.

          • Anonymous

            No, they really didn’t. We’ve never seen anything like this before.

            Not Shell. Not Wall Street. This is something else…

          • Sarah

            Thanks!!! 🙂

            Great call on Etsy, that is so much better than eBay.

          • Sarah

            Thank you 🙂

            The artist sets the price and gets at least 70% of that price for streaming/downloading; we earn up to 30% to cover running the platform, data costs (servers, data centers, bandwidth, etc), credit card fees, and support for both artists and consumers.

            Other revenue streams (merchandise, tickets, tips, etc) have different splits that are competitive with other services.

            Volume discounts are also available.

          • Anonymous

            I think you should pay 71%. That would be naughty. 🙂

            Anyway, 70% is obviously beyond awesome compared to YouTube.

            Re the video part: I don’t think you’ve mentioned user generated content yet? Or perhaps I missed it (or you couldn’t go into details yet). But will it be allowed? Monetizable? It may seem like a minor thing, but it’s quite an issue on YouTube these days: Indie artists can’t use Audiam, Tunecore or CD Baby to monetize songs that contain legit, cleared samples from common sample-based keyboards or commercial sample libraries (stuff you’ll find in almost all charting tracks). This means that independent artists still have to send ordinary takedown notices 24/7, unless they have direct access to ContentID, and fans get pissed because ‘their’ content suddenly disappears. So it would be nice for everybody if there were a way to deal with this. But perhaps it’s just not possible…

          • Sarah

            Anonymous, if you contact me, I’ll go one better:

            72% for you. 😉

            (More on the other point soon.)

          • Anonymous

            “72% for you. ;)”

            Hehe, thanks.

            Seriously, though: It’s not about the money, it’s about edge. People remember silly little things like that. ‘Oh, they pay 71%…’

            (Re the other point — whenever you’re ready.)

      • Universal Indie

        Interesting. I just signed up for both, the consumer and creative preview.

        Reply
    • tom oswald

      This is exactly what we have been doing with Videscape, guaranteed payment rates of 1 cent rising to 5 cents as the platform grows. User generated content, free to use and with another £500,000 being spent on the site over the next 6 months we have some incredible money generating products coming in for the content creators. In fact we would anticipate a content creator with 100 true fans to be earning a minimum of $700 a month and a content creator with 1,000 true fans to be earning a whopping $85,000 per annum

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Good to see you here again. And great to hear that you keep developing Videscape.

        But I have to say that I, for one, was expecting so much more progress in the visual design department, based on what you said here back in January:

        “I fully agree with you and the design is being worked on and will be launched early March as I previously mentioned” (Google that line if you want to see the context, links take forever to show up.)

        Let me be honest:

        Your site looks like a graveyard on a winter’s day.

        Tiny, uninviting images of what it’s all about — your videos — buried in lots of depressing black and blue, surrounded by weird icons and ugly fonts.

        Are all these huge, black bars on your front page really more important than videos?

        Compare to YouTube: Lots of pretty red stuff (logo, lines, subscription buttons). Big inviting images. Shiny white space that seems even brighter because of the subtle gray frame around it.

        As an artist/label/photographer/director, you spend ridiculous amounts of time and money on visual work. You want your platform to reflect that.

        So, I hope you still agree with what I said back in January:

        You need to hire a designer. If you already got one, you need to fire her and get another. No, you can not do this yourself.

        Reply
        • Tom Oswald

          thanks for your response, the issue we have here is very subjective. A professional designer designed this site and our A/B feedback was excellent and it is a huge improvement on what we had before. The site is continuing its refinement though and currently our main priorities are ensuring bugs are removed and features are added prior to revisiting the look and feel of the site

          Reply
          • Anonymous

            “the issue we have here is very subjective”

            No, it really isn’t.

            But don’t get me wrong — I really hope you’re going to succeed.

            (Goes for RepX, too!)

  3. Anonymous

    “I outlined a couple weeks ago how their insulting launch totally neglected the one group of musicians who actually need a theoretical payment structure improvement”

    You can use Tidal through services like CD Baby. Not sure why you’d want to, though.

    Reply
    • Sarah

      You don’t think any of the substantive ideas he mentioned – say, getting the credit card on file so fans can buy, tip, crowdfund, etc with just a click while they’re listening – has merit?

      Reply
      • superduper

        But again, why not just download the track or buy the album? Why do we need to resort to any other methods but those? The music industry cannot be sustainable on tips or warm hearts alone. That is unsustainable. Streaming is great for sampling, but why bypass actually buying the music for future listening?

        Reply
        • Sarah

          Why not, indeed? That’s between you and your audience, just like any other business. If you want to insist on full album sales or physical media for your music, go for it – it’s yours to sell however you want.

          Perhaps the better question is:

          Why can’t you make money from selling albums, and Ari can make money from selling t-shirts (or whatever)?

          Why does it need to be the exact same answer and model for both of you, when you and Ari have very different preferences and needs, and your respective audiences have different preferences and interests?

          Reply
          • superduper

            But it’s not about how money is being made specifically, it’s about how it’s generally being made. Right now, it’s being more and more acceptable to sell less music — which is the primary goal in the music industry — and more “other stuff.” It’s not about the t-shirts, or the concert tours or the exposure, or the ads, but not about selling music. It’s about selling music first and then the other things, including concert sales. Concerts are great and concert sales tend to be good, but it’s false to assume that they are always the best or only good way to experience music. In fact record sales should be a catalyst for concert sales. In any case, if one person just to happens to make more money off of t-shirts that’s fine. All I’m saying is that should be considered to be an unusual and unlikely goal to aspire to selling miscellaneous things like t-shirts. Also it’s really weird that musicians should be excepted to be successful this way instead of focusing on the real experience: music itself.

          • Anonymous

            “instead of focusing on the real experience: music itself.”

            I’m generally on your side, but I don’t think it makes sense to talk about one ‘real’ experience anymore.

            Videos are extremely important, as is social media, and I find it increasingly peculiar — counterproductive, even — to distinguish between these aspects.

            I think I’m warming up to Sarah’s ideas.

          • superduper

            I think I may have misstated. I find music videos to be extremely valuable myself. They even sparked my interest into some of my favorite bands like Radiohead. So no, I don’t think that listening to music is the only ‘true’ way to listen to music. I think what I was trying to get across is that creating and recording good music and selling it should be the primary goal of the music industry, even if it also comes in the form of a music video.

          • Anonymous

            “I think what I was trying to get across is that creating and recording good music and selling it should be the primary goal of the music industry”

            Yes, I know.

            I just think the entire industry is changing. A lot. In fact, it may be about time to find another name for it.

            If there is a primary goal, it’s more like creating a mindblowing music-based experience with emphasis on participation, integration and show.

            The need has always been there. Beatles were created in response to people screaming: “Mach Schau, mach Schau!”

            Today, we can finally give them what they ask for.

            And I don’t want it to be about t-shirts anymore than you do.

            I just think we should take a look at what happened when people added music to movies.

            It changed everything. And it can happen again.

          • Anonymous

            “we should take a look at what happened when people added music to movies”

            …oh, and I meant to say ‘when people added sound to movies’.

            And it’s not just a question of doing the opposite now. Adding social media is equally important, and I’d like to mention Niconico, the Japanese ‘YouTube’ service, again:

            In Niconico, your comments are overlaid onto the video itself. It can be pretty confusing and there’s definitely room for improvement: It should be prettier, snappier, in real time, more like Twitter. But I love the idea.

            And you could add all kinds of stuff to the concept, including apps and games, or ‘translate’ the basics to other platforms, etc.

            Then there is Oculus Rift… 🙂

          • Sarah

            The comment approach on Niconico is interesting. You’ll like our “parties” feature – real time engagement and commenting around content, bonding between artist and audience, etc…. but not overlaid on the video, that’d drive me nuts 😛

            If I recall correctly, jw was the inspiration for that one with his request for the ability to host listening parties.

          • Anonymous

            Listening parties? OK, that’s a truly awesome idea!

            As for overlays; you could turn them off. Again, I don’t think Niconico found the right way to do it. But I do know this:

            Fans want to participate — on stage.

            Cut stuff out, put other stuff in.

            Katy Perry is very good at that. But she still needs external apps to make it happen. And that shouldn’t be necessary.

            The next best thing is to remix stuff, but that just brings us back to UGC monetization… 🙂

          • Anonymous

            …re listening parties:

            Can fans get drunk? High? Make out?

            (New) emojis could be used for that.

          • Sarah

            Yeah, I got really into the listening parties. 🙂

            It’s a tricky thing with UGC and fan participation: users want the artist’s content, and they want their own content, but they generally want very little of other users’ content.

            It makes sense – as you say, people want to be on stage. If you put most of the audience on stage, then being on stage isn’t special anymore and you don’t stand out. Plus, now you’ve ruined the show for everyone left in the audience: instead of watching a talented professional give a skilled performance, they’re watching a bunch of crammed-in ordinary people doing ordinary things with ordinary results. Sure, that has entertainment value for a little while, sometimes, but then you want everyone to get out of the way so you can see the good stuff.

            So we’re designing for more thoughtful, rewarding participation. Not a flood of random UGC, but artist-centric interactions that feel special for the users. It’s customizable by the artist though – you can do both the “intimate hangout” and “free for all mega concert” experience.

          • Sarah

            Can fans get drunk? High? Make out?

            Er…. No. We can’t help you with getting a beer or a fun person to make out with. But it’s online, so you can always tell people you’re getting drunk and making out if you really want. 😉

            For the physical concert experience, you’ll still have to physically go to a concert.
            That’s probably a very good thing on many levels.

          • Anonymous

            “Not a flood of random UGC”

            And you’re avoiding the question of monetizing 🙂 so I’m assuming there won’t be any.

            I don’t blame you, nobody has been able to solve it yet. So perhaps it’s just not possible.

            Then again, ‘thoughtful, rewarding participation’ may sound attractive to 40 year old ears, but it’s not what your audiences — Gen Y and Z — want.

            And if you don’t give them what they want, they’ll just steal it.

            So it’s a dilemma. And a huge one…

          • Anonymous

            “if you don’t give them what they want, they’ll just steal it.”

            …and to be specific:

            If you don’t allow them to upload a ‘flood of random UGC’, they will upload it to YouTube instead — immediately — and forget about your site.

            Result: Nobody makes money. Except Google.

          • Sarah

            Like I said: “It’s customizable by the artist.”

            If a flood of UGC is what people want, then the market (artists and users) will sort it out. We’re designed for flexibility and personalization, not a specific set of preferences.

            Trends and tastes change – as you point out with your “40 year old versus Gen Y/Z” comment (btw I’m Gen Y). If you build a product that is limited to what’s cool today, then it’s going to become irrelevant tomorrow when things change. Rather than try to predict the future, just build something that can adapt to whatever trend comes up next.

            Everything on our platform can be monetized – it’s built for that, though we don’t have set plans on UGC yet. But that’s a more nuanced discussion. 😉

          • Anonymous

            “If you build a product that is limited to what’s cool today, then it’s going to become irrelevant tomorrow when things change. Rather than try to predict the future, just build something that can adapt to whatever trend comes up next.”

            I’m not in the prophesizing business, and I’m not concerned about what’s cool today.

            I’m pointing out what’s been going on since the launch of YouTube.

            If you don’t want that flood of random UGC, you’re sending it over to YouTube instead.

            And if you do that, it ends up in Google Search’s top results for the artist in question — and your own URLs drown in the flood.

            Here’s a (vague) suggestion:

            Tell your users that they’re allowed to create all the mashups and parodies they want — on two conditions:

            1) UGC can’t be monetized by the user.
            2) UGC can only appear next to the original — as a direct video comment!

            And I mean direct in the sense that it’s linked intimately to the video from which it is taken. There will be no questions about origin, copyright, ownership. There’ll be no arguments, nothing to discuss.

            Think about it.

            All revenues are divided between you and the artist.

            Only registered content providers can monetize content.

          • Sarah

            1) UGC can’t be monetized by the user.
            2) UGC can only appear next to the original — as a direct video comment!

            We seem to disagree on so many things, it’s amazing how often we wind up getting to very similar answers.

            That’s probably the way we’re going to do it.

            But …. we need the original content owner on board first in order to have those UGC videos directly linked and monetized on our site, right? We don’t want to steal (or even coerce), after all. Therefore, here we are at the start of Round 1, reaching out to the artists and independent labels. 🙂

          • superduper

            Sarah just to address your point on listening parties, I strongly disagree that it should primarily digital. In fact I think it should be thoroughly physical in nature. In other words, I think record stores should hold listening parties instead. That would not only strengthen the community by bringing them together but it could also boost sales in terms of physical sales and sales in general. I realize the legality in terms of performance rights could be a little muddy, but if that is worked out it could be great for fans, maybeeven revolutionary actually.

          • Anonymous

            “I think it should be thoroughly physical in nature. In other words, I think record stores should hold listening parties instead”

            What’s that?

          • Sarah

            superduper, I don’t think that listening parties should necessarily be primarily digital. As I mentioned, you can’t fully duplicate the experience of physically going out to a show and interacting with people – and I think it’s good that you can’t, because in-person interaction is critical for a ton of reasons (cultural/societal as well as individual).

            But they can both be options. Neither will ever eliminate the other- it’s just a balance between the two, and the relative popularity of each will probably move in cycles.

            What about these situations:

            An independent artist in NYC does live shows and parties with his local audience – but he’s also got a day job and can’t travel to do the same with small numbers of fans scattered around the world. For them, digital parties create a way to interact that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

            An artist is incapable of doing many live shows (he’s old, sick, has young kids to care for, etc), but he has long-time superfans that would be ecstatic over the chance to talk to them, even online?

            Digital doesn’t replace live experiences – it creates the possibility for more experiences that otherwise wouldn’t happen at all.

          • Anonymous

            “We seem to disagree on so many things, it’s amazing how often we wind up getting to very similar answers”

            Great minds… 🙂

            “we need the original content owner on board”

            I know, but you’ll be fine. It’ll take a little time, and some explaining, but you’re obviously prepared for both. And don’t forget the most important part:

            The content owner wants this. So s/he’ll listen.

          • superduper

            I see what you mean.
            Also, just to be clear, I’m talking about release parties as in recorded listening parties, and not necessarily live music. This does happen from time to time but it’s usually only for the the reviewers, the press the label executives and maybe a few lucky fans if that even happens. What I’m envisioning is for that to be at least more open to the general public, maybe even for it to be live streamed at the very least.

        • Sarah

          What do you think the “giant gash” is? And how would you treat it?

          (obviously not with used bandages, because that’s gross 🙂 )

          Reply
          • Wooly

            The music industry became gross, hence the example. It’s time for some amputations to start taking place.

          • Sarah

            Perhaps – but that is a bit vague. If we’re amputating anything, I hope we’ll employ more precision than that. 🙂

  4. Mac

    This is awesome. Thank you. Something that the big guys of the industry should pay attention to!

    Reply
  5. nypbbob

    RIGHT ON POINT ARI!!

    Now maybe they can figure out how to increase royalties without nuisancing the end user?
    Maybe they can figure out that doing the same thing everyone else is doing simply will NOT work?

    Ops.
    That will never happen….

    No wonder the entire music industry is still so lost and disconnected with consumers.

    Reply
    • Ari Herstand
      Ari Herstand

      American streaming services…. Yeah, we don’t get Deezer over here. You’re right, Deezer has lyrics on mobile as of December.

      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    This might be the first time I’ve ever agreed with Ari.

    The elements he mentions are incredibly important. There are a lot of things that go into both the tangible and intangible experience of enjoying music and many of those are being inexplicably ignored by our current music delivery systems.

    Reply
  7. aleksey

    Hey Ari,
    My band was just contacted by Earbits (im sure you’ve heard of them). I did a little research on them and it sounds like they are getting the indies more than any other streaming site. I believe you can include the lyrics to the scroll out page when a person is listening to your song. What do you know about them?

    Reply
  8. FarePlay

    Ari, you’re more interesting and like able when you don’t have that chip on your shoulder. Contempt doesn’t work for you, because you have too much good, useful information to be the pundit. I would start with thinking less of successful artists as the enemy. Although, without a doubt there are a lot of arrogant a holes to go around.

    First, let’s talk about Apple. I don’t know if you’ve been reading the recent stuff coming out, like their hiring a cadre of journalists to write about the artists they play, but I sense there’s something going on there to try and reposition music as fully formed art and not a pile of stuff. So before you lump them in with the other guys at least recognize they’ve taken a year to try and understand how they might do it differently. Whether they succeed or not and I’m rooting for them big time. You don’t see me do that much around here.

    Next. I didn’t grow up with tech, I grew up with music. Life was a hell of a lot simpler. I was walking around a mall last night, outdoors and I swear to god every person was staring at the lit screen of their smartphone. Couples sitting at tables, people walking right next to each other. It was depressing. I bring it up because you are clearly fascinated by it.

    I read my fare share of your posts, but rarely see you right about your creative process or the magic of creating and getting it right. I’ve kept a copy of Pandora explaining their business for a legal preceding. They talk about software and developing the gnome project. WTF? Aren’t you guys in the making and playing of music business?

    “How to do this? Link up with Allmusic.com. Link up with Songmeanings.com (one of the few legal lyric sites out there). Link up with BandPage for merch and tickets. Merge with PledgeMusic to have the crowdfunding LIVE within this app. Ongoing. Stop making the users hop around the internet, apps, phones, platforms. What is going to be the hub to kill off everyone else?”

    Dude, I just,want to listen to music, know who played on the record, etc. I don’t want to be chasing it everywhere, but I will and have on many occasions.

    You talk about accessing bandcamp and various programs to find out recording information. But the reality, with the exception of the hard core, is most listeners are not going to go to that effort. In the same way when you strip out curated discovery, most listeners are actually exposed to less music, even when Spotify has 20 million songs or however many they end up with after renegotiating their licensing deals this summer,

    Am I the only one, who gets why Spotify desperately needs $400 million in funding right now?

    Reply
    • GGG

      Spotify recently took over another floor in their NYC offices, so that probably cost about $350M.

      Reply
      • Edward Jennings

        Spotify is soaking up venture capital funding. I’d be curious what they are telling the VCs investing in their operation what they plan to accomplish next. My perception from the outside is that Spotify might have another floor in New York’s Flatiron section but they appear disjointed versus cohesive with their software architecture.

        The question I am asking is okay Spotify you have $900 million in investment capital. Where’s the innovation? What will you be doing Spotify to accomplish a greater music experience on behalf of the listener and paid subscriber. I paid you faithfully $9.99 a month for four years but somewhere along the way you lost your mojo.

        Separating the hype from the reality of Apple Music iOS 8.4, 9to5Mac has revealed screen shots of the revised design of the iTunes/Beats app. http://9to5mac.com/2015/04/13/apple-launches-ios-8-4-beta-with-revamped-music-service/comment-page-1/

        I don’t find the user interface compelling for Apple Music. I certainly did not see all the hoped for, ballyhooed feature/functionality that have been widely conjectured about Apple Music in the trade press. Apple is expected to announce the streaming service component in June at WWDC. So perhaps this is a “phase” of the design, specific to iTunes Radio and the “Play” function for now until the full unveiling takes place at the WWDC in June. Will Trent Reznor present to the developer community in June? Apple Music appears to be a work in progress respective of its installed base (iTunes) and the evolution to Streaming. Its always a challenge to re-architect a “legacy” platform.

        From the initial screen designs Apple Music doesn’t appear to be as nimble or flexible as Microsoft Office has been. So stay iTuned to see what Apple Music actually accomplishes next. In other words hold off on all those Apple Music is the Spotify Killer headlines, been there, done that…

        Reply
        • GGG

          Your innovation comment may well be the big failure of Spotify (from their standpoint, obviously plenty of people think they’re a failure now). Ek clearly isn’t made of the same stuff of, say, Musk or Bezos or hell, even Zuckerberg in a sense. What’s even stranger to me is that he doesn’t seem to care. I think he thinks they are so far ahead of the curve they didn’t need to spend money on nonessentials, but we all know we don’t realize what we need/want until it’s available. Something Apple took to a whole new level. So Apple’s service may very well incorporate or two even small changes that make all the difference. But we’ll see….

          Reply
    • There is something...

      You may not like it, but this how people live in 2015. So as company who provides a service, either you adapt or you die (unless you’re Apple and you can make people behave like YOU want them too… but obviously there is only one Apple).

      Reply
  9. Anonymous

    You lost me at “millionaire musician owners”. No one has been getting rich from music sales for nearly two decades. “Musician owned” is precicely what indies want and need. The hope is that Tidal will actually do what Spotify promised musicians it would. But apparently it’s going to take some rigorous competition for Spotify and the like to stop hogging all the earnings.

    Sure, all the services could be improved in a variety of ways. But this is largely about forcing the industry to stop stealing from artists. If you can’t get behind that then no one wants to hear what you think indies and major label artists want.

    Reply
  10. Adrian Wilson

    I really agree with this last paragraph:

    “The app world has it right. Get the user hooked on the free version, then get them to make their purchases in app. The free version of these streaming services could include low-fi music. The paid version would unlock a music listening experience so great that fans wouldn’t think twice about upgrading. And with their credit cards on file, they’ll buy tickets, support crowd funding campaigns, buy merch and tip their favorite artists.”

    Reply
  11. Alex

    Ari,
    I agree with you, BUT…

    Streaming services strive to offer the best user experience to experience (new) music and instantly listen to it, BUT ist lacking of additional (metadata) information.

    At the moment WiMP/Tidal is the ONLY service that offers a bit more comprehensive built in meta-information about the origin of songs (composers, producers, etc) for the most part, BUT not for every track, not for every artist, not for every release. Please consider that data is very worthy nowadays. If every (streaming) service would offer the same kind of products, data, experience, where is the USP of such services. They must do something different in order to differentiate from each other and stay competitive. Offering a very NEW (yep, new in terms of selling music on the internet) set of content ((live)-concert, hangouts, ticket-(discounts), merch, etc…) would be very interesting and it would be definitely a plus for the consumer/artist/label!

    BUT:
    From the view of a distributor it is very complicated to get additional data displayed within all the services. ROVI’s allmusic.com is content business which writes bios, reviews with a stadium full of original copywriting staff. So, generally speaking, they OWN all the texts and SELL them to the stores. On the one hand they do not allow independent companies to deliver data and information (in a programatic way) to allmusic.com on a regular basis and on the other hand, as ROVI SELLS data to the stores, distribution companies do not want to give away its data FOR FREE in order to have ROVI generating money out of it!

    …Or even the point that lyrics belong to the publisher(s) and cannot simply be exploited my master right selling labels/distributors.

    AND:
    Additionally (IMPORTANT), a lot of stores do not support the more comprehensive tags in the DDEX xml file distributors using to send their product/artists data to stores, on the one hand…

    on the other hand (even more important):

    DISTRIBUTORS, LABELS, ARTISTS PAY WAY TOO LESS ATTENTION TO COMPLETE AND ACCURATE METADATA!!!

    So, speaking about data quality, even if a store outlet would have offered the possibility (or at least an easy and secure way) to display additional information a lot of distributors are not able to provide these as they are messy, inconsistent or simply not collected from labels & artists. (Imagine the following: [Ira Gershwin, George Gershwin]; [I. Gershwin, G. Gershwin]; [GERSHWIN]; [ira gerswin]; [I.G., G.G.]; [ira & george gershwin] or just leaving it blank or typing in COPYRIGHT CONTROL – I hope you get my point). (so, stores think the data quality (in general) is too crappy to display it to consumers in order not risk the experience for the (paying) consumer.

    Messy metadata also occurs when it comes to internationally licensing products throughout various labels working with various distributors in the corresponding territory. So, hundreds of hands re-entering the same set of data into various databases. No wonder that there is inconsistency…

    Metadata should be taken more seriously! So publishers and composers do at the collecting society side of things (and even those do not have 100% accuracy!), BUT it should give a more official way to ingest data not only at collecting societies, but also at (digital) stores/services (NB: It is very challenging to get this together, remember the “Global Repertoire Database” just failed and is stopped being developed).

    Picking up & consolidating data between stores/services and collecting societies could be a very good startpoint to improve the experience on the store/service side. Societies should give away data API’s (FOR FREE) to power up data from stores and streamers.

    Amen.

    Reply
  12. Ryan

    Ari! Right on here man. As a fan of listening man, streaming is the best thing since the internet became a thing! As an indie artist, it’s a joke. I love getting my stuff out there and accessible, but to just assume that a record is taking a loss, unless it’s a calling card for a tour, is a joke!

    I agree that there should be more tiers of service, free for crappy radio like commercial filled streaming. A 2nd tier of spotify like nature where you can listen, save and make playlists, even “download” the songs in hi fi.

    A 3rd tier would be exactly what you talk about. Charge double for it, or even let people choose what to pay with a minimum of 15 or so dollars. It would include the experience that is missing, and a choice of buying songs you really like through the artists websites, a choice to donate to that artist, and a connection to their twitter/facebook/tumblr so you can keep up with them using one click, rather than going to a whole separate website.

    It’s all about connection and experience! I miss the liner notes, which is why I am getting back into vinyl at home. But it’s really nice to just put on spotify and walk away hands off sometimes. When I come back though, I want to know who produced or played that killer guitar riff on the deep cut of a new to me album from the 70’s!

    Make streaming service more like social media, but let the artists do the socializing with the fans. It could have notes and blogs and pictures or whatever connected right to the web page, not take you off to instagram when you want to stay on spotify.

    Good stuff man. Maybe you’re the voice of innovation for streaming!

    Reply
  13. Tsjerk Kooistra

    There will be place for multiple streaming platforms for consumers to listen to music, hopefully soon with the functionalities Ari mentions. These platforms are great for consumers to discover new music and artist’s. Artist should be accessible through all these platforms to guarantee a minimal level of accessibility so consumers so they can easily listen and discover them. Possibly convincing them to come to their live performances. All these platforms are based on a ‘1-to-many’ model though, where consumers get access to often more than 25+million artists.

    Today’s app technology gives artist the possibility to create a 1-to-1 relationship with (for sake of it, let’s call them) ‘fans’ on their OWN platform. For this 1-to-1 relationship artist don’t get paid because a fan watched another advert from e.g. Gillette, neither they have to share the subscription fee with any other random artist played on some playlist that month.

    Fans really don’t mind paying directly a small yearly contribution (let’s say the fee of 1 month for a regular streaming service), supporting the artist they really love, getting access to premium content and possibly exclusive flash sales, live/recorded streamed concerts, guest appearances, acoustic versions, discounts in merchandise store, preferred ticketing options etc.

    Artist should get used to the fact that they regularly have to be ‘top of mind’ with their fans (also on the 1-to-many streaming platforms) and release new materials on a regularly base (compared to album releases/tour cycles) and that no longer the Labels or Record Stores will be collecting the moneys but this can be done through their own platform with a single click/touch of a finger by their fans.

    Tsjerk Kooistra
    CEO Contendis

    Reply
  14. handy

    Those of you over 30 will recall how you got into music, what trapped you, got you excited and willing to spend endless hours just listening, or watching, alone or with friends. It was a combination of thrills and moods, all intertwined with one’s social life. It was real, yet on the fringes of reality, a more or less safe kind of escape. We didn’t think of it as entertainment, nor did we consider ourselves consumers (remember taping?). Music was a part of us.
    Younger generations are now experiencing these thrills and moods and escapes through gaming, where music may or may not be an ingredient. Music for them is, at most, a backdrop; or an element to share online – an exchange where the user’s profile is far more important than the music they share. Gaming and social media are a part of them.
    Technology will eventually provide music customers with more data than we can possibly need – it’s already overwhelming – yet the younger ones just wonder what took hold of us.

    Reply
  15. 1+1=3

    two letters… buy the CD. You know, those shiny round things sometimes seen hanging from rearview mirrors?

    Reply
    • Rickoshay

      You’re talking about things that sound better than digital I think.

      Reply
  16. MeloMe

    Hey Ari,

    We’re based in The Netherlands and are working on a Classical-only platform at the moment that should solve a lot of problems for us classical fans, in the alpha testing stage. Interested? Shoot through your email to http://www.melome.com and we’ll keep you updated…. shhhh details are still top secret.

    Love, MeloMe – your source for classical music.

    Ps @Alex – love your metadata love… spot on!

    Reply
  17. D2C

    Each individual Artist can and do run their own services…. they don’t need a company or another industry mogul to understand what interaction is all about….D2C is working well and producing more money than streaming per Artist….at least for the Artists that “own” their works and rights. Streaming is today’s medium tomorrow a NAS drive( in cloud) @ 192khz quality will be the future and after that “Mars listening”. User experience is subjective….!

    Reply
  18. Kevin Wyatt

    @Alex great comment, this captures most of the metadata issues that stand between the current state of music metadata and Ari’s product vision.

    One item you omitted: album-level metadata vs. track-level. Allmusic’s database was created in the (pre-Internet) album era and a good portion of their credits exist at the album level, not the track level. This is why some albums have detailed, yet incomplete credits: you can’t programmatically copy the credits to each track until you verify the tracks on which the individual should be credited i.e. the time-consuming part.

    I am an optimist who believes music fans would engage with credits if they were made available in a manner at least as intuitive as the vinyl gatefolds of yore. For some it is gaining a deeper understanding of how the music was made; for others it is interesting trivia. Both have their place as IMDb illustrates for film & television buffs.

    Reply
  19. Rose

    Allmusic.com has consistently incorrect information about my band and who played on our records (we have over 10 records out, a few on major labels) and I have tried to correct it numerous times, to no avail.

    Reply
  20. Hippydog

    same thing with Deezer..
    Since I had it I always expected some kind of improvent and added functionality..
    nothing.. in a year all they added was lyrics.. yippee 🙁

    Wanna look up artists information, background.. ANYTHING? nope..
    ..
    they do have “deezer” apps but even those are pretty lackluster..

    Quote “Doesn’t anybody understand it’s not JUST about the music?”

    OMG! EXACTLY!

    YES! ok.. maybe the huge majority of the time we just want to listen to the music..
    but sometimes its nice to find out more information.. and maybe “gasp” connect with other fans ..

    Reply
  21. Chris H

    Again with the BS right out of the gates, Ari. If you took making a point about cost structure as lecturing, then you are out of touch. Whether the guy making the point has a billion, or five dollars, is irrelevant. You buying into that is part of why things don’t get done. Are you embarassed they have money? Are you embarassed that they are successful? Is the point they are making less valid because they have money?

    Reply
    • ThomasG

      Ben Gibbard, Lily Allen and other huge musicians have also criticized them for the same reasons. The musician owners fans also, nearly across the board, HATE Tidal and felt slighted that these millionaire musicians told their fans they need MORE money.

      The payment structure needs an update but Tidal didn’t come out and say HOW they are doing it. How much more are they paying artists? If they are at all? And are they going to pay indies more or just the major labels more? There’s been no transparency.

      Reply
      • Chris H

        I don’t disagree in the way they convenyed the message and on their transparency. Just the basic point that was made in the article, that the fact that someone has money means they don’t have the right to make the point is was irked me in this article.

        Reply
    • Nissl

      Oops, sorry for the bad formatting on that post! First time I’ve tried to do a formatted link. The site is called Sparkmesh and is at sparkmesh.com.

      Reply
      • bikesrockswaves

        sparkmesh.com is triggering webroot blocking … (fyi) (btw, cool name)

        Reply
  22. Chris Buell

    Hello,

    I actually have the solution… idea really without the right people to make it a solution but I’m working on it. It will change the game in a sense but I won’t say anything here until I’m copyrighted… working on that now. I like your point of view and if you are interested (or think you could help) hit me… cbshr22@hotmail

    Reply
    • Sarah

      Awesome, it’s fantastic that people are starting to really pay attention to these problems – that’s how they get solved.

      For protecting your ideas, though, you’d be better to keep them as trade secrets until you’re ready to move on them publicly. Copyright won’t help you with that (and you can’t patent ideas either).

      Reply
  23. Tim Murrah

    You are out of line mate. Sounds to me you are more interested in gadgetry than music.

    “There needs to be a platform that is THE destination for true music fandom” there is and has been for quite a while, they are called albums. You are too concerned with the portability and convenience of music while neglecting the true beauty of it. Music’s place is not “across all platforms”, that is how the industry has slowly choked itself to death by telling the public that music is solely about convenience-its not!

    Why not work for your music? Take time to put a record (or CD) on and sit back and listen. Too many people have been trained to think that music is something you pay for and get nothing in return, just a random bit of streaming this or that here and there. Go back to the original principles of you pay and you own a piece of music with lyrics, art and everything else. Why keep giving the music tycoons money for nothing?

    If you love music, take time to have a relationship with it.

    Reply
    • GGG

      I’ll give you a pretty simple reason; I live in NYC. If I took the last 5 years of digital music I’ve bought or streamed and put it in physical form, I’d probably have about half of the living space I have now.

      Music is music. You don’t need a physical representation of it to have a relationship with it. If you’re listening to a good quality file through decent headphones, it can be every bit as powerful.

      Reply
  24. Dom

    How can they say Spotify was the first to scale with streaming, when 250 million people use soundcloud compared to the 60 million that use spotify? F*ck em all. Soundcloud ftw.

    Reply
    • ThomasG

      **paid and legal*** scale. half the shit on soundcloud are remixes without licenses.

      Reply
  25. Anna

    “The ability to buy backstage, pre-show hangouts. ” = Live Nation, now the world’s biggest music biz

    Reply
  26. Joe Randazzo

    the fix for the music industry???

    1. MUSIC
    2. Back to VINYL

    How the f*** did we get to the point where we need music everywhere we go?
    I’m as big a music lover as there is, but I liken it to bladder control… I can wait ’til I get home.

    Reply
  27. Bongo John

    What remains true is this:
    1. You cannot be successful as an artist via the internet alone. You must perform in front of people.
    2. When you do, the merit of your art must build a fan base, over time – many performances.
    3. Merch, merch, merch – sell merch at shows.

    These three steps have always been & always will be the case, if you wish to be a successful artist.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      “You must perform in front of people”

      Awesome advice for songwriters (you know, the guys who write the songs people love).

      Reply
  28. Vivien

    I’ve heard that qobuz (a french download and streaming service) has a great user experience for lyrics, credits etc .. And their business model is “per user ” (each user subscription is redistributed to the artists he actually listened to, unlike spotify and co who redistribute according to the global number of plays).
    But i need to verify this

    Reply
  29. Steve

    Sarah, regarding Repx.

    So my favourite artists join your platform and each one asks for 3 pence everytime I listen to a track. Assuming I have enough music to cover 4 of my 8 hours a day in the office and assuming each track is 3 mintues long that would be 80 tracks i would listen too. That would then cost me £2.40 per day, assuming a 5 day work week and 4 week month that’s £48 a month. That’s pretty extortionate. Even if they were to ask for 1 pence per play that’s still £16 a month, far in excess of any streaming service and orders of magnitude above free streaming.

    If we also assume that the average fan probably isn’t prepared to pay more than a penny per stream (in fact i’d argue 0.5 per stream or less) then minus your 30% your streaming rate is only marginally more than Spotify is.

    As an aside, your site appears to be gated, if i were to upload my labels catalogue to your site would anyone be able to find my catalogue on your site through organic search, and upon finding it would they be able to listen to that catalogue without having to jump through hoops?

    Reply
    • Sarah

      Steve,
      Great questions.

      1: we have subscriptions too. They’re just direct to artist (or label), instead of to us. We’ll have the “Spotify” feature where you can have a mass subscription for one price – but it will be just that, a feature and not the whole platform, and it will be opt-in only. Same goes for a “radio” type feature. Those features are designed for the type of use you describe. In the meantime, Spotify subscribers will probably want to stay on Spotify for now; we aren’t focusing on them yet.

      2: “If we also assume that the average fan probably isn’t willing to pay more than a penny per stream”…. why on earth would you assume that? Have you seriously looked in to that assumption? Because we have. 🙂

      We predict the average per stream will be between 1-4 pennies.

      You’d argue that the price point is actually 0.5 per stream or less… put that in context of your daily life. When is the last time you made a purchase decision based on half a penny, or even 5 pennies: “Gee, I want this, but they’re charging 2 pennies and I’m only willing to pay 1 penny.” Those numbers are so low that they barely register as money (which is fantastic, because it makes it easier for people to spend).

      But, as always, the answer is: there’s no need to guess, just let the actual participants in a transaction sort it out. I bet we’ll find significant variation – some songs that no one will pay anything for, other songs that can command 10 cents per stream. 1-4 is just an expected average range.

      3: At a penny or less, our streaming rate is only marginally better than Spotify’s… Okay. Let’s assume that our streaming rates are a constant. We still offer advantages over Spotify:
      – fans can purchase individual songs/albums within the site
      – integrated sales of tickets & merchandise, plus tipping/crowdfunding (in-site; no redirecting or work for fans)
      – you own your network – as in, get and own the emails of your fans (and then, if you want, use them from our neat built-in marketing tools, which start at the hefty price of free)
      – video
      – social experiences (see my comments above on listening parties)

      4: Our site is not open yet except by invitation. When it is open, we arguably have a better “new user” experience than Spotify – we let you browse and search and read comments. When you find something you want to engage with, it takes just seconds to sign up.

      Yes, they can find stuff through organic search.

      If you look at many of the biggest consumer companies (FB, LinkedIn, Instagram, WhatsApp)…. they ALL have hoops. Conclusion: hoops aren’t quite the big deal we think they are, as long as they’re easy and people have a good reason to jump through them. 🙂

      Reply
      • Steve

        interestingly we make decisions based on fractions of a penny every day in our advertising systems. 1 penny on its own isn’t a lot but multiply it by a 1,000 and it adds up fast.

        Will be interested to see how your platform grows and performs that’s for sure, as its very much based on bandcamp but just with streaming abilities.

        Reply
        • Sarah

          Pennies do add up very quickly. You and I know this. Advertisers certainly know this. Artists who receive decent income from those pennies know this.

          But typical consumers don’t think of pennies that way. If you drop $1 onto a dirty street, you pick it up; if you drop a penny onto the dirty street, you probably don’t. When the change from a purchase is just a penny or two, people often leave without it (or toss it out with the receipt). Personally, we often keep our pennies – we toss them into a jar, and when it’s full we give them away to a homeless person.

          Consumer side: it’s just a penny, that means it’s barely money
          Business side: those pennies add up to real money more quickly than you’d think.

          as its very much based on bandcamp but just with streaming abilities.

          Not really, no. You should see it for yourself before you decide – contact me for a demo. 🙂

          Reply
      • Anonymous

        “We predict the average per stream will be between 1-4 pennies”

        As you know, I’m in the ‘nobody-will-pay-at-all’ camp. 🙂

        But I’m beginning to like the rest of your concept, as I understand it, so I’m kind of interested in this part as well. I just think it’s very important to explain why you want people to pay for stuff they already can get for free on YouTube.

        So I think it’s interesting that Steve mentions Bandcamp.

        Something like that could be your ‘alibi’. However, slogans like “Discover amazing new music and directly support the artists who make it” seem a bit heavy-handed to me. They turn the site into a cult, or a political party. I, for one, would never touch it.

        But perhaps it would be possible to create a more subtle (and cool) feeling of ‘Fairtrade espresso’ instead. Starbucks screwed up in so many ways, but they did choose the right marketing team. The same is true for Apple.

        Paying should make people feel good. So I don’t think you should shy away from taking a civilized, and preferably funny, swing at the big evil competitors. People loved what Apple did to Microsoft.

        “hoops aren’t quite the big deal we think they are”

        As you know, I’m also in the hoops-are-evil camp. 🙂 But this is actually a very good point. A lot has changed over the past 2-3 years, and mandatory Sign-in buttons are all over the place now. (Except here, haha.) They still stop the traffic, but we are used to them…

        Reply
        • Sarah

          I just think it’s very important to explain why you want people to pay for stuff they already can get for free on YouTube.

          Let’s talk about candles and water.

          Candles are very simple products. They don’t vary much: wax, maybe some coloring and fragrance.

          You can buy a plain white unscented candle at Wal-Mart for dirt cheap. You can buy virtually the same candle at a high-end store like Yankee Candle for 10-20x the price.

          What’s the difference? It’s nearly the exact same product, and any actual cost difference is minimal. But Wal-Mart is selling a candle – Wal-Mart sells the objective value, the wax and wick and the source of light. Yankee Candle is selling an experience – the subjective value of relaxation, peace, a sense of well-being, beauty, or the right ambiance for your dinner party.

          Once water is clean and potable, it doesn’t vary much. Yet despite the fact that in the US most people have clean, potable water coming out of their kitchen sinks, many people choose to buy vastly more expensive bottled water.

          Even amongst bottled waters, we find significant price variation despite the product being fundamentally the same between discount brands and high end brands. VOSS sells water for several times the price of Sam’s Club water – because it’s selling the subjective values of purity and luxury, not just the objective value of water.

          YouTube treats music like cheap candles and discount brand bottled water. YouTube’s design (deliberately?) diminishes the user experience, the subjective value they receive when playing a video.

          Music has a serious marketing problem. We’ve taken something that is inherently unique and personal (much more so than candles or water), and let it be reduced to mere digital files – which are, not shockingly, perceived as low value.

          Why would someone pay for the same stuff they can get for free on YouTube? They won’t. If you reduce a song to just another digital file, free wins. But if you make it more than just “stuff” – if you use that same product as the basis for an experience that has strong subjective value – then you increase the consumer’s perception of value and you can get them to pay for it.

          Listening parties are one of the many ways we’re creating that high subjective value experience.

          Reply
          • Anonymous

            OK, so you choose the snake oil route.

            Respect! 🙂

            But it’s a difficult path. Not everybody’s going to believe the lie. And illegal sites are very good (and fast) at copying design ideas from legitimate sites.

            The one thing they can’t copy is your image.

            They wouldn’t even want to: A well marketed Fairtrade brand, like the one I suggest, is not what their customers are looking for.

            Again, Bandcamp is not doing it right. But you’re going to have a lot of goodwill, a lot of support from musicians and other content providers, if you succeed. Why not integrate it in your image? It would go well with your basic reputation exchange concept.

            And it would make the snakeoil look so much more appealing…

          • Sarah

            Hmm, I disagree with that snake oil assessment. Snake oil by definition is something with little or no actual value; presentation isn’t a replacement for value, but it is important for communicating that value. The most successful products have both real value and pleasing presentation.

            But you’re going to have a lot of goodwill, a lot of support from musicians and other content providers, if you succeed. Why not integrate it in your image?

            Suggestions? 🙂

          • Anonymous

            “Snake oil by definition is something with little or no actual value”

            Like… bottled water? 🙂

            First, snake oil has pretty much been the name of the game since the CD — and definitely since iTunes (and I love iTunes). Second, I’m just telling you what people are going to say.

            “Suggestions? :)”

            I already mentioned Starbucks. I also mentioned Apple’s anti-Microsoft strategy — perhaps the most powerful product launch in history — because your identy is also defined by what you’re not.

            And you’re not an advertising agency that makes $60bn a year from appropriating people’s personal information and intellectual property. You’re also not a certain other streaming company, started by a pirate and hated by everybody.

            You’re the first organic streaming service. You don’t hurt the environement. You’re green. When users buy your products, you pay the workers — and not only the rich ones; not only the greedy labels — so they can afford to make even better music.

          • Sarah

            You’re the first organic streaming service.

            ooh…. I think I might love that. Have you considered a career in marketing? 😉

          • Anonymous

            “I think I might love that”

            Thought you might. 🙂

  30. Mickey Free

    Tidal, Beats/Apple, Spotify, Rdio, Deezer … yadda-yadda-yadda

    Stop with the armchair slags on all these companies and just enjoy the music. who cares. Artist compensation will eventually be ironed out.

    Reply
  31. Anonymous

    No mention of Classics Online HD on this post. COLHD is far and away the best service for finding titles by composer, soloist, conductor, orchestra, work or album title. Not to mention the Naxos Music Library, for institutions, which is now almost 10 years old.

    Reply
  32. mcik

    Want to win the future of recorded music? Don’t play catch up. Buy music! Pretty much the bottom and all the app sexy liner notes are not going to change the simple fact that if you want to support music, and you want music to have a future, buy music.

    Reply
    • bikesrockswaves

      @mcik, et al: This is the problem with relying on people to “Buy Music!” as the solution. And why Sarah’s notion (one I’ve had for a long, long time, pre-iTunes), that making the consumption decision a non-decision via pricing that proxies to zero, is the right one. Consumers don’t know enough about *the cost* of making music (even if they think they do, abstractly; I didn’t really till I actually did it) to let it really affect their buying habits. They want a non-decision & they want it simple. That’s all. The zealots will always be a minority of the market (audiophiles & obsessive fans); it’s the blatant majority that will dictate the fate of the industry. They want simple, elegant, non-thinking, non-deciding, non-impeding. Period.

      Reply
  33. Perttu Vänskä

    You have it down perfectly. I’ve actually tried to pitch this idea for a few years, but none of the investors seem to get it. I participated in a start-up acceleration program by a large media company, but the message I got was “Spotify is already good enough, why would people pay for this?”. Yes, the existing services are great for consumers, but absolutely horrendous for the people creating the content, and absolutely horrible for people who’d enjoy a deeper experience. The people with money just don’t understand what the fans crave for. But it’s changing, little by little, and whoever gets it right will be filthy rich.

    Reply
  34. AllMusic

    The thing where AllMusic album pages shut off Spotify audio when you arrived at the site has been fixed. It is a weird feature in iOS where if you arrive at a page that the OS detects audio/media on the page, it shuts off what you’re listening to. We hacked in a work-around. Come back!

    Reply

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