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Christmas is Compilations Season!

Christmas Compilations!It may still be October, but it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas here at The Orchard Compilations Department, because for us, the Holiday Season is Compilation Season.

It’s no secret that the gift giving season is one of our most productive times of the year. Right now, we’re preparing our strategy to make the most of it by putting together the very best custom compilations, and we’d like to invite you to be a part of that.

The territory we cover in the Compilations Department is as vast as it is varied, designing custom compilations in genres as diverse as Classic Rock, Hip-Hop, Country and Western, Classical music, Blues, Heavy Metal, Electronica and more. Finding the perfect match for your music is what we do best, and we’re confident we can create the perfect digital stocking stuffer to reach your audience this shopping season.

But time is running out! To ensure new compilations appear on stores in time for Christmas, they’ll need to be delivered in the next few weeks, and we’d love to include your music to make the best compilations of the season. Sign up to take part in this golden opportunity to get your content virtually repackaged in new and dynamic ways — just talk to your client rep to find out more. It’s really not too soon to say ho, ho, ho!

Welcome to the Compilation Era

chill out

Rumors of “The Death of the Album” have been greatly exaggerated. Sure, comparing this week’s SoundScan numbers to those 20 years ago is good for a laugh (or a cry), but it bears remembering that the album, as we currently think of it, has only existed since the late-’60s. Before that, it was really more analogous to a photo album — a collection of pieces packaged together more out of convenience than any sense of artistic necessity. The LP had been around for about twenty years before the real beginning of “The Album Era,” which, interestingly enough, is about how long the MP3 has been around today.

Now that we all have basically every song ever recorded in our pockets at all times, the signal-to-noise ratio can be overwhelming, and people need new ways to consume and engage with music. To that end, the digital compilation might just be the “capital-A Album” of the post-MP3 era, providing a fresh listening experience based more on real-world utility than genre, era, or perceived cultural capital.

There are countless ways that repackaging can breathe new life into a piece of music. A compilation that features your best-selling artist and your 20th best-selling artist will benefit both — further driving track sales for an established hit, while also using that hit to attract fans and buoy sales for under-performing catalog — but this doesn’t just work for two artists within the same label or genre. With compilations that focus on moods or activities (“Music for Dinner Parties,” “Music for Road Trips,” “Music for Writing Long-Winded Blog Posts,” etc.), anything goes, provided it flows well and fits the stated function of the collection. For example, “Chill Out: Mellow Music for Relaxation” (pictured above) is a mixture of underground Hip Hop, Jazz Standards, ’70s Psychedelia, Classical Guitar, downtempo Electronic music and Reggae. These seemingly disparate styles can all be packaged together in the right context, introducing the consumer to new music they might have otherwise dismissed.

As genres splinter into smaller and increasingly arbitrary sub-genres, and established catalog continues to outperform new releases, it is clearly time for a new way forward. Spotify‘s front page has a list of curated playlists where “Workout” and “Focus” are listed between “Pop” and “Latino;” and Songza (recently purchased by Google for eight figures) has built an entire business around curating playlists to compliment any situation, and recommending them based on what you’re likely to be doing at any time of day.

More and more each day, this seems like the logical next step for an industry in constant transition. Welcome to the Compilation Era.

SXSW Panels: Get Your Vote On!

logoHere at The Orchard, we love a good roundtable chit-chat about what’s going on in the industry. So, as you might’ve guessed or already know, we’re really big on conference panels! Next year’s SXSW is no different (yes, we’re already deep in planning…). For the occasion, we have two very important topics to discuss, along with killer speakers who’ll knock your socks off with their knowledge. We just need YOU to get your vote in by September 5th so that we can make these hot-topic discussions come to life.

Vote to see my session at SXSW 2015!Everyone is on YouTube these days, probably even your grandmother. It’s one of the best places out there for new music discovery, and can also be a great tool in an artist’s revenue-making back-pocket. But lots of artists and labels keep getting caught up in the same YouTube conundrum — which is more valuable: making a profit off these videos, or reaching worldwide glory status through exposure? Do we even have to choose? In the panel we’ve pitched, titled “Exposure vs. Revenue on YouTube: Must We Choose?,” our own Sarah Caliendo, VP of Video Services, along with YouTube’s Elliott Walker and Bob Lugowe of Relapse Records will lead you through the ins and outs of creating your own YouTube strategy. Exciting, informative stuff, right?!

Vote to see my session at SXSW 2015!Film distribution is another heavy-hitter in conversation these days — think day-and-date release rise — and we’re all over it with plenty to say. In our suggested panel, which we’ve called “To Window Or Not To Window: Film Release Strategies,” we’ll talk about all the different elements to consider when releasing a new project. From release platforms to distribution strategies, each film needs its own, specific implementation process, and who better to take you through them than our Senior Manager of Film Distribution, Danielle DiGiacomo, along with Adam Klaff of VHX and Harmontown Director Neil Berkeley. Together, they will discuss and give concrete examples of all the windowing opportunities out there and, depending on the film, audience and genre, determine which tactics to use.

Hopefully you’ve already gotten your SXSW badges and are all set for the big shindig. We hope you’ll support our panel picks and will choose to be part of the conversation by voting away (just click on the “vote for my session idea” icons above!). Don’t delay — voting ends September 5!  See y’all in Austin.

The Rise of Streaming, Impact on Artists & Labels, and How to Adapt

cloud-musicUnless you don’t work in the music business or you were on Mars for the past year, you’ve heard about it: streaming is on the rise, but unlike downloads which were more or less a transcription of the physical world into digital, streaming introduces totally different paradigms. Let’s have a look at them and their impacts on artists and labels.

Download & Physical = Ownership Model / Streaming = Access Model

When you buy a physical or digital copy of an album, you buy it at a specific price and only one time. Then depending on how much you like the album you bought, you listen to it 2 times or 1000 times. With streaming, you no longer buy an album, but each of your listens (of more than 30s) generates royalties for artists and labels, and these royalties are paid either by advertising if you are on an ad supported model (YouTube, Spotify Freemium, etc.), or by a monthly subscription if you have subscribed to a service.

So in the physical/download world, the main lever is to get more buyers. In the streaming world, while you also want more people to listen to your music, you’re hoping these people listen to your music more often, too.

We all remember the 90’s, when we discovered a really good song on the radio, bought the album without having listened to it and the only worthwhile song from the 8 or 12 tracks was that radio single. In the streaming era, this shouldn’t happen anymore: because you have access to whatever music you want, unless you are dedicated masochist you will theoretically only listen to the music you love. That’s a big difference: even if a hit single can always help build awareness, each of your songs has too be good enough to be listened to repeatedly.

The second big change is you can release songs in the format you want and when you want. You no longer need to have a full album of minimum 30-40 minutes ready; each time you have a new song, you can — and should — put it “live” and build awareness around it.

This strategy makes even more sense for new and developing bands, as they can start to drive revenue with their first songs. Indeed, unlike download and physical revenues, where you see a big peak around release date (X buyers x $10), in the streaming era, even if you can still observe a peak around release due to curiosity/promotion, you should continue to observe pretty decent and regular streams over time (1+1+1+1).

In the download/physical world, release is the end of the process. For streaming, it’s just the beginning. As an artist or label, this translates into quite a big change in your cash flow, especially if you are used to getting substantial physical pre-orders. With streaming, you will need more time to recoup your initial investments, BUT revenues will last longer, and as such, streaming adds value to catalogs on the whole.

To capitalize on this, it’s a good idea to release new songs immediately, followed by remixes and B-sides so you can continuously build your catalog and as such, your revenue long-term.

Playlists and Socials: Sharing Is the New Promo

When speaking of promo, I always picture this: before the Internet, choices came from the top and as a consumer you could only choose between what labels, radio stations, TV stations and stores had selected for you. Now, with both Internet and the growth of streaming, choices are increasingly coming from the bottom — from the fans, through viral sharing, on socials… Of course, you still need people to love and pick your music to bring it to others, and the bigger/more influentials that “dude” is, the better it is for your music; but you don’t necessarily need to wait for the “Big Dude” of the Music Biz anymore. Everyone and anyone can help you spread your music by posting it on Facebook, Twitter, and adding it to their playlists. And who knows, perhaps at the end of the day, the “Big Dude” will listen to your music and like it, too.

One tip on sharing: be emphatic. Think about what you would like to see on socials from your favorite artists and labels, and don’t hesitate to highlight other artists — known or unknown — you like and “tag” them. Perhaps they will also love what you do and return the favor.

To conclude, I’ll leave you with this: Always be sincere and never abandon the music you like to try to please more people. If it’s honest, you’ll find your fan base and it will be more loyal and dedicated for it. Now, welcome to a world of profusion and to the Sharing Economy!

Convert Promos to Monetized Streams

SpotifyEmbed_QMagazineMonetized streaming is becoming a more and more important source of revenue for our artists and labels. It’s often presented as a new world of doing things (which is true), but this does not mean abandoning all the old principles of a music release, rather modifying and melding the two to work together.

Many recent UK chart single successes were streaming for weeks before they hit their ‘impact date’ and achieved a Top 10 status (streams were recently integrated in the UK Singles Chart). Streams were built up as radio and promo were going on, and 11 of the 14 singles on BBC Radio 1 A List are currently available on paid streaming services. Though we may not all have the resources to achieve a No. 1 or even the desire, the principle remains the same: make sure your retail strategy directly takes advantage of a music release’s traditional tools — in this case, press and radio.

Here are some examples:

When you take a single to radio, make it available to stream, too. While non-monetized streaming services are great, make sure you fans are able to listen to it on a monetized stream as well –this will actually put some cash directly in your pocket.

When premiering a track or video on an editorial site, again, make it available on a streaming service that pays out, and suggest getting the site to embed a link from a monetized streaming service as part of the premiere.

Spotify recently announced 10 million paying subscribers; Deezer is at 5 million — and that’s not including freemium users for either. Arguments against accessibility are becoming weaker and weaker. Don’t be afraid of asking your publicist to push for an embedded playlist from a monetized streaming service, rather than just a free streaming platform. It’s becoming increasingly common for editorial sites to accommodate this, and in the past few months, we’ve seen them on premieres from The Guardian, Q, Drowned in Sound, Clash, and Rock Sound among many others. The BBC has even integrated them into their BBC Playlister.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 10.48.12Take a gander over to Pitchfork, where there are Spotify embeds next to most album reviews. See the giant spike in the graph on the right? This was recorded on a Wednesday, two days after the release of the album, which coincided with it receiving Best New Music from Pitchfork. You guessed it, next to the glowing review was a Spotify embed. This demonstrates the powerful effect that directly joining your press with a retailer promo can have on your final numbers.

In addition to new strategies like embeds from streaming services, platforms like Shazam make the connection between hearing something and connecting it to a retailer quicker and simpler. We’re no longer in a situation where you have to wait a month to find that great track you heard at midnight on John Peel’s radio station and purchase it. Take advantage of these new opportunities and find ways to connect your press and promotions with streaming services and tools that will help you monetize your music faster.

Bonus: If you’ve got a WordPress-based site, you only need to copy and paste the HTTP link to include a Spotify embed. Case in point: find below a New Electronic playlist we recently set up in the UK, featuring music from Hyperdub, Caribou and araabMuzik. Enjoy!

About The Orchard

The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. Founded in 1997, we empower businesses and creators in the entertainment industry.

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