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Xbox Music Saves People from Playing Games in Silence

October 16, 2012 Industry Trends 2 Comments

Xbox Music LogoWe know. When you see streaming, your eyes scan to the right of the screen expecting to see green or blue… which you are trained to understand means either Spotify or Rdio. This time however, you can expect a sleek grey visually stimulating streaming service that doesn’t start with an S or an R. We’ll give you a hint… it’s no longer pink and you are probably already playing video games on it.

Xbox Music will start breaking onto the scene today on Xbox 360 consoles, and October 26th on tablets and PCs. Mobile phones will have to wait until October 29. No longer toting the name Zune or the bright desktop app, this sleek updated service loses the spreadsheet look and will be available to a pretty massive audience.

Below are some of the reasons Xbox Music could surpass expectations we have for a new service moving into a saturated market:

  • A free, ad-supported version of Xbox Music will come with every Windows 8 desktop and laptop… every time a Windows 8 owner (fill in massive number of people here) opens an MP3, Xbox Music will fulfill that request. Oh, and there are 18 million other tracks available here as well.
  • Forty MILLION people already have Xbox Live accounts and Xbox Music is launching its free service in 15 countries and its paid service in 22 countries. These people can use the credit cards they already have on file. That’s a lot of people. I’ll let you do the math.
  • Microsoft is BIG and can afford to support a free music service as a loss-leader.
  • The same ad sales team selling ad space for Bing will sell ad space for Xbox Music’s ad supported version. You might say they have some experience.
  • People already use an Xbox for more than games — something like half of Xbox usage is for non- gaming. Again, take out your calculators — time for more math.
  • You get just about everything you could possibly need with this service — radio (although not free on your mobile just yet), on-demand streaming, à la carte track downloads, a visually stimulating interface (no more spreadsheets!), a cloud, and a free pony. Ok, maybe you don’t get a pony, but you get a cloud and all that other stuff; let’s not be greedy.

Check out this video to get a peek at the platform and click here for the full press release.

Board the CMJ “Pirate!” Ship

October 11, 2012 Industry Trends No Comments

Pirate!It’s Fall and we know what that means for the industry: the CMJ Music Marathon.  CMJ will host a series of events from October 16th to 20th in NYC. These events will bring everyone from music reps and artists to college radios, college students, and professional radio (basically everyone) together.

Amid all this excitement, Pirate! will be broadcasting LIVE from Fontana’s on October 17th, starting at 12PM all the way through to 6PM. What is Pirate! you ask? Pirate! (I really like saying that) is an independent marketing and management agency from Boston that promotes music to radio stations, college students and websites in North America. Pirate! has promoted artists such as Matt & Kim, The Temper Trap, Wilco, Silversun Pickups, Tegan & Sara, Tom Waits, The Black Keys, The White Stripes and Mates of State. They work with labels such as Barsuk, RCA, Atlantic Records, Epic Records, Roadrunner, TKO, Warner Brothers and TVT [cough The Orchard]. Pirate! has also marketed products and events to tastemakers such as HBO, Target, Levi’s and provides the service to alert radio stations about ongoing tours while promoting ticket giveaways, interviews for emerging artists.

Next week, Pirate! will be broadcasting live music from the likes of Conveyor, Sean Rowe, Pretty & Nice, Mean Creek, Generationals, and Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes. In between artists, various speakers from CMJ, students from colleges and other radio professionals will be promoting music, talking about music, and radio and interviewing the featured artists live on the airwaves. It’s a great way for people to get together and talk about what everyone seems to have in common: their passion for the music industry.

See ya there!

Scoring a Sync on FIFA

FIFA 13Gone are the days when a sync placement purely involved just TV, film and advertising. An increasingly substantial part of the pie is now represented by gaming.

So it’s great news when we say The Orchard distributes 3 of the tracks on this year’s FIFA 13 soundtrack, including efforts by Duologue, Bloc Party and Stepdad. It will be one of the top selling games of 2012 and while I’m sure the fees generated helpful income, the real win comes from the exposure — it’s absolute gold.

Interestingly, the music supervisors appear to go for predominantly new bands, providing much needed exposure and giving them access to a mainstream audience. Over 1 million people in the UK alone have bought the FIFA 13 game — and it’s only been out a week. Many more of the world’s football (soccer for the Americans!) fans will purchase and play the game, but for lengthy periods of time, the game does not involve ‘playing’ football. It entails scrolling through menus, picking the teams, making transfers and choosing tactics — and all the while, music is playing from a select bunch of 50 tracks from around the globe.

The importance of this cannot be understated. Millions of people will hear these tracks repeatedly. It’s like being on the A-list of a top radio station for a year (until the next edition of the game hits the shelves) with the songs slowly being subconsciously digested. A FIFA-playing friend of mine became a huge fan of Yeasayer, even though he’s normally more inclined to listen to Dire Straits than hipster rock.

If your target audience is male and aged 16-30 — you’ve scored if you have a song placed in FIFA.

The Battle Against Piracy Continues…

October 4, 2012 Industry Trends No Comments

A fresh study into piracy by Musicmetric’s Digital Music Index has looked into the extent of illegal file-sharing across the U.K. It doesn’t read too well for those on the front line of battling piracy! While everybody in the industry has their own opinion on how to ‘fix’ this issue, it still rages on. One thing we do know is there isn’t a magic solution that we can implement to make it all disappear.

The study observed the extent of illegal file-sharing across the U.K. and the rest of the world in the first 6 months of the year. The research covers music file-sharing patterns via BitTorrent. The U.K. comes second in the worldwide chart of BitTorrent downloads with 43,263,582 downloads, second to the U.S. which had 96,681,133. The chart below puts these numbers in relation to country population.

Country Name Total Downloads Approx. Songs Country Population
1 United States 96,681,133 775,382,687 313,232,044
2 United Kingdom 43,263,582 346,973,928 62,698,362
3 Italy 33,158,943 265,934,723 61,016,804
4 Canada 23,959,924 192,158,590 34,030,586
5 Brazil 19,724,522 158,190,666 194,037,075
6 Australia 19,232,252 154,242,661 21,766,711
7 Spain 10,303,633 82,635,137 46,754,784
8 India 8,964,360 71,894,167 1,189,172,906
9 France 8,398,550 67,356,371 65,102,719
10 Philippines 8,380,208 67,209,268 101,833,938

Breaking down the U.K. further, here are the top 10 cities for piracy in the same time period arranged per capita:

City Downloads over 6 month period
London 4,565,502
Manchester 1,317,012
Nottingham 598,621
Southampton 480,151
Liverpool 927,535
Sheffield 748,301
Leicester 487,406
Stoke-on-trent 380,872
Glasgow 1,037,934
Cardiff 348,603

It’s clear people still very much like to consume music but their consumption of music is drastically changing, and so is the mindset of a music consumer. I believe our job working on the forefront of the digital music world is to continue be inventive in the way we monetize music. Being static to the changing world around us and complaining about it isn’t going to change the situation. Fighting piracy is of course a must and the people doing such a thing do a vital job. But being creative and driving the industry forward shouldn’t be overlooked. We need to engage the people who pirate music not just fight them.

It’s A Celebration Kind of Year… Happy 30 Years, CD!

October 2, 2012 Industry Trends No Comments

Happy 30th Birthday to the CDHappy Birthday to the CD! In the U.K., they’ve been commercially available for 30 years now, with the first titles available on the format coming from ABBA and Billy Joel. CDs are the most successful format in the history of the recorded music industry. The BPI’s quarterly survey of trade shipments first picked up sales of CDs in the third quarter of 1983 when 63,000 units were sold by U.K. record companies. By the end of the year, 300,000 had been sold. The following year, sales more than doubled to 800,000, but in 1985 the format became more ubiquitous when 3.1 million discs were sold.

When we look at the top albums ever sold on CD, we see some interesting things. Adele’s 21 album was only released in January 2011, yet is in second place in the chart with more than 3.5 million CDs sold. The oldest title in the chart is ABBA’s Gold (the best seller) followed by The Verve’s Urban Hymns, released 15 years ago in September 1997. Rather surprisingly, no compilations feature in the top 30 but their sales do tend to be over much shorter time periods and they age quickly.

Only three artists had more than one title in the top 30 — Coldplay and Robbie Williams had three each, with Robbie’s three titles featuring sequentially at positions 25, 26 and 27, and Dido featured twice. U.K. artists are especially well-represented in the chart, taking 21 of the top 30 and no fewer than eight of the top 10. A multitude of Greatest Hits available on several artists probably account for why only four Greatest Hits packages appear on the list.

Check out the full list below:

TOP 30 CD Albums of All Time in the U.K.

1. Gold – Greatest Hits – ABBA – Polydor (1992) – 4,038,351
2. 21 – Adele – XL Recordings (2011) – 3,553,624
3. What’s The Story Morning Glory – Oasis – Big Brother (1995) – 3,425,546
4. Back To Black – Amy Winehouse – Universal Island (2006) – 3,225,624
5. Back To Bedlam – James Blunt – Atlantic Records UK (2004) – 3,209,086
6. No Angel – Dido – RCA Label Group (2000) – 3,031,643
7. Come On Over – Shania Twain – Mercury (1997) – 3,026,994
8. Spirit – Leona Lewis – RCA Label Group (2007) – 2,951,178
9. Urban Hymns – The Verve – Virgin (1997) – 2,904,857
10. White Ladder – David Gray – Atlantic Records UK (2000) – 2,883,400
11. Life For Rent – Dido – RCA Label Group (2003) – 2,857,276
12. 1 – The Beatles – Parlophone/Virgin (2000) – 2,854,626
13. A Rush Of Blood To The Head – Coldplay – Parlophone (2002) – 2,755,800
14. Beautiful World – Take That – Polydor (2006) – 2,735,312
15. Hopes And Fears – Keane – Universal Island (2007) – 2,732,968
16. Crazy Love – Michael Buble – Warner Bros (2009) – 2,724,906
17. Scissor Sisters – Scissor Sisters – Polydor (2004) – 2,719,002
18. Talk On Corners – The Corrs – Atlantic Records UK (1997) – 2,651,526
19. X&Y – Coldplay – Parlophone (2005) – 2,608,448
20. The Man Who – Travis – Independiente (1999) – 2,553,626
21. Parachutes – Coldplay – Parlophone (2000) – 2,480,059
22. The Fame – Lady Gaga – Polydor (2009) – 2,476,984
23. Come Away With Me – Norah Jones – Parlophone (2002) – 2,471,070
24. Only By The Night – Kings Of Leon – Columbia Label Group (2008) – 2,399,373
25. I’ve Been Expecting You – Robbie Williams – EMI Records (1998) – 2,377,991
26. Greatest Hits – Robbie Williams – EMI Records (2004) – 2,269,981
27. Swing When You’re Winning – Robbie Williams – EMI Records (2001) – 2,232,232
28. The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem – Polydor (2000) – 2,231,288
29. Eyes Open – Snow Patrol – Polydor (2006) – 2,219,570
30. Ladies & Gentlemen – The Best Of – George Michael – RCA Label Group (1998) – 2,203,334

[Source: Official Charts Company]

Whereas 229 different albums have sold a million CD copies, only six single titles have reached this threshold since OCC began to track sales at the beginning of 1994. Of those, three were charity-related releases: Elton John’s re-recording of Candle In The Wind (The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund), Band Aid 20’s re-recording of Do They Know It’s Christmas, which sold 1.1 million and Perfect Day, (Children In Need). The impact of reality TV shows such as Popstars, Pop Idol and X Factor is also evident in the chart with Will Young, Gareth Gates, Shayne Ward and Hear’Say, all featuring in the Top 30.

TOP 10 CD Singles of All Time in the U.K.

1. “Something About The Way You Look/Candle” – Elton John – Mercury (1997) – 3,005,377
2. “Anything Is Possible/Evergreen” – Will Young – RCA Label Group (2002) – 1,517,513
3. “Unchained Melody” – Gareth Gates – RCA Label Group 2002 – 1,135,902
4. “Believe” – Cher – Warner Bros 1998 – 1,107,749
5. “Do They Know It’s Christmas” – Band Aid 20 – Mercury (2004) – 1,104,176
6. “Perfect Day” – Various Artists – EMI Records (1997) – 1,067,496
7. “Baby One More Time” – Britney Spears – RCA Label Group (1999) – 944,031
8. “That’s My Goal” – Shayne Ward – RCA Label Group (2005) – 923,676
9. “Barbie Girl” – Aqua – Universal Island (1997) – 886,547
10. “My Heart Will Go On” – Celine Dion – Columbia Label Group (1998) – 877,239

[Source: The Official Charts Company -- Chart reflects sales from W5 1994 to W37 2012]

Obviously digital singles now account for over 95% of all single sales, with the ever present X Factor-winning single regularly being the only CD single that sells in any great number. With even CD albums starting to lose their footing as the dominant format, I wonder what these charts will look like in another 30 years…

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