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🔵 Do we have too many stakeholders in music now?
The problem with the complexities of music, and why that underlines the value of platforms like Bandcamp
Hi there -
Whilst chatting all things music with an artist friend the other day, he made a comment that I think reflected a more general issue at the moment:
"Artists cannot continue feeding all the people we're expected to feed"
It echoes sentiments I've heard in conversations elsewhere, to the effect of "this is all too complex to be workable" and "there's just too many snouts in the trough now"; just a feeling that money is now spread far too thin across too many entities drawing percentages from the bottom line.
This all came back to mind today when seeing Spotify's new capsule collection of merch - and the prices that came with it.
$20 for a bandana? $120 for a hoodie?! Come on now - that's crazy.
I suspect a large factor in the heavily marked-up pricing speaks to the aforementioned issue: there will fairly certainly a long list of stakeholders who need to get their cut (merch company, Spotify etc) before the artists involved even see a penny.
”The more things change, the more they stay the same…”
In that context, it isn't hard to see why a certain section of the artist community are reacting so negatively to Bandcamp's recent acquisition. As the article linked below explains, Bandcamp is one of very places where some artists (not all, granted) could sell directly to fans with minimal interference. Compared to most routes to market, there is a wonderful simplicity about it that puts the focus - for both the artist and the fan - back on the art itself.
I still find it quite sad that a platform like Bandcamp - greatly loved by its users, and run with huge passion by a great team - is getting dragged through such a negative moment. As a marketing professional I feel Songtradr could have reversed this by appealing to the Bandcamp community positively; engaging with them and generally inspiring a "yes we can" mindset rather than the one which continues to linger amid the company’s deafening silence.
All platforms need their users. The lesson here is that if you are taking ownership of something - particularly something so passionately adored by its userbase - you need to build a positive connection with that community and get them invested in the continued growth of the business.
Perhaps the biggest irony is that I genuinely don’t see Songtradr as a malign presence. It could well transform Bandcamp into something even better. It could be the next incredible success story. Everything is possible!
So much is changing with regards to music and remuneration. Bandcamp has a potentially huge role to play in that and it has an amazing team ready to make that happen. Now it just needs its new owners to build a positive narrative that the community can feel invested in.
Have a great evening,
🎶 written whilst listening to "Baddadan” by Chase & Status, Bou & Flowdan. For me Flowdan has become like a cheat code for achieving an instant, floor-destroying banger, with that voice of pure granite that sounds like the end of days. Skrillex and Fred Again realised it with the mighty “Rumble” and now Chase & Status and Bou have done the same here. This feels about as London as London can sound in 2023. I’d wager anyone in the capital could walk outside and within minutes will hear this blasting from a passing car window. With good reason too; it sounds like most of us are feeling: ready to detonate.
🤖 playing with the new Network Notes Music League. We’ve room for more and votes a trickling in for round one already. Click here if you just want to join but be quick; first round starts tomorrow!
Stories from the Music Industry:
“Each week, a new artist will drop a carefully curated selection of limited-edition items ranging from stylish apparel to some less-conventional items,” announced Spotify in a blog post. “Top fans of each of the artists will have the first chance to shop the drops via Spotify’s Fans First program, which helps artists identify and reward their biggest fans on the platform with special offers.”
👆🏻Hot take: Spotify’s slow march into the merch space continues. Biggest problem here? The prices. Sorry but they’re insane. Don’t treat fans like that.
The sad thing is it didn’t have to play out like this, the acquisition created a void and Songtradr failed to fill it with a story, so doubt grew, then the layoffs, then rage and in response Songtradr gave us silence. Saying “it’s business as usual” might be enough to tame a worried brand, but people on Bandcamp don’t see themselves as brands or businesses, we’re people who love music and want to support its continued existence.
👆🏻Hot take: a solid explanation from an artist as to why artists are feeling negative to Songtradr right now. I think it’s something the company would do well to take note of. And if Songtradr needs help marketing Bandcamp and addressing this, please do get in touch.
Like other AI video generators (Runway, Meta’s Make-A-Video and Google’s Imagen Video) Kaiber allows users to either upload images/videos or type in their own ideas to generate animated content. Kaiber offers two types of animation style—”Flipbook,” a frame-by-frame effect, or “Motion,” a fluid style where content smoothly transitions between frames. Users can describe how they want the video to look or select from Kaiber’s pre-prompted subjects and styles.
👆🏻Hot take: I love this. Artists are swamped and that schism of an audio format in a visual world is always there. This could be a huge help.
Its latest feature for this is a ‘music marketplace’ that has launched in beta. It’s a simple idea: fans can pay their favourite artists on the platform directly, using their credit cards. Artists can set prices for their music to be streamed and downloaded, and fans can choose to pay more than the set price if they want to show extra support. So, this is about actual dollars (which can be converted into other fiat currencies for payout). However, there’s an additional angle involving Audius’s own $Audio tokens. When a fan pays an artist, each will get a token for every $1 in the transaction.
👆🏻Hot take: Bandcamp has long proven that in the right environment and platform culture, fans will indeed pay over the odds to better compensate artists. I’ll be interested to see whether that culture will emerge on Audius.
When artists find a likely collaborator, they will be able to message them directly through the service to suggest a musical hook-up. “We built Tidal Collabs to take the stress and inefficiency out of the process of finding great collaborators. We leverage our data and editorial expertise to recommend high-quality collaborators in an environment that is tailored and safe,” promised global head of product Agustina Sacerdote.
👆🏻Hot take: this is an admirable feature but I just feel it’s at the wrong point in the chain. Tidal is where you go to listen to finished, release music. Collabs happen at the other end, when the music is being created. To combine the two misunderstands things IMO.
Stories from the Broader World of Tech:
The core features of Leo aren’t too dissimilar from other AI chatbots like Bing Chat and Google Bard: it can translate, answer questions, summarize webpages, and generate new content. Brave says the benefits of Leo over those offerings are that it aligns with the company’s focus on privacy — conversations with the chatbot are not recorded or used to train AI models, and no login information is required to use it.
👆🏻Hot take: a smart move from Brave here, who continue to own that privacy space when it comes to web browsing (well, alongside DuckDuckGo anyway)
There is also the matter of exclusivity. Even as Spotify has loosened its grip on other shows, Rogan is still exclusive to the platform, minus promotional YouTube clips. And while Spotify has become one of the biggest players in the market (in no small part thanks to Rogan), it is still the podcast app of choice for only 17 percent of podcast listeners, according to a study from Cumulus, and continues to lose share to YouTube.
👆🏻Hot take: a solid take on the Catch-22 that Spotify now finds itself in where Rogan is concerned.
Following the United States in July, YouTube Premium’s international price increase is starting. The Google video is rolling this out slowly across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and South America. As of November 1, YouTube Premium is seeing an international price increase in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Chile, Germany, Poland, and Turkey. This applies to individual, family, and student plans for YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium.
👆🏻Hot take: inevitable, but presumably good news for rights holders.
Need something else to read? Here you go:
In the last decade, the 'League of Legends' developer discreetly produced almost 1000 songs, including major hits.
👆🏻Hot take: a great look at just how much power League of Legends has accrued in the music space. I had first-hand experience of that when Run The Jewels’ music was using in the LoL final. 🤯
“If you’re directing a $250 million movie, it’s kind of weird for the director to leave with a few months to go”
👆🏻Hot take: Disney’s travails continue, and where Marvel is concerned, it feels like a crisis. If you could read this whilst covering your face with your hands in horror, you would.
Hey there! I am MD of Motive Unknown, a strategic marketing agency based in the UK. Our artist clients cover anything from top-tier pop (Spice Girls, Robbie Williams) through hip hop (Run The Jewels, Dessa), electronic (Underworld, Moby) and more. Our label clients take in Dirty Hit (The 1975, Beabadoobee) Partisan Records (IDLES, Fontaines DC), Domino Records (Arctic Monkeys, Wet Leg), Warp Records (Aphex Twin, Danny Brown), LuckyMe (Baauer, Hudson Mohawke), and Lex Records (MF DOOM, Eyedress) among others. Recent recorded music clients to join the family include Because Music (Christine & The Queens, Shygirl), Dangerbird (Grandaddy, Slothrust) and London Records (Bananrama, Sugababes). In addition to our recorded music division, we also have a successful growth marketing division which has a strong focus on music creation. Our clients in this space include Beatport, Plugin Boutique, Loopmasters, UJAM, RoEx, BT, Rhodes and more. Care to learn more? Click here to visit our website.
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