Category: apple music streaming

Apple Music and Why Taylor Swift is Your New Best Friend

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

If you are an independent musician, this weekend Taylor Swift became your new best friend. Whether you like her music or not,  you should be thanking T-Swift.

Here’s some background info:

This month Apple announced the launch of Apple Music. You can read more about the launch here.

Apple’s streaming service will require a paid subscription (no freemium like Spotify) after a 90-day free trial. About a week after the announcement was made, a contract leaked that stated that Apple Music was not going to compensate rights owners during the three month free trial.

This put the entire industry on edge, and for good reason. Three months with no revenue is never something a business owner wants to hear.

While the music industry was trying to decide what to do with Apple’s decision, Taylor Swift stepped in.

She famously pulled all her music from Spotify last year, stating that she was not okay with people listening to her music for free. And she took the same position with Apple.

Swift announced that her newest album, 1989, would not be available on Apple Music during the free trial period. In her open letter to Apple she said “We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

Swift also declared that this was not a selfish move. She says “This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows.” She goes on to say that she is speaking up for the artists, songwriters, and producers who rely on this income to make ends meet. Swift asked Apple to change their policy, stating that the tech giant has enough money to pay musicians during the free trial, even if the fans aren’t paying.

Luckily for musicians everywhere, Apple listened.

Senior executive for Apple, Eddy Cue, announced over Twitter that Apple heard Taylor and independent musicians, and they will change their policy so that rights holders will be compensated during the free trial.

This is a big victory for musicians and creators everywhere. And we have Taylor Swift to thank for that. She was the catalyst behind changing Apple’s mind.

Why Does This Matter to Independent Musicians?

Something independent musicians lack is organization. That’s the nature of being independent. We don’t report to anyone, there is no standard network we all belong to. This is a great thing because it means that musicians are free to create whatever they want, with no fear of being told what to do by a label or other third party.

But this lack of organization is devastating when it comes to effecting major change in the industry. As individuals, we have no real way to influence government policy, and no power to affect decisions that are made by big businesses.

But today, we found a voice. Taylor Swift has the fan base, the fame, the influence, and the sales record to make Apple take notice. And Taylor seems to genuinely care about the future of the music industry for everyone, not just major artists and labels.

While we can’t expect Taylor to fix everything, she just accomplished a great thing for the music industry as a whole. And independent musicians should be thanking her.

We should also be having conversations about sustainable streaming on a regular basis. People are getting used to the idea of paying a subscription for music, and as we look forward to a sustainable income model for musicians, we can use that to our advantage. Things may not look so great right now. But we are in the beginning of a whole new music industry, and good decisions— like Apple’s decision to pay artists—are helping us move in the right direction.




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Apple Music Streaming: What It Means for the Independent Artist

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Yesterday, Apple unveiled its new music streaming service. While Apple’s release of iTunes revolutionized how the world buys music, they have been slow to enter the world of streaming.

The announcement came with all the bells and whistles that normally accompany Apple’s tech releases… but, for independent musicians, the announcement likely raises more questions than it answers.

The Basics

For the new service, Apple will charge $9.99 per month for streaming and radio services. Alternatively, users can choose a family plan (for up to six people) for $14.99 a month. Apple Music streaming will offer curated playlists, radio stations, complete integration with iTunes, and a new artist-to-fan social feature called Connect.

What Will It Pay?

Noticeably absent from all information offered by Apple is the amount that Apple Music will pay artists.

Unlike other streaming platforms, there is no free tier on Apple music. This is good news for the makers of music, as it should increase the amount of money paid to rights owners. However, if the payment structure looks anything like those of Spotify or Pandora, independent musicians will still be getting the smallest piece of a very small pie. The music streaming industry as a whole is not friendly to independent musicians.

It appears that Apple Music will not be much different, despite their claims in the announcement videos to help independent musicians build sustainable careers.

Will “Connect” Actually Connect Artists and Fans?

It seems that Apple Music is trying to compete with Jay Z’s Tidal by offering fans exclusive content at no extra cost. Actually, they are offering “exclusive” content at no cost at all. Anyone— even nonmembers of the streaming service—can access the videos, pictures, and music files that artists upload. This is not good news for independent musicians.

If you are working hard to create exclusive content for your diehard fans, you should be doing it in a way that creates income for you. (Ever heard of patronage?) By making Connect available to everyone, Apple completely negated the “exclusivity” of that content. In essence, it’s the same as putting a video up on YouTube. The key difference is that this content will link directly to your music and artist profile in Apple Music. It’s an important distinction, but it’s not enough. There’s no real way for your content to work for you on Connect.

Apple also did not address royalty payments on Connect. If you upload a demo of your new single, are you being paid whenever fans listen to that demo? Or are you cutting your losses? You spend the time creating a song and recording the demo—not to mention the money you spent on the equipment to do those things—and Apple hasn’t given any indication on whether or not they are going to pay you when fans listen to your “exclusive” content.

Connect also offers nothing new in terms of fan engagement. Fans can comment on the material you upload, and you can comment back. This is exactly what is offered on Facebook and Twitter. Connect is a downgrade when you look at its social media competition (Twitter and Facebook); even Spotify allows private messaging. The only benefit in Connect is that fans don’t have to follow you to see your content and comment on it.

Independent Friendly?

Did I mention that there is a MAJOR problem for independent musicians in the very structure of Apple’s Connect? As an independent artist myself, with music currently on iTunes, I decided to claim my Artist profile on Connect. This is what I found:

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 9.49.00 AM

I am a fully independent artist with no management company or label. Normally, I would just submit my information the management information and leave the label portion blank, since I am not signed to any kind of label. However, there was no option to communicate that I was not affiliated at all with a record label. I was not able to push the submit button to claim my profile until I had entered information about my (nonexistent) record label.  If Apple is touting that their service is indie-friendly, requiring artists to enter their record label information in order to claim their profile is not the way to go about it.

So far, I have seen nothing about Apple Music that is truly attempting to help independent artists.

What Should Independent Artists Do?

Apple Music’s launch simply adds to the ongoing discussion about streaming and its sustainability. Streaming is great for fans of music, but is this form of music consumption beneficial to the music industry in the long run? How can artists create long-term careers when their sources of income are decreasing in number and scale?

Independent artists have to change the way they think about streaming as a whole. When you look at streaming as a revenue stream, it falls short. No one (not even Pharrell) can make a living purely from the income generated by streaming. It simply isn’t generating enough money.

However, when artists look at streaming as a marketing tool that pays them, the game changes.

If you want people to discover you using streaming services, great! Put your music on Spotify, and Pandora, and Apple Music. Just don’t add your full catalog. Let fans get a taste of your best stuff. Post on Apple’s Connect like you would any other social media tool. Just don’t let these third party websites be the primary way that you interact with and sell music to fans. There are other, better ways to connect with the people who love your music.

In the End

Is Apple streaming a game changer for the music industry? I don’t think so. At the moment, it appears to be nothing more than a company formerly on the leading edge of innovation playing catch-up. Apple Music is not going to revolutionize the music industry.

Instead, changes and revolution will come from independent artists and the choices that we make as content creators.

For more information on Apple Music, check the following websites:

 




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