|WEDNESDAY 8 JUNE 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: An analyst from US investment bank Raymond James has said that music streaming services like Spotify are in a better position than video streaming platforms like Netflix, and therefore investors shouldn't assume all the challenges faced by the latter automatically apply to the former. Those comments came as the bank upgraded its classification of Spotify's shares from 'market perform' to 'outperform'... [READ MORE]|
US bank upbeat about Spotify, lumping it in with Netflix is an "overgeneralisation"
Spotify's share price has been mainly in decline ever since a February 2021 peak, with investors increasingly nervous about the subscription streaming business at large, partly because a COVID-caused surge in home entertainment consumption has inevitably come to an end, and partly because an increasing number of platforms are competing for consumer attention, including the ad-funded free platforms like YouTube and TikTok.
In April, after Spotify confirmed it had signed up two million more premium subscribers in the first quarter of 2022 - despite the backlash over its exclusive Joe Rogan podcast and the war in Ukraine resulting in the closure of its Russian service - the streaming firm's share price dropped below $100 for the first time. That decline, despite the positive stats, was partly because Spotify's growth was below expectations, but partly because of the wider sector concerns.
Indeed, Netflix's first quarter financial results were arguably impacting on Spotify's share price as much as its own figures. The video service saw its subscriber numbers decline in the first quarter, seeming to confirm that investors were right to be nervous about the future of the subscription streaming business.
At the time, Spotify boss Daniel Ek was, unsurprisingly, keen to distinguish audio streaming from video streaming when talking to his investors. He said: "I think a lot of people are grouping us and Netflix together. Despite both being media companies and primarily subscription revenue companies, that's kind of where the similarities end for me ... [we are] vastly different businesses".
There are, of course, a number of ways in which audio streaming and video streaming differ. In particular, in video, streaming services compete on catalogue. Which has created challenges for Netflix as the traditional TV and film studios have launched their own services. Yes, Netflix makes its own shows too, but it also licenses in programmes from those other studios. Meaning it is now competing with its suppliers.
Whereas in music, all the services have more or less the same catalogue, which is controlled by the record companies and music distributors, who - in the main - are not in the business of launching their own streaming services. Which means Spotify isn't going to suddenly find itself in competition with Universal Music, and therefore lose access to the major's most popular content.
Now, that's not to say that Spotify isn't facing any of the challenges of the wider subscription streaming business. It clearly is. But, Ek would argue, it is nevertheless in a stronger position. And the market analysts at Raymond James agree.
Grouping together music streaming and video streaming is an "overgeneralisation", the bank's Andrew Marok told Yahoo Finance Live yesterday. "What we see in the competitive environment for streaming music is a lot more stable ... than you see, for instance, in streaming video, where content owners are increasingly taking ownership of their content, walling it off, going directly to consumers".
"On the [music] side, the dynamic where the major labels own a significant majority of the content, and are also basically dependent on the streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music to power industry growth, makes that a much more stable contingent".
That also means that music streaming services are less likely to end up in a price war with rivals, with services competing on "product differentiation and network effects".
Marok added that service-led curation and recommendations are more important in music, which makes it less simple for consumers to move around services month to month, because those recommendations are going to be better the longer you stay with a platform and the more data its algorithm has to crunch. Whereas with video, consumers might move around the platforms on a regular basis based on where the latest buzzy content is available.
With a platform like Spotify, Marok said, "you build your playlist, the service will tune its algorithms to provide good music recommendations - and once you have all that set up, it's relatively more difficult to switch services to an Apple Music or an Amazon Music. Whereas, with streaming video, it really is a content differentiation story, where you could watch 'Stranger Things' on Netflix one month and then ['Obi-Wan Kenobi'] on Disney+ the next month, and you could cycle between those services in a way that we really don't see with streaming music".
By upgrading Spotify's shares from 'market perform' - where you expect the shares to perform inline with the wider market - to 'outperform' - where you expect shares to, well, outperform the market - Raymond James is basically encouraging its clients to think about buying Spotify stock.
"At these trading levels we believe that the bad news is priced in with relatively limited downside", Marok said when upgrading the music service's classification on Monday. "Spotify remains a best-in-class streaming audio platform with a lot of subscriber runway and low churn - a potentially recession-resistant name in streaming entertainment".
So, if you want to be upbeat about music streaming - which is, after all, by far the biggest revenue generator for the record industry today - then take all that on board to justify your optimism. If you prefer doom and gloom, there'll no doubt be some new stats to help justify your position anytime now!
TuneCore launches new unlimited release pricing model
Although most of the DIY-level music distributors offer a similar service when it comes to what platforms they deliver content to, there is differentiation between rival companies when it comes to things like add-on services and pricing models.
Some charge less upfront but take a commission on future royalties, others charge fees and then take no commission. Some charge per release, some per year. And some bundle in add-on data and promotional services, while others charge extra for such things.
TuneCore says it is launching its new Unlimited Release service because artists increasingly want the flexibility to release more tracks more often and to test release tracks to a small number of services. The new distribution packages now available will allow artists to do that in an affordable way, it adds.
The firm's CEO Andreea Gleeson states: "We've spent a year speaking directly to artists and labels about how we can make our service better for them. What emerged is: artists want to be able to test their new music for free before distributing to all services and they want to release the music they are creating instantly, regularly, and seamlessly with one annual subscription enabling unlimited music distribution".
"TuneCore's new programme gives self-releasing artists at any stage of their careers the freedom to choose the plan that works best for them", she goes on, "while maintaining the high quality of service TuneCore is known for. With TuneCore Unlimited, artists pay less and earn more".
Meanwhile, Head Of TuneCore UK & Ireland, Sarah Wilson, adds: "In a world where we are all 'always on' we have to appreciate the same goes for artists - creativity in the modern world doesn't stop. It's no longer confined to traditional release schedules, and we at TuneCore recognise this, and want to give artists an economical and quality-driven product to support them, whilst still making sure we give them full remuneration".
"The UK is a breeding ground for boundary pushing in music", she continues, "and we're proud to have listened to our clients and embraced the feedback loud and clear - release what you want, when you want, and don't break the bank doing it".
Under the new pricing structure, TuneCore will offer three levels priced at £12.99, £24.99 and £39.99 per year, with more add-on services as you work your way up that ladder. Artists receive 100% of any subsequent royalties on all those plans.
The firm's free-to-access social platform distribution service launched last year will also remain, which allows new artists to get their music into the audio libraries of platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube without any upfront costs, with TuneCore instead taking a commission on any future income.
Universal launches new Virgin Music services division for Africa
The new Africa-focused division will, and I quote, "focus on supporting the next wave of independent artists, talents, labels, influencers and entrepreneurs from the region with disruptive innovation and best in class services, to help deliver global success for its roster, and further expand the reach of music culture from across the continent to the vast African diaspora, as well as to new fans and audiences around the world".
The major says that Virgin Music Africa launches with more than 50 label partners from 25 countries across the continent, which means it already has more than 15,000 titles in its catalogue. As well as working with new artists and new releases, the new services division also aims to get a number of older African music catalogues streaming for the first time.
It will all be headed up by Universal Music Africa's Director Of International Development Guylaine Clery and Head Of A&R Félix Pea, both of whom report into Universal Music Africa MD Franck Kacou.
Says Kacou: "Our vision for Virgin Music in Africa is based on an observation that African cultural heritage has not yet fully found its place in the digital world and on [streaming services] globally. Indeed, with some of these services rarely existing in certain territories, this heritage is unequally represented. Our ambition is to make African music a showcase of all that Africa and its diaspora can offer the world!"
Noting the plan to distribute and promote catalogue as well as new releases, he adds: "We intend to give new life to forgotten songs ... digitising them to make them accessible to as many people as possible, everywhere in the world. The creation of this label services [division] will make it possible to preserve, distribute, structure, and promote the African musical heritage of yesterday, today and tomorrow, whilst also providing global distribution services to Africa's most exciting artists, labels and entrepreneurs".
Robbie Williams records orchestral versions of hits
He's putting out a greatest hits album, of sorts, called 'XXV'. I say "of sorts", because this isn't just a compilation of previously released tracks. Rather, he's gone back to the studio and recorded new versions of some old favourites with the Dutch orchestra Metropole Orkest.
"I'm so excited to announce my new album 'XXV' which celebrates many of my favourite songs from the past 25 years", says Williams. "Each track has a special place in my heart so it was a real thrill to record them again with the Metropole Orkest. Can't wait for you all to hear it".
Some of you will possibly have noted that it's actually 26 years since Williams released his debut solo single in 1996, a cover of George Michael's 'Freedom', he having gained his freedom from Take That the previous summer. But apparently we're counting from 1997, when he released his debut solo album, 'Life Thru A Lens' and his first original songs.
The standard version of the album will feature nineteen newly re-recorded tracks. A deluxe edition will bump that up to 29 including a "Beethoven AI" version of 'Angels'. I don't know what that means, but it sounds exciting, doesn't it? Exciting or shit. You decide.
Hedging his bets, Williams has also recorded a non-Beethoven, non-AI new version of 'Angels', which will feature on the standard edition. It's also the first single from the release, and you can listen to it here now.
William Orbit says inspiration for new album "struck with a vengeance" after years away from music
"I had been away from music making for some years, holed up in a beach town in California, painting, and writing about my life and reflecting on general observations", says Orbit of his time away from music. "Then, back in London, inspiration struck with a vengeance. I was feeling the same spirit as I had in the mid 90s".
"It was a blessing to have the exquisite contributions from the artists who appear on the album", he goes on. "And a thrill to explore new technologies. It is one of my very best, with the difference being gaining an understanding of a totally new landscape of means to present it to people's ears".
"I want people to hear this", he says. "I'm going to do some amazing versions of the songs, and I'm going to tour it. I'll work this album really hard! And then, after all this, I'll go and produce for other artists again and become a pop tart. Because I like making music again!"
That's nice, isn't it? It's good to see someone brimming over with renewed enthusiasm after such a long time. But what does that enthusiasm sound like? Well, you'll find out when the 'The Painter' is released on 26 Aug. And you can get a good idea via the album's first single, 'Colours Colliding', featuring Polly Scattergood. Listen to that here.
The Delgados announce live return
"When we started The Delgados in 1994, it instantly felt effortless and simple", say the band. "There was a synergy and a chemistry. Four people pulling in different directions, but towards the same destination. Two of us couldn't play very well and two couldn't play at all but that unlearned sensitivity was our guide".
Why get back together now though? Well, I'm glad you asked. "Fast forward 25 or so years … the band has been split up for fifteen of them", they go on, "and we're driving to [Mogwai guitarist] Stuart Braithwaite's wedding … we've spent hardly any time with each other for over a decade and like before it's effortless, simple … and the thought occurs that it might be good to play together once again".
So that's what they've been doing. Playing together. And seemingly that playing together has proven good enough in private to try it in public. So, at the beginning of next year you'll get the opportunity to find out how effortless and simple it really is for yourself.
Tickets go on sale on Friday. Here are the dates:
20 Jan: Brighton, Concorde 2
21 Jan: London, Shepherds Bush Empire
22 Jan: Manchester, Academy 2
24 Jan: Sheffield, Leadmill
25 Jan: Glasgow, Barrowland Ballroom
Partisan Records has signed the Ezra Collective and announced the release of the outfit's first single for the label, 'Victory Dance'. The label's MD, Zena White, says: "We are so proud and excited to welcome Ezra Collective to our roster. Having been fans of their world class musicianship for years, we are so happy to bring their music and message to our daily work and can't wait to support them in the next years of their flourishing career".
Proper Music has announced a new logistics deal with the UK division of classical label Naxos Music, which will see Proper "oversee storage, picking, packing, delivery and cash collection" for Naxos in the UK and Ireland. "This agreement will allow Naxos Music UK to continue its focus on sales, marketing and promotion of its distributed labels, in the knowledge that its logistics is in safe hands", says Naxos Deputy CEO Matthias Lutzweiler.
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
BMG has announced a partnership with Chief Keef around a new label called 43B, which somehow stands for 'Forget Everybody'. It's actually a partnership between the rapper and his longtime label RBC Records, which BMG acquired in 2018. Says Keef: "43B has been a passion project of mine for over a year and I'm ready to give artists that are changing the game a label where they can really succeed". The new label's first signing is Atlanta-based rapper Lil Gnar.
Future has released the video for 'Puffin On Zootiez', from his latest album 'I Never Liked You'.
Graham Coxon has announced that he will publish a memoir - titled 'Verse, Chorus, Monster!' - on 6 Oct. Publisher Faber promises "an intimate, honest reflection on music, fame, addiction and art by one of Britain's most iconic musicians".
Regina Spektor has released new single 'Loveology'. Her new album, 'Home, Before And After', is out on 24 Jun.
Charles Watson has released a new version of his song 'Going Places', featuring comedian Mae Martin on guitar and vocals and former Guillemots frontman Fyfe Dangerfield on piano. "I think when we were talking about doing something together initially Mae was going to direct. I've been trying to convince Mae to just make a whole record. The world needs it. We ran through a few video treatments and just playing the song in a studio was the one that really excited Mae, so then we were like, 'Let's re-record it with you singing!' It was a really fun day".
Hatis Noit has released new single 'Inori'. The track is built upon a field recording made a kilometre away from the Fukoshima nuclear power plant. "It was the first day that local people who used to live there were able to come back to their hometown", she says. "The next day I went to take a field recording of the ocean, which would become the base for this song, as even after a disaster like this, the ocean remains the ocean".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
BTS's Jungkook says he wiped Instagram account "to make it look nicer"
Usually people would just use Instagram's archive feature to simply hide all their old posts from their public profile. Those archived posts can then be brought back later, should the mood take you. Simple. Although only if you know that feature exists.
Allaying fans' fears that something terrible had happened to make him delete all of his old Instagram photos, in a new live video chat on Vlive Jungkook explained that he was just trying to tidy his account up. He insisted that there was "absolutely no [negative] reason at all" for the decision to remove all the old posts.
"It's not because something happened", he said. "I just didn't like how it looked. Communicating with you on Instagram through posts is really precious and great, and I have it all in my heart".
That's not to say he didn't feel a little crestfallen when he realised that he could have just archived the posts instead of actually deleting them. "I do think that it's too bad that I just erased it all", he went on. "I didn't know you could archive pictures, I just wanted to make it look nicer".
Whatever, there's enough stuff on the internet already, it's probably better that he deleted everything rather than just leaving it in storage getting (virtually) dusty. In fact, everyone should delete everything right now. If only to make some space for new BTS anthology album, 'Proof', which is out this Friday.