More music selling, sharing madness is upon us with Google Music and iTunes Match. A few months ago I started using Spotify. Here’s what I briefly am feeling now on overall topic. I’m still discovering most of my music via YouTube. I like obscur 80s electronic releases and even better the occasional rare demo tapes. If I find some new lost or interesting song on YouTube Google’s great search engine groups related videos in the sidebar. I’ve found over 100 songs that way in just a couple of months. Some of the songs I find on iTunes and then buy. Some will never be for sale anywhere. For example, a 1981 demo cassette uploaded in Italy with only 2 YouTube views. I “save” those songs audio and add it to my iTunes library. Apple fanboyism aside iTunes Match is incredible for my use case. It now takes all my purchased songs and obscur finds and let’s me have them everywhere. I thought I would use Spotify more but my friends who I follow aren’t listening to anything I really want to hear. The few Spotify playlist websites aren’t full of playlists that interest me. It’s an amazing service but I haven’t clicked with it yet. I’m not giving up on it yet though. I live in Gmail and Google docs all day. I’m trying to like Google+ but although I post things there my engagement seems low. The best thing about Google music will be it’s Google+ integration. Of course if Google+ doesn’t keep my interest then that’s out the window. As a musician I wonder what the cut will be for Indies on G+?
“If you want the benefits of iTunes in the Cloud for music you haven’t purchased from iTunes, iTunes Match is the perfect solution. It’s built right into the iTunes app on your Mac or PC and the Music app on your iOS devices. And it lets you store your entire collection, including music you’ve imported from CDs or purchased somewhere other than iTunes. For just $24.99 a year.” – Apple.com
Oliver’s Early Electronic Playlist on Youtube: click here
Derek Sivers is the man who created CD Baby. He posted an interesting article on his blog on some of what went on behind the scenes as Steve Jobs created iTunes. It shows another case of music industry battle. I think we are lucky that Tunecore was able to strike and promote a good way to get Independent music into the iTunes music store. I know there are other ways in but imagine if underground artists were locked out.
“I decided to refund everybody’s $40, with my deepest apologies. With 5000 musicians signed up, that meant I was refunding $200,000. Since we couldn’t promise anything, I couldn’t charge money in good conscience.” – sivers.org
A few days ago Tunecore sent me an email containing an Excel spreadsheet to fill out in order to procure my Apple Ping profile. Last night I received an email from Apple with set up instructions. The process only took a few minutes. I picked my preferred genres, uploaded my photo, typed a two line bio (they can be longer if you like) and picked ten songs I wanted to feature. That last part is interesting because I checked out a few other artist profiles and the hip-hop guys all chose some of their own music while most others picked a selection of music they were listening to. I went the later route to give fans a taste of my influences. All the songs have to be in iTunes and happily even the obscure music I searched for was there. To kick things off I uploaded a few photos from my recent live show and a video from my last show in Malta. The only real downer is when I went to find artists and people to follow I discovered most of the bands I like don’t have profiles yet. If you are on Ping please friend me there and let me know if there is anyone interesting you are following.
“True fans know it all: What their favorite artists are playing — and when and where they’re playing it. Set your inner groupie free by following your favorite artists on Ping.” – Apple.com
As a musician the word to describe how I feel about the new Apple Ping social network is: exhausted. Musicians have become the tech industries guinea pigs. Why not? We try anything and work cheap right? After creating and curating profiles on MySpace, Last.fm, Imeem, Facebook and then Facebook Fan Pages and on and on now it’s time for Ping. Of course most musicians I know won’t be able to create and artist page yet will they? At this point in time indie artists will have to create normal user profiles and watch the Lady Gaga’s get all the love. As an Apple fanboy I’ll download iTunes 10, create my profile, share it with the world and friend a bunch of people I don’t know. Let’s hope the new network really does help music discovery.
“Follow your favorite artists with a click and become part of their inner circle. Get in on the action with artist photos and status updates. Even add comments to join the conversation. Find out what music an artist likes and pick up a few recommendations. Ping is built into the iTunes app on iPhone and iPod touch. So you can see artist updates from anywhere.” – apple.com/itunes/ping/
Here’s a choice I am running into that I need help making a decision for. When you post your commercial, for sale music online do you allow the full song to stream or only allow a 30 second preview? The large online music retailers such as iTunes and Amazon only allow 30 second previews. Do they know something about buying behavior? Does allowing just a short clip tantalize a listener so he wants to hear the rest of the song and clicks buy? Could it be iTunes and Amazon believe people will “rip” or record a full song stream even if just 128k quality?
Some websites like Last.fm give you the choice. I had my music set for 30 sec play and I received the following comment:
“30 second clips? can we get anymore of a rip off thats like showing half of the picture you painted, but if you want to hear the rest youll have to buy it if people like you enough, they will buy your music stop being such a rip off” – mnmcandiez
After a little thought I switched my settings to full song play. Is that the right decision? I think everyone knows it’s easy to record any sound your computer makes. I also know my publisher Strengholt music group doesn’t approve. There are some sites such as Bandcamp who rely on people buying music in order for them to survive yet they only allow full streaming songs.
So what do you do? What are the pros and cons here?
Here’s an interesting tip I don’t recommend actually trying: Use iTunes and Tunecore to launder money! Apparently the Times Online (UK) says that’s exactly what happened using stolen credit cards.
“The Metropolitan Police and the FBI have caught an international criminal gang said to have made tens of thousands of pounds by buying their own records from Apple iTunes and Amazon with stolen credit cards. The gang are alleged to have created several songs that they provided to an online American company (Tunecore), which uploaded them to be sold on the two internet sites. It is believed that over four months from September last year the gang used 1,500 stolen or cloned British and American credit cards to buy songs worth $750,000 (£469,000). Amazon and iTunes, which were unaware of the fraud, paid $300,000 in royalties. Six men and three women were arrested yesterday by 60 officers at addresses in London, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Kent. A man in his forties, was arrested later… It is believed that one of the gang is a DJ and that he created the songs that were then bought…” – timesonline.co.uk
This seems like a stupid crime because of the trail it leaves. I wonder if they had to actually download all the songs they bought. I guess this is one way to get onto the charts!
There are now many ways to get your music on to the iTunes and Amazon MP3 shops. If you’re signed to a label they do the dirty work for you. As an independent artist you can sign your catalog to one of many aggregator services such The Orchard for example. They take a cut and put your tunes in many places for sale including ring-tone sites. Tunecore has been a popular DIY option and it’s the one I have been using for my own albums here in the USA (I have a separate record deal in Europe with Out of Line Music, outofline.de). Because I sell a decent amount on iTunes I easily make back the upfront fees Tunecore charges to get my tunes online.
However, I have a older few releases on my record label that I’m not sure would generate much income. So up until now I haven’t posted them using services that had upfront or maintenance fee’s attached to them in fear I wouldn’t make the cash back. I do sell the old releases on my own website using the Easybe store and I also have them online with my Beatport and Junodownload deals. I’ve been on the look out for a fair service to get the rest of the old catalog onto iTunes. I was pleased to recently discover Routenote. Routenote’s service is dead simple to understand. You upload your music to them and they take 10% of any music you sell after you sell it. They offer online stats and payments come via PayPal. Routenote is non-exclusive.
So is Routenote the best route for you to take? It’s not always a clear cut answer. For some further insight look at this chart and article on the Routenote blog: Digital Music Distributors Compared
There’s a new feature in iTunes called “Pass” and it’s being launched with one of my favorite bands Depeche Mode. Basically, you pay some cash in advance and are delivered new songs, remixes and videos in run up to the new album release which at release time you get the album too. I have to be honest that if I saw this concept and I didn’t like the band I would have immediately thought it was a lame idea. However, because it’s Depeche Mode and their first single “Wrong” is great my finger is hovering over the Buy Pass button. It seems someone at iTunes knows what they are doing.
A funny side note to this story is the Engadget coverage of Pass (link). They don’t like Pass and the author Joseph L. Flatley certainly doesn’t like Depeche Mode:
“Of course, what we’d really like to see is this sort of a deal for a band that didn’t peak twenty years ago. In the meantime, we’ll be catching up with Depeche Mode the way nature intended — during the weekly spin of Personal Jesus at 80’s Night.” – Joseph L. Flatley, Engadget
I’m happy to report that in the post’s comments section DM fans tell Mr. Flatley that he’s clueless. I agree.
There’s only one thing I want more than having my music collection “in the cloud” and that’s for Apple to allow us to Tag songs in iTunes. Why are we stuck choosing just one Genre? If I have a DJ Set I want to tag it “DJ Set” “techno” “gym” “Dave Clarke“. As of now all I can do is pick Genre -> Electronic Music.
This post is actually a question to all of you guys… am I missing something? Is there a way you are labeling your iTunes stuff that would help me? I do realize that if I have all the meta data filled out that I can find what I am looking for but my library is so large I forget things are there entirely. So if I don’t know I’m looking for Dave Clarke but I want a nice mix to play at the gym with Tags at least it would pop up.
I have a zillion songs on my studio’s Apple Mac Pro. When I am at home or on the road I can’t listen to those songs. In the past there were services such as My.MP3.com that would let you put all your music in the cloud. However, they never went through the hoola hoops to get past the RIAA and were shut down. Today as I woke up every tech site I read was talking about Lala. Lala, with the blessing from the RIAA lets users have their entire music catalog in cloud. They are also a social network, music store, an iPhone app (yes you can listen to your catalog anywhere), and lastly a free music streaming service ala Last.fm.
“What’s impressive about Lala isn’t just the number of things it does, but how well it does them. I’ve been using it for a while, and it works exceptionally well. The browser-based interface for listening to your music mimics iTunes, and it’s easy to forget it’s Web-based: music starts with little or no delay, and keeps playing even if you browse around Lala or bop over to another browser tab or window.” – technologizer.com
The music you have currently sitting on your hard drive becomes available on Lala and in the cloud two ways. First, if Lala can recognize a song and Lala has it in it’s catalog it will “unlock it” for you without you having to upload your exact file. If on the other hand you have some obscure releases Lala doesn’t know about you will have to go through the upload process.
There is no advertising on the site and they offer two ways to purchase music. You can buy songs for about .79 beating even Amazon MP3 or you can pay .10 and get the permanent streaming right to the song. One thing I have to mention is so far Lala is US only.
So it looks good to me, my only worry is if I spend all my time getting my music on the service and they go out of business my time would be wasted. I also have to consider If Apple rolls their own type of iTunes in the cloud I would want to be with them for the easy integration.
Here’s a few articles that explain out the new Lala: