Tag Archives: Real Fans Buy Music

CONFIRMED: Tidal Music Streaming Counted On Billboard Charts

Anyone that has been following the music industry knows that the 2010s have been an exciting, yet turbulent time.  The digital age has led to a mass democratization of nearly every possible information source, but few areas have been rocked by that impact like music.  Once a dependable source of revenue, physical sales of albums have dwindled to fractions of their former strength for all but a few superstar artists. Even while artists and chart hounds continue to boast about massive amounts of streaming activity, the truth is these plays earn just cents on the dollar when compared to physical sales.  To turn a profit today, artists have had to get rather creative.

One leap in that creative space was Tidal, formally launched on March 30th, 2015 by rapper Jay Z and other Artist Owners.  Tidal’s goal was to set a standard for paying artists a larger percentage of royalties than mostly free streaming titan Spotify at the time.  And while Tidal has actually kept that promise (able to pay between twice and 6 times per stream what an artist would receive on Spotify, dependent on their record label’s contract terms), the service has had a tough time building a sizeable subscriber base.  With no free tier for music listening, Tidal subscribers have to pay a minimum $9.99 per month to utilize the service.

Another significant set back for Tidal?  The service’s streaming data was not previously counted on any of Billboard’s official charts.  In other words, if an artist released music exclusively to Tidal, they would be unable to claim success on the charts.

But after months of confusion and social media debate, Billboard has finally confirmed that Tidal streaming data is now factored into their charting methodology.  On the strength of Jay Z’s explosive new album 4:44 being certified platinum by the RIAA in less than a week, Billboard gave this clarification

According to an RIAA spokesperson, a sale can count towards a certification if purchased directly by the customer, or a business can purchase the album or song and offer it to customers. In the latter case, customers must take affirmative steps to acquire the album or song (submitting an email address and promotional code, for example).

Note: for Billboard charting purposes, as per the current pricing policy, the Sprint-supported downloads would not count towards 4:44’s chart ranking. However, any streams reported by Tidal to Nielsen Music for the album’s songs in the week ending July 6 would contribute to the album’s ranking based solely on streaming equivalent album units.

So by next week, fans should expect to see Jay Z’s new album somewhere on the Billboard charts, even if it doesn’t place as high as it would if streamed on all services.

For those confused as to how a platinum certification is even possible if the album’s not “for sale”, here’s the breakdown…

  1. As part of Tidal’s mammoth deal  with Sprint, Jay Z gives exclusive rights to the music to Tidal subscribers for a window of time.
  2. Upon release of the Album, Sprint offers its customers a free 6 month trial of Tidal and attach the album as a free download, as long as they actively sign up using their email address.
  3. Tidal can then report these sign ups as equivalent sales, with Sprint being the sole purchaser of the content.  And they clearly got over a million people to sign up.
  4. It’s worth noting that before anything was even posted on Tidal, Jay Z probably made far more from the Sprint deal than he ever could have in traditional album sales or digital downloads.  Even under the old sales model of $15/cd ($15 million) an artist would be lucky to net even a quarter of that sum after paying product costs, distribution, the co-writers and artist performers and the label.

But this victory is only one in a much longer fight.  Though the launch of Tidal and Apple Music have improved the dismal profits of streaming since their low point in 2014, audiences continue to prefer the ‘freemium model’ of music consumption via Spotify, or illegal piracy.  And while Tidal’s superstar artist owners like Jay Z, Madonna and Beyoncé have the power and influence to be able take risks and discover innovative new methods of revenue generation, less known artists are still caught in a challenging situation to profit from their craft.  Just like the political landscape, the music industry’s future is a lot more complicated than one success.

We’ll see what comes next for Tidal.

 

 

Music Musings: Taylor Swift Gets Real About the Music Business

Check out Taylor Swift’s incredible speech at the Billboard Women in Music Awards.

The music superstar made the state while accepting the award for Billboard’s Woman of the Year.  Swift, a seven-time Grammy Award winner and twelve-time Billboard Music Award winner, had the year’s highest selling album by a single artist with 1989 (only Disney’s smash hit Frozen has sold more as of now).  Swift is one of the most powerful voices in all of the music industry right now.

So her choice to get right to the problem at hand was heard loud and clear by fellow artists, writers and producers in the room.  For music to continue to truly be an industry, some serious changes need to take place.

Here’s what she had to say…

…I am very well aware that the music industry is changing, and it will continue to change.  I am open to that change.  I’m open to progress.  I am not open to the financial model that is currently in place.  I really believe that we in the music industry can work together to find a way to bond technology with integrity.  And I just really hope we can teach a younger generation the value of investment in music rather than just the ephemeral consumption of it.

There has to be a way for streaming, or any future ways that we access music to fairly compensate the writers, musicians and producers of that music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zG9UZcw19_8

If any of this sounds familiar, then you probably caught my earlier post taking a look at the issues surrounding dismal album sales.

When people say that the music business is in crisis over sales, it’s not joke either. Just how much does a hit song actually make from streaming services?  Fusion online has the answer…

Through the first three months of 2014, “Happy” was streamed 43 million times on Pandora, while “All Of Me” was played 55 million times on the service.

But how much money did all those streams make for the artists involved in creating the tracks?

According to an email from Sony/ATV head Martin Bandier obtained by Digital Music News’ Paul Resnikoff, “Happy” brought in just $2,700 in publisher and songwriter royalties in the first quarter of this year, while “All Of Me” yielded just $3,400.

At current rates, Bandier said, one million plays of a song on Pandora typically translates to only approximately $60 in royalties, which then gets shared between the songwriters and publishers.

“This is a totally unacceptable situation and one that cannot be allowed to continue,” he wrote.

When contrasted to the early 2000s (when most people It’s one thing for industry professionals to share their private fears and frustrations over the future of music sales.  But when icons like Taylor Swift speak up, the greater community is sure to listen as well.

Cheers to Taylor for her commitment and bravery.  This speech itself is yet another indicator for why she is indeed Artist of the Year.