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Music Businesses The Almighty Buck

Get Ready For a Streaming Music Die-Off 370

Posted by Soulskill
from the tiny-pieces-of-a-tiny-pie dept.
walterbyrd writes "Streaming services are ailing. Pandora, the giant of its class and the survivor at 13 years old, is waging an ugly war to pay artists and labels less in order to stay afloat. Spotify, in spite of 6 million paid users and 18 million subscribers who humor some ads in their stream, has yet to turn a profit. Rhapsody axed 15% of its workforce right as Apple's iTunes Radio hit the scene. On-demand competitor Rdio just opted for layoffs too, in order to move into a 'scalable business model.' Did no one wonder about that business-model bit in the beginning? Meanwhile, Turntable.fm, a comparatively tiny competitor with what should have been viral DNA, just pulled the plug on its virtual jam sessions this week—and it just might be the canary in the coal mine."
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Get Ready For a Streaming Music Die-Off

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  • The article is FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sinij (911942) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:03PM (#45619085) Journal
    The article is FUD. Why? Because there is still demand for this service.

    Sure, current generation of services might die off, but as long as there is demand there will be a way to make money off it. Just look at the radio - they found a way to keep music "streaming" and pay the bills for the past 100 years or so. It is just a matter of finding correct monetization strategy.
  • Too many? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jythie (914043) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:05PM (#45619111)
    I wonder how much of this is just adjustment of the market to over-saturation.

    That is not to say the RIAA is not shooting itself in the foot by pushing for higher royalties then the consumer will bare, but I do wonder if the explosion in sites has lead to more then there is room for.
  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:05PM (#45619113) Journal

    This is just the beginning of the end for the corporate music industry. This has been going since the Napster days, and is just jumping from format to format. There is no profit left in corporate music (Labels). The number of good music acts is increasing as the wealth that was centralized by Labels becomes decentralized. Will there still be megabands and huge starts? Of course. However, the number of quality musical artists, who are able to reach a much wider audience, will spread out the available dollars to a broader selection of talent.

    The real money will be made playing music live for fans to enjoy. Here's to hoping for the death of the "boy bands" and talentless whores who take off their clothes and call it a musical act.

  • by Whorhay (1319089) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:06PM (#45619117)

    Or maybe just not listening to music every waking moment possible. I like music but I frequently would just as soon not have any playing while I'm focusing on something else.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:07PM (#45619133) Homepage Journal

    The next generation may be the one that grows up without very expensively produced music.

    FTFY.

    Humans will have music for as long as we can find something to bang on rhythmically. But, in the future, most production will probably happen in small and home studios, as opposed to the monolithic labels owned by RIAA members.

  • Oh snap! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:11PM (#45619183)

    Back to downloading music for free and setting up playlists then!

  • by fatgraham (307614) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:13PM (#45619203) Homepage

    Conversely, I find it hard to work in silence. Music, radio, (with inane chatter) or even a TV in the background helps me so much more.
    I find silence distracting as I instead here little irregular noises here & there (doors slamming in the building, people shouting in the street etc)

  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:14PM (#45619217)

    Making high-quality music used to require investment. Expensive instruments at a minimum - but if you didn't want to sound like Kenny, you'd also need high quality microphones, sound damped recording studio, mixing desk, specialist technician to operate it and several high-end recorders capable of syncronised operation.

    That's all changed now. One person working on consumer, affordable equipment can - on a purely technical level - match that quality with comparative ease. It's down to the level where people can and do make music as a hobby, without any expectation of payment.

  • by shuz (706678) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:16PM (#45619249) Homepage Journal

    Or all these services could embrace the google business model which is to supplement services paid or unpaid with heavy data mining and profiling of people. The real prize is being able to target an individual with information that has a high likely hood to cause that individual to spend more money. It really doesn't matter who or what they spend the money on. If the individual spends more as a result, then the original company that data mined and profiled the individual can monetize the entire process in their favor.

    1. Give individual service for reduced cost
    2. Profile individual
    3. Sell or use profile
    4. Profit

    The only other option is to offer a service at the true non-competitive cost, which the majority of people are not willing to pay.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:19PM (#45619285)

    Its doing quite nicely thank you - admittedly thanks to googles large bank balance - and its what pretty much everyone I know uses to listen to music on now. If you want to download music of course thats a different matter , but to just listen to ad-hoc music in the background while doing something else YouTube is as good as any.

  • Re:Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X0563511 (793323) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:21PM (#45619301) Homepage Journal

    The number of good music acts is increasing as the wealth that was centralized by Labels becomes decentralized.

    Huh? No, technology has advanced such that good musicians/songwriters/performers can become good acts without a middleman. That's all. The Labels are not becoming decentralized, they are becoming deprecated.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:26PM (#45619363) Homepage Journal

    Making high-quality music used to require investment. Expensive instruments at a minimum - but if you didn't want to sound like Kenny, you'd also need high quality microphones, sound damped recording studio, mixing desk, specialist technician to operate it and several high-end recorders capable of syncronised operation.

    Actually, that's largely been a myth since the advent of consumer grade, multi-track tape recorders.

    For instance, the Sublime album Robbin' The Hood was recorded exclusively on a 4-track tape machine, and it sounds awesome. The problem, however, comes in with mastering the tracks. Not sure how they managed it back in the early 1990's (I'm guessing they went to one of those expensive studios), but the solution today is as simple as downloading a free copy of REAPER [reaper.fm] and learning how to use it. If you don't mind spending a fair amount of cash, there's a plethora of other DAW options out there; I'm a fan of Logic myself.

    Hell, I bet dedicated audiophiles could probably come up with studio quality stuff using nothing more complex than Audacity. [sourceforge.net]

  • by Xicor (2738029) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:30PM (#45619399)
    or just get the music and put it on your own streaming server that you run for free...
  • by ausekilis (1513635) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:30PM (#45619401)

    You're forgetting why bands sign to labels to begin with: Advertising.

    The record labels are the ones that can (and do) do the legwork to set up and promote concerts, to help design and create the T-shirts, to get the bands name out there for the masses. When the labels die out, there will be a mess of indie and smaller players, and the signal to noise ratio will get worse and worse. Something similar is happening with the games industry right now, there's only a meager handful of AAA games released each year, and lots of indie games.

    Of course, this could also be a great thing. I'd much rather get to the steam-sale level of purchases for albums. Dropping $3-5 on a band? why not, check them out. Spending $20 on someone you've never heard of? not likely

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:34PM (#45619441) Homepage

    FM radio stations all get to play music for free and in some cases they get paid to play it. Yet on the internet BMI and ASCAP turn into vampires sucking dry anything that is different.

    The blame is The labels, BMI, and ASCAP. Those are the ones that deserve all your anger, ire, and hatered.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:35PM (#45619451) Homepage Journal

    Could you please point to a generation that had no music? Cavemen had music, as far as I can determine. Which generation since has done without music?

    The problem here is, that people expect to MAKE MONEY off of music.

    I don't pay money for music, yet I have music. If the web just dried up, if television and radio stopped broadcasting music, I would still have music. Two of my three sons have learned to play guitars. I used to play the trumpet, I could relearn all that I've forgotten.

    Grow up without music? Come on, just try to get in touch with reality.

    Big deal, the big corporate honchos may find that they can no longer make mega-bucks from music. It's not like they actually CONTRIBUTE any thing to music. They are frigging parasites. Let them die off. Just starve them. The world won't miss them.

    We will still have no-name kids playing music because they love music. And, if they are actually any good at it, people will reward them for playing. People will still be entertained.

    Grow up without music. Preposterous.

  • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:41PM (#45619505)
    it's FUD because Pandora isn't fighting to pay artists 'less' it's fighting to be treated the same as radio...which, in the 21st century...is exactly what streaming services are.

    The RIAA has set pricing on streaming licenses ridiculously high - hence why no streaming service can reliably make a profit.

    The organization trying (and succeeding) at ripping off artists isn't the one actually playing the music...
  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:46PM (#45619545) Homepage Journal

    You're forgetting why bands sign to labels to begin with: Advertising.

    The record labels are the ones that can (and do) do the legwork to set up and promote concerts,

    Which is now done by the band themselves on social media.

    to help design and create the T-shirts,

    Social media + boutique, online print shops (CustomInk, VistaPrint, CafePress, etc.).

    I found one site that does custom graphics for kick drums, too.

    to get the bands name out there for the masses.

    Did I say social media already?

    Social media.

    When the labels die out, there will be a mess of indie and smaller players, and the signal to noise ratio will get worse and worse.

    Only if you operate under the assumption that "major label bands" > "indie bands."

    Which is a false assumption to make. For example, look at some of the top acts from the late 1980's and early 1990's - Nirvana's first album, Bleach, was produced by a nobody studio known as SubPop Records; Sublime founded their own label, Skunk Records. These are but two examples of many great, at least moderately successful bands who broke into the industry without first selling out to the major labels.

    Personally, I see it the other way: the big labels do nothing but pump out pile of crap after pile of crap, generic poppy garbage that all sounds the same, from talentless hacks who, if there was no such thing as AutoTune, would still be asking SAG card holders if they want fries with that. The Indie scene is were we get modern wonders like Jonathan Coulton, DeadMau5, LudaCris, et. al.

    Seriously, the Thing A Week album series? You'd never see anything that progressive coming from an RIAA member.

  • Re:Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sique (173459) on Friday December 06, 2013 @01:00PM (#45619693) Homepage
    Boy bands have existed for ages, and while no one expects each of them to last long, they make big business while they are existent. They were never expected to produce music with an everlasting impression, they are expected to land one or two big songs, sell a huge amount of copies and then cease to exist.

    Lets just put "There is no quality music anymore" to the same group of sentences which have accompagned humanity since the first conversation about 1.7 mio years ago, like "They don't make things to last, like they used to" and "Those children of today! When I was young, we never...".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2013 @01:03PM (#45619719)

    Let user post stolen content, pay nothing for it. Shift burden to owners to ask you to take things down.

  • by Fishchip (1203964) on Friday December 06, 2013 @01:12PM (#45619785)
    'Converse' is a different word than 'conversely'. They mean different things. Since you're advocating learning words, I'd advise you to learn what 'condescending' and 'douchebag' mean but you probably already know those ones, they're easy.
  • by Kaitiff (167826) on Friday December 06, 2013 @01:17PM (#45619829) Homepage

    why streaming services can't make money... the established music CARTELS that have a stranglehold on everything having to do with entertainment media. If the 'middle man' between the artists and the people providing their music to the masses (the streaming services) were to evaporate like they should we could all have music and artists that produce music could make a lot more money for their work, not to mention the streaming services would actually net a profit at the same time. As long as the blood-sucking cartels are allowed to reap the lions share of the profits no-one else is going to be able to. RIAA and the MPAA are nothing more than modern day leg breakers that have been granted pseudo-legality to propagate their monopoly. Without the established dinosaur industry giants in media we would have better music and better movies et al, and have them at a much more reasonable price.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Friday December 06, 2013 @01:34PM (#45620017)

    The article is FUD. Why? Because there is still demand for this service.

    The fact that there is a demand for something doesn't mean that demand can be met economically. There is arguably a demand for moon rocks but that doesn't mean that a business can be developed within the current economic constraints that can harvest and deliver moon rocks and make a profit doing so. Maybe someday in the future but right now it isn't feasible. An extreme example maybe but it's not hard to find more terrestrial examples of the same thing. There are lots of things out there for which there is some demand but the technology, economics or regulations in practice make it impossible to form a profitable business.

    Maybe streaming services will work as a business or maybe they won't. The fact that there is a demand out there is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a business to be developed that can profitably supply streaming services. The content has to be legally obtainable at a price point lower than the amount customers are willing and able to pay. So far that combination has proven to be difficult for a variety of reasons.

  • Just think... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Friday December 06, 2013 @01:37PM (#45620053) Homepage

    The big problem used to be the media companies paying the radio stations to play their artists music...

  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Friday December 06, 2013 @01:46PM (#45620145)

    That model would work so much better for music services too. In the services I use, I straight up tell them exactly what I like and don't like. They don't even have to guess. There are little "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" buttons that I press that do all of that work for them. They could easily make a deal to send out a notice to everyone who expressed a like for a particular band that a new album has been released, with a deal for their users if they buy today or something like that. They could even do a query expansion type of search for that. If band A releases an album, and I like bands B, C, and D, and most people who like band A also like bands B, C, and D, then they send me a notice of the new album (unless I specifically indicated that I don't like band A).

    All of the data mining is already done by the users. Streaming services are the way I find new music now, generally not the radio. If the record companies figured that out and started treating the streaming services like radio on steroids (direct connection to the listeners - how novel!) then they might actually discover the future of their industry.

  • by FilmedInNoir (1392323) on Friday December 06, 2013 @01:48PM (#45620169)
    When someone comments something inflammatory or stupid I check their logs. http://slashdot.org/~glrotate [slashdot.org] He's a career troll.
    Where as I just have the occasional bad day or I'm emo for some reason.
  • by jafac (1449) on Friday December 06, 2013 @02:03PM (#45620317) Homepage

    As an amateur singer, I think that MOST people who believe that they "can't sing" - - can very likely develop their voice far beyond what they imagine, with some hard work, dedication, and practice, (and some professional instruction). Many, many common vocal flaws can be overcome with proper training, and practice.

    Will that overcome a deficit of "talent"; maybe not. But I think that probably about 80% of people out there who believe they "can't sing" - have a lot more hidden potential than they know.

    In the case of autotune - in my opinion, it's a useful tool to give a voice a certain "sound" but it is in no way a worthwhile substitute for a properly trained voice, or good vocal talent. It can easily be a substitute for "making money" in pop music production. But frankly, who gives a shit about that? Unwashed masses be unwashed masses, and the scammers out there in ANY industry are going to find ways to take advantage of that, and bet money off of them.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Friday December 06, 2013 @02:07PM (#45620349) Journal

    Just look at radio

    I am looking at radio -- with an accusing eye, that is.

    I was 'raised on radio' -- been listening to it all my life, and I appreciate broadcast radio, and think it's sad that it's heyday seems to be over -- but I also like streaming internet radio, and broadcast radio is the reason I see that internet radio is having so many problems. Several years ago the broadcast radio industry threw a hissy-fit over internet radio and royalty fees, which almost immediately drove many internet radio stations out of business, and made the ones that remained in operation have to resort to selling ads. In short broadcast radio forced internet radio to use the same exact business model that they do, regardless of whether or not it applies to internet radio -- which it does not. Of course they knew this, and wanted to see internet radio go away entirely. Well, they may be getting close to their "goal". Of course the irony here is that what's really ripped the guts out of the broadcast radio industry is personal music players, but can they compete with that? No, they can't, so they lash out at whoever they can, desperately grasping at straws, in this case, internet radio.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2013 @02:57PM (#45620791)

    A FM radio station only plays one song at a time.

    A streaming service streams thousands of song simultaneously.

    Streaming services should absolutely have pay more than FM radio.

    It's still one song per listener, so I don't buy that argument.

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