Several very lucky LAMA students enjoyed a very wonderful experience recently, via a trip facilitated by LAMA Artist Development Director Dorian Holley. Students were invited to visit famed studio GrooveWorx (Santa Monica-based haven for some of the most notable talent in the music business including: Pink, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, Norah Jones and more). Students were able to attend a recording session with drummer Matt Laug (Alice Cooper, Slash’s Snakepit).
The students on the trip included Jonas Streffer (LAMA drum student), Paul Zewell (LAMA drum student), Jesper Windmar (LAMA music producer student).
Here are five questions we have for the music industry this year:
1. Will consumers take to Sonos?
A careful marketing campaign where promotional copies of the state of the art audio hardware were sent to key influencer’s means people are raving about Sonos. Sonos is music hardware that streams your digital music with HiFi sound and has no sound loss over wireless. It reminds us of the buzz surrounding Spotify when it first appeared in Europe. Bob Lefsetz talked about wirelessly connecting his system, then we heard Howard Stern’s producer Gary Dell’Abate eschewing it’s merits. With the economy back on the upswing and people buying homes again, upwardly mobile music fans now have the money to bring their homes into the musical 21st century. Will Sonos catch on or will an old stalwart like a Bose or Sony or Apple TV-like system beat them for the win?
2. Will the synchronicity of the internet and your car catch on?
Yes, we know that you can hook your smartphone up to your radio but we are talking about seamless integration here folks. Ford was on to something with Sync, but it’s reviews are mixed and overall user-friendliness is questionable. When you can drive your car and dial up your favorite Pandora stations or Spotify list, does that mean terrestrial radio is shaking in its boots? Probably not, but with distracted driving at an all time high, and laws coming into place, successful integration is desirable. We’ll see if it catches on more in 2013.
3. Will Apple step into the streaming game?
It is frequently mentioned in business that the first person to the game is not always the victor. Many have noticed the trends that digital paid downloads are on the downtrend while streaming is on the up and up. There is no doubt that Apple will step into the streaming game but could it be this year? Right now we’ve got Spotify and Google Play — has your life changed as much as ours by syncing a Spotify starred playlist to an iPad so you can listen to two gigs of music on an airplane? So will Apple take the Spotify format and enter the streaming world? Only time will tell…
4. Will YouTube reign supreme?
YouTube continues to be the number one destination for people to listen to music. Just over 5 years ago, what if we told you people would listen to music more on an online video site called YouTube than on radio, MTV and CDs combined? It’s incredible — now we have Psy and his one billion plus video views. When Spotify does not have a live version we switch to YouTube and vise versa. It certainly SEEMS like YouTube is not going anywhere for a while.
5. Are DJs the new rock star?
We have all seen the numbers. Will EDM continue to rule the live market? It’s Electronic HUGE for live music sales, especially in 2012. The bigger players in the concert industry like Live Nation have even taken notice. But some fans are questioning…check out this article, Is America killing EDM?
There you have it music fans! Do you want these questions answered as well? Or are there some we missed? Write your predictions in the comments.
We have to admit a few years back Pandora was our go to streaming music choice. Some of us have been evangelists ever since. We loved the fact that we found a lot of great new artists and songs based on the crazy algorithm that determines what you may or may not like. Then, probably while listening to Pandora, they made some major news. And all they had to do was make the musicians who use and the support the service, very unhappy. According to an article in The Register:
The leading backer of a bill passing through US Congress that will slash musicians’ pay by 85 per cent, as well as effectively outlawing them from bargaining collectively with their paymasters, has been selling stock worth $1m in his own internet company every month.
If that’s not yucky enough for you, Hypebot announced Pandora is suing ASCAP for lower licensing fees on behalf of ASCAP songwriters. Execs cash in while suing songwriters is not going to win you any PR awards. What do you think about what Pandora is doing of late?
Maybe we should go as far to say they are being murdered!
Iconic record producer Michael Beinhorn stopped by LA Music Academy recently to give a Master Class for students in the Music Producer Program (headed by Sean Halley).
Known for producing seminal records like Soundgarden’s “Superunknown” and Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”, as well as hits for artists like Aerosmith, Hole, Ozzy Osbourne, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Social Distortion, and many others, Michael spent a few hours with the students discussing producing music in the modern age. Up-and-coming music producers take note:
In order to create music that stands the test of time, you MUST be in touch with the part of yourself that has an emotional connection to things around you. So much of the music being made today is made in such a way that all real emotion is removed in the process. Consumers haven’t moved away from purchasing music because it’s readily available on the Internet – the reality is that people aren’t buying music because there is precious little new music that’s worth buying.
After a lengthy discussion that included listening examples, production stories, his production philosophies and a lengthy Q-and-A, he left them with this last thought: “if all that we’ve discussed is the reality of the current record industry, why in the world would you want to create music that sounds exactly like everything else? Humans are losing contact with one of our central means of communication – music – and I’m deadly serious. Now more than ever, it is of paramount importance that you go your own way.”
Visits from engineers and producers like Michael Beinhorn give real-world authenticity to the curriculum at LAMA, as well as giving students unique experiences that they can draw from for the rest of their careers.
According to Soundscan, “Overall U.S. music sales rose 6.9% in 2011, as album sales increased for the first time since 2004. Indies accounted for just 12.1% of U.S. music sales last year.” These stats are promising since many of you release music on your own, with independent partners, or on an Indie label etc. What it truly means is that even with all the talk of internet and Indie artists ruling the world the major label musicians are still moving the most product. But don’t be discouraged. What this study doesn’t account for is other revenue streams – Touring, Merchandise, Ringtones, DVDs, and anything else you can think of! Plus don’t forget The Arcade Fire (on Indie label Merge) took home “Artist Of The Year” at The Grammys! Some of the most exciting music is being created on the indie level — with smart promotions, pr, marketing and social media, you could leverage the tools available today into a long term career.
Will.I.Am makes us think of flashy outfits and catchy music (the kind you love or hate). Could car designer be next? According to a recent article in the Huffington Post Will.I.Am is starting a car company called “IAMAUTO”. The musician appeared on Jay Leno who is no stranger to cars himself to promote it. “Mr. I am” says that he wanted to start “IAMAUTO” to “bring jobs back to the ghetto that I came from”. Will.I.Am grew up in the infamous “Estrada Courts” housing project in Boyle Heights which is usually known for being predominantly Mexican.
Think this is a car story and not a music story? Think again! If you are a musician you MUST BE thinking of alternate revenue streams. The sale of recorded music is at an all time low so it is great to see a musician thinking WAY outside the box. We also noted that Will.I.Am naturally announced Beats By Dre technology would be providing the car audio. While we don’t know if this news has Detroit shaking in our boots we can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
Is it just us or has the music industry been in a transitional period for the last decade? It must have been Napster that started this tumultuous period. We went from $20 CDs at Tower Records to .99 cent songs over Itunes and free albums and even CATALOGS using illegal means. Ignore all the doomsayers and lets look positively towards the new year and some things we are excited about. As you recover from your break at LAMA over the holidays, it’s important to brush up with the latest happenings on the business side of things.
WILL STREAMING FULFILL IT’S PROMISES?
For the last few years industry insiders have been heaping praise on streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, and Google Music as being possible game changers. A way to have all the music available – while offering users premium features to pay for the music they listen to. Supporters pointed to Europe and how Spotify took the world by storm there. The cold hard reality is that labels are realizing there will never be a replacement for the CD when it comes to profit. Metal label Century Media Records famously pulled their artists catalogs from Spotify earlier this year citing that the pricing plans just don’t make sense. Perhaps 2012 will be the year that the artists and labels finally admit to themselves that the profits of the mid 90s are gone forever and keeping music from streaming services is only going to hurt them.
WHAT ROLE WILL YOUTUBE PLAY?
YouTube went from the website to watch cute kittens and silly children to the #1 destination for people to discover, listen, and watch music of all kinds. Radio and MTV don’t even come close to the amount of music being consumed on YouTube on a daily basis. A significant shift came with the VEVO alliance with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and EMI. Fans hate the ads but the labels and artists love the revenue. It will be interesting to see how YouTube moves into the new year, look for more Live “special” broadcasts such as they did with Coachella this year. Now that Google+ and Google Music are here look for the Google owned YouTube to get more and more compatible with these two services.
WHAT WILL THE CONCERT INDUSTRY BE LIKE?
The live entertainment landscape has been a paradox for a while. For some artists like U2 and Roger Waters it is the best of times while for other less lucky artists it is the worst of times. For the first half of 2011 Pollstar reported that earnings increased 11% but that probably doesn’t tell the whole tale. With the rise of Groupons, Goldstar, and the internet in general, there have been some embarrassing discounted ticket mishaps with tickets for some big name acts practically being given away. Legacy acts such as Bruce Springsteen and The Eagles learned that fans are getting fed up with their constant returns to their cities and aren’t as willing to pay those expensive service charges to hear the same show they saw last year. On the indie level smaller clubs are having a hard time bringing people in to hear unheard bands when they have to compete with the internet, Playstation, TV, and every other cheaper form of entertainment.
SOCIAL NETWORKING ROLE?
Facebook already aligned with Spotify – but do you really want to see a feed of every song your friend is listening to? We are guilty of finding quite a few new bands just by seeing what YouTube videos our friends post on their wall. There has long been talk about a dedicated music social media service – but it seems that it is more likely the social media music impact will come from one of the pre-existing services. We are very excited to watch Google+ grow and how music will fit into it – especially with their new Google Music service which has some big names attached to it.
WILL THE INTERNET BREAK A BAND?
Were not talking about your Rebecca Black — so bad its good type novelty act or an Animal Collective ultra cool hipster act — nor are we referring to those with 5 minutes of fame. We are talking about the internet version of The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. A band that has immense pop appeal but also artistic merit. One might try to say Lady Gaga broke on the net – however we would argue she is a hybrid between old wave (MTV, Radio) and new wave (social media, on-line video). We wonder if 2012 will be the year a band breaks completely independently through the internet.
There you have it musicians! The different things music-wise we are looking towards in 2012. Did we leave anything out? Do we have it wrong? Let us know! Have a great break and an even better 2012.