Watch out Spotify, Amazon Prime Music is hot on your tail for popularity

Who is the big dog in music streaming right now? You’d all say Spotify right? Well look out because Amazon Prime Music is coming up on them quickly.

New research from Midia Research, and noticed by Music Ally, shows that in Germany there may be a new chapter approaching for the streaming wars. The report, which focused on lyrics but found much more, shows that Amazon are incredibly close behind Spotify, and ahead of the rest.

The research shows that Amazon Prime Music had an 18% penetration rate in Germany, just a percentage behind Spotify with 19%. Apple Music, often considered the primary rival to Spotify monopolising on streaming, are much further behind with just 7% penetration.

Elsewhere Spotify are still the big fish by a larger margin and Apple Music are ahead of Amazon. For example in the US Apple Music has 14% penetration to Amazon’s 12% and in the UK Apple have 9% and Amazon have 8%. For an idea of how big Spotify are their influence is 20% in the US and 23% in the UK.

Considering Spotify’s considerable lead everywhere else it’s interesting to note that Amazon Prime is so close in Germany. Unfortunately as this finding was only part of the larger report Midia Research didn’t look into why Prime Music was having such an impact in Germany or any cultural impact. Though the report does go on to say that “Germany is going to be one of Europe’s most important streaming markets in 2018, with a market dominated by CD sales swiftly transitioning to streaming”.

Taking a larger look at the streaming picture for the US, UK, and Germany they found that 15% of listeners pay for subscriptions whilst 43% are listening on ad-supported free streaming.

On the topic of the importance lyrics, Midia Research concluded:

“Streaming has broken music listening out of the constraints of static, linear environments and, in doing so, has massively increased the importance of previously ancillary behaviours such as video, social sharing and lyrics. In the analogue era, lyrics were hidden away inside album covers with liner notes for super fans and anxious teenagers.

Most streaming services have ticked the lyrics box; over the coming years they will need to innovate to ensure their feature sets place the same level of importance on lyrics that their users do.”

YouTube changes make it way harder to make money from videos as small creator on Partner Program

After a simultaneously difficult and monumental year for YouTube they are ready to look at the year ahead with changes to their YouTube Partner Program.

Last year was a massive year for creators on YouTube as more-and-more found careers making videos there. But advertisers concerns over certain content from the biggest players led to a lot of changes throughout the platform in regards to monetisation. After a year of lessons YouTube have made their decisions.

The main changes to the partner program is the requirements to join will be increased. Last April YouTube set the requirements at 10,000 lifetime views on your channel before you could become a partner and monetise your videos. The criteria has changed from views to time watched and subscriber count.

To join the YouTube Partner Program now you will require:

  • 4,000 hours of watch time on your videos
  • 1,000 subscribers

The threshold for joining is to ensure that the channels accepted into their partner program follow YouTube’s guidelines and policies which have gotten a lot stricter in the past year. YouTube say they have arrived at these new requirements “after thorough analysis and conversations with creators”.

Next month the change will take place retroactively for existing channels as they’re allowing 30 days of transition. From February 20th any channels with less than 1,000 subs or 4,000 watch hours won’t be allowed to earn money.

Whilst this move will obviously upset a lot of creators this will unfortunately apply for all of YouTube, including those partnered through RouteNote. YouTube justify their decision, saying: “99% of those affected were making less than $100 per year in the last year, with 90% earning less than $2.50 in the last month.”

YouTube’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan, and Chief Business Officer, Robert Kyncl, said: “Even though 2017 was a challenging year, thanks to creators like you, it was full of the moments that make YouTube such a special place. Creators large and small, established and emerging, transformed their talent and originality into videos that captivated over a billion people around the world.”

If you have any questions about your position with RouteNote Studios following these changes please get in contact at youtube@routenote.com.

Warner offer to buyout employees as music streaming becomes priority

Warner Music Group have placed their bets on music streaming being the next big thing, but that may see some employees left jobless.

Warner are offering to buyout employees who still work with physical music. Warner Music Group have reportedly offered payments to around 130 employees that still work with physical music.

Nielsen Music that Warner Music saw a steep decline of 19.6 percent in their CD sales for 2017. According to a report by Billboard Warner have sent ‘buyout letters’ to roughly 130 employees that deal with physical music from WEA – the global distribution, marketing, sales, and research branch.

It’s part of the major label’s larger plans in targeted reduction of their costs. Their total reduction hopes weren’t specified but they are expected to redirect the savings into their music streaming business which is booming (in case you didn’t know).

In a followup letter from WEA president Tony Harlow, he said: “WEA has always been at the forefront of evolution in the industry, and the current shift towards digital and streaming is no exception. As our business continues to evolve, and in order to maximise our artists’ impact globally, we are realigning resources within WEA.”

Fortunately it is a voluntary buyout so you can choose to stay if you wish, Warner are clearly just seeing that the future might not be bright for non-digital markets. Harlow continued that it was to give “valued colleagues in those areas of WEA the opportunity to make choices of their own.”

Fender reveal 11 new Original Series guitars at NAMM

Fender have a new line of remakes for their classics which will replace their line of American Vintage guitars with the new American Original Series.

Another year, another NAMM and this year Fender are continuing their mission to put a Fender in every home. Fender are renowned for their classics and they know this, bringing out another range of their famous guitars in a modern build.

The new American Original Series will see 11 new models based on the cream of their crop from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. They promise to marry the “classic Fender vibe”with “distinct modern features”. The guitars will feature the components that made them shine back in their heyday combined with updated fingerboards and switches for the most comfortable, yet authentic experience.

The American Original Series will feature Stratocasters from the ’50s and ’60s, Telecasters from the ’50s and ’60s, a ’60s Jazzmaster, ’60s Jaguar. The Strats and the ’50s Tele will also come in left-handed options. For basses there’s ’50s and ’60s Precision Basses and ’60s and ’70s Jazz Basses.

They will come in 13 finishes: Aztec Gold, White Blonde, 2-Colour Sunburst, Olympic White, Candy Apple Red, 3-Color Sunburst, Butterscotch Blonde, Fiesta Red, Lake Placid Blue, Surf Green, Ocean Turquoise, Natural and Black.

Each guitar comes with a little tagline of why it’s being re-released (not that we don’t know by now). For example, the ’50s Stratocaster press release comes with:

When Fender released the Stratocaster in 1954, we didn’t set out to create a classic – but we did. The Stratocaster’s sleek style, articulate sound and plethora of innovations redefined electric guitar and opened up a brave new world of musical possibilities.

The American Original Series is out now for your purveying or purchasing pleasure. Each guitar/bass will cost you between £1,609 and £1,879. Find out more: shop.fender.com/en-GB/american-original

7digital sign contracts with popular music store 8tracks and others

7digital have signed new contracts with MediaMarktSaturn and 8tracks with new opportunities on the horizon.

7digital have confirmed new contracts with two big new businesses. 7digital, provider of music to stores and services around the world, is expanding their agreement with MediaMarktSaturn whilst entering new territory with their 8tracks partnership.

With MediaMarktSaturn 7digital are extending their existing agreement which currently includes the transfer of their German music service Juke to the 7digital platform. MediaMarktSaturn are also 7digital’s largest shareholder and their new contract contains a “significant setup fee for work done in 2017 and ongoing monthly recurring revenues”.

The company’s new contract with 8tracks will see them provide their music and services to the popular digital music service. 8tracks platform is based around music discovery with playlists curated by groups of people. The deal will last for at last one year and 7digital hope that it will “contribute to 7digital’s revenues for 2018 and beyond.”.

7digital CEO Simon Cole said: “The further development of our relationship with MediaMarktSaturn strengthens an already fruitful relationship with a key player in Europe’s electronics and entertainment retail market, and further underpins our 2018 revenues.”

7digital also revealed a bunch of client services they are working towards launching:

Progress continues to be made with regards to publicly launching other client services. Technology leader Altair Engineering, Inc. launched its service WEYV in the U.S. on 5th December. WEYV is a platform for streaming audio and visual content, for which 7digital provides access to music and technology services.

French company Deedo SAS launched its pan-African music service in France, Senegal, Mali and Ivory Coast. Launches in a further 23 territories are planned by 2020, including 16 in Africa, 5 in Europe, the USA and Canada. 7digital provides technology, access to music and web app development for the Deedo service.

German broadcaster Klassik Radio has also launched its radio streaming service ‘Klassik Radio Select’, focusing on classical and associated genres. 7digital provides Klassik Radio with access to music under a deal announced in Q1 2016. Klassik Radio has significant support from the industry and has to date announced several long-term license agreements with music labels Universal, Sony and Naxos.

Are Smart Speakers popular? Ask 39 million Americans

Since Amazon launched their Echo home speakers Smart Speakers have been taking over the world, and now there’s statistics to prove it.

New research from NPR and Edison Research shows that 1 in 6 adults in the US, which equates to roughly 39 million people, now own a Smart Speaker. Smart Speakers have actually grown so quickly that their growth is “outpacing the adoption rates of smartphones and tablets”.

The so-called ‘Smart Audio Report’ showed that 16% of American’s own a voice-activated speaker and the majority of them own Amazon Echos. The report found 11% of adult Americans own Amazon Alexa powered speakers whilst 4% own Google Homes. Interestingly 65% of those with Smart Speakers said they wouldn’t go back to life before, which perhaps isn’t as high as you’d expect though their reasons weren’t given.

Of course the holiday season was a big time for all products but the 2017 holiday period was especially popular for Smart Speakers. The Smart Audio Report showed that 7% of Americans got a Smart Speaker in the holidays and 4% of Americans got their very first one.

One of the biggest effects happening with Smart Speakers is the sudden adoption of virtual assistants helping us in our everyday life, like some pseudo-sci-fi tale. It’s making people more open to the technology as well, as 64% of those surveyed with Smart Speakers say that they’re interested in having the technology in their car.

As Smart Speakers become more and more popular the demand for other Smart tech increases and the effect is being seen in the incredible number of connected devices coming out all the time now. A lot of people are already now living in homes where they can tell a robot to switch their lights on and off, arrange their schedule, play music, find things out online, and so much more.

Welcome to the future, it’s only just beginning.

will.i.am’s company just bought and earbud company because it’s still not dead

will.i.am won’t give up on his dream of being relevant in the world of technology and his company i.am+ are looking to Bluetooth earphones to make it for them.

Makers of Bluetooth earbuds, Earin just got purchased by will.i.am’s tech company that he for some reason owns. i.am+ (yes, incredible name, we know) probably used some of their $117 million+ in funding to purchase the Swedish ear-focused audio company.

Earin have won awards for their earbuds which are designed with subtly, quality and style. They have been acclaimed for the scope of quality within such a small product. will.i.am’s company on the other hand have created some failed tech wearables and are currently developing a voice-powered AI because there isn’t already a bunch of them made by massive tech companies.

The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed but Earin’s established brand and quality product could be one of the first positive things to come from i.am+, because they didn’t develop it themselves. That’s not to say Earin’s earphones are infallible, they have been criticised for weak connections, battery life and a limited set of features – all things I’m sure i.am+ can degrade that further.

Jokes aside Earin’s second product, the M2, saw it’s first showcase since last years CES which seem to improve upon all the issues of their first earbuds. With the amount of time it’s been in development you’d expect that it might be a fairly better product. Hopefully they can maintain legitimacy with will.i.am now running the show.

Transform how you play with one MIDI Ring to rule them all

Put on this ring and your playing is transformed with new dimensions of control and it has Stevie Wonder’s seal of approval.

Enhancia is a ring that changes your playing with each movement. Use gesture controls to modulate, filter and effect your sound in numerous ways which feel as natural as playing normally.

Connect the ring up with your MIDI instrument, for example a keyboard and vary your playing with each movement of your hand. You set and control the exact parameters you want so that each movement provides the effect you want how you want it. Using an accelerometer the ring can provide vibrate from shaking your hand, change filter frequencies as you raise and lower your hand and much more.

The Enhancia Ring is another pathway to expressive playing which is becoming more and more important in musical developments in recent years. You can see similarities in products like Seaboard which transforms keyboards into one long playable surface with keys moulded into it so that you can slide, wobble, and play the instrument beyond just its notes. The Enhancia Ring lets you do this with a standard keyboard however its movement is less natural as you control the cadence from your finger.

The ring connects through a hub which can be connected through a computer or directly through a keyboard. The wireless connection is optimised for super low latency so that every movement takes its effect instantaneously.

The ring is still in development by French company Oria which hopes to launch the Enhancia ring via a Kickstarter campaign in March 2018. The ring was unveiled in all it’s glory at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week and will be exhibited further at the National Association of Music Merchants Show (NAMM) later this month.

The Enhancia Ring got a test run by Stevie Wonder who gave his approval, saying: “I like it… I love it.”

Top 10 Free VST Plugins

Steinberg – Model E

The Model E is a useful 3 oscillator bass station capable of pumping out some nice lines.

Download Model E For Free

TAL – Elek7ro

The Tal Elek7ro synth-plug is good for pretty much everything. Including making some nice full basses for your tracks.

Download Elek7ro For Free

Valhalla — Freq Echo

The Freq Echo is a frequency shifter with analog echo emulation. It adds chorus, phasing and flanger effects.

Download Freq Echo For free.

Tritik — Krush Bit Crusher

Krush is a very elegant bit crusher. It creates that crunchy digital bit reduction effect.

Download Krush For Free.

Mx Project — T.Rex 606

The T.REX 606 is a compact rompler modelled after the iconic Roland TR-606 drum machine.

Download the T.REX For Free.

Wavosaur — DjinnDrum

The Djinndrum has you set for all that classic sound that the iconic Linn LM-1 drum machine packs in.

Download the Djinndrum For Free.

Dexed – FM Plugin Synth

Dexed is a frequency modulation synth, the perfect FM VST plugin. It’s closely modelled after the iconic Yamaha DX7.

Download Dexed For Free.

Audjoo — Helix

The download of Helix is a ‘trial’ but it’s fully functional. It gives you ‘soaring leads, solid basses and glimmering pads.’

Download Helix For Free.

U-He —Triple Cheese Synth

U-he makes cheesy infinitely fun with this ridiculous comb-filter synth.

Download Triple Cheese For Free.

Tytel — Helm Synth

Helm is a synth VST. But you can run it anywhere, change the source code and generally modify the crap out of it.

Download Helm For Free.