Joox are flexing their K-Pop catalogue on their main rival Spotify

Asian streaming service Joox is in competition for listeners with Spotify, so they’re bragging about their library of Korean music.

Joox is the Tencent-owned music streaming service in Asia and has “arguably the strongest and most comprehensive K-Pop library across all music streaming platforms“. Of course, K-Pop is huge around the world these days and available on all music platforms but some catalogues are clearly better than others.

That’s certainly what Joox are saying, making use of Spotify‘s recent loss of a significant chunk of their K-Pop music. As Spotify were celebrating their triumphant launch into South Korea, introducing their platform to the world’s sixth largest music market, they sadly lost the license for one of the country’s biggest distributors, Kakao M.

The lack of a new licensing deal meant that Spotify lost all of the music that comes under Kakao M’s management. The matter goes deeper as the distributor is tied up with MelOn, South Korea’s very own streaming service and Spotify’s biggest competitor for the market.

Speaking on the discussion, a spokesperson for Spotify said that they hoped the disruption to content would only be temporary, saying it’s “unfortunate for their artists, as well as for fans and listeners worldwide”. However Kakao M said that it was due to “Spotify’s policy that they must process with the domestic and global contracts at the same time”.

Joox weighing in on Spotify’s loss, have launched a lowkey flex of a statement simply reminding everyone of their huge K-Pop library and being sure to mention that it includes the artists no longer on Spotify. As Spotify launches further into Asian markets will they only face more challenges with local competitors? It may be a case of teething trouble, or we may see services like MelOn and Joox fight back.

Rolling Stone bring live music from artists to Twitch

Image Credit: Rolling Stone

The latest to join the Twitch boom is one of the most recognised music publications in the world. Rolling Stone are now live streaming on Amazon’s video platform.

Rolling Stone are the latest to join the live-streaming platform Twitch. Their new channel will be streaming five days a week and cover music news, regular guests from all walks of live, and weekly performances and exclusive live content.

Their goal for the new channel is to provide a deeper connection between their readership and the world of people they talk about in their coverage. With features from musicians, comedians, actors, political figures, and journalists promised for the show, there should be plenty of enjoyable names passing through their live streams.

Rolling Stone on Twitch‘ will broadcast five days a week from Monday to Friday featuring a two-hour live show on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays featuring an assortment of guests like those mentioned above. Then Tuesdays and Thursdays will feature live music performances from artists of all sorts. Marcus King and Ted Park are lined up to perform on the first week.

Twitch has exploded in popularity in the last year, with a huge 24 million hours watched on the platform in January this year alone. People have jumped on new ways to connect like through livestreaming more than ever considering the circumstances of the last year, and Rolling Stone are just the latest of many to take to the platform.

Though the music world have adopted the platform for news shows, live sessions, and even just to chat outside of music like in the case of rapper Logic; their relationship with music has been fraught with difficulties. Last week Metallica’s own livestream saw their music replaced with Zelda-like music in a DMCA takedown. The problem is that Twitch doesn’t have a Content ID system like Facebook and YouTube, and so can’t detect music and distribute royalties to the correct places. So it’s a case of take it down and ask questions later, for their legal security.

As more music bodies take to the Amazon-owned platform, hopefully they will arrange a better system for music. Whilst it was funny with Metallica at first, it won’t be so funny if Rolling Stone’s regular guest features are silenced during broadcast.

Rolling Stone on Twitch broadcast for the first time on the 1st of March and you can watch their shows now.

Kings Of Leon Offer New Album As An NFT In Music Industry First

Image credit: Kings of Leon

The “non-fungible token’s” are a form of cryptocurrency and will unlock perks including limited-edition vinyl and front row seats to future concerts.

The American rock band will be the first-ever band to release an album as an NFT (non-fungible token), when their latest record ‘When You See Yourself’ drops this Friday (5th March). 

Listeners will be able to buy the album on blockchain, a cryptocurrency wallet, exchange, and explorer. The album will also be available in physical form and on streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. 

The tokens will unlock special perks such as limited-edition vinyl and front-row seats for future concerts. 

NFTs are a form of cryptocurrency that can hold assets such as art, concert tickets, and music instead of money. As with most cryptocurrencies, they are expected to increase in value over time but can also be instantly valuable too. In fact, this week artist Grimes sold $6m (£4.3m) worth of art as NFTs.

As cryptocurrencies gain traction and become more of a mainstream asset, we’ll likely see more artists using NFTs to sell their music and art. 

Watch Kings of Leon play new song ‘The Bandit’ live on Jools Holland here:

How can musicians and producers tell when their track is finished?

Image Credit: Soundtrap

Struggling to step away and finish your mix when producing and songwriting? Spot the signs that your track is done.

Deciding when a song is finished is one of the hardest parts of producing and songwriting. The temptation is strong to keep sitting at the DAW, mixing away, tweaking and making tiny changes, trying to make the track perfect.

Often the ideas and loops come easy, but it’s completing a track that’s the hard part. So how do you know when the track is done? What helps you get there, short of getting someone to gently take your hands and prise them from the keyboard?

Here are a few signs to look out for, as well as some strategies to help musicians and producers finish a song and walk away victoriously.

Critical listening

Listen to the song multiple times with your DAW hidden, a pen and paper to hand. Jot down anything that you don’t like in the track and anything that you think is missing. Is it interesting enough? If you don’t know what else you can do with it, congratulations, your production is done.

Get someone you trust to listen to your track too. Someone impartial – not your best mate, unless they can listen with a critical ear and point out where the vocal needs to come up in the mix. Sometimes you need someone else to say: “Yes, it’s finished!”

Pressure is good

Set yourself goals. Decide how many tracks you want to produce in a month and try and stick to it. Try working towards a release date, knowing that if you miss it you’ll let down the fans waiting to hear your music. You might find you flourish best under a deadline, and you’ll be forced to draw a line under the track and step away without dragging the process out.

Sometimes you’ve just got to let go

Most music producers believe that a song will never really be finished. There’s infinite options for every track; always a new plugin to try out. If you’ve spent days tinkering away at the track and it doesn’t sound that different, you’re probably procrastinating without much effect. It’s time to be brave and step away from the mix.

Struggling to make a full song?

If you’re used to just making loops, you might not be used to arranging those elements into a structure to make them a full, complete song. Try stopping at three core loop ideas and then turning your attention to arranging them in a linear fashion.

Thinking of the track as a journey with signposts along the way might help you to have the confidence to declare the song finished. You’re following a map, made up of breaks and drops if you’re producing, verse and choruses if you’re songwriting.

Image Credit: Matt Duncan

Finishing a song is a feeling

When a song is ready, some musicians can intrinsically tell. Some producers would say a song is a piece of art that will keep growing and evolving with time and depending who is listening to it.

Lay down fewer but better tracks

Try focusing on making fewer parts and making them as good as you can, rather than endlessly adding instruments and samples to your mix. A full song doesn’t necessarily need a lot of tracks to sound great.

Listen with fresh ears

Ear fatigue is a thing. Put the song away for a couple of days. When you come back and listen again, the bits you were unsure about might have been minor irritations that now sound fine in the overall production. If you still love it, then chances are your track is ready.

Believe in your work

Self-belief is a huge part of being a musician. Try and think of a finished song as an opportunity. If you don’t finish the song, you’ll never perform it at gigs, never send it out to music streaming platforms, and you’ll never know if it’s a hit.

Enjoy the learning curve of the process and be proud that you’ve taught yourself the discipline to complete a track. But equally don’t stress too much about not finishing every song you start. You might find that the ideas you’d had and tricks you’ve learnt will come back and be useful later in future music-making – you’ve sharpened your producing skills without even knowing it.

What mental and organisational strategies have you found that might help musicians and producers close the DAW and declare a track finished?

Once you decide that your song is finally finished, it’s time to let everyone hear it. With RouteNote you can publish your track to all major online stores and streaming services, easily and for free. Learn more here.

SoundCloud’s new user-centric payment system is revolutionary, but there is a catch

This week SoundCloud announced the brand new way in which they will be paying artists to make streaming royalties fairer for smaller artists with dedicated fans. Sadly not every artist will gain from this.

The new user-centric payment system announced by SoundCloud this week is game changing. Rumoured to be on its way at the start of February, SoundCloud have made huge announcements revealing that yes it is coming – and very soon!

It pays artists out based on the revenue generated by their actual listeners. What this means is that someone paying a £10 subscription who listens to only one artist, all of the streaming revenue pay-out from that £10 goes to that artist.

It is incredible news, particularly for smaller artists and labels with dedicated communities and fans. The previous system, and the one adopted by all major streaming services, means that all streaming revenues go into a large pot and are then distributed based on a percentage of streams amongst all of the song streams in a period.

Does SoundCloud’s new user-centric payment system sound vastly more fair? Absolutely it does, especially if you are an independent artist or record label. SoundCloud’s move into this payment model is pioneering – Deezer have discussed it before but never managed to make the leap – however, sadly not all artists on SoundCloud will be benefitting from the new payment system.

Which artists are eligible for SoundCloud’s fan powered royalties?

The new user-centric payment system will only apply to artists who monetise their music directly with SoundCloud. So eligible artists include Pro Unlimited subscribers in the Premier Program, Repost by SoundCloud subscribers, and members of Repost Select.

It’s a brilliant move and unfortunately it is understandable that they can only provide it for direct distribution. The reason that Deezer haven’t been able to implement the model is that there is that there is sadly still resistance from major labels. Though they have said that they’ve been able to get “the majority of French labels” on board for an initial test in France, it hasn’t yet happened.

Hopefully with SoundCloud leading the way with the first to adopt a UCPS then the flood gates will be opened for others to try it. We know how much it could benefit the independent artists and labels we work with. We now eagerly await to see the results when the new payment system goes live for SoundCloud’s eligible users.

The new system of payments will begin on April 1st next month and eligible Premier artists will receive their first statement in May whilst Repost artists will see their first report in June.

Historic first as SoundCloud challenge music streaming payment system with “fan-powered royalties”

Image Credit: SoundCloud

In an industry-first, SoundCloud is introducing a user-centric payment system so that artists get paid based on their actual listeners.

SoundCloud has become the first streaming service to switch to a user-centric payment system for independent artists on the platform. In a move that was rumoured last month, from April a “fan-powered royalties” arrangement will see subscriber’s money go only to the artists they listen to.

At the moment royalties on SoundCloud and other streaming services like Spotify are pooled and rights-holders are paid according to their market share of total plays on the platform. User-centric licensing has been peddled as a fairer alternative to this current pro rata streaming payment system. It’s an option that’s been debated in the economics of music streaming government inquiry in the UK.

Critics say the current pro rata model is great for music superstars, but not so great for indie artists and specialist genres like jazz, and that fans of these genres are funding music they never actually stream. According to SoundCloud, “fan-powered” royalties equal a more transparent and fairer system.

Image Credit: SoundCloud

The hope is to level the playing field for some indie artists by linking payments to fandom, meaning fans can directly influence how their favourite artists get paid.

Michael Weissman, Chief Executive Officer of SoundCloud, said: “Many in the industry have wanted this for years. We are excited to be the ones to bring this to market to better support independent artists. SoundCloud is uniquely positioned to offer this transformative new model due to the powerful connection between artists and fans that takes place on our platform.

“As the only direct-to-consumer music streaming platform and next generation artist services company, the launch of fan-powered royalties represents a significant move in SoundCloud’s strategic direction to elevate, grow and create new opportunities directly with independent artists.”

Once it kicks in on April 1st, SoundCloud’s move will benefit nearly 100,000 independent artists who monetise directly through SoundCloud Premier, Repost Select or Repost by SoundCloud.

Learn more about the new system on SoundCloud’s microsite.

Spotify Confirms Hundreds Of K-pop Releases Have Been Removed From The Platform Worldwide

Image credit: RBW Entertainment

The streaming platform that launched in South Korea earlier this year hopes that the “disruption will be temporary”.

The music streaming platform Spotify has only recently launched in South Korea but it is already having some issues. Hundreds of K-pop releases have been removed worldwide as they continue to reach an agreement with distributor Kakao M. 

The streaming service launched in South Korea on February 1st 2021 but without music from artists with licensing deals under Kakao M which includes IU, Zico and more. 

Releases distributed by the Korean label have now been removed from Spotify around the world. Kakao M is one of the largest distributors in in South Korea with 37.5 percent of the songs featured on the 2020 top 400 yearly song chart from Gaon Music Chart. 

Speaking to NME, a spokesperson for Spotify confirmed that Kakao’s M’s catalogue would no longer be available to Spotify users across the globe from the Monday 1st March, 2021 “due to the expiration of our licence.”

They continued, “We have been working with KakaoM over the last year and a half to renew the global licensing agreement, so that their artists’ music would remain available to Spotify’s 345M+ listeners in nearly 170 markets around the world.” Adding, “Despite our best efforts, the existing licensing deal we had with KakaoM (which covered all countries other than South Korea) has come to an end. The fact that we have not yet reached agreement on a new global deal is unfortunate for their artists, as well as for fans and listeners worldwide. It is our hope that this disruption will be temporary and we can resolve the situation soon. We remain committed to working with local rights holders including KakaoM, to help grow the Korean music market and overall streaming ecosystem together.”

Twitter user @lemonphobic has compiled all the artists who’s music is unavailable via Spotify here: 

It’s also worth noting that Katao M’s parent company also owns and operates the MelOn streaming service, one of the top digital music platforms in South Korea. 

YouTube Music Might Be Testing New Library Tracks Playlist

Image credit: YouTube Music

YouTube Music may be adding one of the most requested features from users.

After adding a Youtube Music PWA (Progressive Web App) for Chromebooks earlier in the month, it appears that google is now testing a new Library Tracks playlist in YouTube Music, one of the most requested features among users. The new playlist has been spotted by some users but the feature isn’t widely available yet. The feature gives users easy access to all the songs in their library in one playlist. 

A recent Reddit post by user u/lordbrack showed the new feature in the YouTube Music app on Android. In the post they explain that after listening to music from their library it later showed up in their history, it is there where the playlist “Library Tracks” appeared, it included all the music in their history. However, they playlist wasn’t able to be played and showed a 404 error but it was possible to download it initially and view it offline. 

Credit u/lordbrack

From the screenshot above you can see that the Library Playlist looks like every other playlist in YouTube Music. The cover art is at the top, right next to the playlist name and the total number of tracks. There is also a download button for users to click to have the library in offline mode.

Currently there is no official information regarding this addition to YouTube Music but it’s looking likely this is a feature that will be implemented. 

Watch CGI Post Malone Perform for Pokémon’s 25th Anniversary concert

Image credit: Pokémon/Republic Records/YouTube

Post Malone vibes with various Pokémon in his headline virtual show for Pokémon’s 25th Anniversary concert.

As we’ve previously mentioned, Post Malone was re-created in CGI for the virtual headline show for Pokémon’s 25th Anniversary, dubbed Pokémon day (February 27th).

The rapper played a 12-minute set in a variety of colourful settings from the franchise. In addition to this there were also some fan favourite Pokémon’s in attendance, from Gyarados, Umbreon and of course Pikachu. 

These saw a CGI-rendered Post Malone performing ‘Psycho’, ‘Circles’, and ‘Congratulations’, as well as his recent cover of Hootie and the Blowfish’s ‘Only Wanna Be With You’

It was a weird juxtaposition that saw the often lewd rapper singing about sex and breakups to the backdrop of Pokémon and subsequent landscapes. However, you cannot deny the absolute vibe that the artwork, scenery and CGI matched with Malone’s music creates. 

The Post Malone show is the first in the year long P25 music programme which sees Pokémon teaming up with Universal Music Group. Other artists expected to get the CGI treatment are Katy Perry and J Balvin. All three artists are expected to feature on a special anniversary record for the Pokémon franchise, titled ‘Pokémon 25: The Album’

Check the full performance from Post Malone here: