45,000 People Downloaded The New u2 Album via Torrent Sites in 2 Weeks

Music Ally has reported that over 445,000 people illegally downloaded the new U2 album. All these downloaded were alleged to happen between the 18th of February till the 3rd of March from BitTorrent sites.

The chart supplied by the company shows the spike in downloads following the album’s leak in February, apparently due to it being accidentally made available for sale on an Australian digital music store ahead of its official release on 2nd March.

The debate is always would these people have purchased the album if it wasn’t leaked on BitTorrent clients? No one can really answer that question, but I’m sure that certain sales would have happened because of this.

Overall this does make me think that the claims of the Pirate Bay in the last couple weeks that “80 percent of all their torrents are legal”, cant be true.

The Beatles will be on Rock Band coming September 9th

Harmonix has confirmed that its Beatles-themed music game will be released on 9 September this year, and will be called The Beatles: Rock Band. An official site has gone live today inviting gamers to sign up for alerts when pre-ordering begins.

It’s a big deal – the game will launch simultaneously in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and other countries, and will be available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii.

The game will include support for guitar, bass, mic and drums, but will also offer “a limited number of new hardware offerings modeled after instruments used by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr throughout their career”.

Universal Music and YouTube Partner for New Music Vide Website

CNET and the Wall Street Journal are both reporting that Universal Music Group and YouTube are in final negotiations to create a new music videos website, with the working title of Vevo.

The site is intended to feature music videos, artist-related content and interviews. The aim of course is to bring in more high profile brands who arent necessarily interested in advertising on YouTube because of its user-generated content.

It has been mentioned by CNET that the three other major labels have all been approached to join the Vevo service. Im sure this would all work in the same way as Myspace Music in which the major labels all have an equity stake. Myspace Music has amazed me that so many independent labels have come on board with the solution, because they should realise that part of their profits are still going to the major labels. However, with Myspace Music most independent labels need to have their music on the site, so why not make some revenues in the process.

Tesco Has The New U2 Album for Only £3.97

Over at MusicAlly they have pointed out that the new U2 album (No Line On The Horizon) is currently on Amazon’s US Mp3 store for only $3.99. However, because we are based in the UK there is nowhere we can get this album for so cheap, until now. Tesco has taken the step forward and is now selling the new U2 album in a week-long deal for ony £3.97.

This shows that the digital music store price wars are about to heat up! However, you will notice that iTunes never seems to get into these price wars.

RouteNote Artist Spotlight – Gyre

Gyre - Album ArtA lot of tracks go across our admin department’s desk, and when they find something exceptional, they flag it up. One of the artists that we’re particularly proud to welcome to our catalogue is Gyre. A one man outfit from Bournemouth, Gyre’s tracks are a mixed up kind of electro, dub and lemon-jellyesque samples and loops. They mingle heavy basslines and lush, layered sound to create something that I can hear being played in the main room at Fabric, or maybe beefing out of someone’s ridiculously big in-car sound system down at the beach as the fire burns and the exotic cheroot is passed around. Click the album art to visit Gyre’s myspace, or the iTunes link to show your appreciation in a financial manner.

Gyre

Hope – Fat Freddy’s Drop

fat-freddys-drop

A slow, red fire burns within me, steady and warm like coal. Its heat suffuses me, and little sparks and snaps off it, bearing my mind away – back to old friends and remembered joys. This glowing kernel resides inside me because I have seen Fat Freddy’s Drop play live. I was late. I missed the support act. I scarcely had time to buy a beer, and as soon as I had something wonderful happened in my ears.

They played two consecutive nights at the Camden Roundhouse and I was at the second – the last night of their UK tour before they went home to play the Aussie/NZ summer circuit. I loved their album before I went in, and I knew they had a reputation for being great live, but even so I was blown away. In case you don’t already know, they’re a Kiwi seven-piece dub and reggae outfit, that have released one live and one studio album, and they’re big… Sorry, make that BIG down under.

Their music is crafted. This isn’t something that’s been thrown together during a drunken evening in someone’s garage – this has been worked on, pieced, built and blended together. Usually their songs will have a big, warm, deep bass line, something that doesn’t seem complex, but then as the layers of music – a drumbeat, some vibes, maybe a flute, a soft vocal – come in, an unsuspected complexity evolves, the head of the bar isn’t where you thought it was to begin with, and the key’s changed and you’re surrounded by this lush, slow, throbbing mathmos of sound.

They’re not a band that will make you fight your way to the front to get your head down into the mosh pit. They’re not a band that will keep you bouncing like a frog on speed for ninety minutes. Fat Freddy’s Drop are a band who will wrap you up in music, draw you into their performance with textured, fluid, beautifully engineered noises, and a togetherness, a tightness that comes only from practice and professionalism. More than this, their live performances are unique and structured in such a way that they have a definite culmination – an apex that is all the more significant and memorable for the fact that their drops are few and far between.

The Roundhouse gig I attended took the songs I knew and elaborated upon them, with different takes on each. There are sections in their tracks where they take the rolling beat they’ve layered from ten different instruments weaving in and out, strip it back, and then put everything together for the most grinsome, satisfying drop. There was a section during which an acoustic tune had been spun into a long, pulsing, almost trance-like piece of music, totally different from the album version, and it was only after spinning the crowd into this ten-minute trance that they stopped… and let it drop. the-band

Everyone. Every single person in that audience was smiling like a loon and dancing like a happy toddler in front of the stereo. It was a musical epiphany. It was like Jake and Elwood seeing the light. I wanted to do backflips. I can’t adequately describe how good their live show is. Even to describe the fun and antic japery of their sweaty, singlet wearing trombone player is more than I can do, let alone the whole glory of their horn section.

Fat Freddy’s studio album is called ‘Based On a True Story’. If you don’t like it, you can’t come to my birthday party. They should have released their second in October last year (’08), but here we are in March and it hasn’t been released yet, so all I can do is sit, and wait, and Hope.


Digital Music Distributors Compared

We’re aware of the fact that we’re a small company compared to some of our competitors, but our cost to bands is also smaller than most of them. All of our major competitors make a charge for either uploading or hosting your tracks, subscription fees, renewal fees, charges for ISRC codes, different charges based on how many outlets you want your music to appear in, the ways they find of hiding new charges are as innovative as they are various.

We don’t charge you anything until you start making money. Uploading is free, hosting is free, picking different stores is free, in fact everything is free until you sell your first track, at which point we’ll take 10% of the revenue that comes back. You get to keep 90% of everything we make by working together. Ours isn’t the lowest percentage rate in the market: CDbaby offer 91% to their clients, but their upfront charges mean that not only do you have to get your credit card out of your wallet and pay them before you can hope to see any return from selling your music, but you’re also worse off with them than us until you sell more than ten thousand units. The same is true of Tunecore and Musicadium, and the Orchard never get close, as they take 30% of sales revenue for themselves AND charge you $90 up front.

Here’s a little table showing what you’d pay up front to distribute 2 albums over two years through some of the big distro sites (Musicadium deal in AUD, which I’ve converted at today’s rate of 1.549 to the USD).

Music Distribution Companies Compared

And here’s another detailing the income you’d get from various levels of sales, again based on distributing 2 albums over 2 years to all the stores RouteNote deals with, with an average per track income of $0.65, which is what you get back from iTunes.

RouteNote is awesome

As you get up to the 5k mark, Tunecore begin to pull ahead, it’s all pretty even around 10,000 and there are undeniable differences in the revenue earned when you get up towards to 30k sales mark, but we’re cheaper all the way up there, and the money will only ever flow one way – to you – if you deal with us.

So why are we better than our competitors? For artists starting out on their own, who want to be in control of their own destinies until they can prove the worth of their music, who don’t want to spend up-front money, and who aren’t realistically looking for sales of thirty thousand records in the first year or two, we are cheaper, quicker and much more interested in the success of our artists, because we’re smaller and our own success is that much more closely linked to that of our musical partners (read some of our testimonials!).

We had a response from Musicadium about this post – querying the way we’d worked out the fees mentioned. Here’s how it works out, based on the figures here in their agreement:

2 x upload fee to more than 3 stores = 2 x $99 = $198

2 x barcode (UPC) generation = 2 x $39 = $78

2 x annual renewal fee = 2 x $20 = $40

198 + 78 + 40 = 316

$316AUD / 1.549 = $204.00USD

Although the exchange rate has probably changed by now…

Pirate Bay Claims 80% Of All Their Torrent Traffic Is Legal

During the ongoing trial in Sweden of Pirate Bay, spokesperson Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi claimed that an internal study of 1000 torrents had show that 80% of trackers pointed to material that was legal to share online.

An essential part of Pirate Bay’s defense has been that the service is simply a tool that has many legitimate uses. The trial is entering it’s 6th day.

Songsmith. Rubbish.

roland02Everyone seems to be deriding Microsoft’s new Songsmith program, and with very good reason.  Mr. Gates’ employees seem to have decided it would be a good idea to take the software from a circa 1985 toy keyboard and box it up for $30.  We’ve got a Rhythm Ace attached to a Hammond organ downstairs that was designed in about 1960 and does a more convincing job.

You have a battery of switches to adjust tempo, mood, instruments etc. which the program uses to create music that is as bland as it is unoriginal. It’s as though someone at Redmond distilled Mike Flowers Pops to remove all the personality, and then digitised it. There’s a huge swathe of ‘remix’ videos up on YouTube, but my personal favourite is the Weezer – Buddy Holly remix. It’s the only one that I could actually listen to all the way through.

For sheer comedy value, none of the remixed songs beats the advert that supports the program. It’s literally incredible. This has been produced by a company with revenues of $60 BILLION dollars! How can they possibly think it’s ok to release utter guff like this? How did they spend the marketing budget, farming gold on WOW or something?

“I don’t want to write another boring love song”, yes… It’s much easier to have a robot do it for you. I get the feeling that having failed to make anything happen with their Pandora project, they’re looking around for other quick ways to offset all the money they spent on researching it. Thanks guys, good customer service – I wonder if there are any jobs going at Google? You remember, those guys who took your office software, improved it and made it free?

Digital Music Stores Compared

A lot of people get in touch with us to ask how many digital stores we distribute music to, and what proportion of the digital music market they represent. We also hear comments on the relatively small number of people we deal with in comparison to the huge lists of partners at some of our competitors, e.g. CDbaby, Emubands, IODA…(without mentioning the duplication in the last two).

The simple truth is that while a long list of digital music stores might look good, beyond the top 3 or 4 retailers it makes very little difference to overall sales how many your music’s in. It’s fairly common knowledge that iTunes is the biggest player in the market, but the scale of their dominance is pretty staggering. Neilsen (the ratings and market reporting firm) reports total US music sales of 1,513 million units in 2008, with 1070 million of those sales being digital downloads. That’s a billion digital music downloads across the entire US.

In 2008, across all territories, iTunes sold more than Two Billion tracks.

Apple iTunes Store Music Sales
Date Tracks Sold (Millions)
01/08/2004 100
16/12/2004 200
02/03/2005 300
10/05/2005 400
18/07/2005 500
10/01/2006 850
23/02/2006 1,000
12/09/2006 1,500
10/01/2007 2,000
09/04/2007 2,500
31/07/2007 3,000
15/01/2008 4,000
19/06/2008 5,000
06/01/2009 6,000

Excuse the horrid old excel graph, I’m still running Office ’03…

itunes-sales-graph1

It’s difficult to get a believable estimate for the size of the global digital music market, but given that the USA is the biggest single economy by a long way (the whole of the EU only just beats it in the CIA factbook at $14.98 trillion to $14.58 trillion), you begin to get a picture of how much of a monopoly iTunes has. Their competitors are of a different order: Amazon weighed in at 27 million digital tracks sold in the first six months of 2008, and the CEO of eMusic (David Pakman) estimated that Amazon have got about 4%-5% of the US music market, which going from Neilsen’s estimates puts them at about 48,150,000 tracks annually. Pakman also claims an approx. 10%-15% market share for eMusic, with 7 million downloads sold monthly (7*12 = 84).

By browsing eMusic’s sales milestone press releases, you can plot a rough course for their sales:

eMusic Digital Music Sales
Date Tracks Sold (Millions)
01/09/2004 0
01/12/2004 3
01/12/2006 100
25/09/2007 160
14/04/2008 200
20/11/2008 250

I’ll spare you another ugly graph. eMusic has sold 250 million tracks since it’s relaunch in 2004, and Amazon’s only been going for about a year now, 300 million tracks let’s say, which pales beside iTunes’ 6 billion total sales.

One can argue with the estimates, but the main thrust of my argument is hopefully becoming clear. A conservative 15% market share between Amazon and eMusic, along with iTunes’ >80% doesn’t leave more than 5% for any other players in the USA: with just those three selling your music for you online, you’ve got 95% of the market covered. It’s not that the remaining 5% isn’t worth catering to, but the law of diminishing returns kicks in, and customers in the last few percentiles get harder and harder to chase down, especially given the plethora of blossoming and failing little music shops that appear and dissappear. We concentrate our efforts on the vendors that matter.

P.S.

The controversial bulk of music discovery and consumption in the electronic wilderness, outside the paid-for enclosure, is happening on torrent sites like the embattled Pirate Bay, and the more respectable Limewire and Mininova, and promoting RouteNote artists on these channels is something we’re looking into. Ubiquitous innovator Trent Reznor or NIN positively encourages people to download his music from P2P networks, in order to drive sales of his ‘premium’ paid for content.