Digital Media News

February 2017

With the accelerating pace of technological change, the League posts a monthly digest of relevant news and information regarding changes, trends, and developments that may affect the digital media activities that orchestras use to achieve their institutional missions. For each monthly digest, the League's digital media consultants, Michael Bronson and Joe Kluger, draw from a variety of websites and publications to provide excerpts or summaries of articles. (These do not necessarily represent the views of the League.)

As a service of the League, members with questions about the information in this digest or about other digital media topics – e.g., planning, strategy, and production – may contact Michael Bronson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Joe Kluger at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


The New Haven Symphony Orchestra is partnering with the University of New Haven and radio station WNHU to produce a new podcast series called Listen Up! Hosted by NHSO Education Director Caitlin Daly, each 10- to 20-minute episode covers a single aspect of music. The podcasts— “where we show you how to get more out of the music you love,” says an NHSO press release—are presented by the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and produced with support from WNHU Radio and the University of New Haven. The first of seven podcasts launched three months ago, with topics including melody, rhythm/meter, harmony, texture, tempo/dynamics, texture/form, and variation. The podcasts are offered free at SoundCloud and iTunes. (Source: New Haven Symphony Orchestra)
Stingray Digital Group Inc. is moving to acquire Classica, an international pay TV channel with a focus on operas, ballets and classical music. The Montreal-based company will acquire Classica and access to more than 1,500 titles and 2,000 hours of content from Unitel GmbH, which will continue to produce and deliver programming for Classica. The company reaches about 400 million subscribers in 152 countries through in-store and residential distribution platforms. (Source: The Globe and Mail)
Vinyl sales hit a 25-year high in 2016 – mostly due to death
As streaming becomes ubiquitous, and even downloading a song seems like an archaic waste of time, music lovers are craving tangible music formats again – and vinyl provides the perfect way to experience music in a way far removed from the digital world. Music streaming in the US hit an all-time high with 250.7 billion songs streamed, while overall physical sales dropped by 11.7% – no doubt due to the slow death of the CD. Despite the continued move online, vinyl sales rose a massive 25.9% in 2016. (Source: ToneDeaf)
A large swath of the music business, including all three major labels (Universal Music Group, Sony Music and the Warner Music Group), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and music platforms such as Pandora, Rhapsody/Napster and HD Tracks, all in concert with the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG), have announced their support for studio-quality hi-res audio for music streaming. Hi-res audio redresses digital music's traditionally compressed and largely inferior sound, which stems in part from the way MP3s were designed. Now, music industry entities have pledged to support new opportunities and add new premium audio music offerings to streaming services, much as they have with high-resolution downloads. (Source: Billboard)
Trusted market monitor BuzzAngle released a new report, and it’s not pretty. For the second straight time, American consumers pay more to Spotify and Apple Music for music streams than YouTube. The 2016 Year-End Report details a few interesting facts. First, audio stream consumption continues growing at a phenomenal rate. Last year, overall music streams jumped 82.6% to total 250 billion streams in the United States alone. Furthermore, album and individual track sales continue declining. In total digital video streams, YouTube only saw a dismal 7.5% growth, compared to Spotify and Apple Music’s 82.6% growth. These numbers signal a dramatic market reversal, and bad news for Google and YouTube. (Source: Digital Music News)
Facebook Live is a tool available within the Facebook app which allows for in-the-moment live streaming and interaction with followers. Once the timely event is over, the video is saved as a regular post on your Facebook Timeline. There are very few barriers between deciding to stream something live on Facebook and starting the live stream. In a blog post, Capacity Interactive explains what Facebook Live is and answers the question: Yes It’s Everywhere…But Should Your Organization Use Facebook Live? (Source: Capacity Interactive)
The U.S. home video market declined again last year as more people turned to subscription streaming services like Netflix for their home entertainment needs, providing further evidence of rapid shifts in consumer behavior that have put pressure on Hollywood studios. Revenue from sales and rentals of movies and TV shows totaled $12 billion in 2016, down 7% from the previous year. Meanwhile, subscription streaming continued its torrid growth last year, surging nearly 23% to $6.23 billion in consumer spending. (Source: Los Angeles Times)
After Spotify walked away from advanced plans to acquire the company, SoundCloud posted yet another difficult financial quarter. This leaves the streaming company in a bad state. Co-founder Alexander Ljung appraised SoundCloud’s current business model and noted the risks of relying on a subscription model, underlining the bankruptcy risk the company faces should the subscription service flop. “SoundCloud may run out of cash earlier than December 31, 2017…These matters give rise to a material uncertainty about the Group’s ability to continue as a going concern.” (Source: Digital Music News)

Norway will be the first country to start turning off FM radio. Over the course of 2017, the FM radio network will slowly be switched off, with listeners only able to listen to digital programs instead. Many countries have toyed with the idea of parting company with FM, but a combination of aging equipment and geography means Norway is particularly keen to replace its analogue FM system with digital audio broadcasting (DAB). “Norway has many mountains and valleys that the robust nature of DAB can help with,” says Stephen Lax at the University of Leeds, UK. This terrain can distort FM signals. “Additionally, its FM radio infrastructure was coming to the end of its life, so they would’ve needed to either replace it or fully commit to DAB anyway.” Digital signals are also more efficient. “DAB can run at lower power levels so the infrastructure electricity bills are lower. Also the sound quality is better,” says Lax. (Source: New Scientist)
The National Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Designate Gianandrea Noseda was joined by Pianist Jon Kimura Parker and actress Phylicia Rashad in a festive, all-American program of musical works by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, and others that was streamed live on Medici.tv from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. (Source: Medici.tv)
According to a new report by respected music business analyst Midia, music streaming subscriptions have finally passed 100 million. Spotify took the lead with 43 million paid subscriptions, and Apple Music in second place with 20.9 million. Deezer, Napster, and Tidal took the last slots at 6.9, 4.5, and 1 million respectively. Apple and Spotify accounted for 64% of the entire subscriber base. At the end of 2016, total music subscriptions totaled 100.4 million, which exceeds the 87.8 million subscribers to Netflix. (Source: Digital Media News)
Back in October, Boiler Room announced it was creating the world's first virtual reality music venue. Founded in 2010, the online broadcasting platform has streamed hundreds of DJ sets and shows. It means that people don't need to be physically inside a venue to watch their favorite artist. As major labels and bands experiment with VR and gig streaming, BBC Newsbeat looks at whether it's the format to shape live music. (Source: BBC)
Fresh on the heels of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, one of the largest pro-copyright lobbies in the United States is asking the newly elected president to increase the powers held by copyright holders. In a recent letter addressed directly to Trump, the Copyright Alliance— speaking on behalf of high profile members such as the MPAA and RIAA—suggests the President create new digital borders on the internet. While experts note that copyright law was originally intended to ensure creators could make a living, in the modern era, its purpose has largely shifted to maximizing profits for media conglomerates.  (Source: Wired)
Once again, Pandora became the most streamed music service with a 28% share of music listening. The company barely beat out YouTube, who came in second place with a 27% share. Despite boating over 40 million paid subscribers worldwide, Spotify trailed YouTube, coming in third with only a 17% share. YouTube, Pandora, and Spotify numbers combined free, ad-supported versions as well as their paid offerings. (Source: Digital Music News)
The collapse in physical and digital music formats come from an industry-wide push towards subscription music rental offerings. While the music industry celebrates over 100 million paid music subscriptions, the news poses a serious problem for fans, labels, and indie artists. Bandcamp explained why, “As more people subscribe to music rental services, the already paltry rates paid to artists are going down (and no, artists don’t necessarily make it up in volume). But it’s not only artists who are struggling. The companies built solely around subscription music rental continue to struggle as well. Some say the model is simply broken. The success of Netflix is often used as a counterargument, but the music business is not the movie business.” (Source: Digital Music News)