Digital Media News

July 2016

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.)

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. .


CBS beats lawsuit over pre-1972 songs with bold copyright argument

A judge in California has determined that remastered versions of old pre-1972 songs get copyright — and owners of the originals can't stop the public performance of them. The lawsuit between ABS Entertainment, owner of recordings by Al Green and others, and CBS Radio, cut against decades of precedent that songs on the radio served promotional purposes and shouldn't render compensation for owners. CBS’s prevailing defense was that it was not performing the original analog recordings, but rather remastered versions that came out after 1972. Under this argument, the specifically performed works aren't protected by state law, and CBS doesn't have to pay. (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)


Spotify hires Troy Carter as a liaison with artists

As the music industry’s streaming wars intensify, Spotify is turning to the former manager of Lady Gaga to help compete against players like Apple and Tidal. Troy Carter, known as an innovative manager for musicians and a prolific tech investor, has joined Spotify as its global head of creator services, overseeing the company’s relationships with artists, songwriters, and record companies. (Source: New York Times)


Thank you, Apple? Spotify hits 100 million active users…

The Swedish streaming service Spotify announced that its subscriber base has grown to 100 million active users [ed: paying and free].  The milestone is happening despite strong competition from major rival Apple Music, which entered the music streaming market in June last year. And there’s more: Apple Music was followed by the addition of the high-fidelity streaming platform, Tidal, which also entered the streaming market refreshed for 2015. (Source: Digital Music News)


Apple Music hits 15 million subscribers

Apple announced that it has now surpassed 15 million [ed: paying] subscribers. That’s half of Spotify.  What’s surprising about this milestone is just how quickly the service has managed to rack up millions of users. It was only in February of this year that Apple Music reported hitting 11 million subscribers. To put Apple Music’s growth into perspective, Spotify took 6 years to hit 10 million paying users. (Source: Digital Music News)


Move over Spotify and Apple Music, Amazon paid music streaming service Is coming…

According to new reports, Amazon is preparing to launch their much-anticipated music streaming subscription service. Amazon’s preliminary talks about launching a potential streaming service are now more concrete and the service could be launched as early as this fall. The service will be priced at $9.99 per month which puts the subscription price in line with the other platforms. (Source: Digital Music News)


Can major initiative led by Berklee solve music-rights problems?

Berklee College of Music is leading a broad-based effort to streamline how artists and musical rights owners are identified and paid for their work. The collaborative effort, led by the college’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship and dubbed the Open Music Initiative, seeks to create a uniform, open-source database that will link artists and rights holders to individual musical tracks – be they purchased for download, streamed, sampled, or used in personal projects, performances, or mash-ups. (Source: Boston Globe)


Live cinema a gateway to the arts, report claims

According to The Live Cinema in the UK Report 2016, live cinema events are accessible and act as a gateway to arts performances with less populist appeal, such as dance and classical music. It also finds the events serve as a niche area of employment for musicians, technical staff, and other creatives in parts of the sector that are “notoriously difficult” to break into. (Source: Arts Professional)


Appeals court upholds net neutrality rules

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals denied a petition brought by telecoms challenging the FCC's recently enacted net neutrality rules. Without strong net neutrality rules, content providers like Netflix, Facebook, and Twitter fear that telecoms would charge for "fast lanes" resulting in high prices while many in the creative community worry it would propagate a cable television-like power structure. Big broadband providers like Verizon on the other hand argue they need latitude to make investments in infrastructure and capacity. At issue in the case was the FCC's authority, which the court upheld, to move forward with bans on paid prioritization, blocking and throttling by reclassifying internet service as a utility rather than an information service. (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)


‘She Loves Me’ to be streamed live, a Broadway first

The Metropolitan Opera has been transmitting performances live for a decade. The National Theater in London jumped on board a few years later. But Broadway, facing both financial and philosophical obstacles, has been slow to join the trend. The nonprofit Roundabout Theater Company said it had agreed to allow a live stream of a musical revival of “She Loves Me,”  Unlike the broadcasts by the Met, it will be available not in movie theaters but on the internet, Roku, and Apple TV. (Source: New York Times)


Sorry, Adele: taking photos at concerts enhances experience, study says

Although Adele might not be a fan, a new study suggests taking photos at a concert might help us enjoy the experience more. The new study by a team of researchers from the University of Southern California, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania, published in the June 6 edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, actually says taking time to snap photos of experiences like concerts and vacations helps us enjoy those experiences more. (Source: CBC News)


Apple patents concert camera blocker

Apple has been granted a patent for technology that could stop smartphone cameras being used at concerts. The patent describes a smartphone camera receiving coded infrared signals beamed from emitters in public places. The handset could then offer on-screen information or disable the camera functionality to stop pictures being taken. Apple did not comment on the patent. (Source: BBC News)


Bringing the New York Philharmonic to virtual reality

The New York Philharmonic performed in Central Park in June and teamed up with NYC Parks to record the event in virtual reality. Said a video producer for the parks, “With a 360-degree camera onstage, we’re going to be able to capture the perspectives of both the audience and the musicians, allowing people to feel what the other would ordinarily see. Hopefully, the immersive nature of the video will inspire people to come to the parks and enjoy concerts in the other boroughs following the Central Park kickoff.” (Source: Associated Press)


Portland's Allegro sought inventory on the verge of liquidation

Several hundred small music labels and recording artists around the world are faced with buying their own music back from a Portland distributor, as Allegro Media Group proceeds with an out-of-court liquidation.  For years, labels would send boxes of their media to Allegro’s warehouse. Allegro got the music placed in stores — Tower Records, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and others — then send out checks when the discs sold. And then the digital revolution happened. Former employees say the company did OK at first, adding digital music distribution to its menu of services. But when music streaming caught on, the bottom really started to fall out. The company has hired consultant Ed Hostmann to administrate the liquidation. Hostmann describes music distribution as having “gone the way of the buggy whips.” (Source: Oregon Public Broadcasting)


Radio’s next incarnation: join the creative disruption

The Wall Street Journal declared that public radio is facing what it called an “existential crisis” — a disaster supposedly brought on by public radio’s aging audience and NPR’s financial dependence on fees coming from increasingly challenged local member stations. But, according to New York Public Radio President and CEO Laura Walker, “one person’s existential crisis is another’s opportunity.” Walker lists several steps that radio stations can take to embrace what is undoubtedly radio’s next incarnation:

  1. Embrace the podcast, find the next generation of voices, and at the same time embrace radio.
  2. Redefine the role of the local public radio station by paying attention to the ideas of “community” and “now” and become indispensable.
  3. Evolve the business model between NPR and public radio stations so public radio can move more aggressively into the digital space.



As NPR One draws younger audience, network aims to expand local presence

NPR is working to help more stations contribute to NPR One, its streaming audio app that has proven successful at drawing new listeners to public radio content since its launch in 2014. NPR One gives listeners a continuous stream of NPR News segments, mixed with local coverage targeted to the listener’s location. Nearly all NPR member stations that aren’t music-only can be found through NPR One, according to the network. (Source:


Song downloads plunging more than 20 percent in 2016…

Sales of a-la-carte track downloads from platforms like the iTunes Store and Amazon are now experiencing serious declines, according to preliminary Q1 and partial Q2 data. Last year, year-over-year track downloads plunged nearly 13% according to Nielsen Music, but that figure is now slipping past 20% year-over-year, according to figures relayed by a major label source.

(Source: Digital Music News)


Revenue from paid downloads is falling faster than anyone anticipated.

According to PwC projected figures shared with Digital Music News, revenue from physical formats is falling at a (compound annual) rate of —12.3%. That’s a drop from $1.8 billion in 2015 to just under $1 billion in 2020.  But that’s nothing compared to paid download: according to the forecasted figures, paid music downloads will fall at a (compound annual) rate of —14.3%, from $2.3 billion in 2015 to just over $1 billion in 2020.

(Source: Digital Music News)


The 13 most insidious, pervasive lies about streaming music

According to Digital Music News, there’s plenty of misinformation floating around about streaming music these days, including the following myths:

  1. Streaming music is all about exposure.
  2. Windowing is bad for your fans.
  3. Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, or other streaming services are helping artists out.
  4. Playlists will make you famous.
  5. Playlists will make you wealthy.
  6. ‘Streaming Is the Future.’
  7. People will ultimately pay for streaming.
  8. Streaming killed piracy.
  9. Artists exclusives are in any way good for the music industry.
  10. YouTube is in any way beneficial to artists or the music industry.
  11. You’re getting all of your streaming royalties.
  12. Apple Music can somehow coexist with iTunes Music Downloads.
  13. All streaming platforms pay the same.

(Source: Digital Music News)


YouTube finally responds to artists demanding fair pay

YouTube has been under fire for some time over low royalty payments and not fairly paying artists, amongst other things. As that complaint chorus intensifies, YouTube has found it necessary to respond to the public complaints over fair pay. YouTube’s response…

The voices of the artists are being heard, and we’re working through details with the labels and independent music organizations who directly manage the deals with us. Having said that, YouTube has paid out over $3 billion to the music industry, despite being a platform that caters to largely light music listeners who spend an average of one hour per month consuming music – far less than an average Spotify or Apple Music user. Any comparisons of revenue from these platforms are apples and oranges.”

(Source: Digital Music News)


SoundExchange will have paid $4.3 billion in digital royalties by end of 2016.

According to a report by Billboard, SoundExchange is set to pay out $860 million in digital royalties this year. SoundExchange also reportedly paid out a similarly large amount last year – $803 million in total.  So, when you add up what they claim to have already paid out with what they will have paid out by the end of 2016, this adds up to a massive $4.3 billion.Mike Huppe, CEO of SoundExchange says, that the company makes payments to more than 110,000 recording artists and rights holders, as well as managing collections from 2,500 digital radio licenses. With this, the company now claims 16% of the U.S. market for overall royalty collections. (Source: Digital Music News)