Digital Media News

October 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. .

Amazon and Pandora to gauge music’s value in the internet age

How much are people willing to spend for streaming music?  For years, thanks to rigid pricing structures at streaming services, the answer has been stuck at $10 a month or nothing. But that model may soon be challenged by Amazon and Pandora Media, which are set to introduce new versions of their streaming services, charging as little as $5 a month. The plans will put pressure on incumbent players like Spotify and Apple Music and offer the music industry a major test regarding the value of streaming music — including the crucial question of whether discounts will be enough to entice people to pay anything when virtually every song is also available free. (Source: New York Times)

Music’s salvation might be selling not songs, but VR

Outside of games, music is almost certainly the most popular content type in VR (virtual reality) right now. Both formats trade in experiences, connection, and immersion. You don’t go to a concert for the sound quality; you go to be part of something. That feeling also happens to be the kind of thing fans will pay for, which is hard to come by in today’s music industry. Meanwhile, one industry forecast pegs VR and AR as a $120 billion business by 2020, and everybody wants a slice (Source: Wired)

BBC Radio 1 aims to be 'Netflix of music radio' with phone-first strategy

BBC Radio 1 is aiming to become the “Netflix of music radio” with a new strategy that starts with commissioning 25 hours of programming that will be made available on demand.  The plan is to develop a “phone-first” strategy that will allow Radio 1 fans to pick a show to stream or download and listen to when they want, such as on a journey to or from work. (Source: The Guardian)

A Facebook first for New York Philharmonic: streaming its 175th anniversary opener

The New York Philharmonic opened its 175th anniversary season a little differently than its forebears in 1842: For the first time it streamed the concert on Facebook Live. (Source: New York Times)

Spotify Premium crosses 40 million paying subscribers

Just moments after disclosing its 39 millionth paying subscriber, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has announced 40 million paying subscribers. (Source Digital Music News)

Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal paying $1.6 million a day in major label guarantees… 

On-demand streaming services Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer, Rhapsody, and others collectively paid nearly $1.6 million in guaranteed payments a day to just three major recording labels last quarter. Total ‘minimum guarantees’ topped $144 million over the 91-day period. That is on top of royalties for actual plays, which more than quintupled that figure.  Benefiting from the guaranteed payments are Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group, a trio now wielding massive power over the fate of companies like Spotify. Of course, an emphasis on streaming is having a downward impact on paid downloads, with double-digit declines in 2016. (Source: Digital Music News)

More than 100 million people now pay for streaming music services

Streaming music services collectively crossed the 100 million-mark this month, with Spotify, Sirius XM Radio, and Apple Music driving more than 85% of the total. (Source: Digital Music News)

How to better organize your classical music in iTunes 12.5

Kirk McElhearn, a writer for Macworld with a large iTunes classical music library, has long lamented the way iTunes manages this type of music. He says that Apple has added some new tags to iTunes 12.5 in order to help users organize classical music. They are the Work (work name), Movement (movement number), and Name (movement name) tags. If you select one or more tracks in iTunes, then press Command-I, you can check Use Work and Movement to make these tags visible. He points out some continuing flaws and has developed a list of suggested work arounds. He says that, “Apple has made big strides here, catering to the niche market that is classical music, with these new tags. I just wish they were a bit easier to use and better thought out.” (Source: MacWorld)

The big data jukebox

An article in Tedium profiles AllMusic, one of the internet’s first—and best—archival projects. The number of album entries in the AllMusic database exceeds 3 million. The database also has more than 30 million tracks—with much of this data collected over the past 25 years. In comparison, Wikipedia has approximately 5.2 million articles of all types in its English edition, and approximately 41.6 million articles overall. Not every song or album in the AllMusic database has the level of organization or depth of a Wikipedia article, but the database is nonetheless loaded with valuable data. (Source:

How blockchain startups are disrupting the $15 billion music industry

In the recorded music industry, musicians today still must go through an archaic system of intermediaries developed before the advent of the internet, where the artists lose up to 86% of the proceeds from their music. This is where blockchain technology comes in, from which the music industry can benefit. Any industry that in encumbered by inefficient intermediaries is in danger of disruption, and the music industry is ripe for it. There are many blockchain oriented startups in this area, but UjoMusic and PeerTracks are two of them that shine through as having a unique, innovative perspective on what should be done. (Source: Forbes)

European Union tells YouTube: pay artists more!

It’s difficult to argue that YouTube pays sufficiently for music and video content. But according to the BBC, a new European draft directive to reform copyrights laws will have video sites like YouTube pay more to both musicians and record companies, whether YouTube likes it or not. (Source: Digital Music News)

CBS is getting out of the radio business — is this finally the end of the medium?

More and more Americans, and particularly young people, don’t tune into radio stations at all anymore. The biggest indicator that terrestrial radio is once again at death’s door is CBS Corp.’s bid to spin off its 88-year-old radio business in order to focus on its more profitable television and cable broadcasting segments. If CBS can’t find any buyers for its 117 stations in 29 U.S. markets, it will offer shares of CBS Radio via an initial public offering. So far, no buyers have stepped forward publicly, so the most likely scenario is an IPO that will have absolutely none of the fanfare that Facebook’s did. (Source: Salon)