Digital Media Digest

March 2018

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. .

Deutsche Grammophon and IDAGIO start new partnership 
Deutsche Grammophon and 
IDAGIO, a new classical music streaming service, have announced an extensive partnership agreement. The IDAGIO catalogue, which already comprises more than half a million tracks, will now include the complete catalogues of Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Philips Classics and all classical music productions released by the acclaimed Munich-based ECM label. IDAGIO will feature custom created playlists curated by Deutsche Grammophon and its artists, and will be supported by additional marketing and promotional initiatives as part of the partnership. (Source:Platform and Stream)
Apple Music is on the verge of overtaking Spotify in U.S. paid subscribers, a sign that the music-streaming world's dominant force is facing growing competition ahead of its hotly anticipated public stock offering. (Source: Wall Street Journal – Subscription Required)
The compact disc era may finally be entering its hospice stage 
Thirty-five years after the format was introduced as one of the greatest audio advancements since the birth of recorded music the once indestructible compact disc received another existential wound in early 2018 after a report that two big box retailers were reassessing their approaches to physical CD sales. Electronics outlet Best Buy will stop carrying most CDs in their stores, and Target is attempting to negotiate with distributors to try to switch to a consignment model. With casual music fans done with discs in favor of streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music, Best Buy is ceding the market to online retailers including Amazon and independent stalwarts such as Amoeba Music. (Source:
 Los Angeles Times)
According to Billboard's deep dive into Nielsen's 2017 Year-End Music Report, there were 88.2 million CDs sold last year, a decrease of 20 percent from 2016. Total physical and digital album sales, meanwhile, decreased 17.7 percent, to $169.15 million. On-demand audio and video streams increased a whopping 43 percent, to 618 billion. Taken at face value, these statistics seem to indicate that the days of actually owning music physically or digitally as opposed to enjoying through a streaming service are numbered. Luke Sardello, the co-owner of Dallas-based Josey Records, says "There is still demand for CDs by music fans that prefer to have a physical copies of their favorite albums without making the jump back into vinyl. They still like seeing the artwork and reading the liner notes. CDs still tell a story that streaming can't do." Although the CD market looks bleak now, it's likely this won't always be the case. The vinyl resurgence (and, more recently, the cassette micro-boom) illustrates that even formats left for dead can bounce back. (Source: Salon)
Given everything that the music industry's been through, it's understandable that the word "free" can often evoke a negative reaction when dropped in music business circles. That said, however, judiciously applied giveaways can yield decidedly positive results in the long run. (Source:
An opinion piece by Mark Shenton discusses the pros and cons of the ubiquitous use of camera phones at live events. At music gigs, producers have seemingly given up the battle to stop people using them. When and how to use them requires respect—for your fellow audience members and the performers—in a shared experience. And if we need a few rules to make what is and isn't acceptable a bit clearer, so be it. (Source: The Stage)
A New York federal judge delivered a blow to nine news organizations defending their use of a Tom Brady photo. The judge's decision is sure to be controversial and could prove quite consequential, too, potentially disrupting the way that news outlets use Twitter and causing many in technology to re-examine ubiquitous practices from embedding to linking. The Judge ruled that "when defendants caused the embedded Tweets to appear on their websites, their actions violated plaintiff's exclusive display right; the fact that the image was hosted on a server owned and operated by an unrelated third party (Twitter) does not shield them from this result." (Source: Hollywood Reporter)
Giving classical the boot(leg): a brief history of illicit recording 
In 1901, Lionel Mapleson, the Metropolitan Opera's librarian, became the first bootlegger after recording a concert on his Bettini micro-recorder without asking the performers' permission. Over the next three years, he went on to make hundreds of recordings, most of abysmal quality. But Mapleson's clandestine operations preserved the era's most legendary voices, as well as established the potential for others to do some recording of their own. In Bootleg: 
The Secret History of the Other Recording Industry, author Clinton Heylin writes that, by 1951, the proportion of illegal recordings in classical music had exceeded that of all other genres. The late '80s and '90s saw many an industry attempt, some fruitful, to strangle the black market, but with the Internet came yet another open season. Recordings that once changed hands via vinyl or CD now circulate to millions via streaming platforms like YouTube, which remain havens for illegal audio and video. Chances are your favorite classical performance is living somewhere on the internet. (Source: WQXR)
Music streaming—playing songs over the internet "on demand"—is widely regarded as having saved the music industry, following an era of music piracy marked by falling CD and vinyl sales. While songwriters and musicians have long complained that they're not getting their fair share of the spoils, a number of tech start-ups are trying to help them receive what they're owed and give them more control. Kobalt is a technology-driven music services company that gives songwriters and bands complete ownership of their work and a greater share of income than has traditionally been the case in the industry. Artists get to keep about 90% of what they earn from Kobalt, compared to about 20% with traditional labels. Other tech start-ups such as Mycelia and Choon are also trying to use new technology, such as blockchain, to give more financial power back to music creators and help them track down what they're owed. (Source: BBC)
Spotify has filed a prospectus to sell shares on the New York Stock Exchange, an indication of the imminent arrival of one of the most anticipated technology stocks in years. Instead of a traditional initial public offering, Spotify will, as expected, pursue a direct listing of its shares, an unusual process in which no new stock is issued—and therefore no money is raised. However, existing investors and insiders can trade their shares on the open market. According to the prospectus, investors trading Spotify's shares in private transactions have valued the company as highly as $23 billion. Spotify's shares will be traded under the ticker symbol SPOT, but there is no indication of when that will begin. (Source: New York Times)
Lino, a Silicon Valley-based startup, has prepared to take on YouTube's consistently detrimental rules against content creators. How? With a decentralized video contribution system to compensate creators that lacks a middleman. Lino will depend entirely on blockchain-based micro-payments. Backers will use LINO tokens to pay artists. To generate tokens, creators will have to generate content and share their work on Lino's platform. In addition, users who generate nodes will earn tokens alongside artists. Artists can also earn money from ads. Investors appear excited about the company's potential. Yesterday, Lino announced that it received $20 million in a private token sale investment round led by Zhenfund, one of China's most famous seed investors. (Source: Digital Music News)
Despite serious opposition measures and lawsuits from nearly half of all U.S. states, the FCC is charging forward with its net neutrality repeal. Here's the agency's official, 284-page order repealing net neutrality, titled "Restoring Internet Freedom." (Source: Digital Music News)
The FCC rolled back net neutrality. On paper. But is that rollback now just a paper tiger? That's a question now being asked by major internet companies, legislators, and the FCC itself, thanks to state regulations mandating net neutrality that have been—or are about to be—adopted in California, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Washington. (Source: Digital Music News)
Spotify is rolling out a bunch of new, snazzy features as it gears up for what has been termed as "an unconventional IPO." The giant streamer unveiled a "Show Credits" element in the desktop version of their app, allowing users to know the performers, songwriters and producer behind their favorite tunes. Unfortunately, a lot of the credit data was either incomplete or entirely missing, which Spotify blamed on inherited errors from low quality, label-provided metadata. To rectify this, Spotify has now summoned its 160-million-strong user base to crowdsource corrections. The new feature, called "suggest edits," enables users to edit (suggest) genre, language, explicitness, mood and "aliases" for any track. (Source:Digital Music News)