Digital Media Digest

January 2019

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. .

Detroit Symphony Orchestra to provide musical alerts for new Lincoln Aviator
Fans of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will hear a familiar sound when behind the wheel of the all-new Lincoln Aviator. The automaker is teaming up with the orchestra to redesign the vehicle's alert system. The new chimes will serve as alerts for about 25 features in the vehicles for everything from an open fuel door to an unbuckled seat belt are now symphonic in the new vehicle. (Source: WXYZ)

‘Live to digital’ screenings aren’t diversifying audiences, research finds
The growing trend of digitally capturing live arts performances and showing them online or in cinemas, community centers and village halls around the country is not yet attracting audiences different to those that attend similar events in person, new research has found. These ‘live to digital’ screenings—which happen either at the same time as the actual performance, or afterwards—were nevertheless found to be popular.  The findings emerge from two separate pieces of research: a report for Arts Council England (ACE) by MTM consulting, assessing the overall state of live to digital arts across England, and a review of an 18-month project by Cinegi, a digital distribution service, providing cultural content to venues outside of mainstream cinemas. (Source: Arts Professional)

How Hervé Boissière is taking classical music to digital audiences
While some people worry classical music is struggling to maintain an audience, Frenchman Hervé Boissière is trying to make money by running what the New York Times describes as "the closest thing to a classical Netflix." He founded in 2008, turning it into a leading digital platform for classical music worldwide. It airs more than 150 concerts, operas, ballets and master classes live each year and has an archive of more than 2,000 videos on demand from more than 3,000 musical works. The platform boasts 6.6 million video views per year with Europe being the largest market followed by North America, Asia and Russia. The company uses a Freemium model, where some content is free online and a premium subscription of $19.90 per month offers an unlimited subscription to the medici content. (Source: Forbes)

With new contract, Taylor Swift secures better deal for all UMG artists
In signing her new global deal with Universal Music Group, Taylor Swift used her considerable clout to secure a victory for all UMG artists, requiring UMG to agree that “any sale of their Spotify shares result in a distribution of money to their artists, non-recoupable.” Swift's request that UMG share its Spotify stock proceeds with artists in non-recoupable payments matches what Sony Music Entertainment put into place with its artists and distributed labels when it sold half its Spotify stock earlier this year for roughly $750 million. Some artists received up to $1 million in the cash out. (Source: Billboard)

Spotify for artists will charge for certain services
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek says one of the company’s current goals is to connect artists and fans. Revealing the artist platform now has 250,000 creators, Ek said the company will implement a monetization model for “Spotify for Artists.” Using a similar ‘freemium’ model, some artists and managers will receive a limited suite of tools. To access the full suite, they’ll have to pay up. Though they’ll charge for the tools, Spotify executives currently have no money to charge for the data they gather. (Source: Digital Music News)

What Spotify and Apple Music really pay
Each passing year, major labels continue to report record revenue thanks to the rise of streaming music. While the rise of streaming music has certainly helped boost the majors’ bottom line, artists have only seen diminishing returns. Especially on Spotify. According to David Crosby, a million plays on streaming platforms results in a laughable $5. The popular musician claims Spotify pays him around $0.00437 per stream. Apple Music pays around $0.00735. Though his ‘less than $5 on streaming’ claim doesn’t really add up, the per-stream payouts remain consistent with similar studies. After a million plays on Spotify, should only expect to earn around $3,970. On Apple Music, they’ll earn much more, receiving roughly around $7,830. (Source: Digital Music News)

At least two mechanical licensing collective (MLC) contenders have emerged
When the Music Modernization Act (MMA) was signed into law, SoundExchange was widely expected to fill the role of administering mechanical license payments, while the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and its members would largely oversee the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) itself. Just one problem: critics of the MMA have long argued that the MLC was being unfairly organized by the largest music publishers, with provisions that unfairly enrich themselves. That seems to have motivated the founding of the American Music Licensing Collective (AMLC), a group that has a fully-formed board of serious industry professionals (and a website). Whether the NMPA, major publishers and SoundExchange make modifications in light of this very visible protest is unclear. Also unclear is when the MLC selection process gets finalized, though the U.S. Copyright Office’s Register of Copyrights will be playing a key role in both the implementation of both the MMA and the MLC. (Source: Digital Music News)

‘Thriller’ flash mob with Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops in Jamaica Plain
This Halloween in Jamaica Plain wasn't just costumed kids going from house-to-house asking for candy. This year, professional musicians and dancers made their way across JP creating flash mobs in an homage to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." See video in article. (Source: Jamaica Plain News)

The Louisville Orchestra goes vinyl
The Louisville Orchestra recently worked with Louisville-based Crosley Radio to release its 2017 album, All In, on vinyl, the orchestra’s first vinyl album in 30 years. Crosley also made turntables featuring a photo of the orchestra, all smiles. (Source:

Technology-based art is not new. For decades, artists have used technology as a tool and medium for expression. From Nam June Paik’s large-scale video sculptures to Complex Movement's community-based installation and performances, artists have and are exploring the aesthetic possibilities of technology to captivate audiences. Knight Foundation has announced $435,000 in funding for new arts technology projects that foster a strong future for digital art-making. From building communities around open source tools to exploring the recent phenomenon of pop-up experiences, these Knight Foundation investments represent the first steps toward helping artists who choose algorithms and digital hardware as means of expression. (Source:

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's 'A Concert For Peace And Unity' to Air On PBS
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's "Music for the Spirit: A Concert for Peace and Unity," a free concert for the community honoring the Tree of Life Synagogue victims and First Responders, was recorded at Heinz Hall for television broadcast nationally on PBS. (Source: Broadway World)

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra live exploration
Take a special trip to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with GPB Education! This interactive virtual exploration offers students a behind-the-scenes experience as they learn about the science of sound and the preparation it takes to put on a live musical performance. During the program, students will also hear from various ASO musicians and watch pieces performed by the Atlanta Symphony. (Source: GPB Media)

At midnight on New Year’s Eve, all works first published in the United States in 1923 entered the public domain. It has been 21 years since the last mass expiration of copyright in the U.S. We can blame Mickey Mouse for the long wait. In 1998, Disney was one of the loudest in a choir of corporate voices advocating for longer copyright protections. At the time, all works published before January 1,1978, were entitled to copyright protection for 75 years; all author’s works published on or after that date were under copyright for the lifetime of the creator, plus 50 years. At the urging of Disney and others, Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, adding 20 years to the copyright term. Mickey would be protected until 2024—and no copyrighted work would enter the public domain again until 2019, creating a bizarre 20-year hiatus between the release of works from 1922 and those from 1923.  (Source: Smithsonian Magazine)

In the New Yorker, Sarah Larson wrote, “I didn’t know that I needed an opera podcast in my life until I heard the trailer for ‘Aria Code,’ a new ten-episode series from the New York classical-music station WQXR and the Metropolitan Opera, and swooned with joy. Three episodes in, I’m still swooning. The show’s concept is simple: its host, Rhiannon Giddens, introduces us to one famous opera aria each week; experts provide insight, laced with music; we hear the aria in its entirety. That’s it. It’s an elegantly constructed, effortlessly listenable series that does exactly what you’d hope a general-interest opera podcast would do. It also avoids most of what you’d hope it would avoid—pandering, dumbing down, trying to make opera seem hip.” (Source: New Yorker)

You can’t buy the “Raspberry Beret” MP3 at the secondhand store
Ever bought a song or an album on iTunes and, after a while, wish you could sell it somewhere, the way you might have done with an old vinyl record or CD? In 2011, a company called ReDigi figured out a novel way for iTunes music purchasers to do just that. Using ReDigi’s software, consumers would upload unwanted songs to their Cloud Locker. The software made sure that the iTunes songs being uploaded were lawfully purchased in the first place and then completely deleted on the music owner’s computer. ReDigi then resold the music to a new owner, with the proceeds split between ReDigi and the original owner. In 2012, Capitol Records sued ReDigi, claiming that just because a music seller got rid of all the copies of a song on her computer didn’t mean that she didn’t have an undisclosed bootleg copy on some other device. In 2013, a U.S. District Court ruled against ReDigi and basically said that its business model is illegal. ReDigi appealed but has now lost in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. (Source: Slate)

How a new kind of pop star stormed 2018
What pop means changes depending on what angle you’re looking from. It can be a descriptor of audience size, indicating something that’s popular, or it can be a genre tag, specifying a sound. But for much of the last three decades, these two definitions have effectively been one and the same. But in the last couple of years, this framework has been almost completely dismantled, owing in large part to the widespread adoption of streaming. Previously, when artists from hip-hop, country or hard rock were said to be going pop, that implied they were sacrificing something essential about themselves in exchange for something plastic and transitory. Pop was a softening. A compromise. Now, thanks to the largely frictionless internet, and the evolution in how Billboard calculates its charts—accounting for streaming data in addition to sales and radio play—these styles top the charts in unfiltered fashion. (Source: New York Times)

Semi-Conductor experiment
Semi-Conductor is an experiment by Google that lets you conduct your own orchestra through your browser. You can move your arms to change the tempo, volume, and instrumentation of a piece of music. It uses PoseNet, a machine learning library that works in the browser, to map out your movements through your webcam. An algorithm plays along to the score as you conduct, using hundreds of tiny audio files from live recorded instruments. (Source: Google)