Digital Media Digest

November 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. .

Every fall, the Washington National Opera company partners with the Washington Nationals baseball team to present a unique event, “Opera in the Outfield,” which features an opera displayed on the high-definition NatsHD scoreboard at Nationals Park. This free, family-friendly night draws a large crowd each year and allows attendees to watch the opera while sprawling on the outfield grass or sitting in the stands. (Source: The Tower)

The record industry has seen a lot of change over the years. 8-tracks took a short-lived run at the dominance of vinyl, cassettes faded away as compact discs took the world by storm, and through it all, the music industry saw its revenue continue to climb. That is, until it was digitally disrupted. Looking back at four decades of U.S. music industry sales data is a fascinating exercise as it charts not only the rise and fall the record company profits, but seismic shifts in technology and consumer behavior as well. (Source: Visual Capitalist)

WNET, parent company of New York's PBS stations, has announced the launch of ALL ARTS—a streaming platform and broadcast channel that offers access to all forms of creative expression from New York and around the world. Select programming is now available on the Web, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The full network, including the TV channel and streaming apps on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, will launch on January 28, 2019. (Source: PR Newswire)

Spotify is now enabling artists to directly upload their tracks onto the platform through its Spotify For Artists Beta. But when it comes to outside distributors, the company is also exerting a bit of selective control. Of course, artists and labels can use whatever Spotify-approved distributor they want.  And there’s a large list to pick from. But Spotify has a very small list of five they’re recommending. In the FAQ section under the question “How do I get my music on Spotify?,” the distributors currently listed are:
Perhaps most interesting is that Distrokid (in which Spotify recently took a “Passive Minority Stake” is boldly listed as a ‘Spotify Preferred Artist Distributor,’ with its name prominently displayed in enlarged lettering. (Source: Digital Music News)

The streaming service Spotify is now a decade.So, has it created a post-CD paradise for listeners—or turned today’s music into a grey goo? Music editors at The Guardian argue for and against the benefits of one of the dominate music streaming services. (Source: The Guardian)

In its Q2 2018 report, Spotify, the streaming music service, finished with 180 million monthly active users (MAUs) and 83 million subscribers. While that sounds good at first, average revenue per user (ARPU) fell 12% year-over-year to just $5.40. The company also lost $584 million so far this year, and remains on track to lose over $1 billion by the end of 2018. Now, Spotify aims to boost its ARPU, starting with users who may ‘abuse’ the service’s Family plan. To make sure that all family members are in the same location, the company has started to ask Premium for Family subscribers for GPS verification. (Source: Digital Music News)

No other American orchestra comes close to equaling the Minnesota Orchestra’s achievement as a recording powerhouse over the past quarter-century. Most orchestras in the U.S. are not recording at all or release only occasional live recordings, usually on in-house labels with zero support from major record companies. How did the Minnesota-BIS team buck the trends? One answer is found in the BIS financial model, with the orchestra shouldering the upfront cost of paying musicians for hours worked on recording sessions (with a generous assist from donors). The Minnesota Orchestra’s ability to stay cool under pressure is also crucial to the high artistic quality of the finished product. (Source: Star Tribune)

The Music Modernization Act, which was signed into law recently, provided a much-needed update to outdated copyright laws. While a great victory for creators and rights-holders, SoundExchange president/CEO Michael Huppe argues it should be just the first step, with additional changes needed, such as:
  • Requiring terrestrial radio stations to pay artists and labels for the analog performance of their recordings.
  • Revising and modernizing the consent decrees that apply to the way ASCAP and BMI collect royalties on behalf of composers and publishers.
  • Fixing the “Value Gap,” which allows digital services, such as YouTube, to profit immensely off music — yet share virtually none of that profit with creators.
(Source: Variety)

Before, only artists, managers, and record labels could measure the success of a musician on Pandora through key metrics. Through Pandora’s Next Big Sound Project - the data and analytics company it acquired in 2015—it has now made artist data open to everyone. Users can see the number of unique listeners enjoying an artist’s work on Pandora, compare the number of streams over time and track “Thumbs Up,” which measures audience engagement. (Source: Digital Music News)

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has published its Music Consumer Insight Report 2018, indicating that of those surveyed “35% say a main reason for not using a paid audio subscription is that anything they want to listen to is on YouTube.” In short, people don’t need to subscribe to a streaming service. They already have the tracks they want to listen to available for free on Google’s video platform. Paradoxically, this also harms YouTube’s own paid streaming music service.  (Source: Digital Music News)

The traditional label model is rapidly evolving. But what’s it rapidly evolving into? Across the board, artists are striking far more advantageous deals with traditional major and indie labels. Meanwhile, Spotify is rattling the cage with a handful of artist deals of its own, with serious advances reportedly extended. So what is a ‘label’ actually going to look like in five years? The quick answer is that artists and streaming giants have more power than ever, and the label hybrids of tomorrow will smartly play within that new landscape. That means working with Spotify, not against them, and delivering smart marketing, data analytics, and distribution services. (Source: Digital Music News)