Friday, July 3, 2020

Adam Cruz Brings the Flavor with this Incredible Latin jam!


Mixtape Sessions is so proud to present "Quien SerĂ¡ Mi Santo," the exciting new single from Mixtape Sessions recording artist Adam Cruz! "Quien SerĂ¡ Mi Santo" is a sensational salsa jam from his third "Freedom" album. For this 2020 release, Cruz offers up the unreleased Mixtape Sessions Extended Vocal - just what your soul needs!

This version brings the song to new heights, showcasing Cruz's smooth vocal harmonies and spiritual chanting. Incredibly talented musicians Reynaldo Jorge and Jamal Littles offer up an impeccable horn section filled with energy and rhythm. As if it couldn't get any better, Mixtape Sessions collaborated with super producer and DJ Kiko Navarro on his latin house-flavored Afroterraneo Remix. Based out of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Kiko Navarro has been taking the dance world by storm with his signature afro-meets-latin-meets-dance soundscapes. For this release, Navarro cleverly speeds up the vocals and horns and delivering a dance floor stomper in the process. Don't miss a second of "Quien SerĂ¡ Mi Santo" - enjoy!

For more information about Mixtape Sessions and "Quien SerĂ¡ Mi Santo", visit:

Visit Adam Cruz on the web and tune in Fridays 10-3pm EST at:


Adam Cruz - Quien SerĂ¡ Mi Santo (Mixtape Sessions Extended Vocal)
Adam Cruz - Quien SerĂ¡ Mi Santo (Mixtape Sessions Instrumental)
Adam Cruz - Quien SerĂ¡ Mi Santo (Kiko Navarro Afroterraneo Remix)
Adam Cruz - Quien SerĂ¡ Mi Santo (Kiko Navarro Afroterraneo Instrumental)
Adam Cruz - Quien SerĂ¡ Mi Santo (Kiko Navarro Afroterraneo Beats)


Written and originally produced by Adam Cruz.
Vocals performed by Adam Cruz.

Trombones performed by Reynaldo Jorge.
Trumpets performed by Jamal Littles.

Kiko Navarro's Afroterraneo Remixes produced by Kiko Navarro for Afroterraneo Music at The Sincere Room, Palma de Mallorca.
Keyboards and drum programming by Kiko Navarro.

Mastered by Adam Cruz at EbbnFlow Studios, Bloomfield, NJ.
Published by Mixtape Sessions Music (ASCAP), Adam Cruz (SESAC) and Adam Cruz Music (SESAC).

Photography by Seyoni Cruz and Tamirah Cruz.
Cover design by Adam Cruz.
Executive Produced by Adam Cruz.

©2020 Mixtape Sessions Music, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Distributed by The Cruz Music Group, a Division of Mixtape Sessions Music, LLC.

Friday, June 26, 2020

A2IM Indie Week Dives Into Data: Mechanical Licensing Collective, What Numbers Matter Most & More

Written by Ed Christman — In the third quarter of this year, the still-being built Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) plans to launch its portal so that music rights holders will be able to scrutinize its data to ensure their copyrights are correctly listed -- a key ingredient in making sure everyone receives proper renumeration from streaming services.

That was one of many key developments discussed during A2IM’s IndieWeek, which is being held June 15-18. During this week, the trade group featured a slate of virtual panels aimed at helping indie labels traverse the exceedingly complex music business.

On Tuesday, since many indie label owners also own music publishing assets, the group’s CEO Richard James Burgessconducted a conversation with MLC CEO Kris Ahrend where Ahrend said that rolling out the portal ahead the MLC's official launch in January 2021 will allow copyright owners to “engage with data” and improve and correct that data where needed.

First royalty payments won’t go out until the spring 2021, so it sounds like copyright owners will have six months to ensure that the MLC song database -- which is supposed to matches compositions with recordings -- has the correct data, including ownership shares of each song.

Beginning in January, the MLC will license digital services that apply for a blanket mechanical license. And when it gets play reports from services, it will begin the process of sorting out payments to keep that spring 2021 timeline. But he also noted the MLC's work is never done. “Data is constantly changing,” Ahrend said, noting the creation of new works and new recordings of old works and the transfers of ownership through acquisitions and reversions.

“With whatever changes that occur, we want the data to make sure it is as current and accurate as possible,” Ahrend said. With copyright owners having the ability to monitor the database, their reward will be in “getting paid properly” -- something that was not always guaranteed under the old system before the blanket license.

Data Overload?

Later in the day was a panel on marketing in the digital age. With an onslaught of data from digital services, as well as metrics from social media and old-school music industry data like airplay and sales, labels have more tools than ever at their disposal in marketing their music, hence the topic of a seminar: “Drowning In Data.”

First off, its important to start by looking at historic data to help determine goals and which metrics to track in releasing new music from an artist, said Mariah Czap, the digital manager at Redeye, the Haws River, N.C.-based distribution company.

And since there is so much data now available, that means determining which data feed needs to be look at multiple times daily, like streams at accounts like Spotify and Apple Music, to which data only needs to be checked weekly or quarterly, added Lindsey Schapiro, senior director of digital marketing/streaming at Mom and Pop Records.

“This allows you to be efficient with your time,” Schapiro said. By comparing data from different feeds and comparing it to airplay, she said that can be used as a guideline to “show us to where to spend advertising dollars. In comparing data feeds, she said that streaming data might not follow airplay that closely but there is more of a connection between radio airplay and downloads. Czap added she sees a stronger connection between Shazam data and radio airplay.

Labels are not the only music industry component look at how different data feeds correlates, according to Czap. For example, she said looking at how the different types of data streams correlate now contributes into how artists routes tours.

Making Most of the Repertoire Data Exchange

With the emphasis still on data, a panel on the Repertoire Data Exchange informed indie labels how they too will soon have a tool that will allow them be the beneficiary of being able to collect neighboring rights revenue (master recording performance royalties) from around the globe.

Charlie Phillips, chief operating officer of the Worldwide Independent Network, said that RDx launched in March with the goal of getting better quality data to the various collecting management organizations around the globe. Up to now, collecting these type of royalties has been “a pain point” for indie labels because they may have a few offices but it's hard to cover the now more than ever global nature of the music business. “The key message today, here is a system that will solve a problem,” Phillips said.

“A track gets released in one country but it could be played the same day on a radio station on the other side of the world. How will an indie label get paid when that happens?

RDx, which is set up on Digital Data Exchange (DDEX) -- the music industry’s recording data and rights standards -- is “not trying to be a global database,” but is meant to be a data exchange, according to Matt Phipps-Taylor, chief operating officer of PPL, the U.K. collection organization for sound recordings that was chosen to run RDx. RDx will act as a hub, he said, passing data from labels onto licensing and collection organizations around the globe. Or if a label is still early in its development and doesn’t feel it has the tools to work in RDx, it can work with its own distributor or local collection organization to pass through sound recording data to RDx.

Where the RDx will come in handy is transmitting information back and forth on where there is conflicts in rights or if sound recordings are missing information. Moreover, the RDx will allow labels to monitor that their data reached the many collection management organizations around the globe, Phipps-Taylor said. Where there are data conflicts, RDx doesn’t resolve it but passes that information onto the various parties so they can resolve the conflicts among themselves.

IFPI chief technology officer Richard Gooch reported that in addition to selecting PPL as the technology partner, IFPI and Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) also asked four record label-oriented companies and four collection-management organizations to “spearhead” the user experience to make sure things worked properly, and they have been working through things for a full year already. “The testing was completed in March," he said.

In order to help RDx to get to the next phase, Phillips asked labels to lobby their local collective management organizations to participate in RDx. He also reminded labels, it's important to get their own data ready, whether they plan to participate directly or through their distributor or the local CMO.

After All, "It Is Your Data"

In the final panel of the day, Entertainment One senior VP of digital operations and innovation Bill Wilson reminded labels that it is always important for labels to maintain their own data and that includes WAV files of all the music they release. He warned that when searching for a distributor, always look for companies that allow you to retain and maintain your data, because, after all, “it is your data.”

Otherwise, you might get stuck with a distributor who doesn’t play nicely, if you decide to leave for another distributor. He then proceeded to tell the story about a label that had to take on the onerous task of creating new WAV files for all of its music and rebuild the metadata when swapping distributors.

How to Value Assets:

Earlier in the day, former Concord chief operating officer Glen Barros, who earlier this year started a new company called Exceleration Music, hosted a panel on how to value assets. During it, he ran through all the financial ratios that investors look at when buying at stake or acquiring music assets outright; or that owners measure when considering selling or looking to raise money through debt.

While running through key valuation terms, Barros also explained what kind of investors would rely on which ratios more heavily. This included spending time on the main headline multiples that acquisitions are usually quoted at, among them net publisher’s share, and the more complicated net label share.

He also looked at how genres and age of the copyrights play into the valuations.

Indie Publishing Is Heating Up. What Does That Mean for the Music Business?

Written by Samantha Hissong — Last week, the ASCAP Pop Awards — a major songwriting awards show, closely watched by the entire music business — awarded Publisher of the Year to independently owned music company Kobalt. Considering that Kobalt’s songwriters helped write smash hits of 2019 like Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” and Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Old Town Road” remix, its win isn’t exactly a surprise.

But Kobalt beat out the behemoth publishing arms of the three global music majors Universal, Warner, and Sony. In his 20 years of attending the awards, Kobalt founder and chairman Willard Ahdritz says, he’s never seen any other independent publisher take that crown, which honors songwriting in major pop hits.

When Ahdritz founded Kobalt two decades ago in London, he didn’t want it to just be a publisher: Kobalt is a “service company aligned with creators that used technology to deliver transparency and data,” he tells Rolling Stone. Ahdritz saw the transition to a streaming-based world as a “win-win-win” for publishers, because they could work with tech companies and create new value for fans and rights-holders alike. To that end, Kobalt’s first-of-its-kind app provides creators with real-time data at their income, sync activity, and music activity, and the company strives to establish trust and fairness with its songwriters.

“When streaming becomes a larger and larger share of your income, it’s more transparent because it is what it is,” adds Kobalt’s CEO Laurent Hubert. “You can see it, you can monitor it… There are more opportunities, and frankly, there are more choices today as a creator.” Team Kobalt also allows songwriters to get royalty advances from an online portal — a feature it launched 10 years ago that has proven more valuable than ever in COVID lockdown. “With five clicks, you could take out money if you needed to,” says Ahdritz. “Historically, it would take me three to six months to renegotiate your contract.”

While Kobalt’s coup at the ASCAP awards show is a milestone for the company, it’s also one of several recent triumphs for independent music companies in general. Executives across music publishing tell Rolling Stone that the idea of “going independent” has clearly gained steam in the last several years — in tandem with the rise of streaming — and that the trend is visible in hirings patterns, awards, and chart positions. Writers’ publishing contracts have also gotten shorter in time length, allowing for an “entry point” for indie companies to swoop in, one source says. And a recent MIDiA analysis and a report released earlier in 2020 show that independent music is growing at four times the rate of the music industry, with indie artists possibly generating more than $2 billion in records and publishing by the year’s end.

“We’ve had seven Number Ones in four or five months,” says Scott Cutler, co-CEO of indie music publisher Pulse. “They span genres… Top 40, Country… And we have five more right behind them that are going up.” Pulse, he says, just witnessed the best six months in its 10-year history.

“Independent companies are attractive to writers because we are able to be more scrappy and hands-on, which is due to keeping our roster lean in size,” says Prescription Songs’ head of West Coast A&R Rhea Pasricha. (Prescription, which has had a hand in some of Dua Lipa’s biggest hits, lives under the Kobalt umbrella.) “We always say ‘we have an independent hustle, but with major muscle.’ That hustle comes from our in-house team of A&R and sync creatives, backed by the muscle of our partnership with Kobalt and their global reach and resources.”

Execs also say the very definition of the word “independent” suggests a willingness to embrace change — and that in an ever-changing marketplace, smaller-scale operations have an easier time roll with the punches than major corporations, which is attractive to talent.

Cutler believes that the differences of “indie vs. major” don’t really matter anymore, and that this destigmatization alone shows the growth of indie work. He adds that distinctions often seem arbitrary and at times unfair — pointing to the fact that Kobalt won the Publisher of the Year award but BMG won the Independent Publisher of the Year Award, even though the latter has millions of songs under its belt.

ASCAP did not respond to request for comment on whether any indie companies have won its tentpole award in the show’s 37-year history. BMI, whose yearly publishing award rivals ASCAP’s, only offers one award but expanded the eligibility rules in 2017 to take various new kinds of publishing deals into account. The organization “previously calculated Publisher of the Year based on the number of songs owned by a publisher, with a few independent publishers winning,” but now has a more level playing field, a rep tells Rolling Stone.

Indie publishers’ flexibility have become one of their biggest selling points. Kobalt in particular prides itself on the personalization of its contracts. Ahdritz says he has no interest in locking a client into a long-term, binding contract like a major might: “I’ve always said, ‘If you don’t want to be here, you don’t need to.’ And our retention rate has been 98%. People say, ‘I have freedom but I want to be here.” Ahdritz adds that 40% of signings come from Kobalt writers recommending the team to other writers. “I think they need all the trust, support, and security they can get, because their operational business is usually the opposite,” he says.

Hubert also points to Kobalt’s love for administration deals, which tend to offer writers less money up front but give them more control, because they focus more on royalty collection and copyright registration than creative and marketing services.”We represent about 600 smaller music publishing companies — and we do a lot of the work for them, especially on the administration side. So, in some ways we are also an incubator for that independent sector to continue to grow and diversify,” Hubert says.

A Downtown Music Publishing rep tells Rolling Stone: “The whole construct of ‘indies versus majors’ feels like such an antiquated way of thinking about the industry. What does that even mean in a world where creators can retain the rights to their work, in addition to being able to record, distribute, and promote their music themselves?” This week, Downtown welcomed former Warner/Chappell U.K. managing director Mike Smith as its new global president — muddying the divide between major and indie at the executive tier as well.

Downtown has seen more and more “indie” songwriters working with major artists, such as Cautious Clay having three songs on John Legend’s new record, Anthony Rossamando writing with Lady Gaga for “Shallow,” and Tee Romano writing Chris Brown and Young Thug’s recent release. “It begs the question, what constitutes an indie songwriter?” says the rep. “Is Ryan Tedder an indie songwriter? He penned the Jonas Brothers’ ‘Sucker,’ ‘XO’ and ‘Halo’ for Beyonce, ‘Rumor Has It’ by Adele, among other massive hits. He also happens to be repped by Downtown Music Publishing.”

“I would argue that the ‘major versus indie’ framework models other shifts we’ve seen in recent years — digital-first streaming platforms like Netflix versus cable and traditional TV, or social media versus. traditional media,” the rep continues. “In these cases, the challenger has managed to become more directly competitive.”

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Coronavirus: Travis McCready plays America's first gig in months

Written by Mark Savage — The gig, in Arkansas, offered a glimpse of how live music could resume in the UK, with compulsory temperature tests and social distancing for all present.

Concert-goers were required to buy seats in clusters, branded "fan pods", and large areas were roped off.

"It's just nice to be doing something that's normal," said one attendee.

McCready's concert was originally scheduled for Friday, 15 May, in Fort Smith, Arkansas, but Governor Asa Hutchinson said it failed to meet the state's public health standards.

The venue - a former Masonic temple called TempleLive - was threatened with a cease-and-desist order and had its alcohol licence revoked.

But after making adjustments to their concert plan, the venue received permission to stage the concert on Monday night.

Under the state-approved plan, all employees and audience members over the age of 10 were required to wear face coverings, and performers were instructed to maintain a minimum distance of 12 feet from the audience.

The state also allowed TempleLive to have 239 people seated in the 1,100-seat venue.

'Fight for your right'

After receiving the go-ahead, representatives from the venue maintained they had delayed the concert against their will.

"This is about rock and roll, and having a good time, and live music, and being out with your peers, and doing what you do as an American: You get out, you do things," Mike Brown told reporters at Arkansas TV station KFSM-TV.

Speaking to the New York Times, Mr Brown also argued that concert venues were being held to stricter standards than other public gatherings.

"If you can go to a church and it's a public assembly, there is no difference," said Mike Brown, a representative for Temple Live. "How is it OK for one group to have a public meeting, and it's not OK for a music venue to have the same opportunity?"

State officials argued that a concert was more dangerous than a religious gathering because it was more likely to attract visitors from out-of-town.

When the show finally went ahead on Monday night, Mr Brown greeted the audience by playing the Beastie Boys' Fight For Your Right (To Party) before introducing support act Lauren Brown.

McCready took to the stage later, without referencing the strange circumstances. Nonetheless, fans seemed to appreciate the show.

"We're happy to be here," said LaLisa Smiddy, who drove four hours to attend the concert.

"I'm one of the more paranoid ones out there, and when I saw everything this venue has done, I was ready to come," she told the New York Times. "I think they've done an outstanding job."

Post-Pandemic Music Industry Predictions: The Great Divide Between Embraced And Impacted

Written by Brian Penick — It’s 4:00 a.m. and I’m lying awake thinking about work. But this time isn’t just about my business, it’s about ours––specifically, what the “new normal” of the music industry will look like after COVID-19 is officially in the past.

Many great articles are being written about how musicians can survive these unprecedented times, from how to host live concerts, learn platforms like Twitch and how fans can support artists, among others. I’m curious how our industry will embrace and respond to change––something we historically have not been the best at dealing with, as evidenced by the transition from physical sales to streaming, adopting new technologies, music licensing rights and countless other scenarios.

Based on conversations with everyone from artists to investors and my 20-plus years experience working in music (as a musician, in startups and venture capital), here is the first of a series in my predictions for the post-pandemic music industry.

“Creatives” are often thought of as lacking business skills, which is a myth I hope to contribute towards debunking. In my time working to develop artists, from indie to platinum-level, the most successful have been the most entrepreneurially minded. Regardless of where an artist may sit on the business spectrum, I believe this period of change will produce two types of musicians: the “Embraced” and the “Impacted.”

The Embraced musician is an entrepreneur birthed out of necessity. Living by the creed of “desperate times call for desperate measures,” these individuals will find every opportunity to sustain their careers. Performing livestream concerts at home, video messaging with fans, custom songwriting for hire, teaching lessons online, continued education or even writing a catchy pandemic-themed song are all creative outlets to explore. The Embraced musician will create an opportunity out of what others deem a crisis. 

The Impacted musician, however, will not fare as well. While everyone has their own unique circumstances and privilege that need to be taken into account, there will be some musicians who objectively view the pandemic as a brick wall that cannot be climbed. The desire may be there, but the motivation to put need into tangible action may be lacking. This, unfortunately, is something I have experienced with several of my (previous) artist clients, ultimately preventing talented musicians from finding success. 

Regardless of their reasoning, the Impacted segment will have an even more difficult time post-pandemic casually reapproaching music, from repetitive live performances to infrequent social media marketing and unwillingness to adopt new technology. Musicians who continue with the “business as usual” philosophy will be further distanced from those who embrace the change. The real question is: what type of musician are you?

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Liquid Sound Lounge's own Jeannie Hopper Interviews Adam Cruz - talking #FreeTheMusicBusiness

Jeannie Hopper sat down with Adam Cruz a year ago to discuss his timeless book "Free The Music Business: Tips and Tales from an Indie Music Nerd".

They discuss the good, the bad and the ugly in navigating the indie dance music industry. It's a great read whether a 'newbie' or a veteran house head, for fans and/or industry heads. It's a window into the importance of community which is at the center of the multitude of tribes that cross over through the music and culture of dance. And the book offers a personal and insightful view into the evolving business of music in the digital age from a dance music industry insider. 

The book is written by Adam Cruz, Edited by Amanda Frontany and Illustrated by Jose Gonzalez and available HERE.

↓ click on the play button below to listen to this interview. ↓

Monday, April 20, 2020

Philly DJs are still spinning — now virtually — but some platforms are cutting the music during coronavirus pandemic

Written by Cassie Owens — He was going with the groove. He couldn’t say what he was going to play next. Bobby Flowers, who used to go by DJ Lean Wit It, has held multiple party events and when the coronavirus hit, he didn’t want to put those nights on ice.

So you could go on Instagram and catch Hips and Uptempo, dance parties where he plays beats from throughout the African diaspora. You could until this week, anyway.

At the last IG Live party, on Tuesday, he improvised a mix that included house, Afrobeat, and hip hop; Spanish, English, and Yoruba. Instagram cut him off five times in a single hour, and now he’s vowing to find another platform.

By text, he explained why he just can’t on Instagram anymore: “Every time they cut it I was trying to figure out what record wouldn’t be cut.”

At a time when norm after norm has been lifted out of touch and onto the internet, recorded DJ mixes and livestreamed sets have become regular fixtures. Some Philly DJs said they do so to spread joy during a period of dread. Unlike the musicians performing virtual concerts with their own material, DJs offering the experience of a decentralized house party can have it shut down in an instant over issues with copyright.

Ash Kernen, a Kensington intellectual property and entertainment attorney, cited two reasons why marathon celebrity livestreams are happening with ease: Record labels, social media apps, and streaming platforms all could be pleased with six-figure audiences enjoying these events, or they could be trying to avoid “disastrous” press for ruining the fun during a dark time.

D-Nice, who popularized these pandemic streams with #ClubQuarantine on Instagram Live, has spoken with reporters about Mark Zuckerberg appearing in the comments. The DJ asked Zuckerberg not to cut the feed.

“I think we were at 95,000,” D-Nice told the Los Angeles Times. “People were commenting: ‘Mark, you need to take care of the algorithm here, baby!’ I started yelling into the mic: ‘Mark, c’mon, Mark! We don’t want this thing to crash!’ And then Zuckerberg posted: ‘You got this.’ ”

Depending on the platform used, explained Kernen, digital DJ sets require licensing for the composition and the master recording, and this nuances depending onhow it’s used. Video streams call for synchronization rights, the same rights needed to include an artist’s song in a TV commercial, as well as a master use license. Turntablists, Kernen continued, would need to seek permission from each rights holder — and that can include publishers, record companies, among other entities — on every song played. DJs don’t have a single institution where they can receive a license that would cover all the rights necessary, Kernen said.

“Frankly, it’s sort of the Wild Wild West right now when it comes to the licensing landscape,” he said.

The sole platform that Kernen has seen where DJs can upload sets without issue is MixCloud, a platform that only plays longform audio and limits how users can rewind and replay. And Diplo, who is paying royalties for his Corona Tour, has been a outlier. Since many DJs lack the time and resources to acquire the rights for every clip, Kernen has observed that many DJs are simply facing the consequences of having their streams yanked. Others, given the times, are appealing for leniency.

Many platformshave content identification systems that recognize copyrighted material, but DJs might “outsmart the algorithm,” Kernen said, if they give the song a different sound.

DJ Diamond Kuts, who spins for Philadelphia on Power99 every morning and is known for speeding up beats into high gear, hasn’t had too many issues on Instagram. She threw a virtual party this week called The Cookout. Fans prepared food. Someone streamed as they made a puzzle. One woman listened as she blew a hookah.

Diamond Kuts has done livestreams before at the radio station.

“The difference between now and then is that being live from your house — it feels more special. It feels more intimate, you know what I mean?” said Diamond Kuts, who grew up in West Oak Lane. “Everybody’s at home.”

Since it’s not radio, she doesn’t have to play all the biggest records of the day. She can go back in time, to the ’70s, the ’90s, whatever she likes. Since it’s not a club, she can’t check the energy in the room for a sign of what song should come next.

“All you can do is go off people’s comments. So it’s different because you’re reading and you’re trying to feed off of what they’re saying through your phone,” she explained. “I have to read the comments to see if people are really rocking with it, or see how many hearts I’m getting.”

She plans to keep up the livestreams two times a week. Due to the pandemic’s impact, she’s had 11 gigs postponed, one has already been rescheduled to 2021. Jason Weiss, DJ and owner of Double Down Entertainment, a booking agency for DJs that focuses on events in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, said his agency has lost 300 events so far.

“We were just looking for something to keep ourselves from going insane, and keep ourselves staying sharp on what we do,” said Weiss, explaining why they’re posting mixes daily to SoundCloud from a lineup of big-name DJs. “More importantly than anything, that we had a lot of industry friends and family and a lot of bartenders and operators and venue owners that are really kind of struggling right now.”

The collective 24HRPHL, an advocacy group that focuses on Philadelphia nightlife, has produced a directory of resources for workers in the nighttime sector. Cristina Caudill, who DJs as Cristiña and is an advocate at 24HRPHL, said the livelihoods of workers were among her biggest concerns, particularly for those who don’t work other jobs. She’s also worried about smaller venues.

“Will they make it?” she wondered aloud. “Will everybody make their mortgages? Will these places be there for us after this is said and done?”

Michael Fichman, founder of the 24HRPHL who DJs as Michael the Lion, echoed Caudill’s concerns. He hopes that Philadelphia can follow in Berlin’s footsteps. There, one initiative has used livestreamed DJ sets to raise $1 million for the city’s club scene.

While it’s too early to define the exact impact of the pandemic on livestreaming, analysis from MIDiA Research, a UK data and consulting firm following streaming trends around the world, suggests that streaming services can expect subscriptions if the economic outlook stays grim.

“Music streaming levels are up in some markets but down in others,” according to a recent MIDiA Research report. “Italy has seen a decline because a) the commute has gone, and b) people are spending more time watching and listening to news.”

Fichman favors a coordinated fund-raising initiative. He spoke of everyday livestreaming with less optimism.

“Trying to make money off streaming is like running around with a pint glass in a rainstorm,” Fichman said.

Flowers, who is hoping to get back to sharing his DJ sets online next week, said people who can support DJs in this moment should do so.

“Donate. Hit their Cash App. It can be something as small as $1,” Flowers said. “Realizing that we may not be able to work for the next two to however many months is a scary place for a lot of us to be in.”

Click here to read from this article's source.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Would Apple actually be crazy enough to kill the Beats brand? It’s complicated.

Written by Michael Simon — Out of all of the companies Apple has purchased over the years, Beats was the most perplexing. Not only was it a whopping $3.2 billion, it also brought a highly recognized brand under the Apple umbrella, along with some very high profile personalities, including Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre, and Trent Reznor, all of whom have moved on from prominent roles within the company.

But it all kind of worked. At the time, the brass ring in the Beats purchase wasn’t the ultra-trendy cans, it was the Beats Music subscription service that had a small but loyal cadre of listeners. Barely a year after the acquisition was finalized, Beats Music morphed into Apple Music, and some 60 million subscribers later, it clearly worked out. Apple Music is one of the premium listening experiences out there, with plenty of room to grow.

Over the years, Apple Music has basically extinguished any trace of the soul of Beats Music. While some visual throwbacks remain and the hand-curated playlists are still a thing, Apple Music is most definitely a product for Apple users. Yes, there’s an Android version, but Apple doesn’t market Apple Music to buyers of the original Beats in any way. In fact, you won’t even find a single mention of it on the Beats by Dre site.

You will, however, find headphones. Lots of them. Since Apple’s acquisition, Beats has actually expanded its headphone offerings and now sells nine different sets of headphones, ranging from the wired urBeats 3 for $60 to the Studio 3 Wireless for $350. But there’s no mistaking the Apple influence. The Powerbeats Pro charge with a Lightning cable. The new Powerbeats have Apple’s H1 and W1 chip for easy pairing, and support hands-free Siri commands. And of course, purchase buttons on the Beats website send you straight to the Apple Store.

And that’s where you’ll find Apple’s own offerings: AirPods and AirPods Pro. For $159, $199, and $250, you can buy a pair of Apple’s extremely popular and instantly recognizable true wireless earbuds that pair instantly with your iPhone and offer more than 24 hours of listening time with their charging case.

Now there are strong indications that Apple is looking to expand its line of headphones. Rumors have been circulating for months about Apple’s over-ear headphones, but a recent flurry of reports seems to indicate that they will be arriving sooner rather than later. First, there was a leaked Target product listing for AirPods (X Generation). Then 9to5Mac uncovered an icon in an early iOS 14 build that depicted an unreleased pair of studio headphones. And finally, Jon Prosser on Twitter teased the WWDC launch of Apple’s over-ear headphones for WWDC and AirPods X “for sports/running” later in the fall.

But Prosser also threw in an intriguing bit of commentary as part of his leak: “End goal: phase out Beats.” Prosser told Macworld that his source pitched that as the “long-term” goal, so it’s not like he’s saying it will happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, 9to5Mac has since thrown some cold water on Prosser’s claim, saying that killing Beats “is not (a strategy) that should be viewed as being on the table for Apple.”

But I think they’re both right. No, Apple isn’t going to shut Beats down tomorrow or even this year. But yes, it’s the plan for the future. Even if we reach the day where Beats doesn’t exist anymore, its DNA is forever entwined with Apple’s.

Apple’s beating drum

Apple has owned Beats for the better part of six years now, and it’s clear that the purchase has more than paid off. Apple Music and AirPods have obviously borrowed liberally from Beats’ audio IP, but its effect can also be felt on HomePod and the speakers on the MacBook Pro. Maybe it’s audio output is too bass-heavy, but there’s no denying the impact Beats has had on Apple’s product line.

It’s true that Apple still makes money every time a pair of Beats headphones is sold, but it’s such a small piece of Apple’s sizable pie, it barely matters. At its peak, Beats was making $1.5 billion in revenue a year. Annual revenue is likely well under a billion now, however, which works out to around $250 million a quarter, little more than a rounding error on Apple’s balance sheet.

But still, Beats is a very visible brand. Athletes, influencers, and musicians can still be seen wearing them, even if most of them have AirPods too. So getting rid of the brand entirely wouldn’t go unnoticed.

But as Apple continues its push into “hearables” and supplants more of Beats’ popular products with its own version, more and more of the luster will begin to fade from the Beats brand. Even with an eye-watering price tag, Apple has already gotten its money worth from its Beats acquisition. I agree with Prosser that it’s just a matter of time.

Besides, Apple already begun phasing out non-iPhone users with Siri and Lightning on Beats’ most popular earphones, and if that becomes the norm, fewer and fewer Android users are going to buy them. And once that happens, few people will even notice when Apple pulls the plug on the once-iconic brand.

No matter what, Beats will forever be a part of Apple’s audio makeup. Dr. Dre and Trent Reznor may be long gone, but the impressions Beats has had on Apple will last far longer than the “b” logo.

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YouTube reportedly working on TikTok competitor called Shorts

Written by Julia Alexander — YouTube used to be the cool kid on the block, but then TikTok showed up and everything changed. Now, YouTube is looking to compete directly with the short-form, user-generated content app by reportedly launching its own version called “Shorts.”

Shorts will allow people to upload brief videos into a feed inside the mobile app, much like TikTok, and take advantage of licensed music that YouTube Music has in its catalog, according to The Information. Those songs can be used within the videos. TikTok operates by letting people choose from a selection of audio, music and otherwise, and create videos using those sounds. MSNBC’s Dylan Byers added additional confirmation on Twitter shortly after The Information’s report went live.

Take a look at any state-of-mobile report and it’s pretty obvious why YouTube wants a piece of the action. TikTok saw more than 125 percent in growth over the last two years, according to a January report from App Annie. The app has hundreds of millions of users and is a cultural force. The Information noted that TikTok had approximately 842 million first-time downloads from both Apple and Google’s app stores over the last 12 months — a 15 percent increase year over year.

This isn’t the first time that YouTube has developed its own version of a popular feature on another social platform. YouTube also brought over its version of Instagram Stories to the site. Considering its massive user base (more than 2 billion monthly active users) and its deep music licensing agreements, building a version of TikTok isn’t surprising. Facebook has also developed its own version of TikTok — Lasso — which they’ve been quietly testing in markets like Brazil, according to The Information.

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Music Streaming Is Down in the Time of Social Distancing

Written by Emily Blake — As the spread of COVID-19 isolates more and more Americans in their homes, many thought that they would be coping by streaming more music — and, in turn, helping to soften the inevitably catastrophic blow that the pandemic will have on the music industry.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case so far.

According to numbers from Alpha Data, the data analytics provider that powers the Rolling Stone Charts, streams in the United States actually fell last week, failing to offset a far more grim downturn in album sales.

During the week of March 13th through March 19th — the week restaurants and bars across the nation closed and more Americans self-quarantined — streams dropped 7.6 percent, to under 20.1 billion. Programmed streams on services like Pandora dropped 9 percent to just under 3.5 billion, while on-demand streams (audio and video) dropped 7.3 percent to 16.6 billion. Dropoffs off this magnitude are rare, with the exception being the week after Christmas, as listening starts to return to normalcy after a busy streaming week.

Digital song sales didn’t fare much better, dipping 10.7 percent to 3.9 million — the first time they’ve dropped below 4 million in the four years since Alpha Data started tracking these sales.

These drops coincided with a far bleaker — yet more anticipated — drop in album sales. Physical sales plummeted 27.6 percent last week, while digital album sales dropped 12.4 percent. And it’s bound to get worse in the next few weeks, as Amazon announced mid-last week that it was halting new shipments from U.S. music providers until April 5th to prioritize in-demand essentials like household products and medical supplies.

For those who did turn to streaming last week, numbers from Alpha Data show a shift in the kind of music they gravitated toward. New songs — those released within the past eight weeks — dropped 14.5 percent, which is about twice the drop-off for catalog songs, released 18 months ago or earlier. Similarly, the most popular music saw a decrease notably higher than music overall, with the top 500 songs pulling in 12.9 percent fewer streams last week than the top 500 songs the week prior.

Listeners were less likely to stream pop, rap, R&B and Latin music, as those genres saw dropoffs higher than the overall trend. But three genres actually saw an increase in streams: Classical (up 1.5 percent), folk (+2.9 percent) and children’s music (+3.8 percent).

With the live music industry at a standstill for the foreseeable future, artists will inevitably rely more and more on streaming to get by. An online petition started by musician Evan Greer urged Spotify to triple its royalty rates to artists, saying, “This is a moment when Big Tech companies need to do their part to help.”

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