True to a format with a reverence for things both established and groundbreaking, this year’s Triple A Convention promises to represent the format mightily. Hosted as ever by FMQB, this year’s chillaxing will include performances by nearly 3 dozen artists.
Attendees August 9-12 can get their mojito on, courtyard style at the St. Julien Spa and Resort. (Go big or go home right?) A format that caters to intelligent adults… well, they know their audience and their programmers. (Just remember the altitude, kids. Stay hydrated).
Equal parts class reunion, festival, and symposium, this year’s festivities promise to deliver once again. With appearances from nearly too many artist to mention, triple a-ers will have lots to chew on post-panel, including Spoon, Justin Townes Earl, LP, The Lone Bellow, The Band of Heathens, Portugal.the.Man. and dozens more. Good luck trying to pinpoint this convention…and format… after all these years.
This August also provides the opportunity for an audience with a Mt. Rushmore figure in format: David Dye (yes, that David Dye). Fresh from passing the mic to Talia Schlanger this past spring, Dye comes to Boulder armed with 25 years of reflection on hosting the legendary World Cafe.
Having begun his broadcasting career in Philly, at WMMR, Dye built a following early on as a tastemaker with a distinctly laid back presentation. Following a five-year stint in Maine, Dye was welcomed back to Philly at WHYY, and then WIOQ. Come ‘89, everything changed, when Dye landed at WXPN, hosting “Sleepy Hollow.” Called upon to explore whether or not a new musical format had legs, Dye was charged with spearheading the creation of a diverse, intelligent destination for radio listeners. And thus, the celebration of musical expression World Cafe was born. The now legendary and nationally acclaimed show reaches audience across over 250 public radio stations across the states.
So between the always informative panels, and the delightful drinks-served music meetings, programmers from across the US will have an audience with the likeminded Dye, sharing pearls. With such a vivid convention, lush with performances and panels, it’s hard to think of Triple A as the underdog it’s sometimes perceived to be. (it wasn’t until 2008 that Billboard began their Triple A chart). Boulder will once again provide the space for the music nerd herd to reflect, perfect, and rejoice in their diverse programming.
And hey, when you’re at The Fox, or in the courtyard, make sure you say “Hi” to Laurie Gail, Play MPE’s VP of Label and Radio Relations!
Music: The Gathering
The Gathering. The Multiverse is a boundless expanse of worlds, each different from the last. These worlds, called planes, differ as wildly as imagination allows. One plane might be covered entirely in dense jungle, while on another, nature may have been entirely replaced by a vast network of cityscapes. Neither are they united by common laws of physics: They vary from infinite expanses of matter to tiny specks of empty space to logic-defying inversions of reality.
Ok, so that’s from Magic, the Gathering… and not…The Gathering…. But, The Gathering, held in Louisville June 15-17 , finds the alt masses… well, gathering on the hollowed, hoof-trodden grounds of the legendary Kentucky Derby. There, they bask in 3 days of music, networking, commiseration, and frivolity amongst today’s brightest minds of Alternative music.
The Gathering is the brainchild of CO5 co-owners Tracy Brown and Todd Sievers along with the CO5 staff, all industry veterans.
Tracy Brown caught up with us about all things The Gathering. ”This is for the alternative radio format . The reality is that as music fans we all know that we may love a song but everything comes together and we actually love a band after we’ve seen their live show. That’s really what it’s all about.” Holla! And not just that– but to see a band in said environment? With your peeps? “It’s 3 days, we did 26 bands at 8 different venues. The thing is, labels like to showcase their artists and most of those showcases happen in NY or LA, both of which have hundreds of miles that you have to go before you find the first or the next alternative station. So for the amount of money these labels spend outside of the travel for them to get into the market which they would have to do regardless of whether they showcase in NY or LA, there’s no way they would put their band in front of this many programmers any other way but how we did it.”
We spoke about the unmistakable camaraderie that comes within that format. “It’s about the community that is the alternative format. We don’t have Gavin anymore, we don’t have R&R… every other format has a conference that’s geared toward them except for alternative. Myself, I’ve always been a huge fan of alternative music- those are the stations that I’m tuning into when I go into other markets and I love seeing these guys who don’t get to see each other very often- especially after they move around. Not just when they move around in markets but when they changed companies. So if you worked at CBS for a long time, and there’s CBS programmers meetings you get to see your buddies when you go there, but if you move to another job at another market, and you end up at iHeart or Entercom, you’re not seeing those guys anymore. So once a year, we’re bringing this community together, to hang out to talk, to watch music, to get to see each other and just go and have fun. We like these guys to be like Laurie Gail was. To come back and be like “Great music, and a great time. We were so excited to have Play MPE represented and showing. Laurie came, the company put up a banner. We had that banner at every event we did and a few times she’d be like “I’m not sure I like where my banner is. I’m like where you want it? you feel free to put that banner wherever you want it.”
It was no accident that Louisville was the chosen host: with its famous whiskey distilleries, racetracks, and of course the slugger, it’s a place where names are made. (I mean c’mon- they even kick off festivities sounding a ceremonious bugle at Churchill Downs). Tracy and the umbrella CO5 crew share a goal of building a “benchmark event to highlight rising artists and hold thought-provoking discussions about the challenges of today’s music industry.” The event draws alt fanatics across the worlds of promo, music supervision, blogging, and of course radio. Ross MacLeod, PD at Toronto’s CFNY shared high praise for the Alt love fest:
“First of all, it was one of the most organized events I’ve ever attended. I haven’t been to an event in a very long time that has your entire time planned for you with all of the things you’d want to do anyway! Secondly, I think the level of bands was amazing. Several of the bands left me wanting more. Isn’t that what we all want from our audiences – them to need more of what we provide? And finally, and equally as important, it was just great to see and hear the perspective of all sides of the business so we could develop a better understanding of how we can work together in different ways that benefits everyone.”
Tapped for performances this year across the notable venues including Churchill Downs are a treasure trove of alternative acts breaking through, all cleverly named, as is often the case in that world. (Silent Rival, VanLadyLove, The PictureBooks, Little Hurricane, and Juiceboxxx, to scratch the surface.)
Amidst the fervor of the music, is the chance to connect over something equally transcendent– a good old fashioned ball game. “There are no panels. There’s no music meeting. There’s no sizzle reel. There is a softball game. And I will tell you– these guys are dead frickin’ serious about it. Last year we didn’t have enough players so we had one player who just pitched to both teams. This year we had so many players that we divided teams up East coast, West coast and we will continue it that way. It was so big this year that next year we’re actually getting different colored baseball shirts and different colored caps for the teams. We want major league baseball caps that these guys can wear all year long, nothing with the pull tabs or the velcro clip and belt we have on this year. Let’s get ‘em real baseball caps. Let’s get real baseball shirts. They are so into that softball game and it’s a mixture. Its programmers, it’s promotion guys, some of the bands came out and played in it. We had some of the music supervisors come and play in it. It’s a really fun game and on the flipside since it rained all night and since it’s hot in June in Louisville , most of the ladies decided they were going to stay back at the hotel and have a very civilized breakfast in the air conditioning.” Also, holla.
Again, this is its own format. With a distinct band of programmers and a paradoxically well-defined and hard to pin-point audience. “This is alternative radio. It’s not pop radio. They need to know that the bands they’re gonna play and get a slot on their playlist which we all know is very coveted, we all fought for those slots, those bands when they come in their market, they can deliver for their listeners.” And serving that community, as Tracy says, takes a village.
“Certainly I managed and oversaw this but the entire CO5, Black Dog Music Marketing and MX 2 crew, everybody pitched in, everybody pulled their weight, everybody did what they had to do to make this happen. Some people had very special and specific talents that we put to use, to get this all together and other people just said whatever you think I need to do I’ll do. We are the sum total of all of us and this conference was amazing because I am surrounded by amazing people at this company who give a huge shit about how this is gonna come off and really put their heart and soul in it.” Now that’s… what I call alternative music.
Industry Spotlight: Michael Quvang – The Quay to Success
Every now and then, synchronicity in music means more than well-kept tempo and harmonies well rehearsed. On that rare occasion, it acknowledges a symbiotic relationship meant to be. And that’s certainly the case with regards to Play MPE’s match made with one man music marketing machine Michael Quvang. We had the pleasure of catching up with Michael about his role as Play MPE’s go-to Nordic man, and all that led up to it.
The son of a press photographer, the entrepreneurial and soft spoken Quvang moved around in an artist’s world as far back as his teen years. Musical himself, Michael channeled his passion towards the business side of things as a young man.
During a breezy walk amidst birds chirping near his house north of Copenhagen, Quvang was kind enough to share a bit about the trajectory that led to his more than appropriate role representing Play MPE to clients across Scandinavia and throughout Europe.
“I’m from a small island, called Bornholm. I started out in the music business in 83 as sales rep for this wholesale company selling cassettes and CDs – actually that was before CDs (laughs) – it was cassettes and vinyl.” Later and with a marketing education under his belt, Michael channeled his experience into marketing new releases from the record companies to the record stores.
Then he decided to take a break and went on a one year trip around the world, which landed him in Sydney, Australia and he stayed there for a period working at a restaurant on Circular Quay right across the Utzons Opera House. The restaurant was called Phantom of The Opera, so even here it had a touch of music.
“By the time I got back to Denmark, it was like ok what to do …my heart has always been with music. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 7 years old.” So, Michael reached out to his prior employer: ”They had acquired the mechanical rights to these well known Danish acts and needed a way to exploit it. Hence it was a distribution company only, a record company needed to be set up. And I suddenly saw my self in charge of that. The company was named Kick Music inspired by my recent stay in Sydney and INXS, but also due to the energy and urge to entertain in the name.
At that time in the early 90’s, TV commercials in Denmark were brand new and we were the first one to do a TV commercial for a Danish artist (John Mogensen). The market for this sort of marketing was wide open and the campaign and release became a massive hit. The seeds were sown and the company established for real, and we agreed that besides exploiting older material we should also focus on new material, and since my heart belongs to rock’n’roll, the path was obvious.
“One of the first things I did, and that was in the heydays of grunge, was a Danish band called Boghandle. They supported Mudhoney, those days with Nirvana and Mudhoney, and some other ones. I went to New York with them and sold them to most of the world on license basis.” That summer in ’92 we came back from NY and Boghandle as well as Nirvana played Roskilde Festival, and Denmark won the European Championship in soccer during the festival as well. What a summer!!!”
“I’ve been attending various music fairs like Midem, Popkomm, SXSW over the years both for meetings, networking and getting inspiration and for example, in Austin 2006 at SXSW and at Emos I just saw Gogol Bordello….and i went up to these guys backstage. A deal was made with Side One Dummy records and later in the summer of 2006 Gogol Bordello was playing Roskilde Festival.
“I managed the record company until 2008. At that time, I had a big roster with both international and Danish artists. The roster was a mix of licensed and distributed acts like Ida Corr, Gogol Bordello, Kaizers Orchestra, Gaslight Anthem, Jesse Malin, Richmond Fontaine, Eva Cassidy a.o. as well as homegrown artists such as Michael Falch, Mike Tramp, Nekromantix, Defectors a.o.
We were having a really big hit with Ida Corr and Fedde LeGrande, “Let Me Think About It’ … but I could tell we were not gonna make a decent income to cover the cost of promotion work and running a independent record company since it was all going digital and mostly through illegal filesharing or on services like Napster. Digital development at the time was still not fully realized and much of it consisted of piracy.
So, I went in the market and decided to sell the record company to Sony Music.” That summer of 2009, Kick Music now under the umbrella of Sony Music had 5 acts playing at Roskilde Festival, the largest in Northern Europe.
Following his time at Sony, Quvang began to explore various projects. “I started looking at all this DIY scene that was emerging around the music industry and decided to do some management and other consulting because these artists and these musicians still need proper tools; they still need proper people to work with them and actually get them out to radio, to press, and media and get them to the right promoters, and get them to the right everything, booking agents etc.” So what’s an entrepreneur to do?
“So, I started up this company called Music Quay. I settled in with Warner Music, still being independent but being able to use their distribution and promotion set up. Following the merger of Warner and Parlophone, Quvang needed to set up physical digs elsewhere.
At the time when I left my office at Warner Music, some artists contacted me and said What can we do and how do we get to radio. I said actually, I’m not a promoter but we have this really, really good tool called Play MPE…”
“At that time I didn’t have an appointment with Play MPE but I just filed a message on the web and the day after they called me. They had a look at my profile and said ‘Oh Michael, maybe we should talk some more.” And the rest is history. “That was the reason why I really started with Play MPE, because I could tell there was a market for this in Scandinavia, a need for this, a need for my company as well, and a chance for Play MPE to get more exploitation in Europe and Scandinavia. And then I ended up representing Play MPE because I could tell from the position I was in that this tool was needed in Denmark and Scandinavia …it’s obvious. ”
Besides Play MPE, Michael is also representing Nordic Wristbands in Denmark. The company delivers wristbands to festivals, venues, events a.o. But not only wristbands, the company embraces most things regarding access control and registration also with RFID/NFC. Michael also is partner for Scandinavia for the company Music2Deal, a network platform for artists and music business people.
Icon Mike Peters of the Alarm is the focus of the new documentary film Man in the Camo Jacket, and Play MPE couldn’t be more pleased to share music from the soundtrack. With proceeds going to 3-time cancer survivor Peters’ charity Love Hope Strength Foundation, the soundtrack includes the song “Strength,” featuring English Beat’s Dave Wakeling, Billy Duffy from the Cult, and Stray Cats’ Slim Jim Phantom. Given INGrooves motto “We power creativity,” the release feels a natural fit.
The film itself tells the story of the legendary Peters and his band’s rise in popularity, as well as Peters’ battle with cancer, ultimately leading him in 2007 to found Love Hope Strength, known as the world’s leading rock and roll cancer foundation. It was Peters’ vision along with co-founder James Chippendale that they would “save lives, one concert at at a time.”
The impassioned but direct approach of the charity meant funding not the broadly termed “research,” but rather to allow for the purchase of the nuts and bolts items like medical supplies, along with of course raising awareness through concert events and ultimately the surrounding media coverage. Such coverage has resulted from notable feats such as 2007’s “highest concert on land,” at Mt. Everest. Three million witnessed the celebration at 18,536 feet! There’s plenty of brawn and muscle behind the organization itself, too. Amongst the board members is Alex Coletti, former head honcho at MTV and legendary producer of Unplugged.
The foundation’s “Get on the List” campaign has brought attention to efforts to sign folks up for the International Bone Marrow registry. (LHS is onsite at countless concerts each year, making this happen. Just a quick “cheek swab” is involved). They’ve registered 129,000 music fans and counting, with 2,400 potentially lifesaving matches.
About to kick off dozens of shows as part of his U.S. tour, including Warped dates, Mike Peters is in the midst of a busy summer. Alongside Alarm dates are special events surrounding the release of Man in the Camo Jacket, including post-screening performances and an appearance at the Grammy Museum.
The film will be available on iTunes and VOD through XLrator Media. CEO Barry Gordon shared “This remarkable film shows Mike Peters to be not only a brilliant musician, songwriter and performer, but a tireless humanitarian who has dedicated his life to helping other cancer survivors through the charity he co-founded, the Love Hope Strength Foundation. Their work has helped thousands of people around the world. Mike is an inspiration to all of us to make the most of every day. We are so proud to bring this uplifting film to audiences who know Mike’s musical legacy or are discovering him for the first time.”
Head to your trustee Play MPE player to hear some tracks for yourself, including “Strength,” “Devil Inside”, top ten hit “45 RPM” and “Coming Backwards.”
How you like them apples?
“Folded into,” is a phrase heard more and more in this industry and age of consolidation. But sometimes, that phrase can represent more of synergistic marriage than a swallowed whole.
In a behemoth move amongst behemoths, Sony Music has consolidated its independent distribution with Play MPE partner The Orchard, and RED Music, worldwide.
The move means a literal move for current RED distribution folks who will head to The Orchard HQ in NYC. It’s part overall of Sony’s RED Essential now falling under Orchard umbrella in the UK. The change will see The Orchard employ over 300 peeps across 30 offices worldwide. The deal also makes The Orchard officially the largest distributor in the world.
The Orchard CEO Brad Navin will continue to man the ship, sharing “Our newly merged company is unique in structure, scale and reach. Coming together as one company that is both truly global and locally-focused will allow us to take the service we provide to our artist and label partners to the next level.”
The Orchard proudly lays claim to being the “only global comprehensive digital and physical distribution platform with its own delivery, sales, distribution and reporting systems built specifically for independent clients. With a single deal clients have the ability to deliver their music to every leading global and local digital and physical retailer and reach music fans around the world.”
Two decades in, as The Orchard’s messaging proclaims “We’re a 21st century distribution company with a global presence and a local feel.” From the start, The Orchard’s goal has been to provide independent artists with the ability to sell their music to mainstream audiences. As such, The Orchard naturally and quickly become the first independent distributor to hit one million paid downloads and streams.
Meanwhile, Sony RED will now morph into RED Music, a dedicated full service marketing agency and label services company. President Bob Morelli stated ““For our label and artist partners in the U.S., we are significantly multiplying the levels of quality service we provide with these exciting new changes.”
‘Stache Media, the indie marketing and promotion group stands along frontline label services group (formerly RAL), providing marketing, promo, and release planning to Sony backed labels and joint venture imprints. Launched in 2007 out of New York City in NY, they went on to put down roots in Nashville. They proudly lay claim to marketing efforts behind artists including Ingrid Michaelson, Santana, Shaggy, and Joey Bada$$ to name a few.
Sony reps have shared that they are giving independent labels a “single point of entry into a global distribution system with an end-to-end solution through the entire supply chain to digital services and retailers around the world.”
For releases across all corners of RED and The Orchard, of course log onto your handy dandy Play MPE Player.
It’s about the music. Sure, that’s an oft used tag-line preferred by programmers and imaging directors across multiple formats, but it’s also befitting of NON-COMM, one of the year’s most chill industry conventions. Officially named NON-COMMvention, with over 30 artists slated to perform, this year’s festivities promise to delight, as ever. True to form, the cast of characters is representative of format young bucks and torch bearers, from Blondie and the Pixies to Robert Cray and Laura Marling… and that’s barely scratching the surface of 17th Annual event taking place May 17-19th in Philly, hosted of course by WXPN.
We were pleased to catch up with WXPN’s Dan Reed about the big weekend, and asked him to talk about what makes this convention so different. “We’ve always wanted to keep the non-comm oriented to the stations and keep it friendly. One of our biggest goals is for everybody to have FUN. It’s busy-it’s a busy three days.” Asked about speakers this year, Dan continued
“Everybody’s tired and stuff, but there’s a lot of music to get to, there’s a lot to talk about. Psyched to have Dan Auerbach come in this year to our NON-COMMversation should be very interesting to talk to him. It’s gonna be great. The lineup is, I think, really solid. It’s another year we’ve sort of got this down to a science around here and it should roll nicely, hopefully.”
Upon being called “chill” in his overall approach, Dan laughed. “That’s the first time I’ve ever been called that. It’s a team effort here. That’s what we’re blessed with that maybe other conferences are not. We have a lot of people that work here at ‘XPN and there are a few key people that make sure it runs right. Ellen Oplinger, Paul Severin who are my production managers for this thing are fantastic. We’ve all done it for so many years, ya know? We know what to expect and everybody from top to bottom is into it. It’s all hands-on deck for those three days, so that makes it much, much, easier for everybody. It’s truly a team effort– there’s no doubt about it.
We asked Dan how he sees the evolution of the format and convention over the years.
Formatically, I think we’ve stumbled into something that works pretty well. You know, none of us had any experience back when I started in Louisville, but everyone’s into it. So, the people who come, it’s a friendly group. It’s a cooperative group. People like Non-Comm. Everybody has a stake in it, I feel like. So, a lot of people who have attended for many, many years feel a little bit of pride of ownership in it, as they should. So it’s been really organic. It’s grown organically. We’ve always tried to keep it about the music and about the stations and I think as long as we continue to do that, things will continue to go. I feel very fortunate that the record companies and the managers and the publicists and the artists feel like it’s a worthwhile endeavor, ya know? The hardest thing about it is whittling down the bands. It’s hard. We just try to go for balance, try to ascertain who’s got a buzz. I always wanna get a few like “wow” type of acts booked that people wouldn’t expect to see. But that’s the hardest thing about it. I could book three NON-COMMs if I wanted to. Or more. There are a ton of legitimate acts that would love to play and that’s flattering that people find it an important destination. Every year I have to deal with disappointing people and I don’t enjoy that. Most people understand though. It’s the way it goes. It’s a very competitive thing to get into.
Dan went on to explain the uniqueness of the format as well as the event.
When you get to Non-Comm radio, Our P1s give us money so the intensity’s up a little bit. The good thing about Non-Comm stations is most of the people who support these stations and are P1s and are members of our stations expect us to take chances to some degree. They expect us to play more new music. They expect us to make mistakes sometimes. Our hardcore listeners, people that really care about the station, understand it’s a continuous experiment trying to find the right kind of stuff to play. I find them very forgiving, the public radio audience. They certainly let you know what they think but for the most part they’re very loyal. That sense of ownership is there. They feel they are part of the family and they are. We say it all the time in fund drives- I mean we wouldn’t be here without our members. It’s imperative that we pay attention to them. The good thing about it is these are musically inquisitive people who want to be challenged by their favorite radio station and that makes it fun to program.
That carries over to the event itself.
I think the fact that we involve a small group of ‘XPN members who come in and get passes sort of ramps up the excitement a bit ya know? And the meetings every year are pretty good. When we started this thing I was saying I went to conventions and I thought they’re not really addressing #**# that I need to be concerned with in my Non-Comm world. It’s different– we have different concerns. So, we try to tailor the meetings as much as we can to our situations. We’ve got stations from the biggest media markets in the state and some of the smallest that come to Non-Comm, but we all have one thing in common: we’re Non-Commercial stations. We’re member supported stations. So, we’ve all got the same sort of concerns and challenges to keep the stations going, especially given the current political atmosphere. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen, so we’ve got plenty to talk about this year as far as that’s concerned. I think a lot of this idea exchange stuff takes place outside or in the hallways and stuff. The other thing about Non-Comm that I’m really proud of is that it gives an opportunity for some of the smaller media market sized stations to really talk to some of the bigger labels, some of the managers, some of the radio stations. It’s a pretty equal kinda thing here. We’re all in the same boat. That’s what it’s always felt like to me. Hopefully people agree with that. That’s very important to all of us that there’s an inclusiveness with this get together that you don’t get in some radio conventions. It’s reflective of our staff and certainly my philosophy. Inclusiveness is very important. As long as we can keep it at that level and keep that on the top of the agenda I think we’ll continue to be able to do this.”
Yeah, I think that’s a good bet. Make sure you say hi to Play MPE’s Laurie Gail in Philly! For the lowdown on all the festivities, head to http://www.xpn.org/events/non-comm
“The key to this business is personal relationships.” Jerry Maguire’s mentor Dicky Fox said it best. Mind you, he was referring to sports agents, and is also fictional…but he still nailed it. And the it in this case is record promo.
In real estate (incidentally, an oft chosen 2nd career choice for those in Music Industry Recovery), it’s “Location, location, location.” Let’s think “relationship, relationships, relationships.” And the key to most is empathy, right? One must consider the other person’s perspective in any relationship in life or else you end up alienating the very people you’re charged with winning over. While it’s not rocket surgery per se, there are some gentle reminders that may be helpful as one begins to navigate the swampy waters of promoting records to radio. (And yes, even if they are digital and are rarely represented in physical, they will forever remain “records.”)
Rule 1: Enlist Play MPE for your promotional distribution needs. (Well, duh.)
Rule 2: tied with Dicky Fox’s, above: This generally goes without saying, but… treat others as you’d like to be treated. Sure, it’s a vaguely sacrilegious rephrase of the main rule from the guy upstairs, and he certainly didn’t intend it as the “Golden Records Rule” …but it’s still key. Because it applies to everyone, in every scenario– including the gatekeepers. And by gatekeepers, we’re talking Caitlin who covers phones… Caitlin who stands between your getting on the phone with the MD during music calls and you’re getting on the phone with voicemail during music calls. (Keep in mind, Caitlin has also been known to move from transferring those calls to answering them down the road).
Rule 3: Think like a programmer. This means knowing your target audience and your programmer’s. From the promo person’s perspective, the audience is the programmer. Get in his shoes. Consider the mathematical equations facing the station each week. The number of “slots” available. Know that in many cases, for your record to be added to rotation, another must be dropped. Mind you, this is not to say you should ever badmouth the competition. Programmers can be sensitive souls, and it’s just uncouth to throw stones. Considering the numbers allows for realistic expectations. Consider too how your record will mesh with others on the playlist at a particular time. A station might be particularly ballad heavy at a given time, or have 30% unknown artists in their medium rotation, for example. That said- always remember the gift of the specialty show: Let there be spins! If you’re working a “baby band” –this is an affectionate term– you may wish to start by asking to reach the specialty host or AMD.
Rule 4: The KISS method: Keep it simple stupid. Programming radio is one of those “fun” jobs. And with such jobs can come a great deal of pressure from hovering or even absentee landlord style managers who have high expectations, largely because they think programmers listen to records all day and get wined and dined. Realistically, those high expectations can amount to short time availed for music calls. So, the easier you can make it for the programmer, the better. This can be as simple as trying to stay within call times, but over time as you build your relationships, that rigidity should fade like the last few seconds of a Steve Perry single. Bullet point your record’s growing story quickly– and never bury the lead. If you have ‘em, include call letters in your Play MPE sends. Include touring info, press highlights, social media stats. Keep in mind, though, the weight of each bullet tends to vary from station to station. (And now we’re back to “know your audience.”) Sure, it’s good info to know stations X and Y are on board with Johann Ripplesnipple’s first single, but you might be on the phone with a station that prides itself on charting its own course, (pardon the mixed metaphor), concerned most about in-market listener habits and in-market airplay.
Rule 5: Mediabase is your friend. Know your charts. Let your fingers do the walking and make sure you know who and what’s getting played where. This circle back to the “think like a programmer” rule. Be mindful of all as you make the pitch. Plus, to hear each of those chart toppers, you can click on the handy dandy Play MPE music logos.
The tip of the iceberg for sure, these 1-5 jumping off points as you dive into your quest for airplay. Tune in, as they say for more.
Islands in the Stream: Deezer
Launched in his bedroom in France in 2007 by then 23-year-old Daniel Marhely, streaming service Deezer now has over 12 million users across 180 countries, and boasts a catalog of over 43 million tracks. Deezer is also a friend to Podcast, with over 40,000 available to users.
Clearly a force to be reckoned with, Deezer is bound to make waves with scuttlebutt of their plans to switch to “artist centric” licensing, vs. “service” or “user” centric. As it stands now, the standard is service based – for the streaming peeps to divide up the revenue by way of the total tracks streamed, taking that number and multiplying that per stream rate by number of songs streamed for each artist. The user-centric form sees royalties are paid out based on each individual user’s listening habits, rather than the entire pool of monthly listening.
MIDiA Research’s Mark Mulligan helps us understand. “So if a subscriber listens 100% to Metallica, Metallica gets 100% of the royalty revenue generated by that subscriber.” This is counter to the existing sitch where “if Katy Perry accounted for 10% of all streams in a month, the 10% of that metal fan’s subscription fee effectively goes towards Katy Perry and her label and publisher”.
My brain hurts. Mulligan characterized label reaction overall as “cautious optimism“ in response to the rumored ponderings. “If Deezer is able to persuade the labels to put user- centric licensing in place, it will be another sign of increasingly maturity for the streaming market,” he shared. “User centric licensing could, and should, be just one part of getting streaming ready for another 5 years of growth.” It’s a complicated re-think, for sure, and brings to mind “long tail” marketing principles. MIDiA Research is a boutique media and technology analysis company focused “solely on the intersection of content and technology, working with both the biggest global companies and early stage startups.” MIDiA’s bevy of clients includes young upstarts like Viacom, Samsung, BBC Worldwide, Samsung and more.
Just as rumors are afoot re: this shift, Deezer has amped up promotion of Flow, the magic behind its programming. Flow is the name given to the playlists and suggestions resulting from users’ listening habits once compared with other network profiles. Expect to see campaigns reinforcing the Flow brand across the UK, Germany, France, and South Africa. Clearly always looking forward, Deezer’s chief commercial officer Golan Shaked shared “Flow is a product feature, but it really focuses on the fact that music streaming services have to evolve.” While available in more countries than Spotify, there’s no word yet as to when Deezer will be stateside. Stay tuned for developing news from Deezer’s developers!
While Sweden claim’s trees amongst its big money makers, wood pulp isn’t the only industry moving the needle, if you will. Additionally, with telecommunications and home goods accounting for growth in Sweden, the Scandinavian market overall has also been quite hospitable of late towards streaming music. (Sweden is, after all, home to Spotify). This past year saw a 6% sales increase overall in terms of money spent on recorded music in general, clocking in at $126m.
IFPI Sweden CEO Ludvig Werner said in a statement: “We have become accustomed to streaming services creating a much-awaited growth in the market in recent years, but it’s important not to forget how positive it is that in 2016 alone, it grew by around six percent.” Werner went on to comment regarding the nuances of the digital landscape.
“With ten years’ experience of streaming and the new economic possibilities it creates, we know how important it is for all of the food chain – composers to artists and record companies – that all music services are covered by the same regulations. For one service to negotiate with rights owners and pay 60-70 percent of revenues, while another service doesn’t need to negotiate and pays 8-10 percent, is clearly not sustainable.” We’ll let the lawyers duke that one out, but for now, at least things are on an upswing.
Nonprofit IFPI prides itself on being “the voice of the recording industry worldwide”, representing the interests of 1,300 record companies from across the globe. Their just published Global Report finds digital revenues surpassing physical for the first time, thanks to streaming. Speaking with Billboard, IFPI chief executive Frances Moore said that the industry’s upturn “hadn’t happened by chance…As an industry we’ve had years of investment and innovation to make it happen and we’re starting to see the shift now: from adapting to the digital age to actually driving the digital age.”
Alongside this increase, CD sales took a not 9% hit, tandem style. But not so fast, OG media naysayers…vinyl accounted for twice the cash of downloads, at a cool 5mil.
The Swedish portion of the musical pie? 28%. International artists make up that 72%.
A decade into streaming, Sweden clearly has found its sea legs. (No small thing considering streaming revenue represents over 80% of total cash spent on music.)
It’s worth noting that Spotify’s cofounder Daniel Ek was just named one of Time magazine’s “Titans” — named for “the huge impact that his company is having on the global music industry – with or without an IPO.”
Just as Sweden has been swimming in… well, streams, there’s been much downloading afoot in Denmark. In fact, music revenues overall have shown a spike this past year, at a not insignificant 9%. Spotify, Apple Music, and YouSee Musik brought in 54.6% million in 2016, according to IFPI. This accounts for 77% of music loot in the home of the Danes. IFPI reckons that YouTube is the destination for 59% of Danes looking to stream. Regardless of age, really. (Everyone from 16 to 70 knows there way around YouTube!) Mind you, in Denmark in 2016, YouTube accounted for only 2% of the business itself.
The Danes are trendsetters fo’ sho’. Known to be one of the world’s most digitally advanced markets, Denmark boasts a total streaming market share of 79.4% total market accounting for over 56 million in revenue last year. IFPI Denmark Chairman Henrik Daldorph has more than a few concerns on that front. Daldorph points to YouTube’s so-called “safe harbor” protections, asking that EU copyright step in and make reforms. Daldorph asserts YouTube is using outdated EU legislation to avoid paying for the very same music as competitors like Spotify, Apple, and YouSee Music. The Chairman asks, in the face of such competition, “Where is the incentive for further development of services?”
Nonetheless, times remain good. It wasn’t so long ago that this jump was even more pronounced. 2014 saw income from streaming services increase by 50%, generating nearly $38 million. Looking back just two years before, 2012 saw the pie split thusly: 25% streaming, 28% download, 43% CD’s. 2016 saw streaming gulp up 79 percent of the market to 9% downloads, and 6 % CD’s. LP’s continue to increase, rounding things out with a giant 93% leap last year, accounting for 4.8% market share. This past year marked the fourth in consecutive growth overall for the industry. Not too shabby!
Vinyl is enjoying a renaissance in Denmark as well, generating $5 million more in sales this year.
Kristoffer Rom, head of Danish Independent Labels told Denmarkbrazil.com, “It’s about vinyl’s tactile and visual qualities giving people a much-needed music experience, which allows for more modality than what the digital services have been able to provide.”
It’s clear that there’s room for everyone at the Nordic musical table, tactile or digital.