Streaming is now the biggest revenue stream for the music industry in the US, generating $2.4 billion in 2015. The RIAA has released its report on the state of the US music industry in 2015, and streaming music has edged out digital downloads in revenue for the first time. After declining last year, the music industry as a whole grew once again in 2015, selling $7 billion worth of music, a 0.9 percent increase from the year prior. Despite declines in digital downloads and physical sales, streaming music has managed to keep the industry on an upward trajectory.
"In 2015, digital music subscription services reached new all-time highs, generating more than $1 billion in revenues for the first time, and averaging nearly 11 million paid subscriptions for the year," RIAA CEO Cary Sherman said in a memo sent out with the report. "Heading into 2016, the number of subscriptions swelled even higher — more than 13 million by the end of December — holding great promise for this year."
The writing has been on the wall for a while, though streaming has edged out digital downloads only by a small portion (0.3%) in the US in 2015.
Count this as another instance of Apple cannibalizing one of its businesses to keep up with the times – we could argue that Apple Music was launched just in time amid a declining trend, without an ad-supported model that the RIAA clearly doesn't like.
(I wonder if YouTube will accelerate the international expansion of YouTube Red anytime soon.)
In a blog post discussing layoffs and the evolution of music streaming services, Sonos CEO John MacFarlane included a cryptic final section on voice recognition and Sonos products:
We’re fans of what Amazon has done with Alexa and the Echo product line. Voice recognition isn’t new; today it’s nearly ubiquitous with Siri, OK Google, and Cortana. But the Echo found a sweet spot in the home and will impact how we navigate music, weather, and many, many other things as developers bring new ideas and more content to the Alexa platform.
Alexa/Echo is the first product to really showcase the power of voice control in the home. Its popularity with consumers will accelerate innovation across the entire industry. What is novel today will become standard tomorrow. Here again, Sonos is taking the long view in how best to bring voice-enabled music experiences into the home. Voice is a big change for us, so we’ll invest what’s required to bring it to market in a wonderful way.
I have no idea what MacFarlane is trying to say here – it could be an Echo/Sonos integration on the horizon (possible with a firmware update) or future Sonos hardware with voice tech built in (seems more likely given the overall tone of the post). "Taking the long view in how best to bring voice-enabled music experiences into the home" doesn't mean much, but I'd love to ask Alexa to play music on my Sonos.
I've long been a fan of Shazam – I use it daily to discover songs I hear on movies and TV shows. Version 9.4, just released on the App Store, finally brings a way to keep recognized songs available on all devices through a Shazam account.
Over the years, I've lost hundreds of tagged songs between clean installs of iOS and Shazam. It's good to know this will no longer be a problem. Version 9.4 has currently rolled out for Shazam Encore only, but I assume the free Shazam app is getting an update shortly as well.
The chords were promising, and Kurstin and Adele were able to write most of the song that day. But they couldn’t finish it. “We tried different choruses, but we didn’t quite nail it,” he says. “And I didn’t know if we ever would. I thought maybe this one was going to end up on the shelf.”
But Kurstin was called back six months later to finish the song. He used Logic Pro X instruments and plug-ins to enhance the bass line and drums. More radically, he lowered the entire song a half step at Adele’s request. “We tried really hard with a bunch of different ideas,” he says. “And we finally got it right.”
Don't miss the photos and details on Kurstin's Logic Pro X workflow at the bottom.
Fun – and informative – look at GarageBand by The Verge, featuring T-Pain. I know what you're thinking – T-Pain makes those horrible auto-tuned songs that somehow kids like. Music tastes aside, the guy knows what he's talking about: he's been making music on GarageBand for years, and he makes solid points about integrating the app with third-party tools and using it on the go.
T-Pain laughs off the criticism when I ask him about it. "That’s weird," he says. "It’s totally legitimate." GarageBand has become a lot more capable over time, he says, offering more granular control over sounds, the ability to manage more tracks, and — a new feature in this release — the use of third-party apps, like iMaschine, as additional instruments. It has nowhere near the power of Logic, but T-Pain says he sees Apple bringing more of Logic's features down to GarageBand, rather than stripping things out of GarageBand for further ease of use. That makes Garageband a useful tool for putting together ideas when he’s outside the studio. "Usually when I open up GarageBand, I'm not in a place where I can start belting out lyrics and recording," he says, mentioning that he often uses the app while traveling. "I'm trying to get a solid production piece out of it. And that usually happens."
Also of note: T-Pain's home studio and diamond-encrusted Apple Watch.
Like many musicians, Voice Memos has become a quick and easy way for me to record my music ideas. Sometimes I just hum the idea, but most of the time I’ll be playing my guitar and just reach over and tap record. If I don’t record the idea then and there, it’s gone forever.
I have hundreds of these little snippets on my iPhone. Sometimes I work them into full songs, sometimes I combine different ideas to make a song and sometimes they just sit there because I have no idea what they are.
Apple took the idea of Voice Memos and expanded it for musicians with a new iOS app called Music Memos.
In his overview, Jim mentions other features – such as tagging and organization of files – which will come in handy for musicians recording their ideas on iOS.
For a long time, musicians and songwriters have been using Apple's Voice Memos and Notes apps to capture their moments of inspiration and save song ideas using audio clips and text annotations directly on the iPhone and iPad. The company took notice of the trend – exemplified in this interview with Taylor Swift and Ryan Adams last year – and released Music Memos, a brand new (and free) app aimed at enabling everyone to record their musical ideas, organize them, and develop them with intuitive tools directly on iOS devices.
The world’s most famous band will finally be available on streaming music services, starting this Thursday, Christmas Eve. And they’ll be available very, very widely: Industry sources say that the Fab Four’s music will be on all of the obvious music services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and Tidal, as well as some you might not expect, including Amazon’s Prime Music.
Also relevant: Kafka says that you can now stream a big selection of Beatles songs on YouTube, "legally, for free".
Leading up to the show, I made a lot of disclaimers to the band and their label. This was my first time really using Switcher Studio Pro, and the odds of everything falling apart seemed high. To my surprise, all of the iPads, phones, battery and wifi connection managed to get through the whole night without melting, crashing, or otherwise falling apart. The only adjustment I had to make during the set was re-seating the Olloclip on Jesse’s drum-cam. At the end of the night, getting access to full quality video recordings from each of the stage-cameras was no problem. Overall, the stability of the software and iOS was better than I could have expected.
And his takeaway:
As a professional in broadcasting, this development really excites me. Big gigs are not going to throw away Steadicams & Zoom lenses for iOS devices and iPhone broadcasts are not going to cannibalize the market for large-scale professional shows. Instead, smaller live acts broadcasting more shows with Switcher Studio is going to create a demand for more live content, foster more widespread exposure to the acts and build audiences that see the value in seeing high quality live streams more often. Just look at what happened to prerecorded video shooting and editing in the past decade—accessible software and hardware is a huge deal.
As a live music fan and iOS user, what Brian has accomplished with iPhones and iPads seems amazing. Make sure to check out his post for photos and details on the setup.