Ian C. Rogers’ Keynote at the GRAMMY Northwest MusicTech Summit

Topspin Media’s CEO, Ian C. Rogers, delivered the keynote speech at the GRAMMY Northwest MusicTech Summit this week.  The keynote makes powerful, factual, and honest points about the present state of the music industry and offers insights into the future.  The Topspin model is becoming more clear, and during the keynote, Mr. Rogers offers some stats of the success of Topspin in its nascent times as a music marketing agency (we like to think of them as “future major record label” but perhaps this title is far from accurate in their eyes).  We see Topspin as being about empowering the artists and the fans, and in his keynote, Mr. Rogers made it clear that these two parties, the artists and the fans, are the only things that really matter in the larger scheme of things and that everyone else is just along for the ride.  

Please read the entire keynote (linked above) and decide for yourself. In short, he points out that the music industry is a growing industry and should not be measured by the P&L of WMG or the latest balance sheet of UMG, but rather by the increase in consumption.  Music is being consumed in greater volumes that ever before, leaving room for a new “middle class” or artists with the tools and ability to empower themselves, take full ownership of their work, fully produce and master their recordings, and market the material without the need to sign with a record label at all.  He points to three great success stories that have come out of Topspin in recent months, including campaigns for launch of David Byrne and Brian Eno, Joe Purdy, and Jubilee.  Stats surrounding the decline of CD sales year over year do not tell the entire picture, and there has been no better time to be an independent musician than now.   

Cat Flushing a Toilet – Creative Jingles to Break Your Music Career

Cat Flushing A Toilet Music Video

Another great example of how the music makes the videos….this video is up to 275,069 views on YouTube as of the time of this post.  A friend shared this YouTube video with AudioMicro through Facebook.  The popularity of YouTube videos that contain music when compared to those that do not is unparalelled.  The videos that contain music attact 100% more viewers than those that do not.  In the instance of this video, the artists that wrote this track has gained exponential exposure and increased sales of his work through iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic.  The artist, Parry Gripp, has had a successful career in music with his Weird Al Yankovic style parodies and his tracks, when synced to videos and placed on YouTube experience a significant amount of views, favorites, and positive exposure for the artists.  Syncing your music to creative projects, and gaining exposure through video outlets with essentially limitless numbers of users, is a great way to start promoting your tunes.  Exposing your music to as broad an audience as possible, through videos, slideshows, flash animations and other more traditional broacast media (where possible), can only help.  The idea is to get your music into the ears of as many people as possible and that the fans will follow.

New Server System Live! SliceHost, JungleDisk, and Amazon S3 together as one

Today, we unveiled a new server system here at AudioMicro.  The system is powered by SliceHost, and allows for us to flexibly add servers and computing power on the fly, without the need to install hardware, contact a host / registrar, or conversate with anyone for that matter.  It’s 100% entirely flexible and controlable and integrates with our new Amazon S3 storage system (easy S3 drive mapping connectivity provided by JungleDisk) that allows for infinite, scalable storage and prevents outages like the one we had last month where are servers were overloaded and innundated with too many uploads.  We are excited about this new phase in AudioMicro computing power and we realize that this migration may cause a few unintended bugs.  If you are a customer or artist and you experience bugs as a result of this migration, we encourage you to reach out to us via the AudioMicro Support contact page , email us at AudioMicro[at]AudioMicro.com or give us a ring at 1-800-804-2171 and let us know about your issues.  We will respond to and resolve any and all bugs.  We do not anticipate issues, if any; however, should you encounter one, please let us know and we will work to immediately correct it.

Michael Arrington re-states his position that “music will be free”

TechCrunch founder and CEO Michael Arrington, a top web writer, debater, and all things startup, wrote a nice post about 360 music deals this week.  Towards the end of the post he goes on to restate a position he has been advocating for well over a year now, that “Recorded Music will be Free“.  The year old post links to other bloggers that take contrary opinions of his post, including Paul Glazowski of Profy.com.

Mr. Arrington may be right in his position, he may not be.  Nevertheless, it’s a position worth debating.  For clarifcation, AudioMicro interprets Arrington’s prediction to be that “music will be totally free for everyone to download and use in a personal manner but that it will be supported through an advertising model”.  This is an interesting opinion, we think he’s “partially right”.  Now, let’s give him due credit – Michael Arrington is a very wise man and not a single thing we can say or ever will say will be a better opinion that his.  He is a master debater, attorney, and phenominal writer and he has undoubtedly built a media empire over at TechCrunch – we are avid readers of the site and it’s biased, yet well founded opinions.  That being said, AudioMicro shall attempt to break down Mr. Arrington’s opinion by offering some biased points of our own.

For the past 12 years or so, music has already been free (free if you want to “steal” it, that is).  Therefore, the notion that music “will be free” seems to be stating the obvious.  Anyone with half a brain and an internet connection for the past 12 years has been able to get any song and any album from the file sharing services and this rapid theft shows no slowdown as services like BitTorrent are more popular than ever.

Just as music is already free to those who choose to steal is, so is every single other type of digital content, including software, photography, movies, books, and journalism.  If it’s not free through outright piracy, the content is free through a promotion, trial, hack, torrent, or business model (e.g. a startup company that has realized that they can take market share – aka shrink markets – by offering content for free where the larger, more established players make you pay for it).

Journalism (aka “The News”) is already free, on the internet at least.  Nobody in their right mind should pay to read internet news / blogs and nobody does pay for these services (at least nobody under age 40 that’s aware of “free content”).  News outlets simply offer a product for free (news and opinions and quite oftern opinions disguised as news) and then sell advertising across the content to support the business.  Perhaps it is just plain obvious that a blogger would advocate that music should “really be free, yet ad supported” is because that is the model that they already operate their businesses under – giving the content away for free and slapping advertising all over it.

So why do people pay for still pay for content when it’s already free and the ramifications of copyright infringement are so small and unenforcable to outweigh the benefits of saving money and getting the product you desire?  Why is the photography licensing industry a $2 billion industry if photos are free through creative commons licenses?  How does Warner Music Group (WMG), even in an awful stock market, maintain a market capitalization of $571 million (as of the time of this post)?  How is this possible if WMG is doomed to be a “musical advertisement”.  Clearly, people still do pay for music and they will continue to pay for music, but why?

When it comes to personal use music, AudioMicro feels that Arrington is certainly onto something; however, when it comes to commercial use, we know that people are paying for music, and appropriately securing synchronization rights for music used in their audio-visual projects.  Sync licensing is the nature of our business here at AudioMicro, and we continue to see increased revenues from the licensing of music for commercial use.  Performance and Synchronization are the two areas that seem to be immune to any attack of “free music”.  AudioMicro is a business built upon the fundamentals that stealing (or making unauthorized use of) digital content is not the right thing to do and that nobody benefits from piracy.

Contrary to personal use music sites that can be ad supported, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to place advertisements within music used for commercial purposes.  You can make television free, yet ad supported by forcing users to watch advertisements and you can even give photos away through ad supported models like PicApp; however, you can not just give music away and run an advertisement over it and you certainly cannot place music containing advertisements into a films, animations, podcasts, websites, or other video productions.  If you are an artist worried about the decline in personal use music revenues as a result of free, yet ad supported music models emerging, we encourage you to join the growing crowd of micro stock music artists here at AudioMicro that are earning cash from sync fees and the attachment of music to a growing variety of visual media.

Adding music will attract 100% more viewers to your online videos.

Here is a YouTube video we randomly pulled today called “scacchi clay stop motion – chess clay stop motion”.  This video has close to 250,000 views on YouTube, undoubtedly earning rev share money for it’s creator.   It’s a great example of how the music makes the video (or phrased a better way, the music is at least 50% of the entertainment value of this video or more).  Wonder if they legally licensed this track?  Likely so as it came from the YouTube music libary that allows you to overlay certain public domain tracks.  The popularity of videos like this one serve as a powerful reminder of the entertainment value of music when pared with a visual production and the need for a viable outlet for appropriately securing sync licenses for consumer generated videos such as those on YouTube.

Sports show theme songs can net you big money

When it comes to production music to be synced with a visual medium, one of the most lucrative outlets is the sports show theme song. Take ESPN’s Monday Night Football, for example. This theme was written on a buyot basis by composers for the Associate Production Music (APM) library, owned by EMI, a British record label giant. This theme is played over and over again for trailers, commercials, and of course during live broadcast performances of the NFL game throughout the 17 week season. The checks just come and come and if you can land a theme like Monday Night Football, you can pretty much consider yourself set for life. Another popular sports theme is the ESPN college football gameday theme, generating recurring royalties for the publisher and composer for each broadcast performance. Two important items to notice are that both of these themes are heavy on the trumpet and ths strings, and you should use these as a guide to composing you own sports related theme, building your personal library one theme at a time, with focussed, marketable efforts. After sports themes, composing holiday jingles is another great niche, always in demand at least a few times every year.