About AudioMicro

AudioMicro is a revolutionary collection of user-generated micro stock music, sound effects, production music, production elements and music cues. Finally, high quality audio content is available at unbelievable prices with no hidden costs or fees. AudioMicro is an artist friendly community, paying the highest royalty rate in the micro stock music industry! In addition, customers can purchase AudioMicro content at the most competitive rates available! Sign up and start contributing and licensing content today!

2020 Grammy Winners: The Full List

26 January 2020 – Los Angeles, California – Billie Eilish. 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center. Photo Credit: AdMedia

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

i,i, Bon Iver
Norman Fucking Rockwell, Lana del Rey
WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, BILLIE EILISH
Thank U Next, Ariana Grande
I Used to Know Her, H.E.R.
7, Lil Nas x
Cuz I Love You, Lizzo
Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend

RECORD OF THE YEAR

“Hey Ma,” Bon Iver
“BAD GUY,” BILLIE EILISH
“7 Rings,” Ariana Grande
“Hard Place,” H.E.R.
“Talk,” Khalid
“Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X
“Truth Hurts,” Lizzo
“Sunflower,” Post Malone and Swae Lee

SONG OF THE YEAR

“Always Remember Us This Way,” Lady Gaga
“BAD GUY,” BILLIE EILISH
“Bring My Flowers Now,” Tanya Tucker
“Hard Place,” H.E.R.
“Lover,” Taylor Swift
“Norman Fucking Rockwell,” Lana del Rey
“Someone You Love,” Lewis Capaldi
“Truth Hurts,“ Lizzo

BEST NEW ARTIST

Black Pumas
BILLIE EILISH
Lil Nas X
Lizzo
Maggie Rogers
Rosalía
Tank and the Bangas
Yola

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

“Spirit,” Beyoncé
“Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish
“7 Rings,” Ariana Grande
“TRUTH HURTS,” LIZZO
“You Need to Calm Down,” Taylor Swift

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

“Boyfriend,” Ariana Grande & Social House
“Sucker,” Jonas Brothers
“OLD TOWN ROAD,” LIL NAS X FEATURING BILLY RAY CYRUS
“Sunflower,” Post Malone & Swae Lee
“Señorita,” Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

The Lion King: The Gift,Beyoncé
WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO?, BILLIE EILISH
Thank U, Next, Ariana Grande
No. 6 Collaborations Project, Ed Sheeran
Lover, Taylor Swift

BEST R&B PERFORMANCE

“Love Again,” Daniel Caesar and Brandy
“Could’ve Been,” H.E.R. feat. Bryson Tiller
“Exactly How I Feel,” Lizzo feat. Gucci Mane
“Roll Some Mo,” Lucky Day
“COME HOME,” ANDERSON PAAK FEAT. ANDRE 3000

BEST R&B SONG

“Could’ve Been,” H.E.R. feat. Bryson Tiller
“Look At Me Now,” Emily King
“No Guidance,” Chris Brown feat. Drake
“Roll Some Mo,” Lucky Daye
“SAY SO,” PJ MORTON FEAT. JOJO

BEST R&B ALBUM

1123, BJ The Chicago Kid
Painted, Lucky Daye
Ella Mai, Ella Mai
Paul, PJ Morton
VENTURA, ANDERSON PAAK

BEST RAP PERFORMANCE

“Middle Child,” J. Cole
“Suge,” DaBaby
“Down Bad,” Dreamville Featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG & Young Nudy
“RACKS IN THE MIDDLE,” NIPSEY HUSSLE FEAT. RODDY RICCH & HIT-BOY
“Clout,” Offset Featuring Cardi B

BEST RAP SONG

“Bad Idea,” YBN Cordae feat. Chance The Rapper
“Gold Roses,” Rick Ross feat. Drake
“A LOT,” 21 SAVAGE FEAT. J. COLE
“Racks in the Middle,” Nipsey Hussle feat. Roddy Ricch & Hit-Boy
“Suge,” DaBaby

BEST RAP/SUNG PERFORMANCE

“HIGHER,” DJ KHALED FEATURING NIPSEY HUSSLE & JOHN LEGEND
“Drip Too Hard,” Lil Baby & Gunna
“Panini,” Lil Nas X
“Ballin,” Mustard Featuring Roddy Ricch “The London,” Young Thug Featuring J. Cole & Travis Scott

BEST RAP ALBUM

Revenge of the Dreamers III, Dreamville
Championships, Meek Mill
I Am Greater Than I Was, 21 Savage
IGOR, TYLER THE CREATOR
The Lost Boy, YBN Cordae

BEST COUNTRY SONG

“BRING MY FLOWERS NOW,” TANYA TUCKER
“Girls Goin’ Nowhere,” Ashley McBryde
“It All Comes Out in the Wash,” Miranda Lambert
“Some Of It,” Eric Church
“Speechless,” Dan and Shay

BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE

“All Your’n,” Tyler Childers
“Girl Goin’ Nowhere,” Ashley McBryde
“RIDE ME BACK HOME,” WILLIE NELSON
“God’s Country,” Blake Shelton
“Bring My Flowers Now,” Tanya Tucker

BEST COUNTRY DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

“Brand New Man,” Brooks & Dunn With Luke Combs
“I Don’t Remember Me (Before You),” Brothers Osborne
“SPEECHLESS,” DAN + SHAY
“The Daughters,” Little Big Town
“Common,” Maren Morris Featuring Brandi Carlile

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

Desperate Man, Eric Church
Stronger Than the Truth, Reba McEntire
Interstate Gospel, Pistol Annies
Center Point Road, Thomas Rhett
WHILE I’M LIVIN’, TANYA TUCKER

BEST ROCK ALBUM

Amo, Bring Me the Horizon
SOCIAL CUES, CAGE THE ELEPHANT
In The End, The Cranberries
Trauma, I Prevail
Feral Roots, Rival Sons

BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE

“Pretty Waste,” Bones UK
“THIS LAND,” GARY CLARK JR.
“History Repeats,” Brittany Howard
“Woman,” Karen O & Danger Mouse
“Too Bad,” Rival Sons

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM

U.F.O.F., Big Thief
Assume Form, James Blake
I,I, Bon Iver
FATHER OF THE BRIDE, VAMPIRE WEEKEND
Anima, Thom Yorke

BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM

Apollo XXI, Steve Lacy
CUZ I LOVE YOU, LIZZO
Overload, Georgia Anne Muldrow
Saturn, NAO
Being Human In Public, Jessie Reyez

BEST TRADITIONAL R&B PERFORMANCE

“Time Today,” BJ The Chicago Kid
“Steady Love,” India.Arie
“JEROME,” LIZZO
“Real Games,” Lucky Daye
“Built For Love,” PJ Morton Featuring Jazmine Sullivan

BEST DANCE/ELECTRONIC ALBUM

LP5, Apparat
NO GEOGRAPHY, THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS
Hi This Is Flume (Mixtape), Flume
Solace, RÜFÜS DU SOL
Weather, Tycho

BEST DANCE RECORDING

“Linked,” Bonobo
“GOT TO KEEP ON,” THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS
“Piece Of Your Heart,” Meduza Featuring Goodboys
“Underwater,” RÜFÜS DU SOL
“Midnight Hour,” Skrillex & Boys Noize Featuring Ty Dolla $ign

BEST COMEDY ALBUM

Quality Time, Jim Gaffigan
Relatable, Ellen DeGeneres
Right Now, Aziz Ansari
Son of Patricia, Trevor Noah
STICKS & STONES, DAVE CHAPPELLE

BEST COMPILATION SOUNDTRACK FOR VISUAL MEDIA

The Lion King: The Songs, (Various Artists)
Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, (Various Artists)
Rocketman, (Various Artists)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, (Various Artists)
A STAR IS BORN (VARIOUS ARTISTS)

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA

“The Ballad Of The Lonesome Cowboy,” Toy Story 4
“Girl In The Movies,” Dumplin’’’“I’LL NEVER LOVE AGAIN,” A STAR IS BORN
“Spirit,” The Lion King
“Suspirium,” Suspiria

BEST MUSIC VIDEO

“We’ve Got To Try,” (The Chemical Brothers) Ellie Fry, video director; Ninian Doff, video producer
“This Land,” (Gary Clark Jr.) Savanah Leaf, video director; Alicia Martinez, video producer
“Cellophane,” (FKA Twigs) Andrew Thomas Huang, video director; Alex Chamberlain, video producer
“OLD TOWN ROAD (OFFICIAL MOVIE),” (LIL NAS X & BILLY RAY CYRUS) CALMATIC, VIDEO DIRECTOR; CANDICE DRAGONAS, MELISSA LARSEN & SAUL LEVITZ, VIDEO PRODUCERS
“Glad He’s Gone,” (Tove Lo) Vania Heymann & Gal Muggia, video directors; Natan Schottenfels, video producer

BEST MUSIC FILM

HOMECOMING, (BEYONCE)
Remember My Name, (David Crosby)
Birth Of The Cool, (Miles Davis)
Shangri-La, (Various Artists)
Anima, (Thom Yorke)

BEST SPOKEN WORD ALBUM

Beastie Boys Book, (Various Artists) Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz, Scott Sherratt & Dan Zitt, producers
BECOMING, MICHELLE OBAMA
I.V. Catatonia: 20 Years As A Two-Time Cancer Survivor, Eric Alexandrakis
Mr. Know-It-All, Jon Waters
Sekou Andrews & The String Theory, Sekou Andrews & The String Theory

BEST MUSICAL THEATER ALBUM

Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations
HADESTOWN
Moulin Rouge! The Musical
The Music of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Oklahoma!

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR, NON-CLASSICAL

FINNEAS
Jack Antonoff
Dan Auerbach
John Hill
Ricky Reed

Five Ways to Optimize Your YouTube Videos

It’s no secret that YouTube is a major avenue for musicians to not only cultivate a fanbase, but to stay in constant contact with their fans. Consistently publishing videos on YouTube shows fans that you’re creating all the time. It also gives them something to enjoy while you’re working on recording new songs, and it shows that you’re more than just a musician.

So, there are a myriad of benefits to posting videos on YouTube. But more than that, there’s a right way to do it. Below, we outline the five best ways to optimize your videos, so you get the most out of using YouTube.

1. Make sure your metadata is in order:

Just like music, metadata on YouTube is crucial. On YouTube, metadata is mainly the title and description. It’s the text featured on the page for your video. If your title is confusing or misleading, viewers are less likely to watch because they won’t know if they’re in the right place.

The same goes for your video description. Accurately describe what’s in your video so viewers know what they’re watching. If you want to get viewers to leave YouTube and head to another page like your personal website, put that URL at the beginning of your video’s description so it appears before the “show more” section.

2. Keywords are crucial:

If you’re trying to build your fanbase, many of your new viewers and potential fans are going to come from people finding your video when searching YouTube for something else. This is where keywords come in. Have you ever searched for something specific and then clicked another video that showed up in the search out of curiosity? Of course you have. Everyone has. This is how viewers come across your video when they weren’t searching for it specifically. Think about what keywords you can work into your metadata to make your video easier to discover.

Your description is especially useful for employing keywords since there’s much more room than in the title. It pays to do some research on keywords related to your topic, and there are a few free services that tell you which keywords you can use. While these sites might not give you something specific, they can jar your brain and inspire some creativity to think of new related words or phrases.

3. Introduce yourself:

Create a short introduction that can be used in multiple videos in a series. This creates a sense of cohesion for your channel. That’s important when trying to establish a vibe or certain tone in your videos. It unifies them. One of the keys to a well-presented channel is that all of the videos in a series flow from one to the next. Using the same intro for multiple videos gives your channel a personal style and establishes character.

4. Make it interactive:

Have you seen pop-ups at the beginning or end of a video linking to other videos or specific URLs? Those are called Cards in YouTube-speak, and they’re a great tool for your viewers to interact with your video. If you have other videos, create cards for a few of them and post one at the beginning and one or two at the end of your video. This will drive traffic to your other videos, so viewers don’t have to search for them. It also leads to the infamous “YouTube Rabbit Hole.” Who among us hasn’t finished watching a video and clicked on the next recommended one, thinking “just one more before bed,” only to emerge from the deep dive an hour later? If you have lots of videos, you want that continuity. In the On-Demand era, convenience is crucial for users. Why make them search when you can point them directly to another of your videos?

5. Professionalize it:

Finish your video by making it look professional. There are a few little touches you can add to really elevate your video and make sure your future videos draw and keep viewers.

A custom thumbnail will make your video stand out in a column of generic thumbnails. You can use this to tease something exciting in the video you’re posting.

Adding a watermark to your video places a signature logo in the bottom right corner. Think of a cool logo for your channel and stick it in all your videos as a watermark. Viewers can click on the logo to head to your channel, where they can subscribe. Subscriptions are what take a channel from good to great. Subscribers to a channel are notified any time that channel posts a new video, which in turn guarantees more views. You want to take any opportunity to point viewers to where they can go to subscribe.

You’ll also want to upload your video in HD quality. Users can select the quality of videos, so make sure to upload the highest quality possible. This is at least 720p or 1080p resolution.

These are just the basics to get you started on your way to YouTube fame and fortune. YouTube adds new functions to its service fairly frequently, so you’ll want to keep apprised of those to take advantage of new tools. To get the most out of YouTube, we suggest joining YouTube Academy to learn everything the service has to offer.

6 Holiday Tracks to Get You in The Christmas Spirit

Looking for that perfect sound for Xmas?
Here are 5 of our favorite holiday royalty-free tracks that will get you in the Christmas spirit, and add some jingle to your current project!

#1. Christmas in Hollywood – by FullScore

C

#2. Magical Christmas Snowflakes – by Zhanic

#3. Christmas Opening – by FullScore

#4. Uplifting Christmas – by Botabateau

#5. Orchestral Merry Christmas – by FreddieHangoler

#6. Spirit of Christmas – by FullScore

Happy Holidays!

Why Licensing Music Can Improve Your Project’s Appeal

 “The rug really tied the room together.”

Bob Dylan fades out and we hear The Dude talk about the importance of a stolen rug. It tied things together. The same could be said for the songs in The Big Lebowski. Any fan of the film knows how important those tracks are, featured even more prominently than the score. Like the rug in Lebowski’s living room, the right music can tie a film or video project together, making a grander sense out of separate elements.

Whether you’re creating an advertisement, a TV show, or web short, your video project benefits from the addition of smartly placed music to synchronize (“sync”) with the moving images. A properly selected song not only lends an air of professionalism to a video, but also makes your production more memorable. In extreme cases, a well-placed piece of music can even add emotional weight to a project that wouldn’t have hit as hard without it.

Music taps into memory.

And we don’t have to point to cult classics like The Big Lebowski. Think of a particularly impactful TV commercial or scene from a favorite childhood show. Chances are you remember the song playing as much as the images on the screen. That’s because – as humans have known for thousands of years (but have only recently began studying) – music is inextricably tied to our emotions and memories. Even a simple audio cue (think of the soft piano notes plunked during the heartfelt scenes in every ‘90s ABC sitcom) triggers a specific emotional response.

The right song doesn’t have to eat up your budget. 

Those shows you’re remembering were probably huge network projects with budgets in the millions. Even today, ads you see on Hulu, YouTube or cable TV (remember cable?) can have big budgets too. What if you’re an indie producer with a project budget in the thousands or even hundreds? How do you add emotional heft and memorability to your work without plummeting into the red or using music unlawfully? AudioMicro’s got you.

Don’t let sync clearance hassles slow down your production. 

The first concern when licensing music for placement is fully clearing the song you’re interested in. This may sound like common sense, but it’s good to get the fundamentals out of the way first. 

If a music supervisor wants to use a popular major label song in a TV show, they might have to wait for the label to talk to the publishers and for six different songwriters to talk to the label to talk to the publishers to talk to the… 

You get it. Acquiring sync permission can be an inefficient process. 

Since AudioMicro uses royalty-free music specifically created to be synced, nothing licensed through AudioMicro requires any further clearance. No tracking down every party involved in the recording and composition just to clear 30 seconds of sound. It’s a one-stop-shop for fully cleared music, so you can use it in your YouTube video without fear they’ll pull it for copyright reasons. The copyright is already secured!

Support other creators while avoiding years of complicated accounting.

Royalty free music isn’t just great for the user, but also the creator. Some people think that “royalty free” means “free from revenue for the artist.” Not so. But what actually is “royalty free”? It means you pay only once to clear a track, and once you’ve paid you can use it as much as you like in accordance with the uses of the standard license.

This doesn’t generate royalties on the back-end per use, but it does generate revenue upfront from the fee you pay to use the song. That fee then gets paid to the creator of the music after AudioMicro takes their cut, which is significantly lower than other licensing companies. You get to license a song for a reasonable price, and the artist makes more money. It’s creators and users supporting each other; a beautiful thing! AudioMicro also allows PRO-affiliated songwriters, which means you’re licensing music created by serious, professional songwriters and not hobbyists looking to get a few placements as a side gig.

Don’t settle for okay tracks. Find EXACTLY what you’re looking for. 

So which creators take part in this mutually beneficial endeavor? Hundreds! Peruse the genres in this catalog of royalty free music. Need some reggae for a chill travel commercial? How about some heavy gosh-dang metal for a fight scene? Or maybe you’re a social media fitness influencer and need some good workout jams. The extent of the catalog means you’re sure to find something that’ll set your project apart from the competition.


In the old days of music licensing, there were enough roadblocks in securing a song placement to discourage even the heartiest music supervisor. The Coen Brothers must’ve had their work cut out for them clearing all the songs in Lebowski.

Many of those hurdles are still there for big-budget projects licensing recordings and compositions that have upwards of 10 copyright owners, but AudioMicro helps you overcome obstacles by combining the entire music licensing process into one simple step.

Once you find the song you want to tie your project together, all the licensing is done at once. This is the 21st Century. Shouldn’t things be easier than they were before?


Greg Majewski has written about heavy tunes for Invisible Oranges, Metal Bandcamp and his own blog, Luminous Deluge. When not writing he can be found at the gym or scouring forums and blogs for obscure ‘90s death metal. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his fiancée and hundreds of plants.

A CREATOR’S STORY

Brett Heatley of HeatleyBros Music

Brett Heatley is a team member of AudioMicro, and the creator of a unique genre of “GamePop” music.  He runs the HeatleyBros YouTube Channel where he promotes his music for ‘free use with credit’ on YouTube, and provides links to purchase the licenses for his music on AudioMicro.com for use outside of YouTube.

Read his story on discovering his unique sound, turning his music and YouTube channel into a brand, and tips you can apply to your own story.

THE GENESIS – INFLUENCES OF MY SOUND

Being the younger sibling in the ’90s didn’t afford me too many options when it came to the music I listened to.  My older sister kept the radio on RnB and pop, and I would watch on as my older brother played through single-player game after single-player game.  I loved my older siblings, and respected and appreciated them. In turn, I fell in love with RnB (Boyz II Men for life) and watching my brother traverse through games like Sonic, Mario, and the Final Fantasy I had ample time to soak in the simple-sounding yet creative soundtracks. Between these two seemingly unrelated genres of music, a seed was planted in my brain that would eventually determine the unique type of music I would later create.

No matter how much older I got, and how many music options the world eventually offered, my love for the music I grew up listening to persisted. RnB advanced and changed, and Video Games left the simple synths for 100-piece orchestras focused more on mood rather than melody.  While I did find new games and artists that carried some of the spirit of the 90’s music I cherished, I still felt there was a sort of musical itch I was no longer able to scratch.

The need to scratch was eventually offset to a degree as I learned how to play the guitar and the piano. I learned songs on the radio and eventually wrote a few of my own. It was fun, but those instruments and songs could never satisfy the array of musical sounds I wanted to hear. I put down those instruments and allowed for life and its responsibilities to take up most of my time.

Years later, I found myself as a senior in college, nervously eating lunch at my apartment, terrified of the fact that I still had no idea what I would do with my marketing degree. My roommate came in and left his new MacBook open on the kitchen table. I was not too familiar with MacBooks and noticed that a program in the corner of the screen had a guitar logo. I ran the mouse over the program and asked my roommate “what’s this ‘Garageband’ program do?”. He began to explain what it was My ears and brain perked up. “You mean to tell me that in that program, I can write out an entire song, bass, drums, chords, melody, and everything, and turn that into an mp3 that I can listen to on your stereo system?”. He confirmed and asked me if I wanted to give it try. I nodded and took the laptop into my room.

I remember him knocking on the door the next morning, wondering if I still had his MacBook with me as he couldn’t find it in his room.  I responded by pressing play on the MacBook, and out of the little speakers came an entire 3:30 minute RnB song, complete with drums, bass, chords, lyrics, melody, stacked harmonies, and retro game synths. He was as amazed as I was, neither of us knew I had it in me. I was instantly hooked, and the fears of graduating without a plan were vanquished, forever.  I wanted to make my own type of music and find work in the music business. 

After I graduated from Florida State, I talked to my sister who lived in LA, told her I wanted to move out there and get into music. She was so excited she flew out to meet me and drove cross-country with me – she’s a great sister.  I soon got settled in LA and started hitting up craigslist for any indie record labels that I could intern at.  A small record label called ‘Accidental Airplay’ reached out and wanted to interview me. We met and gelled really well. I worked for them on many projects over the course of a few years. I remember having a conversation with them about wanting to make video game pop music inspired by the games of my childhood, they told me to go for it, so with that little push of support, I decided to start HeatleyBros, in 2014. 

SUCCESS STORIES

Over the years, I’ve had tracks used by a lot of big YouTubers which has really helped bring attention to my music, and seems to continually open up bigger and bigger opportunities.

For example, A Minecraft YouTuber known as AphMau who has close to 5 million subscribers found my song on AudioMicro.com and made it part of her theme song outro and used it for years for a particular series, which got a lot of traction and I received a lot of fandom around that. I learned that it was used there through the comments section of my YouTube channel, and had I not had a YouTube channel, I wouldn’t have known and it wouldn’t have helped me bring a bunch of attention to my channel, because people started acknowledging my music there.

MAKING $$

I sell licenses to use my music on AudioMicro.com, a Production Music Library and I also monetize on my YouTube channel, one, through ads when people listen to my music or come to hear my new song that they could possibly license and use, and two, through monetization when people don’t license accordingly.

I use a third-party aggregator called AdRev.net for monetizing unlicensed use of my tracks.  The more available and accessible Your music is online, the more likely it will be used without authorization. Therefore, in regards to generating revenue on YouTube, the more places your video is placed, the more you can make money on unlicensed use.

I sell licenses to use my music on AudioMicro.com, a Production Music Library and I also monetize on my YouTube channel.  This happens two ways: through ads when people listen to my music or come to hear my new song that they could possibly license and use, and through monetization when people don’t license accordingly.

I use a third-party aggregator called AdRev.net for monetizing unlicensed use of my tracks.  The more available and accessible your music is online, the more likely it will be used without authorization. Therefore, in regard to generating revenue on YouTube, the more places your video is placed, the more you can make money on unlicensed use.

MY TIPS FOR MUSIC CREATORS & YOUTUBERS

Tips I would give to music creators starting out and wanting to utilize YouTube to promote and monetize their music are:

1.CREATE A BRAND & PERSONALITY

Start a YouTube channel and then create a brand around the music you make. 

2. GET YOUR MUSIC HEARD

You need to be able to get it on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Pandora and all the rest so, make sure you have a diYou want to get your music heard, first and foremost, then people can find where they can license it.  Make it available on every access point possible. You need to be able to get it on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Pandora and all the rest, so make sure you have a distributor that can do this, like CDBaby.com or DashGo.com.

3. UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA

Be on every social media instance possible.  Utilize Instagram, Soundcloud, TikTok, and YouTube!  Then, connect with people as much as possible.  Share your music and your story to get people engaged.  For example, I recently did a series of live stream Q & A sessions for a few weekends in a row, to connect with some of the people that follow me. There were about 100 people listening in each time, and some of them ended up donating to my channel.  This was a great way to interface with some followers and fans.

4. CREATE UNIQUE MUSIC

Don’t overuse audio loops in your music creation.  One, it’s not unique, and two, loops can get flagged by Content ID systems and create a headache that you don’t need.

5. KEEP CREATING & IMPROVING

Keep evolving!  Keep trying to get better, keep moving forward.  You may hang your hat on one of the songs you made, but rather than trying to recreate something like it, try to create something better than that- something that speaks more closely to who you are, what you love and why you make music to begin with. As an artist, keep evolving and improving. Learn and grow, and you’ll constantly be your own competition. That way, you’ll keep raising the bar and exploring and refining your sound.

Thanks for reading!  I wish you all the best in your creative endeavors!
~ Brett Heatley

2019 MTV VMA Winners!

See the Full List of VMA Winners here, on AudioMicro.com.

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, USA – AUGUST 26: Singer Bebe Rexha wearing a custom Christian Siriano outfit, Giuseppe Zanotti sandals, and rings by KatKim and Ashley Zhang poses in the press room at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards held at the Prudential Center on August 26, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey, United States. (Photo by Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency)

And the award goes to….

Video Vanguard

WINNER: Missy Elliott

Video of the Year

WINNER: Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down”
21 Savage: “a lot” [ft. J. Cole]
Billie Eilish: “bad guy”
Ariana Grande: thank u, next”
Jonas Brothers: “Sucker”
Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus]

Artist of the Year

WINNER: Ariana Grande
Cardi B
Billie Eilish
Halsey
Jonas Brothers
Shawn Mendes

Song of the Year

WINNER: Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus]
Drake: “In My Feelings”
Ariana Grande: “thank u, next”
Jonas Brothers: “Sucker”
Lady Gaga / Bradley Cooper: “Shallow”
Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down”

Best New Artist

WINNER: Billie Eilish
Ava Max
H.E.R.
Lil Nas X
Lizzo
ROSALÍA

Best Collaboration

WINNER: Shawn Mendes / Camila Cabello: “Señorita”
Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus]
Lady Gaga / Bradley Cooper: “Shallow”
Taylor Swift: “ME!” [ft. Brendon Urie]
Ed Sheeran / Justin Bieber: “I Don’t Care”
BTS: “Boy With Luv” [ft. Halsey]

Push Artist of the Year

WINNER: Billie Eilish
Bazzi
CNCO
H.E.R.
Lauv
Lizzo

Best Pop

WINNER: Jonas Brothers: “Sucker”
5 Seconds of Summer: “Easier”
Cardi B / Bruno Mars: “Please Me”
Billie Eilish: “bad guy”
Khalid: “Talk”
Ariana Grande: “thank u, next”
Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down”

Best Hip-Hop

WINNER: Cardi B: “Money”
2 Chainz: “Rule the World”[ft. Ariana Grande]
21 Savage: “a lot” [ft. J. Cole]
DJ Khaled: “Higher” [ft. Nipsey Hussle and John Legend]
Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus]
Travis Scott: “SICKO MODE” [ft. Drake]

Best R&B

WINNER: Normani: “Waves” [ft. 6LACK]
Anderson .Paak: “Make It Better” [ft. Smokey Robinson]
Childish Gambino: “Feels Like Summer”
H.E.R.: “Could’ve Been” [ft. Bryson Tiller]
Alicia Keys: “Raise a Man”
Ella Mai: “Trip”

Best K-Pop

WINNER: BTS: “Boy With Luv” [ft. Halsey]
BLACKPINK: “Kill This Love”
Monsta X: “Who Do You Love” [ft. French Montana]
TOMORROW X TOGETHER: “Cat & Dog”
NCT 127: “Regular”
EXO: “Tempo”

Best Latin

WINNER: ROSALÍA / J Balvin: “Con Altura” [ft. El Guincho]
Anuel AA / Karol G: “Secreto”
Bad Bunny: “MIA” [ft. Drake]
benny blanco / Tainy / Selena Gomez / J Balvin: “I Can’t Get Enough”
Daddy Yankee: “Con Calma” [ft. Snow]
Maluma: “Mala Mía”

Best Dance

WINNER: The Chainsmokers: “Call You Mine” [ft. Bebe Rexha]
Clean Bandit: “Solo” [ft. Demi Lovato]
DJ Snake: “Taki Taki” [ft. Selena Gomez, Ozuna and Cardi B]
David Guetta / Bebe Rexha / J Balvin: “Say My Name”
Marshmello / Bastille: “Happier”
Silk City / Dua Lipa: “Electricity”

Best Rock

WINNER: Panic! At the Disco: “High Hopes”
The 1975: “Love It If We Made It”
Fall Out Boy: “Bishops Knife Trick”
Imagine Dragons: “Natural”
Lenny Kravitz: “Low”
twenty one pilots: “My Blood”

Video for Good

WINNER: Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down”
Halsey: “Nightmare”
The Killers: “Land of the Free”
Jamie N Commons / Skylar Grey: “Runaway Train” [ft. Gallant]
John Legend: “Preach”
Lil Dicky: “Earth”

Best Group

WINNER: BTS
5 Seconds of Summer
Backstreet Boys
BLACKPINK
CNCO
Jonas Brothers
PRETTYMUCH
Why Don’t We

Best Power Anthem

WINNER: Megan Thee Stallion: “Hot Girl Summer” [ft. Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign]
Ariana Grande: “7 rings”
DJ Khaled: “Wish Wish” [ft. Cardi B and 21 Savage]
Halsey: “Nightmare”
Lizzo: “Tempo” [ft. Missy Elliott]
Maren Morris: “Girl”
Miley Cyrus: “Mother’s Daughter”
Taylor Swift: “You Need To Calm Down”

Song of Summer

WINNER: Ariana Grande and Social House: “Boyfriend”
Billie Eilish: “Bad Guy”
DaBaby: “Suge”
Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber: “I Don’t Care”
Jonas Brothers: “Sucker”
Khalid: “Talk”
Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus]
Lil Tecca: “Ransom”
Lizzo: “Truth Hurts”
Miley Cyrus: “Mother’s Daughter”
Post Malone: “Goodbyes” [ft. Young Thug]
Rosalía and J Balvin: “Con Altura” [ft. El Guincho]
Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello: “Señorita”
Taylor Swift: “You Need To Calm Down”
The Chainsmokers and Bebe Rexha: “Call You Mine”
Young Thug: “The London” [ft. J. Cole and Travis Scott]

Fashion Trailblazer

WINNER: Marc Jacobs

Best Direction

WINNER: Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus] (dir. Calmatic)
Billie Eilish: “bad Guy” (dir. Dave Meyers)
FKA twigs: “Cellophane” (dir. Andrew Thomas Huang)
Ariana Grande: “thank u, next” (dir. Hannah Lux Davis)
LSD: “No New Friends” (dir. Dano Cerny)
Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down” (dir. Drew Kirsch and Taylor Swift)

Best Visual Effects

WINNER: Taylor Swift: “ME!” [ft. Brendon Urie] (visual effects: Loris Paillier & Lucas Salton for BUF VFX)
Billie Eilish: “when the party’s over” (visual effects: Ryan Ross, Andres Jaramillo)
FKA twigs: “Cellophane” (visual effects: Matt Chandler, Fabio Zaveti for Analog)
Ariana Grande: “God is a woman” (visual effects: Fabrice Lagayette, Kristina Prilukova & Rebecca Rice for Mathematic)
DJ Khaled: “Just Us” [ft. SZA] (visual effects: Sergii Mashevskyi)
LSD: “No New Friends” (visual effects: Ethan Chancer)

Best Editing

WINNER: Billie Eilish: “bad guy” (editing: Billie Eilish)
Anderson .Paak: “Tints” [ft. Kendrick Lamar] (editing: Elias Talbot)
Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus – “Old Town Road (Remix)” (editing: Calmatic)
Ariana Grande: “7 rings” (editing: Hannah Lux Davis & Taylor Walsh)
Solange: “Almeda” (editing: Solange Knowles, Vinnie Hobbs, Jonathon Proctor)
Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down” (editing: Jarrett Fijal)

Best Art Direction

WINNER: Ariana Grande: “7 rings” (art direction: John Richoux)
BTS: “Boy With Luv” [ft. Halsey] (art direction: JinSil Park, BoNa Kim (MU:E))
Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (Remix)” [ft. Billy Ray Cyrus] (art direction: Itaru Dela Vegas)
Shawn Mendes / Camila Cabello: “Señorita” (art direction: Tatiana Van Sauter)
Taylor Swift: “You Need to Calm Down” (art direction: Brittany Porter)
Kanye West / Lil Pump: “I Love It” [ft. Adele Givens] (art direction: Tino Schaedler)

Best Choreography

WINNER: ROSALÍA / J Balvin: “Con Altura” [ft. El Guincho] (choreography: Charm La’Donna)
FKA twigs: “Cellophane” (choreography: Kelly Yvonne)
LSD: “No New Friends” (choreography: Ryan Heffington)
Shawn Mendes / Camila Cabello: “Señorita” (choreography: Calvit Hodge, Sara Biv)
Solange: “Almeda” (choreography: Maya Taylor, Solange Knowles)
BTS: “Boy With Luv” [ft. Halsey] (choreography: Rie Hata)

Best Cinematography

WINNER: Shawn Mendes / Camila Cabello: “Señorita” (cinematography: Scott Cunningham)
Anderson .Paak: “Tints” [ft. Kendrick Lamar] (cinematography: Elias Talbot)
Billie Eilish: “hostage” (cinematography: Pau Castejon)
Ariana Grande: “thank u, next” (cinematography: Christopher Probst)
Solange: “Almeda” (cinematography: Chayse Irvin, Ryan Marie Helfant, Justin Hamilton)
Taylor Swift: “ME!” [ft. Brendon Urie] (cinematography: Starr Whitesides)

6 Productivity Tips For Freelancers

Mastering the Art of Working From Home

For many, working from home is like living the dream. Those of us living this “dream life” understand, when a deadline is approaching, being cubicle free can quickly turn from a dream to a nightmare. These are five productivity tips for freelancers to help you master the art of working from home. 

1. List it or Lose It

Nobody likes doing laundry. That is…of course…until you have an approaching deadline and suddenly…..ironing shirts sounds as delicious as Thanksgiving dinner on a juice cleanse. However productive you may feel after washing those clothes previously piled in the corner for months, don’t. Completing these tasks, however productive, is still procrastination.

To avoid the procrasti-cleaning loop, start your day by making a list of the things you ABSOLUTELY need to accomplish. Then, make a secondary list of things you would like to accomplish but are not as important or time sensitive. Put the second list away in a drawer, preferably next to your phone (outta sight, outta mind) and don’t open that drawer until you’ve completed EVERYTHING on the first list.

2. Get Out Of Bed

I love to swim, but you won’t catch me perfecting my backstroke in the bathtub. I also love to sleep, but I do not make a habit of power napping there either.  Point is, some places are better to work in than others, and your bed is not the ideal workplace. Not only is it de-motivating, but it can also negatively impact your sleep.

Picture this, it’s the end of a very long, dragging on, no good kind of day…and you’re exhausted. The eyes half closed, yawn mid-sentence, cannot be bothered to brush your teeth kind of exhausted. However, as soon as your head hits the pillow, work thoughts race in faster than Rubens Barrichello in a Ferrari. If this sad scenario plays a recurring role in your life, you’ve probably made a habit of bringing work into the bedroom. 

The human brain recognizes patterns. Whether the outcome is positive or negative, if you do something often enough, a pattern develops. Regularly working on or in your bed reprograms your brain to associate your bed with work. This fact extends to conversation. Try not to ponder over, talk about or partake in any work on or near your bed. If you consistently keep your work away from your bed, your thoughts will be a bit more cooperative. 

3. Pick Your Place

Where you work affects how you work. Numerous studies have been conducted and concluded that the physical office environment can have a significant effect on the behavior, perceptions, and productivity of employees. As a freelancer, you are your own boss. Therefore, you alone are responsible for constructing a work environment that promotes productivity. Delegate a certain space in your place that is meant for work. Not the kitchen sink, not the couch where you watch tv, but somewhere clean and organized with minimal distractions. Then add a few touches that make it special to you. Commit to working there regularly and soon it will be reeking of productivity.

4. Unplug To Plugin

Whether it be family, friends or Instagram models, there are a plethora of people in your life lusting after your attention. Technology allows us to stay connected 24/7. This seems especially true when the clock is ticking on that project due.

That’s why it’s important to go radio silent. Switch your phone to airplane mode and put it somewhere out of sight (the farther, the better). This allows you to focus your mind on the task at hand instead of bouncing it back and forth from your work to your text messages, which interferes with the creative process. Besides, you can give much better advice to your friends once you’ve finished what you need to.

5. Work It Out

Some days, the motivation just isn’t there. Unfortunately, more often than not, the days that you want to do the least are the ones that you have to do the most. It’s difficult to feel motivated when your exhausted, and fatigue is the nemesis of productivity.  If you find yourself staring at your screen with dead eyes, get your ass up and go to the gym…or yoga studio, or outside for a run. Studies have shown that a short medium to high-intensity workout acts directly on the central nervous system to increase energy, reduce fatigue and feed your brain some much-needed endorphins. You can then use that momentum towards knocking out the task at hand.

6. Move To Groove

So you’ve written the lists, hide your phone, hit the gym, put down the detergent, and you still cannot drown out the sound of the new Madonna album your neighbor has been, oh so politely, playing on repeat…as loud as possible…allllllll day.

If all else fails, leave your place and move to a space that facilitates productivity. In recent years numerous people have actualized the dream of working remotely, and businesses around the world have caught on. There is a selection of coworking spaces, coffee shops and restaurants happy to fuel your working fire. Museums, parks, and libraries are other lovely alternatives.

Good luck out there Freelancers. You. Can. Do It!

Written by: Megan Mari

Navigating the Landscape of Royalty Free Music

3 Tips To Make Your Life Easier

Any seasoned editor will tell you that finding music for a client is the bane of their existence.  They will also tell you it’s the most time spent with the least amount of pay off.  Hearing things like, “I don’t totally hate it,” or “well it’s not totally terrible” or my personal favorite, “love the cut, hate the music” regarding a cut you show a client that was supposed to be ‘final’ draft, will induce responses that are unbecoming of the totally ‘sane’ people we editors are.  I say ‘sane’ lightheartedly as we all know you have to be a little crazy to enjoy sitting in Premiere sifting through your client’s content, trying to piece together a puzzle that would make Walter Murch proud.  

Through years of experience, I’ve come up with three easy steps to steer you in the right direction for when you put on your newly delegated ‘producer’ hat and have to scrape the Internet for the perfect track or sound effects that will help you sell your edit.

#1: Know Your Client

This may not always be easy, especially with a new client, but knowing their taste in music is super helpful!  This goes far beyond that though and reaches deeper than knowing their genre of choice.  I don’t have to tell you that music and the psychology of sound are way deeper than the music itself.  Knowing things like the client’s age and upbringing, types of film they enjoy, and what their favorite color is, etc. will help you to determine their musical taste.  Now obviously you won’t always get a chance to do extensive research on your client, nor will you always get to hand them a questionnaire that will answer some of these things.  But as anyone who has read this far will know, nowadays we are more than likely the videographers shooting, as well as the editors, and we tend to wear multiple hats throughout production.  I often tell my clients that I’d like to be on set during the shoot days if I’m not the one shooting, just so I can better understand them and their vibe.  Simple things like letting them choose the music on set, or discussing favorite films, colors and clothing/fashion can all be super useful pieces of information that can be gleaned simply by you being there on set interacting with them.

#2: Know your Footage/Content

This one should be obvious as an editor, but I’d be lying to you if I told you every edit I do, I sift through all the footage and watch ALL of it.  We of course scrub through a majority of it, but in today’s fast-paced environment of Post production, where they wanted it yesterday, it’s hard to view it all.  There are a few key things to check for that can really help you understand the intention/direction of the edit and thus start you in the right direction for your music search.  

The first and obviously most telling thing, is frame rate.  I shoot and edit a variety of content from underwater, to fashion, to narrative, and one thing that’s always changing is the frame rate.  For the majority of my fashion clients, I shoot in slow motion for a couple of reasons, one to help smooth out less than ideal camera work when clients don’t want to pay for a Free Fly Systems movi pro gimbal and/or ready rig vest for stabilization, and two because life is just more sexy in slow motion. (If it wasn’t, the infamous Baywatch running scene wouldn’t have been a thing.)  Based off of that info alone, I know a slower song is in order to match the mood and vibe of the slow-motion footage.

Another key piece of information to look for in footage is color. How did the DP light the scene? Did he have a lot of color contrast? Is it heavily gelled, or are the color palettes neutral?  This is hard to assess if you’re looking at log or raw footage but hopefully your DP was nice to you and shot proxies with a look baked in so you can get a sense of what he was going for.  Better yet, maybe he was nice enough to give you the LUT he was using to monitor color on set.  By looking at the color, you can begin to get a feel for the mood of the piece, which again, gets you started in the right direction for your musical hunt.

#3: Know your Audience/Target Market

Now this one can be difficult because with the ‘budget squeezing’ we’ve been seeing in our industry, more and more clients are creating less content and pitching it to all the markets, hoping it will land with a few of them. But if the client has a target market in mind for the content, this can be extremely helpful.  For example, one of the brands I work for is a rental-based fashion brand.  Their customers can rent ‘looks’ for the month and can either return them or can purchase and keep their look permanently.  This knowledge helps me understand their target market a bit better and since it’s fashion client, I know the content is going to be seasonal and trend driven. 

That’s an example for one type of client and content creation, while another example is my underwater shooting.  This tends to be slow motion and depending on where I’m diving, determines the water color, either green or blue, which addresses step one and two, but leaves it open ended on step three the ‘target audience’.  For most of my underwater personal work (i.e. not for TV or commercials) I have a theme of conservation, therefore I can better determine my target audience.  With conservation you want to reach a broad audience. You want the older generations to see and hear your message but really, I think it’s more important for the younger generations to see and hear the message.  They are the future, will be coming into voting power, and will be the ones most affected by climate change.  Therefore, my target audience, although broad, will lean towards a younger market.

These tips are the first three areas I consider before I begin my music search, and honestly, it helps me cut my time in half.  An added benefit is it also allows me to find songs for later projects as I’m browsing for the current project, since I’ve come to learn my repeat client’s aesthetics, style, and target audience.  I’ll have days where I’m browsing through AudioMicro.com and I’ll hear a song that may not be right for my fashion client, but would be perfect for that sustainable fish sourcing project I’m working on, so I’ll download it and save it for later.

Hopefully, these tips help you navigate your way through the bumpy seas of finding royalty free music for your client video projects.  Thanks for reading.

______________________________________________________________________________

Ryan Waller is a true nomadic soul, at heart. Finding his grounding in the world of film and motion production, Ryan has been working passionately as a colorist and editor in Los Angeles, California. Ryan’s first love though is and always has been the sea. When he isn’t working on land as a filmmaker and artist, Ryan is leading expeditions on the water teaching people the values of sustainable fishing and proper ecological practices. His merging of art and water has helped him become one of the predominant water based motion picture artists in Los Angeles.

5 Simple Tips for Editing Music in Your Videos

Create Mood and Impact in Your Video Projects

Adding music to your video projects gives them a huge boost of energy and helps you create the right feeling. Music also helps the viewer better understand the meaning of your video and guides them on how to react.

As viewers, we instantly react emotionally as music changes within a film even if what we are seeing lacks significant action. When information is being presented, music creates an enjoyable experience for the viewer and makes it easier for them to keep watching until the end.

However, adding a track to your video and simply letting it play isn’t always enough. There are simple ways you can get the most out of your music with a few editing techniques that provide big impacts.

1. Choose a Track with Musical Variety

Using different sections of one song helps you create the mood of your video project and maintain a flow of sound. By choosing a music track with variation, you can leverage different sections of the track to create the feeling that something new is happening when a track moves from mellow to dramatic, for example.

Look for tracks with faster and slower sections, tracks that add or subtract the amount of instruments during different sections, and tracks with sections that include vocals or change the vocals.

2. Match Movements to the Beat

Make sure what you are visually presenting is consistent with what your viewer is hearing by making your cuts on the beat of the music. You can avoid being predictable by cutting on different types of beats such as beats made by different instruments.

However, synching the visual and auditory experience of your video isn’t just about cuts. Listen for moments in the track when you can line up visual action with the beat of the music. You can even adjust the speed of your video slower or faster to synch better with the music moment and surprise the viewer.

3. Visualize Unique Moments in the Music

Listen for unique moments in your music track where something a little extra or different happens. It may only be a second or two, or it could be an entire 30 seconds, but either way you have to work with.

Match the unique musical moment with a unique visual. It could be captured with a change in expression, change in perspective or change in environment. If you have a longer unique musical moment, it’s a great opportunity for you to include visual footage that otherwise appears out of place.

4. Use J and L Cut Transitions

You can better connect different sections of your video project by using music to overlap your transitions and prepare your viewer for what’s coming next . This is perfect if you are cutting back and forth between quieter sections of someone talking and sections of visual action where you are using music.

Slowly introducing music before you cut to the video section where it will be used is called a J cut. Letting the music continue and fade out and down after you have cut to the next scene is called an L cut. Inside your video editing software, like Premier Pro, you’ll notice these cuts make the shape of a J or L respectively and that’s where they earn their names.

5. Drop Out and In to Music to Create Punctuation

A great way to emphasize something in your video is to abruptly cut the music, feature a scene of interest, and then start the music again. This allows you to create a strong statement, highlight a unique visual moment, or even break for a little humor.

Make your cut on the beat of the music and, if possible, at the end of a musical section. Restart the music on a strong beat and begin a new musical section. This way you will be instantly pulling your viewer back into the action of your video.

Hopefully these quick tips will help you create some emphasis and mood in your next video project. AudioMicro is a great place to find everything you need to make your projects a success, whether it be Royalty-Free Music, or premium Sound Effects.

Let us know what other tips you think would be helpful to editing video projects, in the comments below!


How to Utilize Artificial Intelligence In The Music Industry

One of the goals of the industrial revolution was to have machines simulate physical tasks to produce outputs more efficiently. Fast forward to the present. The purpose of artificial intelligence, also known as AI, is to simulate any mental task. Machine learning is arguably one of the most important subsets of AI because it effects all other fields within AI. In any industry, you have a pattern or a model that you know to be true, you make a prediction, and then you update your model based on the result. This represents the learning process of machine learning. The introduction of this technology into industries like music, online dating, online publications, video-sharing and sports is becoming vital to each organization’s competitive sustainability.

When you lift your sieve out of the water, you pick up dirt, rocks and a whole bunch of stuff you do not need, but somewhere in there is your gold, otherwise known as your actionable engagement data.
When you lift your sieve out of the water, you pick up dirt, rocks and a whole bunch of stuff you do not need, but somewhere in there is your gold, otherwise known as your actionable engagement data. Courtney Menard

The more data you have, the better the accuracy of your machine learning algorithm. In the music industry access to information presents a big challenge, but once you have it, the question becomes, how can you use and manipulate it using machine learning?

Let us quickly recap why access to data is such a big challenge in the music industry.

The picture about depicts the challenges around access to streaming data, otherwise known as 'gold.'
The picture about depicts the challenges around access to streaming data, otherwise known as ‘gold.’ Courtney Menard

DATA ACCESS IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

In this metaphor, the “majors” represent Sony Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. The “streams” represent streaming companies like, but not exclusive to, Spotify and Apple. The “gold” represents consumer data from streaming platforms. The majors and the streams sit knighted at the roundtable. The streams rule the island of consumption and as a result control access to the gold. The majors are granted access to the gold because they own most of the island of content and a share of land on the island of consumption. The independents own a smaller portion in the land of content, and as a result, they have to get their gold from Robin Hood. Also known as direct-to-fan platforms that provide consumer data to artists such as Pledge Music, Hive or Superphone.

The question is, once you have access to the gold, what do you do with it and how can you maximize its value?

ENGAGEMENT DATA IS GOLD

Have you ever been hunting for gold? How do you go about it? You get a sieve, you dip the pan into the water, and you pull up a whole bunch of dirt, mud, rocks, and stuff that you do not need. However, somewhere in there is your gold, otherwise known as your actionable engagement data. Engagement data can be the “rate of collections,” “follower change,” “plays per user,” or a “save,” otherwise known as a “collection” from a playlist. The term, “collection,” on Spotify, refers to when someone listens to a song, presses the add sign and adds the song to their library. Tapping into engagement metrics increase the likelihood of reaching potential super fans. Focusing on engagement data will allow a label to make more targeted business decisions across all verticals while driving revenue. According to a Goldman Sachs report released earlier this year, streaming will drive over $34 billion dollars worth of total revenue in the music business by 2030. That is a whole lot of streams, a whole lot of royalty payments, and a tremendous amount of data.

The motivations of the person holding the filter dictate how the filter is shaped and how the filter is shaped dictates what gold you get.
The motivations of the person holding the filter dictate how the filter is shaped and how the filter is shaped dictates what gold you get.  Courtney Menard

DATA FILTERS

The motivations of the person holding the filter have a direct impact on how the filters are designed, and subsequently how much gold you get. For example, the primary goals for a streaming platform like Apple, Spotify, Google Play or Deezer is to turn non-paying subscribers into paying subscribers. A major label’s goal is to create, and then market hit songs while turning passive fans into super fans, similar to the rabid Beliebers of the world.

Two years ago, Spotify launched a marketing campaign called “Found Them First.” The microsite lets users see which musicians they heard on Spotify before they became a breakout artist. From a label perspective, Spotify quantified what it means to be an early adopting fan. The point is that this potentially impactful mechanism was used to drive subscriber growth, not artist careers.

Industry players who have access to the gold are now competing with the help of their filtration ability. How can you design your sieve to get the gold you need, when you need it, to drive a higher return than your competitor.

But music is not the only industry working to create the perfect filter. In fact, one should pay attention to the advancements being made in other industries because of the parallel applicability to the music industry.

Just like how dating algorithms match couples together, so can those similar algorithms match artists to potential super fans.
Just like how dating algorithms match couples together, so can those similar algorithms match artists to potential super fans.  Courtney Menard

DATING ALGORITHMS & AUTOMATED MARKETING TOOLS

In 2013, Amy Webb went on the TED stage and spoke about hacking the online dating code. She amassed 72 data points of her perfect man, everything from Jewish, to athletic, wants two children, is an adventurer, to even his appreciation of things. It was crucial for Webb that her perfect man appreciated an excellent spreadsheet. She then prioritized each data point, breaking them down into two tiers, giving each data point a score between 1 and 100. Amy then built a scoring system. If her perfect man scored 700 points she would send him an email, if he scored 900 points, she would have a phone call, and if her potential ideal man scored 1500 points, that meant there was long-term relationship potential, and they could go on a date.

Amy started getting all of these fantastic matches, except there was one problem. These men didn’t like her back. Amy had forgotten to analyze the competition. She scraped the top profiles on the dating site, in music this could be compared to examining the social or streaming patterns of similar artists. She analyzed her competition’s photo, humor, tone, voice, communication style, the average length of description, and time between posts. Amy’s profile ended up becoming the highest ranking profile on the dating site. Soon after, a man scored 850 points, which she hadn’t seen before. Three weeks later they went on a date. A year and a half later they got engaged, and two years later they had their first child. Now, If an algorithm can be used to narrow down your choices for a lifelong partner, then an algorithm can be used to find a fan that is guaranteed to spend $100 on your artist per year.

Just as Webb broke down her perfect man into 72 data points, so an artist can break down the characteristics of their potential super fan. For example, suppose Beyonce’s base of super fans could be broken down as female, ages 27-34, with a typical purchasing pattern of buying premium brand diapers because they want to show that they are good mothers. If you rank these points, give them a score and run them through a scoring system. It is then possible to target the fans that are most likely to engage with your artist. For example, if your fan scores 700 points, you send a targeted Facebook ad, if your fan scores 900 points you send them an email and if your fan scores 1500 points you send them a personalized email with a free concert ticket.

The ability to find your true fan suggests that automatic marketing capabilities are not only possible but in our near future. However, the type of marketing actions that a label might engage in will differ based on the stage of the artist and genre. This assumes that fan types differ per genre and fan engagement differs depending on the stage of the artist. However, online dating algorithms are not the only industry that provides interesting parallels to music.

The image above showcases different types of engagement metrics as well as data that is insightful but not necessarily actionable.
The image above showcases different types of engagement metrics as well as data that is insightful but not necessarily actionable. Courtney Menard

YOUTUBE & RECOMMENDATION ENGINES

Assume that you have access to granular level engagement data from streaming platforms such as the “rate of collections” and the “rate of replays per user,” all by a zip code level granularity. How could you use this information to not only target market but predict the likelihood of a potential superfan? The best industry parallel to consider in this example is YouTube’s Recommendation algorithm.

Youtube, fueled by their parent company’s artificial intelligence division, Google Brain, has successfully accelerated their recommendation capabilities through a series of micro-improvements. For example, roughly four years ago, YouTube made its first significant improvement to its recommendation algorithm when it decided to value the number of times users spent watching a video more than the number of video clicks per person. With this one move, creator’s saw their view counts decline, who had originally profited from misleading headlines and thumbnails. All of a sudden, higher quality videos which were directly correlated with long watch times came to the forefront. As a result, watch time on YouTube grew 50% year over year over the next three years.

Google Brain learns independently by picking up on less apparent patterns at an accelerated rate. This technique is called unsupervised learning. Another micro-change caused by Google Brain was the choice by YouTube to recommend shorter videos for users on mobile apps and longer videos on YouTube’s TV app. Google brain picked up on the notion that varying video length by platform would result in higher watch times. In music, this could be compared to varying advertising length based on the platform assuming shorting ads for mobile and longer ads for the desktop.

In 2016, Youtube launched 190 micro-changes on Google Brain and is said to be on pace to release 300 more microswitches by 2017. The implementation of Google Brain has increased the time people spend watching videos on YouTube by 70%.

Deep Reinforcement learning technology like this will be a catalyst to drive the music industry forward. This will likely be the case for United Masters, a recently publicized record label. Led by Steve Stoute, the former president of Interscope records, $70 million dollars was raised in a Series A investor round, led by Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet. Other investors include Floodgate, Andreessen Horowitz, and 20th Century Fox. One of the company’s core competencies will be its ability to target market high potential superfans based on learned data from sources including YouTube and Spotify.

Image above showcases examples of actionable engagement metrics.
Image above showcases examples of actionable engagement metrics. Courtney Menard

NBA & IDENTIFYING PATTERNS

When Joe Lacob became the owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, he adopted a data-driven strategy. Lacob and his team analyzed player behavior across the NBA and identified the number of three-point shots taken as being “market inefficient.” They concluded that roughly the same number of shots were being made from just inside the three-point line as outside it. Therefore they built their strategy around the notion that if their players, particularly Stephen Curry moved back a few inches from the three-point line before shooting, it would improve their point scoring average by 43%. With a data-driven strategy, Jacob Lacob took the Golden State Warriors, a team that hadn’t won an NBA Championship since 1975, to win against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 Championships.

The NBA identified a pattern based on a common activity within the game. Here are a few examples where patterns are likely to be found in the music industry; the genre of playlists people are listening to, the time of day people listen to certain genres, and the effect that holidays, political events, or an artist’s passing have on music consumption.

Image above showcases another example of engagement data.
Image above showcases another example of engagement data. Courtney Menard

BUZZFEED & ENGAGEMENT DATA

Buzzfeed is a social news and entertainment company. Buzzfeed invented an internal proprietary metric that curates articles based on reader preference. They do this by measuring the “rate of shares over time,” within the first weeks of an article’s release. Buzzfeed decided that a reader sharing a piece was more valuable than a click. Have you ever clicked on an article or played a song and walked away from your computer? What the act of sharing an article or saving a song to your Spotify collections shows is a higher level of engagement in comparison to a stream or a click. Arguably, this is helping to ensure a return on your investment.

So a “share” is more valuable than a “click,” and a “collection” is more valuable than a “stream.” By calculating the “rate of shares over time” or the “rate of collections over time,” you’re not only making sure that the consumers you are targeting are engaged but that they are growing significantly over time.

As of mid-2017, Buzzfeed was estimated at approximately $1.7 billion dollars and was processing roughly seven billion monthly content views.

With the sheer volume of streaming data growing year over year, the ability to enhance and fine-tune marketing capabilities in the music industry is endless. It comes down to access to the data that you need and the software capabilities to intelligently process and act upon that information. Moving forward into 2030, success as a label will come down to a company’s ability to pair its human capital with intelligent software.

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Kristin Westcott Grant. Contributor

Kristin Westcott Grant. Contributor

I am the CEO of Westcott Multimedia, an advertising technology and software firm that leverages streaming data to optimize online engagement for the entertainment industry. I am originally from Toronto, Canada or as Drake calls it, “The 6.” As a contributor at AudioMicro.com, I write about the business of music technology, media and entertainment. Previously I managed Global Playlist Strategies at Universal Music Group in Nashville and worked as an Entertainment Analyst at Magna Investments in New York City. I received my Masters in Music & Business from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture and studied at the Stern School of Business. My work has also appeared in Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Medium and The Hook Brief.