Category Archives: Music

Music Trends & Issues on Modern Media Mix

NAB Show 2016 Recap

Ten students from the University of Northern Iowa had the opportunity to participate in the 3rd Annual Expedition to the NAB Show in Las Vegas this spring. They studied everything from post production editing and media distribution to the latest trends in virtual reality. Check out their videos on the UNI Digital Media Leadership YouTube channel and like our Facebook Page for more post-show updates!

NAB Show 2016 Overview

Here is an overview of the NAB Show 2016. This will give you look and the size and scope of the convention and a taste of the fun these students had.

 

Post Production Overview

Check out the latest in post production software and equipment. These students got a firsthand look at the latest products from companies like Black Magic, Adobe, and GoPro.

 

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality was a hot topic this year at the NAB Show. Media producers are experimenting with new ways of storytelling and incorporating VR into new media work flows.

Media Distribution

The world of media distribution is constantly changing and the sources of revenue for content has shifted a lot in the last few years. See how come companies are staying ahead of the curve.

 

Special thanks to the IBA for making this trip possible! We’re looking forward to next year’s trip and planning to bring you more great content straight from the NAB Show floor.

NAB Show 2016 UNI Digital Media Leadership

Living Room Raving All the Rage

Miami Music Week draws hundreds of thousands of eager dance music enthusiasts to club, pool and yacht parties to celebrate dance music and everything it represents. And that’s just the first few days leading up to the main event, Ultra Music Festival.

Miami Music Week

Since it’s inception in 1999, Ultra Music Festival has been a dominant and influential power in the electronic music industry. Due to its unique positioning so early in the year, UMF attendees were the very first to hear the latest and greatest tunes that are sure to continue rocking festival stages and dance floors for the rest of the year. That is, until UMFtv broke onto the scene.

Beginning in 2012, the Ultra livestream has quickly boomed from a casual, under promoted fling to a full blown rave-from-your-couch event. My friends and I actually schedule parties around the livestream.

Flash forward to 2015, and Ultra Music Festival officials decided to change the streaming platform from YouTube to a platform called Twitch.tv, exclusively. Twitch has been expanding in growth and popularity recently due to the rise of eSports streaming, which is what the platform was created for in the first place.

According to an interview with BusinessWire, Adam Russakoff, Director of Business Affairs for Ultra said, “We are always pushing the envelope, working with the most innovative companies to stay ahead of the curve and offer our fans as much value as possible.” In an interview with Billboard, Colin Carrier, CSO and Head of Music at Twitch claimed “…being able to host the Ultra Music Festival on our platform with sponsorship from a brand like 7UP is testament to the power of live social video.”

Now, with the entire world glued to their preferred media streaming device, UMFtv broadcasts DJs and other tastemakers showing us the direction that they believe the “in” sound is going. Not to the surprise of anyone, they’re fairly accurate.

In order to demonstrate the magnitude of Ultra’s influence on the dance music scene, a simple search on the electronic music bazaar Beatport is all that is needed.

Considered by some to be the “Biggest Track of Ultra Music Festival 2015,” Valentino Khan’s “Deep Down Low” was officially released on March 17th, 2015 on Grammy award winner Skrillex’s record label, OWSLA. Despite wearing the impressive moniker that is OWSLA, the track initially did not see impressive sales. But when it came time for the headlining acts to take the mainstage at Ultra, “Deep Down Low” became the star of the show. As of February 2016, “Deep Down Low” was the number one most downloaded OWSLA track on Beatport.

With the electronic music industry only seeing continued growth, I don’t think we’ll see the influence of Miami Music Week diminishing anytime soon. Many critics and skeptics point at the electronic music “bubble” popping at any moment due to the amount of corporate money that has been put into the industry, but that certainly will not stop the creatives from putting their passion and energy into doing what they love most. See you all at my Ultra 2016 livestream party!

Cal Gruening

Discover Dylan Again: The Cutting Edge Bootlegs

“To live outside the law you must be honest”, Dylan sneers as he rounds out the second verse of another lyrical masterpiece. Indeed, he’s been doing just that for a career approaching the six decade mark, and “The Cutting Edge,” the newest in a long-running series of official bootlegs and unreleased material, gives an unprecedented look into the mind of America’s greatest living artist from his most eclectic period.

Bob DylanThe trilogy of “Bringing It All Back Home”, “Highway 61 Revisited”, and “Blonde on Blonde”, still stands today as the most impressive creative output by any American artist in a short timeframe. In 1964, Dylan stood alone, armed with only an acoustic guitar, harmonica, and an unbelievable ability to write songs of succinct poetic power. By the end of 1966, he’s touring with a revved up electric rock band, singing twelve minute ballads about literary cornerstones, and has completely changed the face of rock music forever.

The Cutting Edge is the behind-the-scenes look at everything that went on in the studio during that eighteen-month period of creative output.  It includes takes of classic songs that were tossed or rearranged, extra verses and alternate lyrics, and even some songs that were cut completely from the album, and were never heard from again.

We’ve all heard these songs hundreds of times. “Just Like a Woman”, “She Belongs to Me”, “Like a Rolling Stone”, these are all classic Dylan tunes. As such, the original recordings might not have the same surprise or edge to them that they might have once had. We now know every note, every harmonica break, every asthmatic sneer. Getting a new look at these songs is refreshing, and a reminder of what made us all fall in love the first time we heard these songs.

But we didn’t hear these songs by accident, as Dylan was not an underground artist at the time. Many of these songs were on the Billboard 100, if not in the Top 20, unthinkable by the pop music standards of today. As such, we know that then and now Dylan has always had the savvy marketing department of Colombia Records at his fingertips to handle every distribution deal, and every dime dealt.

They once again have done a fine job for this release. They’ve produced a promotional video voiced by Penn Jillette (above) to tell the story of this particular package. Colombia is aware there are many different levels of Dylan fans to engage with in the marketplace. There are always going to be college kids listening to the new album, and for that audience they’ve put out a twelve song “best of” CD. This solely includes the alternate tracks to the most famous songs from this era.

Bob Dylan CDsThey’ve also released a six CD Collector’s Edition for fans that engage beyond just the greatest hits. Where Colombia has really gone all out, though, is the 18-Disc Limited Collectors Edition. This includes every note that Dylan recorded in this period, along with art books, photographs and memorabilia. There are many fans who were just kids when these songs were recorded, who are in positions of relative power now. They can afford the $599 price tag on the collector’s edition and not think twice about something they consider high art. For the rest of us there’s always the distilled CD release, and the internet radio services to rely on.

Dylan has never been afraid to try something new or different. At first glance the inclusion of a karaoke-based mini game on his website to promote this new compilation might seem out of place, but once you remember just who we’re trying to promote it somehow makes perfect sense. The game requires you to hook up a microphone to your computer, and sing-along to “Like a Rolling Stone”. If you can match Dylan’s unique pitch and timbre, you unlock a bonus track to sing to. I personally got 92%, and if anyone reading this can beat me, I’ll gladly lend you my copy of the CD.

The website also includes the ability to play around with the mixes of the song, and the presentation is phenomenal. You can hear tapes winding in the background as well as Dylan’s asthmatic coughing and wheezing. There’s three different “session” types to play around with. The first is called “Jam Session”, where you can jerk around with the different instrumental tracks + Dylan’s voice to create your own arrangement of the iconic tracks. A “Listening Session” mode, where you can scroll through time and listen to the development of some of these songs. If songwriting was a sport, it’s definitely a game of inches, and that’s no more obvious than in this mode here. Thirdly is the aforementioned karaoke session. Who else is doing this kind of interactive promotional material? It’s different, engaging, and most of all fits the theme of the artist and his music perfectly.

If there’s one thing Dylan has done over the past five decades, it’s subvert expectations. From folk music to rock ’n roll, to gospel, Frank Sinatra and more, he’s never looked back to where he had been, only to the horizon. More importantly, when he does pursue something new, he never breaks away from bringing a piece of himself to the new medium. Even now at seventy-five years old, he’s releasing interesting bootlegs of older material, touring like a man in his twenties, and putting out wonderful new records. The marketing is reflective of that, and it all speaks to a man who shows no signs of slowing down or giving up just yet.

Like the song says, “He not busy being born is busy dying”.

Sam Strajack

Social Media Marketing: How Music Festivals Are Advertising FO FREE

SMO or Social Media Optimization seems to be the game changer in today’s media driven world. Social media is an extremely easy and cheap way to market any brand and is accessible to basically anyone. So it only makes sense that there is still a more efficient way of using a free and open service. The music industry is one segment of the media that has taken full advantage of social media and its marketing practices. In this article I will discuss the ways in which music festivals such as Tomorrowland, EDC, Electric Forest, and Okeechobee use social media as their primary marketing medium.

YouTube: YouTube is known for entertaining others with it’s user generated content. It also houses a lot of paid for advertising that are at the beginning of most videos. Music festivals however, have found a better way to market than just paying for ads. Instead, they create trailers, after movies, sneak peek, and production videos for their youtube channel. Tomorrowland owes a lot of their global recognition to its Aftermovie views on YouTube.

Click the photo to experience the magic of Tomorrowland.

Twitter: Twitter has become the reliable source for festival information. When I am looking for an updated lineup or tour dates, my first search is within Twitter. It has also become the number one place for a flow of communication between the consumers and businesses. With Twitter holding business accountable, customer service has been able to improve as well.

Electric Forest

Snapchat: Snapchat is used in a number of different ways. Sometimes the festivals hardly have to participate and curated user generated content advertises for itself. Recently, festivals have been creating their own Snapchat name and allowing artists to take over the account in order to advertise the event and get people interested. It’s shameless self promotion for both the artists and the festival, what a win win.

Instagram: Instagram has become the platform for different competitions, such as photo contests, scavenger hunts, or voting for new DJs to perform. Since Instagram is basically archived photos, it creates a feeling of nostalgia for those that have attended previous events. For prospective attendees, short clips and photos give an individual an idea of what the environment will be like.

Instagram

Facebook: Facebook groups are not only a way to advertise and create an event, but also a way to connect people who have similar interests. In the cases of festivals, a lot of groups are created in order to share festival information, help consumers trade tickets, and also collaborate on camping groups or car rides. It helps build a community before the event begins.

Austin Red Smith

These are just a few of the ways in which social media can be used to market. To check out more tips for social media marketing. click here.

Partnerships: In addition to utilizing social media to its fullest degree, partnerships are also a huge part of advertising for music festivals. Common partnerships are made with companies like Red Bull, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Pandora, Sirius XM, Coke, and more. These partners oftentimes hold their own ad campaigns using footage from previous events. They also host VIP lounges, where they give out samples, play games, and interact with attendees. These partnerships end up being great ways for both businesses to gain exposure. An example of some partnerships made with Okeechobee this year can be found at the bottom of their webpage.

So as we conclude, I hope that this article has not only convinced you of the magic behind social media marketing, but it has also peaked your interests in music festivals and similar events. Especially now that you know all the information is housed right there in your twitter feed.

Sam Fickett

Spotify: Who’s the Real Enemy?

Music is the most universally emotional device in the world. Whether it’s a first world country full of technology or a tribe of indigenous people with a bunch of handmade drums, music plays a role in their culture. There’s something about music that allows people to connect to emotions. Whenever I’m feeling nostalgic, I put on The Early November.

With that being said, it’s obvious that the music industry is a multibillion-dollar industry. But the question remains, how do these companies get music into the listener’s hands? Since there is so much money involved, the market is plenty saturated. The mainstream methods of my youth were CDs. One would go to their local Sam Goody, Hastings, or Best Buy and pick up the album of an up and coming artist on a Tuesday. However, that has changed drastically.

spotify streamingIn 1999, Napster was created to allow anyone to file-share music. Due to the legal infractions on copyright, it didn’t last long. Fast-forward to 2006, Spotify was founded. Rather than file sharing, Spotify allows listeners to stream music on an ad-based platform or pay up to $9.99 for an ad-free listening experience on the go with access through smartphones.

This seemed like a great outlet for artists to get exposure through digital distribution and to make a little money on the side. You can find pretty much any song from any artist on there. However, there have been mixed reviews about whether or not this is good for the music industry.

Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify last year. She believes that Spotify is robbing artists of money and squashing creativity. Swift told Business Insider, “I’m always up for trying something. And I tried it and I didn’t like the way it felt. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art.” She went on to explain that streaming has greatly decreased the amount of money artists can make.

Spotify DownloadDaniel Ek, CEO of Spotify feels differently about their distribution model. Ek explained in an article that “Our whole reason for existence is to help fans find music and help artists connect with fans through a platform that protects them from piracy and pays them for their amazing work.” He continued stating that the real enemy is piracy. Piracy is how listeners are stealing from artists. Spotify has paid out $2 billion dollars to artists since it’s inception. That’s compared to a whopping $0 that piracy has contributed.

Victory recordsIt’s clear that Spotify has paid out artists compared to other venues like Pirate Bay. But there is some shady stuff going on. Last week, I was feeling nostalgic again and I tried to pull up Hawthorne Heights to only find that it has been removed from Spotify. In anger and frustration, I began to blame Victory records for removing their artists from Spotify.

After a little digging, I found that Spotify is allegedly the one to blame at this point. The record label was quoted in a Rolling Stone article saying, “Victory Records’ catalog of music was pulled from Spotify last night [Monday] as a result of Spotify not properly paying publishing revenues due to Victory Records’ artists in blatant violation of US Copyright laws.” However, it came out that Victory records is not paying their artists and holding all the profit. Spotify will likely resolve this issue with Victory Records once they make some form of agreement to pay out artists properly.

The way people are receiving content whether it is movies or music is evolving into a streaming method. Ek said Spotify is not only streaming, but mainstreaming. It will affect content creators regardless, but is it wise to go against the grain? Ironically enough, the week after Taylor Swift pulled 1989 from Spotify, it was the number one downloaded album on Pirate Bay.

Peter Seifert

Is Spotify Good or Evil?

With over 50 million users across the globe, Spotify is the leader of all of the online music streaming services. Spotify has had an increase in profits but has also had an increase in loss. The New York Times reported that Spotify earned $1.3 Billion dollars in 2014, a 45% increase from the previous year.

Spoify logoBut along with the increase in revenue Spotify also lost a total of $197 million dollars, more than the $68 million that they had lost the year before. Spotify blamed the loss of revenue on the employee hiring that they had done that year stating that they had hired 958 new employees.

As the leading music streaming site it is important for Spotify to have popular artists so that they can increase the number of paid subscribers to help increase their revenue. The only issue is that Spotify pays artists .00068 cents per stream. While plays keep adding up it can lead up to quite a large sum of money but not as much money as if people had actually bought the music.

Time Magazine reported on how much the top songs were making. Calvin Harris’ song “Summer” made a total of $1.7 million dollars in 2014. It had a total of 203 million streams throughout the year. While to the common person that seems like a lot of money, artists have a completely different opinion.

Last November Taylor Swift made a giant splash right before her 1989 album release. Taylor Swift decided to take her music off of Spotify, saying:

“I felt like I was saying to my fans, ‘If you create music someday, if you create a painting someday, someone can just walk into a museum, take it off the wall, rip off a corner off it, and it’s theirs now and they don’t have to pay for it.’ I didn’t like the perception that it was putting forth. And so I decided to change the way I was doing things.”

taylor swift and spotifyTaylor Swift has a respectable opinion on it. Swift didn’t like her music being on Spotify because, “I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music.” Most people would agree with her, but some people would think that having her fans enjoy her music is better than her getting compensated for it.

Pirating has become such an issue with music over the past few years. Having your music on Spotify creates a little bit of revenue and it is better than receiving nothing for your music at all.

Even though Spotify may not be beneficial to mainstream artists it is however extremely beneficial for underground and local artists. It is really easy for underground and local music to be spread around. Artists can put their music up for free and can be spread across by word of mouth. People can suggest a band and tell their friends that they are on Spotify and then that person can just whip out their phone and find them in the blink of an eye.

There are pros and cons of Spotify. A con would be that mainstream artists do not feel like they are being compensated. A pro is that it can be beneficial to not very well known artists. Maybe Spotify will increase the amount of money for ad free streaming to try and keep the popular artists there or maybe they will find something else. Will Spotify stay the top streaming site over the next couple of years?

Daniel Hampe

Death to the Download: Why the Competition for Listens is Tougher Than Ever

For most of the 2000’s, digital music downloads made up the majority of ways people would buy and listen to music. Everyone you knew in 2008 had an iPod/mp3 player and if they didn’t, they sure wanted one. To be able to take your little square music box and your white headphones anywhere you wanted was a total game changer. This was the way we listened and would continue to listen to music forever. Or so we thought…

Streaming MusicWith the emergence of streaming websites such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Tidal, we no longer have to pay for each individual song. Remember the countless hours of putting together the perfect playlist and waiting through downloads upon downloads? Well now Spotify does that for you. Do you remember spending hours and hours surfing the net to find that new sound you had been looking for? It was just barely worth showing your friends the next big song. Now Pandora does that for you.

Pandora LogoPandora is a massive player in the music streaming industry. Pandora was founded in 2000, establishing itself as one of the first sites to jump start the streaming bandwagon. Pandora attempts to be a different animal, and the same beast (maybe this will make that reference work a little bit better for you). It changes the game with how it lets you stream music. You don’t pick songs to listen to, you pick a song you like and it plays you songs that you would be interested in based on that selection. This clearly has it’s uses, and its drawbacks.

Spotify LogoAnother one of the music industry giants that contributed to the gradual decline of download music is Spotify. Based on its website, Spotify claims to have over 75 million active users. If each of those users listen to one song a day (which some won’t, but some could listen to dozens a day) that’s at least 75 million plays a day. I imagine the number is much higher than that, but that is a lot of traffic on one site. Spotify also boasts a library of more than 30 million songs, rivaling that of Apple Music. These numbers should be more than terrifying to Apple and Amazon, similar to trends of people ditching cable for streaming, it is apparent that people know what they want, and they aren’t going away from it any time soon.

Apple Music  Tidal Music

Apple Music and Tidal are a little bit new to the streaming scene. Apple quickly recognized that what it was doing before was no longer an option, so they had to change. Enter Apple Music. It’s a streaming service that for a monthly fee you can listen to all of the songs that you want on itunes. It also creates playlist based on songs you already have downloaded. It is by Apple obviously, so people like it because they already have their macbooks and iphones so the integration is nice.

Tidal is a new company that is more for the artist. Tidal, by far, pays more to the artist for their music. Spotify pays the least. Tidal is a pretty fresh concept and so far hasn’t worked out like they had planned. It definitely has potential, but it is almost too early to tell in many ways.

Company Pros Cons
Spotify User friendly, large library, free. Ads, some artist refuse to use it (Taylor Swift).
Pandora Free, large library. Can’t choose specific song.
Apple Music Apple integration, large library, huge potential. Not free, relatively new and unknown.
Tidal Jay Z’s circle, fresh idea, pays more. Not free, to new to fully understand.

To me the clear winner in this comparison is Spotify. It has a hold on the streaming game and is not about to let go any time soon. That being said, Apple Music and Tidal do have the potential to overtake Spotify if they make all the right moves. If Jay Z can get music that other services can’t, it will put a real strangle hold on Spotify. Apple Music already has the plat form to be successful. They just need to utilize what they have and not be ignorant to what the people want. As for now, however, it is and will continue to be all about Spotify.

Trey Kamberling

Daniel Ek And Spotify: Top Of The Game, But Still Wanting More

Daniel Ek is 31 years old. As college students, we are only a few years younger. But by the age of 31, Ek has developed Spotify, a powerful music streaming service that is not only the most convenient and vast, but is feeding the music industry millions upon millions of dollars.

Daniel EkEk’s path to captaining this juggernaut of the music streaming industry is not unlike other music service moguls, such as Sean Parker of Napster. Joining forces with Parker, Ek was caught up in the “pirate band” of the mid-2000s. The problem with this craze was that it was not at all legal.

Spotify is different. Using advertisements and paid subscriptions (no more than $10 a month), they can effectively pay artists royalties depending on the amount of plays each song gets. Some artists such as Thom Yorke and Taylor Swift (who recently had all of her tracks removed from the service) believe Spotify hurts the industry greatly, but since all artists are welcome, it can be a great tool for artist exposure.

The growth of Spotify in the last few years is astounding. Available in over 50 countries, it is an international force that brings in all kinds of revenue. Artists are being paid millions of dollars. But Ek still wants more. “I’m an impatient guy, so while we’ve added almost 30 countries, we want to move faster and get the industry back to growth again.”

Although artists, critics and fans complain of the decline of the music industry as a whole, there’s no doubt that the growth of Spotify has propelled it past a number of highly touted competitors, such as Pandora. While Pandora is a glorified radio station, Spotify allows a vast and precise library for any user to browse. It even offers a radio function not unlike Pandora’s, allowing a great deal of user control and choices. This is all while Spotify pays out about 6 times more per track play than Pandora. But how could they possibly improve Spotify beyond catalog size and convenience?

Spotify Year in Music“We can take this technological shift, and move it from not just being about listening to music, to being about even how we create music. Because for me, music has always been constrained by the format it’s been on” stated Ek in an interview with Charlie Rose. I agree that with any music provider, no matter how much is available and how many options you have to do with it, it has not gone past being viewed as a utility, rather than a creative, interactive experience.

Interactivity is the next big step for Spotify gaining momentum with not only the utility of a music player, but the social aspect of music sharing and the creation of music. Ek can see it happening, and at such a young age, anything is possible with such a trailblazing visionary at the helm.

With any company, however, there are some questions that have to be answered in time. Will the royalty checks get any larger for artists? How will new creative features of Spotify work, and how will they be received?

Stay tuned, but more importantly, keep listening.

-Brendan Wood