Wrapping Up the Cloud (Pt. 5 – Finale)

Flatpicking acoustic guitar guru Tony Rice can be found in The Cloud at the music streaming service Grooveshark.

With the enormous amount of musical data floating around the Internet and the seemingly unlimited number of ways to distribute it, I begrudgingly admit that I only have a  limited amount of time and space to dedicate to the subject, therefore I am wrapping up my multi-part series on Music in The Cloud.  Constraints aside, this post will look at some of the other portions of The Cloud that help musicians promote their music.

The Swedish music streaming company Spotify has become a major player in the music industry in just four short years.  As a “freemiuim” service Spotify allows registered users to search through and play millions of selected music tracks from a range of major and independent record labels.  Commercial advertisements are frequently interjected into the music stream for the free portion of the service, but listeners who upgrade to the premium (paid) service lose the ads and gain access to higher bit rate streams and mobile phone apps.

The way that Spotify benefits the independent musician is that it pays royalties to artists and/or labels for every time they play their song.  Because all the music played on Spotify is tracked – all participating labels and artists have access to reporting from Spotify allowing the artist the ability to see where and how their popularity is growing.  Spotify actually encourages independent artists to use artist aggregators in order to license their music so that it can be  played on music streaming sites.  For instance, Tunecore is one of many digital music distributors (or aggregators) that enters into agreements with music labels and artists. For a fee, Tunecore will distribute and stream digital copies of single tracks or entire albums to retail outlets like iTunes and amazon.com or music streaming sites like Spotify. Some of the other benefits Tunecore claims to offer musicians (from Tunecore’s website):

  • Musicians retain 100% of royalties and maintain all rights to their music
  • Songs can be made available on music video games like Rock Band
  • Physical on-demand distribution at Amazon
  • A streaming music player for the musicians’ webpage that plays the artists’ own music
  • Physical distribution, licensing and endorsement deals
  • Free digital cover art or physical CD art

Music streaming sites are usually heavily embedded with social media features as well.  Grooveshark, another music streaming service, allows users to sign in with their Facebook, twitter or Google plus account. As users listen to songs, they can post comments and the link to the music on their social media page of preference.  This has huge benefits for musicians when building a fanbase.  For artists, the task of gaining exposure through “word-of-mouth” promotion is transformed online with these types of embedded social media applications.

I’m sure this will not be the last post regarding music in The Cloud, but I want to open the blog to another range of topics. And besides, it’s been too long since I mentioned Valient Thorr.

Till next time…

Happy New Year from The Cloud (Pt. One)

Image

Taking time out over the holidays to visit friends and family in the US, I managed to have a few conversations with different musicians and what I’ve quickly learned is that there are a lot of choices available when it comes to getting their music out there. In lieu of radio airplay which can be unheard of for certain styles of music, the “cloud” is the de facto place that hosts music. Because this post could get excruciatingly long, I am going to break it up into different parts.  Welcome to part one.

I was going to reserve an entire post for itunes and I may revisit it later, but one can not talk about hosting music in the cloud without talking about itunes’s contribution.  Whereas music was once bought, sold and traded as a tangible formats (CD’s, tapes, vinyl records), now a single song takes up virtual space on a server  in Silicon Valley and can be downloaded in an instant.  But in order to be a partner with itunes musicians must enter into agreement that shares rights with Apple on all downloads and meet stringent requirements (like a 20 album catalog!)  But I don’t want to turn this into a itunes post.  My goal is to cover just a few of the other cloud hosting spots for music.

Youtube is also another good source for musicians to post their music. ( I’ve created a page that has some of my favorite videos here.)  Although some bands can’t afford to produce a music video they can simply post a picture of the band or of their album cover (or even a video of the song being played on a turntable) while the song plays.

Soundcloud not only allows musicians to upload their music but record directly onto their “cloud.” The sounds canthen be shared private publicly or posted to social network platforms.  Musicians can also join groups within the website and communicate with other musicians or fans.

Bandcamp is quickly becoming a favorite among artists.  It is a site that allows bands to truly “own” their space.  Bands can create the look of their page, upload their music and videos, host comments, etc.  Bandcamp also doesn’t have awkward ads and links that clutter up the artists’ page.  The website earns a 15% commission on all sales from the artists’ sites.

And with that, I’ll end part one.  Next time, more cloud.