Tag Archives: recommendation engines

A Look at New Artist Revenue Model: The Social Radio – By the Numbers

For those that don’t yet know, Beat-Play will be introducing the first ever social radio to the web in a few short months. It will run off of Facebook and will be fueled by social recommendations. With this radio app, if you like a song, it will automatically get sent to your friend’s radios, if they are following you. If they like it then, they pass it on to their followers.

Not only is this an awesome (free) form of viral promotion and distribution, but it can also be a completely new revenue model for artists as well, and I believe it’s a model worth looking deeper into, and worth doing some comparisons with what else is out there right now.

In this new model, the music is free for the fans. The artists will get paid based on ad revenues generated from their popularity. The artists essentially get paid from their plays. The more average plays/day they get, the more an artist can charge for their ad space (artists set their own prices).

Let’s get right to the numbers. We’ll start with an artist having an average of 20,000 plays/day. This may sound like a lot, but you must remember the environment that this will be in. With this viral automated word-of-mouth system, a steady supply of great music will always be fed right to the users without them having to search, and being filtered through people they trust, so the chances of them liking the music are greater as well.

With this system, the playing field would finally be leveled: If the music isn’t good, it won’t spread very far; if it is good, it will spread like wildfire.

As long as the artists pump out a steady supply of great music themselves, with even the smallest pre-established fan base to start with, I think building up to an average of 20,000 plays/day can be pretty achievable in not such a long time, with the right amount of hard work being focused to where it should be: on the music.

An ad appears every time a song plays. The ads themselves are unobtrusive and not interruptive, although they could be quite interactive and engaging if clicked, instead of damaging to the user’s experience. So say an artist has an average of 20,000 plays per day for a whole year, and the average price for their ad space is $6/1000 plays. At this price, the artist, in that one year, would make approx. $43,800.00 before taxes. Of course that also doesn’t include any merchandise or tour money.

That’s not too bad at all! Let’s compare this model now to some other artist revenue models out there.

I’m sure you’ve seen the following chart at some point before. I will use their averages because I feel they’re still pretty accurate.

So in the new social radio model, to make $43,800.00/year, the artist would need 7.3 million plays in that year. (Think about artists that get millions of plays in a day)

For Last.fm, according to the chart, to earn just $13,920 in one year, which is the US minimum wage, an artist would have to have 18.5 million plays in that year. To earn $43,800 on Last.fm, they’d have to have almost 60 million plays in one year!

It’s hard to compare this model with CD Baby or Itunes, because these 2 models are based on sales, not plays, and there will always be more plays than sales, but let’s try to compare anyway:

For an artist to earn approx. $43,800.00 on Itunes, they would have to sell over 450,000 singles; On CDbaby, over 75,000 singles. That’s a lot of credit card transactions no matter which site you choose.

Think about this too, when you make your money off of downloads, your only getting paid to sell a copy. That copy will get listened to hundreds, or thousands of times after the sale, but you only get paid once. Now I hope you can see the potential in the opportunity to monetize the plays of songs, with a proper ad model, instead of just selling copies to fans who love to share.

With this new model, the artists may finally be able to make a decent living off of just making and circulating their music, without having to kill themselves to market and promote their music, without signing away their souls for a distribution deal, and without having to worry about piracy taking all of their money! Maybe, with this new system, artists will be able to make the kind of money they should be making when they factor in shows, merch, music licensing, and any other opportunities that a model like this could potentially present.

I urge all independent artists to consider supporting a model like this, and to think about the kind of effect this model could have on your career. I’m an indie artist myself. It’s about time we start using a model that works for us.

If you would like to help us test this model, right now we need artists and music to be submitted to our social radio so we can continue testing internally. We’re getting really close to our Facebook launch.

Written by: Dante Cullari – Founder & CEO Beat-Play, LLC

How to Promote your Music Without Spamming – Part 2

As you may or may not have read in part 1 of this post, which was almost 8 months ago now, the mainstream industry is a sinking ship. I’d like to dive into that concept a little bit more, because last time I don’t think I went in depth enough about it.

The mainstream industry is a sinking ship, and the independent one is struggling pretty much just as much as it always has. Let’s look at the reasons why.

Having talked to independent artists from all over the world, it’s apparent that no matter where you go, they all have the same problems: Promotion, Distribution, and now Piracy. Piracy doesn’t seem to be as big of a problem for independents, while promotion and distribution doesn’t seem to be as big of a problem for mainstream artists. Nevertheless, these are the Big 3.

It all comes down to the Internet at this point. One can conclude that because the internet has already been responsible for an increase in the amount of options available, in terms of promotion and distribution, for independent artists especially, that this trend will continue. So it is interesting to look at what exactly this will mean for music. It’s also interesting to note that the internet is actually responsible for the piracy problem for the mainstream industry, even though it has proven to have been a positive force for indie artists.

The trick is now to get a solution that solves all three problems, because even though independents aren’t plagued by piracy as much right now, it’s a problem they may be forced to face if they do get more popular, within the current industry model.

The solution starts at the root – the internet. It may seem like the internet has attributed to many advances in indie promotion and distribution such as Myspace, iTunes, and Tunecore, but you must also look at it like this: The internet right now is also responsible for any limitations that still exist online. There is a great potential that has not been reached yet with online technology, and so all the problems that artists have these days – the big 3 – are all caused by the internet.

So how do you solve this? Do we fix the internet? …Yes. It may sound weird, but the internet does not work as good as it could, and in fact, the internet is not properly set up to handle music right now. There is a lot of potential left that has not been reached. Within this potential is a solution to piracy as well.

The internet is a visual medium, inherently, and so there are many more tools for other visual mediums online than there are for auditory ones right now, meaning that it’s easier to promote a visual medium online at the moment. For example, if you’re a photographer, you could change your Facebook profile picture every day if you wanted to and just leave a couple posts and people would be introduced to your work in its full glory.

In a world where music is a huge part of people’s everyday lives, relying on an environment that until this point has been primarily based on visual mediums, to support not only the music itself, but the whole industry as well, is a huge problem that needs to be fixed, both for the fans and for the artists. Think about this..right now, besides recommendation engines like Pandora, that mainly only work for artists that are already known, the only way to hear someone’s music is to click on a link.(This mainly applies to independents – the majority of the industry)

No matter where you go online, there must be a translation of your piece of audio content – your music, into this visual world. So this music that can sometimes be incredibly original and incredibly outstanding, is reduced to a link or small icon if you’re lucky, that could never even begin to represent all of the complexity in that piece of music, and that may in fact strike an incredible resemblance to every other link on the web. It is because of this system that there is a mass influx of links to people’s music, and the inability to sort them or categorize them in any certain way means that these links can become essentially spam. You probably see them all the time if you have a facebook or myspace page. Everybody wants you to check out their music…and maybe you do one day, and you hate it. It will probably deter you from ever clicking on one of those links again, and at that point, all the links become full-fledged spam for that user.

So how do you translate music into this visual world without stripping it of all of it’s meaning? You don’t. You build an audio world along side the visual one. A platform – a community online – a website – that is streamlined to handle music – serving as enhanced music discovery for the fans, and enhanced promotion and distribution for the artists as a result.

So now that the underlying problem of the internet’s inadequacy has a solution  – I give you the without spamming part – and the piracy part. Let’s go back to the Pandora model: the recommendation engine. This model is void of spam (unless you’re talking about their audio ads) because the music is selected for you and just plays. There are no links to follow – the music plays, and if you like it, you can vote it up, if you don’t you can vote it down. This is a pretty cool system but it could be a lot better. Pandora’s algorithm for recommendation is somewhat limiting. Personally I listen to dozens of different genres, sometimes all mashed together to form new genres specific to certain artists. Typing in an artist’s name or a song can put some serious limits on the stream of music that gets played, so it’s all about making a better recommendation engine.

The best way I can see, is to use a person’s friends or favorite artists – people they trust – to make the recommendations for them. If a user’s friends like a song enough to save into their own playlist, it should automatically get sent to your radio. Let your social network filter the music for you! This will always give you better recommendations because the music is not only coming from people you trust, but those people are just as complex as you are, where as an algorithm is forced to develop more standard ways of recommendation across all people, leaving the experience to lack any sense of a real custom experience.

This viral, automatic word of mouth spread of the music would mean that as long as the music was good, it would spread automatically. Now imagine this radio being a little toolbar that sits at the top of your screen all the time, and there’s a small, unobtrusive, let’s say postage stamp size ad associated with it.

As an artist, your music just plays on people’s radio. As a fan, music suiting your tastes just plays for you. You no longer have to search for it, and bands no longer have to promote it, as long as the music is good. If you give away the full quality stream for free, and perhaps even a free download on this website, there would be no reason for people to go to a torrent to get it and risk getting a virus. Offer them a completely safe way to access your music directly from you! Then, depending on your popularity from this new free viral promotion, you can leverage any views and plays for advertising revenue. This would effectively transform piracy from a hindrance to artist revenue, into an actual driving force for it. The more the music is played, downloaded, and spread, the more leverage for revenue the artist has.

Then the ideal situation would be the community, or website, contributing to making it easier for the artists to negotiate with the advertisers for their ad space, allowing them to set their own prices and approve sponsors. Also all while maintaining full control over their musical rights and freedoms. Does such a place exist you may ask? I wish – and that’s why I’m building it.

We’re in beta right now. Here’s a screen shot below. It’s called Beat-Play, and it will be (free) promotion and distribution without spam, as well as will be a solution to piracy, as well as will give independent artists the tools they need to be successful in their careers without a label, as well as give fans a better way to find music, as well as act as a catalyst to the organic growth and ongoing evolution of the music industry in a natural and healthy way for everyone.

We will be open to the public hopefully by January 2011 if everything goes as planned. Until then, as in the last post, my advice is just to keep making great music. Spam as a problem for artists will be history soon enough, along with their other promotion and piracy problems. The playing field is being leveled out, and the only thing that will determine an artist’s success then is the quality of their music…not a budget or connections. Plan for the future – make great music, and you’ll be fine!

Written by: Dante Cullari – Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC


Excerpt from my Book-in-progress – The Technological Garden Is Growing: Marketing In The Data Capture Era

This is an excerpt from a short book I’m working on right now called The Technological Garden Is Growing: Marketing In The Data Capture Era. It talks about how online technologies are evolving, and the impact that will have on marketing and a host of other areas in our every day lives. I walk through what’s wrong with current models today, what will change, and the results these changes will have. It will be a great guide to get people on the right track for when it comes to marketing in this new emerging technological environment, and trust me, it’s right around the corner. This excerpt is from the end of section/chapter 2:

I haven’t even talked at all yet about Beat-Play, the website I’m working on right now, which is basically the first step to creating this model. Beat-play is a music social network where you will have a radio that finally utilizes your existing network to recommend songs to you. I’m an indie artist too, and I needed a better promotion method myself, hence where all of this stems from.
Basically on Beat-Play, to find music, you follow people who you share a taste in music with. It could be your friends, your family, favorite artists, teachers, heroes, or whoever else offers their playlists to you. Once you follow them, if they like a song enough to save into one of their playlists, it automatically gets sent to your radio, with you having a number of options for how to sort the music that gets played. Also, if you like a song enough to save to your playlist, it automatically gets sent to anyone following you. Not only does this mean that all of the music you hear is approved by someone that you trust first, and that it’s suggested for you automatically without wasting any time searching, but for the artists that deserve your attention, it’s an incredibly effective form of free promotion and distribution for their music. Now I hope you can see where I’m going when I say the future of marketing.
Think of a world where when you type in a search, the results are already filtered by people for you, to get you the most specific results for what you’re looking for, and fast. Imagine a world where no time would need to be spent rooting through piles of content online, and the countless hours that would be saved. Not only that, think about that time being used to intake information. The learning process throughout life overall would become extremely accelerated. For anyone wanting to market a product, the playing field would then be completely leveled as well, being that social recommendation is essentially automatic word of mouth, leaving room for only the best products to rise to the top, and the worst products to be phased out. All of a sudden knowing the right people and having the biggest budget aren’t defining factors of a company’s success, and competition would finally demand innovation.

I will have this book available online for free some time this August. Check back for an exact date.

Written by: Dante Cullari  Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC

Streams vs. .mp3’s: Why Streams Own

Streams will become the new mp3’s for 4 simple reasons.

Reason #1: The only reason to really download music anymore is to put it on a mobile mp3 player like an iPod or a Zune.

Reason #2: Streaming Recommendation sites like Grooveshark, last.fm and Pandora have become extremely popular, and these sites have begun making apps for a range of mobile smart phones and mobile computers, which can easily take the place of simple mp3 players.

Reason #3: Streaming eliminates the need to store all that data on a phone or computer, which leaves room for more cool apps, and you don’t have to worry about back ups, or losing it all!

Reason #4: No fear of lawsuits, and actually a way for artists to get paid via advertising revenues. The streaming method happens to be trackable thanks to it’s marriage with the internet. This can provide artists with better information about how and when their music is shared or played, and could allow artists to get paid ANYTIME their music is played, if the switch is made from downloads to streams.

From an artist’s perspective it’s the perfect solution, and from a fan’s perspective it’s the perfect solution too, because if the artist gets paid from ads while streaming, then the music should be free for the fans!

Problems Holding Streaming Back:

1. The lack of proliferation of web-connected mobile devices. Once the price of these things comes down a little, and they figure out better ways to hook them up to your car stereo, streaming will easily be a top choice.

2. The ads associated with the streaming sites are often annoying and obtrusive, with audio interruptions and flashy oversized banners. The solution here is a switch to small, unobtrusive logo icons that just sit there quietly in the corner of the player, but are very appreciated for allowing the fans to get the music for free.

It will be interesting to see what new innovations in this field emerge in the next couple years. My prediction: Streams will be the big adoption of this decade, due to accessibility, sharability, and simple practicality.

Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC

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