AnalyticsMobileNewsTransparency

We are excited to be launching at SXSW 2016, the first Mobile Analytics app in the music industry to provide account-level monthly and daily trending sales data across the major platforms and services.

In our continued effort to provide the most advanced and user-friendly reporting and analytics solutions for the music industry, the Mobile Analytics app has been designed to provide Revelator customers with the best access to their sales and streaming data, on the go. It is the ultimate mobile analytics application to run your digital music business!

Our objectives in developing the application were clear from the start. First, let’s enable our customers to power their marketing and sales decisions with data directly from their iPhone. Second, let’s simplify reporting and sharing of sales and trends data with rights owners through a mobile portal. No one in the industry provides this level of access to data.

Just over a year ago, U2’s Bono expressed with enthusiasm in a blog post that he was proud of Universal Music Group for providing a fresh approach to transparency, and that artists will “finally be able to find out weekly, maybe even daily, on their cell phones, how many plays they’ve had and where in the world they’ve had them”. Well, here it is!

The Mobile Analytics application is packed with great features out of the box. Our aim was to provide access to many of Revelator’s key features directly from your iPhone. The Dashboard gives you a “high level” overview of your top tracks, albums, formats, and lets you quickly scan what country and service they are selling and streaming. The Revenue Analytics focuses on monthly data and reported earnings, while the Daily Trend Analytics gives you near real-time performance data with consolidated daily data across all the top platforms that provide daily reporting. This includes iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, YouTube, and Deezer. Both data sets enable you to “drill down” deeper into the data, view revenue and units by channel, country, service, label, artist, release and track, and quickly swipe through different time periods. You can also query specific criteria to get detailed insights by segmenting your data using advanced filters.

Mobile_Analytics_hero@2x-

One of my favorite features of the app is the ability to compare data across 3 different sales channels. Understanding how download revenue measures up against subscription streaming or ad-supported revenue for different time periods, and visualizing them side by side in a simple mobile user interface, is a revelation, or maybe a revolution…

If you like where this is going, stay tuned for more transparency. The next version of the Analytics app, will feature audience, demographic and city level daily data to provide insights around daily and monthly active listeners, gender and age, playback locations, device and platforms fans are listening from.

The Mobile Analytics application is now available to all distributors, record labels, managers and artists, as a branded or white label solution. Interested? Contact us.

Revelator customers can download the app for iphone starting March 14th.

AnalyticsBig Data

How to solve the big data problem in the music industry has been a question for many years, but emerging blockchain technology might provide the solution the labels, producers, and distributors are looking for.

It’s an old joke in the music industry that every overnight sensation was actually years in the making, and the same could be said of product some are predicting will be the savior of the business. The concepts behind blockchain technology go back many years, but it’s only with the rise of bitcoin that people have really started paying attention and thinking about how the blockchain can be applied more globally. In the span of a few years, the blockchain has gone from a something associated by many with illegal purchases to a technology that Goldman Sachs is predicting will “change everything.”

Can the blockchain solve the music business’s big data marketing problem?

Right now, many artists face an asymmetric information problem — while their fans know where to find their music and offer financial support, they have very little data about those fans. Most of the data offered by labels and streaming services is too general to be really useful, especially for smaller artists — knowing that women age 25-45 who live in Nashville like your music is all well and good, but knowing the a 29-year-old woman named Lisa loves your tracks most of all, and where to email or call her, is worth far more.

On the flipside, many people don’t want all their data to be shared with the artists they listen to or the labels who release them. The blockchain could allow direct to fan distribution that puts the fan in control of how much information they share and allows the artist to reach out to superfans. It will also allow for a greater range of pricing — if someone wants to pay more than $1 for a track, or $10 for an album, they can contribute whatever amount they want.

Right now, the amount of data being shared with artists and labels is enormous, but very little of it is all that useful or applicable.

Blockchain will make payments more transparent

Many artists are frustrated with their payments from streaming services, and rightly so — they get a report of how many times their tracks have been played, and then months later, they get a check for a seemingly random amount. Streaming services right now pay the labels, and then the labels divide up the take among artists, but the accounting isn’t transparent. While no one is accusing the labels of doing anything wrong, the process is complicated and slow.

The use of smart contracts on the blockchain will help solve many of these problems, Revelator CEO Bruno Guez explained recently at the Future of Money summit. Artists will be able to register a composition and/or recording on the blockchain, and that can be associated with a smart contract that details who gets paid what amount. Payments can be turned around much more quickly; artists and streaming services will be able to see exactly where all the money is coming and going; and labels can spend their resources more wisely.

The more information that is uploaded to the blockchain, the better — right now, there is no central database for copyrights and song registration. If the blockchain can become the central repository for music metadata, it means more artists will get paid.

Given the momentum, 2016 is likely to be the year that labels, producers, and distributors start taking the blockchain seriously.

DevelopersNews

Revelator is the first SaaS platform to offer access to its API to allow music and non-music businesses to distribute music, provide analytics, and manage payments to artists.

More websites than ever are realizing the value that music provides to their product, but very few are sure how to go about building out a product that is artist-friendly and makes sure payment and data needs are met. Revelator is changing the game with the release of its API Developer Platform, which provides a turnkey ‘Business-as-a-Service’ set of APIs for all music and content businesses who want to build new products or integrate services to their own platform.

The first partner to use the API is Wix, the world’s largest website development service. Revelator’s API will help deliver a comprehensive solution for all the digital needs of musicians, and will be a must have tool for artists seeking to take full ownership of their careers.

The APIs offer Metadata, Music Distribution, Rights Management, Reporting, and Analytics and can be integrated individually or in combination to support the complex data processing required for music distribution, reporting and royalty payment.

Revelator’s Developer Suite Helps Increase Revenues for Many Artists

The last few years have seen an explosion in the number of websites looking to integrate music into their core products and help musicians spread their songs and get paid for doing so. Big sites like Flipagram and Vine have started offering a wide range of music to supplement photo slideshows and short videos, respectively, while other website providers like Squarespace have reached out the music community as a place for artists to host their sites. But the music industry remains a complicated place, and other sites have surely shied away from going big with music because of worries about licensing and royalty payments. With the release of the API, Revelator hopes to provide a solution for any site that wants to work with artists.

Wix Music to use Revelator’s infrastructure in strong launch partnership

“I’m delighted to partner with Wix, a global brand with 73 million customers. Revelator’s  developer platform enables all kinds of companies to power and scale new business models and automate the content monetization and transparent reporting to rights holders with a programmatic solution.” said Bruno Guez, Founder and CEO of Revelator. “Wix Music is a great first partner for our API suite, using our services to give independent musicians the ability to create a full-service web presence on their own, with all the global sales, reporting, and analytics capabilities of a major record label. Our developer platform provides us with a first mover advantage in the content and music industry.

Revelator’s APIs cover the full stack of back-end services for music distribution. We designed Wix Music to be an end-to-end solution for the music market. A natural technical partner, integrating the Revelator API into our product, helped us achieve that,” said Ohad Bolotin, Head of Wix Music.

 

Turntable.fm co-founder Billy Chasen recently took to Product Hunt to unveil his latest creation — DoubleLock. The product creates two “keys” which must both be entered in order for a file to be unlocked or modified. Perhaps in light of the Ashley Madison hack, Chasen’s use cases involved naughty pics and videos, but there are plenty of less salacious uses for a product like this. In cases of severe illness or death, you could provide two trusted friends with keys to unlock social media and personal finance accounts — a hedge against anything going off the rails if one of those two people turn out to be untrustworthy. While DoubleLock is still in its infancy, it might be the product that introduces the idea of a multi-sig smart contact into the mainstream.

Smart contracts are contracts that are automatically executed by a computer program; in order for them to be changed, all parties must use a key to unlock the contract and consent to the modifications. The idea of the smart contact has been around since the early nineties, but because there was no one universal and digital financial system to facilitate payments, the concept languished. With the rise of the blockchain and bitcoin, however, interest in smart contracts has grown.

For artists, this could mean the dawn of a new era of payment transparency. At the simplest level, smart contracts could ensure that each band member gets his or her fair say when anyone wants to change a deal. We’ve all heard horror stories about unscrupulous managers or band members who cheat other members out of royalties; most recently, this narrative appeared on the big screen in “Straight Outta Compton.” An expectation of transparency, facilitated by smart contracts, represented a step forward for artists who want to be protected and make sure they are compensated fairly.

Assuming smart contracts can be used on a mass scale, this would also give artists more negotiating power. If a group of artists all have contracts with a single party, they could collectively bargain in order to get better terms, because they all hold the power to hold out until they get a fair deal.

On the back end, smart contracts have the potential to open up the black box system that has come to characterize most payouts. If you follow music and tech at all, before long you’ll likely run into an artist sharing a story about getting a check for a small, random amount and being completely befuddled about how ten thousand plays worked out to twenty-seven cents. It’s the same record label math that led to an artist who sold a million record still not recouping. But a smart contract system would allow artists to track money every step of the way and for each member to make sure they were being paid the correct amount. They also allow for payments to be made automatically — no more waiting around for a check or a deposit to clear.

Smart contracts could also act a defense for major labels. If they put up money to pay for expensive producers and guest verses, they should be able to make the money back, and having everything laid out clearly creates a system where everyone knows where the money is going.

There are a few other benefits of smart contracts that artists might want to explore. Some developers are working to combine the blockchain with the “internet of things;” for instance, if I rent a house on AirBNB, as many touring artists do, the house could unlock automatically once a payment clears. Artists who rent their equipment or vans while they’re not on the road to make some extra money could use smart contracts and shut off the rented gear if payments don’t go through, which is much easier than tracking down someone halfway across the country and forcing them to pay up.

As more artists demand transparency and accountability, smart contracts and multi-key systems will quickly come to represent the new normal. In a few years, we’ll all look back and wonder why we put up with “dumb” contracts and even dumber passwords in the first place.

Want to add your thoughts to this discussion, or learn more about Revelator? Visit http://www.revelator.com.

While the digital music industry has made leaps and bounds over the past few years, it still fails to provide artists with easy access to real-time data regarding their listeners. Revelator, is working to change this.

In the 15 or so years of the Internet economy, the digital music industry has come a long way, but there are still major hurdles to cross. Platforms like iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play are major improvements over the early illegal file sharing days, but the multitude of service offerings and revenue models make it difficult to understand the true value of each and what they can deliver for musicians and music companies. These difficulties are further compounded by the fact that, according to a new study from the Berklee College of Music and its Rethink Music initiative, there are major transparency problems throughout the music industry caused by outdated technology.

In other areas of the Internet economy, online tools are data-driven and real-time, allowing professionals to make informed decisions based on accurate and up-to-date information. Unfortunately, these kinds of tools have not been widely adopted by the music industry thus far. This makes it difficult for labels and publishers to provide artists with timely and easily understandable data on track listens, revenue, accounting, and payments. In addition, labels and publishers are often unable to find the proper royalty recipient for music uses due to complicated and unclear songwriting credits and the lack of a standardized database that would make it easy for rights-holders to be identified. In short, the systems that exist today are not in the best interests of the industry at large.

However, by embracing current technology, forward-thinking labels, publishers, managers, artists, and other music professionals can improve data accessibility and transparency so that all sectors can enjoy the benefits of the digital revolution. When all members of the industry have the ability to make the best decisions possible based on a complete picture of consumption, accounting, payouts, and more, everyone wins.

Outdated technology

The main reason that labels are unable to share data with artists on a regular basis is that the current tools make tracking and reporting digital sales extremely difficult. The data comes from multiple sources and is stored in different formats. Labels must consolidate information from a variety of stores and services, both online and offline, and display it in a uniform formula. This is a major undertaking, which the labels must do at least twice a year, if not quarterly.

When the reports are produced, they appear in Excel format and are hard to understand. Artists, managers and other rights-holders are not necessarily able to decipher the calculation of their share, and all parties may have trouble gaining useful insights for future marketing efforts. However, with the right tools and real-time access, this data could be made actionable for artists and labels in determining where to tour or how to spend marketing dollars.

Lack of transparency in accounting

Another issue with the current system is that it relies too heavily on information held by record labels and provided to others only in a limited way and too infrequently. The audit trail of digital transactions is often unavailable to those outside the label, which has led to a history of non-auditable and unfair accounting practices. These include cross-collateralization and the practice of classifying streams as “performance,” leading to a lower royalty structure and casting a pall of distrust between labels and their artists. Lack of visibility also causes decreasing unit economics that put more pressure on cash flow and slow accounting periods based on outdated contractual terms.

Ownership of data

While there are many important problems related to revenue from streaming and downloads, it is even more crucial that we fix the current lack of transparency in regards to music data. Labels, publishers, managers, and artists don’t receive access to much of the data that is collected in the process of music sales. If a particular song is downloaded 1,000 times, 1,000 email addresses could have been collected from fans. Audience data is more valuable for future marketing campaigns than ever before, but online distributors, download stores, streaming services and other tech companies servicing the music industry almost always do not provide access to this information.

The Wall Street Journal emphasizes the importance of fan email addresses: “Industry-wide, the average fan email address has a value of about $3.78 in direct purchases from artists over the owner’s lifetime, according to new data from Topspin Media Inc., a six-year-old Santa Monica, Calif., company that manages online stores for more than 70,000 artists.” A Topspin analysis of five years’ worth of data revealed that fans acquired through widgets or purchases were nine times as likely to make a purchase from the same artist.

Purchase of music is not necessarily the end of the conversion funnel. Handled correctly, it can actually be the beginning of a long-term relationship between the artist and fans. When fan data is kept in the hands of technology companies, the only benefactor of this marketing bounty is the company itself. But if provided to the label, publisher, or artist, they can make use of that information in myriad ways. Instead of staying locked in to one particular service, they can move data to whichever service they choose. They can distribute content by newsletter to fans, adding value that will keep them interested and engaged. A loyal list of followers is also an excellent avenue for selling merchandise and pre-selling tickets, and extra-loyal fans can be treated to exclusive content and offers that make them feel like they are part of the artist’s family. All of these strategies are quite lucrative when implemented correctly, but are actionable only when the artist and their representatives have access to their fan base and a system in place to communicate with them.

Platforms like Facebook and YouTube are using audience data for ad revenue optimization. They are focused on reselling audience data to advertisers but are currently not providing it to users.

Wrongful claims

In addition, lack of transparency has created confusion in the tech marketplace regarding music rights, with some labels and aggregators claiming rights to compositions and collecting revenue from YouTube and other services without the knowledge or permission of the rights holders, who don’t know that revenue is being collected. For example, one artist had his music licensed for a CD book, which was posted on YouTube. YouTube then placed ads on all the videos in its platform that played the song and sent the revenue to the owner of the CD book rather than the original artist. This kind of mix-up is prevalent in the digital world, and without full transparency from technology companies and an easy way to determine who has a stake in the content they host, rights-holders are currently unable to fight it.

Revelator brings transparency to the music industry

However, there have been some positive developments. Recently, Revelator introduced a new end-to-end sales and marketing intelligence service that aims to bring transparency to the music industry and solve the current problems of distrust and lack of data by enabling the sharing and portability of data to all participants. The Revelator platform creates a level playing field for all the players involved, from artists to managers to labels and more, through:

● Real-time metrics/analytics – The Revelator Analytics dashboard automates all reporting of daily and monthly sales and streaming data, providing full transparency. The platform has the added benefit of providing real insights into the sales reports. Each report can be drilled down, so users can see clearly which stores – virtual or physical – brought in the most sales, which ad campaigns were the most successful, and which songs fared the best on which platforms. This is all valuable marketing information, which all parties can make use of. Revelator customers also have access to audience data such as email lists, engagement, and retention.

● Financial reporting – Revenue data from multiple sources is consolidated into one unified business dashboard that can be automatically shared with all parties on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. A click of a button will allow labels, publishers, managers, artists, and more to see their respective shares immediately without the need to wait for a response. Increased visibility boosts trust between all those involved and decreases friction between parties.

● Marketing of content – The Revelator platform provides distributors of music with the ability to extract crucial marketing data and utilize it to determine actionable marketing efforts. Data can be used to build a relationship with current listeners and to make informed decisions on the best steps to reach new audiences.

● Distribution of music – Revelator offers music distribution to labels, managers, and independent artists to enable them to sell their digital content in top stores and services globally, representing an immediate cost savings of 20-30% of sales revenue. Partnership agreements with various digital music companies broaden the distribution of music on the Internet.

By embracing new technology like the Revelator platform, independent labels, distributors, artists and more can achieve full transparency throughout the entire process of production, marketing, and sales. This paves the way for collaboration and trust as well as informed decision-making on the part of all those involved in the music industry.

SXSW

Did you miss our our panel on growth hacking the music industry at SXSW 2015?

If you did, don’t worry!

Our panel with leading music industry influencers was filled with great content. To keep it simple, we asked every panelist to give us their number one tip for growth hacking their careers through music tech.

Growth Hacking Taeaways at SXSW

Here are the top 5 tips from our music panelists about making the most of your music data:

Jason Feinberg, Head of Marketing at Pandora

 Educate yourself and understand what every facet of the music industry means from your perspective. @jasonfeinberg

There is neither just one model nor ten models for how artists should survive. Understand the industry within your context, and ensure that you’re making the most of all the tools that are available to you. 

Jon Carter, CDO at Musicolio

Don’t be afraid to go at it yourself. @musicolio

There are so many tools available to artists and labels now. It’s very possible to connect to the resources you need to make your music and grow your business.

Grant Bussigner, Digital Marketing and Strategy at Warp Records 

Look at everything in context, not one single metric. @originallgb

Having good judgment is critical for interpreting lots of data. But most importantly, Grant says

Trust your art. No matter how much technology you have, it doesn’t make a difference unless you have great art/music . 

Ari Herstand, Music Inudstry Influencer, Blogger and DIY artist

The artist-fan connection. Build the relationship with your fans and understand that it’s not just a transaction. It’s an ongoing relationship that you need to grow. @arisTake

Ari recommends growing your email list and using it not just for pushing music sales, but for engaging, asking music related questions, and strengthening your relationship with your fan base.

Rossanna WrightVP, Business Dev. Revelator

Listen to your data. If you see a spike in one service, you can use it as leverage with the other services. 

If you’re seeing success with one service, use the opportunity to reach out to bloggers and seize the PR moment. 

Did you pick up any other great growth hacking tips at SXSW? Please share them with us below!

Transparency

The music industry’s biggest problem isn’t piracy. It’s not illegal streaming. It’s not the death of the album. The most dangerous threat to the music industry today is the lack of transparency.

Bono is one of the loudest artists speaking out on this issue. He argues that rather than fighting against streaming, artists should be fighting for transparency.

In Bono’s words:

The music business has historically involved itself in quite considerable deceit. But if we change that a bit, and people can actually see how many times [songs are] being played, where they’re being played, get access to information on the people who are listening to them, get paid direct debit…. I think those payments will add up to something, as the world gets more transparent.

More and more people are starting to understand that the music business has a serious transparency problem. But what they may not realize is that everyone loses as a result—not only the artist.

Casey Rae, the CEO of the Future of Music Coalition, argues:

Without transparency in music, artists, fans and services will lose.

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DATA

The only way to clean up this mess is via the data. The catch is, no one seems to have the proper access. Artists depend on labels for their statistics. Many labels are still managing their data the old-fashioned way—with Excel. Compiling reports and insights is an arduous, time-consuming, and complex process. They have to consolidate data from multiple sources, including both digital and physical stores. As a result, most labels only manage to send out reports two-to-four times a year. They simply have no other means to assemble and share data on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis.

Artists hurt a lot from this. By the time they get their reports, the information is often outdated. Their next album has already been released, and now they know which songs on the previous album were most popular with which fans. It’s extremely frustrating. And it’s bad for business.

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NO DATA MEANS NO VISIBILITY

The inability to easily access real-time data handicaps the music business both on a financial level and on a fan level. Artists don’t understand how or why they’re being paid what they’re paid. With so many hands in the pie, artists are confused as to how the contracts pay out between all the players involved.

Without rock solid data about who owns what slice, some people may not get paid on time or at all.

Money aside, the lack of data seriously limits how deeply artists can connect with their fans. If an artist knows which songs are most popular in which cities, he can plan his concert schedule for maximum turnout. If an artist knows which merchandise are bestsellers, he can order more of those particular products. By knowing who their fans are and what they like, artists can better target their fans, build relationships, grow loyalty, increase engagement, and ultimately give a big boost to their music career.

But without any of that data…it’s like shooting in the dark.

FIGHTING FOR TRANSPARENCY

It’s time for the music business to get its house in order. And transparency between labels and artists is key to leading the industry forward into the 21st-century.

Fortunately, this battle has already begun. The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the organization that represents the interests of the global independent music community, is fighting back against the lack of transparency in the industry. WIN is demanding that record labels make use of technology to share data and treat artists fairly.

As of July 2014, over 750 record labels had signed WIN’s Fair Digital Deals Declaration and committed to fair and transparent payments to their artists. This is an important step in recognizing and working toward ensuring the rights of the artists as well as those of the record labels.

Alison Wenham, the Chairman of WIN, explains:

A healthy commercial relationship based on mutual trust and partnership between artists and labels is critical to the long term financial health of our industry.

TRANSPARENCY IS OUR MISSION

We are continuing that fight. Our mission is to bring transparency to the industry, so that all players—from artists to managers to labels—have easy, quick and shareable access to data. The way we see it, the only way to fix the transparency problem is to give labels and artists a tool that assembles data automatically and makes it easy to view, understand, and share that data.

So that’s what we did. Our platform allows artists to see their shares on-demand with one click. They no longer have to send a request to a manager, accountant, or record label and wait for a response. This increased visibility boosts trust between all those involved, and decreases friction between parties.

In addition to seeing a unified view, the dashboard also provides real insights into the sales reports. Each report can be drilled down, so artists can see clearly which stores—virtual or physical—brought in the most sales, which ad campaigns were successful, and which songs fared better on which platform.

Our platform levels the playing field by providing full transparency throughout the entire process of production, marketing and sales. It paves the way for collaboration and trust, as well as informed decision-making on the part of all those involved. Perhaps most importantly, it puts artists at ease, giving them the resources and peace of mind to keep making more great music.

What are your thoughts on the transparency problem in the music industry? We’d love to hear them below!