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DIGITAL OLIGOPOLY & SUGGESTIONS ON BREAKING IT

This week, the UK-based AIM (Association of Independent Music) announced that their members receive over 94% of their digital revenue from 3 outlets: iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. The story, first reported in Music Week and then in Digital Music News and MusicAlly, highlights that 51 other companies are splitting the remaining 5.6%. AIM CEO Alison Wenham is not looking at this positively as she tells Music Week, “There are now a series of monopolies and it is jolly hard for anyone else to get a slice of the market.”

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REBECCA BLACK: WINNERS AND LOSERS

A week ago, I certainly didn’t intend to write (or obsess) so much about Rebecca Black and her viral internet meme “Friday”. However, there is so so much to learn from this track. In one week, this song basically upended the music business conversation. What are the results of this?

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REBECCA BLACK: LEARN FROM THE WORST

In the past several days, a new pop artist has emerged. No, it’s not Kim Kardashian whose new single is already out of the iTunes Top 100 after 2 weeks (as of this writing). None of the YouTube videos for her song “Turn It Up” even has a million views yet. No, this new pop star is an indie artist, has no real story, and no radio exposure, yet has already racked up 6 million views and counting. The song is “Friday” and her name is Rebecca Black. If you haven’t experienced this new viral sensation, watch it now:

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DIGITAL DOWNLOAD’S DEATH IS EXAGGERATED

Have you ever moved 12.5 million units of anything? Music? Dollars? Grains of rice? Almost certainly not. Would you agree that this is a lot? If you were to move this many units in music, it would be a good success, right?

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ROCK IS DEAD, PART 2

I love debates, and I’m more than thrilled that my original Rock Is Dead post has caused quite a stir. Many sides of the debate have pointed to several data points that are purported to provide evidence to the contrary. Let’s look at these arguments:

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HOW WE CAN SAVE MUSIC RETAIL

Here is a reprint of my blog entry for MIDEM that can be found here:

There is only one thing that sells music. That’s music retail. File trading is an easy scapegoat for industry ills, but the lack of legal outlets that are in front of casual music fans is clearly the primary culprit.

Looking at digital statistics in the US, only 5% of internet users visit a music retail site monthly according to Comscore. Surprisingly, while the number is higher, about 9% of US internet users visit illegal music sites monthly according to Big Champagne.

If you think this number is wrong, consider that Businessweek recently profiled China’s Baidu search engine where, despite a history of piracy, they are currently seeing only 5% of their traffic going to illegal music searches. The true problem emerges with these stats.

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ROCK IS DEAD, POSSIBLE CAUSE OF RECORD BIZ ILLNESS

Rock music, an energetic form of guitar-driven pop music, passed away in 2010 after being ill for the past several years. Anemic sales, high studio costs, and lack of label development are listed as the cause of death.

Of course, there’s a bit of an exaggeration here. It’s not dead in the sense that it’s completely gone. It’s just gone in the sense that it is no longer the music that sells. You can’t even blame file trading, as pop and dance are traded far more than rock. If rock is traded, it tends to be classic rock. Current rock bands are mostly residing in the underground, and if this sales trend continues, lack of label investment is likely going to keep it there.

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BRIGHTLIVE – 1st PLACE – FUTUREHIT.DNA CONTEST

If it was so easy to make a song that felt “of the moment”, then everyone would do it. The truth is that it’s not. One listen to Brightlive’s “Come On”, though, and one would think it’s effortless. When someone is able to integrate so many of the Futurehit techniques properly along with a very contemporary sound, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this song would take first place in the Futurehit.DNA contest.

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THE FUTUREHIT 2010 REPORT

2010 has finally wrapped up, which means it’s time to analyze the common threads of the biggest hits of the year. At the mid-year point, I looked at the Top 50. This time, I extended the analysis to the Top 100. Collectively, these 100 songs accounted for 187 million downloads and well over $200 million in revenue. These 100 titles also account for approximately 36% of all new music track sales. This means over one in three new music downloads come from these songs. Many elements that have been brewing for the last few years that are detailed in Futurehit.DNA really started to show their ability to bring success this year. Here are some of the shared traits:

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REID BRANNON – 2ND PLACE – FUTUREHIT.DNA CONTEST

Coming in 2nd place in the Futurehit.DNA songwriting contest is “A Story About Me” by Reid Brannon. Reid is a Nashville-based Country songwriter and this particular song of his grabbed me for several reasons. It takes a traditional structure in a format that generally favors familiarity, and it adds dashes of the Futurehit.DNA mojo to make it more engaging for the audience. Some of the key points in the song:

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