Most of the music technology scene I cover is US based with a little bit out of Europe, mainly the UK thrown into the mix. From my perch here in Toronto, I can tell you that we have a thriving music scene across our great country of Canada. We are graced with some of the world’s best artists, producers, sound engineers and as an overall economy, we are loaded with a lot of top flight tech talent across different industries.
We are starting to see smart, innovate people meld the two together to establish Canadian music technology companies who are determined to create world class products/services. We aren’t just good at hockey and throwing snowballs in the dead of winter! We love our music, our artists and many of us are early tech adopters, as evidenced by the young and fledgling music + tech start-up scene developing in cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Just off the top of my head and by no means is this an exhaustive list, we have the likes of Backfed, Mediazoic, IOUMusic, LyricFind, Fanteraction, Zunior, OpenMicScene, Ecoutez and Bandzoogle doing some amazing stuff. And the latest, YouPhonics, which just launched at NXNEi last month.
Fresh out of the gates after being heads down developing a new music creation/collaboration tool, Aidan Nulman threw open the digital doors by hosting a launch party which brought together more than 100+ people passionate about music, technology, arts and culture. Right now the service is invite only but if you keep an eye out on the YouPhonics and Aidan Nulman’s Twitter stream, you should be able to get your hands on an invite. Or, leave a comment and I can hook you up as well.
On top of growing his start-up, Aidan is chronicling life as a first-time digital music entrepreneur. His posts are very engaging, witty and is sharing his experiences in open and honest detail. Anyone who is currently working on their start-up will likely share a lot of the ups and downs facing every new, young company. A must read in my opinion.
The Canadians are coming, with a few cases of beer in hand! Keep an eye out for us! You will be seeing and hearing more about music+tech innovations coming out of Canada!
The other industry event I attended was the PriceWaterhouseCoopers launch of the annual Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2010-2014. The study covers the global market for music, video games, movies, newspapers, magazines, radio and advertising. Following a year of decline in 2009, the global entertainment and media market is forecasted to grow by 5% compounded annually over the next five years, reaching US$1.7 trillion, up from US$1.3 trillion in 2009. Latin America and Asia Pacific are the fastest growing regions, while growth in the world’s biggest media market, North America, will be much slower. Consumer spending is expected to be strongest in the video game, TV subscriptions and movie markets. Forecasted music spending is near the bottom of the list, which is probably not a surprise to many people. Glenn Peoples at Billboard.biz provides his analysis on PwC’s music (physical/digital) forecasts.
Some of the major themes explored in the report include:
- The rising power of mobility and devices and the growing dominance of the Internet experience which is being driven by consumers.
- Media consumption has become a collective social experience.
- Testing the limits of paid content and a move from ad-supported to hybrid revenue models. There is a lot of experimentation with business models trying to find the right mix.
- Increasing engagement by going “hyperlocal” and consumer readiness to pay for content driven by improved consumption experiences and convenience.
You can download a copy of the presentation here (PDF) which provides global stats by various market segments and insights into what is yet to come. Combine this report with Morgan Stanley’s internet trends and mobile technology research and you have yourself a pretty good base of “free” market forecasts and intelligence to work with.
Investments and Mergers/Acquisitions
The first few months of the year started off strong and by the end of the second quarter, investment activity slowed down, with a lot more takeovers and acquisitions this past month. It’s still a pretty challenging environment for any digital music startup looking to raise money.
Total 2010 Investments as of June 30th, 2010
2010 total to-date: $204m
- Sonicbids Acquires ArtistData, Terms not Disclosed. Will we see more music service consolidations?
- HP buys streaming music firm Melodeo for between $30m-35m
- Ticketfly buys music event site Gigbot to gain ground on Ticketmaster
- Triton Digital Media Acquires StreamTheWorld
- Pandora Raises an Undisclosed Fifth Funding Round Financing
- Inspired Instruments Raises $1.25M, Lets You Rock Out On A Digital Guitar
- BuzzMedia Adds Music Blogs Gorilla vs Bear and PureVolume, Partners with Hype Machine, RCRD LBL, PopMatters
- AudioBoo Lands Funding, Partners, Radio Deals
- Guardian Media Group Buys UBC’s MXR, Takes Its iTunes Tagging Service
As I mention each month, this isn’t a comprehensive list and the numbers (where disclosed) have been pulled from public sources but it still gives us a sense of general investment activity in the music tech space. If I missed any deals, please don’t hesitate to comment below.
Music Services and Apps
Seven45 Studios to pump new life into music games – Looking to revive a once hot gaming category by introducing a new kind of faux guitar and a unique kind of drum set.
LimeWire Planning A Serious, Cloud-Based Comeback – A diversionary tactic or a legitimate attempt to square things up with the labels? Are they looking to capitalize on whatever brand power they may have left to launch a service that will attract paying consumers, fast? And if they do successfully relaunch, will anyone really care given all the ticks and fleas that LimeWire may never shake-off?
UK supermarket Tesco is preparing for to launch of a digital locker service for music and movies - “The way it would work practically is that when you buy a disc in store or online, that title would be put up into your Digital Locker which would immediately be accessible from devices registered to that locker.”
mSpot Opens Up Freemium Cloud Music Service in a Bid to Pre-empt Apple and Google; In-Depth Q&A with CEO Daren Tsui – First 2GB are free with plans running up to 100GB per month. Only works on Android phones for now and what differentiates mSpot from other locker services is the way they are navigating around the licensing issue by not having a master copy of a song that is served out to listeners, but will keep individual copies for each user who uploads it, which they believe is in keeping within fair use laws and therefore doesn’t require any additional royalty payments.
GarageBand Online Music Community Shuts Up Shop – Being in operation for ten years, especially a digital music business, is quite the feat. Garageband spawned social music discovery service iLike, now owned by MySpace. The general consensus around the web is that the service won’t be missed very much, having lost its lustre over the past few years.
Mixlr: Share Live Music On The Web – A new platform for DJs, bands to share live music straight to the web. You can broadcast live or upload prerecorded sets.
Tastebuds.fm – This LastFM powered music dating service helps you connect with other single people who share the same love of music. Very slick interface and easy to use.
Fanit – This new service builds on the “true fan” concept. It’s built around a gaming theme where you have to take certain actions (for example: promote on social networks, buy badges with the money going directly to the artist) within a 60 days period to prove you are a true fan. If you don’t achieve this status, you start again.
Aviary Launches Music Creator – New in-browser music creation web app lets users access free and Creative Commons instruments/loops to create music and beats for commercial and non-commercial purposes.
Slacker Radio Announces iPhone, iPad and iPod touch Station Caching for Listening Everywhere – This new feature seems like a first for internet radio. I think it’s kind of cool, especially when you don’t have the time or even know what you want to listen to. Pick a station and download programmed music for offline listening.
HomePipe now streams your iTunes to Android, other files too – Another service that lets you access all your local files (music, photos, video, files) from your iPhone and now Android.
Thumbplay Releases Subscription Music For iPhone – Thumbplay, once a dominant ringtone provider, is switching gears to leverage the smartphone boom, and is placing its bets on full-track subscription music services.
Koitunes – Currently in private beta, this new music service is a Twitter overlay app which helps you discover music that your Twitter followers are posting or talking about. The service supports LastFM, Pandora, Blip, theSixtyOne, Spotify, as well as a handful more.
Buzzdeck – UK-based digital distributors AWAL launch a new real-time analytics tool designed to help enable labels and managers to better track and respond to any buzz growing for their artists or releases online.
Aupeo – Personal streaming internet radio. Based on a recommendation engine and mood station that are powered by the latest innovations from the Fraunhofer Institute, inventors of the MP3.
Opinions, Insights and Analysis
Google Needs To Decide Which Side Of The Music Industry Fence It Is On – “The labels and Google need their relationships to be as amicable and as fruitful as they can be. The experience of Apple shows that antagonizing a key channel partner just wastes energies for both parties and does little or nothing to help the competition and does nothing to help the fight against free.”
A Guide To The Cultural Battle That Is Reshaping The Media Business – “The challenge for big media companies is not just financial. They have to find a way to embrace the power of their users and change their thought process and attitude towards their customers, while not alienating the creator-centric model that currently pays the bills.”
The Music Radio Solution – “Consumers are dictating what devices they prefer, how they want to listen (in shorter segments), where (on their mobile devices) and with whom (their social networks).”
Hidden in plain view: Google Music’s stealth infrastructure – “It’s called YouTube AudioSwap, and it’s really quite clever. When you upload a video to YouTube with a music soundtrack, you can opt for your low bitrate version to be replaced by a superior quality master recording from Google’s own extensive collection of master recordings. What’s that, you ask – you’re saying that Google has an extensive collection of master recordings already? Indeed it does. Fully licensed, with publishing information.”
We Need Digital Lockers More Than Ever – “We now live in a world where we have multiple devices on which we want to consume various forms of media: TVs, desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, eBook readers, and more coming. We need a locker. We need an open, authenticated location in the cloud where we can store, access, receive, organize, and share our digital media. Media is too fragmented online.”
Getting into the digital groove: The top five of music 2.0 – Five new digital music projects using crowd-sourcing, cool coding and collaboration to help the music industry rock out in the digital age.
C’est Lala Vie: Does A “Stream Any Song Once” Model Make Sense for Apple’s iTunes? – “And the problem with free, ad-supported streams is that ad rates simply aren’t high enough to allow the streaming services to offer reasonable payments to labels for each stream, let alone generate enough profit to support and grow the company.”
You, the D.J. Online music moves to the cloud – “The anonymous programmers who write the algorithms that control the series of songs in these streaming services may end up having a huge effect on the way that people think of musical narrative—what follows what, and who sounds best with whom. Sometimes we will be the DJs, and sometimes the machines will be, and we may be surprised by which we prefer”
Upcoming Music + Tech Events
- OpenMusicMedia NYC – New York City, NY – July 7th, 2010
- Social Media and Direct 2 Fan Music Marketing – Toronto, ON – July 7th – July 8th
- Latin Alternative Music Conference – New York City, NY – July 6th – July 10th
- Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference – London, UK – July 5th – July 8th
- Music 4.5 Goes Practical – How to use local, social and cultural content and grow globally – London, UK – July 7th, 2010
- Vinyl Music Festival – Sarisota, FL – July 15th.
- Beirut Music Conference – Beirut, Lebanon – July 14th – July 18th
- The Conclave Learning Conference for Radio Broadcasters – Minneapolis, MN – July 15th – July 17th
- The New Music Seminar – New York City, NY – July 19th – July 21st
If you have an upcoming event you want us to post in next month’s music + tech recap, please get in touch with me.
Gabriel Nijmeh is a software business analyst, passionate music lover and guitar player. He currently advises a couple of music startups, including Mediazoic, a real-time social DJ platform and co-founded the Toronto edition of OpenMusicMedia which brings people together to openly discuss the intersection of digital music, media and culture.