More SoundCloud pain.
Digital Music News has reported that SoundCloud is hemorrhaging cash so quickly that it might actually run out before the end of the year, unless it can convince a bank or other investment group to hand out more dough until it can figure out a way to monetize its business model. This is despite a recent report valuing the company at $700 million dollars.
One reason SoundCloud is burning through money so quickly is the huge legal expenses the company is incurring. Record labels are growing impatient with talks intended to legitimize the service through licensing deals, with most labels currently uncompensated for the content streamed on SoundCloud. The record labels are threatening to sue the company if talks don’t progress faster.
I always tell labels / musicians that there’s a danger in making a site that’s outside of your control the main aspect of your promotional strategy (i.e. Facebook, etc). But SoundCloud has been such a useful one, especially as an embeddable platform for our own sites. I’ll be in some trouble just like the rest of you if SC goes under, or if they limit streams for non-paying listeners or start to include audio ads in my content … there will be a heavy load of site embeds to replace. It might be a good idea for us all to start thinking about and preparing for this now.
Over a month after a leaked contract broke the news of SoundCloud’s plans to implement a paid subscription service the company’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Eric Wahlforss has confirmed the move. While Wahlforss didn’t confirm or deny the details featured in the June leak, the contract that popped up online last month outlined a three-tier subscription service consisting of a free option and two premium offerings. The free option will allegedly give users access to a limited catalog with advertisements included while the cheapest paid service offers a larger catalog and an ad-free experience. The most expensive option would allow users unlimited and ad-free access to SoundCloud’s entire catalog.
SoundCloud’s paid services applied solely to musicians / labels up to this point, with potential listeners being the reason to deposit the yearly fee. It will be interesting, and probably frustrating, to see how SoundCloud will juggle its usefulness to professional users with an apparent new emphasis on listener generated revenue. Many labels and artists — including those in the ‘majors’ — are reliant on SoundCloud for promotion and embeds on their sites. If this forced compromise cripples its effectiveness for promotion then there will be a bit of scrambling from labels of any stature.
The real point of Inbox Zero was to move you away from “living in your inbox.” (Merlin) Mann said the zero was about “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in [his/her] inbox.” The key to his thinking was that you shouldn’t indulge your inbox as if it were a demanding toddler, allowing it to cry for your attention constantly.
Merlin’s video talk embedded in this article did really change the way I thought about my work (not just my email) when I first saw it many years ago. A recommended watch / listen if by chance you haven’t run across it previously.
(A) new report from the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship says these (streaming royalty) squabbles miss the point. In fact, there are a bunch of other players, complex accounting and backroom deals that stand between the royalties services pay out and the artists’ paychecks.
Here’s the rub: those royalties are passed down a line of rights groups, publishers or third-party distributors before they make it to the label and then the artist. These players are supposed to divvy up the royalties companies like Spotify are paying out, which is complicated; the composition and recording are usually two separate copyrights, or there might be several co-writers or publishers. All the agreements dictating those payments are secret, and researchers found that royalty statements were difficult to parse.
As the music landscape converts to streaming, the advantages of the self-released artist become even more apparent. May you live in interesting times, indeed.
Flying Nun, based in Christchurch on the south island, turned out to be New Zealand’s Rough Trade, Mute, Factory, 4AD, Creation and Postcard labels all rolled into one, without any label competition. Its range embraced exquisite psych-pop, cantankerous quasi-goth, warped folk, experimental synth warfare – and such consistent quality, and this from a population of less than four million.
In its own quite, stealthy fashion, Flying Nun’s influence – especially in the US – has spread outward, and not just on bands like Pavement, but on indie labels such as Sub-Pop. And like the south island’s famous Jurassic reptile, the Tuatara, Flying Nun lives on today, having survived the growing pains that afflict every independent label trying to retain its autonomy in a changing marketplace, and even losing its founder, Roger Shepherd, not once but twice.
There was a point in my life (early ’90s) when this label’s output had me dreaming of running off to New Zealand. I did end up visiting a couple times and the place didn’t disappoint. By coincidence, I ran into an ex-manager at Flying Nun my first time there in the very early ’00s … he was astonished at this American fan’s knowledge of the label and its bands, and I was a little freaked out by how surprised he was.
It’s a bit of an obvious choice to those who also know of Flying Nun, but my favorite song from their catalog is — hands down — “Pink Frost”:
Schlappig, 25, is one of the biggest stars among an elite group of obsessive flyers whose mission is to outwit the airlines. They’re self-styled competitors with a singular objective: fly for free, as much as they can, without getting caught. In the past 20 years, the Internet has drawn together this strange band of savants with an odd mix of skills: the digital talent of a code writer, a lawyer’s love affair with fine print, and a passion for airline bureaucracy. It’s a whirring hive mind of IT whizzes, stats majors, aviation nerds and everyone else you knew who skipped the prom.
For more than 30 years, the commercial airline industry has been mulling how to solve a problem like the Hobby (what the art of travel hacking is known by in this world). This past winter, however, the airlines seemed to have unveiled a new strategy. Following the example of the music industry in the early 2000s, they have taken to suing small fry in the interest of making an example.
That’s one way to do it. Here’s another, via Atlas Obscura:
Like stowaways on ships, trains, and planes, people have attempted (and sometimes succeeded!) in mailing themselves as recently as just a few years ago. It’s not easy, nor legal, nor permitted by any major shipping company, but that hasn’t stopped a very special group of people from trying.
Whether to escape slavery or merely the cost of a plane ticket, people have been trying for over a century and a half to package themselves like so many rolls of toilet paper from Amazon.