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Music Business News December 6 2017

Bandsintown launched a new program for emerging artists. And Warner Music reported a second consecutive year of increased revenues. Also, Google announced plans to block access to YouTube on Amazon products.


Bandsintown Launching “Spotlight” for Emerging Artists


Bandsintown announced the launch of Spotlight, a new metrics-driven program that will profile emerging artists and make it easier for new fans to discover them, reported Billboard.


The concert discovery platform said it will use data gathered from its own system in order to highlight musicians that are amassing “trackers” – fans who track the artists on Bandsintown – for an entire year. These artists will be termed “Big Break” artists.


The first Big Break artists will include FOXTRAX, Minke, Peach Pit and SISTERS.


In order to qualify for the program, artists have to have grown from 100 to 5,000 Bandsintown trackers within a six-month period. These artists will get editorial support, additional in-app features, partnerships with brands, touring and special showcase opportunities and promotion via social media.


Bandsintown managing partner Fabrice Sergent said, “We know how hard it is for developing acts to reach the next level, and we’re passionate about helping them to achieve this milestone … Our latest program uses data to identify artists who have seen extensive growth on our platform within a six month span, and helps support them at a crucial turning point in their careers. We’re extremely excited to work with each of these artists and to watch them grow. We would also like to thank the artists for inviting us along for their ride.”


Peach Pit’s manager, Tristan Orchard added, “We’re super excited to be part of the program … Bandsintown is really valuable in ensuring the group’s fans know about upcoming shows and it’s really awesome they’re supporting emerging artists.”


Bandsintown houses 440,000 artists and has 38 million users.


Warner Music 2017 Revenues Up Ten Percent


Warner Music Group (WMG) reported its second consecutive year of profits in 2017, according to preliminary reports released by Billboard.


Revenues were $3.576 billion, up over 10-percent from the previous year. Profits were up by $30 million.


WMG earned more money in almost every division, with more than half its total revenue coming from digital, largely driven by streaming. That division was up 24-percent from 2016. Physical revenue for the year was down slightly along with artist services and expanded rights, licensing ad other income streams.


The biggest earners in terms of artists in 2017 were Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Twenty One Pilots, the Hamilton original Broadway cast album and Clean Bandit.


While revenue grew, profitability was also up in the WMG recorded music division, with operating income up by 4.6 percent. Still, costs rose more quickly than revenue growth, up 13.14 percent. A&R costs grew more than any other expense categories, up 19 percent.


Publishing revenue was up by 9.2 percent, whereas publishing operating income was up 19.1 percent from 2016. Digital revenue made up 32.7-percent of total publishing revenue, whereas it was 26.9 percent in the previous year. Performance revenue and synch revenue were both up, with mechanical revenue falling slightly.


WMG’s publishing company Warner/Chappel’s operating income was up 19.1 percent in 2017, helped along by a reduction in selling, general and administrative costs.


Steve Cooper, CEO of Warner Music Group explained, “We’ve now had five consecutive years of global revenue growth in constant currency, and the last two were up double digits … Our momentum reflects the tremendous talent and appeal of our artists and songwriters, and the strength of our worldwide operating team. Investing to maintain our growth will remain a priority into 2018 and beyond.”


Executive vice president and CFO Eric Levin said the company ended its fiscal year with $647 million in cash, “the highest level ever in our history as a standalone company.”


Google Blocking YouTube from Amazon Devices


Google said it will begin blocking access to YouTube on Amazon’s Echo Show device immediately and on Amazon’s Fire TV starting on January 1.


According to Variety, a Google spokesperson also offered up an uncharacteristically “frank” statement, blaming Amazon’s inability to strike up a business deal with Google for the penalty:


“We’ve been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other’s products and services. But Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest’s latest products. Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”


Amazon released the following response on December 5:


“Echo Show and Fire TV now display a standard web view of YouTube.com and point customers directly to YouTube’s existing website. Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website. We hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible.”


The battle between Google and Amazon has been in progress for several months. In September, Google began to block YouTube on Echo Show, the company’s voice-enabled speaker with an integrated display. Each company blamed the other for the issue until Amazon restored YouTube on the device in November.


A source close to YouTube said the latest implementation on Amazon devices violated YouTube’s terms of service because it layers voice control onto a web app that does not have its own voice interaction feature.


The feud is also rooted in a difference of opinion of the way Amazon has used Android on its own devices and its decision to have a separate app store for these devices. It heated up for the first time in 2015 when Amazon discontinued sales of Google’s Chromecast streaming adapter, once a top-selling streaming device on Amazon.com. Amazon has also never carried the Google Home smart speaker and removed some of Nest’s products from its store after Google blocked the Echo Show in September.


YouTube is one of the most-watched channels on all streaming devices, so not having it on Amazon’s products will likely affect holiday says.

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