Technology News of Note

June 2016

With the accelerating pace of technological change, the League posts a monthly digest of relevant news and information regarding changes, trends, and developments that may affect the electronic media activities that orchestras use to achieve their institutional missions. For each monthly digest, the League’s electronic media consultants, Michael Bronson and Joe Kluger, draw from a variety of websites and publications to provide excerpts or summaries of articles. (These do not necessarily represent the views of the League.)

League members with questions about the information in this digest or about other electronic media topics – e.g., planning, strategy, and production – may contact Michael Bronson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or Joe Kluger at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

YouTube CEO: TV’s Loss of Viewers Is Our Gain

YouTube keeps flexing its massive muscles in the face of the TV industry. The Google-owned video powerhouse said it now reaches more viewers on mobile alone in the target demo of 18-49 than any single television network — and in primetime, YouTube delivers more of that audience than the top 10 TV shows combined. (Source: Variety)

 

How Southern California became the backdrop to an opera about a 'hysterical' woman

Conceived by New York-based composer Lisa Bielawa, "Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser" tells the story of Vireo, a troubled young woman experiencing hysterical fits and the chain of events that this condition unleashes around her.  "Vireo" is an episodic opera, whose innovation also lies in its format, which is designed to be watched online in roughly 10-minute episodes — or in a single marathon binge, when the entire opera goes online in spring 2017. To be certain, this is no simple simulcast. Though the performances are all captured live (there is no dubbing), the final product is designed specifically to be seen like a movie. (Source: Los Angeles Times)

 

Internet Video Views Is A 100 Percent Inaccurate Metric

We are, right now, in the midst of a digital media upheaval. What was previously conventional wisdom—that a media company with hopes of turning a profit needs, above all, to achieve scale—is being proven false. The new conventional wisdom is that video will be digital media’s savior, but it is only a matter of time before this is proven false too. This is in large measure because of the conflation of digital and traditional viewership metrics, which are calculated differently. If advertisers can be hoodwinked into believing that a sizable number of people are actually watching things on Facebook Live, they will direct their money online, where the ad rates are much, much lower than they are on TV. The thing here is that the TV people are right—even serious online video hits deliver numbers that would barely register if measured the same way TV programming is. (Source: Gawker)

 

Amazon Takes on YouTube and Others, Opening Video Platform to All Creators

Amazon, which touts itself as Earth’s biggest store, has officially launched its bid to be the place to watch any kind of video under the sun. With the launch of Amazon Video Direct, open to any video creator, the e-commerce giant will compete head-to-head with Google’s YouTube for video-ad dollars and views as well as other big Internet video distributors like Facebook and Vimeo. Partners participating in Amazon Video Direct have four distribution options. They can make their content available to Prime Video subscribers and receive a per-hour royalty fee; it can be sold as an add-on subscription through the Streaming Partners Program; it can be offered for digital rental or purchase; or it can be made available to all Amazon customers for free with ads, and creators will receive a 55% share of the ad revenue (the same as YouTube). (Source: Variety)

 

Music downloads may only have about four years left

All signs point to music heading toward a post-iTunes world.  Ownership of songs and albums, which saw its own transformation from physical to digital in the 2000s, is now steadily being edged out by massive streaming catalogs and monthly subscription models. Midia Research founder Mark Mulligan predicts the music download business will stutter at around $600 million in 2019—a depressing fall from $3.9 billion in 2012, when Apple’s iTunes Store was at its revenue peak. In 2015, downloads declined by 16%, and they look to slide as much as 30% more this year. By 2020, Apple’s budding streaming service, Apple Music, will likely be 10 times bigger than the company’s download business. “This is the point at which Apple would choose to turn off the iTunes Store,” Mulligan writes. (Source: Quartz.com)

 

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to simulcast European tour concert

Watching a Pittsburgh Symphony concert on a screen at Heinz Hall isn’t that different from cheering on the Steelers or the Penguins at a sports bar.  At least that’s how the PSO sees it. The orchestra left recently on a 14-concert tour of some of the great halls in Europe. And at one of those august venues — the Berlin Philharmonie — the orchestra’s concert will be broadcast live to Heinz Hall. The Berlin simulcast allows the symphony to share with the home crowd a critical part of its identity that normally is unavailable to even the most devout fans. (Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

 

BBC gets green light to launch Netflix rival

BBC plans to launch a homegrown rival to Netflix and Amazon Prime are a step closer to reality after the government gave it the green light to launch a new paid-for subscription service. Early indications are that it would charge viewers to watch BBC programs after the 30-day window in which they are currently available to watch for free on the iPlayer has expired. It may also include some original content – the BBC already premieres a small selection of comedies, drama and documentaries on the iPlayer – but the bulk of the material would already have been shown on the BBC. (Source: The Guardian)

 

Can classical go digital?

The major streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and Deezer are the new kingpins of the music industry and, so far at least, this revolution in the way we listen to music is being shaped by pop. Classical has barely got a look-in. In a way, this is no surprise: classical music makes up just 3.2 per cent of the streaming market. So how can classical music find its own home in this brave new digital world? The biggest problem is that classical music doesn’t come in neat little packages called songs, each with a unique name. What’s more, many if not most pieces have been recorded multiple times, sometimes by the same artist. Streaming sites are ill-equipped to deal with this complexity. On Spotify, composers such as Beethoven are regularly listed as “artist” and when you search for a particular symphony you get a chaotic jumble of different recordings.  Fortunately, however, there is light on the horizon. This week an exciting new classical music streaming service launches called Grammofy.com. It joins a burgeoning market of streaming services dedicated to classical music, including Arkiv Music (arkivmusic.com) and Classics Online HD*LL (shop.classicsonlinehd.com). Grammofy very cunningly makes a pact with the sharing culture of pop-dominated websites by offering curated playlists such as “The beloved and the forlorn” and “The graceful and the grotesque”. (Source: The Telegraph)

 

Why Museums Are Granting Google Free Access to Their Collections

Google Cultural Institute recently revealed that it has engineered the creatively named Google Art Camera: a custom-built camera intended to capture “ultra-high resolution ‘gigapixel’ images” of artworks in museums around the world. It also shared about 1,000 of these photographs online that allow anyone with internet access to zoom in closely to examine the originals — or rather, representations of the originals — in staggering detail. This collection will continue to grow as Google plans to send its 20-strong camera convoy to museums around the world. It also means that Google is increasingly receiving and compiling a ton of data for free (it doesn’t pay the museums) — so we were curious: what are the benefits museums receive by showcasing their collections on another platform? What is perhaps the most obvious answer is the one every museum representative I spoke with provided: that placing an institution’s artworks on Google grants museums’ collections much more visibility and public access — which, for many of them, constitutes a central objective. (Source: Hyperallergic.com)

 

Music World Bands Together Against YouTube, Seeking Change to Law

A few years ago, the biggest enemy of the music industry was Pandora Media. Then Spotify became the target. Now it is YouTube’s turn.  In recent months, the music world has been united to a rare degree in a public fight against YouTube, accusing the service of paying too little in royalties and asking for changes to the law that allows the company to operate the way it does. The battle highlights the need to capture every dollar as listeners’ habits turn to streaming, as well as the industry’s complicated relationship with YouTube. With more than a billion users, including the youngest and most engaged music fans, YouTube has long been seen by the music business as a vital way to promote songs and hunt for the next star. At the same time, music executives grumble that it has never been a substantial source of revenue and is a vexing outlet for leaks and unauthorized material. It may not be a coincidence that the major record labels are also in the midst of renegotiating their licensing contracts with YouTube this year. (Source: New York Times)