Digital Media News

December 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 digital media activities that orchestras use to achieve their institutional missions. For each monthly digest, the League's digital 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 digital 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. .

Apple Music Considering a Serious Price Drop, Sources Say

Apple Music may be preparing for a major price drop, according to a pair of sources working closely with the streaming service. If implemented, the drop could be as much as 20%, which would put the final monthly price below $8. The change, if implemented, would allow Apple to minimize any damage from a seriously undercutting Amazon Music. They also emphasized that the changes are still under discussion, and the price chop may not be implemented. (Source: Digital Music News)

Pasadena was among the first California cities to say publicly this fall that it wanted to tax video streaming services like Netflix, a step that could make up for lost tax revenue from growing numbers of cord-cutters. At 9.4 percent, the so-called Netflix tax would treat streaming services as a traditional utility, the city said. If you use multiple services — for example, Hulu, Amazon Video and HBO — it would be added to each bill. The move in Pasadena, with a population of about 140,000, has drawn consternation from technology companies and consumers who worry that it could be copied across the state. Public officials have argued that taxation rules need to be revised to account for changing technologies. It is unfair, some say, that people who get video through cable television are taxed while those who have shifted over to internet streaming services are not. One question officials would need to resolve is where to stop, analysts say. If streaming video is taxable, then what about music, podcasts or video games? (Source: New York Times)
Donald Trump's victory means that Republicans soon will take control of the Federal Communications Commission. That could spell the end for net neutrality regulations and other initiatives of the agency’s hard-charging Democratic chairman...A new Republican-led FCC is expected to try to reverse the regulations. Congressional Republicans also could attempt to override the rules with legislation, an effort that stalled in 2013 because of a sure Obama veto. (Source: Los Angeles Times)
The song “We Shall Overcome,” which is famous as a civil rights anthem, is the subject of a lawsuit that challenges the validity of the song’s copyright. Along with the recent suits involving “Happy Birthday to You” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” the case has focused attention on one of the central questions in copyright: finding a balance between protecting intellectual property on behalf of private owners, and giving the public access to famous songs whose origins may be murky. In making the case that the song should be declared part of the public domain, the suit also argues that the version of the song registered for copyright in 1960 and 1963, by Pete Seeger and others, includes only minor alterations that are not enough to justify a copyrightable variation, like changing the line “We will overcome” to “We shall overcome.” (Source: New York Times)

Pandora Says It's Open to an Acquisition by SiriusXM
Pandora says it’s open to an acquisition by SiriusXM. Wall Street thinks that’s a great idea. The deal would be structured through SiriusXM Holdings owner Liberty Media. The Wall Street Journal (and other sources) have pointed to a rejected bid back in July. But, keep in mind that Pandora has had a major management overhaul since that point. Most important, original co-founder Tim Westergren is back in the CEO chair, after the board bid adieu to Brian McAndrews. Also important: Pandora has activist investors who want to sell. (Source: Digital Music News)

Almost overnight, YouTube has become the biggest enemy of the music industry. This year, the company has been accused of ripping off artists, stealing their videos, and barely paying its fair share. Even the biggest manager in the music business, Irving Azoff, threatened to remove his entire roster — of more than 20,000 tracks — from YouTube. And the entire European Union has demanded that YouTube pay musicians more money. Now, YouTube is fighting back, and telling the music industry to stop complaining. In a blog post, YouTube executive Robert Kyncl, says that “in the last 12 months, YouTube has paid out over $1 billion to the music industry from advertising alone, demonstrating that multiple experiences and models are succeeding alongside each other. And this is just the beginning. As more advertising dollars shift from TV, radio and print to online services, the music industry will generate even more revenue from ads. In the future, the music business has an opportunity to look a lot like television, where subscriptions and advertising contribute roughly equal amounts of revenue, bolstered by digital and physical sales. To achieve this, there is a lot of work that must be done by YouTube and the industry as a whole, but we are excited to see the momentum.” (Source: Digital Music News)

Many social media networks have tried and failed to become the go-to platform for musicians to engage with their fans. Remember Twitter #Music or Facebook Mentions? But while others have fallen short in capturing the music world, Instagram has taken a series of small steps to turn its once photo-driven service into a creative haven where artists tease new music, reveal album artwork, announce tour dates, and offer intimate behind-the-scenes glimpses. To cite just a few of those steps, over the past year, the platform has extended the length of video posts to 60 seconds, introduced Instagram Stories (and later included the ability to add web links and tags, unlike its rival Snapchat Stories), and hired Lauren Wirtzer Seawood, Beyoncé's former digital guru, as head of music partnerships. In an article in Fast Company, Instagram share a compilation of year-end data that highlights the company's continued evolution and focus in the music space. (Source: Fast Company)