Digital Media News

January 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. .


Google’s 360-Degree views drop you in the middle of symphonies and plays

Google Cultural Institute has announced a new partnership with 60 performing arts institutes around the world to bring 360-degree view, live performances to online audiences. Think of it as Street View, but instead of a suburban ranch house or office complex, you get dynamic performances from American Ballet Theatre or Carnegie Hall or the Royal Shakespeare Company. (Source: Wired)


Spotify is said to have reconsidered its free access policy for big acts’ new albums

Since it started in 2008, the streaming service Spotify has clung fiercely to its so-called freemium model, arguing that the best way to get people to buy a subscription for unlimited music online is to make the same catalog of songs also available free to listeners, but with ads. That strategy has helped Spotify grow into the biggest service of its kind, with what the company says is more than 20 million paying users and another 55 million who use its free version. But in recent negotiations with the band Coldplay, the company showed a new openness to making exceptions to that model, offering to restrict access for the band’s new album to the service’s paid version and keep it off its free tier for a limited time. That strategy, sometimes called windowing, is something that record labels have long been lobbying for, but Spotify has resisted. (Source: New York Times)


Europe plans to ease copyright rules on using digital content

Europe’s policy makers have announced far-reaching plans to overhaul Europe’s copyright rules, including new rules to reshape which online video and music services are available and a review of how content from publications can be distributed on major sites like Google and Yahoo. The new rules would allow Europeans to temporarily view movies and videos they have bought on a digital service no matter where they are in the 28-member bloc. Copyright restrictions now limit access to the European country in which the content is bought. The review of the copyright rules, which will be outlined in greater detail in early 2016, also could lead to restriction on how some of the world’s largest tech companies include online articles in their aggregation services like Google News. (Source: New York Times)


Now you can buy concert tickets on Facebook

Facebook has announced that it is debuting a new “Buy Tickets” button on its event pages, allowing users to quickly snag tickets to events, which can be claimed at Will Call windows. The social media giant is working with a small group of artists, promoters, and venues in the Bay Area in this early phase, but it has plans to expand. According to BuzzFeed, Facebook will not be taking a slice of the ticket prices. In fact, the entire fulfillment process will be handed off to third parties. Facebook has simply created an interface for selling the tickets and will send a confirmation email to the address the user has registered with Facebook. (Source: Fast Company)


3.5 million reasons why Rhapsody still matters

Rhapsody has increased its subscribers by 45 percent over the last year. The music streaming service now has nearly 3.5 million global subscribers in 34 countries.The news highlights the opportunity in front of Rhapsody as music streaming goes mainstream. The recent growth in the music streaming market has seen the likes of Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube storm ahead. However, in this fiercely competitive market, Rhapsody has fought to stay relevant and its recent growth definitely makes it a player in the game. (Source: Digital Music News)


We need more (on-demand) films of new operas

In a New Music Box essay, author Nell Shaw Cohen imagines what he would spend money on if he won the lottery. “Near the top of my fantastical list of grant programs is this wish: to support the creation and distribution of high-quality films of contemporary operas. It could create new audiences for live opera, give long-term life to contemporary works, and enable young and emerging composers, librettists, and performers to become more aware of the state of the art. Leveraging streaming video on demand, whether through subscription, pay-per-rent, or ad-based platforms (or some combination thereof), is one strategy that could be particularly effective at removing some major barriers to experiencing new operas, both for new audiences and opera devotees who lack access to live performances.” (Source: New Music Box)


Streaming royalties rise, but not as high as music industry wanted

A panel of federal judges has ordered Pandora Media Inc. and other Internet radio stations to pay higher royalties for sound recordings in a ruling that could have broad ramifications for the music industry. The Copyright Royalty Board ruled that, effective January 1, online radio companies will have to pay 17 cents per 100 plays of songs through 2020. That's a notable increase over the current rate of 14 cents per 100 streams. Last year Pandora paid 44 percent of its revenue, more than $400 million, in royalties for recordings. But the rate set by the judges was also much lower than what the music industry wanted. In filings in the case, SoundExchange, a nonprofit licensing agency that represented the record companies, had asked the judges to set a rate of 25 cents per 100 plays. (Source: New York Times)


Pandora builds on its direct deal goal with ASCAP and BMI licensing agreements

The year seems to be ending on a great note for Pandora Media, which started 2015 with an uncertain future. Following its multi-year licensing agreement with Sony/ATV, Pandora recently inked two multi-year licensing agreements with ASCAP and BMI, which are among the bigger performance rights organizations (PROs) in the world. The specific terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, but it is apparent that all the parties have a lot to gain from these deals. (Source: Forbes)


Spotify is being sued for $150 million over unpaid royalties…

Spotify is facing a massive class action lawsuit, with serious allegations of unpaid royalties. The suit was filed December 28th by musician David Lowery, frontman of bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, who claims that Spotify is distributing copyrighted content while skipping key royalties. As a result, Lowery is seeking at least $150 million in damages for the illegal distribution of songs. Lowery alleges that Spotify intentionally failed to obtain proper licenses for the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted compositions. Sources say that Spotify has set aside $17 to $25 million to pay out to rights holders. (Source: Digital Music News)


Total music streams doubled in 2015

Song downloads plunged another 12.5 percent last year, and a depressing 23.4 percent since 2013, according to preliminary US-based stats from Nielsen Music. Indeed, downloading is plunging downward, but streaming is absolutely soaring: according to the same dataset, the total number of streams doubled in just one year.

(Source: Digital Music News)