I was reading my morning tech news and out of the recent apple earnings report CEO Tim Cook mentions Apple Music now has 13 million paying users. Interestingly also Spotify has hit 30 million paying users as of March 2016, up from 20 million in June 2015. It has certainly taken a while to catch on in my opinion, the idea of paying for streaming music, but it certainly has. You could stream music online in 2005 rather easily, except back then the concept of paying for streaming was difficult for most people to grasp. However, there are still some problems with streaming music providers, they are not profitable.
Looking at Apple Music first I can't really say whether it needs to be profitable as it is all about keeping users in the apple ecosystem. Personally I have an Apple Music account, and also a paid Spotify account. I like to have both because there is music in some that is not in the other, and vice versa. Spotify however has never really achieved profitability and most of what I'm reading details how the greater the size of Spotify the greater the losses. This could be mostly due to the huge number of free users and the cost to service these users, but I haven't really looking to deeply into the business model myself.
There are also a huge number of other streaming providers, to the point now where it's becoming harder to select which one is the best option. There is a problem here, can each one of these providers be profitable on their own? Can the streaming business model work? I'm not sure whether anyone actually knows yet but there are certainly a few trying. All I can hope for is the music industry to once again financially support artists better, and for all those highly talented artists to be able to grow and develop their careers like they once could before Napster sucked the revenue out of the industry.
It's been a long time in development, but we now have a brand new modern design theme ready to go for your band or musician website. I have called it Warehouse. It’s a full screen, mobile responsive template perfect to showcase your band with a large cover background image that will stretch according to the browser screen size.
Some of the really cool features of this theme include an audio player with a hidden playlist that slides into view when you click the menu button next to the play/pause icon. This is a great feature for mobile support also. This design theme supports seamless or continuous audio playback so fans can browse around your band's website without the music stopping.
Along with this new theme the site design editor has been improved with some updates that include ability to set transparent colours, along with a few more controls added for greater design flexibility. Best thing you can do is simply play around with the various editing functions to see how you can create an awesome custom design based off this new theme. The transparent background functionality is really cool for use with the main navigation menu and the social footer over a full screen background image of your band.
If you would like to use this new design theme for your website, simply go to the design section of your admin area and select the "use template" button for the theme. You will not lose any custom edits with your current design, and can switch back easily.
This is a big question I am asking myself this week, and a question I am also asking myself is how MyMusicStream can deal with this issue. The main issue musicians and bands are currently facing is the shift from web to mobile apps and how they can still engage directly with their fans, short of building their own mobile app. But who wants yet another mobile app to install, let alone one for every band they like? Fans prefer to use a couple of apps for their music, leading the charge in recent years has been Spotify.
Before the mobile app market boomed we had MP3 upload websites where you could set up a profile for your band and upload your music for users of the website. After a while you had profiles on dozens of websites, and had fans fragmented across them. After that came social networking in the form of Myspace, which dropped off the face of the earth when Facebook came about. Around that time though the MP3 upload sites started to evolve or be replaced by streaming music communities. MyMusicStream was one of them, but the bigger ones were the likes of PureVolume, SoundClick, Last.fm, BandCamp, SoundCloud and dozens more. There was also ReverbNation, which always confused me what it was actually trying to be or do.
So where are we at currently? Well, everything has of course gone mobile. With the recent launch of Apple Music we are starting to see what I always believed in, that streaming music is the future and it is cross device. Funny that I thought about this in 2005 when I registered the domain name mymusicstream.com, yet back then people couldn't understand what it meant. "Sorry, is that my music scream...?" I used to get as a response to me telling them what the site was called. At this moment in time seems there are streaming music services appearing everywhere, and the market is already rather competitive with Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Rdio, Pandora, Amazon Prime and many more. Personally I have Spotify and Apple music, which seems to cover most of what I listen to, except I don't seem to be discovering any independent or smaller artists through these apps.
I recently read a report in the USA showing people are spending more time on mobile apps than watching TV! I'm not surprised by this as I get public transport home from work and see almost every single person glued to their mobile devices. What does this mean? Basically that music listeners time is spent on a smaller number of apps, rather than browsing the web looking for music on a large number of websites. When they want to listen to music, they just go to their music app. People take in life the path of least resistance, well most do anyway.
So how do artists engage with fans in these current times? A musician or band still should have a mobile friendly website as their permanent home on the web. I actually think these days however the website should be less complex and featured than it was several years ago, but it just should be enough so that die hard fans will visit and join a mailing list, listen to some new tracks, view some photos, videos, etc. It should look awesome still, but it should be simple and work across various devices. But reality is only those die hard fans will actually visit your website. The larger audience will simple listen to your music on their app if its available, and if they want maybe look at your profile within that app.
I work on MyMusicStream to provide a service for musicians and bands to manage their website, and each website is a direct-to-fan engagement tool for artists. However, the issue now is that fans are engaging on mobile apps more than on websites. The big difference being that it's ok for a person to browse many websites, but they are not going to install that many music apps. The band website still and always will have its place, but do I now create a single MyMusicStream mobile app for both artists and music listeners? How do I do this without confusing people as to what MyMusicStream is and does? Most of all, how do I keep things simple and pay for expensive and ongoing development costs? How can artists earn money? Do artists understand how much money it costs to build all this stuff? How do listeners pay for this? Will they pay for this? So many questions. Back to work.
Much has been happening behind the scenes at mymusicstream.com, including the rollout of a new website design. The new design is rather unique, with much improved mobile support. Love to hear some feedback in the comments below.
Stay tuned for some updates to the platform, including a new artist website design theme, and a multi-artist add-on allowing you to build a website for your record label.
Content Social Sharing
You can now share to facebook, twitter, google plus, linkedin and email with social sharing buttons within admin. Whenever you post a new track, blog post, video, etc you can instantly share on facebook, etc.
Website visitors have instant sharing buttons so your fans can help share your content across social media. Deeper social integration is being worked on also, stay tuned!
Audio & Video Statistics
Music & video statistics are now complete with plays and downloads being recorded. Simple charts show you plays and downloads for your music and video, with more reporting options in development.
The marketplace is now back online! Looking for help with your website design, post a project in the marketplace.
Album, Track & Video Sorting
You can now change album, track and video display order with drag and drop functionality. Simply click, hold and drag items up and down to change the display order.
Version 8 Almost Here
It has certainly been a long time in development, but the new version 8 will be released in beta for new artist websites in the next few weeks. After some testing I will also be working on an upgrade process for current websites, which should be live towards end of January 2015. For current artists that want to take advantage or try out the new platform, you can simply create a new website to play around with and delete your old one when your ready to use it.
Crowdfunding with Indiegogo
Recently an artist sent me a link on facebook to their Indiegogo campaign, which is a great service for helping fund your music projects, band tour, etc. Check out This Flight Tonight's campaign and see if you can help fund the 3rd EP!!
Also I have set up a MyMusicStream partner page for you to start your own campaigns, which I can help promote.
2015 Development Plans
After the new version 8 is released, the plan is to continue adding great new features to the new platform. Over the years I have had a lot of feedback from artists and am truely trying to create the most amazing solution for you or your band to self promote online. There will be some old features of the MyMusicStream community returning in a new music discovery website, new design themes, integrations, improved marketplace and more....