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2 MusicWeek 24.01.14 NEWS EDITORIAL

Streaming’s year of reckoning is now upon us

IF YOU WANT a barometer of how intense the battle for music streaming dominance has become, try this for size: one label boss this week drew the analogy that the sector’s now every bit as rife with squabbles, dirty tricks and one-upmanship as “high street music retail of 15 years ago”. Interestingly, the difference between the two predominant

headline-snatching elements of this almighty land-grab - Beats Music and Spotify - has become tellingly obvious in the past few weeks. Beats, which launched in the US on Tuesday (we’re still awaiting UK news), operates on a Netflix-style monetary setup: you can have a month for free, but after that, anything you want has to be paid for. It has made noises about paying ‘independent’ and major rights-holders the same royalty rate, but what that means for artists and writers is still really anyone’s guess. On the other hand, Spotify has just increased the amount

of content users can hoover up for free - deleting any time restrictions on its service for those accessing the ad-assisted desktop version and giving them access, for the first time, to a shuffle-style mobile app.

“Apple is not anchored to making cash from

music. It’s anchored to making cash from devices - something Beats and Spotify know all too well”

As any manager whose artist is on a decent enough label deal

to make such things bother-worthy will tell you, the premium tier of these services is massively more valuable to rights-holders, and it’s where the industry needs the likes of Spotify to drive consumers. Spotify, meanwhile, will tell you that’s exactly what they’re doing:

getting consumers hooked on free before gently nudging them up to pay town. But that’s currently a town of a mere 6 million people. Right now, Beats seems to have the bigger marketing

warchest, promising to “squash” the competition with banner advertising such as a megabucks ad during the Superbowl. Despite it presumably having to pay out the same crippling

advances as other services for its 20 million-plus tracks, its headphones division - a business worth a billion quid, according to a recent Vivendi earnings call - has obviously given it the rump of revenue it needs to make a splash. The unmentioned catalyst for Spotify’s freemium generosity

and Beats’ goliath marketing expenditure might, on the surface, seem to be a reaction to one another. But what neither’s admitting is any fear in the face of the massively powerful, sleekly-designed elephant (i-lephant?) in the room. Despite taking a very healthy 30% cut on all iTunes income - a

model borrowed by Spotify, no less - Apple’s business is not anchored to making cash from music. It’s anchored to making cash from devices. And as the consumer masses wake up to streaming, it’s going to have to dive in sooner rather than later. You have to wonder if the labels and publishers, still raking in

healthy income from downloads despite their apparent decline, are allowing Apple to compete in the on-demand streaming marketplace - or if they’re holding out on license deals; keeping their fingers crossed that Spotify, Beats, Deezer or another industry- backed outfit will make serious headway soon. Because if they don’t, eventually, the game will be up again. Tim Ingham, Editor

Do you have views on this column? Feel free to comment by emailing


‘It’s too early to say we



he Voice UK may not have seen much in the way of chart success so far, but the

team behind the BBC talent contest says it’s too soon to say the show hasn’t produced a star. The programme’s series one

winner Leanne Mitchell saw her self-titled Island-issued LP peak at No.134 on the Official UK Albums Chart in May 2013. Runner up Tyler James fared a little better with his 2012 LP A Place I Go reaching No.47 while fellow runner up Bo Bruce hit the No.10 spot with her debut LP Before I Sleep. Series two winner Andrea

Begley is the most successful of The Voice UK alumni to date with her debut album The Message, released in October last year, reaching No.7 in on the Official UK Albums Chart, despite singles My Immortal and Dancing In The Dark only reaching No.30 and No.113 respectively. But head of entertainment at

The Voice UK’s production company Wall To Wall, Moira Ross, says passing judgement on the show’s hit-maker credentials is premature just now. “I think it’s still early stages

for the show. It took The X Factor [three series] before Leona came out and was their first big hit,” she told Music Week.

“These things take time so I

think it’s too early to say that we haven’t produced a star. “Andrea [Begley] had an

album that charted at No.7 - surely for a lot of people that is still considered a success.” Ross expressed hope for

Begley’s fellow series two contestant and runner-up Leah McFall, who has been working with will.iam on her debut album. “She’s got amazing writers and

producers involved with it,” said Ross. “I’ve heard it and I think it’s got a huge amount of potential.” Ross also made the case for

The Voice UK as a positive contribution to music on television outside of its contestants. “I don’t think there is enough

music on TV. Part of my job running entertainment is to be constantly pitching new music shows to channels,” she said. “I do think that there’s a hole left by shows like The Tube and Top Of The Pops, but I’m proud that The Voice is a music show that’s

authentic and is on prime time television reaching 10 million people. It gives a platform for our stars to perform and other artists who are promoting at the time during the live shows. “In addition to that, we’ve got

a live band. Other than [Later With.. Jools Holland], there’s nowhere else on TV that celebrates music with a brilliant live band – they’re top musicians.” The Voice UK celebrated a

successful start to its third series earlier this month, with ratings for its opening programme being 2 million up on last year’s – success of which is attributed to new panel members Kylie Minogue and Kaiser Chiefs’ Ricky Wilson, as well as a scheduling change which took the show out of direct competition with ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent. “I hope the scheduling can play

a part in [continued success] but I hope genuinely that people will see it’s a celebration of music and that they will come to enjoy that.”

Clean Bandit break Shazam record

Clean Bandit’s latest single Rather Be racked up over 110,000 Shazam tags in the UK last week - a new record for the music discovery platform. The track was released on

January 19 on Atlantic and is the third single from Clean Bandit’s upcoming debut studio album. At the time of going to

press, Rather Be was at No.1 in the Official Midweek Sales flashes, a solid 21,000 copies ahead of its nearest challenger, Wild Heart by The Vamps.

YouTube views on the track

have averaged 150,000 per day for the past week, Atlantic GM Mark Mitchell told Music Week. He added: “Rather Be is an

incredible track that creates huge passion amongst fans and this is proven by the scale of the Shazam numbers/tags. “Similarly, its current

YouTube plays are phenomenal for a track that’s yet to start its success story outside the UK. “Clean Bandit are up there with the most creative artists

we’ve ever worked with - they have a clear and distinctive vision which runs through their work. “We’re hugely excited about

both this early success and their long-term potential.”

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