June 22, 2015


Bits & Bytes: Is Taylor Swift The Most Powerful Person In Music?

Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images for TAS
Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images for TAS

Jesse Kirshbaum is the co-founder and visionary behind SoundCTRL, the authority in music tech culture, news and events. When not serving as CEO of NUE Agency, he sits on the Global Advisory Board of Social Media Week and Digital Music Wire, sharing a dynamic enthusiasm and passion for shaping the new music business. Stay tuned to Fuse.tv for Bits & Bytes, his weekly roundup and personal take on the latest in music tech. 

Words and roundup by Jesse K, powered by SoundCTRL

Welcome summer! And thank you Taylor. 

Over the weekend, Taylor Swift took a stand against Apple Music, asking them to pay musicians during their controversial three-month trial period. In a true testament to Taylor’s clout and vision, one of Apple's SVPs personally called Taylor to discuss the policy change. In the end, Taylor won: Apple is going back on their original plans, and now plans to pay artists during their 90-day free trial.

Even now that Apple is over this initial spat, I’m still left wondering whether this sort of streaming service can work. Consumers are already used to getting music for free, so is it too late for them to go back to paying? Labels and streaming services certainly want a paid model to work, but is that really what’s best for the fans? Even some of the industry powerhouses seem to be worrying. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek just claimed that he would rather fold his company than get rid of Spotify’s free streaming tier. Even if it isn’t the most lucrative model, I think Ek still is getting the right idea with his support of Spotify’s freemium services.  Personally, I would love to see a world where music is as accessible as possible, even if that means it has to be given away for free.

It'll be interesting see if Apple burns up over this summer, or will they melt with all the pressure? This will be a big tell in what the future of the industry looks like.

Streaming & Subscription: Swift, Streaming, & The Changing Tide
Taylor Swift's open Tumblr letter to Apple protesting it should pay for its three-month free trial made big waves this weekend and turns out her voice was the loudest. Apple's Eddy Cue swiftly announced a U-turn on Apple's free trial payouts and this is just one more twist in the much bigger streaming story. It certainly highlights some interesting dynamics, not least of which is how Swift's worldview differs from many of her contemporaries.

Music Festivals: Love & Startups
The music festival industry has become a big, and crowded, business. And promoters are looking for new ways to distinguish themselves. It's certainly not just about music anymore.

Digital Monopsony: The Indies & The Apple
Music trials that would not involve any royalty payments have questions remaining about Apple's growing role as a content platform—even after they reversed course yesterday.

Brands & Bands: Content Soars 52 Percent
Engagement with brand content soared 52 percent last quarter. Far from growing sick of brand content, people are increasing clicks faster than marketers pump it out. Here's what you need to know.

Artist Highlight: Rome Fortune's App
Rome Fortune has launched a free app, simply called Rome Fortune. It allows users to chat directly with Fortune, download his songs, purchase his merch, watch videos, and more!

Tech Funding: Today's Updates
All in one place, here's where you can see what tech companies are being funded— today! It's updated as the day unfolds and you can get updates straight to your email. Pretty cool discovery tool!

Taylor Swift: The Apple Slam
Let's discuss the side of Taylor Swift's Apple slam that no one's talking about. Reversing their decision is good business for Apple, but it's certainly not a win for the little guy.