Streaming Music Services & The New/Unknown Artist

Streaming Services Artist

How Does The Small Artist Fare?

In one single day the entire human race creates a combined total of 2.5 billion gigabytes of data. Part of this information is gathered to identify a listener’s musical taste. Its also used to develop algorithms which online streaming music use for services, features, and commerce. This information helps these streaming services obtain and retain consumers, while maintaining an increasing profit margin. Their subscribers are then able to discover new music which fits their musical taste profiles, and therefore continue paying their monthly subscription fees for the music. So how are these decisions being made behind the scenes? How do songs today get played on these services? And finally, can any artist, no matter how small, earn a decent living? It all began with Shazam.

The first company to ever leverage data collected to make better choices for their listeners was Pandora. Pandora created the Music Genome project which was the first data collecting program for classifying music. The MGP uses around 450 different criteria which are kept secret to the masses of music listeners. Genre, is just one example of a classification leaving the other 449 classification tags a mystery. Shazam was responsible for curating Apple’s playlists for the early part of the century. Many other companies are now becoming involved since the technology and bandwidth have increased ten-fold.

Another company called Echo Nest was also using a user predictability software to analyze users tastes. Echo Nest was acquired by Spotify in 2014 is used to help determine the probability of a user liking a new song. This music analytics firm “listens to the music” and uses criteria like language and other determining factors to send appropriate music to the listener’s playlist.

Before an artist’s music can be heard by a new listener, all music, no matter how big or how small the artist, is subjected to a strict computational analysis. This prevents problems and keeps listeners using the service. For example, a K-pop (Korean Pop) song will not play after a classical string quartet is played while listening on shuffle mode. If this ever occurred the streaming service would lose most likely be considered a failure, lose its subscription renewals and eventually go out of business. 

These streaming services use a feature called “shuffle mode” or discovery-based playlists which help artists connect with and develop new fans daily. Sadly, music streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, Napster, or Google Play are so concerned with profit that they choose to play only popular music and sadly don’t have the resources to assist a smaller artist in earning revenue. This is the catch 22. The problem is that any for profit business model to be successful, the criteria for these algorithms must be designed to achieve this goal. Thusly bringing only the most popular, top sellers into the spotlight while keeping the small artists lost in the dark reaches of the web. But how do these large streaming services interweave the familiar songs with the unfamiliar?

Spotify uses a feature in their App, appropriately named, which is called “Discover Weekly.” This feature connects the user with new music based on the following key factors: what other users are listening to, user personal taste preferences, and some in-house staff playlist editors. The list of streaming online music curation do not stop here. 

Apple Music is not new to the streaming services apps but they use a slightly more proprietary version of music curation to create a “For You” tab in which the listener will find access to new music previously unheard. Apple claims their method of music curation is hand-built by their own music editors and artists which use the service. As of January 22nd, 2018, Apple has joined the rest of the streaming services by adding an artist dashboard service for any artist who would like help expand their fanbase and keep an eye on their financials. Spotify also offers this service in the App Spotify for artists.

As of July 27th, 2017, there were a total of eight streaming music services available to stream and sell music. The sites are the following in order of payouts starting with the highest: Napster, Tidal, Apple Music, Google Play, Deezer, Spotify, Pandora, & YouTube. Since technology is ever-changing, the prices that were paid per stream were taken from an online article written by Forbes on July 27th, 2017. A small artist could expect to see the following examples of payouts for a certain number of songs streamed in the following chart: 

Service pps  # times played in 30 days Subtotal
Napster $0.0167 450 $7.52
Tidal $0.0110 380 $4.18
Apple Music $0.0064 833 $5.33
Google Play $0.0059 394 $2.32
Deezer $0.0056 383 $2.14
Spotify $0.0038 294 $1.12
Pandora $0.0011 3839 $4.22
Youtube (with minimum subs per month) $0.0006 0 $0.00
    Total Streams  TOTAL DUE
    6573 $26.84

After looking at the chart, it is easy to see how difficult it is to make even a proper minimum wage from streaming music sites payouts. This is at least better than nothing for the musician but a far cry from a living. Also, if the artist did not write and produce the music all themselves, then that money will have to be split according the split sheet and publisher contracts. Taking this into account, how can a small artist today leverage this information in order to maximize profits from their own uploaded music to these streaming sites? It seems that currently the answer is they cannot, and here’s why.

The more popular streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, make it extremely challenging to get played if you are not within the top 10 percent of music consumed. 

Simply put, why would anyone want to discover an artist without any clout in the market unless they were a music agent looking for the next big artist to sign? Understanding that streaming services are not democratic, for the less known artist, is the key to answering this question. 

Theses companies must balance its streaming technology costs and its income from subscribers or go out of business. In order to stay in business, the online music streaming services are forced to only play songs curated from the Top Billboard 100 streaming and Billboard Social 50. Furthermore, since these top 100 sites only list music superstars on them, it prevents any less known artist from making it into the rotation of the “Discover Weekly” playlists or Apple’s “For You” tab. Unless something drastically changes soon, the current streaming service business model prevents the unknown artists from getting enough streams to earn any more than a few dollars a month. And the listeners are generally from friends and families’ streams. A smart decision would be to make sure your friends and family, especially the older generation, has  and uses a streaming service that your on. Good luck with this one!

Currently, democracy is not the guiding factor for users to be introduced to the smaller artist. Sadly the algorithms of these large corporate conglomerates are based on earning profits and getting new subscribers. This is what is to be expected from a “for-profit” company. However, a company started by a musician Dr. Dre Tidal, is currently the only streaming service owned by musicians, for musicians. Because Tidal its owned by artists, there are slightly higher payouts and an algorithm in place that increases the chance of new users hearing smaller artists. While it seems reasonable to believe that for a small artist, selling music on the most popular service will result more earnings.

The harsh reality is that no one will be ever be introduced to any new music by smaller artists music through the discovery or shuffle method because the algorithm favors the most popular artists to maintain profit margins. To find a small artist a user would already have to know the artists name to seek out and find directly. This is completely counter-intuitive. Therefore, the smaller musician is best off not relying on these services for decent income. Is it possible for an artist to at least make minimum wage ? 

A professor at UC Irvine uncovered that to earn at least minimum wage, an artist would need to stream 4 million times in one month. Even with 60 billion subscribers, a small artist would find this practically impossible. Good news however is that recently the court system stepped in and changed this stark fact. In January of 2018, the US Copyright Royalty Board ruled that music publishers must be paid more for their songs. This comes as a wonderful boon to the smaller artist who is barely making ends meet. This increase will now force the big players in the streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora, and Tidal to pay 15 percent to all music publishers. This is noted to be one of the largest overnight increases in royalty payouts in US history.

20 years have passed since the first musical curation algorithm by Pandora. This has led to many new advances in online streaming services. While it seems intriguing for a small artist to upload their next album, EP, or single to any of these streaming services, is it worth the time and effort? With the algorithms favoring the Billboard top 100 and The answer is that its better for a smaller artist’s music to be found in more places online that less. As the online music industry approaches its 20th year anniversary, currently there is hope for a better income for a small artist today, but no one, to this date, has yet to develop a successful business model which ensures the smaller artist music will not get lost in the shadows of the brightly shining media superstars of digital world.

Sources Cited

Moon, Brian. “From Spotify to Shazam: How Big-Data Remade the Music Industry One Algorithm at a Time.” May 27, 2017. Accessed May 01, 2018. http:// www.newsweek.com/spotify-shazam-how-big-data-remade-music-industry-613325

“About The Music Genome Project®.” Pandora – Music Genome Project ®. Accessed May 01, 2018. https://www.pandora.com/about/mgp.

Pasick, Adam. “The Magic That Makes Spotify’s Discover Weekly Playlists so Damn Good.” Quartz. December 21, 2015. Accessed May 01, 2018. https://qz.com/ 571007/the-magic-that-makes-spotifys-discover-weekly-playlists-so-damn-good/.

“About The Music Genome Project®.” Pandora – Music Genome Project ®. Accessed May 01, 2018. https://www.pandora.com/about/mgp.

Caldwell, Serenity. “Apple Music – Everything You Need to Know Right Now!” IMore. January 22, 2018. Accessed May 01, 2018. https://www.imore.com/apple-music.

Caldwell, Serenity. “Apple Music – Everything You Need to Know Right Now!” IMore. January 22, 2018. Accessed May 01, 2018. https://www.imore.com/apple-music.

Kaufman, Mark. “Will Spotify and Apple Music Soon Be Forced to Jack up Their Prices?” Mashable. January 31, 2018. Accessed May 02, 2018. https://mashable.com/2018/01/31/copyright-court-rules-streaming-companies-have-to-pay-artists- more/#awyBp.rhHPq

 

An Excerpt From “Winter is Coming” composed by Jeremiah Williams

Winter is coming
Winter is coming

Here is an excerpt from the classical composition in C minor called “Winter is coming” written and composed by me (Jeremiah Williams). I hope you enjoy this small segment of classical intensity. Please feel free to let me know what you think. I hope to be ready to publish the entire piece soon. I will let you know. Thanks for listening to classical music.

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Origins Gallery – Downtown Stroudsburg – Poconos

Origins Gallery

Origins Gallery is a recently opened contemporary art gallery located at 580 Main street, in the quaint Downtown area of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Origins Gallery has weekly hours and has special events on Saturday evenings from 7-9. Each Saturday there is a different featured artist’s work displayed on the walls while a precisely paired musician or DJ provides the aural ambience. The team that runs the gallery are both artists themselves their names are Ashley Fontones and Jody Singer. Upon meeting with both of them I was able to schedule an interview with both Jody and Ashley which I bring to you.

Also, If you are a local artist looking for a fantastic place to display and hopefully sell your artwork, this is a great place to do it. Simply walk in and speak with Jody or Ashley and they will be happy to help.

I asked Jody to fill me in on the mission of the Origins Gallery and this is what he said.

“At Origins, what we also promote is the work and pride of that work within the artists to strive to do the best, and in the act of doing that best, you create the value within the works of art – a serious, yet often overlooked or misunderstood aspect of the works an artist produces.  The “best” can mean learning important mechanical fundamentals of the artform they choose to work with; to selecting subject matter to appeal to the ideal they have set for their process of opening their artwork to the world for admiration and sales, if that is their goal.”

“That value is carried into the gallery setting, which is what Origins ultimately serves the purpose for, and gives us this platform to showcase the works and this value to art collectors and admirers, interested buyers and, even critics.  Origins works to promote the artists, their abilities and the art they produce and encourages further growth, working with the various other gallery and arts agencies in the local and surrounding areas.”   (Jody Singer – Director, Curator, Coordinator )

Jody currently serves on the Board of Directors of Pocono Arts Council www.poconoarts.org and also am Director of St’ART Stroudsburg www.startstroudsburg.org  a Public Arts Project.  Origins Gallery is also a participating member of the Downtown Stroudsburg Business Cooperative, currently assisting with Stroudsburg’s WinterFest on February 12th and 13th, 2016 in downtown Stroudsburg, PA.  Their website is www.visitdowntownstroudsburg.com

Ashley Fontones, an extremely talented digital media artist,  is the other half of the operation. Together these two form a team with integrity and passion rarely found in this industry. I also had a chance to briefly interview Ashley and here is what she had to say:

“We created the Origins Gallery brand to be as versatile as possible, we can exist anywhere, in any venue, online, in the ether etc. The goal of Origins Gallery is to be a contemporary arts gallery, that embraces and encourages growth. We see every level of skill come through here, and the goal is to get everyone to strive towards that next step via art challenges and open creativity events such as Project First Step, our summer Open Studios and the soon to come Open Critique nights.”

“We love to especially work with emerging artists. There is a flurry of ideas happening, a motivation and drive that doesn’t exist in others, that we see in the emerging local artists. Those who never thought they could be accepted in society, find that once they create art, they are really accepting themselves. Watching Jody work with these people is incredible. I learn so much about patience and discipline that I didn’t get during my art school education. Origins was created to be home base for all artists, the “origin” of creation; We wanted artists to develop a sense of respect for the world of art, a reverence for it.”

“We wanted to introduce locals to the arts in a more accessible way. We said “You can start here, but you need to respect everything about this.” We try to push people to be as skilled as possible. This is good but you can do this better. We want people to embrace the challenges we put forth, and run with it. Many artists come down and communicate with us, and ask for opinions. This thirst for knowledge is inspiring the Open Critique night we plan on having. There is always room to learn more, and to push yourself. ” (Ashley Fontones, Co-director)

The town of Stroudsburg is once again lucky to have a gallery that almost any artist can have the opportunity to display, socialize, and sell their work.

Written by Jeremiah Williams.

 

I Diablo Arise

When bridges still aflame from yesterday melt away the joy of the night,
like hanging icicles in direct morning sun.

As the bitter cold touch of winters whipping wind rips the grip of warmth from the skin’s porous clutches.

Now the past decimates the present imprisoning perspective forecasting feverish lows and horrendous highs.

Now all Bear witness to the compulsion of destruction comprising of nothing but hate, comprised of only the chronic yearn to escape the terror of yesterday.

I Diablo arrive, bursting out of darkness once hidden far from light. Now separated by thin layer of ice I bring my great wrath upon thy life. And surely you will perish among the degenerates of the day, and remain as forgotten as one single grain of dirt on the frozen tundra of destiny.

A Walk In Verse Inverted

Pic of Inverted

We can not fight the ever fought
with righteousness alone.
We can not Win this war with sin
stifling many is any fools throne.

We’re only fooled by which we think
by already, soon, and when.
Yet blindly  trust for we know in our soul
where we are going each time again.

But oft when in past or future
are minds are most always boldest.
We remember things not as they were
these stories do uphold us.

With excuses and lies we paved our ways
never wanting to leave our grave.
Yet now we have our own rewards
and paradise lost we grieve.

Prison walls are grayed with greed
mates are those down lower.
But now were all pinned here together
crowned with thorns of power.

For heaven cursed us equals now
equipped to strike our pain.
If I can’t win then we all lose
unless were air born again.

An Iron Clad lock forged with fear
lies become our friends.
At least ,we think,  its over soon
then find there are no ends.

For time stands still for those who suffer
from Inability to speak.
Those gifts which we had once received
now only make us weak.

But there was a key buried long ago
in a place all men but forgot.
I will remind thee only once again
where it is and where its not.
It lies just beyond the furthest reaches
even closer than your skin.
You put it there yourself you know
upon deciding life unkind.
In the last place they could steal from you
the darkest corner of your soul.
Hidden in bones left by the beast
such a long long time EGO.

One more hint if you’re still stuck
on where to find its faceplate.
Concealed in time beyond your fate
the transformation invites an evil place.

By now its buried so deep beneath
the soil of your intentions.
Alas fear not, and don’t lose hope
a path so old none mention.

Just remember it was you alone
decided where to hide it.
Where it could stay indefinitely
unspoiled by the band of pirates.

You,  yes You the only one
another will never know.
Where you entered the cave
when you lost your way.

And the places that you’d go
Succumb to concrete prison walls
made green with all your envy.
Things that all those people have
were stolen in the frenzy.

Ideas and our delusions
are constructed out of horror.
Which may not be our very own
when off the path we falter.

For we see NOT,  without compassion
whats lurking in the dark.
Only to find our own reflection
a mission to embark.
We may some day walk high on heels
we may some day tread deeply.
But no matter where we aim our minds
our souls shall follow discreetly.

We give such trust to this and that
we grip to what we thinketh.
All we’ll ever know is parts
were missing all the linkage.

Without ever a hint of doubt
we need not double-click.
For its necklace we can’t live without
is choked around our neck.

For all the while we live in space
we truly are but one.
Dismay has found an opening
survival has begun.
We try too hard to wash our wants
in anointed oils from heaven above.
We mistake the righteous for the right
then doubt our own direction.
All have but one true desire
that surpasses all retention.
All will gain what’s wanted most
yet never know what best.

HAH!

Theres something spinning in your mind
a plan is in the works.
We’ll probably never come to know
why its built of things that hurt.

Since pain is now the one way left
for us to get caught up.
We self inflict the horror show
which spills out all our cup.
The things we’ve seen so far are worse
than anything we’ve known.
That which you read in comfort now
take heed its warning soon.

I hope this message finds you still
but begs to uncover anything ill.
Each and every person here
desired one foe to kill.

So, to gain everlasting peace
in this life and the next,
is easier than you think my friend
one need not be perplexed.
The answer is inside us all
no instruments can detect
Once you decide you’ll go anywhere
there’s no place you’ll need to quest.

May the answer be the one you need right now
when you find yourself at rest.
— Peace —
JW

A TV Show Theme Song

Music Notes

Here is an original piece of music that I created with a television gameshow or talkshow in mind. I recorded it using the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) Logic Pro X and numerous live and programmed studio instruments including guitar and synthesizer. I used the equipment at Pinetop Recording Studio to quickly create, mix, and lightly master the track.

It is currently online and can be found  on my studio’s Soundcloud account. Below you can hear it by just pressing play.

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Personal Lomography

Pic of Flower Lomography

And then one day, I decided to take a look into a type of photography called Lomography. This method of photo capturing actually uses real film and “toy” camera. Holga cameras are popular for this type of photography.

The camera I am using comes with a flash which uses different colored filters and a variety of kaleidoscopic attachments. Lomography requires that the photographer have a sense of adventure and must be willing to let go of any professional technique to obtain the best outcome for the roll of film. Basically, if you want to get a better image, do everything your told never to do by any professional photographer.

Below is the link in orange to some of the recent photos I have taken with my “toy” camera.

LOMOGRAPHY LINK

 

love poem #9

She lies to you because it draws you in
fights with you and always wins.
Argues when you need to be humbled
without her you’d be in deep trouble.

She tests you when your feeling down
To make sure that you’ll stick around.
She’s the only one who truly knows
What you’ll need to make you grow.

He’s there for you with foolish pride
With all his might, stands by your side.
Even though you don’t know why
His gaze to you lifts you to greater heights.

He loves you although his way is lost.
Never jealous because he knows the cost.
He wants to learn what makes you proud.
He wants you to smile and laugh out loud.

When she decides to change her mind
She does it to build your strength inside.
When she’s out of reach and out of touch
Thats not the time to talk too much.

When he decides to stay out late,
forgets about all times and dates.
Let him learn from his mistakes
Let him fall flat on his face.

If you love each other, thats all it takes.
Be in it for as long as the journey takes.
Carefully tread, don’t judge mistakes.
Because its you who’ll fall another day.

If its written in the stars you’ll be together just as you are
But if its not meant to be, you must let go to be happy.

May you be blessed with happiness in all your entanglements,
May you learn your lessons only once or twice,
May you learn how to love each other,
May you never need to seek another.

Yet another poem of Love…
Check back soon as love is always redefining itself.

So long

finished espresso

So long to yesterday, its merit remains

upon a white cloth a deep purple imprint has stained

So long my lost love, though your memories are fading

Ill cherish them long as I can without hating

So long to old friends, your actions brought lessons

which shape every day uncovering blessings

 

So long dear grandpa, a true legacy you left

your children and grandchildren are fighting their best

So long dear grandma, who was always most helpful

when no one else would scrape out the gravel

So long departed, I regret moving on

but to hold on too tightly only darkens the dawn

 

So long old worries, which now are called hangups

that prevent me from living right here and right now

So long ancient wounds which have chiseled my heart out

from the block it once was to the shape of a peanut

So long my youth, I will miss you the most

For the body Im living in pretends more than boasts

 

So long bad memories, which just misperceive

all of my life, you’ve been the worst thief

So long inner child, it has been good to know you

but the ideas you provided have been based on denial

So long old habits, its time that we part

that once you provided, now crushes my heart

 

So long old wounds, Ive paid more than my dues

I feel we can now part without forgetting my queues

So long old home, that served well to grow up in

but the one I have now, needs all my attention

Goodbye cruel world, Im leaving you now

I heading to wonderland to see about a girl.

River Blu – A Musical duo formed in the Poconos, PA

Barbara Reese & Jeremiah Williams playing guitar and singing at Shankara Restaurant in Bethlehem

A new musical duo has formed in the Pocono Mountains, located in Northeast Pennsylvania, named Blue River. The members of this musical duo are Barbara Reese and Jeremiah Williams. Both musicians play acoustic guitar and sing solo and harmonize.

Barbara Reese, a seasoned singer songwriter, has been performing for audiences for decades. Barbara blends originally written songs with other classic artists of the 60’s, 70’s and today. Barbara’s originals stand firmly on their own as beautiful and poignant, while many of Barbara’s preferred cover songs are written by Joni Mitchell. With this approach, Barbara Reese assembles a fantastic set while delivering powerfully healing lyrics which nourishes anyone’s appetite for a warm acoustic evening. When she decided to add Jeremiah Williams it brought her performance to the next level.

Jeremiah Williams has been playing and writing music for over 25 years. He has studied music both formally and on his own. While in school at Northampton Community College, his professor Erin Mclelland, pushed him to go further into his musical career through learning the proper foundations of music composition as well as the art of guitar playing. Since Erin’s teachings, Jeremiah has been propelled forward into a more modern approach to playing and composing. Jeremiah plays tastefully in the background while supporting Barbara’s delightful singing and open guitar tunings.

These two artists combined form the new duo called Blue River. They have recently become a staple on Friday evenings at a vegan restaurant in south side Bethlehem, called Shankara. The chef, Wendy, has traveled the world searching for recipes for the perfect vegan cuisine. If your in the mood for a nourishing evening through healthy food and beautiful music, stop in to Shanakara on Friday nights from 6 to 9 o’clock.

For more info use this contact form and either Barbara or Jeremiah will give you a call to book your restaurant, venue, club, or private party.

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