Content Wars

What does it take to become the number one media platform?

Yesterday, Spotify announced they would start carrying video content putting the streaming service on par with others like Amazon Prime, TIDAL, and iTunes. In addition to music, Spotify will now carry podcasts, tempo driven playlists, and video from providers such as, BBC, MTV, Vice News, and more.

Every major platform is battling to capture users and the time they spend connected because in today's market, this is determines value. Spotify is valued at around $8 billion and to keep the value growing, they need more users. In order to bring more users to a platform, you need content and exclusive content to be even more alluring. To get exclusive content, you need to purchase said content because record labels (and cable providers) have no loyalty except to money. If all the platforms are paying the content creators around the same amount, the only reason to pick a specific platform is if you're getting paid more to be exclusive. While Apple has yet to release a streaming platform, rumor has it that Apple has been scooping up exclusive artists like Taylor Swift for millions. Apple was even trying to undercut other streaming services in price but was supposedly forced by record labels to maintain a $9.99/month price.

So the more popular artists can be bought, the more involved artists create their own platform (TIDAL), but what about the starving artists in their bedroom? What happens to those artists that keep pushing forward instead of standing still? One of the first to support the independent artist, Soundcloud, is now facing many enemies as it looks towards monetization. Sony has already pulled music from Soundcloud which is making some of its artists unhappy.

For those creative enough to shape the next genre of music, the next 'Game of Thrones' or the next 'Serial', a new platform is needed which doesn't require monetization because fans will be willing enough to support these creations.

The Rising Tides of Digital Music Streaming

Is TIDAL really about the music?

Jay-Z said TIDAL aims to "strike an honest blow (at the music industry) and... make people wake up" about music and how it is paid for. The problem with the announcement was Jay-Z chose 16 very successful artists to launch the new platform. These artists also have something else in common; they all own the masters to the majority of their records. This means that when Beyoncé puts out a new album she can decide she only wants it on TIDAL, and she can decide to pull her old albums off of rival streaming platforms as Jay-Z did - pulling "Reasonable Doubt" off of Spotify. This freedom is something that most major labels control, something artists are expected to give up in order to have their music distributed. This is odd when we live in a world where global distribution can be achieved in a matter of minutes.

Supporting the independent artists

Independents have their own individual reasons for not signing to a label and in many cases it can hurt the discovery of their music. Many streaming platforms require 3rd-party distributor to upload rather than tracks coming directly from the artist. This further complicates the process and almost forces artists towards the label path. Soundcloud was hailed for eliminating this procedure but the service couldn't stay free forever - Soundcloud is expected to release a premium version next year. TIDAL has introduced two new ways for independent success, TIDAL Rising, which showcases indies near the top of the app and TIDAL Discovery which allows artists to publish directly to TIDAL. Are these two new additions enough to show the world TIDAL really is about the music? UPDATE: Artists that publish music on TIDAL retain 100% rights to their music.

It is still a numbers game

While TIDAL might be better for artists, they still only have around ~~17,000 subscribers~~ (UPDATE: Jay-Z claims 770k), compared to Spotify's 45m free - 15m paid users and Pandora's 82m+ active users. TIDAL does pay more than it's competitors average of 55 percent for indie labels and 60 percent for major labels, paying out ~~62.5 percent~~ UPDATE: 75% to any label. TIDAL does offer 'more' to artists than competitors because it doesn't have a free listening tier, but with a lower amount of subscribers, that might mean less money overall. But looking at their equity values, TIDAL seems very very small Apple $760 billion. Spotify $8 billion. Tidal $60 million

The Apple still has to fall

It would be crazy to declare a streaming winner without discussing Apple's plans for music streaming, specifically with its $3bn purchase of Beats in 2014. Apple is not expected to have a free tier and due to pressure from major labels, it seems the entry price will be $9.99 (compared to the suspected $7.99) for individuals and $14.99 for families. Exclusive content is a huge driver for subscribers and rumor has it that Apple has been in a bidding war with TIDAL for artists and content. Apple/ Beats does have a few tricks up its sleeve, specifically the 800m credit cards on file and the ability to install Beats on every single iPhone. This could quickly shift the game into Apple's court. TIDAL has quickly fallen out of the top 700 on the App Store, which has Jay-Z resorting to personal phone calls to members. Showing us that maybe Jay does care about the music and his fans after all.

After a recent Tweetstorm by Mr. Shawn Carter, it seems that TIDAL is about the music and not about the money. Like most things, time will tell.

Q&A with Jay-Z

Using Else:

Most people are aware that if statements work with else. What many people are unaware of is that else also works with for and while. When using it with for and while it is probably wise to consider it a "nobreak" statement.

for n in range(2, 10):
... for x in range(2, n):
...... if n % x == 0:
......... print (n, 'equals', x, '*', n/x)
......... break
else:
... # loop fell through without finding a factor
... print (n, 'is a prime number')

This code will return the else statement if the loop runs 'normally'. If n returns a remainder it will break the loop and the 'else' clause will not be run.

Although we can use Else with all types of loops, it is probably best practice to leave it to If/Else. Using else in a FOR loop can ruin the readability of the code as someone who is not versed in this use case may find it illogical. It is also easy to accidently indent the else clause which in the above case would run an infinite loop.

also, import Antigravity

What's Next

Almost 4 months ago, I was let go from SFX Entertainment.

What started as a seemingly normal day ended in a meeting with a totally unexpected outcome. Hearing the words, “it’s nothing personal, due to restructuring, we’re going to have to let you go” could not have been a more personal statement. Why me? What did I (or didn’t) I do that was so different than anyone else? I had heard rumors that salary cap had to be made free so Beatport could hire developers, but it didn’t cross my mind that it would start with me. But just like that, I was escorted (yes, just like the movies) from the office and cast back into the real world.

I had spent almost two years working for ID&T and SFX, as an intern and a full-time employee and just like that it was all over. I sat on the corner of 53rd wondering what’s next, and not wanting to go home. After all I had been the first of my friends to be employed, landing what everyone described as a ‘dream job’. I couldn’t bear to face my roommates and tell them I was unemployed. I just kept asking myself, “What’s next?”

As the weeks passed, I started to become less self-conscious of being unemployed but I still wasn’t happy. No one was unsupportive, everyone knew I would find something else but they still kept asking the question, “What’s next”? But the hardest part of that question was I didn’t even know what I was doing for my next meal. What was going to be my next career move? Yeah, okay…

I still get sad from time to time, resentful, or even a little angry but what I know I should feel is lucky. I realize how incredible of an opportunity I was given and thank those who helped me get there. I am lucky that I was able to work in such an exciting industry with a group of incredible people. It was a hell of a first job and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity, even if it didn’t work out. I am still proud of what I accomplished and at this point, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

As for what’s next? I will be spending the next 10 weeks at Byte Academy, a financial programming bootcamp. It's going to be a hard and exciting journey.

But come June, I’m really excited to hear what I do next.