30 million listeners can’t be wrong!

“Group Therapy describes the relationship between us, our music and our audience and the magic that happens when they interact. Our radio show is our biggest weekly interaction with our fans…. It is global Group Therapy.”

above-beyond-group-therapy

With a weekly audience of 30 million listeners worldwide via its 156 FM and satellite partners, Above & Beyond’s radio show Trance Around The World (#tatw) was renamed Group Therapy from Saturday 10 November – a sign of the unstoppable momentum of the Group Therapy phenomenon.

So now it will be #abgt rather than #tatw – #TATW = #ABGT

And we are happy to report the first 4 sets of #ABGT continue the extraordinary quality of the previous #TATW “handbag”, proving that freemium is an awesome way for musicians and producers to connect and succeed in the connected, networked, social media generation.

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Disastrous start for VEVO – only 35 million visits

The new premium music video and entertainment service created in partnership by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Abu Dhabi Media Company is already in trouble. VEVO managed just 35 million visits in December, a remarkably low number given the hype and marketing muscle of the corporates behind it.

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This is – or should be – a huge reality check for the music industry. The closing of Tower Records reflected the end of the old-school analog days, and the demise of imeem underlined the folly of trying to use old-style business practices online. Even with VEVO being run on the YouTube platform and picking up a large potential audience, the figures are dismal.

VEVO logoThe “Most Popular” music videos on VEVO also showed the problems of the service:  Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Drake, Lady Gaga, Jay Sean, Shakira, Britney Spears and Taylor Swift. Those artists will be popular anywhere BUT the problem is the inclusion on VEVO will just steal listeners/viewers away from other platforms.

Claiming “Music Evolution Revolution!” is just not backed up by the figures. The real Evolution and Revolution in music is happening elsewhere. For example, podcasts by trance DJs Above & Beyond already have 21 million listeners/viewers each week. In other words the immediate future of digital music is still iTunes and iPod, much to the concern of the majors.

Will VEVO bring us anything new? No. It is just a continuation of the old-school music cartels trying to channel our music appreciation – and it won’t work any more. Therefore we won’t spend new money via their platform. The real evolution of music marketing online will continue elsewhere – platforms like Pandora, Last.FM, MySpace and WordPress.

Podcasts Define Web 2.0 Music – billions of downloads each year

The figures are in and the results are inspiring. Old media, large (Murdoch) and small (regional newspapers), are moaning that the web is ruining their business. Radio stations, meanwhile, blow large trumpets about 1% gains in audience share.

Wizard Media podcast digital downloadsThe reality is that the public have been given real choices by Web 2.0 and are moving on from old media. Two quick examples:

  • Wizard Media announce digital downloads increase in one quarter from 241m to 350m
  • Trance Around The World podcast has 21 million listeners per week

Wizard were very happy with a 45% increase in downloads but also announced a very solid 41% increase in audience (5.3 million). Meanwhile, advertising impressions served by Wizard grew from 3.9 million in the second quarter of 2008 to 13.7 million in the second quarter of 2009, an increase of 251%.

Trance Around The World is the podcast from Above & Beyond, a weekly mix available through iTunes or from their own website. Their podcast sits alongside others by Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Paul van Dyk, Paul Okenfold and hundreds other national and international trance stars.

Therefore TATW is successful in a very competitive market, while 21 million listeners would be an extraordinary achievement for most radio stations. TATW is enabled by the most significant brand of the decade – Apple. Lest you object, look at a few examples of the activity around Steve Jobs:

  • Apple iPod podcast digital downloadsApple is 45 times more profitable than Dell
  • iTunes sells more music than Walmart
  • iPhone and iPod features and quality have revolutionised mobile technology
  • Pixar is the most succesful and profitable studio of the past decade
  • Apple is 6 times more popular as a social brand than Microsoft

While Web 2.0 provided a wonderful potential, it is companies like Apple and YouTube who have defined and raised the standards so much higher than anyone else. And the biggest winners are the public – the music listeners and video viewers – who can choose exactly what they wish to download or stream. Further, the public can now enjoy what they want without the interference of the taste bias or old-media commercial ‘necessities’ of a production or advertising team.

Top 10 Music of the Decade

There are plenty of Top 10 lists of pop or metal or trance or other styles of music. Yet the Noughties is the decade of most change in the history of music. There are plenty of other milestones throughout the course of music history but there is one enormous difference in the decade just gone.

Our top 10 list therefore is not an attempt to compare classical music milestones versus hip hop, or to say that Britney Spears has been the most influential musician on the planet (although planet-wide searches would seem to suggest just that as Britney topped search engine lists from many countries in various years throughout the decade).  However, “planet-wide” is a clue to our focus:

For the first time ever it has been possible for a significant event in music to be available to virtually every country on the planet. This means every fan now has the chance to be connected to musicians to whatever degree they like.

The importance of this fact is revealed in the way Google search top 10 lists will now include manga from Japan alongside a Spanish social network platform. Goodbye president of the United States or British royalty.

Web 2.0 imageNo longer can the traditional newspapers and magazines determine our topics of conversation, nor how wide or deep we follow our interests. Therefore our Top 10 Music of the Decade is as much about context (aka access) as about content.

1. Web 2.0
Without the astonishing array of software and platforms now available, most of the list below would not exist.

Apple iTunes image2. iTunes and Podcasts
Apple not only destroyed the music distribution cartels and marketing-led charts, it provided an enormous doorway into niche interests that had previously been in back corners of just a few music retailers. With anywhere up to 80% market share of digital downloads, depending on country, no-one comes close to Apple in modern music distribution.

But as well as obscure blues or folk or world music, Podcasts enabled millions of fans to access millions of ‘broadcasters’ from ABC or the BBC through to Stephen Fry or “How Stuff Works”. Never before has such a range of high-quality music and special-interest broadcasts been available from one platform and at zero or minimal cost.

Apple iPod image3. iPod
Sony was a great pioneer of portable music with the Walkman but the sheer simplicity and elegance of the iPod, coupled with Dolby quality sound and access-anywhere distribution, lifted the device head and shoulders above the competition.

Last.FM image4. Last.FM
While most other music-streaming services encountered problems (Pandora blocked outside the USA, imeem shut down, Spotify’s failures), Last.FM has stayed at the forefront with a hard-to-beat mix of excellent music, startlingly accurate analysis of music styles and recommendations, plus great social-network features.

YouTube Profile image5. YouTube
With millions of views on millions of video clips every day, plus a huge percentage of those views being of music-related clips, YouTube has overtaken and greatly extended the place previously occupied by MTV.

MySpace Music image6. MySpace
Although no longer the main source for unsigned music and fan information, MySpace is still one of the important channels.

Twitter on iPhone image7. Twitter
There have been a number of social and political scoops via Twitter but for music the Rage Against The Machine campaign (#RATM and #ratm4xmas) resulted in the first singles chart No.1 ever that was exclusively due to digital downloads. Although the concept was announced via Facebook, the Twitter campaign made RATM a trending topic, helping encourage over 500,000 people to download the song Killing In The Name. The RATM campaign was able to outsell 19 million X Factor fans.

Sony Ericsson W850 Walkman image8. Mobile Phone
The iPhone astounded and outsold most individual models of the entrenched and complacent mobile phone companies, as well as delivering one great benefit – most mobiles are now very capable portable music devices. What Apple, iTunes, iPod and the iPhone created has been adopted by every major mobile technology company. Users have Apple to thank for that particular music revolution.

Peer-to-Peer image9. Peer-to-Peer
Although the fundamental question of whether an owner of a song or movie should be allowed to share it with friends is still being debated, the online sharing and download technologies were advanced enormously during the development of peer-to-peer. It is likely that most P2P will be replaced by streaming platforms in the near future, but no review of the Noughties is complete without a Top 10 rank for peer-to-peer.

Wikipedia Ying Yang image10. Blogs and Wikipedia
There are a few print magazines that cover specific genres of music but keen fans now use blogs and other online sources for information, everything from detailed histories and biographies on Wikipedia through to instant updates via Twitter.