Tag: Music

Michael Jackson – 2015 Club Megamix by DJ MichaelAngelo & DJ DigiMark

We’re digging this 2015 video Club Megamix mashup of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits by DJs MichaelAngelo & DigiMark. Modern remixes of all songs included in this mashup give it an updated feel for dance floors everywhere.

The tracklist includes the following MJ hits:

  • PYT
  • Rock With You
  • Smooth Criminal
  • Hollywood Tonight
  • Bad
  • Black or White
  • Wanna Be Starting Something
  • Black or White
  • Somebody’s Watching Me
  • Thriller
  • Butterflies
  • Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough
  • Dancing Machine

DJs can also download the audio mp3 of this incredible Megamix.


Kendra Morris – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

If you know me and either are a friend on Facebook or follow me on the social network, then you’ll know I absolutely love the music of Kendra Morris. I first heard Kendra on NPR while driving home from work one night. Since that time, we’ve become distant buds and I’m following her from afar. Kendra just posted a new music video that was already on YouTube, but Vevo premiered it here. We’ve got the YouTube though (because we hate those nasty Vevo iframes!). Here it is “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), directed by Rudolf Bekker and featuring Godforbid of That Handsome Devil.

If you’re in NYC this weekend, you can catch Kendra with That Handsome Devil performing at Rough Trade in Williamsburg on September 27th at 8 pm. Tickets are $15 and she goes on at 8 pm. Don’t miss it!

YouTube will try to convert music video viewers to subscribers to block ads

YouTube will attempt to monetize it’s service with paid subscriptions by asking users to pay a monthly or yearly fee to block pre-roll advertising before music videos play. Many YouTube music videos have ads that play before the video begins, which users can often times skip after a few seconds by clicking on the Skip Ad overlay that appears at the bottom right of the video window.


ScreenShot of YouTube video window with skip advertisement feature
Ad in video window with Skip Ad feature displayed.

Mashable writes that Google, the company that owns and operates YouTube, generated about $53B last year. Google doesn’t break out revenue for YouTube, but cites a report from The Independent, which quotes anonymous sources estimating the service added only $3.2B in to Google’s bottom line, short of analyst predictions of $5B.

To improve the numbers, Google AdSense and AdWords exec, Susan Wojcicki, took over CEO role at YouTube in February after reports indicated YouTube losing market share to AOL and Facebook, resulting in a drop in ad rates. A subscription music service is one way the company is seeking to add to their bottom line. However, many independent record labels are not happy after receiving an updated agreement reducing compensation in the future. And, in an increasingly crowded content marketplace, new content creators are finding it more difficult to find an audience and generate revenue to support programming.

More companies today are looking to the consumer to pay a subscription fee to turn off ads in content and consumers have gotten used to paying a nominal fee to block ads. However, as more services turn to this type of offering, consumers will be faced with having to decide which services they really need. YouTube is now entering a subscription world, competing with Netflix and cable television for the consumers dollar. It remains to be seen if enough people will pay to block ads on YouTube, when they already have a Spotify subscription, combined with a cable subscription (or at least high speed Internet) at home and Sirius/XM in the car.

Today, consumers are faced with an issue of privacy. Accept the freemium advertising model and agree to be tracked and targeted for ad wherever you go. There are now ad auction exchanges set up to deliver advertising to websites instantaneously as traffic ebbs and flows. Prices rise where there is more traffic and reduce where there is less. This makes Internet advertising more efficient, while at the same time putting pressure on media creators to keep eyeballs on their content. That’s why Internet meme sites like Upworthy, which promote short, viral content scientifically analyzed and optimized to constantly drive eyeballs. Users are also tricked into staying engaged by being forced to to click through page after page of images, so that the site can deliver more page refreshes to deliver more ads. It’s for this reason, it is not a stretch to see why consumers would want to pay YouTube to turn off ads. The question is, can YouTube be trusted to deliver a completely ad free experience?

When we first started paying for Cable TV, cable companies delivered ad-free programming, but soon realized they could both charge consumers for content and display ads at the same time. Given that the quality and amount of content was far more than was available on free television, cable companies got away with this for many years. But now with cable’s monthly costs reaching into the hundreds of dollars and other media competing for our attention and wallets, as well as the Internet supplying high quality content, many cable subscribers are cutting off their TV and paying only for high speed Internet access.

The same has happened at Sirius/XM. While many of the generic, programmed music channels are ad free, we’re starting to see some content creators that license content to the popular satellite radio service insert ads in their programming. Again, consumers have grown accustomed to this, so their is little outrage when it happens. However, as we make our way into a world of asking consumers to subscribe to everything, companies need to be careful about stepping over the line.

As for this blog, we do host advertising and recently turned off ad units being delivered by one of our partners, who now publish video content inside advertising blocks. Those types of ads have become intrusive and are affecting our readers ability to focus on our content, so we’ve turned them off in favor of our general Google AdSense program. That begets the question, do Internet companies really need advertising to survive?

In YouTube’s case, billions of dollars in ad revenue last year is nothing to sneeze at, but can one solely base their entire business on advertising? History has shown that diversification is critical. Finding and testing alternative revenue models is important. The over reliance on advertising without a strategy for expanding revenue in other ways is now proving troublesome for YouTube. Facebook faced this issue for the past two years and quickly found mobile revenue from ads as well as allowing anyone to place a targeted ad or promoted post to get attention to their content in Facebook would be its future. In a closed network like Facebook, controlling the ad revenue stream is different than simply selling ads to brands. They’ve created products around promoting likes and shares, which is advertising like, but also a utility for content creators who want to employ the tools to reach a wider audience. What kinds of tools can YouTube give to content creators to promote content in the YouTube network?

Lastly, it’s important to note reliance on advertising is something that our brightest minds are looking at and trying to solve. In a recent The Atlantic article, “The Internet’s Original Sin,” author and Director of Civic Media at MIT, Ethan Zuckerman, writes:

Advertising became the default business model on the web, “the entire economic foundation of our industry,” because it was the easiest model for a web startup to implement, and the easiest to market to investors. Web startups could contract their revenue growth to an ad network and focus on building an audience. If revenues were insufficient to cover the costs of providing the content or service, it didn’t matter—what mattered was audience growth, as a site with tens of millions of loyal users would surely find a way to generate revenue.

Zuckerman, who was a former employee of Tripod.com, the company that created what we now know as the pop-up ad, which is an ad placed on a pop-up page that appears on top of the content you’re viewing, says that there are two kinds of ads: expensive and cheap. The expensive ad is the one that pops up in Google when you’re ready to buy something. It’s a lead generator, which is why companies will pay top dollar to get your attention.

The cheap ad is the ad that competes for your attention with the content the user is interacting with. Those ads are obviously going to pay less to the content publisher, because interest to action is low. Therefore, web publishers must look for other ways to monetize their digital business, because we’ve gotten to a point where so much freemium content is available, advertising prices are dropping considerably and these companies will not be able to survive on ad revenue alone.

Needless to say, YouTube have their work cut out for them. We’ll be watching to see how this new ad free model plays out and how consumers adjust to companies asking them to open their wallets, instead of agreeing to view content in exchange for their eyeballs.





New Imogen Heap album – Sparks

Imogen Heap is one of our all-time favorite modern electronic music artists. We absolutely love how she blends her unique singer/songwriter vocals with the melodic patterns of downtempo electronic music (sometimes called folktronica) by incorporating beats and synths underneath her gorgeous piano patterns and bright, sweet and breathy vocals.

Imogen traveled the world recording this new album and says that there are 14 videos for all 14 songs on the album. We can’t wait to follow along and post them one at a time as they are released.

Her new album, Sparks, is now on pre-order from iTunes. You can preview it here on NPR.

Check out the album preview on YouTube.

Or, listen to the interview with Imogen Heap, “Painting Her Songs In the Air, Imogen Heap Keeps Innovating” on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Pre-order by clicking on this button: [itunes link=”https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sparks-deluxe-version/id899603432?uo=4″ title=”Imogen Heap “Sparks” (Delux Edition)”]

Beauty vlogger Michelle Phan sued by Ultra Records for copyright infringement

With a subscriber base of over 6.6M on her YouTube channel, YouTube Beauty vlogger, Michelle Phan, is one of the most popular social media stars in the YouTube universe. Two of her most popular how-to videos, a “Barbie Transformation Video” and Lady Ga-Ga video have been viewed a combined total of just under 100M times. Her videos generally make use of popular EDM songs from a variety of artists and that has resulted in a lawsuit by Sony Music controlled EDM labels, Ultra Records and its associated publishing company, Ultra Music International. Filed in Los Angeles District Court, Ultra suit (Ultra International Music Publishing LLC and Ultra Records LLC v. Michelle Phan, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 14-05533) claims Ms. Phan does not have the right to use Ultra Records artists music. They are suing Ms. Phan for $150,000 per infringement plus yet to be determined damages and an injunction against the use of Ultra Record’s artist’s music in her videos. In the past, Phan has used music from the label’s roster of artists, including popular EDM DJ/Producer, Kaskade. One video, “Nightlife Favorites” (1,487,180 views as of 7/20/14) features Kaskade’s 4AM.

Kaskade – 4AM

Another, “The Golden Hour” (2,492,777 views as of 7/20/14) features Kaskade and Project 46 “Last Chance.

Kaskade & Project 46 – Last Chance

Here are both videos from Michelle Phan including these songs, which are both listed in the credits under each video on their respective YouTube pages.

Michelle Phan – Nightlife Favorites

Michelle Phan – The Golden Hour

While Kaskade was severing his relationship with Ultra Records, choosing to not renew his agreement after 8-years on the label, Sony Music went on an EDM acquisition mission, acquiring, one of the the longest running independent EDM labels in the world. Ultra’s back catalog, including almost all of Kaskade’s releases on the label, now belongs to Sony Music. In a recent blog post about his frustrations with SoundCloud, the popular music sharing service known as the “YouTube of audio,” taking down both music he has a right to post and mixes and mashups deemed infringing, Kaskade said this:

“When I signed with Ultra, I kissed goodbye forever the rights to own my music. They own it. And now Sony owns them. So now Sony owns my music. I knew that going in.”

While labels like Ultra and Sony continue to control copyright in the digital age, Kaskade has recently been advocating for making music free. He’s taken an alternative position on how music should be distributed in the digital age.

Of course, with hundreds of millions of spins and the profit from YouTube including the above-mentioned songs at stake, there’s not much Kaskade can do about advocating for Ms. Phan, other than supporting her through Twitter.


Now, let’s focus on the reality of this situation. On one hand, you have a famous YouTube star with hundreds of millions of views on her video channel. Label video promotion consultants and the departments that hire them certainly ask for placement of these songs in popular online videos to get exposure. No matter whether the fan uses the music in videos or not, Ultra and its parent can claim payment from YouTube and performing rights organizations for those spins. YouTube has the technology to identify songs played in videos and therefore could effectively let Sony/Ultra know what music was used in which videos and how many times each video was viewed. And, we’re going to assume that YouTube has a license from Sony Music – one of the three majors – to play their music on-demand, therefore YouTube might be able to argue that it has the rights to play the music, which is why we aren’t seeing those videos being issued a takedown – just yet. But, that could change in the next couple of days.

Removing those videos would certainly be a blow to anyone hoping to derive revenue from them, so once they come down they don’t earn a penny for Ms. Phan or the labels with music being used in them. According to Ultra, the only thing Michelle Phan didn’t do was obtain a “synchronization license” from the music publisher – in this case, Ultra International Music Publishing – for the right to use the music in her instructional make-up videos. Here’s a helpful description from the ASCAP blog on sync licensing, which is why Sony/Ultra believes Ms. Phan’s videos infringe on their copyright. And, while this example if for television, it certainly applies to on-demand Internet streams from companies like YouTube as well. Todd Brabec, ASCAP Executive VP of Membership and Jeff Brabec write:

“When a producer wants to use an existing song in a network television program or weekly series, permission must, with few exceptions, be secured from the music publisher who owns the song. The producer or music supervisor of the show will decide what song they want to use in the program and the scene in which it will appear, how the song will be used (e.g., background vocal or instrumental, sung by a character on camera, over the opening or ending credits), and the media needed (e.g., free television, pay television, subscription television, pay-per-view, or basic cable).

The producer or its “music clearance” representative will then contact the publisher of the composition, negotiate a fee, and then sign what is known in the television business as a “synchronization license.””

If Michelle Phan and her video producers did not obtain a sync license but have proof that Ultra Records approached them to use their label’s artist’s music in her videos, then Sony Music and the Ultra label and publishing divisions won’t have much of a case. This is where major label interests generally conflict with the interests of independent labels and lesser-known artists who see the value in the exposure generated by being featured in a video series as popular as Ms. Phan’s. On the other hand, if Ms. Phan and her handlers ignored sync licensing rules, then she and her production company could be found liable by the court. Our money is on someone from the label giving them the music for exposure, but what do we know…heh heh!

What this amounts to is major labels continuing to assert control over their catalogs to find revenue where it may lie. With download sales declining and streaming on the rise, major labels look at licensing as contributing to their bottom line. While it’s fair to ask for compensation for music used in these YouTube videos, if its proven that the video consultants gave the music videos to Ms. Phan’s production company for promotional use and they signed waivers in that regard, Sony Music will have a difficult time proving copyright infringement.

Notice that Ultra never filed suit until after it was acquired by Sony. Remember, Ultra’s General Manager, David Waxman (who is a friend of Netmix) is also a DJ and producer. When they were independent, I don’t think Mr. Waxman would have advocated for this lawsuit, because if indies like Ultra started suing music services that give them exposure, they could risk harming those relationships over the long term. There’s not a lot of leverage.

In the indie EDM world, it’s probably not the best form to start suing others who are promoting your music. Once word gets out, you risk losing opportunities to sign high profile artists who may disagree with that position or get your music featured, because no one wants to take the risk of being sued.

We don’t exactly know, but it’s surely something to think about. And, that’s why Kaskade’s view on the music industry is so telling. We’ll leave you with an excerpt from the same blog post referenced earlier in this post.

There’s always been this cagey group of old men who are scared to death of people taking their money. Back in the day, they were upset that the technology existed to record onto cassette tapes directly from the radio. “What! (Harumph!) Why will people buy music if they can just pull it out of the air?!” Yet, people still bought music. Because it was more accessible. Because more people were exposed. Because Mikey played it for Joey on the corner and then Joey had to have it. It’s music, and we buy what we love. We can’t love music we haven’t heard.

Innovation helps the music industry. The industry only needs to make the effort to keep up and adapt. Make no mistake: exposing as many people as possible to music – all music – is a good thing. Everyone wins. The artist, the audience, even the old guys who just want some more cash.

The laws that are governing online music share sites were written at a time when our online and real-life landscapes were totally different. Our marching orders are coming from a place that’s completely out of touch and irrelevant. They have these legal legs to stand on that empower them to make life kind of a pain-in-the-ass for people like me. And for many of you. Countless artists have launched their careers though mash ups, bootlegs, remixes and music sharing. These laws and page take-downs are cutting us down at the knees.

And yo, musicians definitely need knees.

We referenced these stories in this post: