(Credit: Heshan Perera/Unsplash)
Rumors of Facebook‘s upcoming Terms of Service update noting the right to delete users and pages that “create music listening experiences” from the platform have turned out to be untrue.
According to a conversation between DJcity and a Facebook representative, the following is noted:
“People are likely mistaking the updates we’re making to our Facebook Terms of Service. Our music guidelines have been in place since we launched music on our platforms in 2018. They were written to balance our commitment to supporting musical expression on our platforms with also ensuring we uphold our agreements with rights holders, which remains unchanged.”
As the global quarantine enters its sixth month, DJs are navigating the decisions made by broadcasting platforms as they learn how to adapt to live streaming. Ultimately, it appears that by the end of 2020, there will be more answers than questions regarding how DJs can sustainably showcase their talents and earn a living wage in an online environment.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitch are becoming far more artist-friendly and much less DJ-equipped. Conversely, platforms like Mixcloud and YouTube are moving towards sustainability as online broadcast platforms.
Recently, Instagram-borne Verzuz announced partnerships with Apple Music and Diageo, Ciroc Vodka’s parent brand. Also, Twitch announced a two-day live stream partnership with Rolling Loud, a global, multi-city hip-hop festival, on September 12 and 13. Partnering with DJs requires negotiating rights fees and payment structures with BMI and ASCAP, while partnering with brands and festivals is an entirely different concept.
Facebook adds, “Shorter clips of music featuring a visual component are recommended [for use as Facebook live content]. As well, the greater the number of full-length recorded tracks in a video, the more likely it may be limited by the platform.”
Brands and events require platforms to aid in marketing products and ultimately turning profits from paid attendees. There is also a direct return on investment (ROI) for an outlet in working with a third-party. Hosting rights fees and platforms using an event’s popularity to increase their visibility amid numerous apps and sites battling for user bandwidth are vital drivers. Unless a DJ is a household name, the ROI likely isn’t there to make the opportunity worthwhile.
Other “traditional” streaming powers have emerged during the pandemic, too. Mixcloud was an early adapter in allowing DJs to stream mixes by negotiating with rights-holders and copyright organizations. Through their recent Mixcloud Live feature, rights-enabled DJ sets are possible with a Mixcloud Pro subscription.
Youtube averages two billion users per month and averages four times the daily traffic that Twitch does. Thus, Youtube has earned the revenue to be able to develop a content ID system that allows for rights-owners to stake their claim and share ad revenue on the uploaded/streamed mix.
Regardless of Facebook’s options, numerous streaming ideas and options deserve a closer look. First off, on the back of increased engagement from numerous users including the DJ community, Twitch stands to potentially increase its user base by 166% in the next year. For as much as live DJ sets are technically prohibited in their terms of service, there is the possibility, if mixing quickly (under 90 seconds) between tracks, to emerge unscathed due to the platform’s popularity and monetization opportunities, alone.
Instagram’s Badges program deserves consideration, too. Announced in June, the concept allows for Instagram Live viewers to send monetary tips to creators during live streams. Also, Instagram airs ads that play at the start of each user’s active engagement. The revenue from Instagram’s ads are paid at 55% to the creator and 45% to Instagram.
Soon after America’s national quarantine began, D-Nice played an Instagram Live DJ set for 150,000+ simultaneous viewers. About half a year later, Brandy and Monica‘s Verzuz battle was viewed by 700 percent more people. In the case of Brandy and Monica’s event, the combined net worth of the brands and sponsorships involved total $1.4 trillion. The support of live streaming from such major corporate players speaks to the power and potential it has.
Somewhere in between these massive successes, there exists a world of working DJs trying to figure out how to live stream sets for either fun or as a source of income. Thankfully, it appears that an industry is forming around live music streaming. Ideally, that industry’s success quickly trickles to the place where rights holders and platforms can discuss equitable ways to allow for DJs to spin music without fear of punishment.
DMX and Snoop Dogg’s Verzuz battle. (Source: Complex)
Verzuz has evolved from a fun way to listen to hit songs on Instagram Live during quarantine into “a cultural institution [reviving and sparking] new interest in hip-hop and R&B’s legacy songs and artists.” This quote is pulled from the latest edition of Billboard Magazine, which features the Swizz Beatz and Timbaland co-created concept as its cover story. However, most powerful to consider regarding Verzuz’s future is the impact of the event-related popularity surge known as the “Verzuz Effect.”
Verzuz’s explosive potential is transforming key areas of the music industry. April 20’s Teddy Riley vs. Babyface battle resulted in a 115% increase in on-demand streams for both artists combined. Babyface also saw both his Instagram followers jumped from 300,000 to 1 million, plus an increase in sample clearance requests.
Recently, the impact has moved past Instagram and solely streaming music platforms. For new Verzuz partner Apple Music, Verzuz’s placement there has resulted in a reported over half a million concurrent views for each battle, the most-watched of any livestreams held on the platform.
Also, since Memorial Day, Diageo — Ciroc vodka‘s parent company — has signed on as a multimillion-dollar sponsor. Moreover, as also revealed in Billboard, if artists endorse, Apple Music, Diageo’s liquor brands, or any of the other forthcoming potential sponsors, Verzuz will offer artists payment for their battle time.
Already, Verzuz has — via Apple and Diageo — brands worth a Forbes-estimated $1.4 trillion already on board. What has developed during a global pandemic and one of the most shocking eras in the history of modern music is clearly impressive.
Latin and African pop-specific Verzuz battles are reportedly also on the horizon. Key to note here is Apple Music’s recent desire to engage in expansion in the African marketplace. As well, “Latin Music Is Growing Faster Than Overall U.S. Music Market” reads an April Rolling Stone headline. Attaching Verzuz to that growth could have gigantic possibilities, especially for that culture’s classic reggaeton, bachata, and salsa superstars.
“People need to be educated and celebrated. That’s why we say we’ve got a long runway with this thing,” Swizz Beatz notes. Creatives playing music hits over poor Instagram Live connections in the name of avoiding boredom has blossomed into a trillion-plus dollar industry. The “Verzuz Effect” has, and will continue to yield radical, industry-shifting consequences.
Verzuz co-founders Timbaland and Swizz Beatz. (Source: Getty Images)
Verzuz, the quarantine-borne Instagram Live streaming producer and artist competition series started by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, will now be available on Apple Music and Beats 1. The forthcoming July 22, 8 PM EST “Battle of the Dogs” between Snoop Dogg and DMX will be the first official Verzuz battle broadcast via the partnership. Previously, Apple Music and Beats 1 live-streamed a dueling piano Juneteenth episode of Verzuz, featuring Alicia Keys and John Legend.
The move is likely aimed at creating greater structure and longevity for the series. Past battles have featured significant technical difficulties, as well as connection issues posed by solely using Instagram Live. As well, the ability to maintain the series as an episodic-style catalog has not been possible. As quarantine moves into its fourth month with no definitive end in sight, Verzuz gaining sustainability as a breakout music industry leader for compelling content feels necessary. Concerns about paying artists and developing live music options are an industry concern. Ideas like simulcasting Verzuz, for free, via Instagram Live, but making it available via paywalled, subscription-only services like Apple Music and Beats 1 begin to solve this issue.
Peak musical content engagement goals during quarantine spiked 400 percent in the 50 days between D-Nice‘s 150,000 peak viewer March 21 DJ stream to Jill Scott and Erykah Badu‘s 750,000+ peak viewer May 9 Verzuz battle. However, top producers like Pharrell Williams and musical acts with Verzuz-ready catalogs like Jay-Z and Beyoncé have yet to be tabbed to “compete.” It is entirely likely that their involvement could potentially raise those numbers well over one million-plus peak viewers. If this were to occur, having multiple live arms for engagement, as well as the ability to both monetize and archive Verzuz, would be valuable.
For more Verzuz information, visit them via Instagram.
DJ Mel. (Credit: Daniel Boczarski)
As of June 2020, Instagram will begin financially rewarding content creators who use Instagram Live. Through both the rollout of short advertisements and the new “badges” program, creatives will be rewarded for live fan engagement. Instagram’s updates were announced on their website on May 27 .
Created in part due to an increase in Instagram Live usage at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program, similar to incentivization programs used by online broadcaster Twitch, ultimately allows for creatives to earn revenue via their fanbase “tipping” during creators’ live videos. Also, the platform will utilize advertisements that play at the start of each user’s active engagement. The revenue from these ads will be paid at 55% to the creator, and 45% to Instagram.
Recently, DJs broadcasting live on Instagram had their sets flagged for copyright violations. As of May 28, DJs have been advised to play 90-second clips of music. Furthermore, they have reminded users that “people also have access to a library of custom music and sound effects at no cost using [parent company] Facebook’s Sound Collection.”
Instagram’s badge program will begin testing next month with a small group of creators and businesses. Over the coming months, it will expand across the US, Brazil, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Spain, and Mexico. The badge icons can be purchased by fans during live performances and appear next to that fan’s name in the chat. Instagram has asked content creators wanting to be considered for badge access to fill out a short application form.
Stay tuned for more updates on live streaming as the practice continues to show promise within the DJ community.
Related Post: D-Nice’s Instagram Live Set Goes Viral
Lil Jon and T-Pain. (Source: Instagram)
Amid the pandemic, the music industry has begun to accept live streaming as a new industry norm. Adapting to platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitch as the points of most powerful engagement is unique, and may not last. But for now, these are the leading spaces developing hits.
Recently, digital marketing agency Gupta Media hosted The New Normal, a Zoom panel featuring RCA Records’ Executive Vice President of A&R (and Keep Cool co-founder) Tunji Balogun, Friends At Work founder and CEO Ty Stiklorius, entertainment lawyer Doug Davis, and moderator Bill Werde, the director of Syracuse University’s Bandier undergraduate music industry program.
“We are trying to monetize these things on the fly and not wait for touring to come back,” Doug Davis said. “‘Sit and wait’ is not a good business model for what we do.” Davis has put this theory into practice. In under seven days, he, alongside Balogun, engineered the official release of Usher, Lil Jon, and Ludacris collaboration “SexBeat.” The track was “premiered” during T-Pain and Lil Jon’s Verzuz producer battle on Instagram Live on April 4. By April 10, the track was officially released as a single.
“We have this group chat, where a lot of the A&R team talk about what’s going on, and we were all watching the battle, and as soon as that song started to get previewed, everyone was like, ‘This needs to drop immediately,'” Balogun said. Doug Davis continued, “The beat battle was Saturday, we were doing the record deal on Monday and Tuesday. We had done a three-way record deal, Usher, Ludacris, Lil Jon by Wednesday to get the record out on Spotify by Friday. That’s how fast we are moving and seizing an opportunity. Tunji’s label was unbelievable in how they seized it. That’s how fast it is happening. We are trying to monetize these things on the fly and not wait for touring to come back.”
As for expanding the reach of a hit, look no further than songs like Megan Thee Stallion‘s “Savage” and Drake‘s “Toosie Slide” and their growth via the platform TikTok. Users of TikTok, an app on which two billion people are spending 14 hours a month watching short videos, are isolated in their home recording videos of themselves dancing to hit songs. “Toosie Slide” is particularly well-suited for the platform, as it includes brief dance instructions repeated in the hook. Regarding how TikTok has grown during the COVID-19 era, The Hollywood Reporter notes that the app has “become the great equalizer, collapsing the distance between a ‘capital s star’” and non-star content creators.
Finding ways to monetize this sudden change in content creation is essential. “Tech companies, Instagram Live, are going to get smarter about how to empower artists in those spaces, how to make it worth our while so that we are not just having 300,000 people tune in and not have any access to data around that or access to income from that,” says Stiklorius. “That is going to keep evolving in a way that is long-lasting and will create new revenue streams for artists.”
Twitch’s established growth in the gaming industry as a monetizable platform has intrigued music industry executives during this era. According to Balogun, “The people at Twitch, which is a monetizable platform, unlike Instagram, are working with a lot of different artists and tapping into that technology and looking forward to finding new ways for artists to make money in that space.”
“You are going to see the live stream world continue to grow,” Balogun continues. “It wasn’t really a legitimate form of entertainment until this happened.” Stiklorius agrees, noting, “I can’t imagine that DJs and artists aren’t going to continue doing [live streams].” Moreover, she imagines that “much-reduced” ticket prices will spur the continuation of streaming as a solution.
Social media’s adaptations in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak has led to what The Hollywood Reporter refers to as “a community riffing off each other and inspired by developing amazing creativity.” The music industry appears to be adapting for the speed at which hit songs are being created and spread.
Related Post: Notable DJs Share Plans for Dealing With Coronavirus
In this week’s episode of the MikiDz Podcast, MikiWAR, DJ Dainjazone, and DJ Rell start asking some deep questions. The crew wonders if the Instagram live streaming boom will affect DJs’ rates when clubs reopen, if the role of booking agencies will change, and most importantly, what would they would do in these uncertain times if they didn’t have morals? Dainjazone knows exactly what he would do.
The MikiDz Podcast is a talk-show that discusses news and topics in the DJ and nightlife industries. It is hosted by MikiWAR, DJ Dainjazone, and DJ Rell. The MikiDz Show, which is also hosted by Miki and Dainjazone, features live performances from the world’s most-skilled DJs.
Related Post: ‘MikiDZ Podcast’: DJ Bingo
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