With the hype surrounding last night’s unveiling of the Samsung flagship S4, the UNPACKED event at New York’s Radio City Music Hall had been long-anticipated for us here at 7digital. Not least for the sensational ergonomics that J. K Shin, the president and head of IT & mobile communications division, flaunted on stage – with new features including a touchless ‘Smart Scroll / Pause’ feature, the ‘S Translator’, ‘S Health’ and 13-megapixel, 360-degree camera - but mainly for the fact that this new device in the Galaxy range has our technology powering the Samsung Music Hub app.
Last week we unveiled the expansion of our digital music services into new international territories in South Africa, Asia and South America, news that cemented an auspicious start to the year and marked a true milestone…
The expansion of our platform to include new worldwide destinations is a natural step for us in extending an ever-widening global reach for our open digital content. We have acquired digital music licensing agreements with major and numerous independent labels in India, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and South Africa, meaning a total footprint of 42 countries for our platform. Most people in the industry are aware that international music licensing is no light task. Before we reach for our champagne glasses it is important to take a minute to acknowledge that acquiring licensing agreements for new territories is really only half of the battle. The work to manage new massive catalogues, engage with new markets and the ongoing maintenance of new relationships in four new territories is admittedly a challenge. As our platform approach enables us to reduce the complexity for others looking to create digital music services, this challenge is right up our alley. It is great to see our teams come together to make this happen, and further reinforce our leadership position with the broadest reach of digital music rights globally.
Ah, l’Amour… The source of life’s greatest joys and deepest sorrows; a force of nature so mysterious it’s inspired millions of magnificent songs; an emotion so universal that card companies have dedicated an entire day of every year to celebrating it… Whatever your thoughts on the Valentine’s Day phenomenon itself, February 14th is the perfect opportunity to luxuriate in a love song or twelve.
With that in mind, we asked our team to get in the mood for love and share what music comes to mind on Valentine’s Day. You can check out their eclectic (and sometimes questionable) choices below.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The Baltimore Ravens fought a good fight at the Superbowl last weekend but Beyonce was the big winner at 7digital: downloads of her singles increased by over 200% during and after her performance in the Superbowl half-time programme. The songs that she performed at the halftime show sold about 13 times more during the 24 hours post show compared to all of her other tracks (which sold about 3 times more than on an average day). Beyonce’s most downloaded songs since the Super Bowl have been “Halo” and “Single Ladies“.
Superbowl Sunday is also the biggest day of the year for advertising and non-football fans even tune in to watch the latest batch of commercials. With a 30 second slot costing around $3.5 – $4m it’s not surprising that these are some of the best adverts produced all year. Normally people look at brand effectiveness as a measure of success but we looked at a different angle, which was analysing the power of music in these commercials. Our results were very interesting!
- “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones was first released in 1968 and is featured in the Mercedes Benz commercial. It’s had over 5.7m views since it aired on youtube on January 30th and a 600% increase in download sales.
- Another classic tune, Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” featured in the Budweiser ‘s “The Clydesdales: ‘Brotherhood’” and has seen a 500% increase in download sales with 10.4m youtube views since being posted on January 31st.
- “I Wish” by Skee-lo featured in Toyota’s Wish Granted commercial saw an increase of 300% in download sales.
- And finally Psy’s “Gangham Style,” while still in the Top 10, has been in decline since the 2nd week of January but saw a 10% uplift following his debute in the Get Crackin Wonderful Pistachio commercial.
We are going to be looking more closely at the power of music in adverts and on TV this year so stay tuned for more interesting posts.
The latest BPI figures released earlier this month show, yet again, an upswing in digital music consumption in the UK.
Digital album sales increased by 14.8% to 30.5 million, with 16 albums selling more than 100,000 digital copies in 2012 – but it still wasn’t enough to make up the shortfall in physical sales. Overall album sales dropped by more than 10% in 2012 as the CD market shrank by a fifth.
Streaming has also seen strong growth, albeit from a smaller base, with more than 3.7 billion track streams in 2012. As varying forms of digital music access continue to grow, it’s clear any remaining resistance to digital is diminishing.
It’s also clear that one level of ‘access’ does not suffice for all music fans, and it’s important to keep in mind not everyone will want only downloads or only streaming. While some services, such as Spotify, have refocused on more limited options of access, the right model is the one that offers access to your music, anywhere in the world, on any device.
This ‘multi-access’ is the music industry’s best option in making up the physical decline.
It was interesting to read the latest news from Amazon regarding the launch of a HTML5 version of the MP3 music store, specifically aimed at those using Apple mobile devices. Interesting for two reasons; Amazon seems about two years off the pace, and it’s a departure from the lock-in Kindle/ebook strategy.
Apple has always been a strict master of the App Store, and upset a number of content holders back in February 2011 when it introduced a 30% ‘tax ’ on all digital content purchased through apps on an Apple device. Many looked at alternatives to avoid the 30% fee, as it made the slim margins on digital content impossible for some publishers to work with. Almost two years later, it seems Amazon has caught up with its HTML5 mobile site.
At 7digital, we launched a similar mobile site (m.7digital.com) in February 2011. Unlike Amazon, our HTML5 store was not solely aimed at Apple users. Of course music fans can easily browse and purchase music through their iPad or iPhone on the site, but back then it was an early hint of where we saw the market going.
Even two years ago we were sure music was heading to mobile. We were right.
Over two thirds of 7digital purchases now happen through a mobile device, and this number is only going to get bigger. Since we introduced the mobile store we’ve built more 7digital apps, including an iOS app, so everyone has easy access to high quality digital music on any device – whether we have a dedicated app or not.
Nearly 2 million square feet of exhibition space showcasing over 3,000 global multinationals’ array of gadgets can make any company feel like a small fish swimming in a sea of giants. However, the 7digital list of partners showcasing new devices with music powered by 7digital’s API was truly impressive at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. 7digital is proud to count Microsoft, Pure, HP, Toshiba, HTC, Samsung, Sonos, Pioneer, BlackBerry and QNX among our key consumer electronics partners – all of whom continue to roll out new and improved devices.
We work around the clock to build this network and keep our set of music rights and technology current with the latest and greatest trends and consumer needs. At CES the reality and grandeur of our dance card is inspiring to witness as the throngs of consumers pass through the massive show floor to try out the tablets, phones, connected TVs, wireless systems and PCs with our API in the background. This year we had six people at CES, running around from one meeting to the next in suites and the convention hall. Here are their observations of key trends.
1. The Importance of Music
No matter how great the chips, design, or touch screen perform, if a device isn’t entertaining and useful, it’s not going to succeed. While each CE company may have a different strategy, it is apparent that music is a core requirement in all connected devices. There is something for everyone with music, and it makes each device shine.
2. Consumers Want Ease of Use and Interoperability
The consumer is king and they want to try and buy new devices at will. The proposition that core functionality is gated off from one operating system to another doesn’t make sense and will lead to disappointment after the all-important box is opened. We believe the same thing is true for a user’s music collection, so we aim to give consumers access to music across all platforms and all connected devices.
3. Vertical vs Horizontal
Our friends in Cupertino set the bar for hardware, software and content integration but they’ve done it in a vertical stack. If you roam outside of that suite of devices, the experience breaks down. Very few companies can or WANT to take this approach, and a core trend we saw in every corner of the CES show floor is partnerships and API integrations that allow for fertile collaborations that enable great experiences across devices and platforms in a horizontal approach. The pace of change in the market is overwhelming, and we hear new music business models pitched to us on a daily basis – the horizontal strategy also allows for partners to move more independently amidst constant change.
Vickie Nauman, President of 7digital North America has been going to CES for years and on behalf of 7digital for the past 3 years. She comments, “it is amazing each year to see all the companies showing their take on a new unique consumer electronics product. It can range from anything such as robotic cats to fridges that can talk, however, it is growing much more apparent that having music run through your product changes the dimension of it completely. Music makes your device instantly relevant to your consumer base. ”
4. 2013 Looks to Be a Big Year
Another key observation from the 7digital crew is that it’s not only the CE companies that are coming out of their shell with a music strategy but also digital media publications and destinations, brands, big box retailers, specialty retailers, radio streaming companies and even chip manufacturers. The common thread is music helps everyone connect to and grow their user base.
Vickie comments, “many of these companies have been on the fence for years, contemplating the right way to enter into music while watching the industry and consumption patterns change at an unparalleled fast pace. They’ve pondered business models and debated whether to partner, build or buy. It’s clear they want to move forward with a smart, strategic company – and this means solutions like 7digital’s API and partner approach are increasingly relevant – the digital music switch is being flipped on all over CES and it is an exciting time.”
5. The Connected Car is In the Fast Lane
People love their cars, want music at the (safe) touch of a button, and we had a lot of fun wandering through the auto show floor. We also were invited to present our custom app made for the Pioneer in car sound system and spent several days positioned at the Pioneer booth to demo the 7digital/Pioneer application. 7digital’s VP of Global Marketing Kelaine Blades spent time at the Pioneer booth and comments, “it was amazing to talk to such a steady flow of users and repeatedly try to explain this intricate layer of access and deep wiring of technology and content in a way that makes it sound simple. When two companies like Pioneer and 7digital work together, they can give the user a good experience in a natural listening environment, and that means music in the car.”
Another example we were delighted by was a walk through the QNX booth, where the 7digital integration for connected cars was given prime placement.
It was an amazing year at CES for us! Having a team on deck running around to meetings was great and we look forward to next year where we hope to be able to show even more interoperability, partnerships and smart products that give users access to music in ways they want and need.
One of the few things guaranteed to pull us through the post-Christmas slump is checking out the up-and-coming musical talent set to make a splash in the next 12 months, and looking forward to big new albums from established acts.
Read more for our top tips for 2013 – broken down into bands, solo artists and producers – plus a selection of the best pre-orders at £5.
Our tip for the top: AlunaGeorge
If we were in the betting business, we’d advise you to stick a pony this pair of Londoners being the breakthrough act of 2013. Let’s survey the evidence: they were nominated for the Brits’ ‘Critics’ Choice’ award, they’ve been long-listed for the BBC’s Sound of 2013 prize and they specialise in the kind of wonky, R&B-influenced, electro-pop that’s white-hot right now. If you’ve not had the pleasure yet, check out ‘Your Drums, Your Love’, ‘You Know You Like It’ or ‘Just A Touch’, and then join us in impatiently awaiting their full-length debut.
You can preview and download music by AlunaGeorge here.
For a deeper dive into 7digital’s chart topping releases, we wanted to show how local markets are engaging with the world’s music. Being available globally with dedicated stores in over 37 countries allows us to investigate interesting trends across territories and analyse music consumption similarities and differences. We weren’t on a quest for industry shaking results but just to see how tastes are leaning these days. In this increasingly globalised world, where digital access breaks down boundaries for the average music lover, we must stay mindful of the importance of local content. Genre remains very subjective when you start to look at different countries’ data, however, for this analysis we looked at genres and music tastes per country. A new year’s resolution for 7digital will be to continue to look closely at this space for interesting changes and trends.
Interestingly enough, in all of the countries we looked at (except for the US), artists from the UK ranked very high. This shows that international shoppers like us for our UK affiliation as well because our strong editorial often features artists from our home country.
In the UK pop and rock are the most popular with top artists evenly split between artists from the UK and the rest of the world. For Ireland we see a more even split across all genres than other major markets with mostly UK and US artists. In both countries compilation albums have sold very well.
In the US, hip hop/rap and pop are most popular and artists are almost exclusively US artists whereas with our friends to the north in Canada pop and pop/rock are most popular with predominantly US and UK artists.
In France no particular genre dominates the charts and there is a fairly even split between local artists and those from the US and UK. In Luxembourg our customers prefer more electronic and R&B music than other markets. Artists are mainly European (France & Germany) as well as from the US and UK.
In Germany no genre dominates and about a third of the best-selling artists are local.
In Spain we see predominantly local pop/Latin artists whereas in Italy rock and then pop are more popular, about evenly split between local and US/UK artists.
And that wraps up our summary! Hope you have a great holiday and look out for our Who To Watch in 2013 post coming soon…
2012 has been a great year at 7digital, and mobile in particular has been a standout area of change and growth. We’ve seen a 277% increase in our mobile user base, with 67% of downloads now coming though tablets and phones. We added a Windows Phone app to our mobile line up, and watched our Android install base surpass the 4 million mark.
It’s not just digital music that’s seeing this growth; ebooks, magazines, newspapers, and TV and movies are all continuing to attract attention from readers, listeners and viewers. New mobile and connected devices have driven this, in part, and as more devices come to market, it becomes increasingly important to enable access to a user’s content on multiple devices. Right now you may have a music collection on your PC and need to get it to a smartphone or MP3 player. It won’t be long until you also want access to the same collection in the car, on your connected TV and even your fridge.
The music industry is guilty of getting hung-up on the wrong debate; that of access vs ownership. Subscription services are often labelled as ‘access’, but in reality they are ‘rental’ services. Once you stop paying the monthly subscription, you lose your carefully curated collection. As mobile and connected device growth continues in 2013 on beyond, the right levels of access to digital content you own will be the winning combination.
Next up, our top selling tracks and albums for 2012…