Emanate already prepared for post COVID Music industry
It has been great to see the Australian owned and produced Emanate music platform making great strides ahead this week. A lot of hard work and visionary thinking has gone into building the music platform of the future. But before we get into the detail on Emanate, it’s important to summarise the recent events and marketplace that new services such as Emanate now find themselves.
Before the COVID lockdowns the music industry had been ticking along at a fine pace. The streaming services had been providing strong growth, live revenues were good, and the M&A activities globally were fostering investment in song writing and artist projects like never before. MD’s at majors had basically been told to buy market share and invest at historic levels. Particularly with all the “NEW” money from Merck and Co. floating around.
Move forward 4 months, and with live revenues in the ditch, synch and performance revenues falling away, the industry has only subscription revenues to fall back on. These are holding up but likely not about to experience the large growth that has been seen by our subscription cousins over on the video side.
Most artists have been performing live gigs, and charity events via zoom, but have largely had little chance of monetising these events in any way meaningful for their own personal bottom lines or livelihoods.
They say necessity is the mother of all inventions and in that respect it is great to see some very notable successes. A major shout out goes to the SM Label in Korea and their boy band Super M. Their global live stream concert held last Sunday attracted over 75,000 paying customers at USD$30 a pop. The Naver Live platform received over 120 million virtual hearts during the performance. They were a number very interesting innovations used. Check out the full story here.
To be very honest, the success of Super M also goes to that fact they had developed a very strong fandom before Covid hit. SM Label and their K Pop artists work very hard to connect directly to artists so when the times like Covid come along they can innovate quickly and it can work.
Unlike Super M, one of the main learnings of Covid lockdowns is that the average artist still does not have all the digital tools they need to sustain themselves in a modern world.
Discrete digital revenues to artists (ie what gets paid by consumers listening to artist A goes directly to Artist A less reasonable deductions) are super important and there are artists longing to go back to the days of 99 cents Apple Music downloads rather than receive a tiny fraction of subscription revenues. Live and merch are obviously the major drivers of discrete revenues in the new subscription world and that has dried up.
One thing that has impressed me with the team at Emanate and their innovative new platform ( www.emanate.live ) is how far ahead they are thinking in terms of what a music service could be.
With the Alpha version live, some big leaps forward this week soon to be announced, and 600 artists on board, the ambitious roadmap is worth a discussion as it seeks to solve some of the issues that Covid has laid out cold for the industry to observe.
It is interesting to note the general trend of labels and publishers speeding up payments to artists and writers. The old days of zero transparency and sitting on money for 6 months was slowly disappearing and there have been quite a few recent announcements of either speeding up the process or providing advances against future streams during Covid. Labels and publishers were also investing heavily in artist portals and apps to show how artist friendly they had become.
Emanate are taking this trend to the end of the line with an instant payment process model. I had the pleasure of loading up one of my sons tracks, playing it and watching the blockchain window show me how much he was being paid as the song was played …every 6 seconds to be precise. The process works on a daily pool of Emanates very own crypto currency EMT, from which artists are paid out on every stream. They currently boast the highest per second streaming pay rate in the world.
The partnership with a Credit Card business soon to formalised will take this concept further. Each artist and producer contributing to the service will be issued with their very own Emanate Debit Card that can be topped up by withdrawing from the EMT account. The general vision of the team is that they would like a song loaded up in the morning, and an artist to be able to use revenues earned at the shop in the afternoon.
This feature alone will be very attractive to artists, particularly indie, that currently use SoundCloud for promotional and social media links. Why not link to a platform where you get paid straight away?
The other major sticking point for artists to develop strong digital business models is ownership of the consumer data. The large DSP’s to date have been protective on this space which has required artists to develop communities within social media and YouTube and to develop their own direct to consumer marketing. But actually, being able to direct market to super fans (based on streaming activity) on DSP’s without paying advertising dollars has been elusive. In the middle of Covid, this functionality would have been incredibly valuable.
(I do note however, Spotify’s recent developments to have more direct messaging to the fans on artists releases.)
Subject to rigorous privacy and sign up procedures, Emanate plans to have consumer data available to labels and artists for their own marketing purposes. A major step in the right direction.
The other existing feature which will be enhanced is the ability for unsigned artists on the platform to trade copyright real time. Particularly useful in the collaboration space and also some new functionality for copyright being traded for promotion by key influencers on platforms such as Tik Tok.
With a swathe of new functionality now about to be built before the release of Emanate Beta, it is great to see that the platform is looking to solve some of the key industry issues that Covid has uncovered particularly discrete digital revenues, artist payment timings and integration between DSP’s and consumer marketing.
The ultimate winner of any DSP Championship will be that platform that pays out most to artists and assists them in their journey. A lesson often forgotten in a share price focus and product up sell world.