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Streaming boom becomes ‘holy grail’ for resurgent music industry | Anthony S Casey Singapore

After years of erosion, music sales are on the rebound — thanks in large part to a massive boost from worldwide streaming.

Once shunned by a number of high-profile artists, digital music is starting to pay dividends to big-name acts and smaller artists alike, experts say. One reason is that old industry standards have been streamlined for the digital era, ensuring that musicians are more fairly compensated for their music.

The other is the white-hot streaming industry, which has led consumers to pay for music via subscriptions. BuzzAngle Music, a firm that tracks industry performance, found that on-demand audio streaming soared 41.8% in 2018, topping 534 billion streams.

Yet as the industry reverses a decline in sales, questions remain about how much more impact streaming will have on the industry.

There’s a lot at stake — especially as juggernauts like Spotify (SPOT), Apple Music (AAPL), Amazon Music (AMZN) and YouTube (GOOG) significantly boost market share in an industry once dominated by AM-FM radio and large record stores.

According to Ben Swinburne, a managing director of research at Morgan Stanley (MS), it’s all about global growth and converting consumers from free platforms to paid.

“It’s a growth industry, and we expect that growth to be driven by 20% growth in subscription streaming revenue. That’s really the driver,” Swinburne told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview.

“The streaming companies are global companies concerned with global growth,” he added.

Over the last several years, consumers have increasingly opened their wallets on recorded music, which as a category saw revenues surge by 12% last year to over $9 billion, according to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) data.

The driver behind that surge were paid streaming subscriptions, the RIAA noted.

“Growth of streaming services is amazing, subscription streaming is very positive for us,” Richard James Burgess, the CEO of the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), told Yahoo Finance recently.

A2IM helped champion the legislation that updated copyright laws, which are now more lucrative for independent artists.

“In general, there’s very high optimism right now,” Burgess said on the sidelines of the Libera Awards, a celebration of independent music that was the culminating event of A2IM’s Indie Week.

A smartphone and a headset are seen in front of a screen projection of Spotify logo, in this picture illustration taken April 1, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

A smartphone and a headset are seen in front of a screen projection of Spotify logo, in this picture illustration taken April 1, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

‘Right song at the right time’

Streaming services look like a good investment if they can continue to innovate and drive music discovery, which is another way in which they’ve remade the business. A significantly larger catalog of music is now available for music consumption in a way that it never has been before.

“Music discovery is the holy grail for any music business. How do you as a distributor, and for that matter as an artist, find the right listener and deliver the right song at the right time?” asked Morgan Stanley’s Swinburne.

“In a world of 40 million tracks, it’s overwhelming to try to navigate that,” he said. “For a lot of people, they don’t have time to figure out who’s cool and what’s hot.”

That’s why services like Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlist, which curates songs from artists based on users’ listening habits, have allowed many more artists to find their way to having their music heard.

“Some of the things that technology brought really decimated the industry, and really was responsible for a lot of the drop-off, said Michael Huppe, president and CEO of SoundExchange, the premier digital performance rights organization in the world.

Now, “that technology is part of the recovery,” Huppe added.

While the business used to be built around a model in which labels were just attempting to drive sales of records, listening itself has become increasingly important, he added.

It’s “the whole kahuna,” Huppe said.

Artists vs. Streamers

MANCHESTER, TENNESSEE - JUNE 14: Courtney Barnett performs onstage at That Tent during the 2019 Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival on June 14, 2019 in Manchester, Tennessee. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic for Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival )

Courtney Barnett, the winner of the 2019 Libera Award for Best Rock Album, performs during the 2019 Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival on June 14, 2019 in Manchester, Tennessee. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic for Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival)

Ed Sheeran earns $750m from record‑breaking tour | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Ed Sheeran on the opening night of his Australian tour in Perth last year
Ed Sheeran on the opening night of his Australian tour in Perth last yearMATT JELONEK/GETTY IMAGES

The idiosyncratic charm that propelled Ed Sheeran from homelessness to global pop star has put him on course for the highest grossing concert tour in history.

Between March 2017 and the end of last year the singer-songwriter from Suffolk generated $555 million in ticket sales and by the time the Divide Tour ends with four nights at Chantry Park, Ipswich, in August it is expected to have surpassed $750 million.

That would put Sheeran, 28, ahead of U2’s 360 Degree tour in 2011, which made $735 million, according to Pollstar, a publication for the live events industry. Sheeran has already beaten the Irish band’s record tour attendance figures, selling 8.8 million tickets as of the beginning of this month, against their 7.3 million.

Amazon to show four Premier League matches on TV in one day | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Amazon Prime is planning a Boxing Day marathon over ten hours
Amazon Prime is planning a Boxing Day marathon over ten hoursBEN STANSALL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Armchair fans will be able to watch four Premier League matches back to back for the first time next season with Amazon Prime planning a Boxing Day marathon of programming from midday until 10pm.

The streaming service has won the rights to broadcast two entire rounds of fixtures for the next three seasons and reached an agreement with the Premier League to schedule four different kick-off times for the Boxing Day programme, including a televised match at 3pm for the first time.

Amazon Prime will make all ten matches available via the red button on both of their packages, with the first being a midweek round on December 3 and 4.

Manchester United’s shock transfer war chest revealed | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Solskjaer Glazers TEAMtalk

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been given just £100million to strengthen his squad this summer, claims a report.

It was widely expected that Norwegian boss Solskjaer was planning a major overhaul to his ailing squad, but ESPN report that United’s war chest is not as considerable as many thought.

The report claims United will have just £100million to spend on new recruits, plus any money they receive from player sales.

United have already added Dan James for an initial £15million, while the Daily Recordyesterday claimed the United had agreed a fee of around £55million for Crystal Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

United did receive £10.5million from the sale of Marouane Fellaini to Shandong Luneng earlier this year.

However, based on the figure reported by ESPN, United’s summer overhaul will depend on sales – with Romelu Lukaku, David De Gea and Paul Pogba’s futures all up in the air.

Lukaku looks like being the player most likely sold this summer with Inter Milan heavily linked with his services with United hoping for a fee of around £70million.

Earlier this month, Lukaku said: “I am going to enjoy my holidays with my family now. I know what I’ll do, but won’t say it. We’ll see. Do I expect a busy summer? Yes.”

The Belgium striker has also been urged to move by his national team boss Roberto Martinez, but the exits of Pogba and De Gea are not guaranteed and likely to prove complicated.

And the report suggests that the “view within the club” is that if they retain Pogba and De Gea, in particular they will be able to recruit enough emerging talent to compete for a top-four finish.

Juventus step up interest in €140m Pogba but expect stiff competition from Real Madrid | Anthony S Casey Singapore

The Serie A champions are hopeful that they can take the Frenchman back to Turin although Zinedine Zidane’s side are also interested in the midfielder

 

Juventus are stepping up their efforts to sign Paul Pogba but accept that they will face stiff competition from Real Madrid for the Manchester Unitedmidfielder.

According to sources close to the Serie A champions, the club’s sporting director Fabio Paratici met with United officials to discuss a potential deal for the FranceWorld Cup winner while he was in the UK finalising a move for Maurizio Sarri.

And Juve are now planning to put together an official offer for the 26-year-old, who left them to rejoin United in 2016, expected to be in the region of €130 million to €140m (£116m/$145m to £125m/$157m).

They do, however, accept that Madrid will also be at the front of the queue to sign Pogba.

He is considered a top target for head coach Zinedine Zidane and the Liga side would very much be interested in taking him to the Bernabeu.

The ABC newspaper in Spain goes as far as saying that Real are willing to bid €125m (£112m/$140m) for Pogba and offer him a salary that would see him paid the equivalent of Eden Hazard, just short of the amount earned by club captain Sergio Ramos.

That said, Juve, who appointed former Chelsea manager Sarri as their new head coach on Sunday, are still ready to go toe-to-toe with Madrid in the race to sign the midfielder, with the deal to take Cristiano Ronaldo to Turin proving that nothing is impossible.

United, meanwhile, remain determined to keep Pogba and do not want to sell him in a move that would undermine manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has always been adamant that he wants to build his team around the Frenchman.

That puts the Red Devils in a stronger position over negotiating a potential sale, whereby they would demand as much money as possible should talks progress, and interest from Juve and Madrid be followed up with concrete offers.

Juve have continued to dominate domestically in Italy, winning their eighth league title in a row under former boss Massimiliano Allegri, although Champions League progress has been more of a struggle.

There was hope that the signing of Ronaldo would help end their 23-year wait to win Europe’s biggest prize, although they came unstuck against Ajax in the quarter-finals of the 2018-19 version of the competition.

A move for Pogba would further show their ambition to finally conquer Europe, with Aaron Ramsey having joined on a free transfer from Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot having also been linked.