Take Five (the big five stories and data you need to know) November 4th 2019

Music manager shift: new ‘Managing Expectations’ report from the MMF indicates the role of music managers is transforming. Headline: music managers are doing an ever wider and more complex range of tasks. As artist income streams fragment, the tech and business sophistication of an artist’s manager will become crucial, even more so than now.

Streaming wars heat up, again: Oh, how music could do with streaming wars like video is experiencing. HBO Max is the latest entrant, targeting 90 million subscribers and including new (e.g. anew Game of Thrones spinoff) and old (Friends). It will also only release shows weekly – traditional media company afraid to embrace change? Or savvy recognition that binge watching destroys audience time ROI?

Political ads, decision time: Twitter drew a line in the sand, banning political ads.Facebook got all defensive but made some vaguely positive noises. Meanwhile, Google remained silent. The single biggest political advertiser on Google? The Trump Make America Great AgainCommittee. Facebook’s Sandberg says political ads are only 1% of revenue, not worththe hassle but important for free speech. Regulation may be needed.

Podcast heroes: Netflix is making a podcast spinoff of its teenzombie apocalypse show Daybreak. This is all about brand extension but also lets Netflix test the podcast waters. Do not bet against Netflix becoming a key player in the space. Indeed, the podcast market is going to look a lot more like video subscriptions (fragmentation, exclusives) than it does music. Podcasts will not be a winner-takes-all market.

Tree beast: MrBeast has carved out a distinct YouTube career (26.5 million subscribers) by giving stuff away to people and good causes. Now he is a leading a campaign to plant 20 million trees by 2020 to, one, make a difference and two, show policy makers that Gen Z and young millennials are vested in environmental issues. Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk and others have signed up.

Take Five (the big five stories and data you need to know) August 5th 2019

Spotify – steady sailing, for now: Spotify hit 108 million subscribers in Q2 2019 – which is exactly what we predicted. Spotify continues to grow in line with the wider market, maintaining market share. Subscriber growth isn’t the problem though, revenue is. As mature markets slow, emerging markets will keep subscriber growth up but with lower APRU will bring less revenue. Spotify needs a revenue plan B. If podcast revenue is it, then it needs to start delivering, fast.

Fortnite World Cup: It can be hard to appreciate the scale of transformative change while it is still happening. A few years from now we’ll probably look back at the late 2010s as when e-sports started to emerge as a global-scale sport in its own right. Epic Games’ inaugural Fortnite World Cup pulled in 2.3 million viewers on YouTube and Twitch, was played in the Arthur Ashe Stadium and the singles winner picked up more prize money ($3 million) than Tiger Woods at the Masters and Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon.

Facebook trying to do an Apple, and an Amazon: With 140 million daily users of its Watch video service, Facebook is positioning to become the video powerhouse it always looked like it could be. Now it is trying to follow in Apple and Amazon’s footsteps and make itself a video device company too. Currently in talks with all its key video competitors, Facebook wants to add streaming to its forthcoming video calling device. That would leave Alphabet as the only tech major without a serious video household device play (unless you count Android TV).

Ticking time bomb?: Having recently hit 120 million users in India, TikTok clearly has scale, but it also has a rights problem, calling in the UK Copyright Tribunal to resolve a dispute with digital licensing body ICE, which characterised TikTok as being ‘unlicensed’. This feels a lot like the days when YouTube was first carving out licenses. Sooner or later TikTok is going to need a licensing framework that rights holders will sign off on. Matters just took a twist with TikTok poaching ICE’s Head of Rights and Repertoire. It’ll take more than that though to fix this structural challenge. 

We’re competing with Fornite: Yes, more Fortnite….fresh from World Cup success and on the eve of the Ashes, the English Cricket Board said ‘There’s 200 million players of Fortnite…that is who we are competing against.’ Do not mistake this for a uniquely cricket problem, nor even a uniquely sports problem. In the attention economy everyone is competing against everyone. And while Fornite might be the go-to for middle-aged execs bemoaning attention competition (yes that means you Reed Hastings) the trend is bigger than Fortnite alone, way bigger.