VEVO's Upside of UK Management Changes
-- The recent departures of two top executives at Vevo U.K. will not impact U.S. operations, a company spokesperson tells Billboard.biz.
A press release issued by Vevo last Friday announced that Nic Jones, SVP of International, is now responsible for all U.K. operations in addition to his role of overseeing the company's global expansion. At the same time, Vevo announced that Jon Lewis, managing director of sales and operations, and Jonathan Lewan, commercial director, were no longer with the company.
Friday's press release had a decidedly positive spin on the management change, saying Vevo would "bolster its UK business with a greater focus on local repertoire and syndication partnerships in addition to its growing sales operations." That focus on local repertoire would come from Lift, the emerging artist program that has helped launch such artists as Labrinth, Rita Ora and Conor Maynard.
How Many Hackathon Apps Have You Used?
-- You may have read about hackathons in Billboard magazine, at Billboard.biz or at other media outlets. But chances are you've never seen an app that came out of a hackathon.
Hackathons have proved to be a good way to attract imaginative, talented programmers to the music space. Programmers, lured by camaraderie and intellectual challenge, gather to create music applications powered by intelligence (the Echo Nest, MusicBrainz) and streaming platforms (Spotify, Rdio, etc.). But what happens in hackathons tends to stay in hackathons. They're talked about and promoted as if they were mainstream events, but mainstream people never see the results.
EMI is promoting another hackathon next month in Gothenburg, Sweden in conjunction with the Way Out West festival. It boasts that previous hacks such as Tweetvine, CTRL and Chordify "have been widely embraced by music fans across the globe" and have resulted in "hundreds of thousands of installs and millions of incremental streams." That depends on how you define "widely embrace."
The truth is the most of popular Spotify apps come from trusted brand names. Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Billboard Top Charts and KCRW Music Mine are in the top 11. The message should be plenty clear: people want music discovery with a purpose. Editorial and old-fashioned human involvement matter to music listeners.
Tweetvine is #30 out of 42 Spotify apps in the U.S. and ranks ahead of only new and unpopular artist and corporate apps (McDonalds, for example). It looks good on paper: Tweetvine creates a playlist based on the #nowplaying Twitter hashtag. But it has only middling success in practice. The resulting playlist is nothing more than voyeurism into the randomness of the Internet.
Does anybody really care that the "song" with the fourth most tweets is a six-second sound effect (a coin going into a public payphone) by the Comedy Ringtone Factory? Does anybody even remember what a public payphone looks like?
Hack days have indeed produced some cool apps. Music Smasher looks up tracks on various streaming services - helpful for tracking down rarities and comparing the catalogs of competing services. InstaSound uses an iPhone's camera to scan album art and stream its songs (using iTunes for sound samples and purchases). Spartify is a good take on social playlists.
But these hacks are long tail stuff. Actually finding and using most of these hacks requires quite a bit of time and attention - there are certainly quicker ways to discover new music if that's what you want out of apps. Some apps may have a reputation within the developer community that spawned them, but beyond that small circle of people they're pretty anonymous.
A Spotify hack isn't going to be used by mainstream consumers without distribution within the Spotify desktop. A Rdio hack needs a lot of help to find a large number of Rdio users. Without a system in place to expose the best hacks to people far beyond the developer community, Hackday apps are going to remain underground. And that's a shame.
Thank You Wii For Your Music-Focused Games
-- Thanks to Nintendo's Wii for keeping music-focused games in the public eye. New lists by Nielsen of most-anticipated video games of 2012 reveal no music games in the top 15 of either Xbox or PlayStation 3. It seems Xbox and PlayStation 3 owners like the "Call of Duty," "Madden NFL" and franchises centered on warfare and sports.
But the Wii is different. "Just Dance 4" and "Just Dance: Disney Party" are #1 and #3, respectively, on the list of 15 most-anticipated Wii games. Both titles will be released in October. "Just Dance 4" will have over 40 songs including Flo Rida's "Good Feeling," Nelly Furtado's "Maneater" and Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." The "Disney Party" version of "Just Dance" will have songs from Disney classics like "Jungle Book," "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Little Mermaid."
"Everyone Sing" is #11 on Nielsen's list for upcoming Wii titles. According to reports the group singing game will have songs by Nicki Minaj, Jessie J, the Wanted, Michael Buble and Nicole Scherzinger. "Everyone Sing" will be released September 4.