Just ask Spotify: earlier this month, discovered that the music streaming platform had been granted a patent in the US for a new karaoke-like feature that allows users to “overlay a music track with their own vocals”.

That came after Spotify successfully filed another US patent, for a TikTok-esque fuction that would allow users to create “video moments” accompanied by music within the Spotify app.

Today we discover that another large-scale music company has secured what it describes as a “game-changer” patent in the US.

That company is Ingrooves Music Group, the Universal-owned music marketing services and distribution firm that works with a host of successful indie labels and artists.

The patent – which you can read in full through here – is for AI-powered marketing technology.

According to Ingrooves, it exclusively secures the company the rights for a proprietary method of using artificial intelligence to “detect significant shifts in audience engagement and identify high-value streaming audiences”.

In other words, Ingrooves’ invention identifies audiences who have a high likelihood of deepening their engagement and becoming long-term fans of individual artists.

Ingrooves can then advise its clients about their marketing strategies accordingly.

The tech relies on aggregate reporting data that contains no personally identifying information, ensuring that it is fully compliant with GDPR and CCPA rules.

“For the entire music industry, the biggest problem everyone has is how do you efficiently and effectively market in a world where over 60 million tracks are available at all times to consumers, and the principal relationship with the consumer is controlled by other companies, namely, the DSPs,” said Ingrooves CEO, Bob Roback, speaking to MBW.

“Core to [solving] that challenge for us was to focus on a strategy around not just gathering enormous amounts of data and trying to present them beautifully in an aggregated dashboard, but really try to move to the stage where we could actually help our clients make better decisions.”

“There’s value in a patent portfolio, but we’re not trying to invent for the sake of invention”, added Roback.

“We are trying to solve a very real business problem, so I can sit with an independent label head, artist manager and say, ‘By working with our platform, and insights and team, you are able to make much better decisions, spend your money more wisely, and respond to marketing opportunities more quickly’… The patent is formal recognition that this is an innovative and protectable approach that we’ve taken.”

Ingrooves has already started to integrate the new tech within its ‘Trends Now’ platform, which is described as “an algorithmic newsfeed of essential activity happening across a labels’ or artists’ music and fans”.

Additionally, later this year, Ingrooves plans to embed the freshly-patented technology into a new, proprietary ad-buying solution within the company’s Dispatch marketing platform, which was upgraded last month.


The big story in the country in 2019, aside from a slight dip in these overall revenues (to 299.76bn Yen) was the rise of streaming services.

According to new stats published by local trade body RIAJ and crunched by MBW, subscription and ad-funded audio streaming services like Spotify generated $385m (41.97bn Yen) for the industry in Japan in 2019, representing growth of 33.8% on the 31.37bn Yen generated by the format in 2018.

Indeed, audio streaming revenues in Japan nearly doubled just in the two years between 2017 (23.89bn Yen) and 2019 (41.97bn).

With both video and audio included, Japan’s monetary streaming haul in 2019 rose to $426m (46.53bn Yen).

CD, though, very much remains king of the market.

The physical format saw its revenues fall by just 3.0% in Japan at the Yen level in 2019, generating a whopping $1.37bn (149.55bn Yen) in the year.

What impact did this all have on the make-up of Japan’s recorded music business?

In the pie charts below, MBW pits the annual (Yen-level) revenue of audio streaming in Japan (including subscription and ad-funded) against CD and download across both 2018 and 2019.

These charts are strictly audio only – the RIAJ offers a wealth of music video statistics that you can peruse at your leisure. These charts also do not include periphery digital formats (ringback tones, master ringtones, other non-streaming/download revenue).

As you can see, streaming claimed 19.3% of Japan’s audio music market revenues in 2019, up from 14.6% in the prior year.

CD, though, continued to clearly dominate, with 68.9% of all audio-related music revenues in 2019 – though this was down slightly on the 71.9% the format claimed in 2018.

In a nutshell, then, streaming is definitely becoming a more significant part of the Japanese recorded music market as the years tick on… but it’s still worth less than a third of the revenues being generated for the industry by Japan’s favorite format, the CD.

To put into perspective the overall size of Japan as a recorded music market, the RIAJ’s figures here are believed to be wholesale numbers.

This allows us to simply compare Japan’s size ($2.75bn) to that of the USA, where the RIAA just confirmed that, on a wholesale basis, the market was worth $7.3bn in 2019.


The major record companies are on course to generate over $14bn in total – with approximately $8bn from streaming alone – this calendar year.

That’s according to an MBW forecast based on recent fiscal results from Vivendi/Universal Music Group, Sony Corp and Warner Music Group.

Our number-crunching shows that total recorded music revenues across the ‘Big Three’ in the first nine months of 2019 hit $10.29bn, significantly up on the $9.26bn they posted in the same period of 2018.

Collectively, in the final calendar quarter (Q4) of last year, the three majors generated $3.86bn from recorded music.

The majority of the major labels’ $10.29bn revenues in the first nine months of 2019 were derived from the likes of Spotify: Universal, Sony and Warner generated $6.07bn from streaming platforms in the 9M period to end of September, up by over a billion dollars on the $5.0bn they collectively generated from streaming in the same period of 2018 – a 21.4% YoY rise.

Perhaps the most memorable stat to emerge today: in calendar Q3, the three majors collectively generated an average of $22.9m every day from streaming – a number which suggests that at some point very soon, Universal, Sony and Warner’s labels will be jointly raking in more than a million dollars every hour from Spotify, Apple Music et al.

Alongside these super-positive figures, however, there is a slight cause for… well, if not concern, then certainly conversation.

Because as the world’s biggest streaming territories mature, and the ARPU of certain platforms continues to tumble, one thing looks certain: the majors should prepare themselves for a deceleration in streaming revenue growth in 2019… and beyond (unless emerging markets, or emerging services, can pick up the slack).

So: the collective streaming revenue of all three majors in the first nine months of this year ($6.07bn) was up by $1.07bn on the $5.0bn generated in the same nine months of the prior year (2018).

Yet that $1.07bn figure was down by around $140m on the equivalent 9M year-on-year growth margin the majors saw from streaming services in the same period of 2018 (vs. 2017), which stood at $1.21bn.

Breaking this trend down further:

  • Universal’s YoY recorded music streaming growth in the first nine months of 2019 (vs. 2018), according to MBW’s calculations, was $497m; in the same period of 2018 (vs. 2017) that figure was $114m bigger, at $611m;
  • Sony’s YoY recorded music streaming growth in the same nine months of 2019 was $275m, down by a more modest $25m on the $300m it saw in 9M 2018;
  • Warner bucked the trend (just); in the first nine months of 2019 vs. the same period of 2018, WMG’s recorded music streaming haul grew by $298m; in the first nine months of 2018 vs. the same period of 2017, it grew by exactly the same figure (see below).

If we focus solely on calendar Q3 (the three months to end of September), we can see that Universal and Warner both saw a deceleration in YoY recorded music streaming growth – with UMG’s down from $205m in Q3 2018 to $169m in Q3 2019 and Warner down from $95m in Q3 2018 to $84m in Q3 2019.

Interestingly, looking at Q3 alone, Sony was the only the major to see its labels’ streaming growth accelerate in the period: it collected $110m more in calendar Q3 2019 than it did in the prior year; the equivalent figure in Q3 2018 was up by just $35m

This must mean that one of two things is about to happen: (i) either Goldman is right, meaning that the major record labels will, as a consequence, concede streaming market share to the independent sector in 2019; or (ii) Goldman is not right, in which case the entire industry may follow the major label trend of posting smaller streaming growth this year than it did in 2018. Or both.

The majors, of course, are very aware of these trends, and are looking to the likes of India, China and Africa – not to mention new services from TikTok and others – to kickstart accelerated streaming revenue growth in future years.

And yet, within the recent annual filing of Warner Music Group, the following reference to a worst-case-scenario sticks out – echoing the sentiment, no doubt, across the world’s biggest music rights companies: “If growth in streaming revenues levels off or fails to grow as quickly as it has over the past several years, our recorded music business may experience reduced levels of revenues and operating income.”


Justin Bieber made headlines this weekend for seemingly directing his fans to game Spotify, iTunes and YouTube in order to help send his recent single, Yummy, to No.1 in the US.

A streaming service-gaming guide for fans was reposted to Bieber’s official Instagram account on Thursday night (January 9) and was subsequently flagged by a number of social media users.

As reported by the Verge, the now-deleted post first appeared on fan account, Outlyning (which has 115,000 followers), stating: “Justin really wants that #1 and he is really excited about it as he said yesterday in his livestream. If you don’t want to do any of this it’s totally fine, just ignore the post. ✌️This is tips for the people who actually wants to do an extra effort!”

To amplify the single’s Spotify streams, the guide urged fans to “create a playlist with Yummy on repeat and stream it”.

It further instructed fans to “let it play while you sleep” – but, presumably to avoid Spotify’s fraud detection measures, suggested that they avoid muting the track, and instead play it “at a low volume”.

The post encouraged fans outside the US to use a VPN, and to set their location to the USA so that their streams counted towards the Billboard charts.

As noted by the Verge, fan led-strategies to boost singles in the charts in a similar manner are not un-common.

In 2018 for example, over 1,000 Spotify logins were claimed to have been distributed by the BTS fan ‘Army’ to boost US streams for the K-Pop superstars’ album, Love Yourself: Tear.

As detailed in this Complex article, Justin Bieber’s Instagram post follows various other social media-based promotional tactics for the single, which include posting videos simply asking fans to stream and purchase the track to get it to No.1

Netflix Tests Discounted Subscription Plans in India

Netflix is testing discounted plans in India for some long-term subscribers. The plans are only available to selected new subscribers and not existing ones.

While signing up, new users may be offered a 20% discount on a three-month subscription, a 30% discount on a six-month term and a 50% discount on a 12-month contract. These will be available only in India. Netflix currently offers mobile, basic, standard and premium plans in India.

“We believe that our members may value the flexibility that comes from being able to pay for a few months at once,” a Netflix spokesperson said. “This is a test and we will only introduce it more broadly if people find it useful.”

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings was in India last week, where he revealed that the streamer is investing $400 million in Indian content in 2019 and 2020. Since its launch in April, Indian animated kids show “Mighty Little Bheem” has been watched by 27 million households worldwide, including in Latin America, Australia, Hastings said.

India has a fiercely competitive OTT market with more than 30 popular services. Dominant players include Disney’s Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, Alt Balaji, MX Player, Eros Now, Viacom18’s Voot and Sony Liv. A recent PwC report projects the Indian OTT market value to reach $1.6 billion by 2023.

Amazon Prime Video has greenlit an untitled, unscripted dance show to be executive produced and featuring power couple Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas. The show is inspired by the Indian pre-wedding tradition known as ‘sangeet’ where the families of the betrothed participate in an evening of song and dance. Casting for the series is currently underway and filming will take place in 2020. Amazon Studios, Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz’s Alfred Street Industries, Chopra Jonas’ Purple Pebble Pictures, and Jonas’ Image 32 are producing.


The USA’s recorded music market generated $9.8bn in total retail revenues last year, of which $6.6bn made its way back to artists and labels in wholesale payments.

The remainder of that $9.8bn, of course, was retained by retailers and digital music services like Spotify.

These new figures, from the RIAA, tell us that 67.35% of last year’s $9.8bn retail haul was paid out to labels and artists. In 2017, it was a similar story: 67.05% of that year’s US retail revenues ($8.8bn) made its way to music rights-holders on a wholesale basis ($5.9bn).

Yet in 2016, according to the RIAA, the wholesale revenues paid out to labels and artists was slightly higher than it was in the following two years: 68.42%, to be exact ($5.2bn wholesale versus $7.6bn retail).

Why? Perhaps because Spotify struck new deals with major and independent labels in the first half of 2017, which saw those same rights-holders agree to lower the share of pro-rated net revenue they received from the service, down from approximately 55% to 52%.

Back to last year. According to new RIAA data, the US recorded music market – which was up 12% overall – saw specific revenues from streaming music platforms grow 30% in 2018 to reach $7.4bn.

That made up some 75% of the industry’s $9.8bn total revenue tally, thanks to a variety of formats including premium paid subscription services, ad-supported on-demand services (i.e. YouTube, Vevo, and ad-supported Spotify), and streaming radio services, such as those that distribute revenues through SoundExchange (including Pandora, SiriusXM, and other internet radio services).

Total 2018 subscription streaming revenues (ie. those paid for by consumers) increased 32% to $5.4bn, says RIAA, making up more than half of the entire market’s revenue across all formats. (Included in this figure is $747m in revenues from ‘Limited Tier’ subscriptions on services like Amazon Prime or Pandora Plus, as well as fully-stacked premium, on-demand streaming subscriptions from the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora etc.)

The average number of paid subscriptions (excluding limited tier options) grew 42% in 2018, says the RIAA, exceeding 50m for the first time ever. On average, more than one million new subscriptions were added each month.

Revenues from on-demand, ad-supported streaming services (including YouTube, Vevo, and the free version of Spotify) grew 15% in 2018, significantly slower than paid-for subscriptions. The total haul from ad-supported services was $760m, less than seven times the amount of money pulled in from streaming subscriptions.

Revenues from digital and customized radio services (including Pandora, SiriusXM satellite radio, iHeart Radio, and internet radio services) grew 32% year-over-year to $1.2 billion – the first time the category exceeded one billion dollars annually.

Revenues from downloaded tracks and albums declined for the sixth consecutive year to $1.04 billion. Album downloads fell 25% to $500m in 2018, while individual track sales were down 28% to $490m.

Revenues from shipments of physical products decreased to $1.15bn, down 23% from 2017. At estimated retail value, CDs fell by just over a third – 34% – to $698m. It was the first time that annual revenues from CDs amounted to less than one billion dollars since 1986.

Revenues from vinyl albums in 2018 hit $419m, an increase of 8% year-on-year, and the highest level since 1988.

You can see a detailed breakdown of US recorded music revenues in 2018 and 2017 below, and you can download the RIAA’s complete 2018 year-end report through here.

In a blog post today (February 28), RIAA Chairman & CEO Mitch Glazier wrote: “Rejuvenation in the industry means more opportunities to find and break new artists for fans to enjoy. In response to a growing market, labels are doubling down on what they do best: investing in great music makers and innovative businesses to realize creative visions and bolster the strong connection between artists and their fans.

“According to an illuminating recent report (“Same Heart. New Beat”) by NYU Steinhardt Music Business Program Director Larry Miller, more than 650 new artists were signed to major labels in 2017, a significant increase over prior years. At the same time, labels’ evolution continues, with teams working 24/7 to support their artist partners with coordinated global campaigns that turn local breakouts into international superstars.”

He added: “Make no mistake, many challenges continue to confront our community. As noteworthy as it is for the business to approach $10 billion in revenues again, that only returns U.S. music to its 2007 levels. Stream-ripping, and a lack of accountability for many Big Tech companies that drive down the value of music, remain serious threats as the industry strives for additional growth.

“But there is reason for buoyed optimism among those who help create music. Recognizing that there is more work to do, labels remain focused on building an ecosystem where every responsible player does its part to ensure that innovation continues to thrive, fans continue to be connected and engaged, and everyone is paid fairly for their work.”

According to BuzzAngle data issued earlier this year, the USA’s five biggest streaming artists in 2018 were Drake, Post Malone (pictured), XXXTentacion, Eminem and Migos.