In the second half of last year we introduced Selection Prediction Scores as part of our service to musicians. That is, we tell musicians the probability their songs will be selected for an opportunity on Music Xray provided they submit them to at least 20 appropriate opportunities. We use a complex system of music analysis software, the crowdsourcing of industry professionals, and all the past history of songs that have been selected and rejected on the site, the number & type of all the available opportunities for each genre and we put all of that data into Amazon’s machine learning platform to make these predictions. In the real world our predictions have turned out to be over 90% accurate as has been evidenced in the beta trials of our Artist Investment Program.
Given how confident we are in our predictions, today we have launched another beta program we’re calling Music Xray’s Self-Accellerated Artist Investment Program. It’s a money-back guarantee on 20 submissions for qualifying songs.
To find out if your song qualifies, log in to your account. You will see a notification alerting you to which of your songs qualify and telling you how to find out if songs without Selection Prediction Scores can receive them.
This week we’ve seen another music discovery service acquired by one of the large music streaming services when Irish start-up Soundwave was acquired by Spotify. This is the second Spotify acquisition of a data analytics company it is using to help consumers find the best new music they are likely to love.
Recently, it seems like every big consumer-facing music streaming company has been shoring up its ability to stay ahead of consumer taste. Pandora acquired Next Big Sound, Apple acquired MusicMetric, and others are working on internal systems all in an effort to provide better discovery for listeners. Executives at the steaming services believe that it is key to their competitiveness to hook users into their service by helping them discover new music they love.
As thees capabilities improve, traditional music promotion by the music labels will become decreasingly effective. The streaming companies want to channel the best new music to their listeners regardless of whether the artists are signed to a label – although the big labels are employing various strategies to insure they aren’t outflanked – primarily shoring up their advantages in their licensing agreements with the streamers. Additionally, Universal Music hired Jay Frank in 2015 and appointed him Senior Vice President of Global Streaming Marketing, showing they understand that the ways to reach the ears of consumers is changing for everyone in the ecosystem.
This is of course all driven by market forces and consumer demand. But it signals that the labels, publishers and others in the ecosystem need to reinforce their early discovery efforts and capabilities if they want to stay ahead of the curve. After all, they only make money if they add value and they can only add value if they get in early enough to contribute to the music’s success.
This is why Music Xray has been building its own proprietary ecosystem for so long. We realized that you can only go so far with data generated out in the wild and it’s an arms race among those with access to the best data. When upstart musicians and their teams buy Facebook likes, YouTube streams, and other social markers they distort the field making it harder for legitimate players to stand out. By owning their own data analytics companies, Spotify and Pandora are essentially plugging in their own proprietary data they don’t necessarily share with others. But even so, they are using data generated by consumers which is so often influenced by factors that are hard to isolate and account for. Furthermore, there is little online activity surrounding songwriters and production teams who don’t have aspirations of making it as performers themselves. So much new material and talent continue to go undetected by many industry players.
As we’ve increased our ability to spot the successful music just before it lands its first industry deal, we’ve begun to make actual investments in the music – investments into music opportunities others can’t even begin to see. Together with our investment partner, Digital Daruma, we’re leveraging our predictive model and are starting to own revenue streams in the music itself.
Music Xray controls the quality of the data in our ecosystem and we use a combination of crowd-sourcing of industry ears, music analysis software, targeted fan reaction, and machine learning to make predictions in which we are 92% confident are accurate. You can hear a small fraction of the kind of music we’re uncovering by listening to our podcast each week.
Follow us here on the blog for updates over the next few weeks regarding the progress and status of our investment program and learn how we’re making it the focus of our business.
Music Industry Professional Guest Post from Pulse Records
Keeping track of all the music used in films and on television shows is a formidable task, but one that all P.R.O.’s (Performing Rights Organization) enthusiastically undertake to ensure its writers and publishers receive the royalties they are due. While each P.R.O. (U.S. and international) maintains vast computer databases logging the music registered by its publishers, composers, writers, etc., these databases cannot reflect all of the music used in new productions, nor can it guess how long music was used, how it was used or how many time it may have re-aired. Making sure all of the music used is amply compensated for is made feasible only by the use of cue sheets.
So what is a Cue Sheet? Cue sheets are entry logs that can be summarized as the written version of the music used in a production. When a show or movie is created, producers and their teams submit cue sheets to P.R.O.’s to track the use of music in films and TV. This can be done on a quarterly basis, semi-annually or even annually. Without cue sheets, it would be virtually impossible for composers and publishers to be compensated for their work. With upfront sync fees diminishing in respect to the compensation we saw in the 80’s, 90’s and even the early 00’s, it is vital that your royalties are being tracked, paid out on time and accurately. Therefore, your Metadata is paramount.
Who fills out a cue sheet? Completing a cue falls on the shoulders of the network staff, typically handled by a junior exec, junior admin or even interns. Beware: if they can’t readily find your information via metadata embedded in your master recordings or even online via P.R.O. databases or the ISWC database, they may just skip it or move along to another project with the intention to return to the daunting task of research. Things slip through the cracks and human error also factors into the equation no matter how righteous the intentions may be to accurately complete the cue sheet. However, never let anyone’s time crunch, lack of attention to detail or malaise for dreaded paperwork infringe upon your right to be accurately compensated. With the rise of independent producers and cable operations, the filing of accurate cue sheets has become even more crucial to tracking the use of music in film and television productions. These newcomers to the industry are sometimes unfamiliar with, or unaware of, the legal and professional responsibilities involved in using the music of composers and publishers whose rights are represented by performing rights societies.
Series/Film Title AKA
Episode Title AKA
Production Company Information
Performing rights society
Key acronyms are: ISWC No., CAE No (s), Publisher CAE, ISRC etc.
Here are some helpful tips to ensure your cue sheets are completed as accurately as possible:
Be upfront if you share publishing/writers when submitting or pitching; it helps editors and producers know what cuts and splits will come. If there is more than one composer for an individual piece of music, or if the writer and publisher split their royalties other than on a 50/50 basis, this must also be indicated on the cue sheet, and these become important factors in P.R.O. payment calculations
Have your information/metadata available via email when you and/or your representative submits music to editors and music supervisors. Being thorough is never unappreciated. Help producers do their work, which is to produce, don’t give them an additional task of tracking your information down.
Checking in with networks/production companies to make sure that the cue sheets have been prepared and filed is good insurance for receiving accurate compensation for your compositions.
Pulse Records places and pitches music internationally. We want to ensure that you are educated, prepared and fully versed on how the industry works from the inside out. Since music royalty infrastructure and language are standardized from the US to overseas, if done correctly, royalties earned from licensing can pay your bills and the bills of future generations to come. Music is an asset, treat it as such and let it work for you. Although completing cue sheets are not the task of artists, publishers or admins, having your information organized, registered and accurate will greatly affect proper payment on your next royalty statement.
So, about once per week I click the link in one of the emails and I listen to the song. But it’s ALWAYS the same. A mediocre song (at best) with spoofed data. I only had to listen to 10 seconds to know there is no way that song legitimately got 2.1m plays. Note: I masked this artist’s identity because it’s not fair for me to call out a young musician who is just trying to make his way and who doesn’t know any better. But you get the point.
Most true artists would never do this. They would never spoof the data to make it look like the song or act has more traction than it really does because that’s the recipe for a bad reputation. It’s not professional.
But, there are many aspiring artists out there ‘hustling’ like that… to the point I can’t take any promo email seriously. I almost never click. And no one else in the industry takes them seriously either. And it’s the guys like this artist who ruin it for the deserving musicians like you probably are. Not only does he rip me off (my time) by lying to me about his song’s play-count just to get me to click, he rips off all the other aspiring talent who has music very deserving of attention because no one will click.
This happens in a lot of industries and people say a lot of things to get others to click. Everyone is desensitized. All those legitimate Nigerian princes can’t get a click because the fake ones are trying to take my money! 😉
So, to bring this around to how it relates to Music Xray, one can think of Music Xray’s submission fees as one would a freeway toll. It doesn’t only help pay for the upkeep of the road, it enables you to drive on one that isn’t congested with time-wasting traffic.
The tolls are just costly enough that guys like R***Y****6 will find it too expensive to stay on the road. He’ll be put in a position of either continuing to pay for rejection or to hit the exit ramps. While those who are getting great feedback from the industry and fans, are getting great Selection Prediction Scores, and are genuinely gaining traction, will find it very rewarding, will get heard, will get a shot with the knowledge that the professionals are listening.
Music Xray creates a similar environment for professionals, creating a competition among them for the top songs and talent while uncovering those ‘professionals’ who aren’t genuinely there to do real business and to truly find talent they want to work with. We remove those ‘professionals’ from the site if they happen to make it through our verification process in the first place, and we refund any artist who submitted to them.
Transparency and site integrity are our core values.
Music Xray is a clean, transparent platform where our primary mission is to create the filtering mechanisms designed to identify commercially viable, high potential songs and talent for the industry.
Our mission is not to maximize the amount of money generated from artists who pay to submit music. In fact, our system is designed to create as much of a competition among industry professionals for the top songs and talent as there is a competition among musicians to land the best deals. It’s en efficient system that operates transparently and reputably, backed by legitimate music tech investors. And we’ve been able to achieve the adoption of so much of the industry based on this dedication to running a clean site.
Recently, there have been a slew of website cropping up with questionable reputations whose mission appears to be to maximize submission fee revenue from musicians without providing transparency for the artists, or any objective measures of an artist’s chances of getting a deal. Additionally, these sites pitch themselves to industry professionals as a way to make extra cash. And while Music Xray shares submission fees with the industry professionals who host the opportunities, our primary purpose is to help those professionals find the best music. If, as a professional, your goal on Music Xray is to make extra cash, you probably shouldn’t be on Music Xray.
The poor reputation of these other sites effects Music Xray and it makes the name brand companies reticent to have their brands listed on our site.
So effective immediately, we will be removing the profiles of industry professionals who also have profiles on certain other sites. It’s just too damaging to our reputation. We will of course offer a grace period to these professionals and we will contact them privately to notify them of this policy. But no further payouts will be made to those professionals for as long as their profile remains on the other sites – unless of course they provide evidence that their profile is on the offending sites against their will.
Additionally, there are legacy sites in this space, that have been around for years, but again those primary mission does not align with the transparent, efficient filtering system Music Xray is building. One of our challenges in the market has been to show musicians that Music Xray is different, and that our interests are aligned with the professionals and the musicians alike. There truly has not been anything like Music Xray.
We have invested much time, energy, money, and focus on insuring that Music Xray is not confused with these legacy sites and while we would not remove an industry professional from Music Xray for having their profiles on some of these other sites that we know to be legitimate, having those profiles there still creates confusion in the market, causing Music Xray to need to spend more resources to differentiate ourselves in the eyes of the musician community.
So also effective immediately, we will reduce by 30% the compensation offered to industry professionals on Music Xray who choose to not remain exclusive.
It’s important that I make the point that this is not an attempt by us to limit industry professionals in any way. It is simply the policy that makes most sense for our company to both preserve the top brands and most reputable players in the business who are genuinely interested in finding top songs and talent. Those are really the only type of professionals for whom Music Xray is meant.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can clarify this policy for you or if you’d like to discuss any aspect I may not have covered here.
As always, Music Xray is committed to being the very best at what we do and to maintaining the highest levels of trust and transparency in the ecosystem.
Music Xray’s primary job is to find the needles in the haystack. A needle is any song or act deserving of being selected for any opportunity throughout the industry. Diagnostics insures we gather the information to enable us to do our best.
What is Diagnostics? Diagnostics is a one-time per song purchase that costs $10 and must be purchased for each song that is submitted directly to any opportunity or any industry professional on the site. Once Diagnostics has been purchased for a song it becomes “Diagnostics Exempt” and may be submitted to an unlimited number of opportunities without ever being required to purchase Diagnostics again.
Diagnostics serves two purposes:
1. It tells you where your music stands compared to other music that may be competing for similar opportunities. It generates recommended next steps based on the industry and fan reaction. And perhaps most importantly, it shows you the likelihood your music will be selected for an opportunity via the site, assuming you employ a best-practices submission strategy.
2. It tells the industry where your music stands and how to find it. Because Diagnostics enables us to gather enough information about your music to make it easily searchable for industry professionals in our industry-only search & discovery engine called Needlestack. This increases the chances your music has of being discovered by industry professionals who conduct searches for music with specific characteristics, such as high production quality, interesting hooks, mood, topic, etc.
We cover both purposes in detail below.
Purpose 1: To tell you where your music stands…
See the key for each item below the graphic:
A. The number of professionals who have heard and rated this song (at least 5 professionals rate the song upon your first submission – serious professionals from among our over 1500 professional users currently seeking songs and talent, so if the song blows one of them away, a deal or relationship may ensue and often does).
B. The average of the ratings received from industry professionals.
C. Where the song stands among all other songs that have been rated on Music Xray (hundreds of thousands).
D. The percentage of potential fans who after hearing the song for the first time became a direct fan (which provides that fan’s email address and Facebook profile link to the musician). As part of your first transaction with us, we send the song to a pool of 20 potential fans we’ve identified based on the fan’s music taste. We have a pool of tens of thousands of fans (and growing fast) who have signed up on Music Xray to discover new bands and songs.
E. Typically, we target potential fans from that pool for you (when there’s a match between the song and the fan’s taste profile) for $0.33 per fan. If 100% of those fans convert to direct fans of yours, the cost per acquired fan would be $0.33, but at a 35% conversion rate, that cost is $0.92 per acquired fan. A 35% conversion rate is not bad at all! The cost reflected here is what real contactable fans will likely cost you if you were to continue targeting fans on Music Xray. It’s up to you to decide what is acceptable to pay per acquired fan, based on your ability to monetize their fan base.
F. Based on the information in A. B. C. D. & E., we tell you the likelihood your song will be selected for an opportunity on the site. To reach this result, Music Xray uses machine learning algorithms and statistical probability calculations. It also requires the artist to employ a “best practices submission strategy”. To learn what that is and how we calculate the results, click here.
G. Based on the information in A. B. C. D. & E., we provide recommended next steps for submissions to opportunities and the industry professionals behind them. If the results are not encouraging, we recommend not to submit the song to further opportunities and sometimes we recommend you get song help improving the song. We make many top industry professionals on the site available to offer song critiques and career coaching.
H. Based on the information in A. B. C. D. & E., we provide recommended next steps for fan acquisition. If the data is not encouraging, we often recommend not continuing using the song to acquire fans.
I. This is the song activity chart that tells you what is happening with your song on the site at any time. Did you acquire a new fan? Was your song heard by an industry professional? Was your song displayed in a search result etc.
Purpose 2: To make your music searchable for the industry…
Music Xray offers industry professionals access to a sophisticated search engine called Needlestack Music Search.
Every day professionals use this search engine to find the best new music on the site. They usually do this by first seeking certain characteristics such as mood or a certain lyric phrase, or bpm – which are things you enter as meta data for your song. But then they filter for quality, so they look for songs that at least a few industry professionals have heard and that obtain good ratings on things like composition, productions, and hit potential. Each professional can decide which attributes are important and adjust the filters accordingly to find they songs that match their criteria.
Most professionals set the filters in Needlestack to display only the songs that have been heard by at least 5 industry professionals.
In other words, if your song hasn’t been heard by at least 5 professionals, it is unlikely to be found. That’s why Diagnostics obtains 5 industry ratings immediately for your song, upon your first transaction on the site. And this is showing results. About half the deals between artists and the industry on Music Xray occur due to Needlestack music search.
Below is an image of Needlestack. Notice the search criteria settings. This particular search is showing:
All the energetic pop songs sung by females with a BPM range between 10 and 300 that in the past month have been heard by at least 5 industry professionals and that have received average ratings of at least 4 out of 5 stars on all criteria (composition, production, arrangement, performance, and hit potential.
Show me all the energetic pop songs sung by females with a BPM range between 10 and 300 that have been heard by at least 5 industry professionals in the past week and that get an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars on all criteria.
According to Wikipedia, Stuart Epps is a British record producer and audio engineer.
Since 1967, he has worked with many artists, including: Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Oasis, Twisted Sister, Bill Wyman, Kiki Dee, George Harrison, Robbie Williams, Mark Owen, Paul Weller, Cliff Richard, Bad Company, Barry White and Chris Rea.
He has contributed to many records and has been associated with many popular hard rock records by such bands as Twisted Sister, Wishbone Ash, Bad Company, Vandenberg, The Firm, Jagged Edge UK and Shooting Star.
Besides his work with Led Zeppelin, Epps has been involved in other projects with their guitarist Jimmy Page as well as on many occasions with Rolling Stone member Bill Wyman.
He now dedicates his time to producing Independent artists and nurturing new talent.
It’s understood that musicians compete on Music Xray for industry opportunities, but it’s not quite as intuitive to understand how industry professionals on Music Xray compete for the top songs and talent.
While all industry professionals can use Music Xray’s advanced search tools to find songs and talent for their opportunities, the only way to guarantee they will hear and consider a particular song is to submit it directly to them. That is also the industry’s preferred method of discovering music – they want it to come right to their ears via their Music Xray inbox.
As a result, Music Xray gets a lot of requests from industry professionals to feature their opportunities more prominently on the site, or to feature the opportunity in one of our email blasts, or to promote it via our social media channels. So, I thought it was a good time to explain how we decide which opportunities get the most visibility on Music Xray and the decision making process around it.
When determining which opportunities to feature, we consider four things:
1. Attractiveness of the opportunity. Opportunities with higher dollar payouts get more visibility than opportunities with lower payouts.
2. Proximity to the decision maker. We give higher visibility to opportunities where the industry professional who lists the opportunity is the decision maker, works on the decision maker’s team directly, or has some involvement in the final decision. If the industry professional will be pitching the selected songs and acts to someone else for consideration, the opportunity will get less visibility.
3. Past success with Music Xray artists. Industry professionals who can point to past success stories with Music Xray musicians will receive higher visibility for their opportunity listings on Music Xray.
4. Submission fee price. All else being equal, we give more visibility to opportunities with lower submission fees.
Let’s say there are two nearly identical sync license opportunities listed on Music Xray. Let’s say both are looking for romantic love songs. Let’s say both are for big movies. Let’s say both have a $50,000 payout and let’s say both of the listing professionals are the final decision makers in the process. But opportunity A has a submission fee of $10 while opportunity B has a submission fee of $20.
Why is it better for Music Xray to give more visibility to opportunity A?
Keep in mind that Music Xray’s job is to be a filter for the industry. We help the industry find the needles in the haystack. But, we can only find the needles in the portion of the haystack we can access. With a $20 submission fee, fewer musicians will put their music into our system, meaning we might miss some great music. Or, perhaps the musician only had $20 to spend on Music Xray that week. From a filtering perspective, we would rather they be able to take two shots for that amount rather than one – and we’d prefer to have two songs come onto the platform rather than one.
Another way to look at it is that the industry professional with the $10 submission fee is essentially telling Music Xray that they are willing to do more screening at a lower cost than the professional with the $20 fee. All else being equal, both the musician and Music Xray are getting more value from the professional with the lower fee.
By creating an eco-system where competition on both sides is key, we’re able to keep costs low and efficiency high.
As a user, you of course can decide how many industry submissions to make and to whom. However, keep the following in mind:
If you have great music, don’t give up too soon!
Music Xray’s Selection Prediction Indicates a song’s likelihood of being selected for by the industry an opportunity on Music Xray. It is based on the assumption that a song will be submitted to at least 20 opportunities.
Even the best music gets rejected multiple times before sync deals are landed.
You know that, and if you don’t, check out the rejection letters at the bottom of this post.
While Music Xray can optimize your chances of having a song selected or landing a deal for your band, Music Xray doesn’t necessarily change the nature of the music business. More often than not, music is rejected. The music that gets selected was also initially rejected. It’s true in nearly every case. It is simply unreasonable to expect your song or band to land the deal you’re seeking without giving that song a reasonable chance.
Many musicians, with music that is deserving of a deal get frustrated too early. One or two labels and a couple of supervisors turn them down and they give up. And while we would love to provide you with a prediction score based on only 5 to 6 submissions – the fact is only a small amount of music gets selected after so few industry professionals hearing it. In order to provide any predictive accuracy, our system assumes the song will be shown to at least 20 professionals. To understand more about how we come up with the predictions, click here.
Twenty submisions may seem like a lot, but it’s important to put it into perspective. Never before in the history of the music business could anyone get their music in front of 20 real opportunities for anywhere close to the cost on Music Xray – both in terms of time and money. Even the methods that to you may feel free (like networking on Facebook & LinkedIn to find the opportunities) is very costly those methods don’t get all the other added benefits of Music Xray. Click here for some more perspective on that. Click here to understand some of the full benefits of Music Xray.
Click here to understand the traditional costs of getting your music heard.
Music Xray is a music industry filter, and by helping the industry identify the needles in the haystack we’re providing the best service possible to emerging artists, songwriters, producers, and musicians in general. Because we focus on being the best filter, Music Xray has many many MANY times the industry engagement of all the other sites that claim to do for musicians what Music Xray does.
So use negative feedback, ratings and Selection Prediction scores to make adjustments to your music and your submissions strategy. But if the reaction is positive, don’t give up too soon.
A rejection letter sent to Madonna
A rejection letter sent to Paul Hewson (aka Bono of U2).