Tuesday, May 21, 2019

How Game of Thrones Made Piracy History | TorrentFreak

Traditionally, the Game of Thrones season finale is among the most viewed episodes, also on pirate sites.

When the entire series comes to an end, interest is only heightened.

This is what happened indeed. While many people have been rather critical about the story-line of the final season, millions of people ‘tuned’ in, both through authorized and unofficial channels.

The official ratings shot through the roof, with 13.6 million US viewers during the official airing, which is also a new all-time record for an HBO show. On pirate sites, there was plenty of interest as well.

Millions of people pirated a copy. At the height, yesterday afternoon, more than 200,000 people were actively sharing the three most popular torrents, with the most popular one being good for 130,000 sharers alone.

While this is a massive number, it’s nowhere near the all-time record. That dates back to 2015, when over a quarter million people were simultaneously sharing a single file. This drop is in part because the piracy ecosystem has evolved.

Torrent sites used to be the main distribution platforms for pirated TV shows, but unauthorized streaming sites are much more popular today. These sites don’t make any viewing numbers public but are good for millions of ‘pirate’ views as well.

With this in mind, it is likely that the record of the largest BitTorrent swarm in history will never be broken.

The end of Game of Thrones wraps up one of the biggest continuing stories in file-sharing history. The HBO show was as crowned the “most pirated” TV-series for several years, and is likely to scoop up this title again in 2019, to secure its place in history.

Aside from the impressive numbers, Game of Thrones was also at the center of other piracy-related news and discussions, much of which we have discussed in detail here.

One key theme that reappeared year after year were the numerous leaks. The most prominent one dates back to 2015 when the first four episodes leaked from a promotional screener.

In 2017 a Game of Thrones episode leaked with a “Star India” watermark. This eventually led to the arrests of four people. Keeping up with this trend, several episodes came out early this year as well, and even before the final, the plot was already out.

The fact that pirates were often able to see GoT episodes before regular viewers only increased the piracy figures. This was also confirmed by academic research which found that these leaks bred pirates while hurting official viewing numbers.

Other major factors that played a role in the high piracy rates are ‘availability’ and pricing.

During the early seasons, Game of Thrones wasn’t as widely available as it is today. And even if it was, there were often significant release delays, up to several weeks. That drove many people, especially the bigger fans, to pirate sites.

Over the years the availability problem was addressed in many countries, but for many a pricing hurdle remained. Watching Game of Thrones legally, could in many cases cost hundreds of dollars per season, while the pirate alternative was free.

Ironically, even those who had eventually signed up for a legal subscription would sometimes continue to pirate, just out of habit. In Australia,  for example, 20% of the Foxtel subscribers who had already paid for Game of Thrones still chose to pirate the show instead.

In Australia, Game of Thrones piracy has been a hot topic for years. Due to early release delays and relatively high pricing, many chose the piracy route. This frustrated rightsholders and even the U.S. Ambassador, with the latter stating that there is no excuse for ‘stealing.’

Amidst all the controversy, HBO remained fairly calm. Yes, the company issued thousands of takedown notices and even warned some individual file-sharers, but that was about it. Some people did receive settlement demands in 2016, but that was the work of scammers.

Some people connected more directly to Game of Thrones also recognized the upside of piracy.  Director David Petrarca, for example, previously admitted that piracy generated much-needed “cultural buzz” around the series.

Similarly, Jeff Bewkes, in 2013 the CEO of HBO’s parent company Time Warner, noted that piracy resulted in more subscriptions for his company and that receiving the title of “most-pirated” TV-show was actually “better than an Emmy.

That’s a worthy statement to end with.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

[from http://bit.ly/148uEe4]

Ferrara Candy Co bets on ropes, juice and crunchy gummies for 2020 | Advertising Age

When they were kids, Greg Guidotti and his brother would time each other to see who could get from their Stamford, Connecticut, house to the Happy House variety store in the shortest amount of time to get candy. Guidotti fondly recalls his record-setting 93-second sprint and his treat of choice, Atomic Fireballs.

“it was running, and it was impressive,” says Guidotti.

His passion for Atomic Fireballs ran so deep that it was even the name of the band he played in as a kid. People showed up for concerts, perhaps less for the music than for the candy that Guidotti and his pals threw out into the crowd. Now, it’s his job to get other people to buy Fireballs and other candies. In March, Guidotti joined Ferrara Candy Company as general manager of its non-chocolate business.

On the latest episode of Ad Age’s Marketer’s Brief, Guidotti discusses Ferrara’s product lineup, from Atomic Fireballs to Fun Dip. New products, including Black Forest gummy bears with juicy centers and Trolli gummy worms with a crunchy coating, are being unveiled this week at Sweets & Snacks, the National Confectioners Association’s annual trade show.

Guidotti has spent the bulk of his career at consumer packaged goods companies, first at Kraft, then managing Duracell batteries globally. He returned to Kraft in 2012, where he worked on beverages, then on meals and most recently ran marketing for the Oscar Mayer meat portfolio before leaving Kraft Heinz earlier this year.

At Ferrara, he’s finding quicker timelines for product development, as the company is busy bringing out new flavors, shapes or other elements in its expanded portfolio.

Ferrara is now the third-largest U.S. confectionery company, behind Hershey Co. and Mars Wrigley, thanks in large part to acquisitions. Chicago-based Ferrara is owned by Luxembourg-based Ferrero Group, the company behind brands such as Tic Tac and Nutella. The April 2018 purchase of Nestlé’s U.S. confectionery business boosted the company’s presence. Ferrara says that it is on track for 11 percent sales growth in the former Nestlé non-chocolate business, which includes Sweetarts, Nerds and Laffy Taffy (It’s predicting 17 percent growth on the chocolate side, where brands include Butterfinger and Crunch.) A deal to buy brands such as Keebler cookies from Kellogg Co. is set to close at the end of July. Once complete, Ferrara’s annual sales will be about $3 billion, up from $1 billion about two years ago.

Ferrara’s data shows the overall non-chocolate category is up about 1.3 percent in the last 52 weeks, and up 5.6 percent in the last four weeks, while its own brands are up 1.4 percent and 9.8 percent over the same periods.

Nerds, up 15.5 percent in the last 52 weeks, is one of the biggest growth drivers. It’s a brand that's been around since the early 1980s and that is growing with existing products and newer ones, such as Big Chewy Nerds, named the most innovative new non-chocolate product at last year’s Sweets & Snacks. Sales of Nerds at stores were up 22 percent in the last 13 weeks, according to Ferrara’s data. “We’re going to be exponentially over our plan this year,” Guidotti says of Nerds.

Sweetarts, another brand acquired in the Nestlé deal, began running a “Be Both” campaign this year. In 2020, it plans to introduce its “Wonder Woman 1984”-themed product, a golden-colored tropical-flavored rope playing off the character’s golden lasso. “You want to make sure that your product speaks to the audience, it connects with the property and you actually do something that’s more than just something on the pack,” says Guidotti.

Spoiler alert: While Gal Gadot won’t be eating Sweetarts Ropes in the movie, another Ferrara brand, Appleheads, got a celebrity boost earlier this spring when Kim Kardashian posted about them on social media. Ferrara quickly sent her some packs and she posted a video on her Instagram story. And two years ago, Lemonheads were one of the candies that got screentime during the Oscars. 

While at Kraft Heinz, Guidotti led a campaign pointing out how Kraft macaroni and cheese was reformulated to appeal to today’s clean-label seeking consumers without people noticing. Even in candy, there are some products for people who want to feel a bit better about what they’re eating. Ferrara sells organic Black Forest gummies but doesn’t suggest they are anything more than indulgences. “At the end of the day, the candy is still a candy, and I think parents know that,” says Guidotti.

The confectionery industry has been presenting a more upfront approach when it comes to labeling its products. Larger packs are marked as meant to be shared, and many products are now being sold in individual servings of 200 calories or less.

“It is what it is; we say what we are,” says Guidotti. “And I think that we are unapologetic about what we do and how we do it, and I think that we are very transparent in our products across the board.”

[from http://bit.ly/2VwvxLm]

Justin Bieber to launch deodorant with Schmidt's Naturals | Advertising Age

Schmidt’s Naturals, fresh from launching a deodorant with Jane Goodall, is going a very different direction by inking a deal with Justin Bieber to launch a deodorant dubbed “Here + Now.”

The Bieber collaboration will launch globally both online and in physical stores this fall, said Schmidt’s CEO Michael Cammarata, making a bigger initial splash than the Goodall Lily of the Valley product, which started online and then moved into Whole Foods. Schmidt’s products have typically been sold online first, direct to consumer from Schmidt's website, before making their way into stores. Schmidt’s, acquired by Unilever in late 2017, will launch the Bieber scent as broadly as possible from the start.

Bieber and Goodall may seem like strange brand-fellows, but Cammarata sees the latest launch as a logical and important step for the natural deodorant brand.

“Here + Now has various meanings, but to me it’s about being present in daily life,” Cammarata says. “Schmidt’s started as a name, and it’s become more of a movement. We’ve proved natural does work. We don’t limit availability. We’re able to make natural products accessible. I think the partnership with Justin really shows the brand extends beyond a niche.”

Schmidt’s is also rolling out hemp-oil and CBD varieties this fall as it looks to tap just about every aspect of the market. More celebrity collaborations are down the road, Cammarata says.

He says Schmidt’s doubled sales last year and sees the acquisition by Unilever accelerating growth – giving lie to the suspicion that direct-to-consumer brands cash out when they envision their growth curves flattening.

Unilever has provided investment dollars and permitted global expansion in a year that might have taken five times as long as an independent, Cammarata says, or even had he stuck with his original plan of doing an initial public offering.

And Unilever executives stood out among strategic buyers who looked at the company by not only seeing Schmidt’s expansion plans as realistic, but even encouraging faster moves, he says.

United Talent Agency licensing agent Sid Kaufman and Bieber’s management helped put the deal together, Cammarata says. Other details will be released closer to the launch date in September or October, but he says the Bieber scent “is my favorite so far.”




[from http://bit.ly/2VwvxLm]

Merck Mercuriadis’s Hipgnosis Songs Fund buys Jamie Scott catalog | Music Business Worldwide

Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited has acquired a music catalog comprised of 144 songs from Jamie Scott, the UK songwriter and record producer responsible for 84 No.1, 188 Top 5 and 247 Top 10 Chart positions globally.

Hipgnosis has acquired 100% of Jamie Scott’s interest including all BMI and PRS income in his catalog. The founder of Hipgnosis, Merck Mercuriadis, tells MBW that the deal includes both the writer’s and publisher’s share of the music, and that Scott’s catalog will continue to be administered by Sony/ATV following the buyout.

As a writer and producer, Scott is responsible for ten UK No. 1 albums, four US No. 1 albums and four UK No. 1 singles. These are estimated to have sold over 75 million albums and 75 million singles globally in addition to being streamed over 7 billion times on Spotify.

Jamie Scott has co-written multiple platinum certified singles including the four times platinum certified ‘Cold Water’ by Major Lazer featuring Justin Bieber and the platinum certified ‘Skin’ by Rag’n’Bone Man. He has also co-written songs released by Ed Sheeran, Jess Glynne, Keith Urban, Callum Scott, Tom Odell, Birdy, Nelly Furtado, Michael Kiwanuka, 5 Seconds Of Summer, The Vamps, Little Mix, Olly Murs, Ella Henderson, Jessie Ware and Christina Perri.

“Jamie Scott has been the UK’s most consistent hitmaker of the last 10 years.”

Merck Mercuriadis

Scott has notably co-written 29 songs for One Direction, including the UK No.1 and US Top 10 track ‘Drag Me Down’ plus ‘Story of My Life’.

In addition, Scott co-wrote two singles from Niall Horan’s debut album ‘Flicker’: including the global Top 10 hits ‘This Town’ which reached No. 9 in the UK, and ‘Too Much To Ask’.

Scott’s latest released song, ‘These Days’ by Rudimental featuring Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen, reached No.1 in the UK after being at No.2 for a record-tying 7 weeks and is one of the biggest British singles of the last 18 months.

It has achieved more than 11 Number 1, 31 Top 5 and 34 Top 10 chart positions globally. It has also been nominated for the 2019 Ivor Novello award for ‘Most Performed Work’.

Merck Mercuriadis, Founder of The Family (Music) Limited and Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited, said: “Jamie Scott has been the UK’s most consistent hitmaker of the last 10 years.

“From 29 songs that drove the seminal boy band of their generation, One Direction, to Rag N’ Bone Man to this year’s Ivor Novello nomination with Rudimental featuring Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen, Jamie never fails to deliver. Nile Rodgers and I love working with him and Rick, and we are delighted to welcome them to the Hipgnosis family”.

Jamie Scott said: “I’m very excited to be part of the Hipgnosis family, Merck’s vision and understanding of the importance of the song in an artist’s career is incredible.”

“I’m very excited to be part of the Hipgnosis family, Merck’s vision and understanding of the importance of the song in an artist’s career is incredible.”

Jamie Scott (pictured, main)

Richard Wilson, manager to Jamie Scott, said: “It was a pleasure to deal with Merck and everyone at Hipgnosis. Merck is at the forefront of valuing what songwriters do for the music business, and realises that without them, we would not have one.”

Hipgnosis’s latest acquisition comes a month after it raised $185m with which to buy rights in the songwriter/publishing marketplace.

Since then, it has acquired 100% of Dave Stewart’s copyright interest in his catalog.

Since last summer, Hipgnosis has also acquired stakes in catalogs created by celebrated songwriters like Giorgio Tuinfort (David Guetta)Teddy Geiger (Shawn Mendes)The-Dream (Justin Bieber, Rihanna)Poo Bear (Chris Brown, Justin Bieber)Itaal Shur (Santana)Bernard Edwards (Chic)Tricky Stewart (Rihanna, Beyoncé) and TMS (Jess Glynne, Little Mix).

The company has also recently bought up rights to No.1 songs such as Yeah by Usher, Check On It by Beyoncé, We Belong Together by Mariah Carey and Be Without You by Mary J. Blige.

It also snapped up a music catalog from American songwriter, producer and singer Brittany Hazzard, aka Starrah.Music Business WorldwideMusic Business Worldwide

[from http://bit.ly/2kVf04A]

Monday, May 20, 2019

Tedeschi Trucks At The Orpheum | Lefsetz Letter

How can you be so good and nobody knows?

Used to be about the hit single. Hell, Tom Petty even wrote a song about it. You were outside the mainstream, you had fans, the key was to come up with something radio-friendly, even if you had to hire Desmond Child to co-write the song. Then again, that was about the last time rock was preeminent. Of course, there was the Seattle/grunge/indie scene of the nineties, but once we hit the twenty first century, the old paradigm was blown apart.

Acts like the Dave Matthews Band and Coldplay, never forget that their careers were goosed by videos banged on VH1, at the tail end of that outlet being about music.

And then came the collapse of radio. AOR split into Active Rock and Adult Alternative and the only people listening were oldsters, you couldn’t break a band there to stardom. You could break them into the echo chamber of holier-than-thou public radio listeners and “New Yorker” readers, but the tracks could not cross over to pop, the only format with traction, the only one that mattered, the only one that still matters. Top Forty was and still is about pop and hip-hop. And so are the major labels providing these wares, they only go where the money is.

And with the advent of Spotify, hip-hop became dominant, because hip-hop lived online and didn’t begrudge the new paradigm while all the rockers and oldsters couldn’t stop bitching about audience theft and low payments, not knowing that without an audience, you don’t have a career. Fans keep you alive, not fickle radio, not one-dimensional streaming, you’ve got to go directly to the fans.

To the point where the records don’t mean anything.

You don’t need to own a Tedeschi Trucks album, you just need to go to the show. Which is different every night.

Now the problem Derek Trucks has is his last name. People believe he got a pass because of his uncle Butch. But if his last name was Smith, or something else, anything but Trucks, the accolades would be raining down. He’s John Mayer but with a completely different personality and playing style. He doesn’t emote, he barely moves, there are no wringing facial expressions. And he never talks on stage, even though he’s fully capable of expressing himself off it. He just wails. It’s astounding, he’s world class.

Actually, last night he told Wayne that the audience was better than the band in the first set, and he had to rectify that. I don’t know if he rehearsed during the break, which he and the band frequently do, but from the very first note of the second set, Derek was wailing he was floating above the audience. The only reference point I can give you is “Statesboro Blues” from “Fillmore East.” You know, you’re sitting there complacent and you drop the needle, Derek takes the stage and whew, he and you are immediately into it. It’s like he casts a spell on you and you’re taken along for the ride.

And you’re enjoying it.

I’m loath to go see the usual suspects these days. I’ve seen them when they made it, on their comeback tour, on their cleanup tour… I want something new.

And if you go to the arena, other than Ed Sheeran, who’s in a class by himself, all you get is pre-programmed junk. It’s all about timing the production and Tedeschi Trucks has no production. Oh, you might see a bird or the moon on the backdrop, but really it’s all about the music.

Furthermore, cell coverage is nearly nonexistent at the Orpheum. So, other than people shooting video, phones are in pockets, you’re forced to watch the show.

So it’s like the days of old. During the quiet numbers you sit there contemplating your life, thinking about where you’ve been, where you’re going.

And yes, people were sitting, except when they were forced to stand up by the joy of the music. All that hogwash about the energy of GA (general admission for the uninitiated)… I don’t care what they say, it’s a way for promoters to squeeze more bodies in, even though they deny it. Then again, these are the same people who keep two sets of books, one for the act and one for themselves…which they have to to stay in business, since the acts demand outrageous guarantees.

But last night you could contemplate the music, you could go on a journey. It wasn’t an event, it was a party.

Everybody friendly.

And everybody aged.

Sure, there were some thirtysomethings there, but mostly it was Gen-X and baby boomers, the people who caught the Allmans and the Dead the first time around. “Vision Of Love” was thirty years ago, millennials and Gen-Z have never even been exposed to this music.

Call it jam band, but that’s not really accurate, there was almost no noodling, the act was tight.

Call it music. You remember music, don’t you?

So, they’ve been slugging it out for ten years. Building an audience. They did two sold out Orpheums, they could have done three, but if you’re not in the know, you don’t know.

That’s 2019.

Tedeschi Trucks has a deal with Concord. One of their albums debuted at number 11, two others at number 12 and 15. In the old days, they’d be rich, in the new days they’ve just got to go back on the road.

And it ain’t cheap. You’ve got the band, with its two drummers and keyboard player, and a horn section and backup singers. You can make more money by stripping it down, but you don’t create the same magic, and it’s the magic that gets people to buy tickets.

Now the music is kind of a cross of the Allmans and the Dead. You don’t know what you’re gonna get. And when the band broke into “Sugaree,” the assembled multitude jumped to their feet, this music is in their DNA.

But there were a lot of other surprises, like “Space Captain,” with the same arrangement as “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.”

So what I’m saying is despite more people making more music, the conversation is dominated by hip-hop and pop. Drake and Ariana Grande. And it’s not that they’re not successful, but acts in other genres are successful too, and these other acts make their nut by selling tickets, not streams. And that’s the world we live in. Where it’s all about the road.

And oftentimes once is enough.

But with Tedeschi Trucks, you’ve got to go every time, because you don’t know what you’re gonna get.

The fans know.

But we live in a media monoculture, which doesn’t square with the real world. Now, more than ever, there are acts not playing the radio/streaming game who have dedicated fan bases, big dedicated fan bases. You go to see Tedeschi Trucks and you’re elated, by the fact that in their world it’s the same as it ever was, with no hard drives and musicians who’ve paid their dues.

I guarantee you, if the youngsters went they’d get it. Hell, they might even be tempted to pick up a guitar. Because they’d want to be on stage, having fun. Sure, the road is a grind, but if you can play what you want as long as you want…now that’s something to look forward to every night.

It’s not nostalgia, it’s just a continuing thread.

This is not Blues Traveler on MTV having a hit and driving an audience, this is an act with no spotlight fighting it out in the trenches. To the point when you go, you can’t stop testifying about the experience. That’s part of the fun, spreading the word.

So Tedeschi Trucks gives me hope for music.

But it also launches an inner mounting flame inside me, a glimmer of light illustrating we may get back to where we once belonged, just you wait.

[from http://bit.ly/2k9aO1A]

The three types of scarcity tactics in music streaming—and why so few of them actually work | Water & Music

Happy Monday everyone!

Some updates before diving into this week's essay:

🗣 This Thursday, May 23, I'm moderating a panel at Music Ally's Sandbox Summit in NYC about the role of podcasts in music marketing, from the perspective of artists and labels. If you'll be around that day, please come say hi—and in the meantime let me know if there are any particular questions or topics you think we should discuss!

✍ I wrote an op-ed for Music Business Worldwide about how Instagram's new native e-commerce features could transform music marketing for good—but only if the music industry itself is willing to make a few changes in its priorities.

🎙 I had a great time as a guest on both Mike Warner's Streamline podcast and the Music Tectonics podcast, discussing my writing career and some of the latest music-tech news, respectively. (I also interviewed Mike Warner about playlist strategies for my own podcast back in March, which you can revisit here.)

🎥 I was interviewed for a Quartz subscriber-exclusive video about China's undeniable impact on the global music-streaming ecosystem, from TikTok to Tencent. It's a great primer on the Chinese music market, especially for those who aren't yet familiar; let me know if you'd like to watch the video and I can send over the guest log-in info.

🙏 A special thank-you to Aaron Davis and Kevin Alphonso for joining the $40/month tier of my Patreon page—your support is much appreciated! :)

[from http://bit.ly/2EBQi2V]

Certain Songs #1543: Peter Gabriel – “No More Apartheid” | Medialoper

Album: Sun City
Year: 1985

. . .

The final song on Peter Gabriel was a long, haunting dirge entitled “Biko,” which was all about the death of anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko in police custody in 1977.

And while it’s just a bit long and dirgy for me to love it as much as I loved other songs on that album, I didn’t really know what it was all about until I went back into it in the wake of a whole album that it directly inspired, Artists United Against Apartheid’s Sun City.

Artists United Against Apartheid was the brainchild of Steven Van Zandt, who had left the E Street band and was a couple of records into his own solo career when he’d decided to write about the apartheid regime in South Africa. Van Zandt has said that “Biko” was a song that stimulated his interest in the subject, and so when it came time to assemble the musicians to play on the “Sun City” song, Peter Gabriel was naturally invited.

And at some point, when the decision was made to put out a whole album — most of the songs variations on the main song — one of the songs included was “No More Apartheid,” credited to Gabriel and jazz violinist L. Shankar, who had played with musicians as disparate as John McLaughlin and Echo and The Bunnymen.

This is where it gets tricky: “No More Apartheid” wasn’t really a song, but — from what I can tell from my admittedly spotty internet research — was essentially constructed around a Gabriel vocal improvisation and possibly a drum loop he did, as well.

Then they added the rest of the instruments around it. So while there isn’t really any form or structure or lyrics outside of what I think is “no more apartheid / we don’t like it” the result is utterly hypnotic, no matter how big and 1980s the drums are.

But despite — or probably because — it’s a pure studio creation, there’s always a shitload going on: guitars and synths and strings buzzing in and out of the mix; overdubbed Gabriels chanting on top of each other, but totally anchored around a half-rock / half-hip-hop beat. It was admittedly a throwaway, but man, what a throwaway!

“No More Apartheid”

The Certain Songs Database
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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[from http://bit.ly/2lwcL5j]