STAR man: Society Of Ticket Agents & Retailers boss Jonathan Brown talks tickets

It was a very different ticketing industry that confronted the Society Of Ticket Agents & Retailers (STAR) upon its formation 20 years ago. The internet-dominated model of the 21st century was yet to take shape, with the market still reliant ...

Airplay analysis: Everything you need to know about 2016's market shares & on-air trends

Radio was placed squarely under the spotlight in 2016. As streaming enjoyed its biggest year to date, questions were inevitably raised over radio’s place in the modern market and its ability to set the new music agenda. Here, Music Week analyses 2016’s radio airplay key market trends, label market shares and the UK radio airplay Top 100.  Sony Music secured the biggest share of the radio airplay market in 2016 with 39.66%, stealing the crown from Universal Music Group, according to Radiomonitor. The major’s market share grew significantly last year, having previously claimed 28.94% of the market in 2015. In 2016 it claimed 39 of the Top 100 songs on the radio airplay chart and four of the Top 10. The main driving force behind Sony’s market share surge was an all-round improved performance from its RCA imprint, with Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop The Feeling! finishing at No.1 on the airplay Top 100. The song was played 195,238 times across 310 stations over the course of 2016, generating 1.95 billion impacts. It did, however, fail to match the total number of plays and impacts of 2015’s chart topper, Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk, which was played 205,868 times and achieved 2.27bn impacts over the year. Universal’s share was down from a market-leading 38.87% in 2015 to 33.09% in 2016. The company laid claim to 34 of the Top 100 songs and three of the Top 10 - its highest entry being DNCE’s Cake By The Ocean. Another notable driver for the company over 2016 was Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself. The song clinched the No.4 spot on the airplay charts garnering 133,232 plays over 254 stations and resulted in 1.38bn impacts. Meanwhile, Warner Music Group made up 21.83% of the market, down from 26.43% in 2015, and accounting for 22 of the Top 100 songs and two of the Top 10. The company’s highest charting track was Lukas Graham’s 7 Years. The song ended the year at No.8 in the UK radio airplay charts, generating 123,709 plays across 300 stations and accumulating a total 1.26bn impacts. The independents gathered a combined market share of just 5.42% last year, down marginally from 5.76% on the previous 12 months. The best performing indie outfit on radio in 2016 proved to be Kungs Vs Cookin’ On 3 Burners, whose song This Girl was the only independent release to grace the Top 10. Released on 3Beat, This Girl was played by 241 stations amassing a total play count of 133575 and 1.23bn impacts. At company level, RCA achieved the biggest airplay market share with 15.82%, up significantly from 6.75% in 2015. This rise in market share was largely due to big hits from the likes of Timberlake, Sia, Olly Murs and Zayn. Virgin EMI follows on 15.33% up from 14.05% in 2015, while Atlantic – last year’s market leading company - claimed the third largest market share in 2016 with 11.76%, down from 19.06%. Next in line was Island with 9.38% and Columbia with 8.50%. The remainder of the majors’ frontline imprints were: Polydor (8.39%), Syco (6.37%), Sony Music (5.48%), Warner Bros Records (4.46%), Parlophone (4.33%) and Ministry Of Sound (2.83%). In a year that has seen streaming gather pace at a seemingly inexorable rate, it’s worth looking at how some of the year’s biggest tracks performed on radio and how those performances translated into sales. Some 63 tracks registered a higher placing on the radio airplay Top 100 than they managed on the Official Charts Company’s year-end sales chart. Olly Murs’ Kiss Me charted at No.42 on the airplay chart yet failed to make the OCC’s Top 100 singles. Likewise, Ellie Goulding’s Still Falling For You achieved an airplay finish of No.23 but only just made the OCC Top 100, coming in at No.98. The year’s biggest single according to sales, Drake’s One Dance, racked up 15 consecutive weeks atop the Official Singles Chart, falling one week short of equalling Bryan Adams’ all-time record with (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. The track also topped the Official Charts Company’s year-end singles chart, yet could only manage a No.15 finish in the radio airplay Top 100, peaking at No.4 earlier in the year. Another Drake-related chart anomaly came in the form of Rihanna’s Work, on which he featured as a guest performer. The track finished the year at No.9 on the OCC’s year-end countdown, but only mustered a No.66 spot on the airplay chart. Meanwhile, Timberlake’s aforementioned radio airplay chart topper Can’t Stop The Feeling! had to settle for No.10 on the OCC’s year-end chart. Furthermore, radio also played its part in pushing British artists throughout the year. In total, 54 of the airplay Top 100 songs were either performed by or featured British talent. This is compared to just 39 of the OCC Top 100 singles. The highest charting UK entry on the airplay chart came courtesy of Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna with This Is What You Came For. The song ended the year at No.5, with 132,161 plays over 253 stations.

How The Box Plus Network can help break your new artist

While much of the music industry has spent the past few months exchanging tips lists, Matt Rennie and his Box Plus Network team have kept their heads down. Beavering away in their Victoria offices, managing director Rennie and his colleagues were putting the finishing touches to their new emerging artist campaign Box Fresh, which launches this month. Simply, the idea behind it is to get more raw talent onto the network, with the dual aim of boosting the acts and satisfying an audience hungry for new music. All the while delivering the visuals radio can’t. Rennie explicitly wanted to avoid drawing up a list and chucking it into the mix with the others. “We did the media merry-go-round last year with our tips, it’s not about that this time,” he says. “It’s about allocating budget, resource and schedule to a platform for new artists, to create an ongoing situation where artists and labels can come to us and we can say, Let’s give them a shot.” After the successful May 2016 rebrand of its new music channel Box Upfront – dedicated both to new artists and new music from established ones – Rennie cooked up the idea of a campaign to focus solely on undiscovered talent. “We’ve been researching our core audience, who are aged 16-24,” he says. “Discovery and finding out about new artists are key drivers of their music video consumption. Clearly this is an important part of why people come to us, it’s important to our record label partners and for us it’s commercially really viable. Most platforms recognise the value of new music - it’s big when you’re young and sharing new stuff with your friends is a big part of our culture.” The campaign launches officially on January 31, when a 60-minute show titled Box Fresh 2017 Spotlight will begin airing across the network, featuring live video footage and profile pieces on four artists Box Fresh is supporting, Fatherson, Tom Grennan, Declan McKenna and Jerry Williams. As well as Box Fresh artists featuring across the network’s established charts and programming, Rennie is introducing new elements to support them. He plans intimate, collaborative working relationships. Every week, Fresh On Friday will see an artist play a session and answer interview questions to be broadcast live on Facebook, to a potential weekly audience of millions. This, Rennie says, is where the network will aim to place younger or unsigned artists, whereas more established new acts will be eligible for Fresh Focus, a monthly performance and interview feature dedicated to a new artist. Last year, via Box Upfront – which will coexist with Box Fresh – the network filmed similar sessions with artists including Dua Lipa, Anne-Marie and Rag’N’Bone Man. Rob Clark, senior TV promotions manager at Sony Music UK, handles TV appearances for Rag’N’Bone Man, and says last September’s session was an important part of the campaign. “They stuck their neck out on him in July before things had taken off, and he’s not the most conventional fit for them so it was fantastic,” he explains. “It was his first TV [appearance] pretty much, so it was great experience.” Clark describes the network as “a great outlet for developing artists”. He laments fewer and fewer opportunities for TV exposure and says doing it via Box Plus is “a really good way to introduce artists and for them to cut their teeth in an area you want them to have experience in”. Beyond that, he adds, “I know certain people seeing that session helped us get other bookings down the line, it gave the momentum you sometimes need at the beginning of a campaign.” Rennie – whose previous employers include Global Radio and Warner Music – agrees that new artists have fewer options now. “It’s hard to break records now, there’s so much more noise and clutter, back when I started in the late ‘90s there were certain set routes to break talent, those are crowded out by social media and everything else now.” With that in mind, just how much value is there in his network launching Box Fresh? Is it worth it or will it just add to the noise? Rennie’s answer is emphatic. “Yes [it’s worth it]! We wouldn’t be putting so much behind it if we didn’t think that. For a platform like us with access to 15m people every month, I think labels and artists need people like us and Radio 1 and our other competitors to invest our time in helping artists cut through into the mainstream.” That said, Rennie acknowledges the difference between his company’s role and that of the record labels. “For them [labels] it’s not only getting an audience for new music but translating it into sales and that whole curve… We’re kind of privileged in that we just have to find music we like and our audience will like, and there’s lots of that out there.” And that last point is the reason Rennie is so animated about Box Fresh – the impression is of someone for whom the idea that we need to produce more talented artists is preposterous. “There’s still lots of talent out there,” he continues. “Translating it into sales is a separate issue, but I would definitely love some of the new artists we work with to get mainstream commercial success. That would be positive for the industry, when you consider how few artists had a No.1 single last year [11]…. Those things need to be looked at.” Rennie finishes by outlining how he’ll judge Box Fresh’s success. “That for me would be bedding in as a destination for new talent, where a growing audience come and find artists they like, put them in their Spotify or Apple playlists, go and see them live and then come back and uncover more.” It sounds simple enough.

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