Music that moves me

People are passionate about music. We are, you are, your consumers are - we all share that passion: We all have a favorite artist or song, or music that always reminds us of an event in our life, of a time and a place, or of people. We invite you to participate by commenting on our posts and by writing us about music that moves you.

Neurotic Media’s CCA Music Showcase

Join us for Neurotic Media’s CCA Music Showcase This Sunday – featuring The Grahams!

The GrahamsWhen: CCA Chairman’s Reception, Sunday September 15, 7-10PM

What a better way to kick-off your Annual Convention experience than a poolside celebration at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.  Networking opportunities abound as CCA’s Chairman, Michael Prior, welcomes everyone to CCA’s Annual Convention!  Don’t miss a special musical performance by The Grahams!

The Grahams combine soulful bluegrass with hints of earthy Americana, adding colors from both traditional folk and country blues, into an infectious blend of storytelling.  It is sure to be a ‘do not miss’ performance!

Announcing Atlanta’s First Music Startup Academy

Music Startup AcademyJoin us, together with co-presenters NARM/digitalmusic.org, on October 4 as we bring the Music Startup Academy to the GTRI Conference Center in Atlanta GA!

This full-day course has been hailed as a great industry primer for musicians, marketers, entrepreneurs, junior level executives, technology teams, marketers, and business development teams looking for fresh new ideas. This talent pool is rarely available for such an affordable price – possible here thanks to all involved volunteering time and resources to provide students and entrepreneur with an affordable platform.

The exciting agenda includes keynotes from Coca-Cola and Priceline executives, as well as panelists from Turner, IdeaDen, SESAC, Sony, Warner Music Group, and more!

Space is limited, so please secure your seat early at http://msa-atl.eventbrite.com/.

 

Take a look at the agenda below and be sure to reserve your seat:

9 AM
Coffee & Networking

10 – 10:30 AM
Opening Keynote

  • Jeff Hoffman, co-founder Colorjar; serial entrepreneur, including founder and CEO of priceline.com and producer of the hit horror film Cabin Fever; advisor to The National Council on Innovation & Entrepreneurship

10:30 -11:15 AM
Music Business 101: Content Ownership And Monetization
The music business at its core is not about selling CDs, downloads, or subscriptions, but about selling intellectual property – IP – in various configurations and monetization schemes. However music is packaged, presented and sold, there are several stakeholders with legal rights to portion of the revenue. In Music Business 101 we will cover the basics of IP ownership and how the different parties interact with one another and with other segments of the industry.

  •  Moderator: Shachar Oren, Neurotic Media
  • David Barbe, University of Georgia Music Business Program
  • Yi Ping Ho, Warner Music Group
  • Peniece M. LeGall, SESAC
  • Shawn Nolan, Jonathan E. Leonard, P.C.

11:30 AM – 12:15 PM
The Digital Supply Chain: How To Source Music Digitally
Offering licensed music in a store, an app, or a subscription utility involve a lot more than just negotiating and signing a license contract. On the heels of such an achievement, a new business needs to consider the operational aspects of content ingestion and maintenance. There are multiple options available, from doing it all yourself to outsourcing it to a vendor. We will address the basic concepts and action points involved and how they affect your bottom line.

  • Moderator: Bill Wilson, NARM/digitalmusic.org
  • Alison Booth, Sony Nashville
  • Todd Jones, Neurotic Media
  • Christopher Read, Sony DADC

12:15-1:15 PM
Lunch

1:30-2:15 PM
Music Marketing: What Goes Into An Artist’s Successful Marketing Strategy
A significant portion of the “new music economy” that is emerging this decade is built around directly serving the needs of the artist. With distribution itself no longer being an obstacle, the real challenge for an artist today is getting noticed. While large record companies assemble or create their own technical toolsets and leverage deep pockets for marketing and PR, independent labels and artists lean on various start-ups that provide a growing number of DIY tools. On this panel, we will explore what it takes for an artist to successfully market an album and to build a carrier, and the role technology plays in it today.

  • Moderator: Shachar Oren, Neurotic Media
  • Sterling Bacon, Red Light Management
  • Dale Manning, IdeaDen
  • John Stringer, Musician, IndieHitMaker.com
  • Bradley Tomlinson, Reach Records

2:05-2:30
Second Keynote

  • Joe Belliotti, head of Global Music Marketing in the Worldwide Sports, Entertainment & Partnership Team, The Coca-Cola Company

2:30 – 3:15 PM
Music & Brands: Driving Engagement With Music Fuels Innovation And Revenue
With the demise of music retail, brand partnership has grown in significance this decade as a critical revenue source for many artists. Music is a great engagement tool for brands, driving price point, perception, and ultimately purchase. It allows brands to develop a lifestyle, emotional connection with their consumers. Most Fortune 500 brands use music in activities covering advertising, reward programs, and incentives – driving engagement, consumer insights and product purchase. We’ll hear from some of the stakeholders in this economical food chain about what fuels their music business.

  • Moderator: Nikki Barjon, The Barjon Group
  • Joe Belliotti, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Nick Purdy, Paste Magazine
  • Janet R. Wade, Turner Entertainment Group

3:30 – 4:15 PM
Georgia Tech Center For Music Technology Presentation
Presented by Dr. Gil Weinberg, Director of the GA Tech Center for Music Technology, the presentation will focus on music technology entrepreneurship – a field that brings together artistic creativity, technological innovation, and business acumen. Dr. Weinberg will present new musical instruments and robots he developed at MIT Media Lab and Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology and will explain how entrepreneurs bring these products to market.

4:30 – 5:15 PM
Start-up Corner: Learn From Peers About What Works And What Doesn’t
For every success story in music and high-tech there are dozens of stories about failed start-up attempts. We invited several local music industry start-ups to share their “war stories” with us, how did their start-up come about, get funded, and grew to its present stage. Learning from past mistakes and past success stories is invaluable to any entrepreneur who seeks to launch a successful business in this space.

  • Moderator: Lisa Love, Georgia Department of Film, Music and Digital Entertainment
  • Jamie Dwyer, TicketAlternative
  • Simon Horrocks, Affix
  • Brian McCourt, FreeAllMedia
  • Mike VanBeneden, Mowgli/Songster

5:30 – 6 PM
Show Me The Money: How Can Businesses Lead To ROI
Music start-ups have been funded over the years by multiple stakeholders, from angel investors and institutional investors to industry-insiders such as artists, producers, executives, and record companies. In this panel, we will discuss what motivates potential funding sources to make a favorable decision about a funding opportunity.

  • Moderator: Tino Mantella, Technology Association of Georgia
  • Randall Foster, FOCUS Investment Banking LLC
  • Tuff Yen, The Seraph Group

 

Demystifying e-Commerce

In this blog post, Shachar Oren discusses what e-commerce merchant banking charges comprise of, what is involved operationally in conducting a transaction, and how to develop a strategy that is right for your business.

 

Shachar OrenOnline Merchant Banking is handled by banks and their gateways (a “gateway” is the technical systems used to facilitate transactions between a site and the bank). Some retailers interact with both parties (meaning, they sign a deal with a bank to process e-commerce transactions, and separately sign a deal with a gateway of choice such as Authorize.net), while other retailers work directly with banks who include the gateway function as a value-add within the bank offer (all under one agreement).

COSTS:

There are two main charges involved in your conventional online transaction:

1. Authorization fee (charged for the gateway service): This is a flat-fee for the function of looking up a credit card number and authorizing that the amount the retailer seeks to transact is available to be charged to the shopper.

2. Credit card fee (charged for the banking service, and also called “credit card discount” by banks): This fee is a percentage of the total amount of the transaction/purchase being made. Rates vary depending on (a) card, i.e. American Express and Discover tend to cost more than Visa and Master Card; (b) the retailer’s credit line (i.e. history and risk profile with the merchant bank); and (c) the total yearly volume of business the retailer represents for the bank.

There are additional operational costs involved, such as setup fee and monthly service fees, which are marginal in the big scope of things.

The last cost component to remember about merchant banks is the “Charge Back” fine they each itemize. If there is ever a dispute about a fraudulent or wrong charge, the bank invites you to justify it and reference your terms of Service for it. If you LOSE a case, the bank will debit you the amount they are refunding the consumer PLUS a fine (usually $10-$20 per occurrence). It is therefore imperative you include proper security measures and proper ToS on your site to avoid running into any issues.

The owner of the merchant bank account is the “Merchant of Record” that is responsible for any/all tax liabilities involved with e-commerce sales. Tax liabilities therefore apply based on the tax nexus caused by the owner of the bank account being used.

OPERATIONS:

Two technical steps are in the core of an e-commerce transaction:

1. The authorization of the charge: When a charge is “authorized” via the gateway (retailer’s system sends a request, gateway processes it and responds with approval or denial), it means that the amount the retailer inquired about is available at the shopper’s credit card account. This also places a temporary “hold” for that amount on the shopper’s card (thus reducing the shopper’s “available balance” temporarily by that amount).

Temporary holds clear out automatically within a day or two (depending on each bank’s practices) if the amount is never “captured” (this is explained next).

You may have ran into this process yourself when renting a car for a week and being asked by the car rental company to sign on a thousand dollar security hold “just in case you don’t return with it” sort of thing. When you return the car, the rental place tosses away your authorization details. They never process a “capture” so you are never actually charged anything.

2. The “capturing” of the charge: This is when the amount is actually processed and debited from the shopper’s credit card – meaning, the transaction is going through. You can capture less than and up to the amount pre-authorized, but you can’t capture more than the amount authorized. In order to capture more, you’d need an additional, second authorization for the additional amount sought in the larger transaction. For example, if you authorized $10.00, than you can capture anything from $0.01 to $10.00, but you can’t capture $10.50 – to achieve the latter, you’d need to ask for another authorization of at least another $0.50.

Upon capturing an amount against the authorization ID, the original authorized “hold” amount ID is “cleared” and there’s no more record on hold on that shopper’s credit card. The purchase now shows as the final and accurate sum that was captured.

It is possible to run both authorize + capture requests simultaneously in one “call” (one API call to the gateway). This is what normally happens in a brick & mortar retail store for example, since there is no reason for a physical retailer to delay the processing of funds for a product that is leaving the store.

It is also possible to run the authorization first, and run the capture at a later time as a separate call to the gateway. The example I provided above with the rental car “security hold” is one example of how this method can be utilized. The car rental dealership has a hold of X on your credit card, and if you ruin the car, can charge up to that hold amount to your card to refund their losses from you.

APPLYING THIS TO DIGITAL GOODS:

At Neurotic Media, we leverage the separation of “Authorization” from “Capture” for what we call “Daily Transaction Aggregation”. When the shopper first orders a $0.99 song, we authorize that + $5.00 at the bank level, for a total hold of $5.99. At midnight, we total all daily transactions and run a “batch-capture” file. If the same shopper ordered 3-4 songs for the day, they all get captured against the original $5.99 authorized amount. For example, if the shopper ordered 3 songs that day, for $2.97 total, then we capture $2.97, and the balance of that pre-authorized amount goes off-hold and disappears.

Benefits:

  • The authorization fee itself only hits the retailer once. It is paid on the initial authorization and therefore could be amortized across several songs, instead of being invoiced repeatedly once per song order.
  • The shopper’s credit card shows the final number for the day, not each and every item ordered. In the example above, the credit card statement will show the shopper a total daily purchase of $2.97 worth of downloads, instead of three $0.99 rows.
  • The shopper gets only one email receipt for that captured order for the day, listing the items purchased (as opposed to an email per item).

ESTABLISHING THE RIGHT STRATEGY FOR YOUR BUSINESS:

Neurotic Media offers many flexible e-commerce engagement options:

  1. Use of our default merchant banking account (“Neurotic Media” is listed on shoppers’ credit card statements)
  2. Open and manage an account we own and operate and D/B/A “you” – which means your name is what shows on shoppers’ credit card statements
  3. Integrate your own gateway and bank into our e-commerce suite so all the monies flow to you directly
  4. Use our API suite to integrate us into your existing system and sell our products while continuing to use your existing shopping cart

EVALUATING BANKING OFFERS:

Most merchant banking charges involve an authorization fee of $0.20 or more, and a credit card rate of 2.8%-3.5%. This would obviously be very high for a simple $0.99 transaction – since you’re looking at about 23c on the dollar.

Several years ago, merchant banks introduced the “micro payment” model: They charge less for the authorization and more for the credit card use. For example, an authorization fee of $0.10 or less, and a credit card rate of 4% or more. This is obviously more “retailer-friendly” for small transactions, since you’re looking at about 14c on the dollar.

We actually crunched the numbers and figured out that a transaction of $4.50 and under is where the micro-payment makes most sense, while transactions above $4.50 might as well use the traditional model.

Regardless, it is obvious how Daily Transaction Aggregation helps reduce the impact of the Authorization Fee on a per-song basis, and since most shoppers purchase 3-7 songs at a time, the impact of merchant banking fees is greatly reduced by this technique.

Of course, if you are using a traditional Shopping Cart work-flow, aggregation happens within the checkout workflow itself and you may see no benefit in Daily Transaction Aggregation. The latter is fit for wallet/account based systems, which we often prefer to see in use. They offer considerably less click-thru steps on the path to a download than does a cart system.

As always, we stand ready to help answer any questions, just ping us for a call.

(Shachar Oren, CEO)

My First SX

SxSW 2013 Austin TX

I’d been hoping to attend SxSW for some time, and this year, I was determined to make it happen. I had my transportation and my accommodations. I consulted others that had attended prior and even read articles on how to “survive.” I was totally prepared. I’ve been to countless other music festivals, so this wasn’t going to be any different.

I’ll start by saying that SxSW 2013 is one of my favorite memories and was worth every minute, but as others explained, your first one often ends up being much more of a learning experience than you’d probably expect. Instead of focusing on the music that moved me this trip, I thought you would be better served with a bit of advice so you can learn from my experiences and be sure to catch the music that moves YOU at the next SXSW.

Wear comfortable shoes.

I thought my shoes were comfortable, but I hadn’t tried walking miles and miles in them. Running a 5k in your cute shoes is probably a good preparatory activity. I didn’t realize how much walking you could do in one week. By the third day when I was hobbling around, I’m pretty sure everyone knew I wasn’t a veteran.

Stay close to the action.
Becka Hardy
When your cab money starts adding up and it becomes increasingly harder to actually get one, you’ll thank me. I spent a lot of time learning about and understanding the city, which should come in handy in the future.

You won’t see everyone you wanted to see, and it’s better to accept that from the beginning. It’s impossible. With everyone playing at the same time all over the city, and especially if you don’t have a badge or wristband and have to wait in lines wrapping around the venue, it’s just not realistic. Make a (very) tentative schedule ahead of time, it’ll save you frustration later.

You and I both will be more prepared next go around.

But that said, I loved Austin. It was my first time there, and it’s a really great city based on my week there. I was able to catch one of our current interns’ band, Pillage & Plunder. I met up with an old roommate. I was able to see several of the artists that I had hoped to catch including Lord Huron, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, and Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt. I discovered a few new favorites, saw live music on the top deck of a boat, and I ate more tacos in one week than average. That alone was completely worth it.

(Becka Hardy – Neurotic Media Label Relations & Account Management)

A cleansing experience at SxSW

Every March, an enormous amount of commotion takes place in the beautiful city of Austin, Texas. The cause? The South By South West Music Festival.

Pillage & Plunder at a club

As someone defined by the experience of listening to and performing music, it was inevitable that my knucklehead friends and I would throw ourselves into a vehicle crammed with our instruments and drive out to Austin. We didn’t necessarily go to be discovered—we just felt like we had to. Seeing videos of big names like Muse, Snoop Lion, Justin Timberlake, and Jay-Z abandoning stadiums to perform at tiny venues like Stubbs or Batbar introduces the astonishing idea of a level playing field between larger-than-life artists and the indie artists aspiring to join their ranks.

 

 

Pillage & Plunder play a street

I’ve performed with my band Pillage & Plunder at seven different SxSW showcases (and multiple street corners in between) over the last two years. We’ve had an incredibly wide range of experiences at the festival. We were bought breakfast by complete strangers who wanted to show us some Austin hospitality. We were guilted into humoring religious fanatics, trying to explain to them that we were not too intimidated by the prospect of hell and eternal suffering, thank you very much. We encountered veteran Japanese rockers Electric Eel Shock performing naked on the outskirts of Austin to a bewildered audience.

 

Pillage & Plunder's empty trailer

The good times were plenty—but as the word “range” implies, we also ran into trouble.  We woke up halfway through our second trip to find our trailer door open and all of our musical equipment stolen. The incident even made local news. We got the police involved, but unfortunately for now nothing seems to have turned up. That was $16,000 of guitars, amps, mics, drums, and memories that we probably won’t be getting back. Stings.

I don’t know what to make of SXSW. I was already confused about music and its place in my life, but I returned to Atlanta with more questions than answers. I came back knowing that my feelings for music and performance are strong, but the true nature of those feelings is still a mystery. Are they a want, a love, a need? I cannot tell. Some days I feel as though I’ve reached a point where music is like water or air to me—absolutely essential to my survival, yet gradually beginning to lack the allure and excitement of other distractions in my life.

However, I feel as though my trip to SxSW has given me solace and a new direction. I now have immediate obstacles and challenges to tackle. My new guitar—technically my old guitar, since I ordered the same one I lost—has just arrived, and when I hold it for the first time, I hope to see it as the first step in a rebuilding process. Perhaps the festival punished me for getting too comfortable, and for growing accustomed to things coming easily in my music and my life. Music has ways of putting individuals in their place, and rewarding those who work hard to improve their connection with it. I feel as though the festival has exposed my lack of belief in myself and in my music, and my secret hope that there were shortcuts to achieving that beautiful relationship with music that any songwriter, composer, or performer craves.

SxSW 2013 cleared me out, cleaned me up, and has made me want to take the time to properly reconnect with my music and my passion. Hopefully we’ll show ‘em next year.

(Gokul Parasuram, Intern)