Sony Inks Deal Pioneering Stem Licensing for DJs, Remixers

For years, to create remixes of popular songs, DJs and remixers have used stems — isolated instrument tracks and vocals — but not legally. Now, Nashville-based startup Remix Hits has signed a landmark deal with Sony Music that will allow DJs and other remixers to purchase and download licensed, and therefore legal, stems. Remix Hits, which is also in discussions with Warner Music and Universal Music, has created a hit song stem marketplace. The licensing model includes a revenue sharing plan for rights holders. Continue reading Sony Inks Deal Pioneering Stem Licensing for DJs, Remixers

Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

At the Microsoft Ignite annual IT event in Orlando, Florida this week, Microsoft announced it will soon debut a customer-service virtual assistant as part of its Dynamics 365 product line that will incorporate artificial intelligence. A user will be able to describe a problem in her own words, and the virtual assistant will answer by relying on user manuals, help documents and other materials. The customer can request a human, in which case the bot will assist the human customer service agent; a manager can view the result on a dashboard. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

AMC Invests $20M in Dreamscape, Plans to Open VR Centers

AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest theater chain, just invested $20 million in Dreamscape Immersive, a company that has been developing a virtual-reality multiplex for the last year-and-a-half for rollout in the U.S. and U.K. Other investors include Steven Spielberg, 21st Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros. Dreamscape’s team includes former chief of Disney’s theme park design, a “Men in Black” series producer, and a live event bigwig. With AMC’s investment, Dreamscape has amassed $40 million. Continue reading AMC Invests $20M in Dreamscape, Plans to Open VR Centers

Amazon’s NFL Deal Creates New Paradigm for Sports Rights

On September 28, Amazon will live-stream the first of 11 NFL “Thursday Night Football” games to its Prime Video members in over 200 countries and territories (excluding China). The last game, between Pittsburgh and Houston, will live-stream on Christmas Day. The event marks the beginning of an era in which technology titans, including Google and Facebook, vie with traditional broadcasters for the rights to major sports deals. The sports leagues are drawn to the global reach of the major technology companies. Continue reading Amazon’s NFL Deal Creates New Paradigm for Sports Rights

Amazon Launches Alexa on Music Apps to Attract New Users

Amazon, ranked third in streaming music, launched virtual assistant Alexa on its Amazon Music apps this week to better compete with No. 1 provider Spotify and No. 2-ranked Apple. Amazon Music will provide a button which users can push to access Alexa “play” commands that will work as they do on Echo. Amazon determined that Alexa is now the primary way that users listen to Amazon Music. Competitor Apple offers its virtual assistant Siri on Apple Music. Meanwhile, Google has decided to stop supporting the Amazon Echo Show on YouTube. Continue reading Amazon Launches Alexa on Music Apps to Attract New Users

YouTube Unveils Tools to Create Hundreds of Ads From One

Just in advance of Advertising Week, YouTube is debuting new advertising tools based on Ipsos research that people who watch online video ads are four times more likely to pay attention than to TV ads. The research also showed that promos played on YouTube garner twice as much attention as other social platforms. YouTube added new targeting options to its Custom Affinity Audiences tool, introduced in January. The targeting options, in addition to search, include downloaded apps or real locations customers have visited. Continue reading YouTube Unveils Tools to Create Hundreds of Ads From One

Facebook Debuts Cross-Platform Metrics Tools for Marketers

Advertisers will be able to improve their marketing campaigns with two new tools for measuring Facebook and TV metrics both separately and together. The new Facebook Cross-Platform Brand Lift, which will debut in 2018, and the Nielsen Total Brand Effect with Lift, already available in the U.S. and U.K., are particularly aimed at marketers moving from digital to cross-media advertising. The platform also allows Facebook to compete with Google’s Brand Lift for TV, which debuted a number of years ago. Continue reading Facebook Debuts Cross-Platform Metrics Tools for Marketers

Brands, Marketers Find Success With Snapchat’s Snapcodes

Users have caught on to Snapchat’s Snapcodes, the company’s version of QR codes, scanning over 8 million codes a day. Marketers like how Snapcodes connect traditional and digital advertising and provides data. Even though Snapcodes add production costs and uncertainty about results, Gatorade, Wendy’s and Evian are among an increasing number of brands using Snapcodes which, placed on products and ads, makes it easy for users to use their mobile phones to unlock custom branded filters, lenses, websites and games. Continue reading Brands, Marketers Find Success With Snapchat’s Snapcodes

Equifax Breach Spurs Call for Federal Laws on Transparency

The Equifax breach exposed millions of U.S. adults’ personal information, prompted Federal Trade Commission and FBI investigations, and spurred lawsuits by many states’ attorneys general. With the threat of even worse breaches in the future, companies will be urged to adopt better cybersecurity practices. But the Equifax breach is likely to have another result that tech companies won’t like: the need for transparency. Although 48 states have already passed data-breach disclosure laws, now federal regulations are proposed. Continue reading Equifax Breach Spurs Call for Federal Laws on Transparency

Facebook, Microsoft, Telxius Transatlantic Cable Is Complete

The new underwater cable between North America and Europe, built through a partnership between Facebook, Microsoft and Telxius (a subsidiary of Telefónica), is now complete. Dubbed Marea (Spanish for “tide”), the new 4,000-mile subsea cable runs at a depth of 17,000 feet under the Atlantic from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain and has been under construction since August 2016. Marea will offer a capacity of 160 terabits per second, and will help meet the demand for high-speed Internet and cloud services. Continue reading Facebook, Microsoft, Telxius Transatlantic Cable Is Complete

UN Civil Aviation Group Brainstorms Global Drone Standards

The United Nations’ 191-member state International Civil Aviation Organization held its first-ever symposium to solicit industry ideas on global operating standards for drones. Held at the ICAO’s Montreal headquarters, the two-day event was not aimed at establishing specific rules but rather to spur discussion and ideas among those already involved in the drone industry. Amazon, NASA, Boeing and General Electric participated along with leading industry trade associations and Chinese and Brazilian researchers. Continue reading UN Civil Aviation Group Brainstorms Global Drone Standards

Facebook Messenger Debuts In-App Fandango Ticket Sales

In the U.S., Facebook Messenger now automatically launches Fandango information and ticketing, along with suggestions for GIF-sharing and so-called quick replies, within the app. The feature is based on M, Facebook’s AI-powered virtual assistant technology. The M assistants have thus far offered a variety of actions in Messenger, including sending stickers, launching Uber or Lyft, beginning a poll and sharing a location. Facebook Messenger users can change their settings in order to mute these suggestions. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Debuts In-App Fandango Ticket Sales

London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate, Uber Appeals Ruling

London cut Uber’s license to operate, which will expire September 30. London said that Uber lacked corporate responsibility and was not fit and proper to hold a private vehicle hire licenses. Uber has 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million users in London. Transport for London (TfL), the agency that oversees the city’s cabs, buses and subways, said it would allow Uber to operate until the conclusion of the appeals process. TfL also cited Uber’s background checks on drivers, its approach to reporting serious criminal offenses and Greyball, a software that could block regulators from accessing the app. Continue reading London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate, Uber Appeals Ruling

Amazon’s Whole Foods Adjusts Approach With Niche Brands

With the purchase by Amazon completed, Whole Foods is moving forward on changes with its operations, evolving into a more traditional grocery store. Beginning in April, the store’s 470 locations will end the practice of allowing brands to promote their products or check on how those products are stocked and displayed. Also going by the wayside is the ability of brands to pitch products to individual stores or geographic regions, with much of the decision-making on products centralizing in its Austin, Texas headquarters. Continue reading Amazon’s Whole Foods Adjusts Approach With Niche Brands

Mobile Companies Offer TV, Video and Music to Slow Churn

AT&T and T-Mobile are luring in new subscribers and holding on to existing ones by offering popular television content, including “Game of Thrones” and “Stranger Things.” T-Mobile, which now has an exclusive deal with Netflix, is offering free access to the streaming video service for subscribers who buy its unlimited family plan. AT&T expanded its HBO promotion to a larger circle of subscribers. In April, it offered free HBO to its Unlimited Plus Choice subscribers, and now expanded that to anyone with an Unlimited Choice plan. Continue reading Mobile Companies Offer TV, Video and Music to Slow Churn

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