Streaming Accounts for Nearly Two-Thirds of Music Revenue

According to a 2017 report from the Recording Industry Association of America, revenue for recorded music in the U.S. grew 16.5 percent last year to a retail value of $8.7 billion. “We‘re delighted by the progress so far,” explained RIAA CEO Cary Sherman, “but to put the numbers in context, these two years of growth only return the business to 60 percent of its peak size  —  about where it stood ten years ago  —  and that’s ignoring inflation.” Variety reports: “Like 2016, the boost came primarily from the rapid growth in paid music subscriptions to services like Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, Tidal, Pandora and others, which grew by more than 50 percent.” Streaming represented nearly two-thirds of music revenue last year. Continue reading Streaming Accounts for Nearly Two-Thirds of Music Revenue

Access Android Games Immediately With Google Play Instant

The age of instant gratification just got even more addictive thanks to Google’s new Google Play Instant, which comprises Android apps and games that do not need to be installed before people can try them out. The tech giant announced the upgrade at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Available games include Supercell’s “Clash Royale,” Zynga’s “Words with Friends 2,” King’s “Bubble Witch 3 Saga” and Hothead’s “Mighty Battles.” These and more are already available on over 1 billion Android devices.

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Hacker Accessed Customer Data From Orbitz Legacy System

Popular travel booking site Orbitz, owned by Expedia, confirmed yesterday that it “identified and remediated a data security incident affecting a legacy travel booking platform.” The company explained that a hack late last year exposed customer data and billing information spanning two years. Personal data may have included birth dates, mailing addresses, email addresses, gender, payment card info, and more. According to Orbitz, about 880,000 credit cards may have been affected. However, the company noted that the current Orbitz.com site was not breached. Continue reading Hacker Accessed Customer Data From Orbitz Legacy System

Facebook Plans to Be Next Home to Online Content Creators

Facebook wants to be the next home for online content creators, aiming to displace YouTube, Patreon and others with additions to its Creator app, which launched in November on iOS and will be available on Android soon. The social media giant is currently testing ways Creator users can make more money and connect with their fans. One such way would allow monthly subscribers to gain access to exclusive content from their favorite creators and allow them to earn fan badges similar to those used on Patreon.

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Wall Street Responds to Backlash Over Snapchat’s Redesign

It remains to be seen if recent outcry over the new version of Snapchat will negatively affect Snap Inc.’s numbers in the long term. The company is in the middle of contending with backlash from its users, of whom 1.2 million signed a petition to revert the social media app to its former version. Snap Inc. launched the new version last month with the intention of expanding its business beyond the teen and young adult audience — its current core audience. While many are concerned, specific negative effects are not yet evident.

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Machine Learning Used in Detection of Harmful Android Apps

The Google Play Protect detection service, which scans Android apps for malicious activity, is enabled on more than 2 billion devices and detected 60.3 percent of Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) in 2017 using machine learning, according to Google’s Android Security 2017 Year in Review report. Google removed over 700,000 apps for violating its policies last year. While Play Protect uses a variety of tactics, machine learning is highly effective for catching PHAs, detecting things like inappropriate content, impersonation, and malware.

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Google to Ban Cryptocurrency and ICO Ads Beginning in June

Google announced its intention to ban advertisements related to risky financial products, including any that promote cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs), beginning this June. This is part of an update to Google’s policy and seems to closely resemble a similar ban announced by Facebook in January. However, reports indicate that ad makers have found workarounds within Facebook (like typing “Bitc0in” with a zero instead of “Bitcoin”). Google plans to anticipate these sorts of workarounds in advance of the ban.

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Audible and Amazon Continue to Dominate Audiobook Market

Audiobook sellers like Amazon-owned Audible are competing for the ears, not eyes, of book lovers. And they’re showing promise. In 2016, audiobook sales climbed to $2.1 billion, representing an 18 percent jump from the previous year (the format experienced a 26.2 percent sales increase during the first three quarters of 2017). Audible represents about 41 percent of all audiobook sales, and when paired with Amazon, which sells audiobooks directly through its website, the two make up more than half of the market. Audible’s library includes 400,000 titles and its annual subscriber growth is in the double digits.

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TV Time Adds Personalized Recommendations to its Features

The TV Time app, which boasts a million daily users, now offers filterable, personalized recommendations to help organize your viewing selections. With programming spread across multiple services, it is often a challenge to keep up with what’s out there, what’s new, and what you might enjoy. Based on a user’s viewing habits and behaviors across multiple services (such as Netflix, Hulu and cable), the app makes recommendations and helps users track what they’re watching while connecting with other fans after episodes.

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Spotify Launches New Tool, Enlisting Users to Add Metadata

Spotify has launched Line-In, a music metadata editor, and has begun collecting information from users, who are now able to add descriptions of genres, albums and songs on the platform. The move is an effort by the streaming service to better understand how listeners hear and interpret music — and to continue emphasizing the importance of data to its business. All contributed edits are treated as suggestions and are carefully reviewed before being added to the data that powers the service. The 10-year-old Swedish company is about to go public via a direct listing rather than a traditional IPO.

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Google Promotes AMP Technology as New Internet Standard

Google has started a project to convince the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the primary international standards organization for the web, to adopt technology that is the foundation of its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). With AMP, webpages enjoy almost immediate loading, distribution on multiple platforms and better visibility on Google and its many properties. Google created AMP to make web pages as fast as the kinds of “instant articles” found on Apple News and Facebook, where pages are pre-loaded in the app. With AMP, however, Google wants to apply those benefits to the entire web. Continue reading Google Promotes AMP Technology as New Internet Standard

As Job Market Improves, Demand for Programmers Hits High

One of the greatest challenges to today’s economic growth is a lack of technology talent. Companies are adopting new strategies to find qualified software engineers, programmers and developers, including new apprenticeship and internship programs. The national unemployment rate hit 4.1 percent in January, its lowest since 2000. As the job market improves, demand for tech talent also increases. For software engineers, the unemployment rate was a mere 1.9 percent last year, which was down from 4 percent in 2011.

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Netflix Creates Apps for Production, Doubles Down on Mobile

With a team of 30 to 35 people, Netflix is creating apps to streamline parts of the production process, such as crew management, scheduling and budgeting. One app, dubbed Move, has been in beta with a few Netflix productions since November. Move, which was built as a progressive web app, replaces all the paperwork related to scheduling shoot days and distributing the script, sending email and SMS to notify the crew of any schedule changes. It was first tested on the second season of “Glow,” and since used on 10 different shoots. Continue reading Netflix Creates Apps for Production, Doubles Down on Mobile

Invasive Use of Facial Recognition Tech Already Widespread

Facial recognition is getting better by leaps and bounds, and some of the examples of how it is being used are disturbing. In Russia, the website FindFace matches submitted photos to VK, that country’s Facebook knock-off. Trolls are using it to identify and harass women who appear in adult videos. China uses cameras with facial recognition to tag jaywalkers, and, in Dubai, police wear Google Glasses to identify people. In the U.S., the government facial recognition system can already identify the faces of half of all American adults. Continue reading Invasive Use of Facial Recognition Tech Already Widespread

Registration Deadline for USC Hackathon Extended to March 7

ETCentric subscribers and their friends are invited to participate in the Creating Reality Hackathon, being held March 12-15 on the USC campus. The organizers are seeking forward-thinking industry storytellers, game designers, coders, and other creative artists. The teams that produce the top AR and VR submissions will each be awarded $5,000. This event will also be an opportunity to get a hands-on preview of the HTC Vive Pro and Intel’s Vaunt AR glasses. If you wish to participate, please submit your request via this special link (the deadline has been extended to March 7). Visit the event website for more info. Continue reading Registration Deadline for USC Hackathon Extended to March 7

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