Etsy Turns to Google Cloud to Improve Search, Boost Sales

Etsy, the online crafts marketplace, boasts more than 60 million unique items and is using Google’s machine learning technology to help boost sales. Because more than 80 percent of its search-based purchases come from the first page of results, it is crucial to provide relevant items on that page. With that in mind, Etsy started a move to Google Cloud in 2017, motivated by the platform’s artificial intelligence capabilities. About three-fourths done with the migration, it’s already seen $260 million in incremental gross sales.

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Ticketmaster Combats Ticket Fraud With New SafeTix Tech

It’s common for ticket resellers to use screenshots and photocopies of real tickets to sell in bunches to unknowing ticket buyers. To combat this fraud, Ticketmaster will start using a new technology called SafeTix, which is tied to a ticket holder’s mobile device via an encrypted barcode that refreshes every few seconds. Additionally, SafeTix supports NFC technology that allows fans to enter venues using a “tap and go” experience, and users will soon be able to use SafeTix via Apple Wallet on their iPhones and Apple Watches.

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Spotify Testing New ‘Storyline’ Feature, Similar to ‘Stories’

Somewhat similar to its “Behind the Lyrics” feature, music streaming giant Spotify is now launching “Storyline,” a new feature meant to offer artists a platform to share insights, inspiration and more about their creative processes and the meanings of lyrics, songs and albums. The new feature is also similar to the “Stories” format that has been popularized by social apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and others, opening up a potential avenue for Spotify to create original content via a popular format.

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YouTube to Sell Vevo Music Video Clips Direct to Advertisers

Google’s YouTube will now sell Vevo’s music video clips directly to advertisers, as part of a deal struck late last year but just made public. Up until now, Vevo had the first pass at selling its own videos, leaving automated, remnant ad sales to Google. At YouTube’s “Brandcast” pitch event to advertisers, the company did not so much announce the terms of the deal, but let it slip that it was selling Vevo clips in its “Google Preferred” tier, which is a collection of its most valuable and most “brand-safe” content. Continue reading YouTube to Sell Vevo Music Video Clips Direct to Advertisers

Tech Giants Compete in Pursuit of Music Streaming Audiences

Apple, Pandora and Amazon are among those ramping up efforts to differentiate their music services in order to win over subscribers and artists. Second to Spotify’s dominance is Apple Music, which has taken off after an initially bumpy start. Pandora is another major competitor, boasting 74.7 million active listeners of its free music stations, which operate much like traditional radio. SoundCloud reports that it reaches 175 million monthly listeners in more than 190 countries, and Google plans to combine its Google Play Music “All Access” on-demand streaming service with YouTube Red. Continue reading Tech Giants Compete in Pursuit of Music Streaming Audiences

Streaming Helps Indie Record Labels Rock Overseas Markets

Thanks to streaming services like Spotify, which works with more than 20,000 independent labels in 53 countries, independent record labels are experiencing an international revenue surge that would have been unimaginable years ago. Whereas foreign music markets used to be assessable only via local companies or major labels with global marketing capacities and strategies, worldwide digital streaming services have changed the music business landscape in a short period of time, changing the way independent labels make money.

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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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Facebook to Shutter its Oculus Story Studio VR Content Unit

Facebook announced it is closing Oculus Story Studio and canceling all current projects, reports Variety. The award-winning studio, responsible for notable VR shorts including “Lost,” “Henry” and “Dear Angelica,” opened in early 2015. “We’ve been looking at the best way to allocate our resources to create an impact on the ecosystem,” wrote Jason Rubin, Oculus VP of content. “After careful consideration, we’ve decided to shift our focus away from internal content creation to support more external production. As part of that shift, we’ll be winding down Story Studio.” Facebook plans to continue investing in experiential VR content from outside artists and developers. Continue reading Facebook to Shutter its Oculus Story Studio VR Content Unit

Pandora’s Promotional Tools Help Artists Market New Songs

Digital music services have a problem introducing new songs: Fans prefer music they’ve heard before, and can easily skip a song they don’t know. A radio station can promote a new song by repeatedly playing it, but up until now digital services haven’t had many tools to boost new song popularity. Now, Pandora has debuted a toolset that lets an artist introduce a new song with an audio message to fans. It worked for R&B singer Jill Scott, who was able to boost the popularity of a new song by 30 percent that way. Continue reading Pandora’s Promotional Tools Help Artists Market New Songs

Streaming-Only Recordings Now Eligible for Grammy Awards

The Recording Academy has announced new amendments to the Grammy Awards process. Among the changes, previously ineligible streaming-only releases will now be considered for recognition. Albums and singles previously had to be available for purchase, but the latest rule changes allow for streaming releases to be nominated. According to the press release, “Works must be released via general distribution, defined as the nationwide release of a recording via brick and mortar, third-party online retailers,and/or applicable digital streaming services.” Continue reading Streaming-Only Recordings Now Eligible for Grammy Awards

Google to Explore Using AI Systems to Produce Art and Music

During the Moogfest music and technology fest in North Carolina, Google Brain researcher Douglas Eck outlined a new artificial intelligence research project at Google called Magenta. The group, expected to publicly launch next month, plans to use the company’s machine learning engine TensorFlow to explore new ways that computers and AI systems could be trained to create original art and media such as music or video. The initiative should prove challenging; so far, the most advanced AI systems have struggled to replicate styles of existing artists. Continue reading Google to Explore Using AI Systems to Produce Art and Music

Pandora Taps Westergren as Chief Exec, Moves to Streaming

Pandora Media, which has been a major player in online music for the last decade, is in the midst of reinventing itself. As competition in the online music space has grown fierce, particularly as Spotify and Apple Music have transformed streaming music, Pandora’s numbers of monthly users and its stock has fallen. This week, the company announced it was replacing its chief executive with one of its founders, Tim Westergren, who had been serving on the board. Pandora has also reportedly examined the possibility of a sale. Continue reading Pandora Taps Westergren as Chief Exec, Moves to Streaming

Streaming Boosts Music Revenues, But Not Equally for Artists

The Recording Industry Association of America reports that streaming is booming, more than offsetting declines in CD sales and digital downloads. In 2015, overall revenues rose almost 1 percent to $7 billion, the fifth consecutive year that the market grew — albeit slightly — in wholesale value. But artists and their representatives are saying that the gains aren’t being fairly shared, since many users still listen for free. In 2014, for example, on-demand streams grew 63 percent while revenue increased only 34 percent. Continue reading Streaming Boosts Music Revenues, But Not Equally for Artists

With Sony Music Deal, SoundCloud Reaches 18 Million Artists

Streaming music service SoundCloud finalized a deal with Sony Music to increase the number of songs listeners can access via SoundCloud and also allow Sony Music Entertainment artists to make money from their tracks hosted on its service. The deal with Sony Music is just the latest in several that SoundCloud has inked with other music publishers including Merlin (representing 20,000 indie labels) in June 2015, Universal Music Group earlier this year, and Warner Music in 2014. Continue reading With Sony Music Deal, SoundCloud Reaches 18 Million Artists

Streaming Music Services Thrive But Free On-Demand a Threat

Depending on where you live, the top music-streaming site might be Spotify, Pandora or even Saavn. A new music-focused report from App Annie crowns Spotify as “the world’s top streaming music service” in terms of active users, downloads and revenue. But, in the U.S., the No. 1 spot goes to Pandora Radio, a hit among active users on iPhone and Android. And in other markets, local providers are topping the charts, including Saavn and Gaana in India, Deezer in France and South Korea’s MelOn, among others. Continue reading Streaming Music Services Thrive But Free On-Demand a Threat

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