Spotify Tests Voice-Enabled Ads on Mobile Devices in U.S.

If you — like millions of others — log into Spotify via a free mobile account (and if you’re in the U.S. and have enabled voice controls), you might start noticing something new: voice-enabled ads. As part of increased investment in voice technology, the streaming service started a test period of these new ads, which encourage listeners to say verbal commands to take action based on the ad’s content. For now, Spotify is focused on promoted in-app content like branded playlists and podcasts, instead of directing listeners outside the app.

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MTV VMAs, Twitter Team Up For Fan-Controlled Streaming

For the first time ever, the MTV Video Music Awards will take place in Newark, New Jersey. With the new location comes a new video strategy courtesy of a partnership with Twitter, announced at the social media company’s Digital Content NewFronts event on Monday. When viewers tune into the VMAs in late August of this year, they’ll be greeted by the Stan Cam — a live and interactive viewing experience through which they can vote on the feeds they most want to see, giving them access to celebrities and behind-the-scenes footage. Continue reading MTV VMAs, Twitter Team Up For Fan-Controlled Streaming

Spotify at 100 Million Paid Subscribers, Expands Podcasting

Music streaming giant Spotify exceeded analysts’ quarterly expectations when it announced it hit the coveted 100 million paid subscriber mark, a first for any music streaming company. That news, combined with a growing podcast business, enabled the company to narrow its loss in the most recent quarter, during which Spotify acquired podcast companies Gimlet Media and Anchor, as well as announced plans to acquire podcast producer Parcast. Spotify plans to spend as much as $500 million on non-music deals this year.

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Amazon and Google Offering Ad-Supported Music Services

Spotify has new competition. Amazon just introduced an ad-supported version of Amazon Music available in the U.S. via Alexa devices. To jumpstart the service, Amazon has reportedly offered to pay some record labels per stream for music licenses, separate from ad sales. The catalog is limited, but listeners can access some of Amazon Music’s “top playlists.” Google also announced that YouTube Music will be free on Google Home smart speakers and Google Assistant devices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and parts of Europe. Continue reading Amazon and Google Offering Ad-Supported Music Services

Vimeo Acquires Magisto, Makes Move Toward Social Video

IAC-owned video platform Vimeo, which largely serves small businesses and individual creators, has acquired short-form video specialist Magisto for $200 million. The deal, Vimeo’s fifth in the field, is expected to help the platform grow its presence in social video, and will move Magisto’s employees based in Israel and California to Vimeo’s office in New York. “Magisto’s proprietary technology enables cutting edge mobile apps and AI-powered editing tools which, combined with Vimeo’s scale and unmatched creator community, will empower more people to tell compelling stories through video,” said Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud. Continue reading Vimeo Acquires Magisto, Makes Move Toward Social Video

Facebook Uses AI to Improve Games, Swap Singers’ Voices

Facebook is bringing back FMV (full motion video) games, which use pre-recorded video files to display action. With the work of Facebook AI Research scientists, the new FMV games are much improved, with a system that can extract controllable characters from real-world videos and then control their motion, thus generating new image sequences. Facebook AI Research scientists, in collaboration with Tel Aviv University, also unveiled a system that, unsupervised, converts audio of one singer to the voice of another. Continue reading Facebook Uses AI to Improve Games, Swap Singers’ Voices

Spotify Appeals Copyright Rate Hike, Songwriters Respond

Spotify, the streaming music leader with 87 million global subscribers, is appealing the Copyright Royalty Board’s 2018 decision to raise songwriters’ pay rate by 44 percent over the next five years. Spotify is joined in this unprecedented move by Amazon, Google and SiriusXM/Pandora. Artists are furious, especially since Spotify portrayed itself as being on the side of creatives. Those appealing the Board’s decision say they’re against its complex rules. Apple is the sole company who stands to benefit from the fray. Continue reading Spotify Appeals Copyright Rate Hike, Songwriters Respond

Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Apple Music now has more paid subscriptions in the U.S. than popular music streamer Spotify, as the global competition ramps up between the two rivals. According to those familiar with the matter, Apple Music surpassed 28 million U.S. subscribers by February, compared to Spotify’s 26 million subscribers (the figures only include paid subscriptions, not trial users). When including nonpaying music fans of its ad-supported offering, Spotify still holds the lead in the number of overall users in the U.S. To slow Apple’s progress, Spotify recently introduced new promotions, such as a discounted subscription bundle with Hulu. Continue reading Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Amazon Taking Alexa Digital Assistant Mobile With Earbuds

Amazon is reportedly planning to release wireless earbuds with built-in Alexa support as early as this year, according to those with knowledge of the project. The new wearable will be similar to Apple’s popular AirPods, and fit inside the user’s ear without clips, but Amazon team members at the company’s Lab126 hardware division are working on improving the audio quality. Users will be able to interact with the earbuds via voice and summon the digital assistant by saying “Alexa.” Pricing has not been revealed, but AirPods run $159 to $199, and Amazon has consistently charged less than competitors for its hardware. Continue reading Amazon Taking Alexa Digital Assistant Mobile With Earbuds

Pandora Believes Listeners Will Interact With its Voice Ads

Pandora plans to test new interactive advertising technology that would allow listeners to engage directly with its “voice ads” by speaking aloud. Pandora listeners could request additional information about a product or service being promoted, for example, or request skipping the ad altogether. The beta test, powered by ad-tech firm Instreamatic, is expected to launch later this year. Instreamatic provides an interactive ad platform built on its Voice AI Core to help brands and marketers “manage, measure and monetize voice-enabled audio advertising.” Continue reading Pandora Believes Listeners Will Interact With its Voice Ads

Europe Passes a Strict Law That Favors Copyright Holders

The European Union adopted a strict online copyright law requiring technology companies to ink licensing agreements with authors, musicians and news publishers. The goal is to force technology platforms to proactively remove unlicensed copyrighted content from their sites, rather than respond to thousands of complaints by copyright holders. Lobbying leading up to the vote was vigorous. While media companies are celebrating the move, the new law is a blow to companies such as Google and Facebook, as well as free speech advocates. Continue reading Europe Passes a Strict Law That Favors Copyright Holders

Music Labels File Lawsuit Claiming Charter Enables Piracy

Sony, Universal, Warner music labels, and their subsidiaries, have filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in Colorado, claiming that Charter Communications is enabling music piracy. The claim states that Charter hasn’t ended the accounts of subscribers who pirate copyrighted songs, and that it aids users illegally download music by selling access to high Internet speeds. The latter isn’t a violation of the law, but Internet providers can be held responsible for serial infringers if they do not cut their accounts. Continue reading Music Labels File Lawsuit Claiming Charter Enables Piracy

Consumers Frustrated by the Number of Streaming Options

The massive growth of streaming entertainment options may present a downside. According to Deloitte’s latest annual Digital Media Trends survey, 47 percent of U.S. consumers indicate they are becoming frustrated with the increasing number of subscriptions and services required to access the media content they want. In addition, 57 percent say they are also frustrated when their favorite movies and TV shows are no longer available due to the expiration of licensing agreements. There are more than 300 over-the-top options for video in the U.S. today, a number continuing to rise. Continue reading Consumers Frustrated by the Number of Streaming Options

Myspace Accidentally Loses All Music Posted Prior to 2016

Myspace, which introduced Internet users to social networking, faded from view with the advent of Facebook. Still, Myspace endured as a popular music platform, in part because it drew credibility from having helped launch artists such as Arctic Monkeys, Panic! At The Disco, Sean Kingston and Kate Nash. Musicians and other Myspace users were dismayed to read a banner on the site proclaiming that, due to a server migration, files loaded more than three years ago will “no longer be available on or from Myspace.” Continue reading Myspace Accidentally Loses All Music Posted Prior to 2016

Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

Spotify filed a complaint with European regulators accusing Apple of violating antitrust laws by crushing companies that compete with its services, including Apple Music. Apple charges a fee of up to 30 percent on anything sold in its App Store. Spotify reported to the European Commission that Apple’s policies are a “tax” that violate competition laws, and chief executive Daniel Ek complained that Apple gives itself “an unfair advantage at every turn.” It is uncertain if the complaint will lead to a formal EC investigation. Continue reading Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

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