Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

The federal government is listening to complaints about how the major digital platforms exploit their size and the paucity of regulations — and companies are lining up to tell their tales of woe. Yelp public policy chief Luther Lowe says firms that once quietly grumbled are now talking to the Department of Justice about anti-competitive behavior by the big tech companies, all of which vigorously deny the accusations. Two Instagram executives stated that, although some would like to break up social giant Facebook, that won’t help the problem. Continue reading Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

Apple Divides iTunes Features into Music, Podcast, TV Apps

Apple executives announced the end of iTunes at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this week. But iTunes features will live on in three apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. The iconic iTunes was created 18 years ago as a so-called digital jukebox that allowed users to import and organize music and burn custom mixes. It evolved into a music store, where an enormous variety of songs sold for 99 cents. In 2003, Steve Jobs declared that “people want to buy their music on the Internet by buying downloads.” Continue reading Apple Divides iTunes Features into Music, Podcast, TV Apps

Social Listening: Spotify Developing a Shared Music Queue

Spotify is working on a new feature called “Social Listening” that would allow multiple people to add tracks to a social queue so they could all listen to the same songs from different devices in different locations. According to screenshots shared by an app researcher, users can add songs to the real-time playlist for a communal listening experience after scanning their friends’ QR-style Spotify Social Listening codes. The feature, not yet released, is essentially a jazzed-up version of Spotify’s Collaborative Playlists for now, but in the future Spotify could possibly upgrade it for synchronized playback. Continue reading Social Listening: Spotify Developing a Shared Music Queue

Snap Inc. Hoping to Expand Use of Music in Snapchat App

As Snap faces increased pressure from competitors such as Facebook’s Instagram and ByteDance’s TikTok, the company is reportedly talking with music labels for broader licensing agreements to allow increased use of music via the popular Snapchat app. According to people familiar with the matter, Snap is in discussions with Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. Snap is not looking to launch the next Spotify, but rather expand the way its users can integrate music into Snaps and social media applications. Continue reading Snap Inc. Hoping to Expand Use of Music in Snapchat App

ByteDance Targets Emerging Markets With Music Service

Beijing-based ByteDance plans to debut a paid music service for its video app TikTok in fall 2019, aimed at poorer countries where the industry’s dominant services, Apple Music and Spotify, have not yet taken root. Executives at India’s two largest labels, T-Series and Times Music, reported that ByteDance has already acquired rights. TikTok and its Chinese equivalent Douyin, have been downloaded more than 500 million times; TikTok popularized the world’s No. 1 song for the past month, “Old Town Road.” Continue reading ByteDance Targets Emerging Markets With Music Service

Spotify’s Soundtrap Aims to Simplify Podcast Editing for All

Spotify-owned music-editing software company Soundtrap is launching a new product this week designed to make podcast editing as easy as using Google Docs. Dubbed “Soundtrap for Storytellers,” the web-based production tool allows users to do everything in one place, including recording, editing and mastering audio. As just one example of how easy the product aims to make podcast editing, it will allow users to cut words out of automated transcripts of their recorded conversations and hear the changes reflected in the audio itself.

Continue reading Spotify’s Soundtrap Aims to Simplify Podcast Editing for All

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.

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

WWDC: Apple to Unveil Apps, Software, Development Tools

When Apple’s 5-day Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicks off June 3 in San Jose, the company is reportedly planning to introduce an array of new apps, software features and development tools. According to those familiar with the plans, Apple is expected to introduce operating system updates for its Apple TV, Apple Watch, iPad, iPhone and Mac computers. The new iOS 13, codenamed “Yukon,” will offer new and updated features — while iOS14, codenamed “Azul,” will launch next year to support 5G wireless and new AR functions. Continue reading WWDC: Apple to Unveil Apps, Software, Development Tools

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.

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

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.

Continue reading Spotify at 100 Million Paid Subscribers, Expands Podcasting

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

Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

Google debuted the results of a partnership with Anker, releasing the $50 Roav Bolt, that brings Google Assistant to automobiles. Previously, consumers who wanted Google Assistant in their cars could purchase a vehicle with Android Auto or install the Android Auto app on their phones. The device fits into a car’s 12-volt port (the cigarette lighter) and features USB ports on the side for charging a phone, with an AUX jack as well. The user activates the device by saying “Hey Google” or pressing a physical button. Continue reading Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

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.

How Apple News+ Service Rates Among Other News Apps

Apple News+ is a service that makes an entire newsstand of content — including that of mainstream publications — available to subscribers. There are limits; a section from The Wall Street Journal, for example, only offers a handful of stories. However, Apple says a deeper search in WSJ’s News channel will reveal “everything from the last three days” thanks to an agreement with WSJ’s publisher Dow Jones. Apple stated News+ will evolve as publishers avail themselves of tools to create new reader experiences. The service will compete with apps including Flipboard, Nuzzel, SmartNews and others. Continue reading How Apple News+ Service Rates Among Other News Apps

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