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

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

Tech Companies Appeal an Increase in Songwriter Royalties

Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon have joined forces to appeal a decision of the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) they believe “harms both music licensees and copyright owners.” In separate filings, the companies are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision regarding “recently issued … U.S. mechanical statutory rates” that they said “raises serious procedural and substantive concerns.” With the rule as it stands, songwriters would receive a 44 percent increase in payments. Proponents suggest the rule is necessary for songwriters in a digital age. Continue reading Tech Companies Appeal an Increase in Songwriter Royalties

Survey Finds That Podcast Listening Continues U.S. Growth

Edison Research and Triton Digital just published the results of their latest annual survey, noting that the number of podcast listeners is on the rise. According to the 2019 edition of “The Infinite Dial,” more than half of U.S. consumers have listened to a podcast, while almost one out of three now listen to at least one podcast per month (up from one in four the previous year). “That’s the biggest growth we’ve seen, and we’ve been covering podcasts since 2006,” said Tom Webster of Edison Research. Interestingly, the survey found that consumers over age 55 are warming to podcasts. Continue reading Survey Finds That Podcast Listening Continues U.S. Growth

Luminary Launches With Plan to Be the Netflix of Podcasts

Luminary is a podcast startup that has debuted with more than 40 exclusive shows and no ads. The company also has almost $100 million in funding and, for $8 per month, subscribers will get full access to the content lineup, which includes a new show from Lena Dunham and series from Conan O’Brien, Malcolm Gladwell and Trevor Noah. Co-founder/chief executive Matt Sacks stated that Luminary aims to be “synonymous with podcasting in the same way Netflix has become synonymous with streaming.” Continue reading Luminary Launches With Plan to Be the Netflix of Podcasts

RIAA Reports On the Rising Dominance of Streaming Music

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)’s annual report revealed that, for the third year in a row, music revenue has been growing robustly. In 2018, music revenue enjoyed an 11.9 percent jump from 2017 for a total of $9.8 billion. The reason behind such growth, said the experts, is streaming services, which accounted for 75 percent of the revenue, equaling $7.4 billion. The RIAA also reported that sales of downloaded songs and albums have slumped significantly, below the sale of CDs and vinyl records. Continue reading RIAA Reports On the Rising Dominance of Streaming Music

Samsung Reveals New Galaxy Phones, Including a Foldable

Samsung introduced four new Galaxy phones this week, one of which will work on 5G networks and three of which will have somewhat larger screens and more sophisticated camera systems. The company is also teasing a fifth device that is foldable. With regard to larger sizes, Samsung is offering the S10 and S10 Plus, with 6.1-inch and 6.4-inch displays respectively, compared to the S9 and S9 Plus’ screen sizes of 5.8 inches and 6.2 inches. Larger screen size was achieved without enlarging the devices’ body sizes. Continue reading Samsung Reveals New Galaxy Phones, Including a Foldable

Spotify Commits to Podcast Network With Major Acquisitions

Streaming music giant Spotify has signaled its commitment to building a leading podcast network with strategic acquisitions of podcast publishing platform Anchor and podcast content creator Gimlet Media. The purchases are part of the company’s plan to produce more original programming, grow Spotify’s audience, and eventually become the top global audio platform. Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek predicts that expanding podcast offerings will lead to a future in which non-music audio content will represent 20 percent of listening via Spotify. Continue reading Spotify Commits to Podcast Network With Major Acquisitions

Pandora Introduces Its Own Voice Assistant for Mobile Apps

Streaming music service Pandora is the latest to announce an in-app voice assistant. Users of the iOS or Android app can simply say “Hey Pandora” and make a request to play specific podcasts or music based on artists, albums, radio stations or playlists. According to Pandora, the creation of its own “Voice Mode” feature was inspired by the millions of users who have been activating the service via smart speakers such as Amazon Echo devices. “Voice is just an expected new way that you engage with any app,” said Pandora chief product officer Chris Phillips. Continue reading Pandora Introduces Its Own Voice Assistant for Mobile Apps

Media and Entertainment Play Pivotal Role at This Year’s CES

It was not that many years ago when CES executive vice president Karen Chupka convened a meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles with representatives of the Hollywood studios to pitch CES as a place for entertainment. It was a stretch for some people in the room that day to imagine doing meaningful business there. Cut to CES 2019 and entertainment was everywhere. The enabling power of 5G and AI combined with more powerful processors and beautiful new televisions had everyone talking about entertainment and experiences. Continue reading Media and Entertainment Play Pivotal Role at This Year’s CES

Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

This holiday season has shown that U.S. consumer confidence is high despite the volatile stock market. Amazon reported record-breaking revenue and noted that “tens of millions of people worldwide” registered for the company’s Prime service, many enticed by free two-day shipping. During the holiday, Amazon stated, more than one billion items were shipped via Prime. According to Amazon, year over year, that included millions more Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Alexa Voice Remote. Continue reading Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

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