Amazon Offers Expanded Music and Podcast Catalog Ad-Free

Amazon Music has taken a major leap forward, expanding its catalog from about 2 million to 100 million songs that will be made available ad-free to Prime members as part of their existing $139 annual membership fee. Starting this week, Prime members can “shuffle play any artist, album, or playlist, plus stream a selection of All-Access playlists on demand” as well as “access the largest catalog of ad-free top podcasts,” the online retail giant said. The move underscores a new battleground for membership-focused retailers, including Costco and Walmart, who see streaming as an opportunity to add value. Continue reading Amazon Offers Expanded Music and Podcast Catalog Ad-Free

Apple Increases Prices of Its Streaming Services for First Time

For the first time, Apple is raising U.S. prices for Apple Music and Apple TV+ subscription services. Starting this week, both new and existing customers will pay rates starting at $6.99 per month for Apple TV+ and $10.99 per month for Apple Music, a 40 percent and 10 percent increase, respectively. The family music plan, for up to six accounts, increases to $16.99 per month (from $14.99). Cost of the Apple One bundle — which includes TV, Music, Apple Arcade and iCloud+ storage — also rises as competing streamers raise prices while vying more aggressively for market share. Continue reading Apple Increases Prices of Its Streaming Services for First Time

Microsoft Rolls Out New Surface Products, Apple Integrations

Microsoft is launching a host of new Surface products in time for the holidays. The Surface Pro 9, Surface Laptop 5, and Surface Studio 2+ were among the debuts at the fall 2022 Microsoft event. The Surface Pro 9 comes to market October 25 with two models, one with Intel inside and the other powered by Microsoft’s own SQ3 chip, an always-connected 5G ARM processor customized by Qualcomm that features a new Neural Processing Unit and up to 19 hours of battery. The Intel variants start at $999 while the SQ3 options begin at $1,299. Continue reading Microsoft Rolls Out New Surface Products, Apple Integrations

Apple Music Displaces Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor

Apple has secured main sponsorship rights to the Super Bowl LVII halftime show, with Apple Music replacing Pepsi, which had a lock on the slot for the past 10 years. The event takes place February 12, 2023, at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, broadcasting on FOX. The price wasn’t disclosed, but the NFL had reportedly been asking $50 million for the prime halftime positioning. The deal played out against a backdrop of the NFL’s Sunday Ticket rights sale, with a reported $2.5 billion asking price and Apple said to be the most serious bidder. Continue reading Apple Music Displaces Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor

Warner Music Adopts SoundCloud’s Fan-Powered Royalties

Warner Music Group has become the first major music label to adopt SoundCloud’s fan-powered royalties payout model. Launched last year, the model is designed around what the music streaming service calls “the fan economy,” enabling artists to engage directly with fans for more control and increased monetization opportunities. The audio distribution platform allows every artist to be paid “based on fan listening behavior on SoundCloud,” with subscription and advertising revenue “distributed among the artists [the fans] listen to, rather than being pooled under the traditional pro-rata model the music industry has been using for over a decade,” explains SoundCloud. Continue reading Warner Music Adopts SoundCloud’s Fan-Powered Royalties

Apple Reportedly Has iPhone Subscription Plan in the Works

Apple is reportedly working on a plan that will make its popular iPhone and additional devices available on a subscription basis. Popular first among content providers, then software firms like Microsoft and Adobe, subscription contracts are less usual in the hardware space, other than the long-term payment plans mobile service providers add to a customer’s monthly bill for costlier phone models, including iPhones. Apple itself has been offering iPhones in monthly payments. A hardware “subscription” would possibly bundle other Apple products, like Apple TV and Apple Music. Continue reading Apple Reportedly Has iPhone Subscription Plan in the Works

TikTok Launches SoundOn to Help Music Creators Monetize

TikTok has launched a distribution platform for music creators, SoundOn. The all-in-one platform, which also offers marketing assistance, is designed to help artists develop and launch their careers. Released in beta last year, SoundOn has already gone live in the U.S., UK, Brazil and Indonesia, enabling music to be directly uploaded to TikTok and Resso, a music streaming platform ByteDance launched in 2020. SoundOn enables “artists to grow their fanbases, harness their creative voice and get their music heard worldwide,” TikTok says. Creators keep 100 percent of their streaming royalties in year one and 90 percent thereafter. Continue reading TikTok Launches SoundOn to Help Music Creators Monetize

Spotify Launches Netflix Hub with Soundtracks and Podcasts

Spotify has launched a Netflix Hub designed to extend the experience of enjoying one’s favorite streaming films and shows through official soundtracks, playlists, podcasts and  exclusive Spotify content. Spotify explained the evolution of the pre-existing partnership by pointing out that within two weeks of the premiere of Netflix’s “Squid Game,” Spotify listeners “created more than 22,500 unique themed playlists.” The new Hub will include “experiences” like the recent Netflix collaboration on an “enhanced album” for the revisionist Western “The Harder They Fall,” featuring producer Jay-Z in a behind-the-scenes look at the soundtrack. Continue reading Spotify Launches Netflix Hub with Soundtracks and Podcasts

Apple to Expand Hollywood Ambitions with Regional Campus

Apple is expanding its Los Angeles footprint, building new regional headquarters in the northern part of Culver City. Construction is in progress on two adjacent buildings comprising more than 550,000 square feet on a lot flanked by National, Venice and Washington boulevards. Apple says the complex will house teams working on Apple TV+, Apple Music, engineering and artificial intelligence at a site near the new Ivy Station development and Metro Expo Line stop. Apple already has more than 1,500 employees working in a leased 128,000-square-foot Culver City office.  Continue reading Apple to Expand Hollywood Ambitions with Regional Campus

Apple Buys Primephonic, Plans to Debut Classical Music App

Apple officially inked a deal to acquire Primephonic, a popular classical music streaming service. The tech giant reportedly plans to launch a standalone classical music app sometime in 2022. Due to the acquisition, Primephonic stopped accepting new customers immediately and will temporarily go offline on September 7, when Apple begins to integrate the app into Apple Music. Apple told worried fans that it will combine Primephonic’s classical user interface “that fans have grown to love with more added features.” Continue reading Apple Buys Primephonic, Plans to Debut Classical Music App

Senate Judiciary Committee Pursues New Antitrust Legislation

Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working together on antitrust legislation similar to some of the measures the House Judiciary Committee approved last month. Grassley has yet to offer specific details of proposed legislation but Klobuchar, who is chair of the judiciary panel’s antitrust subcommittee, said a focus on tech companies that offer their own version of products sold by rivals dependent on their platforms is “at the heart of two of the House proposals.” Continue reading Senate Judiciary Committee Pursues New Antitrust Legislation

Facebook Targets Substack with Newsletter Platform Bulletin

Social media giant Facebook recently unveiled Bulletin, a near-clone of the newsletter platform Substack. Despite its complicated relationship with journalists, Facebook thinks it can succeed by offering them better terms; whereas Substack takes a 10 percent cut of writers’ revenue, Bulletin will take nothing — at least for now. Best-selling authors Malcolm Gladwell and Mitch Albom will be among the first Bulletin writers. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the goal is to “support millions of people doing creative work.” Continue reading Facebook Targets Substack with Newsletter Platform Bulletin

Twitch’s Business Model Lets Musicians Monetize Fan Loyalty

Amazon’s live-streaming platform Twitch was a haven for musicians during the COVID-19 pandemic, attracting “an average of 30 million visitors a day,” who watched 1+ trillion minutes of content last year. More importantly, its economic model, unlike that of Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube, allows musicians to monetize fan interactions. Musicians cultivate a loyal base that, in turn, patronizes them, to the tune of several thousand dollars a month. In contrast, last year, 97 percent of Spotify’s artists earned less than $1,000. Continue reading Twitch’s Business Model Lets Musicians Monetize Fan Loyalty

Apple Unveils New OS, Privacy Updates and More at WWDC

Apple’s WWDC annual week-long developer conference kicked off with a first peak at iOS 15 enhancements. That includes the next version of FaceTime, which will more closely resemble Zoom, including a grid view for group calls and spatial audio and voice isolation features. The company teased new software updates for AirPods Pro and AirPods, and a multitasking menu for iPadOS 15, coming this fall. The upcoming watchOS 8 will boost fitness, sleep and meditation features. Among numerous other announcements, the company showed data privacy improvements and revealed that HomeKit will now support Siri. Continue reading Apple Unveils New OS, Privacy Updates and More at WWDC

Amazon Music, Apple Music Unveil Hi-Res Audio for All Subs

Apple Music and Amazon Music are unveiling high-resolution audio to subscribers at no extra cost. Amazon Music had announced that its Amazon Music HD is available to all eligible Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers and Apple revealed that subscribers will be able to access Lossless Audio, “to hear the exact same thing that artists created in the studio.” Apple Music users will, based on their connection, be able to choose music resolution from CD quality (16 bit/44.1 kHz) up to Hi-Resolution Lossless at 24 bit/192 kHz. Continue reading Amazon Music, Apple Music Unveil Hi-Res Audio for All Subs