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

European Commission Targets Apple with Antitrust Charges

In the wake of an initial complaint from Spotify, the European Commission has levied antitrust charges against Apple for breaking EU competition rules regarding its App Store policies. More specifically, the EU focused on two rules, one requiring developers to use its in-app purchase system, for which it charges a 30 percent cut, and a second not allowing developers to let users know about other purchasing options. The Commission found that the rules “distort competition” and result in higher prices for consumers. Continue reading European Commission Targets Apple with Antitrust Charges

Apple Music Pays 1 Cent per Stream but Metric Is Misleading

Apple Music informed musicians that it pays one penny per stream, which is roughly double the rate paid by Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service. Spotify pays about one-third to one-half penny per stream, which is potentially offset by its 155 million subscribers (out of 345 total active users) versus Apple Music’s 60+ million. The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) responded to Apple’s announcement by saying that all music streamers should pay one penny per stream “at a minimum.” Continue reading Apple Music Pays 1 Cent per Stream but Metric Is Misleading

Streaming Now Makes Up 83 Percent of Total Music Revenue

In its year-end report, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) stated that, in the U.S., recorded music revenues grew 9.2 percent to $12.2 billion at estimated retail value, the fifth consecutive year of growth. Paid subscription services, ad-supported on-demand platforms and digital radio added $10.1 billion in revenue, a 13.4 percent jump. Paid subscriptions to on-demand services such as Apple Music and Spotify represented the majority of recorded music revenue, growing 14.6 percent to $7 billion in 2020. Continue reading Streaming Now Makes Up 83 Percent of Total Music Revenue

Square Acquires Majority Stake in Jay-Z’s Tidal Music Service

Digital payment firm Square is spending $297 million in cash and stock for a majority share of the subscription-based Tidal streaming music service. Tidal owner Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, will join Square’s board. Now, musicians on Tidal will be able to use Square’s Cash App payment service to digitally store and transfer money. Square hardware lead Jesse Dorogusker, who will temporarily lead Tidal, said, “we’re interested in a 360-degree view of artists as small-business owners,” noting live performances, merchandise and collaborations. Continue reading Square Acquires Majority Stake in Jay-Z’s Tidal Music Service

Indie Musicians Find Success with Digital Platforms and Apps

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed concert venues and halted touring for musicians but now some are achieving success via Spotify, YouTube, TikTok and apps such as DistroKid, SubmitHub and ForTunes.io. Previously, musicians depended on the big music companies — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group — to promote and market their work. Now, according to distributor AWAL, hundreds of independent musicians are making $100,000+ from streaming, and Jayda G and RAC even got Grammy nominations. Continue reading Indie Musicians Find Success with Digital Platforms and Apps

Spotify Tests Service That Helps Artists Promote Their Music

Spotify is testing a new service that gives artists more power over how their music is discovered on its platform. First, it will allow artists and labels to identify the music that matters most to them, and Spotify will add a “signal” to help the music be found by its personalization algorithms. Spotify has created a model in which artists, labels and rights holders will be paid a “promotional recording royalty rate” for streams that it provides, although the service does not require an upfront budget for artists and labels. Continue reading Spotify Tests Service That Helps Artists Promote Their Music

Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

In an otherwise glum economic picture, Big Tech companies have boomed. The general economy is improving, while Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are reporting profits that suggest they may be capable of generating the kind of wealth that a single industry hasn’t seen in generations. In fact, those four companies had a quarterly net profit of $38 billion, despite regulator scrutiny and other obstacles. Amazon saw an almost 200 percent rise in profits, and Facebook had a stupendous quarter, despite the advertiser boycott. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

The Coalition for App Fairness Draws More Developer Interest

The Coalition for App Fairness, debuted last month by Epic Games, Match Group, Spotify and others t0 combat what they claim are excessive commission payments to Apple, is experiencing a sharp increase in membership. Thirteen members founded the group, which has grown to 40 members with more than 400 requests to join. Smaller developers that are dependent on the Apple App Store for survival have, until now, been too intimidated to speak up. Microsoft voiced support for the Coalition and adopted its recommendations for its own store. Continue reading The Coalition for App Fairness Draws More Developer Interest

Apple Debuts 24-Hour Live-Streaming Music Video Channel

On October 19, Apple premiered Apple Music TV, a free 24-hour curated live stream of popular videos including what the company says are “exclusive new music videos and premiers, special curated music video blocks, and live shows and events as well as chart countdowns and guests.” The new service will, at first, be available to U.S. residents only on the Apple Music and Apple TV apps. The service launched with a countdown of the top 100 “most-streamed” songs in the U.S. and held an all-day Bruce Springsteen special event on October 22. Continue reading Apple Debuts 24-Hour Live-Streaming Music Video Channel

Apple Releases iOS 14, Bundles, Watch Series 6, New iPads

Apple’s fall event was all about bundling, with discounts for customers who sign up for multiple plans with recurring payments. The new Fitness+ package, for example, offers workouts that tie in to “all of your Apple equipment” and an Apple One subscription bundles Arcade, Music, TV+ and iCloud. There was no new iPhone or mention of AR, but the Silicon Valley company did unveil iOS 14, a new Watch, a new iPad, and an upgraded entry-level iPad. Apple is also experimenting with an Express store for product pick-ups. Continue reading Apple Releases iOS 14, Bundles, Watch Series 6, New iPads

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