Pandora’s Promotional Tools Help Artists Market New Songs

Digital music services have a problem introducing new songs: Fans prefer music they’ve heard before, and can easily skip a song they don’t know. A radio station can promote a new song by repeatedly playing it, but up until now digital services haven’t had many tools to boost new song popularity. Now, Pandora has debuted a toolset that lets an artist introduce a new song with an audio message to fans. It worked for R&B singer Jill Scott, who was able to boost the popularity of a new song by 30 percent that way. Continue reading Pandora’s Promotional Tools Help Artists Market New Songs

Music Industry Contends with Major Uptick in Counterfeit CDs

Despite shifts in music consumption involving streaming services, Internet radio, digital downloads and more, many consumers are still purchasing CDs. However, the revenue does not always reach the artists and labels responsible for the music, since piracy is running rampant in the form of counterfeit CDs offered through online retailers such as Amazon. Counterfeits are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from the official versions. While CD sales represented a mere 13 percent of revenue for U.S. labels the first half of this year, they accounted for almost 40 percent of global revenue for the recording industry last year. Continue reading Music Industry Contends with Major Uptick in Counterfeit CDs

Amazon Ties Digital Music Service to Echo Speaker and Alexa

Amazon debuted its streaming music service Amazon Music Unlimited, which costs $7.99 per month for Prime members and $3.99 a month for consumers who’ve purchased its Echo speakers. The Echo deal is significantly less than the $9.99 charged by Amazon’s many, already-established competitors. Amazon is also playing up another way Echo distinguishes its offering: a user can ask Echo’s digital assistant Alexa to play a band’s “new song” without knowing the title, a group’s music from a specific decade or a song based solely on its lyrics. Continue reading Amazon Ties Digital Music Service to Echo Speaker and Alexa

Amazon to Take On Spotify and Apple with New Music Service

Amazon plans to compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music when the company launches its own on-demand music service early next year. Some reports suggest the service may be called Amazon Music Unlimited, and would not come with the annual $99 Amazon Prime subscription, but would likely run a separate $10 per month. “The company will also launch its Echo-based music service, which will cost $5 a month, within the next few weeks,” reports The Verge. “That service will allow Echo owners to access Amazon’s music library on-demand just like the more expensive offering, but playback will be restricted to the smart assistant.” Continue reading Amazon to Take On Spotify and Apple with New Music Service

Amazon Aims to Bring Echo to More Homes with Music Service

Amazon’s soon-to-debut music streaming service will reportedly be priced at about $5 per month, say sources. That price point is less than that charged by competitors Spotify and Apple Music, but Amazon’s end game is to increase sales of its voice-controlled Echo. With a focus on its digital assistant, Amazon most recently debuted a less expensive version, the $50 Echo Dot and is promoting the devices, and its virtual helper Alexa, in its physical bookstores and pop-up stores. Continue reading Amazon Aims to Bring Echo to More Homes with Music Service

Pandora Plus Makes Debut, Record Labels Experience Uptick

Pandora unveiled Pandora Plus, replacing the 16-year old company’s original ad-free service. What’s different is that the company now licenses music from the major record labels, rather than using compulsory licenses from the government, with rates determined by federal judges. With the new version, users can replay or skip songs and listen offline. The monthly price remains $4.99. Out of Pandora’s nearly 80 million users, only 4 million are paying subscribers. An on-demand tier for $10/month will also debut by end of 2016. Continue reading Pandora Plus Makes Debut, Record Labels Experience Uptick

Spotify Focuses on Major Record Label Deals to Boost Profits

In its efforts to move more free-tier users to its $10/month subscription service, Spotify has redoubled its efforts to ink long-term licenses with major record labels. One potential option is that the labels would limit new releases to Spotify’s subscription tier in exchange for a lower percentage of subscription revenue. Another possibility is that Spotify will provide artists data and promotion in exchange for reduced royalty payments. Spotify is trying to settle the deals by end of 2016, say sources. Continue reading Spotify Focuses on Major Record Label Deals to Boost Profits

Sony, Universal Ink Deals with Pandora for Streaming Services

Sony Music, Universal Music and Merlin Network, which represents 20,000 independents, have agreed to license songs to Pandora for its two new music services. Pandora plans to offer the advertising-free Pandora Plus and an on-demand service similar to Spotify. The company is also still in talks with Warner Music in an attempt to ink a deal with this third-largest music rights holder. Pandora hopes to launch both of its new services by the end of 2016. As of June 30, Pandora says it has 78.1 million active listeners. Continue reading Sony, Universal Ink Deals with Pandora for Streaming Services

Stream-Ripping, the New Music Piracy, Becoming Problematic

The recording industry is concerned about a burgeoning trend: stream-ripping. Numerous mobile apps and sites now allow users to download MP3 files from songs on YouTube, thus circumventing both advertising and paid streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. The music industry has had reasonable success in fighting the kind of peer-to-peer file sharing that hurt CD sales, but this new kind of piracy is proving much harder to combat because it sources legitimate streaming services. Continue reading Stream-Ripping, the New Music Piracy, Becoming Problematic

Amazon, Pandora Ready Launch of Music Streaming Services

This year, for the first time, streaming music topped digital downloads as the largest source of music revenue in the U.S. The two biggest sources are Spotify and Apple Music, but SoundCloud, Deezer, Tidal and Google Play are also active. Now, both Amazon and Pandora are readying their entries into this crowded market. Both companies have almost locked-up licensing deals with the largest record labels. Amazon plans to launch its on-demand service as early as September, and Pandora will unveil its service later this year. Continue reading Amazon, Pandora Ready Launch of Music Streaming Services

Pandora Expands, Adds Questlove as First Artist Ambassador

Pandora took a major step as its service expands to directly compete with Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal: bringing on musician Questlove as its first artist ambassador. Questlove, whose Roots is the house band for NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” originally visited Pandora for non-specific discussions but, when its co-founder Tim Westergren showed him its Music Genome Project for categorizing songs by minute attributes, he was immediately hooked and accepted Westergren’s offer to join as a strategic adviser and ambassador. Continue reading Pandora Expands, Adds Questlove as First Artist Ambassador

Spotify Prepares to Go Public, Seeks Long-Term Music Rights

Spotify is readying an initial public offer next year, pressured by its most recent financing. Private-equity firm TPG, hedge fund Dragoneer Investment Group and Goldman Sachs are part of a group that issued $1 billion in convertible debt, which carries an interest rate that increases until Spotify’s IPO. Investors also get a discount on shares if they convert debt into equity — 20 percent now, but increasing if Spotify delays the IPO. One problem prevents Spotify from doing so: long-term rights for the music it plays. Continue reading Spotify Prepares to Go Public, Seeks Long-Term Music Rights

Pandora Readies Subscription-Based On-Demand Streaming

Pandora is expanding beyond its flagship free Internet radio, with two new monthly subscription options. According to sources, the company is near to inking deals with major record companies. Up until now, Pandora hasn’t needed to secure rights because listeners can’t get specific songs on demand, and the company has limited service in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, where music licensing is automatic in exchange for payments. The new tiers will debut first in the U.S. and then other English-speaking countries. Continue reading Pandora Readies Subscription-Based On-Demand Streaming

Spotify Revives ‘Kids’ Category with Early Childhood Learning

Spotify is relaunching its “Kids and Family” category, to focus on young children with vocabulary and language-development activities. An emphasis is on music, which improves language development in children ages 0 to 3. Spotify Kids provides playlists around daily activities such as bedtime, bath time and traveling in a car. As an aid to parents, the playlists come with breaks between songs when a prompt, voiced by a celebrity, offers parents ways to interact with their child. Continue reading Spotify Revives ‘Kids’ Category with Early Childhood Learning

Apple Bets on New iPhones to Boost Sales, Holiday Revenues

Apple is readying the debut of its next iPhone, which sources say will feature a dual-camera system (on the larger version), a re-engineered home button that vibrates, and no headphone jack. By featuring a design similar to last year’s 6S and 6S Plus, Apple is breaking its typical two-year redesign cycle. The two phones will reportedly retain the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes. The introduction of new iPhones is likely in response to dwindling sales, the result in part to the two-year gap between new models. Continue reading Apple Bets on New iPhones to Boost Sales, Holiday Revenues