Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced an upcoming suite of new audio products including a push into podcasting and Live Audio Rooms, an audio-only version of the Rooms videoconferencing product, intended to rival the popular Clubhouse audio app. Live Audio Rooms will roll out this summer as a test to public figures and groups. Users will be able to record and distribute their conversations and eventually charge for access to the rooms via a one-time fee or subscription. Meanwhile, Clubhouse closed a new Series C funding round. Continue reading Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

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

Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Audio streaming service Spotify unveiled a voice assistant with the wake phrase “Hey Spotify” on Android and iOS. Unlike other voice assistants, the app must be open to work; it will play a song, pull up a playlist and tune into a radio station as well as skip and pause. App researcher Jane Manchun Wong reported that the mobile version of the feature has been in the works for at least a year. It is enabled via the “settings” button in the Spotify app where the user turns on “voice interactions.” Spotify is now facing privacy questions. Continue reading Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Facebook Tests Web-Based Audio Q&A Application ‘Hotline’

Facebook’s R&D group NPE Team (New Product Experimentation) debuted the public beta of Hotline, a web-based application that allows creators to speak to an audience that can pose questions via text or audio. The first to try out Hotline was real estate investor Nick Huber who, via a livestream, talked about investing in industrial real estate as a secondary income. NPE Team identified Huber as an ideal Hotline user who would use it to expand professional skills or finances. Hotline is led by Facebook product developer Erik Hazzard. Continue reading Facebook Tests Web-Based Audio Q&A Application ‘Hotline’

Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

Spotify acquired Clubhouse rival Betty Labs, which produces live sports audio app Locker Room, for an undisclosed amount of money. Although Locker Room will stay live in the App Store, Spotify will rebrand it with a new name and broaden its focus to include music and culture as well as sports. In addition to the iOS version, Spotify will eventually add an Android version. LinkedIn and Facebook are also developing live audio features as the trend continues to gain traction. These apps would compete with existing platforms Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Discord. Continue reading Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

YouTube Shorts, intended to rival video-sharing social media platform TikTok, rolled out in beta to a small group of U.S. users, after debuting first in India last fall. Shorts project lead Todd Sherman said the company plans to experiment with advertising and monetization features for creators “later this year.” In beta, Shorts offers the ability to add text to points in the video and sample audio from other Shorts. Similar to TikTok, YouTube Shorts is focused on music. Shorts, however, integrates with the larger YouTube platform. Continue reading YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

Twitter to Launch Chat Alternative to Clubhouse Next Month

Twitter will debut Spaces, a rival to audio-chat app Clubhouse, in April according to a tweet in a public Twitter Space audio room by host Alex (@akkhosh). Twitter will also soon allow anyone to host a Twitter Spaces room. Twitter Spaces was released in beta on the Android platform late in 2020. The product will roll out for Android and iOS; Twitter is also considering support for using music and allowing tweeting in Spaces. In addition, Twitter is working on a Spaces “Tip Jar” to let users donate to content creators with donations. Continue reading Twitter to Launch Chat Alternative to Clubhouse Next Month

Creators Launch Audio Collective to Support New Community

Clubhouse, the popular audio chat app, has inspired other social media platforms to follow in its footsteps. In the process, the nascent audio creation space now has its own influencers. In response, 40 audio creators have established the Audio Collective to serve this cohort. The Collective has positioned itself as a one-stop shop for event planning, brand consulting, support and community. The founders also plan to ask Clubhouse for better moderation policies, insights and performance metrics as well as monetization tools. Continue reading Creators Launch Audio Collective to Support New Community

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

DJs Facing DMCA Takedowns on Twitch Look for Alternatives

Twitch evolved from a video-game streaming site to include creative content and, in 2018, music. During COVID-19, many DJs have been using Twitch as a way to keep their local music scene alive. In Minneapolis, for example, Dave Eckblad produces the Twitch stream for music collective Intellephunk, including live events that engage fans and draw in tips. StreamElements reports that, over the course of one year, the number of hours users spend streaming music and performing arts skyrocketed from 3.6 million to 17.6 million. However, complying with copyright regulation may have an impact on this trend. Continue reading DJs Facing DMCA Takedowns on Twitch Look for Alternatives

Spotify to Introduce Hi-Fi Option, Paid Podcast Subscriptions

Spotify will debut a Hi-Fi option later this year, the company announced during its recent “Stream On” presentation. Chief executive and co-founder Daniel Ek also revealed that the company paid $5 billion in royalties during 2020, and chief content officer Dawn Ostroff added that, over the last four years, 800+ recording artists have made more than $1 million a year in recording and publishing, up over 82 percent. About 7,500 artists made more than $100,000 a year, up 79 percent. Spotify also announced that it will launch paid podcast subscriptions. Continue reading Spotify to Introduce Hi-Fi Option, Paid Podcast Subscriptions

Spotify Reports Q4 Subscriber Growth, Focuses on Podcasts

Spotify Technology SA posted unexpectedly strong subscription growth during Q4 2020, to 345 million monthly active users, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Paid subscriptions grew 24 percent above the same period last year to 155 million. But average revenue per subscriber fell 8 percent to €4.26 ($5.13) due to discounted plans and lower rates in India and Russia. The company’s 2021 outlook takes into account that such growth could diminish in 2021. Shares of the company fell 9 percent to $315. Continue reading Spotify Reports Q4 Subscriber Growth, Focuses on Podcasts

CES: TV Technologies Takes Center Stage at Annual Confab

The demand for upgraded televisions and streaming content has increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic. Nielsen reports that streaming services currently account for a quarter of all TV viewing in North America and, according to CES producer the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), consumers upgrading their TVs led to a shipment record for 2020, a trend expected to continue this year. In addition, an Ampere study indicates that the average U.S. household subscribes to four streaming services. CES 2021 showcased a compelling array of TVs and related tech, including 8K, QNED, MicroLED, MiniLED, NanoCell TVs, ATSC 3.0 (NextGen TV), Filmmaker Mode, transparent displays, enhanced game support and more. Continue reading CES: TV Technologies Takes Center Stage at Annual Confab

CES: Sony Integrates Movie Streaming to Promote Bravia TVs

Sony announced during CES 2021 that its new line of Bravia XR television sets would provide consumers with the Bravia Core platform for streaming select movies from Sony Pictures Entertainment. The company indicates that its Pure Stream tech enables “near lossless” ultra high-def Blu-ray Disc quality. The Bravia Core platform comes pre-loaded on new Bravia XR models including Sony’s 8K LED, OLED and 4K LED models. Access to film titles is based on a type of voucher system in which customers are given credits depending on which Bravia XR model is purchased. Continue reading CES: Sony Integrates Movie Streaming to Promote Bravia TVs

CES: LG Presents 48-Inch ‘Bendable’ OLED Gaming Monitor

LG Display demonstrated “the world’s first” 48-inch, bendable, 4K gaming monitor during CES 2021. According to LG, the monitor’s thin OLED screen features a curvature radius that allows it to bend up to 1,000 mm without impacting the display’s functionality. The company’s Bendable CSO (Cinematic Sound OLED) display is designed to serve as a traditional flat screen for watching television and easily convert to a curved screen for a more immersive gaming experience. The display also includes tech that enables it to vibrate and create sound without speakers. Continue reading CES: LG Presents 48-Inch ‘Bendable’ OLED Gaming Monitor

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