Streaming Audio Gets Better with Free Lossless Audio Codec

The quality of digital audio has waxed and waned since storage migrated from physical media to files stored on devices or in the cloud. Up until now, large technology companies such as Apple have been the ones making audio developments, such as taking MP3 mainstream with the iTunes Music Store in 2003. Increases in bandwidth have helped improve the quality of streaming audio. Consumers have pushed for better audio, and now some music services have adopted FLAC, a Free Lossless Audio Codec that is changing the game. Continue reading Streaming Audio Gets Better with Free Lossless Audio Codec

Pandora Takes On Spotify With Debut of Personalized Playlists

Pandora believes it can out-playlist Spotify. The music streaming service has released new personalized playlist options for users, catering to moods, activities and genres. The feature is powered by Pandora’s Music Genome, an information database that “has been in development for over a decade and is capable of classifying music at the song level across 450 different attributes — ‘genes’ that can be as specific as what types of strings are on the guitar,” reports TechCrunch. Pandora’s new feature arrives on the eve of Spotify’s public debut, slated for early April (as a direct listing rather than IPO).

Continue reading Pandora Takes On Spotify With Debut of Personalized Playlists

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 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

CBS Five-Year Plan Looks to Expand OTT and Skinny Bundles

During an investor day in New York on Tuesday, CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves unveiled the network’s five-year business plan, which intends to ramp up business online and overseas, and cash in on retransmission fees in order to increase overall revenue by $3.75 billion. To help achieve its goal, the company plans to reach 8 million subscribers for its OTT services — CBS All Access and Showtime streaming — and add another 4 million subs for its skinny bundle packages. Sources also indicate that CBS has expressed interest in adding Starz to its cable portfolio. Continue reading CBS Five-Year Plan Looks to Expand OTT and Skinny Bundles

Pandora Ends Long Fight with ASCAP, BMI Over Royalty Rates

Pandora Media has ended its ongoing legal battles with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) over royalty rights, without disclosing the details of their new licensing agreement. Pandora previously licensed both performing-rights group’s catalogs based on rates that had been determined by the U.S. District Court in Manhattan that sets music royalty fees when the parties can’t agree. ASCAP and BMI currently represent a combined collection of 20 million songs. Continue reading Pandora Ends Long Fight with ASCAP, BMI Over Royalty Rates

Federal Ruling Updates Royalty Rates for Streaming Music

When a panel of federal judges increased the royalty rates that free Internet radio services pay, there were winners and losers. The rate for pure-play Internet services rose to 17 cents from 14 cents, disappointing SoundExchange, the non-profit licensing agency representing record companies, which had asked for 25 cents. The Copyright Royalty Board also evened the playing field between pure-play and broadcasters with Web streams such as iHeartRadio, with the latter owing less — 22 cents rather than 25 cents — for their paid subscriptions. Continue reading Federal Ruling Updates Royalty Rates for Streaming Music

Pandora Media to Acquire Rdio Assets Following Bankruptcy

Pandora has largely been focused on Internet radio since its inception, but has also been increasingly competing with on-demand music services such as Spotify and Apple Music. The company announced yesterday that it plans to spend $75 million for the assets of struggling online service Rdio, which is filing for bankruptcy. The move could help Pandora significantly expand the way it delivers music. While the company presently touts 78 million customers, most of them listen for free, and the current Pandora model involves a feed of songs based on a user’s tastes, but with limited control. Rdio’s tech could offer Pandora users more control over their selections. Continue reading Pandora Media to Acquire Rdio Assets Following Bankruptcy

Pandora and Sony/ATV No Longer Opponents in Streaming Wars

Pandora Media and Sony/ATV announced a multiyear licensing deal yesterday that brings the companies together to provide better rates for artists while allowing Pandora to “benefit from greater rate certainty” that could also help “add new flexibility to the company’s product offering over time.” The direct licensing deal arrives as the music industry prepares for potential changes regarding federal regulation of songwriting rights. Sony/ATV is the world’s biggest music publisher with songwriting rights to thousands of artists, including the Beatles and Taylor Swift. Continue reading Pandora and Sony/ATV No Longer Opponents in Streaming Wars

Apple Blends Streaming, Social, Radio for New Music Service

The new Apple Music service, unveiled during yesterday’s WWDC in San Francisco, will be released for iOS the end of this month and will be coming to Android devices this fall. The service will allow subscribers to stream their favorite music, access curated playlists, and watch music videos and exclusive clips in HD for $9.99 per month. The company is also offering a $14.99 family plan for sharing Apple Music with up to five other people. Apple is adding a global radio station called Beats 1 that will be run by DJ and music producer Zane Lowe. Continue reading Apple Blends Streaming, Social, Radio for New Music Service

Apple Plans Music Streaming Service to Compete with Spotify

Facing a decline in download sales, Apple plans to launch a competitor to Spotify and other music streaming services. The announcement will likely be made at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference. In 2003, the iTunes Music Store revolutionized how consumers buy music. While Apple currently sells about 80-85 percent of global music downloads, music consumption has changed, and the company only has a small fraction of the streaming business. Meanwhile, Spotify accounts for 86 percent of on-demand music streaming in the United States. Continue reading Apple Plans Music Streaming Service to Compete with Spotify

Google Play Adds Songza Playlists for its Music Subscribers

Subscribers to Google Play Music All Access will now be able to pick from activity-based Internet radio stations powered by Songza. Songza curates Internet radio offerings based on time of day and activities. Google acquired Songza back in July, but this is the first time it has integrated Songza’s offerings. The tech giant is playing catch-up in the Internet radio business to iHeartRadio, Slacker, Beats Music and Spotify, which already offer activity-based music playlists. Continue reading Google Play Adds Songza Playlists for its Music Subscribers

CD and Download Sales Drop as Music Fans Turn to Streaming

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, less than $3.2 billion in music sales was recorded for the first half of 2014, a 4.9 percent drop from the same period last year. While the growth of online streaming services continues to generate revenue for artists and record companies, it may not be enough to offset the reduction in sales of CDs and downloads. While downloads and streaming together totaled $2.2 billion (a similar total to last year), downloads dropped by 9 percent. Continue reading CD and Download Sales Drop as Music Fans Turn to Streaming

M-GO to Replace Samsung’s Video and Media Streaming Hub

Samsung is shifting away from direct media sales and ending its Video and Media hub, which directly sold and rented digital content to consumers. On July 31, Samsung’s video streaming service for Galaxy mobile devices and Samsung Smart TVs will no longer be available. On-demand streaming service M-GO will assume all Samsung Video accounts. Users who bought movies or TV shows through the Samsung Video and Media hub will be able to access their content through M-GO. Continue reading M-GO to Replace Samsung’s Video and Media Streaming Hub

Twitter Plays it Safe with Modest IPO, Aims to Sway Investors

According to Twitter’s regulatory filing, the company is looking to raise up to $1.4 billion in its initial public offering with a share-price range of $17 to $20. That would value the social network at about $9.4 billion to $11.1 billion, considerably less than earlier estimates that placed it as high as $16 billion. The modest valuation suggests that the company hopes to avoid the backlash Facebook experienced with its aggressive IPO. The approach could help Twitter win investors who are wary of the network’s mobile business model. Continue reading Twitter Plays it Safe with Modest IPO, Aims to Sway Investors

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