Apple Allows Reader Apps to Use Outside Payment Systems

After an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), Apple agreed to let Netflix, Spotify and some other companies use payment methods outside Apple’s App Store when users sign up for subscriptions. Analysts dub the move a “strategic retreat” from what has been a huge source of revenue for Apple. During Epic Games’ lawsuit against the tech giant, lawyers revealed that 81 percent of the App Store’s 2016 revenue came from games, 3 percent from music and 4 percent from other forms of entertainment. Continue reading Apple Allows Reader Apps to Use Outside Payment Systems

Spotify Deploys ‘Blend’ Feature to Enable Sharing of Playlists

Spotify has globally launched Blend, a two-party playlist generator designed for social listening. The feature allows both paid and free mobile users to tag-team song streams that can be shared across all platforms. Using the technology behind Spotify’s Family Mix and Duo Mix multi-person apps, this variation offers a twist; after creating a Blend participants receive a “taste match score” that reveals similarities and differences between the pair’s listening preferences and can compare their preferences to those of their friends. Continue reading Spotify Deploys ‘Blend’ Feature to Enable Sharing of Playlists

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

Spotify Opens Podcast Subscription Service to U.S. Creators

Swedish audio streaming service Spotify is now allowing all U.S.-based podcasters to use Anchor, its podcast creation and distribution platform, to sell subscriptions for exclusive episodes available via a private RSS feed and within the Spotify app. The company is increasing its pricing options and enabling podcasters to download email addresses of paying subscribers who opt in. Spotify will not take a revenue cut until 2023, when it will begin to take 5 percent. It still does not offer a “subscribe” button, meaning listeners have to go to an external website to sign up. Continue reading Spotify Opens Podcast Subscription Service to U.S. Creators

Spotify Increases Its Ad Revenue While User Growth Is ‘Soft’

Spotify Technology saw its advertising revenue more than double during the quarter ending June 30, but its audio streaming service added fewer total users than expected. Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek noted that, “while I’m disappointed that our [user] growth was softer in the last half of Q1 and the first half of Q2, the good news is that we’ve seen that trend line reverse, and all the leading indicators I’m seeing show that we are back on track.” At the end of the quarter, Spotify had 365 million monthly active users, a 22 percent bump year-over-year. Continue reading Spotify Increases Its Ad Revenue While User Growth Is ‘Soft’

YouTube Theater Will Debut This Summer in Hollywood Park

The three-story, 6,000-seat YouTube Theater will open mid-summer in Inglewood, California near SoFi Stadium and American Airlines Plaza, to host live entertainment and YouTube award shows, creator events, eSports competitions, concerts and more. The theater is the fruit of a 10-year naming rights agreement struck between Hollywood Park, a development backed by Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke, and Google’s YouTube. Financial terms were not disclosed. YouTube Theater will offer the company another way to build brand awareness. Continue reading YouTube Theater Will Debut This Summer in Hollywood Park

Google Reduces Developer Fees via Its Play Media Experience

Google has unveiled the Play Media Experience Program, offering app developers “additional discovery and engagement opportunities across devices” and a “service fee of 15 percent for all applicable earnings.” The company said the program is the global expansion of a previous invite-only program that it had never publicly revealed. Amazon and Apple apparently had similar programs that they’ve expanded, but Google’s program is distinct in that it asks developers to support Google TV, Wear OS, Android Auto and its other platforms. Continue reading Google Reduces Developer Fees via Its Play Media Experience

Spotify Introduces Live Audio App and Plans Its Creator Fund

Music streaming service Spotify launched its live audio app, Greenroom, for iOS and Android. Built on Locker Room — the app focused on sports content created by Betty Labs and acquired by Spotify in March — the Greenroom app is similar to Clubhouse in that it allows users to host live conversations about music, sports and other topics. Branded with Spotify colors and a new logo, Greenroom features native recordings, which can be distributed as podcasts. Although users can sign in with Spotify credentials, it is not required to use the app. Continue reading Spotify Introduces Live Audio App and Plans Its Creator Fund

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’s SharePlay to Power Watch Parties for FaceTime Users

As part of iOS 15, Apple will debut SharePlay to allow FaceTime users to stream online videos, movies and music from Apple TV or an iPad, iPhone or Mac and watch with friends while chatting — similarly to Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Houseparty. During COVID-19, the watch party feature was also adopted by Disney+, Hulu and Prime Video. SharePlay is ideally aimed at teens who are more likely to watch videos on their phones and chat. A Pew Research study showed that 59 percent of U.S. teens video-chat with friends. Continue reading Apple’s SharePlay to Power Watch Parties for FaceTime Users

Amazon to Acquire MGM in Deal Valued at Nearly $8.5 Billion

Amazon announced this morning that it will purchase MGM Studios for $8.45 billion, signaling the tech giant’s serious intent to expand its entertainment ambitions by beefing up its Prime Video content library to better compete with Netflix, Hulu and the growing collection of streaming video services. The deal marks the second largest acquisition for Amazon; the company paid $13.7 billion for Whole Foods in 2017. Amazon plans to leverage MGM’s significant catalog of 4,000 movies and 17,000 television shows to help strengthen its film and TV unit Amazon Studios. Continue reading Amazon to Acquire MGM in Deal Valued at Nearly $8.5 Billion

Pinterest Rolls Out Idea Pins, Like Stories But Not Ephemeral

Pinterest has been moving away from its identity as a social network and making moves toward e-commerce. Now, the company is introducing Idea Pins, which it calls “an evolution of Story Pins, with a fresh name to better match the uniqueness of a product that empowers creators to share long-lasting ideas and not ephemeral stories.” Similar to the Stories feature common with other apps, Idea Pins consist of video clips up to 60 seconds that users can tap through. New publishing tools to create Idea Pins include video-first features, editing tools and updates. Continue reading Pinterest Rolls Out Idea Pins, Like Stories But Not Ephemeral

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

Behind the Scenes, TikTok Working Hard to Create Viral Hits

Hit songs on TikTok seem to arise spontaneously, spurred on by user enthusiasm. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Take Megan Thee Stallion, for example, who recently won a Grammy for best female rapper. Her popular song “Savage” first become a hit on TikTok after that platform’s management analyzed user data and advised the singer’s record label how to best promote her. In other words, Tik Tok, which is described by experts as “more controlled” than competing apps, helps pick which videos go viral. Continue reading Behind the Scenes, TikTok Working Hard to Create Viral Hits

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