Amazon Unlocks Revenue Potential for Alexa Skill Developers

According to Amazon, Alexa can perform 50,000+ skills, from turning on lights to playing music. The tech giant is now focused on improving Alexa’s skills to compete with Google for voice assistant dominance. Last month, Amazon empowered Alexa developers, by allowing them to charge users for purchases within skills, with the ultimate goal of making Alexa a more comprehensive, powerful platform. Former Alexa head of product Ahmed Bouzid noted that the path is “exactly what we saw with the App Store for the iPhone.” Continue reading Amazon Unlocks Revenue Potential for Alexa Skill Developers

Eventbrite to Sell Concert Tickets From YouTube Music Vids

Online video giant YouTube, which already has a deal with Ticketmaster, is adding Eventbrite to its ticketing initiative. The new partnership will bring Eventbrite listings for live music performances to YouTube’s Official Artist Channels on the video platform’s desktop and app versions. Event listings and a “Tickets” button will appear below an artist’s video so that fans can purchase tickets directly through Eventbrite. Through YouTube’s deals with Eventbrite and Ticketmaster, the streaming video platform covers more than 70 percent of the ticketing market in the U.S. Continue reading Eventbrite to Sell Concert Tickets From YouTube Music Vids

Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Just last week, Facebook announced its two new Portal video chat devices featuring 12-megapixel cameras with HD video and AI-powered software. New information suggests that the social giant is also readying a camera-equipped device codenamed “Ripley,” designed to work with your TV for video calling in addition to entertainment services including Facebook Watch. According to an insider with direct knowledge of the project, Ripley — which will use the same core tech as Portal — is likely to be announced by the spring of 2019. Continue reading Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

President Trump Signs the Music Modernization Act into Law

At a White House, President Trump signed the Music Modernization Act in a ceremony that was scaled back due to Trump’s monitoring of Hurricane Michael in Florida. The bipartisan act lets songwriters and artists be compensated for pre-1972 recordings, and gives them increased pay for works played on streaming services. In attendance were Kid Rock, the Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff Baxter, MercyMe, The Beach Boys’ Mike Love, Craig Morgan, John Rich, and Sam Moore. Numerous trade organizations celebrated the new legislation. Continue reading President Trump Signs the Music Modernization Act into Law

Apple Pursues Plan to Offer Free Content to Device Owners

According to sources, Apple is developing a new digital video service that will provide original content and third-party subscription services to owners of its devices. Content owned by Apple will be free to device owners, who will also be able to sign up for services from the likes of HBO and Starz. On current iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs, users can find a pre-installed TV app, say sources who also note the app will debut in early 2019. The company has already said it is spending $1 billion on PG-rated content this year. Continue reading Apple Pursues Plan to Offer Free Content to Device Owners

Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Facebook debuted Portal and Portal Plus, two video-calling devices, which sport a 12-megapixel camera with HD video and AI-empowered software — all in the service of video chatting. The AI is used to allow the camera to follow users. Portal and Portal Plus also include Amazon Alexa to play music or check the weather. Portal, with a 10-inch screen, is priced at $199, and Portal Plus, with a 15-inch screen that can be rotated, goes for $349. The devices will debut during the holiday season on a standalone website. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

IFPI: Music Streaming Continues its Growth, As Does Piracy

According to an annual report released by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), music streaming is continuing to rise, with 86 percent of respondents ages 16-64 in 20 top global markets opting for streaming. The report notes that 57 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds use a paid audio service. While nearly half of the time consuming on-demand music is via YouTube, the report finds that terrestrial radio is still relevant. And even though popular streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music have brought growth to the industry, piracy still remains a problem. Continue reading IFPI: Music Streaming Continues its Growth, As Does Piracy

U.S. Consumers Admit to Sharing Amazon, Netflix Accounts

According to a new study from Country Financial, a majority of U.S. consumers are sharing their login info for mobile, shopping and streaming accounts, but are not necessarily sharing the tab. The study found that overall, 74 percent of consumers say they share accounts for Airbnb, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Spotify and Uber with their family members and friends (and, in some cases, even their exes). However, more than 36 percent of those who freely share their accounts also indicate that they do not share the monthly costs of those accounts with others. Continue reading U.S. Consumers Admit to Sharing Amazon, Netflix Accounts

Hulu with Live TV Surpasses One Million Subscriber Milestone

Hulu’s live TV streaming service, launched just over a year ago, has topped one million subscribers, up from the 800,000 Hulu announced in May and the estimated 450,000 reported by CNBC at the beginning of the year. While its new service numbers are on the rise, they remain a mere fraction of Hulu’s total base of more than 20 million subscribers (including its paid on-demand programming). However, the milestone is significant considering the competition in the burgeoning space between services such as Sling TV from Dish (2.3 million subscribers) and AT&T’s DirecTV Now (1.8 million subscribers). Continue reading Hulu with Live TV Surpasses One Million Subscriber Milestone

Music Modernization Act Passed in Senate, Returns to House

Following the House of Representatives passage of the Music Modernization Act in April, the U.S. Senate also gave its unanimous consent on September 18. The bill was renamed after Republican Utah senator Orrin Hatch, also a songwriter, scheduled to retire at the end of his term this year. With the Senate passage, the bill will return to the House to get approval for all the changes made to achieve Senate approval. If and when the House approves, the bill will go to President Donald Trump to become law. Continue reading Music Modernization Act Passed in Senate, Returns to House

Sirius to Acquire Pandora Media in $3.5 Billion All-Stock Deal

Satellite radio giant SiriusXM is acquiring online music service Pandora Media in a $3.5 billion all-stock deal. The deal should help John Malone’s SiriusXM reach beyond its current audience that most commonly listens while driving, and better compete with Spotify. The satellite radio operator paid $480 million last year for a 19 percent stake in Pandora when it started losing subscribers to streaming services. Billionaire Malone has been expanding his radio empire; in addition to the Pandora deal, his Liberty Media has expressed interest in iHeartMedia. Continue reading Sirius to Acquire Pandora Media in $3.5 Billion All-Stock Deal

European Parliament Advances Copyright Bill Despite Critics

The European Parliament adopted a draft copyright bill to require tech platforms to pay more for music and news produced by media companies. If the law passes, EU countries will have two years to comply. Tech companies continue to fight against the bill’s final adoption; EDiMA, a trade group representing Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google among others, stated that the EU “decided to support the filtering of the Internet to the benefit of big businesses in the music and publishing industries despite huge public outcry.” Continue reading European Parliament Advances Copyright Bill Despite Critics

Our Stories: Snapchat Turns to Publishers to Boost Revenue

In an effort to grow its stalled user base and generate more revenue, Snap Inc. announced it will encourage 20 publishing partners such as CNN, Cosmopolitan, NBC News and Viacom to create curated collections of user posts called Our Stories. Each collection of snaps will center on a specific event and will be made available via Snapchat’s Discover section. Snap has been generating revenue through ad sales by curating Our Stories for events such as concerts, awards shows and sports. While these have been curated by Snapchat employees, Snap is now asking media companies to build the collections. Continue reading Our Stories: Snapchat Turns to Publishers to Boost Revenue

Apple Reportedly Pitching its Texture Service to Newspapers

In March, Apple purchased digital magazine service Texture, described as a Netflix for magazines, which lets subscribers read as many stories as they want from dozens of magazines for $10 per month. Now, according to sources, Apple — led by senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue — wants to add daily news and is in talks with The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post about adding their stories to the app. The move is part of Apple’s increased interest in content. Continue reading Apple Reportedly Pitching its Texture Service to Newspapers

Spotify Licensing Deals Could Have Impact on Music Industry

Stockholm-based Spotify is making a move that could challenge traditional royalty models and the major record labels that have long led the music industry. Spotify has struck licensing deals directly with a handful of independent artists over the last year, giving the artists a larger monetary cut and ownership of their recordings. The financial details include advance payments of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to sources, considered “modest” in the music industry. Spotify has released few details about the deals. Continue reading Spotify Licensing Deals Could Have Impact on Music Industry

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