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).

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Spotify Promotes Potential Growth as It Prepares to Go Public

As Spotify Technology SA prepares to go public, co-founder and chief executive officer Daniel Ek has some convincing to do. Not necessarily about the company’s numbers, which are impressive (70 million paying subscribers, for starters), but about the potential for growth and revenue. On the one hand, with Spotify’s help, the music business has seen three years of global growth after 15 years of decline — but on the other hand, Spotify isn’t making money, having to contend with music-rights holders collecting over 75 cents per dollar.

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Streaming Accounts for Nearly Two-Thirds of Music Revenue

According to a 2017 report from the Recording Industry Association of America, revenue for recorded music in the U.S. grew 16.5 percent last year to a retail value of $8.7 billion. “We‘re delighted by the progress so far,” explained RIAA CEO Cary Sherman, “but to put the numbers in context, these two years of growth only return the business to 60 percent of its peak size  —  about where it stood ten years ago  —  and that’s ignoring inflation.” Variety reports: “Like 2016, the boost came primarily from the rapid growth in paid music subscriptions to services like Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, Tidal, Pandora and others, which grew by more than 50 percent.” Streaming represented nearly two-thirds of music revenue last year. Continue reading Streaming Accounts for Nearly Two-Thirds of Music Revenue

Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker has debuted to mixed reviews. HomePod can stream music directly from Apple Music but no other popular music streaming service such as Spotify or Pandora. It’s equally partisan in that, despite its Bluetooth, users must use Apple’s own AirPlay to stream the music, and Android phones aren’t able to pair with it. The Home app lets users set up and control a variety of HomeKit-compatible smart home devices. The system currently lacks the ability to link HomePods together for a multi-room setup. Continue reading Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Songwriters, Music Publishers Get More in Streaming Royalties

The National Music Publishers’ Association raised music streaming royalties for songwriters and music publishers by more than 40 percent in an attempt to resolve a conflict between them and the streaming services, including those from Amazon, Apple, Google, Pandora and Spotify. The Copyright Royalty Board now requires those services to pay the aggrieved parties 15.1 percent of their revenue, up from a previous 10.5 percent. Songwriters and music publishers will now receive $1 for every $3.82 the recording labels receive. Continue reading Songwriters, Music Publishers Get More in Streaming Royalties

Vuzix Blade AR Smart Sunglasses Win Multiple Awards at CES

At CES 2018 in Las Vegas last week, Vuzix debuted the Vuzix Blade, AR smart sunglasses that are the result of years of research and are based on the company’s proprietary waveguide technology. The glasses work via a tiny LED projector in the temple area of the glasses that shoots an image sideways into the lens. The lenses are laser-etched with dots at different depths that “catch” the projected image and illumine it in the wearer’s field of view. When the AR functionality is turned off, the glasses look ordinary. Continue reading Vuzix Blade AR Smart Sunglasses Win Multiple Awards at CES

Netflix Takes #1 Ranking for Top Non-Game App By Revenue

Sensor Tower lists Netflix as the top-earning app for 2017 (not counting mobile games). According to TechCrunch: “The service saw gross subscriber revenue of approximately $510 million — a 138 percent increase over last year. That’s about 2.4 times the $215 million users spent in the Netflix app in 2016.” In previous years, the #1 ranking was earned by Spotify and LINE. The annual report ranks apps and publishers available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Top earners on Google Play included Tinder, Google Drive, LINE, Pandora, and HBO Now. Continue reading Netflix Takes #1 Ranking for Top Non-Game App By Revenue

Pandora Hopes to Convert Users with Free On-Demand Music

Pandora Media is launching free on-demand music with 15-second ads, in an effort to boost declining revenue and users. In doing so, it inches closer to rival Spotify’s model. According to one source, the user will be able to queue up 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour of specific songs for every ad watched; the company is still testing models that mix music and ads. By offering free songs in exchange for ads, Pandora hopes to entice listeners to sign up for its $9.99 per month Premium on-demand tier, which was introduced in March. Continue reading Pandora Hopes to Convert Users with Free On-Demand Music

Comcast, Charter Reportedly In Talks to Ink Deals With Hulu

Comcast and Charter Communications are reportedly in talks with Hulu to offer its on-demand content via their set-top boxes. Currently, Comcast offers Dish Network’s Sling TV, Netflix and YouTube with its X1 service, which offers voice-activated search for movies and TV shows. Comcast’s goal is to become a “one-stop shop” for digital video services, says company executive vice president Matt Strauss. Sources say that Charter is also on track to add Netflix via a new user interface for web video. Continue reading Comcast, Charter Reportedly In Talks to Ink Deals With Hulu

Taylor Swift’s Album Debuts on CD, Not Streaming Services

Taylor Swift is releasing her sixth album, “Reputation,” on CD, rather than any streaming service, say sources, who suggest that the streaming “blackout” could last one or two weeks. Swift and her label Big Machine Records have declined to be more specific, but an initial streaming blackout would be in line with Swift’s last album, “1989,” which when it was released in 2014 took seven months to reach streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music and others. Now, “1989” streaming sales dominate over downloads and CDs. Continue reading Taylor Swift’s Album Debuts on CD, Not Streaming Services

Microsoft, Harman Kardon Debut New Speaker With Cortana

Microsoft and Samsung Electronics’ Harman Kardon division have married digital assistant Cortana with the Invoke speaker to create a new voice-enabled device priced at $199. The smart speaker, the first for Microsoft, comes three years after Amazon launched Echo, the first product to pioneer a now-burgeoning space. The Invoke has a similar form factor to Amazon’s original Echo, and can play music, answer questions about sports scores and perform other tasks typical of digital assistant-powered speakers. Continue reading Microsoft, Harman Kardon Debut New Speaker With Cortana

Paid Subs for Streaming Music Services Top 30 Million in U.S.

The music business is experiencing significant growth, thanks in large part to the increasing popularity of streaming services. According to RIAA’s midyear report, leading services such as Spotify and Apple Music currently have 30.4 million paid subscribers in the U.S. (up from 20.2 million the previous year). Streaming services are now responsible for 62 percent of total industry revenue, followed by 19 percent for digital downloads, 16 percent for physical sales, and 3 percent for synch rights. Continue reading Paid Subs for Streaming Music Services Top 30 Million in U.S.

Apple Inks Deal With Warner Music Group, Sony Pact Next

Apple inked a deal with Warner Music Group, its first with a major label since it launched Apple Music, its streaming music service. According to insiders, Warner will provide Apple with an extensive song catalog for both iTunes and Apple Music. Sources say that Apple will pay a smaller percentage of sales from Apple Music subscribers than it did under its first deal. On-demand streaming is now the dominant model for music sales, and the technology companies and music publishers are creating a framework for doing business. Continue reading Apple Inks Deal With Warner Music Group, Sony Pact Next

Fitbit to Launch First Real Smartwatch With Focus on Fitness

Fitbit will debut its first true smartwatch, the $300 Ionic, in October. This new gadget, however, is focused on the company’s core competency — fitness — although it still offers typical smartwatch functionalities, including music, mobile payments and push notifications. Since Fitbit views health and fitness as the killer app, the Ionic offers an expanded range of health-oriented functions. Fitbit co-founder/chief executive James Park said the decision to take this tack was because he saw that consumers have been confused about the purpose of smartwatches. Continue reading Fitbit to Launch First Real Smartwatch With Focus on Fitness

Facebook and Google Take the Lead in Popular Mobile Apps

According to comScore’s annual U.S. Mobile Apps Report, consumers spend 57 percent of their digital media time on smartphones and tablets using apps. The figure is roughly the same as the previous year, suggesting that the shift to mobile has reached a point of leveling out. The report also notes that Facebook and Google own eight of the top 10 apps. Among the most popular mobile apps today are Facebook (top app for all age groups except 18- to 24-year-olds), YouTube (No. 2 overall and No. 1 with 18- to 24-year-olds), Facebook Messenger, Google Search, Google Maps, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Play, Gmail and Pandora. Continue reading Facebook and Google Take the Lead in Popular Mobile Apps

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