Spotify Now Producing Original Music-Focused Video Content

Music streaming service Spotify, which boasts 75 million users, plans to debut 12 new original video programs around music themes. The new programs, which will feature performances, pop culture, musical storytelling, animation and videos about music culture, will be produced and streamed beginning this summer. Spotify had announced a year ago that it planned to move into video. The content will initially be available in four regions — the U.S., U.K., Germany and its home market Sweden — out of the company’s 59 markets. Continue reading Spotify Now Producing Original Music-Focused Video Content

Pandora Taps Westergren as Chief Exec, Moves to Streaming

Pandora Media, which has been a major player in online music for the last decade, is in the midst of reinventing itself. As competition in the online music space has grown fierce, particularly as Spotify and Apple Music have transformed streaming music, Pandora’s numbers of monthly users and its stock has fallen. This week, the company announced it was replacing its chief executive with one of its founders, Tim Westergren, who had been serving on the board. Pandora has also reportedly examined the possibility of a sale. Continue reading Pandora Taps Westergren as Chief Exec, Moves to Streaming

Streaming Boosts Music Revenues, But Not Equally for Artists

The Recording Industry Association of America reports that streaming is booming, more than offsetting declines in CD sales and digital downloads. In 2015, overall revenues rose almost 1 percent to $7 billion, the fifth consecutive year that the market grew — albeit slightly — in wholesale value. But artists and their representatives are saying that the gains aren’t being fairly shared, since many users still listen for free. In 2014, for example, on-demand streams grew 63 percent while revenue increased only 34 percent. Continue reading Streaming Boosts Music Revenues, But Not Equally for Artists

With Sony Music Deal, SoundCloud Reaches 18 Million Artists

Streaming music service SoundCloud finalized a deal with Sony Music to increase the number of songs listeners can access via SoundCloud and also allow Sony Music Entertainment artists to make money from their tracks hosted on its service. The deal with Sony Music is just the latest in several that SoundCloud has inked with other music publishers including Merlin (representing 20,000 indie labels) in June 2015, Universal Music Group earlier this year, and Warner Music in 2014. Continue reading With Sony Music Deal, SoundCloud Reaches 18 Million Artists

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 Unveils AMPcast Social Audio Messaging for Artists

Pandora just launched AMPcast, which lets a musician communicate with his fans via audio messages that he can record on his mobile phone and post to run in conjunction with his music streams. Pandora, which has 80 million users, is competing in this space with Spotify, which has acquired startups to expand messaging and social networking. AMPcast also competes with Superphone, a new service from musician Ryan Leslie that uses SMS and users’ phone numbers to directly message fans. Continue reading Pandora Unveils AMPcast Social Audio Messaging for Artists

RIAA Now Counts Streaming in Determining Platinum Records

The organization that awards gold and platinum record certifications to top selling artists has updated the way it counts album sales to include streaming data. The Recording Industry Association of America will now count 1,500 audio or video song streams as ten track sales, which equals one album sale. An artist’s album will achieve gold record status when it sells more than 500,000 copies and platinum record status when it sells more than 1,000,000 copies. Continue reading RIAA Now Counts Streaming in Determining Platinum Records

SoundCloud Debuts New ‘Stations’ Feature for its Mobile Apps

Music streaming service SoundCloud intends to make music discovery easier through its new “Stations” feature for iOS and Android apps. Stations can create an endless playlist of music based on a search term or track. The new feature populates these stations with songs related to a user’s “Likes” on the streaming music platform. Users have long sought such a feature to make discovery easier. SoundCloud’s latest update makes it more comparable to paid streaming services like Pandora, Apple Music and Spotify. Continue reading SoundCloud Debuts New ‘Stations’ Feature for its Mobile Apps

Podcast Experiments with Sharing Related Multimedia Content

Podcasts have some unique challenges in attracting new listeners, since there is no universal method for sharing audio files on social media and distribution has been mainly limited to the Apple Podcasts app. However, podcasts like “Serial” are trying to change that by producing more multimedia content to make it easier to share on a wider variety of social media and spread the word about the show. Other brands, like Google Play and Pandora, are jumping into podcast distribution with new apps and products. Continue reading Podcast Experiments with Sharing Related Multimedia Content

CES: Philips is Third Manufacturer to Unveil 4K Blu-ray Player

Philips has joined Panasonic and Samsung in announcing a 4K UHD Blu-ray player with support for high dynamic range. The BDP7501 offers upscaling for non-4K content and includes HDMI, Wi-Fi and Ethernet for connectivity. It also includes built-in support for HEVC and VP9 codecs, which should make it ideal for streaming 4K content from services such as Netflix and YouTube. What may set it apart from early competition, however, is its unique compact design, more akin to a set-top box than a standard disc player. The BDP7501 is expected to ship this spring for under $400. Continue reading CES: Philips is Third Manufacturer to Unveil 4K Blu-ray Player

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

Netflix Earns Spot in the Top 10 Grossing Apps Worldwide

Netflix has become one of the world’s top grossing apps after the streaming company introduced an in-app subscription option. Netflix placed ninth in App Annie’s Top Grossing Apps chart for November 2015. This marks the first time that Netflix has made the list, joining the ranks of other streaming services including Spotify, Pandora, HBO Now and Hulu. Netflix’s reluctance to sell subscriptions through its app in the past may have been due to Apple’s steep cut of in-app purchase revenue. Continue reading Netflix Earns Spot in the Top 10 Grossing Apps Worldwide

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

Streaming Music Services Thrive But Free On-Demand a Threat

Depending on where you live, the top music-streaming site might be Spotify, Pandora or even Saavn. A new music-focused report from App Annie crowns Spotify as “the world’s top streaming music service” in terms of active users, downloads and revenue. But, in the U.S., the No. 1 spot goes to Pandora Radio, a hit among active users on iPhone and Android. And in other markets, local providers are topping the charts, including Saavn and Gaana in India, Deezer in France and South Korea’s MelOn, among others. Continue reading Streaming Music Services Thrive But Free On-Demand a Threat

Pandora, Spotify Explore On-Demand Music and Ticket Sales

Pandora just acquired Rdio for its technology and talent, and Spotify is unrolling Fan Insights to offer its musicians a way to research its fan base and plan smarter tours. In both cases, these popular streaming music services are expanding beyond their core expertise — and their unstable revenue — by uniting radio, on demand and even live shows. As bigger players such as Apple, Google and Amazon create music services, Pandora and Spotify must offer more services to survive. Continue reading Pandora, Spotify Explore On-Demand Music and Ticket Sales

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