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

Apple vs. Spotify: Battle for Podcasting Dominance Heats Up

The rivalry between Apple and Spotify to dominate the growing podcast market has heated up. Apple launched paid podcast subscriptions and Spotify recently partnered with Facebook to spur discovery. In its latest move, Spotify also launched a podcast subscription model but, unlike Apple, which keeps 30 percent of the fees, Spotify will allow content creators to keep 100 percent. Podcasting, which skyrocketed in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to bring in $1+ billion in advertising revenue this year. Continue reading Apple vs. Spotify: Battle for Podcasting Dominance Heats Up

Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced an upcoming suite of new audio products including a push into podcasting and Live Audio Rooms, an audio-only version of the Rooms videoconferencing product, intended to rival the popular Clubhouse audio app. Live Audio Rooms will roll out this summer as a test to public figures and groups. Users will be able to record and distribute their conversations and eventually charge for access to the rooms via a one-time fee or subscription. Meanwhile, Clubhouse closed a new Series C funding round. Continue reading Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Apple Music Pays 1 Cent per Stream but Metric Is Misleading

Apple Music informed musicians that it pays one penny per stream, which is roughly double the rate paid by Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service. Spotify pays about one-third to one-half penny per stream, which is potentially offset by its 155 million subscribers (out of 345 total active users) versus Apple Music’s 60+ million. The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) responded to Apple’s announcement by saying that all music streamers should pay one penny per stream “at a minimum.” Continue reading Apple Music Pays 1 Cent per Stream but Metric Is Misleading

Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Audio streaming service Spotify unveiled a voice assistant with the wake phrase “Hey Spotify” on Android and iOS. Unlike other voice assistants, the app must be open to work; it will play a song, pull up a playlist and tune into a radio station as well as skip and pause. App researcher Jane Manchun Wong reported that the mobile version of the feature has been in the works for at least a year. It is enabled via the “settings” button in the Spotify app where the user turns on “voice interactions.” Spotify is now facing privacy questions. Continue reading Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

Spotify acquired Clubhouse rival Betty Labs, which produces live sports audio app Locker Room, for an undisclosed amount of money. Although Locker Room will stay live in the App Store, Spotify will rebrand it with a new name and broaden its focus to include music and culture as well as sports. In addition to the iOS version, Spotify will eventually add an Android version. LinkedIn and Facebook are also developing live audio features as the trend continues to gain traction. These apps would compete with existing platforms Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Discord. Continue reading Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

Streaming Now Makes Up 83 Percent of Total Music Revenue

In its year-end report, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) stated that, in the U.S., recorded music revenues grew 9.2 percent to $12.2 billion at estimated retail value, the fifth consecutive year of growth. Paid subscription services, ad-supported on-demand platforms and digital radio added $10.1 billion in revenue, a 13.4 percent jump. Paid subscriptions to on-demand services such as Apple Music and Spotify represented the majority of recorded music revenue, growing 14.6 percent to $7 billion in 2020. Continue reading Streaming Now Makes Up 83 Percent of Total Music Revenue

Arizona Bill Curbing Apple, Google App Stores Passes House

Last week, the Arizona House of Representatives voted 31-29 to pass HB 2005, requiring app stores to allow app developers to use their own payment processing systems. Apple and Google, which have banned developers from doing so, have reaped 15-30 percent from every purchase made from an app in their stores. The bill’s House passage is considered a victory for the non-profit Coalition for App Fairness (CAF). To become law, the Arizona Senate has to approve the proposed legislation. Arizona governor Doug Ducey still has the option to veto it. Continue reading Arizona Bill Curbing Apple, Google App Stores Passes House

Square Acquires Majority Stake in Jay-Z’s Tidal Music Service

Digital payment firm Square is spending $297 million in cash and stock for a majority share of the subscription-based Tidal streaming music service. Tidal owner Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, will join Square’s board. Now, musicians on Tidal will be able to use Square’s Cash App payment service to digitally store and transfer money. Square hardware lead Jesse Dorogusker, who will temporarily lead Tidal, said, “we’re interested in a 360-degree view of artists as small-business owners,” noting live performances, merchandise and collaborations. Continue reading Square Acquires Majority Stake in Jay-Z’s Tidal Music Service

Spotify to Introduce Hi-Fi Option, Paid Podcast Subscriptions

Spotify will debut a Hi-Fi option later this year, the company announced during its recent “Stream On” presentation. Chief executive and co-founder Daniel Ek also revealed that the company paid $5 billion in royalties during 2020, and chief content officer Dawn Ostroff added that, over the last four years, 800+ recording artists have made more than $1 million a year in recording and publishing, up over 82 percent. About 7,500 artists made more than $100,000 a year, up 79 percent. Spotify also announced that it will launch paid podcast subscriptions. Continue reading Spotify to Introduce Hi-Fi Option, Paid Podcast Subscriptions

Spotify Reports Q4 Subscriber Growth, Focuses on Podcasts

Spotify Technology SA posted unexpectedly strong subscription growth during Q4 2020, to 345 million monthly active users, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Paid subscriptions grew 24 percent above the same period last year to 155 million. But average revenue per subscriber fell 8 percent to €4.26 ($5.13) due to discounted plans and lower rates in India and Russia. The company’s 2021 outlook takes into account that such growth could diminish in 2021. Shares of the company fell 9 percent to $315. Continue reading Spotify Reports Q4 Subscriber Growth, Focuses on Podcasts

Tension Erupts Between Apple, Facebook Over Targeted Ads

Facebook took the offense against Apple for its new policies limiting personalized ads on its products, stating that this would disproportionately hurt small businesses that rely on such ads. It pointed to internal research that found small businesses earned 60 percent less without access to targeted advertising. Facebook vice president for ads and business products Dan Levy called Apple’s move anticompetitive, benefitting the company’s own profits at the expense of not just small businesses but also app developers. Continue reading Tension Erupts Between Apple, Facebook Over Targeted Ads

Indie Musicians Find Success with Digital Platforms and Apps

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed concert venues and halted touring for musicians but now some are achieving success via Spotify, YouTube, TikTok and apps such as DistroKid, SubmitHub and ForTunes.io. Previously, musicians depended on the big music companies — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group — to promote and market their work. Now, according to distributor AWAL, hundreds of independent musicians are making $100,000+ from streaming, and Jayda G and RAC even got Grammy nominations. Continue reading Indie Musicians Find Success with Digital Platforms and Apps

YouTube Intros Audio Ads, Targeting Based on Music Genres

Google-owned YouTube is introducing 15-second audio ads on its video-sharing platform, the first such format aimed at those who listen to music or podcasts in the background. It is also enabling advertisers to make buys across “dynamic music lineups” such as Top 100 charts and collections of channels in genres like Latin or Country in addition to buys targeting moods or interests such as fitness or relaxation. But ads running on creators’ videos won’t generate a profit for them if they’re not big enough to be in YouTube’s Partner Program. Continue reading YouTube Intros Audio Ads, Targeting Based on Music Genres

Spotify Tests Service That Helps Artists Promote Their Music

Spotify is testing a new service that gives artists more power over how their music is discovered on its platform. First, it will allow artists and labels to identify the music that matters most to them, and Spotify will add a “signal” to help the music be found by its personalization algorithms. Spotify has created a model in which artists, labels and rights holders will be paid a “promotional recording royalty rate” for streams that it provides, although the service does not require an upfront budget for artists and labels. Continue reading Spotify Tests Service That Helps Artists Promote Their Music

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