European Union, U.K. Seek New Ways to Regulate Big Tech

After failing to have much of an impact on Google with its $8+ billion fine, the European Union devised new regulations, the Digital Services Act (DSA), to rein in Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The new strategy is to create basic rules for data-sharing and digital markets operations. The U.S. is preparing another case against Google, and the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is calling for a “new pro-competition regulatory regime” to control Facebook, Google and other Big Tech companies. Continue reading European Union, U.K. Seek New Ways to Regulate Big Tech

Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

The Justice Department is scrutinizing Apple’s App Store rules, specifically the requirement that app developers use Apple Pay, which takes up to a 30 percent cut. Since mid-2019, lawyers have been interviewing app developers about their experiences with Apple. Developers have pushed back by blocking subscriptions and payments on their apps or charging higher rates on iPhone apps. The DOJ’s antitrust resources are focused on Google’s dominance in digital advertising, which may result in a case as early as this summer. Continue reading Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

Apple is Next Target of European Commission Investigations

European Commission executive vice president in charge of competition Margrethe Vestager is ramping up her scrutiny of U.S. tech giants, including Apple and Amazon. She’s currently targeting Apple’s “gatekeeper” position with third-party apps and Apple Pay. She is also looking more closely at Amazon’s position in online retail. Bloomberg Intelligence antitrust analyst Aitor Ortiz, however, noted that the $9 billion fine she levied against Google didn’t stop the tech giant from continuing to dominate search. The fines “don’t really have a deterrent effect,” he concluded. Continue reading Apple is Next Target of European Commission Investigations

Spotify Rolls Out Premium Feature for Party Mode Streaming

Spotify just debuted Group Sessions, a feature in beta testing for exclusive use of Premium subscribers. Group Sessions acts as a kind of “party mode” to allow two or more users in the same space to share control of the music being played in real time as well as contribute to a collaborative playlist for the group. The company points out that it is ideal for those quarantining together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spotify anticipates the feature will now encourage more free users to convert to subscribers. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out Premium Feature for Party Mode Streaming

Music Streaming Challenges Dominance of In-Vehicle Radio

According to Nielsen, radio reaches 92 percent of Americans over 18 years of age every week. Whereas Netflix and other streaming services have loosened over-the-air TV’s grip on the viewing audience, AM/FM stations still dominate in vehicles. But that might change since the coronavirus has kept millions of Americans from commuting — and listening to radio — while stuck at home. U.S. drivers, who listen to 100 minutes of radio every day on average, are worth $67 in radio industry revenue annually, according to Deloitte. Continue reading Music Streaming Challenges Dominance of In-Vehicle Radio

Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Spotify Technology has just unveiled an app specifically designed for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Spotify Kids, which is available for free to Spotify Premium Family members, is being tested in the U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. The most notable change is visual: Spotify Kids offers kids the animated creature of their choice to act as an avatar in an environment full of colors and doodles. There are two Spotify Kids versions, one for younger children and another for older ones. Continue reading Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

AT&T TV Launches Today With Hundreds of Live TV Channels

Following several months of testing in 13 U.S. trial markets, AT&T TV launches nationwide today. The broadband service features a 4K- and HDR-capable Android-based set-top box, 500 hours of DVR storage, access to hundreds of live television channels and 40,000 on-demand titles. Streaming services such as Disney+, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube are available, as well as 5,000+ apps through the Google Play store. Additionally, the voice-enabled remote control is integrated with Google Assistant. Chromecast support is also built in. AT&T TV will be integrated with HBO Max when it launches in May. Continue reading AT&T TV Launches Today With Hundreds of Live TV Channels

Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Spotify, reporting its Q4 results, revealed that it now has 271 million subscribers, up 31 percent from a year ago, with paying subscribers up 29 percent to 125 million. The company’s overall revenue reached $2 billion, up 24 percent from the previous year, with a gross margin of 25.6 percent. Spotify is still posting operating losses, with Q4’s pegged at $85 million, with its loss per share now at $1.26. Spotify also acquired Bill Simmons’ sports and pop culture website and podcasting network The Ringer. Continue reading Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Indian Music Streamer Reaches 152 Million Monthly Users

Gaana is a growing streaming music service based in Noida, India that offers 45 million songs in 20 regional languages to its 152 million monthly users. Backed by India’s Bennett Coleman & Co. and China’s Tencent Holdings, Gaana offers hyperlocal content and voice-based search, ideal for those with limited literacy skills. Only about half of India’s 1.3 billion people are online, giving Gaana plenty of room to grow. Even so, numerous music streamers from outside India — including Spotify, YouTube Music and ByteDance’s Resso — are pursuing music market share there. Continue reading Indian Music Streamer Reaches 152 Million Monthly Users

Spotify Plans to Run Targeted Ads in its Exclusive Podcasts

During CES 2020, Spotify revealed plans to leverage its massive amount of user data in order to introduce targeted advertising in its exclusive podcast content. With its proprietary Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) tech, Spotify will analyze data based on user location, type of device, gender, age and more to insert advertisements in real time (Spotify already automates dynamic ad insertion for its music streaming). The company could eventually become a major podcast ad network if it ends up placing ads in other networks’ content as well. Continue reading Spotify Plans to Run Targeted Ads in its Exclusive Podcasts

Verizon Offers Free Disney+ for Unlimited Data Customers

Verizon Communications, the largest U.S. wireless provider, will provide a year of free access to Disney+ for its customers who have unlimited data plans. About half of Verizon’s 100+ million customers currently pay for an unlimited data plan. Disney’s new film and television streaming service will debut November 12 and cost $6.99 per month. Verizon will also offer a year of free Disney+ to its FiOS Internet and 5G home broadband subscribers. Disney+ is one of several new streaming services targeting Netflix’s dominance. Continue reading Verizon Offers Free Disney+ for Unlimited Data Customers

Marvel to Create Exclusive Podcasts for SiriusXM, Pandora

The Walt Disney Company’s Marvel Entertainment inked a deal with SiriusXM to create exclusive podcasts for the latter’s satellite radio and streaming services, including Pandora. This is SiriusXM’s first major effort in podcasting and is also an attempt to attract more listeners. The deal comes at a time that many media companies are taking their first steps into podcasting. Disney has also focused on expanding Marvel out of big movie theaters and into broadcast television and its Disney+ streaming service. Continue reading Marvel to Create Exclusive Podcasts for SiriusXM, Pandora

On-Demand Television Is Giving the Music Industry a Boost

“Stranger Things,” “Breaking Bad” and “Transparent” are just a few examples of popular television shows that have been a boon to the music industry in recent years. During an era when physical music sales are at a low, artists and labels are eager to license their music to play during TV episodes for royalties and publicity. According to numbers provided by UK music collecting society PRS for Music — home of the Performing Right Society (PRS) and the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS), the use of music across on-demand platforms has increased 238 percent over the past five years.

Continue reading On-Demand Television Is Giving the Music Industry a Boost

Apple in Talks With Record Labels on Bundling Music, Video

Apple reportedly wants to bundle Apple Music and Apple TV+ for one flat fee, and is in early discussions with record labels to do so. Some labels are “open to the idea,” but others are leery it will lead to loss of revenue. According to sources, Apple hasn’t yet worked out a price formula. Currently, Apple Music costs $9.99 per month for those in the U.S., with a $4.99 level for students. Apple TV+ will cost $4.99 per month, and is free for a year to anyone who buys an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch or Mac. Continue reading Apple in Talks With Record Labels on Bundling Music, Video

Amazon Forms Coalition for Voice Assistant Interoperability

Amazon created the Voice Interoperability Initiative to achieve software compatibility among digital voice assistants, encouraging its widespread adoption. Although 36 companies have joined the initiative, Apple and Google have not. Their absence is a significant impediment to the initiative’s goals, since Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant software are installed by default in most of today’s smartphones. Amazon’s Alexa, meanwhile, has no presence on smartphones, although its Echo speakers are a hit with consumers. Continue reading Amazon Forms Coalition for Voice Assistant Interoperability

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