Amazon Offers Expanded Music and Podcast Catalog Ad-Free

Amazon Music has taken a major leap forward, expanding its catalog from about 2 million to 100 million songs that will be made available ad-free to Prime members as part of their existing $139 annual membership fee. Starting this week, Prime members can “shuffle play any artist, album, or playlist, plus stream a selection of All-Access playlists on demand” as well as “access the largest catalog of ad-free top podcasts,” the online retail giant said. The move underscores a new battleground for membership-focused retailers, including Costco and Walmart, who see streaming as an opportunity to add value. Continue reading Amazon Offers Expanded Music and Podcast Catalog Ad-Free

Meta, Spotify Blast Apple Over App Store Fee Enforcements

Apple announced various App Store developer updates last week, and one change getting lots of attention is that which specifies “sales of ‘boosts’ for posts in a social media app must use in-app purchase.” That means Apple will be taking its customary 30 percent fee for paid boosts on iOS devices, a move that will primarily affect Meta Platforms’ Facebook and Instagram, since they hadn’t previously been processing such transactions through Apple’s in-app purchase system, like Twitter and Tiktok have. Apple says its “guidelines have been clear” that in-app sales are required to use its In-App Purchase. Continue reading Meta, Spotify Blast Apple Over App Store Fee Enforcements

Apple Increases Prices of Its Streaming Services for First Time

For the first time, Apple is raising U.S. prices for Apple Music and Apple TV+ subscription services. Starting this week, both new and existing customers will pay rates starting at $6.99 per month for Apple TV+ and $10.99 per month for Apple Music, a 40 percent and 10 percent increase, respectively. The family music plan, for up to six accounts, increases to $16.99 per month (from $14.99). Cost of the Apple One bundle — which includes TV, Music, Apple Arcade and iCloud+ storage — also rises as competing streamers raise prices while vying more aggressively for market share. Continue reading Apple Increases Prices of Its Streaming Services for First Time

Spotify Rolls Out U.S. Audiobook Service with 300,000 Titles

Spotify is expanding beyond music and podcasts by adding audiobooks. The company is starting out with just over 300,000 titles, available for purchase in the U.S. “This is just the beginning,” says Spotify, promising a geographic expansion. In June, the audio streamer completed its purchase of global audiobooks distributor Findaway, announced last year. The acquisition was designed to make it a major player on entry, competing with Amazon’s Audible, the nation’s biggest audiobook service. Unlike Audible, Spotify is individually pricing audiobook titles and offering them à la carte, not by subscription. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out U.S. Audiobook Service with 300,000 Titles

Annual YouTube Music Payments Up 50 Percent to $6 Billion

YouTube global head of music Lyor Cohen announced that the platform paid $6 billion to the music industry between July 2021 and June 2022, a 50 percent increase over the $4 billion distributed in the same period in the prior frame. The amount includes monetization across all formats — short and long form video, audio only, live, user-generated content and more — on all platforms (desktop, tablet, mobile, and TV), in over 100 countries. For the second consecutive measurement period, UGC drove more than 30 percent of the payouts for artists, songwriters and rights-holders, according to the company. Continue reading Annual YouTube Music Payments Up 50 Percent to $6 Billion

Zuckerberg Says New Meta VR Headset Launching in October

Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed that Meta Platforms will in October debut the mixed reality headset the company has been developing under the codename Project Cambria. Appearing on Spotify’s “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast last week, Zuckerberg said the new headset will have outward facing cameras capable of porting the outside world into the VR experience. With improved facial tracking to transpose smiles and frowns and the ability to convey “actual eye contact” between avatars, Zuckerberg said the new device will enhance the experience of “social presence.” Continue reading Zuckerberg Says New Meta VR Headset Launching in October

Twitter Prioritizes Discovery in Its Podcast Tests with Spaces

Twitter is testing a heightened presence in podcasting, offering a redesigned Spaces tab that includes a podcast option in an announcement that hints at a collaboration with Vox Media. Couched as an investment in audio creators, Twitter says the redesign includes personalized hubs (which it’s calling “Stations”) that group audio content together by specific themes such as News, Music and Sports. Integrating podcasts into Spaces, Twitter’s designated area for audio, is “a simple and intuitive way that allows listeners to simply hit play and go” and compile personal collections of live and recorded Spaces audio discussions. Continue reading Twitter Prioritizes Discovery in Its Podcast Tests with Spaces

YouTube Adds Dedicated Podcast Homepage, New Content

YouTube has added a dedicated podcasts homepage for U.S. users. The page — featuring both audio-only and video-recorded studio shows — went live for some users last month. It appears to be part of a grander scheme by the Google subsidiary to take on pod plays by Apple and Spotify, which it is already outperforming. Both added video podcasts in recent years. Studies say most U.S. podcast listeners get content from YouTube. Last week, NPR announced it is bringing its podcast catalog to YouTube, which is monetizing the podcasting shows with ads inserted by Google and others.  Continue reading YouTube Adds Dedicated Podcast Homepage, New Content

Technology Firms Offer Users More Control Over Advertising

Tech companies are giving consumers more control over the type of advertising they see online, a feature that customers frequently request. Meta Platforms, Mozilla, Google and the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) have been actively exploring ad-blocking options. Now ByteDance’s TikTok and others are joining in. While the increased control may make some consumers happy, the effect it will have on Big Tech’s already ailing ad sector is as yet undetermined. While the various techniques let consumers limit exposure to ads, proponents argue the ultimate effect will be positive, ensuring ads are served to an interested audience. Continue reading Technology Firms Offer Users More Control Over Advertising

Apple Pursues Podcasts as Subjects for Streaming TV Series

Apple is making a big push for original podcasts that have the potential to be turned into shows for Apple TV+. The company has signed a deal with Futuro, producer of the criminal-justice podcast “Suave,” and has already spent about $10 million on the push, led by Apple TV Studios. Apple recently announced original podcasts with companies including Pineapple Street Studios, Campside Media, Jigsaw Productions and At Will Media. Apple TV+ has already adapted existing podcasts including Wondery’s “The Shrink Next Door” (starring Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell) and “WeCrashed” (with Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway). Continue reading Apple Pursues Podcasts as Subjects for Streaming TV Series

House Rep Plans to Update Streaming Revenue for Musicians

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) is working on new legislation to help musicians boost their share of the revenue pouring into streaming services, which currently sits at fractions of a cent per stream. Tlaib is working with the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) on a new royalty program that would increase the royalty rate per-stream model. Tlaib and her team are actively collaborating to draft the resolution. The Recording Industry Association of America says that streaming accounts for 83 percent of all recorded music income.  Continue reading House Rep Plans to Update Streaming Revenue for Musicians

Warner Music Adopts SoundCloud’s Fan-Powered Royalties

Warner Music Group has become the first major music label to adopt SoundCloud’s fan-powered royalties payout model. Launched last year, the model is designed around what the music streaming service calls “the fan economy,” enabling artists to engage directly with fans for more control and increased monetization opportunities. The audio distribution platform allows every artist to be paid “based on fan listening behavior on SoundCloud,” with subscription and advertising revenue “distributed among the artists [the fans] listen to, rather than being pooled under the traditional pro-rata model the music industry has been using for over a decade,” explains SoundCloud. Continue reading Warner Music Adopts SoundCloud’s Fan-Powered Royalties

U.S. Firms Chase China’s WeChat in Bid to Build Super Apps

U.S. tech execs are experiencing app envy, with companies from Uber to PayPal and billionaires Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey setting their sights on building one-size-fits-all “super apps” to rival Tencent’s WeChat in China and SoftBank’s LINE in Japan. Where typical apps are built to do one thing really well, so-called super apps are generalists, which in theory means people will use them more often. Spotify and Snap have also expressed interest in super solutions, which have been popular in Asia since 2020 and are sparking new interest in the West. Continue reading U.S. Firms Chase China’s WeChat in Bid to Build Super Apps

Lewis Black Hits Pandora with $10 Million Copyright Lawsuit

Comedian Lewis Black has slapped subscription-based streaming service Pandora with a $10.2 million copyright infringement lawsuit. Black becomes the latest humorist to take legal action against an audio streamer for unauthorized use of their work. Earlier this year, comedians Nick Di Paolo and Andrew Dice Clay — and the estates of Robin Williams and George Carlin — sued Pandora, which is owned by SiriusXM. Black is represented by the rights organization Spoken Giants, which is not a party to the suit, while the others are on the Word Collections roster. Continue reading Lewis Black Hits Pandora with $10 Million Copyright Lawsuit

Canada Revives Bill to Up Local Content on Digital Platforms

Canada is taking steps to ensure that digital platforms such as YouTube, Netflix and Spotify adequately represent Canadian artists for users who log in from a Canadian IP address. In an effort to protect Canada’s cultural identity, the nation’s television and radio broadcasters are required to fill a local content quota as a licensing condition, and the new bill — which passed the lower house of Parliament last week — would create a similar mandate for digital platforms, said Canada’s minister of heritage Pablo Rodriguez. The bill, C-11, awaits approval by the Senate to become law. Continue reading Canada Revives Bill to Up Local Content on Digital Platforms