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

Amazon Music to Introduce HD Service for CD-Quality Sound

Amazon is debuting an HD version of its music service, which means its digital sound quality will henceforth be on a par with that found on CDs. Music executives, some who have pushed for different tiers of subscription beyond Apple Music and Spotify’s typical $9.99-per-month, said Amazon’s move is “a sign of the music-streaming market’s maturation.” Although Tidal offers an HD sound service, Amazon Music, at the No. 3 spot by subscription numbers, will be the first major service to offer comparable quality audio. Continue reading Amazon Music to Introduce HD Service for CD-Quality Sound

Podcasters Expand Audiences, Revenue With YouTube Clips

YouTube is quickly becoming a go-to site for podcasters to post video versions of programs also on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other typical audio platforms. Although YouTube is not designed for podcasts, creators are figuring out ways to leverage the platform for revenue — and people are beginning to seek out podcasts on the site. In Canada, a recent survey revealed that 43 percent of people went to YouTube for podcasts in the last year, compared to 34 percent who went to Apple Podcasts and 23 percent who went to Spotify. Continue reading Podcasters Expand Audiences, Revenue With YouTube Clips

Taylor Swift Returns to Streaming With Her Seventh Album

Taylor Swift, the last streaming holdout among major musical artists, embraced the technology by releasing her seventh studio album, “Lover,” on Spotify and other streaming services. She had pulled her music from Spotify in 2014, and, in 2017, withheld her sixth album, “Redemption,” from streaming services for three weeks. According to Nielsen, in that year, streaming accounted for about 60 percent of all U.S. music consumption; this year it’s up to 80 percent. Spotify is making the most of Swift’s move with a very visible marketing campaign. Meanwhile, Swift has also helped launch an industry-wide conversation about copyright. Continue reading Taylor Swift Returns to Streaming With Her Seventh Album

Spotify Rolls Out Data Analytics Dashboard For Podcasters

In October, 100,000 podcasts signed up for the beta of Spotify for Podcasters, which provides data on listeners’ age, gender, location, music taste and how long they listened to an episode. When they sign up for an account, Spotify users provide basic demographic information. Now, Spotify is offering the data analytics tool to the 450,000+ shows accessible on its platform. Spotify for Podcasters, now available worldwide but currently only in English, offers much more detailed information than Apple’s podcast data. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out Data Analytics Dashboard For Podcasters

Cable Provider Altice Plans Fall Launch For Smart Speaker

New York-based cable provider Altice USA, parent company to Optimum and Suddenlink, plans to launch a high-fidelity smart speaker this fall that features audio tech from French company Devialet. The $400 Altice Amplify will come with Alexa built-in for hands-free control of TV functions. The speaker, to be available through Altice’s cable stores and Amazon.com, will feature access to streaming apps on the Altice One cable system such as Netflix, Pandora and YouTube. Altice Amplify will work with additional TV systems and streaming devices and support apps including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Audible, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Tidal and TuneIn. Continue reading Cable Provider Altice Plans Fall Launch For Smart Speaker

Media Companies Look to Expand Podcasting Outside U.S.

Acquired by iHeartMedia, the podcast “Stuff You Should Know” is now on track for global expansion. The podcast, which has been downloaded more than a billion times in the last 11 years, tackles topics as diverse as artificial sweeteners, time zones and deepfakes. As part of the expansion, iHeartMedia will make “Stuff You Should Know” and five other podcasts available next year in French, German, Hindi, Portuguese and Spanish. Last year, the radio broadcaster bought StuffMedia, the studio that produces the podcast, for $55 million. A number of other media companies are also taking a global approach to podcasting. Continue reading Media Companies Look to Expand Podcasting Outside U.S.

Spotify Reaches 108M Subs, But Revenue Per User Drops

Top streaming music service Spotify announced that it added 8 million subscribers during the most recent quarter ending in June, bringing its total to 108 million paying subscribers and 232 million monthly active users (paying and non-paying). The subscriber tally includes those who signed up for Spotify’s 30-day free trial. The company also recently launched its biannual campaign that offers the premium service for only $1. As a result, its average revenue per user dropped to $5.42, which is a 1 percent reduction compared to the previous quarter. Continue reading Spotify Reaches 108M Subs, But Revenue Per User Drops

Apple Revenue Rises via iPad/Mac Sales, Services Growth

Apple’s revenue rose 1 percent to $53.81 billion despite a 12 percent decline in iPhone sales, for the quarter ending June 29. Profit also slumped for the third straight quarter — 13 percent to $10.04 billion. At the same time, per-share earnings of $2.18 surpassed analyst predictions. Apple was able to achieve positive revenue despite lagging iPhone sales by growth in iPad and Mac sales as well as App Store sales, mobile payments and device insurance, which rose 13 percent to $11.46 billion. Continue reading Apple Revenue Rises via iPad/Mac Sales, Services Growth

Pandora Rolls Out Voice Mode Assistant For All Platforms

SiriusXM’s Pandora unveiled Voice Mode, its voice assistant, to Pandora app users on all platforms. This broad rollout took place after a January debut of Voice Mode on about one million iOS and Android devices. The shortcut to Voice Mode can be found in the upper right of the Pandora app screen. Pandora chief product officer Chris Phillips noted that Voice Mode introduces “an even more natural and conversational way for listeners to discover new music … like getting recommendations from a friend who really knows you.” Continue reading Pandora Rolls Out Voice Mode Assistant For All Platforms

Studios Cater Blockbuster Advertising to Next-Gen Viewers

Hollywood studios have typically teed up blockbusters well in advance of their release dates. For example, Walt Disney Studios promoted “Tron: Legacy” for three years; Warner Bros. spent almost two years pushing “Godzilla” and Universal Pictures publicized “The Secret Life of Pets 2” for three years. Now, these biggest marketers, which spent $4+ billion annually in advertising, have narrowed the gap considerably — to as little as a few months for tentpole movies — to better respond to the expectation of on-demand content. Continue reading Studios Cater Blockbuster Advertising to Next-Gen Viewers

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