Apple Could Push Wearables, EU Okays Shazam Acquisition

Apple, which has evolved from a PC company to an iPhone company, is searching for its “next big thing.” One WSJ journalist believes a clue to what it might be came from chief executive Tim Cook’s revelation that the Apple Watch and AirPods generated $10 billion in revenue over the last four quarters. The company’s wearables sales are growing, even as smartphone and PC sales level off, and IDC said Apple is the wearables market leader, with 17 percent of the global market. Meanwhile, the European Union has approved Apple’s purchase of Shazam, which should fortify the company’s music ambitions. Continue reading Apple Could Push Wearables, EU Okays Shazam Acquisition

Nielsen Reports Major Jump in On-Demand Audio Streaming

According to Nielsen, on-demand audio streams — including music, podcasts and spoken word recordings — reached a new milestone for the U.S. market when the figure reached 7.5 billion during the week ending March 9. In its latest mid-year report, the measurement firm indicates that 184 billion on-demand audio streams this year mark a significant 62.4 percent increase over the same period last year. In addition, there has been more than 284 billion on-demand audio and video streams combined this year, a 36.4 percent jump over the same period in 2016. Continue reading Nielsen Reports Major Jump in On-Demand Audio Streaming

Westergren to Step Down as CEO of Music Service Pandora

Pandora co-founder and CEO Tim Westergren plans to step down from his position running the 17-year-old streaming music pioneer. The company has yet to select a replacement. Earlier this month, satellite company Sirius XM announced it would invest $480 million in the web radio service for a 19 percent stake in the company and three board seats. Despite a user base of 80 million, “Pandora has struggled to generate enough advertising revenue to cover the cost of the free service,” reports Recode. “Meanwhile, music listeners have begun gravitating to the on-demand subscription services of Spotify, Apple and others, which offer ad-free access.” Continue reading Westergren to Step Down as CEO of Music Service Pandora

Spotify Inks a New Licensing Deal with Universal Music Group

Spotify and Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest record company, finally inked a global, multiyear licensing deal after two years of intermittent negotiations. With this deal in place, Spotify now has a better chance of convincing Sony and Warner to follow suit, and UMG, whose artists include Drake, U2, The Weeknd and Lady Gaga, has more flexibility on how it streams its music. Spotify’s contracts with UMG, Sony and Warner had expired long ago. Spotify, valued at $8 billion, now also has a clearer path to going public. Continue reading Spotify Inks a New Licensing Deal with Universal Music Group

Snapchat’s Strategy Behind Rebuffing Influencers, Celebrities

Many social networks have thrived on creating relationships with celebrities and influencers, but Snapchat prefers to treat them like ordinary users — so much so that its terms of service prohibit users from getting paid to post. The aim is to provide users a more authentic, less product-promoting experience. It’s also Snapchat’s strategy for differentiating its platform, thus better attracting advertisers that prefer the credibility of an “authentic experience” to influencer endorsements of products. Continue reading Snapchat’s Strategy Behind Rebuffing Influencers, Celebrities

Sony, Universal Ink Deals with Pandora for Streaming Services

Sony Music, Universal Music and Merlin Network, which represents 20,000 independents, have agreed to license songs to Pandora for its two new music services. Pandora plans to offer the advertising-free Pandora Plus and an on-demand service similar to Spotify. The company is also still in talks with Warner Music in an attempt to ink a deal with this third-largest music rights holder. Pandora hopes to launch both of its new services by the end of 2016. As of June 30, Pandora says it has 78.1 million active listeners. Continue reading Sony, Universal Ink Deals with Pandora for Streaming Services

Artists, RIAA Target YouTube in Latest Round of Royalty War

In the latest battle between musicians and streaming outlets, the music industry has united to fight YouTube for higher royalties. Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Billy Joel signed letters requesting changes to copyright laws; high-profile manager Irving Azoff criticized YouTube in an interview and a Grammy Awards speech. Recently released annual sales statistics buttress the musicians’ point of view: statistics show that, despite huge audiences, YouTube pays less direct income to musicians than vinyl record sales. Continue reading Artists, RIAA Target YouTube in Latest Round of Royalty War

Apple May or May Not Put an End to iTunes Music Downloads

Depending on who you believe, Apple is either ready to “completely terminate” iTunes music downloads in as little as two years — or has no plans at all to shut down this still-valuable source of revenue. Even as streaming gains dominance, music downloading still plays a lucrative role, say some. Sources deep inside Apple revealed discussions about the potential timetable for ending music download offerings, with a possibility of staggered shutdowns beginning in the U.S., U.K. and some European and Asian countries. Continue reading Apple May or May Not Put an End to iTunes Music Downloads

Music Labels Cry Foul at YouTube and DMCA’s ‘Safe Harbor’

An International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) report points out that 20 million Americans, and 20 percent of the world’s population, still pirate music. Now, the IFPI will soon join the record labels’ trade group the RIAA in complaining that YouTube doesn’t pay a fair price for the music it gives away for free. At the same time, Universal Music Group, Sony and Warner Music Group are about to renegotiate their contracts with YouTube, and they say the Digital Millennium Copyright Act hurts their bargaining power. Continue reading Music Labels Cry Foul at YouTube and DMCA’s ‘Safe Harbor’

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

Warner, Sony Commit to Divvy Spotify Sales Gains with Artists

Warner Music Group, which has ownership stakes in streaming services, will now share revenue with artists if and when those services go public or are sold. Following Warner’s lead, Sony Music confirmed it would do the same. Analysts believe the move is an attempt to woo artists who receive miniscule returns from streaming. Two other trends leave musicians out in the cold: royalties are often not pegged to a specific song and record labels have traded more generous royalty rates for part ownership of streaming services. Continue reading Warner, Sony Commit to Divvy Spotify Sales Gains with Artists

Amazon Doubles Market Value, Plans to Launch Music Service

Amazon’s growth is impressive — but it still, apparently, does not meet investors’ high expectations. With profits in Prime and Amazon Web Services, the company just delivered the largest quarterly profit in its 20-year history, but its shares plummeted 15 percent in after-hours trading, erasing more than $30 billion in market value. Shareholders were perhaps spooked by a 20.5 percent jump in operating costs, to $34.6 billion. Yet Amazon still out-performed other tech titans, including Alphabet, Apple and Facebook. Continue reading Amazon Doubles Market Value, Plans to Launch Music Service

SoundCloud Strikes New Licensing Deal with Universal Music

Streaming music site SoundCloud will now have access to the Universal Music catalog, including songs from artists like The Weeknd, Sam Smith and U2. The licensing agreement allows Universal Music artists to make money from the advertising on SoundCloud when their songs are played. SoundCloud already has licensing agreements with other music companies, including Merlin and Warner Music Group. The company said it would also introduce a paid streaming subscription service this year. Continue reading SoundCloud Strikes New Licensing Deal with Universal Music

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

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