ByteDance Targets Emerging Markets With Music Service

Beijing-based ByteDance plans to debut a paid music service for its video app TikTok in fall 2019, aimed at poorer countries where the industry’s dominant services, Apple Music and Spotify, have not yet taken root. Executives at India’s two largest labels, T-Series and Times Music, reported that ByteDance has already acquired rights. TikTok and its Chinese equivalent Douyin, have been downloaded more than 500 million times; TikTok popularized the world’s No. 1 song for the past month, “Old Town Road.” Continue reading ByteDance Targets Emerging Markets With Music Service

Music Labels File Lawsuit Claiming Charter Enables Piracy

Sony, Universal, Warner music labels, and their subsidiaries, have filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in Colorado, claiming that Charter Communications is enabling music piracy. The claim states that Charter hasn’t ended the accounts of subscribers who pirate copyrighted songs, and that it aids users illegally download music by selling access to high Internet speeds. The latter isn’t a violation of the law, but Internet providers can be held responsible for serial infringers if they do not cut their accounts. Continue reading Music Labels File Lawsuit Claiming Charter Enables Piracy

Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

Walmart is partnering with MGM, which will create short-form original series for release in 2019, to help boost content on its ad-supported streaming service Vudu. The company also invested a reported $250 million in a joint venture with New York startup Eko, which produces so-called interactive stories in which viewers control the plots of commercials and TV episodes. This investment is believed to be the largest ever made in this particular storytelling niche that has interested creatives for years but never caught on. Continue reading Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

Spotify Licensing Deals Could Have Impact on Music Industry

Stockholm-based Spotify is making a move that could challenge traditional royalty models and the major record labels that have long led the music industry. Spotify has struck licensing deals directly with a handful of independent artists over the last year, giving the artists a larger monetary cut and ownership of their recordings. The financial details include advance payments of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to sources, considered “modest” in the music industry. Spotify has released few details about the deals. Continue reading Spotify Licensing Deals Could Have Impact on Music Industry

Sony Music Reaches New Licensing Agreement with Spotify

Sony Music Entertainment has agreed to a new licensing deal with Spotify, which should be finalized in the coming weeks. “The agreement helps to clear the way for Spotify’s long-anticipated public offering, which is expected later this year or early next year,” reports Variety. An inside source suggests the deal is similar to the current Spotify agreements with Universal Music Group and digital rights agency Merlin. A major component of the deal is a windowing option, “whereby artists can withhold their releases from its free, ad-supported service for up to two weeks.” Continue reading Sony Music Reaches New Licensing Agreement with Spotify

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

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

Music Industry, YouTube in Stalemate Over Copyright Tracking

The music industry and YouTube disagree over the efficacy of YouTube’s Content ID system, which tracks content for which royalties are due. According to YouTube, Content ID is 99.7 percent accurate and responsible for $3 billion in payments to the music industry. However, music rights holders put Content ID’s accuracy at about 50 percent, adding that they must engage in time-consuming daily manual searches to find offenders. Also at issue are rates, with YouTube’s payments considerably less than those from other streaming services. Continue reading Music Industry, YouTube in Stalemate Over Copyright Tracking

Startups Offer New Possibilities with Interactive Video Tech

Brands are getting closer to the long-awaited “shoppable video” model that provides consumers with the ability to purchase items directly through their favorite TV show or online music video. Companies are developing interactive video technology that provides direct links to items within video content via a click or touch of the screen. Israeli startup Interlude, founded by musician Yoni Bloch, has raised $18.2 million so far. Cinematique, founded by CEO Randy Ross, has raised $5.4 million and has developed touchable video tech for numerous brand partners. Continue reading Startups Offer New Possibilities with Interactive Video Tech

Flipagram Inks Music Deals, Raises $70M in Round B Funding

Flipagram is a mobile storytelling app that allows users to create short slideshows (or “Flipagrams”) by stitching together video content, photos and music. The company has made a significant step towards becoming one of the first such apps to incorporate modern music in a major way by signing licensing deals with top record labels and landing an additional $70 million in funding. According to CEO Farhad Mohit, Flipagram has attracted 33 million active monthly users in its first year. Continue reading Flipagram Inks Music Deals, Raises $70M in Round B Funding

Snapchat Adds New Tool to Share News from ‘Discover’ Portal

Snapchat is finally letting users share stories with their friends directly from the app’s news portal. Users simply have to hold down a news story, add a comment or some emoji, and then send it to friends just like a regular Snap. The Discover portal has seen viewership drop since it debuted earlier this year, and Snapchat is betting on sharing to attract more loyal viewers. Many other media companies such as BuzzFeed rely heavily on social sharing to drive Web traffic. Continue reading Snapchat Adds New Tool to Share News from ‘Discover’ Portal

Amazon Launches Streaming Music Update with Prime Stations

Amazon has introduced “Prime Stations” for users of its Prime Music iOS app. The mobile update is intended to help the music service better compete with the likes of Pandora and iTunes Radio. Prime Stations are ad-free stations that offer unlimited song skips. The updated app features personalized recommendations that are based on a user’s play history and will therefore become more accurate over time. Prime Stations can also learn from user feedback (thumbs up or thumbs down) to create better playlists. Continue reading Amazon Launches Streaming Music Update with Prime Stations

Snapchat Discover Aims to Become Internet Portal for Mobile

Mobile messaging service Snapchat unveiled Snapchat Discover yesterday, a new portal feature that includes articles, music and other media content from 11 new partners such as CNN, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, ESPN, National Geographic, Vice and Warner Music. Full-screen video ads from leading brands will run with the content; a portion of the ad revenue will be shared with publishers. In contrast to the user-shared media currently prevalent on Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat will reportedly maintain tighter control over its content. Continue reading Snapchat Discover Aims to Become Internet Portal for Mobile

Clear Channel-Warner Deal Underlines Digital Licensing Issues

Clear Channel Communications announced a deal late last week with the Warner Music Group through which Warner’s acts will collect royalties when their songs are played on Clear Channel’s 850 stations. This will mark the first time that the music label and its acts — which include Bruno Mars, CeeLo Green, Coldplay and Green Day — will collect payments from Clear Channel. In exchange for the deal and promotion for its acts, Clear Channel will receive a favorable rate for online streaming. Continue reading Clear Channel-Warner Deal Underlines Digital Licensing Issues