Major labels target Apple in Russia over iOS piracy apps

It’s been a while since we’ve seen public tensions in the west between music rightsholders and Apple over piracy apps – Apple’s involvement being as the owner of the store through which those apps are distributed. According to TorrentFreak, it’s all kicking off in Russia over this issue though, following a new law cracking down on piracy […]

Apple has acquired podcast curation startup Scout·fm

Back in June 2018, Music Ally wrote about a startup called Scout·fm, which was launching a ‘voice-first podcast curation service’. It had an Alexa skill that would ask people questions to understand their interests, then provide a radio-style stream of podcast episodes. The next we heard of it was early this year, when Scout·fm joined a […]

Apple One bundles range from $14.95 to $29.95 a month

Apple’s ‘Time Flies’ press launch last night focused on Apple Watch and iPad but not iPhones, as predicted. However, there were also some big services announcements, including the long-anticipated Apple One bundle. Well, bundles: there are three of them, which will launch this autumn. The ‘Individual’ tier includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and […]

Apple and Deezer reveal their latest books and audiobooks expansion

Music and podcasts are increasingly intertwined on various streaming services, but books – and specifically audiobooks – may also be joining the party. We recently reported on Spotify’s ambitions on that front, but Apple already has an ebooks store with audiobooks options. Now it’s announced its latest related partnership, with Oprah Winfrey and her famous ‘Book Club’. Her latest […]

Loup Ventures claims Apple Music will make $8.6bn in 2020

Investment firm Loup Ventures keeps a close eye on Apple’s business, including its music activity. Now it has put out some estimates for Apple Music’s progress. “Apple Music has room to grow with 82m subs out of 980m active iPhone users (8%) paying for the service,” wrote managing partner Gene Munster in a blog post. […]

Fortnite’s new season is live… but not for Apple devices

The new season of Fortnite goes live today: Chapter 2 – Season 4 is a big tie-up with Marvel, with a bunch of its superheroes and supervillains added to the game, complete with their most famous locations – and an in-game comic explaining how they got there. But one section of Fortnite’s player community won’t be […]

‘Apple has become the navy, and different rules apply’

The row between Apple and Epic Games rumbles on, with plenty of commentary from external observers – some of it useful, much of it not. File in the ‘useful’ category this blog post by tech analyst Benedict Evans, which suggests that some of the criticisms of Apple carry weight. “When Apple launched the app store it had […]

Fortnite publisher’s battle with Apple steps up another notch

Things are getting even spicier in the battle between Fortnite’s publisher Epic Games and Apple over the latter’s App Store rules. Apple booted Fortnite out of the store last week after Epic added a new non-Apple payment option, but now Epic is claiming that Apple has threatened to “terminate all our developer accounts and cut Epic off […]

Facebook launches paid livestreams (and takes a pop at Apple)

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, musicians offering livestreams have been exploring the different ways to make money from them. Paid ticketing has tended to be restricted to the smaller livestreaming companies, while on the bigger social/video platforms (Facebook/Instagram, YouTube and Twitch) it’s been more about free streams and revenue from virtual item sales and/or merchandise. So, […]

‘Apple One’ entertainment bundles could debut in October

Apple may be preparing to launch its long-awaited bundles of entertainment services, with music included. Bloomberg reported that the bundles – working title: Apple One – are “planned to launch as early as October alongside the next iPhone line”. It went on to suggest that the basic bundle will include Apple Music and Apple TV+, with more expensive […]

Spotify has company as Fortnite maker sues Apple (and Google)

Spotify seemed well prepared when its EC antitrust complaint against Apple last March came with its own spin-off website detailing its issues. Now Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, has taken that up several levels. Yesterday it sued Apple alleging “use of a series of anti-competitive restraints and monopolistic practices”, and that lawsuit came with its own launch trailer: ‘Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite’, […]

Apple-commissioned study defends App Store commission rates

Apple is facing antitrust scrutiny over the way it runs its App Store, including the 30% cut of in-app purchases (which drops to 15% for subscriptions after a year of someone paying) that it takes. But look! Here’s a study that has found “Apple’s App Store commission rate is similar in magnitude to the commission rates charged […]

Apple Music bags exclusive deal for Instagram Verzuz battles

One of the hits of the Covid-19 lockdown has been the Verzuz battles on Instagram, where high-profile artists go head-to-head for… well, they’re less battles and more mutual love-ins, exchanging their hits in an atmosphere of respect. Anyway, they’ve been hugely popular on Instagram Live: Jill Scott and Erykah Badu attracted more than 740,000 viewers […]

Apple News updates show how Apple and Spotify’s audio strategies differ

Spotify’s ‘audio-first’ strategy – as originally outlined here – is about one audio app to rule them all, currently focused on music and podcasts, with an eye to other kinds of content in the future. All delivered through the same app. Apple’s strategy is markedly different: its audio is split between three different apps. Music in Apple […]

Ashnikko’s new track has a Beats by Dre and TikTok partnership

Artist Ashnikko’s breakthrough last year was fuelled by TikTok, when her track ‘Stupid’ went viral. Now, for her new track ‘Daisy’ she is prioritising the platform – this time with Apple’s music hardware brand Beats by Dre on board as a marketing partner. That means a music video with prominent placement for the new PowerbeatsPro headphones, […]

Report claims Apple could face an antitrust probe in the US

The debate about how Apple runs its App Store continues to rumble, and politics website Politico suggests that there could be a significant development in the US soon. “The Justice Department and a coalition of state attorneys general are taking the first steps toward launching an antitrust probe of Apple,” it claimed, adding that the probe may […]

Pressure mounts on Apple over App Store fees and policies

With the European Commission’s formal investigations of Apple getting underway, Spotify has seen some people and companies rallying to its antitrust cause this week. For example, the chairman of the US House’s antitrust subcommittee has been (perhaps surprisingly, given that role?) outspoken on the topic, in an interview with The Verge. “Because of the market power that Apple […]

Spotify talks Apple complaint as Hey email app sparks row

We reported yesterday on the news that the European Commission is launching two formal investigations of Apple, including one sparked by anticompetition complaints from Spotify and an e-books / audiobooks firm (not Amazon, but Rakuten subsidiary Kobo). Yesterday afternoon, Spotify held a Zoom call with journalists to offer its views on the news. You can read our […]

Notes from Spotify’s Zoom call to discuss Apple antitrust investigation

Earlier today, the European Commission launched two formal antitrust investigations of Apple, including one spurred in part by Spotify’s complaint to the EC last year. This afternoon, Spotify held a Zoom call for journalists where its head of global affairs and chief legal officer Horacio Gutierrez discussed the investigation, with added comments from external counsel […]

EC launches formal antitrust investigations of Apple – one sparked by Spotify complaint

In March 2019, Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission, accusing the latter company of anticompetitive behaviour in the way it managed its App Store and in-app purchases. 15 months on, the EC has now launched a formal antitrust investigation of Apple. In fact, it has launched two, although they’re not just […]

Spotify CEO: ‘Long term, we do expect Apple to open up’

It’s all gone a bit quiet on the antitrust complaint front regarding Spotify versus Apple. Spotify filed a complaint in Europe against Apple more than a year ago, sparking a sharp rebuttal from the tech giant. We’re still waiting to see what action, if any, the European Commission takes over the complaint. However, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek […]

Apple tipped to launch over-ear wireless headphones this year

Apple’s wireless AirPods earphones have been a big hit, but if you don’t like sticking things in your ears, they may not appeal. Never fear: Apple may well be working on some ‘over-ear’ wireless headphones, according to a report from Bloomberg. It claimed that Apple is “working on at least two variations, including a premium version […]

Report suggests Apple might buy live-VR startup NextVR

Music Ally has been writing about virtual-reality startup NextVR since 2015, when it raised a $30.5m funding round from investors including the Madison Square Garden Company for technology that would enable music concerts and sports events to be broadcast live to VR headsets. T he company had already streamed a concert by Coldplay. It then signed a deal with […]

Spotify app now works with Siri voice assistant on Apple Watch

We haven’t heard that much about Spotify’s European anti-competition complaint against Apple for a while, despite rumblings last year about a potential investigation. However, there have been some moves by Apple to open up its ecosystem in ways that address some of the complaints that Spotify had. One concerns access to its Siri voice assistant, […]

Today’s positive coronavirus-related industry news (26 March)

We’re keeping this going, not least because positive news is keeping us going, personally… British collecting society PRS for Music has launched an Emergency Relief Fund for its members, created with the PRS Members’ Fund and PRS Foundation. To qualify, applicants have to have been members of PRS for at least two years and earned over £500 […]

Apple could open HomePod and iOS up to third-party default apps

There are many reasons why Apple is one of the world’s most successful companies, and its ‘walled garden’ of hardware, software and services is one of them. However, it has also proved controversial when companies making services that compete with Apple’s think they’re not getting fair access to its hardware and/or software. Spotify’s anti-competition complaint against […]

Services revenue still growing strongly for Apple

Apple reported its latest quarterly financial results yesterday, for the final quarter of 2019 – the company’s fiscal Q1. They were good: “Apple’s highest quarterly revenue ever,” according to CEO Tim Cook, who highlighted sales of iPhone 11 smartphones as well as new records for Apple’s services category (which includes Apple Music) and Wearables, Home and Accessories category […]

Oprah Winfrey pulls sexual-misconduct documentary from Apple TV+

In December, it was announced that Apple TV+ had bagged the rights to a documentary about sexual misconduct in the music industry, focusing on a then-unnamed executive (since confirmed as Russell Simmons) and presented by Oprah Winfrey. The documentary was being produced by Oscar-nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. Now the deal has hit the rocks […]

Clio Music awards winners offer music-marketing inspiration

2019 has been a good year for creative music-marketing campaigns, as you’ll know if you read our end-of-year Sandbox report earlier this month. If you haven’t, you can find it here: it’s our pick of the best campaigns of the year. Anyone looking for more inspiration for their music marketing in 2020 would do well […]

Tech firms call for US to stay in climate-focused Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement is the 2016 deal on measures to tackle the climate emergency signed by 195 nations and states. However, US president Donald Trump has made it clear that he intends to withdraw from the agreement, and the earliest date at which he could do that would be November 2020. Now a group of […]

Billie Eilish wins big in Apple awards and Spotify 2019 stats

What we need, said almost nobody in the music industry, are a few more awards ceremonies. But now we have two, from the world’s biggest subscription music-streaming services. Spotify’s first awards will take place in Mexico City next March, driven entirely by its data, but Apple Music’s first event took place overnight, chosen purely by the company’s […]

Apple tipped to double its AirPods shipments to 60m this year

Thanks to its music-driven adverts, Apple’s original iPod earphones became one of the most recognisable tech products back in the day. Its modern equivalents, the wireless AirPods, are increasingly common on the streets today. Bloomberg has put some numbers to that, quoting “people familiar with the Cupertino-based company’s production plans” as claiming that Apple is doubling […]

Startup Pex can now scan Apple Podcasts for music clips

Pex isn’t a startup we’ve written much about for Music Ally thus far, but it’s one of the more interesting companies in the current music ecosystem – not just because of what it’s doing now, but for how its technology might be used in the future. The company’s business is “independent video and music analytics and […]

Even after Siri integration, Spotify jabs at Apple again

This week, Spotify launched an Apple TV app as well as integrating with Apple’s Siri voice assistant on iPhone, which you might think represented a rapprochement of sorts between the two companies, following their longstanding anti-competition disputes. You’d be wrong. Spotify has updated its ‘Time to Play Fair’ lobbying website’s timeline of “Apple’s behaviour” down the years, […]

Shazam financials reveal it added 78m users in 2018

Shazam reached 478 million annual active users in 2018, which is 78 million more than in the previous year. The company’s revenues fell by 23% to £31.4m last year, but it swung from a loss of £17.7m in 2017 to a profit of just under £124m in 2018.  That’s the benefit of being bought by […]

Spotify finally gets an Apple TV app and Siri integration

Big news from Spotify’s drive to be on as many devices as possible: it’s now available on… Armani smartwatches! Okay, that’s not *the* big news from Spotify’s drive. Yesterday saw the company finally integrate with Apple’s Siri voice assistant, meaning that Spotify listeners can now use ‘Hey Siri…’ commands to use the app – if their iPhone […]

US congress quizzes Spotify over Apple antitrust complaints

Things had gone a bit quiet in Spotify’s anti-competition battle with Apple: we’re still waiting for official word from the European Commission on any plans for a formal investigation into Apple’s stewardship of its App Store and devices, following Spotify’s complaint in March and Apple’s response in June. Now attention is quickly shifting across the Atlantic, to the […]

Sandbox Issue 237: VIEWTUBE. When Music Video Plays Get Juiced

Lead: Sony Music India artist Badshah claimed to have broken the 24-hour record on YouTube for 75m plays of his track ‘Paagal’ in July. Then people started asking questions. It eventually emerged that the track’s success had been boosted by TrueView ads before and during other YouTube videos, all of which counted toward the opening […]

Kanye West ‘Yandhi’ ringtones quickly removed from iTunes

This time last year, Kanye West was working on a new album project called ‘Yandhi’, although it has since been renamed ‘Jesus is King’. This summer, some of the demos from the project leaked. Now, someone appears to have been putting those leaks to nefarious use, although not through the recently-seen tactic of uploading them to […]

Maroon 5 team up with Apple for iOS photos-app promotion

Apple’s new iOS software (iOS 13) launched earlier this month, and one of its features suddenly has an interesting music angle. The feature is called ‘Memories’ – it actually launched three years ago, but was updated within iOS 13 – and automatically edits together photos and videos for particular events in someone’s camera roll. Now […]

Apple HomePod set to get ‘Ambient Sounds’ mode this autumn

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker didn’t get much of a look-in at the company’s press event earlier this week, which focused more on iPhones, iPads, watches and the company’s new video-streaming and games subscription services. But Apple has quietly updated its HomePod product page to remind owners of a pair of new features coming to the device this […]

Apple Music launches its official web-app in beta

It’s taken a while, but Apple Music is finally available as a web app, rather than just through iTunes and its native apps for other devices. The new web client went live in beta yesterday, and lets subscribers search for and play music (including from their cloud libraries), and browse Apple Music’s collection of playlists and […]

Apple Music’s Shazam Discovery Top 50 chart focuses on emerging artists

Apple Music is getting a new weekly chart, driven by data from Shazam, the music-identification app that Apple acquired in September 2018. The chart is called Shazam Discovery Top 50, and is a global chart ranking 50 “up-and-coming songs from breaking artists”, based on what Shazam’s users have been tagging that week. The chart will […]

Apple reportedly spending $6bn on content for Apple TV+

The Financial Times and Bloomberg have come out with a pair of well-briefed scoops on Apple’s plans for its video-streaming service Apple TV+. The FT reported that Apple has committed $6bn to make original TV shows and films for the service, which will launch later this year – still a long way behind Netflix’s estimated $15bn content […]

Spotify reportedly in talks with Apple over Siri support

The Siri voice assistant is one of the points of contention in Spotify’s anticompetition complaint against Apple: “‘Siri, can you play that awesome Spotify playlist?’ Siri says no,” as Spotify’s ‘Time to Play Fair’ website put it. Yet Apple’s soon-to-launch iOS 13 software *will* allow non-Apple music-streaming services to properly work with Siri, and thus […]

Apple denies App Store search results favour its own apps

Apple is under scrutiny once more for the way it runs its App Store – and the sensitive question of whether its own apps and services are prioritised above those of other companies. This time it’s the Wall Street Journal with an investigation into the results of searches on the App Store. “Searches for ‘music,’ ‘audiobooks’ and […]

Independent artist Aaron Smith gets push from Spotify and Apple

Congratulations are due to independent artist Aaron Smith, whose debut track ‘Unspoken’ has (as MBW noticed on Friday) gone in with a bang at the top of Spotify and Apple Music’s flagship new-music playlists in the UK. ‘Unspoken’ was the very first track in New Music Friday UK on Spotify and Best Of The Week on […]

Report claims Apple will soon be funding original podcasts too

Hands up if you saw this coming: Apple is preparing to get into the original-podcasts game, challenging Spotify with “plans to fund original podcasts that would be exclusive to its audio service”. That’s according to Bloomberg, which reports that Apple has “reached out to media companies and their representatives to discuss buying exclusive rights to podcasts”. […]

Japanese music industry asks Apple to crack down on pirate app

Apple under fire for the way it runs its App Store? But this time, it’s nothing to do with Spotify. A group of Japanese music-industry bodies representing labels, publishers and producers have written to Apple expressing concerns about ‘unauthorised’ (i.e. unlicensed) music-streaming apps that are available through its App Store in Japan. “The recent torrent […]

Apple to hold ‘Up Next’ performances at stores in US and Europe

We’ve been reporting regularly on emerging artists given Apple Music’s ‘Up Next’ seal of approval. Now the company is expanding the program with plans for a series of live performances in Apple Stores in the US and Europe. Up Next Live will see Bad Bunny, Daniel Caesar, Khalid, Ashley McBryde, King Princess, Lewis Capaldi and Jessie […]

Apple’s design guru Jony Ive is leaving the company

“It is the end of an era at Apple,” is how the Financial Times introduced its scoop on the company’s design guru Jony Ive (Sir Jonathan Ive, if we’re being formal) leaving the company. “While I will not be an employee, I will still be very involved — I hope for many, many years to come. This […]

Apple says only 680k Spotify subscribers use in-app purchases

Apple has officially responded to the European Commission, as the latter weighs up whether to launch an investigation based on Spotify’s anti-competition complaint earlier this year. It’s interesting to see the different takes on Apple’s response from different publications. “Spotify boss Daniel Ek might have some explaining to do,” is how MBW introduced its article on the […]

Report: Apple is opening up Siri to other music services

One of the music-related antitrust complaints about Apple concerns how open (or not) its Siri voice-assistant is to streaming services that aren’t Apple Music. “Apple won’t allow us to be on HomePod and they definitely won’t let us connect with Siri to play your jams,” claimed the website Spotify set up to support its European complaint against […]

Report predicts Apple will soon retire its iTunes software

Apple is killing iTunes! So said dozens of headlines this weekend, which all lead back to a single sentence in a Bloomberg article claiming that “The company is launching a trio of new apps for the Mac – Music, TV, and Podcasts – to replace iTunes”. It follows up with “Without iTunes, customers can manage their Apple […]

EU to formally investigate Apple following Spotify’s anti-trust complaint

It is a dispute that has been brewing for a long time and which went public in recent months. Now, according to the FT, the European Union is preparing to formally investigate Spotify-led anti-trust complaints about Apple and its App Store. In brief, Spotify is arguing that Apple is “tilting the playing field to disadvantage competitors” […]

Apple names Pink Sweat$ as its latest ‘Up Next’ artist

Philadelphia-based R&B star Pink Sweat$ is the latest artist to get the Apple ‘Up Next’ treatment, following in the footsteps of the likes of Billie Eilish, Juice WRLD, Bad Bunny and H.E.R. The campaign will include a short film (shot on an iPhone XS for some double-branding sparkle) talking about his background and creative process […]

Apple CEO renews his call for more regulation of big tech

Apple CEO Tim Cook has returned to the theme of stronger regulation of big technology companies, although it’s clear he’s thinking mainly of *other* big technology companies like Google and Facebook. “I think there are some serious issues with tech. I think that even though I’m deeply a free market person in mindset and believe […]

Apple Arcade games service tipped to have $500m+ budget

Apple recently announced plans for a subscription-based games service, Apple Arcade, which will offer games across iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple TVs for a single monthly fee – with no advertising or in-app purchases. Due to launch later in the year, the service appears to be getting a significant investment. “Several people involved in the […]

Apple under fire in US for Tiananmen Square song removal in China

When we wrote about songs by certain Hong Kong artists being removed from Chinese music-streaming services last week, we noted that it appeared to be local services as well as Apple Music, despite initial headlines focusing on the latter. However, back in the US it’s Apple’s involvement in this censorship that’s drawing criticism from politicians. “It’s […]

Apple announcements: TV, news, games… and a credit card

Apple held its services-focused press launch last night, and as predicted there were announcements of new subscription-based video, news and games products. Apple TV+ will launch later in the year with original shows from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams, as well as the ability to subscribe to other providers (through […]

Apple hits back at ‘misleading rhetoric’ of Spotify anti-trust complaint

Spotify filed a complaint with the European Commission over Apple’s stewardship of its App Store earlier this week, but now Apple has hit back with a statement criticising Spotify’s “misleading rhetoric” – including jabs at the streaming service’s recent appeal against new songwriter-royalty rates in the US. “At its core, the App Store is a […]

Analyst thinks Apple can sign up 100m video-streaming subs

Apple’s next press event is on 25 March, and it’s expected to focus on services – including the long-rumoured launch of a Netflix-style video-streaming service. Analyst Wedbush has published its thoughts on what this could mean. “If Apple executes with minimal speed bumps and aggressively acquires content given the company’s massive installed base and unmatched brand loyalty […]

Spotify files complaint with European Commission against Apple

Spotify is filing a complaint against Apple with the European Commission, accusing the latter company of anticompetitive behaviour in the way it manages its App Store, and thus gives its own Apple Music streaming service an advantage over rivals. “In recent years, Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and […]

Report claims Apple’s first AR headset could launch in 2020

It’s been a few months, so it’s time for another rumour about Apple making an augmented-reality headset or goggles or similar face-worn device. This time it’s KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who’s often quoted making predictions about future Apple products, with a decent record of accuracy (or at least: better than Music Ally’s record – […]

Analyst questions impact of Apple’s rumoured video service

Apple may be announcing its long-rumoured video-streaming service next month, and analysts are chewing over the implications. One, Tim O’Shea of Jefferies, has published a report with some big numbers – but also some questions about the impact such a service would really have on Apple’s wider business. O’Shea suggested that Apple will charge $15 a month […]

Apple Music lets subscribers give a free month to a friend

Here’s an interesting new tactic for music-streaming marketing: Apple Music is encouraging subscribers to get their mates onto the service too. “Give Apple Music to your friends,” explained a promotion that was push-notified to subscribers, according to news site AppleInsider. “Apple Music is better with friends. So give one of yours a free month.” The deal […]

Apple’s news-subscription service nears – but publishers grumbling

Apple will reportedly hold its next big press event on 25 March at its Steve Jobs Theater venue. BuzzFeed described the event as “subscription-services focused”, which is thought to point towards the launch of a news-subscription service – although perhaps also an announcement about Apple’s video strategy. The news-subscription plans are making headlines though, and not entirely […]

There are 66m smart speakers in the US – and 70% are Echos

Research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) has issued its latest estimates on the smart-speaker market in the US. It claims the number of speakers in use grew from 37m at the end of 2017 to 66m at the end of 2018, including 13m bought in the fourth quarter of the year. The relative market-shares […]

Facebook financials impress but Apple row is getting serious

Facebook published its latest financial results yesterday, with quarterly revenues up 30% year-on-year to $16.91bn, leading to a net profit of $6.88bn in the fourth quarter of 2018. Mobile advertisements accounted for around 93.5% of Facebook’s overall revenues last quarter. For the year as a whole, Facebook generated just over $55.8bn in revenues, up 37% […]

Apple clarifies rules for iOS in-app subscriptions

Apple has published some new rules for how in-app subscriptions should be advertised to people using iOS apps. Those rules include clearly explaining the terms of a subscription to new customers, including the billing amount. “In the purchase flow, the amount that will be billed must be the most prominent pricing element in the layout. […]

Apple says App Store customers spent $1.22bn over Christmas

The fallout from Apple’s announcement earlier this week that its quarterly revenues would be lower than predicted continues: the company’s share price tumbled by nearly 10% yesterday as markets reacted to the news. Apple did put out some good news yesterday though: the latest festive figures for its App Store. “App Store spending topped $1.22bn […]

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