Google enlists musicians as guides for virtual artworks

Lots of musicians have artistic interests well beyond music. Now Google is capitalising on that through its Google Arts & Culture initiative, enlisting some popular musicians to act as virtual tour guides for works of art. It’s part of a series called ‘Art Zoom’, which is in its second season. J Balvin, Ellie Goulding, fka […]

Lo-Fi Player is the latest Google Magenta AI-music project

Magenta is a research project within Google exploring the intersection of AI and creativity, including a range of music demos. The latest of those is called Lo-Fi Player, and it launched this month. It’s riffing off the increasingly popular trend for listening to lo-fi hip-hop as a study aid or relaxation tool. In this case, […]

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’, […]

Neil Young Archives site ditches Facebook and Google logins

Neil Young’s official archives site is getting rid of the ability for fans to log in using their Facebook or Google accounts. Instead, they’ll be asked to register their email address and a password to access the site. In an article explaining the decision, Young – who’s been a prominent voice in the run-up to this year’s […]

Judge sinks Genius’s lyrics-scraping lawsuit against Google

Last June, Genius accused Google of scraping its song lyrics without permission, and later in the year launched a $50m lawsuit against the tech giant and its partner LyricFind. It hasn’t gone well for Genius: a federal judge has now dismissed the lawsuit. The Hollywood Reporter has the full ruling, and the gist is… well, it’s complicated. The […]

NMPA hopeful of keeping songwriters’ top line rate increase

We reported yesterday on the ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on the appeal by Amazon, Google, Pandora and Spotify against new songwriter royalty rates set by the US Copyright Royalty Board. The decision was seen as backing the streaming services in ruling against the procedure used to set the new rates. Now […]

Google launches tools for audio ads on Spotify and Pandora

Is there more money to be squeezed out of the ad-supported music market? Google hopes so. But for once, we’re not talking about YouTube in this context. Google’s advertising business is also putting some more effort into ad-supported music, with the launch of some audio-focused tools in its Google Ad Manager service, and an audio […]

YouTube reveals Google Play Music will shut down in October

As long goodbyes go, Google Play Music’s has been LONG. It was July 2017 when YouTube’s global head of music Lyor Cohen first revealed plans to merge Google’s music streaming (and cloud locker) service with YouTube’s equivalent – then called YouTube Red, but since rebranded as YouTube Music. Nearly three years later, in May 2020, YouTube […]

Google joins Facebook with stake in JioSaavn’s parent telco

Reliance Jio Platforms is the parent company of Jio, the largest telco in India and the owners of the JioSaavn music streaming service. The company has been on a spree of funding announcements in recent months – raising more than $20.2bn from various technology companies and investors. We reported on Facebook taking a $5.7bn stake in April, […]

Alphabet’s Q1 included ‘significant slowdown in ad revenues’

It should come as no surprise that Covid-19 is figuring prominently in the Q1 financial results of every public company. Alphabet announced its figures yesterday, and warned that although its revenues were up 13% to $41.2bn in the first quarter of 2020, in March it saw a “significant slowdown in ad revenues”. YouTube is part of […]

Analyst predicts big hit to Facebook and Google ad revenues

We’re trying to report on all the positive news amid the coronavirus pandemic, but we can’t ignore the bad news. For example, the likely impact on digital advertising spending, with the giants of that space – Google and Facebook – likely to take the biggest hits. “The two internet giants together could see more than $44 billion […]

BPI has now asked Google to remove more than 500m search links

British music industry body the BPI has set a new milestone, but it’s announcing it in frustration rather than celebration. The body says it has just submitted its 500 millionth URL to Google, asking for it to be delisted from the company’s search engine on the grounds of copyright infringement. The BPI also says it has […]

Love ISN’T in the air as DSPs’ US royalty-rates appeal kicks off

David Israelite, president of the National Music Publishers Association in the US, has never been a man to pull his verbal punches when taking digital services to task. “Songwriters: This week, Spotify and Amazon are quite literally taking you to court,” is how his latest guest column for Billboard begins, and it doesn’t get any less […]

Google’s Chrome browser to block ‘intrusive’ ads around videos

Google’s Chrome browser will soon stop showing videos that include certain kinds of ads, and the policy will affect YouTube as well as other websites. The changes are outlined in a blog post from Google describing “three ad experiences that people find to be particularly disruptive on video content that is less than 8 minutes long”. They […]

Google’s Area 120 launches live-music data tool with Pollstar

We’ve written about Google’s experimental division Area 120 before: for example when it launched a project called Fundo to explore crowdfunding for social stars, or when it made a co-viewing app for YouTube called Uptime. But Area 120’s latest project is of direct relevance to the music industry. It’s called ‘Demand’, and it’s a partnership with live-music brand […]

Google Meena may be the most chatty chatbot so far

Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant may be clever, but we’re not sure whether we’d class any of them as entertaining conversationalists. But Google has a new chatbot, called Meena, which may point to a future where these entities can sustain a conversation for much longer without making you (metaphorically) look frantically over their shoulder for […]

Google boss: ‘Artificial intelligence needs to be regulated’

The artificial intelligence technology being developed by companies including Google needs to be regulated… thinks the CEO of Google (and now also its parent company Alphabet) Sundar Pichai. He published a guest column for the Financial Times yesterday that’s been widely shared since, outlining his views. “History is full of examples of how technology’s virtues aren’t guaranteed. […]

Genius sues Google and LyricFind over lyrics allegedly lifted from its site

The dispute between music-lyrics site Genius and Google may yet end up in court: the former is suing the latter plus its partner LyricFind for $50m. This all relates to Genius’ accusation in June that Google was serving up some lyrics in its ‘OneBox’ search results that had been lifted from Genius – detected by the latter using alternating straight […]

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 […]

Security fears raised around Amazon and Google smart speakers

We’ve written about this before: the music industry may be excited about the growth in sales of smart speakers, but privacy campaigners have their concerns about this device category. Those concerns are relevant to our industry too: so here’s news of a new experiment conducted by Security Research Labs that’s making headlines. It developed skills for Amazon’s […]

Google tipped to buy TikTok-ish social app Firework

Another story for the soon-to-be-bulging file of ‘TikTok killers’ – most of which will turn out to be anything but. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google “has held discussions” about acquiring a startup called Firework, whose smartphone app is like TikTok, but with a 30-second limit (rather than 15) for videos, and an older demographic. […]

Euro copyright directive sparks Google change in France… for news

This week, Music Ally got a notification from Google that from late October, text snippets, video previews and thumbnail images from our website will not be shown in search results in France. We haven’t done anything wrong (we promise!) – this is an alert that anyone designated a ‘European press publication’ is getting, and it’s […]

Google and YouTube to pay $170m in child-privacy settlement

After months of speculation, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday announced details of its settlement with Google and YouTube over alleged violations of child-privacy law. The big number: $170m. That’s how much Google and YouTube are paying to settle the allegations that YouTube “illegally collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent”. $136m of that […]

Google tests Fundo, a new take on fan-funding for YouTube stars

Fundo is a new project in beta from Google’s experimental division Area 120, although its bare-bones website doesn’t divulge much information about it. “If you’re a creator on YouTube or other platforms and you’re interested in new ways to engage your audience, please request an invitation,” it explains, with a link to a form that reveals […]

Report claims Google has 15m paying music subscribers

Google hasn’t revealed how many paying subscribers its YouTube Music subscription service has, and it’s been a long time since we saw any numbers for its existing Google Play Music. Now Bloomberg has tried to plug that gap with a report mooting a number for the combined figure of both services. “Google’s paid music services have eclipsed […]

Google will offer users greater privacy and restrict cookie usage

There are flashpoint moments like Cambridge Analytica or major data breaches, but privacy concerns remain a low rumbling noise in the background for most people using online platforms and connected devices. At Google’s I/O conference this week, the company took steps to address this. Well, a bit. It will apply stricter controls on tracking users. […]

Childish Gambino gets his own Google-powered multiplayer AR app

“The experience begins with the opening of an AR portal. Walk through it to explore an augmented cave where you can find and interact with hidden glyphs while still being able to see out into the real world…” No, not the introduction to the latest Pokémon Go-style game. It’s Google’s blog post about its latest collaboration […]

YouTube Music launches free, ad-supported tier for Google Home speakers

Reports earlier this week that Amazon was preparing to launch a free music-streaming tier for its Echo smart speakers sparked a drop in Spotify’s share price. So what effect will today’s news that YouTube Music is launching a ‘free, ad-supported experience’ for Google Home speakers have? In fact, YouTube Music’s free audio tier will work […]

Google Assistant can now talk like musician John Legend

“Imagine hearing the silky smooth voice of John Legend answering your pressing questions everyday. Or narrating your local weather forecast. Or singing you happy birthday,” wrote Google’s Manuel Bronstein in a blog post yesterday. No, Legend isn’t back on the dating market. Instead, he’s lent his voice to Google’s voice assistant, Google Assistant – albeit only […]

Google steps up artist migration from Google Play Music

It’s no secret that streaming service Google Play Music will be shutting down, as its parent company concentrates its energy on YouTube Music. The process of phasing out the older service is stepping up, with the closure later this month of the Google Play Artist Hub. This was the way independent artists managed their profiles […]

BBC pulls its podcasts from Google Podcasts and Assistant

Amid all the excitement around new distribution platforms for podcasts, there are also some tensions. For example, British broadcaster the BBC has pulled its catalogue of shows from the Google Podcasts app, as well as Google Assistant. The Beeb explained why in a blog post. “Last year, Google launched its own podcast app for Android users […]

Google wants musicians to play with its new AI-music tool

Google has been exploring the potential for AI-created music for a while now. Today, it’s making its latest experiment public, and in a high-profile way: in one of the ‘Doodles’ promoted on the homepage of its search engine. It’s an AI-powered Doodle that celebrates composer Johann Sebastian Bach. “An interactive experience encouraging players to compose a […]

Google takes the wrappers off game-streaming service Stadia

Google was rumoured to be launching its own games console at the GDC event this week. Actually, the big reveal was something slightly different: but still a big move in the games world. Google’s new thing is called Stadia: a new cloud-gaming service that will let people play games by streaming them on TVs, laptops, […]

Elizabeth Warren’s big-tech breakup could affect music-streaming

We’ll be honest: there are lots of reasons that US Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren thinks the biggest technology companies should be broken up: and none of them are directly about what the benefits might be for music listeners, artists and the music industry. But given the ongoing debate about ‘platform-to-business’ regulation – how the […]

US publishers slam streaming services over CRB rates appeal

The National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) in the US has given Amazon and Spotify both barrels over their decision to appeal against the recent songwriter royalty rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board. Yet it seems other companies are also appealing. Spotify, Google and Pandora have confirmed that they have asked the US Court of […]

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 […]

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