Reeperbahn Festival day one: Copyright, Brexit and more

Authenticity, Copyright law, and – oh yes – Brexit were all on the agenda during the first day of conference sessions at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg. In an era where perceived authenticity counts for so much, songwriters composing for clients who want songs for adverts might be asked to create songs that fulfil two […]

Amazon Music gets an HD tier, starting in the US, UK, Japan and Germany

Amazon Music has become the biggest music-streaming service yet to add a higher-quality tier. Amazon Music HD launches in the US, UK, Germany and Japan this week. It will cost $12.99 a month for Amazon Prime members and $14.99 a month for non-members. That’s $5 more than the cost of the existing Amazon Music service […]

Martina McBride criticises Spotify again over playlist algorithm (and Spotify agrees)

Earlier this month, we reported on country star Martina McBride’s anger at Spotify’s recommendation algorithm, after its first 135 suggestions of tracks for a ‘country music’ playlist she was making were all by men. Spotify’s head of artist and label marketing in Nashville, Brittany Schaffer, seemed to have smoothed over the waters with a coffee […]

Napster’s Angel Gambino talks tech, Ek and streaming’s evolution

Angel Gambino has been in the digital trenches since the late 1990s. Her career has seen her work in early social gaming (for Gameplay·com); test the digital waters for TV (at the BBC and Viacom); and forge content strategies for social networking (Bebo). In 2019, she’s putting the lessons learned to work in her current […]

YouTube excludes paid-ad views from its music charts and 24-hour records

YouTube is making a change to the way it calculates its YouTube Music charts, and its ’24-hour debut’ records. From now on, paid advertising views will not count towards either. The change follows a recent controversy when Sony Music India claimed that artist Badshah had broken YouTube’s 24-hour-debut record, before it emerged that paid ads […]

US politician Tim Ryan reveals his policies… as a Spotify album

Democrat congressman Tim Ryan is one of the runners in the race to take on Donald Trump in the next US presidential election. Not one of the front-runners, or even a mid-runner in fairness: he didn’t clear the bar of fundraising and polling to qualify for this week’s televised debate between candidates. However, Ryan is […]

Fan project turns Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’ into a VR video

Hot on the heels of Björk releasing her new virtual-reality album, there’s a new VR experience for Daft Punk’s classic track ‘One More Time’. However, in this case, it isn’t an official release by the band. ‘Interstella VR’ has been produced as a fan project by Australian developer Jake Donaldson and a small team of collaborators […]

Lucy Dacus is spending 2019 releasing ‘slow music’ holiday songs

Artist Lucy Dacus is stepping out of the traditional album-release cycle in 2019, choosing instead to release a series of tracks tied to public holidays and other notable dates. She covered ‘La Vie En Rose’ for Valentine’s Day; released ‘My Mother & I’ for Mother’s Day; and then a track called ‘Forever Half Mast’ for […]

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 […]

Spotify launches a podcast about musician mxmtoon

Oakland-based singer/songwriter mxmtoon has built an audience of 3.6 million listeners on Spotify – aided by slots on playlists including New Music Friday, Lorem and Alone Again. Now she’s getting a different kind of support from the streaming service: its Spotify Studios division is making an eight-episode podcast all about her. It’s called ’21 Days […]

Lil Nas X promises to release 25 remixes of ‘Panini’

If you thought that the succession of remixes of Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ were a *bit much* we’d advise you to look away from your screen now. “PANINI REMIX 1 OF 25 TONIGHT!” he tweeted yesterday. This was shortly before dropping said remix, which features rap star DaBaby. ‘Panini’ was originally released as a single in […]

Spotify takes flak for location-tracking family-plan move

Spotify knows where you live… but it would like to check that you’re still living there, every so often, if that’s okay? This is part of the new terms and conditions for the company’s much-discussed Premium Family plan. An August update to the t’s and c’s included this clause: “We may from time to time […]

The challenge with podcast music-licensing: annual renewals

If you read our report of the event we ran with the BPI in June, you’ll already be well aware that licensing music for podcasts is… challenging. Now Billboard has published an interesting feature outlining some of those problems in more detail. It explains some of the basics: for example that licensing a song for a podcast is […]

Vevo says its music videos generate more than 800m daily views

A birthday we almost forgot about: Vevo is 10 years old this year. The music-videos firm has published a few new stats to celebrate the performance of the 400k-plus videos in its catalogue. Vevo says that its catalogue is currently averaging more than 800m views a day, rising to near-1bn on the weekends. It also […]

Deezer steps up its efforts to introduce user-centric payments

Deezer is hoping to launch a pilot of a user-centric payment system (UCPS) by early 2020 in France, if it can persuade labels to back the idea. As part of its preparations, it has launched a website this morning explaining UCPS to music fans. As a quick reminder: user-centric payments divide the streaming royalties from […]

NY:LON Connect keynotes confirmed: Cecilia Qvist, Sun Lee, Scott Cohen

The first three keynote speakers have been announced for NY:LON Connect, the conference co-organised by The Music Business Association (Music Biz) and Music Ally. Spotify’s global head of markets Cecilia Qvist; YouTube Music’s head of music content partnerships and subscriptions for Korea and Greater China Sun Lee; and Warner Music Group’s chief innovation officer – recorded […]

Esthero interrupts her own track to protest streaming royalties

Canadian artist Esthero has found a novel way to make her views known about streaming royalties: within a track that she’s released on streaming services. One minute and 37 seconds in to ‘Gimme Some Time’, she interrupts the music. “Hello there, sweet listener. So, I really hope you’re enjoying my song. This is Esthero by […]

KPMG India predicts growing prominence for music subscriptions

Research firm KPMG’s India division has published its annual Media and Entertainment Report for 2019, which describes India’s digital future as a “mass of niches”. It’s very good for rooting what’s happening around music-streaming in the context of the wider digital-media ecosystem, as well as the Indian economy. There are some good music specifics though. “The […]

BBC reveals some of its experiments with augmented reality

British broadcaster the BBC has been experimenting with smartglasses – augmented-reality specs – to explore what potential these devices might have for television in the future. “The immersive nature of augmented reality, effectively projecting holograms into your eyes and enabling you to physically interact with those holograms, could offer exciting new ways to watch TV, […]

Musicians star in ‘Seize the Awkward’ mental-health campaign

Four musicians are taking part in a new mental-health campaign aimed at teenagers and young adults. Lindsey Stirling, Hayley Kiyoko, Aminé, and Christina Perri are the stars of the latest ‘Seize the Awkward’ campaign, which is being run by the Ad Council in the US. Each artist features in their own short video released through the […]

UMG’s schlager YouTube channel is doing 30m views a month

This story has been written to the soundtrack of gravelly-voiced German artist Ben Zucker, as well as the ‘Ultimatver Party Hitmix’ of his compatriot Sonia Liebing. It’s been quite the listen. Why? Because we’ve been investigating Universal Music’s ‘Ich Find Schlager Toll!’ YouTube channel (translation: ‘I think Schlager’s great!’). It’s one of the projects called […]

Sony unveils new Walkman complete with MQA hi-res support

Search for ‘Walkman’ on Google, and the ‘people also ask’ boxout reveals that common searches include ‘When was the Walkman discontinued?’ and ‘Do they still make Walkmans?’. The answer to the latter being ‘yes’ – a new one was unveiled yesterday by Sony. The Walkman NW-ZX507 (Sony’s consumer electronics division continues to have an… interesting […]

100,000 people watched MelodyVR’s GMA Summer Concerts stream

Music virtual-reality startup MelodyVR recently broadcast one of US TV show Good Morning America’s ‘Summer Concert Series’ gigs featuring Marshmello and Kane Brown. How did that go? MelodyVR says that the concert generated more than 100k live streams through its app alone. It’s now been archived for fans to watch in the app at their leisure. However, […]

UK’s CMA suspends plans for court action against Viagogo

British regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been harrying secondary-ticketing firm Viagogo for some time now over how it presents tickets to its customers. In July, the CMA announced plans to move forward with legal proceedings against Viagogo for contempt of court, claiming that it had failed to comply with a court order mandating changes. […]

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 […]

Alibaba reportedly buying a 20% stake in NetEase Cloud Music

Big moves are afoot in China’s music-streaming world, with reports that tech giant Alibaba is acquiring a 20% stake in NetEase Cloud Music, as part of a wider $2bn investment in the latter’s parent company NetEase. MBW suggests that the deal may value NetEase Cloud Music as high as $9bn – less than half that of rival […]

US recorded-music business grew by 18% in first half of 2019

Pop the champagne corks! Well, if you’re one of Music Ally’s American readers reading this story at the start of your working day, perhaps leave that until… whatever time won’t get you sacked for too-early-in-the-day boozing. But yes: celebrations, because the latest mid-year figures for the US recorded-music market are out from the RIAA, and they look […]

Mabel teams up with Samsung for ‘world’s first vertical gig’

We like Mabel a lot. We’re excited about many of the ways that music fans are sharing their love for music using mobile phones and social apps. But we apologise for raising a weary eyebrow at news that Mabel played “the world’s first vertical gig” for Samsung at “London’s new destination to experience the latest […]

X Ambassadors launch video for blind and partially-sighted fans

What does a music video made for blind and partially-sighted people look like? Artist X Ambassadors have worked with Microsoft to find out. The ‘audio-only music video’ is for the band’s track ‘Boom’, and has been released as an application for computers, mobile devices and Microsoft’s mixed-reality HoloLens headset. It uses a spatial-audio technology called ‘Windows […]

Jeffrey Epstein to be focus of Sony Music JV’s first podcast

Of all the possible topics for a major-label press release landing in Music Ally’s inbox, Jeffrey Epstein is definitely the most surprising. The late financier, who took his own life last month while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, is the subject for the first show being made by Three Uncanny Four Productions, the podcast-production […]

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 […]

‘Juicing’ YouTube views with ads isn’t just an India thing

Sony Music artist Badshah came under the spotlight recently when his label claimed he’d broken YouTube’s first-day-views record; YouTube pointedly didn’t confirm it (and still hasn’t); and then debate ensued about the strategy of buying Google ads to boost a video’s view-count on YouTube. As Times Music COO Mandar Thakur crisply put it in a panel at […]

Sony Music UK buys merchandise firm Kontraband

Major labels buying merchandise companies is an established trend now, from Universal Music’s Bravado division acquiring rival Epic Rights in January, and Warner Music paying $180m for German merch firm EMP in October 2018. The latest example was announced this morning: Sony Music UK is acquiring merchandise firm Kontraband for an undisclosed amount. The deal […]

Startup studio Betaworks launches camp for ‘the future of audio’

Betaworks isn’t an ‘accelerator’ as such: it styles itself as a ’startup studio’ – meaning that besides running accelerators, it also builds new things in-house, and invests in external startups. GIF search-engine Giphy and mobile game Dots are two of its hits so far. Now it’s focusing on audio with its latest startup ‘camp’ program, […]

Musiio reveals its first commercial client: Audio Network

We’ve written a few times about music/tech startup Musiio this year: the company uses artificial-intelligence (AI) technology to analyse catalogues of music, for purposes including search, metadata-tagging and playlisting. Now the company has announced its first commercial client: Audio Network, the production-music firm acquired by Entertainment One earlier this year (with eOne now in the process of […]

Amanda Palmer says artists still fear crowdfunding criticism

Amanda Palmer was one of the first artists to make big headlines with a crowdfunding campaign, thanks to her 2012 Kickstarter campaign which raised nearly $1.2m for an album, art book and tour. Since then, she’s switched to ongoing fan-funding on Patreon, where she has more than 15,000 patrons paying from $1 per ‘thing’ that she produces. This week, […]

Y Viva España! Spanish music revenues up 27% in first half of 2019

Remember when Spain was one of the world’s recorded-music basket cases, thanks to piracy? No more. The years between 2014 and 2018 saw steady growth (5.4%, 10%, 6.7%, 6.1% and 5.9% respectively according to the IFPI) of total revenues, but things have stepped up a couple of notches in the first half of 2019. According […]

Tracking hit as Gmail iPhone app offers image-blocking option

Well, it’s not so much ‘blocking’ as it is an option for Gmail’s iPhone app not to automatically display external images when people are reading emails. But that in turn will have an impact on some of the technologies used by marketers to track (for example) emails being opened. Not that this is the main reason Google […]

Spotify subsidiaries launch new business and horoscopes podcasts

The production lines are rolling for Spotify’s recently-acquired podcast studios, Gimlet and Parcast. Yesterday each had a brand new podcast to announce. Gimlet’s is called ‘The Journal’, and is a partnership with the Wall Street Journal for a daily show about “money, business and power”. That daily cycle could be important: it’ll generate useful content that […]

Taylor Swift’s ‘Enhanced Album’ Spotify playlist has 1m followers

According to Republic Records, Taylor Swift’s new album ‘Lover’ has whizzed past the mark of 3m ‘album equivalent units’ worldwide since its release a week and a half ago. Interesting, since a third of that consumption came from China alone. But we’re also interested in the role played by Swift’s ‘Love Taylor, Lover Enhanced Album’ playlist on […]

Russian startup Fluent launches its adaptive-music app

The idea of adaptive-music apps, where music adapts in real-time to what you’re doing, has been around for a long time – from the heyday of British startup RjDj to 2019’s LifeScore. Now there’s another startup exploring the potential: Moscow-based Fluent, which has launched its “immersive music” app for iPhone. Its pitch: “Spotify plays static files. AI generates bland, soulless […]

Music/tech VC firm DBTH Capital raises a €35m fund

The latest company hoping to make a splash in the music/tech investment scene is DBTH Capital, whose founding partner is veteran music executive Virginie Berger. It’s got some money to make that splash too. “Happy to announce that my VC Fund, DBTH Capital has raised €35 million in a first close of its first fund. The […]

Warner Music Group talks startups, technology and investment

In Music Ally’s latest analysis report, we take a look at the three major labels’ strategies around music/tech startups and investment. The full report is for Music Ally subscribers only, but you can sign up for a free trial, which includes access to the latest report. An extract from it follows, focusing on Warner Music […]

Big Ear Games sees more potential for music-learning apps

The intersection of mobile gaming and music education is a category Music Ally has been tracking since 2011, when a Finnish startup called Ovelin started to get attention for a music-learning game called WildChords. It later rebranded as Yousician, and as of summer 2019 has generated more than 100m downloads of its apps. Now history might […]

Indian telco Airtel launches TV, video and music bundle

We’ve been talking about the prospect of music-streaming services being bundled with video and other services for some time now, often through the lens of what the big, global technology companies like Apple, Google and Amazon will be doing. However, in India there’s another angle to this debate: telcos. Witness Bharti Airtel (Airtel for short), […]

BMG boss suggests major-label valuations are overblown

BMG’s chief executive Hartwig Masuch has been taking his latest potshots at the three major labels, this time focusing on whether their cost structures will prove unwieldy as deals tip more in favour of artists, from frontline catalogue to renewals of existing deals. “The deals for big hits today are much more aggressive than people […]

Report claims that Facebook could start hiding ‘like’ counts

Social networks are trying to row back on some of the unintended consequences of their key mechanics, with ‘likes’ (or at least the public display of how many times posts have been liked) particularly under the microscope. Instagram has been testing hiding likes in some countries, and now it seems Facebook – which popularised the […]

YouTube tipped to be fined up to $200m in child-privacy case

There has been gossip about an imminent settlement between Google/YouTube and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for some time now. The latest burst of reports suggests that YouTube will be paying between $150m and $200m in fines, as part of  settlement of charges relating to children’s privacy – and specifically to data collection and […]

Spotify commissioned an Instagram AR effect for artist Headie One

British artist Headie One is the latest musician to experiment with an augmented-reality (AR) camera effect in a social app – in his case, Instagram. It’s based on the artwork from his new mixtape ‘Music x Road’: a reflective mask and chest-tattoo that fans can superimpose on themselves for the purpose of Insta amusement. What’s […]

Startup Resonoo is putting AI to work on spotting hit songs

Back in May 2018, Music Ally spotted a new startup called OptimiseLab, which was building “AI technology to analyse, improve, and compose music”. Initially, it was focusing on the first of those: a tool that “accurately predicts music popularity scores and provides customised advice on song improvement”. 15 months on, and OptimiseLab has just rebranded to Resonoo, […]

Partisan co-founder talks music-licensing for podcasts

When Music Ally and British industry body the BPI held an event about music and podcasts earlier this year, one of the main talking points was about the difficulty of licensing music for podcasts. “Rights are a disaster,” being just the snappiest summary of the current situation. Now podcasting-industry site Hot Pod News has been talking […]

Spotify can now share 15-second music clips to Facebook stories

The ability to share songs to ‘stories’ posts on Instagram has become a regular announcement by the various streaming services. Now Spotify is improving its integration with Facebook’s stories feature, by adding the actual music. “Today, we’re rolling out a more powerful way to connect with fans on Facebook Stories — with 15-second song previews,” announced Spotify […]

Kilimanjaro Live responds to critics of Ed Sheeran resale policy

Within the music industry, Ed Sheeran and promotions firm Kilimanjaro Live have won plenty of praise for their stance against ticket touting. Not just for criticising the practice, but for taking action – helping fans with a genuine reason for reselling tickets to do it, while also clamping down on those sold through secondary platform […]

Vroom! Rick Ross gets his own racing game on Facebook

Is Facebook gaming still a thing? After a decade of ignoring Music Ally’s FarmVille farm, we don’t dare log back in to find out what became of our crops and animals. But yes, Facebook gaming IS still a thing: the social network’s catalogue of ‘instant games’ now sits within a dedicated gaming tab on the […]

Mabel and Marshmello flex their curation skills on Apple Music

Are streaming exclusives dead? Not quite, but they tend to veer towards the promotional side of things nowadays: an album will be available everywhere, but (for example) live EPs are fair game for single-service exclusives. Witness Mabel’s ‘Stripped Session’ acoustic EP, which is exclusive to Apple Music. She is also the latest artist to turn […]

African music-streaming service Boomplay now has 53m users

Boomplay has become one of the most prominent music-streaming services to have launched in Africa, and now it has announced a new figure for its growth. It now claims to have more than 53 million users, up from 42 million in April this year, when the company raised a $20m funding round. Boomplay also says that […]

Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’ sets another new record… in China

It’s a week since the release of the new Taylor Swift album ‘Lover’, so we’ll be looking out for announcements about its sales and streams. The first official word today on the album’s performance has a very specific focus though: China. Universal Music has put out a press release celebrating the fact that ’Taylor Swift’s […]

Spotify and YouTube Music top latest music-apps downloads chart

App-analytics firm SensorTower has been casting its eye over the music world again: publishing its estimates for the most-downloaded music apps globally in July. Its stats come from analysis of Apple and Google’s app stores, although not other third-party Android app stores (notably in China, where those stores are extremely popular). Spotify tops the chart covering overall […]

New music revenues in India, from sync to digital merch

On the first day of the All About Music conference in Mumbai, IMI boss Blaise Fernandes cited an “underexploited” public performance market as one of the drivers of growth that will help steer India in its quest to become one of the world’s top ten biggest music markets by 2022. On the second day, at […]

Vevo strikes a new distribution deal for smart TVs

Have you heard of Vewd? It’s a new name to Music Ally too, but that’s perhaps unsurprising: we haven’t had much reason in the past to write about “the world’s largest smart TV OTT software provider”. So, Vewd provides the ‘smarts’ for TVs and set-top devices made by Sony, Philips, TiVo and other manufacturers, to the […]

Just like TikTok, Smule is bigger than you think in India

Yesterday was the second day of the All About Music conference in Mumbai, exploring various facets of the music industry’s development in India. Among the speakers was Jesse Gillette, SVP of business development at Smule, one of the longest-established social-music apps companies. The session yielded some interesting stats on its scale in India. Smule has 40 million users […]

Jamiphy says it’ll be ‘TikTok for musicians’ – including AIs

Startup Jamiphy’s website is currently deliberately enigmatic: simply showing a logo and a screenshot of a mobile app with a musician playing guitar, and a string of emojis that look like feedback from people watching a video livestream. The company’s profile on investment site AngelList fleshes that out a bit though: Jamiphy is based in San Francisco, and […]

Production-music startup Soundstripe raises $2m

It feels like a matter of months since we were writing about Nashville production-music startup Soundstripe raising a $4m funding round… mainly because it IS just a matter of months. That round in May 2019 is now being followed by another $2m of investment, from Craft Ventures. That’s a good score for Soundstripe: the VC firm is run […]

Vampr shoots past $100k in its equity-crowdfunding campaign

Startup Vampr has been around since 2016, as one of the startups hoping to create a ‘LinkedIn for musicians’ industry-focused social network. It has since raised $900k of funding from angel investors and industry executives, but in 2019 the company is turning to the crowd for more money. Vampr has launched an equity-crowdfunding campaign this week using […]

Report: TikTok is testing a native audience network for ads

If TikTok is going to pay sizeable royalties to music rightsholders at some point, it’s going to need sizeable revenues, with advertising likely to loom large. So, AdWeek’s report on the company’s plans should make interesting reading for the music industry. “A trove of newly discovered developer documents reveal the platform has rolled out a native audience […]

Startup Kena·ai is creating an AI ‘personal music teacher’

Music Ally has written a fair bit about artificial intelligence (AI) technology being used to generate music. What about teaching humans to play music? That’s the goal of a new San Francisco startup called Kena·ai. The company is developing what it describes as “an Artificial-Intelligence personal music teacher” capable of “giving real-time feedback on practice sessions, […]

Spotify surveys artists on how to expand its provider directory

Spotify’s ‘Provider Directory’ is its list of “preferred” and “recommended” artist and label distribution services: something we’ve reported on in the past as new companies have been added. Spotify appears to be mulling an expansion of that section of its website to include other kinds of services, however. A survey linked to from the directory asks people […]

Tencent Music under pressure over exclusive licensing deals

One of the quirks of China’s music-streaming market has been the system of exclusive licensing deals: where a label will license its catalogue exclusively to one streaming firm, which will then sub-license it to its rivals. There has been talk for several months of the system being done away with at the behest of regulators. […]

No, ‘Old Town Road’ may not have been THE summer smash of 2019

It seems silly to raise the question of what was the biggest hit of summer 2019, given the chart dominance of ‘Old Town Road’ in various parts of the world in recent months. Yet here’s the thing: it wasn’t the most-streamed song of the summer on Spotify or on YouTube. Both services have put out their global charts […]

Indian music industry debates potential for paid music subs

“I think we’re on course,” said Blaise Fernandes, the president and CEO of India’s official recorded music industry body the Indian Music Industry, when asked on a status update on the country’s plan to break into the top ten of the world’s biggest music markets by 2022, at this year’s edition of the annual All […]

Amuse CEO talks growth, Old Town Road and artist-friendly deals

“What have you done for me lately?” Diego Farias, CEO of music distributor and label Amuse, is on the other end of a video call to Music Ally, singing the chorus of Janet Jackson’s classic track with a smile on his face, but thankfully no wardrobe malfunctions with his clothing. It’s not (just) for the […]

Facebook reportedly working on new Instagram spin-off: Threads

It always sounds like big news when Facebook is ‘secretly’ working on a new standalone app, but experience has taught us that such apps often end up quietly shutting down – perhaps useful for experimental purposes, but not exactly making a dent in the mobile-social landscape. Slingshot, Riff, Rooms, Moments… Anyway, that’s useful context not […]

Billie Eilish to play a virtual-reality gig in Oculus Venues

Billie Eilish is the latest artist playing a concert that will be streamed in virtual reality. The gig will take place on 3 September in Madrid, and then later that evening will be broadcast in Facebook’s ‘Oculus Venues’ app for its Oculus Go and Oculus Quest headsets. The concert is the result of a partnership with startup […]

Major Lazer remix Fortnite music and launch in-game pack

After Marshmello and Weezer, the latest artist to launch a high-profile collaboration with video-game Fortnite is Major Lazer. The Diplo-led group have remixed two of the tracks that players hear in Fortnite’s ‘lobby’ – ‘Default Vibe’ and ‘Default Fire’. Meanwhile, the game’s publisher Epic Games has created a ‘Lazerism’ set of virtual items, including a […]

Smart speaker market may have declined in the US last quarter

If you’ve been following the smart-speakers market with interest, you’ll have seen this coming a few months ago: Chinese tech firm Baidu is now selling more of these devices than Google is. Well, that’s what research firm Canalys claims, anyway. But its latest report also points to a potentially-worrying decline in shipments in the US. […]

Taylor Swift drops ‘Lover’ video ahead of album release

What’s that? Taylor Swift has a new album out? You’d think someone in the media and/or streaming-service world would have told you, right? Just joking: ‘Lover’ is inescapable this week, with a full complement of DSP activations and media excitement for Swift’s first post-Big-Machine album. One of the key planks in the promotional strategy was […]

Startup Audoo adds more industry veterans to its advisory board

Audoo is one of the startups trying to ensure musicians get paid the royalties due to them – in its case, by developing tech to monitor music usage with a device placed in gyms, cafes and other public venues that feeds information back to collecting societies on what tracks have been played. Now the company is […]

Techstars Music 2020 kicks off: ‘We will look at everything!’

“We want to invest in a game where the playing of the game includes all the roles of the music business, and the output of the game is real music and real pop stars. I’ve been trying to make this investment for three years. I feel it’s inevitable…” If that startup exists, Bob Moczydlowsky, MD […]

Taylor Swift has pre-sold nearly 1m copies of ‘Lover’ album

Amid all the hubbub around the various streaming services’ activations around Taylor Swift’s new album ‘Lover’ it shouldn’t be forgotten that she’s one of the artists still capable of shifting a LOT of album sales. Variety has the scoop on how ‘Lover’ is doing, courtesy of a chat with Republic Records’ Monte Lipman. “The anticipation of […]

Mark Ronson is releasing an interactive Instagram music video

As Facebook has continued to sign music-licensing deals that include Instagram, so artists and labels have been thinking about what more they can do with music and videos on the popular social app. Mark Ronson is the latest example of an artist to benefit: his ‘Pieces of Us’ track with King Princess is getting an […]

Distributors on the move: The Orchard Japan plus Ditto X tour

Two prominent music distributors are announcing their latest globetrotting plans. For The Orchard, that means opening an office in Tokyo to fully establish The Orchard Japan. It’ll be led by former Amazon Music exec Yuuki Kaneko, who’s The Orchard’s VP, Japan. The new division will focus on offering its distribution and other services to Japanese […]

SiriusXM debuts $4-a-month streaming subscription for students

SiriusXM is the latest company trying to tempt students into paid subscriptions. In its case, the satellite-radio company is offering a new $4-a-month streaming package for students, which will offer a bundle of its music and talk stations to stream on smartphones, other in-home devices, and the SiriusXM web player. The pitch is this: “Today’s […]

BTS fuelled Big Hit Entertainment surge in first half of 2019

Korean music firm Big Hit Entertainment held its latest media briefing yesterday, and dropped some impressive numbers to show how its business is surging in 2019. The company’s revenues in the first half of 2019 were more than 200bn Won (around $166m) – already more than Big Hit’s revenues for the whole of 2018. And […]

Super Hi-Fi wants to revamp music-streaming with AI… inspired by radio

Of all the startup demos I’ve been given over the last decade working for Music Ally, Super Hi-Fi’s is the first that involves listening to Seal’s 1990s hit ‘Crazy’ being mixed into classic jazz cut ‘Monk’s Dream’ by Thelonious Monk. Oh, and it’s an AI doing the mixing, not a human. Super Hi-Fi isn’t an […]

Spotify creates its own daily-news podcast in Colombia

We reported yesterday on the launch of a new, daily true-crime podcast by Spotify’s recently-acquired Parcast studio. Now Spotify is launching another daily podcast – in Colombia. It’s called ‘El Primer Café‘, and the show is a collaboration with Colombian newspaper El Tiempo. Co-hosted by broadcast journalist María Beatriz Echandía and DJ / podcaster Félix […]

Korn will play a virtual concert in AdventureQuest games

When Marshmello played a concert in the game Fortnite earlier this year, he pulled a virtual crowd of 10.7 million people. Korn won’t have expected that scale of audience for their own virtual in-game shows yesterday, but the move shows that in the wake of the Marshmello success, other games and other artists are exploring the […]

Taylor Swift to reveal new lyrics through her Spotify playlist

When we wrote last week about YouTube’s plans to host a live online event with Taylor Swift for the release of her new album ‘Lover’, we pointed out that other streaming services would be doing their own activations around the release. Spotify revealed its plans yesterday: a playlist called ‘Love, Taylor: The Lover Enhanced Album’. It’s starting […]

Migos star Offset buys a stake in esports crew FaZe Clan

The list of musicians who’ve invested in esports teams is growing longer by the month. Drake, The Weeknd, Will Smith, Drake (again), Steve Aoki and Imagine Dragons are among those who’ve acquired stakes in the esports business so far. Now you can add Offset, of hip-hop trio Migos. He’s investing in one of the most famous esports franchises, FaZe Clan, taking an undisclosed stake […]

Tidal adds social features (oh, and threatens to sue Norway)

Tidal is the latest music-streaming service to hop onto the ‘stories’ social-media bandwagon. Its mobile app can now share music (tracks, albums, artists and playlists) to Instagram and Facebook stories, while videos can also be shared to Instagram stories. The video aspect is what’s new, compared to similar integrations from rivals: Tidal users will be able to […]

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 […]

Spotify Untold book may become a TV show after screen rights optioned

Swedish authors Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud have made a splash with their book ‘Spotify Inifrån’ (‘Spotify Untold’), which promised to tell the inside story of Spotify’s rise to power. Now that book could be heading to the small screen. TV firm Yellow Bird UK, which is part of production giant Banijay Group, has optioned the […]

Spotify appears to be testing ‘stories’ for its playlists

Independent researcher Jane Manchun Wong has an excellent job: digging around in the code of smartphone apps to root out as-yet-unannounced new features. Her latest blog post is the result of a furtle within Spotify’s Android app. “Spotify is working on bringing Stories to Playlists, providing artists a way to connect with listeners through storytelling,” wrote Wong. […]

Spotify’s Parcast launches a daily true-crime podcast

Spotify paid around $56m to acquire podcast production firm Parcast earlier this year, so what is the streaming service getting for its money? This week, it’s getting a brand new podcast called ‘Today In True Crime’, which as the name implies, will be a daily show. “Crime never takes a day off, and neither do we,” as […]

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 […]

Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’ finally hits number one in the US

After nine weeks hovering impatiently at number two in the US singles chart, Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’ has finally toppled Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ from the summit, securing her a first number one in her home country. Billboard reported that 39.1m US streams and 20k download sales – up 10% and 11% week-on-week respectively – […]

Chance the Rapper reaches 1bn-streams milestone on SoundCloud

Eight years after uploading his first track to SoundCloud, Chance the Rapper has passed the milestone of 1bn streams on the service. It’s no surprise that SoundCloud is shouting about it: Chance is ‘the first independent SoundCloud Premier creator’ to reach that total on its platform. It’s a reminder of an artist that SoundCloud considers […]

The mysterious tale of disappearing viral hit ‘Omae Wa Mou’

It’s not entirely accurate to describe deadman死人’s track ‘Omae Wa Mou’ as having disappeared: you can still easily find it on YouTube. But Rolling Stone has published an excellent analysis of the track’s TikTok-fuelled surge to top spot on Spotify’s Viral 50 chart, before being abruptly removed from the streaming service after a copyright-infringement claim. It’s a […]

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 […]

Telco Verizon creates a New York pop-up for Shawn Mendes

We’re used to companies like Spotify building pop-up installations for artists: Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish and Aya Nakamura have all got the pop-up treatment from the streaming service. Now US telco Verizon is getting in on the act. This weekend it will host ‘This is Shawn’ in New York, as part of its partnership with […]

African telco MTN has high hopes for MusicTime music service

MTN in Africa has been one of the telcos most engaged with music in recent times. It started offering Tidal to its customers in Uganda through a bundle partnership announced in August 2018, then in November it acquired streaming service Simfy, which although defunct in Europe since 2015 had continued to exist in Africa. In December, MTN used […]

eMarketer says voice-assistant use is reaching ‘critical mass’

Hey Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, DuerOS and other voice assistants: how popular ARE you in 2019? Research firm eMarketer has published some new numbers for use of this technology in the US. “We estimate that 111.8 million people in the US will use a voice assistant at least monthly this year, up 9.5% from 102.0 million in […]

Spotify upgrades family plan with new features (but same price… for now)

Last week, it was reported that Spotify will test a price increase for its family-plan subscription in Scandinavia. This morning, the company is announcing that it is launching an “upgraded” version of the plan globally, although the press release sent out by Spotify made it clear in the very first paragraph that this is “for […]

YouTube to host ‘Lover’s Lounge’ live event for Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s new album ‘Lover’ drops on 23 August, and she has teamed up with YouTube for a live-streamed event the day before called ‘Lover’s Lounge (Live)’. It’ll see Swift performing a new track from the album, taking part in a Q&A, and plugging her collaboration with Stella McCartney on a new clothing range. At […]

TikTok users try to figure out its recommendation algorithm

Since the earliest days of people becoming famous on YouTube, there’s been intent debate about how the platform’s recommendation algorithm works and, as a follow-on, how to game that algorithm to get more views. It’s the same for any big digital service, of course. And now TikTok is no different. Vice has a good feature […]

YouTube manual-claiming copyright tool gets more changes

The news that YouTube is making changes to the way its copyright-claims process works for music used in videos sounds like big news, but the caveat in this case is that the changes apply to ‘manual’ claims. That’s as opposed to automated claims using its Content ID system, which account for the “vast majority” of […]

DSPs and NMPA filings are in over new CRB royalty rates

Breaking news: there isn’t just one appeal against the new songwriter-royalty rates proposed by the Copyright Royalty Board in the US. The one from Spotify, Pandora, Google and Amazon we all know about – it was officially filed yesterday in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, and if you’re keen you can read […]

Report: Spotify to test 13% rise in family-plan subscription

Spotify will launch another test of a subscription price-increase in Scandinavia, according to a Bloomberg report published yesterday. While the company hasn’t itself announced the plans, Bloomberg cited several ‘people familiar with the matter’ as suggesting that the test will see the cost of a family plan rising by around 13% – so from €14.99 a month […]

Report claims that adult-dating scammers are targeting TikTok

TikTok’s latest headache? It’s the latest platform to be targeted by scammers, attracted by its sharp growth in users. Cybersecurity firm Tenable has published a blog post outlining a scam involving ‘adult-dating’ services. “These profiles feature stolen videos from sources like Instagram and Snapchat, featuring women dancing, posing in bikinis, working out or just going about their […]

Hi-res streaming service Qobuz says it has 25k US listeners

Despite all the industry-conference panels predicting that high-resolution music is the next big leap for our industry, the idea has yet to really catch fire with mainstream listeners. For sure, artists and labels like the idea of music sounding like it did in the recording studio; companies like MQA have been working hard to put […]

eMarketer says teens are ditching Facebook in France and Germany

It feels like people have been predicting a ‘teen flight’ from Facebook for years now – probably because they have. eMarketer is the latest research firm trying to back up the theory with some actual data, this time based on France and Germany. It claims that this year, the total number of Facebook users in France […]

UK’s ‘Get It Right’ piracy campaign enlists influencers

In the recent lobbying around the European Union’s new copyright directive and its Article 13, the music industry and YouTubers were usually on opposite sides of the argument. YouTube actively encouraged its creators to protest against some of the planned changes, and a number took up cudgels in its defence. So here’s an interesting thing […]

Pandora boosts podcasts catalogue with open submission tool

Spotify just brought its podcast analytics out of beta, but now Pandora is making its latest move in spoken-word content: by inviting podcasters to submit their shows to its platform. The tool is available within Pandora’s Artist Marketing Platform (AMP) website, with podcasters able to submit their shows’ RSS-feed URLs, answer “a few easy questions” about their […]

Snap to launch its third-generation Spectacles this autumn

Snapchat parent company Snap launched its first set of ‘Spectacles’ in late 2016, with a second generation of the product debuting in April 2018. Now Snap has shown off version three, which will go on sale this autumn. The big news is that the specs now have two HD cameras, capable of shooting snaps in 3D […]

Spotify brings its podcast analytics out of beta

In early October 2018, Spotify launched a version of its analytics for podcasters, offering data on their listeners, ‘starts’ and streams – in beta. Now the tool is coming out of beta, and is thus available to anyone distributing their podcast through Spotify. More than 100k podcasts are already accessing the data through its beta, Spotify […]

SoundCloud launches new video series for artists and creators

SoundCloud is the latest music-streaming service using videos to teach artists how to use its platform. The company has launched a nine-part video series called SC101, which will also spawn some live events. It’s describing the series as “an easy, frictionless entry point into SoundCloud’s creator education ecosystem, the SoundCloud Creator Guide, through more accessible video and live […]

IFPI responds to Plácido Domingo sexual-harassment allegations

Opera star and IFPI chairman Plácido Domingo has been accused of sexual harassment by nine women, with dozens of others telling Associated Press that they witnessed such behaviour from him. Its report was published yesterday, with immediate results: the Philadelphia Orchestra has cancelled an invitation to Domingo to perform, while the LA Opera is launching an investigation. As […]

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 […]

Tencent Music now has 31m paying online-music users

Tencent Music published its latest financial results yesterday, and they revealed sluggish growth for active users of the company’s three online-music services in China, but a much more-sprightly rise in the number of paid subscribers for those services. The company ended Q2 with 652 million mobile monthly active users across QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music, […]

Reports claim Verizon is selling Tumblr for ‘well below $10m’

In May 2013, tech firm Yahoo agreed to buy blogging platform Tumblr for $1.1bn, with the former company’s then-CEO Marissa Meyer promising “not to screw it up”. How did that go? Well, in 2017 Yahoo was bought by US telco Verizon, and now in 2019 Verizon is selling Tumblr again… for reportedly less than $10m. […]

BBC pulls its live-radio stations from TuneIn in the UK

British broadcaster the BBC is removing its live stations from radio-streaming service TuneIn. Well, on most of its platforms, anyway. “This change is driven primarily by the BBC’s efforts to standardise how listeners in the UK access BBC stations, which unfortunately, is something we are unable to accommodate at this time,” is how TuneIn explained the […]

Troy Carter adds more senior hires to team at Q&A

We’ve written several times this year about Troy Carter’s new firm Q&A, a hybrid company offering a blend of management, artist services and distribution to its roster of artists. Now the scale of Carter’s ambition is becoming clear. MBW reports that he has hired Clarissa Reformina (formerly of talent agencies CAA and Paradigm) as Q&A’s VP of […]

Swedish startup Corite launches fan-funding platform for artists

PledgeMusic may have collapsed, but there are other fan-funding startups emerging in its wake. The latest is from Sweden and is called Corite, and it’s one of the growing number of platforms that aim to get fans to invest in songs, and get a share of royalties back in return. “A record label ruled by fans,” […]

DiMA and RLMC warn DoJ off hasty removal of US consent decrees

Just the latest potential shakeup to the US system of music-licensing is the Department of Justice’s antitrust division’s review of the ‘consent decrees’ which govern collecting societies ASCAP and BMI. Now the body that represents streaming services, the Digital Media Association (DiMA) has teamed up with radio-industry body the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) to […]

Feed.fm talks music in fitness apps: ‘It’s about ROI’

Music is proving its value to fitness apps and other health-focused startups, according to Lauren Pufpaf, co-founder and COO of B2B music firm Feed·fm. Health and fitness is a key vertical for her company, which handles licensing and playlist curation through to the APIs / SDKs and analytics required to offer music within such apps. ClassPass, […]

Podcasting app Himalaya spins off HiStudios production firm

Himalaya is one of the independent podcast apps battling to sign up listeners, and like rival Luminary it launched earlier this year with a very-big funding number: $100m of backing, with its lead investor being Chinese podcasts giant Ximalaya. Now the company is ramping up its original production, spinning out an entity called HiStudios that will focus […]

Music Business Association appoints Dr Portia Sabin as new boss

US music-industry trade body the Music Business Association (or Music Biz, as it is often known) will have a new leader from early next month. Dr Portia Sabin will be the organisation’s president from 3 September, taking over from current president James Donio, who will remain in an advisory role after she takes over. Dr Sabin […]

African streaming service Playfre wants to raise $500k-$1m

Nigerian music-streaming service Playfre launched earlier this year, although rather than licensing music directly, it was more of a curatorial/social layer on top of YouTube, from which its music is sourced. CEO Chika Nwaogu has been talking to VentureBurn about the startup’s plans, which include the goal of raising between $500k and $1m of funding. “It will be mainly […]

YouTube and Amazon push for US students’ music subscriptions

The summer holidays are just a couple of weeks in here in the UK where Music Ally is written from, so seeing ‘back to school’ headlines from the US already is a strange experience. Part of that, though, is the upcoming start of another academic year for older students, and music-streaming services are joining the […]

Deezer expands its podcasts pipeline with Blubrry / Libsyn deals

Spotify may suck up much of the media attention around music streaming’s intersection with podcasts, but the company’s rivals are all making their own moves too. Witness two deals announced last week that involve Deezer, which will significantly beef up that service’s catalogue of spoken-word shows. The first is with Libsyn, a company that distributes […]

Apple Music brings its artist analytics out of beta

We’ve heard regular praise for Apple Music’s analytics tools since they launched in 2018 as a beta version. Now the dashboard is coming out of beta and is open to all artists. Also new: there’s an iPhone app for the service alongside its website, matching the strategy adopted by Spotify for its own analytics. That rivalry […]

Earbuds is a startup for sharing celebrities’ music playlists

Once upon a time, there were some interesting startups whose business was based mainly on curated playlists. One of them, Tunigo, was bought by Spotify, and was an important driver for that company’s move into playlisting. Another of them, Songza, was bought by Google, and had an impact within that company’s music services too. But […]

LiveXLive revenues grew in Q2 but its losses widened slightly

US digital music company LiveXLive has published its latest financial results, which show that its revenues grew by 25.1% year-on-year to $9.5m in the second quarter of 2019. However, the company’s net losses also widened slightly, from $10.8m a year ago to just under $11m last quarter. LiveXLive’s cost of sales, at $9m, accounts for nearly […]

9128 is a streaming service focused on ambient/electronic music

One of the interesting industry questions in 2019 concerns the outlook for niche music-streaming services: for example those focused on specific categories like classical, jazz or metal, which are often seen as being under-served by the big global streaming services. Now add ambient/electronic music to the list. There’s a new service called 9128, which is the […]

Sonos revenues grew by 25% last quarter as losses narrowed

Sonos is feeling chipper about its latest financial results: the speaker-maker’s revenues grew by 25% year-on-year to $260m in the second quarter of 2019, including a 61% bump for sales (in dollar terms) of its Sonos One speaker. Sonos sold just under 1.1m products in the last quarter (its fiscal Q3) across its wireless speakers, home […]

M2V: music video finds its new future

Debate surrounds what the first music video actually was, but by the 1970s these “pop promos” had become the playthings of the biggest acts in the world while by the 1980s, after the arrival of MTV, they were the biggest weapons in the promotional arms race for everyone. All the arrival of YouTube in 2005 […]

While She Sleeps launch t-shirt based on Spotify royalties

British rock band While She Sleeps aren’t just a dab hand at this metalcore business: they also have a new sideline as open-source merchandise activists. The band have created a new t-shirt design displaying this message: “One t-shirt is the equivalent to 5000 streams on Spotify. 76% of all music in 2019 is streamed and […]

MelodyVR signs licensing deals with Beggars Group and Domino

Virtual-reality music startup MelodyVR has added another two labels to its roster of licensing partners: independents Beggars Group and Domino. The deals were announced this morning by MelodyVR’s parent company EVR Holdings, which is a public company in the UK. MelodyVR has also renewed its licensing deal with Aresa, a company representing catalogues from music companies including […]

Indian singer Guru Randhawa teams up with Pitbull… in Spanish

One of the trends Music Ally is keeping an eye on in the streaming era is collaborations that don’t involve Anglo-American artists. Latin America (or at least Spanish-language music, if made in the US) could be the hub for this: think K-Pop or African artists collaborating with Latin stars. Or, indeed, Indian artists. Punjabi singer […]

Executive moves: Adam Block and Per Sundin take new roles

The revolving door between major labels and streaming services continues to spin – and it IS a revolving door: UMG’s recent hiring of Spotify’s Mike Biggane as its EVP of music strategies and tactics shows the flow isn’t one-way. Amazon Music announced yesterday that Adam Block is its new global head of music catalogue. It’s […]

The ‘unintended consequences’ of user-centric streaming payouts

Here’s the thing about the ‘user-centric’ model of music-streaming payouts: it’s nowhere near as simple as a lot of people think it is, on several levels. The idea of each streaming subscriber’s monthly payment (well, the portion of it that is paid out in royalties) being divided only between the artists they have listened to […]

SM Entertainment and Capitol to launch ‘the Avengers of K-Pop’

Well, it’s actually SM Entertainment, Capitol Records AND Caroline who are working together on a new K-Pop supergroup. It’s called SuperM, and will feature members drawn from existing Korean bands SHINee, EXO and NCT 127, as well as Chinese band WayV. And, following the recent Stateside success of BTS and Blackpink, SuperM is very much aimed […]

Gismart tackles drums and DJing in latest ‘music edutainment’ apps

Gismart is one of the companies exploring the potential of music-creation apps, claiming more than 400m downloads so far for apps like Beat Maker Go, Hello Piano and Guitar Play. Its latest two apps launched this week. Go Drums promises to teach people the rudiments of drumming through a collection of mini-games and educational lessons, while DJ […]

Deezer adds more Spanish ‘Deezer Originals’ to its Latin channel

Spotify and YouTube have both staked their claims to be driving the boom in global listening to Latin American music, but other music-streaming services are making plenty of efforts to promote Latin artists too. Deezer’s latest move is the launch of a ‘Deezer Originals’ channel in Spanish, offering exclusive content and artist commentaries. For example, […]

Ticketing service TickPick raises $40m funding round

TickPick started life in 2011 as a secondary ticketing website, but has since expanded into primary ticketing too, working directly with festivals, sporting bodies and other entertainment events in the US. Now the company has raised its first ever round of institutional funding, and it’s a biggish one: $40m from investment firm PWP Growth Equity. […]

WMG boss: streaming isn’t the only reason for industry growth

Warner Music Group published its latest quarterly financials yesterday, with its revenues up 10.4% year-on-year to $1.06bn, including 12.5% growth in its digital revenue to $648m – 61.2% of the total. Within that, WMG’s recorded-music revenue grew by 13.8% to $913m, but its publishing revenue actually fell by 7.5% to $147m – “lower market share and loss […]

Bandzoogle launches fan-subscriptions feature for artists

Artists using the Bandzoogle platform to create their own websites can now offer premium subscriptions to their fans. The new feature launched this week, and enables artists to put content including blog posts, music, videos, photos and merchandise behind their new paywall, with tools to email subscribers included. Bandzoogle also says it will provide analytics on each […]

BBC’s Instagramification is a ‘personalised, data-driven documentary’

Unfortunately only people within the UK can watch Instagramification, a new pilot documentary by British public-service broadcaster the BBC about “the good, the bad and the ugly of the world’s fastest growing social network” (yep, Instagram). But even if you can’t watch it, the concept is interesting: the Beeb is pitching this as a ‘personalised, data-driven […]

Sony CSL is using AI to generate kick-drum tracks

Sony’s Computer Science Laboratories (Sony CSL) in Paris was responsible for one of the first high-profile projects in the modern wave of AI-generated music – Flow Machines, which in 2016 was responsible for the Beatles-esque ‘Daddy’s Car’ and the Great American Songbook-influenced ‘Mr Shadow’. The following year, Spotify hired the leader of the Flow Machines team, François […]

Slipknot’s Corey Taylor criticises music-streaming payouts

Slipknot are back with a new album, a big tour and some nifty Facebook camera effects (as we reported yesterday). But the band’s Corey Taylor has also been having his say on the topic of music-streaming royalties, in a series of tweets. He was responding to a tweet from fellow musician Nils Lofgren criticising Spotify over […]

Spotify’s latest telco-bundle partnership is with AT&T

Spotify has announced its latest partnership with a telco, and it’s a big one: AT&T in the US. Subscribers to the network’s ‘AT&T Unlimited & More Premium’ contract can choose to include Spotify Premium in their bundle for no extra cost. Spotify is one of seven ‘premium entertainment’ options in the bundle alongside Pandora, HBO, […]

Spotify filing reveals it paid €49m for podcasting firm Parcast

Music Ally reported on Spotify’s latest financial results last week, but the official filing has revealed a bit more information on the company’s recent acquisition of podcasts producer Parcast. Spotify paid €36m in cash and €13m ‘related to the estimated fair value of contingent consideration’ – €49m (around $55m) in total. However, Spotify also said that “the […]

Primephonic-commissioned study explores streaming attitudes

Classical music-streaming service Primephonic has commissioned a survey of nearly 1,300 American adults to find out what they think about streaming. No surprises for guessing that some of the results back up the company’s own business model: for example, 9% of respondents “would pay for a streaming service specifically dedicated to their favourite genre, suggesting […]

Popular-with-kids game Roblox now has 100m players

Readers with children of a certain age will know all about Roblox: it’s a giant online sandbox where kids can play games and hang out together, but also create their own games if they want to. Along with Fortnite, it’s been attracting millions of children away from their former gaming haunt Minecraft. The company behind […]

Slipknot fans can wear the band’s masks (virtually on Facebook)

Given the sweat Slipknot must work up during a performance, you wouldn’t catch us putting our nose anywhere near one of the band’s famous masks. Virtually, however… The latter is what fans can do now, courtesy of a set of Facebook Camera effects. There are 10 masks to try: nine based on the latest ones […]

New podcasts on the way for Gregory Porter and Dolly Parton

In Spotify’s earnings call with analysts last week, CEO Daniel Ek said that listening to music-focused podcasts has been growing fast on the platform: “If you look historically at podcasting that’s not been a big category, but it’s becoming a bigger one,” he said. It’s no surprise, then, to see the steady flow of new music-podcast announcements […]

Flagship country streaming playlists outdo radio for diversity

Does country radio in the US have a diversity problem? The debate has already been rumbling for a while, but a new research study puts some numbers to the lack of women on mainstream country radio – as reflected by Billboard’s official Country Airplay Chart between January 2018 and July 2019. “This study’s findings are not surprising: […]

Stats revealed for the TikTok campaign for UMG’s ‘Money Dance’

There’s a healthy debate about the extent to which labels can make a track ‘go viral’ on TikTok, versus simply piling in to capitalise on the effect when this happens organically. Agency The Influencer Marketing Factory has published an interesting case study that falls in to the former category, however. It was hired by Universal […]

Gaming star Ninja ditches Twitch for exclusive Mixer deal

By now, Music Ally readers should know Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins well: he’s the gaming star who broke Twitch viewing records when playing Fortnite with Drake and Marshmello, and who subsequently signed a deal with UMG to curate a compilation album. Yesterday, he had some big news for fans: he’s leaving Twitch, the platform he’s most associated […]

MediaNet catalogue now has more than 80m music tracks

Music-distribution platform MediaNet, which these days is owned by collecting society SOCAN (via its Dataclef services arm), has announced a new milestone. MediaNet now has more than 80m tracks in its catalogue from more than 400k labels and distributors. General manager Jeff Wallace described the figure as “a huge landmark for our company”, adding that […]

Spotify beefs up its advertising-targeting features

Spotify’s advertising revenues grew by 34% to €165m in the second quarter of this year, and while that’s less than 10% of the company’s overall turnover, ads and the free tier ‘funnel’ continue to be of high strategic importance for Spotify. Hence its continued investment in new features, including the launch yesterday of ‘Interest Targeting […]

UnitedMasters CEO: ‘Artists have been getting robbed…’

As a company trying to persuade emerging artists that they don’t need a label, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see UnitedMasters’ execs taking potshots at the traditional label system. The latest, from CEO Steve Stoute, focuses on the issue of artists owning their masters. “I know we’re doing something right. I know we’re […]

Sony Music makes India non-film music push with Big Bang Music JV

One of the most interesting things about music-streaming’s impact in India is whether it will fuel an even-bigger surge in the popularity of non-film music – with tracks from movies having dominated India’s music scene to this point. Sony Music has been exploring the potential for non-film music already, but now it’s making a new […]

Apple Music’s A-List rebranding continues with ALT CTRL

Apple Music appears to be moving through its flagship ‘A-List’ genre playlists one by one, rebranding them Spotify-style with their own identities. The company recently revamped its ‘The A-List: Hip Hop’ playlist as ‘Rap Life’, and now it’s the turn of its indie-focused sister playlist ‘The A-List: Alternative’. It’s now called ‘ALT CTRL’, according to Billboard, […]

Aussie fans can create videos with Ed Sheeran’s official app

The launch of a smartphone app for fans to create and share their own videos with Ed Sheeran’s music (legally!) forming the soundtrack should be big news. But it seems that the Ed No. 6 app is only available in Australia for now. It’s been launched by Warner Music Australia for Android and iOS smartphones, with […]

Podcasts set to overtake music-downloads listening in UK

It won’t be long before more Brits are listening to podcasts than are listening to music downloads, judging by the latest figures published by UK radio-industry body Rajar. Its latest survey suggests that 16% of Brits aged 15+ now listen to podcasts, compared to 18% who listen to digital music tracks. The tipping point has already been […]

UK Music wants government to step in over PledgeMusic collapse

Yesterday saw PledgeMusic’s winding-up hearing in London, which had only been reported on (and thus made known to artists owed money by the stricken crowdfunding company) the day before. No surprise, then, that industry body UK Music is unhappy with the turn of events. Its deputy CEO Tom Kiehl wants the British government to step […]

Podcasting app Castbox adds live-streaming feature with tips

Castbox is one of the independent podcasting apps that people can use to find, follow and listen to shows on their smartphones and smart speakers. Now it’s launching an interesting new feature for podcasters: the ability to stream live, and solicit donations from their listeners. The feature is called Livecast, and will help podcasters to […]

Amid TikTok dispute, Bytedance hired ICE’s head of rights & repertoire

TikTok has referred licensing hub ICE and its three founders – PRS for Music, GEMA and STIM – to the UK’s Copyright Tribunal, in a dispute over licensing terms. The social app will have some expert help in its corner, it turns out. “Exciting times ahead in a truly inspiring company! Thank you TikTok / […]

Badshah far from the only artist buying YouTube views with ads

There is still no official word from YouTube on whether Indian artist Badshah has set a new record for first-day views of a music video, beating BTS’ previous milestone. If YouTube is hoping its silence will make the controversy around Sony Music’s claims of 75m 24-hour views for Badshah’s video ‘Paagal’ go away, however, it […]

Sony/ATV promises ‘major’ upgrades to royalty-processing system

Faster payments and more-transparent reporting has been the clarion call for a number of companies hoping to disrupt the world of publishing. The implicit (and sometimes explicit) criticism contained within their promises is that traditional music publishers are slow to pay and somewhat opaque in some aspects of royalty reporting. However, the picture isn’t as […]

Notes of interest from Spotify’s Q2 2019 earnings call

It’s no secret: Spotify’s earnings calls aren’t meant to be interesting. They’re an exercise in repeating key corporate messages; parrying tricky questions; and striving not to say anything that will spook the Wall Street or music-industry horses. CEO Daniel Ek isn’t the kind of executive who lurches off-piste with controversial, off-the-cuff opinions, and CFO Barry […]

Spotify’s Q2 2019: 108m subscribers, €1.67bn revenues, and a €76m net loss

Spotify has published its financial results for the second quarter of 2019, revealing that the streaming service added 15 million new listeners including eight million paid subscribers during Q2. Spotify ended June 2019 with 232 million listeners, up 29% year-on-year from the 180 million it had a year ago, and up 7% quarter-on-quarter from the […]

Anuel AA, Daddy Yankee, Karol G, Ozuna and J Balvin team up for ‘China’

Want a recipe to make a big splash with a music video on YouTube in 2019? Well, you could be BTS or Taylor Swift; you could buy a shedload of Google Ads; or you could round up a bunch of the biggest Latin American artists of the moment for a mega-collaboration. The latest example of Option […]

VRJam launches crowdfunding campaign for its AR/VR music tech

Music Ally wrote about startup VRJam in April, when it was trying to raise $500k of seed funding for a technology offering live ‘XR’ streams of music performances in virtual AND augmented reality. Now the company has officially launched its equity-crowdfunding campaign. Now the target is £250k (around $304k) which the company plans to use “to […]

Love Island was a big hit for music with more than 1m Shazams

A big chunk of the UK’s telly viewers have been engrossed by the daily ins and outs (literally) of ITV show Love Island. Apple’s Shazam has put out some stats this morning showing the impact on music discovery. Songs featured in Love Island’s latest series, which ended this week, have generated more than 1m tags […]

TrackDrip launches its music-streaming service in Suriname

With a population of fewer than 600,000 people, Suriname might not be a priority for the big music-streaming services, but that leaves an opportunity for local competitors. TrackDrip being a brand new example. It’s an on-demand music-streaming service that launched in Suriname (which is off the coast of South America, if you were about to Google it) […]

Mixcloud launches ‘Premium’ subscription and limits free listening

Audio-streaming platform Mixcloud is introducing a new service-wide ‘Premium’ subscription, which will cost $7.99 a month and enable listeners to “access all public shows across the platform without limits”. Wait, what limits? Ah, that’s the other part of the company’s announcement this morning… Mixcloud grew as a platform for DJ mixes, podcasts and other radio-style […]

Boomy talks AI music: ‘We want to make music that’s meaningful’

“Our goal was never to make music that was good! Maybe someday we will, and people will say it’s good. But our goal is to make music that’s meaningful. That’s a different kind of thing…” Alex Mitchell is the CEO of Boomy, one of the youngest startups exploring the idea of… well, I would say […]

The next TikTok? 10 more short-video apps taking China by storm

TikTok is currently one of the most popular social apps globally, and it’s making plenty of waves in the music industry, from playing an early role in making ‘Old Town Road’ a hit and becoming an exciting platform for music marketing campaigns, to sparking copyright arguments with collecting societies and speculation about its licensing talks […]

Ed Sheeran #BeautifulPeople TikTok challenge races to 335m views

Ed Sheeran is big for streams, sales, socials, concert audiences… and now he’s big on TikTok too. To be specific, Sheeran has launched a challenge on that social app for his latest track, the Khalid-featuring ‘Beautiful People’. Fans are being invited to upload videos celebrating the beautiful people in their lives, using the hashtag #BeautifulPeople […]

Google Ads product lead founds FAAM·ai to spark AI creativity

FAAM·ai is so new, it doesn’t have a website up and running yet: just a profile on investment site AngelList. That got Music Ally’s attention though. “FAAM·ai partners with the brightest artists who turn disruptive artificial intelligence into world-changing film, architecture, art and music,” explains its product description. “The firm helps pioneering artists and invests in […]

Can startup Endlesss become the TikTok of music-making?

“I wonder whether we’re experiencing the death of content. Or rather, the fall of content and the rise of relationships. The value of content as a leanback experience that’s measured in ‘attention’ diminishes, and what increases is the measure of response: replies, interaction, engagement…” Don’t worry: Tim Exile, the CEO of British music-making-app startup Endlesss, […]

JioSaavn’s owner is now the largest telco in India

Indian telco Reliance Jio appears to have overtaken rival Vodafone Idea to become the biggest mobile operator in India, with 331.3 million subscribers. TheNextWeb reports that this compares to 320 million people using Vodafone Idea, and the most recent figure of 320.6 million for the other big telco in India, Airtel. What’s the Music Ally relevance for […]

Twitter revenues and daily users are both up year-on-year

It’s clearly the month for better-than-expected financial results for social apps previously thought to be on the slide. First we had Snapchat’s impressive figures for the second quarter of 2019, revealing that it now has 203 million daily active users. Now it’s Twitter revealing that its ‘monetisable daily active users’ (mDAUs) grew by 14% year-on-year to 139 million […]

Feist is the latest artist to launch her own podcast

Canadian artist Leslie Feist (or rather: Feist) is the latest musician to launch her own podcast. It’s called ‘Feist’s Pleasure Studies’, and is a partnership with media company Talkhouse and women’s podcast network Earios. The show is described as a “spiritual companion” to Feist’s 2017 album ‘Pleasure’. Here’s the pitch: “Indie icon, Feist, knows a […]

Magic Leap adds background-music feature to spark new apps

Augmented-reality startup Magic Leap started shipping its Magic Leap One Creator Edition AR headset in August 2018, and music has been part of it from the start, thanks to the Tónandi music-manipulation app that the company developed with Sigur Rós. Now Magic Leap is keen for other kinds of music experiences to be available for its […]

Report: All Def Digital has filed for insolvency in the US

A recent report that digital-studio All Def Digital was shutting down was denied by the company, which said it was “reorganising in advance of a strategic deal”. Now there’s some more news on the company originally founded as a multi-channel network by music-industry veteran Russell Simmons. It’s not good news, mind: Billboard reports that All Def Digital […]

Streaming fuels interest in jazz from younger UK music fans

This will come as little surprise if you’ve watched a jazz artist at a recent festival in the UK and taken a look at the audience around you, but young listeners are flocking to the genre. The Guardian has an article on the trend, with some figures from music-streaming services as backup. “Spotify told the Guardian […]

Beggars Group financials show profits were up 51.5% in 2018

The financial results of the major labels get plenty of media coverage, but are independent labels enjoying similar growth in the streaming era? The latest figures from one of the largest independents, Beggars Group, offer some useful data. Filed in the UK, the figures are for the calendar year 2018. Key stats: Beggars Group’s total revenues […]

Above & Beyond release album through meditation app Calm

Calm is becoming quite the place for artists to release their music. The meditation app got an exclusive on Moby’s new album ‘Long Ambients 2’ in March this year, then earlier this month Sigur Rós launched a ‘Liminal Sleep’ playlist within the Calm app, also as an exclusive. Three makes a trend: electronic trio Above & Beyond are […]

Drake inks a ‘creative partnership’ with SiriusXM and Pandora

Drake famously took to the stage at the launch of Apple Music in 2015 to give his endorsement of the company’s new streaming service. But you don’t get to be one of the biggest stars in the streaming era without sharing the love around: yesterday US satellite-radio service SiriuxXM announced a wide-ranging “creative partnership” with Drake, which […]

Nearly a third of US households *don’t* have broadband internet

Research firm NPD has published its latest ‘Rural America and Technology’ study, which has a surprising finding: 31% of US households still don’t have a broadband internet connection. “The number works out to roughly 100 million,” reported TechCrunch (we think that’s people, not households), adding that in rural areas, less than one fifth of the population has […]

Study explores patterns of ‘high-subscriber’ YouTube channels

If you’re thinking about YouTube and music, you should definitely read the latest report by research company the Pew Research Center, which came out yesterday. Titled ‘A Week in the Life of Popular YouTube Channels’, it’s based on an analysis of the videos posted by channels with more than 250,000 subscribers in the first week of […]

How Charly Bliss built a rolling video channel for new album

Our Behind The Campaign feature in the latest issue of Music Ally’s Sandbox report covers the campaign for Brooklyn-based indie rock band Charly Bliss’s new album, Young Enough, which came out in May. The central component of the campaign was the launch of CBTV, a round-the-clock MTV-style “station” that created multiple pieces of content that […]

Streaming still paying off for UMG with 18.6% revenue growth

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: streaming is paying off rather well for the world’s largest music company. Universal Music’s revenues grew by 18.6% year-on-year for the first half of 2019, according to yesterday’s financial results from its parent company Vivendi. The company’s revenues were €3.26bn (around $3.68bn), with UMG’s recorded-music revenues growing […]

BandLab launches ‘Tracklanta’ global hip-hop contest

BandLab is one of the best-known online music-making platforms: it has more than eight million people using it. Now the company is launching a contest for budding hip-hop musicians called ‘Tracklanta’, inviting them to submit their work in the hope of winning studio time with five top-tier producers: Bryan-Michael Cox, Drumma Boy, Young Chop, Tasha […]

Amazon invites brands to test audio ads in free music service

Amazon launched its ad-supported music-streaming tier in April, initially in the US, but details of its plans for that advertising haven’t been talked about much. Now Advertising Age has bagged a copy of Amazon’s pitch deck to brands, and says that the likes of Colgate, L’Oréal and Lululemon are among those invited to test ‘audio ads’ […]

Analysts frustrated at lack of hard numbers on YouTube

How much money does YouTube make? The New York Times offers a carefully-vague suggestion in its latest article about Alphabet’s video service: “YouTube probably generates $16 billion to $25 billion in annual revenue, making the video service big enough to crack the top half of the Fortune 500.” The ‘probably’ actually illustrates the main thrust of the […]

Facebook reveals latest financials… and an FTC antitrust probe

“We had a strong quarter and our business and community continue to grow,” was the lead statement from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last night, as his company revealed its latest impressive financial results. Revenues were up 28% year-on-year to $16.62bn in the second quarter of 2019, with the social network reporting a $2.62bn profit for the […]

Spotify India marketing tweet sparks online game of Antakshari

If you’re not Indian, there’s a strong chance you haven’t played Antakshari. It’s a game played at parties where someone sings the first verse of a song. Whatever the last syllable is, the next person has to sing the first verse of another song beginning with that syllable. And so on. Anyway, the reason we’re […]

After brief social-media deactivation, The 1975 return with new track

“The 1975 are being their cryptic selves and have deactivated all of their social media accounts as of Wednesday,” reported Billboard yesterday. Yet as of Thursday morning when Music Ally is writing this bulletin, the band’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook profiles are all up and running again. If you’re thinking this is part of a campaign for some new music from […]

YouTube and Mr Eazi team up to help emerging Nigerian artists

YouTube is already the most significant digital platform for Afrobeats artists looking to build their global audiences. Now the service has teamed up with Nigerian artist Mr Eazi and his emPawa Africa incubator to provide direct support for 10 emerging artists from Nigeria. The scheme will see those artists supported in recording music, making videos and getting […]

Boomy will help people upload AI-made music to streaming services

Boomy is one of the startups exploring AI-generated music, and launched in beta earlier this year. Now it’s emerging from that beta period, with test users having already created more than 100k songs using its technology. The general public is now being invited to sign in at Boomy’s website and start creating songs. “Our data shows […]

PledgeMusic and Dot Blockchain founder reveals NewsHero venture

Benji Rogers was co-founder of crowdfunding website PledgeMusic, although he left (to set up startup Dot Blockchain) before things went downhill with the company’s finances. After returning in an advisory capacity earlier this year to try to help PledgeMusic out of its hole, Rogers has now unveiled his own new venture – NewsHero – and […]

Fortnite players can stream its World Cup… from within the game

Here in the UK, the school summer holidays have started just in time for the first ever Fortnite World Cup – a big bet on esports by the game’s publisher Epic Games. And here’s some even better news for all those demob-happy children: they’ll be able to watch the Fortnite World Cup from within Fortnite […]

Pandora rolls its voice assistant out to all mobile users

Pandora unveiled its own Alexa-style voice assistant in January this year, working with tech partner SoundHound to launch a ‘Hey Pandora’ voice-control feature in its mobile app. Six months later, the feature is now rolling out to all of Pandora’s mobile users on iOS and Android, whether they’re on the free or subscription tiers of the service. The feature […]

Snap financials reveal Snapchat now has 203m daily active users

Snapchat’s parent company Snap, Inc published its latest quarterly financial results last night, and they contained plenty of figures to silence (if temporarily) the company’s doubters. What’s that? Because it made a healthy profit? Erm, no. Snap reported a net loss of $255.2m for the second quarter of 2019, although that was an improvement on the […]

Apple Music produces exclusive video for artist Peggy Gou

The latest musician getting some love – and indeed, some video budget – from Apple Music is Berlin-based artist and DJ Peggy Gou. Her latest music video, for her track ‘Starry Night’, was “produced in partnership with Apple Music” and is currently exclusive to the service. Its release will be accompanied by Gou’s second interview on […]

Spotify’s next chief economist will be based in New York

Last week, it was reported that Spotify’s chief economist Will Page is leaving the company this summer. “A contributing factor in Page’s exit from Spotify is that he has been offered a book deal. He will be writing a consumer-facing title which explains and examines disruption in various industries,” reported MBW. Page joined Spotify from collecting […]

Mubert pitches AI generative music for B2B background usage

Music Ally first wrote about Mubert in February: it was one of the latest clutch of startups working on technology to create generative/adaptive music using AI. It already has a consumer app that people can use to generate a stream of AI music, which over time promises to get tuned to their preferences. Mubert is also exploring another line of business, […]

Concert-sound startup Mixhalo raises $10.7m funding round

Mixhalo is one of the music/tech startups that was actually founded by professional musicians: violinist Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger and Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger. The startup claims to be “democratising audio at live events” by streaming top-notch audio to people’s smartphones. “Build onstage VIP seating or offer an audio upgrade in the nosebleeds,” as its pitch puts […]

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 […]

Collywobbles for British music bodies as Boris Johnson named PM

Later today, the UK will get a new Prime Minister: Conservative politician Boris Johnson, whose past roles include Mayor of London and Foreign Secretary. Johnson was also one of the leaders of the ‘Leave’ campaign in the UK’s referendum over whether to ‘Brexit’ from the European Union. The buck will now stop with him as […]

TikTok issues statement on its UK Copyright Tribunal music-licensing referral

Yesterday, Music Ally broke the news that social app TikTok has referred three collecting societies – PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA – and their joint-venture licensing hub ICE to the UK’s Copyright Tribunal, in a dispute over music-licensing terms. ICE issued a statement yesterday on the case, but this morning TikTok has also sent […]

Kid Cudi to get ‘Entergalactic’ animated Netflix series

In June this year, Netflix got the exclusive on a short film called ‘Anima’, a collaboration between director Paul Thomas Anderson and musician Thom Yorke, released alongside the latter’s new album of the same name. Now there’s another musical project to report on from the video-streaming service: ‘Entergalactic’. This time, the collaboration is between musician […]

Queen launch UGC contest as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ reaches 1bn views

Fuelled by the recent biopic, Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ has become the first pre-1990s video to pass 1bn views on YouTube. The achievement has been marked by a new, remastered ‘HD’ version of the video on Queen’s YouTube channel, complete with the lyrics in English, Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese, Polish, German, Indonesian Bahasa, Korean, Czech, Russian and Turkish […]

BeatDapp and Renaissance part of 500 Startups’ latest batch

500 Startups is one of the most famous startup accelerators, based in San Francisco and now into its 25th program. This time round, there are two music/tech startups in the mix: BeatDapp and Renaissance. BeatDapp is one of the new clutch of startups (see also: Midemlab-winner Legitary) trying to help labels keep better track of their streaming […]

TikTok takes on collecting societies at UK Copyright Tribunal

Social app TikTok is set for a battle with three European collecting societies and their joint venture, via the medium of the UK’s Copyright Tribunal. That’s the body that resolves copyright-related commercial-licensing disputes in the UK. Copyright Tribunal Ref 132/19 will be of intense interest to the music industry, then. “Notice is hereby given of a reference […]

AI-music startup Jukedeck’s CEO now runs the AI Lab of TikTok owner Bytedance

Ed Newton-Rex was the founder and CEO of Jukedeck, one of the first startups to develop a product for AI-generated music. We say ‘was’ because since April 2019, he has been working for TikTok’s parent company Bytedance as director of its AI Lab, according to his recently-updated LinkedIn profile. That would explain recent rumours that […]

Report pitches ‘voice’ as the next big interface shift

If you’re looking for some new reading material around smart speakers and voice interfaces, try investment firm Mangrove Capital Partners’ new report ‘Voice: Welcoming the Next Generation of Disruptors’. “Importantly, this shift will go far beyond checking the weather forecast, requesting music or setting a timer,” is how the report summarises the impact of voice […]

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 […]

Startup Popgun shows how it’s taught an AI to sing

Australian AI-music startup Popgun has made a habit of showing its progress by publishing YouTube videos showing how its AI has learned to compose and play music. And now to sing it too. “For the past year we have been teaching an AI to sing. Using text and midi as input, we generate vocal tracks […]

Motown boss praises streaming (in interview for Spotify blog)

Adding that qualifier to the headline isn’t meant to be snarky: it’s just that Motown Records head Ethiopia Habtemariam was hardly likely to open up about any headaches she sees with streaming in an interview with Spotify’s own blog. Still, the interview – to mark the 60th anniversary this year of Motown – is worth a […]

Apple rebrands its flagship hip-hop playlist as Rap Life

However deliberate it was when they were originally created, Spotify’s playlists have got one thing very right in the current streaming age: RapCaviar, Viva Latino and others have become strong brands in their own right. Apple Music has been doing interesting things with its playlists too – for example commissioning artists to create original, varied […]

FIMI boss urges Spotify to ‘do more’ to persuade Italians to subscribe

Something you won’t hear very much at a music-industry conference in 2019: people talking about piracy. Something you will hear a fair bit: people talking about how streaming has successfully seen off piracy as an existential worry for the industry. No wonder the ‘value gap’ has been a much more prominent debate among rightsholders and […]

UMG and WMG execs talk startups and innovation at Sonar+D

Behind the music industry’s fiercely competitive public face hides a wider spirit of digital collaboration, according to Tuhin Roy, the executive who leads Universal Music’s efforts to support early-stage digital music companies. Roy was speaking at the Sónar+D conference in Barcelona alongside Warner Music’s Tiago Teixeira Correia, on a panel that gave a rare glimpse into the […]

FTC mulls changes to child-privacy regulations in the US

YouTube and TikTok (among other digital services) will have been put on notice by an announcement this week by the US Federal Trade Commission about children’s privacy regulations. The COPPA rule was first implemented in the US in 2000, and concerns how websites and digital services handle personal information from children aged under 13. Now […]

YouTube Music adds feature to switch between audio and video

YouTube’s latest improvement to its YouTube Music app focuses on the boundary between audio and video. Since launch, people have been able to choose to listen to audio-only versions of songs in YouTube Music, or watch their music videos. What’s new this week is the ability to flick between those two modes while listening/watching. “No […]

Mexican music industry optimistic for more growth ahead

We’ve all heard of the smartphone as a driver of digital music consumption. Well how about music as a driver of smartphone adoption? That, according to Tomás Rodriguez, managing director of Warner Music Mexico, is what we are seeing in Mexico, as the country continues a hot digital streak that has seen recorded music revenue […]

Sónar+D debates AI and music: ‘We are almost at the alchemist level…’

The question of AI and machine creativity has been creeping into mainstream music industry thinking over the past few years, with the increasing use of AI to make music posing questions about copyright, originality and even playlist placing. The Sónar festival, which is taking place in Barcelona this week, is one of the first big […]

Music’n’meditation app Wave raises $5.7m for its launch

We’ve been writing about the monster funding rounds and music activities (e.g. an exclusive Moby album) for mindfulness startup Calm recently, while rival Headspace was one of the first companies to partner with Spotify on bundled subscriptions. Now there’s another player in the music+meditation sector: Wave. It has raised just under $5.7m in seed funding to […]

7digital’s CEO and CFO step down in new effort to cut costs

B2B digital-music firm 7digital is still trying to dig itself out of a financial hole, with the latest news being that its CEO and CFO are stepping down. John Aalbers and Julia Hubbard will be sticking around for a few months to assist their successors though: current COO Paul Langworthy will be the new CEO, while […]

Spotify launches a dedicated Disney hub in certain countries

A whole new world! You’ve got a friend in me! Under the sea! Can you feel the love tonight?! LET IT GOOOOOOO….. Okay, having dealt with your earworms for the rest of the week, we’ll get to the actual news here: Spotify has launched a dedicated Disney hub on its service in certain countries. It’ll feature playlists […]

Badshah’s ‘record-breaking’ track missing from YouTube chart

We reported last week on Sony Music India’s claim that artist Badshah had broken YouTube’s 24-hour-views record, with 75m views of his ‘Paagal’ music video in its first 24 hours. Music Ally contacted YouTube at the time to get verification, and is still waiting for an official response. One thing’s for sure though: the video […]

TV mogul Haim Saban launches new Latin label… with $500m budget

It’s a little unfair reducing Haim Saban to ‘TV mogul’ just for the purposes of a short headline: the 74 year-old’s career has also included stints as a musician, music promoter and soundtrack composer (true fact: he co-wrote the Inspector Gadget theme tune). However, it’s TV firm Saban Entertainment that made him a billionaire, with […]

800+ playlist-adds took Ed Sheeran to 69m listeners (and 46.5m first-day streams) on Spotify

Spotify is putting out some stats around the latest Ed Sheeran album. According to its announcement this morning, Sheeran has set a new record for monthly listeners on Spotify: he’s on 69.1 million at the time of writing, with the 70 million milestone in his sights. That means nearly 32% of Spotify’s active users (based […]

Drake and Scooter Braun’s esports startup raises $35m

There’s plenty of money swishing around the esports market, with investors and celebrities alike keen to get involved in professional gaming. Drake and Scooter Braun are among them: both are co-owners of esports company 100 Thieves, which operates teams in various pro leagues; has a thriving line of merchandise; and runs channels on Twitch for […]

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”. […]

Warner Classics launches new website with streaming built in

Warner Music Group has a revamped website for its Warner Classics & Erato arm, which it hopes will capitalise on the potential of streaming for the classical-music audience. So much so, that Warner has built streaming directly in to the new website. Visitors will be able to stream 30-second clips from the Warner Classics & Erato […]

eMusic boss joins 7digital board and reiterates blockchain ambitions

As expected, B2B digital-music firm 7digital has appointed eMusic boss Tamir Koch to its board of directors, alongside entrepreneur David Lazarus. The move comes as the company tries to raise funding to stave off the threat of administration at the end of July. Koch will be the non-executive chair of 7digital’s board, and has reiterated his ambitions […]

Tech body predicts 33% growth for US music subscriptions in 2019

The US recorded-music market enjoyed healthy growth in 2018, with retail revenues up by 12% to $9.8bn, while on the industry-revenues side, music subscription income grew by 32% to $5.4bn. It was the third straight year of double-digit growth overall for the world’s biggest music market, as the US averaged 50.2m paid subscriptions for the year. […]

Chinese streaming service Xiami Music adds MQA hi-res audio

Chinese technology company Alibaba’s music-streaming service, Xiami Music, is hoping to steal a march on rivals by boosting its sound quality – via a partnership with hi-res audio firm MQA. Xiami will be using MQA’s technology for the ‘SVIP’ tier of its service, initially within its Android and iOS apps. It will also be giving all […]

Music-streaming service Roxi plans to go public later this year

In June, Music Ally reported on the ambitions of British music-streaming firm Roxi (formerly Electric Jukebox) to go public. Now the company has confirmed how it plans to do that. Roxi announced this morning that it has appointed advisers for an initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange in the final quarter of 2019. The […]

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 […]

Google AdWords promotion was key to Badshah YouTube success

On Friday, we reported on Indian artist Badshah’s success with his new music video ‘Paagal’, and Sony Music India’s claim that it had broken BTS’ YouTube 24-hour-debut record with 75m views in its first day on the platform. We’re still waiting for YouTube to officially confirm the record, but in India there has been criticism […]

SyncPower sees a bright future for synced lyrics and music recognition

SyncPower is the Japanese company whose business includes providing ‘synced lyrics’ content, as well as (through its status as status as the agent in Japan for ACRCloud) music-recognition technology. The first part of that business is growing well. “Currently, we have about 2.7m lyrics content, which we provide to 30 services which are run by […]

Report: Facebook to be fined $5bn in FTC privacy settlement

There is no shortage of snark around claims – originally published in the Wall Street Journal – that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved a $5bn settlement with Facebook over the social network’s “privacy missteps”. The snark concerns just how much of a punishment a $5bn fine represents for a company that in the first […]

Amazon planning ‘high-end Echo’? But it already has one…

There was a slightly puzzling report on Bloomberg last Friday claiming that Amazon “is developing a higher quality version of the Echo Speaker” that will be released by next year. “Prototypes of the cylindrical speaker are wider than the current Echo to squeeze in additional components including at least four tweeters,” reported Bloomberg. “Amazon has previously […]

Badshah breaks YouTube 24-hour views record… with a little help from Ad Words

YouTube has yet to confirm this officially, but Sony Music India claims that one of its artists has broken the platform’s 24-hour viewing record. The artist is Badshah, with new track ‘Paagal’ and a video that raced to 75m views in its first 24 hours on YouTube. In a press release, Sony hailed the video for “dethroning […]

UK music industry declares a ‘climate and ecological emergency’

What can the three major labels; Beggars Group, Domino, Warp and other indie labels; SJM Concerts and Festival Republic; and artists including Radiohead, Wolf Alice and Suede agree on? Well: that “governments and media institutions to tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency” of course. A group of music companies, industry bodies and […]

TikTok videos turned Absofacto’s ‘Dissolve’ into a chart hit

We’re all familiar with the tale of how TikTok helped ‘Old Town Road’ become a big hit in its initial version. Now there’s a new case study from the buzzy social app. Billboard has the story of how a 2015 track called ‘Dissolve’ by artist Absofacto (aka Jonathan Visger) blew up on TikTok early in 2019, […]

‘Old Town Road’ and ‘Bad Guy’ get new remix versions

Once upon a time, remixes were usually an easy way to provide B-sides for singles and/or cuts more suited for club DJs. In the post-Despacito era, they’re becoming a strong tactic to give already-big tracks a new lease of chart / streaming life. Justin Bieber was famously part of the ‘Despacito’ remix, and now he’s […]

ROCCR aims to restore crowdfunding’s reputation after PledgeMusic troubles

The well-documented troubles of crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic have left a number of artists out of pocket and waiting to find out if the company will be rescued by a buyer. One of those affected was British band Jesus Jones, who’d been using the platform for pre-orders for their latest album ‘Voyages’. Now one of the […]

Could Spotify make the next Dirty John-style podcast-to-TV hit?

‘Are you ready for Spotify: The Game Show?’ asked a report on MBW earlier this week. Insert your own jokes based on ‘Jeopardy’, ‘The Price Is Right’ and/or ‘Deal Or No Deal’ here, obviously. The story is based on a job ad for a ‘Reality Formats Lead’ at Spotify, working on reality podcast development for […]

Snapchat unveils new ‘Creator Shows’ format for celebrities

Snapchat is debuting a new short-form video show format, and is working with traditional celebrities and newer digital influencers alike. It’s called ‘Creator Shows’, which will be series of 8-10 episodes of 3-5 minutes in length each. Serena Williams, Kevin Hart and Arnold Schwarzenegger are among the traditional celebs on board already, with influencers like […]

YouTube may be blocking stream-ripping sites from ripping vids

Up to this point, much of the music industry’s action against ‘stream-ripping’ websites has been taken by industry bodies taking those sites to court and getting them shut down. Now it seems the main site from which streams are being ripped, YouTube, is joining the battle in earnest. “Several stream-ripping sites have been unable to […]

Internet Creators Guild shuts down, hits out at music labels

In 2016, online-video star Hank Green – who also co-founded the VidCon conference – launched the Internet Creators Guild (ICG). It was a body to advise and represent creators – the equivalent for influencers of what bodies like the Featured Artists Coalition do for musicians. Three years on, the ICG is shutting down, and some of its […]

East African streaming service Smubu has 200k active users

As the big global music-streaming services continue to mull their strategies for sub-Saharan Africa, local players are springing up to stake their claim to a piece of the nascent streaming market. The latest is Smubu, a music-streaming startup headquartered in Kenya, but focusing on a group of countries including Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. It has […]

Amuse-commissioned study explores independent-artist revenues

Midia Research’s latest report explores the burgeoning independent-artists sector, commissioned by one of the companies – Amuse – that’s trying to help those independent artists break through. Some of its findings build on past Midia research. For example: “Artists without record labels generated $643.1 million in 2018, up 35% from 2017. These independent artists represent […]

Key execs exit Bytedance’s China music-business team

There appear to be changes afoot in the music team at Chinese technology firm Bytedance, with reports in China that one of its key executives, Zhu Jie, has quietly left the company. She was responsible for the music activities of Bytedance’s Douyin and Volcanic Video properties, although not for TikTok globally. Music Ally understands that Song Yubin, […]

Report: Amazon had 32m music subscribers by April 2019

Amazon is famously cagey when it comes to releasing meaningful numbers for its music services, but a well-briefed report by the Financial Times this morning offers some new numbers. “The number of people subscribing to Amazon Music Unlimited has grown by about 70 per cent in the past year, according to people briefed on its performance,” it […]

Lickd says Ed Sheeran is most-longed-for licence for YouTubers

Ed Sheeran is big on YouTube: as Music Ally recently reported, his channel has just passed the milestone of 40 million subscribers, while it’s now also past the 17bn views mark. However, Sheeran is also the top artist cited by YouTubers when asked whose music they most want to license for use in their videos. […]

Spotify criticised for ‘Dance Like Nobody’s Paying’ advert

Spotify’s latest ad campaign, highlighting the 30-day free trial  of its premium tier, is generating some heat on Twitter. “Dance like nobody’s paying,” is the main slogan. Musician and artist-rights campaigner Blake Morgan was quick to voice his unhappiness with the concept. “Here’s @Spotify’s new tone-deaf ad campaign. Keep in mind that it takes 380,000 […]

The latest new music label is… Build-A-Bear Records?

We don’t get to report on stuffed-animal announcements very often in Music Ally’s bulletin, but today we bring you news that retailer Build-A-Bear Workshop is launching its own record label. Build-A-Bear Records is the result of a partnership with Warner Music Group’s Arts Music division and its Warner Chappell publishing arm. The plan is to […]

Report: Big Hit Entertainment may launch own streaming platform

Music Ally has been reporting recently on BTS World, the mobile game launched as a partnership between BTS’ management company Big Hit Entertainment and gaming firm Netmarble. Now a report claims the companies may be looking to do something even more ambitious together: “to launch a brand-new music-streaming platform”. That’s according to the Korea Herald, citing […]

Facebook to launch more money-making features for creators

Facebook has announced a range of new ways for ‘creators’ to make money from their activity on the social network. While aimed mainly at YouTubers and other social stars, some of them may well be useful for musicians too. They include the expansion of a feature called ‘stars’ from gaming streams, which are akin to […]

YouTube adds new requirement for manual Content ID claims

YouTube’s Content ID copyright-protection system has long been a target of criticism not from music rightsholders, but from ‘creators’ on the platform. Now YouTube is making a change that it hopes will tackle the issues raised by some of those critics. “We’ve heard from creators that the recent uptick of manual claims, especially for short […]

Instagram flags up its efforts to crack down on bullying

With 153 million followers, Selena Gomez is one of the most popular stars on Instagram – only Ariana Grande and Cristiano Ronaldo are ahead of her, plus Instagram’s own official account.  Yet in June 2019, Gomez revealed that she’d deleted the app from her own phone, because “it would make me feel not good about myself, and look […]

Contrary to report, All Def Digital says it’s not shutting down

What’s happening with All Def Digital, the digital studio founded by Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons? A report last week by online-video industry site Tubefilter claimed that the company was shutting down, yet its current president and CEO Chris Blackwell has now denied those claims. “We’re reorganising in advance of a strategic deal,” Blackwell told Billboard yesterday, although without […]

Spotify officially launches its ‘Lite’ app in 36 countries

‘Introducing Spotify Lite’ is the title of the streaming service’s latest announcement, although its new app won’t need much introduction to anyone who’s been following Spotify’s business in the last year. The company began testing its data-saving app in Brazil in July 2018; it launched in Malaysia in April 2019; and then in India in May, still described by […]

7digital financials shed more light on company’s position

B2B digital-music firm 7digital has published its financial results for 2018, although it’s events since the end of last year that have put the company in its current worrying position. So, 7digital’s group revenues grew by 19% in 2018 to £19.9m (around $24.8m) but its net losses grew from £4.8m to £11.9m. However, the financials also […]

Baidu says its DuerOS voice assistant now has 400m users

Chinese technology firm Baidu has announced a new milestone for its DuerOS voice assistant – the company’s equivalent of Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. DuerOS now has 400 million users, which suggests that its user-base has doubled since January this year, when DuerOS was being used on 200m devices. (We say ‘suggests’ because the milestone was reported as […]

LGBTQ brand Gay Times is the latest Apple Music curator

The latest guest curator on Apple Music is Gay Times, the European LGBTQ media brand. It’s making a series of exclusive playlists for the streaming service, while the companies are also collaborating on a joint advertising campaign in the UK featuring artists including Kim Petras, Girli, Vincint and Alma, which ties in with this month’s […]

Spotify’s ‘Are & Be’ R&B playlist hits 5m followers milestone

The R&B-focused ‘Are & Be’ has become the latest Spotify-owned playlist to reach a notable milestone: five million followers. Spotify is celebrating by taking over a six-floor building in New Orleans for the Essence Fest music festival, and designating it ‘The House of Are & Be’ as a “multi-storied tribute to Black women in R&B and podcasts […]

Line Music service set to launch in Taiwan this week

We’re used to referring to Line Music as a Japanese music-streaming service, but this week it’s set to expand to Taiwan, according to the Taiwan News. “According to Central News Agency, Line Music will provide a free, 30-day trial to first-time users,” it reported, noting that Hong Kong-born Mandopop singer Coco Lee will be the ‘brand […]

NMPA-backed consortium wins race to be the US’ new MLC

The keenly (and very publicly) fought race to oversee the US’ new Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) has been won by the consortium led by publishing bodies the NMPA, NSAI and SONA. The group prevailed over the rival American Mechanical Licensing Collective, with the pair competing to run the new body set up as part of […]

Students’ Apple Music web player has attracted nearly 200k users

Apple Music doesn’t (yet) have a web-player version of its service: for now it’s native apps for the various Apple devices, plus PCs and Android. Now four students from the University of Kent in the UK are trying to plug the gap with an open-source web player for Apple Music called Musish. “Since its release only […]

South African music-streaming app My Muze reaches 1m downloads

South African telco Vodacom’s My Muze music-streaming app has been downloaded more than 1m times since its launch in April this year. Those downloads have come on Android alone, although the service is available in a web-browser version for Apple devices, according to the Financial Mail. It also reported on how Vodacom has been pricing the […]

Because Music boss backs ‘user-centric’ music-streaming model

The latest industry figure to come out batting for the ‘user-centric’ model of streaming royalties is Emmanuel De Buretel, in an interview with French newspaper Les Échos, subsequently spotted by MBW. De Buretel warned that the current system of dividing up royalties risks “a drying up of income for many artists outside urban and electro music, and the […]

MelodyVR reveals content-licensing deal with Facebook

It’s a busy time for music-VR startup MelodyVR, with its smartphone app having just launched. Now it has announced an intriguing content-licensing deal… with Facebook. “The agreement will see MelodyVR’s content utilised by Facebook/Oculus for advertising purposes and licenses its exploitation across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and via the Oculus Website, for a period of 9 […]

UK regulator pursues Viagogo for contempt of court

Secondary ticketing firm Viagogo has been under fire in the UK for some time from politicians, regulators and anti-touting campaigners alike. The latest development sees the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announcing plans to move forward with legal proceedings for contempt of court against Viagogo, claiming that the company has failed to comply with a court […]

Amazon reveals details on how it keeps Alexa data

In an exchange with US senator Chris Coons, Amazon has been explaining more about how it stores data on people’s interactions with its Alexa voice assistant. Coons had written to the company asking how long it stores recordings and transcripts, and got an answer from Amazon’s VP of public policy Brian Huseman. And the answer? […]

Monstercat to hold weekly virtual-reality music events

Independent dance label Monstercat has been one of the more forward-thinking when it comes to gaming: witness its partnership with Psyonix, the developer of popular cars-play-football game Rocket League. Now Monstercat is trying a new partnership involving virtual reality, working with Linden Lab – the company that Music Ally readers of a certain age may remember […]

LyricFind gets government funding to spread Canadian lyrics

Lyrics firm LyricFind has found a new source of funding: money from the Department of Canadian Heritage Creative Export Canada program. It’ll be used in a two-year project to support “the licensing, transcription and translation of Canadian artists and songwriters’ lyrics”, as well as generating royalties for those lyrics across the world. And this isn’t […]

Report: TikTok was installed 344m times in first half of 2019

Thanks to Apple’s official response to Spotify’s complaint to the European Commission, we know that around 680,000 of the latter company’s subscribers are paying their monthly fees through the iOS in-app purchases system. But what about the wider apps economy? Analytics firm SensorTower has put out its latest figures on how that’s growing, and which apps are benefitting from […]

New YouTube milestones for Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes

Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes are no stranger to big digital numbers. Their latest achievements come from YouTube. Sheeran’s official artist channel has just reached 40 million subscribers, which YouTube says makes him only the second artist to hit that milestone. The first? Justin Bieber: he’s on 45.6 million YouTube subscribers. Eminem (38.1 million), Ariana Grande […]

Cyanite aims to use AI to analyse songs’ emotional qualities

German music/tech startup Groovecat has launched a new product called Cyanite, whose pitch is “making emotions within songs visible with artificial intelligence”. It’s a tool based partly on data from the company’s existing Music Moments app, with CEO Markus Schwarzer explaining that the aim is to “offer the music and advertising industry the possibility to find […]

Tidal adds ‘interactive credit pages’ for listeners to explore

The latest streaming service upping its efforts to credit more people who worked on recorded music is Tidal. It has launched a new feature that it’s describing as “interactive credit pages” which it promises will help listeners “explore everyone, from the unheralded background singers and lyricists, to the producers, and mixing engineers’ who are instrumental […]

Marshmello launches his own mobile game to debut new album

EDM star Marshmello’s association with gaming is already well known: he’s teamed up with online star ‘Ninja’ to win pro-am Fortnite tournaments, and attracted more than 10 million people to his virtual concert within that game earlier this year. Now he’s testing the waters in mobile gaming too, with his own game. It’s called Marshmello […]

Shesaid·so reveals plans for ‘female-first’ music conference

Music industry women’s network Shesaid·so is celebrating its fifth anniversary by announcing a new conference called MEETSSS. The organisation is describing it as “the first female-first, music-forward conference” created for its community, with the event to be held in Portugal on 3-6 October this year. “The event will embody shesaid·so’s core brand values: collaboration, diversity and […]

Meditation app Calm raises $27m more funding at $1bn valuation

We’ve written about meditation startup Calm several times this year: for example when it raised an $88m funding round in February (an announcement that made us wonder whether Spotify would be doing more with meditation), and when it was the exclusive distribution partner for a new album by artist Moby the following month. Now there’s some more news – […]

Elevate Music Podcast to focus on wellbeing for musicians

There’s a new music-focused podcast in town, and it wants to help musicians safeguard their wellbeing and health. The podcast is called Elevate Music Podcast, and it’s the result of a partnership between production firm Wisebuddah; health and wellbeing service Elevate Music; and charity Help Musicians. The first season is due to tun to 15 […]

Genius hires a head of TV and film for music-related projects

We traditionally refer to Genius as a ‘lyric-focused’ company, but its ambitions clearly stretch some way beyond that. Witness its hiring this month of Joshua Asen, formerly an exec at Discovery Science Channel, as the company’s first head of TV and film. It’s part of Genius’ push into developing longer-form content. “We’re building on the […]

Line Music to add freemium tier and music videos this year

Japanese music-streaming service Line Music has just celebrated its fourth anniversary, and it’s promising some significant new features over the coming months. The service, run by social-media firm Line, now has 11 million monthly active users, with more than 32 million downloads of its app so far. Anyway, those new features include the introduction of a freemium […]

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 […]

Startup Popgun is launching an AI-mastering tool called Gloss

We know Australian startup Popgun best for its demos showing how the company’s AI learned to compose and play music (watch the video here if you need a catchup). However, it’s also been working on something else: a new service called Gloss, which is firmly in Landr’s territory of AI-powered music mastering. “Gloss uses AI to make […]

Chinese government to ‘curb industry chaos’ with audio apps

The Chinese government has launched a crackdown on audio apps, with one prominent music-streaming service included. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced that 26 audio platforms that spread “historical nihilism and obscene pornography” are the first batch of services it has taken action against. The announcement promises a “comprehensive centralised rectification of the audio industry” that […]

Spotify closes its direct-upload test for artists

In September 2018, Spotify started testing a new tool for artists to upload their music to its platform directly, without needing a distributor, let alone a label. At the time, the test was with “a few hundred” US-based artists, with plans to expand it in the future. Or not. Today, Spotify has announced that it’s […]

Former Songkick boss co-writes 2019 State of AI report

Ian Hogarth was the co-founder and CEO of concert-discovery app Songkick, before stepping down in early 2016. Nowadays, he’s a prominent figure in the world of artificial intelligence (AI) startups, including as an angel investor. His ‘AI Nationalism’ article from last year is well worth a read, on that front. But so is the latest version […]

Film soundtracks are still 80% of music consumption in India

There are lots of exciting green shoots for an independent music scene in India, but music from films continues to be the dominant factor in what people are listening to there. That was one of the talking points at the recent Music Inc conference, as reported on by journalist Amit Gurbaxani for Firstpost. He notes that Spotify […]

Epidemic Sound raises $20m and prepares for Asia expansion

Production-music firm Epidemic Sound has raised a $20m funding round, which the company says will fuel its expansion to Asia. The round includes equity funding from Korean investor DS Asset Management, and debt funding from Swedish group SEB. Epidemic is opening an office in South Korea this autumn, in partnership with the former company. “We […]

Chance The Rapper’s streaming mixtape is missing a track

Chance The Rapper has re-released a pair of old mixtapes for the first time on streaming services, but while 2012’s ’10 Day’ remains unchanged, 2013’s ‘Acid Rap’ is missing one of its big tracks: ‘Juice’. It’s been replaced with Chance’s voice explaining why it’s missing (“I really wanted ‘Juice’ to be on the mixtape, but […]

Look beneath the drama of the BMLG / Scooter Braun / Taylor Swift row

There’s a whole sub-genre of YouTube channels and Instagram accounts dedicated to documenting ‘drama’ – the breakups, makeups, shade and almighty rows within the world of social-media stars. Today, music-industry media feels like our own version of that, as all hell broke loose over the news that Big Machine Label Group has been acquired by Scooter […]

How to prepare for ‘deepfakes’ of musicians? ‘Above all, have a plan’

A recent video that falsely appeared to show American politician Nancy Pelosi slurring her words as if drunk has brought the issue of ‘deepfakes’ back into the spotlight. Prominent musicians and their teams should be taking note, thinks Gregor Pryor, co-chair of the entertainment and media industry group at law firm Reed Smith – because they […]

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 […]

7digital needs £4.5m by the end of July to avoid administration

There’s a stark warning delivered within the latest financial filing for B2B digital-music company 7digital. “The Company currently believe that it still needs to raise Additional Funds of at least £4.5 million by 31 July 2019, failing which it is highly likely that the Company would need to be placed into administration.” This follows the investment of […]

More than 9m people play Candy Crush Saga for 3+ hours a day

British politicians are currently interviewing a range of people from the games industry, as part of a select committee investigation into “immersive and addictive technologies”. Yesterday, an exec from mobile games publisher King gave evidence, with some interesting (or perhaps: quite scary) stats about how people play the game Candy Crush Saga. Alex Dale revealed […]

Twitch launches ‘subscriber streams’ feature in beta

Amazon’s live-video service Twitch is trying a new way to persuade people to stump up cash to support their favourite broadcasters: subscriber streams. Those would be exclusive streams for subscribers only, although casual visitors to a channel will see previews, as a way to persuade them to upgrade. “We could definitely see competitive streamers taking […]

Capital in Music to explore finance for local music rights

The co-founder of Norwegian music firm Arctic Rights Management has announced plans for a new project called Capital in Music. Erik Brataas will be taking a six-month leave from his position at Arctic Rights to lead the initiative. “Capital in Music is a project founded by five different companies in the space of music, finance […]

Spotify’s Soundtrap relaunches free tier with unlimited storage

Soundtrap is the online music-creation software that Spotify acquired in November 2017. Now the company is relaunching its free tier, with the big change being unlimited storage for people’s music or podcast recordings. Until now, that feature was only available for people paying for a subscription. Soundtrap has also bumped up the number of music […]

Publishers slam Peloton over its copyright-infringement defence

Fitness startup Peloton’s decision to respond to music publishers’ copyright-infringement lawsuit with a counter-claim alleging anti-competitive behaviour has – and you may wish to sit down for this bombshell – not gone down well. Peloton had suggested that the publishers had conspired with industry body the NMPA “to fix prices and to engage in a […]

Trisha Yearwood helps celebrate Farmville’s 10th birthday

Here’s an anniversary we didn’t remember was coming: 10 years since the release of FarmVille, the Facebook farming game that established US firm Zynga as an early giant of the social gaming world. Music is part of the birthday celebrations, thanks to a partnership between Zynga and country star Trisha Yearwood. She’ll be appearing in […]

BTS World mobile game launches today with another new track

Today’s the day that BTS fans get to play the band’s new, official mobile game, BTS World. It’s being released by publisher Netmarble as a free download for Android and iOS from this evening (26 June). As we reported previously, the game puts players in the role of BTS’ manager at the start of their career, […]

Guggenheim analysts hail Spotify’s push into podcasts

Spotify’s big podcasts push is eliciting mixed feelings within the music industry, as our recent survey showed: some people worry that it will draw attention (and revenues) away from music, while others think it will help Spotify grow as a platform and thus grow for its music partners. Analysts, meanwhile, are welcoming the development. Business […]

Facebook and Instagram expand their music features to Brazil

Facebook hasn’t just been rolling out UGC-focused music features across its apps in the last year: it has also been expanding those features regularly to new markets. The latest is Brazil, where Facebook and Instagram users can now share music in their videos and posts, as well as using Facebook’s Lip Sync Live feature. “In […]

Cameo raises $50m for its celebrity-shoutouts app

Startup Cameo has an app that lets people pay between $5 and $3k to get personalised video messages from celebrities, including Snoop Dogg – also an investor in the company. Now Cameo has raised a $50m funding round to continue building a business that it claims is currently generating around 300k transactions a month, with the company […]

Former This Is My Jam exec launches AI video-editing app Trash

The Guardian’s piece on the launch of a new app called Trash mentions that it’s from the ‘ex-head of Vine’, but Music Ally also remembers Hannah Donovan as the co-founder of music-discovery site This Is My Jam back in the day. Her new venture isn’t specifically about music, but it could certainly be useful for musicians. Trash […]

Music podcast ‘And The Writer Is…’ passes 2m downloads

One of the quirks of the podcasts market in 2019 is that ‘downloads’ is still an important metric, even as the likes of Spotify and Pandora have made ‘streams’ a bigger part of the market. Still, downloads count, and one of the established music podcasts just announced a new milestone. ‘And The Writer Is…’ is […]

Taylor Swift joins list of artists failing to beat ‘Old Town Road’

There’s a slightly woe-is-me feel to Vanity Fair’s ‘If Taylor Swift Can’t Have a No. 1 Pop Hit in 2019, Can Anyone?’ headline. The correct answer being ‘Yes, Lil Nas X has been having a giant No. 1 pop hit in 2019’. But the article’s point is that Swift is just the latest big pop […]

Hipgnosis reveals its first set of financial results

Music-rights company Hipgnosis has gone on a spree of publishing-catalogue acquisitions over the last year. Now the company has provided an update on its business, through its first set of financial results. They reveal that by the end of March 2019, the company owned (or had a partial stake) in 12 music catalogues, comprising just […]

Chartmetric explores the ‘trigger cities’ of south-east Asia

Earlier this year we wrote about music-analytics firm Chartmetrics’ theory of ‘trigger cities’ capable of propelling tracks to become global hits. Now the company has published a second in its series of blog posts focusing on the region of south-east Asia in this regard. There’s some good data on how Spotify is functioning as a platform in […]

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 […]

Music Ally China launches this month

Music Ally has been writing about the digital-music market in China for more than a decade, tracing its development from an almost-entirely unlicensed territory through to today, when China is the seventh biggest recorded-music market in the world, with hundreds of millions of people using streaming services from companies like Tencent Music and NetEase. In […]

Replica will help artists ‘license their own voices at scale’

Earlier this year, Australian startup Replica was announced as one of the latest cohort for accelerator Techstars Music: a company using AI “to create the next generation of games, films, music, and other media” providing “millions of ‘Replica’ voice actors on demand”. Now the company has been explaining more about what it does, and how it might be […]

Spotify explains how its ‘Fans Also Like’ feature works

Artists’ profile pages on Spotify include a ‘Fans Also Like’ tab, showing a range of artists considered to be similar to them. How does it work? Well, yes, it’s based on who fans of that artist also like, but Spotify has published a blog post outlining its methodology in a little more detail. “The more fans two […]

AI-music startup Endel releases five new ‘Relax’ albums

Earlier this year, AI-music startup Endel revealed plans to release AI-generated albums through a distribution deal with Warner Music Group. And it definitely *is* a distribution deal: headlines about Endel becoming the first AI to ‘sign to a label’ were wide of the mark. Five albums came out earlier this year: ‘Clear Night’, ‘Rainy Night’, ‘Cloudy Afternoon’, […]

Amazon debuts ‘Handpicked’ artist playlists, starting with Katy Perry

Ice cream. Weepy movies. Three-hour gym sessions. Howling at the moon like a crestfallen wolf. All good ways to respond to being dumped. Or you could listen to Katy Perry’s new ‘Songs About Moving On’ playlist on Amazon Music, of course. It’s the first in a new series of playlists for Amazon under the banner […]

German stream-ripping site Convert2MP3 is shutting down

Forget the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ movie: it’s stream-ripping websites that are putting Queen on our internal jukebox regularly at the moment. Every few months, another one bites the dust. The latest to bow after being put, ahem, under pressure (sorry, we’ll stop now) is German site Convert2MP3, following legal action from industry bodies IFPI and BVMI. […]

Spotify’s relationship with publishers hits the rocks – again

A new Spotify / music publishing story broke on Friday, but there’s a bigger picture here: the increasingly-dispiriting story of the streaming service’s approach towards the publishing community, as well as the perception of Spotify by those publishers and songwriters. At a time when recorded-music revenues are going from strength to strength, what’s happening around […]

Latest ‘deepfake’ project animates photos to sing

We enjoyed The Verge’s take on a new research project capable of turning a photo and an audio file into a singing / talking video portrait. “Finally, technology that can make Rasputin sing like Beyoncé.” It’s what we’ve all been waiting for! Or at least making Rasputin sing Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’, which would be suitably meta. Anyway, […]

Afriquency launches Africa-focused music-streaming playlists

A team working within African music distributor Africori has launched a series of playlists for global streaming services, which focus on music from Africa. The team is Afriquency, and its playlists include Afro Fresh Friday, Afro Vybz, La Fête (focusing on Francophone African music) and The New Collective (which focuses on emerging artists. “Africa is […]

Music industry comes together to tackle ‘stream manipulation’

Music Ally really has been trying not to go too far down the Donald Trump road of slinging the word ‘fake’ willy-nilly. That said, in the last two years we’ve ended up reporting on ‘fake artists’ (who turned out to be production-music artists releasing their work commercially); ‘fake uploads’ (from people repackaging old and/or unreleased […]

Gaana may split premium features into cheaper subscriptions

Indian music-streaming service Gaana is planning to test cheaper subscription options that separate out some of the features from its current premium tier. That’s according to CEO Prashan Agarwal, in an interview with the BusinessLine website. “We need to de-couple Gaana Plus offerings. Currently, there are three key benefits that a user gets from Gaana Plus: ad-free […]

Spotify CEO says Libra currency could help listeners ‘pay artists directly’

Earlier this week, Facebook announced a new blockchain-powered currency called Libra, and a digital wallet for it called Calibra. Spotify was among the companies backing the plans by becoming a founder member of the independent Libra Association. Now Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has been talking about his hopes for Libra, including the suggestion that it […]

Questions and criticism emerge for Facebook’s Libra currency

Facebook launching its own global currency was bound to provoke some criticism, and some close scrutiny of exactly what the social network is planning and how it will work. Three pieces are worth your attention today to understand how the initiative – backed by Spotify, as we reported earlier in the week – is being […]

Universal Music works with YouTube to remaster old music videos

Universal Music Group is following in the Spice Girls’ footsteps – not a sentence we ever expected to write in a Music Ally story – by remastering some classic videos for YouTube viewers in 2019. The Spice Girls, if you remember, started replacing their grainy old videos with spiffing new 4K-quality ones earlier this year. Now […]

MelodyVR reveals beta smartphone app and ‘Viewer’ hardware

One of the things holding back music virtual-reality startups so far as been the slower-than-expected growth of VR-headset ownership. Now startup MelodyVR is making moves to tackle that challenge. First: it’s launched a closed beta of its app for Android and iOS devices, with plans for a commercial launch this summer. It’ll offer the company’s […]

Marshmello and Ninja to star at Metarama music / esports festival

Music Ally has been talking for a while about the potential for live events combining music and esports. We’ve already seen music performances at major esports tournaments, of course, while MTV tested an esports/music festival in Singapore last year called Hyperplay. Now two of the more prominent figures in recent games/music crossovers – Tyler ‘Ninja’ […]

Idagio-commissioned study explores classical streaming potential

A report claiming that classical music could be ‘streaming’s next genre’ comes with an important caveat – to its credit, one that’s openly stated – that it was commissioned by a classical-music streaming service. Idagio enlisted research company Midia Research to survey 8,000 adult music consumers across eight countries, including the US, UK and Germany. […]

Indies prepare for battle over Vivendi’s UMG sell-off plans

Vivendi appears to be paving the way for its planned sell-off of up to 50% of Universal Music Group to happen in 2020 rather than this year. That’s the gist, at least, of comments made by chairman Yannick Bolloré in an interview with Bloomberg (and reported on by Billboard) maintaining that the plans are proceeding smoothly. […]

Amazon’s Twitch has acquired venerable social network Bebo

Here’s a generational test: do you remember Bebo? Did you have a profile on it? The social network’s heyday, in western Europe at least, was in 2006-2008, before an $850m acquisition by AOL that coincided neatly with Facebook’s emergence to leave Bebo trailing in its wake. Yet Bebo has continued to exist, through further acquisitions, […]

Teespring teams up with Twitch for new merch partnership

We know Teespring well for its work with music companies and artists around merchandise, but it also has a thriving business making merch for ‘creators’ – social and livestreaming-video stars. That’s more the focus for its latest announcement: a new partnership with Amazon’s live-video platform Twitch. It’ll enable viewers of Twitch streams to buy merchandise […]

Mobile music-video creation app Voisey raises funding round

Voisey is a music-making app that gets people to sing or rap over pre-produced beats, then create one-minute videos (including split-screen duets) to share with friends. Think Smule’s Sing! Karaoke meets TikTok. Voisey soft-launched in Norway in December 2018, then in the UK in January 2019, with plans to debut in the US this summer. The […]

Roli launches Kickstarter for Lumi educational instrument

British startup Roli has launched a series of inventive musical instruments. Its latest has been unveiled with a Kickstarter pre-orders campaign. The instrument is called Lumi, which is pitched as “the illuminated keyboard, app and song library that lets you play great songs and learn as you go”. You might compare it to music game Guitar […]

SOCAN set a new record for royalty payouts in 2018

Perhaps we should start asking some pointed questions to any collecting society or label that *isn’t* announcing record royalties and/or payouts. New milestones are being set by the week in 2019, it seems. Canadian collecting society SOCAN is the latest example. In 2018 it paid out $320m to its members, representing 8% year-on-year growth, although […]

Hopeless Records boss claims fake streams may cost $300m a year

A Rolling Stone headline claiming that ‘fake streams could be costing artists $300 million a year’ could be seen as over-egging its story, given that the source is a single indie-label boss citing anonymous sources. Still, Hopeless Records founder Louis Posen *is* making a useful contribution to the debate about the scale of ‘fake streams’ […]

Merlin CEO steps down after another record payouts year

The boss of indie licensing agency Merlin will step down at the end of 2019. Charles Caldas revealed the news yesterday, having led the organisation since its earliest days in 2007. It’s an amicable life-choice decision, with plenty of praise for Caldas’ work in its wake. “Merlin and the whole independent community owe Charles a […]

The truth starts to emerge about Genius / Google lyrics row

The blame game continues in the row over how lyrics from Genius, complete with their unique apostrophe patterns, found their way into Google’s lyric search results. Genius had its say to the Wall Street Journal for the article that brought the argument to public notice, but now Google and one of its key lyrics partners, LyricFind, […]

Wondery talks music and podcasts: ‘This really is its own medium’

Podcast production studio Wondery was founded in 2016, and is best known for shows including Dirty John – recently made into a Netflix TV series – American History, Business Wars and Dr Death. Wondery is also one of the biggest independent podcast publishers in the US, with a monthly audience of 7.4 million Americans in March 2019, and […]

Snapchat original-show viewing has tripled in last year

In recent times, Snapchat has tended to come off worse in comparisons with Instagram, particularly when it comes to active users. There are now at least some bright spots: in Snapchat’s slate of original TV-style shows. One of them, ‘Endless Summer’ attracted 28 million viewers for its first season last year, according to The Hollywood Reporter. […]

Roxi, formerly Electric Jukebox, still planning US launch

British music-streaming / hardware startup Electric Jukebox was announced in October 2015, and launched in November 2016 in its home country – although it postponed its planned debut in the US citing Spotify’s songwriter lawsuits as the reason. Then, in August 2017, the company revealed a new product called Roxi and suggested that it would go public in 2018. Fast forward […]

Spotify explains why it’s backing Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency

The recent leaks were correct: music-streaming Spotify is on board as one of the first backers of Facebook’s new Libra cryptocurrency. The social network will launch a cryptocurrency called Libra in 2020, complete with a wallet developed by the company’s new Calibra subsidiary. And backing all this is The Libra Association, which Facebook says will […]

Capitol Music Group is building its own game-streaming studio

Fresh from launching a compilation album with gaming star Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins, Capitol Music Group is now building a studio in its Los Angeles HQ to help musicians follow in his game-streaming footsteps. “Because we know our artists have an affinity to game, we’re going to build out a streaming studio at Capitol Records in […]

37% of US adults now mainly use smartphones to go online

The Pew Research Center has put out some new stats on Americans’ internet use: and specifically on their mobile internet use. “Today, 37% of U.S. adults say they mostly use a smartphone when accessing the internet. This share has nearly doubled since 2013,” it explained. “At that point, 19% of Americans named their smartphone as their primary […]

Spotify will now help advertisers target podcast listeners

Spotify’s latest feature for brands advertising on its service is ‘podcast listener targeting’. It launched in 10 countries on Friday: the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Australia. “With this feature, enterprise brand marketers will be able to reach Spotify Free users who have listened to podcasts on Spotify, verified by […]

Kickstarter’s Drip follow-up has been canned before launch

Crowdfunding platform Drip began life as a project out of independent label Ghostly International: a way for indie labels and artists to raise money from fans through ongoing subscriptions. In early 2016 its founders announced plans to shut it down, before crowdfunding company Kickstarter swooped in to acquire it, with promises of a relaunch. That came in […]

Report claims Spotify is backing Facebook’s new cryptocurrency

Facebook has quietly (bar the odd leak) been working on its own cryptocurrency initiative for some time now. Reports suggest it will be announced tomorrow (Tuesday 17 June), complete with a consortium of partners offering governance for Facebook’s new coin, called The Libra Association. The Wall Street Journal broke the news that financial firms including […]

Oana Ruxandra to be WMG biz-dev lead as Ron Wilcox leaves

Oana Ruxandra will be Warner Music Group’s new lead of business development for recorded music, reporting directly in to CEO Steve Cooper. “A talented negotiator and collaborative leader, Oana has a first-class strategic brain and keen sense of how to get deals done swiftly and effectively,” wrote Cooper in an email to colleagues. “Oana, along […]

The best music podcasts in 2019

There are a number of popular genres in the podcasts market: true crime, comedy, sports, politics and technology among them. But music is also a thriving genre, with a variety of sub-formats exploring songs, artists and the culture around music. We’ve chosen some of the most popular and/or inventive shows, which make a great starting […]

Ryan Tedder slams artists who take undeserved songwriting credits

Complaints about artists taking an unmerited share of songwriting royalties on songs written for them aren’t new: the phrase ‘change a word, get a third’ has been around for years. Now songwriter Ryan Tedder has come out swinging against the practice, in a speech at the National Music Publishers’ Association’s annual meeting. “In the entire […]

Mixcloud breaks down its revenue-sharing model for curators

Streaming service Mixcloud launched its Mixcloud Select program in December 2018, enabling listeners to subscribe to individual curators (or channels) for a monthly fee of $2.99 or above. Now the company has been explaining how the revenues are shared out, in a blog post noting the fact that Mixcloud’s direct licensing deals “identify the ‘long form […]

LiveXLive reports $9.2m of revenues but a $9.7m loss in Q1

Music firm LiveXLive, which focuses on streaming concerts as well as its Slacker audio-streaming service, has published its latest quarterly financial results. The company’s revenues grew by 29% year-on-year to $9.2m in the first quarter of 2019, although its net loss grew too: from $9.5m in Q1 2018 to $9.7m last quarter. LiveXLive also says that […]

Spotify rolls out its new Library design to premium users

Some Spotify subscribers have had its mobile app’s redesigned ‘Your Library’ screen for a while now, but as of yesterday it began rolling out to all of the service’s premium users. As we reported before, the screen now has two main tabs, ‘Music’ and ‘Podcasts’, with the latter providing an easier way for people to […]

The challenge for music and podcasts: “Rights are a disaster’

There are big opportunities for the music industry in podcasts, but one of the big barriers is licensing: the cost and complexity for podcasters of securing the rights to actually play music in their shows. This was one of the clearest points made last night at the BPI and Music Ally’s ‘Pod Only Knows’ event […]

Facebook Watch videos attract 140m daily active users

Facebook has published an update on Facebook Watch, the section of the social network devoted to premium videos. “We launched Watch globally less than a year ago, and there are now more than 720 million people monthly and 140 million people daily who spend at least one minute in Watch. On average, the daily visitors spend more […]

Fortnite publisher Epic Games buys social-video app Houseparty

Having raised a $1.25bn funding round, and with its Fortnite game continuing to be a licence to print money, publisher Epic Games is on the acquisition trail. It recently bought Psyonix, the developer of popular game Rocket League. Now it has diversified into social media. Epic has bought startup Houseparty, whose “face-to-face social network” is […]

Bastille get an online ‘Doom Days House’ for fans to explore

“Escape the harsh realities of the world,” suggests a new website launched for British band Bastille. With 2019 being what it is, that’s a good pitch: time for some light-hearted, sweet content that… Oh wait. “Step into the Doom Days house.” Perhaps not so light-hearted then. But it’s a fun marketing campaign for the band’s […]

Amazon revamps Echo Dot Kids speaker despite privacy concerns

Amazon has launched a new version of its Echo Dot Kids smart speaker, which was originally released in April 2018. The new version is louder and comes in new colours like ‘Frost Blue’ and ‘Rainbow’. The $70 device will also include a year’s subscription to Amazon’s FreeTime service, which gathers child-friendly content and Alexa skills. Amazon […]

Pandora now has its own ‘audio consultancy’ for advertisers

Streaming service Pandora wants brands to make better, more effective ads for its platform. It’s latest move to help them do that is the creation of an in-house ‘audio consultancy’ called Studio Resonate. It’ll work with advertisers on “audio creative development, sonic branding and strategy services, as well as visual design, rich media production, web / […]

CISAC says SGAE expulsion was ‘regrettable but essential’

In May this year, the general assembly of collecting-societies body CISAC voted to expel Spanish society SGAE, temporarily, in the wake of the long-running controversy around ‘The Wheel’ (a system that saw some of the society’s members’ music played through the night on some Spanish TV channels, boosting their performance royalties). Now CISAC’s director-general Gadi […]

Analyst claims Apple Music could be worth up to $20bn

“Apple Music could be worth more than half of Spotify if Apple is forced to divest it to comply with antitrust-related actions,” claims a report on financial news site Barrons. Which, we have to say, is an extremely big ‘if’ right up front: thus far, complaints about Apple giving its own music-streaming service an advantage over rivals […]

Spotify targets US commuters with playlist of podcasts and music

Spotify has unveiled its latest algo-personalised playlist, Your Daily Drive, which is aimed at commuters in the US. “Music and news” is its thing: a mixture of familiar and new songs based on the tastes of each listener, but also “short-form podcast news updates” from outlets including the Wall Street Journal, NPR and PRI. Spotify says […]

Jaxsta launches open beta of its music-credits database

Startup Jaxsta has been working on a huge database of music credits – from artists and songwriters to producers and engineers – for four years now. This week, the project has launched a public beta for music fans and industry folk alike to poke around. “We are proud to unveil what promises to be the world’s largest […]

Distributor DistroKid steps up its fight against fake uploaders

After a spate of old and/or leaked songs from famous artists making their way onto streaming services without their permission, distributors are taking action. DistroKid has just revealed a partnership with audio-fingerprinting firm Audible Magic that will see it checking new uploads from artists to make sure they’re original. But what about recordings that have […]

Swedish data-protection authority launches Spotify GDPR investigation

There may be trouble brewing for Spotify in its home country, with the Swedish data-protection authority (Datainspektionen) launching a review of how Spotify handles requests for people to see what information it holds about them. “The authority has become aware that there may be some shortcomings in how the company handles registry extracts, including that […]

Mobile games are 10% of app time but 74% of app spending

More games stats? We got ‘em! Well, analytics firm App Annie has got ‘em, at least. It’s published some new data on the mobile games market, as a sub-sector of mobile apps. “33% of all mobile downloads and 10% of time spent on mobile are now games,” explained the company in its latest blog post. […]

VC Mary Meeker publishes her 2019 Internet Trends report

US venture-capital exec Mary Meeker has, for many years now, published an annual slide deck on ‘Internet Trends’. Despite their famous length – this year’s, which was published yesterday, is 333 slides long – the reports are pored over by startups and fellow VCs alike, as an annual state-of-tech roundup of trends and stats. There isn’t […]

Beats online-store BeatStars has paid out $50m so far

BeatStars is one of the websites where artists and producers can go to buy beats to use in their new tracks, and it’s currently enjoying a spell in the limelight thanks to being the source for the beat in Lil Nas X’s global chart-topper ‘Old Town Road’. The company has also announced a new milestone: […]

AIMP conference offers new stats on indie publishing business

This week saw the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) in the US hold its latest Indie Music Publishing Summit in New York. The event included a presentation with Massarsky Consulting offering some new stats on independent publishers’ businesses. Among them: the news that performance royalties were 50% of indie publishers’ revenues in 2018 (at […]

Spotify criticised for its ‘big mood machine’ business

Journalist Liz Pelly has emerged as one of the more thoughtful (without pulling any punches) critics of Spotify: for example her examination of the gender skews of its big playlists last June, or her look at the ‘streambait pop’ sound last December. Her latest article takes aim at Spotify’s “Big Mood Machine” – the service’s ecosystem of mood-focused playlists – and […]

Radiohead release 18 hours of OK Computer demos after hack

As sales pitches for an £18 digital album go, “It’s not v interesting / there’s a lot of it”, takes some beating. The download is actually an archive of 18 of Thom Yorke’s archived MiniDiscs from the mid 1990s. A blog post on the band’s website explained: “We got hacked last week – someone stole Thom’s minidisk […]

Redpill VR and Sensorium raise $70m for VR music concerts

Music and virtual reality? It’s a creatively-exciting crossover, but commercially it has yet to make a significant impact, with the clutch of music-VR startups’ prospects tied closely to the (slower than the hype predicted) growth of VR-headset ownership. Music game Beat Saber’s million-plus sales are a bright spot, but otherwise there’s a strong sense that […]

Global spend on gaming reached $132bn in 2018 says Futuresource

Amid the hubbub of the E3 games conference in Los Angeles this week, research firm Futuresource Consulting has put out some new numbers on the global games market. They are, unsurprisingly, huge. The company claims that in 2018, global consumer spend on games software reached $132bn, including $63bn on mobile games and $28bn on console games. Other […]

Facebook to launch new models of its Portal smart display

Facebook launched its first Portal smart speakers – or rather, smart displays, since they came with screens – in October 2018. The 10 and 15-inch screened devices went on sale first in the US, using Amazon’s Alexa for their voice-control features, with support for Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio on the music-streaming side. Facebook hasn’t yet announced […]

Imagine Dragons launch 10-track song-pack for Beat Saber game

Virtual-reality music game Beat Saber has been one of the success stories in VR so far. Released in May 2018, it sold its millionth copy in February this year. Now it’s going down the traditional Guitar Hero / Rock Band route of selling music in-game, in partnership with artists and labels. Yesterday, the band Imagine Dragons released […]

British music industry to launch new trade-mission to India

British music-industry bodies the BPI, AIM and MPA – along with the UK’s Department for International Trade (DTI) – are launching their latest trade mission to India. It’ll take place from 26-30 August, coinciding with the All About Music event in Mumbai. It’s the fifth year for the mission, which is open to artists, managers, promoters, […]

Bad Bunny and Nicky Jam on board for Spotify Viva Latino gig

Spotify’s efforts to take its big playlist brands into the physical world continue. On 30 August, it will hold the latest in its ‘¡Viva Latino! Live’ series of concerts, based on its flagship Latin playlist. Bad Bunny and Nicky Jam will headline the concert in Miami. It’s also the first time that ‘superfans’ of the […]

TikTok now has 120 million monthly active users in India

2019 has brought some bumps to TikTok’s progress in India, including a brief removal of its app from Google and Apple’s app stores in April. However, the social video app is now firing on all cylinders again in India, telling the Economic Times that it has 200 million users in the country, of which 120 million are […]

Researchers reveal tech to modify talking-head videos by editing text

A team of researchers at Stanford University have been showing off technology that they’ve created to perform “text-based editing of videos of talking heads”. What that means is, for a video of someone shot from the shoulders up talking about something, what they’re saying can be changed simply by editing its script. “The application uses […]

Spotify repeats ‘Sound Up’ podcasts program for women of colour

Last year, Spotify ran a New York accelerator program called ‘SoundUp’ for women of colour with ambitions to launch their own podcasts. It has since been repeated elsewhere in the world. Now it’s heading back to New York for its second year. 10 women will be chosen for the five-day program, with a panel of […]

Melodrive launches 24-hour Twitch channel of AI-generated music

Painting, Doctor Who and crowds playing Pokémon have all attracted healthy audiences on Amazon’s Twitch live-video service. Could round-the-clock AI-generated piano music be the platform’s next craze? Okay, it lacks the star (whether human or animated-monster) quality of those past trends, but music-AI startup Melodrive is giving it a whirl anyway. It has launched ‘Twitch plays Melodrive’, […]

MelodyVR gets into Broadway theatre content with John Gore

Users of music virtual-reality app MelodyVR should be getting ready for more tappy feet and jazz-hands in their headsets over the coming months. The company has announced a deal with Broadway-musicals firm The John Gore Organisation (JGO). The pair will be creating a new joint venture to produce Broadway theatre content for VR, with JGO investing £5m […]

Study asks Harvard lawyers for their attitudes towards piracy

What do “elite upcoming lawyers from around the world” really think about file-sharing and copyright? A new study based on a survey of international LL.M. (Masters of Law) students at Harvard University has been trying to find out. “We expected lawyers to take highly conservative ethical positions on the issue of online copyright infringement,” wrote the […]

NetEase’s Mathew Daniel talks China, artists and publishing as ketchup

Mathew Daniel, VP international at Chinese streaming service NetEase Cloud Music, has criticised collecting societies while suggesting that direct payments to publishers could be a better model in China. “I have an analogy. Publishing is like a tomato-ketchup bottle. We are in the 21st century, and we are all still struggling with it,” said Daniel […]

Esports and TikTok on the marketing agenda at Midem

There were some fun panels at the Midem conference yesterday, including an appearance from musician TheFatRat, the first signing to Universal Music and ESL’s Enter Records label. “I don’t see that I have to please two companies. I see that two companies have to please me! Which I think is a great thing. I see […]

Skepta gets his own streaming heat-map for fans to see

One of the features artists and labels have most appreciated in Apple Music’s beta analytics are the ‘heat-maps’ of their streams, showing activity around the world. Now The Orchard is taking the idea and using it in a fan-facing marketing campaign for British grime star Skepta. His “streaming heat map” website is available to all, […]

Mobile phones will beat TV for Americans’ time this year

Research firm eMarketer has predicted a tipping point for Americans’ entertainment habits this year. “For the first time ever, US consumers will spend more time using their mobile devices than watching TV, with smartphone use dominating that time spent,” claimed the company, in its latest data-release. “The average US adult will spend 3 hours, 43 minutes […]

YouTube cracks down on videos with supremacist content

YouTube is one of the platforms most under pressure to tackle hate content in 2019, and yesterday it announced its latest moves. “Today, we’re taking another step in our hate speech policy by specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, […]

New Avicii album will be premiered in Oculus’ virtual reality

The late dance star Avicii (Tim Bergling) is getting his first posthumous album release this year: ‘TIM’. Facebook has announced that its Oculus virtual-reality division will be running a premiere of the new album on 6 June, through its Oculus Venues app. “We’re honoured to partner with Avicii Music and Geffen Records to bring the […]

Chartmetric debuts Cross-Platform Performance metric for artists

Music analytics firm Chartmetric has a new acronym to shout about: CPP. It stands for Cross-Platform Performance, and it’s an attempt to provide a single metric that measures an artist’s performance across music-streaming services, social media platforms and other digital entities. In a detailed blog post explaining how the new metric is calculated, Chartmetric said […]

Universal Music inks strategic deal with AI startup Super Hi-Fi

Music Ally first wrote about startup Super Hi-Fi in September 2018, when it announced a partnership with The Associated Press “to transform AP’s daily global news content into audio-based stories that can be seamlessly embedded into any digital music service partner”. The company’s focus is on “the space between the songs” on streaming services, with technology […]

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 […]

Goldman Sachs: annual streaming revenues will be $37.2bn in 2030

When Goldman Sachs published its ‘Music In The Air’ report in 2017, predicting trade revenues from paid streaming of $28bn by 2030, it sparked excitement and controversy in equal measure – the latter once people wondered which Goldman Sachs clients would most benefit from sky-high predictions. Keep your pinch of salt handy, then, for the […]

Study claims music was 20% of all YouTube views in 2018

When the music industry criticises YouTube for the royalties generated by music videos, it’s driven by the assumption that music drives a LOT of YouTube viewing. But that’s often just what it is: an assumption, without much hard data to back it up. With that in mind, a new study by video and music analytics firm […]

Dina LaPolt gives Spotify a roasting over songwriter royalties appeal

The ears of senior Spotify execs will surely have been burning this afternoon, as veteran lawyer Dina LaPolt took the company to task in her Midem keynote over its appeal against new songwriter royalty rates in the US. Spotify was not the only streaming service to appeal: Pandora, Amazon and Google are too. But LaPolt, […]

Midemlab 2019: experiential technologies startup pitches

The Midemlab startups contest is taking place at Midem today, and the fourth and final category was for experiential technologies startups. The jury for this category included Google’s Christian Behrendt; TheLynk’s Yvan Boudillet; Station F’s Marine Wetzel; Kuack Media Group’s Juan Francisco Saavedra Plata; and GP Bullhound’s Alon Kuperman. The post Midemlab 2019: experiential technologies startup […]

Midemlab 2019: music marketing and data/analytics startup pitches

The Midemlab startups contest is taking place at Midem today, and the third category was for marketing and data/analytics startups. The jury for this category included Music Ally’s Paul Brindley; OneRagtime’s Stéphanie Hospital; Warner Music’s Tiago Correia; Q&A’s Suzy Ryoo; France Digitale’s Nicolas Brien; and Soundcharts’ David Weiszfeld. The post Midemlab 2019: music marketing and data/analytics […]

Midemlab 2019: Music distribution and discovery pitches

The second pitch session in this year’s Midemlab startups contest focused on music distribution and discovery startups. Disclosure: Music Ally was involved in choosing the finalists for this year’s contest. The jury for this session included Bluenove co-founder Martin Duval; Recochoku CTO Mikio Inari; Capitol Music Group VP of business development Ching-Ching Chen; Deezer’s Alexander […]

UK industry bodies launch survey on impact of PledgeMusic collapse

The slow-motion collapse of crowdfunding firm PledgeMusic has yielded a number of tales of artists owed money by the company, but now a group of UK music-industry bodies are trying to get a better picture of the effects. The Musicians’ Union is hosting an ‘impact assessment survey’ that will run until 25 June, supported by *takes deep […]

YouTube adds more ticketing features through AXS partnership

YouTube continues to build up the concert-ticketing features within its service. The latest example is a partnership with ticketing firm AXS, focused on the US. “Fans watching videos from YouTube Official Artist Channels will now see listings from AXS events included on the video page,” explained YouTube. “Taking the jump to the live experience is easier than […]

Midemlab 2019: music creation and education startup pitches

The Midemlab startups contest has become a key part of the annual Midem conference in Cannes. Today, this year’s finalists in four categories are pitching their technology and business models to panels of jurors, as well as the Midem audience. Music Ally is here – disclosure: we’re a partner for Midemlab, helping to choose the finalists […]

Troy Carter talks distribution and the ‘false narrative’ around DIY artists

He’s been Lady Gaga’s manager and Spotify’s global head of creator services, but Troy Carter is now co-founder and CEO of Q&A, a new music company focusing on distribution, management and label services for artists. Today, he was also a keynoter at the Midem industry conference, interviewed on-stage by journalist Cherie Hu. The conversation saw […]

Next for music subscriptions: new markets, diversity and rethinking value

The music industry made around $7.1bn from streaming subscriptions in 2018, according to industry body the IFPI. That was 32.9% year-on-year growth, with subscriptions generating 37% of global recorded-music revenues. How can the music industry (and the streaming services) build on that growth in the coming years? What will drive the next spikes in paid […]

What’s next for smart speakers? Metabait, Antitrust and ‘limitless’ discovery

According to research firm Strategy Analytics, 86.2m smart speakers were shipped in 2018, up from 32m the year before. Meanwhile, rival Canalys reckons that the global install-base will be 207.8m by the end of 2019. Oh, and the same company thinks that China has just overtaken the US as the biggest market for these devices. […]

Are Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube the new record labels?

Spotify is signing direct licensing deals with some artists and testing the ability to allow others to upload directly to its platform. YouTube and Apple Music are creating content and putting marketing budget behind artists. And Apple Music has also acquired Platoon, the British startup which helped a number of emerging artists to develop, including […]

Gully Boy inspiration Divine talks hip-hop, India and independence

The film Gully Boy has been a huge hit in India, and it’s also reflected the emergence of an exciting new independent hip-hop scene in the country – something journalist Amit Gurbaxani wrote about for Music Ally in September 2018. Gully Boy is inspired by real-life rappers Divine and Naezy, and Divine (aka Vivian Fernandes) was […]

Music streaming in 2019: radio rivalry, Spotify sustainability and ‘west versus east’

Streaming was the big driver behind the recorded-music industry’s 9.7% growth in 2018, according to the IFPI. In fact, streaming revenues grew by 34% to $8.9bn, accounting for 47% of the global total. At the end of 2018, there were 255 million users of paid streaming subscriptions, up from 176 million at the end of 2017. […]

TheFatRat on music and esports: ‘The potential is growing every year’

TheFatRat is a German dance artist and producer (real name Christian Büttner) who’s also one of the early musicians to get involved in the world of esports – professional gaming. In November 2018, he was announced as the first artist to be signed to Enter Records, the label joint-venture founded by Universal Music and esports organisation ESL. Büttner […]

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 […]

T-Series hits 100m subscribers on YouTube

We have been writing about T-Series, the Indian label and film production company that specialises in Bollywood soundtracks, for several years but have been most intrigued by its move onto YouTube, especially as it began to overtake PewDiePie in terms of channel subscribers (although that got very, very ugly on PewDiePie’s side). Now T-Series has just passed 100m subscribers, […]

Tidal has lots of things up its sleeve for the exclusive on Prince’s new album.

Remember streaming exclusives? Everyone seems to have given up on them. Well, everyone except Tidal. It has announced that it has the exclusive on Originals, a posthumous album from Prince containing a number of unheard demos from the legendary artist, and it will be on the streaming service from 7th June. It appears this will […]

Vevo’s Greg Duffy explains how artists can ‘growth hack the music video’

‘Growth hacking’ is very much a Silicon Valley phrase: a term used to cover a range of tactics used by startups when they’re trying to build a big audience very fast, in their early years.  Yesterday at Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit conference in New York, Vevo’s business operations and strategy manager Greg Duffy applied the […]

Flighthouse CEO Jacob Pace talks TikTok, music and virality

Bad news, record labels hoping to create the next ‘Old Town Road’ sized hit by making a song ‘go viral’ on social app TikTok. It’s easier said than done. “To really make stuff go on TikTok requires a lot of understanding. We tell labels all the time: you can’t just take a song and throw […]

Vizu.al pitches merits of embedding videos in email marketing

US firm Vizu.al has built a client list of more than 300 artists, labels, festivals and agencies with its technology that’s capable of embedding video within emails sent out to mailing lists. Founder Matt Highsmith spoke at Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit conference in New York today, showing examples of campaigns that the company has powered […]

Podcasts and music: the opportunities… and the annoyances

Around 62 million Americans are listening to podcasts on a weekly basis, according to the latest edition of Edison Research and Triton Digital’s ‘The Infinite Dial’ report, which was published in March 2019. Another research firm, Ovum, predicts that there will be more than one billion podcast listeners globally by 2020. No wonder music-streaming services […]

Sony Music’s Jose Abreu talks superfans, artists and content

An artist’s keenest fans are their lifeblood in the modern music industry: the people who won’t just stream music casually, but will listen over and over again; share it with friends and the wider world via social networks; buy music, tickets and merchandise; and support the artists they love with a passion. At Music Ally’s […]

How can labels and musicians avoid the ‘dry streams paradox’ in 2019?

Music Ally wrote about the ‘dry streams paradox’ earlier this year in our Sandbox music-marketing report: it refers to the situation where millions of streams for a song driven by a popular playlist on Spotify or Apple Music doesn’t translate into engaged fans for the artist who recorded it. The topic was the subject for […]

Spotify / Hulu bundle signups end in the US for everyone except students

Spotify launched its first bundled subscription with video-streaming service Hulu in the US in September 2017, for $4.99 a month. The company later rolled it out as a $12.99-a-month option for all American customers in April 2018, then dropped the price to $9.99 a month in March this year. Now a surprise: Spotify has ended […]

Label Rehegoo Music Group launches background-music service

Record label Rehegoo Music is the latest company setting its sights on the background-music sector: providing curated music for businesses to play in their offices and public spaces. The label is offering a library of thousands of songs from “underground professional artists” with playlists based on various moods and genres – and the promise of new selections […]

HoloMe launches AR music video for Warner Music artist Amir

French-Israeli singer Amir is the latest artist exploring augmented-reality (AR) technology, with the help of his label Warner Music France and startup HoloMe. The latter company has created a smartphone app, called Amir & Moi, which is available as a free download for Android and for iOS. The app features a video for Amir’s single ‘5 Minutes Avec […]

Mixtapes website MixTape Monkey says it has 11m listeners

Hip-hop mixtapes website MixTape Monkey has an audience of 11 million listeners, according to its creator Mark Serrano. Interviewed by news site Startland, the Kansas City-based founder describes himself as an “enforcer” – by which he means he enforces a strict policy of quality on the mixtapes featured on his site. “If I donʼt believe you’re […]

Sofar Sounds raises ‘mind-blowing’ $25m funding round

Live-music startup Sofar Sounds has announced a funding round of $25m, led by VC firms Battery Ventures and Union Square Ventures. “It’s absolutely mind-blowing, and I’m excited for the opportunity this creates for Sofar to grow, creating new products for artists and tools for our global community to deliver on our collective mission to support […]

Old Town Road takes top spot in YouTube’s global songs chart

Remember when Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ was very much a US thing, with the controversy over whether it qualified for the country-music charts? Now it’s absolutely a global thing: last week, it dislodged K-Pop stars Blackpink from the top of YouTube’s global top-songs chart. ‘Old Town Road’ generated 73.6m views on YouTube in the […]

Delic rights-management startup prepares for autumn beta launch

Back in November 2016, Music Ally got wind of a new startup called SuperRational in the UK, which was aiming to launch a blockchain-powered crowdfunding platform for music. We were a little early to the party, but SuperRational has been in touch to alert us to its new brand – Delic – and its plans to launch in beta […]

Linkfire targets independent artists with new membership plans

Music-marketing platform Linkfire is launching new ‘tiered membership plans’ to expand its customer base, with independent artists now among its key targets. The new plans include ‘personal’ memberships with pricing ranging from free to $25 a month, and ‘business’ plans aimed at labels, distributors and marketing agencies, which start at $50 a month. The move will also […]

Twitch gamers can earn up to $50k an hour from games publishers

If you were a a popular gamer on video service Twitch, how much do you think game-publishers would pay you to promote their new titles? According to the Wall Street Journal it’s between $25k and $50k an hour, for those broadcasters capable of drawing audiences of more than 15,000 simultaneous viewers. The report suggests that big publishers […]

Report: Bytedance has Indian label deals for new music service

New details have emerged on TikTok’s parent company Bytedance’s plans to launch its own music-streaming service. Bloomberg reports that the new service will launch this autumn “in a handful of territories, mostly poorer countries where paid services have yet to garner large audiences”. The countries aren’t named, but one clue comes from the news that Bytedance has […]

Arctic Rights Management hits 2.5bn streams milestone

Since it was founded in 2018, Norwegian music firm Arctic Rights Management has built a roster of 30 songwriters and artists, while also representing various publishing catalogues. The company has just announced a milestone: more than 2.5bn streams of the top 100 songs that the company represents. There are some songs doing lots of the […]

China has now overtaken the US for smart-speaker shipments

More than 5m smart speakers were shipped in the US during the first quarter of 2019, which represents around 22% year-on-year growth, according to research firm Canalys. But wait: the US is no longer the biggest market for these devices in the world, having been overtaken by China. In fact, 10.6m smart speakers shipped in China […]

The ‘impermanent social internet’ may be our online future

Looking for a spicy hot-take of the day that doesn’t involve Game of Thrones? Try this one from journalist Mike Isaac. “The permanent social internet is dying. The impermanent social internet will need to replace it. And it will be even more difficult to make money on such an internet than it was before.” That’s the […]

Startup Oben is making ‘personal artificial intelligences’

Have you heard the acronym ‘PAI’ yet? It’s one to remember, standing for Personal Artificial Intelligences: digital avatars based on real people, with AI technology powering their interactions with humans. Gizmodo has an interesting profile of a startup called Oben which is working on this technology. “This startup, with its 100 plus employees, is betting that in the future, […]

TikTok parent Bytedance launches Feiliao messaging app

TikTok may be taking over the western world (in terms of downloads at least, as we reported last week) but its parent company Bytedance has just launched a new app in China. It’s called Feiliao, although TechCrunch reports the English-language version of the name is ‘Flipchat’. “Here are your familiar chat, audio and video calls. In […]

The Night League teams with Apple Music for ‘Sounds of Ibiza 2019’

Apple Music has enlisted its latest brand to be a playlist curator: dance-music company The Night League. It has created a series of playlists that will sit within Apple Music’s ‘Sounds of Ibiza 2019’ hub, including collections based on specific Ibiza club brands like Ushuaïa, Hï Ibiza and ANTS. Guest DJs and residents from the clubs are […]

China’s music industry discusses social music-promotion

This weekend saw the ‘WISE’ conference take place in Beijing, with a lineup of Chinese and international speakers from the music and media industries. Music Ally was there to report back on some of the discussions relating to our industry: particularly a debate over how or if platforms like TikTok (Douyin in China) plan to […]

BandLab buys British music-media brands NME and Uncut

TI Media (formerly magazine publisher Time, Inc’s UK subsidiary) is selling two of its key music properties to BandLab Technologies, the company behind the BandLab music-creation app. NME and Uncut are the brands in question: the former is the digital-only incarnation of the famous weekly music magazine – the print edition closed in 2018 – […]

Spotify Car Thing hardware streams music and podcasts to drivers

Spotify has unveiled its first hardware: a voice-controlled speaker for cars that will stream music and podcasts. However, ‘Car Thing’ isn’t a commercial product… yet. Instead, the speaker is being used for a test in the US with “a small group of invited Spotify Premium users” according to the streaming service. Those people will install […]

Spotify encourages artists to create their own podcasts

“Do You Need Your Own Podcast?” asks Spotify’s latest blog post aimed at artists. The tone of the article is clearly encouraging them to give it a go, ideally via Spotify’s own Anchor podcast-creation app, which it acquired earlier this year. “A podcast is a great way to establish your personality as an artist and expand […]

Amplify will be the next platform for fans to invest in artists

There are already a number of companies making it possible for fans and high-wealth individuals to invest in musicians, from the familiar crowdfunding platforms like Patreon to the likes of Royalty Exchange. The latest startup falling into the latter category is Amplify, which is planning to launch a private beta of its service this summer. “Amplify […]

Revelator launches its digital-wallet app for musicians

Music-rights firm Revelator has launched its ‘digital wallet’ app for musicians, called Artist Wallet. It’s the company’s app that uses smart contracts to process streams and pay out royalties faster. “When a song is streamed online or played on the radio, rights holders are notified directly on their mobile device, and can safely access and cash out […]

PRS for Music reveals its next CEO: Andrea C. Martin

British collecting society PRS for Music has a new incoming CEO. Andrea C. Martin will be taking up the position on 17 June, with a background as president and CEO of three international business units with Readers Digest Association; MD of data services for the UK’s Royal Mail; and president of security-tech firm ADT Canada. […]

Australian labels win blocks against stream-ripping websites

Given the growth in paid streaming, few people in the music industry are genuinely running around panicking about the existence of ‘stream-ripping’ websites. That said, industry bodies and anti-piracy execs within rightsholders *are* continuing to tackle sites that help people turn streams into free, unlicensed downloads. The latest evidence of this crackdown paying off comes […]

Ditto Music preps Bluebox platform to ‘streamline the supply chain’

A couple of weeks ago Lee Parsons, the CEO of distributor Ditto Music, posted on LinkedIn about his recent appearance at a blockchain event in Bangkok. “Could Ditto Music have an announcement coming up? Watch this space,” he wrote. A fortnight on, and the space to watch is investment site AngelList, and a listing for something called Bluebox, which […]

TikTok was the third most-downloaded app globally in Q1 2019

Social app TikTok may be at a point in its lifetime where big numbers around its growth are counter-productive – at least in one specific context: licensing negotiations with the music industry. The bigger TikTok gets, the keener rightsholders will be to point out how important music has been to its growth, and why any […]

YouTube unveils ‘Bumper Machine’ tool to create six-second ads

YouTube has launched a couple of new ways to advertise on its platform, which may be of use for artists or smaller labels who are lacking the time and resources for creating and editing video ads. One of them is called Bumper Machine, and it’s a tool for creating the six-second ‘bumper ads’ that YouTube says […]

UK society PPL saw its collections grow by 13% in 2018

British collecting society PPL has announced its figures for 2018, revealing that its collections grew by 13% to £246.8m on behalf of performers and rightsholders. That included 5% growth (to £83.6m) for its ‘broadcasting and online’ category, although the biggest spike came with a 43% rise in international collections to £70.9m. PPL also paid out […]

Gimme Radio launches its second music service: Gimme Country

Since its launch in 2017, we’ve known Gimme Radio as a metal brand: an app for streaming a round-the-clock radio station playing metal, with an array of DJs. By late January 2019 it had nearly 130,000 registered users, but was also making it clear that it had plans for other genres: starting with country, with dance, hip-hop, […]

Ticketmaster launches ‘SafeTix’ feature for digital tickets

Ticketmaster has unveiled a new feature for its digital-ticketing technology, called SafeTix. It’s about tying every ticket to the buyer’s smartphone via “an encrypted barcode that automatically refreshes every few seconds”, as well as NFC technology (if supported by their phone) that means they can ‘tap in’ when entering venues. “For fans, SafeTix will provide the […]

Composer John Zorn says he’s owed nearly $200k by PledgeMusic

Composer John Zorn is the latest musician to go public on his experience with troubled crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic. Zorn used the site in 2018 for the release of his 11-album box-set ‘The Book Beriah’, raising $197,559 in the process. Now Zorn has told NPR that the money is still owed to him, as PledgeMusic prepares to go […]

Spotify in India: ‘Our job is to grow the market’

It isn’t easy being Spotify. It’s harder being Spotify in India, a country where the launch of the world’s number one audio-streaming service has been the subject of much speculation and controversy. Now that’s it here, without most of the Warner Music Group catalogue and that of Saregama, India’s oldest record label that owns the […]

BBC promises to build ‘public-service’ recommendation algorithm

UK public-service broadcaster the BBC is hoping to jog people out of their algorithmic comfort-zones with recommendations in its BBC Sounds app. The broadcaster’s director of radio and education James Purnell announced the plans at the Radio Festival 2019 conference in London. “The BBC rests on three foundations: to entertain, yes, but also to inform and educate. […]

Beatport launches Beatport Link subscription service for DJs

Beatport is taking its latest shot at launching a subscription service for its DJ customers. It’s called Beatport Link, and launched in beta yesterday as a way for DJs to stream the Beatport catalogue directly to their performance software, during sets. The first software to support it is Pioneer DJ’s WeDJ, which is aimed at beginner […]

Spotify’s Soundtrap cloud-studio moves into podcast creation

Soundtrap is the cloud music-studio startup that Spotify acquired in November 2017. Since then, the tool has continued to develop, including partnerships with schools and collaborations between emerging artists. Now it’s also part of Spotify’s push into podcasts, with the launch of something called Soundtrap for Storytellers. Spotify is describing it as “a cloud-based one-stop shop […]

Facebook warns that its new privacy tool ‘may impact targeting’

From unintended consequences of its core features to deliberate abuses of the way it made users’ data available to developers, Facebook is firefighting on several fronts in 2019. It should come as no surprise that its attempts to pivot to what CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls a “privacy-focused social platform” are going to have an effect […]

How Otis McDonald built a career… though royalty-free YouTube music

With the EU Copyright Directive passed but still to be implemented by the different member states, the issue of the ‘value gap’ certainly hasn’t gone away. At the heart of this debate is the argument that ‘user-uploaded content’ services, most notably YouTube, that use music as such a core part of their business should be […]

Anjunabeats clears 350 tracks for use in Twitch livestreams

Dance label Anjunabeats wants more of its music to be used by people streaming their gaming sessions on Amazon’s Twitch platform. “Starting today, we’ve made 350+ tracks available to soundtrack your @Twitch livestream!” tweeted the label earlier this week. “Throw down without fear of being muted with our playlist of Twitch-ready tracks here.” That’s a link to Spotify […]

Soundstripe raises $4m for video music-licensing business

Nashville-based startup Soundstripe is a production library that licenses its catalogue to video producers of all levels, from YouTubers to advertising firms and filmmakers. The company says it has issued more than 2m of its ‘micro-licences’ since it was founded in 2016. Now it has raised $4m of Series A funding to continue growing the business, adding […]

Spotify tests ‘Storyline’ feature for artists’ stories

There’s a flurry of headlines along the lines of ‘Spotify tests its own version of stories’ today, referring to the ephemeral posts that have become the driving force for apps like Instagram and Snapchat. That’s not quite the case: Spotify *is* testing a new feature called ‘Storyline’, but it’s not about the company’s 217 million […]

Tencent Music now has 28.4m paying users for online music

Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) reported its financial results for the first quarter of 2019 overnight, and there are plenty of big numbers as you’d expect. Overall revenues grew by 39.4% year-on-year to RMB 5.74bn ($855m) as TME recorded an RMB 987m ($147m) net profit – as usual benefitting from the fact that a significant chunk of its […]

YouTube makes an artist spotlight story for Maren Morris

Country star Maren Morris is the latest artist to get an ‘Artist Spotlight Story’ from YouTube. It debuted on 10 May: a 15-minute mini-documentary that tracks Morris’ journey from “from her early days singing in honky-tonks, to becoming a songwriter in Nashville, to climbing the charts and breaking new ground in country music as a Grammy-winning performing […]

Spotify launches its stripped-down ‘Lite’ app in India

Having signed up more than two million users in India after its recent launch there, Spotify has now made its Spotify Lite app available in the country too. It’s a stripped-down version of Spotify’s smartphone app which is just 11MB in file-size, and is designed to be used in “slow network conditions”. The app has been […]

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber break Spotify daily-streams record

This is one of those figures we’re slightly cautious about, as it doesn’t come directly from the streaming service in question. But it does seem as if ‘I Don’t Care’, the new track from Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, has set a new record for single-day streams on Spotify. That’s based on a figure shown this […]

Rolling Stone delays public-beta launch of its daily charts

Earlier this month, Rolling Stone announced plans to launch its own US charts, tracking the top 100 tracks and top 200 albums on a daily basis – rather than the weekly update of the established Billboard rankings. Its partner in the launch is Alpha Data, the company formerly known as BuzzAngle Music. The launch was announced […]

NMPA boss fires new shot at Spotify by comparing it to Uber

Uber went public on Friday, and the event spurred David Israelite, the boss of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) in the US, to voice his latest criticism of Spotify. “Question: what are the differences between Uber and Spotify? Both are tech cos (not transportation/music cos). Both lose money. Both went public and enriched owners […]

Music marketing in 2019: content, playlists… and Twitter skeletons

Musicians who are breaking through should be aware of any skeletons lurking in the cupboard of their past social-media posts, according to Andy Varley from music company Insanity Group. “In a generation where more and more artists are growing up through social media, you might have used Twitter as a conversational playground discussion platform as […]

UK Music boss calls for investigation into PledgeMusic collapse

Crowdfunding firm PledgeMusic’s imminent administration looks set to get messy, with the inevitable scrutiny of how the company got into a financial hole – and crucially, what happened to the money raised by artists using the platform, who are still owed payouts. UK Music boss Michael Dugher wants the relevant watchdogs to get involved in […]

Facebook co-founder argues that the company should be broken up

There have been a few calls from prominent figures in recent months for Facebook (and other tech giants) to be broken up. The latest person suggesting this fate for the social network is its own co-founder though: Chris Hughes, who worked on Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg in its earliest days at Harvard. In an op-ed for […]

Will Article 17 have unintended consequences for musicians?

The new European Copyright Directive, complete with its Article 17 (formerly 13) on liability for user-uploaded-content platforms, is about to be passed into law, and then transposed into the legislation of the EU’s member countries. But will there be some effects on musicians beyond improving the bargaining power of their rightsholders when sitting down to […]

Spotify tests making podcasts more prominent in mobile app

Spotify is testing a design tweak to its mobile app that gives podcasts more prominence in the ‘library’ screen for its listeners. Bloomberg reported yesterday that the new layout involves two main tabs at the top of the screen to switch between ‘Music’ and ‘Podcasts’, with sections for new episodes of shows that you follow; shows that […]

User-centric streaming payouts: Apple, major labels, new artists…

Apple has internally modelled how a user-centric system of music-royalty payouts would work, in an effort to understand its potential impact on artists and labels, according to Crispin Hunt, chair of songwriting body The Ivors Academy. “They said ‘Be careful: we’ve modelled how this comes out’,” said Hunt, in a panel session about user-centric payouts […]

UK survey reveals ‘hidden barriers’ for disabled musicians

A new report aims to shed more light on the “hidden barriers” encountered by artists with ‘access requirements’ – a term covering a range of impairments and health conditions. The report is the work of British music-charity Attitude is Everything, which interviewed 96 musicians, songwriters, DJs and producers from the UK about their experiences. Half […]

Record label 777 Music launches its own esports offshoot

The latest label exploring the crossover between music and esports is 777 Music, which has launched its own esports division. The company says it’s keen to explore the potential for genres beyond electronic-music to reap the rewards of pro-gaming partnerships. It has launched an online community for music and gaming fans, and is setting up […]

Create Music Group’s new app will manage songwriting splits

Music firm Create Music Group has launched a new app aimed at songwriters. It’s called ‘Splits’ and it aims to help writers nail down the royalty-splits for their work as early as possible in the process. The promise is that it takes just a few taps to create a new agreement, add collaborators with their […]

Incoming Recording Academy boss promises ‘new perspective’

Deborah Dugan has been confirmed as the new president and CEO of the US Recording Academy, replacing outgoing boss Neil Portnow. Dugan has promised that she is keen for the organisation to use its platform “to affect positive change” – including around diversity in the music industry, an issue which saw Portnow cause controversy last […]

PledgeMusic co-founder confirms imminent administration

The co-founder of stricken crowdfunding service PledgeMusic has confirmed that it will shortly enter administration. Benji Rogers, who has been volunteering his services to help the company out of its financial hole, admitted defeat in a blog post yesterday. “I am sad to report that this effort has not met with success and that PledgeMusic […]

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 […]

Social media’s impact on the life satisfaction of teenagers is “tiny”

Every generation has its folk devil – the one thing that is apparently going to corrupt and destroy “the young people”. The hula hoop, radio, Hollywood, TV, rock ’n’ roll, Cabbage Patch Kids (maybe), acid house, computer games. On and on the list will roll. The current one (apart from Fortnite) is social media. But a […]

Facebook boosts original content in its rankings

For a number of years, in part to try and steal a march on YouTube, Facebook has been encouraging native uploads from creators (i.e. posting videos straight to Facebook rather than linking to external sites). Now it is courting filmmakers and saying that it will, over the coming months, add “a series of ranking updates” for videos. […]

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. […]

How music companies are gaming streaming with “playlist stuffing”

Kieron Donoghue – founder of Humble Angel Records and former VP of global playlists strategy and curation at Warner Music – has been blogging about the trend of “playlist stuffing” that he has been spotting on streaming services. As songs qualify as a stream and, therefore, a payment after 30 seconds, he says a key tactic has […]

Rolling Stone creates new US chart

Hands up who ordered a new music chart. Anyone? Anyone at all? Bueller? Bueller? Oh, Rolling Stone did. It is launching in the US and is intended to compete with Billboard’s own charts. The big difference here is that this is designed as a daily chart rather than a weekly one and will lean more heavily […]

WMG sees streaming push up recorded numbers but publishing slips

Warner Music Group has published its numbers for the fiscal second quarter (ending 31st March 2019) and the headlines are that total revenue across all parts of the business was up 13.2% and that it saw net income of $67m compared to a net loss of $1m in the same period last year. Digital was, […]

Music service Wynk loses statutory licensing case in India

A judge in the Bombay High Court in India has ruled against streaming and download service Wynk in its long-running licensing dispute with record company Tips Industries. It is a protracted story but, in brief, Tips and Wynk had failed to agree licensing terms back in 2017 and this saw Tips requesting that its catalogue of […]

BBC plans Alexa rival

“Auntie – what’s the weather going to be like today?” This is not some reference to Mary Poppins or Paddington but rather to the fact that the BBC is reportedly working on a voice assistant rival to Alexa and Siri. It is being dubbed “Auntie” internally but will probably not be the official name it launches […]

Live A Pray-AR: how Madonna is using AR, TikTok and more in her new album campaign

The new Madonna album, Madame X, is out next month but leads singles ‘Medellín’ and ‘I Rise’ have not exactly set the charts alight. Which will make the set up to the album that little bit trickier. Perhaps as part of an accelerated media campaign, Madonna’s team has been talking to Billboard about the use of new […]

Billie Eilish’s managers on the future of the album in the streaming age and why radio is far from dead

Danny Rukasin and Brandon Goodman co-manage Billie Eilish and they have been talking to MBW about the stealth development underpinning her career and how her debut album – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? – is having to work in the streaming and playlisting era. “While playlists drive single consumption, albums can be […]

Readin’ In The Free World: Neil Young announces book about HQ audio

First it was a device, then a streaming platform/archive and now it’s going to be a book. Neil Young, the audiophile’s audiophile, is making his mission to improve digital audio the centre of a new book that will be out in September. Young has co-written the self-explanatory To Feel The Music: A Songwriter’s Quest To Save […]

ERA boss defends streaming services against the “insidious rise in name-calling”

Any discussion of what streaming services do (or don’t) pay out is always going to get people’s blood pressure up. Are streaming services saving the business? Or are they part of a Big Tech turbo-conspiracy to exploit (and rip off) creators? Kim Bayley, CEO of ERA, has waded into the debate and argues that accusations […]

PledgeMusic goes into pre-administration: report

Hypebot is reporting that PledgeMusic has gone into pre-administration as its future now hangs in the balance. According to sources, a buyer for the troubled crowdfunding platform is still possibly in the wings seeking to acquire it – but is deliberating. “UK based corporate advisory FRP has been named to contact potential buyers and value the […]

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” […]

Dating app Tinder now has a ‘Festival Mode’ for music fans

Dating at festivals has come a long way since the days of drinking seven cans of mind-altering cider then finding a friendly face in the crowd. In 2019, inevitably, the culture of swipe-right dating apps is coming to music festivals too. Specifically, Tinder has added a ‘festival mode’ to its app, to help people hook […]

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