Sandbox Issue 256: PRIMAL STREAM 📱🎧 Making lockdown concerts work

Lead: Livestreams have moved to try and fill the massive hole left by the total cancellation of tours and festivals around the world. As more acts do them, however, it becomes incrementally harder to stand out and draw in big enough audiences to make them worthwhile. We speak to those building a whole new gig economy here […]

Drake’s rap-battle partner Caffeine raises $113m funding round

Microsoft may have closed its Mixer livestreaming service and thrown its lot in with Facebook, but another of Twitch’s live-video rivals has just raised a big funding round. Caffeine is the company, and the round is $113m, with VC firms Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners joining media group Fox Corp in the investment. Bloomberg reported that it values Caffeine […]

Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda created his new album on Twitch

During the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of musicians have been thinking about doing more with live-video platform Twitch. But what should they do? Live performances, DJ sets (even though there are issues here), fan Q&As, playing games… All these have been tried. Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park has been using Twitch to broadcast his actual creation […]

YouTube tests TikTok-style segmented 15-second videos feature

YouTube is testing a new feature for people to upload videos that are 15 seconds in length. We can’t think where it got that idea from… Okay, this isn’t a pure TikTok clone: there are some interesting aspects to it. “We’re testing out a new way for creators to easily record multiple clips directly in […]

Microsoft shuts down its livestreaming video service Mixer

Mixer was tech giant Microsoft’s rival to Twitch and other livestreaming video platforms, focused squarely on gaming. You may remember that in August 2019 it signed an exclusive deal with Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins (of ‘played Fortnite with Drake’ fame, although to many young people, it’s more Drake who’s of ‘played Fortnite with Ninja’ fame). More on that […]

Spotify tests video podcasts with YouTubers Zane and Heath

Spotify’s next move in podcasts will be letting people watch as well as listen. The Verge reports that Spotify is running tests with YouTube stars Zane Hijazi and Heath Hussar for their ‘Zane and Heath: Unfiltered’ show. “The global test, which allows the creators to upload their recorded video footage to the app, will show up for […]

Carlos Vives launches #NoTeVayasDeTuCasa video-call campaign

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we’re seeing a growing number of artist marketing campaigns – and even the music that’s at the centre of them – address the crisis. The latest marketing example is from Colombian artist Carlos Vives, whose latest single is called ‘No Te Vayas’ (translation: ‘Don’t Go’). That theme has been adapted for […]

What can the music industry learn from the biggest YouTube channels?

For all that the music industry likes to complain about YouTube, the two are irreversibly entwined. Indian music company T-Series has had the most popular YouTube channel for years now, recently crossing 100bn lifetime views on the platform, while music videos make up the lion’s share of YouTube’s top 10 clips. But that certainly doesn’t […]

Mobile video service Quibi launches to mixed reviews

Music Ally has been covering the build-up to the launch of mobile video subscription service Quibi for a while now, including the $1.75bn of pre-launch funding that it has raised, and its plans for a music-focused show. Now Quibi has launched, to reviews that are the classic mixed bag. Engadget nailed its colours to the mast with the headline ‘Quit […]

Twitch will get games for streamers and viewers to play together

Amazon has been publishing games for a while now: its Amazon Game Studios division has been around since 2015. However, the company is preparing a new push, investing “hundreds of millions of dollars” in its games development and distribution business according to the New York Times. That includes big-budget PC games, but we’re just as interested […]

YouTube Kids may be the top video streaming app of 2020 so far

Apptopia is one of a cluster of app analytics firms (see also: App Annie, Sensor Tower) mining the app stores for data on the size and growth of the apps market. Its latest report is co-published with a customer engagement firm called Braze, and focuses on the video streaming world. The part that caught our […]

Encore launches ‘music messages’ including NHS donations

Personalised video messages from celebrities are officially A Startup Thing, thanks to companies like Cameo and Taki, where people can pay for celebs to record them (or their friends / family) a unique video clip. Now music/tech startup Encore has launched a spin on the idea for musicians. Its core business is providing a website for events organisers […]

Indian video service MX Player expands to six new markets

MX Player is an on-demand video streaming service owned by Times Internet (the digital arm of Indian media conglomerate Times Media) and has over 175m active users in India. It has now expanded to six new countries – the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Nepal. This comes after a significant investment round last […]

Video service Quibi to launch a show focusing on music

We’ve written about Quibi a few times: the company formerly known as NewTV was founded by Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg and tech veteran Meg Whitman, and is launching a subscription-based app with original TV shows split into bitesize episodes. It’s also raised a ton of money – $1.75bn so far, with its service about to launch. Now there’s […]

Survey suggests Disney+ has been a huge hit in the US

In its last financial earnings call, Disney said that it ended 2019 with 26.5 million paid subscribers for its Disney+ video streaming service, representing a very strong start in the US. Now, ahead of its rollout in Europe, Variety has some new stats that point even more towards Disney+ being a huge hit back home. “Approximately 50% of American […]

NBCUniversal is sending new films straight to digital rental

Here’s another example of how the coronavirus situation is impacting an entertainment industry: it’s smashing through Hollywood’s ‘theatrical window’ – the period at which new films are only available to watch in cinemas. Studio NBCUniversal announced yesterday that its current slate of new films will be made available for on-demand (digital) rental at the same time […]

More artists turn to livestreams amid coronavirus isolation

As the live-music shutdown continues, more and bigger artists have turned to livestreaming performances online as an alternative, if not (certainly not in terms of income) a replacement. Neil Young is launching a ‘Fireside Sessions’ series of concerts broadcast from his home. As far as we can tell, the performances will be hosted on his own Neil […]

Apple Music’s latest exclusive is a Coldplay EP and short film

We have written many times that the DSP thirst for exclusives from major artists has moved away from the album and towards things like videos, live performances and session singles. The new EP from Coldplay suggests a testing of the water as to what an act will give a DSP on an exclusive basis that […]

The 1975’s new video was teased with a fictional digital detox

“Begin your own journey and find yourself in our stunning retreat. Mindshower digital detox puts you back in control. RECONNECT. RECHARGE. REJUVENATE.” No, one of the daleks from Doctor Who hasn’t suddenly got on the wellness bandwagon. This was the introductory tweet from a mysterious new digital detox retreat called Mindshower. Which, as it turns out, […]

Nielsen report sheds light on American video streaming habits

Research firm Nielsen’s latest ‘Total Audience Report’ is its first to tap smart TV data from Gracenote, and focuses on American homes that are (in TechCrunch’s words) “capable of over-the-top streaming” – i.e. Netflix, YouTube etc. Among those homes, streaming accounted for 19% of the TV time in the final quarter of 2019. Netflix was the […]

Rappers take centre stage in the livestreaming video battle

There’s something of a talent war going on in the livestreaming video space, with several gaming stars (Ninja, most prominently) being tempted away from Twitch by big-money offers from Microsoft’s rival, Mixer. Another company in the live-video space is Caffeine, and it’s just hauled in a big name: musician Drake. Caffeine described it as a […]

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

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

Justin Bieber YouTube doc’s first episode races to 42m views

Justin Bieber’s new YouTube documentary series, Seasons, is already a record breaker. The show’s first episode was watched 32.7m times in its first week, setting a new bar for the ‘most-viewed premiere in its first week’ for a YouTube Original show. Not that viewing tailed off there: the first episode has since grown to 42m views on YouTube. Subsequent […]

Post Malone gets a ‘dual-phone’ music video on Spotify

As Drake never sang: you used to call me on my cell phone, late night when you need my… cell phone too, to watch the new video from Post Malone. Yes, fans will need two phones to watch the latter artist’s new video, which is exclusive to Spotify. Essentially it’s the story of a couple breaking […]

Tidal launches personalised video-mix playlists feature

Tidal has launched a new feature called ‘My Video Mix’ which, as you will have guessed from the name, offers a series of video playlists to users. Blending human editors’ recommendations with machine-driven picks based on users’ listening habits, My Video Mix will serve up to eight different playlists grouped by artist and ‘music clusters’. […]

Artist Miink premieres new video on a site we can’t mention

The reason we can’t mention the website where the latest video from UK-based artist Miink has nothing to do with prudishness, and everything to do with not wanting to get this bulletin blocked by music-company email filters across the world. Let’s just say the website’s name starts with ‘You’ joined to a four-letter word that […]

A day after its launch, Disney+ had more than 10m signups

What qualifies as a successful launch for a new video-streaming service? How about 10m signups by your second day? That’s the number being touted by Disney yesterday for its Disney+ service, which launched on Tuesday. The announcement helped Disney’s stock shoot up by nearly 7.4%, adding more than $13bn to its market cap, according to CNBC. […]

Dan Le Sac on what he learned from broadcasting on Twitch

Amazon’s live-video platform Twitch is best known for its gaming communities, from creators streaming their play-sessions live to professional esports tournaments. But musicians have also used Twitch. One of them is British artist and producer Dan Le Sac, who joined Music Ally at our recent Sandbox Summit conference to share some of the lessons he […]

Vevo on how to get more YouTube views (and avoid an ‘algorithmic death-spiral’)

Ed Walker, VP of original content & production at Vevo, used his presentation at Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit to explain how to ensure videos on YouTube benefit from – rather than rub against – the platform’s recommendation algorithms. Walker used Vevo’s catalogue of music videos and original content – more than 400k videos in total […]

Spotify makes Canvas less blank

The Canvas feature on Spotify (where a short video loops on the mobile app instead of just having the single or album artwork) is opening up to more users via the Spotify for Artists tool. Music Ally first spotted the feature at the start of last year – back when it didn’t even have an official […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Sandbox Issue 234: The New Era Of Music Videos

Lead: In the 1970s, “pop promos” (as they were called) were the preserve of the mega-star act, but after the launch of MTV in 1981 they became standard practice across the industry. The arrival of YouTube in 2005 may have blown apart MTV’s dominance but the format of music videos did not change much; it […]

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 […]

Sandbox Issue 233: Shopping Around: Making Online Stores Add Up

Lead: Working with D2C experts is one part of the business, but changes in how social media sites are structuring themselves can offer acts new ways to sell products to fans of all stripes. We look at where social platforms are being best used to sell merchandise, how casual fans (and not just superfans) can […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

Classic Spice Girls videos remastered for YouTube in 4K https://musically.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpquality

As an industry, we’re familiar with the idea of remasters in the audio world, where classic albums are revamped and released for modern listening kit / audio quality. We don’t think as much about videos getting the same treatment, but if you’ve ever been down one of those YouTube rabbit-holes with music videos from the […]

XITE launches new music video platform in US

Launching initially in the US, XITE (pron: “Excite”) is a new music video app that will be available on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Comcast X1 Xfinity – and it will be coming soon to Roku. It has deals in place with all the majors as well as a number of indies and will offer […]

Report 422: Playlisting’s next leap forward

Playlists have been referred to as everything from the new album, the new compilation, the new greatest hits, through to the new radio, the new MTV and more. Whether you’re a pop act trying to build a truly global audience or just trying to make a living from making mood music, if you’re not on […]

Vevo’s JP Evangelista: ‘Music videos are competing against everything’

Last May, Vevo announced that it was going to phase out its owned-and-operated website and mobile apps, focusing instead on being a distributor for music videos and selling ads around that content. Vevo.com still exists but mainly as a glorified holding page, with users being pointed instead to youtube.com/vevo where the company has more than […]

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

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

Red Hot Chili Peppers to live-stream their pyramids concert

What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your mummy… even if you have to break in to an ancient sarcophagus to do it. Yes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are heading to Egypt to play a concert at the Great Pyramids of Giza later this week, and it’s just been announced that the gig will […]

Instagram may be working on a ‘co-watching’ video feature

The idea of ‘co-viewing’ online video is a good one: people watching simultaneously around the world while text-chatting with friends and/or strangers. It’s one reason YouTube’s new ‘Premieres’ feature is working well for artists and other creators, and it was also a good idea when Vevo invented it as ‘Watch Party’ a few years ago […]

Twitter’s new video analytics tool helps marketers with timing

Twitter has launched a new analytics tool for people and companies posting video on its platform. It’s called Timing is Everything, and we think it could be quite useful for musicians. “Timing is Everything displays historical data showing when audiences are on Twitter watching and engaging with video,” explained Twitter in an announcement blogpost. That means whoever […]

Another TV veteran joins Spotify to focus on original content

Spotify continues to look towards the television industry for executives capable of supercharging its push into podcasts and other non-music content. Having Dawn Ostroff from TV network Lifetime to be its chief content officer, Spotify has now returned to that company to recruit programming executive Liz Gately. Billboard reports that she’ll take a role as head of […]

Billie Eilish is first artist for YouTube mini-series format

The latest video on artist Billie Eilish’s YouTube channel sees her rifling through her notebook: “an audio visual journey into the thoughts of Billie Eilish, exploring the inspiration behind songs” from her new album, according to its blurb. This is actually the first of a new format on YouTube under the banner of ‘mini series’ – three-to-five […]

Analyst questions impact of Apple’s rumoured video service

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

Report: Snap will pay up to $50k per episode for Snapchat shows

Snap is one of the companies commissioning original short-form video ‘shows’ for its platform. News site Digiday has some good gossip about the numbers involved in Snapchat commissions. “Snap is offering to pay companies $40,000 to $50,000 per episode for original series to premiere on Snapchat, according to four entertainment execs with knowledge of the matter,” it […]

Loop Media to launch short-form video-streaming service

A new US startup called Loop Media plans to launch a video-streaming service focusing on short-form content, including music videos. The company will also focus on film trailers, game trailers and TV clips, with plans to make all this content available in public spaces, as well as on people’s smartphones. “Loop plans to link in-home […]

Video-streaming service Vimeo now has 952k paying subscribers

It’s a long time since, scale-wise, Vimeo was in anywhere near the same league as YouTube in the video-streaming world. Still, the company – now owned by media group IAC – continues to grow its business. Vimeo’s revenues grew by 54% to $160m in 2018, according to IAC (as reported by Reuters) while the service’s […]

Emma McGann talks music, live video and finding fans on YouNow

Live video is an increasingly common way for musicians to interact with their fans, from album and tour launches on Facebook to fan Q&As on Instagram and even streaming gaming sessions on Twitch or YouTube. One aspect of livestreaming that still flies under the western music industry’s radar, though, are standalone live-video apps like YouNow, […]

Study tips YouTube to decline in popularity with British kids

Will children ever tire of YouTube? Surely not! Yet that’s the suggestion being made in a new report published by research firm Kids Insights, which is out today. “According to our data across all ages 4-18 the number of children spending time each day watching YouTube has declined from 61% to 51% in a persistent […]

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