Tech firms want ‘strong copyright safe harbours’ in US/UK deal

With the UK ‘Brexiting’ the European Union, it’ll need a new trade deal with the US. Unsurprisingly, the big American internet companies have views on what that trade deal should require from the UK in terms of copyright and safe harbour rules. And no, sticking to the spirit of the recent European Copyright Directive isn’t […]

More than 400 brands are boycotting Facebook ads this month

We wrote last month about the launch of a ‘Stop Hate for Profit‘ campaign encouraging brands to pause their advertising on Facebook and Instagram, in protest at Facebook’s policies around hate speech and groups. The boycott kicked off yesterday (1 July) with Reuters reporting that more than 400 brands are taking part, despite “last-ditch” meetings with Facebook executives who […]

Pressure mounts on Apple over App Store fees and policies

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

Fortnite creator Epic Games tipped for valuation of $17bn

Epic Games isn’t just the publisher of Fortnite: it also owns also-popular-with-the-kids game Rocket League; video-chat app Houseparty; the Unreal Engine game development engine; and its own digital games store. No wonder its valuation is high: Bloomberg reported that Epic Games is about to raise a $750m funding round that values the company at around $17bn. That’s […]

Broccoli Content CEO challenges Spotify to sign Equality in Audio pact

We wrote about the Equality in Audio Pact earlier this month. Launched by podcast producer Broccoli Content, it was a list of five pledges that audio production companies could make, including paying interns; hiring LGBTQIA+, black people, people of colour and other minorities for projects that aren’t just related to their identity; releasing race pay gap data; […]

YouTube reveals stats for its creator tipping economy

It hasn’t been available to musicians in the past, but YouTube’s tips economy – where viewers can buy ‘Super Chats’, ‘Super Stickers’ and channel memberships for the creators they love – has been something Music Ally has been keeping an eye on as it has grown. Now YouTube has revealed a new figure for the growth in the number […]

New TikTok rival Zynn pays its users for watching videos

A new social-video app called Zynn has been making waves by springing from nowhere to top Apple’s App Store chart in the US. It looks a LOT like TikTok: you can create and watch 15-second videos (“with massive music library”). But as it turns out, the app didn’t just spring from nowhere: Turner Novak of investment firm […]

Stitcher report examines podcast trends in 2020

Stitcher is one of the longer-established podcast services, and now it has published a report exploring some of the podcasting trends of 2020 (and the last decade) based on its data. Among the points: nearly 7m podcast episodes were published to Stitcher in 2019 alone; the top genre that year was true crime; the average […]

YouTube Select aims to boost YouTube’s advertising revenue

A blunt truth underpinning the ‘value gap’ debate: if YouTube is going to pay music rightsholders more royalties, one of the best ways will be by increasing its advertising revenues. Which, as we reported earlier this year when parent company Alphabet started disclosing them, have grown from $8.15bn in 2017 to $11.16bn in 2018, then $15.15bn […]

Facebook goes big on ecommerce with Facebook Shops feature

Shopping on Facebook is already A Thing thanks to the social network’s ‘Marketplace’ feature, an eBay-like service connecting private buyers and sellers. Now Facebook is pushing on with its own ecommerce strategy, announcing Facebook Shops yesterday. “Facebook Shops make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both […]

Facebook’s Oculus Quest VR headset has sold $100m of content

Virtual reality has yet to become a wildfire success, but within the sector, Facebook’s Oculus Quest headset has been a bright spot. Now the company has offered some stats to celebrate the one-year anniversary of its launch. Owners of the $399/$499 (depending on storage) headset have spent more than $100m on games and applications in the […]

Bytedance appoints Disney+ boss Kevin Mayer as TikTok CEO

TikTok has a new boss, and he’s a media-industry heavyweight. Kevin Mayer is joining TikTok’s parent company Bytedance from Disney, where he was most recently chairman of direct-to-consumer and international – a key role overseeing the launch of the Disney+ video streaming service. Mayer will be chief operating officer of Bytedance, leading “music, gaming, Helo, […]

TikTok under fire again from US child-privacy campaigners

In February 2019, TikTok paid $5.7m as part of a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission following a child-privacy investigation dating back to the Musical·ly app (not us!) that TikTok merged with in 2018. Besides paying the $5.7m, TikTok promised to make changes that would ensure children’s personal information was not being shared, alongside other protections […]

Gracenote launches a new dataset of 35m podcast episodes

Spotify, Pandora, Deezer and other music services are thinking hard about how to make it easier for listeners to discover podcasts that they might like. Now tech firm Gracenote is launching something that could help: “a standardised and enriched dataset enabling powerful navigation, search and discovery of more than 35 million podcast episodes across all […]

Fortnite now has more than 350m registered players

Epic Games has put put a couple of new figures for its flagship game Fortnite, and they’re big. “Fortnite now has over 350 million registered players! In April, players spent over 3.2 billion hours in game,” tweeted the official Fortnite account yesterday. Note, the 350m figure isn’t active players – we don’t know how many of the registered […]

Is Harry Potter exclusive a sign of Spotify audiobook plans?

Spotify doesn’t think exclusives are good… for music. Spoken-word content? That’s a different story: the streaming service has been eagerly striking exclusive deals with podcasters and investing heavily in its own original shows. Now audiobooks are joining the party. Well, a new all-star reading of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone isn’t strictly exclusive to […]

Facebook financials reveal ‘significant’ Covid-19 impact

You’d be forgiven for the tart reply ‘Well of course they do’ – even the world’s largest social network can’t be immune from the Covid-19 pandemic’s economic impact. “We experienced a significant reduction in the demand for advertising, as well as a related decline in the pricing of our ads, over the last three weeks […]

Two new reports on smart speakers and voice assistants

More research firms have been putting out numbers on the market for smart speakers and voice assistants. Juniper Research claims that by 2024 the number of devices with voice assistants in use will “overtake the world’s population” with more than 8.4bn devices – up from a predicted 4.2bn at the end of 2020. It sees big growth […]

AR firm Magic Leap lays off staff and refocuses on enterprises

Is more than $2.6bn of funding enough to insulate a tech startup from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic? Not in the case of augmented-reality firm Magic Leap. “The recent changes to the economic environment have decreased availability of capital and the appetite for longer term investments. While our leadership team, board, and investors still […]

Snapchat now has 229m daily users (but still big net losses)

Snapchat’s parent company Snap published its latest quarterly financial results yesterday, revealing another jump in its daily active users total. At the end of March, Snapchat had 229 million daily active users, up by 20% year-on-year, having added 11 million in the first three months of this year. “On average, more than 4 billion snaps were […]

Facebook confirms $5.7bn investment in JioSaavn’s parent telco

In March, we reported on speculation that Facebook was in negotiations to buy a 10% stake in Indian telco Reliance Jio, the parent company of music streaming service JioSaavn. Now Facebook has confirmed that it has made a $5.7bn investment in the company, which will make the social network its largest minority shareholder. Music wasn’t mentioned in the press […]

Netflix added 15.8m paying subscribers in first quarter of 2020

We’re still waiting to find out what effect the Covid-19 pandemic is having on music streaming subscriptions. All eyes on Spotify’s Q1 financials next week for that. But Netflix’s first-quarter figures were published yesterday, giving us a glimpse at the impact on video subscriptions. Netflix added 15.8 million net new paid subscribers in Q1, benefiting from […]

Spotify launches its own set of curated podcast playlists

Spotify has a new plan to get people listening to podcasts, and it follows the blueprint of its music service in its focus on human curation. The company has launched three podcast playlists initially in six countries: the US, UK, Germany, Sweden, Mexico and Brazil. ‘Brain Snacks’ will focus on the educational side of things […]

Facebook is taking on Twitch with an app to watch gaming

Facebook is launching a new app today: Facebook Gaming. It’s training its sights squarely on the territory occupied by Twitch: people playing games and streaming the footage online for others to watch. According to the New York Times, the launch has been brought forward from June. “Investing in gaming in general has become a priority […]

Amazon to begin testing its staff for Covid-19 infection

Amazon has announced that it will begin testing some of its ‘frontline’ workers for Covid-19, even if they are not showing any symptoms. “Regular testing on a global scale, across all industries, would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running,” wrote CEO Jeff Bezos in his annual letter to […]

More data emerges on Covid-19 impact on YouTube ad rates

In terms of traffic, YouTube is getting an almighty battering at the moment, with people working from home (and just as importantly, children’s schools closed). But we’ve reported already on talk of the advertising rates on YouTube falling, as brands pause or pull their advertising budgets as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now there’s some more […]

Study: privacy worries DO put people off products and services

This is one of those things that may seem obvious, but it’s useful to have some hard data for. The Pew Research Center in the US has been surveying Americans about whether privacy concerns would stop them from using a product or service. 52% of respondents said that they had recently decided not to use something […]

Houseparty video-chat app signed up 50m new users in last month

50 million people have signed up to video-chatting app Houseparty in the last month alone, according to its CEO Sima Sistani, speaking in an interview with Bloomberg. The app is riding the same stay-at-home wave as Zoom (which has grown from 10 million daily active users at the end of 2019 to more than 200 million […]

Covid-19 advertising slump is hitting YouTube channels

In terms of viewing, YouTube is thought to be having a big moment amid the Covid-19 pandemic. But are its advertising revenues also climbing? A story on Medium’s OneZero suggests that there may be something to worry about on that front. “YouTubers say that the rates companies pay to advertise on their videos are dropping significantly. That […]

Jimmy Iovine invests in esports franchise FaZe Clan

Formerly of Apple Music (and, of course, before that a long and storied career as a producer, label executive and headphonepreneur) Jimmy Iovine is getting into esports. No, he’s not in training for the next Fortnite World Cup (although we’d absolutely pay to watch that) – Iovine has invested in one of the biggest esports franchises, […]

Disney+ video service signs up 50m subscribers in five months

It took Spotify eight and a half years to sign up 50 million subscribers; it has taken Disney+ five months. And yes, that’s an unfair, apples to oranges comparison in terms of different kinds of services at different times. It’s just to show the startling scale of the initial growth of Disney’s video-streaming service. Launched in the […]

CNN buys ‘private discovery’ app Canopy to focus it on news

CNN has acquired the assets of startup Canopy and hired the company’s development team to work on NewsCo, the codename for the broadcaster’s planned news and information platform. We’ve written about Canopy several times: it was co-founded in 2018 by former Spotify executives Brian Whitman (previously co-founder of The Echo Nest) and Annika Goldman. The idea was […]

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 […]

FanBytes ByteHouse is a Big Brother-style house with UK TikTok stars

Imagine trying to launch a project at this specific point in time that involved a group of TikTok stars living together in a Big Brother-style house. Impossible. Luckily for agency Fanbytes, said TikTokers moved into its new ‘ByteHouse’ before the current social-distancing lockdown in the UK, so its project can proceed as planned. That project […]

Report suggests Apple might buy live-VR startup NextVR

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

Calm and Headspace lead list of top meditation apps in the US

Meditation apps is a space that we’ve been following for a while now, as more of those apps license music and form partnerships with the music industry in other ways. Given the current global situation, it should come as no surprise that mindfulness apps of all kinds are seeing a spike in downloads. Analytics firm […]

Startups battered by a coronavirus-driven ‘great unwinding’

The New York Times has published an interesting (if also bleak) article exploring the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic is presenting for tech startups in particular. It’s a good read, especially for people within the music industry who work with music-tech startups. One Silicon Valley exec who specialises in restructuring failed startups describes the current period as […]

SuperAwesome report: ‘Everyone is a kids and family brand now’

Just as many parents are teachers now, so when it comes to the world of technology and digital services “everyone is a kids and family brand now”. That’s the tagline for a report by kid-tech firm SuperAwesome, which explores what the coronavirus pandemic (and the stay-at-home measures being deployed to battle it) mean for businesses. […]

Internet Archive’s ‘National Emergency Library’ sparks row

There’s a copyright row breaking out in the US after the launch last week by the Internet Archive of something called the ‘National Emergency Library’. It’s not actually a brand new thing: it’s a change of policy for its existing ‘lending library’ for ebooks. The change is that people don’t have to join a waitlist […]

Podcast listening may be falling amid coronavirus pandemic

There’s been a certain amount of debate in the last fortnite about whether music streaming isn’t, in fact, getting a spike in usage as more people work from home. Here’s some more possible context for that: perhaps non-radio audio is what’s getting a bit of a hit. Podcast analytics firm Podtrac has been looking at […]

TikTok’s top creator Charli D’Amelio now has 41.8m followers

With many parents exhausted already by homeschooling, and relaxing their device-usage rules once lessons are done, we suspect TikTok’s servers are getting a mighty battering. That’s going to be good news for the top creators on the social app though, whose audiences may see a spike. Tubefilter notes that this includes a change at the top of […]

Analyst predicts big hit to Facebook and Google ad revenues

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

Twitter users up but revenues hit due to coronavirus

Earlier this year, Twitter provided analysts with its financial guidance for the first quarter of 2020, predicting revenue of between $825m and $885m, and operating income between $0m and $30m. Yesterday, though, Twitter withdrew that guidance, due to the coronavirus pandemic. “While the near-term financial impact of this pandemic is rapidly evolving and difficult to measure, based on […]

New York Times buys startup that turns articles into audio

It’s not just music streaming services who are excited about podcasts and long-form audio more generally. The New York Times just acquired a startup called Audm, which runs a “subscription-based audio app that offers listeners the world’s best longform journalism, read aloud word-for-word by celebrated audiobook narrators”. It launched in 2016, and aggregates articles from the NYT but […]

Instagram and TikTok ‘sidekick apps’ were hot in 2019

A new report from research firm Sensor Tower has found that a third of the biggest new apps in 2019 were “sidekick apps” for the likes of Instagram and TikTok. What are sidekick apps? They are apps that work in conjunction with ‘mother’ apps, adding new features or enhancements that the original app is lacking. According to […]

Netflix reduces streaming quality in Europe to save bandwidth

Netflix is making some changes to the way its service runs in Europe, in response to a request from the European Union’s internal market commissioner Thierry Breton. He asked the video streaming service what it could do to reduce its load on the continent’s internet networks, with populations working at home en masse. “Streaming platforms, telecom operators […]

TikTok appoints US external advisors for content moderation

TikTok has been under a lot of scrutiny in recent months, in the US particularly, over how its content moderation policies work. Now the app has appointed what US general manager Vanessa Pappas described as “an external council of leading experts to advise TikTok on content moderation policies covering a wide range of topics… thought leaders who […]

Allthestreams·fm stunt hacks US subscription video-streaming

As we’ve noted before, the video streaming landscape is very different to the music streaming world, where bar the odd exception, every service has all the music. For video, it’s more a case of many different TV and film subscription services fighting tooth and nail to secure exclusives (easier if they were the original producer […]

Twitter is getting its ‘stories’ with new fleets feature

“Sharing your thoughts publicly can be intimidating!” tweeted Twitter’s product lead Kayvon Beykpour yesterday. No, this wasn’t a precursor to announcing new measures to crack down on the kind of users who can make Twitter such an angry, intimidating place. Instead, Twitter is launching its equivalent of Snapchat, Instagram and everyone else’s ‘stories’. Twitter’s version is called […]

Video-streaming startup Quibi raises $750m more funding

In nearly a decade between being founded and going public, Spotify is estimated to have raised $2.6bn in funding. Compare that to video-streaming startup Quibi, which hasn’t launched yet, but has already raised $1.75bn – including a new round of $750m this week, a month ahead of its debut. This is the company co-founded by Hollywood mogul Jeffrey […]

Taki takes on Cameo to offer personalised celebrity videos

In June last year we wrote about a new startup called Cameo, which had raised a $50m funding round to continue building its business selling personalised video messages from celebrities. Now it has a new rival called Taki, which is doing the same thing. “Make a birthday extra special. Have a celeb announce a baby to […]

Phantom Of The Tokera: get set for TikTok: the stage show

You like the app – now try the festival. The storied London Palladium theatre will be hosting ‘For You Stage, a Live Show Feat TikTok Superstars’ on 24 and 25 May this year. Named after the ‘For You’ discovery tab in TikTok, the show “will incorporate some of the biggest content creators on the TikTok […]

Netflix opens up its data (a bit) with new Top 10 lists

Getting viewing figures for shows on Netflix has historically been difficult: even for the producers of those shows. Recently, the video streaming service has given out some stats for its original shows: in its first four weeks, 76m Netflix member households ‘chose to watch’ The Witcher, for example – a metric that merely counts how many people […]

Patreon CEO promises no ‘invisible boost’ to Capital creators

Last week, we reported on fan-funding service Patreon’s launch of a new service called ‘Patreon Capital’, providing cash advances to creators, repayable from future income earned on its platform. In an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) interview on Reddit, CEO Jack Conte has been responding to some of the questions around how the model will work – including one about […]

Twitch tipped to reach 37.5m active viewers in the US this year

Amazon’s live-video platform Twitch will be watched by 37.5 million Americans this year, rising to 41.2 million in 2021. At least, that’s research firm eMarketer’s prediction: the first time it’s published estimates for Twitch’s viewership in the US. “The video streaming platform will reach 15.5% of US digital video viewers this year,” claimed the company’s blog […]

Cloudflare faces new legal action from music rightsholders

Cloudflare is the technology company that helps a range of websites fend off security threats and speed up people’s access to their content. It’s also controversial though, because some of those clients are piracy sites. Cloudflare has regularly been cited by music industry rightsholders as a problem, because they see it as protecting sites that […]

Once-hot mobile game-show HQ Trivia has now shut down

In early 2018, HQ Trivia was the hot new thing in startup-land: an app where people could take part in a live-video game show and win real money. The company raised $15m in funding and at its peak had more than two million people playing at the same time. Since then, though, HQ Trivia has […]

Fortnite boss sees ‘free stuff in games’ as future of ads

It’s a bit reductive to call Tim Sweeney just the ‘Fortnite boss’ – his company Epic Games has a big business outside that game too, from the Unreal Engine development platform to game series like Gears of War and (via acquisition) Rocket League. But it’s Fortnite’s success that has reinforced Sweeney’s stature within the games industry, […]

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 […]

Tech body CCIA criticises the European Copyright Directive

US tech-industry body the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) counts Amazon, Facebook, Google and Pandora among its members. It’s also, perhaps not entirely surprisingly, not a fan of the European Copyright Directive. The body has submitted its views on “onerous intellectual property-related regulations, aimed at US Internet companies” to the US Trade Representative, including a section […]

Study points to heavy (Android) use of YouTube in South Korea

Analytics firm Wiseapp has published some new estimates for YouTube’s popularity in South Korea. Well, its popularity on Android smartphones anyway. The company reckons that YouTube had nearly 34 million Android users in South Korea at the end of 2019, up 6% year-on-year. This, in a country with a population of 51.5 million, as TechCrunch points […]

Snap financials reveal user growth but also heavy losses

Social app Snapchat ended 2019 with 218 million daily active users, having added 31 million during the year as a whole – 17% year-on-year growth. That’s according to parent company Snap’s latest financial results, which were published yesterday. Is that growth in users helping Snap to turn a profit? No, it is not. Snap’s annual revenues grew […]

TikTok’s latest censorship row focuses on India ‘shadow banning’

TikTok isn’t just about musical videos, and some of its non-music content has already sparked controversies around moderation and censorship issues. India, which is TikTok’s biggest international market right now, is a particular hotbed of sensitivities when it comes to political statements. The BBC has a lengthy piece about the growth of “shadow banning” – where restrictions are […]

Facebook’s annual revenues grew by 27% to $70.7bn in 2019

Shock news: Facebook made a shedload of money in 2019! The social network’s latest financial results cover the final quarter of 2019, but also the full year. Facebook’s revenues grew by 27% year-on-year to $70.7bn, although its net profit narrowed from $22.1bn in 2018 to a mere $18.5bn in 2019. As for user metrics, Facebook ended 2019 […]

Top VR headset sales have dropped sharply year-on-year

Nielsen’s SuperData subsidiary has published some new figures for the ‘XR’ (‘cross reality’) market – essentially AR, VR and hybrids of the two – including the latest estimated sales figures for the top virtual-reality headsets. The company claims that Sony’s PlayStation VR and Facebook’s Oculus Quest were the top sellers in the final quarter of 2019, with 338k and […]

Vine successor Byte is now available on the app stores

In certain social-media circles, it’s been a familiar sight to see people sighing wistfully about how much they miss Vine – even though that app’s short-video creativity is alive and well on TikTok. Still, there’s been some excitement about the fact that Vine’s original co-founder Dom Hofmann was working on a new app for sharing six-second […]

The most lucrative mobile game of 2019 is part of Sony Music

Earlier this month, a report by app-analytics firm App Annie offered its estimates for (among other things) the most lucrative mobile games of 2019, based on consumer spending. Top of the list was a game called Fate/Grand Order, a turn-based tactical RPG that was first released in 2015. Like all the biggest mobile games, it’s free to […]

Google boss: ‘Artificial intelligence needs to be regulated’

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

Report suggests Bytedance set for big push into mobile games

Fresh from test-launching its Resso music-streaming service, Bytedance is set to expand into another sector that will bring it into direct competition with fellow Chinese firm Tencent. That sector is mobile gaming, which drives huge revenues for Tencent already. Bloomberg reports that Bytedance has “rapidly built a full-fledged gaming division to spearhead its maiden foray into hardcore […]

Amazon Prime now has 112m members in the US alone claims CIRP

Amazon’s Prime membership is a huge driver for its music-streaming services, so how is it growing in the US? Research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) has put out some new estimates. It claims that the number of American Prime members grew by 11% to 112 million at the end of 2019, with 52% of those […]

People spent $115bn using WeChat ‘mini programs’ in 2019

Tencent’s messaging app WeChat is already a huge moneymaker in terms of the way people in China use it to pay for all manner of goods and services. One of the keys to this are the ‘Mini Programs’ launched by developers and brands for WeChat: essentially apps within the app. How much money is being […]

Video-streaming service Quibi raises $400m of new funding

In August 2018, Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg and tech exec-turned-politician Meg Whitman made waves by raising $1bn of seed funding for their startup NewTV, with plans to stream high-quality TV shows and films broken up into bitesize 10-minute episodes. Since then, NewTV has been renamed Quibi, and at this week’s CES show in Las Vegas it was […]

Hot Pod News makes its podcast-industry predictions for 2020

Hot Pod News is one of the most respected sites covering the podcasting industry, so its predictions for the market in 2020 are worth perusing. Among the trends it expects to make headlines this year: competition between Apple and Spotify. “At the end of the day, the competition is about getting users, audiences, and listeners into respective […]

WWE averaged 510 YouTube video uploads a month during 2019

One of the challenges that YouTube presents for the music industry is the way music videos compete against other kinds of content and creators on the service. Many of whom are churning out videos much more regularly than artists are able to, with a firm sense of what will grab the attention of YouTube’s recommendation […]

19 TikTok stars get together for #hyephouse ‘collab house’ in LA

You don’t have to be a boomer to think that the idea of sharing a house with 19 TikTok stars has the makings of a living hell. But in the case of the Hype House in Los Angeles, it’s part of a burgeoning social-media trend. The New York Times has explained what’s going on: actually, only a […]

Alexa in-skill purchases off to a sluggish start for Amazon

Music Ally has written about ‘in-skill purchases’ before: they’re the equivalent of in-app purchases for the third-party skills created for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. A way for developers to make money from their Alexa skills, in other words, by charging users for extra content or features. Tech-news site The Information claims that the feature is off to […]

Amazon’s Alexa can now play podcasts from Apple and Spotify

Podcasts are already one of the uses for smart speakers, but that activity could be boosted in the US by the latest announcements from Amazon. From last Friday (13 December) it became possible for American Alexa customers to ask for podcasts as well as music. Interestingly, Amazon’s announcement only included Apple, with more than 800k podcasts […]

Sony Music invests in US podcast production firm Neon Hum

Sony Music really is serious about this podcasts business. The label has already launched two joint-ventures with podcast producers this year, as well as building internal teams to develop (and commercialise) spoken-word shows. Now it has announced a strategic investment in an existing podcast production firm, Los Angeles-based Neon Hum. Its hits include ‘Bag Man’, ‘The […]

Twitter wants to make a ‘decentralised standard for social media’

If you’ve read any of the long-form articles (or the book) about Twitter’s history, you might have formed the opinion that CEO Jack Dorsey is good at Big Ideas, but not always quite as good at the details. With that in mind, here’s a new Big Idea from Jack Dorsey! “Twitter is funding a small independent […]

1,200+ Indian YouTube channels have more than 1m subscribers

Amid all the interest in the audio music-streaming market in India, where Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn and others are all scrapping it out, the biggest hitter is undeniably a video-streaming service: YouTube. We already knew that it has 265 million monthly users in India; that it may account for as much as 40% of Indian labels’ digital revenue; […]

Famous Media wants to create ‘TikTok with Tinder-style voting’

Take two trends: swipe-voting and short-videos. Mash them up, and what do you get? US startup Famous Media hopes you get a recipe for success. It’s working on an app called Famous for which its high-concept pitch is “TikTok with Tinder-style voting”. Its profile on investment site AngelList explains more. “Famous merges the youthful appeal of Instagram and TikTok […]

TikTok criticised for limiting reach of people with disabilities

After all the recent controversies around data privacy and censorship, TikTok’s leadership won’t have enjoyed seeing this intro to a story on news site Netzpolitik. “Leaked documents reveal how TikTok hid videos of people with disabilities. Queer and fat users were also pushed out of view.” The story concerns a list of ‘special users’ whose posts’ […]

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

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

Teenager tests TikTok policies with video criticising China

TikTok has been under fire recently over accusations that its global moderation policies are too in thrall to the government of its parent company’s homeland, China. The line coming out of TikTok executives in the US this month has been that censorship decisions on the platform in the west are NOT driven by Beijing. That’s […]

Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee unveils ‘Contract for the Web’

“If we leave the web as it is, there’s a very large number of things that will go wrong. We could end up with a digital dystopia if we don’t turn things around. It’s not that we need a 10-year plan for the web, we need to turn the web around now.” Some sobering comments […]

eMarketer: France/Germany Facebook flight is ‘faster than expected’

Journalists, analysts and research companies have been warning about a ‘Facebook flight’ – people migrating away from the social network – for years now, yet overall, the company’s user base has continued to grow. eMarketer has some new predictions out this morning though, focused on two markets – France and Germany – where it says the migration is real, and “even […]

Americans not entirely sold on smart-speaker personalisation

There are many studies on adoption of smart speakers and which companies are dominating the market – with research firm Canalys forecasting that more than 200m devices will be sold this year globally. However, other studies have picked up on potential privacy issues around speakers ‘listening’ (and recording) within people’s homes. Now the Pew Research Center has published a […]

Edison Research is now tracking podcasts’ popularity

Research firm Edison Research has won plenty of friends with the reports that it publishes with NPR: ‘Smart Audio Report’ tracking US usage of smart speakers, and more recently the ‘Spoken Word Audio Report’ exploring consumption of podcasts and other non-music content. Now it’s launching something new: a ‘Podcast Consumer Quarterly Tracker’ that will survey […]

Spotify launches its first original podcasts for India

Spotify India has announced its first batch of platform-exclusive podcasts: cricket-themed 22 Yards hosted by popular television anchor Gaurav Kapur, dating and relationship advice-focused Love Aaj Kal (Love Today and Tomorrow) from journalists Aastha and Ankit and fictional detective series Bhaskar Bose narrated by radio host and actor Mantra. Each of the podcasts, which are […]

New survey reveals Americans’ pessimism over privacy issues

After a string of revelations and controversies around digital privacy in recent years, how are Americans feeling about this issue? Not so good, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. Roughly six in ten US adults don’t think it’s possible to go through daily life without having data collected about them by companies […]

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. […]

‘Filter bubbles’ man suggests new architecture for social media

From data-harvesting and ideological echo-chambers to hate speech and trolling, the big social-media platforms are facing more criticism than ever before. Less tech utopias, and more saloon brawls in 1940s western movies where everyone gets beaten up (except the owners, who get rich from the ruckus). Which makes the latest pronouncements from entrepreneur and web-activist […]

Disney+ arrives in UK and other European countries in March

Last week we noted the announcement of a March 2020 launch date for Disney’s new video-streaming service Disney+ in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, but there’s more to say about this. Particularly relating to the service’s launch date in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand this month. That means a four-and-a-half months […]

Podcast industry lets loose with its current frustrations

Hot Pod News is an excellent news site for anyone trying to get under the skin of the fast-evolving podcasting industry, and its latest feature shows why. The site has been surveying its readers on their current frustrations with the way the podcasts world works, all anonymously. It’s a collecting steam-venting that will make useful reading […]

Twitter launches feature for people to follow ‘topics’

Early next week, there’ll be a new way for Twitter users to keep up with the subjects they’re interested in. It’s a new feature called ‘topics’ which launches on 13 July, and it involves following topics – more than 300 at launch covering entertainment, sports and gaming – rather than just following people/profiles. Following a […]

SuperData predicts $1.1bn of VR software revenues in 2019

Whether you’re still excited about virtual reality’s potential for music, or think it’s a busted flush as a mainstream consumer technology, the latest predictions from research firm SuperData are worth a read. It reckons that globally, people will spend $3.2bn on VR hardware in 2019 – plus another $1bn on mixed-reality headsets which combine virtual and augmented […]

Apple TV+ launches with eight TV shows and one movie

The latest element in Apple’s multi-media subscription strategy is here: video-streaming service Apple TV+ went live on Friday in more than 100 countries and regions. As announced earlier this year, the service costs $4.99 a month, and is accessed through Apple’s TV app – with a one-year free sub bundled in with new iPhones, iPads, […]

Could user-centric payouts also be applied to book publishing?

Spotify’s former chief economist Will Page is now reportedly writing a book – but he’s certainly writing for The Bookseller, the publishing-industry trade mag. He’s just penned a column exploring whether the user-centric payouts debate that’s currently happening in the music industry might have relevance for authors and book publishing too. “Just as the music […]

Security fears raised around Amazon and Google smart speakers

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

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg sets out stall on ‘free expression’

He may not have mentioned music, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s speech at Georgetown University yesterday is essential reading for anyone who’s interested in how the social network’s upper echelons view the world. Titled ‘Standing For Voice and Free Expression’, it focuses on some of the many controversies around what kind of free speech Facebook […]

Netflix sees ‘modest headwind’ created by new streaming rivals

Shares in video-streaming service Netflix rose last night, after the company announced its latest financial results. This, despite actually missing one of its key targets for the third quarter of 2019. “In Q3, we grew to $5.2 billion in revenue, up 31% over the prior year, and operating income doubled to $1.0 billion. Paid net […]

Lessons from game streaming: the platform, not the gamer, rules all

The State Of The Stream report from Stream Elements covering Q3 2019 has been published and offers plenty of insights into the game-streaming world. Unsurprisingly, Twitch is the dominant platform here, accounting for 75.6% of hours watched in the period. What is perhaps most interesting is the fact that gaming giant Ninja recently defected from Twitch […]

Everyone is getting sucked into the Fortnite black hole

If you are parents to children of a certain age, the pain of the last few days will have been immense. “Is it back yet? Is it working again? WHY?” Fortnite’s servers have been down since Sunday as it wrapped up its 10th season. Instead of the normal game play, users were presented with a swirling black […]

Major payment companies back out of Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency

Back in June, Facebook announced that it was going to launch its own cryptocurrency – Libra. The news resulted in the classic mixed results. Some focused on the fact that it would change the financial shape of markets where bank accounts and traditional payments systems are not the norm. Some, notably the FT, picked apart its […]

Blizzard under fire over ban for esports player’s Hong Kong comments

Games firm Blizzard is attracting criticism for its decision to fine and ban an esports player who expressed support for the current pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong during a post-match interview. Chung Ng Wai was a competitor in an esports tournament for Blizzard’s game Hearthstone, and the publisher (which also runs the event) quickly stripped him of […]

Tina Tchen appointed as new president and CEO of Time’s Up

US advocacy group Time’s Up, which was set up to tackle sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace, has a new boss. Tina Tchen, the organisation’s new president and CEO, is already known to the music industry, too: since last March she’s been working as chair of the US Recording Academy’s task force for inclusion, having […]

Google tipped to buy TikTok-ish social app Firework

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

TikTok explains why it won’t allow political advertising

Next year’s US presidential election promises to be a bumper pay-day for ad-supported digital services of all kinds, music included. Certainly Pandora and Spotify will be angling for the audio budgets of the candidates and the activist groups supporting them in the US. TikTok? Not so much. Well, not at all, in fact. “We have […]

Instagram’s Threads is a new ‘camera-first messaging app’

The history of Facebook going into battle against Snapchat using its Instagram subsidiary is well established now: for example the moment when Instagram nabbed Snapchat’s ‘stories’ feature in 2016. Now a new front in the battle has been opened up, with a standalone app launched by Facebook called Threads from Instagram, which rolled out globally yesterday. […]

Mark Zuckerberg on TikTok competition: ‘This is a real thing’

Leaked audio from an internal Facebook meeting where CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered questions from staff has been making headlines – mainly around his promise of a “fight” if politicians try to break his company up. But for Music Ally’s purposes, Zuckerberg’s comments on TikTok are also interesting. “TikTok… is really the first consumer internet product built […]

VR/AR startup Jaunt sells its software and tech to Verizon

Jaunt was one of the first virtual-reality content startups to make waves in the modern VR-headset era, including with music. We first wrote about the company in November 2014, for example, when Jaunt worked with Sir Paul McCartney on a VR video of a live performance of ‘Live and Let Die’, released through its own […]

Facebook reveals new plans for social VR (oh, and AR too)

With Amazon’s blizzard of new-product announcements, not to mention the political ructions going on in the US, Facebook’s Oculus division’s OC6 developer conference might have struggled for attention. It’s well worth reading up on the announcements made at the show though: it’s an excellent snapshot of Facebook’s continued ambitions for virtual AND augmented reality technology. […]

Guard uses AI to analyse digital-service privacy policies

If the last few years of digital controversies has taught us anything, it’s that we should probably not be clicking our way through privacy-policy screens when signing up to new services without reading them. But reading privacy policies can be… a chore. Cue a startup promising that AI can help. The startup is called Guard, and […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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”. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 – […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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, […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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. […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Games consolidation as Fortnite publisher buys Rocket League developer

For once, here’s a story in the Music Ally bulletin that you can tell a passing 10 year-old, and watch their jaw drop. The publisher of craze-popular game Fortnite is buying the developer of also-hot game Rocket League. That means Epic Games is acquiring Psyonix, for an undisclosed amount, with the deal expected to close in […]

Hulu reveals latest milestone and ‘binge advertising experience’

Video-streaming service Hulu now has 28.1 million customers in the US, including 26.8 million paid subscribers and 1.3 million people on ‘promotional accounts’. The company revealed the new figures at its latest showcase in New York. The news means Hulu has added 3.1 million customers since the start of 2019 – it ended last year with 25 […]

Facebook f8 event kicks off with more privacy promises

There will be plenty of sceptics scoffing at their keyboards today, when they catch sight of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in front of a big ‘The future is private.” slogan. The image is from his keynote at Facebook’s f8 developer conference yesterday, which saw the company doubling down on its new-found enthusiasm for privacy. “Over […]

Artists need ‘meaningful patronage’ in 2019 beyond streams

Marketing agency Motive Unknown boss Darren Hemmings’ latest blog post goes in hard on the world of streaming right from its title: ‘Music Streaming Services Are Gaslighting Us’. His argument: “At every step of the way, streaming services are essentially gaslighting us that this ecosystem is an amazing new development. Just like Silicon Valley in […]

Facebook financials strong despite looming multi-billion fine

Facebook’s latest quarterly financials show the company’s business rolling on, with revenues up 26% year-on-year to $15.1bn in the first quarter of 2018, and a net profit of $2.43bn. The latter figure is down from $4.99bn a year ago, but consider this: Facebook’s latest net income factors in a $3bn legal expense – money set aside […]

Apple CEO renews his call for more regulation of big tech

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

Twitter and Snapchat publish their latest financial results

Two social networks that have faced challenges around their user-growth published their latest quarterly financial results yesterday. So how are Twitter and Snapchat doing? Twitter’s financial numbers were good: revenues up 18% year-on-year to $787m and a net profit of $191m for the quarter. However, its number of monthly active users (MAUs) was down by six […]

Will Smith chips in to $46m funding for esports firm Gen.G

The latest esports startup tapping celebrities for investment is Gen.G, a company best known (to outsiders anyway) for its ownership of the Seoul Dynasty franchise – a team that plays in the official esports league for the game Overwatch. The company has raised a $46m funding round, with actor/musician Will Smith among the investors chipping […]

Facebook is working on its own Alexa-style voice assistant

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s personal interest in AI voice-assistants is well known: in 2016 his personal mission for the year was building an AI ‘butler’ named Jarvis. Now the social network is working on a voice assistant to serve its 2.32bn users around the world. CNBC was first to report on the plans yesterday, claiming that a team […]

Netflix added 9.6m subscribers in the first quarter of 2019

Netflix published its latest financial results yesterday, and there was a lot to shout about. The video-streaming service added 9.6 million paid memberships (i.e. subscribers) in the first quarter of 2019 – a record – taking it to just under 149 million in total. Of those net new adds, 1.7 million came from the US and […]

Report details Facebook’s last ’15 months of fresh hell’

Bring popcorn – and a cushion to hide behind for the worst details – for Wired magazine’s deep, deep dive into ’15 months of fresh hell inside Facebook’, which was published yesterday. “Scandals. Backstabbing. Resignations. Record profits. Time Bombs. In early 2018, Mark Zuckerberg set out to fix Facebook. Here’s how that turned out,” is […]

$100m-funded Luminary podcasts app to launch on 23 April

Music Ally wrote about Luminary earlier this year: it’s a US-based podcasting startup that emerged from stealth mode brandishing pre-launch funding of $100m, plus plans to launch more than 40 podcasts with hosts like Lena Dunham, Malcolm Gladwell, Trevor Noah and Conan O’Brien. But the company was more than just a podcast production-studio: it had plans […]

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

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

US speaker Nancy Pelosi warns tech firms could lose Section 230 protection

With the European Copyright Directive having made it through its approval vote in the European Parliament, could attention be about to switch to the US in the arguments over safe harbour? Maybe not straight away, but an interview with the US speaker Nancy Pelosi by tech site Recode is worth a read. In it, she’s asked about Section […]

Disney+ video-streaming service will cost $6.99 a month

In the music industry, we’re now fairly comfortable with the fact that every major streaming service has pretty much all the recorded music: exclusives are increasingly rare. In the streaming-video world, of course, it’s a very different story: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other services have access to different portions of the catalogue of TV shows […]

Amazon under fire after report on teams listening to Alexa users

Props to Bloomberg for its punchy intro to a report about how Amazon is managing its Alexa voice-assistant platform. “Tens of millions of people use smart speakers and their voice software to play games, find music or trawl for trivia. Millions more are reluctant to invite the devices and their powerful microphones into their homes out […]

Could podcast listening be more social? Castbox thinks so

Music Ally is thinking about podcasts a lot at the moment, given the interest in that world from Spotify, Pandora and other music-streaming services. These companies have the chance to innovate around content, technology AND business models for podcasts, so we’re keeping an eye on interesting stuff that independent companies are up to around those […]

Lush Cosmetics switches off social media in UK

Cosmetics company Lush has announced that it is shutting down its Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts in the UK. It will instead deal with customer queries on the phone, on its website or over email (how very 2002). Across a series of tweets (they were no doubt fully aware of the irony here), the company said […]

The Chris Bevington Foundation aims to transform lives through music

Two years ago, Chris Bevington – Spotify’s director of global partnerships and business development – was one of four people tragically killed in a terrorist attack in Stockholm city centre. A further 15 people were injured in the incident. The Chris Bevington Foundation has been set up in memory of Chris with the aim of […]

Australia passes tougher social media laws in wake of NZ terrorist attacks

In the wake of the white supremacist terrorist atrocity in Christchurch, New Zealand, last month in which 50 people were killed and 50 more were injured, the Australian government has passed strict new laws around the type of content that can be streamed on social media channels. This was in response to the terrorist in […]

Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo under investigation over online gaming subscriptions

The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK is investigating how three major companies – Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo – are handling renewals for their online gaming services. The CMA will look at the T&Cs they offer users alongside how they process subscription cancellations and refunds. At the heart of this is the issue […]

Mark Zuckerberg calls for more regulation of the internet

Governments and regulators should be doing more to make internet companies like Facebook accountable for their impact on free speech and society more generally… says Mark Zuckerberg. Yes, the social network’s CEO is trying to get in ahead of, well, the governments and regulators who want more oversight of his company, by stressing that he […]

Report claims mobile app spending will reach $156bn by 2023

Newsflash! People quite like apps, and spend a fair amount of money on them – and that’s probably going to continue for the foreseeable future. And on that bombshell, we return you to your regular music-industry bulletin… No, research firm SensorTower has at least put some numbers on this predicted growth for the apps market. “User spending […]

BBC hopes to compete with Apple and Spotify for UK podcast listening

British broadcaster the BBC has just published its ‘annual plan’ for the next year, outlining its strategic priorities. One of them is its BBC Sounds app, which the corporation says has now been downloaded more than 1.8m times in the UK, and attracts a weekly audience of more than one million listeners. “A major part of our […]

Does Alexa need a ‘robot body’ to go to the next level?

We’re getting used to chatting to smart speakers, but what if Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri manifested themselves as actual robots? Strange though it may seem, Amazon is thinking about the idea. “The only way to make smart assistants really smart is to give it eyes and let it explore the world,” said Rohit Prasad, head […]

TikTok upgrades its ‘restricted mode’ for younger users

Social app TikTok is under a *lot* of scrutiny in 2019 over the younger end of its community. In February, the company agreed to pay $5.7m in a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission over violations of children’s privacy laws, before blocking access to its app for children aged under 13 in the US. Now the company is […]

Reuters warns of ‘frightening world’ of deepfake videos

If labels and managers in the music industry aren’t thinking about ‘deepfakes’ already, it’s an area that they should be looking into. Reuters defines deepfake videos as “video that has been stripped of context, mislabeled, edited, staged or even deeply modified through CGI – at times for political or commercial gain”. For example, what seems […]

BBC pulls its podcasts from Google Podcasts and Assistant

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

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

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

Pinterest IPO filing reveals plenty of data

We’ve learned not to describe Pinterest as a social network: the company is more often described as a ‘visual search engine’ – although its chosen pitch is as a place “where more than 250 million people around the world go to get inspiration for their lives”. That pitch is from Pinterest’s S1 filing as it prepares to […]

Google takes the wrappers off game-streaming service Stadia

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

Snapchat tipped to launch its own gaming platform in April

Google might be launching a games console this month, but it’s not the only tech company ramping up its gaming activities. Snapchat may be on the verge of launching its own games platform, albeit one within its app rather than on a physical piece of hardware. “The mobile game platform, internally codenamed ‘Project Cognac,’ will […]

T Bone Burnett takes on big-tech companies in SXSW speech

Musician and producer T Bone Burnett has spoken out before on the relationship between technology companies and artists. Last week at SXSW, he gave a speech outlining how he feels about all this in 2019. “It must be becoming obvious to most people by now: the fact that we are in a battle. A battle […]

Stormzy’s book imprint launches contest for emerging writers

Stormzy isn’t just an award-winning grime rapper: he’s also a book-publishing mogul. Well, he has his own books imprint anyway: #Merky Books, which is part of the Penguin Random House empire, and published his own ‘Rise Up’ book last year. Now the imprint is looking to highlight some emerging writers. It’s launching the #Merky Books New […]

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 […]

Almost Tangible wants to make audiobooks more immersive

Yesterday, Music Ally was at the Quantum conference in London. It’s a one-day event within the London Book Fair with a focus partly on new technologies and trends. One of the companies speaking was a startup called Almost Tangible which, in the light of Spotify’s push into non-music content, we found interesting. The company is trying to […]

Instagram co-founder isn’t sold on big-tech breakup plans

Of all the things Facebook could have done in response to Democrat politician Elizabeth Warren’s suggestion that it should be broken up for abuse of its power, temporarily blocking the Facebook ads that she’d booked to promote her plan was probably the most foolish. The social network claimed it was because “they violated our policies against use […]

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

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

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 […]

Report claims 2.4bn people will play mobile games in 2019

The phrase ‘attention economy’ has been on the lips of plenty of music-industry people for years now, as we recognise that music is competing for attention with games, video-streaming and other forms of digital entertainment. That’s one of the reasons Music Ally writes regularly about the mobile games market – another being that there are […]

Mark Zuckerberg says privacy is Facebook’s new watchword

Facebook’s relationship with privacy? It’s complicated, although critics of the company (like Tim Cook, who’s just been rebranded by Donald Trump as ‘Tim Apple’) might use a few other words. Yet after a bruising period of controversies surrounding privacy and user-data on its platform, Facebook appears to be pulling something of a pivot. “As I think […]

Music Memory Box aims to help people with dementia

This isn’t really an industry story, it just seems like a marvellous project that we wanted to flag up. Music Memory Box is, according to its Kickstarter listing, “a simple kit that you can fill together with meaningful objects, music and photographs. All three combine together to help unlock and recall memories in a simple and […]

What’s next for playlists? Perhaps more context for the music

Former BPI and Spotify research exec Keith Jopling is now working with Midia Research among other music companies, thinking about big-picture strategy. His latest blog post, published for Midia, explores what the next evolution might be for music-streaming playlists. “There is plenty of scope for further creative development of the format. We are far from ‘peak […]

Podcasts startup Luminary launches with $100m of funding

Another day, another podcasts startup attracting significant investment, amid the wider excitement around the spoken-word format. This time it’s a Los Angeles-based startup called Luminary, which is launching a slate of more than 40 podcasts including the likes of Lena Dunham, Malcolm Gladwell, Trevor Noah and Conan O’Brien as hosts. What’s more, the New York Times reports that […]

YouTube disables comments on videos that feature children

YouTube has a big problem this week, and it’s nothing to do with European copyright reform. The video service has been under fire for its policies around protecting children who feature in videos on its platform. Why? Because of reports about child predators leaving suggestive (or worse) comments on such videos. Yesterday, YouTube outlined how it’s trying to […]

Podcasts app Pocket Casts is launching an Amazon Alexa skill

For people who aren’t using iTunes or Spotify to get their podcasts, Pocket Casts is one of the better independent podcast apps. Now it’s making an interesting leap from smartphones to smart speakers, courtesy of its new Alexa skill. “You can play any of your podcasts by name, ‘Alexa, ask Pocket Casts to play the latest […]

Terms revealed for Facebook’s fan-subscriptions feature

Facebook is launching a ‘Fan Subscription’ feature where creators (including, potentially, musicians) will be able to charge fans for access to some of their content. Now the terms of the deals that creators will be expected to sign have been revealed, in a document leaked to TechCrunch. It shows that Facebook will take up to 30% […]

FTC to focus more attention on competition in tech industry

US regulator the Federal Trade Commission has created a new task force which it says will be “monitoring competition in US technology markets, investigating any potential anticompetitive conduct in those markets, and taking enforcement actions when warranted”. This, after a succession of news stories about how the biggest US technology companies are running their businesses […]

Fortnite is holding its first World Cup – with $30m of prizes

Epic Games, the publisher of Fortnite, has announced plans of its first ‘World Cup’ esports event for the popular game. It’s due to take place in New York this July, with the top 100 solo players as well as 50 ‘duo’ teams competing for a prize pool of $30m over the three-day tournament. “Each one […]

Around 91m Americans may be listening to podcasts every week

“We’re entering the Golden Age of Podcasts” claims a headline on a blog post by Chartable, a company that focuses on podcast analytics. This is based on an online survey conducted by the company recently, which aims to track some trends in the US podcasting market. Among them: 10.8% of respondents report listening to podcasts every […]

Global smartphone sales ‘stalled’ in final quarter of 2018

Research firm Gartner has published its latest figures for smartphone sales, suggesting that they ‘stalled’ in the final quarter of 2018. And note, this really is sales – “sales to end users” – rather than shipments to retailers, which is the stat more-often seen in these kinds of reports. Gartner estimates that 408.4m smartphones were sold […]

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 […]

Will the next big tech platform be a ’mirrorworld’ using AR?

Wired Magazine’s Kevin Kelly has form when it comes to big tech ideas: he came up with the ‘1,000 True Fans’ concept in 2008, for example, positing that for artists and creators to make a sustainable living online, the core fans who’d pay $100 a year to support them were the key. Anyway, now he’s […]

Esports economy tipped to pass $1bn for first time in 2019

When we wrote about the competitive-gaming (esports) market last year, we noted that many of the reports about that market’s size quoted from a February 2018 study by research firm Newzoo. Now it’s back again with some new predictions for 2019. “Revenues will reach an impressive $1.1 billion in 2019, a year-on-year growth of +26.7%,” claimed the company. […]

AI fake-text generator may be ‘too dangerous’ to release

We’ve been writing and thinking about artificial intelligence (AI) creativity in the context of music for a while now. There’s a fascinating story at the moment about another facet though: AI’s ability to write news stories and fiction. Nonprofit research company OpenAI has created a new AI model called GPT2, which is (according to the […]

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 […]

Supercell’s two ‘Clash’ mobile games have grossed $10bn so far

Supercell is the Finnish mobile-games publisher behind monster hits like Clash of Clans and Clash Royale – so popular that Tencent acquired an 84.3% stake in the company in 2016 for $8.6bn. The company’s CEO Ilkka Paananen has just published some figures for Supercell’s 2018, as well as milestones for its biggest games. The bad news: […]

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

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

Podcasting startup Himalaya Media raises $100m funding round

It’s the week for big podcasting news. Spotify has made waves with its acquisitions of Gimlet Media and Anchor, but other podcasting firms are also capitalising on current interest in the medium. US startup Himalaya Media, for example, has raised $100m in funding to push its podcast-listening app and distribution platform. The app launched in […]

Calm raises $88m: should meditation be on Spotify’s audio radar?

Spotify said yesterday that podcasts are just the ‘start’ of its ambitions to focus on all forms of audio. What next? We’d suggest that meditation / mindfulness will be high on the company’s radar – and not just because one of its first subscription-bundle partnerships was with meditation app Headspace back in 2016. Investor interest […]

Snapchat narrows losses but daily-user growth is still flat

Snapchat’s parent company Snap, Inc published its latest quarterly financial results yesterday, and while there are still headaches for the company, the actual business is growing well. Snap’s Q4 revenues were up by 36% to a record $390m, while its losses narrowed from $350m in Q4 2017 to $192m a year later. However, Snapchat’s daily […]

What happens if you quit Facebook for a month?

Quitting specific social networks – temporarily or permanently – is an increasingly-common pastime. But does it improve your life? A study at Stanford University has been finding out, focusing on Facebook with a study of 2,844 of its users in the US. A subset of them deactivated their accounts for four weeks. And the main […]

Apple clarifies rules for iOS in-app subscriptions

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

Facebook tipped to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger

Why DID Instagram’s co-founders and the remaining co-founder of WhatsApp leave Facebook in 2018? More fuel for the gossip was provided by a New York Times report this weekend reporting that CEO Mark Zuckerberg “plans to integrate the social network’s messaging services — WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger… The services will continue to operate as […]

Analyst claims Instagram will make $14bn of revenues this year

Facebook doesn’t break out revenues for Instagram when publishing its financial results – just like Alphabet doesn’t give standalone figures for YouTube. That leaves a gap for analysts to fill with their own estimates. One, Jefferies, has put out a figure for Instagram. “We believe that Instagram is a material driver for growth in ’19 and […]

Wellbeing: from alcohol and sleep to holidays and hobbies

Darren Hemmings is the head of British marketing agency Motive Unknown, but he’s also been prominent in the public discussions about wellbeing in the music industry, and some of the pressures that people face. Now he’s written a blog post about his personal experience of 2018 as “the year when I finally decided to Get My Shit […]

Netflix annual revenues grew by 35% in 2018 to $16bn

Video-streaming service Netflix published its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2018 yesterday, and thus also the full calendar year. The company ended 2018 with 139 million paying members, having added 29 million of them during the year. Its revenues grew by 35% year-on-year to $16bn, while its operating profits nearly doubled to $1.6bn. […]

Report claims voice assistants are ‘bigger in the car’

When we write about voice assistants and smart speakers, we tend to assume that these trends are happening first in the home, and will then move to cars. Actually, a new study from Voicebot suggests that this may be muddled thinking. “Smart speakers and other devices with embedded voice assistants get a lot of media […]

Netflix increases its subscription prices in the US

Expect another day of ‘If Netflix can increase its prices why can’t Spotify?’ headlines, after the video-streaming service announced plans for a 13-18% increase in the US. That includes a two-dollar rise for Netflix’s most-popular subscription plan in the US, which will now cost $13 a month rather than $11. The cheapest $8 plan will […]

VC firms predict that startup valuations may fall this year

One of the aspects of the music industry’s return to growth is the willingness of music companies (and, indeed, individual artists) to invest in music/tech startups. With that in mind, a feature in the New York Times interviewing venture-capital firms about the investment market makes for interesting reading. Its proposition is that the startup-funding market […]

TikTok culture is wider (and possibly crueller) than its app

Many people in the music industry are trying to get a handle on social-video app TikTok: particularly how young people are using it, and what kind of culture is growing around their shared clips. If you’re one of those people, New York magazine’s exploration of TikTok is well worth a read – especially because it […]

Intel and Warner Bros test self-driving car entertainment ideas

The entertainment industries are very interested in a future of autonomous (self-driving) cars, because if we’re not driving our cars, that may free us up for other kinds of entertainment experience beyond audio. Music, TV/film and games companies alike are keen to understand the opportunities this may bring. If you’re thinking about this from a […]

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reveals personal challenge for 2019

Imagine being Mark Zuckerberg, trying to think of your annual ‘personal challenge’ for 2019, after the 2018 that Facebook had. Yet the social network’s CEO is sticking to his guns of choosing a new challenge every January (in the past that’s included learning Mandarin, building an AI for his home and running 365 miles). And […]

Consumer-tech body predicts $398bn of US tech sales in 2019

This week, it’s the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Get ready for a blizzard of new-gadget announcements, from TVs and speakers through to robots and smart toilets. The show’s organiser is industry body the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), and every year it publishes its predictions for tech sales in the year ahead, as […]

Apple says App Store customers spent $1.22bn over Christmas

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

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