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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