Instagram looking to take a bite out of YouTube with new 1-hour uploads feature

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IGTV instagram launch

Instagram announced they will allow users to upload videos up to an hour long, a significant increase from previous one-minute limit. The Facebook-owned social media platform looks to compete with the media megalodon, YouTube, owned by Google.

These videos will be housed on IGTV, currently accessible in the top-right hand corner of the Instagram homescreen on mobile. IGTV is also available as a stand-along app on iOS and Android, featuring the most popular videos from internet celebrities.

CEO Kevin Systrom mentioned that it’s time for video to evolve and move forward. On the new platform, anyone can be a curator, not just celebrities. Currently, new and smaller accounts will not be able to upload hour-long videos. Users have the option to scroll through recommended videos, popular videos, curators they’re following, and continue watching previously started videos. Curators also have the option to add links in the descriptions of their videos to drive traffic elsewhere.

There are no ads on IGTV…yet. Instagram also isn’t paying it’s curators, unlike its parent company’s failed Facebook Watch video hub. With over 1 billion users on Instagram, IGTV certainly has leg to stand on. eMarketer predicted Instagram will earn $5.48 billion in U.S. ad revenue, without IGTV.

As younger generations are cutting the chord and looking towards various mediums to consume content, Instagram now has an opportunity to take over TV on mobile.

H/T: Tech Crunch

Photo Credit: @igtv.official/Instagram

Elon Musk blasts streaming services for “crazy low payouts”

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Music creatives have long gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to music streaming royalties. Once the honey pot is divvied up between streaming platforms and music labels, artists and songwriters walk away with only a small piece of the pie.

Mercurial tech baron and founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, is the latest powerful voice to recently speak out on the issue of unequal distribution. The issue is no new struggle in contemporary capitalism, either. The fact of the matter is: when big business is involved, individuals lose out.

But it seems Musk now has a direct stake in the issue considering he’s now dating Canadian singer/songwriter, Grimes. The couple made their first public appearance as a couple at the Met Gala last week in New York City.

The conversation arose over Twitter when Musk was asked about his favorite Grimes song; for which, by the way, he has two:

One conscientious fan tweeted the tech baron wondering which streaming platform fans could engage with in order to most directly benefit Grimes financially.

Musk responded with an infographic showing Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube as the bottom three platforms in terms of gross payout per stream. XboxRhapsody and Tidal are among the top when it comes to artist payouts, with Apple MusicAmazon, Deezer, and Google falling somewhere in the middle.

While the issue of online streaming payouts continues to be a new frontier for the music industry — especially as it converges with tech giants and new platforms who want a piece of the pie — Musk should be commended for bringing the issue into public conversation. At the very least, it is a genuine show of online activism when powerful tech elites raise their voices for unheard, underpaid artistic creatives who often get no say in the matter.

Justice debut new ‘Stop’ music video, announce live streaming performance at Google I/O

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Justice have shared the new music video for “Stop” from the duo’s lauded 2016 LP WomanThe new feature, animated by another French creative pairing, illustrators Mrzyk & Moricea, accents the dreamy, slow-burn disco cut with a synesthetic dose of neon that perfectly completes the song’s retro aesthetic. Scaling back the album’s psychedelic dance ballad to a leaner radio edit, the “Stop” video winds and weaves through a spacial landscape of shifting imagery, projecting some of Justice’s most iconic visual staples along with plenty of stimulating graphic symbolism.

The video comes in conjunction with more good news for Justice fans. The French electro visionaries are currently amid a packed international touring circuit in support of their most recent studio album, and they’ve just added a rare live stream event to their itinerary. Adding to their list of high-profile performances, Xavier and Gaspard have been announced as the musical headliners for this year’s Google I/O conference. The set will be live streamed on YouTube on May 9 from Shoreline Amphitheater, and will include opening support from Phantogram, as well as a live debut of the new “Stop” music video.


Google to release updated all-in-one ‘AIY’ kits for beginners

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Tech junkies seeking AI immersion can find an introductory foothold in Google’s new DIY AI starter packs.

Dubbed “AIY” kits, the pre-packaged set up acquaints those who are new to AI with the burgeoning technology. In the past, the kits were geared more toward those with an existing knowledge of AI, but Google will now cater to novices via a joint release of updated AIY Vision and Voice kits that will include all a beginner needs to get started.

Both the Vision and the Voice kits will come with a Raspberry Pi Zero WH board, and a pre-provisioned SD card. The Vision kit additionally arrives with a Raspberry Pi Camera v2. Google has also released a companion Android app that assists purchasers in the process of setting up their kits.

The Vision and Voice packs, priced at $90 and $50 respectively, will become available in Target’s online and retail stores in April.

H/T: engadget

Get a look at the technology behind Google’s touchscreen AI synth [Watch]

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Ai synth

Google’s position at the forefront of technological innovation finds a new mode in the touchscreen hardware synth recently unveiled by the company. An alternative to synths that traditionally combine waveforms to generate sound, the touchscreen, AI assisted synth uses NSynth machine learning technology to “interpret” a range of inputs and generate new sounds.
The NSynth technology enables Google’s synth to register sounds as numbers in order to mathematically produce a novel series of numbers after the synth’s analysis of the original set of inputs. The synth then coverts its newly conceptualized string of numbers back into sound, thus producing sounds that are both new and nonpareil. Sounds that exemplify the synth’s uncanny ability to create the unique audio include a car’s engine combined with a sitar, and bass sound paired with that of thunder, in addition to various others.

Those interested can experiment with the NSynth technology in order to fully experience the synth’s anomalous kind of machine learning on Google’s web version of the synth.
The synth’s hardware allows its users to transition between four parameters on its X/Y pad, and to play and sequence sounds via MIDI, while “morphing between the sound sources in real time.”
Although Google will not commercially market its AI synth, it will release the technology as an open source Github download. Post download, users will have the ability to add their own features to the technology.

H/T: DJ Mag

Songwriters win big as Copyright Royalty Board boosts streaming pay nearly 50 percent

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Washington DC, United States landmark. National Capitol building with US flag.

Since the dawn of streaming nearly 10 years ago, writer royalties have been based on a strict percentage of each streaming service’s revenue, putting songwriters at the mercy of corporate decision-making. In a court ruling issued Jan. 27 in Washington D.C., the Copyright Royalty Board has voted to increase songwriter rates for music streaming by 43.8 percent over the next five years.

President and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association, David Isrealite, calls the victory “the biggest rate increase granted in CRB history.” The federal decision ruled in favor of the NMPA and the Nashville Songwriters’ Association International, requiring Amazon, Apple, GooglePandora and Spotify to pay more for the use of music.

“Crucially, the decision also allows songwriters to benefit from deals done by record labels in the free market,” Isrealite says. “The ratio of what labels are paid by the services versus what publishers are paid has significantly improved, resulting in the most favorable balance in the history of the industry.”

For every $3.82 to the label, writer/publishers get $1.00.

“The CRB was a long and difficult process but songwriters and music publishers together presented a powerful case for higher streaming royalty rates,” says Bart Herbison, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International. “Songwriters desperately need and deserve [these] rate increases.”

The change will be insignificant to the bottom lines of tech giants Apple, Amazon and Google. Yet, smaller streaming services like Spotify and Pandora may feel the cost. Arguing in favor of the status quo were Amazon, Google, Pandora and Spotify. Apple broke with the ranks, however, conceding that the current royalty rate was much “too complex” and “economically unsound.” Apple advocated for “a single per-play rate that is the same for all services,” which signals an artistic sympathy that may have interesting market implications moving forward.

Via Variety

See Google’s most frequently searched albums, artists, and songs of 2017 [Full List]

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There is perhaps no end of year list that best bespeaks the nation’s interests in 2017 than Google‘s “Year in Search 2017.” A compilation of the most frequently searched values over the course of the year, the reflective record offers insight on search engine’s top-searched albums, artists, and songs in 2017.

Google’s Top Albums/New Releases list charts Taylor Swift‘s album, Reputation, as the most heavily searched album of the year, trailed by Jay-Z’s 4:44. Kendrick Lamar’s Damn comes in at third place. Shifting over to Google’s Top Music Artist section, Linkin Park arises as the top-searched artist of 2017. Rapper Cardi B takes silver, with Lil Pump registering as the third most Googled artist of the year.

When it comes to Top Songs, Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” reigns supreme, omnipotently followed by Lamar’s “Humble,” and Migos’ “Bad and Boujee.” The full list of Google search superlatives appears below.

Top Albums / New Releases
1. Reputation (Taylor Swift)
2. 4:44 (Jay Z)
3. Damn (Kendrick Lamar)
4. Everybody (Logic)
5. More Life (Drake)
6. Harry Styles (Harry Styles)
7. Issa Album (21 Savage)
8. Divide (Ed Sheeran)
9. True to Self (Bryson Tiller)
10. Flower Boy (Tyler, The Creator)

Music Artist
1. Linkin Park
2. Cardi B
3. Lil Pump
4. Joyner Lucas
5. Jason Aldean
6. Danielle Bregoli
7. Post Malone
8. Aaron Carter
9. Remy Ma
10. Montgomery Gentry

1. Luis Fonsi — “Despacito” featuring Daddy Yankee
2. Kendrick — “Humble”
3. Migos — “Bad and Boujee”
4. Taylor Swift — “Look What You Made Me Do”
5. Cardi B — “Bodak Yellow”
6. Lil Pump — “Gucci Gang”
7. Camila Cabello — “Havana” featuring  Young Thug
8. Ed Sheeran — “Shape of You”
9. Future — “Mask Off”
10. Ariana Grande — “Side to Side” featuring Nicki Minaj

Those interested in viewing the top global Google searches by country can see Google’s international top-searched lists here.

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H/T: Complex

Google Home & Alexa don’t record everything their users say, but assistant owners can easily delete their command history anyway

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Contrary to viral belief, Amazon and Google’s electronic assistants aren’t recording everything that Google Home and Alexa users say. While the Alexa and Google Home’s microphones remain on, the systems don’t register conversation until a user says the given assistant’s “wake word.” Traditionally “Ok Google” for Google Home owners, and “Alexa” for Amazon’s Alexa, once spoken, the wake word engages each assistant, prompting Google Home and Alexa to begin recording. The audio clips are then transferred in the cloud.

Google Home and Alexa users, however, can easily delete the stored requests. Alexa owners need only to open their Alexa app and locate the Settings > History option to view their log of Alexa registered requests. Users can individually delete entries from the app. To clear Alexa’s history, Alexa users can sign into Amazon here, access the Your Devices > Echo Dot > Manage voice recordings function, and delete Alexa’s interactive log.

Google Home owners can alternatively erase their request history by visiting my, and clicking on the “Delete activity by” button, accessible via the three-dot line in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. In much the same way that one can clear Internet browsing history, Google Home users can select the degree of deletion, ranging from today, yesterday, the last seven days, the last 30 days, all time, or custom. Once Google Home owners have chosen their deletion date range, they can click on All products, Voice & Audio, and then Delete. Doing so removes voice requests—Google Home users must also follow the same series of steps for Assistant in order to completely clear assistant associated commands.

Distrusting owners of the personal assistants can also mute the devices either by pressing the mute button on top of Alexa, or by pressing Google Home’s, located on the back.

H/T: Wired

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Facebook adds ‘trust indicators’ to its news to fight misinformation

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In the wake of “fake news” and the age of online journalism, where the dissemination of falsehood runs rampant, Facebook has made an effort to intervene. By implementing “Trust Indicators” — that go live on the site today — when users click on a news story, they will be provided with additional context regarding the article’s reporter and publisher. The reader will have the option of reviewing the publisher’s ethics policy, reporting standards, and ownership structure, as well as the individual journalist’s reporting history and credentials.

According to a statement from Facebook, these efforts to provide news stories with background are to help people “make more informed [news] decisionsadvance news literacy and education, [by] working to reinforce indicators of publisher integrity on our platform.”

This decision comes in the wake of several other media platforms and news outlets joining The Trust Project, including Twitter, Google, and The Washington Post. The Trust Project is a nonpartisan effort to restore public faith in the media. It was created by award-winning journalist, Sally Lehrman of Santa Clara University’s Applied Ethics Department, and is being funded by Craigslist founder, Mark Newmark.

“An increasingly skeptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story. The Trust Indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on,” said Lehrman.

Google has yet to apply its own version of Trust Indicators, though it has agreed to participate in the cause. On November 16, Google Product Manager Jeff Chang said in a blog post that Google is still sorting out how precisely the indicators will appear next to the article. Chang said Google plans to utilize Trust Indicators within Google News, Google Search, as well as “other Google products where news can be found.”

Photo Credit: Mediaite

H/T: Tech Crunch

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Spotify cancels all current video series, goes back to drawing board

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Spotify has halted the production of its current original video series, duly cancelling its unreleased shows as the music streaming platform’s foray into video proved ineffective.

Spotify has expended much energy developing an array of original video productions after deeming original video a potential source of un-infringed funds. More than 80% of Spotify’s revenue stream is paid out to record labels and other industry entities, rendering Spotify’s streaming business a particularly costly venture with a comparatively slim payout for the platform itself. Spotify has lead streaming rivals like Apple Music and Google through the existence of its free access tier, an offering subsidized by advertising that accounts for a mere 10% of the platform’s annual revenue.

After reporting fiscal losses for the year of 2016 at approximately $637-million on a revenue of $3.4-billion, Spotify identified original video as a solution to the company’s losses. Whereas the majority of Spotify’s content requires royalties and other licensing costs to be paid in association with use of such content, original video would be license-free. Spotify’s efforts to develop original video series, however, have not been particularly fruitful, as users of the streaming service gravitate towards Spotify’s musical offerings, paying little mind to the platform’s original video innovations.

Despite the video productions’ lukewarm reception, Spotify has actively attempted to build its original video platform, striking licensing deals with networks like Comedy Central and ESPN. Spotify has also explored a documentary style approach to original video, producing series like Spotify Landmark and Flash Frame that air interviews with a variety of artists, including Blink-182 and Green Day.

While Spotify will not abandon its original video pursuits altogether, the platform will increasingly focus on developing video formats “unique” to the platform.

H/T: The Verge

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