Spotify now allows independent artists to publish music directly to the platform, effectively bypassing distributors

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Spotify now allows independent artists to publish music directly to the platform, effectively bypassing distributorsSpotify Testing Skippable Ads

Originally tested among a small sample size of independent artists, Spotify For Artists will now assume full functionality on September 20. New Spotify For Artists accounts will enable select independent artists who maintain their own copyrights and are not required to meet label or distribution agreements to directly upload their releases to the digital streaming platform. The feature allows the artists to immediately make new music available via the platform, or to alternatively schedule songs to go live at a predetermined time, but the central and, for Spotify, unprecedented liberty that the accounts extend to indie artists is the freedom to bypass music distributors, placing the musicians in control.

Spotify plans to extend a limited number of invitations to the Spotify For Artists accounts to a “few hundred U.S.-based independent artists.” Those interested in acquiring one of the accounts can sign up for a mailing list that will announce ensuing invites to come in the time that follows Spotify’s official launch of the new function. “We’ve focused on making the tool easy, flexible, and transparent,” Spotify For Artists’ Kene Anoliefo said. “There will be no limit or constraint on how often [artists] can upload. We think that can open up a really interesting creative space for artists to begin sharing their music to their fans on Spotify.” Artists who independently upload to Spotify will receive royalty payments through Stripe, and can expect to receive 50 percent of Spotify’s net revenue, as well as 100 percent of royalties on their own music.

Spotify For Artists effectively alters the process by which independent artists in charge of their own copyrights disseminate music and earn compensation. Spotify For Artists account represent a seamless all-in-one method by which to distribute music, track streams, in-app followers, royalties, and incoming payments from Spotify.

H/T: Billboard 

Apple to finalize acquisition of Shazam after EU closes investigation

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Apple to finalize acquisition of Shazam after EU closes investigationShazam App Apple Acquisition Dancing Astro

After almost one full year of buyer’s anticipation, Apple will now move to finalize its $400 million dollar acquisition of music-identification application, Shazam. A European Union-enacted investigation originally stalled Apple’s ability to complete the transaction, after a group of European countries including Austria, France, and Spain expressed concern that the tech goliath could endanger fellow competitors in the streaming service market if Apple were to use Shazam as a vehicle for the presentation of new features that would function in tandem with their rapidly growing streaming platform. “After thoroughly analyzing Shazam’s user and music data, we found that their acquisition by Apple would not reduce competition in the digital music streaming market,” European Commission leader Margrethe Vestager said.

Vestager also affirmed that Apple’s “access to Shazam’s data would not materially increase [their] ability to target music enthusiasts and any conduct aimed at making customers switch would only have a negligible impact,” signifying that Apple’s newfound ownership of Shazam would not constitute a staggering advantage of any sort for Apple. Apple Music boasts a current 50 million subscribers, while Shazam reportedly represents more than 120 million monthly users. Apple Music’s association with Shazam will, however, represent growth for the tech monolith as it obtains Shazam’s sizable user base’s data, and with it, Shazam’s illustrious audio recognition technology patents.

H/T: Rolling Stone

Spotify is now testing unlimited ad skips for free-tier users

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Spotify is now testing unlimited ad skips for free-tier usersSpotify Testing Skippable Ads

Spotify continues to tinker with its free-tier user experience by testing a new feature they’re calling “active media.” Non-premium members will be able to skip unlimited ads. The new feature would be rolled out with the aim of providing a more relevant experience for both users as advertisers. Users would effectively choose which ads appeal to them most, while advertisers would not be charged for any ads users choose to skip, ensuring their audience on the platform is more open to their message.

Although the streaming giant is currently limiting the feature’s test run to Australia, it appears likely that more users could gain this ability in the near future. A spokesperson for the company confirmed they “will consider expanding to additional markets in the future,” and remain “committed to our freemium model and will continue innovating our products to ensure the best experience on both our free and premium tiers.”

Spotify’s support of both subscription models isn’t shared by all. Billboard announced in May that it would begin weighing streams via paid subscriptions more heavily than streams via free, ad-supported accounts. Paid subscriptions require 1,250 streams to equal one album unit on the Billboard 200, while free-tier streams must total 3,750.

H/T: Pitchfork

Apple Music surpasses Spotify subscriber numbers in North America

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Apple Music surpasses Spotify subscriber numbers in North AmericaJess Watters 500955 Unsplash

Apple announced Q3 financial results on July 31, showing $53.3 billion in revenue. This presents a 17 percent year-over-year increase, marking the tech company’s best June quarter ever. CEO Tim Cook commented, “Our Q3 results were driven by continued strong sales of iPhone, Services and Wearables, and we are very excited about the products and services in our pipeline.”

“Our strong business performance drove revenue growth in each of our geographic segments, net income of $11.5 billion, and operating cash flow of $14.5 billion,” says Apple CFO Luca Maestri. “We returned almost $25 billion to investors through our capital return program during the quarter, including $20 billion in share repurchases.” iPhone sales increased 1 percent YOY bringing in $41.3 billion, whereas wearables and other products brought in $3.7 billion, a 37 percent increase YOY.

Apple Music received a nod, adding the streaming service has more than 50 million current subscribers and free trial users; Apple Music revenues grew more than 50 percent during the quarter. Cook mentioned this made Apple Music the market leader in North America (by a fraction) as both Spotify and Apple report around 20 million users in the region. The CEO also mentioned Apple is leading the global streaming leader in Japan.

Outside of China, there are less than 200 million people streaming around the world, so music streaming is still a growing market. Cook added, “But really the key thing in music is not the competition between the companies that are providing music, the real challenge is to grow the market. It does seem to me there’s an extraordinary opportunity in that business to grow the market well and I think if we put our emphasis there, which we’re doing, that we’ll be a beneficiary of that — as other people will as well.”

A major difference between Apple Music and Spotify is Apple does not have a free service beyond its three-month trial period.

H/T: Billboard

Photo credit: Jess Watters/Unsplash

Spotify now boasts 83 million subscribers, reports second quarter loss

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Spotify now boasts 83 million subscribers, reports second quarter lossGettyimages 474099442

At the end of 2018’s second fiscal quarter, Swedish streaming giant Spotify has shared new reports on the company’s performance since their debut on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this year. Boasting 83 million premium subscribers and 180 million monthly active users, Spotify will be looking to hold onto and expand their share of the market, though Apple Music has been providing some stiff competition in the US market this year.

Though the impressive 83 million paid subscribers is an increase of ten percent since last quarter and, at $1.49 billion, revenue is at an all time high, the company posted a loss of $461 million, over twice as much as their loss at this time last year. To Spotify’s credit, they claim that over $30 million of that loss came from the price of going public back in April. Even with these losses, Spotify’s stock price is steadily rising, likely thanks to the vast amounts of revenue, investment, and cash flow at the company’s fingertips. With online streaming platforms are consistently securing more listeners and paid subscribers, the DSP arms race remains a fascinating industry to watch unfold.

H/T: Billboard

The Music Modernization Act takes another step towards fair compensation for music curators

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The Music Modernization Act takes another step towards fair compensation for music curatorsJomar 271602 Unsplash

The Music Modernization Act (MMA) has passed unanimously in the Senate Judiciary Committee, taking music creators a step closer to appropriate licensing and royalty rules for the streaming era. It now has to pass a full Senate vote before hitting the president’s desk.

The music copyright overhaul essentially partners Apple Music, Spotify, and publishers under a single licensing agency, streamlining the license management process. Songwriters and accredited artists will be paid out for songs recorded before 1972, while new rights will be granted to music producers and mixers. Older musicians who missed the streaming boom and studio engineers look to benefit here in the form of royalty checks coming their way if passed.

One of the most important facets of the bill is an overall standardization of payment rates between distribution services and rights-holders. It’s about time music law addressed the streaming industry because the current system is still set up for physical music copies.

Although the MMA has received criticism for its lack of consideration towards medium-sized business, most in the industry are in favor, seeing this as a long-awaited, financial organization of the current music landscape. D.I.Y. musicians, and musicians who own their own rights might still have trouble policing ineffective or inefficient licensing practices. More established artists, publishers, studio producers, and labels labels will benefit, giving them more time to focus on creating music and less time worrying about licensing and royalty structures. It’s a step in the right direction on this long trek towards fair compensation for music creators.

H/T: Rolling Stone

Photo Credit: Jomar/Unsplash

‘What Would Diplo Do?’ is now streaming on Hulu

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What Would Diplo Do

Viceland’s original short What Would Diplo Do?, starring James Van Der Beek as Diplo and Dillon Francis as Diplo’s friend Jasper, is now streaming on Hulu. The show, which had also been streaming on Viceland for free prior to the Hulu addition, premiered last August as a hilarious tongue-in-cheek series offering a glimpse of “the life” of the superstar DJ.

In the time since the show’s aired, the Dawson’s Creek alum’s grade A impersonation has even seen great success on Twitter. James Van Der Beek’s @_diplo_Twitter handle has gone on to entertain an entire industry with witty criticism and clever comebacks.

Stream WWDD here.

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.

Global music revenues grew $1.4 billion in 2017

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Boutique media and technology analysis company MIDiA Research recently released a report indicating that global music revenues grew by $1.4 billion in 2017, ascending to $17.4 billion in trade values. 2016’s revenues weighed in at $16 billion, signaling an annual growth rate of 8.5% between years. Although 2017’s revenues registered just under the $17.7 billion charted in 2008, the figure nonetheless underscores the music industry’s fiscal expansion.

Much of the growth can be attributed to music streaming, responsible for a 39% year-on-year revenue increase. Streaming additionally pulled in $2.1 billion, putting streaming at the $7.4 billion mark, causing streaming to represent almost half of all revenues.

Universal, Sony, and Warner Music lead the market at $5.1 million, $3.6 million, and $3.1 million respectively, or 29.7%, 22.1%, and 18% of all revenues, individually. Independent labels raked in $4.7 million in revenues, 27.6% of the whole picture. Direct distribution platforms geared towards independent artists like TuneCore, CD Baby, and Bandcamp accounted for the “fastest growing segment” in 2017, recording a year-on-year growth of 27.2%. Altogether, three companies collected $472 million in revenue, an increase that exceeds $100 million when compared to the $371 million that the entities garnered in 2016. When evaluated in tandem with independent labels, artist direct signify 30.3% of global recorded music revenues in 2017.


As the report signals, the music market is ever ebbing and flowing in its course. The statistics from MIDiA’s research are represented in a graphic that visually outlines the report’s musically focused findings.

H/T: DJ Mag

Spotify stock opens at $165.90, giving streaming giant opening value of $29.5 billion

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SPOT-IPO (1)

Spotify made a splash with its long-awaited debut on the public market, opening at $165.90 a share, placing the company’s valuation at $29.5 billion — up significantly from their $8.5 billion valuation back in 2015. Opening figures turned out to be considerably higher than projected numbers from last month when privately traded stocks were going for as high as $132.50 a share. The Swedish streaming titan, trading as SPOT, is now on pace to be the third-highest U.S.-listed tech IPO in history, trumped only by Alibaba Group Holdings’ $233.9 billion and Facebook’s $81.74 billion. For its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, Spotify opted to circumvent the traditional IPO for a direct listing, which comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

With a rare direct listing, Spotify is avoiding investment-banking underwriters and instead choosing not to raise any money for itself. The move effectively saved Spotify millions of dollars in fees, while still allowing early investors the opportunity to cash out. However, without any intermediaries, investors don’t have the common protections allowed in a typical IPO. This could be risky with the recent downturn of tech stocks accross the board as the market aims to find a stable price for Spotify shares.

Spotify’s IPO paperwork reveals that the digital streaming leader is burning through heaps of cash, clocking revenue last year nearing $5 billon, but posting a net loss of nearly $1.5 billion. Thanks to the emergence of licensing deals with major labels, Spotify is able to reduce royalty payouts, contributing to a growing gross margin. Even with Spotify’s closest competitor, Apple Music, in close pursuit in the U.S. market, Spotify is projecting a $6.6 billion revenue bump by the end of 2018, up 30 percent from last year’s total. Digital streaming has undoubtedly changed the music consumption landscape in recent years. Now the digital streaming landscape could experience it’s own seismic shifts as Spotify officially plants its flag on the NYSE.