The fight to be crowned king of streaming continues as Spotify and Apple Music duke it out March 13. The most recent development comes after Spotify founder Daniel Ek and his team filed a complaint against Apple alleging “unfair advantages” in regards to Apple’s App Store. After “careful consideration” and what seems like previous efforts to resolve the conflict with Apple, the Spotify team proceeded forward with the European Commission.
Spotify’s complaint centers around the issue of Apple’s App Store policies and logistics that would require Spotify to pay a supplementary tax and subsequently inflate the membership price above that of Apple Music.
“Apple requires that Spotify and other digital services pay a 30 percent tax on purchases made through Apple’s payment system, including upgrading from our free to our premium service,” Ek said. “If we pay this tax, it would force us to artificially inflate the price of our premium membership well above the price of Apple Music. And to keep our price competitive for our customers, that isn’t something we can do.”
The Spotify founder also pointed out discrepancies where apps like Uber were not affected by Apple’s tax policies, noting that “app stores should not be allowed to control the communications between services and users, including placing unfair restrictions on marketing and promotions that benefit consumers.”
Ek made it clear that this is not a “Spotify-versus-Apple issue,” but rather an issue about “competition on the merits.”
The music industry has been dancing on the precipice of a sweeping streaming takeover for years. According to a recent report from the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA), that transition was solidified with a reported music streaming growth of 30% in 2018 alone.
The $7.4 billion in categorical revenue came from predicted streaming mammoths like Spotify and YouTube, as well as digital radio hubs like Pandora and SiriusXM. The music business at large was heftily bolstered by paid subscriptions to these streaming domains, accounting for over half the industry’s yearly takeaway for the first time ever.
While digital downloads in recent years accounted for nearly half of industry sales, it spent 2018 continuing its swift decline, finishing with approximately $1 billion in total revenue, dropping a sizable 25% from 2017, and garnering just 11% of the industry pie. Mirroring downloads is physical sales, down 23% in 2018 alone, with $1.15 billion in sales.
A bright spot for the latter sector, however, came in the form of a firm incline in vinyl sales, which saw its most profitable year ($419 million) since 1988, which should come as no surprise to those who’ve been tuning in to industry trends of the past decade or so.
To commemorate the festival’s landmark 15-year anniversary and cater to ever-mounting live-streaming demand, Tomorrowland has implemented a new multi-purpose streaming platform, One World Radio, accessible through its official website.
In addition to providing accessibility to live sets, the station will host a variety of exclusive mixes and special guest appearances. One World has secured Armin van Buuren as a station regular, locking him in for one weekly prime-time mix every Friday, while Aussie sister duo, Nervo, will host a Top 30 segment, fleshing out the People of Tomorrow-curated hottest tracks of the week.
To bolster the launch, Tomorrowland organizers invited Steve Aoki, who is also performing at this year’s installment, to spin a 15-minute set on the festival’s home turf, in Boom, Belgium. Eric Prydz, Nina Kraviz, Alesso, and The Chainsmokers are just a few of the most illustrious faces on the 2019 lineup, which exceeds 1000 artists throughout its two-weekend duration: July 19-21 and starting back up July 26-28. Tickets to Tomorrowland are completely sold out.
Authorities in Norway are now investigating TIDAL over the alleged streaming number inflations that came to light back in 2016. The Jay-Z-owned company that has long been under speculation and scrutiny now faces an investigation led by the Norwegian Authority for Investigation of Economic and Environmental Crime, also known as Økokrim, according to a report from Bloombergquint.
In March of 2016, TIDALreported that Kanye West‘s The Life Of Pablo, which was exclusively released on TIDAL, earned 250 million streams in 10 days. At the time, the streaming service claimed they had more than 3 million people subscribed. Those numbers would infer that every TIDAL subscriber was playing The Life Of Pablo more than eight times a day. After TIDAL reported Beyoncé‘s record-breaking album Lemonade was streamed 306 million times in just 15 days after its release, Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv raised their eyebrows and began to look closer. After January 2017 investigation, the major accusation was that “Beyoncé’s and Kanye West’s listener numbers on TIDAL have been manipulated to the tune of several hundred million false plays… which has generated massive royalty payouts at the expense of other artists.”
TIDAL has called Dagens Næringsliv’s reporting a “smear campaign” in the past and hired a third party to investigate what it is calling a data breach. After the Bloombergquint report, a TIDAL representative was reached by Complex and stated, “TIDAL is not a suspect in the investigation. We are communicating with Økokrim. From the very beginning, [Dagens Næringsliv] has quoted documents that they have not shared with us in spite of repeated requests. DN has repeatedly made claims based on information we believe may be falsified. We are aware that at least one person we suspected of theft has been questioned. We cannot comment further at this time and refer to our previous statement, which still stands.”
According to IFPI’s 2018 Global Music Report, streaming accounted for 38.4 percent of total music revenue and grew 41.1 percent from the previous year. Streaming’s global influence on the industry continues to grow and evolve is already a multi-billion dollar industry despite what seems to be a lack of regulation.
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is back to dominating the headlines thanks to an all-encompassing, star-abundant collection of artists who will be performing at the 2019 iteration of the Indio, CA-based music festival. The next chapter of the legendary soiree has not met the media’s gaze without its fair share of controversy, mainly Kanye West dropping out of the lineup due to what he recently referred to as “artistically limiting” stage design.
On a brighter note, 2019 will be the first year fans will be able to live stream the festival for both weekend one and two. In previous years, fans were limited to the festival’s first weekend exclusively for streaming capabilities. Now fans across the world will be able to watch back-to-back weekends of acts including DJ Snake, Kayzo, Bassnectar, Ariana Grande, and more. The live streaming for Coachella 2019 commences the first weekend, April 12th-14th, rolling all the way through to the next, which spans April 19th-21st.
Photo Credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella
The designation is affirmed by a comprehensive year-end report published by market monitor BuzzAngle, which tracks music consumption data. Far from a fad, hip-hop comes out on top again as the most streamed genre this year, with rap singles consuming 24.7 percent of the streaming market in 2018, or a quarter of all streamed tracks for the year. 2018 shows continued year over year growth for the genre, which previously consumed 20.9 percent of single streams in 2017. The report categorizes urban songs as a combination of rap, hip-hop, and R&B, all amounting to the country’s most streamed genre, beating out pop music three years in a row.
Other trends that have emerged are the rise of pop and the decline of rock. In 2017, rock was right behind hip-hop with a 19.8 percent consumption share, while in 2018, pop overtook rock to take a 19 percent market share. Rock precipitously declined to only a 11.7 percent market share in 2018, even in a year when highly marketable albums from Greta Van Fleet, Smashing Pumpkins, and Stone Temple Pilots among others saw major label releases.
These trends are similarly reflected in album streaming patterns for 2017 and 2018. Although rock album streams superseded rap album streams in 2017, 2018 was a year of major growth for hip-hop and a considerable decline for rock. In a year when everyone from Travis Scott to The Carters, Drake to Anderson .Paak dropped full-length projects, it comes as no surprise that hip-hop dominated nearly a quarter of the streaming market in 2018.
2018 was undoubtedly the Year of Drake. The Toronto-native rhymer managed to plant himself in the headlines all year long, from rap beef and juicy drama to the year’s most ubiquitous album, and a handful of broken records to boot. Now, as the year draws to a close, Apple Music and Spotify have both released their top album and artist statistics, and unsurprisingly, Drake occupies both lists with a dominating presence.
Apple’s official rankings for top songs of the year include three Drake cuts, the inescapable “God’s Plan,” New Orleans bounce anthem “Nice For What,” and viral sensation “In My Feelings.” Drake’s Scorpionalso deservedly took home the top album designation, beating out Cardi B, Post Malone, and Travis Scott‘s hugely successful LP drops this year. Spotify’s official year end numbers mirror Apple’s, with Dua Lipa, Ariana Grande, and Ed Sheeran in contention as well. Spotify’s year end totals also claim Drake’s music was streamed a cumulative 8.2 billion times on the platform this year.
Spotify continues its worldwide takeover, furthering its reach by launching services in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
As of November 13, users can access Spotify in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories and Egypt. Countries including Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen are not part of the new services. Spotify launched in Israel earlier this year.
The music streaming service been available unofficially in the Middle East for years via accounts registered to other regions. This, however, makes it official.
“Spotify is launching in MENA with a full Arabic service, dozens of locally curated playlists for every mood and moment, and access to a full catalog of millions of songs, for both our free and premium users,” global head of markets Cecilia Qvist said in a statement.
The service will cost about half of the $9.99 users in the United States pay: 19.99 United Arab Emirates dirhams in the UAE, SAR 19.99 Saudi riyals in Saudi Arabia, 49.99 Egyptian pounds in Egypt, and $4.99 in the rest of the MENA region.
It’s been a rocky couple of years for SoundCloud to say the least. The platform is an undisputed facet of dance music’s rise and directly helped bring exposure and breaks to artists too numerous to name. Despite this, there were whispers the streaming giant was on the ropes last year, before they thankfully put them to rest. With Spotify quickly rising to the forefront of the streaming economy, the onus has been on SoundCloud to reinvigorate its status as a service built for music creators. Despite a flurry of shiny new updates like Instagram stories integration, the fine print in the platform’s recent artist contract reveals some deeply troubling pitfalls for unsuspecting musicians.
The two largest black marks in the usual mountain of legalese can be boiled down to two wince-worthy truths. First, although SoundCloud touts its revenue split as the strongest in streaming, they can change pretty much anything they want in terms of when, how, and how much artists get paid at their discretion – which leads worryingly into the second bombshell. Regardless of the non-exclusive nature of the artist agreement, artists taking part effectively sign away any ability to ever take legal action against the Soundcloud. The combination essentially grants SoundCloud the freedom to change anything and everything they want about the contract in the future on the fly, even if it’s an exceedingly raw deal for artists, and guarantee zero repercussions. The situation is a troubling one for the wide array of creators who continue to find their footing in the SoundCloud ecosystem.
According to a new consumer report, music listeners devour nearly 18 hours of music per week on average — about half of a full-time job.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is the non-profit institution that represents the recording industry worldwide. They recently released their annual music consumption report, noting the 17.8 hours a week consumers listen to music mostly happens in the car. This makes sense when thinking about daily routine commutes back and forth without audio, which sounds like torture.
The report also showed 86 percent of the listeners tested use an on-demand streaming service such as Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube. Fifty-seven percent of users who pay for these streaming services are between the ages of 16 and 24 years old, suggesting it’s mostly young drivers listening to Spotify, Apple, or YouTube on their commute to school or work.
IFPI CEO Frances Moor says the report “tells the story of how recorded music is woven into the lives of fans around the world. As it becomes increasingly accessible, it continues to be embraced across formats, genres and technologies.”