TIDAL reportedly under investigation for inflated streaming data

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TIDAL reportedly under investigation for inflated streaming dataTidal

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, TIDAL reported 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.

H/T: Spin

Fans will now be able to livestream both weekends of Coachella on YouTube for the first time

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Fans will now be able to livestream both weekends of Coachella on YouTube for the first timeBeyonce Coachella 2018 Live

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

 

Hip-hop is America’s genre — accounts for nearly a quarter of all U.S. music streams in 2018

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Hip-hop is America’s genre — accounts for nearly a quarter of all U.S. music streams in 2018Travis Scott Live 2

Hip-hop is indisputably America’s genre.

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.

Via Rolling Stone

Drake dominates both Spotify and Apple Music’s 2018 stats

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Drake dominates both Spotify and Apple Music’s 2018 statsDrake Getty

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 Scorpion also 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.

That’s a wrap on another marquee year for Drake.

Spotify launches in the Middle East, North Africa

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Spotify launches in the Middle East, North AfricaSpotify

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.

H/T: Billboard

SoundCloud’s updated artist contract is seriously troubling for music creators

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SoundCloud’s updated artist contract is seriously troubling for music creatorsSoundcloud Artist Agreement Raw Deal

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.

H/T: The Verge

New study shows music is an integral part of our lives

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New study shows music is an integral part of our livesEric Ward 250010 Unsplash

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.”

H/T: DJ Mag

Photo credit: Eric Ward/Unsplash

China’s largest streaming service, Tencent, goes public on NYSE

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China’s largest streaming service, Tencent, goes public on NYSETencent Media2

Tencent Music Entertainment has officially gone public in the United States. China’s leading music-streaming company operates three of China’s largest digital services: QQ Music, Kuwo and KuGou. They also have their hands on a karaoke app, WeSing. In total, the company has amassed more than 800 million monthly active users.

Total revenue of the company in 2017 was reportedly $1.66 billion, and 2018 plans to see even bigger returns. The IPO values the company around $30 billion, according to expert analysts, which is comparable to Spotify‘s $29.5 billion evaluation when the Swedish streaming giant went public earlier this year. Spotify is now currently valued at $32 billion.

There’s a noticeable difference between the two competing, yet complementary, streaming companies. While Spotify, who owns nine percent of Tencent from a share swap earlier in 2018, has been losing money year after year because of their cheap product and large royalty payouts, Tencent has been largely profitable for the last two years. A reasoning for this is Tencent Holdings diverse portfolio of other digital businesses such as a gaming platform, social network and the popular messaging app, WeChat. Spotify simply focuses on music streaming.

QQ Music has multiple entertainment experience offering including listening subscriptions, concert tickets and exclusive song downloads. Online music services accounted for only 29.6 percent of TME’s revenues in the first half of 2018. Other social entertainment services such as in-car audio, event ticketing, online karaoke and sales of headphones and karaoke microphones, made up the other 70.4 percent. These numbers will be closely watched by investors interested in the music space.

H/T: Rolling Stone

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