Spotify tests voice-enabled advertisements in limited U.S. trial

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Spotify tests voice-enabled advertisements in limited U.S. trialSpotify Testing Skippable Ads

Streaming giant Spotify announced its launch of voice-enabled interactive advertisements on May 2—a move which reflects the company’s interest in bumping up investments into voice technology. The advertisements will encourage listeners to say a verbal command and direct them to either a branded Spotify playlist or podcast. Listeners have a short duration of time to say the phrase “play now” in order to to take action; any other spoken phrase will prompt the mic to turn off and the ad to resume its normal run.

The first two ads Spotify is testing come from Spotify Studios and Unilever’s Axe. The former will take users to the Spotify original podcast Stay Free: The Story of the Clash and the latter directs them to a Unilever Axe branded playlist. The ads will only be available to a limited subset of Spotify free listeners in the U.S. and those who enabled Spotify’s voice controls. Spotify’s research into voice technology echoes CEO Daniel Ek‘s belief that voice across all platforms, “are critical areas of growth, particularly for music and audio content” as well as their desire to capitalize on smart assistants and voice-enabled home devices. Further, the company wants to maximize their ability to reach users in a time where people are minimizing screen time and consciously picking up their devices less. Spotify isn’t the only streaming player to show interest; Pandora also confirmed it would begin testing interactive ads in 2019 as well.

H/T: TechCrunch

Sirius XM buys Pandora for $3 billion

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Sirius XM has signed on to purchase Pandora for $3 billion, further diversifying its offerings to online music streaming. The deal comes just one year later after the Sirius XM Holdings took an initial 19 percent stake in Pandora by investing $480 million into the company.

With this move, Sirius stands to make a major transition from streaming done mostly in the car – where most of its users listen – to on-demand music streaming where most activity is done at home or via a mobile device. It will also benefit both companies’ negotiating power with labels and other music-rights holders. While speculation can only confirm the future scaling of benefits available to both companies’ users, with Pandora’s user base of 74.7 million and Sirius XM’s paid subscriptions boasting 36 million users, the buyout will create a user base to rival Spotify, which leads in paid subscriptions at 83 million users as of June.

Once the deal goes through, the newly formed audio entity will be worth $30 billion, well competing with Spotify’s valuation of $23 billion after the company went public earlier this year.

H/T: The Wall Street Journal

SiriusXM To Acquire Pandora

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In a blockbuster deal sure to shake up car audio, SiriusXM announced on Monday that it will acquire Pandora in an all-stock transaction valued at $3.5 billion, creating an industry leading digital audio company with excess of $7 billion in expected pro-forma revenue this year. The companies said both popular services and brands — SiriusXM’s … More »

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.

Pandora adds personalized playlist feature

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Pandora has announced a new feature for its premium listeners: personalized playlists.

The streaming company is currently testing these playlists, which will be generated by a person’s listening habits over time. The songs will be automatically sorted into up to 60 different categories like “Your Party Soundtrack” or “Your Chill Soundtrack.”

The feature comes as a competitor to Spotify‘s customized playlists like Discover Weekly and Daily Mix. Pandora uses its Music Genome, which has been in use for more than a decade, to classify music across 450 different attributes to fit users’ moods, activities and genres. This information contributes to a series of more than 75 machine learning algorithms, collaborative filtering, and human curation to create the perfect playlist for its user.

The playlists will appear under the “browse” section in “featured playlists” on the mobile app. Pandora Premium is available for $9.99 a month.

H/T: The Verge

Spotify is testing a new Pandora-like playlist app

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spotify-stationsRemember the good ol’ days where the concept of “playlisting” didn’t exist aside from the “Top Tracks 2012” playlist someone spent hours creating in iTunes? This is when Pandora‘s non-interactive streaming service thrived in generating stations based on artist or genre, yet always creating chaos when an unstoppable ad came on. Now, with an on-demand streaming option, a recent acquisition by Sirius XM, and a ton of competitors, there’s no telling what the app’s future may hold, especially with a new Spotify app called Stations.

Stations is Spotify’s new take on non-interactive listening in the form of stations or playlists, described as “the easiest way to listen to the music you love. Totally free.” Currently, the ad-supported service is available exclusively for Android devices in Australia and not yet accessible in other territories. In the app’s description, the company explains that it plays music instantly when opened and can be changed by scrolling through other station options in large font. Similar to Spotify’s core algorithm, Stations will personalize your selection once it collects enough user data.

While Spotify claims it is simply testing a new product, this could take the Swedish entity one step closer to conquering the streaming market.

H/T: TechCrunch

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

Pandora To Host ‘Sounds Like You: NYC’ Free Concert With Nas, Young M.A & Dave East

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Taylor Swift’s Full Discography Is Back on Pandora and Spotify

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Taylor Swift has made up with a few of her exes, including Spotify and Pandora. Back in 2014, Swift decided to break up with Spotify and only allowed Apple to stream her album 1989. Earlier this week, Swift confirmed that her full catalog will return to all streaming platforms this Friday. Swift’s five albums including

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Pandora Predicts The Songs of the Summer 2017

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Each year, Pandora predicts what the songs expected to the most played songs of the summer. Like years prior, Pandora has announced their annual predictions for the top songs that will be the soundtrack to your summer. Pandora’s predictions for Summer 2017 include songs by Alessia Cara, Khalid, Charlie Puth, Selena Gomez, Imagine Dragons, Sam

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