Apple eyes expansion of original podcast material, moves to make deals with media companies

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Apple eyes expansion of original podcast material, moves to make deals with media companiesApple Music Interface

Apple will reportedly aim to expand its podcast platform by licensing exclusive and original podcasts, to “pursue the kind of deals it didn’t make before,” according to Bloomberg. The financially focused news outlet additionally claimed that Apple executives have already begun to open dialogues with media companies to discuss buying exclusive rights to podcast programming.

Apple’s Podcasts app for iPhone and iPad has been in existence since 2012. To date, Apple has facilitated the platform in a mostly passive manner: although the tech giant has hosted podcasts for years, it has not actively invested in original podcasts or devised plans to roll out its own content via Podcast to any great extent. By contrast, Apple Music competitor, Spotify, pledged up to $500 million to the development of podcasts and even recently struck a multi-year deal with Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, which will produce podcast content for the Swedish streaming giant. Spotify additionally owns podcasting firms Gimlet Media, Parcast, and Anchor.

Spotify isn’t alone in its effort to expand its podcast content. Not long after it acquired Pandora, SiriusXM instituted the music streaming service’s first-ever content team, which will devote its creative energy to the development of Pandora’s own original podcast material. Moreover, Apple, Spotify, and SiriusXM alike are interested in striking podcast partnerships with prominent artists.

The entities’ commitment to not only broadening their respective platforms’ podcasting content, but to conceptualizing podcasts specific to their own brands is timely, to say the least. The podcast’s rise in popularity reflects in Edison Research’s 2019 Infinite Dial Survey, which found that more than 50 percent of Americans aged 12 or older have listened to a podcast. Edison Research noted that this is the very first time that this figure has ever surpassed the halfway mark. One-third of the United States population—90 million listeners—meanwhile stated that they’d streamed a podcast in the last month, comprising 40 percent of American youths aged 12 to 24.  

H/T: Billboard

Spotify launches new Spotify Lite platform in 36 countries

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Spotify launches new Spotify Lite platform in 36 countriesSPOTIFY LITE Header

36 countries will serve as test grounds for Spotify Lite—a data, storage, and battery-sensitive alternative to Spotify’s fully fledged music streaming service. Spotify Lite, which first debuted in Brazil during the summer of 2018, uses no more than 10 MB of listeners’ smartphone and tablet storage space.

According to the Swedish streaming giant, the lite version of the application also requires less battery life, as several features characteristic of the original Spotify, like Connect, are not available on Spotify Lite. Users are also not able to enact advanced searches; the new Lite’s platform’s search function only furnishes links to albums and playlists, thereby enabling the alternative version to use less battery. Spotify Lite’s provision of lower-quality audio is one additional adjustment that leads to the app’s decreased battery use.

In contrast to the regular Spotify platform, Spotify Lite necessitates a minimal amount of data, and offers lite streamers an unprecedented amount of control over their monthly data usage. Spotify Lite downloaders can set a monthly mobile data cap for the app. Cap options include 250 MB, 500 MB, 750 MB, 1 GB, 2 GB, and 3 GB. App users will receive a push notification when they reach their predetermined data limit.

“With Spotify Lite, you can easily control your data and storage. It’s only 10 MB, so it’s quick to install and load while offering the same great listening experience that lets you discover, play, and enjoy millions of songs,” Spotify staff noted in a blog post featured on the company website.

Spotify Lite is currently only available on Android devices. The music streaming giant has not yet announced whether it would develop a lite edition of its flagship application for iOS.

Spotify rescinds its direct-upload program for artists

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Spotify rescinds its direct-upload program for artistsScreen Shot 2017 08 02 At 3.34.49 PM

Spotify announced the termination of its direct-upload program after rolling out the beta platform in September 2018. This directly affects artists who were using the program to directly upload tracks to Spotify. Now, artists have to use the streaming platform’s distribution partners such as Distrokid, CD Baby, Tunecore, Ditto, Stem, and others; thus paying a fee to upload music.

In a statement by Spotify, they’ve publicly rationalized the decision as support for their distribution partners that are already in place to serve the artist community and quality control, helping protect other artists from copyright infringement.

Artists who’ve already taken advantage of the self-distribution beta and gained high play counts and playlist placements have before July 30 to chose an approved distributor. Spotify is working closely with the distributors to ensure no valuable data is lost and are encouraging artists whose lives were enriched by the fleeting guise of independence to use Spotify for Artists and their playlist submission tool for a more hands-on resources for Spotify uploads.

H/T: Highsnobiety

Spotify’s New Playlists For Drivers Basically Amount To FM Radio

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SpotifySpotify has basically invented drive-time FM radio. The Verge reports that the streaming platform is launching a new playlist aimed at commuters called Your Daily Drive, which combines a personalized music playlist with short-form updates from news podcasts. More »

Spotify tests new ‘social listening’ feature

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Spotify tests new ‘social listening’ featureScreen Shot 2018 01 02 At 7.21.37 PM

The competition among music streaming services is growing fiercer as traditional forms of music consumption dwindle. Major players like Spotify have to continually up the ante with what they offer subscribers, and the Swedish company is now testing their latest feature: social listening.

Spotify has been at the forefront in terms of integrating social media into their platform. They made sharing music easier than ever by providing specific links for platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp, Messages, and even universal shareable links. Subscribers can also, follow, make, and edit playlists together. Now, with social listening, subscribers can listen to music simultaneously.

The feature is only being tested by Spotify employees at this time, so there aren’t many specifics surrounding the service for regular subscribers. A software engineer named Jane Manchun Wong unveiled the feature to the general public. She found it by searching through the application’s code and laid out her findings in a series of tweets.

Apparently there will be a new button marked “Connect With Friends” that will reveal a QR code. Once the code is scanned the two accounts are connected and will be able to listen to music together. From there, all accounts that have scanned the code will be on a list called “Already Connected” and will be able to use the feature at will.

H/T: Hypebeast

Orbit Playlist: Opiuo lays it the funk down before heading back to Lightning In A Bottle

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Orbit Playlist: Opiuo lays it the funk down before heading back to Lightning In A BottleOpiuo Press Shot 1 1 1

Bass breeder of a most funk-infused variety, Opiuo has cooked up a special playlist for Dancing Astronaut ahead of his performance at central California’s next round of Lightning In A Bottle festival, on May 8.

The New Zealand-born, Australian resident, Opiuo takes listeners through the chromatic length of his aural crates, with tracks spanning tender, melodic house (Lane 8‘s “Atlas”) to foreboding mid-tempo electro (1788-L‘s “Cyberspace”). Like-minded funk and experimental bass producers run abound, with additional offerings from CloZee, G Jones, Big Gigantic, and of course, some innovative firepower from Opiuo himself to adequately ready Lightning In A Bottle attendees for a splendidly strange DJ set.

I’m so excited to be back at Lightning In A Bottle, one of my favourite festivals in North America,” says Opiuo. “Here are a bunch of songs I love from a bunch of friends and legends playing on the weekend. You can expect a tonne of brand new music from me on the night as we dance away into the bass heavy funkadelicoblivion.

Tickets to Lightning In A Bottle, held at Buena Vista Lake, as well as general festival information, can be found here.

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

Amazon prepares to launch high-definition streaming service

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Amazon prepares to launch high-definition streaming serviceAmazon Echo

Shortly after launching its free music streaming service on April 18, Amazon continues its foray into the streaming industry with plans to launch a high-fidelity music streaming platform. The biggest players in high-definition streaming currently are TIDAL and Deezer, both of which offer streams at 44.1 kHz / 16 bit for $19.99 per month. TIDAL additionally offers a “Masters” quality, which encompasses thousands of albums at 96 kHz / 24 bit, made possible by its partnership with MQA.

Reports say that Amazon has already secured the potential licensing from one major record label while in talks with other large music-rights holders. The new tier is presumed to be around $15 per month and expected to launch before the end of 2019. With the entry of hi-def service, Amazon will essentially cover every tier of recorded music in both streaming and physical products like merchandise, vinyl, and CDs. As of now, Amazon’s digital music services include its free Alexa streaming, Prime membership-catalog, and on-demand access via Amazon Music Unlimited. While Spotify and Apple Music have yet to make moves on the hi-def streaming space, Amazon’s strategic ventures into the music space may give it leverage to leaving to compete for a spot as one of the biggest music subscription streaming platforms globally.

H/T: Music Business Worldwide

Spotify hits 100 million paid subscribers

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Spotify hits 100 million paid subscribersScreen Shot 2017 08 02 At 3.34.49 PM

Months after adding several new regions of the world to its service area, Spotify is celebrating hitting 100 million paid subscribers.

In its first-quarter earnings report released on April 29, the Swedish company announced that it had surpassed 100 million paid subscribers at the end of March. This number remains well above its closest competitor, Apple Music, which reported 50 million subscribers at the end of 2018. The report also noted a 32-percent growth in subscribers and a 26-percent increase in total monthly active users, year over year.

Spotify added services in India, the Middle East, and North Africa earlier this year, growing its presence to 79 countries. While Spotify continues to dominate overall worldwide, Apple Music is still ahead of its biggest competitor in the United States with 28 million paid users reported in early April.

Read the full earnings report here.

H/T: CNet

Spotify Hits 100M Paid Users, Twice As Many As Apple Music

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Music streaming service Spotify says its paying subscribers have reached 100 million for the first time, up 32% on the year and almost twice the latest figures for Apple Music. The Stockholm-based company called the figure, which was reached during the first three months of 2019, “an important milestone.” The growth was driven, among other … More »