Apple Music streaming revenue detailed in letter to artists

Streaming revenue has been a longtime concern for musicians, especially those scraping by in the wake of an industry-wide implosion of record labels. Of course, a year that has made touring an impossibility has only brought those issues into starker relief as the primary revenue source for many has completely dried up.

Apple is hoping to clarify some of the major questions around streaming revenue in a letter it sent to artists. The note, reported by The Wall Street Journal, outlines a revenue that amounts to around double what Spotify pays out.

“As the discussion about streaming royalties continues, we believe it is important to share our values,” the company notes. “We believe in paying every creator the same rate, that a play has a value, and that creators should never have to pay for featuring music in prime display space on its service.”

The company’s comment is a clear shot at Spotify’s much more varied payment model. What that actually works out to at the end of the day, however, is a slightly more complicated question. Things start at around a penny-per-stream (though it can go down from there). That amount is paid out to rights holders — be they record labels or publishers. It’s another in a long line of issues that have led many musicians to question the efficacy of intermediaries in 2021.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek fanned the flames in an interview last year, stating, “Some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape, where you can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough.”

At the end of the day, it’s a battle of pennies — or fractions thereof, for many artists. And it has become immensely difficult for mid-tier and truly independent artists to maintain a living as the world has shifted to a streaming model. Services like Bandcamp and Soundcloud have worked to make things more manageable for smaller artists, but the life of a modern musician remains a struggle — especially in the age of COVID-19.

 

#apple, #apple-music, #media, #spotify

0

Sales scheduling platform Chili Piper raises $33M Series B funding led by Tiger Global

Chili Piper, which has a sophisticated SaaS appointment scheduling platform for sales teams, has raised a $33 million B round led by Tiger Global. Existing investors Base10 Partners and Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI-focused VC) also participated. This brings the company’s total financing to $54 million. The company will use the capital raised to accelerate product development. The previous $18M A round was led by Base10 and Google’s Gradient Ventures 9 months ago.

It’s main competitor is Calendly, started 21/2 years previously, which recently achieved a $3Bn valuation.

Launched in 2016, Chili Piper’s software for B2B revenue teams is designed to convert leads into attended meetings. Sales teams can also use it to book demos, increase inbound conversion rates, eliminate manual lead routing, and streamline critical processes around meetings. It’s used by Intuit, Twilio, Forrester, Spotify, and Gong.

Chili Piper has a number of different tools for businesses to schedule and calendar accountments, but its key USP is in its use by ‘inbound SDR Sales Development Representatives (SDR)’, who are responsible for qualifying inbound sales leads. It’s particularly useful in scheduling calls when customers hit websites ask for a salesperson to call them back.

Nicolas Vandenberghe, CEO, and co-founder of Chili Piper said: “When we started we sold the house and decided to grow the company ourselves. So all the way until 2019 we bootstrapped. Tiger gave us a valuation that we expected to get at the end of this year, which will help us accelerate things much faster, so we couldn’t refuse it.”

Alina Vandenberghe, CPO, and Co-founder said: “We’re proud to have so many customers scheduling meetings and optimizing their calendars with Chili Piper’s Instant Booker.”

The husband-and-wife founded company has was fully remote from day one, with 93 employees in 81 cities and 21 countries, long before the pandemic hit.

John Curtius, Partner at Tiger Global said: “When we met Nicolas and Alina, we were fired up by their product vision and focus on customer happiness.”

TJ Nahigian, Managing Partner at Base10 Partners, added: “We originally invested in Chili Piper because we knew customers needed ways to add fire to how they connected with inbound leads. We’ve been absolutely blown away with the progress over the past year, 2020 has been a step-change for this company as business went remote.”

#artificial-intelligence, #base10-partners, #co-founder, #europe, #food-and-drink, #forrester, #gradient-ventures, #intuit, #lead-generation, #managing-partner, #marketing, #sales, #spotify, #tc, #tiger-global, #twilio

0

Pale Blue Dot aims to be Europe’s premier early-stage climate investor and has $100 million to prove it

When Hampus Jakobsson, Heidi Lindvall, and Joel Larsson, all well-known players in the European venture ecosystem, began talking about their new firm Pale Blue Dot, they began by looking at the problems with venture capital.

For the three entrepreneurs and investors, whose resumes included co-founding companies and accelerators like The Astonishing Tribe (Jakobsson) and Fast Track Malmö (Lindvall and Larsson) and working as a venture partner at BlueYard Capital (Jakobsson again), the problems were clear.

Their first thesis was that all investment funds should be impact funds, and be taking into account ways to effect positive change; their second thesis was that since all funds should be impact funds, what would be their point of differentiation — that is, where could they provide the most impact.

The three young investors hit on climate change as the core mission and ran with it.

As it was closing on €53 million ($63.3 million) last year, the firm also made its first investments in Phytoform, a London headquartered company creating new crops using computational biology and synbio; Patch, a San Francisco-based carbon-offsetting platform that finances both traditional and frontier “carbon sequestration” methods; and 20tree.ai, an Amsterdam-based startup, using machine learning and satellite data to understand trees to lower the risk of forest fires and power outages.

Now they’ve raised another €34 million and seven more investments on their path to doing between 30 and 35 deals.

These investments primarily focus on Europe and include Veat, a European vegetarian prepared meal company; Madefrom, a still-in-stealth company angling to make everyday products more sustainable; HackYourCloset, a clothing rental company leveraging fast fashion to avoid landfilling clothes; Hier, a fresh food delivery service; Cirplus, a marketplace for recycled plastics trading; and Overstory, which aims to prevent wildfires by giving utilities a view into vegetation around their assets. 

The team expects to be primarily focused on Europe, with a few opportunistic investments in the U.S., and intends to invest in companies that are looking to change systems rather than directly affect consumer behavior. For instance, a Pale Blue Dot investment likely wouldn’t include e-commerce filters for more sustainable shopping, but potentially could include investments in sustainable consumer products companies.

The size of the firm’s commitments will range up to €1 million and will look to commit to a lot of investments. That’s by design, said Jakobsson. “Climate is so many different fields that we didn’t want to do 50% of the fund in food or 50% of the fund in materials,” he said. Also, the founders know their skillsets, which are primarily helping early stage entrepreneurs scale and making the right connections to other investors that can add value.

“In every deal we’ve gotten in co-investors that add particular, amazing, value while we still try to be the shepherds and managers and sherpas,” Jakobsson said. “We’re the ones that are going to protect the founder from the hell-rain of investor opinions.”

Another point of differentiation for the firm are its limited partners. Jakobsson said they rejected capital from oil companies in favor of founders and investors from the tech community that could add value. These include Prima Materia, the investment vehicle for Spotify founder Daniel Ek; the founders of Supercell, Zendesk, TransferWise and DeliveryHero are also backing the firm. So too, is Albert Wenger, a managing partner at Union Square Ventures.

The goal, simply, is to be the best early stage climate fund in Europe.

“We want to be the European climate fund,” Lindvall said. “This is where we can make most of the difference.” 

#albert-wenger, #amsterdam, #blueyard-capital, #corporate-finance, #daniel-ek, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #finance, #food, #hampus-jakobsson, #heidi-lindvall, #investment, #joel-larsson, #london, #machine-learning, #managing-partner, #money, #oil, #pale-blue-dot, #partner, #private-equity, #san-francisco, #spotify, #supercell, #tc, #transferwise, #union-square-ventures, #united-states, #venture-capital, #zendesk

0

Daily Crunch: Spotify unveils an in-car entertainment system

Spotify wants to have a bigger presence in your car, Apple hints at iPad-centric announcements and Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop goes on sale. This is your Daily Crunch for April 13, 2021.

The big story: Spotify unveils an in-car entertainment system

Spotify’s new device is the oddly (but memorably!) named Car Thing. While there are plenty of other ways to listen to Spotify while driving, the company said this will provide a “more seamless” and personalized experience. Car Thing includes a touchscreen, a navigation knob, voice control and preset buttons to access your favorite music, podcasts and playlists.

This is actually an updated version of an in-car device that Spotify started testing a couple years ago. While Spotify is now making Car Thing available more broadly, it sounds like the company still views this as a bit of an experiment — during this limited U.S. release, it’s available for free, with users just paying for the cost of shipping.

The tech giants

Apple’s next event is April 20 — Invites for its “Spring Loaded” event went out today, sporting what appears to be a doodle drawn on an iPad.

Microsoft’s latest Surface Laptop goes on sale this week, starting at $999 — Sometimes the classics are classics for a reason.

Facebook, Instagram users can now ask ‘oversight’ panel to review decisions not to remove content — The move expands the Oversight Board’s remit beyond reviewing (and mostly reversing) content takedowns.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Fortnite-maker Epic completes $1B funding round — The company is amassing a large portfolio of titles through acquisitions, a trend that is almost certain to continue with this latest massive round.

Home gym startup Tempo raises $220M to meet surge in demand for its workout device — Tempo’s freestanding cabinet, which the company launched in February 2020, includes a 42-inch touchscreen with a 3D motion-tracking camera that consistently scans, tracks and coaches users as they work out.

ConsenSys raises $65M from JP Morgan, Mastercard, UBS to build infrastructure for DeFi — The fundraise looks like a highly strategic one, based around the idea that traditional institutions will need visibility into the increasingly influential world of “decentralized finance.”

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

What’s fueling hydrogen tech? — In 2021, the world may be ready for hydrogen.

Five product lessons to learn before you write a line of code — To uncover some basic truths about building products, we spoke to three entrepreneurs who have each built more than one company.

Expect an even hotter AI venture capital market in the wake of the Microsoft-Nuance deal — The $19.7 billion transaction is Microsoft’s second-largest to date, only beaten by its purchase of LinkedIn.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Republican antitrust bill would block all big tech acquisitions — There are about to be a lot of antitrust bills taking aim at big tech.

Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 is filling up fast — If you’re busy shoving envelopes and busting down boundaries, don’t miss your chance to exhibit in Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 in September.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

#automotive, #daily-crunch, #hardware, #media, #spotify

0

Spotify launches its in-car entertainment system ‘Car Thing’ in U.S.

Spotify this morning officially announced the limited U.S. release of its first hardware device, the oddly named Car Thing, aimed at Spotify Premium subscribers. The new device — which Spotify is surprisingly offering for free plus shipping — has evolved substantially from the version that first began testing in 2019. This upgraded model has a touchscreen, a big, grippable knob for navigation, voice control features, and four preset buttons at the top for favorite music, podcasts or playlists, similar to Spotify on mobile devices.

The company explained its interest in Car Thing is about solving a need for customers who want a “more seamless” and personalized in-car listening experience. Although many cars today support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Spotify points out that the average age of a car in the U.S. is actually 11 years old and the average lifetime of cars is 18 years. That means there are still a large number of cars on the road that don’t support modern, in-car infotainment systems.

Car Thing is being introduced to serve this market — and likely, to give Spotify the opportunity to explore future business models where it has a more direct relationship with customers inside the vehicle, though the company isn’t speaking to its longer-term ambitions at this time.

Image Credits: Spotify

The new Car Thing itself is a lightweight (3.4 oz.), thin (4.6″ x 2.5″ x 0.7″) music and podcast player that offers a combination of voice control, knobs, buttons, and a touchscreen display for navigating its menus and selecting the media you want to hear. You can choose to use set up the device to work via Bluetooth or an AUX or USB cable, depending on how you usually connect your phone to your car stereo to play music.

You’re also able to mount Car Thing to your dash in a variety of ways as the device ships with three different types of dash and vent mounts to choose from, along with a car charger and USB-C cable.

Image Credits: Spotify

At launch, Car Thing will walk you through a quick tour where it explains how to get started. The user interface recalls the Spotify mobile app, so it isn’t difficult to get used to for first-time users. Here, you can tap, swipe and use your voice to interact with the screen. The knob lets you quickly move through your choices — an experience that may be more comfortable to those used to interacting with knobs on their car’s built-in stereo.

Across the top of the device are four preset buttons that let you save your favorite content for easy access. By default, these are configured with your Liked Songs and Spotify’s Daily Drive and Morning Commute playlists, with the last preset empty. Many users may just keep these selections, but you can change them at any time, Spotify says.

Image Credits: Spotify

Ahead of the device’s launch, Spotify quietly began rolling out support for its “Hey Spotify” voice command, which Car Thing leverages, too. This lets you speak your requests directly to Spotify, by asking for a song, album, artist, playlist, station or podcast, which Car Thing “hears” by way of its four microphones at the top. (Four, because Spotify wants Car Thing to respond even if you’re blasting your music or have the windows down, which creates additional noise.)

On mobile devices, using “Hey Spotify” is an opt-in option that you can shut off from the app’s settings. But Car Thing represents a smarter, not to mention more safety-focused, use case for voice control. Instead of fiddling with the screen or knobs, you can speak your commands — or allow your kids to shout out their options from the backseat, perhaps.

Image Credits: Spotify

Spotify’s policy regarding its use of voice data explains the company will collect recordings and transcripts of what you say along with information about the content it returned to you, and may use the data to improve the feature over time. The company told us that beyond the voice data, the device isn’t collecting any more information that it does already in the mobile app. Still, Car Thing does give Spotify a more direct window into what people listen to during commutes and longer road trips, which could inform its future products, programmed playlists and other features.

“In a typical year, Americans spend over 70 billion hours in their cars and there are 250 million cars on America’s roads today,” noted Spotify’s Head of Global Culture and Trends, Shanon Cook. “That’s a lot of time spent on the road. So what you do and what you listen to, to help you get through those hours in the car really matters.”

Initially, Car Thing is being made available during this limited release period for free, as selected users will just pay the cost of shipping — a choice Spotify made because Car Thing is still somewhat experimental.

“This is Spotify’s first hardware, and we obviously want to get things right,” said Spotify’s Head of Hardware Products, Andreas Cedborg. “And we want to learn quite a lot here in the beginning, so it’s a natural way for us to start,” he said.

Image Credits: Spotify

Spotify says the current retail price for the device is $80. It doesn’t know if or when it will begin to retail the device, however. But it can roll out updates to its software so at least the device won’t be immediately obsolete, if Spotify decides to go in a different direction one day.

Despite Spotify’s exploration into hardware, the company stressed it doesn’t aim to be a hardware company. If anything, it’s seems more likely that Spotify is toying with the idea of becoming the next SiriusXM by way of a specialized in-car experience — although one that’s even more of an add-on than SiriusXM is as you physically have to attach the thing — the Car Thing — to your dash. Longer-term, it’s not clear it makes much sense to develop a Car Thing product line as cars get smarter every year and infotainment systems become more standard.

Car Thing will only be offered on an invite-only basis via carthing.spotify.com to U.S. Spotify Premium subscribers with a smartphone. The company declined to say how many units would be shipped, so you’ll probably want to jump on the waitlist sooner rather than later if such a device interests you.

#hardware, #spotify, #tc, #transportation

0

How one founder identified a huge healthcare gap and acquired the skills necessary to address it

Our new podcast Found is now available, and the first episode features guest Iman Abuzeid, co-founder and CEO of Incredible Health. Abuzeid’s story of founding and building Incredible Health, a career platform for healthcare professionals focusing specifically on nurses, is all about a focused entrepreneur building a unique skill set, and acquiring the experience necessary to create a world-leading solution.

Abuzeid went to medical school and acquired her MD, but decided before residency to instead go get an MBA from Wharton, in order to pursue her dream of entrepreneurship, inspired by two generations of entrepreneurs in the family that preceded her. After eventually making her way to Silicon Valley and working in a couple of other startups in the healthcare space, Abuzeid took important lessons away from those experiences about what not to do when running your own company, and embarked on building her own with co-founder Rome Portlock, now the company’s CTO.

Incredible Health is tackling a huge challenge — the shortfall of availability of skilled nurses, and the lack of mature, sophisticated career resources to help those nurses in their professional life. COVID-19 threw those issues into stark relief, and Incredible Health adjusted its game plan to adapt to its users’ needs. Abuzeid tells us all about how she made those calls, and also how she convinced venture investors to come along for the ride.

We hope you enjoy this episode, and don’t forget to subscribe in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your podcast app of choice. We’d love to hear your feed back, too — either on Twitter or via email, and tune in weekly for more episodes.

Found is hosted by Darrell Etherington and Jordan Crook, and is produced, mixed and edited by Yashad Kulkarni. TechCrunch’s audio products are managed by Henry Pickavet, and Bryce Durbin created the show’s artwork. Found published weekly on Friday afternoons, and you can find past episodes on TechCrunch here.

#articles, #co-founder, #cto, #found, #found-podcast, #iman-abuzeid, #incredible-health, #maryland, #nursing, #podcast, #science-and-technology, #spotify, #tc, #technology

0

Spotify stays quiet about launch of its voice command ‘Hey Spotify’ on mobile

In 2019, Spotify began testing a hardware device for automobile owners it lovingly dubbed “Car Thing,” which allowed Spotify Premium users to play music and podcasts using voice commands that began with “Hey, Spotify.” Last year, Spotify began developing a similar voice integration into its mobile app. Now, access to the “Hey Spotify” voice feature is rolling out more broadly.

Spotify chose not to officially announce the new addition, despite numerous reports indicating the voice option was showing up for many people in their Spotify app, leading to some user confusion about availability.

One early report by GSM Arena, for example, indicated Android users had been sent a push notification that alerted them to the feature. The notification advised users to “Just enable your mic and say ‘Hey Spotify, Play my Favorite Songs.” When tapped, the notification launched Spotify’s new voice interface where users are pushed to first give the app permission to use the microphone in order to be able to verbally request the music they want to hear.

Several outlets soon reported the feature had launched to Android users, which is only partially true.

As it turns out, the feature is making its way to iOS devices, as well. When we launched the Spotify app here on an iPhone running iOS 14.5, for instance, we found the same feature had indeed gone live. You just tap on the microphone button by the search box to get to the voice experience. We asked around and found that other iPhone users on various versions of the iOS operating system also had the feature, including free users, Premium subscribers and Premium Family Plan subscribers.

The screen that appears suggests in big, bold text that you could be saying “Hey Spotify, play…” followed by a random artist’s name. It also presents a big green button at the bottom to turn on “Hey Spotify.”

Once enabled, you can ask for artists, albums, songs and playlists by name, as well as control playback with commands like stop, pause, skip this song, go back and others. Spotify confirms the command with a robotic-sounding male voice by default. (You can swap to a female voice in Settings, if you prefer.)

Image Credits: Spotify screenshot iOS

This screen also alerts users that when the app hears the “Hey Spotify” voice command, it sends the user’s voice data and other information to Spotify. There’s a link to Spotify policy regarding its use of voice data, which further explains that Spotify will collect recordings and transcripts of what you say along with information about the content it returned to you. The company says it may continue to use this data to improve the feature, develop new voice features and target users with relevant advertising. It may also share your information with service providers, like cloud storage providers.

The policy looks to be the same as the one that was used along with Spotify’s voice-enabled ads, launched last year, so it doesn’t seem to have been updated to fully reflect the changes enabled with the launch of “Hey Spotify.” However, it does indicate that, like other voice assistants, Spotify doesn’t just continuously record — it waits until users say the wake words.

Given the “Hey Spotify” voice command’s origins with “Car Thing,” there’s been speculation that the mobile rollout is a signal that the company is poised to launch its own hardware to the wider public in the near future. There’s already some indication that may be true — MacRumors recently reported finding references and photos to Car Thing and its various mounts inside the Spotify app’s code. This follows Car Thing’s reveal in FCC filings back in January of this year, which had also stoked rumors that the device was soon to launch.

Spotify was reached for comment this morning, but has yet been unable to provide any answers about the feature’s launch despite a day’s wait. Instead, we were told that they “unfortunately do not have any additional news to share at this time.” That further suggests some larger projects could be tied to this otherwise more minor feature’s launch.

Though today’s consumers are wary of tech companies’ data collection methods — and particularly their use of voice data after all three tech giants confessed to poor practices on this front — there’s still a use case for voice commands, particularly from an accessibility standpoint and, for drivers, from a safety standpoint.

And although you can direct your voice assistant on your phone (or via CarPlay or Android Auto, if available) to play content from Spotify, some may find it useful to be able to speak to Spotify directly — especially since Apple doesn’t allow Spotify to be set as a default music service. You can only train Siri to launch Spotify as your preferred service.

If, however, you have second thoughts about using the “Hey Spotify” feature after enabling it, you can turn it off under “Voice Interactions” in the app’s settings.

#android, #apps, #iphone, #mobile, #music, #smartphones, #spotify, #voice, #voice-assistant

0

Sonos delivers a near-perfect portable speaker with the new Sonos Roam

Sonos has a new speaker that starts shipping later this month, and it’s a significant departure from the company’s usual offerings in a number of ways. The all-new Sonos Roam is a compact, portable speaker with a built-in battery and Bluetooth connectivity — but still very much a Sonos system team player, with wifi streaming, multi-room feature, voice assistant support and surprisingly great sound quality.

The basics

Priced at $179, the Sonos Roam is truly diminutive, at just over 6 inches, by roughly 2.5 inches for both height and depth. It weighs under a pound, and is available in either a matte white or black finish, which is par for the course for Sonos in terms of colorways. Roam is also IP67-rated, meaning it’s effectively waterproof, with a resistance rating of up to 30 minutes at depths of up to 1 meter (3.3 feet).

Sonos has placed the speaker’s control surface at one end of the device, including a microphone button, volume controls and a play/pause button. These are actual, tactile buttons, rather than touch-sensitive surfaces like you’d find on other Sonos speakers, which makes sense for a speaker designed to be used on the go, and in conditions where touch controls might get flummoxed by things like rain and water.

The Roam also has a power button on the back, next to a USB-C port for charging. It also offers wireless charging, via a receiver found in the base of the speaker, which can be used with Sonos’ own forthcoming magnetic charging adapter (sold separately), or with any standard Qi-powered wireless charger you want.

In addition to wifi streaming, Sonos Roam can also connect to any device via Bluetooth 5.0. It also features AirPlay 2 for connecting to Apple devices when on wifi, and it works out of the box with Spotify Connect. The built-in battery is rated for up to 10 hours of playback on a full charge, according to Sonos, and can also provide up to 10 days of its sleep-like standby mode.

Design and performance

This is the smallest speaker yet released by Sonos, and that’s definitely a big plus when it comes to this category of device. The dimensions make it feel like a slightly taller can of Red Bull, which should give you some sense of just how portable it is. Unlike Sonos’ first portable speaker with a built-in battery, the Sonos Move, the Roam truly feels like something designed to be thrown in a bag and brought with you wherever you happen to need it.

Despite its small size, the Sonos Roam offers impressive sound — likely the best I’ve yet encountered for a portable speaker in this size class. Inside, it manages to pack in dual amplifiers, one tweeter and a separate custom racetrack mid-woofer, which Sonos developed to help deliver both lows and mids with a faithfulness that normally escapes smaller speakers. The Roam also gets a lot louder than you’d probably expect it could, while keeping audio quality clear and free of distortion at the same time.

One of the keys to the Roam’s great sound quality is Sonos’ Automatic Trueplay tech, which tunes the audio to best suit its surroundings actively and continually. This feature requires that the mic be enabled to work, but it’s well worth having on in most settings, and makes a big difference while streaming in both Bluetooth and wifi modes. This also helps the speaker adjust when it’s switched from horizontal to vertical orientation, and it’s one of the main reasons that the Roam punches above its weight relative to other speakers in this size and price category.

The Roam would be a winner based on audio quality alone for the price, but the extra Sonos system-specific features it boasts really elevate it to a true category leader. These include a standby mode that preserves battery while keeping the Roam available to your system for wifi streaming via the Sonos app (handy, and also optional since you can hold the power button down for five seconds to truly power off and preserve your charge for even longer, which is great for travel).

One of Roam’s truly amazing abilities is a hand-off feature that passes playback of whatever you’re using it to listen to on to the nearest Sonos speaker in your system when you long press the play/pause button. This works almost like magic, and is a great speaker superpower for if you’re wandering around the house and the yard doing chores with the Roam in your pocket.

Bottom line

Sonos waited a long time to release their first travel-friendly portable speaker, but they obviously used that time wisely. The Sonos Roam is the most thoughtfully-designed, feature-rich and best-sounding portable speaker you can get for under $200 (and better than many more expensive options, at that). Even if you don’t already have a Sonos system to use it with, it’s an easy choice if you’re in the market for a portable, rugged Bluetooth speaker — and if you’re already a Sonos convert, the decision gets that much easier.

#airplay, #assistant, #bluetooth, #computing, #gadgets, #hardware, #play3, #reviews, #smart-speakers, #sonos, #speaker, #spotify, #tc, #technology, #wireless-charger, #wireless-speaker

0

Spotify opens a second personalized playlist to sponsors, after ‘Discover Weekly’ in 2019

Spotify is opening up its personalized playlist, “On Repeat,” to advertising sponsorship. This playlist, launched in 2019 and featuring users’ favorite songs, is only the second personalized playlist on the music streaming service that’s being made available for sponsorship. Spotify’s flagship playlist, “Discover Weekly,” became the first in 2019.

The sponsorship is made possible through the company’s Sponsored Playlist ad product, which gives brands the ability to market to Spotify’s free users with audio, video and display ad messages across breaks, allowing the advertiser to own the experience “end-to-end,” the company says.

It also gives brands an opportunity to reach Spotify’s most engaged users.

When Spotify opened up “Discover Weekly” to sponsorship, for example, it noted that users who listened to this playlist streamed more than double those who didn’t. Similarly, “On Repeat” caters to Spotify’s more frequent users because of its focus on tracks users have played most often.

Since the launch of “On Repeat” in September 2019, Spotify says the playlist has reached 12 billion streams globally. Fans have also spent over 750 million hours listening to the playlist, where artists like Bad Bunny, The Weeknd, and Ariana Grande have topped the list for “most repeated” listens.

Though Spotify today offers its numerous owned and operated playlists for sponsorship, its personalized playlists have largely been off-limits — except for “Discover Weekly.” These are highly-valued properties, as Spotify directs users to stream collections powered by its algorithms, which Spotify organizes in its ever-expanding “Made for You” hub in its app. Here, users can jump in between “Discover Weekly,” and other collections organized by genre, artist, decade, and more — like new releases, favorites, suggestions, and more.

With the launch of sponsorship for “On Repeat,” brands across 30 global markets, including North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific will be able to own another of Spotify’s largest personalized properties for a time.

The first U.S. advertiser to take advantage of the sponsorship is TurboTax, which cited the personalization elements and user engagement with the playlist among the reasons why the ad product made sense for them.

“Like music, taxes are not one size fits all. Every tax situation is unique and every individual’s needs are different,” said Cathleen Ryan, VP of Marketing for TurboTax, in a statement about the launch. “We’re using Spotify’s deep connection to its engaged listeners to get in front of consumers and show them that with TurboTax you can get the expertise you need on your terms. With Spotify, we’re able to get both reach and unique targeting that ensures the right audiences know about the tools, guidance and expertise that TurboTax offers,” she added.

#ad-technology, #adtech, #advertising, #advertising-tech, #brands, #media, #personalization, #playlist, #spotify, #streaming-music, #turbotax

0

Nonobvious acquisitions are on my 2021 bingo board

At the end of 2020, I argued that edtech needs to think bigger in order to stay relevant after the pandemic. I urged founders to think less about how to bundle and unbundle lecture experience, and more about how to replace outdated systems and methods with new, tech-powered solutions. In other words, don’t simply put engaging content on a screen, but innovate on what that screen looks like, tracks and offers.

A few months into 2021, the exit environment in edtech…feels like it’s doing exactly that. The same startups that hit billion and multi-billion valuations during the pandemic are scooping up new talent to broaden their service offerings.

Ruben Harris, the founder of Career Karma, a platform that matches aspiring coding professionals to bootcamps, put together a massive report recently with his team to talk about the pandemic’s impact on the bootcamp market.

James Gallagher, the author of the report, tells me:

It is important to note that the full potential of bootcamps has not yet been realised. We are now seeing more exploration of niches like technology sales which provide gateways into new careers in tech for people who otherwise may not have been able to acquire training. To scale such models, new businesses will need venture capital.

He went on to explain how a notable acquisition from 2020 was K12 scooping up Galvanize, “which would give K12 exposure into corporate training and the coding bootcamp space, a market outside of K12’s focus at the moment.”

To me this report signal two things: the financial interest in boot camps isn’t simply stemming from other bootcamps (although that is happening), but it’s surprising partnerships. Leaving this subsector, we see creative acquisitions such as a Roblox for edtech buying a language learning tool, and a startup known for flashcards scooping up a tech tutoring service.

Readers should know by this point that I love a nonobvious acquisition (except when this almost happened), so if you have any more tips on coming deals in edtech, please Signal me or direct message me on Twitter.

I’ll end with this: Successful startup founders are innately ambitious, finding opportunity in moonshots and convincing others that the odds are in their favor. However, the ceiling for what defines ambition heightens almost everyday. What used to be a win is now a nonnegotiable, and a feat is only a feat until your competitor hits the exact same milestone.

Acquisitions are one way to scoop up competition and synergistic talent, but it’s what happens next that matters the most.

In the rest of this newsletter, we will talk about Clubhouse competitors, how a homegrown experiment became one of the fastest growing companies in fitness tech and a cool-down in public markets (?!). As always, you can get this newsletter in your inbox each Saturday morning, so subscribe here to join the cool kids.

Clubhouse might create billions in value, but could capture none of it

Remember when everyone was buzzing around about building Stories? That’s so pre-pandemic. A number of companies recently announced plans to build their own versions of Clubhouse, after the buzzy app unearthed the consumer love for audio.

Here’s what to know: It might be easier to start guessing who isn’t building a Clubhouse clone at this point. Our predictions are already starting, but jokes aside, the rise in clones could mean that Clubhouse might have to make a run for its pre-monetized money (cough, cough, Twitter spaces). It doesn’t matter if a startup is first in unlocking a key insight, all that matters is who executes that key insight the best.

Image Credits: Getty Images

A strong unicorn, literally

Tonal, a fitness tech startup, became a unicorn this week after raising a new tranche of capital.

Here’s what to know: The new status underscores market growth for at-home fitness solutions. And while we don’t have a Tonal S-1 yet, we do have a Tonal EC-1. EC-1’s are TechCrunch’s riff on an S-1, and are essentially a deep dive into a company.

Reporter JP Mangalindan wrote thousands and thousands of words about Tonal, from its origin story to business model, its focus on communities and its biggest hurdles ahead.

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Initial public o….no

You’ve probably had a better week than Compass, Deliveroo and Kaltura. The three companies all had different events that illustrate a potential damper on the part that has been the public markets.

Here’s what to know: Compass cut its shares and lowered pricing of said shares, Deliveroo had a rough debut as a delivery company on the public markets, and Kaltura postponed its IPO after valuation demand didn’t hit expectations.

In other news, though:

Photo Taken In Arizona, United States. Image Credits: Jure Batagelj / 500px / Getty Images

Around TechCrunch

Thanks to everyone who tuned in to TechCrunch Early Stage! If you enjoyed the event (or missed it), don’t worry: Disrupt is almost here.

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

How startups can go passwordless, thanks to zero trust

Tips for founders thinking about doing a remote accelerator

US iPhone users spent an average of $138 on apps in 2020, will grow to $180 in 2021

Niantic CEO shares teaser image of AR glasses device

The Weeknd will sell an unreleased song and visual art via NFT auction

Seen on Extra Crunch

Embedded procurement will make every company its own marketplace

5 mistakes creators make building new games on Roblox

E-commerce roll-ups are the next wave of disruption in consumer packaged goods

How our SaaS startup improved net revenue retention by more than 30 points in two quarters

#clubhouse, #compass, #coursera, #deliveroo, #discord, #edtech, #education, #ipo, #linkedin, #spotify, #startups, #startups-weekly, #swell, #tc

0

Clubhouse will create billions in value and capture none of it

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace were all here to chat through the week’s biggest tech happenings. It was a busy week on the IPO front, Danny was buried in getting the Tonal EC-1 out, and Natasha took some time off. But the host trio managed to prep and record a show that was honestly a kick to record, and we think, a pleasure to listen to!

So, for your morning walk, here’s what we have for you:

It was a mix of laughs, ‘aha’ moments, and honest conversations about how complex ambition in startups should be. One listener the other day mentioned to us that the pandemic made it harder to carve out time for podcasts, since listening was often reserved for commutes. We get it, and in true scrappy fashion, we’re curious how you’ve adapted to remote work and podcasts. Let us know how you tune into Equity via Twitter and remember that we’re thankful for your ears!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 AM PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

#cameo, #clubhouse, #discord, #equity, #equity-podcast, #funding, #fundings-exits, #harlem-capital, #linkedin, #mac-venture-capital, #media, #miami, #microsoft-excel, #pipe, #podcasts, #spotify, #startups, #substack

0

Arizona lawmaker: Big Tech “hired almost every lobbyist” to kill app store bill

Arizona lawmaker: Big Tech “hired almost every lobbyist” to kill app store bill

Enlarge (credit: Siriporn Kaenseeya / EyeEm / Getty)

An Arizona bill to expand payment options in Apple’s and Google’s app stores has failed in the state Senate, the law’s sponsor has told the Verge. The legislation narrowly passed the Arizona House last month.

Rep. Regina Cobb, a Republican, told the Verge that she thought she had the votes to pass the legislation in the Senate. But then, according to Cobb, Apple and Google “hired almost every lobbyist in town” to kill the legislation.

“We thought we had the votes before we went to the committee,” Cobb told the Verge. “And then we heard that the votes weren’t there and they weren’t going to take the time to put it up.”

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#app-store, #apple, #arizona, #epic-games, #google, #policy, #spotify

0

Spotify adds three new types of personalized playlists with launch of ‘Spotify Mixes’

Spotify this morning announced it’s significantly expanding its selection of personalized playlists with the addition of three new categories of playlists under the heading of “Spotify Mixes.” This collection will include artist mixes, genre mixes, and decade mixes — meaning you’ll gain access to a sizable number of new mixes with easy-to-understand titles, like 2010s Mix, R&B Mix, Pop Mix, Drake Mix, Selena Gomez Mix, and so on — or whatever reflects your own tastes and interests.

The company says the idea for the Spotify Mixes was inspired by its Daily Mixes, launched in fall 2016.

The Daily Mixes had been one of the company’s first big expansions in personalization beyond its flagship playlist, Discover Weekly, as they introduced a large set of playlists that reflected users’ listening history. Today, Daily Mixes bring together your recent listens with other tracks to keep you engaged — and the new Spotify Mixes essentially do the same, as they’re populated with music you like plus “fresh tracks.” The difference is that the new mixes have clearer names and a more specific focus, in some cases.

The Spotify Mixes will be available to all users globally, including both Free users and Premium subscribers. At launch, you can find them within Search in the “Made for You” hub.

You’ll easily spot them, too, as Spotify has already populated its app with a selection of mixes in the top three rows of the “Made for You” hub. Here, you’ll find “Your Genre Mixes,” “Your Artist Mixes,” and “Your Decade Mixes” —  each with a horizontally scrollable selection of mixes to get you started. Spotify says each mix category will be updated frequently and will always have several playlists available.

The new feature somewhat competes with a similar offering on Pandora, launched three years ago. The SiriusXM-owned music app had used its Music Genome technology to create personalized playlists across a number of attributes, including also genre and mood. While not an apples-to-apples comparison, necessarily, Pandora’s launch had instantly expanded its users’ access to personalized playlists by the dozens. It’s actually a bit surprising that it took Spotify as long as it did to offer a competitive response.

Spotify says the new playlists are rolling out today to global users.

 

#media, #music, #personalization, #playlists, #spotify

0

Apple invests $50M into music distributor UnitedMasters alongside A16z and Alphabet

Independent music distribution platform and tool factory UnitedMasters has raised a $50M series B round led by Apple. A16z and Alphabet are participating again in this raise. United Masters is also entering a strategic partnership with Apple alongside this investment. 

If you’re unfamiliar with UnitedMasters, it’s a distribution company launched in 2017 by Steve Stoute, a former Interscope and Sony Music executive. The focus of UnitedMasters is to provide artists with a direct pipeline to data around the way that fans are interacting with their content and community, allowing them to connect more directly to offer tickets, merchandise and other commercial efforts. UnitedMasters also generally allows artists to retain control of their own masters.

Neither of these conditions are at all typical in the music industry. In a typical artist deal, recording companies retain all audience and targeting data as well as masters. This limits an artist’s ability to be agile, taking advantage of new technologies to foster a community. 

While Apple does invest in various companies, it typically does so out of its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to promote US manufacturing or strategically in partners that make critical components of its hardware like silicon foundries or glass manufacturing. Apple does a lot more purchasing than investing, typically, buying a company every few weeks or so to supplement one product effort or another. UnitedMasters, then, would be a relatively unique partnership, especially in the music space. 

I spoke to UnitedMasters CEO Steve Stoute about the deal and what it means for the businesses 1M current artists and new ones. Stoute credits Apple executive Eddy Cue having a philosophy aligned with the UnitedMasters vision with getting this deal done. 

“We want all artists to have the same opportunity,” says Stoute. “Currently, independent artists have less opportunity for success and we’re trying to remove that stigma.”

This infusion, Stoute says, will be used to hire talent that are mission oriented to take UnitedMasters global. They’re seeking local technical talent and artists talent to build out the platform worldwide. 

“Every artist needs access to a CTO,” Stoute says. “Some of the value of what a manager is today for an artist needs to be transferred to that role.”

UnitedMasters wants to provide that technical edge at scale, allowing artists to build out their fanbase at a community level.

Currently, UnitedMasters has deals with the NBA, ESPN, TikTok, Twitch and others that allow artists to tap big brand deals that would normally be brokered by a label and manager. It also has a direct distribution app that allows publishing to all of the major streaming services. Most importantly, they can check stream, fan and earnings data at a glance. 

“Steve Stoute and UnitedMasters provide creators with more opportunities to advance their careers and bring their music to the world,” said Apple’s Eddy Cue in a release statement. “The contributions of independent artists play a significant role in driving the continued growth and success of the music industry, and UnitedMasters, like Apple, is committed to empowering creators.”

“UnitedMasters has completely transformed the way artists create, retain ownership in their work, and connect with their fans,” said Ben Horowitz, Co-Founder and General Partner of Andreessen Horowitz in a release. “We are excited to work with Steve and team to build a better, bigger, and far more profitable world for musical artists.” 

We are currently at an inflection point in the way that artists and fans connect with one another. Though there have been seemingly endless ways for artists to get their messages out or speak to fans using social media and other platforms, the actual business of distributing work to a community and making money from that work has been out of their hands completely since the beginning of the recording industry. Recent developments like NFTs, DAOs and social tokens, as well as an explosion of DTC frameworks have begun to re-write that deal. But the major players have yet to make the truly aggressive strides they need to in order to embrace this ‘artist centric’ new world. 

The mechanics of distribution have been based on a framework defined by DRM and the DMCA for decades. This framework was always marketed as a way to protect value for the artist but was in fact architected to protect value for the distributor. We need a rethinking of the entire distribution layer.

As I mentioned when reporting the UnitedMasters + TikTok deal, it’s going to be instrumental in a more equitable future for artists:

It’s beyond time for the creators of The Culture to benefit from that culture. That’s why I find this UnitedMasters deal so interesting. Offering a direct pipeline to audiences without the attendant vulture-ism of the recording industry apparatus is really well-aligned with a platform like TikTok, which encourages and enables “viral sounds” with collaborative performances. Traditional deal structures are not well-suited to capturing viral hype, which can rise and fall within weeks without additional fuel.

In music, Apple is at the center of this maelstrom along with a few other major players like Spotify. One of the big misses in recent years for Apple Music, in my opinion, was Apple’s failure to turn Apple Music Connect into an industry-standard portal that allowed artists to connect broadly with fans, distribute directly, sell tickets and merchandise but — most importantly — to foster and own their community. 

A UnitedMasters tie up isn’t a straight line to that goal, but it’s definitely got the ingredients. I’m looking forward to seeing what this produces. 

Image Credits: Steve Stoute

#advanced-manufacturing-fund, #alphabet, #andreessen-horowitz, #apple, #apple-inc, #apple-music, #apple-store, #artist, #ben-horowitz, #ceo, #co-founder, #companies, #cto, #eddy-cue, #espn, #executive, #general-partner, #manufacturing, #music-industry, #national-basketball-association, #nba, #operating-systems, #social-media, #software, #sony-music, #spotify, #steve-stoute, #streaming-services, #tc, #twitch, #united-states, #unitedmasters

0

Spotify is getting into live audio because of course it is

Shares of Spotify are up a fraction this morning after the company announced that it will acquire Betty Labs, the company behind the Locker Room, which focuses on live audio. Prior to the deal, Betty Labs had raised more than $9 million, per Crunchbase data.

Spotify is best known for its music streaming business, but has expanded into new audio formats while hunting for both a competitive edge in its core market, and methods of generating pricing leverage.

The European tech giant has spent heavily in recent years on its podcast efforts, bringing marquee shows to its platform on an exclusive basis. By making its own audio-world as differentiated as possible, Spotify may be able to charge more over time, creating future growth opportunities.

The Swedish public company was not shy in describing its goals for the Betty Labs deal, writing on its own blog that it will “evolve and expand Locker Room into an enhanced live audio experience for a wider range of creators and fans,” with forthcoming content including “a range of sports, music, and cultural programming, as well as a host of interactive features that enable creators to connect with audiences in real time.”

A mix of radio and Clubhouse, perhaps? TechCrunch will tinker with the tech when possible, as we have in recent weeks with Clubhouse and Twitter’s equivalent product, Spaces.

Clubhouse, which helped boost the present-day audio craze to new heights, has attracted heavyweight backers and a good number of early fans. But the app has also seen its audience level off in recent weeks (AppAnnie data), perhaps leaving room in the market for Spotify or another audio incumbent to step in and steal its thunder.

Spotify has a history of entering new audio categories and taking over. As TechCrunch reported earlier this month, “Spotify’s U.S. podcast listenership will surpass Apple Podcasts for the first time this year when 28.2 million U.S. users will listen to podcasts on Spotify at least monthly, compared with 28.0 million via Apple Podcasts,” per data from eMarketer.

Sure, it wasn’t cheap, but Spotify wants to lead all audio categories it appears, so its planned move into Clubhouse territory should worry current startups in the space.

If Spotify’s distribution advantage of working on every platform, and having a huge install base, will work in its efforts to own a new slice of the audio world is something we’ll find out this year. Until then, if you have an iOS device, you can still use Clubhouse.

#clubhouse, #spotify, #tc

0

Remote Work Is Here to Stay. Manhattan May Never Be the Same.

New York City, long buoyed by the flow of commuters into its towering office buildings, faces a cataclysmic challenge, even when the pandemic ends.

#apple-inc, #empire-state-realty-trust-inc, #jpmorgan-chasecompany, #manhattan-nyc, #omnicom-group-inc, #pinto-daniel-e, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-commercial, #sl-green-realty-corporation, #spotify, #telecommuting, #vornado-realty-trust

0

How I Podcast: Science Vs’s Rose Rimler

The beauty of podcasting is that anyone can do it. It’s a rare medium that’s nearly as easy to make as it is to consume. And as such, no two people do it exactly the same way. There are a wealth of hardware and software solutions open to potential podcasters, so setups run the gamut from NPR studios to USB Skype rigs (the latter of which has become a kind of default during the current pandemic).

We’ve asked some of our favorite podcast hosts and producers to highlight their workflows — the equipment and software they use to get the job done. The list so far includes:

Election Profit Makers’ David Rees
Welcome to Your Fantasy’s Eleanor Kagan
Articles of Interest’s Avery Trufelman
First Draft and Track Changes’ Sarah Enni
RiYL remote podcasting edition
Family Ghosts’ Sam Dingman
I’m Listening’s Anita Flores
Broken Record’s Justin Richmond
Criminal/This Is Love’s Lauren Spohrer
Jeffrey Cranor of Welcome to Night Vale
Jesse Thorn of Bullseye
Ben Lindbergh of Effectively Wild
My own podcast, RiYL

Science! It’s a thing you should trust! At least that’s what people keep telling me on Twitter. But how do you know which science to trust? Thankfully, Science Vs. from Spotify/Gimlet exists to answer the difficult questions. The show wades into scientific fads and conspiracies, ranging from 5G to vaping in order to sift out the science fiction from science fact. This week, producer Rose Rimler joins us to detail how the show has evolved during the pandemic. 

Image Credits: Rose Rimler

Before COVID, we worked out of an office in Brooklyn that had 10+ recording studios and a number of small, glass-walled meeting rooms set up for the table reads we call “edits.” We spent much of the day wandering around the office looking for one another in these offices and studios, which I guess is how I racked up an average of 6,700 steps a day in 2019 without really trying. Anyway, during the pandemic, we switched to recording ourselves and our interviews at home on portable recorders, which Gimlet provided.

We all use Zoom recorders and directional/shotgun mics. My recorder is a Zoom H6 and my mic is a Sennheiser MKE600. I think this is a very good quality mic because I don’t find a need to go into a closet or under a blanket to record myself. I just sit in my room, hold the mic to my chin and hit record. It seems to turn out fine, although maybe the audio engineers are secretly furious with me for this. The only way to know for sure is to repeatedly tweet @petaplaysbass demanding answers.

Image Credits: Rose Rimler

It’s a different story when it comes to the audio we get from our guests. The most basic way to just grab audio from someone is to record their phone call, or Zoom/Skype/Google Hangout session. I do this with a cord that plugs in from the Zoom recorder into my laptop, or (via adaptor) into my phone. The problem with this method is that the “phone tape” audio is kind of hard to hear. I know this from personal experience because when I listen to podcasts that use phone tape off my iPhone, without headphones, I can barely hear what the person is saying. So, I think getting better audio quality from guests really does matter for the audience. How to do that? The best way we’ve come up with is to ask them to conduct the interview over a computer app while using their smartphone as a recording device.

The iPhone comes with an app called “voice memo” that most people can use, and the phone’s mic is surprisingly good quality. They record their end of the conversation and send the file to us. If I’m feeling particularly confident in my ability to direct people, I might also ask them to pick a quiet, well-furnished room, put their phone into airplane mode, and hold it in front of them as they talk so the mic isn’t too far away (or place it on a stack of books near them).

Image Credits: Rose Rimler

We’ve always been a really collaborative show, which hasn’t changed since the pandemic. While the lead producer writes the first few drafts of the script, they collaborate with the host and editor to do re-writes the last week or so before we publish. That’s why we were always huddled in various offices before the pandemic, writing through the script together. The difference now is we huddle over Google Hangout.

Also, I get many, many fewer steps.

#entertainment, #gimlet, #how-i-podcast, #podcasts, #rose-rimler, #spotify

0

European branded payments startup Recharge raises $11.8M debt round led by Kreos Capital

Online branded payments now run the gamut of anything from Spotify vouchers, Netflix vouchers, Neosurf, PaySafe cards, and everything in between. Consumers use them to pay for a variety of things. In Europe, they are an increasingly big business. Now, European branded payments company Recharge.com has raised €10m ($11.8m) in a debt funding round led by London-based Kreos Capital, a growth debt provider for high-growth companies. In 2019 the Dutch fintech Creative Group, which owns the Recharge.com and Rapido.com brands, took investment of €22m from Prime Ventures.

Recharge has also appointed Michael Kent – who previously founded payments companies Small World and Azimo, along with UK neobank Tandem – as its non-executive chairman.

Recharge.com says it plans to use the funding to extend its mobile offering, product range, and expand in regions such as North America, Latin America and the GCC. It’s also aiming for sales of €450m in 2021.

Günther Vogelpoel CEO of Recharge.com said in a statement: “We live in a world of instant wish fulfillment, from taxis that appear on demand to same-day delivery of consumer goods. Recharge.com gives customers a fast, safe and simple way to fulfill their wishes, whether that’s an essential remittance or access to digital goods and services.”

Commenting, Kent said: “The era of supermarket gift cards and mobile top-ups is drawing to a close. Branded payments have exploded during the global lockdown as consumers seek digital alternatives to the high street. People are now aware that online branded payments are safe, fast, and convenient.”

Through a range of digital vouchers from brands including Apple, Google, Spotify, Xbox and PlayStation as well as cross-border remittances of call, data credits etc Recharge is attacking the market from the consumer angle.

The biggest company in this space is Blackhawk networks which is owned by private equity group Silverlake. It’s considered a large player in Europe which has a direct-to-consumer model.

As Kent told me over a Zoom call: “Nobody actually owns the consumer side of this business globally so that’s the big opportunity.”

#apple, #articles, #azimo, #ceo, #corporate-finance, #digital-currencies, #europe, #finance, #google, #kreos-capital, #latin-america, #london, #netflix, #north-america, #prime-ventures, #private-equity, #silverlake, #spotify, #tc

0

Spotify rolls out redesigned desktop and web apps

Spotify today announced it’s rolling out a new look for its streaming service on the desktop, with the launch of a redesigned app for both Mac and Windows, as well as an updated web app. The changes, which will be made available to all global users, focus on improving the navigation and providing users with access to new controls and features across playlists, search, radio, their queue, library, and more.

Overall, the update gives the Spotify app a more streamlined, less cluttered look and feel, compared with the prior version.

Image Credits: Spotify

One notable change is that the new app does away with the oddly placed search bar that was previously found at the top left of the screen. Now it’s been relocated to the slimmed down navigation bar on the left side, in between the links for Home and Your Library.

The app also no longer details the various destinations within Your Library within this navigation bar — like Made For You, Recently Played, Albums, Artists or Podcasts, for example. Instead, you’ll have to click into your Library section to view these selections.

Now, the Your Library page will feature four categories across the top of the page, starting with Playlists, where you’ll find your Liked Songs, Discover Weekly, Daily Mixes, Release Radar, and more. Playlists is followed by different sections for browsing Podcasts (which got bumped up to the No. 2 spot in the update! hint hint!), then Artists and Albums.

Image Credits: Spotify

A new dropdown menu in the Your Library lets you further sort these various sections in a variety of ways: by Most Relevant, Recently Played, Recently Added, Alphabetical, or even by a Custom Order you can configure.

Meanwhile, those who like to build playlists will gain a handful of new features in the updated app.

They can now write descriptions, upload their own images, and drag and drop tracks into existing playlists. They can also use a new embedded search bar located at the top of the “Create Playlist” page to seek out new songs or even podcast episodes to add to the playlist. This could greatly speed up the somewhat tedious process of playlist creation, by reducing the steps it takes between finding a track and getting it into a playlist.

Image Credits: Spotify

This change in particular speaks to Spotify’s growing interest in catering to curators — something co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek mentioned during his recent appearance on the PressClub show on Clubhouse.

Ek explained that he was “excited about curatorship” because when a service’s content library grows, it needs curators.

“The playlisters are incredible on Spotify, but it seems like there’s limited ability to interact with those playlisters — or for those playlisters to really understand who is listening to them and be able to build that second set of creators [who] are indirectly creating by helping other people find content to experience,” he said.

To address this challenge, Ek said Spotify would try to add more tools to allow users to become better curators, if not on a social basis, at least for themselves.

“The primary focus for us on the roadmap is just enabling you to be a much better curator even for yourself —  just by, for instance, suggesting content that’s relevant to the things you’ve already put in the playlist,” he added.

These updated playlist creation tools seem like a natural first step towards Spotify’s larger goals in this area.

Image Credits: Spotify

A few other changes in the updated apps include a refreshed listener profile page which now features both your top artists and top tracks; a new way to start a radio session for any song or artist via the three-dot (“…”) more menu; and the ability to now edit your Queue and view your Recently Played items on the Desktop app.

Premium subscribers gain another perk, too: they’ll be able to download music and podcasts to listen to offline, via a download button in the Desktop app.

In a blog post announcing the changes, Spotify admitted that it hadn’t quite kept up with the development of its desktop app as its service had grown, and today’s launch is an attempt to correct that.

“At Spotify, we’re always looking for ways to provide the best possible experience so our listeners can consistently discover and enjoy music and podcasts—and that includes look, feel, and functionality. We constantly test, develop, and launch new features, optimize for new devices, and look to expand our content offering,” the post read. “Yet along the way, we felt that our desktop app experience hadn’t kept up, and that it was time for a change.”

The updated apps for Mac, Windows and the web are rolling out starting today. Unrelated to the app redesign, Spotify separately announced today it’s expanding access to its Marquee tool for promoting new releases. The feature will be made available to all teams in the U.S. through a new campaign management tool in Spotify for Artists.

#artist, #curator, #daniel-ek, #music, #playlist, #podcasts, #spotify, #tc

0

Tencent Music now has joint labels with all ‘big three’ record labels

The music streaming arm of Tencent is further tightening its ties with the “big three” record label companies, its major licensing partners. Tencent Music Entertainment announced Tuesday that it has formed a new joint label with Warner Music Group, following similar deals with Universal Music Group in August 2020 and Sony Music Entertainment in early 2018.

The collaboration will take advantage of “Warner Music’s global resources and experience in supporting artists’ careers, as well as TME’s massive influence in mainland China’s music and entertainment market,” TME says in an announcement.

The joint label established with UMG similarly aims to bring international artists to China, one of the world’s fastest-growing music markets, and take Chinese musicians abroad.

Alongside the label deal, TME and WMG have signed a multi-year licensing agreement, an extension of their decade-long collaboration.

TME has ongoing licensing relationships with all three major record labels and some have manifested in equity relationships. In January, a Tencent-led consortium increased its total stake in UMG to 20%.

TME also operates some of China’s most popular online music services. Through its family of music streaming apps including QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music, TME collectively commands 622 mobile monthly active users as of the fourth quarter.

Paying ratio remains relatively low, however, with 9% of the users paying in the quarter, up from 6.2% in the previous year.

But TME has another major revenue stream that distinguishes it from Western streaming services like Spotify: social entertainment. This category includes the karaoke app WeSing which monetizes through the sales of virtual gifts, which are bought by users and sent to performers they appreciate. It mirrors real-life fan-idol interaction.

The segment contributed $854 million to Q4 revenue, compared to $423 million generated from user subscription and digital music sales.

#asia, #china, #entertainment, #media, #record-labels, #sony-music-entertainment, #spotify, #streaming-services, #tencent, #tencent-music, #tencent-music-entertainment, #tme, #universal-music-group, #warner-music-group

0

Streaming Saved Music. Artists Hate It.

Many musicians aren’t sharing in streaming riches. Can digital music economics change to benefit everyone?

#audio-recordings-downloads-and-streaming, #china, #music, #pinduoduo-mobile-app, #spotify

0

Whereby, which allows more collaboration over video calls, raises $12M from Point Nine and 20 Angels

Zoom, Microsoft and Google all rocketed to the top of the charts in the virtual meetings stakes during the pandemic but a plucky startup from Norway had others ideas. Video meeting startup Whereby has now raised $12 million from German VC Point Nine, SaaStr fund and a group of more than 20 angel investors.

Angels investors include Josh Buckley(CEO, Producthunt), Elizabeth Yin (Hustlefund) and Jason M. Lemkin (founder of Saastr).

Øyvind Reed, CEO at Whereby said in a statement: “The past year has led many of us to question the future of work, with video meetings set to remain a big part of our lives. More than ever, the tools we use to connect have to enable effective and enjoyable meetings, providing focus, collaboration and wellbeing. .”

Whereby’s platform has three pricing plans (including free) and allows users to embed tools like Google Docs, Trello and Miro directly in their meetings, unlike other video platforms.

Whereby was demonstrated to me by co-founder Ingrid Ødegaard on a coffee table during 2016’s Oslo Innovation Week. I immediately set-up my username, which has existed even as the startup changed it name from Appear.in. Ingrid told me during an interview that they “tried to be much more human-centric and really focus on some of the human problems that come with collaborating remotely. One of the big mistakes that a lot of people making is just replicating the behavior that they had in the office… whereas we think that you actually need to work in a fundamentally different way. We want to help people do that and by making it really easy to jump in and have a meeting when you need to. But our goal is not to push people to have more meetings, quite the opposite.”

The startup’s secret weapon is enterprise integrations. If you had a video meeting with a UK GP over video in the last year it was probably over Whereby (indeed, mine was!). Whereby won a contract with the NHS for its remote video patient consultations during the pandemic. Competitors for this include Jitsi and AccurX. The company claims it saw a 450% increase in users across 150 countries last year.

“Last year we saw the mass adoption of video meetings,” said Christoph Janz, Partner at Point Nine. “Now it’s about taking the user experience to the next level and Whereby will be leading that charge. It’s amazing to see a Scandinavian startup playing in the same league as the tech giants.”

#ceo, #christoph-janz, #co-founder, #elizabeth-yin, #europe, #founder, #free-software, #google, #ingrid, #jitsi, #josh-buckley, #microsoft, #miro, #nhs, #norway, #point-nine, #producthunt, #reed, #saastr, #shakil-khan, #spotify, #tc, #technology, #trello, #web-conferencing, #zoom

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Apple clarifies iOS default music app feature, and it’s not what people thought

Siri in iOS 14.

Enlarge / Siri in iOS 14. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Over the past several weeks, there have been several reports (including one of our own) on a feature found in recent beta releases of iOS 14.5 that appeared to allow users to change the default music app on their iPhones. However, Apple just clarified to TechCrunch that the feature is not as it first seemed.

In the initial reports, users claimed that they were prompted to select a preferred music app, such as Spotify or Apple Music, when they asked Siri to play a song. They then found that Siri seemed to honor that choice on future requests.

Further, they noticed that using the usual command “Hey Siri, play [song name] on Spotify” would cause Siri to use Spotify again in the future when they spoke the same request sans the “on Spotify” part. (In the current public version of iOS, users must say “on Spotify” every single time to play songs in that app instead of Apple Music.)

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#apple, #apple-music, #ios, #ios-14-5, #siri, #spotify, #tech

0

How a Gen-Z Disney Star Wrote a Runaway Hit

See how the singer-songwriter and actress wrote her chart-topping first single — after a good cry and with TikTok in mind.

#billboard-magazine, #drivers-license-song, #pop-and-rock-music, #rodrigo-olivia-2003, #spotify

0

Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr. and the Voices of ‘Resistance’

The evocative podcast about people who “refuse to accept things as they are” is thriving in a historical blind spot of story-driven audio.

#black-lives-matter-movement, #black-people, #content-type-personal-profile, #gimlet-media, #podcasts, #race-and-ethnicity, #resistance-radio-program, #saidu-tejan-thomas-jr, #spotify

0

Podcasting Is Booming. Will Hollywood Help or Hurt Its Future?

A frothy adaptation market is just one sign of the rapid evolution of the industry. But some worry that big money will stifle the D.I.Y. spirit that has driven much of its success.

#creative-artists-agency, #emily-cross, #gimlet-media, #iheartmedia-inc, #intellectual-property, #lory-martinez, #mergers-acquisitions-and-divestitures, #mija-radio-program, #morris-lamorne-1983, #movies, #neyfakh-leon, #ostroff-dawn, #podcasts, #sirius-xm-radio-inc, #spotify, #studio-ochenta, #television, #unwanted-radio-program, #what-im-looking-at-radio-program

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Daily Crunch: Spotify announces a high-end subscription

Spotify makes a bunch of announcements, Netflix introduces an intriguing new feature and Clubhouse faces security concerns. This is your Daily Crunch for February 22, 2021.

The big story: Spotify announces a high-end subscription

Spotify listeners will get the chance to pay for higher-quality audio when the streaming service launches a new tier that it says will offer “CD-quality, lossless audio.” The pricing and launch date have yet to be announced, but Spotify HiFi will, unsurprisingly, cost more than Spotify Premium and be marketed as a Premium add-on.

That was probably the biggest news that Spotify made at today’s “Stream On” event, where it also announced an audience development tool for artists, an audio ad marketplace, continued international expansiona podcast co-hosted by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen and a test of paid podcast subscriptions.

The tech giants

Netflix launches ‘Downloads for You,’ a new feature that automatically downloads content you’ll like — After turning on the feature for the first time, you’ll be able to select the amount of storage space you want to dedicate for these recommended downloads.

Twitter explored buying India’s ShareChat and turning Moj into a global TikTok rival — According to sources, Twitter offered to buy the five-year-old Indian startup for $1.1 billion.

Startups, funding and venture capital

EquityBee raises $20M to help startup employees actually afford their stock options — EquityBee CEO Oren Barzilai says his company’s mission is to help educate startup employees on the meaning of their stock options, as well as provide them with funds to be able to purchase those options.

Splice gets $55M for its software bringing beats from bedrooms to bandstands — Splice gained a following for its ability to help electronic dance music creators save, share, collaborate and remix music.

A race to reverse-engineer Clubhouse raises security concerns — The fact that it takes programmers little effort to reverse-engineer and fork Clubhouse is sounding an alarm about the app’s security.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

If Coinbase is worth $100B, what’s a fair valuation for Stripe? — We dig into Coinbase’s 2019 and 2020 financial performance.

Bain’s Matt Harris and Justworks’ Isaac Oates to talk through the Series B deal that brought them together — All the way back in 2016, Bain Capital Ventures caught a whiff of Justworks’ potential for success.

Winning enterprise sales teams know how to persuade the Chief Objection Officer — Many enterprise software startups have at some point faced the invisible wall.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Watch Perseverance’s harrowing descent to the surface of Mars — NASA has released video taken by the Perseverance landing module and rover showing the famous “seven minutes of terror.”

Calling Oslo VCs: Be featured in The Great TechCrunch Survey of European VC — TechCrunch is embarking on a major project to survey the venture capital investors of Europe, and their cities.

Original Content podcast: Apple’s ‘Ted Lasso’ is all about relentless optimism — This will be our last episode on TechCrunch, as Original Content goes independent!

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

#apps, #daily-crunch, #media, #mobile, #spotify

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Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen: The Latest Podcast Duo

Their new show, “Renegades: Born in the USA,” features the 44th president and the musician speaking intimately and expansively on topics like race, fatherhood and the country’s painful divisions.

#dan-fierman, #higher-ground-productions, #music, #obama-barack, #ostroff-dawn, #podcasts, #renegades-born-in-the-usa-radio-program, #spotify, #springsteen-bruce, #united-states-politics-and-government

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Spotify to launch Spotify Audience Network, an audio ad marketplace

Spotify provided more details today about how it plans to monetize its investments in podcasts. The company said it’s launching a new audio advertising marketplace, the Spotify Audience Network, which will allow advertisers to reach listeners across Spotify’s own Originals and Exclusives, as well as podcasts via Megaphone and creation tool Anchor, and its ad-supported music, all in one place. The company also said it plans to offer podcasts on its self-serve ad platform, Spotify Ad Studio, starting with Spotify Originals and Exclusives in the U.S., in a beta test phase.

This will expand to include third-party podcasts in the future, the company noted today during its live online event, “Stream On.”

Currently, Spotify Ad Studio is being used by advertisers across 22 markets following its 2017 launch, to reach Spotify music listeners with both audio and video advertisements. Spotify said the service is its fastest-growing buying channel, but didn’t provide specific figures to detail that growth.

Image Credits: Spotify

However, the larger news on the advertising side was the launch of the new audio ad marketplace, Spotify Audience Network. Similar to some of its other forward-looking announcements today, Spotify was light on details about how exactly Spotify Audience Network would work — saying only that it’s in the “early stages of developing the offering,” and it expects to be able to share more at a later date.

However, the company positioned the marketplace as a “game changer,” particularly for podcasters looking to make money from ads, as well as for advertisers who want to reach Spotify’s audience of hundreds and millions, both on and off Spotify.

This news follows an investigative report by The Verge earlier this year which found Spotify was the main sponsor for Anchor advertising to date — despite its promises to find sponsors for smaller podcasters. It now appears Spotify has been in the process of building out its ad marketplace and tooling to make good on those promises, and may not have prioritized advertiser outreach in the meantime.

Image Credits: Spotify

Spotify today also spoke about how its recent acquisition of Megaphone would allow it to scale its Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) technology, launched in early 2020, to publishers beyond its own Originals and Exclusives audio programs. Today, SAI is available in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and the U.K., and will expand to other new markets in 2021.

Since its debut, SAI has been rolling out new features like audience-based buying, native ad placements, and reporting on creative performance. Later this year, Spotify says it will make SAI available to Megaphone podcast publishers and “leading” Anchor creators.

But Anchor creators won’t be limited to advertising to grow revenues.

Spotify also briefly noted it will, in a few months, begin beta testing a new feature that will allow Anchor creators to publish paid podcast content to Spotify aimed at their most dedicated fans, as TechCrunch previously reported.

 

#ad-tech, #advertising, #advertising-tech, #anchor, #media, #megaphone, #music, #podcast, #podcasts, #spotify, #streaming, #streaming-service

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Host of ‘Reply All’ Podcast Steps Down After Accusations of Toxic Culture

The host, P.J. Vogt, and a senior reporter, Sruthi Pinnamaneni, each apologized after former colleagues accused them of working against union organizers and “multiple efforts to diversify.”

#black-people, #bon-appetit-magazine, #collective-bargaining, #discrimination, #gimlet-media, #minorities, #organized-labor, #pj-vogt, #podcasts, #polgreen-lydia, #radio, #reply-all-radio-program, #spotify, #sruthi-pinnamaneni, #united-states, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

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How I Podcast: Welcome to Your Fantasy’s Eleanor Kagan

The beauty of podcasting is that anyone can do it. It’s a rare medium that’s nearly as easy to make as it is to consume. And as such, no two people do it exactly the same way. There are a wealth of hardware and software solutions open to potential podcasters, so setups run the gamut from NPR studios to USB Skype rigs (the latter of which has become a kind of default during the current pandemic).

We’ve asked some of our favorite podcast hosts and producers to highlight their workflows — the equipment and software they use to get the job done. The list so far includes:

Articles of Interest’s Avery Trufelman
First Draft and Track Changes’ Sarah Enni
RiYL remote podcasting edition
Family Ghosts’ Sam Dingman
I’m Listening’s Anita Flores
Broken Record’s Justin Richmond
Criminal/This Is Love’s Lauren Spohrer
Jeffrey Cranor of Welcome to Night Vale
Jesse Thorn of Bullseye
Ben Lindbergh of Effectively Wild
My own podcast, RiYL

Eleanor Kagan, Senior Producer, “Welcome to Your Fantasy,” Pineapple Street Studios. Image Credits: Eleanor Kagan

Launching today from Spotify and Pineapple Street Studios (in association with Gimlet), “Welcome to Your Fantasy” explores the true crime tale behind the Chippendales phenomenon of the 1980s. Historians and “Past/Present” hosts Natalia Petrzela, Nicole Hemmer and Neil J. Young will unravel the tale over the course of an eight-episode series. The show took 18 months to create, bolstered by considerable resources from Spotify. Pineapple Street Senior Producer Eleanor Kagan (Another Round, See Something Say Something and Thirst Aid Kit) runs us through the gear the team used to create the series both in-person and remotely, once the pandemic hit. 

Dancer Scott Layne walks host Natalia through one of his routines during an interview. Image Credits: Eleanor Kagan

For in-person interviews not recorded in Pineapple’s Brooklyn studio, my basic reporting kit includes a Zoom H5, which has two XLR channels and allows me to give one Rode NTG-2 shotgun mic to the host Natalia and the other to the interviewee. (On mic stands, of course — the mic itself is prone to handling noise.) I’ve got a Rode pistol grip for when we, say, knock on doors in the neighborhood of the former Chippendales club in LA, looking for people who had been around when the party scene at the club was supposedly causing wars between the owners, neighbors and the police. (Luckily, we found Naomi, 94, who had been there since 1972 and had stories for days. She’s in the podcast.) Christine showed me how she brilliantly uses a cross-body camera strap attached to her recorder so she can hang it comfortably around her. For gear bags I used to swear by the Lowepro Passport Sling, but now that I’m older (lol), one-strapping isn’t comfortable for a long day in the field, so I use a regular backpack. My kit also includes Sony MDR-7506 headphones, an assortment of three- and six-foot XLR cables (always have backups), a deadcat, extra SD cards, an Electro Voice RE50/B mic, pens, snacks, release forms and batteries. So many batteries.

Producer Christine records historian Neil describing the LA neighborhood where the original Chippendales club opened. Image Credits: Eleanor Kagan

Then the pandemic hit. We all went on lockdown. We had done most of our interviews but there were a few we still needed, plus all the host tracking for the series. So we shipped Natalia a kit: a Zoom H6, a Shure SM7B cardioid dynamic announcer microphone, a CloudLifter CL-1 Microphone Activator, a broadcast arm, XLR cables and a windscreen. Natalia set up shop in her closet, surrounded by clothes, a fleece blanket on the floor, and as many cushions as she was willing to pull off her couches and chairs. (Sound bounces off of hard surfaces. The soft materials absorb it so the recordings won’t sound echoey or “roomy.”) We sent our amazing engineer Hannis Brown mic tests so he could diagnose the set-up from afar and suggest tweaks. And Natalia, bless her, was incredibly game to essentially become her own recording engineer ON TOP OF hosting an entire show. We quickly got accustomed to doing everything remotely and over Zoom, as all of us everywhere did.

Natalia’s closet studio. Image Credits: Eleanor Kagan

When it came to remote interviewing, we would connect over Zoom, and both Natalia and our interviewee would record themselves. (We always recorded the Zoom as a backup too.) It was up to us producers to talk our interviewees through self-syncing. Experience and teamwork was of the utmost importance here. Interviewees only had so much time, and explaining how to set up a recording on a smartphone (or iPod!, yes, really) and transfer a test recording quickly, and then troubleshooting any audio problems in their location was important to getting a high-quality interview without taxing anyone’s patience. There are several useful guides and graphics out there that walk through the set-up. There’s something a little bit lost, of course, when we don’t get to walk into people’s homes for interviews, or even when former Chippendales dancers can’t produce their original costume in the middle of the interview — as one guy did. But everyone was incredibly kind and patient and willing to do this for us, for which we are very, very grateful.

In the end, we interviewed about 70 people for this series. We wrote 26 drafts of our first episode. We reviewed 100+ hours of archival footage. And I believe there are still more stories to be told when it comes to Chippendales.

Thankfully, no matter where in the world anyone is, we have the tools to do it.

#apps, #entertainment, #gimlet, #how-i-podcast, #podcasts, #spotify

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Spotify confirms it’s (finally) testing a live lyrics feature in the U.S.

Spotify this morning confirmed it’s testing a new, synced lyrics feature in the U.S. market, following a report from Engadget. Though the streaming music service today offers live lyrics in a number of markets — 27, in fact, including its recent launch in South Korea — it has not offered lyrics in the U.S. for many years. Instead, Spotify here runs the “Behind the Lyrics” feature provided in partnership with Genius, which offers a combination of lyrics and trivia about the song being played.

Reached for comment, Spotify said the new Lyrics feature rolled out as a test for some users in the U.S. starting today.

“We can confirm we’re currently testing our lyrics feature to a select number of users in the U.S.,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “At Spotify, we routinely conduct a number of tests in an effort to improve our user experience. Some of those tests end up paving the way for our broader user experience and others serve only as an important learning.”

The company declined to share additional details about its plans, but did note that its U.S. partner on the new Lyrics feature is Musixmatch — a service that already powers Spotify’s lyrics feature in various non-U.S. markets.

This is not the first time Spotify has run a lyrics feature in the U.S., to be clear. The streaming service had originally worked with Musixmatch from 2011 through 2016, before ending that relationship to instead partner with Genius. But despite ongoing user demand for lyrics’ return, Spotify never brought the feature back to the U.S.

In more recent years, however, Spotify rekindled its relationship with Musixmatch. Last year, it announced the launch of real-time lyrics in, then, 26 worldwide markets across Southeast Asia, India and Latin America. This had been the first time lyrics were offered in 22 of these 26 markets, as only Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico had some form of prior lyrics support via other providers.

Spotify’s ongoing lack of support for lyrics in the U.S. has given its streaming music competitors an advantage. Amazon Music, for example, allowed users to view lyrics as songs played and tied the feature to its Alexa voice platform, so consumers could ask Alexa to search for songs by lyrics. Meanwhile, the updated version of Apple Music that rolled out with iOS 12 in 2018 included a way to search by lyrics, instead of just artist, album or song title. It later added live, synced lyrics with the launch of iOS 13. Siri can also respond to commands that involve lyrics.

Musixmatch additionally confirmed it has partnered with Spotify on the new U.S. test.

“Musixmatch is keeping growing at a fast pace thanks to our continued investment we’ve made [over] a decade. We’re focused now on bringing more data to continue enriching the audio experience globally,” Musixmatch CEO and founder Max Ciocciola told TechCrunch.

Because the lyrics feature is only a test, you may not see it yourself in the Spotify app, due to its limited availability. Spotify has not said if or when the test may be expanded.

#lyrics, #media, #mobile, #music, #musixmatch, #spotify, #streaming

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Soon, you may be able to change the default music service in iOS

It had long been an inescapable fact about Apple’s iOS operating system for iPhones that you couldn’t change your default apps away from those made by Apple itself. But only a few months after Apple changed course and allowed users to change the default email or browser apps, it now appears that same choice is coming for music-streaming services.

After Apple recently pushed out the first public beta of iOS 14.5, a Reddit user quickly discovered that the first time they asked Siri to play a song after updating, they were given a prompt to pick which streaming service to use. Subsequent prompts then obeyed that selection.

Other users on Reddit and MacRumors confirmed similar experiences. They also confirmed that it works if you specify the streaming service verbally, for example, by saying, “Hey Siri, play Heroes by David Bowie on Spotify.”

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#apple, #apple-music, #beta, #homepod, #homepod-mini, #ios, #ios-14, #ios-14-5, #siri, #spotify, #tech

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Spotify hints toward plans for podcast subscriptions, à la carte payments

Spotify again signaled its interest in developing new ways to monetize its investments in podcasts. In the company’s fourth-quarter earnings, chief executive Daniel Ek suggested the streaming media company foresees a future where there will be multiple business models for podcasts, including, potentially, both ad-supported subscriptions and à la carte options.

The company, which also revealed its podcast catalog has grown to now 2.2 million programs, said it’s seen increasing demand for the audio format in recent months.

For example, 25% of Spotify’s monthly active users now engage with podcasts, up from 22% just last quarter. Podcast consumption is also increasing, with listening hours having nearly doubled year-over-year in the fourth quarter.

Today, podcasts on Spot