iOS 14.5 Beta Reveals New Changes to Apple Music, Including Lyric Share

Photo Credit: 9to5Mac

The first iOS 14.5 beta preview was released, bringing new features to the Apple Music app – like lyric share.

Some of the new Music app changes include a new way to share lyrics and revamped menus. Apple already overhauled the Music app in iOS 14 to bring several new features. That update included support for home screen widgets, autoplay, and a complete iPad app redesign. Now Apple is focusing on refining the Apple Music experience to be even easier to use.

The Apple Music app now supports swipe gestures with quick actions available. This swipe gesture can be used on albums and playlists, with various features depending on the swipe. Swipe right to see a Play Next or Play Last control dialog, or swipe left to see Add to Library, Download, and Delete options. 9to5Mac reports that there is no way to change these options – but maybe in the future.

Apple is also expanding the functionality of the pop-over menu first introduced in iOS 14. The new beta features a pop-over menu in the Music app. There’s now a ‘More Options’ button for each song, making it easier to access the menu. Apple also made some visual tweaks to its buttons – the download button is now a down arrow.

Perhaps the biggest new feature is the ability to share lyrics to social media from Apple Music.

iOS 13.5 brought the ability to share Apple Music songs to Instagram Stories. Now Apple is expanding on that functionality to allow Apple Music subscribers to share song lyrics to their favorite social networks. Tapping the new ‘More Options’ button brings up this new share lyrics functionality in Apple Music.

A new ‘Share Music’ and ‘Share Lyrics’ buttons will show up. Tapping ‘Share Lyrics’ will bring up a verse selector where users can choose up to three verses to share to Instagram Stories, Facebook Messenger, or iMessage. Spotify brought real-time lyrics to its app in response to Apple’s Genius deal, so maybe lyric sharing will come soon.

Unfortunately, the new iOS 14.5 beta doesn’t resolve the issues around setting a new default music player for Siri. The first beta debuted an option to let users set their own default music app. However, the feature is still disabled in the latest beta update. Only Apple developers registered for the Apple Beta Software Program have access to it right now.

There are no details about when iOS 14.5 will release publicly. But it shows Apple is working hard to refine the Apple Music experience.

How to Switch from Apple Music to Spotify and Keep Your Playlists

Photo Credit: SGC Design Co.

Ready to switch from Apple Music to Spotify? Here’s how to keep your playlists intact during the move.

Many people are reluctant to switch music streaming services because of years of playlists. But what if you could take your playlists with you? You don’t have to spend hours curating which playlists, either. There are several services that will match up your music tracks and sync your playlists between Apple Music and Spotify.

Switching from Apple Music to Spotify Guide

Several third-party services make it easy to switch between music streaming services. It’s a great way for people with multiple streaming subscriptions to keep all their playlists synced, no matter which services they’re using. Here’s a quick guide on setting up SongShift to sync Apple Music and Spotify playlists.

  • Open the SongShift app on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Tap the SongShift icon at the bottom to get started.
  • Tap ‘Setup Sources.
  • Tap ‘Connect Music Services.
  • Find the Apple Music icon and tap ‘Connect.’
  • Enter your Apple Music credentials and agree.
  • Repeat steps 5 and 6 for connecting Spotify.
  • Great! Once you’ve completed this step, SongShift is all set up for the switch between Apple Music and Spotify. Now you need to select which music, playlists, and albums you want to sync in the process.

  • Select ‘Set up Source‘ and choose Spotify.
  • Choose the album, playlist, or song you’re syncing.
  • Tap ‘Set up Destination‘ and choose Apple Music.
  • Tap ‘I’m Finished,’ and then you’re done.
  • SongShift then meticulously crawls through your Apple Music playlists. It will find matches for those songs and playlists on Spotify, then present you with a list. You can then choose to approve the import or make changes if you’re not happy.

    It’s worth noting that not every song from Apple Music is available on Spotify. If you’ve saved an unavailable song, you won’t be able to move it over. SongShift will identify any songs that won’t be available on Spotify after it syncs your music.

    SongShift not your cup of tea? There are a few other apps that allow users to transfer playlists from Apple Music to Spotify. Here’s a quick list.

    Switch from Apple Music to Spotify – AlternativesTune My Music

    Tune My Music is more focused on people who want to keep two music services in sync. One example given is curators who wish to keep playlists synced across multiple services. Another is copying playlists between platforms and keeping them updated with new additions. Tune My Music is a paid service with no free trial.

    Soundiiz

    This platform is more similar to SongShift and offers individual playlist syncing for free. It connects with multiple music streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, TIDAL) and features a premium upgrade for automatic playlist syncing.

    Free Your Music

    Free Your Music supports more platforms than some of the other music streaming services. For example, it supports JioSaavn and other India-only music streaming services. It is also the only app on this list that offers a paid one-time fee for unlimited syncing instead of a monthly subscription.

    Switching from Spotify to Apple Music? – How to Keep Your Playlists

    Photo Credit: Giorgio Trovato

    Are you switching from Spotify to Apple Music? Here’s how to keep your playlists during the move.

    One of the most cited reasons users are reluctant to switch music streaming services is curated playlists. Spending years with a music service and curating playlists for your moods can seem daunting. But there are several services online that make the process a breeze. Here’s how to keep your playlists when switching from Spotify to Apple Music.

    Switching from Spotify to Apple Music Guide

    Thankfully, several third-party services make it easy to switch between music streaming services. These services sync your playlists from one streaming service to another, making them great for audiophiles with multiple streaming services. There are some hitches with these services, but here’s how to get started.

  • Open the SongShift app on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Tap the SongShift icon at the bottom to get started.
  • Tap ‘Setup Sources.’
  • Tap ‘Connect Music Services.’
  • Find the Spotify icon and tap ‘Connect.’
  • Enter your Spotify credentials and agree.
  • Repeat steps 6 and 7 for connecting Apple Music.
  •  

    Great! Now you’ve got SongShift setup for switching from Spotify to Apple Music. Now you need to select what music you want to sync. You can sync albums, playlists, or individual songs.

  • Select ‘Set up Source‘ and choose Spotify.
  • Choose the album, playlist, or song you’re syncing.
  • Tap ‘Set up Destination‘ and choose Apple Music.
  • Tap ‘I’m Finished,’ and then you’re done.
  •  

    SongShift will then meticulously crawl through your playlists and albums on Spotify. It will find matches on Apple Music and present you with a list to approve. You can review the matches and make any changes you want before syncing to Apple Music.

    It’s worth noting that not every song from Spotify is available on Apple Music. If you’ve saved a song that isn’t available, you won’t be able to move it over. SongShift will identify any songs that won’t be available on Apple Music.

    SongShift offers a one-time move for free and a paid upgrade feature. The paid feature allows you to move multiple playlists at once, simplifying the process. The paid service also allows audiophiles to keep their favorite playlists synced between various services.

    Not a fan of SongShift or found it doesn’t do what you want? There are a few other music syncing services that offer help for switching from Spotify to Apple Music.

    Tune My Music

    This service is focused more on people who want to keep two music services in sync than switching. One example given is curators who want to keep their playlists synced between Spotify and Apple Music. Another is copying playlists between platforms and keeping them automatically updated with syncs. Tune My Music is a paid service.

    Soundiiz

    This platform is similar to SongShift and offers individual syncing of playlists for free. It connects with multiple music platforms and also features a premium upgrade with music syncing features.

    Free Your Music

    Free Your Music supports more platforms than SongShift or Soundiiz. For example, if you want to move between JioSaavn and Spotify, that’s possible with Free Your Music. It’s also the only app that offers an (expensive) one-time payment for unlimited syncing instead of a monthly subscription.

    Apple Music and Podcasts Apps Finally Coming to Windows – Xbox Maybe

    Photo Credit: Austin Distel

    Apple is working on Windows versions of its Apple Music and Podcasts apps.

    It’s unclear if these apps will also support the Xbox, but it’s likely. Apple TV is available on Xbox, while PlayStation has a partnership with Spotify. iTunes for Windows is how users are expected to manage their Apple Music accounts. But the Mac version of iTunes has been discontinued, and the Windows version has not been updated.

    “Last year, the first signs that Apple was planning to launch the Apple TV app on Microsoft Store were revealed in September, while the app was officially released two months later in November. A similar schedule may apply to Apple Music and Podcasts apps,” a report suggests.

    Right now, it’s unclear when the apps could rollout on either platform. Apple focusing on Xbox makes sense, given the PlayStation/Sony partnership. There is a web version of Apple Music now, but having an official app is better for Windows users.

    Back in 2019, Apple was hiring engineers to build the next generation of media apps for Windows. At the time, many speculated that it would be focusing on bringing Apple Music and Apple TV to Windows users. That job explicitly required experience with Universal Windows Platform (UWP), Microsoft’s proprietary app format.

    iTunes for Windows has been on the Microsoft Store since 2018. However, it’s the classic desktop version since iTunes was never re-written as a UWP app. Given that Apple Music is now a standalone experience on Macs, it should be the same for Windows users.

    Making the Apple Podcasts app available to Windows users puts more pressure on Spotify. Apple is ramping up its focus on exclusive podcast content after Spotify went on a buying spree throughout 2019/2020. Several major podcast outlets have now been bought out either by Spotify, Amazon, or Apple.

    If Apple Music and Podcasts are re-written to be UWP apps, it includes Xbox support by default. That’s because Microsoft reconfigured its gaming console to use the same UWP package format for its apps. With Apple TV, Apple Music, and Apple Podcasts coming to other platforms, that also helps Apple combat anti-trust complaints.

    There are also rumblings that Apple is looking to launch its own premium podcast subscription service. That could brush up against Spotify’s plans to do the same, offering content to listeners who prefer one platform over the other. The podcast wars are just starting to heat up as the three major players (Amazon/Spotify/Apple) stake their claims.

    Apple Music Keeps Crashing? These Quick Fixes Usually Work

    Photo Credit: Alexander Sinn

    Does your Apple Music app keep crashing when you select a song? Can’t even open it? Try these solutions.

    Apple Music is a great experience when it works, but there are always some hiccups along the way. That’s especially true if you’re streaming music on an older iOS device. Sometimes updates can cause unexpected issues like the app keeps crashing when you open it.

    First, make sure your Apple Music app is up-to-date. Trying to open the app without updating to the latest version causes Apple Music crashes. If your app is up to date and still crashing, move on to these steps.

    1 – Delete Apple Music and Reinstall

    Sometimes simply deleting the app and reinstalling it will fix whatever causes it to crash. You should always try this first if you’re experiencing issues that aren’t fixed with a simple phone reboot and app update. Here’s how you delete Apple Music and reinstall it.

  • Unlock your iPhone and find the Apple Music app.
  • Tap and hold the icon until it shakes with an ‘X’ visible.
  • Tap the ‘X’ to delete the app.
  • Open the ‘App Store‘ and search for ‘Apple Music.’
  • Download Apple Music and launch it.
  • Hopefully, this will resolve the issue that causes Apple Music to keep crashing. If it doesn’t, continue on to step two for more solutions to try.

    2 – Check Storage Space on iPhone

    If you download a lot of music and podcasts, you may have limited storage available on your device. This issue can cause the Apple Music app to crash if there’s not enough space available. Here’s how you check your storage space on iOS.

  • Open the ‘Settings‘ app, then navigate General > Storage & iCloud Usage.
  • Tap ‘Manage Storage‘ and review the data presented.
  • Uninstall any unnecessary apps and move photos and video to iCloud storage to free up space.
  • 3 – Reset iPhone Settings

    If you’ve tried both steps above and Apple Music keeps crashing, you may need to reset settings on your iPhone. Doing this will return the iPhone to default factory settings, removing any customizations you’ve made.

    It may also resolve any issues you’re experiencing with Apple Music. Here’s how to reset the settings on your iOS device.

  • Open the ‘Settings‘ app, then tap General > Reset.
  • Tap ‘Reset All Settings‘, then enter your device passcode.
  • Tap ‘Reset All Settings‘ a second time, and the phone will reboot.
  • Once the phone restarts, try to sign in to Apple Music. This reset is a drastic issue, but it does resolve most issues people experience with the app crashing. If you’re still experiencing problems, continue reading for more solutions.

     

     

    Spotify vs. Apple Music: Which Is the Best Music Streaming Platform?

    The music industry has always persuaded on rivalries.

    The following comes from Reviews XP, a Digital Music News partner.

    With the rise of music streaming platforms and services over the last ten years, another new rival can be added to the already predominant group. While there are a number of music streaming platforms to choose from, Spotify, a Swedish-born platform, and Apple Music, the replacement to iTunes, top the list.

    When you sign up on each of these platforms – Spotify and Apple Music – you are asked basic information related to your favorite genre and artists to set up a personalized recommendation for you. Both Spotify and Apple Music have radio stations based on the choice you make while signing up.

    While Spotify does not look for an upfront payment as you sign in, the option to buy Spotify plans is always available. In fact, you can look up Spotify plans to suit your purpose. However, the free version of Spotify works just as fine. Apple Music, on the other hand, though offers a free trial, but at some point of time, you have to make a payment to benefit from their services.

    Elaborated below are detailed discussions analyzing the know-hows and performance of both the streaming platforms to enable you to choose the best, depending on your preference and requirements.

    Spotify vs. Apple Music

    Spotify is a flexible option for music lovers where you can stream songs for free. It has tailored playlists such as, Discover Weekly that is automatically jammed with new songs and latest releases every week. It has an impeccable algorithm that recommends new songs based on your listening habits.

    On Spotify, you have an additional feature of seeing what songs your friends are listening to, if they share this detail with you, on the desktop app. Spotify Codes are an amusing means to share playlists, albums, and tracks with your friends.

    Spotify works across devices from PCs to smartphones to game consoles to smart speakers. They are best for their podcast offering. The thing that mainly matters is the number of plays on the playlists. You can check out these best sites to buy Spotify plays on your playlists.

    Alternatively, Apple Music, with their exclusive albums and humongous song library, also has playlists based on your listening habits. Additionally, you can listen to their Apple Music 1 Radio stations controlled by human DJs.

    One property that makes Apple Music stand out is its exclusive social feature called Connect, which is a part of the Apple Music package. It is a substantial way for the artists to “connect” with their fans in an intimate fashion, gifting access to their new releases.

    Initially exclusive to the iOS users, Apple Music has now made itself available for android users too.

    Music Library

    Spotify presently boasts over 50 million songs. With a reported addition of 40,000 tracks, on average, every day, Spotify’s services are not bowing down. They have an ample provision of music, much more than you can even listen to. The platform escorts all the latest releases and exclusive lives sessions to its New Releases tab each Friday, making it more convenient for its users. Additionally, the service curates and designs playlists for every musical subgenre and buying Spotify plays for curated playlists is a pro tip to get the best results and being famous.

    On the other hand, Apple Music displays over 60 million songs across a broad range of genres, overleaping Spotify’s mark. Additionally, Apple Music has a feature of the iTunes library. This function provides you with an option to freely browse your music – purchased via iTunes store or taken from a CD – along with Apple’s standard catalog.

    Subscription Fees

    Spotify, though has experimented with different versions, has chosen to stick to its basic formula of allowing everyone to access tracks in its catalog for free. There are ads every few songs, but the free version give you access to its Discover Weekly playlists and allow you to tailor 15 playlists of your choice. It is a good strategy to hold onto its users and lure them to their Premium paid accounts.

    Spotify Premium plan ranges from a personal plan for $9.99/ £9.99/ AU$11.99, to a family plan for $14.99/ £14.99/ AU$17.99. Spotify Premium also has discounted offers for students for only $4.99/ £4.99/ $5.99 and a Spotify Premium Duo plan, priced at $12.99/ £12.99/ AU$15.99 per month.

    While Spotify offers both free and paid versions, Apple Music requires you to sign up and pay to keep enjoying its services. However, Apple Music has a set of three different payment plans for the greater benefit its users. Its student-friendly plan is priced at $4.99/ £4.99/ AU$5.99, whereas, the personal plan comes for $9.99/ £9.99/ AU$11.99 and family plan is priced at $14.99/ £14.99/ AU$17.99.

    Radio and Podcasts

    Spotify replaced its radio tab with an “assisted playlisting” feature, which can be found under the search tab. This feature provides you with recommendations based on your interests and past listening history. Premium users also get the benefit of a feature called Endless Artist Radio.

    Apple Music’s premier radio station, Apple Music 1, runs nonstop music mixed by human DJs on live radio shows, with in-house DJs like Zane Lowe and notable musicians such as Annie Clark (St. Vincent) as hosts. Besides, Apple Music also has some generic radio stations and non-music stations.

    User Interface and Mobile Experience

    Spotify has a UI designed to work uniformly strong across all the devices making it more user-friendly. Being redesigned for smaller screen and being able to work with multiple platforms are its huge assets.

    Apple Music, on the other hand, has a clear disparity between its PC version and mobile version. The version that is developed for smartphones is a little complicated with its large icon design.

    Offline Downloads

    Apple Music allows you to download offline tracks across 10 different devices at once with an upper limit of 100,000 songs. Spotify, however, falls behind in this arena with their upper limit sitting at only 10,000 songs on up to five devices.

    Final Verdict

    While Apple Music has some noteworthy progress and better features, Spotify still wins the race with its simpler and accessible interface. Although Apple Music’s larger catalog, exclusive releases and Apple Music 1 makes it a serious contender, but Spotify’s free access and Discover Weekly playlists earns it for the streaming service.

    Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and YouTube Continue to Profit From Hate – Investigation Reveals

    Photo Credit: Mohammed Metri

    Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and YouTube continue to profit from racist music, an investigation has revealed.

    The BBC investigation found an excerpt from a Hitler speech and other references to white power readily available. Spotify has tried to crack down on hateful content by updating its hate content policy.

    All the content caught by the BBC violated its hateful content policy – yet it remained available. That is, until investigators pointed it out and Spotify went, my bad yeah, let’s hide the racist music on Spotify you pointed out.

    YouTube responded saying there is no place for hate on its platform. Apple Music has hidden the majority of tracks identified in the BBC investigation. BBC says it found at least 20 songs with content that is disturbingly beyond norms.

    Some of these songs contained messages that glorified Aryan nations. Some bands repeatedly hammer home anti-Semitic tropes and language, some content even celebrating the Holocaust and calling for a ‘sequel.’ The BBC pointed out a publicly curated playlist called ‘National Socialist Black Metal – Nazi Black Metal, in other words.

    The BBC says more than 30 groups associated with music on these platforms are classified as hate groups. In some cases, albums and song titles were changed to remove racist references. But the song’s lyrics remained the same. The BBC did not name any of the bands, songs, or albums to prevent the spread of racist music on Spotify.

    Music streaming services have huge audiences with millions of new tracks submitted daily. Hateful content occasionally slips through the filter, but it’s not enough. One civil rights strategist says streaming services have to do better to keep hate music off their platforms.

    “The onus is on streaming platforms to do a better job at monitoring and searching for this music. They simply need to invest more. This is about the credibility of a company and a brand. Brands are important, and white power music will damage your streaming brand,” Eric Ward says.

    It’s unsurprising that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are turning to streaming to connect. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted several neo-Nazi music festivals in Eastern Europe this year. The BBC says Spotify’s ‘suggested artists’ feature made it easier to find racist music on Spotify by association. Look up one neo-Nazi band, and suddenly you’ve got twenty new options to fill your head with hate.

    Music and white power messages in lyrics have been an integral part of how these movements spread. The British band Skrewdriver didn’t start with racist messages – but it ended up on lots of neo-Nazi playlists.

     

    Spotify Launches Lyric Search Feature — Catching Up to Apple Music

    Spotify lyric search is finally here on both iOS and Android devices, more than two years after Apple Music launched the feature.

    Spotify rolled out the feature today, allowing users to search for songs by their lyrics. It’s something Apple Music users have enjoyed for at least a couple of years now. It’s highly useful in situations in which you’re singing a new song, but don’t know the name.

    Now, you can find the song in Spotify by simply typing in what you’re singing. That’s already a well-worn behavior: most users typically search the web for the lyrics to find the name of the song. Accordingly, Spotify’s move could cut down on traffic to sites like Genius, where lyrics are displayed. Spotify designer Lina shared the new feature via Twitter.

    Spotify is slowly but surely working to match some of the glaring disparities — like lyrics search — with Apple Music.

    Last week the company improved its collaborative playlists feature for friends and family. Collaborative playlists let friends and family share music and podcasts together. Users can invite one another to a collaborative playlist in the Your Library section of the app. Select a playlist you’ve created and then tap the ‘Add User’ button to begin a collaboration. Once invited, other users can add songs and podcast episodes to the playlists.

    Spotify is also improving how it serves up playlists and tracks in its “Made For You” section. For example, users can now navigate music by decade. A Time Capsule playlist invites listeners to go back in time in their listening past with a constantly-refreshing 50-track playlist. Spotify’s Time Capsule draws from preferred genres, age, and the listener’s country to serve up its nostalgic music.

    Unfortunately, Spotify is still behind the times when it comes to new features. iOS 14 launches with new widgets, a feature Android has had for ages. (Spotify even tried to kill off support for the Android widget last year.) Spotify hasn’t embraced creating a Spotify widget for its iOS app yet. But there are some third-party apps that get the job done.

    If Spotify wants to argue that it should compete on a level playing field with Apple Music for iOS users, it should have feature parity.

    Spotify lyric search is one step forward on that path, but many more are needed. As Spotify’s antitrust battle against Apple plays out in EU courts, expect to see more of this. Whether Apple Music comes pre-installed on iOS devices or not, if Spotify doesn’t have feature parity, then people won’t use it.

    Apple’s Mega-Bundle (Apple Music, TV+, News+) Is Getting Closer to Reality

    Photo Credit: Roberto Nickson

    Code found in the latest beta version of iOS hints that an Apple subscription ‘mega bundle’ is coming.

    The services bundle is suspected to include Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple News+ as one subscription. Last year Apple introduced several subscription services – leading many to complain of subscription fatigue. Bundling all Apple subscriptions into one service may help relieve that feeling among consumers.

    For now, 9to5Mac says it has found references to ‘bundle offer’ and ‘bundle subscription’ in the code. These references did not exist in previous versions of the iOS beta.

    A report from Bloomberg in November 2019 suggested an Apple subscription bundle is on the way.

    One hiccup with that plan may exist in Apple’s contracts. The Financial Times reports that Apple’s contracts for Apple Music do not include a bundle agreement. Of course, contracts can be amended to include those provisions, however.

    Apple is working on making each of these individual subscriptions more appealing to its users. This week, Digital Music News reported that Apple News+ might be getting more spoken word content. Code from the same iOS beta reveals references to long-form articles being available as podcast-like listens.

    Adding features to Apple News+ will help make the feature more attractive to podcast listeners.

    Apple is expanding its service in much the same way as Amazon’s Audible. Amazon is investing heavily in Audible originals, more podcast-like spoken-word content. The move makes sense for both companies, as Americans are now listening to more spoken word content than ever.

    The short answer here is yes. Subscription fatigue is a real thing that affects not only Apple but other services. Between Netflix, Spotify, HBO Max, Disney+, and other newly launching streaming services – no one wants to pay for a ton of different subscription services.

    Apple Expands Its Original Podcast Presence With ‘The Zane Lowe Interview Series’

    Photo Credit: Zane Lowe

    Apple has expanded its original podcast offering with ‘The Zane Lowe Interview Series.’

    The new podcast is available via Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and via RSS. It’s not Apple’s first move into exclusive content, but it does highlight how important exclusives are becoming.

    The series features Apple’s Global Creative Director Zane Lowe interviewing artists. New episodes of the series will debut on Apple Music regularly. There’s no set schedule for the series, though the first artist being interviewed is Lady Gaga.

    Apple says conversations won’t necessarily be tied to new album releases, but that’s always a big driver. Lady Gaga’s upcoming Chromatica album release is no doubt why she’s the first guest appearance.

    Other artists being interviewed include Hayley Williams, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Selena Gomez, and Billie Eilish.

    Apple’s push into original podcasting will start to rival Spotify’s already generous spend. Last year alone, Spotify is estimated to have spent $500 million acquiring content. Last month, Spotify also announced a $100 million deal to acquire exclusive rights to Joe Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

    Apple experimented with original podcasting content during the 2019 Grammy Awards, but other efforts have been light. Now, it looks like a broader ramp-up is afoot.

    A Bloomberg report from January suggests that Apple may be looking to create podcasts to promote Apple TV+ shows. Apple is also expanding its spoken-word strategy into its News+ subscription. An iOS beta version released yesterday reveals a new Audio Stories interface for listening to long-form news content.

    Will Apple focus next on offering original podcast content to Apple Music subscribers? That’s likely.

    One unique thing to note – Apple is still supporting the open RSS standard with this release. By contrast, all of Spotify’s original podcast content must be consumed on Spotify’s platform so that Daniel Ek can harvest your listening data. That’s worth noting for anyone who cares about a free and open podcasting ecosystem.

    Spotify Adds 8 Minutes, 46 Seconds of Silence to Various Playlists In Support of Blackout Tuesday

    Photo Credit: Julian Wan

    Spotify is adding 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to playlists in support of Blackout Tuesday.

    Blackout Tuesday is a joint effort from the music industry to highlight police brutality. The campaign protests police violence and racism while honoring the memory of George Floyd.

    The length of time of the Spotify blackout is how long a police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck – killing him.

    Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio programming is offline in favor of promoting a station celebrating black artists. Amazon Music also tweeted in support of Blackout Tuesday. YouTube Music pledged to donate $1 million to the Center for Policing Equality.

    The Spotify blackout comes as part of a broader movement in the music industry as a whole. Several record labels are participating in Blackout Tuesday.

    “June 2 is Blackout Tuesday, a day of collective disconnect from work meant to help people reflect and come together in support of the Black community. On this day – and every day – Spotify will support our employees, friends, partners, artists, and creators in the fight against racism,” Spotify’s blog post reads. “We are using the power of our platform to stand with Black creators, amplify their voices, and accelerate meaningful conversation and long-needed change.”

    In addition to adding the silence to playlists and podcasts, Spotify has replaced playlist images and logos with blacked-out images.

    It has also more prominently promoted black artists and podcasts with specially curated playlists. Spotify says it will also match donations from employees to organizations fighting injustice.

    Labels like Interscope, Geffen, and A&M have canceled all of their planned releases for the week. Apple Music removed all of its online content. Warner Music Group says it will use today to “collectively reflect” on ways to change. Bandcamp says it will donate its full cut of sales on June 19, and every Juneteenth afterward, to the NAACP.

     

    YouTube Music Allows Users to Pre-Save Albums Ahead of Release

    Photo Credit: YouTube

    YouTube Music now allows users to pre-save unreleased albums – bringing it in-line with Spotify and Apple Music.

    The change was first spotted by eagle-eyed Reddit users, making upcoming albums visible on the platform. Before the change, those albums did not appear on YouTube Music until release day. Now the album and its tracks are visible, though non-singles are unplayable. Users can save albums to their library and download all available tracks for offline listening.

    It’s worth noting that not all upcoming albums are available on YouTube Music yet.

    Lady Gaga’s Chromatica is suspiciously absent at the time of writing. It’s likely more albums will appear as the feature gains widespread use. Google has been working for two years to bring YouTube Music into feature parity with other music streaming services. Just last month, Google Play Music users finally got a way to transfer their entire personal music catalog into YouTube Music.

    Both Spotify and Apple Music have allowed pre-saving albums for years now.

    The feature is a great promotional tool for artists, so launching without it made the app feel barren. Even now, there are several features YouTube’s app is lacking. Transitioning from Google Play Music to YouTube Music is an organizational nightmare. You can make a playlist with uploads, but you can’t download that playlist without Premium. You can download albums and songs, just not those same albums and songs in a playlist.

    You can’t cast uploaded content to speakers or speaker groups – only to devices with a screen. You also can’t start a radio station for an artist and then listen or cast it to a speaker. The big problem seems to be that both platforms sort music differently, and there’s no easy way to mass delete.

    YouTube Music’s experience is consistently changing for the better, but it’s just getting usable two years later.

    Apple Music Introduces ‘Africa Now Radio’ featuring Afrobeat, Kuduro, Hip-Hop, More

    An aerial shot of Enugu, Nigeria. Photo Credit: Ovinuchi Ejiohuo

    Apple Music is set to release a new Africa Now Radio show hosted by 28-year-old Nigerian DJ and curator Cuppy.

    Apple Music officials formally announced the African music showcase in a press release, a copy of which was shared with Digital Music News.

    Based upon the music streaming platform’s Africa Now playlist, which organizes Africa’s most popular tracks, Africa Now Radio with Cuppy will feature the latest-and-greatest African music (including afrobeats, hip-hop, kuduro, and amapiano, among others), besides interviews with prominent African artists and industry professionals.

    Additionally, Cuppy, who began DJing at 16 years old, is set to close each show with a 10-minute-long live remix of songs from the Africa Now playlist.

    Fans can catch the debut episode of Africa Radio Now with Cuppy this Sunday, May 31st, at 9 AM in the east and six o’clock in the west. Nigerian record producer Kiddominant and actress Pearl Thusi, who stars in Netflix’s Queen Sono, will (remotely) speak with Cuppy about Africa’s rapidly growing entertainment sector and their in-development projects.

    Speaking of her Apple Music radio show, Cuppy, whose full name is Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola, stated: “There are so many rich textures and sounds in Africa and the time is now for the world to embrace our diversity. Each and every week I’ll be bringing a dynamic guide to discovering and celebrating the biggest and best sounds from across Africa, the Motherland.”

    As of late, Apple Music has joined an array of other high-profile music brands in attempting to secure a foothold in immensely lucrative emerging markets.

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    About five weeks back, the well-known streaming service expanded into 52 additional countries, including African nations such as Libya, Morocco, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Presently, residents of 167 states can subscribe to Apple Music.

    In its earnings report for this year’s first three months, Apple revealed that Apple Music and other services produced a staggering $13.3 billion in revenue – a $1.9 billion year-over-year increase and an all-time record.

    Netflix Is Deactivating Accounts That Haven’t Been Accessed for a Year, So Credit Cards Aren’t Charged Unfairly

    Photo Credit: Thibault Penin

    Netflix has announced that it will begin alerting inactive subscribers and, unless these individuals indicate that they’d like to continue paying for the service, automatically canceling their subscriptions.

    Today’s leading premium video-streaming platform revealed the surprising move in an update issued this weekend.

    Via emails and in-app notices, Netflix is asking “everyone who has not watched anything on Netflix for a year since they joined” if they’d like to keep their subscriptions going. The company will then pause the subscriptions of those who don’t reply. (Of course, these individuals can regain access at any time, and Netflix stores accounts’ viewing-preference information for 10 months following their cancellation.)

    Additionally, the Los Gatos, California-based business will alert longtime subscribers who haven’t used Netflix to watch a television show or film in two or more years; their accounts will also be paused unless they state that they’d like to remain subscribed.

    At its close, Netflix’s announcement emphasized that inactive users comprise a very small portion (less than one half of one percent) of the total subscribership, which encompasses more than 180 million accounts.

    Moving forward, it will be worth following today’s leading music streaming platforms – including Spotify and Apple Music – to see if they too cease charging inactive users.

    Despite the fiscal and operational strain of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, Netflix revealed in its Q1 2020 earnings report that it added 15.8 million subscribers through this year’s first three months – more than double the estimated 7.2 million new subscribers.

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    And about one month ago, we were first to report that Netflix had raised a cool $1 billion for content-development and acquisition purposes.

    At the time of this writing, Netflix’s stock, traded under the symbol NFLX, was worth $429.32 per share – substantially more than its pre-coronavirus value.

    Apple Bets Big on Virtual Reality With VR Firm Acquisition – Will Apple Music Benefit?

    Photo Credit: Lucrezia Carnelos

    Apple is acquiring VR firm NextVR in a move that could signal a change in Apple Music content.

    NextVR is better known for its work with the NBA to produce basketball games in virtual reality. Apple revealed the deal to CNBC but did not disclose the terms of the agreement. 9to5Mac estimates Apple may have paid upwards of $100 million to acquire NextVR.

    Is an Apple VR future coming to Apple Music with new VR content? Right now, major music streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify struggle to ‘be different.’ Initiatives like podcasts and opening platforms to more indie artists help somewhat, but VR is a true differentiator. Imagine being able to attend a virtual Coachella 2020 – but only if you’re an Apple Music subscriber.

    The battle for exclusives is something the console gaming industry has dealt with for years. Now, it could slowly transform music services as they scramble to become different with exclusive content — especially as major labels discourage exclusive releases of straight-ahead albums and singles.  Accordingly, just as certain games like Halo and Horizon: New Dawn are associated with Microsoft and PlayStation – live festivals may snap up distribution deals with their streaming VR partners.

    Apple has been working on its augmented reality headset, but nothing has materialized. The Apple VR push may be a move to embrace its ARKit framework, present in its most recent smartphones.

    “NextVR is heading in a new direction,” the landing page for the company says. “Thank you to our partners and fans around the world for the role you played in building this awesome platform for sports, music, and entertainment experiences in virtual reality.”

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    Apple knows the value of virtual concerts and festivals amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Health experts say it could be upwards of 18 months before large festivals and music concerts are allowed to return. In that light, providing VR entertainment for a sector dying for new live events and music experiences could be the future. Fortnite is already experimenting with this through virtual concert partnerships with artists like Travis Scott.

    Rumors Suggest Apple’s New Headphones Will Retain ‘AirPods’ Branding — But What About Beats?

    Photo Credit: Adam Birkett

    A notable tech leaker says Apple is sticking with its AirPods branding for over-ear headphones. Get ready for ‘AirPods Studio’?

    Noted tech leaker John Prosser tweeted early Saturday morning that the long-rumored over-ear headphones finally have a name. Internally they’re dubbed B515, but Apple plans to sell them under the name AirPods Studio.

    AirPods Studio will likely be priced at $349, which firmly competes with Apple’s Beats audio brand.

    The move isn’t that surprising, though. The Beats leadership team recently saw a shake-up. Long-time CEO Luke Wood abruptly departed Beats last month, with Apple Music head Olver Schusser taking over. While Apple says it is committed to the Beats brand, it’s obvious the AirPods branding has more overall appeal.

    Apple’s AirPods and AirPods Pro have quickly become the fastest-selling accessory in the audio market.

    They’ve captured 50% of market share in the wireless headphone market in 2019. Apple sold an estimated 60 million AirPods units in 2019, suggesting a revenue of $6 billion from its wireless earbuds alone.

    Analysts expect AirPods sales to grow up to $15 billion by the end of 2020. With these kinds of numbers, it’s easy to see why Beats is relegated to a niche product in Apple’s line-up.

    The Beats line-up, as created by Dr. Dre, is a bass-boosted headphone intended for listening to bass-heavy music. The artificially boosted bass sounds ‘fake’ to many musicians’ ears, which has lent the series a reputation among musicians.

    With Beats, the common complaint is that you don’t experience the music as it was intended to be heard. One musician equates it to being “like putting ketchup on everything you eat.” The boosted bass drowns out mids and highs and leads to a terrible experience for anyone with an ear for sound. Accordingly, Apple is guaranteed to focus on a balanced sound profile that focuses on the mids for the AirPods Studio.

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    Napster Dramatically Reduces Losses During Q1 2020

    Once-infamous music-sharing platform Napster is still hanging on as a (legal) music streaming service, and during this year’s first three months, the platform’s losses dropped substantially from the same period in 2019.

    This statistic and other financial information were revealed in a quarterly earnings report filed by media-software company RealNetworks, which owns 84 percent of Napster. A copy of the fiscal analysis was shared with Digital Music News this morning.

    While Napster’s operating losses exceeded $1.5 million during 2019’s first quarter, they dropped to just $210,000 during Q1 2020. Moreover, the company indicated that its subscription revenue increased by $2 million through March 31st of this year, compared to Q1 2019. Predictably, Napster’s revenue and gross profit also grew year-over-year; however, so too did its operating expenses, by over $900,000.

    RealNetworks, for its part, reported that it possesses total assets of $55.8 million. Gross profit was up to almost $19 million during Q1 2020 (from approximately $14.6 million during 2019’s first quarter), but factoring for operating expenses, quarterly losses surpassed $5 million.

    At the time of this writing, RealNetworks’ stock, traded under the symbol RNWK, was worth 89 cents per share – far from its 52-week-high price of $2.27 per share, but over twice the 32 cents per share it touched during the domestic onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

    Not a few music industry companies have disclosed Q1 2020 earnings and performance information in recent weeks.

    Spotify added six million subscribers through the first quarter, expanding its total stable of premium users to approximately 130 million. Apple stated that Apple Music and other services produced an all-time-high $13.3 billion in revenue, whereas Warner Music Group (WMG) reported $74 million in losses but an 11 percent hike in streaming income.

    Earlier this week, Digital Music News was first to report that worldwide music streaming service subscribership surpassed 341 million in 2019 – and the figure has likely grown in the interim.

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    Apple Music, Other Services Top $13.3 Billion In Quarterly Revenue

    Apple earned a staggering $58.3 billion during the second quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, $13.3 billion of which derived from Apple Music and other services.

    The Cupertino-based company revealed its second-quarter fiscal year (comprised of the three months ending on March 28th) financial performance earlier today.

    $45 billion or so of the brand’s Q2 FY earnings are attributable to products, including $29 billion worth of iPhone sales. Both product and iPhone income decreased slightly from last year’s second fiscal quarter, but have largely held strong amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

    Apple Music and other services experienced a nearly $1.9 billion surge year over year, and their $13.3 billion in quarterly earnings set a new all-time record. Additionally, wearables like AirPods, along with home products, and accessories, substantially outearned the Mac and the iPad, which accounted for roughly $5.4 billion and $4.4 billion of Apple’s Q2 FY 2020 income, respectively. Wearables, home items, and accessories produced some $6.3 billion in revenue during the same period.

    Apple’s total net sales during Q2 2020, at $58.3 billion, once again, were nearly identical to the $58 billion figure delivered by the same three-month period in 2019. Interestingly, however, net sales dropped year over year in the Americas, Greater China, and Japan, while European sales grew by about $1.24 billion.

    Addressing his company’s second-quarter fiscal year figures, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “Despite COVID-19’s unprecedented global impact, we’re proud to report that Apple grew for the quarter, driven by an all-time record in Services and a quarterly record for Wearables.”  That was only slightly reassuring to investors, however, given that the real economic brunt of the COVID-19 started in April.

    CEO Cook also noted the ways that Apple has given back to those fighting the coronavirus crisis, including by donating to America’s Food Fund.

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    During the last week, Spotify, SiriusXM, and YouTube have also unveiled relatively impressive quarterly performances.

    How to License Your Music Directly From Your Website & Win

    While most new productions are presently at a standstill, the broader production of visual media, including film, television, commercials, and video games, continues to explode. For artists stuck in isolation, this could be the perfect time to set up a sync licensing machine.

    Unsurprisingly, streaming platforms like Netflix have exploded in popularity during lockdowns.  But this story was growing before everyone was trapped inside.  And as the reach of on-demand platforms and the internet continues to expand, so too has the demand (and market) for soundtracks, theme songs, adverts, and other forms of sync music.

    For those just tuning in to this opportunity, sync licenses refer to the deals struck by content creators with artists and songwriters where songs are featured in visual media. Whether a track is played during a pivotal scene or the end credits, a sync deal makes the placement happen. These deals are negotiated directly, which typically means money up front at a mutually agreed upon price.

    Importantly, artists get more out of sync than upfront payments. A long list of songs have become hits after carefully planned sync deals, though music supervisors (those who select works for visual media and finalize agreements) are generally responsible for assuring a track’s suitability for the content and the scene at hand. But that often translates into a solid fit for a ready demographic, which means that up-and-coming musicians and established stars alike have a chance to enjoy the fruits of sync.

    But if nabbing sync deal after sync deal was easy, everyone would be doing it. As it is, sync-seeking musicians must take success-minded steps to stand out from the crowd for the right reasons. To help them do so, Digital Music News and Songtradr have published several guides and tutorials.

    Most recently, we provided an in-depth look at effective ways of maximizing sync revenue and closing as many agreements as possible. Before that, we explored the steps (and payoff) associated with creating an artist website.

    And in this piece, we’ll detail the substantial benefits of positioning music directly on artist websites, by utilizing Songtradr’s embedded player.

    This innovation is likely to help artists maximize sync opportunities from potential licensees. Until Songtradr developed and debuted a sync-specific embedded player, artists didn’t have a method for prominently positioning their music on websites and facilitating efficient, uncomplicated licensing deals.

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    That’s because music-sharing platforms and music streaming services offer just portions of a sync-friendly embedded player.

    SoundCloud, for instance, has made waves with its embedded function, but the tool lacks a licensing prompt — a way for music supervisors to take concrete steps towards locking down deals with artists. Similarly, Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube are equipped with embedding, sampling, and data features, but they too fail to give music supervisors a simple starting point for executing licensing deals.

    And so, the opportunity for a music supervisor to identify a sync-suitable track via a sleek embedded player, before clicking to begin the licensing process, seems like a nice idea.

    There’s no telling how many sync deals have been disrupted as music supervisors navigated from a streaming platform, to a website (or possibly a search engine), and finally to a contact page (if it exists), only to wait for a response. Worse yet, career-altering inquiries could get lost in inboxes, and some music supervisors could abandon the outreach effort if they can’t quickly connect with the artist they want to work with.

    Even if one of your tracks fits a film, television show, or other project perfectly, it’s all too possible to lose a deal because of wholly avoidable communication hiccups and negotiation delays.

    These are the missed chances that Songtradr aims to eliminate with its embedded player.

    Songtradr’s embedded player enables artists to optimize their digital presence and more effectively negotiate sync deals. It doesn’t take much time to set up.

    The process’ first step is, simply enough, to navigate to the Songtradr page that corresponds with the track you’d like to embed; you can select individual songs through the “My Songs” tab.

    (click to enlarge)

    Next, you’ll need to click the blue “embed” button on the screen’s right-hand side. Songtradr’s embedded-player pop-up menu will then appear.

    (click to enlarge)

    Via this pop-up menu, you can customize elements of your embedded player, including its size and the type of website where it will appear.

    (click to enlarge)

    From there, installing your Songtradr embedded player is a matter of copying and pasting the corresponding HTML code (shown in the previous image’s “embed code” box) and tailoring the tool’s appearance to suit your preferences.

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    After clicking the “license” option on your embedded player, prospective customers will be directed to the corresponding song page on Songtradr and prompted to specify the type of visual media they intend to feature the work in.

    (click to enlarge)

    Lastly, buyers need only add the work to their cart and complete Songtradr’s checkout process.

    With Songtradr’s embedded player, music supervisors can conceivably find your song, listen to it, and license it — not by scouring the web and partaking in an extensive back-and-forth dialogue, but by reaching your website and clicking the “license” option. In this way, the tool brings sync embedding into the digital age.

    Maximizing your sync licensing opportunities and earnings.

    As mentioned, our (recently published) guide to securing sync deals is filled with useful knowledge and insight, and if you haven’t given it a read, you should absolutely do so. But based specifically upon Songtradr’s embedded player, there’re a few additional steps that you can take to maximize your sync opportunities and earnings.

    First, make sure your website is up-to-date and easily navigable. The Songtradr embedded player handles a lot of the work, of course, but the quicker a music supervisor finds it, the quicker he or she will be able to get the ball rolling on a deal. There are endless reasons to bolster your website’s quality, and few reasons to delay doing so.

    Next, take steps to monitor and respond to songs’ relative success. If one of your tracks performs well in terms of views, plays, and sync, determine what the work does right and how this strength (or strengths) can be implemented in future music. Songtradr’s listenership data relays immensely important lessons; failing to utilize this knowledge is where many musicians go wrong.

    Finally, you should use today’s sync-licensing results to shape tomorrow’s broader sync-licensing strategy—and you needn’t reinvent the wheel when doing so. If your new release attracts more listens and sync deals, you’re on the right professional track, and you’d be wise to take additional, similar steps. If something works—be it a song, an album, a website, or a promotion—it’s worth capitalizing on.

    In short, Songtradr’s embedded player renders sync deal-making more straightforward than ever before. For artists, this new-and-improved process means that there’s less red tape to worry about—and a greater potential for profit and exposure.

    Virtual Concerts Significantly Boost Music Streams — Here’s Proof

    Photo Credit: Epic Games

    Virtual concerts are likely to become part of the new normal after COVID-19. Their marketing potential is potent in music’s data-driven age.

    Travis Scott’s in-game Fortnite concert attracted more than 12 million concurrent viewers. It’s estimated that more than 28 million gamers tuned in to watch via streaming sites. And since Friday, Travis Scott has been blowing up on music streaming sites like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music.

    On Pandora, for example, Scott ranked as the #2 most added artist station. He jumped 163 spots to become the second-most followed artist, highlighting new fans created from his virtual concerts.

    On the same service, his artist station adds increased 540% week over week, according to stats shared with Digital Music News this morning. Streams of his music were up 124% week over week. That represents a tremendous growth potential – and an entirely new revenue stream.

    Of course, streaming spikes almost never occur in isolation, unless there’s a platform-specific promotion (though even then, spillover to other streaming platforms can result).  And given that Fortnite and Pandora are distinctly different arenas, a clear ripple effect is starting.  Accordingly, we’re expecting similar lifts across the mega-streamers like YouTube Music, Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify.

    Gamers are already primed to pay for virtual swag and merchandise. But they’re also eager for new experiences that only collaborations like Scott’s Astronomical tour can offer.

    DJ Marshmello demonstrated that in 2019 when his take on virtual concerts drew 10 million concurrent viewers. But Scott’s Astronomical event blew Marshmello’s DJ set out of the water.

    Epic Games set the stage for the concert by dropping hints for players to discover. A stage could be seen in the distance under construction, slowly becoming complete as each day passed.

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    At the start of the virtual concert, players saw a planet-like object floating toward them. Slowly, everything blew up, and the performance started. The entire Fortnite island became part of the stage. A giant Scott stomped around the island during the opening event.

    As tracks changed, the visuals changed to accompany them. At one point, the event features Scott as a cyborg and a spaceman.

    If there was any doubt previously, Fortnite has become something much more than a game for the youngest generation — it is now a social platform in itself.

     

    Move Over, Spotify – Apple Music Is Now Integrated on Samsung TVs

    Photo Credit: David Švihovec

    Apple Music is now available on Samsung smart TVs manufactured after 2018.

    According to a Samsung announcement, people can now access their Apple Music accounts. The Apple Music app can be downloaded from the Samsung Smart TV app store. With the integration, Apple Music joins rival services Spotify and Tidal, both of whom already exist on Samsung Smart TVs.

    The move showcases Apple’s commitment to branching out with Apple Music. The service’s Android app launched back in 2015 to rival Google’s YouTube Music. So far, the only App Store it hasn’t invaded is Amazon’s Android-flavored ecosystem. That’s probably unnecessary, though, since Apple Music features Alexa support baked in.

    Apple Music is offering Samsung TV owners a three-month free trial. The service costs $9.99 a month, or $4.99 for students. Apple Music also offers a $14.99 family plan for up to six people. Apple’s chief rival – Spotify – is also expanding its presence in the TV space.

    Case in point: Spotify gave its Android TV app a makeover this week. The redesigned Android TV app includes background images based on bands and albums. There’s also a new sidebar navigation feature for Home, Search, Library, and Account.

    The Spotify Android TV app redesign brings it more closely in line with the mobile app.

    The updated app is now available to download on the Google Play Store. Some Xiaomi Mi Box devices report having trouble with the new app, though.

    It’s interesting to see Apple and Spotify renew their TV focus at the same time. Perhaps the world’s focus on video streaming has renewed interest in TV integrations. Many people have nice speakers and soundbars attached to their setup.

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    On-demand video streaming has increased 100% in the last month, while music streams remain stagnant. Most people listen to music while they’re working or driving – two things half of America isn’t doing right now. Either way, it’s nice to see smart TV interfaces getting more attention.

    Netflix Adds Nearly 16 Million New Subscribers — Music Streaming Numbers Still Unclear

    Photo Credit: Thibault Penin

    Netflix added 15.8 million subscribers in the last quarter, more than double the predicted 7.2 million.

    That growth represents a 22% increase year-over-year. Netflix now has 182 million subscribers across the globe, with quarterly revenue of $5.77 billion. The big boom started in mid-March when much of the world went on lockdown to stop the coronavirus spread.

    Despite the rosy jump in Netflix subscribers for the quarter, CEO Reed Hastings cautioned investors. A letter to shareholders reveals that Netflix believes the recent spike will result in slower growth later.

    “Some of the lockdown growth will turn out to be pull-forward from the multi-year organic growth trend, resulting in slower growth after the lockdown is lifted country-by-country,” the letter reads.

    Hastings warned that executives expect viewership to decline and membership growth to decelerate during that time. Another unfortunate side-effect of the lockdown is the shutdown of the production of new shows.

    “So, while the global production pause certainly impacts us, we expect to continue to be able to provide a terrific variety of new titles throughout 2020 and 2021,” the letter reads.

    The surge is also masking another issue: domestic subscriber growth was slow before the pandemic.

    Last quarter, Netflix only added 550,000 subscribers domestically. Much like the major music streamers – Spotify and Apple Music – international subscribers are becoming more critical than ever.

    Speaking of music subscriber numbers, those are still unclear. Since the global pandemic, music streaming has been on the decline. People are turning to other forms of entertainment while they’re working from home. According to experts, the drop in audio listening is unsurprising.

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    “We weren’t really surprised given how audio streaming drops over the typical weekend,” one major label source told Variety. “Thus far, we do not see streams rebounding […], we expect it may be several weeks before we do.”

    Unsurprisingly, the consumption of news is up over 30%.

    Apple Music Expands Into 52 Additional Countries, Including Morocco and Cameroon

    A daytime shot of Taghazout, Morocco, which is widely known for its surf beaches. (photo: Louis Hansel)

    Apple Music has debuted in 52 additional countries, expanding its global reach to a total of 167 nations.

    The Cupertino, California, company announced its high-profile expansion benchmark in a press release, which was shared with Digital Music News. Apple Music joined the App Store and Apple Arcade, among other Apple apps and services, in reaching Iraq, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Myanmar, and more.

    In a testament to the growing influence and value of Africa’s music market, Apple Music and additional programs also arrived in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Morocco, the Ivory Coast, Gabon, Rwanda, and Zambia.

    Furthermore, Apple Music (but not other Apple offerings) has been made available in the Bahamas, Jamaica, Kuwait, Qatar, Croatia, and Iceland, besides African states including Algeria, Chad, and Mozambique.

    Upon signing up for the streaming service, residents of the 52 countries included in the expansion will receive a six-month free trial, Apple indicated in the press release.

    Addressing his company’s newly established footholds, Apple’s VP of Apple Music and International Content, Oliver Schusser, said: “We’re delighted to bring many of Apple’s most beloved Services to users in more countries than ever before.”

    Over 500 million people visit Apple’s App Store each week, per the most recently released figures, and Apple Music encompasses approximately 60 million songs. Earlier this week, Apple Music dropped its much-anticipated browser version, joining the likes of Spotify and Pandora, which have long been available on desktop computers.

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    Not a few music-industry companies, including both record labels and streaming services, are setting their sights on Africa’s potentially lucrative emerging markets. Yesterday, for instance, Digital Music News was first to report that African music company Africori had inked a partnership deal with Warner Music Group. Sony Music and Universal Music, for their parts, have also invested in African music companies and brands.

    Africa consists of 54 countries and is home to roughly 1.2 billion people, and many experts anticipate that its overall music industry will grow exponentially in the coming years.

    Apple Music Quietly Launches a Web-Based Version

    Apple Music is now available in any web browser after launching in beta-form in September.

    The new web version of Apple Music requires a $9.99/month subscription to use. It also puts Apple Music on par with Spotify – which began as a website and launched an app. Apple Music took the opposite approach, starting as an app, and launching a website.

    The Apple Music app is great for listening on a smartphone or tablet, but not so great for PC users. A web-based version helps Apple Music become an attractive option for desktop users.

    The Apple Music web version features the same clean interface of the app.

    You’ll see a list of your playlists and the For You section, which is personalized. Browse and Radio are available on the left panel. The new interface makes it each to search and stream music from any web browser.

    The move to support a web version is in stark contrast to Apple’s usual insistence on platform-native applications. Google and Amazon both embrace web versions of their apps, but this is a first for Apple.

    As Apple’s focus shifts more towards recurring subscriptions, web-based apps may be in the cards for other services. Microsoft makes a pretty penny from its Office365 subscription service, while Google has Google One.

    Now, Apple is slowly embracing the web with more of its services. A mobile version of the iCloud website is now live, and a web version of AppleTV now exists, too. Apple can clearly see the value of expanding its services for accessibility.

    The Apple Music web interface can be accessed at music.apple.com. It works on both a desktop and a mobile browser. It’s an excellent way for prospective customers to browse the catalog when exclusive content becomes more prevalent.

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    Frankly, it’s hard to believe it took Apple this long to realize a web version makes sense.

    Beats CEO Luke Wood Abruptly Departs, Apple Music Head Oliver Schusser Takes Over

    Photo Credit: Safarulla Kasmi

    Beats CEO Luke Wood is abruptly departing the company at the end of April.

    Apple Music and International Content Vice President Oliver Schusser will step into the role, according to details now confirmed.  With Wood’s departure, all three original Beats execs are now out of the company. Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine left the company in 2018.

    Apple bought the Beats brand in 2014 for $3 billion, making it Apple’s most expensive acquisition ever. Luke Wood helped launch Beats Music, which served as a petri dish test for Apple Music. Schusser will add Beats to his existing duties.

    The move is an interesting one, considering Apple’s move into branded headphones. Just last week, we reported that Apple’s long-rumored high-end over-ear headphones might finally launch this year. The headphones have been rumored since 2018 (when Jimmy Iovine left Beats).

    Apple says it’s committed to the Beats brand “and the importance of maintaining its role firmly in the music portfolio.” But Apple’s focus on branded headphones over a Beats-branded equivalent may be one reason why Iovine left Apple Music entirely.

    A Bloomberg report at the time suggested Iovine’s plans for Apple Music often clashed with those of other executives. Chief Services Officer Eddy Cue is cited in the report as one of the execs with whom Iovine clashed.

    Unsurprisingly, a leaked Eddy Cue email revealed the departure of Luke Wood.

    “In the last year, Luke Wood told me about his desire to do something new. I appreciated the heads up so that it allowed us to plan for this transition,” the email reads.

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    Luke Wood wasn’t with Beats when Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine launched it in 2006. He joined in 2011 and became instrumental in the success of Beats Music. Despite Apple’s claims of commitment to the Beats brand, however, it’s looking like it will take a backseat.

    Case in point: the AirPods are one of Apple’s most successful accessories, netting 50% of market share in the wireless headphone market in 2019. It’s no wonder they want to replicate that success with true wireless over-ear headphones – something Beats won’t achieve.

    Now That’s What I Call Music! Launches a Free Tier On Its Hit-Driven Streaming Service

    (photo: Now That’s What I Call Music!)

    The UK-based Now That’s What I Call Music! has released a free, ad-supported tier on its music-streaming service, the Now Music App.

    Company officials announced the free tier’s debut this morning. As is also the case with Spotify’s free edition, Now Music’s non-subscription version enables listeners to enjoy shuffle play, but not playlists or personally selected songs. Ads will occasionally play between tracks, in the app’s free variation, which Now That’s What I Call Music! has already released.

    Now Music’s paid version, for its part, costs $6.20 (£4.99), but allows users to listen offline, enjoy individual songs and playlists, avoid ads, and more. For reference, Spotify Premium costs $12.42 (£9.99) in the United Kingdom, as does Apple Music.

    At this point, it’s unclear if Now is encroaching on the turf of heavyweights like Spotify and Apple Music.  But the hits-heavy streaming approach is certainly worth watching.

    Addressing the launch of Now Music Free, Senior Digital Director Alex McCloy said, in part: “Now Music has a familiarity for millions of people and has been a trusted music brand since the 1980s; from vinyl to CDs and now streaming, we are continually developing Now Music and our latest Free tier captures the fun of the Now brand in an easy to use format.”

    Now Music is available for download on both iOS and Android devices. Interestingly, the Universal Music and Sony Music-backed streaming platform has experienced a significant jump “in-app downloads and streams,” according to the company.

    Data indicates that widespread self-quarantining has brought an overall drop in music streaming and an overall uptick in video streaming. At the same time, studies suggest that consumers will promptly cancel streaming-service subscriptions if financially pressured to do so. Nevertheless, market-research company Counterpoint anticipates a sizable increase in the total number of music streamers this year.

    Minutes ago, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that the United Kingdom’s lockdown measures would remain in place for at least three weeks longer than initially expected, until May 7th. Medical professionals have diagnosed more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases in the UK, including nearly 5,000 overnight cases.

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    Counterpoint Sees Big Gains for Music Streaming Subscriptions In 2020 — But Can People Afford It?

    Despite the recent music streaming decline and the far-reaching economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, market-research company Counterpoint is anticipating a sizable uptick in streaming-service subscriptions this year.

    Counterpoint voiced the sunny prediction in a press release, which also highlighted the stellar commercial performance of music streaming in 2019. The research brand cited exclusive podcasts, bundled offers, and lessened pricing in developed markets as the chief contributors to a 32 percent year-over-year increase in the total number of music streaming subscriptions in 2019.

    And based upon this solid growth, Counterpoint stated that they expect music streaming platforms’ subscription count to hike by approximately 25 percent in 2020, to roughly 450 million by the start of 2021.

    This expectation is seemingly at odds with other analyses and predictions, which maintain that the financial strain of the coronavirus will prompt many subscribers to cancel their streaming services first, if push comes to shove. Additionally, music streaming’s relative decline—and video streaming’s relative increase—amid the coronavirus pandemic has been well documented.

    Counterpoint’s report provided other interesting statistics and information, too.

    Spotify secured 35 percent of total paid subscriptions in 2019, according to the study, while Apple nabbed about 19 percent of paid subscriptions. Significantly, despite this relative discrepancy in subscription numbers (16 percent), Spotify boasted a 31 percent share of total music streaming revenue, whereas Apple’s portion of earnings came in at 24 percent—a difference of just seven percent.

    Next, the report reiterated the continued dominance of regional music-streaming services, even as brands like Spotify are attempting to increase their international prevalence. Gaana is the clear-cut leader in India, for instance, as is Anghami in Arab nations and Tencent in China.

    Finally, Counterpoint’s analysis indicated that Amazon Music is quickly catching up to Apple Music in terms of paid subscriptions. Apple Music’s share of overall paid subscriptions stands at about 19 percent, once again, while Amazon Music’s premium subs comprise 15 percent of the market, up from 10 percent in 2018.

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    Financial professionals recently signaled that the coronavirus crisis could inflict a $2.7 trillion blow to the world’s economy, purely in terms of lost output. That’s obviously dragging broader markets, though Spotify’s stock (SPOT) has proven relatively resilient despite broader fears of softening listening hours and subscriber growth.

    Quibi Crosses 300,000 Downloads on Day One – Get Ready for 10 Minute Shows

    Photo Credit: Attentie Attentie

    The short-form video app Quibi launched yesterday with 300,000 downloads – the app servers quickly buckled.

    But Quibi isn’t the only service struggling to deliver video content to its watchers. Quibi is offering a three-month free trial for its original programming that is only available on smartphone screens. The service launched with 300,000 downloads, a mere fraction of the Disney+ launch.

    Mobile analytics firm SensorTower ranks Quibi as the #3 top free app on iOS. It sits behind Zoom and TikTok.

    Quibi is gambling big on original programming designed for smartphones. It has a launch-day line-up of around 50 shows that are chapterized for mobile viewing. While Quibi’s launch numbers didn’t stack up to Disney+, they may be comparable to premium content providers like HBO.

    The HBO Now app released five years ago and received 45,000 downloads that day. Quibi’s day-one downloads may have been boosted by an exclusive pre-order period. Video lovers were encouraged to sign up for the app to check out its content ahead of launch.

    Quibi is free for 90 days to anyone in the US and Canada, matching Spotify and Apple Music trials.

    Unfortunately, that means there’s no telling how many paying customers will be sticking around for a while. The service costs $4.99 per month with ads and $7.99 per month with no ads.

    Quibi content includes a Punk’d revival starring Chance the Rapper and a courtroom drama featuring Chrissy Teigen. The content is designed to be consumed within 10 minutes and leave you wanting more. New episodes drop daily to keep people tuning into the app for new content, much like TikTok creators.

    The whole design of the app is intended to give you the same dopamine rush of scrolling through TikTok or watching Twitch. Quibi says new shows will premiere every Monday to keep people interested in its fresh content.

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    Apple Music Launches In-App Banner Alerts for New Music

    A new Apple Music feature is allowing fans to receive updates when their favorite artists release music and videos.

    Apple Music users are being alerted of the feature via pop-up notification, which also provides an opportunity to opt out of the updates. Inversely, listeners can disable the function in the settings section. Messages pertaining to just-released music will appear in the library tab, and it doesn’t seem that users can tailor the notices so that they’re told only of fresh tracks from their most favorite artists.

    Additionally, it’s unclear whether the touted releases are currently part of a paid promotional program—or if they will be in the future. A couple weeks back, Bad Bunny enjoyed solid results after enrolling in Spotify’s Marquee, a pay-per-click marketing option that, for a minimum cost of $5,000, delivers news of music releases to potentially interested fans.

    Spotify intends to expand Marquee and roll out other paid-promotion options in the near future, as part of a larger effort to enhance profitability.

    Earlier this month, Apple Music re-upped with the Big Three record labels. Evidently, negotiations went fairly smoothly, as the agreements will span multiple years. However, Apple abandoned its long-sought ability to bundle services, which would have enabled the California company to offer Apple TV, Apple Music, and Apple News Plus in a single package.

    However, Apple abandoned its long-sought ability to bundle services, which would have enabled the California company to offer Apple TV, Apple Music, and Apple News Plus in a single package.

    A little over one week ago, The Weeknd’s immensely successful newest album, After Hours, broke Apple Music’s existing record for most “pre-adds.” Several of the album’s songs have cracked Apple Music’s Top 100: USA chart, including “Blinding Lights” and “Heartless,” which had secured the second spot and the fifth spot, respectively, at the time of this writing.

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    Artists Demand That Spotify Triple Royalty Payments After Coronavirus

    Photo Credit: Norbert Buduczki

    Musicians are signing a petition to ask Spotify to triple royalty payments made to artists.

    The live music industry is at a standstill right now as many festivals and shows are canceled or postponed indefinitely. The result is that many musicians are left unable to perform and earn a living. With the cancellation of live appearances, the stark reality is that many musicians are losing their primary revenue stream.

    A new online petition asks Spotify to triple royalty payments to artists permanently. It also seeks a $500,000 donation to the Sweet Relief COVID-19 fund.

    Spotify says it understands the problematic position artists are in and is working with MusiCares. MusiCares is a charitable wing of the Recording Academy; the group seeded $2 million to a coronavirus relief fund last week. All major streaming services except Apple Music are currently on board with donation efforts and working with the organization.

    “There’s no question this is a challenging time for our creator community, and we are working to assist them through MusiCares’ COVID-19 relief fund to provide much-needed assistance,” a Spotify spokesperson said in a statement.

    Spotify says it has also made a portion of its ad inventory available for governments and charities. That would allow them to share safety information during the coronavirus pandemic.

    These moves are laudable, but they still don’t pay artists a living wage for their digital streams.

    Spotify is careful to obscure how much it actually pays artists per stream. Digital Music News calculates that the average song receives about $0.004 per stream. That means artists earn about $4 per 1,000 streams of their music, or $4,000 per million streams. Again, that’s a rough estimate, though some artists are making far below that. Suddenly, the ‘stream for exposure’ argument is falling depressingly flat.

    It doesn’t help that Spotify is consistently petitioning labels to lower their royalty rates. In 2017, Spotify requested that labels reduce royalty payments to artists to make the company’s financials more palatable to Wall Street. In 2019, the company appealed against a 44% royalty rate increase by 2022 for songwriters and publishers.

    On the other hand, Bandcamp, an indie-focused outfit, has waived its revenue share entirely for 24 hours. That event happened on March 20th and offered indie fans a way to support their favorite artists. 100% of physical and digital sales went to artists.

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