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All the latest news in music, tech and apps: 04/10/2017
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The Daily Digest 04/10/2017

Hi everyone, 

It would appear one person still believes streaming exclusives work, as Jay Z has apparently pulled his catalogue from both Spotify and Apple Music. Whilst one sees the logic in some respects (i.e. this pushes people to Tidal), the wisdom of it is definitely up for debate, not least because the exclusivity of Kanye's TLOP album on Tidal drove record levels of piracy but also failed to retain people signing up for the platform with a heavy abandonment rate once the trial period was up. Perhaps the interesting thing here will be how long Jay Z's catalogue remains exclusive for. Could this be a move to please investors? Something to shore up Tidal's value ahead of a sale? Time will tell.

Elsewhere there's a great long read courtesy of the MIT Technology Review, which posits that we need more alternatives to Facebook as the platform is now too powerful and all-encompassing. It is a fascinating read that suggests how change could come, with the fragmentation of the TV marketplace being used as a point of comparison. Personally I feel that at some point all such entities simply get too big anyway - not in a fiscal sense, but from a point where the general population simply feels 'over' the service and craves something different. I remember the days when everyone thought Bill Gates and Microsoft would rule the planet, and whilst the company is still huge, the growth of Apple (and indeed the Android, Linux & Open Source OS markets) now means greater innovation in general and a healthier outlook for all. I'd also argue that the messy nature of Facebook at present shows its own crisis of identity, which might well prove its undoing. Read more below - its well worth your time. 
 
Have a great evening, 

D. 

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Contents:

Jay Z's Spotify Catalog Pulled

Billboard reached out to Spotify and Jay Z and only heard back at press time from Spotify, which confirmed that "some of his catalog has been removed at the request of the artist." The move comes as Tidal, the company Jay Z launched in 2015 and heavily invested in, remains a distant finisher in the opaque streaming marketplace. The self-proclaimed more artist-friendly service trails leaders Spotify (50 million subscribers as of last count), Apple Music (20 million at last official count) and Amazon (never says, but when bundled with Amazon Prime could be well over 10 million). Tidal's subscription numbers are thought to be under 3 million and perhaps on par with competitors Deezer and Napster.
 
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We Need More Alternatives to Facebook

But having many more niche alternatives to Facebook could be exactly what we need. Even if none stole a significant chunk of Facebook’s users, it might be enough to remind people that even as Facebook becomes more powerful than ever—rolling up massive profits and preparing to beam down Internet access to offline corners of the globe—other options are possible, and vital. Why are we finally now in what’s often called a golden age of television, with culturally influential, sophisticated shows that don’t insult our intelligence? It’s not because broadcasters stopped airing schlock. It’s because the audience is more fragmented than ever—thanks to the rise of public broadcasting and cable TV and streaming services and many other challenges to big networks.
 
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Spotify IPO: Direct Listing Plan Comes With Risks

Howard Lindzon of Stocktwits said “Love this from Spotify- more companies should do this and end the lame game of investment bank robbery.” But the move carries a lot of risk: First-day trading performance is particularly crucial for high-profile listings of consumer tech brands like Spotify, and a direct listing leaves the share performance entirely to chance. There’s no “deal support,” i.e. no guarantee of a nice, healthy first-day pop engineered by careful banker maneuvers. No CNBC commentators gushing that the deal was “priced to perfection.”
 
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Kobalt revenues rise 15% to reach $260m as operating losses narrow

Kobalt Music Group posted annual revenue of $260m in the 12 months to end of June last year – a year-on-year jump of 15%. New documents filed at Companies House in the UK reveal that the business also saw its gross profit increase 8.4% to $30.7m, as administrative expenses were reduced by 23.8% to $38.3m. The company’s operating loss decreased significantly, down 32.4% to $16.7m from $24.7m in FY2015. Kobalt’s loss after tax followed suit, decreasing 27.7% to $19.5m in the 12 months, down from $26.9m in FY 2015.
 
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Daniel Ek pays tribute to Spotify's Chris Bevington following death in Stockholm attack

Bevington, 41, worked at Spotify for the past five years, most recently serving as its Director of Global Partnerships/Business Development. The father-of-two (pictured), who previously worked at Warner Music Group, was based in the Swedish capital. Writing on Facebook today (April 9), Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek paid tribute to Bevington, saying there were “no words for how missed he will be”.
 
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Could more than $1bn in music publishing assets be sold this year?

2017 is shaping up to be a historic year for the acquisition of music publishing assets – and the price paid for them. The two targets on the radar of the global industry right now are Canadian rights group ole and independent publisher Carlin Music. Carlin is believed to be on the block and attracting interest in the region of $250m. According to the FT, Carlin’s catalogue of more than 100,000 songs has been put on the shopping list of companies including Sony/ATV, Atlas Music and Concord Music. However, one of its more obvious potential buyers, BMG, has ruled itself out, according to sources.
 
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Spotify Premium Director Robert Lamvik leaves company for meditation app Headspace

Lamvik spent almost four years at Spotify working on the music streaming company’s growth and revenue initiatives, i.e. subscription service Spotify Premium. With Lamvik on board Headspace as head of growth, the goal is to essentially turn Headspace into a subscription leader like Spotify. “[Spotify has] basically perfected the freemium model,” Lamvik told me. “This was an opportunity to join a mission-driven startup like Headspace and an opportunity to bring people together and bridge together health and happiness.”
 
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Other recent articles:

Facebook is turning into a confusing social nightmare
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Why Spotify’s IPO-less IPO is a smart idea
The long intros of the '80s are dead thanks to Spotify
YouTube will now block ads on channels with under 10,000 views
Things we're loving - a random list:  Disclosure: items marked * are Motive Unknown clients

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