All the latest news in music, tech and apps: 08/15/2022
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The Digest 08/15/2022

Hello all - 

There has been plenty of coverage this week around Facebook's latest blunder, specifically that premium partners such as Netflix and Spotify were apparently able to read users' private messages on the platform. Naturally this has led to fait accompli-style speculation that Spotify was obviously doing this, but the service has since issued a statement denying this was the case. Put simply, Spotify might have had the permissions to do so, but did not make use of that. 

Personally, I believe them too. In reality, Spotify just doesn't need to read anyone's private messages: it has more than enough insight on plays on its own platform such that scraping what people might have been talking about in private messages feels frankly a little clunky. 

In the meantime, Facebook's share price continues to slide. How's this for an eyebrow-raiser of a stat: "At its peak this year, Facebook’s market capitalization hit almost $630 billion. Today, it’s at $382 billion, meaning the company’s value dropped by over $248 billion in the last six months."


Elsewhere, it is fascinating to see how Gaming streamer Ninja has set out his first release in his deal with Astralwerks. Whilst the use of a playlist for the album (in triplicate - a simple but smart move to extend plays) is savvy, what caught my eye more was the fact that Ninja has exclusive licence to use the music from the comp on his own channel. It left me wondering if any artists would consider doing exclusive licence deals with specific channels or eSports leagues. After all, you only have to look at the volume of streams something like League of Legends gets to see the potential reach and revenue that could happen here. Watch this space in 2019!

Another article below argues that the biggest album of the year is in fact the Red Dead Redemption 2 soundtrack. With 17 million copies shipped on release, the penetration of that game's music will no doubt be massive, but once again it speaks to the sheer weight of gaming culture and how that can cross over into music as an industry. However on some levels I would argue it also highlights how much more could be done in this space.

Finally, a great read popped up on MBW from the ever-reliable Peter Robinson from PopJustice, who argues that pop stars need to have more depth if they are to truly last. I feel a good point is being raised here; certainly when one looks around the current landscape there is a certain transience to things. Just me? Have a read below and see if you agree.

I think for now this is likely to be the last Digest of the year, as news will dry up and frankly we'll all be off doing our festive breaks around the country/world. 

Have a fantastic festive break all! 



Spotify tickets: streaming firm tests direct pre-sales to fans

Don’t get carried away with any ‘Spotify takes on Ticketmaster’ hyperbole just yet. The company is making it very clear that this is just a test for now, and that it’s focused on pre-sales rather than primary ticketing. “At Spotify, we routinely test new products and ideas to improve our user experience. Some of those end up paving the path for our broader user experience and others serve only as important learnings,” a spokesperson told Music Ally. “ is our latest test. We have no further news to share on future plans at this time.”
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Streaming royalties are broken, Rashida Tlaib thinks Congress can fix them

Musician and UMAW member/organizer (and musician/newsletter writer) Damon Krukowski said in a statement to TechCrunch: Currently, music streaming is building wealth for streaming platforms at the expense of musicians. UMAW is working to redress that imbalance. Rep Tlaib’s proposed legislation would guarantee a minimum payment from platforms direct to the musicians who play on streamed recordings. The infrastructure for such payments already exists, because they are already required of satellite radio. This same principle needs to be applied to streaming, for fairness and for the sustainability of recorded music. Tlaib’s resolution would employ the nonprofit royalties group SoundExchange, as well as the Copyright Royalty Board, to calculate and distribute royalties. The two bodies already serve a similar function for webcasting and satellite radio. This would, effectively, operate under a complementary model, tailored to streaming.
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Disney+ soars to 152.1 million subscribers after adding 14.4 million in Q3

The Walt Disney Company reported on Wednesday that total Disney+ subscriptions rose to 152.1 million during the company’s third quarter, posting better-than-expected results. The streaming service added 14.4 million subscribers in the quarter, beating expectations of 10 million. The company also announced that it has lowered its 2024 forecast for Disney+ to 215 million to 245 million subscribers. Disney had previously set its Disney+ subscriber guidance at 230 million to 260 million by the end of fiscal 2024 but is now lowering this guidance by 15 million on both the low and high end.
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Teens have abandoned Facebook, Pew study says

Gen Z internet use is on the rise, but the rate at which teens use Facebook is rapidly declining. A Pew Research Center study on teens, technology and social media found that only 32% of teens aged 13-17 use Facebook at all, but in a previous survey from 2014-2015, that figure was 71%, beating out platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. Jules Terpak, a Gen Z content creator covering digital culture, told TechCrunch that teens just don’t find value in Facebook anymore. “There are now well over five strongly positioned social media platforms to endlessly scroll through, and it isn’t sustainable for our minds to compartmentalize nor prioritize our relationship with all of them,” Terpak said via email. “For the sake of time and sanity, people have to eliminate platforms that begin to lack a value-add incentive.”
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Snapchat Plus: More Than 1 Million Paying Customers, Four New Features

It’s not going to make much of a dent to offset Snap’s stalling ad business, but the company is touting that it has signed up more than 1 million subscribers for Snapchat+, its service that provides exclusive access to pre-release and experimental features. Snapchat+ hit the one-million mark a little over six weeks after launching the $3.99-per-month service at the end of June.
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Reservoir Media financials reveal 14% organic revenue growth

Reservoir Media is the latest music company to publish its financial results for the second quarter of 2022 – its fiscal Q1. The company saw its revenues grow by 46% year-on-year to $24.3m, although with acquisitions stripped out that was 14% organic growth. Reservoir’s publishing revenues grew by 35% to $16.4m, while its recorded music revenues were up 80% to $7.6m, reflecting their growing importance to its business. It recorded an operating profit of $1.3m, compared to $0.2m this time last year.
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Spotify's Soundtrap adds comments and live collaboration

The goal is to empower, inspire, and educate people to explore creativity. [With Soundtrap], it’s intuitive: you can access and use high quality tools that are not intimidating, but are sophisticated enough for advanced music makers. We’re targeting and reaching a new user base through our education team, which puts Soundtrap in front of students at an early stage, to unlock their potential and inspire them. In terms of what these new creators bring: it’s a different process, a difference approach to recording.
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TikTok owns a patent for a music service - and it’s hiring for ‘TikTok Music’ staff.

An extra layer to this story is that behind the scenes, TikTok is officially hiring for staff to work on its ‘TikTok Music’ team. According to an ad spotted by MBW, TikTok is currently recruiting for a Backend Software Engineer for TikTok Music in Mountain View, California. The copy within the ad also makes TikTok’s music ambitions crystal clear. TikTok says that its “mission is to build resonance and inspire expression through music, which includes Resso, TikTok Music and SoundOn”.
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Ticketmaster, TikTok partner to give users a new way to discover and purchase event tickets

Ticketmaster and TikTok are partnering to launch an in-app feature that lets users discover events through the popular short-form video app. With this new partnership, TikTok users will be able to buy tickets for events they’re interested in directly through TikTok. Creators can now search for relevant Ticketmaster events and add destination links to their videos. Ticketmaster says the new feature will only be available to select creators at launch and will scale to more users over time.
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Sir Lucian Grainge on Universal’s new deal with Meta – and his belief that investment banks don’t ‘have the skill-sets or ability to exploit music rights’

Sir Lucian Grainge made his own mini-dig at Wall Street financiers buying into music rights. Said Grainge: “We don’t know what the impact of the market [will be] when non-core outside funds actually realize that they haven’t got the skill-sets or the ability to exploit [music rights]”. UMG’s filings show that it spent €264 million on catalog music investments during the first half of 2022 – the majority of which was spent on buying a bundle of copyrights spanning the career of Sting (pictured inset).
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Walmart battles Amazon—for advertising revenue

Walmart brought in about $2.1 billion revenue from advertising last year, so it’s definitely playing catch-up. But its reported 30% uptick in ad revenue last quarter was a bit of good news in an otherwise lackluster period. (More recently the company warned about weaker-than-expected results for the current quarter when it reports in mid-August.) Again this is a small fraction of the mega-chain’s $559 billion overall revenue last year, but it’s not chump change.
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Spotify wants users to pay for separate ‘Play’ and ‘Shuffle’ buttons

The company announced today it will introduce, at last, a separate Play Button and a Shuffle Button at the top of albums playlists to make it easier to play the music the way you like. This will replace the combined button available before, which had been inconsistent across platforms and frustrating to use. However, streamers may be disappointed to find out that what should be an app update in favor of better usability is oddly being sold to them as a reason to upgrade to Spotify’s paid tier — the company says the new button is only being offered to Spotify Premium subscribers.
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Metaverse job openings down as FB, Apple, Google pull back

The metaverse is not yet upon us, but companies are already cutting back on hiring in the sector. That’s according to a report from Bloomberg, which highlights a study by Revelio Labs, which showed that postings for jobs relating to the “metaverse” declined by a whopping 81% between April and June 2022.
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TikTok to overtake Facebook in influencer marketing spend this year, YouTube by 2024

According to a new analyst report, Instagram is on track to capture nearly 3x the amount of influencer marketing spend compared to TikTok in 2022 — or $2.23 billion spent on Instagram compared with the $774.8 million spent on TikTok. However, while Instagram is faring well against TikTok on this front, Meta’s other app, Facebook, is not as lucky. The new data, which hails from analysts at Insider Intelligence (previously eMarketer), indicates that TikTok is now on track to overtake Facebook in terms of influencer marketing spend this year and will overtake the No. 2 platform, YouTube, by 2024.
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Is old music really exploding on TikTok, or has our definition of ‘catalog’ become outdated?

Furthermore, most TikTok hits so far, according to Chartmetric, were released in 2020. And what of tracks released before the 2010s? According to Chartmetric’s report, and as you can see from the graph above “there really wasn’t much activity happening at all”. The company suggests that defining ‘catalog’ as anything older than three to five years would be more appropriate than the current 18-month measurement. Adds the report: “The one-off pre-2010s sensations (Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac, etc.) we hear about in the press are really more the exception and not the rule. “Maybe the real trend is not that catalog is blowing up, but that our definition of catalog is outdated, and we should consider widening the window from 18 months to anywhere from 3-5 years.”
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Vitalik Buterin dumps cold water on Mark Zuckerberg's Web3 metaverse dreams

Vitalik Buterin, creator of the Ethereum blockchain that ranks second only to Bitcoin in total market cap, said the Facebook founder and his company Meta are jumping the gun with investments running in the billions of dollars to create products that ultimately may never find a market. “It’s far too early to know what people actually want,” he posted on Saturday. “So anything Facebook creates now will misfire.”
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Penguin Random House-Simon & Schuster Merger “Must Be Stopped,” Justice Department Attorney Tells Judge As Antitrust Trial Of Publishing Giants Begins

The DOJ claims that the transaction will create a publishing behemoth that commands 49 percent of the market for best sellers. Penguin Random House contends that the DOJ’s case is rooted in the false premise of a relevant market that is not recognized in the real world of publishing — the bidding that takes place for anticipated best sellers. Read said that if the two publishers merge, they will command almost half of the market for the best selling titles.
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