YouTube partners with Eventbrite to sell concert tickets on music videos

YouTube is extending its ticketing initiative, already live with Ticketmaster, with the new addition of Eventbrite. The partnership, which was announced this morning, will see Eventbrite listings for live music performances across the U.S. when watching YouTube Official Artist Channels. Beneath these videos will be show listings and a “Tickets” button which users can click […]

YouTube is extending its ticketing initiative, already live with Ticketmaster, with the new addition of Eventbrite. The partnership, which was announced this morning, will see Eventbrite listings for live music performances across the U.S. when watching YouTube Official Artist Channels. Beneath these videos will be show listings and a “Tickets” button which users can click to make purchases, across both YouTube on the desktop and in the YouTube app.

The video streaming site had first entered into the ticketing business late last year with a dealt to sell concert tickets on YouTube video pages, powered by Ticketmaster listings.

The launch had arrived at a time when Spotify and Apple Music were running away with the streaming music business in the U.S., while YouTube was still getting its own music competitor, YouTube Music, off the ground. However, the video site on its own has a massive reach beyond those who pay for its streaming music subscription. It announced in May some 1.8 billion logged-in users monthly – many of whom are watching music videos, of course.

YouTube has also recently ventured into other ways to monetize its videos, including through merchandise sales in partnership with Teespring, for example, as well as through channel memberships and Super Chat for top fans.

With the Eventbrite deal, YouTube says the integration will apply to thousands of artists with YouTube Official Artist Channels around the world, with Eventbrite show listings. However, the listings will focus on concerts in the U.S.

The company declined to say how ticket sale revenue was shared, or discuss other aspects of the deal’s terms.

With the addition, YouTube now covers more than 70% of the U.S. ticketing market, it says. The company plans to expand the feature to include more artists and venues across North America next, then expand the feature globally.

Spotify’s Premium app gets a big makeover

Spotify has given its app a big makeover, with a focus on making the experience better for its paying subscribers. The company has simplified the app’s navigation by reducing the numbers of buttons and has revamped its Search page, which now incorporates elements previously found in “Browse,” like favorite genres or music to match a […]

Spotify has given its app a big makeover, with a focus on making the experience better for its paying subscribers. The company has simplified the app’s navigation by reducing the numbers of buttons and has revamped its Search page, which now incorporates elements previously found in “Browse,” like favorite genres or music to match a mood. And it’s given its Radio service a redesign as well, with the addition of new and easy-to-use Artist Radio Playlists.

The most immediately noticeable change is the app’s navigation.

Spotify has always felt a bit cluttered, with its five navigation buttons – Home, Browse, Search, Radio and My Library. The new app has chopped this down to just three buttons – Home, Search, and My Library.

Recommendations will appear on the Home page, following the update, while discovery is powered by Search.

The Search page lets you seek out artists, albums and podcasts by typing in queries, as before. But the page is also now personalized, showing your own “Top Genres” beneath the search bar – like R&B, Rock, Hip-Hop, Kids & Family – or whatever else you listen to. This is helpful because users’ tastes can change over time, or they may share their individual Spotify account with others (instead of opting for a Family plan), which can garble their recommendations.

The “Browse” section has moved to this Search page in the redesign, and points to things like top charts, Spotify’s programmed playlists, your own personalized playlists, plus music by mood, genre, activity and more.

The Radio section got an overhaul, too.

With the update, you can search for a favorite artist or song, then immediately start listing to one of the brand-new Artist Radio playlists. These are personalized, endless streams based on your own tastes – and they’re updated regularly to stay fresh, Spotify notes.

This latter feature appears to address a recent challenge from Pandora, which tapped into its Music Genome to create dozens of personalized playlists for its users. Spotify, effectively, is turning its radio stations into personalized playlists now, too. Instead of asking users to thumbs up/down its selections, it will just create stations it knows you’ll like, based on the data it already has. These radio playlists also work offline, the company says.

The updated app for Premium users follows a redesign of the app for its free customers, announced back in April. That redesign made it easier for free users to access over a dozen playlists with songs on demand, which also included the option to skip tracks. It also reduced the number of tabs in the bottom navigation.

This week, the company also rolled out a new Android Wear application. Plus, the third-party manufacturer Mighty launched a new version of its Spotify player, which is basically an iPod Shuffle-like device that works with Spotify instead of Apple Music or iTunes.

The changes to the Spotify app comes at a time when the company is losing ground in North America to Apple. Pandora was just snatched up by Sirius XM for $3.5 billion, which could make for increased competition in the U.S., as well.

Spotify’s Premium Subscribers grew to 83 million in Q2 2018, and it has 180 million monthly actives, including free customers, which still puts it ahead of the competition, in terms of user base size.

Spotify says the redesign for Spotify Premium is rolling out to all Premium subscribers on iOS and Android globally starting today.

Spotify gains endless artist radio playlists, personalized search & streamlined navigation

Spotify has refreshed its mobile app to provide Premium subscribers with a more personal, intuitive experience based on streamlined navigation, personalized search and more.

Spotify unveiled two brand-new features for its Premium subscribers today: a better search and an overhauled radio capability with endless playlists from your favorite artists.... Read the rest of this post here


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Spotify takes a stake in DistroKid, will support cross-platform music uploads in Spotify for Artists

Spotify has taken a minority stake in music distribution service, DistroKid, a popular tool used by artists for uploading their music across platforms. The company didn’t confirm the size of its stake, only saying that it made a “passive minority investment.” As a result of the deal, Spotify will also upgrade its Spotify for Artists […]

Spotify has taken a minority stake in music distribution service, DistroKid, a popular tool used by artists for uploading their music across platforms. The company didn’t confirm the size of its stake, only saying that it made a “passive minority investment.” As a result of the deal, Spotify will also upgrade its Spotify for Artists service to include an integration with DistroKid that allows artists to simultaneously upload content to other platforms.

“For the past five years, DistroKid has served as a go-to service for hundreds of thousands independent artists, helping them deliver their tracks to digital music services around the world, and reaching fans however they choose to consume music,” the company announced in a blog post about the deal.

Spotify was already a partner with DistroKid ahead of this news. However, DistroKid’s service currently allows musicians an easy way to get their tunes to Spotify competitors, too, including Apple, Amazon, Google Play, TIDAL, iHeartRadio, YouTube, Pandora, Deezer, and over 150 other music streaming services and stores.

Given DistroKid’s formerly agnostic position in the industry, Spotify’s investment is likely to cause a stir. It’s unclear for now how Spotify rivals will react to the move.

Spotify declined to disclose any financial details, when asked by TechCrunch, but a spokesperson clarified that it did not acquire the company, does not have a board seat, and that DistroKid remains independent. It also said that it has no rights to see the data from other digital service providers and DistroKid will not share confidential information.

Asked if planned to take a cut of sales of DistroKid subscriptions, currently $19.99 per year, Spotify said it doesn’t have that information to offer at this time. “We’ll announce full details when we’re ready to open the integration to artists,” we were told.

It seems, then, that Spotify – for now, at least – largely wanted to solidify its relationship with DistroKid for the purposes of the work it has planned regarding the upcoming technical integrations, in addition to establishing an expanded business relationship in general.

Spotify says it will soon roll out a new tool that will allow musicians to upload to DistroKid through Spotify for Artists.

Launched out of beta last year, Spotify for Artists is the streaming service’s online dashboard that allows musicians and their management teams a way to easily update their profile information, track their streams, and gain insights about their fan bases. In September 2018, Spotify announced a major new feature for the service as well – music uploads. The company said that artists would be able to use a beta upload feature to send their tracks directly to Spotify, as well as edit the metadata around those files, and track the songs’ performance.

DistroKid’s integration will complement this new feature, by offering the ability to upload elsewhere, too.

Spotify did not say when it expects the integrations to go live, only that it would be in the “near future.”

 

Spotify takes a stake in DistroKid, will support cross-platform music uploads in Spotify for Artists

Spotify has taken a minority stake in music distribution service, DistroKid, a popular tool used by artists for uploading their music across platforms. The company didn’t confirm the size of its stake, only saying that it made a “passive minority investment.” As a result of the deal, Spotify will also upgrade its Spotify for Artists […]

Spotify has taken a minority stake in music distribution service, DistroKid, a popular tool used by artists for uploading their music across platforms. The company didn’t confirm the size of its stake, only saying that it made a “passive minority investment.” As a result of the deal, Spotify will also upgrade its Spotify for Artists service to include an integration with DistroKid that allows artists to simultaneously upload content to other platforms.

“For the past five years, DistroKid has served as a go-to service for hundreds of thousands independent artists, helping them deliver their tracks to digital music services around the world, and reaching fans however they choose to consume music,” the company announced in a blog post about the deal.

Spotify was already a partner with DistroKid ahead of this news. However, DistroKid’s service currently allows musicians an easy way to get their tunes to Spotify competitors, too, including Apple, Amazon, Google Play, TIDAL, iHeartRadio, YouTube, Pandora, Deezer, and over 150 other music streaming services and stores.

Given DistroKid’s formerly agnostic position in the industry, Spotify’s investment is likely to cause a stir. It’s unclear for now how Spotify rivals will react to the move.

Spotify declined to disclose any financial details, when asked by TechCrunch, but a spokesperson clarified that it did not acquire the company, does not have a board seat, and that DistroKid remains independent. It also said that it has no rights to see the data from other digital service providers and DistroKid will not share confidential information.

Asked if planned to take a cut of sales of DistroKid subscriptions, currently $19.99 per year, Spotify said it doesn’t have that information to offer at this time. “We’ll announce full details when we’re ready to open the integration to artists,” we were told.

It seems, then, that Spotify – for now, at least – largely wanted to solidify its relationship with DistroKid for the purposes of the work it has planned regarding the upcoming technical integrations, in addition to establishing an expanded business relationship in general.

Spotify says it will soon roll out a new tool that will allow musicians to upload to DistroKid through Spotify for Artists.

Launched out of beta last year, Spotify for Artists is the streaming service’s online dashboard that allows musicians and their management teams a way to easily update their profile information, track their streams, and gain insights about their fan bases. In September 2018, Spotify announced a major new feature for the service as well – music uploads. The company said that artists would be able to use a beta upload feature to send their tracks directly to Spotify, as well as edit the metadata around those files, and track the songs’ performance.

DistroKid’s integration will complement this new feature, by offering the ability to upload elsewhere, too.

Spotify did not say when it expects the integrations to go live, only that it would be in the “near future.”

 

Winamp returns in 2019 to whip the llama’s ass harder than ever

The charmingly outdated media player Winamp is being reinvented as a platform-agnostic audio mobile app that brings together all your music, podcasts, and streaming services to a single location. It’s an ambitious relaunch, but the company behind it says it’s still all about the millions-strong global Winamp community — and as proof, the original desktop app is getting an official update as well.

The charmingly outdated media player Winamp is being reinvented as a platform-agnostic audio mobile app that brings together all your music, podcasts, and streaming services to a single location. It’s an ambitious relaunch, but the company behind it says it’s still all about the millions-strong global Winamp community — and as proof, the original desktop app is getting an official update as well.

For those who don’t remember: Winamp was the MP3 player of choice around the turn of the century, but went through a rocky period during Aol ownership (our former parent company) and failed to counter the likes of iTunes and the onslaught of streaming services, and more or less crumbled over the years. The original app, last updated in 2013, still works, but to say it’s long in the tooth would be something of an understatement (the community has worked hard to keep it updated, however). So it’s with pleasure that I can confirm rumors that substantial updates are on the way.

“There will be a completely new version next year, with the legacy of Winamp but a more complete listening experience,” said Alexandre Saboundjan, CEO of Radionomy, the company that bought Winamp (or what remained of it) in 2014. “You can listen to the MP3s you may have at home, but also to the cloud, to podcasts, to streaming radio stations, to a playlist you perhaps have built.”

“People want one single experience,” he concluded. “I think Winamp is the perfect player to bring that to everybody. And we want people to have it on every device.”

Laugh if you want but I laugh back

Now, I’m a Winamp user myself. And while I’ve been saddened by the drama through which the iconic MP3 player and the team that created it have gone (at the hands of TechCrunch’s former parent company, Aol), I can’t say I’ve been affected by it in any real way. Winamp 2 and 5 have taken me all the way from Windows 98 SE to 10 with nary a hiccup, and the player is docked just to the right of this browser window as I type this. (I use the nucleo_nlog skin.)

And although I bear the burden of my colleagues’ derisive comments for my choice of player, I’m far from alone. Winamp has as many as a hundred million monthly users, most of whom are outside the US. This real, engaged user base could be a powerful foot in the door for a new platform — mobile-first, but with plenty of love for the desktop too.

“Winamp users really are everywhere. It’s a huge number,” said Saboundjan. “We have a really strong and important community. But everybody ‘knows’ that Winamp is dead, that we don’t work on it any more. This is not the case.”

This may not come as a shock Winamp users still plugged into the scene: following years of rumors, an update to the desktop player leaked last month, bringing it from version 5.666 to 5.8. It was a pleasant surprise to users who had encountered compatibility problems with Windows 10 but had taken the “more coming soon” notice on the website with a massive grain of salt.

This kind of thing happens a lot, after all: an old property or app gets bought, promises are made, and after a few years it just sort of fades away. So a free update — in fact, 5.8 eliminates all paid options originally offered in the Pro version — bringing a bucketful of fixes is like Christmas coming early. Or late. At any rate it’s appreciated.

The official non-leaked 5.8 release should come out this week (the 18th, to be precise), and won’t be substantially different from the one we’ve been using for years or the one that leaked. Just bug and compatibility fixes that should keep this relic trucking along for a few years longer.

The update to the desktop app is basically a good faith advance payment to the community: Radionomy showing they aren’t just running away with the property and slapping the brand on some random venture. But the real news is Winamp 6, which Saboundjan says should come out in 2019.

“What I see today is you have to jump from one player to another player or aggregator if you want to listen to a radio station, to a podcast player if you want to listen to a podcast — this, to me, is not the final experience,” he explained. It’s all audio, and it’s all searchable in one fashion or another. So why isn’t it all in one place?

The planned version of Winamp for iOS and Android will be that place, Saboundjan claims. On desktop, “the war is over,” he said, and between the likes of iTunes and web apps, there’s not much room to squeeze in. But mobile audio is fractured and inconvenient.

While Saboundjan declined to get into the specifics of which services would be part of the new Winamp or how the app would plug into, say, your Spotify playlists, your Google Music library, your Podcasts app, Audible, and so on, he seemed confident that it would meet the needs he outlined. There are many conversations underway, he said, but licensing and agreements aren’t the main difficulty, and of course release is still quite a ways out. The team has focused on creating a consistent app across every platform you might want encounter mobile audio. A highly improved search will also play a role — as it ought to, when your media is all lumped into one place.

No word on whether it will retain its trademark intro upon installation — “WINAMP. It really whips the llama’s ass.” I certainly hope so.

This lack of specifics is a bit frustrating, of course, but I’m not worried about vaporware. I’m worried that other services will insist on the fragmented experience they’ve created that serves their interests better than ours. But if Radionomy can navigate these tricky waters and deliver a product even a little like what they’ve described, I’ll be thrilled (and my guess is tens of millions more will be as well). And if not, well, we’ll always have the original.

No, Apple didn’t acquire music analytics startup Asaii, it hired the founders to work on Apple Music

On the heels of news of not one but two acquisitions from Apple last week, a report surfaced yesterday that Apple had picked up yet another company, the music analytics startup Asaii, for under $100 million; the report led to a “confirmation” from a shareholder in a separate report. But as it turns out, neither […]

On the heels of news of not one but two acquisitions from Apple last week, a report surfaced yesterday that Apple had picked up yet another company, the music analytics startup Asaii, for under $100 million; the report led to a “confirmation” from a shareholder in a separate report. But as it turns out, neither appear to be correct.

But we asked and Apple has declined to confirm the deal, and it gave no green light to use its usual statement — the one it often issues when smaller startups are acquired. (You can see a sample of it in this story about Apple buying computer vision startup Spektral last week, which we did get Apple to confirm.) That is, the company has not acquired the assets of the startup.

What it has done is hire a few employees of the company — specifically the three founders, Sony TheakanathAustin Chen and Chris Zhang — who are all now working at Apple at Apple Music. (Apple has done this before: for example, it hired a team from the mapping app PinDrop in the UK; at the time it was also misreported as an acquisition.)

It’s not clear if the three will be working on similar technology, or other kinds of tools to affect how music is discovered on Apple Music. Apple has already launched a beta of its own analytics service called Apple Music for Artists.

Asaii announced in September that it would shut down its service October 14 (yesterday). It also provided music analytics, but it focused on a wider picture across multiple platforms (not just a single silo like Apple Music or Spotify).

Spotify — the music streaming business that is currently Apple’s biggest rival — has added a number of features over the years (some built in-house, some by way of acquisition) to improve the services that it offers to artists to have more transparency on how well their music, and their “brands,” are performing on Spotify. For Spotify, it’s part of a suite of services to help them leverage Spotify as a distribution platform to improve their overall business as artists.

Some believe that Spotify will continue to ramp up these services over time to take on more of the functions of a traditional label in a bid to improve its margins, and also provide more utility to artists. It’s making those moves at a time when many musicians and songwriters have grown disillusioned with the music industry and how they can (or can’t, as the case may be) make money in it.

So it stands to reason that Apple, too, might be considering how it can build similar features into Apple Music — although the company has not confirmed that it will, nor will it be using Asaii’s existing tools to do so.

To be clear, Apple already has some features in place to help promote and understand how music performs on its platform. The beta of Apple Music for Artists, which launched in June of this year, currently provides details on plays, radio spins, song purchases and album purchases.

It also lets you look into trends around your music, control how your artist profile looks, and get insights into how and where your music gets discovered. Separately, it also provides various widgets you can use to promote your Apple Music tracks elsewhere, as well a guidelines on best practices.

But there is still a lot of ground to cover for Apple when it comes to music, both in terms of what it can provide artists as tools to improve their experience on there; and also in terms of how consumers discover and use music on the service. Both of these are potential areas that you might see getting developed over time.

Theakanath and Chen had both worked at Apple previously. PitchBook lists SkyDeck, an accelerator based at UC Berkeley, as its only investor. Meanwhile, Crunchbase lists The House Fund as its only investor, with no details on the amount raised.

Apple has acquired music analytics startup Asaii to bolster content recommendations

Apple has acquired San Francisco-based music analytics startup Asaii which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to help clients like record labels find the next Justin Bieber. Apple will reportedly use their technology to bolster Apple Music recommendations to users and better compete with Spotify’s efforts to work directly with smaller artist.

Apple acquisitions - Asaii dashboard

Apple is acquiring San Francisco-based Asaii, an automated analytics and artists and repertoire (A&R) platform for the music industry powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence. The transaction is valued at less than $100 million, Axios reported this morning.... Read the rest of this post here


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SoundCloud finally lets more musicians monetize four years later

SoundCloud moves painfully slow for a tech company, and no one feels that pain more than musicians who are popular on the site but don’t get paid. 10 years since SoundCloud first launched, and four years since it opened an invite-only program allowing just the very biggest artists to earn a cut of the ad […]

SoundCloud moves painfully slow for a tech company, and no one feels that pain more than musicians who are popular on the site but don’t get paid. 10 years since SoundCloud first launched, and four years since it opened an invite-only program allowing just the very biggest artists to earn a cut of the ad and premium subscription revenue generated by their listeners, SoundCloud is rolling out monetization.

Now, musicians 18 and up who pay SoundCloud $8 to $16 per month for hosting, get over 5000 streams per month, and only publish original music with no copyright strikes against them can join the SoundCloud Premier program. They’ll get paid a revenue share directly each month that SoundCloud claims “meets or beats any other streaming service”. However, the company failed to respond to TechCrunch’s inquiries about how much artists would earn per 1000 ad-supported or premium subscription listener streams, or how many streams would earn them a dollar.

Beyond payouts, Premier members can post new tracks instantly without having to wait to be discoverable or monetizable, they’ll get real-time feedback from fans, and extra discovery opportunities from SoundCloud. The company hopes monetization will lure more creators to join the 20 million on the platform, get them to promote their presence to drive listens, and imbue the site with exclusive artist-uploaded content that attracts listeners.

It’s been a year since SoundCloud raised an $170 million emergency funding round to save itself from going under after it was forced to lay off 40 percent of its staff. That deal arranged by Kerry Trainor saw him become CEO and the previous co-founder and CEO Alex Ljung step aside. With underground rap that had percolated on SoundCloud for years suddenly reaching the mainstream, the startup seemed to have momentum.

The problem is the slow speed of progress at SoundCloud has allowed competitors with monetization baked in to catch up to its formerly unique offering. YouTube Music’s launch in June 2018 combined premium major label catalogues with user uploaded tracks in a cohesive streaming service. And last month, Spotify began allowing indie artists to upload their music directly to the platform. Meanwhile, licensing distribution services like Dubset are making it legal for big streaming apps to host remixes and DJ sets. Together, these make more of the rarities, live versions, and hour-long club gigs that used to only be on SoundCloud available elsewhere.

The delays seem in part related to the fact that SoundCloud wants to be Spotify as well as SoundCloud. It’s refused to back down from its late entry into the premium streaming market with its $9.99 per month SoundCloud Go+ subscription. As I previously recommended, “to fix SoundCloud, it must become the anti-Spotify” by ruthlessly focusing on its differentiated offering in artist-uploaded music. Instead, another year has passed with only a light revamping of SoundCloud’s homescreen and some more personalized playlists to show for it.

SoundCloud proudly announced it had reached $100 million in revenue in 2017, and exceeded its financial and user growth targets. But filings reveal it lost over $90 million in 2016 and it was previously projected to not become profitable until 2020. That begs the question of whether SoundCloud will have to raise again, or might once again open itself to acquisitions. With Apple, Google, Amazon, and Spotify all in fierce competition for the future of streaming, any of them might be willing to pay up for music that fans can’t easily find elsewhere.

Google Maps brings new commute features with live traffic and transit information, more

People in North America spend a full day per month commuting, prompting Google to bring some new commute features to the Maps app like live traffic/transit info.

Monday, Google announced a slew of new commute features for its mobile Maps app.... Read the rest of this post here


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