Music Streaming War Heats Up As Google Music Launches Ad-Supported Free-Tier

Read original story on: AdWeek

Merely one day after the music industry was consumed by the brilliant co-promotional spectacle orchestrated by Taylor Swift and Apple Music, Google hijacked the headlines with a surprising launch of a free, ad-supported tier of its $9.99 per month Google Play Music streaming service. Less like Spotify and closer to Pandora, this new free tier will not allow users unfettered access to specific songs on demand, but rather offers curated playlists and algorithm-based radio channels.

Obviously, when it comes to competing for ad dollars, Google has one great advantage over its competitors—the vast amount of user data. Both Pandora and Spotify have worked to add better targeting options, but they pale in comparison to Google’s trove of data from search and email unified under a login account. Back in early 2012, Google specifically modified its privacy policy to allow for user data to be shared across the various products and services it provides. If Google can deliver a highly customizable ad unit that leverage the data it harnessed into targeting tools, which they probably will, this free version of Google Play Music just might grow into the next great ad platform for brands and advertisers alike.

What Starbucks Is Teaming Up With Spotify For

Read original story on: Wired

Starbucks and Spotify announced a new partnership to bring the music streaming service to all of the coffee chain’s U.S. retail locations this fall, the two companies announced earlier this week. As a result, every Starbucks U.S. retail employee will receive a Spotify Premium account for free, which will be used to curate music playlists in stores. Moreover, Starbucks customers who have signed up for its rewards program will be able to influence in-store music programming, and they can also earn Starbucks rewards points by paying for Spotify.

Without a doubt, this partnership will help promote Spotify’s premium service in Starbucks stores across the States. Starbucks has long been a major force in the music business, selling millions of exclusive albums in their stores. In addition, the Seattle-based company has a long-standing partnership with Apple to promote iTunes store and app download. Now with Apple readying its own Beats-based streaming service for launch, it’ll be interesting to see how this partnership will impact the music industry.


Why Instagram Launched Its First Official Content Vertical

Read original story on: The Verge

Taking a page out of Snapchat’s playbook, Instagram just made its first step to transition from a photo-sharing social media to a media content platform with the launch of its first-ever official content vertical @music. The account will update six times per week, sharing photos, lyrics, and videos to showcase some of the up-and-coming and popular artists to Instagram’s over 300,000 users. As of now, the account has already gained over 46,600 followers. We expect similar vertical content channels to appear if this experiment turns out successful.

Streaming Music Gets More Personal With Ads

Read original story on: AdWeek and AdAge

Music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify are enhancing the way that they target ads by getting more intimate with listeners. Spotify announced that it will allow brands to target specific consumers through custom playlists based on user activity and preferences. Ideally, the streaming company will be able to infer the context in which people are listening to playlists to deliver the perfect ad. Similarly, Pandora is moving closer toward programmatic advertising by allowing brands to target users based on more specific demographics like the users’ declared age, gender, and location, showcasing the wealth of targeted data they can provide brands.

Apple’s Music App Is Getting “Spotified”

Read original story on: 9to5Mac

Earlier this week, Apple released the first developer beta of iOS 8.4, giving the world a first look at its long-rumored redesign of the Music app. And with its all-new interfaces and improving queuing features, the new music app may easily remind users of the Spotify app.

With the announcement of Apple’s streaming music service expected at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference starting June 8th, the revamped music app also puts Apple’s current music streaming service iTunes Radio front and center, with other design factors that heavily hint at further integrations of streaming functionality.

Apple Watch May Help Make Playlists Based On Your Pulse

Read original story on: PSFK

Apple Watch comes with a lot of sensors to measure your biometric data such as heartbeat rates, movements, or calorie burns, primarily for health and fitness purposes. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be used outside the healthcare domain.

HeartbeatsMUSIC came up with an app concept for Beats Music that leverages the pulse-detecting function on Apple Watch into contextual music discovery. The app could capture the changes in a user’s pulse and activates the mic embedded in the Apple Watch in order to identify the songs, before automatically organizing them into different playlists based on both heartbeat rates and the music beats. If ever made a reality, this could inspire more interesting new use cases of biometric sensors on smartwatches.


Why Jay-Z’s Tidal Might Just Work

Tidal, a new premium streaming service helmed by Jay-Z, arrived yesterday with a star-studded press conference in Manhattan. Jay-Z, who brought the Scandinavian lossless streaming service for a reported $56 million, firmly believes in Tidal’s power to disrupt the music industry, but the initial reaction so far has been largely skeptical, if not downright hostile.  Yet Tidal may still stand a chance.

First and foremost, Tidal has gained the support of musicians and music creators alike by putting the artists’ benefits before record labels. Jay-Z used his industry clout to get a long list of A-list stars—the one percent of music industry—to get on board. Those big-name performers form the core branding, and the celebrity aura they bring to the service will draw music fans to it.

Furthermore, the streaming model has made it almost frictionless to switch between services. Since these music creators control the content, should they choose to play hardball, they could easily pull a “Taylor Swift” and yank their catalogue off free-to-use streaming service like Spotify, pushing fans who has grown used to streaming music to pay up when there’s no more free options available.

Last but not least, there have been precedents for a price-sensitive market suddenly disrupted by masterfully marketed premium products. A recent example is how Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine successfully convinced millions of consumers that their basic white iPod earbuds weren’t good enough. Like Beats, Tidal might just find a way to make high-fidelity audio cool and upsell music streaming subscriptions.


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Here’s How Apple Is Planning To Compete Against Spotify

Read original story on: 9to5Mac

Apple acquired streaming services Beats Music back in May 2014, and now we are finally getting some updates on its fate. Reports suggest that Apple is planning to launch a redesigned Beats Music later this year that will be deeply integrated into iOS, iTunes, and the Apple TV.

To compete with existing services like Spotify or Rdio, Apple is reportedly looking to set the monthly subscription fee at just $7.99. Would the Cupertino company be able to upend the OTT music market with system integration and competitive pricing? Stay tuned to find out.

The Long-Waited YouTube Music Key Is Here

Read original story on: The Verge 

YouTube has reportedly struck a deal with rights agency Merlin, gaining music licenses from the thousands of independent record labels. Coming just two weeks after CEO Susan Wojcicki publicly confirmed that a subscription-based, ad-free music service was on the way, this new development definitely sets the stage for its presumably imminent launch. Whether the big mainstream record label would be on board remains to be seen, but given YouTube’s long-time partnership with Vevo, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Update: YouTube has just officially unveiled a subscription-based music service. Named YouTube Music Key, an ad-free music and music videos starting at $7.99 a month. It also comes with access to all the music in Google Play.

On Trend: Music Streaming Growing Strong Despite Swift Boycott

One of the biggest stories in media this week has been Taylor Swift abruptly removing all her back catalogue from Spotify, sparking debate on the monetization strategy and shifting audience behavior of today’s music industry. Some artists have voiced their support for Swift’s decision and criticized the unfair compensation granted by streaming services.

Although Swift’s current popularity may let her defy media consumption trends, the move from ownership to subscribed access seems all but inevitable, as Spotify royalties have reportedly overtaken iTunes earnings by 13% in Europe.

Impressive as that sounds, Spotify still got beaten by Pandora in App Annie’s new Music App Index report released today, which ranked the latter as No. 1 among music apps for most downloads and monthly revenue with a reported $100 million in mobile ad revenue for the recent quarter.

Both services, however, might need to watch out for SoundCloud, an up-and-coming challenger who just signed a licensing deal with Warner Music Group. In an effort to alleviate the tension between musicians and digital music services, the deal mandates that Warner artists will get paid when all versions of their music, including the D.J. remixes and fanmade mash-ups, are played on SoundCloud.

All in all, one could say that music streaming services are taking the “breakup” with Taylor Swift pretty well.