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Streaming panel calls for more innovation from DSPs and labels

Are the big music streaming services too similar to one another? And if so, how can they break out of that box to innovate and differentiate themselves?

A panel at Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit Global online conference yesterday, had some ideas. Angel Gambino, partner at venture development firm Prehype and until recently chief commercial officer at Napster, set the ball rolling.

“One of the things that I’m struck by from a consumer standpoint is that there isn’t so much differentiation between the streaming services from an experiential standpoint,” she said.

“One of the things that needs to happen is looking at not just expanding into other genres of programming – i.e. podcasts – but what can the DSPs and the wider ecosystem of startups, of people who are working in music/tech on a daily basis, what can we do from a product and service and experiential standpoint to help take playlisting and discovery to the next stage?”

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Sandbox Issue 259: Six Months On, What Next?

Lead: The effect of COVID-19, six months on. This Sandbox issue hosts the launch of a new Music Ally monthly feature: our Global Experts Panel. We’ve assembled a panel of industry leaders from around the world, from many sectors of the music business, and each month we’ll put a single question to them on a pressing issue. […]

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NMPA hopeful of keeping songwriters’ top line rate increase

We reported yesterday on the ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on the appeal by Amazon, Google, Pandora and Spotify against new songwriter royalty rates set by the US Copyright Royalty Board. The decision was seen as backing the streaming services in ruling against the procedure used to set the new rates.

Now the ruling has been unsealed – you can read it here in full – and the National Music Publishers Association has been offering its opinion on why it’s not a clearcut victory for the DSPs.

In a statement, CEO David Israelite claimed that the ruling “supported the rate increase granted by the CRB to music publishers and songwriters, agreeing that writers have been underpaid and that the rate increase start date is January 1, 2018”.

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US appeals court knocks back CRB’s songwriter royalty rates

When Amazon, Google, Pandora and Spotify appealed against new, higher songwriter royalty rates set by the US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), it sparked fury in the publishing community. Get set for another outbreak: the US Court of Appeals in D.C. has reportedly knocked back the rates, backing the DSPs’ argument.

It’s not a ruling on the rates themselves, but rather on the procedure used to arrive at them, with the main bone of contention being the CRB’s method of taking parts from different experts’ models for how the rates should be set, which the DSPs argued had “incompatible structures, made different assumptions, and used entirely different data inputs”.

The appeals court’s ruling hasn’t yet been ‘unsealed’ (made public) but Billboard reported that it has backed the DSPs.

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Google launches tools for audio ads on Spotify and Pandora

Is there more money to be squeezed out of the ad-supported music market? Google hopes so. But for once, we’re not talking about YouTube in this context.

Google’s advertising business is also putting some more effort into ad-supported music, with the launch of some audio-focused tools in its Google Ad Manager service, and an audio section of its Display & Video 360 ad-buying platform.

“Advertisers can buy ads from Spotify, Pandora, AdsWizz, iHeartMedia, and Triton Digital, and Google plans to add brand lift, which tracks metrics like brand perception, awareness and purchase intent, for audio ads later this year, similar to what it does for YouTube campaigns,” reported Business Insider.

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Pandora kicks off a new series of concert livestreams

Streaming service Pandora is getting into the livestreaming game with a series of performances branded Pandora Live.

The first one takes place next week (28 July) with country star Kane Brown, with the promise of more “across country, Latin, R&B, pop, and rock” to follow this year.

Besides streaming performances live, Pandora said that there’ll be additional interactivity: “Select attendees will receive access to virtual meet and greets, Q&As with the artist, exclusive merchandise, live chat functionality, and more.”

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Court grants motion to dismiss Wixen / Pandora complaint

In June 2019, Wixen Music Publishing sued streaming service Pandora, alleging ‘unauthorized commercial exploitation’ of lyrics from songs in its catalogue. The case focused on Pandora’s feature showing lyrics from partners including LyricFind, which was mentioned in the lawsuit.

How’s the case going? Well, there’s been a development this week. The latest filing reveals that Pandora moved to dismiss the case in January, but before that could be ruled on, Pandora and Wixen entered settlement talks.

Now the court’s patience appears to have run out with those.

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Report: there were 400m music subscribers globally at end of Q1 2020

There were 341 million people using paid music subscriptions at the end of 2019, according to global music industry body the IFPI. Now we’ve got an update on that figure, albeit from a different source.

Consultancy firm Midia Research has published its music subscriber market share figures for Q1 2020, claiming that by the end of March there were 400 million music subscribers globally.

By Midia’s reckoning, that’s year-on-year growth of 30%, with 93 million net new music subscribers added since the end of March 2019. In his blog post, MD Mark Mulligan noted that this is an acceleration in growth, since the prior 12-month period had seen 77 million net new subs.

(Note: we’re nearly at the end of Q2 2020 now. If the rate of growth had continued – a big assumption, given the uncertainties around the Covid-19 pandemic – the global total should be past 420 million at the time of writing.)