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Tim Westergren talks Sessions: ‘Artists need to recover their audience’

In the Covid-19-era music industry, the old income dichotomy of recorded music and live performances is not dead so much as it is becoming fleshed out.

A variety of different fan experiences, earning money for artists on different platforms, is emerging as a common approach. Livestreaming is at the heart of many of them.

It seems intuitive: if you can’t play live in the physical world, then play live online. With a glut of livestreaming and virtual ticketing startups springing up alongside established platforms like Twitch, YouTube and Facebook/Instagram, there’s also a sense that livestreaming has not yet taken its final form.

What does it look like, how does that differ for each artist, and how should they be making money from it? We’re still very much in an experimental stage for those and other questions.

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Pro artists are making $5k-$20k per livestream on Sessions

Sessions is the startup launched earlier this year by former Pandora boss Tim Westergren: a livestreaming platform for musicians to broadcast “with just a laptop and a microphone”. Now Westergren has been talking to Pollstar about how things are going.

“In the first 6-9 months when we were in beta, we recruited about 150 artists from around the world, and these were all amateurs, hobbyists, people with no fans. People at home playing music, big dreams but no presence. We put them on the service, gave them an audience and started letting them perform. And now, a significant percentage of them are making good money,” he said.

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AI-music startup Popgun evolves: ‘We’re gonna make hit pop songs…’

In June 2017, Music Ally interviewed Stephen Phillips of Australian startup Popgun about his company’s development of an artificial intelligence (AI) called ‘Alice’ that was capable of playing piano with humans.

Alice would ‘listen’ to the notes played by a human, then respond with what she thought might come next. Even at that early stage of the project’s development, it was impressive.

Nearly a year and a half on, Popgun is ready to show off how its technology has developed, and talk about what it might mean for the startup and its plans for commercial AI-music products.

The best place to start is this video, shared with Music Ally by Popgun, which shows the evolution of its technology from January 2017 to July 2018

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Report claims Pandora CEO preparing to step down

Pandora may soon be looking for a new CEO, if a report by tech site Recode is on the money.

It claims that current boss Tim Westergren “plans to step down as the streaming music company’s leader… Pandora hasn’t selected a replacement for Westergren, sources say; he will likely stay on at the company he founded 17 years ago until a new CEO is in place”.

Pandora has declined to comment, with the company’s public status meaning it would need to announce such a move as soon as it is official.

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Pandora CEO: ‘We intend to be profitable this year’

Fresh from launching its new Premium tier, Pandora chief executive Tim Westergren has made a bold prediction about its impact on the streaming service’s finances in 2017. “We intend to be profitable this year,” Westergren told CNBC yesterday.

Quite a claim, given that Pandora’s net losses increased from $169.7m in 2015 to $343m in 2016, although it’s always wise to remember that ‘net profitability’ is not the only profitability metric.

Westergren has gone a bit ‘Jimmy Iovine’ when it comes to criticising Pandora’s rivals in the on-demand streaming space, though. Just as Iovine stuck to his “utilities” insult in the face of plentiful evidence that Apple Music’s rivals had evolved beyond that, so Westergren has his firm media line.

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Pandora Premium tier to launch this week in the US

Pandora will begin sending out invitations to try its new $9.99-a-month Pandora Premium tier this Wednesday (15 March) in the US.

The news means Pandora will meet its target of launching its direct rival to Spotify, Apple Music and other on-demand music-streaming services by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

The invitations will offer a free trial of Pandora Premium, although the company says the length of that trial will vary for new users and people who listen to its free tier.

However, subscribers to its $4.99-a-month Pandora Plus tier will be offered six months of the Premium tier for no extra charge. Pandora ended 2016 with 4.4 million Plus subscribers.

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Pandora CEO: ‘We are on a path to do something big’ (#midem)

Recently-returned Pandora CEO Tim Westergren gave a keynote speech at the Midem conference today, outlining his plans for the company, and how it hopes to be working more closely with musicians in the months and years to come.

He was interviewed on-stage by Daniel Glass of Glassnote Entertainment, who asked him to talk about whether Pandora is for sale.

“We are on a path to do something big and something for the long-term. That’s why I got back in the saddle, so no plans for that,” he said.