Spotify have clearly noticed that Jay Z’s Tidal is coming after it, and have decided to shake things up a bit. Of course, Tidal hasn’t exactly set the world alight (yet), but shows signs of what it can do when it streamed Beyonce and Nicki Minaj’s ‘Flawless’ video, sending social media into a mild hysteria.
With that, Spotify have announced that they’re expanding into video and original content themselves, going beyond simply streaming albums. With a number of artists showing allegiance to Jay Z, Spotify need to think of other ways of turning a profit.
Now, Spotify will support videos and offer news as well as other non-music content, with chief exec Daniel Ek keeping an eye on everyone’s mobile phone use: ”There is an incredible opportunity to soundtrack your entire day and your entire life in all of its complexity,” said Ek at some conference or other.
Ek says that Spotify have buddied up with a load of media companies, including some big US networks, the BBC, Vice and, most interestingly, the comedy network Adult Swim. They’ll be providing podcasts and other productions from their media pals, and they’re going to be providing their own material as well.
It seems to be working for Netflix, so why not Spotify?
If you’re one of those appalling people who likes to go for runs, then you’ll be interested in Spotify’s new function that will detect motion through your smartphone and select music based on the pace you’re running. Is there any music that is 23 bpm?
“We think that music is moving beyond just linear, one-way playback,” said Spotify’s chief product officer, Gustav Soderstrom. ”We’re going to take this approach to many more parts of your life very soon.” We assume they’re doing to do something relating to your activities in the bedroom, which matches the rhythm of your love-making. Do they make music that’s 7 bpm?
Along with an increased social element, this gives Spotify the opportunity to make more money from advertising and the like. Earlier this week, Spotify announced that they were teaming up with Starbucks, which will give staff the chance to choose tracks you hear at the coffee chain’s outlets.
So, for now, it is Spotify versus Tidal. All eyes on Apple’s updated streaming service, which should be coming soon.
Now, over 1,000 homes per day are getting rid of their TVs and not paying for their licence fee by watching shows on catch-up or on other subscription services. According to figures, over half a million households said that they no longer have television sets.
With people increasingly picking up tablets and other devices, that number is only likely to increase, with people opting out of paying for the licence fee by watching shows on catch-up. Obviously, the BBC would like to see all this locked-down, while others would like to see the BBC moving away from a compulsory licence, to a more modern voluntary subscription package.
A BBC spokesman said: “We’ve repeatedly said that the licence fee should be modernised to include people watching catch-up TV and we’ll discuss the best way of doing this as we approach the renewal of our charter.”
If you watch things on iPlayer, all you get is a very polite: ‘Don’t forget, to watch TV online as it’s being broadcast, you still need to be covered by a TV Licence.’
There’s a feeling among many that, if the BBC thinks it is good enough, then it will be confident that it could survive with a similar subscription package to Sky or Netflix.
Channel 5’s former chief executive David Elstein reckons: “More and more people are going to twig that if they dispose of their fixed television and watch on a phone, tablet or laptop, the BBC will no longer chase them [for the licence fee]. That 1,000 a day will turn into 2,000 a day. Why would you pay £145.50 a year if you don’t have to?”
If you’ve bought a film in a physical format lately, you may have got an Ultraviolet code with it. If you don’t know what that is, it basically allows users to watch your movie on any device away from your DVD/Blu Ray player.
Ultraviolet – which is owned by Sony, Universal, Paramount, Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox – has been a handy for some, and performance-wise, a disappointment to others.
It has been profitable for some, with people selling their Ultraviolet codes on eBay. One user who has been doing this has been accused of copyright infringement. Whenever they bought a new film, they’d flog their unused code and people would buy them for around $6.
The studios aren’t happy, unsurprisingly.
Here’s what the eBay user said: “I picked up “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” on Blu-ray this morning. It came with a digital download code good for a free Ultraviolet copy of the movie. As Ultraviolet is worthless to me, I listed the code on eBay. Within a few hours of the listing going up, eBay took it down for copyright infringement. They warned me not to list it again, or my account would be suspended.”
“I called their customer service number to explain that the listing was taken down in error, and the helpful lady on the phone was much more concerned with the fact that there was no birth date attached to an 11-year-old eBay account. Once we got that taken care of (she literally refused to help me until I tied my birthday to my account), she basically just kept reading and rereading the email to me over and over again.”
“Now, let’s forget the fact that I’ve sold Ultraviolet codes on eBay before. Let’s also forget the fact that, right this very second, there are a boat-load (metaphorically, not literally – that would be weird) of Ultraviolet code auctions live. How, exactly, are they able to claim Ultraviolet codes as copyright infringement? It’s a product. It’s barely different from me selling a physical copy of the Blu-ray that I don’t want, or the third disc in the set which is a DVD copy I’ll never use. And why are they enforcing this imaginary policy selectively?”
“Is this an awful lot of trouble to go through just to make, at most, $5? Yes, it is. However, I’m self employed, and today is a slow day.”
Officially speaking, it seems that you would have to sell the physical copy alongside the UV code, if you want to stay out of trouble with the movie studios.
There’s also a chance that those buying the codes could be chased for copyright infringement too. While this might seem like a remarkable waste of everyone’s time and a bit daft, let us not forget who we are dealing with here – movie studios, who are almost entirely made up of daft people with remarkable amounts of time to waste.
If you’re selling yours, watch your back.
According to The Verge, they’ve heard all manner of things from sources, and it is being suggested that Apple wants to throw around their power and influence to put an end to free streaming. ”All the way up to [Apple CEO] Tim Cook, these guys are cutthroat,” said one music industry mole.
If Apple get their way, Spotify will lose a huge chunk of their customers – 15 million currently pay for the service, of their 60 million customer base. Playing hardball, Apple will reportedly be offering their service for $7.99 per month, which is less than Spotify’s $9.99 fee.
But will the swathes of people who don’t own any Apple products – and indeed, those who object to the company as a whole on some principal (be it tribal or other) – want to sign up with them? It would be a risky move for the record companies, but then, they’ll go wherever the money is.
The sources said that Apple are also going after Google, saying that the iSalesmen offered to pay YouTube’s music licensing fee to Universal Music Group if they stopped allowing their songs on the video platform.
One hurdle is that the US Department of Justice have apparently already started interviews with music industry executives regarding Apple’s business practices. If the sources are right, the whole thing is a bit suspect, eh?
We’re sure to find out more when Apple launch Beats Music, which is widely thought to be on 8th June.
Remember when everyone was telling you that 3D TV was the future and that, soon enough, we’d all be watching television with our goggles on, with weather reports leaping from our screens and Peter Simon having a nervous breakdown on BidUp TV like he was sat in our living rooms, crying all over the carpet?
Well, no-one really bought into it all, for a variety of reasons. Mainly because the whole thing was prohibitively expensive and, of course, nobody really wants to sit at home with 3D glasses on all night.
And now, Sky has acknowledged that there’s very little appetite for 3D television and is semi-retiring it.
They’ll be pulling the plug on their dedicated 3D channel this June. Don’t worry if you can’t live without your three-dimensional idiot lantern – they’re moving all their 3D content to their On Demand library section. Basically, a holding pen for nerds.
It goes without saying that Sky will be courting 4K ultra tellies and aiming their arsenal at people who are foaming at the mouth about all that.
Remember the launch of Tidal, where Jay Z said that him and his pals were making history, by offering a slightly expensive music streaming service? Those were the days eh? Our generation’s very own moon-landing moment.
Well, some of you cynics looked at the whole thing and wondered why on Earth you were supposed to feel sorry for a bunch of multimillionaires. The jaded were all ‘what? Shut up, superstars! Stick to making records, alright?’
Initially, Tidal burst into the American iPhone top 20 download chart, which was expected. However, in the fortnight since then, it has dropped out of the top 700. To make matters worse, all this talk has seen an upswing for Tidal’s rivals. Pandora and Spotify have seen a surge in customers.
In fact, since Tidal started tutting at Spotify, it reappeared in the iPad top 40 download chart for the first time in months. By attacking its rivals, Tidal has managed to give Spotify and Pandora a shot in the arm, increasing the public’s awareness of the products. They weren’t the only people profiting from all this - Beats Music has even seen an increase of people downloading their app.
Sadly for Tidal, they’ve shot their mouths off and made their competition even stronger, who have all ridden Tidal’s momentum and are now looking stronger than they were last year.
So well done to all concerned at Tidal.
Are you a Virgin Media customer who has Sky’s sports package? Well, your world is about to be turned upside down as you’re being slapped senseless with a £2 a month increase. In irritating news, that’s double the £1 Sky’s own customers are looking at.
The price increase will come into play in June.
Sky said, back in March, that the price of a sports package would go up by a quid a month, while the cost of their family bundle will rise by £3 a month. Sky, clearly, need to find a way of getting some of the money back that they spent on Premier League matches. They coughed-up £4.2bn for those.
Virgin Media, likewise, have to stick their prices up, with the sports fans paying the extra couple of quid and those who have Sky Movies will pay 50p a month more, on top of that.
Virgin said: “Sky is spreading the cost across its other TV packages, so their customers who don’t take Sports or Movies will also see the cost of their packages go up. Our rises are simpler and only mean that customers who take the content pay the increased price for that content. We don’t want to make our non-Sky Sports/Movies watching customers subsidise costs for those that do.”
Throwing a bit of shade at Sky there, eh?
Virgin Media has form in this, and has been complaining about people paying too much for football on TV in the UK. Virgin seethed that, when Sky announced their price hikes, everyone knows that Sky’s non-sport watching customers were subsidising sports rights.
Brigitte Trafford, Virgin Media’s chief corporate affairs officer, said: “This price rise is entirely due to the increase in charges we have to pay Sky. As we have made clear to Ofcom, any increase in the value of the Premier League’s live TV rights eventually ends up hitting the pockets of fans.”
The latest release of Google Chrome – version 42 – has blacked out the services thanks to the removal of support for NPAPI plugins, including Microsoft’s Silverlight, which many on-demand services use to power things.
On Now TV’s support forum, they said: “Google Chrome version 42 has now been released, and Chrome no longer supports Microsoft Silverlight. From this point, you’ll need to use Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox to watch Now TV on your PC.”
Meanwhile, at the @BTCare Twitter account, they said: “If you use Chrome to watch BT Sport you may get a Silverlight error. Silverlight is no longer supported in Chrome, pls use another browser.”
Blinkbox added: “Because our HTML5 player is newer than the Silverlight player we use in other browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox on PCs and Safari on Mac, you might need a faster broadband connection than usual to have the same experience that you’re used to, whilst we work to further optimise streaming using HTML5. Because of this, for the best experience, we recommend that you use a different browser right now, particularly if your internet speed is close to our recommended minimum speed or you’ve got an older computer.”
Eventually, all video-on-demand services will have to move away from Silverlight as it is being discontinued by Microsoft.
Now a new Star Wars trailer has landed online, everyone of a certain age has been reduced to a dribbling, nostalgic wreck. As Star Wars is such a huge deal, the hype surrounding it and marketing opportunities are not like any other franchise.
Not many films can get an airline so excited that they paint one of their planes like R2D2. That’s exactly the craic with Japanese airline All Nippon Airways who unveiled plans to dress their plane in a way that will see everyone making puns on ‘may the air force be with you’.
In a couple of months, there’s going to be a Boeing 787 flying around the sky looking like Artoo.
This design is part of the airline’s five-year “Star Wars Project”, which means more Star Wars themed aircraft. We’re hoping for a Jabba The Hut one, as that’d look disgusting.
And while we’re here, we might as well watch the second trailer of Star Wars Episode VII and dribble all over ourselves with excitement. Yes. We know it’s a children’s film.
Thanks to original series like Orange Is The New Black, House of Cards and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, they’ve been winning over lovers of the idiot lantern and reached 62.3 million subscribers, which is up from last quarter’s 57.4 million.
Of those millions, around 4om are in America, which means Netflix wants to get serious with other territories. They want a much bigger presence in Europe to “take advantage of the substantial available growth opportunities”. They’re also making eyes at new markets in Australia and Japan.
Netflix also has a freemium ad-supported service in China, and they’re looking at pursuing the trad. subscription product over there. However, they need permission from the powers that be to operate in the most populated country in the world.
Netflix wants to operate in 200 countries by the end of 2016 – they currently serve 50.
Another thing they’ll be doing is encrypting their service, which they hope will please people who have concerns about their privacy and security. However, they could incur the wrath of users as they clamp down on proxy servers, which means people can’t get access to the American version of the service, which has a much larger library.
Sky have gone and expanded their Buy & Keep service, offering it the download/delivery service to non-Sky subscribers. Last year, Sky’s TV subscribers got the service which lets you download a digital copy of a film while you wait for the physical DVD to be delivered, but now, anyone can do it.
If you think this sounds better than just downloading stuff or going down the shops, then from today, you can go to the Sky Store website and sort yourself out.
Seeing as they’re opening it up to everyone, the service is going to be available on a load of different mobile platforms and internet-connected set-top boxes. If this sort of thing fills you with dread, do remember, you can just watch Freeview and tut about stuff.
Nicola Bamford, Director of the Sky Store says: “People want the simplest and most convenient way to buy and watch the movies they love, which is why it’s great news that from today Buy & Keep will be available to everyone and across multiple devices.”
Some bigger, newer films will cost you £13.99, while older flicks are going for £7.99 each. If you use torrents, try and keep your laughing down because you’re upsetting the consumers.
You’ll also be able to use the Follow Me function, which lets you pause a movie and resuming watching it on a different one.
This comeback has got some people so excited, that a special vinyl chart has been launched. Last year, vinyl sales hit a 20-year high in the UK, which is exciting enough. This new chart launches ahead of Record Store Day on Saturday.
Martin Talbot, the chief executive of the Official Charts Company, said: “With vinyl album sales up by almost 70% already this year,vinyl junkies could well have snapped up 2 million units by the end of this year – an extraordinary number, if you consider sales were one-tenth of that just six years ago.”
Gennaro Castaldo, from industry body The BPI, said: “With sales of vinyl albums at their highest level since the heady days of Britpop and growing, the introduction of an Official Vinyl Chart at this time makes perfect sense.”
“The chart will not only help us to better understand which artists and type of music are driving this resurgence, but will also help guide a new generation of younger, but emotionally-engaged, fans as they contemplate the vinyl delights that await them.”
However, what no-one is saying is that the comeback isn’t nearly as large as people are making out. Vinyl was virtually extinct at one point, which means sales don’t have to be that high to break record sales for two decades.
We’ll let this graph show you the truth of the matter.
As you can see, the late ’80s and early ’90s is when vinyl sales took a huge hit, thanks to the advent of CDs and cheap cassettes. While it is encouraging to see people buying vinyl again, sales are nowhere near the mid ’70s peak. You can add into this that no-one buys CDs or cassettes either, which means physical sales are in a sorry state indeed.
Still, seeing as record companies ripped everyone off for years, you could argue that this is all payback.
Remember us telling you about Netflix clamping down on people using proxy servers and VPNs?
Well, they’ve updated their terms and conditions and now they’re threatening to “terminate or restrict your use of our service, without compensation or notice” if you start doing things in a way they don’t like. As a result, there’s going to be a number of disgruntled customers who will ditch subscription services in favour of firing up a torrent.
If you want access to content that is (pointlessly) restricted to other territories, then you’re going to have to go through the back door.
The clauses in the T&Cs that are relevant to all this are:
Article 6C: “You may view a movie or TV show through the Netflix service primarily within the country in which you have established your account and only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such movie or TV show. The content that may be available to watch will vary by geographic location. Netflix will use technologies to verify your geographic location.”
“By way of background, what we do is nothing different than what traditional TV networks do to prevent, for example, someone from outside the US from watching the Olympics on NBC.com… we are working to become a global Internet TV network and, as part of that, will have more global rights to series, features, docs, comedy specials, etc., this should make this whole issue moot overtime.”
One of the main concerns is Apple’s forthcoming platform.
The commission want to establish whether or not premium platforms are working with labels in a way that hinders free services unfairly. According to reports, a bunch of streaming services and music labels have been questioned by EU regulators, and they want to know about their arrangements with Apple, Spotify and other services.
“There is concern in the industry that Apple, with its enormous market share and distribution power and what it can do in terms of pricing and promotion can have an unfair competitive advantage,” said one music bigwig.
That said, Apple still hasn’t announced their pricing structure, so if they have a freemium option, it would seem silly to try and build a case against them. And why labels would want Apple to own the streaming business is anyone’s guess. Should Apple not want a freemium model, then they won’t be alone, as we’ve seen with the Jay Z fronted Tidal.
Record labels are apparently going to be responding to the Competition Commission’s questionnaire within the next few weeks.