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Last month, Spotify announced that as part of its coronavirus relief efforts it would soon add new fundraising features for artists on its platform. Today, the company is following through with the launch of “Artist Fundraising Pick,” a feature that allows artists to fundraise for themselves, their crews, or one of the verified music relief initiatives Spotify has already vetted through the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief project.

At launch, Spotify is working with a small group of fundraising partners to make the donation process easier, including Cash App, GoFundMe, and PayPal.me.

Cash App is currently Spotify’s preferred method, as it has also established a $1 million relief effort for artists. When Spotify artists choose their “$cashtag” as their Artist Fundraising Pick and secure at least one donation of any size, they’ll receive an additional $100 in their account from Cash App up until a collective total of $1 million has been contributed. This works for artists in the U.S. and U.K., but Spotify users worldwide can donate through Cash App.

To use the new fundraising tools, artists (or Spotify for Artists admin users) will go to their Artist dashboard and click “Get started” on the banner at the top to submit their Fundraising Pick. This is a similar process as to how artists choose which track they want to display on their profile.

Once live, fans can donate to the cause through the artist’s profile. In addition to Cash App, PayPal is broadly available and GoFundMe is available in 19 markets.

If the artist chooses to raise for a music relief organization, they can select from those associated with Spotify’s existing charity project, which launched last month in partnership with MusiCares, PRS Foundation, and Help Musicians. It has now expanded to include a wider range of participating organizations, including several local options, and is continuing to grow.

At launch, a handful of artists already have the new feature live, including Tyrese Pope and Boy Scouts who are fundraising through Cash App; Marshmello who is fundraising for MusiCares; and Benjamin Ingrosso who is fundraising for Musikerforbundet.

Spotify says it moved to quickly launch this feature because it believed it was in a unique position to help artists raise money from a global network of fans. However, it cautions that it’s never built a fundraising feature like this before, and considers this a “first version.” Over time, the feature will likely evolve and update based on artist feedback.

“This is an incredibly difficult time for many Spotify users and people around the world — and there are many worthy causes to support at this time,” the company wrote in an announcement. “With this feature, we simply hope to enable those who have the interest and means to support artists in this time of great need, and to create another opportunity for our COVID-19 Music Relief partners to find the financial support they need to continue working in music and lift our industry,” it said.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/04/22/spotify-launches-its-promised-fundraising-feature-for-artists/

Musicians have been quickly turning to Twitch to support themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they’re no longer able to make money from live gigs and touring. Now Twitch is staffing up to turn this ad hoc use of Twitch into more of a formal product. The company today announced it hired Spotify’s Tracy Chan as its new head of Product and Engineering for Music.

Chan worked at Spotify for four years as director of Product Management. In this role, he was primarily focused on leading product strategy and development for Creator platforms and developing analytics tools for artists and labels, including Spotify for Artists and Spotify Analytics.

He joined Spotify in April 2016 after the streaming music company bought his photo aggregation startup, CrowdAlbum, in order to add to its growing set of marketing tools aimed at artists. Before CrowdAlbum, Chan worked at YouTube as a product manager, where he launched YouTubes’s Creator Platform and what’s now called YouTube Creator Studio.

Now at Twitch, Chan joins a growing music team headed by Twitch’s head of music, Mike Olson. Going forward, Chan will focus on evolving the Twitch experience specifically for live music and helping artists and fans better connect in real time, Twitch said in an announcement.

This is not Twitch’s first ex-Spotify’s to join Twitch with a focus on music. Earlier this year, Athena Koumis, formerly of XITE and Spotify, joined as the Music Partnerships Manager, the company notes.

Though many artists now performing on Twitch may already have followings on mainstream social platforms — like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube — some have found it’s easier to make money on Twitch, reports have said. In addition, Twitch has made several efforts amid the pandemic to help onboard more musicians to its platform. For example, Twitch and SoundCloud recently announced a partnership that allows SoundCloud creators to start earning money from Twitch streams by fast-tracking their Affiliate status.

Twitch also partnered with Bandsintown on a similar effort focused on quickly giving artists access to the Twitch Affiliate program.

Once live on Twitch, the artists can generate revenue through subscriptions, direct donations, by cheering with Bits (an online tipping feature), by running ads on their channel and by linking to music and merchandise stores. They also can directly connect with fans via Twitch chat. Some have even taken advantage of Twitch features like raids, which redirect viewers to another live channel, and another that lets a channel broadcast another’s stream when they’re not live. Though designed with the gamer audience in mind, these have also proved useful for musicians looking to collaborate with others in order to grow their Twitch followings.

Though Twitch today is still best known for game streaming, it has been steadily expanding its live music footprint. Since the coronavirus breakout, Twitch has featured live musical performances from artists including John Legend, Diplo, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Lady Antebellum and dozens of others. Some of these were a part of Twitch’s 12-hour charity stream, Twitch Stream Aid, which benefited the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO powered by the United Nations Foundation.

In a statement, Chan spoke of the opportunity ahead at Twitch.

“I have spent my career building Creator tools and I believe there is a massive opportunity to help artists connect with their fans through virtual performances and live streaming, which is what led me to Twitch,” said Chan. “Across the board, and especially at this moment in time, we are seeing disruption in the music industry as artists are having to find new ways to both make money and interact with fans. As Twitch looks to expand its offerings for music creators and within the music industry as a whole, I am confident that together with the team, we will be able to build the necessary tools to support artists now and as they continue to explore their new virtual stage,” he said.

Olson, meanwhile, added that Chan’s hire comes at time when Twitch is heavily investing in building more product and monetization tools for music creators.

“Tracy is joining our team at a critical moment as we continue to see growing interest from both new and established musical talent joining Twitch,” said Olson. “His experience in developing video and music Creator tools will be invaluable to our team as we pursue new ways to support artists and connect them to their fans around the world.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/04/20/twitch-snags-spotifys-tracy-chan-as-its-new-head-of-product-engineering-for-music/

Stocks rallied Monday, with all major indices snapping back into positive territories as investors seized on any positive developments in the fight to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

The stock market is, of course, not the economy. And this is likely a dead cat bounce — a temporary recovery after a big fall. The question is how many dead cat bounces will we see in the coming weeks?

And while the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing that didn’t stop investors from grasping at data from John Hopkins University that suggests the number of new COVID-19 cases is slowing. The institution’s coronavirus map, which has become a go-to source, showed 25,200 new cases rising on March 31, then rising to 33,300 new cases by April 3. Those numbers dropped to 28,200 new cases April 4, per its data; other trackers have posted slightly different results.

Today’s rally will be tested in the days and weeks to come as COVID-19 cases continue and eventually hit a peak before plateauing. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has warned that cases, and deaths, will likely surge in the next week.

Here are the day’s results:

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: up 7.59%, or 1,597.21 points, to close at 22.649.74
  • S&P 500: rose 6.95%, or 172.86 points, to close at 2,661.51
  • Nasdaq composite: popped 7.33%, or 540.15 points, to close at 7,913.24

There were other indirect COVID-19 fundamentals such as new sales guidance or analyst notes that also moved certain stocks.

E-commerce stocks, including eBay and Amazon saw positive movement. Online retailer Wayfair was perhaps the biggest mover in this category. The company’s shares opened 36% higher after reporting its gross revenue growth rate more than doubled at the end of March. Wayfair shares closed up 41.7% to $71.50.

Music streaming company Spotify saw shares decline more than 4% after Raymond James downgraded the stock from “strong buy” to “market perform,” citing that COVID-19 was causing less engagement and fewer downloads as users spend more time indoors. Spotify shares did manage to bounce back during the day and ended up closing up nearly 0.33% to $122.52.

Shares of SaaS companies rallied on the day as well, with the Bessemer cloud index rising 6.79% on the day; shares of SaaS companies, modern software firms, have enjoyed strong revenue multiples in recent years. They have tracked the broader indices down, however, and remain in bear-market territory.

Looking ahead, we’re entering earnings season during a period of intense economic uncertainty; how the stock market performs in the future will at least partially depend on how companies performed in Q1 2020, and what they project for the future. Get ready.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/04/06/american-stocks-rally-sharply-on-covid-19-optimism-as-earnings-loom/

Spotify has been slowly rolling out a redesigned mobile app in small sections — first with an update to podcast pages, then to other parts of the experience. Today, the company is revamping the most critical part of the Spotify app: the home screen. Now, when Spotify users launch the app, they’ll notice the new home screen greets them depending on what time of day it is with a “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon” or “Good Evening,” for example. But the screen’s content and recommendations will also change with the time of day, Spotify says, and the content has also been better organized so you more easily jump back in or browse recommendations from the main page.

Before, Spotify’s home screen emphasized your listening history by putting at the top of the page things like your “Recently Played,” “Your Top Podcasts” and “Your Heavy Rotation.”

Effectively, the update separates the app’s home screen into two main parts: familiar content on top and new or recommended content on the bottom half.

Now, the home screen reserves six spots underneath the daily greeting where you can continue with things like the podcast you stream every morning, your workout playlist or the album you’ve been listening to on heavy rotation this week. This content will update as your day progresses to better match your activities and interests, based on prior behavior.

Beneath these six spots, the home page will display other things like your top podcasts, “made for you” playlists, recommendations for new discoveries based on your listening and more.

The concept for the new home screen is similar to what Pandora recently rolled out with its personalized “For You” tab late last year. Like Spotify, Pandora’s tab also customizes the content displayed based on the time of day, in addition to the day of the week and other predictions it can make about a customer’s mood or potential activity, based on prior listening data.

Pandora’s revamp led to double the number of users engaging with the personalized page, compared with the old Browse experience, it says. Spotify, too, is likely hoping to see a similar bump in usage and engagement, as users won’t have to dart around the app as much to find their favorite content or recommendations. That way, they’ll be able to start streaming more quickly after the app is launched, potentially leading to longer sessions and more discovery of new content.

Spotify to date has defined itself by its advanced personalization and recommendation technology, but its app hasn’t always been the easiest to use and navigate — especially in comparison to its top U.S. rival, Apple Music, which favors a simpler and cleaner look-and-feel. Its recent changes have tried to address this problem by making its various parts and pages easier to use.

Spotify says the updated home screen will roll out starting today to all global users with at least 30 days of listening history.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/09/spotify-rolls-out-a-more-personalized-home-screen-to-users-worldwide/

After recently tweaking its design to better showcast podcasts, Spotify today announced it’s giving its entire mobile experience a refreshed look-and-feel. Starting initially with the iOS app, both Spotify Free and Premium users will notice the app has a more consistent, streamlined look, new in-app icons, changes to how cover art displays, and more.

The new app has a simpler, universal Shuffle Play button which now saves you a click by letting you tap once to start shuffling songs and playing them.

Action buttons used by Premium users, including “like,” “play,” and “download,” are now grouped in a row at the bottom-center of the screen instead of spread out around the interface, as before. The downloading button for Premium users has also been updated so it looks the same as the one used for downloading podcasts.

Not only does grouping actions make for a more intuitive experience, it also better lends itself to using Spotify with just one hand. That’s definately been more difficult to do in the past, as actions were on far sides of the screen or even buried away in the More menu at the top right — causing you to have to reach all the way around the screen with your (hopefully) long thumb or use the app two-handed.

The refreshed app is also easier to browse visually, as it’s now displaying a track’s cover art in all views — except, obviously, the album view. This way, when you’re scrolling through lists of songs, you won’t have to read every title — you can just scan the screen for the cover art instead. Plus, songs you’ve previously “liked” will show the heart icon next to the the track name as another visual clue.

Though the individual tweaks on their own are subtle, the overall goal is to make Spotify’s app easier to use. This is an area that Spotify has struggled with, to be fair. The app tends to be praised more so for its clever personalization technology and wide range of curated playlists — not its design. Some users switching over from Apple Music, which has a cleaner and brighter feel, find Spotify lacking.

Today’s changes may not address those problems. Spotify still loves its dark theme and its app is still busier than it needs to be — mainly because it’s had to cram podcasts into the same app as music, while Apple breaks them out separately. But the update makes the app a bit easier to use and navigate, which is particularly important when it expands to global markets where a simplified experience could be key to its adoption among first-time mobile users.

The changes are arriving starting today on iOS, but you may not see them until the rollout completes.

Spotify says the new look will be “coming soon” to Android users.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/02/27/spotify-tries-making-its-app-easier-to-use-in-latest-update/

In early December, Spotify launched its annual personalized Wrapped playlist with its users’ most-streamed sounds of 2019. That has become a bit of a tradition and isn’t necessarily anything new, but for 2019, it also gave users a look back at how they used Spotify over the last decade. Because this was quite a large job, Spotify gave us a bit of a look under the covers of how it generated these lists for its ever-growing number of free and paid subscribers.

It’s no secret that Spotify is a big Google Cloud Platform user. Back in 2016, the music streaming service publicly said that it was going to move to Google Cloud, after all, and in 2018, it disclosed that it would spend at least $450 million on its Google Cloud infrastructure in the following three years.

It was also back in 2018, for that year’s Wrapped, that Spotify ran the largest Google Cloud Dataflow job ever run on the platform, a service the company started experimenting with a few years earlier. “Back in 2015, we built and open-sourced a big data processing Scala API for Apache Beam and Google Cloud Dataflow called Scio,” Spotify’s VP of Engineering Tyson Singer told me. “We chose Dataflow over Dataproc because it scales with less operational overhead and Dataflow fit with our expected needs for streaming processing. Now we have a great open-source toolset designed and optimized for Dataflow, which in addition to being used by most internal teams, is also used outside of Spotify.”

For Wrapped 2019, which includes the annual and decadal lists, Spotify ran a job that was five times larger than in 2018 — but it did so at three-quarters of the cost. Singer attributes this to his team’s familiarity with the platform. “With this type of global scale, complexity is a natural consequence. By working closely with Google Cloud’s engineering teams and specialists and drawing learnings from previous years, we were able to run one of the most sophisticated Dataflow jobs ever written.”

Still, even with this expertise, the team couldn’t just iterate on the full data set as it figured out how to best analyze the data and use it to tell the most interesting stories to its users. “Our jobs to process this would be large and complex; we needed to decouple the complexity and processing in order to not overwhelm Google Cloud Dataflow,” Singer said. “This meant that we had to get more creative when it came to going from idea, to data analysis, to producing unique stories per user, and we would have to scale this in time and at or below cost. If we weren’t careful, we risked being wasteful with resources and slowing down downstream teams.”

To handle this workload, Spotify not only split its internal teams into three groups (data processing, client-facing and design, and backend systems), but also split the data processing jobs into smaller pieces. That marked a very different approach for the team. “Last year Spotify had one huge job that used a specific feature within Dataflow called “Shuffle.” The idea here was that having a lot of data, we needed to sort through it, in order to understand who did what. While this is quite powerful, it can be costly if you have large amounts of data.”

This year, the company’s engineers minimized the use of Shuffle by using Google Cloud’s Bigtable as an intermediate storage layer. “Bigtable was used as a remediation tool between Dataflow jobs in order for them to process and store more data in a parallel way, rather than the need to always regroup the data,” said Singer. “By breaking down our Dataflow jobs into smaller components — and reusing core functionality — we were able to speed up our jobs and make them more resilient.”

Singer attributes at least a part of the cost savings to this technique of using Bigtable, but he also noted that the team decomposed the problem into data collection, aggregation and data transformation jobs, which it then split into multiple separate jobs. “This way, we were not only able to process more data in parallel, but be more selective about which jobs to rerun, keeping our costs down.”

Many of the techniques the engineers on Singer’s teams developed are currently in use across Spotify. “The great thing about how Wrapped works is that we are able to build out more tools to understand a user, while building a great product for them,” he said. “Our specialized techniques and expertise of Scio, Dataflow and big data processing, in general, is widely used to power Spotify’s portfolio of products.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/02/18/how-spotify-ran-the-largest-google-dataflow-job-ever-for-wrapped-2019/

Spotify’s ongoing investments in the podcast-streaming side of its business helped boost podcast listening on its service by 200% last year. But today, only 16% of Spotify’s monthly listeners are engaging with podcasts — a number the company today hopes to nudge higher by redesigning the podcast side of its streaming app. The new layout now makes it easier to view information about podcasts and improves discovery of new shows.

In particular, Spotify has given podcast show trailers a more prominent position in its app.

Show trailers help podcasts find new listeners by offering a concise introduction to the podcast and its creators. A good trailer hooks listeners on the show’s concept by selling its strengths, or even by offering a snippet of content that makes listeners hungry to hear more.

In the updated version of Spotify’s app, these trailers are labeled “trailer” and are highlighted at the top of the episode list, separated from the content as Apple does in its own podcasts app.

The belief here is that listeners need an easier way to check out the different podcasts out there, without having to commit to full episodes. That’s more important than ever as Spotify’s podcast library expands. The app’s catalog now has more than 700,000 podcasts across all sorts of topics — a figure that’s growing quickly. In January, Spotify was at the Consumer Electronics Show touting its “over 500,000” podcasts. By the time of this month’s earnings, it was using the higher number.

Also to aid in discovery, Spotify is adding descriptive show categories underneath the show’s description. These will be simple labels, like “true crime,” “personal stories,” “travel,” “relationships” and more. This change is also focused on catching up with market leader Apple Podcasts, which already categorizes its podcasts in a similar way.

The other major change is to the landing page for podcast shows in Spotify, which are getting a revamp to be more readable at a glance.

The updated layout has moved the descriptions up to the top of the page, so you don’t have to swipe on a show to read about it. Before, Spotify would display the podcast’s thumbnail image at the top, and you’d swipe left to view the description. Now, the layout looks more like — yes, you guessed it — Apple Podcasts.

The combined changes do make Spotify’s app more usable for podcast listening and discovery — especially for people who are used to Apple Podcasts’ design and layout but are now making the jump to Spotify. However, Spotify’s real advantage in podcasts isn’t just how it can mimic Apple’s better design, but how it’s catering to creators, investing in originals and exclusives, personalizing its recommendations and, now, its ads.

Spotify says the redesign is rolling out to its mobile app starting today.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/02/18/spotify-mimics-apples-design-with-new-podcast-show-page-updates/

As an ’80s kid, I’m often nostalgic about that era. I sometimes hear myself speaking and I sound like my grandparents when they bragged about how things were better “before”.

To be honest, I do think things were better before. Ha! The eighties were an amazing time to live in and anyone who disagrees simply wasn’t around yet.

But let’s be honest, some things are just so much easier now, right? I created this comic series called “Strange things from the past” because some things are better now and some things were better then.

I had a blast making it. It was a little travel back in time and I hope you’ll travel too!

If you want to see more of my comics, check out my previous posts here and here

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11 hours ago

LMAO, my sister and I did that and you can hear my father in background shouting to turn down the music

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12 hours ago

The best thing in the early 80s was a walkman and you really could walk and run while listening to it. The discman came much later, in the middle of the 80s.

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10 hours ago

With or without a cell phone, I would never wait an hour for someone to turn up.

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13 hours ago

The sound of the dial up modem being so loud you feel like it will wake up the dead when you start it at night. Not even muffling it with stuffed toys helped much.😂

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11 hours ago

“photo album today” -> do they even exist?

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13 hours ago

My grandfather owned the local video store. He would hold it for us.

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11 hours ago

Ah yessss. sitting on my bedroom floor, reading the lyrics booklet (if they had one) or at least going over and over the album art while the new CD played.

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12 hours ago

Yeah, we’re lazier with numbers today. I only memorize the ones from my closest family members. And if any of them changes a number, that’s it 😂 I let my phone remember the new one.

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13 hours ago

An encyclopedia that was out of date a year later on anything but history.

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13 hours ago

Do not miss smoking in restaurants or other public areas at all

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11 hours ago

Perfect resembling of styles!

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13 hours ago

We were able to read a map. Main difference!

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13 hours ago

My father recorded a sports match over the christening of our first child….

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8 hours ago

She looks cute in her ’80’s clothes. She just needs black lace Madonna gloves.

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12 hours ago

We did have videorecorders back then…

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13 hours ago

Was more… Mummy/Daddy, is it true that…?

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11 hours ago

i made a few mix tapes. None of them worked, I was very single.

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13 hours ago

They’re still like that. Just use 274 extra products today.

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13 hours ago

Yes, you had to sing to the guy in the CD store

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7 hours ago

they have less power then.

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12 hours ago

Still waiting for the boyfriend from earlier?

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Following Spotify’s confirmation of a new Stories feature, initially being tested by social media influencers, the company this morning announced it will now allow artists to reach their Instagram fan bases in a new way, too. However, in this case, they aren’t creating Spotify Stories they can market elsewhere on their social media, but instead are able to share their unique video art from Spotify’s Canvas feature directly to their Instagram.

Canvas launched into beta last fall, allowing artists to replace the album art that appears when a song is playing with a moving, visual experience that plays in a short loop. Canvas videos have had mixed reviews, as some users find the imagery distracting while others seem to prefer it.

Starting today, the thousands of artists in the Canvas beta will be able to share their looping videos to Instagram with just a tap.

From the app’s Artists profile, each track that included a Canvas will have a “Share” icon next to it. By tapping that icon, artists can share the song and its Canvas to Instagram Stories. The post will look like a regular Spotify share, with cover art and a link to play the track on Spotify. However, now their looping video will be the backdrop.

Currently, the Canvas beta is only available to those using the Spotify for Artists app on iOS. Spotify says it’s working to bring the sharing feature to Android users soon.

In addition, fans seeing the Canvas on Instagram aren’t counted in the Canvas metrics, unless they click through to Spotify, the company says.

The feature itself is intended to aid artists who are marketing their new songs to fans on Instagram, as well as for highlighting updates to Canvas — like those that are updated to include clips from a new music video, new art or live performances, for example.

One high-profile artist who’s taking advantage of Canvas is Billie Eilish — the artist who just swept last night’s Grammy Awards by winning the four biggest prizes — best new artist, record of the year, album of the year and song of the year. Eilish has used Canvas to share animated versions of fan art, which helps her to better engage with her fan base.

Spotify claims that adding a high-quality Canvas has increased track shares by up to 200%, in addition to lifting streams, saves and artist profile visits. By expanding Canvas to Instagram, those shares should bump up even higher, the company believes.

Despite its social media media-inspired features, like the new Stories addition or the looping videos of Canvas, Spotify doesn’t intend for its streaming app to become a new social platform. Instead, its focus is on building features that artists and listeners can leverage to better connect with social media fan bases elsewhere — either to help market themselves and their music or to improve discoverability of new music among their followers.

Artists interested in Canvas can sign up for the waitlist here.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/01/27/get-ready-to-see-spotifys-looping-videos-on-instagram/

TikTok, the fast-growing user-generated video app from China’s ByteDance, has been building a new music streaming service to compete against the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. And today it’s announcing a deal that helps pave the way for a global launch of it. It has inked a licensing deal with Merlin, the global agency that represents tens of thousands of independent music labels and hundreds of thousands of artists, for music from those labels to be used legally on the TikTok platform anywhere that the app is available.

The news is significant because this is the first major music licensing deal announced by TikTok as part of its wider efforts in the music industry. Notably, it’s not the first: I’ve confirmed TikTok has actually secured other major labels but has been restricted from going public on the details.

The Merlin deal is therefore a template of what TikTok is likely signing with others: it includes both its mainstay short-form videos — where music plays a key role (the app, before it was acquired by ByteDance, was even called “Musically”) — as well as new music streaming services.

Specifically, a source close to TikTok has confirmed to TechCrunch that the licensing deal covers its upcoming music subscription service Resso.

Resso was long-rumoured and eventually spotted in the wild at the end of last year when ByteDance tested the app in India and Indonesia. ByteDance owns the Resso trademark, so it’s a good bet that it will make its way to other markets soon. (Possibly with features that differentiate this later entrant from others in the market? Recall ByteDance acquired an AI-based music startup called Jukedeck last year.)

“Independent artists and labels are such a crucial part of music creation and consumption on TikTok,” said Ole Obermann, global head of music for TikTok, in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with Merlin to bring their family of labels to the TikTok community. The breadth and diversity of the catalogue presents our users with an even larger canvas from which to create, while giving independent artists the opportunity to connect with TikTok’s diverse community.”

Music is a fundamental part of the TikTok experience, and this deal covers everything that’s there today — videos created by TikTok users, sponsored videos created for marketing — as well as whatever is coming up around the corner.

A music streaming app, which TikTok has reportedly been gearing up to launch for some time, is one way that the company could help generate revenue. Despite being one of the most popular apps of 2019, monetisation has largely eluded the company up to now.

One reason why monetising may happen is because of the lack of deals at the other end of the chain. As of December, TikTok reportedly had yet to sign any deals with the “majors” — Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music. From what we understand, Merlin is the first big deal of its kind announced by the company, but others are already in place.

In any case, the company is ramping up its bigger music operation.

Obermann, who was hired away from Warner Music last year, in turn hired another former Warner colleague, Tracy Gardner, who now leads label licensing for the company. And just yesterday, the company opened an office in Los Angeles, the heart of the music industry.

The move to bring more licensed music usage to TikTok (and other ByteDance apps) is significant for other reasons, too.

On one hand, it’s about labels trying to evolve with the times, collecting revenues wherever audiences happen to be, whether that is in short-form user-generated video, in advertising that runs alongside that or in a new music service capitalising on the new vogue for streamed media.

“This partnership with TikTok is very significant for us,” said Jeremy Sirota, CEO, Merlin, in a statement. “We are seeing a new generation of music services and a new era of music-related consumption, much of it driven by the global demand for independent music. Merlin members are increasingly using TikTok for their marketing campaigns, and today’s partnership ensures that they and their artists can also build new and incremental revenue streams.”

Times are changing in the music industry. Sirota himself only joined Merlin earlier this month, after working on music efforts at Facebook for the last couple of years (and before that at Warner Music, like TikTok’s two key executives).

On the other hand, the deal is significant also because it underscores how TikTok is increasingly working to legitimise itself in the wider tech and media marketplace.

While ByteDance’s acquisition of TikTok continues to face regulatory scrutiny, the company has been working on ways to assert its independence from China’s control, which has included many clarifications about where its content is hosted (not China! it says) and even a search for a new U.S.-based CEO. On another front, more licensing deals should also help the company with the many legal and PR issues that have been hanging over it concerning how it pays out when music is used in its popular app.

Updated with clarification that Obermann works for TikTok, not ByteDance, and the news that there are other music deals in place that have yet to be announced.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/01/23/tiktok-inks-licensing-deal-with-merlin-to-use-music-from-independent-labels-in-videos-and-new-resso-streaming-service/