Apple Music, 18 months later with Zane Lowe, Larry Jackson and Bozoma Saint John

Apple Music’s top brass came together recently to discuss the major success of the streaming service 18 months after it launched and what the future holds.

Apple’s music streamer debuted 18 months ago and has since built up millions of subscribers and established itself as one of the top streaming services in the world. To discuss how the service has come so far in such a short space of time some of the streamer’s top executives spoke to Complex about their journey.

Apple Music’s head of content Larry Jackson, marketing master Bozoma Saint John and ex-Radio 1 DJ and current Beats 1 station runner Zane Lowe shared their opinions. Firstly they were asked how they would describe Apple Music now compared to when it started, saying:

Larry Jackson: It’s really interesting that you would even ask a question like that, because it means that we’ve achieved what we set out to achieve initially: Make something that’s the intersection of all things pop-culture. To make it more than just a utility. I like to think of it as a place where the best creative thinkers in music can congregate and come up with different ideas.

Zane Lowe: Larry was the first person who ever called me and asked if I wanted to be involved in Apple Music. For the most part, it remains how he and I talked about it in that first conversation, which was a place for music to live, and for artists to call home, and for an audience to feel like this is where the conversation is happening. I want it to go deeper than just availability.

Bozoma Saint John: Apple Music is a living, breathing brand. Obviously, as a marketer, I love to work with brands that aren’t static, that have life and personality. Apple music has that. It’s very affirming to be able to take the personalities that already exist and then make that one statement that can move culture.

When asked what they think the music industry will look like in another 5 or 10 years they said:

Saint John: We’re developing something very special and we just want people to pay attention to it. My five-year vision is that I want every single person on the planet to be engaged on Apple Music. I truly believe we’ve created something very, very special. I don’t think anyone else can do this. I will scream from the mountain top until everyone knows.

Read the full interview here.

Music streaming now has more subscribers than Netflix after a phenomenal 2016

It’s been a few weeks since we got a reminder of how successful music streaming but the news that Netflix is no longer more popular than music streaming is a major reminder.

In recent years streaming has become massive, whether it be binging your favourite shows, listening to all your favourite music, watching YouTube or anything else. Whilst Netflix has been slowly working towards world domination as the biggest VOD service music streaming has been following closely behind, until now.

According to figures in a recent report from Midia there were just slightly over 100 million people paying for music streaming subscriptions in 2016. Whilst music subscriptions rising by 48% from 68 million the year before is impressive on it’s own, the massive growth of music streaming has put it ahead of Netflix which reportedly ended last year with 87.8 million subscribers.

Whilst Netflix alone may not be ahead of the entire music industry anymore they still saw great performance in 2016 with a 24% rise compared to 2015’s subscribers. However whilst Netflix’s rise has been a steady rise year on year the reason music streaming is so notable is thanks to it’s exponential growth in recent years, despite services like Spotify having been around for 8+ years.

The figures for overall music streaming subscriptions were made up from various different music services. Midia’s Mark Mulligan estimates that roughly 43 million belong to Spotify, 20.9 million subscribe to Apple Music, 6.9 million to Deezer, 4.5m to Napster and extra million subscribers from Jay-Z’s Tidal. The remaining subscription counts were made up from the various smaller services.

Midia says that with music streaming’s exponential growth in recent years and has established itself as part of the industry we could see things begin to change for the standards of music streaming. They said in their report: “At some stage, perhaps in 2017, we will see streaming in many markets hit the glass ceiling of demand that exists for the 9.99 price point. Additionally the streaming-driven download collapse and the impending CD collapses in Germany and Japan all mean that it would be unwise to expect recorded music revenues to register uninterrupted growth over the next 3 to 5 years.

“But growth will be the dominant narrative and streaming will be the leading voice. 100 million subscribers might not the mean the world changes in an instant, but it does reflect a changing world.

Norway the first country to ditch analogue radio completely for digital

Today marks a giant moment for music and in particular radio, which Norway will no longer broadcast outside of digital stations – the first country to nationally shut off radio signals.

Today the radio signals across Norway will start to go quiet as they become the first country to completely get rid of analogue radio. Starting at 11:11 AM in Norway (05:11 AM ET), in the town of Bodø the shutdown will commence in a process that is assumed to be completed by the end of the year.

Norway’s Ministry of Culture say the decision came about as the older format of broadcasting radio signals doesn’t make sense in a modern era, in particular as the country’s 5 million inhabitants are so spread apart that the cost of reaching everyone outweighs the benefits. The country won’t be left in silence however as the country will prioritise Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) as their source of radio which offers better quality, more choice and more importantly a more sustainable format.

Norway has 20 national digital radio channels that they can tune into whereas analogue radio before offered only 5. The government also revealed that 70% of Norwegians had already converted to digital stations. Whilst all the national stations will be closing their FM channels the country takes no issue with local stations that wish to continue broadcasting on FM channels, so you Norwegians don’t have to chuck your non-digital radios out the window yet.

Norway’s government plans to use the savings made by switching to digital radio to fund more and better programming for broadcasters. Head of Digitalradio Norge, Ole Jorgen Tormark said: “The main reason behind the big technological change is that we want to offer a better radio service to the entire population.”

Some feel that the decision may be coming prematurely however, stating that over 2 million cars don’t include digital radio meaning they may not receive emergency traffic messages which can be vital considering the country’s winter weather. Additionally you can’t help but feel bad for all those with an analogue car radio’s whose commutes are about to get a lot more boring.

It will be interesting to see how Norway’s analogue switch-off works for the country as the first nation to go for it. Germany had planned to go digital by 2015 but it was voted against in 2011 but MPs.

China’s Alibaba look to buy Billboard and the Hollywood Reporter

Following Billboard and Hollywood Reporter’s acquisition of Spin, Vibe and Stereogum they themselves are now being eyed by the Chinese media conglomerate Alibaba.

Rumours have begun circulating that Alibaba are interested in purchasing the Hollywood reporter and music industry magazine Billboard Media Group. This follows the Chinese giant’s purchase of Dick Clark Productions, another entity of Eldridge Industries – the owner of Billboard Media Group and the Hollywood Reporter.

This follows Alibaba’s consolidation of all their entertainment offerings in November, bringing together their various investments in music, games, film and more media under Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group. As they brought their entertainment under on umbrella they revealed $1.5 billion of new investment into the area. Alibaba have also said they plan to invest $7.2 billion in acquisitions of media over the next few years, with Billboard and Hollywood Reporter potentially being their next purchase.

The rumours are even more likely as, last summer, Eldridge industries hired investment bankers to review their media holdings, reportedly in preparation of a possible sale. As one of the biggest entities in the music industry a purchase of Billboard would give Alibaba a great doorway into western music media, as other purchases have done for them expanding into film and news around the world.

Billboard may also be looking to get some fresh investment as the past year has seen them lose some key players. Just last week editor Andrew Flanigan left for a place at NPR. Last month Billboard lost one of it’s longest serving members, Ray Waddell, who left his 30 year post at Billboard for a position at the newly launched Oak View Group of Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff.

Ed Sheeran Sets New Record For Most Spotify Streams In One Day

Ed Sheeran broke another Spotify record on Friday with record breaking streams on Spotify just 24 hours after release.

Sheeran’s new singles ‘Castle on the Hill’ and ‘Shape of You’ were a massive success with over 6 million streams in 24 hours, after being released on Friday morning. They were his first releases since 2015 after he took a year long break from the music industry. This may explain why the long awaited release’s reached a new spotify record with almost 26 million streams between them after 48 hours. Both releases broke the record of ‘Most played song on Spotify in one day’ with the previous record being One Direction’s ‘Drag Me Down’ only reaching 4.7 million streams in one day.

Even the lyrical videos on YouTube did extraordinarily well with 10 million combined views in 24 hours,  this represents his fastest ever video launch with both releases being massively successful.

This isn’t the first record Ed Sheeran has broke though, his track ‘Thinking Out Loud’ from the album ‘X’ was the first track ever to get to 500 million streams on Spotify. This same track also has the Guinness World Record for being the ‘longest climb to No.1 in the UK Singles Chart’ taking 19 weeks to get to the top, so Ed now has three world records in the music industry under his belt but will we see some more when the full album comes out?

There is slight controversy about his new release ‘Castle on the Hill’ with a tweet from a Suffolk Police sergeant saying “Know you want to get home but please slow down on #Suffolk Roads”. This relates to a lyric in the song saying ” Driving at 90, down these country lanes”.

But after shooting to the top of Spotify Streams Records and Charts all over the world, can Ed Sheeran continue his success with the full album comes out? We do know that there is a possible collaboration with John Mayer and that he stated he will record ‘7 new albums’ after this one in an interview on the Zach Sang Show, but will this one be good enough to get to No.1 on the album charts, we will have to wait and find out.