Sirius XM Holdings Agree to Acquire Pandora: Creating The World’s Largest Audio-Entertainment Company!?

Sirius XM Holdings has agreed to acquire Pandora for $3.5 billion in an all-stock transaction. The announcement was made this morning and it will create the world’s largest audio-entertainment company.

“We have long respected Pandora and their team for their popular consumer offering that has attracted a massive audience, and have been impressed by Pandora’s strategic progress and stronger execution,” Sirius XM CEO Jim Meyer said in the release.

“We believe there are significant opportunities to create value for both companies’ stockholders by combining our complementary businesses. The addition of Pandora diversifies Sirius XM’s revenue streams with the U.S.’s largest ad-supported audio offering, broadens our technical capabilities, and represents an exciting next step in our efforts to expand our reach out of the car even further.”

Pandora shares are up more than 9% on the news, trading just below $10. Meanwhile, Sirius XM’s stock is down about 2% at $6.84 a share.

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First music licensing reform in 20 years passed by senate

The US Senate have passed the contested Music Modernization Act signalling the first changes in music licensing laws for 20 years.

The long-discussed and at times contentious Music Modernization Act has finally been passed by the United States Senate. It’s now up to the House to consider it and for President Trump to sign it off and music licensing laws will see their first update in the US for 20 years after the industry has transformed with new technology and digital platforms reshaping how music is consumed and released.

The Music Modernization Act has seen significant support from much of the music industry including high profile artists and songwriters. It has however seen backlash, particularly from licensing company Harry Fox Agency and Sirius XM who will both be impacted by the act. The Harry Fox Agency were able to resolve their disputes but Sirius XM and free music service Music Choice stood firmly against it.

Their opposition slowed the process but the act has now been passed by the Senate, however Sirius XM remain against the act. Their issues lay primarily in the CLASSICS section of the act which will legally obligate them to pay songwriters and artist royalties on recordings made before 1972.

The president of the Recording Industry Association of America, Mitch Glazier said: “As legendary band the Grateful Dead once said in an iconic pre-1927 song, ‘what a long strange trip it’s been.’ It’s been an epic odyssey, and we’re thrilled to almost be at our destination. For the modern U.S. Senate to unanimously pass a 185-page bill is a herculean feat, only achievable because of the grit, determination and mobilisation of thousands of music creators across the nation.

“The result is a bill that moves us toward a modern music licensing landscape better founded on fair market rates and fair pay for all. At long last, a brighter tomorrow for both past and future generations of music creators is nearly upon us. We are indebted to the leadership of Senators Hatch, Grassley, Feinstein, Alexander, Coons, Kennedy and Whitehouse for helping get us there.”

The new bill will combine 3 pieces of new legislation into Section 115 of the US Copyright Act:

  • The Music Modernization Act, which streamlines the music licensing process to make it easier for rights holders to get paid when their music is streamed online.
  • The CLASSICS Act (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act) for pre-1972 recordings.
  • The AMP Act (or Allocation for Music Producers Act), which improves royalty payouts for producers and engineers from SoundExchange when their recordings are used on satellite and online radio. Notably, this is the first time producers have ever been mentioned in copyright law.

American’s listen to 2+ hours of music every day

We’re living in a time of unlimited and unrestricted music access, and with a world of music at our fingertips people are listening more than ever.

The internet and music streaming services have revolutionised how we listen to music. We now have tens-of-millions of tracks available wherever we are, which means people are listening to way more music than they used to – especially in America.

A new study from Audio Monitor US 2018 looks at how Americans are listening to music these days with all the advancements and changes in the industry and technology. It found that on average Americans are listening to 151 minutes of music every single day and surprisingly, considering how prevalent on-demand music streaming has become, the average American listens to music mostly on the radio.

Music and entertainment lead with Audience Net, Robert Delmonte says of the report: “As new ways of listening start to fuel an economic recovery for the music industry, they are also reshaping the way listeners discover and consume music. Audiomonitor uncovers the data behind these trends.”

The survey asked 3,000 consumers in America aged 16 and above about their listening habits. It showed that in the ever-increasingly digital age broadcast radio is still king with a 31% share, though that is 3% lower than it was last year. In second place came music streaming with a 27% share of total music listening, which was only a gradual increase on the year before by 1%.

Downloaded music stood at 10% and was down 3% on last year. Meanwhile another win for radio as ‘Other Internet Radio’, services like Pandora which offer streaming in a radio style, had a 12% share which has risen by 2% over the past 2 years. In a blend of traditional radio and internet radio, the smallest percentage of listening came from tuning in to AM/FM radio stations online which made up 5%.

Whilst radio may remain surprisingly popular it seems that it’s the older generations keeping the format alive for the most part. For 55 year-olds and up Broadcast radio made up 45% of their listening whilst for 16-24 year olds only 12% listen to proper broadcast.

Meanwhile whilst music streaming continues to boom and grow with younger generations, a giant 60% of 16-19 year olds listen to their music through streaming service, the age divide could be seen. A measly 8% of those aged above the age of 65 spent their time listening to music using music streaming services.

When it comes to who’s performing the most YouTube comes out on top in all age groups. Spotify take the second place with a massive percentage for 16-24 year olds, which actually equals YouTube’s 38% usage in the same age range. Interestingly with older generations Amazon Prime Music holds a large percentage and is actually the second most used platform after YouTube for 65+. We’ve touched on this before and it could well be due to subscribers being packaged in with a general Amazon Prime subscription.

You can read the full, detailed report here:

Amazon Music gets exclusives from Al Green + others in new series

Amazon Music are getting into exclusives with a new series working with independent labels to create music just for Amazon.

Exclusives on music streaming services are a contested issue. In 2016 and 2017 services, like Apple Music, started experimenting with purchasing music for exclusive release on their platform. It quickly garnered criticism from the likes of the Chinese government and Universal Music CEO Lucian Grainge went so far as to ban exclusive releases from any artists signed to UMG.

Since then services have moved away from the idea for the most part, but exclusives are still a thing – streamers are just getting creative with them rather than throwing money at a new release. Amazon’s new ‘Produced By’ series will do just that by getting in Grammy award-winning artists in to record exclusive new recordings.

The series will see Amazon pair producers with some of the world’s top artists, like Al Green, to create and record brand new recordings. Interestingly, Amazon are relinquishing the recording rights of the tracks to the artist or their label and not keeping the copyright for themselves, just releasing the music to listen to only on Amazon.

The newest release comes from 10-time Grammy-winner and soul legend Al Green, his first track in a decade – ‘Before the Next Teardrop Falls’. The track was produced by Memphis-based producer Matt Ross-Spang after his work on ‘How Lucky’ by John Prine and ‘Leftovers’ by Margo Price on Third Man Records. Ross-Spang’s series concluded with a track from William Bell.

Ross-Spang says of the ‘Produced By’ series: “As first and foremost a music fan and now as a producer, I’ve always been drawn to artists with unique voices whose gift transcends genre and time. I’m excited and honoured to play a role in this innovative opportunity Amazon Music is providing these extraordinary individuals. As my hero Sam Phillips said: ‘If you’re doing something different, you’re not doing anything!'”

SoundCloud plays will count towards Official Charts

Every play on SoundCloud will now count towards song chart positions in a monumental move from the world’s biggest music community.

SoundCloud have some amazing news for the artists on their massive streaming, open streaming platform. SoundCloud on-demand plays in the UK and Ireland will now be included in the Official Charts in the UK and Ireland giving them the same opportunities as being streamed on any other streaming service.

SoundCloud plays will start counting towards chart performance immediately from today, the 14th September, 2018. Next weeks Official Charts, released on September 21st, will be the first to include on-demand streams from UK and Ireland listeners on SoundCloud impacting the chart positions of tracks on SoundCloud.

This is great news for all artists on SoundCloud but in particular the service’s massive independent community. SoundCloud’s open platform allows anyone to create an account and upload their music to the global streaming service. Many independent artists have built a career and found fame on SoundCloud, and now when people are going mad for a track it can be represented on the charts as well.

Streams that will be eligible for chart impact will come from SoundCloud Go and Go+ subscriptions, as well as streaming official, identified tracks for monetisation in their free, ad-supported listening tier. SoundCloud’s on-demand streams will now be included in The Official Singles chart, The Official Albums chart, The Official Independent Singles chart, as well as a variety of genre specific charts.

Pandora’s ‘The Drop’ presents you new music every day

People love discovering new music when they’re streaming and Pandora’s latest playlist will be dropping fresh cuts just for you every single day.

Pandora have just revealed a new daily playlist for Premium listeners. ‘The Drop’ is a personal playlist that will keep listeners in the loop with all the latest music that they care about as soon as it hits stores and streaming services.

The playlist will use “state of the art machine learning models” to create custom playlists for each user based on the music they already love and what Pandora thinks they will love based on that. The playlist updates itself as soon as new music goes live so listeners are up to date with all of the latest releases from their favourite artists amongst new music for you to discover.

Songs get added to the playlist on the day they’re released, giving listeners a reason to keep coming back for more every single day. It’s like Spotify’s lauded Discover Weekly and Release Radar playlists in one awesome playlist, and you don’t have to wait a whole week for a new selection of tunes to fall in love with.

Pandora the drop new music playlists recommended discover new music stream listen

The playlist will order tracks by the newest first so every time you revisit you can check out the latest additions first. The playlist maxes out at 100 so you don’t have to worry about missing a few days, you can scroll back through the latest 100 tracks added to the playlist and revel in all the new music Pandora knows you’ll be jamming.

Premium and trial listeners can find The Drop under the playlists tab in their My Music section. It will only show up if enough music has been listened to to gauge what a user likes listening to, so if it’s not appearing for you then you’d better get listening. Pandora say this playlist isn’t available for free listeners “for now” so ad-supported listeners may get it eventually.

The state of music streaming in 2018

2018 has been the biggest year for music streaming yet as people all around the world sign up for limitless listening.

Midia have released their report for the music streaming industry in the first half of 2018. It shows that the incredible growth of online music in recent years is still going strong and that more people around the world are listening to music on streaming services than ever before.

The report shows that in the first half of 2018 music streaming rose a considerable 16% to 229.5 million subscribers, after closing 2017 with 198.6 million subscribers. From the same time last year, music streaming has gained 62.8 million subscribers which represents over a 25% in total growth. This growth is incredible, but also represents growth similar to the year before when from H1 2016 to H1 2017 subscribers grew by only 2 million less; 60.8 million.

Midia predict that music streaming’s incredible growth is only going to continue for the rest of 2018, and no doubt will remain through 2019. Countries where music streaming has been heavily adopted like the US and Europe will probably soon start to slow down in growth as all the main audiences for streaming sign up or are already signed up.

Midia reckons that future growth for music streaming will be mostly driven by emerging territories which are newly adopting music streaming, such as Japan, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia. The growth of streaming in these territories will require unique offerings however, says Midia in their report. They reckon that promotions like bundling services with telco packages will lead growth in mid-tier streaming markets.

The trends for the top streaming services were:

  • Spotify:Spotify once again maintained global market share of 36%, the same as in Q4 2017, with 83 million subscribers. Spotify has either gained or maintained market share every six months since Q4 2016. Spotify added more subscribers than any other service in H1 2018 – 11.9, which was 39% of all net new subscribers across the globe in the period.
  • Apple Music:Apple added two points of market share, up to 19%, and up three points year-on-year, with 43.5 million subscribers. Apple Music added the second highest number of subscribers – 9.2 million, with the US being the key growth market.
  • Amazon:Across Prime Music and Music Unlimited Amazon added just under half a point of market share, stable at 12%. Amazon experienced the most growth within its Unlimited tier, adding 3.3 million to reach 9.5 million in H2 2018. In total Amazon had 27.9 million subscribers at the end of the period.
  • Others:There were mixed fortunes among the rest of the pack. In Japan, Line Music experienced solid quarterly growth to reach one million subscribers, while in South Korea MelOn had a dip in Q1 but recovered in Q2 to finish slightly above its Q4 2017 figure. Elsewhere, Pandora had a solid six months, adding 0.5 million subscribers, while Google performed strongly on a global basis

Apple Music is getting even better with iOS 12

iOS 12 is on it’s way and it’s bringing with it a bunch of new features for Apple’s streaming service making it the best music experience they’ve offered yet.

Now with roughly 50 million songs available for streaming and over 50 million subscribers choosing Apple for their music pleasure the service is becoming a real contender for Spotify’s top spot. Apple are releasing the next generation of it’s mobile operating software and the 12th iteration will see enhancements to Apple Music and will go live on September 17th.

Lyric Search

A pretty massive feature that’s going to save a lot of people trying to find music is Lyric Search, which let’s you search for music using song lyrics. For example, as Verge say after having their hands on the new version for a few weeks, searching for ‘mom’s spaghetti’ will bring up Lose Yourself by Eminem.

Artist Pages

Artist pages are getting an update to push artists even more with larger artwork so that their albums stand out, front and centre. In addition artist discography has been split up into sections so that you can easily explore their releases by Albums, Singles and EPs, live albums, and compilations.

In addition there is now an Essential Albums section showcasing an artist’s top albums, though that may be a point of contention. The play button on artist pages now plays a customised stream of that artist’s tracks rather than just playing all of their songs in order of popularity.

Charts and Playlists

Apple are adding top 100 charts to their music streaming service so that listeners around the world can see what’s hot in the 115 different countries where Apple Music is available. As well they will have a global chart showing the most popular songs on Apple Music everywhere.

A new playlist called Friends Mix presents up a selection of what your friends on Apple Music have been listening to into a personalised playlist. It’s a fun feature that will allow you to dive into the tastes of your friends and hopefully discover something new.

Spotify now allows 10,000 offline songs on 5 devices

Spotify have upped the amount of songs you can download on each device so you can enjoy your entire music catalogue on the go, anywhere.

Great news for music lovers who take their music with them on the go – Spotify are increasing the amount of songs you can download to each of your devices to 10,000. That’s over 3 times the original limit of 3,333 per device, which everyone can admit is an annoyingly specific number regardless of whether you feel it was low – which anyone who streams music everyday will also agree, it’s definitely low.

In addition to allowing far more songs downloaded to your devices to listen to offline, with a Premium Spotify account, the streaming service have raised the amount of devices you can download offline on from 3 to 5. Spotify confirmed the news to Rolling Stone, saying: “At Spotify, we’re always working on improving the experience for our users. We can now confirm that we have increased the number of offline tracks per device – from 3,333 on three devices to 10,000 tracks per device for up to five devices.”

Many users will be excited to hear the news as the limit has been the source of many complaints for Spotify over the years, being branded their “dumbest bug” by Vice. Unfortunately Spotify haven’t raised the limit for user’s personal, saved music libraries. Streamer’s ‘Your Music’ sections are still limited to a maximum of 10,000 tracks, and that’s not for downloading that’s just for saving to your library online.