Pandora’s amazing genome project is making podcasts personal

Pandora redefined music discovery with their Music Genome Project which analyses the ‘genes’ of music to find similarities and differences on a minute level. Now they’re bringing that technology to podcasts for an all new podcast listening experience.

Personalised music experiences are a standard now technology has it’s grips in music consumption. Whether you’re listening on Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, or any other services they no doubt know your tastes and have a bunch of methods, curators, and technology to offer you up selections of music that they think you will like based on what you’ve listened to.

Pandora went about this in a very different way to their rival streaming services and created a technology they call Music Genome. It was in development for over 10 years collecting music information and using 450 parameters to break songs down to analyse their DNA and explore the ‘genes’ of music to analyse it in all new ways. This meant they could compare music on a deeper level than ever before, and Pandora are now bringing their Genome technology to podcasts for a whole new way of discovering podcasts.

The podcast genome project has now launched in public beta and hopes to introduce new podcasts to listeners based on what they already listen to. The genome project used for podcasts will now take 1500 attributes from podcasts and users’ listening histories to build up a picture of tastes that they can use to present people with tailored podcast recommendations. The genome will look at everything from which episodes you decide to listen to from a particular creator, the ratings you and others give, episodes that listeners replay and much more.

According to Pandora their natural language processing is capable of identifying topics within a podcast episode and can then even recommend you podcasts based on your taste and what is talked about in a podcast. Whilst much of it will use the genome’s automated system there will also be some curation from Pandora’s in-house team.

All the world’s music on your wrist with Spotify now on Apple Watch

Spotify are officially on Apple Watches at last meaning you can take the tunes around with you everywhere and start streaming with the tap of a wrist.

It was only last week that we reported Spotify were testing an official streaming app for Apple Watches in beta. It got many people excited for the music streaming service to come to Apple Watches and thankfully the Swedish company didn’t make them wait long. It’s finally here, Spotify is now officially streaming music on Apple Watches.

Their new app lets users browse playlists and recently played music and stream it through their devices, Spotify Connect, Wi-Fi speakers, or their computer. Being on such a small screen the Spotify app for Apple Watch doesn’t have full access like the iPhone app but it’s playback screen lets you see what’s playing, control playback, skip through tracks and love a song to add it your library in a snap. You may not have as much control as on your phone but you can simply tap your wrist to pause playback on the way into a shop, quickly swipe a skip when a track you don’t like comes on, and more all without taking your phone out of your pocket.

The app has been in development with the help of Andrew Chang, a developer who brought Spotify to the Apple Watch before but unofficially. Chang created the unofficial Spotify streaming app Snowy for Apple Watch and Spotify were so impressed with his API they hired him to help develop the official app and it’s finally here. Without Chang we might not have seen an official, functioning Spotify app for much longer.

Spotify have more plans for the app coming in the future including the ability to save and music and podcasts for listening offline. The new app will roll out to Apple Watches over the next week so ensure you have the latest Spotify app for the simplest streaming experience coming out of your wrist.

YouTube Music presents the hottest UK acts in their 2019 spotlight

YouTube Music has launched it’s first ever ‘Ones to Watch’ artist spotlight for ten UK artists that they feel are breaking the mold and on the brink of making it big.

In order to find the 10 artists that YouTube Music felt have the most potential to break out next year they used their own platform. Looking at their own analytics, engagement from music fans and how many people are listening YouTube were able to see who is algorithmically the best tipped for an amazing year in 2019.

English singer-songwriter and R&B aficionado Mahalia tops the list and it’s accompanying playlist and joins other underground but rising names like Hip-Hop artist Kojey Radical. The UK ‘Ones to Watch’ line-up for 2019 also gets a spotlight in the YouTube Music app with bonus playlist and video content for the artists.

Speaking on her selection, Mahalia said: “What an honour. To be at the top of YouTube Music’s One to Watch list for 2019 is such a special moment for me. There are so many wonderful, talented artists on this list – many who I keep super close to my heart. As a late 90s baby, I grew up watching YouTube – constantly finding videos of artists who inspired me.

“I basically learnt how to play so much of what I know on the guitar from watching people on YouTube. The platform has helped me grow and build a real, personal fan base in the UK and around the world while never compromising my creativity. This recognition means so much to me, my close ones and my team. I can’t wait to share my debut album in 2019.”

Here is the full list of UK artists poised to be big players in 2019:

  • Mahalia
  • Octavian
  • Grace Carter
  • Kojey Radical
  • Sam Fender
  • Slowthai
  • L Devine
  • Dermot Kennedy
  • Samm Henshaw
  • Jade Bird

YouTube UK’s head of music partnerships, Azi Eftekhari said: “This is a year of UK artists doing their own thing. With the freedom musicians now have to express themselves not just sonically, but visually, it’s perhaps unsurprising that this list only features solo artists, many of whom are genuinely pushing artistic and visual boundaries.

“For example, Kojey, Octavian and Slowthai are arguably redefining UK rap as a genre, and acts like Mahalia, L Devine and Grace Carter – while they undeniably have huge commercial appeal – don’t conform to the conventional expectations of a pop act. One thing is certain – YouTube continues to be an unmatched launch pad for emerging artists, and 2019 is set to be a huge year for homegrown UK talent.”

Jam out with the whole family on iHeartRadio’s new family plan

The kings of interactive radio streaming are making it easier and cheaper for the whole family to get listening to music to their hearts content online.

Family plans are a great way to get the whole family streaming at a price that won’t cripple you the same as five single person subscriptions. iHeartRadio have just launched their own family plan for $14.99 a month, allowing up to 5 family members to stream unlimited music on their services on the same plan.

An All Access subscription for one person costs $9.99 a month so the family plan helps to make massive savings, even if there’s only two of you using it. The best part of family plans are that whilst you’re on the same plan as your family members, you all have your own listening profile so that you can listen to whatever you want, build your own library, and receive personal recommendations.

iHeartRadio offers up on-demand streaming from a library of millions as tracks as well as an expansive collection of radio stations, and a quickly growing number of podcasts. Listening to the radio on iHeartRadio makes discovering music a dream as you can instantly save songs straight into your library from the stream.

With iHeartRadio’s family plan you get full access to all of their content as well as your (up to) 4 other family members. Each member can download songs, albums, and playlists to their personal devices as well to take the streaming on the go without crunching the data.

iHeartRadio say: “iHeartRadio All Access Family Plan is sure to make music lovers of every generation, from Deadheads to Swifties, happy. Not to mention, it’s a killer deal, so what are you waiting for?”

You can subscribe to iHeartRadio’s All Access Family Plan now.

Keep it amongst friends with private track & playlist sharing on SoundCloud

Sometimes you want to share your tracks without making it public, whether you want your friends to hear it first or you’re collaborating with someone. SoundCloud’s latest update lets you share private music. 

SoundCloud are the only music streaming service to offer private track and playlist sharing, at least that’s their claim. Now that privilege has been extended to creators on their iOS app after making private music sharing available on Android earlier.

Private track sharing will be a great tool for collaborators meaning that you can share your tracks or even full playlists before they’re ready to go live on mobile, no matter where you are. Get feedback from your peers, artists you’re working with, your friends, even your mum and make sure you’re as happy as you should be with your music before it goes live for the world to hear. It’s also a great tool for sending your music to blogs or playlists for consideration without having to release it officially first.

Here’s how to share tracks and playlists on the SoundCloud iOS app:

  1. You can share a private track or playlist the same way you share a public link via the fullscreen player menu at the bottom of your screen. (You must be the owner of the track to share one, meaning you cannot share someone else’s private track).
  2. Once you think it’s ready for the world, you can make a track or playlist public on your mobile phone. You’ll know if you’re public when the locked icon is gone.
  3. Decide you want to go back into stealth mode? You can easily switch back to “locked” status, so your track / playlist is unavailable for discovery.

SoundCloud say: “Because creating your best work requires the best possible workflow, we’re committed to continuously improving your tools and our offerings. So you keep rocking and we’ll keep rolling out the updates – and make sure to check back here regularly so you don’t miss a thing.”

You can privately share tracks and playlists on SoundCloud using their Android and iOS apps now. Just make sure you have the latest version of the app, and get sharing!

Artists may have to pay for Spotify for Artists soon

Spotify’s artist platform offering fan insights, streaming analytics and customisation of their artist profile’s on the streaming service is going to be monetised – boo! hiss!

Spotify’s third quarter for 2018 showed the streaming service is still growing at record speeds and is even approaching potential profitability. As Spotify solidify their position in music they are looking more at how they can restructure themselves to truly become profitable and escape the startup trap. But their earnings call revealed something that might not make artists happy.

The earnings call held between Spotify executives and industry analysts allowed some insight into Spotify’s position and where they plan to move next. Their focus in recent years has been in converting their massive free userbase over to paid Premium which has been successful as the gap between subscribers and freemium listeners narrows ever closer.

It looks like Spotify might be taking the idea of separate free and paid tiers to their wildly successful Spotify for Artists platform, which gives artists insight into their streaming performance and power over their appearance on it. Nick Delfas from Redburn asked: “Do you have any plans to charge artists for data or for promoting work on the paid service in any way?”

Daniel Ek responded: “Our strategy in our marketplace side of the business is the same as we have on the rest of Spotify, which is it’s a freemium business, meaning there will be a certain amount of products which artists and labels can get for free, and there are others which we will charge money for. So, that’s an evolving strategy when it comes to our product portfolio. Data specifically is very unlikely to be one of those things that we’ll charge for.”

What exactly these products will be, Ek didn’t expand upon. We hope that Spotify will keep the bulk of the platform for free, particularly streaming analytics which are important for an artist to gauge their audience and performance. Artist customisation should be kept free to access as well, as how your profile looks is important to artists and not worthy of paying Spotify for as it enhances their service.

It may be that Spotify begin charging for pitches to their newly launched playlist submission feature. Responding to an earlier question, Ek said: “We’ve now seen on the new music submission more than 67,000 artists that have submitted their works through that product and over 10,000 new artists that have been added to editorial playlists for the very first time, connecting their music with thousands of new fans, so we’re very encouraged by the early results of this.”

Hopefully Spotify for Artists platform will remain largely the same but whatever happens, artists won’t be happy about being charged for access to tools on their platform.

Spotify now streams to speakers free on Spotify Connect

You don’t have to pay to stream all of your favourite tunes through WiFi speakers on Spotify Connect anymore as they open it up to beyond Premium users.

Spotify have opened up their Connect platform to everyone so that wireless speakers that work with Spotify Connect can be streamed through regardless of a Spotify subscription. Until now only Premium subscribers have been able to use Spotify Connect to stream from their 40+ million track catalogue through Connect enabled speakers. Now free listeners can stream to their hearts content just the same.

It was possible to listen to Spotify through wireless speakers before but only using a Bluetooth connection and not connecting directly using WiFi, which provides a much more reliable connection.  The ultimate Spotify experience is still undoubtedly on Premium but their free offering still makes up the majority of their users, although this divide is getting narrower and narrower as Spotify double down on converting users to paid subscriptions.

Free listeners can now stream through speakers to their hearts content but they will still be restricted to what they can listen to. Free users can play 15 auto-generated playlists freely but have to shuffle any artists or other playlists they want to listen to and are limited to a certain number of skips. Of course there will be ads played after every few tracks as well, which is how Spotify manage to generate revenue when people listen to music on their platform for free.

Spotify Premium also offers better audio streaming quality so if you’ve splashed your cash to get a quality speaker then it’s worth paying for a Premium subscription so that you can stream unlimited music at a quality your ears deserve. After all, it’s not just a better experience; Spotify Premium allows artists to be paid more and it’s only $9.99/£9.99 a month!

Almost 1m new subscribers made Pandora’s Q3 a success

Pandora have transformed from their free radio roots in recent years and their premium options are giving them a whole new lease of life with booming revenues.

Pandora have released their earnings report for Q3 and shows the music streaming company growing steadily whilst they continue their journey into premium streaming. Their ad-supported services showed a decent 6% growth from the same period last year with $291.9 million in ad-revenue but the real success story is in Pandora Plus and Premium.

It’s been over a year-and-a-half since they launched Premium, offering an on-demand streaming service like Spotify on their platform which had up until then run on a radio-like stream based on artists or tracks you chose. Pandora’s free streaming is still their most popular offering but Plus and Premium is where their growth is really taking off. Their two paid offerings made $125.8 million in Pandora’s Q3, which is a 49% increase on the same period in 2017.

Revenues for the quarter came in at a total of $417.6 million, a 16% increase year-on-year and higher than their estimate of $401.29 million. Like Spotify and many other streaming startups, Pandora are yet to make a profit and their non-GAAP net loss for the period was $15.5 million – $0.06 per share. It’s an improvement on 2017’s Q3 when the company made a net loss of $15.9 million, however slight.

Pandora premium plus paid music streaming radio free on demand
Pandora have offered Premium streaming options since last March

Pandora’s paid tiers saw great growth for the quarter with 784,000 new subscribers in the 3 month period. Their total number of subscribers now equals around 6.8 million across both Plus and Premium. Overall, including their incredibly popular free streaming platform, their total active users reached 68.8 million by the 30th September.

Pandora’s CEO, Roger Lynch said in a release: “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made over the past year to reinvigorate Pandora. A year ago, we committed to drive listener engagement through product innovation, expand our content, and increase distribution partnerships. We also prioritised making our ad tech capabilities a strategic advantage. And we executed. We launched new products like Premium Access, delivering on-demand functionality and improved listener engagement in our ad-supported tier; forged partnerships with leading brands such as T-Mobile, AT&T, Comcast, and Snap; and solidified our global leadership in digital audio advertising with the acquisition of AdsWizz and the launch of our programmatic audio marketplace.”

Pandora Sirius XM satellite digital online radio streaming music services paid premium free freemium ad supported
Sirius XM agreed to purchase Pandora in September

This earnings report marks the first financial release by the music streaming company since they agreed to be purchased by Sirius XM Holdings in September for $3.5 billion in an “all-stock transaction”. The satellite and digital radio company look to close the deal for sure in the first quarter of 2019 bringing exclusive content to Pandora, extra revenue streams to Sirius XM Holdings, and co-marketing opportunities for the both of them.

Lynch continued: “Looking ahead, I couldn’t be more excited about Pandora joining forces with Sirius XM. A combined Pandora-Sirius XM will create the world’s largest audio entertainment company, bringing Pandora additional resources to accelerate growth and building on Sirius XM’s leadership in the car, subscription expertise, and unique content.”

Spotify is coming to an Apple Watch near you

Apple Music and Spotify may be head to head rivals but Apple’s digital watch is currently testing Spotify for a music streaming experience you don’t have to reach for.

Despite their ongoing rivalry for the top spot in music streaming Spotify’s iOS app has begun beta testing on Apple Watch for certain testers. The app is currently limited just to playback but it suggests that Spotify is on the way for Apple Watch users and will open up more music streaming options for Apple Watch owners instead of having to sign up to Apple Music.

For the smoothest streaming experience your Apple Watch requires your iPhone to be nearby and connected but Apple have made it possible to sync albums, artists and playlists to your Apple Watch for playback without an iPhone. It’s not clear yet whether Spotify’s app will have offline support so that subscribers can listen to their Spotify libraries without a connected iPhone.

The Spotify app for Apple Watch seems to have been developed by Andrew Chang, a developer who created the unofficial app Snowy which brought offline playback for Spotify to the Apple Watch. Spotify were impressed and hired Chang to work with them on building Snowy into an official Spotify iOS app last year which is now coming to fruition it seems.

At the time Chang posted on Reddit: “Spotify’s powerful iOS SDK made it possible to develop Snowy, but I can’t wait to take things to the next level with the expertise and tools available at Spotify. While I can’t give any estimates as to when it’ll be available, you can rest assured that a Spotify Apple Watch companion app is in the pipeline.”

Spotify coming to Apple Watches would be a great addition to the dwindling wearable which has seen Instagram, Twitter, Google, and Amazon all disappearing their apps from the platform in the past year. It will also make it more appealing to Spotify subscribers who want to use the Watch for listening to music.

From Shazam to Instagram, share your new music finds

Instagram are getting into music big time and their latest partnership wants to get you sharing music as soon as you discover it, straight from Shazam.

Last week Instagram announced a partnership with SoundCloud that let you share with all of your followers what you’re listening to directly from the SoundCloud app. It’s part of a new bid by Instagram to bring music into their social media app and expand it beyond image and video. Their newest partnership doubles down on the SoundCloud integration, with instant shares straight from Shazam when you scan a new track.

Next time you’re hearing a track you think is wicked and don’t know what is, then you bust your phone out to Shazam it, share the love once you have the details. It’s a simple as selecting a new Instagram button on the song page that comes up and it will be shared to your Instagram Story if you have the Instagram app. When people view your story they’ll be able to click a button which takes them to the song page on Shazam, where they can find it on streaming services and stores.

This year Instagram and it’s parent Facebook began licensing music from major labels as well as lots of independent labels and rightsholders. With the new licensing music can now be shared in videos on Facebook and can accompany videos on Instagram legally. We partnered with Facebook and Instagram so that your music can be licensed for use on the world’s 2 biggest social media networks with over 1 billion users and get paid any time your music is used on either. We monetise your music and get it into their libraries for use by others on the platform entirely free of charge.

Unfortunately Instagram sharing hasn’t come to Android devices yet but a representative says that the Shazam app will be getting the Instagram Story button “soon”. The feature is available for iOS users with the latest version of both apps.