Spotify coming to 1.3 billion people launching in India soon

Spotify are preparing to launch in India bringing the world’s biggest streaming service to the world’s biggest country at a prime time. 

It’s not long until Spotify make their long-awaited launch in India. Last month during their annual presentation, Daniel Ek said: “We are working on launching in some of the biggest markets in the world, places like India, Russia, and Africa which has a very rich musical culture.”

The music streaming leaders will be entering their biggest territory yet but it’s also home to many of their Western rivals and India has a strong presence of it’s own established music streamers. India’s own Saavn is the country’s top streamer and has established partnerships with Amazon as well as recently partnering with another big Indian streamer, JioMusic, which gives them a massive precedent over other streamers in the country.

Spotify’s influence and well built service could convert people over from Saavn and Western streamers like Google Play Music and Amazon which have launched there already. Whilst Spotify may be late to the party in India their country is still rife with piracy and have very few people on streaming services, though that is slowly changing as they catch up to legally provided digital music.

Spotify could find a big audience via their smartphone apps offering unlimited music streaming on the go. India have embraced Smartphones massively and are now the second-largest smartphone market in the world. Thanks to this there is a massive audience for on-the-go services, and Spotify could take advantage of that to get people listening on their phones.

Spotify already have a significant lead on rival streaming services with 70 million subscribers and then even more listening on Freemium. There is a massive potential audience for them in India however setting themselves apart from the crowd will be hard, especially with the number of established music services in India already. As the country wakes up more to the streaming revolution and moves away from piracy Spotify should be able to make a mark.

Over 100 million people now have Amazon Prime Music

Amazon have revealed how many Prime members they have for the first time ever and it is a lot of people.

Jeff Bezos released his annual shareholders letter yesterday and in it he divulged how many people are subscribed to Amazon Prime for the first time in the 13 years they’ve offered it. The number of members currently paying for an Amazon Prime subscription is over 100 million, meaning that over 100 million people around the world are also subscribed to Amazon Prime Music – Amazon’s stripped back music streaming service packaged with Prime.

Amazon have never revealed numbers for Prime membership before though analysts have tried to gauge how many people could be subscribed to the popular package which offers next-day delivery, exclusive products, Prime Music, Prime Video their TV and film streaming service and more. Now analysts can stop scratching their heads, or at least less so as we still don’t know exactly how many Prime Members there are and it could be a while again until Bezos talks on it.

Bezos says that 2017 was Prime’s best year yet with more new members joining than ever before. He writes: “Prime Day 2017 was our biggest global shopping event ever (until surpassed by Cuber Monday), with more new Prime members joining Prime than any other day in our history.”

He also briefly mentions music but emphasises their standalone streaming service launched 2 years ago, Amazon Music Unlimited and it’s planned expansion. Bezos writes: “Amazon Music continues to grow fast and now has tens of millions of paid customers. Amazon Music Unlimited, our on-demand, ad-free offering, expanded to more than 30 new countries in 2017, and membership has more than doubled over the past six months.”

Although Amazon haven’t signified changing the status of Amazon Prime Music, they are clearly prioritising Amazon Music Unlimited. Whilst Amazon Prime Music has a lot of subscribers technically it’s never been clear just how many people actually use Prime Music and the service is far more restricted compared to the Spotify-like Music Unlimited.

Spotify mobile gets a makeover and on-demand listening for free users

Some changes could be coming to free listeners on Spotify with a new look expected and on-demand music streaming on mobiles.

According to recent reports Spotify are giving free users a little bit extra soon. Listeners on the mobile app will know that playing albums and playlists is restricted to a shuffle mode so you can’t pick whatever you like – but that could be changing.

It seems that Spotify have made a number of playlists available to play on mobile devices completely on demand. This means that listeners can select any song from the playlist that they want to listen to and then listen to the rest of the playlist in any order they like. Now playlists that can only be played in shuffle mode are marked with a blue shuffle logo.

The rest of the app has gotten a redesign with a cleaner interface and more emphasis on visuals like artwork. The ‘Browse’ section has been removed from the nav-bar and integrated into the Search section which shows colourful boxes of moods for jumping straight into a playlist with sneak peeks of the tracks inside for an instant look at what you’re jumping into.

The Radio button has also seemingly been disappeared though Verge reports that they can’t find the function anywhere else in the app, so it may have been removed fully rather than relocated. New to the nav-bar is a Premium button so that free users are always just one click away from upgrading to ad-free, unlimited streaming.

These changes are expected to take effect next week with flyers for Spotify’s April 24th event promising changes to the Spotify mobile app. Spotify have yet to confirm the modifications that are going to be made to the Spotify free tier on mobile devices. Regardless if all of these leaks are true it seems that voice searching, which Spotify are reportedly testing to use in their search on their mobile apps and potentially their own smart speaker, will not be included in the big Spotify app overhaul.

Never miss a track with Deezer’s new SongCatcher

When you’re vibing to a track and need to add it to your library but you don’t know what it is, Deezer have you covered.

In case you missed it, and at the end of last year Deezer launched SongCatcher, a Shazam-type tool so that you can always know what you’re listening to. Let Deezer listen to the tunes and it will let you know what it is and then you can add it straight into your library, favourite it, and add it to any of your playlists.

Deezer SongCatcher is available only on the Deezer app for Android. All you have to do to use it is open up your search tab and then let it listen to find out what’s playing so you can come back and listen to it as much as you like.

If you ever find yourself asking what that song is then just flip your Deezer app up on your Android and add it straight to your library.

Hi-res streamers Qobuz set their sights for the US as they name new CEO

European based music streamers Qobuz are setting sail for the Americas as they expand under new management.

High resolution music streaming service Qobuz are set to launch their services in the US this summer, expanding them beyond Europe. They will make their voyage across the North Atlantic ocean will be lead by newly named CEO Yann Miossec, who most recently served as EVP of Warner Music France for 12 years.

Qobuz president Denis Thebaud said: “Yann is a digital music visionary and a well-regarded industry statesman. Qobuz is entering a very exciting phase. With his keen business sense and music-industry experience, Yann Miossec is the best individual to successfully lead us through these crucial endeavours.”

Thebaud also talks on the future of Qobuz, including a possible IPO, saying: “In addition to our planned U.S. launch, the recent listing of Spotify on the New York Stock Exchange shows that the market is becoming more mature. The market is becoming segmented which widens the opportunity for specialised players with a strong music presence and personality – like Qobuz. After our third round of fundraising ends in June, we too will likely begin considering our own IPO.”

Miossec himself said of his new position: “Working with this brand, promoting its projects, is my dream challenge. I look forward to joining these talented, creative individuals in further developing Qobuz’s presence around the world.”

Listen to iHeartRadio’s playlists free now with new stations

iHeartRadio are blurring the lines between their free streaming radio service and their paid, premium playlist playing option.

iHeartRadio’s Premium playlists are getting their own radio stations so that free users can get a taste of the Premium life. iHeartRadio is known for offering free streaming of thousands of radio stations live on AM and FM broadcast as well as a Pandora-like feature that lets you create your own custom stations.

Their Premium offering allows listeners to pay to listen to proper, curated playlists which users can edit, re-queue, and even play songs in it on demand. With Playlist Radio the two offerings are combined with the stations playing a curated selection of music selected by radio DJs and iHeartRadio staff.

iHeartRadio’s chief product officer, Chris Williams said: “One of the things we’re most excited about and the area where I feel like we really excel is in music curation. We have some of the greatest music curators on the planet within iHeartRadio. We have the best radio programmers, music directors, and program directors who are out there curating every single day for their radio stations. So we tapped into the resources that we had there, as well as finding some external expertise.

“I think it’s exposing a great listening experience to our existing free users, and offering them up a listening opportunity that doesn’t exist on the free tier right now. I think what radio does a brilliant job at is programming formatically. And I think what Playlist Radio does a great job of offering listening occasions that are thematic,” Williams continued.

Control over the playlist will be limited as it is usually for free users with the ability to skip up to 6 songs in the playlist every hour, but no more. Nor will free users be able to freely play and re-arrange tracks in the playlist. But they will still gain access to 1,000 new playlists (technically stations) including artist-created, genre-based, activity-focused, music era-focused, and theme-based playlists. Some playlists won’t be included as they have too few songs to be played as a radio.

Most of the playlists will also be refreshed each week where it makes sense for them to be updated. Free users can start streaming playlist stations on iHeartRadio now, whereas those paying for iHeartRadio Plus or All Access, their unlimited music streaming tier, can listen to them as usual.

The world’s first music streaming service just for kids is here

Fruit Punch Music are a streaming service with a difference, they’re streaming music just for kids and are the first to do it.

Kids are online almost as much as the rest of us, sometimes more. As the land of the internet gets new audiences online brands are starting to take notice – like YouTube who have launched an entirely kid-friendly version of their video site, and apps to boot.

Fruit Punch Music joins the world of music streaming currently dominated by Spotify, Apple Music, and the like. But Fruit Punch has a niche that separates them from the others and they hope will lead them to success – their audience is children who want to listen to music. It’s the first of it’s kind, a music streamer just for children, and promises a stress-free wholesome music experience for kids and parents.

The service offers a giant library of ad-free music for kids to listen from, all of which has been certified as child-friendly. Artists on the platform range from Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, Beyonce and The Temptations to many more. They will also offer up curated stations of music ranging from Pop to Country, to “Alternative Pop” to Disney and so on.

Parents get to have a say in what their kids are listening too as well. They can set time limits for their children to listen to music in and block any stations that they aren’t happy with on their kids’ account.

The company say: “We are thrilled to introduce Fruit Punch Music, a first-of-its-kind music streaming platform, to kids and their families. We are committed to playing a key role in allowing kids around the world to experience the enjoyment, creative and educational opportunities of music.”

Here’s what you get all in all with Fruit Punch Music:

  • Unlimited ad-free music streaming to dozens of stations
  • Access to tens of thousands of songs passing a multipoint approval process
  • Parental controls allowing limits based on music genre and listening time
  • An ever-expanding catalog of music with new tracks added daily
  • Numerous stations across genres and decades including Top 40, Teen Hollywood Hits, Musicals & Soundtracks, Kindie & Children’s TV Hit Songs, to the best from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s
  • Unwavering safety and security that does not include any social network or advertising integration

Families can get a 7-day free trial with unlimited access to everything to try it out. After that a subscription costs either $3.99 a month or $24.99 per year, much cheaper than traditional streaming services. Find out more or sign up here: fruitpunchapp.com

The first album Spotify and YouTube won’t let you listen to free is released

Pioneers of listening to music for free online, YouTube and Spotify have just released an album for streaming that is only available to paid subscribers.

Around the beginning of the year Spotify had to renegotiate their deals with the major labels which entailed Spotify conceding to windowed releases. What this means is that certain new releases will be available on Premium only for a limited time before being available on free and Premium tiers. Labels hope this will bring some value back to music, particularly newly released albums.

The first windowed release is now being experimented with, via country music star Jason Aldean’s new album. Aldean as an artist has been particularly sceptical of music streaming services and their ability to make musicians money. As such his new album ‘Rearview Town’ is now the first album on Spotify to release exclusively for Premium subscribers, and will be relegated to free listeners sometime soon.

YouTube have also restricted access to the album on their video site unless you’re subscribed to YouTube Red. It will be interesting to see how well YouTube are capable of removing third-party uploads of the album, if they’re not even allowing the official release to be streamed for free. A lot of third-party uploads are allowed as YouTube can pick up the music and monetise it on behalf of the artist so the uploader doesn’t make the money and the publishers/songwriters do.

Other paid music streaming services have released the album as usual with no free tier to confuse the situation. Pandora and Amazon Music meanwhile, who both have free options for listening to music have windowed Aldean’s album however this isn’t a first for them – having done promotions with albums and artists before.

SoundCloud’s new mini-player makes listening and discovering music a cakewalk

When you’re jamming out to tunes on the SoundCloud app you don’t have to commit with the new mini-player and can easily browse and play from their giant library.

SoundCloud have a new mini player in their app making listening to music on your phone much smoother. With the mini player you can seamlessly listen to music as you browse and discover new tracks and like and repost the things you really like.

Playing music on the SoundCloud app on your mobile is enhanced with a “fun-size package” player leaving your exploration of the world’s biggest community created music site uninhibited. SoundCloud have designed their new player to optimise the best experience possible for discovering, sharing, and streaming music all at the same time.

Starting today, free and subscription-based users can explore SoundCloud’s massive catalog of over 177 million tracks without ever interrupting their listening experience. A visible bar positioned at the bottom of your screen, the mini player includes navigation controls, track metadata, and a dedicated “like” button, offering:

  • A seamless play-in-place experience – The mini player makes toggling between the full-screen player and the home screen a thing of the past, allowing you to play more and skip less.
  • More ways to discover – More seamlessly integrated browsing and listening means you can discover your next favorite artist while streaming your current favorite track.
  • A faster way to build an audio collection – The player’s one-tap “like” button gives you the ability to “like” tracks and playlists faster than ever, helping you build your music collection in no time.
  • More ways to engage – The more you discover and “like” tracks and playlists, the more you connect with SoundCloud’s vibrant community of creators, curators, and fans.

Spotify move into music licensing acquiring new company, Loudr

Spotify are expanding and they’re latest venture looks to take them into the world of music licensing, probably a good idea for the streamers.

Spotify have just announced the acquisition of Loudr, a music licensing company whose technology has been based around identifying, crediting and paying artists and music publishers. Considering Spotify’s sometimes shaky encounters with music licensing it makes sense that they would start making moves to cover themselves and protect artists/publishers internally.

Loudr launched in 2013 and built a service that was capable of identifying and tracking royalties to be used in digital music services and aggregators to ensure the correct party received their due royalties. Loudr’s team of publishing specialists and technologists will join Spotify in their New York offices from their own headquarters in San Francisco.

With the purchase Loudr’s efforts will be shifted more towards Spotify’s efforts for creating a “transparent and efficient” system for songwriters and rights-holders getting paid on digital services. They will continue to work with their publishing and aggregator partners to provide “select services”.

Spotify’s global head of publishing, Adam Parness said: “What Loudr has built is more than just a smart and easy way for artists to obtain mechanical licenses; it’s true music industry innovation. The Loudr team perfectly complements Spotify’s music publishing operation and, together, we believe we can continue to foster a more open, streamlined, and modern music publishing landscape.”