Hilton Hotels the latest major company sued for not licensing music

You’d think the people running one of the biggest hospitality companies in the world would understand simple licenses… It seems not.

Hilton Worldwide are facing a lawsuit after the unlicensed use of music in videos published to their YouTube and Facebook channels. BMG Production Music are behind the lawsuit saying that they warned Hilton they were using music they hadn’t licensed yet they continued to infringe.

BMG Production Music are in the business of creating music specifically for the use in media, for example: a hotel advert. Their New York lawsuit claims that the massive hospitality and hotel company Hilton used several of BMG’s productions without licensing. They were warned and yet continued to use unlicensed music.

The videos in question were posted to Hilton’s YouTube channel and Facebook page as promotions for the company. The videos featured background music from BMG’s almost 250,000 track library which they claim spans “all musical genre”. They report 20 infringing videos from Hilton.

BMG’s complaint reads: “Despite being notified that they were using BMG’s Copyrighted Music and/or Unregistered Music without authorization or license, and despite months of exchanges of correspondence with TuneSat, the Defendants ultimately began willfully and intentionally ignoring TuneSat’s correspondence and continued to use the Copyright Music and Unregistered Music without authorization or license from BMG.”

It’s the latest story to come out of what seems to be a recurring theme; big companies using music without the correct licenses. You’d think companies on the scale of Hilton would have enough money and business-sense to understand that licensing is a legal obligation. So does it come down to a lack of respect for music? Do these companies not see music as having a legitimate legal standing?

Like a few months ago when the biking company Peloton used music from major artists, allegedly without licensing the use of it. In both cases the companies were made aware of the infringement and continued. It seems strangely hard for companies to get around the fact that if you’re profiting from the use of music, the people behind the music either need a cut or to give permission.

BMG are looking for compensation in the way of actual damages ($600,000 estimated) or for $150,000 per infringed piece of content. How many company’s need to lose a major amount of money in a lawsuit before this “mistake” stops happening?

YouTube’s subscription notifications are now better for viewers and creators

The long anguish of YouTube notifications not showing when or what users want has been, in some part, fixed… hopefully.

If it hasn’t happened to you directly, you’ve no doubt heard about it happening to others. You click subscribe to a channel, you think “I love this channel! I can’t wait to be notified about their next new video by YouTube.”, then you wait and you wait and you wait. Either you hear about it after the fact, or your notifications never show it at all.

It comes down to a confusion between subscriptions and notifications by many users. Many expect that once they’ve subscribed to a channel they will be notified of all their content, when in fact it’s only some – if any – they will get a ping for.

YouTube are clearing this up with a new look and a new name for their default notification setting. When you subscribe the notification setting that automatically applies is now called ‘Personalized’ and shows a re-designed bell icon to differentiate it from the ‘All’ notification setting.

The ‘Personalized’ setting means that notifications work on a custom basis that YouTube determines depending on the user, their watch history, popular videos and how they use notifications. Simply selecting ‘All’ as the notification setting for a channel will ensure you’re kept up to date with all of their content as it comes out.

This re-design also adds a drop down menu for notification settings when users click the bell on mobile. The settings still work in the same way nor does it affect the subscriptions feed, which has always showed all videos from your subscriptions in chronological upload order.

YouTube say that they’ve been through a series of tests and user research regarding subscriptions and notifications to see what works best. They have tried setting the default as ‘All’ for notifications but found users overwhelmed and ultimately turning them off completely.

New subscriber notification metrics for creators

With the updates, creators are also getting two new metrics in their YouTube Analytics. With the new data creators will be able to understand the percentage of their subscribers that are getting notifications and can help them to strategise their approach.

The first metric will show creators the percentage of their subscribers who have turned on ‘All’ notifications so that they can see how many people are getting told of every new upload. The second metric does the same except also shows how many selected ‘All’ for your channel notifications, but also have their device settings enable to receive notifications from YouTube. This is because users may not get notifications from the app due to device settings, despite being set to receive them on YouTube itself.

You can let YouTube know your thoughts on the new notification settings on the Google Support Forum where 
they announced it.

YouTube will stop showing exact subscribers this year

The popularity of YouTube channels is going to get a bit more vague in a few months as subscriber counts get abbreviated.

YouTube have announced that they will start abbreviating how many subscribers channels have by August of this year. YouTube want to streamline how subscribers are shown for channels across all platforms, instead of sometimes showing abbreviated counts and sometimes the number in full.

Channels with less than 1000 subscribers will still show their exact number for the sake of precision at lower numbers. Depending on the number of subscribers YouTube will round down to the nearest hundred, thousand, or million.

For example:

  • If a channel has 4,227 subscribers, the public subscriber count will read “4.2k” until the channel reaches 4,300.

  • If a channel has 133,017 subscribers, the public subscriber count will read “133K” until the channel reaches 134,000. 

  • If a channel has 51,389,232, the public subscriber count will read “51M” until the channel reaches 52,000,000.

YouTube say: “We know that subscriber counts are extremely important for creators and fans alike, so we wanted to give everyone a heads up a few months in advance of this change! We’ll share more specifics with creators as we get closer to the August 2019 date.”

The change will only apply when looking at other people’s channels. Creators will still be able to view the exact number of subscribers to their channels in real-time so that they can track their fans.

Add songs to your WeChat videos

Sometimes a video needs a bit of pizzazz before it’s worthy sending to your friends, it needs a soundtrack and WeChat have you covered.

Chinese messaging app WeChat are adding a feature that allows users to add songs to videos when they share them with their friends. WeChat will add access to tracks from QQ Music, a popular Chinese streaming service owned by WeChat’s parent company Tencent.

The new features will let users add background music from QQ’s giant catalogue to any videos that they send on WeChat messenger. There are concerns over the copyright clearance for video usage despite the music being cleared for use on QQ Music.

Some are saying this new feature is a response to Douyin, China’s version of TikTok. Concerned parties say that WeChat are trying to offer an alternative to prevent losing people to an alternative platform.

India can’t get enough of YouTube with the biggest growth globally

India’s love for YouTube is creating unparalleled growth for the home of online video around the world.

India is a major up-and-comer for online services right now with the recent launches of services like Spotify and YouTube Music, as well as the massive growth of local platforms like JioSaavn. Now, with over 256 million active monthly users, India is leading the way for the giant video site YouTube.

With a population of 1.3 billion people in India, 256 million users isn’t just a massive number but also means that one-fifth of India is watching videos on YouTube. With the launch of YouTube Music they’ve only become more popular and earned triple the users of Spotify’s impressive first week in which they gained 1 million users.

YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki said: “India is now both of our biggest audience and one of our fastest growing audiences in the world. YouTube today has become the first stop for users to consume content, whether they’re looking for entertainment or information. It is this incredible variety of content combined with the growing reach that makes YouTube a perfect platform for brands to drive personalised engagement.”

According to Wojcicki India’s use of YouTube on mobile devices has increased by 85% in the past year. 60% of the views in the country are coming outside of the 6 largest metro areas in India showing that their love for India doesn’t just represent metropolitan growth but a nationwide trend.

YouTube’s Indian growth isn’t just in viewers as creators are thriving in the country. Five years ago only 2 creators in India had over 1 million subscribers, that number is now over 1,200.

LiveXLive & iHeartMedia join forces to stream the best in live music

A multi-year agreement will see iHeartMedia and LiveXLive combine their livestreaming and online radio businesses.

iHeartMedia are purveyors of one of the biggest collections of radio stations online through iHeartRadio. They have teamed up with livestreaming and live music company LiveXLive Media for a multi-year deal combining their content, production, distribution and promotion.

The partnership gives LiveXLive exclusive rights to stream 17 iHeartRadio events globally. Events include iHeartRadio’s ALTer Ego iHeartCountry Festival, iHeartRadio Wango Tango, Daytime Stage at the iHeartRadio Music Festival and iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina. The deal also includes licensing and streaming rights for certain iHeartRadio Theater shows.

LiveXLive CEO and chairman, Robert Ellin says: “From the start, our mission has been to deliver the best seat in the house to fans of all genres of music. This deal immediately allows us to expand and diversify our programming through iHeartMedia’s reach of a quarter of a billion people across radio, digital, social and more.”

A new co-created iHeartRadio channel will be made for LiveXLive as well as other new co-produced and co-promoted video content. The new partnership is part of LiveXLive’s rapid expansion of content having streamed over 24 music festivals, concerts and other live music events with over 40 hours of live content during their 2019 fiscal year.

President of Entertainment Enterprises for iHeartMedia, John Sykes said: “We are all about connecting great artists with their fans in every way we can. This partnership with LiveXLive will expand the reach of our one of a kind iHeartRadio events and theatre shows to new audiences.”

Ellin added: “Our partnership with iHeartMedia is a powerful win for fans, bands and brands.”

PewDiePie concedes the #1 spot on YouTube a T-Series diss track

After months of feuding PewDiePie has accepted he is no longer the most popular channel on YouTube but he’s going out with a bang.

PewDiePie has famously been the most subscribed to channel on YouTube for years. That position has come under threat in recent months with the stratospheric rise of Bollywood channel T-Series, something PewDiePie has responded to with various campaigns and feuds.

But at last the channel’s growth can’t be ignored and the Swedish video maker has had to concede his position, congratulating the channel with a music video. He doesn’t take it lightly though, listing through various offences of the channel and accusations of their supposedly shady business practices.

T-Series’ chairman Bhushan Kumar is currently being investigated for “alleged evasion of huge tax and siphoning off hundreds of crores to foreign countries to purchase properties in the names of his employees”. As PewDiePie mentions in his diss track the channel started with pirated Bollywood songs and has various questionable steps along their way to the media giant they are now.

Whilst Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (PewDiePie) is taking it in his stride with humour and doesn’t seem personally affected by the loss, the YouTube community sees it as a sign of something much more grave. Many see this as a turning point in YouTube’s priority for companies and corporate entities over independent creators. This has been seen more and more with recommended videos becoming saturated with chat show clips and popular music videos.

Whilst the culture on YouTube is part of a shifting dynamic, it was heartwarming seeing a community come together again in a campaign to keep PewDiePie at the top. Regardless of if it failed it shows that YouTube is yet to become a faceless media platform.

Artists relive their old videos in a new YouTube series

YouTube want to delve into the minds of artists in a unique way, looking at their journey to where they are today.

YouTube have partnered up with Genius, the lyrics site that looks behind the lyrics into their meanings and references, for a new series. The series, created for YouTube’s new music streaming service, provides ‘intimate interviews’ with artists and takes a look back at their career through old videos.

The video series will expand on YouTube’s Artist on the Rise series, putting new and rising artists in the Spotlight. It’s designed to highlight how artists have evolved and grown, specifically looking at how their presence on YouTube has connected with fans over the years.

The first episode features Maggie Rogers, an up-and-coming artist who has seen significant success since a video showing renowned producer Pharrell listening and applauding her music at her university became popular. Her Artist on the Rise video shows Maggie looking back at her journey whilst discussing her influences and reacting to fans covering and remixing her music.

Maggie Rogers said of the series: “I’m a giant fan of every artists selected to be in YouTube’s Artist on the Rise program, so to be joining that group of artists is such an honour. What’s so empowering about YouTube is that it’s a creative space and it offers such wide agency to artists to have creative freedom and use their voice to express themselves in whatever way feels true to them.”

YouTube’s global head of music, Lyor Cohen said: “Every artist has stories that reveal more about who they are and how they’ve found inspiration and influences from their community of fans. There’s no better platform than YouTube for artists to reach and connect directly with fans and through our new Artist on the Rise Content Series, we’re providing a way for emerging artists to share their unique journey with the fans that have been right there with them along the way.”

Maggie Rogers added: “With YouTube, this has felt like on of the most open and collaborative partners I could possibly work with so it’s a really exciting fit and opportunity for me.”

Watch Hulu and listen to Spotify in one cheap package

Watch your favourite shows and stream unlimited music ad-free all for one sweet price with Spotify Premium which now comes with Hulu included.

As of today Spotify Premium subscriptions now include Hulu at no extra cost. This means that customers in the US can stream Hulu’s giant library of TV shows and films as well as stream from Spotify’s catalogue of over 30 million songs for $9.99 a month.

If you’re already a Spotify Premium user, it only takes a few seconds to add Hulu’s ad-supported plan to your account—just visit the Your Services page. If you’re new to Spotify Premium, sign up for the bundle now at Spotify.com; you’ll get your first thirty days of both Spotify Premium and Hulu on us, then pay $9.99 per month. (Subscribers who are currently paying $12.99 per month as part of last year’s bundle offer will be automatically reduced to the regular Spotify Premium $9.99 price.)

Start exploring and enjoying the best music, movies and TV shows—all as part of your Spotify Premium membership. Limited quantity of offers: Open until June 10, 2019 or while supplies last. Terms apply.

TikTok just passed 1bn downloads as it’s fined for illegally collecting children’s data

China’s karaoke app has taken the kids’ side of the internet by storm but it’s embroiled in a privacy controversy as it reaches a new milestone.

TikTok is a popular app from Chinese developers ByteDance that has spread amongst young audiences around the world. It lets it’s users create short videos, often lip-syncing or dancing to music, and share them with the world.

This week it was revealed that they have passed a monumental 1 billion downloads worldwide by US app tracking company Sensor Tower. It’s popularity hasn’t come without it’s criticisms however, particularly surrounding it’s audience of mostly children. Concerns have been raised over children sharing videos with them on a global, public platform but they are now wrapped up in an actual legal battle.

The app, formerly known as musical.ly before being incorporated into TikTok last year, agreed to a record $5.7 million fine. They were accused of illegally collecting personal information from children under 13 by the US Federal Trade Commission. The app’s creators admitted to the infringement in a statement and announced changes to their app to resolve the issue.

They said: “In working with the FTC and in conjunction with today’s agreement, we’ve now implemented changes to accommodate younger US users in a limited, separate app experience that introduces additional safety and privacy protections designed specifically for this audience.

“From viral videos to tender moments, TikTok allows users from all walks of life to be their authentic selves while delighting in spontaneous humor and global trends. In the younger ecosystem, users cannot do things like share their videos on TikTok, comment on others’ videos, message with users, or maintain a profile or followers. However, they will be able to experience what TikTok is at its core – showcasing creativity – as they enjoy curated content and experiment with TikTok’s unique, fanciful, and expressive features.”