Rhapsody Launch App For Virtual Reality Concerts

Music streaming service Rhapsody have launched a virtual reality app that lets you watch live concerts in 360-degrees.

Rhapsody have become trailblazers with the launch of the first solely music based VR app. On launch VR concerts will include performances by classic rapper Talib Kweli and modern rap group Flatbush Zombies. There are also performances from lesser known artists.

The app won’t require a Rhapsody subscription to use meaning that anyone can download the app and experience live acts in virtual reality for free. Rhapsody say that they will be updating the app with new content every month.

Rhapsody worked with Visual, a virtual reality company based in Minneapolis, to create their VR experiences. Visual founder Chuck Olsen said: “360° video is emerging as an exciting way to experience music and entertainment, and it’s been awesome to work with the future-thinking musicheads at Rhapsody.”

VR is becoming increasingly common as YouTube has supported 360° videos since last March and have now announced their upcoming dedicated VR app – Daydream, launching at the end of this year.

The VR concert experience works best with Google Cardboard but will work without it. You can download Rhapsody VR today from the Apple App Store and the Google Play store.

YouTube’s Full Virtual Reality App Revealed – Coming Fall 2016

YouTube and parent company Google have announced a new dedicated virtual reality app that will let you use some of your favourite apps in VR.

Since introducing support for 360-degree videos on YouTube last March Google have been enhancing the feature with 360 live streaming, 3D audio, and various other improvements. Now the past year of experimenting with VR videos has culminated into ‘Daydream’, an upcoming app from Google that provides a dedicated VR experience.

Announced at Google I/O yesterday Daydream is set to launch towards the end of this year. The app won’t just be a home to the “world’s largest collection of VR videos” (YouTube’s claim) but will allow you to use certain apps in virtual reality. Watch the Baseball in 1st person with the MLB app, travel the world in Google Street View, and plenty more.

In a blog post YouTube virtual reality’s senior product manager, Kurt Wilms said: “We’ve been working with some amazing creators to experiment with new formats that offer a wide range of virtual experiences. We’re already collaborating with the NBA, BuzzFeed and Tastemade to explore new ways of storytelling in virtual environments that will provide valuable lessons about the way creators and viewers interact with VR video.”

virtual reality Google YouTube

Daydream will retain a lot of the main YouTube app’s features like voice search, discovery options and playlists. YouTube say the app will feature “everything from classic 16×9 videos to 260-degree footage to cutting-edge VR experiences in full 3D”. YouTube’s VR experience spreads to Coachella performances, artist interviews, and even videos that aren’t 360-degrees can be experienced with Google Cardboard. Whether support will be added for Google’s VR experiences outside of YouTube isn’t currently clear, like their ‘Inside Abbey Road Studios‘ app.

YouTube are also working with camera developers to enhance upon VR and 360 camera tech like the GoPro Odyssey. They’re also launching a ‘Jump program’ at their YouTube Spaces around the world to allow more creators to use VR tech, starting in New York and Los Angeles with all the other YouTube Space’s to get it soon.

There’s no specific launch date for Daydream beyond “Fall 2016”. Kurt Wilms closed the blog post saying: “We’re just beginning to understand what a truly immersive VR experience can bring to fans of YouTube, but we’re looking forward to making that future a (virtual) reality.”

Vevo Launching ‘Long Form Programming’ With Upcoming Subscription Service

Vevo’s future subscription service has been kept under wraps since it was announced in February but a new job advert might reveal some of what to expect.

A job advert for a Head of Creative Commissioning and Acquisitions was recently posted by Vevo. The advert requests someone to lead “diversifying Vevo’s content offer beyond the official music video into long form programming”. As this comes just months after Vevo announced they would soon be releasing their first ever paid service this suggests new content moving beyond music videos, the company’s primary focus.

The ad requests the ideal candidate as having “an in-depth knowledge of music video, docu-series and film” suggesting a diversity of new content. Music documentary series are a popular choice for music services exploring video content as Spotify recently announced they’re developing 12 original shows, with a docu-series announced as one of the first.

Under the job’s responsibilities is to “build content pipeline around specific genres and verticals, including non-traditional sources such as ‘Internet’ based talent”. Now ‘Internet based talent’ could mean anything from a YouTube vlogger to an underground artist releasing mixtapes but it suggests a move towards independent creators, and we can assume being Vevo that it will involve music somehow.

Vevo revealed they were launching a paid service shortly after purchasing subscription based video service Showyou. Details have been scarce beyond chief executive Erik Huggers claim it would be “something in the same vein as Amy“. Unfortunately the job advert doesn’t reveal anything massive, the rest of the ad is even more vague but you can check it out for yourself. You can be sure to find any more news on Vevo’s upcoming service here on the RouteNote Blog.

What do you think Vevo has planned to launch on a new subscription service? Let us know in the comments below.

Amazon’s New ‘Video Direct’ Rivals YouTube As A User-Generated Video Platform

Amazon have launched a new ad-supported video service for creators to reach Amazon users, increasing competition between YouTube and parent company Google.

Amazon Video Direct is the new platform from tech giants Amazon and allows video uploads from anyone, who can then earn money from ads and Prime subscribers. As of yesterday users with an Amazon account can upload original or licensed videos of their own to the Video Direct. Once you’ve uploaded your video you can choose whether to make it available for free, through paywalls like Prime or other subscriptions, or make it available to rent and buy.

President of Samuel Goldwyn Films, Peter Goldwyn said: “We have the control to create unique distribution strategies that reflect the changing ways in which our audiences discover our films.” Whilst Andrea Carpenter from Mattel, Inc. said: “The upload and publishing process is easy and fast, and we can directly monitor our performance through our online dashboard.”

Amazon Video Prime YouTube

The optional royalty route is an interesting one and opens up more freedom for creators to dictate how their videos are presented to users. When uploaded to Video Direct videos will be made available in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, and Japan where Amazon Video is available. Videos will be streamable on any compatible device – Fire TV, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, Smart TVs and of course on computers.

Amazon are making their service transparent for creators so that uploaders can see minutes streamed, subscriber numbers, revenue projections, and a history of payments giving creators a chance to optimise their videos to suit their audience and work out the method of revenue generating that works best for them.

Amazon are also offering a giant prize draw every month as an incentive for uploaders. Every month Amazon will share out $1,000,000 between the Top 100 titles included with Prime through Amazon Video Direct. The bonus is based on customer engagement around the world will be open to any video titles included within Prime and comes as an addition to revenues earned traditionally.

Find out more from Amazon’s Video Direct page here.

Spotify Producing 12 New Original Shows In Phase 1 Of Video Production Plans

Spotify have 12 new shows on the way covering pinnacle moments in music, the clashing of producers and a mockumentary starring Tim Robbins.

Earlier this year in January Spotify launched a new section on their iOS and Android apps called ‘Shows’. Spotify Shows hosts a load of networks including Comedy Central, MTV, Adult Swim, BBC, Vice, Ted Talks, NBC and more. Each network features a bunch of shows which range from full series like Robot Chicken, to snippets from TV programmes and feature length documentaries.

Now Spotify are working on 12 new and original shows that focus on music and pop culture. These new shows will range from a few minutes long to 15 minutes and feature help from actor Tim Robbins and the co-founder of Def Jam Records Russell Simmons.

Russell Simmons (right) helped build Def Jam Records after it was founded by legendary producer Rick Rubin (left)
Russell Simmons (right) helped build Def Jam Records after it was founded by legendary producer Rick Rubin (left)

A couple of the shows have been revealed: ‘Landmark’ is a docu-series that covers various significant or “landmark” moments in music history. So far there are two episodes shot about Metallica, and one about Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album.

The other show announced is “Rush Hour”, produced by Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital company. Rush Hour brings together two Hip-Hop acts who have to come together and create performance in limited time to audiences. Bloomberg reported that in the pilot of the show cameras were mainly on the audience, suggesting a focus on response rather than performance.

Meanwhile Academy Award winning actor Tim Robbins will take part in a series which follows his attempts to become the next big thing in dance music… Unfortunately it’s a mockumentary, or fortunately.

The shows are being led by Spotify’s new content partnerships chief. Tom Calderone, who joined in March, said: “Music will always be the most important, but our audience likes us and wants more from us. We have to figure out a second act, and I think it will come out of video. The idea is to make sure users know they can come here for something other than playlists.”

Tom Calderone's years of experience in translating music to video will be instrumental in Spotify's Shows platform
Tom Calderone’s years of experience in translating music to video will be instrumental in Spotify’s Shows platform

Before joining Spotify Calderone worked for 17 years at Viacom Inc. where he made TV stars out of pop singers Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. He also played a part in turning rappers Flavor Flav and Snoop Dogg into reality television stars. Now he’s trying to bring that experience of melding music and video to Spotify by leading their new original shows.

Apparently Calderone’s plans for Spotify Shows includes two stages. The coming together of music and programmes is part of phase 1. Calderone is also talking to artists in how they can use video with new album releases to complement their new shows. Then in phase 2 they will take the music element away to cement shows as it’s own entity with a series of comedy and animated shows. Calderone plans to visit Los Angeles and London in the next month to discuss partners for shows.

Calderone already has the help of ex-boss Van Toffler, who left his management of MTV, VH1, and CMT to form his own production company: Gunpowder & Sky. The company will produce an animated series called “Drawn & Recorded” focusing on notable artists and places in history.  The show will be narrated by Grammy winner T-Bone Burnett.

Ex-media magnate Van Toffler will produce an animated series for Spotify with his new production company
Ex-media magnate Van Toffler will produce an animated series for Spotify with his new production company

Toffler appears to be highly enthusiastic of Spotify’s direction in video production, saying that streamers like Spotify “need to be more than a library of music. What we did at MTV was create genre shows, unique performance shows and narratives behind the music – literally ‘Behind the Music’. This is a blueprint.”

At the moment there’s no release date for Spotify’s upcoming shows but be sure to find out about it here on the RouteNote blog when any news is revealed.

Live TV Streaming Service In Development By Hulu

Hulu’s CEO has confirmed rumours that they are developing a live television streaming service that arrives next year.

Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins revealed today that a report from The Wall St. Journal suggesting they were developing a tv streaming service were true. Hopkins announced it at the Hulu Upfronts in New York this morning but was scarce on details beyond it’s arrival in 2017.

The service will apparently feature a range of video from broadcast TV and cable. Hopkins said: “This means our viewers will be able to enjoy live sports, news and events all in real-time without a traditional cable or satellite subscription. We’re going to fuse the best of linear television and on-demand in a deeply personalised experience optimised for the contemporary, always-connected television fan.”

This would be a massive move, making broadcast available instantly online. According to the report by Wall St. Journal channels that have gotten involved include ABC, ESPN, Disney, Fox, Fox News, FX, and Fox sports. A report by Variety suggests that NBCUniversal are currently in talks with Hulu, a deal with whom could provide a bunch more big channels.

Although there’s been no official detail on pricing, or on much at all, reports suggest a subscription to the service would cost around $40 a month. More details will be announced later this year according to Hopkins with “a lot of opportunities” for advertisers in the future.

Vevo’s Update Looks Great and Personalises Your Music Video Experience

Vevo have overhauled their web design to look more like their mobile app, with a sleeker design and personalised recommendations.

From today when you head to Vevo’s web page you’ll be greeted by a page familiar to those who use the mobile app. Their update refreshes their user interface with a design that looks better and makes exploring music videos easier than ever.

Vevo’s update doesn’t just splash a coat of paint over their design as they’re bringing curation to their website. On their mobile app when you get started Vevo will ask you to select your music tastes, allowing them to create recommendations and a personalised feed of music videos. Now you can do all this on your computer too!

vevo music videos

But what if your tastes change after you first log in to Vevo? They’ve got you covered there too – as you watch and listen Vevo will use your history to update and improve it’s personalisation.

Also new is a larger video player, always nice, and a home page that shows it’s Spotlight feature, a feed where you can find the videos and playlists that Vevo recommends to you. You can also find new releases, top videos, genres, recently watched and featured playlists on the home page from today.

Last but not least, at least to some of you, Vevo have stopped Flash support. Vevo now use HTML5 to stream everything on their website.

YouTube Debut Shorter, 6 Second Bumper Ads

YouTube are introducing new Bumper ads that are only 6 seconds long to make watchable, unobtrusive ads.

Ads on YouTube are a contested issue – they need to be there to provide income to creators but they can be obnoxious. I’m sure a lot of you have had to sit through a 30 second ad to watch a video of not much longer. The problem with making ads skippable 5 seconds in is, who is going to carry on watching an advert given the chance to just not?

That’s why YouTube are introducing Bumper ads. These 6 second clips are only a second longer than you’d normally be required to sit through but provide a complete advert, so you’re seeing everything the advertiser wants you to see. It’s a win-win.

Revealed by Zach Lupei in a blog post, Google’s Product Manager, the ads will start appearing in May and work best with TrueView. Lupei said in the post: “Bumper ads are ideal for driving incremental reach and frequency, especially on mobile, where “snackable videos” perform well.”

Bumper ads
TrueView is Google’s primary format for YouTube ads

Google have tested Bumper ads with a few different brands, one of which was Atlantic Records who utilised the new format for the launch of Rudimental’s second album. Senior Marketing Manager of Atlantic Records/Warner Music Group , Fiona Byers said: “TrueView and Bumpers were a really important part of the recent Rudimental campaign to tell the story of the band’s second album. Through cost-efficient bumpers we could really showcase the plethora of legendary guests features on the record. They each gave a short sharp insight into a featured artist and individual track on the album with TrueView providing the fuller story around the album and the band. When used in conjunction, TrueView plus Bumpers really work more effectively than either format on its own.”

It will be interesting to see the reaction to Bumper ads but it seems like it’s a big plus for advertisers whilst not affecting viewers, if anything it’s a bonus to them (us) as well. Lupei closed of the post saying:

We like to think of Bumper ads as little haikus of video ads – and we’re excited to see what the creative community will do with them. You can use Bumpers beginning in May by talking to your Google sales representative, and stay tuned as we continue to roll out new ad formats that are uniquely adapted to the way people watch video now, and in the future.

Make Great Music Videos Easily With Rotor

Rotor recently launched their website that lets you create stylish music videos based on what suits your music.

Music videos can be a massive part of your music career, they provide a new visual element to your tracks and give people who don’t know you a reason to check you out. Rotor have just launched and provide an incredibly easy platform to make music videos that look professional and unique in just 4 steps.

With Rotor you upload your song to their website and they then analyse your track’s tempo and loudness. Once analysed you will be presented with a bunch of video styles so you can choose the one that best suits your music. Then you use video clips to personalise your video, chosen from a library of Rotor’s own or any videos of your own.

It works best when used with at least some of your own footage though it can create a massive range of collage style videos without. If you add clips that match the song length Rotor will auto-sync so you can use footage from live performance, record yourself singing/playing or just align some cool clips.

Once all that is done Rotor gets down and dirty with your music, videos, and preferences to cut together a video for your track. After that you can view the video and  decide if there are any changes you want to make. Then for a cost, starting at £5 the video is yours to download and use freely as you wish.

Gary Curran of The Japanese Popstars used Rotor and said of his experience: “Rotor instantly enabled me to tap into areas of my creative pallet, allowing me to present my music in a way that is engaging and unique.”

Check out a video created using Rotor for hip-hop group Rusangano Family:

Try it out now over at rotorvideos.com/#how-it-works.

Amazon Separate Prime Video and Launch Monthly Subscriptions

Today Amazon have introduced an alternative monthly plan for their Prime service and give a separate option for just Prime Video monthly.

Amazon’s Prime bundle service has long been a bargain with next-day delivery, music streaming, video streaming and more all for $99 a year. Now Amazon are updating their service so that you can subscribe monthly, for those who want to try it out or pay throughout the year rather than a one-off payment.

For $10.99 you can now have access to all of Amazon Prime’s perks for a month at a time. Additionally a new option has been added for just Amazon Prime Video, Amazon’s answer to Netflix, for $8.99 a month. This is a clever move as Netflix plan to raise their monthly price to $9.99 over the next few weeks, putting Amazon’s rising rival service at a cost advantage.

Prime video monthly

These new monthly plans provide a great option for customers who want to trial the service or are looking just to use the video streaming aspect. Amazon’s yearlong Prime subscription is still the best option however giving you access to everything in Prime for $99. The monthly subscriptions add up to $107.88 a year for Prime Video and $131.88 for Prime if subscribed for a year.

Amazon have slowly been making their name in video streaming with quality original series and movies like The Man in the High Castle and Mad Dogs. Now available as a standalone TV and movie streaming service Prime Video is now in direct competition with Netflix. Amazon’s ambiguously successful music streaming service remains part of a bundle however Amazon revealed last year they plan to separate their music service and provide a better experience with it soon.