Google Play Podcasts Launch This Month Says Podcaster

Popular podcaster Bill Simmons tweeted a potential time-frame for the much-anticipated launch of Podcasts on Google Play Music.

Google announced last October that podcasts would be coming to their music streaming service, Google Play Music. Since then Google have pursed their lips on any news of a launch date. However this tuesday podcaster Bill Simmons tweeted that we’d be seeing the format come later this month. The tweet was deleted shortly thereafter.

Google Play Music Podcasts
Bill Simmons’ deleted tweet, courtesy of Droid Life

This isn’t necessarily definitive proof that Google will launch a podcast section this month but it’s likely, as a popular podcaster, that Simmons might have been let in on it’s release. After podcasting successfully with ESPN Simmons left and now hosts the “Bill Simmons Podcast” which has gained roughly 27 million listens since launching 4 months ago.

Google have been working with an assortment of big-time podcasts like HBO, Nerdist, HowStuffWorks and many more in preparation for their launch. Only time will tell whether or not podcasts will really launch on Google Play Music this month but whenever it drops, we can’t wait.

Tidal Have An Exclusive TV Series? Watch The Trailer

Jay Z’s hi-res music streaming platform Tidal is joining in the new wave of video content that’s hitting music streaming platforms with an exclusive TV series.

The upcoming series, Money & Violence, will debut it’s second series on Tidal. The music streaming, unique in it’s high quality music offerings, purchased the series after it’s first series released on YouTube but failed to crowdfund a second.

Tidal announced last year that they wanted to get into the business of TV programming delivered through their streaming service. Money & Violence will be their second release after the stand-up comedy series ‘No Small Talk’. The second series of Money & Violence will launch exclusively on Tidal  on February 9th, however will be released on YouTube a week later.

Video content seems to be a new trend for music streaming services as Spotify just last week released their new Shows feature, non-music related video content from various sources.

Watch the trailer for Money & Violence season 2 below:

Apple Music’s New Curator DICE Introduce Unique Playlists

British startup DICE have teamed up with Apple Music to create some unique playlists, including recordings of live shows.

Every week DICE will upload new playlists for subscribers of Apple’s music streaming service – Apple Music. Along with music picks from staff, the live music ticketing company will introduce three special playlists that are so good “you’ll tell your grandkids about (or maybe not)”.

Dice Apple Music playlists

DICE’s three flagship playlists are:

Live At – A playlist of live music recorded on site at a different location each week. Live At playlists will bring “together the best live recordings from renowned venues across the globe”. Live At starts with recordings from Camden’s Roundhouse.

Set List – “Letting Fans relive the euphoria of last nights gig.” These playlists will be based around live events as well, however feature the studio recordings of all the tracks played at certain gigs. The first set-list playlist features the Maccabees performance at Brixton.

Lineup – Playlists featuring a selection of musical artists that have performed at a selection of British festivals, going “deep into the acts and artists who’ve performed at the UK’s best festivals past, present and future”.  Currently featured is a playlist for London festival Field Day’s upcoming 10th anniversary. Reading’s 1992 line-up is also named as a playlist to come.

DICE’s own Pat Mills and Josie Robs will be in charge of their own playlists. Mills will be hosting workout playlists that he feels are actually worth listening to, as a lover of “techno and muscles”. Robs will be creating curated selections of all of her favourite pop music that “will be party-ready, powerful, pivotal etc, but most of all, P.O.P”.

DICE’s head of music, Ross Tannen says: “We’ve basically bottled up music obsession in a series of playlists that will hopefully make the world a better place.”

DICE is an app for buying tickets to live music that cuts out the extra fees that come with purchasing live event tickets. Last year Apple named DICE in their Best Apps Of 2015 list, an accolade that has no doubt led to their curator status on Apple Music. The app is led by ex-Vice events manager Russ Tannen and BBC Radio 1 presenter Jen Long.

You can find and follow DICE  on Apple Music from the Curator Playlists section in the ‘New’ tab. Listen to Pat Mills’ #TECHNOGYM playlist and Josie Robs’ #POPBOBS by clicking on their hashtag with an Apple Music subscription.

Spotify To Raise Half-a-Billion Dollars Funding In Exchange For IPO Shares

Spotify are already the biggest music streaming service in the world and they’re now looking for major funding to push them even further.

A week after Deezer raised an impressive $109 million in funding, Spotify announce they’re looking for five times that in trade for convertible IPO shares, according to Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet and confirmed by TechCrunch. Spotify are reportedly looking to gain $500 million for “acquisitions to further marketplace consolidation”.

CrunchBase say that Spotify have in the past raised $1.56 billion in 8 funding rounds from 26 investors. Now they look to raise a third of their total funding in one round but are offering 4% on the borrowed money as they’re describing the funding as a loan rather than a direct investment. As the funding isn’t an equity round contributors will reportedly have the option to convert their loaned money into Spotify shares in a potential Initial Public Offering (IPO) for the company.

A spokesperson for Spotify declined to comment on any possible IPO process however sources suggest that it is likely to happen, though no date has been set. In regards to what the money will be spent on Spotify have been vague although one source suggests it could be used for opportunities in new markets. Could this mean expanding outside of their music streaming roots? It’s not a long shot as Spotify recently purchased two tech startups and released their new Shows feature – non-music related videos on Spotify.

Reportedly, investors approached by Spotify aren’t being easily swayed into their new round of funding, citing increased competition as encroaching on Spotify’s current runaway success. Presumably this is in reference to last year’s introduction of two new major streaming services, Apple Music and Tidal, as well as the rapid growth of competitors like Deezer.

The nature of the funding is also cause for concern for some potential funders as they say they would like a more standard IPO process for better transparency on Spotify’s finances and revenue-generating potential. They have a right to be wary as Spotify remains a startup that is yet to be profitable, despite it’s veteran status, however this is largely down to Spotify’s endeavours to continuously invest in a better, broader service for users and artists rather than storing their profits.

Spotify was last valued at more than $8.5 billion after raising $526 million in a round of funding last June. Past investors have included Telia, DST, Creandum, Fidelity, Accel, Founders Fund, Northzone, and KPCB to name but a few.

Spotify are clearly established as a major tech company and currently hold the title of the world’s largest music streaming service, with more than 100 million estimated users. However despite it’s successes it faces competition from rival tech companies whose music offerings stand as complements to existing services, as opposed to being their lone business model, such as Amazon Prime, Microsoft Groove and Apple Music.

Are Amazon Releasing a Standalone Music Streaming Service?

Rumours from the New York Post suggest that Amazon Prime Music might be taking the bundle out of their bundled music streaming service.

Amazon, currently the 7th biggest tech company in the world, look set to expand their Prime music streaming service by offering a completely new one. As it stands their current service offers a modest 1 million-or-so tracks, a nice addition to Prime for casual listeners but not enough to draw in music fanatics.

Reportedly Amazon are aware of that divide and have begun discussing introducing an entirely separate music streaming service. As the biggest seller for physical music, and the second biggest seller of digital music, in the US it’s easy to see why Amazon would want to stake their place in what is quickly becoming the biggest platform for music consumption – on-demand streaming.

Amazon’s vice president of digital music, Steve Boom said to Billboard in October: “If I’m an artist and I want to reach fans of my music, and I recognize that people like to interact with music in different ways, we’re really the only place that touches all of the different formats.”

The current service comes bundled with an Amazon Prime subscription which, for an annual fee, also gets you a video streaming service in the vein of Netflix and free one-day delivery. With a separate service just for music streaming Amazon look to bolster their music catalogue with a much larger selection as competition like Spotify features roughly 30 million tracks.

According to the New York Times’ post a music industry insider said: “The music industry wants to see all the tech giants fighting it out to try and really take streaming to the mainstream.” Having said earlier this week that the company doesn’t want to compete with major streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music news of this new service suggests otherwise.

Current reports claim that Amazon are discussing a $9.99 monthly charge for a standalone service with the potential for a $3-$4 discount when purchased with Amazon’s Echo speaker. Though at a price that would end up costing more than the bundled Prime price of $99 a year some sources suggest this price may be too high for Amazon’s target audience of “mainstream listeners”. Rumours are predicting an Autumn launch for the new service.