Deezer to face up to Spotify, including a potential SoundCloud buyout

A few months after SoundCloud were reported to be broke and likely bought out soon they have, so they say, recovered. But Deezer still have their eyes on the streamer.

It’s been a tough year for SoundCloud, having only just recovered from numerous reports claiming they didn’t have enough cash to make it past this year. In addition, since last year SoundCloud have lost 100 million users and went from offering themselves for $1 billion to a $250 million offer. The past few months they’ve been getting back on track, ditching founder and CEO Alexander Ljung and investors approving $170 million in emergency funding.

Before the drama and Ljung’s dismissal Deezer were in talks to potentially purchase SoundCloud “at the right price”. A “senior music source” spoke at the time, saying: “Deezer is making a serious run. There will be a lot of consolidation, if you are Deezer or Spotify. SoundCloud’s massive user base – one that is melting as it grapples with a shrinking pile of cash – lets you convert into a much bigger player.”

Deezer’s chief executive Hans-Holger Albrecht has recently revealed their plans to stand up against larger competitors like Spotify and Apple Music. As they’re struggling to make an impact beyond Europe where they started, Albrecht says they’re looking to target smaller markets that aren’t already overwhelmed by major streaming services.

Speaking to Reuters, Albrecht said: “I strongly believe in the localisation of content. While Spotify is mainly playlist-focused, we are betting on local differentiation, and this has helped us become number one in gospel in Brazil.”

Leaked documents reveal that SoundCloud don’t predict profitability until 2020, a long time to be stepping on shaky ground in the booming music streaming industry. This could make them more open to reducing their expectations and accepting a smaller buyout for their community-based music site. Deezer certainly have an interest, and standing up to the big guns is going to require something big.

Text your favourite tunes from Spotify with iMessage integration

Share all of your best music experiences with the ones you love as iMessage adds sharing by Spotify via text.

Spotify have launched their own application on Apple’s iMessage app to make so you can share your music streaming experience easily with others. Whilst it hasn’t been formally announced for whatever reason the iMessage app can be downloaded from the iMessage app store now.

The Spotify extension in iMessage is essentially the same as the one introduced to Facebook Messenger in the past year. You can easily open up the app inside iMessage from where you can search the entire Spotify catalogue and share any song in a text message. Whoever you sent the song to can then preview the cover, title and artist and open up a tab to preview 30 seconds of the song. You can also select to go to the Spotify app to listen to the whole song.

A Spotify spokesperson spoke on the new app, saying: “Spotify’s iMessage app is available now, allowing users to quickly search for and share music with friends directly from iMessage. It’s the latest way in which we’re empowering users to share music with friends in a fast and fun way.”

The integration is interesting considering the rivalry between Spotify and Apple thanks to Apple’s own streaming service Apple Music. Interestingly sharing songs via Apple Music on iMessage allows you to listen to the whole song from the app, assumably due to being able to license streaming on their own platform with existing streaming licenses for Apple Music. However Apple Music sharing only lets you select songs from your ‘Recently Listened’ list, a massive restriction compared to Spotify’s entire catalogue of 30 million plus songs.

Unless you have automatic enabling of new iMessage apps you will have to activate the Spotify iMessage app. First you must have the Spotify app on your iOS device then, on iOS 11, select the App Store in iMessage and find Spotify. Once you’ve found it select edit to switch it on and start sharing.

Spotify music streaming coming soon to South Africa

The world’s most successful music streaming service is available almost everywhere, and soon South Africa will be one of the countries on the list.

With most of the world’s most populated countries and territories already streaming music from Spotify, South Africa seems to be their next endeavour. The move was spotted in a new job role advert on Spotifyjobs.com by tech magazine Stuff.

Spotify are searching for a “Senior Editor/Music Programmer – South Africa” positioned in London “or Dubai”. The job description basically confirms that they will launch in South Africa at some point soon, reading:

We are looking for a broadly experienced Sr. Editor/Music Programmer to join Spotify’s Shows and Editorial team, responsible for South Africa, located in London or Dubai. You will identify and curate first-rate music playlist listening and programming experiences for a multitude of our moods, moments, and genres, demonstrate a passion for performance-oriented analytics, and will have your ear to the ground in the music community, focusing South Africa. Above all, your work will impact the way the world experiences music.

Spotify haven’t given any proper details on a release or potential price tags for subscriptions yet. TechCentral in South Africa have found that the average music platform in SA costs roughly R 60, which is about $4.65. 3 years ago Spotify first revealed their plans to launch in the country but since then any arrival has been silent. Whatever was stopping them before seems to be out-of-the-way now though.

How to edit your artist bio on Spotify

How you are represented is massively important in building your artist image, and Spotify are adding even more customisation for artist pages.

On Spotify, the world’s most popular streaming service, every artist with music gets their own unique profile with images, streaming data and a biography explaining the band/artist’s music, origins, style and more. Spotify have updated Spotify for Artists so that every artist can now edit their bio themselves.

Now all artists, managers and teams can create, edit and publish their own bios to their Spotify profile with 1500 words to tell the world your story. If you have a Wikipedia page too you can link it up with your Spotify profile so that fans can easily click over to find out more.

How to edit your Spotify artist bio:

  1. Open Spotify for Artists, go to Profile, and scroll down to the text field under “Artist Bio.”
  2. Write whatever you want! We recommend a creative bio that helps fans get to know you better, but seriously go nuts.
  3. Link to anything on Spotify. You can paste Spotify links directly into the text field, or just use the @ symbol to link to whatever you want—artists or albums that inspire you, or playlists you’re featured on, or other artists you’ve collaborated with.
  4. Add a link to your Wikipedia page for fans who want to dig deeper.

Up until now artists have had to go through Rovi, a third-party company providing band info and details to services. In their announcement Spotify said: “We know that sometimes you want to speak directly with your fans, and tell them who you are. It’s a part of our overall commitment to giving you more and more control over your presence on Spotify.”

They continued, speaking on the benefits of being able to edit your bio in testing, saying: “When we opened this up to a handful of artists for the first tests, we saw them use this space to share their story, the inspiration behind their latest release, or the most-up-to-date version of their bio. The Peach Kings gave us a great overview of their major influences. Dan Snaith of Caribou used it to speak directly to his fans in the first person.”

One thing to note is that if you have an existing Rovi bio it will be permanently removed when you add your own bio on your artist page. Bio’s will also have to stick to a number of guidelines set out by Spotify: artists.spotify.com/faq/profile#what-guidelines-should-i-follow-when-writing-my-bio.

Transform the world through music and colour with just a ring from Specdrums

This Kickstarter project innovates music playing in an entirely unique way combining colour and the world’s largest tool – the world itself.

Specdrums is the name of these new “instruments”, developed by students hailing from Cornell University and CU Boulder. Specdrums come in the shape of rings, yes – for your fingers, that sense colours and creates a new sound for every shade and tone. Tap them on a wall, tap them on tv, your clothes, your cat, whatever you want becomes its own instrument with Specdrums (it’s not recommended that you use your cat as a pseudo-drum-kit).

Speaking on their inspiration, founder and Cornell graduate Steven Dourmashkin says: “Growing up as a drummer, I would tap on everything whenever I was away from my drum set. I was determined to create the most portable drumming machine, capable of turning my taps into real percussion sounds. But what we’ve created is more than just a drumming tool – it’s a new instrument that makes musical creation in general more accessible, welcoming, and fun.”

Specdrums kickstarter initiative funding instrument cool startup fun creative music

So what’s the big deal? Here are your answers:

  • Unprecedented portability: By turning any coloured physical object into a sound trigger, Specdrums give you the freedom to make music anywhere. Instead of tapping on a screen, users can reliably drum on real objects in any configuration they desire. The rings can also be connected to other apps such as GarageBand or Ableton Live for more advanced musical composition.
  • Smart, connected musical tool: Because they’re low storage, low-budget, and immdediately enjoyable to children, Specdrums can be used in the classroom as a new music education and STEAM tool. Children can learn musical pitches with the help of colour recognition, arrange colours in order to play a song, and create their own instruments by colouring sketches or cutting out constructions paper.
  • Democratising music: Specdrums turns ordinary tapping into music, allowing people of all ages and musical backgrounds to create beats and melodies. Users can record sounds into a loop, which can be saved and shared with others who can then contribute to them, enabling a collaborative musical experience.
  • Open-source applications: Specdrums has provided an open-source iOS app and MAC OSX & Linux Python library, making the rings a programmable Bluetooth LE sensor suite.

It took two years of meticulous design work to create the Specdrums and after nine major versions of the rings they are ready to be played by you. Their Kickstarter has already gone and completely smashed its goal by over 10x and only has a few days left. If you want to get your hands on the first round of Specdrums from Kickstarter before they are shipped you have until September the 15th, 1.44 PM BST.

Soundcharts get $3m+ in funding to track your music’s performance

Paris company Soundcharts just raised $3m+ to help them keep track of all the music activity and data for the industry.

Less than a year after officially launching, spending a year in beta until late last year, Soundcharts have gained some whopping funding in a Series A round. Raising a giant $3.1 million (€2.65 to them) their round of funding led by Alven Capital should help them to establish and expand their exponentially rising success.

Soundcharts keeps track of as much music data as they can, surveying streaming activity, music charts, playlists, radio airplay, and more, all in real-time. Their vast collection of information about the market is then utilised by executives from all across the industry, in particular marketing and A&R as well as being a useful tool for artists to track their own progress.

The funding will go towards strengthening their position in the industry, making sure they stand up to competitors, and will also be put towards expansion outside of Paris. Soundcharts appear to be looking to open up offices in Los Angeles, New York and/or London by 2018.

Soundcharts’ CEO and founder, David Weiszfeld says: “Soundcharts processes, analyses and archives a mass of information in real-time and gives meaning to this data thanks to an intuitive, personalised dashboard and automated reports. What is magical about Soundcharts is that we help artists, managers and product managers, digital marketers, sales team, radio programmers, playlist curators, brands as well as with the A&R discovery process.

“This puts Soundcharts at a central position within the ecosystem. We are thrilled to see that many industry leading companies chose us to power their daily workflow and we hope to keep building the platform for tomorrow’s usages and help our users execute their strategies more efficiently.”

Alibaba and Tencent precede $10bn IPO by sharing Sony and Universal music

Before embarking on Tencent’s rumoured, enormous $10 billion IPO they have secured a deal with Alibaba to share each others music.

Tencent are a giant investment company with their fingers in a multitude of pies, including deals with two of the world’s 3 major labels, Universal Music Group (UMG) and Sony Music Entertainment (SME). This made up the majority of Tencent’s new deal with another Chinese company, peer-to-peer sales provider Alibaba.

The new deal will see Tencent provide Alibaba with the international rights to stream some music from their associated labels, including Sony and Universal. The deal announced on Tuesday will give Tencent rights access to Alibaba’s localised collection of Chinese and Japanese music.

It’s a sign of the shifting importance of digital music in China as local and international stores and streaming services catch up with the rest of the world in the country. We’re seeing growth in the music industry internationally as streaming pushes the best profit bumps in over 10 years. The effect should have an even more significant impact in China where their physical market has also been made up in large part by pirated music.

That growth is already being seen as the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry revealed that last year China’s online music market grew by 20%. That’s an incredible increase compared to the global average of 6% growth last year in online music. Alibaba’s ever-increasing library of music they can distribute to services, and Tencent’s multiple music apps, including QQ Music, Kugou, and Kuwo. Those 3 Tencent apps claim 526 million users every month which makes up a whopping 78% of the market revenue.

Those outstanding figures are just one big reason why Tencent is, rumoured to be, looking for such an incredible amount of investment in their upcoming IPO. Tencent recently merged their music business  with China Music Corp for an even larger place in their music streaming market which is expected to make 4.37 billion yuan, or $664 million. Tencent will reportedly put up 3% of its shares to raise the funding in their IPO.

SONGS, publisher behind Lorde, The Weeknd & more up for $160m+ sale

The independent music publisher SONGS is going up for sale, with the majors like Warner, Sony and Universal likely keeping their eyes peeled.

SONGS music publishing are responsible for some of the world’s biggest artists like Diplo, The Weeknd, and Lorde to name but a few. That’s why it’s major news to hear that they’re going onto the market with help from LionTree Advisors for bids of over $160 million.

Sources say that last year SONGS made $8 million in gross profit. The company’s value would normally be roughly 12 times their net publisher share (gross profit) but rising value has pushed it to around 15 times the company’s profits in the latest year. SONGS are feeling confident predicting a massive jump to $12 million in gross profits this year, hence why they aren’t giving themselves up cheap.

SONGS haven’t given an exact target of what they want in an offer but the quoted £160 million stands as a minimum, and they seem to be expecting much higher. With their impressive roster of high-profile artists the major labels will no doubt have a keen eye on proceedings and it will be interesting to see which, if any, make the first move on SONGS.

Rumours are suggesting that SONGS have decided to put themselves up for sale to test the waters after receiving an upfront buyout offer. With this in mind they may not even accept any others, on the other hand Universal might end up chucking 300 million their way and they end up rethinking their future. We shall have to see.