Joox are flexing their K-Pop catalogue on their main rival Spotify

Asian streaming service Joox is in competition for listeners with Spotify, so they’re bragging about their library of Korean music.

Joox is the Tencent-owned music streaming service in Asia and has “arguably the strongest and most comprehensive K-Pop library across all music streaming platforms“. Of course, K-Pop is huge around the world these days and available on all music platforms but some catalogues are clearly better than others.

That’s certainly what Joox are saying, making use of Spotify‘s recent loss of a significant chunk of their K-Pop music. As Spotify were celebrating their triumphant launch into South Korea, introducing their platform to the world’s sixth largest music market, they sadly lost the license for one of the country’s biggest distributors, Kakao M.

The lack of a new licensing deal meant that Spotify lost all of the music that comes under Kakao M’s management. The matter goes deeper as the distributor is tied up with MelOn, South Korea’s very own streaming service and Spotify’s biggest competitor for the market.

Speaking on the discussion, a spokesperson for Spotify said that they hoped the disruption to content would only be temporary, saying it’s “unfortunate for their artists, as well as for fans and listeners worldwide”. However Kakao M said that it was due to “Spotify’s policy that they must process with the domestic and global contracts at the same time”.

Joox weighing in on Spotify’s loss, have launched a lowkey flex of a statement simply reminding everyone of their huge K-Pop library and being sure to mention that it includes the artists no longer on Spotify. As Spotify launches further into Asian markets will they only face more challenges with local competitors? It may be a case of teething trouble, or we may see services like MelOn and Joox fight back.

Facebook music video streams to be included on Billboard Charts for first time

Image Credit: Alex Haney

Billboard will count streams of officially licensed music videos on Facebook from the end of the month.

Billboard have announced that from March 27th streams of officially licensed music videos on Facebook will be factored into the Billboard Hot 100, Billboard 200, Artist 100, and Billboard Global 200 charts.

As per the charts’ reach, plays will only be tracked from US viewers. User-generated content will be excluded from the count, with only data from officially licensed music videos being factored in. Billboard said that Facebook video plays are categorised as “ad-supported on-demand streams”.

Silvio Pietroluongo, senior Vice President of Charts and data development for MRC Data and Billboard said: “We are excited to announce the inclusion of Facebook’s U.S. Premium Music Video streams to Music Connect and to Billboard’s charts. Music availability and consumption continues to increase at a remarkable rate and the industry has seen incredible innovation across many digital platforms.”

It’s the latest move to incorporate video streaming into the official charts. Back in February 2013 YouTube streams were factored into song-specific Billboard charts for the first time.

Tamara Hrivnak, Vice President of business development and partnerships at Facebook, said: “Artists deserve recognition in music charts for the social capital they drive and the social discovery they fuel. Adding music video plays on Facebook to the Billboard charts is an important step in the right direction.”

In August 2020 Facebook launched music videos in newsfeeds in the US, allowing official music videos from artists and labels to be uploaded to the platform, and a dedicated music space in Facebook Watch for music content. Facebook has exclusive music video premieres lined up from Common, Becky G and Juicy J.

IFPI and BMAT launch SoundSys a distribution system for performance rights revenue collection

IFPI and BMAT team up with four music licensing companies (MLCs) in Asia to launch SoundSys.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is a non-profit organisation that helps the industry license music. IFPI are teaming up with BMAT, who identify music across TV, radio, venues and digital services. IFPI and BMAT along with four music licensing companies in Asia launch SoundSys.

“IFPI, and the respective MLCs in India, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand, working with BMAT, have designed, and delivered the industry’s first shared, cloud-based software that serves as a complete, cost-effective back-office distribution system for revenue collected for the broadcasting and public performance of sound recordings and karaoke videos in these countries.” Developing a shared system across the four Asian countries listed, means the societies do not have to build it themselves.

SoundSys

SoundSys follows the launch of repertoire data exchange service RDx. “The roll-out of both systems globally will provide a standardised, high quality recording metadata supply pipeline and data processing capability for MLCs that will significantly improve the performance rights management landscape worldwide.” IFPI plans to rollout the fully scalable shared system to other parts of the world.

Sony’s WF-1000XM4 earbuds leak, showing a radically new design

Image Credit: Key_Attention4766 (Reddit)

The box for the next generation of Sony’s high-end wireless in-ear buds has supposedly leaked, showing a new design and new features.

Sony WF-1000XM3 are the in-ear companion to the over-ear WH-1000XM3. Both headphones are part of Sony’s much-loved, high-end, active noise cancelling range. With Sony’s over-ear headphones getting an update in August last year, this raised questions on when the in-ear brother would receive the same treatment. Thanks to a recent leak, we may be one step closer to an official release of the new unannounced Sony WF-1000XM4.

When released in August 2019, the Sony WF-1000XM3s were praised as being one of the best sounding true wireless earbuds, with best-in-class noise cancelling. At one-and-a-half years old, the current generation earbuds are now getting on a bit and as a result have picked up a number of complaints when compared to similarly priced earbuds, such as AirPods Pro, Bose QuietComfort EarBuds, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Google Pixel Buds. These include a bulky earbud and case design, no sweat/water resistance or multi-device support.


Thanks to Reddit user Key_Attention4766, two pictures of the box for the WF-1000XM4 have leaked, showing the name, design and some features. These images have not been verified by any other leakers and we won’t know if they’re genuine until Sony makes an official announcement.

The image shows a new design with the same matte black and gold accent as the currently generation. The second image share by the Reddit user, shows ‘Hi-Res Audio Wireless’, 6 hours on a single charge, plus 18 extra hours in the case, as well as noise cancelling as on the WF-1000XM3.

While the leak points towards a radically new design, it doesn’t appear to be significantly smaller as we’d hoped. It most closely resembles other circular earbuds such as the Galaxy Buds Pro and Pixel Buds, but still stand out as strikingly different. A prominent golden accent would appear to be a microphone for noise cancellation or voice pick-up.

WH-1000XM4 saw improved sound quality with a new DSEE Extreme audio processor, that upscaled compressed music using AI. The ‘Hi-Res Audio’ badge suggests some sort of improved audio quality may be present on the WF-1000XM4s too, such as LDAC support. Battery life matches last generations 6 hours on a single charge with ANC turned on, plus three extra charges in the case. This is roughly on par with most of the competition.

Although the box does not state the following, we can predict the WF-1000XM4s will feature improved Bluetooth, multi-device support and Speak to Chat as found on last year’s WH-1000XM4s. We are also hoping for some sort of sweat/water resistance.


It seems Sony release their 1000XM series headphones and earbuds at roughly two year intervals. This would lead us to see the WF-1000XM4s in August later this year. They’ll likely launch at a similar retail price as the currently generation’s $230 price.

Sony’s WF-1000XM3 in renewed condition can be found on Amazon for just $99. That’s $129 or 56% off the usual price.


Click here to see the best wireless earbuds at every price point.

Rolling Stone bring live music from artists to Twitch

Image Credit: Rolling Stone

The latest to join the Twitch boom is one of the most recognised music publications in the world. Rolling Stone are now live streaming on Amazon’s video platform.

Rolling Stone are the latest to join the live-streaming platform Twitch. Their new channel will be streaming five days a week and cover music news, regular guests from all walks of live, and weekly performances and exclusive live content.

Their goal for the new channel is to provide a deeper connection between their readership and the world of people they talk about in their coverage. With features from musicians, comedians, actors, political figures, and journalists promised for the show, there should be plenty of enjoyable names passing through their live streams.

Rolling Stone on Twitch‘ will broadcast five days a week from Monday to Friday featuring a two-hour live show on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays featuring an assortment of guests like those mentioned above. Then Tuesdays and Thursdays will feature live music performances from artists of all sorts. Marcus King and Ted Park are lined up to perform on the first week.

Twitch has exploded in popularity in the last year, with a huge 24 million hours watched on the platform in January this year alone. People have jumped on new ways to connect like through livestreaming more than ever considering the circumstances of the last year, and Rolling Stone are just the latest of many to take to the platform.

Though the music world have adopted the platform for news shows, live sessions, and even just to chat outside of music like in the case of rapper Logic; their relationship with music has been fraught with difficulties. Last week Metallica’s own livestream saw their music replaced with Zelda-like music in a DMCA takedown. The problem is that Twitch doesn’t have a Content ID system like Facebook and YouTube, and so can’t detect music and distribute royalties to the correct places. So it’s a case of take it down and ask questions later, for their legal security.

As more music bodies take to the Amazon-owned platform, hopefully they will arrange a better system for music. Whilst it was funny with Metallica at first, it won’t be so funny if Rolling Stone’s regular guest features are silenced during broadcast.

Rolling Stone on Twitch broadcast for the first time on the 1st of March and you can watch their shows now.

Kings Of Leon Offer New Album As An NFT In Music Industry First

Image credit: Kings of Leon

The “non-fungible token’s” are a form of cryptocurrency and will unlock perks including limited-edition vinyl and front row seats to future concerts.

The American rock band will be the first-ever band to release an album as an NFT (non-fungible token), when their latest record ‘When You See Yourself’ drops this Friday (5th March). 

Listeners will be able to buy the album on blockchain, a cryptocurrency wallet, exchange, and explorer. The album will also be available in physical form and on streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. 

The tokens will unlock special perks such as limited-edition vinyl and front-row seats for future concerts. 

NFTs are a form of cryptocurrency that can hold assets such as art, concert tickets, and music instead of money. As with most cryptocurrencies, they are expected to increase in value over time but can also be instantly valuable too. In fact, this week artist Grimes sold $6m (£4.3m) worth of art as NFTs.

As cryptocurrencies gain traction and become more of a mainstream asset, we’ll likely see more artists using NFTs to sell their music and art. 

Watch Kings of Leon play new song ‘The Bandit’ live on Jools Holland here:

Spotify Podcast Listeners Are Predicted To Top Apple’s For The First Time In 2021

Image credit: Austin Distel

It’s a gamble that Spotify investors have been waiting to pay off and it’s looking like it may be about to in 2021 and beyond.

Spotify has been a home for podcasts since late 2018 but in recent years with the rise in their popularity, the streaming service has been looking to become a podcasting powerhouse. Their first big move (and arguably most controversial) was signing an exclusive deal with The Joe Rogan Experience, a popular and often controversial show. 

The 2020s Spotify Wrapped boasted that over 1 million podcasts were launched that year via the platform and recent data from MIDiA confirmed that 42% of all podcast consumption comes from Spotify. 

It’s clear to see that Spotify’s gamble with podcasts has paid off and a recent market forecast has predicted that U.S podcast listenership will surpass Apple Podcasts for the first time this year. It’s been predicted that 28.2 million U.S users will listen to podcasts on Spotify at least monthly, compared to 28.0 million via Apple Podcasts. 

The eMarketer forecast also predicts that in the two years to follow, Spotify will widen the gap with Apple, reaching 33.1 million monthly podcast listeners by 2022. Apple is however predicted 28.5 million podcast users by 2022. By 2023, Spotify is expected to see 37.5 million monthly listeners in the U.S, compared with Apple’s still flat 28.8 million. 

The firm notes that Apple has been in a state of decline with podcast listeners since it started tracking the market back in 2018. At that point, Apple Podcasts had a 34% market share, which plummeted to 23.8% this year. 

Overall, there are likely to be 117.8 million people in the U.S who listen to podcasts on a monthly basis in 2021, a 10.1% increase year on year. Podcast listeners will also be expected to account for 53.9% of monthly digital audio listeners, surpassing 50% for the first time, according to eMarkerter.  

“By putting podcasts and music in one place, Spotify quickly became the convenient one-stop-shop for everything digital audio,” noted eMarketer forecasting analyst Peter Vahle. “Apple was the de facto destination for podcasts for a long time, but in recent years, it has not kept up with Spotify’s pace of investment and innovation in podcast content and technology. Spotify’s investments have empowered podcast creators and advertisers through its proprietary hosting, creation, and monetization tools,” he said.

Keeping the momentum up Spotify has signed several exclusives and originals but will also implement new, more interactive features such as paid podcast subscriptions, WordPress integrations, and a variety of new tools for creators. 

How can musicians and producers tell when their track is finished?

Image Credit: Soundtrap

Struggling to step away and finish your mix when producing and songwriting? Spot the signs that your track is done.

Deciding when a song is finished is one of the hardest parts of producing and songwriting. The temptation is strong to keep sitting at the DAW, mixing away, tweaking and making tiny changes, trying to make the track perfect.

Often the ideas and loops come easy, but it’s completing a track that’s the hard part. So how do you know when the track is done? What helps you get there, short of getting someone to gently take your hands and prise them from the keyboard?

Here are a few signs to look out for, as well as some strategies to help musicians and producers finish a song and walk away victoriously.


Critical listening

Listen to the song multiple times with your DAW hidden, a pen and paper to hand. Jot down anything that you don’t like in the track and anything that you think is missing. Is it interesting enough? If you don’t know what else you can do with it, congratulations, your production is done.

Get someone you trust to listen to your track too. Someone impartial – not your best mate, unless they can listen with a critical ear and point out where the vocal needs to come up in the mix. Sometimes you need someone else to say: “Yes, it’s finished!”


Pressure is good

Set yourself goals. Decide how many tracks you want to produce in a month and try and stick to it. Try working towards a release date, knowing that if you miss it you’ll let down the fans waiting to hear your music. You might find you flourish best under a deadline, and you’ll be forced to draw a line under the track and step away without dragging the process out.


Sometimes you’ve just got to let go

Most music producers believe that a song will never really be finished. There’s infinite options for every track; always a new plugin to try out. If you’ve spent days tinkering away at the track and it doesn’t sound that different, you’re probably procrastinating without much effect. It’s time to be brave and step away from the mix.


Struggling to make a full song?

If you’re used to just making loops, you might not be used to arranging those elements into a structure to make them a full, complete song. Try stopping at three core loop ideas and then turning your attention to arranging them in a linear fashion.

Thinking of the track as a journey with signposts along the way might help you to have the confidence to declare the song finished. You’re following a map, made up of breaks and drops if you’re producing, verse and choruses if you’re songwriting.

Image Credit: Matt Duncan

Finishing a song is a feeling

When a song is ready, some musicians can intrinsically tell. Some producers would say a song is a piece of art that will keep growing and evolving with time and depending who is listening to it.


Lay down fewer but better tracks

Try focusing on making fewer parts and making them as good as you can, rather than endlessly adding instruments and samples to your mix. A full song doesn’t necessarily need a lot of tracks to sound great.


Listen with fresh ears

Ear fatigue is a thing. Put the song away for a couple of days. When you come back and listen again, the bits you were unsure about might have been minor irritations that now sound fine in the overall production. If you still love it, then chances are your track is ready.


Believe in your work

Self-belief is a huge part of being a musician. Try and think of a finished song as an opportunity. If you don’t finish the song, you’ll never perform it at gigs, never send it out to music streaming platforms, and you’ll never know if it’s a hit.


Enjoy the learning curve of the process and be proud that you’ve taught yourself the discipline to complete a track. But equally don’t stress too much about not finishing every song you start. You might find that the ideas you’d had and tricks you’ve learnt will come back and be useful later in future music-making – you’ve sharpened your producing skills without even knowing it.

What mental and organisational strategies have you found that might help musicians and producers close the DAW and declare a track finished?


Once you decide that your song is finally finished, it’s time to let everyone hear it. With RouteNote you can publish your track to all major online stores and streaming services, easily and for free. Learn more here.

Gomi Speakers are made from plastic bags and powered by repurposed Lime e-bike batteries

Image Credit: Gomi

Gomi Speaker is an environmentally-friendly portable speaker made from 100 plastic bags, powered by upcycled e-bike batteries.

Brighton based company Gomi design phone chargers and speakers from non-recyclable plastic waste. Gomi are partnering with American transportation company Lime, to use batteries from damaged e-bikes to power their new sustainable portable speaker. As part of its ‘Ride Green’ initiative and commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2030, Lime are providing Gomi with 50,000 cells from over 1,000 e-bikes. The zero-waste Gomi Speaker is made from around 100 plastic bags that would otherwise end up in landfill. Gomi Speaker hit Kickstarter yesterday and has already shot past its goal.

Image Credit: Gomi

Housed in the speaker is a 25W mono neodymium driver with a powerful bass radiator. Pair two for a stereo system with “mind-blowing sound quality”, from your phone, laptop or tablet via Bluetooth at up to 10 metres range. The product weighs in at 800g.


Gomi Speaker Top
Image Credit: Gomi

Button atop the speaker control volume and power, with an LED battery level indicator. The battery will provide 20 hours of music playback, with USB-C fast charging available to top the speaker up. An aluminium dust cover protects the charging and AUX input on the rear. The speaker is water and dust resistant. A recycled plastic carry cord allows you to easily attach Gomi Speaker to a bag.

Image Credit: Gomi

The modular design makes swapping parts easy for repair. Gomi are promising repairs-for-life with their return service.

Gomi Speaker comes in Black & White, Blue Ocean, Lime Green and Birthday Cake. Each comes in a unique marble pattern. Gomi Speaker will retail for £179, but is discounted to Kickstarter backers. After launching yesterday, all 50 Super Early Bird speakers at £99 have sold out. Currently available are Early Bird speakers for £129 at 27% off the full price, or a two pack for £240. At the time of writing, the Kickstarter has over £12,000 (over $17,000), smashing its £4,000 ($5,582) goal from 90 backers in just one day. The project still has 28 days to go. Shipping is estimated to begin in October 2021, with products hopefully in hand before Christmas.


Find the Gomi Speaker on Kickstarter.

We designed the Gomi Speakers to be a breath of fresh air into the world of environmentally-friendly consumer tech. We’re the first company to create fully-circular tech products made from post-consumer waste materials that would usually end up in landfill, giving them a second life. We’re on a mission to prove that tech can be environmentally-friendly, fully-circular, whilst also being high-performance and aesthetic.

Tom Meades, co-founder, Gomi

We’re really excited to see how Gomi has managed to give a new, second life to our old batteries. Their technical expertise and innovative product line offers an exciting opportunity to re-use parts that would otherwise have been recycled, and turn them into stylish everyday essentials that will last a lifetime.

Andrew Savage, Vice President of Sustainability, Lime

SoundCloud’s new user-centric payment system is revolutionary, but there is a catch

This week SoundCloud announced the brand new way in which they will be paying artists to make streaming royalties fairer for smaller artists with dedicated fans. Sadly not every artist will gain from this.

The new user-centric payment system announced by SoundCloud this week is game changing. Rumoured to be on its way at the start of February, SoundCloud have made huge announcements revealing that yes it is coming – and very soon!

It pays artists out based on the revenue generated by their actual listeners. What this means is that someone paying a £10 subscription who listens to only one artist, all of the streaming revenue pay-out from that £10 goes to that artist.

It is incredible news, particularly for smaller artists and labels with dedicated communities and fans. The previous system, and the one adopted by all major streaming services, means that all streaming revenues go into a large pot and are then distributed based on a percentage of streams amongst all of the song streams in a period.

Does SoundCloud’s new user-centric payment system sound vastly more fair? Absolutely it does, especially if you are an independent artist or record label. SoundCloud’s move into this payment model is pioneering – Deezer have discussed it before but never managed to make the leap – however, sadly not all artists on SoundCloud will be benefitting from the new payment system.

Which artists are eligible for SoundCloud’s fan powered royalties?

The new user-centric payment system will only apply to artists who monetise their music directly with SoundCloud. So eligible artists include Pro Unlimited subscribers in the Premier Program, Repost by SoundCloud subscribers, and members of Repost Select.

It’s a brilliant move and unfortunately it is understandable that they can only provide it for direct distribution. The reason that Deezer haven’t been able to implement the model is that there is that there is sadly still resistance from major labels. Though they have said that they’ve been able to get “the majority of French labels” on board for an initial test in France, it hasn’t yet happened.

Hopefully with SoundCloud leading the way with the first to adopt a UCPS then the flood gates will be opened for others to try it. We know how much it could benefit the independent artists and labels we work with. We now eagerly await to see the results when the new payment system goes live for SoundCloud’s eligible users.

The new system of payments will begin on April 1st next month and eligible Premier artists will receive their first statement in May whilst Repost artists will see their first report in June.