Universal Music Group signs licensing deal with TikTok rival Lomotif

Image credit: Lomotif

Universal Music Group has officially inked a licensing deal with Singapore based Lomotif, a TikTok rival.

Universal Music Group (UMG) has officially signed a licensing deal with TikTok rival Lomotif. Under the agreement, Lomotif users will be able to “create clips using songs from the big three record label and easily add UMG’s music to a clip right from the app”, according to the agreement. 

Lomotif is one of several short-form video platforms that are taking on TikTok. So far, Lomotif has racked up roughly 225 million installations, is available across over 200 countries and in 300+ languages. The platform is especially popular in Brazil, which houses 210 million residents, not to mention an ever-growing music industry that is stream-driven. Lomotif also boasts a sizeable user base, consisting of roughly 31 million MAU’s (monthly active users), according to their report. In addition to this, their audience watches approximately 300 million videos per month with a total of some 740 on-platform videos. 

Speaking on the UMG licensing deal, Lomotiff founder and CEO Paul Yang said: “Our deal with Universal Music Group will continue to grow users and increase engagement within our platform, a destination for emerging artists, and will significantly expand the types of music our community can utilize, collaborate with and share.” He adds: “With nearly 800 million videos created to date, we are heading in a great direction as a platform, and making high-value content, functionality, and features available to our community will only help us grow exponentially.”

Nothing launch their first product – ear (1) $99 true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation

Image Credit: Nothing

Consumer technology venture from OnePlus’ ex-CEO and co-founder Carl Pei debut their first product, the ear (1) wireless earbuds.

In September, Carl Pei left OnePlus to start his new consumer hardware electronics venture “Nothing”. Last February, Pei announced Nothing’s first product would be earbuds, due to launch in summer. Today we got our first glimpse at ear (1) from their official launch event held on one of the most successful tech YouTube channels Unbox Therapy. Carl Pei and more of the Nothing team joined Lewis Hilsenteger from Unbox Therapy, along with YouTuber and Nothing investor Casey Neistat.


ear (1) are wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation. Featuring a unique transparent design, Nothing stress how they created the earbuds from scratch, rather than following the design of AirPods as so many other companies have done. At just 4.7g, each earbud is ultra light, with pressure-relieving vents, an ergonomic design and customisable fit thanks to three liquid silicon tips to ensure maximum comfort. The composite mesh design improves sweat and water resistance, with an IPX4 rating.

11.6mm speaker drivers and spacious air chambers hope to provide advanced bass, mid and treble performance, with sound tuned by the audiophiles at Swedish consumer electronics and audio company Teenage Engineering. As is now common among wireless earbuds, active noise cancellation removes unwanted background noise such as airplane engines or office chat, while Transparent mode bring in outside noises with a touch, so you can stay aware of your surroundings. For calls, Clear Voice Technology and three high-definition mics, as well as advanced algorithms isolate and amplify your voice by referencing a million voice and sound combinations. This can even remove wind noise up to 40km/h.

Image Credit: Nothing

Nothing’s ear (1) connect to your phone via Bluetooth 5.2. The buds automatically pause when when they’re removed from your ears and pick up where they left off when re-entered. In the ear (1) iOS and Android app, you’ll find customisation options for the equalizer and touch gestures, plus Find My Earbuds to help you track your lost buds. Fast Pair enables one-touch connection with compatible Android devices by simply opening the case. On a single charge, the earbuds will last 5.7 hours, with the case providing a total of 34 hours. These number are reduced to 4 hours and 24 hours respectively with ANC turned on.

Image Credit: Nothing

Nothing’s ear (1) earbuds will go on sale for $99 on August 17th across 45 countries. A limited sale will take place on the Nothing site on 31st July. Click here and enter your email address to sign up to information on availability. We’re looking forward to seeing how these perform once they start shipping.

Tencent Music fined and ordered to end its exclusive label deals in China

Image Credit: Tencent Music

Chinese music giant Tencent Music is being forced by regulators to give up exclusive music rights in China – coupled with a hefty fine.

A competition regulator has given Tencent Music 30 days to end exclusive deals it holds with labels in China. The music giant has also been fined 500,000 yuan ($77,143) by China’s State Administration of Market Regulation.

Tencent Music, the biggest music streaming company in China, holds a number of exclusive rights to record label catalogues in the region. It must now give up the exclusive global deals, though it can keep the exclusive deals with independent artists.

Already under scrutiny for its dominance of the Chinese music market, Tencent had faced being forced to sell its three music streaming services Kuwo, QQ Music, and KuGou, a threat it has dodged.

Tencent said it would “comply with all the regulatory requirements, fulfil our social responsibilities and contribute to healthy competition in the market.” The company will have to report to the regulator for the next three years to check it is completing its obligations.

We’ve spoken a lot recently about the re-emergence of music streaming exclusives – deals between platforms and artists to release music that is available only on one streaming service. Great for the streaming company, giving the platform a unique selling point, but historically loathed by labels and government officials; by listeners, too, who resent being unable to listen to a release without signing up to another subscription.

Exclusives ebbed away around 2017 following warnings that the practice would drive up prices and after music piracy began to rocket. In 2021 however, streaming exclusives have begun to creep back, with the likes of Deezer launching exclusive covers of ‘80s songs, Kanye West’s new album Donda debuting as a livestream premiere on Apple Music. There doesn’t seem to be a return however to the purchase of rights, which means that entire official releases will be out everywhere and not just shackled to one streaming service.

Tencent Music had already began to draw back from exclusive deals – it no longer holds exclusive licensing agreement with Sony Music, for example, which allowed the company to sign a deal with NetEase Cloud Music. Tencent no longer has exclusive deals with any of the “Big Three” record labels, potentially opening up the door for a fairer market in the Chinese music industry.  

Amazon Music partners Metropolis Studios to expand on spatial audio offerings

Image credit: Campaign

Amazon Music continues its push into immersive and spatial audio with partnership with Metropolis Studios.

Amazon Music has shown it’s looking to expand its immersive sounds and spatial audio capabilities by forming a content partnership with Metropolis Studios, an independent studio based in West London. The studio has recently added a 3D audio facility and will become the streaming services UK-based HQ for immersive mixing.

Metropolis worked with content expert Sonosphere on the design of the new studio as well as the specifications to help support its creative mix workflow. Loudspeakers have been installed around the room at 30 degrees separation with the studio having immersive audio monitoring designed to cater for all surround formats, including Dolby Atmos. The placement of the speakers helps create the 360-degree spatial audio, meaning that the sound of each instrument will come from its location, meaning the listener will feel surrounded by the music.

Artists who have partnered with Amazon Music to create immersive mixes are The Amazons, Emma McGrath, James Ried, and many more. The aforementioned mixes will be available late summer and boast Amazon Music‘s continued expansion and investment into 3D audio formats.

Speaking on the partnership Patrick Clifton, head of music, Amazon Music UK, told Campaign: “We have a belief that music fans want to listen to music in the highest quality possible. Any work we do to ask fans what they want always tells us that high-quality audio is really important to them and this technology now allows us to offer that.

“We also know that artists want their fans to hear music in the best quality possible and are always excited to deliver their music as it’s intended to be heard. It blows me away, its ability to capture so much more emotion in the music than we’re able to do in stereo.”

High quality free stock images for artists

Get the lowdown on the world of stock images, and exactly where you can find beautiful free stock images to call your own!

When you’re a musician, you often end up referring to yourself as an artist. Why is that? I have a theory; of course, music is an art, so that would be the simple explanation. But, being a musician means having a handle on so many other creative areas. It’s quicker to simply refer to yourself as an artist, rather than list everything else. Composer, musician, producer, photographer, video editor, marketing and PR whizz… Phew!

To help you tick off one of the responsibilities on your long list a little quicker, we’re going to let you in on a tip. Read on to find out where you can find the best free stock images for all uses. Whether it’s artwork for album covers, pictures for promo campaigns, or snaps for commercials, you won’t be disappointed.


What are Stock Images?

As an artist, you’re probably well aware that the shadowy realm of copyright can be a confusing one. You may have pulled a cool image from a website, or found a nice shot by a photographer you want to use for your album artwork. But, if you don’t own the image, or you haven’t licensed it, you could run into trouble.

This is where stock images come in. Don’t panic, you don’t have to become a photography or graphics genius to sort your artwork out. Stock images are photographs that have been licensed for specific uses. They can be available for free or at a price, it depends on where you get them from.


What Uses Do Stock Images Have?

You think of a potential use for an image, and I’ll tell you if you can use a stock image for that. Go! …Yes, you can.

In all seriousness, the beauty of stock images is that you can, more often than not, use them for pretty much anything you like. Whack an image on the cover of your latest album, EP or single, or splice them into your new promo video. Since you’re hoping to make some money from your music, these all count as commercial uses. But, stock images can be used for commercial uses, giving you that all important freedom. We love freedom as independent artists, don’t we?


Benefits of Using Free Stock Images

Why should you opt for stock images, instead of just cherry-picking the best of Google? Well, the main reason is that legally, that just won’t fly. And, when it comes to RouteNote’s image upload requirements, your artwork won’t make it past moderation.

Using stock images in order to avoid delays in getting your music to the public seems like a pretty attractive benefit all by itself.

You may have noticed the frequent use of the “F” word in this article. That’s right, free. It’s certainly no dirty word, and as an independent artist, what’s better than a bit of money saving?

Your music sounds great. You spend painstaking hours on your vocal production, obsessively tweaking the EQ. Why, then, would you let the quality slip when it comes to the images you use? Opting for stock images from a reputable source means automatic quality assurance. No matter what image you go for, you know the quality is going to match that of your sounds. That’s the kind of peace of mind everybody can get behind.

Finally, it takes a whole lot of precious time to produce awesome music whilst building a following, and juggling everything else that comes with being an artist. This is another huge benefit of sticking with stock images for any visual assets you need on a project. When you know the licensing side of things has been taken care of, you can spend more time on your tracks and less time worrying about copyright.

But, where to find a reputable source that offers high quality free stock images for these purposes, you ask?


Synchedin, Baby
Screenshot example of synchedin.com home page

No longer just royalty free music and creative commons sound effects, Synchedin has branched out into the world of stock images!

An extensive and ever-growing catalogue of images geared towards creative types like yourselves, Synchedin will soon be your go-to choice for all your image needs. Choose from a range of CC0 (creative commons) images for free, or subscribe to get access to the entire catalogue for just $3.99 per month.

As an official partner of RouteNote, Synchedin is sort of like family. It’s important to look out for family, which is why all RouteNote users can get 10% off when they sign up to Synchedin! Simply use the code 10SYNC, and the discount will be applied to whichever subscription package you pick.

How to set up a music livestream

Need some livestreaming tips? Check out our advice for how to do a livestream performance successfully.

Thinking of going live and playing some music online to a virtual audience? Luckily, you don’t need complicated equipment to perform a livestream gig.

To set up a music livestream, at the very basic level all you need is a device to stream from like a smartphone or a computer. Find a place to set up free from outside distractions, where you’ll get the clearest sound and video quality possible.

Whether you’re playing a live producer set to a ticketed audience or just going live on Instagram at home for some on-the-fly publicity, aim for as professional a performance as possible. Even though you might feel like you’re just playing to your own reflection, it’s still a public gig. Think about how your surroundings will appear to viewers onscreen – things like lighting and backdrop are more important than you’d think.

Look into using some free broadcast software, like OBS Studio, which will help you get organised and set up easily and let you stream on social media in high quality. That’ll help you beat the inevitable lag in streaming, because even if you have the speediest connection going, there’s inevitably going to be some technical hiccups – try and embrace them as part of the intimate experience for your watching audience.

Playing to a livestream audience as a substitute for a live gig? If you plan on playing a lot more live streams in the future, it’s worth investing in some decent kit – a microphone and audio interface, and a good webcam.

Don’t forget to promote your music live stream before the event, just as you would an in-person gig, so you have a guaranteed audience. Post across your social media platforms in the run up to the stream, but try not to stress too much about how many people will tune in.

Check out 10 more tips for livestreaming your gig here.

Amazon Music’s new Spotlight feature lets artists connect directly with fans

Image Credit: YouTube

Amazon announce many new features and tools for their smart assistant at their third annual Alexa Live developer conference.

With over 130,000 skills, Amazon’s Alexa helps make homes smarter and more secure, connect you with loved ones, and stay informed and entertained while at home and on-the-go. Today Alexa is built-in to hundreds of products such as PCs, wearables, smart home devices and cars. Amazon’s annual Alexa Live conference announces all of the new developer features and tools to help drive discovery, growth and engagement. While the full blog post lists more than 50 new features, we take a look at two of the most exciting Entertaining and Immersive Experiences.


Spotlight

Amazon Music’s new Spotlight feature lets artists connect directly with fans by uploading a recorded message or creating one in the Amazon Music for Artists mobile app. The message can promote new music or shine a light on the creative process. Tones and I, and Little Simz are the first two artists to record personalized Spotlight messages. You can hear these in the Amazon music app from the artist profile pages or by asking Alexa, “Alexa, play the Tones and I Spotlight”.


DJ Song Request

Millions of people use Alexa-enabled devices every day to listen to music, radio and podcasts. DJ Song Request allows radio listeners to request and dedicate songs to radio DJs via Alexa. Soon you’ll simply be able to ask Alexa to request a song on a station and who to dedicate it to. You can apply for the Song Request Skill Component developer preview today here.


Watch the video below highlighting the new DJ Song Request feature from iHeartRadio’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Williams, and Spotlight from Amazon Music’s VP, Steve Boom.

Kanye West’s ‘Donda’ Apple Music exclusive livestream breaks records

Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Universal Music Group via Pitchfrok

Kanye West’s exclusive Applke Music livestream of his tenth studio album ‘Donda’ was viewed by 3.3 million people.

Apple Music is ramping up its exclusive content in recent months, firstly by adding a weekly segment called ‘This Week in Apple Music’, which features exclusive interviews and previews. And more recently the global livestream event that premiered Kanye West’s hotly-anticipated new album ‘Donda’. The exclusive event was hosted at the Mercedez-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, which Kanye is now rumored to be living at until the album is complete.

According to TMZ, the livestream saw 3.3 million people tune, an Apple Music record. The previous record-holder was 1.8 million viewers for a Verzuz battle between Gucci Mane and Jeezy that was livestreamed last year.

The album is yet to be released and was recently delayed but according to a tweet from a former basketball player and social media personality Justin LaBoy ‘Donda’ will be available on August 6th.

Spotify ‘What’s New’ is a feed of all the latest releases from the artists and podcasts you follow

Image Credit: Spotify

‘What’s New’ from Spotify brings together all of the new single, albums and podcasts from all of the artists and creators you follow.

With over 50,000 hours of content uploaded to Spotify every day, it can be difficult to keep track of the latest releases from your favourite artists and podcast creators. Personalized playlists such as Discover Weekly and Release Radar do a good job of highlighting new and unheard tracks Spotify thinks you’ll love based on your interests, but What’s New ditches the algorithm to brings together all of the latest releases from the artists and podcast shows you follow.

You’ll find What’s New behind the new bell icon in the upper right corner of the Home tab on the Spotify app. Updated in real time, a blue dot indicator shows when new releases have been added. The list is ordered by release time/date, with the newest unheard content showing at the top, followed by older content you’ve already seen. Filters at the top of the page will allow you to view just Music or Podcasts & Shows. To add more content to What’s New, be sure to follow all of your favourite artists and creators on Spotify.

The new feature will be rolling out to all users globally on iOS and Android in the coming weeks.

Video Credit: Spotify

What is Audiomack?

Image Credit: Audiomack

Step this way to learn more about free music app Audiomack.

Similar to SoundCloud in that anyone can upload music and anyone can listen for free, Audiomack aims to promote emerging artists. Since 2012 Audiomack has been primarily a free music streaming service, and now has over 17 million monthly active users. Even as it has grown in popularity the platform still has a focus on boosting the online presence and careers of independent artists.

whats audiomack
Image Credit: Audiomack

Concentrating on select genres including hip-hop and EDM, Audiomack includes free mixtapes from new young artists trying to find an audience. On the platform are albums, podcasts, songs and mixtapes, with trending charts and curated playlists. Audiomack also offers an ad-free Premium tier for $4.99 a month.

Audiomack is available as an iOS and Android app as well as on desktop. Free features for artists include unlimited uploads, stats, monetisation, scheduling tools and embeddable players to share uploads elsewhere online.

It’s not just new artists on the platform – there’s also big-name artists like Eminem, who chose to release his 2018 Machine Gun Kelly diss track “Killshot” on Audiomack. Eminem’s spontaneous release also highlights the continued organic DIY nature of the platform, despite licensing deals with the Big Three record labels of Warner, Sony and Universal Music. At the start of this year, Billboard announced that Audiomack streaming data would be included in its charts.

Audiomack’s accessible and forward-thinking platform make it one to watch in the streaming world for the future.