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Hello everyone -

It feels like a strange thing to write in 2019, but it would appear the issue of buying YouTube views is once again rearing its head, this time via Latin America. This whole area is certainly familiar to us here at Motive Unknown, as we've commented a fair few times in the past that TrueView ads are tantamount to the dodgy view-buying operations out there, as they can often pull in a view for a couple of pence/cents such that thousands or even millions could theoretically be purchased for a modest sum. However it always felt like a waste of time and a hollow victory from where we are sat; in the end fake is fake and you're not creating anything meaningful here.

Elsewhere, further merch company consolidation continues with the news that Sony have purchased Kontraband. Merch as part of the majors respective operations feels like an under-covered topic to me. Universal bought Bravado, Warners have their own merch setup in place, and all are offered in roll-up deals to artists, presenting this as a one-stop-shop for their needs. Is that really the best solution though? I'm not so sure, particularly as merch itself is becoming less of a specialised area and one that those with the right means can setup themselves.

Finally, in what has spontaneously become a week of data tracking coverage, it is interesting to note that the team at Brave, the privacy-focused web browser, have uncovered what they claim is the means by which Google are circumventing GDPR regulations with their ad platform. If true, this is a potentially huge story, as it could see the tech giant hit with a massive fine if proven to be the case. Not a pre-GDPR one either; with that law now firmly in place (and the fines along with it), this could be a multi-billion dollar problem for them, and not something they can just sweep under the carpet...

Have a great evening,

D.

STORIES FROM THE MUSIC INDUSTRY:
‘They Legitimized Buying Views’: How YouTube Ads Impact Latin Music
Another reason that TrueView ads might have particular prevalence in the Latin market is that these campaigns are cheaper to run outside of the U.S. The first Latin label employee estimates that $1,000 might get an artist between 250,000 and 500,000 views from countries in Latin and South America. The cost per view in the U.S. could be five to ten times as much. The cheapest views come from countries like Turkey, the Philippines, and India. Promoting a new video with TrueView ads is supposed to function like a squirt of lighter fluid on smoldering coals. “You say, this is just giving me a head start so the song appears to have a strong release,” the executive explains.  That appearance of a strong release can then be trumpeted in marketing campaigns. “10 million views in the first 24 hours, 20 million views in the first 24 hours!” the second Latin label employee jokes. “Bro — it’s not real.”
Sony Music UK acquires merchandise company, Kontraband
The past 12 months have seen significant consolidation in the global merchandise business. In January Universal Music Group bought Los Angeles-based merch maker Epic Rights – a deal which itself arrived just three months after Warner acquired German merch and e-commerce company EMP for $180m. Kontraband’s acquisition by Sony Music UK also follows last month’s deal in which Sony Music’s US merchandising division, The Thread Shop, acquired the music merch division of The Araca Group for an undisclosed fee. Sony Music UK says that the acquisition of Kontraband will enhance and strengthen its presence in “this growing area of the music business” and will see Kontraband working collaboratively with each of Sony Music’s labels and their artist rosters.
Is Artificial Intelligence about to transform the sync industry?
Today, (September 4), a new twist on AI arrives via a fresh partnership between production music library Audio Network and Singapore-based machine learning company, Musiio. In a nutshell, Audio Network – which was acquired for $215m by Entertainment One earlier this year – will now be able to provide its clients with an AI-enhanced search function to help them find the right track amongst’s AN’s 170,000-strong catalog. Singapore-based Musiio claims it can provide B2B clients a new way of “listening” to music at scale, searching up to one million tracks in under two seconds.
A2IM, RIAA, MAC Join To Fight AB5 Bill That Would Kill Indie Music In California
Think of a 14-year-old kid in her bedroom making music. Is she capable of becoming an employer and providing punch cards, time sheets, guaranteed meal breaks, health care, retirement benefits, overtime pay calculation, mandatory tax withholdings?  Think of N.W.A. when they were making independent records in Compton, faced with the expense and administrative burden of becoming employers. In 2019, the opportunities to make music independently are endless, and this law threatens to quash that innovation.
Music launches on Facebook and Instagram across 15 countries in Latin America
Starting today (September 4) Facebook and Instagram music products are now available in 15 additional countries across Latin America. Those products include Music Stickers on Stories, Lip Sync Live and the ability to add songs to your Facebook profile, including pinning songs to the top of a profile. The additional countries are Colombia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Uruguay, Paraguay, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Panama and Nicaragua.
 
BROADER STORIES FROM THE WORLD OF TECH:
Brave browser catches Google tracking users with hidden web pages
Brave, the budding privacy-focused browser with its own native cryptocurrency, has alleged that Google is using hidden web pages to feed personal data of its users to advertisers, reports Financial Times. The evidence, now in the hands of the Irish data regulator, reportedly accuses the Big G of allowing users (and their browsing habits) to be profiled, resulting in targeted advertisements. It’s claimed that these actions circumvent EU privacy regulations that demand user consent, as well as transparency from tech giants like Google.
GDP-arrrrrrgggghhh! A no-deal Brexit: So what are you going to do with all that lovely data?
No deal means the UK would immediately become a "third country" outside the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules. "EU controllers, those who are in charge of data, will be prohibited from transferring data to the UK as a matter of law," says Kathryn Wynn, a legal director and data protection expert at law firm Pinsent Masons. Such transfers would only be legal if specific agreements were in place, as is the case for organisations based in India or the United States. The UK might allow personal data to travel to the EEA, although that may be of limited use if similar data cannot flow the other way, and a "no deal" exit would not stop individual Europeans sending their own data to the UK.
Google's paid search ads are a 'shakedown': Basecamp CEO Jason Fried
Basecamp CEO and co-founder Jason Fried sounded off against the practice Tuesday, calling it a “shakedown” and saying it’s like ransom to have to pay up just to be seen in results. “When Google puts 4 paid ads ahead of the first organic result for your own brand name, you’re forced to pay up if you want to be found,” he tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a shakedown. It’s ransom. But at least we can have fun with it. Search for Basecamp and you may see this attached ad.”
Jeremy Renner’s app is shutting down because of trolls
Renner explained the shutdown in a goodbye post. “Due to clever individuals that were able to manipulate ways to impersonate me and others within the app, I have asked ESCAPEX, the company that runs this app, to shut it down immediately and refund anyone who has purchased any stars over the last 90 days,” he wrote. Stars are the app’s version of currency. “What was supposed to be a place for fans to connect with each other has turned into a place that is everything I detest and can’t or won’t condone.”
Ninja’s Gears 5 exclusive stream exposes the messy ethics of his Microsoft and Mixer deals
Critics and other streamers wondered if playing the game was an additional paid sponsorship, part of Blevins’ existing contract, or just special treatment as a result of his success on Mixer. Mike Futter, a journalist and games industry analyst, tweeted that even if Blevins wasn’t receiving additional payment for streaming Gears 5, “if it’s part of his contract, viewers should know.” In a tweet, Blevins said he was “partnering with Microsoft” for the stream.
Still looking for more? Here's five articles you should check out:
The coming death of just about every rock legend
Why the Forgotten Music of the 2003 to 2012 Era Should Be Celebrated
How to Really Listen to Music
Millennials making travel a priority more than previous generations
The Book of Prince

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