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All in your new-look Digest
Hello everyone,

An interesting story emerging today is that of Joe Budden taking his podcast off Spotify, citing a number of grievances. Financial ones aside, Budden has taken the opportunity to throw fuel on the "Spotify doesn't care about artists" narrative (to the delight of critics no doubt), stating that the company only really cares about its own growth, with no real interest in the podcasters themselves. Of course, the counterpoint as ever remains Apple, who often seem to pop up at moments like this to remind people of how they do care about creators on their platform. Set your countdown to it happening again here.

With general music stories slowing being summer and all (albeit a very odd summer for most), the bigger stories sit outside the music industry specifically - and right now, Apple is at the centre of most of them. On the one hand we have the company's battle with Epic regarding in-app purchase percentages. Having tried to get the Unreal engine also banned from the platform (since overturned by a judge), Apple certainly isn't holding back on trying to shut this case down by any means necessary. Quite how this will all play out remains to be seen.

Elsewhere, Facebook - to my amusement, I must confess - is crying foul over Apple's decision to make data sharing something users will now opt in to on iOS 14. In short the situation will be similar to GDPR: users will have to explicitly opt in to sharing their private data, rather than opt out. Facebook, unsurprisingly, is crying foul, saying this move will massively impact its revenue in one specific space.

This is a detail worth noting: whilst Facebook is claiming revenues will be hit, it is only referring to the data it gathers outside of its own ecosystem - and in reality, that ecosystem is by far the lion's share of their revenue.

So why am I amused by this? Only really because it has been interesting to see the near-unilateral response to this from users, which can be best summarised as "Cry us a river". Facebook cares about this a lot. Users? They appear to be seeing this as just desserts for a company that has used and abused data for so long now. 

Have a great evening,

D.

STORIES FROM THE MUSIC INDUSTRY:
Joe Budden is taking his podcast off Spotify because the company ‘is pillaging’ his audience
“Spotify never cared about this podcast individually,” he says. “Spotify only cared about our contribution to the platform.” The company wanted him to read ads, and he refused, making it one of the only shows to not be monetized on the platform. He says he and Spotify differ on where “podcasting is taking us for the next five years.” “I am not going to succumb to any bad deal that is not working favorably toward the people who have created that path.”
Inside TikTok’s Hidden Hit Machine
But, while TikTok is inarguably a breeding ground for hit songs, it hasn’t yet proven the ability to turn its emerging music artists into household names. Other than Lil Nas X, few performers discovered through TikTok have managed to leverage their 15 minutes of fame into a certifiable career, so far, and some music execs have their doubts about the platform’s capacity to create lasting stars.
Penny Fractions: Spotify is an Audio Company (If It Wants)
A decade of waiting for Spotify to turn into a profitable business in a way limits our understanding of how much success it has actually achieved so far. It’s one of the world’s largest audio-focused platforms and there’s no reason to wait for its billionth user to put it under more regulatory scrutiny now. Soon it won’t just be artists up in arms about why Spotify isn’t paying a perceived fair wage for their labor.
Napster sold to MelodyVR in $70m deal, including $44m owed to record labels and other partners
According to an SEC filing from Napster’s previous majority-owner, RealNetworks, it comprises $15m in cash, $11m in Melody VR stock and “assumption by MelodyVR of approximately $44m in payment obligations, primarily to various music industry entities”. So MelodyVR, which posted a £15m ($19m) net loss in calendar 2019 on revenues of £195k ($242k) , appears to have agreed to cover said payment obligations to record labels, music publishers etc.
Triller inks strategic alliance with JioSaavn to boost reach in India
Los-Angeles based Triller and India-born music streaming service JioSaavn have entered into a long-term exclusive partnership that will see JioSaavn integrated with TRILLER over the next few months, which a press release states will drive “growth and subscribers for both services”. Earlier this year the music service announced a New “Living Search” with recommendations and Shorties – 15 second looping visuals to accompany select tracks.
Techstars Music goes virtual and promises founder diversity
Its managing director Bob Moczydlowsky is also promising that the startups chosen for the next program will have a diverse range of founders. “Techstars Music is committed to 50% of our program CEOs being diverse — with a particular focus on Black, LGBTQ+ and female founders,” he wrote in a blog post kicking off the recruitment process. “Black and LGBTQ+ culture are undeniable drivers of global music culture, and we believe startups led by individuals who identify with these cultures are best-positioned to shape the future of the business. Our program will use this benchmark of 50% Diverse CEOs going forward.”
IFPI takes aim at more 'music streaming manipulation' sites
Global music body the IFPI is continuing its battle against ‘streaming manipulation’ services. Together with German body BVMI, it has secured court injunctions against the operators of five websites promising to inflate artists’ streaming counts artificially. The sites are Socialnow·de, Socialgeiz·de, Likergeiz·de, Netlikes and Likesandmore, with a sixth site (Fanexplosion·de) having already removed the relevant service in response to a cease and desist letter. “Streaming manipulation companies deprive right holders of revenue and mislead consumers. We are committed to tackling this problem,” said IFPI CEO Frances Moore.
Spotify inks exclusive deal with Riot Games to be official audio streaming partner for League of Legends Esports events
The collaboration will see Spotify and Riot Games produce a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Worlds Anthem, develop various podcast series, create curated playlists, and launch a new LoL Esports Music Hub on Spotify. Spotify will create curated playlists inspired by the League of Legends esports community.  Spotify also will serve as the presenting partner of Game 5.
Survey: 30% of musicians are planning weekly livestreams
On the fan side, 73% have tuned in to a livestream during lockdown; 60% say they’d like to continue watching these events even after the restrictions on large offline gatherings are lifted; and 80% say they’d be willing to pay to watch a livestream in order to help their favourite artist. As for artists, when Bandsintown surveyed them in April, 45% said they’d performed a livestream. Now, in August, that percentage is up to 75%.
Hundreds of artists are now earning $100k+ per year from streaming via Kobalt’s AWAL
Olinick’s certainly right about “multiple millions”: Not only did AWAL itself pull in over $111m in revenues in its previous financial year (up 86% YoY), but at the top of 2020, Raine Group forecast that the record music of independent artists – including artists working with service companies like AWAL – would generate more than $2bn over the course of this year. Added Olinick: “The structure we have built allows for artists to add gasoline to their fire. The data shows us it’s clearly paying off for many AWAL artists, with many going from tens of thousands in streaming revenue to hundreds of thousands or millions, in just one year with us."
STORIES FROM THE BROADER WORLD OF TECH:
TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer resigns after 100 days
Kevin Mayer, the chief executive of TikTok, announced on Wednesday that he is resigning, just over 100 days after the former Disney executive joined the world’s largest short-video app in mid-May. The news came on the heels of TikTok’s move to sue the U.S. government over its forthcoming ban. The app, owned by Chinese internet upstart ByteDance, is caught in tensions between Beijing and Washington, which accuses the app of posing a national security threat to the U.S.
Apple says Epic is ‘putting the entire App Store model at risk’
Elsewhere in the filing, Apple laid out a defense of its in-app purchase rules. “If developers can avoid the digital checkout, it is the same as if a customer leaves an Apple retail store without paying for shoplifted product: Apple does not get paid,” it reads. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has called Apple’s characterization of the series of events leading up to Fortnite’s removal as “misleading,” as he initially requested in an email that the App Store exemptions Epic sought be made available to all iOS developers.
Facebook says Apple ad-blocking settings could halve revenue
In the upcoming iOS 14, apps have to explicitly ask users' permission to collect and share data, meaning ads will no longer be able to just "follow" users to apps outside of Facebook. Users targeted in this way are eight times more likely to buy products, according to Facebook. But iOS 14 tests suggest "more than a 50% drop in... publisher revenue".
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