All the news from the world of music, tech and more...
Hello everyone -

In some senses it feels odd firing off an email that only contains one reference to Coronavirus. Elsewhere, it dominates headlines both within music and also beyond it. With Coachella the latest likely casualty and tours cancelling at a rate where we cannot even list them all, things are certainly looking grim. As one op-ed included below mentions though, it feels like the responses around this are perhaps yet to be really seen.

I saw a mention on Twitter that it would be cool if someone like Netflix, Apple or Amazon had stepped in to stream the films that were due to premiere at SXSW. Whilst over-simplifying things, I think there was some merit in it. I noted that elsewhere a conference I was due to attend next week has now been pulled, but replaced with a week of webinars ostensibly just streaming the panels without an audience. Not ideal, but still better than nothing.

So I am curious to see what the next few weeks holds. This has caught everyone slightly by surprise, but it also throws down interesting challenges. Without touring, what else can artists do to remain connected to fans? There will doubtless be some unexpected learnings to take from this, and I'm interested to see how that changes things for all of us.

In the meantime though, keep washing those hands, work from home if you can and stay safe.  

Have a great evening,  

Spotify, Amazon Argue Against Songwriter Rate Hike in Appeals Court
Tensions have been high since the appeal was made last March: The publishing community is understandably up in arms over this threat to a hard-won rate increase, while the streaming giants insist that they are not “suing songwriters,” which is how the appeal is often characterized. To be technically accurate, they’re not: Rather, they’re suing in part to pay songwriters less than the Copyright Royalty Board decided they should, and, all moral considerations aside, that is an argument they are legally entitled to make. However, songwriters and the publishing community have lambasted the streaming services over the move.
Spotify rolls out a more personalized home screen to users worldwide
Spotify has been slowly rolling out a redesigned mobile app in small sections — first with an update to podcast pages, then to other parts of the experience. Today, the company is revamping the most critical part of the Spotify app: the home screen. Now, when Spotify users launch the app, they’ll notice the new home screen greets them depending on what time of day it is with a “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon” or “Good Evening,” for example. But the screen’s content and recommendations will also change with the time of day, Spotify says, and the content has also been better organized so you more easily jump back in or browse recommendations from the main page.
Rihanna Unveils Fenty Beauty House Specifically for TikTok Users
Rihanna recently unveiled the Fenty Beauty TikTok House in Los Angeles, which fulfills her vision of providing the "next wave of content creators" with a space and set-up that will assist them in getting their ideas off the ground. "We are standing in the official first Fenty Beauty TikTok home," Rihanna said. "I just wanted to create a platform for the next wave of content creators. I think our generation is the sickest, the illest, the most creative. I can't do it alone, so to join in with the people who are influencing the world and my community and my generation, this is a hub."
How to deal with a Coronavirus-hit music business: 'It’s not fair' is not a strategy.
There is an old cliché which goes, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” If there is any upside to this current situation it is that there is small window of opportunity for companies to prepare for the potential storm ahead. This rarely happens and should be seized. The time to figure out your communications strategy is now. Not tomorrow, or the next day – now. You only get one reputation. It is the most precious thing you have; make sure you look after it.
When Diplo and The Strokes need a deepfake, they go to this guy
The Strokes look like they’re 20 years old again in their latest music video. That’d be impressive makeup work on a group of roughly 40-year-olds, but the band doesn’t appear in the music video at all: every one of their faces is a deepfake. The deepfakes were created by Paul Shales, whose meme pages have blown up over the past year. Under the moniker The Fakening, Shales has put Sen. Bernie Sanders into a dance troupe, turned President Donald Trump into a young girl, and added Joe Rogan to Star Wars. More recently, he went viral after inserting Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk into an episode of Star Trek — a creation he called “an easy deepfake” after he got frustrated working on some harder projects.
Maggie Collins warns artist managers are overworked, underpaid and unseen
The plight of artist managers, who are overworked, underpaid and unseen, has been documented in cold, hard reports. Collins’ social post, however, puts a human voice to the issue. In it, Collins points out, “We are not super humans. We are fucking exhausted. An alarming amount are suffering serious mental health problems due to burn-out because we have to do so much more than a manager of decades ago.” And when that work is done in a developmental stage, “we take 20% of almost nothing, it takes about three years to maybe pay-off, and then we face the threat of major competitors taking our artists and reaping all the rewards.”
The global recorded music business generated over $50m a day last year – and more than $2m of it went to DIY artists
The worldwide recorded music industry generated $21.5bn across all formats last year, growing 11.4%. That’s according to new numbers from trusted analysis platform Midia Research, which estimates that $11.9bn of this $21.5bn – some 56% – came from streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and YouTube. Interestingly, Midia has revised upwards its preliminary estimate for the ‘artist-direct’ sector, i.e. those DIY artists independently uploading their own music via platforms like Amuse, Ditto, TuneCore, CD Baby etc.
‘Who are you Jan Thiel?’ Zola Jesus uncovers new Spotify mystery
The EP simply lists Jan Thiel as the provider (i.e. no label or distributor details) while its three tracks credit Thiel as the performer, with no details of writers or producers. This artist really is a mystery, but given the speed with which their tracks were added to some of Spotify’s prominent concentration and piano playlists, Zola Jesus’ questions should not come as a surprise. The truth may well end up being that they’re not ‘fake f**king music’ but simply a production musician who came to editors’ attention by submitting one of those tracks via Spotify’s playlist-pitching tool – but if so, it would probably be a good idea for the streaming service to explain that fairly speedily.
Pex buys Dubset to build YouTube ContentID for TikTok & more
That’s where Pex comes in. The profitable royalty attribution startup founded in 2014 scans social networks and other user-generated content sites for rightsholders’ content. Pex then lets them negotiate licensing with the platforms, request a take-down, demand attribution and/or track the consumption statistics. It has collected a database of over 20 billion audio and video tracks found on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter and more. It’s like an independent YouTube ContentID. Today that business gets a big boost as Pex is acquiring Dubset, which has spent 10 years tackling the problem of getting remixes and multi-song DJ sets legalized for streaming on services like Spotify, to some success. The $11.3 million-funded Dubset does fingerprinting of 45 million tracks from over 50,000 rights holders down to the second so the artists behind the source material get paid.
Spotify unveils new RADAR global emerging artist program
According to a post published in Spotify’s official newsroom today, through the new global emerging-artist program ‘RADAR’, the platform says that it’ll be “deepening [its] commitment to emerging artists at all stages of their development and strengthening their connection to audiences”. Adds Spotify: “With this global launch, we’ll continue to build on Spotify’s history of working with emerging artists through 19 sister programs featuring up-and-coming creators from more than 50 markets worldwide, all focused on helping artists from around the world reach the next stage in their careers.”
Marketers look to reap benefits of Apple’s new push notification ad rules
Push notifications have higher open rates than email, but until now push notifications have largely represented an “unexploited opportunity for consumer engagement” between brand owners and consumers, said Rafe Blandford, chief product officer at Digitas UK. The policy change “will allow a more direct link to revenue driving journeys, so I would expect it to increase app-linked revenue for apps that have transactional elements,” he added. Still, app owners should beware “death by notification,” said Gillian Bell, director of digital services at marketing communications agency Wake The Bear. “It has to be benefit-led versus, ‘We have inventory to sell and we need to push more product’ … in the app environment people are less forgiving — make too many mistakes and, boom, you’re gone.”
Reddit takes on Twitter with its first trending ad product
he new ad unit will allow brands to reach visitors on two of the most heavily visited areas of Reddit’s website: the Search tab and the Popular feed. The ad format allows the brands’ campaigns to run across the largest trends on Reddit’s site for 24 hours, Reddit says. The trends section is where users can see what’s currently buzzing and being discussed across the site, similar to the Trends section on Twitter, which can also be targeted by advertisers.
Facebook Stories tests cross-posting to its pet, Instagram
Facebook’s latest colonization of Instagram has begun. Facebook is testing the option to cross-post Stories to Instagram, instead of just vice-versa. Hopefully, that means the two apps will finally sync up the “already viewed” status of cross-posted Stories so we don’t have to watch re-runs any more, as I harped about in January. If fully launched, the cross-posting feature could save social media managers and average users time while letting them maximize the views on the content they create.
Adtech giant Criteo is being investigated by France’s data watchdog
Yesterday it said the French regulator has finally opened a probe of Criteo. “CNIL’s confirmation that they are investigating Criteo is important and we warmly welcome it,” it said in the  statement. “The AdTech ecosystem is based on vast privacy infringements, exploiting people’s data on a daily basis. Whether its through deceptive consent banners or by infesting mental health websites these companies enable a surveillance environment where all you moves online are tracked to profile and target you, with little space to contest.”
Still looking for more? Here's five other great articles worth a read:
How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America
Playground behaviour in the cultural industries
11 Rare Hip-Hop Documentaries You Can Watch Right Now
The 12 best DJ mixes from Andrew Weatherall archive The Weatherdrive
Malawi legalises the growing, selling and export of cannabis

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign