All in your new-look Digest!
Hello everyone,

So surely there is only one question we've been asking today: "Will Trump's war on Chinese companies threaten the companies for whom Tencent is an investor?" After all, the initial reports back from this story suggested that the US Govt had now extended it's war on Chinese tech companies beyond TikTok to include Tencent Holdings too. As regular readers will know, Tencent now owns a stake in... well... most music companies. Cherie Hu provided this diagram back in June which summed up just what a complex web of ownership the company is a part of, and that illustrates the problem.

Except... it would appear that Trump has broken with tradition and potentially be rather careful with his words here. As MBW explains below, it looks like in fact the music and gaming companies that Tencent holds a stake in may not now be covered by this new Executive Order. If that is the case, the likes of Spotify, Universal and Warner Music among others might now be breathing a sigh of relief.

Elsewhere, a good article worth digging into highlights how Twitch, Discord and Bandcamp are increasingly becoming fertile ground for hip hop artists looking to influence and connect with audiences out there. The community aspects of Bandcamp are starting to show their strengths, but equally I think the growth Discord as a kind of return to the forums of the turn of the century shows that certain communities are moving away from Facebook and other social platforms to something a little more focused. I'm all for that. Take a read below - inspiring stuff.

Have a great weekend,


Donald Trump’s ban on TikTok and Tencent’s WeChat appears to get Universal, Warner off the hook
That “related to WeChat” bit is obviously very important here. Had the WeChat letter followed the structure of the Bytedance letter (i.e. not specifically making the ban relate only to the digital platform in question), all US-based entities would presumably be blocked from continuing, or at least beginning, a commercial relationship with Tencent. Luckily for UMG and WMG, this does not appear to be the case. Indeed, the Trump administration has confirmed to the LA Times that a number of US-based video games companies in which Tencent owns a stake – including Fortnite maker Epic Games – will not be affected by the WeChat ban.
Bandcamp, Twitch & Discord: The New Online Rap Communities
Four years later, in time for Discord to rechristen itself as a space for more than just gaming chats, HHD now boasts over 45,000 active users. “You might not know who is chiming in (though often not the case, we have regulars), but it turns every conversation into some sort of round table talk,” moderator Bob Botanist explains. With its growing numbers, one of HHD’s biggest features has become its celebrity guest cameos. Artists from California rapper Dumbfoundead to North Carolina rapper MAVI have taken part in “ask me anything” sessions—AMAs for short—with fans. Pusha-T announced his upcoming collaborative album with Madlib during an AMA on the server this past March
Amazon Music launches new global brand to promote artist catalogs
Amazon Music ahas launched what it calls [RE]DISCOVER, a new global brand developed to support artist catalogs across all music genres. [RE]DISCOVER, according to Amazon Music, “showcases carefully-curated artist playlists across various genres and takes listeners on a career-spanning journey of musical discovery, or re-discovery, through the featured artist’s entire body of work” The brand launched yesterday (August 5) with Bob Marley named as the first ‘Artist of the Month’.
COVID-19 hit major labels much harder than it did Spotify
The three key takeaways from all this are: Streaming revenue growth was already slowing. COVID-19 shows us just how important it is to push new growth drivers Spotify is already working on its new growth driver (i.e. podcasts) and though the slowdown in the digital ad market will dent momentum, podcasts will further decouple Spotify revenue from that of the majors The more likely scenario remains that streaming and label revenues will pick up before year end, but if the recession deepens and swathes of millennials lose their jobs, then subscription revenue could be hit, which brings us back to takeaway #1
88.4% of videos on YouTube generate fewer than 1,000 views
Elsewhere in the report, Pex notes that music “became ‘more valuable’ on YouTube” last year. As previously reported by MBW back in April, despite making up just 5% of all content on the platform, music actually accounted for 22% of all views last year (see below), a 2% increase from 2018. The Entertainment category, meanwhile, accounted for 10%, People and Blogs (21%), Gaming (37%) , and Other (19%) while Film & Animation also accounted for 5%.
TikTok says Trump’s ban attempt shows ‘no adherence to the law’
TikTok has hit back at President Trump’s executive order to ban all transactions with its parent company ByteDance from September 20th, saying it shows “no adherence to the law.” The Chinese firm says the executive order was issued “without any due process” after a year in which it claims it has tried to address the US government’s concerns over its app. TikTok suggests it intends to challenge the order in US courts. “We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly — if not by the Administration, then by the US courts.” I
Instagram: stop trying to make Reels happen, it's not going to happen
The problem is, Reels is unlikely to attract what makes TikTok special - its creators - and for that reason, it cannot truly ‘replace’ TikTok, here or in the US. This boils down to one key reason: organic reach. Instagram’s organic reach has a reputation among creators as being horrible: the platform, of course, is heavily monetised, and therefore promoting posts has become a key part of the ecosystem for big-name creators. Part of the allure of TikTok is its massive organic reach, meaning creators can easily build huge audiences - the likes of which would take a lot longer and a lot more investment on Instagram. TikTok has propelled its creators to global stardom - just look at Sarah Cooper, the US comedian whose Trump lip-syncs have gone viral, to the point where some speculated whether he resented the platform simply for her presence.
Moving Tiktok’s ownership to Microsoft will benefit tech giants — not users
While Microsoft has pledged to ensure TikTok data are deleted “from servers outside the country after it is transferred” – it would be difficult to prove copies had not been made before control was handed over. What’s more, a Microsoft-owned TikTok may not appeal to everyone. Some may think Microsoft is too closely tied to the US government or may consider it a monopoly holder in the personal computing market. Also, it would be naive to think foreign governments will not be able to covertly access US-stored user data, if they are so inclined.
Triller, downloaded 250m times, hits No.1 on the App store in 50 markets
Yet this feat, according to a LinkedIn post published by Triller CEO Mike Lu yesterday (August 4), was achieved “with $0 marketing spend”. Triller also revealed in its press release that it seen its number of user downloads increase by over 20 times in the last week alone, reaching over 250 million downloads worldwide. This news follows Triller’s significant growth in India after TikTok was banned the market, where Triller also claimed to have not spent “a dime” on marketing. Triller’s growth in the US in particular follows several challenging weeks for its key rival TikTok, which is potentially facing a ban in the market by September 15.
Still looking for more? Here's some other reads you might enjoy...
The Pandemic's Biggest Mystery Is Our Own Immune System
‘I Was Told It Was Career Suicide’ – The Oral History of ‘Four Lions’
Lessons in the Decline of Democracy From the Ruined Roman Republic
There’s No Such Thing As a Tech Expert Anymore
The age of social (media) distancing
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