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Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Apple Music reported this week that starting next month, users will be able to stream lossless audio across its entire 75 million song catalog on its basic Apple Music subscription tier.

Around the same time of the announcement, Amazon's high-fidelity streaming service, Amazon Music HD, is now available to Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers at no extra cost. The HD tier has more than 70 million lossless CD-quality songs in HD and over 7 million “Ultra HD” songs, which are effectively studio masters. It previously cost $14.99 a month while the Unlimited tier is $9.99 a month.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) at its annual Podcast Upfront, podcast revenue in the US is expected to exceed $1 billion in 2021 and reach $2 billion by 2023. The study, commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers, showed that the podcast industry’s ad spend reached $842 million in 2020, a 19% year-over-year increase from 2019’s $708 million.


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Exploration Weekly - May 21, 2021

Apple to Add Lossless Audio to Apple Music At No Additional Cost

Apple has announced that it is adding some new features to its music streaming service Apple Music. Starting next month, users will find some new options, such as spatial audio with support for Dolby Atmos as well as lossless audio files. Spotify recently announced a new high-end subscription tier with CD-quality, lossless audio files. But Spotify HiFi isn’t included in Spotify Premium by itself unless you pay a bit more money to stream lossless audio. Apple’s move is a bit different, as lossless audio is going to be included in the basic Apple Music subscription tier. The entire Apple Music catalog of 75 million songs will support lossless audio.

Amazon Music Drops HD Tier to $9.99, Shaking Up Hi-Fi Streaming Market

Amazon's high-fidelity streaming service, Amazon Music HD, is now available to Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers at no extra cost, the company tells Billboard. Amazon Music HD previously cost $14.99 a month while Amazon Music Unlimited, its most popular service option, is $9.99 a month. For years, the music industry was focused on using high-fidelity audio streaming as a means to raise the average revenue per user with higher-priced subscriptions. That would mean bigger payouts for rights holders and the streaming services. But with Amazon, Spotify, and Apple all getting in on the high-fidelity push, the labels have become more amenable to lowering the price of high-fidelity tiers in the hopes of increasing the overall number of subscribers across the industry. Amazon Music HD has more than 70 million lossless CD-quality songs in HD and over 7 million “Ultra HD” songs, which are effectively studio masters.

The IAB Predicts US Podcast Revenue Will Hit $2 Billion in 2023

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) expects podcast revenue in the US to exceed $1 billion in 2021 and reach $2 billion by 2023. The bureau revealed these predictions at its annual Podcast Upfront, as part of an advertising revenue study commissioned from PricewaterhouseCoopers. PwC’s study showed that despite the podcast industry’s ad spend taking a slight dip during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, it bounced back to reach $842 million, a 19% year-over-year increase from 2019’s $708 million. In 2018, U.S.-based podcast advertising revenues totaled $479 million. “Podcasting will grow in the next two years by leaps and bounds,” IAB Media Center vice president Eric John said at the Upfront, per Deadline. “Advertisers are benefiting from new technologies developed to serve these marketplaces, to make podcast advertising more dynamic and measurable than ever before.”

UK Collecting Society PPL Reveals Its Figures for 2020

UK society PPL has announced its latest figures this week, and they show £225.7m of collections in 2020: down 17% year-on-year. However, PPL pointed out that this was still its third-highest annual collections total ever. The breakdown shows where the pandemic has hit hardest. International collections were down just 0.9% to £85.9m; broadcast and online income dipped by 3.8% to £82.3m; but public performance and dubbing collections fell by 42.2% to £57.5m. PPL distributed £260.2m in 2020, up 15.2% year-on-year, to more than 135,000 musicians and rightsholders. “In the short-term, as COVID-19 restrictions further ease in the UK, we expect our domestic revenues will begin to recover this year, although we are not yet expecting a return to pre-COVID levels. Our international revenues may be impacted over a longer period of time because of the pandemic, although to what extent will vary from territory to territory,” said CEO Peter Leathem.

SACEM Announces New Deal with Spotify

French collecting society SACEM has announced it has signed a new deal with Spotify which, it says, has been agreed as the rights organization “addresses challenges related to the platform’s launch of new offerings and expansion into new territories”. Societies like SACEM increasingly license directly their own repertoires on a multi-territory basis. And, in SACEM’s case, it negotiates and manages such multi-territory deals on behalf of other societies and music publishers too. Earlier this year, Spotify launched in a plethora of new markets, that being the “expansion into new territories” referenced by SACEM in its statement. The new deal, the society added, “covers all of the European Union countries, as well as Switzerland, Israel, South Africa, the Middle East, India, Russia and 80 other territories around the world”.

Vivendi Eyes Sale of Universal Music Group Stake to US Investor

French media conglomerate Vivendi is considering the sale of an additional 10% stake in Universal Music Group (UMG) to a U.S. investor. Vivendi, which is planning an initial public offering of the music major in Amsterdam by late September, previously sold a 20% stake in it to a consortium led by Chinese online giant Tencent. In the IPO, it will distribute 60%. “The group is analyzing the opportunity of selling 10 percent of UMG shares to an American investor or initiating a public offering (IPO) of at least 5 percent and up to 10 percent of UMG shares," Vivendi said on Tuesday. "Furthermore, Vivendi will retain 10 percent of the UMG share capital for a minimum period of two years in order to remain associated with the development of its subsidiary" while also "benefiting from the protection of EU legislation applicable to parent companies and subsidiaries from different member states.".

Random Ramblings

  • The emergent power of intellectual property is transforming the global music industry.
  • The computational complexity of music.
  • How Ariana Grande made history at pop radio.
  • Justin Bieber earns his eighth No. 1 on the Pop Airplay Chart with "Peaches".
  • Little Mix gets down on the dance floor with their male alter egos in a new video featuring Saweetie.

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