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Apple Music has launched in an additional 52 countries as part of its biggest global services expansion in almost a decade. That brings the total to 167 markets. By comparison, Spotify operates in 79 countries. Services revenue for the business hit a record $12.72 billion in Q1 of 2020, up 17% year over year.

Facebook signed an investment deal worth $5.7 billion, which “will translate into a 9.99% equity stake” in JioSaavn parent company Reliance Jio, valuing Jio Platforms at approximately $66 billion. Reliance’s stock hiked by about 10% following the announcement.

Spotify launched a new feature called “Artist Fundraising Pick” this week where artists can “link out to a verified funding page for themselves, for another artist in need, or for a separate initiative of their choice” from their profiles on the streaming service. Fundraising partners include Cash App, GoFundMe, and PayPal.me. However, the company hopes to expand the list to other potential partners over time.

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Compiled by Heidi Seo

Exploration Weekly - April 24, 2020

Apple Music Adds Another 52 Countries as Tech Giant Unveils Major Services Expansion

Apple has launched its Apple Music platform to an additional 52 countries as part of the biggest geographical expansion of its services in almost a decade. Apple is also making App Store, game subscription service Apple Arcade, Apple Podcasts and iCloud available in 20 more countries. The expansion is the largest since Apple expanded its former iTunes Store to India, Russia and more than 50 other countries in 2012. The App Store is now available in 175 countries, while Apple Music is in 167. By comparison, music streaming rival Spotify operates in 79 countries. The geographical expansion comes as Apple attempts to build up the revenues it derives from services and fears of falling smartphone sales. Services revenue hit a record $12.72 billion in the first quarter of 2020, up 17% year over year.

Facebook Invests $5.7 Billion in JioSaavn Parent Company

Facebook has officially invested $5.7 billion in JioSaavn parent company Reliance Jio, according to confirmation from Conglomerate Reliance Industries Limited (which owns Jio Platforms/Reliance Jio). Per Reliance, Facebook’s purchase “will translate into a 9.99% equity stake” with Jio Platforms valued at approximately $66 billion (though the figure will fluctuate in tandem with the Indian rupee-US dollar conversion rate). Reliance Jio/Jio Platforms is a major internet and cell phone service provider in India, with over 370 million subscribers. Its music platform subsidiary JioSaavn resulted from the 2018 merger of JioMusic and Saavn. The freemium music-streaming platform boasts over 100 million monthly active users, according to figures released last year. Reliance’s stock value hiked by about 10% following the announcement of Facebook’s new stake.

Spotify “Artist Fundraising Pick” Tool is Going Live Today

A new feature named “Artist Fundraising Pick” has gone live this week on Spotify where artists can “link out to a verified funding page for themselves, for another artist in need, or for a separate initiative of their choice” from their profiles on the streaming service. The feature can be accessed via a “Get Started” link at the top of the Spotify for Artists dashboard. And Spotify has revealed more details of the fundraising partners who artists will be able to link out to: Cash App, GoFundMe, and PayPal.me. For now, crowdfunding platforms like Patreon and Kickstarter are not among the partners for the feature, and nor is D2C platform Bandcamp. Spotify hopes to expand the list beyond the initial three partners.

The Breakdown: What Songwriters Need to Know About the Music Modernization Act and Royalty Payments

The MMA changes the way songwriters and music publishers are paid statutory mechanical royalties when their work is streamed on interactive streaming services, or sold on downloading services. Beginning in 2021, a nonprofit entity designated by the Copyright Office, called the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), will collect and distribute these royalty payments to copyright owners of musical works matched to sound recordings in its database. Down the line, but no earlier than 2023, any unclaimed royalties can start being paid to copyright owners and songwriters of matched works according to each work’s market share. But to get paid, you will need to register your songs with the MLC.

Sonos Launches Ad-Supported Radio Streaming Service, Including Artist “Stations” From Thom Yorke and David Byrne

Speaker company Sonos has launched a free, ad-supported, radio-style streaming service, starting April 21 via a new software update, called Sonos Radio, exclusively available to customers of Sonos hardware. The service is a complementary service to the 100 streaming options already available via the Sonos app, including on-demand platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Sonos Radio is made up of three core elements: Sonos Sound System, Artist Stations, and Sonos Stations.

Spotify Withholds Regional Data from Nielsen Music/MRC

Spotify has ceased reporting market-level (i.e. regional) data for US streams to Nielsen Music/MRC Data, the company that tracks sales, streams, and radio airplay for the music industry and powers Billboard’s charts. The change will not reduce Spotify’s impact on Billboard’s charts, which monitor national activity, but it will scramble the more granular regional data that Nielsen/MRC provides to its subscribers. It may provide a less accurate guide for radio programmers and promotion executives, as well as those who use Nielsen’s regional data as a guide to map tours. “We have removed Designated Market Area-level information from the Nielsen Music Connect tool,” a rep for Spotify confirmed, “although we continue to provide information to be included in all charts that Nielsen creates. We continue to include our data as part of other sections of Nielsen’s Music Connect tool, with different levels of access based on rights ownership.”

Joyful Noise Rapper Takes Katy Perry Song-Theft Case to the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court

The rapper who accused Katy Perry of ripping off his song “Joyful Noise” on her hit “Dark Horse” has formally filed appeal proceedings with the US Ninth Circuit court of appeal. Last year, a jury sided with rapper Marcus Grey, who performs as Flame, in round one of the big “Dark Horse” song-theft case, awarding Grey and his collaborators $2.8 million in damages. However, Perry’s lawyers successfully persuaded the judge in the Californian district court where the case was heard to overturn the jury’s ruling. Despite the jury buying the argument that “Dark Horse” had lifted elements of “Joyful Noise” without permission, judge Christina Snyder concluded that the Grey team’s arguments failed as a matter of law. The Grey side’s first filing with the Ninth Circuit was administrative and doesn’t include any legal arguments.

Random Ramblings

  • Improving the return on investment of the music industry using machine learning.
  • Anatomy of an earworm.
  • The Weeknd rules the Billboard 200 Chart on its second week with “After Hours”.
  • The 41st annual Blues Music Awards goes virtual.
  • The Rolling Stones perform their 1969 classic “You Can't Always Get What You Want” as part of Global Citizen’s One World: Together At Home virtual coronavirus relief concert.

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