“My life is music, and in some vague, mysterious and subconscious way, I have always been driven by a taut inner spring which has propelled me to almost compulsively reach for perfection in music, often - in fact, mostly - at the expense of everything else in my life.”

Stan Getz

YouTube recently announced its new $100 million “Shorts Fund” that will be distributed to any creators using short-form TikTok rival YouTube Shorts during 2021-2022. The new feature was launched in beta last September in India, and is now available in the US starting from March.

According to parent company Vivendi, Universal Music Group (UMG) will be publicly listed on the Amsterdam Euronext market “before or by” September 27. Vivendi’s market value for UMG on Wednesday counted 32.4 billion euros ($39.11 billion).

Disney+ now has 103.6 million subscribers, says Walt Disney Co., which recently reported total revenue of $15.6 billion in its latest Q2 2021 earnings announcement. The company faced a 44% decline in its theme parks and experiences division to $3.2 billion. However, it plans to spend about $1 billion this year on enhanced safety measures and regulatory issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Compiled by Heidi Seo

Exploration Weekly - May 14, 2021

YouTube Launches $100M Shorts Fund to Pay Creators Over Course of 2021-2022

YouTube Shorts, the video platform’s short-form TikTok rival, has launched its ‘Shorts Fund’, a $100 million fund that will be distributed to its creators over the course of 2021-2022. In September, YouTube Shorts first launched the beta version of its video platform in India. It was later rolled out across the US in March, and is available to all in both countries. Now, in a blog post announcing the fund, YouTube details its first step in building a monetization model for the short-form platform. The $100 million Shorts Fund will be available to anyone creating original content for Shorts, not just those in the YouTube Partner Program. Creators won’t be able to apply for the fund. Instead, YouTube will reach out and reward creators whose videos have exceeded certain milestones each month. Earlier this year, YouTube previewed a feature that allows creators to ‘remix’ audio from the billions of videos found across YouTube. Creators will also be able to automatically add captions to video, record up to 60 seconds with the Shorts camera, attach clips from phone galleries to recordings and add filter, effects and color correct functions. Over the coming months, YouTube will also begin to test and iterate on ads to better understand their performance and will gain feedback from creators.

Vivendi Sets Date for Universal Music Group Spinoff

Shares of Universal Music Group will begin trading on the Amsterdam Euronext market “before or by” Sept. 27, parent company Vivendi revealed on May 12. Vivendi’s proposal for the UMG share distribution will be put to a vote at the company’s shareholders’ meeting on June 22. Vivendi’s market value for UMG on Wednesday counted 32.4 billion euros ($39.11 billion), slightly below Vivendi’s estimate of 33 billion euros ($39.84 billion). The shares distributed in the dividend will account for 60% of the share capital and voting rights of Universal Music Group. A consortium of investors led by Tencent owns 20% of Universal through two investments at a 30 billion euros valuation. Vivendi will keep the remaining 20% of shares and retain “at least 10%” of UMG’s share capital over the long term. However, Vivendi “continues to receive expressions of interest from potential investors” and may sell some of its UMG shares either before or after the distribution of UMG shares.

Disney+ Misses Expectations with 103.6 Million Subscribers

In its Q2 2021 earnings announcement this week, Walt Disney Co. reported revenue of $15.6 billion and an adjusted earnings per share of $0.79. Wall Street consensus had been for $15.93 billion in revenue, and an adjusted EPS of $0.27. Much of the company’s growth continues to come from the streaming service Disney+, which now has 103.6 million subscribers, the company says. Disney’s direct-to-consumer business delivered revenue of $4 billion, up 59% from the same quarter a year ago. Disney’s linear networks unit, which includes ESPN and ABC, was down 4% from a year ago at $6.7 billion, while its theme parks and experiences division continues to face the toughest headwinds, down 44% to $3.2 billion. The company also disclosed that it expects to spend about $1 billion this year on enhanced safety measures and regulatory issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. It also faced a $1.2 billion impact in the parks unit compared to a year ago, with less of an impact at its media businesses.

Regional Mexican Tracks Generated 1.8 Billion Spotify Streams in 2020

In a blog post highlighting the growth of its ‘Los Que Mandan’ playlist, Spotify explained the success of Regional Mexican music (RGMX for short), on its service. “In 2020 alone, over 1.8 billion RGMX songs were streamed globally on Spotify,” explained the company. That now has more than 2.7 million followers, with half of its listeners aged between 18 and 29 years old. Spotify added that it now has more than 130 RGMX editorial playlists available. Meanwhile, in another corner of the musical universe, Spotify has also launched a playlist called ‘Hill Country Blues’, focusing on the Northern Mississippi blues sub-genre of the same name. The Black Keys have curated part of the playlist’s first lineup, ahead of their new album of hill country blues covers.

Childish Gambino Sued for Copyright Infringement Over This Is America

Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino has been sued for alleged copyright infringement over his 2018 hit single, This is America. Florida-based Emelike Nwosuocha (aka rapper Kidd Wes) claims that elements of his song Made in America were copied by Gambino to create This is America. At the core of Nwosuocha’s claim, filed in New York on May 6, is that there are allegedly “substantial similarities” between his song Made in America and Gambino’s This is America. “Specifically,” adds the filing, “the substantial similarities between both songs include, but are not limited to, nearly-identical unique rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic compositional and performance content contained in the chorus – or “hook” – sections that are the centerpieces of both songs”. Also named in suit are Young Thug (Jefferey Lamar Williams), composer and producer Ludwig Emil Tomas Göransson, Kobalt Music, RCA Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Roc Nation Publishing, Warner Music Group and others. Nwosuocha says he’s entitled to damages including “the substantial profits” from the track and is demanding a trial by jury.

Twitch Mobile App Was Downloaded 22M Globally in Q1 2021, Up 62% Year-Over-Year

According to a new blog post from analytics platform Sensor Tower, live streaming service Twitch was downloaded 22 million times globally in Q1 2021. This is an increase of 62% from the same quarter in the prior year, when the app was downloaded 13.6 million times. Monthly Active Users (MAUs) for March 2021 was also up 69% compared to March 2020, which in itself, Sensor Tower reports, was a record year for the streaming platform. The US remains Twitch’s largest market for installs. In Q1 2021, the app saw 5 million installs there, up 61% from slightly more than 3 million in Q1 2020. Sensor Tower also found that Twitch saw the most growth in India’s app stores in 2020, climbing 588% year-over-year to 2.2 million from 320,000 in 2019. In the blog post, Sensor Tower says that Twitch adoption is “still going strong in early 2021” as consumers “continue to turn to their mobile devices for entertainment during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic”.

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