“Your life experience is a moving picture, of which you are writer, director, performer, producer and critic.”

T.F. Hodge

YouTube is currently testing out a new feature called “Viewer Applause,” which will allow viewers to applaud - and tip - creators with a “clap” that is worth $2 US each. It will also be available for livestreams and uploaded videos, making it the company’s first video-specific monetization tool that is not AdSense-related.

On Tuesday, SiriusXM announced that it has invested $75 million in SoundCloud in return for a minority stake of an undisclosed size and two board seats. The news follows the audio company’s recent acquisition of music streaming service Pandora, which SoundCloud has successfully partnered with for advertising sales. Together, SoundCloud and Pandora’s US audience offering reaches more than 100 million unique listeners, creating the largest digital audio advertising marketplace, according to SiriusXM.

Spotify has beta-launched a new feature aimed at songwriters, called “Songwriter Pages,” giving writers their own profile pages on the streaming service, including playlists of recordings of their songs. The names of the songwriters taking part in the beta will be clickable, taking listeners directly to their pages, which will have a list of the songs they have written, as well as their regular artist collaborators. Users will also be able to search for a “Written By” playlist for that songwriter.

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Compiled by Heidi Seo

Exploration Weekly - February 14, 2020

YouTube’s New Monetization Tool Lets Viewers Tip Creators on Livestreams and Uploads

Google revealed this past Monday in its quarterly earnings report that YouTube generated $15.1 billion in ad revenue in fiscal 2019, including $4.7 billion in the fourth quarter. Its YouTube TV streaming bundle now has more than 2 million subscribers, and YouTube Music and YouTube Premium now have more than 20 million paid subscribers. The unit’s subscription revenue now has a $3 billion annual run rate, stated Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat included on the call that the company sees “substantial continuing opportunity” at YouTube with both direct-response advertisers, as well as brand ad campaigns. She also warned that the company is committed to growing its subscription business, which carries higher acquisition costs. YouTube’s ad revenue has nearly doubled over the past two years. Overall, Alphabet hit $161.8 billion in revenue in fiscal 2019, including $46.1 billion in Q4.

SiriusXM Acquires Minority Stake in SoundCloud for $75 Million

Audio entertainment company SiriusXM Holdings announced Tuesday that it has invested $75 million in open audio platform SoundCloud in return for a minority stake of an undisclosed size and two board seats. Just last year, SiriusXM closed its acquisition of music streaming service Pandora. Following the investment deal, SoundCloud said it would use the money to “accelerate its product development and enhance the services that fuel its global community of creators and listeners”. The advertising sales relationship between SoundCloud and Pandora started last year, and has been successful. Advertisers and brands can purchase SoundCloud’s US ad inventory directly through Pandora and use the company’s direct sale capabilities, targeting data and audio programmatic platform. Combined, SoundCloud and Pandora’s US audience offering reaches more than 100 million unique listeners, creating the largest digital audio advertising marketplace, according to SiriusXM’s announcement.

Spotify Launches “Songwriter Pages” Feature in Beta

Spotify has launched a new feature in beta aimed at songwriters, giving them their own profile pages on the streaming service, complete with playlists of recordings of their songs. The feature is called “Songwriter Pages,” and it will be accompanied by a tweak to Spotify’s existing track credits feature to make the names of songwriters taking part in the beta clickable, taking listeners directly to their pages. So far, Missy Elliott, Justin Tranter, Meghan Trainor, Fraser T Smith, Teddy Geiger, and Ben Billions are among the first songwriters accepted onto the beta. The streaming service also announced that it has launched an online form for others to register their interest. Each songwriter page will have a list of the songs they have written, as well as their regular artist collaborators. There will also be a “Written By” playlist for that songwriter, which listeners will be able to find through Spotify’s search feature.

SoundExchange Asks US Trade Rep to Help Artists Get Paid Abroad

Rights management firm SoundExchange is asking the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) to help American music creators get paid fairly for the use of their work abroad. SoundExchange is designated by the Library of Congress to collect and distribute performance royalties for non-interactive digital music streams. It provides “full national treatment” to music creators, which ensures that one set of laws in a country equally protects both domestic and foreign works and recordings, including the payment and collection of royalties. In their filing, SoundExchange stated that six countries - the UK, France, Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, and Canada - deny full national treatment to American producers and performers, because “those countries are not paying them for the same uses that these countries are paying their own national producers and performers”. All of the six countries are World Trade Organization members, and thus bound by the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS), which requires national treatment protection. As a result, SoundExchange claims that American recording artists and labels are losing out on $170 million per year in royalties from use of their sound recordings abroad.

Instagram Confirms It’s Prototyping an Ad-Share Monetization Program for IGTV

According to reports, Instagram is internally prototyping a feature on IGTV - the ability for creators to make money from ads running against their content. Techcrunch stated that the so-called Instagram Partner Program has come to light 18 months after the launch of IGTV, which has been downloaded just 7 million times to date. The monetization program, Techcrunch continues, could be roughly akin to the ad-share setup that exists on Facebook Watch, where creators take home 55% of revenue from “Ad Breaks” - or ads that run in the middle of Watch videos.

TikTok was Downloaded Over 104.7 Million Times Worldwide in January

ByteDance-owned video sharing app TikTok was installed more than 104.7 million times in January, according to new figures published by intelligence firm Sensor Tower, representing a 46% increase from January 2019. As a result, the app was the most downloaded non-game app worldwide last month. The news follows TikTok’s recently announced multi-territory licensing deal signed with Merlin, the global digital rights agency for the world’s independent label sector. The countries where TikTok was installed the most last month were India, Sensor Tower continues, which accounted for 34.4% of its total downloads and Brazil at 10.4%.

IMPEL Confirms Pan-European Deal with Amazon

Independent music publisher body, IMPEL, announced a new deal with Amazon covering its various music streaming products in Europe. The company began life as an initiative of the UK’s Music Publishers Association in 2010. It was set up in response to the big five publishers - Sony, Universal, Warner, Kobalt, and BMG - starting to license their Anglo-American song catalogues to streaming services directly rather than via the collective licensing system. Smaller publishers, as a result, were able to take the same route, even if they did not have the scale or resources to start negotiating their own direct deals. In 2018, IMPEL was spun off as a standalone organization, including the likes of Beggars, Reservoir, Kassner, and ABKCO.

France’s Music Publishing Sector was Worth Over $450 Million in 2018

The publishing market in France was worth €393 million ($466 million) in 2018, up 7% compared to 2017, according to the latest figures published by the country’s music publishing trade associations, The CSDEM and the CEMF, in their “Barometer of music publishing” report for 2017-2018. CSDEM further states that the increase is owed to an investment in new signings and that almost two thirds of more than 15,000 new French works published in 2018 were from new talent. The report was compiled using responses from a survey of 280 companies including major and indie music publishers. In France, the publishing market is spread over three sectors: Pop, Classical, and Music Bookstore, which accounted for 81%, 10%, and 9% of total turnover respectively.

Random Ramblings

  • The biggest music moments from the 2020 Oscars.
  • Black Sabbath and the story of the album that gave birth to Metal.
  • The tragedy of the major scale.
  • Lil Wayne earns his fifth No. 1 album on Billboard 200 with “Funeral”.
  • Christina Aguilera reunites with A Great Big World for a new ballad, "Fall On Me".

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