Tag: spotify

The Beatles forgive Apple, at last

The Beatles in 1964 - Wikimedia CommonsPopular pop combo the Beatles wants to hold hands with Apple at last. It will offer its songs on Apple Music as well as Spotify.

According to Bloomberg, the agency representing the Beatles will make available streaming music including Help!, Revolver and others of its top hits on Apple, Deezer, Spotify and Google Play.

Although Apple Corp settled its differences with Apple Inc many years ago, the agency representing the Beatles had held out against streaming music because there’s less profits from the online playing of music.

But the agency representing the Fab Four has finally realised that it can’t hold out against the tide of online music and people increasingly don’t bother with buying CDs.

Strangely, hipsters are interested in buying vinyl music, although they don’t play the music using old-fangled needles, preferring to use “screaming” services.

Siri insists you sign up for Apple services

apple-dalek-2Fruity cargo cult Apple has a novel way of making sure that its fanboys sign up for all its expensive services – it refuses to let Siri help them unless they do.

Apple Music is starting to end its three-month free trials and the service is not considered that great. However Apple has recruited Siri to make sure they renew their contracts.

Angel investor Tom Conrad pointed out on Twitter that if you ask Siri to tell you the top songs in the US, and you aren’t an Apple Music subscriber, she will refuse to respond.

In fact she says she can’t look up the music charts as “you don’t seem to be subscribed to Apple Music”.

So rather being a search service for useful information, Siri is basically a marketing tool for Apple.

If you have Apple Music, Siri will direct you to the Apple Music app when asked about the most popular song in the US.

Something similar happens when you ask about top movie rentals in the US, Siri will attempt to plug iTunes.

Apple is getting increasingly desperate as it has not been able to see off its rival Spotify. In fact Spotify claims the service has seen even greater user growth since the launch of Apple Music.

Oxford University notes more complaints about Apple Play

Radcliffe Camera, Oxford - pic Mike MageeApple’s move into streaming music services is attracting more complaints daily.

Oxford University’s TheySay sentiment analysis company monitored Twitter to work out the overall feeling towards the new service and discovered that Apple’s normally psychopathically enthusiastic fanbase was not impressed.

When Jobs’ Mob announced Apple Music received an overall 85 percent approval rating from tweeters, but now that it’s here, the actual service is proving as popular as the Boston Strangler.

Dr Karo Moilanen, Oxford University professor and co-founder of TheySay, observed: “Compared to the sky-high positive sentiment ratings that Apple products and announcements typically reach on Twitter, this time Apple Music invoked a healthy dose of strong negative sentiment (ca. 24 percent) amongst tweeters”.

According to TheySay, there were 84,845 keyword mentions on Twitter, of which 76 percent were positive, and 24 percent negative.

Defining if something was positive appears to be a pit of a problem. Oxford thought the phrase “A curated radio station” was a good thing. A lot of the positive results were connected to the popular beat combo artist Taylor Swift and not to the product.

However the negatives were a lot more explicit. They included:

  • A truly annoying renewing payment feature (“auto-bill-after-free-trial scam”).
  • Not original enough compared to Spotify (“just a wannabe Spotify assassin”).
  • A confusing UX disaster with incomplete and buggy builds on many devices.
    Apple’s obsession with U2 – yet another U2 preloaded.
  • Auto-following unwanted artists.
  • Limited shared playlists, for example family sharing.
  • The annoying auto-following feature was behind the massive peaks in anger, dislike, and negative sentiment that stand out in the charts.

Moilanen says: “The sentiment profiles for Spotify suggest that, contrary to what many tweeters predicted, the providential arrival of Apple Music does not look like it will kill off sSpotify.

“ The ratio of extremely positive vs. negative sentiment was 9 per cent negative : 29 per cent positive for Apple Music, while Spotify’s ratio was 12 per cent negative : 32 per cent positive which does not indicate huge divergence,” he said.

Spotify gears up for IPO

London-based Music streaming service Spotify is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) which could be the next big IT industry share offering.

Reuters spotted a job listing for an “External Reporting Specialist” who would be required to “prepare the company for SEC filing standards. Set up all reports necessary to be SEC compliant.”

The candidate should also have “experience in preparing international financial reporting, including consolidated financial statements.”

This news caught many pundits on the hop because CEO Daniel Ek had previously played down the idea of going public. It is possible that with tech stocks near 2013 highs, an IPO at this time might make sense and Ek changed his mind.

Already similar deals are being planned for Alibaba, Box and Dropbox for that reason.

Spotify is valued at $7-8 billion and it has raised $538 million from investors. Like many of the IT industry big IPOs the company is believed to be unprofitable despite making $720 million a year.

Of course that will not stop investors getting over excited and having the IPO oversubscribed.

Spotify was launched in October 2008 by Swedish startup Spotify AB, the service and had more than 10 million users as of 15 September 2010. Total users reached 20 million by December 2012, 5 million of whom pay a monthly subscription fee that varies based on locale. 

Wall Street goes insane over Spotify

The cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street who created the dot.com bubble seem set to do the same thing again.

Spotify has reportedly been valued at $4 billion after securing $250 million in financing for global expansion. The round of funding, spearheaded by Technology Crossover Ventures, will help the music streaming giant break into new territories such as Japan, enthused The Wall Street Journal. .

However, the valuation figure is a little daft. It makes the company more valuable than Pandora in terms of market capitalisation, with the firm’s US rival currently worth $5.7 billion.

The Journal said that the Swedish company has pulled in more revenue than Pandora over the last financial year – $585 million compared to its competitor’s $427 million, most of which was generated from sales of premium subscriptions.

The only downside is that none of them have made any money. Pandora said it had a third-quarter loss of $1.7 million as it spent more on content and sales and marketing.

Spotify pulls in most of its revenue from premium subscriptions and the rest from advertisers. It also has more than 24 million active free users.

In other words, they are both valuable to Wall Street and yet none are actually making profits yet. True they are on their way to making profits, but they are a long way from doing so yet. For those with long memories that was the scenario which was playing out during the dotcom bubble bursting. 

Spotify spooked Apple

Spotify director Sean Parker has implied that the fruity cargo cult Apple had been using dirty tricks to prevent it from entering the US market.

Parker said Apple clearly felt threatened by Spotify and that he had gotten indications from dealings with people inside the industry that the iPhone maker was doing its best to impede Spotify’s expansion.

Reuters said that Parker answered a question at the All Things Digital conference as to whether Apple had tried to keep Spotify out of the United States.

He said that there was some indication that that might have been happening.

Parker said that he could say this because Spotify Chief Executive Daniel Ek, who was sitting beside him at the time, could not.

While Spotify did well in the UK, the music industry suddenly started dragging its feet on licensing when it tried to open its doors in the US.

In the process of Spotify’s negotiations with people in the music industry, he had heard things and people sent him emails.

But he added there was definitely a sense in which Apple felt threatened by what Spotify was doing.

Parker said he was not sure why Apple was so worried. Spotify’s business challenges only a small part of Apple’s overall business. He said that even if the iTunes music store component went away, Apple would not lose much. 

Vince Cable: You can own your own property

Vince Cable has successfully convinced the government that intervention in copyright-hosting websites is not the way forward. The plans, on the back of the heavily criticised Digital Economy Act, are for the dustbin.

Ofcom, which had flagged the rushed Act as more than dodgy from the start, conducted a thorough review which has lead to Cable pulling the plug. 

Newzbin2 was the recent victim of court injunctions to pull websites that help the user find copyrighted material. But the DEA wasn’t even required for the court to agree on shutting down the site.

It’s not quite a win against the wannabe-despotic content industry. Cable told Auntie that Big Content is perfectly positioned to put the pressure on ISPs without the DEA – so the archaic music and movie industries will still be able to drag people through the courts for its own dated agenda. Without the Act, it’ll be “in a way that’s legally sound,” Cable said. Other options are being explored.

One change really does promise some disruption, though, and that’s with Digital Rights Management. DRM is a means for companies to stop you from copying your own content, mostly due to fears of piracy, but it stops users from legitimately enjoying property that they have legally bought. You know, in shops. 

Cable wants to update the copyright system in the UK, where it has been illegal to rip your own CDs to your computer. “Bringing the laws more up-to-date to have a proper balance which allows consumers and businesses to operate more freely” is the way forward, says Cable. “But at the same time protect genuinely creative artists and penalise pirates.”

As we expected yesterday, Cable has also given more breathing room to parody works which use copyrighted music. The Beeb points to EMI removing the parody track Newport State of Mind, because it sounded quite a bit like Alicia Keys.

Though the content industry will continue to persecute their own biggest customers, legal services such as Spotify are gaining serious traction. For £10 a month in the UK you can access millions of tracks, which doesn’t sound too dissimilar to buying one album a month and pirating the rest.

We’ve heard from sources close to the content creation industry that the next step will be monetising movie streaming services even further – a la Lovefilm and Netflix in the US. 

Popular sites use compulsory tracking

While the advertising industry pays lip service to demands that they do not use zombie cookies to track punters,  a large number of popular sites have signed up to a service called Kissmetrics.

According to boffins at Berkeley, Kissmetrics is a tracking service that can’t be stopped even when users block cookies, turn off storage in Flash, or use browsers’ steath functions.

Kissmetrics is used by sites to track the number of visitors, what the visitors do on the site and where they have been. According to the Berkeley boffins it uses sneaky techniques to prevent users from opting out of being tracked.

It had been used by Hulu, but when Berkeley revealed the nature of the service, the outfit cut ties straight away. Spotify, another Kissmetrics customer named in the report, said that it was concerned and has suspended its use of the service.

Kissmetrics founder Hitten Shah told Wired that the research was correct, but there was nothing illegal about the techniques it was using.

Shah said that Kissmetrics is used by thousands of sites to track incoming users, and it does not sell or buy data about those visitors.

The Berkeley research team, which was headed by privacy lawyer Chris Hoofnagle, and included privacy researcher Ashkan Soltani,  described the code as damning.

The code works even if you have all cookies blocked and private-browsing mode enabled. If a user deletes the cookies, the software resurrects them.

Kissmetrics used a number of methods to recreate cookies, and the persistent tracking can only be avoided by erasing the browser cache between visits. 

Spotify hit by patent troll

One of the features of the US tech landscape is the lesser spotted patent troll which is doing its best as a breed to kill off any new ideas coming into the former British colony of Virginia.

Evolutionists have already noted that the US patent troll has destroyed the eco-system of many thriving companies and in the long term is likely to bring down Open Sauce and Android.

Needless to say it would be a very brave company which bought any technology into the United States as it would be swiftly attacked by the species.

Sure enough, when the UK’s Spotify launched to great acclaim this month a patent troll was waiting to get a slice of the action.

According to TechDirt PacketVideo was a startup which was tried to sell streaming video on mobile phones. It was something that was ahead of its time and thus consigned to the dustbin of history.

PacketVideo’s problem was that it could not get enough bandwidth to do it and getting any sort of licensing from the music labels was nearly impossible.

It seems that PacketVideo claims that patent 5,636,276, is for a “Device for the distribution of music information in digital form” covers Spotify and the outfit should pay it large sums of money to go away.

PacketVideo’s claim is to own a central memory device which is connected to a communications network and has a databank of digitised music information and, a terminal which is connected to the central memory device via the communications network.

However when the patent was filed in 1995, this was not new. If you asked a network engineer how you would build a digital music streaming service they would all have said the same thing.

What makes matters worse is that it was not invented by PacketVideo, the outfit just bought it.

To be honest, we think any backward third world nation that encourages a patent system like this should suffer from a technology embargo from the civilised world. It seems that Spotify wants to sell its products to those who lack opposable thumbs, so it will have to contest the patent. 

Spotify makes its free service crap

In a bid to bolster paying subscribers to its streaming service, European party-playlist peddler Spotify is cutting the amount of free music users can listen to by half.

Now you’ll only be able to listen to 10 hours a month unless you cough up cash. 

While some are irritated the model is moving quickly away from the freemium it began its life with, they should be relieved that they won’t have to listen to any more adverts by handing over a tenner a month – which have become increasingly loathsome and more regular since its inception.

It encourages signing up for the money-a-month model that it makes its dough off, but those on the fence still have half a month to join. They will “enjoy our unrivalled free service as it is today for the first six months,” Spotify said from its bog. After the 1st of May, users will only be able to listen to the same song up to five times, which basically sucks.

Luckily for the internet, Youtube has also become a liability-free way to enjoy music without paying for it. Despite moaning from the content industry there is still a huge catalogue of music to find on Google’s user-submitted video site, and it even offers related artists too! There’s rarely adverts on the older stuff and you don’t have to sit through a McDonalds Man shouting at you to buy his burgers – unlike on Spotify Free.

For the rest of the world there are torrents.

Could it be any coincidence that Spotify is based in Sweden, a country the United States leans on heavily to clamp down on copyright crime and other rumblings that upset Big Content? We dunno. As it stands, music-selling competitors don’t fancy their chances against a US launch. The watered-down new equivalent could well be preparation.

On the other hand, it could just be that Spotify realised its service, while popular, needed to make some more money and there’s nothing like strong-arming and alienating your customers for it. On the official Spotify bog, the responses are a heady mixture between “Laters!”, “Nice while it lasted” and “Nothing’s free”.