Spotify is not ending its free service (Updated)

spotify

Update: We’ve gotten word from a Spotify spokesperson that the Free model isn’t going anywhere. Director of Communications at Spotify Graham James told me “This is totally false.  Our model is working.” 

Digital Music News is claiming that Spotify is coming under pressure from music labels to end its free, ad-supported service, limiting users to a three-month free trial.

The three-month ‘proposal,’ advanced most principally by major labels Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, would allow current, free-access, ad-supported (or ‘freemium’) subscribers to continue their plans for 6 months, while new users would be limited to three months only.

Coincidentally or not, Universal Music Group is one of the labels specifically mentioned in two investigations into whether Apple is attempting to stifle competition in the run up to launching its own streaming music service …  Read more

Apple’s new music service will reportedly feature a free trial and free song sampling

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A new report from Re/code today about Apple’s upcoming music streaming platform reiterated much of what we already know about the service, which is expected to debut with iOS 8.4 at WWDC. iOS 8.4 is already in the hands of developers with a revamped Music app.

As was previously known, Re/code notes that the recent hire of BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe and other BBC DJs is a plan to help bolster iTunes Radio’s curated playlist feature by manually compiling track lists instead of allowing an algorithm to make the decisions. The site also notes that iTunes Radio will be available in additional countries, which we first reported earlier this week. A few other new details were also mentioned.

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Spotify turns up the heat against Apple’s streaming music service, making fresh anti-competitive behavior claim

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Spotify, which is widely believed to be behind the antitrust allegations that led to both EC and DOJ investigations into Apple, has now added a fresh complaint. The Verge reports Spotify is complaining that the 30% cut Apple takes from in-app Premium subscriptions in the iOS app amounts to an “Apple tax.”

Apple charges a 30 percent fee toward any sales through its App Store, and that includes subscription services. That means if Spotify wants to sell its premium subscription service — which usually costs $9.99 a month — through the App Store, it has to raise the price 30 percent higher to $12.99 to pull in the same revenue, while Apple can still offer Beats at a lower price. Spotify and many others in the music industry believe Apple’s App Store tax gives them an unfair advantage over the competition.

One unnamed music industry source said that Apple taking 30% was “**cking bullsh**” …  Read more

Apple accused of stifling streaming music competition as DOJ joins EC in antitrust investigation

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Allegations that Apple is engaging in anti-competitive practices in the run-up to the launch of its rebranded Beats streaming music service are now being investigated by the Department of Justice, according to “multiple sources” cited by The Verge.

The claim is that Apple has been attempting to use its influence to persuade music labels to pull out of deals with free, ad-supported services like Spotify and YouTube in order to reduce competition and increase demand for its own paid service. The European Commission launched an investigation into these same allegations last month …

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Apple reportedly hires additional BBC Radio 1 producers for upcoming streaming music service

beats

A new report from Music Business Worldwide claims that Apple has recently hired four producers from BBC Radio 1. This report comes two months after it was announced that Zane Lowe was leaving the British radio station to take a new position at Apple. According to today’s report, the recent Apple hires include James Bursey, Natasha Lynch and Kieran Yeates, as well as one other.

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Apple updates Keynote for iOS with support for Watch-based remote app, pushes fixes for other apps

Image via Karan Pandya

Image via Karan Pandya

Apple today released an update to its mobile presentation software that enables support for an Apple Watch-based remote application. The Keynote Remote app, which will allow users to control their slides from their wrists, was first mentioned during Apple’s October 2014 event.

The Cupertino company also pushed out updates to several of its other mobile apps, fixing bugs and improving stability. The updated apps include Pages, Numbers, Remote, and Beats Music. The Mac iWork apps were also updated with bug fixes.

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Report: Apple plans $10-$15 tiers for new music service, approaching artists incl. Taylor Swift for exclusives

iPhone 6 Beats Music

A new report from Bloomberg today claims that Apple is considering $10-$15 month plans for its upcoming music streaming service while the company approaches high-profile artists to get exclusive content.

The report today follows our own report last month that Apple was planning to relaunch its Beats Music streaming service at its WWDC event in June. At the time we noted that Apple was considering a $7.99 price point, but today’s report suggests Apple could go with paid tiers ranging from $9.99/month for a single user to $14.99/month for a family account. Read more

Opinion: Will Apple’s streaming music service mean I finally stop buying music?

music

I was an early adopter of digital music (you hide your surprise well). I bought my first mp3 player in 1998, some three years before the first iPod. It cost a silly amount of money and stored exactly one album at a time in its 64MB (not GB) of flash memory.

Me being me, I went through a few different generations of mp3 player before Apple completely changed the game with the iPod. Ironically, by adopting a less sophisticated technology–a hard drive in place of flash memory–Apple created a far better product. One that allowed us to carry around 80 albums at a time. I bought one the day it went on sale, having by then finished ripping all my CDs to mp3.

When the 160GB iPod came out in 2007, I again bought one immediately. That was large enough to hold my entire music collection at the time. I not only carried it everywhere with me, I also plugged it into my hifi at home and to the AUX socket of my car stereo. At which point, I started wondering why I still had a wall full of CDs …  Read more

European antitrust authorities investigating Apple’s streaming music service even before it launches

juncker-team-a

Apple’s planned rebranding and relaunch of the Beats streaming music service has not had the easiest of rides. The launch, initially planned for earlier this year, was delayed by the departure of key execs and difficulties integrating Beats and Apple technologies. A planned $5/month price-point had to be abandoned in favor of an attempt at $7.99/month when music labels wouldn’t play ball, and that too now looks increasingly unlikely even though Google Play offered initial All Access Signups for a $7.99 locked in. And any plans to offer artist exclusives as an inducement now face competition from newly-relaunched Tidal.

Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any tougher, London’s Financial Times reports that the European Commission is considering launching an antitrust investigation into the service, even before it launches. The Commission has contacted several music labels to ask what deals have been done with Apple, says the FT.

The commission, which also has contacted Apple’s music-streaming rivals, is said to be concerned that the company will use its size, relationships and influence to persuade labels to abandon free, ad-supported services such as Spotify, which depend on licenses with music companies for their catalogues.

The newspaper implies that the investigation may have been triggered by a formal complaint by an existing streaming music service …  Read more

Happy Hour Podcast 008 | iPhone 6c rumors, Jay-Z’s Beats Music killer, and more exclusive Apple Watch details

happy-hour

New iPhone 6c rumors have begun as an alleged plastic housing surfaces, but is there room for a new model? Also, Jay-Z is coming after Beats Music with some hi-fi competition. Along with that, we discuss exclusive Apple Watch details that you don’t want to miss out on. The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed…

Click here to subscribe on iTunes or listen to the episode embedded above.

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Jay-Z’s new Tidal music service respects the artist, but rips off Spotify’s UI

Tidal-vs-Spotify-UI

In case you hadn’t heard, Jay-Z is this week launching (relaunching) the Tidal music service he recently acquired along with a lot of help from industry friends. The company is hoping its model is innovative and helps artists earn more, but its UI for the web app appears to be a shameless copy of Spotify, as you can see in the comparison screenshot: Tidal above, Spotify below. Read more