Spotify Launches on Comcast’s Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex

Comcast June 22 announced that Spotify is now available to stream on cloud-based Xfinity platform, affording subscribers the ability to listen to the audio streaming service’s 50 million music tracks and podcasts directly on the TV.

Broadband-based Xfinity Flex subs can access Spotify with their Xfinity Voice Remote. Spotify will begin rolling out to X1 subs today over the Internet, and be available to all subs in the coming days, alongside all of the live, on demand, and streaming content.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Comcast said it has seen double-digit growth in streaming music consumption this year versus the same time last year. Spotify is seeing the same trends from their end — the increase in working from home is showing that more users are now streaming music on their TVs.

“Music streaming on Xfinity X1 and Flex is at an all-time high and … alongside the growing catalog of entertainment already available on these platforms, adds even more great value to their Xfinity service,” Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment for Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

Follow us on Instagram

New Spotify subs will be able to create an account directly on the device and immediately have access to the free, ad-supported version of the service. Spotify joins other music and listening streaming services already available on X1 and Flex, including Pandora, Amazon Music, Radio.com, iHeartRadio, XITE, NPR One, Music Choice, Stingray Music and Baeble.

Futuresource: Music Streaming Declines in COVID-19 World

With the exception of vinyl records, subscription streaming music services remain the number one growth driver in the global music market, accounting for more than 70% of spending on music last year, according to Futuresource Consulting.

Yet, as measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 begin to reshape the lives of consumers, music streaming is experiencing a temporary decline, with consumption down from 15% to 20%.

“We may have expected to see an uptake in the use of streaming music services, as people become confined in their homes,” market analyst Alexandre Jornod said in a statement. “This is linked to consumers adjusting to new confinement rules, which have removed key music listening situations like the daily commute, as well as office and gym time.”

Follow us on Instagram

Futuresource says that as families spend more time at home together, music consumption is becoming a shared activity. Before the pandemic people were using separate accounts to play different music, now smart speakers are likely to be used with a single account used to play music in the household.

The London-based firm said there is also competition from gaming, movie and TV show streaming. These activities require a higher level of attention and tend to be favored when some extra time is freed up as a result of routines being interrupted.

“Once consumers become accustomed to the situation and establish new routines, we expect streaming music to get back to levels similar to before the crisis,” Jornod said. “Home listening will dominate, with a shift in the music types and genres as consumers seek out lean-back mood playlists as opposed to searching for specific songs or artists.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Meanwhile, Futuresource said Spotify and Apple account for more than 60% of combined global subscriptions. Spotify remains No.1 globally, with Apple No. 1 in the United States. Amazon Music’s multiple streaming plans cater to a wide audience, although its subscriptions are closely linked to Echo smart speaker geographies, which skew heavily towards the U.S. and U.K., according to Futuresource.

The research firm contends Google-owned YouTube Music has the potential to become a key player thanks to its established YouTube audience. Smaller players like Deezer, Tidal and Napster are focusing instead on strategies such as targeting local markets, serving niche audiences or B2B operations.

“Streaming music subscriptions also benefit from markets where physical media has been historically strong and they are now transitioning to streaming,” Jornod said, alluding to Germany, Japan and France, which he said are experiencing accelerated adoption — unlike maturing markets in North America.

“Watch out for a rise in podcasts beginning to exert its influence, as well as enhanced listening experiences such as Hi-Res audio, Dolby Atmos Music and Sony 360 Reality Audio,” Jornod said.

RIAA: Recorded Music Sales Up 13% to $11.1 Billion in 2019

When streaming is your friend, the fiscal outlook never looked better. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) disclosed that sales of recorded music in the United States grew 13% to $11.1 billion.

About 80% of that revenue came from subscription streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube Music and Apple Music, among others. Indeed, the RIAA said streaming revenue alone ($8.8 billion) topped the entire U.S. recorded-music market from just two years ago. Music consumers streamed more than 1.5 trillion songs in 2019.

Follow us on Instagram

Meanwhile, vinyl records continue their comeback, generating a 19% increase in sales — the largest revenue for the format since 1988 Overall, packaged music sales dipped 1% to $1.15 billion — largely due to a 12% decline in music CD sales.

Notably, digital music download sales dropped 18% to $856 million, marking the first time since 2006 that revenue fell below $1 billion.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Music is by far the biggest draw to tech platforms, gaining views and listens that generate enormous revenues for distributors,” Mitch Glazier, CEO of RIAA, said in a statement. Music companies have driven a fourth consecutive year of double digit growth and continued to build a digital-driven industry with a focus on the future.”

 

Spotify Music Streaming Service Tops 100 Million Subs; Ups Fiscal Loss

SpotifyTechnology S.A. April 29 announced its branded music subscription streaming service reached 100 million paid subscribers in the first quarter, ended March 31.

That beat the previous-year period with 75.5 million paid subs. It also nearly doubled Apple Music with 50 million subs.

Average monthly users grew 26% to 217 million (which includes free ad-supported music users), slightly lower than the company’s 215-220 million guidance range.

“Outperformance was driven by a better promotion plan in the U.S. and Canada,” founder/CEO Daniel Ek and CFO Barry McCarthy said in a statement, alluding to a 23% price reduction ($12.99 to $9.99 monthly) for the “Spotify Premium + Hulu” promotion in the U.S.

McCarthy was Netflix’s CFO from 1999 to 2010.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Spotify launched India in late February expanding its global market footprint to 79 countries. More than 1 million users signed up for Spotify in the first week in India. The company now has more than 2 million users in India.

Regardless, the streaming service reported an operating loss of €47 million ($52.4 million) on revenue of €1.5 billion ($1.67 billion), which was up 33% from revenue of  €1.1 billion ($1.22 billion) last year.

 The service, along with Pandora, Google and Amazon Prime Music, remains embroiled in a royalty dispute with songwriters.

Last month, the Register of the Copyright Office approved upping songwriters’ royalties from music streaming services from 10.5% to 15.1%  through 2022.

It was biggest rate increase granted in CRB history, according to the National Music Publishers’ Association.

Spotify & Co. are appealing the hike, claiming it “harms music licensees and copyright owners,” among other issues. Apple Music is not appealing the ruling.

Apple Responds to Spotify Complaint

Apple March 15 responded to Spotify’s decision to file a complaint against Apple Music with the European Commission citing unfair business practices, including taxes and restrictions on tech and user-enhancements, among other issues.

Spotify ended its most-recent fiscal period with 87 million paid subscribers, compared with about 50 million for Apple Music. Both services operate through the App Store, which is owned and operated by Apple — and at the center of Spotify’s gripe.

Specifically, Swedish-based Spotify takes issue with the 30% tax it and other digital services must pay utilizing Apple’s payment system. If the service opts out of the payment platform, Spotify alleges Apple restricts how it can communicate with its subscribers outside the app.

“In some cases, we aren’t even allowed to send emails to our customers who use Apple,” Spotify founder/CEO Daniel Elk wrote in a March 13 post.

In a 1,124-word response on its website, Apple said Spotify wants to enjoy the benefits of the App Store without paying for them.

“Spotify has every right to determine their own business model, but we feel an obligation to respond when Spotify wraps its financial motivations in misleading rhetoric about who we are, what we’ve built and what we do to support independent developers, musicians, songwriters and creators of all stripes,” Apple wrote.

The tech giant said the App Store has created “many millions of jobs,” generating more than $120 billion for developers while creating new industries such as subscription music streaming via through businesses like Spotify started and grown entirely in the App Store ecosystem.

“After using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store — including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store’s customers — without making any contributions to that marketplace,” Apple wrote.

The iPhone/iPad/Apple Watch creator said the 30% tax imposed on app payments drops to 15% after one year.

Apple said the majority of Spotify customers use their free, ad-supported product, which makes no financial contribution to the App Store. A significant portion of Spotify’s users come through partnerships with mobile carriers, which Apple claimed generates no App Store contribution but requires Spotify to pay a similar distribution fee to retailers and carriers.

“Even now, only a tiny fraction of their subscriptions fall under Apple’s revenue-sharing model. Spotify is asking for that number to be zero,” Apple wrote.

“Spotify wouldn’t be the business they are today without the App Store ecosystem, but now they’re leveraging their scale to avoid contributing to maintaining that ecosystem for the next generation of app entrepreneurs. We think that’s wrong.”

 

 

Spotify Files Complaint Against Apple Music with European Commission

Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service, has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission alleging the tech giant unfairly restricts competition against the Apple Music service.

Spotify ended its most-recent fiscal period with 87 million paid subscribers compared to about 50 million for Apple Music.

In a March 13 blog post, Daniel Elk, founder and CEO of Spotify, said Apple has changed the rules and stifled innovation how it operates the proprietary App Store. Elk argues that as Apple is both the owner of the iOS platform and the App Store — a competitor to services like Spotify, which gives the company an unfair advantage.

Specifically, Spotify takes issue with the 30% tax it and other digital services must pay utilizing Apple’s payment system. If the service opts out of the payment platform, Spotify alleges Apple restricts how it can communicate with its subscribers outside the app, in addition to limiting tech and user-enhancements.

“In some cases, we aren’t even allowed to send emails to our customers who use Apple,” Elk wrote.

The executive said apps should be able to compete fairly on their merits and not based on who owns the App Store. He said consumers should have a choice of payment systems and not be forced to use systems with discriminatory tariffs.

Elk said the App Store should not be allowed to control the communications between services and users, including allegedly placing unfair restrictions on marketing and promotions that benefit consumers.

“After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we’re now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition,” he wrote.

 

 

 

Music Streaming Services Appealing Royalty Increase for Artists

Subscription streaming music services such as Spotify, Pandora, Amazon and Google are planning to appeal proposed royalty rate increases for artists finalized last month by the Copyright Royalty Board.

It marks the first time music distributors have appealed compensation rates to artists. Apple Music, the world’s largest streaming service with nearly 50 million subscribers, is not contesting the royalty hike.

The three-member CRB ruled last year — in a 2-1 vote — to increase artists’ share of streaming and record label revenue from 10.1% to 15.1% through 2022.

The streaming services and artists groups spent millions lobbying their sides of the debate. Spotify & Co. contend the decision to increase artists’ compensation involved “serious” procedural and “substantive” concerns.

“If left to stand, the CRB’s decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners,” the services said in a joint statement. “Accordingly, we are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision.”

David Israelite, CEO of National Music Publishers Association, criticized the streaming services for undermining the artists that drive consumer adoption.

“When the Music Modernization Act became law [in 2018], there was hope it signaled a new day of improved relations between digital music services and songwriters,” said Israelite. “That hope was snuffed out today when Spotify and Amazon decided to sue songwriters in a shameful attempt to cut their payments by nearly one-third.”

 

 

 

 

 

Spotify Inks Direct Access Deal with Samsung Mobile Devices

Spotify March 8 announced a deal with Samsung offering mobile device users direct access to the second-largest music streaming service in the world (after Apple Music). Starting today, the Spotify app will be pre-installed on millions of new Samsung mobile devices globally.

New Spotify consumers in the U.S. with select Samsung Galaxy mobile devices, including the just-launched Galaxy S10, can qualify for six months of free Spotify Premium, redeemable through the app.

The partnership expands last year’s agreement affording Spotify with Samsung’s virtual assistant software, Bixby. Spotify also enhances the Bixby Home screen by providing Spotify content and recommendations tailored for each listener.

“This partnership makes it easy for Samsung mobile users to access their favorite music and podcasts on Spotify, wherever they are and however they choose to listen,” Sten Garmark, VP of consumer products, Spotify, said in a statement.

The embedded Spotify app aims to make Samsung mobile devices more appealing to consumers.

“Our goal is to deliver the best possible mobile experience … and Spotify is the ideal music partner to help us make that vision a reality,” said Patricio Paucar, VP of marketing, Samsung Electronics America. “Whether they’re listening to the latest hit albums or checking out their favorite playlist, we’re giving eligible Galaxy S10 users access to an amazing six month Spotify Premium offer.”

 

 

CTA: Consumer Spending on Video/Music Streaming Services to Increase 25% to $26 Billion in 2019

Domestic consumer spending on video and music streaming services is projected to increase 25% to $26 billion in 2019, according to new data from the Consumer Technology Association.

On-demand music services (e.g., Spotify, Pandora or Apple Music) will bring in an expected $7.7 billion in revenue, up 22% as providers race to gain subscribers.

Spearheaded by artificial intelligence (AI) technology being incorporated in myriad consumer electronics devices, consumer spending on smartphones, smart home devices, smart speakers and subscription streaming entertainment will drive the domestic consumer technology industry to a record-breaking $398 billion in retail revenue in 2019 – up 3.9% from 2018, according to the CTA.

“Our latest research shows innovations in AI and faster connectivity are among the key drivers for the industry’s record growth,” CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement.

Voice-controlled smart speakers, including Amazon Echo and Google Home are projected to sell 36.6 million units (up 5% year-over-year) and earn $3.2 billion in revenue (up 7%). Although adoption is slowing due to rapid voice integration in other devices such as TVs, smart home devices and other audio products, smart speakers remain a category to watch as consumers embrace the benefits of AI in their home.

“The future is bright for many tech products consumers already know and love, as stalwart revenue drivers including smartphones, laptops and televisions continue to innovate,” said Steve Koenig, VP of market research, CTA.

The top three industry revenue drivers continue to be smartphones, laptops and televisions.

After the introduction of pricier, flagship models from major manufacturers, smartphone revenue is expected to reach $80 billion, a 2% increase in 2019. Unit shipments are expected to grow 1% to 170.7 million.

This year marks the launch of the first 5G smartphones on the market. CTA expects 2019 U.S. sales will reach 2.1 million units and cross $1 billion in revenue. By 2022, 76% of all smartphones sold will be 5G-enabled.

In 2019, the U.S. laptop market will sell 51 million units, up 3% over last year, and earn $28.4 billion in revenue (unchanged from 2018). Convertible models and cloud-based laptops remain high-growth areas within computing, as consumers continue to upgrade to the latest operating systems.

Overall, unit sales of total digital displays in 2019 will remain above 42 million units (down 1%) and register $22.6 billion in revenue (up 2%). More than three-quarters of TV shipments will be sets with 40-inch screens or larger.

Future upgrades will be driven by 4K Ultra High-Definition (4K UHD) sets, which now make up more than half of all TV unit sales. 4K UHD will sell 22 million units (14 percent increase) and $16.4 billion in revenue (up 8%). Raising the bar on resolution, inaugural shipments of 8K UHD TVs will reach $545 million in revenue. And budding OLED shipments will reach 1.4 million sets with double digit growth through 2022.

“2019 will mark the introduction of 5G-enabled devices and smartphones and next-gen screen technology such as 8K UHD televisions to the market,” said Koenig. “And constantly-evolving content from streaming services that enhances the experience across ‘the three screens’ – TVs, smartphones, laptops – will help push consumer spending in tech to new levels.”

 

Spotify Settles $1.6 Billion Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Brought by Music Publisher Representing Tom Petty and Others

Spotify has settled a $1.6 billion IP lawsuit alleging the music subscription streaming service failed to get physical clearances and properly compensate artists, among other issues.

New York-based Spotify, which reportedly has 75 million active subscribers and 170 million monthly users, and Wixen Music Publishing – whose clients include the late Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks and Rage Against the Machine – mutually agreed to dismiss the case after both sides came to an undisclosed business resolution.

In a joint statement, Wixen and Spotify said they agreed to a final dismissal of the lawsuit filed by Wixen in late 2017.

“The conclusion of that litigation is a part of a broader business partnership between the parties, which fairly and reasonably resolves the legal claims asserted by Wixen relating to past licensing of Wixen’s catalog and establishes a mutually-advantageous relationship for the future,” said the companies.

The recently enacted Music Modernization Act signed by President Trump in October hopes to negate future similar litigation by streamlining the clearance process enabling artists to get compensated more quickly by digital music services.

Notably, the legislation also meant artists and songwriters would – for the first time – receive royalties from streaming services for content recorded and published before 1972.