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Music Business News, May 7, 2017

The Musical.ly app and Apple Music joined forces. Also, Spotify acquired a bitcoin startup. And Twitter revealed a slate of live programming.


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Musical.ly and Apple Music Forging a Partnership


The musical.ly app and Apple Music joined forces on April 28 so users can stream full-length songs within musical.ly.


According to Music Business Worldwide, musical.ly users – “musers” – who also have Apple Music subscriptions can now play songs from beginning to end inside the app and also save their favorite songs to a custom “musical.ly playlist,” plus listen to other curated playlists at applemusic.com/musically.


Musical.ly was founded by Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang in 2014 and has exploded to 200 million users worldwide. Users share video clips of themselves singing along to songs..


President of musical.ly, North America Alex Hoffman explained, “At musical.ly we are focused on providing our passionate community of musers with the best experiences possible when it comes to discovering new music … The integration with Apple Music gives musers a new listening experience and further layers into their connection with the music they are already creating content to in musical.ly.”


The app has also become a valuable music discovery tool for artists looking to expand their fan bases In October 2016, musical.ly started up a program called #NextWave in order to bolster music discovery within the app.


The #NextWave folder provides 15 songs from new and emerging artists each month. The artist with the most videos created to their song in the #NextWave folder gets a campaign on musical.ly’s home page.


Past winners of #NextWave include Anne-Marie’s “Alarm,” Charli XCX’s “After the Afterparty,” Timeflies’ “Gravity,” Marian Hill’s song “Down” and MadeinTYO’s “Skateboard P.”


Musical.ly also just announced the #FirstListen and #FirstLook series that offers exclusive inside looks at songs and music videos.


Musical.ly has garnered the attention of well-known artists including Olly Murs, Jonas Blue, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande.


Spotify Getting into Bitcoin


Streaming music platform Spotify acquired bitcoin startup Mediachain in order to improve its royalty payment system using bitcoin’s underlying technology, reported Nasdaq.


Spotify was embroiled in legal problems in march when musicians, record labels and producers came after the platform for unpaid royalties. The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) announced that Spotify had settled a deal with these groups for $25 million with a $5 million penalty for unpaid/unmatched songs.


After the $30 million settlement, Jonathan Prince, Global Head of Communications and Public Policy at Spotify said that the company has been committed to compensating its musicians and publishers fairly since it launched in October 2008, but it has been imperfect at tracking all registered songs and has found it challenging to distribute royalties “accurately and proportionally.”


Prince explained, “As we have said many times, we have always been committed to paying songwriters and publishers every penny. We appreciate the hard work of everyone at the NMPA to secure this agreement and we look forward to further collaboration with them as we build a comprehensive publishing administration system.”


NMPA President and CEO David Israelite said that Spotify’s settlement will help the streaming service provider put more resources into making compensation for musicians and publishers more transparent and fair.


Israelite said, “I am thrilled that through this agreement both independent and major publishers and songwriters will be able to get what is owed to them. We must continue to push digital services to properly pay for the musical works that fuel their businesses and after much work together, we have found a way for Spotify to quickly get royalties to the right people. I look forward to all NMPA members being paid what they are owed, and I am excited about the creation of a better process moving forward.”


Spotify’s acquisition of Mediachain is part of this promise to the NMPA. Bitcoin technology is “transparent, immutable and irrefutable.” Spotify said it intends to develop and integrate a better platform for paying musicians and publishers based on this technology.


According to Spotify’s development team, developers of Mediachain intend to co-build a royalty-tracking platform designed specifically for Spotify.


An official statement from Spotify read, “Brooklyn-based Mediachain Labs has been the driving force behind the Mediachain project, a world-class blockchain research agenda and open source protocol to better manage data that is critical to the health of the music industry. The Mediachain team will join our New York City offices and help further Spotify’s journey towards a more fair, transparent and rewarding music industry for creators and rights owners.”


Spotify revealed an initial public offering in 2018.


Twitter Launching Original Live Television Programming


Twitter revealed new original programming deals meant to bring the social network into the live television market.


Billboard reported, Twitter struck up deals with entities like producer Ben Silverman, WNBA, BuzzFeed News and LiveNation in order to bring weekly and daily programming into the Twitter feed. Content will span sports, news, music and entertainment.


COO of Twitter Anthony Noto stated, “For 11 years, people have been engaging in conversations on Twitter about live events and shows on TV.”


Silverman unveiled that through his new company Propagate, he will be producing a daily live Twitter show called #WhatsHappening, focused on pop culture, music and entertainment news.


On top of #WhatsHappening, in the live music and entertainment arena is live concerts from Live Nation. The concert series is set to begin on May 13 with livestream concerts from Zac Brown Band, Train and Portugal.


CEO Jack Dorsey explained that Twitter’s programming strategy is designed to make Twitter the “go-to place” for users every day: “We want to be the first place that anyone hears of anything that matters to them. That is our focus, and that is what we will work so hard to deliver.”

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