Media

Apester unveils a new Story Strip format for online publishers

Posted by | apester, Media, Mobile, Startups | No Comments

Apester, which helps digital publishers add interactivity to their content, is rolling out a new format called the Story Strip.

CEO and co-founder Moti Cohen told me that the Story Strip is modeled on the Story format popularized by Snapchat and Instagram — a format that he praised for being one of the few content types that’s truly “tailored to the mobile experience,” offering a fast, interactive experience for readers.

Cohen said that by bringing the format out of “the social walled gardens” and allowing publishers to embed Story Strips into their articles, Apester is “paving the way for media companies to capture a new audience, a young audience.”

You can see a Story Strip for yourself on TV Insider, a pop culture and entertainment website of NTVB Media. It appears in articles as a carousel of related stories, allowing readers to select the story that interests them and then quickly swipe through slides summarizing the story highlights.

Cohen said a Story Strip can be created by a publisher’s editorial team, or Apester can automatically generate them based on an article. And because they can also include ads, this creates new monetization opportunities for publishers. In fact, Apester says TV Insider has seen its daily revenue double since the two companies started working together.

As for how these kinds of content widgets might fit in as publishers explore subscriptions and other business models beyond advertising, Cohen argued that even as business models change, “the blend is what’s going to be important.”

And by allowing publishers to engage with users and collect data about their behavior, he said, “Apester is going to allow you to monetize all of [your audiences] differently … You can use the engagement that’s happening and understand why it’s happening in order to drive the right action.”

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IAC outlines its plans for a Match Group spin-off

Posted by | IAC, Match Group, Media, Mobile, Social | No Comments

Digital media holding company IAC has taken the next step toward spinning off Match Group, with a proposal outlining what that process would look like.

Match Group (which owns Tinder, PlentOfFish, OkCupid, Hinge and of course Match itself) is already a publicly traded company, but IAC remains the majority owner. With the spin-off, IAC says it should distribute its Match Group shares to IAC stockholders, “resulting in two independent public companies.”

“Today IAC proposed an important first step in the separation of Match Group from IAC,” said IAC CEO Joey Levin in a statement. “IAC is confident that the proposal communicated to the Match Group special committee provides strong footing for Match Group to begin its journey as a thriving, independent company.”

Under the proposal (which IAC says still needs to be approved by its board of directors, as well as the aforementioned special committee, as well as stockholders), Match Group’s dual-class stock structure would  be eliminated, creating a single class of stock.

The company said in August that it was exploring spin-offs of both Match Group and ANGI Homeservices.

In his statement today, Levin said, “As it relates to evaluating our ownership stake in ANGI Homeservices, we don’t currently expect to turn our attention to the question of a spin-off until a Match Group transaction has been completed.”

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Get ready to see more looping videos on Spotify, as Canvas launches into beta

Posted by | Media, Mobile, Music, Spotify, streaming, streaming service, videos | No Comments

Spotify is opening up its Canvas feature to more artists, the company announced this morning, which means you’ll see a lot more of those looping videos on the app starting soon. The feature has been in limited testing before today with select artists. When available, you don’t just see the album artwork behind the player controls — you see a moving, visual experience that plays in a short loop.

So far, Canvas has had mixed reviews from Spotify users. Some find the looping imagery distracting, while others simply prefer seeing the album art. Some people seem to like the feature. But others only like it with certain content and artists.

The challenge is in designing a video loop that works well. That means it shouldn’t be an attempt to try to lip sync to a part of a song. It shouldn’t include intense flashing graphics or text, nor should it distract people from being able to see the player controls and track information.

Screen Shot 2019 10 10 at 12.07.54 PM

Spotify also suggests trying to tell a full story in the loop rather than just drastically trimming a music video down to the time allotted (three to eight-second clips). Other recommended Canvas experiences are those that help develop the artists’ persona across their profile and tracks, or those that are updated frequently. Billie Eilish, for example, uses the feature to share animated versions of fan art.

Since launching, Canvas has been seen by millions of users, Spotify says. But the company seems to acknowledge the impact varies, based on how the Canvas is designed. When it works, it can “significantly increase” track streams, shares and artists page visits. But Spotify didn’t say what happens when the feature fails to engage fans.

However, based on social media discussions about the feature and how-to guides detailing how to turn the thing off, it would seem that some users choose to opt out of the experience entirely.

Today, Spotify says Canvas will no longer be limited to select artists, as it’s opening more broadly to artists in an expanded beta. With the beta, Spotify hopes artists will treat Canvas as a critical part of their release strategy, and will continue to use it across their catalog.

“It’s a way to get noticed and build a vision — and an excellent way to share more of who you are with your listeners, hopefully turning them into fans,” the company writes in an announcement. “The goal is for you to have richer ways to express yourself and to allow listeners to engage with you and your music even more deeply. We’re continuing to work on additional features, as well as more tools and metrics to help you better understand how your art is reaching your audience,” the company says.

It’s hard not to comment on the timing of this launch. At the end of September, Google announced that YouTube Music would not be preinstalled on new Android devices, taking the place of Google Play Music. With YouTube Music, streamers gain access to a visually immersive experience where they can watch the music videos, not just listen to the audio, if they prefer.

Spotify, however, has traditionally been a place to listen — not to watch. That’s not to say there aren’t music videos on Spotify, they’re just not well-highlighted by the app nor a core part of the Spotify experience.

The company says it’s now sending artists their invites to join the beta. Those who haven’t received the invite can instead make a request to be added here.

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Spotify gains Siri support on iOS 13, arrives on Apple TV

Posted by | apple tv, Apps, iOS 13, Media, Mobile, siri, Spotify | No Comments

In a long-awaited move, Spotify announced this morning its iOS 13 app would now offer Siri support and its streaming music service would also become available on Apple TV. That means you can now request your favorite music or podcasts using Siri voice commands, by preferencing the command with “Hey Siri, play…,” followed by the audio you want and concluding the command with “on Spotify.”

The Siri support had been spotted earlier while in beta testing, but the company hadn’t confirmed when it would be publicly available.

According to Spotify, the Siri support will also work over Apple AirPods, on CarPlay and via AirPlay on Apple HomePod.

In addition, the Spotify iOS app update will include support for iPhone’s new data-saver mode, which aids when bandwidth is an issue.

Spotify is also today launching on Apple TV, joining other Spotify apps for TV platforms, including Roku, Android TV, Samsung Tizen and Amazon Fire TV.

The app updates are still rolling out, so you may need to wait to take advantage of the Apple TV support and other new features.

The lack of Siri support for Spotify was not the streaming music service’s fault — it wasn’t until iOS 13 that such support even became an option. With the new mobile operating system launched in September, Apple finally opened up its SiriKit framework to third-party apps, allowing end-users to better control their apps using voice commands. That includes audio playback on music services like Spotify, as well as the ability to like and dislike tracks, skip or go to the next song and get track information.

Pandora, Google Maps and Waze were among the first to adopt Siri integration when it became available in iOS 13 — a clear indication that some of Apple’s chief rivals have been ready and willing to launch Siri support as soon as it was possible.

Though the integration with Siri will be useful for end-users and beneficial to Spotify’s business, it may also weaken the streaming company’s antitrust claims against Apple.

Spotify has long stated that Apple engages in anti-competitive business practices when it comes to its app platform, which is designed to favor its own apps and services, like Apple Music, it says. Among its chief complaints was the inability of third-party apps to work with Siri, which gave Apple’s own apps a favored position. Spotify also strongly believes the 30% revenue share required by the App Store hampers its growth potential.

The streamer filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in the European Union in March. And now, U.S. lawmakers have reached out to Spotify to request information as a part of an antitrust probe here in the states, reports claim. 

Despite its new ability to integrate with Siri in iOS 13, Spotify could argue that it’s still not enough. Users will have to say “on Spotify” to take advantage of the new functionality, instead of being able to set their default music app to Spotify, which would be easier. It could also point out that the support is only available to iOS 13 devices, not the entire iOS market.

Along with the Apple-related news, Spotify today also announced support for Google Nest Home Max, Sonos Move, Sonos One SL, Samsung Galaxy Fold, and preinstallation on Michael Kors Access, Diesel and Emporio Armani Wear OS smartwatches.

 

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Amazon’s Prime Video app disappears from the App Store [Updated]

Posted by | Amazon, Amazon Prime, Apple, apple tv apps, Apps, iOS apps, Media, Mobile, prime video, Video, video streaming | No Comments

In what we understand was a “technical issue”, the Amazon Prime Video app disappeared from the Apple App Store, making it unavailable for new downloads or updates to users both on iOS and Apple TV. Twitter users began to tweet to Amazon for help about the problem on Friday morning, to which Amazon’s support channels have yet to reply.

[Update: we’ve learned the issue is technical in nature, but we have no further information as to the details of the problem. The app should be back shortly.]

[Update 2: Amazon has now offered a comment on the disappearance.

“Earlier today, there was a technical glitch that impacted the Prime Video app on iOS and tvOS devices,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “The issue has been resolved, and the Prime Video app is now once again available in the App Store.”

Earlier post continues below:

The app’s disappearance was earlier reported by AppleInsider, iMore and others.

The most likely reason for the app’s removal is a technical one — an issue with the update could have caused it to be temporarily pulled, perhaps.

What’s not likely is that Amazon Prime Video is gone for good.

The company just released an X-Ray upgrade to the app across platforms, including iOS, allowing users to get more information about what they’re streaming, including Amazon’s run of Thursday Night Football games.

Nor is it likely that Apple has for some reason booted out Prime Video, given the anti-competitive nature of such a move (Apple TV+ is soon to launch), at a time when the tech giants are under increased regulatory scrutiny.

Not just you – https://t.co/DTgGRZwsUc

— Jared DiPane (@jareddipane) October 4, 2019

Was ist da los? Amazon Prime Video wurde aus dem App Store entfernt? pic.twitter.com/w6urAq7X70

— Pino (@madphone) October 4, 2019

The amazon prime video app is gone from the App Store? 🤔@PrimeVideo pic.twitter.com/wtiyIBCI3u

— Adrian (@emoflipsan) October 4, 2019

@PrimeVideo is it just me or is the Amazon Prime Video app gone from the Apple App Store??

— Gary Schafer (@GaryLSchafer) October 4, 2019

Does the Amazon Prime Video app not exist on the App Store anymore?

— Swapnanil Dhol (@SwapnanilDhol) October 4, 2019

Whaaat!!! Amazon Prime Video App removed pic.twitter.com/ayxtrGAHuz

— Jesús Cruz (@jesusmisanador) October 4, 2019

Amazon video is no longer in App Store @amazon @PrimeVideo pic.twitter.com/JuY3s9Ygs0

— Ahmad Najim Noori (@Ah_najeem_noori) October 4, 2019

The issue isn’t only impacting users in the U.S., nor is it limited to iPhone, as Apple TV is also affected.

According to data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the app was removed today in all regions except Australia, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, India, Kenya, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar and Saudi Arabia.

Amazon has not responded publicly to users asking for help.

TechCrunch has also reached out to Amazon for comment and will update when we hear back.

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Stock trading app Robinhood revamps its newsfeed with The Wall Street Journal and ad-free videos

Posted by | Apps, Media, Mobile, Robinhood, Startups | No Comments

Robinhood may be best known for its free stock trading, but today it’s rolling out a new version of the newsfeed, adding content from Reuters, Barron’s and market coverage from The Wall Street Journal, with no paywall or additional charge.

In addition, Robinhood is introducing video into the newsfeed, with ad-free videos from CNN Business, Cheddar and (again) Reuters.

The startup, which recently raised $323 million at a $7.6 billion valuation, has been showing more interest in content lately with the acquisition of the financial podcast and newsletter MarketSnacks — and as part of the redesign, the newsletter (now called Snacks) can be read directly in the app.

“A lot of this is not even about making investment decisions,” Robinhood’s vice president of Product Josh Elman told me. “[Some users] check Robinhood very, very often just to consume the news and understand the companies that they’re watching, the ones that they are invested in and continuing to hold.”

He added that just buying and selling stocks is “sort of a utility,” so Robinhood wants to help its users “to feel informed, to be empowered to make their own decisions.”

Robinhood newsfeed

Before redesigning the newsfeed, Elman said the team did a seven-day study, where they asked subjects to create a diary of “all of their experiences reading and understanding market news.”

Among other things, Elman’s team learned that people “really want to read news from multiple, trusted sources,” which is why Robinhood is partnering with these publications. In addition, they saw that people like watching videos: “Even if it’s in the background, ultimately, people really told us they feel more confident and control in their decisions.”

Along with bringing in new content (which, again, is taken out from behind paywalls and is ad-free), Elman said the Robinhood newsfeed also features “all-new algorithms and a whole new display layer.” Robinhood users can see the new interface for themselves, but I was curious about those algorithms.

“We start with the companies you either own and hold in your portfolio or are watching, what types of sources do you frequently like to watch … and we make sure that we’re bringing you that news as much as possible,” Elman said. “And we have a lot of room to grow from here.”

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YouTube Music is launching three new personalized playlists

Posted by | Apps, Media, Mobile, Music, personalization, streaming service, TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2019, YouTube, YouTube Music | No Comments

YouTube Music is preparing to better challenge Spotify and others with the launch of three new personalized playlists — Discover Mix, New Release Mix and Your Mix — said YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan in an onstage interview this morning at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2019.

Discover Mix, YouTube Music’s version of Spotify’s Discover Weekly, had already been spotted in the wild back in September. But it wasn’t yet broadly available. The other two hadn’t yet launched.

“Our YouTube Music app has been out now for a couple of years, we’ve launched the YouTube Premium service and the app and now 71 different countries,” noted Mohan. “And as we’ve rolled it out, we’ve gotten lots of feedback from our users about what they’d love to see,” he continued. “And one of the things that they tell us repeatedly is, they love the fact that, through a combination of things like machine learning and human beings that are music lovers, we put all this great music in front of our users in the YouTube Music app,” he said.

disrupt neal mohan youtube 0142

According to Mohan, the Discover Mix will focus on helping users uncover new artists and music they might like, including tracks from artists you’ve never listened to before as well as lesser-known tracks from artists you already love.

The playlist takes advantage of your historical listening data on YouTube Music and on YouTube, he said.

New Release Mix, meanwhile, is YouTube Music’s version of Spotify’s Your Release Radar, and features the most recent release from your favorite artists.

Finally, Your Mix is a playlist that combines the music you love with songs you haven’t heard yet but will probably like, based on your listening habits.

The mixes will be updated weekly, and will be made available to all users worldwide, where they’ll be found on the “Mixed for You” shelf on the home screen, or by searching in the app.

All three will launch sometime later this month, but YouTube doesn’t have an exact date.

The additions arrive at a time when Google is preparing to transition its Google Play Music users over to YouTube Music, which makes it a much bigger threat to existing music streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora and others.

While YouTube Music hasn’t yet replaced Play Music entirely or shut down the older app, it did just make YouTube Music the default music app that ships with new Android devices, instead of Google Play Music.

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Knowable launches its ‘not a podcast’ $100 audio classes

Posted by | Andreessen Horowitz, Apps, Connie Chan, eCommerce, Education, Entertainment, funding, Fundings & Exits, Media, Mobile, Podcasts, Recent Funding, Snackable Media, Startups, TC | No Comments

Books on tape were the lifeblood of self-help. But e-learning startups like Khan Academy and Coursera demanded our eyes, not just our ears. Then came podcasts that make knowledge accessible, yet rarely focus on you retaining and applying what they teach.

Today, a new startup called Knowable is launching to provide gaze-free audio education at $100 per eight-hour course on topics like how to launch a startup or how to sleep better. The idea is that by layering chapter summaries and eventually interactive activities atop premium, long-form, ad-free lessons, it can become the trusted name in learning anywhere. With always-in Bluetooth earbuds and smart speakers becoming ubiquitous, we can imbibe content in smaller chunks in new environments. Knowable wants to fill that time with self-improvement.

The big question is whether Knowable can differentiate its content from free alternatives and build a moat against copycats through savvy voice-responsive learning exercises so you don’t forget everything.

To evolve beyond the podcast, Knowable has raised a $3.75 million seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz’s partner Connie Chan, and joined by Upfront, First Round and Initialized. “The market is ready for a company like Knowable. Their timing is right and their team possesses the rare combination of product expertise and creative media experience necessary to win. That’s why I’m not just hosting Knowable’s first course, Launch a Startup, we’re also one of the earliest investors in the company,” says Initialized’s Alexis Ohanian.

Knowable Courses

There’s certainly a market opportunity, as 32% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly, up from 26% in 2018, with 74% of those citing the desire to learn. Half of Americans have listened to an audio book. The e-learning market is $190 billion today, but projected to grow to $300 billion as bloated and expensive higher education succumbs to cheaper and more focused options.

But to score consistent revenue, Knowable must build up its library and execute on plans to offer a subscription service with access to updates on prior lessons. A major challenge will be bundling classes on the right topics that don’t exhaust users so they keep listening and paying.

Building a school from sound

“My first-generation immigrant parents came here without college degrees. Great teachers let me move up the socioeconomic ladder pretty quickly,” says Knowable co-founder Warren Shaeffer. “The genesis of the idea came from our shared interest in education and the value of great teachers.”

Knowable ChaptersShaeffer and his co-founder Alex Benzer have already been through the struggles of startup life together. After meeting at MuckerLab in LA and splitting from their respective co-founders, in 2007 they created SocialEngine, a community website builder that sold to Room 214. Next they built up a video platform for independent creators called Vidme that raised $9 million but never became sustainable before selling to Giphy in 2018.

The pair had glimpsed how great content could rope in an audience, but felt like the true potential of the podcast hadn’t been explored. Why did they have to be produced on the cheap, distributed on generic platforms and supported by ads? Knowable emerged as a way to create luxury audio, delivered through a purpose-built app and paid for with direct sales or subscriptions. Instead of recording unscripted discussions as episodes, they mapped out course curriculum and filled them with structured advice from experts.

I’m a few hours into the Ohanian-hosted Launch a Startup. It’s certainly a lot more efficient than trying to learn the basics just through storytelling from podcasts like Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale or NPR’s How I Built This. One chapter breaks down the top ways startups die and the traits you’ll need to persevere. From optimism and resilience operating in unstructured environments to a refusal to make excuses why you can’t succeed, Ohanian cooly recaps the learnings at the end of the chapter. Open the app and you’ll get a written summary plus suggested blog posts and books for diving deeper. An accompanying 95-page PDF workbook collects all the key learnings for rapid review later.

The topic is huge, though, and Knowable is at its best when it’s distilling knowledge into neatly packaged lists and frameworks. The course’s weakest moments are when it feels most like a podcast, with somewhat meandering conversations with random founders discussing how they dealt with problems. Meanwhile, it currently lacks some basic tools like in-app notetaking and sharing, or as wide a range of playback speeds and rewind options as you’ll get on Audible. “We don’t think of ourselves as a podcast company,” Shaeffer says, but that’s still who he’s competing against.

pic.twitter.com/ZAC4oI5N1p

— Alexis Ohanian Sr. 🚀 (@alexisohanian) May 28, 2019

What’s also missing is any true interactivity. The downside of audio learning is that if you’re not paying full attention, it’s easy to zone out. Knowable needs to develop voice and touch-controlled exercises to help users apply and retain the lessons. There are plans to launch learning communities where students can confer about the classes, akin to Y Combinator’s “Bookface” forum.

However, Shaeffer says that “we’re on a mission to make education more accessible and quizzes might be an impediment to that,” which leaves questions about what the learning activities will look like, even though they’re crucial to users coughing up $100 per class. It’s easy to imagine Spotify/Anchor, Gimlet Media or other major podcast players developing their own interactive features and classes if Knowable doesn’t get there first.

Snackable audio education

The startup’s bid for virality is the ability to give a friend a code to take the class with you. Knowable is also hoping big-name experts and quality driven by a team cobbled together from NPR, The Washington Post, William Morris Endeavor, Masterclass and Vice will set it apart. They’ve got a lot of work ahead to grow beyond the six courses currently available on topics like climate change activism and real estate, especially because there’s a 100% money-back guarantee if classes fall short.

For the moment, Knowable feels a bit late with its homework. It has the potential and demand to reinvent audio learning but currently sounds too similar to what’s already everywhere. I was hoping for a Bandersnatch for education that made a broadcast experience feel more like a game.

But the opportunity will only continue to grow as we spend more of our lives in earshot of AirPods and Echoes. With a broad enough library and clever editing, one day you might tell Knowable “teach me something about venture capital in eight minutes” as you walk to the coffee shop. That’s going to have a much better impact on your life than just scrolling through another feed.

 

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Pandora puts its personalization powers to work in a revamped app

Posted by | Apps, curation, Media, Mobile, Music, Pandora, personalization, Podcasts, streaming, streaming music | No Comments

Pandora is doubling down on personalization and revamping its app in order to better compete with rivals like Spotify and Apple Music. Today, the company is introducing a new mobile experience that includes a dedicated “For You” tab where a continually updated feed of content is presented to users, including both music and podcast recommendations (and more). This content is personalized to the individual, based on factors like the day of the week, the time of day and Pandora’s predictions about your mood, among other things.

The new personalized feed will also help the company to better showcase more of its exclusive content — like its music-and-podcast combos, called “Pandora Stories,” for example. Or the dozens of SiriusXM talk shows that became Pandora podcasts following its acquisition.

“Our listeners have told us that they love the utility of Pandora — it’s drop-dead easy, it works, it knows me, it’s really simple,” explains Pandora’s Chief Product Officer Chris Phillips. “But what they haven’t been able to understand and have easy enough access to is all the content and programming that we have available on Pandora — the new content, new programming and the unique content that you can’t get other places,” he says.

The For You tab aims to change that by turning Pandora’s personalization capabilities onto its broader catalog and exclusives, then crafting a scrollable feed with dozens of ways to listen.

SuperbrowseHeroStatic 002

Here, you’ll be able to tap into Pandora Modes, for example, which is a new way to listen to Pandora Stations. The feature was previously available on the web, and has now come to mobile for the first time with today’s launch.

Pandora Modes let you toggle between ways to customize your stations. You can opt for modes that will tweak the station to play things like the most popular songs (“crowd faves”), the deep cuts, new releases, artist-only tracks and more. You also can opt for a “discovery” mode to have Pandora introduce you to new artists you may like, as related to the station in question.

Another section in the For You tab lets you browse by categories, including genre, new music, podcasts, moods, playlists, decades and trending.

The “Moods & Activities” section, meanwhile, will present collections of music based on current trends — for example, one of the available “moods” is “fall,” and another could be “rainy day,” matched up with the day’s weather. You also can dig into this section for moods to match your activity, like workout, gaming, studying, family time and more.

As you scroll down the For You page, you’ll come across your podcast recommendations and personalized playlists. And Pandora can create some 80 different versions of the latter, which include playlists by moods, activities, genres and more, all powered by its Music Genome.

Plus, the combined Pandora and SiriusXM editorial team of around 25 creates hundreds of human-curated playlists, too.

PandoraModes BlogImage

In total, there are some 35 different modules in Pandora’s new For You feed, some of which are shown to every user while others appear dynamically based on time of day and day of week. Its suggestions will also be tailored to your own likes and interests, thanks to your own listening behavior and explicit signals, like thumbs up and thumbs down.

That means your For You tab will be unique to you, and you can later be targeted with specific promotions — like the content to emerge from that deal between SiriusXM/Pandora and Drake, for example, if relevant to your interests. (Hey, it’s better than that time when Spotify put Drake’s face on every playlist.)

Despite the personalization, the feed will still include some insights powered by the larger Pandora population, so you can see what’s popular and trending more broadly across the service.

In time, Pandora plans to roll out even more modules to build out the experience further.

100 billion thumbs are what’s powering all this,” adds Phillips, speaking of Pandora’s recent milestone, which measured the number of thumbs up and down clicks from users. Until now, he says, Pandora “hadn’t really brought together the community…and the power of our personalization, but not just for stations — for all the playlists, albums, songs and artists,” Phillips continues. “And then the idea that we lay on top of all of this…the idea of what time of day it is, and what might be interesting based on what we predict your mood is right now,” he says.

The “For You” tab and other features are arriving today on Pandora for iOS and Android.

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Spotify now lets you add podcasts to playlists

Posted by | Media, Mobile, playlists, Podcasts, Spotify | No Comments

Spotify this morning announced a new feature that will allow users to add their podcasts to playlists. With the addition, users can create their own custom playlists of their favorite podcasts, or even those that combine music and audio — similar to Spotify’s own newly launched “Your Daily Drive.”

With “Your Daily Drive,” Spotify put its personalization engine to work to combine both music and news from select sources. But with the ability to now build your own podcast-filled playlists, you won’t have to rely on Spotify’s curation as much.

Instead, you can build your own podcast playlists by tapping the three-dot menu to the right of the podcast episode and then “Add to playlist.” You either can choose to add it a playlist you’ve already created, or you can build a new one from scratch. You can continue to add more content to this playlist, including music, if you prefer.

The company says this functionality is something users have regularly requested since the integration of podcasts to its streaming music service. However, it’s not necessarily the easiest way to tune into the latest episodes of your favorite programs, as it involves manual curation.

Many podcasts release new episodes every week or so — and don’t want to get stuck constantly building playlists for those. Instead, the feature makes more sense for curating a set of podcasts around a theme, or preparing yourself to binge your way through a few programs on a long commute or road trip, for example.

Spotify says today there are more than 3 billion user-generated music playlists on its service, so it believes that its users will embrace this new curation ability, as well.

Once a podcast playlist has been created, it can be shared with friends or the public, just like music playlists can be. This could make for an interesting marketing tool for podcasters, who could put together playlists of their best episodes or those with high-profile guest stars, for example, as a way to introduce newcomers to their shows. But it also could serve as a way for friends to recommend their favorite shows to others, by putting together a list of their all-time favorite episodes.

For those interested in tracking news and entertainment, they could build playlists of podcast episodes from different sources all focused on the same topic. For instance, a playlist offering everyone’s reviews of the new iPhone.

Over the past year or so, Spotify has heavily invested in the podcast market, including through acquisitions like GimletParcast and Anchor — as well as in its programming, like the deal with Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, for instance, and a quickly growing number of exclusives, windowed-exclusives and originals. It also hired former Condé Nast president of entertainment Dawn Ostroff to lead its content efforts.

Today, Spotify says it has “hundreds of thousands” of podcasts available to stream on its platform.

The new podcast playlist-building feature is mobile-only for now. On desktop, you can only stream the playlists you made, but can’t build them yet, Spotify says.

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