streaming service

Spotify launches a dedicated Kids app for Premium Family subscribers

Posted by | Apps, children, family, kids, Media, Mobile, Music, parents, Spotify, streaming music, streaming service | No Comments

In a move to boost family subscriptions to its app, Spotify this morning announced the launch of a dedicated Kids application which allows children three and up to listen to their own music, both online and offline, as well as explore playlists and recommendations picked by experts, and more. The music selection is also filtered so songs won’t have explicit content.

The launch is a first in the online music streaming space, where kids on parents’ music plans typically sign in through the same app — just with a different login. But Spotify believes children deserve their own space, where the music they listen to is available in an ad-free environment, where they won’t accidentally encounter lyrics that parents disapprove of, and where content is hand-curated by editors.

Spotify Kids, essentially, is a set of hand-picked playlists across categories.

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The app includes categories like Movies & TV, top hits, Activities (bedtime, homework, playtime, etc.), genres, seasonal, Spotify Originals, artist/groups, and Stories.

The playlists are all programmed by human editors, not algorithms, and are chosen by way of a set of guidelines about what’s appropriate for children.

The editors, Spotify says, have backgrounds from some of the most well-known brands in the children’s entertainment business, including Nickelodeon, Disney, Discovery Kids, Universal Pictures, Public Service (Sweden), and BookBeat (a family and kids-oriented audio streaming service).

The new app isn’t just for the preschool set. Instead, it can grow with the kids as they get older — but still aren’t ready for the parents’ application yet.

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In the younger kids’ version, children can listen to things like singalongs, lullabies, and soundtracks aimed at little kids. Older users have access to tracks and playlists of their own, including some popular tracks, that are appropriate and relevant for their age group. Parents will select their child’s age group upon launch.

In time, Spotify will expand the app with more content — including stories, audiobooks, and podcasts — and build enhanced parental settings and controls that allow parents to customize the Kids app further.

The new app also looks nothing like the main app — it’s colorful and bright, and has a look and feel that varies by the kids’ age group. For example, the younger kids see artwork that’s softer and character-based, while older kids have a more detailed experience.

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“Spotify is committed to giving billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by music and stories and we’re proud that this commitment now includes the next generation of audio listeners,” said Spotify’s Chief Premium Business Officer Alex Norström. “We are excited to be expanding the Spotify Premium Family experience with a dedicated app just for our youngest fans. Spotify Kids is a personalized world bursting with sound, shape and color, where our young listeners can begin a lifelong love of music and stories.”

The launch of the Kids app follows Spotify’s surprise earnings success this week, where it beat Wall St. estimates with net income of 241 million euros ($267.34 million), or 36 cents per share. Analysts had expected a loss of 29 cents per share.

The company also added 5 million new subscribers in the quarter to reach 113 million paying premium subscribers — up 26 million from the year-ago quarter.

Today, a Spotify Premium plan costs slightly more than a regular Premium account ($14.99 vs. $9.99 in the U.S., respectively). But many parents often just share their account with the whole family — often ruining their recommendations and special features, like Spotify Wrapped, along the way. A Kids app is a good incentive to convince customers to upgrade, as it’s not only solving those problems but also giving kids a safer, more curated experience within the larger music ecosystem.

There’s another incentive for Spotify to separate out Kids’ listening into its own space: targeted advertising. While the Premium experience has typically been ad-free, a new product lets artists buy a full-screen ad about their new music release and show it to interested users, based on listening history — even if they’re Premium subscribers.

This isn’t the first move Spotify has made in recent months to better cater to families. The company this summer launched a dedicated streaming hub in partnership with Disney, where families could find favorite songs, playlists and soundtracks. It also added parental controls to Premium Family accounts soon after, and launched a special “family mix” with songs everyone can agree on.

Spotify Kids is initially available in beta, while Spotify works to refine the experience based on additional insights gained from use as well as parentsfeedback. It requires a Premium Family plan to use.

The app is immediately available today in Ireland on iOS and Android, but is rolling out to all markets, the company says.

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Streaming service Quibi sells out of its $150M in first-year ad inventory

Posted by | Apps, Media, Mobile, mobile advertising, Quibi, streaming service, TC | No Comments

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile-only streaming service Quibi hasn’t even launched, but it’s already sold out of its $150 million first-year advertising inventory, the company announced this morning. The service, which officially debuts in April 2020, added new advertisers Discover, General Mills, T-Mobile and Taco Bell, which join Quibi’s existing lineup of ad partners Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, ABInBev, Walmart, Progressive and Google.

In addition to being an advertiser, T-Mobile only days ago announced a partnership with Quibi, as well.

The streaming service had cited T-Mobile’s “impressive 5G roadmap” as one of the reasons it went for the deal, but T-Mobile’s advertising contribution probably didn’t hurt either.

For an entirely unseen product, it’s notable that Quibi is already sold out for year one. That speaks to its ability to sell brands on its core concept — a sort of Netflix for the mobile era, where higher-quality content is chopped up into smaller bites (or “quick bites”), and viewable no matter how you hold your phone.

Advertisers are offered either a six, 10 or 15-second pre-roll spot before the Quibi content streams. And unlike on YouTube, where some of the ads can be skipped after a few seconds — or removed entirely by way of subscription — Quibi’s ads won’t have a “skip” button. Quibi also hints at a unique offering for advertisers, saying that it will be “experimenting with a number of other innovative ad formats.”

In addition, Quibi is tackling one of the issues advertisers have with YouTube, where a brand’s message is often run against extremist content. YouTube has tried to fix the problem with better controls, and brands have at times left YouTube. Some brands even got together to form a global alliance for “responsible media,” which basically means they’re ready to more formally fight this problem.

It’s no surprise, then, that these companies are willing to help boost a potential YouTube competitor — one which promises they won’t find their ad played ahead of child exploitation or white supremacist content, among other things — as has been the case on YouTube, at various points.

However, what may be most responsible for the early ad sales is Quibi’s founder, Jeffrey Katzenberg. He’s not someone the industry is willing to bet against at this point.

“We are seeing a tremendous response from advertising partners who recognize the value of Quibi’s premium, brand-safe, mobile platform that is focused on the highly coveted millennial audience,” said Meg Whitman, CEO, Quibi. “The world-class brands that are partnering with us in advance of our launch is remarkable, and it speaks to the opportunity in front of us,” she said.

Quibi announced in June it had already booked $100 million in ad sales, with $50 million to go. But even if it hadn’t sold out, Quibi still would have been a go for launch — Quibi is backed by $1 billion in funding, and was reportedly going to double that.

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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.

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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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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.

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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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Spotify expands its new Premium Duo plan to Latin America

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

Spotify’s newest paid subscription, the Premium Duo plan designed for two people, first launched this spring as a pilot test in Ireland, Colombia, Chile, Denmark and Poland. Today, Spotify says the plan is being more broadly rolled out to 14 more Latin American markets.

The new markets include: Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

The Duo plan is meant mainly for couples, though it could apply to roommates or any other two people who share the same home address.

In terms of pricing, it’s a step up from a single Premium subscription but more affordable than a Family Plan, as it’s limited to just two accounts. However, the Duo plan is discounted so it’s a better deal than buying two separate Premium accounts.

The benefits are similar to those on the Family Plan. Like the larger group plan, Duo keeps each user’s music preferences and recommendations separate from one another. And like the Family Plan, which recently added a custom mix composed of tracks everyone in the family enjoys, the Duo subscription also includes its own shared playlist, the Duo Mix. Members can easily share their playlist libraries with one another, too.

Despite now reaching 19 total markets, Spotify still refers to the Premium Duo plan as a “pilot,” which typically means the company hasn’t fully committed to bringing the service to all its users at some point. Instead, that terminology typically implies the company is continuing to evaluate the new service’s impact.

In Spotify’s case, Premium Duo’s launch in March hasn’t yet led to a massive subscription bump. When reporting its Q2 2019 earnings, the company said it added 8 million new subscribers in the quarter, which was below the estimated 8.5 million figure. It now has 232 million monthly users and 108 million paying subscribers.

That said, Duo hasn’t reached many of Spotify’s key markets where such a plan could have more of an impact to subscriber counts, including the U.S.

If you live in a supported market and already have a Premium plan you can visit your Account page on Spotify’s website to add a partner and upgrade. Both plan members will need to share the same home address.

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Amazon’s free streaming service IMDb TV comes to mobile devices

Posted by | Amazon, imdb, imdb freedive, Media, Mobile, streaming service | No Comments

IMDb TV, the free ad-supported streaming service launched by Amazon-owned IMDb at the beginning of the year (originally called Freedive), is today arriving on mobile devices. With the updated version of iOS and Android IMDb app rolling out now, users can stream from the app’s growing library of free movies and TV series.

Prior to IMDb TV’s launch, the movie website had experimented with video content in the form of trailers, celebrity interviews and other short-form series. But consumers today are more interested in services where they can stream premium content for free, without a subscription — as they can on IMDb TV competitors like Walmart-owned Vudu’s “Movies on Us,” Tubi or The Roku Channel, for example.

At launch, IMDb TV offered a collection of TV shows like Fringe, Heroes, The Bachelor and Without a Trace, as well as Hollywood movies like Awakenings, Foxcatcher, Memento, Monster, Run Lola Run, The Illusionist, The Last Samurai, True Romance and others.

This summer, it expanded its lineup through new deals with Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Entertainment and MGM Studios.

This brought movies like Captain Fantastic and La La Land to the service, the latter which has since become one of the service’s most-streamed movies this summer. Other popular titles included Jerry Maguire, Practical Magic, A Knight’s Tale, Drive, Max, Step Dogs, Zookeeper, Paddington and The Neverending Story.

More recent deals with Paramount and Lionsgate have also brought new content to IMDb TV, like Silver Linings Playbook, Age of Adaline, In the Heart of the Sea and the TV show, The Middle.

The company hasn’t said how many customers IMDb TV has, but the service has benefited from integrations with Amazon’s Fire TV.

Earlier this year, Marc Whitten, vice president of Fire TV, noted that Fire TV customers’ use of free, ad-supported apps had increased by more than 300% during the last year. IMDb TV is expected to contribute to that, with its placement on the “Your Apps & Channels” row on Fire TV and its availability as a free channel within the Prime Video app.

The updated iOS and Android IMDb app is rolling out starting today, the company says.

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Hotstar, Disney’s Indian streaming service, sets new global record for live viewership

Posted by | 21st century fox, Amazon, Asia, cricket, Disney, Entertainment, Facebook, india, Media, Mobile, Netflix, Sports, streaming service | No Comments

Indian video streaming giant Hotstar, owned by Disney, today set a new global benchmark for the number of people an OTT service can draw to a live event.

Some 18.6 million users simultaneously tuned into Hotstar’s website and app to watch the deciding game of the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament. The streaming giant, which competes with Netflix and Amazon in India, broke its own “global best” 10.3 million concurrent views milestone that it set last year.

Update at 11:30 p.m. Pacific on May 13: In a statement, Hotstar confirmed that 18.6 million users simultaneously watched the game on its platform over the weekend. “The achievements of this season once again bear witness to Hotstar being the most preferred sports destination for the country. With technology as our backbone and our all-round expertise in driving scale, we are confident we will continue to break global records and set new benchmarks with each passing year,” said Varun Narang, chief product officer of Hotstar.

Hotstar topped the 10 million concurrent viewership mark a number of times during this year’s 51-day IPL season. More than 12.7 million viewers huddled to watch an earlier game in the tournament (between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians), a spokesperson for the four-year-old service said. Hotstar said the cricket series had over 300 million overall viewership, creating a new record for the streamer. (Last year’s IPL clocked a 202 million overall viewership.)

Fans of Mumbai Indians celebrate their team’s victory against Chennai Super Kings in IPL cricket tournament in India

These figures coming out of India, the fastest-growing internet market, are astounding, to say the least. In comparison, a 2012 live stream of skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumping from near-space to the Earth’s surface remains the most concurrently viewed video on YouTube. It amassed about 8 million concurrent viewers. The live viewership of the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was also a blip in comparison.

As Netflix and Amazon scramble to find the right content strategy to lure Indians, Hotstar and its local parent firm Star India have aggressively focused on securing broadcast and streaming rights to various cricket series. Cricket is almost followed like a religion in India.

In 2017, Star India, then owned by 21st Century Fox, secured the rights to broadcast and stream the IPL cricket tournament for five years for a sum of roughly $2.5 billion. Facebook also participated in the bidding, offering north of $600 million for streaming. (Star India was part of 21st Century Fox’s business that Disney acquired for $71.3 billion earlier this year.)

That bet has largely paid off. Hotstar said last month that its service has amassed 300 million monthly active users, up from 150 million it reported last year. In comparison, both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have less than 30 million subscribers in India, according to industry estimates.

In the last two years, Hotstar has expanded to three international markets — the U.S., Canada and, most recently, the U.K. — to chase new audiences. The streaming service is hoping to attract Indians living overseas and anyone else who is interested in Bollywood movies and cricket, Ipsita Dasgupta, president of Hotstar’s international operations, told TechCrunch in an interview. The streaming service plans to enter more nations with high density of Indians in the next few quarters, Dasgupta said.

That’s not to say that Hotstar has a clear path ahead. According to several estimates, the streaming service typically sees a sharp decline in its user base after the conclusion of an IPL season. Despite the massive engagement it generates, it remains operationally unprofitable, people familiar with Hotstar’s finances said.

The ad-supported streaming service offers about 80 percent of its content catalog — which includes titles produced by Star India — for no cost to users. It also syndicates shows and movies from international partners such as HBO, ABC and Showtime — though these titles are available only to paying subscribers. One of the most watched international shows on the platform, “Game of Thrones,” will be ending soon, too.

The upcoming World Cup cricket tournament, which Hotstar will stream in India, should help it avoid the major headache for some time. In the meantime, the service is aggressively expanding its slate of original shows in the nation. One of the shows is a remake of BBC/NBC’s popular “The Office.”

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T-Mobile’s mobile TV service to include Viacom channels like MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central & more

Posted by | cord cutting, Media, Mobile, mobile tv, streaming service, T-Mobile, television, tv, Viacom, Video | No Comments

T-Mobile and Viacom this morning announced a deal that will bring Viacom’s TV channels — like MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount and others — to T-Mobile’s new mobile video service planned for later this year. The agreement will allow T-Mobile to offer live, linear feeds of the Viacom channels as well as on-demand viewing.

To date, the carrier’s mobile video plans have been murky. Last year, T-Mobile acquired the Denver-based startup Layer3 TV in order to launch a new over-the-top video service in 2018. It missed that window, saying that it needed more time to work on features and make “quality improvements.”

The company later said that it didn’t want to offer another Amazon Channels-like “skinny bundle” consisting of individual subscriptions to various channels, but wanted to offer something more differentiated where customers could create their own media subscriptions in “smaller pieces,” like “five, six, seven or eight dollars at a time.”

Today, T-Mobile says it still plans to move forward with both its home and mobile TV offerings, made possible by the acquisition of Layer3 TV. The in-home TV service is designed to leverage 5G technology to replace cable. Meanwhile, Viacom will be a “cornerstone launch partner” for T-Mobile’s mobile TV efforts, on track for a launch this year.

“Viacom represents the best of the best, most-popular brands on cable, so they are an amazing partner for us,” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, in a statement. “TV programming has never been better, but consumers are fed up with rising costs, hidden fees, lousy customer service, non-stop BS. And MacGyvering together a bunch of subscriptions, apps and dongles isn’t much better. That’s why T-Mobile is on a mission to give consumers a better way to watch what they want, when they want,” he said.

Not much is known about T-Mobile’s mobile TV plans at this point, like a more specific launch time frame or price points. It’s also unclear if T-Mobile will go the route of bundling in its TV service with its mobile plans. That’s been a popular strategy for AT&T, which today operates two over-the-top services — a low-end service called WatchTV designed for bundling and its more premium service DirecTV Now. (It also plans to launch another featuring Warner Bros. content.)

Viacom has deals with other carriers besides T-Mobile, having recently renewed its contract with AT&T for DirecTV Now carriage. It also participates in various other streaming services, including its own service (by way of acquisition) Pluto TV, and has invested in Philo.

“Today’s landmark announcement marks a major step forward in our strategy to accelerate the presence of our brands on mobile and other next-generation platforms,” said Bob Bakish, Viacom president and CEO, in a release. “We’re so excited to partner with T-Mobile to provide millions of subscribers with access to our networks and more choice in a new service that will be unlike any other in the market.”

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Here’s how you’ll access Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service

Posted by | Gadgets, Gaming, GDC, GDC 2019, Google, google stadia, stadia, streaming service | No Comments

Google isn’t launching a gaming console. The company is launching a service instead: Stadia. You’ll be able to run a game on a server and stream the video feed to your device. You won’t need to buy new hardware to access Stadia, but Stadia won’t be available on all devices from day one.

“With Google, your games will be immediately discoverable by 2 billion people on a Chrome browser, Chromebook, Chromecast, Pixel device. And we have plans to support more browsers and platforms over time,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said shortly after opening GDC 2019.

As you can see, the Chrome browser will be the main interface to access the service on a laptop or desktop computer. The company says that you’ll be able to play with your existing controller. So if you have a PlayStation 4, Xbox One or Nintendo Switch controller, that should work just fine. Google is also launching its own controller.

As expected, if you’re using a Chromecast with your TV, you’ll be able to turn it into a Stadia machine. Only the latest Chromecast supports Bluetooth, so let’s see if you’ll need a recent model to play with your existing controller. Google’s controller uses Wi-Fi, so that should theoretically work with older Chromecast models.

On mobile, it sounds like Google isn’t going to roll out its service to all Android devices from day one. Stadia could be limited to Pixel phones and tablets at first. But there’s no reason Google would not ship Stadia to all Android devices later.

Interestingly, Google didn’t mention Apple devices at all. So if you have an iPhone or an iPad, don’t hold your breath. Apple doesn’t let third-party developers sell digital content in their apps without going through the App Store. This will create a challenge for Google.

Stadia isn’t available just yet. It’ll launch later this year. As you can see, there are many outstanding questions after the conference. Google is entering a new industry and it’s going to take some time to figure out the business model and the distribution model.

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YouTube Music and YouTube Premium come to India

Posted by | Apps, india, Media, Mobile, Music, streaming music, streaming service, YouTube, YouTube Music, YouTube Premium | No Comments

YouTube Music is coming to the next critical battlefield for streaming music services: India. The company announced this week it’s launching its ad-supported version of YouTube Music for free in the country, as well as YouTube Music Premium, its subscription that offers background listening, offline downloads and an ad-free experience for ₹99 a month.

In addition, YouTube Premium, which extends offline play, background listening and the removal of ads across YouTube, is also launching in India. This will include access to YouTube Original programming like Cobra Kai, BTS: Burn The Stage and others, and ships with the Music Premium subscription for ₹129 (rupees) per month.

This is not Google’s first entry into the streaming music market in India. The company already operates Google Play Music — and now, those subscribers will gain access to YouTube Music as part of their subscription, the company says.

India is a key market for streaming services because of its sizable population of 1.3 billion people, many of whom are still coming online for the first time. (Only some 483 million are active internet users today).

Already, Apple and Amazon operate their music services in the region in addition to local players like Gaana, Saavn and others. Spotify also made an India launch a strategic focus this year.

However, Spotify’s entry into India has been complicated by a licensing dispute with Warner Music (WMG’s Warner/Chappell publishing arm, specifically). That conflict led to Spotify arriving in the market without some of today’s biggest artists, like Cardi B. and Ed Sheeran. The case has been ugly: Warner sued Spotify asking for an emergency injunction; Spotify then accused Warner of “abusive behavior;” and Warner called Spotify a “liar.”

Despite its legal troubles, Spotify hit 1 million users in India within a week of launching. That bodes well for its potential when it gets through the legal battles.

Unlike Spotify, YouTube Music is fully licensed as it enters the region — a potential competitive advantage for the time being. It also has a deal with Samsung where Galaxy S10 owners can gain four months of YouTube Premium/YouTube Music Premium for free. (But Spotify has a deeper Samsung partnership, involving preinstalls and Bixby integrations.)

For YouTube, a win in India is needed, as its streaming music service hasn’t picked up traction to date.

To some extent, that’s because YouTube users know they can get to music videos for free, but it also has to do with Google’s baffling strategy in operating two separate brands around music. Apple doesn’t make this mistake. It leverages the power of its platform to promote its only music service, Apple Music.

That may have gotten it into trouble, though — today, Spotify filed a complaint with the European Commission over the “Apple tax” levied on its rivals and its restrictive rules.

Google has said it plans to merge its two music services at some point, but for now the split likely leads to confusion.

“India is where the multi-lingual music scene thrives,” said Lyor Cohen, global head of Music, YouTube, in a statement. “It’s interesting to note how Indian artists have consistently claimed top spots over the last few months in the Global YouTube Top Artists chart. With YouTube Music, we are hoping to bring the best in global and Indian music to millions of fans across India, and give them an immersive music experience, with the magic of music on YouTube,” he added.

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