All posts in “apple music”

Stem raises $8M to get music artists paid more seamlessly


While music streaming has become more and more commoditized, artists still have a wide array of places to distribute their songs like Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music — but getting paid properly can start to complicate things.

That problem gets even more difficult when there are multiple people collaborating on the same song and it’s not clear who is getting how much of a cut from the revenue share from those services. That, on top of that the general unpredictability of an artist’s revenue, has left a hole that Stem co-founder Milana Rabkin thinks her and her co-founders startup Stem can fill. To do that, the company has raised $8 million in financing led by Evolution Media and Aspect Ventures, along with several other strategic investors and continuing participation from Upfront Ventures.

Stem works to collect the revenue from those tracks in disparate platforms and sources it into a sort of escrow. It then pays out the artists based on a previously-agreed level of involvement and revenue share. Rabkin said that each artist and collaborator has to sign off on the share. When a track is uploaded, the artist defines those share percentages, and then the revenue is distributed out more quickly than traditionally if it went through the typical channels. Rabkin said users should start getting data within the first 30 to 60 days of publishing.

“A lot of the new tools that have been created in the fintech space have really been focused on the services that have enabled independent small businesses to grow on their own,” Rabkin said. “Artists and creators are no different, the problem is no one’s created tools that cater to them. If you look at Intuit you have Mint, but for an artist with unpredictable income and difficult to track revenue streams [it’s different]. You can plug in your bank account, but Intuit and mint doesn’t plug into iTunes or YouTube or Spotify.”

Another problem Stem is trying to tackle is ensuring that collaborators that may not be able to monetize their content. Some artists — like first-timers — may be releasing content but have to treat it purely as promotional or marketing. Instead of just focusing on making money of touring, Rabkin said Stem will hopefully offer those artists some way of driving revenue right from the get-go.

The data that Stem brings in from all these disparate platforms may also, itself, be valuable. Artists can get information on their listeners and start to zero in on some of their preferences. That might help them tailor their tours or other parts of their marketing. But adding information around revenue streams on top of that adds another layer of data that can signal a much stronger level of engagement than some of the other signals they might have.

“The problem that exists is in the supply chain in the music business, that hasn’t been [solved],” Rabkin said. “There’s new exciting frameworks that have been developed, really great tools to normalize data in relational databases. Those types of tools, they make it really easy to start tackling these problems in a way that wasn’t possible years ago.”

Rabkin said she doesn’t view Stem as competitive with distribution services, as the company is trying to get everything funneled into one place just to sort out who gets paid what. Right now the company has to take over the process, but part of the reason Stem is raising money is to build the tools it has in a way that other distributors can use.

There will likely be plenty of competition in the space. Kobalt, for example, raised $75 million at a $775 million valuation last month. And each of these services — like iTunes or Spotify — may end up simplifying their artist tools down enough that it may not require such complicated background gymnastics to figure out how to get the right people paid. But Rabkin hopes that by building a seamless enough experience Stem will be able to attract a wide artist base that includes Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Anna Wise, Chromatics, and Poolside.

Apple Music just announced a new feature to share your music preferences with friends

Apple debuted a brand new feature for its music service Apple Music at WWDC on Monday, even as rumors swirled that Apple Music’s high profile marketing chief, Bozoma Saint John, may be leaving soon.

The new feature is called Friends Are Listening To, which, as the name suggests, allows you to discover what music your friends on Apple Music are listening to. The feature can be adjusted to be public or private, so no worries if your music tastes lean toward the corny or embarrassing — you can control how you share your tunes.

In addition to the new feature, Apple also announced a big milestone for the music service: Apple Music now has 27 million subscribers.

And finally, Apple announced MusicKit, which will give Apple Music access to third party developers who want to integrate apps into Apple Music. One of the examples Apple listed was the ability to automatically add songs from your Shazam app to your Apple Music list. 

The absence of Saint John, who presented Apple Music at last year’s WWDC, is prominent considering the fact that Apple not only gave her the stage, but Saint John was also featured in a major Apple Music commercial. But despite the unexpected change in leadership, it appears that Apple Music is pushing forward in terms of competing in the new landscape of streaming music services. 

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A top Apple exec just royally pissed off Rihanna fans (a.k.a. the Rihanna Navy) who now want to destroy him

Rihanna just chilling.
Rihanna just chilling.

Image: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

No one messes with Rihanna. Specifically, the Rihanna Navy, the pop star’s ride-or-die fanbase.

The Navy are raging online today, threatening to cancel their Apple Music subscriptions in droves, after Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue appeared to yell at Rihanna during Game 1 of the Warriors vs Cavaliers series. 

Video of the incident went viral.

And the reactions were swift. 

We reached out to Apple for comment, but have yet to receive a response as of press time. Cue, meanwhile, was quick to chalk the entire thing up to a misunderstanding. 

Whether that denial is enough the assuage the growing anger of the Rihanna fanbase? Probably not. 

Freia Lobo contributed reporting. LeBron James contributed to the beef.

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Everyone’s just waiting to see what Apple does with its money

Not everything’s perfect with Wall Street and Apple. The iPhone maker (which also makes a lot of other things) sold fewer iPhones over the last three months than analysts and investors would have hoped, the company revealed in an earnings call Tuesday. 

They also pretty much met analysts’ expectations for revenue: $52.9 billion. 

So there’s little reason to jump up and down with enthusiasm about Apple on the NASDAQ trading floor. And yet, Apple remains the kingpin when it comes to money and value in the tech industry, and if you listen to Apple CEO Tim Cook, you may have faith that Apple’s status as one of the world’s richest companies isn’t changing anytime soon. 

“We are proud to report a strong March quarter, with revenue growth accelerating from the December quarter and continued robust demand for iPhone 7 Plus,” Cook said in a statement. 

He highlighted new products that have excited Apple’s fanbase, at least, and he pointed to a growing area of their revenue services, which includes revenue from iTunes, iCloud, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple Care and other sales from the App Store. 

“We’ve seen great customer response to both models of the new iPhone 7 (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition and we’re thrilled with the strong momentum of our Services business, with our highest revenue ever for a 13-week quarter,” Cook’s statement continued. 

And lastly, Cook teased Apple’s “exciting” event in the near future. 

“Looking ahead, we are excited to welcome attendees from around the world to our annual Worldwide Developers Conference next month in San Jose,” he said. 

Facebook, a competitor in the tech industry but with a very different business model, held its developer conference last month and pushed a future of augmented reality and virtual reality. Apple may paint a similar picture. 

Apple has a lot of money. This quarter, the company reported $52.9 billion in revenue. Here’s a good tweet showing the growth: 

This chest of money is from a wealth of products, but most significantly, iPhones, which it sold 50.8 million of over the last three months. It also sold 8.92 million iPads and 4.2 million Macs. Other than devices, Apple also pulls in money from the services, referenced above. That segment totaled $7.04 billion. As Cook likes to boast, Apple’s services business is reaching the status of a Fortune 100 company. 

So the question is how will Apple continue to make so much money and what will it do with its current wealth? 

The Wall Street Journal made a fun interactive about what Apple could buy this week, with companies like Twitter and Snap considered:

To address the fact that it has so much money, Apple increased its capital-return program for shareholders by $50 billion. (Their cash on hand is more than $250 billion). President Donald Trump’s tax plan could affect what decisions Apple makes in the future. 

“It’s difficult for us to speculate what might or might not happen,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s chief financial officer.

For now, our only hints from the call with investors with what Apple will be investing in is new, lucrative markets. Apple has prioritized India, one of the world’s largest smartphone markets. 

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Report: Apple Music revamp planned for iOS 11, service to include up to 10 original series


A new version of Apple Music will ship later this year that puts an increased emphasis on video content, and particularly its own original video programming, according to a new report from Bloomberg out today. The piece delves into Apple’s larger video plans, and suggests that the platform may host up to 10 original shows by year’s end.

We already know about some of Apple efforts on video, including its documentaries on Drake’s music label, Cash Money Records and Clive Davis; its celeb-filled pitch-off series “Planet of the Apps;” and the recently delayed “Carpool Karaoke.” Another show called “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” from Live Nation and Sean “Diddy” Combs was also announced today as an Apple Music exclusive, and Bloomberg sources said that a documentary about Bad Boy Records was also on the way.

In a brief mention, the report also lends credence to the ongoing rumors of a series based on Beats Music co-founder Dr. Dre, saying that the show is in development.

Additionally, Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine has talked with Warner Bros. Television, Bloomberg said, but he’s currently focused more on music-related video, including a possible sequel to R. Kelly’s rap opera “Trapped in the Closet.” Longer-term, Iovine has ambitions to take Apple Music video outside of the music genre, and has discussed ideas with Brian Grazer, producer of “Empire” and “Genius” and director J.J. Abrams.

Given Apple’s plans to expand its music service to include original video, it’s not surprising to hear that the app will get a makeover to better highlight this new content. Today, there is already video available in Apple Music, but it’s a bit tucked away. You first have to tap into the Browse section in the app, then scroll down to “Music Videos.”

This section itself isn’t that well-built, to be frank, as it largely focuses on featured content, top videos and new releases. There isn’t currently an easy way to surface videos from genres you’re interested in, nor is the section personalized to you.

Apple is expected to announce a new version of its iOS operating system, iOS 11, at its WWDC event this June, with a release date of later in the fall. We don’t know much about its plans for the software update at this point, but it’s common for iOS updates to add improvements to its built-in suite of apps, which would include Apple Music.