Technology

Technology

Streaming Accounts for 75% of Music Industry Revenue

The RIAA have released their mid-year revenue report for the music industry. Patricia Hernandez, writing at The Verge, has a good rundown:

Turns out, streaming makes more money than physical CDs, digital downloads, and licensing deals combined.

Streaming in this context includes paid subscriptions to services such as Spotify and Tidal, but also digital radio broadcasts and video streaming services such as VEVO. It’s a broad category that nonetheless has made $3.4 billion dollars in 2018 so far, a total that amounts to 75 percent of overall revenue for the record industry.

Overcast 5 Is Here

Overcast, my favorite podcast player, has a great new 5.0 update. Federico Viticci reviewed it for MacStories:

The most notable difference between the old Overcast and the updated version is the redesigned Now Playing screen. Page indicators and hidden gestures to navigate show notes and chapters are gone, replaced by a carousel of swipable cards containing effects, podcast artwork, show notes, and chapters (if available).

It’s a nice update and I’m excited to try out the stand alone Watch playback.

Spotify Lifts Song Download Cap

Amy X. Wang, writing at Rolling Stone:

A common gripe among Spotify users is that the app limits the number of songs that can be downloaded to phones and computers for offline listening (3,333 tracks per device, with a three-device limit, to be exact). In its latest software update, the streaming service has quietly increased the limit threefold.

A number of power-users first noticed that they were able to save more than 3,333 songs this week, and the Swedish streaming giant confirmed the change on Wednesday to Rolling Stone.

A well deserved finally.

Tumblr Is Explicitly Banning Hate Speech

Shannon Liao, writing for The Verge:

Tumblr is changing its community guidelines to more explicitly ban hate speech, glorifying violence, and revenge porn. The new rules go into effect on September 10th.

“It’s on all of us to create a safe, constructive, and empowering environment,” Tumblr writes in its blog post. “Our community guidelines need to reflect the reality of the internet and social media today.”

Twitter Breaks Twitter for Third-Party Clients

John Gruber, writing at Daring Fireball:

My strong preference for Tweetbot, on both iOS and Mac, is simple: I prefer its user interface.

Tweetbot presents tweets and replies/mentions in a way that fits my mental model of what Twitter is. Tweetbot makes sense to me — in large part simply because it presents tweets in chronological order. Twitter’s iOS app does none of these things for me. I truly find it confusing. And Twitter no longer even fucking has a first-party native app for the Mac. I don’t want to use a website for Twitter. I want an app.

I think Twitter should reverse course on this whole thing.

I agree with Gruber on this entire thing. Now that Tweetbot can no longer stream tweets, but instead will show them after a one or two minute delay, the app is almost worthless while watching sports. Beside just getting pissed off at the news each day, that’s one of the main reasons I loved Twitter. I’ve never seen a service constantly shoot itself in the foot and alienate its most loyal users as much as Twitter has in the past year.

Rules Won’t Save Twitter. Values Will.

Kara Swisher, writing for The New York Times:

But by that measure, the rest of us plebes, including Mr. Jones, should probably get no protection if we err, no matter how much we rant that tweeting is a right under the First Amendment. It’s not, because Twitter is not the government and it can decide what and what not to host on its service. In any case, if you get kicked off Twitter, you can always unload your twisted mind on your very own website. And it cannot be said too many times that freedom of speech does not guarantee freedom from consequence.

All this is not to say that fixing Twitter will be easy; in fact, I think at this point it is nearly impossible. Add to that the fact that this is a global issue, making it hard to have any consistent rules that address the complexity of the world and, really, its deep and abiding ugliness.

It’s time for Jack to leave as CEO. He failed at the most important tests for his company, time, and time again.

When a Stranger Decides to Destroy Your Life

Kashmir Hill, writing at Gizmodo:

But in September 2015, she was suddenly plunged into an American nightmare. She got a call at 6 a.m. one morning from a colleague at Re/Max telling her something terrible had been posted about her on the Re/Max Facebook page. [Monika Glennon] thought at first she meant that a client had left her a bad review, but it turned out to be much worse than that.

It was a link to a story about Glennon on She’s A Homewrecker, a site that exists for the sole purpose of shaming the alleged “other woman.” The author of the Homewrecker post claimed that she and her husband had used Glennon as their realtor and that everything was going great until one evening when she walked in on Glennon having sex with her husband on the floor of a home the couple had been scheduled to see. The unnamed woman went into graphic detail about the sex act and claimed she’d taken photos that she used to get everything from her husband in a divorce. The only photo she posted though was Glennon’s professional headshot, taken from her bio page on Re/Max’s site.

Glennon was horrified. The story was completely fabricated and she had no idea why someone would have written it. Someone on Facebook named Ryan Baxter had posted it to the Re/Max page; Baxter also went through Glennon’s Facebook friend list and sent it to her husband, family members, and many of her professional contacts.

Facebook Loses Over $110 Billion in Market Value

Todd Spangler, writing for Variety:

Shares of Facebook plunged more than 19% in early trading Thursday, as investors reacted to signs that the social-media giant’s user and revenue growth are significantly slowing down.

The stock drop, to its lowest levels in nearly three months, wiped out more than $110 billion in market capitalization for Facebook and dragged down other internet and tech stocks including Twitter and Snap. Facebook’s market cap was $629.6 billion at the close of market Wednesday, and stood at around $503 billion as of Thursday at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Ouch.

iOS 11.4.1 and Blocks Passcode Cracking Tools Used by Police

Chris Welch, writing for The Verge:

Apple today released iOS 11.4.1, and while most of us are already looking ahead to all the new stuff coming in iOS 12, this small update contains an important new security feature: USB Restricted Mode. Apple has added protections against the USB devices being used by law enforcement and private companies that connect over Lightning to crack an iPhone’s passcode and evade Apple’s usual encryption safeguards.

If you have an iPhone, you should install this when you get the chance.

Sponsor

How Smart TVs in Millions of U.S. Homes Track Us

The New York Times:

Samba TV is one of the bigger companies that track viewer information to make personalized show recommendations. The company said it collected viewing data from 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States, and it has raised $40 million in venture funding from investors including Time Warner , the cable operator Liberty Global and the billionaire Mark Cuban.

Samba TV has struck deals with roughly a dozen TV brands — including Sony, Sharp, TCL and Philips — to place its software on certain sets. When people set up their TVs, a screen urges them to enable a service called Samba Interactive TV, saying it recommends shows and provides special offers “by cleverly recognizing onscreen content.” But the screen, which contains the enable button, does not detail how much information Samba TV collects to make those recommendations.

Instagram Adds Ability to Add Background Music

Josh Constine, writing at TechCrunch:

The right music can make a boring photo or video epic, so Instagram is equipping users with a way to add popular songs to their Stories. […] Thanks to Facebook’s recent deals with record labels, users will be able to choose from thousands of songs from artists including Bruno Mars, Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris and Guns N’ Roses.

And:

When friends watch a music-equipped Story, the song will post automatically. They’ll also be able to tap on the sticker to see artist and song title info, but for now these stickers won’t link out to a musician’s Instagram page or their presence on streaming services — though that would certainly be helpful. I also suggest that Instagram should create deeplinks that artists can share with their fans that automatically opens the Stories camera with that song’s sticker added.

Good idea.

Instagram Announces IGTV

Josh Constine, writing for TechCrunch:

Today at a flashy event in San Francisco, the company announced it will begin allowing users to upload videos up to one hour in length, up from the previous one-minute limit. And to house the new longer-form videos from content creators and the general public, Instagram is launching IGTV. Accessible from a button inside the Instagram homescreen, as well as a standalone app, IGTV will spotlight popular videos from Instagram celebrities.

Ticketfly Hacker Stole More Than 26 Million Email and Home Addresses

Kris Holt, writing at Engadget:

A hacker has leaked personal information for more than 26 million Ticketfly users after last week’s data breach. That’s according to Troy Hunt, the founder of Have I Been Pwned, which lets you check whether your email address has been included in various data breaches.

The hacker posted several Ticketfly database files to a public server, and Hunt found that they contained 26,151,608 email addresses. Many users’ names, phone numbers and home and billing addresses were also compromised.

Vevo to Shut Down Site

Amy X Wang, writing at Rolling Stone:

The company announced in a blog post Thursday that it is shuttering its mobile apps and website, and that “going forward, Vevo will remain focused on engaging the biggest audiences and pursuing growth opportunities.” It will continue investing in original content and sponsorships, but phase out its own independently-operated platforms, it said. Read: Vevo is almost entirely succumbing to YouTube, the juggernaut that has long supplied most of its audience.

How the Music Industry Messed Up Legal Streaming the First Time Around

Ernie Smith, writing for Motherboard:

In the roughly 24 months between the time Napster shut down its popular free service and Steve Jobs announced the iTunes Music Store to the public, the music industry tried to create legal replacements, but the lack of precedent was a problem. Nobody could figure out exactly what a legal digital music industry was supposed to look like, or how it was supposed to work.

Ticketmaster Invests in Facial-Recognition Technology

Jacob Kastrenakes, writing at The Verge:

Someday in the not-so-distant future, you might be able to walk into a concert venue without waiting in line for your ticket to be scanned — because instead, the venue will automatically scan and identify your face.

That’s the experience that Live Nation and Ticketmaster suggested they’ll try to develop last week, when announcing an investment in Blink Identity.

All the technology we grew up watching and reading in dystopian movies and novels is basically coming to pass. Should I be worried?

Aventus Applies the Blockchain to Ticketing

The Aventus Protocol Foundation is trying to solve issues with tickets, scalpers, and fakes by bringing them to the blockchain. Aventus describes itself as:

An open-source protocol that delivers a global standard for ticket exchange, allowing rights holders to define rules around their ticketing lifecycle to which everyone in the supply chain must adhere — from promoters, to venues, and primary / secondary agents.

You can watch a video describing the basics on YouTube.