Apple announces the third annual “Apple Music Award” winners
On November 30th, Apple announced the winners of the third annual Apple Music Awards, recognizing the best artists of 2021 and their influence on global culture. For those who aren’t familiar with the Apple Music Awards, they’re a series of physical awards that “represent the extraordinary craftsmanship integral to creating music”. Each award features Apple’s custom silicon wafer suspended between a polished sheet of glass and a machined and anodized aluminum body.
The Apple Music Awards honor achievements in music across five distinct categories — Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Top Song of the Year, and Top Album of the Year — and winners are chosen through a process that reflects both Apple Music’s editorial perspective and what music listeners around the world are listening to the most. This year, the Apple Music Awards introduced a new category of awards for Regional Artist of the Year, recognizing artists from five countries and regions: Africa, France, Germany, Japan, and Russia. The winners for this year were as follows:
Global Artist of the Year: The Weeknd
“I’m so grateful for this huge honor and want to thank Apple for all its support, not only for my work but also for great music by newer artists, where it matters so much for creators to be found and supported,” -The Weeknd.
Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, AND Song of the Year: Olivia Rodrigo
“I did my first interview for ‘drivers license’ with Apple Music, and so much has happened since then,” Rodrigo said. “It’s truly surreal. Thank you to Apple Music for these amazing awards.” -Olivia Rodrigo.
Songwriter of the Year: H.E.R.
Artist of the Year (Africa): Wizkid
“It’s a blessing to get to do what I do, and I’m proud to be representing for Africa.” -Wizkid.
Artist of the Year (France): Aya Nakamura
“I am extremely honored to be the very first Francophone artist to win an Apple Music Award as Artist of the Year (France),” Nakamura said. “Thank you, Apple!”
The wait is finally over: the highly anticipated “Spotify Wrapped” was released yesterday. In essence, Spotify releases a “story” of your top songs, minutes listened, favorite artists, most listened to podcasts, and any music-related statistic that sums up your year. Yesterday, in addition to revealing the top music and podcasts streamed globally in 2021, Spotify unveiling their annual 2021 personalized Wrapped experience for listeners. It’s inspired by the millions of weird and wonderful ways users listened this year—and by the creators who soundtracked the world around us.
In their own words: “What did your 2021 sound like? Did you fall back in love with a past favorite artist, sample a genre you’d never listened to before, or binge true crime podcasts for the first time ever? However you streamed, it was uniquely you, and uniquely 2021.”
The Wrapped experience is known to connect listeners with each other and their favorite creators, and has been a social media trend for the past few years. Here are some of the categories that Spotify Wrapped will personalize for each subscriber:
Your Top Songs 2021 – One of Spotify’s most popular playlists takes users down memory lane and lets them rediscover the most listened to songs of the year.
Your Artists Revealed – Helps fans deepen their connections with creators by giving them personalized podcast episodes and songs featuring their top artists of the year.
Top Tracks & Artists of 2021 – Data-driven playlists that feature music from the top artists globally and in your local market.
Best New Podcasts of 2021 – Data-driven selection of new podcasts from inspiring creators that are pushing boundaries.
Best Episodes of 2021 – Curated selection of top podcast episodes throughout the year.
The Best of 2021 – Data-driven and editorially curated music playlists to jump back into the best songs of 2021 in every genre.
A Look Back at 2021 – Music and podcasts that contextualize the year of 2021.
2021 Wrapped: Blend – Comparing users’ music taste in 2021 with a friend and get a blended playlist, as well as access all of the ones that you’ve already created.
Love the Soundtrack of that Netflix Series? – It’s On Spotify
Netflix and Spotify are teaming up for a ‘Netflix Hub’ of soundtrack playlists.
The latest trend in the music streaming and podcasting industry is that platforms like Netflix, Spotify, and Peloton are teaming up against tech giants to keep their content relevant. The latest development is a partnership between two of the biggest media companies: Spotify and Netflix. That’s right, the two companies are teaming up for a “Netflix Hub” or soundtrack playlists, which aims to make it easier to discover the official soundtracks for shows and movies on Netflix. At launch, the Netflix Hub offers soundtracks and playlists for some of the most popular shows, such as Stranger Things, La Casa De Papel (Money Heist), Squid Game, Bridgerton, Outer Banks, and more.
The Netflix Hub also includes Netflix-oriented podcasts like Okay, Now Listen, Netflix is a Daily Joke, 10/10 Would Recommend, and You Can’t Make This Up. Seeing as Spotify is honing in on its podcasting strategy, this makes sense for Spotify to promote some of the more popular podcasts about Netflix shows (such as The Crown or Behind the Scenes: Shadow and Bone). So, why is this collaboration so beneficial? If Netflix soundtracks debut on Spotify first – fans are more likely to keep Spotify as their music streaming service even if they have access to Apple Music, Amazon Music, or YouTube Music.
Netflix says it didn’t purchase access to have a hub on Spotify’s platform. It’s not an ad product, but both companies are interested in working together to promote themselves vs. tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Apple. This news reflects Spotify’s enthusiasm to establish these types of hub partnerships with other subscription-based apps. One of my previous blog posts also mentions Spotify’s latest collaboration with fitness company, Peloton, which also has an exercise hub on Spotify where exercise junkies can find curated playlists from their favorite Peloton instructors.
The Netflix Hub is available to Spotify Free and Premium users in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and India.
Adele got Spotify to remove the shuffle button from album pages
Adele’s long-awaited new album, 30, has just been released. This is not only the popular singer’s first album in six years, but with its release Adele has also taken the opportunity to work her power in the music streaming industry. BBC News reports that Spotify has removed the shuffle button from all album pages after Adele pressed the company to make the change in sync with the launch of her new album. Adele tweeted her thoughts on this matter, saying that albums should be listened to "as [artists] intended" as they tell "a story".
You can still shuffle an album using the controls for individual songs. This change mainly just adds an extra step and pushes you to choose a first track. Rivals like Apple Music still let you tap a "shuffle" button from an album page. There's no question some albums are meant to be played in order, including 30. Artists put much thought into curating the perfect order for their music, and in the case of Adele’s 30, the order of the tracks is placed meticulously to weave a narrative around an important time in Adele's life. However, critics have already raised concerns about removing a feature to please an artist. It's one thing to recommend playing albums a certain way, but it's another to take control away from listeners to dictate that order — and what about artists who are happy to allow shuffle play? It also does reflect the unfairness of huge artists and the power they hold, versus smaller artists that are not offered this luxury.
Variety released an article just 4 days ago announcing that Jay-Z’s music streaming platform, Tidal, will be implementing a number of new updates including a new free tier and enhanced paid subscription tiers, direct-to-artist payments, what it describes as “fan-centered royalties.”
These introductions, especially the direct-to-artist payments and enhanced paid subscription tiers partially address a longstanding complaint about streaming services: under the current model, streaming services put all streams into one pile and pay artists, songwriters and rights-holders based on their percentage of that total number of streams. This drives a huge wedge between successful artists such as Adele and Drake and other smaller artists don’t benefit as much from the current model. By the “user-centric” model, creators and rights-holders would be paid based on how much each user streams their music, which is not only more fair but will also allow the artist him/herself to receive revenue derived from subscriptions. For example, if someone streams nothing but Imagine Dragons, Imagine Dragons would receive all of the revenue derived from that subscription. Tidal’s new payment model, which is only available in its $19.99-per-month HiFi Plus tier, partially adapts the user-centric model.
In addition to the free tier, the HiFi tier ($9.99/month) and HiFi Plus ($19.99 for even better HiFi and fan-centered royalties and direct-to-artist payments), the company has announced the following new ways to pay artists, which are quoted directly from the announcement below:
Direct-to-artist payments: Beginning November 17, Tidal will launch monthly direct-to-artist payments. This program will give artists access to an additional payment stream, so they can benefit directly from their biggest fans on Tidal. Each month, a percentage of HiFi Plus subscribers’ membership fees will be directed towards their top-streamed artist.
Fan-centered royalties: Starting in 2022, Tidal is rolling out a new model for royalties. Under this upcoming model, royalties attributed to HiFi Plus subscribers will not be aggregated. Instead, royalties will be paid based on the actual streaming activity of individual HiFi Plus subscribers as opposed to the industry accepted method of aggregating streams, allowing fans to play a larger role in the success of their favorite artists.
Jesse Dorogusker, Head of Tidal, said: “Tidal is also supporting artists with fairer earning terms and quicker payments, and fans are getting a better way to support their favorite artists.”
It’s finally here—Spotify users can now listen and watch their favorite creators as video podcasting comes to Spotify. In an article published on the Spotify Newsroom on October 21, 2021, Spotify announced that they will be rolling out video components to many of their hit podcasts such as The Joe Rogan Experience and Jasmine Chiswell. This announcement, however, comes as no surprise seeing as Spotify has been focusing on podcasting as one of their priorities, rolling out new shows every month and signing exclusive million dollar deals with popular shows such as Call Her Daddy.
Spotify has previously created features like Polls and Q&A for a chance to interact with creators. Now, they’ve incorporated video podcasts alongside their audio offering so listeners can get to know their favorite podcast hosts even better, and creators can connect with their audiences in a much deeper way.
When Spotify first began rolling out video podcasts on Spotify, they tested the format with a variety of Spotify Originals. Since then, they’ve found that users want the option to easily switch between audio only and video depending on where they are, what they’re doing, and what they’re enjoying. Starting late October, Spotify began a major expansion of our video podcast catalog—by putting it in the capable hands of creators. Soon, Spotify users will see a lot more video podcasts on the platform as creators begin to have access to publishing their own video podcasts to Spotify. This tool will be accessible through Anchor, Spotify’s podcasting platform, and will offer a seamless way for creators to upload video content and publish it directly. The video podcasting format is launching on a rolling basis, beginning with key creators such as Philip DeGranco, The GaryVee Audio Experience, and The WAN Show.
Apple Debuts True-Crime Podcast “Hooked” as First Standalone Original
Last Wednesday, Apple debuted "Hooked," a true-crime podcast, which is the company's first wholly standalone original podcast series.
Although Apple has already begun its venture into original podcasts through "Oprah's Book Club" and "For All Mankind: The Official Podcast," Hooked is the first Apple Original podcast that is not tied to an Apple TV+ series in any way. This is major for Apple as a competitor of Spotify, seeing as they are in a battle for podcast domination. According to a Wall Street Journal article, podcasts exploded in popularity during the lockdown and are on track to bring in more than $1 billion in U.S. ad revenue this year.
It remains unclear whether Apple will create a dedicated channel for Apple Original podcasts. Hooked is produced by Campside Media, and Apple describes the series as “a different kind of crime story that takes listeners on an exceptional and very personal tour of America’s opioid epidemic”.
Apple has ramped up its podcast production output over the past year after the onsight of the pandemic and is possibly working on a podcast streaming subscription service to better compete with Spotify. Hooked appears to be another step toward bolstering Apple Podcasts' ability to rival Spotify.
Spotify x Peloton: A Partnership that Bridges Music with Fitness
Earlier this week, Spotify announced that it is partnering with fitness streaming giant Peloton to launch a new “Curated by Peloton” shelf on Spotify’s “Workout Hub”. Starting from today, November 3rd, Spotify subscribers will have access to 7 different playlists curated by Peloton instructors. To brief, Peloton’s business model revolves around users purchasing the Peloton Bike, and then in return having access to thousands of workouts and videos online taught by skilled professional spin instructors. The playlists that Spotify users will now have access to include “Running by Peloton,” “Tunde Oyeneyin’s Playlist,” “Strength by Peloton” and more.
The curated playlists offer users an inside look into the songs featured in their workout classes. To me, this is an impressive collaboration because it positions Spotify as a leader in workout music, offering its users not only comprehensive playlists, but also the ability to tap into Peloton’s membership perks. Spotify has also launched a new “Find Your Instructor” quiz to help users find out which Peloton instructors’ musical tastes align with their own.
The partnership expansion comes as both Spotify and Peloton have fared well over the past year, as the pandemic forced people to explore ways to work out and stay motivated at home. Naturally, the brands have taken advantage of the bridge between music and sport. Also, both brands are digital companies that operate on the same online-subscription model. Last month, Spotify partnered with e-commerce platform Shopify to allow artists on its service to connect their profiles to their Shopify stores and market their merchandise directly to fans through the Spotify app. It is evident that the effects of the pandemic have led Spotify and other digital companies to expand through partnerships with other similar brands.
Spice and Soundcloud Partner to Launch a New Program for Emerging Music Creators
Splice, a leading marketplace for music creators, and streaming platform SoundCloud have partnered to launch a new program designed to promote emerging music creators: Nova. Nova’s aim is to “elevate” unsigned Splice and SoundCloud music creators and comes in the form of a contest. The series of contests will host contestants across both communities and is the chance for emerging producers and sound designers to gain the recognition they’ve been looking for. Chosen winners will have access to distribution, monetization, and marketing from SoundCloud in order to kickstart their career. Splice has committed to releasing 12 Nova “artist packs,” (a collection of signature sounds and samples) beginning in January of 2022. Spice hosts a library of over 2 million pre-cleared samples and is opening its sound-packs to users for the first time.
The first competition actually begins today (October 26, 2021) with the end goal of having teams at Splice and SoundCloud picking four winners. The winners will have the chance to earn services such as account management, marketing (winners will earn the value of a $20,000 marketing spend), and professional help with music distribution.
“We’re opening the doors to our most talented users and leveraging our global producer community to amplify these creators,” said Splice chief music officer Maria Egan. “The power of our platform, alongside this incredible partnership with SoundCloud, will give artists a unique opportunity to kick start their careers.”
So, why is this headline important and how does it have potential for making waves? For one, Soundcloud and Splice have always both been platforms that aim to elevate less-established artists and underground talent. These artists are the pillars of the music community because they are the unseen gems that drive music culture forward. This new Nova program is the means for these artists to grow their careers and get the opportunities that they deserve.
Spotify takes “Call Her Daddy” from Barstool Sports with a whopping $60M+ deal
This summer, Alex Cooper and her top-rated podcast “Call Her Daddy” (which has broken records and maintained a front-running spot on charts) officially left Barstool Sports and is now represented by Spotify exclusively under a multiyear deal. Starting from July 21, 2021, “Call Her Daddy” is only available for listening via Spotify.
According to multiple sources, the deal between Spotify and Alexandra Cooper is worth upwards of $60 million, making it Spotify’s biggest exclusive deal for a woman-hosted podcast to this day. Although Barstool Sports has been the home of Call Her Daddy since 2018 (and really the reason for its rise to fame), the podcast is now co-produced by Spotify and Cooper. “Call Her Daddy” has consistently ranked in the top 15 podcasts across all platforms this year, and was the 5th most-listened-to podcast on Spotify in 2020.
Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s chief content and advertising business officer explains: “We’re beyond excited to welcome ‘Call Her Daddy,’ one of the most wildly popular podcasts in the world, to Spotify. The level of enthusiasm and buzz from listeners generated after each episode is emblematic of the magic of the podcast. Alex connects with the millennial and Gen Z generations while empowering her audience to openly express themselves.” Ostroff’s statement shows not only the reach that Call Her Daddy has had over the years, but also the reality in which the podcasting landscape has changed in recent times. In a poll at the end of the article, 42% of respondents marked that they were “very surprised” that the podcast signed a $60 million agreement with Spotify. I see this news as an indication of a few things. First, that the money in the podcasting and music streaming industry really belongs to the big players, such as Spotify. I wouldn’t say that Spotify has a monopoly on podcasting yet, but it is definitely a frontrunner in terms of the podcasting content provided. Next, this news really shows that podcasting in general is rising in trend, and also becoming a major source of revenue in the entertainment industry. What used to be regarded as an inappropriate and silly girl-talk podcast is now the show that consistently ranks high in podcasting charts, overtaking the place of more traditional forms of podcast shows.