SoundCloud to cut staff amid rivalry with Apple Music and Spotify

Music platform SoundCloud said today it would cut about forty percent of its workforce, or 173 staffers, a move that highlighted the German company’s inability to create a stable business model on top of its large audience of 175 million listeners.

In January, SoundCloud said it was at risk of running out of money while a subscription tier launched last year hasn’t been as successful as the company’s executives hoped.

Offices in San Francisco and London will be shut as SoundCloud will consolidate operations at its headquarters in Berlin and another office in New York. The cost-cutting move should put it on a path to profitability and allow it to better compete against larger rivals Apple and Spotify.

“We need to ensure our path to long-term, independent success,” said SoundCloud co-founder and CEO Alex Ljung. “And in order to do this, it requires cost cutting, continued growth of our existing advertising and subscription revenue streams and a relentless focus on our unique competitive advantage—artists and creators.”

He said SoundCloud has doubled its revenue over the past 12 months.

SoundCloud is the popular destination for sharing independent recordings, mixes, podcasts and other user-generated audio content. Even established stars post material to the site before it’s released elsewhere while record labels use it to scout new talent.

SoundCloud is available in 190+ countries and has an excellent iPhone and iPad app. A recent report in the New York Post alleged that Apple was among those looking to acquire the firm.

Apple said at the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 5 that its music-streaming service had 27 million paying customers. Spotify announced around the same time that it had a total of 140 million users, of which 50 million were paid subscribers.



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Fender and Apple partner on curated guitar playlists for Apple Music

Apple has partnered with American manufacturer of stringed instruments and amplifiers Fender for curated guitar playlists on Apple Music. Fender has now joined the more than sixty curators providing unique playlists to Apple Music members.

As first noted by AppleInsider, Fender’s playlists are wide-ranging, spanning music from classic rock icons to emerging artists to experimental guitar works.

Fender CMO Evan Jones said in a press release:

We’re pleased to partner with Apple to bring a Fender-curated music experience to long-time Fender fans and those just discovering the brand. These five new playlists honor a diverse range of iconic artists and visionaries, and an emerging generation of artists, who are driving guitar and music forward.

The following playlists from Fender are available on Apple Music:

  • Roots, Rock & Twang—A Mix: New sounds blending Americana, Country and Rock, featuring Chris Stapleton, Nikki Lane, Jaime Wyatt and more.
  • Shuffle—Today’s Hits: Plug in to set the tone for your day with the latest from Years & Years, Cold War Kids, Radiohead and more.
  • Best of the Rock You Need to Know: From Gary Clark Jr. to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Cold War Kids, press play on this list of rock and bluesy tracks to energize your day. We’ve got guitar heroes and visionaries that are set to inspire, in addition to plenty of hidden gems from artists that you need on your radar now.
  • Best of Everything Acoustic: Celebrating the accosting guitar, whether it’s featured in favorite solo ballads or roaring with the rest of the band.
  • Best of Under the Radar: Become an early listener of some up and coming Fender favorites who are pushing sonic boundaries.

According to Fender, its guitar lessons app for iPhone and iPad as well as the Fender Play web app can teach users to play their first song in minutes, as Engadget reported today.

These apps put the “songs you love, world-class instructors and bite-sized lessons from the most trusted brand in guitars” at your fingertips.

As Apple Music recently celebrated its second anniversary, the service is still heavily focused on promoting rap and hip-hop music, with its Beats 1 24/7 global Internet radio station almost exclusively focused on the genre.

However, Apple filed trademark applications for “Beats 2”, “Beats 3”, “Beats 4” and “Beats 5”, indicating the company is likely going to introduce additional Beats radio stations potentially focused on other musical genres.

The Verge said in August 2015 that Apple’s licensing contracts with rights holders include permissions for up to five additional Beats stations.



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Apple Music for Android tops 10 million downloads in less than a year

Apple Music 1.0 for Android screenshot 002

Apple Music for Android has passed ten million downloads, according to meta data from Google’s Play Store. Apple Music’s Android app was last updated on August 25, bumping version number to 1.1.1 and bringing out various app and performance improvements. The app made its debut on Google’s ubiquitous mobile platform as a public beta in November 2015, six months following Apple Music unveiling at WWDC 2015. In August 2016, it exited beta and is now for the most part on par with its iOS counterpart in terms of features…. Read the rest of this post here



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Apple Music launches in Israel, gains free Bloomberg Radio news channel in 100 countries

Taylor Swift Apple Music ad image 001

The Apple Music service has expanded to Israel this morning, allowing users in the eight million people country to sign up for the music-subscription service in exchange for 19.90 ILS per month (about $5.2) for individual accounts. A family of six can subscribe to Apple Music for 29.90 ILS, or about $7.81.

A free three-month trial is available as well.

The news comes 24 hours after the news gathering organization Bloomberg announced that its radio service is now available on Apple Music in over a hundred countries…. Read the rest of this post here



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Katy Perry’s “Rise” launches exclusively on Apple Music ahead of 2016 Summer Olympics

Katy Perry Rise artwork

Apple Music, which celebrated its first anniversary last month, now lets subscribers listen to Katy Perry’s first new single in two years, “Rise”. The song, which Perry wrote herself, is described by The Entertainment Weekly as “an uplifting track with a dash of electronic influence,” with the music video containing scenes from the NBC Olympics.

NBC will play the song as the anthem of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Listen to “Rise” on Apple Music and iTunes…. Read the rest of this post here



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NYT music reporter claims Apple won’t be acquiring Tidal after all

tidal-share.239a2bdc

The Wall Street Journal ran a story yesterday claiming that Apple was in “exploratory talks” to acquire music service Tidal, which rap mogul Jay-Z bought in March 2015 for a reported $56 million.

Ostensibly, Apple’s interest in Tidal revolves around its strong ties to artists: since the Jay-Z deal, Tidal has given 19 famous artists small stakes in the firm.

The Journal article cautioned that the current discussions might not result in a deal and now Ben Sisario, a music reporter at The New York Times, cited “two highly placed sources” as saying that Apple won’t be buying Tidal anytime soon…. Read the rest of this post here



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Apple responds to Spotify’s “anti-competitive” accusation, talks app rejection

Spotify teaser 003

Spotify’s letter sent earlier this week to Apple’s legal counsel Bruce Sewell and some Congressional staff in Washington, D.C. didn’t sit well with Apple’s legal team and its top lawyer.

Today, the Cupertino firm issued a response to address claims that it’s been using the power of its ecosystem and the app review process as a “weapon” to stifle competition by rejecting the latest Spotify for iOS update, which “caused grave harm to Spotify and its customers”.

Firing back at Spotify in a three-page letter obtained by BuzzFeed News, Apple accused the Swedish streaming-music startup of “resorting to rumors and half-truths”, slammed it for asking for “preferential treatment” and set the record straight on the app rejection…. Read the rest of this post here



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Obstacles to launching Apple Music in Korea reportedly removed

Redesigned Apple Music iOS 10

Although Apple had previously attempted to roll out its subscription-based music-streaming service in Korea, the Cupertino firm ultimately failed to reach a consensus with local music copyright associations. But as of recently, Tim Cook & Co. have apparently managed to cut deals with local right holders and copyright associations.

As a result, the service could launch in South Korea, a 50 million people market, sooner than later, according to a news report today by The Korea Herald. No firm date for the launch was given at post time…. Read the rest of this post here



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iTunes 12.4 bug causing Apple Music playback issues with tracks shorter than 60 seconds

itunes 12.4 header

There seems to be a bug in iTunes 12.4 which causes playback issues with Apple Music tracks shorter than 60 seconds, MacRumors reported today.

The problem allegedly stems from a buffering bug that apparently causes iTunes to never begin downloading the next song in the queue if it’s shorter than 60 seconds. Basically, iTunes is left waiting for a download to finish that has in fact never started. The bug has been reported to Apple and we expect it to be fixed in a future iTunes update…. Read the rest of this post here



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The new Music app in iOS 10: a big bold confusing mess

ios 10 music redesign

Apple Music is a great service, but the confusing and bloated user interface of the application has been criticized since the app was first released about a year ago. So when rumors started popping up that Apple had been working on simplifying the app, many got really excited, myself included.

Yet, when Apple showed off the new Music app on stage at WWDC a little over a week ago, I didn’t see anything simpler or more streamlined about the app. It’s only when I started using iOS 10 beta and the new Music app that my fears were confirmed.

Now that I’ve been playing with the Music app for a few days, I feel I have enough feedback to share a few quick thoughts with you. Don’t worry, it’s not all bad…. Read the rest of this post here



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