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Smart speaker market grows double digits YoY; Apple gains; Amazon leads

The global smart speaker market is surging to record levels, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, which frames its recent report as a “market recovery.” The data are from Q2 of this year, compared to Q2 2020, and represent the highest-ever Q2 growth. Click for an illustrative table which tells the whole story. Continue Reading

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After delay, Apple Podcasts Subscriptions launches today

After a delay to fix widely reported bugs, Apple announces today a firm launch of Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, a platform for creators and networks to offer paid listening plans. In most cases, those plans will offer listeners and ad-free experience, and/or unique content not given to non-paying followers. (What will this do to the ongoing confusion of the word “Subscribe” in free podcasts?) Continue Reading

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Apple Music launches “Spatial Audio” (Dolby Atmos) — like Amazon, no extra charge

Starting today, Apple Music is streaming what it calls Spatial Audio, which is the Dolby Atmos format often called immersive audio. Dolby Atmos is not new, but its implementation by Apple is, announced yesterday at the company’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). The launch in Apple Music matches Amazon Music’s similar dive into the specialty high resolution music format. Both companies are refuting the once-standard model of charging more for HiRez listening. Continue Reading

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Apple’s “next chapter” of podcasting: Paid listening. And channels.

In an announcement targeted mainly to podcast creators, Apple announced two upcoming features that will enable podcasters to earn subscription revenue, and organize channels of content to increase listening. While both those features widely exist elsewhere, SVP Eddie Cue calls it “the next chapter of podcasting.” New analytics are also in the offing. It all comes out in May. Continue Reading

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Mechanical Licensing Collective receives $424M for unmatched royalties from streaming services

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) has received $424-million in royalties from Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Google, Pandora, and 15 other streaming entities from Aspiro to Xandrie. With funds in hand, the MLC starts its US government mandate to accurately distribute payments to songwriters, composers, and music publishers. Click for the list streaming services by dollar amount. Continue Reading

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Bill Rosenblatt: The Axis Collision of Amazon Possibly Acquiring Wondery

by Bill Rosenblatt
Guest columnist Bill Rosenblatt speculates a podcast world in which Amazon has acquired Wondery, fulfilling that rumor. A certain bifurcation would become evident in that scenario, pitching an Amazon/Spotify axis pushing for exclusivity of content, and an iHeartRadio/NPR axis pushing for ad revenue. A must-read column. Continue Reading