Twitter’s recent housecleaning of some 70 million fake and automated accounts illuminates just how pervasive audience manipulation has become in the digital era. For Twitter, the fake accounts can create a shadow army of followers that has comparatively little monetary effect. But perform the same manipulation with music streams, and it constitutes fraud.
The MBW Review offers our take on some of the music biz’s biggest recent goings-on. This time, David Turner mulls over music’s recent run of deals with behemoths of the telco and tech worlds – and the dangers which may be lurking around the corner. The MBW Review is supported by Instrumental.
Music-streaming service Napster is on track to record a net profit in 2018, despite its revenues having dropped by nearly 28% since the company’s peak in 2016. Napster recorded net profits of $4.4m and $2.1m respectively in the first two quarters of this year, although its $76.5m revenues for the first half of 2018 compare to $106m in the comparable period in 2016. This is based on Music Ally’s analysis of figures provided by technology firm RealNetworks in its own quarterly and annual financial results. RealNetworks owns a 42% stake in Rhapsody International Inc, having launched Rhapsody as a joint venture with MTV Networks in 2007, before spinning it off as an independent company in 2010. Rhapsody bought Napster in 2011 from its previous owner, US retailer Best Buy, operating it outside the US while retaining the Rhapsody brand in the US – until 2016, when the latter was rebranded as Napster. RealNetworks publishes quarterly financial metrics for the streaming service, as a result of its stake: revenues and profit/loss figures, although not any metrics for Napster’s subscribers.
YouTube has mailed users to alert them to changes in how artist channel subscriptions will now work – part of an effort to pull together all the channels an artist might run/be associated with into one location.
Netflix is testing changes to the way it charges iOS users for its monthly subscriptions – and that’s a move that will be of intense interest to the music-streaming world in the coming days and weeks. TechCrunch has the details, reporting that Netflix is testing a new subscription method in 33 countries where, instead of new and lapsed subscribers paying via the iOS in-app subscriptions system, they’re directed to Netflix’s mobile website to enter their payment details. This has historically been a big no-no for Apple, which has cracked down in the past on digital services – Amazon’s Kindle store most famously – that try to avoid giving Apple its 30% cut from in-app purchases on iOS devices.
Last week, MBW told you that record labels are becoming increasingly antsy that Spotify might reduce the percentage of money paid out to music copyright holders by pushing more audience listening towards non-music content.