It was a messy week for Apple Music, a mixed week for Spotify, and an expensive one for Coldplay fans. Here’s the music business weekly wrap-up…
An escalating streaming music war took some strange twists-and-turns this past week, with Apple Music stepping into a gigantic pile. After debuting a pair of Frank Ocean albums the week earlier, piracy on both releases started to go crazy, with most fans disinterested in setting up an Apple Music account. Enforcement seemed incredibly lax, despite high-profile leaks on Google Drive, SoundCloud, Dropbox and YouTube, among many other sources, with communities like Reddit egging things on.
In the end, Universal Music Group chief Lucian Grainge called for an end to streaming music exclusives, while Apple even threatened to sue Digital Music News for covering the spate of embarrassing leaks. There’s even chatter of a lawsuit against Frank Ocean, for violating the terms of his contract with Def Jam Recordings and Universal Music Group. For now, he’s the one laughing first.
Meanwhile, Spotify, a longtime critic of expensive exclusives, was accused of retaliating against artists who offered Apple Music exclusives. Those were the allegations spewed to the New York Times and Bloomberg, though it’s unclear if there’s any truth to it. For its part, Spotify denied the allegations.
And there’s some evidence that exclusives aren’t necessarily hampering Spotify’s growth trajectory. According to details released this week, Spotify now has 39 million subscribers, a massive jump from 30 million just six months ago. Back in June, Apple Music disclosed 15 million paying subscribers.
Sounds great, except that Spotify’s IPO is on hold as the major labels refuse to structure long-term, multi-year contracts.
Elsewhere, Amazon announced a $5 per month streaming service, though only for Echo owners.
Meanwhile, smaller streaming services are dying. The latest casualty was Milk, Samsung’s ill-fated streaming music service, now officially shutting down.
And actual people passed away, as well. That includes Lou Pearlman, the disgraced visionary behind Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC who was found dead in his federal prison cell. Elsewhere, rapper Kid Cali was shot to death at a party in Los Angeles, and inquiries now surround possible mislabeling (intentional or otherwise) surrounding Prince‘s overdose on Fentanyl. Also, Live Nation, one of the largest venue operators in the music business, is now facing new lawsuits over overdoses at EDM concerts.
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In the ever-increasing battlefield of songwriter lawsuits, Pharrell and Robin Thicke are now appealing a multi-million dollar decision awarded to the heirs of Marvin Gaye. And new cases are cropping up, including a fresh challenge against Ariana Grande. And a composer that sued mega-Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer has now publicly apologized.
More coverage ahead on Digital Music News!