Spotify misses on revenue in first earnings report with 170M users

Spotify misses on revenue in first earnings report with 170M users

In Spotify’s first ever earnings report, the streaming music came up a little short, pulling in $1.36 billion revenue in Q1 2018. That’s compared to Wall Street’s estimates of $1.4 billion in revenue and an adjusted EPS loss of $0.34. Spotify hit 170 million monthly active users, up 6.9 percent from 159 million in Q4 2017 and 99 million ad-supported users. It also hit 75 million Premium Subscribers, up 30 percent year-over-year, and 75 million paid subscribers, up 5.6 percent from 71 million in Q4 and up 45 percent YoY.

Interestingly, the MAU count indicates that 4 million of Spotify’s 75 million subscribers pay but don’t listen. Spotify confirmed as much. For reference, Apple Music has roughly 40 million subscribers.

 

Spotify’s results were in line with the guidance it gave yet Wall Street was still disappointed. Spotify shares promptly fell over 8 percent in after-hours trading to around $156, beneath its IPO pop a month ago but still above its $149 day one closing price and $132 IPO pricing.

Spotify’s Gross Margin was 24.9 percent in Q1, over the top of its guidance range of 23-24 percent. Its operating loss was $48.9 million, which improved significantly, and come in under the $59 million to $95 million operating loss Spotify warned of. The music company now has $1.91 billion in cash and cash equivalents at the end of Q1.

As for Q2 guidance, Spotify expects 175 to 180 million MAU, 79 to 83 million paid subscribers, and $1.3 to $1.55 billion in revenue, excluding the impoact of foreign exchange rates. It’s planning an operating loss of $71 million to $167 million, in part due to a $35 million to $42 million expense related to its direct listing debut on the public markets.

During the earnings call, CEO Daniel Ek said he hasn’t seen any significant impact from increased promotion by its competitor Apple Music. In fact, churn hit an all-time low of 4.7 percent, and lifetime value to customer acquisition cost ratio is holding firm at 2.7:1. But overall, “We don’t see this as a winner takes all market” Ek says.

As for voice-activated smart speakers, Ek said “We view it longterm as an opportunity not a threat” since Spotify is available on Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices.

Spotify is hoping to boost paid subscriber numbers by first luring more users to its free ad-supported service. Last month it unveiled a revamped free tier that lets users listen to songs on-demand on particular Spotify-controlled playlists instead of only being able to play in shuffle mode. The idea is that once users get a taste of on-demand listening, they’ll pay to upgrade so they can listen to whatever they want across the whole catalog.

That strategy could not only boost subscriber numbers, but also give Spotify more leverage over the record labels. More than 30 percent of all Spotify listening now happens on its owned playlists. That gives it the power to choose what will become a hit, and in turn means record labels need to play nice. This could help Spotify secure more exclusive content and a better bargaining position in royalty negotiations.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

LG adds more AI camera features and a notch for the G7 ThinQ

LG adds more AI camera features and a notch for the G7 ThinQ
LG has done a really terrible job keeping the G7 ThinQ under wraps. But clearly the company doesn’t mind. Building up the hype cycle is clearly more important to the handset maker than any kind of big reveal. In addition to leaked images from nearly every angle, the company has already issued several official press releases ahead of today’s big unveil in New York.
As numerous photos have already suggested, LG’s the latest company to go all in on the notch. There’s a big one up top that will no doubt evoke Apple’s new flagship for many users — though the G7’s cutout is smaller than the iPhone’s, and the curved bottom bezel is a bit larger.
In a prebrief ahead of today’s announcement, a spokesperson for the company said LG anticipates that the notch will be a fact of life on high-end handsets for the next one and a half or two years, as phone makers work to figure out the ideal solution for going full screen. A display manufacturer itself, the company floated its own flexible display tech as a potential workable solution.
LG’s settling on this as the latest iteration of the “second screen” feature found on the V20. Here, however, that refers to FullVision — essentially an optional black bar that sits on either side of the notch, creating the appearance of a flush top bezel.

Notch aside, the screen is a 6.1-inch QHD+, which works pretty well in sunlight, courtesy of a boost button. LG’s also put some effort into the phone’s speakers, which, until recently, have been one of the most overlooked pieces of most phones. These get really loud — in a demo, we were able to hear music pretty clearly played across the room.
The real centerpiece is, as the name suggests, ThinQ. That’s the AI camera the company introduced at MWC with the latest iteration of the V30S. It’s a neat feature that’s some combination of flashy gimmick and genuinely useful feature. Essentially the system utilizes AI features to identify what it’s shooting and adjust accordingly. It also shows its work in the process, flashing seemingly random words on screen as it attempts to figure out what it’s looking at.

I didn’t get to spend much time with the device this time out, but it did a pretty admirable job figuring out when people were in the room. In all, the system has 18 shooting modes — around double the amount rolled out on the V30S. New additions include:

Baby
Pet (In addition to Animal)
Beverage
Snow
Sky

Of note is the low-light camera, which “increases the brightness of each shot.” It’s not really on the level of Huawei’s latest offering, and does appear to still include a fair amount of noise on dark shots, however. The handset also gets a Portrait Mode, which brings a familiar approximation of the bokeh effect, introducing blur in the background to help frame the subject. Like Samsung’s offering, the effect can be adjusted after the fact.
The handset has a devoted side button, dedicated to Google Assistant. LG has no plans to let users assign different features, but will do so if enough users request it. Built-in far-field voice technology also helps Assistant hear voices in a noisy setting.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

AT&T CEO says a new $15-per-month, sports-free streaming service is launching in a few weeks

AT&T CEO says a new -per-month, sports-free streaming service is launching in a few weeks

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson revealed on Thursday the carrier’s plans to launch another live TV service called “AT&T Watch,” which would offer a cheap, $15-per-month bundle of channels for customers, and be provided to AT&T Unlimited Wireless subscribers for free. At this price point, the service would be one of the lowest on the market — less than Sling TV’s entry-level, $20-per-month package, and just a bit less than Philo’s low-cost, sports-free offering, priced at $16 per month.

Stephenson, who’s in court defending the proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner against antitrust claims, announced the service on the witness stand. He held up the soon-to-arrive AT&T Watch as a rebuttal of sorts to the Justice Department’s point about the company’s continually climbing prices for its DirecTV satellite service, according to a report from Variety.

The Justice Department is concerned that if the merger goes through, AT&T will then raise prices on Time Warner’s Turner networks, like TNT, TBS and CNN in a way that would hurt other pay TV providers.

Few other details were offered regarding AT&T Watch, beyond its price point — which is due to the fact that it will also be a sports-free offering, like Philo.

But AT&T’s advantage over competitors is the distribution provided by its AT&T Wireless business. Although its existing streaming service DirecTV Now is one of the newest on the market, it has already reached No. 2 in terms of subscribers, falling behind Sling TV.

Beyond its lack of sports, the channel lineup for AT&T Watch was not discussed, nor was an exact launch date.

Stephenson said the company hoped to launch it in the next few weeks.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

iHeartRadio opens up its playlists to all users with launch of Playlist Radio

iHeartRadio opens up its playlists to all users with launch of Playlist Radio

iHeartRadio is best known for its free service offering thousands of live, streaming AM and FM radio stations and its ability to create your own custom station, similar to Pandora. Today, the company is adding a new feature for all users – both free and paid – that blurs the lines between streaming radio and the typically premium-only option of using playlists: Playlist Radio.

Like most playlists, Playlist Radio isn’t a random assortment of songs.

Instead, the songs it plays are curated and programmed by radio DJs and other iHeartRadio staff. That means there isn’t an algorithm deciding what to play next – you’re listening to a selection of songs an actual person has put together.

However, because it’s still “radio” you can’t do some of the things you could with the premium product’s playlists – like reorganizing tracks, adding or removing songs, or playing a particular song in the playlist on-demand. Instead, the songs will play in their given order, though you can skip up to six songs per hour within a playlist – the same as free users have when they’re listening to iHeartRadio’s artist stations.

The addition of Playlist Radio opens up iHeartRadio’s over 1,000 existing playlists to a wider audience.

This includes all nearly the artist-created, genre-based, activity-focused, musical era-focused, and theme-based playlists, with the exception of a handful of playlists that have too few songs to turn into a radio experience.

Before now, those playlists were only available behind a paywall for iHeartRadio Plus, the $4.99/month on-demand music service, and iHeartRadio All Access, which offers unlimited access to millions of songs and offline listening.

In addition, the playlists will be updated every week, save for those where it doesn’t make sense – like those focused on a particular era, like ’60’s music, for example.

“One of the things we’re most excited about and the area where i feel like we really excel is in music curation,” explains iHeart’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Williams, of how Playlist Radio came to be. “We have some of the greatest music curators on the planet within iHeartRadio. We have the best radio programmers, music directors, and program directors who are out there curating every single day for their radio stations. So we tapped into the resources that we had there, as well as finding some external expertise.”

The idea is that these programmers have already built these great, curated listening experiences, but because free products can only offer radio play as opposed to on-demand streams, the subset of iHeartRadio’s 110+ million registered users who aren’t on a subscription tier were missing out.

However, Playlist Radio could also drive those free users to upgrade, in order to better take advantage of the on-demand options.

“I think it’s exposing a great listening experience to our existing free users, and offering them up a listening opportunity that doesn’t exist on the free tier right now,” says Williams. “I think what radio does a brilliant job at is programming formatically. And I think what Playlist Radio does a great job of is offering listening occasions that are thematic,” he notes. The new products aims to marry the two. 

While on-demand music services are growing, there’s an increased interest in lean-back modes of listening, even for on-demand users who can play whatever they choose. For example, Pandora just challenged Spotify with the launch of dozens of personalized playlists based on its Music Genome; and Spotify, of course, is still well-loved for its popular “Discover Weekly” personalized playlist and its curated trendsetters, like RapCaviar.

Of course, the launch also comes at a time when iHeartRadio is facing steep competition from those competitors and others, including Apple and Amazon, in music.

In fact, the streaming service’s parent company, iHeartMedia – which also owns hundreds of radio stations, a concert business, and a 90% stake in Clear Channel Outdoor’s billboard company – recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Consumers won’t know the difference when it comes to using iHeartRadio’s streaming service in the near-term. However, Pandora investor Liberty Media (SiriusXM’s owner) was interested in a deal with iHeartMedia which could impact iHeartRadio’s business in the future.

Playlist Radio is rolling out today to all iHeartRadio users on iOS, Android and desktop, before making its way to other platforms.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Clipisode launches a ‘talk show in a box’

Clipisode launches a ‘talk show in a box’

A company called Clipisode is today launching a new service that’s essentially a “talk show in a box,” as founder Brian Alvey describes it. Similar to how Anchor now allows anyone to build a professional podcast using simple mobile and web tools, Clipisode does this for video content. With Clipisode, you can record a video that can be shared across any platform – social media, the web, text messages – and collect video responses that can then be integrated into the “show” and overlaid with professional graphics.

The video responses feature is something more akin to a video voicemail-based call-in feature.

Here’s how it works. The content creator will first use Clipisode to record their video, and receive the link to share the video across social media, the web, or privately through email, text messaging, etc. When the viewer or guest clicks the link, they can respond to the question the show’s “host” posed.

For example, a reporter could ask for viewers’ thoughts on an issue or a creator could ask their fans what they want to see next.

How the video creator wants to use this functionality is really up to them, and specific to the type of video show they’re making.

To give you an idea, during a pre-launch period, the app has been tested by AXS TV to promote their upcoming Top Ten Revealed series by asking music industry experts “Who Is Your All-time Favorite Guitarist?

BBC Scotland asked their Twitter followers who they want to see hired as the new manager for the Scotland national football team.

A full-time Twitch gamer, Chris Melberger asked his subscribers what device they watch Twitch on.

The content creator can then receive all the video responses to these questions privately, choose which ones they want to include in their finished show, and drag those responses into the order they want. The creator can respond back to the clips, too, or just add another clip at the end of their video. Uploading pre-recorded clips from services like Dropbox or even your phone is supported as well.

Plus, content creators can use Clipisode to overlay professional-looking animations and graphics on top of the final video with the responses and replies. This makes it seem more like something made with help from a video editing team, not an app on your phone.

Because Clipisode invitations are web links, they don’t require the recipients to download an app.

“[People] don’t want to download an app for a one-time video reply,” explains Alvey. “But with this, people can reply.” And, he adds, what makes Clipisode interesting from a technical perspective, is that the web links users click to reply can work in any app in a way that feels seamless to the end user.

“That’s our biggest trick – making this work in other people’s apps, so there’s no new social network to join and nothing to download,” he says.

The app is free currently, but the plan is to generate revenue by later selling subscription access to the authoring suite where users can create the animated overlays and branding components that give the video the professional look-and-feel.

In an online CMS, creators can author, test and deploy animated themes that run on top of their videos.

The final video product can be shared back to social media, or downloaded as a video file to be published on video-sharing sites, social media, or as a video podcast.

Clipisode has been in development for some time, Alvey says. The company originally raised less than a million from investors including Mike Jones and Mark Cuban for a different product the founder describes as a Patreon competitor, before pivoting to Clipisode. Investors funded the new product with less than half a million.

The app itself took a couple of years to complete, something that Alvey says has to do with the animation studio it includes and the small team. (It’s just him and technical co-founder Max Schmeling.)

Clipisode is a free download on iOS and Android.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Instagram reenables GIF sharing after GIPHY promises no more racism

Instagram reenables GIF sharing after GIPHY promises no more racism

A racial slur GIF slipped into GIPHY’s sticker library earlier this month, prompting Instagram and Snapchat to drop their GIPHY integrations. Now Instagram is reactivating after GIPHY confirmed its reviewed its GIF library four times and will preemptively review any new GIFs it adds. Snapchat said it had nothing to share right now about whether it’s going to reactivate GIPHY.

“We’ve been in close contact with GIPHY throughout this process and we’re confident that they have put measures in place to ensure that Instagram users have a good experience” an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch. GIPHY told TechCrunch in a statement that “To anyone who was affected: we’re sorry. We take full responsibility for this recent event and under no circumstances does
GIPHY condone or support this kind of content . . . We have also finished a full investigation into our content moderations systems and processes and have made specific changes to our process to ensure soemthing like this does not happen again.”

We first reported Instagram was building a GIPHY integration back in January before it launched a week later, with Snapchat adding a similar feature in February. But it wasn’t long before things went wrong. First spotted by a user in the U.K. around March 8th, the GIF included a racial slur. We’ve shared a censored version of the image below, but warning, it still includes graphic content that may be offensive to some users.

When asked, Snapchat told TechCrunch ““We have removed GIPHY from our application until we can be assured that this will never happen again.” Instagram wasn’t aware that the racist GIF was available in its GIPHY integration until informed by TechCrunch, leading to a shut down of the feature within an hour. An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch “This type of content has no place on Instagram.” After 12 hours of silence, GIPHY responded the next morning, telling us “After investigation of the incident, this sticker was available due to a bug in our content moderation filters specifically affecting GIF stickers.”

The fiasco highlights the risks of major platforms working with third-party developers to brings outside and crowdsourced content into their apps. Snapchat historically resisted working with established developers, but recently has struck more partnerships particularly around augmented reality lenses and marketing service providers. While it’s an easy way to provide more entertainment and creative expression tools, developer integrations also force companies to rely on the quality and safety of things they don’t fully control. As Instagram and Snapchat race for users around the world, they’ll have to weigh the risks and rewards of letting developers into their gardens.

GIPHY’s full statement is below.

CHANGES TO GIPHY’S STICKER MODERATION
Before we get into the details, we wanted to take a moment and sincerely apologize for the
deeply offensive sticker discovered by a user on March 8, 2018. To anyone who was affected:
we’re sorry. We take full responsibility for this recent event and under no circumstances does
GIPHY condone or support this kind of content.
The content was immediately removed and after investigation a bug was found in our content
moderation filters affecting stickers. This bug was immediately fixed and all stickers were re-
moderated.
We have also finished a full investigation into our content moderation systems and processes
and have made specific changes to our process to ensure something like this does not happen
again.

THE CHANGES
After fixing the bug in our content moderation filters and confirming that the sticker was
successfully detected, we re-moderated our entire sticker library 4x.
We have also added another level of GIPHY moderation before each sticker is approved into
the library. This is now a permanent addition to our moderation process.
We hope this will ensure that GIPHY stickers will always be fun and safe no matter where you
see them.

THE FUTURE AND BEYOND
GIFs and Stickers are supposed to make the Internet a better, more entertaining place.
GIPHY is committed to making sure that’s always the case. As GIPHY continues to grow, we’re
going to continue looking for ways to improve our user experience. Please let us know how we
can help at: support@giphy.com.
Team Giphy.

 

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Tapas Media aims to turn digital comics into the next big entertainment franchise

Tapas Media aims to turn digital comics into the next big entertainment franchise

Tapas Media has its own platform for digital comics — but like a lot of publishers, CEO Chang Kim has ambitions beyond the comics world.

Comixology is the big name in digital comics. The company, which was acquired by Amazon in 2014, is focused on selling print comics from major publishers in web- and mobile-friendly formats. (It’s also working with publishers like Marvel to create exclusively digital content.)

That’s a very different approach from Tapas, which Kim compared to YouTube — it allows individual creators to publish their work and (hopefully) reach an audience. And unlike the superhero-dominated world of American comics, the most popular titles on Tapas seem to be more romance and fantasy themed, and are usually drawn in a style that’s closer to Japanese manga.

Tapas was founded in 2013, and it now says the platform has more than 32,000 creators who have created more than 48,000 titles. And it’s reaching an audience of 2.1 million monthly visitors.

The comics themselves are monetized through micropayments. Usually, the first few chapters of a title are free, then you have to pay to keep going.

Chang said his team is also working with some of the most popular creators on the platform to develop new intellectual property, which could be translated into movies or TV or other media. Eventually, he said he’s hoping that Tapas could launch the next Harry Potter.

Dungeon Construction Co game

That level of success is a long way off, but Tapas is already exploring ways to adapt its IP. For example, it’s announcing a partnership with Red Kraken Apps to develop a mobile puzzle game based on its Dungeon Construction Co. comic.

In addition, the company has partnered with Hachette Book Group and Ten Speed Press on titles, and it’s signed distribution deals with Tencent and Kakao.

Tapas announced earlier this month that it has raised $5 million in additional Series A funding. (The company has raised $10.8 million total.) Now it’s revealing more details about the round, which comes from ID Ventures, SBI Investment Korea, Medici Investment and EN Investment. Sean Park of ID Ventures is joining the board of directors.

“ID Ventures invested in Tapas Media because we believe in the impact their platform has on the digital and mobile publishing industries,” Park said in a statement. “Their remarkable extension into licensed content and co-development will see their continued dominance, as ID Ventures’ investment looks to help Tapas Media capitalize on their platform’s adoption and innovation as well.”

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

MoviePass CEO proudly says the app tracks your location before and after movies

MoviePass CEO proudly says the app tracks your location before and after movies
 Everyone knew the MoviePass deal is too good to be true — and as is so often the case these days, it turns out you’re not the customer, you’re the product. And in this case they’re not even attempting to camouflage that. Mitch Lowe, the company’s CEO, told an audience at a Hollywood event that “we know all about you.” Read More

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Facebook swings at Twitter with Breaking News label

Facebook swings at Twitter with Breaking News label
 Facebook’s algorithm is terrible at surfacing breaking news, often showing urgent posts hours or even days later when more facts have since emerged or the story has changed. This has made Twitter the default home for this content, but that position has weakened since Twitter implemented its own relevancy algorithm that brings up old tweets. Facebook isn’t ready to make any changes… Read More

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Going public pits Spotify’s suggestions against everyone

Going public pits Spotify’s suggestions against everyone
 The secret to Spotify’s public market debut is actually an acquisition it made in 2014. The Echo Nest was powering music recommendations for Beats Music, Rdio, Vevo and iHeartRadio before Spotify pulled it out from under them by buying it for a reported $100 million — 90 percent in Spotify equity. That deal paid off big time. Read More

Source: Mobile – Techcruch