Universal pressures Spotify to restrict ad-driven ‘free’ music service

The world’s largest music conglomerate, Universal, is trying to pressure Spotify to limit advertising-paid on-demand music streaming — despite the fact that Spotify is the most successful streaming company at signing subscribers and counts its fee-less ad-driven tier as an important pathway to later subscription.

Is Universal, perhaps quite reasonably, concerned with Spot’s relatively low per-stream rate (vis a vis other providers like Google All Access, Rdio, Beats, et al) or are they more concerned that increased ‘free’ discovery benefits smaller artists not on promo-rich labels like the Universal stable of labels — undercutting the huge promotional outlays it takes to get music lovers to listen to the ‘hits’ picked by Universal A&R?

Spotify originally limited their ad-driven ‘free’ tier with a 10 hour/month overall limit and a maximum of 5 streams of any specific song but later relaxed that, apparently trying to lure in more stream-skeptics. Restrictions remained in some markets but in the US and a few others, they were largely dropped.

No one’s asking me (really, they aren’t), but I can’t help but feel the free, ad-driven tier of Spotify is an excellent resource — EVEN though I subscribe to another service I find superior (Google All Access) — because it allows one to ‘share’ the discovery of music with others who may not have a subscription service.

But that function would remain largely intact if Spot were to return to something like their earlier free-tier restrictions, it seems to me.

One thing certain elements in the music industry are edgy about: the 10 dollars or so a month that Spot, Google, Beats, et al, charge for their subscription services is roughly TWICE what average consumers spend on music a month.

The Independent: Spotify reportedly under pressure from music labels to limit free streaming

Spotify will not go to Russia…

Spotify began making formal arrangements to launch its subscription and ad-driven streaming music services in Russia back in January of 2014, expecting to be open for business in October. But Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine, which has sparked a conflict resulting in thousands of deaths and has been met with steep economic sanctions from western democracies (in lieu of direct military action), has plunged Russia into economic near-chaos and prompted strongman leader Vladimir Putin to clamp down ever farther on Russian civil liberties and Internet freedoms. Putin, himself, calls the Internet a CIA plot and has enacted laws attempting to assure the Russian security apparatus’ continuing access to social media use by Russians.

UK’s Independent:  Spotify cancels launch in Russia for the ‘foreseeable future’

MOG is (almost) dead… Long live MOG!

OK… the day I looked forward to with a mix of anxiety and hope came and passed less than three weeks ago, on Tuesday, January 21.MOG-as-we-knew-it

That was the day that Beats Electronics, the folks who make the (some say) overpriced, blinged out, glow-in-the-dark Beats by Dre headphones and who bought my once-beloved MOG all-320 kbps streaming music service back in mid-2012, dropped their new US-based online streaming subscription service, Beats Music.

Beats Music has a garish, flashily animated user interface on the mobile app — where the company has clearly put almost all their efforts — the web browser version is equally garish — but pretty much limited to play. They ended up producing a crippled, barely Beats-Loginusable Android mobile app that still somehow seems to impress some users new to streaming — but painfully few existing MOG subscribers, many of whom seem to hate the new interface’s stunning lack of features or basic player controls.

This will be the first of a series of posts here looking at the MOG/Beats situation and following the final days of MOG — and taking a good look at the dark horse service I’ll be switching mounts for, the amazingly awkwardly named, dorky-looking but very full-featured Google Play Music All Access.

In subsequent posts,  I’ll explore the many features of the Google Play Music player — the free online player (with free online storage for you own private music locker) that hosts the $10/month All Access on-demand music streaming service component.

Some of you anxie MOGgers will likely want to cut to the chase and check out GPMAA (GAA?) Brace yourself, the G-folks’ idea of visual cool is as stunningly dorky as Beats Music is stunningly lacking features. But I’ve got a fix for that…

GooglePlayMusic-Native-cr

Google Play Music… BEFORE

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GPM AFTER applying my new Stylebot restyle, Gray Flannel Cool

If you have Google Play Music and use Google’s Chrome browser, you might want to try my free Gray Flannel Cool G-player restyle.

It only takes a few seconds to install it and the free Stylebot extension for Chrome. Here’s all you need to know. If you already have Stylebot, click here.

Heck, maybe you’ll even find yourself wanting to restyle GPM with a MOG look. There are already a couple of styles at the Stylebot Social site that are 80-90% of the way there.

Customizing a style is probably considerably easier if you know some web coding, but their right-click-menu driven system makes some stuff fairly simple — but it can definitely get tricky — I found myself just writing the CSS style code myself and using Stylebot to apply it to the site in the background when I visit.

READ about my original love affair with MOG here.

UPDATE 2014-02-16: A recent update to Google Play Music All Access extends the ability to ‘pin’ (download) an All Access track, album, or playlist to one of your authorized mobile devices’ SD Card. Previously, it could only store All Access tracks to the typically limited internal (built-in) phone/mobile storage,  not your phone or tablets SD or microSD add-in storage.

(Of course, that doesn’t help me with my Google Nexus 7 tablet which came with an increasingly tiny seeming fixed storage [16 GB — but that means everything, the OS, all apps, all movies, movies, books, etc, has to fit in side that fixed amount]. But it’s ACES for my cheapo LG phone which isn’t much of a hotrod — except for the 32 GB of storage I added to it. It was killing me thinking I couldn’t temporarily DL All Access music to it as I’d been able to do with MOG. But now that’s fixed. Thank you, Google! But, all the same, quit making devices with soldered in RAM and batteries, huh? Don’t be evil.)