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Apple’s proposal could transform how streaming services pay songwriters and music publishers … but beware the fine print

Recode reports “There is plenty of evidence that on-demand streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music are disrupting the way people listen to music. Between them, the two companies have almost 50 million paying subscribers and are generating annual revenue in the billions.

As streaming grows, much attention is being paid to the problems between Spotify and recording artists. Whether it’s the arguments about “windowing” made by Adele and Taylor Swift, or complaints by artists like Radiohead about record labels not compensating artists for streaming, they get a lot of press.

While these are important issues, there is one troubling fact that gets lost in the shuffle: Songwriters have yet to benefit in any significant way from streaming. If we don’t change the current system for paying them, there’s a chance they never will.”

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Political conventions are proving grounds for VR

Digiday reports “Live video might be all the rage during this year’s presidential conventions, but a few publishers are taking it a step further by producing virtual reality and 360-degree videos from the events.

During the Republican National Convention last week, ABC News, CNN and The Huffington Post were among the news outlets that published VR and 360-degree videos to give viewers a more immersive snapshot of what was happening on the ground in Cleveland. All three publishers plan to produce more VR and 360-degree video pieces for the Democratic National Convention this week in Philadelphia. (YouTube, meanwhile, is live streaming both conventions in 360 degrees.)”

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Africa Tops 500m Mobile Users, Adds $150bn To Continent’s Economy

Forbes reports “Africa now has half a billion mobile users, and the mobile ecosystem added $153-billion to the African economy in 2015, according to a new GSMA study, which predicts smartphone numbers will triple in the next five years.

“’At the end of 2015, 46% of the population in Africa subscribed to mobile services, equivalent to more than half a billion people,” according to The Mobile Economy: Africa 2016 report. There were 557-million unique mobile subscribers on the continent, which is the world’s second highest market, but also the least penetrated. “The region’s three dominant markets – Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa – together accounted for around a third of the region’s total subscriber base.’”

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Virtual Reality Waits for the Music Industry to Catch Up

The New York Times reports “Virtual reality allows some artists to explore the intersection of art and technology. “Björk Digital,” an exhibition of video works with virtual reality elements, including footage filmed inside Björk’s mouth as she sings, will open at Somerset House in London this September. Last year the experimental rocker EMA performed a score to a new virtual reality installation, “I Wanna Destroy,” at MoMA PS1 in New York.

Only a few acts have delivered live concerts in virtual reality. Coldplay recorded a show in virtual reality in 2014, and the start-up JauntVR has released several concert clips, including Paul McCartney singing “Live and Let Die.” Absolut Labs streamed a concert by the Canadian electronic act Bob Moses in virtual reality last year.”

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Verizon Q2 misses on declining sales of $30.5B, beats with EPS of $0.94

TechCrunch reports “Verizon yesterday announced a landmark deal to purchase Yahoo’s core business for $4.83 billion, but judging from its just-released second quarter earnings report, the telecom giant continues to feel the pressure of declines in its legacy business.

The Q2 report shows total operating revenue of $30.5 billion and earnings per share of 94 cents. That’s a miss on revenue, but a slight win on earnings/profitability — Wall Street analysts had predicted that the company (which owns TechCrunch) would report revenue of $30.9 billion and EPS of 92 cents.”

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Nintendo’s mysterious NX is reportedly a portable console that connects to your TV

The Verge reports “The picture around Nintendo’s next major piece of hardware is getting a little clearer: a new report from Eurogamer provides a number of new details on what the NX might look like. According to the report, the NX will primarily be a portable device with its own built-in screen, but it will also feature a somewhat radical design in the form of controllers that can detach from the device. You can then use those controllers to play games on your TV using a docking station that connects to your living room display.”

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NBCUniversal-DreamWorks, Lionsgate-Starz Deals Make For Multi-Year High In Hollywood M&A

Forbes reports “As AMC Theatres ups its bid for Carmike Cinemas to $1.2 billion, investors would be forgiven for expressing a little merger fatigue. It is the most recent billion-dollar-plus deal in seven months that see 2016 shaping up to be one of the most valuable merger and acquisition years in recent entertainment history.

China real estate and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group kicked off the big deal year in January, announcing its $3.5 billion purchase of co-financing and production unit Legendary Entertainment. The hefty pricetag put it close to Disney’s $4 billion acquisitions of Marvel and Lucasfilm and made many look twice”

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T-Mobile adds Apple Music and over a dozen video services to its free streaming program Binge On

TechCrunch reports “T-Mobile again expanded its free streaming program Binge On this morning, with the addition of Apple Music and fifteen other providers, including video services like ABC, Fox Now, FXNOW, Disney Channel, Disney Jr., Disney XD, NAT GEO TV, DISH Anywhere, and others. This brings the total number of video providers now participating in Binge On to over 100 since the service’s launch just eight months ago, notes the company.

Binge On, which is part of T-Mobile’s “UnCarrier” marketing campaign, lets customers stream music and video without tapping into their mobile data. To date, T-Mobile customers have streamed over 765 million hours of video data-free, which the carrier says contributes to longer watch times, more frequent viewing, and, for participating providers, the ability to sell more subscriptions.”

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EU Accepts Paramount Concessions in Antitrust Probe of Studios’ European Pay TV Deals

The Hollywood Reporter reports “An antitrust settlement between Viacom’s Paramount Pictures and the European Union has been finalized as the EU has formally accepted the studio’s concessions proposed earlier in the year. The EU and the company announced the agreement on Tuesday.

The studio had offered concessions in the high-profile probe of geographical restrictions in film licensing deals between the British arm of European pay TV giant Sky and the six Hollywood studios. Film industry representatives in Germany and Italy, among others, had criticized the concessions.”

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A Florida judge has ruled that Bitcoin isn’t money

TechCrunch reports “Ever since it moved into the mainstream Bitcoin has had a bit of an identity crisis.

Mainly because no one is really sure whether it should be considered money or property. The IRS says it’s property for tax purposes, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission says it’s a commodity, and most Bitcoin advocates like to say it’s the world’s most advanced currency.

However, today one Florida judge ruled it was property, strengthening that argument and potentially setting precedent in future Bitcoin-related court cases.”

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Mobile game publisher Scopely raises $55 million to drive global expansion

VentureBeat reports “Scopely, the publisher of mobile games like Yahtzee and The Walking Dead: Road to Survival, has raised $55 million in a new round of funding led by Greycroft Growth Fund.

The money will help the company expand aggressively in the $36 billion global mobile game market as the forces of consolidation make it tougher for smaller companies to survive. Over the past 18 months, Scopely has grown its revenues more than 550 percent, said Walter Driver, CEO and co-founder at Scopely”

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Fullscreen’s Rooster Teeth Hires Trio of Content Execs for Subscription VOD Push

Variety reports “Rooster Teeth, the fantasty/sci-fi media and entertainment division of Fullscreen, announced three additions to its leadership team: Luis Medina as senior VP of partnerships, Evan Bregman as director of programming and Ryan P. Hall as head of development.

The hires come as the Austin, Texas-based company has high hopes for its newly rebranded subscription VOD service First, priced at $5 per month. Rooster Teeth has expanded the programming mix to reach a more mainstream audience, and also is doubling down on hardcore fans with “First Double Gold,” a $34.99 monthly package with added benefits like VIP access to events and a monthly merch mailing.”