Apple Mulls Podcast Subscription Push Amid Spotify’s Land Grab


Now, however, Apple’s position as the top platform for podcast listening is being threatened as the company faces heated competition from tech and media giants including Spotify, Amazon and SiriusXM. In the years since it first added podcast support, Apple also has placed an emphasis on its growing services business, through which it already offers subscription products for music, television, video games and fitness videos.

But Apple will have to proceed carefully as it explores introducing subscriptions to podcasting, a business that has long been funded largely through advertising sales. Many longtime podcasters are vocal supporters of keeping the medium free and widely accessible, and listeners have yet to show a strong appetite for paid podcast services like two-year-old startup Luminary. Even Spotify, which has a robust music subscription business with 144 million members, has refrained from putting any of its podcasts behind a paywall. And analysts at Citi recently questioned whether Spotify’s podcast investment can pay off, noting Jan. 15 that the company’s cadence of Premium subscriber additions and download data “do not show any material benefit.”

Ives says Apple might have an easier time selling a podcast subscription if it offers a curated selection of exclusive and original shows from in-demand talent, much like it does for video programming with Apple TV+, which launched in 2019 with drama The Morning Show starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Apple has released a handful of in-house podcasts and discussed making podcasts that serve as companions to its original TV shows, sources say, but it has yet to go after high-profile projects or talent the way Spotify has. Last fall, Spotify paid handsomely to bring The Joe Rogan Experience, regularly the No. 1 show on the Apple Podcasts chart, exclusively to its platform.

Apple currently bolsters Apple TV+ sign-ups by offering a free subscription to people who buy new devices. It also encourages people to pay for multiple Apple subscriptions by offering discounted Apple One bundles. LightShed’s media analysts recently wrote that they “believe Apple can be successful” with a subscription podcast product if it leverages its new bundles with its “leadership position in podcasting.”

Membership platform Patreon has shown that podcast subscriptions can work on an individual level, with fans paying for exclusive or ad-free content from their favorite personalities. Apple could employ a similar feature, in which it allows people to pay à la carte to listen to shows without the advertising. But in order to entice podcast partners, Apple’s deals would need to cover any lost advertising revenue.

“It’s not like this is a layup,” Ives says, “but given how aggressive Spotify in particular is going after this market, they have to do something.”

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.



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Listen to Smino’s New Song “MLK Dr”


Smino has shared a new song titled “MLK Dr” in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In the animated video, the St. Louis rapper assists an extraterrestrial version of Dr. King with a flat tire and the pair share a joint before driving down Martin Luther King Blvd. Watch the visual, which is creatively directed by Brick and Smino and features animation by Oliver Fredericksen, below.

Last year, Smino appeared on a remix of Thundercat’s track “Dragonball Durag” and teamed up with J.I.D and Kenny Beats for a song called “Baguetti.”





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Garth Brooks joins Joe Biden’s inauguration party – Music News



Country superstar Garth Brooks has been added to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration party on Wednesday.

The singer will join Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez at the bash.

“This is a great day in our household,” Brooks told fans via Zoom on Monday. “This is not a political statement. This is a statement of unity.

“I’m so tired of being divided.”

Brooks also performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2008, when Biden was sworn in as Vice-President.

“There’s a common theme in every presidential election,” Brooks said. “New beginnings. New starts. We’re all together in this one, but truly I think the word unity, the word love, the word that we belong to each other. … We can’t just take extreme left and extreme right, because there’s a silent majority in the middle. It’s going to dwarf both of those.”

He was invited to perform during President Trump’s 2016 inauguration, but the event clashed with a tour date.

Brooks’ latest gig comes days after it was confirmed he will receive a Kennedy Center Honor during the 43rd annual ceremony in May. Joan Baez and Dick Van Dyke are also among the honourees at the 43rd annual celebration.



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CD Reviews – Leviathan Therion


(Nuclear Blast)

01. The Leaf On The Oak Of Far

02. Tuonela

03. Leviathan

04. Die Wellen der Zeit

05. Aži Dahãka

06. Eye Of Algol

07. Nocturnal Light

08. Great Marquis Of Hell

09. Psalm Of Retribution

10. El Primer Sol

11. Ten Courts Of Diyu

Three years ago, THERION released one the most insanely ambitious albums in metal history. Three hours in length, “Beloved Antichrist” was a heroically indulgent symphonic rock opera, even by the Swedish band’s already exacting standards. What it definitely wasn’t was remotely accessible, at least to all but the most devout and obsessive of fans. Doubtless many regard it as creative driving-force Christofer Johnsson‘s masterpiece, while plenty more will have abandoned the album before the halfway mark. It was, it hardly needs saying, something that delighted diehards and daunted everyone else.

Fortunately, THERION have changed and evolved so many times since forming as an aspiring death metal band back in the early ’90s that Johnsson has long since freed himself from any and all expectations. As a result, “Leviathan” could easily be viewed as a somewhat self-conscious return to more straightforward and vigorous symphonic metal, broadly akin to what the band were doing back on “Sita Ahra” a decade ago but with a greater emphasis on a classic metal sound. Equally, this could be perceived as simply the next step along the road for a genuinely unique band. The motivation is unclear, perhaps because THERION have never lost the mystique or singularity that made earlier albums like “Lepaca Kliffoth” and “Theli” so distinctive and influential, and so the only course of action is to go with the flow and enjoy what are some of the snappiest THERION tunes in a long time.

Kicking off with an ultra-traditional metal riff, opener “The Leaf On The Oak Of Far” immediately slams down the gauntlet to symphonic all-comers. Done and dusted in under four minutes, it’s a refreshingly simple statement of intent, albeit one with multi-layered vocals and enough underlying pomp and power to crack a mountain. Similarly, “Tuonela” is grandiose enough for any fan of “Beloved Antichrist”, but it’s also a beautifully succinct heavy metal song, with flashes of folksy melody and a chorus large enough to block the path of a longboat.

The sheer power and control that vocalists Thomas Vikström and Lori Lewis display throughout this record deserve some kind of trophy. Because while it’s undeniable that this kind of operatic, theatrical metal is never going to hit the spot for everyone, THERION‘s self-evident mastery of the form remains a spectacle in itself. As the album progresses, through many more shrewdly economical but fervently over-the-top tall tales, it’s hard to ignore the fact that this is much more entertaining and, whisper it, fun than the occasionally turgid meanderings of its predecessor. Of course, having redefined themselves many times before, THERION may well be doing something completely different again next time. But while they have your attention, “Leviathan” is a great, if unashamedly over-egged, heavy metal record.

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Viral ‘Dreams’ skateboarder Nathan Apodaca to appear in virtual Biden inauguration


Nathan Apodaca, aka @420doggface208, will appear as part of Joe Biden‘s virtual Inauguration Day celebrations this Wednesday (January 20).

TMZ reports that Biden’s inauguration team recently reached out to the online sensation, who achieved viral fame last year with a TikTok video in which he skateboarded down a road to Fleetwood Mac‘s hit ‘Dreams’ while drinking from a bottle of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice.

Biden’s team were reportedly inspired to contact Apodaca after seeing “how his feel-good video uplifted the world this past fall during social unrest and pandemic anxiety”. His agent has since confirmed that Apodaca agreed to be a part of the virtual ‘Parade Across America’ livestream, and has already filmed a segment in which he skateboards from his home in Idaho.

Since Apodaca first posted the clip in September of last year, it’s racked up tens of millions of views on the platform, with streams of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ hit seeing a significant spike as the video’s popularity grew.

Band members Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood filmed their own versions, along with ex-guitarist Lindsey Buckingham.

Shortly after sharing his remake, Fleetwood surprised Apodaca in an interview with the BBC. “We owe you,” the drummer told Apodaca during the broadcast. “It’s such a celebration of everything. I’ve heard you talking about it, and it’s so joyous and fun”.

Meanwhile, it was recently revealed that long-defunct 90s rockers New Radicals would be reuniting to perform together for the first time in over two decades as part of the ‘Parade Across America’ broadcast, which is set to take place after the swearing-in ceremony at Captiol.

Bruce SpringsteenLady GagaJustin Timberlake and Foo Fighters are among other acts set to perform at various inauguration events on the day.





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Stampede at AC/DC Concert Leaves Three Fans Dead


On Jan. 18, 1991 tragedy struck during an AC/DC concert in Salt Lake City.

The band had barely launched into its opening song – “Thunderstruck,” the hit single from 1990’s The Razor’s Edge – when a sea of fans rushed towards the stage. The venue, the Salt Palace, had booked the show as a general admission event with no assigned seating. More than 13,000 people were in attendance that night, and the free-for-all for premium spots led to a mad dash for the front row. The stampede quickly got out of control with bodies crushed against one another.

“I was telling the security guard for AC/DC to shut off the music, to turn off the lights, people are hurting, people are screaming,” venue security guard Scott Carter recalled to MTV the day after the concert. “All I can remember is feeling helpless because I was being ignored. Nothing was being done.”

Indeed, even as the mayhem in the crowd was unfolding, the band initially played on. Exactly how long the group continued performing was a subject of debate – some said 15 minutes, while others estimated it was more like 45. Three teens died as a result of injuries sustained during the chaos – one that night, two in the hospital days later.

“Terrible night. I’ll never forget it for as long as I live,” recalled Brian Johnson years afterward on Behind the Music, insisting he and the rest of AC/DC had no idea the magnitude of what was going on in the audience. “I was shattered,” the singer remembered of the moment word finally reached the band. “Angus was beside himself. I could see he was welling up. Mal was trying to hold it together as best he could.”

At the recommendation of authorities, who feared a cancellation could result in rioting, AC/DC finished their show following a 15 minute pause. Beyond their own struggles to comprehend what had happened, the band was infuriated by how the tragedy was reported in the news.

“I think what hurt most was, the next day in the newspapers they were saying ‘band played on while kids died about them’ and they had a photograph of me with a smile on me face,” Johnson recalled. “It was just journalistic opportunity that went beyond the bounds of decency. I was so angry and hurt.”

The parents of the victims – 19 year-old Elizabeth Glausi and 14 year-olds Curtis Child and Jimmie Boyd – would sue AC/DC and Salt Lake County for their involvement in the deaths. Additional suits would come from survivors who experienced injuries and trauma during the ordeal. All cases were eventually settled out of court.

The tragedy stuck with the band for years afterward. Malcolm Young was reportedly so distressed by the disaster that he refused to ever discuss it.

As a result of the death’s at AC/DC’s performance – as well as the similar tragedy during a concert by the Who more than 10 years prior – many venues either completely got rid of general admission shows, or adopted strict security guidelines to ensure fan safety.

 





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Pearl Jam Send Cease and Desist to Tribute Act Pearl Jamm


Pearl Jam have reportedly sent a cease and desist to tribute band Pearl Jamm, demanding the cover act destroy merchandise with the Pearl Jamm name and hand over email addresses and web domains associated with the band.

The story was recently covered by BBC News, who interviewed the British Pearl Jam tribute band for television. According to the legal paperwork sent on behalf of Pearl Jam, the tribute band’s name is “damaging the Pearl Jam brand and causing confusion” among fans.

“No one’s ever come to a show, got to the end of the show, came to us and demanded money back because they were expecting to see Pearl Jam play The Garage in Highbury,” one band member tells BBC.

Brand value is very important for musicians and artists and bands because they trade on that in order to sell music,” a legal correspondent for the BBC states. “From a tribute band point of view, it’s important to use a name that’s not too close to that of the original band. It’s important not to use logos that are identical to those used by the original band.”

In a statement following the broadcast of the BBC story, Pearl Jamm released an emotional letter to their favorite band:

To Eddie, Jeff, Stone, Mike, Matt, Boom; to Pearl Jam, you have broken our hearts.
You have known of our tribute band for years yet have waited until a global pandemic to have threatening legal letters sent. This isn’t the Pearl Jam we know and love, the Pearl Jam that stands up for social issues and against corporate giants. Yet your lawyers tell us it is indeed you, the band, that are behind this.
We know how Matt Cameron felt about his heroes, Kiss, when they took umbrage to his own tribute band ‘kiss’ (lower case). No one has ever confused us or our merchandise with you or your merchandise, and so to say that is “likely” is clearly nonsense. We have not caused you or your brand any damage whatsoever, in fact we have done quite the opposite.
Such was the pressure exerted by the aggressive wording of the legal letters we received, we have questioned whether we even want to continue. We know of at least one other tribute band that decided to call it a day over this. It may have been easier, cheaper and more effective for one of you to reach out to us personally. We would have done that for you. But not like this.
Your actions are out of character and unreasonable yet our love for the music endures. We sincerely hope that, despite confirmation to the contrary, you are blissfully unaware of actions being taken in your name. We invite you to respond either publicly or privately and rescind the legal threats that have been made.
We would like to thank our own fans who have shown us overwhelming support since this story broke and who have voiced equal disappointment in the actions of Pearl Jam
With love,
Santi, Richard, Matt, Tim & Andy (‘Pearl Jamm’)

We’ve reached out to Pearl Jam’s reps for comment, but they have yet to respond. This is a developing story.

Top 90 Hard Rock + Metal Albums of the 1990s





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Spanish Acts Get a Moment at Inaugural Events


“With the help of artists like Alejandro Fernández and Maná, we are commemorating the rich diversity in our country, and ensuring that Spanish-dominant households are able to see themselves reflected in the inaugural activities,” said PIC communications director Pili Tobar in a press release.

“More than political, the voice and power of Maná is about humanity,” said Olvera, who has a long history of supporting voter registration and migrant rights. “Today we thank everyone who voted for a better environment, for justice for migrants in the United States, and the well-being of the entire planet.”

The highlight was Fernández’s mariachi performance from his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, accompanied by his live band.
Earlier, Puerto Rican Chesca performed a bilingual version of “The Change (El Cambio),” written by Diane Warren, and with Warren at the piano.



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Alicia Keys, Summer Walker, Quavo, Offset, More Ask Biden for Racial Justice Commission


Seventeen artists including Alicia Keys, Summer Walker, Quavo, Offset, and more have filmed a campaign video calling for the launch of a U.S. Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation within the first 100 days of the Biden/Harris administration. The video, “17 More Ways You Could Be Killed If You Are Black in America,” calls attention to some of the lives lost to systemic racism over the past four years. It features contributions from Khalid, Asian Doll, 070 Shake, A$AP Ferg, Vic Mensa, Mary J Blige, T.I., and Rapsody. 

The video is a follow-up to Keys and Leigh Blake’s 2016 clip “23 Ways You Could Be Killed If You Are Black In America.” Stevie Wonder also voiced his support for the commission today in an emotional video tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. on Twitter. Check out all of those videos below.

The campaign, led by the #breathewithme Revolution and the Black Music Action Coalition, advocates for the incoming administration to document, address, and archive the United States’ history of slavery and racism. Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and in the Senate by Senator Cory Booker. 





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Snoop Dogg: ‘Eminem diss is family business’ – Music News



Snoop Dogg is refusing to speak ill of Eminem in public following the Stan star’s recent diss song, insisting it’s “family business”.

The old friends hit headlines last month when Eminem dropped his reissued album, Music to Be Murdered By, and included new track Zeus, which called out Snoop for apparently disrespecting him.

The lines in question read: “As far as squashin’ beef, I’m used to people knockin’ me/But, just not in my camp/I’m diplomatic ’cause I’m tryna be/Last thing I need is Snoop doggin’ me/Man, dog, you was like a d**n god to me/Man, not really/I had ‘dog’ backwards.”

Eminem didn’t explain the reason behind the lyrical jab, but many suspected it was related to his omission from Snoop’s top 10 list of best rappers of all time, with the Gin and Juice hitmaker suggesting Eminem owed his success to his affiliation with mutual friend and collaborator Dr Dre.

Snoop recently brushed off the apparent fall out, claiming they’re “good”, and in an appearance on America’s Watch What Happens Live talk show, he made it clear he still respects Eminem, indicating they will hash out any differences privately.

“We’re still friends,” the rap veteran insisted, adding: “I think that’s family business and I don’t wanna make it more than it is. He said what he said, I respect that, and we just gon’ keep it right there (sic).”



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