Spotify CEO Claims Music Sales Boost

Although not everyone is crazy about the streaming Spotify service – Taylor Swift’s public departure from it is certainly hard to ignore – CEO Daniel Ek couldn’t help but explain that it isn’t about profiting from piracy, but paying for good services for the site.

Ek recently posted on the Spotify blog page, explaining that the company has given $2 billion to artists since its debut on the scene back in 2008. In fact, in the last year alone, half of that – $1 billion – was given to artists.

Currently, the ratio for paying artists for their work on the site averages out around 70 percent of overall revenue, according to Adweek. Considering that the company’s sales were $1.43 billion over the last year, that’s quite a bit of change.

The global music marketplace has managed to build $15 billion in business overall, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which is a drop from the previous year’s $16.5 billion. Regardless, it’s still big business, and Spotify plays a huge part, as Ek has claimed that the company has paid $1 for every $15 spent in that department in the last year – estimating to nearly seven percent of all global music sales.

Streaming music services also calculated to 39 percent of the industry overall, or an estimated $5.9 billion, according to the IFPI. Paired with Ek’s statements in the blog, this estimated a 17 percent share of the overall digital streaming market.

Said Ek on the blog, “We’re trying to build a new music economy that works for artists in a way the music industry never has before. And it is working – Spotify is the single biggest driver of growth in the music industry, the number one source of increasing revenue, and the first or second biggest source of overall music revenue in many places. Those are facts. But there are at least three big misconceptions out there about how we work, how much we pay, and what we mean for the future of music and the artists who create it.”

Meanwhile, as far as Swift goes, Ek shows no hard feelings, and even praised the female singer for her album sales for 1989, which cleared 1.2 million copies in the first week. “We hope she sells a lot more because she’s an exceptional artist producing great music,” he explained. “In the old days, multiple artists sold multiple millions every year. That just doesn’t happen any more; people’s listening habits have changed – and they’re not going to change back. You can’t look at Spotify in isolation – even though Taylor can pull her music off Spotify (where we license and pay for every song we’ve ever played), her songs are all over services and sites like YouTube and Soundcloud, where people can listen all they want for free.”

Now to see where the digital streaming music scene goes from here . . . and if Ms. Swift will join any of them for the ride.

Facebook Assures Marketers Data Is Safe

Concerns over security on Facebook have been a lingering issue for many users, and now it appears that some marketers have shown equal concerns as well, according to Adweek. However, the social site was quick to acknowledge that the companies’ data is certainly in good hands.

The company has met with several marketers over the past few weeks, in an effort to provide some comfort with the platform and the advertising it holds. This was mainly due to the launch of a new way for ads to be displayed, via technology that was considered helpful for the site.

In addition, Facebook also confirmed that the team would work to make such assurances even stronger with the next coming year, and introduction of even more technical advances on the advertising front. Working alongside a new server, named Atlas, as well as products featuring the work of Custom Audiences and other products, it will allow more specific marketing for these companies.

“We’re talking about good data hygiene in the context of Facebook and more generally across the ecosystem,” said Joe Sullivan, chief of security at Facebook.

Considering the rise of hacks and breaches in websites and certain security measures, some companies are still showing a little hesitance in the matter. However, they’re attempting to re-gather in the form of putting their departments into one pool, making it easier to create more secure ad approaches.

“Facebook is a leader in bringing the industry to think harder about data integrations and media,” said Jared Belsky, president of 360i. When it came to assuring the security of such data, he added, “There is a natural and pervasive fear about giving data over, but that’s fear, not reality.”

With these moves, Facebook wants to mature its advertising approach, attempting to get more companies (and specifically, marketers) comfortable with the process. Tim Campson, Facebook’s chief information officer, said this:  “Data isn’t valuable if you’re not using it.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this structure – and whatever security measures come with it – pans out over the coming year.

Taylor Swift Has Created The Music Video Of The Future With Her New App

Taylor Swift’s recent Spotify snub was huge news. The artist felt that Spotify wasn’t compensating artists enough for their work, which has Spotify reeling with a response that they were on track to pay her $6 million a year. After all, Spotify now controls 7 percent of music industry payouts, a huge portion when you consider other digital music platform competition.

With Swift’s newest release, it appears this was a carefully-timed public move away from the music service to drive Swift’s many, many fans to download and consume her content via her app. Swift clearly isn’t just showing bravado, she’s showing some true marketing genius and entertainment marketers best take notes.

Swift’s app isn’t just a place to consume her branded content, either. It might very well be a glimpse into the future of music videos and a reimagining of the platform. Music videos, what used to be the music industry’s marketing vehicle, now commanding value on their own by amassing huge audiences of their own. At any given moment, music videos are the most-watched content type on YouTube and Taylor Swift has a committed, massive audience who will follow where her content goes.

Partnering with American Express, Taylor Swift’s app is available on iOS and Android and turns her newest music video into a videogame-like experience where users can explore the music video in a deeper and more connective way. The video itself was directed by Joseph Kahn, with a camera that has 6 lenses to record with a full 360 degree experience. Using accelerometers built into smartphones, users can tilt their phones to see different angles of the video (the ceiling if they wanted to) and get a new experience each time, encouraging more and more views. Add to that Swift has hidden within the music video some 40 easter eggs, just like video games do.

“If I had streamed the new album, it’s impossible to try to speculate what would have happened,” said  Swift in an interview with Yahoo! Music. “But all I can say is that music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”

While we agree with Swift to that end, the music industry is undergoing some grand experiments at large as well, from rethinking distribution, like with Radiohead’s “pay what you want” method, opening themselves to downloads willy-nilly, to expanding the medium beyond just merely listening to music, but interacting with it as well.

CREATIVE: Nintendo’s Unique Team-Up With Mercedes

We’ve seen some interesting collaborations between video game companies and others over the years, but the latest teaming between Mercedes and Nintendo could easily take the cake.

The car manufacturer’s Japanese firm just released a series of new television spots that feature characters and scenarios from Nintendo’s racing opus Mario Kart 8, with real actors portraying such characters as Luigi and Princess Peach.

The commercials tie in with Mercedes’ new GLA 180 line, which is currently running at 3,440,000 yen ($30,000) as an asking price, according to Tech In Asia.

This marks the latest move between the two partners, as Mercedes sponsored Mario Kart 8 downloadable content earlier in the year with a trio of playable Mercedes models in the game (for a small fee, of course).

As for seeing these ads in other markets, it’s probably not likely, due to the caricatures with some of the characters (like big-nosed Mario) and the fact that Nintendo of America’s advertising is a little more specific to games, like with its recent ads for Super Smash Bros. That isn’t to say we won’t see any more Mercedes promotion in Mario Kart 8, however, especially considering that tomorrow marks the debut of a new downloadable content pack for the game, which features the arrival of Link from the Legend of Zelda series, along with new tracks and vehicles.

One interesting touch with the ads is that Mercedes went all out to replicate the Mario Circuit track featured in Mario Kart 8, complete with the twisting high road, part of an introduction to the game’s anti-gravity racing capabilities. Obviously, the GLA 180 can’t do that in real life, but it’s interesting to see the auto maker go all out in bringing the track to reality. 

Now, if we could just get angry Luigi to make an appearance.


CPL Founder Discusses His Return To eSports

Angel Munoz was an early eSports backer with the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) long before livestreaming helped propel professional video gaming into a global pastime. Munoz is the founder, president and CEO of Mass Luminosity, and the creative mind behind Gaming Tribe, a next-generation social media network for gamers and technology enthusiasts. Launched in March 2014, Gaming Tribe has an audience of nearly 250,000 gamers who are active PC gamers. With sponsors like AMD, Logitech G and XFX, the site gives away high-end PC gaming rigs and other tech as prizes on a regular basis. Munoz talks about the integration of eSports functionality across this platform in this exclusive interview.

Angel Munoz Mass LuminosityAngel Munoz

How did you get involved in eSports the first time around?

I became involved with eSports before it was called eSports, back then we referred to it only as professional gaming. My participation in the sport commenced with the launch of the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) in June 1997, which was the first professional league for computer gamers, and some think the initial propulsion of modern eSports.

How have you seen eSports grow since you sold Cyberathlete Professional League?

When we sold the CPL in 2010 and the new owners decided to move the league’s operation exclusively to China the sport went through a brief period of dormancy in the Western hemisphere, but with the launch of competitive titles likes DOTA, DOTA2, and League of Legends a new generation of competitive gamers emerged and the sport started its growth trajectory again.

Why did you decide to re-enter the eSports space?

Actually, I have no interest in entering the professional arena again, the sport seems well served by the big title events. What I believe is needed is a global amateur league, that can provide new teams with rankings, on-going competitions, strong community support and access to potential sponsors and fans.

How are you going to use the Gaming Tribe to target eSports fans?

Gaming Tribe’s tech-engine can be effectively adapted to schedule, monitor, support and rank online competitions, while also providing a starting base of 250,000 PC gamers and potential fans. We already have a number of companies supporting Gaming Tribe, who also happen to be actively supporting eSports — so this intersection of social media and competitive gaming seems both feasible and timely to us.

What do you feel differentiates your PC gaming audience from others out there?

The Gaming Tribe community is often referred to as the “best community of gamers in the world.”  I think some of the reasons for this is how we successfully integrated a rich social media experience with active interaction with the community.  Also our engagement numbers are through the roof and trump all of our other social media activities on the larger networks, by a factor of two to one.  This may be due to our gamification of the social media experience through leaderboards, earned badges, reward-action promotions and our proprietary Loot Drop giveaways.

What are your eSports plans?

Right now we are working on completing Phase II of Gaming Tribe RWD (Responsive Web Design), once we complete that process we have a couple of smaller projects to launch and then in early 2015 we will add the eSports feature to Gaming Tribe.  We already have on our staff the two primary programmers who helped develop the now inactive Cyberathlete Amateur League (CAL): Andrew Waterman and Andrew Slane.  That gives us a distinct advantage.  We are also chatting with other members of the community who wish to assist us with this new development.

What games will you focus on?

Our global amateur league will not have a specific focus and will be open to any competitive game the community wants to support.

How will you work with game publishers and established leagues?

If game publishers or leagues feel it’s of value to partner with us we are willing to discuss that when the time comes, but neither are necessary at this stage of our development.

What opportunities has livestreaming opened up for you when it comes to eSports tournaments and events?

Livestreaming will be incorporated into our platform, either through the Twitch API (which seems a bit undeveloped at this time) or our own solution.  We are fine with either path, but would love to see Twitch fix some of the glitches we have encountered in supporting their platform remotely.

What opportunities do you see for sponsors and brands through your eSports endeavors?

We think the reach and interactivity of our new platform will be very attractive to sponsors, and in fact our early discussion with our top corporate sponsors about this new initiative have elicited unanimous approval and high levels of excitement.

What role has social media and social networking played in connecting your audience with PC gaming brands?

Social media is a unique form of crowd-sourcing content in real-time, and its augmented by the close interaction of its participants. We know that young gamers are consuming traditional media at extremely low levels, so the opportunities for advertising are systematically vanishing. Therefore, social media, especially one focused on this core demographic, is truly the ideal environment to present brands and services in a fresh new way, not only to create new customers, but also to reinforce the loyalty of existing customers.


Funny Or Die Up For Sale, Even If It’s Not Looking To Sell

By Sahil Patel

Funny or Die might be on the block.

The comedy video site, founded by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Chris Henchy, has been approached by numerous potential buyers, according to Funny or Die’s president and CEO Dick Glover. “We’ve received unsolicited interest from a number of companies,” said Glover in a memo. “We are not trying to sell Funny or Die, but we thought it wise to engage some experts to help us evaluate the situation.”

Read more…

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

This Week’s [a]list Jobs – November 12th

[a]listdaily is now your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media. Check here every Wednesday for the latest openings.

Want to know what happens to your brain when you’re having a really brilliant idea Read up.

Here are this week’s [a]list jobs:

  • Universal Music Group – VP, Marketing (Hollywood, Calif.)
  • NBCUniversal – VP, Global Brand Marketing (Universal City, Calif.)
  • MTV – VP, Consumer Marketing (New York, New York)
  • Electronic Arts – Mobile Manager, Strategic Marketing (Los Angeles, Calif.)

For last week’s [a]list jobs, click here.

Creative Studio Aims for Core Games

The advance of technology has had sweeping effects on the game industry, opening up new markets and new opportunities for game publishers. The convergence of better tools and digital distribution has also opened up possibilities for companies in related industries to create and market games, using the skills and capabilities already in-house. One such company is Psyop Media Company, a “full-spectrum creative studio that delivers entertainment experiences across all mediums and formats” as it bills itself, recently announced the formation of Psyop Games, headed up by industry veteran Rocco Scandizzo. The company will make, produce and publish video games under Scandizzo’s leadership.

“We are storytellers and world builders and we want to leave our mark with memorable experiences,” said Mark Tobin, COO, Psyop Media Company. “Rocco’s knowledge of the games industry is an invaluable asset and he has quickly put together a team whose passion, experience and dynamic personality are the perfect ingredient to stir up the creative possibilities as Psyop takes a serious step into becoming a full spectrum creative studio that has a robust games arm.”

Rocco Scandizzo

Scandizzo brings more than 15 years of experience in the video game industry and marketing to the Psyop team. Prior to joining Psyop, Scandizzo worked for Creative Artists Agency (CAA), where he oversaw developer relations and business development. Before joining CAA in 2012, Scandizzo served as a Partner at ISM, an industry leader in video game developer management. Previously, he was Director of Franchise and License Development at Activision Blizzard, Director of Global Strategic Growth at Vivendi Games and also held positions with THQ Inc., and Atari, Inc.

“Great games come from a great team, where great creative and design are a key ingredient,” said Scandizzo. “That’s why I am super excited to join Psyop’s insanely talented group of people and to bring on board industry veteran’s to bolster our efforts as we dive into the game industry head first. I can’t wait to play in the creative sandbox at Psyop and explore rewarding alliances with talent all over the world.”

Psyop has also added some key game industry veterans with significant experience to round out the team. Matt Wilkinson joins Scandizzo as Head of Technology, with additional design and writing oversight provided by the crew of Sleep Deprivation Lab, led by Christian Cantamessa and Jeff Harkavy.

Wilkinson brings 25 years of experience to Psyop Games, after a decade-long tenure at Activision Blizzard and more than another decade across Climax, BAM, Acclaim, Psygnosis, and Rare. Cantamessa is a designer, writer and filmmaker known for his work as co-writer and lead designer of Red Dead Redemption. Since then he co-wrote and directed the cinematics for the critically acclaimed Shadow of Mordor. Most recently he co-wrote and directed his first feature film, AIR, starring Norman Reedus and Djimon Hounsou and produced by Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead. Harkavy is a writer-director-editor with a broad set of experiences ranging from directing commercials for the NBA and CBS News to editing feature films that garnered awards at the Berlin and Toronto film festivals. Most recently he has been a writer on AAA games like Ubisoft’s The Crew and Warner Bros.’ Shadow of Mordor.

The [a]listdaily spoke with Rocco Scandizzo about this new venture and his view of the state of the market.

[a]listdaily: Tell me about Psyop Media Company ““ why did you join them to begin a games division

Rocco Scandizzo: Psyop is a company that focuses on creative and CG, and it’s well known for things ““ in the games industry ““ all the ads for Clash of Clans or the Battlecry trailer at E3. They are setting up to get more into original IP. The creation of Psyop Games as a separate division is part of this movement to get into original IP, and seeing the game space as the future of interactive media.

If you look at the creative at Psyop, they have a very high quality bar. They have an innate ability to tell a story in a very small amount of time, with very compelling art. That’s something that I find is a transferable skill when you look at creating IP in the video game industry, especially if you’re going after the core consumer.

[a]listdaily: What type of games will Psyop Games create

Rocco Scandizzo: We’re in very early stages. The focus of what we want to do, and the core team we put together, is focused on core games. We want to create original IPs for the core gamer, and we want to focus on shorter experiences that have an emphasis on story and art, and are built around one strong core mechanic. We have two projects we’re working on right now that are in this realm.

It’s more of a philosophical answer than ‘these are specific projects and these are specific genres,’ but if I were to define the the genre I would expect most of our games would have a strong adventure-based connotation, where there’s a story to be told and choices to be made, but game play would change dramatically with the titles we work on.

[a]listdaily: What platforms will these games be on

Rocco Scandizzo: The approach would definitely be PC and digital first. We think it makes sense both with our core customer we’re targeting, and with the size of the games. The great freedom that has been given both to consumers and to developers is that now we don’t have to hit that critical mass of content that justify the game to be on shelves. We can create experiences that are of the size players want. Shorter games can be sold at prices that actually make sense for players. Our games are not going to be free to play, we are targeting initially that they will be premium.

[a]listdaily: Free-to-play is a very difficult monetization scheme to square with games that have a strong story, isn’t it

Rocco Scandizzo: I entirely agree. It’s a very difficult genre to make a game that delivers the kind of core values we want to deliver to players, and i’s also a very difficult genre to play in, generally speaking. Free-to-play is an extremely complex world, and we feel our core focus keeps us away from it.

[a]listdaily: When do you expect to start delivering games

Rocco Scandizzo: We’re currently looking at the end of 2015 for at least one of our projects, and ideally we’d have something to show probably at GDC.

[a]listdaily: Any parting thoughts

Rocco Scandizzo: I want to emphasize just how happy I am to have the core team that we’ve put together. It’s the first stepfor us in getting our core strategy off the ground. These guys are very well versed in making games, and their expertise in creating stories is compelling. Their experience in delivering lots of core IP in a way that players have related to is going to be a very strong advantage for us.

Pinterest Stars On The Rise

There’s no question that some folks have made a living out of becoming social media superstars, whether they have a large presence through small Vine videos, put together YouTube programming that millions of fans watch, or even express themselves through lively Twitter posts. However, you can now add one more social media site to the fold, as “Pinfluencers” are on the rise.

Re/code posted a story talking about these up-and-coming stars, who consider themselves under that name, as well as “Pinstars” and possibly “Pinlebrities,” according to the article. “Pinterest actually likes to call them Pinterest Influencers,” said Kyla Brennan, the head of HelloSociety, a Pinterest-based talent agency – the largest in the world. “They don’t like any change to the word Pinterest.”

Pinterest is just gaining ground in terms of breeding such superstars, as it takes time to establish the right kind of outreach in posts (not just blind photos). However, according to Brennan, over 400 highly paid influencers are part of the site now – a huge feat considering the HelloSociety got its start two years ago out of her home in Littleton, Colorado.

At first, some folks might be confused by the idea of a Pinterest superstar. “I know. I totally understand the skepticism. People hear Pinterest star and they’re like, what !” she explains. “But after three years of doing this, seeing clients making hundreds of thousands of dollars and quit their jobs and pin full time, it’s real.”

The company’s making more than you might think, too. HelloSociety has gathered $12.5 million in revenue last year, and employees 26 people full time. “Pinterest is commerce-based, it’s based on intent,” said Brennan. “Facebook, it’s still disruptive to see ads (there). Twitter’s not even in the conversation. Pinterest is built for commerce.”

“Pinfluencers” are more rare than you might think, though. “It’s much harder to get a huge audience in Pinterest – it’s just much rarer than something like YouTube, where you make one viral video and there you are,” she explained. “You’re not going to get one viral Pin and get a bunch of followers.”

However, they’re certainly on the rise – and even if some of them are odd, Brennan believes they should be welcomed just like “normal” folks. “In the early days, Pinterest suggested a few sort of strange birds who weren’t in their aesthetic. We’ve come across people who have all these followers for, I don’t know, like My Android Board or My Intergalactic Gemstones board. Or Frogs,” she said. “We’ve encouraged a lot of those Pinners to broaden their topics. Maybe branch out of frogs. Or do frogs but think about frogs in other ways.”


Obama Calls For Net Neutrality

By Jessica Klein

President Obama’s come out with a statement in support of net neutrality, cementing his administration’s stance on the issue. In the statement, he calls for the FCC to reclassify consumer broadband service under the Telecommunications Act’s Title II, which will prevent the likes of “internet fast lanes.”

“We cannot allow internet service providers to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas,” Obama said.

Though he noted that the decision is ultimately up to the FCC alone, he called for them to consider such rules as “no blocking,” “no throttling” (when ISPs slow some content providers and grant speedier access to others), “increased transparency,” and “no paid prioritization.”

Of course, major players on both sides of the Title II battle include Netflix and Verizon. The former previously filed with the FCC in support of reclassifying consumer broadband service under Title II. Meanwhile, Verizon responded to the president’s statement, according to Variety, insisting that Title II would mark “a radical reversal of course that would in and of itself threaten great harm to an open internet.”

Watch President Obama’s Statement

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.