Just wait until the papers get a load of this… Tim Ingham leans back in his chair, keyboard still steaming in the light of a naked bulb. A neon “DAMES” flashes through the window.
We’re gonna break this case wide open…
Or not. For nearly a year, a music mag in the UK has been publishing article after article accusing Spotify of secretly producing music under fake artist names to avoid royalties. And, until recently, publishers haven’t paid them much attention.
It’s a tale of fame, coverups, and smooth jazz — and Tim and his team over at Music Business Worldwide will stop at nothing until they feel justice is served.
Just what are they alleging?
That Spotify is #faketunes.
MBW claims that songs on the platform’s hugely popular instrumental playlist — like “Deep Focus,” “Peaceful Piano,” and “Sleep,” which have collectively garnered over 520m streams — are actually all composed by two Stockholm-based producers named Andreas Romdhane and Josef Svedlund.
According to MBW’s “cast-iron” sources, Spotify employs the Universal Music producers (who, under the name “Quiz & Larossi,” have worked with the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Diana Ross) to create songs under fake artist names for a flat fee in order to circumnavigate royalty payments.
Unfortunately, when MBW’s original report dropped last fall, it didn’t get much pickup.
If true, this means that the composers of your favorite waiting room music — artists like “Greg Barley,” “Karin Borg,” and “Hermann” (all alleged to be fake names created by Spotify) — aren’t struggling musicians after all.
Uber has announced it will merge its Russian division with Yandex — the “Google of Russia” (and the country’s largest ride-sharing service) — in a deal worth $3.7B.
Pending regulatory approval, Yandex will run the new company, with Uber owning just 37% of the venture.
What’s the dilly with Yandex?
Launched in 2011, Yandex’s ride-sharing offshoot established an early stronghold in Eastern Europe. It came into a largely unregulated Russian taxi market with a safe, modern alternative, and quickly amassed an army of 500k users.
Through their new partnership, the companies will give about 400m rides annually, and will each retain their own separate brand.
For Uber (which clocked a $700m loss in Q1 this year), it’ll provide a nice revenue stream in an area which has, to date, cost them a lot of money to compete in.
Finally, a victory overseas!
Uber has long-since struggled with overseas expansion.
Last year, the company had to sell its Chinese subsidiary to local favorite Didi Chuxing after a multi-billion dollar effort to gain market share fell flat.
Yesterday’s deal played out similarly: they entered the Russian market in 2013, spent big bucks, and never quite caught up to Yandex.
But hey, now Russians too can enjoy the thrill of never knowing when an Uber driver might play TLC’s “Waterfalls” 6 times in a row.
For several years, Stanford management science researchers have been quietly working on what they call “flash organization” software.
The aim? To take a complex, multi-part project, then automatically assemble a freelance team to get it done “on-demand.”
Like a corporate flash mob
Imagine something like oDesk or Fivver — but for an entire organization.
Let’s say you want to create a board game. A lot of moving parts there, right?
You start by briefly planning out the tasks you need (design, writing, manufacturing, etc). Then, you feed this “blueprint” to the software, which fills all the positions you need with qualified freelance workers in a pre-generated hierarchy.
Onboarding is automated: each worker is sent a prospectus of what he’s responsible for, and who he reports to.
In theory it’s great, but…
In real-life tests, the quality of the freelancers hired has been pretty sub-par — partly because the software seems to value speed and efficiency over quality in the hiring process.
In one test project, the average hire took a mere 13 minutes. The entire thing was done in 6 weeks, but it ended up being kinda cruddy.
It’s also got some not-so-great implications
On-demand hiring is already a widespread practice: Almost all of the 10m jobs created since 2005 have been freelance, temp, or on-call opportunities (you know, the whole “gig economy” thing).
But, extending this to entire organizations could further dehumanize a workforce that is already increasingly part-time and outsourced — not to mention hurt the quality of the products produced.
The rise of social media has made the elaborate plotlines of old-school spots seem archaic. And the Mad Men are, well, mad.
6 is the new 30
Platforms like YouTube have increasingly challenged agencies to tell their stories in a 6-second slot — the average attention span of today’s mobile user.
It makes sense. You might be willing to sit through a 3-minute trailer before a movie, or a 30-second “Whassup” ad before an episode of Survivor. But amidst the native content of notoriously short-form channels like Instagram or Snapchat, these types of ads are disproportionately long.
And if we had a nickel for every 60-second YouTube video we gave up on because of an unskippable 30-second ad, we’d be at least $1.25 richer.
“Art is dead.” — Advertisers
“Calm down, you sell pickles.” — Everyone else
Ad execs counter that cutting time means sacrificing emotional stakes and story arc for the sake of speed, effectively prioritizing watchability over effectiveness.
Another, not-so-secret motive: it’s harder to get paid proportionally for the production of super-short ads, which still require actors and equipment.
Hey, we love Ogilvy as much as the next ad geek. But as the father of mass media, Marshall McLuhan, put it back in the ‘60s: “The medium is the message.”
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