Apple Sued by ‘Over the Rainbow’ Composer for Alleged Piracy

Apple and other tech firms are being sued for piracy by the estate of composer Harold Arlen for offering unauthorized copies of his songs, reports the BBC. Arlen's son, Sam Arlen, says he has found more than 6,000 unauthorized copies of his father's songs on Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft's services.


According to legal papers filed in Los Angeles, streaming services and download stores like iTunes are flooded with "bootleg" copies of Arlen's songs, robbing his estate of royalties. Arlen's work includes several American songbook classics like Over The Rainbow and Get Happy.

The 148-page filing claims the firms are engaged in "massive piracy operations" and provides several examples of alleged piracy. For instance, the official recording of Ethel Ennis' version of Arlen's song "For Every Man, There Is A Woman" is available on the RCA Victor label for $1.29 on iTunes. However, a separate version on the Stardust Records label - with the same cover art but the RCA Victor Logo edited out - is available for $0.89.

Some of the alleged pirate copies are said to contain the signature "skips, pops and crackles" of vinyl, indicating they've been duplicated from a record, rather than the original master tapes.

Arlen's estate is also suing dozens of record labels, which it claims have "continued to work with" alleged pirates despite having knowledge of copyright infringement "for several years".
"It is hard to imagine that a person walking into Tower Records, off the street, with arms full of CDs and vinyl records and claiming to be the record label for Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald, could succeed in having that store sell their copies directly next to the same albums released by legendary record labels, Capitol, RCA, and Columbia, and at a lower price," stated Arlen's lawyers.

"Yet, this exact practice occurs every day in the digital music business where there is... a complete willingness by the digital music stores and services to seek popular and iconic recordings from any source, legitimate or not, provided they participate in sharing the proceeds."
According to the BBC, part of the dispute stem from the differences in copyright law between the US and Europe. In the US, copyright for sound recordings made after 1923 and before 1972 is generally 95 years. But in the UK and Europe, copyright expires after 70 years, after which sound recordings enter the public domain.

Nevertheless, some of the recordings names in Arlen's court papers are still protected by copyright in Europe, and the actual compositions are not in the public domain (a writer's copyright continues for 70 years after their death).

The estate argues that songs like "It's Only A Paper Moon" and "Stormy Weather" are "monumental works of art" that are "national treasures," and is seeking around $4.5 million in damages. Apple and other companies named in the court papers have yet to comment.


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Alexa Now Supports Apple Music in Australia and New Zealand on Echo, Sonos, and Fire TV Devices

Alexa now supports Apple Music in Australia and New Zealand on Amazon Echo and Amazon Fire TV devices, and compatible Sonos speakers, as reflected in a recently updated Apple support document.


This means Apple Music subscribers who own one of those devices in those countries can now ask Alexa to play songs, artists, playlists, and more from Apple Music. This functionality first launched in the United States in December before expanding to the United Kingdom and Ireland last month.

Read our guide on how to set up Apple Music in the Alexa app, including how to make it the default music service so that you don't have to say "on Apple Music" each time you ask Alexa to play something.

(Thanks, Brad!)


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Apple Music Updates ‘For You’ With New Layout Featuring More Frequent Song Recommendations

As part of the iOS 12.3 release yesterday, Apple Music updated with a brand-new "For You" section. This refreshed tab now updates multiple times per day with new music suggestions based on genres you love, artists you might enjoy, and moods that match certain themes. Overall, the tab also now falls in line with the layout changes previously seen in Apple Music's Browse tab that hit earlier this year.


The top of For You still highlights your various personal "Mixes" that Apple Music curates throughout the week, including Favorites, Friends, Chill, and New Music. Below this is where the changes appear, beginning with "Recently Played" playlists and albums appearing above "Friends Are Listening To," whereas before it was the reverse order.

Below that, For You is divided into various themed sections based on your listening habits, which will be different for every user. These include areas like "Teen Pop," "Rise and Smile," "It's Only Tuesday?," recently updated playlists, genres like country and electronic, and more.

Apple Music can now even curate song and artist recommendations based on your own personal playlists. Sections like this are called "Based on [Playlist Name]" and they present you with albums that you might be interested in, based on the songs that you have in the designated playlist.


Finally, at the very bottom of For You there is a category for recommended friends and "New Releases." Updates to Apple Music's user profiles or any other tabs in the app have not appeared, but you can see the new For You tab in iTunes on Mac as well.

The Apple Music updates in iOS 12.3 appeared alongside a lengthy list of features, including AirPlay 2 for smart TVs, a redesigned TV app for the Apple TV, and various other bug fixes and improvements.


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Apple Music Hires Lindsay Rothschild From Google to Help Build Relationships With Songwriters

Apple recently hired Lindsay Rothschild to Head of Creative Services for Apple Music's North American division (via Variety). Rothschild is joining Apple from Google, where she led songwriter and publisher relations for YouTube.


The new Apple Music executive will be tasked with building and maintaining working relationships with artists in the songwriter community, as well as publishers. Rothschild officially started at Apple on April 29, and she was the first hire on Apple Music's Music Publishing Creative Services team.

Rothschild's hiring follows a few months of reports about streaming music services fighting against the United States Copyright Royalty Board, which ruled to increase the royalties paid to songwriters by 44 percent. Companies like Spotify, Google, Pandora, and Amazon all fought against the decision.

Apple remained out of the fight, favoring the increased royalty payments for songwriters and earning praise from various artists and those in the music industry.

Now, Rothschild will continue working on expanding Apple's good graces in the community, which she appears ready to accomplish. According to sources, she is able to "speak and understand the language of songwriters," and has a "great track record" during her previous jobs, including the Disney Music Group prior to her spot at Google.


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Alexa Support for Apple Music Expands to Sonos Speakers

Amazon Echo devices have been able to use Alexa-based voice commands to control Apple Music since December, but the feature has been limited to Amazon's own devices until today.

Sonos One and Sonos Beam owners in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland are now also able to use Alexa to control Apple Music after adding the Apple Music skill to the Alexa app.


To get Alexa controls for Apple Music on Sonos, users will need to update to the newest version of the Sonos app, enable the Apple Music skill in the separate Amazon Alexa app, and link an Apple Music account.

From there, Sonos owners will be able to use commands like "Play My Chill Mix on Apple Music," or "Play Beats 1 Radio on Apple Music."

It's not yet clear if other Alexa-enabled devices will also be gaining support for Apple Music controls in the future, but right now, the feature is available on all Amazon Echo and Fire TV devices along with the Sonos One and Sonos Beam.


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Apple Music’s ‘For You’ Section Now Offers Theme-Based Recommendations, More Personalized Suggestions

Apple appears to be updating the "For You" section of Apple Music to provide Apple Music subscribers with more customized suggestions and music recommendations based around different themes.

The updates to the Apple Music app's "For You" section appear to be rolling out starting today, and we're seeing the new recommendations on devices running both iOS 12.2 and iOS 12.3 According to 9to5Mac, these changes will be coming to all Apple Music subscribers on all platforms over the course of the next few weeks.


Apple Music is now recommending content based on specific bands you've listened to before, and there are categories such as "Case of the Mondays," "Start Your Week Right," and "To Make You Smile." There are also category recommendations for music genres you've listened to in the past.

Recommendations can be shifted using the Love and Dislike features in Apple Music, and going forward, Apple plans to provide more regular updates to the "For You" section so you'll have fresh content and recommendations more frequently.

Apple is maintaining already existing playlists such as Friends Mix, Chill Mix, New Music Mix and Favorites Mix, and there are still sections like Recently Played, Recently Updated, Friends Are Listening To, and New Releases.


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Apple Music Launching Exclusive Wiz Khalifa Documentary Series Next Week

Rapper Wiz Khalifa today announced that a new documentary series about his career, called "Wiz Khalifa: Behind the Cam," will launch exclusively on Apple Music on Wednesday, April 17. The series will feature five episodes that "go into the most intimate aspects of Wiz's life," through archival footage and various interviews with friends and family (via Variety).


The series is launching between both of Khalifa's performances at Coachella, taking place this weekend and the weekend of April 19. The project's executive producer, Michael Strahan, said that the team was excited to work with Apple Music on the series for a chance to "give the world an intimate look into the rise of an entertainment icon."
The trailer takes a different approach to that of most music documentaries, showing footage of a teen Wiz at an in-store meet-and-greet attended by one person, and rapping for a handful of people at a basketball court. His mother and longtime associates talk about his early drive and dedication, even when he was performing for hardly anyone — and of course the trailer ends with him rapping the same song later in his career for thousands of people.
Although Apple is shifting its video focus to Apple TV+, it appears that music-related documentaries and behind-the-scenes films will remain on Apple Music. However, Apple removed the TV & Movies section on Apple Music in a recent iOS update, which introduced a revamped layout to allow for quickly navigating curated music playlists.

You can still find these documentaries on their respective artists' profiles if you know what you're searching for, and Apple typically promotes the latest ones on the Browse page's carousel. On macOS, TV & Movies is still available at the top of the Browse tab, including behind-the-scene films about Ed Sheeran, Kesha, Shawn Mendes, Sam Smith, and more.


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WSJ: Apple Music Has Overtaken Spotify in U.S. Paid Subscribers

Apple Music has surpassed Spotify's paid subscriber count in the United States, according to sources familiar with the matter who spoke with The Wall Street Journal. The shift reportedly happened earlier in 2019; Apple had more than 28 million U.S. subscribers in February compared to Spotify's 26 million paid U.S. subscribers.


Similar news broke last summer from an industry source, but now months later the WSJ is corroborating the report. According to the paper, Apple Music has been adding subscribers "more rapidly" than Spotify, with a monthly growth rate of 2.6 to 3 percent, compared to 1.5 to 2 percent for Spotify.

Apple Music is starting to see growth in areas outside the United States as well:
Apple Music is growing faster globally—at a rate of about 2.4% to 2.8%, compared with Spotify’s 2% to 2.3%—and the gap is starting to close in other markets outside the U.S., according to the people familiar with the numbers.
The numbers reported today refer only to paying subscribers and exclude any user on the Apple Music three-month free trial or the Spotify ad-supported subscription tier. If the figures did include the free tiers, Spotify does have many more users overall in the United States.

In February 2018, the WSJ predicted that Apple Music would soon overtake Spotify in the U.S., but thanks to Spotify's numerous bundle offerings with Hulu and Showtime, Spotify remained in the lead for a while longer. Apple Music does offer discounts for families and students, but has yet to partner with another streaming video company to offer a bundle like Spotify.

Apple has become increasingly focused on its services business in recent years, given their high profitability thanks to monthly and/or yearly subscription costs. Apple Music debuted in 2015 at $9.99/month, but the company also offers iCloud storage at various price levels, and just launched Apple News+ at $9.99/month. Later in 2019, users will have a chance to sign up for Apple Arcade and Apple TV+, both of which have not yet been given price points.


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Apple Music Subscription Prices Slashed in India

Apple has cut the price of all Apple Music plans in India, in a move apparently aimed at fending off rival streaming services like Spotify and YouTube Music, both of which recently launched in the country within the last month.


Apple Music is now being offered for Rs 99 ($1.43) a month, down from the earlier price of Rs 120 ($1.73).

Likewise, a student membership now costs Rs 49 instead of Rs 60, while a family plan has dropped from Rs 190 to Rs 149. Yearly subscriptions meanwhile cost Rs 999 rather than the earlier price of Rs 1,200.

The new price of an Apple Music membership undercuts both Spotify and YouTube Music, whose monthly premium plans start at Rs 119 and Rs 129, respectively.

India is seen as an untapped market for streaming music services, with a population of 1.3 billion people many of whom are only just becoming active internet users.

Home to a thriving and varied multi-lingual music scene, the country already has several local streaming services like JioSaavn and Gaana, but with the big international players making their debut in the country, competition appears to be hotting up.

(Via The Indian Express.)


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Apple Music Now Available on Amazon’s Alexa Devices in the UK and Ireland

Amazon Echo and Fire TV devices in the UK and Ireland are now compatible with Apple Music, reports Pocket-lint.

In the United States, Amazon Echo models have supported Apple Music since December of last year, allowing Echo speakers to integrate directly with Apple's music service, but the functionality was not made available in other countries.


Amazon Echo owners in the UK can now install the Apple Music integration using the Amazon Alexa app for iPhone or iPad and then use Alexa commands to play songs, albums, and more from the Apple Music service.

As of mid-March, Apple Music is also available as an option on the Amazon Fire TV.


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