YouTube Music: Streaming Around The Law

YouTube Music

In November, Google became an even more formidable player in the music streaming market by launching two new services: YouTube Red—an ad-free subscription service—and YouTube Music, an audio-focused version of the YouTube app. With Google’s global audience, YouTube’s movement into the streaming industry is bad news for other giants like SoundCloud, Spotify, and Apple Music. While services like Apple Music and Spotify boast huge catalogs of songs, these industry-focused platforms lack the mixtapes, remixes, and user-submitted tracks that make SoundCloud and YouTube popular. Relying on user-submitted content since the start, YouTube has evolved into a unique position that gives Google far more flexibility with copyright laws than other services. Google blatantly has an advantage –especially when comparing YouTube’s success with the downfall of SoundCloud. YouTube’s massive market share has created a situation where Google is practically immune from the dangers posed by copyright infringement, giving Google an advantage over competing music services. Furthermore, as a video and music platform, YouTube’s ad-free subscription provides value beyond music alone, offering customers an irreplaceable, commercial-free experience on the world’s most popular video platform as well. If YouTube is going to enter the music streaming space legitimately, Google needs to follow the same rules as its competitors.

For $9.99 a month, YouTube Red lets customers enjoy an ad-free YouTube experience while also giving users access to the Google Play Music catalog. In a one-two punch, Google launched YouTube Music shortly after Red, allowing users to stream audio-only versions of videos and explore music more intuitively. With a subscription to YouTube Red (there’s a 14-day free trial for users who download YouTube Music), listeners can use the YouTube Music app to save songs for offline listening, play content in the background on mobile, and stream audio-only versions of videos. For users who already rely on YouTube to fit their streaming needs, audio-only mode is a crucial development. Reducing unnecessary data consumption is essential for customers with expensive cellphone plans, and removing video from streams will save heavy YouTube users GBs of data per a month. Users can still use YouTube Music without YouTube Red, but a free plan prevents mobile listeners from playing audio in the background, limiting the usefulness of the service.

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So Many Packages

Photo from : https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8231/8394217408_a7a722de3c_b.jpg

Photo from : https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8231/8394217408_a7a722de3c_b.jpg

It seems silly, but there’s a problem in the United States surrounding online shopping. The rise of services like Amazon have already had a harsh effect on retail storefronts, but now, the problem has reached the postal industry. As noted in a recent article by the Wallstreet Journal, the surge of parcels from online retailers has created new issues for property managers. Aside from the issue of storing an apartment building’s worth of packages, real estate companies now need to devote an increasing amount of their personal funds to handling deliveries. In recent years, different businesses have implemented a variety of solutions to fix this problem. Amazon set up delivery lockers in partner locations across the United States, and the company continues to push the frontier of online shopping with same day delivery and third party parcel services. Services like Fedex and UPS changed the mail industry when they began to deliver mail, and the rise in online shopping presents another turning point for the delivery industry.

Amazon’s same-day delivery service has caused a lot of controversy since its launch. In a Forbes article from June, Tom Ryan quotes some generally differing responses to Amazon’s move. According to Chris Petersen

“It is a differentiator that will be difficult to replicate because it requires substantial infrastructure, systems and processes which are not easily created overnight. … If there ever was a wake-up call for brick-and-mortar, this should be it. If you can’t match free same-day delivery, you had better deliver over-the-top customer experience in your stores.”

Petersen seems to believe that store-front operation in major cities will face the wraith of Amazon’s new delivery service the quickest. Amazon has already set up warehouses in some of the country’s most active delivery locations, and same-day delivery will certainly put increasing pressure on box stores and general stores to compete. However, rural areas will continue to maintain during this explorative period in the delivery industry. Amazon does not yet have the infrastructure to offer these expedited shipping options everywhere. That being said, rural retailers should certainly contemplate how they might compete in the future.

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A Pay-Optional Culture

Napster Logo

The introduction of the internet to mainstream culture changed content distribution fundamentally. Napster’s notoriety made the public aware that the web could be a tool for sharing audio, video and text files across the world, but slow internet connections prevented P2P sharing from becoming an efficient replacement for purchasing content.

The print industry was hit hard by this change. The online news space became crowded with free options, and print publications –especially local ones– were too slow to adjust. Web advertisements grew in importance as the overall revenue from print ads declined with decreased circulation and subscriptions. A 2015 Pew report graphs the sad state of affairs in terms of annual revenue generated by newspapers both online and in print. Total revenue is down, and online advertisements are not generating enough profit to offset the money lost from print advertisements.

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The Problem with University Uber Initiatives

UBER_USCButton

When USC announced a partnership with Uber to augment the university’s campus cruiser program, students were excited. Ride sharing services had already become an integral part of the college experience in Los Angeles, and many students were already familiar with Uber when the USC program launched. Inefficient public transportation and sizable distances make a car essential for getting around LA, and ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft have been a tremendous help by providing students with viable option for mobility.

In Los Angeles, Uber has several tiers of service, ranging from uberPOOL (a shared ride service) to Uber Lux (a personal luxury car). While the more expensive rides like Lux, Select, and Black maintain a flat rate no matter the hour, UberX services engage in a controversial practice called “surge pricing,” which multiplies a fare depending on the supply and demand of rides. This practice has already resulted in some amusing headlines and public backlash, but Uber continues to defend surge pricing as the fairest way to ensure rides are equally available.

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There Can Be Only One: A Game of ‘Hoverboards.’

Hoverboard or Hovertrax?

“Hoverboys run L.A.!”

These are the words my friend Chris shouted as he glided around the living room on a Hovertrax, a self-balancing device that looks like the bastard child of a Segway and skateboard. With countless celebrity endorsements, “hoverboards” seem to be everywhere these days, yet despite their popularity, their origin is unknown to most consumers.

Where did these hoverboards come from?

David Pierce at Wired magazine made a valiant attempt to get to the bottom of the hoverboard mystery back in June. In the article, David comes to the conclusion that most boards on the market are knockoffs of Chic Smart S1, which appeared in August of 2014, donning blue L.E.D.s and the letters “IO.” Chic brought the product to the Canton Fair, a semi-annual trade show in China, where the hoverboard devices were overwhelmingly popular and sold out quickly. It did not take long for other companies to reverse engineer and rebrand the products, and within the next few months, boards could be found on Alibaba for wholesale distribution.

If you hit your favorite social media platform, chances are you’ll see some rendition of the Chic Smart S1. PhunkeeDuck and IO Hawk are arguably the biggest players in the American hoverboard industry currently, and as David Pierce astutely notes, “Chic’s logo—the horizontal line on top of an oval that just so happens to look like “IO” when rotated 90 degrees—is plastered all over most versions of the board.” Continue reading