TIME Media

YouTube Launching Spotify-Style Paid Music Service

The new version of YouTube's app allows users to view full albums and artist discographies Google

New service will offer no ads and offline listening for $9.99 per month

YouTube, the most popular online destination for music, is launching a revamped free music listening experience and a paid music service that will compete directly with Spotify and the Apple-owned Beats Music.

For its free offering, Google-owned YouTube will on Wednesday begin offering full albums and even complete discographies for many artists through a new Music tab on its website and mobile apps. The company has signed licensing agreements with major U.S. labels and hundreds of independent labels to offer audio-only tracks for millions of songs that don’t already have official music videos on YouTube. YouTube spokesman Matt McLernon said the size of the library would be on par with Google’s other streaming music service, Google Play Music, which has more than 30 million songs.

“This is the first time we’ve ever made a home just for one certain type of video on YouTube,” McLernon says.

YouTube’s new paid service, meanwhile, will be called YouTube Music Key, a $9.99-per-month service that functions similarly to Spotify or Beats Music, letting users listen to songs without ads, play songs on their devices while using other apps and download videos to their phones for offline viewing.

A YouTube Music Key subscription will include access to Google Play Music, and the two services will track users’ listening habits together to offer up better recommendations on both platforms. An invite-only beta version of YouTube Music Key will be available to some of YouTube’s top music listeners on Monday, Nov. 17. Beta users will get the service free for six months, then pay a lifetime promotional price of $7.99 per month. The service will see a full launch sometime in 2015.

McLernon would not disclose the bitrate of YouTube’s new streaming services, but said it would be the same for the paid and free options.

By rolling out a paid streaming service in 2015, YouTube is late to enter a crowded market that already features Spotify, which just disclosed that it has 12.5 million paying customers, and Beats Music, which Apple is rumored to be planning to integrate into its iTunes music software. But YouTube has a key differentiating factor—its content. The website is popular not only for official music videos from artists but also for the myriad covers, parodies, remixes and original songs recorded by lesser known musicians. These types of songs and videos will also be available ad-free on the paid service, giving that platform a library that will likely exceed all others on the market in terms of raw amount of music. McLernon said these unofficial songs not covered by agreements with record labels will be added on a case-by-case basis for now, but the company hopes to eventually automate the process in the same way that users can currently sell ads against their videos with the click of a button.

YouTube’s new paid service is the biggest endorsement yet of the paid streaming model as a viable revenue stream for the music industry. YouTube has mostly been viewed as a promotional tool by artists in the past — the video site has paid out more than one billion in ad revenue in its lifetime, but that’s a relatively paltry figure given YouTube’s massive scale. (Spotify has paid $2 billion to the music industry with just 50 million users.) YouTube’s paid tier could present an opportunity for artists to earn significant revenue from the platform if customers adopt it. With more than 1 billion monthly users, YouTube will have a massive pool of customers to which it can sell music, but it’s not clear how many of them will be willing to pay for music on a site that’s always been free. The company’s last big foray into paid content, charging users a monthly subscription fee, was initially met with a muted response, though it’s since been expanded to include more channels.

YouTube’s many new features are rolling out for iOS, Android, and YouTube.com. And at least a portion of Taylor Swift’s catalogue, which was completely removed from Spotify, will be available on YouTube Music Key and Google Play Music.

TIME Money

Swiss Pocket Watch Sells for Record $24 Million

SWITZERLAND-LIFESTYLE-AUCTION-LUXURY-JEWELLERY-WATCHES
The Henry Graves Supercomplication timepiece made by Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe in 1932 is photographied during a press preview by Sotheby's auction house on November 5, 2014 in Geneva. Fabrice Coffrini—AFP/Getty Images

Designed by luxury Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe

A Swiss-made pocket watch fetched a record $24 million, the most ever paid for a timepiece, at a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva on Tuesday.

The Henry Graves Jr. Supercomplication is named after a New York banker who competed with the car manufacturer James Ward Packard to commission the most elaborate watch possible in the early 20th century, the Wall Street Journal reports. Sotheby’s said afterward that the sale of the watch, designed by luxury Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe, “re-established its supreme status as the most valuable timepiece in auction history,” beating the $11 million record set in 1999.

The timepiece boasts 24 “complications,” or features, besides the basic telling of time. Some of these functions include showing moon phases, the time of sunset and a perpetual calendar that won’t’ require resetting until the year 2100. The device has 920 individual parts, including 430 screws, 110 wheels and 70 jewels.

[WSJ]

TIME apps

Candy Crush Sequel Now Available on Your Smartphone

Owner King Entertainment hopes "Candy Crush Soda Saga" will enjoy some of the success of its earlier hit

The sequel to the mobile mega hit Candy Crush Saga is now available worldwide on iOS and Android devices.

“Candy Crush Soda Saga” had its worldwide rollout Tuesday after previously being available in select markets and on Facebook.

The new title, which hews closely to the addictive gameplay of the original, sports 135 new levels set in the same world as the first game. The game is free to download but charges players for in-game features, a business model that made Candy Crush Saga one of the most lucrative mobile games of all time.

Game developer King Digital Entertainment, which went public in March, has been searching for another hit to prove to investors that it can follow up Candy Crush Saga’s success. The company saw profits and revenue decline in the most recent quarter due to falling interest in its marquee title.

In addition to pushing Candy Crush Soda Saga, King hopes to reverse its fortunes by emphasizing games outside the Candy Crush franchise as well. About half of the company’s revenue now comes from non-Candy Crush titles.

TIME robotics

This 6-Foot Robot Moves Like the Karate Kid

But we're still waiting to see the full-blown crane kick

The Google-owned robotics company Boston Dynamics has created a 6’2″, 330-pound robot that can mimic moves from The Karate Kid.

The robot, dubbed Atlas, isn’t quite a full-blown ninja yet—in a new video, the robot is shown balancing on a cinderblock on one leg and raising his arms slowly in the air, as in the iconic movie scene where Ralph Macchio unleashes the crane kick. While Boston Dynamics built the hardware, a robotics research institute called IHMC programmed the robot’s moves.

When not practicing karate, the Atlas robots are actually designed to provide humanitarian relief in areas that people cannot enter, such as nuclear disaster sites. Boston Dynamics has also created a robotic dog and a wildcat that can run at speeds of 25 miles per hour.

[Wired]

TIME celebrities

Why Jennifer Lawrence Says She’ll Never Use Twitter

The idea is “unthinkable” to her

Jennifer Lawrence is one of the biggest movie stars in the age of social media, but she’s not a big fan of Facebook or Twitter.

In an interview with BBC Radio One, the actress said she’ll never get a Twitter account. Lawrence said she wasn’t good with phones and struggles to keep up with email, so the idea of Twitter is “unthinkable” to her. She called the social network “a weird enigma that people talk about.”

“If you ever see a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter [account] that says it’s me, it most certainly is not,” Lawrence said, though she does have a verified Facebook Page. Overall, she doesn’t seem to be a big fan of Internet culture: “The Internet has scorned me.”

Earlier this year, nude photos of Lawrence and several other celebrities were stolen and posted online. Following the incident, she told Vanity Fair in September: “It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting.”

[Mashable]

TIME Companies

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Plans to Launch Internet Satellites

Tesla Motors Inc. Makes Announcement About First Battery Gigafactory In Nevada
Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc., attends a news conference at the Nevada State Capitol building in Carson City, Nevada, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

More details to come in "two to three months"

Elon Musk’s space travel startup SpaceX is developing a series of advanced micro-satellites to deliver low-cost Internet access to the masses. The billionaire entrepreneur revealed the plans Monday on his Twitter account, noting that the official announcement is still two to three months away.

SpaceX’s business primarily involves shuttling cargo and soon astronauts to the International Space Station. The Wall Street Journal reported the new venture will include the launch of 700 satellites weighing under 250 pounds each, but Musk disputed the details of the Journal article, saying on Twitter that it was “wrong on several important points.”

TIME apps

Facebook Messenger Hits 500 Million Monthly Users

A view of and Apple iPhone displaying th
A view of and Apple iPhone displaying the Facebook app's splash screen May 10, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

Forcing Facebook users to download add is paying off

Facebook’s Messenger app has reached 500 million monthly active users, the company announced in a blog post Monday. Messenger is a text and photo messaging tool that allows users to communicate with their Facebook friends in a way similar to traditional SMS texting.

Adoption of Messenger likely got a boost over the summer when Facebook began forcing users to download the app to send private messages to friends instead of using the main Facebook app. The decision garnered wide criticism and helped sink the iOS App Store review score for the current version of Messenger to one-and-a-half stars. But it seems to have worked out just as Facebook intended. In April the company disclosed that Messenger had about 200 million users, meaning the app has seen massive growth in the last half year.

Facebook recently hired former PayPal president David Marcus as its vice president for messaging products, so the company may have plans to monetize Messenger’s fast-growing userbase sooner rather than later. Facebook in October also closed its $19 billion acquisition of messaging app WhatsApp.

TIME Social Media

9 Super Simple Ways to Make Facebook Less Annoying

Facebook Inc. Opens New Data Center In The Arctic Circle
A Facebook Inc. "Like" logo sits on display at the company's new data storage center near the Arctic Circle in Lulea, Sweden, on June 12, 2013. Bloomberg—Getty Images

Including how to hide your most embarrassing posts

Once upon a time, Facebook was a quiet online gathering place for real-world friends to keep tabs on one another. Now it’s a neverending torrent of viral news articles, auto-playing videos, awkward political rants from distant cousins and a weekly Candy Crush invite from your 11th-grade English teacher.

It doesn’t have to be. Facebook is giving users more control over what kind of posts show up in the News Feed, which is controlled by a secret Facebook algorithm and shows a small fraction of all available posts each day. Spending just a few minutes navigating the social network’s settings menus can make Facebook a less chaotic experience and ensure that your data remains more private.

After trawling through Facebook’s hundreds of settings options, TIME compiled this list of tips to help you get the most out of your time on the world’s largest social network:

 

Quiet Your Chattiest Friends

Everyone has a few Facebook friends that never seem to shut up. A new setting lets you figure out exactly who these people are by listing which of your friends had the mosts posts in your News Feed in the past week. You can choose to “Unfollow” these friends, which is kind of like a stealth un-friending. Their posts will no longer show up in your News Feed, but they won’t know they’ve been unfollowed and you can still send them messages and look at their profiles. If you don’t want to go quite that far, you can also tell Facebook to simply show you fewer of their posts. These options can be accessed via the “News Feed Settings” option on desktop and the “Mange News Feed” option in the mobile settings menu.

newsfeed list mobile

 

An even faster method is to simply click the small gray arrow in the top right corner of any News Feed post and choose to either Unfollow that user or tell Facebook you don’t want to see that individual post in your feed. The same options apply for Pages.

FB arrow in newsfeed

Lists are another good way to control Facebook chatter. Place friends in the “Acquaintances” list and their posts will rarely show up in your News Feed. You can also make use of the “Restricted” list, which is kind of the inverse of the “Unfollow” option. Restricted users will only be able to see your public posts or posts in which you specifically tag them. This could be a useful way to deal with a friend request from your boss or a stealthy method to keep annoying users from commenting on your posts. Both lists can be accessed by visiting friends’ profile pages.

fb acquaintances

Eliminate Annoying Game Invites Once and For All

Maybe you’re tired of that soul-crushing feeling when your first Facebook notification in 24 hours turns out be another generic invitation to play Farmville. Get rid of these annoying app messages by clicking on the small X on the right side of the message in the notifications box. Facebook will then ask if you want to turn off notifications for that app permanently.

candycrushinvite

For more control, you can go to the “Blocking” menu in Settings and choose to block specific apps or app invites from individual friends who are probably frustrating hundreds of other people with their indiscriminate clicking.

block apps screen

Make it Harder to Be Tagged in Photos

Facebook won’t let you stop other people from tagging you completely, but you can prevent these tagged photos from showing up in your timeline. You can also disable Facebook’s “suggested tag” feature, which prompts other users to tag pictures that look like you. Both options are on the “Timeline and Tagging” screen in the Settings menu.

photo tags

 

You can also remove tags of yourself from multiple photos at once by visiting the “Activity Log,” which can be accessed from the same drop-down menu that holds the Settings option (the downward facing arrow next to the privacy and notification icons in the main blue bar at the top of all Facebook pages). On the “Activity Log” page, select photos in the left-hand menu, and then select the check-boxes for all the photos you want to untag.

remove tags

 

Stop Facebook From Using You in Its Ads

Facebook aims to make its ads as personalized as possible. Sometimes that means taking activity you’ve performed—liking a certain page, for instance—and then slapping your name on an ad as an implicit endorsement of the product. You can stop the use of your name in such ads by selecting the “Ads and Friends” section of the Ads screen under Settings.

Under an even odder setting on the same menu called “Third Party Sites,” Facebook says it doesn’t give third party websites or apps the right to use your name and photo in ads, but if the company decides to in the future, users offer consent by default. You can flip this setting so that no one will see your name next to these potential ads in the future.

ads and friends

 

Make Ads More Interesting

There’s no getting around Facebook ads—they’re the revenue driver that allows the site to be free and still be a thriving business. But users can exert some level of control of the specific ads they see. Ads can be dismissed using the arrow in the top-left corner of the ad in much the same way as posts from friends or Pages. Users can also change their ad preferences (viewable here) to ensure that ads related to specific topics, people or products are emphasized.

Log Out of Facebook Remotely

Nervous that you accidentally left your Facebook account logged in on a public computer? You can actually log off the site on individual browsers and devices from a different location. Simply go to Settings, then Security, then the “Where You’re Logged In” option. You can choose to “end activity” and log out of any browser or mobile device where your account is logged in. The feature also works for Facebook-owned companion apps like Messenger and Paper (though seemingly not for Instagram).

log out

 

Get Rid of the Sidebar

The Facebook homepage has gotten increasingly crowded over the years. The sidebar, which shows a list of friends currently online and a constant stream of all friends’ social actions, is one of the biggest culprits. But click the gear icon in the bottom right corner of the Sidebar and select “Hide Sidebar” to minimize the window and get some much-needed white space back on your desktop screen.

sidebar

Stop Auto-Playing Videos

The latest potentail Facebook annoyance is the abundance of videos that start playing automatically as you scroll past them. These can be an unsolicited distraction and eat up mobile data if not kept in check. Though the videos play by default, users have the option of having them work while connected to Wi-Fi or disabling autoplay completely. The exact method for changing auto-play differs for desktops and mobile devices.

Hide Your Early, Immature Days on Facebook With One Click

If you’re trying to repent for your over-sharing sins of the past, Facebook will let you quickly make any public posts only viewable to your friends. Under the Privacy tab in the Settings menu, click “Limit Past Posts” under the “Who can see my stuff?” category. This option will make older posts that were originally shared with the general public or “Friends of Friends” only viewable to your Facebook friends. Ensuring that old posts are only viewable to you or to certain friends still requires fine-tuning on individual messages and photos.

limit posts

TIME Companies

Grading Twitter’s Performance One Year After Its IPO

US-INTERNET-TWITTER
A banner with the logo of Twitter is set on the front of the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 in New York. Emmanuel Dunand—AFP/Getty Images

Twitter is generating big revenue and making smart acquisitions but slow user growth remains the dominant concern

Social networking giant Twitter was flying high a year ago, when its wildly successful IPO filled the company’s coffers and seemed poised to usher in a new wave of consumer tech public offerings.

But the company’s performance in 2014 has been mixed. New users are still coming to the site, but at a relatively slow rate. Revenue is growing briskly, but so are losses. And a revolving door in the executive suite means that the company’s leadership is in flux. As the Wall Street Journal points out in a profile of CEO Dick Costolo, exactly what Twitter is and what it wants to be seems to be ever shifting.

Here’s a recap of Twitter’s first year as a public company, grading its hits and misses.

User Growth

Over the last four quarters, Twitter has added 52 million monthly active users, growing its userbase by about 22%. In the year prior, Twitter added 65 million new users and grew its base by about 39%. This decelerating growth has been the main narrative dogging Twitter during 2014 and drawn unwanted comparisons to Facebook, which is still growing at a healthy clip despite dwarfing Twitter in size. Costolo has tried to divert attention toward other Twitter growth metrics, like the number of people who see tweets embedded across the Web, but investors continue to be fixated on user numbers. On this front, Twitter looks like a maturing company, not a quickly growing one, which is a huge problem given its stated ambition of “building the largest daily audience in the world.”

Grade: C

Stock Performance

Twitter roared out of the gate as a public company, jumping more than 70 percent from its IPO price of $26 per share during the first day of trading. Since then it’s been a rocky ride—the stock climbed above $70 amid a larger market rally at the end of 2013, then dove as low as $30 during the spring. Because investors (and perhaps the company itself) have yet to settle on exactly which metrics should be used to measure success, every quarterly earnings report from the company feels like a gamble. On Thursday, Twitter closed at $40.84. That’s well above the IPO price but perhaps not at the heights early investors dreamt were possible.

Grade: B

New Features

Everyone from tech pundits to Costolo himself have acknowledged that Twitter’s main failing is that it can be hard for new users to understand. The company’s made some cosmetic efforts to address this issue, by helping new users find interesting people to follow and revamping profile pages to make them more visually engaging. However, the core functionality of Twitter as an unending torrent of short messages filled with cryptic, site-specific shorthand remains unchanged. Twitter could make more changes to its core product to make it palatable to a wider audience—by presenting tweets based on an algorithm instead of chronological order, for instance—but such a move risks alienating the power users that provide so much of Twitter’s content.

Grade: C

Financial Performance

Twitter was famously unprofitable when it went public. The company now generates a small profit excluding some line items like stock-based compensation. But investors didn’t expect the company to make money in 2014 and its adjusted earnings have consistently exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. Revenue is also increasing at brisk pace, more than doubling to $361 million in the most recent quarter. The company also managed to increase the average revenue generated per 1,000 timeline views in each successive quarter this year. All in all, Twitter’s doing a good job monetizing its current userbase. The problem is that it hasn’t reached a level of scale that would allow it reach the revenue or profit levels of the biggest Internet companies.

Grade: B

Leadership

From its inception, Twitter has had a tumultuous executive suite, but the hirings and firings have come at a torrid pace since the company went public. In the last year Twitter dumped its chief operating officer, its chief financial officer, its product chief, its vice president of media and its head of news. This ongoing shakeup has not yet led to a significant boost in user growth or a meaningful rethinking of the Twitter product. Instead it’s created confusion about the company’s direction.

Grade: D

Events

Twitter has always shined most during big events, and the company worked hard this year to make the site an even more essential event destination. The biggest push came for the World Cup, when Twitter made a landing page full of curated tweets and live scores. Other big events included the Super Bowl (most tweeted ever), the Grammys and made-for-social TV programming like the ridiculous Sharknado movie. There was also Ellen Degeneres’ celebrity-studded Oscar selfie, which was retweeted more than 3.3 million times and generated gobs of free press for Twitter. The social network has effectively made its users’ conversations a relevant facet of virtually every heavily covered news event, whether it’s the Ebola outbreak or #AlexFromTarget.

Grade: A

Acquisitions

All of Twitter’s big-time acquisitions still appear to be chocked full of potential. MoPub provides the basis for Twitter’s ad exchange and is front and center in the company’s new suite of developer tools to help app makers place ads in their programs. Twitter data licenser Gnip will help the company better monetize its firehose of tweets, which are a sought-after gauge of public sentiment for marketers and academics. And microvideo website Vine, which seemed like a curious oddity when first acquired in 2012, now racks up more than 1 billion video plays per day. Even if the growth of Twitter proper remains slow, the company can tap into other revenue sources.

Grade: B

 

TIME privacy

Twitter Joins Partnership to Improve Handling of Harassment Claims

Nonprofit Women, Action & the Media will vet reports of abuse based on gender

Twitter is partnering with a nonprofit to make it easier for people to report harassment based on gender. The organization Women, Action & the Media will begin collecting reports of harassment via an online form and send the reports it deems valid to Twitter. The new tool is a pilot program, and the organization says it will monitor Twitter’s responses to harassment claims and help the social network improve how it handles complaints.

At least a quarter of female Internet users between 18 and 24 have been sexually harassed or stalked online, according to a Pew Research Center survey. In the past, Twitter has faced criticism for how it deals with harassment towards women on its site. There was an uproar last year when Twitter neutered the ability to block other users, and the social network was forced to quickly revert back to the original blocking feature. The site has also become a feverish battleground for the #GamerGate controversy, through which some women have faced harassment on the social network.

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