TIME Technology & Media

How Spotify Wants You to Avoid Apple’s Extra Fees

Spotify logo displayed on an iPhone.
Daniel Bockwoldt—picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images Spotify logo displayed on an iPhone.

Paying for Spotify through Apple actually costs extra bucks

Spotify wants to save you from paying extra charges to Apple.

Music streaming service Spotify’s ad-free paid tier costs $9.99 per month, but because Apple charges a 30% fee for purchases made through its App Store, customers end up paying $12.99 if they set the Spotify iOS app to auto-renew their monthly subscription.

Spotify is planning to email its customers to tell them how to fix this, The Verge reports.

To avoid that extra fee, Spotify customers first need to cancel their subscription through iTunes. Then, once their current subscription has lapsed (they may have to wait until the end of the month), they can sign up again, this time through Spotify’s web service.

While on first glance Spotify’s move seems like just a helpful gesture, it’s also a shot at Apple, which just launched its own music streaming service that competes with Spotify. Apple Music costs $9.99 a month after the free three-month trial period, without users having to worry about any extra fees.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Music

Apple Music: Here’s What the Reviewers Say

What works—and what doesn't

Apple Music, the company’s new music streaming service, launches Tuesday. Here are some of the reviews we’ve seen so far:

Walt Mossberg, re/code: Rich, Robust — But Confusing.“Would I pay $10 a month — $120 a year — to use it? My answer is a tentative yes, with some caveats. Apple has built a handsome, robust app and service that goes well beyond just offering a huge catalog of music by providing many ways to discover and group music for a very wide range of tastes and moods. But it’s also uncharacteristically complicated by Apple standards, with everything from a global terrestrial radio station to numerous suggested playlists for different purposes in different places. And the company offers very little guidance on how to navigate its many features. It will take time to learn it. And that’s not something you’re going to want to do if all you’re looking for is to lean back and listen.”

Harley Brown, Spin: What Works (and What Doesn’t). “The first thing that happens when Apple Music launches actually looks pretty familiar to anyone who used Beats Music: circles representing different genres (Indie, Electronic, Oldies, Alternative, etc.) float into view on the screen, and users tap or double-tap the ones they like and love, respectively. Once those categories have been nailed down, the artists in them — Tame Impala for Indie, Porter Robinson for Electronic, and B.B. King for Blues, to pick a smattering of options presented to me —and then, ideally, you’re done. For Apple Music’s intents and purposes, your musical identity has been established, at least until if/when you decide to change it later.”

Edward Baig, USA Today: Visually appealing with creative playlists. “Apple has high hopes for the Connect feature that connects artists to fans. The artists you follow may post extra music and videos, photos, in-progress song lyrics, info on tour dates and more. Having indicated an interest in classical music, I found myself connected to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra where conductor Sir Simon Rattle in a video discussed streaming classical music. For all its promise, the Connect area seems pretty thin at the outset.”

Christina Warren, Mashable: It’s all about curation, curation, curation. “Much of the Apple Music experience really is Beats Music. And this is a good thing. I always thought Beats had the best discovery mechanism of the streaming services. With live radio, human curated playlists and access to your iTunes purchase history, I’m really liking Apple Music. Will it replace Spotify for diehard subscribers? That’s a more complicated question — and one I plan to address in Mashable‘s full review. For now, however, the For Me section alone has made me excited about music for the first time in a long time. And that’s a good thing.”

More as they come in.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Technology & Media

8 Inspiring Instagram Accounts to Follow and Learn From

instagram logo
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Taking a peek at quotes and photos that will inspire and challenge you

Typically, when we discuss social media networks, it’s in regard to marketing our businesses, engaging with our target markets or some other business-related use. Instagram, while effective for marketing in some situations, serves as a source of something every entrepreneur can never have enough of — inspiration.

Being able to peek into the daily lives of successful individuals through images and 15-second video clips can provide you with constant inspiration as well as give you that extra motivation when you feel exhausted or frustrated. You can even think outside the box and copy their strategies to make money with Instagram yourself!

Here are eight profiles that I recommend every entrepreneur follow and learn from.

1. Richard Branson

Branson (@richardbranson) is an individual that every entrepreneur looks up to — he is highly successful, constantly innovating and always having fun. He updates his Instagram profile with a healthy mix of motivational quotes, personal travels and adventure, as well as business related activities.

Does Branson travel to exotic locations and live a life full of luxuries? Yes, but he also works extremely hard — and his high energy is summed up well with this quote: “To stand still today is to go backwards — and quickly.”

2. Pete Cashmore

As the founder and CEO of Mashable, you would assume that Cashmore (@petecashmore) would have an extremely creative Instagram account — and he does. The pictures that are posted don’t feel staged and they aren’t trying to sell the viewer anything. They paint a real picture of what the day-to-day life of a successful CEO is like.

There are pictures taken while out and about, a few selfies and let’s not forget about food pictures — the images closely resemble what the average Instagram user posts, except the locations are more exotic and the food is more expensive.

Mashable comes to London! 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧

A photo posted by Pete Cashmore (@petecashmore) on

3. Mark Cuban

It seems like Cuban (@mcuban) makes every entrepreneur list, and rightfully so. He is extremely successful and someone that aspiring entrepreneurs look up to. I included his Instagram profile on this list for one main reason though, and that it to show you that a work-life balance is possible, even for the busiest entrepreneurs.

A quick look at Cuban’s Instagram will reveal pictures at business functions, at the gym and with his family. This is proof that there is always time for health and fitness as well as family — it just takes dedication and impeccable time management.

Hanging at McKinney Avenue Tavern w big AL

A photo posted by Mark Cuban (@mcuban) on

4. Timothy Sykes

Sykes (@timothysykes) is a penny stock expert that turned $12,415 into more than $4.2 million and now teaches his strategy to students all over the world. He is also a fellow Entrepreneur.com contributor and happens to have an extremely popular Instagram account.

Sykes takes pictures of his travels around the world. He is a great example of living the dream. He took his passion and what he was good at — trading penny stocks — and turned it into a successful business. Look at Sykes pictures and know that you can have the same if you apply yourself and aren’t afraid of hard work.

5. GapYearEscape.com

This is an account owned by the entrepreneur behind the website GapYearEscape.com (@gapyearescape), Amar, who has been traveling the world since 2009. He shares images from his world travels and posts a good mix of breathtaking scenery as well as shots of him partaking in adventure.

While some Instagram pages can be construed as straight bragging, this account isn’t a boasting account, it’s just inspiring. It serves as great motivation to those that are truly intrigued by the possibilities of traveling the world.

The #Galapagos isn't just about the incredible wildlife, it has some amazing beaches too!

A photo posted by Amar (@gapyearescape) on

6. Zig Ziglar

I’m a huge fan of motivational quotes — and Ziglar’s (@thezigziglar) Instagram profile is a constant source of new ones that I haven’t seen before and old classics that still provide inspiration every single time I read them.

By following this Instagram account you will see a steady flow of motivational quotes that can help inspire you along your entrepreneurial journey. While these motivational quotes can provide personal inspiration, don’t keep them to yourself — share them with your team and inspire them as well.

A photo posted by Zig Ziglar (@thezigziglar) on

7. Dennis Crowley

One quick look at Crowley’s (@dens) Instagram would lead many to believe it was an account belonging to an active outdoorsman that loved to play golf and participate in any physical activity, and not the founder of Foursquare.

Crowley’s pictures are inspirational because you get the sense that he is just one of the guys. Billionaire entrepreneurs are just like everyone else — the only difference is they put in the hard work and didn’t quit, no matter what obstacles were thrown in their way.

8. Entrepreneur Magazine

You already read Entrepreneur.com, and you should also be following Entrepreneur’s Twitter account — why not also follow the number-one source of entrepreneurial insight’s Instagram account (@entrepreneur) as well?

Along with great quotes and motivational images, the account also features behind-the-scenes images and video clips of some of the most successful and brilliant entrepreneurs while in the company’s office for interviews. Expect some interactive contests as well, like May’s Photo-a-Day Challenge, currently featured.

Bo knows.

A photo posted by Entrepreneur Magazine (@entrepreneur) on

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

More from Entrepreneur.com:

TIME Technology & Media

Verizon to Acquire AOL for $4.4 Billion

Verizon Communications announced a $4.4 billion deal Tuesday to acquire dial-up pioneer turned media company AOL at $50 a share.

The telecoms giant framed the deal as an opportunity to expand streaming video services over its wireless networks. AOL combines a video-rich suite of news sites, which include The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget, with streaming technology that delivers high quality video over the web.

“At Verizon, we’ve been strategically investing in emerging technology, including Verizon Digital Media Services and OTT [over-the-top video], that taps into the market shift to digital content and advertising,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said in a statement. “AOL’s advertising model aligns with this approach, and the advertising platform provides a key tool for us to develop future revenue streams.”

AOL shares climbed by nearly 19% in pre-market trading Tuesday.

TIME Technology & Media

Music Streaming Website Grooveshark Shuts Down

The music stops for the pioneering website

The online streaming website Grooveshark lost its battle with the music industry on Thursday, shutting down immediately as part of a settlement agreement.

The company was been being sued by a slew of record companies, including a $15 billion suit from Universal Music Group.

According a notice posted on the company’s website, they must also wipe clean any records of copyrighted material, hand over their online and mobile platforms, and surrender their patents and intellectual property.

Grooveshark also issued an unequivocal apology.

“Despite our best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation.”

A March 25 ruling by a U.S. Federal Judge granted EMI Music North America a motion for summary judgement on claims Grooveshark had violated its copyrights, a decision that could have found the web company liable to pay upwards of $420 million.

Grooveshark was founded in 2006 by three college students at the University of Florida and for years has been a thorn in the side of major record labels who claimed the website was illegal.

TIME Companies

Social Networking App Secret Is Closing Down

David Byttow (L) and Chrys Bader-Wechseler, founders of Secret, at the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin on March 9, 2014.
Barbara Ortutay—AP David Byttow (L) and Chrys Bader-Wechseler, founders of Secret, at the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin on March 9, 2014.

It's getting carried to the grave

Secret, the year-old social networking app that attracted 15 million users and aimed to bring anonymity to web interactions, is shuttering.

“After a lot of thought and consultation with our board, I’ve decided to shut down Secret,” founder and CEO David Byttow posted on the blogging platform Medium on Wednesday afternoon. “Unfortunately, Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company, so I believe it’s the right decision for myself, our investors and our team.”

Secret entered the tech scene with a lot of buzz early last year. In its short lifespan, the app let users gossip, kvetch, and post anonymous messages. Since identities remained, well, secret, complaints of cyber bullying and abusive behavior abounded.

Despite, Byttow’s attempts last year to quell such concerns, the app’s content moderation and filtering did not pass muster with Fortune when we tested it last summer. “Secret needs to do better. And fast,” senior editor Dan Primack wrote at the time. “Perhaps as fast as it’s growing.”

That growth curve apparently took a plummet recently. “The app has reportedly been hemorrhaging users as of late,” BuzzFeed News reporter Brendan Klinkenberg writes, despite the app undergoing a huge redesign at the end of last year.

The company had raised around $35 million in three rounds of VC funding, including a $25 million infusion in mid-2014 that reportedly included $6 million for company founders Byttow and Chrys Bader-Wechseler. Investors included Index Ventures and Redpoint Ventures (neither of which has yet commented). At the time, Secret was valued at around $100 million.

Byttow says that he will spend much of his time in the coming weeks helping to find other job opportunities for his core team. He plans to return the company’s remaining venture capital funding to its investors.

“I believe the right thing to do is to return the money rather than attempt to pivot,” he writes. “Innovation requires failure, and I believe in failing fast in order to go on and make only new and different mistakes.”

Fortune has also reached out to the company and its CEO. We await his reply.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Technology & Media

Why Facebook Isn’t Ready to Roll Out Video Ads — Yet

Facebook logo shown on an iPhone 5s.
Lukas Schulze—AP

Investors are hungry for more details, yet Facebook doesn’t seem to be in a rush to share

A year ago, Facebook was not a destination for video content. Now, the social media company sees four billion video streams each day, as it noted in its first quarter earnings call today. Almost overnight, Facebook became a video juggernaut. And three quarters of those views occur on mobile.

Video on Facebook has the company’s shareholders excited. The category is seen by many as the holy grail of online advertising. Sight, sound, and motion is a more compelling sales opportunity than a flat banner ad, and advertisers are willing to pay more for it. But Facebook has said little about its efforts to monetize video ads. Pitch decks have leaked. Speculation has abounded. Facebook even held a secret video sales event today, meant to capture advertiser budgets ahead of the “NewFronts,” the digital version of the broadcast industry’s programming “Upfronts.”

In the question-and-answer portion of Facebook’s earnings call, investors repeatedly asked about its plans to make money from video ads. Will Facebook attract big TV advertisers to its platform? How much money will Facebook invest in that platform? What’s the breakdown of video ads versus regular ads? How many of those four billion video views are ads? Will Facebook engage in long-form video? Will it compensate professional video creators?

But CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg, and CFO Dave Wehner dodged most of those questions. Listeners learned precious few details.

Sandberg tamped down expectations of video becoming a major source of new revenue. Video ads may not contribute much incremental growth, she noted, because they sometimes take the place of a regular Facebook ad. In other words, a brand a looking to buy video ads may simply purchase a sponsored video in place of purchasing a sponsored post. Both sponsored videos and sponsored posts appear in Facebook’s stream of content. These ads are purchased programmatically through an auction, so there is no price difference between a sponsored video post and a regular sponsored post.

Left to speculate, Josh Olson, a technology analyst with Edward Jones, said he estimates video ads will contribute 5% in incremental revenue in 2015. Facebook does not appear to be in a rush to monetize its explosive growth in video. “They’re taking their time getting there,” he says.

Update: This morning Facebook announced one new detail: Anthology, a program that pairs brands with media partners who will create video ad materials for them to promote on Facebook. Partners include Vice Media, Vox Media, Tastemade, Oh My Disney, The Onion, College Humor, and Funny or Die.

 

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Companies

This Is the Company Behind the Coolest New Star Wars Character

BB-8 Star Wars
Alberto E. Rodriguez—2015 Getty Images BB-8 onstage during Star Wars Celebration 2015 on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California.

Iger is credited with discovering the tech company responsible for the robot character’s movement

A little-known startup got a big shout-out at this week’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Calif., thanks to Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Iger, whose media empire bought Star Wars creator Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in 2012, kept a low profile at the bi-annual gathering of the space saga’s hard-core fans. But he was sitting right in the front row of the massive convention center auditorium where a star-studded panel took place on Thursday morning, the first day of the four-day-long event.

One by one, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, director J.J. Abrams, actors Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill and others took the stage to disclose more details on the next installment of Star Wars, much to the delight of the lightsaber-toting crowd. When an adorable free-rolling robot named BB-8—a new character in the upcoming installment of the series—joined them in the spotlight, it too received a fervent round of applause. The audience went even wilder when Kennedy, who took over for company founder George Lucas in 2012, mentioned that BB-8’s graceful (and real-life) maneuverings were at least partly enabled by a small company discovered by none other than Iger.

Kennedy didn’t mention the name of the startup on stage, but when asked in an interview with Fortune she revealed that the company is Boulder, Colo.-based Sphero, which bills itself as a “connected play company, fusing digital and physical play by creating toys and robots that you control with a smart device.”

It turns out that the startup, headed by CEO Paul Berberian, was selected for Disney’s accelerator program last year, along with nine other companies. According to Disney’s website, the three-month-long program picks tech startups who want to “make an impact on the world of media and entertainment,” giving them upwards of $120,000 in investment capital. It also matches each startup with a mentor from within Disney’s executive ranks. Sphero’s mentor? You guessed it: Iger. When the tech-savvy CEO saw Sphero’s technology in action, he realized the potential application for BB-8 and connected the startup with the masterminds of the Star Warscharacters.

Executives at Sphero couldn’t be reached for comment, but the company’s website describes its signature product as an app-controlled ball that does it all. The same underlying technology, which was licensed to create the version of BB-8 that graced the stage at the Star Wars Celebration (Kennedy calls it the “Red Carpet BB-8″), allows the little bot to glide around on a ball-like structure, literally running circles around R2-D2.

What’s interesting is that Sphero also appears to be working with Disney on a Star Wars-themed toy (who wouldn’t want their own, fully-functional BB-8 rolling around their home?) It’s also worth noting that while Iger’s involvement in the film franchise has often been behind the scenes, he is deeply involved in many ways. At the same time, he’s managed to assuage the fears of apprehensive fans—Iger has a good track record when it comes to acquiring companies and letting them be, and so far he has protected Star Wars from any overt “Disneyfication.” He also has an admirable history withmaking bold bets on up-and-coming technologies, across Disney’s diverse divisions.

Sphero, of course, is still a relative unknown, and it’s not clear what other applications its technology may have within Disney or elsewhere. But after this week, the little company behind the adorable new robot might get a little more attention—and the effusive, laser-focused adulation of the Star Wars masses.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Technology & Media

An Ad-Free Paid Version of YouTube Is Definitely Coming

An employee at the Google Inc.'s YouTube Space studio in Tokyo, Japan.
Bloomberg via Getty Images An employee holding recording equipment walks past Google Inc.'s YouTube logo.

The service is expected to launch by the end of the year

YouTube said Wednesday it will soon launch a new subscription-based service that will let users watch videos on the website without annoying ads interrupting the clips.

The streaming video website, which is owned by Google, reportedly disclosed the planned paid service in an e-mail sent to producers of top video content and obtained by various media outlets. The e-mail did not say how much the subscription would cost or when it would become available. However, Bloomberg cited an anonymous source who said the paid service would be available before the end of this year.

YouTube also reportedly plans to update its terms of service for video partners, effective in June, to give them a 55% cut of subscription revenues, according to TechCrunch. Current YouTube content creators — including social media stars like Michelle Phan — already get a similar share of ad revenues.

Last fall, reports surfaced claiming YouTube was considering an ad-free, paid service as part of its effort to boost revenue (and, eventually, turn a profit), but the company had offered no confirmation until now.

The subscription will be Google and YouTube’s latest attempt to diversify beyond the ad-based business model for the more than a billion users who visit the streaming video site monthly. In November, YouTube introduced a test version of Music Key, the website’s ad-free, subscription music service that will cost $9.99 a month. YouTube already offers top-flight videos on certain paid channels and users can also rent or buy moves through the site.

Wednesday’s disclosure comes at a time when Google and YouTube are facing stiffer competition than ever from rival online streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu. Netflix, in particular, has been adding original content including television series and movie deals with big names like Adam Sandler to better compete with more traditional media outlets. Amazon has followed suit, adding critically acclaimed original content to its own Prime Instant Video service.

Meanwhile, traditional media outlets like HBO and CBS are also building their own subscription-based services, while startups such as Vessel — a paid video site created by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar — are taking aim directly at YouTube’s users.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

 

TIME Technology & Media

11 Twitter Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

The Twitter logo displayed on a mobile device.
Bethany Clarke—Getty Images The Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile device.

startupcollective

Question: What is one mistake small businesses and startups make on Twitter constantly that I should avoid?

Starting a Tweet With an ‘@’ Sign

“Twitter is best when it’s a conversation. Too often, startups will engage in that conversation by writing directly to another person or brand. Starting a tweet with a peoples’ names (i.e., “@magoosh, thank you!”) means only folks who are your fans and their fans will see the interaction. By putting a period before the “@,” your full audience will see the conversation.” — Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

Using a Different Hashtag Every Time

“It’s important to develop a consistent, branded hashtag so your following knows the best way to play along. By using a different hashtag every time, your brand is potentially missing out on an opportunity to have its message spread more effectively across Twitter.”

Sounding Off

“Too many businesses treat Twitter like a bull horn. Twitter is most effective as a listening tool and for providing followers with relevant communication. Leave status updates to sharing links and images or asking engaging questions.” — Adam Root, SocialCentiv

Tweeting Infrequently

“Next time you’re on Twitter, count how many tweets come through your feed within 10 minutes. Due to the volume on Twitter, your posts are unlikely to be seen if you’re only tweeting every so often. Instead, come up with three to five ways to talk about the same thing, schedule your tweets to go live multiple times a day and keep your stream topped up. That way, you’ll have a presence.”

Not Building Relationships With Brand Advocates

“Identify customers who are regularly interacting with you on Twitter, and go beyond retweeting their mentions. Specifically thank them, and start conversations about the industry or their work. By remembering key details about them and referencing them later (what products they own or certain projects they’re proud of), you’ll inspire brand loyalty.” — Tracy Foster, ONA

Treating Twitter and Other Social Networks the Same

“Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media are not all created equal, and you should not be treating them as such. Quit tweeting the same thing you posted on Instagram and Facebook. Sure, there are outliers, and it makes sense, but you should be telling me a different part of your brand’s story on each platform.” — Blake Miller, Think Big Partners

Forgetting the ‘Social’ in Social Media

“Many companies forget the “social” part of social media and blast news about themselves and their products. Think about it in real world terms: You can’t walk into a party and start yelling about how cool your own party is. Take the time to get to know the people, join their conversations organically and figure out what about your business would interest them. Engagement goes both ways.” — Lauren Perkins, Perks Consulting

Constantly Retweeting

“Avoid constantly retweeting someone’s content. Yes, you might get followers, but no one will read your tweets because they are not original.” — Yuriy Boykiv, Gravity Media

Talking About Your Business All the Time

“With the possible exception of your family members, no one is following your business on Twitter because they want to be constantly advertised to. No more than 20 percent of your tweets should be promotional in nature. The other 80 percent should add value to your followers in some way.” — Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

Posting Controversial Tweets Just to Gain Attention

“Being controversial for the sake of gaining attention is not a good way to gain positive attention. Keep your tweets relevant, on point and conservative.” — Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

Treating Twitter Like It’s a Promotional Channel

“Twitter is somewhere people go to interact with their friends and to be social. If you treat Twitter as a place to dump blog posts and press releases and never interact with your followers, you’ll never be successful on Twitter. Think about what kind of content your customers want to see, and provide it — even if not all of it’s immediately beneficial to you.” — Emerson Spartz, Spartz

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launchedStartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

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