Digital music roundup: Alphabet funding for United Masters, sold and Pandora suffers

United Masters digital music

Alphabet backs digital data-powered record company United Masters, acquired by a Chinese media firm, Pandora’s suffering continues, Spotify buys a digital music production company and YouTube partners with Ticketmaster

Google’s parent company Alphabet made a $70m investment into United Masters last year. The news surfaced earlier this month as the firm emerged from stealth mode. Founded by former Interscope Records president Steve Stoute, United Artists aims to be a new kind of record company, one that combines music, marketing, data and technology to offer artists a direct-to-consumer relationship with their fans across digital services.

Popular lip-syncing video app has been acquired for a reported $1bn by Jinri Toutiao (‘headlines today’), a startup owned by Chinese media company Beijing Bytedance Technology Co. Though only three years old, Shanghai-headquartered is thought to have around 200 million registered users around the world.

Troubled times at Pandora continue, with the news that the steaming company lost almost eight million users in the last nine months. That still puts it ahead of the likes of Apple Music and Tidal, as Forbes notes, but it’s a long way hitting Spotify’s numbers. Meanwhile, despite crossing the one million paid subscribers mark in the third quarter of this year, the period also saw below expectations revenue growth (up 8% to $1.1bn) and a sharp increase in net losses ($474m, an increase of 87%).

Spotify has acquired a Stockholm-based digital music production company that offers artists an online recording and production studio. Soundtrap boasts a team of engineers, designers and music producers and aims to revolutionise the music-making process through its tools for consumers, educators and students.

Looking to cross the physical and digital worlds, YouTube has signed its first ticketing partnership deal. The online video giant – and number one music streaming service in the US, according to Fluent – is working with Ticketmaster in the US to allow artists to more easily publicise forthcoming shows and sell tickets (the only caveat being it appears to only apply to an artist’s official music video).


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