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The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

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The Cheater’s Guide to Spotify

Users like Wali Da Great are growing infamous for tricking streaming listeners with falsified metadata

Welcome to The Cheater’s Guide to Spotify, a series about the schemes that rack up streams, money, and infamy on the popular streaming service.

If you’ve just discovered rising Dallas rapper Lil Loaded, and want to hear a bunch of his hits in one convenient spot, Spotify has just the feature for you. Like many popular artists, there’s a “This Is” playlist for the MC, a grouping of his “essential tracks” that the platform’s team creates. However, listen to the playlist for a while, and a few songs sound out of place. In fact, though tracks 12, 14, and 16…


Programmers use the platform to let people see their work and their world

As the world’s most popular livestreaming site—and a multibillion dollar Amazon property — Twitch is hardly new. But in recent years the web giant, which rocketed to success showing gamers at play, has started to branch out. As livestreaming setups have become cheaper and watching the web has continued to displace television time, many more types of streamers have joined the party. Today, Twitch has amateur musicians, home cooks, stream-of-life vloggers, and even ad hoc groups of people trying to help each other learn foreign languages. And now, you can also watch programmers programming.

At first glance, programming seems like…


5 reasons the mobile-streaming service just might work

Ever since Quibi was first announced in 2018, the most common sentiment from journalists, consumers, and even many industry insiders has been skepticism. Critics have ridiculed the startup for raising nearly $2 billion before ever launching a product publicly, for charging too high of a price in the middle of the “streaming wars,” for running an advertisement during the Super Bowl without having a live product, and everything in between. These criticisms actually reveal how little those critics understand the premium video industry. …


Social distancing has given studios an opportunity to test new types of release schedules

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, major theater chains have been closed for weeks and release dates for major blockbuster movies are indefinitely postponed. To offset their losses, studios are creating new ways for viewers to digitally rent movies from the safety of their home. Disney is aggressively releasing films on Disney+ earlier than planned, and Universal is experimenting with $20 streaming rentals. Digital rentals and streaming won’t make the studios as much money as a theatrical release typically does, but they provide some revenue.

The problem, for theaters anyway, is that once viewers get a taste of watching the…


For NVIDIA’s GeForce Now and services like it, the biggest limitation may be what their own servers can handle

Around this time in 2019, game industry observers were already wondering whether existing home internet could handle bandwidth-heavy game streaming services like Google’s Stadia or NVIDIA’s GeForceNow. Now, as millions of gamers find themselves at home with much more free time on their hands, game streaming services are facing such an increase in demand that some companies are scrambling to keep up.

On March 17, four days after President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic, an NVIDIA forum moderator posted that the company had seen a “substantial increase” in both the number of people signing…


It’s not just about throwing massive contracts at top streaming talent

When Facebook launched its gaming creator program in January 2018, the reaction was muted. Facebook Watch, the company’s attempt to take on YouTube, had largely flopped, even in spite of increasingly desperate attempts to get users to click on the tab (the company eventually allowed users to turn off the infamous red dots in November 2019). And there was little indication that Facebook Gaming, even with influential players streaming their gameplay via the creator program, would ever be any different.

And yet two years later, Facebook is the fastest-growing live game streaming platform in the world, with 210% growth in…


An unprecedented marketing campaign, top-tier content, and a low price — what’s missing?

The day after Disney+ launched on November 12, the company made a startling announcement that 10 million users had signed up for the subscription video service. This figure shocked most industry analysts, and amounted to 17% of Netflix’s domestic subscriber base (60.6 million) and more than 33% of Hulu’s most recently announced subscriber base (28 million), all in just one day. More recent reports have suggested that the Disney+ mobile app has been downloaded more than 22 million times since launch.

While it is important to note the distinction between “sign-ups” (accounts registered for a free trial), “downloads,” (one Disney+…


Both have decided bingeing isn’t good for business

Back in 2013, when Netflix released every episode of its first original series, House of Cards, at once, the move seemed like a no-brainer. Thanks to DVR and streaming services, tuning in at 8 p.m. on Monday or else missing out on the episode was already a thing of the past. So, why stick to an archaic, artificial release schedule instead of allowing subscribers to watch at their own pace?

Today, the answer to that question is clear: to make more money. Disney and HBO have demonstrated the business perks of releasing episodes one at a time on their streaming…


It’s just the latest trick in a long history of hacking digital music services to promote your own songs

Welcome to The Cheater’s Guide to Spotify, a series about the schemes that rack up streams, money, and infamy on the popular streaming service.

Last week, I couldn’t get the retro song from the Joker’s first teaser trailer out of my head. So I popped “Joker soundtrack” into Spotify’s search box, clicked the top result, and browsed the resulting playlist until I found the track: Jimmy Durante’s version of “Smile,” an absolute banger from 1965.

As I went back to whatever I was doing, I kept the playlist rolling. “Smile” finished, then a cut from Hildur Guðnadóttir’s original Joker soundtrack…


Why Apple executives were ’thrilled’ anyway

Just one week after the launch of TV+, Apple’s much-anticipated streaming service, the company publicly announced that the remaining three of its four marquee launch shows (SEE, For All Mankind, and Dickinson) had been renewed for second seasons. The fourth, The Morning Show, had already been slated to run for two seasons. Apple executives were apparently “thrilled” with the launch, while critics and consumers seemed to have mixed reactions to both the content and the user interface. One thing is for certain though: Apple TV+ was an atypical launch for a company known for blockbuster product launches.

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