Paid streaming music subscriptions in U.S. top 60M, says RIAA – gpgmail


Streaming music subscriptions continue to drive the U.S. music industry’s growth and revenues, according to a new report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) released this week. The organization said total music revenue grew 18% to $5.4 billion in the first half of 2019, with streaming music accounting for 80% of industry revenues. The report also noted the number of paid subscriptions topped 60 million in the U.S. for the first time.

Streaming revenues grew 26% to $4.3 billion in the first half of the year.

This broad figure includes paid versions of Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and others, as well as digital radio service revenues like those from Pandora, Sirius XM, and other internet radio, plus ad-supported streaming like YouTube, Vevo, and the ad-supported version of Spotify. Screen Shot 2019 09 06 at 3.46.43 PM

Meanwhile, paid subscription streaming is continuing to grow, too, said the RIAA. Year-over-year, paid subscriptions grew 31% to reach $3.3 billion and remain the biggest growth driver for industry revenues.

In the first half of 2019, paid subscriptions made up 62% of all U.S. industry revenues and 77% of U.S. streaming music revenues.

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The number of paid subscriptions to full on-demand streaming services grew 30% to 61.1 million in the first half of the year, at an average pace of over 1 million new subscriptions per month.

This doesn’t include the “Limited Tier” subscriptions like Pandora Plus or that Echo-only subscription to Amazon Music, for example, where various factors limit access to a full catalog across devices or restrict some on-demand features. This category saw $482 million in revenues, up 39% from the year prior.

“Thanks to that breakneck growth, plus continued modest drops in digital downloads and new physical sales, streaming now generates 80% of music business revenues and has fundamentally reshaped how fans find, share, and listen to the songs and artists they love,” wrote RIAA Chairman & CEO Mitch Glazier, about the new figures.

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Ad-supported on-demand services grew 25% year-over-year to $427 million, while digital radio service grew 5% to $552 million in the first half of 2019.

However, the gains made by streaming were somewhat offset by declines in digital downloads, as Glazier noted.

Revenues in this category fell 18% to $462 million in the first half of the year, with digital track sales down 16% year-over-year and digital album revenues down 23%. Overall, digital download only accounted for 8.6% of total industry revenues.

Screen Shot 2019 09 06 at 3.48.11 PM

Physical product revenues grew 5% to $485 million in the first half of 2019, but the RIAA attributed this to a reduction in returns.

 


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SiriusXM undercuts rivals with a $4 per month student subscription – gpgmail


SiriusXM is making its streaming service more affordable for younger consumers with the launch of a new subscription package for college students. While SiriusXM’s Premier package is $12.99 per month, the new streaming-only student offering will be just $4 per month — a 69% discount. This comes in a dollar less than competitors’ student plans, including the $4.99 per month packages from Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, YouTube Music, and even SiriusXM-owned Pandora.

The move represents a big grab for a growing user base who prefers to subscribe to streaming music services rather than make purchases on digital marketplaces, like iTunes or Amazon.

Though the SiriusXM brand has for a long time been associated with being an upgrade option for vehicles, the service has been working to establish itself as a viable option outside the car. In April, it launched a streaming-only subscription for listeners without cars.

Today, SiriusXM streams across phones and tablets, on the web, and at home on connected devices including Amazon Alexa, Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, smart TVs, Sonos speakers, Xbox, and Sony PlayStation.

Like other student packages, SiriusXM’s student plan isn’t a watered-down subscription. It offers access to SiriusXM’s full lineup of music, including its over 200 commercial-free channels, which feature both music and talk radio-style programming as well as sports, entertainment, comedy, lifestyle, news and more.

This also includes some of SiriusXM’s more recent additions, following its $3.5 billion Pandora acquisition last year, which bring Pandora -powered content to its service. For example, the companies this spring launched Pandora NOW, a station that streams on both services that used Pandora listener data to pull in the most listened-to and the fastest-trending new tracks across Pop, Hip Hop, R&B, Dance and Latin.

Plus, students will have access to the over 100 SiriusXM Xtra channels which allow you to skip through songs, the company says.

The service does not include the ability to stream to cars, however — it’s a student version of SiriusXM’s streaming-only plan.

To join the service, students will have to verify their status as a registered student by providing their university or college name upon sign-up. The verification process is handled by SheerID, which also powers verification for others in the space, like YouTube, Spotify and more.

“Today’s college students grew up listening to SiriusXM in their parent’s car, and now we have a package built just for them,” said Matt Epstein, Vice President, SiriusXM Outside the Car, in a statement. “Our Student Premier Package enables students to have their own subscription and continue to enjoy the SiriusXM programming they love in their dorm room, at home or on the go,” he said.

 

 


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MoviePass exposed thousands of unencrypted customer card numbers – gpgmail


Movie ticket subscription service MoviePass has exposed tens of thousands of customer card numbers and personal credit cards because a critical server was not protected with a password.

Mossab Hussein, a security researcher at Dubai-based cybersecurity firm SpiderSilk, found an exposed database on one of the company’s many subdomains. The database was massive, containing 161 million records at the time of writing and growing in real-time. Many of the records were normal computer-generated logging messages used to ensure the running of the service — but many also included sensitive user information, such as MoviePass customer card numbers.

These MoviePass customer cards are like normal debit cards: they’re issued by Mastercard and store a cash balance, which users who sign up to the subscription service can use to pay to watch a catalog of movies. For a monthly subscription fee, MoviePass uses the debit card to load the full cost of the movie, which the customer then uses to pay for the movie at the cinema.

We reviewed a sample of 1,000 records and removed the duplicates. A little over half contained unique MoviePass debit card numbers. Each customer card record had the MoviePass debit card number and its expiry date, the card’s balance, when it was activated.

The database had more than 58,000 records containing card data — and was growing by the minute.

We also found records containing customers’ personal credit card numbers and their expiry date — which included billing information, including names, and postal addresses. Among the records we reviewed, we found records with enough information to make fraudulent card purchases.

Some records, however, contained card numbers that had been masked except for the last four digits.

The database also contained email address and some password data related to failed login attempts. We found hundreds of records containing the user’s email address and presumably incorrectly typed password — which was logged — in the database. We verified this by attempting log into the app with an email address and password that didn’t exist but only we knew. Our dummy email address and password appeared in the database almost immediately.

None of the records in the database were encrypted.

Hussain contacted MoviePass chief executive Mitch Lowe by email — which gpgmail has seen — over the weekend but did not hear back. It was only after gpgmail reached out Tuesday when MoviePass took the database offline.

It’s understood that the database may have been exposed for months, according to data collected by cyberthreat intelligence firm RiskIQ, which first detected the system in late June.

We asked MoviePass several questions — including why the initial email disclosing the security lapse was ignored, for how long the server was exposed, and its plans to disclose the incident to customers and state regulators. When reached, a spokesperson did not comment by our deadline.

MoviePass has been on a rollercoaster since it hit mainstream audiences last year. The company quickly grew its customer base from 1.5 million to 2 million customers in less than a month. But MoviePass took a tumble after critics said it grew too fast, forcing the company to cease operating briefly after the company briefly ran out of money. The company later said it was profitable, but then suspended service, supposedly to work on its mobile app. It now says it has “restored [service] to a substantial number of our current subscribers.”

Leaked internal data from April said its customer numbers went from three million subscribers to about 225,000. And just this month MoviePass reportedly changed user passwords to hobble access for customers who use the service extensively.

Hussain said the company was negligent in leaving data unencrypted in an exposed, accessible database.

“We keep on seeing companies of all sizes using dangerous methods to maintain and process private user data,” Hussain told gpgmail. “In the case of MoviePass, we are questioning the reason why would internal technical teams ever be allowed to see such critical data in plaintext — let alone the fact that the dataset was exposed for public access by anyone,” he said.

The security researcher said he found the exposed database using his company-built web mapping tools, which peeks into non-password protected databases that are connected to the internet, and identifies the owner. The information is privately disclosed to companies, often in exchange for a bug bounty.

Hussain has a history of finding exposed databases. In recent months he found one of Samsung’s development labs exposed on the internet. He also found an exposed backend database belonging to Blind, an anonymity-driven workplace social network, exposing private user data.

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Nike launches a subscription service for kids’ shoes, Nike Adventure Club – gpgmail


Just in time for back-to-school shopping, Nike today officially announced its entry into the subscription service market with the launch of a “sneaker club” for kids called Nike Adventure Club. The new program is specifically designed to make shopping easier for parents who struggle to keep up with their quickly growing children’s shoe needs. Instead of taking kids to the store and trying on pair after pair to try to find something the child likes, the new Nike Adventure Club will instead ship anywhere from four pairs to a dozen pairs of shoes per year, depending on which subscription tier parents choose.

The club serves kids from sizes 4C to 7Y — or roughly ages 2 to 10.

Club pricing begins at $20 per month which will ship out new shoes every 90 days. For $30 per month, kids get 6 pairs per year. And for $50 per month, kids will get new shoes every month — a choice that may be excessive except for the most active kids who were their sneakers every day, play sports, or have a tendency to wreck their shoes in short order.

However, even the minimum of four pairs per year may be too frequent for some parents of older kids.

According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, toddlers under 16 months grow more than one-half a foot size every two months. From 16 to 24 months, they grow an average of one-half a foot size every three months. From 24 to 36 months, it’s one-half a foot size every four months. Then things slow down.

Children over three years old grow one-half a foot size every 4 to 6 months. That means some older kids only need to replace their shoes twice per year, outside of excessive wear and tear.

That said, Nike allows parents to upgrade or downgrade their subscription at any time, or even put it on pause.

Once signed up, parents will receive an email with a selection of over 100 styles of Nike and Converse shoes to choose from, which they can review with their kids. They then pick which shoes they want to receive, and these are shipped to the home in a box with the child’s name on it. This box also includes an “adventure kit” filled with activities and games for parents to do with their kids, stickers, plus a small gift. The kit is created in partnership with the nonprofit KaBoom, which is focused on encouraging kids to lead healthy lifestyles.

If the shoes are the wrong size, exchanges are free within a week of delivery.

Perhaps the best part of the program is the recycling component.

Twice a year, Nike will ship out a prepaid bag where parents can send back their kids’ worn shoes, which will either be donated to families in need if in good condition or recycled through Nike Grind, a program that separates out the rubber, foam, leather, and textile blends, grinds them into granules, and incorporates those into new products including footwear, apparel, and play surfaces.

“We see Nike Adventure Club sits as having a unique place within Nike, and not just for it being the first sneaker club for kids,” says Dave Cobban, VP of Nike Adventure Club, in a statement about the launch. “It provides a wide range of options for kids, while at the same time, it removes a friction point for parents who are shopping on their behalf.”

Nike has been testing the program since 2017, when it was known as Easy Kicks. The test reached 10,000 members, the company said.

Nike isn’t the first to launch a subscription focused on kids — and big retailers have taken note. This year, Foot Locker took a minority stake in kids’ clothing subscription Rockets of Awesome and Walmart partnered with children’s clothing startup Kidbox.

Stitch Fix also offers a kids’ styling service. And Amazon offers a try-before-you-buy shopping service without a subscription, Prime Wardrobe. Amazon’s variation offers both girls and boys options where parents can fill a box with apparel, shoes, and accessories for home try-on and easy returns.

Nike’s Adventure Club is launching today but is easing in new customers via a waitlist option.


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