Spotify introduces video originals, podcasts and running tempo feature

21 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Spotify Expands to Include Video and Predictive Playlists.

When the Swedish startup Spotify arrived stateside in 2011, there was nothing else like it: a music-streaming service that offered instant access to just about any song you could think of, all for free—and, somehow, all perfectly legal.The company says it wants to help people create a ‘soundtrack for their day’ that includes not only music but videos, including a daily comedy show fronted by Amy Poehler, newscasts and other content. ‘We want Spotify to help soundtrack your life by offering an even wider world of entertainment with an awesome mix of the best music, podcasts and video delivered to you throughout your day.To prove it, the, er, music-streaming company today announced a slew of new features that will now be accessible within the Spotify app, including video content, podcasts, and even original running music created by Spotify to match your individual running tempo. Spotify enters a competitive market for video streaming that is dominated by Netflix, Amazon.com, and Hulu, but it’s getting more crowded of late with the arrival of companies like HBO.

Spotify, which has come to dominate the world of subscription streaming music services, announced a series of changes to its mobile app on Wednesday, moving into new realms of media distribution just ahead of the expected arrival of a competing service from Apple. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and several top-ranking execs announced the changes at a celebrity-studded event in New York City that featured appearances by the stars of Comedy Central’s Broad City, which will be releasing clips through Spotify’s new video tool; a live performance by soul artist D’Angelo; and a brief interview with Tiesto, who worked with Spotify to create its new running feature.

Perhaps more importantly, the features promise to give advertisers new ways to target the 45-million-odd Spotify users who don’t subscribe to its ad-free premium service. • Spotify Now is a new tab that serves up custom playlists designed to suit various moods, activities, and times of day, like “Morning Commute,” “Workday,” and “Early Evening.” Spotify says the playlists will include both human-curated selections and automated recommendations based on your own music and preferences. Spotify’s service is a ‘logical extension of the company’s success in digital music streaming, since these are complementary businesses that use much of the same technology infrastructure, marketing expertise, and vendor relationships,’ said Paul Verna, senior analyst at research firm eMarketer. The new features on Spotify include podcasts and short video clips as well as playlists that anticipate what kind of music or media a user might be interested in, based on the time of day.

The announcement, which ran an hour long and mimicked the kind of theatrics most commonly associated with that little outfit in Cupertino, was live-streamed to countries around the world. This feels like a direct response to Spotify’s rivals, notably Beats Music and Songza, which were acquired last year by Apple and Google, respectively. Verna said the maneuver suggests that Spotify ‘sees a business opportunity in digital video advertising, which is a much larger and faster-growing sector than Spotify’s core business of digital music.’ ‘Every week millions of you lace up and hit the road to Spotify. In one symbol of how closely it competes with Apple, Spotify also announced a partnership with Nike, which has been closely associated with Apple and iTunes for years.

In just a few weeks, at its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple is expected to announce the relaunch of Beats Music—the Spotify rival acquired in its $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics—as its own Apple-branded streaming music service. Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, the creators and stars of the Comedy Central show “Broad City,” joked about serving as video distractions on their phones, and the singer D’Angelo played with a band that included the Roots drummer Questlove and the bassist Pino Palladino. As with all Apple product announcements, this one will inevitably (and maybe even rightly) come with a healthy heaping of hype, which Apple users tend to gobble right up. This feature won’t be limited to the Spotify mobile app: The company says it’s partnering with Nike and RunKeeper to integrate Spotify Running into their fitness apps.

Not one of Spotify’s new features is revolutionary, and I doubt they’ll be enough to keep Apple from poaching some of the company’s subscribers when it launches its new, Beats-based streaming service this summer. Spotify’s biggest advantage over its competitors is its freemium model: No one else can match the depth of its free service, and that free service in turn serves as a powerful loss leader for the company’s subscription business. So, it seems Spotify’s thinking is that if users can do more things on the app—listen to their favorite podcasts, watch original videos from VICE and other publisher partners (including WIRED), and even, if you’re a barista, control the playlist at Starbucks—they’ll rarely have a reason to leave Spotify. “I’d like for users to start Spotify in the morning and not really pause it until they go to sleep,” says chief product officer Gustav Söderström. “That would be ideal.” In all likelihood, Spotify users are going to like these features. At a time when Spotify’s subscription business is facing unprecedented competition, it’s going to have a heck of a time increasing that paying-customer base.

Over time, it will learn more about what that user likes in order to help her discover music, and now video, more easily. “Spotify has always been about when you know exactly what you wanted to play, because you went to the search box for it,” Söderström says. “We’re trying to change that.” Other features, like the running tool that uses your phone’s accelerometer to pick songs for your particular pace, are also pretty unique among the major streaming services. To distinguish themselves and hold on to customers, music services have come to emphasize the value of playlists that can automatically supply songs, making it as easy as possible for a listener to plug in without feeling overwhelmed by endless choices. Ek said was vital to the development of its new features. “Playlists are the new radio,” said Jay Frank, an independent record company executive and consultant with the firm DigMark, “and success in this area will determine the streaming winner.”

Every time we increase engagement the likelihood people tell a friend increases.” And yet, the question here is not whether Spotify users will like Spotify more, but whether expanding the platform in this way will actually convince non-Spotify users to sign up. It’s targeting a market that everyone from Apple to YouTube to Jay-Z want so badly that consumers already have an overabundance of good options in front of them.

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Finding the ‘Joy’ in Jennifer Lawrence

20 Jan 2016 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Joy’ review: Jennifer Lawrence cleans up in enjoyable biopic.

Writer-director David O. Their latest collaboration — following in the footsteps of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle — is a biographical picture about the life and times of Joy Mangano.Jennifer Lawrence groans when she’s asked about singing the classic Nancy and Frank Sinatra duet Something Stupid with co-star Edgar Ramirez in her new film Joy. “David [O Russell, the movie’s director] texted me last night to ask if he could put it on the soundtrack and this is what I texted him back,” the actor says as she digs around for her mobile phone and reads out her response verbatim. “‘David, no!!!’ and it is three exclamation marks.In a very abbreviated nutshell, that actually happened to Joy Mangano, 59, the fabulously successful Long Island entrepreneur/inventor and HSN pitchwoman whose rags-to-riches journey started with the invention of a mop.

Russell has made three kinds of movies: offbeat romances (“Flirting With Disaster”), surreal comedies (“I Heart Huckabees”) and dramas about dysfunctional yet appealing families (“The Fighter”). In real life, Mangano is the Long Island housewife and inventor who became famous and eventually rich after bouts of near-bankruptcy, by creating and marketing her Miracle Mop. Out Boxing Day in Australia, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence in the fictionalised life story of Joy Mangano, a single mum from Long Island who made her fortune selling a mop. On Christmas Day, “Joy,” a movie inspired by her struggles as a divorced, single mother turned mogul by way of that mop, will open at movie theaters across America.

This was before she hooked up with the giant Home Shopping Network, becoming their most effective pitch person and eventually selling her parent company, Ingenious Designs, to HSN. Gross, I can’t listen to it; I have to go to bed.’ And I said yes, but it’s a groaning, reluctant yes.” It’s the kind of unfiltered moment you come to expect when interviewing Lawrence, who may now be one of the most famous actors on the planet but still blurts out whatever she’s thinking with such self-deprecating charm it’s impossible not to be, well, charmed.

Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Miracle Mop inventor and QVC pitchwoman Joy Mangano glues the movie together, but it threatens to unravel at any time. Lawrence, 25, looks genuinely surprised when complimented about how unchanged she seems from our earlier interviews before the fame and Oscars. “But there would be no reason to change,” she says with a shrug. “I just have a job and I love my job. In the film, Lawrence’s Mangano is a colourful character, a single mom with a unique relationship and friendship with her ex-husband, and an enterprising woman who parlays her creativity into an incredibly successful business.

Mom (Virginia Madsen) stays in her bedroom and watches soap operas, until she falls for a Haitian plumber (Jimmy Jean-Louis) who fixes a hole in her bedroom floor. She landed minor roles on TV shows such as Monk, Cold Case and Medium before her 2010 indie film Winter’s Bone led to her becoming the second youngest best actress Oscar nominee in history. This is true even when the film tilts off its rocker with a bit of Russell-esque madness built into the screenplay, and with the director failing to always keep the energy going. That resulted in not only a string of critically acclaimed films, an Academy Award and another Oscar nomination, but also her very own mega-franchise as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

Joy’s grandma (endearing Diane Ladd) delivers messages of empowerment and smooths over constant fights, but she’s opposed by the money-grubbing rich woman (Isabella Rossellini) who dates Joy’s dad and sends negative messages about her. Lawrence’s endearing habit of speaking her mind resulted in a controversial essay she penned on Lena Dunham’s website about her discovery during the Sony hacks that she was being paid less “than the lucky people with dicks” on her recent films, including American Hustle. “I completely understand when people say actors shouldn’t talk about politics and things they don’t know about, but this was my gender at stake and it was being threatened with unfairness and I thought, ‘What is the point of having this voice if it’s not to speak out for myself and for everyone else who can’t?’,” she says unapologetically.

Upon learning that Lawrence would be playing her mom, Miranne says, “I braced myself so I wouldn’t fall on the floor.” As for Mangano, she says Lawrence playing her “made me feel old, number one. Lawrence hangs out with a posse of celebrity girlfriends, including Amy Schumer and singer Adele, but the reason is simple. “The friendship gets expedited a lot when you meet someone you know beyond a shadow of a doubt has no agenda,” she says. Draining her savings and taking out loans, she started off small, selling her mops to local boat owners. “She persuaded QVC to take a thousand, but sales were poor and they tried to send them back,” says Mason. “She suggested letting her demonstrate it herself, and the channel agreed.” Sales skyrocketed and Mangano’s career as a QVC pitch woman was launched. That’s so amazing there aren’t even words.” Mangano and her three children didn’t view “Joy” until the Dec. 13 premiere in Manhattan, though a family outing to see “Trainwreck” included a trailer.

This is, after all, the self-confessed reality-show junkie who confessed in a recent Vogue interview that on the night of her 25th birthday party, friends surprised her with a visit from reality queen Kris Jenner, who presented her with a cake inscribed, ‘Happy Birthday, you piece of shit!’ The only time she seems tongue-tied is when asked about her relationship status, after a four-year stint with X-Men: First Class co-star Nicholas Hoult and a year with Coldplay singer Chris Martin before their breakup earlier this year. “Next!” Lawrence says in a no-nonsense voice, pausing as she decides if she’ll continue that thought. For one thing, Mangano’s childhood is not that interesting for a film, despite some flashbacks to her as a youngster (when she is played by 10-year-old Isabella Cramp, who does actually look like we imagine Lawrence could have at the same age). A satire on the acquisitiveness of the public? (Here, QVC foists unnecessary things on gullible viewers who could better save their money.) Russell doesn’t seem to know. And, of course, the grave ending would be a lie: Mangano is very much alive at the age of 59, still inventing, still pitching products, still a superstar of the American home shopping universe. There’s the Clothes It All luggage system, essentially a rolling suitcase with a removable garment bag, and the Super Chic vacuum, which releases fragrance into the air.

If I even casually say something to a reporter, that quote haunts me for the rest of my life,” she says, “so I am never, ever, ever talking about boys again!” I don’t think any of us brought enough tissues!” A good portion of the film was shot last winter in Boston, and though the always-busy Mangano was twice scheduled to visit the set, snowstorms made travel impossible. He has mixed genres successfully before, as in the anti-war comedy-drama “Three Kings,” but the blender often grinds to a halt in “Joy.” Just as we’re getting used to the realism of Mangano’s fight for respect, Russell photographs Rossellini as if she were a gargoyle.

One of her creations, the thin and velvet-covered Huggable Hanger, remains a bestseller for HSN, at more than 300 million sold, and was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. Yet in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Cooper, De Niro and Russell all supported her with fine work; here they lay back and make the movie a one-ring circus where she has to be acrobat, bareback rider and clown.

He had a presence all of his own.” At one point, Miranne says, “Jennifer grabbed Joy’s hand and said to David, ‘Look at the nails, a French manicure.’ ” (That manicure is a Mangano signature.) Lawrence revealed that in studying for her part as Joy, she watched recordings of the inventor’s early pitches on HSN, including ones for “Huggable Hangers” and found her so compelling that she wanted to buy them on the spot. There is something special when creative people get together.” Mangano’s take on Lawrence? “She’s beyond her years, so brilliant, hysterical and so talented.

Critically, Russell’s sense of wonder and beauty turns elegiac moments — especially when Joy Mangano becomes fully realized as a woman and as a business executive — into scenes of great beauty. Lawrence recently said on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” that the movie was “half Joy Mangano’s story and half [Russell’s] imagination and other powerful, strong women who inspired him.” The director mined much of his Mangano material by phone.

The cast includes Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Lucci (in a mock TV soap opera that gives Joy some of its silliness) and even Melissa Rivers as her late mother Joan Rivers. There’s no situation Joy cannot overcome or circumvent.” At a Newsday photo shoot at Mangano’s luxurious but serene 42,000-square-foot mansion on 11 acres in St. As for parting advice for the ambitious? “If this movie inspires even just one more person to believe in themselves and to go after their dreams, then it’s made a very special impact in this world.

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