Subscription business model

It’s Official: ‘4:44’ Is Jay Z’s New Album, a Sprint-Tidal Exclusive Out June 30

Jay Z

Just after midnight on Monday, Jay Z capped two weeks of online and billboard teasers involving “4:44” and confirmed that it is the title of his new album, out June 30 and available exclusively to Sprint customers and existing Tidal subscribers. The rapper released a snippet of a new song called “Adnis” earlier on Sunday evening.

The album is the first major project involving Tidal and Sprint, which acquired 33 percent of the streaming service in a $200 million deal in January.

A detailed press release (reproduced in part below) explains the project and partnership, which will require fans to subscribe to Tidal or Sprint in order to acquire the album legally; Sprint customers can receive a free six-month Tidal trial subscription. At press time, a rep for Jay Z had not responded to Variety‘s question about when or whether the album will be available on other streaming services or for purchase as a download or physical product.

The move is somewhat reminiscent of the release of both Jay Z’s 2013 album “Magna Carta Holy Grail” — which, as part of an estimated $20 million deal between Jay’s Roc Nation company and Samsung, saw 1 million owners of Galaxy devices receive the album for free, three days before its wide release — and Beyonce’s 2016 album “Lemonade,” which is available for streaming only on Tidal. However, both of those albums are available at retail as downloads and physical product; there is currently no indication that will be the case with “4:44,” although it seems very likely at some point.

The length of time the album will be a Tidal exclusive will have a dramatic effect on its chart success. Limiting Beyonce’s “Lemonade” to Tidal took a significant bite out of that album’s chart performance: While Tidal has claimed as many as 3 million paying subscribers, a January report in a Norwegian publication claimed to cite company reports to labels as saying it had just 800,000 subscribers and 1.2 million active users. By contrast, Spotify, the No. 1 streaming service in the U.S., claimed last week to have passed 140 global users and in March said it had reached 50 million paying subscribers; its closest competitor, Apple Music, announced earlier this month that it had passed the 27-million subscriber mark.

Jay Z’s…

Spotify announces 140 million users as paid subscribers approach 40%

Spotify announced today that it now has 140 million users, up from 100 million exactly a year ago.

Today we’re happy to announce 140 million users on Spotify! To put it another way, that’s one million for every single character in this twe

The news comes just a few months after Spotify revealed that it now has 50 million paying subscribers. Historically, the music streaming giant has announced its paying / non-paying user figures in tandem, but it has recently taken to just announcing its paying members. In the past, roughly 25 percent of the company’s overall user base was paying members, but that figure has been edging closer to around a third, based on more recent announcements. Assuming Spotify has grown its paid user base by at least a couple of million since its last announcement in March, we can now say that roughly 37 percent of its listeners pay to use the…

How to Cancel Your Useless iOS App Subscriptions

Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty

If you’ve never checked on your app subscriptions, I don’t blame you. It’s a feature buried pretty deeply in your iOS device. But then, you could discover an app charging you $100 per week, so it pays to be vigilant.

Developer Johnny Lin got curious during Apple’s WWDC 2017 keynote, when CEO Tim Cook announced a $70 billion payout to developers from the App Store.

That’s a huge spike, and surprising to me because it didn’t seem like my friends and I were spending more on apps last year. But that’s anecdotal, so I wondered: Where are these revenues coming from? I opened App Store to browse the top grossing apps.

Lin took a look at some high earning iOS apps and discovered a few suspect apps, many of them with exorbitant subscriptions to which users were seemingly subscribing. Some apps—VPN apps in this instance—were charging a recurring…

One year in: How publishers are finding wins with Facebook Instant Articles

In her 2017 Internet Trends report, Mary Meeker reported that time spent using the Internet on mobile rose again in 2016 to 3.1 hours per day, up from 2.8 hours per day in 2015. Internet usage on PCs, in contrast, was flat at 2.2 hours per day. Meanwhile, Facebook and Google continue to be the top referrers to publishers, and increasingly consumers’ feeds are the main place media is discovered. With products like Facebook Instant Articles and Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, both made generally available last year, the feed is becoming the place where media is actually consumed.

For publishers, getting your mobile strategy right has never been more important — particularly on Facebook, which now has nearly 2 billion users. Facebook, however, is eager to keep users within its walled garden and has devoted armies of engineers to build the most compelling feed in technology. That feed needs content, and publishers have looked to leverage Facebook’s massive scale to boost readership, subscriptions, and traffic back to their sites.

Both Facebook’s Instant Articles and Google’s AMP offer ways for publishers to form one-on-one relationships with consumers. For publishers wracked by layoffs and falling revenues, this means broad exposure and easier ways to form a direct connection to readers. The approach hasn’t worked for all publishers — a number have dropped out of Facebook’s program following disappointments. But other publishers have found some promising tactics for expanding their readership using Instant Articles:

1. Teasing content. German news tabloid Bild has used IA as a means to tease free content and boost subscriptions. In January, the publisher began using IA ad spots to promote Bild Plus, a premium version of the title that costs $10.58 a month. Bild started out putting just 20 percent of its free content on IA but now puts all of it there as a funnel for Bild Plus subscriptions. Similarly, advertisers can use Canvas – sort of an IA for advertisers – to tease content that users will have to go off Facebook to see. They can link to…

I’m Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox Co-Founder and CEO, and This Is How I Work

Katia Beauchamp is the co-founder and CEO of Birchbox, the beauty e-commerce site and product-sample subscription box service. Since its inception in 2010, Birchbox has gained more than 1 million subscribers globally, and 4 million total customers. calls Birchbox the “indisputable OG of the beauty subscription box phenomenon.” Katia lives in NYC with her husband and twin boys. This is how she works.

Location: New York City
Current gig: Co-founder and CEO of Birchbox
One word that best describes how you work: Curiously. I have a big appetite for learning.
Current mobile device: iPhone 7
Current computer: Macbook Air

First of all, tell me a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

I’m from El Paso, Texas. I didn’t grow up with any comprehension of the beauty industry or entrepreneurship. I moved to the northeast for college at Vassar and then started a career in finance, specifically investment banking and commercial real estate. I decided to go to business school because I was interested in rethinking industries and while I was there I became really excited about the idea of entrepreneurship as a way to have a really challenging, compelling career.

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?

At work I rely heavily on Google Docs—it’s so valuable for collaborating and sharing different perspectives.

What’s your workspace setup like?

Our office is very open and I sit right in the center. My desk setup is very minimal, but I really work everywhere—from my phone in the car, from my laptop on a couch in one of our communal work spaces, etc.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?

I use voice notes, but my…

From Silicon Alley OG to New York Times CTO (and MB 2017)

An unusual challenge: Grow the value of a customer base that’s been hit with a windstorm of record-breaking engagement.

The savvy solution: The most transformative technology to come along in years: artificial intelligence.

For Nick Rockwell, CTO of the New York Times — and a featured speaker at MB 2017 coming up July 11-12 — AI is foundational to his game plan to blow up the digital Times until it blots out the sky. His team is leveraging analytics and machine learning to create the kind of personalization strategies that can grow an audience hungry for more.

It all started during last year’s presidential election, when a screaming, tantrum-throwing orangutan raced against arguably the most qualified candidate to ever throw their hat in the presidential ring. The public was horrified, fascinated, terrified — and hooked. In the wake of the new normal, readership of The New York Times skyrocketed.

Though the electoral winner makes continuous claims that the media giant is “failing,” the numbers tell a different story. During the last three months of 2016, the Times gained 276,000 net digital-only subscribers — or more digital subscriptions in three months than in all of 2013 and 2014 combined. Digital advertising revenue, which makes up about 42 percent of the Times’s total revenue, rose 10.9 percent to $77.6 million in the quarter.

And Nick Rockwell, the minty-fresh brand-new CTO of the New York Times, was handed unprecedented success, but also one of the…

What Happened to Solitaire and Minesweeper in Windows 8 and 10?

The classic desktop versions of Solitaire and Minesweeper are gone in Windows 8 and 10. Instead, you’ll find shiny new versions with advertisements, Xbox integration, and optional subscription fees. But you can still play Solitaire and Minesweeper without ads, and without paying a cent.

How to Launch Solitaire on Windows 10

Solitaire is installed by default on Windows 10. You can just open the Start menu and launch the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” application to open it.

If the Microsoft Solitaire Collection isn’t installed—perhaps you’ve uninstalled it in the past—you can get it from the Windows Store.

How to Get Minesweeper on Windows 10

Microsoft Minesweeper isn’t installed by default on Windows 10, but it’s available for free. To install Minesweeper, launch the “Store” application and search for “Minesweeper”. Click the “Microsoft Minesweeper” tile and click “Install” to install it.

You can also click here to go straight to Microsoft Minesweeper on the Windows Store.

Once it’s installed, you can launch Microsoft Minesweeper from your Start menu.

On Windows 8, neither Solitaire nor Minesweeper are installed by default. You’ll need to open the Store and search for Solitaire and Minesweeper to install the Microsoft Solitaire Collection and Microsoft Minesweeper applications.

How Solitaire and Minesweeper Are Different on Windows 8 and 10

Whether you like the new games depends what you’re looking for. The good news is that they’re more shiny and polished than the old Solitaire and Minesweeper games.

The Microsoft Solitaire Collection includes quite a few different games—Klondike, Spider, FreeCell, Pyramid, and TriPeaks. Klondike is the classic, default solitaire experience you’re probably familiar with from previous versions of Windows.

You can choose “solvable decks” of different difficulty levels—decks guaranteed to be solvable so you don’t get stuck and have to restart—or use a traditional, randomly…

Hulu’s Live TV Service Is Now Available in Beta With 50 Channels for $40 Per Month

At its Upfront presentation this morning, Hulu showed off more details of its new live streaming service, and announced that the service is now available in a public beta starting today. Interested users can sign-up here.

Hulu first announced its live TV service back in at its Upfront’s in May 2016 and since then, we’ve seen the live TV cordcutting market become more crowded, with new offerings from DirecTV Now and YouTube TV. Even traditional cable operators, like Verizon and Comcast, are planning on getting into the online TV space. With traditional cable subscriptions falling, it makes sense that the networks and the providers are looking at other sources of income.

But what makes Hulu’s approach to live TV a bit different—as we noted when we got a preview of the service back at CES in January—is that it combines live TV with the huge catalog of content that Hulu already offers. So if you subscribe to Hulu’s new live offering, you get access to live feeds from ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN, CNN, and so on, but you also get access to Hulu originals and that massive back catalog of movie and TV content.

The service, which has the tongue-twister name Hulu with Live TV, is available starting at $40 a month. That $40 a month offers access to more than 50 live channels, access to Hulu’s standard $8 a month subscription service (you can pay an extra $4 and get the catalog content commercial free), and 50 hours of cloud DVR recordings. The $40 plan offers access to six user profiles and two simultaneous streams at once.

If you want to stream from more than two devices at once, Hulu is offering an “Unlimited Screens” plan for $15 a month, which offers unlimited streams in the home, and up to three simultaneous streams outside the home. There is also an “Enhanced Cloud DVR” bundle for $15 a month that offers subscribers access to 200 hours of DVR recordings that automatically skip through recorded…

Salesforce launches AppExchange partner program and $100 million platform fund

Salesforce is looking to take its AppExchange to the next phase to better address the increased demand for subscription-based services within the enterprise. Today the company launched a partner program that replaces the existing independent software vendor (ISV) program with a completely new pricing model, support, and onboarding experience and an additional set of tools.

To encourage development, Salesforce has allocated $100 million to incentivizing developers, startups, and ISVs.

“The convergence of [artificial intelligence, Internet of Things], and massive datasets has created incredible new opportunities for developers to move beyond the app and build components, intelligent bots, data streams, and more,” explained Leyla Seka, Salesforce’s executive vice president for its AppExchange. “The new AppExchange Partner Program empowers the next generation of Salesforce ISVs with a single destination for everything they need to succeed — the training to create solutions on cutting-edge Salesforce technology and the programs to turn them into businesses with global reach.”

Salesforce launched the AppExchange 11 years ago, and since that time more than 3,000 apps have been added to the marketplace and installed more than 4 million times. But a lot has changed since then — not only at Salesforce, but also in the startup ecosystem. In order to adapt to this changing landscape, the partner program had to adapt.

Here are the changes coming to the AppExchange partner program:

  • Establishing an AppExchange Trailblazer Score: This point-based system provides a metric around how closely aligned an app is with Salesforce’s values. It factors in customer success, reviews,…

Duolingo Plus Makes It Easier to Learn a New Language

Duolingo has launched a paid subscription service designed to give language learners a leg-up. Paid subscribers will gain a couple of advantages over free users, all while keeping Duolingo in business. However, Duolingo is committed to continuing to offer free language learning for everyone.

We should all learn a new language. Unfortunately, doing so isn’t easy. Duolingo at least makes the whole thing fun, but that comes at a cost. So much so that its CEO Luis von Ahn claims the company is spending $42,000 per day. No wonder Duolingo is launching a paid subscription service…

The Advantages of Duolingo Plus

Duolingo’s new subscription service, called Duolingo Plus, offers two distinct advantages over its free offering. First, it removes all ads from the service. And second, it offers offline learning. Duolingo claims these two features users have been requesting for some time.

In other words, Duolingo Plus is designed to complement, rather…