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Spotify Now Available on Alexa-Enabled Devices in India, Starting With Amazon Echo

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Amazon Echo and all the other Alexa-enabled devices are finally getting the Spotify support. On 26 July Friday Spotify announced that each its Premium and free tier subscribers can now use the music streaming service with Alexa on Amazon Echo gadgets in India. The Swedish firm additionally detailed a number of Alexa voice instructions that its customers can utilise, from taking part in playlists to podcasts. The Spotify support will be gradually rolled out for other-Alexa enabled devices but for now, it is only available for Amazon Echo users, Spotify says it will soon be available on other Alexa-enabled devices, including Fire TV models and mobile devices.

As of now, Amazon Echo users can access music from various audio platforms including Apple Music, JioSaavn, Hungama Music, and other third-party apps. With Spotify adding to the list, the users will get a plethora of options to choose from. Spotify in a statement revealed that the new feature will be available to the premium and free-tier Spotify users in India.

So here’s how you access your amazing playlist on Spotify from Amazon devices. Spotify gives you access to over 50 million songs so before everything, it is important for you to download the app first. Post downloading the app, go to the Alexa app, and visit Settings > Music > Link New Service and then select Spotify. Users will then have to key in their Spotify username and password. If users would like to make Spotify their default music service on the Amazon Echo device, they can also enable Default Services.

Once the consumer has linked their Spotify account with Alexa, they will use the Spotify app to play content material on their Alexa gadgets by saying “Alexa, Spotify connect”, thereby making the Alexa system discoverable within the music streaming app. Alternatively, customers can search for Devices Available on the now taking part in the display screen of the Spotify app, after which choose the Echo system they need to hear on.

Spotify had initially added help for Amazon Echo gadgets again in 2016, however just for premium subscribers and in choose markets. The streaming service’s free tier customers additionally received entry to Alexa-enabled gadgets in November 2019, however the identical was restricted to pick out markets. Spotify can be already accessible on Fire TV Stick dongles.

Spotify is one of the most preferred apps because it gives you an option to personalize your music experience. So when you sign up through the Alexa app, Spotify will ask you about your favourite artist, and provide curated playlists that match your musical taste and personalized playlists like Daily Mix. The playlists are available on Alexa and they are updated based on your listening activity. To listen to your playlist just give a command saying, “Alexa, play my Daily Mix 1 on Spotify”. You can also create your personal playlist on the Spotify app for example ‘Bollywood Dhamaka’ and ask Alexa, to play it.

As talked about, Spotify detailed a bunch of voice instructions customers can utilise to regulate the music streaming service on an Amazon Echo system. These are:

Playlists

  • “Alexa, play my Daily Mix 1 on Spotify”
  • “Alexa, play Bollywood Acoustic on Spotify”
  • “Alexa, play Chai & Classics on Spotify”
  • “Alexa, play my <name> playlist from Spotify”

Movies

  • “Alexa, play Street Dancer 3D songs on Spotify”
  • “Alexa, play Kabir Singh songs on Spotify”

Songs

  • “Alexa, play Malang on Spotify”
  • “Alexa, play Dance Monkey on Spotify”

Artists

  • “Alexa, play Badshah songs on Spotify”

Artist Radio

  • “Alexa, play A R Rahman Radio on Spotify”

Genres

  • “Alexa, play chill tracks on Spotify”

Music Alarm

  • “Alexa, set alarm for 6 AM with meditation music on Spotify”

Spotify Connect

  • “Alexa, Spotify Connect on Kitchen Echo”

Podcasts

  • “Alexa, Spotify connect” after which choose the Podcast on the Spotify app. It will play on the linked Echo system.

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Tandav Row: Amazon Prime India Head Aparna Purohit’s Anticipatory Bail Plea Supreme Court Hearing on March 4

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By ANI | Updated: 3 March 2021

The Supreme Court on Wednesday postponed for Thursday hearing an appeal of the commercial head of Amazon Prime Video Aparna Purohit, against the Allahabad High Court order that denied anticipatory bail to her, in the ongoing investigation against the web series ‘Tandav’.

A Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said it will hear the appeal of Purohit on Thursday.

The High Court on February 25 declined to give protection from arrest to Purohit by dismissing the anticipatory bail application of her.

The Uttar Pradesh Police had filed an FIR against the top Amazon Prime executive for the derogatory depiction of Hindu deities and promoting religious enmity through the series.

The High Court in its order has noted that “such people make the revered figures of the religion of majority community source of earning money in a most brazen manner taking benefit of the liberal and tolerant tradition of the country.”

Making strong observations while rejecting Purohit’s anticipatory bail plea in a case filed against her in Noida, Justice Siddharth said, “The conduct of the applicant shows that she has scant respect for the law of the land and her conduct further disentitles her to any relief from this court.”

Earlier on January 27, the Supreme Court had refused to grant interim protection from arrest to actor and makers of web series Tandav and allowed them to approach High Courts for relief from arrest or quashing of FIRs.

Justice Ashok Bhushan while denying to grant interim protection from arrest, however, had agreed to hear the issue of transferring and clubbing several FIRs registered against them across the country and issued notice to complainants on the prayer.

Tandav actor Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, Purohit, and the makers had approached the top court seeking protection from arrest on the FIRs registered against them for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and telecasting objectionable content.

Tandav, a nine-episode political thriller that started streaming in January this year on Amazon Prime Over The Top (OTT) platform, featuring Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, and Ayyub, has created an uproar for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.

The petitions filed in January had requested the top court that criminal proceedings initiated against them for offences including hurting religious sentiments be quashed or alternatively club all the seven FIRs registered in different states and transfer them to a court in Mumbai.

Three FIRs were registered in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow, Noida, and Shahjahanpur. Two FIRs were lodged in Madhya Pradesh while one FIR each was lodged in Karnataka and Bihar. Apart from the FIRs, at least three other criminal complaints are pending in Maharashtra, Delhi and Chandigarh respectively.

FIRs were registered for the alleged inappropriate depiction of Uttar Pradesh Police personnel, deities and adverse portrayal of a character playing the role of prime minister in the show.

FIRs mentions that the show portrayed the Hindu deity, Shiva, in “a poor light” as the actor playing him on-screen was shown using foul language.

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Tandav Row: Amazon Issues ‘Unconditional’ Apology After Complaints That Series Hurt Religious Sentiments

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By Reuters | Updated: 3 March 2021

Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service on Tuesday issued a rare apology to its Indian viewers for some scenes in its original political drama series Tandav, which allegedly offended Hindu religious beliefs.

Tandav, a Hindi word meaning “fury”, stars top Bollywood actors. In several states it has faced police complaints and court cases alleging the show had depicted Hindu gods and goddesses in a derogatory manner, and offended religious beliefs. Lawmakers from India’s ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party have also criticised it.

In a statement titled “Amazon Prime Video Apologises”, the company on Tuesday said it deeply regrets viewers considered certain scenes to be objectionable.

Amazon apologises “unconditionally to anyone who felt hurt,” it said, adding that it will continue to develop content while respecting the diversity of audiences’ culture and beliefs.

The Tandav controversy escalated last week when police in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh questioned one of Amazon’s top executives for hours in one case filed against the show.

Asked about the company apology, a senior state police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said authorities would continue investigating the matter.

Shows on streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have often faced complaints in India for obscenity or offending beliefs, but the latest controversy involving the Amazon show Tandav is among the highest-profile cases.

An Indian media and entertainment industry executive said Amazon’s apology was unprecedented and showed that big US conglomerates can capitulate to political or cultural demands. The executive spoke on condition of anonymity.

In January 2020, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos attended a Prime Video event in Mumbai with Bollywood stars and announced it would double down on its investments. He said Prime Video was doing well globally “but nowhere it’s doing better than India”.

India is a critical growth market for Amazon, where it has committed investments of $6.5 billion (roughly Rs. 47,610 crores), with interests in e-commerce, video streaming, cloud computing, and other areas.

Amazon is currently also facing calls for a ban after Reuters last month reported the US firm had for years given preferential treatment to a small group of sellers on its India website and used them to circumvent the country’s strict foreign investment regulations.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Disney Streaming Services Gaining Ground on Netflix With Over 146 Million Subscribers

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 12 February 2021

Disney said Thursday its streaming services flourished while its parks, travel, and film businesses remained hobbled by the pandemic at the end of last year.

The entertainment colossus behind the Magic Kingdom and all its entertainment wonders saw subscriptions at its streaming services surge to more than 146 million subscribers, as people hunkering down due to the pandemic have turned to sources of online entertainment.

The audience growth for Disney+, Hulu, ESPN, and India’s Hotstar comes as the parent company’s travel and amusement park business suffered, and shows the entertainment giant is gaining ground on leading streaming service Netflix’s 203 million subscribers.

“We’re confident that, with our robust pipeline of exceptional, high-quality content, and the upcoming launch of our new Star-branded international general entertainment offering, we are well-positioned to achieve even greater success going forward,” Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said in an earnings release.

The growth of Disney’s streaming services, with the bulk of the audience made up of the 95 million subscribers who joined Disney+ since it launched about a year ago, trounced expectations.

Disney+ alone added 21.2 million paid subscribers in the final quarter of last year, according to the earnings report.

The entertainment giant is prioritising exclusive programming, original shows, and movies, as well as bundled streaming services to build on the momentum of its various offerings, which extend beyond Disney+ to include ESPN, Hulu, and Hotstar.

Hit launches at Disney+ at the end of last year included an animated film Soul that combined comedy and drama with a message about finding the spark that gives life meaning.

The quarter also featured a new season of original Star Wars spin-off series The Mandalorian.

Disney has played to the strengths of its Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars teams, as well as its own studio content at the streaming service.

“Disney+ has been a massive success and is a testament to Disney’s brand equity and expertise in storytelling,” said eMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom.

“This has been one of the most successful consumer product launches in recent memory.”

The analyst expected Disney streaming services to continue growing, and that its parks, television and movie businesses will recover quickly as COVID-19 vaccines are administered and pent-up demand is unleashed.

Tending to talent
The pandemic hit Disney’s parks and experiences unit hardest, with the company’s resorts closed or operating at reduced capacity and its cruise ships idle, according to executives.

Revenue in that unit plunged more than 50 percent, turning it from a big profit engine to a loss on the balance sheet.

Film and television production has also been disrupted by the pandemic, although much of it resumed in the recently ended quarter, the company reported.

Disney anticipated an additional billion dollars in costs this year associated with government regulations and safety measures for “employees, talent and guests” as a result of the health crisis.

The company also did not release any new films to theaters in the quarter, but stressed anew that it expected to return to debuting movies in cinemas.

Revenue in the quarter fell 22 percent to $16.25 billion (roughly Rs. 1,18,260 crores) but beat market expectations. Disney reported profit of $17 million (roughly Rs. 120 crores) compared with $2.1 billion (roughly Rs. 15,300 crores) in the same period a year earlier.

Disney shares were up three percent in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings figures.

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YouTube Accredited for Protecting Advertisers From Unsuitable Videos

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By Reuters | Updated: 10 February 2021

Alphabet’s YouTube said on Tuesday it has become the first digital platform to receive an accreditation from the Media Rating Council, signifying the streaming video service effectively protects its advertisers from appearing on content deemed inappropriate for paid advertisements.

The company said in a blog post it was committed to remaining at least 99 percent effective at making sure advertisement placements on YouTube are brand-safe.

YouTube had high-profile incidents dating back to 2017 of advertisements appearing on videos with hate speech or other disturbing content, which led several major advertisers to turn off their YouTube advertisements. The platform hopes to turn a new page with marketers following the Media Rating Council’s (MRC)accreditation.

“We’re particularly humbled to be the first platform to achieve the accreditation,” said Debbie Weinstein, vice president of YouTube and video global solutions at Google.

YouTube said it had made investments in technology that analyses videos, beefed up its staff of human moderators and expanded policies to address brand safety.

The accreditation reflects “YouTube’s sustained commitment and investment to enable brands to advertise in safe environments,” Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, said in a statement, adding he hopes it inspires other platforms to do the same.

The MRC, which was formed by the US Congress in the 1960s to measure audiences on media content, said it conducted an extensive audit of YouTube, including how its internal standards for determining which videos are suitable to receive advertising compared with industry-body standards.

The organisation also studied the effectiveness of tools YouTube provides advertisers who want to be more selective and block their advertisements from playing on certain categories of videos, adding up to “thousands of [accounting] hours in the trenches,” said George Ivie, chief executive of the MRC.

The MRC awarded the accreditation when YouTube met various standards, including that the incident rate for advertisements appearing on inappropriate videos was “immaterial” and less than 1 percent, Ivie said.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Nearly 900,000 New Podcasts Launched Worldwide in 2020, Triple From the Year Before: Study

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 4 February 2021

The number of new podcast launches mushroomed last year compared to 2019, a download-tracking firm said Wednesday, as listeners around the world adapted new habits during pandemic-induced lockdowns.

According to New York-based Chartable, a total of 885,262 new podcasts were launched worldwide in 2020, almost triple the 318,517 new offerings the year before.

During initial lockdowns in March and April, Chartable said podcast downloads took a hit as routines and commutes were upended.

“However, all that listening returned quickly as people developed new routines for the lockdown/shelter-in-place era,” the firm said in a blog posting.

About 30 percent of new podcasts only have one or two episodes, with content creators trying out the medium.

But almost one-quarter of “podcasts started in 2021 have already published more than 10 episodes,” Chartable said.

“That adds up to more than 200,000 new podcasts with real staying power.”

Another noteworthy trend was the rapid growth in non-English-language podcasts, with just under half of the new programmes coming in other languages.

Hindi-language podcasts grew the quickest, with a 14-fold increase, followed by Chinese, Portuguese, Indonesian, and Spanish.

Educational podcasts (133,107) topped the genres on offer, ahead of culture and society (121,556) and arts (94,360).

Apple’s own podcast platform steadily lost ground in terms of usage, sliding from nearly 42.7 percent market share to 37.8 percent as listeners increased in non-US markets, where Android phones often dominate.

At the same time, Spotify, which has invested heavily in podcasts, saw its audience share increase steadily.

Advertisement revenue also rose, up 15 percent over 2019, with 160 new advertisers turning to podcasts each week.

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Golden Globes 2021: Netflix’s Mank, The Crown Lead With Six Nominations Each as Female Directors Break Through

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 4 February 2021

Netflix’s Mank, a black-and-white drama that dives into Hollywood’s Golden Age with the making of Citizen Kane, on Wednesday topped the nominations for the pandemic-delayed Golden Globes, as female directors finally broke through with multiple nods.

Mank earned six nominations, including best drama, followed by fellow Netflix movie The Trial of the Chicago 7 on five, in an announcement that offered an important, early glimpse into the movies leading this year’s unique awards season.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which has only previously nominated five female film directors in its long history, gave Globes nods to three women in the category this year.

The unveiling of the nominations, remotely co-hosted by Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker and Taraji P Henson, whittled down the list of films and stars headed for the Globes ceremony later this month – itself seen as a bellwether for the Oscars in April.

As expected, pandemic-related theater closures and blockbuster delays boosted smaller, stay-at-home movies from streamers this year, as Netflix thrashed the competition with a whopping 22 film nominations – up from an impressive 17 last year.

Rival Amazon Prime earned seven film nominations, including three apiece for civil rights-themed play adaptation One Night in Miami and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Sacha Baron Cohen starred in the sequel mockumentary about fictional Kazakh journalist Borat – which famously entrapped Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani – and earned a second acting nomination for his supporting work in Chicago 7, about the city’s 1968 anti-war riots.

“We’re so honoured – and just in case we don’t win any, I’ve already hired Rudy Giuliani to contest the results,” tweeted the British comedian.

5 Bloods snubbed
A small batch of prestige titles from Tinseltown’s traditional major studios held their own, with Disney’s Nomadland, Sony’s The Father and Universal’s Promising Young Woman each earning four nods.

MeToo revenge thriller Promising Young Woman in particular exceeded expectations, with recognition for best drama, director, screenplay and actress for Carey Mulligan.

Mulligan will compete with Viola Davis for 1920s blues drama Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as well as Frances McDormand for Nomadland, which swept the prizes at the Venice and Toronto festivals and is the pick of many experts for overall best picture.

In the acting categories, late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman was also nominated for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

But he missed out on a second posthumous nod for Da 5 Bloods – which failed to snare any nominations, despite the choice of director Spike Lee’s children as this year’s Globes ambassadors, and a widely praised lead performance by Delroy Lindo.

Instead the fiercely competitive best actor in a drama category will feature heavyweights such as Anthony Hopkins for The Father, adapted from a French play about dementia, and Gary Oldman for Mank.

Surprisingly, Meryl Streep missed out on a nomination for Netflix musical The Prom, which saw British talk show host James Corden honoured instead.

Female directors arrive
Last year, the HFPA was slammed for its failure to nominate any female directors, but this time Chloe Zhao (Nomadland), Regina King (One Night in Miami) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) all earned nods.

Only five women had been nominated for best director across 77 previous editions of the Globes, with Barbra Streisand still the only female winner for 1983’s Yentl. Zhao becomes the first Asian female recognised in the category.

Disney+’s Hamilton, created from multiple performances featuring the original Broadway cast, earned two nominations, including best musical or comedy film, and best actor for creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

It is not allowed to compete at the Oscars, meaning the Globes represent the best chance for the Tony-winning musical about the US founding fathers to scoop up film accolades.

Foreign-language films, separated out into their own Globes pool, saw acclaimed Korean-American family drama Minari nominated as it bids to emulate last year’s all-conquering Parasite.

In the television categories, Netflix was again dominant, scoring 20 nominations. Closest rival HBO earned seven, plus a further two for its new streaming platform HBO Max with The Flight Attendant.

The latest season of British royal family drama The Crown had the most recognition with six nominations, ahead of recent Emmys smash hit Schitt’s Creek on five.

The 78th Golden Globes, voted on by the 90-odd members of the HFPA, will be broadcast on February 28. The season-crowning Oscars follow on April 25.

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