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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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YouTube Bans One America News Network From Posting New Videos for a Week Due to COVID-19 Rule Violation

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By Reuters | Updated: 25 November 2020

YouTube said on Tuesday it had barred the right-wing outlet One America News Network from posting new videos for a week after it broke the site’s rules against content that claims there is a guaranteed cure for COVID-19.

A spokeswoman for YouTube, the video-sharing platform owned by Alphabet’s Google, said OAN had also been suspended from monetising its videos due to repeated violations of the COVID-19 misinformation policy and other rules. OAN will have to reapply to be allowed to monetise again.

President Donald Trump has promoted OAN, calling it a “great alternative” to Fox News in a tweet this month. The outlet has amplified Trump’s unsupported claims of voter fraud in the US presidential election.

YouTube said it has a “three-strikes policy” before an account is removed and this constituted OAN’s first strike. OAN did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The YouTube spokeswoman said an OAN video, now removed, had violated its coronavirus misinformation rules by claiming that hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug touted by Trump despite a lack of scientific evidence, was a cure for COVID-19.

YouTube and other major online platforms are under scrutiny from lawmakers and researchers to curb misinformation on their sites. Following the November election, Reuters identified several YouTube channels making money from ads and memberships that were amplifying debunked accusations about voting fraud.

At a congressional hearing last week with the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal criticised Google, YouTube’s owner, saying it had been given a “pass” and was being rewarded for its “timidity” in content moderation.

Four Democratic senators also sent a letter on Tuesday to YouTube’s Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki urging the video platform to remove content that they said spread misinformation on election results and pressing for information on measures taken ahead of the runoff US Senate elections in Georgia.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Black Panther 2 to Begin Shooting in July 2021

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By ANI | Updated: 21 November 2020

Months after the demise of the Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, Marvel Studio is planning to begin shooting for the sequel of the superhero film in July 2021.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the sequel was sidelined after Boseman’s sudden demise following which filmmaker Ryan Coogler and Marvel navigated their way through grief.

The studios had earlier planned to begin production for the sequel in March 2021.

2020 has been the only year that did not see the release of any Marvel movie for the first time since 2009.

Several sources of The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Marvel is now prepping up for Black Panther 2, the shooting for which will begin in Atlanta in July and will continue for six months.

Though Marvel has not shared anything on who will be portraying the central role portrayed by Boseman, Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta is in talks to play one of the antagonists in the film.

Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, and Angela Bassett are expected to return for the new feature, reported The Hollywood Reporter.

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YouTube to Add Link on COVID-19 Vaccines to Combat Misinformation

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By Reuters | Updated: 18 November 2020

Alphabet’s YouTube said on Tuesday it is adding a link to provide information on the development of COVID-19 vaccines to the coronavirus panel on its site, expanding its efforts to combat misinformation related to the pandemic.

The link will send users directly to authoritative COVID-19 vaccine information from a third-party source like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization (WHO), the company said in a statement.

Conspiracy theories and misinformation about the new coronavirus vaccines have proliferated on social media, including through anti-vaccine personalities on YouTube and viral videos shared across multiple platforms.

Last week, a study conducted in the United States and Britain found conspiracy theories and misinformation fuel mistrust in vaccines and could push levels that potential COVID-19 vaccines are taken below the rates needed to protect communities against the disease.

In October, the video platform said it would remove videos containing misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, and ban any content with claims that contradict consensus from local health authorities or the WHO.

YouTube’s move on Tuesday follows promising results from two major vaccine efforts. Moderna said on Monday its experimental COVID-19 vaccine is more than 94.5 percent effective based on interim data from late-stage trials. Last week, Pfizer said its vaccine was shown to be more than 90 percent effective.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Baidu to Buy JOYY’s Chinese Live-Streaming Service for $3.6 Billion

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By Reuters | Updated: 17 November 2020

China’s Baidu reported third-quarter revenue above market expectations on Monday and said it would buy social media platform JOYY ‘s video-based live streaming business in China for about $3.6 billion (roughly Rs. 26,800 crores).

The company said through the deal it aims to diversify its revenue source, the bulk of which comes from ad sales on its core search engine platform.

Baidu’s vibrant mobile ecosystem enables the fast growth of its non-advertising revenue by increasing log-in users and expanding offerings like membership, live streaming and online games, Chief Executive Officer Robin Li said in a statement.

The company benefited from higher paid subscribers on Baidu’s video streaming service iQIYI and a recovery in advertisement spending by businesses on its core search engine platform in the quarter.

As China’s economy gradually emerges out of the COVID-19 slump, advertisement spending by businesses have also picked up from their lows during the peak of the pandemic. In September, China’s industrial output rose faster than expected and retail sales gained.

The company said it expects current-quarter revenue to be between CNY 28.6 billion (roughly Rs. 32,400 crores) and CNY 31.3 billion (roughly Rs. 35,500 crores) compared with estimates of CNY 28.98 billion (roughly Rs. 32,900 crores).

Subscribers for iQIYI touched 104.8 million in September and membership revenue rose 7 percent from a year earlier, the company said.

Baidu’s Netflix-like service is in the middle of a probe by the US Securities and Exchange Commission related to accusations of inflating user numbers, revenue and the prices it pays for content by short-seller firm Wolfpack Research.

The company’s total revenue rose 1 percent to CNY 28.23 billion (roughly Rs. 32,000 crores) in the quarter ended September 30. Analysts on average had expected revenue of CNY 27.45 billion (roughly Rs. 31,100 crores), according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company’s US-listed shares, which edged up initially, were down 2 percent after the bell.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Netflix Says Ready to Pay Tax After Vietnam Complaint

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By Agence France Press | Updated: 12 November 2020

Netflix insisted Wednesday it was prepared to pay tax in Vietnam after a government minister accused the streaming giant of dodging its obligations to the communist nation.

The information minister this week singled out Netflix and newcomer Apple TV for not paying tax, saying foreign platforms earn an estimated $44 million (roughly Rs. 300 crores) a year in revenues from a skyrocketing subscriber base across Vietnam.

“Some cross-border platforms have neither paid taxes nor operated in accordance with the laws, creating unfair competition,” Nguyen Manh Hung told Vietnam’s national assembly Tuesday.

But a Netflix spokesperson told AFP the company complies with relevant Vietnamese laws and is in talks with authorities on the issue.

“We are supportive of the implementation of a mechanism that will make it possible for foreign service providers like Netflix to collect and remit taxes in Vietnam,” they said in a statement.

“However today such a mechanism does not exist.”

The streaming juggernaut’s entry into Southeast Asia has had a major impact on viewing habits.

The massive popularity of the service has pushed Netflix to invest in locally produced shows and films, such as Vietnamese martial arts movie “Furie”.

The minister’s criticism against Netflix also focused on its content.

Hung said some of its shows feature “violence, use of drugs, and pornography,” violating censorship laws that govern Vietnam’s tightly controlled film industry.

He also specifically singled out a Vietnam War documentary for its “wrong reflection of history”.

Separately, in 2017 Netflix removed the Stanley Kubrick classic Full Metal Jacket from its catalogue after a request from the government.

Vietnam is hoping to build a reputation as a Southeast Asian hub for fintech, but is hampered by draconian laws governing media and digital spaces.

Netflix’s run-in with the Vietnamese authorities comes amid growing concern in countries around the world about taxes paid, or not, by US tech giants.

Amazon, Google, and Facebook have all come under fire for paying seemingly negligible tax on huge revenues.

Earlier this month, Spain said it is preparing legislation that would impose a five percent tax on platforms such Netflix, with the aim of using the funds to boost domestic film production.

Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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Spotify to Buy Advertisement Firm Megaphone in $235-Million Deal to Monetise Podcasts

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By Reuters | Updated: 11 November 2020

Sweden-based Spotify has agreed to buy podcast advertising and publishing platform Megaphone, it said on Tuesday, the latest in a series of a deals to boost its podcast platform.

The deal is worth $235 million (roughly Rs. 1,700 crores), a Spotify spokesman said.

The company will use Megaphone’s technology to create targeted advertisements, it said, and will also make its proprietary advertisement monitoring tools available to third-party podcast publishers.

Spotify, which earns revenue from paid subscriptions and by disseminating advertisements to non-paying users, saw its advertising business return to growth in the third quarter after it was hit by the pandemic earlier this year.

Executives have said advertisement growth will accelerate in the current quarter.

Its heavy investments in podcasts, in an effort to become the Netflix of audio content, have helped drive subscriber growth at a time when many people are homebound due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Since last year, Spotify has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buy companies like Gimlet Media, a podcast producer, and Ringer, the sports and entertainment podcast network founded by sports writer Bill Simmons.

The company said the new technology will help podcast publishers earn more from their work.

“We are still in the early chapters of the streaming audio industry story, but it is absolutely clear that the potential is significant,” Spotify’s Chief Content & Advertising Business Officer Dawn Ostroff said.

Spotify now has 1.9 million podcasts, up from 1.5 million in the second quarter, boosted by big launches such as The Michelle Obama Podcast and Mama Knows Best by influencer Addison Rae.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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