Monday, September 3, 2018


Amazon has unleashed its latest step toward taking over, well, pretty much everything.

The world's largest online retailer launched a nationwide campaign to promote its music streaming service last week. Amazon Music was able to double its number of hours streamed over six months, but the giant still falls behind Spotify and Apple Music when it comes to the number of subscribers and control in key markets.

To catch up, Amazon is hedging a bet based on its users: Many listen to music on speakers, like Alexa. That means Amazon can negotiate with labels to offer deals like speaker-only song streaming, bringing the same music to customers at a lower cost than on some other platforms.

“Labels are now looking to Amazon, as well as YouTube and Pandora Media, to counter Apple and Spotify,” shares a recent Bloomberg report. "If new players can sign enough customers, the two leaders will lose leverage in rights negotiations."

Amazon’s success could make space for other types of competition, too. Startups with unique business models—like those that don’t hinge on collecting song and sound copyrights, but rather do support the artists who hold them—could stand to benefit as the music industry evolves. So could artists, who have a growing number of options beyond traditional publishers and labels.

New York-based music startup Kobalt is one example where copyrights aren’t king. Its publishing service offers flexible contracts to songwriters, supports them in pitching songs to artists, and provides a tech platform to help them track sales, downloads and other metrics. That means songwriters have a better sense of what they're earning from distributors like Spotify, a faster method of getting paid the money they're owed, and an agreement that guarantees they keep 100% of the rights to their work. Kobalt’s publishing roster includes artists like Zayn and Childish Gambino, and since its founding in 2000, the company has raised over $200 million.

But publishing services aren’t Kobalt’s only area of innovation. After a 2012 acquisition of AWAL, a digital distribution platform, Kobalt launched its own record label services division to support independent talent. In March it invested $150 million to expand AWAL's staff and introduce more transparent technology, helping its artists monitor royalty income by track, streaming service, country, and more. Four months later it landed a worldwide recording deal with deadmau5.

While Kobalt and other music-tech companies may not (yet) be counted among the labels, publishers or distributors that are deemed industry giants, mounting competition at the top means there will be more room for innovative companies to rise. Artists—and fans—around the world are listening.

Other Startups Making Noise In Music

Audius is on a mission to create a fully decentralized community of artists, developers, and listeners to share and defend the world’s music. The company came out of stealth earlier this month and raised a $5.5 million Series A from General Catalyst, Lightspeed and others. Cofounded by a Sri Lankan DJ and entrepreneur, Audius aims to make it easier for creators to record their work and register assets.

Roli is focused on extending the joy of music creation to everyone. Its system lets anyone shape music through easy-to-learn gestures on its connected devices. The award-winning instruments—adopted by artists like Stevie Wonder and Meghan Trainor—are an evolution of the piano keyboard that expand opportunities for musical expression.

Steereo is a hyper-local music marketing and analytics platform. Its plan? Incentivize rideshare drivers to play music from emerging and independent artists, rather than more mainstream options, while they drive. For artists, this means valuable insights like whether riders listened to or skipped a song, how many times it has been played and more.

How To Hire Your First 10 Employees ✌

The competition for startup talent is intense, and as an early-stage company, you’re already at a disadvantage. You likely can't compete with the benefits at more mature companies, offer the clout that comes with a well-established brand or even guarantee a stable future for the company.

This guide will crystallize how your company can stand out in early-stage hiring. We tackle:
  • Why someone would want to join a young startup
  • How to prep for early-stage hiring
  • How to find and vet your first hires
  • And more

30 Hot Startups (that are hiring) 🔥

🏡 powers the people involved in real estate transactions with data-driven insights to make better decisions. Hiring a front end/full stack engineer, senior sales associate, and more.

👨💻 InVision gives teams the freedom to design, review, and user test products—all without a single line of code—using intuitive tools for prototyping, task management, and version control. Hiring a sales development representative, enterprise customer success manager, and more. 

📈 Sigma Computing enables users of all backgrounds to explore, analyze, and visualize data without the help of a data specialist. Hiring a front end software engineer, engineering manager, and more.

🚌 Remix empowers 300+ local governments around the world to build better transit and street networks. Its tools enable city planners to understand the immediate impact of the decisions they make. Hiring a lead product designer, software engineer, and more.

🎹 Weav Music makes adaptive music that recomposes in real-time, changing to suit your exact context. Its Mixer app lets musicians remix their work, too. Hiring a senior mobile developer, senior audio & backend C++ developer, and more.

Check out the full list of Hot Startups That Are Hiring👈
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What Happened: In agreement with the Second and Eleventh Circuits, the Tenth Circuit held in Dish Network L.L.C. v. Ray, No. 17-1013, 2018 WL 3978537, at *6 (10th Cir. Aug. 21, 2018) that the arbitration agreement’s incorporation of AAA rules was “clear and unmistakable” evidence that the parties intended that an arbitrator decide whether the agreement allows for arbitration of class claims.

The Takeaway: Circuit courts are split over whether the adoption of the AAA rules is clear and unmistakable evidence that the parties intended to have an arbitrator decide whether an agreement allows class arbitration. Parties entering into arbitration agreements need to examine whether the applicable circuit court has ruled on this issue and then carefully select the rules they choose.

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP1111 Brickell Avenue, Suite 2500Miami, FL 33131



Organizing for Action

Today is Women's Equality Day.

It's a day to reflect on those who helped us get here, and recognize the generations of fearless women who fought for a better America -- one where everyone is treated equally and has access to the ballot box, regardless of gender.

It's a day to celebrate how far we've come, as over the past few decades women have made strides in every facet of American life. Today, more Americans understand than ever before: Our country succeeds when women succeed.

Under President Obama, we made big strides: We passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. We established a White House task force to protect students from sexual assault.

We passed Obamacare -- and more women gained quality, affordable health care, as insurers were no longer allowed to charge them more because of their gender.

But we're not there yet -- and today is also a day to recognize how far we still have to go. I'm asking you, Sula: How will you help?

Even at this moment, in 2018, inequality and discrimination are still here:
  • Women, on average, earn less than their male counterparts -- and for women of color, the disparity is even greater
  • Outdated workplace policies make working parents choose between fulfilling their family responsibilities, and following the careers of their dreams
  • Basic health care and contraceptive rights for women are under attack
We've worked too hard to have our progress stopped now.

So here's what we can do, Sula: Get involved before the midterms.

If you believe women deserve equal representation in Congress, volunteer from now until November for one of the many amazing women running for office in 2018.

If you believe women deserve equal pay, fight to make it happen -- organize with your friends to make sure your elected officials know how important this issue is.

And if you believe our country is better when women are given the same opportunities to succeed ... show up on November 6, 2018, and vote for candidates who believe that, too.

Let's keep tearing down barriers. Let's make sure women and girls have every opportunity to reach their potential. Let's get to work, right now:

I'm in



Traci Wile
Director of Community Engagement
Organizing for Action


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