Square is rolling out new mobile payment readers to 100 local businesses around the country, allowing such merchants to accept chip cards, and most notably, Apple Pay.
The move is a big deal for Square, which only last week went public. But it also adds momentum to Apple’s efforts to spread Apple Pay more broadly.
It has taken awhile for the new reader to get here. Square and Apple originally announced the new contactless reader back in June at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference.
Square’s (SQ) stock was at $12.21 on Monday, down 4.98% from Friday’s close.
Customers who want to take advantage of Apple Pay at participating Square merchants can wave their iPhones, or Apple Watch, near the reader, without making direct contact. People who use chip cards can insert their credit cards.
“Until now, technology like our new reader has been out of reach for local businesses,” said Jesse Dorogusker, head of hardware at Square. “Now Square sellers across the country can quickly and easily accept the new forms of payment that are crossing their counter tops.”
Merchants pay $49 for the latest Square reader.
According to Apple, Apple Pay is accepted in more than one million stores, including major retailers and restaurants like McDonald’s, Macy’s, ToysRUs, Walgreens and Whole Foods.
Adele’s much-anticipated album 25 will not be available on streaming services.
The most well-known case to date was Taylor Swift, who pulled her catalog from Spotify last November out of concern for the royalties paid from the service’s ad-supported listening, according to the singer. That prompted a defense from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and propelled an existing debate about streaming business models beyond music-industry circles.
Adele’s ‘25’ Sells 2.3 Million in First Three Days in U.S., Aiming for 2.9 Million Debut Week
Other artists have pursued a windowing strategy by releasing an album first to retail and later to streaming services. Jason Aldean pulled his catalog just days after Swift, but after fan complaints, returned his music to Spotify.
Tune of The Week | Lane 8 “Without You”
On Monday, Rdio declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in one of the bigger busts in the era of streamed music. The filing was expected after an announcement that the on-demand service would sell some of its key assets to Pandora for $75 million, but court papers lodged in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Francisco, California reveal more about the company’s financial state.
At the time of the bankruptcy filing, Rdio had more than $190 million in secured debt and about $30 million of unsecured debt.
Much of the secured debt is owed to Pulser Media, which provided the bulk of the company’s financing since its inception in 2008 and is now a majority owner. As for unsecured creditors, digital media set-top box manufacturer Roku is tops with a $2.7 million claim. Sony Music is next at $2.4 million. Online ticket platform AXS digital ranks third at $1.25 million, Shazam comes in at fourth at nearly $1.2 million, while Warner Music Group rounds out the top five at more than $613,000.
Rdio currently owes more for ads placed on Facebook (nearly $500,000) than to Universal Music Group ($294,000) or Merlin BV ($134,960), which represents independent record labels.
According to a declaration by Rdio general counsel Elliot Peters, the streaming company was bleeding money at a quick rate.
The bulk of Rdio’s revenue came from its $9.99 per month subscriptions. The company took in $1.5 million per month there. Advertising only accounted for $100,000 – $150,000 per month. That was dwarfed by the nearly $4 million in monthly operating expenses, including payroll for 140 employees, royalty payments to rights owners and service maintenance costs.
That meant that Rdio was losing anywhere between $1.85 to $2.4 million each month, and Peters reports Rdio “no longer has the economic means of funding such significant operating cash flow shortfall.”
By late 2014, Rdio had hired Moelis & Company, an investment bank, in an attempt to raise new equity capital, but ultimately realized it wouldn’t be possible. Rdio also reports looking for a buyer or merger partner, and ultimately decided that Pandora was making the best offer — $75 million for tech assets, but one that was contingent on a Chapter 11 filing, an auction process where overbids might result, and eventually court approval.
In the meantime, Rdio has secured $3 million debtor-in-possession financing to supplement a $2.5 million payment from Pandora, which will fund operations through the next eight weeks.
ELON MUSK IS VENTURING HEADFIRST INTO THE BATTERY BUSINESS.
Elon Musk – the 44-year-old CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX (and the chairman of the solar energy provider SolarCity) is launching a new product line via his electric-car manufacturer – Large batteries that store energy in homes and even larger batteries that do the same for utilities and businesses.
The Powerwall, a slender appliance designed to be mounted in your garage, comes in five colors and starts at $3,000; and the Powerpack, an 8-foot-tall steel box that looks a bit like a utility transformer, is aimed at the energy industry and costs roughly $25,000. These prices are roughly half of what competing battery manufacturers charge.
PANDORA IS BUYING KEY TECHNOLOGY AND TALENT FROM STREAMING MUSIC SERVICE RDIO, WHICH WILL BE SHUTTING DOWN.
Another week, another shake-up in the digital music world. Pandora, the company that pioneered personalized Internet radio, is eyeing a leap into the on-demand music space dominated by Spotify, Apple Music and, until today, Rdio.
Today, Pandora announced that it’s acquiring “key assets” from Rdio, a company that preceded Spotify in the U.S. market, but has struggled to keep up with the fast-proliferating competition in the music subscription space. The $75 million deal will give Pandora Rdio’s technology, intellectual property, and some of its talent, but crucially, not Rdio’s operating business itself, which is seeking bankruptcy protection.
It’s a pretty significant moment in streaming music. For Rdio users, this means their favorite on-demand subscription service will soon be no more: Pandora says its plans to launch a new listening experience sometime next year. For Pandora, it pits the company more directly against Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and Tidal.
For years, Pandora and Spotify have both been synonymous with what we call “streaming music,” but the products are actually quite different. Pandora has long specialized in personalized, artist and song based radio stations. Spotify, on the other hand, is an on-demand music subscription service: Users can stream any album or track they want, so long as its available in Spotify’s massive catalog.
Until on-demand services began proliferating like crazy over the last few years (Apple Music, Google Play Music, YouTube Red, and Tidal have all joined the party in the last two years), Rdio was arguably Spotify’s chief competition in the U.S. With Pandora’s acquisition of Rdio assets, Pandora will likely feel a lot more like Spotify and Apple Music by next year.
That’s good for Pandora, because in the 10 years that have passed since it started building its famous Music Genome Project – ‘the human and algorithm powered machine’ behind Pandora’s pioneering discovery and curation features—every other major player in this space has ripped off the concept. Apple launched iTunes Radio (followed by Beats One earlier this year). Spotify launched its own Pandora-inspired Internet radio features using music intelligence data from The Echo Nest, a company that Spotify then acquired in March 2014.
With today’s announcement, Pandora is lobbing a grenade at all the big players that have mimicked its core functionality and saying, essentially, that two can play at that game.
The move also helps bolster Pandora’s business model. Because even though the company’s name remains synonymous with Internet radio, it’s getting easier to build and scale machine intelligence and hire expert human curators. What Pandora started building in 2005 felt revolutionary at the time, but now there are several large, well-resourced technology companies throwing time, money, and talent at the same problem.
Of course, becoming another Spotify clone isn’t going to single-handedly save Pandora. That’s why it has been diversifying its business in other ways too. Earlier this year, the company acquired music analytics powerhouse Next Big Sound and concert ticketing platform Ticketfly.