Peloton is pissing off the music industry, but some tech companies are learning how to play nice with creatives

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Happy Thorsday! Thursday is actually named after Thor, the Norse god of Thunder. That is all.
the big one
David Israelite does not approve
Just last week, we wrote about the ongoing dispute between The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and Spotify over a ruling ordering streaming services to payout more money to songwriters.

At the center of that dispute was NMPA CEO David Israelite, who made headlines after he accused Spotify of “suing songwriters.” 

Israelite is back in action this week and this time he’s going after Peloton, the in-home fitness startup. On Wednesday, the NMPA filed a lawsuit against Peloton seeking $150 million in damages. 

Spin Class: Peloton has built a $4 billion business centered around the “digital fitness studio” on its cardio machines, which feature live-streaming and on-demand video fitness classes.

The lawsuit alleges Peloton’s video classes have used more than 1,000 songs without proper licensing and they should be shelling out more cash for the rights.

Peloton’s response: ...we’re looking into it.

Not a great look for Peloton, but at the moment these are just allegations.
 

Splice plays nice

On the same day that Peloton was handed the lawsuit, sample-selling startup Splice raised $57.5 million. 

Splice is a marketplace for samples (essentially short sound files used by music producers) that currently has more than 2.5 million users, ranging from middle school DJs to professional musicians.

Amatuer and professional musicians alike can sell their own samples on Splice for other users to access royalty-free (Splice users pay a monthly subscription to access everything). 

At a time when artists aren’t seeing the returns they expected from streaming, Splice gives an often-underappreciated arm of the industry (producers) a new revenue stream. The company has paid out more than $15 million to artists so far.

What did we learn? Peloton (if the allegations prove true) is a perfect example of how tech companies treat music rights as an afterthought while Splice shows how mutually beneficial relationships between tech and creatives are possible.
the almost big one

Disney owns your childhood and now basically everything else


Disney completed its $71.3B acquisition of 21st Century Fox yesterday in one of the largest media mergers of all time. 

Here’s what Disney just snatched up:
  • 20th Century Fox TV and film studios (including back catalog: Simpsons, Titanic)
  • TV Networks (notable mentions: FX and Nat Geo)
  • X-men & Fantastic Four rights (uniting with the rest of the Marvel universe Disney already owns)
  • A controlling stake in Hulu (it picked up 30% from Fox and previously owned 30%)
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What is Fox keeping? Mostly news and sports -- newsman Rupert Murdoch is ditching the entertainment assets and getting back to his roots. Fox Corp will still own Fox Sports (NFL), Fox News, a bunch of publications (WSJ), and Fox TV network.

Wait, didn’t Disney just buy the rights to Fox TV shows? Yep, it’s a sticky situation. Fox Corp will retain the Fox TV network but Disney owns the Fox TV studio. So if the Fox TV network wants to broadcast New Girl, Uncle Mickey gets paid. 

Disney's next act With the streaming wars heating up, content is king. And to stretch a Lion King reference, pretty much everything the light touches is Disney’s kingdom now. It’s clear Disney is taking streaming seriously, with Hulu in the family and plans to launch its own streaming service Disney+ later this year.
startup roundup
TechCrunch has been covering Y-Combinator’s Winter 2019 startup class and there are some real gems. Our favorites:

Blazing in bulk
As TC puts it, the Costco of weed -- Flower Co sells and delivers weed in bulk for paying members ($100/year for the membership). And they’re moving serious product, selling $200k/month to 700 members. You do the math. Just kidding, we’ll do it -- that’s an average of $285 in pot sold per member. 

Man-pill
Yourchoice, a pharma company based out of Berkeley, claims to have created a male birth-control pill with no side effects. 

The juice is loose
Electric vehicles are the future but charging infrastructure is lacking. AmpUp is building a two-sided marketplace so roadtrippers can quickly find and reserve a charging spot and anyone who wants to make some extra cash can run a charging station. That's clever.
Allure System's model robo-renderings
Artificial modeling
Allure Systems is using AI to generate apparel modeling shots for brands -- apparently companies spend $8 billion per year on photographers and models.

Just snap a photo of your dress and Allure Systems will generate an array of photos on various models across the size spectrum. It’s kind of creepy but the company is already on a $1M+ run rate. 

Shef’s table
Shef lets you purchase premade home-cooked meals from local chefs (avg price $6.50/meal) -- and they deliver. It’s not a one-off meal Postmates situation, it’s more like Blue Apron weekly batch delivery, except you don’t have to cook the meal.

You can currently only sell home cooked meals in California so they're starting in the Bay Area.
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Nitpicker in chief

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