Get ready to see Spotify’s looping videos on Instagram

Following Spotify’s confirmation of a new Stories feature, initially being tested by social media influencers, the company this morning announced it will now allow artists to reach their Instagram fan bases in a new way, too. However, in this case, they aren’t creating Spotify Stories they can market elsewhere on their social media, but instead are able to share their unique video art from Spotify’s Canvas feature directly to their Instagram.

Canvas launched into beta last fall, allowing artists to replace the album art that appears when a song is playing with a moving, visual experience that plays in a short loop. Canvas videos have had mixed reviews as some users find the imagery distracting while others seem to prefer it.

Starting today, the thousands of artists in the Canvas beta will be able to share their looping videos to Instagram with just a tap.

From the app’s Artists profile, each track that included a Canvas will have a “Share” icon next to it. By tapping that icon, artists can share the song and its Canvas to Instagram Stories. The post will look like a regular Spotify share with cover art and a link to play the track on Spotify. However, now their looping video will be the backdrop.

Currently, the Canvas beta is only available to those using the Spotify for Artists app on iOS. Spotify says it’s working to bring the sharing feature to Android users soon.

In addition, fans seeing the Canvas on Instagram aren’t counted in the Canvas metrics, unless they click through to Spotify, the company says.

The feature itself is intended to aid artists who are marketing their new songs to fans on Instagram as well as for highlighting updates to Canvas — like those that are updated to include clips from a new music video, new art, or live performances, for example.

One high-profile artist who’s taking advantage of Canvas is Billie Eilish — the artist who just swept last night’s Grammy Awards by winning the four biggest prizes — best new artist, record of the year, album of the year, and song of the year. Eilish has used Canvas to share animated versions of fan art, which helps her to better engage with her fan base.

Spotify claims that adding a high-quality Canvas has increased track shares by up to 200%, in addition to lifting streams, saves, and artist profile visits. By expanding Canvas to Instagram, those shares should bump up even higher, the company believes.

Despite its social media media-inspired features, like the new Stories addition or the looping videos of Canvas, Spotify doesn’t intend for its streaming app to become a new social platform. Instead, its focus is on building features that artists and listeners can leverage to better connect with social media fan bases elsewhere — either to help market themselves and their music or to improve discoverability of new music among their followers.

Artists interested in Canvas can sign up for the waiting list here.

 

 

via Click on the link for the full article

Get ready to see Spotify’s looping videos on Instagram

Following Spotify’s confirmation of a new Stories feature, initially being tested by social media influencers, the company this morning announced it will now allow artists to reach their Instagram fan bases in a new way, too. However, in this case, they aren’t creating Spotify Stories they can market elsewhere on their social media, but instead are able to share their unique video art from Spotify’s Canvas feature directly to their Instagram.

Canvas launched into beta last fall, allowing artists to replace the album art that appears when a song is playing with a moving, visual experience that plays in a short loop. Canvas videos have had mixed reviews as some users find the imagery distracting while others seem to prefer it.

Starting today, the thousands of artists in the Canvas beta will be able to share their looping videos to Instagram with just a tap.

From the app’s Artists profile, each track that included a Canvas will have a “Share” icon next to it. By tapping that icon, artists can share the song and its Canvas to Instagram Stories. The post will look like a regular Spotify share with cover art and a link to play the track on Spotify. However, now their looping video will be the backdrop.

Currently, the Canvas beta is only available to those using the Spotify for Artists app on iOS. Spotify says it’s working to bring the sharing feature to Android users soon.

In addition, fans seeing the Canvas on Instagram aren’t counted in the Canvas metrics, unless they click through to Spotify, the company says.

The feature itself is intended to aid artists who are marketing their new songs to fans on Instagram as well as for highlighting updates to Canvas — like those that are updated to include clips from a new music video, new art, or live performances, for example.

One high-profile artist who’s taking advantage of Canvas is Billie Eilish — the artist who just swept last night’s Grammy Awards by winning the four biggest prizes — best new artist, record of the year, album of the year, and song of the year. Eilish has used Canvas to share animated versions of fan art, which helps her to better engage with her fan base.

Spotify claims that adding a high-quality Canvas has increased track shares by up to 200%, in addition to lifting streams, saves, and artist profile visits. By expanding Canvas to Instagram, those shares should bump up even higher, the company believes.

Despite its social media media-inspired features, like the new Stories addition or the looping videos of Canvas, Spotify doesn’t intend for its streaming app to become a new social platform. Instead, its focus is on building features that artists and listeners can leverage to better connect with social media fan bases elsewhere — either to help market themselves and their music or to improve discoverability of new music among their followers.

Artists interested in Canvas can sign up for the waiting list here.

 

 

via Click on the link for the full article

Max Q: Lego Space Stations and robot astronauts

Max Q is a new weekly newsletter all about space. Sign up here to receive it weekly on Sundays in your inbox.

This week saw a huge funding round for a new space startup that’s working on the problem of distribution and use of the new data networks made possible by the explosion in the small satellite and satellite constellation industry. But we also saw one of the next wave of launch startups encounter a bit of a setback on their path to actually delivering their first rocket to orbit.

Lego is selling an ISS kit

Lego is putting a new official International Space Station kit up for sale starting next month, after the project was originally suggested on its Ideas crowdsourcing platform. The new kit comes in at an impressive 864 pieces, and includes astronaut minifigs for simulated spacewalks, plus a Space Shuttle and a capsule.

It’s bound to be a hot item once it’s actually released, so I would say it’s probably best to get an order in fast once this goes on sale when February kicks off if you want to pick one up .

Skylo raises $103 million for IoT satellite comms

There’s been a huge increase in the number of satellites and satellite constellations in operation, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for devices here on Earth to access the data networks many of those new satellites operate. Previously stealth startup Skylo aims to make it much easier for these networks to provide useful services here on Earth, and they’ve raised a new round of $103 million to make that happen, bringing their total raised to $116 million.

ISRO’s path to human spaceflight includes humanoid astrobots

Visitors take selfies with ‘Vyommitra’ the first prototype half humanoid robot developed by the Inertial Systems Unit of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for its planned ‘Gaganyaan’ unmanned mission at an exhibition during a symposium on Human Spaceflight and Exploration – Present Challenges and Future Trends in Bangalore on January 23, 2020. (Photo by Manjunath Kiran / AFP) (Photo by MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

India’s Space Research Organization is getting ready for its first human spacecraft launches, set for 2022. The path to that goal includes sending up a half-humanoid robot called ‘Vyommitra,’ whose face resembles that of a human woman. This robot is able to perform all the in-flight procedures that a real human pilot would be required to do, and will help test the agency’s Gaganyaan spacecraft before any people give it a go.

Firefly Aerospace starts a fire

Launch startup Firefly Aerospace has overcome its fair share of difficulties, including a bankruptcy filing, but now it’s underway with hot fire testing of its Alpha launch vehicle. Unfortunately, its first test of the engines that power this rocket with the spacecraft assembled resulted in a fire on on the launch pad, which will mean an investigation to figure out how not to do that in future.

NASA sets cargo manifests for first lunar landers

astrobotic peregrine

NASA’s first lunar lander missions provided by commercial contractors are set to fly this year – two landers should launch if all goes to plan, including one from Astrobotic and one from Intuitive Machines. Both of these are partners with the agency through its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) sourcing program, and their landers will hopefully prove the viability of using private suppliers to get key experiments and cargo to the Moon’s surface ahead of the planned return of human astronauts.

Capella Space has a new and improved Earth observation satellite

Startup Capella Space has a new satellite design that can provide best-in-class resolution on a spacecraft of its size, which should unlock lots of additional demand for its services from clients who want to be able to image parts of the Earth on demand with fast turnaround time and plenty of detail.

Rocket Lab’s first mission of 2020 is for the NRO

The National Reconnaissance Office is Rocket Lab’s first client of 2020 for a launch, and the mission is set to take off from the company’s New Zealand launch pad at the end of this month. This is also the first mission the NRO has awarded under its ‘Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket’ or RASR contract model, which basically aims for cheap and fast launch vehicle sourcing.

via Click on the link for the full article

Mural raises $23M Series A after history of capital-efficient growth

This morning Mural, a software startup focused on visual collaboration1, announced that it closed a $23 million Series A round of capital. The funds come after MURAL, formerly Mural.ly, had raised just a few million dollars previously. That fact made its round interesting: How did the company raise ten times its prior total in one round, and why did it pursue so much money in a single shot?

TechCrunch chatted with the company’s CEO Mariano Suarez-Battan and Weston Gaddy, the round’s lead investor hailing from Radian Capital, to better understand the investment. Endeavor Catalyst and Google’s Gradient Ventures also put money into the round.

Efficient growth

Around the time when WeWork’s IPO was collapsing under its own hubris, the venture market changed. In a flash, growth lost its shine, and efficient growth became the new hot thing. Mural got there a little earlier than its market, which appears to have put it in a strong position today.

Asked why the company had put together a $23 million round when it did, Suarez-Battan told TechCrunch that after growing the company on the back of customer revenue, it felt in 2019 that it was time to add more capital to the bank.

“We grew with our customers,” the CEO said, going back in time to explain: “Starting in 2014, IBM became our first and biggest customer. And since then we’ve been selling to large firms, [today] most of our revenue comes from large firms.” The CEO went on to cite “six-figure deals and a couple that are more than a million bucks a year” as evidence that his company’s approach to growth has worked.

Where does the new capital come in? According to Suarez-Battan, in 2019, the company started to notice that customers wanted to buy more from it. This was evidence, he said, that the company’s “land-and-expand motion” was working. He says that enterprise momentum was the impetus to bring in a great team to “build a group of people that can help, interact with consultants, and go to market together.”

So on the back of customer momentum and proven demand, the firm is going to staff up. That’s a pretty traditional use of venture capital, but one that, given the firm’s history of capital efficiency, seems to fit the current climate.

Gaddy also answered the why now, and why so much question, saying that Mural is riding a “secular trend in terms of how people are going to produce creative work.” He also said that the company’s user traction, product traction and revenue traction were evidence of product-market fit. Investors love product-market fit.

The market

Mural is a tool that can be seen as a remote-work-friendly service. It’s also workplace collaboration software, putting it smack-dab in the middle of two current trends in Startuplandia.

Remote work is growing, albeit more slowly than its acolytes might have you think, while workplace collaboration tooling has seen tremendous venture interest. Recall that the hottest startup out of the last Y Combinator batch was Tandem, which calls itself a “virtual office for remote teams,” making another company that helps remote staffs and others collaborate.

We haven’t heard much from, or about, Tandem lately, but Mural is certainly now richer than it ever has been. We’ll pester for some growth metrics in a few quarters.

  1. Object-oriented, remote-friendly, team-work? Team-oriented, object-friendly, work for teams? Digital whiteboards gone mad! You get the idea.

via Click on the link for the full article

GM commits $3 billion to build electric and autonomous vehicles in Michigan

GM said Monday it will invest $2.2 billion into its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant to produce all-electric trucks and SUVs as well as a self-driving vehicle unveiled by its subsidiary Cruise. The automaker will invest an additional $800 million in supplier tooling and other projects related to the launch of the new electric trucks.

GM will kick off this new program with an all-electric pickup truck that will go into production in late 2021. The Cruise Origin, the electric self-driving shuttle designed for ride sharing, will be the second vehicle to go into production at the Detroit area plant.

Detroit-Hamtramck will be GM’s first fully-dedicated electric vehicle assembly plant. When fully operational, the plant will create more than 2,200 jobs, according to GM.

The investment announcement follows a recent spate of electric and autonomous vehicle related news by GM including the formation of a joint venture with LG Chem  to mass produce battery cells for its electric vehicles. The two companies said in December they will invest up to a total of $2.3 billion into the new joint venture and will establish a battery cell assembly plant on a greenfield manufacturing site in the Lordstown area of Northeast Ohio that will create more than 1,100 new jobs. Groundbreaking is expected to take place in mid-2020.

This joint venture will supply battery cells for the electric vehicles manufactured at Detroit-Hamtramck.

Cruise unveiled January 21 a driverless vehicle called Origin — the product of a multi-year collaboration with parent company GM and investor Honda that is designed for a ridesharing service. The shuttle-like vehicle — branded with Cruise’s trademark orange and black colors — has no steering wheel or pedals and is designed to travel at highway speeds.

“Through this investment, GM is taking a big step forward in making our vision of an all-electric future a reality,” GM president Mark Reuss said during a press event. “Our electric pickup will be the first of multiple electric truck variants we will build at Detroit-Hamtramck over the next few years.”

Detroit Hamtramck employs 900 people who build the Cadillac CT6 and the Chevrolet Impala. GM plans to idle the plant for several months, starting at the end of February, as renovations begin.

via Click on the link for the full article