Tuition Costs Suck, But College Students can Save on a Spotify + Hulu Bundle

The cost of college can be expensive, but the cost of streaming unlimited music, movies and TV is now more affordable for U.S college students than you would think. Just recently Spotify joined forces with the TV streaming service, Hulu, in hopes to gain more subscribers on both platforms, and create a new partnership.

spotify huluOn September 7th, these two different entertainment platforms officially opened up their brand-new deal, $4.99 a month for access to both Spotify and Hulu, for U.S college students only. This bundle is the same price for regular Spotify, but now you get Hulu added on for free through this new offer. Both companies continue to have their own separate apps, so there will be no technology integration, where you would see Hulu suggestions within Spotify’s app. So, in a sense, yes they are bundled together, but each still operates completely separated from the other.

In the past, Spotify has tried to push their original videos into the spotlight and grab their listener’s attention. But if you watch one of their original short episodes, you would understand why nobody would sign up to Spotify strictly to watch any of these episodes. It has long since abandoned those plans for combining music and TV. With this new plan with Hulu, Spotify may not need to start from scratch on their TV channel idea. We could be seeing something big in the near future with these two platforms partnership that has already been created.

SpotifyThe landscape in the music streaming business can be very competitive. When you look at the number of subscribers for Spotify (60 million) and Apple Music (27 million), however, you can see that this entertainment bundle is only going to increase their numbers and widen the gap between their competition. Apple hasn’t announced anything about what they might potential do in reaction towards this new bundle.

Hulu’s plan in all of this is to hopefully gain a larger number of subscribers and make a habit of students continuing to use Hulu after they graduate college. By getting access to Hulu for free, students will get introduced to streaming TV and will hopefully enjoy the experience and want to keep Hulu. On the other hand, Spotify is trying to do a similar strategy. Students get half price to Spotify premium, but once they graduate it goes back to normal price. Spotify is hoping to draw in those students at a cheap price and access to Hulu and keep them once they graduate. Spotify is paying for all the advertising and digital promotion, while Hulu doesn’t have to pay anything. But Hulu is not getting any revenue by letting Spotify subscribers gain access to their streaming network.

With such a low cost, college students can get the perfect entertainment bundle with music and TV streaming ability. We will see if these two companies continue to share their networks and advance their market to more than just U.S college students. This entertainment bundle is nothing like we have seen before, and we will see if it works out for both Spotify and Hulu.

-Nick Langel

Why Watch when you can Listen? The Evolution of Podcasts

With the holiday season right around the corner, Americans across the country are traveling for hours to visit friends and family. For me, I have a few gruelingly long trips ahead of me. When I was younger, I would spend the time playing car games with my brother and sister or pestering my parents. Today, I listen to podcasts.

podcastsA podcast is “a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.” According to the History of Podcasting, podcasts are the “method of spreading information, has become a recognized medium for distributing audio content, whether it be for corporate or personal use.” Today, the podcast industry is booming. There are about 250,000 unique podcasts spread over 100 language and iTunes had over 1 billion podcast subscribers in 2013.

How podcasts came to be was not as staggering as its current listening reach. The beginning of podcasts come from small internet sites who were creating podcasts about specific topics and people for people who cared about the niche topic or person.

Podcasts did not garner national recognition until 2015 when This American Life, a public radio show, developed the podcast Serial. This podcast used investigative journalism to explore the murder of a young high school girl and the boy convicted of that murder. The listener had to listen to each episode in order to understand and follow the story. This podcasts was the catalyst that helped slingshot the industry to what it is today.

podcastsWhile there are many reasons for podcasts popularity, here are a few of the basic reasons I believe podcasts work:

  • Podcasts cover a wide range of topics. The thousands of different podcasts available cover a variety of topics that can pique the interest of any person. Some of the more common topics for podcasts are: religion, comedy and humor, crime, educational, feminist, history, horror, and science fiction. Christianity leads the way in active podcasts on iTunes in 2015 with 23,200 active podcasts.
  • Podcasts are portable. Unlike television where you need to sit down to enjoy it, podcasts allow listeners to listen to the podcast during any part of their day. I listen to podcasts when I’m working out, shopping for groceries, waiting in line at the bank and during my very few attempts at cleaning.
  • Podcasts are relatively inexpensive. For the podcaster, podcasts are easy and relatively inexpensive to make. All a person needs is equipment to record and edit the podcast and a way to publish it online. For the listener, podcasts can be found free online. If you want to create a podcast, Sound Cloud, is a great place to start.

While podcasts had humble beginnings, they have escalated into a thriving industry. An estimated 50 million people listen to podcasts each month. This high number of people listening to podcasts is reflected in the growing revenue of the podcast industry. In fact, estimates put the 2017 podcast revenue at 220 million dollars, an 85% growth from the previous year. Looking into the future, companies are working to determine how ads on podcasts can be effective. Until then, podcasts will continue to thrive as a way to educate listeners around the globe on a variety of topics.

-Daniel Roers

Worth the Wait? The Problem of First Day Glitches

As many of you have experienced, you buy a new device or download a new software update on the first day it releases. Well when you do that, there are bound to be some glitches with the software. This is what I call “First Day Glitches.” Many companies have this problem including some of the best companies out there. Whether it be Apple, Nintendo, or even Microsoft, it’s basically inevitable.

glitchesFirst let’s start out with Apple and their recent update iOS 11 that launched on September 18th, 2017. This is exactly one week after the iPhone 8 and iPhone X launch. On the first day, many users were experiencing issues. One of those issues was with the iPad, with graphics that were completely out of whack. The user would unlock the screen, and right away the bar that includes all of your favorite apps would be in the middle of the screen. This made it impossible to get to some of your apps that were underneath that bar. Another problem users ran into was with Apple Pay. Some people reported that Apple Pay would not work, or would completely crash when they tried to use it.

With this new update, Apple added a new feature that records your screen while you use it. Although this was a good idea on Apple’s end, it didn’t have the greatest first impression. Users would start recording and their iPhone would freeze or wouldn’t record audio like it was supposed to. The only way to unfreeze your phone was restarting it.

Apple isn’t the only company to have these kinds of problems. Nintendo had had a couple of pretty big issues when they first launched new products. One of those issues was with the JoyCon controllers not being able to connect to the screen when in portable mode. This raised many red flags because it is one of the key points for the switch being both portable like a GameBoy or stationary like a console. The other major issue with the Switch was that the screen would glitch to the point of not being able to see your game or control it at all. This video shows the extent of problems that it caused for many people.

The last company is Microsoft, and they problems they encountered with their launch of the Xbox One. On the first day, Microsoft released their “Day One edition” of the console which had some problems of its own. The “Green Screen of Death” was the biggest issue among them all. On the first startup of the console, the screen would freeze on the screen shown below. Many people got lucky and just unplugged their console and restarted it but some people had to send it back to Microsoft to get fixed. Gamers that also played on the Xbox 360 compared this to the “Red Ring of Death” which cost Microsoft nearly $1 Billion.

glitchesMany other Microsoft gamers complained about the optical disc drive either not reading discs or making a crunching noise when the disc was inserted. Along with that, the download times of games was very slow, but the explanation for this is based on how large the game files are in order to provide such high-quality graphics. The higher the graphic quality, the bigger the file will be. This is one of those times you have to decide what you would rather have. Quality graphics and slow download time? Or Bad graphics and fast download time? Read more here.

Overall, these companies are great companies even with their flaws, and it is impossible to be perfect. These examples are why I always wait a few days or a few weeks until getting that new device or downloading that new software. If you wait most of the major bugs and glitches will be taken care of.

Here are a few questions to think about. Are you one of the many that have to have the newest thing right away? Or do you wait?

If you were involved with one of these companies, what would you recommend doing differently to make the first day go smoother?

And what are some other examples that you have bought or downloaded something on the first day it released that had some glitches like these?

Brett Olson

“LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO”: IS TAYLOR SWIFT A COPYCAT?

We all know by now that Taylor Swift is in love with her two cats, Olivia and Meredith, due to her abundance of cat pics on Instagram, but since her new song, “Look What You Made Me Do”, was released on August 25th, many listeners have been calling her a copy-cat. Why?

Taylor Swift

The song from her new album “Reputation” has accumulated almost 600 million views since its release date on YouTube and has given the 27-year-old, T-Swift, her biggest music video debut to date, according to Variety.  However, it is impossible to miss the similarities it possesses with one of the biggest hits of the 1990s, a song that almost everyone has danced to in the mirror at least once in their life: “I’m Too Sexy,’ written by Fred Fairbrass, Richard Fairbrass, and Rob Manzoli.

Copyright laws have been a fundamental part of the music industry, allowing musicians and writers to have full legal rights over their creation. In fact, according to Gallagher, Callahan, & Gartrell Law, copyright begins at the moment of fixation- when the music and lyrics have been set down on paper, recorded, or stored on a computer, and laws protects the musician even if the song was never registered.  The copyright will also continue to protect the composition for seventy years beyond the life of the author. One example of copyright infringement was in 2015 with the hit song “Blurred Lines,” written by Robin Thicke, with co-songwriter, Pharrell Williams. The song had copied elements of one of Marvin Gaye’s hit songs, and his family sued Thicke and Williams for $7.3 million, according to the New York Times.

So how did Swift get around this law without legal punishment? The members of Right Said Fred are each credited as co-songwriters and, according to Vulture, they were not aware of Swift’s interest in the soundtrack until two days before its initial release date. In fact, they heard the finished mix the exact same day the rest of the world were listening to it on the radio driving home from work, as Swift had reached out to their publishing company, Spirit Music Group, and asked them for permission to integrate the song.

Although “I’m Too Sexy,” has been illegally incorporated in creative mixes since its inception twenty-five years ago, this is one of the few times they have actually been compensated for their share. One of the members from the British group stated, “It will affect our royalty stream, we’re very aware of that. We’ve seen bumps in our royalties when the song is used in a movie or a commercial, but this is going to be of a different level,” he says. “But we’re an independent band, we’ve paid for everything since we started; we’ve never had a major record deal. So, for us, this is cash flow that will fund our successes and our failures.”

The new hit song will continue to rake in the revenue as its popularity continues to rise, while Taylor’s personal messages from her past experiences will spread across the globe. This new album is a force to be reckoned with. Let us know what you think of her new hit song and how effective the background music was to her new hit single, “Look What You Made Me Do”.

-Savannah Necker

Don’t Be a Dick: American Vandal, a New Mocumentary

Scandal, conspiracy, lies and dicks. These are just a few of the themes from the new Netflix original, American Vandal.  This eight-episode mocumentary will have you biting your nails and sitting on the edge of your seat.  With a cliffhanger at the end of every 35-minute episode, there is no way that you won’t binge-watch American Vandal.

American VandalIt was an in-service day for teachers and the students all had the day off.  27 cars got tagged with 27 dicks in red spray paint.  Senior Dylan Maxwell is immediately pegged for doing it, being the class clown and known “dick drawer”, it just made sense to the school board and one specific teacher who has it out for him, Mrs. Shapiro.

Sophomores Peter Maldonado and Sam Ecklund think otherwise.

Peter and Sam are the two students that make a documentary, that may not prove Dylan innocent, but will reveal the truth as to what happened on that day.  With a supporting cast of students to interview, Peter and Sam seem to have their work cut out for them.  Through clever and somewhat crude means, the boys point to Dylan’s innocence, with silly things like the lack of ball hairs, and the different shape of the head than Dylan’s usual drawings.

The idea for American Vandal came to creators Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault in 2016 after seeing the success of the Netflix original documentary How to Make a Murderer.  They set out to emulate such documentaries as How to Make a Murderer, Serial and The Jinx.  In many ways, American Vandal makes light-hearted fun of the way documentaries like these are set up.  An article from Vanity Fair does a great job discussing this.

When they went to Netflix with the idea, they had to assure the creative executives that their series would be “more than just a dick joke sketch”.   American Vandal premiered on Netflix on September 15, 2017.  Ever since its release, critics and audiences alike have been raving about American Vandal.  It has a critic review consensus of 96% and an audience rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.  It also received 8.3/10 on IMdb.

One of the greatest things about American Vandal is how relatable it is to actual high school students.  Through social media and obvious, but classic, stereotypes you really feel immersed in their world.  Yacenda was quoted in an article on The Verge saying:

“The common threads were that high school kids don’t use Facebook much. Certainly not with their own friends. They use a lot of Snapchat. Instagram is the main one. But I guess you learn that kids have their public Instagram, and then they’ll have a private Instragram for just their close friends, so they  can post memes or whatever.”

Yacenda and Perrault do a great job of showing all types of high school students.  Alex Trimboli is the brown-nosing honor student who is referred to as “a little bitch”, Christa Carlyle is the student body president and is always doing crazy stunts for charity, Sara Pearson is the popular, hottest girl in school and Dylan and his friends are the burn out stoners.

American VandalSo what do you think?  Does this sound like a show that you’d be interested in?  Is the idea of minors at parties and hooking up something that should be on television?  If you have seen the show, try not to spoil it for others.  I hope you are convinced enough to watch this mystery of the spray-painted dicks.

-Mitch Diamond

A La Carte Comeback: Can Live Stream TV Take Over the OTT Audience?

Are you tired of being forced to pay for gratuitously bundled cable TV packages with hundreds of channels you aren’t going to use? I have some good news! You can now supplement your cable television experience through paid, monthly subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu!

TVAre you overwhelmed trying to keep track of all those services you’re currently subscribed to, and looking for a balanced, all-a-round package where you can pick and choose what kind of content you want? I have more good news! Cable TV is back in the form of live-streaming and has traded gratuitous channel bundles for much more economically, a-la-carte-based packaging system.

Just in my lifetime computers and the Internet have gone from rare commodities to necessities, and cell phones today would be considered supercomputers, going far beyond what was previously thought possible 20 years ago. I believe no other field compares to how incredibly visible the Digital Media field is when it comes to evolution. Technology is always improving, and companies are scrambling to keep up.

For the last decade, the cable industry has been threatened by cord cutting and that threat is still growing every year with over 22 million adults canceling their cable subscription by the end of 2017. Consumers were looking for alternatives to cable television and the ability to stream high definition video reliably was the answer.

Streaming services have developed a lot since their original conception. Most services operate by licensing the content they stream from companies such as ABC and Warner Brothers. As companies like Netflix expand internationally, licensing costs go up significantly. Since 2012, Netflix is paying more than double in licensing fees, but has dropped over 40% of their content. Much of their spending, like other services have shifted more towards original content.

TVThe picture above shows each services’ estimated budgets for original content in 2017. Each year  spending has been increasing significantly between every service with Netflix being the forerunner in spending.

While streaming services are constantly evolving, so is cable television. Over the last few years, services such as Sling and Playstation Vue have entered the playing field as the best alternative to cable television. While streaming services such as Netflix intend on completely replacing television I believe that Sling and Playstation Vue can take a different approach and focus on co-existing with streaming services while still offering content that services like Netflix will never be able to fulfill. This would be the smartest strategy since Netflix and Amazon cover the video-on-demand market.

Television companies don’t need to waste money licensing properties that a service like Netflix already carries – it would simply add unnecessary operation costs which would inevitably lead to rises in subscription costs – and value is something these services need to capitalize on the most.

TVThe demand for live television is never going to go away, and I believe that services such as Sling and Playstation Vue that offer a-la-carte style subscription packages are the perfect response to the ever-rising number of cord cutters. In fact, many of the cord cutters that I know that own homes have opted to subscribe to Sling specifically as a cost-saving method where they still get to fulfill their news and sports hunger without the costs of, say, getting their cable through Mediacom.

Do you think that live stream TV will become a casual consumer service such as Netflix where almost everyone will have it? How do you think live streaming TV affect subscription service numbers, if at all? Be sure to comment below!

-Kevin Thorn

The Future of Sports Media: How Barstool Sports Is Changing the Game

What comes to mind when you think of a sports media company? You most likely think of ESPN or Fox Sports 1, but I’m not going to talk about either one of those. Can you guess what it is? The company that I am talking about is Barstool Sports. Maybe you have heard of them or maybe you have not, but I promise you one thing, you will eventually know the name.

Sports media Barstool Sports first got its start as a free newspaper that founder, Dave Portnoy, handed around in Boston. From there, Portnoy has taken Barstool to Manhattan, where they have 70 plus employees with 20 interns and are worth an estimate of $15 million. What Barstool does is take trending news stories, specifically with sports, and make articles that are funny and satire. That is their style. Portnoy is quoted saying “We mean this to be a comedy brand”. This style definitely does justice, with their website getting 6 million visits a month.

So how did Barstool go from a free newspaper to making millions of dollars? Well their big rise started when the Chernin Group, an entertainment media company, bought 51% of Barstool Sports, but Dave Portnoy still has 100% oversite. With this big deal, Barstool moved its headquarters to Manhattan. The reason for this deal was to take Barstool to the next level, and to make it more popular. After the deal was done, Portnoy said: “This was our best shot to literally take this thing to the moon. To swing for the fences. Hopefully this deal makes us bigger, faster, stronger, better at everything we do.” Here is a link to a press conference that Barstool had following this deal. (Video)

After this deal, Barstool gained many more followers. Everything they did spiked in popularity. Barstool does not just have a website, they have podcasts, shows, and an xm radio show. Their social media sites have also gained gotten huge. Their Twitter has 915.7K followers, and their Instagram has 2.8 million followers. Barstool is also known for pioneering the slogan “Saturdays are for the boys” which has made its way to even having professional athletes saying it.

Sports media

Barstool has many podcasts with some having a lot of popularity. According to an iTunes chart, Barstool has eight podcSports mediaasts in the top forty sports podcasts. Pardon My Take is sitting at number one. Pardon My Take is a podcast that does a variety of segments and does an interview with a well-known person in the sports world. They make their episodes as funny and trendy as they can by using profane humor. With more than 500,000 listeners per episodes they definitely bring a different side to sports news, making every episode interesting and enjoyable to listen to.

Barstool also does shows that are very popular also. Their newest one is made for college football, and it is called “The Barstool Tailgate Show.” For this show, Dave Portnoy and other Barstool workers go to a college before a football game and do their own show. They made this show for the purpose to compete against the ESPN tailgate show, College Gameday. For this show Barstool went to an Iowa game and it was very popular. One of the Barstool workers actually put an ear of corn in front of a fan’s face to see if he would eat it and he actually did. They did this because of the Iowa stereotype that all Iowans love corn.

Barstool Sports has definitely made their way up the sports media ladder. So, if you are a sports fan or just like funny media, go listen to a podcasts, go on their website, or even watch one of their shows. I promise you that you will not be disappointed, and always remember, Saturdays are for the boys!

-Quentin Mendlik

iPhone X: Revolutionary for the world or Revolutionary for Apple?

No doubt the iPhone X is one of the most talked about phones coming to the market in early November, but is it honestly as revolutionary as they make it? I’m going to get this out of the way right now, I AM AN APPLE FANBOY. I love Apple. I watched the launch event and at first I was blown away by how amazing and revolutionary this new iPhone seemed to be. But when I really thought about it, about the new facial recognition, the augmented reality feature, and wireless charging. And I realized the new iPhone is not really as revolutionary as Apple claims.

iPhoneLet’s get down to some of the main features that they emphasized in the ‘Revolutionary’ iPhone. The new iPhone X is now offering wireless charging with the new glass back they incorporated into the new set of phones. Do not let it fool you though. I mean how many times do you put your phone on the charger and not needed to use it? Wireless charging sounds better than it actually is, because you cannot charge your phone and use it at the same time. Wireless charging has also been around since 2009, and Samsung, Apple’s largest competition, had wireless charging in 2013.

iPhone

Next onto one of the biggest additions into the new iPhone, Facial recognition. First off facial recognition was first used on the Google Nexus in 2011. Apple claims that this new system is better than the Touch ID. They claim that mask, clay molds of your face, and pictures will not fool the iPhone X and will only open to your face but if you have a twin they might be able to get in. This technology is so smart that it can recognize you when you grow a beard, wear a hat, cut your hair, wear sunglasses etc. I mean at the Apple event the demonstration went so well, watch one of Apple’s biggest live event fails here.

iPhone

As an iPhone owner, I have been waiting for Apple to incorporate an OLED display for the longest time. Apple has been using a Retina Display while Samsung has been using a beautiful OLED display since 2013. Apple is a little late to the party, also Apple is a little late with the edge to edge display, Samsung beat them to the case there too. I am not the only Apple user not really impressed with this new ‘Revolutionary’ phone, neither is popular YouTuber SSSniperwolf.

Is this phone revolutionary for consumers or is it revolutionary for an iPhone? Because through my research, most of the key specs that make this new iPhone ‘revolutionary’ have already been incorporated into phones in the past. Will you be buying the iPhone X? Why or why not? How do you think that it compares to other phones, like the Samsung Note 8 and Galaxy S8?

-Aaron Graham