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Spotify Versus Kakao M
The K-Pop world is in disarray this morning, after Kakao M, a South Korean music distributor, yanked their artists from Spotify. Kakao M distributes over a third of the country’s most popular artists. Up until recently, they’ve allowed their artists to be on Spotify and Spotify was not available in South Korea. Kakao M has their own streaming service called MelOn.
Spotify launched in South Korea last month. Kakao M’s songs were region locked on the app, but the fact Kakao M pulled their catalogue led to many to speculate that Spotify moving into the country was enough to break up the uneasy truce between the streaming giant and Korean music monopoly.
Kakao M, in a statement, blamed Spotify’s insistence on negotiating global and domestic contracts at the same time, which allowed their deal with Kakao M to lapse. Spotify, in their own statement, confirmed that hundreds of songs have been removed from their system, but they did push back against the rumors that this is all because Spotify is available in South Korea now, also saying it was due to a global licensing agreement and that it’s not connected to their recent launch in the country.
One really interesting aspect about all of this is that the removal of Kakao M’s artists has completely screwed up streaming totals. K-Pop fans (and all pop music stans) use streaming data and chart positions to wage fandom warfare against each other. The group SEVENTEEN lost close to a billion plays.
As of around mid-day Monday, some artists began reappearing on Spotify. So it seems like whichever company was having the temper tantrum has made their point. But I think this whole fiasco proves just how precarious our current DRM-backed streaming platform landscape is. And, of course, we know exactly what happens when these companies take their ball and go home. I’ve already seen more than a few K-Pop stans sharing tips on how to pirate their favorite songs in case they get snapped out of existence again.
Excited to watch K-Pop stans bring back What.CD.
Post Malone’s Pokémon Concert
Post Malone performed a virtual concert for Pokémon’s 25th anniversary on Saturday. It wasn’t technologically as cool as Travis Scott’s Fortnite virtual concert, but it featured a CGI Post Malone autotune rap/singing surrounded by a bunch of Pokémon. He made a Hooty And The Blowfish cover for it, which is honestly great and watching him perform it next to a Charizard was charming as hell.
Other parts of Post Malone’s set, however, were a little less Pokémon-friendly…
You can watch parts of the performance over on the Pokémon YouTube channel. My favorite comment underneath the video: “Imagine you're an average dude in the world of Pokemon, maybe you're a gym trainer or market person. Then one day a tattooed man starts flying through the sky on a rock singing all the while.”
Post Malone’s Hooty cover is also going on a new Pokémon 25 album that’s coming out next fall, which will also feature folks like Katy Perry. I’m interested to the hear the album! Though, I doubt any of the songs will be as good as the absolute banger “2.B.A. Master” from the first Pokémon album.
New Clubhouse Dropped
This morning Instagram announced that it was launching “Live Rooms,” which will allow people to go live with three other users. This announcement only comes a few days after Twitter announced it was adding a community tool, which would integrate with its Spaces audio functionality. The announcement immediately drew comparisons to, uh, every other company’s Clubhouse equivalent.
I’ve been wildly dismissive of Clubhouse. Sorry, I’m not very punk, but I’m too punk for the conference call app! But whether or not I agree with the hype, you can’t argue that it’s definitely gotten under the skin of other platforms’ product teams.
The idea that every app will have a Clubhouse killer built into its feature set seems stupid until you shift the way you think about what a modern online platform is. Five years ago, they may have been a unique product first, which would then attract users. But now, that dynamic has firmly been flipped.
Or as Ellis Hamburger, the head of marketing strategy at Snapchat, tweeted last week:
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, sometimes LinkedIn, and maybe TikTok will all continue to offer their users the same features because they’ve reached a scale where the main thing they’re selling is other users, not the tools they use to communicate and create content. I call this MySpace-proofing your app.
Which means, very soon, all major platforms will have:
A central feed with comments, likes, friend or follow counts, a sharing function, and a profile page of some kind.
Some form of both group and peer-to-peer direct messaging.
Short form video tools with remixable audio options
Temporary content creation, presented in a story format, usually also featuring AR video and image filters and stickers.
A Discord/Twitch/Zoom-style live presentation tool.
A podcast-like audio-only feature.
A groups feature.
Providing all these things to users to keep them on the site is probably extremely complicated and requires a lot upkeep. Which, more than any newfound love of audio, may be actually why an app like Clubhouse seems so threatening.
A Good Meme
The #MilkTeaAlliance Comes Sharper Into Focus
Back in October, I wrote about the Milk Tea Alliance. I’ve been following the movement via the fairly small subreddit for it over the last few months. I was curious if it would be able to successfully grow to into something larger. Over the last few weeks, it seems like it may actually be entering a new phase.
It started as a way for Hong Kong protesters to share organizing tips and protest toolkits with the Thai activists who mobilized against the country’s monarchy last year. Quick aside: Thai protesters have been using a modified version of the theme song from anime Hamtaro. They compare their lack of freedom to that of the hamster Hamtaro being kept in a cage.
The Milk Tea Alliance have been expanding, though, beyond Hong Kong and Thailand. It has recently connected with activists in Myanmar, where protests against the ongoing coup became incredibly violent once again over the weekend. It has also attempted to build solidarity with Indian farmers, though that seems less solid.
Outside of Reddit, the hashtag on Twitter is worth checking out. Even as their own local activists were rounded up and jailed this weekend, Hong Kongers gathered in support of Myanmar, flashing the three-finger Hunger Games salute which is now part of the Milk Tea Alliance toolkit.
And most interestingly, activists identifying themselves as Anonymous have translated a document called the “hk19 manual” into Burmese, which uses the Hong Kong protests’ Dungeons & Dragons-style protest classes and roles system to organize a decentralized protest movement.
If you didn’t know, the main way Hong Kongers organized during their own democracy push was to create classes and roles and then use those to delineate tasks — fire magicians threw molotov cocktails, gear vendors organized protective equipment, scouts reported policy movement to Telegram channels, mappers organized scout reports, keyboard fighters manned online propaganda campaigns, etc.
Ocean Galaxy Lights On Twitter And Hematite Rings On TikTok
Click beneath a viral tweet right now and chances are you’ll be met with a link to the Ocean Galaxy Light projector. I’ve had more than a few readers message me about these. It should come as no surprise, but, according to Trustpilot reviews, these projectors are probably not worth buying if you see them pop up in your feed.
A one-star review from January writes, “I received a defective product that does not work. It wouldn't even turn on. I emailed the company asking for either a refund or a product that works. They responded asking for a video proving that it doesn't work. I sent them what they requested and that's when they stopped responding to my emails.”
But these kinds of advertisements are all over the place lately. The hematite ring is particularly popular on TikTok right now.
If you’ve never heard of this one, it’s been popular in wellness communities for a while. But, also, hematite is extremely brittle. On TikTok, the fact you can break a hematite ring just by looking at it wrong has become it’s own marketing gimmick, with users claiming that if the ring breaks it’s because of all the negative energy its absorbing from your various relationships.
Six or seven years ago, the consensus was that the best way to sell something on the internet was to get influencers to do, i.e. you’d want Khloe Kardashian to be the one posting about your tummy tea. Now, though, most of these brands aren’t even working with “micro-influencers,” instead going after nano-influencers, or just random people.
Anyways, I’m offended that none of these brands have asked me to advertising their streamer lights or gamer chairs in-between Garbage Day write-ups about furries and anime memes. Hit me up, let’s sell this bad boy out.
What Twitter Harassment Actually Looks Like
Go check out this amazing piece by Erin Gallagher about Twitter harassment. Erin is one of my favorite misinformation researchers. Her speciality is creating oddly-beautiful and incredibly insightful maps of how digital information moves. I actually did an interview with her for paying subscribers back in December. Her newest piece on harassment analyzes how a Twitter crew called The Shed brigade and harass journalists.
An Extremely Good YouTube Video
I have watched this no less than 50 times since I first saw it yesterday. It’s hilarious, but it’s also really well done? It comes from a YouTube channel called OwlKitty, which digitally inserts a cat named Lizzy into various movies. According to the channel’s about section, “ Lizzy loves her laser pointer, her adoptive mother (a 10 year-old tabby) and the taste of cream cheese. She’s never caught a bird.”
A Good Tweet
P.S. here’s the rarest Pepe of all.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***