MENA region music streaming charts ‘in development,’ industry federation says

MENA region music streaming charts ‘in development,’ industry federation says
IFPI published the “Global Music Report” in March and it showed that market revenues in the MENA region grew by 35 percent in 2021. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 19 May 2022

MENA region music streaming charts ‘in development,’ industry federation says

MENA region music streaming charts ‘in development,’ industry federation says

DUBAI: The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has announced that music streaming charts are in development for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), including IFPI’s first ever regional chart.

IFPI published the “Global Music Report” in March and it showed that market revenues in the MENA region grew by 35 percent in 2021, making the region the fastest-growing area in the world. The numbers also portray that the market is mainly made up of streaming which is 95.3 percent of the region’s revenues.

The charts are presently being tested in four countries — Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Morocco — alongside a first of its kind regional chart for the MENA region. The outcome is the product of collaborative and direct partnerships between the industry and the largest streaming services in the region, which include Anghami, Spotify, Apple, Deezer, and Youtube.

 IFPI additionally conducted a research study to demonstrate the industry’s interest in the region which showed that UAE residents listen to an average of 22.5 hours of music in a week which is 22 percent higher than the world average. The study explored music engagement of people in the country between the ages of 16-44, also found that 54 percent of people usually listen to a minimum of one Middle Eastern genre.

IFPI Chief Executive, Frances Moore said “both the research and the upcoming charts serve to demonstrate the passion music fans have for music here in the region. We are seeing how the presence and investment of record companies in the area and their work to develop and support local artists is driving positive developments in the music ecosystem.”

Highlighting the excitement of this endeavour, IFPI’s Regional Director for the MENA region, Rawan Al-Dabbas stated “this is an incredibly exciting time for music in the region. The combination of the forthcoming regional charts combined with the industry’s focus and investment in MENA going forward goes to demonstrate the exciting future for music in the region.”

She also mentioned some drawbacks for the region as there is an issue of streaming unlicensed music in the area. “There are challenges, for example unlicensed music is an issue in the region, and IFPI and our member companies are committed to working with governments here in MENA to tackle this and ensure that licensed music has a secure foundation from which to continue its exciting growth story,” she added.


Hong Kong bars some journalists from handover anniversary

Hong Kong bars some journalists from handover anniversary
Updated 6 sec ago

Hong Kong bars some journalists from handover anniversary

Hong Kong bars some journalists from handover anniversary
HONG KONG: Hong Kong authorities, citing security reasons, have barred more than 13 journalists from covering events this week marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, according to the Hong Kong Journalists Association and media reports.
The journalists represent at least seven media outlets, including international news agencies Reuters and Agence France-Presse and several others from Hong Kong, the association said in a statement posted online late Tuesday.
“The authorities have made ad hoc and narrow interview arrangements at this important juncture and have put forth vague grounds for refusal, seriously undermining the freedom of the press in Hong Kong,” the statement said. It said at least 10 journalists have been barred.
The Hong Kong Economic Journal said at least three other journalists from local news outlets were informed Wednesday that their applications to cover the July 1 events were rejected.
Hong Kong police have confirmed that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the city for the anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997. Xi’s visit will be his first trip outside of mainland China since the coronavirus pandemic took hold about 2 1/2 years ago. Police in Hong Kong, a special semi-autonomous region of China, have announced a raft of security measures, including road closures and a no-fly zone.
Strict requirements have been set for those attending the events. Journalists must have daily COVID-19 nucleic acid tests starting last Sunday and stay in a quarantine hotel from Wednesday.
Despite receiving initial approvals that included instructions for checking in to the quarantine hotel, some journalists received rejection notices on Wednesday while on their way to the hotel, while others were informed that they were barred from the events upon arrival, the Hong Kong Economic Journal said.
Authorities had invited media outlets to submit up to 20 applications to cover the events — which include a flag-raising ceremony and the inauguration of the new Hong Kong government — but later specified that only one journalist from each outlet could be sent to cover each of the two events.
Reuters said in a news report it submitted the names of two journalists to cover the events, and that both were rejected.
A Reuters spokesperson said the company was seeking further information on the matter.
The affected Hong Kong media outlets include the English-language South China Morning Post, the Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao and online news outlet HK01, the journalists association said. The South China Morning Post said in a news report that one of its photographers had been rejected, with no reason given.
Ming Pao and HK01 did not immediately comment. Agence France-Presse declined to comment and a South China Morning Post spokesperson declined to comment beyond their news report.
The affected media organizations were invited to send other journalists to cover the events, but the replacements must also meet the quarantine and testing requirements, according to the journalists association.
The Information Services Department, which sent out the initial invitations to media outlets to register to cover the events, declined to provide information on how many journalists were given accreditation and would not comment on a South China Morning Post report that one of the department’s own photographers had been barred from the events.
“The government is striking a balance as far as possible between the need of media work and security requirements,” the department said in a statement. “We will not comment on the accreditation outcome of individual organizations and persons.”

Philippine government orders Maria Ressa’s Rappler news website to close

Philippine government orders Maria Ressa’s Rappler news website to close
Updated 29 June 2022

Philippine government orders Maria Ressa’s Rappler news website to close

Philippine government orders Maria Ressa’s Rappler news website to close
  • The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and journalist said the organization will challenge the order, which was issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission
  • In an internal memo, she told Rappler staff: ‘It is business as usual for us since, in our view, this is not immediately executory without court approval’

DUBAI: The Philippine government has ordered Nobel Peace Prize laureate and journalist Maria Ressa’s online news organization, Rappler, to shut down.

Ressa revealed the development on Tuesday as she gave the keynote address at an event in Hawaii, according to media reports. She said the decree was issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The reason for the order is likely related to Rappler’s coverage of the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte. It has been critical of his regime, exposing details of his violent war on drugs and the government’s use of disinformation.

Ressa said Rappler will challenge the order to close, which “affirmed” an earlier decision to revoke the media organization’s certificates of incorporation.

“We are entitled to appeal this decision and will do so, especially since the proceedings were highly irregular,” she said.

She also distributed an internal memo to Rappler staff, according to Hawaii News Now, in which she said: “It is business as usual for us since, in our view, this is not immediately executory without court approval.”

Ressa was awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for using used her platform to raise awareness of Duterte’s alleged abuses. It was shared with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, who was honored for the decades he has spent defending freedom of speech in Russia.

Throughout her career, Ressa has faced significant backlash from the Philippine government. In June 2020, she was convicted in the country of “cyber libel” and could face prison time. The case was just one of many brought against Rappler which, as of December last year, faced seven active prosecutions.

Rappler has been praised for its coverage of Duterte’s war on drugs, along with its stories about developments in social media and technology, especially the spread of fake news and the need for regulation.

In October last year, Ressa appeared as a guest on an episode of US TV show “The Problem with Jon Stewart,” during which she appealed for “guardrails around the technology.”

She also explained the three pillars on which Rappler was built: regulating technology, supporting independent journalism, and building community.

“These are the lifeblood of democracy,” she added.


Instagram hides some posts that mention abortion

Instagram hides some posts that mention abortion
Updated 28 June 2022

Instagram hides some posts that mention abortion

Instagram hides some posts that mention abortion
  • Instagram covered a post on one page with more than 25,000 followers that shared text reading: “Abortion in America How You Can Help”
  • The Associated Press identified nearly a dozen other posts that mentioned the word “abortion” and were subsequently covered up by Instagram

WASHINGTON: Instagram is blocking posts that mention abortion from public view, in some cases requiring its users to confirm their age before letting them view posts that offer up information about the procedure.
Over the last day, several Instagram accounts run by abortion rights advocacy groups have found their posts or stories hidden with a warning that described the posts as “sensitive content.”
In one example, Instagram covered a post on one page with more than 25,000 followers that shared text reading: “Abortion in America How You Can Help.” The post went on to encourage followers to donate money to abortion organizations and to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to strip constitutional protections for abortion in the US
The post was slapped with a warning from Instagram that covered the post, reading “This photo may contain graphic or violent content.”
Berlin photographer Zoe Noble has run the Instagram page, which celebrates women who decide not to have children, for more than a year. Monday was the first time a post mentioning abortion was restricted by Instagram.
“I was really confused because we’ve never had this happen before, and we’ve talked about abortion before,” Noble said. “I was really shocked that the word abortion seemed to be flagged.”
The platform offers no way for users to dispute the restriction.
The Associated Press identified nearly a dozen other posts that mentioned the word “abortion” and were subsequently covered up by Instagram. All of the posts were informational in nature, and none of the posts featured photos of abortions. An Instagram post by an AP reporter that asked people if they were experiencing the problem was also covered by the company on Tuesday, and required users to enter their age in order to view it.
The AP inquired about the problem on Tuesday morning. Hours later, Instagram’s communication department acknowledged the problem on Twitter, describing it as a glitch.
“We’re hearing that people around the world are seeing our ‘sensitivity screens,’ on many different types of content when they shouldn’t be. We’re looking into this bug and working on a fix now,” the company tweeted.
A spokesman for Instagram-owner Meta Platforms Inc. said in an email that the company does not place age restrictions around its abortion content.
Instagram’s latest issue follows a Monday AP report that Facebook and Instagram were promptly deleting posts that offered to mail out abortion pills in states that restrict their use. The tech platforms said they were deleting the posts because they violated policies against selling or gifting certain products, including pharmaceuticals, drugs and firearms.
The AP’s review found that similar posts offering to mail a gun or marijuana were not removed by Facebook. The company did not respond to questions about the discrepancy.


Mastercard launches ‘Priceless’ music album 10-song release available first on Spotify

A Mastercard logo is seen on a credit card in this picture illustration. (REUTERS)
A Mastercard logo is seen on a credit card in this picture illustration. (REUTERS)
Updated 28 June 2022

Mastercard launches ‘Priceless’ music album 10-song release available first on Spotify

A Mastercard logo is seen on a credit card in this picture illustration. (REUTERS)
  • As part of the Beatclub collaboration, Mastercard will purchase and provide one-year Beatclub memberships for hundreds of up-and-coming creators from disenfranchised communities

DUBAI: Mastercard unveiled its first-ever music album, “Priceless,” at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last week.

The album, available first on Spotify and then other streaming platforms, features 10 songs by 10 artists from around the world, with each song incorporating the recognizable melody of the Mastercard jingle.

“Our first-ever music album featuring the inspiring, original work of 10 rising stars takes our innovative sonic branding approach to an even higher, unmatched level,” said Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s chief marketing and communications officer.

“From Algeria to Australia and Slovenia to Sweden, each of the artists integrated our melody into their songs and created something that we are all truly proud of. We hope others will enjoy these songs as much as we do,” he added.

To further its commitment to music and emerging talent, Mastercard partnered with producer Timbaland’s Beatclub music creator platform. Inspired by the original songs developed for Mastercard’s album, up-and-coming Beatclub creators were mentored by Timbaland as they remixed two standout tracks.

As part of the Beatclub collaboration, Mastercard will purchase and provide one-year Beatclub memberships for hundreds of up-and-coming creators from disenfranchised communities.

For Timbaland, the partnership was a “natural fit” given the companies’ “mutual goal of supporting artists and the industry.”

He said: “Together we’re elevating emerging artists through the power of music and mentorship. Providing platforms, tools and connections for creators to pursue their passions opens doors for countless artists to break into an industry that is often impenetrable.”

Mastercard collaborated closely with executive producer Niclas Molinder to find artists from different cultures, languages and genres. Each artist was tasked with incorporating the brand’s melody into the song, demonstrating how audio branding can be used innovatively.

The full album will feature tracks from up-and-coming artists including Michael Rice (UK), Shiraz (Lebanon), Good Harvest (Sweden), Alma Lake (Colombia/USA), Raees (Algeria), Tejas (India), Nadine Randle (UK/Sweden), Tania (Australia), Elle B. (USA) and Amaya (Slovenia).

Sonic or audio branding has existed in different forms, from radio jingles to podcasts, with brands looking to cut through the clutter in innovative ways.

Mastercard has already established a relationship with the music industry through the Priceless platform, working with artists like Jennifer Hudson and SZA, among others.

The new album was introduced at a launch party with Mastercard’s exclusive launch partner, Spotify.


Egyptian judge detained in suspected murder of anchorwoman wife Shaima Jamal

Egyptian judge detained in suspected murder of anchorwoman wife Shaima Jamal
Updated 28 June 2022

Egyptian judge detained in suspected murder of anchorwoman wife Shaima Jamal

Egyptian judge detained in suspected murder of anchorwoman wife Shaima Jamal
  • 32-year-old TV presenter was found shot dead and buried in a villa
  • Husband of deceased reported to local authorities his wife went missing over a week ago

DUBAI: Egyptian prosecutors have arrested a judge over his alleged involvement in killing his 32-year-old wife, TV anchor Shaima Jamal, and burying her in a villa in Al-Mansouria area, local media has reported.
Reports said Al-Geeza authorities found Jamal’s body buried under a villa farm on Monday after she had been reported missing by her husband over a week ago.
It was said that the husband alleged in his missing person’s report that she had last been seen in a commercial complex in the 6th of October area.
In a three-minute video posted on Al-Hadath Twitter page, renowned broadcaster Amro Adib said that Jamal entered a coiffeur shop and never left.
After being missing for nearly a week, Egyptian authorities found her shot dead and buried in a villa farm in Al-Geeza province.
Local media said prosecutors’ investigations alleged that her husband was involved in her murder following marital disputes.
It was also reported that a witness testified before prosecutors that he had close ties with the husband and “was aware that the husband was allegedly involved in the murder over marital disputes since he witnessed the circumstances and knows where she was buried.”
Prosecutors summoned some of Jamal’s family members, who testified that she “vanished while she was with her husband.”
Due to his work as a judge, which grants him immunity, prosecutors obtained special permission to question the husband and issued an arrest warrant.
Egyptian authorities did not release any details on how the murder happened despite unsubstantiated rumors circulating on social media that her body was subject to alleged abuse and disfigurement after she was shot. It has only been confirmed that the investigation is ongoing.
Prosecutors said they gathered evidence that corroborated the witness account pertaining to the body’s whereabouts.
Crime scene investigators and prosecutors accompanied the witness and a forensic examiner to the villa where Jamal’s body was found buried. The witness admitted that he collaborated in the crime before he was detained.
Born in 1980, Jamal presented several TV shows, the most famous of which was “Al-Mushaghiba” on LTC satellite channel. She was suspended in 2017 for allegedly using heroin during a live episode about drug addiction before later clarifying that it was “soft sugar powder that she took for acting purposes and not heroin.” She was then nicknamed the “Heroin Anchor.”
She also worked for Egypt’s Al-Hadath Al-Youm.