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The other music streamer

Netflix DVDs are still in season and financial aid for teachers -- do you need a reason? But first...

Netflix DVDs are still in season and financial aid for teachers — do you need a reason? But first…
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Africa’s Boomplay is becoming one of the world’s largest music streaming services

Boomplay’s droppin’ the bass to the tune of a $20m funding round led by ‘who cares?’ Capital (OK, fine — it was Maison Capital with participation from Seas Capital… see, nobody cared).

The Africa-based music streaming service has grown at a face-melting pace since it first launched in Nigeria back in 2015. Now, with the new Series A tickle it’s looking to hit the road on a little expansion tour to keep its global rivals from encroaching on its turf.

If it seems like the makings of a medieval battle strategy, that’s because it kind of is — and for good measure (music reference).

Own the phones, own the tunes

Boomplay is owned by Transsion Holdings, the China-based top phone maker in Africa, and NetEase, a Chinese internet company that has already built a music streaming service in China with 400m users.

Since 2015, Boomplay has come pre-loaded onto Transsion smartphones — the best selling in Africa — giving it a kick in the pants from the get-go. Now, it boasts around 35m users, 17m of which are active monthly users in Africa.

In other words, it’s one of the biggest streaming services in the world

Until now much of Boomplay’s growth has happened without competition from global giants, but that’s soon to change: This year Spotify and Tidal launched in their first African markets, and Apple Music, while not a huge hit, is already there.

Still, Boomplay has the advantage: it recently agreed to licensing deals with Universal Music and Warner Music catalogs to allow users access to the world’s top artists — something much harder to attain in the African markets for a company like Spotify.

Held up by the indie music scene

According to Phil Choi, Boomplay’s head of international content acquisition, most African artists work on their own or with micro-labels.

With no big structure, companies like Spotify will have to spend a lot of time and money discussing agreements with individual artists.

In other words, if Spotify or Apple Music want to build out an African music catalogue sometime in the next century, there’s going to have to be an acquisition — hint, hint.

You gotta want it
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2.7m people still get Netflix by mail thanks to bad broadband and a great movie selection

According to Netflix, 2.7m people still use the company’s physical DVD delivery service — meaning that 4.7% of America’s 57.4m Netflix watchers are still down with the disc.

Although DVD delivery is no longer a big part of Netflix’s revenue, the service is still a big deal for millions of people on the far side of the digital divide — and for movie buffs.

Why do so many people still want physical DVDs?

The first major reason is that many people don’t have any choice: 24m Americans live in places that don’t have broadband access. These people — who predominantly live in rural areas — don’t have enough bandwidth to stream Game of Thrones, but they do have good ol’ snail mail.

The other reason is that Netflix’s physical movie selection is waaay better than its digital selection — Netflix’s streaming service has around 6k movies and TV shows, but its DVD collection boasts more than 100k shows and movies. 

Thinking outside of the stream

Since streaming services pay licensing fees to keep content in their catalogs, they maintain limited rosters and sometimes remove movies and shows. But DVDs don’t disappear.

Plus, Netflix’s DVD delivery service also gets new movies before its streaming service does, so big-time movie buffs can watch the hottest Oscar contenders there first.

According to Netflix, most of the customers who still order DVDs by mail don’t actually live in rural areas like you might expect — instead, most DVDivas live in San Francisco and New York.

» Do u even disc?

Financial aid, but for teachers

A CA-based startup called Landed that helps teachers buy houses has raised $7.5m, TechCrunch reports

Landed, whose mission is to help educators “build financial security near the communities they serve,” provides down-payment funding, financial coaching, and regional support to teachers and their families.

Sherlock homes to the rescue 

The Landed program, which has no income qualification restrictions, offers up to $120k in assistance to the many educators who struggle with unsustainable living costs and absurd commutes — yet often don’t qualify for subsidized housing. 

In return, Landing takes a 25% cut of the home’s value gain (or loss).

This year, Landed-subsidized down payments have saved over 100 educators in expensive areas of CA, CO, and WA from being left in the (chalk)dust. The company plans to use the recent funding to continue expanding its K-12 and college/university support to new cities.

Teachers have been walkin’ it out

The aid comes on the heels of a slew of teacher walkouts over stagnant salaries and ever-rising housing prices. Growing demands for increased federal funding and a few creative solutions like educator villages are promising signs, but progress has been slow. 

The pressure is particularly on in places like the SF Bay Area, where the tech boom has led to an acute shortage of affordable homes. 

But Landed co-founder Alex Lofton claims the company is ready to tackle the challenge. “[IPOs] will affect us, but it won’t end our mission,” he told TechCrunch.

» Helping teachers do the deed

Amazon wants to copy Costco, but its price cuts aren’t as fresh as they seem

Last week, Amazon and Whole Foods announced a new round of price cuts at Whole Foods stores around the country, saying that prices on 100s of items would drop by 20%.

It’s the 3rd time Whole Foods prices have dropped since Amazon acquired the company in 2017. But these price cuts, which primarily cater to Prime members, aren’t as palatable as they appear.

From Whole Paycheck to marked-down mangoes?

This time, Amazon is focusing on the produce aisle, with deals like $1 mangoes and bunches of organic rainbow chard for $1.99.

These produce deals will impact both Prime and non-Prime customers. But the best bargains are reserved for Prime purchasers, who will receive 2x as many exclusive and 30%+ price cuts on popular products like Justin’s almond butter.

It’s a mixed (grocery) bag

Although Amazon has made a big deal about its price cuts, most shoppers haven’t noticed much of a difference. A New York Times report found that average non-Prime shoppers in New York saved just 5 cents after this most recent round of price cuts.

With Prime discounts, savings average out to 4% per basket, while Whole Foods is still 15% more expensive than average supermarkets overall. 

» Prime me a river

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monday morning review

Churnin’ and burnin’

Burnout happens. But it doesn’t end the moment you shout it from the rooftops — most people just keep burnin’ on through. 

Everyone has their trick to refuel on the job: I run sprints (and I never run). But when burnin’ the midnight oil becomes a part of the nightly norm, I get moving. Sooo… thanks boss?

For reals though, I used to work next to a park in my youth (I’m 87 years old now). Whenever I was too tired to write but had to, I would crawl there with nothing but a tape recorder in my fanny pack. Then I-start-runiiiinnn (Forrest Gump reference). 

The rules are as follows:

Arrive at one end of the football field. Pant words into tape recorder related to the story you’re working on, the problem you’re trying to solve — or whatever you want to accomplish.

Then, run back and — spoiler alert — rinse and re-pant. Usually after a few times back-and-forth the sweat starts running, the thoughts start flowing, and the ideas start coming.

I remember why I stopped doing this: I was the smelly guy at work. That said, I started again recently and guess what, 3 out of 5 times it actually helped.

What’s your trick?

Wes Schlag, Fitness Instructor

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