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Sora Breaks The Last Barrier In Creative AI, Substack Creates Networks, And Spotify Pursues Apple: Self-Publishing News Podcast With Dan Holloway

Sora Breaks the Last Barrier in Creative AI, Substack Creates Networks, and Spotify Pursues Apple: Self-Publishing News Podcast with Dan Holloway

In this episode of the Self-Publishing News Podcast, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway explores Sora's advancement in creative AI, Substack's innovative creation of networks to connect content creators, and Spotify's strategic pursuit of Apple.

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About the Host

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet, and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, He competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available on Kindle.

Read the Transcripts: Sora Breaks the Last Barrier in Creative AI

Dan Holloway: Hello and welcome to another edition of the Self-Publishing News from here in Oxford, where you will be pleased to know that Spotify is only minimally in the news this week.

Spotify and Apple Engaged in Lawsuit

So, let's get that out of the way. Rather interestingly, for the past couple of weeks, we have been used to thinking of Spotify as the tech behemoth who's been throwing its weight around, bullying terms, doing all sorts of things it shouldn't be doing, making rights grabs for material, and basically behaving in a way that you get to behave in if you are a tech giant who can move fast and break things and do all those things that massive tech companies do.

This week, however, Spotify has been in the news as the small company, rather surprisingly, and that is in the context of a lawsuit going through the European courts currently in which they are accusing, probably one of the few companies who genuinely are able to make them appear tiny, of anti-competitive behaviour, and that is Apple.

This comes as a result of Apple's, and this sounds really odd, but it's basically they're complaining about the fact that Apple have changed the way that their terms and conditions operate, of all the ironies, and specifically they have changed the way in which they deal with third party developers who use their App Store.

So, being able to have your app in the App Store remains free. Nonetheless, if you or your developers do anything else through Apple or the Apple system then they will charge you a fee for doing so.

This seems to be something that's happening in the context of the European Union's Digital Markets Act, and Spotify are basically arguing that Apple are throwing their weight around, changing terms and conditions, and exploiting their dominant position in the market, in this case, in the market for selling apps through the App Store, to force money out of developers that the developers can't afford to pay. Therefore, meaning that they can't develop as they would like to. Again, the irony.

It looks as though, interestingly enough, Spotify might win their case, and that's certainly what I think was the takeaway that Porter Anderson in Publishing Perspective seemed to have, which is very interesting.

Ooh, no, actually, not Porter. Looking through this, it's actually a TechCrunch author. So, the TechCrunch authors seem to think that Spotify might well win their case and that Apple might be forced to pay a fine for anti-competitive behaviour.

As the author of that piece points out, they can afford to do so, they are a $3 trillion company.

So, even Spotify looked tiny as a result of comparison, but Apple have decided they're not going to just pay up. They are going on the offensive and they're going on the offensive by issuing lots of interesting facts and figures about Spotify's business with them.

So, some of those interesting figures are that Spotify's app in the App Store has been downloaded, re-downloaded, or updated, and get this, 119 billion times across Apple devices. As I pointed out in my article, that is 15 times for every human being alive.

If we stop and think about that, then think of Spotify complaining, it's not fair, poor us, we are only a small player; that's an interesting take, let's just put it like that.

Another thing Apple have pointed out is that they might dominate the App Store and the sale of apps and the distribution of apps, but Spotify accounts for 56% of the global music streaming industry. Apple itself only accounts for 11%.

So, basically some eye watering figures going around, but Spotify this week portraying itself as the small company. Interesting.

Audiobooks Greatest Growth is with 25-34-Year Olds

Talking of smaller audiobook companies, it has been a good time for the Bonnier owned Swedish company, BookBeat. Their revenue last year, a still large but several orders of magnitude smaller, $118 million from streaming, and that's up 28% year on year, which is outgrowing even the general audiobook market.

One of the really interesting things that was in Porter's piece on their progress, really interesting statistic, is that the greatest growth is among 25- to 34-year-olds. So, clearly that is the segment, people if you are writing for that age group, then make sure you get your audiobooks out there. That is a market that is growing and is growing fast.

OpenAI Turns Text into Video

So, moving from audio, we have to talk about AI because last week saw what we might have thought of as the last frontier of the creative process, I'm not going to say breached, achieved very spectacularly in a public demonstration of OpenAI's latest toy, which is the platform Sora.

Interestingly Sora, it's the same name as the textbook distribution platform that operates through Overdrive and is how you get your textbooks into the hands of students through the library system, but this is a very different sort of platform. It's a text-to-video AI platform and it is really good.

Just a few lines of text and you can produce, at the moment it's 60 second clips, that is inevitably going to grow, and the video capability of it is absolutely exceptional.

The ones I've seen, I want to say it's Pixar-level quality, I don't know if that's true, but it looks at that level, and really interestingly, you've got those great video graphics and they are combined with what seem to be coherent storylines, even albeit storylines within a 60 second clip.

So obviously, initially, this is going to be interesting for marketing purposes, for adverts, little one minute clips to grab attention, but obviously as the capacity grows, in particular the server capacity, which must be absolutely eye wateringly huge, expands then the capacity to create longer form content through simple text prompts, possibly even prompts from a short story or a book to turn it into something on screen, that is going to grow.

So, the whole filmmaking process might well be something that is now possible within the scope of an app. It's one of those that is full of interest, promise, and fear all at the same time as so much of the developing AI story is.

Obviously, the main concern of regulators and governments and others is the potential for deepfakes, and obviously with a string of serious elections coming up that will be foremost in people's mind.

Reddit Goes Public After 18 Years

So, going from the ultra-high tech to what feels like the low-tech early world of the internet and a site that is either much beloved or much hated, but either way is definitely much used by writers everywhere, and that's Reddit.

Reddit is one of those companies that sort of keeps on going. It was founded in 2005, before Facebook, before social media, after 4chan, but very much in the same sort of vein as that free for all community, and the controversy that has resulted therefrom.

Interestingly, after 18 years of ticking over, Reddit is now finally going public, so you will be able to buy shares in Reddit, who knew?

One of the things that's interesting in their IPO document, they have cited probably the most famous subreddit these days, in the days where we hear less about the controversial subreddits that used to dominate the headlines around them. The most famous of their subreddits these days, of course, are WallStreetBets.

WallStreetBets, of course, is where the community who spent a lot of time pushing up the price of GameStop and started strategizing, and came up with the idea to try and bring down the hedge funds, who were all shorting the video game retailer GameStop.

They said, actually this looks like a pretty good company who's got a lot of real estate. We just like them because we have fond memories and so on of going in there as kids buying video games, so why don't we stick it to the hedge funds? They're all going short on it, so let's buy it and push the prices up; and of course, what happened next is internet history.

It pushed the day trading app Robinhood into high prominence. It nearly did cause absolute chaos in the hedge fund industry and certainly raised awareness of what it was possible for everyday retail investors in the stock market to do. So, if you are interested in being part of that, owning part of it, you will be able to, and obviously it's going to be interesting to see.

It's always interesting to see what happens when companies that we think of as the sort of free for all spaces where you can create and share content as you like, move more into public ownership and become more beholden to shareholders.

Substack Announces New Features

Finally, talking of writer-based social platforms, and also highly controversial platforms, there are some new features on Substack.

So Substack, of course, is where journalists and others have turned to try and make an income, as it becomes increasingly hard to do so through actually writing for publications. It's the newsletter format where you can create a newsletter, get people to subscribe, they will pay you a monthly subscription to receive your newsletter. It's a way of making some extra income.

It's had its issues, shall we say, in the recent past. If you're interested in finding out more about its issues of who it does and doesn't platform, I highly recommend, as I do on many things, going and looking at Guy Gonzalez's posts on the subject.

But anyway, they have introduced a new feature, which is what they're calling Substack Networks. This is where it allows People with a newsletter to recommend other newsletters.

The way that this works is that when someone subscribes to your newsletter, you will get one of those screens that says, you might also be interested in, with a list of newsletters that have been chosen by the person you just subscribed to.

It's similar to what happens on YouTube where you get big channels, and they will invite on people to do a guest slot as a way of plugging smaller channels that they're really excited by. If you were being cynical, you might say it's an opportunity for people to sell a slot or to charge smaller newsletter providers for the chance to bask in the halo effect of a bigger platform.

It will be interesting to see. I'm sure that everyone will be very well behaved because of course in such circumstances everyone always is. Anyway, I will be very interested to see any future Substacks that I were to subscribe to. I will be interested to see what I get recommended along the way when I do.

So, that's taken us from audio to video and back to old fashioned within an internet context long-form writing, and we will see where we go next week. I look forward to seeing you then.

Just a reminder that, of course, in a couple of weeks’ time it is London Book Fair. I am going to be at London Book Fair talking to the fabulous Sacha Black in an all-ALLi fireside conversation. We'll be talking about how we write, what we do, how we market, how we communicate and engage with our audiences. If you're around at London Book Fair, do come and see us, and whatever you do, make sure you come and say hello to anyone from ALLi.

With that said, I will speak to you all again next week. Goodbye from Oxford.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is a novelist, nonfiction author, developmental book editor, and journalist. He is also the news and podcast producer for the Alliance of Independent Authors. You can learn more about him at https://howardlovy.com/

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