Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Exit Festival Serbia Canceled After All | Pollstar News

Bird's view of Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, SerbiaExit Photo Team 2018Bird's view of Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, SerbiaThe festival won't take place this year

It was supposed to represent a beacon of hope for an entire industry: Exit Festival 2020, which had the green light from Serbia's government to go ahead this summer, albeit at reduced capacity.

However, an increase in new daily Covid-19 cases in several municipalities in Serbia, has changed everything.

Festival organizers told Pollstar at the time that the country's health experts were very optimistic that the number of zero new cases would have been reached by now.

"The Exit team has followed the current situation of the epidemic closely, always keeping in mind the safety and health of all visitors, artists and team members.

"That is why it was decided first to drastically reduce the festival capacity in order to make sure that everything would be as safe as possible. 

"However, since the health situation has not improved yet after the second spike in cases, organizers have made the decision that the 20-year celebration of Exit Festival will not take place from August 13-16 this year at Petrovaradin Fortress."

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Creativity Under Constraint: Making Music Videos During a Pandemic | Spotify for Artists

Here’s why it’s important to adapt your artistic vision and learn new film skills in isolation.

With live performances on hold due to COVID-19, artists have been forced to rethink how they reach listeners. Many are opting for livestreams and new music videos, but filming anything while adhering to social distancing guidelines can be a tough task.

Still, many creative minds are finding ways to make these efforts work with whatever tools they have on hand. Some recent standout examples include Thao & The Get Down Stay Down's “Phenomvideo, which features choreographed dancing recorded via Zoom, and Ellie Goulding's collection of intimate home shots for her single “Power.”

“I always think there's a way to adapt,” says director Hannah Welever, founder of the boutique production company Good Trouble Films. “Whether you don't have any money, you don't have any resources, [or] people, there's always a way to make something.”

A veteran of scrappy productions, Welever knows how to remotely helm musical short films from recent experience. After much of the country went into lockdown, she teamed with Ohmme—the Chicago-based eclectic rock trio co-fronted by Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart—to create the video for “The Limit,” a track off their recent album Fantasize Your Ghost. Through FaceTime, Welever directed Cunningham and Stewart separately, backdropped by green screens, while editor Priscilla Perez added found footage and animation from Connor Reed to create a quirky, psychedelic visual medley.

“Because of my nature as an indie filmmaker, I'm used to the small-and-mighty-crew aspect of making something,” Welever says. “That is exactly what has been driving me through the lockdown.”

Here, she, Cunningham, and Stewart share their tips on how artists can harness their creativity, and whatever they have available, to create their own videos, both during the pandemic and whenever life gets back to normal.

Rethink your ideas

If you had had a specific visual concept in mind pre-lockdown that can't be translated to a safe-distance setup, Welever says to either let the idea go or look for alternate routes to realize it. It’s a holistic way of thinking about your creative goals and practicality.

Hannah Welever, Photo by Christopher Hainey
Hannah Welever, Photo by Christopher Hainey

“Keeping your vision within your means will really help you achieve something without making your crew, the label, or the artist uncomfortable,” she says. “It's really all about preparation and being transparent with your team.”

Learn new skills

Luckily, technology makes creating videos possible for those doing it 100 percent remotely. However, that puts more responsibility on the artist to set up any and all filming equipment, a tricky prospect for those unfamiliar with the process.

“A lot of what I'm seeing right now, the challenging part is you're going to find yourself teaching people how to do your job, in a way,” Welever says.

For Ohmme's in-home performances, she walked Cunningham and Stewart through each step “from a technical standpoint.” It’s not always easy to teach lighting and angles, but Welever believes they’re valuable skills all artists should have in their arsenal. “It's a really beneficial tool as musicians to know how to set up a camera and be able to be self-sufficient,” she says.

Sima Cunningham, Photo by Hannah Welever
Sima Cunningham, Photo by Hannah Welever

Cunningham agrees, noting there’s a similarity between this type of video teamwork and the way artists record songs together via the internet. “Quarantine collaboration is definitely forcing some creative workarounds, but I think the ways will carry over in the future. So many of us are collaborating with people far away these days anyway,” she says.

Work the empty room

As artists navigate performing from home, whether for a livestream or a proper music video, it's clear how much energy is missing from having an audience, bandmates, or crew nearby. Now, it's up to the musician to drum up the momentum and do what they can to bring the enthusiasm in isolation.

“It becomes really meta and you can get in your head about it in a way that's not the most conducive to creativity,” Stewart says. “But if you're able to get out of that headspace and use it to your advantage, figure out how to use an empty room with no one staring at you to create something that is uninhibited, then there are some boons to that.”

Macie Stewart, Photo by Hannah Welever
Macie Stewart, Photo by Hannah Welever

Hyping yourself to perform for only a camera or laptop might feel silly and lead to some bloopers, but think twice before throwing out any goofy outtakes—there might be some gold in them. As Welever puts it, “Just because something feels more playful or casual doesn't mean you can't get good content.”

Accept the growing pains

The creative process can already be a bumpy road, and while adaptation is key for all artists, it’s best to give yourself space to learn new technologies and tricks of the video trade. As many livestreams have proven, few musicians get this format dialed in immediately.

“My advice is patience,” Welever says “This 'time' we all have, although it may differ for some, is a great resource right now. We have to dig into those accessible creative juices that give us unique ideas and really think beyond. Keeping that hustle but being patient with the process will hopefully keep you from burning out. It's an exhausting time, from politics on the street or inside the home. If you need to create, make something, but make sure you take time to reel back in.”

—Robin Bacior

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AM BRIEF: New Billboard Chart Rules • Sony Adds Social Impact EVP • Talib Kweli Patreon Album Launch • More | Hypebot

TUESDAY 7.14.2020 • Music Business News From Across The Web Updated Continuously Under The More News Tab Above

The post AM BRIEF: New Billboard Chart Rules • Sony Adds Social Impact EVP • Talib Kweli Patreon Album Launch • More appeared first on Hypebot.

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Stop Selling Pirate IPTV Packages or Pay €10,000 Per Day, Court Rules | TorrentFreak

IPTVBREIN is the leading Dutch anti-piracy outfit, tackling piracy of movies, TV shows, and a range of other infringing content.

In recent years and in common with its overseas counterparts, BREIN has been working to slow down the spread of pirate IPTV. In 2019, it reportedly curtailed the activities of around two dozen sellers but even after intense legal pressure, which in some cases involved cash settlements, at least one decided to continue their work.

The individual targeted by BREIN initially sold piracy-configured set-top boxes but later moved on to selling pirate IPTV subscriptions offering access to live TV, movies and TV shows. Following legal action by BREIN in 2019, a court ordered the defendant to cease-and-desist. Among other things, he paid BREIN a 40,000 euro (US$45,346) settlement.

Allegations of Repeat Infringement Contrary to Settlement

Subsequent inquiries carried out by BREIN last year suggested that the individual was already circumventing the requirement not to sell IPTV, by offering packages through two websites in the name of a third-party. After the third-party’s identity was discovered, the websites were taken down. However, two more websites appeared, this time in the name of an individual in Marbella, Spain. BREIN believed that the original defendant was behind the websites.

Returning to court, BREIN again demanded that the individual stop providing links or other means enabling people to access infringing content.

The individual fought back on a handful of points, including that BREIN had only presented a generic case of alleged offending, but none were entertained by the court in Utrecht. He also did not deny that the second pair of websites sold access to pirate IPTV packages. The big question, however, was whether he was the person operating them from behind the scenes.

Evidence Showing Continued Sale of IPTV Packages

BREIN provided evidence suggesting that he was, revealing that payments were carried out via a PayPal account using an email address admittedly registered by the defendant. Also, a YouTube account ostensibly operated by the defendant’s girlfriend carried an identical video to one published on one of the IPTV sales websites. The videos both contained a reference to a ProtonMail email address used to sell packages.

BREIN was further able to cross-reference details on Facebook pages which linked the defendant to the websites and a domain pointing to the same IP address as one of the websites. Also, the mobile number allegedly in use by the ‘person’ in Spain had a Dutch country code, leading the court to conclude that this individual probably didn’t exist.

The defendant denied owning the websites and denied being involved in the Facebook pages. That being said, he did admit to opening a PayPal account using his girlfriend’s email address for use by the individual allegedly in Spain. He denied being involved in the payments to the account, however.

Defendant is Offending Again, Court Rules

Despite these claims, the court came to the conclusion that it was “sufficiently plausible” that the defendant was behind the two websites and had been directly involved in the sale of pirate IPTV subscriptions which breached the rights of companies represented by BREIN.

As a result, the court handed down a judgment requiring the defendant to immediately stop offering “hyperlinks providing access to the illegal offer of protected works” or face a penalty of 10,000 euros per day up to a maximum of 500,000 euros.

While BREIN’s claims in respect of the initial two websites were rejected due to a lack of urgency (both had closed down a while back), those pertaining to the more recent pair were upheld by the court. The defendant must now hand over information detailing all parties involved in the supply of the IPTV packages plus their purchase price and generated profit.

Failure to provide the information within 14 days will incur penalties of 1,000 euros per day, to a maximum of 100,000 euros. The defendant must also pay BREIN’s legal costs of just under 7,400 euros.

The court’s decision can be downloaded here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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Zoë Keating and David Lowery talk streaming, fans and music artists | Music Ally

Besides being musicians, Zoë Keating and David Lowery have been two of the most prominent voices for artists’ rights in the streaming era.

Solo artist Keating has regularly published her streaming income data to further transparency around payouts for artists. She was an early adopter of Bandcamp, went public with her concerns about YouTube’s artist contracts in early 2015, and was one of the first artists to talk about the potential of blockchain technology for music.

Lowery combines his music career (Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven) with teaching at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, running artist-rights blog The Trichordist – which publishes its own annual table of average per-stream rates – and also filed a class action lawsuit against Spotify on behalf of independent songwriters in late 2015. The lawsuit was settled in 2017.

Earlier this month, Music Ally brought Keating and Lowery together (via Zoom) for a conversation about streaming and artists. Specifically, in the light of recent public discussions about how the model pays off for musicians – #BrokenRecord in the UK for example – how they think streaming could and should improve.

You can watch the full interview – conducted by journalist and music business tutor Joe Sparrow – here, but this article runs through some of the main talking points from the conversation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has sharpened some of those discussions around artists’ incomes. “Generally whenever I discuss this topic, there’s a large percentage of people who say ‘Shut up you whiny artist!’. Or it used to be ‘Get out there and tour, sell merch!’” said Keating.

“This [Covid-19] is a terrible thing that’s happening, but one tiny silver lining is that everybody can really see that you’ve just taken away a large percentage of our artist income… Now people can see ‘Oh yeah, maybe this doesn’t work. We need to come up with something’.”

Lowery suggested that many artists had been “distracted” from the payouts debate by touring over the last decade, with revenue from concerts – the same revenue that abruptly crashed this year – offsetting the decline in their income from recordings.

“We used to tour to sort of generate sales of music, and your touring was kinda break-even. You made a little bit of money and the ticket prices were definitely a lot lower,” he said.

“In the digital age, we slowly shifted where we started charging more for tickets, we started playing more shows. And this kind of distracted us, cos in a way it seemed like we were making the same amount of money. Perhaps more money.”

Note ‘seemed’ in that sentence: as Lowery pointed out, the actual profit from touring once the costs were factored in and everyone (crew included) had been paid was not quite as rosy.

“Ultimately as an artist you didn’t really make that much touring, so I’m kind of excited in a way – sort of a perverse way! – that we’re now looking at what the actual recorded music generates, and perhaps we can get back to a healthier, more sustainable system,” he said.

What is a healthier system? For Keating, it’s going to be about strengthening the bond between artists and their audiences.

“Having less middlemen, less people mediating that experience. That’s something that artists are really good at: connecting with people. And sometimes I feel like everything about the digital music industry is designed to sever that relationship, so that other people can take some of the money!” she said.

“It’s only when pressured that services like Spotify have added ways for their users to connect with the artists. They want to keep everybody inside their sandbox, and they don’t want people [in her case] to leave the ecosystem to go to me.”

One thing that the Covid-19 lockdown has done is lead more artists to experiment with livestreaming video, with Keating hailing the sense of a “Wild West” of different platforms and startups, and artists trying to figure out what works best for them.

“I always enjoy it when there’s a lot of different experiments happening and there’s no consolidation yet. I’ve felt a sense of dismay over the last few years as all the services have kind of consolidated into just a few, and that’s when number one, power starts being taken away from those at the bottom, and also it’s sort of boring!”

“The ability to sort of disintermediate again, where we can directly engage our fans and have economic transactions with them and stuff like that, we’re going to have to figure out a way to do it whereby there’s a platform, but a larger share of the revenue comes to us,” agreed Lowery.

Both artists are using Bandcamp to put their music out, and approve of the control it gives musicians over that process.

“Yes, it’s a platform, they do take a fee, there’s a lot of artists on there, but you set your own prices and the way that your music is released,” said Lowery, who uses Bandcamp as part of a wider ‘windowing’ strategy: he sells his albums on Bandcamp first, then when they reach a certain age, he puts them on streaming services.

“I’ve windowed, like the movie business! All I’m really doing is what the movie business did,” he said. “I do respect that a lot of labels feel that that’s not right, but I’m telling you it works for me. What I’m getting at is I think there’s not a one-size fits-all solution here, and what we really need is for a hundred flowers to bloom. We need a hundred experiments going on. We need people trying different things to figure out a new way to monetise the music.”

Keating also praised Bandcamp, where the audience she has built over the years helped her to plug the income gap when she had a tour cancelled in the early stages of the Covid-19 lockdown. She’d made some live recordings in London last November, and for one a friend had filmed a video of the concert, so Keating put it on Bandcamp for $1 and emailed her mailing list.

“One huge problem we have right now is how do you reach people when Facebook makes it so you can no longer reach the followers in the audience [without paying]. You built that, right? You built those fans and now you have to pay to reach them. All these companies put barriers between me and my audience. And the most powerful thing is my mailing list and Bandcamp,” she said.

“Anybody who has purchased anything or subscribed, they get a message. So suddenly, 15,000 people got a message that I had a new recording for sale, and I just made $5,000! That’s immediate, and that’s real. So I think more things like Bandcamp. There’s still a big gap in livestreaming. I would like to be able to easily do livestreams this way and release them.”

Zoë Keating

Zoë Keating – photo by Sattva Photo

Lowery pointed out that he and Keating are both established artists who’ve built up good mailing lists over their careers, which is what makes this model work. When he talks to younger artists, he doesn’t tell them to keep their music off Spotify (“even though I’m the guy who sued Spotify!”) as he understands why that isn’t really an option for emerging acts.

It illustrates his previous point: “There’s not a one-size fits-all plan out there. And in some ways we fooled ourselves into thinking that streaming is that one-size fits-all. One price, flat price per month, when in actuality different people will pay different things and go jump through different hoops depending on how engaged of a fan they are, and we need to engage some of that more, cos we’re leaving money on the table.”

Keating agreed, saying this is one issue she has with Spotify. “Their model is one-size fits-all for a particular kind of popularity contest, and we’re way more diverse than that, and our fans are way more diverse,” she said.

“I want to capture out of the 10 people listening, one of them is going to really care and want everything, and the other nine might be casual listeners, and you need to be able to reach both of them, and you might reach them in different ways.”

The conversation ranged over YouTube (“Probably at least 40% of all music consumption,” said Lowery. “The big gap here – the value gap is I think what the industry is calling it now – is that YouTube pay so little, depending on which part of their platform it’s as little as one twentieth of what we would normally see…”) and label deals as the pair discussed how musicians’ streaming lot could be improved.

Lowery considered some of the trends around dealmaking for major labels, suggesting that there may be some dangers looming even for those large companies.

“Possibly, because if you’re coming in later once an artist is popular, which seems to be the case – somebody goes viral on YouTube and then you come in later – what does that artist really need? What is the value add?” he said.

“I do think labels signing artists after they’ve gone viral means they’re probably paying a lot more for those artists, and the question of the value add is… it’s questionable, right?”

Some of those questions may also be spurred by artists’ growing knowledge of the tools available to them to reach fans directly, mailing lists and platforms like Bandcamp included. Key to making this work is talking frankly to fans about what supporting an artist financially means for their ability to sustain a career.

When Keating first started releasing music, she realised that her job was “to let people know that I was a real live person with no one representing me… to educate my audience that if they liked my music they could support me, and it goes right to me and it’s not going to anyone in a suit. Unless I wear a suit!”

She admitted that even now, fans who’ve happened upon her music on a digital service can still be shocked by the realities of how she makes money. “There are a lot of people who are very shocked that actually I don’t earn anything from YouTube!” she said.

(Keating recently had a public exchange with YouTube on Twitter, questioning why – with more than 10,000 subscribers to her channel, more than 23k watch hours and 25m views of videos with her music in them, she doesn’t meet its threshold for monetisation. The company’s support team replied saying she didn’t have enough ‘public’ watch hours to qualify.)

Keating and Lowery have also been following the industry discussion about ‘user-centric’ payouts from streaming services, and whether they’d be a fairer way of distributing streaming royalties. Lowery pointed out that many listeners think this is how streaming works already.

“So I think it’s a good idea in that it meets the consumers’ expectations for what they are doing,” he said, before suggesting that it will also be a timely shift for the musicians who need it most.

“Niche artists and middle-class artists, the mid tier of artists, are the ones that are really struggling right now, and they tend to be the ones with the paid fans, and the super fans.” he said – referring to these fans as being most likely to pay for a streaming subscription.

“What you have here is not necessarily that the top artists are suffering. All artists aren’t suffering in the new streaming environment. What you have is the middle tier and the niche artists are suffering. And it’s not really income redistribution, but the money would go to the artists who need it the most, the ones who are creating more of the paid demand. So I’m generally for it.”

Keating would like to see more transparency around streaming payouts, and the wider models, more generally.

“The services, sometimes it’s in their best interests to not have their users know how things work. So one thing I would love to see is discussions, public ones, about how things work now, how they could work, and what systems could we make that would be transparent,” she said.

“The music industry is guilty of keeping things hidden as well… In the music industry a lot of people have a vested interest in appearing larger than you really are, because that’s how deals work… I think the way forward is transparency, as uncomfortable as that might be.”

Will transparency nudge more fans towards directly supporting artists, or at least upgrading from free accounts to paid streaming subscriptions? Lowery isn’t sure.

“A lot of music fans are actually kind of Jacobins! They’re sorta like ‘these rich artists! They’re just making all this money! Yeah, take their money from them, steal their music! So I’m a little more pessimistic that consumers will rally around artists in this way,” he said.

“However, look at all the things like fair trade coffee or ‘we’re a clothing maker and we don’t use sweatshop labour’… It can be done, and I think we certainly should try it” – ‘it’ being enlist music fans in campaigns to boost artist royalties, and support the services who are making the most effort in that direction.

David Lowery

David Lowery – photo by Jason Thrasher

The conversation finished with a discussion of whether governments and regulators could (or should) get involved in the issues around musicians’ income.

“We might actually have a window here right now, because I know the US government is trying to figure out a next round of the stimulus, and there’s a fair number of musicians that I know who have not only got unemployment, but… it’s possible that maybe we could have some sort of stimulus to artists: ‘Hey, we’ll match your streaming revenues’ or ‘we’ll double your streaming revenus’ or something like that for six months. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities,” said Lowery.

Keating suggested that now is the time to continue shouting about the value to wider society of music, the people who make it, and the teams around them.

“Everybody is aware that artists – musical artists, performers – were the first to lose our jobs, and we will be the last to go back,” she said. “I think a lot of people are unaware of the size of our industry. When we go on tour, we put a lot of people to work! People travel to see my shows, people stay in hotels. Restaurants. It’s actually a huge economy, and it’s not respected, and not taken seriously. We quickly give the airlines a bailout, but people would laugh at the idea of giving the entertainment industry a bailout. But wait a minute!”

Keating sees some green shoots here: for example recently-formed lobbying organisations in the US for booking agencies (the National Independent Talent Organization) and independent venues (the National Independent Venue Organization).

“Everybody’s recognising that you need to have a voice, and we need to get a story out,” she said. “That’s the positive thing right now. There is more awareness and more of an opportunity to get a story across that we need some changes.”

Stuart Dredge

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Pakistan pitches ‘most relaxed tax structure’ in the world to tech investors | The Register

Pakistan has become the latest Asian nation to declare it will roll out the welcome mat for foreign investors who want to do something to do with technology on its soil.

Federal minister for science and technology Fawad Chaudhry tweeted over the weekend: “I call upon multinationals of USA, China, Russia, Korea, Japan and EU to join hands with us rest assure Pakistan ll [sic] ensure most competitive environment and most relaxed tax structure for tech business our doors are open.”

The doors are especially open in the cities of Faisalabad, Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, each of which will soon be adorned by 200-acre “Science and Technology Special Economic Zones”

“In these zones, technology industry and business will get special incentives,” Chaudhry wrote. “Creating a superpower is the real goal.”

The minister’s announcements were accompanied by statements that his department is enacting the “Make In Pakistan” policy that explicitly seeks to reduce the nation’s reliance on imports of manufactured goods to stimulate local manufacturing. Mobile phones are on the list of items the nation wants to make locally.

India says its brains saved the world from the last colosso-crisis – cough, Y2K – proving it can become self-reliant


Details of the policy are scanty, but Pakistan has in recent weeks trumpeted its success at manufacturing its own medical ventilators and has an ambition to rapidly industrialise its economy.

That ambition is far from unique as India has similar programs in place, South Korea has ambitions to offer an alternative to Japan and China thinks it can achieve silicon-self-sufficiency in coming years.

Pakistan lacks the highly-educated workforce those nations can boast, and can’t match the logistics infrastructure of China or South Korea. But the nation points to the fact that Huawei’s tech support team for the middle east is based in Pakistan as evidence of its capabilities.

Another factor in Pakistan's favor is the increasing number of reports suggesting major tech manufacturers feel they have too many eggs in the China basket and are looking to diversify their operations and spread risk. Minister Chaudhry is perhaps aware of that sentiment, as his tweets point out that two thirds of humanity are within four air hours of Pakistan. ®

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Google creates $10bn 'digitisation fund' for India | The Register

Google has unveiled a plan to invest $10bn in India over the next five to seven years.

The plan, which Google is calling its "India Digitisation Fund", will comprise "a mix of equity investments, partnerships, operations, infrastructure, and ecosystem investments" a Google post outlines.

The post also makes it plain the effort is not altruistic, as Google's first goal is "enabling affordable access to the internet and to information for every Indian, in their own language". Or in other words, making sure Indians can access Google services.

Next comes a promise to create "new products and services that are deeply relevant to India’s unique needs including consumer tech, education, health and agriculture." Which sounds like a cunning plan to build products customers want and need.

We're in cookie-cutter social justice stuff for goals three and four, which promise "empowering businesses of all sizes, especially SMBs, as they continue or embark on their digital transformation" and "leveraging technology and AI for social good, including digital literacy, outbreak predictions, and support for rural economies."

While the first two goals are clearly as beneficial to Google as they are to India, and the second two are anodyne, they are clearly welcomed at the highest levels because they were announced after Google CEO Sundar Pinhai spoke to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.

Modi and Pichai even chatted about wider issues like data security and privacy, as well as the need to develop new remote working practices in a post-covid-19 world.

Left unsaid was that Google has strong competition in India, not least from Facebook which recently invested $5.7bn in fast-growing Indian mobile telco Jio Platforms and reportedly wants to use its stake to push WhatsApp as a payments tool to millions of subscribers.

India is justifiably famed for its IT services industry and has recently made attracting hardware manufacturing investments a priority to satisfy local demand, boost local industry and create exporting industries. That plan seems to have borne fruit as Foxconn and Samsung have invested billions into making more phones in the country, but mostly this involves assembling parts made elsewhere. Foxconn said yesterday it would invest a further $1bn into its Sriperumbur plant near Chennai, including adding 6,000 jobs, according to Reuters.

In recent weeks India has also tried to foster more local software businesses, creating one competition to find a home-grown Zoom clone and another for a range of apps including some of the agricultural services Google has promised to create.

That possible overlap seems to have escaped officials at the launch of Google's plan.

“Google is rising to the occasion by trying to invest a fairly substantial amount in India’s digital transformation,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s electronics and information technology minister. “I’m very happy that Google is recognising India’s digital innovation and the need to create further opportunity.” ®

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