Ad-free subscription music service shutters in late April
Last.fm is shutting down its subscription-based music streaming service at the end of next month. The company reveals in a forum post that it's closing the $3 ad-free streaming radio function from its apps on April 28th, though it will continue to operate its ongoing "Scrobbler" music tracking, playlist building, and new music recommendation service to users as normal.
Millions of passwords exposed, hacked on Russian forum
Music purveyor Last.fm and online dating matching service eHarmony have both recently announced that they are the victims of an assault by hackers. Both Last.fm and eHarmony have published brief statements about the break-ins, with little data about previous or new security precautions implemented as a result of the leak. The news comes days after the high-profile breach on LinkedIn.
Xbox Live services to go free from April 19-23
In an attempt to get some more users hooked on its premium Xbox Live subscription service, Microsoft will offer it for free for five days, commencing on Thursday, April 19, and running until Monday, April 23. Partners like Hulu Plus, Netflix, and EPIX will also open their doors for free during the same time period. Depending on where users are, however, they will get various amounts of free app access during those five days.
IE9 site features pinning and JumpLists
Microsoft has partnered with Internet music service Last.fm to create a website optimized for Internet Explorer 9. The Discover site leverages the browser's inbuilt functionality to provide pinning and JumpList features. Also, by building upon an HTML5 foundation, the companies claim the web-based service will have the look and feel of a native Windows app.
Spotify gets official app platform
Hits High Street retailers on July 15
HP has provided firm pricing and availability for its launch of its 9.7-inch TouchPad tablet in the UK. The price for the 16GB model is £399 ($640) and rises to £479 ($770) for the 32GB version. Both will be available online or from UK retailers on July 15.
Last.fm 3 for iOS gets major artist link overhaul
Last.fm has quietly updated its iPhone app (free, App Store) to a version 3.0 overhaul. The new edition focuses more on artist exploration and will show concerts, including those that friends say they're attending. The update now shows recommendations for other artists or new albums and lets users search for profile or artist details on their own.
Last.fm switches to pay only for Android, iPhone
Last.fm on Monday said it was switching to a pay-only model for its Internet radio on Android and iPhone devices on February 15. The strategy will drop the free, ad-supported service and will instead require $3 per month in the US to get the stream on a mobile device, albeit ad-free. Media hubs such as the Logitech Squeezebox and Sonos ZonePlayer line, will also need a subscription, either immediately or by mid-summer.
Firecore readying new software suite
Firecore is readying its aTV Flash (black) software suite for the latest generation of jailbroken Apple TVs. The package will include Couch Surfer Pro, a web browser, and Last.fm streaming. The software has previously been available for users of the earlier generation of the Apple TV, but should significantly enhance the functionality for users of the latest A4 and iOS-based Apple TV.
Beta WinAmp for Android allows Wi-Fi syncing
WinAmp, Nullsoft's longstanding media player app, is now available as a beta for Android. The downloadable app lets smartphone owners sync their phones with their desktop WinAmp libraries, either via a USB connection or wirelessly over Wi-Fi, though the latter requires the WinAmp 5.59 beta for the desktop. Users can also access Last.fm right from inside the app and scrobble their listening habits.
On sale for 50 percent off today
MiRow, a new application that enables additional media formats, web surfing (including streaming sites such as Hulu), downloads cover art, adds Last.fm support and more for the Mac is on sale for half off its normal $25 price for the remainder of the day today at MUPromo.com.
App supports playback, scrobbling
FireCore has launched aTV Flash 4.2, updating the Apple TV hack with support for Last.fm's music streaming service. aTV Flash is primarily devoted to enabling formats such AVI, MKV, WMV and VIDEO_TS, normally incompatible with Apple's firmware. It also adds a WebKit-based web browser, and permits expanded storage using an external USB hard drive.
Boxee says Boxee Box now finished
Boxee's Chief Product Officer Zach Klein today showed the finished version of the Boxee Box in a video demo (below), indicating that it's starting production. The completed version still has the distinctive sinking box design but has a more refined look and feel. Among other changes, the Box now has a much more fingerprint-resistant glossy black finish.
MS dates Kinect controller
(Updated with price leak) Microsoft at its E3 conference put a date on the Kinect motion controller. The add-on will ship on November 4 and will be accompanied by 15 games when it launches. Some of these are first-party games such as the virtual pet Kinectimals or the multi-game Kinect Adventures, but others will be third-party titles such as Ubisoft's Your Space exerciser and Harmonix's Dance Central; Konami's Metal Gear-themed Zan-Datsu and a Star Wars game are also in the works.
Logitech Squeezebox Touch shipping, costs $300
Logitech's long-delayed Squeezebox Touch Wi-Fi home music server is now shipping, though the product page still shows the item as out of stock on Logitech's website. The device has a 4.3-inch touchscreen to help users interface, playing music from their iTunes or MP3 collections or control Internet radio services that include Pandora, Deezer, Rhapsody or Last.fm. Local AM/FM radio is also an option.
Warner CEO rejects streaming without pay
Warner Music Group chief Edgar Bronfman has cautioned that his label is likely to avoid free streaming music services. He expects to only offer music through paid services and says that free streaming services are "not net positive." He stopped short of saying Warner would quit existing services like Spotify or of flatly rejecting future free deals.
Spotify update will suggest related artists
Online streaming music service Spotify has released update 0.3.23, which most significantly adds a 'related artists' tab. The function suggests similar bands based on the current selection, not unlike similar features offered by competing services such as Last.fm and Pandora. Spotify says it developed the feature in-house, using millions of user listening hours to shape the recommendations.
New Squeezebox delayed for unknown cause
Logitech at mid-day said it has delayed its launch of the Squeezebox Touch until February. The company didn't provide an explanation for the delay, which comes after it had already pushed back the launch of the media streaming hub to December in its original September unveiling.
Xbox 360 fall update due next week
Microsoft today confirmed that its Xbox 360 fall update should go live for all users next week, on November 17th. The upgrade will give those outside of the preview program the major features promised in late spring, including Facebook and Twitter, Last.fm streaming and 1080p Zune Marketplace videos.
Sonos' 1st speaker-equipped hub reviewed
Venturing into Sonos' world has historically been expensive and partly redundant: listeners have usually needed at least two pieces of equipment, and it isn't at all uncommon to see setups that cost over $1,000. The ZonePlayer S5 aims to fix this with a single-piece $399 speaker and receiver that relies on what you already have -- such as a computer or an iPod touch -- to provide its multi-room audio. Our full S5 review will let you know whether the drop in cost is a better bargain.
Sonos S5 enables wireless control via iPhone
Sonos has begun shipping its all-in-one wireless music system controlled by iPhone or iPod touch, Sonos ZonePlayer S5. The device is designed for those who only need the player and provides two tweeters, two mid-range drivers and a subwoofer. Users can wirelessly stream music from either iTunes or the Internet and control what music is playing using the company’s free iPhone app (App Store).
Heritage digital radio includes iPod dock
Revo has introduced Heritage, its latest multi-format digital radio with an iPod docking station. It earns its name from a classic European table radio design from the 50’s and 60’s, that includes aluminum, soft plastics, and walnut trim. Sound is nonetheless more modern with a custom designed 3-inch neodymium speaker driver, a 7W amplifier, and an OLED display. It supports a series of different broadcast types such as the UK's DAB and DAB+ digital radio broadcasts as well as FM and Internet radio over Wi-Fi.
ASCAP, others want online performance fees
Music royalty groups ASCAP and BMI are pressing online music stores like Apple's iTunes to pay performance fees not only for actual song downloads but also videos and even the 30-second samples used to preview the music in advance. While these stores already pay the distribution fees for the songs themselves, ASCAP, BMI and labels claim that just downloading and playing the content also counts as a live performance and should bring an extra fee.
INQ confirms Android move
INQ late Thursday confirmed through a speech at the Mobilize conference that the company's next wave of phones would use Android. Company chief Frank Meehan provided few details but said INQ would have "pretty cool things" in store for these devices. As current INQ phones use proprietary but conventionally limited operating systems, though, the move would have INQ enter into smartphones for the first time and give it access to full third-party apps as well as Google's full feature set.
First touchscreen Squeezebox
Logitech this morning unveiled two expected but major updates to its Squeezebox network media streamers. The Squeezebox Touch is its first hub with a touchscreen and uses the 4.3-inch display to provide a much more flexible interface for playing music, whether from local Macs and Windows PCs or from Internet streaming like Last.fm, Rhapsody or general Internet radio. Its size better displays album art and lets users browse photos on the network.
Spotify iPhone App
Apple today said it has approved Spotify's iPhone app. A spokesperson for the company made the rare statement ahead of the app's appearance for paidContent in what's seen as a bid to prevent accusations of anti-competitive behavior regarding the app, which will need a 10 Euro (roughly $14) monthly premium subscription but which will give unlimited streaming of music over both Wi-Fi and on iPhones using 3G. It's unclear when the app will actually appear but is expected only in countries where Spotify is already available on computers, such as the UK or Spain.
Revo IKON Radio Dock
Revo this morning claimed the high ground in radio docks through the unveiling of the IKON. The system aims to be a center for all digital audio with DAB+ radio (for the UK), Internet radio through many sources that include Last.fm, Pandora, Rhapsody and Sirius, an iPhone/iPod dock and media sharing from Macs and PCs on the local Ethernet or Wi-Fi network. A unique advantage in the field is a 3.5-inch touchscreen that provides both a much more context-sensitive interface for each source but displays album art, song data and anything else a given format allows.
Apple Event Sept 9 Rumor
Apple's rumored music event for September has been narrowed down to Wednesday the 9th, a source close to the company says. True to the company's past practices, the event is likely to be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and should focus on both Apple's now habitual iPod upgrades as well as a new version of iTunes that the All Things D tipster says may involve a "social element" like the Facebook, Last.fm and Twitter integration recently mentioned in a photo leak.
Sonos Bundle 250 Review
Sonos was founded with the dream of building a reasonably affordable whole home audio solution in an era where many systems did (and often still do) cost several thousand dollars or more. Now on its second generation of hardware and with much more mature software, it's possible the company's music system may have reached its zenith. We want determine just how true that is in our larger review.
Online Radio Royalty Deal
Owners of Internet radio stations and music label groups struck a deal on Tuesday that should allow online outlets to continue streaming music. The agreement is now a scaling one and will ask larger stations to pay either 25 percent of their revenue or a per-track rate based on the year, ranging from 0.08 cents per song in 2006 through to 0.14 cents per song in 2015, depending on whichever is greater. Those companies that make less than $1.25 million per year will be asked to pay between 12 and 14 percent of their revenues.
imeem Music Store in Works
imeem is gradually building its own music store that may afford it independence from Apple's iTunes or Amazon MP3, an investigation has found. Normally, those buying permanent copies of music from the site must go through an Amazon or iTunes link and buy it off-site; quietly, however, the company has been adding direct-download MP3 purchases of its own for certain artists, such as Iron and Wine. The payment system is direct and uses either credit cards or PayPal.
MS Zune Movies on Xbox
Microsoft today launched a range of changes to the Xbox 360's video features. Now rebranded as a Zune service, the former Xbox Video Marketplace will now provide videos in full 1080p and promises an "instant-on" feature that starts streaming videos almost immediately on faster connections. The extension will be available in all countries and should come along with an expansion of video rentals and purchases to 18 countries from the current 8.
Yahoo Music Revamp
Yahoo today unveiled a reworked, public beta version of Yahoo Music that significantly changes the company's philosophy on content. The new version serves as a central hub for third-party music services and will let users buy songs from a number of sources, including Amazon and iTunes. It likewise collects Internet radio streams from Last.fm and Pandora as well as music videos on YouTube.
Last.fm radio intros fees
Last.fm on Tuesday announced some parts of the world will see changes as to how the service works, as the service will no longer be offered free of charge. Subscribers in the US, UK and Germany are not affected by this change, however. Users in all other countries will now need to pay a €3 (about $4) monthly fee, but all features of the service, including scrobbling, recommendations, charts, biographies, events, videos and others will remain in place. To hook subscribers, Last.fm will offer a 30-track free trial in the affected countries.
Squeezebox Boom and Z-500
Logitech on Thursday turned its attention to wireless audio courtesy of both a wholly independent Internet radio and speakers built just for notebooks. One of the first fruits of Logitech's buyout of Squeezebox, the Squeezebox Boom can pull and play unprotected music from any recent Mac or Windows PC on a local 802.11g Wi-Fi network but also picks up Internet streaming radio services entirely on its own, including largely free services such as Last.FM, Pandora or Slacker as well as a user's memberships to primarily for-pay services such as Rhapsody and Sirius' Internet streams.
Slacker on iPhone and RIM
A source close to the internet radio service Slacker alleges that the mobile audio device manufacturer is exploring the iPhone and BlackBerry as viable platforms, with an app "about ready to launch" on the devices. Laptop Magazine writes that the app supposedly will allow users to both stream and cache content for offline playback. The service functions similar to those of Pandora and Last.fm, in that users can hear recommendations based on their interests.
PandoraJam 1.3 update
Bitcartel has released the v1.3 update to PandoraJam, its multi-purpose client for the Web-based radio service. Users can stream music wirelessly, record tracks and copy them to iPods, and send track data to the Last.fm social networking site. Program information can be delivered through Growl, as well as instant messaging apps including Adium, iChat and Skype. Owners of Apple Remotes can control Pandora at a distance.
Ad-driven music on Last.fm
One of the most popular social networking sites for music, Last.fm, says it is now letting users stream any music listed on the site free and legally. This is as a result of deals signed with EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG, as well as "thousands" of independent labels, all of whom will receive a portion of the website's advertising revenue for each time a track plays. Artists, meanwhile, will receive a unique share of the ad revenue, paid directly. Acts can thus earn some money and exposure without being signed to a label.