Era of iPods, streaming music do not eliminate CDs entirely just yet
Today's Pointers column is inspired by a lamentation from a veteran Mac user of our acquaintance who expressed some regret over the upgrade to iTunes 12 (he had jumped several versions in finally doing the upgrade). Among the other changes the recent version had introduced, he was convinced that Apple had removed the ability to burn music CDs, which he still found useful. In case others are laboring under this misconception, this column will show you that yes, CD music burning is still doable in iTunes 12.1 in 2015.
Feature-packed DJ app allows professional mixing of music
DJs have been mixing their magic on turntables and large, expensive basement studio setups for decades at this point, bringing us incredible mashups and original songs. However, there's no reason that DJs should be chained to heavy, expensive equipment when a perfectly viable resource sits within their hands. Today we checked out Edjing Pro, a professional DJ mixing tool for the iPad and iPhone.
Windows Phone music service spreads to other platforms
MixRadio, originally called Nokia Music and owned by Line, has exited its beta testing and is now available to download on iOS and Android. Previously available only on Windows Phone and already available in 31 markets, the cross-platform music streaming service has managed to retain the majority of its features during the porting process, including free personalized playlists.
Videos sourced from major producers, integrated into Spotify playlists
Spotify is expanding its service from purely streaming music into other areas, the company revealed at a press launch. Among other updates, Spotify is going to be bringing its long-rumored video service to its users, and following Deezer's recent addition to its own service, it will give listeners the chance to catch up on podcasts, with Spotify slowly turning itself into a one-stop shop for streaming content.
More than a dozen years with the maligned music player
I can see me doing this now, ripping a track off a CD of mine for the very first time. I was in my living room, it was Orinoco Flow by Enya, and I was ripping it onto my PowerBook G3. Can't quite tell you when it was, can't even be sure that iTunes existed then, but I remember how peculiarly, deliciously weird it felt having that music continue playing after I took the CD out.
App integration will allow Spotify users to earn Starbucks rewards
Starbucks employees will be able to have more control over in-store music provided by Spotify, the two companies have revealed. A multi-year deal struck between the coffee chain and the music streaming service will also do more than provide music, with it opening up the Starbucks loyalty program to allow Spotify subscribers to increase their rewards balance and eventually earn free drinks.
Users can choose to be updated on artist activity, comment on posts
Sources familiar with plans for Apple's new streaming music service, supposedly now to be called "Apple Music," have revealed that the service will have a deep social networking aspect for artists, but will not be the same as Apple's previous attempt at fusing social and music together, dubbed "Ping." Artists will have their own page that can be used for posting samples, concert and tour information, photos, and other messages that fans can comment on and "like."
Intuitive music app lets users create great songs, regardless of prior skill
We're not sure if Apple ever assumed that the iPhone and iPad would ever become legitimate musical instruments, but it's become apparent over the last couple years that there are many artists who are successfully producing music on their favorite iDevices. This is largely due to the complex-yet-intuitive apps that allow users to create viable songs with just a little practice. We checked out one such app, NodeBeat, an ingenious music-creation app.
Amazon adds Prime Stations to Echo wireless speaker
Amazon has updated the Echo portable wireless speaker to work with Prime Stations. An email sent to Prime subscribers owning the device advises that the Alexa digital assistant can be commanded to play a personalized ad-free station from Prime Music. The verbal command "Alexa, play the Bruno Mars Prime Station" will start streaming the relevant station through the speaker, with "Alexa, thumbs up/thumbs down" rating the track for further personalization, and "Alexa, what song is this?" to receive more track details.
Appeals court sides with Pandora over songwriter royalty rate payments
An appeals court has upheld a ruling from last year concerning royalty rates paid by Pandora to songwriters. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with an earlier ruling, which set the rate the music streaming service pays to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) to 1.85 percent of Pandora's revenue, with no changes made to the figure.
Company pushing forward despite reports of record company reticence, federal investigations
Speculation and unconfirmed reports have run rampant over Apple's progress in its effort to revamp its iTunes music services, with recent reports suggesting the company may have difficulty hitting its planned June target for formally introducing both a revised Music app for iOS in the forthcoming iOS 8.4, and a significantly revamped iTunes Radio and Beats Music streaming service designed to compete with Spotify. Various reports, however, claim obstacles -- ranging from music label reluctance to federal investigations.
Easy to use tool for musicians includes tone generator, tuner, and metronome
Being a musician today certainly has its perks. Between the accessibility of starter instruments and the wide variety of sounds available to musicians, it's a great time to start playing, regardless of skill or previous experience. Of course, there's also the added bonus of the wide variety of apps available to musicians, which can do everything from teach you how to play, to recording, to keeping everything working just the way it should. Today we checked out Tunable, an easy to use app for both the iPhone and the iPad that lets musicians tune their instruments on the go.
Artist-owned music streaming service rumors refuted by musician
Rapper Shawn Carter, known as Jay-Z, has taken to Twitter to claim artist-owned music streaming service Tidal is doing fine. Defending against suggestions that the service isn't as popular as initially anticipated, Jay-Z claims the service has grown to over 770,000 subscribers in the month since the celebrity change of ownership, and that it won't be as big as other services for quite some time.
Get the good and avoid the irritating features of streaming music
There are other streaming music services, and you can well argue that there are better ones, but Spotify is winning the war to become the Hoover, Xerox, and iPad of its class: the brand name that somehow becomes synonymous with the idea. At least, nobody tells you what their favourite iTunes Radio station is, no one in the world sends you links to Pandora, and it's like few people have heard of Beats Music. Yet. However, Spotify is known even by normal people, and it is a way in to the whole streaming music subscription concept.
'Sneak peek' offers better iTunes Radio experience; Xcode 6.4 beta updated also
On Monday, Apple released the first iOS 8.4 beta to developers, which among other feature includes what the company calls a "sneak peek" at a revamped Music app that now offers a new Miniplayer, global search, a better iTunes Radio experience and improved "Now Playing" screen that allows custom art from users, along with a Recently Added automatic playlist. In addition, Apple updated its Xcode 6.4 beta with new SDKs for iOS 8.4, and compatibility updates for OS X Mavericks (10.9) and Yosemite (10.10).
Latest version of Java required to install additional GarageBand sounds
If you're a musician with lots of experience or a budding musician with little experience, Apple's GarageBand is a marquee music making application. For some, GarageBand is a key factor in choosing a Mac with many graduating to Apple's pro-audio suite Logic. As affordable as Logic is, the best part about GarageBand is that is completely free when buying a Mac. Regardless, when you run into a seemingly intractable sound file installation bug with GarageBand, it can cool the ardor for the free package. We've got a solution.
Premium Rithm accounts priced at $4 undercuts other music streaming services
A new music streaming service is aiming to pull in potential subscribers, by severely undercutting the competition. Rithm is a combined music streaming and messaging app that allows users to not only share songs with friends, but also provides the ability to stream full tracks through Rithm Gold for $4 per month, a significant reduction in price compared to Spotify, Tidal, and other services.
Griffin Twenty brings wireless streaming to passive speakers
A few years ago Griffin launched the original Twenty, a small digital amp that used an AirPort Express to turn any set of passive speakers into a wireless system for streaming music. Unfortunately for Griffin, shortly after the launch of the Twenty, Apple updated the design of the AirPort Express, which instantly antiquated the digital amp. Now, thanks to advancements in Bluetooth technology, Griffin no longer needs to lean on Apple's AirPlay technology for streaming, and is back with a new and improved version of the Twenty Digital Amp. We have spent some time with the updated digital amp -- see what we thought about it in our full review.
Jay-Z, Daft Punk, other musical artists now owners of Tidal
Music streaming service Tidal has relaunched as an artist-owned company. At a star-studded launch event streamed live, the musical artists owning part of the service gathered together for the announcement, with the overall message offered being Tidal's push to benefit musical artists more than its competitors, such as Spotify and its allegedly low royalty payments.
Replacement for Sony Music Unlimited heads to PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
The replacement for Sony Music Unlimited is going live on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 today, powered by Spotify. Launching in 41 countries, PlayStation Music provides gamers with access to streaming music, allowing users to play their choice of soundtrack as a background to whatever game they are playing on the Sony game consoles.
Beats integration, iTunes overhaul likely to be on agenda for WWDC in June
A new article in The New York Times describes in some detail the alleged transition plans Apple is undertaking to transform both iTunes and Beats Music, it's acquired subscription streaming service. Among other details, the report assigns roles to iTunes Radio chief Zane Lowe, who until recently was a top BBC Radio 1 DJ, and describes musician Trent Reznor as a "point man" on an iOS Music app overhaul.
Universal said to be in contract negotiations, wants Spotify to weaken free service
Universal Music Group (UMG) wants Spotify to add more limits to its free streaming service, according to reports. The record label is apparently having issues with the freemium music offering and its apparent lack of revenue, and hopes that restricting the number of listens for songs will push Spotify users to the more lucrative paid subscription service.
Downloads still king of market, but falling alongside overall music revenue
A new report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) finds that revenue from music streaming services such as Beats Music, Pandora, and Spotify have now in total beaten out revenue from CD sales in the US, capitalizing on the latter's continued fall from grace (largely thanks to excessively high CD pricing). Both formats are still well behind download sales as the top revenue stream, but even that format is gently declining.
A little fine-tuning will result in delightful listening
Apple's iTunes Radio is one of those things that is criminally underused by most Mac and iOS users, and its a shame: the service is really very good -- and with a tiny amount of effort, can be as, or more, enjoyable than even Pandora One or the other subscription streaming music services, not to mention cheaper. In this post, we're going to show you how to create, and then fine-tune, a custom station that features music you love and compatible new discoveries.
Send audio from one device to another wirelessly
Audreio lets multiple iOS devices connect through Wi-Fi, sending audio input from one to be played back and recorded on the other. Our first impulse was to leave an iPad sitting discreetly on a shelf in one room, and use an iPhone in another to freak out our friends ... but there are many more uses than that. Just make sure you have a good router, and don't forget your headphones.
Storage on Watch limited to 2GB for music, 75MB for photos
Some further details on Apple's new Watch device have come out that were not mentioned during the public presentation on Monday, one of which is a detail that further points out how unlike most technology devices the Apple Watch really is: the device actually has very little room for standalone storage. As we reported prior to the event, the Apple Watch (all versions) has just 8GB of independent storage, with only 2GB available for music and just 75MB allocated for photos. The rest, presumably, is for the operating system and apps.
New components good for either add-on, or new construction
Streaming multi-room music solutions provider CasaTunes announced on Tuesday four new products for multi-room music with the CT-4+ System, CT-8+ System, CT-4S Streamer and CT-8S Streamer. The two CasaTunes Systems are complete multi-room audio systems, including the server, audio streams and audio distribution switch, with everything inside the one music system. The CasaTunes Streamers include the server and music streams, and are ideal for homes that want to add streaming music options to existing audio distribution systems.
Pandora still exploring price options before launching day passes
Pandora is going to be giving its customers an alternative to its Pandora One subscription plan, by allowing users to buy shorter passes. The streaming music service is planning a day pass system, which will offer a full 24-hour period of advertising-free music to buyers for $1, though there is also the chance Pandora may choose to provide longer passes, at different price points.
Clever music app makes musicianship possible - even for newbies!
It's been said that creating music is one of the finer joys in life. However, not everyone has the chance to invest in an instrument, or lessons, or spend the time practicing. Because of this, a large portion of the population is left to only wonder what it would be like if they were to create their own music. That's why we took a look at Musyc Pro, a strangely simple app aimed at the casual musician.
Timing for overhaul set for around WWDC; Android version might continue?
Apple is now aiming for a revamp of its Beats Music streaming service, which will see the offering tied in more closely to both iTunes and other Apple products and services, to happen in June -- right around the time of the expected Worldwide Developers Conference, which is likely to happen on June 8–12, according to sources familiar with current plans. In addition to retaining the personalization and hand-curated recommendation features, Apple may be planning to lower the monthly cost.
Simple, useful radio streaming app for Macs
It used to be so much fun, tuning in to radio stations from around the world. Shortwave radios -- who has those any more? Sitting in central Paris, just about able to pick up BBC Radio 4 from the UK -- it's just no thrill now that you can listen to any station, anywhere in the world, on a whim. Snowflake, a new app born from the ashes of radio recorder Snowtape, makes it even less of a thrill: it is an extremely easy-to-use radio app that streams music from around the world right to your Mac.
Google Play Music expands track storage to 50,000 songs
Google Play Music has received an upgrade to its music storage component, allowing customers to keep more songs on its servers for streaming to computers and mobile devices. The music locker has increased its upper limit of 20,000 tracks to 50,000, double that of the paid iTunes Match service. Despite vastly increasing its storage capacity, the digital locker is still a completely free service.
Sound generator promises to help block out unwanted noise
Sometimes it's hard to stay calm in a world of constant noise. We hear it in our morning commutes, we hear it in the office place, we hear it as we're out running errands. If you're looking for a way to get away from the noise, but you aren't looking to invest in a pair of expensive noise-cancelling headphones, you've got a few options. Sure, playing music helps, but that can often be every bit as distracting as environmental noises. If you're looking for a way to tune out distractions, we recommend you take a look at Rainy Mood by Plain Theory, a high-quality, calming sound generator.
Music-making app offers easy-to-learn gesture controls
A "looper" is a tool used by musicians that takes short recordings and plays them over and over in a loop, obviously, allowing the musician to layer them and create harmonies and background tracks on the fly. Loopy HD is one such tool, and it's pretty easy to use, as evidenced by Jimmy Fallon's penchant for using it with musical guests every couple of months.
Wide variety of app updates bring instant hotel rooms, streaming video, bug fixes, more
A number of apps for both iOS and OS X have received notable updates lately, ranging from the official NBC app gaining live streaking to Kayak adding a service that allows same-day discounted hotel rooms. Apple has updated iTunes 12.1 specifically for Windows users, while Snapchat now lets users play music while snapchatting. Yelp has added translations of reviews to its own app, and The Sims 4 has debuted on the Mac.
Musical helper strikes the right note
If you ask any veteran musician for their advice on how to get started with an instrument, they are likely to have a list of tips and tools they wish existed when they began to play. When we first saw Harmonic Sense's ChordMate for iOS, we could see the potential it had to become one of these prestigious tools in our arsenal. On paper, ChordMate is certainly a tool that could benefit guitar players of all levels, but in practice, would the $10 app work out to meet all of its claims?
Streaming video service Target Ticket shuttering next month
Target is shutting down its video streaming service next month. Target Ticket has already stopped providing rentals, though existing rentals will be viewable until the service shuts down completely on March 7, according to its support pages. The retailer has already made arrangements for its customers to watch movies through CinemaNow from the same account when Ticket closes, with any UltraViolet purchases viewable through other supported video services automatically.
Fun and promising music controller, but it's not quite there yet
If you have a minute, go get the free ControlAir app just for the fun of seeing it work. It's a way of controlling the music your Mac plays, and doing so by gestures rather than pressing any buttons. Given that it is meant for people who are working at their Macs, it doesn't seem a gigantic saving, waving your finger in the air instead of using it to press down on the keyboard's Skip button. Except pushing buttons was never this entertaining.
Everything you need to know about communal e-living
It didn't take long after the first release of iTunes for some enterprising writers to produce books on how to use it. They were enterprising, and the books sold, but surely most people bought them out of curiosity: how can you stretch talking about iTunes for an entire book? If you managed to make "click on the iTunes icon to open it" last for an entire chapter, what would the rest of the book cover? Back in the day, iTunes was a very smart and very simple piece of software for letting you play music.
Amazon adds iTunes, Spotify, Pandora music options to Echo
An update to the Amazon Echo has added more options for music playback. Recode reports the Internet-connected speaker now offers voice control for Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora, when the Echo is paired with a device that has the required apps installed. Improved responsiveness, question accuracy, and more voice commands have also been touted for the device, which has yet to have a wider release outside of its invitation-only testing.
Parent company of Tidal, WiMP agrees to $56M acquisition by rapper
Rapper Jay Z is moving into the streaming music business, by attempting to acquire the parent company of two services. A press release and local media reports claim management of Swedish company Aspiro AB has agreed to the takeover by Jay Z's own companies, with the acquisition deal said to be worth approximately 464 million krona ($56 million).
Sony's answer to iTunes will close in February
The official PlayStation blog on Wednesday posted an announcement letting PlayStation users know about a new partnership with Spotify. The service includes existing playlists for those who already have Spotify accounts. The post also, however, contained the news that Sony's own Music Unlimited service will be discontinued in late March.
Pandora's iOS app receives redesign, new mini-player
Music discovery app Pandora has announced an update to its iOS app, featuring a new design and additional components. Pandora allows users to create personalized music stations that play their preferred music. The latest version (v5.7) offers a refreshed design that improves the ease of shaping a station, including a new Personalization icon for quick access to one's history, and being able to "un-thumb" a song previously marked "up" or "down" by re-tapping the Thumb icon.
Apple music honcho raising money to fight pediatric cancer
Ian Rogers, who was previously the CEO of Beats Music and is still running the service now that it's at Apple, is auctioning a private lunch date in either Los Angeles or Cupertino as part of a charity fundraiser for The Pablove Foundation, a pediatric cancer research nonprofit. The auction, which is being run through Charitybuzz.com, estimates the value of the lunch at $3,000 but is of course hoping to raise much more.
DJ tool adds Spotify, better MIDI support
Thanks to numerous technological advances over the past 40 years, the tools -- and skills -- needed to cut and mix music together in a live environment has been drastically reduced. What used to require multiple record decks, crossfaders, and not to mention a large library of vinyl records, has been reduced down to a single piece of software that can run on a laptop. Algoriddim, a company that has become well known for its iOS DJ apps, recently released a new Pro version of its desktop app Djay. Built specifically for OS X, Djay Pro takes full advantage of 64-bit processing, multi-core track analysis, and Retina displays, but does it do so in a way that is accessible to anyone? We have spent the last few weeks digging around the app to find out.
Library of over 500 tracks available to Twitch game streamers
Twitch is providing music to users of its game-focused video-streaming service, in order to allow its broadcasters to avoid potential copyright problems. The extra help to game streamers comes as the Amazon-owned service attempts to diversify into different areas, by launching an experimental "Music" category for musicians to stream them playing or creating music.
Portable MIDI keyboard with a twist
Thanks to software like GarageBand, creating personalized music has never been easier. The included bank of loops provides a great starting ground for putting together ideas -- however, this can only take a budding musician so far. In order to get the full potential out of any software with a large library of sound samples, some form of external input device is necessary. While options in this field vary greatly, the best place to start is usually with a basic MIDI keyboard. Keith McMillen Instruments' latest product, the K-Board, is a budget-friendly option that looks to introduce a number of features not generally found on keyboards. Is the device simple enough for anyone to use? We have spent the last couple of weeks banging away on the supposedly "unbreakable" keyboard to find out.
Over 60M active users of Spotify, most connect accounts to Facebook
Spotify is continuing to enjoy rising user numbers, with the popular music streaming service announcing it has reached a total of 15 million subscribers. At the same time, reports claim that the majority of Spotify streams stem from mobile listeners, with 52 percent of listening taking place on smartphones and tablets rather than desktops.
IK Multimedia's new portable groove controller
When it comes to mobile music products, IK Multimedia has positioned itself as one of the top suppliers. Right from the early days of iOS, the company has remained at the forefront of the iOS music creation market with products like the original iRig and iRig Mic. As iOS has developed and become more powerful, so has the line-up of iRig products -- its latest introduction, iRig Pads, brings musicians a full-featured 16-pad MIDI groove controller. Is the iRig Pads worthy of the space in your bag for creating a mobile loop workstation? We put the hardware through its paces in our full review.
Amazon, Google Play, and Apple listed among the former employers of ideal candidates
The Algorithms & Cloud Experiences Group of Bose Corporation has posted an opening this week with the company, seeking a Senior User Experience Designer to work on "Cloud Music Services." It's unclear if the company intended to announce its intention to create a streaming music service or potential music "cloud locker" through the posting, but the move represents another attempt by Bose to compete indirectly against Apple, and to a lesser extent other streaming services.