Song-identification technology may be enlisted for Siri, iTunes Radio
Citing unnamed sources "with knowledge of the product," Bloomberg is reporting that Apple may enter into a partnership with song-identifying app Shazam to bring the music-matching feature to iOS 8. Users could, for example, ask Siri "what song is playing?" as they listen to iTunes Radio or other streaming music services, with the voice assistant enlisting Shazam's services to return an answer after a short identifying pause. This in turn would produce a link to the song on iTunes.
Design issues, need for compelling offering cited
YouTube's untitled on-demand music service launch has been postponed again. The move is allegedly a requirement for the company to "get it right" from day one, and for the service to be competitive with similar offerings from other vendors immediately upon release. The service, originally slated to go live at the beginning of 2014, is now not likely to see release until the end of the year, or later.
App update removes starred tracks from Spotify for new collection system
Spotify has made drastic changes to its user interface, by introducing a new darker theme. The change in appearance of the streaming music service across all platforms is joined by a new feature called "Your Music," something the company previewed in late 2012, allowing users to collect and manage their music without requiring users to create playlists.
Sources cite revamped effort curating discussions, discovery
Even though Twitter is shuttering its #Music service and has yanked the supporting app from the iOS App Store, the microblogging service is preparing a new but similar offering, according to services familiar with the matter. The new service is allegedly forsaking the app-driven approach, and focused on conversations about content, hosted on Twitter itself.
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.
New rate for new users to offset dramatic increase in cost of business
Online music streamer Pandora is raising its prices for new subscribers. The current subscription cost for unlimited and ad-free Pandora One is climbing 25 percent to $5 per month, up from $4. Existing Pandora One monthly subscribers that remain active will not experience a price increase and will continue to pay $4 per month. The company cites rapidly-growing costs to deliver the service as the reason for the price hike.
High-fidelity music player PonoPlayer sails past original Kickstarter goal
The PonoPlayer, a music playback device backed by musician Neil Young, has doubled its target on Kickstarter shortly after starting its campaign. The high-fidelity player has so far raised over $1.6 million on the crowd-funding site, beating the $800,000 the campaign originally asked for within 24 hours of launching, with the pledging period set to continue for another 33 more days.
Rdio will stop using Spotify-owned music intelligence service in future
Rdio will be changing the way it offers listeners music, by not using The Echo Nest in the future, the company has revealed. Following the purchase of the music intelligence company by Spotify, Rdio is keen to not help its chief competition by providing it with more data about its user's listening habits, instead relying on other methods to offer music discovery and curation.
Fixed $30M licensing pot a sticking point for music executives in Amazon negotiations
More rumors for fabled Amazon services have surfaced, with three different outlets claiming to provide more information about the Prime music service and its long-rumored streaming device. The latest claim for the music service, thought to be offered as part of the Prime delivery subscription, sees the company limiting the number of plays of a track, as a means to increase its MP3 sales.
Milk Music offers 200 genre stations, personalization options, 13M songs
Samsung is offering owners of its Galaxy mobile devices in the United States a free streaming music service. Milk Music will let users listen to more than 200 genre-based and ad-free music stations, using a catalog of more than 13 million tracks to generate playlists, with the additional option of generating personal stations based on favorite songs and albums.
Music curation API used by other music services will remain open despite purchase
Spotify is looking to bolster the music curation and discovery functions of its service, by acquiring music intelligence company The Echo Nest, the streaming music service has revealed. The purchase will provide Spotify with deeper access to The Echo Nest's knowledge base and music curation tools, currently used by competitors such as Nokia MixRadio and Rdio for their own music discovery offerings.
Claimed discussions with labels stalled over music licensing discount request
Amazon Prime subscribers may receive another benefit in the future, if a rumor is found to be true. It is claimed that the online retailer is looking to expand the Prime bonuses from the current Kindle Lending Library and Prime Instant Video offerings to include music streaming, with Amazon said to be in negotiations with the larger music labels to make the service a reality.
90s grunge act Soundgarden to perform 'Superunknown' in full at concert
On the heels of the announcement that the iTunes Festival, a live music event held annually in London, will be extended to a week of shows in the US for the first time at this year's SXSW music festival, Apple has now announced that 90s rock act Soundgarden will join the lineup. The band, featuring its full original lineup, will perform its best-known album "Superunknown" in full during the concert, celebrating its 20th anniversary.
GrooveMaker 2 released by IK Multimedia
IK Multimedia has announced the release of its mobile loop based music-making app, GrooveMaker 2. Designed for iPad, the app offers users the ability to create professional quality grooves, beats and songs in real time. Its library features over 3,600 available loops and over 60 collections of music genres, including House, DubStep, Hip Hop, Techno, Reggae and more. GrooveMaker 2 can be utilized as a live DJ performance tool as well as a mobile composition app. Users can set the length of individual loops and grooves down to 1/4 of a bar, providing flexibility when building and layering a track.
BlackBerry updates BBM app to work with Android 2.3
BlackBerry has opened up BBM for Android to users of older devices. BlackBerry Messenger can now be downloaded and used on smartphones and tablets running Android 2.3 or later, though the older version of the mobile operating system will not have access to new additions to the app, such as BBM Voice, BBM Channels, and Glympse real-time location sharing.
Line focuses on bringing older analog sounds to the digital age
Roland has brought back a key piece of music history with their line of AIRA products. With four new products specifically pointed towards the evolving world of electronic music, the company brings back some classic analog sounds to the digital world and resurrects the TR-808 drum machine in the process.
Music videos given more prominence in related searches
Google has made two updates to search, for desktops as well as its Android search app. Web-based Google searches will now more prominently display YouTube videos for searches using musical terms, while the Android search app introduces a number of Google Now tweaks, with the option to set specific on-demand and TV providers in the search settings being the biggest change.
Job notices, new technologies may hint at rethinking rather than retirement
As an Apple product, the iPod -- the company's music player line that continues to be a mainstay with fitness buffs and consumers who want "an iPhone without the phone" -- has been in decline for some time. Even so, analysts were startled when CEO Tim Cook mentioned during the recent earnings discussion conference call that shipments of the iconic device line had fallen a full 50 percent from the same quarter last year. Those predicting the iPod's imminent death, however, may be premature.
Rdio adds social sharing bar to web, desktop apps
Rdio has updated its web and desktop apps to make it easier for users to share tracks with social networks. The official blog reveals users can click on a song, album, or playlist and then drag it to a new sharing pop-up on the right-hand side of the screen. Users can then select whether they wish to share the tracks over Facebook, Twitter, or to other Rdio users, or alternatively, add it to a playlist in a fourth option on the same panel.
Cook makes 'exception' to company's forward-looking policy
Following a blitz of interviews given by the executive team and a special mini-site dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh, Apple has rounded off its celebrations by hosting a "beer bash" for employees that featured executives and engineers mingling outside the company's main headquarters, and a live concert by the band One Republic. The well-attended event (captured in a photo by Apple CEO Tim Cook, below) also featured brief remarks by Cook.
Interactive CV timeline service Sumry lifts free beta period
Sumry, an interactive CV hosting service has closed its period of free beta testing. Intended to be an alternative to a standard résumé or CV, Sumry offers its platform as a space to display job experience and life history in the format of a storied timeline. The user's profile page is split into six sections (story, passions, skills, personality, contact information, and links) and is fully customizable with different background colors, links and more. Creating an account with Sumry is free, and setting one's profile to live is $3 per month.
Merchandise marketing through Spotify could help appease royalty critics
Spotify is allowing artists to promote and sell their merchandise through the streaming service for the first time. Band t-shirts, posters, and other merchandise will be offered to Spotify users through the artist's page in the software itself, in what could be considered an olive branch from Spotify to Artists over reportedly-low royalty payments to music makers.
Music discovery service decides not to shut down
Music discovery service Exfm had planned to shut down this week, as was announced late last year, but it has decided to remain operational. Exfm originally launched as a browser extension for finding MP3 files, and has since expanded with mobile apps, a blog widget and an API. Planning to explore partnerships with other companies, Exfm has yet to announce its future direction.
Curated Beats Music to launch later this month
The Beats Music streaming service will finally launch later this month, January 21, with apps available for Android, iOS, Windows, and the web. The Verge reported on Sunday that the service, backed by music industry giant Jimmy Iovine, will be available for a $10 monthly subscription fee. At launch, Beats will also unveil a collaboration with AT&T, which will see that carrier's customers able to get family subscriptions to Beats for just $15 per month.
New devices allows for higher sampling rates, easier configuration
Peripheral manufacturer Apogee Electronics has released the Jam 96k, a new professional guitar interface that lets users easily connect a guitar to an iPhone, iPad or Mac. Its circuitry is designed to reproduce the unique interaction between guitar and tube amp, resulting in an authentic tone and responsive feel with any guitar or music creation app. The company also brought out a revised Mic 96k, which does the same thing for vocal recording.
New 50W speaker sits between existing T2, T6 offerings
Pure is expanding its Pure Connect platform today at CES so its Jongo wireless stereo and multiroom music system can be used with any music streaming service -- including Pandora, iTunes Radio, Rdio, Deezer and Spotify, as well as any audio or radio app. Additionally, it has also unveiled an addition to its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speaker line with the new high-end T4 wireless speaker.
New Evoke F4 compatible with rest of Jongo whole-house speaker line
Audio purveyor Pure is debuting the Evoke F4, an Internet and FM radio with Bluetooth and the ability to stream multiroom audio entertainment, including content from SiriusXM Radio (with subscription). The new streamer is compatible with Pure's Jongo multiroom music system, and in conjunction with other speakers in the series, enables users to listen to synchronized music throughout their home.
Pair of devices a result of partnership with Hal Leonard
Griffin, having recently expanded its offerings for musicians and announced a deal with music distribution giant Hal Leonard, is offering two new products for the mobile musician at CES 2014. Newly announced are the iOS- and OS X-compatible multi-track recording hardware StudioConnect HD, and the new Guitar Sidekick clamp for guitars and other fretted instruments.
First drop in digital music sales since iTunes was invented
According to a new report by Nielsen SoundScan, digital music sales dropped for the first time since the iTunes Store went online in 2003. Sales fell by 5.7 percent to 1.26 billion songs, with industry executives putting the blame on streaming services like Pandora, Spotify and Rdio -- services the record companies themselves licensed their music to in an effort to reduce their dependency on iTunes. Whether revenue from streaming has offset the sales dip hasn't yet been revealed.
Kanye, Chvrches free, others discounted for limited time on Google Play
Google's Play Music Store is currently offering Kanye West's Yeezus and Chvrches' The Bones of What You Believe for free as part of its year-end music sale. The Play Store team named the two as their Album of the Year and Breakout Artist of the Year, respectively, and users can pick the two offerings up for free at the Google Play Store. Alongside those two works, Google is giving away a number of other editors' picks as their top tracks, including works from Anoushka Shankar, M.I.A., The Arcade Fire, and The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Beyoncé moves 829K albums in three days on iTunes
The surprise album pop star Beyoncé Knowles released exclusively on iTunes last week has become the fastest-selling ever on Apple's iTunes Store. Apple on Monday issued a press release revealing that the project -- entitled Beyoncé -- had sold 828,773 albums in its first three days of availability. The iTunes-only album went gold in the United States in just three days, and it went number one in 104 countries.
Tablets, smartphones gain free Spotify service, Led Zeppelin albums
Spotify has rolled out its free music streaming service to tablets and smartphones, just as speculated by reports last week, along with a number of other announcements. While the tablet version of the app will have a similar service to that of the free desktop version, smartphone users will be forced to use a new free "Shuffle" mode instead.
Rdio opens service to another 20 countries, covers a total of 51
Rdio has expanded its reach to include 20 more markets, bringing its total coverage to 51 territories across six continents. The areas the streaming audio service now operates in include Argentina, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Panama, South Africa, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and Hungary. It is not clear if Rdio will be offering a free account option alongside the subscription version in these countries, something users in the United States, Canada, and Australia already enjoy.
Beats Music streaming service to launch next month
Beats Music, the streaming music site spun out from the maker of the popular premium headphones, will make its debut in January of next year, it was revealed on Wednesday. The site for the service has gone live, and users can now register a user name for when it goes live next year. The particulars of Beats' new music offering are as yet unknown, but the company will likely reveal them in the weeks leading up to its unveiling.
Rumor claims Google dissatisfied with current state of the service
YouTube's long-rumored music service has allegedly been delayed until sometime in early 2014. The subscription music offering is said to be preparing for a first-quarter launch, though an exact date has yet to be set, and it is thought that the delay itself has been caused by Google's dissatisfaction with the service as a whole.
New Eminem album free, others discounted
Microsoft is giving hip-hop loving users of its Xbox Music service the chance to download a free copy of Eminem's Marshal Mathers LP2. The company's Major Nelson announced the giveaway on Monday, saying that it is open to Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone users. Downloading the album on any one Windows device will grant access to it across all of one's Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8 devices, as well as on one's Xbox console.
French music streaming service avoided US because of intense competition
Paris-based Deezer will finally offer its music-streaming service in the United States. The service, which has launched in a number of other countries including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and across Europe, will be available to use in the US sometime next year, though the company is reluctant to provide a final launch date until it can find another company to provide extra support.
Winamp media player closure after long lifetime
AOL will be shutting down Winamp on December 20, after operating for 16 years. AOL, which acquired Winamp parent company Nullsoft in 1999 for $80 million, will be closing the Winamp.com website and associated web services, something which will affect existing Winamp installations, and will stop offering the media player for download.
Windows Phone app updated with new name, new look
Nokia has rebranded its music streaming service for Lumia smartphones, and has updated its Windows Phone app at the same time. Nokia MixRadio operates in a similar manner to the advertisement-free Nokia Music service it is replacing, this time with a greater emphasis on the downloadable mixes, as well as introducing a personalized mix.
Leaked images claim Android, iOS platform support on the way
Nokia Music could be heading to the iPhone in the future, according to an allegedly leaked graphic. The app, which currently provides streaming music to Nokia Lumia and Asha smartphones as well as through Windows 8, 8.1, and RT devices, may end up on both iOS and Android devices as Nokia expands the reach of the service.
HBO Go appears on support page for Chromecast
Google appears to be preparing to add an HBO Go app to its Chromecast HDMI dongle. The addition has already surfaced on Google's support page, which was spotted by Droid-Life. The app, which is already available for other Android and iOS devices, enables HBO subscribers to stream shows and movies.
Small but powerful addition to the Play lineup
Improvements in wireless technology over the years has made it increasingly easier to offer music playback in every room of the home. Involved in this "music everywhere" movement since 2002, Sonos has long prided itself on providing customers with audio products that not only sound great, but are also incredibly simple to use. In our full review, we will test to see if the latest addition to the Sonos lineup, the Play:1, fits right into this plan -- while still remaining an affordable option.
Pandora updates Android app with tablet UI, Chromecast streaming
Pandora has updated its Android app with a new design specifically for tablets. Aside from offering an interface made for a larger display, Pandora 5.0 for tablets retains most of the features the smaller-screen version currently offers, with more details for stations available to read, lyrics and artist information, and improved social sharing. The update also introduces Chromecast streaming for the first time.
Dock being sold in limited numbers before wider availability in 2014
Microsoft has started selling a docking station for the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, with sales said to be in limited quantities before wider availability next year. The dock's appearance is accompanied by Microsoft demonstrating one of its recently-announced Surface covers, one which is dedicated to music creation and playback.
Second music streaming service from Google could still launch this year
Rumors of a YouTube music streaming service have resurfaced, with a new report providing a lot more detail about Google's potential plans. It is now thought by report sources that the tiered service, in a similar vein to Spotify, iTunes Radio, and its own Google Play Music All Access, will be launching before the end of the year.
May have created or remastered new sound sets
Electronic musician Adam Young, founder of the Owl City music project, has revealed himself as having been responsible for at least some of the new sounds that debuted with iOS 7. While his exact role is unspecified, the overall tone of the new sounds are distinctly more electronic compared to the default tones of iOS 6.
Music editor Liquid Notes receives new track view, more control elements
Re-Compose's latest update to its music editing software, Liquid Notes, has its focus on user interface improvements. Released yesterday, its previous multi-function knob has been replaced by individual control elements for chord substitution, tension, and function. Other notable changes to Liquid Notes include more control while in track view, allowing for a high-level overview of one's musical arrangements on a single-instrument level. Ableton Live is now better supported, with the addition of a "multiple single-track import" feature to accommodate Live's lack of support for multi-channel MIDI arrangements. Available as a free trial download, or fully licensed software priced at $175, Liquid Notes can be obtained online from Re-Compose.
Music site exploits publicity, complains of 'substandard' terms
A digital music news site was forced to take down a copy of an iTunes Radio contract it had been given and published -- opting to post the entire contract online rather than just discuss the portions it wanted to highlight, prompting a copyright claim from Apple. While some have claimed that Apple's beef was more about suppressing business details than protecting copyright, the site's tactics raise the question of whether its okay to break the law in the name of trying to garner hits.
Universal Music Group puts uncompressed albums on Blu-ray
Universal Music Group (UMG) is attempting to improve sales of albums on physical media by using Blu-ray. The High Fidelity Pure Audio format uses the high capacity of Blu-ray discs in order to provide uncompressed music tracks to listeners, with the first discs using the method going on sale later this month in the United Kingdom.
Two Android personal media players shipping later this year
Sony is continuing to extend its line of Walkman-branded personal music players with a raft of new models, including two Android devices. The Walkman NW-ZX1 and NW-F880 range, powered by Android 4.1, will be going on sale in Japan later this year, alongside new media players in the S-series and M-series ranges.