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.
Vimeo starts accepting 4K-resolution video from Pro subscribers
Vimeo is allowing Vimeo Pro users to upload 4K-resolution videos to the service. GigaOM reports that subscribers of the $200-per-year service can transfer the high-resolution video files to its video-on-demand platform, putting the videos up for sale and download by customers. While downloads are available, Vimeo is not allowing 4K streams to operate yet, with CTO Andrew Pile admitting the lack of device support for the format.
'Your friend in the digital age' allegedly aids piracy by ignoring infringement
A pair of music publishers have launched a suit against Internet service provider Cox Communications. BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music accuse the provider of failing to penalize serial rights infringers, with warnings by watchdog Rightscorp (well known for its false positives) going ignored. The pair claims that Cox's refusal to deliver the messages serves to dilute the entire anti-piracy effort agreed to by the ISPs, and hurts both the ISP industry and music-producing business in the process.
CMA finds adults are more likely to take action, buy music after streaming exposure
Since Taylor Swift kicked off a debate on the artistic merits of the album and the degradation of art by streaming music, numerous parties in the music industry are chiming in on the topic of sales. The latest is the Country Music Association (CMA), which conducted a study that compared consumer action towards buying a song or album, based on listening to a new song over the radio or through a streaming platform.
Paid BitTorrent Bundles offer content creators 90-percent revenue share
BitTorrent is allowing more companies and content creators the ability to sell content packages across the peer-to-peer file sharing network, by opening up BitTorrent Bundle to more artists. A project using paygates which has been under development since last year, BitTorrent Bundle aims to make collections of songs and other media available to purchase, with content creators set to receive the lion's share of funds.
Spotify Premium subscribers can control Uber audio system during ride
Spotify is partnering with Uber, allowing passengers of the taxi app to play their choice of music via the cab's built-in audio system. At the same time as the audio announcement, it appears that code within the Spotify app itself points toward the future introduction of a podcasting service, alongside another unknown feature given the name "Magic."
Record label CEO claims Taylor Swift paid less than $500,000, not $6M
The battle between Spotify and Taylor Swift is continuing, with an executive at the singer's record label now stepping into the fight. Scott Borchetta, CEO of record label Big Machine, advises that Swift has been paid less than $500,000 in the last year, a significantly lower figure than the $6 million claimed to have been paid by Spotify to the label in a recent blog post.
Agreement between Merlin, YouTube said to have taken months to complete
Google's in-development YouTube music subscription service is another step closer to reality, as a deal with independent record labels has apparently been reached. One of the last stumbling blocks for launch, a report claims YouTube's agreement with rights agency Merlin will allow the service to include tracks from thousands of independent record labels, significantly expanding the library.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek claims Swift was on track for $6M in royalties this year before pulling music
Spotify has responded to claims by singer Taylor Swift that the service does not pay music producers enough, by revealing it has paid more than two billion dollars in music royalties. A blog post by CEO Daniel Ek following the removal of Swift's music from the service and a further attack in an interview also notes Swift was on track to receive $6 million in streaming revenues for this year alone.
Smartphone users of Spotify can select songs on networked computers
Spotify has made another update to Connect, its controllable streaming music system it introduced last year, by letting smartphones control a computer. The latest addition allows a Spotify user to use a mobile device as a remote control for the desktop version of the app, through the same system which can select the music on Wi-Fi-enabled speakers and other devices.
Free options to continue, Warner first major label to receive royalties from service
Audio distribution platform SoundCloud is on the cusp of launching its premium subscription service, adding another layer of offerings to help the company generate revenue. The premium ad-free service will be launched in 2015, with Warner Music Group signing on as the first major label to earn money from the sharing and streaming hub.
New payment option lowers cost for multiple users to access Spotify
Spotify is adding a new subscription option to its plan roster, one which covers multiple users. Spotify Family will provide access to the premium version of the music streaming service to up to five nominated users, with the group plan being discounted heavily compared to the single-user subscription, a payment option Rdio first introduced in June of last year.
Move seen as part of rumored rebranding shift coming next year
One of the US' largest carriers, AT&T, has abruptly ended a promotion it began with Beats Music prior to the latter being acquired by Apple. The carrier was previously offering the ability to include a Beats Music subscription on a customer's wireless bill if desired, and told AppleInsider that it will continue to offer the plan to existing customers and those currently on the free trial. There is, however, no longer any access to a free trial through AT&T's website.
All-in-one DJ solution looks to remove focus on laptops, adds high-resolution displays
A new entry in Native Instruments Traktor series of DJ controllers was unveiled today, with the Traktor Kontrol S8. The newest model in the company's flagship line looks to change the way DJ move into the future, by pulling emphasis away from the laptop in order to focus more on the crown. Native Instruments does this by adding technology to controllers, such as high-resolution LCD displays that respond to touch-sensitive controls.
Denied for Mac offers rule creation option for avoiding the music you hate
Since it's now commonplace to regularly listen to randomly generated or pre-curated music playlists, there will inevitably be songs you're not a fan of thrown into those mixes. Denied for Mac does one thing, and does it really well - it spares you from songs you don't care to hear, while streaming content from subscription-based platforms or iTunes. Though a convenient addition to an average listening experience, is it worth paying for?
Apple counting only full album downloads; 81M more have 'experienced' tracks
Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue revealed on Thursday that the U2 album Apple bought and gave away to its users for free, Songs of Innocence, has now been deliberately downloaded by users more than 26 million times, with another 65 million users having listened to at least one of the songs from it either through iTunes Radio, Beats Music or on iTunes. This figure, Cue said, was a little shy of double the sum total of all U2 music bought from iTunes since 2003.
Audiophile-grade amplified headphones feature perfect fit, great sound
Blue, a company that has specialized in microphones, has turned its techniques the other way around to create a set of serious headphones -- called Mo-Fi -- with an almost Apple-like attention to detail, from the packaging to the execution of the design. This is the sort of thing we were hoping Apple would create for Beats after the first year or two, but here it is now. At $350, they are not meant for casual listening, and it might be dangerous to wear them while walking the streets. They are primarily intended for serious listening to high-quality music. Are they for you? Find out in our review.
Grooveshark disagrees with decision as it's based on 'an early iteration' of the service
After record labels were granted a summary judgment from a US District Court judge in New York in September, streaming music service Grooveshark says it's gearing up for an appeal to the the case. The reason for the appeal sounds somewhat defiant, as Grooveshark states it doesn't agree with the decision since it was based on "an early iteration of Grooveshark."
Plans to revamp Beats Music next year at lower monthly price
Apple is asking the major music labels to adjust their agreements with the iPhone maker to allow to go ahead with a planned revision of the subscription-based Beats Music service that may well portend a lowering of the monthly cost. The company apparently plans to introduce changes to the service next year, and wants to obtain new rights and features at a lower price as part of what it has in mind. Streaming services have recently gained in popularity at around the $10 per month mark, which is what Beats Music charges.
Founder realized he held company back, company to now stand on its own merit
Baboom founder Kim Dotcom confirmed today that he has parted ways with the music startup. Stating reasons tied to his reputation with the music industry, Dotcom sold his stake in the company, which he launched at the start of the year. Dotcom had also vacated his position at Mega, a cloud storage company he created after the legal trouble involving his previous venture Megaupload, to focus on the music service.
Spotify opens Canadian streaming service to everyone
Spotify has opened up its service in Canada to all users, following a brief invitational period. The streaming music service boasts over 20 million songs served on 320kbps streams, with chief content officer Ken Parks claiming the collection has been "tailor made for Canadian music fans." Users have the same ad-supported free and paid service options as other regions, with Spotify Premium priced at $10 per month.