Remember the launch of Tidal, where Jay Z said that him and his pals were making history, by offering a slightly expensive music streaming service? Those were the days eh? Our generation’s very own moon-landing moment.
Well, some of you cynics looked at the whole thing and wondered why on Earth you were supposed to feel sorry for a bunch of multimillionaires. The jaded were all ‘what? Shut up, superstars! Stick to making records, alright?’
Initially, Tidal burst into the American iPhone top 20 download chart, which was expected. However, in the fortnight since then, it has dropped out of the top 700. To make matters worse, all this talk has seen an upswing for Tidal’s rivals. Pandora and Spotify have seen a surge in customers.
In fact, since Tidal started tutting at Spotify, it reappeared in the iPad top 40 download chart for the first time in months. By attacking its rivals, Tidal has managed to give Spotify and Pandora a shot in the arm, increasing the public’s awareness of the products. They weren’t the only people profiting from all this - Beats Music has even seen an increase of people downloading their app.
Sadly for Tidal, they’ve shot their mouths off and made their competition even stronger, who have all ridden Tidal’s momentum and are now looking stronger than they were last year.
So well done to all concerned at Tidal.
Are you a Virgin Media customer who has Sky’s sports package? Well, your world is about to be turned upside down as you’re being slapped senseless with a £2 a month increase. In irritating news, that’s double the £1 Sky’s own customers are looking at.
The price increase will come into play in June.
Sky said, back in March, that the price of a sports package would go up by a quid a month, while the cost of their family bundle will rise by £3 a month. Sky, clearly, need to find a way of getting some of the money back that they spent on Premier League matches. They coughed-up £4.2bn for those.
Virgin Media, likewise, have to stick their prices up, with the sports fans paying the extra couple of quid and those who have Sky Movies will pay 50p a month more, on top of that.
Virgin said: “Sky is spreading the cost across its other TV packages, so their customers who don’t take Sports or Movies will also see the cost of their packages go up. Our rises are simpler and only mean that customers who take the content pay the increased price for that content. We don’t want to make our non-Sky Sports/Movies watching customers subsidise costs for those that do.”
Throwing a bit of shade at Sky there, eh?
Virgin Media has form in this, and has been complaining about people paying too much for football on TV in the UK. Virgin seethed that, when Sky announced their price hikes, everyone knows that Sky’s non-sport watching customers were subsidising sports rights.
Brigitte Trafford, Virgin Media’s chief corporate affairs officer, said: “This price rise is entirely due to the increase in charges we have to pay Sky. As we have made clear to Ofcom, any increase in the value of the Premier League’s live TV rights eventually ends up hitting the pockets of fans.”
The latest release of Google Chrome – version 42 – has blacked out the services thanks to the removal of support for NPAPI plugins, including Microsoft’s Silverlight, which many on-demand services use to power things.
On Now TV’s support forum, they said: “Google Chrome version 42 has now been released, and Chrome no longer supports Microsoft Silverlight. From this point, you’ll need to use Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox to watch Now TV on your PC.”
Meanwhile, at the @BTCare Twitter account, they said: “If you use Chrome to watch BT Sport you may get a Silverlight error. Silverlight is no longer supported in Chrome, pls use another browser.”
Blinkbox added: “Because our HTML5 player is newer than the Silverlight player we use in other browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox on PCs and Safari on Mac, you might need a faster broadband connection than usual to have the same experience that you’re used to, whilst we work to further optimise streaming using HTML5. Because of this, for the best experience, we recommend that you use a different browser right now, particularly if your internet speed is close to our recommended minimum speed or you’ve got an older computer.”
Eventually, all video-on-demand services will have to move away from Silverlight as it is being discontinued by Microsoft.
Now a new Star Wars trailer has landed online, everyone of a certain age has been reduced to a dribbling, nostalgic wreck. As Star Wars is such a huge deal, the hype surrounding it and marketing opportunities are not like any other franchise.
Not many films can get an airline so excited that they paint one of their planes like R2D2. That’s exactly the craic with Japanese airline All Nippon Airways who unveiled plans to dress their plane in a way that will see everyone making puns on ‘may the air force be with you’.
In a couple of months, there’s going to be a Boeing 787 flying around the sky looking like Artoo.
This design is part of the airline’s five-year “Star Wars Project”, which means more Star Wars themed aircraft. We’re hoping for a Jabba The Hut one, as that’d look disgusting.
And while we’re here, we might as well watch the second trailer of Star Wars Episode VII and dribble all over ourselves with excitement. Yes. We know it’s a children’s film.
Thanks to original series like Orange Is The New Black, House of Cards and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, they’ve been winning over lovers of the idiot lantern and reached 62.3 million subscribers, which is up from last quarter’s 57.4 million.
Of those millions, around 4om are in America, which means Netflix wants to get serious with other territories. They want a much bigger presence in Europe to “take advantage of the substantial available growth opportunities”. They’re also making eyes at new markets in Australia and Japan.
Netflix also has a freemium ad-supported service in China, and they’re looking at pursuing the trad. subscription product over there. However, they need permission from the powers that be to operate in the most populated country in the world.
Netflix wants to operate in 200 countries by the end of 2016 – they currently serve 50.
Another thing they’ll be doing is encrypting their service, which they hope will please people who have concerns about their privacy and security. However, they could incur the wrath of users as they clamp down on proxy servers, which means people can’t get access to the American version of the service, which has a much larger library.
Sky have gone and expanded their Buy & Keep service, offering it the download/delivery service to non-Sky subscribers. Last year, Sky’s TV subscribers got the service which lets you download a digital copy of a film while you wait for the physical DVD to be delivered, but now, anyone can do it.
If you think this sounds better than just downloading stuff or going down the shops, then from today, you can go to the Sky Store website and sort yourself out.
Seeing as they’re opening it up to everyone, the service is going to be available on a load of different mobile platforms and internet-connected set-top boxes. If this sort of thing fills you with dread, do remember, you can just watch Freeview and tut about stuff.
Nicola Bamford, Director of the Sky Store says: “People want the simplest and most convenient way to buy and watch the movies they love, which is why it’s great news that from today Buy & Keep will be available to everyone and across multiple devices.”
Some bigger, newer films will cost you £13.99, while older flicks are going for £7.99 each. If you use torrents, try and keep your laughing down because you’re upsetting the consumers.
You’ll also be able to use the Follow Me function, which lets you pause a movie and resuming watching it on a different one.
This comeback has got some people so excited, that a special vinyl chart has been launched. Last year, vinyl sales hit a 20-year high in the UK, which is exciting enough. This new chart launches ahead of Record Store Day on Saturday.
Martin Talbot, the chief executive of the Official Charts Company, said: “With vinyl album sales up by almost 70% already this year,vinyl junkies could well have snapped up 2 million units by the end of this year – an extraordinary number, if you consider sales were one-tenth of that just six years ago.”
Gennaro Castaldo, from industry body The BPI, said: “With sales of vinyl albums at their highest level since the heady days of Britpop and growing, the introduction of an Official Vinyl Chart at this time makes perfect sense.”
“The chart will not only help us to better understand which artists and type of music are driving this resurgence, but will also help guide a new generation of younger, but emotionally-engaged, fans as they contemplate the vinyl delights that await them.”
However, what no-one is saying is that the comeback isn’t nearly as large as people are making out. Vinyl was virtually extinct at one point, which means sales don’t have to be that high to break record sales for two decades.
We’ll let this graph show you the truth of the matter.
As you can see, the late ’80s and early ’90s is when vinyl sales took a huge hit, thanks to the advent of CDs and cheap cassettes. While it is encouraging to see people buying vinyl again, sales are nowhere near the mid ’70s peak. You can add into this that no-one buys CDs or cassettes either, which means physical sales are in a sorry state indeed.
Still, seeing as record companies ripped everyone off for years, you could argue that this is all payback.
Remember us telling you about Netflix clamping down on people using proxy servers and VPNs?
Well, they’ve updated their terms and conditions and now they’re threatening to “terminate or restrict your use of our service, without compensation or notice” if you start doing things in a way they don’t like. As a result, there’s going to be a number of disgruntled customers who will ditch subscription services in favour of firing up a torrent.
If you want access to content that is (pointlessly) restricted to other territories, then you’re going to have to go through the back door.
The clauses in the T&Cs that are relevant to all this are:
Article 6C: “You may view a movie or TV show through the Netflix service primarily within the country in which you have established your account and only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such movie or TV show. The content that may be available to watch will vary by geographic location. Netflix will use technologies to verify your geographic location.”
“By way of background, what we do is nothing different than what traditional TV networks do to prevent, for example, someone from outside the US from watching the Olympics on NBC.com… we are working to become a global Internet TV network and, as part of that, will have more global rights to series, features, docs, comedy specials, etc., this should make this whole issue moot overtime.”
One of the main concerns is Apple’s forthcoming platform.
The commission want to establish whether or not premium platforms are working with labels in a way that hinders free services unfairly. According to reports, a bunch of streaming services and music labels have been questioned by EU regulators, and they want to know about their arrangements with Apple, Spotify and other services.
“There is concern in the industry that Apple, with its enormous market share and distribution power and what it can do in terms of pricing and promotion can have an unfair competitive advantage,” said one music bigwig.
That said, Apple still hasn’t announced their pricing structure, so if they have a freemium option, it would seem silly to try and build a case against them. And why labels would want Apple to own the streaming business is anyone’s guess. Should Apple not want a freemium model, then they won’t be alone, as we’ve seen with the Jay Z fronted Tidal.
Record labels are apparently going to be responding to the Competition Commission’s questionnaire within the next few weeks.
At CES, Netflix said that they’re backing certain televisions because they give a good Netflix experience. This basically means the manufacturers are willing to put a Netflix button on the remote and that the app has a fast start-up time.
And so, joining in the fun are Sony, Panasonic and Philips.
That’s just one of the things Netflix are doing in a bid to ramp things up this year. As well as the remote buttons, they’re also going to launch in Australia and, most importantly, they’re looking at getting rid of the regions which means that one country sees a show before others.
They’re also pushing for net neutrality in the US and going after broadcast networks.
Of course, Netflix will be making a load of new, original programming after the successes of House of Cards and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. One of the big shows they’ll be shunting at you is an original TV series of Daredevil.
Ever wanted to be chased by ghosts down your own street while you hoover up pellets in an endless loop of stress? Of course, some of you already have a life that’s is exactly that, thanks to your delusions.
For the rest of you, there’s hope. For April Fool’s Day (one of the more trying days of the year), Google have decided to turn Google Maps into a playable Pac-Man game.
Of course, the rules of the game are simple – charge around while the famous music plays and eat power pills and get chased by Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde. And when you die, you get that infamous noise that has frustrated so many over the years.
All you have to do is go to Google Maps, hit the Pac-Man icon and you’re away.
Basically, Jay Z, Jack White, Daft Punk, Beyonce, Rihanna, Chris Martin, Arcade Fire, Kanye West and a load of other people including Calvin Harris, have teamed-up to make Tidal the first major artist-owned streaming service. If you remember, United Artists did something similar with a record label (and that ended well).
The funny thing is, is that these artists are all talking about Tidal like it is Live Aid or something, looking at what they’re doing as something akin to social justice when, of course, the idea behind it is to get people to spend their money.
Basically, Tidal will cost you roughly twice the amount of a Spotify account. Or, if you use torrents, then this will cost you money, period. The idea is that, through Tidal, musicians will release their music there first, at a higher quality than anywhere else. Those involved in it made a little film about it all too, which will make you grind your teeth.
Of course, Jay Z in 2015 is a businessman first and a rapper, second. It isn’t really surprising that he wants to get in the world of tech. Dr Dre has made a pretty penny through Beats and signing up with Apple.
Sadly for him, a lot of music fans aren’t convinced. Some are even angry at the whole thing, with the general bile being along the lines of “Oh, poor you – you’ve been destitute for so long haven’t you? With your champagne, fur coats and helicopter pads…”. It seems that one of the biggest jobs Tidal will have, is PR, if they want a load of disposable income to be thrown their way.
What do music fans actually get from this? Lossless music, demo versions of songs and the chance to hear new releases for a week on Tidal, before it goes to the other platforms. And… uh… that’s about it really.
If you want to check it out, find it here. Do you fancy it and, perhaps more pertinently, do you think it is going to be the saviour of the recording industry?
The app is available today (which means, hurray, yet another update to do on your PS3 or PS4) and you’ll be able to listen to albums over the top of in-game audio. That means you can play a super bleak horror game while listening to ‘Yakety Sax’ by Boots Randolph. And who wouldn’t want to do that?
Of course, if you like tutting about things like Spotify, you can always ignore all this and play Solitaire with some playing cards while listening to an LP.
For those of you interested, the app is available even if you don’t have a premium Spotify account.
Gustav Soderstrom, chief product officer at Spotify, said: “Music has always been a big part of gaming. I remember playing computer games like Quake and Counter-Strike with my favourite tunes on in the background, taking the experience to a whole new level. With today’s launch, we’re bringing back that magic of gaming with music – all in a beautifully-designed and smooth experience that looks great on the big screen.”
You’ll get all the usual features through the app, as well as a new the option to control the music in-game via a pop-up volume menu. Spotify Connect technology will be part of the app too, which means other people in the room with access to your account can control the tunes with their phones or whatever.
Google wants to get in on all that lovely television action that everyone else is weighing into. Apple are going to start streaming TV shows, and Amazon have their Fire TV box and stick. The internet godzilla is prepping the launch of the Nexus Player on 26th March in the UK.
As you’d expect, the Nexus Player will let you stream films and telly programmes from Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Of course, this is pointless if you have a console, but for non-gamers, this is a good move and yet another option to look at.
That said, this offering from Google hasn’t exactly won everyone over in America, Canada and Japan.
One problem is that the Nexus Player us likely to cost somewhere in the region of £75 and, if you want to play games on it, then the joypad is another £30.
Google haven’t made an official announcement on all this, but the product has appeared on an Amazon listing.
Is there any point buying one if you can already stream Netflix from other devices to your television, for a much cheaper price?