illegal downloading1 269x300 Google to crack down on illegal downloading sites. Again. Google are planning on making changes to its search engine in a bid to crack down on illegal stuff happening.

The engine will direct users away from sites where they can half-inch content, pushing them towards less dodgy sites.

Google have caved in to pressure from the entertainment industry, who have been campaigning for the search engine to do something, while they carried on rearranging deckchairs.

Google will now list these legal services in a box at the top of the search results, as well as in a box on the right-hand side of the page, but if legal sites want to appear in the slot, they will need to pay Google for placement, something music trade group BPI has a problem with.

BPI made 43.3 million requests for Google to remove search results in 2013 – the U.S equivalent group, the RIAA, made 31.6 million and Google removed 222 million results from search because of copyright issues

Google’s Content ID system, which detects copyrighted material, scans 400 years-worth of video every day, which they then offer the music labels the choice of having the content removed, or monetising by having advertising placed there.

The report said: “Piracy often arises when consumer demand goes unmet by legitimate supply,’ the report said.

As services ranging from Netflix to Spotify to iTunes have demonstrated, the best way to combat piracy is with better and more convenient legitimate services.”

It’s unlikely that this will have a massive turnaround in the entertainment industry’s favour, who are missing the days where everyone was on champagne and cocaine breakfasts, but people will find a way around it. They always do.

However, with Google directing people to Google Play, making money through advertising on YouTube adverts and other schemes to ‘combat privacy’, it looks like they might be having the breakfast of a ’70s record company executive, so not everyone is a loser in this. We never said they were unscrupulous.

Spotify: Cheaper for families now

October 20th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

spotify logo Spotify: Cheaper for families nowSpotify is launching a new ‘Family’ plan, which is going to offer cheaper subscriptions to family members of those who already pay for the service.

Basically, if you’re a subscriber to the music streaming platform, you’ll be able to add up to four members of your family for £4.99 each. That means you don’t all have to have separate Spotify accounts at full price.

Spotify’s chief content officer Ken Parks said that a family plan was “one of the most asked for features from our audience”.

Of course, Spotify aren’t the first to do something like this in this field. Rival Rdio launched a similar thing in 2011, while in the States, Beats Music allowed you to add people to your account from January 2014 (they’ve since ditched the deal though, since they teamed up with Apple).

For Spotify, this could be a nice little earner as there are still a lot of people using the free, ad-supported version. According to the company, they have 40m active users, and 30m of those are using the free version.

This new family plan will launch in the UK within the next two weeks.

HBO to come to you direct?

October 16th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Game of Thrones Season 4 Second Trailer 570x293 300x154 HBO to come to you direct?HBO, peddlars of fare such as that Game of Thrones, are to launch a streaming service in the US.

Thus providing fans of the slightly OTT dwarf-based romp with an alternative to subscribing to expensive cable packages.

The broadcaster’s CEO, Richard Plepler, on Wednesday said the move would remove all the barriers to those who want HBO, in a move which may cut down on piracy by providing consumers inexpensive access to the content.

That’s currently about the dimensions of the announcement at the moment, but it’s unlikely to win HBO many chums in the cable world.

James McQuivey, an analyst at tech-research firm Forrester, told The Drum that HBO’s announcement will put the fear into US satellite TV providers said: “Their worst fear has come true: HBO has announced it will give customers direct, over-the-top access to its hit TV shows without requiring a cable or satellite subscription.”

“This move was inevitable from the moment that people started streaming TV shows online as HBO has some of the most prized content on the TV screen and it appeals strongly to the young, affluent, educated demographic that is most likely to cut the cable cord in the next five to ten years.

“While Pay TV operators are certainly furious today, other cable programmers like Viacom and A&E are thrilled that HBO is shining a light down a path they may all have to contemplate in the future.”

McQuivey added: “None of them will have as easy a time as will HBO, but they all know they need an escape hatch for that moment when the current, bundled TV model begins to collapse.”

If all goes well, it’s likely that HBO will fancy doing something similar in the UK.

The whole landscape of TV and programming is morphing before our eyes. All we can do is watch. Man.

Argos go all-out in fancy new advert

October 14th, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

Anyone thinking that by binning the aliens, Argos had given up on that old advertising lark.

Oh no.

The company have thrown £10 million on its biggest campaign yet.

Quite good, yes?

Argos have been gradually transforming their in-store and online offering as part of a £300 million investment including the introduction of Fast Track collection, free reservation online, and a click and collect partnership with eBay.

Speaking to The Drum, marketing director Stephen Vowles said: “Now it’s time to time to get people to think about Argos differently and get customers and non-customers to sit up and take notice,”

“Argos is unique and we don’t want to just be a slightly different version of a high street retailer or a slightly different version of a pure play online retailer. We want to assert our own uniqueness and re-establish ourselves as a unique category of one player.”

The new ad shows a load of break-dancers, skateboarders and general active types freaking out to the toe-tappin’ ‘How You Like Me Now?’ by The Heavy.

Vowles explained: “There’s a lot of advertising out there that makes people go ‘Ahhh, isn’t that sweet. That’s not really who Argos is. We’re about excitement, action and that’s what we wanted to capture – a real sense of dynamism, drama, speed and action.”

The ad uses the strapline ‘Get Set Go Argos’ to reinforce the message, and will run out to its 730(!) stores.

NFL in the UK: Banning your bags

October 10th, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Large stadium events are always a bit of a faff, be it the limited amount of beer thanks to some watery lager sponsor, or be it it something to do with only being able to pay for things on certain credit cards.

Everyone knows the drill by now.

However, with the NFL coming to the UK, they’ve pulled a fast one that is almost impressive in its pointlessness. Basically, you can’t take any bag at all into Wembley stadium. Look at this exhaustive list of prohibited bags, which of course, are banned ‘for your safety’, even if you’ve been to big stadium shindigs before and managed to avoid a backpack maiming.

20141010 083454 e1412929164544 281x500 NFL in the UK: Banning your bags

 

If you have a bag for your medicine and whatever, that’s fine, but as the warning leaflet says: “entry will be permitted, however you may experience a delay in entering the stadium.”

So what is fine then? What is permitted? Why, NFL approved bags you can buy outside the ground, which of course, are considerably safer than your average bag.

20141010 083515 e1412929499224 281x500 NFL in the UK: Banning your bags

Of course, a huge sporting franchise taking the Michael at a enormodome is along the lines of “is the Pope Catholic?”, but this is next level ridiculousness.

If you want to watch an informative video and, if you’re going to any of the games and want to know the exact dimensions of purses that women are allowed to take, click here for the NFL’s official take on the whole thing.

EE to launch TV service

October 8th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

tv 300x266 EE to launch TV serviceEE have launched EE TV, their own television service, which they reckon will be available on all your devices and Freeview and the like.

Handily, you can view difference programmes on different devices at the same time and the service comes free for those with an EE broadband and landline package. If you’re thinking of moving to EE just for their telly service, then prices start at £9.95 a month.

Olaf Swantee, EE’s CEO, reckons EE TV is ‘the most advanced TV service’ we’ve ever had in dear old Blighty.

“As the UK’s biggest and fastest network, with more than 25 million customers, we have unrivalled insight into people’s changing viewing habits,” explains Swantee. ”It’s helped us create a service that has mobile at its heart, and makes the TV experience more personal than ever before.”

Basically, you get a smart box that offers multiscreen, multirecord and a dedicated app for you devices which doubles up as a remote control. It’ll have 70 Freeview channels that come with it and a load of other videos and on-demand stuff bolted on.

EE say that this smart box is worth £300, but it is yours for free if you sign up to an EE package. If you want to know more, then watch this advert below.

Sadly, Kevin Bacon is involved.

How To… get the most out of your PS4

October 7th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

how to expert 300x300 How To... get the most out of your PS4So, you’ve got yourself a PlayStation 4 and have worried an ass-groove into the sofa while hammering buttons through hours of Killzone and the like?

While you’ve been going nutso in your favourite games, there’s a chance that you may not have delved into the useful features inside your PS4 yet. If you have, well done you. If not, don’t worry, we’ve cherry picked some of the best things for you to muck around with.

The PS4 has a load of cool features and here are some of our favourites. If you have your own that we’ve missed, leave a comment and we’ll add them to the list!

Quick Switch Between Apps

If you need to switch between apps quickly – so, say you’re playing a game and you want to go look up some cheats for it – instead of messing around with your phone, you can swap between apps by double tapping the PS Home button. That means you can get from a game to the browser without any faff.

Voice Commands

A lot of people find the Xbox One’s voice control thing a bit creepy, but if you’ve been wanting it for your PS4, you can! You’ll need a PlayStation 4 Camera and, with it installed, go to Settings, then Login Settings and select Enable Face Recognition. Then, you’ll go to Face Recognition Management and complete the set-up. You can also use the camera’s microphones to issue voice commands so you can speak your way through the menus and the like. For that, hit Settings, System and select the Operate PS4 With Voice option. For voice commands you can do that without the camera – you’d just need any microphone connected to your console.

Save Money And Power

Want to save how much power your PS4 is using? Go into the console’s settings menu and find ‘Power Save Settings’ where you can set your PS4 to shut down after periods of inactivity. Great if you’re the kind of person who would fall asleep while playing games, meaning that the thing isn’t left on all night.

Standby Mode Tips

This is well known, but worth mentioning for you console newbies. In standby mode, you can enable auto downloads and uploads which means you don’t have to put up with tedious timebars. Go to Settings, System, Automatic Downloads and Uploads and then access Settings, Power Save Settings and Set Functions Available in Standby Mode. Now, when you turn your PS4 on to play games, you won’t have to wait for a load of updates or whatever, as it will have already done them.

You can also charge your controller in standby mode, which is great seeing as the new Dualshock 4 has a pretty crappy battery life. To switch this on, go to Settings, Power Save Settings, Set Functions Available in Standby Mode and tick the box for Supply Power from USB Ports.

Add Voiceover

Are you the kind of person who likes to make walkthrough videos or what have you? Well, as well as the fact that the PS4 continually records your previous 15 minutes of gaming automatically (which is great), you can also enable microphone audio recording through the Share menu. Go into the options, hit ‘Share Settings’ and ‘Video Clip Settings’ and you’ll see the option for ‘Include Microphone Audio in Video Clip’.

Save Hard Drive Space

You can upload system data to online storage or a USB drive, which is nifty. Go to Settings then Application Saved Data Management and you’ll find a straightforward menu for uploading and downloading data.

Quicker Screenshots

Want to take a screenshot of your game? Well, you have to press and hold the share button for a few seconds normally, but there’s a tweak you can do to streamline the whole process. You can change your setting so that a brief tap of the share button creates a screengrab and holding it down loads up the share app. To do this, open the share menu, hit ‘Options’ and go to ‘Share Settings’. From here, choose the ‘SHARE Button Control Type’ and go through your options. If you like showing off your gameplay, this will save you loads of time.

Audio

If you plug a pair of regular headphones into your DualShock controller and adjust the settings on your PS4 after holding down the PS button, you can listen to the game without having to mess around plugging your ‘phones into the telly or having to much about with wireless audio.

Apple CarPlay now with Spotify

October 3rd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Apple’s CarPlay system now come supported by Spotify and Pioneer.

Grooving drivers can now use the iOS edition with the in car entertainment solutions system. While Spotify were mentioned as being part of it when the CarPlay was launched, it is just now that everyone’s finally ironed their crap out.

Apple CarPlay 500x269 Apple CarPlay now with Spotify

CarPlay allows drivers to make calls, consult Maps, listen to music and access messages and it probably massages your buttocks if you ask it nicely. They can do all this with using the voice control button on the steering wheel to activate Siri or using the car’s native interface.

CarPlay is going to be part of Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo motors, with more to come, as it seems like all of them will give in eventually.

The future, eh?

Burning CDs: NOW LEGAL

October 2nd, 2014 5 Comments By Ian Wade

flaming cd hand Burning CDs: NOW LEGALYou may have missed the street parties, but as of this week it’s actually legal to burn CDs.

Copyright law in the UK decided to get around to it, and allow what people have been doing for yonks! You can now back up your media for personal use and The Man won’t send you to the chair!

This action, which hasn’t dragged its feet AT ALL, happily coincides with nobody doing it anymore and your average shop cutting down on selling blank CDRs.

Earlier this year, UK Intellectual Property Office published a consumer guide on exceptions to copyright, indicating that by the summer, private back-ups would be allowed.

“The changes will mean that you will be able to copy a book or film you have purchased for one device onto another without infringing copyright.”

Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, the UK’s IP Minister, said: ”These changes are going to bring our IP laws into the 21st century. They will mean that the UK IP regime will now be responsive to the modern business environment and more flexible for consumers.”

And also, you can store your copied material in the cloud too.

The guidance reads: “You are permitted to make personal copies to any device that you own, or a personal online storage medium, such as a private cloud. However, it is unlawful to give other people access to the copies you have made, including, for example, by allowing a friend to access your personal cloud storage.”

So that will be interesting.

But anyway, those CDs you burnt over the last 15 years are now not bad or naughty, but, really, the creative industries should have done something about this years ago.

Deathwatch: Blinkbox

October 1st, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

blinkbox 300x174 Deathwatch: BlinkboxTesco are doing so badly at the moment, that it really is very difficult to stifle everyone’s laughter… and the whole thing is getting worse.

The struggling supermarket is apparently putting everything in place so they can sell or shut down their Blinkbox service.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We wouldn’t comment on internal meetings.”

Of course, running a TV service is an expensive thing to do, so it makes a lot of sense for Tesco to want to ditch it as soon as possible, especially when they thought they had £250m more than they actually had.

That black hole of money is being investigated by Tesco themselves as well as by the Financial Conduct Authority. Thanks to all this, Tesco’s share value is dropping quicker than rugby team’s jock straps on a night out.

It seems that Tesco aren’t capable when it comes to taking on the mighty Amazon, BSkyB and Netflix. Then again, not many are. That said, earlier in the year, Tesco saw Blinkbox expanding into a music streaming service after they acquired Bloom.fm.

Not only was Blinkbox expensive, but it wasn’t particularly popular with consumers either, behind in popularity to Now TV and the rest. Blinkbox’s most recent accounts show that it lost £18.5m last year.

It wouldn’t make much sense for anyone to try and buy the ailing firm, so it looks like we’ve got a corpse on our hands.

 

Anti-deathwatch: HMV

September 30th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

hmv 300x168 Anti deathwatch: HMVHMV’s rebirth from the jaws of the dumper has been a success!

The entertainment solutions retailer originally filed for administration in January 2013.

But now, they’ve recorded operating profits of almost £17 million in the 11 months after it was rescued by restructuring firm Hilco in 2013.

According to reports set to be filed at Companies House, HMV posted operating profit of £16.7m on sales of £311.2m between January 29 and December 28 2013.

All of the chain – or those that are left – are back in profit, thanks to some wheeler-dealing as regards their debts and overheads, and negotiations with suppliers.

HMV paid out £10m in intercompany charges and £4m in on-off restructuring costs. It also paid £2.3m in interest on loans and working capital provided by Hilco.

After one-off costs, the retailer posted a pre-tax loss of £4.8m.

So that’s good news then.

Smirnoff want to go dancing with you and Spotify

September 26th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Smirnoff are having a bit of a revamp.

The vodka brand that was famously boycotted by some gays for a bit, have unveiled a new £15 million advertising campaign, and are now close to finalising a deal with Spotify in Europe.

The deal with the online streamer is to ‘deepen the brand’s connection to dance music’. Which is one way of saying ‘loads of clubbers like to cane vodka’.

The company originally piloted the tie-up with Spotify in the US, when it introduced its ‘Exclusively for Everybody’ brand messaging.

The new advert follows the theme of filtering, with the dismissal of ‘pretentious nights out’ with the line “Filter the unnecessary. Keep the good stuff”.

The Spotify/ Smirnoff tie-up will see the vodka curating an ad-free playlist of bangers, based on the artists they listen to, and it is hoped that it will be a rewarding engagement all round.

The vodka also worked with DJ duo Psychemagik on the track which features in the new advert and is now planning to release it as a single via Spotify, SoundCloud and their own platforms.

Urban Outfitters sell most vinyl

September 26th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

FKA twigs   LP1 Urban Outfitters sell most vinylUrban Outfitters – for many years now, it’s been the shop that one wanders about feeling elderly and square, and now, they reckon they’re the world’s biggest seller of vinyl records.

Yep, the shop that reimagines bumbags and anything else that was wretched from the past, and even more wretched now, has become the leader in flogging records.

Vinyl sales have continued with a total of 6.1 million albums sold in the United States in 2013 – the highest number since 1991 – and the figures for this year are set to be even higher.

“Music is very, very important to the Urban customer… in fact, we are the world’s number one vinyl seller” said Calvin Hollinger, the company’s chief administrative officer.

Now, let’s approach this sensibly and explain why this is so.

Urban Outfitters have over 400 branches worldwide, and even if the range is very hipster-based – like most fashion stores, their new vinyl selection is more curated than that of an HMV – they know their market. The average shopper isn’t going in there to source a Moody Blues long player, they’re all up for more now sounds from the likes of voguish hitmaker FKA Twigs (who we have used as an illustration).

Also, they have an innovative inventory model wherein they essentially rent out their record shelves to over 100 different vendors. The retailer provides stores with an online list of inventory which they can then stock on consignment.

Urban Outfitters is the most 00ze shopping experience imaginable, navigating through the Napster, MySpace, Facebook and Spotify eras and managing to keep its head above the water throughout.

There’s also the fact that 90% of its customers probably never experienced vinyl growing up, and are now probably thinking it’s quite the thing. Mind you, you could probably flog them 8-track cartridges if you go down that route of thinking, the goons.

Sony to launch internet telly

September 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

6 sony logo w Sony to launch internet tellySony Computer Entertainment are looking to launch their internet TV service in the US before the year is out.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, CEO Andrew House said that the firm is currently in talks with various content partners to provide, um, content for the platform.

So far, it sounds like Viacom are a ‘yes’, which will trojan horse in the likes of MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount, Comedy Central, VH1 and Spike.

Sony are also rumoured to have chatting with Disney, Time Warner and Showtime like brazen hussies.

Sony have said that the internet TV service is expected to be compatible with hardware such as the PlayStation 4, Vita, Sony Bravia TVs and the Xperia.

House reckons that “A streaming-based approach needs to have a very wide funnel of devices, and that inherently means a broad and manufacturer-agnostic approach.”

Which, in English, suggests that they’d want it accessible for all their range. No news on a UK date yet, but we’re all adults here.

Microsoft buys up Minecraft

September 16th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Microsoft have been shopping and have bought Mojang, who own Minecraft. The computery GIANT has shelled out $2.5 billion (£1.5 billion) for it too.

minecraft gratis 500x227 Microsoft buys up Minecraft

The Swedish-based company Mojang’s popular Minecraft has sold over 54 million copies, and lets players build structures in their own little world, but can connect up with other users and have battles and the like.

Mojang’s three founders will leave the company – possibly to build a house made out of gold – but have assured fans that “everything is going to be OK”.

It is hoped that now owning Minecraft will be enough to woo anyone who is on the fence about owning one of Microsoft’s Windows Phones, but the company have assured gamers that Minecraft will still be on all the other platforms.

Minecraft is one of the top-selling apps on both Apple’s iOS store and and Android’s Google Play, and has recently been released for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It was the third most popular console game last month, too, according to market research firm NPD Group.

Mojang, who’ve been knocking around since 2009, made over $100 million in profit in 2013, and has a staff of 40. Microsoft said the Mojang team would join its game studio, which is responsible for titles such as Halo, Forza and Fable.

Microsoft chief executive, Satya Nadella, said: “Minecraft is more than a great game franchise – it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft.”