Posts Tagged ‘music’
CES is all about the technology of the future, but one area is looking backward, rather than forward, and that’s the humble record player. With vinyl sales on the up, record players are making a comeback.
Vinyl sales in the first half of 2015 were at their highest level since 1995, and now, Technics and Sony are getting in on the action, by announcing new record players at CES 2016.
A big name making a return is the Technics SL-1200 turntable. A legend in the DJing world, production of 1200s was stopped in 2010 by parent company Panasonic. However, in 2016, there’s a relaunch, with the Grand Class SL-1200G and 50th anniversary limited edition Grand Class SL-1200GAE .
Basically, they look like the old decks, but have a newly designed direct-drive motor, and Technics have got rid of the iron core from the previous motor of the 1200, and they say it is altogether better in a host of ways. And yes, they’ll be reassuringly heavy.
There’s only going to be 1,200 units sold worldwide, and there’s a strong chance that they’ll be ludicrously expensive.
Away from Technics, Sony have announced that they are going to be offering a new turntable called the PS-HX500. This isn’t a deck designed for DJs with big overdrafts, but rather, it is another record player that is all about converting your favourite records into audio files. Basically, it is a fancy USB turntable.
If you’re into that sort of thing, it is a belt-driven deck, and if you don’t have a stereo or some separates, this has a speaker built into it. It’ll be on sale in April and cost you somewhere in the region of £400. Not exactly cheap, but there you go – that’s having niche interests for you.
You thought Microsoft had quietly taken Zune out the back a killed it ages ago didn’t you? Well, not the case because they’ve just announced (to the 6 people that were using it) that they’re pulling the plug on their music service on November 15th. We’re setting up a helpline and will be holding a memorial in due time.
So, if you are using Zune, start saying your goodbyes, as Microsoft have said that you won’t be able to stream or download anything from it after that date, and, gallingly, anything you bought with DRM won’t play if the license can’t be renewed.
And people wonder why so many people illegally download music.
That said, your Zune device, and all the MP3s you have, will work as normal, so that’s something at least, eh? There’s more - Zune Music Pass subscribers will be migrated over to Microsoft ‘s new Groove service, which works with Windows 10, Xbox One, Android and iOS. Concerning the latter, we’d be very surprised if any Apple Fanboys are prepared to use a Microsoft music product on their devices.
If you’re on a monthly Zune pass, then your account will switch to a Groove Music Pass, which will cost you £8.99 per month, or £89 if you’re buying an annual pass.
Records are lovely things. It is nice that, when you buy some physical media, you get something big for your money. Of course, vinyl attracts dust and if you’re moving house with a load of records, you wished they’ve never been invented… but other than that, it is lovely to have records in the house.
Of course, vinyl got hammered by the introduction of cassettes and CDs. When everything got thrown into oblivion by MP3s, vinyl clung on in there and is currently in the middle of a small resurgence. While vinyl sales have been climbing, compact disc sales fell by 6.5% last year and legal downloads were down by 9%. Everyone’s streaming these days or off up the torrents.
So with that, surprisingly, vinyl is going to make an appearance on supermarket shelves for the first time in ages!
Tesco will be stocking the new Iron Maiden album, on LP, from Friday. While you’re in your local Tesco, you can see if they’ve got any Iron Maiden beer in and make a night of it, if that’s your thing.
Michael Mulligan, responsible for sourcing music for Tesco, said: “Parents are getting their old vinyl albums down from the loft and teenagers are discovering the joys of the 12 inch record for the first time.”
‘The Book Of Souls’ by Iron Maiden will be on sale in 55 of the largest Tescos and is on a whopping triple LP format and, thanks to the dewy nostalgia in us, we’re going to be very happy seeing a bunch of records in a high street supermarket again.
You may have thought that you were completely at your ease, to rip CDs and the like, but think again! That’s because a spectacularly pointless law has been brought back! That’s right, a challenge from those forward thinking people of the music industry, has seen the UK’s High Court overturning regulation that allows you to rip your own CDs (and DVDs) for personal use.
Even though most people take stuff straight from other places and load them straight onto their phones and other devices and haven’t really needed CDs for ages now.
Apparently, the government was wrong when they didn’t implement compensation for copyright holders when you put your albums on your hard-drive.
99.9% of people will be thinking; ‘Aye, good luck catching me in the act, you stupid berks’.
The industry, which is desperately out of touch in many cases, think this is a big win for themselves and artists. They have been saying that ‘format shifting’ has been robbing the upright citizens of the music business out of £58 million, every year. The idiots.
Anyway, you carry on living your life exactly as you please and ignore this thoroughly pointless ruling.
This is according to blabber mouth Sony Music CEO Doug Morris, so blorted the secret to guests at the Midem Music Industry Festival. He said, yesterday, that Apple’s announcement of the Beats-based service is “happening tomorrow”.
Of course, there’s no chat about prices or what features it’ll have, but Apple have a lot of money to throw around, so this should be of some concern to Spotify and Tidal. And of course, with so many people feeling some kind of brand-loyalty to Apple, there’s millions of people who might want to jump ship from another service, to theirs.
However, one thing that could make or break Apple’s music service, is whether or not it is open to everyone. One of Spotify’s successes is that it wasn’t restricted to one platform, meaning the Android users and Apple users could share playlists with one another. And artists won’t want to sign any exclusivity deals if it means they’re cutting out loads of listeners.
Imagine a band in the ’90s saying that their new album would only be playable through Sony stereos and no other – that’d be madness. Either way, Apple aren’t daft, so they’ll have something up their sleeves to get their fans excited – users of torrents, you can carry on ignoring absolutely everything relating to the above.
Spotify have clearly noticed that Jay Z’s Tidal is coming after it, and have decided to shake things up a bit. Of course, Tidal hasn’t exactly set the world alight (yet), but shows signs of what it can do when it streamed Beyonce and Nicki Minaj’s ‘Flawless’ video, sending social media into a mild hysteria.
With that, Spotify have announced that they’re expanding into video and original content themselves, going beyond simply streaming albums. With a number of artists showing allegiance to Jay Z, Spotify need to think of other ways of turning a profit.
Now, Spotify will support videos and offer news as well as other non-music content, with chief exec Daniel Ek keeping an eye on everyone’s mobile phone use: ”There is an incredible opportunity to soundtrack your entire day and your entire life in all of its complexity,” said Ek at some conference or other.
Ek says that Spotify have buddied up with a load of media companies, including some big US networks, the BBC, Vice and, most interestingly, the comedy network Adult Swim. They’ll be providing podcasts and other productions from their media pals, and they’re going to be providing their own material as well.
It seems to be working for Netflix, so why not Spotify?
If you’re one of those appalling people who likes to go for runs, then you’ll be interested in Spotify’s new function that will detect motion through your smartphone and select music based on the pace you’re running. Is there any music that is 23 bpm?
“We think that music is moving beyond just linear, one-way playback,” said Spotify’s chief product officer, Gustav Soderstrom. ”We’re going to take this approach to many more parts of your life very soon.” We assume they’re doing to do something relating to your activities in the bedroom, which matches the rhythm of your love-making. Do they make music that’s 7 bpm?
Along with an increased social element, this gives Spotify the opportunity to make more money from advertising and the like. Earlier this week, Spotify announced that they were teaming up with Starbucks, which will give staff the chance to choose tracks you hear at the coffee chain’s outlets.
So, for now, it is Spotify versus Tidal. All eyes on Apple’s updated streaming service, which should be coming soon.
According to The Verge, they’ve heard all manner of things from sources, and it is being suggested that Apple wants to throw around their power and influence to put an end to free streaming. ”All the way up to [Apple CEO] Tim Cook, these guys are cutthroat,” said one music industry mole.
If Apple get their way, Spotify will lose a huge chunk of their customers – 15 million currently pay for the service, of their 60 million customer base. Playing hardball, Apple will reportedly be offering their service for $7.99 per month, which is less than Spotify’s $9.99 fee.
But will the swathes of people who don’t own any Apple products – and indeed, those who object to the company as a whole on some principal (be it tribal or other) – want to sign up with them? It would be a risky move for the record companies, but then, they’ll go wherever the money is.
The sources said that Apple are also going after Google, saying that the iSalesmen offered to pay YouTube’s music licensing fee to Universal Music Group if they stopped allowing their songs on the video platform.
One hurdle is that the US Department of Justice have apparently already started interviews with music industry executives regarding Apple’s business practices. If the sources are right, the whole thing is a bit suspect, eh?
We’re sure to find out more when Apple launch Beats Music, which is widely thought to be on 8th June.
Grooveshark – the music app – is no more. When you visit the site, you’re met with a letter from ‘your friends at Grooveshark’, detailing why the service is being shut down.
As the letter points out, the team think they’ve made some “serious mistakes” by failing to “secure licenses from rights holders for the vast majority of music on the service”.
The music industry clearly went after Grooveshark, leaving them to make this grovelling apology and “as part of a settlement with the major record companies, we have agreed to cease operations immediately.”
The message was posted yesterday, and will be a blow for those who didn’t want to sign up for Spotify and the like. Still, it isn’t surprising that the lawyers of the music business won out over little Grooveshark. The company had been accused of illegally sharing almost 5,000 songs and if they’d been found guilty, that could have seen them slapped with a damages bill of £480m.
“This is an important victory for artists and the entire music industry,” said the Recording Industry Association of America in a statement.
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.
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.
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?
Are you one of those people who just can’t work out the lyrics to things and forever singing stupid stuff on night’s out, much to the amusement of your friends? Have you been singing “if I gotta love Eda, honey!” to ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’? Have you been thinking The Beatles were singing about taking a chicken for a ride?
Well, help is at hand as Spotify are adding a new thing into their desktop app in the shape of a button where you can get all the lyrics to your favourite songs!
This is because Spotify have now integrated the Musixmatch service, who reckon that they’re the world’s largest lyrics catalogue.
The feature will be extra handy to those of you who have heard a song on the radio or in a club, and can remember the refrain, but didn’t catch the song title as you’ll be able to search for songs with the lyrics. When you don’t have time or battery to whip Shazam out, this could be priceless. Although, Google’s search engine does exist too.
Nice that Spotify are doing something new with the desktop app, as they’ve been largely focused on getting people to use the mobile app mostly. And now, you’ll never have to sing the wrong words again!
Well, Google want to help you out.
They’re going to start publishing song lyrics online and they’ve hired some special staff to transcribe and catalogue songwords, so you can look for the lyrics of your favourite songs. Of course, there’s already sites that do this, but Google aren’t fussed about that and will bump Lyricsmania down the rankings in no time at all.
It will be a little different to normal search results. If you search for phrases like “Love Action lyrics” or “Cruel To Be Kind lyrics”, the song lyrics will appear at the top of the page, rather than appearing in the normal search results. The third-party sites will appear just below them. It’ll be interesting to see what Metro Lyrics and (Rap) Genius do next.
A Google spokesperson said: “There’s a feeling you get when you turn to a song and you know that the words have two meanings. Well it’s whispered that now if you go search the tune, maybe Google will lead you to reason. Ooh, it makes you wonder.”
An infuriating nod to the most dadrock of all songs, ‘Stairway to Heaven’, there.
Billboard reckon Google have been working on this for a while, saying: “They’ve done direct licensing deals with the major publishers to enable the service, and they’re doing it internally at the moment. The data isn’t crowd-sourced; there’s a team of people working to create the database.”
Of course, Google could well be welcoming a load of legal action with this, as various music publishers and record companies have thrown out take-down notices to a variety of sites for hosting unlicensed lyrics. However, it is one thing taking on a little website, it is quite another taking on a company that acts like it owns the internet.
Still, at least you’ll be able to work out the lyrics for ‘Louie Louie’ easier.
As well as letting you book and pay for a cab all through a mobile app, it looks like you’ll be able to act as in-car DJ as, according to a new report, the Uber app will soon let you play Spotify tunes through one of their car’s speakers.
That means you can put on your playlist that features both Barry Manilow and Ty Dolla Sign while someone drives you to the pub.
You’ll have to wait for Uber to update the Android and iOS apps to let you be the tune selecta in your cab, but it will be happening and TechCrunch have some screenshots of the new service. Drivers will need the relevant tech to make this work, so if you jump in an Uber cab and the driver is listening to 20 Greatest Roy Orbison Hits on an 8-track, you’ll have to plug your headphones in your phone if you want your own tunes.
That means drivers will have to update their Uber information to let customers know whether they’ve got an AUX input, just in case you’re the kind of person who demands control of the stereo and can’t be doing with Magic FM being played at full tilt.
Now, the screenshots shown don’t say which music company is behind the Uber music crossover, but all fingers are pointing and voices are muttering in the direction of Spotify. There’ll be a press conference later, which will confirm that it is Spotify.
Anyway, tops off. Taxi rides are about to go H.A.M.