Posts Tagged ‘music’

Don’t call it a comeback: vinyl is on the up

April 14th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

headphones 300x243 Dont call it a comeback: vinyl is on the upThere’s been a lot of talk about the comeback of vinyl, as people start spending money on things in record shops, all over again.

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.

vinyl chart 500x395 Dont call it a comeback: vinyl is on the up

 

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.

EU to look at premium streaming

April 2nd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet Apple Event on September 1st 300x237 EU to look at premium streamingThe European Union’s Competition Commission is getting up in the grills of music labels, questioning their relationship with premium subscription streaming services.

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.

Are you going to sign-up with Tidal?

March 31st, 2015 7 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Tidal Are you going to sign up with Tidal?By now, you will have heard that Jay Z and his famous friends are going to change music forever. How? By offering some expensive streaming to us plebs via Tidal.

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?

Singalong with Spotify!

February 26th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

spotify logo Singalong with Spotify!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!

Google to start publishing song lyrics

December 24th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

2Unlimited 300x261 Google to start publishing song lyricsEver found yourself struggling with the lyrics of ‘No Limits’ by 2 Unlimited? Are you that person who sings “sparing his life from his warm sausage tea” in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody?

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.

Uber cabs get Spotified up

November 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

spotify logo Uber cabs get Spotified upUber have been a pain in a load of taxi driver’s necks, but the taxi firm don’t look like they’re going anywhere so everyone is just going to have to get used to it.

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.

YouTube take on Spotify

November 13th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

spotify logo YouTube take on SpotifyBack in August, we told you about YouTube launching a music service, and now, it is here to take on Spotify who have been getting it in the neck from Taylor Swift this week.

The paid music subscription service is called YouTube Music Key, and it’ll be available for free if you can put up with some adverts. If you can’t, it’ll cost you. So far, so Spotify.

Google, who own YouTube, have renegotiated licensing deals with record labels, but no-one is saying how much everyone is getting. The bottom-line is that this service is going to cost you £7.99 a month (for a limited number of users) and then it’ll be made available to everyone for £9.99 per month.

Music Key – a rubbish name – is leaning heavily on the Spotify model, by allowing users to create playlists and save music to your device, as well as the obvious, like listening to albums and that.

However, this being YouTube, the added bonus here is that it’ll feature a whole load of music videos rather than just audio. Google/YouTube are hoping that artists will really go for this, as they can push harder with their product placement in promo vids. You’ll probably end up dreaming of Beats headphones if you sign-up.

So basically, if there’s a video for a song, you have to stream that as well as the song, but if there is no video, then you can download it as audio-only. Sounds like a bit of a faff eh?

Of course, Google already have their own music service in the Google Music app through Google Play, so with two on the go at once, you have to wonder if one of them (or both) will wither on the vine. Either way, last month we asked if you’d pay for an ad-free YouTube… looks like we’re about to find out.

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.

youtube 300x300 Googles musical YouTube service! Its here!Google’s long rumoured music service is upon us!

YouTube Music Key will feature over 20 million tunes and videos curated especially for the service.

It will offer a 30-day trial for free, and then a monthly subscription giving access to what they’re bugling as “high-quality tracks – complete albums, organised into artist discographies”, specifically for YouTube with both video and audio-only streaming and offline listening.

It’s likely that the service will link in with Google’s current Play Music All Access thing, which also costs £9.99 a month.

According to reports, the YouTube service will offer concert footage, covers and remixes in addition to the official discographies of artists.

Google will offer an enhanced version of YouTube’s existing recommendation engine based on user choice, making suggestions of what to listen to as users watch videos on YouTube.

The service is expected to be offered once they’ve cleared up all the business of licensing and rowing with smaller labels.

That will no doubt be exciting… but won’t stop people enjoying the fruits of the torrent tree.

Co op 292x300 Co op stores play unsigned bands... staff unhappyThe Co-op have decided to play music from unsigned bands in their shops in a bid to make everyone think they’re the lovely, kind supermarket on the High Street. They want to improve their image after all manner of drugs and sex-work was associated with them.

The Co-op signed a deal with licensing agency Emerge, which doles out music from unsigned bands and musicians to shops like Argos and Sports Direct. Crucially, deals with Emerge cost half a much as playing music by signed-artists.

“Shops normally have to pay a public performance licence to play well-known music, but the artists we represent are emerging artists and we create a direct licence between the business and the artist,” Gideon Chain of Emerge told The Telegraph.

“We then supply their music to the businesses, which is about 50 per cent cheaper than if they wanted to pay mainstream artists,” added Chain.

However, the supermarket’s employees are not happy about the unsigned bands being played in their stores and have started griping about it online, saying that they want rid of this ”terrible” music, which they have to endure all day. The Grocer reports that staff are demanding an immediate return to recognisable artists.

“The new cooperative radio unsigned artists initiative is absolutely diabolical,” one employee posted to The Co-Op Employees’ page. “More so for staff than customers. People want familiarity and songs they know, not to mention the staff who are subjected to these songs on a loop on a daily basis.”

Another angry employee spat that “even hipsters” would not listen to the “rubbish” music being played in their branch.

Dr Dre Net Worth1 300x300 Apple is finally going to buy Beats next weekThe news that Apple was buying Beats for $3.2bn broke a while ago, but after a few delays, the ubiquitous megacorp are due to put their hands in their pockets and actually buy it this week.

Maybe they were waiting for a cheque to clear?

Rumours that the deal had fallen through were rife, after the company announced the bid on May 8th, then went suspiciously silent. Actually, they’ve used this time wisely, by haggling the original price down to a nice round $3bn.

It could be that the drop in asking price was because Spotify, Beats Music’s main rival, has reached 10 million subscribers – and that could have given Apple a bit of leverage in the cash negotiations.

Anyway, it’s still a LOT OF MONEY, and there will be a big fanfare and announcement in time for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference next week. Beats founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre will apparently be in attendance, wearing outfits made of gold.

In fact, Dre will probably be extremely happy about the whole thing, seeing as he stands to gain $750m from the deal. No chance of anyone forgetting about him now, eh?

flaming cd hand Behind the times government to legalise ripping CDs and DVDsThe government, in an attempt to drag its ass into the digital age, have decided to finally legalise ripping CDs and DVDs onto an Mp3 player.

*tumbleweed*

In a move that seems to have been devised by Mr Burns from the Simpsons, the UK Intellectual Property Office is proposing to update copyright law to make it legal, even though everybody ditched CDs and DVDs ages ago.

The IPO announced the news by printing it out on striped green perforated paper and faxing it.

They said: The changes make small but important reforms to UK copyright law and aim to end the current situation where minor and reasonable acts of copying which benefit consumers, society and the economy are unlawful.’

(But apparently it’ll still be illegal to make copies of your CDs and DVDs for friends and family. Hahhahaha.)

The government will actually be debating this in the Houses of Parliament next month, and if it’s agreed, the law will be changed in June.

I wonder whether they’ve heard about these great new things called 78s? You can play them on the gramophone, so I hear.

Pono – a new way to rock in the free world

March 11th, 2014 3 Comments By Lucy Sweet

pono prototype Pono   a new way to rock in the free worldWatch out Apple, there’s a new digital music player out there that could rival the iPod. And guess who’s behind it? None other than that frisky whippersnapper, Neil Young.

Yes, Neil Young is developing a portable music player and download service which makes songs sound better. 68 YEAR OLD NEIL FREAKING YOUNG.

Called Pono, it’s a crowdfunded project that could potentially give the iPod a run for its money. Players will cost $399, and they’re very basic looking – shaped like colourful Toblerones.

But the thing about Pono downloads is that they’re bigger than usual, which means they won’t have that compressed, flattened quality. You will be able to hear the sound as the artist intended. The PonoPlayer can store from 100-500 albums, and there’s a memory stick for additional music.

Says Neil: ‘The simplest way to describe what we’ve accomplished is that we’ve liberated the music of the artist from the digital file and restored it to its original artistic quality – as it was in the studio. Hearing Pono for the first time is like that first blast of daylight when you leave a movie theatre on a sun-filled day.’

Now, remember, Neil has taken quite a few drugs in his time, but if this works as intended, it could potentially change how we listen to music.

So, if you’re sick of everything sounding neutered and flat in your ears, and long for the drama and depth of vinyl – get your wallet out and put in your pre-order on March 15th here.

Want to hear the final ‘shamones’ of Michael Jackson on his posthumous new album? Well, it’s going to take more than an iTunes voucher, I’m afraid. If you want to get your ears on the King of Pop’s farewell creation, you’ll have to spend £600. Why? Because you can only get it if you buy the new Sony Xperia Z2 smartphone.

michael jackson1 Michael Jackson’s final album – yours for just £600

Yes, it’s bad. It’s bad. You know it.

This fiendish move by Sony is bound to bring all the hardcore Michael Jackson fans running wildly towards the new Xperia – which is supposed to be a good piece of kit – but it’s not very fair for anyone else wanting to hear his final work without having to invest in a new and expensive smartphone.

Will there be a release of the album for people who don’t have £600 to drop on an exclusive albumphone bundle? Who knows. One thing’s for sure – MJ has enough crazy diehard fans out there to give the forthcoming Xperia Z2 a head start in sales.

What next in the depressing world of marketing? Will we have to buy a pair of Timberlands to get the next Justin Timberlake record? A royal yacht to hear Prince? What a bleedin’ rip off.

Location aware wifi set to ruin all gigs

March 3rd, 2014 2 Comments By Lucy Sweet

A UK-based start up called Mobbra is currently developing location aware wifi, called Massivity, which works using wifi connection points linked to an app called Fangage (which sounds a bit rude).
It’s designed to be used at gigs and festivals, and it could herald a new wave of mobile related annoyingness.
camerasandphones 300x268 Location aware wifi set to ruin all gigs

So let’s say you’re one of those bollockheads that likes to experience a gig by watching it through the small rectangular screen of your phone.

Massivity could help you find where the beer tent is, tell you the name of the song that’s playing, or – now there are no more cigarette lighters allowed at gigs – it could make the LED torch on your phone light up along with 3000 others during an ‘uplifting’ part of a Coldplay concert.

Do you wish you were dead yet?

In a test, Mobbra were able to make 1000 Samsung phones play the same video, light up and vibrate at the same time. But whether you want your phone to be controlled by Big Brother from a random wifi point and turned into a glorified glow stick is another matter.

But one thing’s for sure – it’s going to be really, really irritating – for musicians and everyone else.