Posts with «music» label

YouTube Shorts now lets you chop up and remix music videos

YouTube just released a new feature that lets users remix music videos and turn them into Shorts. This allows you to adjust various parameters from a full-length music video to create something wholly unique. Does this sound like TikTok? It definitely sounds like TikTok.

Here’s how it works. Just tap “remix” on a music video. You’ll be presented with four options: Sound, Green Screen, Cut and Collab. You can only pick one, so choose wisely. The Sound tool does what you think. It strips the audio and lets you use it in your own YouTube Short. This is the kind of thing that’s hugely popular on TikTok, with many users lip-syncing to various audio clips. This Sound tool is available to any music video and most songs that were automatically uploaded to the platform.  

Green Screen takes things a step further. It turns the video into a background, which you can then dance in front of or whatever. The Cut tool just clips out a five second portion of the video that you can add to any Short. Finally, Collab creates a side-by-side video that places your Short next to the original content. YouTube says this is the perfect option when “you and your friends” want to show off choreography alongside the original artist.

The feature’s already available on the mobile app, though it may not have rolled out to every user yet. If you want to check, just open the app, click on a music video and look for that “remix” option. It’s worth noting that many of these features were already available to Shorts creators, but not in one handy tab.

YouTube/Lawrence Bonk

YouTube Shorts was already a TikTok-alike when it released back in 2021, but these features make it even more, uh, TikTok-ier. With that in mind, YouTube picked the perfect time to officially launch the toolset. Universal Music has pulled its roster from TikTok after a breakdown in financial negotiations. UMG artists include Taylor Swift, Drake, Billie Eilish and many more. 

This has forced TikTok creators to swap out music tracks, as anything sourced from Universal is automatically muted. The record label has accused TikTok of wanting to pay a “fraction” of rates offered by other social media sites. YouTube’s Remix tool has access to Universal’s entire roster.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Universal Music threatens to pull songs from TikTok over payment terms

Universal Music Group (UMG) is threatening to pull all of its music from TikTok today following a breakdown in negotiations over royalties, the company wrote in an open letter. That would mean TikTok creators would lose access to songs from stars including Taylor Swift, Billy Eilish, The Weeknd, Drake and others. 

With UMG's deal with TikTok set to expire, the sides have reportedly been in negotiations for the past year. Such deals are worth billions annually to music publishing firms and are typically negotiated every few years. Universal is the world's largest record label, and if does pull it's music from TikTok, it would be the first time this has happened in recent memory.

Universal said TikTok wanted to pay a "fraction" of the rate paid by other social media sites. "As our negotiations continued, TikTok attempted to bully us into accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value and not reflective of their exponential growth." 

In its own post, TikTok said that it serves as a valuable marketing tool for artists and publishers. "Despite Universal's false narrative and rhetoric, the fact is they have chosen to walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent."

TikTok also benefits greatly from access to Universal's catalog and being cut off from access to ultra-popular artists like Taylor Swift would be a blow to creators and users. TikTok's Chinese parent ByteDance has more than 3 billion monthly active users and made $29 billion in revenue in a single quarter ending June 2023, according to The Financial Times. Warner Bros. Music, the number three record label behind Sony Music and UMG, recently struck a deal with TikTok. 

Universal said it does "not underestimate what this will mean for artists and their fans" but that it will not shirk its responsibilities. "TikTok’s tactics are obvious: use its platform power to hurt vulnerable artists and try to intimidate us into conceding to a bad deal that undervalues music and shortchanges artists and songwriters as well as their fans." The company added that payments from TikTok amount to "only about 1 percent of our total revenue."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Rock Band 4’s next weekly DLC drop will be its last

Rock Band 4’s weekly DLC drops are coming to an end. Harmonix said Wednesday the upcoming batch of new songs on January 25 will be the game’s last. Although all other live services will remain active, the developer plans to give full attention to the Rock Band-like Fortnite Festival, a rhythm game inside Epic’s digital world.

Product manager Daniel Sussman waxed nostalgic about Rock Band 4’s impressive eight-year run of new song drops each week. “Taking a longer look back, I see the Rock Band DLC catalog as a huge achievement in persistence and commitment — over the years we’ve cleared, authored and released nearly 3,000 songs as DLC and well over 3,000 if you include all the game soundtracks,” he wrote in an announcement blog post. “That’s wild.”

Sussman says Harmonix is committed to protecting its licensing, promising that purchased content will remain available. He adds that all the game’s other live services, including Rivals and online play, will continue as usual. There just won’t be any more new music for the rhythm game, which arrived in 2015 with 65 tracks.

The Rock Band-like Fortnite Festival
Epic Games

Fortnite Festival, launched in December, is a rock god stage in the popular battle royale title. It has the advantage of being free: You don’t have to pay a couple of bucks to fulfill your dreams of jamming out to “Seven Nation Army,” The Cranberries’ “Zombie” or Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison.”

Rock Band 4 instrument support is on its way to Epic’s virtual stage. “If you are a fan of the rhythm game category, Fortnite Festival is the place to be; and with support for RB4 instruments coming, this is not the time to hang up your guitars just yet…”

Harmonix is tight-lipped about its final tracks, but it promises thematic relevance. “We deliberated long and hard about how to frame the last blast of RB DLC of this era,” Sussman explained. “The last two weeks will feature some tear jerkers that sum up our feelings about this moment. We thank you for your commitment to and passion for this wonderful game.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

I'm ashamed how much I love Mercedes-AMG and's attempt to turn cars into DJs

If you’ve ever wanted to turn your car into a DJ, with the sound controlled by how you drive, then you need to buy a Benz, stat. Mercedes-AMG and have turned up at CES 2024 in Las Vegas with what they’re calling MBUX SOUND DRIVE (all caps, as if to be bellowed). Sadly, it’s hard to talk about what it is and what it does without robbing it of its mystery, so apologies in advance: It’s essentially a system that pulls data from the car’s suite of sensors, which then helps control a specially-deconstructed music file. But, as joyless as that description sounds, once you’ve experienced it, you’ll wonder why it hasn’t been done before. Not to mention that, at the risk of gushing, it really does deepen the emotional connection between driving and the music you’re listening to.

The announcement came as part of Mercedes’ CES push, which this year is focused on the power of its audio setup. Alongside the announcement of MBUX SOUND DRIVE, it’s boasting of a new partnership with Amazon Music and Audible. That’ll see Dolby Atmos versions of its exclusive audio dramas, podcasts and books come to compatible vehicles. (The highlight of the event was when legendary British audio producer Dirk Maggs took to the stage, the figure responsible for the latter radio versions of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.)

MBUX SOUND DRIVE works by pairing musical elements in a song with ten inputs taken from the car. Start the car and all you get is the track’s bed, so to speak, looping in the background waiting for you to get moving. Push on the accelerator at low speeds and it’ll add some bass reverb to the song, while turning the steering wheel gets you extra effects or the chorus loop kicking in. It’s only when you open the car up on a clear highway and the main music and lyrics will start blasting, rewarding you for moving along. And then, when you’re coasting toward a stop light, the lead vocal and melody will peel away, returning you to the far less intrusive backing track.

If nothing else, it’s a spectacular piece of hardware and software development, given the fact even the fanciest in-car platform wasn’t designed to do this. It’s worth pointing out the extent of the achievement that’s enabled something like this to happen on an existing system. And there are plans to extend it further so, for instance, if the windshield wipers detect rain, the music will change to reflect the mood.

The demo I experienced had 16 tracks pre-loaded, including The Black Eyed Peas’ I Got A Feeling and Le French’s Night Drive. These songs have all been broken down and rebuilt to take advantage of MBUX SOUND DRIVE’s separated format. When you’re just cruising around a Las Vegas parking lot, it’s all pretty restrained, even if you do put some heavy reverb on while you’re parked. In fact, the whole experience at slow speeds could almost be described as teasing, offering you hints of the song you know and love, but never giving you the whole thing.

It’s only when you (or in this case, your qualified driver) puts their foot down and you suddenly start screaming down the road that the whole song kicks in. Even a song like I Got A Feeling, hardly the most bombastic, suddenly feels epic in this format. The closest thing I can compare it to is those moments in Grand Theft Auto when you’re opening it up on the highway and a great track kicks in. Of course, the best example of that would be cruising down the road while David Bowie’s Somebody Up There Likes Me plays. But, despite’s promises that when the system arrives halfway through 2024 all genres will be well-represented, I’m not so sure. After all, it’s clear that tracks primarily based on discrete loops are going to be the easiest to translate and the most well-suited to the environment.

In terms of the future, shared his hopes that tracks could be hard-coded to reflect a geography. He used the example of a car going through a tunnel, which would prompt a gas car driver to put their foot down to fill the space with engine noise. But in our electric future, where there is no engine noise, users will instead have to content themselves with the jolt from their favourite song. He added that he also dreams of building in easter eggs for songs, which would only start playing when the car reaches a specific location. On one hand, I’m curious how many musicians would take the time to remix their existing songs for the size of the addressable market. Which, in this case, is only Mercedes-Benz vehicles equipped with a second-generation MBUX system. Then again, money talks.

We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Microsoft Copilot can now make cute little songs on demand

Microsoft Copilot just rolled out a new feature that creates songs via text prompt, thanks to a partnership with AI-based music creation platform Suno. Microsoft says it gives users the ability to craft personalized songs, “regardless of musical background.” Suno has long been working with various algorithms to create an AI that can whip up entire songs and it looks like the company has struck gold.

Music creation now made easier with @Suno_ai_ integration in Copilot. 🎵 Learn more:

— Bing (@bing) December 19, 2023

When you access this tool, all you have to do is enter a prompt and let the algorithm do the rest. The end result should be “fun, clever and personalized” songs, complete with lyrics and singing voices. You can also make an instrumental tune, if that’s your bag. AI use has been ramping up in the music-making space, but most of those tools are intended to help musicians. This is primarily for non-musicians looking to make a tune for a birthday email or something.

To that end, Microsoft gives prompt examples like “create a pop song about adventures with your family” and “make a song that captures the spirit of growing up.” It looks like the Suno add-on will have access to any personal data accrued by Copilot during use, so these songs could, in theory, get pretty specific.

The feature begins rolling out today, but it’s a tiered release. In other words, it could be a few weeks before it reaches your update box. In the meantime, you’ll have to make do with the thousand other things that Copilot can do.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Apple will reportedly reward artists for offering music in spatial audio

Apple will reward record labels and artists who offer their music in spatial audio, a relatively new audio format that is more immersive than regular stereo. According to a Bloomberg report, artists who release their music in spatial audio will receive “added weighting” starting next year. That, Bloomberg speculates, could mean higher royalties.

Nearly all of Apple’s audio hardware such as AirPods, HomePod, the iPhone and the upcoming Vision Pro headset, support playback in spatial audio, so the company’s move to incentivize artists is almost certainly to ensure that most music available on Apple Music is available in a format that Apple has positioned as a selling point. Notably, Bloomberg notes that Apple Music listeners wouldn’t necessarily have to stream a song in spatial audio for artists to be rewarded. Simply having their music available in the format would be enough.

Apple added spatial audio, which is powered by technology from Dolby Atmos, to Apple Music in 2021. Most of the company’s original shows and movies on Apple TV+ are also offered in the format. Artists also have the option of mixing their older music in the new format, something that bands from all decades are already doing. Mixing music in the format isn’t wildly expensive, according to Bloomberg; if true, this push could help get independent musicians and smaller acts on board.

Some Apple Music competitors like Amazon Music and Tidal also offer spatial audio on their services. But Spotify, Apple’s biggest music stream rival, is a notable exception, even though rumors about a high-quality music format on the service have swirled for years.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Fortnite Festival tries to bring back the heyday of music gaming

Between Fortnite’s propensity for big-name concerts and Epic’s purchase of Harmonix two years ago, the inclusion of some kind of music-making feature in the game was inevitable. What Epic is releasing today is actually far grander: an entirely new mode called Fortnite Festival, a social space where players can team up to perform their favorite songs or jam together on new mixes.

There are two options, or stages, for users to play in the new mode. The main stage, or championship stage, is basically the Rock Band experience recreated inside Fortnite. You’ll form a band with friends and choose a song to perform. Then you play the song using the standard music game format where notes slide down vertical bars, hitting the correct button when the note reaches the bottom. Players can, of course, hear the song as they play it, which can be embarrassing if you’re not that good. Each performer earns points, which in turn leads to XP and character progression in the greater Fortnite ecosystem.

While the main stage may be old-hat to anyone present during the zenith of music games in the 2000s, the jam stage draws from Harmonix’s more recent (and less popular) mixing titles, Dropmix and Fuser. While both of those games had competitive modes, they were a lot more fun as music-making toys, where players could just throw different parts of popular songs together and see what comes out. Jamming in Fortnite Festival is pretty much that, but collaborative.

Epic Games

When you first drop into a jam, your avatar will be standing in a virtual world full of stages, clubs and green spaces. It has an amusement park-like feel, similar to Disney World’s long-gone Pleasure Island. Despite the world’s appearance, you don’t have to climb on stage to play music, you can start jamming wherever you want by pulling up the emote wheel. The actions here have been replaced with song options. Just pick a song and instrument, and your character will start playing. It’s not the entire song, but rather one particular piece of it. To assemble something more complete, you need to collaborate with other players.

Jamming with other players is incredibly easy. All you need to do is walk up to someone who’s already playing (helpfully indicated by a wavy circle) and activate your own emote wheel. The system will automatically mix the two songs together no matter the genre or style. You want to add the vocals from The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” to the synth from “Gangnam Style?” Go right ahead, and don’t be surprised when someone else drops in the beat from The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights.”

Instruments can be swapped out on the fly, and the key and tempo can also be tweaked to make a slow song fast or vice versa. There’s a lot of room for creativity here, as well as cacophony as the levels fill up.

While Fortnite Festival draws heavily on Dropmix and Fuser it has one key advantage over those two titles, one that could lead to success where its predecessors failed: it’s free. All three of the new Fortnite modes will be free, but Festival is a standout since it relies so heavily on licensed music. One huge barrier to entry for music games has always been the additional costs, especially the song packs. $2 for your favorite Nirvana or Bad Bunny tracks might not seem like much at first, but it adds up, and any online cost can be insurmountable to a kid without a credit card. The fact that this is a music game that anyone can download for free on their computer, console or mobile device without being bombarded with ads means it has the potential to make music games popular again.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Kiss’ final show ended with a performance by digital avatars made to immortalize the band

Kiss’ final live performance at Madison Square Garden in New York last night also turned out to be the first for the band’s successors — four digital avatars that will play on in the real members’ retirement from physical shows. Kiss concluded the last show of its “The End of the Road” tour by introducing the new virtual band, which then performed “God Gave Rock And Roll To You.”

The avatars weren’t just straight replicas of the current band members — Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer — but interpretations of them “as fantasy-based superheroes,” said Pophouse Entertainment, which partnered with George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic for their creation. And, it says that’s just “one of the many and varied ways in which Kiss will live on as digital performers through their avatars in the future.” Industrial Light & Magic also created the digital avatars of ABBA (or ABBAtars) for the ongoing ABBA Voyage show in London.

No specific plans for the virtual band have been announced just yet, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see similar Kiss experiences pop up in the near future. Gene Simmons, who founded Kiss alongside Paul Stanley, said the move will keep the band “forever young and forever iconic,” while Stanley called it a way to “see Kiss immortalized” and take the group “to a completely different level beyond being just a music band.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Robot Pianist Runs on Arduino Nano

The piano has been around for a long time now. Not long after its invention, humans started contemplating how they could avoid playing it by getting a machine to do the job instead. [vicenzobit] is the latest to take on this task, building a “Robot Pianista” that uses a simple mechanism to play a tune under electronic command (Spanish language, Google Translate link).

An Arduino Nano is the heart of the build, paired with a shield that lets it run a number of servo motors. The servos, one per key, are each assembled into a 3D-printed bracket with a cam-driven rod assembly. When the servo turns, the cam turns, and pushes down a rod that presses the piano key.

The build is limited in the sense that you can only play as many keys as you have servo channels, but nonetheless, it does the job. With eight servos, it’s able to play a decent rendition of Ode to Joy at a steady tempo, and that’s an excellent start.

We’ve featured some great mechanized instruments before, too. Video after the break.

Hack a Day 02 Dec 00:00

TikTok's new profile tools are just for musicians

TikTok has introduced the Artist Account, which offers up-and-coming musicians new ways to curate their profiles in ways that boost discoverability. The new suite of tools are not just meant for rising stars: established pop icons can also add an artist tag to their profiles, giving their music its own tab next to their videos, likes and reposted content.

To be eligible for an artist tag, TikTok says you will need at least four sounds or songs uploaded to the app. Artists can also pin one of their tunes so it appears first in the music tab. If a musician drops new content, the app will tag songs as ‘new’ for up to 14 days before and up to 30 days after it goes live. Any new tracks will automatically be added to a profile’s music tab.

TikTok says over 70,000 artists are already using the new tools. The app has proven to be a breeding ground for content to go viral for new artists and established music makers alike thanks to the lightning speed of dance and lifestyle video trends. TikTok’s impact on the music industry has been so massive that even streamers like Spotify have looked into experimenting with video-first music discovery feeds.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at