Posts with «music» label

You can now buy Ticketmaster tickets on TikTok

TikTok has teamed up with Ticketmaster to help users discover events and buy tickets directly through the app. Creators such as music artists, comedians, sports teams and venues can search for relevant Ticketmaster events and link to them on their videos. The feature is only open to select creators at the outset, though more will gain access over time.

Demi Lovato, OneRepublic, Usher, the Backstreet Boys and WWE are among those who can use the feature at the jump. Event links will appear on the bottom left of the screen. Users can tap or click through to an in-app browser to buy a ticket.

Ticketmaster says the partnership with TikTok will help event organizers and creators reach more fans and potential ticket buyers. Along similar lines, Snapchat added a Ticketmaster Mini app in February to help users find events.

Earlier this week, it emerged that TikTok may be working on its own music streaming service. According to a trademark filing, the mooted TikTok Music service would allow folks to "purchase, play, share, download music, songs, albums, lyrics... live stream audio and video... edit and upload photographs as the cover of playlists... [and] comment on music, songs and albums."

TikTok might be working on a music service

TikTok has helped users discover both current and past musical artists, and now it might be starting its own music streaming service. Parent ByteDance has filed a trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for "TikTok Music," Insider has reported. The service would let users "purchase, play, share, download music, songs, albums, lyrics... live stream audio and video... edit and upload photographs as the cover of playlists.. [and] comment on music, songs and albums." 

ByteDance already has a music streaming app called Resso, but it's only available in India, Brazil and Indonesia. That app has some of the features mentioned in the trademark filing, like playlists, song-sharing and community interaction. On top of that, TikTok redirects users in Brazil to the full song on Resso, as Insider notes.

The trademark application was first submitted in Australia and then filed in the US on May 9th. It's not clear if it intends to base such a service on Resso, but it has to demonstrate that it will actually use the trademark before applying for it in the US — so it's not just a placeholder, according to Insider. The company also described said you could "live stream audio and video interactive media programming in the field of entertainment, fashion, sports, and current events," as other possible use cases. 

Snapchat will pay indie musicians up to $100,000 per month for popular songs

Snap has set up a new grant program to pay indie musicians behind popular songs on Snapchat. It created the Snapchat Sounds Creator Fund to "recognize emerging, independent artists for the critical role they play in driving video creations, inspiring internet trends and defining cultural moments," according to a blog post.

Starting in August, the fund will give artists who distribute music on Snapchat Sounds via DistroKid up to $100,000 in total each month. For now, the program is limited to 20 songs each month. The artists behind each of the songs Snapchat selects will receive $5,000. "We want to support the independent and emerging artists that are driving creation on Snapchat," said Snap's global head of music partnerships Ted Suh said. 

Artists need to be at least 18 years old to be eligible (or 16 if they have written consent from a parent or guardian). Snap says artists can't apply for a grant and it will decide recipients at its own discretion.

Snapchat started letting users attach music to snaps through the Sounds feature in October 2020. Creators have made more than 2.7 billion videos with music from Sounds and have accrued more than 183 billion views in total. The Snapchat Sounds Creator Fund seems like a reasonable way to reward musicians whose work has become a viral hit on the platform or helped creators to express themselves.

Apple Music counters Spotify with live sessions in spatial audio

Apple is no stranger to exclusive tunes, but now it's using them to more directly challenge its rivals. The company has launched an Apple Music Sessions series that, much like Spotify Sessions, revolves around live performances from big-name artists at in-house venues. Not surprisingly, Apple is wielding its technical clout to reel you in — every song is available in spatial audio, and videos of the performances are available if listening isn't enough.

The initial sessions cater to country fans, with Carrie Underwood and Tenille Townes playing favorites and covers in Apple's Nashville studio. Upcoming releases will feature the likes of Ingrid Andress and Ronnie Dunn. There will be releases for other genres, so don't worry if you prefer live music without a twang.

There's no mystery to the strategy here. As with Apple's other exclusives, ranging from early iTunes Originals through to recent spatial audio offerings, this is all about giving you a reason to either switch to the service or stay hooked. The company just isn't shy about its main competition this time — it's hoping to draw in some Spotify converts, or at least keep Apple Music fans from jumping ship.

A docuseries based on Spotify's RapCaviar playlist is coming to Hulu

Hulu has ordered a docuseries inspired by the influential hip-hop playlist RapCaviar from Spotify and Sony’s IPC studio, reportedThe Hollywood Reporter. RapCaviar Presents will feature the perspectives of artists like Tyler, the Creator, Jack Harlow, Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat and Saweetie. The show has no official release date yet, but is expected to debut on Hulu sometime later this year.

For those who are unfamiliar with RapCaviar, both the 14-million follower strong playlist and companion podcast are known for launching the careers of once unknown artists such as Migos, Lil Uzi Vert and Kyle. For emerging hip-hop artists, getting a track featured on RapCaviar can quickly result in millions of streams and draw the attention of record labels. The creator of the playlist is Tuma Basa, Spotify’s global head of hip hop programming, who hand-picks the music himself.

Filmmaker Karam Gill (Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine) will serve as executive producer and creative director of the docuseries. The co-EPs are Av Accius and Marcus A. Clarke. The showrunner is Steve Rivo, the writer of the Showtime film about the world’s longest-running music video, You’re Watching Video Music Box.

If the appetite for original programming about music is strong enough, we could possibly see even more documentaries and shows in other genres from Spotify in the future. There’s even a fictionalized series about Spotify in the works. The Playlist, a scripted series about the music streaming service's origin story, will debut on Netflix later this year.

How to survive the inevitable CD revival

In 1982, when the BBC’s prime-time technology show – Tomorrow’s Worlddid a segment on a new musical format called the “Compact Disc” the presenter skeptically asked "Whether there's a market for this, remains to be seen". We all know what happened next, but even in the early ‘80s the benefits of CDs should have been clear: high quality, non-degrading sound in a compact format. Oh, and you could even skip, shuffle and repeat tracks, which, in a pre-digital world, truly felt like the future

The Compact Disc turns 40 this year, and there are already signals the format is primed for a mini revival. For the first time in 17 years, CD sales actually went up - and by almost 50 percent, according to the RIAA’s sales database.

It’s still a long way from the format’s peak. In 2021, 46.6 million CDs were shipped in the US – compared to nearly a billion back in 2000. For context, that 46.6 million barely accounts for four percent of last year’s total music revenue. Vinyl albums, by contrast, sold fewer overall units (39.7M) but are more of a money spinner for artists (seven percent of total revenues).

Some reports claim that the uptick in CD sales is mostly due to mega-artists like Adele and BTS releasing new albums (the former’s 30 accounted for two percent of total CD sales alone). But there are other potential – and more practical – contributing factors, too, including the pandemic.

“CD sales are growing again now that retail stores are reopening and artists are back on tour. And while CDs haven’t yet seen the same type of revival as vinyl, the CD format remains a steady revenue stream for independent artists.” Rob Bach, COO of CD Baby told Engadget. They should know, as one of their services is the production and distribution of CDs for indie bands.

Kevin Breuner, SVP of Artist Engagement and Education for the company, thinks there’s an increasing appetite for CDs as memorabilia, rather than just as a way of playing music. “Part of it is that streaming hasn’t replaced anything at the merch table … the appeal of a physical item like a CD is that it’s a piece of memorabilia in a live setting, something you can have signed by artists. Similarly, for artists, there’s nothing that can replace when a fan goes back to the merch table to buy a CD or a t-shirt; it’s always been that way.”

There’s also the fact that what once seemed restrictive to younger listeners – having to own a song if you wanted to hear it – now presents a different way of enjoying music. A good album isn’t merely a collection of songs, but a structured experience to be enjoyed from start to finish. You can, of course, do this with streaming, but a CD requires getting up to change, Spotify is usually just a click away.

The CD format is experiencing a nice comeback, I'm sure they'll sound pretty sweet played via the new @MarantzOfficial CD 60 player #audiophile#avtweeps

— Arlen Schweiger (@ArlenSchweiger) May 23, 2022

CDs launched in Japan in October 1982. The format and hardware to play it on didn’t land in the US and Europe until the following year. Adoption was relatively swift and just two years later the first million-selling CD album - Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits – would cement the shiny disc's popularity. By the early ‘90s, assisted by increasingly smaller, affordable and even portable players, the CD was the de facto way to listen to music. And for good reason.

In this new digital world, the CD format was consistent in a way that analog never could be. What became known as the “Red Book” standard – two-channel 16-bit PCM at 44.1kHz – would be the prevailing specification from there on out. When someone used to say “it’s CD quality” one might assume that’s what they were referring to.

This standard is considered the minimum requirement to be called “lossless” by today's streaming services. Of course, how or what you record at 16-bit/44.1 is really what matters, but that’s a whole other story.

Jamal Saidi / reuters

More important than any of this, for the labels and artists at least, is that the arrival of the CD meant they could re-sell us our entire music collection in the new wonder format. The ‘90s were a good time to be in the music industry, at least until Sean and Shawn came along.

There were other benefits to this new digital medium, too. And not just the aforementioned ability to skip/program/shuffle tracks. With CDs, you could hide bonus tracks in new ways that would otherwise be visible on a vinyl record or instantly found by anyone that left a cassette tape running.

Even more exciting? Once PCs started being a more common feature in homes, artists and labels realized you could bundle in entirely different bonus media like videos and karaoke versions – as found on some versions of Americana by The Offspring, for example.

Before we show you some ways you can enjoy/rediscover the joys of compact discs, bear in mind the experience was far from flawless.

Despite being more durable than vinyl, it definitely is possible to scratch a CD. When a record has a scratch, it’s almost charming. With CDs, it’s more like walking slowly through hell as they dig up the streets. If your disc was damaged, it also might work in some players yet, frustratingly, not in others. Many an hour has been wasted cleaning and reseating a CD in the hope it would take.

Are CD’s the aesthetic now? 👀

— Mother of the House of Shaming (@mmkayrulz) May 26, 2022

Of course, many CD players took only one disc, so you’d frequently be swapping them out. If you knew someone who had every CD in the right jewel case, that was often a tell that this person doesn’t listen to their music enthusiastically or often enough (It’s possible they were just slightly organized, but where’s the fun in that). This “which disc is in which case” problem became even worse when someone decided CD singles – one song you wanted and some less good songs on one disc – were a good idea.

Not to mention the fragility of the cases they came in. Jewel case hinges would crack just by looking at them, while center hubs (the part that held the disc in place) would crumble no matter how well you handled things. Most often while moving house or the aforementioned enthusiastic listening with friends.

Unlike other formats, the CD is unique in that it played a part in its own demise. With the advent of CD burners, you could easily copy your friends’ album collection, print out album artwork and even print circular stickers with the CD art on them, too. This was how music was stolen for the short period when CD burners and blank discs were affordable and online piracy hadn’t taken hold. The CD was then effectively relegated to the role of external storage medium before quietly regressing into obscurity. Until now, of course.

With those small challenges in mind, if you’re ready and willing to give the humble Compact Disc another, uhm, spin, here are some recommendations, new and old, cheap and not-so, to dive into the world of the CD.

Where to find CDs

Maybe you already have a collection, if so, you’re good to go. But if you’re new around here, you’re going to want to grab a few albums to get you started. For current, mainstream music you’ll be able to find a selection at Target and Walmart. Jeff Bezos will of course also happily sell you a CD. Tower Records also recently returned as an online-only store which also has a good selection of CDs. For more of an indie-artist focus, there’s of course Bandcamp – or the good old-fashioned merch stall at a gig.

You can, of course, also navigate the secondhand market either locally (thrift stores, local record shops) or online at places like Discogs, eBay or even apps like Letgo.

What you may already own

Aaron Souppouris / Engadget

Maybe, you have a CD player unironically in your front room right now. We admire the dedication. Or perhaps you have an old one in storage somewhere? But if you’re young enough to have gone straight to streaming, it’s worth asking family and friends in case they have one gathering dust somewhere.

That said, you might even own a CD player without even knowing it. If you have an Xbox with a disc drive, congratulations, you’re already in the club. PlayStation fans, however, need either a PS1 (original), a PS2 or a PS3, as after that Sony decided the functionality for audio discs was no longer needed.

Cheap and easy

There was a brief period where the only CD player in the house might well have been in your PC. Primarily used for installing software or the drivers for a peripheral (yeah, we know, bad times) the CD-ROM drive was also good for playing music too.

Most PC cases these days aren’t really made with a CD-R drive in mind, and the last Mac to include a CD drive was the 2012 MacBook Pro. That model was discontinued in 2016, the same year Apple nixed the iPhone’s headphone jack - a rough year for many music listeners.

No worries, there’s a sort of dongle for that. You can pick up a USB CD-Drive for a little over the price of one album, such as this one for a reasonable $22. You’ll also get DVD and CD burning functionality thrown in, which surely will also be due their own revivals before long.

A new take on a classic

James Trew / Engadget

For many, the advent of the portable CD player was a long time coming. But the format wasn’t entirely suited to being in motion. Not initially at least, with even the slightest of movements causing a disc to skip. Over time this was resolved as players were able to buffer more music to ride out those bumps.

NINM Labs’ “Long Time No See” portable CD player (approx $117) blends the best of the past with modern conveniences like Bluetooth and USB power. The transparent design gives off early-aughts Game Boy vibes, while a clever speaker “lid” accessory means you’re never without a way to listen to those discs. That said, there’s of course the aforementioned Bluetooth for connecting to speakers and headphones and even a good old fashioned headphone port.

What’s more, you can run the player directly from USB power or AA batteries. You can even charge said batteries while it’s connected over USB. And the whole thing is magnetic, too, so you can get creative with where you place it.

Taking things to a (much) higher level

James Trew / Engadget

For the most authentic experience, it has to be HiFi separates. In the ‘90s a good HiFi was the quickest way to let someone know you were serious about music. No MegaBASS or often even an EQ for these dedicated listeners, just pure unadulterated sound. They may also be seen with magic pebbles or some CDs in the freezer.

Cambridge Audio has been around long enough to know what makes a great CD player. Its CXC “player” comes right in at $700. The CXC doesn’t even convert the CD to audio, it passes the digital signal directly to… something else, as long as it has either S/PDIF coaxial or TOSLINK in puts. You may as well complete the look with Cambridge Audio’s CXA61 amplifier ($1,100) with a DAC. It’s the perfect companion for the CXC both in terms of looks and connectivity. Of course, spending $1,800 on fancy HiFi gear doesn’t always mean you’re set. You still need some speakers, so you might as well toss in the SX60 bookshelf set for the fully-loaded CD setup.

Arduino Drum Platform Is Fast

Drums are an exciting instrument to learn to play, but often prohibitive if there are housemates or close neighbors involved. For that problem there are still electronic drums which can be played much more quietly, but then the problem becomes one of price. To solve at least part of that one, [Jeremy] turned to using an Arduino to build a drum module on his own, but he still had to solve yet a third problem: how to make the Arduino fast enough for the drums to sound natural.

Playing music in real life requires precise timing, so the choice of C++ as a language poses some problems as it’s not typically as fast as lower-level languages. It is much easier to work with though, and [Jeremy] explains this in great detail over a series of blog posts detailing his drum kit’s design. Some of the solutions to the software timing are made up for with the hardware on the specific Arduino he chose to use, including an even system, a speedy EEPROM, hardware timers, and an ADC that can sample at 150k samples per second.

With that being said, the hardware isn’t the only thing standing out on this build. [Jeremy] has released the source code on his GitHub page for those curious about the build, and is planning on releasing several more blog posts about the drum kit build in the near future as well. This isn’t the only path to electronic drums, though, as we’ve seen with this build which converts an analog drumset into a digital one.

Hack a Day 29 Jun 06:00

'Blade Runner' composer and electronic music pioneer Vangelis dies at 79

The music world just lost one of its more influential figures. Deadlinereports Vangelis, the composer behind the scores for Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire, has died in France at the age of 79. He broke ground in music by blending synthesizers with jazz, orchestral work and other styles normally seen at odds with each other. He helped the movie business break away from its dependence on classical or pop soundtracks, and joined artists like Brian Eno and Jean-Michel Jarre in defining both electronic music as a whole as well as sub-genres such as ambient and new-age.

Vangelis is synonymous with sci-fi thanks to his iconic Blade Runner soundtrack, but he was also a proponent of space exploration who produced multiple albums in tribute to major missions. He helped score Carl Sagan's 1980 Cosmos TV series, wrote Mythodea to celebrate NASA's Mars Odyssey mission in 2001 and produced a tribute to the Rosetta comet probe in 2016. His last full album, 2021's Juno to Jupiter, honored its namesake spacecraft right as it was shedding more light on the gas giant. He received NASA's Public Service Medal in 2003.

The musician was born in Greece in 1943 as Evangelos Odessey Papathanassiou. He started his music career in pop and soundtracks in the mid-1960s, but it was his 1970s forays into electronic music that helped develop his signature style. Cosmos, Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner cemented his reputation, while high-profile projects like 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Alexander drew further attention.

Vangelis leaves a strong legacy. On top of his role in Hollywood, you can hear his influence in electronic artists like Robert Rich and Steve Roach. Even modern performers outside of his core genre, such as Armin van Buuren and Run the Jewels' El-P, cite him as a hero. He'll be missed, but you may hear echoes of his sound for decades to come.

Apple Music will livestream concerts, starting with Harry Styles

Apple Music will start livestreaming some concerts from major artists this week as part of a new series. Apple Music Live kicks off with a Harry Styles show that subscribers in 167 countries will able to watch live and at no extra cost on May 20th. The company says Apple Music Live is a way to "give the biggest stars in music the biggest possible platform to flaunt how they connect with audiences and how their songs translate to live performance." 

The concert takes place at UBS Arena in Long Island, New York. It's effectively a record release party for Styles, whose third album, Harry's House, comes out on the same day. Apple Music's landing page for the event includes an interview with Styles about the making of the album, a link for users to pre-add Harry's House to their library and a bunch of playlists focused on the performer.

This seems like a smart way for artists to both promote new releases and give people a sense of what their live shows are like to perhaps sell some more tickets. It could also help Apple Music persuade fans of artists whose shows it streams to sign up for the service.

Introducing #AppleMusicLive, a new concert series with your favorite artists.@Harry_Styles kicks it all off live from New York on May 20, only on Apple Music.

— Apple Music (@AppleMusic) May 17, 2022

Styles' gig, titled "One Night Only in New York," will be available to stream at 9PM ET on Friday. So that folks in other parts of the world can catch the show at a more reasonable time, there will be encore streams on May 22nd at noon ET and May 26th at 5AM. That suggests the concert won't be available on demand after the fact. Engadget has asked Apple for clarification.

Several other platforms have streamed live shows to viewers. YouTube has broadcast performances from Coachella over the last several years. As it happens, Styles was one of the festival's headliners this year. Hulu just inked a deal to stream the Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits music festivals this year and next. Amazon Music has baked in artists' Twitch streams, while Amazon has streamed live shows on a ticketed basis and offered them to Prime Video subscribers afterward.

Apple has some experience in livestreaming concerts too. In 2007, it started running the iTunes Festival (later known as the Apple Music Festival) in the UK before expanding it to the US in 2014. Apple announced in 2017 that the festival had come to an end.

The iPod created the two-headed monster that finally killed it

The iPod's death has been a long time coming. Somehow, it's already been eight years since Apple discontinued the iconic iPod classic. Nonetheless, the news this week that Apple is discontinuing its last iPod, the touch is significant: This officially marks the official end of a product that set up the company for two decades of success.

A lot has been written about how the iPod changed Apple's fortunes, transforming the company from an influential but niche computer maker into one of the biggest companies in the world. Similarly, the iPod's effect on the music industry almost speaks for itself at this point. The device slowly but surely ended the reign of the CD and moved people to a world in which they could just buy a handful of songs from an album instead of paying $15 for the whole thing on a plastic disc.

That's probably why the death of the iPod brand doesn't feel all that notable, despite the fact that I was an iPod early adopter who quickly went all-in on Apple's ecosystem. It was inevitable that Apple would eventually stop selling the iPod touch, just as the end of the iPod classic in 2014 felt overdue.

That's probably because both the consumer technology and the music industries have long since moved on from the iPod. It's not hyperbolic to say that the iPod reversed both Apple's fortunes and the record industry’s — but we've since seen another seismic shift that made the iPod feel almost as quaint as the CD.

The iPod was responsible for several major changes in the way music is consumed. In the 2000s, CD sales began to fall as more and more people started buying music through digital storefronts like the iTunes Music Store. There, you could get an album for $10 or a single song for $1, a significant discount over CDs at the time. And while many people still purchased full albums, uncoupling songs from the record propelled custom mix CDs and playlists to the forefront of how people listened to music. The iPod and iTunes Store killed the romance (and burden) of a physical music library while giving listeners more freedom in how they bought and listened to music.

But in 2022, the music industry has undergone a second sea change. For many, the concept of owning music at all is obsolete. Spotify, Apple Music, and the like have fully moved us to a place where we pay for access — to a catalog of some 90 million songs — not ownership. The idea of the album is even less important now than it was during the iPod's peak, as the streaming services curated playlists for us, based on our listening histories and what's popular. Apple, Spotify, and their competitors are the de facto DJs now, guiding listeners to new music the way radio DJs did for decades.

A big part of Steve Jobs' pitch for the iTunes Store was that it was a response to piracy and a way for music creators to get paid. The thinking was that the store would offer a vastly improved experience over dealing with sketchy piracy apps so that people wouldn't mind paying a few bucks here and there to download songs, thus putting money back in artists' pockets.

In the streaming era, however, the debate over the fairness of music streaming payments to artists and songwriters rages on. While the iTunes Store was the first place Apple introduced its controversial 30 percent take, there’s been increasing furor in recent years over how Spotify carves up payments for artists into fractions of a cent per stream. Musicians have often made more money from touring and merchandise sales than album sales, and now that most people are streaming rather than buying music, that gulf has widened even more. (That’s without mentioning how much of a hit artists have taken on touring revenue since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.)

Just as the music industry has moved on since its iPod-fueled transformation in the 2000s, the consumer tech industry no longer resembles one in which the iPod was dominant. The iPod was conceived as a device that did one thing well: play back your music and podcast library. Sure, it picked up other features over the years (most notably displaying your photos and playing videos), but music was always its raison d’etre.

A number of other single-purpose devices flourished around the same time. Amazon introduced the first Kindle in 2007, digital cameras hit the mainstream in a big way throughout the decade and the Flip Video camera had a brief time in the spotlight, just to name a few. But the modern smartphone, which Apple itself ushered in with the iPhone, largely eliminated the need for a dedicated music player, not to mention most other purpose-built gadgets. We’re now 15 years into an era of convergence, where the smartphone is the most versatile and important device we carry.

It’s no coincidence that the last iPod Apple sold was the iPod touch, a device that is basically an iPhone without the phone. For years, it was a good option for kids or people who couldn’t afford an iPhone, but giving children a phone isn’t the taboo it once was, while monthly payment plans mean more people can afford them. It’s not clear who the iPod touch was for in 2022.

Apple may be pulling the plug on the iPod now, but the world moved on years ago. We’re past the point where those of us waxing nostalgic about the iPod can be considered youthful; if the rise of the iPad was a defining experience for you, you’re likely an elder millennial at best. I don’t say all this to downplay the iPod’s importance, though. On the contrary, looking back at how far we’ve come over the past 20 years reveals just how transformative the iPod was for music, and for tech.