Android

Android M To Embrace USB Type-C and MIDI 82

Posted by timothy
from the loving-arms-of-a-robot dept.
jones_supa writes: USB Type-C connection is showing up in more and more devices, and Google is rolling support for the interface in its Android M operating system. The most significant additions relate to the USB Power Delivery spec. Charging will now work in both directions. That effectively means that Type-C devices can be used as external batteries for other devices. Android M is also finally introducing a feature that musicmakers have been long asking for: MIDI support. This builds on some of the audio features Google introduced in Android 5, including reduction in latency, multichannel audio stream mixing, and support for USB microphones, amplifiers, speakers, and other accessories. As others have written, music and media creation apps are much more prevalent in iOS than they are in Android, and Google hopes turning that around.
Music

Ask Slashdot: Will Technology Disrupt the Song? 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the riker's-trombone-suggests-otherwise dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The music industry has gone through dramatic changes over the past thirty years. Virtually everything is different except the structure of the songs we listen to. Distribution methods have long influenced songwriting habits, from records to CDs to radio airplay. So will streaming services, through their business models, incentivize a change to song form itself? Many pop music sensations are already manufactured carefully by the studios, and the shift to digital is providing them with ever more data about what people like to listen to. And don't forget that technology is a now a central part of how such music is created, from auto-tune and electronic beats to the massive amount of processing that goes into getting the exact sound a studio wants.
Businesses

Hot Topic To Buy ThinkGeek Parent Company Geeknet 106

Posted by timothy
from the timmy-salute dept.
jones_supa points out the news (also at Ars Technica, and -- paywalled -- at the Wall Street Journal) that clothing and music retailer Hot Topic has announced plans to buy Geeknet, parent company of ThinkGeek and ThinkGeek Solutions, for $117.3 million. ThinkGeek Solutions is a distributor of video-game themed merchandise through licensed web stores. Hot Topic Inc. will pay $17.50 per Geeknet share. Privately held Hot Topic, based in Los Angeles, has more than 650 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Geeknet will become a Hot Topic subsidiary. This news inspires some nostalgia here; ThinkGeek was for a long time one of Slashdot's sister sites under the umbrella of VA Linux, and I had some fun years back helping to set up the ThinkGeek booth at LinuxWorld in New York.
Google

Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear 102

Posted by timothy
from the teddy-ruxpin-pinned-it-on-the-one-armed-man dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Time Magazine reports that Google has designed and patented an "anthropomorphic device" that could take the form of a "doll or toy" and interact both with people as well as tech gadgets echoing the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Stephen Spielberg's 2001 movie AI. This could be one of Google's creepiest patents yet — especially if movies like "Chuckie" still give you nightmares. The patent filing diagrams a stuffed teddy bear and a bunny rabbit outfitted with microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet. If it senses you're looking at it, the fuzzy toy will rotate its head and look back at you. Once it receives and recognizes a voice command prompt, you can then tell it to control media devices in your home (e.g. turn on your music or TV). According to the patent filing: "To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head, and/or focus its gaze on the user or object of its interest. To express curiosity, an anthropomorphic device may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm. To express boredom, an anthropomorphic device may defocus its gaze, direct its gaze in a downward fashion, tap its foot, and/or close its eyes. To express surprise, an anthropomorphic device may make a sudden movement, sit or stand up straight, and/or dilate its pupils."

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it. But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay. "When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line," says Avady. "Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy."
Music

Musical Organ Created From 49 Floppy Disk Drives 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the soothe-the-savage-student dept.
ErnieKey writes: A youth club in Germany, called Toolbox Bodensee, has created an unusual musical organ. It is constructed of 49 floppy disk drives all of which combine to play quite a unique sound. It has the ability to be played manually or act as a playback device. If you have a bunch of old floppy drives and want to assemble your own organ, the 3D print files are available for free download on Thingiverse.
Canada

Canadian Piracy Rates Plummet As Industry Points To New Copyright Notice System 224

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-downloading-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Canada's copyright notice-and-notice system took effect earlier this year, leading to thousands of notifications being forwarded by Internet providers to their subscribers. Since its launch, there have been serious concerns about the use of notices to demand settlements and to shift the costs of enforcement to consumers and Internet providers. Yet reports indicate that piracy rates in Canada have plummeted, with some ISPs seeing a 70% decrease in online infringement.
Canada

Canadian Prime Minister To Music Lobby: Here's Your Copyright Term Extension 121

Posted by timothy
from the plenty-more-where-that-came-from dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Canadian government's decision to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings in the budget may have taken most copyright observers by surprise, but not the music industry. The extension will reduce competition, increase costs for consumers, and harm access to Canadian Heritage, but apparently all it took was a letter from the music industry lobby to the Prime Minister of Canada. Michael Geist reports on a letter sent by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the music lobby on the day the change was announced confirming that industry lobbying convinced him to extend the term of copyright without any public consultation or discussion.
Music

What Happens To Our Musical Taste As We Age? 361

Posted by timothy
from the it-gets-righter-of-course dept.
An anonymous reader writes: New research from Spotify and Echo Nest reveals that people start off listening to chart-topping pop music and branch off into all kinds of territory in their teens and early 20s, before their musical tastes start to calcify and become more rigid by their mid-30s. "Men, it turns out, give up popular music much more quickly than women. Men and women have similar musical listening tendencies through their teens, but men start shunning mainstream artists much sooner than women and to a greater degree."
Music

The Music Industry's Latest Shortsighted Plan: Killing Freemium Services 244

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-we-get-rid-of-all-the-cars-and-bikes,-our-catapult-business-will-take-off dept.
An anonymous reader notes that there have been rumblings in the music industry of trying to shut down freemium services like Spotify's free tier and YouTube's swath of free music. The record labels have realized that music downloads are gradually giving way to streaming, and they're angling for as a big a slice of that revenue as they can manage. The article argues that they're making the same mistake they always make: that converting freemium site listeners (in the past, music pirates) to subscription services will be a 1:1 transfer, and no listeners will be lost in the process. Of course, that's no more true now than it was a decade ago. But in doing trying to do so, the labels will do harm to the artists they represent, and shoot themselves in the foot for acquiring future customers by getting rid of several major sources of music discovery.
Businesses

How Spotify Can Become Profitable 167

Posted by samzenpus
from the making-cash dept.
journovampire writes: Spotify just posted another big net loss, but it can become profitable with some specific changes according to one analyst. He suggests the following three options: Cut royalty costs to the music industry, freeze expenditure year-on-year, and what seems like the least likely option, somehow make free users pay $1 every three months. He points out: "if Spotify’s current free user base just paid €1/£1/$1 every three months, it would be a profitable company."
Piracy

Grooveshark Resurrected Out of US Jurisdiction 29

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-for-another-listen dept.
New submitter khoonirobo writes: Less than a week after music streaming service Grooveshark was shut down, it seems to have been brought back to life by an unknown person "connected to the original grooveshark" according to this BGR report. Seemingly, the plan is to get away with it by registering and hosting it outside of U.S. jurisdiction. From the article: "It’s still in the early stages of development, but the team hopes to reproduce the old Grooveshark UI in its entirety, including playlists and favorites."
Businesses

Apple Gets Antitrust Scrutiny Over Music Deals 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the apple-a-day-keeps-the-competition-at-bay dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is probing Apple after its acquisition of Beats Electronics, and its various deals with record labels to sell music through the iTunes store. As part of the acquisition, Apple now owns the music streaming service created by Beats, and they're planning to release a new version sometime soon. This makes their ties to the record labels, already deep because of iTunes, even stronger — and could affect the labels' relationships with other streaming services, like Spotify. Investigators want to know if Apple is using these business deals as leverage for "curtailing ad-supported music and pushing more songs into paid tiers of service at higher rates."
Privacy

Researchers Detect Android Apps That Connect to User Tracking and Ad Sites 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-track-me-bro dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A group of European researchers has developed software that tracks the URLs to which cellphone apps connect. After downloading 2,000+ free apps from Google Play, they indexed all the sites those apps connected to, and compared them to a list of known advertising and user tracking sites. "In total, the apps connect to a mind-boggling 250,000 different URLs across almost 2,000 top level domains. And while most attempt to connect to just a handful of ad and tracking sites, some are much more prolific. Vigneri and co give as an example "Music Volume Eq," an app designed to control volume, a task that does not require a connection to any external urls. And yet the app makes many connections. 'We find the app Music Volume EQ connects to almost 2,000 distinct URLs,' they say. [Another major offender] is an app called Eurosport Player which connects to 810 different user tracking sites." The researchers plan to publish their software for users to try out on Google Play soon.
Piracy

Grooveshark Shuts Down 226

Posted by Soulskill
from the should-have-thought-that-through-a-bit-better dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Grooveshark, one of the most popular music streaming websites, has announced that they are shutting down immediately. Several lawsuits from the record companies pushed the company out of business. In a notice posted on the Grooveshark website, its two founders said, "[D]espite best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation." All of their music has been deleted, and the site itself now belongs to the record companies. NewYorkCountryLawyer adds that according to the settlement (PDF), Grooveshark must pay $50 million, but no money judgment has been entered against individual defendants.
Canada

The Power of Backroom Lobbying: How the Music Industry Got a Copyright Extension 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-wouldn't-download-a-lobbyist dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Canadian government's unexpected budget decision to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings came as a surprise to most copyright watchers, but not the music industry lobby, which was ready with a press release within minutes. How did the industry seemingly know this was coming? Michael Geist reports that records show the extension is the result of backroom lobbying with monthly meetings between senior government officials and music industry lobbyists paving the way for copyright term extension without public consultation or debate.
Music

Stephen Hawking Has a Message For One Direction Fans 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-another-time-and-place dept.
An anonymous reader points out that Stephen Hawking recently gave some advice for One Direction fans. What is the cosmological effect of singer Zayn Malik leaving the best-selling boy band One Direction and consequently disappointing millions of teenage girls around the world? The advice of British cosmologist Stephen Hawking to heartbroken fans is to follow theoretical physics, because Malik may well still be a member of the pop group in another universe. The physicist took a break from speaking about his work as one of the world's leading scientists to answer the question from one upset fan during a talk at Sydney Opera House at the weekend. 'Finally a question about something important,' Hawking, who appeared via hologram, said to loud laughs from the audience. 'My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay attention to the study of theoretical physics because, one day, there may well be proof of multiple universes. It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another, different universe and, in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction.'"
Music

Pandora Paying Artists $0.0001 More Per Stream Than It Was Last Year 124

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-spend-it-all-at-once dept.
journovampire writes: Pandora has revealed that it's paying a 10,000th of a dollar more to music labels and artists than it was in 2014. From the article: "Pandora has revealed that its royalty payments to SoundExchange, the US licensing body which collects performance royalties on behalf of record labels and artists, have just increased by 8%. The news was confirmed in a call with investors following Pandora’s Q1 fiscal results announcement on Thursday (April 23), in which it posted a three-month net loss of $48.3m. In what Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews called a scheduled annual step-up, Pandora has from January 1 been paying out an average $0.0014 per ad-funded stream and $0.0024 per premium stream to SoundExchange."
Music

Music Industry Argues Works Entering Public Domain Are Not In Public Interest 302

Posted by samzenpus
from the watching-out-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: With news that Canada intends to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings and performers, the recording industry is now pushing the change by arguing that works entering the public domain is not in the public interest. It is hard to see how anyone can credibly claim that works are "lost" to the public domain and that the public interest in not served by increased public access, but if anyone would make the claim, it would be the recording industry.
Windows

iTunes Stops Working For Windows XP Users 368

Posted by timothy
from the why-it-seems-like-only-yesterday dept.
An anonymous reader writes: iTunes users who still run Windows XP started to experience connectivity issues this week. As documented in an Apple Support Communities thread, they can't log into the iTunes store, meaning functions like buying content, watching already purchased movies and TV shows, playing DRM-protected content, backing up, updating, and syncing all do not work.