Tag Archives: music

Google Play Music’s New Release Radio is available for all users

Google has officially announced New Release Radio, a station on Google Play Music that provides users with a daily selection of new songs they may like based on their listening history. The feature has actually been out in the wild for almost a month now, but originally it was positioned as an exclusive for Samsung users (though neither Google nor Samsung made an official announcement).


Now, Google is saying that it was “gathering feedback” from Samsung users before officially rolling it out to everyone — but the screenshots we saw from users on Reddit last month clearly called it a “Samsung exclusive” feature. Oddly enough, Reddit also quickly discovered a workaround for people who didn’t have Samsung phones to try the station — I got it working on my iPhone with no fuss.


It’s still not clear whether or not this was always the plan or if Google and Samsung changed course after the confusing rollout of New Release Radio in June — we’ve reached out to Google and will update this post with anything we learn.


Regardless of the back-and-forth here, we’re glad to see New Release Radio available for all Google Play Music users. It’s a smart addition to the service that matches up with some new music discovery features Spotify and Apple Music have offered for a while — and it would have been a shame if only Samsung owners could use it. The jury is still out on whether New Release Radio is as good as Discovery Weekly, but pretty much anyone using Google Play Music should enjoy giving this new station a spin.



Adele Says She May Never Tour Again on First Night of Wembley ‘Finale’

LONDON — The first words out of Adele’s mouth at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday evening were memorable ones. “F— me,” the singer said. “I have never been so f—ing scared in all of my f—ing life.”

The singer’s anxiety as she began the first of four shows at the London venue, dubbed “The Finale” because they end her 18-month tour run on “25,” was understandable. The opening show broke attendance records for Wembley, drawing nearly 98,000 fans to the in-the-round setting — breaking the venue record set by U2 in 2009. The singer, who joked that she’d considered canceling the concert the night before, was quick to note, however, “Once I settle into me nerves, I’ll be fine.”

Settle she did. As the 18-song set unfolded, frequently interrupted by the singer’s rambling, hilarious chatter, Adele seemed more and more at ease in the massive arena. From her opening number of “Hello,” she grew increasingly more comfortable with the space—and with the fact that the fans circled the stage, which was set aloft in the middle of the field. By her fifth number, a lively rendition of “Rumour Has It,” Adele had found her groove.


She rolled through a selection of both hits and deeper album cuts and scattered her setlist choices across all three of her albums rather than emphasizing “25.” The set, which lasted nearly two hours and had no opening act, relied on Adele’s voice to carry the audience through. The production was minimal and classy. Video screens encircled the stage, playing clips previously used in this touring cycle, although the shots of London during “Hometown Glory” were edited to include shots of a burned Grenfell Tower — the singer made an impassioned plea for audience members to donate 5 pounds each to the relief fund for victims of the fire earlier this month, in which an estimated 80 people died.


In a lighter moment, the singer brought out a men’s choir for her rendition of “Skyfall,” joking that they’d ignored her request to perform shirtless; a fireworks display illuminated “Set Fire to the Rain,” the song that concluded the main set.

Despite the enormity of the venue, which implemented heightened security checks at the entrances, Adele encouraged a feeling of intimacy throughout. The circular stage gave her the means to interact with all sides of the room and she took a pause midway to fire a T-shirt gun in four directions (“Say hello to my little friend,” she quipped, gripping the gun). She repeatedly told the crowd that she’d forgotten the words to the next song, asking for help with each lyric. Whether she actually needed the help was a moot point; the assertion gave the audience an even bigger motivation to sing louder and more forcefully. As Adele launched into “Someone Like You,” the three-track encore’s finale moment, there was a tangible sense of community. The collective feeling of 98,000 fans, all who have felt hurt or heartbreak at some point in their lives, lingered after the final notes.

The impact wasn’t lost on Adele, who took a moment to thank her significant other and her son for their support: The night’s performance marked the singer’s 120th global show on this touring run. Before the last track, Adele choked up, telling the crowd how blown she was by the experience.


Adele Says She May Never Tour Again on First Night of Wembley ‘Finale’

JAY-Z’s Name: The Hyphen Is Back, And Now It’s in All Caps

JAY-Z is back. Not only is his new album 4:44 out later this month, June 30, as a Tidal exclusive, but he’s brought back the hyphen in his name as well. Back in 2013, after the release of his album Magna Carta Holy Grail, Hov dropped the hyphen, effectively making him Jay Z. But now, a Roc Nation rep confirms to Pitchfork that the hyphen is back, and the rapper is also officially formatting his name in all caps. So, JAY-Z it is. Before the official 4:44 reveal, he also shared a snippet of the upcoming film by the same name, soundtracked by a clip of his new song “Adnis.” The album announce featured his name formatted as “JAY:Z.” In addition to that announcement, this weekend also saw JAY-Z and Beyoncé usher their new twins into the world.




Taylor Swift Returns To Spotify, Amends Her Relationship To Streaming

Judging by the headlines Friday morning, Taylor Swift’s music has finally returned to streaming services. But that’s not exactly the case.

Taylor Nation, an official arm of the Swift machine, posted mid-evening on Thursday that, in celebration of her 2014 album 1989 selling 10 million albums globally and a 100-million song “certification” from the Recording Industry Association of America, Swift and her management would make her entire back catalog available on streaming services. As of this morning, a Spotify playlist of her greatest hits had drawn nearly 30,000 subscribers.

In truth, her back catalog was available in piecemeal or in full on various services well before early this morning. Subscription-only services all had her previous pre-2014 albums, and Apple Music, in a very public coup for the company following a very public act of contrition, also had 1989. And because of the legal structure of song licensing in the states, listeners on Pandora’s radio service also could hear tracks from her catalog. The one conspicuous place you couldn’t hear Swift’s work was Spotify.


That was because of Spotify’s industry-polarizing dedication to its “free tier,” which lets listeners hear music without a subscription in exchange for regular interruptions from ads. “It’s my opinion that music should not be free,” Swift wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal in 2014. Adding to the acrimony, Spotify had also maintained a no-exceptions policy on “windowing,” wherein certain albums would be available to paid subscribers for a certain period of time. (“Windowing” should not to be confused with “exclusives,” where an artist makes their work available only on a specific service, a strategy Apple Music has prolifically chased.) Both policies were taken as affronts by Swift and her team — on the latter point, as robbing artists and their labels of control. That’s in large part why Swift pulled her entire catalog from Spotify in 2014.

So the question this morning is, why are Taylor Swift’s albums now on Spotify? A request for clarification on that question by Swift’s management and record label was not immediately returned. But it’s worth noting that Spotify recently softened its stance on windowing — in return for paying lowered fees to labels — according to a report from the Financial Times in March. Streaming has also become the dominant revenue driver for the recording industry since the release of 1989. Spotify’s anodyne statement on the news simply confirms “that Taylor Swift’s entire back catalogue is now available on Spotify for her millions of fans to enjoy.”



Google is offering new Google Play Music subscribers four free months

Google is running a deal on its music streaming service and storage locker Google Play Music. Typically, the site offers up a 90-day free trial when you sign up, but it’s now giving new subscribers an extra month of free time.


The service allows users scan up to 50,000 songs from their music library, and listen to custom radio stations on their computer or mobile device. Users who use the free tier have to contend with ads, but subscribers who pay $9.99 (or $14.99 for a family account) can avoid ads, listen to over 35 million songs, download music to listen offline, and get access to YouTube Red.

Google has offered similar deals in the past, and Android Police notes that it’s not clear how long the deal will remain active. At the very least, it’s an opportunity to check out the service if you’ve never tried it, and you can always cancel your subscription when your four months are up.




Buena Vista Social Club: Adios – Official Trailer #2 (2017)

Prince’s Famous Vault Opens: Inside His Vast Archives’ Uncertain Future

Soon after Prince signed on to star in 1984’s Purple Rain, he got to work writing songs. Before filming even began, he had more than 100 ready. He obsessively recorded over the next nine months, at his home studio and in front of audiences at Minneapolis’ First Avenue. “We rehearsed for six months, and he documented everything,” says guitarist Wendy Melvoin of the Revolution. Only nine of those songs made it to the final soundtrack, and the unreleased material has tantalized fans for 33 years. Now, some of it will finally see official release. On June 9th, Warner Bros. will release an expanded edition of Purple Rain, with four discs including extended tracks, B sides, and a DVD of a March 1985 concert with the Revolution in Syracuse, New York (with a 20-minute “Purple Rain”). Most intriguingly, the set features a full disc of outtakes from the sessions. Some of them, including the full version of “Father’s Song” and the studio version of “Electric Intercourse,” have never circulated before.

It’s the first big posthumous release delving into what Prince’s estate has said are “thousands upon thousands” of tapes in the singer’s vaults at Paisley Park, his home in Minnesota. In 2014, Prince told Rolling Stone the vault includes unheard albums with the Revolution, the Time and Vanity 6. “I didn’t always give the record companies the best song,” he said.


But the rest of Prince’s catalog has been caught in the kind of legal chaos that has surrounded his estate since his death last April. In February, Universal Music Group paid $30 million for the rights to distribute music Prince recorded after he left Warner Bros. in 1996 (he re-signed with the label in 2014). Even more exciting for fans, Universal announced that, beginning in 2018, it would “obtain U.S. rights to certain renowned Prince albums release from 1979 to 1995.” The deal also included unreleased material from throughout his career.

But that deal is now essentially dead: Sources close to Universal say it is seeking its money back for misrepresentation after discovering that it might not have access to Prince’s pre-’96 material until 2021, making the deal considerably less appealing. No plans for more archival releases have been announced; it is also unclear which vault material Warner Bros. owns, and for how long.

Prince’s estate has been in similar limbo. He kept no will, leaving his sister Tyka and five half-siblings to battle it out for estate control. As that was sorted out, a Minnesota court appointed a financial firm, Bremer Trust, as a special administrator. The company got to work making deals, from streaming to merchandising, to meet a $12 million estate-tax payment. But Bremer clashed with the family; the court has put another bank, Comerica, in charge, appointing Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s former manager and now an executive at Spotify, to oversee the archives and future deals. The company met its first test when it put a stop to Deliverance, a six-song EP of unheard Prince music recorded between 2006 and 2008, co-written and produced with engineer Ian Boxill. “Ian had access to a lot more material they worked on together,” says David Staley, co-founder of Rogue Music, who announced the EP. “He felt this small selection was something Prince would have wanted out.” Comerica filed a restraining order to halt the sale of the EP; CD versions of it are sitting in a warehouse until the issue is resolved. (Last week, a court ordered Prince’s estate to post a $1 million bond in advance of the upcoming trial that will determine the fate of the release.)




Demi Lovato Shows off Her Toned Frame in Orange One-Piece After Preaching Body Positivity

Keeping with her anthem’s lyrics, Demi Lovato modeled an orange suit — and her seriously fit frame — on Snapchat on Saturday, opting for a full-body shot as well as a close-up.

She also shared a photo of the citrus suit to Instagram, captioning, “Don’t know if it’s physically possible for me to get any more tan….”


On Friday, the singer shared a photo in a black and white bikini, captioning, “No filter no edit, love your body the way it is.”

Lovato has long been outspoken about embracing her natural curves, recently saying in another Instagram post that she is fine with not having a thigh gap in a photo showcasing her legs.

With body positivity to boot, Lovato has been working out religiously at L.A.’s Unbreakable Performance Center (where Nick and Joe Jonas also work out) for the past nine months, and she has called the gym her “oasis” on Instagram.

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Spotify’s half-priced student pricing expands worldwide

Hot on the heels of Pandora’s public launch of its on-demand streaming service, Pandora Premium, rival Spotify is looking to make its service more appealing to younger users by rolling out discounted student pricing to more countries around the world. The company announced today that its roughly half-priced version of its Premium service is now available to students who qualify in 33 new countries, in addition to the U.S., U.K., and Germany where student pricing is already offered.

The new countries where student pricing is now available includes: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey.

In the war for subscribers, offering a lower price point can encourage sign-ups – and this is especially true among the younger demographic, a target market for these new streaming services and the users most likely to struggle to afford access.

On Spotify Premium’s student plan, users have the same benefits as a regular paid subscriber, including ad-free listening, access to Spotify’s catalog of over 30 million songs, offline listening, and more.

Students will have to verify their active enrollment in a university in order to take advantage of the lower price. Spotify is working with authentication and verification software provider SheerID to assist with this aspect of its student program. (Apple Music, by comparison, does something similar – but works with third-party UNiDAYS for verification.)



Like Apple Music’s discount, which drops the $9.99/month service down to $4.99/month, Spotify’s student discount is also a half-priced offering. In the U.S., it costs the same as Apple Music, and that same discount rate will apply in the new countries, as well.

With the additional markets, Spotify’s student discount is available in a total of 36 countries worldwide, which the company notes makes it the biggest music streaming student offer in the world by geographical reach. Apple Music, however, isn’t that far behind – its student offer expanded to more countries in November, including major markets like Canada, Japan, France and China, which brought its total supported markets to 32 at the time.

The two companies are fierce competitors, with Spotify having recently hit 50 million paying customers, and Apple Music having grown to 20 million subscribers as of December. And with Pandora Premium entering the market, the competition looks to be heating up even further.


Spotify’s half-priced student pricing expands worldwide

Google and Microsoft agree crackdown on piracy sites in search results

Google and Microsoft pledged on Monday to crack down on sites hosting pirated content that show up on their search engines.

In what is being called a first of its kind agreement, Google and Microsoft’s Bing will demote U.K. search results of copyright infringing websites. Under the “code of practice”, Bing and Google have agreed to remove links to infringing content from the first page of results.

The voluntary agreement was brokered by the U.K. Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the government department that deals with patents and copyright issues, who called it a “landmark” deal.

Search engines, in particular Google, have clashed in recent times with organizations that represent rights holders about how best to tackle pirated content. Even Google’s YouTube has come under fire from the music industry over copyright in the past.

“Consumers are increasingly heading online for music, films, e-books, and a wide variety of other content. It is essential that they are presented with links to legitimate websites and services, not provided with links to pirate sites,” Jo Johnson, U.K. minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation, said in a press release on Monday.

The BPI (British Phonographic Industry), which represents the U.K.’s recorded music industry, and the Motion Picture Association are also part of the agreement.

Both Bing and Google currently allow copyright owners across the globe to make a request for the removal of a link. In the past 12 months, Google has taken down 915 million links following requests from copyright holders. Bing took down over 91 million links between January and June 2016, according to a Microsoft transparency report.

The code was agreed on February 9 and will come into force immediately. It sets targets for reducing the visibility of infringing content in search results by June 1, 2017.



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