In what has been expected for a while now, Google has launched Google Music and is now accepting invitations. The Android tablet/phone apps are being updated as well in the market. The cloud based service is expected to compete with Amazon’s cloud music offering, but rumors point to more storage for free. Record companies were supposed to partner with Google to offer either subscription based music, or a la carte options similar to what iTunes and Amazon already offer. Apparently the record companies have backed out (weasels), but the service will let users upload their own music for access on the go, or on other computers connected to the web. We will know more about it as Google I/O continues, but feel free to hit the link for a chance to partake in Google’s cloud based music service.
update: Unfortunately, U.S. only for now. Hopefully that changes soon. More information and official Google Music Beta video at NBT
When Stian, a friend of mine, came to me a few days ago and told me I could now find his music on various online music services I just had to find out how. It’s no secret that record companies are becoming more and more uselss with most of them being sadistic about both stealing the artist’s money and chase pirates, but I was unaware of just how easy it had become to publish music on your own.
There are apparently several ways to go about this using various services that do the work for you, but the one Stian used is called Zimbalam. You basically pay them €30 (Euro, a little over $40) and your album will then magically appear on various music services a few weeks later. These include Amazon MP3, iTunes, Spotify, eMusic, Napster and Rhapsody as well as some smaller services.
This of course doesn’t help you with the recording part of the production process, and while the artist in this case made all the music using various computer software, most artists will need to record the album first. Still, there’s a lot of potential for this kind of service both for smaller unknown artists who record at home or at concerts and it brings down the cost of getting out there considerably. Digital downloads of music is the future for sure, and not having to worry about everything that goes with a CD release opens for a lot of new music to be released.
If you want to check out Stian’s masterpieces and see proof that €30 is really all you need, you can now find him on iTunes, Amazon and eMusic among others.
According to his own blog, 18 year old Even Sandvold Roland is a big fan of Dave Matthews Band. His excitement was therefor high when he discovered that their new album was going to be released bit by bit ahead of time on iTunes. Hitting the link, he got the all too familiar message (at least for us in Europe) “only available in the USA”. Annoyed as one can understand, he tweeted the following message on the microblog service twitter (translated from Norwegian): “Pissed now! iTunes Music Pass for Dave Matthews Band’s new album is only available in the USA. Typical! Don’t complain about pirating!”
Nothing out of the ordinary so far, but the reply he got from the Artists and Repertoire manager from Warner Music Norway, Terje Pedersen, certainly explains why there’s now a trend on Twitter called #warnerfail: “I think you should steal it, then you can brag about the process on your little kid blog afterward. After all I don’t want you to be angry”. It should also be mentioned that the Norwegian word for “little kid” (alternately “brat”, “little kid” is from the Oxford dictionary) he used is a curse word that doesn’t have a good translation, and that directly translated it would be “shit kid”.
The story has blown up big time and Even has been on radio talking about it, as well as his own blog and articles in national newspapers in Norway. the original reply from Terje Pedersen has been deleted, but can still be seen as a screenshot on Even’s blog and at the time of this writing it can also be seen by searching for “drittungebloggen” on Twitter. Terje Pedersen later apologized for the incident in a comment on Even’s blog, but frankly the apology talked more about why the record industry is still in the stone age.
The story is probably not over yet and I’m sure we’ll hear more about it in the next few days. Record companies are extremely busy digging their own graves these days, with the Pirate Bay trial giving pirating more free advertising than anyone could have hoped (or feared) and I doubt Warner will have more supporters after this little stunt. That fact makes it even more ironic that this whole story started because Even tried to pay for his music, but no-one would take his money.
I’ve seen a lot of people trying to justify piracy, but this one is definitely new – and apparently not even illegal. Basically Bopaboo is a service (currently) in beta that allows you to sell you legally bought DRM free music files as used.
[Bopaboo via GenerationMP3]
Amazon MP3 has finally started going international with the MP3 store coming to Amazon UK. The record companies continue whining about illegal music downloads but considering the (lack of) speed that MP3 stores are brought out (because of licensing and such) we’ll prob have audio files implanted directly into our brain and have the site renamed Anything But iBrain by the time the entire world has access to MP3 stores.
After two years of disappointing customers every couple of months with no new info, Meizu is finally releasing it’s M8 iPhone copy. This was announced as a competitor to the iPhone two years ago while the first gen iPhone was still hot and new. Personally I couldn’t care less about this thing, but maybe there are still people out there who remember the fuzz surrounding the announcement of this thing back in 1863(ish).
The Archos 5 got a firmware update this week adding some features, bringing others out of beta and fixing some bugs.
The popular TV show “The Simpsons” had an episode last Sunday where a certain company got a bashing. Check it out if you want to know the real story behind Steve Mobs, Mapple and the Mypod.
Haier released a new version of the Rhapsody player, called the iBiza Sport. Flash memory, Wifi and Rhapsody support. The first player they released never was much of a success and I doubt this will be any different.
Many of us are tired of getting fleeced by eBay fees and ridiculous policies, so we have added an MP3 player classified section to the forums. Check it out, sell your used gear or find some great deals from others.
Zune made an awesome addition to the Marketplace subscription today. In addition to the all you can download subscription, you are now able to download and keep 10 tracks per month even if you cancel your subscription. The way I see it is kind of like buying a album every month and getting a free subscription.
As Ina Fried at CNet points out, this is a move by the Microsoft and the labels to drum up subscription rates since they are lower than what they hoped. But subscription is not the only thing hurting in terms of music sales, physical sales are declining faster than digital downloads can keep up.
SanDisk as the world’s leading manufacturer of flash memory cards is of course always out to sell more cards. This summer they have been running a campaign called “wake up your phone” to get people to invest in memory cards for their cellphones and now they’re at it again with a new idea involving microSD cards and music distribution.
The “new” physical music media is dubbed SlotMusic and is basically just MicroSD cards with MP3 files on them. Sony BMG, Universal, Warner and EMI are in on this deal and it’s an accomplishment in itself to get music companies to offer such content as MP3 files and not some DRM’ed atrocity. The idea is that people can buy a SlotMusic card, slide it into a player with a microSD slot and listen to the music without any more tinkering.
While this might seem like an inferior method of getting music for some people, it does address two aspects of MP3 players that a lot of people have issues with; having a physical copy, and ease of use. A lot of people, especially the older generation, don’t understand how to download music and get it onto their player. With this system they could buy their music like CDs and listen that way. Nothing is simpler than having a card which you put into a slot and it’s ready to play. Then you have the music collectors who like to have a physical copy of their music. Granted, MP3 files won’t satisfy everyone, but it does allow people to have a cover to look at (if they are going to include such a thing), a booklet and maybe the cards could even include extras like music videos and FLAC files. It’s certainly easier having a memory card that you can plug into a computer and transfer music off of than having to rip the music from a CD. The pricing isn’t official but is expected to be around $7-$10, which isn’t bad at all.
[CNET via ABi Forums | Press Release]
Best Buy today agreed to pick up Napster for $2.65 per share or about $121m. What is interesting here is Best Buy has been using Rhapsody for their own branded music store going as far as requiring manufactures to change their packaging to include the “Best Buy Digital Music Store” branding. (The reason why Creative no longer sells at Best Buy is because they refused to change their packaging and get on board the BB music store.)
This news is a bit disappointing for me since I was never really a fan of Napster and currently subscribe to Rhapsody and Zune Marketplace. It’s not that Napster is a bad music service, it’s just Rhapsody has a better catalog and has the best recommendation engine in the game. But I guess the good news is you will still be able to use Rhapsody Subscription on most of the players sold at Best Buy, it’s just not going to be bundled. Also note that it has not been officially stated as to what will happen with the Rhapsody / Best Buy partnership, but I am assuming the obvious.
[Press Release via PaidContent]
For those who remember, Music Gremlin was the first MP3 player to offer wi-fi connectivity. It was tied into a music service that allowed for the automatic download of content much like the Ibiza Rhapsody and SanDisk’s own Sansa Connect. While I don’t know about the acquisition terms and what their plans are for the integration of MG into SanDisk, but this is rather troubling to me and I question the good that will come out of this acquisition for a few reasons.
Back at CES 2008 Napster announced plans to make their entire catalogue DRM free. Today it joins stores like Amazon and Zune who also offer a part of their library DRM free. The downloads will remain at the same price as before (99 cents per track and $9.99 per album) and will be offered in 256kbps MP3 with high resolution (1,000 x 1,000 pixel) album art. By contrast Zune Marketplace and Amazon offer 320kbps MP3s.
There is one part of this story that is really aggravating in that people who have purchased previously ala carte downloads that were DRMed will not be able to trade for unprotected versions of the music they paid for. Don’t blame Napster, this decision made by the record labels showing us one again they don’t care about their customer base. Once again the DRM customer is screwed. Please vote with your dollars and never purchase DRM content since its expatriation is inevitable.
[CNet | Napster PR]