Kanye West Being Sued Over Promises of Tidal Exclusive Album

Kanye West is not a new face when it comes to news and digital issues, with his latest album, the life of Pablo, pirated over half a million times while it was still an exclusive at Tidal. The problem for many was that Kanye had offered the album as an exclusive for Tidal, the online streaming service that he has invested in. The so-called exclusive has now led to Kayne West being sued over promises that it would be a Tidal exclusive album, promises that didn’t last very long.

Justin Baker-Rhett is a fan of musician Kanye West, but he is now at the center of a lawsuit targeted towards both Kanye West and S.Carter Enterprises (SCE), the company that owns the Tidal music streaming service.

The lawsuit alleges that the rapper mislead his fans into buying and supporting the streaming service by falsely promising that his album, the Life of Pablo, would only ever be available on Tidal. A month and a half later the album appeared on both Apple Music and Spotify, leading many to believe that his claims about the album being an exclusive were nothing more than false advertising to boost Tidal’s falling sales figures.

Tidal promises greater control and royalties to those that use it to share their music so it’s hard to see West’s tweet as nothing more than an attempt to get people to buy in and listen to it on the platform before realising that he might not get the following on Tidal, whose subscription numbers are reported to have jumped from 1 million to 3 million following the announcement.

iTunes Allowance to Shutdown Next Month

iTunes allowance is a service that allowed parents to place money into their child’s iTunes account on a monthly basis. No need to allow them to borrow your card or even for you to type into or access their account, preventing you from hundreds of pounds of charges to your card you never expected. Come next month though and the service will be shut down.

In an announcement, Apple has stated that after April 13th users aren’t able to create new iTunes allowance setups, with all current allowance setups being shut down as of May 25th. If you are one of the many who already has a system in place, don’t worry any unused allowance will remain in the account until it has been used, while Apple is keen to stress that similar effects can be achieved using different schemes they provide.

If you are looking to provide for your family, you can share your purchases through the family sharing feature while if you are looking to take sole control of the system then using the  iTunes gift system would be ideal. With no reasoning behind the removal of the feature, people are left wondering if the new systems will teach the same values about money and the consequences of spending an allowance.

The Music Industry Wants The Digital Copyright Law Reformed

First, we had live music, then we got vinyl records, then cassettes and CD’s and now we can enjoy our music anywhere we like in the palm of our hand thanks to Digital music. The problem is that being able to share and copy music so easily isn’t for everyone and the American music industry wants the Digital Copyright Law Reformed.

Why does someone want the Digital Copyright Law reformed? The American music industry argues that the approach of issuing takedown notices to people who upload content illegally just doesn’t work when combating the number of web addresses and options people have for uploading music. They claim that the safe harbor passages of the Digital Copyright Law actually protect those who benefit from piracy, such as google with its search engine and YouTube videos.

As part of the reform, the music industry is looking at technology like audio fingerprinting to spot piracy before something is even uploaded. They are also asking that a takedown notice for say a song on YouTube, would affect all illegal copies of the song on that site. While the music industry may argue that issuing takedown requests at the moment doesn’t help enough, Google would argue that after a recent study as many as 30 percent of the takedown requests they received were dodgy.

People currently argue that the Digital copyright law is a guilty-until-proven-innocent piece of legislation, that often ends up with videos and content that use music for legal reasons are flagged up on systems. Asking for copyright law to be reformed, especially around its safe harbor passages, could result in the law being relaxed, or entirely new measures being put in place to combat the onslaught of takedown requests sites and search engines receive for both genuine and ‘dodgy’ reasons.

The Music of David Bowie to be Streamed via Skype

Earlier this year David Bowie passed away. In tribute to the legend, Michael Dorf has created a tribute show, “The Music of David Bowie”. Due to interest in the project, you could now enjoy the show via Skype for a small charitable donation.

Teaming up with both Skype and ammado, the show at Radio City Music Hall on April 1st will be streamed online across the world for all the share in the memory. With a suggested minimal donation of $20 or £15, the show will feature 18 different artists paying tribute to the man himself.

The confirmed artists for the show include:

  • MUMFORD & SONS
  • BLONDIE
  • PIXIES
  • MICHAEL STIPE
  • J MASCIS
  • RICKIE LEE JONES
  • ESPERANZA SPALDING
  • RON POPE
  • JHEREK BISCHOFF, AMANDA PALMER & ANNA CALVI W/KRONOS QUARTET
  • ANN WILSON OF HEART
  • THE ROOTS
  • THE POLYPHONIC SPREE
  • PERRY FARRELL
  • JAKOB DYLAN
  • HOLY HOLY
  • DONNY MCCASLIN GROUP W/ MARK GUILIANA, JASON LINDNER, AND TONY VISCONTI

The donations will go to a range of charities such as the Melodic Caring Project (MCP)Grammy in the SchoolsFor Music & Art named as just a few. With 100% of the proceeds going to charity, you get a great show and help an amazing cause all in the memory of a historic figure. You can find out more and contribute to the show here.

Hum On! App Turns Your Humming Into Music

People love to hum, whether it’s along to music or just a tune you’ve got stuck in your head, it is an easy way to express yourself even if you have no musical talent or skill. Now, Samsung’s C-Lab have developed a way for you to both hum and make music with Hum On! a new app that records your vocal noises and attempts to turn them into music.

Using the app is simple, just hit a record button and hum away. When you are done, the app will convert your vocalization into musical notation and let you play it back like a MIDI file. If you aren’t happy with the result, the app will let you adjust the notes after the recording and even change the genre of the song played back with choices such as “rock”, “orchestra” and “R&B”.

The app works by analysing the pitch and duration of the user’s voice and employs machine learning techniques to calculate suitable accompaniments for the vocal sounds using methods likened to a musician applying melody and chords.

“For hundreds of years, music has only been created by a select few, but that will no longer be the case,” said David Choi, Creative Leader of the project. “With Hum On!, we aim to provide a platform where anyone can turn their inspiration into great music.”

Currently the Hum On! app is in a very early beta phase, with the version of the app being on show at SXSW being very basic, lacking even some of the features that are becoming commonplace in modern apps such as the ability to easily share data with other apps and devices. It is unclear if and when Hum On! will be available to the public, but it should be an entertaining addition to many smartphones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj1r9YJ6INA

Kanye West Caught Pirating Software in Social Media Blunder

Kanye West’s buffoonery on social media is reaching comical levels and makes me wonder if it’s all just a publicity stunt. Initially, West went on an e-begging campaign pleading Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg for $1 billion and claimed he now has $53 million in personal debt. Here is just a brief snippet of his embarrassing remarks on Twitter:

“Mark Zuckerberg I know it’s your bday but can you please call me by 2mrw… You love hip hop, you love my art… I am your favorite artist but you watch me barely breathe and still play my album in your house … World, please tweet, FaceTime, Facebook, instagram, whatever you gotta do to get Mark to support me…(sic)”

“I know I can make the world a better place… I have done the impossible … I retook the throne of rap… I beat the fashion game…(sic)”

“Mark, I am publicly asking you for help… one of the coolest things you could ever do is to help me in my time of need.”

Of course the irony is, he’s asking for help on Facebook’s main competitor and cannot fathom why he’s being mocked by so many people. Once again, this might all be an act, and I’d usually refrain from giving Kanye West any publicity. However, the latest development is absurd, and left me completely speechless. In an amazing turn of events, Kanye West posted a picture on social media of his music tastes:

https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/704873833564659712

On closer inspection you can see he was searching for a $189 synthesiser made by Xfer Records for Mac and Windows. Next to this tab, is a search entry on the Pirate Bay to illegally download this music application without paying. This really is unbelievable considering Kanye West spearheaded the re-launch of a music streaming service called Tidal designed to give artists a fair revenue share. The entire premise revolves around letting consumers know how damaging piracy is and providing a legal alternative. From this evidence, it looks very hypocritical and exemplifies how ridiculous this man is. Honestly, I worry about the future of humanity if people like Kanye West can become successful and obtain a position of significant influence.

Image courtesy of Vibe

Archive.org Releases 30GB Torrent of Lost 80s Cassette Tapes

The wonderful Internet Archive (Archive.org) has released a 30GB torrent of lost music which dates from the Eighties to the Early-Nineties. The songs are sourced from a massive archive of cassette tapes – the format by which music was shared before the advent of home writeable CDs – courtesy of noise-arch.net, donated by former CKLN-FM radio host Myke Dyer back in 2009.

“This website is a collection of underground/independently released cassette tapes from the days when the audio cassette was the standard method of music sharing, generally the Mid-Eighties through Early-Nineties,” a post from noise-arch.net, archived by Archive.org, reads. “Material represented includes tape experimentation, industrial, avant-garde, indie, rock, DIY, subvertainment and auto-hypnotic materials.  Most of what you are about to hear is rather difficult to file under any one category, and thus has not been. The bulk of the tapes in this library were donated to the project by former CKLN-FM radio host Myke Dyer in august of 2009.”

The zipped torrent of tapes, which can be found here, is a little erratic at present – my download is wildly vacillating between 50 and 500kB/s, with a consistent upload of around 1.5MB/s – but that download rate should stabilise as more people seed it. In fact, in the time it took me to write that sentence the download has already leaped to 2MB/s.

Image courtesy of Fact

Get Yourself Prepared for Black Friday 2015 with Amazon Prime

It’s that time of year again where retailers will stop at nothing to clinch that early Holiday season sale. In years gone by, Black Friday has been in the forefront of the news over the absolutely bonkers deals on or immediately after the last payday before December 25th; typically the last Friday in November.

This year we have heard that some UK retailers are actually pulling out of any Black Friday association due to the chaos it brought upon the outlets last year. This probably won’t stop them joining in with another event, retailer Argos has recently entered “Blue Friday“, with the tagline “It’s Black Friday Every Weekend”.

If you don’t fancy rambling out to the shops, Amazon has announced another repetitive, but outstanding £20 off Amazon Prime until Wednesday 18th November. This means you can enjoy that glass of wine while browsing the sales and knowing you will likely get the item the next day. As an added benefit, you will also have access Prime Video, Prime Music and Amazon Cloud drive meaning after you have bought your last gift you can settle down and watch the latest TV series or decorate that tree to uninterrupted Christmas songs.

For the fans of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, buying this now means you will have full access to the Amazon Exclusive show which will be streamed in 2016.

What are you waiting for? Some motivational music? Well, we’ve got you covered.

Rock Band 4’s DLC Costs a Total of $3926

Rock Band 4 has a fairly extensive music library but also charges for a jaw-dropping 1973 downloadable tracks. Each piece of music is priced at $1.99 which equates to a monstrous total of $3926. However, the game usually revolves around downloading your favourite tracks and this huge amount of extra content is designed to suit a variety of tastes. Although, I would have preferred to have seen a large amount of these integrated into the base game.

Arguably, the licensing costs involved are astronomical which explains the high pricing model. However, it seems very unreasonable for consumers to spend such a vast sum of money in individual segments. The download model is akin to a free-to-play game and quickly gets out of hand when making regular micro-payments.

This is a shame as I’m pleased to see the resurgence of music-themed games. One saving grace is you can import various songs from Rock Band 3.  The series has also fleeced customers with its DLC programme and doesn’t look like changing anytime soon. Whatever the case, Rock Band 4’s superb gameplay could be marred by the absurd amount of DLC. This follows other games of late which implemented DLC on launch and tried to make microtransactions acceptable.

Have you ever used a microtransaction in a full-price game?

Pioneer Announces Portable Music Player For Audiophiles

The smart phone revolution has integrated a number of dedicated devices from cameras to audio players into one portable solution. However, a large quantity of smartphones suffer from poor audio reproduction and lackluster battery life. As a result, there is still a legitimate reason to own a premium audio player if you’re a music enthusiast. The Pioneer XDP-100R is constructed from high-grade aluminium and runs Android. Furthermore, it is capable of playing lossless formats such as FLAC, MQA, ALAC and DSD audio reaching 11.2MHz.

Amazingly, the audio player utilizes two separate circuit boards to maximize audio quality and “eliminate the effects of digital noise”. In terms of its specification, there is a 4-7 inch 720p display, 32GB internal memory with two MicroSD slots each supporting a maximum of 128GB of storage. The battery life is also quite impressive and allows up to 10 hours on a single charge with high-quality bitrates.

However, this supreme audio quality will apparently cost a staggering $700. As with any high-end audio equipment, the price is well out of the rich of most mainstream users due to the niche audience. Although, it’s certainly interesting to see a dedicated portable audio device in 2015.

Do you use your mobile phone to play music?

Re Imagining Blink 182 Music Video “What’s My Age Again?” In GTA

All I can say is I am glad that for once, there is censorship within this video, otherwise the editor of eTeknix would have had my, well you know (He’s not wrong – Pete). If you are having a particularly bad day or you’re in need or a tech laugh, then some genius, yes I know that word has fallen into disrepute over the years but bear with me, has let’s say re-imagined late 90s hit “What’s my age again?” by US band Blink 182 in Grand Theft Auto. Perhaps this is the same chorus little Johnny/Jenny should sing before their mum or dad attempts to purchase an 18+ certificate game for them, oh the irony.

Below are two videos, the original Blink 182 version and also the GTA inspired music video, as you can see, ha ha and ha. This project was created by an individual who goes by the Youtube moniker “icanteven”. If you have seen the original video you might have noted that the band members are well, running in the buff, this has therefore been incorporated using Rockstar Video Editor and also character mods, censored ones at that mind you.

I cannot say this project is a faithful scene by scene recreation of the original, It might be, I just don’t recall Blink 182 being blasted and then run over with a tank. It may have been the anything goes 90s, but I think I would remember that.

Thank you nme for providing us with this information.

Beats Launches New Beats Pill+ Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

The brand Beats and its Pill lines have been somewhat a revelation since entering the market in 2012, from celebrity endorsements to a booming sales forecast, this form of portable wireless unit has certainly captured the imagination of consumers. Now, the company has announced a new incarnation of the successful Beats Pill series with hopes of expanding its base even further.

Today, (7th October 2015) Beats have introduced a new product by the name of the Pill+ speaker, below are the announced features within the press release.

Sound – The Beats Pill+ is slightly larger than the original Beats Pill speaker, allowing for a bigger and fuller sound. The stereo active 2-way crossover system creates an optimized sound field for dynamic range and clarity across all genres of music. Tweeter and woofer separation uses the same acoustic mechanics found in professional recording studios around the world.

Design – . Compact and durable enough to throw in your bag, the Beats Pill+ has implemented convenient button controls which are now at the top of the speaker.

Power management – The Beats Pill+ speaker has a 12-hour battery life to stay charged on the go. The lightning cable and power supply provide a quick full charge in just 3 hours. Keep track of your power levels with the fuel gauge so you always know how much battery is left and use the USB port to charge out.

Additionally, a new feature by the name of the “Beats Pill+ app for iOS and Android devices” takes full advantage of app functionally. The additional features include controlling two Bluetooth sources, allowing consumers the chance to play from two Pill Plus speakers and also the opportunity to sync two units together for dedicated left and right playback and also a dynamic experience.

These features may be “added value” in order to increase the price instead of being of use to many consumers. The product is priced at $229.95, but it remains to be seen concerning the RRP for other countries and the release date is expected to be around November 2015 for the US.

Thank you businesswire for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of wired

Rock Band 4 Launches Today With Over 1700 Songs Available

Today is the day a lot of people have been looking forward to, I am sure of that. Today is the day that the brand new Rock Band 4 is being released and it looks like it easily could be the best in the series yet. Harmonix and Mad Catz have both been hard at work on this release where Harmonix has created the game and Mad Catz the hardware to go along with it as well as the physical distribution.

Rock Band 4 will be available today, October the 6th, for both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and there will be more than 1700 songs available upon launch. That’s a lot of songs to master. Available products on launch day include the Rock Band 4 video game, stand-alone software, Band-in-a-Box Bundle, and Wireless Fender Stratocaster Guitar Bundle. The Fender bundle will probably be the most popular one, at least that’s my prediction.

Through the Rock Band Music Store, more than 1700 songs will be available on day one. This includes tracks from the series’ incredible back catalog of music but fully updated to include the new gameplay features in Rock Band 4. Players can rock to these tracks and enjoy new Freestyle Guitar Solos, Freestyle Vocals, and Dynamic Drums Fills, even while touring the world with their band in the game’s new expanded campaign.

One of the downsides is that you have to purchase a lot of the songs from the store at a price of $1.99 each, but there is also good news for those who previously played Rock Band in the previous versions. If you already owned a song there and you stay on the same platform, PlayStation or Xbox, then you’ll be able to get those songs again for no additional cost.

Some of the new Tracks available:

  • All That Remains – “Divide”
  • All That Remains – “What If I Was Nothing”
  • BABYMETAL – “Gimme Chocolate!!”
  • Blitz Kids – “Run For Cover”
  • Bring Me The Horizon – “Throne”
  • Dead Sara – “Mona Lisa”
  • Duran Duran – “The Reflex”
  • Earth, Wind & Fire – “September”
  • Interpol – “All The Rage Back Home”
  • Janis Joplin – “Move Over”
  • Jefferson Starship – “Jane”
  • Linkin Park ft. Daron Malakian – “Rebellion”
  • Marilyn Manson – “The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles”
  • Mastodon – “High Road”
  • My Morning Jacket – “One Big Holiday”
  • Of Mice & Men – “Would You Still Be There”
  • Oh Honey – “Sugar, You”
  • Pantera – “Cowboys From Hell (Live From Monsters In Moscow Festival)”
  • Pierce the Veil ft. Kellin Quinn – “King for a Day”
  • Seasick Steve – “Summertime Boy”
  • “Weird Al” Yankovic – “My Own Eyes”
  • The Wild Feathers – “Backwoods Company”

Vinyl Sales More Profitable Than Streaming According to RIAA

In the modern digital age of Spotify, Netflix and other streaming services, you would expect tangible, physical media sales to pale in comparison and become a niche outlet. Surprisingly, this couldn’t be further from the truth as vinyl sales figures have increased 52% year-on-year. In contrast to this, streaming services became more widely used at a 27% rate. Additionally, vinyl sales accounted for $222 million while streaming revenue reached $163 million.

According to data analyst Joshua Friedlander:

“Overall, the music industry has become the most-digital in terms of all traditional media outlets – magazines, newspapers – in terms of transition. There is more optimism out there than there was. Two-thirds of the market is still physical [CDs]. It used to be monolithic. Now it’s a mix of things, a revenue diversification that makes a more stable source to grow off of. [Streaming] services have mostly grown through word of mouth. There hasn’t been a big Spotify advertising push. When you get a player like Apple involved, that really generates a whole new level of awareness”.

The data from the RIAA is fascinating and exemplifies how popular vinyl is becoming with collectors and music enthusiasts. Clearly, the future revolves around streaming technology, but it doesn’t provide the same satisfaction as owning a huge LP with gorgeous artwork. Pink Floyd’s prism design on Dark Side of the Moon is sublime and a visual masterpiece. Vinyl records also contain extras, printed song lyrics and sometimes divulge information about the recording process. I would hate to see the end of album art cover because some of the classic albums feature some of my favourite pieces of artwork. Storm Thorgerson sadly passed away some time ago and produced a huge array of distinctive artwork for Pink Floyd. Surely in 2015, we can find room to properly honor the classics through our love of vinyl.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information. 

Consumer Rights Act 2015 Comes Into Force

The Consumer Rights Act (2015) was enacted into law today which properly outlines the responsibilities retailers have to their customers in a transparent manner. Previously, the Sales of Goods Act (1979) provided information on consumer rights and constituted situations which were eligible for a full refund. Sadly, the Act contained a lack of clarity meaning retailers could use their own judgement to set the duration for returns. As a result, this ambiguity in the law meant it was unknown if 2, 5, or 20 days was enough to allow for a full refund.

Thankfully, the Consumer Rights Act has addressed this head-on and ensures customers can get a refund within 30 days of the initial purchase date if the item is faulty. This seems like a sensible procedure and provides peace-of-mine. Throughout Europe, companies are required by law to uphold a 2-year guarantee, but this only covers manufacturing flaws. Now the Consumer Rights Act is officially valid, customers can get a refund, and not just a replacement model which they might not want. In theory, this also covers digital purchases, meaning any game not-fit-for-purpose has to be exchanged. This becomes quite complicated as a corrupt audio file is easy to replace, but broken games could take months to fix, as shown by Batman Arkham Knight.

Here is a brief rundown of the new legislation’s basic principles:

  • Must be of satisfactory quality, based on what a reasonable person would expect, taking into account the price
  • Must be fit for purpose. If the consumer has a particular purpose in mind, he or she should make that clear
  • Must meet the expectations of the consumer

As with any legal announcement, it will take some time to learn how it applies to digital transactions. Perhaps, a precedent is required to determine its effectiveness for broken games, or poor quality movie streams. Whatever the case, this is a pro-consumer move and should work well alongside Distance Selling Regulations in the UK.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

Google is Launching an Ad-Free Subscription Service Entitled ‘YouTube Red’

According to Recode, Google is preparing to launch a new video service called, ‘YouTube Red’ which offers an ad-free experience and relies on a subscription model. This has been in production for some time and many YouTube viewers have speculated about a subscription-based service since Google took the helm.

Supposedly, a number of e-mails have been sent to channel owners informing them of the new website and outlining the legal framework which they must agree to. Sadly, we do not know the pricing structure of YouTube Red but it seems likely to be around $9.99 to compete with Spotify. To clarify, YouTube Red is designed with music streaming in mind and includes Play Music Unlimited.

Google is set to trial the website on October 22nd in the USA with other regions to follow at a later date. It’s unknown if the service offers simple music videos and audio streams or a way to access your favourite YouTube channels without adverts. Nevertheless, it’s certainly an intriguing development and signifies Google’s approach to make the YouTube brand expand into other paid avenues. Although, it’s unknown if this will be enough to tempt users away from Spotify or accept any YouTube service with a paid model.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information.

Halo Music And Menus Now Available Through Your Browser

For a while now we have been introduced to many games which are called “exclusive”, games which are normally built especially for a single console or series of consoles. The rarity often means that people will flock to those consoles to play these games, and this often means that the games themselves are made in part by the company that owns that console. Examples include the likes of Killzone for Sony’s Playstation (even if Sony do have a legal battle over advertisement) or even the Gears Of War series for Microsoft’s Xbox series (New remastered version available for PC and Xbox). One of the more popular series is Halo, originally built for the PC and Xbox, it has quickly become an exclusive for the Xbox series, with the occasional game for mobiles and tablets. Now thought you can enjoy all of Halo’s main menus (music included) in your web browser.

Halome.nu hopes to scratch that itch you have when you leave your Xbox and TV on just so that you can listen to the soothing music that once welcomed you to the field of battle with the Covenant. With the menus and music from not only Halo 1, 2 and 3 but also ODST (orbital drop shock troop), Reach and Halo 4, its possible to listen to the music for hours on end with a surprisingly calming and relaxing tone.

With series like Halo: Forward Onto Dawn and Nightfall expanding the halo universe from books to movies and series, soon you might hear just a little bit more about Master Chief.

 

Spotify’s CEO Clarifies New Privacy Policy After Controversy

Spotify’s updated terms and conditions page has caused outrage amongst users and resulted in a number of high profile individuals to cancel their membership. To access the Spotify streaming service, you need to accept a privacy policy which allows the company access to sensitive data including pictures, videos, messages and contact numbers. The official statement reads:

“With your permission, we may collect information stored on your mobile device, such as contacts, photos, or media files. Local law may require that you seek the consent of your contacts to provide their personal information to Spotify, which may use that information for the purposes specified in this Privacy Policy.” 

“Depending on the type of device that you use to interact with the Service and your settings, we may also collect information about your location based on, for example, your phone’s GPS location or other forms of locating mobile devices (e.g., Bluetooth). We may also collect sensor data (e.g., data about the speed of your movements, such as whether you are running, walking, or in transit).”

“You may integrate your Spotify account with Third Party Applications. If you do, we may receive similar information related to your interactions with the Service on the Third Party Application, as well as information about your publicly available activity on the Third Party Application. This includes, for example, your “Like”s and posts on Facebook.”

Unfortunately, Spotify’s handling of the new agreement has been fairly forthright and doesn’t really care if you disagree with the terms:

“If you don’t agree with the terms of this Privacy Policy, then please don’t use the Service.”

Markus Persson, creator of Minecraft, has been critical of the policy and believes the data snooping is a complete breach of privacy.  In lieu of the negative press, Spotify’s CEO has issued a statement to address people’s fears:

“In our new privacy policy, we indicated that we may ask your permission to access new types of information, including photos, mobile device location, voice controls, and your contacts.”

“Let me be crystal clear here: If you don’t want to share this kind of information, you don’t have to. We will ask for your express permission before accessing any of this data – and we will only use it for specific purposes that will allow you to customize your Spotify experience.”

According to Spotify, your data can only be accessed if you give express permission. However, does this mean an opt-in process? I’m quite sceptical as you have to agree to the new terms and conditions before accessing the service. This could constitute as a green light for Spotify to monitor you data usage and even sell it to third parties. Subsequently, I believe Spotify needs to go further and clarify the impact of accepting the privacy policy’s terms.

Van Halen “Jump” Into Rock Band 4

Rock Band 4’s music library includes a wealth of iconic artists including Aerosmith, Avenged Sevenfold, The Black Keys, Elvis Presley, Fall Out Boy, Foo Fighters, Jack White, Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, St. Vincent, Queens of the Stone Age, The Who, and for the first time, Van Halen! On launch, fans will be able to rock out to Van Halen’s legendary hit track, “Panama” with more songs to come in the future. According to the Harmonix’s CEO, Steve Janiak,

“For years we’ve wanted to bring Van Halen’s music to Rock Band,”

“Not only are the songs incredible in their own right, but they’re amazingly fun to play and perform, whether you’re on guitar, bass, drums, or vocals.”

In terms of gameplay, Rock Band 4 maintains the quintessential full-band experience whilst adding Freestyle Guitar solos. Also, there will be in excess of 1500 downloadable tracks on the Rock Band Music Store. With such an extensive library, there should something to suit your style. I’m pleased to see the resurgence of music-based games but I prefer Rocksmith because the software is built around learning a proper instrument. Nevertheless, Guitar Hero and Rock Band are exceptionally fun at parties.

Rock Band 4 is scheduled for release on October 6th and will be available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Please note, launch hardware might be limited so pre-orders are highly recommended.

Samsung Announces Premium Wireless Pro Headphones

Samsung has expanded its headphone range into the luxury market to compete with designer fashion brands such as Beats. The Level On Wireless Pro features dual 40mm drivers to produce a rich, warm and premium-grade UHQA sound. This means the headphones are capable of sound quality higher than a CD’s Bit-rate and embellishes the qualities of SACD or similar formats. Additionally, the sound is directed through Active Noise Cancellation to eliminate background noise

In terms of build quality, the headphones contain a memory foam cushion which enhances comfort and makes them easier to withstand for long periods. However, the plastic housing, and “LEVEL” branding on the cups is pretty horrid and looks quite cheap. Although, I’ve always believed the same about Beats headphones and they remain ridiculously popular among a certain demographic.

 

Another inclusion is Samsung’s Smart Touch technology which allows you to adjust the volume and cycle between tracks directly on the headphones. This isn’t too exciting considering most headphones utilize an in-line remote. Possibly the most interesting development is the Talk-In Mode. This disables the noise cancellation and lets you experience background noises to increase safety as you walk across busy roads. The battery life revolves around BlueTooth 4.1 and is predicted to last up to 18 hours of standard play time.

While these headphones have a place in the audio market, I’m clearly not the target customer. For me audio quality is paramount and I’ve been using Bang & Olufsen headphones for some time. However, Samsung believes they can encourage enough people to move from Beats to their “LEVEL” brand and only time will tell.

iTunes is Deemed Illegal According to UK Copyright Law

The UK Government’s tirade against common sense has hit absurd levels and shown how outdated the copyright legal framework is. Towards the end of last year, the UK’s infamous Intellectual Property Office acknowledged how Draconian the law was and decided to make CD ripping legal. Only a few months later, this measure was revoked after several music labels protested in the High Court.

To find out what these changes actually entailed, TorrentFreak requested information from the IPO. A spokesperson clearly said,

“It is now unlawful to make private copies of copyright works you own, without permission from the copyright holder – this includes format shifting from one medium to another.”

This means that the integrated ripping feature in iTunes makes it an illegal piece of software and no different to downloading any pirated content. The software is in direct contravention of copyright law. Even more laughable, the law also applies to backups and cloud-based storage. A Government official explained,

“…it includes creating back-ups without permission from the copyright holder as this necessarily involves an act of copying,”

Technically, the law forces you to repurchase any physical media content if you want to use a portable, digital version. Stupid measures like this only encourage piracy and make consumers feel like criminals. If the music industry offered cross purchasing, or an open model, people would be less inclined to illegally download content. Spotify is the perfect example of a pro-consumer measure which has a positive effect and can reduce the piracy rate.

The Government themselves even admitted how silly the law is and said,

“As this is a complex area of law, the Government is carefully considering the implications of the ruling and the available options, before deciding any future course of action.”

“The Government is not aware of any cases of copyright holders having prosecuted individuals for format shifting music solely for their own personal use,”

Despite the reassurances, it is perfectly legal and feasible for anyone to be sued by copyright holders for backing up their physical media collection, or using iTunes. Governments change but their out-of-touch laws and pathetic pandering to media companies remains the same.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Wing Commander 4 Intro with Remastered Orchestral Score Shown Off

Being a kid in the 90s allowed me to grow up along with some pretty amazing games and I was a huge fan of space simulation games. There were the X-Wing and Tie-Fighter games, but also the Wing Commander series that gave the space-fight and simulation fans a battleground to play on.

George Oldziey is the composer behind the music from three of the Wing Commander games and last year he launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter with the goal to record an orchestral version of the Wing Commander music, the way he had in mind when creating it. The fans weren’t shy to donate and the funding quickly raised over $40,000.

We can now get a first look into what that sounds like as he Oldziey uploaded a remix video with some of the recordings already done. The word remix is used as he didn’t have access to the original footage for this video, so the orchestral music is just put on top of the original video. This results in the music being a lot louder than the voice acting and it isn’t perfect. But it’s the music we want to hear here anyway, so that is okay and it sounds like it should. Somehow space and orchestral music just go great together, don’t; you think?

Thank You Cliqist for providing us with this information

Government Changes Mind – Ripping CD’s Now Illegal Again

Left Right Left Right, the government doesn’t quite seem to have a solid stance on the process of ripping your albums and movies. After being made legal last year, it would seem that the high court has once again ruled it should be illegal to copy a CD for whatever purposes.

The ruling last year stated that you could make a copy of CD for purposes such as a backup, or copy the music to an MP3 player or another such device (yes that’s right, it’s been illegal all along). You could do this as long as the original media (cd, film, ext..) had been acquired legally and that you didn’t share the content with anyone else.

The change in policy has been seen as a great move by UKMusic, who represent musicians, songwriters and others involved in the musical industry. In a statement, they said that the “Government acted unlawfully when it introduced an exception to copyright for private copying without fair compensation”.

An alternative plan to replace the funds lost by you copying that album from a CD to an MP3 would have been for MP3’s, CD’s, Blu-Rays and DVD’s to have a special tax put on them, with the funds going to the music and movie industries.

So if I’m understanding this right, because you buy a CD (therefore supporting the music industry and the company which produced it) you shouldn’t be allowed to copy that music to a backup disk for when the original breaks or even to your iPod or MP3. Seems to me like companies just don’t want people buying the CD’s anymore, because if it’s deemed illegal to do so and they start acting on it, people will stop buying physical copies and then we will no doubt see complaints about their lack of CD sales being negatively impacted.

Thank you Ars Technica or the information.

Image courtesy of DuplicationCentre.

Marshall Announces Their Very First Music Dedicated Smartphone

When you hear of Marshall, you are thinking about speakers, headphones or dedicated music gadgets for your instruments. But a Marshall smartphone? That’s something completely new and somewhat interesting.

While Marshall is just ‘borrowing’ the name and not building the actual handset, the thing itself looks pretty good. However, the specs seem a bit low for what they are asking for the flashgrip. It is said that it bears a 4.7-inch 720p IPS LCD screen, Quad-Core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 410 CPU, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 8-megapixel camera and a removable 2500mAh battery. Oh yeah, and it also has a MicroSD slot to help extend your storage, should you want to put more music on it.

The flashgrip’s key parts, being a Marshall and all, stand in its music-oriented parts. The handset is said to come with two (loud) front-facing speakers, two headphone jacks, a dedicated button for launching your favourite music app at the top and, surprisingly, a volume rocker to adjust the handset volume. Also, Wolfson seems to handle the audio hub, coming with a Wolfson WM8281 Audio Hub. If you haven’t heard about them, they seem to be named the best in the mobile audio solutions.

What we haven’t mentioned is that the flashgrip is powered by the Android 5.0.2 Lollipop OS and comes with a lot of customized music apps. The Marshall handset will be released in the UK, Scandinavia and Baltic states on August 21st, with a price tag of £399. But really now, is it worth the money they ask for what they offer? What do you think?

Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information

Rumours Suggest iPod Refresh Coming Next Week

Apple are planning to revitalize their traditional iPod range according to a report from French media outlet, iGen. Sources close to the website claim the iPod Touch will receive a technical makeover and transition to a 64-bit architecture. It’s still unknown which processor Apple will adopt but the most likely culprit is the iPhone 5’s A7 chip. Additionally, the iPod Touch alongside the Nano and Shuffle are set to receive a batch of new colours including pink, gold, and dark blue.

At the moment, this is all pure speculation and the 14th July date is based on code embedded in the latest iTunes 12.2 software. Considering Apple is perusing their own music service and attempting to dethrone Spotify, it makes sense to return to their musical roots. However, it is quite surprising as Apple’s focus has been on integrating various services and applications into a higher priced unit. The majority of consumers use their mobile phone for music listening purposes and the need to carry another device around seems rather outdated.

As with any Apple product, I expect the pricing to remain virtually identical to current offerings. Perhaps Apple are thinking about developing a portable music streaming device which relies on 3G connectivity. The problem with that idea is the lack of constant networking unless you pay for a premium data package.

Do you feel the iPod is still useful in 2015?

Thank you AppleInsider for providing us with this information.

Facebook Wants to Roll Out Their Own Music App

Since Apple released the iOS 8.4 update along with their Apple Music feature, we saw a lot of users taking an interest in it. Reports say that iOS 8.4 now has an adoption rate of over 40% and the number keeps rising. And since Apple has settled with the royalty rates paid to the people in the music industry, things are just looking up for their service.

Facebook looks like it took a big interest in this success and seems to have put its smartphone manufacturing plans on hold. Sources say that Facebook is now looking to either acquire or built their own music service from scratch. Music Ally tells that sources talking off the record say Facebook is using an aggressive monetization approach and a lot of intellectual property acquisitions.

The sources also say that Facebook might have the service, or at least a rough version of it, ready in a few months, but an actual commercial app should be ready by next year. If the latter provides to be true, we might see an even bigger competitor in the music streaming market. So we have Apple taking away a lot of customers as of late, and then Facebook seems to make a move and try to take a big chunk of the market too. The reasonable question to ask is, what will Spotify do? Will it come with something radical, or will it radically die out?

Thank you VR-Zone for providing us with this information