Is the iPad and GarageBand Changing the Face of Music Production?

  • Apple’s iPad is becoming a production tool for both professional and amateur musicians.
  • One band, The Ultramods, produced their recent album in two weeks using only GarageBand on the iPad.
  • Damon Albarn’s hip-hop project, Gorillaz, combines real vocals and instruments with synthesizers using a collection of apps including Korg iELECTRIBE, Moog Filatron and FunkBox Drum Machine. According to Pocket-lint: “It perfectly illustrates the convenience of being able to lay down tracks on a device, while on the move, with no access to a desktop computer or studio.”
  • Accessory brand Griffin’s PR director, Jackie Ballinger explains the benefits of tablets for musicians: “Technology, like the iPad enables musicians to become mobile without losing quality, now people are able to make music anywhere without limitations and without substantial costs. With the iPad and relevant apps a less costly alternative to recording studios and instruments, aspiring musicians have the opportunity to produce professional recording using solely these means.”
  • The article points out that Apple’s GarageBand is the top-selling music app on the iTunes store, and with “iPad prices starting at $499, along with the $4.99 for the GarageBand, that puts the basic cost of The Ultramods’ album production at just under $505.”

Next-Gen Music Retrieval: Free Million-Song Dataset Released by Echo Nest

  • The Million Song Dataset has been released for free by The Echo Nest music application company to facilitate research into music recommendation engines. The dataset consists of audio features and metadata (but not the actual music) for a million popular music tracks.
  • Ars Technica reports that the dataset is a “freely-available collection of audio features and metadata for a million contemporary popular music tracks,” being analyzed by Columbia University’s Laboratory for the Recognition and Organization of Speech and Audio.
  • Currently, services like Pandora make use of musicologists to catalog the characteristics of songs. Researchers are looking at methods for computers to analyze songs in order to make recommendations based on your preferences. The dataset could potentially be used to develop a new generation of Music Information Retrieval services.
  • The National Science Foundation is also conducting The Listening Machine Project which is focused on analyzing “the individual sources present in a real-world sound recording,” which could lead to improved perception for robots, new prosthetic devices for hearing impaired and “a wide range of novel applications in content-based multimedia indexing,” explained LMP’s Dan Ellis, associate professor of Electrical Engineering at Columbia.

iHeartRadio App to Feature Intelligent Playlists: Will it Take on Pandora?

  • An upgraded iHeartRadio will be released by Clear Channel in a few weeks, to be kickstarted by a two-day music festival in Las Vegas.
  • The service is Clear Channel’s answer to Pandora, which now has more than 100 million users.
  • A key feature of the new iHeartRadio app will be playlist creation based on an “intelligence platform” from Echo Nest that will reportedly incorporate 5 billion pieces of information collected from 15,000 music blogs.
  • According to Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese, his company has processed 30 million songs in the past 12 months, while Pandora has categorized 800,000 tracks in the past 10 years.
  • “Echo Nest provides similar technology to MTV, The BBC, MOG and Rhapsody,” reports Radio Ink.

Music Integration: Will Facebook Become an All-In-One Social Media Hub?

  • Facebook has informed media executives that it will begin allowing online music services such as Spotify and Rdio to publish user activity on Facebook pages and could allow music playback without leaving the site.
  • The announcement is part of Facebook’s efforts to become a social center for media including music, games and movies.
  • According to The Wall Street Journal: “CNBC reported Wednesday that Facebook was working to create a music platform. In response, Facebook said: ‘Many of the most popular music services around the world are integrated with Facebook and we’re constantly talking to our partners about ways to improve these integrations.'”
  • Facebook was reportedly encouraged to pursue the music plan following success with social games such as “FarmVille” by Zynga Inc. The social media site is also integrating movies through deals with the likes of Warner Bros.

MOG Offers More than 11 Million Streaming Songs for Boxee Users

  • Subscription online music service MOG has announced the availability of its new app for the Boxee Box by D-Link.
  • According to the press release: “MOG is the first on-demand music service providing unlimited music in high quality, 320 kbps, to be offered as a native app for Boxee. Listeners can now enjoy MOG’s HQ audio through this new living room offering, featuring a wireless remote keypad for quick searches of MOG’s 11.5-million song catalog on a user’s connected TV.”
  • You can test drive MOG free for 14 days, reports Engadget. After the trial period, you have a choice of the $4.99/month basic account or $9.99/month Primo account.
  • The Boxee Box costs $199.

Virtual Jukebox: Collaborative AirPlay Streaming Music App

  • Bowers & Wilkins has launched a free app that enables users to stream music from wirelessly connected Apple devices for playback on any AirPlay-enabled player, such as the Zeppelin Air iPod dock.
  • “There are many fantastic mobile apps that allow you to stream music, but the Zeppelin Air App is the first of its kind that enables users to share music and create collaborative playlists with friends, mobile device to mobile device,” explains Paul McCarthy of App Developer Aurnhammer. “Bowers & Wilkins has essentially created a wireless, virtual jukebox.”
  • “The app lets every person with an ‘i’ device contribute to a party’s playlist,” reports MarketNews. “The music can first be compiled through the app, then arranged to the organizer’s liking before it’s officially sent to the AirPlay device for playback.”
  • An open WiFi network and AirPlay is required to use the app. AirPlay requires iTunes 10.1 or later and an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

iTunes Match: Supports Downloading AND Streaming from the Cloud

  • Apple’s iTunes Match went live to developers for testing this week and music “streaming” from the cloud is reportedly already up and running.
  • If the hype is accurate, the TechCrunch article header from Dennis Kuba’s story submission may prove telling: “With iTunes In The Cloud, Apple Under-Promises And Over-Delivers.”
  • Apple enthusiasts are excited to see what shakes out this fall with iOS 5 and iCloud. Yesterday, TechCrunch reported: “Tonight brought perhaps the biggest surprise revelation yet: iTunes in the Cloud will support streaming as well as downloading of music.”
  • There is also speculation that this announcement may lead to a possible “cloud iPhone.” Rumors are making the rounds that Apple might unveil a low-cost iPhone 4 (with minimal on-board storage) alongside its new iPhone 5 release. If iTunes has streaming functionality, the low-cost version of the iPhone could rely on the cloud for content.
  • Be sure to check out the iTunes Match videos included in the post.
  • TechCrunch recently added an update: “There’s some debate going on right now about whether or not this is technically streaming. Even Apple is avoiding the term, as Peter Kafka points out. There are two reasons for this — reasons Google follows as well with their service.”

Social Media: MTV Video Music Awards Scores Highest-Ever Audience

  • Despite having no host on Sunday, MTV’s 2011 Video Music Awards ramped up audience engagement through social media.
  • MTV delivered pictures and videos to their audience in realtime through their second screen application and social media channels.
  • Fans could track what celebrities were tweeting about, and who was tweeting the most. The application also showed which celebrities and content generated the most buzz. (Celebrities who did not tweet during the event could have missed out in a big way.)
  • The awards program scored its highest-ever ratings, pulling in 12.4 million viewers. “Not only was this year’s show the most-watched in the history of the Video Music Awards’ 27-year history,” reports Rolling Stone, “but it was also the highest-rated telecast in the 30-year history of the network.”

Check Out this New 3D Virtual Sound Technology from KDDI Labs

  • Japanese R&D firm KDDI Labs announced it has developed 3D audio technology that enables people to change their listening position in a 3D space.
  • “Multiple microphones are used to record the audio and a unique method of audio signal processing, called virtual sound source reproduction, is used to map out the sound in a virtual 3D space in real time,” explains Akihabara News. “This can generate an unlimited number of listening positions, even in locations where there are no microphones. This technology also lets you change where sounds come from or remove them from the 3D space altogether.”
  • KDDI Labs says it has made the large database required to synthesize 3D audio much smaller (down to a few hundred kilobytes in size) so that the technology can be used for mobile devices such as smartphones.
  • According to KDDI Labs: “For example, suppose you’re watching a band on screen, and you want to get close to the guitar. As you get nearer to the guitar, the sound of the guitar gets much louder. The effect we’ve achieved now is that, if you move, for example, left from that position past the vocalist, the sound moves left. Another thing you can do with this technology is to change the position of instruments. So you can make the vocalist sound further away, and the guitar closer. Specifically, in music promotion videos, we’d like to enable users to get close to their favorite instrument, or eliminate just the vocals, and to do these things on a smartphone or cellphone.”
  • KDDI is developing an application that runs on a Web browser with hopes of commercializing the technology. The report includes a video demo.

iTunes on Movie Share Upswing: Report Credits AirPlay and iPad

  • The recent IHS Screen Digest Media Research report indicates that Apple’s iTunes held the number one spot for movie electronic sell-through (EST) and Internet video on demand (iVOD) with 65.8 percent of the market in the first half of 2011. The Zune Video Marketplace was second with 16.2 percent, while Walmart’s Vudu came in third with 5.3 percent.
  • The research suggests much of Apple’s success can be traced to AirPlay which allows you to stream wirelessly to other devices including TVs.
  • “IHS believes that the ability to stream media from Macs or iOS devices to an Apple TV or third-party AirPlay receiver has prompted users to buy more movies from iTunes — presumably so they can AirPlay them to somewhere else,” reports Ars Technica.
  • It should be noted that Amazon spent this period shifting its strategy to streaming video on demand (SVOD), which IHS ranks in a separate space from iVOD. According to the article: “Amazon still saw a small bump from 4 percent in the first half of 2010 to 4.2 percent a year later, showing that users are still sticking by Amazon’s ‘old’ service.”

Federal Ruling on Cloud Music: Happy Days for Apple, Google and Amazon

  • A federal judge has ruled that online music services that host tracks in the cloud are not liable if that music has been acquired illegally by customers. ETCentric reported earlier this week that this may seem like a hollow victory for the record labels. However, a green light for online music locker services also provides some legal certainty for the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon.
  • “The judgement, by U.S. District Judge William Pauley, came in a case involving EMI and fourteen other record companies and music publishers, who had sued the service MP3tunes,” reports MacUser. “Judge Pauley explained that MP3tunes and its chief executive, Michael Robertson, had not breached the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in allowing downloads.”
  • “This is a huge victory. Users can still download songs from publicly available websites, and store them without a separate license fee, so long as MP3tunes complies with takedown notices,” says Greg Gulia, representing MP3tunes and Robertson.
  • This ruling should also come as good news to those companies investing in cloud-based music services. For example, Apple’s iTunes Match is due in the U.S. later this year. According to MacUser: “It will scan users’ iTunes libraries and allow them to access versions of tracks in their library, but not purchased from iTunes, online in iCloud. Tracks purchased in iTunes are automatically available to computers and mobile devices associated with an iTunes account. If no match is found, users will be able to upload the track themselves.”

Internet Radio for Vehicles Set To Explode: Pandora Driving Demand

  • The number of vehicles worldwide with Internet radio service is projected to grow from 168,000 in 2010 to 24 million in 2018, according to IHS iSuppli.
  • U.S. sales alone are expected to move from 149,000 to 10.9 million during the same period.
  • “The next several years will see an explosion in the use of in-vehicle apps in cars, driven by booming shipments of automobiles employing head units designed to integrate Cloud-based content,” says IHS. “These apps, whether built into cars or provided via connected mobile devices like smartphones, will provide a range of infotainment, entertainment, remote diagnostics and navigation services. Internet radio is expected to lead the in-vehicle app revolution.”
  • The study concludes that the following are currently driving demand: Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker and Spotify (and in the Cloud: Apple’s iCloud, Google Music and Amazon’s Cloud Drive).

Judge Rules Against MP3tunes: Hollow Victory for Record Labels?

  • While a judge has ruled against MP3tunes and founder, Michael Robertson, for copyright infringement, the details of the ruling may provide online music locker businesses like those from Google and Amazon with a better legal foundation.
  • A key finding is that users, not MP3tunes, had the ability to determine which files were placed in their lockers.
  • Also, it was determined that DMCA does not require one to investigate potentially infringing activity without a specific complaint from copyright holders.
  • “The news is even better for Google and Amazon,” according to Ars Technica. “Those companies’ music locker services do not even offer the broad sideloading functionality that has caused Robertson legal headaches. So if Judge Pauley’s reasoning survives appeal, Google and Amazon will be on solid legal ground. Indeed, those companies may even want to start thinking about whether they’ve been too cautious. For example, they might save a lot of money by taking advantage of the deduplication part of the ruling.”

BBM Music Service: Too Little, Too Late?

  • Research In Motion may roll out BBM Music, a new music service designed to work with BlackBerry Messenger, as early as this week.
  • RIM has nearly completed deals for the service with Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment, Access Industries Inc.’s Warner Music Group, and EMI Group Ltd.
  • Subscribers would only get access to 50 songs but they can share them with other Blackberry Messenger users.
  • The service will reportedly cost less than $10/month and is not intended to compete with the likes of iTunes or Spotify. “Instead, the BlackBerry service is supposed to help younger users ‘customize’ their phones and share their songs with friends.,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

Musicians Turn to Location Technologies for Creative Fan Interaction

  • ETCentric has featured a number of compelling reports regarding how mobile- and location-based technologies are making their way into the music world. Some very creative uses for location data are currently being implemented by musicians. For example…
  • Arcade Fire’s “The Wilderness Downtown” website asks viewers for an address and then incorporates Google Maps footage of that location into their music video. The band worked with video director Chris Milk, Google to create a fascinating HTML5 multi-browser experience.
  • OK Go (a big fan of technology with a reputation for media experimentation) asked fans to create GPS journeys that the band then edited into one of their music videos.
  • Panic at the Disco asked fans to send their videos of a recent 23-city tour that they will cut into their video. The band teamed up with the Viddy app launched in May (the “Instagram for video” allows users to create stylized videos and share them on social networks).
  • Bluebrain’s “National Mall” album adapts to your GPS location when using their app while walking around the Mall in downtown Washington, DC. Selections from three hours of recordings are designed to correspond to your physical location in the Mall. The band is working on a similar album/app that will be tied to Central Park in New York City.
  • Is this part of an emerging trend? Check out the music videos posted on the Mashable write-up and draw your own conclusions.

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