Apple to Buy Beats for $3 Billion: Largest Deal in its History

Apple announced yesterday that it has agreed to purchase Beats Electronics for $3 billion, in a deal that is expected to help the tech giant better compete with subscription-based music services. As anticipated based on earlier reports, Apple will offer the Beats streaming music service, built on curated playlists, and its premium headphones under a separate Beats brand, while the iTunes music store and streaming radio platform will be offered alongside the Beats music service. The Beats deal marks the largest acquisition in Apple’s history. Continue reading Apple to Buy Beats for $3 Billion: Largest Deal in its History

Mortar Data Makes it Easier to Build Recommendation Engines

Mortar Data, a New York-based company known for building and hosting custom big data applications, recently announced the launch of a recommendation engine platform that allows anyone to build their own system, and use it with their own data, for free. Recommendation systems are becoming increasingly popular, and have become a gold mine for big companies such as Pandora and Netflix, which use the services to make recommendations based on customer history. Continue reading Mortar Data Makes it Easier to Build Recommendation Engines

Mobile Apps and Infotainment for Cars Shifting into High Gear

Earlier this week, we reported that GM is getting ready to release more than 30 new vehicles equipped with built-in 4G LTE service provided by AT&T. A number of new models from various automakers are also looking to become rolling Wi-Fi hot spots this year as car and app makers make the long-awaited push into new software and communications links. New models will feature dashboard electronics that make it easier to access smartphone apps for traffic, weather, news, entertainment and more. Continue reading Mobile Apps and Infotainment for Cars Shifting into High Gear

GM Scheduled to Launch Cars Equipped with 4G LTE Service

General Motors released prices for its first vehicles equipped with built-in LTE 4G, essentially turning the cars into rolling Wi-Fi hot spots. The automaker will launch its 2015 models in the next month, and plans to release more than 30 new vehicles with LTE broadband connectivity, as well as numerous new communications, safety, and navigation services. The communications service will be provided by AT&T, and the cars will come with a free, three-month trial with three gigabytes of data. Continue reading GM Scheduled to Launch Cars Equipped with 4G LTE Service

Apple Reportedly Getting Ready to Spend $3.2 Billion on Beats

Insiders say Apple is in talks for a proposed $3.2 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics, which would provide Apple with Beats’ headphone business and recently-launched subscription music service. Although Apple disrupted the music business when it launched iTunes in 2003, it has recently faced declining download sales as consumers increasingly turn to subscription services. If the Beats deal goes through, it would be Apple CEO Tim Cook’s boldest and most expensive acquisition to date. Continue reading Apple Reportedly Getting Ready to Spend $3.2 Billion on Beats

Rdio to Launch Free, Ad-Supported Music Service This Year

Music service Rdio is planning a free, ad-supported offering to launch later this year. The service is also expected to add more non-music content and morning shows from Cumulus, which became a significant investor in Rdio last year. Some of that may include sports and talk show content from WestWood One, which Cumulus recently acquired. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey introduced the new ad-supported model during a Q1 earnings call earlier this week. Continue reading Rdio to Launch Free, Ad-Supported Music Service This Year

Labels File Copyright Suit Against Pandora Under State Law

Major record labels Sony, Universal and Warner Music, along with indie label ABKCO, filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan last week, claiming that streaming music service Pandora is violating New York’s common-law copyright protections by using songs recorded prior to 1972 without licenses. The suit acknowledges that older songs are not protected under federal copyright, but contends that Pandora needs permission to use them under state law. Continue reading Labels File Copyright Suit Against Pandora Under State Law

Apple to Integrate Sound Recognition App Shazam into iOS 8

Apple is planning to include a song discovery feature in the newest update of iOS, which will allow users to identify songs and artists with their iPad or iPhone. Apple is working with Shazam, an app that can quickly recognize a song by collecting sound from the device’s microphone and matching it with an extensive song database. Apple hopes the feature will help encourage download sales. Although iTunes is the world’s largest music seller, sales have decreased dramatically in recent years.  Continue reading Apple to Integrate Sound Recognition App Shazam into iOS 8

Pro Music Curators Create Specialized Playlists for Listeners

The access to millions of songs on Spotify, Pandora and other online music streaming services has music fans feeling overwhelmed. Some fans are now turning to professional music curators to help them identify the best songs for their specific mood. Professional playlist makers typically do not compile mixes based on broad genres or decades, but instead, they create mixes for specific occasions or emotional states, such as a family road trip or a sad break-up. Continue reading Pro Music Curators Create Specialized Playlists for Listeners

Apple iAd Workbench Makes Campaign Creation Open to All

Apple just opened its iAd Workbench tool to the public, making mobile ad campaign creation and management accessible to anyone with an Apple ID. The Web-based platform — previously only available to registered mobile app developers — will allow users to launch, track and adjust their advertising campaigns. The ads can contain videos, and direct viewers to a separate website or promoted iTunes content, but only work for ads on an iOS phone or tablet. Continue reading Apple iAd Workbench Makes Campaign Creation Open to All

Sonos Search Engine Can Play Any Song in Multiple Rooms

Wireless audio company Sonos has launched a redesign that will provide users with a universal search, essentially enabling them to play any song in the world. The innovation can pull songs from a user’s MP3 collection and from over two dozen streaming music services including Pandora, Spotify, and Beats Music, and play the music throughout multiple rooms. For the past decade Sonos has been making wireless multiroom audio systems, but previously they only functioned with Sonos software. Continue reading Sonos Search Engine Can Play Any Song in Multiple Rooms

Pandora Points to Royalty Costs for Jump in Subscription Rate

Pandora announced that it plans to increase the monthly subscription rate to its premium, ad-free Pandora One service by 25 percent for new subscribers starting in May (an increase from $3.99-a-month to $4.99-a-month). “The costs of delivering this service have grown considerably,” explains the Pandora Blog. “For example, the royalty rates Pandora pays to performers via SoundExchange for subscription listening have increased 53 percent in the last five years and will increase another 9 percent in 2015.” Continue reading Pandora Points to Royalty Costs for Jump in Subscription Rate

Newsbeat Creates Custom Radio Show Based on Your Interests

Last week the Tribune Company released a new iOS and Android app called Newsbeat, which plans to change how we consume our daily news by offering a more personalized podcast-like experience. Newsbeat has access to more than 7,000 sources from major newspapers to smaller blogs. Users can specify what types of stories and publications they are interested in, and the app will create a customized newscast by using Pandora-like artificial intelligence technology. Continue reading Newsbeat Creates Custom Radio Show Based on Your Interests

Billy Chasen Shutters Turntable.fm, Launches New Social App

Turntable.fm founder Billy Chasen announced that the service is officially closing, “ending one of the most compelling experiments in music discovery to ever hit the Web,” suggests The Verge. Chasen attempted to play by the rules, paying every time a song was streamed, which eventually proved to be too expensive. He believes that the music industry is stifling innovation and digital startups. For his next venture, Chasen is going social with Ketchup, a free app he launched last month. Continue reading Billy Chasen Shutters Turntable.fm, Launches New Social App

Judge Rules in Royalty Lawsuit Between Pandora and ASCAP

In somewhat anticlimactic fashion, the lengthy, dramatic battle regarding what digital music service Pandora should pay ASCAP ended Friday when U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled that Pandora should continue to pay the performing rights organization what it has been paying through 2015. Pandora had argued that it should pay less than the current 1.85 percent of revenue, while ASCAP had argued for an escalating rate structure that would require Pandora to pay 2.5 percent of revenue for 2013 and 3 percent in 2015. Continue reading Judge Rules in Royalty Lawsuit Between Pandora and ASCAP

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