Rhapsody International looks to handle recommendations internally
Rhapsody International, the company that houses both Rhapsody and Napster music streaming services, says it is cutting ties with the music recommendation system The Echo Nest. The move comes not long after Spotify purchased The Echo Nest for an undisclosed sum at the beginning of March.
Downloadable albums, revamped music library
Music service Rhapsody has updated its application for Windows Phone 8, adding a number of new features. The revised software includes a number of changes to work fully with the operating system as well as some cosmetic alterations, and now offers subscribers an option to listen to downloaded music offline.
Capture adds options to editing, upload process
Google has launched YouTube Capture, a new app for the iPhone and iPod touch. The title lets people shoot video specifically for uploading to YouTube. Unlike Apple's native Camera app, though, Capture includes a variety of editing functions, including not just trimming but color correction, stabilization, and the option of adding backing music. Once a video is ready, it can be uploaded to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Google+ simultaneously. The app is a free download and requires iOS 5.
Canada receives French-language video channel on console
Microsoft has added more apps to the Xbox 360 game console's already sizeable catalog, with an update that covers North America and parts of Europe. The key app additions this time lie in the US, where gamers will be able to watch original content from Blip.TV, as well as access the wide catalog available to Rhapsody users.
New app allows for music discovery with one click
Rhapsody announced today the first in a line of new mobile music apps, showing off Rhapsody SongMatch, which allows users to discover detailed information on songs with just a few clicks. The new app, free in Google's Play Store, listens to whatever song is playing and identifies the artist, song name, and album. Users can then store the song for later or share it.
MetroPCS makes over data plan tiers, intros caps
MetroPCS has just revamped its LTE smartphone plans. The unlimited plan is up by $10 per month, now at $70, and is the only one whose speeds won't be throttled. It does include unlimited voice, texting, and data, however, along with the MetroSTUDIO Video on Demand service. The option has disappeared to pick between MetroSTUDIO and Rhapsody Unlimited.
Native app brings HD audio to the PC desktop
Mog has posted a new app for Windows desktop owners. With it, subscribers can listen to music from the music service's catalog of over 14 million songs on their windows PC as well as their mobile device or Mac. The app features a native audio decoder for improved audio playback quality.
Spotify refused to split up catalog for Adele
Spotify doesn't have Adele's Grammy-winning album, 21, available to its non-paying subscribers because the artist's reps didn't want the songs available to those who aren't paying a subscription fee. The streaming music service does offer the option to listen to all of its content if they agree to ads instead of paying a monthly fee. Spotify didn't want to split up the catalog, sources told FastCompany.
Enhances user experience and friendliness
Rhapsody has pushed out a revamped version of its Android app for tablets. The latest version, 188.8.131.520, is optimized for devices with nine-inch or larger screens and running Android 3.0 or later (free, Market). The subscription music download provider claims the new version is "more engaging, more touchable, with loads of content and new paths to music discovery."
LTE plans now start at $50 for Android Lineup
MetroPCS has dropped its lowest-cost "unlimited" LTE wireless phone plan. The no-contract carrier first offered the $40 LTE plan last January. Its lowest price for voice, text, and enhanced LTE data services is now $50 per month.
Napster in UK, Germany bought out by Rhapsody
Rhapsody, the streaming music subscription service, announced on Thursday that it has bought Napster assets in Germany and the UK. The company also bought Napster's business in the US before laying off the majority of those employees. Rhapsody promises to keep the European employees on, however, and the Napster name there will remain untouched.
Rhapsody President shaves head to commemorate 1m
The Rhapsody streaming subscription music service has just reached over one million paying subscribers. The growth also means Rhapsody president Jon Irwin kept his promise and shaved his head to commemorate the milestone. Just last year, Rhapsody was at 650,000 subscribers when it became an independent company.
Rara streaming music coming to 18 countries today
UK-based Rara on Tuesday will bring a new streaming music service to 18 countries around the world, AllThingsD revealed. The company is the brainchild of Rob Lewis, who also founded Omnifone, which provides music services for LG, Sony and RIM smartphones. The service is priced at $5 per month for unlimited, ad-free streaming over the web, or can take their music with them for $10 using an Android app, with an iOS app coming.
Vizio ships M-series LED LCD Smart 3D TVs
The 3D HDTVs Vizio introduced at the CES expo in January are now shipping, the company said Wednesday. The M-series sets use passive glasses technology that's cheaper to run, but still have Vizio Internet Apps. All have edge-lit LED backlighting, and some sets include up to four pairs of the battery-free glasses, which are lightweight and more comfortable than active shutter glasses.
Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet goes beyond e-readers
Barnes & Noble is planning to drop its claims of focusing only on reading and attack the tablet market more directly, a slew of leaks confirmed to Android Central late Thursday. Its November 7 event will see it roll out the Nook Tablet, the rumored high-end model. Although it will still have the Nook Color's heavily customized Android interface, it will carry a much faster dual-core, 1.2GHz TI OMAP processor with 1GB of RAM, similar to Motorola's Xoom 2, and 16GB of storage with a microSDHC slot.
Rdio free service offers song cap
Rdio in an attempt to head off Spotify responded with a completely free service. The new option lets users stream either on the web or in the Mac and Windows desktop apps without ads. Rather than limit the number of listens per track, as with Spotify, Rdio is offering a meter of an unspecified amount each month.
All that could remain from US ops is customer base
Yesterday, Rhapsody announced it was acquiring the US operations of streaming and download music service competitor Napster from Best Buy in a stock swap. Today, more details of the deal have begun to emerge. GigaOM now reports that the merger is expected to lead to major job cuts and that much of Napster's core team will be gone.
Rhapsody consolidates streaming with Napster deal
Rhapsody shook up online music Monday by buying Napster. The deal will put the two streaming and download music services together. Cash involved in the deal wasn't mentioned, but Napster's now former owner, Best Buy, will have a minority stake in the combined service.
Facebook music to have track sync with friends
Facebook's music service launching tomorrow will have a unique live social listening option between friends. Creative director Ji Lee briefly tweeted and promptly pulled word of a "listen with your friend" feature in the ticker, which was just added to Facebook on Wednesday. In mentioning that it was "live," he implied that users could click a currently active song and at least launch the same song in a valid subscription service, if not sync it to the same time marker.
Facebook music service to get more partners
Facebook's imminent music service should include more partners than thought. New code exploration from Yvo Schaap has shown that Rhapsody, Deezer, Soundcloud, and Vevo will join those known to be part of the service. MOG, Rdio, and Spotify had been the only services identified before.
Spotify growing fast in US with 175,000 paid up
Leaked figures from Spotify reveal that the company's audience since the US launch has grown rapidly. While it has 1.4 million total members when including the free listeners, it now has 175,000 paying customers, virtually all of which are paying for the $10 a month Premium plan. The figure seen by AllThingsD is more than double the 70,000 claimed roughly two weeks ago.
Pioneer Elite receivers carry AirPlay, Air Jam
Pioneer wrapped up the week by adding two new Elite receivers with a heavy emphasis on their iOS links. The 7.1-channel SC-55 and 9.1-channel SC-57 hubs revolve chiefly around their new, Class-D3 amps. The two have quicker response times and reduced total harmonic distortion even as they consume less power and generate less heat.
Apple cracks down on high-profile rules offenders
Following a sudden disappearance, the Google Books iOS app has returned to the App Store with an update, v184.108.40.20683. Google's release notes claim only that "minor enhancements and bug fixes" have been made. In reality, the focus appears to have been stripping a button for Google's eBookstore.
Spotify uptake in US growing fast
Three music industry executives leaked out Friday that the US Spotify launch had gotten off to a fast start. The streaming music service already had 70,000 Premium, $10 monthly subscribers as of its first week, Bill Werde said outside of his usual Billboard position. It's unknown if the data is discounting those who got limited-run Premium accounts.
Yamaha Aventage adds 9.2ch and more mobile
Yamaha on Tuesday revamped its Aventage home theater receivers with an increased focus on mobile. The entire line, the RX-A710, RX-A810, RX-A2010, RX-A1010, and RX-3010, now has complete support for both iPhone remote control as well as front USB ports to play music directly from iOS hardware. Android is also finally getting support and will have its own remote app in the fall.
Spotify US ad promo materials reveal 50m goal
Spotify's advertising promotional materials sent to AllThingsD reveal the European streaming music service is ambitiously planning to snag 50 million users in its first year of operation in the US. The company is touting its partnership with Facebook as a big contributor to this number, with 150 million Facebook users getting invitations to sign up for Spotify. The company is also promising advertisers will be able to build music apps on their sites and on their Facebook pages.
Facebook Vibes may point to Spotify downloads
An expedition into the plugin code for Facebook's video chat by Jeff Rose has found possible clues as to Spotify integration coming soon. Along with calling on the actual Facebook app, Peep, it also goes to an unknown Vibes app. The component doesn't appear to be connected to the Skype-based video and is supposed to link to a "MusicDownloadDialog" box that serves as the giveaway of the plans.
Spotify limits listening again on listeners
Spotify in a memo on Thursday confirmed plans to again restrict free listening on its service. The European streaming site is halving the total free listening time per month to 10 hours and is now introducing a per-song cap. Anyone who signs up from May 1 onwards will, after their first six months, listen to a track for free up to five times for the life of the free account.
Move follows criticism from several groups
The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are reportedly looking into Apple's new in-app subscription rules, following public criticism from a number of companies and groups. The US agencies are said to be considering the possibility that Apple may be in violation of antitrust laws by tightening rules for developers that manage in-app purchases outside of Apple's own iTunes payment system.
Spotify now has EMI for US deal
Spotify may now be as little as one more label deal away from a US launch but could by stymied by Apple's subscription rules, sources said Thursday. EMI would join Sony and could see it clinch a deal for music streaming if it gets at least Universal. AllThingsD's contacts didn't know how close either Universal or its smaller rival Warner might be to reaching a compromise.
Rhapsody may exit iPhone or sue due to iTunes subs
Rhapsody today said Apple's new iTunes subscription rules were likely to force it out of the App Store and could lead to more. It called the plan to mandate iTunes in-app purchases "economically untenable" as it couldn't afford giving Apple 30 percent on top of its existing service. The music streaming service said it planned to collaborate with "market peers" and hinted it might sue to force Apple to compete fairly.
Warner Music talks to Goldman for sale and buyout
Warner Music is consulting with Goldman Sachs to at once sell itself off and looking into a buyout of its rival EMI. Sources said on Thursday night that it had reacted to multiple buyers, including professional acquirer Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, making offers by having Goldman start a formal look into the process where it would sell all or just of the company, such as its Warner/Chappell publishing wing. The New York Times' contacts didn't say how close Warner might be to a deal.
Spotify close on deals with Sony, more for US
Spotify may finally be closing in on its long delayed US expansion, new sources argued on Friday. It has supposedly secured one music label deal and is just "days away" from a similar deal with Sony. How close it was to deals with the other two major labels wasn't mentioned in the New York Post assertion.
Google politics may have flubbed Spotify deal
Google had tried to make buyout offers for Rhapsody and Spotify but was sabotaged by its own corporate culture, a rumor alleged today. The company had wanted a subscription music service to fulfill its own music store plans, but the three divisions jockeying for the deal couldn't agree and move ahead, the SAI sources said. It consequently gave up and turned to its music locker plans, which themselves have faced label opposition.
Rhapsody brings out BlackBerry beta app, more
The online music streaming service that is Rhapsody has now launched an app for the BlackBerry OS platform. While it is in beta, it can be downloaded now by users of BlackBerry devices running on at least OS 5.0. BlackBerry Curve users can control the operation of the app through their device's dedicated music shortcut buttons.
Tip has Apple revisiting iTunes subscription idea
Apple is considering going back on its longstanding insistence on having only pay-per-track songs with discussion of a subscription iTunes service, a rumor asserted on Friday. The company's iTunes VP Eddy Cue has reportedly been talking to music labels about a service that could run between $10 and $15. It would reportedly be an unlimited service, but the New York Post contacts implied that there might be tiers based on how long content would be accessible or how far-reaching the service might be.
Spotify US launch may be held up by Apple
Apple may be raising doubts among music labels that are keeping Spotify from a US launch, insiders alleged on Thursday. Senior officials from Apple reportedly told record studios in Los Angeles that they had "serious doubts" Spotify's model, which is led by ad-supported free service and $10 monthly subscriptions, could be profitable. The unnamed CNET sources also noted that Apple thought the service could take away from per song sales at not just its own iTunes store but others as well.
Court rebuffs ASCAP claim for music royalties
A Second Circuit Court of Appeals handed down mixed results for Internet music providers today in a ruling in New York. The appeals panel rejected claims by the royalty group ASCAP that downloads were live performances and said that transfers alone didn't amount to a public airing. Terms in the Copyright Act made it clear that a performance involved actual playback or a live show, none of which was guaranteed.
Pandora comes to TiVo Premiere set-tops
TiVo on Monday made the Pandora app available on its Internet-connected set-top Premiere DVR set-top boxes. Pandora users can now listen to on-demand radio stations from their main TV. Users can either sign in with an existing account or create a new account through the TiVo interface.
Spotify yet to get deals with any US labels
Spotify's problems getting US deals may still be ongoing if claims from music industry sources are accurate. None of the major labels have signed deals and might not have time to make one before the end of the year, the contacts told CNET. Publicly, Spotify has been insisting it was close to striking a deal for much of the year.
Vizio ships flagship XVT HDTVs with Wi-Fi access
Vizio's flagship XVT series HDTVs are now shipping, the company announced on Friday. All of these flagship models have Vizio Internet Apps preloaded and can connect wirelessly thanks to integrated dual-band Wi-Fi. Navigation comes from a unique Bluetooth/IR remote control with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
NPD finds many iTunes users willing to stream
As many as eight million iTunes users would be willing to pay for a streaming service on iTunes, the NPD Group found on Wednesday. An estimated seven to eight million have a "strong interest" in paying $10 or more per month either to stream music in general or to have remote access to their existing iTunes collections across many devices. If access to an existing collection were free, as many as 13 million to 15 million would use it, the researchers said.
Sony x600ES and S1700ES have iOS apps, automation
Sony has come out of the Independence Day weekend with a new set of ES series home theater hardware. All of the line is now targeted at custom installations and will only be available through specialty shops. Every device now has at least one IR input jack to link with a unified remote control system; the receivers also have serial ports to link with home automation systems like Crestron or Savant.
Pioneer Elite VSX-30 and VSX-31 arrive
Pioneer today rolled out a pair of new Elite AV receivers that bring some of its more advanced features to a lower price level. All of them, including models like the VSX-30 and VSX-31 (links active soon), support iPhone and iPod control through the company's custom iControl AV mobile app. They similarly share the option of Bluetooth audio with an adapter, HDMI 1.4a for 3D support, and a new "wide" surround that produces a better sense of motion with virtual height and 9.1-channel surround options.
MS thinks Zune Pass could go below 15 dollars
Microsoft on Thursday said it might cut the price of its Zune Pass subscription service. Senior product lead Terry Farrell wouldn't say how certain this was or how much it might drop, but recognized that the Zune's $15 monthly, unlimited downloads weren't necessarily competing well. Music is a "challenging business," he told BusinessWeek in a chat.
Background audio most likely addition
Music service Rhapsody is already gearing up for an iPhone 4.0 app, a Twitter post hints. The company is currently hunting for beta testers for future apps; participants can, unusually, list "iPhone 4" as their device of choice, beyond just existing iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. What the next-generation iPhone will actually be called is a mystery, although it has regularly been referred to as the iPhone HD.
Rhapsody iPhone 2.0 brings local storage
Rhapsody this morning finally posted Rhapsody 2.0 for iPhone (free, App Store), its long expected local caching version of its subscription music app. The software lets users save playlists from the unlimited service to local storage to keep playing even when an iPod touch or iPad goes beyond Wi-Fi. Songs also download over 3G for iPhone (and soon iPad) owners who may not have a reliable connection on the subway.
Logitech Squeezebox Touch shipping, costs $300
Logitech's long-delayed Squeezebox Touch Wi-Fi home music server is now shipping, though the product page still shows the item as out of stock on Logitech's website. The device has a 4.3-inch touchscreen to help users interface, playing music from their iTunes or MP3 collections or control Internet radio services that include Pandora, Deezer, Rhapsody or Last.fm. Local AM/FM radio is also an option.
Rhapsody cuts price to stay relevant
Rhapsody today slashed the price of a subscription from $15 per month to $10. The immediate cut still provides the same features, which includes unlimited music downloads as well as streaming and in some cases local caching. Permanent MP3 downloads are still an option and usually cost $10 per album with songs ranging between 79 cents and $1.29.
Songs downloaded locally for later listening
Rhapsody recently showed off an upcoming version of its iPhone app playing locally-stored content. The updated app downloads songs directly onto the device, enabling users to listen to their playlists even while the handset is disconnected from Wi-Fi and 3G networks.