The economy took its toll on digital audio in 2009, with CD sales continuing to decline (even as vinyl makes a resurgence), digital start-ups going bankrupt or disappearing after takeovers, and labels expressing dissatisfaction with would-be digital saviors like MySpace Music. Even so, there was actually quite a lot to cheer this year. The following five products aren't necessarily the best, but to me, they did the most to move the state of digital audio forward in 2009.
MOG offered me a free trial to its subscription-based streaming music service, MOG All Access, which launched on Tuesday. The service costs five bucks a month, and gives you unlimited on-demand streams of more than six million songs from all four major labels and plenty of indies. The site is trying to differentiate itself from competitors like Rhapsody and Napster with high-quality streams--all songs are 320kbps MP3s--and some fairly sophisticated music discovery features, like playlists posted by musicians (David Byrne got the featured spot on the day of launch) and other fans with similar tastes to yours ("Moggers like … Read more
If free ad-supported music services aren't going to make it financially, what about paid subscription services? Rhapsody and RealNetworks continue to soldier along, but RealNetworks is apparently looking for investors to take some portion of the Rhapsody business off its hands, and we haven't heard much about Napster since Best Buy, which acquired it a little over a year ago, slashed subscription prices in May in a bid to build membership.
How far we've come in such a short time. When I began this blog in 2007, finding a particular song online was an exercise in frustration. You could subscribe to an all-you-can-eat service like Rhapsody, but cheapskates and occasional music listeners either had to dig deep, engage with a questionably legal file-trading service, or settle for 30-second previews from iTunes or one of its Web-based competitors.
Since then, as readers of this blog know, dozens of sites offering free streaming music have emerged, from the dead-simple like Songerize and its successor Songite (enter a song title to play it … Read more
Microsoft is banking on multitouch support as one selling point for Windows 7, and HP--traditionally a loyal supporter of Microsoft's consumer strategy--is helping the push by releasing an update to its TouchScreen PCs.
HP has worked with several partners to create touch-enabled versions of various consumer entertainment apps, including Hulu, Netflix, and Pandora Internet Radio, but hard-core music fans will probably be most interested in the touch-enabled version of Rhapsody.
Among the cool features: you'll be able to write the name of an artist directly on the screen, and Rhapsody will take you to that artist's page … Read more
If you were hoping for Apple to announce a subscription-based music service for the iPhone and the iPod Touch on Wednesday like I was, suppress your disappointment: early this morning, Apple approved Rhapsody for iPhone, and it's available in the iTunes Store.
It's the second such service Apple has approved, but the first, Spotify, is not available in the United States. (The Rhapsody application is not showing up in search results quite yet, but it is showing up within iTunes.)
Rhapsody was a pioneer in subscription-based music, and I'm a big fan of the service; in 2005, … Read more
RealNetworks has been having a bit of a bad run lately, but its Rhapsody streaming service continues to offer unparalleled selection at pricing levels that seem both fair to users and rights-owners--including the ability to stream 25 songs per month at no charge. Plus, I've got to give them credit for introducing me to the idea of on-demand music--you don't know you're missing it until you live with it for a while--even if their business has been hurt by a plethora of free competitors like Grooveshark, Spotify, and Imeem.
So I was glad to see that Rhapsody … Read more
I'm not a lawyer, but I'm well-acquainted with legal filings from analyzing Microsoft's legal travails for the last nine years. I've seen a lot of aggressive lawsuits, but a copyright infringement suit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for Middle Tennessee is one of the boldest--and, I'd argue, short-sighted--filings I've ever seen.
The suit appears to have been initiated by Music Copyright Solutions (MCS), which claims to administer copyrights for more than 45,000 compositions. MCS is named as the lead plaintiff, along with a number of songwriters including Mark Farner of … Read more
Today, U.K. Internet service provider Virgin Media announced plans to begin offering unlimited song downloads for a monthly subscription fee. The songs will be DRM-free MP3 files, which means they will never expire, even if the user switches ISPs. Universal, the largest record label in the world, is so far the only label to sign on, but the other majors will probably follow.
The deal was announced along with a threat to crack down on illegal downloaders (perhaps through some sort of BitTorrent monitoring, although Virgin claims it won't be doing the monitoring itself), but the companies left … Read more
I'm not sure if it's as cool as the Ruben's Tube video, but it's pretty close. According to the person who posted this miracle, YouTube handle bd594, the piano sounds are provided by an Atari 800 XL (which happens to be the first computer I ever saw at a friend's house rather than school), lead guitar is courtesy of a TI-99/4A, the bass is an 8-inch floppy, the gong a 3.5-inch hard drive, and the vocals are an HP Scanjet 3c. (I saw this first on BoingBoing.)
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