Apple's omnipresent media player iTunes has quietly upgraded to version 7.5 for both Windows and Mac. There's no grand new interface, no code-scrubbing to make the Window version load quicker, and certainly no support for Linux users. There's not a lot to bother with, period, unless you're a Old World iPhone customer.
For some reason, I had never heard of Qloud until getting a release yesterday about it celebrating the registering of more than a million users via its Facebook application, which launched three months ago. The service hooks up with your iTunes library and scraps together any versions of the songs it can find hosted online, while taking advantage of your iTunes XML file to include such niceties as play counts and the last time you listened a song.
It manages to do this with a (Windows only) plug-in that installs itself on whatever machine your iTunes library resides in. It will periodically keep tabs on your iTunes XML file, which is the one that has all your track names and metadata for playlist organization, play counts, and song data. It then cross references this list with any legally hosted versions of the songs online, and will play them with an embedded player right in the app.
The company says that after installing the plug-in, it takes 15 to 20 minutes for your library to appear. My 50GB library managed to make it in about 12 minutes, and to my surprise, a great deal of it made the cut from metadata to music--although nearly every song was a video from YouTube.
What was apparent from the get-go with this app is that it's not quite a replacement for some of the other music-streaming services out there, like Orb, MediaMaster (coverage), and Simplify Media (coverage). Many of the fairly popular bands I had in my library had music videos with decent audio, but the majority were live recordings from concerts made by fans. This translates to bad video, and even worse audio. Audiophiles will not be pleased, nor will those who enjoy a particular version of a song that's on their library, be it live or an alternate studio recording.… Read more
I will say this: NBC's Jeff Zucker has got serious stones.
According to a report in the venerable entertainment industry trade rag Variety, Zucker, president and CEO of NBC Universal, asked Apple for a cut of iPod revenue as part of the failed negotiations between the two companies over a contract extension for the right to sell NBC's shows on iTunes. (Thanks, Valleywag.) If that's true, wow.
A source familiar with NBC Universal's negotiations confirmed that the company asked for a slice of iPod revenue but only after Apple refused to budge on variable pricing.
"… Read more
Correction: This blog initially misstated the day NBC announced it was pulling its content off YouTube. It was Monday.
Am I the only person who has lost every ounce of respect for NBC? First, it tells the world that it will not renew its contract with Apple citing disputes over content pricing, and then it tells us all Monday that it has pulled all of its content off YouTube and will reserve it for Hulu when it finally goes live.
Nice one, NBC. Not only have you pulled your programming off the most popular video-sharing site on the Internet, you've decided to add it to a video site of your (and News Corp.'s) own that has no promise. Am I missing something here?
There is no chance Hulu will ever become a success. And the reason is quite simple: It is being produced by two companies that have no idea what consumers want and are utterly unaware of how the Internet works. Even worse, neither of those companies knows what Web 2.0 is all about.
I give Hulu one year.… Read more
I recently had the opportunity to conduct this interview with Jeff Owens, Label Manager for the Ghostly International record label. To give you some context, Ghostly International is an independent electronic music label based out of Ann Arbor, MI. They've been releasing music since 1999, and their latest release, Matthew Dear's Asa Breed has been drawing praise from tastemakers such as Pitchfork and Filter.
From my perspective, Ghostly is a unique example of an independent record label that is quickly adapting to today's bizarre and demanding music marketplace. Their music can be found everywhere from iTunes, to Borders, to MySpace. Ghostly also interests me because they are a rare combination of a cutting-edge music label that is still heavily invested in releasing their music on vinyl. In fact, their Spectral Sound sublabel has the distinction of selling the majority of their music in either vinyl or MP3 formats, with just a handful of releases on CD.
It's amazing to me that in the past thirty years we've seen the dramatic rise and fall of music formats like cassette tape… Read more
It was first shown at January's Consumer Electronics Show--and then leaked on Buy.com just days ago--but the Sansa TakeTV is now official. It's not the first device designed to put PC-based digital videos on the TV, but what sets SanDisk's TakeTV apart is its simplicity: just drag and drop videos to the flash drive from your PC, and then plug it into the included video dock to watch them on your TV. The straightforward operation is a notable counterpoint to most other PC-to-TV digital video alternatives, which involve either cumbersome direct hook-ups (video and audio runs … Read more
Two interesting pieces of news highlight the trouble online stores will face as the price of legal song downloads approaches the price of illegal downloads (which is zero).
On Monday, Amazon.com announced an extremely generous revenue-sharing program for affiliate sites to resell MP3s from the Amazon MP3 store. Amazon will give them 20 percent of the revenue from all sales until January 1, 2008, after which it will drop to 10 percent. Since Amazon sells some downloads for as low as 89 cents, this means it'll have only 71 cents left to pay to the copyright owners. I … Read more
Before I finish my review of the new Sony PRS-505 Reader (you should probably read part 1 first, here), I wanted to mention that Sony itself has a corporate blog, hosted by corporate-communications manager Rick Clancy.
Clancy apparently has permission to stray slightly off-message, and a recent result of this permissive policy was a funny blog entry about an ill-conceived marketing slogan for the Reader: "Sexier than a librarian." Explaining the slogan, Clancy said:Please be assured that this was a tongue and cheek effort on our part, playing off a certain stereotype or a fantasy, depending on … Read more
France Telecom's wireless carrier Orange will be the exclusive carrier of the Apple iPhone in France, both companies announced Tuesday.
The 8GB iPhone will become available in France on November 29 for 399 euros (including VAT) with any Orange-dedicated rate plan subscription, according to the joint company statement.
Didier Lombard, chief executive officer of France Telecom, had told reporters at a September event in Hanoi that his company's Orange brand wireless service was the chosen partner. Today's news release confirms this.
As in the states, French iPhone owners will have access to the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. … Read more