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Google Music

Posted by tomwiles at 8:43 PM on June 23, 2013

Once a pon a time a number of years ago I went through a period of several years where I spent a fair amount of money on compact discs. Those days are long gone and have been for some time.

It’s probably just my age showing more than anything, but in recent years I lost interest in finding new music. I stopped listening to the radio the better part of ten years ago. When I did listen to music, it was to the old stuff.

To my surprise, I’ve become more interested in listening again. There’s a genre of music I paid scant attention to in the past called “electronic” that has caught my ear in the past couple of months. Mind you, not enough to start shelling out money for CD’s or even MP3′s, but these days that isn’t necessary. The “electronic” category of music is not for everyone. It is created with synthesizers and some of the sounds are very aggressive; some people would consider them noise. To my surprise, I’m really enjoying listening to this stuff — not enough to buy the music outright, but enough to pay to have access.

Google Music is currently offering a 30 day free trial. The price after the free trial is $7.99 per month if you lock it in by subscribing before the June 30 expiration date. The regular subscription price is $10 dollars per month.

I subscribed to the free offer, and so far I like it. I searched for the names of some of the electronic artists such as Hardwell and Armin van Buuren. I was easily able to figure out how to start the “radio” feature, which is initiated from a particular song. Once tracks started playing, I gave many of them a “thumbs up” if I really liked them and a few tracks a “thumbs down” if I didn’t like them. Google Music seems to do a great job of figuring out what I like over time.

Google Music claims to offer access to millions of tracks. A few experimental searches seems to indicate that they do offer a broad selection of both new and back catalog tracks.

You can download any track to your device by adding it to your library. I didn’t read the terms of service, but I’m sure once you cancel any downloaded music will go away once you stop paying the rent.

Renting access to music is actually a great idea if you want to casually listen, but don’t want to spend a fortune doing it.

Goodbye Pandora: I am sold on Google Music All Access

Posted by Alan at 5:08 PM on May 29, 2013

google music all accessI am a long time Pandora customer. The simple $3.99 monthly fee is a small price to pay for my unlimited, ad-free streaming, which gets me through my workdays. I have tried alternatives such as Spotify, Rdio and Last.FM and found all to be solid, but paying more multiple services monthly was not what I was looking for.

With a combination of all of my music stored in the free Google Music cloud, and hand-crafted radio stations within Pandora, I considered myself set. Sure, I wanted the ability play a particular song or album that I did not own, but paying for another service was not worth it to me.

Then Google I/O 2013 occurred and things changed. My Google Music app suddenly had Spotify capability. It gained Pandora functionality. Plus, it still had my 80-plus gigabyte music collection. If all of that was not enough, the price was only a few dollars more than I currently pay. Google Music All Access is the best of every world.

I am paid up on Pandora at the moment, but I do not plan to stay there. With All Access I can not only add my Pandora stations and still have all of my uploaded music, but also play any song or album at any time. Could this get any better?

UGO Makes Little Speakers with Big Sound

Posted by JenThorpe at 10:50 PM on May 26, 2013

UGO SpeakerI had the opportunity to check out these cute, colorful, speakers in person yesterday. This was completely unexpected, because the place I found the UGO speakers at was a Strawberry Festival. That isn’t the type of event where one would expect to find anything tech related. (The festival did live up to its name, however, and had plenty of desserts that were filled with some of the biggest strawberries I’d ever seen).

The name of the company is UGO (which is pronounced “you- go”). They were among the many booths of vendors at the festival. What immediately caught my attention about them was that I could hear the music that was playing through the little speaker from several feet away over the noise from the crowd. I can see where having just one UGO speaker would work well for a person to use at home (or wherever else they decide to go).

UGO speakers come in six different colors: pink, blue, red, purple, black, yellow, and silver (as shown in my photo). The UGO mini-speaker costs $39.95, and the UGO Bluetooth Wireless Mini-Speaker costs $129.95.

Each has a micro SD slot. You can load your favorite songs onto a Micro SD card, insert it into the UGO speaker, and the speaker itself becomes your music player. It also has a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. The website says it has a 30′ (9.14m) range in which the sound will carry. UGO offers a 12-month manufacturer guarantee. The vendor at the UGO booth at the Strawberry Fest said that the UGO Bluetooth Wireless Mini-Speaker can be used with any Bluetooth enabled device.

Pandora adds a pair of new updates

Posted by Alan at 12:57 PM on May 22, 2013

pandora logoPandora is perhaps my favorite music app. In fact, it is the only one I bother subscribing too, paying the small $3.99 per month fee in exchange for unlimited streaming and no ads. This week the company has announced two important new features. One brings customers unreleased music, while the other makes the program more social.

The new Premieres channel is available to all customers — both free, as well as paid subscribers. Premieres looks to bring customers new music before the albums are released. Each week Pandora plans to add albums a week in advance of their commercial release — beginning this week with former CCR singer John Fogerty and English folk musician Laura Marling.

Customers will be able to stream any, and all, songs from the upcoming music releases an unlimited number of times. The service promises new music available every week.

On iPhone, Android, and pandora.com, customers can now choose to automatically publish their Pandora music activity to Facebook, which will populate the musical identity in Facebook’s newly launched music section. A quick toggle on the user’s phone or press of a button on the web and they are ready to go.

Both features are available right now for web-based and mobile customers. Both enhancements will also work for all customers, regardless if they have a free or paid account.

Google Music Debuts All Access at I/O 2013

Posted by J Powers at 12:15 PM on May 15, 2013
Google Play All Access

Google Play All Access

“So do you guys want to hear about music?” asks Chris Yerga.

At the Google I/O event, Google announced their rumored music service Google Music All Access at the opening Keynote. The new service lets listeners use tracks on demand to create stations of songs as you listen. The service witll cost $9.99 per month. Early users will get a $7.99 introductory price and everyone gets a 30 day free trial.

Yerga talks about Google Play and the relaunch of the Google Play store. He hopes to remove the “Chore” in creating a playlist.

“Music unites us. It’s universal. No matter who you are or where you’re from, the joy of music is a constant. With ubiquitous mobile devices, there’s the potential to bring that music – bring that joy with us – wherever we are” says Yerga. “It felt more like work. When we were kids, figuring out what album to play was an event – a ritual. So why is it feel like managing my queue feels like a chore?”

Google set out to build a music service to help guide us through it. From their locker service 2 years ago to today through Play music. The All Access app will allow you to create “Radio without rules”. You can swipe to see what is coming, you can reorder music on the fly and more. All access blends my catalog with millions of other songs.

In addtion, the Listen now part of All Access brings a minimal effort list to your device. These are songs from artists you enjoy refreshed every time you use it.

All Access on Computer

All Access on Computer

Google is betting on this being the music you will make a ritual on. 

My First Hour with Twitter Music

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 12:13 PM on April 18, 2013

Twitter Music  Twitter Music released today to the general public. I have been playing around with it for the last couple of hours. When you go the website the first thing you will see are the most popular tracks . You can choose from Popular, Emerging, Suggested, Now Playing and Me. How they are curating some of these categories such as Suggested and Emerging isn’t clear. So far I haven’t recognized a lot of the artist on my suggested list, that is neither good or bad just interesting. To play a song you simply tap on it. If you have a premium Spotify or Rdio account you can play the full song, if not it plays a 30 second clip, which appears to be an iTunes preview. Which makes me wonder what happens when you come to a song that isn’t on iTunes. When you play a song a rotating circle appears at the bottom of the screen. If you are on a iPhone and you tap on the rotating circle it will go full screen. You can fast forward or rewind by swiping the outer ring of the circle backward and forward. You can go to the next song by simply swiping to the left. To stop it you just tap on it. You can control the volume directly in the app. If you are using the web version and tap on the same rotating circle you are shown a view of the artist twitter profile page. If you tap on the right arrow on you keyboard it will take you to your next song. You can swipe forward or backwards with in the song by using your mouse, although it is very hard to control. I haven’t discovered any keyboard short cuts for that, but I might be missing something.

There are a couple of things I noticed right away. The first was there is no way to save a song or tag it to buy later. Unfortunately, to play a full version of a song you must have either of a premium Spotify or Rdio account. I had no problem connecting to my Spotify account on the iOs version. At first the connection to Spotify wasn’t working on the web version, however it is now. It is an iOs app only and is built for the iPhone or iPod, although it does play fine on the iPad. Since I have an Android phone I am hoping they bring it to the Android platform soon. I am not sure how much I am going to use it I like the ability to check out emerging artist and what my friends are listening to.  I think it will be something I start playing and then let it run in the background when I just want to listen to music, but don’t care what it is.

Twitter releases #music for web and iOS

Posted by Alan at 8:04 AM on April 18, 2013

We have been hearing about a Twitter Music service for the past week, but it has been all rumors so far….until today. Music.twitter.com officially launched this morning.

It uses all of the activity on Twitter (such as tweets and general engagement) to identify the most popular tracks and emerging artists and allows you to listen to previews from Apple iTunes. However, if you have an Rdio or Spotify account, then you can log in to those and check out the full tracks.

The service is initially available in the US, UK and Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, but more countries will be added over time.

The app, for now at least, is only for the web and iOS, but Twitter promises that Android will be coming soon. However, there is no word on availability for the Windows Phone fans out there or for Blackberry users.

twitter music

“Twitter and music go great together. People share and discover new songs and albums every day. Many of the most-followed accounts on Twitter are musicians, and half of all users follow at least one musician. This is why artists turn to Twitter first to connect with their fans — and why we wanted to find a way to surface songs people are tweeting about. We offered music artists an early look at the service. You can see some of their reactions below. We hope you like it, too”

 

Amazon — Buy an app, get a free MP3

Posted by Alan at 8:36 AM on March 7, 2013

amazon logo

While it has not been largely publicized, Amazon has a deal going on right now for Android customers and music lovers. The online retail giant is offering a trade-off — buy an app and get a free song.

The deal is not exactly temporary either. It began back on February 13, 2013 and will run through December 31, 2013. Customers need not do anything to qualify — simply purchase an app from the Amazon Appstore for Android and then, shortly after making the purchase, you will receive an email from the company that includes a code for $1 credit to Amazon MP3. The code is good until 11:59 PM PST on January 31, 2014, so you have plenty of time to decide on your song.

As many of you likely know, Amazon offers a paid app every single day as its “Free app of the Day”. As it turns out, these also count, meaning you need not even spend anything to land your MP3 credit.

Gibson self-tuning guitar

Posted by Alan at 12:36 PM on March 5, 2013

gibson logoGibson makes guitars and is probably not a company you would readily associate with consumer electronics, but these days everything seems to involve technology.

The company has been producing tunable guitars for some time, but this year it has refreshed the lineup. While these instruments can still be tuned by hand, they can also auto-tune and the mechanism that handles that has been shrunk down to be less intrusive. That is handled by a lithium-ion battery that is good for “80-100″ tunings. The guitars come with six factory pre-sets, but the musician can tweak that for themselves.

The guitars shown in the video start at $799 and are available right now.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine

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Sourcetone

Posted by Alan at 4:20 AM on March 1, 2013

sourcetone logoSourcetone bills itself as a “music health” business. The company classifies music into 21 different areas designed to help improve the listeners mood, activity and overall health. This was setup through research done in collaboration with places like Harvard Medical Center which collected data from test groups of people in an effort to find out how different music made each individual feel.

The result is music that Sourcetone claims can help with things like anxiety and concentration. The company has found an 83 percent success record during beta testing. The mobile app, which will be launching soon, will allow users to choose from a mood and then it will begin streaming music based on that — a Pandora for emotions.

The video claims the Android app, which will be first, would be released February 15th, but it is not out yet. However, you can head over to Sourcetone and enter your email address to receive updates.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Nick DiMeo of F5 Live

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