SoundCloud Gives You More Control

SoundCloudSoundCloud just got a little bit easier to navigate. They have added some new features that people have been asking them for. It’s always nice when a company not only listens to feedback from its users but also makes changes in response to requests.

SoundCloud released their brand new play controls earlier this week. To use them, you need to begin by selecting a song to listen to. Any piece of music will do.

In the upper right hand corner of the screen on your browser, you will find the new controls that were released. You can now hit pause, an incredibly convenient button to have if you need to get up from your computer for a moment. You can now pick up exactly where you left off in listening to a song.

You can also skip to the next sound, or go back to a previous one. In short, you now have the control to pick out the exact portion of any song on SoundCloud, and begin listening to it from that point. I can see where this would be handy if you were trying to catch lyrics or to discern what type of instrument was playing in the background of a song you were listening to.

SoundCloud users can also make use of the “previous” feature to return to a song that they were listening to before the one they are currently enjoying. All of these new features make it easier to navigate through SoundCloud in a way that is tailor made for your personalized listening preferences.

Google Music

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.

UGO Makes Little Speakers with Big Sound

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

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

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. 

Twitter releases #music for web and iOS

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”

 

Psy to debut new song on YouTube

Psy, the South Korean music star who put Seoul’s Gangnam neighborhood on the map with a video that broke all records, is coming back this weekend. In honor of all of his YouTube success and fans, the star will debut his new song on the video sharing service this coming Saturday.

According to the Google service, “the artist who made K-Pop global is back to debut his second single, ‘Gentleman’. This Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Korean Standard Time (2:30 a.m. PST), PSY will kick off a live streamed performance from the Seoul World Cup Stadium and share his new single with the world”.

YouTube’s Sun Lee, Product Marketing Manager, says that “in the meantime, check out this message from our favorite sunglass-rocking pop star himself and make sure to mark your calendars for this Saturday”.

Amazon — Buy an app, get a free MP3

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.

Sourcetone

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: Refreshing Technology

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Nuvo Tech introduces a new wireless home audio system

Nuvo Tech is known for high-end, professionally installed home audio systems. Now the company is making a move to become more friendly to the masses with a wireless, consumer-based home audio system to compete with devices like Sonos.

The new setup is not weak either — it can simultaneously stream to up to 16 different locations. To do this, the system uses a dual-WiFi system with antennae. There are two different models of players, depending on the wattage you want. The higher-end version also has bluetooth for streaming content from a phone or tablet. The base station plugs directly into your router.

Prices start at $199 and head up, depending on the setup you want. For more information you can watch the video below and also head over to Nuvo Technologies.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network and by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor

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