Category Archives: Music

Roland Releases Update to Cross-Platform Zenbeats at CES 2020



Roland, a leading manufacturer and distributor of electronic musical instruments and professional video products, is showcasing Zenbeats, an intuitive and inspiring music creation app that runs cross-platform and is free to access on Android, ChromeOS, iOS, Windows and macOS devices, allowing anyone to be creative – anytime, anywhere.

The acquisition of Open Labs’ award-winning Stagelight app serves as the foundation for Roland Zenbeats, highlighting Roland’s ongoing investment in empowering artists, bringing the joy of creative experiences to everyone. With the latest update – Zenbeats 1.1 adds multi-timbral subtrack support as well as support for the Roland A-88MKII MIDI 2.0-ready Keyboard Controller.

Roland has already received praise and awards for its new music creation app as a CES 2020 Innovation Award Honoree and Music & Sound Retailer’s 34th Annual Music & Sound Awards winner of Best Website/App.

Everyone from beginners to beatmakers and electronic musicians can create, share, and collaborate on songs with their friends using Roland Zenbeats, and the app is designed for all screen types, from mobile devices to notebooks and desktops. Kids, teens, and adults can easily begin making beats and entire songs with Zenbeats’ interactive and fun built-in lessons, while more experienced creators will enjoy exploring the app’s expansive composition, collaboration and production features.

Zenbeats also includes expressive onscreen instruments, 3rd party plugin integration including drag and drop support, collaborative jamming via Albleton Link, streamlined cloud support, and enhanced exporting options.

Pricing options for Zenbeats include Free, Unlock, and Ultimate.

Free enables anyone to get started immediately on their musical journey. It’s perfect for those dipping their toes into music creation, providing access to songs, lessons, powerful instruments, diverse sounds, and expansion options.

Unlock
is available at two price points: Android and ChromeOS, iOS ($14.99 USD) or Windows and macOS ($49.99 USD). Unlock and access all in-app features including eight instruments, 14 effects, plugins (VST/AU/AUv3 where supported), and additional store credits to add more content to a user’s library.

Ultimate ($149.99 USD) is the apex for those looking to collect everything Roland Zenbeats has to offer. Unlock every platform for all Android, ChromeOS, iOS, Windows, and macOS devices. Ultimate also includes the Zenbeats StorePass, which provides instant access to 40 present packs, 40 loop packs, and sounds currently available.

Visit Roland at LVCC, Central Hall, Exhibit #10719 at CES 2020.


Roland Introduces MIDI 2.0-Ready A-88MKII MIDI Keyboard Controller at CES 2020



Roland, one of the co-founders of the original MIDI specification, introduces the A-88MKII, a powerful new 88-note MIDI keyboard controller for studio and stage. The latest in a long line of professional MIDI controllers from Roland, the A-88MKII is supremely playable, with modern creative tools for today’s musicians and producers.

Slim and ergonomically designed, the A-88MKII comes equipped with an acclaimed, weighted-action keyboard, plus cutting-edge features like USB-C connectivity, RGB-lit controls, and more. It’s also MIDI 2.0 ready, making it the first Roland instrument to support the new MIDI standard.

When it comes to MIDI controllers, playability often seems like an afterthought. The A-88MKII breaks that mold with rigid, wooden construction and the 88-note Ivory Feel PHA-4 keyboard found in acclaimed Roland instruments. With high-resolution sensing and lightning-fast response, the PHA-4 accurately translates the subtlest playing nuances, and users can personalize the sensitivity for their own unique touch.

Equipped with a host of real-time performance features, the A-88MKII is equally at home in the studio and on stage. With three user-definable zones, players can layer and split the keyboard with different sounds or instruments. Advanced arpeggiator and sophisticated split and layer functions are also on board, providing direct access to performance tools normally only found in standalone synths and workstations.

Roland’s famous pitch/mod lever and an array of RGB-lit knobs offer expressive, hands-on control of sounds. Eight assignable pads are available to control DAW functions, trigger sounds and clips, and more, and pad bank setups can be stored for quick recall. There’s also a dedicated sustain pedal input, plus two control inputs that support expression pedals or footswitches.

The A-88MKII is ready for the future with modern USB and MIDI protocols. USB-C offers single-cable connectivity and eliminates the need for external power adaptor. And the A-88MKII is ready for the high-resolution control and extended capabilities of MIDI 2.0.

For a hands-on demo of Roland products like the A-88MKII, visit the Roland exhibit at CES 2020 at Booth #10719.


Spotify Upgraded its Premium Family Plan



Spotify announced that it has upgraded its Spotify Premium Family Plan. New changes make it easier for families to filter out things that they don’t want their children to listen to.

With our updated plan, Spotify Premium Family subscribers have on-demand access to 450,000 podcast titles and 50 million tracks of ad-free music. What’s more, parents will now be able to control the Explicit Content Filter setting of all other accounts on their plan (these parental controls are a long-requested feature).

Spotify says the update is now available in Ireland, and will rollout in all markets with Premium Family this fall. Those who are already Premium Family Plan users will be notified as soon as the upgraded Family Plan is available in the coming months.

Here are some things families can look forward to:

  • Family Mix: Families will get exclusive access to a personalized playlist packed with songs the whole family enjoys. Family Mix is updated regularly and you can control who is in each session to optimize your family’s favorite shared listening moments.
  • Family Hub: Billing users can now manage their Family’s settings in one place, including adding or removing family members, keeping your home address up to date, and adjusting your parental controls.
  • Six Accounts: Spotify Premium Family still provides six individual Spotify Premium accounts for family members living under one roof, meaning you’ll keep your own saved music and playlists.

The Spotify Premium Family plan costs $14.99 per month. It might be a good investment for families that enjoy listening to music and podcasts together. The parental controls (after the rollout) will make it easier for parents to filter out things that they don’t want their kids to listen to.


IKEA and Sonos Shine a New Light on Sound



IKEA and Sonos have collaborated on SYMFONISK, a range of speakers designed to democratize the home sound system. Combining Sonos’s expertise in sound and technology with IKEA’s knowledge of home furnishing, SYMFONISK seamlessly fits into the home to enhance everyday life and integrates with the Sonos system.

The SYMFONISK range includes the SYMONISK table lamp with WiFi speaker and the SYMFONISK book-shelf with WiFi speaker. Both products are compatible with Sonos’s own product range and can be steered through the Sonos app.

The SYMFONISK table lamp with WiFi speaker blends into the home in a new way, making it easier to furnish sound. It combines light and sound into one product in order to de-clutter the home with less devices and cords.

The SYMFONISK book-shelf speaker is a great connected multi-functional speaker at an affordable price. It has many versatile ways to blend into a home. It can be tucked away or on display. The SYMFONISK book-shelf speaker can be placed vertically or horizontally.

Both the SYMFONISK table lamp and the SYMFONISK book-shelf speaker will come to IKEA in August of 2019. I think the SYMFONISK speakers look nice, and will appeal to people who want to enjoy excellent sound and a speaker that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.


LP Pop Culture Remix



Movies and music have been lynch-pins of popular culture going back to the middle of the 20th century, capturing and delivering on the zeitgeist of a generation. Many films and albums have become iconic, instantly recognisable from a scene, a track or an album cover…which makes them ripe for a send-up.

Steven Lear (aka whythelongplayface) takes on these sacred cows with some fantastic mashups of film characters and album cover art. Star Wars provides rich pickings and his Instagram account is full of album covers with characters from the films inserted into the scenes. Yoda as the baby in Nirvana’s Nevermind. Leia and Han Solo in John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy. massive at-at rather than massive attack. All instantly recognisable.

 

If you click through on the revised album covers in Instagram, Steven shows both his version and the original that inspired it.

  

Star Wars isn’t the only source of material – there are remixes from all across the film and LP canon. If there’s anything you particularly like, T-shirts and posters can be ordered via http://www.whythelongplayface.com/.

All images courtesy of Steven Lear.


iHeartRadio takes a trip south



When it comes to streaming music services, there’s no shortage of ones to choose from. Only a few have become big names – Pandora, Spotify and those run by major companies like Apple, Google and Amazon. Another popular one is iHeartRadio.

Now iHeartRadio is taking a trip south of the border, as the company announces its foray into Mexico. This is a team effort as the company is working with Grupo ACIR,.

“iHeartRadio México is available now in beta and will officially launch November 3 at the iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina so get excited! To listen now, music lovers across México can download the iHeartRadio app via Apple App Store or Google Play Store and listen online at iHeartRadio.mx“, the steaming service claims.

To celebrate the launch of iHeartRadio Mexico, Grupo ACIR will award a lucky music fan a once-in-a-lifetime VIP experience at the fifth annual iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina in Miami on November 3, Good luck in the contest.


Genius and Apple Music Team Up to Add Lyrics



As of yesterday, Apple Music became the official streaming platform on the Genius website. This means Apple Music subscribers who visit Genius will be able to play any song in full right from the song page, simply by signing into their Apple Music account.

Genius’s Chief Strategy Officer, Ben Gross, said: “Being able to read lyrics and annotations on Genius while you listen along on Apple Music is a dream Genius experience. We’re proud to make Apple Music our official music player, and we’re doubly excited to bring Genius lyrics to their amazing program.

To me, this seems like an excellent idea. When I listen to music, and can’t figure out what the lyrics are, it makes me want to do a search. That can be time consuming, and might be too difficult to do while listening to music during a walk or commute.

People who subscribe to Apple Music will now have a much easier time finding the lyrics of their favorite songs. Sign into your Apple Music account. Look up a song’s lyrics on Genius, and listen to the song right from the Genius page.

Image by Pixabay