$10 a Month, Open Access? Topspin Web Artist Stores Could Get Huge Quick; Artist Examples

Strap in – this may be one heck of a ride. Photo (CC-BY) François Rejeté, of Coney Island’s Topspin (perhaps part inspiration)? Like the aspiring artists themselves, there’s an abundance of Web services with big dreams of stardom. Most will fall into obscurity, and wading through them is a big chore. And then, love them or hate them, there are the huge pop hits, raking in cash and making kids swoon. So, here’s a bet. Topspin, already one of a handful of genuinely-promising services for artists and managers to make the music business work, is about to get bigger. Think …

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With Mobility Rising, MacBooks Looming, Don’t Assume Optical Discs for Distribution

Endangered species? Maybe. Worth double-checking you can do online distribution, if you haven’t already? Definitely. Photo (CC-BY) Adam Jackson. Memo to music software developers, artists and labels distributing music, and anyone else who uses optical drives: stop assuming they’ll always be there, because they won’t. Talking points: Netbooks and tablets already lack optical drives. With more mobile devices, they’re unlikely to be alone. Next up: laptops. Many laptops over the years have put optical drives in removable drive bays or shipped as external options to shed weight and bulk. HP Envy models recently came with external drives. And now, it’s …

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Music Gaming Franchises Face Difficulties, But Here’s Why It’s Not Game Over Yet

These drums need a new hit. Photo (CC-BY) Nathan Forget. There’s no more brutal opponent than elevated expectations. At least, that’s one explanation for the recent meltdown of the triple-A music gaming franchises. Harmonix, company that gave birth to the modern instrument genre saw both of its creations hit hard times in recent weeks. Activision gave Guitar Hero the axe [Wired], terminating the division, its employees, and a future game in the franchise Harmonix originally created. Harmonix got an extra life, at least, but it wasn’t pretty: the LA Times reports that Viacom unloaded the company – and some $100 …

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Last Days of Compact Disco: Album Lovers Hand-Make Musical Objects

While Mac blog TUAW calls on Apple to kill optical drives (does Apple need that kind of encouragement?), the shiny digital compact disc and the album in general still have their devotees. Sure, album sales are down. Sure, digital downloads are in. But look beyond business or practicality for a moment at these exotic hand-constructed musical objects, and what you see is sheer love. A hand-constructed CD or vinyl album is a gesture of making music for someone, not for the ether. I raised the issue early last month, and readers responded with lots of examples of handmade records, which …

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Apple’s App Store May Not Work for Audio Devs; Developers Respond

Music software development includes some of the most sophisticated, expressive software out there. But it has long faced serious challenges in sales – audio software still appeals, generally, to a small slice of people, made smaller by factors ranging from piracy to the sheer complexity of available audio tools. As computing’s distribution model for software shifts, audio developers are undoubtedly watching. Love it or hate it, what’s unique about Apple’s App Store for iOS is that it’s a one-stop shop for everything. With App Store fever spreading – new stores for mobile and desktop are either available or planned from …

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Reclaim the Album’s Soul: Tips for Handmade CD Artwork, Make One Sunday

You hear the repeated chorus: music in the digital age has become meaningless and valueless, like turning on water from a tap in the middle of Rome. But, quietly, a movement is stirring that is reclaiming the value of music. Armed with nothing more sophisticated than markers, paper, collage materials, and imagination, they send mixes of music like grade school Valentines. Heck, they even use the mail. It makes the album more personal than it was even in its golden, mass-produced age. Many of the practitioners in this case are returning to the cassette and mix tape. But I was …

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Data+Music: Echo Nest and 7Digital on Discovery, Ping, and Social Music’s Future

Photo (CC-BY-ND) verityatthedisco. Remember the music industry? We used to talk about radio play and record deals. Now, we’re talking developers, APIs, and analytics. Of course, the test, now as then, is whether there’s actually substance for music listeners and artists. On Friday, we looked at Apple’s Ping and how, via TuneCore, artists who aren’t Lady Gaga can get their own pages. We also saw some vigorous discussion of TuneCore, which helps you get your music into “big bucket” sites like Amazon and iTunes, and SoundCloud, who together offer integrated sharing and distribution. The Echo Nest is an unusual animal …

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SoundCloud + TuneCore Get Your Music Sold Online; Hear Some Artists

Whether or not the ability to use TuneCore as a way to get an iTunes Ping page piqued your interest, if you’re generally interested in selling your music online, here’s some more interesting news. SoundCloud has teamed up with TuneCore to allow you to sell singles and albums in a variety of online stores, including Nokia phones, Amazon MP3, Zune, Emusic, and of course iTunes. TuneCore’s approach is pretty simple: accounts are free, and you play a flat fee ($9.99 per single, $49.99 per album) to distribute music online in all the stores. You keep all of the royalties; once …

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Want to Get on iTunes Ping? TuneCore Artist Ping Pages Go Live

Look, it’s not Katy Perry! Yes, individual artist pages are possible on Ping. TuneCore can help make the process easy. Shown here: singer/songwriter Andrew Belle, who helped TuneCore document the process. Check out his artist page in iTunes. What’s a social network for music discovery if there aren’t any artists? As covered previously, Apple’s Ping on launch was a pretty big flop. With no custom artist pages, artists felt left out of the party – and would-be users found themselves scratching their heads as iTunes mindlessly recommended U2 and Lady Gaga to everyone. At the very least, as expected, we …

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Rhythm Core Alpha: New Music Making App for Nintendo DS – DSiWare

With the recently-announced Korg M1 app and DS-10, the Nintendo DS handheld remains a surprisingly-good choice for handheld music making. A new app could take that further. Nintendo may have struck a blow to homebrew music developers by successfully blocking hardware that allowed it to run. But while it’s not nearly as open to development as Apple’s iOS, Nintendo’s DSiWare can work for an independent developer. The proof: Rhythm Core Alpha, created by T.B. Trzepacz. What’s unique about this application is that it emphasizes real-time production. Sound playback never stops during editing. The crowded interface packs some fairly powerful-looking features: …

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