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Radio in an Online Age, Made Tangible: Skube Are Smart, Last.fm + Spotify Speakers

Computers give you sophisticated ways of connecting to online music. But do you ever miss that physical object of the radio? Or wish that a speaker could be just as smart when, with a sigh of relief, you’ve pressed the laptop lid shut? Skube is a design experiment from Copenhagen focused on making portable devices more connected and communal sharing easier. They’re speakers that you might consider members of the Internet of Things, using Arduino and Xbee wireless networking to make the device mobile while piping sounds from Spotify and Last.fm. Here’s some demo footage of the speakers in action: …

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Apple’s Ping Launch is a Dud, But The Web is Alive with the Sound of Music

“ping” came before Ping – and it might just outlast it. Photo (CC-BY) Noah Sussman. And yes, when I asked readers about Ping, a number of people referred me to this one. Before diving into the litany of gripes from artists regarding Apple’s Ping social service, it’s worth saying: some critics say they expected better. Many artists want a smarter, more social iTunes. That’s the only reason anyone is spending time talking about the service’s perceived flaws. Cellist and laptop musician ZoĆ« Keating, an independent artist with collaborations from Imogen Heap to DJ Shadow, reminded me of that via Twitter. …

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Listen: Auditory Canvas, Dreamlike Album Made with Crowdsourced Funding

The limited edition version of the album is actually an object you might care about. So, yes, as the digital album evolves from strange plastic jewel cases into ephemeral download form, it’s evolving the other way, too. If anyone had listened to the predictions, albums would be irrelevant by now. Instead, finding a way to weave music into a coherent narrative of tracks, and imbuing the object with meaning and value, matters more than ever. Finding time and resources is as much a challenge as ever, but there are some new tools for funding and finding music, even in the …

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Music Hackday Goodies: Robot-Driven Radio, Free Chordal Synth, Lyrics by Decade, More

The Music Bore – Video 2 from Nicholas Humfrey on Vimeo. “I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t allow you to listen to Coldplay.” What would radio be like if playlists were not only robotic, but had robot DJs pulling information from the Interwebs dynamically? That’s the question asked by the winning team at London’s Music Hackday last weekend, which created an epic mashup of data sources to produce a voice-synthesized IRC chatbot that researches and plays music for you. Music Bore Music Bore was just one of a number of projects developed in the weekend of musical hacking, some for listening, …

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Fine Print: What Do Royalty Rates Actually Pay?

  As an addendum to the Last.fm story today, what are the actual royalty rates we’re talking here? They’re not much – precisely the reason musicians will have to get broadcast-style play counts to ever see anything worth counting. For instance, Last.fm makes the comparison with the BBC in the Wired story. The BBC has more hegemony than even a giant US ClearChannel radio station, and I suspect it’d be virtually impossible for an unsigned artist to see that number of plays. How little? Try $0.0005 per play, as Steve of sighup writes in comments. (I think that’s just radio …

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Rhobbler: Connect Rhapsody to Last.FM

A crazy scheme in which you pay a monthly fee and get unlimited music, huh? Imagine that. Part of what was strange about flat fee advocate Jim Griffin’s new proposal for an ISP monthly fee for music is that subscription-based music lives already, from digital radio to music services. Amidst rumors that Apple might add subscriptions, the Zune, Rhapsody, and Napster all have flat-fee subscriptions right now, thank you very much. (I’m even told there are music players aside from iPod, though I don’t know if I believe this.) I was a big fan of YottaMusic, a friendly Web front-end …

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Last.fm Frees Full-Length Music and Albums, and Artists Get Paid MORE

Music community Last.fm has made a big announcement today: you can now play full-length tracks and entire albums for free on the Web. Last.fm has managed to leap over restrictions on what qualifies as a “jukebox” by signing deals with labels, from indie to biggie. So far, the US, UK, and Germany are covered, but Last.fm promises other parts of the world soon. You don’t get unlimited plays for each track, but a future subscription service will unlock that ability along with other features. (Last.fm’s subscriptions are already a nice feature, so paying a bit extra for that I imagine …

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Internet Radio Wins Temporary Delay, Possible Minimum Rate Break

This may stretch your definition of “good news” for webcasters, but the latest on the Internet Radio crisis runs something like this: Webcasters don’t yet have to pay new fees for their broadcast. But they’re still accruing debt — fast. Sort of like our credit card debt. Webcasters may get a small break on the minimum fee, one that could literally have shut down “personalized” radio services. SoundExchange explains the deal thusly: Under the new proposal, to be implemented by remand to the CRJs, SoundExchange has offered to cap the $500 per channel minimum fee at $50,000 per year for …

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The Day the Music Died, Otherwise Known As The Dawning Era of Negotiations

Several readers have observed this quite eloquently, but let’s summarize: laws around music are complicated, messy, and confusing. If they don’t seem that way to you, you’re either a lawyer or you haven’t done your homework. That said, without question, proposed changes to streaming music licensing fees would be devastating to Internet radio, because not just top 40 music requires license fees — even many indie labels are RIAA members and participate in SoundExchange. But here’s the key: they’d be devastating as proposed. And suddenly, at the eleventh hour, SoundExchange seems to be backpedaling. (Their strategy, evidently: push as hard …

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