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Back in 2012, musician Imogen Heap dressed up like something from Star Trek and showed a magical glove to the world at a number of different events hosted by TED and Wired, which allowed her to make music using gestures, movements and sci-fi costumes.

Fast-forward to 2014 and the state-of-the-art wearable tech device, called the Mi.Mu, has been added to Kickstarter in the hope that Heap's ambitious plans will change the way we make music for good.

The idea was dreamed up by Heap because she wanted a better way of making music that felt more in tune with her body. "I wanted to be able to play the computer as expressively as I can play the piano," she explained. "I wanted the movements I make to the reflect the sound that I hear."

Over the past few years she's been working with a team of "scientists, engineers and artists" from what she calls the "nerd underworld" to make the gloves a reality. In the promo video for the Mi.Mu she explains they come packing "high precision wearable sensor technology", which detects sharp movements and lights up to provide the wearer with feedback all completely wirelessly. The team are working to develop software to allow you to define your own gestures and although they can be used for lots of different purposes, they're built with music-making in mind.

It's hard to take Imogen Heap seriously as she dances around like a fairy queen from the future on stage with her gloves, but the idea of bringing a more intuitive and natural way to the modern world of music certainly makes sense in theory.

There are still 22 days to go before the Kickstarter project ends and £64,000 for a £200,000 goal has been raised, which looks promising for the Mi.Mu.

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So Spotify today celebrates its fifth birthday. Well done to a start up whose obituary has been written many, many times. The platform hasn't just survived this far though, it is starting to thrive. According to this report in The Guardian it has 24 million active users, 6m paying subscribers, and 1bn playlists created by those people.

In the future it will have many more rivals and ones with deep pockets (think Google and Apple) but for now it has become the byword for online music streaming.

From a personal perspective although I have a few reservations about the service I think it is quite possibly the best thing to happen to online music ever. Well from a user's perspective. If you are a musician, and your name is not Bowie, you probably see Spotify in a different way. Not suprisingly, for a service that is part-owned by several major labels, it tends to feed the big artists and just throws tiny crumbs to the smaller ones.

Yet while there are lots of great artists who now struggle to make a living from music, I don't think this is entirely Spotify's fault. Even before it launched, piracy and the changing nature of music distribution had chipped away significantly at the revenues of lesser known and cult musicians. Spotify certainly isn't the solution for funding new music and I can understand why some musicians are very anti the service.

I also think that it needs to innovate again. Focussing on the bottom line has given its stability but there are many ways in which it can improve.

Nevertheless for the user it is a truly wonderful thing - here's why...

1 It is cheap - Come on, just a fiver to stream all that music. You can't even get a pair Starbucks Lattes for that. From a punter's perspective Spotify is exceptional value for money. Remember the £50 man? Chances are he is now a £10 man with a premium Spotify subscription.

2 It has access to all those wonderful archives - Sure there might be a few high profile omissions, but many of the greatest recordings ever made are available for very little on Spotify. And it gives music lovers access to albums that they might never have had heard before. If the bands you love are influenced by say Captain Beefheart, Nick Drake and Sun Ra you no longer have to spend a fortune finding out what the originals sound like.

3 It tries to preserve the concept of the album - IMO the album was the ultimate artistic statement of the late 20th century and a bit off this century too. Spotify at least tries to offer music as the musicians intended the listener to hear it. As long as you keep away from that random button.

4 It has helped the music industry tackle piracy - Only in a small way, but there is evidence to suggest that Spotify has helped reduce the amount of piracy in some countries

And if you want to plug Spotify into your home hi-fi go here

5 alternatives to using Spotify

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Sick of the repetitive ads on Spotify? Just looking for something a little different? Here are some alternatives you to try.

daft_punk_random_access_memories_cover_p.jpgIn case you hadn't noticed the UK is in the midst of a bit of a vinyl revival. Downloads might have trumped CDs but ageing hipsters and cool young kids both still want something that can own and cherish and this has sent record sales stratospheric.
And now Amazon has provided evidence of the trend be reporting that sales of vinyl have grown by more than 100% in 2013. This is on the back of steady growth since 2006.

And rather than dance music which fueled vinyl revivals before it is rock and pop that is at the forefront of the trend.

Amazon has published its list of the best selling vinyl albums since 1999 and there's a surprise at number one. Even though it has only out a few months Daft Punk's Random Access Memories has sold more vinyl copies than any other album since 1999.

As for the rest of the list Adele and Amy Winehouse featured strongly alongside the staples like Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and David Bowie whose Ziggy Stardust makes the top ten alongside this year's album The Next Day.

Obviously it isn't just the big names that are selling records, Hundreds of smaller labels are issuing vinyl and we reported a while ago how bands were using Kickstarter to fund their vinyl releases.

The there is also the growing vinyl market in reissues and boxed sets. Cumbrian label Optic Nerve is just about to issue a deluxe version of British indie band 's the House of Love's debut album and that looks like a sell out too.

Here is the top twenty best selling albums on Amazon since 1999


1. Daft Punk, Random Access Memories

2. Adele, 21

3. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black

4. David Bowie, The Next Day

5. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon

6. David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars

7. Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

8. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon (30th Anniversary Edition)

9. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

10. The Beatles, Love Me Do (50th Anniversary Limited Edition 7" Single)

11. Radiohead, In Rainbows

12. Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here

13. Bon Iver, For Emma Forever Ago

14. Radiohead, Ok Computer

15. Micah P. Hinson, Micah P. Hinson & The Gospel of Progress...

16. PJ Harvey, Let England Shake

17. Kate Bush, 50 Words for Snow

18. Alt-J, An Awesome Wave

19. The White Stripes, Elephant

20. The xx, xx

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Here's a highly useful bit of the web that has been surfacing a lot on social media recently so I thought it was worth another plug. It seems that those smart people at WMFU station - it is apparently a radio station in New York - have been messing around with Pink Floyd's seminal Dark Side of the Moon album and stripped it down to some of its core parts.

So if you are a but musically minded and fancy mixing a few things together you can create your own slice of Dark Side-esque space rock using say the pedal guitar from Eclipse alongside the bits of speech that pepper the album. You'll probably end up with 'Ok Computer.'*

Give it a try...

It is here.

* Just kidding Radiohead fans

googleplay.jpgThe big news this morning is that Google Music, which was announced in the spring and has been working in the US for several months now, has become available in the UK and other European countries.

You can sign up now and get a month for free and then pay an intro rate of £7.99 per month. It will eventually cost £9.99.

But what is it and how does it stack up against the current king of online music Spotify?

The similarities

In many ways the services have a lot in common, They both allow you to stream whole albums and the catalogue of tracks they boast is very similar. There's no Beatles or Led Zeppelin on either of them, but then you guessed that already. They both have deals with companies to deliver new albums though Spotify has the edge on indie and European music for now.

The music discovering offerings are also similar too with Google Music including offering up recommendations on what to listen to next based on your listening habits.
Listeners can also turn any song into a "radio station", with the service intelligently creating an endless playlist of songs based around the artist and track you've selected, with each song complementing your original choice.

Both services stream music at a maximum of 320kbps.

But there are some key differences

Price - Spotify has a lot more flexibility here. For starters it has a free ad supported version - Google starts at £7.99 a month. Spotify's PC only version is cheaper too at £5.99 per month. For the full versions both will come in at £9.99 a month (though Google has an introductory offer of £7.99) which will let you listen to and store songs on mobile. Google scores here as you can store up to 20,000 tracks, a lot more than the 3,333 offered by Spotify.

Platforms - Google can be played from a browser on a PC or Mac, and on an Android based smartphone. If you have an iPhone you can access the service via the browser. Spotify has a browser service for PCs, an app for PCs as well as apps for both iOS and Android devices.

Music integration - Google has an edge on Spotify in that the new service integrates with its cloud based storage system. So you can upload all your music to the cloud and it will be accessible on any PC using Google Music. This is very useful for people who like music in genres which aren't well represented on either of the streaming services (obscure 60s stuff, jazz, easy listening, exotica etc). It also means that it is easy to create playlists that contain both yours and Google Music which are then available anywhere. For some users this is a serious advantage over Spotify.

Overall - Which one you choose I think depends on a number of factors. If you are a casual music streamer then Spotify's free service will probably suffice for you. If you are an Apple diehard too Spotify has the edge. Where Google Music scores is the integration of your own music with the streaming catalogue. that is a small, but significant niche. It will be interesting to see if and when Spotify addresses this.

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spotify-ipad-official.jpgDon't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the music streaming service Spotify. The way in which it makes almost every great album, both past and present, accessible with one click, is a wonderful thing.

However there are still a few things which I think Spotify needs to address. Here are five quick ideas.

1 Charts - What would be amazing is if Spotify were to allow users to create their own charts. There must be a way of taking the data they collect and then enabling the listener to conjure up all kinds of fancy charts from 'most played tracks of the week' to the 'top ten album of the month.' It would be great to have weekly charts about my most listened to tracks which I'd prodigiously share on Facebook etc.

2 Less confusion about following bands - I want to get alerts that tell me when bands I love have added new music to Spotify. I do get alerts from Spotify but I have no idea why I am getting them. It used to be that if you followed a band then you got the updates. Now though you also apparently get updates of new music from bands who you have featured on your playlists. Except that I don't. I have so many bands in my playlist that if that were the case I'd be getting emails from Spotify all the time. Spotify needs to sort out the process and make it easy for you to keep tabs on who you are following.

3 Album sleeve notes and comments
- I know that there are notes for many artists taken often from Allmusic and other sources. Well why not grab album reviews too. In fact maybe take 500 great albums and get some serious, specially created sleeve notes for them. It wouldn't cost that much but it would certainly be an interesting new feature for Spotify to shout about. Alternatively it could add a reviews section and take reviews from some of its media partners etc, as well as giving users the opportunity to add their own comments.

4 Work harder to correct mistakes
- Today I got an email informing me of the new Cat's Eyes album, which was great news as I love the band's previous collection. Instead of a new collection of songs from the side project of the fella in The Horrors, I got some weird ambient nonsense from a French DJ. Spotify is riddled with errors like this. I do think that the company could crowdsource information from its users to correct sites. If there was an easy way of doing this, I am sure its users would oblige.

5 Request an album - In the same way that Amazon enables you to suggest to publishers that they publish books in the Kindle format, so there could be way of Spotify users asking for albums to be added to the service. Especially more obscure, low key or older albums.

If you were to tell me I had to lose every single website and app but could keep one (on my desert island apps interview) I would keep Spotify. I adore the music service and have been a subscriber since it first made its apps available.

The way in which I can listen to music as the artist intended, as a whole album played in the right order, as well as being able to access that huge back catalogue makes Spotify for me the most important innovation since the web itself.

However increasingly the service is coming under attack from musicians - the latest to stick the boot in are Thom Yorke and music producer Nigel Godrich, who claim that the service is failing new music.

Nigel Godrich's argument is detailed in a series of tweets here, but to paraphrase, he believes that Spotify is great for listening to back catalogues, but fails new bands as they don't make enough money from its royalties pay outs. The industry average offers 0.4p per stream - meaning that 1m streams of a song generate about £3,800. Most songs receive far fewer streams, which in fairness won't even keep some bands in plectrums for long.

Godrich finishes his rant by throwing down the gauntlet. He says that either Spotify needs to change its approach to new music, or that musicians should vote with their feet and follow Thom Yorke's example and takes their tunes off the service.

To be fair to Godrich he doesn't come across as being too anti-Spotify, but he is addressing the fact that there is a very real issue with how the service works. He has been retweeting some interesting pro-Spotify replies too.

Some of the other tweets and posts this morning though have been a lot more critical of the service.

I am not too convinced though that the Spotify bashing is really that helpful - here's why.

1 Spotify is the best things that has ever happened to music online - Almost every significant album in history available for users to stream at any time. Come on, ten years ago that was the stuff of dreams. How many new bands have created music that is influenced by older bands - and the first place they got to hear the Gang of Four, Soft Boys and Cleaners From Venus etc was on Spotify.

Also some snooty musicians have been moaning about how Spotify has opened up the floodgates to all kinds of hapless amateurs. This is utterly wrong IMO. I have heard many more great new bands in the last three years than I did in the ten that proceeded them. There has been an explosion of new music and that has been fuelled by Spotify.

2 Spotify has got to get its business model right - The problem here is that Spotify could charge £20 a month for its services and give a big chunk of that to the musicians who provide new releases. But is anyone going to pay it? Personally I wouldn't have any issues with that. There is however a much more deep rooted problem. It revolves around the under of music in our society now. One musician friend of mine recently tweeted that people seem happier to spend five quid on a big bag of popcorn at the cinema than they do on an album.

At the other end of the scale there are those who are using Spotify's free service yet forking out the best part of £20 for new album releases on vinyl. Spotify has got to get its business plan right. It has many real and potential rivals and quite a few of them come from companies that are way more aggressive like Google, Amazon and Apple. I know which of the four companies which one I'd rather give money too.

3 How can it change that business model? Godrich makes many good points, but he doesn't offer any real suggestions as to what Spotify should do. Here's a few ideas.

* Charge people an extra £5 a month to hear albums and tracks that have been released in the last five months.

* Introduce an optional levy on subscriptions where people can pay extra to support new artists

Err that's it. Unless anyone else has any better ideas.

Spotify won't push number one because - well people won't pay more for streamed online music and it creates an opportunity for a rival to offer that serve more cheaply.
Spotify could do two, but ultimately it wouldn't do musicians any favours as it makes them look like charity cases.

If musicians take their music off Spotify then ultimately it will wither away.

4 Musicians never made that much money from royalties anyhow - Let's be serious about this, did radio plays of anything other Walking On Sunshine and Unbelievable generate enough money to pay anyone's mortgages? Thought not. Here's a view on this from the legend that is @solobasssteve . Musicians have traditionally made their money in other ways. At the very least Spotify does give bands profile, and that profile could lead to much greater things.

5 New musicians need to use Spotify strategically
- Rather than place their whole album on there why not stick a few tracks on Spotify. Put the rest on Bandcamp, where incidentally people can still stream for nothing, or make the music available just as downloads. If people get hooked enough on your music then maybe just maybe they might pay for it.

6 Spotify needs to reach out to musicians more - How about some dialogue? Get some musicians on a board with maybe one of their representatives as part of the management team. It would be good PR for the company and might even help to resolve some of the issues musicians have with the service.

So finally can we please stop bashing Spotify. The big challenge for musicians, and indeed anyone who loves music, is to create a culture in which it is valued and that people are prepared to pay for it. Any ideas on how you achieve that are much appreciated.

Btw here's a load of great new music - if you like a bit of psych/shoegaze/dreampop

I imagine that when Kickstarter was first set up its founders imagined it being the vehicle by which all manner of high-tech projects got funded. From new computer games to off the wall gadgets and more. In fact even things like this amazing swimming pool.

I am not too sure though that they ever considered that the site would evolve as a significant funder of, wait for it, the vinyl revival, but that is increasingly becoming the case.

Imagine that you are a small band with a dedicated following. It is easy to set up a Bandcamp account and start selling your music. For credibility's sake though you need it created in a physical format. I work for a magazine which these days won't review anyhting that isn't in a physical format (ie CD, vinyl) as well as a download.

Personally I think that's a bit short-sighted but I do understand why they do it. It certainly sorts the wheat from the chaff.

But if you are a band with ambition just creating a CD doesn't really cut it. For credibility's sake you need vinyl. There is a growing army of music buyers who still download songs, but for whom their main source of listening pleasure is good old vinyl records. And if you are making dance music, or are part of alternative music genres like psychedelia, vinyl is a must.

Enter Kickstarter which these days is chocka with bands wanting to release their music on record.

And amazingly a high percentage of seem to be getting funded. Take for example Astro Nautico - they are a New York based group who major on soulful electronic sounds.They wanted $8000 for to create a vinyl album of their music- and they got it funded.

Also doing very well at the movement is a massive favourite of mine - Kosmischer Läufer (see video at the top) - who are hoping to take the digital download they created a few months back and make it into a proper record. The superb music is either- East German Kraut Rock from the 70s that was designed to help athletes run faster, or a groups of Scots with a wicked sense of humour. You decide. Nevertheless the tracks are fantastic and I am pleased to say that they look on target to reach the £1500 they need to create an album.

Also on the verge of a Kickstarter funded vinyl project -in this case a single - is Salisbury's very own Sgt Pepper Beaulieu Porch. The one man band who released a superb Strawberry Fields Forever style psych album last year and followed it up with another corker this year too.

Beaulieu is hoping to raise around £650 to create a single of his track The View From Gainsborough and with 20 or so days to go is half way there. Asked why he has chosen the format Simon Berry aka Beaulieu Porch said.

As for vinyl, I have noticed a growing trend amongst music fans for vinyl over CDs and downloads, which is probably, quite rightly, down to the overall aesthetic of the thing. I'm serious about what I do and for me, making my music and the artwork and all is an absolute pleasure and delight.

It seems then that in order to make Kickstarter work as a band looking to create a single you do have to have something of a track record. but as source of investment for vinyl it looks like it is becoming very useful.

Oasis coming to Spotify very soon

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Last month it was Pink Floyd, Now it seems like Oasis are set to be the latest Spotify refuse-niks to add their catalogue to the music streaming service.

There's no news when yet, but the band's management Ignition, says it is all a matter of timing.

Oddly both Noel and Liam's post Oasis albums are on the platform. Also there are Oasis albums on YouTube too, but so far the band have resisted making available Definitely Maybe, (What's The Story) Morning Glory?, Dig Out Your Soul and our favourite the much under rated Be Here Now.

"It is the case that historically the Oasis catalogue isn't on Spotify in the UK, but we're talking to Spotify at the moment to address that - and it will be addressed very soon," Ignition Records director John Leahy told Music Week.

Ignition co-owner Alec McKinlay, who has worked with the band since 1993, added: "It's purely a matter of timing. If you're working with artists in any part of the industry, you have to engage with fans in the way they want you to."

Here's a few other bands who haven't yet signed up, but curiously have made their work available via YouTube.

mumford glasto win.jpgSo who was the most popular act at the Glastonbury festival this year? Well it has to be The Stones right whose Saturday night performance was the festival's biggest, and some have said best, gigs ever.

However when it comes to Twitter the Stones actually ran out in second place. According to research undertaken by MC Saatchi the band that got the most Twitter action was actually Sunday's headliners - folk pop troubadours Mumford and Sons

The company reports that

At its peak, nine of the 10 UK trends on Saturday night related to the festival.

However on Sunday The Mumfords notched up over 70,000 tweets an hour, nearly 10,000 more than the veteran rockers had the night before.

So how can the Mumfords beat The Stones? Here are few theories

1 The Mumfords have a younger audience than The Stones - and therefore more likely to be on social media sites

2 A lot of people were tweeting about how much hated the Mumfords. I would love to know the negative/positive sentiment of the tweets on Sunday (how about it MC Saatchi?) The Mumfords really are the Marmite of UK pop.

3 More people were out on Saturday night, whereas on Sunday they were preparing for the return to work with a spot of Twitter powered TV.

Or it could just be that Mumford and Sons are more popular than the Rolling Stones. And on that bombshell...

Btw here's Ronnie accepting defeat gracefully

amazon-autorip.pngI always thought that the best way to market music these days was to offer someone a CD and when they bought it give them an instant download of the tunes on it.

Well it appears that the team at Amazon have been listening for it has just announced the launch of Amazon AutoRip, a new service that gives customers free MP3 versions of CDs and vinyl music they purchase from Amazon, in the UK.

So when customers purchase AutoRip CDs and vinyl the MP3 versions are automatically added to their Cloud Player libraries where they are available, free of charge, for immediate playback or download.

It isn't just new labums though. Customers who have purchased AutoRip albums at any time since Amazon.co.uk first opened its Music Store in 1999 will find MP3 versions of those albums in their Cloud Player libraries - also automatically and for free.

It all depends though if the album is in the AutoRip category, as not all of them are. The company says it has 350,000 albums, including titles from every major record label, are available for AutoRip and that customer just need to look for the AutoRip logo. The AutoRip music is provided in high-quality 256 Kbps MP3 audio.

And while the service works for music Amazon has no plans to AutoRip for Kindle books or DVDs.

It has taken quite a while for the service to land in the UK. It went live in the US in January and is also available in Italy, France and Germany.

"What would you say if you bought CDs, vinyl or even cassettes from a company 14 years ago, and then 14 years later that company licensed the rights from the record companies to give you the MP3 versions of those albums... and then to top it off, did that for you automatically and for free?" said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. "Well, starting today, it's available to all of our Amazon.co.uk customers - past, present, and future - at no cost. We love these opportunities to do something extra for our customers."

The company has also announced the top ten albums it has sold since 199 all of which are available for AutoRip


21
Adele
19
Adele
Progress
Take That
I Dreamed A Dream
Susan Boyle
Now That's What I Call Music! 83
Various artists
Only By The Night
Kings Of Leon
Back To Black (Bonus track)
Amy Winehouse
Sigh No More
Mumford & Sons
Now That's What I Call Music! 80
Various artists
Now That's What I Call Music! 77
Various artists


It might seem incredible but up until today you haven't been able to buy MP3s from Amazon to play on your iPhone. That has all changed with the announcement by Amazon that as from today its MP3 are compatible with iPhone and iPod touch devices.
The retailer says that its 25 million song catalogue is now accessible via the iPhone's Safari browser.

Music purchases are automatically saved to customers' Cloud Player libraries and can be downloaded or played instantly from any iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android phone or tablet, or any web browser.

"Since the launch of the Amazon Cloud Player app for iPhone and iPod touch, a top request from customers has been the ability to buy music from Amazon right from their devices. For the first time ever, iOS users have a way do that - now they can access Amazon's huge catalogue of music, features like personalised recommendations, deals like albums for £3.99 and songs for 89p and they can buy their music once and use it everywhere,"
said Steve Boom, Vice President of Amazon Music.

Pink_Floyd_Large_1233758930_crop_500x338.jpgGreat news for space rockers, psych heads and anyone who just likes a bit of Comfortably Numb. It appears that the Pink Floyd catalogue is coming to Spotify. The English group are one of only a handful of bands who haven't yet made an agreement with the music streaming service - there's more here including The Beatles and Oasis - and given that the band's mid 70s opus Dark Side of the Moon remains one of the most popular albums ever this is big news for Spotify.

Back in May several Pink Floyd albums landed on the site but were withdrawn quickly,.
This time round the track Wish You Were here has been added to the service and this cryptic tweet has come from the band.

To unlock the catalogue Wish You Were Here has to be streamed one million times. So come on Spotify users get cracking. Mind you if it was See Emily Play they would have done it by now.

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We wrote about Twitter's new music app a while back, so it is good to see that is is finally set to land in the UK today.

Annoyingly the app, which allows users to discover new artists and songs by offering recommendations based on the people the user follows on the social network, is iPhone only for now.

There's no update on when an Android or even Windows version will become available.

The app, which is culled from the We Are Hunted music discovery service, which Twitter recently acquired, then plays the music in one of a number of platforms including iTunes, Soundcloud, Spotify and Rdio.

T"[#Music] uses Twitter activity, including Tweets and engagement, to detect and surface the most popular tracks and emerging artists," said Twitter's Stephen Philips on the company blog.

"It also brings artists' music-related Twitter activity front and centre: go to their profiles to see which music artists they follow and listen to songs by those artists. And, of course, you can tweet songs right from the app."

kindle-fire-hd.jpgThere are rumours today that Amazon are on the cusp of launching a digital music streaming service to rival Spotify, Pandora and any other not yet launched services from Apple and Google.

The Verge is suggesting that Amazon, which is in talks with music companies, would integrate the service into its cloud music storage and Cloud Player products.

The big question for the retailer though is how much will a streamed service eat into its MP3 sales? I guess it might take quite a chunk if buyers are offered the chance to stream music rather than buy it?

The other big question is whether the service will be free to use or be paid for by a subscription?

I guess Amazon will wait to see what its rivals - Apple and Google (via YouTube) - both of whom could have services later this year - are planning. If it charges for the service it might also end up as a freebie bundled with the Kindle Fire and maybe even its rumoured new smartphone.

It does beg the question - will streamed music play an important part in the way that you shop for a tablet in the future? It could mean that if you buy a device (iPad/Nexus/Kindle Fire) that you get the service on board as freebie. Or possibly that you if you subscribe to the service then you get the hardware at a reduced price or even for free.

If this business model does develop then it could put a lot of pressure on Spotify to partner with a manufacturer too. Maybe a deal with Samsung?

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Didn't see this one coming. There's going to be another big player in the online music market - Twitter.

In a scoop from Cnet, the website says that after acquiring the music discovery service We Are Hunted last year Twitter is now going to put together an Apple iPhone and iPad iOS app called Twitter Music that enables users to find new music and see what their friends are listening to.

It could be available as soon as the end of the month.

According to Cnet it will work by...

'...suggesting artists and songs to listen to based on a variety of signals, and is personalised based on which accounts a user follows on Twitter. Songs are streamed to the app via SoundCloud.'

The move might be a little surprising but it makes a lot of sense for Twitter.

Firstly Facebook has dallying in the music streaming space via its clever alliance with Spotify. Twitter wants to evolve into a more mainstream media company more like Facebook, so adding music to its menu of services is an essential move.

Twitter also boasts accounts from a lot of high profile musicians many of whom have millions of followers too, and I imagine that their input will be incorporated into the app.

There's a lot more detail about how the service will work at the Cnet article, but to give you a brief picture the service works around four main tabs.

'Suggested' recommends songs and artists based on a user's follower graph -- artists they are following, and artists that other people they follow are following. #NowPlaying brings in links to songs tweeted by people you follow who tweet using that hashtag.
Popular' brings in songs trending on We are Hunted, and an 'Emerging' tab tracks up-and-coming artists.'

When the user taps on the file then they are taken to any music that is stored on SoundCloud, or to song previews from the iTunes store.

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Personally I think that the weakness with the service is the Soundcloud/iTunes support. Twitter really should have opted for Spotify (in Europe) and maybe Pandora (in the US) both of which offer full streaming of tracks and have massive online catalogues.

What I can see this app doing is giving artists who use Twitter the chance to get closer to their followers.

However I am not sure how popular it will prove to be?

What do you think? Are you ready to find out about the people you follows music taste? Or do you find the 'now playing' streams on Facebook irritating and think Twitter Music could be just as annoying?

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Record shop, and I guess we can call that again now, Rough Trade has been doing brisk business in spite of the difficulties that have afflicted some of its rivals.

Now it is turning its attention its online offering and delivering a very interesting new service.

In association with The Guardian, it is launching Tracks of the Week. Basically you sign up and pay £2.99 a week, and every Friday six new tracks will land in your inbox.

And before you say - why can't you just check them out on Spotify, Rough Trade are promising some fascinating stuff and exclusives that won't be available anywhere else.

Also you won't know what they are until they reach you - which is where the excitement lies.

You can also get 24 free tracks if you sign up here.

Now if they could get some big names to sign up this could be really fun. It only works though for people with catholic taste in music as knowing Rough Trade you could receive some scratchy US indie alongside some quirky London urban sounds.

As Stephen Godfroy of Rough Trade says: "We're delighted to offer, in partnership with the Guardian, a music service that offers genuine digital value and excitement for the music lover. Not knowing what you're going to receive each week replicates the thrilling sense of adventure felt in our stores, providing customers a priceless moment of trusted discovery, surprise and joy."

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Last night team Shiny Shiny went along to an exclusive Spotify event here in London to learn about what the popular music streaming service has planned after its most successful year ever with a whole load of new customers and countries under its belt.

We watched a livestreamed keynote speech from Spotify's CEO and all round nice guy Daniel Ek, in which the Swede introduced a number of new updates that will be coming to the platform over the next few months.

The most exciting one comes in the form of a new "Discover" tab in the desktop version of Spotify, which will suggest new tracks based on all kinds of information about the user. You'll even be able to see the context at the side, explaining why certain artists and albums have been served up to you. Ek showed us some examples of tracks that were brought up for him to remind him of his youth or other artists that have similar influences to his favourites.

There will also be new Twitter-style follow features, which will allow Spotify users to keep tabs on artists, friends and celebrities whose music or taste in music they like. If those people then upload a new track or make a new playlist you'll receive an automatic update straight to your phone.

We're excited about seeing the updates "in the wild" and will write up a full review once we've had a play around with them all.

However, the night wasn't just about the raft of new features that'll be introduced to Spotify, but a new band too. In a surprise that had everyone giggling and gasping, Ek revealed that heavy metal superstars Metallica will be releasing their entire back catalogue through the Swedish music platform. ROCK ON! Or something much cooler...

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A new study into music piracy has revealed that super boring singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran is the UK's most pirated artist. Come on guys, we thought you all had more refined musical taste!

The new research, published by Musicmetric, also revealed that Drake is the most pirated artist in the US. Overall the data shows that 40 million albums and singles were shared in the UK, while 96.6 million were shared in the US.

Globally good ol' Rhi Rhi was the most downloaded artist overall, with her latest album Talk That Talk racking up 1.2 million illegal downloads.

Despite directly affecting his sales, Ed Sheeran proved optimistic about the figures when he was questioned about it in a BBC interview, stating that downloads are likely to inspire fans to come to his gigs (something that they can't pirate) from which he earns more money anyway. Fair enough.

However, as you'd expect, it's not a sentiment shared by industry executives. Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the BPI, said:

"A lot of people are getting very rich from stealing other people's things.

"That's wrong, and we think that musicians deserve to be paid for what they do, just like everyone else."

You can view a breakdown of the tracks that have been downloaded the most in your area by putting your postcode into a new music widget provided by the BBC.

Let us know in the comments below who the most shared artists in your area is... Everyone around our office in central London apparently can't get enough of Lady Gaga.

[Via Tech Digest]

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