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This Is How Apple And Spotify Should Improve Their Streaming Music Services

There are a lot of things Apple and Spotify can do to improve their streaming music services, but trying to encourage more discovery is the most salient.

The biggest “problem” with both Apple Music and Spotify remains discoverability. How do you take the world’s collection of music, and boil it down so that people don’t feel overwhelmed? After all, people are paying for 30 million+ songs, they want to move beyond just the handful of albums they listen to regularly.

Listen to more music

There’s curated playlists (think Spotify’s Discover Weekly) or dedicated radio (think Beats 1 internet radio station), but still, people need more help finding new music to listen to–especially in certain moments.

The answer is to continually let people know when artists they’ve liked in the past, do new things in the future. From there, you can branch people out to similar artists and bring in music around activities. First, though, you have to create the habit in people to want new music–and look for it.

If you’ve added an artist, album, or song to your library there’s a 99-percent chance you want to know when that artist puts out new music. This should be very obvious to everyone, but it’s not quite yet.

Apple does have this feature buried in the “For You” section of its music app, but it’s still limited. Record Bird is a good example of an app that already does this and do it really well too. Record Bird will let you know when artists you follow put out music videos, do interviews, or release new music.

Advanced options

Beyond some of those simpler items, it would be great to see more sophisticated algorithms as well. Keeping track of artists you’ve listened to more than once, but never included in your library. Or, artists your friends have listened to, which are similar to artists you do have in your library.

Once a streaming music service has covered all the items it can guarantee you’ll like, it can move on to more educated guesses about things it’s not sure about. Since streaming music services make their money from recurring revenue, it’s important to keep providing that recurring value to customers. Increasing discoverability is probably the easiest thing a service can do.

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Listen To Drake’s Scorpion, Florence + the Machine, Plus Sicario 2 In Theaters

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Music out today

Drake dropped his new album Scorpion today, which features JAY-Z and Michael Jackson, among others.

Florence + the machine‘s new album is also out today which features an evolved sound.

For some new, undiscovered music check out the latest from Saints of Valory, NONONO, MxPx, and The Asteroids Galaxy Tour.

Movies out today

A movie about drug trafficking which gets pretty crazy, pretty quick, the Sicario sequel is hitting at an interesting time in U.S. politics in which border talk is very intense.

Other things this week

 

 

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Fresh Friday: Ocean’s 8 In Theaters, Plus New Music From Khalid And Sugarland

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Here’s some new stuff to listen to

Khalid has a new single, “This Way,” which appears on the Superfly movie soundtrack.

Hardcore rock fans will enjoy a new track from Thrice called “The Grey.” The same people might also appreciate that The Get Up Kids have a new, four song EP out today.

Country fans can look forward to new Sugarland and Dierks Bentley.

R&B artist Jorja Smith is getting some love from those in the know and could be one of this year’s need-to-know artists.

Plus, new stuff from Dave Matthews Band, Smashing Pumpkins, and Ne-Yo, all for a blast from the past.

Movies now out in theaters

Solo: A Star Wars Story may have officially kicked off the summer movie blockbuster season,  but I think it’s safe to say Ocean’s 8 may be the more interesting film to start summer with. Ocean’s 11-13 were silly capers and hopefully Ocean’s 8 can be the same. These movies don’t need to take themselves too seriously, just provide a cohesive and fun story.

Sure, Won’t You Be My Neighbor is a documentary, opening in theaters this week, but don’t discount it. The movie has gotten rave initial reviews and, from the trailer, looks like a real tearjerker.

Other things from the week

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Use Your Voice To Control This New Home Speaker From Sonos

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At an event today, Sonos announced its new compact TV sound bar, called Sonos Beam, which will be available in July for $399.

Sonos Beam is the company’s cheapest home theater sound bar to-date, but the biggest feature is that Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant comes built in.

Not only will the sound bar connect to your TV for better sound with movies, it also works as a standalone internet connected speaker, and use Alexa to request music on demand—just like Google Home and Apple’s HomePod.

Beam
Image via Wired

Because Sonos Beam will be connected to your TV, you’ll also be able to ask Alexa to turn the TV on or off and the volume up or down, without fumbling for the remote.

Part of the Sonos Beam event was the announcement that AirPlay 2 support is coming both to Beam and some of its newer speakers in July. That feature will let you use Siri for play music to Sonos’ speakers. Those speakers will also gain additonal support for connecting with iOS devices updated to iOS 11.4.

What’s special about Sonos?

Sonos speakers are internet connected. They are made to replace home stereos and connect to Wi-Fi which will let them play any song, directly available from most streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and 80 more.

Unlike Bluetooth speakers, however, which connect directly to your phone and can be interrupted if you watch a video or go out of range, Sonos’ Wi-Fi speakers are initiated from your phone, computer, and now voice, but aren’t tied to the device controlling them.

Sonos Beam is interesting for several reasons. It puts a voice-controlled, high fidelity speaker potentially at the center of your home by making it part of your home theater setup. It’s one of the first speakers to support multiple voice assistants as well, like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant in the future.

At first blush, $399 may seem a bit steep for a speaker, but killing two birds with one stone and getting good TV sound along with a smart speaker starts to look pretty attractive.

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The Top 6 Apps Every Music Lover Needs To Download

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Whether you’re a musician or just a lover of music, here are six apps that you can use to create music, move around playlists, or just keep track of bands you like, all on your phone.

Record Bird – never miss a new song

Record Bird lets you know anytime an artist you like puts out new music. How? The app scans your music library, your Spotify account, or another music service you use and then creates a personalized list of new music releases. Beyond new music, Record Bird can keep you informed when bands from your library do interviews, release new music videos, and even when they put out vinyl records.

Hum – capture those song ideas

Charlie Puth has been talking about his new album Voicenotes and how a lot of the songs started as little ideas he recorded on his phone to remember later. Hum is like the default Voice Memos app on iPhone, but designed with musicians in mind. You can tag entries with the song key, tempo, and add lyrics alongside the audio recording. Think of Hum as a digital napkin to capture those song ideas.

humapp

Music Memos – record a demo on-the-go

Music Memos is similar to Hum, but more involved. Not only will the app record song ideas from, but it will analyze the music it hears to you the key the song is in, and can automatically add accompanying instrumentation based on the that key and tempo. Music Memos falls somewhere between Voice Memos being able to record audio, and Garageband which is a full recording studio app.

Songshift – transfer playlists between music services

Songshift helps cuts the chains of various music streaming services. If you want to try Apple Music, but have dozens of playlists already created in Spotify, for example, this app will help you move all those over to the new service.

The pro version of Songshift can also do some cool things like automatically keep playlists across different services in sync. That means that you could keep a YouTube music playlist updated whenever you add music to your Spotify playlist.

song shift

Figure – play an instrument, even if you don’t know how

Figure will let anyone make music. Seriously, anyone. Whether you’ve never touched a musical instrument in you life, or not, you can use the Figure app. Figure features bass, percussion, and synth sounds which can all be mixed with each other. This is the type of app that could even be used in a band setting, playing along with other people. Match the key and everything you play will sound great.

You should try it; it’s super fun.

figure app

8Tracks – radio-like playlists for every occasion  

Pandora is fine, but it’s all automated by computers and the music choices it selects can get stale. 8Tracks music can solve that problem.

Instead of computer suggested songs, 8Tracks is playlists created exclusively by humans. Because of this, you’ll find a playlist and music for your situation. Want chill music for a rainy day to do homework to? You’ll probably find a radio-like playlist someone made for it. 8Tracks is a community of music lovers, making music more social than even Spotify.

8tracks

If you like music, be sure to check back each Friday for our Fresh Friday coverage of new music and movie releases each week.

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Fresh Friday: Adrift In Theaters, New Music From Kanye West, The 1975, And More

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New music for your ears

We knew it was coming, but Kanye West’s Ye is finally here. Is there anything else to say about it?

Charli XCX released “5 in the morning” which she says is the tip of the iceberg of new music she has coming out.

Indie rock band, The 1975 are back with, “Give Yourself a Try.”

The always head turning duo of Scarlett Johansson and Pete Yorn is as good as ever and worth a listen.

When will the Pusha T and Drake feud end? The only thing clear is that it is bringing a lot of new music each and every day.

There’s also new music today from Owl City, Future, Father John Misty, and Kitten, among others.

Get out and see these movies in theaters

Adrift is the true story from 1983 of two people fighting for their lives to survive a crazy storm alone in the middle of the ocean. Sure there’s been other crazy storm films before, but this one has heart. Plus, fun facts: the two actors performed all the stunts themselves and almost all the shots at sea were actually filmed in the open ocean.

If you have time after Adrift, also check out Action Point, a movie loosely based on Action Park, a crazy amusement park which is likely the reason for stricter ride regulations today. 

Other things that happened this week

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Fresh Friday: Han Solo Star Wars Movie, New Music From Chvrches, Pusha T, And More

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This week’s new music

Alternative, electronic-laced band Chvrches have finally dropped a new album and it’s great. It includes an appearance by The National singer on “My Enemy,” if you need another reason to add the album to your library. Basically, don’t hesitate, just give it a listen.

Maggie Rogers impressed Pharrell with her song “Alaska” a few years back, but she now has a new indie-pop song called “Falling Water”. Pusha T has a new album, Daytona, which people are fawning over.

Don’t forget about hit makers from the early 2000s are back this week, led by Snow Patrol with a new album and Weezer with a new song. Sure, these two bands aren’t in the same league as one another, but it’s something new for radio DJs to burn into your ears.

Other new music from: A$SP Rocky, Shawn Mendes, and Jessie J.

New movies in theaters starting today

The big movie this week is Solo: A Star Wars Story. A spin off from the traditional Star Wars movies, Solo centers around Han Solo before we knew him as Luke’s pal. No Spoilers, but it’s pretty good. Not as good as Rogue One, but still intriguing.

Other things that happened this week

  • Hey! You probably didn’t see, but a few companies updated their privacy policies this week. The general data protection regulation (GDPR) goes into effect in Europe 5/25/18. Here are a few simple things you can do to protect your privacy in a few minutes.
  • YouTube Music was officially released. Say goodbye to YouTube Red and hello to YouTube Premium if you want access to YouTube original content.
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Fresh Friday: Deadpool 2 In Theaters, Plus New Music From James Bay, Ray LaMontagne, And More

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Discover this week’s new music

A bunch of artists, all creating music in a similar vein have new releases this week. If you like James Bay’s soulful rock music, then there’s a good chance you’ll also enjoy Ray LaMontagne’s adult contemporary rock, or Matt Costa’s folk-rock jams.

Anderson .Paak released a new song, “Bubblin;” and K-pop sensation, BTS put out Love Yourself [Tear].

Get out of the house this weekend

Marvel’s adult-themed superhero, Deadpool is back with a sequel. There’s not much to say about the movie at this point; either you’ve seen all the parody marketing Deadpool 2 has been doing and want to see it, or you know it’s not for you.

Sure, there are other movies out in theaters today, but Deadpool 2 is the one to see.

Other things that happened this week

If you’d rather watch Fresh Friday, instead of read, that video is below. See you back here next week for Solo: A Star Wars Story and more of the latest releases.

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5 Non-Music Apps To Drown Out Annoying Office Noise

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The drone of constant coughing, talking, loud sneezing, squeaking chairs, erratic typing, and various noises from an office can be a lot to handle sometimes. Sure, you could pop on some headphones and listen to music, but music, for a lot of people, can be just as distracting. (It’s also a pain to continually find something to listen to.) Instead, these apps provide a wide array of other sounds to help you stay calm and focus on the task at hand.

Noizio 

Noizio is a straightforward and simple sound machine at heart. The app features a bunch of different sounds listed out which you can enable or disable as needed. You can set the volume for each selected sound. Once you fine-tune a great mix you can save it as a preset for future use.

For example, say you want to you want to mimic summer nights in the Midwest, you can make a soundscape featuring farm animals, wind, and light rain. Noizio keeps adding new sounds such as vinyl cracks, keyboard typing, subway, ghosty, and a bunch more to create unique mixes.

Tide

Tide is designed to keep you moving and productive, even if that means being asleep. It has two different modes, one for focus, to help with work or school, and another for sleep. On the sleep side, Tide can help you go to sleep at night with its soothing sounds, or, you can set a short timer to knock out a quick power-nap. While its sound library isn’t as deep as others, it’s set up to add more in the future.

Nosili

Nosili is probably the simplest app of the bunch with a dozen big pictures and volume controls under each. It functions similarly to Noizio, but does include an all-important fan sound, which a lot of people seem to enjoy.

Coffitivity

Like it sounds, Coffitivity is trying to combine coffee (or coffee shop sounds) and productivity, as lots of people say they work better in the hustle and bustle of a crowded coffee shop. Coffitivity is recreating that– no matter where you are.

Thunderspace, Windy, Sunny

Instead of one sound app, Taptanium (an app creator) made a bunch of separate apps focused on specific sounds.

windy app

Taptanium is like that friend who gets into a hobby innocently enough, but, four weeks later, is up at three in the morning, bidding on eBay Beanie Babies, in need of their next rare collectible fix. Not only did Taptanium put out a bunch of sound apps, but, it began to incorporate stories and give the sounds their own personalities–the female Windy, for example.

Thunderspace is a crazy-good thunder and rain machine app. It’s stereoscopic, so, with headphones on, you feel like the sound is all around you. All the apps are well done; even if you don’t get into the whole story aspect of the app.

windy app 2

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Fresh Friday: New Music From Selena Gomez, Ty Dolla $ign, Plus New Movies In Theaters

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Listen to this

Selena Gomez released a new song called “Back to You” which will be featured on the upcoming second season of the Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why.

Charlie Puth dazzles with his new album Voicenotes.

“New Light” is a surprise new song from John Mayer. Ty Dolla $ign released the album Beach House 3, not to be confused with the indie rock band Beach House which also put out a new album today called 7.

If that’s not enough, there’s also new music from pop singer Tove Styrke, rising alternative band Courtship., and crooner Ellie Schmidly–all of which are worth your time.

Movies now in theaters

Life of the party: Melissa McCarthy is in it, need you say more? Even if the movie is a dud, the larger-than-life actress typically provides enough value to justify a movie’s ticket price.

Breaking in: This film looks like an intense scene from a movie or TV show that got expanded into a whole movie. It appears to be trying gain favor with audiences by tapping into most people’s primal fears and instincts around home robberies. Hopefully there’s a little more depth than meets the eye in the trailer.

Other need-to-know things from the week

  • Spotify is removing R. Kelly’s music from its curated playlists because of repeat allegations of sexual abuse; and will presumably be doing this with more artists in the future.
  • Say goodbye to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fox decided to cancel the show after five seasons.
  • Early reviews and hype for the new Star Wars movie, Solo is strong. This should help fans breathe a little easier until they can see it for themselves in a few weeks.
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Music Hype: Kid Astray Interview

kid astray photo

Kid Astray is your next need-to-know band dropping fire through your headphones. Their self-described music is “tangy pop with heavy nods towards indie and rock.” They have been steadily releasing killer tracks since 2013, continually whittling away fluff from their songs and replacing it with increasingly addictive melodies. For comparison sake, they say to think Foster The People, a direct and early influence of the band members.

Hear more from Kid Astray about what drives their music and what apps keep them creative.

The Digital Hype: How do you think your music has changed from your first album in ~2013 to this new EP in 2018?

Kid Astray: It’s interesting that you’re asking just that, as one of the main reasons this EP is quite different from ‘Home Before The Dark’ is because our focus and goals were quite different.

Back then we really focused on making it as catchy and fluent as possible, and we worked with a lot of different songwriters and a producer to try and force our sound to progress fast. It was a great experience that we learned a lot from, so it’s not something we regret in any way, but with this EP we’ve sort of done the opposite. Gone back to just writing something that we think is cool, doing everything from production to the artwork ourselves.

TDH: What songs are you seeing people responding to the most so far?

KA: The singles from our debut album have the best streaming numbers, “Back To The Ordinary” in particular. That’s kinda cool, because it was the one track on the album we spent the most time on, and we initially had some serious doubts about it. Right now we’re very excited to see how people like the new tracks.

They’re five pretty different tracks, showcasing different aspects of Kid Astray.

TDH: Are there any political or social issues that have influenced your music?

KA: It’s sort of inevitable to be influenced by politics and social stuff, obviously. We have never actually written an intended political song, and have sort of steered consciously away from that area, as it doesn’t really align with our wishes and visions. But we do voice our opinions  other places.

TDH: As musicians in the digital age, are there any apps you would consider indispensable to your creation process or performances?

KA: Uuuh, cool question!

  • Shazam and Soundhound, definitely. Inspiration can come everywhere, and it really helps to be able to find out what that awesome tune is anywhere anytime.
  • Apple’s own recording app is a must for recording melodies and early demos, and a great tool for songwriting. An idea for a song might present itself at any time, so it is really important to record it before it’s gone, even though it might be a bit awkward to be singing into your phone on a bus or a train. Apple´s note app for writing down lyrics and everything.
  • WhatsApp for keeping all our super secret conversations  and personal jokes… well, secret.

TDH: What social network/platform has been the most beneficial so far and you see being important into the future?

Facebook and Instagram are the boring but truthful answer. They’re both getting increasingly difficult to work with, with posts having little to no impact unless you know the mysterious algorithms or throw some money on it.

I think now Spotify is gradually turning into the single most important arena for promoting music, occupying a lot of the space that social media, and even music press used to occupy. At least in Scandinavia.

If you’re really good with videos, YouTube is really cool and great hub for bands, so we hope to do a lot more there in the future. But it’s really hard to tell, since these things change really fast.

 

Be sure to follow the band on Twitter, Spotify, Apple Music, Instagram, and all other places quality music is found.

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5 Reasons To Buy An Apple Watch If You’re On The Fence

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Apple Watch went on sale in the U.S. just over three years ago–in April 2015. Considering Apple has dominated the sale of not just smart watches, but all high-end watches, there’s a good chance you’ve considered buying one.

The first question is a typically a variation of: what can it do?

Right now, the Apple Watch is still largely an accessory of the iPhone, used as an extension like the original iPod was an extension of a someone’s personal computer.

Apple Watch is most known for its ability to display notifications and track workout information, but it can do a lot of other cool things. Here’s 5 reasons you might want to add one to your wrist.

Unlock your Mac

Macs with macOS Sierra operating system and later and Apple Watches with the latest software can work together to verify your identity and unlock your computer when you wake it from sleep. It’s usually the small, mundane tasks that create the most irritation, so, being able to sit down, open the lid of your Macbook or wake up your iMac without entering your password (but still keeping your computer secure) is a brilliant thing.

Track your heart rate, minute-by-minute

Going beyond tracking a single workout or taking your pulse once in awhile, continuously tracking your heart rate in the background may prove to be invaluable one day. Your heart rate is a great gauge of overall health and it can be an excellent first indicator if something is wrong or off balance. Apple Watch can track years of data for your doctor, as well as monitor your heart for irregular rhythms.

Quick flashlight

Slide up the control center (quick controls) screen on your Apple Watch and tap the flashlight icon. You’ll see a dim white screen. Rotate your wrist outwards and the light will get brighter to illuminate your way. Rotate your wrist back towards you and the light will get dim again (so it doesn’t blind you when you turn it off).

Gym DJ

The Apple Watch paired with a wireless, Bluetooth, headset can be the only music device you need as your gym-buddy. This has been the case from the beginning, but, in the early days, it was super complicated to use music playback on the watch by itself. Now, updates have  addressed these issues.

Apple Music’s streaming app now comes built in, which means if you’ve got the cellular-connected model of the watch, you can stream your music on the fly (versus having to rely on pre-download songs). Wireless headphones are also easier to pair directly from the watch with the newest software. With these updates, you’re free to throw your phone in your gym locker, shed the extra weight and responsibility, and work out with nothing but your headphones and the watchband.

Help you take better selfies

The camera app on the Apple Watch is not new, but it often gets forgotten and overlooked. Who doesn’t want to take a better selfie without holding the phone? Here’s how it works:

  • Open the app on the watch
  • (the camera app on your phone should open)
  • Set your phone on a tripod or other dock
  • Check the preview on your wrist, then snap your picture
  • Alternatively, you can take a 3-second delayed burst shot with 12 shots in succession