At this moment, 70% of the world music market is controlled by the Big Four. For those who aren’t very record label concious, we’re talking about EMI, Warner, Sony/BMG and Universal. What that means to you, or any other person who listens to the radio at some point in their day, is that those 4 companies have a huge influence over what you hear. While that may be a depressing thought, hear this: many in the recording industry, including the aforementioned labels, believe that the power balance is quickly changing. The rejuvination of independent labels, along with the all the internet has to offer(podcasts, downloads, file sharing, and piracy, to name a few) are helping to create a shift in power.
In theory, the whole development of the market digitally should be to the benefit of independents. Online, people are more likely to download catalogue, they’re more likely to download lesser-known bands - and that’s good for independents.
Read More | BBC News
It seems not everyone agrees with the RIAA’s bullying techniques. On Monday, a Federal Court in Michigan overturned the RIAA’s case against the mother of a 13 year old girl accused of file swapping. Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice due to the fact that the girl’s mother couldn’t be held responsible for her daughter’s downloading habits. Don’t get too excited though - Judge Zatkoff did say in his decision that case was dismissed without prejudice to any other person other than the defendant, so I think it’s more than safe to say this isn’t the last time we’ll be hearing from the greedy plaintiff that is the RIAA.
Read More | The Inquirer
If you liked the iBall then you’ll love Oregon Scientific’s sleekly designed 2.1 CD system. It plays MP3/WMA CDs and has an AM/FM Tuner. The flat panel speakers are designed to be angled easily. At £299 expect the system to pack a punch later this year upon it’s release.
Read More | Tech Digest
Defenitly one of the most uniquely designed iPod accessories we have seen - the iBall. Made by Oregon Scientific, the iBall is a wireless speaker system that uses 2.4 GHz technology to broadcast up to 100ft. It runs 6-8 hours after a full charge or you can plug in the AC adapter as well. The iBall will be out later this year for a mere $300.
Apple just released iTunes 5.0.1 into the wild:
iTunes 5 features a new even more powerful instant search, including the new Search Bar which helps you find exactly what you are looking for in iTunes or from among 2 million songs on the Music Store, folders for organizing playlists, and new Parental Controls for music, music sharing and podcasts. iTunes 5.0.1 features several stability improvements over iTunes 5.
Those stability problems mentioned include disappearing music and random crashes. Here’s to hoping all that is taken care of. Mac users, check Software Update for the download.
Read More | iTunes
I recently purchased the M-Audio Keystation 49e midi controller and I’m very pleased with it. For the price (129.99) you can’t really beat the quality, which doesn’t surprise me given M-Audio’s impressive track record.
The keys are slightly weighted, making them feel a lot more like a real piano, and they are thankfully noiseless no matter how hard you tend to rock out when you play, avoiding that irritating clicking that can come with some midi keyboards. Another great feature: it’s USB powered, so you don’t need to plug it in. However, if you feel the need, it takes a fairly standard 9V DC power adapter. For even more flexibility, you can connect via USB or MIDI, so even if you lack MIDI capability on your current system, you can still use the device. That’s a great feature for people looking to try out electronic music production without buying a ton of gear. Along with a 49 key spread, it features pitch blend and modulation wheels, foot-pedal input compatibility, the keyboard is velocity sensitive, and has a volume control knob. It includes drivers for not only previous versions of Windows, but also for Mac OS 9, making it a very versatile device.
The Keystation 49e is a great choice for seasoned electronic musicians as well as beginners just looking into having a keyboard to play with. On a scale of 10, I’d give it a 10, for sure.
Read More | M-Audio Keystation 49e
Finally, after months and months of speculation and delay, the Motorola ROKR E1 iTunes Phone has been unveiled. The phone can hold up to 100 tracks which can be accomplished in one of three ways - random autofill through iTunes, purchased over the air at $2 per track (double what it would cost if you just waited and did it at home), and manual loading over USB. Interestingly, the phone features external stereo speakers which can be used to play music, but also includes a headphone plug. In fact, the phone comes with headphones (pictured above) that also have a mic built-in. This makes it easy to set up the phone to pause the current track to allow you to take a call without having to bust out the phone. The bad news? The only way you will be able to use this one is if you are already - or are willing to become - a Cingular customer. It’s $250 USD with a 2-year contract. Here are a few more details:
- iTunes player with dedicated key
- 850/1800/1900 MHz Tri-band GSM/GPRS
- Weight: 3.77 oz
- Dimensions: 4.25 x 1.81 x .80 in
- Display: 176 x 220, up to 262 colors TFT
- VGA Camera, 4x Zoom, flash and video record
- Music Tones
- Bluetooth Capable for voice calls
- Talk Time: Up to 9 hours/560 min
- Standby Time: Up to 9 days/230 hrs
Steve keeps the goods coming with the announcement of an iTunes update that will be available later today. iTunes 5.0 includes a host of updates, some major, others subtle. One change within the Music Store is the addition of album reviews. There are already at least 1000 album reviews in version 5.0, so it shouldn’t be too hard to see what they look like once the download becomes available. On the Windows side of things, iTunes will now be able to sync Outlook contact and calendar data to the iPod (iTunes Mac has been doing this with Address Book and iCal). There are also improvements to how iTunes handles shuffled music, adding in a Smart Shuffle feature, allowing you to tweak just how random you want the music to be.
During this morning’s keynote, Steve Jobs just announced a new iPod that is inspired by a third party. With the announcement that all six Harry Potter novels will be available in audio form exclusively to the iTunes Music Store, Steve also made it known that Apple has made a Harry Potter iPod, which will have Hogwart’s crest etched into the back. The Apple Store is now down, which means that we can expect to see the Harry Potter iPod, along with the other new products being introduced, within the next couple of hours.
The Music Genome Project is behind this service. It used to be an invitation only service, similar to Gmail, and its features that sound pretty impressive. It uses an end-user rating system where you rate whether you like what is playing or not.
A new service allowing you to create your own radio station, shareable with friends, and made up with as many, custom-created and personalized music-channels as you like has made its public debut in the last few hours.
Basically, it’s like Yahoo! Launch, except extremely customizable and sharable. This cool service costs $36 for a year or $12 for 3 months.