News October 27, 2015

Digital Digest – August 15, 2013

Rdio launches Stations feature 

Last week saw the release of Rdio’s new and improved “Stations” feature.

Users can choose from ten types of stations or have the ability to launch a stream of music by choosing an artist, song or genre.

The ‘You FM’ function is the most exciting feature: a personalised service where Rdio automatically plays your favourite tracks, based on information from your Rdio listening history, plus pages or bands you’ve liked on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

There’s also a “heavy rotation” function which streams music based on what those you follow on Rdio have been listening to recently.

Spotify to add chat feature 

Spotify’s previous Inbox feature was clumsy at best, with no notifications as to whether a message had been sent, and no outbox to speak of. They are now upping the ante with a new ‘chat’ feature, which replaces the inbox in real time.

While is an interesting feature, and will no doubt help with user interaction, there are a few issues we can see popping up, mostly that Spotify is very much used as a background app, being minimised for the majority of its life.

Another issue is that users cannot simply start a conversation with one another, they first need to share music. Hopefully this unnecessary step doesn’t make it past the beta stage, and they can also bypass the need to have Spotify’s browser window open.

Charlie Hellman, VP of Product at Spotfiy told tech journalVenturebeat they aren’t attempting to best social networks.

“Sending songs back and forth has been there for a while, but we wanted to take that further. Our goal is not to compete with social networks like Facebook […] but we want to let people talk about music.”

Rhapsody posts losses of $9.2 million for the first half of 2013

Despite being a pay-only service, with more than a decade of brand-loyalty, and over one million subscribers, Rhapsody has been posting losses every year for more than ten years.

This latest six month period saw the service, which is 45% owned by RealNetworks (who posted the sorry statement), lose $9.2 million; asDigitalMusicNews points out, this result is far worse than their first-half-2012 balance sheet, and may be a result of their resistance to support ad-supported users, while shifting away from both MP3 downloads and advertising on their homepage.

Pirate Bay launch their own browser to circumvent censorship in certain countries. 

Online outlaws Pirate Bay seem committed to the cause of free exchange of information (some call it piracy) by launching their own browser: PirateBrowser, which is a work-around for countries such as the UK, Italy and others that block the filesharing (some call it piracy) site. In their own words: “PirateBrowser is a bundle package of the Tor client (Vidalia), FireFox Portable browser (with foxyproxy addon) and some custom configs that allows you to circumvent censorship that certain countries such as Iran, North Korea, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Italy and Ireland impose onto their citizens.”

The revolution will be digitalised 

The New Yorker published an interesting piece by the always-brilliant Sasha Frere Jones, in which he interviews a handful of musicians – Dave Allen of Gang Of Four (who is also Director of Digital Strategy at North Inc), DJ Rupture and Damon Krukowski from Galaxie 5000 – who discuss the changing models of music and monetisation.

Rather than being a tired piece bemoaning technology and wishing for the glory years that never were, the common consensus seems to be that these shifting models allow greater business control, and interaction with fans and those who wish to purchase or access music. Moreso, it argues, hunger for content and ease of access will always trump traditional model and legal battles. Among the many insights was this quote from Allen.

“When the Internet smacked down the music industry there was an attempt to back-fill the holes that were left behind. But trying to make up for lost revenue in the past is a costly enterprise and doesn’t ensure success. Companies must start from scratch. I see starting from scratch for musicians as a huge opportunity—even as the existing record-industry system still tantalises musicians with its false promises. The two Seans who built Napster; Alex Ljung, who built SoundCloud; and Daniel Ek, who built Spotify all used the Internet’s low barrier to entry to get their startups off the ground, and they weren’t hampered by having to bend to the system.

“Years ago, Clay Shirky wrote a piece on the end of print journalism and disruption. In it he wrote: ’That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. The importance of any given experiment isn’t apparent at the moment it appears; big changes stall, small changes spread.’

“Perhaps it’s time for hundreds of small ideas for change to be put into place and see what evolves? The next phase of Kickstarter, Bandcamp, Beatport-type innovations kicked off by creative artists of all stripes. For all we know it’s happening now.”

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