Media

iTunes Radio Is Now "Apple Music" (and You Need a Subscription) 105

New submitter Kevin by the Beach writes: If you haven't noticed... If you try to play iTunes radio on your devices it is now paywalled (you can get a free three month trial at apple.com/music). The only reason I noticed is that I have an Apple TV which at one time had an iTunes Radio App. That app is no longer. Same is true if you select Music on your iOS devices, if you get to the iTunes Radio menu, you are redirected to sign up for the free trial. This reminds me of why I am forever reluctant to trade the music I have locally (on CDs, hard drives, and a few bits of vinyl I've been unwilling to jettison) for any kind of streaming service, whether it promises perpetuity or good-until-next-payment.
Earth

Flat-Earth Argument Results in Rap Battle (npr.org) 234

New submitter mjjochen writes: A little something to make you smile (or cry). NPR reports on astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson calling out rapper B.o.B. in a Twitter (& rap) argument over the status of the earth (are we round or flat?). Rapper B.o.B. references the usual conspiracy theories to support his case in his throwdown (music). Neil deGrasse Tyson responds (actually, his nephew does), on why B.o.B.'s points are not very well-informed (music). As Tyson puts it, "Duude — to be clear: Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn't mean we all can't still like your music." Shall we start leeching the four humors from the body again to achieve balance? Hrm.
The Internet

Spotify To Launch New Video Product This Week (thestack.com) 9

An anonymous reader writes: After first announcing the introduction of a video streaming service in May last year, Spotify is finally launching the feature this week. The Swedish company has taken its time tinkering with the new product and beta testing it on groups for months, readying it for its widespread rollout. Not all of the video content will be music-related – keeping the product's potential wide open to different verticals. Spotify has already confirmed partnerships with the BBC, Vice Media, Maker Studios, ESPN, and Comedy Central, among other popular brands. Initially, the video service will only be available in the mobile version of the Spotify app for consumers in the U.S., the UK, Germany and Sweden. It will roll out on Android first, before arriving on iOS a week later. It is also expected to be an ad-free feature at launch, but it is doubtful that it will remain like this for long.
Transportation

Airbus Joins Uber For On-Demand Chopper Rides (thestack.com) 37

An anonymous reader writes: Airbus is teaming up with Uber to provide on-demand helicopter rides, due to debut at the Sundance Film Festival which opens in Utah this month. The flight service will employ H125 and H130 aircraft to transport passengers, while Uber vehicles will ferry them to and from the helipad sites. A Utah-based firm, called Air Resources, will be coordinating the service. This is not the first time Uber has experimented with helicopter partnerships, transporting people via chopper ride at the U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Cannes Film Festival, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, and from New York into the Hamptons in 2013.
Businesses

Universal To License Music To SoundCloud In Streaming Deal (thestack.com) 49

An anonymous reader writes: Universal Music Group has agreed to license its music to online audio platform SoundCloud – a major step for the popular startup, which has struggled to receive legitimate recognition in the industry. SoundCloud will enjoy access to Universal material, including work from top global artists signed to the label such as Adele, Taylor Swift and Kanye West. Conversely Universal will be able to access SoundCloud's advertising, analytics and data tools with the aim of increasing revenue streams and bolstering fan/artist engagement.
Government

North Korea Expands Retaliatory Loudspeaker Propaganda (yonhapnews.co.kr) 146

jones_supa writes: North Korea has expanded its own loudspeaker broadcasts along the inter-Korean border as a counteraction to South Korea's retaliatory broadcasts critical of the communist nation, sources said Monday. In retaliation for North's nuclear test last Wednesday, South resumed its anti-Pyongyang broadcast campaign two days later, a form of psychological warfare detested by the communist country, where outside information is tightly blocked out. "The North initially operated its own loudspeakers at two locations and has now expanded to several locations," a government source said. "In fact, the anti-South loudspeaker broadcasts appear to be coming from every location where we are broadcasting." The North Korean broadcasts are not clearly audible from the South Korean side of the border, but mostly deal with internal propaganda messages and music promoting its leader Kim Jong-un. "We are not sure if it's an issue of electric power or the performance of the loudspeakers, but the sound is very weak," another government source said.
Music

David Bowie Dies At Age 69 (bbc.co.uk) 296

echo-e writes: Renowned singer David Bowie has died after an 18-month battle with cancer. His latest album, Blackstar, was only just released on Friday — his birthday. His last live show was in 2006. Bowie rose to fame in the 1970s, and he is known for hits such as Under Pressure, Let's Dance, and Space Oddity. He also appeared in handful of films, such as Labyrinth in 1986. Bowie was also notable for being one of the few musicians to immediately see the value and staying power of MP3s and the digital distribution of music. If anything, he was overly optimistic about it. In 2002, he said, "I don't even know why I would want to be on a label in a few years, because I don't think it's going to work by labels and by distribution systems in the same way. The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it. I see absolutely no point in pretending that it's not going to happen. I'm fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing."
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Cheap and Fun Audio Hacks? 135

An anonymous reader writes: A few years back I discovered that even a person of limited soldering skills can create a nifty surround-sound system with the magic of a passive matrix decoder system; the results pleased me and continue to, It's certainly not a big and fancy surround system, but I recommend it highly as a project with a high ratio of satisfaction to effort. (Here's one of the many, many tutorials out there on doing it yourself; it's not the long-forgotten one I actually used, but I like this one better.) I like listening to recorded music sometimes just to hear how a particular playback system sounds, not just to hear the music "as intended." I'd like to find some more audio hacks and tricks like this that are cheap, easy, and fun. Bonus points if they can be done with the assistance of a couple of smart children, without boring them too much. I have access to Goodwill and other thrift stores that are usually overflowing with cheap-and-cheerful gear, to match my toy budget. What mods or fixes would be fun to implement? Are there brands or models of turntable I should look for as the easiest with which to tinker? Are there cool easy-entry projects akin to that surround sound system that I could use to improve my radio reception? I'm not sure what's out there, but I'd like to get some cool use out of the closet-and-a-half I've got filled with speakers and other gear that I can't quite bear to toss, since "it still works."
Television

CBS, Others Sued For Copyright Infringement Over "Soft Kitty" In Big Bang Theory (arstechnica.com) 349

UnknowingFool writes: In the popular sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, Penny has sung "Soft Kitty" to the difficult Sheldon Cooper on numerous occasions as a lullaby and to comfort him. These scenes are such fan favorites that the song lyrics are sold on merchandise. The daughters of poet Edith Newlin are suing CBS, Warner Bros, and others claiming copyright infringement for her poem, "Warm Kitty".

The situation is not a simple copyright infringement case of Warner Brothers not obtaining any permission. The poem was created in the 1930s by Newlin, but she granted permission to Willis Music to be used as lyrics in their songbook Songs for the Nursery School. Warner Brothers obtained permission from Willis Music in 2007 for the song to be used in the show. Willis Music is also named as a defendant.

Books

A New, App-Based Format For Novels (theguardian.com) 57

HughPickens.com writes: The Guardian reports that Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, plans to release his new novel, a historical drama set in London during the 1840s, in installments via an app. It's a tradition that dates back to Charles Dickens, but utilizes modern technology. Each of Belgravia's 11 chapters will be delivered on a weekly basis, and will come with multimedia extras including music, character portraits, family trees and an audio book version. "To marry the traditions of the Victorian novel to modern technology, allowing the reader, or listener, an involvement with the characters and the background of the story and the world in which it takes place, that would not have been possible until now, and yet to preserve within that the strongest traditions of storytelling, seems to me a marvelous goal and a real adventure," says Fellowes.

Publisher Jamie Raab says the format appealed to her precisely because of Fellowes's television background and his ability to keep audiences engaged in a story over months and even years. "I've always been intrigued by the idea of publishing a novel in short episodic bites. He gets how to keep the story paced so that you're caught up in the current episode, then you're left with a cliffhanger."

AI

Zuckerberg To Build Personal AI For Help At Home and Work (facebook.com) 115

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is planning on building his own personal assistant AI, recreating a system similar to that of the Jarvis butler featured in Marvel's Iron Man franchise. Zuckerberg commented that as a personal challenge for 2016, he would construct a "simple AI" to assist him at home and at work, and share his progress the course of the year. The Facebook founder said he build on existing technology to develop his AI, before teaching it to understand his voice to be able to control home appliances, such as a music system, lighting, and air conditioning.
Music

Discogs Turns Record Collectors' Obsessions Into Big Business 31

HughPickens.com writes: Ben Sisario writes at the NYT that Discogs has built one of the most exhaustive collections of discographical information in the world, and with 24 million items for sale, (eBay's music section lists 11 million) Discogs is on track to do nearly $100 million in business by the end of the year. One of Discog's secrets is the use of Wikipedia's model of user-generated content with historical data cataloged by thousands of volunteer editors in extreme detail. The site's entry for the Beatles' White Album, for instance, contains 309 distinct versions of the record, including its original releases in countries like Uruguay, India and Yugoslavia — in mono and stereo configurations — and decades of reissues, from Greek eight-tracks to Japanese CDs. "There's a record-collector gene," says Kevin Lewandowski. "Some people want to know every little detail about a record."

The site, once run from a computer in Lewandowski's closet and originally restricted to electronic music, has grown rapidly. "It took about six months working nights and weekends on Discogs, and I launched it in November 2000. It was very simplistic compared to what it is now, but it started growing right away." Discogs now has 37 employees around the world, 20 million online visitors a month and three million registered users. Lewandowski, who is the sole owner of Discogs, says he had no interest in selling the business. He has watched other players enter the field over the last 15 years, including Amazon, which in 2008 introduced SoundUnwound, a Wikipedia-like site for music that was quietly shut down four years later. Discogs may have survived because of the innovation of its marketplace, giving collectors an incentive to expand the database with every imaginable detail. "I want it to go on forever," says Lewandowski.
Science

Interviews: Ask Ray Kurzweil a question 174

Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading authors, inventors, and futurists. Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. Among Kurzweil’s many honors, he received the 2015 Technical Grammy Award for outstanding achievements in the field of music technology; he is the recipient of the National Medal of Technology, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, holds twenty honorary Doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents. He has given us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Businesses

For a Missouri Cassette Tape Factory, Obsolesence is Just a 12-Letter Word (arstechnica.com) 169

The Missouri-based National Audio Company, reports Ars Technica, is sweeping up in a category that our future-looking selves might twenty years ago have imagined would be dead and buried in the year 2015: making and selling audiocassettes. There are fewer and fewer competitors in the tape-making business, but NAC still has a healthy market for cassettes -- in October, the company noted "a 31 percent increase in order volume over the previous year." From the article: [Company president Steve Stepp] said that as his competitors began bailing out of the cassette business once CDs came to prominence, NAC started buying up their machinery. “It would have been incredibly expensive 30 to 35 years ago when [cassette manufacturing machines] were new on the market, but when our competitors bailed out of the business and started making CDs, we went round the country and bought [them] out," he said. Some artists are still releasing music on tape, but about 70 percent of what the company sells is blank cassettes; there are an awful lot of tape decks out there; my father alone still buys a few hundred blanks each year.
The Almighty Buck

Pirate Bay Cofounder Utterly Bankrupts the Music Industry (torrentfreak.com) 261

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Peter "brokep" Sunde, co-founder of The Pirate Bay, has built a machine that makes 100 copies per second of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," storing them in /dev/null (which is of course, deleting them even as they're created). The machine, called a "Kopimashin," is cobbled together out of a Raspberry Pi, some hacky python that he doesn't want to show anyone, and an LCD screen that calculates a running tally of the damages he's inflicted upon the record industry through its use. The 8,000,000 copies it makes every day costs the record industry $10m/day in losses. At that rate, they'll be bankrupt in a few weeks at most.
Piracy

UK Police Busts Karaoke 'Gang' For Sharing Songs You Can't Buy (arstechnica.com) 118

An anonymous reader writes: The London Police have an Intellectual Property Crime Unit. They just issued a press release bragging about "dismantling" a "gang" running "commercial-scale copyright infringement." But if you look into the case, it turns out to just be three old guys who stream karaoke tracks that mostly aren't available from karaoke manufacturers. "This means that far from losing 'a significant amount of money,' music companies were actually deprived of little or nothing, since there were no legal copies that people could pay for." This "gang" didn't even sell any of the tracks they streamed — it seems to just be a hobby for some karaoke enthusiasts. "So why is Hodge calling what seems to be an extremely low-level operation 'commercial-scale?' It's probably because 'commercial scale' is a key legal concept that the recording industry has been trying to redefine to include activities that don't involve financial gain."
Music

"Happy Birthday To You" Set To Finally Reach the Public Domain 120

schnell writes: The New York Times reports that "the world's most popular song" is at last poised to be released into the public domain. From the story: "In September, a federal judge ruled that Warner Music, the song's publisher, did not have a valid copyright claim to 'Happy Birthday,' which has been estimated to collect $2 million a year in royalties. But what that ruling meant for the future of the song — and Warner's liability — was unclear, and a trial had been set to begin next week. In a filing on Tuesday in United States District Court in Los Angeles, the parties in the case said they had agreed to a settlement to end the case. The terms of that deal are confidential. But if the settlement is approved by the court, the song is expected to formally enter the public domain." (We mentioned the case in September, too.)
Transportation

Deep Learning Identifies Wet Road Hazards From Sound Input (thestack.com) 60

An anonymous reader writes: Researches have used recurrent neural network architecture to develop an audio-interpretation system that can understand how wet a road is, using techniques more commonly employed in speech recognition and music analysis. Every year 384,032 persons are injured and 4,789 persons killed through wet roads, and it's a problem that also threatens to hamper the usefulness of self-driving cars, which are likely to either become dangerous or prohibitively cautious in the absence of good information about the safety of road surfaces.
Wikipedia

Fan Lists Himself As a Band's Family Member On Wikipedia To Sneak Backstage (theguardian.com) 91

AmiMoJo writes: A music fan in Melbourne managed to sneak his way backstage at a gig this week by editing a band's Wikipedia page on his phone. David Spargo was attending a show by Australian duo Peking Duk when he had a "lightbulb-above-the-head kind of moment." After editing Peking Duk's Wikipedia entry to list him under "family," he approached a security guard with his ID, saying he was the step-brother of band member Reuben Styles and producing his phone as proof. "I stood out there for five minutes and I started to think this isn't going to work," Spargo told The Guardian. "Then Reuben pops his head out and is like, 'hey bro, come on in.'"
Piracy

Swedish Court: ISPs Can't Be Forced To Ban the Pirate Bay (thelocal.se) 55

An anonymous reader writes: After years of rulings against The Pirate Bay around Europe, a Swedish court has now ruled that the country's ISPs can't be forced to block access to the torrent indexer. The case centers around copyright holders and an ISP called Bredbandsbolaget. The ISP refused to comply with demands that music pirates be cut off from internet access. When rightsholders couldn't get traction that way, they added Bredbandsbolaget to their list of targets. The court found that the ISP does not "participate" in copyright infringement carried out by its subscribers, and is thus not liable for any damages incurred.

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