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Method Man doesn’t have nice things to say about Wu-Tang’s secret album

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Method Man

Not every member of Wu-Tang Clan is excited about the group’s secret album that’s up for private sale.

For nearly a year, Wu-Tang’s “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” has intrigued fans and music writers. The album was recorded in secret over six years and the group initially said it would be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Read the rest of this page »

Rivers Cuomo TV Pilot Finds Its Rivers Cuomo

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Rivers Cuomo TV Pilot Finds Its Rivers Cuomo

Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo is producing “Detour”, a Fox pilot based off his own experience of being a rock star who decides to leave his band and go back to college. Now, the show has found its Cuomo: British actor Ben Aldridge has been tapped for the part, Deadline reports. His character’s name is Michael Sturges. Read the rest of this page »

2015 MTV Movie Awards: Read the Full List of Nominees

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The Hunger Games

Jennifer Lawrence may not have been nominated for an Oscar for her role as Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen, but she’ll (once again) face off at the MTV Movie Awards in April for that role. Read the rest of this page »

Instrument 1 is every instrument in one and just got funded on Kickstarter

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instrument 1

Artiphon wowed us two years ago when it brought the Instrument 1 to CES, and today — after a long wait — it’s starting to bring the device to the public. It’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of the Instrument 1, an electronic instrument that can sound and be played like a guitar, piano, violin, or bass. The Instrument 1 can actually sound like a lot more than that: it hooks up to iPhones, iPads, Macs, and PCs and will output sounds based on whatever MIDI app is running. The actual device is largely just a fret board, with a small head on top and a “body” containing a bridge, speaker, volume knob, and instrument presets.

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ASCAP Topped $1 Billion in Revenue Last Year

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Ascap, the music licensing agency, is in one sense fighting for its survival, seeking to change decades-old rules to fit the economics of online music. In another, it is finding ways to distribute more money than ever to its thousands of songwriters.

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See Jimmy Fallon and Kelly Clarkson Harmonize the History of Duets

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Spurred by Kelly Clarkson‘s recent comments that she has been unable to find a suitable duet partner, Jimmy Fallon offered his services on last night’s The Tonight Show. Together, the couple sang a dozen duets in a four-minute mega-medley. Much like Fallon’s ongoing History of Rap series with Justin Timberlake, the late-night host and the “Heartbeat Song” singer take a similar journey through five decades of chart-topping duets, kicking things off with Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” before bringing it on home with Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’ “Endless Love.”

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U2′s Last Word on ‘Innocence’ iTunes Release

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The Edge and Bono

“It’ll be a battle to be match fit for May 14th,” Bono confesses, referring to the opening date in Vancouver of U2‘s impending tour. Asked to describe the state of his health after the bicycle accident in New York last November that left him with multiple injuries, including a facial fracture, the singer says, “My southpaw is a bit tricky, but my right hook is ready to rumble for sure.” As for the shows, dubbed the Innocence and Experience tour, with alternating set lists each night, Bono promises, “We’ve got something beyond incredible planned. And I’m ready to fight for it.” Read the rest of this page »

SXSW app will put you where the action is in Austin

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Searsucker SXSW

The official mobile app of South by Southwest 2015 is available in the App Store starting today, and it’s a must-have for those who don’t want to miss out on anything new at next week’s huge music, film and technology conference in Austin. Read the rest of this page »

Carly Rae Jepsen, Kanye West, and Wale just kickstarted 2015′s Song of Summer debate

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Yesterday, maybe in celebration of labelmate Justin Bieber’s 21st birthday, Carly Rae Jepsen released the first single from her forthcoming album. It’s called “I Really Like You,” and it is an absolute beast. Read the rest of this page »

Streaming Music Showdown: Spotify vs. Beats

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Beats By Dre and Spotify logos

How does Apple’s effort stack up against the most popular music service around?

It’s been almost nine months since Apple’s $3 billion purchase of Beats catapulted the Dr. Dre-backed streaming music service into the limelight for casual music listeners. And while Apple is reportedly working on an overhaul of the service, I spent the last nine months as a paid Beats Music subscriber, after having used Spotify exclusively for more than a year.

Beyond the music, the differences between the two services are stark. Here is what you need to know in comparing the two most prominent (with apologies to all the other players) streaming music services on the market:

Musical Selection

This is a largely subjective category, because it really depends on what you’re looking for. For instance, some tracks, such as “Jungle” by Jay-Z, appear exclusively on Beats before rolling into other services, while other artists, like Led Zeppelin, appeared on Spotify first, then elsewhere next.

Whether these exclusives will affect you is a matter of what kind of music you prefer, but it’s hard to know in advance of subscribing which artists will strike what deals with which service. And the end, most albums end up being available everywhere. Except for Taylor Swift — she pulled her latest tracks from every subscription streaming service.

Winner: Tie

User Interface

One of the biggest differences between these two services (specifically their apps) is the way users interact with them. Spotify has a menu-driven interface that requires a lot of taps to dive into an artist’s catalog from the main screen. Meanwhile, Beats has a visual-driven interface with large tiles that spring users right into the content they want to listen to.

Once a track is playing, Beats transforms into a full-screen player, with large buttons and progress meters, making it ideal for skipping songs on the fly, like when you’re driving (tsk, tsk). Spotify, meanwhile, shrinks the track down to a mini-player that takes up the smallest ribbon at the bottom of the screen. Tapping on the song’s tiny album art will expand it to a full-sized player, but that’s hardly intuitive — and pretty inconvenient, considering the image’s size.

Winner: Beats

Free Accounts

Spotify will let you listen via its mobile app without paying for an account, but that only provides you with a shuffle mode. If you want to listen to an exact song, you’ll have to upgrade to the premium service. Spotify also says “on tablet and computer, you can play any song, any time,” but I found this to be untrue. In fact, this frustration led me to resubscribe to the service. (Tricky move, Spotify.)

Meanwhile, technically, Beats Music does not have a free version. But Apple does offer iTunes Radio gratis, though it doesn’t come close to the free version of Spotify.

Winner: Spotify

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Social Integration

Both Beats Music and Spotify offer social integration, letting you post your favorite songs on Twitter and Facebook for your friends to enjoy. But Spotify, which has historically used Facebook Connect to power login information for its service, gives music fans a much richer social experience by allowing you to see your friends’ listening activity.

At first, when Facebook was allowing Spotify to publish activity to the sites News Feed, Spotify seemed hyperactive, alerting every friend to every song that was played. But through some toning down and refinement, Spotify’s social feed is much calmer — you really only see it on a sidebar on the Spotify desktop app unless you dive into the “activity” menu on the service’s mobile app.

Beats, meanwhile, doesn’t show friends’ activity, which could be a selling point if you’re embarrassed by your musical taste, or don’t care to know what your friends are listening to. But it’s hard not to look at Beats’ lack of social integration and see Apple’s failures in this space. The company’s Ping social networking feature in iTunes was one of the company’s most high-visibility failures, and even Game Center, which many iPhone users have logged into (but relatively few use) isn’t very popular.

Winner: Spotify

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Social Integration

Both Beats Music and Spotify offer social integration, letting you post your favorite songs on Twitter and Facebook for your friends to enjoy. But Spotify, which has historically used Facebook Connect to power login information for its service, gives music fans a much richer social experience by allowing you to see your friends’ listening activity.

At first, when Facebook was allowing Spotify to publish activity to the sites News Feed, Spotify seemed hyperactive, alerting every friend to every song that was played. But through some toning down and refinement, Spotify’s social feed is much calmer — you really only see it on a sidebar on the Spotify desktop app unless you dive into the “activity” menu on the service’s mobile app.

Beats, meanwhile, doesn’t show friends’ activity, which could be a selling point if you’re embarrassed by your musical taste, or don’t care to know what your friends are listening to. But it’s hard not to look at Beats’ lack of social integration and see Apple’s failures in this space. The company’s Ping social networking feature in iTunes was one of the company’s most high-visibility failures, and even Game Center, which many iPhone users have logged into (but relatively few use) isn’t very popular.

Winner: Spotify

Desktop App

Don’t spend too long looking for a desktop version of the Beats app — it doesn’t exist, not even on the Mac App Store. Instead, the service is meant to run through your web browser, though good luck with that. Personally, as hard as I push my browser (I have 14 tabs open right now, and that’s below average for me), I’d rather have a separate application chewing on the RAM-intensive music streams. And comically, early on, I couldn’t get Safari to play audio from the Beats service at all — I had to switch to Google Chrome. But that brings up an interesting point: If you really do want a Beats Music app, you can find one on the Chrome Web Store.

Spotify, meanwhile, might be the best desktop music app I’ve ever used. More than just a music player, it’s actually a platform for the service, which allows other programmers to make software that interacts with Spotify. For example, you can link your Spotify account to Last.fm to generate personalized music choices, or you can view lyrics to the song you’re listening to through MusiXmatch.

Spotify’s willingness to open itself up to these outside developers is a key difference between it and Beats Music, and (other than its great library) might be its best feature.

Winner: Spotify

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Social Integration

Both Beats Music and Spotify offer social integration, letting you post your favorite songs on Twitter and Facebook for your friends to enjoy. But Spotify, which has historically used Facebook Connect to power login information for its service, gives music fans a much richer social experience by allowing you to see your friends’ listening activity.

At first, when Facebook was allowing Spotify to publish activity to the sites News Feed, Spotify seemed hyperactive, alerting every friend to every song that was played. But through some toning down and refinement, Spotify’s social feed is much calmer — you really only see it on a sidebar on the Spotify desktop app unless you dive into the “activity” menu on the service’s mobile app.

Beats, meanwhile, doesn’t show friends’ activity, which could be a selling point if you’re embarrassed by your musical taste, or don’t care to know what your friends are listening to. But it’s hard not to look at Beats’ lack of social integration and see Apple’s failures in this space. The company’s Ping social networking feature in iTunes was one of the company’s most high-visibility failures, and even Game Center, which many iPhone users have logged into (but relatively few use) isn’t very popular.

Winner: Spotify

Desktop App

Don’t spend too long looking for a desktop version of the Beats app — it doesn’t exist, not even on the Mac App Store. Instead, the service is meant to run through your web browser, though good luck with that. Personally, as hard as I push my browser (I have 14 tabs open right now, and that’s below average for me), I’d rather have a separate application chewing on the RAM-intensive music streams. And comically, early on, I couldn’t get Safari to play audio from the Beats service at all — I had to switch to Google Chrome. But that brings up an interesting point: If you really do want a Beats Music app, you can find one on the Chrome Web Store.

Spotify, meanwhile, might be the best desktop music app I’ve ever used. More than just a music player, it’s actually a platform for the service, which allows other programmers to make software that interacts with Spotify. For example, you can link your Spotify account to Last.fm to generate personalized music choices, or you can view lyrics to the song you’re listening to through MusiXmatch.

Spotify’s willingness to open itself up to these outside developers is a key difference between it and Beats Music, and (other than its great library) might be its best feature.

Winner: Spotify

Killer Feature

While most people like Spotify mostly for its music and social features, its platform-like interactivity with other services (described above) is truly its killer feature, letting the service expand and morph in new ways. For instance, if used with certain apps, Spotify’s desktop app can become a karaoke screen, or with other apps it can compete with music-suggesting services like Pandora.

Meanwhile, what made Beats unique was a pair of features. Firstly, expertly-crafted playlists created by humans, not computers, instantly gave users a trove of mixes to choose from. But this feature was quickly aped by Spotify through its ability to let people share their playlists and via expert-driven apps like Rolling Stone Recommends.

Beats’ other killer feature was a fun way to make your own mix called “The Sentence,” where users could tell the app what they are doing (“working out,” “cooking,” hanging out,” etc.) with whom (“my friends,” “my bff,” etc.) and to what kind of music they wanted to hear (“hip-hop,” “bluegrass,” “metal,” etc.). At first, it seems like a great idea, but once you realize you want to chill, party, nap, and barbecue to 90’s rock, it becomes clear that you really don’t need a suggestion engine that caters to every musical genre. The gimmick gets old, quick.

Winner: Spotify

Overall Winner

While Beats user interface is far and away more friendly, over the past nine months with the service I found myself discovering fewer new artists and listing to less music than when I used Spotify. I wanted Beats to be better than it really is, so much so that I probably kept my subscription longer than I otherwise would have. But one week back with Spotify, and I’m back in the fold with all my old playlists — which, ironically, I exported from iTunes.

Maybe Apple’s next iteration of Beats, whether it’s under that name or folded back into iTunes, will be better. But it would take a massive shift in attitude from Apple, because they’d need to embrace social networks that they don’t own and third party developers in a way they currently don’t.

Winner: Spotify

[Time]

Good news: You can buy Wu-Tang Clan’s secret album — in 88 years

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Wu-Tang Clan

Nearly a year ago, Wu-Tang Clan announced its most ambitious project yet: A single 31-track double-album, recorded in secret over a six-year stretch, to be sold to the highest bidder. Read the rest of this page »

Steve McQueen Set to Direct Kanye West’s ‘All Day’ Video

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Kanye West

Following several public appearances around the UK in support of his upcoming album So Help Me God, Kanye West gave a more intimate and private talk at the prestigious Oxford University on Monday afternoon. The rapper discussed classism in fashion and revealed that Steve McQueen, the director of Oscar-winning movie 12 Years a Slave, has helmed the video for his latest single “All Day.” Read the rest of this page »

Republic Records Teams With IM Global to Produce Music-Driven Films

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Republic Records Teams With IM Global to Produce Music-Driven Films

Republic Records and independent film and television studio IM Global have announced a multi-picture co-financing and co-production relationship for a series of music-driven titles. The movies will be supported by soundtracks, music videos and fan-driven social media. Under the deal, which was brokered by IM Global Music president David Schulhof, the inaugural feature is scheduled to be an urban comedy set in Atlanta. Read the rest of this page »

Tradiio turns recommending new music into a game that offers real-world rewards

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Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 08.05.57

Streaming services like Spotify and Deezer are great when you know what you want to listen to, but despite offering charts and other discovery features, they’re not so good when it comes to surfacing new artists. Read the rest of this page »

Mumford & Sons announce details of new album ‘Wilder Mind’, plus UK live date

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Mumford & Sons announce details of new album 'Wilder Mind', plus UK live date

Mumford and Sons have announced details of new album ‘Wilder Mind’.

The band’s third album will be released on May 4 through Gentlemen of the Road/Island Records and is preceded by a new single, ‘Believe’, on April 27. Read the rest of this page »