Rdio plans new $3.99/mo streaming tier ahead of Apple Music launch next month

Beats Studio Wireless

Update: Rdio officially announced the new plan today.

Apple is slated to launch its streaming music service next month, but Rdio is trying to cut off a portion of Apple’s market with a new service. BuzzFeed News reports that Rdio plans to introduce a $3.99 a month streaming music service. The service, called Rdio Select, will be significantly limited, which is to be expected given the low price point…

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Apple accused of stifling streaming music competition as DOJ joins EC in antitrust investigation

apple-doj-investigation

Allegations that Apple is engaging in anti-competitive practices in the run-up to the launch of its rebranded Beats streaming music service are now being investigated by the Department of Justice, according to “multiple sources” cited by The Verge.

The claim is that Apple has been attempting to use its influence to persuade music labels to pull out of deals with free, ad-supported services like Spotify and YouTube in order to reduce competition and increase demand for its own paid service. The European Commission launched an investigation into these same allegations last month …

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TuneIn Radio adds real radio stations to CarPlay + Apple Watch controls

TuneIn CarPlay

TuneIn Radio is the latest addition to Apple’s short list of App Store apps that work with the iPhone’s CarPlay feature. The service streams “over 100,000 real radio stations from around the world, including sports, news, talk, and music.” The latest version of TuneIn for iPhone brings radio station streaming to the CarPlay interface and includes Apple Watch support for controlling stations from your wrist. Read more

Apple adds new Apple Watch video guided tours for Phone, Siri, Maps & Music

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 22.51.34

Update: Apple just uploaded the four new guided tours to its YouTube channel, as well. They are embedded below.

Apple has now updated its Apple Watch Guided Tour page with four more videos, featuring Phone Calls, Siri interactions, Maps navigation and the Music app. Apple began this series earlier in the month.

The videos demonstrate different Apple Watch features, such as taking a phone call, asking Siri for directions, getting navigation turn-by-turn directions in Maps or controlling music playback in the Music app.

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Pandora Radio adds Apple Watch app for remote music control, favoriting songs, more

Apple revealed the first look at its all-new Music app for iPhone and iPad with the first beta release of iOS 8.4 today, which brings a new look to iTunes Radio among other major changes. Pandora Radio, the similarly-modeled music streaming service that’s arguably superior to iTunes Radio in music variety and selection, released a timely update this evening adding Apple Watch support to its iPhone app ahead of the new wearable device’s release on April 24th. Pandora Radio’s WatchKit app for Apple Watch will include a glance for swiping up from the watch face to identify the song currently playing from the iPhone app.

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Hands-on: Apple’s all-new Music app in iOS 8.4

With the release of the first developer beta of iOS 8.4 this evening, Apple gave us the first look at the oft-rumored redesign of the Music app. With the expected announcement of Apple’s streaming music service happening in June, the Music app redesign has been expected for several months now. The newly introduced Music app offers a handful of new features in the first beta of iOS 8.4, as well as a redesigned interface that’s similar to iTunes on the Mac. Let’s take a brief look…

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Apple previews revamped Music app with iOS 8.4 beta ahead of WWDC streaming service launch

Apple has just released the first iOS 8.4 beta, which includes Apple’s upcoming revamped Music app. The seed for developers is available via the Apple Developer Center website.

As we reported earlier this year, iOS 8.4 includes an all new Music application. The new software design is present in this beta, while Apple is expected to announce the streaming service component in June at WWDC.

Here are the release notes from Apple for the new app:

– All-New Design. Music app has a beautiful new design that makes exploring your music collection easier and more fun. Personalize playlists by adding your own image and description. Enjoy stunning pictures of your favorite artists in the Artists view. Start playing an album right from the album list. The music you love is never more than a tap away.

– Recently Added. Albums and playlists you’ve recently added are now at the top of your library, making it effortless to find something new to play. Simply tap play on the artwork to listen.

– Streamlined iTunes Radio. Discovering music with iTunes Radio is easier than ever. You can now quickly return to your favorite stations in Recently Played. Choose from a selection of hand-curated stations in Featured Stations, or start a new one from your favorite artist or song.

– New MiniPlayer. With the new MiniPlayer, you can see what’s playing and control playback while browsing your music collection. To open Now Playing, just tap on the MiniPlayer.

– Improved Now Playing. Now Playing has a stunning new design that showcases your album artwork the way it was meant to be. In addition, you can begin wirelessly streaming your music using AirPlay without leaving Now Playing.

– Up Next. It’s now simple to find out which songs from your library will play next — just tap the Up Next icon in Now Playing. You can even reorder, add, or skip songs whenever you like.

– Global Search. You can now search from anywhere in the Music app — just tap the magnifying glass. Search results are conveniently organized to help you quickly find that perfect song. You can even start an iTunes Radio station right from Search.

iOS 8.4’s Music application includes revamped search, the UpNext and MiniPlayer features from iTunes on the desktop, improved iTunes Radio functionality, a new Recently Added page, and more on top of the new design. On the iPad, there’s a new split-screen interface on the iPad, as seen in the screenshots below. On the iPhone, the landscape interface has been removed entirely. The icon for the app remains the same, however. We have a hands-on gallery of several more screenshots below:

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Opinion: The pros & cons of existing streaming music services & what Apple’s needs to succeed

Beats Music iTunes Festival

Apple’s upcoming music streaming service comes at an interesting time in the industry. Jay-Z recently relaunched his own streaming music service dubbed Tidal, recruiting help from other A-list artists like Rhianna, Alicia Keys, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, and Kanye West. There are existing services from Spotify, Beats, Google, and others. All of these offerings have their own pros and cons, but I’ve used them all and none of them accomplish streaming music perfectly. Apple now has the opportunity to take the best features of each service and offer its own competitive service.

Last week, Ben Lovejoy broke down exactly what Apple’s streaming music service would need for him to stop buying music. Even without Apple’s new service, I’ve already done that. Most of my music is streamed from Spotify. Rarely do I actually buy albums on iTunes, and I almost never buy physical CDs. The problem with this approach is no streaming music service gets it 100 percent right for me.

I’m hoping that Apple incorporates the best of each existing subscription music service into its own upcoming music service. What are those key points? Let’s discuss…

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Opinion: Will Apple’s streaming music service mean I finally stop buying music?

music

I was an early adopter of digital music (you hide your surprise well). I bought my first mp3 player in 1998, some three years before the first iPod. It cost a silly amount of money and stored exactly one album at a time in its 64MB (not GB) of flash memory.

Me being me, I went through a few different generations of mp3 player before Apple completely changed the game with the iPod. Ironically, by adopting a less sophisticated technology–a hard drive in place of flash memory–Apple created a far better product. One that allowed us to carry around 80 albums at a time. I bought one the day it went on sale, having by then finished ripping all my CDs to mp3.

When the 160GB iPod came out in 2007, I again bought one immediately. That was large enough to hold my entire music collection at the time. I not only carried it everywhere with me, I also plugged it into my hifi at home and to the AUX socket of my car stereo. At which point, I started wondering why I still had a wall full of CDs …  Read more

European antitrust authorities investigating Apple’s streaming music service even before it launches

juncker-team-a

Apple’s planned rebranding and relaunch of the Beats streaming music service has not had the easiest of rides. The launch, initially planned for earlier this year, was delayed by the departure of key execs and difficulties integrating Beats and Apple technologies. A planned $5/month price-point had to be abandoned in favor of an attempt at $7.99/month when music labels wouldn’t play ball, and that too now looks increasingly unlikely even though Google Play offered initial All Access Signups for a $7.99 locked in. And any plans to offer artist exclusives as an inducement now face competition from newly-relaunched Tidal.

Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any tougher, London’s Financial Times reports that the European Commission is considering launching an antitrust investigation into the service, even before it launches. The Commission has contacted several music labels to ask what deals have been done with Apple, says the FT.

The commission, which also has contacted Apple’s music-streaming rivals, is said to be concerned that the company will use its size, relationships and influence to persuade labels to abandon free, ad-supported services such as Spotify, which depend on licenses with music companies for their catalogues.

The newspaper implies that the investigation may have been triggered by a formal complaint by an existing streaming music service …  Read more

Jay-Z’s new Tidal music service respects the artist, but rips off Spotify’s UI

Tidal-vs-Spotify-UI

In case you hadn’t heard, Jay-Z is this week launching (relaunching) the Tidal music service he recently acquired along with a lot of help from industry friends. The company is hoping its model is innovative and helps artists earn more, but its UI for the web app appears to be a shameless copy of Spotify, as you can see in the comparison screenshot: Tidal above, Spotify below. Read more