Apps, rather than streaming music, may be responsible for ‘peak iTunes’ – analyst

We noted at the end of last year that iTunes music downloads appeared to be on the decline for the first time, a shift that was confirmed this month. The operating assumption has so far been that music streaming services are taking over, and that a growing number of consumers are now content to simply have on-demand access to music, rather than to own it.

Asymco’s Horace Dediu, an analyst who often has interesting things to say, has suggested an alternative explanation: that we’re actually listening to less music …  Read more

Have music downloads hit their peak, with streaming taking over?

downloads

What do 1980, 1989 and 2003 have in common? They were the peak sales years for LPs, cassettes and CDs respectively. After that, a very slight resurgence in vinyl aside, it was all downhill.

Billboard magazine has an interesting piece in which they suggest that perhaps 2012 might join that list – as the year that saw peak sales for music downloads, with streaming services like Spotify, Rdio and now, of course, iTunes Radio the heir apparent …

Read more

Spotify goes free with new streaming tier on tablets, smartphones…with a caveat

From 9to5Google:

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.31.55 AM

Spotify fans the world over take note, the company is moving into the ad-supported model with a new app for both iOS, Android tablets and smartphones. The company is introducing a whole new tier of service on mobile, providing users an opportunity to listen and search for songs on the go for free with a small catch.

Read more

Google Play Music finally hits iOS with a free month of All Access and programmable radio in 21 countries

After much anticipation, Google finally released its native Google Play Music app for iOS today. The All Access and Radio service was originally announced at Google IO in May with the promise that it would be ported to iOS devices a few weeks later. Then it was rumored last month. Well, today it is really here and Google was nice enough to give us a great look at the service yesterday (video above).

Google’s music ecosystem differs greatly from Apple’s and more closely resembles Spotify or Amazon with a focus on the Cloud. On Macs and PCs you can use it through a browser with an interface that is remarkably robust for a webpage, but obviously not quite as responsive as iTunes, especially with local music.

Play millions of songs, instantly, on any device, including all the music you’ve ever bought…from anywhere.

Google’s Music is in the Cloud (mostly) so you can seamlessly move from device to device, though there is a 5 app limit (but no limit on devices with web browser access). You can upload 20,000 songs for free, create playlists and share with friends, listen to your music anywhere there is a web browser or iOS/Android device. Kind of a no-brainer… Read more

Apple said to be closing music deals in order to launch ‘iRadio’ at upcoming WWDC

Update: Bloomberg adds more to WSJ’s report from earlier claiming that Apple’s new radio service will be tightly integrated with its iAd business. The report says Eddy Cue is currently making changes to the iAd business to support the new radio service scheduled to launch later this year alongside iOS 7:

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has been negotiating with advertising companies including Omnicom Group Inc (OMC).’s OMD to secure brands that will run campaigns on the radio service, one person said..The company has taken steps to be more flexible with advertisers to get more business. Apple has required marketers to pay a fee for each 1,000 times an advertisement is placed in an app, plus an additional $2 for every time a customer clicks that ad. In some cases, Apple has eliminated one of those charges, one person familiar with the company said.

Apple also has cut prices so that media agencies can spend $1 million and use the purchased space for different advertising clients. And Apple started taking ad business from companies that sell alcohol, something Jobs resisted after creating iAd, said one person.

We’ve heard no shortage of rumors on the rumored iRadio streaming service from Apple that has taken on some new urgency after Google released a similar service at Google I/O last month (and plans to launch it on iOS soon). The latest comes from the NYTimes, which says Apple is rushing to close deals as days wind down to WWDC’s kickoff on June 10th.

After months of stalled negotiations over its planned Internet radio service, Apple is pushing to complete licensing deals with music companies so it can reveal the service as early as next week, according to people briefed on the talks.

It would appear that Apple wants to announce the service at WWDC, but the company needs to overcome issues with closing some of the deals. CNET reported earlier today that Apple had closed the deal with Warner, one of the bigger labels.

Apple has signed a deal with the Universal Music Group for its recorded music rights, but not for music publishing — the part of the business that deals with songwriting. Over the weekend, Apple also signed a deal with the Warner Music Group for both rights. It is still in talks with Sony Music Entertainment and Sony’s separate publishing arm, Sony/ATV, whose songwriters include Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

In a strange irony, the music service Apple offers is, again, said to be free and supported by ads (like Pandora/Spotify/Slacker/etc). This is in contrast to Google’s service, which is sold via a paid subscription.

I would have guessed the opposite, but this may be why Google was able to close the deals with the labels and Apple is still at the table.

WSJ adds that Apple will pay Warner 10% of ad revenue, about twice as much as Pandora, and that the service will be integrated with iAd.

Read more

Quick Review: Twitter #music for iPhone, iPod touch is now playing

Twitter launched its new music discovery app Twitter #music for iPhone today.

Twitter #music takes a step toward filling the void created when everyone migrated from MySpace, which was one of the most effective music discovery tools for me until it was largely vacated.

Twitter promises to “change the way people find music, based on Twitter,” per the social network’s blog, which I believe will be widely appreciated.

Read more

Spotify, Tweetbot, PanoPerfect for iPad, Waze, Bad Piggies, AppHero 2.0, more

Spotify-iOS-app

In addition to a new Cloud Player app for iPad from Amazon and the roll out of iTunes in the Cloud features to new countries, below we have put together our usual list of notable apps and updates hitting the store today:

Spotify version 0.6.0: Perhaps the biggest update today goes to the Spotify iOS app which, on top of receiving a “shiny new interface” equipped with a sidebar, includes a “Now Playing” bar, a new Track menu, and a number of other new features and fixes:

• New: Shiny new interface. You can navigate around the app with a new sidebar. Check it out by swiping left-to-right, or by pressing the ≣ button in the top left of the app.
• New: Now Playing bar. You’ll always see what you’re listening to along the bottom of Spotify. To switch tracks, just swipe along it. Tap or drag to see more information about the current track. Tap the cover art in the extended view to use AirPlay, and disable/enable shuffle and repeat.
• New: Track menu. Tap the … button on any track to see a redesigned context menu.
• Fixed: “Track only available online” issues. This would sometimes appear after start-up, or when you’d been offline for a little while. Not any more.
• Fixed: Lock screen will now always display the correct track.
• Fixed: Shuffle now switches off after you’ve used “Shuffle Play” on an album or playlist.

Waze version 3.6: Waze, one of Apple’s Maps partners and an app CEO Tim Cook recommended as an alternative during the iOS 6 Maps controversy, gets some nice new features today. Among the new features is real-time road closure reporting and routing, a refined map with only relevant road names, and much more:

✓ Report road closures in real time. Waze will close off the road and route others around it
✓ Report pins tilted on map to better indicate direction of event
✓ Reduced map clutter by showing only relevant road names
✓ New moods!
✓ New inbox with multiple message selection
✓ Update gas prices popup: When in gas station users prompted to update price (Europe only)
✓ Optimized performance and multiple bug fixes

PanoPerfect for iPad: We’ve told you about the PanoPerfect app before– an Instagram type experience designed specifically for sharing panorama shots. Today the developers have released its first iPad version of the app and also revamped the iPhone app.

PanoPerfect is a free, fun, and simple way to share beautiful panoramic photos on your iPhone. Find, follow, and share gorgeous panoramic photos with friends. Panorama’s go into a stream where you can comment and like your favorite ones.

Bad Piggies version 1.2.0:  Rovio’s popular Bad Piggies franchise gets updated today with 30 new “Flight in the Night levels,” 6 Road Hogs levels, new achievements and much more. The free apps and HD iPad versions receive the same update today.

Tweetbot version 2.7.3:  The iOS versions of the Tweetbot apps get a few tweaks. The iPad version gets the same update: Read more

Skype updated for iPhone 5, TiVo, Overgram, Adobe Photoshop Express, Spotify, more

Skype for iPhone version 4.1.2: The Skype iOS app finally gets official support for the iPhone 5’s taller display this morning:

-Support for iPhone 5 display.
-Bug fixes.

Adobe Photoshop Express version 2.6: A nice update for Adobe’s Photoshop Express iOS app brings new sharing and editing features including the ability to “tap to eliminate red-eye” and and make more precise edits with numerical values:

• Easily tag faces while sharing photos to Facebook.
• Share photos more quickly with updated sharing screens.
• Simply tap to eliminate red-eye.
• Make more precise edits now that adjustment sliders display numerical values.
• View animated Help content to get up and running quickly.
• Use the app on the latest Apple devices thanks to support for iOS6.
• Count on bug fixes, performance boosts, and in-app notifications for greater speed and ease-of-use

Overgram: Creators of the Over iPhone app for adding creative typography to photos and sharing them on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr & Instagram is out today with a free version of the app called Overgram. The free version provides 10 of the 225 fonts found in the paid Over version.

In only a few seconds you can add captions, quotes, jokes, memes, poems or anything else you can think of to a photo… STUNNING FONTS: We ♥ typography! We carefully selected 10 amazing fonts that will make your photos beautiful and engaging.

TiVo version 2.1: Official iPhone 5 support and performance improvements for the TiVo iOS app: Read more

Apps & updates: Sparrow, Spotify, The New Yorker, Cloud, Bank of America, more

Other than the notable apps and updates below, developers of Shazam, the “9th most downloaded app of all time,” announced today its song recognition service has been used to identify over 5 billion songs. The five billionth tagged song on Shazam was “Blow Me One Last Kiss” by Pink. Head below for our full list of new apps and updates hitting the App Store today:

Sparrow for Mac version 1.6.3: Sparrow’s Mac App Store app was updated today with a number of performance enhancements and fixes. A full list of what’s new in version 1.6.3 is below:

- improved performance when loading huge conversations
– URL in subject can be clicked
– date and subject in headers can be selected
– improved avatar in message cells
– improved IMAP compatibility
– brazilian localization
– fixed progress indicator in message view
– fixed crash when loading some HTML messages
– fixed crash with POP accounts fixed

Spotify version 0.5.4: Spotify received a decent update today that brings the ability to show more stations for iPad users, fixes login issues for Facebook users, and adds stability improvements.

The New Yorker Magazine: Previously only available as an iPad app, The New Yorker is now bringing all of its magazine content to the iPhone with a new universal app available on the App Store now. To celebrate the release of the iPhone version, you will be able to get the Aug. 13 and Aug. 20 issues completely free (old issues are not accessible on the iPhone app). Read more

Apps & updates: Sparrow update/sale, Spotify radio, Bento 4 for iPad, Square reward cards, more

Below is our usual list of the most notable app-related news from today, including, among others: new web radio features for Spotify, the release of Bento 4 for iPad, and updates to both the Square Register and Pay With Square iOS apps.

Spotify Version 0.5.2: First, we have an update to the Spotify iOS app that brings a new radio experience to the service. A report from AllThingsD detailed the new web radio service and described it as “more or less mirrors Pandora’s core radio service.” The service would include advertising and offers users the ability to listen free on mobile devices, and it would initially launch for iPad and iPhone with an Android version in development. The iTunes page explained users could now start radio stations based on genres, artists, playlists, and albums, as well as customize their stations “by voting tracks up or down.”

Square Register & Pay with Square: Square updated two of its main iOS app today with new features. The Square Register app now allows merchants to offer reward cards including punch cards for repeat customers and “Visit specials” to attract new customers. On the customer’s side of things, the Pay with Square app was updated with an interface to view and manage the rewards, specials, and punch cards. FastCompany has a nice breakdown of all the new features.

Bento 4 for iPad: Filemaker released Bento 4 for iPad today for the introductory price of $4.99 (goes up to $10 on July 31). It also included a ton of new features, such as: new drag and drop tools, 40 new themes, “Direct Access to the Bento Template Exchange,” and “Form view, Table view, Split view and Full Screen view.” As noted by The Loop, Apple posted Bento 4 as a new app on the App Store, which means owners of previous Bento apps will have to pay for the upgrade.

Read more

Sony releases ‘Music Unlimited’ Spotify competitor as iOS app

Looking to usurp rival competitors like Spotify and MOG, Sony today launched its Music Unlimited streaming service as an iOS app. We told you in January that it was coming, but today the free app officially hits the App Store with subscriptions starting at $3.99 a month for varying access to the service’s 15 million+ songs and playback features. There is also a 30-day free trial of the premium service.

Previously only available to Android users and Sony products such as PlayStation 3 and Blu-ray players, the service offers two paid subscriptions options, including: a $4 Basic plan that provides basic channels and access to your own library; and a $10 Premium account giving you access to on demand playback for Sony’s catalogue, offline listening. The more expensive packages also offers the ability to create playlists, and access charts, new releases, and premium channels. Unlike Spotify, which recently debuted its iPad app, the Music Unlimited app does not have an iPad-specific version.

The Sony Music Unlimited app is available in the New Zealand App Store now, and it should hit the United States and other supported markets soon. As of March, Sony offered the service in 14 countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. A full list of features for Basic and Premium subscribers is below:

Read more

Spotify for iPad finally lands in the App Store

There were leaks last month showing what might have been our first look at the Spotify iPad app, but today the company officially launched its long-awaited app with a blog post and the video above. The free app has already landed in the App Store as a universal download (an update for users of the iPhone app), and the service offers a 48-hour free trial for non-Premium subscribers with the ability to increase it to 30 days.

Our iPad app looks great. We’ve included Retina graphics and high-definition album art to make browsing a pleasure. Enjoying all the world’s music instantly on your iPad has never been easier. And with the brand new full-screen view and AirPlay integration, Spotify and your iPad are perfect for each other, both as your pumped-up living room stereo and your lean, green music machine when you’re on the move.

Compared to Spotify’s iPhone experience, the iPad app has been completely redesigned with a layered UI more familiar to Facebook iPad app users and packs most of the service’s features apart from the recently launched Web apps. It also includes a new full-screen mode with Retina graphics to take advantage of the device’s display and AirPlay support. Missing is “Collection” view and few other features only accessible through the online service.

The full set of features, as described by Spotify community manager Andres Sehr, is below:
Read more