Will South Korean rapper Psy top his "Gangnam Style" video that caused an international sensation? It's hard to say so far — the video for his new single "Gentleman" was released early Saturday morning.
The song's catchy beat, charismatic dancing, and humorous video production are all there, but it's not going to be easy for the superstar to beat his first breakthrough hit on YouTube. "Gangnam Style" is still smashing records with more than 1.5 billion views and counting.
The audio version of "Gentleman" first debuted on Thursday, and now it's time to see if lightning strikes twice for Psy's video prowess.
The video was introduced in a live performance by Psy, live-streamed on YouTube at 5:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, and it's being replayed for 24 hours here:
What do you think? Do you like this new "Gentleman" video more than "Gangnam Style?" Take our poll, and then let us know you think of Psy's new video in the comments below. Here's the original "Gangnam Style" video:
COMMENTARY: Psy's new video "Gentlemen" is really a misnomer, it's more the anti-thesis of Psy's character in "Gangnam Style." If you watched the new video, Psy is definitely no "Gentlemen," based on his outrageous and zany antics, some of them quite crude, if I may say so. Just the same, I found the new video very entertaining, with the same high impact pulsating electronic music beat and dancing routines as in "Gangnam Style." It is always difficult to beat your previous successes, or even come close to matching them, for that matter. "Gangnam Style" has 1.5 billion views, more than any other YouTube video history. "Gentlemen" presently has 253,000 views. Looking forward to everybody's feedback.
Courtesy of an article dated April 13, 2013 appearing in Mashable
In December 2012, Music lovers tuned into Pandora, the Internet radio service, and it set the following records:
1.4 billion listener hours -- up 54% compared with the prior year.
67 million active listeners -- rose 41% for the month.
Pandora members collectively listened to the equivalent of more than 5,692 years of music on December 24, 2012.
During the holidays, 31% of people in the West preferred new holiday tracks compared with classics. Midwest listeners were the earliest adopters of holiday music. Some 52% of people in the Northeast care about music more than food at holiday parties, compared with other regions across the U.S.
There are 67 million U.S. users, listening about 20 hours per month. One million are paid subscribers.
The company is on track to generate between $422 million and $425 million in revenue in 2013, according to estimates. Pandora CRO John Trimble said the Chrysler Group recently joined the extensive roster of automotive brands to integrate Pandora into its vehicle, making it the 20th automotive brand partner.
The service generates revenue from audio and visual ads, tapping into a wide audience across desktop and mobile, from cars to tablets and smartphones. Brands also run promotions to sponsor 30-day trials, Trimble said. Ads get targeted through signals from the member's registration data, such as gender, age, genre, and location. Pandora doesn't use services from companies like Triton Digital, which teamed with eXelate to target in-stream audio ads to digital radio listeners.
Pandora, spawned from the Music Genome Project, a DNA map for each musical piece, relies on word of mouth marketing, email, advertising within the music service to listeners, search engine optimization and social.
COMMENTARY: Listening and sharing music online couldn't be more convenient or crowded. Options are easily found at the swipe of a finger or click of a mouse: the algorithm, Pandora's radio-style personalized music streaming; Spotify's social-sharing streaming platform; iTunes $1.00 per download music model for Apple-only devices and the cloud-based music downloading services of Amazon and Google on almost every other device. Then there are the smaller streaming and subscription players: Rhapsody (who has missed the social boat so far), Slacker, Rdio, MOG and more. Or, there is straight-up piracy.
There are essentially three business models for online music right now:
Ad-Supported Revenue Model - Advertisements running before download -- a highly scable business model, but a costly and money losing revenue model.
Subscription-Based Revenue Model - A fixed monthly or annual charge for an unlimited number of music streaming downloads -- a more viability long term strategy for sustainable and predictable revenues.
Mixed Revenue Model - Includes both elements of the ad-supported and subscription-based revenue models.
What complicates the issue further is unique to the music industry:
Too Much Competition - Too many separate, competing interests fighting for a piece of the music streaming pie.
Costly Royalty Deals - Music labels, music publishers, and artists themselves (to a much lesser extent) all have certain terms in their favor including most favored nation, minimum payments, per-play costs, percent of total company revenue, and one of the most head-scratching, detailed reporting of the competition.
It's difficult to make a profit in the music streaming industry as you can see from the revenue and net loss comparisons between Pandora and Spotify:
Click Image To Enlarge
The problem: The high cost of music content. Although Pandora and Spotify are rapidly growing revenues, the cost that they pay the music companies for all that content is rising faster than revenues are growing, and neither company can seem to make a profit from all their efforts, as you can see from Pandora's content costs and revenue growth.
Click Image To Enlarge
As a result of Pandora's high content costs, it continually operates below the breakeven point, with expenses very often exceeding revenues.
Click Image To Enlarge
It makes you wonder whether there is an optimal revenue model for music streaming companies like Pandora and Spotify. Although Spotify active users reached 20 million in December 2012, of which 20% or five million were paid subscribers (nearly five times Pandora's 1 million paid subscribers), offering unlimited downloads to those paid subscribers comes at a higher cost -- higher royalties to the music companies and no advertising (no ads appear for paid subscribers).
Spotify Losses Mount
Spotify will likely pass the $500 million revenue mark for 2012, more than double that of 2011's $244 million, and with losses still on the books the company is expected to seek a new round of funding, money that will value the company at more than $3 billion.
Pandora's Red Ink Continues
Pandora also expects to lose money in 2012. Like Spotify, Pandora has never generated a profit. For the first nine months of fiscal year endng January 31, 2013, the company generated total revenues of $302.056 million and a net loss of $23.59 million. For Q4 2013, Pandora expects revenues to be in the range of $120 million to $123 million. This would bring total revenues for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2013 to $422 million to $425 million. Non-GAAP loss per share is expected to be between ($0.06) and ($0.09). Non-GAAP loss per share excludes stock-based compensation expense, assumes minimal tax expense given our net operating loss position, and 171 million weighted average basic shares outstanding for the fourth quarter fiscal 2013.
Pandora Increases Listening Hours
For the third quarter ending October 31, 2012, users logged 3.56 billion listener hours, 67% over the same quarter the prior fiscal year. Active users reach 59.2 million growing 47% year-over-year. This averages to about 19.73 million active users per month for the quarter.
According to J.P. Morgan, 70% of Pandora's users will be listening to their music via a mobile device (see below) during the fiscal year ending January 31, 2013. Like Facebook, this means that Pandora must shift its advertising focus from the desktop to mobile devices. For its part, Pandora has generated more listener hours, but it must pay the music companies each time a song is streamed. 95% or 18.73 million of Pandora's active users are non-payers (only 1 million are paid subscribers). Paid subscribers during the first nine months of the current fiscal year represent only 11% of total revenues.
Click Image To Enlarge
Pandora's Music Royalty Paradox
How much should "free" music cost and who should pay for it?
That's the deceptively simple question at the heart of the latest round of legal wrangling surrounding Pandora, which has launched an effort to get federal legislation passed to lower royalty rates paid to musicians so that it may remain competitive.
In response, more than 100 artists, including high-profile acts like Rihanna,Pink Floyd and Katy Perry, have signed an open letter opposing the move. The letter states.
"Pandora's principal asset is the music. Why is the company asking Congress once again to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon? That's not fair and that's not how partners work together."
Pandora argues that Internet radio royalty fees should be in line with those of other services, such as cable and satellite radio. According to the company, it paid 54 percent of its revenue to record companies and artists last year. By comparison, Sirius satellite radio paid 8 percent. Pandora, however, agreed in 2007 with the artists' and labels' representative organization to its royalty rate.
Pandora, like Spotify, is treading water, with a revenue model that cannot be sustained over the long-term, and the company must either charge more for its music streaming, obtain royalty concessions from the music companies, or modify its advertising products to satisfy mobile listeners while generating more mobile adverting revenues.
According to Pandora's fourth-quarter financial report, 90 percent of its revenue comes from pop-up and audio advertising, which in the online world not only tends to drive away users (in many cases, to music pirating outlets) but have yet to prove effective, especially as more users shift to mobile devices.
Dave Allen, founding member and bass player for the bands Gang of Four and Shriekback, who blogs frequently about developments on the digital music front says.
"Mobile advertising is not taking off for many reasons so, like Facebook, Pandora is struggling to make any sizable revenue from mobile ads."
Courtesy of an article dated January 11, 2013 appearing in MediaPost Publications Online Media Daily, an article dated January 18, 2013 appearing in WebProNews, an article dated November 12, 2012 appearing in The Blog Herald and a press release dated December 4, 2012 issued by Pandora, and an article dated December 5, 2012 appearing in eCommerce Times and an article dated November 29, 2012 appearing in SFGate.com
The new Myspace is based on a horizontal feed, with special emphasis on visual content and an omnipresent playback bar at the bottom for music.
CO.DESIGN TALKS TO THE SLEEPING GIANT’S NEW OWNERS ABOUT THE IMMINENT REDESIGN.
There’s an entire generation of Internet users that won’t have much trouble remembering what Myspace used to look like. If you close your eyes, you can probably conjure up an image of the standard profile page: the music player up top, the top friends box somewhere underneath, a simple text list of interests over on the left. Trying to remember Facebook’s first design isn’t quite as easy--it’s changed significantly since its early days as an exclusive club for those with .edu email addresses. The point is that, for all its troubles over the last half decade or so, one of the biggest problems Myspace has had to face is just how vividly people remember it as a relic of an older age. For most, Myspace is a contemporary of AIM away messages and the HTML blink tag--one of the most prominent inhabitants of a more primitive web that we’re not very eager to revisit. So when Tim and Chris Vanderhook, founders of Specific Media, took over the company in 2011, one thing was clear: to be relevant again, Myspace needed a new look, one that was distinctive enough to purge the image of Tom grinning goofily over his shoulder from the Internet’s collective memory.
Actually, it needed to be more than a redesign--it had to be an entirely new product. Tim Vanderhook, the CEO, told me.
"You couldn’t just put a new coat of paint on this thing. You really had to build everything from scratch, you had to rethink what the brand was actually going to stand for, and then you had to give people a totally different experience."
Basically, Myspace had to do a little soul searching. The challenge for the new owners was figuring out what the site could offer at a juncture where new social networks come and go on what seems like a weekly basis. The way forward, the Vanderhooks quickly decided, was to develop a new experience based around something that’s always been an integral part of the Myspace fabric: music.
While the old school Myspace gave many their first taste of social media, at its heart, the site was a place where musicians could host their songs and cultivate a fan base. Before services like SoundCloud came along--and before independent tunes got slick, cheap DSLR videos to premiere along with them--Myspace was an easy, free way for artists to get their music out there. And though Facebook eventually won the greater social media war, nothing really emerged to take Myspace’s place in the music world. The Vanderhooks saw it as a "huge gap in the market place. None of the social platforms that were out there were really servicing the artists’ needs." So, over the course of the last 14 months, that’s exactly what they built: a striking new site that gives artists a handsome place to host their music and fans a place to connect with the artists they love.
Original Myspace logo
Myspace logo (September 2012)
New myspace logo effective September 2012
The Internet got its first look at the new Myspace--now styled with a lower-case S--a few weeks ago when Justin Timberlake, who co-owns the company with the Vanderhooks, tweeted a video teasing the new design. The two-minute clip shows a surprising amount of new thinking. For starters, the site, designed byJosephmark, is based on a horizontal stream, something that just makes more sense in an age of widescreen laptops and connected TVs, the brothers explained. It’s immediately apparent that the site was made for images, not text--one major way it distinguishes itself from Facebook and its status-dominated feed. As Tim Vanderhook explained, the vision was to create a "social network for the creative community"--not just musicians but filmmakers, photographers, and other artists as well. That meant building a site that was able to showcase that creative work.
But you have to watch the clip closely to catch some of the more interesting developments. There’s a smart, multivariable search function that pulls in all the results across artists, albums, and users. It’s evident that there’s a heavy emphasis on playlists and mixes--at one point, you can catch a glimpse of a nice drag-and-drop tool for creating them. But there’s one thing that’s present in every different section of the site you see in the clip: a music playback bar at the bottom of the screen. As much as anything else, the new Myspace is competing with iTunes, Spotify, and the rest to be the destination for simply listening to the music you like.
User-created mixes are one of the ways in which the site is pushing a new social music experience
The new design also includes a host of tools for the artists themselves. One part of the teaser shows how artists will have access to some nice visual tools for assessing their fan bases, things like dynamic infographics that show demographic data and maps detailing where people are listening. There’s an immense amount of data that flows through social networks, Chris Vanderhook explained--
"We’re really trying to take all that data we’ve collected and put it in the hands of our community."
These types of analytics tools have long been essential for online publishers trying to grow readership, and it’s hard to imagine that savvy artists won’t see their potential straight away. Musicians will also get tools for identifying their most active followers--the video clip shows how artists will be able to send out exclusive content directly to a designated inner-circle of fans.
That’s something we’ve already seen in places--how a little attention from an artist him or herself can help sustain a fervent online fanbase. On Twitter, the fiercely loyal followers of artists like Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber have self-organized into semi-official fan clubs, sounding off on every minute development in the artists’ careers, promoting their music, and, when provoked, descending on detractors like Wild West posses. Sometimes, that commitment is repaid in the form of a Twitter mention from the artist themselves. But it makes you wonder: If those types of interactions have blossomed on Twitter, a service that doesn’t really go out of its way to facilitate groups or to help users separate signal from noise in general, what sort of engagement will we see on a platform designed expressly to connect artists and their fans. Tim told me.
"That reciprocal relationship didn’t exist historically, and that’s something we’re trying to bring to the table."
But if letting fans get closer to artists they already love is one part of the strategy, helping users find new artists to adore is another main goal. With Spotify’s arrival stateside last year, a huge swath of users got their first taste of streaming music and discovered how easy it was to find new stuff when you don’t have to commit to a download. And while Facebook’s integration with Spotify is clumsy at best, the partnership has given us glimpses of how a good social music experience could be genuinely useful--things like sharing songs with a click or just scoping out what your friends are listening to. In addition to straightforward sharing tools, the Vanderhooks told me that the new Myspace will have a variety of music discovery tools, from artist pages that list their own musical influences to an engine that gives users personalized recommendations. Tim told me.
"Discovery was something we wanted to nail."
The site’s new owners told me they tried to make things easier for users at every turn. That meant eliminating unnecessary clicks whenever possible--users can see an overview of friends’ info simply by mousing over their thumbnail.
And it might be something they’re uniquely suited to nail, too. In addition to having substantial licensing agreements with the big record companies, Myspace has the same advantage that Apple’s always enjoyed over PC and smartphone makers--control over every aspect of the experience. As Tim Vanderhook explained--everything in the new Myspace is new, from the interface to the way the social network operates to the streaming infrastructure it’s all built on. What that means for users, if the company can pull it off, is a platform where finding music, playing music, and sharing music are all seamless, coherent parts of the greater experience.
Myspace Music comes with it own music player and you can create playlists like mine here (Click Image To Enlarge)
The Vanderhooks are aware that their opportunity here is a unique one. Chris told me.
"Tim and I didn’t have to answer to 2003 to 2011 Myspace. We really got to reimagine what Myspace looks like going forward and build a platform completely from scratch. I think that most companies aren’t afforded that luxury."
He’s right. But the brothers also know that they’ve only got one shot to get it right. Tim added.
"We have a lot to prove as a company, and we have to earn back the trust of our community."
But even on the unfamiliar new site, old users will find one comforting nod to the Myspace of yore: Amid the spiffy new search and fancy playlists, the top 8 friends box is back in action.
COMMENTARY: I have not visited Myspace for nearly a year, so I was very surprised with the redesign. I did notice that some of my embedded content has been dropped. My pictures are still there, but the forums have been eliminated. I think the latter is a mistake. Users should have a place where they can talk about their favorite music, artists, entertainers, videos, and so forth. I do like the Streaming section in the middle section of my Tommy G. Toy profile page (see below). You can list all streams, your own and those of your Myspace friends, including the ability to filter through updates for music, videos, photos, topics, status and more. Facebook and Twitter should learn from that.
My Profile Page on Myspace (Click Image To Enlarge)
A SIMPLE, INGENIOUS SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF HOW ISOLATED MUSIC-LISTENING HAS BECOME.
The biggest problem in social media right now isn’t getting people engaged online, it’s getting people engaged in person. Check-in apps like Foursquare and photo apps like Instagram definitely interact with the real world, but they tend to appeal to friends online more than the friends you’re actually, physically hanging out with.
Jukey hardware and controls (Click Image To Enlarge)
Vim & Vigor Design, who you’d best know for creating the accessories and finish of the Nook, has developed a concept that addresses this problem of (anti)social network behavior. It’s called Jukey, and it’s a new take on the jukebox, networked to accept requests from in-person smartphone users. The idea is that people at a party can pool their music collections, and the device’s intelligence will automatically create smart playlists composed of the favorite songs of everyone who contributed. No more being a slave to one person’s tastes; no more violent lurches in the music as different would-be DJs commandeer the laptop.
Partner Irina Kozlovskaya explains to Co.Design.
"Our team noticed that more and more music listening is becoming a solitary experience. This is part of a larger trend of minimizing social interaction in lieu of digital experiences, especially for younger generations. We set out to create a device that would combine all the best elements of services like Spotify and Last.fm, but in a real-world environment.”
The idea has actually been done before to a limited capacity. Services like Grooveshark have long supported custom APIs for code junkies that would allow party participants to vote on playlists.
What Vim & Vigor does differently is that they’ve taken an idea we all know can be possible and they’ve packaged it in an enticing consumer product. Jukey itself is a very neat little music player. The simple Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-connected speaker has no buttons. To turn the device on, you simply lay Jukey on its side. To change the volume, you swipe left or right on Jukey’s case. And you can even rewind and fast forward by rotating Jukey like a big jog wheel.
Jukey sound cones (Click Image To Enlarge)
Everything else is digital. An auto mode can play music by filters like genre, or DJs can trade off tracks in a voting-based arena (much like Turntable.fm). And what’s exceptionally neat is that, even those who can’t make the physical party can join in digitally online, sharing their tracks and voting with everyone else.
So rather than losing party-goers to their musings on Facebook, Jukey constantly pulls the cloud back to the real world--in fact, Jukey pulls anyone on a social network into a good old fashioned analog celebration.
As of right now, Jukey is purely a concept. But Vim & Vigor is open to partnering with a company interested in producing it. To me, it seems like, not a necessary replacement for, but a killer extension to an existing social network. Why not have Spotify jukeboxes pumping at every party? It’d sure beat the awkward, fumbling silence of swapping users on an iPod dock.
COMMENTARY: The problem that I see is with Jukey is that it is too dependent on a single device for social networking crowd music listening. Jukey has a cool design, but the concept should've consisted of an app that runs on your desktop or laptop and interfaces with your social network crowd that could then be connected to your home entertainment system to playback the music.
IT’S HARD TO GET PRECISE ABOUT THE DIFFERING WAYS THE NORTH AND SOUTH MYTHOLOGIZE THEMSELVES. BUT THESE INFOGRAPHICS GET CLOSE.
In my northerner mind, country songs are all about heartbreak. Or drinking. Or God. Or trucks. Or the South itself. Likewise, it wouldn’t be hard to find a southerner who looks at the north as Godless, Frenchified dandies hell-bent on socialism. As it ends up, the stereotypes are somewhat true: There really is a divide in the way the regions view themselves, and you can get a fascinating insight into culture by analyzing country music versus pop music.
Click Image To Enlarge
This duo of infographics from Very Small Array charts out locations mentioned in the song titles of Billboard #1 hits. The first map shows the places mentioned across any genre of top hit. The second is just for country music hits:
Click Image To Enlarge
Now maybe it’s fair to say that we’re all a bit obsessed with the South, but I’m guessing most of you could spot which map is which, solely by the dots. (And you could also spot which songs on the general map are on the country hits map, too.)
It’s clear, country musicians love singing about the South, and they’re particularly precise in their geography of Texas--El Paso, Abilene, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Galveston, and Luckenbach each make between one and 14 appearances over the last 60 years.
Meanwhile, pop hits frequently dream of other shores, including Paris and London but also, mysteriously, the Volga river. Moreover, country hits are obsessed with teeny tiny towns--seemingly, the more obscure, the better and more authentic? Meanwhile, pop hits focus almost solely on the big cities. (And we’ll bet the one mention of El Paso was a cross-over country hit.)
Political scientists often talk about the city/country divide--about how those in urban areas vote differently than those in rural areas. But charts like these start to get at the very different aspirations and reference points that make that divide so pronounced.
Another fun and fascinating part of these graphics is the Country Hits’ breakdown of the 12 most common words used across all of the genre’s songs titles. Romantic tropes like “love,” “heart,” “man,” and “woman” all make an appearance, sure, but “angels” and, the absolute best, “wheel” (which I think should totally count for “truck”) sneak in the list as well.
So while this northerner may have been wrong about drinking, I did hit the nail on the head with the South’s obsession with heartbreak, religion, trucks, and the South itself. And I think four out of five really isn’t that bad, at least for a rude, fast-talking, city-dwelling Yank such as myself.
COMMENTARY: I don't listen to country & western music at all, even though I will admit to wearing cowboy boots, country shirt and hat during the "urban cowboy" era that hit the national sceen in the late 70's and early 80's. I also did some line dancing, and thought I really had the moves down, if I may say so. Heeehaaawww!!
Google is developing its own branded wireless music streaming home entertainment system, will compete with Apple
Google Inc. is developing a home-entertainment system that streams music wirelessly throughout the home and would be marketed under the company's own brand, according to people briefed on the company's plans.
The effort marks a sharp shift in strategy for Google, which for the first would time would design and market consumer electronic devices under its name. The company has mainly focused on developing the Android operating system that powers devices such as smartphones, tablets and televisions. It has also allowed other companies to build and brand the hardware that uses it.
Google plans to make a branded home-entertainment system, steps up the company's rivalry with Apple by adding a new platform for competition, George Stahl reports on Markets Hub. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The new Android device, along with Google's pending purchase of device maker Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., also ups the ante in its ongoing tussle with rival Apple Inc., which also controls both the software and hardware process.
Google competes with Apple in the mobile market where the share of Android-powered phones grew rapidly to overtake that of iPhones last year, according to some estimates. Apple recently stepped onto Google's Web search turf by launching Siri, a voice-activated search feature on its latest iPhone. And Google over the past year has worked to try to catch up to Apple in other areas such as selling digital music, movies and e-books directly to consumers.
Google's entertainment device, in development for several years, is expected to be unveiled later this year, people familiar with the matter said.
It's unclear which retailers would sell the entertainment device, which would stream music from Google's online music-storage service and pipe it wirelessly to Google-designed speakers or other Web-connected devices in people's homes, according to these people. In the future, such a device could potentially stream other forms of digital media such as video, one of these people said.
Consumers would operate the Google system using a smartphone or tablet, they said. It's unclear whether the devices would have to be powered by Android.
A Google spokesman declined to comment.
Google currently offers and other digital media for sale online through Android Market, which rivals Apple's iTunes store.
Google has already been moving to take Android from mobile devices into people's living rooms. The company has worked with television makers to incorporate the operating system under the moniker Google TV, which lets people use their TVs to browse the Web for video content, among other things. But the technology, which has been adopted by companies such as Samsung Electronics Co. and Sony Corp., has been slow to gain traction with consumers.
One person familiar with the matter said Google was hoping to offer the entertainment system, which would bring a new revenue stream to the company, at more-affordable prices than a similar device made by Sonos Inc., which focuses exclusively on music.
The market for home-audio hardware, including basics like stereos and more advanced gadgets like the Sonos music-streaming system is worth around $8 billion a year, world-wide, according to an estimate from Sonos co-founder Tom Cullen, who adds that his company's annual sales last year totaled about $200 million.Mr. Cullen said.
"I'd be stunned if they actually thought it was worth it, because it's peanuts for them."
Google generated about $38 billion in revenue last year.
One person familiar with Google's plans said the company hopes to increase the size of that market by selling products at lower price points.
The initiative, however, could bring Google closer to being in competition with hardware companies that use Android and are commonly seen as partners for the company.
Partnerships between Google and device makers have made Android the No.1 operating system in smartphones in the U.S. and helped Google to extend its Web-search engine and other applications into devices beyond PCs. Google doesn't generate any revenue from sales of the devices.
Google's Android unit is led by Andy Rubin, who once ran a company called Danger that designed handsets, including the Sidekick, which Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have said they admired. Over the past year or so Mr. Rubin hired some of his former colleagues at Danger, including Matt Hershenson and Joe Britt, to lead Android's hardware unit.
Anand Agarawala, left, and Joe Britt demonstrate new features for the Android@Home program at the Google IO Developers Conference in San Francisco in May.
At a conference last year, Mr. Britt previewed two home-entertainment devices that are related to the product Google is expected to sell this year. Mr. Britt called them "Tungsten" devices and said one of them could be controlled by an Android tablet and used to stream music and to act as a "bridge" to connect with other home appliances and devices.
Mr. Britt said at the conference.
"Think about your home as a network of accessories and think of Android as the operating system for your home, a vision called 'Android @Home'"
He didn't say the company would sell the device.
The company continues to work closely with device makers. For every updated release of its Android operating system, for example, Google chooses one hardware partner and helps it design a "Nexus" device to showcase the operating system's newest capabilities. Most recently, Google launched the Galaxy Nexus smartphone, made by Samsung.
Google in 2010 tried to sell the first Nexus device, called Nexus One and built by HTC Corp., directly to consumers through its website. The company discontinued the effort several months later.
Google's new device would mark the first time it has directly overseen the manufacturing process, working with overseas hardware suppliers and selling devices to consumers.
Google has increasingly expressed interest in allowing Android devices such as a smartphone to control appliances and other home devices, including lights or heating systems.
COMMENTARY: I wonder if Google founder Larry Page and Sergey Brin asked themselves, "What would Steve do?" I don't like the idea of Google competing on the basis of price. This runs counter to Apple's strategy. We have already seen that offering lower-priced alternatives to the iPhone and iPad has had very little effect on Apple's market shares. Apple is now No 1 in both smartphones and tablets and predicted to stay No 1 for quite some time.
With Apple it has always been about designing products that their own engineers would love using, that are not only well engineered and designed, but are simple, beautiful and that "people will lust for," using former founder Steve Jobs' own words. Will Google be able to put a "dent in the universe?"
Apple has always been able to maintain the highest industry margins by offering products that are are well engineered and designed, outsourcing production, and continuing the total product experience through its own Apple Stores and great post-sale customer service. The exceptions being the distribution of iPhone and iPad. The iPhone was originally exclusively distributed through AT&T, but both the iPhone and iPad are now distributed by AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint, and a few big box retailers like WalMart and Target.
The Google brand conveys an image of a company with the No 1 online search engine, which has also gained notoriety with the Android OS and its ecosystem of apps. Whether it can position itself as a hardware maker in the home entertainment market remains to be seen, and is very risky endeavor. Apple was able to do this with smartphones, portable music players and tablets, but they did it with "magical" products that disrupted entire market segments. I am not entirely convinced that Google can successfully carry out this new branded hardware strategy to fruition.
Here’s the trouble with touch screens: the screens. Not everything that could usefully benefit from a touch interface can accommodate a fragile, expensive glass-plus-capacitive-electronics display. Which is why Mogees , an experimental interface design by Bruno Zamborlin, will blow your mind: it uses a microphone to create a gestural interface out of any hard surface. Watch and be amazed:
The system works via something Zamborlin calls "concatenative synthesis," which even Zamborlin himself can’t explain very well. And it’s telling that the demo video never shows what, exactly, that tiny microphone is hooked up to. Obviously it’s a portable computer system of some kind, but whether it’s a heavy, modded-out custom rig in a backpack or an iPad with a simple app running on it isn’t clear. But who cares: the implications for interface and interaction design--not to mention live music or multimedia performance art--are mind-warpingly awesome. Here’s another, earlier demo:
Here's how Mogees works:
Mogees is an interactive gestural-based surface for realtime audio mosaicing.
When the performer touches the surface, Mogees analyses the incoming audio signal and continuously looks for its closest segment within the sound database. These segments are played one after the other over time: this technique is called concatenative synthesis. For instance, loaded a series of voice samples, a graze in the surface could corresponds to a whispering while a scratch would trigger more shouted sounds.
The wooden surface can be "played" with any tool such as hands and Mogees will always try to find a correspondent sound to it. It can also be applied to other sound sources such as voice or acoustic/electric instruments.
Mooges has been developed in collaboration with Norbert Schnell and takes full advantage of the MuBu environment for MaxMSP. It is currently used in the Airplay project by the IRCAM composer Lorenzo Pagliei.
Mogees has been exposed at the Beam festival at Brunel University in London on the 24/25/26 of June 2011.
Zamborlin set up Mogees in these videos to act like a musical instrument, so imagine a live DJ equipped with this system: he or she could act like a digital-audio graffiti artist, walking into any situation, sticking the Mogees mic onto any hard surface (or even another person), and start wiggling and twitching their hands and fingers as if they were scratching a record to create a live performance on the fly. Beats the hell out of most subway musicians.
But Zamborlin’s video hints that the system can let a user design and define whatever interactions (and the computer functions they activate/control) that they like. So a system like Mogees could be deployed in rugged field situations by scientists, soldiers, doctors--anyone who wants or needs to get a tactile gestural interface up and running quickly in unpredictable terrain. Mogees feels as breathtakingly innovative as the vaunted Minority Report gestural interface, except more grounded, more DIY in its design, more flexible in its potential applications. The Minority Report UI was supposed to be the future, and it still hasn’t arrived. Maybe something like Mogees has a better shot.
COMMENTARY: Bruno Zamborlin has either invented a new form of art or self-expression, a new touch user-interface, or new musical instrument, or a combination of all three. Whatever makes his Mogees interactive gestural-based service for realtime audio mosaicing (a mouthful, if there ever was) work could be quite an invention. Imagine turning your house into a living, breathing musical instrument. Apple's SIRI voice-command app has nothing on Mogees.
Whatever Mogees is, or the technology that makes it work, and belch out such beautiful sounds of the real world, is definitely a new paradigm in sound acoustics, if not music making. In the hands of a real musician, Mogees could become the next musical instrument accompament.
Will there be a School for Mogees Musicians? It would certainly differentiate you from other musicians. When people ask, "So you're a Mogees musician? What the hell is Mogees musician?" Do you see where I am going with this.
Courtesy of an article dated January 5, 2012 appearing in Fast Company
Facebook on Thursday began rolling out a new feature aimed at ramping up the social experience of listening to music online.
The feature, called “Listen With Friends"—lets users listen along with any friend that playing music.
Alexandre Roche, product designer at Facebook, wrote in a blog post Thursday.
“You can listen to the same song, at the exact same time—so when your favorite vocal part comes in you can experience it together, just like when you're jamming out at a performance or dance club.”
When a Facebook user is listening to a song, a music note will appear next to their name in the chat sidebar and the real-time news ticker. To listen in, users can simply hover over that friend’s name, then click the “Listen With” button.
Click Image To Enlarge
To listen in with a friend, both parties will need the same music service, a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to ZDNet. Currently, Spotify and Rdio are the only two music players that support Listen With Friends. If a user attempts to listen in with a friend but does not have the compatible player, they will be prompted to install it.
The feature is part of Facebook chat, so users can chat online about what they are listening to. Users can also listen in as a group while one friend acts as a deejay. Up to 50 friends can listen to the same song at the same time, and chat about it.
Click Image To Enlarge
When a user begins listening to music with a friend, Facebook will post a story to friends’ tickers and/or news feeds. Users will be able to control who will be able to see when they are listening with a friend through their App Settings page after installing the compatible music app.
“Only the people you've shared your listening activity with can see when you're listening with a friend,” Facebook said in a Help Center post. Users will also be able to remove songs they have listened to from their timelines.
The service will roll out to all Facebook users over the next few weeks.
COMMENTARY: Facebook's has done to music sharing what Google+ did with Hangouts with its new social music sharing "listen with friends" feature. I have a feeling it's going to be popular.
Courtesy of an article dated January 12, 2012 appearing in PC Magazine
Jeriël Bobbe cures the boredom of monotonous walkways.
Walking through the endless airports halls to your departure gate can bring on terminal ennui. Shouldn’t there be something more fun to do along the way besides shopping the duty-free? Design to the rescue! Jeriël Bobbe, a recent Eindhoven grad, has devised a musical floor that you play by dragging your suitcase across it.
Bobbe was inspired by something he noticed during his weekly train trips from Eindhoven to Amsterdam. The Dutch designer writes.
“Whether they are stone slabs, tactile paving for the blind, or a grid for wheelchairs, there is music in everything.”
So he decided to formalize the music-making, by creating pieces of ribbed wood that can be arranged like musical notes. The distance between the grooves corresponds to pitch, while the depth of the ruts determines volume.
Before debuting the Me-lo-dy at Dutch Design Week last October, Bobbe experimented with various patterns--engineering the pieces so that one suitcase wheel generated the tune, the other wheel the rhythm--as well as different materials.
He tells Co.Design.
“I made an aluminum stone that sounds more like hard-rock music.”
In the end, he opted for the warm tones of American walnut and for modular pavers that can be arranged any which way:
“If you want, you can play the American anthem with your trolley suitcase when you are landed on J.F.K.”
Click Image To Enlarge
There are no immediate plans to install the Me-lo-dy in an airport, although Bobbe says that Amsterdam’s Schiphol has expressed interest, and the designer has fielded many calls of interest from companies wishing to produce the design for commercial purposes. Bobbe writes.
“These tiles add some life to the cold, sterile spaces at airports. Me-lo-dy is a serious competitor for the moving walkways: Will the travelers choose the easy way, or the melodious way?”
Click Image To Enlarge
COMMENTARY: I can hardly wait to hear Me-lo-dy perform its musical magic as I pull my carry-on luggage through the airport to board a flight to whereever I may be travelling. It should be quite a lot of fun don't you think. The kids will definitely love it. Let's hope that Bobbe can convince the airports to install his new art piece musical invention.
Last May at Google I/O, we launched Music Beta by Google with a clear ambition: to help people access their music collections easily from any device. Music Beta enabled you to upload your personal music collection (up to 20,000 songs) for free to the cloud so you could stream it anywhere, any time. Today, the beta service evolves into a broader platform: Google Music. Google Music is about discovering, purchasing, sharing and enjoying digital music in new, innovative and personalized ways.
Google Music helps you spend more time listening to your collection and less time managing it. We automatically sync your entire music library—both purchases and uploads—across all your devices so you don't have to worry about cables, file transfers or running out of storage space. We’ll keep your playlists in tact, too, so your “Chill” playlist is always your “Chill” playlist, whether you’re on your laptop, tablet or phone. You can even select the specific artists, albums and playlists you want to listen to when you're offline.
Purchase and Share
We also want to make it easy and seamless for you to grow your music collection. Today, we added a new music store in Android Market, fully integrated with Google Music.
The store offers more than 13 million tracks from artists on Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI, and the global independent rights agency Merlin as well as over 1,000 prominent independent labels including Merge Records, Warp Records, Matador Records, XL Recordings and Naxos. We’ve also partnered with the world's largest digital distributors of independent music including IODA, INgrooves, The Orchard and Believe Digital.
You can purchase individual songs or entire albums right from your computer or your Android device and they’ll be added instantly to your Google Music library, and accessible anywhere.
Good music makes you want to turn up the volume, but great music makes you want to roll down the windows and blast it for everyone. We captured this sentiment by giving you the ability to share a free full play of a purchased song with your friends on Google+.
Exclusively on Google Music
We’re celebrating our launch with a variety of music that you won’t find anywhere else, much of it free. There’s something for everyone, with a variety of free tracks to choose from:
The Rolling Stones are offering an exclusive, never-before-released live concert album, Brussels Affair (Live, 1973), including a free single, “Dancing with Mr. D.” This is the first of six in an unreleased concert series that will be made available exclusively through Google Music over the coming months.
Whether you’re on a label or the do-it-yourself variety, artists are at the heart of Google Music. With the Google Music artist hub, any artist who has all the necessary rights can distribute his or her own music on our platform, and use the artist hub interface to build an artist page, upload original tracks, set prices and sell content directly to fans—essentially becoming the manager of their own far-reaching music store. This goes for new artists as well as established independent artists, like Tiesto, who debuts a new single on Google Music today.
Starting today, Google Music is open in the U.S. at market.android.com, and over the next few days, we will roll out the music store to Android Market on devices running Android 2.2 and above. You can also pick up the new music app from Android Market and start listening to your music on your phone or tablet today. And don’t forget to turn your speakers up to eleven.
COMMENTARY: That's music to my ears. It's about time that Google offered an alternative to Apple iTunes. I like the fact that your music files, purchased and uploaded are stored in the cloud, and are automatically synchronized to all of your devices. I assume this is similar to Apple's iCloud. How much does the service cost? Apple charges for music you upload into iCloud. I like the list of exclusive songs from Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Shakira, etc. Great way to get some buzz. Just as soon as I have had time to test drive Google Music, I will provide some feedback for my readers.