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Online music service eMusic is dropping major record labels as it plans to leave "the mainstream music business" and return back to the independent music scene. Of note, the company will drop music from Sony, Warner and Universal - a bold move at a time when streaming and digital download services try to cozy up to the big record labels.
eMusic was one of the original music services which began offering subscriptions for listeners, and was one of the best known services to find new indie music. The decision will also drop indie artists that have their music distributed using major record studios.
"Beginning Oct. 1, 2014, the leading download-to-own music retailer will be exiting the mainstream music business and exclusively offering independent music," the company said in a public statement. "The company's goal is to build the most extensive catalog of independent music in the world."
Streaming music sales are rising in popularity, but still cannot make up for the drop in both physical CDs and digital downloads, according to a report released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). As Pandora and Spotify continue to shake up the music industry, Apple - and its acquisition of Beats - can help push the industry forward, despite the difficulty in convincing streaming users to purchase music.
Music business analyst Mark Mulligan noted that the music industry must try to determine if streaming music should be used as a marketing or sales tool in the future. There also is concern that many Spotify stations, for example, rely on major music hits from a small number of artists, while other songs and albums build a slow following over an extended period of time.
"The streaming picture is changing at an absolutely staggering rate and everyone across the value chain needs to get their heads around all the potential permutations else get left behind," Mulligan noted. "These are both exciting and daunting times."
Japan might be one of the most tech-centric countries in the world, but music executives are perplexed as digital music sales continue to slide. The online music market reached close to $1 billion in 2009, but has dropped down to $400 million in 2013, according to statistics from the Recording Industry Association of Japan. In fact, 85 percent of music sales in Japan were on CDs and not digital music, which must frustrate music executives.
It's unknown why Japanese music listeners prefer CDs over digital music, but some industry analysts believe it could be related to the country's "protectionist business climate." Also, online music services Spotify and Rdio don't have a presence in Japan, but could help turn the tide once they make it to Japan.
When the decision makers finally feel that the heat is intense enough that they have to do something different, they will," said Ken Parks, Spotify chief content officer. "I think we are approaching that moment in Japan."
Apple reportedly won't shut down the Beats Music online streaming service, despite only having around 250,000 paid subscribers. Earlier reports indicated Apple would simply shutter Beats Music, the online music streaming service it acquired alongside the popular Beats speaker, earbud and headphone manufacturer. Apple ultimately paid $3 billion to purchase the company founded by rap mogul Dr. Dre and music industry veteran Jimmy Iovine.
If true, it will be curious to see how Apple decides to change the service, as Spotify currently has 30 million free users and 10 million paid subscribers. It's possible Beats Music and iTunes Radio could be merged together, instead of the company trying to run both services together.
If the Beats Music brand is to survive longer, it's surprising there was nothing related to the Beats app being pre-installed with the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.
Audio company Cambridge Audio recently announced three new Bluetooth speakers that are somewhat pricey but should still win over music listeners. The Go, Go Radio and Bluetone 100 will all be available later this year, as the wireless speaker market becomes even more competitive.
The Go is designed to instantly stream music from smartphones, tablets, and computers, with 18 hours of playback per charge. It includes NFC technology for one-touch Bluetooth pairing to smartphones and other devices. The Go Radio includes the same specifications but also includes an FM Radio with 3 pre-sets and LED digital display. The Bluetone 100 features 100 Watt amplification and a working range up to 105 feet, with 180 degree sound dispersion.
The Cambridge Audio Go will be released in September with a $179.99 MSRP; the Go Radio will be available in November for $199.99 MSRP; and the Bluetone 100 will be available in September with a $299.99 MSRP.
If you have ever worked out using a chest strap to track your heart rate, you know how uncomfortable that can be. During CES 2014, Intel rolled out tech that would allow firms to build earbuds that have heart rate tracking tech inside. Those earbuds are now a reality thanks to SMS Audio with a set of earbuds called BioSport.
The earbuds have an optical biometric sensor that is able to collect data and share it with apps like RunKeeper. BioSport earbuds are IPX4 certified to survive sweat and water. SMS designed the earbuds with a hook shape to keep them inside your ear with exertion.
They connect with any device that has a 3.5mm headphone port and get power needed for the sensor from that port as well. The cord is tangle free and the headphones have in-line controls. Pricing for the earbuds is unknown at this time and they will hit stores in Q4.
Sound system and headphone manufacturer Bose has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Beats Electronics relating to noise-cancellation technology. According to Bose, Beats infringed upon five of its patents on purpose, and made a claim that the company is now incurring losses in sales as a result.
Bose also filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission in the hopes that they can stop Beats from selling their headphones in the United States. According to the company, Beats which was acquired by Apple for $3 billion, is using the infringed technology patent in its Studio and Studio Wireless lineups. Bose mentioned that its active noise reduction technology was originally designed for the military during the 1980s and later was designed for consumers in 2000.
Beats didn't comment on the issue, but Bose's representatives said that they are committed to protecting its investment, customers and also to defend its patent. The lawsuit is filed in US District Court of Delaware.
Computex 2014 - I've been a fan of LUXA2's audio products for a while now, but they were showing off some even more interesting things at Computex this year - starting with the Groovy A.
The LUXA2 Groovy A is a wireless stereo speaker that has a unique adjustable 15- to 30-degree sound angle, meaning you can sit it down, and then adjust it up to blast the audio into the room a little better. It has 7W of total output, a beautiful aluminum construction, a 2200mAh internal battery that should have you listening to tunes for hours and hours, wireless range of up to 10m, and more.
Audio maker NYNE has announced the limited edition Royal Series of the company's Cruise Bluetooth speaker, available in honor of the goldRush Rally 2014. The limited edition Bluetooth speakers will be available in rose gold and pearl white accents, and features Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC support - providing up to 10 hours of playtime. It also has a built-in microphone so hands-free phone calls is included.
When the speaker ships, it will include a carrying case/cover, auxiliary input cable, and USB charging cable. The speaker will be available during the fall with a $79.95 MSRP.
"We are thrilled to introduce the Royal Series to celebrate our sponsorship of the premier luxury automotive rally, goldRush Rally," said Arman Arami, NYNE president, in a statement. "Now your gold Cruiser speaker can coordinate with your iPhone 5s in stunning rose gold wherever your lifestyle takes you from home to work to play and everywhere in between."
Logitech has rolled out a new wireless speaker for mobile users called the X300. The speaker uses Bluetooth to connect to your mobile phone allowing you to listen to your music without having to put on a set of headphones. Logitech designed the mobile speaker to offer wide-range sound with drivers that are angled for a larger sound spectrum.
Logitech says that the X300 will work up to 30-feet away from your mobile phone. In addition to being usable as a wireless speaker for music, the X300 can also work as a speakerphone with call controls. Logitech equips the device with an internal battery good for five hours of continuous playback per charge.