Apple has been in discussion with various label executives about launching an on-demand streaming service that would rival Beats Music and Spotify. The digital music pioneer also tossed around the idea for an Android app to offset the steadily declining numbers of US iTunes downloads as a result of an increase in Android-ready devices. iTunes currently accounts for more than 40% of US recorded music revenue and any decision it makes will have a profound impact on labels’ business models.
While iTunes Radio is available as Apple’s current streaming service, the user has limited control over the songs they can hear and the platform has only made a small impact on Pandora’s market share. With YouTube already set to launch their own streaming service it looks as if the industry is experiencing a shift in how music is consumed.
Whether you’re a professional DJ or a professional iPhone “DJ” app downloader, an artist, a tech-savvy nerd, or just a passionate fan of electronic music, there’s a new invention that you definitely can’t miss: Its name is Contact, and it is truly revolutionary.
Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what sounds make up electronic music. Is it a snare or a kick drum? A clap or a back base? Using Contact, a new software developed in the UK, we can all get a better sense of what it takes to make a rhythm.
Contact was started by Felix Faire, a student at the University Central London, who began the endeavor as an acoustic research project. For the techies among us, he offers a second video that shows the prototype he began with, and the journey his idea has taken since then, explaining how to set up the device and illustrating the back story to how he managed turning a wooden table into a musical instrument.
But for the rest of us, he shows us what Contact is made of in an epic tutorial. Felix’s invention turns the average table into a unique DJ’s turntable with the touch of your fingers and the flick of your wrist. The built in Leap Motion sensors can differentiate between your hand movements, and as a result, you yield a clapping noise if you tap the surface gently, or a kick drum if you bump the table with your wrist.
Likely the most awe-inspiring aspect of the entire project is in the visual display. Like iTunes’ visualizer but cooler, Contact doesn’t just let your hands make music, it lets you see music in a way you’ve never seen it before. Some may say Felix’s invention is akin to an acid trip, though others honor it as pure art. Regardless, it’s an invention worth a second look. In response to questions about what Contact’s next step will be, Felix told Vimeo users that, “It could be fun but its very fragmented and rough round the edges at the moment. I think the exciting thing is that if anyone really wants to build one or something similar then at least they know it is possible.”
In the midst of razor-sharp competition in music technology, Shazam – a music identification service that graced smart phones in the early 2000′s – has stayed at the top of the heap by spreading its utilization across a variety of new platforms. In a year’s time, Shazam has jumped from 60 million to 88 million monthly active users, an increase largely accredited to both a new CEO and the application’s ability to adapt and transform. This flexibility is exemplified by their newly added television service, which acts as an ‘interactive advertisement’ by allowing users to access unique and exclusive content like photos, music or links by simply ‘Shazam-ing’ a commercial or a portion of a show.
It comes as no surprise then that the innovative application is poised to raise $20 million in funding, coming to a total valuation of $500 million according to Recode. Shazam has already received plentiful funding, including $32 million from venture funders along with a $40 million sum received last summer which included a deal with Latin America’s wireless service, America Movil, as an agreement to pre-load the application onto mobile phones in certain regions.
Shazam in the music sphere has solidified its importance by providing a necessary service. However, Jason Del Rey expressed doubts regarding Shazam’s young push towards television expansion.
“The beauty of the main music-discovery feature of the app is that it allows you to get the name of a song you simply can’t identify in another way … Shazam is trying to make this transition [into television] by delivering additional content about both shows and TV commercials to the mobile app, yet it’s nearly as simple for a person to just Google an advertiser or type in a URL if they really want to act on that commercial right then and there.”
For DJs and producers, effectively marketing one’s self to blogs, labels, and fans is of paramount importance. Aside from the standard social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and SoundCloud, new artists are frequently left wondering what else they can do to further their brand. One of the biggest things lacking from aspiring DJs/producers’ online presence is an official website. Thanks to a new service by the name of ToneDen, however, creating an official artist website just became easier than ever.
Aside from offering customizable page layout and design á la blogging platforms like WordPress and Tumblr, ToneDen’s real draw for musicians is its ability to aggregate and analyze stats from Facebook, Twitter, and SoundCloud pages. The site has already been picked up by such forward-thinking acts as Girffage and Worthy, as well as Insomniac Discovery Project winners AndDrop!, M35, Slogun &iOh and Fistacuffs.
While a free membership will get you your own customizable website, a $5/month membership will give you access to a one sheet, or electronic press kit, as well as an unbranded website and URL. Check out ToneDen now.
Pioneer has upped the ante for DJ controllers with their latest forward-thinking performance product. The DDJ-SZ is the fourth and final installment in Pioneer’s Serato DJ controller series. Following its predecessors the DDJ-SB, DDJ-SR, and DDJ-SX, the brand new DDJ-SZ is Pioneer’s flagship mixing controller, boasting nearly all the functionality and aesthetic of their revered CDJ-2000 and DJM-900nexus line but in a single, well-organized product.
The new controller’s most enticing aspects include the addition of two USB sections, two 24-bit soundcards allowing for two separate laptops to be connected, bigger performances pads and jog wheels, and a brand new oscillator effects section. It’s safe to say controller DJs will be salivating over Pioneer’s new model (I know I am). The DDJ-SZ will be available in March, 2014, for $2,399.
Although Fedde Le Grand and Dutch rock band DI-RECT have already released an official music video for “Where We Belong,” the two have recently launched a campaign for their official Instagram lyric video. Fans are invited to participate in the contest by creating a sign with one word from the song’s lyrics and an image of their country’s flag at the top right corner. The second step is to either have someone photograph you holding your sign, or if you’re one for selflies, get snapping. Finally, upload the photo to Instagram using the hashtag #WhereWeBelong and hope for the best! Click here for the lyrics and further inspiration to get your creative juices flowing.