Audible has put up a bunch of audiobooks for free on their website to help pass the time during during this global pandemic we find ourselves in.
Chris Willman, writing at Variety:
Amazon has announced that its warehouses has “temporarily disabled shipment creation” for discretionary items through at least April 5. That doesn’t have to do with the outflow of product from Amazon, but inflow. Amazon is declaring an immediate emphasis on the kind of household and medical supplies that have been quick to sell out, and which customers are having a hard time finding in person. Their message to record labels and distributors: Please stop sending us anything, until further notice.
The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show invites fans in as Musgraves prepares for a most joyful Christmas gathering with a whimsical set and dazzling wardrobe influenced by the artist’s fresh aesthetic. Equal parts heart-warming and cleverly absurd, Musgraves pays tribute to holiday specials of the past whilst also reinventing just what a Christmas special can be, with a magically modern twist.
Having wanted to work with him for years, we were really excited to take a song we love and hear it through T Bone’s lens. He encouraged us to follow our instincts and to let the simplicity do the talking. This song started as a late night lullaby and has since evolved into something a bit more majestic and powerful. It was a true privilege getting to work with T Bone and his team on this song and we look forward to future collaborations.
Amazon Music is rolling out a new lossless streaming tier.
Amazon is launching a new tier of its music service today, dubbed Amazon Music HD. It offers lossless versions of audio files for streaming or downloading at a price that aggressively undercuts Tidal, the main competition for this kind of audio. Amazon will charge $14.99 a month for the HD tier, or $12.99 if you’re an Amazon Prime customer. Tidal’s Hi-Fi plan costs $19.99 monthly. The new plan was rumored a few months ago.
And so, beginning today, customers in the U.S. who do not yet have a Prime membership or a subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited will now be able to listen to an ad-supported selection of top playlists and stations for free with Amazon Music on compatible Alexa-enabled devices.
Listening to music on your Google Home speaker right out-of-the-box seems too good to be true, right? It’s not! Starting today, YouTube Music is offering a free, ad-supported experience on Google Home speakers (or other Google Assistant-powered speakers).
Well, that got my attention. But not in the way they likely hoped. Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can? (On that point, numerous people have contacted our investigation team about their similar experiences with AMI, and how they needed to capitulate because, for example, their livelihoods were at stake.)
Holy shit. After reading this piece, my first thought was this scene from The Dark Knight.
Apple Music is now available on the Amazon Echo:
To set up Apple Music on the Echo, open the Alexa iOS app and go to the Music section of the app’s Settings. You won’t see Apple Music listed as an existing service, so tap the ‘Link New Service’ button, which will list Apple Music along with several other services.
Once you’ve logged in with your Apple Music credentials, the Apple Music Skill is enabled, which allows you to say things like ‘Alexa, play my New Music Mix on Apple Music.’ You can separately set Apple Music as your default music service, which lets you use Alexa to request music without specifying ‘on Apple Music.’
I’ve been playing with it all weekend and it works great. It doesn’t (currently) have access to your entire iCloud Music Library, so things in your personal collection aren’t available, but the millions of songs on Apple Music are all available, as are your custom playlists.
Apple Music subscribers will be able to enjoy Apple Music’s 50 million songs on Echo devices. Customers will be able to ask Alexa to play their favorite songs, artists, and albums — or any of the playlists made by Apple Music’s editors from around the world, covering many activities and moods. […] Simply enable the Apple Music skill in the Alexa app and link your account to start listening.
I’m more excited about this than I thought I’d be.
Katie Notopoulos, writing for BuzzFeed News:
Amazon is cutting edge in so many ways — it magically drummed up a yearlong publicity cycle for an office opening in the two most obvious cities (New York and DC); it honed an expert precision tool for destroying brick-and-mortar retail businesses; it created a great place to work if you don’t mind peeing in bottles; it built a labor force of retirees living in RVs; it’s even a pioneer for shitting in people’s driveways. So many innovations.
And yet, somehow Amazon’s website, the place where it sells a gazillion things that make a gazillion dollars…sucks? The experience of shopping on the site itself fails in spectacularly stupid ways.
Amazon has announced “new release notifications.” Basically you can get notifications via your phone or on an Echo device when an artist you follow releases new music.
Bryan Menegus, writing for Gizmodo:
Amazon, the country’s second-largest employer, has so far remained immune to any attempts by U.S. workers to form a union. With rumblings of employee organization at Whole Foods—which Amazon bought for $13.7 billion last year—a 45-minute union-busting training video produced by the company was sent to Team Leaders of the grocery chain last week, according to sources with knowledge of the store’s activities. Recordings of that video, obtained by Gizmodo, provide valuable insight into the company’s thinking and tactics.
Marketing materials and documents obtained by ACLU affiliates in three states reveal a product that can be readily used to violate civil liberties and civil rights. Powered by artificial intelligence, Rekognition can identify, track, and analyze people in real time and recognize up to 100 people in a single image. It can quickly scan information it collects against databases featuring tens of millions of faces, according to Amazon.
Amazon is marketing Rekognition for government surveillance. According to its marketing materials, it views deployment by law enforcement agencies as a “common use case” for this technology. Among other features, the company’s materials describe “person tracking” as an “easy and accurate” way to investigate and monitor people. Amazon says Rekognition can be used to identify “people of interest” raising the possibility that those labeled suspicious by governments — such as undocumented immigrants or Black activists — will be seen as fair game for Rekognition surveillance. It also says Rekognition can monitor “all faces in group photos, crowded events, and public places such as airports” — at a time when Americans are joining public protests at unprecedented levels.