Spotify HiFi Was Announced Two Years Ago — Where Is It?

Chris Welch, writing for The Verge:

At this point, it’s fair to assume that something went wrong with Spotify HiFi. Two years ago today, during the company’s Stream On event, Spotify announced a new streaming tier that would let customers enjoy lossless, CD-quality audio from the leading subscription music service. 

Spotify felt the news was worthy of some star power and filmed a promotional video for HiFi with Billie Eilish and Finneas. It remains on the company’s YouTube page, and you can still read the blog post saying upgraded sound would arrive “later this year” — meaning by the end of 2021.

Universal Music in Talks With Big Platforms to Overhaul Streaming Model

Financial Times:

Universal Music Group is in talks with big streaming platforms to overhaul the industry’s economics and direct more money towards artists, according to people familiar with the matter. The shake-up, which stands to revolutionise the way musicians make money, comes as the world’s largest music company is increasingly concerned about the proliferation of songs on platforms such as Spotify, where 100,000 new tracks are being added each day.

The industry is also contending with growing manipulation of the system, including using bots to inflate listening figures and the uploading of 31-second clips that are just long enough to qualify as a “play”.

Inside Twitter’s Dumpster Fire


The Verge with a behind-the-scenes look at Twitter’s collapse:

It’s an open secret that many employees who remain at Musk’s “hardcore” Twitter are actively looking for other jobs. Even the most publicly cheerful Twitter workers can’t fully mask the despair. On December 29, one tweeted a selfie, smiling in front of an empty office, with the hashtags #solowork, #productivity, and #findingperspective.

Musk himself is starting to appear defeated. Tesla shares started 2022 trading at nearly $400. By September, Tesla’s stock price had dropped by 25 percent. It plummeted again after Musk bought Twitter and ended the year at $123. Investors are begging Musk to step away; Tesla employees are too. 

A real shame.

iTunes for Windows Being Replaced

Andrew Cunningham, writing at Ars:

Today, as part of a new Windows 11 preview build for Windows Insiders, Microsoft has announced that previews of new Apple MusicApple TV, and Apple Devices apps are available in the Microsoft Store for download.

The Apple Music and Apple TV apps handle iTunes’ music and video functionality, just as they do on macOS, and provide access to the Apple Music and Apple TV+ subscription services. The Apple Devices app is what you’ll use to make local device backups, perform emergency software updates, sync local media, and the other things you can do with an iDevice that’s plugged into your PC (in macOS, similar functionality was added to the Finder, rather than being broken out into its own app).

TikTok Is Launching Careers for Tomorrow’s Music Executives

Kristin Robinson, writing at Billboard:

To William Gruger, global music programs for TikTok, these kinds of music curators are already this generation’s “new media personalities,” pointing out the similarities in cultural taste making between these creators on TikTok and VJs at the height of MTV’s reign.

Within a year of posting as Mostley Music, Motley found himself suddenly able to break into the industry which felt impenetrable to him just months earlier. Atlantic and Interscope/ Darkroom offered him A&R consultant gigs and Spotify tapped him as co-host of their Spotify Live show Lorem Life. And just a few months ago, Motley co-founded a label of his own. Called Music Soup, the record label provides expertise in digital marketing and was the first to use TikTok Sound On as a distributor. Motley says if it hadn’t been for building out Mostley Music during quarantine, he’d probably be working his way up slowly in the ranks from the assistant level of a record label – not founding his own at age 24.

Us silly bloggers are so behind the times it’s not even funny.

Libraries Are Launching Their Own Local Music Streaming Platforms

Claire Woodcock, writing at VICE:

Over a dozen public libraries in the U.S. and Canada have begun offering their own music streaming services to patrons, with the goal of boosting artists and local music scenes. The services are region-specific, and offer local artists non-exclusive licenses to make their albums available to the community.

The concept originated in 2014 when Preston Austin and Kelly Hiser helped the Madison Public Library build the Yahara Music Library, an online library hosting music from local artists. By the time they completed their work on Yahara, they were confident they had a software prototype that other interested libraries could customize and deploy.

“That became kind of the inspiration for building MUSICat,” Austin told Motherboard, referring to the software platform he and Hiser created under a startup called Rabble.

Amazon Music Comes to Prime for Free


The Verge:

Steve Boom is the VP of Amazon Music, and he has a great name for the music business. He’s on the show because Amazon just announced that it is upgrading the music service that Prime members get as part of their subscription. Starting today, one of the benefits for Amazon Prime members is that you now get access to the entire Amazon Music catalog, about 100 million songs, to play in shuffle mode. That service used to only contain 2 million songs.

The Future of AI Music Generation


TechCrunch looks at Dance Diffusion, an AI music generator:

The emergence of Dance Diffusion comes several years after OpenAI, the San Francisco-based lab behind DALL-E 2, detailed its grand experiment with music generation, dubbed Jukebox. Given a genre, artist and a snippet of lyrics, Jukebox could generate relatively coherent music complete with vocals. But the songs Jukebox produced lacked larger musical structures like choruses that repeat and often contained nonsense lyrics.

Google’s AudioLM, detailed for the first time earlier this week, shows more promise, with an uncanny ability to generate piano music given a short snippet of playing. But it hasn’t been open sourced.

Dance Diffusion aims to overcome the limitations of previous open source tools by borrowing technology from image generators such as Stable Diffusion. The system is what’s known as a diffusion model, which generates new data (e.g., songs) by learning how to destroy and recover many existing samples of data. As it’s fed the existing samples — say, the entire Smashing Pumpkins discography — the model gets better at recovering all the data it had previously destroyed to create new works.

It’s Time to Bring Back the AIM Away Message

Lauren Goode, writing for Wired:

Sometimes you had to step away. So you threw up an Away Message: I’m not here. I’m in class/at the game/my dad needs to use the comp. I’ve left you with an emo quote that demonstrates how deep I am. Or, here’s a song lyric that signals I am so over you. Never mind that my Away Message is aimed at you.

I miss Away Messages. This nostalgia is layered in abstraction; I probably miss the newness of the internet of the 1990s, and I also miss just being … away. But this is about Away Messages themselves—the bits of code that constructed Maginot Lines around our availability. An Away Message was a text box full of possibilities, a mini-MySpace profile or a Facebook status update years before either existed. It was also a boundary: An Away Message not only popped up as a response after someone IM’d you, it was wholly visible to that person before they IM’d you.

Spotify Tests Letting Artists Promote NFTs on Their Profiles

Stuart Dredge, writing for Music Ally:

Artists can already promote merch and tickets on their Spotify profiles. Now the streaming service is testing a feature that will let them also promote their NFTs.

Steve Aoki and The Wombats appear to be two of the artists taking part in the test, both of whom have been among the early adopters of NFTs. The test is currently running for ‘select’ users of Spotify’s Android app in the US, who will be able to preview NFTs on the artists’ profile pages. They will then be able to tap through to view and buy them from external marketplaces.


TIDAL Has Unveiled New Membership Options



TIDAL now offers three membership options for you to choose from: TIDAL FreeTIDAL HiFi, and TIDAL HiFi Plus. With access to the same catalog of over 80 million songs, each membership has its own set of perks to empower your music experience.

And, one of the more interesting portions:

Not only does TIDAL HiFi Plus offer access to innovative listening experiences, but through the Direct Artist Payout program, it also allocates up to 10% of your monthly subscription towards your most-streamed artist. This means that your top-streamed artist of the month can benefit immediately and directly from the success of their work on TIDAL

Spotify Partners With Shopify

Todd Spangler, writing for Variety:

Spotify on Wednesday announced a new partnership with ecommerce provider Shopify to let artists list merchandise directly on their profiles on the audio-streaming giant’s platform.

Any artist globally can already link to their Shopify store if they have one from their Spotify profile. But now Spotify users will see featured product listings from Shopify on the service; during the initial beta period, Shopify merchandise will only be visible to Spotify listeners in five countries: the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.

To set up their virtual merch tables, Spotify artists must have a Shopify account. Shopify’s pricing plans range from $29/month for a basic ecommerce package up to $299/month for an “advanced” tier that includes enhanced reporting. Shopify is offering a 90-day free trial to all Spotify artists signing up for the first time.

Albums 4.2 Released


Albums, an iOS app we’ve written about before, got a new release:

You can now subscribe to Record Labels in the Release Feed and load their discographies from their collection pages. Not just the few hundred labels Apple supports in the Apple Music API, mind you, but all the labels your little heart desires.

There is a certain genre of feature that I tell my wife about and she says “you know you are the only person who cares about that, right?” And I say “you may bag me up and put me out with the trash on the day that I release a new version of Albums where I didn’t spend a week going down a rabbit hole working on something you will correctly tell me only I care about.”