TIDAL Has Unveiled New Membership Options

Tidal

Tidal:

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

Apps

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.” 

Tumblr Introduces Paid Subscription Tool to Woo Younger Bloggers

Katie Deighton, writing for the Wall Street Journal:

Microblogging stalwart Tumblr on Wednesday began a test letting some users charge their followers a monthly fee in exchange for access to exclusive content.

The blogging site, which Verizon Communications Inc. sold to WordPress.com owner Automattic Inc. in 2019 for far less than the $1.1 billion it paid for it, said it hopes to make the option to charge for posts widely available this fall.

The feature, called Post+, offers content creators a choice of three monthly prices to charge their followers—$3.99, $5.99 or $9.99—with Tumblr taking a 5% cut of subscription fees. Users can continue to post free content as well if they want.

Tumblr is still around?

A Cool Now Playing Widget for Your Desktop

Apps

Beautiful Pixels:

Sleeve is a beautifully crafted app for macOS that displays your currently playing track as a tiny widget on your Desktop. Made by Hector Simpson and Alasdair Monk from Replay, it works with Apple Music or Spotify and comfortably lives on your desktop without getting in your way. We’ve only been playing around with it for a day, but can confidently say that Sleeve is the ultimate example of a really polished and delightful app.

Sleeve shows the album artwork, track name, artist name, and album name on the Desktop. It’s not an interactive widget, so you can’t control playback using Sleeve (not that we want to). It works natively with the Apple Music and Spotify apps and doesn’t require your account details.

Sleeve is $5 and available here.

Facebook Bans Honest Signal Ads on Instagram

Facebook

Shoshana Wodinsky, writing at Gizmodo:

A series of Instagram ads run by the privacy-positive platform Signal got the messaging app booted from the former’s ad platform, according to a blog post Signal published on Tuesday. The ads were meant to show users the bevy of data that Instagram and its parent company Facebook collects on users, by… targeting those users using Instagram’s own adtech tools. 

The actual idea behind the ad campaign is pretty simple. Because Instagram and Facebook share the same ad platform, any data that gets hoovered up while you’re scrolling your Insta or Facebook feeds gets fed into the same cesspool of data, which can be used to target you on either platform later.

iOS 14.5 Releases

Apple

iOS 14.5 has been released and MacStories has a good overview:

Apple today released version 14.5 of iOS and iPadOS, a substantial update to the operating system for iPhone and iPad that debuted in September and introduced features such as Home Screen widgets, multi-column app layouts on iPadcompact UI, a redesigned Music app, and more.

Version 14.5 is the biggest – or, at the very least, most interesting – update to iOS and iPadOS we’ve seen in the 14.0 release cycle to date. That’s not to say previous iterations of iOS and iPadOS 14 were low on new features and refinements – it’s quite the opposite, in fact. Perhaps the pandemic and Apple’s work-from-home setup played a role in the company spreading new iOS functionalities across multiple releases throughout 2020 and the first half of 2021, but, regardless of the underlying reason, iOS and iPadOS 14 have evolved considerably since their public launch six months ago.

Watch unlock for the phone has been 👌.

Streaming Music Payouts

This breakdown from Nick Heer about music streaming payouts touched on a point I think about often:

I get millions of songs for my $10 per month. In about the same timeframe in 2009, I also added Burial’s “Untrue” to my library. I have played the thirteen songs on that album 684 times in total, leading to an estimated payout of $6.84. My CD copy of that album probably cost $15, of which William Bevan probably earned just a few pennies. Apple Music obviously has not existed since 2009 but, if it had, I cannot work out how much less artists would have made if I had streamed all of my music instead of buying physical copies.

Somehow, we are still paying just $10 per month for music in an era where streaming must be paired with live performance to have any hope of generating an income for an artist, all the while fighting the paradox of streaming music, and artists are still getting screwed in the middle of all of it. There would not be a music industry without music, but the industry gets all of the money while musicians still have to fight for scraps.

They Hacked McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines

McDonalds

Andy Greenburg, writing at Wired:

Of all the mysteries and injustices of the McDonald’s ice cream machine, the one that Jeremy O’Sullivan insists you understand first is its secret passcode. 

Press the cone icon on the screen of the Taylor C602 digital ice cream machine, he explains, then tap the buttons that show a snowflake and a milkshake to set the digits on the screen to 5, then 2, then 3, then 1. After that precise series of no fewer than 16 button presses, a menu magically unlocks. Only with this cheat code can you access the machine’s vital signs: everything from the viscosity setting for its milk and sugar ingredients to the temperature of the glycol flowing through its heating element to the meanings of its many sphinxlike error messages.

“No one at McDonald’s or Taylor will explain why there’s a secret, undisclosed menu,” O’Sullivan wrote in one of the first, cryptic text messages I received from him earlier this year.

Wild story.

MacStories Reviews Albums 4.0

Apps

John Voorhees, reviews the new version of Albums 4.0 at MacStories:

Albums 4.0 is a beautifully designed, feature-rich app with more filtering and discovery tools than any other music app I’ve tried. The app is also opinionated, favoring album playback over individual songs or playlists. It’s the sort of focused, deep approach to music that Apple’s Music app doesn’t offer because it’s designed to appeal to a wider audience.

If you’re an albums-first music fan, you’ll love Albums. However, even if you prefer singles, playlists, and jumping around the Apple Music catalog as I do, Albums is worth checking out. The app’s powerful filtering opens up brand new ways to enjoy your music collection that any music fan can appreciate.

How Pandora Won Its Royalty Battle But Lost the War to Spotify

Pandora

 Tyler Hayes, writing for Vice:

For a few years in the late 2000s, Pandora was the on-demand DJ for tens of millions of people, creating the soundtrack to college dorm room parties, quiet coffee shops, busy kitchens, and family get-togethers. The days of building massive MP3 music collections through file-sharing was receding quickly into the past, and instead the shared experience of radio was making a comeback via the clever algorithmic matchmaking of Pandora’s endlessly customizable stations based on individual taste. Today it’s a feature we take for granted across every music service, even if Pandora’s implementation still seems like it was the best. Pandora itself, however, can feel like an afterthought. Betamax to Spotify’s VHS, or maybe more accurately, MySpace to on-demand streaming’s Facebook.

Turntable.fm Is Back From the Dead

Mitchell Clark, writing at The Verge:

It’s rare that apps come back from the dead, but it seems like that may be what’s happening with Turntable.fm, a site that let users create their own radio stations and DJ sets with music they curated before it got shuttered in 2013. Even rarer, it seems like there are two versions involved in the revival: the original Turntable.fm site is back up and running (with the involvement of its original founder, Billy Chasen), but there’s also Turntable.org, which will reportedly be launching in beta this April.

Soor Offers Customizable Widgets for Apple Music

iPhone

MacStories details the third party Apple Music app, Soor, and their customizable home screen widgets for iOS 14:

Soor’s Now Playing widget is a much nicer way to find out what you’re listening to. Sticking a small widget on your Home screen or in your Today view will not only display the name of the currently playing song, but also provide artwork and let you know what music is coming up next. 

Shazam Getting Control Center Button

iPhone

Jay Peters, writing for The Verge:

Apple bought music recognition app Shazam in 2018, and now it’s integrating it into iOS in another big way — a new Music Recognition feature can identify songs playing around you as well as in apps on your phone. And it even works when you’re listening to music on your headphones.

The new feature is available as a toggle in Control Center, but it does require a developer beta of iOS 14.2 if you want to try it right now.

I use Shazam very frequently, often when watching a TV show or movie. On iOS 14 you can assign “back taps” to a Shortcut, so I assigned a double tap on the back of the phone to a Shazam Shortcut that listens and identifies the song.

Amazon Music Gets Podcasts

amazon

The Verge:

Amazon Music now offers podcasts. The company issued an update today that brings more than 70,000 shows to the platform, including some major titles, like Serial and Pod Save America, as well as new exclusive deals like a show with DJ Khaled called The First One, where he’ll interview artists about their breakthrough hits and the stories behind them. Disgraceland, a popular show from iHeartMedia, will also become exclusive to the platform starting in February 2021.