music

iHeartRadio opens up its playlists to all users with launch of Playlist Radio

iHeartRadio is best known for its free service offering thousands of live, streaming AM and FM radio stations and its ability to create your own custom station, similar to Pandora. Today, the company is adding a new feature for all users – both free and paid – that blurs the lines between streaming radio and the typically premium-only option of using playlists: Playlist Radio. Like most playlists, Playlist Radio isn’t a random assortment of songs. Instead, the songs it plays are curated and programmed by radio DJs and other iHeartRadio staff. That means there isn’t an algorithm deciding what to play next – you’re listening to a selection of songs an actual person has put together. However, because it’s still “radio” you can’t do some of the things you could with the premium product’s playl...

Alexa’s routines can now play music, podcasts and radio shows

Alexa’s routines are getting a musical upgrade. First launched last year, routines allow Alexa device owners to string together a series of actions that kick off with a simple command — like “good morning” or “I’m home,” for example. Until today, the feature included support for news, weather, traffic, smart home skills, as well as, more recently, a set of “Alexa says” commands that let you add a little personality to a given routine. Starting today, Alexa can play your favorite music, podcast or radio show in a routine, too. To use the feature, you’ll select an artist, playlist, album or station from your music library or one of the supported streaming services. Currently, the supported services are those that already work with Alexa — Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Saavn, D...

Hip hop finds its beat in the startup scene

Joanna Glasner Contributor More posts by this contributor What does it take to be a startup that raises huge sums quickly? Not a minimalist? Startups will gladly store, manage and deliver your items Hip hop stars are taking their reputations to Wall Street and Sand Hill road. Unlike their rock star brethren, who’ve historically been disinterested in dabbling with startups, quite a few hip hop artists have amassed good-sized portfolios. They’ve seen a few big hits too, most recently including a massive up round for zero-commission stock trading platform Robinhood, which counted Jay-Z, Nas and Snoop Dogg among its earlier backers. But just how deep does the hip hop-startup relationship go and where is it headed? To shed some light on that question, we put together a review of Crunchbase data...

Watch Alexa rap with Too Many T’s in this interactive music video

Alexa can already sing and rap, but now she’s the star of a new music video by the English rap duo Too Many T’s. The London-based rappers this week released an interactive video that lets Alexa sing along by triggering with voice commands, then pausing while she answers. The result is essentially a duet between Alexa and Too Many T’s that you can listen to at home using your own Alexa device, when played within earshot of your sound system’s speakers or some other source of audio. In the video below, Too Many T’s explain how the interactive experience works and demo it with an Echo Dot. If you don’t have an Echo device of your own, this would be the one to watch: [embedded content] However, if you do have an Echo or some other Alexa-powered speaker, you’ll want to play the “Home” version o...

This MIDI-powered robotic music box is the good news I needed this week

It’s been a bit of a tumultuous week, to put it lightly, but one must always remember that no matter how dire things look on the global stage, there are always makers working obsessively to create something beautiful and useless — like this MIDI-driven, robotic music box. Tinkerer and music box aficionado Mitxela (via Hackaday) was pleased by this music box that takes punch cards or rolls as input, rather than having a metal drum with the notes sticking out of it. But who wants to punch cards all day to make a music box go? These things are supposed to be simple! Mitxela first made a script that takes a MIDI file and outputs an image compatible with his laser cutter, allowing cards or paper strips to be created more or less automatically. But then there’s the question of wear and tear, sto...

I can dance to become Nigeria’s first female President – Chilly B

By Ayo Onikoyi Rap artiste, known as Chilly B, born Chichi Amadi Moses is fast winning many hearts, at least, of those who love rap music, spruced with some electrifying sensual dance steps. In a chat with Potpourri, the curvy rap queen, as she describes herself, declares that she could be the first female President of Nigeria if dance were one of the criteria for picking a President. Chilly B “ I’m not trying to flatter myself or anyone but I am an extremely good dancer,” she declares with a sense of pride. “Talk of any kind of dance, belly dance, hip hop or what have you, I am very good. If dancing is one of the criteria used in picking Nigeria’s Presidents, I would have become the first female President of Nigeria. I have been able to rise to prominence basically be...

When venture capital becomes vanity capital

I’ve written a lot about the benefits of efficient entrepreneurship. I’ve explained my view conceptually, tried to illustrate the mechanics of how excess capital kills promising companies, and shared data from 71 IPOs that demonstrates that even in success, more capital raised is not correlated with better outcomes. Just in case all of that was too conceptual, this blog post is designed to appeal to another emotion—greed. Raising less money or money later doesn’t just lead to better companies, it leads to richer founders. Would You Rather Be the Founder of Zappos or Wayfair? I regularly ask MBA students at Harvard Business School, by a show of hands, would they have rather founded Zappos or Wayfair? All of the students know Zappos as a success story. Many haven’t even heard of Wayfair. Nin...

Fret Zealot adds lights and learning to your guitar

I’ve been messing around with LED-embedded guitars since the original GTar. Designed to help beginners learn and players look like all supersonic freakadelic on stage, they have quickly become commonplace if expensive. Now Fret Zealot has something that can turn your guitar into a laser light show in a few minutes. Designed as an $199 add-on to any acoustic or electric guitar, this kit sticks right onto your fretboard and connects to a small wireless box that receives signals from your phone. The app is straightforward. You can play various songs included in the system and it lights up the associated frets. You can slow down playback so you can practice each lick methodically and it also helps you learn chords and scales. There are also light show features that make you fretboard glow like...

Google’s Song Maker experiment makes making songs easy

Google has added a new instrument to its Chrome Music Lab: Song Maker. As the name implies, Song Maker is all about making songs. It’s essentially an easy to use sequencer that lets you draw melodies in the browser (though it doesn’t feature some of the automation in the Music Lab’s Melody Maker tool). It’s no FL Studio, but it’s fun and you get to choose between a few instruments like a piano, strings, woodwinds, a synth and a marimba. There’s also a small rhythm section that lets you add drums to your songs. Some of the more nifty features include the ability to attach a Midi keyboard to your computer to play the instruments and a recording feature that will translate your singing into notes. Google says it’s launching Song Maker in concert with Music in Our Schools Month, an initiative ...

Pandora’s improving financials help it recover from a bad day

Pandora tumbled almost 9% on the stock market Wednesday. And then it bounced back over 6% after the day ended. The music streaming business, which has had a terrible past year on the stock market, surprised investors when it revealed a 63% rise in subscription revenue, totaling $97.7 million. Subscribers also jumped 25%, to 5.48 million. Overall revenue was $395 million, beating Wall Street’s expectation of $376 million. Earnings per share missed, however. The company reported a loss of 21 cents per share, whereas analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were predicting a loss of no more than 7 cents per share. “Digital audio is on the verge of massive growth – music consumption is increasing, podcasts are gaining popularity and voice-activated devices are quickly becoming mainstream. Just like ...

Facebook inks music licensing deal with ICE covering 160 territories, 290K rightsholders on FB, Insta, Oculus and Messenger

Facebook today took its latest step towards making good on paying out royalties to music rightsholders around tracks that are used across its multiple platforms and networks. The company has signed a deal with ICE Services — a licensing group and copyright database of some 31 million works that represents PRS in the UK, STIM in Sweden and GEMA in Germany — to provide music licensing and royalty collection for works and artists represented by the group, when their music is used on Facebook, Instagram, Oculus and Messenger. WhatsApp is not included because “We understand that WhatsApp is currently used as a pure communication tool akin to private email / messaging,” a spokesperson for ICE told TechCrunch. “This will be kept under review.” The deal is significant because, as ICE describes it,...

Love Nerd-Culture and Geek Music? This Nerd Cruise Takes Those Things Out to Sea

Cruises aren’t for everybody, unless you happen to love gaining 20 pounds, getting drunk every minute of the day, and possibly becoming violently ill. Some basement-dwellers would rather stay home where they can play Dungeons & Dragons without showing their face out in public and being ridiculed. Being on a ship where you can’t go anywhere if you’re not quite into the whole “being in public” thing doesn’t really sound like fun for them. If you’re anything like this, however, then we may have found the perfect cruise for you. The JoCo Cruise runs annually and aims to cater to the, well, nerds. The cruise was started in 2011 by singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton (hence the name JoCo) along with geek-music-comedy duo Paul & Storm. The first cruise contained only 375 people, mostly sub...

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