Get a Qube2 portable Bluetooth speaker for $55.99

I'm on a family vacation this week, enjoying a much-needed respite from the horrors (horrors, I say!) of this year's winter. Although we all packed headphones for use with our phones and tablets, I wanted a speaker so we could jam together to Pharrell Williams' can't-not-dance-to-it "Happy."

I had several portable-speaker options to choose from, but I like to travel as light as humanly possible. So I packed the impossibly compact new Matrix Audio Qube2, which sounds way louder -- and better -- than any speaker of its size has any right to.

Alas, it'… Read more

Poll: Live vs. recorded music -- what's better?

I admit it: most of the time, I'd much rather listen to recorded music than live music. I've seen my share of great shows: the Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden, the Pixies at the Beacon Theater, Ray Charles at the Blue Note, the Philip Glass Group at Lincoln Center, Laurie Anderson at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, to name a few. But most live shows aren't worth the ticket price: they're way too loud, too crowded, too hot, too cold, or too something-or-other. The night I saw Led Zeppelin the sound was awful, and when … Read more

Save Google Play Music radio on Android for offline listening

Google Play Music's premium All Access service includes custom radio stations, which can be accessed from the Web, iOS devices, and Android smartphones and tablets. The latest update to the Google Play Music Android app included some new features, like device management and offline listening of custom radio stations.

Offline music is helpful when an Internet connection is unavailable, such as when you're on a plane or in a remote locale. And if you don't keep your Android device loaded up with your own music, downloading some of your custom radio stations is one way to keep … Read more

YouTube now shows full albums when you search by artist

Search for your favorite singer or band on YouTube, and you'll now see their top tracks, full albums, and related artists neatly grouped and ready for your listening and viewing pleasure.

A new feature to the popular video-viewing site displays a sidebar on the right with links to top tracks and albums from the subject of your search. Search for Kelly Clarkson, for example, and YouTube displays her top ten tracks and her albums from latest to earliest. Click on any track, and YouTube plays the associated music video. Click on an album, and YouTube loads a playlist of … Read more

How to deauthorize Google Play Music devices

Google allows you to use the Google Play Music service on up to 10 different devices with your account. If you've reached your device limit and want to add a new device, you'll need to deauthorize an old one before being allowed to add another device.

There are two ways to deauthorize devices from your account: using a Web browser or through the Google Play Music Android app. The device management feature was just added to the Android app this week, so we'll start there.

Deauthorize from Android From your Google Play Music Android app, go to … Read more

Is surround sound for music and home theater on its way out?

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, surround-sound music looked like the next big thing, but in the intervening decade and a half, precious little rock, jazz, or world music has been recorded in surround. True, in the early days of SACD and DVD-Audio formats there were hundreds of remixes of older stereo recordings, and some were recycled on Blu-ray, but the number of newly recorded 5.1 titles remains paltry. Looking back, the early 2000s should have been an ideal time to launch surround music; multichannel home theater was peaking, so there was a large number of households … Read more

Jac Holzman: From vinyl to apps to what comes next (Q&A)

Jac Holzman is legit.

His track record in the music industry stretches back nearly 65 years -- that's the lifespan of about 12 iTunes -- to when he founded Elektra Records out of his college dorm room in 1950. He went on to sign acts like the Doors, Carly Simon, and the Stooges, but don't mistake him as a label exec lost in a bygone era.

As waves of technological change have washed over the music industry, Holzman worked to stay ahead of the break, testing how the conjoined worlds of music and technology could enhance each other. … Read more

CEO: Rdio's problem? Not enough people use Rdio (Q&A)

If you build it, they will come? Rdio's new Chief Executive Anthony Bay believes so.

Rdio, one of a myriad of streaming music services, launched four years ago by the billionaire founders of Skype and Kazaa. It's a subscription service with a catalog of millions of songs available on demand, and gets widespread kudos for its design and offline listening. But it has remained a relatively small player while Pandora grew into a colossus and Spotify jumped the pond to quickly outstrip Rdio in scope.

Bay has plans that prep Rdio for a future as a much bigger … Read more

Quick tip: Listen to the Google Sound Search history playlist

When you hear a song on the radio, or during a TV show, movie, or anywhere else, using the Google Sound Search widget is a quick way to identify it. Just tap the widget and it will start listening to the music. Once identified, you can find out more information.

The Sound Search widget also keeps a convenient history list of any tracks you've identified. To access it, just tap icon on the widget.

With the current Web version of Google Play Music, you would need to look up each track and add it to a playlist, since there'… Read more

Spotify vs. Beats: The super cool battles the Super Bowl

Beats Music and Spotify have very different ideas of what marketing means: It's all, or basically nothing. Respectively.

If you've never heard of either, you're easily forgiven. Beats Music and Spotify are both streaming music services that, unlike Internet radio Pandora, offer the ability to listen to a specific track on demand, and both can be accessed anywhere without commercials for about $10 a month. But Spotify barely ever advertises in the US, relying instead on word of mouth, and Beats Music has yet to hit the two-week mark of being up and running (well, most of the time.) … Read more