Music News

Will iTunes kill the CD?

We're getting close to the day when a major artist or group releases a download-only album. Maybe it'll be the next Rolling Stones or Sufjan Stevens album. That'll be a dark day.

Just last week, I went to my local record store to pick up "Hemispheres," the new release of Bill Frisell and Jim Hall, a jazz guitar duo. I left the store empty-handed.

Next, I checked on Amazon.com. It stocked the album in MP3 format only. Great, but I refuse to pay $17.98 for a crappy-sounding MP3.

Next, I checked the record … Read more

CNET Download Music will redirect to Last.fm

Dear friends and fans of CNET Download Music,

We have some important news to share. On Wednesday, March 11, 2009, the CNET Download Music site will begin redirecting all artist pages and category doors to corresponding pages on our sister music site Last.fm.

We're extremely proud of our close association with Last.fm because, like CNET Download Music, the site shares the same spirit of independence and discovery--not to mention ease of use and a large song catalog--that we find so vital to a satisfying online music experience. … Read more

Universal, YouTube near deal on music video site

Universal Music Group, the nation's largest recording company, and YouTube are closing in on a final agreement to create a new premium music video Web site, according to sources close to the negotiations.

The sources said that the proposed service, which is tentatively named Vevo, would be a destination site closely linked to YouTube. Should an agreement be reached, Vevo would likely be the largest music-oriented site on the Web. Talks are ongoing, but a deal could be reached as early as the next few weeks, sources said.

A YouTube spokesman said: "We are always working with our … Read more

Neil Young: YouTube must respect artists

Update 9:20 p.m. PT: To include YouTube's response.

Neil Young wants to remind YouTube that Rockin' in the Free World isn't free.

The iconic musician, whose hits include "Harvest Moon," "Cinnamon Girl," and "Rockin' in the Free World," says in a blog post that YouTube doesn't fairly compensate acts represented by Warner Music Group.

Young is referring to the spat that erupted in January between Warner Music and YouTube. The two companies couldn't come to terms on a new licensing agreement and Warner Music's content was pulled … Read more

Mufin Player organizes songs by sound

Earlier on Friday, Mufin launched its music player, which analyzes the songs in your music collection based on their audio content, rather than on human analysis or genre.

Human analysis, naturally, is subjective, and genre labeling is totally arbitrary and unreliable--I particularly hate the meaningless label "Alternative," which can apply to everything from dead-slow acoustic to fast punk; it's more about the hairstyles of the artists than the content of the music.

Once Mufin has analyzed your tunes, it can recommend similar-sounding songs from your collection. It also catalogs songs in its online database and can recommend … Read more

Bandloop vs. JamBase for online show tracking

I've often praised JamBase, which lists tens of thousands of shows across the United States. If you want to know who's coming to town or who's playing tonight, it's infinitely more convenient than scanning the listings in your local paper.

Now it looks as if JamBase has some strong competition in the form of Bandloop. It's hard to improve upon JamBase's near-perfection, so Bandloop works in basically the same way, with a few improvements here and there.

Artists and fans populate the show database, which keeps it up-to-date--the site has more than 50,000 … Read more

Blu-spec: Sony's latest CD format

If CDs really are on their way out, Sony is ready with their replacement: Blu-spec CDs.

Although details about the new format, launched in Japan in November, are somewhat scant, we do know that users won't need a new player for Blu-spec CDs.

"The Blu-spec CD format boasts a new approach to the faithful reproduction of music by utilizing the leading-edge blue laser diode technologies optimized for the manufacturing of Blu-ray," according to CDJapan. The new discs' polycarbonate plastic, optimized for Blu-ray discs, is used "to ensure accurate reading of the data."

Sony doesn't … Read more

Radiohead, Beck, White Stripes live on DVD

I was never much of a fan of music videos or MTV. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to watch a band act out a silly story or lip-sync to a make-believe "performance." Why not just shoot the band playing for real in a studio?

The geniuses at IFC have done just that with Nigel Godrich's "From the Basement" series, which is now coming to DVD. There's an amazing roster of talent to see and hear.

High points include the White Stripes. Jack's wailing vocal acrobatics and scorching guitar riffs bouncing … Read more

New U2 album makes early debut on P2P networks

Updated February 20 at 10 a.m. PST with alleged source of leak.

Despite extreme measures to prevent U2's new album from appearing prematurely on the Internet, copies of the band's "No Line on the Horizon" have begun circulating on file-swapping networks--a full week before its official release.

CD-quality copies of the band's 12th album, which is slated for release in Ireland on February 27 and worldwide on March 3, started appearing Wednesday on BitTorrent and now reportedly number in the hundreds of thousands. Copies were also found circulating on LimeWire.

The tracks began spreading … Read more

Selling songs as iPhone apps

Eliot Van Buskirk over at Wired has an interesting post today about Seattle band Presidents of the United States of America.

In addition to selling its songs on iTunes in the normal fashion, PUSA has just released a $2.99 application for the iPhone and iPod Touch that will let you stream songs from four albums (the ones whose rights are owned by the band), plus assorted other flotsam (live tracks, demos, whatever).

The application was built by Melodeo, whose vice president of business development is none other than PUSA's Dave Dederer.

The songs are streamed, not downloaded, which … Read more