Entries in Music (11)


Report: Apple Streaming Music Service Set to Launch

Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Apple seems to be getting closer to giving the streaming music services like Spotify, Rdio and Pandora, a run for their money.

According to The New York Times, Apple is pushing ahead with licensing deals with music companies so it can introduce its free streaming music and radio service at its Worldwide Developers Conference next week. Over the weekend, say the Times’ sources, Apple signed a deal with Warner Music Group. According to The Verge, Apple has already locked a deal with Universal Music. The company is still in talks with Sony Music.

The radio service is expected to have more in common with Pandora and Slacker than on-demand streaming services such as Spotify or Rdio. The radio service is expected to stream different music based on ones’ tastes and previous purchases. It is rumored to be free and supported by advertising.

Apple declined to comment on its streaming music plans when reached by ABC News.

Google announced its All Access Music streaming service at its developers conference in May. The service, which costs $9.99, allows users to listen to songs on demand through the web and Android apps. Google announced last week that it would release an iOS app very soon.

Apple’s iTunes music store recently celebrated 10 years in business. The rumored iRadio service, would reportedly drive users to buy and download more songs from the iTunes store. Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference begins next Monday, June 10 in San Francisco. There, Apple will preview the next version of its iOS and Mac OS X operating systems, Apple CEO Tim Cook said last week.

ABC News will be at the conference reporting live.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Google Doodle, a Music Synthesizer, Pays Tribute to Robert Moog

Google(NEW YORK) -- In celebration of Robert Moog, the musical innovator who would have turned 78 on Wednesday, Google has dedicated its Doodle to the inventor of the electronic Moog Synthesizer.

“The new Doodle really came out of the love for what Bob Moog did by creating the Moog synthesizer,” Ryan Germick, Google’s chief doodler (his real title!), told ABC News.

And the tribute comes in the form of a cool Internet musical instrument on Google’s homepage Wednesday. You’ll want to have the volume on your computer turned up. When you click the mini-synthesizer’s keys you’ll hear the sweet sounds of electronic tones. Even sweeter, you can tweak the oscillators and modulation.

“This is our most technically ambitious Doodle yet,” Germick said. The chief software engineer of the Moog Doodle, Joey Hurst, even designed it so you can use your keyboard and the number row to play the keys. You can record, play back, and share songs with a link or on Google+.

The Moog Doodle or the Sonic Doodler should be live all day on Google’s homepage (

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Converse Lures 'Rebel Consumer' with Musicians

Converse(NEW YORK) -- Converse sneakers are the shoes that have set the beat for several generations over. Rock stars from Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones to Nirvana and Justin Bieber have all rocked out in Chuck Taylors.

Made of canvas and rubber, the century-old American brand's shoes have epitomized countercultural cool for decades.

"They really haven't changed in 103 years. They're basically the same exact shoe," said Converse archivist Sam Smallidge.

Watch the full story on ABC's Nightline Wednesday at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT

First stitched outside of Boston in 1908, Converse was born as a basketball shoe, though it quickly outgrew its place in the sportswear market and the Chuck Taylor emerged as a piece of American pop culture.

Even in these tough economic times, sales have been on the rise.

"I think everybody on the earth, it seems like, has had a pair of these at one point in time," said Converse CEO and President Jim Calhoun.

However, in the last decade, Converse found itself struggling, filing for bankruptcy and failing to compete in a saturated sports market.

"I think we tried to go down a sports performance path when there were other brands, frankly, that were spending more money and were better at it than us," Calhoun said.

Ironically, it was Nike, one of the biggest sports performance companies in the world, that bought up and bailed out Converse. Calhoun said the company now sells about 200,000 pairs of Chuck Taylors each day around the world.

"That's the best-selling shoe of all time and continues to really be our iconic product," he said.

But the shoe that once boasted a "Made in the USA" stamp isn't made in America anymore. To cut costs, the company moved its U.S.-based plant overseas to countries like Vietnam and Indonesia, where reports of worker abuse surfaced last summer. Factory employees claimed their bosses slapped, kicked and verbally abused them. When asked about the reports, Calhoun called the incidents "unfortunate" and "unacceptable."

While Calhoun said the company has made progress on fixing the problem, Converse's critics say the company is still falling short in rectifying factory workers' complaints.

"We don't take a passive approach. We don't wait for the problems. We proactively monitor our factories," Calhoun said. "But I'd be less than sincere if I said no problem will ever happen again."

Despite the controversies and financial problems, the company is now betting its future on a return to its musical roots. Converse began inviting musicians, including Pharrell and most recently the Gorillaz, to cut original tracks to build social buzz around the brand. They've also built an empire on special shoe collaborations with U2's The Edge, Metallica and Lupe Fiasco. The goal is to win back that "rebel consumer" of hard-to-woo hipsters.

Converse also recently built a 5,200-square-foot state-of-the-art recording studio in Brooklyn called Rubber Tracks.

"The idea around the studio was to build a place to say thank you, thank you to all the artists who have done all this great work in our shoes over the years, and a way for us to give back to the community," said Converse Chief Marketing Officer Geoff Cottrill.

So far, 150 up-start acts, short on cash with big dreams, have been invited to record on Converse's dime.  The recording sessions are free for these garage bands and bedroom musicians, but the artists are invited to post their music on the Converse Facebook pages, which boast 47 million fans, making Converse one of the most significant apparel in social media.

"We're not measuring every single band that comes in here and how many shoes they're going to sell," Cottrill said. "We truly believe in the idea of doing good things for our consumers. Good things will happen to us in return."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Marshall Amp Inventor Jim Marshall Dead at 88

Joseph Branston/Guitarist magazine via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The creator of one of rock music's most iconic, fundamental tools has passed away.  Jim Marshall, inventor of the Marshall amplifier, has died at age 88.  

A statement posted on Marshall Amps' official website and a Facebook memorial page reads, in part, "It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved founder and leader for the past 50 years, Jim Marshall. … While the entire Marshall Amplification family mourns Jim's passing and will miss him tremendously, we all feel richer for having known him and are happy in the knowledge that he is now in a much better place which has just got a whole lot louder!"

London-born Marshall worked as a singer and drummer in his late teens, but it was his day job as an electrical engineer that enabled him to build a portable amplifier for use at his gigs.  He later used money earned from teaching other drummers -- said to include Mitch Mitchell from the Jimi Hendrix Experience -- to open a London-area music store.  Spurred in part by conversations with store patrons who included Pete Townshend of The Who and a pre-Deep Purple Ritchie Blackmore, Marshall returned his attention to his prototype amplifier, refining it and founding Marshall Amplification in 1962.

The Marshall amp has since become synonymous with rock music, and placed Marshall on even footing with the likes of solid body electric guitar inventor Les Paul as one of rock's greatest innovators, earning him the nickname 'The Father of Loud.'

There's no word on Marshall's official cause of death or when he died.   However, his Facebook memorial page shows a creation date of March 29.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Whitney Houston’s Death Spurs Skyrocketing Song Sales

Kevin Winter/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Sales of pop icon Whitney Houston’s records have soared since it was announced that the singer was found dead in a bathtub at Los Angeles’ Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Seven of Houston’s records are currently in the top 10 on’s best sellers in music list, and the legendary singer who died at the age of 48 was only edged out of the top spot by singer Adele, who took home six Grammy awards Sunday night. Houston’s compilation Whitney Houston – The Greatest Hits comes in at number two.

Fans instantly drove Houston to number one the iTunes charts as well, with her cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” shooting to the top of the site’s charts and becoming the number one download. Her 1980s classic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is also in the top 10, and a number of the singer’s other singles quickly re-entered the iTunes top 100.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers Bet Against the Euro

Metallica. Valerie Macon/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Fears about the euro’s instability are causing organizations to reassess their connections to Europe, even prompting bands Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to push their European tour dates earlier.

Cliff Burnstein, manager of both American bands, has pushed tours forward for both music groups abroad, as worries about the future of the euro spread.

Heavy metal band Metallica will present their “European Summer Vacation” tour which will include Germany, England and Austria next year, as opposed to playing in the continent in 2013 as originally planned to avoid potential difficulties when concert promoters pay the band in euros, Burnstein told the Wall Street Journal.

“Over the next few years, the dollar will be stronger and the euro weaker, and if that’s the case, I want to take advantage of that by playing more of these [European] shows now, because they will be more profitable for us,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Burnstein decides in which currency concert promoters should pay the band. Depending on the exchange rate, he can even purchase derivative financial instruments for a preferred rate.

Metallica, which formed in 1981, has won nine Grammy awards and two MTV music video awards for “Enter Sandman” and “Until it Sleeps.” Their ninth studio album, Lulu, featuring guitarist and vocalist Lou Reed of band The Velvet Underground, was released in October.

Rock-band the Red Hot Chili Peppers began touring in Asia, Europe and Latin America this summer and recently announced they will bring their I’m With You World Tour back to North America in January. About 75 percent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ revenue is from touring abroad, Burnstein told the Journal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Music Streaming Service Spotify Launches in US

Spotify(NEW YORK) -- Spotify, a Swedish online music-on-demand service, has an impressive group of followers, including Mark Zuckerberg and 10 million European subscribers.

For years, American tech aficionados have been clamoring for its arrival in the U.S., and on Thursday they got their wish.  Warner Music Group teamed up with Spotify to launch the site in the U.S., allowing its users to stream any music they want from its library of 15 million songs.

The site has a combination of services you can pay for in order to keep your music ad free. Free services -- which you need to be invited to -- are ad-supported.  Requesting the free service is as easy as entering your email address on their website.

So is Spotify the future of music?  It is being hailed as the 21st century solution to our music listening needs.  What is the big deal behind Spotify?

"Any song, any time, anywhere," said Joe Brown, editor-in-chief of tech blog Gizmodo.  "As lives are increasingly interconnected, it becomes more and more unrealistic to store your music on a specific device.  Spotify represents today's demands of music listening."

Available to all users, Spotify's catalog of 15 million songs is unmatched by the iTunes store's one million tracks and the libraries of any other music streaming service.

Additionally, if you want to listen to something that isn't in its catalog, you can seamlessly integrate your music on the local hard-drive to the Spotify library.  Essentially, it can replace your current existing music library such as iTunes.  Spotify allows its users to select what they want to listen to, whenever, beginning a song in 200 milliseconds.

Unlike some of its competitors, Spotify is an on-demand service.

But all good things come with a price.  Spotify users only have access to the "anywhere" feature that makes Spotify truly exceptional with a monthly subscription fee.

With the Unlimited package option, a user can not only access Spotify's extensive catalog on the go, but also cache songs on a mobile device without Internet.  Gizmodo's Brown clarifies that while other services such as Rdio offer that offline cache ability, Spotify one-ups them in speed and effectiveness.

Spotify's three service options are: Premium (unlimited web streaming with no advertisements; $4.99/mo), unlimited (Premium with mobile access and offline mode for playlists;$9.99) and free (ad-supported, free streaming on the web).

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Slacker Radio Launches On-Demand Service

Slacker, Inc.(NEW YORK) -- The online radio service Slacker entered the field of on-demand music and talk Tuesday with its launch of Slacker Premium Radio. The new service will charge users for unlimited access to the company's catalogue of 8 million songs and will cost $9.99 per month.

Slacker had previously offered two versions of its service: a free version that provides listeners limited access to streaming music and news radio, and Slacker Plus, a paid version that strips away advertisements and allows users to further customize their experience. Current subscribers will have to upgrade to get access to the "Premium" features.

The service is available on personal computers and many mobile devices.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Google Launches Beta Music Service

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) -- Google’s getting into music.

The search giant on Tuesday launched a beta version of a service that it says will allow users to “listen to your personal music collection on the Web or any compatible device.”

“Music Beta” is available to users free for a limited time at

The new service from Google comes on the heels of reports that Apple is planning a live music streaming service.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Symphonies Struggle for Survival

Comstock/Thinkstock(SYRACUSE, N.Y.) -- Start with the economy, mix in the American public's changing taste in music, overly large concert halls, and union-management struggles and you have the challenges of symphony orchestras around the country.

Most recently, the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra announced Tuesday they would be filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

In early February, the 50-year-old symphony serving central New York set a fundraising goal that, to management's delight, was surpassed by $100,000. But in early March, it came up just over $144,000 short in meeting another benchmark that would help ensure the continuation of operations.

"Certainly we were disappointed, but we're also encouraged by the fact that we're continuing to have a great deal of support from individuals and corporations and establishments that are interested in raising funds for us and assisting us in any way they can," interim executive director Paul Brooks told

Unfortunately for the Syracuse Symphony, they never reached that March goal, forcing the management to ask for $1.3 million in concessions from the symphony's musicians. The musicians made a counter offer of $915,000 that was not accepted and on March 28, the organization's board of trustees voted to suspend artistic operations, cutting short the organization's 50th anniversary season by 20 concerts.

Prior to closing, the organization has had several recent changes in management and seen its share of troubles. In summer 2010, an angel investor stepped in after management realized on June 29 that they would not have the funds to continue their everyday operations beyond July 15.

Such problems are not unique to Syracuse.

Honolulu's symphony filed for Chapter 7 liquidation on December 13 of last year.

The Louisville Orchestra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, also in December.

The Detroit Symphony's musicians have been on a very public strike, forcing the cancellation of many concerts this season.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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