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spotify-connect-banner.pngApple's iTunes is backed by Airplay wireless music streaming, and now Spotify will have their own wire-free way of beaming your tunes to a speaker. The music streaming giants have today revealed Spotify Connect, teaming up with a whole bunch of audio hardware manufacturers to pop Spotify right into new sets of Wi-Fi speakers.

At a basic level, Spotify Connect will add a button to the app that allows for a single button press to beam tunes to the more capable dedicated speakers, alå Airplay. But that's not all - Spotify Connect will also allow for Sonos-style seamless transfer of a playback session from one device to another. And, rather than using your phone's Wi-Fi connection (or whatever device you're playing through), the speakers will actually pull the streaming track down directly from the cloud, saving on battery life.

Argon, Bang & Olufsen, Denon, Marantz, Philips, Pioneer, Revo, Teufel and Yamaha will all be manufacturing Spotify Connect devices, with the standard forever remembering when a device has been paired once before, turning any active Spotify device into a remote for the speakers. Older Wi-Fi speaker devices will be upgradeable too, should the manufacturers choose to update their firmware.

"Today, listening to music at home can be a frustrating experience - dropouts, below-par audio quality, signal range and phone restrictions, battery drainage, it's basically a hassle," says Sten Garmark, VP Product Management at Spotify.

"Spotify Connect solves this by giving you effortless control of your music across your phone, tablet and now speakers with millions of songs built right in."

There's the potential here for this to be an affordable Sonos rival, something that music lovers have been waiting for for years. Expect to see co-branded Spotify Connect speakers from the above manufacturers in stores by Christmas.

google-play-music-all-access.jpgGoogle Play Music All Access is now available to UK music fans, as well as a whole host of other European countries.

First launched for US users back in May at the search giant's annual Google I/O conference, All Access is Google's attempt to secure a footing in the burgeoning music streaming market, currently dominated by Spotify, with other services including Xbox Music, Pandora and 7Digital.

As well as the UK, Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain have now all gained access to the service.

All Access works as part of Google's Play Music store, offering millions of tracks to be streamed from the search king's servers. Discovery tools are also included, offering up recommendations on what to listen to next based on your listening habits.

Listeners can also turn any song into a "radio station", with the service intelligently creating an endless playlist of songs based around the artist and track you've selected, with each song hopefully complementing your original choice.

Offering a 30-day free trial to users, those who sign up to the Google service before 15 September will only have to pay £7.99 a month for access to the streaming platform. After that, the price raises to the standard £9.99.

Google Play Music All Access can be used from a desktop PC or Mac, through an Android phone or tablet, or through other devices web browsers. An iOS app for Apple users is said to be in the works.

NEON-House-02.jpgThe House of Peroni, a month long pop-up London residency from the Italian beer merchants, is unlikely to be the first place you'd expect to find a tech-heavy art and sound installation. But that's exactly where Tech Digest found itself strumming away at a "giant inhabitable harp", inside an installation piece called NEON House.

A collaboration between pioneering design collective NEON and Allessio Natalizia (one half of electronic duo Walls, alongside Sam Willis), the NEON House sees the DJ booth itself become part of the musical performance. DSCF4019.JPGConsisting of a steel cube frame that "radiates" two kilometres of UV fluorescent string (making up the "walls" of the booth), each thread is also entwined with copper cabling and electronic sensors. When touched or pulled, these strings and sensors trigger a unique sampled sound which is pumped into a standard Pioneer mixing desk, ready to be manipulated by the DJs before blasting out of the connected sound system.

As well as offering those who perhaps otherwise wouldn't get involved in electronic music an opportunity to flex their musical muscles, the piece also bridges one of the most impassable divides in all of live music - that between DJ and audience member. Whoever is behind the decks of the NEON House not only has to potentially field dreaded requests, but work in the inevitable stabs of sound created by those fingering the strings.

"It's a great concept" Natalizia told Tech Digest.

"With the sounds triggered being harsh, it really works best when DJing ambient music. It can be tough when you're trying to balance a beat with it! But the interactive part, the participation, is an interesting challenge."NEON-House-10.jpgIt's all part of Peroni's aim to promote the "burgeoning contemporary creative revolution" Italy is currently enjoying, a revolution that The House of Peroni is positioning itself at the heart of. As well the installation and exhibitions of work from the likes of Vita Gottlieb, Haizhen Wang and innovative design collective Formafantasma, the pop-up also includes non-Peroni tipples from renowned mixologist Gerry Calabrese and mad-cap meals from the Michelin-starred Costardi brothers.

The technological innovations do not end with the harp installation however - an interactive design workshop hosted by designer Martijn Rigters offered visitors the chance to create an "intelligent" foam chair that could mould to the person sitting in it, while the entire house was kitted out with a speedy 4G mobile broadband connection provided by EE.DSCF4017.JPGThough The House of Peroni is coming to the end of its current residency at London's 41 Portland Place, the team will once again enjoy an extended stay at the venue during the month of November, opening its doors to the public once more when the focus shifts towards Italian fashion.

For more on The House of Peroni, click here.

thom-yorke.jpegOutspoken Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has pulled some of his music from streaming service Spotify in protest over the way up and coming artist are being treated.

Believing that services like Spotify exploit emerging bands and artists, Yorke has pulled his first solo album The Eraser and the new album Amok by his side project Atoms For Peace from the popular music streaming service.

"Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will no (sic) get paid," tweeted Yorke. "Meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simples."

Radiohead bandmate Nigel Godrich spoke up in support of Yorke's decision on his own Twitter feed, taking his own solo effort Ultraista off Spotify in the process.

"The reason is that new artists get paid fuck all with this model. It's an equation that just doesn't work," tweeted Godrich over a number of posts.

"Plus people are scared to speak up or not take part as they are told they will lose invaluable exposure if they don't play ball. Meanwhile small labels and new artists can't even keep their lights on. It's just not right.

"The music industry is being taken over by the back door.. and if we don't try and make it fair for new music producers and artists...then the art will suffer. Make no mistake. These are all the same old industry bods trying to get a stranglehold on the delivery system."

Fellow musician Four Tet (AKA Kieran Hebden) also chimed in in support of the Radiohead duo, though some fans were less pleased, tweeting that "Your small meaningless rebellion is only hurting your fans." Yorke responded "No we're standing up for our fellow musicians".

Where do you stand? Is Spotify a valuable service that you wish all bands and artists were on, or do the rumours of low returns for musicians worry you? Let us know in the comments section below, or via our @techdigestnews Twitter feed.

Xbox Music browser version launched

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xbox-music-devices.jpgXbox Music is now available as a browser based player, with Microsoft's streaming music streaming service continuing to spread its wings beyond the company's existing apps for Windows Phone, Windows, and the Xbox 360 games console.

The Xbox Music web player gives listeners access to synchronised playlists from all iterations of the service regardless of device, and is open to all Xbox Music Pass subscribers and (for a 30 day trial period) free listeners. After that 30 day trial period is up, free listeners will have to cough up the cash to become subscribers in order to continue to use the new web player.

The web player can also playback any of the "millions" of tracks available through the service, as well as offering full search functionality and editorially curated content.

Xbox Music launched back in October 2012, with Microsoft now actively looking to take on the likes of Spotify by expanding the reach of the service beyond its own Xbox/Windows platforms. Android and iOS apps have been said to be in the works since Xbox Music's initial introduction, though there is still no sign of release for the pair, nor any substantial updates from Microsoft on their status.

Like Spotify, Xbox Music features an ad-supported model for free listeners, with unlimited access to the catalogue of songs (albeit punctuated by adverts) for 6 months. After the 6 month period ends, free listeners are limited to ten hours of tunes per month. An Xbox Music Pass subscription, costing £8.99 a month or £89.99 annually, lifts all restrictions and removes all adverts.

creative airwave hdreview-line.JPGName: Creative Airwave HD

Type: Wireless Bluetooth speaker with NFC

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: £129.99

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Can NFC functionality and stellar battery life elevate the Creative Airwave HD above the masses of Bluetooth speakers available? Read our full review to find out!

review-line.JPGRather than the opting for the standard boxy shape of most Bluetooth speakers, the Creative Airwave HD instead has a triangular, prism shape. It's not unlike a Toblerone, with two curvy recesses at either end. On the front is a plastic non-removable grille that continues the triangular aesthetic. While the design looks a little bland on the black version we tested, a red version we've also seen is actually very bold and attractive, where the shadowing on the grille results in a more distinct and pleasing pattern.creative airwave hdAlong the top of the device you'll find the Airwave HD's controls, including a power slider, a volume rocker (which has an annoyingly large number of minuscule volume steps, taking an age before jumping to the top decibel levels) and a Bluetooth pairing button. You'll also find a battery/Bluetooth indicator light here, as well as an opening for an integrated microphone. Around the rear in a recess you'll find the microUSB charging port (which will work with basically any microUSB charger and can be used for adding juice from the speaker to a mobile device too) and an Aux-in port, next to a cavity for improving bass response.

The Creative Airwave HD measures 3.8 x 10.3 x 3.8 inches and weighs 980g. It's not the tiniest portable speaker out there then, but its extra heft does allow it room for components to push its volume levels strikingly loud, and for a capacious battery; two things we'd happily accept in a trade off against size.creative airwave hdPairing is incredibly simple with the Creative Airwave HD thanks to built-in NFC connectivity - simply switch the feature on on your smartphone, place the mobile against the rear of the speaker and the two become music-sharing buddies. It's great, and far more reliable than sometimes-finicky standard Bluetooth pairing, and we wish it was available in every wireless speaker. If you don't have an NFC-enabled device, you can pair the speaker in the standard Bluetooth fashion by holding down a button on the top of the Airwave HD and selecting the speaker from the Bluetooth menu on your music player. And, of course, there's always the option of a wired connection through the Aux-in port on the rear.creative airwave hdThe wireless systems employed here also have a few other neat features. An integrated microphone will allow you to wirelessly take calls with the speaker (so long as you don't mind your call being broadcast to anyone within earshot), while multipoint Bluetooth connectivity will allow two devices to connect to the speaker wirelessly at once. It's a useful feature for when playing tune-tennis with a pal - as soon as one user pauses their music and the other's starts, the speaker knows exactly which device's sound it should be pumping out.creative airwave hdIn terms of sound, the Creative Airwave HD is a mixed bag. Though cranking up incredibly loudly thanks to an integrated Creative Super Charged amplifier (loud enough to wind up every other person in the park that we tested it in), it's not the most elegant sounding system out there. Trying every genre from classic 70s rock through to the glacial electronic sounds of Alex Metric, the Creative Airwave HD's sound is firmly footed in the mid-range. There's a bit of kick to the bass end, but no warmth to the tone, and treble is harsh rather than detailed. It's not a bad sounding speaker by any means, and sits just behind the better portable systems we've heard, but it's overall a bit flat, and not a patch on the best audiophile home hi-fi's you'll hear. In terms of its soundstage, its size and triangular shape allows for a wider dispersal of sound than similar speakers, though it's still lacking the width of a wider stereo speaker set up, meaning pans get lost in the mix. DSCF3325.JPGTo get overly particular on whether or not the Airwave HD will please audiophiles is sort of missing the point though too - the speaker is intended for outdoor, drunken tunes without hassle, and in one key area its got this totally sewn up: its best feature of all is the incredibly impressive battery life. Though the company state 7 hours of playback on their website, that seems a conservative statistic. Running the speaker constantly, streaming a lengthy Spotify playlist to the Airwave HD, we sailed right past the 8 hour mark with the volume levels fairly loud throughout. We wouldn't be surprised if you could squeeze 9 or more hours out of the speaker from one charge if you dialled the volume down a little lower. Great stuff.

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Verdict:

There's lots to like about the Creative Airwave HD. It's got a punchy sound that hits incredibly high volume levels and, in the red version at least, an interesting and eye-catching design that's portable enough to take with you to a picnic or beach party without too much strain. Though its overall sound lacks detail and elegance, it more than makes up for it with a pain-free NFC pairing system and incredible battery life that will see you dancing away into the wee hours.review-line.JPG

4/5

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itunes-radio-top-official.pngLast night during the WWDC 2013 keynote Apple revealed their long-awaited music streaming offering, iTunes Music, giving iOS users a new "music discovery" tool, turning tastes and artists into curated stations, offering both ad-funded and an ad-free version for iTunes Match subscribers.

Not everyone was impressed however, most notably Nokia executive Jyrki Rosenberg, who felt Apple were late to the music streaming party.

"We launched our streaming radio service in 2011," said Rosenberg, VP, Nokia Entertainment.

"It's interesting to see Apple react now and it seems they continue to play catch up. Nokia Music will stay true to our mobile-first approach and continue to deliver an extremely simple, personalised and contextual way to discover and enjoy music on the go.

"Our fully automated personalisation and the ability to save your favourite playlists for offline use combined with no requirement for registration, no payment and no ads continues to resonate with listeners around the world."

Certainly, the Nokia Music scheme was really intriguing when it first launched, especially the Comes With Music all-you-can-eat download service.I had it on a Nokia X6 "back in the day" and was totally in love with it. Until it failed to sync my licenses that is, preventing me from accessing my sizeable music library and making me skeptical of all things Nokia Music related for some time to come.

Still Rosenberg's point is valid - Apple are late to the game here. Is iTunes Radio enough to get you to turn your back on Spotify or Pandora, or for that matter Nokia Music? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Apple introduce iOS 7 for iPhone and iPad: Features and release date revealed

itunes-radio-top-official.pngAmong the list of new features set to launch in the new iOs 7 OS for iPhone and iPad is Apple's long-awaited music streaming service, iTunes Radio.

Integrated directly into the music player app as a "music discovery service", it makes use of a list of featured stations that you can swipe though. Tapping the station name plays it, and stations seem to be based around individual artists as well as genres and curated offerings.

Tapping a star next to a track lets the service know to play more songs that are similar, add it to an iTunes download wishlist, or remove the song from ever playing on iTunes Radio ever again. The "Nickleback button" if you like.

Free with ads, it's completely free to iTunes Match subscribers, coming totally ad-free to those folks. No separate subscription plan then will give Apple a big boost here in the fight against Spotify, though there was no word of offline playlists either, suggesting the company are still trying to get people to splash the cash on tune downloads through iTunes.

Rolling out in the US first, it'll be available through iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and also works in iTunes on the Mac and AppleTV.

Image credit - Engadget

itunes-11-del-ray.pngApple's rumoured "iRadio" Spotify and Pandora music streaming rival is said to have taken one step closer to release, with whispers circulating that the Cupertino company has secured a deal with Warner music.

If true, the news follows rumours of a similar deal having been finalised with Universal Music Group, giving Apple the rights over the libraries of two of the largest music publishing conglomerates in the world.

For Apple to have a comprehensive service however, they'd also need to secure the rights to Sony Music Entertainment's artists, which could prove difficult considering the many business areas that both companies are rivals in. It's apparently already been massively difficult for Apple to get this far.

With these new deals apparently secured however, it's possible that iRadio may be shown off in some form at this month's WWDC event.

It's imperative that Apple get into the music streaming field - though iTunes remains the most popular digital music download service, its market is increasingly being eaten at by services like Spotify and Pandora, which offer access to giant catalogues of millions of tracks for a monthly subscription fee.

rara-bmw.pngBMW is to offer access to British music streaming service Rara, powered by Omnifone, through its connected dashboards across Europe in its new Series 5 cars.

The deal includes a partnership with Vodafone's mobile network across the continent, giving drivers access to Rara's catalogue of millions of songs wherever there's a Vodafone 3G single without any extra charges, and without the need to tether a tablet or smartphone to the dashboard. Each BMW Series 5 will have a Vodafone SIM embedded as a result.

"People listen to music in the car more than anywhere else, yet it's still hard to enjoy digital music in the car," said rara.com CEO Jez Bell.

"With 14 million tracks available on rara.com to stream instantly across five countries, we are looking forward to bringing the rara.com music experience to new BMW 5 Series users across Europe."

BMW will be offering the in-car streaming across UK, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands. Pricing given for the German territory is set at €390 for the first year, and €220 for subsequent years. That's substantially more than you'd pay for a year's worth of Spotify, for instance, but the deal here includes the peace of mind that you'll have Europe-wide access to the catalogue, so if you drive across the continent plenty it's likely to appeal.

Spotify have launched a new widget for websites, displaying both the weekly top 50 most-played tracks on the music service and the top 50 "social" tracks, showing which songs were the most shared across services like Twitter and Facebook for the week and previous weeks.

Like a digital top of the pops, you can click back through previous weeks to see just how long a song has been riding high in the Spotify charts, and seems a natural successor to shows like Top of the Pops or the Chart Show, relics of an age where physical sales meant more than digital plays and downloads. Of course, it's only limited to Spotify plays and not other services such as the recently-launched Google Play Music All Access, but gives you a good idea of what's stuck in the ears of the world at present.

Offering localised charts for 28 different territories, all charts will be refreshed each Monday at midday EST. With the launch, Spotify will also be offering exact play counts for individual songs, hitting the desktop client first before rolling out across the service's many platforms.

"What's so powerful about the streaming charts is they let you hear what people are really listening to, right now, and not just what they're buying," says head of content Steve Savoca in a statement.

"We want to be the best artist promotional platform in the world and showing play-counts is a clear step in that direction. Now artists can get immediate feedback from their fans on how their music is performing on Spotify."

You can check out the new chart widget below.

google-play-music-all-access.jpgreview-line.JPGIt's been on the cards for months, nay, years even, but Google have finally unveiled its own music streaming service, not-so-snappily titled Google Play Music All Access. Though there's still much to learn about the search giant's new music offering, here's a quick guide to everything revealed about Google Play Music All Access so far:
review-line.JPG"Millions" of songs

To take on the mighty Spotify, who've proved that music streaming is a viable business model (and revolutionising the distribution of music in the process), Google have had to amass a gigantic library of tracks for streaming in Google Play Music All Access. Though the company haven't pinpointed a precise figure, they have revealed that "millions" of tracks will be available to playback through the service.

And, having secured licensing deals with major publishers including Sony, Universal and Warner, top artists including everyone from Justin Bieber to Cheatahs will be available to stream.

"This is radio without rules," said Chris Yerga, Google's engineering director. "It's as 'leanback' as you want to, or as interactive as you want to."

Features

The service will support user curated playlists, and can also be used in conjunction with the Google Music locker to access your own personal library of tracks that have been uploaded to Google cloud services. Their will also be a "Radio" feature, mixing together a playlist of songs based on user-set parameters such as genre or favourite artist, and an "Explore" feature that will offer music recommendations based on your taste.

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Compatible devices

As you'd expect, Google Play Music All Access will be available to user's of Google own Android operating system across tablets and smartphones, as well as through web browsers on PC and Mac. It's not yet clear yet whether Google will offer app versions of the service to Apple's iOS devices, or to the Windows Phone or BlackBerry 10 platforms.

Pricing

Google's streaming service will cost $9.99 a month (roughly £5.60), giving unlimited access to the millions of songs in the library across all a user's compatible devices. Those who sign up for the service before June 30 will get a reduced monthly rate of $7.99 a month, an attempt by Google to court early adopters away from rival Spotify, whose own Premium service costs $9.99. No pricing however has been revealed outside of the US, but we'd imagine it's just a case of swapping those "$" signs for "£" signs instead. We always have to pay a bit more, right? It's our lot in life.

Free Trial, but no "Freemium" ad-funded option

First-time users of Google Play Music All Access get a 30-day free trial with the service, letting them test all its features before deciding on whether or not to commit to a subscription. However, unlike Spotify, once that's up, you've got to cough up the cash to continue listening - Google will not be offering an ad-funded option for freeloaders.

For a new service like Google Play Music All Access, a "freemium" ad-funded offering is both a blessing and a curse, allowing you to expand the reach of your service and court more potential customers. However, it has its problems too - why pay for the cow when you can have the milk for free? Spotify, for instance, has over 24 million users, but only million of them pay to play.

Launch

Google Play Music All Access is available now in the US, and will roll out to more countries soon. No word yet on a UK launch, but we'll keep you posted.

daft-punk-top.jpgRobot rocking robots rock! But that's not been enough for Daft Punk to prevent the sneaky web music pirates from leaking their new album 'Random Access Memories' online a week before its official release date, despite it being one of the most closely guarded albums of recent times.

In an attempt to soften the rampant illegal downloads, Daft Punk have made the album available to stream totally free (and totally legally!) through iTunes. You can here it in all its hour-and-fifteen-minutes-odd glory by clicking here.

Featuring guest spots from The Strokes' Julian Casablancas, Pharrell, and uber-producers Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rodgers, it's expected to be a massive summer hit, following in the footsteps of lead single 'Get Lucky', currently enjoying its third week at the top of the UK charts.

Listen here.

daft-punk-top.jpgFrench dance music duo Daft Punk have seen their new comeback song Get Lucky break all previous records for a single track on streaming service Spotify.

Though Spotify have yet to reveal the precise number of plays the track attracted, they have confirmed that the uber-cool robot team's new track has overtaken previous record holders Bastille, whose song Pompeii previously held the record for the most streamed track in the UK, while the US record was held by rapper Macklemore for the Thrift Song track.

"There was never any doubt that the first original single from Daft Punk in years was going to be one of the biggest debut singles of 2013," said Spotify's Will Hope, director of label relations.

"We expect the album to become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, on Spotify this year."

Get Lucky, pulled from Daft Punk's forthcoming Random Access Memories album, was so hotly anticipated that it inspired remixers to splice together 15-second teaser clips into complete tracks ahead of the eventual official release.

Keeping with the tech/Daft Punk associated news, N*E*R*D's Pharrell Williams, vocalist on Get Lucky, performed the new Daft Punk single three times in a row at the HTC One launch in Brooklyn over the weekend. You can watch the performance (three times in a row, if you like) in the video below:

twitter-music-top.jpgTwitter have launched their long-rumoured music discovery app, Twitter #Music.

The app allows users to discover new artists and songs by offering recommendations based on the people the user follows on the social network.

Tracks can then be played directly in the app through built-in partner services including iTunes, Spotify and Rdio. The app will also display songs currently being listened to by friends, as well as those being listened to by relevant artist accounts.

The app, which has been built with help from the team of recently-acquired and now-defunct We Are Hunted music discovery service, is set to launch on the iPhone later today in the UK, Ireland US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. More countries will get the service in the coming weeks.
twitter-music-launch-2.jpgSo far however there is no word of support for Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry platforms, though one would expect that an Android version at the very least is in the works.

"[#Music] uses Twitter activity, including Tweets and engagement, to detect and surface the most popular tracks and emerging artists," said Twitter's Stephen Philips on the company blog.

"It also brings artists' music-related Twitter activity front and centre: go to their profiles to see which music artists they follow and listen to songs by those artists. And, of course, you can tweet songs right from the app."

Twitter's move can be seen as a response to Facebook's partnership with Spotify, which saw the world's biggest social network offer deep integration with the music streaming service, letting users share and like songs displayed on the network's Timeline. Likewise, Spotify are gradually rolling out an artist following system on their music streaming app, keeping users locked into their platform as opposed to social networks for artist recommendations.

twitter-acquires-we-are-hunted.jpgTwitter have confirmed that their purchase of music discovery service We Are Hunted has now been finalised, sparking rumours that a Twitter music service is now on the verge of launching.

First noted back in March, the acquisition will see We Are Hunted shut down in its current form and be integrated into Twitter. It's expected that Twitter will launch a standalone iOS music discovery apps, using the We Are Hunted team's technologies and expertise. It's thought that most of the music will be streamed from artists' SoundCloud pages, and where that's not available, iTunes previews will instead be offered.

Speaking of the acquisition, We Are Hunted posted the following statement on their website:

"While we are shutting down wearehunted.com, we will continue to create services that will delight you, as part of the Twitter team...We wish we could say but we're not yet ready to talk about it. You'll hear more from us when we are."

AllThingsD are reporting that the new Twitter service may be launched as early as today, while US TV personality Ryan Seacrest has seemingly let the cat out of the bag early, revealing on Twitter (of course) that he's already been testing the new service.

amazon-cloud-player-005.jpgOnline retail behemoth Amazon are said to be in talks with record labels ahead of a launch of their own digital music streaming service.

It is thought that Amazon would integrate the service into it's cloud music storage and Cloud Player products, perhaps even bundling subscription payments into the company's premium Amazon Prime priority shipping, TV, movie and eBook rental service.

According to The Verge, the subscription-based service would go head-to-head not only with established service Spotify, but also Google and Apple's rumoured services. Apple have apparently been so far unable to cut a deal that fits both their and the record companies' needs, whereas Google are apparently proving more successful off the back of the deals already in place through YouTube, suggesting that YouTube could ultimately also be their music platform.

No word yet on officially launch details, but we'll keep you posted.

Thumbnail image for spotify header.jpgSpotify is today set to remove the cap that limits those using the service for free in the UK to only five plays of each track.

According to Musically, as of today, all UK non-paying Spotify users can listen to their favourite tracks over and over again without fear of being locked out of the service.

However, some restrictions still apply. For instance, free users will still have to put up with adverts, while their total playback time each month is limited to just 10 hours.

The UK is one of the latter territories to have the restriction removed: Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Spain had the five-play cap removed in March 2012, while the US, Australia and New Zealand never had a cap to begin with.

It's been a busy month for Spotify, who also recently launched their web-player in beta, a godsend for thsoe using shared computers where administration restrictions prevent them from installing the full Spotify client.

As well as the free service, Spotify offer an unlimited desktop streaming package for £4.99 a month, while a £9.99 Premium account allows users to save tracks for offline playback on a mobile device. The service now has over 6 million paying subscribers.


spotify-top.jpgSpotify continues its charge towards mass-market adoption, revealing that they now serve streaming tunes to over 6 million paying subscribers.

Those subscribers have now brought in over $500 million in revenue for the Stockholm-based company, while ad-funded revenue still keeps streaming in (ahem) from the free users of the service's 24 million overall active users.

Continuos updates to both the Spotify desktop and mobile platforms (including the recent release of an in-browser player) keep attracting new custom, while the services 2011 US launch, tied with a Facebook partnership, also likely boosted the numbers significantly.

However, Spotify face a potentially difficult year. Though they've been long-rumoured, it seems that this year will be the one where Google and Apple launch rival streaming services. With the weight of those giant companies behind any such project, Spotify will be grateful for the solid user base they now have to work with.

spotify-web-top.pngSpotify's Web Player has now entered a public beta testing phase, after first being revealed back at the company's major press event in November 2012.

Working from inside any web browser and designed to get more people using the music streaming service, the web player will be a godsend for those looking to listen to Spotify at work or at school, and other places where IT managers frown at the installation of software onto shared PCs.

However, the beta offering still lacks some of the promised features for UK users. Most of the social elements, such as the ability to follow celebrity pages and browse Facebook friends' playlists from the web interface are still missing.

Controls to make your listening session public or private to social networks are available in the web player beta however, meaning you can keep you Engelbert Humperdinck solo parties to yourself.

You also get the What's New tab to browse the latest Spotify releases, a regular search tool for trawling through the entire catalogue of millions of songs, and the Spotify Radio feature that creates a radio station based on a chosen artist.

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