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Music

The Problems Apple Music Needs To Fix Before Launch 110 110

journovampire writes: In less than two weeks, Apple Music arrives for consumers, but it still has some serious problems. Many in the industry are predicting the biggest digital music launch in history, but Apple hasn't even achieved its primary stated goal of de-fragmenting the music market. To illustrate, the article points out that Apple Music catalog is currently missing the current most popular artist (Adele), the most popular artist of the past decade (Taylor Swift), and the most popular artist of all time (The Beatles). The company is also promising a three-month free trial period. Great for customers, but not great for musicians, who won't see a dime from that trial, regardless of how much their music is being played. Apple has likely made you-scratch-my-back deals with the major publishers, but indies have no bargaining power. They've been hesitant to jump on board, and that only decreases the selection. Add to that the complications by DRM, Apple Connect, and the new service flat out not working on some music devices (competitors to Apple, now that they own Beats), and you have a recipe for yet another troubled streaming site.
Music

UK's Legalization of CD Ripping Is Unlawful, Court Rules 301 301

Last year the UK finally passed legislation to make the copying and ripping of CDs for personal use legal. After the legislation passed, several groups of rightsholders applied for a judicial review, arguing that the change would cause financial harm to them. (They suggested an alternative: taxing blank CDs and storage devices, sharing the resulting funds among rightsholders.) Now, the UK's High Court issued a ruling that agrees with them: "the decision to introduce section 28B [private copying] in the absence of a compensation mechanism is unlawful." The exceptions in place for private copying are now unlawful, and the UK government will need to amend the legislation if it is to have any meaningful effect.
Television

BBC Develops "Mind-Control TV" Headset For iPlayer App 27 27

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC has teamed up with tech company This Place to develop a prototype television headset that can be operated with the power of brainwaves. The Mind Control TV prototype works with an experimental version of the BBC's iPlayer on-demand platform. "It's an internal prototype designed to give our programme makers, technologists and other users an idea of how this technology might be used in future. It was much easier for some than it was for others, but they all managed to get it to work." said Cyrus Saihan, head of business development for the BBC's Digital division.
Medicine

Researchers Claim a Few Cat Videos Per Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away 59 59

bigwophh writes: A study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior suggests that watching videos of cats may be good for your health. The study pinged nearly 7,000 people and asked them how viewing cat videos affected their moods. Of those surveyed, over a third (36 percent) described themselves as a "cat person" and nearly two-thirds (60 percent) said they have an affinity for both dogs and cats. Survey subjects noted less tendencies towards feeling anxious, sad, or annoyed after watching cat videos, including times when they viewed the videos while at work or trying to study. They also reported feeling more energetic and more positive afterwards. There may have been some guilt from putting off work or studying to watch Internet videos, but the amusement they got from seeing the antics of cats more than made up for it.
Businesses

Apple Will Pay More To Streaming Music Producers Than Spotify -- But Not Yet 141 141

Reader journovampire supplies a link to Music Business Worldwide (based on a re/code report) that says Apple's new Apple Music service, after a trial period during which the company has refused to pay royalties, is expected to pay a bit more than 70 percent of its subscription revenue out to the companies supplying it, rather than the 58 percent that some in the music industry had feared. Notes journovampire: "If 13% of iOS device users in the world paid $9.99-per-month for Apple Music, it would generate more cash each year than the entire recorded music biz manages right now."
Businesses

Restaurateur Loses Copyright Suit To BMI 389 389

Frosty P writes: BMI claims Amici III in Linden, New York didn't have a license when it played four tunes in its eatery one night last year, including the beloved "Bennie and the Jets" and "Brown Sugar," winning $24,000 earlier this year, and over $8,200 in attorney's fees. Giovanni Lavorato, who has been in business for 25 years, says the disc DJ brought into the eatery paid a fee to play tunes. "It's ridiculous for me to pay somebody also," he said. "This is not a nightclub. This is not a disco joint . . . How many times do they want to get paid for the stupid music?"
Movies

Adam Nimoy "For the Love of Spock" Documentary On KickStarter 43 43

New submitter Yohannon writes: In November of 2014, Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard, began talking with his father about creating a documentary regarding the late actor's most iconic role for potential release on the 50th anniversary of the premier of Star Trek. With the actor sadly passing in late February, the project has become more of a celebration of Leonard Nimoy's life as a whole. To fund the project, Adam has turned to KickStarter to raise the relatively modest 600 thousand dollars (US) to complete the documentary.

[Full disclosure: I am the husband of one of the models Nimoy used for his "Full Body Project", and she might be interviewed as a part of the documentary; However, cutting room floors being what they are, even virtually, that's not a guarantee she would actually be IN the doc.]
Music

Spotify Raises $526 Million As Apple Charges Into Streaming 72 72

An anonymous reader writes: Spotify has raised an enormous $526 million in funding to fight off Apple's new Apple Music subscription service. As part of the funding round, European carrier TeliaSonera is responsible for $115 million. The music service now has 20 million paying subscribers and 75 million monthly active users, doubling the subscriber base since May of 2014. The LA Times reports: "U.S. companies participating in the Spotify funding include Halcyon Asset Management, GSV Capital, D.E. Shaw & Co., Technology Crossover Ventures, Northzone and P. Schoenfeld Asset Management, said the person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to comment publicly. British investment firms Baillie Gifford, Lansdowne Partners and Rinkelberg Capital, along with Canadian hedge funds Senvest Capital and Discovery Capital Management also took part. In a statement disclosing its investment, TeliaSonera said it would work with Spotify to come up with innovations in media distribution, customer insights, data analytics and advertising."
Sci-Fi

2014 Nebula Award Winners Announced 52 52

Dave Knott writes: The winners of the 2014 Nebula awards (presented 2015) have been announced. The awards are voted on by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and (along with the Hugos) are considered to be one of the two most prestigious awards in science fiction. This year's winners are:

Best Novel: Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer
Best Novella: Yesterday's Kin, Nancy Kress
Best Novelette: "A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i", Alaya Dawn Johnson
Best Short Story: "Jackalope Wives", Ursula Vernon
Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn
Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy: Love Is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson
2015 Damon Knight Grand Master Award: Larry Niven
Solstice Award: Joanna Russ (posthumous), Stanley Schmidt
Kevin O'Donnell Jr. Service Award: Jeffry Dwight
Music

A Music-Sharing Network For the Unconnected 66 66

An anonymous reader writes: Operating as personal offline versions of iTunes and Spotify, the téléchargeurs, or downloaders, of Mali are filling the online music void for many in the country. For less than a dime a song, a téléchargeur will transfer playlists to memory cards or directly onto cellphones. Even though there are 120,000 landlines for 15 million people in Mali, there are enough cellphones in service for every person in the country. The spread of cell phones and the music-sharing network that has followed is the subject of this New York Times piece. From the article: "They know what their regulars might like, from the latest Jay Z album to the obscurest songs of Malian music pioneers like Ali Farka Touré. Savvy musicians take their new material to Fankélé Diarra Street and press the téléchargeurs to give it a listen and recommend it to their customers....This was the scene Christopher Kirkley found in 2009. A musicologist, he traveled to Mali hoping to record the haunting desert blues he loved. But every time he asked people to perform a favorite folk song or ballad, they pulled out their cellphones to play it for him; every time he set up his gear to capture a live performance, he says, 'five other kids will be holding their cellphones recording the same thing — as an archivist, it kind of takes you down a couple of notches.'”
Sony

Sony Music CEO Confirms Launch of Apple's Music Streaming Service 86 86

An anonymous reader writes: Sony Music CEO Doug Morris said in an interview that Apple will announce a new music streaming service tomorrow at its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). The new Apple Music service will include subscription streaming music features as well as a revamped iTunes Radio service. "What does Apple bring to this?" Morris said. "Well, they've got $178 billion in the bank. And they have 800 million credit cards in iTunes. Spotify has never really advertised because it's never been profitable. My guess is that Apple will promote this like crazy and I think that will have a halo effect on the streaming business. A rising tide will lift all boats," he added. "It's the beginning of an amazing moment for our industry."
DRM

Apple Music and the Terrible Return of DRM 260 260

An anonymous reader writes: Apple's rumored music streaming service looks set to materialize soon, and a lot of people are talking about how good it might be. But Nilay Patel is looking at the other side — if the service fits with Apple's typical mode of operation, it'll only work with other Apple products. "That means I'll have yet a fourth music service in my life (Spotify, Google Play Music, Prime, and Apple Music) and a fourth set of content exclusives and pricing windows to think about instead of just listening to music." He points out Steve Jobs's 2007 essay on the state of digital music and notes that Jobs seemed to feel DRM was a waste of time — something forced on Apple by the labels. "But it's no longer the labels pushing DRM on the music services; it's the services themselves, because locking you into a single ecosystem guarantees you'll keep paying their monthly subscription fees and hopefully buy into the rest of their ecosystem. ... Apple Music might be available on Android, but it probably won't be as good, because Apple wants you to buy an iPhone.... There's just lock-in, endless lock-in. Is this what we wanted?"
Sci-Fi

Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols Hospitalised In LA After Stroke 40 40

WheezyJoe writes: The Register tells us that Nichelle Nichols, who played the lovely Lt. Uhura, communications officer of the original starship Enterprise (original series and animated series), has been hospitalized after a mild stroke. She is reported to have undergone a CAT scan and MRI, and was awake and eating as of Thursday evening. Nichols has shown minor signs of loss of mobility but otherwise no signs of paralysis.
Star Wars Prequels

Stormtrooper Arrested 535 535

Kexel writes: Nope, not an April Fools joke. A forty-year-old man in Massachusetts bought a Stormtrooper outfit, and then walked through a neighborhood near a school to show his friends. The principal saw his fake blaster and called 911. The man was then arrested and charged with disturbing a school and loitering. A police spokesman said the man "used bad judgment." I guess this shows you what not to do when geeking out on Star Wars.
The Internet

Why Americans Loathe Cable Companies 229 229

HughPickens.com writes: Vikas Bajaj writes in the NYT that the results are in and the American Customer Satisfaction Index shows that customer satisfaction with cable TV, Internet and phone service providers have declined to a seven-year low. Of the 43 industries on which the survey solicits opinions, TV and Internet companies tied for last place in customer satisfaction. "Internet and TV have always been among the lowest scoring," says David VanAmburg, director of the Index. "But this year they're at the very bottom." The study, which is based on more than 14,000 consumer surveys, gives companies a rating from 0 to 100. The ACSI reports huge drops in customer satisfaction for Comcast and Time Warner Cable, following their failed merger. Already one of the lowest-scoring companies in the ACSI, Comcast sheds 10 percent to a customer satisfaction score of 54. Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable earns the distinction as least-satisfying company in the Index after falling 9 percent to 51. Joining Time Warner Cable in the basement is ACSI newcomer Mediacom Communications (51), which serves smaller markets in the Midwest and South. "Customer service in these industries has long been bad," says VanAmburg of Internet and TV providers. "They don't have a good business model for handling inquiries with efficiency and respect. It goes back a decade plus."

Even though those complaints are longstanding, customer frustration has risen along with the ever-rising prices. "You compound all that with the prices customers are paying, and that's the final straw," says VanAmburg. "They're opening bills each month and saying 'I'm paying how much?'" In an age of over-the-top viewing options like Hulu and Netflix, customer dissatisfaction may increasingly translate to companies' bottom lines. "There was a time when pay TV could get away with discontented users without being penalized by revenue losses from defecting customers," says Claes Fornell, chairman and founder of the Index. "But those days are over."