Music streaming service now holds live online concerts, with each ticket going for $3

174725602 Music streaming service now holds live online concerts, with each ticket going for $3The online music streaming industry is highly competitive right now. Turntable, the company behind the music streaming site, obviously recognizes these challenges — and it has rolled out a new feature in a bid to differentiate its flagship service: live performance streaming.

In a Tumblr post, the company describes Turntable Live as “a new platform for supporting artists.” It hosts live and interactive shows with artists online, in which users can ask questions and send snapshots, alongside the star of the program: the music.

A ticket to each concert that is being aired on Turntable Live costs $3. The first performance just launched a few hours ago in partnership with the New York City music festival CBGB, headlined by indie pop/rock band Beat Radio. begins streaming live, interactive concerts, but tickets will cost you [The Verge] USA TODAY Sports Weekly

Headline image via Jonas Roosens/AFP/Getty Images

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The BBC announces BBC Store, letting you pay to download and keep shows

It has been a tumultuous twelve months at the BBC, with scandal after scandal finally leading to a new Director General in the form of Lord Tony Hall who took over at the helm in April, replacing George Entwistle who had held fort for just fifty days.

At a gathering at New Broadcasting House in Central London this morning, Lord Hall laid out his visions for the future of the BBC, and part of this he revealed some significant upcoming developments for iPlayer in 2014.

BBC Store: iPlayer goes commercial

‘BBC Store’ will be a commercial, online-only service, letting UK users buy TV shows to keep forever. So we’re talking permanent downloads here, something that has been rumored previously.

Hall didn’t reveal how much this will cost, whether it will be per-download or a monthly subscription, but details will be revealed on this in due course.

“We’re moving from being catch-up TV, to online TV,” said Hall. “Next year, we’re going to reinvent iPlayer.”

This has been rumored previously, and will likely cause more than a little controversy, with license-fee payers arguing that their annual fee already covers the cost of the programmes, therefore why should they have to pay again to keep them permanently?

Moreover, iPlayer will be moving to a 30-day catch-up window (from 7-days) as standard, something that’s currently only enabled if you make shows available offline. And Hall says many of the shows will be available on iPlayer first, before hitting broadcast TV, So essentially, iPlayer is being moved front-and-center here, rather than being a secondary service.

“This is going to be a bold era of BBC innovation,” said Hall, adding that users will also be able to create their own TV schedules, fitted to their own schedules. Linear TV is being elbowed to one side here, it seems.

A new service called BBC Playlister will also let users tag and listen to any music they hear on the BBC, with Hall mentioning partnerships with YouTube and Deezer and more, letting people save and listen to all their music across devices. Again, the exact details of this weren’t revealed, though we will endeavor to eek out the finer nuances of what this actually entails.

Finally, Hall also mentioned plans for a BBC1+1 channel, essentially letting people watch what was on BBC 1 one-hour behind the linear broadcast, though given iPlayer’s big push to front-and-center, it’s not entirely clear why there will be a need for this.

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Apple Reportedly Bringing iTunes Radio To UK, Canada And More In Early 2014

iTunes Radio is one of the best new parts of iOS 7 (and the most recent update to the iTunes desktop media management software), but it’s a U.S. exclusive. As is often the case with new movie/music/TV media products, Apple has launched the feature first in its home (and largest) market, likely because it focused on locking down streaming radio rights in the U.S. first. Now, Bloomberg reports that the service is set to expand in early 2014.

The start of next year could see iTunes Radio make its way to Canadian, U.K., Australian and New Zealand-based listeners, and potentially to some Nordic regions as well, according to Bloomberg’s sources. A launch in that timeframe would mean iTunes Radio beats competitor Pandora into those markets, so long as that company doesn’t manage any international expansion before then. There’s no evidence so far that they will, so it could be huge for Apple in terms of securing an advance foothold in markets that don’t yet have a really impressive streaming radio offering.

As I noted nearer to the iTunes Radio launch, Apple’s launch window listeners for iTunes radio represented 5.5 percent of Pandora’s total registered users with just three days of availability. 11 million had used the service in that time, and it’s likely far more now that more users have updated to iOS 7 and downloaded the newest version of iTunes.

For Apple, international growth is likely less of a challenge than it is for smaller companies. The digital media giant already operates movie, music and TV content stores in many countries around the world, and previously staged the rollout of iTunes Match, its digital music locker subscription service, across different markets, too. If we can expect a similar launch plan for iTunes Radio, then an early 2014 date makes sense, since iTunes Match rolled out to U.K. users in December 2011, following a November U.S. launch that same year.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment, and will update this story if we hear more.

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Hands-On With The Kickstarted Bohemian Guitar Company’s ‘Oil Can’ Guitars

In order to put our money where our hype is we like to take a closer look at Kickstarter products we’ve talked about on the site. Today we have the Bohemian Guitar Company’s “oil can” guitars, a Kickstarter project that raised $54,000 – $20K over their $32,000 goal. The company, based in Georgia, just started shipping their cleverly-designed gitfiddles and I got the chance to try one out.


The guitars have a single pickup controlled by a set of volume and tone dials. A wooden bridge at the bottom and a nice maplewood neck that continues into the oil can body. The body itself is ostensibly recycled and repainted and adds an excellent bit of twang to your picking. The machine heads are serviceable – the ones I tested were a little tight – and the pickup, while simple, seems to be nicely placed for resonance and sound quality.

How does it sound? Take a listen. Excuse the quality here – I’m not a good guitarist.

Generally you will get a twangier sound out of this guitar and it resonates enough to even act as a sort of steel acoustic. I’m positive a superior guitarist can use the unique body to positive effect. I showed it to Charlie Appicella of Iron City Jazz who found it playable and light, if a little too cute for his purposes as a professional jazz guitarist. That said there’s no shame in bringing this thing out especially if you’re a surf or country band and want a little Bo Diddley-like authenticity.
The guitars now cost $299 and a portion of the proceeds go to charity to help spread a love of music in children. It’s a noble goal and it looks like the team, Adam and Shaun Lee, have succeeded in building a business with the Kickstarter push. Most of the models are currently sold out and they’re working on their Boho line – complete with hipster-ish can designs – as we speak. It’s an interesting end to a compelling and surprisingly cool project.

Bohemian Guitars mission is to build funky, unique, and innovative sounding instruments out of unconventional materials for real, everyday use. Passionate about art, music and community outreach, Bohemian Guitars puts a creative spin on a timeless and classic instrument—the guitar—that offers a refreshing and inspirational change of pace to the music and art scene.

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This Week On The TechCrunch Droidcast: Dude, No One’s Getting A Dell Venue Tablet

Dell had an event this week, which is in itself noteworthy regardless of what they launch, but it turns out there were Android tablets there! We talk about those for a while, as well as the Elliptic Labs ultrasound gesture control SDK, Android in the Car, Amazon’s four-camera phone plans, and briefly the Kindle Fire HDX.

This week on the show prodigal son Chris Velazco returns from his many travels (we held the podcast a whole day to make sure he could come), and we’re joined by Natasha Lomas as well. I nearly forgot to mention that we also chat briefly about BBM for Android, and it must be forgettable because BlackBerry itself seems to have forgotten about it as well.

We invite you to enjoy weekly Android podcasts every Wednesday (or Thursday this week) at 5:30 p.m. Eastern and 2:30 p.m. Pacific, in addition to our weekly Gadgets podcast at 3 p.m. Eastern and noon Pacific on Fridays. Subscribe to the TechCrunch Droidcast in iTunes, too, if that’s your fancy.

Intro music by Kris Keyser.

Direct download available here.

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Hand gesture interface startup Flutter says that it has been acquired by Google

Flutter, the company focused on developing a hand gesture interface, says that it has been acquired by Google. Company CEO Naveet Dalal says that the team will be continuing its research at the search engine company.

If you’re not familiar with the Flutter brand, you’re probably aware of its service — it has a popular iOS application and describes itself as “Kinect for OS X” whereby it uses hand gestures to detect movement using the built-in webcam in devices to help control music and movies. The company has received $1.4 million in funding from Y Combinator, Andreessen Horowitz, New Enterprise Associates, Spring Ventures, and Start Fund.

Granted that the technology is predominantly for Apple software, could we be seeing Google adding Flutter’s capabilities to its native apps or perhaps adapting it for Android? If so, perhaps leveraging it for the company’s wearable devices such as Google Glass could be in the realm of possibilities. With the spread of Google Play Music All Access and more users purchasing content from the Google Play store, hands free gesturing could be something that further distinguishes the platform from Apple’s.

Interestingly, these capabilities already exist on Android devices, at least with the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 devices. Remember those commercials that featured motion gestures for the Samsung device?

We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update this if we hear back.

Here’s the acquisition announcement:

When we started three years ago, our dream to build a ubiquitous and power-efficient gesture recognition technology was considered by many as just “a dream”, not a real possibility. Since then, we have strived to build the best machine vision algorithms and a delightful user experience.

Even after we launched our first app, we didn’t stop our research; your enthusiasm and support pushed us to continue to do better. We’re inspired everyday when we hear, for example, that Flutter makes you feel like a superhero — because any sufficiently advanced technology should be indistinguishable from magic, right?

Today, we are thrilled to announce that we will be continuing our research at Google. We share Google’s passion for 10x thinking, and we’re excited to add their rocket fuel to our journey.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to all of our users; your feedback and evangelism inspire us every day. Flutter users will be able to continue to use the app, and stay tuned for future updates.

More to follow. Please refresh for updates.

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YouTube announces the first YouTube Music Awards, a fan-powered event taking place November 3

YouTube has announced its first-ever music awards show — the fittingly-named YouTube Music Awards, taking place in November — which it says will be a fan-powered celebration of music and artists from the popular video site.

The ceremony itself will take place in New York on Sunday November 3, with actor Jason Schwartzman the host. The event will be live-streamed, as you’d expect with YouTube and its parent Google, and it will be headlined by Lady Gaga, Eminem and Arcade Fire as well as YouTube-made artists like Lindsey Stirling and CDZA.

In a nod to YouTube’s global presence, the ceremony will also include live acts from Seoul, Moscow, London and Rio de Janiero.

More immediately, things will kick off on October 17 when the nominations are announced — YouTube says they will be based on the most watched and shared content on YouTube over the past year.

Responsibilities will shift over to users for selecting the winning songs and artists within each category. To vote for a nominee, users simply share their nomination across social networks; thus those with the most shares win.

In a big win for YouTube, music industry veteran Spike Jonze will be the event’s creative director. VICE and Sunset Lane Entertainment are involved as executive producers.

YouTube says that the award show will be as much about helping to showcase new content as it will be about celebrating popular music:

There will be a whole lot more music to enjoy on YouTube around the Music Awards. In the days leading up to the November 3 event, nominees will share official music videos, covers, parodies, concerts, interviews and fan videos on YouTube–so you can stay in the loop, find your faves and discover new music you didn’t even know you loved!

Here’s the inevitable video trailer — this is YouTube we’re talking about, after all:

Headline image via Rego Korosi / Flickr

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Spotify Takes Its Follow Button Outside Its Walled Garden, Lets Fans Follow Musicians And Others From Anywhere

Following the launch of its Play music-playing button last year, today Spotify took one more step outside of its walled garden: it has launched a new Follow button, a widget that can go on any desktop or mobile page, not just pages within Spotify itself (as the Follow button previously used to work), to let users follow other profiles within Spotify.

By clicking on it, a user can follow others on Spotify — be they artists, other users, music magazines or blogs or labels — and then get updates from them in their Spotify activity streams. Spotify’s Follow button will work much like those from Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks, and is intended to sit alongside them on websites. That is not an accidental similarity: Spotify’s ambition is to be — as Twitter is for real-time conversation, or Facebook is for more lean-back social interactions, or LinkedIn is for networkers — the default platform for all social music interaction. That’s a position it has already been cultivating with its App Center, its Spotify Social feature, the pre-existing, in-Spotify Follow button, close Facebook integration and more.

The Follow button will serve a few other crucial purposes, too: for those who are not already using Spotify, it will encourage them to download it. For those who are already Spotify users, it will continue to bring the service front and center to their minds, and give them potentially more reasons to return to it. And there is a B2B angle here, too: for the labels, artists and others who appear on Spotify, it places the music streaming service as a more effective marketing platform, highlighting how Spotify may choose to exploit that more commercially in the future.

All of these are essential for Spotify right now, as the company reportedly is working on raising a new round at a $5.3 billion valuation. It is still a loss-making service, so adding more users can help it either beef up numbers for better advertising revenues; or for potentially upselling unpaid users into its paid, premium tiers. Improving relationships with labels and artists by giving them more ways to promote themselves, meanwhile, builds Spotify’s profile as a marketing vehicle (not unlike what Twitter has been doing by building bridges with the broadcast industry).

Spotify tells me that the Follow button will start appearing everywhere beginning today, both on desktop and mobile, just as the Play widget is already.

The Follow button, Spotify notes on its developer pages, comes by way of a piece of code that a developer plugs into a website.

When visitors to that site are logged in to Spotify and click a Follow button, the artist or user is added to the profiles they already follow. If the user does not have a Spotify account, they get prompts to create one. If they do but it’s not launched, they get a prompt to launch it.

For those who are in regions where Spotify is not yet active (it’s currently in 39 countries), users will get a note saying that the service is not yet available in their market.

Spotify has created code for the button to appear with and without profile pictures. Here’s how the enhanced button looks (the pared-down version is illustrated above):

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 10.28.39

This becomes the second widget that Spotify has created to exist outside of its walled garden, adding to the Play feature that lets users listen to Spotify-based tracks anywhere on the web via an embeddable player. By launching it, it’s taking a step ahead of other rivals like Rdio, which also offers following features but not the ability for them to be added across other sites.

While all of the above are obvious benefits, there are also some challenges in the Follow button, too: it’s not clear how well Spotify’s other social features are performing so far, and there are some signs that they may not all be doing that well. For example, one of the company’s closest app makers, Soundrop, is looking to move away from simple music discovery as a service, and more into targeted, marketing-led experiences, with claims that too many are already trying to provide “discovery” these days.

Furthermore, there can be drawbacks to adding widgets like these to web pages. “Another third-party collecting your audience data, slowing your site,” noted Raju Narisetti, SVP of strategy at News Corp., in response to the new Follow button launch.

Spotify has created a lightweight software application that allows instant listening to specific tracks or albums with virtually no buffering delay. It was launched in the fall of 2008 and had approximately 10 million users by September 2010. Spotify offers streaming music from major and independent record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group, and Universal. Users download Spotify and then log onto their service enabling the on-demand streaming of music. Music can be browsed by artist, album, record…

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Spotify launches Follow button to help artists and musicians connect with their fans on the Web

Spotify is keen to build out the social features of its on-demand music streaming service, connecting fans with the artists they love and increasing the amount of time that users spend on the platform. To that end, Spotify is launching a new Follow button today for artists, labels, concert organizers – anyone with music to promote really – to add to their site or blog and raise awareness of a specific profile on Spotify.

Once clicked, Spotify users who are already logged in will begin following the artist automatically. If they’re not logged in they will be prompted to do so, while new users will inevitably need to create an account before being able to follow the musician in question. By following the artist, Spotify users will receive updates whenever new tracks and albums are added to their profile. A link to their Spotify page, complete with their discography, biography and a list of related artists, will also be added to the dedicated Follow tab.

It’s an obvious play, but one that should increase the public’s awareness of Spotify on the Web. The button itself is discrete and should sit well alongside artists’ existing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the like.

Here’s an example of a Follow button in action:

Image Credit: Mario Tama via Getty Images

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