Head of YouTube Music says it will merge YouTube Red and Google Play Music into one

YouTube’s man for music, Lyor Cohen, has revealed that they are combining their music streaming service and YouTube’s subscription offering.

Lyor Cohen has spoken on some interesting new plans that have been rumoured for a while now. The merger of both YouTube’s subscription offering, YouTube Red, with Google Play Music – Google’s dedicated music streaming service. Now the head of music at YouTube, Cohen, has confirmed the plans.

Whilst it is unlikely that the services themselves would merge together into one app/website the change would make them both available on the same subscription. Cohen said: “The important thing is combining YouTube Red and Google Play Music, and having one offering.”

YouTube currently has a few different offerings which seem to have confused users, prompting a more aligned offering. YouTube Music is currently an app free for anyone that is dedicated just to music on YouTube. YouTube Red however is paid and takes away ads on videos , lets you watch videos offline, and, most importantly for music lovers, listen to videos with the screen locked.

Google combined the two teams earlier this year, assumably with these plans in mind, so it should be an easy transition. Whilst you currently get either service for free with the other this move will combine the two services into one. Hopefully this also signifies the expansion of YouTube Red which, whilst it has been available for over a year in the US, YouTube Red is still only available in 5 countries. Google Play Music on the other hand has launched in 64 countries.

We just want YouTube Red in the UK already!

Digital music now dominates 55% of the French industry, streaming rules

The French music market is seeing the full effects of the digital music revolution as it now accounts for the majority of the industry in France.

The French Syndicat National de l’Edition Phonographique (SNEP) has released the figures for the first half of 2017’s music industry. Their report revealed that for the first half of 2017 digital music (digital downloads and music streaming) accounted for a massive 55% of the industry’s recorded music sales.

This represents the first time that the digital market has dominated the industry with a majority, as the slow decline in physical music continues. Whilst it’s a great sign for digital platforms, particularly streaming which is dominating music around the world, unfortunately the boost in streaming platforms isn’t yet offsetting the decline of physical music as it is in other industries.

In comparison to last year’s H1 in France streaming revenue has risen a whopping 27.3%, amounting to €87.5 million in revenue. On the other side of the market physical music revenues dropped 18.2% to a total value of €85.1 million.

music streaming physical sales revenues market industry France French

Despite the big boost in the digital market, that is almost solely made by music streaming as digital downloads in France made up just 5% of total revenues. That’s an actual reduction from last year when digital downloads made up 7% of the market. This puts streaming as the number one overall source of music in France as it accounts for 84% of the digital market alone.

In better news, it wasn’t just free music streaming that was seeing phenomenal growth as both paid and free streaming saw a great boost. Subscription based streaming services rose 26% in income whilst ad-supported tiers grew by 30%. A good sign – subscription streaming now makes up 38% of the market, almost double last year when it accounted for just 20%.

France’s music market is a significant one, as the IFPI ranked it the 6th biggest in the world last year. It’s good to see streaming doing so well in another large market, here’s hoping it can offset revenue declines soon.

Transform your music onto the page with this simple tab app

TabBank is a new app that makes it easier than ever to transcribe your music down without any hassle.

TabBank is unique in its simplicity, stripping away all the complicated extras so that even those without experience doing so can get their music down for future reference or to show others you plan to play with. Tabbing software can seem excessively complicated for the inexperienced and that’s why TabBank has been created.

The software of TabBank allows you to simply type in your chord and then follow it up with lyrics. Then type the next chord and the lyrics that follow, and so on – providing a uniquely easy way to get all your creations down. The tab will then transform it into a perfectly arranged tab sheet that can be printed, shared and stored for future.

TabBank also lets you listen to how your track is sounding, in case you haven’t heard it before writing it I guess? Tap on chords to hear them played out, and tap on tabbed riffs and solos to hear them played perfectly, for when you can’t get the timing right or want to hear how a computer plays your music.

TabBank comes from the creator of the popular ChordBank app which was a free app full of thousands of chords. You could explore anything from a basic A chord to an Emsus2/B chord and play it from your phone to hear how it sounds. Even better the app would you show you the fingerings and positions of each chord, and every chord was compatible with left-handed instructions too.

Keep your eyes out for the TabBank app, scheduled for release later today.

NIN and Apple Music’s Trent Reznor says free music is “here to stay”

The Nine Inch Nails frontman-cum-Apple Music executive Trent Reznor shares his thoughts on streaming, emphasising that free music isn’t going anywhere.

The singer and music industry veteran spoke on Wednesday about the future of music, in particular after the dawn of streaming. He shared his experience and thoughts, based particularly on a collaborative album Reznor made with Saul Williams that they offered for free or a $5 charge that goes straight to artists.

“Maybe 30,000 downloads occurred in the next week and less than 20 percent were paid for,” he noted. “I thought that second number would be higher. At the time, I felt I was making a genuine offer, worded simply and confrontationally, for something I thought had genuine value. So I was bummed out by the result. It took the wind out of my sails as far as thinking of direct-to-customer as a sustainable business for a musician.

“In a way, that experience gave me a preemptive look at music today. You’re not making money from albums; instead they’re a vessel for making people aware of you. That’s what led me to thinking that a singular subscription service clearly is the only way this problem is going to be solved. If we can convert as many music fans as possible to the value of that, in a post-ownership world, it would be the best way to go.”

Trent Reznor Nine Inch Nails apple music streaming free subscription paid
Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine with Trent Reznor

Reznor has the unique position of having experienced both sides of the coin, as an artist who now has an executive position at Apple Music. He joined Apple after their takeover of Beats by Dre where he served as chief creative officer. Since joining Apple he has helped to launch Apple Music’s massively popular Beats 1 internet radio station.

Reznor said that: “Without going into detail, I’ll say it’s been an education. I’ve been on the other side of artists b**** about payments and free music, and I agree with those arguments, but you can sit and b**** about the way things are, or you can try to effect some change.

“Working under the Apple umbrella, I have a unique opportunity to work on a streaming service from the inside. I thought I could help set a precedent where artists could actually be paid and the fans could feel like they were dealing with a service run by people who actually care about music.”

Since joining Apple Music he’s discovered how difficult the industry is and how complicated the acquisition and then distribution of royalties. He continued: “Where it seems to have wound up is that free music is here to stay. It doesn’t seem like, with all the different services, artist payments are coming together in the way that one would hope.”

There’s still a long way to go though for, what is essentially still, a new music platform (streaming). The Copyright Royalty Board will be discussing, until the end of the year, the royalty rates for streaming services that will be in place for the next five years.

Amazon Echo gets a $45 rival home speaker from Xiaomi

Google, Apple, Facebook – it seems everyone is making smart home speakers now, but Xiaomi’s super cheap one may knock others out of the running.

Xiaomi have revealed their very own home speaker that will compete with the likes of the massively popular Amazon Echo. Xiaomi have managed to set themselves apart in the increasingly crowded market with a price tag that will make all the others blush.

Xiaomi released a voice controlled speaker last December called the Mi, which could stream millions of songs and radio stations from the internet. Beyond that and some other music functions however, it wasn’t anything to go up against other voice activated speakers like Amazon’s Echo or the Google Home.

Their new device will actually feature an artificial intelligence inside the speaker so that you can use it with other devices and smart products from the hundreds of manufacturers that Xiaomi are partnered with. The upgraded version will be appropriately named the ‘Mi AI Speaker’.

With the new AI you can do so much more than just play music, using a variant of the Android OS. As with competing home speakers with AI’s you can ask it for the weather forecast, traffic announcements, set alarms, take notes and much more. You can do all this all just by talking to it. It features six speakers for a 360-degree sound.

The most impressive part of Xiaomi’s Mi AI Speaker is its cost. With the functions of any other $100+ speaker from big brand names, the Mi AI Speaker will be made available for just $45. A bargain for anyone looking to get their own home speaker and assistant on a budget.

How good is your headbanging? This metal band will tell you

A Japanese metal band are taking headbanging to the next level with a new website that lets you bang out and ranks you on your abilities.

Crossfaith, Japanese electrocore metal band, are looking for the top headbangers in the metal world. With their new website metal-heads can headbang along to Crossfaith’s music while their webcam tracks how they’re doing.

As you listen to the song the webcam counts your headbangs and grills you for a rubbish performance. If you start slowing down or your neck breaks the site will shout at you “Why are you stopping?” as it gives you 10 seconds to get back to whipping your hair back and forth… er, I mean headbanging.

If you make it to the end of a track you will be rewarded with a personal artwork based on your performance alongside a headbang count. I’m not sure how sensible the active promotion of swinging your neck around as fast as you possibly can is but I’m sure most metalheads know their limits by now.

The website was launched in promotion of Crossfaith’s new EP ‘Freedom’. It seems to have worked as I had never heard of them before today, although I’m more fascinated by the concept than interested in their music. But hey – all publicity is good publicity, right?

MTV award nominations announced, and making awards gender-neutral

MTV have announced their music video and film award nominations and have combined categories to neutralise gendered awards.

MTV’s infamous award ceremony have revealed who’s up for awards in the 2017 show. In addition they have combine Best Male and Best Female Video into an ‘Artist of the Year’ award. The movie and TV awards are also no longer distinguished by gender, replaced with one winning TV actor and one Film actor.

Speaking on the decision to neutralise the awards for both genders, MTV general manager Amy Doyle said: “Great acting is great acting, no matter what the gender or non-gender. And it is really reflective about the audience’s views and when you look at the culture as a whole, you had a man against a woman running for president. It just felt like a dated construct for a category.”

This year Kendrick Lamar is dominating the awards show with eight nominations for his music video to ‘Humble’, the first single from his latest album ‘DAMN.’. The Weeknd and Katy Perry both follow behind with an impressive five nominations each.

The MTV VMAs will take place on the 27th August in LA.

The nominations for the new, non-gendered MTV VMA awards are as follows:

Video of the Year

Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope)
Bruno Mars – “24K Magic” (Atlantic Records)
Alessia Cara – “Scars To Your Beautiful” (Def Jam)
DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller – “Wild Thoughts” (Epic Records/We The Best)
The Weeknd – “Reminder” (XO/Republic Records)

Artist of the Year

Bruno Mars (Atlantic Records)
Kendrick Lamar (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope)
Ed Sheeran (Atlantic Records)
Ariana Grande (Republic Records)
The Weeknd (XO/Republic Records)
Lorde (Republic Records)

Best New Artist (Presented by Taco Bell)

Khalid (RCA Records)
Kodak Black (Atlantic Records)
SZA (TDE/RCA Records)
Young M.A (3D)
Julia Michaels (Republic Records)
Noah Cyrus (Records)

Best Collaboration

Charlie Puth ft. Selena Gomez – “We Don’t Talk Anymore” (Atlantic Records)
DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller – “Wild Thoughts” (Epic Records/We The Best)
D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty – “Broccoli” (Atlantic Records)
The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – “Closer” (Disruptor Records/Columbia Records)
Calvin Harris ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean – “Feels” (Columbia Records)
Zayn & Taylor Swift – “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)” (Republic Records)

Best Pop

Shawn Mendes – “Treat You Better” (Island Records)
Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You” (Asylum/Atlantic Records)
Harry Styles – “Sign Of The Times” (Columbia Records)
Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane – “Down” (Syco Music/Epic Records)
Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley – “Chained To The Rhythm” (Capitol Records)
Miley Cyrus – “Malibu” (RCA Records)

Best Hip-Hop

Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope)
Big Sean – “Bounce Back” (Def Jam)
Chance the Rapper – “Same Drugs” (Chance the Rapper LLC)
D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty – “Broccoli” (Atlantic Records)
Migos ft. Lil Uzi Vert – “Bad & Boujee” (300 Entertainment)
DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne – “I’m The One” (Epic Records/We The Best)

Best Dance

Zedd and Alessia Cara – “Stay” (Interscope)
Kygo x Selena Gomez – “It Ain’t Me” (Ultra/Interscope)
Calvin Harris – “My Way” (Columbia Records)
Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber and MØ – “Cold Water” (Mad Decent)
Afrojack ft. Ty Dolla $ign – “Gone” (Wall Recordings/Latium/RCA Records)

Best Rock

Coldplay – “A Head Full of Dreams” (Parlophone/Atlantic Records)
Fall Out Boy – “Young And Menace” (Island)
Twenty One Pilots – “Heavydirtysoul” (Fueled by Ramen/Atlantic Records)
Green Day – “Bang Bang” (Warner Bros. Records)
Foo Fighters – “Run” (RCA Records)

Best Fight Against the System

Logic ft. Damian Lemar Hudson – “Black SpiderMan” (Def Jam)
The Hamilton Mixtape – “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” (Atlantic Records)
Big Sean – “Light” (Def Jam)
Alessia Cara – “Scars To Your Beautiful” (Def Jam)
Taboo ft. Shailene Woodley – “Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL”
John Legend – “Surefire” (Columbia Records)

Best Cinematography

Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) (Scott Cunningham)
Imagine Dragons – “Thunder” (KIDinaKORNER/Interscope) (Matthew Wise)
Ed Sheeran – “Castle On The Hill” (Asylum/Atlantic Records) (Steve Annis)
DJ Shadow ft. Run The Jewels – “Nobody Speak” (Mass Appeal Records LLC) (David Proctor)
Halsey – “Now or Never” (Astralwerks/Capitol) (Kristof Brandl)

Best Direction

Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) (Dave Meyers & the little homies)
Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley – “Chained To The Rhythm” (Capitol Records) (Mathew Cullen)
Bruno Mars – “24K Magic” (Atlantic Records)  (Cameron Duddy & Bruno Mars)
Alessia Cara – “Scars To Your Beautiful” (Def Jam) (Aaron A)
The Weeknd – “Reminder” (XO/Republic Records) (Glenn Michael)

Best Art Direction

Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) (Spencer Graves)
Bruno Mars – “24K Magic” (Atlantic Records) (Alex Delgado)
Katy Perry ft. Migos – “Bon Appetit” (Capitol Records) (Natalie Groce)
DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller – “Wild Thoughts” (Epic Records/We The Best) (Damian Fyffe)
The Weeknd – “Reminder” (XO/Republic Records) (Creative Director: Lamar C Taylor / Co-creative Director: Christo Anesti)

Best Visual Effects

Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) (Company: Timber/Lead: Jonah Hall)
A Tribe Called Quest – “Dis Generation” (Epic Records) (Company: Bemo/Lead: Brandon Hirzel)
KYLE ft. Lil Yachty – “iSpy” (Atlantic Records) (Company: Gloria FX/Leads: Max Colt & Tomash Kuzmytskyi)
Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley – “Chained To The Rhythm” (Capitol Records) (Company: MIRADA)
Harry Styles – “Sign Of The Times” (Columbia Records) (Company: ONE MORE/Lead: Cédric Nivoliez)

Best Choreography

Kanye West – “Fade” (Def Jam) (Teyana Taylor, Guapo, Jae Blaze & Derek ‘Bentley’ Watkins)
Ariana Grande ft. Nicki Minaj – “Side To Side” (Republic Records) (Brian & Scott Nicholson)
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope)  (Dave Meyers)
Sia – “The Greatest” (Monkey Puzzle Records/RCA Records) (Ryan Heffington)
Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane – “Down” (Syco Music/Epic Records) (Sean Bankhead)

Best Editing

Future – “Mask Off” (Epic Records/Freebandz/A1) (Vinnie Hobbs of VHPost)
Young Thug – “Wyclef Jean” (300 Entertainment/Atlantic Records) (Ryan Staake & Eric Degliomini)
Lorde – “Green Light” (Republic Records) (Nate Gross of Exile Edit)
The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – “Closer” (Disruptor Records/Columbia Records) (Jennifer Kennedy)
The Weeknd – “Reminder” (XO/Republic Records) (Red Barbaza)

Control multiple devices with Electro-Harmonix’s new Dual Expression pedal

Electro-Harmonix have unveiled a new expression pedal just one week after announcing their very first.

Electro-Harmonix’s new ‘Dual Expression’ pedal is an expression pedal that – surprise surprise – lets you control multiple devices at the same time. The pedal uses Electro-Harmonix’s advanced polymer construction for a strong, capable build with a price tag for everyone.

The Dual Expression Pedal’s dual-output design gives hands-free control of two devices from a single source. Each expression output has independent range and reverse plus a polarity switch for maximum compatibility with a wide range of gear. Two six-foot TRS cables are included.

The DEP features:

  • Dual-output design
  • Both EXP outputs have independent range and reverse. These are important features competitors leave out and definitely affect the pedal’s usability.
  • Both EXP outputs feature a polarity switch for maximum compatibility with the widest range of gear. This is an essential feature and competitors only provide a single polarity switch for one of their pedal’s outputs.
  • Very affordable, rugged reliable
  • Comes equipped with two TRS cables

The Electro-Harmonix Dual Expression Pedal doesn’t yet have a release date but it’s expected to drop soon with a US street price of $72.70.

The last major label, Warner, is close to a deal with Spotify

After over a year of uncertainty between labels and the music streaming champion, Spotify look ready to close deals with the last major label.

Earlier this year Spotify made their first deal with a major label since their original contracts expired. Their contract with Universal gave Spotify more chance to make profit by slightly reducing their royalties. In return Spotify will “window” certain new releases, making them exclusive to paying Premium subscribers.

Then earlier this month it was revealed that Sony were in talks with Spotify to come to their own conclusive deal. Now the last of “The Big 3” are also reported, by four sources to Reuters, to be in talks with Spotify to come to a licensing deal for their massive catalogue of music being streamed on the platform.

Details of the deal are still limited and from the sources it seems like it depends on how both parties react to the current terms whether we see an agreement sooner rather than later. It is thought that both Sony and Warner will likely be looking to sign similar deals to Universal’s, windowing releases to maintain their value when newly released.

One of the sources said to Reuters: “The negotiations are at a crossroads. There are still a number of key points that remain to be agreed. If we manage to come to terms on these points, then it could lead to a very quick transaction. If not, any deal would remain at bay.”

Spotify have been planning an IPO for a long time but have been waiting for the best time, as the company continues to increase losses year on year despite massive growth in recent years. With deals with the 3 major record labels on the horizon, Spotify will no doubt be looking to launch their IPO fairly soon. That’s hoping talks with the last 2 labels goes well…

BBC step up to replace Glastonbury as the festival takes a hiatus

The BBC are stepping up to fill the Glastonbury-shaped hole in 2018 as the festival takes a break for fallow.

Glastonbury announced earlier this year that they would be taking a break for a year to allow the festival site to recover and be reborn out of the mud, its first chance to rest since 2012. With a giant gap in live British music next year the BBC have stepped up to the plate and are planning to hold 4 giant events across the UK.

An expansion of the BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, they will be holding the ‘Biggest Weekend’ at locations in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. 175,000 tickets will be made available for the massive event which will take place next May on the bank holiday weekend, 25th-28th.

It hasn’t been revealed where in each country the festival will take place nor which acts will play, but you can bet it will be a range of massive artists. Whilst BBC’s events normally feature one or two of their popular radio platforms presenting music, the Biggest Weekend will feature concerts from Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3 and 6 Music.

Glastonbury after wreckage abandoned rubbish
With increasing crowds, Glastonbury’s aftermath is hard for the fields to recover from

The director of BBC Radio and Music, Bob Shennan, says this will be the BBC’s biggest music event ever, saying: “BBC Music has a strong history of bringing the nation together for some special moments, and this is the biggest single music event ever attempted by the BBC. We will be celebrating the diversity of music from four different corners of the country, bringing the best UK music to the world and the best global music to the UK.”

The festival will be covered by the BBC’s TV channels BBC2 and BBC4, as well as rolling coverage featured online on the BBC site. And speaking of TV – the festival is part of a new, larger commitment to music from the corporation who have also recently announce their first music-focused programme since Top of the Pops ended over 11 years ago. The program will broadcast 6 episodes this summer with interviews, comedy sketches and, of course, live performances.