Get 16,000 of the BBC’s sound effect samples for free

As you can imagine the BBC have a massive collection of sound effects for use in all of their shows, now they’re free for you to download and do anything you like with.

The BBC are releasing 16,000 samples to everyone for free WAV download out of their giant library of sound effects. They are releasing them under a RemArc license which means that they can be downloaded and uses for “personal, educational or research purposes”.

The archive is available on their website and can be easily searched by keywords to look for the sounds you’re after. There is a massive variety to the samples, as you can imagine with 16,000 of them, ranging from simple sounds of the sea to parrots talking to a creepy doll saying ‘Mama’ over and over again for a minute. You’re sure to find something interesting you can use.

The samples range from anywhere to the past year to nearly 100 years ago so you can even access some archaic, archive sounds from the BBC. You can play any of the sound effect samples on your page and download them all individually for free.

The website is currently in beta and unfortunately doesn’t seem to work very well at all. It’s slow to load, hard to access and once you do it’s luck whether the samples will play or download but hopefully the BBC will work on making the site usable as this could be a great resource for musicians, filmmakers, and beyond.

If you have a minute for it to load, you can check out the giant list of samples here: bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk

Spotify coming to 1.3 billion people launching in India soon

Spotify are preparing to launch in India bringing the world’s biggest streaming service to the world’s biggest country at a prime time. 

It’s not long until Spotify make their long-awaited launch in India. Last month during their annual presentation, Daniel Ek said: “We are working on launching in some of the biggest markets in the world, places like India, Russia, and Africa which has a very rich musical culture.”

The music streaming leaders will be entering their biggest territory yet but it’s also home to many of their Western rivals and India has a strong presence of it’s own established music streamers. India’s own Saavn is the country’s top streamer and has established partnerships with Amazon as well as recently partnering with another big Indian streamer, JioMusic, which gives them a massive precedent over other streamers in the country.

Spotify’s influence and well built service could convert people over from Saavn and Western streamers like Google Play Music and Amazon which have launched there already. Whilst Spotify may be late to the party in India their country is still rife with piracy and have very few people on streaming services, though that is slowly changing as they catch up to legally provided digital music.

Spotify could find a big audience via their smartphone apps offering unlimited music streaming on the go. India have embraced Smartphones massively and are now the second-largest smartphone market in the world. Thanks to this there is a massive audience for on-the-go services, and Spotify could take advantage of that to get people listening on their phones.

Spotify already have a significant lead on rival streaming services with 70 million subscribers and then even more listening on Freemium. There is a massive potential audience for them in India however setting themselves apart from the crowd will be hard, especially with the number of established music services in India already. As the country wakes up more to the streaming revolution and moves away from piracy Spotify should be able to make a mark.

Over 100 million people now have Amazon Prime Music

Amazon have revealed how many Prime members they have for the first time ever and it is a lot of people.

Jeff Bezos released his annual shareholders letter yesterday and in it he divulged how many people are subscribed to Amazon Prime for the first time in the 13 years they’ve offered it. The number of members currently paying for an Amazon Prime subscription is over 100 million, meaning that over 100 million people around the world are also subscribed to Amazon Prime Music – Amazon’s stripped back music streaming service packaged with Prime.

Amazon have never revealed numbers for Prime membership before though analysts have tried to gauge how many people could be subscribed to the popular package which offers next-day delivery, exclusive products, Prime Music, Prime Video their TV and film streaming service and more. Now analysts can stop scratching their heads, or at least less so as we still don’t know exactly how many Prime Members there are and it could be a while again until Bezos talks on it.

Bezos says that 2017 was Prime’s best year yet with more new members joining than ever before. He writes: “Prime Day 2017 was our biggest global shopping event ever (until surpassed by Cuber Monday), with more new Prime members joining Prime than any other day in our history.”

He also briefly mentions music but emphasises their standalone streaming service launched 2 years ago, Amazon Music Unlimited and it’s planned expansion. Bezos writes: “Amazon Music continues to grow fast and now has tens of millions of paid customers. Amazon Music Unlimited, our on-demand, ad-free offering, expanded to more than 30 new countries in 2017, and membership has more than doubled over the past six months.”

Although Amazon haven’t signified changing the status of Amazon Prime Music, they are clearly prioritising Amazon Music Unlimited. Whilst Amazon Prime Music has a lot of subscribers technically it’s never been clear just how many people actually use Prime Music and the service is far more restricted compared to the Spotify-like Music Unlimited.

Spotify mobile gets a makeover and on-demand listening for free users

Some changes could be coming to free listeners on Spotify with a new look expected and on-demand music streaming on mobiles.

According to recent reports Spotify are giving free users a little bit extra soon. Listeners on the mobile app will know that playing albums and playlists is restricted to a shuffle mode so you can’t pick whatever you like – but that could be changing.

It seems that Spotify have made a number of playlists available to play on mobile devices completely on demand. This means that listeners can select any song from the playlist that they want to listen to and then listen to the rest of the playlist in any order they like. Now playlists that can only be played in shuffle mode are marked with a blue shuffle logo.

The rest of the app has gotten a redesign with a cleaner interface and more emphasis on visuals like artwork. The ‘Browse’ section has been removed from the nav-bar and integrated into the Search section which shows colourful boxes of moods for jumping straight into a playlist with sneak peeks of the tracks inside for an instant look at what you’re jumping into.

The Radio button has also seemingly been disappeared though Verge reports that they can’t find the function anywhere else in the app, so it may have been removed fully rather than relocated. New to the nav-bar is a Premium button so that free users are always just one click away from upgrading to ad-free, unlimited streaming.

These changes are expected to take effect next week with flyers for Spotify’s April 24th event promising changes to the Spotify mobile app. Spotify have yet to confirm the modifications that are going to be made to the Spotify free tier on mobile devices. Regardless if all of these leaks are true it seems that voice searching, which Spotify are reportedly testing to use in their search on their mobile apps and potentially their own smart speaker, will not be included in the big Spotify app overhaul.

Independent artists are taking over as global music grows $1.4 billion

Streaming continues to revitalise the music industry as new reports show one-and-a-half billion dollars of growth globally last year alone.

The latest report from Midia Research shows a monumental year of growth for the worldwide music industry last year. Global recorded music revenues in 2017 reached $17.4 billion, up from $16 billion in 2016 which represents 8.5% of annual growth and $1.4 billion for the year.

This continues a trend of continuous growth within the music industry in recent years, aided massively by the giant rise in music streaming. This resurgence in music revenues follows around 20 years of declines in profits but with last years growth music industry revenues are just slightly below where they were 10 years ago in 2008 ($17.7 billion).

Midia’s report show that streaming is growing 39% year-on-year, adding a whopping $2.1 billion in revenues for a total of $7.4 billion in streaming revenues worldwide. Streaming revenue is so large that it now makes up almost half of the total industry revenues, representing 43% of the global industry’s earnings.

On the other hand physical music (ie. CDs) and digital download sales have been dropping, with a decline of $783 million in 2017. Fortunately the success of music streaming is heavily offsetting that reduction. Whilst CDs continue to plummet not all physical music is in dire straits as vinyl record sales continue to soar upwards as the format finds new life in collectors and hipsters alike – and genuine music lovers too.

Independent Artists Reign

Our favourite section of the report shows that label-less music is booming. Independent music was the fastest growing section of the music industry with 27.2% year-on-year growth for music going directly through distributors like RouteNote and independent platforms like Bandcamp. Revenues for artists without a label representing/managing them have been properly included for the first time in a global recorded music revenues report as their collective earnings now stand at almost half a billion dollars.

For 2017 independent labels and artists represented 30.3% of the global recorded music revenues. Whilst major labels still have a strong grip on the industry, more and more people are realising the opportunities available without a big record label. We can see in pop culture today the dramatic difference in how artists are getting famous and releasing their music, whereas just 10-20 years ago you’d be unlikely to hear of anyone not signed to a major without going underground.

Independent music is making it’s mark, and you can too by getting your music on to all the top stores and streaming services online completely for free – and no-one takes ownership over your music but you.

Find out more at www.routenote.com.

Never miss a track with Deezer’s new SongCatcher

When you’re vibing to a track and need to add it to your library but you don’t know what it is, Deezer have you covered.

In case you missed it, and at the end of last year Deezer launched SongCatcher, a Shazam-type tool so that you can always know what you’re listening to. Let Deezer listen to the tunes and it will let you know what it is and then you can add it straight into your library, favourite it, and add it to any of your playlists.

Deezer SongCatcher is available only on the Deezer app for Android. All you have to do to use it is open up your search tab and then let it listen to find out what’s playing so you can come back and listen to it as much as you like.

If you ever find yourself asking what that song is then just flip your Deezer app up on your Android and add it straight to your library.

An anonymous donor just gave KEXP radio $10 million after dying

KEXP radio station just received what is thought to be the largest legacy donation to one station in public radio history.

An anonymous donor has just bequeathed the largest donation to an individual radio station, as far as we know, ever. We only know her name was Suzanne and that she loved music, so much so that after her death she has donated just less than $10 million to Seattle radio station KEXP, who’ve gained worldwide notoriety for their live sessions online.

KEXP’s director of development, Betsy Troutman was called to Suzanne’s attorney’s office to be told about the donation – Troutman and Suzanne appear to have known each other, Troutman says that Suzanne donated to them on and off from 2010. Troutman said: “It’s pretty intense. I was shocked and started crying. The thought that she would do this is mind-blowing to me.”

She continued: “[Suzanne] had shared with me once or twice, kind of casually, that she had made plans for KEXP in her estate. But she was young and I said, ‘Oh, that’s amazing. Thank you very much.’ I didn’t think that it would come when I was here.” She says the donation is “transformational. It changes our whole landscape. I still get goose bumps every time I think about it”.

KEXP will hold the majority of the money in a long term reserve which they will use to help fund educational programs. Their programs will be “aimed at inspiring younger audiences to engage their curiosity around music; services and programming for emerging artists; media-creation experiences for aspiring DJs and music journalists, and outreach activities aimed at deepening KEXP’s connections to local communities”.

Some of the money will also be used to fund and evolve KEXP’s digital content and improve their radio services in general. The new investment has led to the creation of ‘The Reverb Society’, a “giving club” that allows donors to KEXP to include the station in their estate.

KEXP executive director, Tom Mara says Suzanne’s legacy will live through KEXP and the enhancements her donation will bring. Mara says: “Once you feel the stun from this, then you begin to realise that Suzanne is going to be here for decades to come. But that gets married with a higher level of seriousness. These dollars have to be stewarded well and managed in the most effective way to make an impact. We’re trying to honour her spirit by applying those funds to directly supporting artists as well.”

Suzanne was well known around the station despite requesting to remain anonymous for her donation. Mara says that when their new station was under construction he showed her around and told her to sign a piece of drywall with a Sharpie. “She said ‘No,’ but gracefully,” says Mara but eventually she gave in. “And now we get to walk around with her name, literally, in the building.”

Hi-res streamers Qobuz set their sights for the US as they name new CEO

European based music streamers Qobuz are setting sail for the Americas as they expand under new management.

High resolution music streaming service Qobuz are set to launch their services in the US this summer, expanding them beyond Europe. They will make their voyage across the North Atlantic ocean will be lead by newly named CEO Yann Miossec, who most recently served as EVP of Warner Music France for 12 years.

Qobuz president Denis Thebaud said: “Yann is a digital music visionary and a well-regarded industry statesman. Qobuz is entering a very exciting phase. With his keen business sense and music-industry experience, Yann Miossec is the best individual to successfully lead us through these crucial endeavours.”

Thebaud also talks on the future of Qobuz, including a possible IPO, saying: “In addition to our planned U.S. launch, the recent listing of Spotify on the New York Stock Exchange shows that the market is becoming more mature. The market is becoming segmented which widens the opportunity for specialised players with a strong music presence and personality – like Qobuz. After our third round of fundraising ends in June, we too will likely begin considering our own IPO.”

Miossec himself said of his new position: “Working with this brand, promoting its projects, is my dream challenge. I look forward to joining these talented, creative individuals in further developing Qobuz’s presence around the world.”

Listen to iHeartRadio’s playlists free now with new stations

iHeartRadio are blurring the lines between their free streaming radio service and their paid, premium playlist playing option.

iHeartRadio’s Premium playlists are getting their own radio stations so that free users can get a taste of the Premium life. iHeartRadio is known for offering free streaming of thousands of radio stations live on AM and FM broadcast as well as a Pandora-like feature that lets you create your own custom stations.

Their Premium offering allows listeners to pay to listen to proper, curated playlists which users can edit, re-queue, and even play songs in it on demand. With Playlist Radio the two offerings are combined with the stations playing a curated selection of music selected by radio DJs and iHeartRadio staff.

iHeartRadio’s chief product officer, Chris Williams said: “One of the things we’re most excited about and the area where I feel like we really excel is in music curation. We have some of the greatest music curators on the planet within iHeartRadio. We have the best radio programmers, music directors, and program directors who are out there curating every single day for their radio stations. So we tapped into the resources that we had there, as well as finding some external expertise.

“I think it’s exposing a great listening experience to our existing free users, and offering them up a listening opportunity that doesn’t exist on the free tier right now. I think what radio does a brilliant job at is programming formatically. And I think what Playlist Radio does a great job of offering listening occasions that are thematic,” Williams continued.

Control over the playlist will be limited as it is usually for free users with the ability to skip up to 6 songs in the playlist every hour, but no more. Nor will free users be able to freely play and re-arrange tracks in the playlist. But they will still gain access to 1,000 new playlists (technically stations) including artist-created, genre-based, activity-focused, music era-focused, and theme-based playlists. Some playlists won’t be included as they have too few songs to be played as a radio.

Most of the playlists will also be refreshed each week where it makes sense for them to be updated. Free users can start streaming playlist stations on iHeartRadio now, whereas those paying for iHeartRadio Plus or All Access, their unlimited music streaming tier, can listen to them as usual.

These gloves could change how we perform music

Since we discovered rhythm and learned tone we’ve been playing instruments with our hands, but what if our hands were our instruments.

English musician and engineer Imogen Heap has been showing off her new gloves which transform how you play music. Her incredible Mi.Mu gloves use hand gestures and movement to control and effect sounds using electronic sensors .

Heap began developing the Mi.Mu gloves in “her search for a better relationship with the music software and hardware that forms her musical toolbox”. In 2010 Heap began her search for a team that could help her realise her idea of musical gloves with an inspiring TEDGlobal talk and today she has a diverse team of engineers, artists, and designers working on Mi.Mu.

The inspiration from their design came from live performance and particularly Imogen Heap’s writing and performance when playing live. Taking the power of sliders, faders, and knobs and putting them, literally, in your hands so that with a fluid motion you can manipulate sounds. The developers describe the gloves as “an instrument and controller fit for professional musicians, ready to make complex, beautiful and engaging music”.

The gloves have been used by film composers, visual artists, mixing engineers, theatre practitioners and other performing musicians. Worldwide pop star Ariana Grande even performed with Mi.Mu gloves on her world tour in 2015, you can see her using the effect controls and a looping feature which she activates by grabbing forward.

Heap says: “The minute somebody puts their hands in them, they’re starting to think creatively about them. I’m really happy that you’re going to see what they’re up to. I can make music on the move, in the flow and more humanly, more naturally engage with my computer software and technology.”

Heap and the Mi.Mu team tried to gain funding for their expressive musical gloves in 2014 but only managed to raise just over half of their £200,000 target. The team are still pushing forward regardless and are showing up at more and more musical events, showcases, festivals and in the hands of more and more creators and performers.

You can find out more about Mi.Mu gloves on their website: mimugloves.com