Bluesound update their NODE and POWERNODE wireless, multi-room, hi-res music streamers

Image Credit: Bluesound

Bluesound have announced replacements for their NODE 2i and POWERNODE 2i, with updated designs, controls, DACs, processors and more.

Much like Sonos, Bluesound design wireless multi-room speakers and components for music streaming, with a particular emphasis on hi-res audio. The updated NODE and POWERNODE drop the 2i suffix. Capable of streaming 24-bit/192kHz and MQA audio, Bluesound NODE and POWERNODE are the perfect modern addition to your existing HiFi system. NODE and POWERNODE bring access to hundreds of internet radio stations, your own digital music library, and hi-res music streaming services such as Spotify HiFi and Apple Music. NODE and POWERNODE are essentially the same, however POWERNODE adds 2 x 80 watts HybridDigital amplification technology for passive speakers, in an impressively compact exterior.

NODE and POWERNODE pack a Quad-Core 1.8GHz ARM Cortex A53 processor and a 32-bit/384kHz premium DAC design. The front of each has a 3.5mm jack for hooking up a pair of wired headphones. Around the rear, each has a decent amount of I/O, with HDMI eARC connectivity, subwoofer output, mini TOSLINK/3.5mm input, USB-A port for external drives and Gigabit Ethernet. On the NODE you’ll find analog stereo RCA, coaxial RCA and TOSLINK digital optical outputs, while the POWERNODE has 5-way binding post speaker terminals. You can also connect up a pair of wireless headphones via 2-way aptX HD Bluetooth. For a wire-free setup, dual-band Wi-Fi will connect to your network.

Control Bluesound’s NODE and POWERNODE via the BluOS Controller app on iOS, Android, Mac and PC. Here you can create and control a seamless multi-room system with other Bluesound speakers throughout the home. You’ll also find powerful software features to customize your listening preferences in detail, such as tone controls, fixed volume output, subwoofer crossover optimization and settings to enhance external DAC connections.

Futher control is managed through the updated top panel touch controls, with buttons for play/pause, track skipping, volume and presets for one touch shortcuts to your favourite music or station. A built-in IR sensor means you can use your own remote or the optional $59 Bluesound RC1 Remote Controller. Voice control is a new addition the NODE and POWERNODE, with support for Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant. Alternatively, use AirPlay 2 to beam music to the streamer.

Image Credit: Bluesound

Available in Black or White, NODE is $549, with pre-orders open today on Amazon and shipping starts on June 7th. Also available to order today in Black or White, POWERNODE is $899, with the same shipping date listed.

5 ways to hook listeners with a great song intro

What’s the best way to start to a song? We explore how to write a catchy song introduction, with music production techniques to stop people skipping your track.

Music fans have less patience than ever before. Research shows that a listener on a streaming platform like Spotify will hit skip on a song before even 30 seconds has passed if they’re not immediately entranced.

Whilst a gloomy fact, no doubt that has as much to do with personal preference as with the sheer amount of music being released each day – there’s only so many songs one person can give their full attention to, and there’s too much great new music around to stick with something you’re just not that into.

But how do you make sure your track doesn’t get skipped? Write a killer song intro, of course.

There are neat music production techniques that you can use to hook the listener, gaining their full attention quickly at the beginning of the track and keeping it until the end. Here are five examples of the best way to start a song.

Go straight in with the chorus

A big, catchy chorus is the gooey chocolatey centre of the cake, so why wait to reveal it? Hook the listener in by hitting them right between the ears with it from the word go. The Beach Boy’s “I Get Around” opens straight away with the main refrain.

Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl” begins with the super-catchy chorus, leaving you waiting eagerly for it to come back around again.

Start with a fat riff

Some of the catchiest song introductions of all time open with the central riff; think synth classics “Jump” by Van Halen and “Just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode. Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” is a masterclass at building suspense with a simple, beefy riff that gets your head bobbing.

The most-streamed song on Spotify, “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran, starts off determinedly out the gate with that irritatingly catchy lead line.

Treat the intro as a preview of what’s to come

Try taking a few tantalising instrumental lines or reversing a drumbeat for the first couple of bars of your song. The listener will be intrigued, and when the sampled elements return later, the ear will latch onto the familiar notes. “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears for Fears begins with the twinkling synth, rolling guitar line and a single held vocal note that later triumphantly repeats.

The Weeknd’s “Blinded By The Light”, the second-most streamed track on Spotify, starts with an eerie remix of the main riff before it properly kicks in for the first time.

Get weird

Nobody said a song has to start with any notes or beats whatsoever. Try drawing attention by using sound effects. Pink Floyd’s “Money” aptly opens with the sound of a cash drawer.

Great intros have been known to start with a guttural cry, as in the Libertines’ “Up The Bracket” or “Cry Baby” by Janis Joplin, or the triumphant “WHOA!” that begins James Brown’s “I Feel Good.”

The dorky vocal effect at the beginning of The Offspring’s “Pretty Fly For a White Guy” sets the mocking tone of the song, as well as pricking up listener’s ears.

Stay simple

Try starting your song with just a couple of elements, like just the vocal or a drumbeat, before building up the instrumental parts, making the listener curious as to what’s coming next. Blur’s “Song 2” begins with an intriguing tick-tocking drumbeat, whilst “Everlong” by Foo Fighters leads in with a quiet guitar before the rest of the band gradually enter. The piano note at the beginning of My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” builds more drama by being hauntingly simple.

The irresistible “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire assembles part by part before the horns hit.

The dominance of social media and the age of streaming means long artistic intros are out. With TikTok’s influence on the music charts right now, it’s more and more common for producers to start a song with a hook, hoping to attract use in social media content and spark a trend.

Listeners are likely to skip when a song is unfamiliar and they’re feeling particularly fickle. How you produce your track’s introduction depends on the style of music you’re making, but if you’re eyeing playlist adds and a high play count it pays to think cynically about how to start a song.

But as the above examples show, there’s no one successful way to write a song intro. Feeling lost? The best route is to listen to as much music as possible to get inspired, and analyse the parts you have already written, to see what elements might work best to announce the arrival of your track.

Got that intro nailed and your song mixed and mastered to perfection? RouteNote can get your song on all the major stores streaming platforms and stores, so that you can start making money from music. The best part is, it’s completely free. Find out more and sign up today here.

YouTube Music control could be coming to the plain YouTube app

Image Credit: 9to5Google

Apparently a lot of YouTube Premium members aren’t making use of their YouTube Music access, so Google are testing.

YouTube viewers who have signed up to an ad-free experience with YouTube Premium also have access to their on-demand music streaming platform. YouTube Music has a huge catalogue of over 60 million tracks including exclusive content like demos and live videos – but a lot of people just aren’t that into it.

Or perhaps they don’t know it’s there, or maybe they don’t care for switching between the different apps. Whatever the case, Google want Premium subscribers to start making use of their YouTube Music access and they’re testing features that will allow users to make the most of their subscription in one place.

9to5Google noticed the changes which offer music listening controls similar to the Music app but in the main YouTube app. It’s a very limited test as other publications haven’t been able to recreate the features. 9to5Google report that it’s only been found on iOS.

The features in question show an overlay on music content saying ‘Show listening controls’. Clicking on it will bring up controls similar to the YouTube Music app’s player with pause, save, song skipping functions and more. 9to5Google report it also works when casting to speakers.

As a test there is no confirmation whether these features will be coming as a standard for YouTube apps any time soon. It’s no surprise that YouTube want to maximise the use of their features, particularly as a lot of Premium subscribers might be going elsewhere for their music but might be enticed with a seamless flow between YouTube content and music.

Spotify introduce three new ways for artists and fans to share music and podcasts on social media

Spotify globally update their iOS and Android apps to make it easier than ever to share your favourite track or podcast episode.

Over the past decade, social media has played an important part in artists’ promotional strategy to ensure organic growth. Fans too rely on social media to find their next favourite song. According to a survey of Spotify users, around 40% of music discovery is attributed to social channels. At no point has this been more prevalent than in the past year, where the pandemic has pushed us apart, but music and social media has kept connections between friends, families and fans alive.

Just in the past year, Spotify have made numerous changes to how artists and fans share music on the music streaming service, such as Group Sessions and Collaborative Playlists. Spotify’s latest update hopes to improve this experience for artists and fans around the world.

1. You’ve gotta hear this part: New podcast timestamp sharing

Starting today, Spotify users will be able to share a particular moment from a podcast episode using timestamp sharing. If you hear a moment in a show that your think your friend will love, simply tap the share icon while listening, then toggle the “Share from …” switch, before choosing your social platform of choice. Those receiving will only need to tap the link to jump straight to your favourite part.

Video Credit: Spotify

2. Going places: Canvas comes to even more platforms

Spotify Canvas turns regular album art into a new listening experience with looping video-art. In addition to being able to share the moving graphics from your favourite song to Instagram Stories, Spotify are adding this ability to Snapchat.

3. Sharing made simple: Canvas previews and a new clear layout

Finally, Spotify have also updated the sharing menu on the mobile app. The menu provides listeners with a clearer grid layout showing available messaging and social media destinations, that are dynamically populated based on the apps you have installed. Once you’ve chosen an app to share to, you can preview your social media post, such as visualizing how the Canvas will be presented on Instagram Stories or Snapchat.

How To Add Your Own Music To Spotify

So, you’ve got your music recorded and finalised and now you’re probably thinking “how do I add my music to Spotify”, let us help you!

Once you have your music recorded and ready to go you’re going to want to add it to the main streaming services, such as Spotify. Thankfully, RouteNote is here to help and distribute your music to Spotify for FREE.

If you’re wanting to make money from your music and increase your audience then it is essential you have your music on Spotify, one of the largest platforms available today. 

Here’s how you can upload your music to Spotify with RouteNote

  1. Create a RouteNote account and upload your music, this can be a single, EP, or album. Set a release date and we’ll make sure everything is in order, such as artwork and ensuring it is not offensive.
  2. Once your music is approved by us it will then be processed by Spotify, this usually takes 48 hours. You should, after this time expect to see your music in your Spotify for Artists account. If you don’t have one you can create one here.
  3. Sit back, relax and watch your music be heard by a massive global audience, and make money. All of this service is provided free by RouteNote, and we only take 15% of your royalties. 

It’s that simple, quick, and easy when you distribute with RouteNote. You can rest easy knowing your music is being looked after by a dedicated, passionate team who cares about your releases. 

Sony Music Publishing Takes Publisher Of The Year At BMI’s 2021

Image credit: BMI

Sony Music Publishing takes home publisher of the year at the BMI’s for the fourth consecutive year.

BMI has revealed the winners for its 2021 awards ceremony with Sony Music Publishing taking home best publisher of the year, whilst many of its artists also took home awards. 

Sony Music Publishing accepted BMI’s Publisher of the Year award for the fourth consecutive year, maintaining its lead with a total of 24 top-performing songs. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the award was accepted virtually by Sony Music Publishing’s Chairman and CEO Jon Platt, along with Nashville CEO Rusty Gaston, and other leading board members. 

Artists such as Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and Beabadoobee lead the way for a memorable quarantine year of music. Sony Music Publishing songwriters also took away awards including Zach Kale, Wayne Coyne, and many more. 

Twitter’s Tip Jar lets people get paid for their best Tweets

Image Credit: Souvik Banerjee

Tip Jar is a way for people on Twitter to easily give other users money as a reward for their good content, and musicians can benefit via Bandcamp.

All Twitter users have seen the customary “I don’t have a SoundCloud but…” after someone’s viral tweet, followed by a request for monetary contribution – offering a way to show appreciation beyond likes and retweets. Now, as a neater alternative, Twitter has added a Tip Jar feature directly onto the platform.

Users can now display their gratitude for a well-researched thread or hilarious tweet by giving money to the creator through an integrated feature on the app. Everyone using Twitter in English can send tips but setting up a Tip Jar is initially only available for select users, who can add certain payment services and platforms for donations. So far the services available at launch include Bandcamp, Patreon, and PayPal among others.

Image Credit: Twitter

The Tip Jar icon appears at the top of the user’s profile next to the follow button. Other users just tap the icon and select a payment service. Android users can also send tips within the recently launched Spaces area of the app. The easily accessible feature could prompt more spontaneous contributions from users, and makes things easier for creators who no longer have to send out links every time they’d like to ask for a donation.

Image Credit: Twitter

Tip Jar will roll out to more languages and more users beyond the initial “creators, journalists, experts, and nonprofits” approved at launch. Twitter said it’s the first step in their work to “create new ways for people to receive and show support on Twitter – with money.”

The addition of Bandcamp as a payment platform is certainly a step forward for musicians, producers and bands looking to make a bit of money from their presence on Twitter. A further positive push would be for the platform to license music, so that video clips using music can generate revenue for the artist. Currently there’s no equivalent of YouTube or Facebook’s Content ID on the platform to ensure that rights holders get the money they deserve.

Introducing Kwettr, a DIY Music Marketing Platform For The Music Industry

Image credit: Kwettr

Kwetter is an online marketing company that specialises in messaging tools for social media, smart marketing and data analytics.

In the modern world as an independent musician or label you need to be prepared to balance many plates, one said plate is marketing. However, selling your own art is a difficult and time-consuming task, taking you away from the day to days of a musical or a label. Thankfully, thanks to the internet, there are plenty of tools out there to help you. 

Having a solid marketing plan, engagement stream, and strong fanbase has never been more important for artists and labels alike. Especially in the last few years where content and social media have exploded. Remember content is king. 

The pandemic blew this wide open as well, as touring and live performances were put on hiatus most if not all turned to the internet. Those artists that had an established presence dominated and many found new success due to an increase in time spent marketing.

However, being able to track and manage this can be a monumental task, this is where tools such as Kwettr come in. Originally starting as a boutique marketing agency they have now transformed into an easy-to-use platform. The company is based in Breda, The Netherlands, and was created by Bas Kruijssen (New Media & Marketing Manager Black Hole Recordings) and Arny Bink (co-founder Black Hole Recordings). Together they have over 20 years of experience in the industry and extensive marketing knowledge. 

The main goal of Kwettr is to improve the artist/fan relationship in an innovative way by providing a set of tools for artists and labels to promote their music using AI and intelligent data analysis. 

Speaking on the platform Kruijssen explained: “Our new platform enables artists and record labels to reward their loyal fans with exclusive content, create smart messaging tools for social media and above all gain valuable insights in their marketing efforts.” Adding: “We listened to the growing demand for affordable ways to market music. Instead of hiring expensive tech- and marketing companies to create tools, we made a platform that enables artists to make these tools themselves. Saving them time and money.”

Kwettr offers a wide range of utilities that have been adapted to artists at different stages of their career and genre. They boast Beatport, Paul Oakenfold, Paul Van Dyk, Universal Music Group, and many more as clients. 

Here is what Kwettr offers:

Unlock Tools: 8 Different Unlock Tools, varying from Social Unlocks, Referral Hacks, Remix Competitions, Games and Puzzles. 

Direct Message Campaigns: You can send personalised, direct messages to fans. Advertising new releases, tours, and merch. 

Spotify Marketing: Kwettr claims to guarantee playlist features on user-generated playlists no matter the genre.

Influencer Marketing: Collect data on influencers, backlinks and social stats, as well as contact influencers directly. 

Kwettr App: Have your music featured in the Kwettr App which will reach a global audience. You can also use geo-tracking to offer exclusive content to fans worldwide. 

Smart Landing Page: Create your own landing page or personalised profile to lead customers to buy, stream or unlock content. 

Reports: Kwettr generates reports of social media channels, which means you can track your posts and change your strategy based on important numerical data.

Analyses: Seo analysis, which will improve website performance.  

There is of course a cost for all of this, but having access to a  tool like this could make all the difference to your music career. Remember, in today’s world it’s not just the music, for better or worse you need to become a salesperson too. Thankfully, tools like Kwettr exists to help and make this easier for you. 

NHS Trial Prescribing Music To Alzheimer’s Patients

Image credit: Henry Be

Recent research has found that playlists based on listeners backgrounds and tastes lowers heart rate, agitation, and distress.

Trials are underway at an NHS trust to see if an algorithm can curate music playlists to reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s patients as well as reduce stress for medical staff.

A recent test among people with dementia found an algorithm that “prescribes” songs based on the listeners’ backgrounds and tastes resulted in a reduction in heart rate of up to 22%. In some cases, it lowered agitation and distress. 

This technology is also now being tested on the medical staff who worked in critical care during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to see if it eases anxiety and stress. There are also plans to test it on recovering critical care patients, needle-phobic children, and outpatients coping with chronic pain, the aim is to lower opiate prescriptions. 

Music is curated around the listener, so for example someone in their 90’s will be played big band music whilst a person in their 50’s would be played The Beatles or Stevie Wonder. 

The algorithm, which is linked to a streaming service like Spotify, changes the music if the prescription doesn’t appear to be working. Its artificial intelligence system assesses the DNA of songs, examines 36 different qualities including tempo, timbre, key, time signatures, the amount of syncopation, and the lowest notes. According to Gary Jones, the chief executive of MediMusic, the company behind the software, said that these factors shape the listener’s heart rate and blood pressure response to the music. 

The trial has been conducted on 25 people with Alzheimer’s aged from their 60’s, to their 90’s at the Lancashire NHS trust and has shown promising results. 

Dr. Jacqueline Twamley, academic research and innovation manager commented: “There has been an up to 22% reduction in heart rates in these patients.” Adding: “Some people it doesn’t affect the heart rate at all, but you can see the effect in their facial expressions and in them tapping along. One patient burst out crying. He said the song brought back happy memories and they were happy tears.”

The algorithm is aware that some tracks can be upsetting too, and such will flag certain tracks for the user. The listener is also able to add their own red flags so that they don’t hear music that would be stressful or upsetting. 

The technology aims to build on the research showing the effectiveness of music as a medicine and shows that music can be prescribed for a variety of mental health issues, particularly anxiety and depression within dementia patients. 

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions vs. Spotify Paid Subscriptions vs. Patreon – creator fees compared

How do the creator fees for Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, Spotify Paid Subscriptions and Patreon stack up for podcasters?

Last month, both Apple and Spotify revealed plans for their upcoming podcast subscription models. Both Apple’s Podcasts Subscriptions and Spotify’s Paid Subscriptions work in a similar way to Patreon, allowing creators to sign up and offer exclusive content in exchange for monthly payments. How do these three services’ fees stack up against each other?

These numbers are minus any taxes or tranaction fees, as these vary by region. As Apple and Spotify’s platforms are yet to be publicly available, numbers may change prior to release. We’ll have to wait until these platforms launch until we can truely compare the features of each.

Following are the platform fees/cuts.

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions
  • $19.99 (US) per year, plus
  • 30% for the first year
  • 15% for following years

Example of earning $1000 per year:

Spotify Paid Subscriptions
  • 0% until 2023
  • 5% from 2023

Example of earning $1000 per year:

  • 5% for Lite plan
  • 8% for Pro plan
  • 12% for Premium plan

Example of earning $1000 per year: