TikTok Adds New Features That Aims To Benefit Music Creators

Image credit: Solen Feyissa

TikTok is doubling down on its roots as a music-focused creation app with the new features.

TikTok has recently added a heap of new music effects for creators, further solidifying its position as a music-focused creation app. The effects offer new interactivity, visualisations, animations, and more and are expected to be rolled out within the next few weeks. It kicks off with the launch of Music Visualizer, an effect that runs a real-time beat track to animate a retro green screen landscape. The new feature has been used in 28,000 videos and the effect results in videos featuring a purple sky with multiple planets in the background and the ground pulses up and down with the music, very Tron. You can use Music Visualizer with any sounds in TikTok’s music library. 

You can also expect the following effects soon: 

Music Machine – An interactive set of tools that will allow users to control the real-time rendering of MIDI loops for different music layers. A BPM slider for real-time adjustments will present, one-shot sound effects, and dynamic visual responses for the video of your recorded music. 

Delayed Beats – This will recreate the freeze-frame effect that’s already popular on TikTok while aligning transitions to the beat of the music. 

Text Beats – Get ready to add animated text overlays to videos that transition in sync with the beat of any sound from TikTok’s expanding library. 

Solid Beats – Allows for visual effects that sync to the beat of any song. 

Mirror Beats – You’ll be able to align display transitions with the beat of any song from TikTok’s library. 

These new features coincidently follow the arrival of several new TikTok competitors from major social media networks, such as Instagram’s Reels, Snapchats Spotlight and, YouTube Shorts.

The new effects will be available in the dedicated “Music” tab within TikTok’s Creative Effects tray. 

Will.i.am Unveils $299 Bluetooth Face Mask With Noise Cancelling Headphones And LED Lights

Image credit: DJMag

Will.i.am has announced his latest tech invention the Xupermask, a pandemic proof LED lit mask with noise cancelling headphones.

The Black Eyed Peas rapper and entrepreneur has recently partnered up with tech company Honeywell to create a futuristic mask. The mask was designed by Jose Fernandez, who was the mind behind Elon Musk’s SpaceX suits. The mask features dual 3-speed fans, HEPA filters, a microphone, and a magnetic earbud docking system. It features a seven-hour battery life and can also play music and take calls. 

Speaking about the mask to the New York Times Will.i.am said: “The pandemic is straight out of a friggin movie. But we are wearing masks from yesterday’s movie. So I wanted to make a mask to fit the era we’re in.” 

The Xupermask is another tech project that for many will be unaffordable and even pointless, however, you can’t knock the infinity behind the mask. If the pandemic goes on much longer, a mask like this will be essential. Also, who doesn’t want to look like they’re a character out of the Cyberpunk game!

Watch the video for the Xupermask here.

Spotify Officially Debuts Voice Commands

Image credit: Heidi Fin

Spotify has debuted its long rumoured “Hey Spotify” wake word for listeners, meaning you can use the app hands free.

It’s been long rumoured that the Stockholm based streaming giant had plans to add a voice-activated system to their platform. The rumours have now become true as they launch their “Hey Spotify” wake word, which will allow you to navigate their app with our voice. 

To activate this all you need to do is head to the “Voice” section of the Spotify app (found in settings) and activate the “Hey Spotify” function. The service will then listen for the wake word but the app must be open on your screen. 

Once the wake words have been spoken users will see an on-screen text reading “Try saying an artist, song, or playlist name.” It’s similar to when you use your Alexa or other smart home devices to navigate the streaming service. 

In addition to this Spotify recently debuted an array of other experience-minded functions, including a system that inserts “Slow Down” songs into playlists when listeners approach a school zone. 

This is likely the beginning of a range of functional improvements that Spotify aims to release throughout the year, as they patented a variety of functions in late 2020 and early 2021. 

One said patent is the spoken word analyser, which would identify song lyrics with AI and classic the works accordingly. Plus, Spotify is likely to add the in-house music video system that will allow users to watch music videos from artists in Spotify, a move to combat YouTube

Spotify also plans on expanding its ever-growing Podcast space and plans to add functionality for AMA’s, debates, real-time discussions, and much more. 

The best open earbuds for exercising

We’ve found some of the best options for listening to music or podcasts when exercising, while staying safe on the streets.

Being able to hear your surroundings is vital for some forms of exercising such as cycling. Open ear headphones are a great and safe options for those that want to listen to their favourite music, podcast or directions, while being able to hear passing cars, bikes, runners etc.

Top priorities for listening to audio while exercising are comfort, fit and volume. Headphones that don’t go directly in your ears won’t produce the best sound quality, but can be good if you listen to a lot of spoken word content like podcasts or audiobooks.

The style of headphones you should consider is dependant on the type of exercise as well as personal comfort of course. This will vary from user to user.

Open Earbuds
Bose Sport Open Earbuds – $199

These open earbuds hook to the top of your ear, firing music down towards your ears. While many of the options below suffer with audio quality, the Bose Sport Open Earbuds sound surprising good, however the fit may not be for everyone, the price is significant and there are some glaring missing features such as multi-device support.

Audio Sunglasses
Bose Frames Tempo – $249

Bose’s audio sunglasses range ‘Frames’ come in a variety of shapes and sizes. ‘Tempo’ are their sport version. Having audio without anything additional in or on your ears may seem like a nice ideas however there are a number of obvious flaws. As soon as you need to go indoors or you’re faced with a cloudy day and the glasses come off, there goes your audio. Not to mention the statement piece that the style gives off and hefty price tag. If you always exercise in the sun, this may be the audio solution for you.

Alternative options

Audio Bike Helmet
Sena R1 – $129

This bicycle helmet may look like regular head protection, but the speakers built-in to the bottom of the helmet aim music down towards your ears. Audio comes from either a Bluetooth connected phone or the built-in FM receiver. There’s also a mesh intercom feature that allows you to comfortably speak to fellow helmet wearers within half a mile, without needing to shout. Physical buttons on the side of the helmet let you manage functions. Unfortunately the speakers are a little too far away and quiet for loud environments.

Bone Conduction Headphones
Aftershokz Aeropex – $159.95

These bone conduction headphones wrap around the back of your head, with each speaker gripping your skull in front of your ears. Rather than firing music towards your ears, bone conduction sends the speaker vibration into your head via your bones. Bone conduction can feel a little off putting for new wearers. This particular pair suffer with poor sound quality and can hold your head a little too hard.

Transparency Mode
The true wireless earbuds you already own

If all else fails, you can always throw in a single bud of the earbuds you already own, set them to transparency mode (if available) and you can have audio playing directly into your ear. We recommend AirPods Pro, Galaxy Buds Pro or any of these other true wireless earbuds at every price point.

Jam Live True – A pair of true wireless earbuds for under £20 (UK deal)

Image Credit: Jam Audio

Jam Live True’s wireless earbuds are only £19.99 on Amazon, down from £99.99.

While the Jam Live True don’t have some of the shiny feature found on more expensive buds such as active noise cancelling, the £20 pair do have a reasonable amount of unique features for the price.

Whether you’re working or working out, Jam Live True should keep you going with three hours of playtime from a single charge, plus 10 full charges in the case. With a 2200mAh battery the charging case doubles as a power bank. This is a feature rarely seen on other pairs of true wireless earbuds. With most modern phones ranging from 2500 to 5000 mAh, the charging case should provide a decent percentage bump in a pinch.

Internally, sound is produced by a 6mm drivers in each bud. Wireless tech is managed by Bluetooth 4.1 which should give a solid connection at up to 10 metres. IPX4 keeps the buds protected from sweat and rain. The microphone in the buds is good for making handsfree calls or taking to the voice assistant. Multiple ear tips sizes and the ergonomic design will comfortably fit most listeners ears.

Grey – £19.99

Image Credit: Jam Audio

Blue – £24.99

Image Credit: Jam Audio

For more of the best true wireless earbuds at every price point, click here.

Tencent launches new partnership bringing QQ Music to Audi cars

Image Credit: Tencent

Owners of equipped Audi vehicles will be able to stream QQ music and access other services from Tencent without taking their hands off the wheel.

Tencent have announced a new partnership with Audi China. Soon Audi vehicles in China will be able to run in-vehicle digital services from the technology giant, creating an “intelligent and interconnected digital ecosystem.”

As long as they’re equipped with the latest generation of Audi connect, Audi vehicles will be able to access QQ Music, China’s favourite music streaming service and a RouteNote partner. Other services on offer include in-car social media app Wechat, Tencent Maps, and Tencent Light App.

Werner Eichhorn, president of Audi China, said: “Strengthening strategic cooperation with Tencent will help us further expand the Audi product ecosystem for Chinese users, and provide customised services for their specific needs.”

Tencent has been developing integration in vehicles since 2018, working on internet in vehicles, access to cloud-based storage and autonomous driving. The tech giant has partnered with over 30 carmakers so far, with Tencent products used in over 120 models. The WeChat app, first revealed in 2019, lets drivers send messages, make calls and share their location, all hands-free.

Audi is the latest partner to be announced by the Chinese technology giant, offering in-car cockpit digital technologies including social media and content services.

Imagining your music blasting out of car stereos across China? RouteNote’s partnership with Tencent means independent artists can distribute tracks to QQ Music, as well as many other major platforms and stores worldwide, for free. Find out more and sign up today here.

TikTok has the power to make artists famous

Image Credit: Solen Feyissa

New studies show just how much of an impact TikTok has on charts and artist’s popularity as well as the earnings artists make elsewhere.

TikTok is huge, there’s no discussion to be had there. The social, video-sharing app has taken the world by storm and been downloaded billions of times all around the world with just under 700 million monthly users. The platform has a close and special relationship to music, allowing users to soundtrack their creations with popular songs including the music of RouteNote users.

With potentially billions of people watching a video, artists finding their music featured in a viral post or becoming the soundtrack to a new viral dance or meme format are seeing their careers blow up – in a good way. The power of a viral hit on TikTok can send a track shooting up the charts, boost its streams, build their following on social media, and naturally increase the amount of money they make from streams and downloads.

A new study from Uswitch shows just how much of an impact TikTok success can have on an artists, simply by someone else using their music. Looking at the top earning artists on TikTok, they found that artist Popp Hunna had made £25,351 in 90 days form TikTok viral success. They found that the popularity of their song on TikTok videos boosted their Spotify followers by almost 7000 in one month.

Image Credit: Uswitch

They’re even influencing a resurgence in popularity for older tracks, like Fleetwood Mac whose classic album Rumours has re-entered the charts after that dude skateboarding and vibing to Dreams went viral and a bunch of people recreated it. The album ended up going all the way up to 7th in the Billboard 200 last October, I know it got me listening to the album again.

TikTok can make an artist’s career

We’re all aware of the man who made sea shanties big in 2021 again right? Nathan Evans, notorious postman, shared an cover of himself singing ‘Wellerman’ an old sea shanty and it has since rocketed to fame and launched his own career. Evans now has a record deal with Polydor and he’s been interviewed on hit chat shows like The Late Show and on the BBC.

Many artists are taking to TikTok as just another social media for them to exist on alongside the usuals like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Making an impact on TikTok can have a huge impact on artist influence, engaging with audiences on a new and interactive platform that can create deeper connections – particularly with younger generations – than other platforms.

Artists like Lewis Capaldi have found a way of corralling an audience through the use of skits and short jokey videos that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with his music, but builds a following. If you’re looking for more advice on how you can reach people in unique and engaging ways through TikTok, check out our list of the 10 best ways to become successful as a musician on TikTok.

If you’re an artist looking to get your music on TikTok so that it’s available for creators all around the world to use in their videos, you can upload your tracks for free with us at RouteNote. Make money every time your music is used and you never know, you could be a viral hit who shoots to fame after being featured in a popular video.

Spotify is going live with plans for new live audio experience

Image Credit: Spotify

Spotify will soon host audio conversations in real time after acquiring Locker Room, a live audio app, challenging Clubhouse.

Spotify has announced the purchase of Betty Labs, the makers of live audio app Locker Room. With the acquisition comes the news that Spotify is officially looking to enter the world of live audio.

In keeping with the hints about shaping the “future of audio” at their Stream On event last month, Spotify plans to expand Locker Room into an “enhanced live audio experience,” covering a range of topics such as music, cultural programming and sports. There’ll be interactive features letting creators to connect with audiences in real time – broadcasting live discussions, debates and Q&A sessions. Musicians, podcasters, songwriters and professional athletes will be given a platform to host live audio conversations.

This all sounds an awful lot like Clubhouse, the recently launched social audio app that’s turned the fickle heads of Silicon Valley. In response to the hype around Clubhouse, Twitter recently fast-tracked its similar Spaces tool, and Facebook is looking to add an audio-only option to its Rooms feature.

Gustav Söderström, Chief Research and Development Officer at Spotify, said: “Creators and fans have been asking for live formats on Spotify, and we’re excited that soon, we’ll make them available to hundreds of millions of listeners and millions of creators on our platform. The world already turns to us for music, podcasts, and other unique audio experiences, and this new live audio experience is a powerful complement that will enhance and extend the on-demand experience we provide today.” 

Spotify said it will make use of Betty Lab’s data, insights, and information on user experience to build live and on-demand offerings. Locker Room launched in October 2020 as a live audio app aimed at sports fans.

Howard Akumiah, Founder and CEO of Betty Labs, said: “We are excited to join forces with Spotify and contribute to building the future of audio — we’ll invest more in our product, open the experience to Spotify’s audience, diversify our content offerings, and continue expanding the community we’ve built. With Spotify, we’ll continue to offer the best home for sports fans and use the lessons we’ve learned along the way to create the ultimate destination for live conversation around music and culture.”

Why musicians need to start taking notice of the potential of Roblox

Image Credit: Roblox

Should music artists be getting involved on online game platform Roblox? With more and more virtual concerts happening on the platform, it might be the next big thing for music in the online virtual world.

Everyday 32 million people use Roblox, spending on average of two and a half hours per day on the platform. It’s massive. Roblox is a collection of online interconnected worlds developed by users, including virtual concerts and backstage areas, with in-game add-ons available to purchase with Robux.

Roblox? Isn’t that for kids? That may have been true when the online game platform and game creation system was first launched, but as the age of the users has grown, so too have the company’s ambitious plans for the future.

Roblox is a platform that’s both extremely popular and incredibly ambitious in its scope. A large part of its plan for the future seems to lie in music. It’s one to keep an eye on. Recently, the good people over at Music Biz Weekly podcast spoke to Jonathan Vlassopulos, Vice President and Global Head of Music at Roblox, about music on the platform and why artists are missing out if they don’t get involved.

The full episode with Michael Brandvold and Jay Gilbert chatting to Vlassopulos is available to watch and listen to online, and we’ve gathered a few of the most illuminating points below.

What is Roblox?

The Roblox experience combines playing, video and social media. Players can hang out virtually together and create their own games. It’s the sort of experience that’s the norm for a generation that’s grown up used to spending time in a virtual world and spending money on virtual purchases, and young players are on there a lot.

Although initially aimed at a young demographic, as Vlassopulos insisted: “It’s not for kids, it’s for everyone.” The fastest growing group of users on the platform is the 15 plus range.

What’s Roblox got to do with the music business?

The space for music on Roblox is still finding its feet, but the music industry is interested in its potential as the userbase grows up and the technology grows too. Notably, Warner Music made an eight-figure investment in the platform earlier this year. Music has also been integrated in interesting ways, such as startup Popgun adding music-making app Splash to the platform last year.

The next focus for Roblox is on getting users to attend and interact with live music shows. The first official virtual concerts were introduced last year with the Together at Home Global Citizen concerts the first “toe in the water,” and in November 2020 the huge Lil Nas X concert drew 33 million views over two days.

The latest concert was Royal Blood’s live half-time show at the virtual Bloxy Awards ceremony, which saw players in Roblox transported from the awards room to the venue via shuttles. Royal Blood were chosen to perform in part to capture the attention of an older audience, as well as to introduce rock to tweens. The band were represented in what Vlassopulos called “Lofi mo cap”, not full motion capture suits like Lil Nas X, but instead their videos were animated remotely and brought to life that way. The band set up their own avatars.

Virtual platforms, Vlassopulos said, allow concertgoers to hang out with friends at a VIP pre-show as soon as the tickets are purchased, and afterwards at virtual after parties, not restricted by the start and finish times of a gig or festival.

Roblox users commonly make their own versions of artists’ music videos and post them on YouTube. And rather than traditional streaming like Spotify, which generally involves simply uploading music and hoping people stream it, Roblox’s transactional model opens up the potential for for more interactive elements. Developers could license a song to be used in their game.

Can the average music artist take advantage of the world of Roblox?

Roblox is all about community, and the connecting power of music fits in with users finding their tribe on the platform. Vlassopulos said that ultimately the long-term plan for music on Roblox is to allow any artists or label, wherever or whoever they may be, to put on experiences, integrate their music into games that match their genre and style and get merch onto the platform to generate revenue and advertise their brand. Fans of the same bands, or the same genres, could chat together and show off their merch.

There’s the potential for ample opportunities for a revenue stream through merch sales. Artists could help to personalise user’s self-expression on the platform, whether that’s band t-shirts for their avatars or posters to furnish their virtual home.

Revenue keeps rolling in from the Lil Nas X concert, which is still attracting sales of in-game memorabilia and merchandise from around the show. The Royal Blood show has merch, too – you can look like the band and even have a little pet guitar amp following you around the game.

“Artists are looking for more output for their creativity on social media, outside of just a play button and a video,” Vlassopulos said. Roblox offers a 3D palate instead – fans can roam around your music video, and you can run around with your fans and chat to them, which is especially enticing right now when live gigs and meet and greets aren’t possible.

How can an indie artist or record label create their own Roblox world?

Music artists can get involved on the platform right now. Vlassopulos suggested some steps artists could take if they want to get established on Roblox:

  • Sign up and secure a username that fits with your artist brand
  • Build your image – you could even get a 3D artist to do a perfect virtual representation of you for your avatar
  • Go on the platform, explore, get a feel for Roblox
  • Announce on social media that you’re now on Roblox
  • Think about the demographic of Roblox and of your own fans to see where you fit in best. What kind of games match your brand image? Roblox have a set of preferred developers who charge to get you set up with a space on Roblox
  • There’s the potential to reach out to tech savvy fans to create spaces for their favourite artists, with a prize for the chosen developer
  • Consider working with YouTube influencers with reach on the platform  – Lil Nas X event collaborated with Megan Plays for promo:
What’s next for music on Roblox?

Vlassopulos said they’re playing the long game in terms of the general overlook for music on the platform. The strategy is set to unfold over a few years rather than a chaotic rollout, which is mainly to build a sustainable ecosystem.

“The under 25’s want to participate not just consume, they want to engage not just watch, they want to meet other people. That applies to any age. As more artists join, the possibilities will grow.”

Jonathan Vlassopulos, Vice President and Global Head of Music at Roblox

At some point the company would love for artists who are involved to be able to earn a living wage, at every level, echoing the inclusive creative community on Roblox currently. Eventually there will be templates for bands to reference to work out what they want to do on the platform.

Music events on Roblox are due to be rolled out on a more regular basis in 2021, with plans for monthly album launches. Apparently over the next decade fans and artists are going to be able to connect in exciting ways, and the revenue will follow. Vlassopulos also spoke of the “Opportunity to bring artists back from the dead”, perhaps hinting at the potential for revenue to be generated for rights holders from recreating artist’s iconic concerts, and introduce classic artists to a young audience.

As a company Roblox has an overarching ambitious dream to keep expanding its Metaverse, virtual worlds linking to form an in-game universe, a notion that takes inspiration from Ready Player One and other films.

From an outsider’s perspective, the Roblox concerts are a weird-looking sort of gig. Roblox are now a public company and getting a lot more interest than a year ago, but in terms of technology, it’s early days.

Whilst the platform has really only recently got started with events and ironing out the wrinkles, there’s nothing to stop bands and musicians jumping on the platform right now to secure a stake in what could be a major player in the music world in the future.

Beat the rush. If you’re an artist who’s visual, creative and outgoing, and especially if your fans already exist in the space, why not get involved and set yourself up on Roblox before everyone else catches on. If there’s the potential to generate some revenue from a platform, it’s a good idea to get stuck in and check it out.

You can now order Sony’s debut ‘360 Reality Audio’ for a uniquely immersive music experience

Image Credit: Sony

Sony revealed prices and opened up pre-orders for their next generation audio experience with their two very first 360 Reality speakers.

Sony have now given prices to their two futuristic speakers and, coming in at $300 and $700, the next generation isn’t coming at a dizzying cost. It is Sony’s first foray into the world of 360 audio which we’ve seen a number of notorious speaker makers exploring in recent years including Huawei – and even a “720-degree audio” speaker from ASQY.

But what even is 360 audio? Well, in case this part wasn’t obvious; the 360 refers to a 360-degree coverage sound that boasts a fuller sound all around a speaker rather than primarily in front of it. Sony describe their new speakers as offering “ambient room-filling sound”.

In general, it will simply fill the space around the speaker well. However, certain audio platforms like Amazon Music HD, TIDAL, and some more Hi-Res streamers offer specifically tailored 360 Reality Audio content that is designed to work to the advantages of the speaker’s design. It’s supposed to take the audio beyond high quality to work the space into the sound.

As both of Sony’s new speakers, the $300 SRS-RA3000 and the more expensive SRS-RA5000, have 360 Reality Audio capabilities the difference isn’t in that technology. The RA5000 is Hi-Res Audio certified, meaning that it is technically capable of playing better quality music. Whether that’s a feature worth paying more than double for, well that’s up to the audiophiles. The bigger size and presumably volume is also a benefit to the RA-5000.

Interestingly, whilst both speakers offer sound calibration features to optimise their sound to the room they are in for the best performance, only the RA3000 does the feature automatically whilst the RA5000 requires users to press a button.

They do both offer automatic volume adjustment that helps to keep levels consistent between different songs. For connection, both feature Chromecast and Spotify Connect. Whilst they can be connected to other devices and controlled by Alexa and Google Assistant like that, they don’t work with voice controlled assistants directly.

Both speakers are available for pre-order – if you can manage to find anywhere that hasn’t sold out of them yet – with shipping expected to happen on the 29th March.