The best of Google from CES and Galaxy Unpacked 2021

Image Credit: Google

With 2021’s virtual CES and Galaxy Unpacked wrapped up, Google run down their favourite pieces of new tech with their services built-in.

CES 2021 and Galaxy’s recent Unpacked virtual events saw many new tech products unveiled. Google brings their highlights of the technology shown off, with their software baked in.

When you’re on the go

Samsung’s Unpacked event saw the release of their new flagship smartphones Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra. With the latest version of Google’s operating system Android 11 loaded, there are a number of new features. You can now mirror Google Duo to your Samsung TV, letting you cast your video calls to the big screen. The updated messaging app now features Rich Communication Services (RCS), allowing users to chat over Wi-Fi. The new messages app will send read receipts, let you react to messages, send and receive high videos, as well as provide a dynamic communication experience with Smart Actions and a spam filter. From the home screen of Android, you can now swipe to access personalized content with Discover. Google’s new TalkBack screen reader will help blind users and those with difficulty seeing their displays, with spoken feedback and gestures to navigate the OS without looking at the screen.

Image Credit: Google

Google are also working with Samsung to make managing smart home products from Galaxy smartphones and tablets a breeze. Via the SmartThings app, users can now control Nest devices such as thermostats, cameras and doorbells. All connected devices can be viewed and controlled on one screen. Just head to Devices in the Quick Panel of your Galaxy S21. Google have also introduced SmartThings on Android Auto, letting you quickly switch off your kitchen lights from your car’s display as you’re pulling out of the driveway.

Image Credit: Google

Lenovo’s new Tab P11 is a great choice for parent that want to introduce their kids to a productive tablet to learn and have fun. Google’s Kids Space is a kids mode for the tablet, designed for children under 9 with recommended apps, books and videos.

Image Credit: Lenovo

The latest version of Google’s smartwatch system Wear OS, will help Android phone users in the US send texts and make calls on the new Fossil’s Gen 5 LTE Touchscreen Smartwatch without your phone. For a more fashionable smartwatch, Michael Kors’s new Access Gen 5E MKGO and Gen 5E Darci help wearers keep track of their health and wellness, while staying in touch with friends and family, as well as making payments directly from the watch.


New headphones and earbuds from JBL and Kenwood WS-A1G have Google Assistant built-in. Simply press the ear cup or earbud to send a message, access your calendar, change the song and so much more.


Hanging out at home

Google TV will be coming to a number of new smart TVs from Sony and TCL in 2021. Google TV brings movies, shows, live TV and more from apps and subscriptions into an organized layout for you to easily find something you’d enjoy. Don’t feel like scrolling, simply ask the Assistant to browse for you, “Hey Google, find action movies” or “Show me sci-fi adventure TV shows”. LG TVs (2019 and later) can now be controlled with your voice via a Google-enabled smart speaker. Google Assistant devices will soon also be able to control Verizon Fios set top boxes. The new Duo app on Samsung TVs lets you join group video calls directly on the TV.

Image Credit: Google

Connected lights from LIFX, Nanoleaf and Yeelight now work with Hey Google, and now support Seemless setup, letting you connect compatible smart home devices through the Google Home app and a Nest speaker or Smart Display without needing an additional hub or bridge.

Image Credit: Nanoleaf

For the ultimate futuristic home control, you can now ask Google to clean up the house for you. Simply say “Hey Google” to active Smart MEDION’s MD 19601 vacuum cleaner.

Image Credit: MEDION

Google are also making it easier for manufacturers to bring voice capabilities to their smart home devices. Google’s new Authorized Solution Provider program comes from certified partners Tuya and CoolKit to help manufacturers build smart home Actions for Google Assistant.

Trump Pardons Lil Wayne and Kodak Black

Image credit: LilTunechi/Twitter

Both rappers have been pardoned of their Federal charges And Kodak Black receives commutation.

Well to finish off what was a pretty strange and unpredictable four years of his presidency, Donald Trump on his last day of office pardoned rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black. The two rappers reprieve comes amid a flurry of pardons as some of the outgoing presidents final acts. Other high profile names on the list included the controversial Steve Bannon, former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and Death Row Records co-founder Michael “Harry-O” Harris. 

Back in November, it was revealed that Lil Wayne faced a federal weapons charge relating to a December 2019 incident at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport. According to the Miami Herald, Miami-Dade Police tipped off federal authorities that a private plane transporting Lil Wayne from California to Florida was also carrying marijuana and weapons. The rapper was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition by convicted felon. He pleaded guilty in December and was facing up to ten years in prison. 

The statement about Wayne’s pardon released by the White House notes the rappers commitment to charity and quotes support from Sovereign Brands’ Brett Berish (who calls him “trustworthy, kind-hearted, and generous”) and Deion Sanders (who praised him as a “provider for his family, a friend to many, a man of faith, a natural giver to the less fortunate, a waymaker and a game changer”). 

Kodak Black’s current sentence stems from a May 2019 arrest for indicating on paperwork that he was not under indictment while trying to purchase firearms. At the time, the rapper was out on bond for sexual assault charges in South Carolina. In March 2020, Kodak pleaded guilty to second degree criminal possession of a weapon following an April 2019 arrest at the border between the United States and Canada. His pardon came whilst he was serving time in prison. 

The official White House statement commutation noted the support of Gucci Mane, Lil Yachty, Lil Pump, Baltimore Ravens player Lamar Jackson and more. “Before his conviction and after reaching success as a recording artist, Kodak Black became deeply involved in numerous philanthropic efforts,” the statement reads. “In fact, he has committed to supporting a variety of charitable efforts, such as providing educational resources to students and families of fallen law enforcement officers and the underprivileged.”

In another strange turn of events Trump also commuted the sentence of Michael “Harry-O” Harris, co-founder of Death Row Records. Harris had served 30 years of a 25-to-life sentence for conspiracy to commit first degree murder. “He is a former entrepreneur and has mentored and taught fellow prisoners how to start and run businesses,” the White House’s statement reads. “He has completed courses towards business and journalism degrees.”

The end of Trump was just as his presidency, confusing, odd and totally unpredictable. Who would have thought Trump would be pardoning some of the countries most popular and controversial rappers in his final days? Certianly not me. 

How to write a great music press release

Image Credit: Bank Phrom

10 tips for writing a press release as a band or solo artist.

Have you got exciting news about your music that you can’t wait to share with the world? Then you need to get the information out there, and that means sending a music press release to journalists, music bloggers and broadcasters to persuade them to write about you. If you’re a DIY artist promoting your music for free, making a career in the music industry without a PR team, you’re going to have to work the system.

Feeling overwhelmed? Here’s a guide to writing a music press release.

Get to the point

Think to yourself: ‘Is it newsworthy?’ Make sure your press release actually contains brand new information.

The whole point of a press release is to make it unbelievably easy for the journalist to immediately understand the key point of what you’re announcing. They’re going to use it as a jumping off point to write around, so you need to make it easy for them to write lovely things about your music.

Say it in three or four short paragraphs, including a very brief bio about the artist. Aim for 800 words maximum, and never more than two sides of A4.

Make it clear what the story is about

The journalist is not going to get back in touch to ask what you actually want them to write about, so you need to make it blindingly obvious. Format it properly, look online for band press release examples, and use headlines that describe the story of the press release.

Don’t try to be too clever – if you’ve thought of a witty line, use the standfirst (the second line that summarises the story). If you’re announcing new music, don’t bury it at the bottom of the text, put the link at the top. If the track isn’t out yet, maybe send a private SoundCloud or unlisted YouTube link.

Put the important stuff first

Use the ‘Inverted Pyramid’ writing layout. The idea is that the press release could be cut from the bottom without losing the main story. Put the most important information at the top – your hook.

  • First paragraph: ‘W’ questions about the news in your music press release – who, what, when, where, why?
  • Subsequent paragraphs: Information in descending order of importance. Why the news deserves to be promoted – specifics about your new tour, for example. The third or fourth paragraphs are often quotes or artist biography.
  • Include extra information at the bottom – contact info, social profiles link, press pack.

Be professional

Press releases are a place to clearly broadcast your news, not your love for Comic Sans. Make the press release the best it can be from the beginning, bearing in mind some music bloggers just copy and paste from press releases if they can’t be bothered to rewrite them. (Tip for music bloggers – please don’t do this.)

Don’t exaggerate – journalists can’t be seen to be ‘selling’ what they’re reporting so try to avoid sales-speak and fluff. What you can do though is whack that kind of thing into quotes…

‘Does it need quotes then?’

Quotations look professional and can give the story a personal feel. If you’re announcing a record deal, for example, you could include one from a senior person from organisation, with full name and position. Or you can quote yourself, as in: ‘Lead singer Geoffrey said, ‘I am awfully excited about finally playing at Ally Pally.’ It is not however essential to quote the bassist’s mum.

Where and when should the press release appear?

Think about which audience you’re aiming for – is it music bloggers you’re after, or are you targeting print journalism? Look up who covers what news and if they accept press releases in the first place.

Then work backwards from the month you want it to appear. There’s no point telling people about an album that’s a year away or a Christmas single in June. Think about lead times of publications or broadcasts – how long between the journalist receiving the band press release to when the information will be published. Write in the email subject line if the information is for ‘immediate release’, if it’s an ‘exclusive’ just for that journalist, or if it’s ‘embargoed’ and not to be published until a specific date.

Is it best to send it by email?

Yes. Write a brief cover letter-style email first, introducing yourself, and then copy and paste the text of the music press release underneath it straight into the body of the email, as people are rightly wary of opening attachments from unknown email addresses.

Don’t just hit ‘send all’, it’s very obvious, you’ll end up sending a RnB track to a bunch of classical music journalists. Do some research – find out the best person to contact, and then…

Tailor to your target

In your cover email, flatter your recipient – make it personal, clear that you’ve selected them to send the release to. Why should they be interested enough to write about it? Speak to their ego. If you’re aiming at bloggers, keep it shorter, more chatty.

Also, the journalist is going to have been bombarded with emails all day. So… make the cover email snappy, and write an attention-grabbing email subject line that lets the journalist know exactly what you’re pitching.

Respond quickly to replies

If the journalist wants more information – give it to them, quickly. Have all the information ready to go for any potential requests, a press pack of gig info, interview slots, new releases. Don’t be intimidated and wait until they’ve lost interest.

Equally, don’t despair if there IS no reply! Journalists and bloggers often just don’t have the physical capacity to reply to every single request. They might just not have had time. They probably don’t hate you. You can follow it up after a week or so… just be careful not to be too pushy.

If all else fails… pay someone to do it for you

Sometimes there’s just nothing for it. Music promotion is often about who you know in the media, and the contacts are invaluable. Paying for PR isn’t cheap, but if you can afford it it’s worth considering. We’ve also already researched some PR tools available online on an affordable budget.

Whether you’ve released a new song, got the band back together, nabbed a record contract, or kicked out the old guitarist, people need to know about it. Just be sure to make your music press release clear and concise and, as long as the news is interesting enough, the time and effort will be worth it.

Drake Becomes First Artist To Surpass 50 Billion Spotify Streams

Image credit: Drake HQ

The artist known for tracks such as ‘Hotline Bling’ has become the first artist to hot over 50 billion streams on Spotify.

As of yesterday Drake is the first artist to ever surpass 50 billion combined streams on Spotify. Another landmark moment for the streaming service after Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single ‘Drivers License’ broke streaming records last week. 

It’s an impressive feat but one that was arguably somewhat predictable. His 2018 single ‘God’s Plan’ racked up an impressive 1.675bn streams alone. Not to mention other releases racking up numbers in the high hundred-millions. 

It’s likely that Drake is going to hold onto this lead too as his forthcoming album ‘Certified Lover Boy’, the follow-up to 2018’s ‘Scorpion’, is expected to drop later this month. 

This isn’t the first time Drake has broken Spotify records though, back in 2010 he was the platforms most streamed artist with 28 billion streams, beating Ed Sheeran, Post Malone, Ariana Grande and Eminem

His 2018 release ‘Scorpion’ also shattered Spotify’s one-day global record for album streams, with the album’s individual tracks totalling 132,450,203 streams, more than 50,000,000 greater than the previous record, set weeks earlier by Post Malone‘Beerbongs & Bentleys’, which was streamed 78,744,748 globally on release. 

It’s looking like that 2021 is going to be a big year for streaming, we’re only 20 days in and records are being smashed left, right and centre. Not to mention that streaming was up for a sixth year straight in 2020. 

How to sell your songs online for free

As well as dozens of streaming services and social platforms for monetization, RouteNote also distribute to a number of stores that specialize in selling music.

While the majority of the online music market has shifted to a streaming first model, there are still number of users and musicians who prefer to buy and sell music. Purchasing music can have its benefits. Pay once and own it forever, no monthly subscription fees or MP3s locked to a particular platform.

Distribution to stores, streaming services and social platforms is free to all artists and labels, big and small. You are never locked in with RouteNote and always keep 100% of the rights to your music.

Choosing between services is as easy as clicking a box on RouteNote. What platforms should I choose when distributing my music to RouteNote?


Music stores:
  • iTunes
  • Amazon Music
  • eMusic
  • Melon
  • 7digital
  • Bugs!
  • Tencent Music (QQ Music, Kugou, Kuwo)
  • Qobuz

Music streaming services:
  • Spotify
  • YouTube Music
  • Apple Music
  • Amazon Music Unlimited
  • Amazon Music Prime
  • Deezer
  • TIDAL
  • Claro Música
  • Napster
  • Anghami
  • Kanjian
  • Pandora
  • Melon
  • iHeartRadio
  • JioSaavn
  • Bugs!
  • AWA
  • YG (NAVER VIBE)
  • Netease Cloud Music
  • Tencent Music (QQ Music, Kugou, Kuwo)
  • Kuack Media
  • Qobuz

Social media monetization:
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • SoundCloud
  • TikTok

Other:
  • Nuuday
  • Gracenote
  • 7digital

Click here to get started distributing to RouteNote.

How do I move my music to RouteNote from Tunecore?

If you’re looking to move your music to RouteNote for free distribution or our unbeatable Premium prices then thankfully you can, easily.

We pride ourselves on making music distribution easy and painless for artists everywhere and of every size. If you’re looking to switch from another distributor like Tunecore to RouteNote, we have some tips on how you can make that transfer as easy as possible too.

Arrange removal of your releases

If you’re moving your releases to us, make sure you’ve arranged the removal of those releases with your original distributor. Then when you upload your music to us we can get them back on stores on services as quickly as possible.

Re-use your UPC and ISRC codes

You’ll have been given UPC and ISRC codes for your music when you uploaded it. Keep hold of these and use them again on the same release to retain all your streaming data when your music goes live again. This means that if you’ve racked up the streams on your tracks, they’ll still show the same performance when we get them back online for you.

Choose the plan that suits you

We offer two types of distribution so that all artists can work out the plan that suits them best, because we want everyone to upload their music on their own terms.

Free Distribution offers unlimited distribution to all of our partners at no cost. You keep 85% of all of the earnings you make and can come and go at any time.

Premium Distribution is our paid offering. For a small upfront cost, you can distribute any of your releases worldwide and keep 100% of the revenues your music makes in all stores. It’s only $9.99 after a year to keep your release live on Premium.

You can switch between Free and Premium at any time.

Discover more with RouteNote

We pride ourselves on providing the best distribution solution for artists. There’s so much more to discover with RouteNote beyond simple and affordable music distribution.

Our partners at PUSH.fm offer a new artist promotion platform with fan links, content unlocks, pre-saves and more exciting potential for artists to reach audiences on the way.

RouteNote’s SoundCloud Network offers a unique way for artists to monetise the music they upload to SoundCloud.

YouTube Content ID gives you a route to protect your music whenever it is used on YouTube and earn money from the videos it is uploaded to using YouTube’s automatic detection technology.

RouteNote’s YouTube Network works with creators on YouTube to monetise and protect videos on all types of channels.

Sign up for free today at www.routenote.com.

Top 10 most followed non-editorial playlists on Apple Music in 2021

While Spotify’s most followed playlists are totally dominated by their own editorial lists, Apple Music’s top followed playlists have more variety from major labels and indie curators.

Click here for Apple Music’s most followed playlists.

For the most followed non-editorial playlists on Spotify, click here.

Click here for the top third-party playlist curators to send your music to in 2021.

Unfortunately Apple Music do not provide numbers of followers on playlists. This data comes from Chartmetric.











The Fate Of Music Festivals In The UK Faces Serious Doubt

Image Credit: Kieran Webber

The Conservative Government must make a decision and soon or a thriving cultural sector will be decimated.

The UK, pre-covid, was renowned for its live music and bustling festival scene. In fact some of the worlds most prestigious and popular music festivals are held in this country, the most obvious being Glastonbury. However, it’s not just large gatherings in fields that make our summer music circuit so important and successful. In-between the massive festivals there are pub festivals, ale festivals, folk festivals in beer gardens, garden fetes, retro festivals, food festivals and many more. All of which attribute to the fantastic grassroots events that make this country a hub for entertainment. Not only are these hubs for live music but life in general, they build community spirit and allow people an escape. Every year in Britain, almost 1000 festivals take place and they are currently on the brink of decimation due to the uncertainty of just when ‘normal’ may return. 

After the wipe out of last year the prospects for 2021 hang in the balance. Organisers and punters alike hope for a return to action later this year, specifically the summer. However, time is of the essence. According to evidence given to a parliamentary select committee this month, big festivals such as Glastonbury need to know this month of they can go ahead or they won’t have time to organise. Smaller events and festivals could possibly wait till March or April, but that would still be cutting it thin. 

If 2021 faces the same cancellations as 2020 then it could ruin the events sector. Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis said recently that “it would be curtains” if they were to face a repeat year of cancellations. 

Rumours of Glastonbury cancelling circled earlier in the year due to Mel B of the Spice Girls saying so during a radio interview. However, this was denied by organiser Emily Eavis who said “no news at this end”

Recently festival organisers and those involved in the music industry called on the government to introduce a government backed insurance scheme for events. The insurance would cover the sector if they needed to cancel due to Coronavirus. They argued that without this there would be no way they could financially survive the cancellation nor begin to plan without that security. This argument, and an official date after which festivals would be allowed to operate, was recently brought forward to the cross-party culture select committee. 

Such backstops exist in other countries. Last month, the German government announced a €2.5bn cancellation fund for events in the second half of 2021. The purpose is the ensure that festivals don’t get stung with upfront costs such as artist deposits and crew costs in the wake of a cancellation. 

Speaking to the select committee Anna Wade, organiser of Boomtown said: “It is a very challenging road in front of us but not impossible.” Anna has a real fear that if Boomtown cannot go ahead this year, it may not ever return. This is something that is felt throughout the whole events industry, particularly festivals. 

For a long time events have worked and gone through local government, who have given the permits, grants and support needed for festivals to thrive. Now state government must take the reins to support and aid this clearly important (for many reasons) and financially thriving industry. Time is running out and the government must act or we face one of the largest cultural destructions in modern history, but it needn’t be that way. New Zealand has managed to do it and now has live music returning to a normal capacity, most of the EU member states have put in generous fail-safes and now we all nervously watch how the UK government will act. 

Gearslutz Forum Faces Petition To Change Its Name

Image credit: Change.org

A petition on change.org is gaining momentum with over 4000 signatures.

Pro audio forum gearslutz is facing pressure from a change.org petition to change its name. The petition set a target of 5000 signatures and is currently sat at roughly 4,700. 

Cam Ran, who started the petition wrote: “Most of the engineers I know feel uncomfortable with the name.” She continues: “It might not seem like a big deal, and people will likely say that we should focus our energies on bigger issues of equality, but we can do both. We can talk about the things in our community that make us uncomfortable, starting with this website created by men, who have never been called ‘slut’ in a hateful and derogatory way. Who have never had to prove their merit in their field simply because of their gender. Who have never had someone assume that their level of success was due to the fact that they slept with the right person.” 

Cam further states: “Aside from making some people feel a bit upset, it’s also just a very unprofessional name that makes people uncomfortable in an educational environment or workplace… If you’re angered or annoyed by this request, truly ask yourself why.”

Jules Standen, the founder of Gearsltuz recently responded but failed to acknowledge why the name may cause offence. In a statement he said that the name was “not intended to send a derogatory message to women or to discourage them from participating in the forum. It was simply meant to poke fun at some people’s pro audio shopping habits.” He continues: “If women who are put off by the name were to look at the forum itself, they would find it a very welcoming place. In fact, from the very outset, because male participants were in the majority, we have done our very best to make the forum a safe place for women in terms of site content and visitor behaviour.”

Naturally, there is a divide among the fanbase over the name change with some crying cancel culture. However, this isn’t the first time the site has had issues with its name. In 2011 the site created a SFW skin which replaces the logo “gearslutz.com” with “gearz.com“. This was due to users saying they were getting funny looks from family members and co-workers. 

So it’s pretty easy to see that the name just isn’t fit for purpose, insulting and just inappropriate. Perhaps a name change would be better suited for the active users and wider community.