Alibaba Music Connecting Fans and Artists With New Planet App

Alibaba Music have upgraded their music streaming with a new online platform to connect fans with members of the industry called Alibaba Planet.

Alibaba Planet is the new music based social app from Chinese digital giants Alibaba. They say that it will open up an opportunity for fans to connect with artists and vice-versa. It could also be translated to connecting sellers with buyers.

Using the app on your smartphone users will be able to follow their favourite artists and stars to keep up to date with their activity on the app, take part in “fan activities”, buy music merch, and watch live streams of certain performances. The company also has licensing agreements with BMG and Universal Music Group to stream music, however not Warner Music Group or Sony Music.

Alibaba

Alibaba have taken on board music industry executive Song Ke to run as CEO. In a statement he said: “Alibaba Planet amplifies interaction among stars, users and merchants, creating more business opportunities and delivering more entertainment offerings.” He added that they plan “to become the world’s largest Internet-based music company, and to build up the commerce landscape for the global music and entertainment industry”. Ambitious talk in a market filled with behemoths like streamers Spotify and Pandora.

Alibaba Planet has a lot to live up to aiming to make artist interaction possible whilst providing an all-in-one platform for music, video and merchandising. Alibaba plan to launch an English version of the app later this year, though gave no specific date.

10 of the Top Free Drum VST Plugins

Having a good drum plugin is essential to your mix, whether you’re sampling or playing a drum synth it provides the blueprint to your tracks. We don’t all have the convenience of an in-house drummer and the control you have over the sound when using digital drums is unrivalled.
We’ve collected ten of the greatest drum plugins available so you’re never at a loss producing your beats.

If you don’t have a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) to insert plugins into we collected our ten favourite free DAWs here or if you just want to play around with them there’s a great list of VST hosts here.


Drumatic 3 by e-phonic (Windows)

Drumatic 3 is an analog drum synth that provides a great deal of flexibility thanks to it’s 100% synthesised sounds. There are graphical envelopes for each element of the ‘kit’ and 6 stereo outputs assignable to any of the seven different sounds. The video below doesn’t really explore Drumatic 3’s capabilities but it gives you an idea of the tools within it.

Download Drumatic 3 here where you can also demo and purchase Drumatic 4

MT Power Drum Kit by Manda Audio (Windows & Mac)

This kit is made up of samples and sounds brilliant. All sounds in the kit have been processed to give the best sound possible. You can adjust the compression levels yourself for a more personal sound and choose from a Groove Library of thousands of rhythms to accompany you. Check out this awesome plugin kit.

Download MT Power Drum Kit 2 here

SM MegaReaper Drumkit by SMM (Windows & Mac)

“The deepest sampled drum kit in the world” is your introduction to this incredible plugin. It features 127 velocity layers per kit piece and has 2-4 samples for each note velocity. It’s sampled from the excellent 1960s Ludwig Oyster Blue Pearl Drum Kit and has an unholy amount of amazing sounding samples. Unfortunately the kit only works with Reaper software but you can still download and use the almost 2 GB of drum samples in software of your choice.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/178900787″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Download SM MegaReaper Drumkit here

Beatfactory Drums by BeatSkillz (Windows & Mac)

This fat sounding drum machine emulator is sampled from the notorious MPC 2500 and is perfect for some heavy hip-hop beats. There are 10 kits included, an ADSR envelope to shape your sound and built in reverb to make your drum tracks boom. There are 12 pads each with individual faders and it’s simple interface means no-one gets left behind.

Download Beatfactory Drums here (you need to register – it’s quick and free)

 MiniSpillage by AudioSpillage (Mac)

MiniSpillage is a professional quality drum synth capable of high-res 64-bit DSP processing. It features a bass drum, flexible wood drum synthesising timbres to toms, and a 6 oscillator hi-hat generator each with a good level of customisable effects and filters.

Find out more and download MiniSpillage here

EXD-80 by Third Harmonic Studios (Windows)

This virtual analog drum and percussion synthesiser is capable of a massive range of sound, from old school drum machines to “crazy, mangled glitch sounds”. This plugin is great for loads of styles like Dubstep, ambient, drum & bass, hip-hop and many more.

Download EXD-80 here

TS-808 by Tactile Sounds (Windows)

What would a list of drum VSTs be without an 808 emulator in there somewhere. Tactile Sounds’ 808 is software emulated on the Roland TR-808 so you know it sounds great.  There are 15 different drum sounds with tune and decay knobs for most. Their creator claims his version has more parameters and range than their predecessor.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/136989″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Download TS-808 here

Drum Pro by StudioLinked (Windows & Mac)

Drum Pro includes 20 drum kits, all of which can be expanded with more sounds and kits from StudioLinked‘s website. It’s got a great electronic sound and it’s kits take samples from a variety of classic drum machines. The customisation with effects and parameters is unfortunately limited but you can tweak a number of parameters globally like attack and decay.

Download Drum Pro here

TheDrumSource by Witech (Windows)

This a sample based drum machine built by Ola Wistedt when a friend told him he missed being able to program drums like he could on classic hardware drum machine. It features a 24 pattern sequencer, each pattern can be a 16/32/64/128 sequence and it supports a massive range of audio files for your samples. It genuinely works as well as a proper drum machine and has unlimited potential with it’s easily navigated sample browser.

Download TheDrumSource here

MyDrumset by Bluenoise Plugins (Windows)

MyDrumset features kit recordings to recreate an acoustic kit in your computer. It sounds great as the recordings have been left untampered like many plugins so you have the noise of a raw kit. You can also set it up so each microphone sends separately to 12 different outputs so you can mix it like you would recording a real drum kit. There are 3 presets included recorded on a Ludwig Fab Four kit.

Unfortunately this gem seems to be fairly unknown and I couldn’t find any video/audio for it but you can hear some samples, find out more and download here.


That’s our list of ten of the greatest drum plugins available for free.Hopefully there’s some ammo to fuel a load of new beats for you in the list. Are there any you love that we missed? Let us know down in the comments below.


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UBS Analyst Says YouTube Will Be Central To Google’s Growth

Google are secretive with their statistics, keeping their revenues under wraps and even their Google Play Music Subscribers behind closed doors but a UBS analyst has predicted Google’s YouTube could earn $27 billion in revenues by 2020.

YouTube may be a multi-billion dollar company but according to stock analysis company Amigo Bulls YouTube made up just a small portion of Google’s revenues in 2015. Whilst YouTube grossed $8.5 billion last year, Google amassed $52.4 billion from websites.

Eric Sheridan, an analyst at UBS financial firm, feels however that YouTube has the best outlook for future growth and will become central to Google’s revenues in the coming years. Sheridan believes that YouTube will grow at a rate of 21% over the next four years, generating $27.4 billion in revenues by 2020.

According to charts by Barclays the time spent watching online videos is growing rapidly year on year, at the expense of traditional platforms like TV.

revenue

YouTube has thrived almost since it’s creation 10 years ago, rising every year. With it’s free platform, open to anyone around the world with internet access it draws in millions of people around the world. Whether Sheridan’s forecasts come true will have to be seen but if there’s one thing you can’t deny it’s that YouTube aren’t going anywhere soon.

‘Shazam For Brands’ First Step In Shazam’s World Domination

Today Shazam are launching their new ‘for Brands’ initiative to appear on everything you buy… well not quite everything.

Shazam have made their name, and business, naming songs for people who Shazam them. With it’s massive fingerprinting library Shazam can recognise almost any song you play to their app. In recent years Shazam have been branching beyond their roots with QR scanning and partnerships with companies, movies, artists and others to provide unique marketing experiences.

Shazam are now taking that to the next level with ‘Shazam for Brands‘, an initiative that lets companies partner with Shazam for unique digital experiences. So the same as before except on a bigger scale… Shazam’s unique style of digital marketing and massive platform of millions clearly appeals to many companies as they work with some of the biggest name brands in the world.

Shazam for Brands

Earlier this month Shazam began by partnering with Coca Cola to create a new bottle design that users could visually Shazam the label to record a lip-synced video of the song on the bottle. This isn’t Shazam’s first partnership with Coca Cola either as they “ran the first-ever drinkable commercial in the U.S. during college basketball’s biggest event: the Final Four”.

Shazam have also partnered with loads of other brands like KFC, Coors, Nike and movies like Jurassic World and Ant-Man. This initiative will no doubt put Shazam in contact with loads more companies and brands with their plan assumably to be on every product in the world. To be honest if having a scannable digital advert on everything I buy is as close to dystopian as our future gets we haven’t done too badly.

Full, Powerful and Free DAW For Macs – LNX_Studio

LNX_Studio gives you access to a full DAW for Mac packed with drum machines, synthesisers, effects and MIDI modules and is totally free.

LNX_Studio is now in version 2 and offers a full and brilliant Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for Mac users. With it’s powerful tools and expansive capabilities LNX_Studio makes it easy to create and record music. It is also a networked DAW so you can collaborate with others within the program and you don’t even have to be together.

Here’s an overview of some of the great features in LNX_Studio:

  • Networked collaborative DAW
  • Powerful Synthesis Engine (Supercollider)
  • Full MIDI integration
  • Virtual Analog synthesisers
  • Drum machines
  • Step Sequencers
  • Piano Roll (Import MIDI files)
  • Effects
  • Record Audio Out
  • Presets & Programs
  • Automation
  • Chord library
  • Design your own instruments and effects
  • Control external equipment

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt7gTyoFsj8?rel=0&w=480&h=360]

LNX_Studio v2.0 is available now and is compatible with Mac OS 10.8.5 and higher. Download it for free here.

Apple Celebrate Earth Day With New Exclusive Playlists

Apple continue their celebration of this friday’s Earth Day with 5 unique playlists that span genre and nature.

Apple have been commemorating the upcoming Earth Day since last Thursday with green shirts for retail employees, Apple store logos decorated with green leaves. Apple have even launched an app promotion called “Apps for Earth” that donates in-app purchases from partner apps to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

playlists

Now Apple have launched five new playlists on their streaming service Apple Music, each celebrating a different part of nature and the preservation of our Earth. Each playlist features 22-25 songs covering a variety of genres and artists that relate directly or per chance to the Earth and it’s protection.

Here are the 5 playlists and what they represent:

Celebrating Mother Earth – From sun and sky to seas and trees, musicians play tribute to the natural world in this set of uplifting tunes. Songs included are from artists like The Beatles, Coldplay, U2, Peter Gabriel , Michael Jackson, John Denver, and Cat Stevens.

Power Off – Laidback, moody, contemplative tunes for when it’s time to chill. Songs included are from artists like Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Sia, Adele, Maroon 5, Ryan Adams, and Alicia Keys.

From the Roots – Rustic. Earthy. Unplugged. Timeless. Revel in this mix of straight up classics from rock’s most iconic artists and their acoustic guitars. Songs included are from artists like Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Bon Iver, Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen, and The Who.

Recycle: Covers – Anything goes when these legendary tunes are given a brand-new touch. Songs include well-known covers from a number of artists like The White Stripes, David Bowie, Adele, Johnny Cash, Yo La Tengo, Saint Etienne, and Smashing Pumpkins.

Amor a la Naturaleza – What better way to pay homage to the natural world than with songs that celebrate the wonder all around us? In honour of Earth Day, these eclectic, electrifying Latin alternative artists do just that. Songs included are from artists like Alex Ferreira, Ana Tijoux, Ekhymosis, Nicola Cruz, Astro, Bomba Estéreo, and Chancha via Circuito.

You can find the new Earth Day playlists under ‘New’ in Apple Music, for Apple Music subscribers.

Playing Chords With One Button – Is This The Future of Learning Guitar?

It seems every week there’s a new “simpler way to learn guitar”. It’s true that learning guitar can be an arduous process with a steep learning curve. But does making it constantly easier really help anyone learn guitar?

The newest way to simplify learning guitar is Magic Instruments’ Rhythm Guitar which features 6 six strings at the body that cuts of at it’s fretboard full of buttons – think guitar hero controllers gone mad.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72TKzqgJZss?rel=0&w=640&h=360]

The idea of Rhythm Guitar is that each button is a chord so rather than grinding away to learn the positions and techniques that are vital to learning guitar you can start playing immediately. The strings in the body work individually so you can play different notes from a chord and explore playing with the right hand. It’s a nice feature and gives you an easy way to get used to playing strings without having the complication of your left hand, but it’s not enough.

It’s a nice idea and there really are loads of available chords – the default, largest buttons are major/minor chords beyond which you have variants like 7th chords, power chords, suspended chords, etc. But just strumming the chord, even experimenting with fingerpicking is useless without the other half of the guitar.

learning guitar

Rhythm Guitar creator, Brian Fan says he built the Rhythm Guitar because of his struggles picking the instrument up, saying: “I practiced one whole summer, and after 300 hours, I was a lousy player. I gave up. Quit.” Truthfully that’s one of the tragedies of the guitar – many start learning with good intentions and end up infuriated, vowing to never again play the smashed guitar on the floor. However I’m not sure that reducing the instrument to something that can just be picked up by anyone to play chords, there’s no learning involved.

One of the interesting features of the Rhythm Guitar is its companion app which they claim will have “tens of thousands of titles in our song catalog”. With the app you play along to songs which will show you which button number to press and play along with the song, the songs come at a cost but so does licensing tracks – fair enough. The problem with this method is it strays too far from playing an actual instrument again. It becomes a game, something that Rocksmith managed to do with real guitars already.

learning guitar

Verge writer Jacob Kastrenakes got to play around with the Rhythm Guitar, currently available in an Indiegogo campaign, and commented on why it doesn’t do it’s intended job. He said: “For total amateurs, like myself, the Rhythm Guitar’s problem is immediately clear: learning how to quickly press, locate, and move between it’s 90 buttons is about as challenging as learning to form chords on an actual guitar.”

Maybe this is a product that works for some and maybe it will inspire some people to take up the guitar seriously afterwards. But with a price tag starting at $299, normally $399, (a lot more than picking up a cheap guitar) I don’t think this provides enough of an experience to justify the price. How much further would it be to press play on a recording of a chord on your computer? You don’t learn where to put your fingers on an actual guitar, you don’t build strength in your fingers, there’s no trial and error teaching you the essentials of music theory and how it all comes together; this unfortunately all applies to the Rhythm Guitar.

learning guitar

You can make your own mind up, clearly people like the idea as it’s raised over 200% of it’s Indiegogo campaign goal, but I don’t think this is the tool that will inspire another generation of guitar players. If you want to play guitar nothing will ever match the real thing, that’s my 50 cents.

If you want to check out the Indiegogo page or even purchase one for yourself (hey, I won’t judge) you can check it out here: www.indiegogo.com/projects/mi-guitar-by-magic-instruments

SoundCloud Reveal Subscription Service Coming To Europe in 2016

SoundCloud launched SoundCloud Go, their first ever subscription model, last month in the US and now they’re extending their licenses with labels to bring it to Europe within the year.

To launch SoundCloud Go, SoundCloud’s new subscription service, they signed licenses with the major record labels, a move that put SoundCloud in good standing with the music industry as it had been criticised before for unlicensed music being uploaded to their site. SoundCloud today revealed they had expanded their license with Sony/ATV Music to launch Go in Europe.

Sony/ATV’s CEO, Martin Bandier said: “These deals for the US and Europe create the best opportunity for Sony/ATV and its songwriters to maximise the creative and revenue benefits of SoundCloud’s multi-territory business.”

SoundCloud founder and CEO, Alex Ljung added: “Our agreements with major partners are a significant part of achieving our ambition of allowing all forms of creative expression to live on our platform, while simultaneously ensuring rightsholders’ work is rewarded and respected.”

SoundCloud Go music streaming Europe

SoundCloud plan to introduce both SoundCloud Go and their ad-based free service to Europe this year. SoundCloud will need to expand their licenses with the other 3 major labels before taking their new services anywhere else, or else limit their catalog. Thanks to SoundCloud’s healthy new relationship with labels it shouldn’t be an issue however and their by-the-end-of-year target should be on course.

As SoundCloud’s model shifts, their platform thankfully remains the same. Some could predict this to be the first step in a move towards a more traditional streaming model, like Spotify or Apple Music. However SoundCloud has built itself on it’s community of unknown and rising artists and recognises fully where it’s niche lies – as an open, community-driven platform for music (and podcasts).

For now we will have to wait for the next piece of news on any actual dates Europe could be seeing SoundCloud Go. If you’re in the US you can subscribe now for $9.99 a month – find out more here.

Spotify and PlayStation Celebrate Anniversary After 5 Billion Streams

Last March Playstation joined forces with Spotify to launch PlayStation Music, now 5 billion streams later they’ve revealed who the top artists are and gaming soundtrack stats.

PlayStation Music is the Spotify powered music streaming service for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and Sony Xperia devices launched just over a year ago. Spotify revealed the news that they’ve since amassed an incredible 5 billion streams and revealed what the most popular tracks, artists and more are on PlayStation Music.

Their stats reveal that PlayStation users love hip-hop with the majority of top tracks and artists being hip-hop. It also showed that Grand Theft Auto 5 has the most popular game soundtrack on the service.

Here’s the Playstation Music charts for last year:

Most Streamed Artists
  • Drake
  • Eminem
  • Justin Bieber
  • The Weeknd
  • Fetty Wap
Most Streamed Tracks
  • Lean On (Feat. MØ & DJ Snake) – Major Lazer
  • See You Again (Feat. Charlie Puth) – Wiz Khalifa
  • Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd
  • Hotline Bling – Drake
  • Trap Queen – Fetty Wap
Most Streamed Gaming Soundtracks
  • The Music of Grand Theft Auto V, Vol. 1: Original Music
  • The Last of Us
  • Rocket League (Official Game Soundtrack)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Minecraft – Volume Alpha
Most Streamed Artists in the US
  • Drake
  • Future
  • Fetty Wap
  • The Weeknd
  • Eminem
Most Streamed Tracks in the US
  • Jumpman – Drake, Future
  • Hotline Bling – Drake
  • White Iverson – Post Malone
  • Me, Myself & I – G-Eazy, Bebe Rexha
  • Antidote – Travi$ Scott

Spotify also revealed that Saturday was the most popular time to listen on Sony devices whilst the hour with the most listening was  normally 8:00-9:00 PM on Fridays.

Shoom Gives You a Triple-Synth Playground For iPad

Shoom is an expressive XY pad synthesizer. Or, more precisely, three identical synthesizers in one app. It is capable of playing any pitch in the audible range and doesn’t necessarily limit you to a particular scale. Nevertheless, if you do want to use scales, Shoom can deliver anything from common 12-tone equal tempered to xenharmonic and microtonal.

Features:

General Features
  • Three independent synthesizers
  • 20-20,000 Hz pitch range
  • Slide freely or snap notes to scale with adjustable glide rate
  • Set notes to infinite hold using a dedicated toggle
  • Microtonal and non-octave repeating scales support
  • MIDI CC control and clock sync
  • Inter-App Audio and Audiobus 2 support
  • 60+ bundled presets
  • Import and export of presets and CC maps
Synthesizer Engine Features
  • Adjustable polyphony, up to 30 voices
  • Two oscillators with 4 waveforms and PWM, and one noise generator
  • Oscillator FM cross-modulation
  • 4 pole (24 dB/octave) resonant low pass filter with overdrive and pitch tracking
  • 2 variable slope ADSR envelopes for amplitude and filter cutoff
  • 2 LFOs with 9 waveforms, up to 3 out of 12 simultaneously assignable parameters, trigger and global running modes, fade-in and phase controls
  • Y axis position as modulation source with up to 3 of 15 simultaneously assignable parameters
  • Note pan randomizer
  • Built-in stereo delay and reverb effects

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDOn52FOJAQ?rel=0&w=480&h=360]

Shoom is available now on the Apple App Store at an introductory price of $5.99 and works on iPads running iOS 8.0 or later.