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Posts tagged with "music"

Apple Announces the 2021 Apple Music Awards

The Apple Music Awards are back, honoring artists in several categories. This is the third year Apple has held the awards and, as was the case the past two years, honors were bestowed for Global Artist of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Top Song of the Year, and Top Album of the Year. This year, however, the company also named five Regional Artists of the Year for Africa, France, Germany, Japan, and Russia:

“The past 12 months have proved to be a remarkable year for music, and we’re thrilled to honor the artists who are shaping culture and connecting with fans around the world on Apple Music,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats. “This year we’re also recognizing more regional artists, showing the world the impact of extraordinary talented musicians who are making waves globally.”

Each Apple Music Award is commemorated with a unique award featuring a 12-inch silicon wafer suspended between a sheet of glass and anodized aluminum. Similar to last year, Apple is celebrating the annual awards with “interviews, original content, and more” on Apple Music and the Apple TV app beginning December 7th.

Olivia Rodrigo was honored with three awards this year.

Olivia Rodrigo was honored with three awards this year.

The 2021 Apple Music Awards winners are:

Wizkid was among five Regional Artists of the Year chosen by Apple this year.

Wizkid was among five Regional Artists of the Year chosen by Apple this year.

It’s not surprising that Olivia Rodrigo won multiple awards this year. Few artists have had the immediate impact on music streaming services that Rodrigo has. It’s also good to see Apple add regional Artists of the Year for the first time. Music is a global media force, but that hasn’t diminished the importance and impact of the medium on a regional level. I hope Apple expands the regional Artist of the Year category to other countries and regions in the future.

Also, it will be interesting to see what Apple has in store beginning December 7th. Events like the Apple Music Awards are the sort of opportunity for integration across multiple Apple services that the company hasn’t done a lot of to date. I’d love to see interviews, live performances, music video collections, playlists, album commentaries by the winners, and podcasts brought together in a unified package that makes it easy to access all related content.


Jason Tate’s Dedicated Now Playing Mini-Computer

Source: Chorus.fm.

Source: Chorus.fm.

As you can imagine, Jason Tate, Chorus.fm’s founder, listens to a lot of music. He wanted a dedicated device that displays the music he listens to throughout the day, so as a weekend project, he built what he wanted:

A small Raspberry Pi powered screen that displays what I am currently listening to. It sits, unassuming, next to my computer on the desk. When no music is playing it displays my most listened to albums from the past week, as well as some my music listening stats pulled from Last.fm.

The device consists of a Raspberry Pi Zero WH, a 4” screen, a 3D-printed enclosure, and other parts. The Pi runs Linux, serving a purpose-built website hosted on a Chorus.fm server that periodically polls the Last.fm API to fetch the currently playing song. The Now Playing screen’s design looks fantastic and is inspired by Marvis Pro, an Apple Music client for the iPhone and iPad that I wrote about last week in MacStories Weekly. If nothing is playing, the device shows Tate’s Last.fm listening stats and top albums played during the past week.

A nice final touch is that Tate’s creation can be controlled entirely with a shortcut that run shell scripts on the Raspberry Pi, allowing it to be shut down, rebooted, and refreshed, or the screen to be turned on and off separately.

I love projects like this and immediately began thinking of ways it could be extended using Apple’s MusicKit framework. Tate is using the device he built on his desk, but the size would work in a lot of environments like a kitchen countertop or bedside table. With the cold weather descending on Chicago, this seems like the perfect sort of project to dig into after the holidays. If you’re interested in learning more and building your own, Jason Tate’s story includes everything you’ll need.

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A Comprehensive Guide to 250+ of Apple Music’s New Mood and Activity Playlists

On Monday, Apple announced that it was expanding the integration between Siri and Apple Music. Zane Lowe, Apple Music’s co-head of Artist Relations and radio host, explained that the company’s team of music experts had created hundreds of playlists for moods and activities. Ask Siri to play a playlist for your dinner party, to help you relax, or for hiking and Lowe said Siri will start a playlist that fits the moment.

Apple also announced Apple Music Voice Plan, a $5/month tier for Apple Music that is operated using Siri. The new playlists are perfect for the new monthly plan, but they’re available to all Apple Music subscribers.

Apple's Zane Lowe introduced the company's new mood and activity playlists and Apple Music Voice Plan.

Apple’s Zane Lowe introduced the company’s new mood and activity playlists and Apple Music Voice Plan.

The playlists have begun showing up on Apple Music, so last night, Federico and I began searching the streaming service to see what’s new. What we found was over 250 playlists each designed to fit a mood or activity that use animated cover art with simple line drawings to set them apart from Apple’s other playlist. Although they were announced as Siri playlists during the event on Monday, anyone with an Apple Music subscription can view and play the new playlists in the Music app like any other playlist in the service’s collection.

Anyone with an Apple Music subscription can play the new mood and activity playlists in the Music app.

Anyone with an Apple Music subscription can play the new mood and activity playlists in the Music app.

You won’t find a directory of the new mood and activity playlists in the Music app, and there’s no filter that can be applied to see the entire collection, so we’ve complied a massive link list of all the playlists we have been able to find so far, organized into categories. Think of it as a sort of ultimate MacStories Unwind weekend pick.

To make it fast and easy to access Apple’s new playlists, Federico has also created a shortcut organized by the categories. You can grab the shortcut below or visit the MacStories Shortcuts Archive where you’ll find it along with hundreds of other shortcuts we’ve published over the years.

Apple Music Siri Playlists

View and open Apple Music’s new playlists without using Siri.

Get the shortcut here.

We’ll add to this list as we find new playlists, so if you find one that you don’t see here, get in touch with me or Federico on Twitter and we’ll add it to the list.

Happy

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Shazam Crosses 1 Billion Songs Recognized from Control Center

Today, Shazam surpassed 1 billion songs recognized using its Music Recognition control available in iOS and iPadOS’s Control Center. That’s a huge number, especially considering that the feature was first added in iOS and iPadOS 14.2 less than a year ago.

The Music Recognition control can be added to Control Center from the Settings app. When tapped, the feature creates a digital fingerprint of the audio and sends it over the Internet for matching against Shazam’s database of songs, securely and privately making a match without sending the actual audio. In addition to recognizing songs playing around you, the feature can recognize songs played in any app and even while you’re wearing AirPods.

According to Apple, the ten most Shazamed songs from Control Center are:

  1. “Talking To The Moon” - Bruno Mars
  2. “Astronaut In The Ocean” - Masked Wolf
  3. “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” - Lil Nas X
  4. “Beggin” - Måneskin
  5. “Another Love” - Tom Odell
  6. “Runaway” - AURORA
  7. “Dick” - StarBoi3 Feat. Doja Cat
  8. “Arcade” - Duncan Laurence
  9. “Stay” - The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber
  10. “drivers license” - Olivia Rodrigo

Earlier this summer, the Shazam app crossed 1 billion daily songs recognized and a lifetime total of over 50 billion. With the release of iOS and iPadOS 15, developers will be able to incorporate song recognition into their own apps using ShazamKit, which will undoubtedly accelerate the number of songs recognized even further.

Viewing recently recognized songs from Control Center.

Viewing recently recognized songs from Control Center.

The Music Recognition control doesn’t save songs it recognizes to the Shazam app, which I wish it did, but when iOS and iPadOS 15 are released, users will be able to touch and hold the control to reveal a list of recently-recognized songs. Selecting a song from the list opens it in the Shazam app. Alternately, you can swipe left on an entry to delete it.

I’ve used Shazam since long before it was acquired by Apple, and the Music Recognition control has become one of my most-used Control Center features since it launched. Whether I’m out somewhere and hear a song I like or watching a TV show with an interesting soundtrack, quickly swiping down to access Control Center has become an ingrained habit at this point.


Apple Releases Remix Sessions, Sound Packs, and Producer Packs for GarageBand on the iPhone and iPad

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Today, Apple announced Sound Packs for GarageBand for iOS and iPadOS from artists and producers that allow users to remix hit tracks from Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga and create their own music, using hundreds of loops and sounds from producers that include Boys Noize, Mark Lettieri, Oak Felder, Soulection, Take A Daytrip, Tom Misch, and TRAKGIRL.

Apple VP of Worldwide Product Marketing Bob Borchers explained that:

GarageBand continues to be a catalyst for music creation — making it easy for novices to get started and for seasoned pros to develop their ideas on the go. For this update, we’ve collaborated with an incredible group of artists and producers to give musicians an amazing collection of new sounds to play with, and we hope even more people will be inspired to tap into their creativity and start making music in GarageBand.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

The Remix Sessions feature Break My Heart by Dua Lipa and Free Woman by Lady Gaga and allow users to remix the tracks using GarageBand’s built-in tools. Apple is also releasing seven Producer Packs from big names in music production. According to Apple’s press release:

Each Producer Pack is bursting with hundreds of royalty-free loops, beats, instruments, drum kits, synth patches, and samples that embody the sound and vibe of each producer. And in-app videos feature each producer offering words of encouragement to beginners, as well as insights into their creative process.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

One of the Producer Packs will serve as a companion piece to an upcoming docuseries with producer Mark Ronson called “Watch the Sound With Mark Ronson.” The TV+ series, which Apple says “explores and celebrates the intersection of music and technology,” will let GarageBand users create music using sounds inspired by the series.

I’m a little surprised that the Mac version of GarageBand isn’t part of Apple’s announcement today, but I love these sorts of add-ons to apps like GarageBand. This content allows fans of artists and producers to work with the same raw materials they do to come up with remixes and original music that express their personal tastes using a tool that is very approachable and fun.


Doppler for Mac Offers an Excellent Album and Artist-Focused Listening Experience for Your Owned Music Collection

I haven’t purchased much music in the past six years or so, but there was a time when it was a big part of my entertainment spending. I still have a huge collection of albums ripped from CDs I bought and later purchased online from the iTunes Store. That changed with the advent of streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, Beats Music, and later Apple Music. I still have those files frozen in time on the 2015 Mac mini I use as a Plex server. So, when Ed Wellbrook told me he was bringing Doppler, his excellent iPhone music player to the Mac, I figured it was time to dust of my old music collection and give it a try.

Doppler, which we’ve covered before here and in MacStories Weekly, including, most recently, Issues 252, 261, and 275, is a music player for people who buy their music. Apple’s Music app continues to maintain backward compatibility for users who own their music libraries, but Apple’s focus these days is squarely on streaming, not purchasing. That’s left apps like Doppler to fill the void offering features like the ability to add new music to your library from an iPhone, something that isn’t possible with Apple Music.

The minute you try Doppler, you can tell it’s made by someone who cares deeply about music and the experience of listening to it. The interface puts albums and artists front and center, focusing on album art and simple, intuitive controls to make listening to music on-the-go a pleasure.

Wellbrook has brought the same sensibility to a native Mac version of the app, which was released today. Doppler for Mac is a lot like what I’d imagine Apple’s Music app would be like if Music were split into separate apps for streaming and owned music. That’s not likely to ever happen, but fortunately, Doppler has you covered if you own your music.

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Sofa 3.0 Adds New Ways to Manage Your Media Lists Along With a New Business Model

Sofa 3.0, an app that I last reviewed in March, is out with loads of new ways to track, organize, and browse the media lists you create. The app also has a new subscription business model for its pro features.

Media recommendations come at us all from every angle, whether it’s friends and family or sources like reviews. You can save lists of books, movies, videogames, and other media you want to try in lots of ways. You could use an app like Apple’s Notes or Reminders, but they’re general-purpose apps that don’t address the specific needs related to media consumption. Plus, trying to track media in something like a task manager gets out of control and messy fast.

Another option is to turn to an app designed for a specific type of media, and there are many good options available on the App Store. The advantage Sofa has, is that it makes it just as easy to pick a book as a movie or something else when you’re deciding what media to try next. It’s a subtle but important distinction. With single-purpose apps, you need to decide what kind of media you want to consume and then turn to an app to pick something. Sofa dispenses with the first step allowing you to answer a broader question: “How do I want to spend my free time?” That a one-stop approach is one of Sofa’s greatest strengths and one that the app leans into hard with the latest excellent update.

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Shazam Passes 1 Billion Monthly Songs Recognized for a Lifetime Total of More Than 50 Billion

WWDC saw the introduction of ShazamKit, a new framework that will allow third-party developers to incorporate the song recognition service into their own apps. Less than a week later, Apple has said that the service has surpassed 1 billion songs recognized per month for a total of over 50 billion Shazams since the service launched.

“Shazam is synonymous with magic,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, “both for the fans getting a song recognition almost instantly, and for the artists being discovered. With 1 billion recognitions a month, Shazam is one of the most popular music apps in the world. Today’s milestones show not only people’s love for Shazam, but also the ever-growing appetite for music discovery around the world.”

To put the 1 billion per month figure into context, Shazam, which was founded as a text messaging service in 2002, took 10 years to reach its first billion songs recognized. The recognition rate has been steadily increasing since then for a lifetime total of over 50 billion songs matched.

This fall, when Apple’s updated OSes are released, the monthly rate of Shazam matches is poised to accelerate further as developers begin adding ShazamKit to their apps. The new song matching framework was announced last week at WWDC and will allow developers to add functionality to their apps to recognize songs and report information to users like the song’s name, the artist, genre, and other details.

I’ve used Shazam since it debuted when the App Store launched, and I’m intrigued to see what developers will do with it. For example, I could see it becoming a convenient way to add artists I’m following in Marcos Tanaka’s app MusicHarbor. With a wealth of third-party music apps already available on the App Store, I expect we’ll see many innovative uses of the new framework soon.


Apple Announces Spatial Audio and Lossless Playback for Apple Music Subscribers Coming in June

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Today, Apple announced that beginning in June, it will offer Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos to its Apple Music collection. The company also announced that it is bringing Lossless Audio to the entire Music catalog. Both features are being added to Apple Music at no additional cost to subscribers.

According to Apple’s press release:

“Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats. “Listening to a song in Dolby Atmos is like magic. The music comes from all around you and sounds incredible. Now we are bringing this truly innovative and immersive experience to our listeners with music from their favorite artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and so many more. Subscribers will also be able to listen to their music in the highest audio quality with Lossless Audio. Apple Music as we know it is about to change forever.”

Spatial Audio will be the default playback option for AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, including AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, BeatsX, Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats Studio3, Powerbeats3 Wireless, Beats Flex, Powerbeats Pro, and Beats Solo Pro. The feature will be available with other headphones, too, by going to Settings → Music → Audio and setting Dolby Atmos to ‘Always On.’ The playback feature is also supported by the latest models of iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple TVs. At launch, Apple says there will be thousands of tracks available with Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos support and that new ones will be added continuously. Music that supports the feature will be badged in the Music app so subscribers can find it more easily.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

In addition to Spatial Audio, Apple is offering lossless audio versions of the entire Apple Music catalog beginning in June, which Apple confirmed to The Verge, is an Apple Music exclusive. In other words, you won’t be able to purchase lossless versions of music from the iTunes Store. The 75 million songs in the catalog will use the ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) format and start with CD-quality 16-bit audio at 44.1 kHz and go up to 24 bit at 48 kHz. Apple will also offer Hi-Resolution Lossless up to 24 bit at 192 kHz, for which subscribers will need an external USB DAC. Lossless playback is also opt-in due to the large file sizes involved. After iOS, iPadOS 14.6, macOS 11.4, and tvOS 14.6 are released, you’ll go to Settings → Music → Audio Quality to pick between Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless. From the details released today, it is not clear whether AirPods and Beats wireless headphones will support Apple’s lossless formats.

As someone who owns good quality headphones, I’m glad to see Apple adding lossless options to Apple Music. Spatial Audio is intriguing too. It remains to be seen how widely adopted it will be, but I’ve enjoyed it with video via the TV app, so I’m eager to try it with Apple Music too.