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Posts tagged with "music"

Apple Adds Live Music Features to Maps and Music

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Today, Apple has launched new Apple Maps and Music features for live music fans. Apple Maps has added more than 40 Guides highlighting over 10 venues worldwide. In addition to editorial content about the music scenes in the featured cities, users can learn more about each venue and its upcoming shows using features that the Shazam app incorporated last spring, using information from Bandsintown.

Apple Music Guides.

Apple Music Guides.

In the Music app, Apple has created a new category called Set Lists that offers information about major artists’ concerts, along with a playlist of songs they’re playing on tour. Apple’s press release says users can browse upcoming shows of the artists spotlighted in Set Lists using the same Shazam tools that power the similar Apple Maps feature too.

Set Lists. Source: Apple.

Set Lists. Source: Apple.

The new Apple Music Guides announced today include Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City, San Francisco, Berlin, London, Paris, Vienna, Tokyo, Melbourne, Sydney, and Mexico City. To view the guides, you can visit apple.co/MusicVenues. Set Lists are beginning to appear in Apple Music, too, although as of publication, I’ve only been able to locate them via search. Later, you should be able to browse all Set Lists at apple.co/setlists too.

It’s fantastic to see Apple Music and Maps expanding into live music. These sorts of features are something that Federico and I have been hoping Apple would implement for years, and I hope with time, we’ll see more guides for more cities around the world as well as a growing collection of Set Lists.


MusicSmart 2.0: Dig Into Music Discovery

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Marcos Tanaka’s music apps at MacStories. MusicHarbor makes keeping up with new and upcoming releases a breeze, and MusicBox ensures you won’t lose track of music that you don’t have time to enjoy until later. The apps are indispensable for music fans who follow a long list of artists.

MusicSmart, which is available for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, is a little different than Tanaka’s other apps. Instead of casting a broad net to track the entire range of your musical tastes, the app is about digging deeper into individual songs, albums, or artists’ catalogs. But follow the threads offered by MusicSmart, and the narrow focus that sets it apart from Tanaka’s other apps will paradoxically lead to new musical discoveries and, ultimately, broaden your tastes.

As Federico explained in his review of MusicSmart’s debut:

Whether by design or as a byproduct of our new habits, metadata and credits don’t play a big role in modern music streaming services. We’re frustrated when a service gets the title of a song wrong or reports the incorrect track sequence in an album, but we don’t consider the fact that there’s a world of context and additional information hidden behind the songs and albums we listen to every day. That context is entirely invisible to us because it’s not mass-market enough for a music streaming service. There have been small updates on this front lately, but by and large, credits and additional track information are still very much ignored by the streaming industry. And if you ask me, that’s a shame.

Despite stiff competition among music streaming services, the state of liner notes hasn’t improved since Federico wrote that. Fortunately, though, MusicSmart has only gotten better, adding new data sources, better organization, and more polish with each release. However, version 2.0 of the app combines its existing strengths with new features and an improved design in a way that transcends earlier versions, making this version 2.0 of MusicSmart feel more fully realized than ever before.

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Apple Music Classical to Launch on March 28th

Source: App Store.

Source: App Store.

On March 28th, Apple will launch Apple Music Classical, a free app that’s already available for pre-order that will offer a catalog of over 5 million classical recordings to Apple Music subscribers at no additional cost.

The app, which will be iPhone-only at launch, has been anticipated for months. Apple acquired Primephonic, a classical music streaming service in August 2021, and said at the time that it would release an Apple-branded classical music streaming service the following year. 2022 came and went without a new app, but references to the new service began appearing in iOS beta releases, leading observers to believe that a release was imminent.

Apple says that Classical’s 5 million tracks, which include thousands of exclusives, is the largest in the world and has “complete and accurate” metadata. The company also says in the app’s release notes:

Apple Music Classical also makes it easy for beginners to get acquainted with the genre thanks to hundreds of Essentials playlists, insightful composer biographies, deep-dive guides for many key works, and intuitive browsing features.

Classical’s search will also be optimized for the genre, include editorial content, and be streamed at up to 192 kHz/24-bit Hi-Res Lossless, with thousands of tracks supporting spatial audio with Dolby Atmos.

Users can pre-order the free app today from the App Store, which will be downloaded to their iPhones on March 28th when the app goes live.


Hands-On with Apple Music for Windows

Apple Music for Windows.

Apple Music for Windows.

Last week, Apple released native versions of Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Devices for Windows. The apps, which are available on the Microsoft Store, are labeled as “previews”, and they’re meant to eventually serve as replacements for iTunes for Windows, which is the only flavor of iTunes Apple still distributes after they transitioned to standalone media apps a few years ago. I suppose the apps are also part of a broader strategy from Apple to establish a stronger presence of their services on Windows, as we saw last year with the launch of Apple Music on Xbox and iCloud Photos on Windows (which joined the existing iCloud configuration panel for Windows devices).

As an Apple Music subscriber and owner of a Windows gaming laptop, I thought it’d be fun to take Apple Music for a spin and see how it compares to Spotify on Windows as well as the existing Apple Music experience for Apple’s platforms, which I know very well and enjoy on a daily basis.

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Sofa 3.4: List Sharing, Shortcuts Actions, Lock Screen Widgets, and More

Shawn Hickman is back with another excellent update to Sofa, the downtime/media organization app for iPhone and iPad that we’ve covered several times on MacStories. Sofa remains my favorite one-stop app for managing lists of media I don’t want to forget to enjoy later. The app supports TV shows, movies, books, audiobooks, videgames, music, podcasts, board games, and apps, making it the most comprehensive media organizer I’ve used. However, what makes Sofa special is its design and extensive customization options, which is why it was the runner-up for Best App Update in last year’s MacStories Selects awards.

What I appreciate most about version 3.4 of Sofa is that it extends the app beyond its existing boundaries with list sharing and new Shortcuts support. To round out the update, Sofa also adds Lock Screen widget support and TV and movie provider details for Super Sofa subscribers. It’s an excellent batch of new features for an app that I already consider one of the finest in its category.

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Last.fm Turns 20 – and People Are Still Scrobbling

I enjoyed this story about Last.fm’s 20th (!) anniversary by Jacob Kastrenakes, writing for The Verge:

I was a little surprised to see that Last.fm was still around when I first started writing this story, let alone that it had new communities flourishing around its data. (The company didn’t respond to a request for an interview.) But I suppose in a world where most services close off and hide your data, there’ll always be people looking for a way to track it and analyze it themselves. And in exchange, they get the joy of arguing about music stats every day — and not just once a year when Wrapped comes out.

My co-hosts on Connected like to make fun of me for being One of Those People Who Still Scrobbles, but I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve done for my music consumption in the past few years. (That, plus having an offline library with albums I own that I can enjoy with my favorite headphones and amp – which I also scrobble via Roon.) Ever since I started scrobbling again last year thanks to Marvis Pro on iPhone and iPad (and NepTunes on the Mac), I’ve been able to enjoy some fascinating monthly and annual breakdowns of my music listening habits that go much more in depth than Apple Music or Spotify would ever want to.

An example of a monthly Last.fm report.

An example of a monthly Last.fm report.

In Internet years, it’s pretty wild for anything to turn 20 – let alone a service that faces competition from the likes of Apple and Spotify. And yet Last.fm has been able to carve a niche for itself by appealing to people like me, who want to know more about the music they listen to. Maybe it’s a weird thing to say in 2022, but if you listen to a lot of music every day, I can’t recommend dusting off your old Last.fm account enough.

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Rogue Amoeba’s Loopback Was the Key to Creating a Budget 12-Channel Dolby Atmos Surround Sound System

If you’ve ever dug into setting up a surround sound audio system, it gets complicated and expensive fast. But, DMS, a YouTuber who covers headphones and other audio gear, managed to pull off something extraordinary: a 12-speaker Dolby Atmos surround sound speaker setup for under $2,000. The secret sauce? Loopback by Rogue Amoeba.

DMS bought 12 speakers and a bunch of DACs, but immediately had trouble getting the system to decode a Dolby Atmos signal without buying an expensive decoder. Ultimately, the solution was to use Loopback to combine the DACs into one virtual multichannel DAC, a far cheaper solution than trying to handle 12 channels at once.

DMS’s setup has been documented for anyone who wants to try it themselves. What struck me about it is how well Loopback handled an incredibly complex setup and saved DMS thousands of dollars by creating a software version of what otherwise would have required expensive hardware. This is a terrific example of why so many people turn to Rogue Amoeba’s apps when they need to do something with audio on the Mac, whether it’s as simple as recording a live track of their favorite band streaming in Safari, or as complex as a 12-channel Dolby Atomos surround sound system.

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Apple Music Announces Its 2022 Artist of the Year

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Today, Apple Music announced that Bad Bunny is its 2022 Artist of the Year. Un Verano Sin Ti, which Bad Bunny released in May, is the most streamed album on Apple Music and the biggest Latin album of all time.

In Apple’s press release, Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, said:

We’re thrilled to celebrate the achievements of Bad Bunny, whose influence on every corner of culture could not be ignored in 2022. Watching Bad Bunny ascend from an Apple Music Up Next artist in 2018 to our Artist of the Year this year has been nothing short of extraordinary. We congratulate him on his record-breaking year and for continuing to bring Latin music to a massive global audience.

Apple Music has created a dedicated section of the Music app celebrating Bad Bunny’s achievement and music. Bad Bunny has also taken over the La Fórmula playlist to spotlight some of his favorite Latin tracks. Plus, Apple Music 1 is dedicating today to Bad Bunny’s music, interviews with the artist, and more.

Apple’s Artist of the Year is celebrated with a unique award featuring a 12-inch silicon wafer suspended between a sheet of glass and anodized aluminum. Last year and in prior years, Apple announced additional awards like the Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, and more. This year, though, only an Artist of the Year was named.