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Listen to how pop hits have evolved over the years

There’s a simple antidote to the endless circular “pop music was better in the old days” debate: actually listen to the songs. A new interactive tool lets you do just that. But warning: it may not be as pleasurable to turn back time as you think.

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In the Age of Beats and Spotify, Winners – and Opportunities

There is an accelerating transformation of music listening; that much is clear. And if you change the way people listen, you will change the way people produce. So who and what wins in this brave new world? Let’s consider. The month of May brought still more signs of tectonic shifts, with Apple buying Beats and Spotify showing no signs of slowing. The Apple acquisition of Beats can’t really be measured in dollars, because Apple has so much cash on-hand. (US$150 billion – and expect that dry powder to start getting loaded into cannons.) At least unlike Facebook or Google, Apple …

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Deep in Debt, Big Retailer Guitar Center May Be Acquired

While the biggest US name in pro audio made headlines last week with uncertain financial news, so, too, did the biggest US name in music retail. Yes, we were so caught up watching Avid, makers of Pro Tools, Sibelius, and Media Composer, as they were dropped from NASDAQ and delayed earnings reports once again, we missed the latest on Guitar Center. The big box music giant may not be able to keep up with its debt. The Wall Street Journal [paywall] reports that the retailer’s largest creditor is in “advanced talks” with owner Bain Capital to take over the company. …

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Avid Delays Financial Reporting, But Promises Brighter Future, Including Pro Tools and Sibelius

Avid, makers of Pro Tools, Media Composer, Sibelius, and other products was on Tuesday suspended from being traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange because of a failure to issue timely financial statements. And the company by the admission of its own chief executive faces a changing industry. However, our earlier report included inaccurate information from financial analysis site The Street. Their report included outdated financial data. Our reporting was not correct; we have since spoken to Avid. The Street reporting (and thus ours, in building a report on it) was inaccurate and misleading in that financial data for Avid actually …

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The POD that changed everything. Photo (CC-BY) Lauri Rantala.

Yamaha will Acquire Line 6, Major Innovator in Guitar Tech

Even in a big year for acquisitions – with Gibson acquiring Cakewalk, for one – this news comes as a surprise to many of us. Yamaha, the 1887-founded Japanese conglomerate with a stake in everything from golf carts to wheelchairs to jetskis to pianos, is acquiring Line 6, the independent California-based guitar and sound product manufacturer. Yamaha is a huge force in products for music and sound, without question, with an unparalleled design, manufacturing, and distribution apparatus. And music is at their core – look closely at those motorcycles and jetskis, and there’s a reason you’ll see tuning forks. Yamaha …

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Sibelius Core Team Now at Steinberg, Building New Notation Tool

Avid’s Sibelius score writer, seen here, no longer has the team that once led its development. But those veterans are now planning something new – and are now working for Steinberg. In the production of printed scores and traditional notation, two tools have loomed large for over a decade: Sibelius and Finale. So, for publishers, composers, arrangers, and teachers who use scoring software, it was a big deal when it became clear over the summer that a reorganization at Avid pushed the core development team of Sibelius out of the company. That raised some protests among users, and serious doubts …

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How Music Label Vlek Makes Ephemeral Sound Physical, While Giving Away Their Catalog [Gallery, Interview]

When music moved from live venues to radios and recordings, artists had to find a way to respond. Now, labels struggle to be heard in the era of Spotify and streaming, always-on, always-overabundant media. We could talk grander themes, but the possibilities of this conflict are most vivid in a microcosm. Call it post-digital or what you will, but being digital now means something different. For Belgian label, Vlek, that reality takes a number of forms, suggestive of the direction for independent electronic music. And so, in Ssaliva’s release for Vlek, executed by Dimitri Runkkari (part of Brussels’ design studio …

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Codanova, Visual MIDI Controller Maker, Closes Shop, Too

Stay with us here. So, yesterday, I reported a French boutique manufacturer of custom visual hardware unexpectedly closed shop and ceased all operations, and will shortly discontinue support of its products. Okay, you can now insert into the sentence above “Vixid, maker of hardware mixers,” or “Codanova, maker of hardware controllers.” That’s two boutique French VJ-fused gear makers shuttering at nearly the same moment. As far as we know, the timing of the two of them is coincidental. (If someone can explain why this happened at the same time, please do. It seems hard to believe there wasn’t some common …

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Whatever the implications for labels and artists, Facebook users have spoken, giving connected listening a big thumbs-up. Photo (CC-BY) JOHANNES FUCHS resp. GOIABA.

As Facebook Users Hit 1 Billion, Music Listening is Socially-Connected Online [Numbers]

Facebook is bragging about one number, in particular – one billion users – this week. But they’re also releasing some other hard numbers on how people are using their service. Much has been made of how Facebook has transformed social gaming and, via Instagram specifically, photography. But just on Instagram’s heels is none other than Facebook app Spotify. According to analytics site AppData, Spotify is ranked #12 with 22.1 million users, calculated as a monthly active figure, just behind Instagram at #4 with 33 million. Pandora has about a third of that, while other apps lag far behind. It wouldn’t …

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Beck Uses Sheet Music, Illustrations in Place of an Album; Could “Sing it Yourself” Have a Future?

Before recording, there was simply music making. When you wanted to hear music, you had to find some actual living, breathing, fleshy musicians to make it happen. “Live” was the only kind of music. And prior to the record album, the mass publication of sheet music was the disruption that built a music industry. But there’s no reason people can’t get together and play music themselves. So, the first question you might ask, when seeing that Beck is releasing an “album” in the form of a set of sheet music, is, “why not?” And, for music in general, “why not …

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