Digital Sales Up, But is Apple Monopoly the Price? NPD, Mint Data, Editorial Analysis

Data and images courtesy Mint.com. Mint.com, the online financial management tool, has put its numbers together with market researchers NPD Group to analyze music spending. The results: when it comes to consuming recorded music, digital music continues to rise. At the same time, so does Apple’s grip on the music consumption market, a combination that includes proprietary control of a music store, a music player, and the leading mobile device.

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Virtual Radios Made from Paper, RFID

Digital technology has transformed the listening experience. But there’s little in the way of physical artifacts of that act, and a diminished sense of humanized relationships to an individual being at the other end. From modern radio to Internet-streamed playlists, our listening world is DJed by automated robots in streams that flow through generic, mass-market speakers. The object and the content lack the design intention that imbued, for instance, the gorgeous radio sets of the early 20th Century and the personalities that narrated the programming. Armed with a lasercutter, designer Matt Brown has a novel concept for how to redesign …

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Does Music Creation Needs Its Own iPhone App Category?

One of the many unique synths that have been cropping up on Apple’s mobile devices, (CC) Beanbag Amerika. Rounding up my catch-up-on-iPod/iPhone-stories, here’s one from the developer perspective – one that could face music creation developers on the entire platform. The Apple iTunes App Store now faces the risk of becoming a victim of its own success. Music applications could be a big part of that, without some adjustments on Apple’s part. The problem is this: incoming music “fan” apps could flood out the music production apps that had enriched the mobile software platform since its debut. I think the …

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Wireless, Open Interaction: MSA Remote for iPhone, iPod touch Now Available, Finally

MSA Remote + VDMX + Ableton Live from Memo Akten on Vimeo. Imagine what’s now possible with a mobile phone: anyone with a supported device can jam with other artists, walk up to an installation, connect to other creators and other software, all using supported protocols. Leaving behind the days of painstaking manual adjustment of MIDI commands and obscure drivers, and even the act of having to physically connect gear, software – and with it, digital art – can simply talk to each other in standard ways. That’s why we’re excited about software like Memo Atken’s MSA Remote. It uses …

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Your Display Isn’t Authorized: DRM Flap on New Apple MacBooks

DRM on displays and projectors? Believe it. Apple, like many computer vendors, has added DRM to its new laptops in the form of HDCP (which, bizarrely, stands for “High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection”). This is doubly odd, because Apple cited technical restrictions of Blu-Ray as a reason for not including those drives on their machines – only to turn around and add restrictions to their own content on the iTunes store. It might not be worth mentioning at all, but it serves to demonstrate yet another disconnect between vendors and the way people actually use video output features on laptops. You …

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Hands-on with Bloom, New Generative iPhone App by Eno and Chilvers

Bloom is a new generative musical application for iPhone and iPod touch, created by Brian Eno and software designer Peter Shilvers. It’s quite simple, but if you’re looking for some soothing musical strains to float out of your mobile Apple device, this is your ticket. At launch, you’re given a choice of either using a pre-determined set of rules, or tapping in your own parameters and patterns. The touch interface lets you use your fingers to add note patterns, which then repeat and mutate. If you make your own composition, you’ll start those patterns from a blank slate, but even …

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flight404’s Magnetosphere the New Visualizer in iTunes 8?

Nova (audio by Helios) from flight404 on Vimeo. The rumor mill’s conventional wisdom is that iTunes 8 will be part of Apple’s music-themed press event next week. That’s a safe bet — iTunes 7 is clearly due for an update. But Allan White has some interesting speculation with which I’m inclined to agree. There’s an excellent change Robert Hodgin’s excellent Magnetosphere visualizer is going to become an official visualizer for iTunes 8. That’s be a big win for Processing (site | cdmo tag), the visual code “sketching” tool — and a likely time suck for your productivity next week, if …

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iPhone Ups and Downs, Unhappy Developers, and the MIDI Controllers You Can’t Have Yet

Whether you care about the iPhone or not, the Summer of iPhone Development reveals a lot about where mobile computing, and mobile music creation, might be headed. That includes Apple’s challenges as well as its accomplishments. Despite the hype around Apple’s platform, the iPhone and iPod Touch have some strengths and weaknesses, just as any platform does. The strengths you probably know well by now: slick UIs, rich, mobile-optimized developer tools, and a device people love. That has given us some interesting, genuinely-useful music tools amidst the toys and novelties, demonstrating how even a niche can benefit from development capabilities. …

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iTunes App Store is Here, But Early Music Entries May Disappoint

Hmmm. This looks like just hours of fun. Assuming you’ve survived hours of waiting on line or weathered various technical problems, Apple’s app store is online. Anyone with iTunes can have a look; it’s right inside the iTunes Store (formerly the iTunes Music Store). But while Apple’s development platform is impressive, early in the game a lot of the actual music apps seem to me to be, frankly, underwhelming. (Some of the non-musical apps look far better, like the lovely free client for awesome note-taking service Evernote.) Click through to App Store > Music, and you may feel like you’ve …

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Radiohead Remixing: Contest, Full Stems via iTunes and GarageBand

  The era of artists regularly releasing stems for remixing seems imminent. In the meantime, we see occasional examples of artists who get it. Radiohead have a new feature on their tune Nude, promoted with Apple. Purchase stems of a song (that’s by stem, so you pay US$0.99 * 5 stems + 1 full song if you want everything), and you get audio via iTunes Plus. Purchase the full set, and you can also download a GarageBand / Logic Pro-compatible project with all loop, tempo, and key information embedded, as pictured at top. (Unless I’m mistaken, that’s also the ideal …

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