Authorities in Germany recently executed a raid that resulted in at least two arrests and the takedown of another popular file-sharing service. German-language news site Heise Online reported earlier this week that German police arrested two men with alleged ties to file-sharing service Skyload.net, which was subsequently taken offline. The service’s owner, identified as 28-year-old Maik P., was taken into custody along with 25-year-old Marcel E., owner of Skyload.net’s Web hosting service. Both men have been charged with violating copyright laws and Maik P. is allegedly personally responsible for uploading and sharing more than 10,000 copyrighted films. The Skyload.net takedown follows the closure of one of the most popular file-sharing services in the world, Megaupload, which was taken offline last month as its founder and a number of other men with ties to the service were arrested in a raid. While shuttering Megaupload appears to have done nothing to slow digital piracy, authorities around the world continue to battle alongside copyright holders to shut down file-hosting services that allow users to share copyrighted content illegally. More →
Apple may be working on an overhaul of its iTunes Store and App Store, according to 9to5Mac. Due to growing competition from music streaming services like Spotify and the growing popularity of Amazon’s online music store, the redesign of the iTunes Store is considered “a top priority for Apple.” The Cupertino-based company is looking to simplify the service and deliver a more user-friendly interface than the one afforded by its current design. The redesign will reportedly simplify content discovery, and it will “make the iTunes Store a much more engaging experience.” The revamped stores are reportedly scheduled to launch later this year. More →
HTC has fallen from Android grace due to heavy competition from Motorola and Samsung, and the Taiwanese company promised to change by soon offering devices with thinner form factors and better battery life. Now, HTC and Jimmy Iovine of Beats Audio are rumored to be developing a streaming music service exclusively for HTC phones and tablets, according to GigaOM. The music service could launch at this month’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and it may help make HTC devices more appealing to consumers. The company is still working on pricing plans, however, and other details for the new service. BGR exclusively reported this past November that HTC will unveil the Ville at MWC along side the company’s quad-core flagship HTC Endeavor. More →
The recent federal takedown of notorious file-sharing service Megaupload was initially seen as a huge victory for owners of copyrighted music and movies, but new research shows this may not be the case. Federal prosecutors successfully shuttered the service last month and arrested seven men associated with Megaupload including site founder Kim Dotcom, who is said to have earned $42 million from the site in 2010 alone. What was initially thought to be a victory for movie studios and record labels is turning out to be an empty win, however, as Megaupload’s closure has had almost no impact on file-sharing. Read on for more. More →
Last year a number of leaks and photos suggested that Apple had a redesigned iPod nano with an integrated camera in the works. The new device wasn’t released last time Apple refreshed its iPod family, but now another round of pictures has surfaced that lends credence to the possibility that such a device may launch in the near future. The images show a camera-equipped iPod nano complete with its signature clip design, and the device appears to be the same size as the current-generation iPod nano. It remains unclear if Apple will ever release an iPod nano with a camera but the source, Apple.pro, has published early details surrounding Apple hardware in the past that ended up panning out. Another report published Wednesday by MIC Gadget suggests that the device pictured is actually a prototype from several months ago that did not pass Apple’s tests. The site says some problems have been ironed out however, and that the new nano could become available in the coming months. Several additional pictures follow after the break. More →
Spotify said Thursday that it now serves more than 3 million active paid subscribers per month, up from the 2.5 million subscribers it was serving in November. More than 20% of its active users pay for premium monthly access, the Financial Times said, which allows users to listen to an unlimited songs without ads or use Spotify on a smartphone. “We have achieved some pretty great results in terms of the ratio of paid users,” Spotify’s chief content officer and US managing director, Ken Parks said in an interview with the Financial Times. “We have an enormous internal effort to drive conversion and engagement with the service. We are very focused on growing in our existing 12 markets as well as expanding in other markets.” Parks also said that the company’s free-trial offer has helped convert users to paid accounts more rapidly. Spotify recently introduced “apps” for its service, which allows anyone, such as Rolling Stone or Billboard, to create playlists or add custom features. More →
Federal prosecutors in Virginia have shut down notorious file-sharing site Megaupload.com and charged the service’s founders with violating piracy laws. The Associated Press broke the story on Thursday, reporting that the indictment accuses Megaupload.com’s owner with costing copyright holders including record labels and movie studios more than $500 million in lost revenue. Seven people tied to Megaupload.com have been charged and four are already in custody, including the site’s founder Kim Dotcom. Dotcom earned $42 million from the the site in 2010 according to the indictment. Megaupload.com allowed users to upload and share content without any measures in place to ensure files being hosted on the site’s servers were not protected by copyright. The company claims that it responded to copyright complaints as they were received. According to court documents made available on Thursday, Megaupload.com was at one point the 13th most trafficked website in the world. More →
Album sales in the United States jumped 3% during 2011 according to one report. That may seem like minor growth, but it is actually the first time album sales have increased since 2004. Nielsen SoundScan said Adele’s album “21” sold 5.8 million copies, and total sales came in at 458 million albums for the year. Make no mistake, however, CD sales are still on the decline. Sales of full digital albums climbed 20% to 103 million units but CD sales dropped 6% to 225 million units. Nielsen’s senior vice president of analytics Dave Bakula said the addition of Google’s music store in the Android Market also helped serve as a catalyst for digital music sales growth. “It shows there’s still a lot of growth potential in digital,” Bakula said. “That’s something I don’t see falling down.” More →
Apple on Monday released the 2012 edition of its “12 Days of Christmas” application for iOS devices. From December 26th through January 6th, Apple is giving away free iTunes content including songs, music videos, apps and books to iOS device owners. New content is accessible through the app each day and free downloads will expire after 24 hours. Monday kicks things off with several Coldplay songs and videos, which can be downloaded for free until new downloads are made available on Tuesday. Apple’s 12 Days of Christmas app is compatible with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2 and iPad as well as the third and fourth-generation iPod touch devices, so users of older iOS device models are out of luck this holiday season. The app is currently available in the U.K. with U.S. availability expected at a later point in time. More →
Rhapsody announced on Thursday that it now has more than 1 million paying subscribers in the United States. The company claims it is now the top pay-for music streaming company in the country, although we imagine Spotify is nipping at its heals now that it has more than 2.5 million subscribers globally. In celebration of the milestone, Rhapsody president Jon Irwin shaved his head, a promise he made to the company if it ever reached million subscribers. “We’ve accomplished quite a bit over the past decade, so it’s no small statement to say that 2011 was probably our biggest year yet,” Irwin said. It is quite a big achievement; one might have assumed Rhapsody’s user base would have declined with the influx of other pay-for music services such as Spotify, Slacker, Pandora, Rdio and others. “The next frontiers for subscription music are the living room and the car,” Irwin said. “Consumers will be able to enjoy Rhapsody from even more connected audio and video systems, as well as other platforms and distribution channels—at home, in the car and everywhere in-between, domestically and abroad.” Rhapsody’s full press release follows after the break.
Spotify announced on Wednesday that its BlackBerry client is now out of beta and officially available for download. Spotify is a free ad-supported desktop music service that allows its users to listen to any song they want, provided it has been licensed by Spotify. Users who want to take advantage of the service’s mobile features, which include offline caching and access to the full Spotify library, must pay a $10 monthly subscription fee. We’re fans of Spotify here at BGR so we highly recommend BlackBerry users give it a try. The download is free (remember, you’ll need a monthly plan to use it, though) and accessible from the BlackBerry App World now. The catch? You’ll need to own one of five BlackBerry models (BlackBerry Bold 9780, Bold 9700, Curve 9300, Bold 9000 or Curve 8520) in order to use the app, which means it looks like CDMA users are being left out in the cold for now.
Spotify on Friday unveiled Spotify Radio, a new service similar to Pandora that will roll out as an extension to the company’s desktop client. The service allows users to create artist-based stations that will stream an unlimited amount of music similar to the artist selected. Spotify Radio users can also skip an unlimited number of songs and save tracks as they play for on-demand listening later as well. The app and associated service are a welcome addition to Spotify, which has had very limited discovery features until now. The free Spotify Radio app is currently available as a preview and it is expected to land in Spotify’s app catalog within the next few days. Spotify has not indicated whether or not its new radio service will make its way to the company’s mobile apps. More →
Spotify’s New York City press conference just wrapped up and we spent some time checking out several of the popular music service’s new apps. There’s a new section on the left sidebar that lets you quickly access applications from LastFM, Rolling Stone, The Guardian and more. Rolling Stone and other publications will release playlists, some as frequently as each day, with bands the publications think Spotify users should take note of. The applications are seamless and are so tightly integrated with Spotify that they launch almost immediately. If you’re playing a song with tunewiki for example, simply tap the tunewiki application on the left sidebar and it immediately begins displaying song lyrics inside the software. We’re fans of Spotify here at BGR and we’re definitely looking forward to checking these features out a bit more when the app service officially goes live. Apps will be accessible to all users, whether they subscribe to Spotify’s premium services or not, and the beta should be made available today on Spotify’s website around 2:00 p.m. EST. Be sure to check out our full gallery below, and hit the break for a video from Spotify.More →