It’s pretty incomprehensible that until about two weeks ago, I had never used a piece of Sonos equipment. Heard about it, and read about it? Sure, but never used it. What MP3s did for personal audio enjoyment 5 years ago, Sonos does for your home, office, or wherever you want today, ingeniously creating a seamless and practically unlimited expandable system. Sonos is literally one of the coolest things I’ve seen in years; not because they reinvented the wheel (even though they kind of did in some places), but because it works. More →
One of our favorite set-top boxes, Roku, has just announced that it is launching the Roku Channel Store. The good news for you couch potatoes is that the first 10 channels are free. The open platform for sharing content on TV will allow you to share pictures and video, and listen to Internet radio and podcasts. New channels available to add right now are Pandora, Facebook Photos, Flickr and TWiT (This Week In Tech). Plus, since this is an open platform, developers can jump on the Roku bandwagon to add in getting more channels out.
But here’s the best part: Anthony Wood, CEO and co-founder of Roku, says, “Now content producers and distributors – from single person shops to billion dollar corporations – can deliver their content directly to consumers without having to go exclusively through cable operators, satellite networks or TV affiliates.” Less restriction could mean more of the content you want without paying premiums. When is it available? Existing customers will get a free and automatic upgrade and new Roku customers will get the upgrade as soon as they get their box going. If you own a Roku box and are currently subscribed, let us know what you think of the new channels.
First and foremost, Internet radio lovers have some serious cause for celebration as Pandora announces a somewhat workable resolution to the ongoing royalty dispute that nearly drove the company into the ground. By somewhat workable, we mean it’ll keep them in business but it’s still paying the highest royalty rate in radio. What does this mean for Pandora users? Well it means they can keep using Pandora of course, and 90 percent of users will experience no changes whatsoever. For the other 10 percent though — users who don’t pay for Pandora One but stream more than 40 hours of music per month — the free ride is over to an extent. Any non-subscriber who goes over 40 hours in a month will have to cough up $0.99 in order to continue streaming during that month. $0.99, as in less than a dollar… We’d say that’s pretty fair. In all seriousness though, if you’re listening to 480+ hours of Pandora per year and not supporting the company by forking over $36 for a year of Pandora One, well, you should definitely consider it. So congratulations to Pandora on ending a 2-year fiasco. It might not have been the best possible outcome but hey, if it keeps the company afloat it’s not all bad.
You won’t see it on the dedicated BlackBerry page just yet but rest assured, Pandora has launched the highly anticipated BlackBerry Storm version of its mobile streaming application. When we told you about initial BlackBerry availablility last month, there were two main caveats: 1) No T-Mo. 2) No Storm. Resourceful as our readers are, it was quickly discovered that the whole no T-Mobile thing could be circumvented pretty easily. The lack of a Storm-compatible build however, would prove to be a slightly tougher nut to crack (obviously). No matter, as Pandora unveiled an official Storm build via its Twitter feed last night. Enough talk — time to get streaming. Hit http://www.pandora.com from your Storm’s browser or look for it in App World to get your hands on Pandora Radio and let us now how it goes.
So, check it. There’s something called the Palm Pre. We linked up with our friendly Palm rep, and he gave us a walkthrough of some of the brand new third party applications. Things like Pandora, Sprint TV, Palm’s Classic OS emulator, and Flight View all got shown off on Palm’s sexy Pre hardware. We also got a brief hardware walkthrough too, just for you guys.
That’s all we got for now, but hopefully the video quenches your thirst for some Pre hotness!
BlackBerry users rejoice, Pandora has finally released v1 of it’s custom internet radio streaming application this morning and long story short, it’s everything we’ve been waiting for. It’s… About… Time! We tested the app out on a Bold via AT&T 3G and it worked perfectly — no hiccups and no pauses or stutters. We also tested the various basic functionality such as song skipping, giving a song a thumb’s up or thumb’s down, pausing and creating a new station. Everything worked as it should, though skipping to the next track often took a tad longer than we would have liked. The fact that’s our biggest complaint should give you a pretty good idea of how happy we were with the app though. There’s some more popular Pandora functionality packed in of course, such as the ability to bookmark a song or artist, but we trailed off into a state of bliss before we could get into all that. At this point, after only a short time with the app, we would definitely call it the greatest thing to happen to music on a BlackBerry since, well, music on a BlackBerry. There is some bad news however… No (official) T-Mobile love and no support for the Storm for the time being. Ouch. If you’re a Pandora user with a non-T-Mobile ‘Berry though, hit the read link or go to pandora.com from your mobile browser and get streaming.
[Via Zatz Not Funny!]
Since the announcement of VUDU’s Rich Internet Application (RIA) platform, we’ve been waiting for some new big news to come down from the Santa Clara-based set top box-based movie distributor and this morning it looks like we’ve got it. Pandora, perhaps the most popular among a new wave of intelligent internet radio services, is now available via VUDU hardware. Pandora represents the first music application to hit the VUDU box and owners will have full access to just about all of Pandora’s great functionality. VUDU’s implementation also allows for multiple log-ins, allowing each member of a household to easily access his/her custom stations. The Pandora application is integrated seamlessly into VUDU’s sexy UI, as seen above, likely making it the most attractive Pandora-streaming option currently available. The addition of Pandora is awesome of course, but we’re still waiting for a monthly subscription option in addition to a la carte movie rentals/purchases before we get too excited about the service in general.
We’ve covered Pandora’s troubles before here on BGR and while the custom internet radio provider struggles to strike a workable deal with the RIAA, subscriptions just aren’t covering the bills apparently. Pandora, for those unaware, is a fantastic streaming music service that creates custom stations based on the tonal qualities of songs in its extensive catalog. By way of Twitter, Pandora clarified the fact that it has implemented audio ads in its guest streams. In other words, non-paying Pandora users may hear audio advertisements while subscribers ($36/year) will continue to enjoy unlimited music without interruption. No, we’re not talking about anything close to terrestrial radio’s music to ad ratio of 1:1 or worse – just a quick word from a sponsor every now and then. The move is a logical one of course, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Pandora ends up increasing its subscription charges as well. Users happy about the addition of audio commercials can send thank you notes directly to SoundExchange and the RIAA. Those of you unhappy about the news, will it stop you from using the service – or push you to subscribe?
Two of the biggest names in the new wave of personalized internet radio, Pandora and Last.fm, have announced new mobile offerings this week that are sure to please subscribers. For those who aren’t familiar with these services, we’ll give you quick rundowns: Pandora is a free ad supported service (with an ad-free subscription option) that delivers custom radio stations based on the tonal qualities of each song. The user starts by entering an artist or song and Pandora continues the stream with songs of similar musical quality as determined by a panel of 50 analysts who have spent years listening to and cataloging songs. Last.fm on the other hand, is a similar free service (with enhanced subscription option) but it has a much bigger focus on social networking. It creates custom stations with similar tracks like Pandora, but relies on socially-applied tags when offering up new songs.
Samsung BD-P2550 owners, it’s time to get your firmware update on. Non-Samsung BD-P2550 owners, it’s time to add this puppy to your wishlist. Until this morning, we had our eye on the LG BD-300 as the player / set top box combo du jour. As it turns out however, we’re jumping ship faster than Lady de Rothschild. The BD-P2550 just got a major firmware update that brings not only Netflix streaming, but Pandora streaming as well. In other words, for $50 more than LG’s box you can throw Pandora streaming into the mix and add DTS-HD audio support in another firmware update coming on October 30. We’ll take two.
[Via Zatz Not Funny]
Following our post from Saturday regarding the NAB’s efforts to prevent the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008 from passing, here’s a quick update: Long story short, H.R. 7084 has passed through both Congress and the Senate. Woo! So what exactly does that mean? It simply means that Pandora and other internet broadcasters can continue to negotiate with SoundExchange and the RIAA with regards to fair royalties. Wait, huh? It’s just a bill that allows them to continue talking? That’s right folks – pretty funny how opposed the NAB was to this procedural bill, no? What a joke the NAB has become. But we digress… Kudos to all who took the time to reach out to their state reps and express support for the bill. Who knows – maybe the RIAA, SoundExchange and internet radio can actually come to an agreement!
At 11 am Eastern Standard Time this morning congress is scheduled to vote on a bill that, if defeated, will represent a major nail in Pandora’s coffin. In fact it’s not just Pandora, we’re talking about legitimate internet radio in general. The major opposition? Why it’s none other than the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)! Surprise, surprise. The bill in question is H.R. 7084 (Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008); merely a procedural bill that would give Pandora, SoundExchange and the RIAA more time to come to a new agreement with regards to revising the royalty program currently in place. You know, the one that’s killing internet radio. From Pandora Founder Tim Westergren:
We were just starting to feel optimistic about getting close to a settlement. H.R. 7084 is a procedural bill that would extend the negotiation period and give us all the time we need.
The thing that’s so crass is that this bill is beneficial to broadcasters, it just gives us more time to reduce Webcasting fees. They [the NAB] know we’re running out of time and if they can kill the bill they can kill Internet radio.
It’s amazing how terrified the NAB has become of progress. This issue of course is that collectively, they know they have a terrible product. Does anyone listen to terrestrial radio anymore? For years the ratio of advertising to music has been a sick joke on popular stations. With the increasing popularity of Satellite radio and portable audio player-friendly inputs in car stereos we would hope everyone is on the road to moving beyond the dinosaur that is terrestrial radio. After all, you wouldn’t ride a donkey to get to work or use a handful of leaves to… Well, you know.
The House vote on H.R. 7084 is at 11:00 am EST this morning. If passed, it will go before the Senate on Monday. If you’re tired of cleaning yourself with leaves, give Congress a ring (202-225-3121) and tell your representative you support H.R. 7084.
Talk about great reads. Muxtape founder Justin Ouellette finally let the cat out of the bag today and published a lengthy report of his recent trials and tribulations. For outsiders looking in, reading about dealings with the unmitigated disaster that is the music industry is like a guilty pleasure. Rage seems to build with each passing paragraph and one can’t help but think, “are they really this stupid?” Ouellette’s recount of his experiences in recent history fits the mold perfectly. The behind the scenes plan for Muxtape was anything but ill-intentioned; Ouelette had some pretty big ideas and spent a great deal of time reaching out to labels in an effort to move music consumption forward in a very symbiotic manner. In fact in the midst of an extended series of meetings with major labels that seemed to be progressing, albeit slowly, the RIAA struck without warning and dropped an axe that would force Muxtape to go offline. It registered a complaint with Amazon Web Services, Muxtape’s host, that required Muxtape to dump a launrdy list of content within one business day or risk having his data deleted and servers shut down. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ouelette has plans to relaunch as a service geared exclusively toward bands:
The new Muxtape will allow bands to upload their own music and offer an embeddable player that works anywhere on the web, in addition to the original muxtape format. Bands will be able to assemble an attractive profile with simple modules that enable optional functionality such as a calendar, photos, comments, downloads and sales, or anything else they need.
This is a far cry from the original Muxtape model and it will likely have a much more difficult climb in terms of being widely adopted. Here at BGR, we’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for the relaunch and we wish Ouellette all the success in the world. As for the RIAA and music industry in general, it is becoming increasingly difficult to support any means of music distribution that puts money in their pockets. The dilemma of course is in order to financially support the bands you enjoy, you are also feeding the hand that bites. Talk about a catch 22. Whatever, music industry. Keep doing things your way because it seems to really be working out well for you. We’re sure people will be lining up in droves to buy music on microSD cards. You know, just like how we all went running out to get their hands on Ringles. That went over really well.
Do yourself a favor and hit the read link.