Will Spotify Acquire Soundcloud? (UPDATE)

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UPDATE: Nope.

Here’s a curveball for your week: Financial Times is reporting that Spotify is in advanced talks to buy Soundcloud. Very interesting given the fact that 1.) rumours of Soundcloud being bought aren’t new, and 2.) the massive Spotify is still looking for money from elsewhere (another rumour claimed that Spotify is looking for a billion dollar exit strategy as well).

If anything, this would certainly be a gigantic push for Spotify, which would increase it’s catalogue and make is more palatable to basement/bedroom artists and producers. It would also widen what was looking like a closing gap between Spotify and competitor Apple Music.

Stay tuned for more…as of right now, neither Spotify nor Soundcloud has had anything to say about the possible acquisition.

The Weeknd Breaks Records On Spotify With New Album

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Congrats are in order for The Weeknd: last week, the Canadian star managed to shatter Spotify’s record for the most streams in a day, banking 40 million for his new album Starboy (and accompanying singles). The previous record holder was David Bowie with 36 million streams. In addition, he also broke Spotify’s global record for first-week streams with 223 million, knocking out even Drake for the number 1 spot on the streaming service.

Adding in all streaming platforms, that weekly number jumps to 400 million and counting. Whoever said that streaming is destroying the music industry is wrong; it’s simply forcing it to evolve with the new generation of tech-forward artists.

Amazon’s Music Streaming Service Arrives In The UK

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It seems like everybody is in the music streaming race now…the latest is Amazon, who launched their Spotify/Apple Music rival Music Unlimited in the United States last year. Now, the new service is in the UK for an impressive £3.99 a month subscription (this gives you 40 million songs as well).

Now: to get that low price, you have to also own Amazon’s Echo speaker (which runs you £149.99); regular price users will have to pay £9.99 a month (which puts it on the same level as it’s competitors). If you own Amazon Prime, it drops to £7.99 a month. Also: with Music Unlimited, doesn’t that make Amazon’s other streaming service (Prime Music, which only has 2 million songs) a big waste of time?

Anyways, Amazon has a pretty steep hill to climb; Spotify is still kickin’ ass with 40 million paid subscribers. Apple Music has 17 million. Read more on Music Unlimited here.

Boiler Room To Launch Virtual Reality Music Venue

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We love how technology continues to evolve into pretty much everything. Case in point: Boiler Room has always been pretty innovative in regards to the use of technology during their events, but now their about to take a big step into the future — they’ve announced that they are creating the first-ever virtual reality music venue. This is being done in partnership with the company Inception…attendees will be able to put on a headset and, well…the options become endless. Said Boiler Room founder/CEO Blaise Bellville:

We’ve always been driven by using technology to showcase the music we care about and give fans all around the world an authentic experience of the events and scenes they can’t be part of in person… Building the first ever music venue born for VR is a big evolution of that, creating immersive online experiences that bring people even closer to what it’s like being at a sweaty rave or an amazing concert half-way across the world.

Boiler Room’s Born for VR venue will be the definition of immersive – everything about this site will be meticulously planned and constructed to be a dream room for any artist to create the VR show of a lifetime.

The London venue will reportedly open sometime early next year. You can read more on the story here.

CHECK OUT: Apple’s All-New Macbook Pro (Video)

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As usual, Apple pulls out all the stops for their next product of upgrade — this time, it’s a dramatic redesign of their MacBook Pro. You can check out the videos breaking down the device below, but we must discuss its biggest addition:

The first thing that everyone will notice is a funky new touchscreen bar above the keyboard. Called the Touch Bar (yea, not much creativity in that), the display allowed the user better control over whatever application they’re using. For example: if Safari is up, then you’ll see the browser’s controls…if the Photos app is in use, you can edit and cycle through photos via the display. Apple Pay has also been integrated into the Touch Bar, as well as Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner (which had previously been most notable in your iPhone). Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanning technology has also been built into the power button on the Touch Bar, and can be used to complete payments using Apple Pay. The bar can also be customised by the user to show the controls they use the most.

Naturally, this computer won’t come cheap. The new MacBook Pro comes in 13 and 15-inch sizes (no more 17-inch we guess), as will run you £1,749 and £2,349, respectively. You can also choose between silver and space grey.

[Notice the rather expensive prices. That would be thanks to you Brexit idiots supporters out there.]

If you missed it, feel free to watch Apple’s full ‘Hello Again’ event to learn more about the MacBook Pro. The new laptop are available to order now, and is expected to officially touch down in “two to three weeks”.

R.I.P. Vine

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Yep. Presumably thanks to parent company Twitter’s declining revenue stream (more on that in a moment), pioneering video app Vine revealed that it will official meet its demise in the coming months. It’s really not all that surprising, either: other apps like Snapchat (especially Snapchat) and giants like Facebook and (its own acquisition) Instagram have adopted the video-at-will format, giving users more reasons not to leave their own services.

As far as Twitter, it’s certainly been fighting a losing battle as well: they recently announced losses of £83 million for the most recent financial quarter, and — as a result — they’ve decided to cut 9% of their global workforce (specifically, 347 jobs). Whether or not this could mean the same fate for Twitter is certainly yet to be seen.

You can read Vine’s official announcement below.

Since 2013, millions of people have turned to Vine to laugh at loops and see creativity unfold. Today, we are sharing the news that in the coming months we’ll be discontinuing the mobile app.

Nothing is happening to the apps, website or your Vines today. We value you, your Vines, and are going to do this the right way. You’ll be able to access and download your Vines. We’ll be keeping the website online because we think it’s important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made. You will be notified before we make any changes to the app or website.

Thank you. Thank you. To all the creators out there — thank you for taking a chance on this app back in the day. To the many team members over the years who made this what it was — thank you for your contributions. And of course, thank you to all of those who came to watch and laugh every day.

What’s next? We’ll be working closely with creators to make sure your questions are answered and will work hard to do this the right way. We’ll be sharing more details on this blog and our Twitter account, and will notify you through the app when we start to change things.

– Team Vine & Twitter

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Nintendo’s New Gaming System, The Return Of Red Dead Redemption

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A couple of news stories from the video game world:

  • Nintendo has officially unveiled their new gaming system titled the Switch, named so because — for the first time? — users will have a console that can “switch” from desktop format to a mobile, on-the-go platform. It’s like the Transformer of consoles, to the point where you could begin playing a game, pause it, remove the portable and continue on with your game playing while walking down the street. Above lies its trailer to give you a better idea…Nintendo’s Switch looks to be released March 2017.
  • Aside from the iconic Grand Theft Auto series, Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption — which is based on the American Wild West era — has garnered a huge fanbase since its release back in 2010. Now, the game maker reveals a new teaser trailer for it’s sequel, which should get the fans very excited. Check that out below.

Big Narstie Returns To ‘Fire In The Booth’; Drops ‘Base Invaders’ Game

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You already know what time it is…Big Narstie was a recent guest for Charlie Sloth’s Fire In The Booth series on BBC 1Xtra and — for the third time — he absolutely demolishes it. Check that out above.

In related news, Narstie has also created a new mobile game titled Base Invaders, available now in the App Store. If you’ve been living under a rock, enjoy the hilarious preview of the game below.

So, TIDAL Lost More Than £21 Million Last Year…

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Since it’s inception (and — more than likely — because of the botched launch), JAY Z’s TIDAL has been for the most part the butt of jokes in regards to the music streaming industry. With that said, the service trucked on, using its famous investors to provide exclusives and other features not available on any of the other platforms (including concerts and festivals, like Made In America).

Unfortunately, it looks like the strategies still haven’t caught on: even at over a million subscribers, TIDAL has reportedly logged in a loss of 239 million Swedish Krona (about $28 million, or £21.2 million) in 2015. To give further reference, TIDAL lost significantly less in 2014 — 88.9 million Swedish Krona ($10.5 million, or about £79 million).

Now, the good news in this is that they also achieved a 30% increase in revenue in 2015. So there’s that. In addition, it’s not like the goliath Spotify has been turning a profit, either.

We suppose that TIDAL can stay afloat simply by keeping to its niche (ie. the fans of the big names that own the company). Nonetheless, they’re an incredibly long way from reaching its competitors.

Apple’s iPhone 7 Unveiled…But Is It Worth It?

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So…Apple has officially unveiled their latest iPhone, which once again sees millions running to their nearest store to get one. So, which all of its incarnations, does the 7th edition continue to make these products worth the purchase? At face value, it looks quite similar to its predecessor, but here are the specs:

  • For one, the biggest story is (of course) it’s lack of a headphone jack, something that’s been in debate for quite a while now. As an alternative, users can either connect an additional piece through the Lightning port (which now makes you pick between music or charging, which we think sucks) or go with Apple’s new wireless AirPods, which is also creating an, um…polarising response.
  • The 7 (and the 7 Plus…yes, that’s still in effect too) is also supposed to be water and dust-resistant, which we’re not sure is the same at Samsung’s waterproof Galaxy phones. It’s definitely an improvement overall.
  • The cameras. Apple definitely gave these an upgrade for the 7. The new phone boasts a 12-megapixel camera with optical image stabilisation, as well as a larger ƒ/1.8 aperture and 6-element lens for much better pics and videos. The Plus cones with even more, adding twice the optical zoom and 10 times the digital zoom. Also: dual lenses.
  • Nintendo’s Mario is now part of the Apple squad as well (the game is called Super Mario Run), which we think is pretty awesome.

There’s a new black finish along with silver, gold and rose gold colourways. Apple’s new A10 Fusion chip (with four cores, twice as powerful as the 6), a Taptic Engine-powered Home button, Retina HD and more round out the specs — many of which you’ll see (alongside the aforementioned AirPods and Apple Watch Series 2) via the additional promo clips below.

The official release is said to be next Friday, which pre-orders available now. You can check out the prices and other necessary information at Apple’s official website.



Apple Ordered To Pay £11 Billion In Taxes By The EU

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Apple just got hit in the wallet pretty hard, as European Union officials have found that the tech giant has been getting a pretty hefty tax break — specifically, to the tune of £11 billion. Naturally, Apple doesn’t feel like they owe anything.

Said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who stated that Apple only paid a 1% tax on its European profits in 2014:

Member states cannot give tax benefits to selected companies – this is illegal under EU state aid rules… The Commission’s investigation concluded that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple, which enabled it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years.

As far as the accused, both Apple and Ireland responded how we’d expect…Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan denied doing “sweetheart” deals, and stated that they tax system has never made any exceptions. Apple chief executive Tim Cook vowed to get the verdict overturned.

BBC