Apple Music almost doubles new Weeknd song streams versus Spotify

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The new EP by pop/R&B singer The Weeknd managed over 26 million streams within 24 hours on Apple Music, Apple said on Tuesday, some 6 million of those belonging to the song "Call Out My Name."
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Genius tests out swipe-able ‘song story’ explainers

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Genius, which you might remember from its slick Behind The Lyrics feature on Spotify, is now introducing an even richer, Instagram Stories-style feature, with some YouTube assistance. Song Stories folds together Genius artist interviews, social media…
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Latest Apple Pay promotion offers free song credits for TouchTunes

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In an effort to increase Apple Pay use, Apple is offering a promotion that offers users three free song credits in the TouchTunes jukebox app, if they use the payment service.
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Apple Pay Promo Kicks Off Spring Break With Free Song Credits From TouchTunes

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The latest Apple Pay promotion has launched today, and this time Apple is preparing users for Spring Break. When using Apple Pay in the TouchTunes jukebox iOS app [Direct Link], users can get three free song credits. The offer is valid through 11:59 p.m. PT on March 27, 2018 in the United States and Canada only.

TouchTunes uses a network of digital jukeboxes across 65,000 bars, restaurants, and other social venues across North America, which users of the app can control from their iPhone. Users amass TouchTunes’ “credits” and spend the credits when choosing which song they want to play next, creating a community-built playlist of songs with anyone else using TouchTunes at the same location.

Now, with the new promotion users can purchase in-app credits using Apple Pay and with the three free credits they should be able to play one song at a bar for free (TouchTunes notes that the number of credits required for song plays may vary). Other springtime apps promoted by Apple include clothing brands lululemon, J.Crew, and Zara. Apple also encourages users to “get back to the beach quicker” when using Apple Pay in apps for Reef, Ray-Ban, and Abercrombie & Fitch.

The TouchTunes promo follows two weeks after Apple celebrated the Oscars with a discount on two or more movie tickets through Fandango.

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3 Takeaways From Elon Musk’s SXSW Talk (and One Song)

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Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk loves surprises, and his appearance for a Q&A session at this year’s South by Southwest conference (SXSW) is perhaps one of the most entertaining shows we’ve seen from him so far. Most attendees found out about the impromptu Musk Q&A from an email sent on the night before, which added to the suspense.

Fans knew they were in for a treat as the seemingly unplanned event kicked off 30 minutes past noon on March 11 at the Moody Theater in Austin, Texas. Musk answered questions from the audience, thrown at him by Interstellar co-writer and Westworld co-creator Jonathan Nolan.

The panel was informative, but it was also silly — watch out for that “Mars Bar” dad joke. Of course, he mostly answered questions about his companies’ major preoccupations, particularly SpaceX’s efforts towards making humankind a multi-planetary species, beginning with getting to Mars, and Tesla’s work to bring truly autonomous, electric vehicles on the roads.

Here are the three takeaways from Musk’s Q&A, which offered fresh insights about his plans for the future.

“Optimistic” for the BFR

Last year was a blast for SpaceX, marking milestones with one successful rocket launch after another. So far, Musk’s rocket company — which he said “is alive by the skin of its teeth” — has had a good start in 2018 and it might get even better as it builds up to 2019.

With the first successful Falcon Heavy launch this February, Musk said SpaceX’s focus is the BFR — the rocket that might bring humanity to Mars. He told the audience to expect the BFR’s first’s few test flights by early 2019.

“[W]e are building the first Mars, or interplanetary ship, and I think we’ll be able to do short trips, flights by first half of next year,” Musk said. After that, however, he quickly added his own disclaimer: “Although sometimes, my timelines are a little, you know…” he told a laughing audience. Indeed, Musk is known for being so optimistic with his personal goals that he often sets the bar a little too high.

So far, we know that SpaceX plans to send their first cargo to Mars aboard the BFR by 2022, with a crewed mission to follow a couple of years later by 2024. With these in mind, a 2019 BFR system’s test seems realistic enough.

Mars: A Matter of Survival

This brings us to why Musk has been so keen for humans to colonize Mars: Getting there, he believes, is a question of survival for the human species.

“It’s important to get a self-sustaining base on Mars because it’s far enough away from Earth that it’s more likely to survive than a moon base” in the event of a war, said Musk. “If there’s a third world war we want to make sure there’s enough of a seed of human civilization somewhere else to bring it back and shorten the length of the dark ages,” he explained.

The possibility of a third world war, however, isn’t the only extinction-level threat Musk mentioned at the Q&A. What else could potentially end humankind as we know it? For Musk, of course, it would be the irresponsible development of artificial intelligence (AI), and he again called for the need to work “safely” on AI.

“I’m very close to the cutting edge in AI,” Musk said, and that seems to both excite and scare him. “It’s capable of vastly more than almost anyone knows, and the rate of improvement is exponential,” he explained, using AlphaGo’s history of learning as an example. “Mark my words: AI is much more dangerous than nukes,” Musk warned, adding that there should be a “regulatory oversight” for the technology.

“We have to ensure that the advent of digital super-intelligence is one which is symbiotic with humanity,” Musk said. “I think that’s the single, biggest existential crisis that we face — and the most pressing one.”

Self-Driving Cars and Safer Roads

On the other hand, the same kind of exponential, unsettling learning curve AI is capable of would also underpin the development of self-driving cars. “I think in the next year, self-driving will encompass essentially all modes of driving,” Musk said.

And while uncontrolled AI could be a threat, self-driving cars are going to make roads safer, Musk explained. “At least, a hundred to two hundred percent safer than a person [a human driver] by the end of next year. We’re talking maybe 18 months from now,” he said. Tesla’s current autonomous driving system, or Autopilot 2.0, will be “at least 2 or 3 times better” than a human driver, Musk added.

The informal Q&A was the latest update that Musk has given on the future of Tesla’s Autopilot self-driving system. Tesla had supposedly been working towards Level 5 autonomy — or full autonomy, by the standards of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) — for 2017. However, how close Tesla is in achieving that remains anyone’s guess.

A Bonus for Fans

Fans were surely excited to learn about Musk’s plans for the future, but the eccentric billionaire had another little surprise up his sleeve.

With his brother Kimbal, he sang a duet of “My Little Buttercup” from The Three Amigos. Should we expect a career change from the eclectic futurist? You be the judge:

Ok, maybe Musk won’t go for such a crazy move, but the Tesla and SpaceX CEO did leave us with lots to look forward to. Apart from the BFR and Mars, Autopilot 2.0 and Level 5 autonomy, Musk has his hands full with his other ventures, which include a futuristic tunnel to beat traffic and plans to give humanity a fair chance in competing with intelligent machines.

The post 3 Takeaways From Elon Musk’s SXSW Talk (and One Song) appeared first on Futurism.


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Google’s Song Maker lets you easily compose music within your browser

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Google has added a new tool to its Google Music Labs effort, called Song Maker. As you’ve probably figured out, Song Maker allows you to make songs. Everything happens in the browser. You’re able to define a sequence of notes from a chessboard of sounds, and Song Maker loops over them repeatedly. Think of it as a bit like a massively pared-down Yamaha Tenori-on, but running within the confines of the browser. Song Maker also lets you connect a MIDI keyboard, add percussion, sing over your track, and share it with your friends. As someone with precisely no musical skill,…

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Google Song Maker adds a music suite to your browser

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Google loves using sequencers as a way of teaching folks how to make music, and it's a neat toy to put on its homepage every now and again. The repository for all of these experiments is Chrome Music Lab, a suite of kooky music-makin' tools for buddi…
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This is how music producer Oak Felder crafted Demi Lovato’s hit song ‘Sorry Not Sorry’

Felder demonstrated the songwriting process live onstage at Code Media 2018.

How we live affects what music we produce — and right now technology is the “bridge” between those two things, record producer Warren “Oak” Felder said today at the Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Onstage, Felder recreated the technical process of how he produced the hit Demi Lovato single “Sorry Not Sorry.” Starting from a blank canvas in the music production app Logic Pro X, he said his first job was to create a “vibe” before the songwriting process could begin.

“The people in the room are looking at you for the initial spark of inspiration,” he said. “You are the catalyst, you are starting everything up.”

After that, he added a “booty shaker” — a low, bass-y rumble often heard in hip-hop music:

One of his most important tools, he explained, is Splice, a library of samples for music producers. During the demo, Felder cruised through several potential sounds before finding the “snap” effect he wound up using in “Sorry Not Sorry.”

“Every producer can tell you there is no better feeling than the feeling you get when you find the perfect sound,” he said.

Felder and his frequent music partner Andrew “Pop” Wansel have also produced songs for music artists like Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Alicia Keys. Songs he crafted with the latter two won Grammys, and other songs made with Usher and R&B artist Kehlani have been nominated for Grammys.

This is what the finished song sounds like:

And of the course the final music video from Demi Levato:

Here’s the full video of Felder’s presentation at Code Media:

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Shazam updates its song page with fullscreen artist images and new menu

Shazam has revamped the interface of the song page inside its app. The update, which began rolling out yesterday, brings a fullscreen artist image, replaces the long scrolling page with multiple menus, and gets rid of most of the visual clutter. However, it’s only affecting the free version of Shazam.

Left: Shazam 8.2.2. Right: Shazam 8.3.1.

The difference is pretty clear when you open any song you’ve previously Shazamed.

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Kingdom Hearts III has a Monsters Inc. world, a new theme song, and still no release date

The world of Monsters Inc. is coming to Kingdom Hearts III. The announcement was made, appropriately enough, at a Tokyo Disneyland theater as part of D23 Expo Japan 2018. The latest entry in Square Enix’s surreal, hugely popular Disney-meets-Final-Fantasy crossover series remains pegged for a 2018 release on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with nothing more specific announced today.

Series director Tetsuya Nomura showed some behind-the-scenes videos that detailed the game’s production and design — for instance, you can now fly the Gummi ship through open-world, 360-degree space. A video featuring the game’s new theme song — performed by J-pop megastar Utada Hikaru, as with the original Kingdom Hearts and its sequel — was also revealed.


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