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Mark Harris

Mark's Digital Music Blog

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Facebook to Add Music Recognition to its App

Wednesday May 28, 2014

In a bid to make music easier to share on Facebook, the social media company have announced plans to integrate audio recognition into its mobile app.

Explaining about the new option via their newsroom website, Facebook said, "When writing a status update - if you choose to turn the feature on - you'll have the option to use your phone's microphone to identify what song is playing or what show or movie is on TV. That means if you want to share that you're listening to your favorite Beyoncé track or watching the season premiere of Game of Thrones, you can do it quickly and easily, without typing."

According to the announcement the new music ID feature will be available in the coming weeks (in the US) on iOS and Android.

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High Definition Audio Could Be Introduced in iOS 8

Wednesday May 21, 2014

There's no doubting that the quality of digital music (downloaded or streamed) is gradually becoming more high-res. Upcoming music services like Pono Music promise high definition audio downloads that will offer the listener much more sonic detail than any lossy MP3 could. Existing services too have gradually pumped up the quality of the music they offer -- Rdio for example recently announced a new initiative which includes converting their entire music library from MP3 (192 Kbps) to AAC (320 Kbps).

To add to this trend, rumors in the blogosphere suggest that iOS 8 could have HD audio. In fact, recent reports about Apple's activities in this area point to a possible drive in this direction. Rumors of a possible Beats Music deal and new HD in-ear headphones in the pipeline certainly adds weight to iOS needing to be beefed up to full HD.

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Xbox Music Could Soon Have OneDrive Music Locker

Friday May 16, 2014

Xbox Music Pass

According to an article by LiveSino, Microsoft could be in the process of combining Xbox Music with its OneDrive cloud storage service (previously known as SkyDrive). In the latest source code for OneDrive the Chinese website said it had found references for a music folder.

The exact text uncovered by LiveSino reads, "Meet your OneDrive Music folder. Upload your music files to this folder, so that you can play them via Xbox Music from any of your devices. You can also add files to this folder using the OneDrive app for your computer."

There's no official word from Microsoft yet but it will be interesting to see if the company rolls out a similar locker system to Google Play Music and Amazon Cloud Drive.

Image © Microsoft, Inc.

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Spotify Radio: Discover New Music by Randomizing Your Listening

Wednesday May 14, 2014

Spotify Radio Web Player

You might already use the Spotify streaming music service to listen to your favorite songs, but what about discovering new stuff?

There are tools in Spotify such as Discover, Top Lists, and Genres & Moods that help you to find new music,but one of the more interesting tools available at your disposable is the radio feature. This adds a 'radio style' layer to Spotify's interface and randomizes your listening experience too. It's a bit like using traditional radio where you get to tune into particular radio stations, but is a far deeper and more personalized experience -- you don't have to suffer what a DJ decides to play next!

To see how to use this music discovery feature, read our tutorial on using Spotify Radio.

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Creating Perfect Rips of Your Music CDs in iTunes

Friday May 9, 2014

The way that iTunes rips audio CDs by default isn't perfect. The AAC encoder is used which creates lossy audio files. This might be fine for everyday use, but what if you want perfect first-generation copies of your music CDs that are as good as the originals?

If you're just starting out converting your physical music CD collection (or want to re-rip to a higher quality) then you might want to think about using a lossless format. Archiving your CDs in this way gives you scope in the future to convert to other formats without the worry of audio degradation.

If you use iTunes then there's no better way to do it than with ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec). It's supported by Apple devices too which means you can quickly sync without any 'in-between' transcoding.

To see how to add lossless digital music to your iTunes library read our tutorial on ripping music CDs to ALAC.

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Rdio To Enhance its Music Streaming With 'Artists For Quality' Initiative

Wednesday May 7, 2014

Rdio Logo

The streaming music service, Rdio, has announced plans to improve the quality of the music it streams by partnering with Bob Weir (of The Grateful Dead) in a new initiative called Artists For Quality.

As a starting point Rdio will convert their entire music library from MP3, which currently streams at 192 Kbps, to the AAC format at 320 Kbps. The good news is that you won't have to pay any more for this higher quality if you are a subscriber.

In their announcement Rdio say, "As part of our ongoing commitment to the artist community, Rdio will work closely with artists and labels from around the world to continue to raise the bar higher on streaming quality where sufficient network bandwidth exists, and to improve stream delivery in markets around the world where network quality and bandwidth are often inconsistent."

Image © Rdio, Inc.

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iSkysoft Video Converter Ultimate Review

Friday May 2, 2014

iSkysoft Video Converter Ultimate

iSkysoft Video Converter Ultimate (IVCU) is a suite of media tools primarily aimed at video conversion. However, it also has a useful set of features for building up a digital music library from video sources too. iSkysoft say that their media software suite is 30 times faster than traditional converters and preserves 100% of the original video or audio quality.

With support for many different video and audio formats, 2D to 3D conversion, a downloader for sites like YouTube, and a DVD burning option, is this the application you've been looking for to solve your digital music conversion needs?

For more information, read our full review of iSkysoft's Video Converter Ultimate.

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Music ID Apps: Audio Recognition Software That Listens

Wednesday April 30, 2014

You may already have a plethora of music apps on your phone or tablet for listening to digital music. So, why would you want to install yet another music-related app?

A music ID app is different. It can be an extremely useful tool to have if you hear a song in a public place for example and need to find out its title. This is also true if you are at home watching the TV and hear a great song (on an advert for instance) -- just hold your device up to the TV's speaker to name that tune!

To find out more and examples of free apps to use, read our FAQ article on music identification apps for mobile devices.

 

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Digital Music FAQ: What is an M4P Song?

Friday April 25, 2014

If you've recently looked through your iTunes library (by clicking File > Get Info for example) you may have come across some songs that are described as M4P. If you've never heard of this term before you might think that this is some kind of special format.

Songs that are associated with M4P are in fact copy-protected tracks that have been encrypted with Apple's FairPlay DRM system and date back to before 2009. To find out more and the implications of having copy-protected songs, read our explanation of M4P for a quick run-down.

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Digital Music FAQ: Can I Sync my iTunes Library With an Android Device?

Wednesday April 23, 2014

If you've already got an iTunes music library and have an Android device, you might be wondering if the two are compatible. For a long time now, Apple have been very successful (and clever) in marketing their portable hardware (iPhone, iPod, and iPad) as the perfect solution for seamlessly enjoying digital music from the iTunes Store. There's no denying that using an Apple device to sync content from an iTunes library is pretty straightforward.

But, if you want to use an Android device (either exclusively or in conjunction with an existing Apple portable), is it possible to transfer iTunes content to it?

To find out, read our frequently asked questions article on using an Android device with an iTunes library.

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