To be honest, I haven’t been keeping up with the music industry news over recent months, having been head down on my book. But, there’s a few intresting bits of news this past week, which certainly have implications for those of us in the audio and project studio world.
A Rumble In The Podcast Jungle
Stitcher is not a name known to everyone, especially in Asia, but they have been doing very well in other markets, especially the US, with the number one podcast app on Android and the number two podcast app in iOS. They have also been very successful at making deals with car manufacturers (in car audio is one of biggest audiences for podcasts in the US, Australia & Europe).
Deezer, the aggressive upstart in the music streaming business has just acquired Stitcher, and with that 35 Million podcasts and talk shows (including my own The Society For Film). Deezer has aggressively chased growth in Europe and Asia and this may be part of their move into the US. It could mark a fascinating change for the music streaming business, which up to this point has been modelled on replacing the album and mixtape listening experience, but with this purchase, Deezer is poised to replace the radio experience, giving listeners a mix of talk and music.
I used to be a huge fan, an evangelist in fact, for SoundCloud, organising successful SoundCloud community events in Hong Kong and also Singapore. But, that was then and now it seems SoundCloud is struggling. In 2013, SoundCloud reported losses of 29.2 Million and the much-vauted new deals with rights owners and major labels, which would have generated new revenue streams for SoundCloud (and increased business clout), have stalled.
This all follows the news from earlier in the year, of SoundCloud’s short-lived courtship with Twitter.
Perhaps the most worrying thing, however, is the widespread disappointment with SoundCloud’s technological development. It staggers me that two and half years after we saw the launch of “The Next SoundCloud” significant parts of the music creator interface still revert to the old design and site infrastructure.
All this does saddens me. SoundCloud got so many things right at the beginning, about creating tools for sharing music and building community for music-makers. But, while SoundCloud still has a lot of users, because there will always be demand from those who want music without paying, it has literally been years since I talked to a musician who is excited about SoundCloud. Everyone is waiting for something else, something better, to come along.
Lastly, Some Apple And Yosemite News
Apple recently released their sharp looking new iteration of OS X, named Yosemite. It’s running on my office/photography Mac Mini and also my MacBook Pro but of course, not on my studio Mac Pro. I’m kind of in love with Yosemite, apart from the weird glitch where sound doesn’t always play through my LED Cinema Display. Yosemite is clean, visually impressive, fast and so far, crash-free. I’m liked the iCloud Drive and loving the call integration with the iPhone.
As for studio work, there’s mixed news on compatibility with Yosemite. Native Instruments have announced that their software validates, but they hardware is not yet compatible. There’s little news from Universal Audio yet about the Apollo interfaces and reported problems with the visual on their plugins. Most Apogee products are compatible, with the exception of the GiO and Symphony, with compatibility expected in December. Waves have announced their plugins are compatible, so too Toontrack, while almost all Iztope’s plugins, except Stutter Edit, which has issues. While Reason are saying “initial testing” hasn’t “revealed any problems” with Reason and Recycle, so we’ll count that as a qualified OK.
There is a buzz, however, around the MIDI over bluetooth feature in Yosemite, actually, in Yosemite and iOS, which presents a whole new realm of possibilities for low-latency wireless MIDI control. It’s still really days for this technology, but there is a fascinating post over at CreateDigitalMusic, which shows of the potential for both new products and also integrating existing MIDI devices wirelessly.
As a lover of clean studio aesthetics, I’m exciting to see what this new feature allows us to do. I’m always looking to minimise how many cables are visible in my studio and I’ve longed for years to be able to untether MIDI devices, like drum and keyboard controllers, so it is great to see new options becoming available here, including the prospect of controlling old school analog devices wirelessly with iOS interfaces!