Instagram Users Enraged At New Terms Of Service

Over the past few years, Instagram has worked its way up through the ranks of social networking apps and websites, earning itself a place of significance alongside Twitter and Facebook (which happens to own Instagram). Needless to say, when companies like these reach such a level, every little change they make to their product or rules falls under strong scrutiny by our society.

Therefore, as you can imagine, Instagram users did not take too kindly to the company’s new terms of service adjustment, which, according to the L.A. Times, stated that “Instagram had the right to turn images into advertisements without any approval from or compensation for users starting Jan. 16. ” part of Facebook’s drive to make money from the service it bought this year for $715 million in cash and stock.”

Backlash from users has been rampant, with threats to delete their accounts and move on to similar photo apps like Hipstamatic. In respond to the uproar, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom was quick to try and quell everyone’s concerns by publicly stating, “Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos,” he wrote. “We respect that your photos are your photos. Period.” While somewhat reassuring, this does not change the fact that the company tried create such a dubious policy. Some might say that the app service is on thin ice right now, as users will be on their toes, keeping an eye on Instagram’s next move.

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The Echo Nest Introduces "The Infinite Jukebox" At Music Hack Day @ MIT

All you music and math nerds out there, prepare to get nothing productive done for the next few hours. Introducing The Infinite Jukebox. Made by The Echo Nest‘s director of developer platform, Paul Lemere, this webpage/app allows you to listen to any song FOREVER with infinite variations in structure.

It may sound a bit confusing at first, but once you mess around with it you will find that the possibilities are literally endless. Here’s an explanation from the app’s FAQ page, explaining how it works:

“We use the Echo Nest analyzer to break the song into beats. We play the song beat by beat, but at every beat there’s a chance that we will jump to a different part of song that happens to sound very similar to the current beat. For beat similarity we look at pitch, timbre, loudness, duration and the position of the beat within a bar. There’s a nifty visualization that shows all the possible transitions that can occur at any beat.”

So as the song starts, you will see an array of colors in a circle with what looks like some sort of virtual web spanning within—consider this like a linear soundwave bent into a circle and each colored bar represents a beat. As the song progresses, a line travels clockwise around this circle highlighting each beat. The “web” strands in the middle of the circle are a visual representation of the possible transitions to other parts of the song that sound similar to the current one. The program is designed in a way so that the song will never end but continue to change in structure. There are a lot of great tracks uploaded already, but you can also upload any song you’d like. Even better, you can control the velocity and direction of the song as well as skip to various parts whenever you’d like, basically making your own infinite interactive remix!

These are the sort of creations that come out of Music Hack Day @ MIT, which is, as described on their website, “an international 24-hour event where programmers, designers and artists come together to conceptualize, build and demo the future of music. Software, hardware, mobile, web, instruments, art – anything goes as long as it’s music related.”

So click here and have fun with this little toy! We apologize if you become addicted and it takes up the rest of your day.

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Electropolis: iPad and iPhone Production Toys

This issue of Electropolis offers recommendations for iPad and iPhone music production applications. These apps are pretty impressive production and performance tools/toys I suggest for both amateurs and pros. The cool thing is you won’t be paying more than a few bucks for them, a ridiculously low price compared to expensive computer programs!

Propellerhead’s Rebirth for iPad

ReBirth followed Propellerhead’s initial software, ReCycle, that got the company up and going in 1997. Although a discontinued retail item, Propellerhead offers the software for free, as well as an iPad and iPhone application that contains enhanced graphics. Originally inspired by Mr. Kakehashi, the founder of Roland, these Swedish lads went off to design digital emulations of some of the most classic and popular Roland synths of their time. In the 1990s, Roland’s popular TR- 808 &  TR-909 drum machines and bass synth, the TR – 303, began making their way into the track titles of the most popular electronic acts of the decade”such as Fatboy Slim’s “Everybody Needs a 303” and Daft Punk’s “Revolution 909.” Today, these analog sounds have become absolutely legendary amongst the EDM culture, and they’re now available to be played on your iPad! ReBirth has been credited for its nearly dead-on replication of the original analog tones of these Roland devices. As a matter of fact, the emulations are so accurate that Roland has asked Propellerhead to acknowledge their inspiration”which they’ve been more than willing to do. As stated on the Apple’s Web site, it’s features include:


Chris Brown Accused of Stealing Woman's iPhone

Singer Chris Brown was reportedly leaving Miami nightclub Cameo with rapper Tyga in a black Bentley, when a woman began to take pictures of him with her iPhone. Brown then snatched the phone from her hand, said “B*tch, you ain’t going to put that on no website,” and drove away.

While charges have yet to be filed, authorities have listed the crime as one count of robbery by sudden snatching. This felony could cause many problems for Brown, who has yet to complete his 5 year probation period for the assault of ex-girlfriend Rihanna. Other sources say that the reason Brown became angry was because he did not want Rihanna to see pictures of him with other women, as this would ruin any chance of reconciliation with the pop star.

Live Wired: The Best Apps For Concertgoers

Most weeks on Live Wired, we bring you our first-hand experiences at concerts from all different kinds of artists. This time around, we want to talk about all of the ways you can find out about the best shows in town and make your concert experience even better! Now there are a vast amount of Web sites that specifically target concertgoers, and a ton of these sites offer apps for your phone. For those of you with Smart phones, here are some of the best apps to fuel your passion for live music. Check them out!

First up is Songkick, a Web site that helps you track your favorite artists who are going on tour. From your phone, the app (which is free, by the way!) will scan your music library to get a sense of your musical tastes, and will also determine your location. This allows the app to work its magic and customize a schedule for you from their database of concerts across the country. You can even get alerts to your mobile device when a show is added, which you can then share with friends across other social networking sites. You can even create your own calendar to keep track of the events you have coming up.


360-Degrees Of The Black Eyed Peas

So your friends cut you off from your I Am T-Pain app after they got sick of your excessive autotuning? Don’t worry! On January 24, Black Eyed Peas frontman introduced the latest iPhone app designed to help fans get involved in their music.

The app, BEP360, is the first release from’s newly-established company will.i.apps, and is available for $2.99 on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. It was developed by will.i.apps and Metaio, a company that develops augmented reality software. The first app of its kind, BEP360 gives fans the ability to control a 360° music video for the Peas’ The Time (Dirty Bit). It allows users to fully immerse themselves in video by swinging their phone around an axis. The app also gives users a chance to direct a virtual photo shoot with and bandmates Fergie, and Taboo. Other features include a Black Eyed Peas-inspired puzzle game and the ability to view and share comments with other BEP360 users.

According to a January 24 press release, the new Black Eyed Peas app will allow artists to connect with their fans on another level. Will.i.apps and the BEP360 app have been established to help artists tap into the potential of our hyper-connected mobile world and bring fans deeper inside the music far beyond a four minute audio recording, explains. The release also states that BEP360 is only the first of several upcoming applications from will.i.apps that will converge the worlds of creativity, music and advanced digital technologies. Of course, we’d expect nothing less from a guy who recently signed on as Intel’s new Director of Creative Innovation. And hey “ maybe the app will distract people from the Peas’ underwhelming Super Bowl performance.

For more information about will.i.apps and BEP360, check out the company’s Web site.

The GRAMMYs MusicMapper App Tracks Melodic Memories

Everyone seems to be jumping onto the geo-tagging trend in the past few months. First there was Foursquare, then Facebook Places and now the GRAMMYs? Surprising but true. The GRAMMYs are teaming up with Internet radio startup Rdio for their MusicMapper app. The concept gets points for a few reasons: it keeps the GRAMMYs looking fresh and up-to-date with social networking (and the audience they should be courting), it’s admittedly clever in crowd-sourcing a lot of content from an active user base and, honestly, the idea is pretty cute. Users who download the app tag locations on a map with music that carries some personal meaning to them. Just browsing for a few seconds, one can come upon a myriad of different responses ” a young mother posting the perfect song to lull her baby to slumber, a fan at the University of Maryland posting Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” with the note Fear the turtle!!!,  a young man in Manhattan posting the song by UK crooner Jamie Lidell that he heard as he proposed to his fiancé.

And then of course, some pre-teen girl posted about Justin Beiber and how totes cute he was.

Well, if Daft Punk says so...

Songs can be heard in 30 second snippets for people who don’t already have the app. The app is available for download for iPhone and Android users. Android users get a nice little bonus too as the app is integrated into their augmented reality view. Android users can simply point their camera in any direction and be directed to the nearest tagged song automatically.

This isn’t the first major social media initiative the GRAMMYs have rolled out. In the past two years the GRAMMYs have tried to make themselves as visible as possible in social media during the lead up to each year’s ceremony. Last year, the GRAMMYs crowd-sourced fan videos and Twitter comments to form literal artist profiles on WE’RE ALL FANS. The site invited users to form their own profiles, made up of their favorite songs (musical DNA) and to share their profile with friends. While it doesn’t look like the site is getting an update this year, the GRAMMYs credits projects like these with boosting their ratings for the 2010 awards show by 35 percent. Not only are the GRAMMYs making every move to stay technologically in step with their fan base, but they’re seeing tangible rewards for their effort. And if that means we get to play with stuff like MusicMapper, then kudos to that.

Needle In The Haystack: Rie Sinclair

One would think with her porcelain skin and ethereal voice that this week’s Needle In The Haystack Rie Sinclair just floated onto the scene as if it were divine intervention. Quite the contrary, Rie has been making waves in the industry better equated to a tropical storm than a wading pool, writing music for ABC/Disney and shows like Californication, Ghost Whisperer, Vampire Diaries and working with veterans like ex-Eels bassist/Abandoned Pools frontman Tommy Walter. She even has her own Emmy nomination and (arguably more impressive) iPhone app to boot. Learn more about Rie in the video below, and check back for more from her throughout the week, like free downloads, interviews and videos.

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Day 2: Future of Music Coalition's Policy Summit 2010

The second day of The Future of Music Coalition’s Policy Summit covered a ton of topics for musicians and music entrepreneurs alike. On paper, some of the sessions may have seemed unrelated, but it was great to see how it all wove together by the end.

Rocco Landesman, the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and a powerhouse Broadway producer”who pleased many in the art world when he took on the new role”gave a terrific keynote speech about the value of arts in both the cultural and economic communities.

Landesman’s talk was followed by a closer look at the spread of broadband to rural communities, housing for artists and opportunities for musicians to perform overseas as part of cultural programs organized by the US Department of State. The session featured presentations from Jonathan Adelstein (Administrator, Rural Utility Service, US Department of Agriculture), Maura Pally (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Professional and Cultural Exchanges, US Department of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs) and Ron Sims (Deputy Secretary, US Department of Housing and Urban Development) and a subsequent conversation with attendees at the summit. The session helped explain why the current administration’s support of broadband expansion into rural areas matters to musicians (more online reach, more potential fans), cultural exchange programs (reaching new audiences while traveling the world and representing the US as peaceful musical representatives) and affordable housing (recognizing that not all musicians or artists can afford fair market prices”even if neighborhoods often like to tout their artistic population). The session helped connect the dots about why we, as citizens, need to be support public servants and representatives who understand the value of the arts in our greater culture. Subsequent conversation featured some fascinating stories (that would make any musician jealous) from Amy Blackman, the manager of Ozomatli, about the joys and challenges of their trips overseas to Asia and Africa.

The FMC is all about creating a “middle class of musicians” that is more sustainable. In continuing the thread of “musicians running themselves as a small business,” sessions covered subjects like managing and understanding all the data available now for anyone who has a web site or manages their presence on third party sites. This particular panel included Danah Boyd, the Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research; Eric Garland, Founder/CEO at BigChampagne Media Measurement (a new media and data measurement site) and musicians Erin McKeown and Tim Quirk.

In “Who’s Your Ticket Master Now? The Magical Mashup Between Live Music and Social Networks,” attendees learned how quickly Ticket Master”and its service fees”is being out-maneuvered by web ticket start-ups like Ticketweb, Ticketfly and There was also talk of an interesting idea from Australia called Posse, where musicians and venues can utilize fans to help sell tickets and receive a commission. The session included Ian Hogarth, co-founder and CEO of Songkick, a free service where you can track bands who are coming to your town. One of the most interesting comments came from Donna Westmoreland, the COO of Washington, DC’s 9:30 club about how many of their concerts are selling out simply by being announced to their email subscribers, reducing their need for additional advertising or marketing.

The latter part of the day included two interviews and conversations. First was Kara Swisher of All Things Digital speaking with Tim Westergren, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of  Pandora about his company’s strategy and where people will likely be using the service in the near future”from desktops to laptops, iPhones and Android, to iPad and tablets to cars and seemingly everywhere in between. Westergren laid out the company’s plans more as an advertiser-funded model than any other source, and acknowledged that the platform’s success.  According to a third-party study, the site simply helps sell more recorded music”43% of users bought more music after they used Pandora while only 1% bought less music, which is a great stat for those who assume online music is cannibalizing other music revenue sources.

The second conversation was a great reality check amid all of this digital change. Greg Kot, music critic at The Chicago Tribune and co-host of Sound Opinions interviewed T. Bone Burnett, the musician, composer and producer who has worked with Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Sam Phillips, John Mellencamp and many more. Burnett, as a consummate audio producer, is weary about how online delivery of music has greatly degraded the quality and experience of the music we consume and provided a great reminder that the most important thing in being a musician is to make great musicš to aim there first and let the marketing be secondary as you make great art. You can read more about the interview from Kot’s page in The Chicago Tribune.

Learn more about the Future of Music Coalition’s 2010 Policy Summit speakers. Find more links and follow us live at The Future of Music Coalition’s Summit 2010. Search the hashtag #fmc10 to read up on this and more.

New Music Biz 101: Mobile Applications

In today’s day and age, technology allows artists the opportunity to be in a lot of locations where their fans hang out.  The increase in smartphones, for one, has made the idea of being everywhere your fans are, quite literal. Today, artists are empowered to stay connected to their to those that support them, and engage them on a meaningful level from anywhere.

You know you can use Facebook to engage your fans from your smartphone, but the lack of branding opportunities perhaps makes the experience less than what it could be. Fortunately, there are a few businesses out there that work with their clients to create smartphone applications that represent the artists brand image and allows them to engage directly with their fan base. One such company is Mobile Backstage.

Mobile Backstage is an individually branded social application for bands and artists to interact directly with their devoted fans via mobile. The application offers the fan a focused way to interact with the artist, undisturbed by the often times distracting social media sites. The application immerses the fan in your own brand and your own image.

Some of the features include:

  • Sharing – Create and share exclusive media to your most committed fans
  • Music “ Interactive discography, in-app listening and easy shopping prompts via iTunes
  • Visual “ A tailored look and feel for each customer
  • Fan Interaction “ Rate and comment on all media, create and share fan media, relevant and real-time feedback and other basic social media features

Tools like this are really great stepping-stones for artists in their revenue-generating careers. The cost of setup isn’t cheap and it is only when you’re gigging consistently and have a nice revenue stream that a tool such as this should be considered. The application cost $75/month to run, and has a $1,516 initial setup cost.

Let us know what you think about these applications. If you have any experience with mobile apps as a Mobile Backstage, share your wisdom!