Music Technology

New Offer

Canadians can now try Amazon Music Unlimited for four months for 99 cents.

This music streaming service includes unlimited access to any song on the service, advert-free on-demand access, offline listening with unlimited skips and hands-free listening with Alexa.

After four months the monthly subscription fee is $9.99, $7.99 for Prime Members.

Please Back Up Your Music

Have you ever wanted to listen to a track you’ve purchased and downloaded some time back only to discover it isn’t in your library?

With digital rights issues and hard drive errors it pays to back up your music – A lesson i’ve been reminded of today when I tried to listen to Zappacosta‘s 80’s Canadian rock classic “Nothing Can Stand In Your Way“.

I believe I had originally purchased this song years back from the now defunct Puretracks music service, well prior to that service’s closing in the fall of 2013, and although it is on my MP3 player it disappeared from my iTunes library because it had been purchased on a previous windows operating system based computer and the digital rights had likely expired before I had noticed.

Unfortunately I had encountered this issue a few times but was able to copy music back from my mp3 player into my library or copy the music from old CD or DVD backups of these recordings to the original media. And this issue is why I kept my hard copy collection of compact discs, cassettes and LPs, to restore music from if someone happens to the recordings on my computer and mp3 player.

As a precaution I make backups of my music (and films and audiobooks) to an external hard drive and other media. And I suggest that you consider doing so as well as Apple transitions from iTunes to the new app, if you use that service as I do.

You can also convert recordings off that service into mp3 or buy mp3s from Google Play, which takes care of some of the digital rights management issues some people have been encountering. But even then you should back up your media because of losses that can happen due to hard drive errors or other more complex issues one can have with mp3 players, phones, tablets and computers.

Yes, you could stream music to some of these mobile devices instead from services like Apple Music, Amazon Music, Google Play Music or Spotify. But data rates are expensive in Canada and public wi-fi is preferably used with VPN due to security issues. And sometimes specific tracks aren’t available on those services or suddenly disappear due to distribution issues.

I use some of these services at home, to keep from using space on my mobile devices, and prefer to use my mp3 player when I travel. But if I couldn’t I would probably get a micro-sd card and copy my music to it for my tablet, which is cheaper than paid internet access and less spotty than public wi-fi, which can be a pain when you’re trying to look at music videos on Youtube.

Your best bet is to always download and backup your media, to avoid having to contact a customer service representative that might be busy handling calls from other people whose access is also down, or might not be available due to the streaming service’s limited business hours.

I was quite happy to find the previously mentioned recording on an old writable CD-Rom I had burned years back and you should probably consider the possibility of this issue happening to you in the future.

More Competition For Cable

Not only is Apple expanding their live television offerings to Canadian Apple TV users in the Fall but Corus Entertainment has just announced that they will provide live broadcasts to Amazon Prime Video subscribers in Canada:

“Available soon to Prime members in Canada, STACKTV includes some of the best entertainment, drama, lifestyle and kids television channels, delivering audiences the latest episodes of hit series live and on-demand.

STACKTV will include: Global, Food Network Canada, HGTV Canada, W Network, HISTORY®, Adult Swim, Slice, Showcase, National Geographic, Teletoon, Treehouse and YTV.”

Unfortunately sports and news fans will need to wait for more channels to be added to this service. But Greg Hart, vice president of Amazon Prime Video, said he’s hopeful that voids in the offering will be filled over time, in an interview with The Canadian Press.

This additional service will be available for a monthly fee of $12.99 (plus taxes) via the Prime Video app on smart TVs, on Roku devices, iOS and Android mobile devices, Amazon Fire TV and the Amazon Fire TV Stick. And Nickelodeon subscription video on-demand service will cost an extra $5.99 per month.

Prime Video is currently $7.99 plus tax or free to Amazon Prime members. And that streaming service currently offers film and television programs on demand, their catalogue expanding slowly to offer content that is currently only accessible by American users.


Goodbye iTunes

Bloomberg has reported that iTunes will be no more shortly, Apple having planned to replace this app with three individual apps for music, television and podcasts soon.

Originally announced on January 9th, 2001 at the 2001 Macworld Expo in San Francisco, this program had been released in March 2001 and brought Apple into the music industry, changing that industry by providing easy access to 200,000 individual tracks via a newly created online store by April 2003.

With iTunes 4.1, Apple extended access to their store to Microsoft Windows operating system users on October 16th, 2003, launching the Canadian iTunes store on December 2nd, 2004 with the release of iTunes 4.7.

When version 6 of the program was released on October 12th, 2005, users of this program were given access to popular television programs, Pixar shorts and music videos, later gaining access to Digital Rights Management free recordings via iTunes Plus and the release of version 7.2 of this program on May 29th, 2007. And Canadians were able to purchase or rent major studio films the following year on June 4, 2008 via iTunes 7.6, which eventually contributed to the demise of several DVD and blu-ray rental chains in Canada.

On May 13th, Apple had announced that the AppleTV app was available to Canadian iPhone, iPad and Apple TV customers that are running iOS 12.3 and tvOS 12.3. And that Mac and select Samsung Smart TV owners (2018/19 models) will be able to install and use that new program in the fall.

I suspect the iTunes music store will simply be rebranded to Apple Music, offering streaming and music downloads. And redirect older links to this service.

Au Revoir MusiquePlus

Quebecois music video broadcaster MusiquePlus will go off air in August.

This is one the channels I use to watch alternatively with Much Music in the 80’s and 90’s, which introduced me to francophone rock and pop from Quebec/Canada, France and Belgium, through music videos and live performances.

Unfortunately, like most music channels they started diversifying their content in the late 90’s, slowly leaving music videos behind and i’ve stopped watching it because it had been flooded with “reality” programs.

When Youtube came along in 2005, this was the beginning of the end for these stations, the coup de grace being Vevo, which came online in December 2009.

I will miss it, especially Claude Rajote’s “Le Cimetière des CD”, one of the channel’s longest running music critique program.

A Sad Day In The U.k

The last remnants of HMV are in trouble in the United Kingdom according to Sky News, a year and a half after closing in Canada.

Founded in 1921 in London, this music store flourished and became Britain’s largest music retailer until running into financial issues in 2010 due to the shift towards digital music and film, which resulted in the closure of the World’s Largest Music Store on Oxford Street on January 14th, 2014 and Irish chain in August 2016.

Today the chain has entered administration for the second time since January 5th, 2011 and at risk are 130 stores and 2200 employees.