TIME Media

These Are the People Picking Your Next Internet Radio Song

Z100's Jingle Ball 2014 Presented By Goldfish Puffs - Show
Jamie McCarthy—2014 Getty Images Taylor Swift performs onstage during iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2014, hosted by Z100 New York and presented by Goldfish Puffs at Madison Square Garden on December 12, 2014 in New York City.

When it comes to tunes, human curation is back in a big way

It’s never been easier to listen to music–and never harder to decide what to listen to. First, Apple let us digitize our music libraries and put them in our pocket with the iPod. Then streaming services like Spotify made the idea of a “library” obsolete, promising unfettered access to tens of millions of songs at all times. Now, tech companies are trying to make sense of this massive sea of songs with an idea ripped straight from the analog era: getting actual human beings to offer up curated selections of music.

“No one on the Internet is like, ‘But where do I get more songs?’” says Elias Roman, product manager for Google Play Music. Roman was a co-founder of Songza, a music service focusing on curated, contextual playlists that was acquired by Google in July 2014. Since acquiring Songza, Google Play Music has placed context front and center in its streaming interface. When booting up the service on mobile or desktop, Google Play Music provides a list of potential activities you may be doing based on timing. On the 4th of July, for instance, the service offered different sets of playlists for hosting a barbecue, watching fireworks or celebrating with patriotic tunes.

“What I’m most excited about is having people feel like they’re paying to make their workouts and commute better,” says Roman. “The value prop is around lifestyle enhancement.”

Though Google calls these playlists “radio stations,” they’re built differently from the way Internet radio services such as Pandora operate. While Pandora uses listeners’ past preferences and song metadata to algorithmically build stations based on artists or genres on the fly, every track in Google’s contextual playlists are hand-selected by teams of music curators and editors (Play Music has a separate, Pandora-like radio feature with algorithmically driven stations). That human touch helps give the stations a quirky specificity that’s hard for computers to match—there are playlists for Ron Burgundy’s bachelor pad, Kanye West’s soul-sampling “Pink Polo” era and sipping tea with Drake.

Google pays musicians, DJs, music journalists and other experts to build these unusual playlists. A small team of editors permanently employed at Google (and previously Songza) are in charge of managing the curators, tweaking their playlists and framing each collection of music with the right headline and description. They also analyze the way users are interacting with individual lists, swapping out songs that are being skipped too frequently for ones that might be more appealing.

While the curators often have highly specific taste—Google has worked with an expert in Spanish-language children’s music, for instance—the editors have to be generalists who understand the appeal of many different styles of music. As part of the hiring process, some editors had to make a playlist for Susan Boyle fans to prove they could pick songs that don’t necessarily align with their own taste.

“Even if it’s done by a super expert, it’s still for a general audience,” says Jessica Suarez, a product marketing manager at Google who serves as one of Play Music’s editors. “We’re trying to reach as many people as possible.”

Only Google knows exactly how well this focus on human-curated content is paying off. The company declined to disclose the number of Google Play Music subscribers, though it said the figure has doubled since it acquired Songza. A recently launched free, ad-supported tier centered around these playlists indicates that Google believes in their appeal. Newly launched Apple Music, meanwhile, has a similar emphasis on human expertise, with numerous playlists made by Apple editors and a live radio station geared toward highlighting lesser-known gems. Spotify also pays curators to make popular playlists on its service (curators across the services can expect to make a couple of hundred dollars per list, according to The Wall Street Journal).

For online music services, the increased importance of these human experts may be proof the algorithm’s role as the final arbiter in all digital decisions may be fading. “At this point, it’s not cool if you’re listening to Green Day radio,” says Roman. “Like, what does that even say about you? But if you’re listening to ’90s Aggro Anthems’ at the gym, you’re feel like you’re listening to something that’s thoughtful and representative of you and your aspirations and it’s not just pure, lowest-common-denominator background music.”

TIME Race

Why Millennials Can’t Afford to Be Colorblind

Protestors Gather Against Confederate Flag
Andrew Renneisen—The Washington Post/Getty Images People gather to protest the confederate flag which flies in front of the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, SC on June 20, 2015. The protest comes after the racially motivated killings of nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC.

Victor Luckerson is a reporter covering tech and business for Time.

'Not seeing race' allows young people to avoid dealing with the racial rancor that still surrounds us

Because we have been taught to believe in happy endings, it’s easy for young people to view racism as a problem that will inevitably be solved, or perhaps already has been. In the history books, racial progress for African Americans occurs on a comforting positive slope, evolving from slavery to Jim Crow discrimination to the post-Civil Rights era of equality under the law. And in our own lifetimes, we reached a new racial milestone when Barack Obama became the United States’ first black president, thanks in a large part to a groundswell of support from young voters of all races who were optimistic about the future.

What the history books miss is that change rarely happens in orderly progression. There are fits and starts. There are retrenchments. There are debates. Change occurs not only on the macro level, in soaring proclamations by presidents and civic leaders, but also on the micro level, through a shift in the thinking of everyday people. And big racial progress is always met with a measure of resistance–some of it passive, some of it active, some of it horrifically violent. That is what we are experiencing right now in America. That is what happened in Charleston, S.C. last month. And it isn’t going to stop just because an older generation passes away.

Dylann Roof, the man charged with murdering nine black people after being welcomed into their church service, was only 21. He was a Millennial, and while his actions don’t reflect the feelings in the hearts of most young people, it’s now our collective responsibility to address head-on the problems in our society that allow such hate to flourish.

Millennials claim to be racially progressive but are often ill-equipped to have frank discussions about race. In a 2014 survey by MTV, 91% of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 said they believed in racial equality, and 72% said their generation believes more in equality than older Americans. Many of these young people see “colorblindness” as valuable measure of racial progress, with 68% saying that focusing on race “prevents society from becoming colorblind.” But only 37% of respondents were raised in households that talked about race, and just 20% of those surveyed said they felt comfortable talking about biases against specific groups.

This is the crux of the problem. Many young people take “not seeing race” as badge of honor that proves their progressivism and absolves them from engaging in discussions on the topic. Colorblindness allows you to escape the racial rancor that is playing out in our streets, on social media and now even in our churches.

But America is still a country riddled with systemic racial inequalities, and many are are becoming more pronounced, not less. Whites are now 13 times wealthier than blacks, the largest gap since 1989. Blacks are 2.5 times more likely than whites to be arrested for drug possession, even though about the same percentage of blacks and whites use drugs. Despite the promise of equal education enshrined by Brown v. Board 60 years ago, more than a third of black students in the South now attend schools that are almost fully minority and are often doubly segregated by poverty. Their issues are literally invisible to many of their mostly white peers who would never see these schools.

(MORE: Selma High School 50 Years After Bloody Sunday)

It’s not enough to assume that these problems will disappear when younger, more open minds rise to power. A recent survey by NORC at University of Chicago showed that 31% of white Millennials surveyed rated blacks lazier the whites, just one percentage point less than Gen X’ers and 4 points less than Baby Boomers. Twenty-three percent of white Millennials surveyed rated blacks less intelligent than whites, compared to 19 % of Gen X’ers. At the same time, even in 2015, the never-ending litany of racist incidents at college campuses continues, from the vulgar chant on the fraternity bus at the University of Oklahoma to the students who hung a noose on the statue of the University of Mississippi’s first black enrollee. More evidence that even among the most well-educated young people, individual racial cruelty is far too common.

There’s no one solution to these problems—but they are problems all of today’s young Americans will have to work to solve in the years ahead. As of 2014, most children under 5 in the United States are non-white. By 2043, most Americans will be. There are obvious financial and political dangers for people who ignore these demographic shifts, like presidential candidate/entrepreneur/television personality Donald Trump. He stands to lose millions of dollars worth of deals and sponsorships for calling Mexicans “rapists,” even as he draws large crowds. But there’s a collective cost as well. A world where all minorities are not granted the same opportunities and protections as white people–while attending school, while interacting with police, while praying at church–will be a world of even higher incarceration rates, health care expenses and education inequality than the one we live in today. These are economic costs, in addition to the more obvious moral ones, that will ultimately burden everyone.

It’s possible that the racial strife of the past year will change young people’s views on America’s racial challenges in a very permanent way. The Confederate flag, which Roof adopted as his own, is suddenly being removed from major retailers and sporting events, and South Carolina’s senate passed a bill to remove the flag from statehouse grounds on Monday.

Even before the Charleston shooting, a group of high schoolers I interviewed for a feature about teenage life in 2015 already seemed to have been made more racially conscious by protests in Ferguson, New York and elsewhere. “Within these last few years, you’re definitely seeing that there’s some stuff that’s still lingering, especially with the justice system,” said Lonnie Hancock, a 16-year-old at East Side Community High School in Manhattan. “Before I was kind of aloof to it. Now I feel like it kind of is more in your face that things aren’t exactly OK.”

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Autos

Chevy’s New Cars Will Keep Your Phone Cool While it Charges

Chevy Vent
Chevy Chevy Vent

To help prevent your smartphone from overheating

A cell phone stuck baking in the summer sun in a car can turn piping hot fast. Now, Chevrolet has devised a solution: an air conditioning vent made especially for phones.

Many of Chevy’s 2016 fleet of vehicles, including the Malibu, Volt and and Impala will feature a special AC vent in the middle console in the spot where people often stash their phones.

The feature only works when the whole car’s AC is on, so leaving the phone in a hot car when you’re out and about is still a bad idea. But it could help keep a phone cool when it’s doing things like charging, giving directions or streaming music.

TIME Media

Apple Music Is Cheaper Depending on Where You Live

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Opens In San Francisco
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue speaks during the Apple WWDC on June 8, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

Apple wants to make its service competitive with other apps available on Android

Apple Music may cost about $10 per month in the United States, but that’s not the case everywhere.

The music streaming service, which rolls out in more than 100 countries this week, is considerably cheaper in parts of Asia and South America. In India, a subscription will cost about $2 per month, according to Quartz. In Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand, the cost is about $5. These countries also have the group membership subscription, which costs $15 in the U.S., offered at a similar discount.

Other streaming services like Rdio already offer competing services in foreign markets at a pretty low price. In the past, Apple hasn’t tried to compete on price in emerging markets, instead positioning the iPhone as a luxury item. But with Apple Music set to launch on Android, the world’s most popular mobile operating system, in the fall, it makes sense for Apple to price its service in a way that makes it affordable to all smartphone users and not just iPhone owners.

TIME Apple

Here’s What Steve Wozniak Thinks of The Steve Jobs Trailer

"I felt a lot of the real Jobs"

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says parts of the trailer for the upcoming biopic Steve Jobs are inaccurate—but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t like the direction the movie is taking.

In the trailer, Wozniak (played by Seth Rogen) confronts Jobs (Michael Fassbender) about his lack of technical skills. “What do you do?” the film’s Wozniak says. “You’re not an engineer. You’re not a designer. You can’t put a hammer to a nail. I built the circuit board. The graphical interface was stolen. So how come, 10 times in a day, I read ‘Steve Jobs is a genius?'”

In an interview with Bloomberg, the real Wozniak says he never uttered those exact words, but their spirit “carried the right message” about his relationship with Jobs, who quickly became the face of the company the two men co-founded.

“I felt a lot of the real Jobs in the trailer, although a bit exaggerated,” Wozniak said.

The trailer paints Jobs in a less-than-flattering light, showing him going on tirades against employees and disavowing his own daughter. The movie, written by The Social Network writer Aaron Sorkin, debuts on Oct. 9.

TIME apps

6 Must-Know Tricks for Mastering Apple Music

A guide to Apple's powerful but somewhat confusing new app

Apple Music, Apple’s new streaming service, is finally here. The $9.99-per-month service is trying to beat competitors like Spotify and Google Play Music by cramming in as many features as possible: access to 30 million songs on demand, playlists curated by music experts, algorithmically powered radio stations and a live radio station like the ones you hear on the classic FM dial.

All those features add up to make Apple Music an incredibly powerful app, but also one that can be pretty challenging to navigate. Here are five quick tips to make the experience a bit more seamless:

Understanding Apple Music’s Tabs

Apple Music is divided into five main sections, and it’s not exactly obvious what each one does. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • For You shows you personalized playlists and albums based on the genre and artist preferences you pick out when you first open the app, as well as your play history.
  • New shows a list of new songs and albums, currently popular content, videos and thematic playlists.
  • Radio features Beats 1, Apple’s 24/7 live radio station, and algorithmically driven stations based on genre.
  • Connect is a social network that lets artists connect directly to fans.
  • My Music shows the songs you have in your library, as well as any playlists you’ve built.

Show Only Songs You’ve Downloaded

Apple Music doesn’t do much to help denote which songs are downloaded to your phone and which are floating in the cloud. On the “My Music” tab, you can select the drop-down menu that begins with “Artists” in the middle of the screen and activate the “Music Available Offline” option at the bottom of the menu. That will make it so only songs on your iPhone show up.

Turn Off Your Subscription’s Auto-Renewal

Apple Music comes with a free three-month subscription, but be careful—Apple has already “helpfully” signed you up to begin paying the $9.99 monthly fee via your iTunes account when the trial ends. To make sure you don’t get charged, press the human silhouette icon in the top left corner of Apple Muisc, select “View Apple ID,” then select “Manage” under the Subcriptions header. Select “Apple Music Membership” and then select “Free Trial.” The app should then show you the date your trial is set to end, and it won’t charge you after that time expires.

 

Download Songs Using Cellular Data

By default, the iPhone only downloads songs over Wi-Fi to help prevent large data bills. If you want to be able to download Apple Music songs to your phone via wireless data, go to the Settings menu and then select “iTunes & App Store.” Toggle the “Use Cellular Data” option on, and Apple Music will be able to download songs whenever you have an Internet connection.

See the Upcoming Schedule for Beats 1

Beats 1, Apple Music’s live radio station, is a new twist for music streaming, but presents an age-old problem for music listeners: how do you know what the radio station is going to play next? If you simply click on the “Beats 1” art at the top of the “Radio” tab, you’ll be presented with a schedule of the upcoming shows over the next several hours. Bonus protip: you can add any song playing on Beats 1 to your library by selecting the three periods to the right of the song’s name and clicking “Add to My Music.”

Adjust Your Genre/Artist Preferences

When you first boot up Apple Music, the app will ask you to pick a few favorite genres to help it show you songs catered to your tastes. Later on, if you realize the app is serving you a bit too much death metal, you can change these preferences easily. Click the human silhouette icon in the top left corner, select “Choose Artists for You” and you’ll be taken to the same selection screen for genres and artists that you saw when you first used the app.

TIME Greece

Here’s What Greek Austerity Would Look Like in America

Putting Greece's economic catastrophe into perspective

Greece is in the middle of a fresh round of economic tumult as its leaders try to negotiate terms for a new bailout package to keep the country financially afloat. Since 2010, Greece has been receiving money from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in exchange for agreeing to harsh spending cuts and tax increases. The steep cost-cutting measures, known as austerity, have become a common practice across Europe as the continent has struggled to regain its economic footing following the global financial crisis of 2008.

But Greece’s case has been especially extreme. With steep slashes to health funding, salaries and pensions along with huge tax increases, Greek unemployment has skyrocketed, as have the number of people in poverty. As of Tuesday night, Greece had defaulted on a $1.7 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund, and the financial future of the country is looking increasingly dire. Greece will have to agree to even more spending cuts to continue to receive funding.

To place the severity of Greece’s austerity measures over the last several years in perspective, here’s an idea for how the same types of cuts would impact the United States.

  • Greece’s minimum monthly wage was cut by 22% in 2012, from 751 euros to 586 euros. A similar cut in the U.S. would drop the hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $5.66.
  • In 2009 and 2010 Greece implemented a variety of cuts to salaries for public sector workers that worked out to an average pay cut of about 15%. In the U.S. that would decrease the average government employee’s pay from $51,340 per year to $43,639, using 2012 figures.
  • Pension cuts have been an especially controversial pain point in Greece, and the combined cuts have lead to a 40% decrease in pension funding since 2009, according to the Associated Press. A similar drop in Social Security payouts in the U.S. would mean the average senior citizen’s monthly would mean a drop in Social Security payouts from $1,294 per month on average to $776 per month.
  • Greece’s national health budget has been slashed by about 40% since 2008, according to the New York Times. Using U.S. health spending figures from 2013, that would drop federal, state and local government spending on health care from $1.25 trillion ($3,980 per person) to $725 billion ($2,388 per person).
  • In 2010 Greece increased the tax on cigarettes by about 20 percent. That would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes in New York from $6.86 to $7.89.
TIME Media

Everything You Need to Know About Apple Music

Apple's foray into music streaming launches Tuesday

Apple’s answer to the fast-changing digital music landscape is finally upon us. Apple Music, which launches Tuesday, is the tech giant’s most ambitious music project since the original iTunes Store launched in 2003.

But unlike the company’s famous digital storefront, Apple Music won’t be selling users individual songs or albums. Instead, customers will pay a monthly subscription fee of about $10 per month for access to tens of millions of songs.

It’s a way of listening to music that’s fast becoming the norm thanks to similar offerings by competitors such as Spotify and Google. Though Apple is years late to the party, the company’s arrival signals that streaming is here to stay.

Here’s a quick primer on Apple Music and how it differs from the other streaming services on the market.

What does Apple Music offer?

Apple Music lets users stream songs from Apple’s massive library whenever they want. Users can make playlists or listen to playlists curated by music experts. Tracks can also be downloaded for offline listening.

While these are all standard features of most subscription services, Apple is also trying to make it easier for users to seamlessly switch between music in their personal libraries and songs on Apple’s service. Apple Music will automatically upload any tracks in a user’s library that aren’t available on the service to an iCloud account, so they can be streamed from any device — meaning users won’t have to use up lots of space on their phones. Users will be initially be able to store up to 25,000 of their own songs in the cloud; Apple has plans to increase that limit to 100,000 this fall.

How much will it cost?

A single membership is $9.99 per month, the standard rate for a paid streaming service. Users can also pay $15 per month for a family plan for up to six users. The service is launching with a three-month free trial available to all users.

Which devices does Apple Music support?

At launch Apple Music will support PC, Mac, Apple Watch and iOS devices that can run iOS 8 or newer. An Android version is coming in the fall.

How do I download Apple Music?

For iPhone users, simply download the iOS 8.4 update, expected to appear around 11 a.m. ET Tuesday.

What features make Apple Music stand out?

Apple is launching a live radio station called Beats 1 that will broadcast 24 hours a day. Helmed by former BBC Radio DJ Zane Lowe, the free station will feature shows by stars such as Drake and Elton John, as well as interviews with celebrities like Eminem.

Apple Music will also have a feature called Connect that lets artists post behind-the-scenes content and communicate directly with fans.

What about exclusive music?

It’s likely Apple will try to leverage its considerable clout and deep pockets to line up many exclusive releases for its music service. Already Taylor Swift has said her hit album 1989 will be available for streaming for the first time ever through Apple Music. Dr. Dre’s The Chronic will also make its streaming debut on Apple’s service (Dre began working for Apple after the company bought his company Beats Electronics for $3 billion last year). Expect similar deals in the future.

Which features is Apple Music missing?

Spotify remains the best service for making music-listening social thanks to its collaborative playlists and tight integration with Facebook. Apple hasn’t mentioned either feature being part of Apple Music. Apple’s service will also reportedly stream at a maximum bitrate of 256 kbps, which is below the 320 kbps that Spotify, Google Play Music, Tidal and Rdio all offer. Whether or not average users will notice or care about that difference remains to be seen.

What if I don’t want to pay for a subscription service?

Apple Music offers the live station, as well as artist and genre-specific Internet radio stations similar to Pandora, for free. Google Play Music and Rdio also have free tiers that offer Internet radio rather than on-demand streaming. Spotify remains the most fully-featured free ad-supported service as desktop users can play any song on demand for free while mobile users can build playlists to be enjoyed in random order.

TIME LGBT

Ben & Jerry’s Just Renamed This Ice Cream Flavor in Honor of Gay Marriage

iDough-iDough-pint
Ben & Jerry's

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough has a new name

Ben & Jerry’s, a longstanding corporate champion of gay rights, is celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage throughout the U.S. by renaming one of its ice cream flavors. During the summer the chain will rename its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream to “I Dough, I Dough” at participating stores. Proceeds from the ice cream sales will go to the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBT rights.

This is not the first time Ben & Jerry’s has been a vocal supporter of gay rights. In 1989 the company was the first major employer in Vermont to offer health insurance to same-sex partners of employees. More recently Ben & Jerry’s joined a petition of major businesses asking the Supreme Court to strike down same-sex marriage bans across the U.S.

TIME Netherlands

This Dutch City Plans to Give Residents a Universal ‘Basic Income’

CYCLING-FRA-NED-TDF2015
ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN—AFP/Getty Images A man cycles past a cafe displaying Tour de France items for sale, ahead of the upcoming Tour de France cycling race, in downtown Utrecht on June 23, 2015.

Residents will receive money to cover living expenses with no strings attached

A city in the Netherlands is planning a large-scale experiment to see what happens when a society sets a standard, baseline income for all its citizens.

Utrecht is partnering with a local university to provide residents with a “basic income,” which is enough to cover living costs, The Independent reports. The idea is to see whether citizens dedicate more time to volunteering, studying and other forms of self and community improvement when they don’t have to worry about earning money to survive. People who participate in the experiment won’t have any restrictions placed on how they choose to spend the money they receive.

During the experiment, researchers and city officials will study the people who are offered a basic income as well as a control group who continues earning money in the traditional way. Utrecht officials hope to launch the experiment this summer and are in talks with other cities to expand the experiment to other locations as well.

[The Independent]

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