TIME Web

Grooveshark Co-Founder Joshua Greenberg, 28, Found Dead at Florida Home

No cause of death could be determined, although Gainesville police said they had ruled out both foul play and suicide

Grooveshark co-founder Joshua Greenberg was found dead on July 19 at his home in Gainesville, Fla., according to a statement released by local police via Twitter.

The department wrote that there was “no evidence of foul play or suicide” in the death of the 28-year-old. The cause of death was not immediately known. Lori Greenberg, Joshua’s mother, told the Gainesville Sun that a medical examiner’s autopsy had offered no answers and full toxicology results will not be back for at least two months. “They are as baffled as I am,” she said.

It had been a difficult time for Greenberg: Grooveshark, which he started with classmates in 2007 as a streaming website based on users’ own uploaded files, shut down in April after a string of legal battles in which record companies alleged copyright infringement. The final blow came on May 1 when a court ordered Grooveshark parent company, Escape Media Group, to close the site permanently and pay $50 million to rights holders. Nevertheless, Lori told the Sun that her son had been relieved rather than depressed about the outcome and had moved on to other projects.

A letter authored by Greenberg and his co-founders posted on the site offered an apology for “very serious mistakes.” Despite the founders’ good intentions, it says, “we failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation.”

TIME Spotify

Spotify’s New Feature Will Help You Fight The Monday Blues

Spotify
Jonathan Nackstand—AFP/Getty Images This photo illustration shows a woman as she uses the iPhone application of Swedish music streaming service Spotify on March 7, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden.

Spotify launches Weekly Discover for a personalized playlist of music every week.

Spotify wants to help you beat the Monday morning blues with the launch of its new Discovery Weekly feature that provides you with a two-hour personalized playlist of music based on your tastes every week.

The the playlist will be available to the user every Monday morning, and will be based on the music they listen to as well as songs related to them. The feature is clearly an additional way for users to listen to tunes they love while also discovering new music. Spotify appears to have been quietly testing it since at least April.

“It’s like having your best friend make you a personalized mixtape every single week,” the company writes in a blog post announcing the new feature.

It’s also Spotify’s take on Pandora, the 15-year-old company that lets users listen to music similar to a song or artist, and Apple’s new music streaming service, whose predecessor, Beats, was known for its mood-based music recommendations. Over the past year, Spotify has acquired two companies, the Echo Nest and Seed Scientific, that focused on music analytics and using data for personalization and recommendations, and it’s been beefing up its teams working on these areas.

Spotify says that the more a user listens to it, the better it will get at crafting great playlists. It will also be available on any device, though Spotify recommends users save songs they discover and like before the following week’s mix shows up and presumably erases the previous one.

TIME Technology & Media

How Spotify Wants You to Avoid Apple’s Extra Fees

Spotify logo displayed on an iPhone.
Daniel Bockwoldt—picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images Spotify logo displayed on an iPhone.

Paying for Spotify through Apple actually costs extra bucks

Spotify wants to save you from paying extra charges to Apple.

Music streaming service Spotify’s ad-free paid tier costs $9.99 per month, but because Apple charges a 30% fee for purchases made through its App Store, customers end up paying $12.99 if they set the Spotify iOS app to auto-renew their monthly subscription.

Spotify is planning to email its customers to tell them how to fix this, The Verge reports.

To avoid that extra fee, Spotify customers first need to cancel their subscription through iTunes. Then, once their current subscription has lapsed (they may have to wait until the end of the month), they can sign up again, this time through Spotify’s web service.

While on first glance Spotify’s move seems like just a helpful gesture, it’s also a shot at Apple, which just launched its own music streaming service that competes with Spotify. Apple Music costs $9.99 a month after the free three-month trial period, without users having to worry about any extra fees.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Music

Apple Music: Here’s What the Reviewers Say

What works—and what doesn't

Apple Music, the company’s new music streaming service, launches Tuesday. Here are some of the reviews we’ve seen so far:

Walt Mossberg, re/code: Rich, Robust — But Confusing.“Would I pay $10 a month — $120 a year — to use it? My answer is a tentative yes, with some caveats. Apple has built a handsome, robust app and service that goes well beyond just offering a huge catalog of music by providing many ways to discover and group music for a very wide range of tastes and moods. But it’s also uncharacteristically complicated by Apple standards, with everything from a global terrestrial radio station to numerous suggested playlists for different purposes in different places. And the company offers very little guidance on how to navigate its many features. It will take time to learn it. And that’s not something you’re going to want to do if all you’re looking for is to lean back and listen.”

Harley Brown, Spin: What Works (and What Doesn’t). “The first thing that happens when Apple Music launches actually looks pretty familiar to anyone who used Beats Music: circles representing different genres (Indie, Electronic, Oldies, Alternative, etc.) float into view on the screen, and users tap or double-tap the ones they like and love, respectively. Once those categories have been nailed down, the artists in them — Tame Impala for Indie, Porter Robinson for Electronic, and B.B. King for Blues, to pick a smattering of options presented to me —and then, ideally, you’re done. For Apple Music’s intents and purposes, your musical identity has been established, at least until if/when you decide to change it later.”

Edward Baig, USA Today: Visually appealing with creative playlists. “Apple has high hopes for the Connect feature that connects artists to fans. The artists you follow may post extra music and videos, photos, in-progress song lyrics, info on tour dates and more. Having indicated an interest in classical music, I found myself connected to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra where conductor Sir Simon Rattle in a video discussed streaming classical music. For all its promise, the Connect area seems pretty thin at the outset.”

Christina Warren, Mashable: It’s all about curation, curation, curation. “Much of the Apple Music experience really is Beats Music. And this is a good thing. I always thought Beats had the best discovery mechanism of the streaming services. With live radio, human curated playlists and access to your iTunes purchase history, I’m really liking Apple Music. Will it replace Spotify for diehard subscribers? That’s a more complicated question — and one I plan to address in Mashable‘s full review. For now, however, the For Me section alone has made me excited about music for the first time in a long time. And that’s a good thing.”

More as they come in.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Media

Google Launches Free Music Streaming Service

But it's more like Pandora than Spotify

Amidst all the hubbub about Apple Music and Taylor Swift, Google wants you to remember that it has a music streaming service of its own. And soon, users will be able to access it for free.

The search giant announced Tuesday that it’s introducing a free version of Google Play Music that allows users to listen to custom-made radio stations based on time of day, mood, artist or other factors. The new stations will be built in part by the staff of Songza, the contextual music streaming service that Google bought last year.

Unlike with Spotify or the paid version of Google Play Music, users of the free, ad-supported Google service won’t be able to play songs on-demand. They’ll also only be able to skip a limited number of songs, like on Pandora, though Google hasn’t specified how many skips per hour people will be allowed.

The free version of Google Play Music will be available on the web Tuesday and on iOS and Android devices later this week.

TIME Spotify

Spotify Is Adding 1 New Subscriber Every 3 Seconds

It's getting ready to take on Apple's new streaming service

Why did music streaming service Spotify just raise $526 million in new funding? Because it now has 20 million users paying a monthly fee to avoid ads.

The Swedish company confirmed the long-rumored funding round on Wednesday. It also unveiled some new user numbers. The company now has 75 million active users, 20 million of whom pay for the ad-free Premium version of its service.

Spotify added half of those 20 million paying users in the past year. That’s one new subscriber every three seconds, as Spotify points out.

Spotify also says it’s paid out more $3 billion in royalties to artists; $300 million of that came in the first three months of 2015 alone. The fairness of royalties Spotify (and other music services) pay music artists has been called into question repeatedly. Tidal, a subscriber-only service headed by rapped Jay-Z, claims to provide a fairer alternative.

On Monday, Apple threw down the gauntlet when it finally presented its long-rumored Spotify competitor, Apple Music.

TIME Media

There’s Finally a Cheaper Alternative to Spotify

Rdio Select will let you listen to a small number of songs on-demand every day

For years, $9.99 has been the standard price for ad-free, on-demand music streaming services like Spotify and Beats Music. But now it looks like companies are finally experimenting with new business models.

Rdio, a small but longstanding player in music streaming, announced Thursday a stripped-down version of its subscription service that costs just $3.99 per month. The new service, called Rdio Select, will allow users to select up to 25 songs per day out of Rdio’s library to listen to on demand as often as they like online or offline.

Users can also listen to ad-free streaming radio stations and skip past tracks on these stations whenever they want. The service will also feature curated playlists to help users find new songs to place in their rotating selection of 25 on-demand tunes.

Rdio Select is an interesting compromise between the free, ad-supported streaming tiers that struggle to make money for artists or the companies that run them and the $10-per-month plans that have so far appealed to only a small sliver of the music-listening public (Rdio still offers services in both those categories). The company points out that its new service costs less than $50 per year, which is around the price that the average music buyer spends on recorded music each year. Services like Spotify, Beats Music, and Rdio’s high-end tier are asking users to spend $120 per month on songs, more than double the consumer average.

Rdio isn’t the first company to try the straddle the line between a free service and full-on premium subscription. Rhapsody last year unveiled its unRadio service, which also allows users to listen to radio ad-free and download a select number of songs for $4.99 per month.

TIME Web

The 5 Best Music Streaming Services

woman-listening-music-smartphone
Getty Images

Spotify isn't your only option

Correction appended, May 15

Owning a library of music on physical media is rapidly becoming an anachronism. Physical album sales have been plummeting since we first plugged our earbuds into iPods, and digital downloads are now on the decline, too.

Instead, Americans are streaming their music online via a growing crop of music services that offer infinite choices for listening to and discovering new music.

Pioneer streaming services Pandora and Spotify remain the heavyweights of the industry with 80 million and 60 million listeners respectively. But internet radio services such as Slacker have gained traction thanks to their music discovery features, while curated streaming sites such as Songza offer what may be the killer app of streaming 2.0: songs and channels hand-picked by humans and based on themes and moods.

On the flip side is YouTube, the top destination for music streaming with over 1 billion unique monthly users. YouTube is great for hunting down that super obscure B-side song with the banned video, but it pales in comparison to other services when it comes to playlists and music discovery.

So what should you look for in a streaming service? We dug into the Internet to find the best music streaming services based on these factors:

Song library Most of the major streaming services clock in with similarly sized song catalogs — 20 million or more, covering a good range of genres, hits and rarities.

How can you find new music? A radio feature that lets you build customized channels based on songs or genres you like is handy for discovering new music, as are playlists curated by real people, whose skills outstrip machine algorithms in building particular vibes or themes.

Offline access If you can’t get online, you may still want to be able to access your music library.

Sound quality A 320 kbps bitrate offers excellent sound quality for most listeners when played from a computer on speakers. Audiophiles may prefer higher bitrates.

Best Curated Music: Songza

The killer feature of this music recommendation site is its human-curated playlists based on mood, activity, genre, era and “situations” from breaking up to waking up and themes as specific as barbecues or pregame. In fact, Songza’s strictly about its playlists; you can’t search for particular songs or artists, although you can browse from a mind-boggling selection of soundtracks and musical vibes.

Songza Daily’s Tumblr-esque design showcases the editors’ playlists of the day, quirkily titled (“The ultimate songs from Piscean musicians”) or chosen for timeliness (“The best original songs from the Oscars 2015”). You’ll also find clips of interviews and single songs interspersed with retro photos.

You can star favorite playlists or click through to similar playlists. Rating particular songs with a thumbs up or thumbs down improves its Concierge feature, which recommends particular songs and styles based on time of day and your liked and disliked songs. Our personal favorite that just kept giving? “Your Personal Indie Rom-Com,” which ran through dozens of grungy, riff-laden, highly nostalgic hits.

Sound quality: 256 kbps — very good quality on desktop and mobile

How can you find new music? Pick your mood, activity, genre or era, and Songza suggests the rest.

Is it available offline? No

You’ll love: The curated playlists and soundtracks for times and moods as particular as “Kitchen Dance Party.”

But: There’s no search function to find particular tracks or artists, nor the ability to build your own playlists. You’ll have to trust that the humans behind this digital music service will post songs that will suit your day.

Can you listen to it on your phone? Yes: Android, iOS, BlackBerry 10, Windows 9

Price: Free with ads and max of six song skips per week; $0.99 per week ad-free, 12 song skips per week

Site: songza.com

Best Radio: Slacker

There’s no shortage of internet radio with stations personalized around your personal music tastes, but Slacker is our favorite for its minimal, discovery-centric home page. Hit the search box with an artist, song, genre or activity; entering “writing” (while writing this article, self-referentially enough) turned up an eponymous song by Woody Allen as well as an eclectic selection of stations including an ambient electronic station called Mensa Mix and Going Steady, a collection of love songs.

Like Songza, Slacker’s channels are curated by real people with a goal, as the site says, of forging those unexpected connections between songs that are the foundation of great radio. We love Slacker’s non-music channels, including live radio, news, sports and weather.

Sound quality: 320 kbps on web and Sonos, 128 kbps on mobile with 320 on the way

How can you find new music? Create radio stations from familiar artists, or browse 200+ stations of pop, rock, electronic and more.

Is it available offline? Yes, paying subscribers can download songs, stations or playlists.

You’ll love: Being able to stream particular artists and songs on demand and listen to curated stations, news and sports.

But: Finding songs by activity, such as working or cooking, didn’t always turn up soundtracks as pleasing as those Songza provided.

Can you listen to it on your phone? Yes: Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows

Price: Free version with ads and max of six song skips per hour; $3.99 for ad-free and unlimited skips; $9.99 for offline playlists, on-demand streaming and the ability to create radio stations based on artists

Site: slacker.com

Best All-Rounder: Spotify

The juggernaut of music streaming counts personalized radio, on-demand music, people-curated playlists and a social feed among its feature set. Of all the services, Spotify probably apes the sensation of using your own music collection the best. You can easily save artists or albums to your library from a one-click Save tab, while Spotify’s clean, comprehensive interface always shows your playlists for easy scrolling. Drag and drop songs to create playlists, or browse and save other user-created playlists.

If you’re stuck for listening inspiration, Spotify updates its home page daily with human-curated playlists for various moods such as “Weekend Hangout” or driving-friendly tunes.

With a song catalog clocking in at over 30 million and licensing deals in dozens of countries, Spotify covers an excellent range of independent artists and electronic music as well as major pop and rock stars. Its catalog includes an exclusive for Metallica, although a few other major artists have removed their music from the service in high-profile fallouts over royalties.

If you’re the proud owner of a large digital music collection, Spotify supports uploads of up to 10,000 of your tracks into your Spotify library.

Sound quality: 96 kbps — standard quality for mobile; 160 kbps — standard quality on desktop; 320 kbps for premium subscribers — high quality on desktop

How can you find new music? Create a radio station based on an artist or song, or browse the curated playlists.

Is it available offline? Only for premium subscribers

You’ll love: Saving artists by playlists, which means you can browse your collection much as you would a library you owned.

But: Notable omissions from its catalog include Taylor Swift, The xx and Radiohead’s post-2011 albums.

Can you listen to it on your phone? Only premium subscribers: Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows

Price: Free for ad-supported version; $9.99 for premium version with offline playlists and smartphone listening

Site: spotify.com

Best Online Music Locker: Google Play Music

If you’re as attached to your digital music collection as you are to the infinite amount you could store in the cloud, a streaming service that offers online backup for the tunes on your hard drive could be your best bet.

Once you upload your tracks to Google Play Music, they’re accessible on any device from anywhere in the world — a neat way to bring your music collection wherever you are without having to fuss around with USB sticks.

Like Spotify, Google’s 30-million-track catalog covers a great range of rarities and hits, including artists who’ve snubbed Spotify such as Thom Yorke’s band Atoms for Peace. If you can’t decide what to listen to, the service offers a Concierge feature (like Songza, which Google purchased last year), where Google’s algorithms try to predict what tracks constitute, say, a “Chardonnay soiree.” As seems de rigeur for any self-respecting on-demand music service, there’s also a radio customizable by artist and your own taste.

Along with this lineup of Spotify-esque powers, Google Play Music currently offers one final arrow in its bow. Signing up now gives access to the invite-only beta of YouTube Music Key, a paid add-on that lets you stream music ad-free from YouTube’s gargantuan collection of classic tracks, rare mixes, hit singles, bootlegs and other unofficial takes. (Nonsubscribers can sign up for a YouTube Music Key invitation at YouTube).

Sound quality: 320 kbps — excellent sound quality on desktop and mobile

How can you find new music? Try the Concierge recommendation feature or the customizable radio.

Is it available offline? Yes

You’ll love: The ability to upload 20,000 tracks you can access anywhere, along with your streaming library.

But: There are no social features, so it’s not as easy to share music with friends or followers.

Can you listen to it on your phone? Yes: Android, iOS

Price: $9.99 per month (no free option)

Site: play.google.com

Best Sound Quality: Tidal

If you’re a serious music listener with the speakers to match, this celebrity-owned service launched by Jay-Z could be the high-fidelity streaming service you’ve been searching for.

Along with streaming music at a CD-quality, loss-less 1,411 kbps—all the better to hear the shades of percussion and detail of the high notes—Tidal claims it will have first dibs on music videos from stars like Rihanna and Beyonce.

The service also offers on-demand access to 25 million tracks, playlists curated by music journos and 75,000 music videos. It’s all accessed via a Spotify-esque web-based player, allowing similar playlist creation and the ability to build your own music library by starring artists and albums you like.

While Tidal hasn’t received the warmest reception, audiophiles with high-end speakers may find it compelling enough to offset the cost, double that of Spotify.

After all, when Neil Young launched high-fidelity streaming service Pono last year, uptake was low, and the service still only has 2 million tracks — peanuts in today’s crop of streaming services. But as ultra-fast internet begins to creep across the United States, funneling super-high-bandwidth music down the fibers just might become a more popular — and affordable — business model.

Sound quality: 1,141 kbps for $19.99 per month — extremely high quality; 320 kbps for $9.99 per month — very good quality on desktop and mobile

How can you find new music? Browse the playlists and recommendations curated by its panel of music experts.

Is it available offline? Yes

You’ll love: The high-fidelity, CD-quality sound or exclusive content such as music videos from pop stars (even if thus far, they’ve been promptly pirated and posted on YouTube).

But: For the average customer, Tidal’s uber-high sound quality may not be worth its price, especially compared with similar competitors.

Can you listen to it on your phone? Yes: Android, iOS

Price: $9.99 per month for 320 kbps; $19.99 per month for CD quality

Site: tidal.com

Streaming Music Services Compared

Songza Slacker Spotify Google Play Music Tidal
Song catalog 20 million 13 million 30 million 30 million 25 million
Radio? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Playlist creation? No Yes, for Premium users Yes Yes Yes
Offline listening? No Yes, unlimited tracks Yes, for Premium subscribers: 10,000 tracks Yes Yes, unlimited tracks
Sound Quality 256 kpbs 320 kpbs 320 kpbs 320 kpbs 1411 kpbs
Platforms Android, iOS, BlackBerry 10, Windows, desktop Android, iOS, Windows, desktop Android, iOS, BlackBerry 10, desktop Android, iOS, desktop Android, iOS, desktop
Price Free with ads; $0.99/week ad-free Free with ads; $3.99/month ad-free; $9.99/month for Premium with offline listening options Free with ads; $9.99/month ad-free $9.99/month $9.99/month for 320kpbs; $19.99/month for CD-quality

This article originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

Correction: A previous version of this post misstated Slacker users’ ability to create playlists. Premium users can create them.

TIME Technology & Media

Music Streaming Website Grooveshark Shuts Down

The music stops for the pioneering website

The online streaming website Grooveshark lost its battle with the music industry on Thursday, shutting down immediately as part of a settlement agreement.

The company was been being sued by a slew of record companies, including a $15 billion suit from Universal Music Group.

According a notice posted on the company’s website, they must also wipe clean any records of copyrighted material, hand over their online and mobile platforms, and surrender their patents and intellectual property.

Grooveshark also issued an unequivocal apology.

“Despite our best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation.”

A March 25 ruling by a U.S. Federal Judge granted EMI Music North America a motion for summary judgement on claims Grooveshark had violated its copyrights, a decision that could have found the web company liable to pay upwards of $420 million.

Grooveshark was founded in 2006 by three college students at the University of Florida and for years has been a thorn in the side of major record labels who claimed the website was illegal.

MONEY

Your Digital Music Purchases Have Hit a Milestone

Last year, digital music sales matched physical platforms like CDs and vinyl for the first time.

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