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Posted inNews

More than 40m Apple Music listeners have tried spatial audio

The launch of Apple’s iOS 15 software this week has brought with it some new features for Apple Music, including ‘dynamic headtracking’.

What’s that? A feature that reorients Apple’s spatial audio around the movements of the listener’s head, if they’re using the company’s AirPods Pro and AirPods Max ‘phones.

More than 40 million Apple Music listeners have already tried spatial audio on the service, with Apple having promoted the feature to them energetically since its launch earlier this year.

Posted inNews

Apple and Amazon ignite hi-res music streaming battle

The code leaks this weekend may have spoiled the surprise, but Apple Music is bringing higher quality music to its streaming service. But rather than charge extra for an ‘HD’ or ‘HiFi’ tier as rivals have done, Apple Music’s lossless audio feature will be available to all of its subscribers from June – for no added cost.

Reaction from one of those rivals, Amazon Music, was instant. The company announced that from now on, its Amazon Music HD tier will be available to its standard Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers, also at no extra cost. Current HD subscribers will pay the price of a regular subscription too.

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Amazon Music HD adds ‘thousands’ of tracks from UMG and WMG

We should clarify this headline quickly: Amazon Music HD already has many more tracks from Universal Music and Warner Music.

The news is that Amazon is working with the two labels to remaster thousands of tracks in ‘Ultra High Definition’ for its hi-res streaming service.

Amazon’s definition of Ultra HD is tracks with a bit depth of 24 bits and a sample rate of up to 192kHz, and it has more than 5m of them already. However, the bulk of Amazon Music HD’s catalogue is its 60m-plus ‘High Definition’ tracks – 16 bits / 44.1kHz.

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Hi-res streaming service Qobuz raises €10m funding round

Qobuz is the hi-res music streaming service founded in France, which has expanded to 12 countries so far. Now it has a new funding round to fuel further growth.

The company has raised €10m ($11.7m) from existing investors Nabuboto (the holding company of CEO Denis Thébaud’s company The Thébaud Group) and Canadian telco and media corporation Quebecor Group.

Qobuz said that its revenues grew by more than 45% in its last financial year, and that it is “now pursuing a major development plan… setting up a new management team and launching a recruitment plan that is unprecedented in the company’s history”.

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Amazon Music gets Latin music hub and exclusive Neil Young EP

Amazon Music is the latest streaming service to make a concerted push around music from Latin America, with its new ‘Amazon Music Lat!n’ hub. It will offer a mix of Latin playlists, original/exclusive tracks, interview and mini-documentary videos with artists, and podcasts.

There’s also a program called ‘Rompe’ to promote emerging artists in the US, Latin America and Spain; and a content brand called ‘Raices’ which will spotlight established artists – starting with Marc Anthony.

Amazon has also rebranded its ‘Fuego Latino’ playlist as ‘Platino’ for a new global push, with separate playlist brands for new tracks (‘Hoy’), classics (‘Clasicos’ and hits (er, ‘Hits’).

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Jazz Re:Fest to stream with MQA and Bluesound partnership

Another festival forced to switch from offline to online this year is Jazz Re:Fest in the UK. Its 2020 version will be held on 23 August, with four hours of performances streamed from a two-stage set in The Mill studios.

That way, artists will be able to perform their 30-minute sets while the other stage is being sanitised and prepared for the next act.

The event will be streamed on the YouTube channel of its parent organisation Jazz Re:Freshed, but there’s also a partnership with hi-res music firm MQA and Bluesound.

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Dolby and Avid get into the music distribution game

Digital music distribution is still a standalone business: either as an independent company or within the umbrella of a major label.

But distribution is also a feature for a growing number of technology companies: whether they start with music-creation, analytics, mastering or other tools for artists, adding the option to get music onto streaming services and download stores is increasingly the next step.

The latest example is called AvidPlay, and it’s been launched by Avid and Dolby. “Release your music on 150+ major streaming outlets around the world,” is the promise. “AvidPlay makes music distribution easy… get discovered, grow your fanbase, and keep 100% of your rights and earnings with no hidden fees.”