(Photo: Francois Walter) francois walter, best for ages 2-4, $.99, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad Rating: 3.5 stars Colorful animals become instruments in this musical app for toddlers. An animal fills the screen, inviting kids to reach out and touch. When they touch the green frog’s belly, they hear the sound of a drum. If they tap its legs, they hear maracas shake. Toddlers can scroll through five animals to learn about different instruments. With the bird, it’s a flute. The elephant produces double bass sounds, while the lion is roaring guitar and marimba sounds. The colorful fish emits xylophone sounds. What makes this app so much fun is that every part of the animal responds to your child’s touch. The eyes of the animal move, and it expresses positive emotion as kids tickle it. Best For: Toddlers to play with their parents. As kids explore the sounds by touching the animals, parents or siblings can help provide the musical context by explaining what instrument they are hearing. In “Musical Me!” by Duck Duck Moose, kids play five whimsical music games, including tapping on birds to have them tweet a song.
Bose intros SoundTouch WiFi music systems, makes home audio more like a car stereo
Even Daft Punk , who racked up 104,760,000 Spotify streams for “Get Lucky” by the end of August, won’t rake it in: they’ll make only around $13,000 each for those streams. “This is just one song from a lengthy recording that took a lot of time and money to develop,” Byrne writes. “That won’t pay their bills if it’s their principal source of income. What happens to the bands who don’t have massive international summer hits?” Artists will be out of work in a year if they rely almost solely on streaming revenue in the future, Byrne says, and not everyone can support themselves with big tours, die-hard fans and label support. “Up-and-coming artists don’t have that advantage,” Byrne writes. “Some haven’t got to the point where they can make a living on live performances and licensing, so what do they think of these services?” Though some artists see view Spotify as a positive and accessible way to spread their music and give listeners a risk-free way to listen, Byrne disagrees with their assessment, saying there are other paths of discovery like the artist’s website, sites like Bandcamp and even previews on Amazon. “I like what I hear, there is often the option to buy,” he says. He continues, “I also don’t understand the claim of discovery that Spotify makes; the actual moment of discovery in most cases happens at the moment when someone else tells you about an artist or you read about them not when you’re on the streaming service listening to what you have read about (though Spotify does indeed have a ‘discovery’ page that, like Pandora’s algorithm, suggests artists you might like).” Because labels have a controlling interest in Spotify, artists don’t necessarily stand to benefit from the growth of the service, Byrne writes. Spotify dished out more than $500 million to U.S. major labels for the rights to license their catalogues, with another payment to follow; the labels also received equity, becoming partners and shareholders in Spotify, which is estimated at $3 billion in value. “That income from equity, when and if the service goes public, does not have to be shared with the artists,” Bryne writes. “It seems obvious that some people are making a lot of money on this deal, while the artists have been left with meagre scraps.” Byrne ultimately doesn’t have a solution, though he does have a big concern regarding streaming as a main method of consuming creative content in general. “Perhaps we might stop for a moment and consider the effect these services and this technology will have, before ‘selling off’ all our cultural assets the way the big record companies did,” he writes. “Musicians might, for now, challenge the major labels and get a fairer deal than 15 percent of a pittance, but it seems to me that the whole model is unsustainable as a means of supporting creative work of any kind.
Now, music from the web or your stored collection can be played with lifelike clarity — by simply pressing a button. “SoundTouch Wi-Fi systems are unlike any home sound system available today,” said Phil Hess, vice president of Bose Home Entertainment. “They let you stream your favorite stations, playlists or artists in the easiest way imaginable, and they sound amazing. We believe SoundTouch systems will change music at home the way Bluetooth speakers changed music on-the-go.” SoundTouch Wi-Fi Systems: Performance for Any Room There’s a SoundTouch system for any room, and they all communicate wirelessly. Each connects directly to the Internet using your existing home Wi-Fi network; if you have Wi-Fi at home and a computer, you have all you need to stream your stored music, Internet radio or music services. Every SoundTouch system is designed to automatically receive software updates to add functionality and content. SoundTouch systems will first offer Pandora, and add the world’s most popular music services regularly, like Deezer, iHeartRadio and others. Three one-piece systems debut today, each engineered to deliver the best audio performance available from speakers of their size: The SoundTouch 30 Wi-Fi system measures approximately 10″H x 17″W x 7 “D. It features exclusive waveguide technology and a new proprietary woofer to deliver deep, rich sound and the power to serve as a home’s main music system. The SoundTouch 20 Wi-Fi system is more compact at about 7″H X 12″W and 4″D. It offers natural, room-filling sound and can be placed almost anywhere. The SoundTouch Portable Wi-Fi system combines full-range audio and a rechargeable, lithium-ion battery in a speaker no bigger than the average book — about 6″H x 10″W and less than 3″D. Take it with you in and around the home, and the music keeps playing.