Tag Archives: iTunes

JayZ! What’s Up With Tidal?

Tidal, JayZ’s music streaming service, is still going through some changes. Some say its going out of business. Others say it’s on solid ground and growing. It’s all about who you believe. But any way you look at it, things are happening.

The most recent announcement from Tidal is that it is launching apps for Apple and Android streaming television. Subscribers to Tidal will now be able to stream not only  Tidal’s entire library of music but also video content like concerts, livestreams, and music videos directly on their TVs. 

The new apps are just the latest moves by Tidal.  Tidal recently added support for Apple’s CarPlay along with integration with Sonos speakers. The move is seen as a way for Tidal to reach listeners on AppleTV which doesn’t have a Spotify app.

The Tidal TV app is currently available on iTunes and Google Play.

But there is more to this story. Can Tidal even survive? Music streaming is a brutal business. JayZ knew this when he got in the game. His edge was to pay artists more for their work than other music streaming services and include them as part owners. Good idea. But is it working?

News reports are surfacing that Tidal is facing both money and subscriber growth issues. According to Norway’s Dagens Næringsliv (DN) Tidal is losing money to the tune of  $44 million dollars before taxes in 2016. The report also said that Tidal is down to just six months of operating capital. Most recently Tidal picked up a nice chunk of change from Sprint who purchased a 33 percent stake for $200 million.  The deal included a reported $75 million fund for exclusive content. Was that enough to keep Tidal afloat? According to JayZ’s business partner Juan Perez the money gave Tidal “sufficient working capital for the next 12-18 months.” 

A spokesperson for Tidal told Endgadget, “We have experienced negative stories about Tidal since its inception and we have done nothing but grow the business each year.” The company claims it will achieve profitability in middle of this year.

But Jay-Z’s report of Tidal’s subscribers is in dispute. In September 2015, Jay-Z tweeted that Tidal had over 1 million subscribers. But DN reported internal records of payments to record labels showed that number to be closer to 350,000. Six months later JayZ claimed it had reached the 3 million subscribers. Some say the number was actually 850,000. Internally Tidal claims about 1.2 million subscribers but has kept quiet about the numbers every since. 

But whatever the numbers are they lag way behind the really big boys of music streaming like  Spotify which, as of July of last year, claimed more than 60 million subscribers and Apple Music with 30 million subscribers.

One final note, JayZ’s boy, Kanye West, might want to pay attention since he considering a move into music streaming. There are lessons to be learned here.

Breaking It Down.

Tidal is in trouble. JayZ has the right idea to pay artists more and offering them ownership in Tidal. But JayZ has to do two things. First he needs to get real and come clean about the subscriber situation and the money situation. Get that out there. Then he needs to take a step back and focus on building audience. He has the content and he and his wife can reach millions of people. Focus on bringing the upcoming generation to his Tidal service. Bring new artist up. I know he has the connections with the top artists in the industry. But can he find the next big star? The new names. JayZ needs to take hip-hop and pop music forward a step or two. Forget competing with Apple or Spotify. Forget whats happening now. Work on what going to happen next. Someone found JayZ on a street corner in New York. He needs to go back to that same corner and see who took his place. Focus on a smaller segment of the market. Become a more exclusive service for the new generations. Bring in new names and subscribers will come running. Tidal is small. Stay that way until you get big.

 

Cryptocurrency – What’s It All About?

What is cryptocurrency? Or you may call it Bitcoin. Where does it come from? How does it work? Is it real money? In case you haven’t heard we are in the midst of a monetary revolution. Many people are raving about Bitcoin. Some say it’s the money of the future. Others are saying it’s a scam or worse. So what’s it all about?

First of all lets clear up the definition. Bitcoin is cryptocurrency but not all cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. As a matter of fact there are as many as 1,000 different brands of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is just the most valuable.

What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a digital form of currency that is different from real money. Money or currency is produced by banks and nations who create the money’s value based economic strength. This money is managed through a central banking system of that nation.

How is cryptocurrency different?

Transactions of traditional money are controlled, taxed and tracked by banks and nations.  Cryptocurrency transactions are made with no banks or governmental interference.  Some economist and investors like to say that transactions are frictionless. Cryptocurrency users are anonymous . So essentially cryptocurrency is stateless money with no banks and the users are completely unknown. That is until they change Bitcoin into real cash. 

Where did cryptocurrency come from?

Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor, created Bitcoin in 2009. He has never been seen. No one even knows who or where he is. He may not even be a single person but a group of programmers. No one really knows. So cryptocurrency’s origin is a mystery. However, some believe that the National Security Agency has identified him. As usual the NSA has declined comment.

How is it created?

Cryptocurrency is created or “mined” using computers to solve incredibly complex math problems. Performing this work eats up a lot of electricity. So much electricity that you could never make a profit with the average computer. Cryptocurrency “miners,” as they are called, have begun building their own computers or hijacking other people’s computers to create Bitcoins. This has become known as Cryptojacking.

Mining a Bitcoin is not easy or cheap. Bitcoin’s value is about $6,000. How many Bitcoins would you have to produce to deal with a monthly $6,000 electricity bill and still make a profit? 

After a computer solves a series of problems it becomes known as a block. The blocks is then verified by other users and, once confirmed, are added to what is called the blockchain. The blockchain grows rapidly with a new block being added about every 10 minutes. A blockchain is a record of the Bitcoins created. It also records Bitcoin transactions that can never be changed. The blockchain never ends and is not hosted in single location making it immune to hackers.

How do you store or spend Bitcoins?

Bitcoin transactions move between users like email. Each transaction is digitally signed using cryptography and goes to the entire Bitcoin network for verification. These transactions are open to the public and can be found on the blockchain. All Bitcoin transaction leads back to the point where the Bitcoins were first mined.

Bitcoins are kept in a bitcoin wallet or the digital equivalent of a bank account. You can download the Bitcoin wallet from the Google Play store or iTunes. Your wallet allows you to send, receive and store Bitcoins. 

To complete a Bitcoin transaction you need two things; a public encryption key and a private encryption key.

Public keys or Bitcoin addresses, are random sequences of letters and numbers that work the same as an email address or username. Public keys are safe to share. You must give your Bitcoin address to receive Bitcoin. The private key must keep secret. This private key allows you to spend the Bitcoin.

Is Bitcoin real money?

Well, that is where Bitcoin may run into problems. First of all Bitcoin must meet the current standard of what money is. There are four basic standards for money.

ScarcityThere can be a only a limited amount available to secure its value. There can only be 21 million Bitcoins in the world. Right now there are about 9 million Bitcoins. Once it reaches 21 million no more Bitcoins can be mined.

Durability It must stand up to constant handling with no maintenance or special treatment. Bitcoin is completely digital and is never actually touched but human hands. However, Bitcoin is vulnerable. User error can cause the loss or destruction of Bitcoins. Users have lost or forgotten their private key making access to the currency impossible. Recently a a single user error caused the destruction of over $300 million worth of Bitcoin. So durability is an issue as well as security.

FungibilityIs every Bitcoin worth the same.  Let me make this simple for you. According to CoinMarketCap.com there are 1,037 different cryptocurrencies available. So not every one is worth the $6,000 I spoke about earlier. 

PortabilityCryptocurrency can be carried anywhere you carry your smartphone just like cash. So it is portable.

Breaking It Down.

Cryptocurrency is growing in acceptance but is not yet considered a viable currency. Its value is unstable and it is considered  an unacceptable risk by most financial experts and the coin of the future by others. In addition, governments are now examining the cryptocurrency phenomenon. Its anonymity makes it useful for crimes such as drug dealing, terrorism, money laundering and tax dodging. So the future right now depends on the view world governments take. A single law or crime could bring the whole thing to a halt or change the very definition of cryptocurrency.

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Prince

Prince was one of the greatest and most prolific artist of our time. According to some sources the Great Purple One has enough unpublished music to release albums for the next one hundred years.

Prince reportedly has a vault that contains songs, albums and even movies that have never been seen by the public. According to Prince’s sound engineer  David “David Z” Rivkin, “We used to do two songs a day, and he just put them away,” he said. “Maybe he instructed his lawyers to never release them. I hope that’s not the case. I’d like to see some of them come out, a lot of them were pretty great.”

The existence of Prince’s hidden treasure was confirmed by Mobeen Azhar an investigative reporter and filmmaker. Azhar produced a documentary last year entitled  “Hunting for Prince’s Vault.”

Azhar was able to confirm that Prince had produced some powerful music. So powerful that he did not think the public was ready for it.  Among the mysterious recordings is an album by the name of “The Dream Factory.” According to Azhar Prince reportedly felt another song, “The Divine,” had harmonies so intense that “people weren’t ready to hear this song yet.”

But Prince was not just recording his new music. Prince also recorded every concert he ever performed.

As we have written Prince has been reborn in online music streaming. A platform he was never really pleased with and even banned his music from being played there. But on the anniversary of his death a new Prince album is being released online.

Entitled “Deliverance” the six-song album offers music recorded between 2006 and 2008. The title track is currently available on iTunes and Apple Music. Fans can see a short video and hear what is described as Prince’s “unheard spiritual voice.”  According to PrinceRogersNelson.com  the album is only available in the U.S.

Celebrity Cyber Report – Beyonce

beyonce-lemonade-stream-1It’s always big news when Beyonce is involved. The mega star and wife of Jay-Z released her new album, Lemonade, originally thought to be exclusively on Tidal. That didn’t last long.

Lemonade hit the Internet minutes after Beyonce’s HBO special of the same name  aired.  It’s her sixth studio album and first since 2013’s celebrated, Beyonce. Exclusive streaming releases are normally a week long venture for most artists.  The question was; does Tidal have the power to sell her album to her millions of fans?  Let’s not forget that she and hubby own the lion’s share of Tidal. She also had the option of selling it on Beyonce.com or on Tidal’s direct competitor, iTunes.

Well now it seems that the exclusive sales of Lemonade on Tidal is open to all not just Tidal subscribers. Tidal announced the record and the HBO film are now available for download worldwide for $17.99. Those who pick up the album also get 90 days of free streaming from Tidal.  This deal should appeal to Beyonce fans who are understandably hesitant about signing up for Tidal.

However,  according to a  New York Times reports  the album quickly became available on iTunes just 24 hours later. Tidal’s exclusive rights quickly expired but only for the sale of the album. Tidal is still the only place to stream the album. So, back to that question, is Tidal powerful enough to distribute the music of Beyonce exclusively? It does not seem so and Beyonce knows it.

Lets face it; Beyonce is as much a businesswoman as a performer. Tidal’s brief exclusive deal is a direct reflection of the complex, fragmented, tumultuous and generally disliked digital music business.   Beyonce’s power and presence in the music industry is the guide for many in the business. Her decision to offer the release to Tidal makes it possible to satisfy her business interests there and then quickly expand her reach to other fans in the market. It was delicate balancing act but she pulled it off beautifully.

Things are not so smooth at Tidal nor have they ever been. Since Jay-Z acquired the service it has seen numerous departures of top executives, bad business decisions and even lawsuits.  Right now Kanye West, one of Tidal’s biggest stars, is facing a class action lawsuit. A fan launched the suit claiming that a Kanye  tweet deceived millions into buying subscriptions to Tidal.

The rapper and part owner of Tidal tweeted “My album will never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale … You can only get it on Tidal.” The announcement doubled subscriptions to Tidal. But it appears West flipped the script and “The Life Of Pablo” became available on Spotify and Apple Music.

According to the lawsuit West’s tweet tricked millions of users into signing up for Tidal. By signing up for the service users surrendered important personal information including email addresses and credit card details. In addition others paid the $9.99 per month subscription fee to access the album. The lawsuit charges that Tidal unfairly benefited to the tune of  $84 million dollars as a result of the deceptive tweet.

Celebrity Cyber Report – It was Prince vs. The Internet

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Prince Rogers Nelson, June 7th 1958-     April 21st, 2016

Prince Rogers Nelson departed our realm on April 21st, 2016. Departed, yes. Dead, never! We lost something more than an artist. We lost the sound, the theme song, of a generation. He was a relentless artist and warrior for freedom of expression, his expression, which so many embraced but could never copy. Prince was unlike any other and to him I say; “Nothing Compares 2 U!”

But the Prince we loved enjoyed was not one we knew very well. That was his choice and his right. Prince was a business man and he understood the music industry and he hated it.

Prince fought an epic battle with his recording company whom he labeled “slave masters.” His anger was so deep that he wrote the word “Slave” on his face and refused to use the name Prince. He became simply, “The Artist.”

And along came the Internet and the fight was on! Prince did not go to war with Warner Bros., and win, to become a slave to the Internet. It was his music, he owned it and he was not about to give it away to anybody.

“I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else,”  said Prince. “They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.”

When it came to his music and the Internet Prince was all business. He once sued 22 fans for $22 million dollars for sharing his music and recordings of his live performances online. The Purple One was not playing around.

Prince’s aggressiveness and penchant for take-down notices earned him a “Lifetime Aggrievement Award” from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for his efforts in “silencing speech.”

But Prince was not the enemy of free speech or technology. Instead he was the protector of his name, his music and his legal ownership of it. He, like many musicians, felt the technology, the Internet in particular, was robbing them of their rightful income and royalties for the music they created. It was the reason that rap mogul Jay-Z founded Tidal music streaming service. Jay-Z re-launched Tidal this year and offers artists a greater slice of the pie for the use of their music. Tidal is only music streaming service that can offer Prince’s music legally.  Prince praised Jay Z for creating Tidal, telling a group of journalists, “We have to show support for artists who are trying to own things for themselves.”

In a 2010 interview Prince boldly declared “the Internet is over!”  But that does not mean he was against technology. His relationship with technology was misunderstood. Prince embraced digital distribution.

Prince set recording industry precedent in 1994 by releasing Interactive, a CD-ROM that contained unreleased music, interviews, a video game, and a virtual tour.  In 1997, Prince released Crystal Ball, a five-CD box set of outtakes and rare cuts exclusively through a website or by calling 1-800-NEW-FUNK. In 2001 Prince unveiled NPG Music Club, a monthly subscription service by which fans could get exclusive Prince content. NPG won Prince a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

Prince was about his music. Many people believed he hated the Internet. That is not completely true. What he hated was the fact that his work, his artistry, was being stolen and the Internet was the tool used to do it. Prince went after bootleggers,  bloggers, YouTube and anyone who dared to use his artwork without fair compensation. It was not a war against technology. It was about getting paid fairly. And he was not alone. There are hundreds of other artists who feel the same and are still fighting to keep their work under their control.

Prince was great beyond music. He understood what technology was doing to musicians and he fought like hell to change things. For himself he won the battle. But the war wages on.

See also – Celebrity Cyber Report, Prince

Celebrity Cyber Report – Kendrick Lamar

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Untitled Unmastered

Surprise! Kendrick Lamar’s just released his follow up to the runaway hit album “To Pimp a Butterfly” entitled “Untitled Unmastered. The new release is available now on Apple Music iTunesSpotifyand Tidal. By now I mean you’re already late! 

Spotify music streaming service leaked  the word about the rapper’s record earlier today with details like its track listing and album art.  Jay-Z’s Tidal service  jumped in the game by tweeting the album’s solid green cover, the first official acknowledgement that Kendrick’s next record had dropped.

Lamar has called the new record a “project” rather than an album. Cuts on the new “project” contain recordings originally made in 2013 and 2014 in preparation for “To Pimp A Butterfly”. Untitled Unmastered is an cryptic eight-song release that features the word “untitled” alongside a series of dates and nothing else. 

Lamar cleaned up at the Grammy’s with five awards last month. To further cement his presence on the music scene he put down a legendary performance of “The Blacker The Berry” and “Alright”at the awards show .  No question Lamar is the new cutting edge of modern hip-hop. 

Protecting Your New Smartphone and Yourself

canstockphoto20668245Christmas is over and you got a new smartphone from Santa. This little device can become a vital part of your life. Today’s smartphones can hold vast amounts of data including credit card data and personal information. Protecting your phone means protecting yourself.

As you get to know your new gadget you need to learn when it is misbehaving. There are definitely signs when something is wrong and you need to spot them early. For example any app you download could be a hiding place for malware. Opening an attachment or visiting the wrong website could result in downloading an app that attacks your smartphone and even take control of it.

You should be especially cautious if you have a Android device. According to Forbes.com 97 percent of mobile malware is on Android. Much of the malware comes from unregulated apps. So stick to the Google PlayStore if you are smart. 

But if you have an Apple iPhone or other smartphone better be alert because they are not immune by any means.

According to Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive Security Labs more than 16 million mobile devices were hit by malware last yearZDNet  also reported an increase of 25 percent over 2013 infection. 

So how can you tell if you new smartphone is compromised or infected with malware? Here are the clues.

  1. Strange behavior – One of the first clues that something is wrong is that the phone or apps begin to act strangely.  You phone or the apps may cease working or the phone may crash.  This could indicate that some malicious code on your device is interfering with its normal operation. Sometimes an app may appear suddenly and without you doing anything. This could come from a suspect website. Make sure you know what apps are installed on your phone so you can quickly identify the intruder. Whenever you install an app make sure you carefully examine what permissions the app wants. An app that asks for administrators privileges can be difficult or impossible to uninstall. Use caution and delete any app you do not use. Deny any app that asks you to install it if you don’t know what it is or where it came from.
  2. Mysterious  calls or messages – Get in the habit of checking your call and message history regularly. Malware infections will try to make calls or send messages to expensive international numbers. If this happens you will get the bill and its hard to argue your way out of paying.
  3. Data hogging – Malicious apps will use up your allotted data to communicate with computers operated by cyber criminals. These cyber criminals are sending orders and updates to the malware. And the malware is sending stolen information back to the cybercriminals. Make sure you watch your data usage. If something is eating your data you need to act.
  4. Strange messages – Many cyber criminals use text messages to control malware. These messages can be interpreted by the malware to carry out tasks on your device. Sometimes the malware  is programmed to manipulate message logs to delete the message before you get suspicious. But some crooks don’t bother to program in this function resulting in strange messages appearing in your history. If your friend’s phone is infected you may see a strange message from them and vice versa. Be alert to strange text messages that don’t make sense or are completely unintelligible. Be alert if you get a strange message from a contact. This could mean they have become infected and it could spread to your phone. Be a friend and let them know.
  5. Watch your billExcessive text messages or data usage could cost you money. Examine your bill closely to detect suspicious charges quickly.

Be aware that a lot of malware can get into official app stores.  This malware can, and does, steal credit card data.  African-Americans do a lot banking and other financially related activities through our phones. If you regularly make payments or shop using your smartphone you should monitor your credit card bill and bank accounts for suspicious charges.

Prevention is key.

To enjoy and make the best and safest use of your new smartphone act to prevent an infection rather than trying to recover from a malware infection.

  • Keep your device’s operating system and apps updated.
  • Back up all important data on the device.
  • Use an anti malware and keep it up to date.
  • Buy or download your apps only from official stores. The possibility of downloading malware is lower but not impossible.
  • Use a screen lock. Make sure your code is at least six numbers. A pattern may be easy to guess and less secure than a PIN, and that a password is your best option.
  • Encrypt the content on your device.
  • Avoid rooting or jail breaking your smartphone.

Celebrity Cyber Report – P-Diddy, Rihanna and Drake

P-Diddy’s New Album

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Sean “Puffy” Combs

That rapper with many names, P-Diddy, Puff Daddy, Puffy, or just Diddy, is releasing his latest mix tape on iTunes this Friday. The new collection, entitled ‘MMMfor “Money Making Mitch”, was released free on November 4th. Both rapper and businessman, Sean Combs has decided to celebrate his 46th birthday by getting back to his roots, New York, and its unique hip-hop sound. In addition to the mix tape Combs also released a black and white documentary explaining how the new release took him back to the streets of Harlem where he got his start in the hip-hop genre.

P-Diddy surprised his many fans by releasing ‘MMM’ on Spotify and Apple Music for his 46th birthday. “MMM is a thank you to my fans and is just the beginning, a prelude to what will be my final album, No Way Out 2.”  Final album!  Wait…what?

Diddy brought together  a super star collection for the ‘MMM’ release that includes collaborations with Future, Travis Scott, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, Pusha T, French Montana, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil’ Kim, Jadakiss, and others.

Combs interviewed with Billboard magazine and explained that ‘MMM’ is his way of “reintroducing himself” before he puts out his next full-length CD. “MMM is returning back to my roots and my style of production, hip-hop soul with that R&B side and flavor to it.  A real New York hip-hop sound.”
No release date has been announced for what maybe Combs final work but look for it in 2016. The question remains; is this really his final album? What’s his next career move? Only the ‘Puff Daddy’ knows.

Rihanna’s New Album

RiHanna

Rihanna

Singer, song writer, actress and sex symbol Rihanna is coming out with her latest album on Friday…allegedly. But where can you find it? The new release entitled “Anti” is coming exclusively to Tidal music service. Tidal is the troubled music service purchased and managed by Jay-Z and owned jointly by many different artist. The songstress has not named an official release date.

Along with the new album release is a new mobile only website called ANTIdiaRy that allows her fans to hear short clips of the albums tracks.

Although the track list has not been officially released it is rumored that her most recent single cuts including Bitch Better Have My Money, FourFiveSeconds and American Oxygen are likely to be on the new album. Rhianna has also announced a U.S. and European tour in the spring and summer of 2016.

Drake Ain’t Dead

DRakeIf it’s one thing the Internet is good for and that is spreading bad information. The latest Internet lie is that Drake, the Canadian born singer, rapper and music producer is dead. He ain’t!

No one is sure where the lie originated but the sad part is that many legitimate news sources have fallen for the hoax including Yahoo News. The lie was originally found on the Buzzfeed Community post. The site has since pulled the story. It gets even more ridiculous when you find out that a Facebook page sprang up named “R.I.P Drake” and received more than a million likes! Really?

 This not the first time Drake was declared dead and probably not the last. Oh, and did you hear that Lamar Odom is dead? No he’s not! African American Cyber Report rule # 10; Everything on the Internet is real; just not always true.