Universal Prepping New Music Service?

Univeral Music—the world’s largest record label—has made no bones about the fact it’s not happy with the digital music landscape. Although it was one of the major music distributors on board when Apple initially launched its market-dominating iTunes store, it increasingly came to see itself as the foundation upon which Apple’s digital music success was built: it was earning a few pennies per song while Apple was raking in hundred of million in iPod sales. So it’s no surprise that Universal folded Microsoft over a barrel and made the Redmond software giant pay it $1 for every Zune music player sold, more recently refused to renew its contract with iTunes (it’s on a month-to-month deal now), and then announced that, like EMI, it would offer its music in a DRM-free format…but explicitly not via Apple’s iTunes. Instead, Universal is taking its music—DRM-free and otherwise—elsewhere as often as it can, partnering with Amazon, RealNetworks, Wal-Mart, and even players like gBox.

Now, Businessweek is reporting Universal is in the process of developing its own digital music subscription service to challenge iTunes, and is trying to convince other major record labels to get on board. Reportedly called Total Music, the service would provide subscription-based music at little or no cost to consumers. How? Hardware makers—like Apple, but also Microsoft, Creative, SanDisk, and others—would subsidize the cost of the music subscription service by building the cost of the service into the device, while wireless carriers interested in the service would simple add the cost into users’ monthly subscription fees. According to Businessweek, Universal is eyeing a $5/month fee for the service, under the assumption that the average lifetime of a music player is about 18 months. In theory, access to Total Music would thereby add $90 to the cost of a digital music player—however, users would have all-they-can-eat subscription access to any music on the service for as long as they owned the player.

If Total Music takes off—and if (either through some heretofore-unimagined deal with Apple or by offering DRM-free music) it somehow manages to work with the market-leading iPod, something like Total Music could herald a fundamental change in the digital music landscape and shift a greater portion of control (and revenue) from the digital music market back to the labels and distributors—the same position they happily occupied before the digital music market blossomed.


Amazon slashes prices on Echo devices that play Alexa’s sweetest-sounding music

Amazon slashed prices on Alexa-controlled Echo devices with the best music sound quality. All Alexa smart speakers stream music, but some sound better than others. Save on Echo Plus and the Echo Sub bundled with Echo and Echo Plus speakers.

The best new music this week: Jenny Lewis, American Football, and much more

Looking for the best new music? Each week, we find the most compelling new releases just for you. This week, we have new music from Jenny Lewis, Andrew Bird, American Football, Avey Tare, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, and more.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.
Home Theater

Pandora now lets you mess with the secret sauce for its music playlists

Pandora introduced a new feature called Modes, allowing subscribers to pick between six different algorithms that determine what the popular music streaming service will decide to play.
Smart Home

Dyson’s newest products strive to keep your home cool, clean, and well-lit

Dyson launched products to keep your home cool, clean, and well-lit. A Dyson intelligent task light cycles with nature and a personal air purifier harnesses unique airflow. Microprocessors in Dyson's vacuum self-adjust 8,000 times a second.
Smart Home

Smart light switches have become more affordable: Here are the best ones

The ability to control the lighting in your home can have a big effect on your living space. To have more control over your lighting, check out the best smart light switches on the market. 
Smart Home

Walmart serves up a rare deal on the Google Home Max at $100 off

Some deals are predictable and others are pre-announced, but today Walmart posted a rare deal: $100 off the powerful Google Home Max. Since it rarely goes on sale, waiting may not be prudent. If you want one, grab it.
Smart Home

Update your kitchen with the best refrigerators you can buy in 2019

There are tons of factors that go into buying a fridge, from size and capacity to color. It takes lots of testing and research, but we've chosen the best refrigerators to get you started, regardless of what you're looking for.
Smart Home

The best smart locks to increase your home security in 2019

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.

Suck up the savings with these vacuum cleaners on sale for $100 or less

Keeping your floors clean around the home is a constant chore. To help make things a whole lot easier, we've picked out some great vacuum cleaner deals available right now, from full-sized upright models to robot vacs.
Smart Home

Is your coffee maker hiding mold inside? Here's how to clean it

Are you a coffee drinker? If you brew your coffee at home and you don't clean your machine, you could be drinking mold, yeast, and other bacteria. Here's how to clean your coffee maker.

Walmart drops prices on Google Home Hub and Lenovo smart displays

Walmart slashed the prices of Google Home smart displays for two highly regarded Lenovo models and the original Google Home Hub. We can't think of a better way to improve your smart home setup and these deals can help you save up to $100.

Amazon lowers Echo Dot cost and slashes price of the Dot and Smart Plug bundle

Amazon just unleashed extraordinary price cuts on third-generation Echo Dot smart speakers. The Alexa device is back in stock following the blowout sales last holiday season. The Echo Dot is the best-selling Alexa smart speaker worldwide.
Smart Home

These best outdoor security cameras will keep porch pirates at bay

Worried about porch pirates stealing your packages, or intruders entering your home? Always be in the know about who or what is on your property by installing one of these outdoor security cameras.