Spotify’s rumored remix feature could completely change how we listen to music

Spotify is reportedly working on adding remixing tools to its streaming service, giving users a way to reimagine their favorite tracks. 

The news comes from The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) whose sources state people will be able to “speed up, mash-up, and otherwise edit songs” however they want. The article explains that one of the purported additions is a playback feature for controlling how fast or how slow a track plays. When you’re finished with a remix, you can then share it with other Spotify users, but not to third-party platforms or social media. There are licensing agreements in place that will prevent people from sharing their creations.

The availability of these tools will differ depending on the type of Spotify subscription you have. The “more basic features” such as the speed control will be on the basic plan; however, the “advanced song modification features” will be on the company’s long-rumored Supremium tier

Imminent launch

Several lines of code were discovered by Reddit user Hypixely on the Spotify subreddit revealing the company plans on introducing the remix patch as the “Music Pro” add-on. Accompanying text also talks about lossless audio arriving on the platform which could be referring to Supremium. The name of the plan isn't explicitly stated, but the clues are there. The fact that lossless was mentioned alongside the remix update could hint at an imminent release for both, although it may still be a while before we see either one.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the platform is currently hashing out the details with music rights holders. Development is still in the early stages, but once everything comes out, it could upend the way we enjoy music.

Analysis: if you can't beat them…

Arguably, some of the more popular versions of songs are remixes. Fan reinterpretations can alter the meaning of the original and even serve as an introduction to a new generation. As the WSJ points out, people like to add their own unique twists on a classic or edit them for dance challenges or memes. That type of content can be a very effective way of discovering new music. How many times have you seen people in the comments section asking for the source of a song or movie or whatever? It’s quite common.

As great as fan remixes may be, they’ve apparently become a bit of a problem. Musicians and labels don’t get paid for the content utilizing their work. The WSJ mentions how a “sped-up cover version” of the song “Somewhere Only We Know” by the rock band Keane has over 33 million tracks on Spotify. Record executives see this and force these platforms to do something.

There are different solutions to this problem. Spotify chose the path of “if you can’t beat them, join ‘em.” It’s a win-win scenario for everyone involved. Rather than ban the content, the company is choosing to embrace the remixes. People can be creative and artists can get paid.

If you want to flex that creative muscle, check out TechRadar's list of the best free music-making software for 2024.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

OpenAI’s Sora just made its first music video and it’s like a psychedelic trip

OpenAI recently published a music video for the song Worldweight by August Kamp made entirely by their text-to-video engine, Sora. You can check out the whole thing on the company’s official YouTube channel and it’s pretty trippy, to say the least. Worldweight consists of a series of short clips in a wide 8:3 aspect ratio featuring fuzzy shots of various environments. 

You see a cloudy day at the beach, a shrine in the middle of a forest, and what looks like pieces of alien technology. The ambient track coupled with the footage results in a uniquely ethereal experience. It’s half pleasant and half unsettling. 

It’s unknown what text prompts were used on Sora; Kamp didn’t share that information. But she did explain the inspiration behind them in the description. She states that whenever she created the track, she imagined what a video representing Worldweight would look like. However, she lacked a way to share her thoughts. Thanks to Sora, this is no longer an issue as the footage displays what she had always envisioned. It's “how the song has always ‘looked’” from her perspective.

Embracing Sora

If you pay attention throughout the entire runtime, you’ll notice hallucinations. Leaves turn into fish, bushes materialize out of nowhere, and flowers have cameras instead of petals. But because of the music’s ethereal nature, it all fits together. Nothing feels out of place or nightmare-inducing. If anything, the video embraces the nightmares.

We should mention August Kamp isn’t the only person harnessing Sora for content creation. Media production company Shy Kids recently published a short film on YouTube called “Air Head” which was also made on the AI engine. It plays like a movie trailer about a man who has a balloon for a head.

Analysis: Lofty goals

It's hard to say if Sora will see widespread adoption judging by this content. Granted, things are in the early stages, but ready or not, that hasn't stopped OpenAI from pitching its tech to major Hollywood studios. Studio executives are apparently excited at the prospects of AI saving time and money on production. 

August Kamp herself is a proponent of the technology stating, “Being able to build and iterate on cinematic visuals intuitively has opened up categorically new lanes of artistry for me”. She looks forward to seeing “what other forms of storytelling” will appear as artificial intelligence continues to grow.

In our opinion, tools such Sora will most likely enjoy a niche adoption among independent creators. Both Kamp and Shy Kids appear to understand what the generative AI can and cannot do. They embrace the weirdness, using it to great effect in their storytelling. Sora may be great at bringing strange visuals to life, but in terms of making “normal-looking content”, that remains to be seen.

People still talk about how weird or nightmare-inducing content made by generative AI is. Unless OpenAI can surmount this hurdle, Sora may not amount to much beyond niche usage.

It’s still unknown when Sora will be made publicly available. OpenAI is holding off on a launch, citing potential interference in global elections as one of its reasons. Although, there are plans to release the AI by the end of 2024.

If you're looking for other platforms, check out TechRadar's list of the best AI video makers for 2024.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

YouTube Music will finally let you look up tracks just by singing into your phone

It took a little while, but YouTube Music is, at long last, giving users the ability to search for songs just by singing a tune into a smartphone’s microphone.

The general YouTube app has had this feature since mid-October 2023, and judging from recently found images on Reddit, the version on YouTube Music functions in the exact same way. In the upper right corner next to the search bar is an audio chart icon. Tapping it activates song search where you then either play, sing, or hum a tune into your device. 

Using the power of artificial intelligence, the app will quickly bring up a track that, according to 9To5Google, matches “the sound to the original recording.” The tool’s accuracy may depend entirely on your karaoke skills. 

Missing details

Because there hasn't an official announcement yet, there are a lot of missing details. For starters, it’s unknown how long you're supposed to sing or hum. The original tool required people to enter a three-second input before it could perform a search. Presumably it will take the same amount of time, but without official word from the platform, it’s hard to say with total confidence.

Online reports claim the update is already available on YouTube Music for iOS. However, 9To5Google states they couldn’t find the feature on either their iPhones or Android devices. Our Android phone didn’t receive the patch either so it’s probably seeing a limited release at the moment. 

We reached out to Google asking if it would like to share official info about YouTube Music’s song search tool alongside a couple of other questions. More specifically, we wanted to know if the feature is rolling out to everyone, or will it require a YouTube Music Premium plan? We will update if we get answers. 

You can't listen to music without a good pair of headphones. For recommendations, check out TechRadar's list of the best wireless headphones for 2024.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Adobe’s new AI music tool could make you a text-to-musical genius

Adobe is getting into the music business as the company is previewing its new experimental generative AI capable of making background tracks.

It doesn’t have an official name yet since the tech is referred to as Project Music GenAI. The way it works, according to Adobe, is you enter a text prompt into the AI describing what you want to hear; be it “powerful rock,” “happy dance,” or “sad jazz”. Additionally, users will be able to upload music files to the generative engine for further manipulation. There will even be some editing tools in the workflow for on-the-fly adjustments. 

If any of this sounds familiar to you, that’s because we’ve seen this type of technology multiple times before. Last year, Meta launched MusicGen for creating short instrumentals and Google opened the doors to its experimental audio engine called Instrument Playground. But what’s different about Adobe’s tool is it offers easier, yet robust editing – as far as we can tell. 

Project Music GenAI isn’t publicly available. However, Adobe did recently publish a video on its official YouTube channel showing off the experiment in detail. 

Adobe in concert

The clip primarily follows a researcher at Adobe demonstrating what the AI can do. He starts by uploading the song Habanera from Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen and then proceeds to change the melody via a prompt. In one instance, the researcher instructed Project Music to make Habanera sound like an inspirational film score. Sure enough, the output became less playful and more uplifting. In another example, they gave the song a hip-hop-style accompaniment. 

When it comes to generating fresh content, Project Music can even make songs with different tempos and structures. There is a clear delineation between the intro, the verse, the chorus, and other parts of the track. It can even create indefinitely looping music for videos as well as fade-outs for the outro.

No experience necessary

These editing abilities may make Adobe’s Project Music better than Instrument Playground. Google’s engine has its own editing tools, however they’re difficult to use. It seems you need some production experience to get the most out of Instrument Playground. Project Music, on the other hand, aims to be more intuitive.

And if you're curious to know, Meta's MusicGen has no editing tools. To make changes, you have to remake the song from scratch.

In a report by TheVerge, Adobe states the current demo utilizes “public domain content” for content generation. It’s not totally clear whether people will be able to upload their own files to the final release. Speaking of which, a launch date for Project Music has yet to be revealed although Adobe will be holding its Summit event in Las Vegas beginning March 26. Still, we reached out to the company asking for information. This story will be updated at a later time.

In the meantime, check out TechRadar's list of the best audio editor for 2024.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

YouTube Shorts gains an edge over TikTok thanks to new music video remix feature

YouTube is revamping the Remix feature on its ever popular Shorts by allowing users to integrate their favorite music videos into content.

This update consists of four tools: Sound, Collab, Green Screen, and Cut. The first one lets you take a track from a video for use as background audio. Collab places a Short next to an artist’s content so you can dance alongside it or copy the choreography itself. Green Screen, as the name suggests, allows users to turn a music video into the background of a Short. Then there’s Cut, which gives creators the ability to remove a five-second portion of the original source to add to their own content and repeat as often as they like. 

It’s important to mention that none of these are brand new to the platform as they were actually introduced years prior. Green Screen, for instance, hit the scene back in 2022 although it was only available on non-music videos.

Remixing

The company is rolling out the remix upgrade to all users, as confirmed by 9To5Google, but it’s releasing it incrementally. On our Android, we only received a part of the update as most of the tools are missing. Either way, implementing one of the remix features is easy to do. The steps are exactly the same across the board with the only difference being the option you choose.

To start, find the music video you want to use on the mobile app and tap the Remix button. It’ll be found in the description carousel. Next, select the remix tool. At the time of this writing, we only have access to Sound so that’ll be the one we’ll use.

YouTube Short's new Remix tool for Music Videos

(Image credit: Future)

You will then be taken to the YouTube Shorts editing page where you highlight the 15-second portion you want to use in the video. Once everything’s sorted out, you’re free to record the Short with the music playing in the back.

Analysis: A leg over the competition

The Remix feature’s expansion comes at a very interesting time. Rival TikTok recently lost access to the vast music catalog owned by Universal Music Group (UMG), meaning the platform can no longer host tracks by artists represented by the record label. This includes megastars like Taylor Swift and Drake. TikTok videos with “UMG-owned music” will be permanently muted although users can replace them with songs from other sources.

The breakup between UMG and TikTok was the result of contract negotiations falling through. Apparently, the social media platform was trying to “bully” the record label into accepting a bad deal that wouldn’t have adequately protected artists from generative AI and online harassment.  

YouTube, on the other hand, was more cooperative. The company announced last August they were working with UMG to ensure “artists and right holders would be properly compensated for AI music.” So creators on YouTube are safe to take whatever songs they want from the label – for now. It's possible future negotiations between these two entities will turn sour down the line.

If you're planning on making YouTube Shorts, you'll need a smartphone with a good camera. Be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best iPhone for 2024 if you need some recommendations.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Apple Books just got a Spotify Wrapped-style recap for readers – and it beats Apple Music Replay

Apple has just launched Year in Review, a Spotify Wrapped-style round-up for its Books app, where you’ll be able to see personalized stats covering all the books you read in the app over the past year. If you’re curious about who your most-read author is and how long you spent leafing through literature in 2023, you’ll want to take a look.

You’ll need to open the Books app and select the Read Now tab in the bottom-left corner, then find the 'Your Year in Review' card under the Top Picks header. Tap that and you’ll find a bunch of fascinating facts about your reading habits from the last 12 months. Note that you’ll need to have marked at least three books as completed to get your reading summary.

For example, Apple has created six ‘reader types’ that are defined by the way you read or listen to literature. These types include 'The Completionist' for readers who consume multiple books in a series, and 'The Contemporary' for people who love trending titles.

Apple has also published several lists of the most-read books across all Books users – Spare by Prince Harry took the top spot for a non-fiction title, while Only the Dead by Jack Carr was the top fiction audiobook. The company did something similar for its Podcasts app, where you can see all the top-ranked shows among listeners.

Better than Apple Music Replay

Three iPhones side-by-side showing the Apple Books Year in Review feature.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has put an emphasis on sharing this year, with book cover collages, graphs and statistics to send to your friends. All of this reading info is contained within Apple’s Books app, which makes it easy to catch up with your year-end review in between reading a novel or listening to an audiobook.

That makes it very different from Apple Music Replay. This is Apple Music’s take on Spotify Wrapped and, like Books’ Year in Review, gives you a deep dive into your music tastes in 2023.

The difference, though, is that Apple Music Replay is hosted on Apple’s website, not in the Apple Music app. You can still see all the same stats and figures as you’d expect, but there’s an extra degree of friction in the process. Compare that to Spotify, where its Wrapped round-up is right there at your fingertips in the app.

Why Apple built the Year in Review into its Books app but still refrains from making Apple Music Replay an app-based feature is a mystery. Regardless, head over to Apple’s Books app if you want to get the lowdown on your reading habits in 2023.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

YouTube working on an AI music tool that’ll let you use the voices of famous musicians

YouTube is apparently working on a new AI tool that could give content creators the ability to produce songs using the voices of famous singers and musicians.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, the platform has approached several record labels with this technology with negotiations still ongoing. YouTube is trying to obtain rights to use certain songs to train the AI while also trying not to step on any land mines that would lead to them getting sued to high heaven. We’re already seeing a similar situation happen with OpenAI as it’s currently being sued by 17 authors, including A Song of Ice and Fire creator George R.R. Martin, who all allege ChatGPT is illegally using their work. Bloomberg states musicians and labels want to maintain control over their work so developers aren’t using it “to train models without permission or compensation.”

Originally, a beta of this tech was supposed to be shown off during the Made On YouTube event last month. Billboard states in their report the beta would have had a “select pool of artists [give] permission to” certain creators to use their likeness on the platform. Eventually, it would officially launch as a feature where everybody can try using the voices of consenting artists. 

Mixed response

The response from the music industry at large has been mixed. Bloomberg claims “companies have been receptive” agreeing to work with YouTube on this project. However, Billboard states record executives have had a tough time finding artists willing to participate. Some acts feel anxious about putting their voices into “the hands of unknown creators who could use them to make statements or sing lyrics” that they don’t agree with.

YouTube is trying to position itself as everybody’s best friend – as a partner to help the music industry figure this whole thing out. However, the air is gloomy. The industry sees generative AI as an unstoppable force, but it’s not an immovable object. The technology is an inevitability that they’ll have to deal with or they risk getting left behind. 

Ray of positivity

There’s another snag in all this regarding publishing. Making music isn’t a one-person show as there are entire teams involved in production. To solve this, a Billboard source says YouTube will probably give labels one big licensing fee that they have to “figure out how to divide among” songwriters.

Despite the dour attitude, there is some positivity. Billboard claims rights holders are engaging in “good faith to get a deal done” amicably. A few artists do “recognize these models could open new avenues for creative expression.” Record executives may be less keen as another Billboard source states AI can put “companies at a disadvantage”.

We’ll just have to wait and see what comes from all this. Again, YouTube’s new model could help people explore their creative side assuming deals are made fairly.

While we're on the topic of production, be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best free music-making software for 2023.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Duolingo’s new Music platform will teach you the basics of playing tunes

It’s been seven long months since the rumors first cropped up but Duolingo has finally released Music courses to its education platform.

Duolingo Music, as it’s called, will teach you the basics of playing music through the help of a digital keyboard on your iPhone. You don’t need to own an instrument. The lessons teach the names of each individual note and where they’re “located on a piano”. From there, Duolingo will show you how to read music and then “translate what you or hear” into songs. It'll eventually all coalesce into you learning how to play a full song.  The courses will even take the time to “train your ear” so you can distinguish specific notes and tell whether they’re high-pitched or low. 

As you can see, these classes get pretty involved. The primary goal of Duolingo Music is to establish a good foundation for students from which they can grow into more experienced musicians.

Back to School

We asked Karen Chow, the Teaching/Curriculum Expert at Duolingo who created the courses, what was the thought process behind everything. She told us the company “wanted to focus on teaching music literacy in a fun and engaging way.” Chow points out that other “foundations” teach music in a really “boring, dry fashion” so they aimed to do the opposite.

At the beginning of development, Duolingo identified the major tenets for their classes from the obvious, like playing instruments, to ear training. Once it narrowed things down, the company created lessons based on those tents

Duolingo states there are “hundreds of bite-sized lessons” available with many “interactive exercises”. These aim to teach music incrementally and not overload students with a flood of information. Some of the exercises include completing a music sequence and pairing up notes to audio played on a piano. Duolingo states it believes interactivity is vital to learning as it keeps people focused and engaged. All this content is shown in the platform’s signature brightly colored, bubbly UI.

Duolingo Math lessons

(Image credit: Duolingo)

In addition to the music classes, Duolingo Math is getting an update where users can learn “real-world math skills from calculating tips to identifying patterns”. The latter, according to a company representative, involves helping people understand the logic behind math. Plus, there will be courses to “sharpen [your] mental math” abilities, allowing you to calculate in your head without needing to whip out the calculator app.

Availability

Duolingo Music will be available exclusively to “iOS devices in English and Spanish” later this autumn. Users will receive in-app notifications letting them know the update is ready for download. There are plans to expand Duolingo Music to Android users and other languages, too. However, the representative couldn't give us an exact date when this second patch will roll out. Hopefully, it's very soon.

Be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best online classes sites for 2023 if you’re interested in picking up some new skills. 

You might also like:

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Stability AI’s new text-to-audio tool is like a Midjourney for music samples

Stability AI is taking its generative AI tech into the world of music as the developer has launched a new text-to-audio engine called Stable Audio.

Similar to the Stable Diffusion model, Stable Audio can create short sound bites based on a simple text prompt. The company explains in its announcement post that the AI was trained on content from the online music library AudioSparx. It even claims the model is capable of creating “high-quality, 44.1 kHz music for commercial use”. To put that number into perspective, 44.1 kHz is considered to be CD quality audio. So it’s pretty good but not the greatest.

Stable Audio user interface

(Image credit: Stability AI)

A free version of Stable Audio is currently available to the public where you’re allowed to generate and download 20 individual tracks a month. Each sound bite has a 45 second runtime so they won’t be very long.

Prompting music

The text prompts you enter can be simple inputs. Listening to the samples provided by Stability AI, “Car Passing By” sounds exactly as the title suggests – a car driving by in the distance although it is a little muffled. Conversely, you can also stack on details. One particular sample has a prompt involving Ambient Techno, an 808 drum machine, claps, a synthesizer, the word “ethereal”, 122 BPM, and a “Scandinavian Forest” (whatever that means). The result of this word combination is an ambient lo-fi hip-hop beat.

We took Stable Audio out for a quick spin. We were able to enter one prompt asking the AI to create a fast-paced garage rock song from the early 2000s and it sort of accomplished the goal. The generated track matched the style although it sounded really messy. 

Personal Stable Audio input

(Image credit: Future)

Unfortunately, we couldn’t go any further besides the single input. At the time of this writing, Stable Audio is seeing a huge influx of traffic from people rushing in to try out the model. The developer recommends trying again later or the next day if you’re met with nothing but a blank screen.

There is a catch with the free version – it’s for non-commercial use only. If you want to use the content commercially, then you’ll have to purchase the $ 12 Stable Audio Professional monthly plan. It also offers 500 track generations a month, each with a duration of up to 90 seconds. There’s an Enterprise plan too for custom audio duration and monthly generations. You will, however, have to contact Stability AI first to set up a plan.

Imperfect tool

Do be aware the technology isn’t perfect. The content sounds fine for the most part, however certain aspects will seem off. The mix in that Ambient Techno song mentioned earlier isn’t very good in our opinion. It was like the bass and synthesizer are fighting over what will be the dominant sound, resulting in just noise. Additionally, it doesn’t appear the AI can do vocals. It only does instrumentals. 

Stable Audio is interesting for sure, but not something that should be totally relied on. We should note the company is asking for feedback from users on how to improve the AI. A contact email can found on the official announcement page.

If you plan on utilizing this tech for your own purpose, we recommend checking TechRadar’s list of the best audio editors for 2023 to fix any flaw you might come across. 

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Duolingo’s new music lessons will cement its place on my phone’s home screen

As predicted by leaks Duolingo, the app synonymous with language learning, is expanding its portfolio into a new discipline with Duolingo Music. When it launches next month Duolingo will also be rolling out its Maths lessons (which have been in beta for around a year) to the main app, so you’ll be able to develop your math, music, and language skills all in one place.

According to the announcement trailer and press release we’ve been sent, the new digital piano experience will help develop your skills across “hundreds of interactive lessons” so you can find out how to perform “over 200 familiar tunes”. Based on what we’ve seen you’ll pick up music theory skills, as well as learn how to play tunes on an in-app virtual keyboard.

Best all, just like the existing Duolingo language courses (of which there are over 40), you’ll be able to access the music and math teaching for free. Duolingo hasn’t confirmed this with us yet, but we expect the new experiences will be ad-supported just like the existing language lessons unless you pay for Super Duolingo – we’ve also asked if this premium subscription will be going up in price because of the math and music additions.

The new music course will launch on iOS devices on October 11 and will be available in both English and Spanish. We’ve been told by a Duolingo representative that other platforms and languages will be supported “soon” but there are no firm dates yet – hopefully we’ll learn more at Duocon which also takes place on October 11.

Not leaving my home screen soon

Duolingo has been a permanent resident of my home screen for the past few months with my lesson streak currently over 110 days long. Ahead of a holiday to Belgium it was one of the language apps I used to develop my French skills, and (in an attempt to actualize my hopes of a holiday there) I’ve pivoted to learning Japanese since returning home.

The Duolingo widget shows Duo looking determined, then angry, then crying tears of sadness, and then surrounded by fire as the bird's watch glows.

The Duolingo widget is amazing (Image credit: Duolingo / Future )

The gamified courses (and the very emotive Duo widget I have set up for the app that shows the bird morphing from determined to sad to filled with the rage of 1,000 suns as the end of the day draws near and I haven’t completed a lesson) have kept me coming back for more – striking a good balance between engaging and informative. With these new music lessons on the way too, the app might have just further cemented itself to its spot on my home screen.

That said, I’m a little skeptical of the virtual keyboard experience. I’m worried it’ll be a little too small on my phone, and that playing it wouldn’t translate all that well to playing an actual piano. Given its success with language lessons, I'm hopeful the music experience will be solid too, but I'll have to hold off judgment until I’ve tried it out for myself – unfortunately, as a Google Pixel 6 user I might be left waiting a while for the Android release.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More