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XBox 360 to support Twitter and Facebook. Who's the biggest social network on TV now?

Facebook on XBox 360

Facebook on XBox 360

For a long time now, Microsoft has made the rather lofty claim that the company’s XBox 360 was the biggest social network on TV. For the most part that was in reference to XBox Live – the games console’s online service – and its integration with Windows Live Messenger, Microsoft’s cross platform Instant Messaging service (Windows, Mac and mobile). Yesterday, however, Microsoft announced at E3 that the XBox 360 will soon be adding support for two competing social networks – Twitter and Facebook – making the XBox 360 undoubtedly the most socially networked set-top box, but not necessarily a Microsoft-owned social network the biggest one on the television. I’m not sure how Windows Live Messenger user numbers and Facebook’s compare in terms of cross-over with XBox Live membership but it’s nonetheless significant that Microsoft has chosen to embrace two competitors.

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Napster tries again, unlimited streaming and five downloads for $5 per-month

Napster tries again

Napster tries again

Now under the stewardship of Best Buy, Napster is taking yet-another-stab at offering a compelling music service since its glorious P2P days of yesteryear. This time round the company is touting the combination of unlimited streaming of its 7 million strong music library in combination with 5 DRM-free downloads per month, all for a monthly subscription of just five dollars. “Music fans now have the best of both worlds”, boasts the press release.

Continue reading » starts charging international users, kills third-party mobile apps

After news last week that SpiralFrog has shut its doors, another reality check for ad-supported music services. CBS-owned has started charging users outside of the US, UK and Germany, €3 per month (approx. $4.40), to make up for the short fall in advertising revenue.

“While we would like to provide the same service for users of all countries – the world is a huge place and it’s not cheap to deliver music over the Internet”,’s Owen Parry explained on the company’s blog.

That’s no understatement.

More bad news has since slipped out. Following an update to the service’s public API, which allows third-party developers to build applications based on, the company is no longer tolerating unofficial mobile clients, such as Pocket Scrobbler on Windows Mobile or the Symbian S60-based Mobbler, which I run on my beloved Nokia E71. Both of these apps were free to download, which can’t be said for FlipSide, a client for BlackBerry that will also soon be silenced. Ouch.

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Radiohead teams with to offer "In Rainbows" for free, on-demand streaming

last.fmLeave it up to Radiohead to find every new distribution method possible for their latest effort “In Rainbows.” This time the band has teamed up with to offer the album in its entirety for free, ad-supported, on-demand streaming.

radiohead on“In Rainbows” can be accessed on here. Already nearly 1.5 million listeners have streamed the album.

Radiohead is a popular band on Its songs have been “scrobbled” more than 108 million times.

When Radiohead introduced “In Rainbows” in October 2007, it was first made available as a download fans could purchase at whatever they wanted to pay. At the time, noticed the interest in Radiohead was high for its community of 21 million music fans.

“Radiohead understand that the Internet is changing music distribution,” said Martin Stiksel,’s co-founder. is now owned by CBS Corporation.

“We believe that music fans should be able to access music for free, and just as importantly, that artists and rights holders should be paid when their music is listened to. makes this possible.”

Continue reading » now streaming on Squeezebox

We’re big fans of Logitech’s line of Squeezebox streaming audio devices, and today the company announced that it had partnered with to add the social music service to its existing bevy of online streaming options.

Owners of the Logitech Squeezebox Duet (see our coverage), Squeezebox Classic or the high-end Transporter network music systems who are based in the U.S., UK or Germany will be able to access’s music catalog through their home stereo systems. Users will be able to listen to Internet radio stations based on artist or genre, as well as stream personalized stations created based on their listening habits — thanks to’s “scrobbling capability” which debuted on Squeezebox earlier this year.

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CBS to introduce new online video player with promising social features

cbs logoCBS Interactive is launching a new online video player this week, with more features to be added throughout the summer. It’s one we may actually end up cheering about.

Our normal reaction to news that a traditional media company is releasing a new online video player might go something like this: Big deal. They’ll just cripple it so we spend time watching shows on their network.

No so fast buckeroo.

AdAge wrote today that the CBS player will use a content and advertising engine powered by technology acquired in the purchase of, the popular streaming music site. The new player will include an HD viewing experience that does not require a separate download, sharing features, and social viewing rooms that let people watch and discuss content together.

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Where do you get your recommendations on the Web? From a service like The Filter? Or from friends?

It’s hard to fault Peter Gabriel’s logic: We are overwhelmed by the amount of information and choice we have on the Web. But is his solution — a recommendation engine called The Filter — really the answer?

Of course Gabriel, the genius behind the British rock band Genesis and the solo artist who gave us such tunes as “Solsbury Hill,” “Exposure,” and “Games Without Frontiers,” thinks so as he and England’s Eden Ventures have invested $8 million in The Filter. They believe people are overwhelmed by the Web and can’t find good content because it’s buried out of sight.

“When you drown people in an ocean of information, you’ve got to give them navigation tools,” Gabriel told “I know that there is better stuff out there than what I generally am exposed to . . . So if I have a sort of intelligent ally working with me 24 hours a day, I think I have a much better chance of getting stuff that will entertain, excite, and inspire me.”

The Filter, originally launched as a music recommendation service about a year ago in Europe, re-launched today in private beta as a more complete solution. It will be available to the public sometime in May.

But there’s something about The Filter that bugs me. What separates The Filter from any of the other algorithm-based recommendation engines out there, whether a human is a part of the process or not — Amazon, iTunes, lastFM, Netflix, Imeem, Digg, Pandora, and many more?

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Free ad-supported music leads to more sales

So says

Since CBS-owned re-launched its free ad-supported music service in January, with licenses from all four of the major labels, overall CD and download sales through the site’s partnership with have experienced a 119% increase. The upturn in sales can be accredited to an increase in new visitors as well as existing users who, according to, have purchased 66% more music than they did prior to the free-on-demand offering. also has affiliate deals with iTunes and 7Digital.

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