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Apple Music Is About To Drop The Hottest Release Of The Year

In case you were wondering, Apple still runs this digital music game.

How can a company with virtually unlimited resources and clout take down Spotify the streaming giant? It can create Apple Music.

 

With an influx of competitors adopting Apple’s original and innovative spirit in the ever-merging world of technology and music, a question hung over the $700 billion dollar brand’s head: was Apple still the pied piper? The answer to this question is a resounding “yes,” thanks to their upcoming streaming hub, Apple Music. With the likes of TIDAL, Pandora, Rdio, Google Play, and Amazon Prime scrambling to coerce cheapskates into giving up their relationship with the very convenient (and very free, for most) Spotify, Apple has figured out how to get ten dollars out of your wallet every month with ease. Which really shouldn’t be a surprise; these are the folks behind the surge of the digital music age.

I had the opportunity to see Apple Music in action, and my final thought was, “Shut up and take my money.” The new app, the sole addition to its upcoming iOS update, is quite literally the best listening experience I’ve seen thus far. With its acquisition of Beats Electronics, LLC., Apple took the best parts of Beats Music streaming and injected it with user experience steroids. It also learned from its not-so-hot iTunes Radio, and ditched copying its competitors in an honest – and successful – effort in blowing them out of the water.

Enough with the vote of confidence. Let’s get to why Apple Music will take residence in your bank account. Utilizing your 13-year history with iTunes via your Apple ID, the service curates a personalized experience, also courtesy of a selection of your favorite genres and artists. Elementary, right? Wrong. Once it has you figured out, an editorial team of music curators present you with a candy store of pre-prepared playlists, tailored to both engaging and broadening your musical tastes. You like hip-hop, Nas, Beyonce and Fall Out Boy? Apple Music says, “Cool. Here’s this playlist, filled with your favorites, and here are these other songs too, which I’m sure you’ll like.” You can also visit genre-specific pages of playlists and albums selected by their experts. The new service additionally includes a Beats Music favorite: situation-based listening. Tell the app what you’re doing and how you’re feeling, and it’ll hold you down.

Still, that is all child’s play compared to Apple Music’s radio component. Featuring stations that transcend genre and tap into lifestyles, the radio portion has tailor-made rotations for millennials, Generation X, and even a station strictly dedicated to the dance floor. Recognizing that few consumers listen to just one genre or artist, Apple Music tossed division aside for inclusion. And even that isn’t the best part of Apple Music’s radio section.

The company has once again succeeded at doing something in the digital music age that has never been done. Apple will be the first company to present a broadcast that can be listened to by everyone in the world – at the same damn time. With Beats 1, a Brooklyn rap fiend and a b-boy in Paris can listen to Apple Music’s live radio station together, notwithstanding their seven-hour time difference. Airing from London with Julie Adenuga, Los Angeles with Zane Lowe and NYC with Ebro Darden, Apple is once again bringing the world together with the sound of music. Listeners can also expect special broadcasts, including artists discussing their favorite albums by legendary artists. Step your game up, Sirius XM and Clear Channel.

That is not where the mystique of Apple Music ends. The app has another component that has never been seen before: a built in social network designed to keep up with your favorite artists’ latest content. Dubbed Connect, it’s like Instagram and Twitter, complete with the ability to “love” and comment, minus the pointless selfies and 140-character noise. Hit “Follow” on Drake’s page, head to Connect, and get updates on Drake’s latest music, videos and albums – straight from Drake. Such a simple idea. Such a huge game changer.

For years, Apple has displayed a customer-first approach to developing its products and services. No, it did not knock every ball out of the park, but it has certainly garnered trust. Accomplishing what others have thus far only attempted to do, Apple is set to change the way we consume music. Again.

Apple Music will be available on the iOS 8.4 update on June 30.

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In a cover story for Billboard, Alicia Keys ignited excitement within her fans when she referenced her upcoming album. The project, titled A.L.I.C.I.A., served as "the best therapy I ever had," she said, alongside working on her spring 2020 memoir More Myself: A Journey.

"I ended up being able to see the moments that things shifted," she said. "When you're living it, you're not really reflecting on it." A.L.I.C.I.A. will be the New Yorker's seventh studio album, slated for release next year. Her previous soundscape, Here, was released in 2016, landing at the No. 2 spot on the Billboard 200 during its debut week.

In January, Keys will host the Grammys for the second time in a row, a moment she's eager for viewers to witness. Since the November announcement of 2020's nominees, artists who believed they were snubbed expressed their confusion while others stated they don't need a gramophone to validate their talent. For Keys, the long-running showcase still holds weight within the industry for a simple reason.

"You are awarded by your peers—people who have been through the same experience that you have. So to receive one is the ultimate validation from people that you admire," she said. "That’s the point, and the reason why it has to maintain that level of integrity. And it has to expand now because music is not what it was 10 years ago. It’s about making sure that it’s representing the music that’s happening at the rate that it’s happening, as well. If we’re not all growing and evolving, then pack it up, because what’s the point?"

The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards will take place on Jan. 26 in Los Angeles. Read Keys' full profile here.

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Jay-Z performs onstage at SOMETHING IN THE WATER - Day 2 on April 27, 2019 in Virginia Beach City.
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Jay-Z's Discography Makes Its Way To Spotify

It's been 23 years since Jay-Z released his debut studio album, Reasonable Doubt, and with over two decades and running in the music business, the mogul has made strategic moves that keep his name at the top of GOAT lists. While his highly-decorated discography can be found on his streaming service TIDAL, or your go-to listening device if you've downloaded his music, his albums are no longer exclusive to his property.

On Dec. 4, which is also the Roc Nation leader's 50th birthday, Spotify tweeted that Jay-Z's albums are available for consumers' streaming pleasure. The message wished the father-of-three a happy birthday and welcomed him back to the streaming giant.

Happy birthday, Hov 🎁 Welcome back to Spotify.https://t.co/exr5QGgwCK pic.twitter.com/t7l4H5zn6E

— Spotify (@Spotify) December 4, 2019

According to Entertainment Weekly, the "Moonlight" rapper's albums were non-existent on Spotify two years ago after he wiped the service clean of his work. His biographical library on Spotify includes In My Lifetime Vol. 1, the collector's edition of The Blueprint, his 2001 Unplugged session with MTV, and Watch the Throne.

In 2015, Jay-Z stepped into the music streaming wars by acquiring the Swedish company TIDAL. Since that acquisition, the billionaire has been able to provide exclusive access for subscribers, refined sound quality, and negotiate beneficial deals with artists that allows them to make a significant profit off of their music.

"People are not respecting the music, and devaluing what it really means," Jay-Z said to Billboard at the time of TIDAL's launch. "People really feel like music is free, but will pay $6 for water. You can drink water free out of the tap and it's good water. But they're okay paying for it. It's just the mindset right now."

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Jill Scott To Tour 'Who Is Jill Scott? Words And Sounds Vol. 1' For 20th Anniversary

As the New Year approaches, Jill Scott is gearing up to perform one of her most poignant albums, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1. Her debut soundscape will celebrate its 20th anniversary on July 18, 2020, but the Philly native will prepare fans for its birthday way ahead of schedule.

The "Gettin' in the Way" vocalist will embark on a U.S. tour beginning February 7 in Kansas City, Mo., and commence in Columbia, South Carolina, before returning to the road for a summer tour edition. In a statement issued to Billboard, Scott described the album as "sistah strong yet vulnerable and filled with love" due to its presentation of "honest stories and timing." Tickets hit the market on Dec. 6.

The "A Long Walk" singer continued to state that this tour will gift fans the opportunity to see her perform the album in its entirety. “I’m going to be true to the album setlist. I’ll do every song in the order of the album. My audience should bring their cd covers. Some may know the list by heart," Scott said. "I will create musical arrangements for the songs purposed with new energy but keep the integrity of the original songs they love. Expect theatre. Expect incredible musicianship. Expect love.” Upon its release, the album reigned at No. 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

View the first set of tour dates below and purchase tickets here:

Feb. 7: Kansas City, MO - Arvest Bank Theatre at Midland Theatre Feb. 9: St. Louis, MO - Fox Theatre Feb. 12: Chicago, IL - The Chicago Theatre Feb. 14: Hanover, MD - Live! Casino & Hotel Feb. 15: Atlantic City, NJ - Borgata Hotel Feb. 20: New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall Feb. 21: Northfield, OH - MGM Northfield Park Feb. 23: Indianapolis, IN - Murat Theatre Feb. 25: Minneapolis, MN - The Fillmore Minneapolis Feb. 28: Elizabeth, IN - Caesars Event Center at Caesars Southern Indiana Feb. 29: Wetumpka, AL - Wind Creek Hotel & Casino March 3: Memphis, TN - Cannon Center For The Performing Arts March 5: Dallas, TX - The Music Hall at Fair Park March 7: Austin, TX - ACL Live at The Moody Theater March 8: Houston, TX - Revention Music Center March 11: Huntsville, AL - Von Braun Center March 13: Augusta, GA - William B. Bell Memorial Auditorium March 17: Clearwater, FL - Ruth Eckerd Hall March 18: Orlando, FL - Hard Rock Live March 20: Macon, GA - City Auditorium at Macon Centreplex March 21: Columbia, SC - Township Auditorium

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