Business

Smart Speaker Sales More Than Tripled in 2017

Nearly 25 million were sold in the year, with about 11 million moved in the holiday quarter alone. Internet-connected lights, locks and laundry machines are close to becoming everyday household items, thanks in part to voice-activated speakers such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. Market research groups are seeing increased sales of lights that turn off when you say “good night,” smart locks that let in your friends before you get home and similar smart-home gadgets. While the devices are still relatively expensive — you can get six regular light bulbs for the price of a single smart one — demand is likely to pick up further as prices fall. “This holiday, it’s starting to turn the corner into the mass market,” said Steve Koenig, senior director of market research at the Consumer Technolog...

Bandcamp Releases 2017 Year-End Numbers, Including Mind-Boggling Cassette Tape Stats

‘Tis the season to look back at all that has happened in the past year, as New Year’s Day hurtles closer and closer (it’s Monday!). Today, Bandcamp got in on the fun, via a blog post by engineer Ben Walker that detailed a few notable, and surprising, trends the company saw in 2017. Most notably, the company announced that 500 bands set up a Bandcamp page each day in 2017, or approximately 182,500 new bands in the calendar year — and each page in that tally, the blog post notes, is an active one with music uploaded to it, rather than a placeholder or dormant one. And the post also noted that the new Bandcamp app, which was introduced Oct. 31 and provides users with real-time statistics and merchandising capabilities, has already seen 36,000 artists and labels begin u...

Canadian Producer and Record Label Owner André Di Cesare Dies at 70

André Di Cesare, a Canadian music producer and owner of Montreal indie label Star Records, whose biggest success was Roch Voisine’s diamond-selling Hélène, died Christmas Eve, his sister, Johanne Di Cesare, confirmed to The Canadian Press. He was 70. “André lived for music,” she told the national news agency. “During the past year, he was sick, but he worked despite it. He looked after his artists.” Regarded as one of Quebec’s most important music industry figures, he formed Les Disques Star (Star Records) in 1982, a label initially designed to produce albums by André Gagnon, but that went on to become home to Martine St-Clair, Richard Huet, Nicole Martin, Martine Chevrier, Édith Butler, Patrick Norman, Renée Martel, Voisine and others.   From 1987, Di Cesare also s...

Apple Hit With Several Lawsuits For Slowing Down Older iPhones

iPhone owners from several states sued Apple Inc. for not disclosing sooner that it issued software updates deliberately slowing older-model phones so aging batteries lasted longer, saying Apple’s silence led them to wrongly conclude that their only option was to buy newer, pricier iPhones. The allegations were in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Chicago federal court on behalf of five iPhone owners from Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina, all of whom say they never would have bought new iPhones had Apple told them that simply replacing the batteries would have sped up their old ones. The suit alleges Apple violated consumer fraud laws. A similar lawsuit was filed Thursday in Los Angeles. Both suits came a day after Apple confirmed what high-tech sleuths outside the company already obse...

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Annual Pay Jumps 47 Percent to $12.8 Million

Higher non-equity incentive pay boosts his compensation well above the $8.7 million he had received for the previous year. Apple CEO Tim Cook‘s compensation for the latest fiscal year rose 47 percent to $12.8 million from $8.7 million in the previous year. Cook’s pay package included a base salary of $3.1 million, along with $9.3 million in non-equity incentive pay, up from $5.4 million. It also includes $440,374 in “other” compensation, according to a regulatory filing. “Apple was above its target performance goals for both net sales and operating income, resulting in a payout of each named executive officer’s annual cash incentive,” the company’s filing said. Cook’s “other” pay included $224,216 in security expenses and $93,109 ...

Entertainment Attorney Paul Rothenberg Shares Tips For Emerging Artists On Achieving Success and Longevity

Paul Rothenberg says that while he has always been analytical — he was a math major at Dartmouth, after all — he was also always passionate about music. “Being an entertainment attorney ended up being a great way to marry the two interests,” he tells Billboard. Working with creative clients and in the field of law fits his strengths, and has allowed Rothenberg to excel since first becoming an attorney in 1998 before turning his focus to entertainment law in 2002. In April 2009, Rothenberg opened his own boutique entertainment law firm, Rothenberg, P.C., with locations in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. The firm boasts an impressive roster of acts including Charlie Puth, Logic, A$AP Ferg, Trey Songz and D’Angelo, and also has focuses on film, sports, theater and more. “It’s ver...

With autonomous vehicles it’s not about the journey, it’s about the destination

Colin O’Donnell Contributor Colin O’Donnell is the chief innovation officer of Intersection. More posts by this contributor: Elon Musk recently started a flame war on Twitter with the urban planning and mass transit community by stating “public transportation sucks”: the underlying assumption that, in the future, individual transit would be the only transportation solution with a good user experience (UX). The mistake here is focusing on the UX of the person in the car. Unless the goal is to spend more time in the car, we should focus on the UX of being in cities and communities and let the UX of individualized transport follow. Now, thanks to three parallel areas of development, we have the tools at our disposal which create potential for radical change in transportation — data about reso...

Library of Congress Can’t Deal With All Your Tweets Anymore

The Library of Congress announced on Tuesday that it will no longer catalog every public tweet in its archives, citing the increased volume — and recently, the character limits — of tweets since the project began in 2010. Twitter gifted the Library with an archive of every public tweet from its launch in 2006 through 2010. Since then, the Library has continued to receive most tweets from Twitter — missing are images, videos and any linked content. The Library explained that tweets are “often more visual than textual, limiting the value of text-only collecting.” In a white paper explaining the decision, the Library mainly cited Twitter’s growth and evolution since 2010. “The volume of tweets and related transactions has evolved and increased dramati...

Residents in high-tax states rush to file property taxes before new rules take effect

Homeowners in high-tax states are scrambling to prepay their 2018 property taxes this year before President Donald Trump’s overhaul goes into effect. Residents in New York, like others around the country, are rushing to file because the new tax code, signed into law last week, limits the amount of state and local taxes people can deduct on their federal returns, according to Donald Clavin, town receiver of taxes in Hempstead, New York. The change could cost some homeowners, especially those in high-tax states, thousands of dollars. “Under the new federal tax code, many Long Islanders are going to lose out on valuable tax deductions,” Clavin wrote in a statement Tuesday. “In our office, we’ve helped a significant number of taxpayers during the holiday season who are seeking to get the ‘gift...

‘MTV Unplugged’ Co-Creator Jim Burns Dies

Jim Burns, who co-created the long-running acoustic performance series MTV Unplugged alongside Robert Small in 1989, has died, a person close to his family confirmed to Billboard. He was 65. Burns had been in the hospital since Saturday (Dec. 23). That morning, while walking his dog on Fifth Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, he was hit by a yellow taxi cab, according to the New York Post, and taken to New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center in critical condition. This afternoon, the person confirmed that Burns had passed. In Unplugged, Burns and Small created one of the enduring and iconic legacy series in MTV’s history, with a first season that featured the likes of Aerosmith, Elton John and Stevie Ray Vaughan putting aside their electric instruments for stripp...

Amazon Holiday Stats: Jingle Bells, Echo Sells, You All Streamed Bublé

Our Amazon overlords had yet another stellar holiday shopping season, with the retail-and-tech giant selling millions more Alexa-enabled devices than last year and seeing a major bump — to the tune of four million signups in one week alone — in Prime memberships through a last-minute free trial period. The Seattle-based company released a bulky, bulleted list of seasonal highlights on Tuesday, with many revolved around the rising popularity of the Echo family of products. How do we know people are into Alexa? Amazon said the Echo Dot was the No. 1-selling product from any manufacturer in any category across Amazon, with several members of the Echo family (Spot, Dot and Buttons) selling out completely at various points. The numbers-averse company doesn’t release actual sal...

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