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July 30, 2015

Microsoft is working on streaming PC games to Xbox One

Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system debuts today, enabling Xbox One game streaming to PCs. While that’s a neat feature for Xbox One owners, Microsoft is working on streaming PC games to Xbox One consoles too. In an interview with The Verge, Microsoft’s head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, reveals the company is working on the feature. “We understand if you’re going to go PC to Xbox, we need to get keyboard and mouse working completely so you could play those games,” explains Spencer. “In terms of where we want to go with our platform, those are absolutely in scope of things that we want to do.”

“CHALLENGE IS GOOD.”

The real challenge of getting PC to Xbox game streaming working is encoding games and having the right amount of bandwidth to stream them to the Xbox One. Streaming from Xbox One to Windows 10 PCs is a lot more predictable “because we know exactly what you have,” says Spencer. “It’s actually a little more challenging doing the encoding on the PC side to the Xbox, but challenge is good.” There’s no timeline on when this might arrive, but it’s clearly a challenge Microsoft is willing to tackle.

It’s early days for Xbox and Windows integration, but if the Xbox app is anything to go by then the future of gaming on Windows 10 is going to be interesting. “[Gamers] want to play games on the device that they want to play on. They want to play with their friends and they progress whenever they sit down,” explains Spencer. “Because of that, the roadmap and our focus on what’s going on, Windows is incredibly strong.”

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May 16, 2015

CBS’s Video Streaming Service Now Offers Live TV In Over 60% Of The U.S.

CBS’s on-demand video streaming service will now offer local, live TV feeds which cover over 60% of the U.S., the company announced this morning. CBS All Access, the network’s over-the-top streaming video service, has long attempted to differentiate itself from competitors like Netflix by making live linear feeds from local CBS stations available to the service’s subscribers. That means that, in many markets, CBS All Access customers would be able to watch locally syndicated series, newscasts, and other content beyond the CBS-provided programming. However, access to these live streams have been limited to select markets and stations.

When the service launched last October, CBS was only making linear feeds available from its 14 owned and operated stations. That provided coverage in a number of major markets, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

But the company said that the larger plan was to bring its affiliate stations into the fold in the future. Earlier this month, CBS announced a significant expansion on that front, saying that it had set deals with 12 affiliate stations representing 56 markets. These stations would distribute CBS All Access in their markets starting in April. But the key piece to these deals is that those stations agreed to offer live streams to CBS All Access subscribers.

Today, CBS is says it has now added another 13 additional affiliates on top of the 12 added in April and the initial 14 CBS-owned stations. Combined, that brings the live, linear TV feeds to 64% of U.S. households, covering 94 markets in total.

Today’s additions bring in several notable markets, including Seattle, Raleigh-Durham, San Diego, Oklahoma City, Santa Barbara, Wilmington, Palm Springs and Wichita. The previous 12, meanwhile, saw the live TV service going online in many mid-sized markets like Atlanta, Phoenix, Orlando, Cleveland, Columbus, St. Louis, Charlotte, Hartford, Kansas City and Las Vegas.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.26.41 AM

CBS doesn’t disclose the number of subscribers it has for CBS All Access, which is $5.99 per month and offers access to nearly 7,000 episodes of CBS programming which can be streamed online at CBS.com, via mobile apps for iOS and Android, via its Roku channel, and now, Chromecast, too. The subscription service provides on-demand access to current seasons and past seasons of popular CBS shows, like The Good Wife and Blue Bloods, as well as older programs like CSI:Miami and MacGyver. New episodes of currently airing shows arrive on the service next-day.

But the advantage of the live TV feeds is that it means viewers don’t necessarily have to wait until the following day to watch their favorite shows or other special events – they can tune in and watch live TV, almost as if they had a cable TV subscription. However, the downside to this over-the-top play is that CBS doesn’t have the rights to stream some sporting events, like the NFL Playoff games, or other big specials, like the Grammy’s, for example.

The network has notably withheld from sharing much of its content with streaming services like Hulu, as it doesn’t have an equity stake in the service, which is jointly owned by NBCUniversal, Fox, and Disney-ABC. That means today, Hulu only offers back catalog CBS classics like I Love Lucy, Star Trek and Twin Peaks, for example. That has limited access to CBS programming in the on-demand world. And CBS just previewed at its upfront presentation yesterday a new drama Supergirl that could be a potential hit and a draw for its streaming service.

With CBS All Access, the idea is to share the revenue from the subscription fee with the affiliate stations in exchange for their live feeds – something that sets it apart from the other on-demand services available today. It’s basically a hybrid of a true on-demand service like Netflix combined with a live TV streaming service like Dish’s Sling TV.

CBS says it’s still in the process of bringing on affiliates, which indicates that its plan is to eventually offer live TV feeds for most of the U.S.Security Alarm
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Samsung Wallet to be discontinued on June 30th

With Samsung Pay’s launch inching closer and closer, the Korean manufacturer has decided to shut down the Samsung Wallet service. Samsung is currently emailing all Samsung Wallet users that the service will be discontinued on June 30th; it’s not saying what the reason is, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the reason is the company’s upcoming payment service.

Any tickets or reservations made by users through Samsung Wallet will be available after its termination, but everything else (like creating new reservations) will be disabled post June 30th. We’re not exactly sure how many users Samsung Wallet has out there, but it’s discontinuation is no doubt going to irk a few folks, but given Samsung’s ambitious plans for Samsung Pay, it’s not surprising that its wallet service will be shut down.

Here’s the email Samsung is sending out to users.

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May 15, 2015

dreambox dm7080 and dreambox dm820 Satellite TV Programming list

Satellite TV providers get programming from two major sources: national turnaround channels (such as HBO, ESPN and CNN) and various local channels (the ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS affiliates in a particular area). Most of the turnaround channels also provide programming for cable TV, and the local channels typically broadcast their programming over the airwaves.

Turnaround channels usually have a distribution center that beams their programming to a geosynchronous satellite. The broadcast center uses large satellite dishes to pick up these analog and digital signals from several sources.

Most local stations don’t transmit their programming to satellites, so the provider has to get it another way. If the provider includes local programming in a particular area, it will have a small local facility consisting of a few racks of communications equipment. The equipment receives local signals directly from the broadcaster through fiber-optic cableor an antenna and then transmits them to the central broadcast center.

The broadcast center converts all of this programming into a high-quality, uncompressed digital stream. At this point, the stream contains a vast quantity of data — about 270 megabits per second (Mbps) for each channel. In order to transmit the signal from there, the broadcast center has to compress it. Otherwise, it would be too big for the satellite to handle. In the next section, we’ll find out how the signal is compressedSecurity Alarm
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May 14, 2015

Optical Turnstiles from Smarter Security Chosen to Secure Large Energy Company Building

Smarter Security, Inc., provider of premium, innovative entrance control and outdoor security solutions, today announced a top ten energy company selected Fastlane Glassgate® 200 optical turnstiles for a facility in the northeast. After switching to Fastlane from a competitor, this will be the second installation for this customer as it moves to strengthen entry security in buildings in many parts of the country.

“We have enjoyed great success in helping to secure energy companies in recent years, and we are pleased to continue our relationship with this organization,” said Jeff Brown, CEO of Smarter Security. “Energy is a critically important industry in the global economy and with this position comes a higher threat level. Fastlane IP turnstiles help neutralize these threats for many Fortune 100 companies, which is a testament to the superior entrance security they deliver.”

The energy company ordered four lanes of Fastlane Glassgate 200 from Smarter Security to secure the main lobby and a second entrance for a building in the northeast United States. After a disappointing experience with a competitor, the customer purchased Glassgate 200 for a different building last year and this experience led to the latest order of the same model. The aesthetics of Glassgate 200 were an initial draw and the reliability after nearly a year of running them is appealing today. The barriers for this latest order are 5-feet high to deter people from jumping over them and are equipped with a locking brake to obstruct unauthorized access when the entrances are unstaffed. To avoid coring the floor of this older building, the customer ordered Fastlane floor protectors.

Smarter Security’s Fastlane Glassgate 200 is an IP-enabled optical turnstile with swinging glass barriers available in three different heights. The barriers quickly open in the direction of travel for authenticated users and can remain open for other authenticated workers to provide the fastest throughput speed in the industry. Tailgaters passing through the open barriers are alarmed while objects carried, pushed or pulled cause no alarm due to intelligent Fastlane optical technology. An electromechanical locking brake is a high-security option that prevents unauthorized users from pushing past closed barriers.

About Smarter Security, Inc.
Smarter Security provides premium and innovative entrance control and outdoor security solutions to help organizations protect their people and assets in a world of ever-present threats. Since 1992, Smarter Security has offered Fastlane turnstiles, the most elegant and intelligent optical turnstiles available, which protect thousands of commercial and governmental lobbies on six continents. Smarter Security also offers perimeter intrusion detection systems, including SmarterFence, a fiber optic fence-mounted sensor. For more informationSecurity Alarm
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How Car Alarms Work

How Car Alarms Work

Many- car thieves aren’t after your entire car; they’re after individual pieces of it. These car strippers can do a lot of their work without ever opening a door or window. And a thief armed with a tow truck can just lift up your car and drag the entire thing away.
There are several good ways for a security system to keep tabs on what’s going on outside the car. Some alarm systems include perimeter scanners, devices that monitor what happens immediately around the car. The most common perimeter scanner is a basic radar system, consisting of a radio transmitter and receiver. The transmitter sends out radio signals and the receiver monitors the signal reflections that come back. Based on this information, the radar device can determine the proximity of any surrounding object. (See How Radar Works for more information.)
To protect against car thieves with tow trucks, some alarm system have “tilt detectors.” The basic design of a tilt detector is a series of mercury switches. A mercury switch is made up of two electrical wires and a ball of mercury positioned inside a contained cylinder.
Mercury is a liquid metal — it flows like water, but it conducts electricity like a solid metal. In a mercury switch, one wire (let’s call it wire A) goes all the way across the bottom of the cylinder, while the other wire (wire extends only part way from one side. The mercury is always in contact with wire A, but it may break contact with wire B.
When the cylinder tilts one way, the mercury shifts so that it comes into contact with wire B. This closes the circuit running through the mercury switch. When the cylinder tilts the other way, the mercury rolls away from the second wire, opening the circuit.
In some designs, only the tip of wire B is exposed, and the mercury must be in contact with the tip in order to close a switch. Tilting the mercury switch either way will open the circuit.

Car alarm tilt sensors typically have an array of mercury switches positioned at varying angles. Some of them are in the closed position when you’re parked at any particular slant, and some of them are in the open position. If a thief changes the angle of your car (by lifting it with a tow truck or hiking it up with a jack, for example), some of the closed switches open and some of the open switches close. If any of the switches are thrown, the central brain knows that someone is lifting the car.
In different situations, all of these alarm systems might cover the same ground. For example, if someone is towing your car away, the mercury switches, the shock sensor and the radar sensor will all register that there is a problem. But different combinations of alarm triggers may indicate different events. “Intelligent” alarm system have brains that react differently depending on the combination of information they receive from the sensors.
In the next section, we’ll look at some of the alarm responses the brain might trigger under different circumstances.
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March 31, 2015

Lightning strike electrifies tribal community’s mission to improve technology, empower its citizens

In the spring of 2012, an electrical storm blew in from Lake Michigan, making landfall along its southwest shores and sweeping across the traditional homeland of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. High winds and the lightning-filled clouds they carried encountered little resistance across the band’s sparsely populated 4,700 acres, until they reached Matt Clay’s first big project as the new information technology director for the group: three towers with microwave radios.

“We were still testing the equipment when the lightning struck, blowing out one tower and our entire disaster recovery server room,” says Clay, now director of health services for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. “In one second, the entire tribal government was shut down and we realized our disaster recovery site was not operable. We worked all night and got things up and running the next day. It was a terrible experience; however, we learned a great deal about our infrastructure.”

Hear more about the storm that shut down the disaster recovery center.

The lightning strike galvanized Clay’s resolve to make the tribe’s technology department one of the best in the United States — a goal motivated by his commitment to the Pokagon community and its journey to self-governance. For Clay and his team, this meant introducing technology that tribal government employees could trust. To win that trust, the technology had to be reliable, efficient and easy to use.

“Because our infrastructure was so outdated and our systems didn’t perform well, people avoided using computers as an integral part of their work. The Education Department only used paper forms. Our Finance Department was reluctant to accept digital workflows,” Clay explains. “People called rather than emailed — no wonder, with only six megabytes of bandwidth, our email service and VOIP were not fast or reliable. I reasoned that if we get tribal government employees to work better with technology, the community could increase control over how we deliver services and govern our people.”

Matt Clay, director of health services for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi
Matt Clay, director of health services for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi

In the last three years, the tribal government has taken this concept to heart. Today, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi is running on modern software and hardware that supports efficient government programs that touch almost every area of a citizen’s life, including health, education and Elders services.

Clay began by asking the Pokagon’s Microsoft account manager to recommend a partner to help the band rebuild its IT foundation. That request resulted in a five-year plan that Clay presented to the Tribal Council and a partnership with Planet Technologies.

“Matt and his team clearly understood that you have to get the core infrastructure in place before you can start building services for citizens,” says Andrew Kagan, chief technology officer at Planet Technologies. “They introduced virtualization and automated management in the data center before focusing on applications and cloud-based productivity tools. They’ve done great work.”

It is work that affects everyone. From economic development to improving healthcare, housing, education and Elders services, all facets of Pokagon community life have been influenced by the new technology. That’s one reason that Beth Edelberg loves her job: As enrollment coordinator for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, she uses Microsoft customer relationship management software to enroll approximately 12 new members a month and to ensure all 4,934 tribal citizens receive the services to which they are entitled.

Pokagon Enrollment Coordinator Beth Edelberg enters information from a tribal citizen’s ID badge into the new system.
Pokagon Enrollment Coordinator Beth Edelberg enters information from a tribal citizen’s ID badge into the new system.

“I think of myself as the main gatekeeper to the tribal records, and as a Pokagon, I love the genealogical aspect of my work,” she says.

This morning, she’s replaced an ID badge for a tribal citizen who recently moved. Instead of searching through paper files, she clicks on the person’s name, makes the edit and prints out a badge in less than three minutes. Next, she accesses data from the records and completes a report for the director of social services who asked for the names of all citizens who turned 55 in the last four months so they can sign up for Elders services. “Being able to share data quickly with other departments is really beneficial,” she says. “I used to copy documents and walk around the building. This saves time and paper.”

Closer collaboration between departments is also helping the Tribal Council make progress with pressing social challenges. Down the hall from Edelberg, Sam Morseau, director of the department of education, accesses the same database that his colleague uses. He’s examining data using dashboards and key performance indicators that are available on the community’s new collaboration platform. This makes his quarterly reports to the Tribal Council easier, while helping Morseau develop new services.

A microwave tower like the one that was struck on tribal land during the electrical storm.
A microwave tower like the one that was struck on tribal land during the electrical storm.

“We are addressing areas where we see gaps, such as early childhood education programs that introduce cultural traditions and services for Elders,” he says. “And technology is an integral part of these programs. Currently the Department of Language and Culture is creating an app that can be used on tablets for students to learn the Bodwéwadmimwen native Potawatomi language without being in the classroom. We created an online library and delivered Kindles to our Elders who live remotely. Now they request books and we download them to their e-readers.”

But it’s out in the field where educational associates make the most out of the new technology, such as cloud-based communication and collaboration services like Microsoft SharePoint and Lync, as well as the latest mobile devices. The Pokagon Band has a 10-county service area. Now, it doesn’t matter if an educational associate is six hours away from the office, they carry Surface Pro tablets into schools for independent education plan meetings and can take notes to share with colleagues on online team sites or access their educational resources from online storage wherever they are.

“Yesterday, a citizen came in asking for help in completing his GED certificate,” says Morseau. “Our continuing education associate was at a correctional facility helping a student prepare for the test, so I sent her a quick text using our cloud-based IM service and she responded with the answers immediately, so I was able to help her right there in the office. This level of collaboration on behalf of our citizens creates a sense of community and efficiency that shows the tribal government really cares.”

At about the same time Morseau was talking about raising graduation rates, Melody Pillow, a medical social worker for Pokagon Health Services, got into her car with her tablet and a mobile hotspot solution. Equipped with all the tools she needs to be productive anywhere, she’s anticipating spending most of her day on the road.  First stop is the home of a citizen with disabilities who wants to apply for Medicaid.

“I’ve reduced the time it takes for an applicant to begin receiving Medicaid by half,” she says. “I use my tablet to access the application forms online and to take pictures of documents and upload them so the application is complete and ready for an eligibility check right then and there. It sure beats mailing in forms and waiting for weeks.”

Melody Pillow, a medical social worker for Pokagon Health Services, uses her tablet to access information while in the field.
Melody Pillow, a medical social worker for Pokagon Health Services, uses her tablet to access information while in the field.

On the way to visit a family with a son newly diagnosed with autism, she fields a call from a citizen asking for help in applying for an exemption for American Indians who purchase coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. When she reaches her destination, she takes a moment in the car to email the citizen a link with more information and copies of the correct form.

After greeting the parents and visiting with their son, Pillow uses her tablet as an educational tool to help the family understand their child’s diagnosis. “We access YouTube videos and educational links and then I help the parents apply for social services disability,” she says. “I can immediately process the application online because I have instant access to the boy’s medical records. Everything is HIPAA compliant and patient data is encrypted. I upload the documents and instead of waiting months with the paper-based process, the family will receive their son’s disability eligibility next month. It will be a great relief to the parents to know that their son can attend a specialized school for children with autism. ”

Back at home that evening, Pillow and her colleagues put the final touches on an informational brochure about the Affordable HealthCare Act. “We edited the document in real time using the web version of Microsoft Word so we didn’t have to be together in the same room,” she says. “I came back to work with the tribe because I grew up here in Dowagiac and I wanted to give back to the community. With the technology tools I have, it’s easy to help make a difference in people’s lives.”

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Amazon launches Home Services to sell everything from an oil change to piano lessons

Amazon started out as an online bookstore, but has since expanded into selling almost any physical goods you can think of. But the company believes a lot of the stuff people buy on Amazon are things they could actually use help assembling, installing, or learning to enjoy. “We have 85 million Amazon customers who have shopped for products this past year that often require a service afterwards,” said Peter Faricy, vice president for Amazon Marketplace. “Things like TVs, toilets, and sinks.” Today, the company is launching a new section in the US, Home Services, where customers can shop for professional help. It’s launching with 700 different services, from the ordinary to the esoteric, everything from installing a garbage disposal to renting you a goat herd that will graze away the unwanted vegetation on your property.

A big part of the sales pitch from Amazon is that they are doing the hard work of figuring out who you can trust. “We’re very excited to see if we can solve what today is a real pain point. It’s tough to quickly find someone who is qualified,” says Faricy. Amazon says it accepts an average of three out of every 100 service professionals in each metro area. It makes sure each business is licensed, insured, and passes a five-point background check, with a further six-point background check for each technician. You will never need to worry about hiring a sub-par goat grazer again.

The second half of Amazon’s promise is speed and transparency. The marketing materials claim it takes 60 seconds to buy a service, regardless of whether that is deck repair, house cleaning, or hedge trimming. “We really make something transparent for customers which is difficult today,” says Faricy. “We have standardized and prepackaged all of our service offerings. So you know exactly what is going to be done and how much it’s going to cost you, up front, no surprises.”

That sounds nice, although it seems likely that many of these services won’t be so easy to fit into just a few multiple choice questions. “They’re shoehorning local services into the same way they treat other products,” Thumbtack CEO Marco Zappacosta toldForbes.”But what about building a deck? Your deck is going to be different than my deck and your backyard is going to be different than my backyard.”

 

amazon home services map

 

One thing that Home Services hopes to help customers avoid is the up-selling and haggling over price that can come with a lot of service work. Faricy says that all the billing will run through Amazon, and that the provider only gets paid after the finished job has been confirmed. During the beta test, there were reports of customers who had issues with a surprise charge on their bill, which Amazon eventually resolved after a lengthy back and forth. Amazon takes a cut of each service fee, and while they wouldn’t share exactly what the split is, language from the beta version of the website shows Amazon taking 20 percent on standard services, 15 percent on custom, and 10 percent on recurring.

Faricy says that the majority of the labor available on the market will be small, local providers, but Home Services is also integrating with startups like TaskRabbit as well as national chains like Pep Boys. Before today, Amazon was beta testing this offering in Seattle, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. As of today, it will be available in 41 states, with the goal of providing strong coverage across the thirty biggest metro areas in the US. As for how big this business could be, Faricy points out that independent researchshows consumers typically spend four times as much on services as physical goods, meaning a major new revenue stream for Amazon if Home Services is a success.

Microsoft rolls out first Windows 10 preview with ‘Spartan’ browser

Today’s Windows 10 Desktop preview is the second Microsoft has made available to testers in March, and the fourth Windows 10 Desktop build the company has released as of October 1, 2014.

Like Windows 10 Desktop — which runs on PCs, laptops and tablets — Spartan is still not feature-complete at this point. The first Spartan preview does, however, include most of the functionality that Microsoft execs showed off on January 21 during an early demo of Spartan as part of a Windows 10 press event.

Specifically, the integration between Spartan and Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant, is in today’s Windows 10 release, as is the “Ask Cortana” user assistance technology. The ability to annotate Web pages with a pen or mouse is included in today’s Spartan build. Users can share annotated Web pages using this new “Web Note” technology and view the annotated pages in a variety of browsers.

The new Reading View, which allows users to view content with fewer distractions and/or save it for later, also is in Spartan in today’s new test build. (The ability to read saved content offline is not yet enabled in today’s test build.)

Today’s Windows 10 Desktop build includes the browsing rendering engine changes Microsoft officials outlined last week.

The Spartan browser, which will be pinned to the Windows 10 Desktop task bar, includes only the new “Edge” rendering engine. At the same time, IE 11, which also is bundled with the Windows 10 Desktop, includes only the “Trident” (MSHTML) rendering engine — not both the Edge and Trident ones — and is there for backwards compatibility. IE 11 is not pinned to the task bar in Windows 10 Desktop, but it is still meant to be readily discoverable and usable (and pinnable, if users want to do so).

There are a few bug fixes in today’s new Windows 10 Desktop build but no other noteworthy new features beyond Spartan.

 

Microsoft officials said over the weekend that the company is working on the next test release of Windows 10 Mobile, which is on track to support the majority of Lumia Windows Phones. Gabe Aul, the head of the Windows Insiders program, said on March 27 that Microsoft probably had at least one more week’s worth of engineering/testing work to do on what will be the second public test build of Windows 10 Mobile before releasing it to testers.

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Gmail for Android updated with unified inbox view, conversation view for non-Gmail accounts, smarter search

At a press conference in New York City this afternoon, Jay Z and a huge group of musical stars took the stage to officially relaunch TIDAL, the streaming music service he recently acquired as part of a $56 million deal. The rallying cry was a service that would “turn the tide” and restore the value to music by launching a service owned by artists. Coldplay, Rihanna, Daft Punk, Alicia Keys, Calvin Harris, Jack White, Madonna, Usher, Arcade Fire, Deadmau5, and Beyoncé joined Jay Z in the owners circle. He is reportedly offering millions of dollars and an equity stake to artists who join him.

 

urn the tide against what exactly? The unspoken enemies are services like Spotify that offer streaming music for free, supported by advertising. Many artists have accused it of paying only a pittance for the rights to stream their music. TIDAL, by contrast, has promised to pay double the standard streaming royalties, a promise it confirmed with The Verge this afternoon. It’s framing itself as a sort of United Artists for the streaming era, a business built in opposition to tech companies that traffic in ads. That sounds like a huge difference, but of course there are some caveats.

Before today, that premium tier was the only one TIDAL offered. This morning it introduced a $9.99 service with standard definition audio, which will pay just the standard royalty rates. The double royalties only get paid on streams for customers who sign up for the $19.99 plan, which promises higher quality audio files, but is twice the cost of a typical Spotify subscription. In other words TIDAL is bound by the same economics as its competitors, but it choose to move up the food chain, away from the free ad-supported tier that pay the least per stream.

The larger argument is over what will be a better business in the long run. Spotify has always argued that offering a free tier helps to build the biggest audience, and that over time more of those people will switch to the paid version. It has gotten to more than 60 million customers this way, 15 million of whom pay. Tidal, by contrast, has only around 17,000 paying subscribers.

It’s easy to understand artists’ frustration and skepticism. The US music industry generates roughly half the annual revenue it did back in 1999. And while there are tens of millions of people listening to Spotify, the revenue from ad supported streaming is smaller than that generated by sales of vinyl records.

The simple truth remains, however, that streaming music is the industry’s best bet for growth. Artists seem to grasp that, but want to make sure that it’s paid streaming, where the economics are better for them. That business now generates more money than CDs.

The battle over how best to build the music business — and best for whom — is going to get very heated over the next year. Taylor Swift’s departure from Spotify was a big moment, and TIDAL’s move to capture exclusives and better reward artists is another. And behind most of these artists are record labels who often negotiate the deals with streaming services and write the checks for the artists only after taking their cut. Where those power players fit into this new “artist owned” service isn’t clear, but they often have control over where an artist’s music can appear. In an interview with Billboard, Jay Z acknowledged that many label executives were suspicious of what he was attempting to do with TIDAL.

The elephant in the room is Apple, which has plans to relaunch both its Beats streaming service and to integrate it with the iTunes music store. Apple reportedly also plans to eliminate the option of a free tier. If there is any company on earth that can afford to pay a premium to woo artists and win exclusives, it would be the world’s richest and most profitable corporation.

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