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In Brief

And the Chromecast apps keeping coming: Music subscription service Rhapsody added Chromecast support to its Android app this week, making it possible for users to cast any of its 32+ million songs to the TV. Chromecast support also popped up in Rhapsody’s Napster app, which is available in a number of European countries. Rhapsody’s embrace of Chromecast comes just days after Rdio rolled out its support for Google’s streaming stick. Competitor Beats Music has said that it wants to support Chromecast in the future as well, but Spotify is still non-committal.

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In Brief

Neil Young’s high-definition portable music player Pono is just about $34,000 shy of hitting $5 million in pledged contributions on Kickstarter, and the project still has 17 days to go. Pono surpassed its $800,000 funding goal on day one, and is now the fourth-most successful Kickstarter project ever in terms of money raised, just behind the Veronica Mars movie, the Ouya game console and the Pebble smart watch.

On The Web

Amazon has been floating the idea of an ad-supported video offering, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The service would be separate from its Prime Instant video service and not require viewers to have a Prime subscription. There are few details about what kind of content Amazon would make available through such a service, but the company apparently at one point considered to make some of its original content available outside of the Prime paywall. However, an Amazon spokesperson has since told Variety that it tests many things, but has no plans to launch such a service. Coincidentally, Amazon is also looking to launch a TV streaming device next week.

This post was updated on 03/28 with Amazon’s response.

In Brief

Last.fm, the CBS-owned digital music outlet, will close down its streaming radio product by the end of April (hat tip to Engadget). Last.fm announced in its forums Tuesday that it wants to concentrate on “scrobbling”, meaning music recognition and recommendation, going forward, and that it will rely on YouTube and Spotify for its music player. The move was widely expected after Last.fm rolled out a YouTube-based radio player in January.

In Brief

Remember the time De La Soul offered all of its albums as free downloads — only to see the server hosting those downloads go down under the load of excited fans? That won’t happen with the pioneering Hip Hop group’s new digital project: De La Soul has teamed up with BitTorrent to release a new mixtape called Smell the DA.I.S.Y. as a free BitTorrent bundle download. The release is in support of the J Dilla Foundation, which supports music programs in inner-city schools.

In Brief

Major League Baseball’s MLB.tv launched on Microsoft’s Xbox One Tuesday, giving users of Microsoft’s new game console a way to watch live baseball games as well as replay full games from the archives. As always, blackout rules apply, and users need to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription as well as a MLB.tv Premium subscription — but if you are a cord cutter who want to follow your team from back home, this may be the best way to do it.

In Brief

Roku just launched version 3.0 of is remote control app for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire, and the new app doesn’t just look better, it also offers universal search for movies and TV shows across Roku channels. It’s a feature that Roku introduced for its set-top boxes last year, but it makes even more sense on the mobile, where text input is easier to handle. As before, the apps also support local content playback.

On The Web

Well this is interesting: Lip sync videos and other fan adaptations of pop hits make record labels more money that the official music videos produced by the labels themselves, according to a report by the Toronto Star (hat tip to hypebot). The paper quotes Universal’s global head of digital business saying calling fan videos a massive growth area, and adding: “We’re very excited about the creativity of consumers using our repertoire and creating their own versions of our videos.” The flow of money is largely due to the fact that YouTube gives record labels the option to monetize third-party videos that use their music, instead of taking them down.

In Brief

Google just rolled out its Play Movies service, which offers Hollywood Blockbusters for rent or sale, in a whole bunch of additional countries — 39, to be precise, including a number of countries in Central and South America, Europe and Africa. This means that Google Play Movies is now available in about 60 countries around the world. However, TV show episodes are still just available in Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, United States.

In Brief

Longtime Pandora CTO and SVP of Product Tom Conrad is leaving: Conrad announced with a blog post Tuesday that he will be “transitioning to an adviser role” in three months, which is corporate speak for leaving, but on good terms. Former Pandora VP of Engineering Chris Martin has been promoted to Chief Technology Officer, and the company has started to look for a Chief Product Officer. Conrad can be credited for shaping Pandora’s technology strategy, which involved an early focus on mobile, and more recently, an embrace of open standards for connected TV and whole-home audio platforms.

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