Anastasia Tsioulcas

For consumers, "free" is rarely ever free — especially when it comes to social media and other online platforms. In exchange for utilizing services like Facebook, for example, users allow information about themselves — everything from their ages and zip codes to the particular products, services and companies they like — to be collected, sliced, diced, and sometimes given to other advertisers, who pay for access to that information.

Sick of getting your view blocked at live shows by people holding up their phones? Apple was granted a patent yesterday for technology that can disable those cameras — at least in specific places.

When we invited the band Mashrou' Leila to come play at the Tiny Desk, we couldn't have foreseen the timing.

The group arrived at our office the morning after the horrific June 12 shootings in Orlando at the gay nightclub Pulse. We were all collectively reeling from the news, and for this rock band from Beirut, Lebanon, the attack hung very heavily.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

Since it was founded by cellist Yo-Yo Ma 16 years ago, the Silk Road Ensemble — an artistic collective comprised of master musicians and other artists from more than 20 countries, spanning the globe — has become an incubator for inspiring cross-cultural collaborations.

Director Morgan Neville made one of the most memorable music documentaries in recent times. His 2013 film 20 Feet from Stardom, for which he won an Oscar and a Grammy, chronicled the paths of five undersung rock heroes: the backup singers who enlivened some of popular music's biggest hits.

It's not quite right to say the news came as a shock when the Metropolitan Opera announced Thursday that Yannick Nézet-Séguin would become the house's new music director, beginning in the 2020-21 season. He follows in the footsteps of James Levine, who said in April that he was stepping down after leading the Met for four decades.

Looking for a musically sensitive, responsive bandmate? Maybe you should try out Shimon.

One of the world's best-known and best-loved classical musicians has joined the ranks of artists refusing to perform in North Carolina. Violinist Itzhak Perlman canceled an appearance scheduled for Wednesday with the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh to protest HB2, the controversial North Carolina law limiting civil rights protections for LGBT people.

In her song "American Oxygen," Rihanna sings, "On the other side of the ocean, you can be anything at all / in America, America."

Now the pop star and Barbados native is putting some of her money where her mouth is. On Monday she announced on Instagram the launch of a scholarship program to help citizens or natives of Brazil, Barbados, Cuba, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana and Jamaica attend college in the U.S.

In 2014, Sergei Roldugin told the New York Times, "I don't have millions."

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Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

You never know who you're going to meet at a party. In the case of one young man and woman, a Halloween celebration in New York City led not just to a love affair — it became part of the fabric of modern Cuba.

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