Business and work Mindsets Music

Music to tune the savage beast

I just had an interesting discussion with Vincent Hofmann and Roger Saner about work habits and listening to music. They were describing the albums they listen to (or, in Roger’s case, specific songs, when working. I was telling them about my tendency to listen to the Batman soundtracks (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) or the Transformers soundtracks when I do much of my drafting work.

Soni listening to music

We talked a little about why we tend to focus on certain types of music and what it does for us, chatted to Mike Stopforth about how he doesn’t work to music at all (he tends to want to participate in the music he is listening to – Mike is a musician in addition to his many other talents) and then we disbanded and headed back to work.

I had an interesting thought when I popped out of the office: perhaps the music we listen to when working (if we listen), has the effect of tuning our brains for whatever we are doing. It occurs to me that this isn’t as groundbreaking as it sounds as I type this. Using music to influence a mood isn’t exactly uncommon among us humans and perhaps when it comes to choosing music to work to, we are picking the music that tunes us for specific tasks.

I tend not to be too conscious of much of the music I am listening to when I am concentrating and prefer that the music envelope me when I do (hence headphones preferably) and the result is often better focus. Of course there are also days when anything I listen to irritates me and I opt for silence. Not many though.

Image credit: Soni listening to music by Ruben Garcia Mohedano, licensed CC BY NC SA 2.0

Mindsets Music Social Web

Caution about using Apple's Ping in South Africa

I had a thought about Apple’s new music social network, Ping, and a potential risk for South Africans who have hacked US iTunes Store accounts (in other words, people who are using a US iTunes Store account without a legitimate US address and US credit card – similar story with other country stores too, I believe). Those people who have those accounts are almost certainly using them purely for research but this might be worth considering anyway …

Ping seems to use the user’s location to help identify local concerts and other location-based information relating to the service. The thought I had is that using Ping and editing your location to fit your actual location may alert Apple to any incorrect location information which may have been used to create and maintain the account and lead to the account’s termination on the basis of a breach of Apple’s terms of use.

Just a thought …

On the other hand, if you are using Ping, how is it working out for you? I can’t help but think I’d rather stick with even if I was comfortable using Ping.

Oh, another interesting tidbit: anyone notice that Apple is ignoring another established social networking brand with the same name – Loïc le Meur (Seesmic owns is not pleased. I wouldn’t be pleased either.

Mindsets Music

How to Destroy Angels and traditional music business models

How to Destroy Angels is a pretty new band formed by NIN front man, Trent Reznor, his wife Mariqueen Maandig and Atticus Ross in 2010, I believe. I was just browsing through posts on my Tumblr Dashboard and I came across this post on Natasha’s blog about the bands new EP which you can download for free from its site. At first I thought the EP is a new album from NIN but I quickly realised it is another release in NIN’s tradition of giving fans great quality content online (or selling it cheaply).

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Curious about How to Destroy Angels’ music? Simply visit the site, click on the link to download the EP and you will be presented with two options. The first is to download a high quality MP3 version of the 6 track EP for free. The second is to buy the EP as an enhanced downloadable bundle.

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We’ve released our debut 6-track EP as a FREE download, delivered as high-quality DRM-free MP3s. Sign up below for immediate access. For $2, you can upgrade to the HD package, which adds options for lossless audio (24-bit 44.1kHz WAV and 16-bit FLAC and Apple Lossless) and the music video for “The Space in Between” in 1080p and 480p. An immediate download of the HD package is included FREE with any merchandise purchase.

$2 for 6 new high quality tracks and the music video (oh, you can also pick which formats you want the music and video in, including combinations – I opted for the Apple Lossless and 320kbps MP3 audio versions and both the HD and iPod video versions).

While there is no indication on the band’s site whether the music is licensed under Creative Commons like NIN’s recent albums (and in the absence of this sort of indication, you should assume it is fully protected by copyright), the band is taking a very smart step and making its music available to fans in a variety of formats, by download (later in physical formats) and either for free or next to nothing. This model fits our Internet age far better than traditional and more restricted business models. Can it scale across the industry? I don’t know but I know that I bought the album without thinking about it because I want to support it (I’m not even sure if I will even like the music, haven’t tried it yet) and because this is how I want to be able to buy my music from bands I support. Imagine the benefits for the band if my attitude and perceptions represent other fans’ perceptions and attitudes?

NIN did very well off sales of one of its previous albums, Ghosts I-IV ($1.6m in the first week I believe), and I wouldn’t be surprised if How to Destroy Angels enjoys similar success. This band seems to continue Reznor’s work in NIN to make its music more accessible to fans. That is a recipe for loyal and paying fans who believe in supporting the band by paying for music even though it is also available for free.

Business and work Music

Buy the bigger MacBook?

I am going to buy my wife her first Mac this next month and we pretty much settled on the mid-range white MacBook. It goes for about R13 000 which I am ok with. I got myself a black MacBook in October last year and the new, white MacBook is more powerful and will more than cater for her needs.

I have been thinking about a different arrangement too, though. I am running out of HDD space (my 160GB drive is just about full) and the new black MacBook comes with a 250GB HDD so I am considering buying myself a new black MacBook (around R15 000) and giving her my current one so I won’t need to spend around R2 000 to upgrade my current MacBook’s drive (that is roughly the cost of a new drive and labour to install it and move all my stuff across – I won’t even think about attempting that myself). Is it a cheek to give my wife my hand-me-down Macbook?

Speaking of new Macs, man that new iMac is gorgeous and powerful!

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Music People Television

And the winner of American Idol is …

After Melinda was sent home from American Idol, leaving Blake and Jordin to battle it out for the prize, I had to post a follow up here. I was relieved to see that Jordin Sparks has won American Idol (to the extent being number 1 on the show makes a huge difference – Blake and Melinda will probably both have record deals in the coming months anyway). Here she is with her final performance which took her to the top position:

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Music Television

The American Idol final 2 – SPOILER WARNING!!

I just noticed that “Melinda Doolittle” is one of the top 10 search terms in Technorati so I took a look to see what all the fuss is about and it turns out that Melinda has been sent off leaving Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks. This really doesn’t make sense to me. Blake is lucky to have made it this far but to have him remain in the show while Melinda walks is just crazy. Can’t the American public see that Melinda is far more talented than Blake? Just take a look at Melinda’s rendition of Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits” a couple weeks ago:

I suppose it isn’t really a huge problem for Melinda. She is sure to find herself being presented with a few good offers by music labels because she really is that good. She has done an excellent job with every song I have seen her perform. It does make you wonder about the people doing the voting. I really wouldn’t have thought Blake’s beatboxing would be so popular … jeez!

What a way to bugger up a really good song …

As for the final, I’m holding thumbs for Jordin. She really does deserve to be in the final so I hope she wins this.

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Mindsets Music People Web/Tech

Enough to drive a person to piracy

I really dig the Nelly Furtado track “Say it right” and I have been looking for a place I can buy the single from online and I am at a loss.

Nelly Furtado.jpgOh sure the song is on iTunes and I would love to be able to buy it there (along with loads of other music) but the powers that be at Apple have deemed us South Africans unworthy and because I don’t have the right credit card and foreign address details to spoof the system, I am left with very few legal options.

Sure, one option is to just go out there and buy the album … have you seen what these things cost lately? A CD costs R150. Wow! Ok, so I haven’t bought a CD in a while but I really remember when they were a lot cheaper. Another option is to go to a store that sells Windows Media Audio encoded music (shudder!) and buy the song there, rip it to a CD and then import into iTunes (which probably isn’t legal so that isn’t a great option either) but the one local option likely to have the song, Musica, told me that Internet Explorer 7 was the wrong browser for the site (I needed IE 6 or better – just not IE 7) and that was the end of that idea.

So instead we are once again left in this dusty backwater town on the Web, not trusted to buy music from the iTunes store despite what must be the tremendous success of the iPod here in South Africa (witness the iPodcast competition being promoted by Apple SA). This really pisses me off. No wonder some people pirate music, they are not given legal options to buy music online if they are not in a major market. I mean seriously, what does it really cost to open the iTunes Store here (even without the movies and TV series we will get to in 5 years time when our TV networks decide to put them on – another rant) and let us Saffas buy loads of music from the store? Doesn’t Apple like our money? It seems to love our money when we spend it in the Apple store or on Apple products, so why not online, in the iTunes Store where we could rather spend all our money buying music from Apple than from the likes of Look & Listen and Musica?

And you know the worst part of it all? No-one from Apple is going to tell us when we can expect to be blessed with access to the iTunes Store. All we will get is a bland, unhelpful statement that there are no plans to open the iTunes Store in South Africa this century, or at all. Aside from quality issues with recent Apple products, this is the one thing that really brings me to despise Apple on days like this.

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