Mindsets Music

This is why honest users pirate music

I’ve been an eMusic subscriber for years. It has been one of the few pretty decent legal music download services available to us South Africans. This morning I browsed to the page to see if some music that interests me is available there and this little page loaded:

EMusic licensing revelation

This licensing restrictions issue is why iTunes and Amazon MP3 are not available (legally, at least) to us South Africans. This is the music industry working overtime to preserve a business model that is rapidly becoming irrelevant except where the industry artificially constricts and shapes demand for its content.

Like many people who buy a fair amount of music, I don’t use physical media anymore. I have an iPhone, iPod Touch, my MacBook and all my CDs from back in the day are packed up in boxes somewhere. I listen to all my music digitally and while the audio quality isn’t as good as some might like, its perfect for me. The music industry would have me carry my CDs around with me and listen only to those CDs. That is utter bullshit and more appropriate for the 20th century.

When faced with digital alternatives to its current business models, the music industry points to piracy and how the artists are being raped by all these terrible consumers pirating their music. The artists are the music industry’s last priority, its all about making as much money as they possibly can and maintaining as much control as they can as the copyright owners. The artists tend to be screwed over by the labels who offer to sign them as if they would be anointed by some divine authority. In fact, very few artists actually benefit meaningfully from being signed. They would probably be better off developing their own distribution channels and marketing their music on more flexible terms.

When it comes to music piracy, the people who have no interest in paying for music never will. Those of us who really want to support the artists (in theory) or who don’t want to torrent music are prepared to pay but not for a stupid piece of plastic that is irrelevant to how we listen to our music every day. We want legal music download services with good quality music, at a reasonable price and for our devices of choice. The music industry isn’t interested in providing that [Update: change is happening]. So that leaves otherwise honest consumers frustrated and disinterested in supporting an industry that seems intent on fucking them. BitTorrent is just a few searches away and the labels lose more money.

Good job!

Entertainment Music

The truth about cheap flights

The next time you are shopping for cheap flights, remember this little diddy:

For more, check out Fascinating Aida’s site.

Update: Here is another goodie:

Business and work Mindsets Music

How to cultivate lifelong fans

This is fantastic:

A fan shouted up to Paul Simon that she learned to play the guitar using this song. “Come on up here and play it on my guitar,” he told her.

This is what happened next:

(Source: Roger Ebert’s Journal)

Entertainment Music Photography

Music to make food by

Kitchen Radio

We have an unwritten and evolving list of things we would like to do ay home. I am sure most people do. One of the things I would love to do is install some sort of system where we can play great sounding music in every room of the house and be able to pick the music for whichever room we are in (I’m not sure what is available but I noticed that Sonos does something like this).

My wife and I were making supper together last night (something we don’t do often and, at the same time, probably should) and I had some Fleetwood Mac (one of my all-time favourite bands – mostly love songs and daddy issues with a couple miscellaneous themes thrown in) playing on my iPhone while we were preparing/cooking. It changed the kitchen’s atmosphere and made supper’s preparation fun and not just something to get through as quickly as possible.

I remember when I still lived with my parents in their previous house my Dad used to turn the hifi on to some radio station on weekends, especially when we had people over for a braai or something. The lounge opened onto a veranda of sorts which led to the garden. It was a terrific layout and the top 40 in the background filled the space. I also like the experience of moving from outside where you are in a sort of social context with friends and family around a braai, pool or something, through this music in the lounge and into the kitchen for whatever reason and back out again. Its almost like the music connects the food with the social and provides a memorable background soundtrack for the memories.

Image credit: Kitchen radio by lurw, licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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).

HTDA 1.png

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.

HTDA 3.png

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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