Tag Archives: music

Compact Disc

IMG_1766Like everyone else, I stopped buying physical CDs for music years ago. The main computer I use these days doesn’t even have an optical drive, and the only use my PC optical drive gets is to occasionally read a CD full of film photo scans every now and again.

But to be honest, I was never a huge buyer of CDs for music or games. My collection of physical media for music and games isn’t anything to write home about, since I’ve always preferred digital downloads. Steam and iTunes have mostly sated my needs for both forms of media.

As with anything, there are a few edge cases.

If there’s a cool “Collector’s Edition” of a game that I’m somewhat into that has cool physical or digital bonuses, then I’ll pick up a copy of the game. It’s kind of how I ended up with two copies of Dishonored. I picked up the PC version of the game first and played through that. I liked it so much that I gave it my game of the year award for 2012 (wow, was it really two years ago?), only to be disappointed there wasn’t a Collector’s Edition of the PC version, which came some super cool, Dishonored-themed tarot cards. I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to have special editions of only the console versions of the game, but a quick trip to eBay later and I was the proud owner of the Dishonored Collector’s Edition — for Xbox 360. I’m pretty sure the game itself is still in the original shrink wrapped packaging.

Which brings us to the point of today’s post, the edge case of buying music on physical CDs. I used to buy CDs from artists that I liked, but gave that up a few years ago when physical media fell out of favour. These days, I pirate or stream pretty much everything, only buying digital when I really, really like the artist and album.

I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift’s 1989 for weeks now, and Shake It Off for months before that, but when I heard about the awesome collection of polaroids included with every copy of the album, it was Dishonored all over again. For the briefest of moments I contemplated buying multiple copies of the album, seeing as there’s actually 65 “Photos from Taylor” you can collect — you get 13 with one copy of the album — but I quickly realised that was a little too crazy. I mean, it’s a good album and all, and Taylor Swift is* incredibly pretty, but buying multiple copies of the album is crazy talk.

And yeah, I had a bit of a look on eBay for just the polaroids, but I couldn’t find anything reasonably priced. They’re also not actual Polaroids, seeing as that would be prohibitively expensive — they’re more photos printed on glossy paper to look like Polaroids, but they’re still insanely cool. I don’t have my favourite lyric from the album in the set that I got, but I’m cool with that, too.

These words part of Blogvember, a thing I just made up right then about getting back into blogging. You can read more words about Blogvember right over here, but the gist is that I'll be attempting to post something up on the blog every day in November 2014. Read other Blogvember posts.

Spotify and Me

Spotify launched in Australia around a month ago, during which I was able to give it a red hot go. I wrote on MacTalk about my experience with the all-singing, all-dancing streaming music service:

On the face of it, Spotify is brilliant. Who doesn’t want a music collection the size of the iTunes Music Store for free? All the big names are on-board: Universal Music Group, EMI, Sony, Warner, and so on. Spotify means that anytime you want to listen to a track — be it something that you’ve just Shazam’d or something you heard on the radio a few days ago, you can open up Spotify, search for your track or artist of choice, and listen to their music, completely free of charge.

[…]

When I first started out, I wasn’t so sure about Spotify, either as an iTunes replacement or as a standalone music ecosystem. I had my doubts about how Spotify could work for me, especially with such a heavy emphasis on the social and music discovery (and it’s not just because I have what some would call an extremely varied music taste, either). The fact that Spotify prioritises the social aspects of music over some of the intelligence of iTunes should give you some idea as to whether Spotify will work for you. Maybe the world doesn’t need to know you love listening Carly Rae Jepsen as much as you do, (which is exactly why there’s a Private Session feature). You can share tracks, artists, albums, or playlists to pretty much anywhere you can think of. There are still things that irk me a bit about the service, such as the fact the range of metadata is paltry, no, basically non-existent, in comparison to iTunes. You don’t get play counts in Spotify, Last Played info, number of skips, or any of that kind of information. It’s basically just track name, artist, time, and album. That’s it.
But you know what? Not having all of that metadata is strangely liberating, too. It means I don’t have to worry about meticulously keeping my library organised, or worry about album art, because Spotify does all of that for me. I get that Spotify isn’t for everyone — if you’re into very specific music genres or particularly obscure stuff (you hipster, you), maybe Spotify isn’t exactly what you’re looking for in a streaming music service. But hey, that’s what the 30-day trial is for, right?

At the end of the day, I’m not sure whether I’ll continue with Spotify or not after my trial is up. It’s a great service, and there’s a lot to love. Being able to look up and play almost every artist I can think of is extremely, extremely cool; it innately satisfies the desire for instant gratification everyone seems to have these days, and perhaps for that reason alone, means that Spotify will be hugely successful. On the other hand, I miss my metadata and my smart playlists terribly. Having none of that info in Spotify is a pretty big blow to how I’ve been listening to music in the past.

Earlier this week, I cancelled my Spotify subscription. As it turns out, I did miss that kind of metadata more than I might have originally let on. The thing is, I rely on play counts to tell me how much I “like” certain music. Last played information, combined with play counts, tells me how long it’s been since I’ve listened to heavily-played tracks in my library, like Call Me Maybe. I’m convinced that Smart Playlists are the best thing since sliced bread, and losing them in Spotify was too much of a compromise, seemingly for the advantage of music availability and discoverability.

Which is kind of a shame, because there’s lots to love about Spotify Premium. Having the biggest music library accessible wherever you have a data connection is nothing short of amazing, and it comes in ridiculously handy forms: a few friends wanted to listen to a song, and instead of looking it up on YouTube, I simply opened up Spotify, put in the artist name, and there it was — because if nothing else, isn’t technology supposed to make this kind of stuff more accessible to people? Isn’t technology like Spotify meant to lead to greater enjoyment of the things you love the most, i.e. music?

I liked how Spotify because it scrobbled to Last.fm on mobile. I liked how having Spotify on my phone meant I didn’t have to carry around all the music I wanted to listen to. I liked (in part) how Spotify was all about the social — sharing music to others, listening and subscribing to playlists others had made, and even all the discovery features to help you to discover new music. In the end though, paying $12 a month for those privileges didn’t seem worth it to me, especially as I started listening to my own music within Spotify towards the end of my subscription. I mean, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of having the largest music library, literally at your fingertips?

Thankfully, there’s good news. The difference between Spotify and Rdio is that Spotify has a free tier, too: for exactly nothing, you can use Spotify as a preview of whether you’ll like a new album by an artist, or if you’re just looking to play a song that you don’t own and don’t want to go track down. You don’t get access to the mobile version of Spotify on the free version nor any of the ofline features, but that’s not a big deal when you’re listening to local files you own, anyway. Plus, I don’t mind syncing music to my device even though it takes up precious megabytes. All this means that Spotify on the desktop still manages to satisfy that “instant gratification” drive I have when it comes to music — I can still listen to any song I want to, just with a short ad interspersed between tracks.

In fact, just the other day I opened Spotify to listen to a Pink song I had heard before but didn’t own — after playing that a few times in Spotify, I acquired a copy and now it sits on some 68 plays in my iTunes library.

If you haven’t given Spotify a go yet, you should. It’s a good service with many neat features — it’s just that for the way I personally listen to music (i.e. going for the overplay with one, two, or a whole album at a time and swapping between artists and albums I love), Spotify and Me just weren’t meant to be.

And I think I’m okay with that.

Truly, a first world problem.

Neutral leech means one thing: downloads. Lots and lots of downloads. The rest of my quota this month has been dedicated to downloads.

Neutral leech is different to freeleech because neutral means uploads aren’t counted either (for ratio purposes). It also allows people to build up their seeding library for the future. It’s great!

Problem is, I’ve acquired heaps of stuff already.

I’ve considered the re-aquisition of stuff I already own, but there’s two problems: firstly, only about a sixth of my music library is actually in 160 or lower, and secondly, because I have a large number of smart playlists which depend on play count metadata (to tell me what I’ve listened to, how often [relatively] I listen to it), those will get messed up.

I know there’s a way to replace content within iTunes, but that relies on the fact that the metadata is exactly the same. As this won’t be the case for 99% of the stuff I get (it’ll either be tagged the same or better), this really isn’t a solution.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to a first world problem.

Now for Some Music

now for some music

via YMFY.

I’m not usually one to buy my music (unless it’s free, thanks for the coupons @Mac1), so this fits perfectly with my modus operandi.

However, stealing is bad. While I won’t go out of my way to buy things that I can easily steal (music, software), I’ll usually endeavour to buy those things that I can’t easily steal (hardware, things I can touch etc), as well as those things that I use or enjoy on a frequent basis – software from awesome Mac developers Panic is a great example, as is music from Dream Theater (iTMS Link).

Awesome. Stopmotion. Music.

I’ve taken my hyperactive editing style a step further! Hope you’ll enjoy it!

via YouTube – Amateur – Lasse Gjertsen.

There’s a comment on the page where a commenter says:

Doooodddd. MAKE AN ALBUM.

…and really, that’s seconded.

If you’re interested, download the MP3 of the audio here – thanks to Lassegg for making this available!

This is my new ringtone. I kid you not, IT’S THAT AWESOME.

Now with less DRM!

Sure, $2.19 a song mightn’t sound too pretty, but it’s not all bad. Most of the songs in the Top 100 list of the iTunes Music Store are still at the old $1.69 price point, but now they come with less DRM, and at double the bit-rate.

However, the part that sucks is that 4 songs out of the Top 100 are at the new $2.19 price point. It’s interesting to note that those artists with $2.19 songs are all signed onto Sony for their label – Rihanna, Jason Mraz, Beyonce – Akons on there too, but I think he started his own label?

It’s not all bad. I certainly won’t be switching to BigPond Music anytime soon. 😀

UPDATE: Okay, so maybe it is a little bad – as of the 8th April 2009, 1 out of every 5 songs in the iTunes Top 100 list is priced at $2.19. Eeek! :O

Steve Miller’s “The Joker”

Steve Miller’s “The Joker” is an awesome song. [iTunes Link]

Exactly like the old-school classics I’m looking for.

Recently, I’ve been enjoying:

DragonForce – Through the Fire and Flames [iTunes Link]
Heh – thanks, Guitar Hero!

John Petrucci – Glasgow Kiss
Thanks to Jim Lowe.

Bowling for Soup – 1985 [iTunes Link]
Some old school classic.

ZZ Top – Sharp Dressed Man [iTunes Link]
A good old-school classic.

Katy Perry – Hot N Cold [iTunes Link]
Gotta keep up with the new stuff as well, yeah?