The Liner Notes

All the music that matters

Posts Tagged ‘digital downloads

Is Facebook Music a game-changer?

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Music is about to get a bit more “social” with a new move by Facebook to integrate a range of streaming music services into the social media site.

The concept is simple. Users of music streaming sites such as MOG and Spotify have the option to link their accounts to Facebook which will then post what they are listening to in a ticker. Their Facebook friends can see what they are listening to in real time, and if they subscribe to the same service, stream the same song right there on Facebook.

The service is still rolling out, but right off the bat it looks interesting, but has its flaws. The ability to see what friends are listening to is great when they are discovering awesome new bands, but can be embarrassing if they go into a three hour long Brittany Spears session.

Then there is the problem of having to subscribe to the same streaming music service that friends use. Right off the bat Spotify, being free, seems to be dominating, but it is a pain to have to open your respective music site and manually play the song. It defeats the entire purpose of integration.

The whole concept is sharing music on a bigger level, and provides the social aspect that many of these services are now lacking.

The idea, in theory, is great but will it work in reality? Time will tell, but this is another nail in the coffin for not just compact discs, but downloading music. Clearly streaming, most likely from a social centralized site such as Facebook, with various companies is the future – music on demand is a digital buffet.

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Written by David Young

September 25, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Studying Spotify

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The folks over at Spotify must have read my last post because that same week I received three invitations to the new streaming music service here in the U.S.

I immediately signed up and downloaded the mobile app for my iPhone. There I encountered my first disappointment. To use the mobile app you must subscribe and pay for the site’s upgraded service.

So I am tethered to the computer for now. But I was hopeful, if the site is a good as it is rumored to be I was ready to pay and switch from my current streaming music provider MOG.

Almost immediately I was frustrated again. Rather than just use a site online, the company requires you to download their program to your computer which you then launch from your desktop. All other streaming sites I have ever used are web-based.

After taking the time to install the program, I created a profile and signed in. A note on this step, you can’t change your screen name that you choose so take care. It almost is a moot point because to use any of the site’s social options you are forced to use Facebook, which is your main ID.

But I digress.

Initial impressions after logging in were great. The site looked really clean. Great interface and new music was right up front. Everything is easy to play, just click and boom music. The ads are horrible as they move and interrupt the music, but hey it’s free so I can get past that.

I was prepared to dedicate hours to exploring the site and all it had to offer. It took me all of 10 minutes. Spotify is so limited in what it can do.

I’ll start with the strengths. It offers all you can listen to free streaming music. The share options are easy, and playlists are really simple to create. And that’s about it. If you want to check out new releases or listen to some classics, yeah this site is great. But Spotify is supposed to be social and make sharing music with friends fun.

This is where the negatives come in. Spotify social permits you to link to Facebook. I did this and found only two of my friends had done the same. I assume this is because the site was still hard to access. Since then my “social” group on Spotify has grown to four people. This may change when the site opens up but really it does not matter.

To find a user who you’re not friends with on Facebook or who does not have Facebook you have to know their screen name. The point here is that I already know what my friends listen to, I want to be able explore a larger social network as in everyone signed up to Spotify and see what they are listening to then choose who I want to follow based on their tastes.

The bottom line is the site’s biggest strength tuned into its biggest weakness.

The ability to share with my four social friends on the site is great. I can simply click, drag and drop albums or songs into their inbox.

Beyond this the library has a ton of holes and is missing a great deal of music, but again it’s free so for someone who does not want to pay this is the best option.

For those willing to pay, almost every other streaming service I have tried – Napster, Rhapsody, MOG – all beat this.

With the high hopes I had for Spotify, It’s sad to report it’s not all that it was hyped up to be. Even Pandora beats it in respect to streaming radio.

Written by David Young

July 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Spotify premiers in U.S.

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It’s the day music lovers have all waited for.

Spotify is available in America. But as it is with all things that seem too good to be true, the streaming music service that was supposed to change the game is already exposing its flaws.

Spotify is a free streaming music service that has been available in limited countries for a number of years now. For some time the record companies here stateside haggled and hemmed and hawed over legal rights.

For the longest time it seemed as if the service would never make it here. In that time competition has grown. Services such as Napster, Rhapsody and MOG have taken chunks out of the streaming service market. Each has their strengths and weaknesses.

Spotify was supposed to come in and crush them all. Or so they would have you believe. The biggest disappointment is for now the only way to use Spotify is to pay or to get a special invite.

The biggest claim by Spotify, as you can see in the video below, is that it is all the music in the world at your fingertips for free. But no, it’s not true here in the U.S.. An impact of the record companies I would guess.

Thus the site makes you enter your e-mail for a special invite. This is frustrating because more than two years ago I gave Spotify my email for updates on its U.S. launch. Not only were there no updates, but they gave no advantage to those who signed up in advance of the launch.

We will see if the site can overcome these initial foul-ups. I would even be willing to pay for the service if it is that much better than current sites, but not without a free trial period.

It’s not looking good for the site to start for Spotify.

In related news, MOG has unveiled a new beta user interface for its site. After using it, I must say it is much better than the previous layout. The new site is cleaner and permits users to have “favorite” songs and albums as well as manage their music in a left-hand tab system.

However, the best improvement is an embedded player that eliminates multiple windows to play a song or album.

Written by David Young

July 14, 2011 at 4:21 pm

New Radiohead album available today for download

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Radiohead made available its new album – “The King of Limbs” – today online.

Unlike its previous endeavor into the digital album with “In Rainbows,” this album is not a pay what you want model. King of Limbs is $9 for MP3 files or $14 for WAV.

There will be a physical release called the “Newspaper Album” at a later date. It is available for preorder at $48 (with MPS) or $53 (with WAV).

The Newspaper Album includes:

  • Two clear 10″ vinyl records in a purpose-built record sleeve.
  • A compact disc.
  • Many large sheets of artwork, 625 tiny pieces of artwork and a full-colour piece of oxo-degradeable plastic to hold it all together.
  • The Newspaper Album comes with a digital download that is compatible with all good digital media players.
  • The Newspaper Album will be shipped on Monday 9th May 2011. You can, however, enjoy the download now.
  • Shipping is included in the prices shown.
  • One lucky owner of the digital version of The King Of Limbs, purchased from this website, will receive a signed 2 track 12″ vinyl.

The new music is exactly what you would expect from such a seminal band: innovative, provocative, subtle, sweet and basically phenomenal.

But don’t take my word for it. Check it out now and let us know what you think.

Written by David Young

February 19, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Reznor and Ross release free tracks from “The Social Network” soundtrack

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Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and the English producer Atticus Ross have released five tracks off the upcoming soundtrack for “The Social Network” for free online.

Included are five tracks:

1) Pieces Form the Whole

2) Eventually We Find Our Way

3) On We March

4) The Gentle Hum of Anxiety

5) Soft Trees Break the Fall

The ambient tunes are part of a 19 track album available now for download or the physical album will be available in October.

“The Social Network,” which premiers Oct. 1, is the story of how Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg created the popular social networking site and the controversy surrounding his success.

Reznor included the following message with the free download:

“This is what Atticus and I have been working on for the last few months. We had a great time working with David Fincher on this and the film turned out excellent – something we’re very proud of. It opens in theatres Oct 1 and you should check it out.

Musically, this all came out of our secret laboratory – electronic in basis, but mostly organic sounding. Lots of experiments and emphasis on sound fraying around the edges while focusing on the proper emotional tone for the various scenes.

Regarding the purchase options, sorry about the “clunkiness” of not offering the full record digital download pre-sale (and having to visit Amazon). My agenda was to be able to offer this for the lowest possible price and this was the best way to achieve that. Amazon has been a great partner with past projects and I appreciate your understanding.”

Written by David Young

September 29, 2010 at 6:06 pm

New Smashing Pumpkins streaming

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Smashing Pumpkins “Teargarden By Kaleidyscope"

The Smashing Pumpkins are a shell of the band that they once were.

With the departure of drummer Jimmy Chamberlain last year, the only remaining original member is guitarist and singer Billy Corgan.

Corgan is like a child that hugs a puppy to death, he couldn’t give up any aspect of the music to his cohorts and eventually even the trusty Chamberlain left.

However, Corgan has and always will be the architect and the soul of the Smashing Pumpkins. That is evident by the new singles from the Smashing Pumpkins’ new album “Teargarden By Kaleidyscope.”

The first two songs from the album, which will eventually be available for free download on the band’s website, are vintage Pumpkins.

On the first song, “Widow Wake My Mind” Corgan airy voice sings “I’m looking for a love that I can’t find” over a crunchy guitar riff that is undeniable Smashing Pumpkins. Corgan crafts in a catchy piano break at the crescendo of the song’s chorus.

As good as the first single is, “A Song For A Son” is the real gem and glimmer of light that Corgan can carry on without Chamberlain and the gang.

Built around a somber piano melody laced with an acoustic guitar, Corgan hauntingly sings “This is a song for a space invader that flew into the sun never to return.” There is an electric guitar solo that is reminiscent of early 90’s Pumpkins.

The two songs, both streaming and available for free download, are enough to pique interest about what else Corgan has up his sleeve.

Check out the new tracks here.

Written by David Young

February 12, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Apple buys LaLa, looks to overhaul iTunes

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A recent acquisition by Apple could mean a completely new business model for the popular music service iTunes.

iTunes made the music ala carte option popular by allowing single song downloads for a dollar. While the model was overwhelmingly successful, perhaps in part because of the stores companion iPod, it had its flaws.

Perhaps the biggest problem, which has been rectified as of January, was iTunes DRM restrictions, which limited the use of downloaded media to only Apple’s products. Other issues include limiting iTunes accounts to specific computers and only streaming 30-second samples of songs.

Enter Lala, a music site that makes more than 8 million licensed songs available to users to stream for free. The site reads:

“Take your music and fuse it with a massive licensed catalog to easily play, buy and share on the web.”

Users can register and steam any song once for free. After listening to a song they can replay a 30-second sample of it.

If a user decides to buy a song, or album, they can purchase it outright, for as low as $3, and own the file, which they can play on any MP3 player.

Now here is where Lala is innovate, for 10-cents a user can buy the rights to add a song to their collection and stream it online, from any computer, all they want. Full albums can be added to user’s collections for as low as 45-cents, most are around $1.

Universal access to a collection of streaming music from any server in the world is very appealing. So appealing that Apple reportedly paid $85 million for La La Media Inc.

The acquisition could have a number of ramifications. At first glance it looks like a monopolistic move as the 100-pound gorilla, Apple with 70 percent of the digital download market share, buys up a promising fledgling start-up.

It has been reported that Apple was more interested in the minds behind Lala than the streaming service itself; however there is also speculation that Apple may dismantle the site eliminating current user’s access to their streaming collections.

However, the Wall Street Journal reported today that Apple intends to revamp iTunes with a focus on the web.

The WSJ report reads:

“Apple Inc., the company that restructured the music industry around its iTunes service, is exploring an overhaul of the way it sells and stores music that is aimed at extending its influence to the Web, according to people briefed on the strategy.”

Regardless of the outcome, Lala has clearly spurred change in the music industry that appears to benefit the customer.

Written by David Young

December 10, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Posted in MP3s, Music

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