Meet VEVO, YouTube’s New Music Video Hub

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I read recently in both Gizmodo and TechCrunch now of the upcoming launch of Vevo,  a site billed as the ‘premium online music hub built for consumers, advertisers, and content owners..’. The site is a collaboration between Universal Music Group and YouTube and is expected to launch later this year.  The launch of the site will feature UMG’s catalog of music videos powered by YouTube’s technology. The two companies will share advertising revenue generated by the site. Reportedly, deals with other labels are in the works.

Why launch a portal for music videos when you can essentially get them for free now on YouTube? It’s a question many are asking, but I suspect Google plans to change the game a bit on music content.  I highly doubt the site will just stream videos.  I’m sure it will be community driven and designed to separate the YouTube hack from the professional, high-quality VEVO content.  So no more scrolling through bogus, homemade videos to find the content you’re looking for.  Yeah! Considering ad revenues on music video content is an area that UMG actually made money, the venture makes sense. Labels need to figure out somewhat to make money these days, don’t they?

Twitter Concerts – SF Band Logs 3000 Downloads Using Twitter

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Moonalice.  Heard of them?  Yeah, you and no one else outside of Silicon Valley either. Luckily lead guitarist Roger McNamee knows a thing or two about technology, being one of the Valley’s most well-known venture capitalists. TechCrunch reported that the band staged it’s first Twitter-integrated concert at a venue in San Francisco recently and logged 3000 downloads of their music using the platform.  Pretty impressive for a band no one’s ever heard of and an eye opening tactic for bands to successfully leverage Twitter as a viral marketing tool.

These so-called Twitter Concerts work something like this: immediately following each live song performed, it’s digitized, uploaded then tweeted about it’s availability with a TinyURL where users can listen and download the song.  It’s like a virtual live concert feed. And if a small local band can see that much success, imagine the impact if well known artists jump on the Twitter Concert bandwagon. By golly, I think we’ve just spotted a trend in the making – Twitter Concerts!  

According to The Underwire, hip hop artist K’naan is leveraging the Twitter platform in equally innovative ways to promote his music as well. Here’s to Web 2.0!

AT&T Fails SXSW iPhone Test

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Hey all you iPhone users heading to SXSW this week: good luck Twittering, texting and making phone calls. The annual SXSW geekfest has been well underway and already reports for iPhone reception is dismal.  This is likely the first year thousands of iPhone users have descended on Austin and AT&T is unprepared.  A recent update says the company is adding capacity but it may be a good idea to buddy up with a friend on a different network just in case.

Product Review: Apple In Ear Headphones

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I practically begged for these for Christmas and Santa did not disappoint.  But boy Apple sure did. These brand spanking new headphones from Apple boast ‘impressive’ sound isolation, two separate high performance drivers – a woofer and a tweeter – for rich, accurate sound and those handy dandy controls to manipulate the volume, terminate calls, etc.  Priced at $79, my guess it was positioned to compete with the Bose In Ear set.

These headphones were so disappointing I took them back to the Apple store, hoping they were defective. Everything sounded tinny – like it was all tweeter and no woofer.  I actually compared them to the $29 basic headphones and the cheap ones sounded better! After consulting with one of the ‘Geniuses’ who told me they were performing to ‘spec’, I promptly returned them.  

Now I’m back to the $29 version and on the hunt for a new high performance headset that is iPhone compatible. Suggestions?  Stay tuned.

eMusic Gets New Recommendation Engine

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I’m an eMusic subscriber and supporter and noticed that they’ve overhauled their homepage centered around a new music recommendation engine called MediaUnbound.  Now, when you sign into the site as a member, you’re presented with a grid of music you’ll like made up of personalized recommendations based upon your history. You can also sort the list by new arrivals.  

I’ve been checking out the recommendations but am cautiously optimistic.  Like any music recommendation service I’ve used, I don’t expect much.  Most of them are disappointing, especially if you’re an avid music fan. But I understand eMusic’s need to upgrade. As a subscription based model, it’s important that their members find music they like.  Otherwise, they’re apt to cancel.

What makes this new music recommendation service, MediaUnbound, supposedly unique is that it  combines both algorithmic and human inputs to try to come up with better recommendations for users right from the start. And how are MediaUnbound’s human inputs different from say Pandora?  This is where the story gets interesting, or amusing at the least. MediaUnbound CEO Michael Papish answers this question in a recent TechCrunch post and added a most amusing critique of other music recommendation services in existence. 

On Pandora’s human input process:

Pandora has created a feature factory of humans chained to headphones attempting to objectively rate the sonic features of every song ever made (well, ok, only ~200k hand-picked songs). We think this is a horrible use of use of the creative, constructive, opinionated, and (sometimes argumentative) resource called the human music geek.

On the rest of the music recommendation technologies out there:

    —Pandora. Purely sonic-based as determined by team of human experts classifying every song into features. Not scalable. One-trick pony only able to determine that one song sounds like another song, not anything about user preference or other personalized recommendations.   
    —iLike. Purely algorithm-based utilizing only data from other iLike members. Service is meant to be embedded in a widget, not a full-fledged recommendation platform across an entire music service.

—iTunes Genius. Sub-standard, algorithm only – developed in-house. Only uses iTunes data. Steve Jobs has creepy man crush on John Mayer and Jack Johnson.

—MySpace Music. Crazy flashing yellow buttons that randomly start playing Buffalo Springfield songs when you visit your friend’s page.

—AmazonMP3. Utilizes the Amazon recommendation platform which is based mainly on collaborative filtering. We assume they use some human tweaking, but they’ve never publicly stated this fact. The AmazonMP3 recommendations are crippled because they are based on regular Amazon recommendations which are very focused on closely related items (i.e. Bob Dylan’s _Blood on the Tracks_ returns Bob Dylan’s _Blonde on Blonde_. duh!)

—Last.fm. Purely algorithm-based utilizing only data from other members and their scrobbles.

Another One Bites the Dust

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First Muxtape, now Mixwit.  Another online mixtape playlist service bites the dust. There’s not a whole lot of information posted as to why Mixwit is shutting it’s doors, but one can only guess the RIAA has a hand in it.

Here’s the announcement in it’s entirety. 

We regret to announce that Mixwit will cease to exist at the end of the year.The website and profiles will be turned off around Dec 27th and all embedded widgets will stop playing before the end of December.

We’ve put a year of work into Mixwit so this choice wasn’t taken lightly. I won’t go into the details of our situation but state simply that we boldly marched into in a position best described as “between a rock and a hard place.” We’re very grateful to be have been part of the mixtape revival of ‘08 and are satisfied to be able to to bow out while things are still good.

You guys are all amazing. It’s clear that all of you put a ton of time and effort into your mixes. For me personally, I was looking forward to all of the designs people created for their tapes. There was a lot of basic tapes and many lovely photos, but the designs and artwork – WOW!

We’re very sorry that this has to end. We’re going to try to figure out some way to archive the artwork and playlists, if for nothing at least historic value. As for now, everything needs to be shut down by the end of the year just to make sure we’ve got a clean start for 2009.

We’ll return early next year with a new company and new toys. Until then, enjoy the holidays and please take good care of yourselves, your families, and your friends =)

 

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Music Lovers Gift Guide

T-9 days and counting.  Have you done all your holiday shopping yet?  If not, here’s some gift ideas for that music lover in your life (perhaps yourself) that might inspire.  I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing some of this booty in my stocking.  

 

Ticket Stub Diary , $12.oo

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This journal created by Eric Epstein has special sleeves to protect ticket stubs and pages to write down every detail from that epic Springsteen show back in ’84. Plus, it clears up drawer space.  

 


 

iDrops , $14.95

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iDrops restore the health of your iPod (all models), iPhone, iBook, MacBook (white), eMac, and iMac G5 by bringing back the plastic, polycarbonate, or acrylic’s original factory finish and shine. This two ounce bottle of liquid health will last you many and multiple applications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FM3 Buddha Machine, $25.00


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This ‘Soundbox’ from China is causing a senstation worldwide. The Buddha Machine is a hardware loop player, built kind of like a little AM radio (available in 6 different colors, shipped randomly), but without all the nonsense . It produces nine different looped ambient tones with a pitch control switch (kinda like a whammy bar), volume knob, and 1/8” audio output. Based on handheld soundboxes used for worship all over Asia. Great for music geeks and musician friends—the possibilities are endless.Brian Eno bought eight of them!

 

 

 

Mixa 1GB USB Mixtape,  $33

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Now you can give the gift of music in style! So novel but oh so fun, I wish I found this site earlier in my holiday shopping adventure.  Mixa is 1GB USB cassette tape (with a cool inny outie action), that comes with your own personally designed sleeve.  Make a party mixa, holiday mixa, thank you mixa, or a just because I love you mixa for that someone special in your life. They even have a money-back guarantee if the recipient of your love mixa doesn’t fall head over heels with you . (Though they say any love mixa holding a Lionel Richie song will be exempt.) What have you got to lose?

 

 

Griffin IKARAOKE V.2-U, $49.95

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Just plug iKaraoke into your iPod, cue up your favorite tunes, and you’re on. iKaraoke’s all-in-one microphone/processor isolates the lead vocal track and fades it, giving your voice room to make that favorite tune your own.


 

 

Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic, $79.00


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Oh please, please Santa I’ve been really good this year.  Can I get this in my stocking please?! These nifty new earbuds from Apple offer pro audio performance, impressive sound isolation and a mic and remote, making it an essential accessory for iPod or iPhone users.

 

 

 

 

InSound’s Indie-Rock-in-a-Box, ~$100 and up (prices vary)

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Buy 10 or more CDs from InSounds Top 100 Seller List of 2008 and get 25% off and Free Shipping! A very cool way to give the best in indie music this year.  Plus they’ll even package them in a special box and tie it with an Insound ribbon!

 

 

 

Sonos Player, $999 and up

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The mac-daddy of all music gifts, this fellatio-worthy piece of music equipment gives you instant acsess to all from your music from any room in your house. Plus it comes integrated with Rhaspody, Sirius XM Satellite, Last.fm and Internet radio. What else could you possibly ask for?  I can’t live without it.

 

 

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AmieStreet Download for Charity: Titus Andronicus & SF’s Lemonade

I love AmieStreet.  It’s become one of my new favorite music sites and latest obsessions.  They have great music and a very cool, community-driven concept that makes it really cheap to get music.  But you have to be on top of your music game.  It works like this:

All songs on Amie Street are priced from free to 98 cents. Instead of the arbitrary $0.99 per song, on Amie Street the community determines the price of music. Every song starts free, or very cheap, and increases in price, up to 98 cents, as more and more people purchase it.

This variable pricing system ensures that you get music at a fair, community-driven price point, and makes it easy for you to find the type of music you want. Then you’re encouraged to talk about the music you like by putting money in your account for more downloads when you recommend songs that continue to rise in price. All the music is DRM-free!  Go get an account if you don’t have one already.  

And make sure you take advantage of these great album deals…

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Titus AndronicusThe Airing of Grievances 

Listen to ‘Titus Andronicus‘:

Taking their name from a minor Shakespearean tragedy, this New Jersey punk rock band is making waves and getting compared to the likes of The Kinks, The Pogues, Bruce Springsteen, and even Arcade Fire. They’ve built a reputation for their rowdy live performances.  If you’re in San Francisco, you can see them tonight at The Rickshaw Stop opening for No Age.

Buy it at AmieStreet for $4.74!

 

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Listen toSunchips‘:

This San Francisco-based trio has already built a following around town with their energetic live performances of avant-electronic music that fuses psych heavy synths and spacey delays.  They’ve toured and opened for the likes of Black Moth Super Rainbow, Modeselektor and Crystal Castles.  Their self-titled debut is out now and you can get it at Amie Street right now for $1.32.  Drink it up!

Buy some Lemonade for $1.32 right now.

Anatomy of a Remodel – Part Deux

Quite a while back, I posted some photos documenting the beginning phase of our living room update that included rewiring the room for distributed in wall sound with Paradigm SA-15R speakers and a complete overhaul design-wise by friend, colleague and renowned SF designer, Ken Fulk.  Well, I’m happy to unveil the result of our extreme living room makeover. 

I don’t know if there are enough adjectives to describe how awesome it is.  Suffice it to say, everytime I come home I still pause to make sure I’m in the right house.  It’s so sexy, hip and downright functional I don’t quite know what to do with myself.  Do I really live here? It is now my favorite music listening room too – as I sit in front of the fire and control my Sonos playlists with my iPhone Sonos Controller.  (Oh just stop me already!) Technology can be so good.

Speaking of music, I was going through my inbox today listening to some new tunes sent my way and uncovered this nice French electronica album from ElodieO that sounded perfect in my sexy new digs. She sounds like a trip hop version of Nico at times and a French version of Bjork at others.  I was intrigued to learn as well that Serge Gainsbourg and The Cure arranged some of the songs.

Listen to ‘Crazy‘ – a track off ElodieO’s new album, Stubborn.  If you like what you hear, go see ElodieO at The Elbo Room in San Francisco December 15. 

Listen to ‘Crazy‘:

 

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Before

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After. See that beautiful orchid? I give it 2 months before I kill it.

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Another perspective.

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The piece de resistance - my $100 Craigslist vintage sofa, refurbished and fabulous in mohair. I never gave up on you, my sweet sofa!

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Here you see the ceiling mounted Paradigm speakers.

 

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Digforfire.tv is live!

A long time ago, I posted some great clips from the beta site of this project, Digforfire.tv.  It’s like a compilation of little music documentaries from all of your favorite indie rock bands. The production quality is stunning.  And it’s finally live.  Go check it out and get lost in their library of great videos.  Like this one from Band of Horses.

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