Sunday Feb 11, 2007

Originally uploaded by idiottool.
I took a couple of the girls skiing last night at the local ski area. Lots of fun, but toward the end of the evening, I was feeling rather daring and went over a ski jump and landed really hard on my right knee and left shoulder. I'm quite sore today - so I'll be keeping the advil handly on my Monday morning flight to SFO. (Btw, the faceplant picture is from Flickr and is not of me, but it is a reasonable facsimile of me after my fall).

Saturday Feb 10, 2007

Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks that iTunes does a less than stellar job managing podcasts on an iPod: Less is less?: iTunes podcast management

Friday Feb 09, 2007

 A few weeks back I was interviewed by  Dana Gardner   about the Search Inside the Music project for his weekly Briefings Direct podcast.  The podcast is now online - and there is also a transcript of the podcast.  This was my first podcast - it was a lot of fun and it seems to have come out okay. Thanks to Dana for making it so easy.

Tuesday Feb 06, 2007

Steve Jobs wants labels to go DRM free.  If they do ... "Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly." (Thanks, Ethan) 


DYLAN is the project name for an open packaging specification for digital music. We think the evidence is clear that the value of an audio file is rapidly fading away. We think that the audio file as only one component of the music experience. We look to develop and establish an open specification that will enhance the value of an audio file by contributing to a shared and personal music experience.

Bob Lefsetz said, "In order for music to sell in vast quantities for a long time, people have to BELIEVE in the act." We hope this specification will play a meaningful role in reconnecting fans with music artists and entertainers.

This is a project to build an OPEN specification for the betterment of the music industry, as such we welcome new partners and contributers to this project.

DYLAN is a project sponsored by Project Opus Technologies Inc, Simon Fraser University, and the Government of Canada. The participants also acknowledge the important non-financial support of Yahoo! Music, particularly Lucas Gonze and Ian Rogers, without whom this project could not have gotten off the ground. and Warner have announced a partnership that will give listeners access to the Warner Music catalog.  This is a big deal ... not only does this mean better access to content for, but it also is another sign that we are at the tipping point for online digital music.
There's a Social Music Overview  article over at TechCrunch that briefly describes 8 music discovery web sites.  Nothing new - but many omissions -  more interesting than the article itself is the comment thread with many pointers to alternate music 2.0 companies.  Probably the best list of music 2.0 sites is in the sidebar of muSick in the Head.

Monday Feb 05, 2007

Visual Complexity highlights this classic chart by Reebee Garofalo that chronicles the growth and dependencies of the world of rock music from 1958 to 1978.  This chart combines about 700 top-50 artists and 30 music styles, showing the length of an artist's hit-making career as well as the reach for a particular style.   I'd love to see this chart updated to include the last 30 years of music.   Oh ... and make it interactive too, so I can listen to the Soft Soul of Marvin Gaye and Jerry Butler just by clicking on their names.

 A zoomable version of the chart is online at history shots

Saturday Feb 03, 2007

I've been having fun playing with the social tags - there's lots of interesting bits in there. For instance, there are (at least) 422 different types of 'metal'  including 'viking metal', 'math metal'  'polka metal' and my favorite 'funeral doom metal'. Here's the list sorted by frequency:[Read More]

Wednesday Jan 31, 2007

Grooveshark is a yet to be released online music service focused on sharing and discovering new music. According to their website, Grooveshark will distribute DRM-free MP3s via a p2p network. But unlike the previous generation of P2P music distribution networks, Grooveshark plans to improve the experience by ensuring high quality MP3s, compensating artists, compensating users that share their songs, using SongID to fixup metadata to ensure that you get the right song. 

We are starting to see a theme develop in the next generation of web media companies -  these companies realize that they can reduce their streaming and music acquisition costs by building on top of P2P networks.  The users supply the content and the bandwidth -  which greatly reduces the costs to the web startup.  The startup can then focus on  building a community of listeners and making sure that the proper licensing fees are paid.  It's not a bad way to reduce costs, if they can guarantee a good user experience.

 Grooveshark isn't open for business yet, but their blog is interesting reading.  And it looks like they have a pretty decent size team:

Tuesday Jan 30, 2007

Spotty information about Spotify - but this wikipedia entry indicates that the lead developer, Ludvig Strigeus, is known for, among other things,  developing the BitTorrent client uTorrent.  One of the problems that any music startup faces is how to deliver music without going broke paying for bandwidth -  P2P is one way to deal with that , so perhaps there's a  little uTorrent at the core of Spotify. 

YottaMusic is a a front-end to the Rhapsody music service.  YottaMusic has a nice cleanly designed web interface that lets you manage, explore and discover  music in the Rhapsody subscription library.  I'm not a Rhapsody user (that silly iPod problem) so I can't compare YottaMusic to the Rhapsody experience, but my friend Ethan, a regular Rhapsody user,  says it has 'increased his enjoyment of Rhapsody by 271%'.  This is an interesting business model - make a new, better interface to a music service - hopefully YottaMusic makes a bit of money everytime they send a new subscriber to Rhapsody.  Yet another business model to add to the music ecosystem.

Monday Jan 29, 2007

A few posts this weekend are circulating about the impending death of the CD.  Now, I've almost always purchased my music on CDs. There's no DRM, there's album art (well, tiny album art), the CD serves as your backup after you rip the tracks,  and a CD is as high fidelity as you can get.  But after this weekend, I think I agree, the death of the CD is imminent.  I went to the local shop to pick up the new Deerhoof CD - but it was not to be found - and outside of the dreaded Best Buy, the CD was probably not to be found in a 20 mile radius of my home. And so I finally decided to try out eMusic.  Now, I've always been reluctant to take eMusic  up on their free trial offer because you need to give them a credit card number - but it was the only way I was going to listen to Deerhoof - so I gave it a shot, and I'm glad I did.  For the price of a CD at the local bookstore, I can get 50 downloads per month from eMusic.  The downloads are non-DRM'd high-bit rate mp3s (VBR of at least 192K).   The lack of DRM means that I can put the tracks on my iPod (unlike Rhapsody and Napster).  eMusic keeps track of what music I've downloaded so I can  redownload any purchased track so I don't have to worry about losing my music when my disk dies.  The catalog is surprisingly deep. You won't find U2 or the Beatles, but it is a gold mine for indie music.  It's no surprise that  with its deep, long tail selection of DRM free, high quality music that eMusic is the second largest digital music store - and I think that eMusic, and offerings like it will be the future of music.  The CD is dead! Long live the CD.

Saturday Jan 27, 2007

XSPF - the XML format for playlist sharing is increasingly being adopted by the next generation of online music applications and website. The 'applications' page on the XSPF website lists a good number of applications, websites and libraries that provide support for XSPF.  In this mix are some big players such as, Webjay, Yahoo Music. 

An effective way to share playlists is one of the 'killer apps' of the celestial jukebox - and for that to happen we have to agree on a format for sharing.  I think we've reached the tipping point for XSPF - it will be the format of choice for sharing playlists in the celestial jukebox.

Friday Jan 26, 2007

If your submission to JavaOne was accepted, then you are probably starting to think about what it will be like to prepare a talk that may be attended by 500 or more eager Java developers.   Edward Tufte has collected a few tips for public speaking that seem to be right on  ... worth a read even if you are giving a talk at your local bowling league.  

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