In its typical stately and slightly behind fashion, The New Yorker magazine this week published a piece (subscription required) about big changes in the live music industry. The article used as its grounding point a recent dispute between Bruce Springsteen and Ticketmaster over scalping and ticket withholding by artists, but the larger point was that the concert industry may be following the recording industry down the tubes--a prediction I made more than a year ago. The article has reams of supporting statistics and quotes, but the simple point is that the big acts aren't selling as many tickets as … Read more
If you're an independent musician looking for as many ways to sell and promote your music as possible, and you or a friend has some experience with software development, you'll want to check out the upcoming Rock Band Network, for which Harmonix and MTV Games plan to begin beta testing in late August.
To program songs for the game, you or your developer friend first needs a membership to Microsoft's XNA Creators' Club, which was launched a couple years ago to let independent developers create casual games to sell through the Xbox Live Marketplace; a membership costs $… Read more
iPhone applications featuring particular musicians have been around for a while now--Nine Inch Nails was recently in the news when Apple rejected an update to its application, and tech companies like Melodeo and The Orchard have experimented with creating iPhone apps for their clients.
Soon, BlackBerry fans will be able to get in on the fun. Research In Motion, which is sponsoring the U2 360 tour, has posted a page on its Web site declaring the imminent arrival of the U2 "mobile album."
Although the video teaser is fairly cryptic, it looks like the app will let users … Read more
RealNetworks began public beta-testing version 12 of its venerable RealPlayer today. Like the last version, the free RealPlayer SP (which stands for "social and portable") lets you rip streaming Flash videos from the Web to your hard drive. What's new: you can also transcode them into appropriate formats for playback on portable devices. If you're using an iPod or iPhone, the RealPlayer will even generously insert the transcoded version directly into your iTunes library.
CNET's John Falcone has already done a rundown of the RealPlayer SP beta, but I was intrigued enough to try it … Read more
Update 4:15 p.m. PDT: Two clarifications. First, Remote Media Streaming is not limited to music--you can also stream video and pictures. I focused on music because that's the main topic of this blog. Second, you are required to associate a Windows Live ID (which used to be called Passport) with each computer whose library you want to share, and each computer you want to be able to access that library. I assume Microsoft took this step to avoid complaints or possible litigation from content owners.Apparently, Microsoft still has a few surprises left regarding digital audio in Windows 7. … Read more
Monday, I downloaded a new iPhone app called iHeartNewMusic that helps you track new music via blogs. If you're the type of listener who scours music blogs regularly to find out about and sample new tunes, iHeartNewMusic will let you do that from your iPhone over a Wi-Fi connection.
According to the iHeartNewMusic blog, Apple rejected iHeartNewMusic six times before finally accepting it. The blog doesn't detail why, but the application is pretty simplistic--it's basically a customized version of Safari with a list of bookmarks to dozens of blogs in categories such as Rock, Electro, Indie, and … Read more
LyricFind has been trying to compile song lyrics into a searchable database since 2000, and after a few years of failed negotiations with rights holders, the company is finally getting some traction.
Earlier this month, it released a lyrics app for the Slacker RadioPlus service. The Web site has never been much use: it only lets you search on snippets of lyrics to try to find song matches; I'm much more interested in entering a song title to get the full lyrics for that song.
Updated on March 28 at 12 p.m. PDT: The developers of Star Guitar explained to me that the latency between chord changes is intentional--it's meant to change on the first beat of the next measure. If you want to change it immediately, you can simply double-tap. Also, Star Guitar also records .WAV files--they're hidden at the bottom of the library list, below all the .pattern files that represent the built-in rhythms (you can edit them or create new ones on your computer). Finally, they asked me to link to the demo video on YouTube, so here it is.
I've been playing around with a new iPhone app, Star Guitar, for the last day or so, and it's a sophisticated piece of work that could help beginning guitar players learn how chords fit together into songs, as well as give more experienced songwriters a quick way to record their ideas when they don't have a guitar handy.
The designers had to be very clever to fit that many chords on a single screen--essentially, you start by picking one of the seven natural-tone letters (A through G), then adding various modifications (flat or sharp, seventh, major, and suspended fourth). You might have to consult the help screen to figure out exactly which combination of buttons will create a particular chord--for example, a G6 is created by hitting "G" and "major"--but for the most part, if you know your chords, it's fairly intuitive.
If you don't know your chords, it's a fantastic way to learn what all these cryptically named chords sound like. I've played for years, but still have to think for a few seconds before I could hum you the notes in a suspended fourth. With Star Guitar, I can just play it. … Read more
AUSTIN, Texas--I've blogged about Topspin Media in the past--it's the company that handled the staggered direct-to-fan release for the recent David Byrne-Brian Eno album, "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today." At the South by Southwest festival here this week, Topspin announced that it has taken a lot of the lessons it learned from the Byrne-Eno release and applied it to their platform.
Under the Byrne-Eno program, the artists first asked listeners to enter their e-mail address in exchange for a free song download. A few weeks later, they released a streaming version of the entire record, … Read more
Bandloop is a relatively new service that helps you find live shows in your area.
I had mixed feelings about the Web version of the service--I'm not so fond of the way it forces you to pick favorite bands to follow--but today, I had a chance to try out their new free iPhone application, and I'm very impressed. It's a cut above the iPhone version of JamBase, a long-established gig-listing service.
The Bandloop app is simple, as all good iPhone apps should be. If you've got a 3G iPhone, you allow Bandloop to find your location. … Read more