The battle for the hearts and minds continues as Google wants into the digital music arena, primarily to take a chunk out of iTunes dominance but also add a key component to their Android strategy and should it ever see the light of day the much vaunted Google Tablet. Two things spring to mind. How much work have Google had to do to bring the music publishing industry to the table? Historically Google and the traditional media publishers haven’t gotten on. And how much of this is just another way to collect even more data about your preferences, tastes and listening habits and create better targeted ads?
If anyone is listening a couple of things I’d like to see. A real alternative to iTunes as a platform for podcasts, if my experience is anything to go by over 90% of podcast downloads are from iTunes. No arbitrary limit on the number of machines authorised to download content. Apple. Why only five? OK I reset the counter every six months but why?
Or it could be like the two hundred odd other projects they’ve ‘launched’ only for it never to get out of beta and then quietly forgotten.
Cap doff to TechCrunch.
For me one guitarist stands out above all others…forget the two Jimmys, Eric and Carlos, I’ve always preferred Yorkshire’s first and probably only guitar hero. And today I’m going to see something I never thought I’d witness; Bill Nelson playing live…but not only that rumour has it he’ll be, along with a band formed specially for the occasion called The Gentlemen Rocketeers, playing a full set of material ‘from the past’. This cryptic pronouncement probably means Be Bop Deluxe and who knows maybe Red Noise and typical of the man it’ll be a one off never to be repeated treat for those present. He’ll also be performing material he’s written specifically for the event and if he runs out of ideas, which he doesn’t, there’s always the sixty plus other albums he’s made to fall back on.
I’m sat on the train travelling to York now and it and seems in it’s own way rather like a pilgrimage.
Music downloading on first appearance seems cracking idea, no more shelves full of CDs and your collection instantly portable but there has always been one almighty problem with it…Digital Rights Management. It sucks, it truely does because anyway you cut it the user experience is shocking, you can’t move contect from device to device and why bother when you can buy the same stuff on a shiny disk and use it unhindered by DRM. And the figures speak for themselves, take iPod users for example, it’s estimated that 97% of all music played on them is ‘side loaded’ not purchased from iTunes and this doesn’t seem like changing anytime soon despite the price premium you pay per track for CD.
So it comes as no real surprise that certain corners of the tech industry are now talking about a future without DRM, after all consumers will avoid it when possible and technically you can’t make DRM friendly enough for them to see it as anything but an annoyance. The most noteworthy of these voices is none other than Steve Jobs who I guess would like to see iTunes sell DRM free music to iPod users rather than have then spend their hardearned at HWV, Virgin or Amazon because Apple isn’t making a bundle from selling DRM based music.
However don’t expect the music industry to pay attention anytime soon because as soon as you mention the internet to a music executive they instantly see thousands of teenagers pirating music and giving it to their mates or worse still loading it on to some file sharing site instantly copying it to the world. But the reality is this nightmare scenario has never happened despite the fact CDs have no DRM even when Napster was at it’s most prolific, infact CD sales went up as people used it as a try before you buy system. CD sales are now slowly falling and the predictions are for this to continue but you have to wonder if the music publishers has noticed the reasons why.
Sometimes having an over active gadget gland means you end you end up with stuff seemed like a good idea at the time, and after my recent introduction to the world of playing live it became apparent that I’m in danger of becoming an ‘all the gear and no idea’ sort of guitarist. This is a bad combination.
The GT-8 is an incredible piece of kit and requires as much dedication to use as does playing the guitar itself, but if you’re willing to put in the hours you’ll never buy anything else to mod your sound..it’s that good. Sadly I’m not. The computing power the GT-8 has at it’s disposal is something the engineers on the Apollo missions only dreamt of.
The DB-90 is a metronome and drum machine all rolled into one and I can’t understand why I bought it, especially as many of the features on it are duplicated on my PX-4. Don’t get me wrong it’s a top notch piece of kit if that’s what you need; sadly I didn’t. The gadget fetishists equivalent of beer goggles I guess.
My loss as always is someone elses eBay gain.
Karen for sometime now has regularly mentioned that she’d like to take up playing the piano after a hiatus of some twenty years, it maybe longer but she’ll not fess up. So Santa this year has already delivered a Yamaha DGX 620 as he’d never get it down the chimney and because it was rather obvious (the box was big enough to stuff a body in) Karen has already begun playing.
So why the DGX 620? Well firstly it has a full size 88 key weighted hammer action keyboard, feeling like a proper piano was the number one must have and it does an excellent job of this. The Grand Piano model is very sweet and to a non expert sounds pretty authentic, there is also some 500 other voices to explore so it might take a while for Karen too get round to all of them and with built in lessons, 250 songs, performance assistant and the ability to plug into a PC to upload additional content she’ll be occupied for the foreseeable future, or at least until next Christmas.
Can a rock orientated Proms work? You’d have thought so but based on what I’ve seen so far the jury is still out. Class as always shows through at events like this and Jay Kay proves again he is a great live performer but most of the newbies like Kasabian left me a wondering what all the fuss is about. And are the Magic Numbers a spoof? James Brown, who I saw at ‘V’ a few years back was his usual exemplary self, although two of the three Sugarbabes seemed to wonder how they ended up on stage with the Godfather of Soul, and with Paul Weller I just shut my eyes and I’m back at school listening to The Jam.
The current music industry is a fickle master and I wonder how much of this years line up will still be remembered in ’07, I ask this because isn’t the ‘classic’ Proms about history and permanence and knowing all is right with the world? ‘Popular Music’ ain’t, it’s about sticking a finger or two at all of those values…isn’t it? Or maybe rock is just part of the establishment now and no one cares.
I’ve playing the guitar (badly) for a little while but had never done so in front of an audience but now thats all changed as I’ve now done my first gig. That’s me at the back with the UJ Supernova. I’m not in a band but went to the Test Valley Rock School on Saturday to try my hand at playing live and it was a mixture of nerves, excitement and aching fingers. John, a chum of mine at work, is an experienced guitar player and having jammed (again badly) with him, suggested I go along with him as it is a great way to do the one thing that most people who have aspirations to play an instrument never get to do, play in a band, even if it just for a day. It was a fantastic and inspiring experience and showed me that I need to take practising a bit more seriously if I’m ever going to be vaguely competent.
The Mrs suggested Top The Pops next but then remembered it has been cancelled.
A little while ago I picked up a Roland Microcube guitar amp which at one and half watts could be forgiven for being ever so slightly rubbish. But it isn’t in-fact it’s bloody brilliant. It punches well above it’s weight sound wise and comes with a bunch of amp models and effects as well as an aux plug for CD and MP3 players, you can can even use it as a mike amp as it has a separate channel for that too. However the kicker is that it can run on six AA batteries and they seem to last forever, so no need to worry if the thirteen amp is miles away. As guitar related gadgets go it’s pretty unbeatable.
Sadly it may not be enough.
A few mates at work have persuaded me to turn up for a few jamming sessions with them and of course when I turned up with the Microcube the other day, whilst they were very complimentary, they still broke out a mid sized Marshall stack and a Sessionette 75. The ‘Cube didn’t really stand a chance, which I didn’t mind too much as my playing leaves a lot to be desired. However we’re planning to play some actual songs so muggins here has to not only learn something but also get heard. Now I know what you’re thinking…why don’t they just turn their amps down? Fair question but then if you’re asking that then you’ve never jammed with a bunch of other guitar playing enthusiasts.
So I could go a splash on some huge tube amp but then I’m playing them at there own game so here’s my plan. I have a Boss GT8 which in reality needs a flat response amp like a keyboard amp or PA, so I reckon a pair of Yamaha Stagepass 300s is just the ticket. Again relatively small but as there’s two separate speakers; instant stereo and a not insubstantial one hundred and fifty watts each to boot. I even like the price.
As music festivals go I’ve always had a leaning for ‘V’, Virgin’s annual duo bash at Chelmsford and Stafford, especially after spending a few days in a tent at V99. V always was the tamer of the big summer music festivals, less mud than Glastonbury and more upmarket than Reading, it also wasn’t as worried about being seen as the more commercial either.
2006 was a tempter as Radiohead were the headline band and Karen is a big Faithless fan but I’m not sure that is a big enough incentive to spend two nights in a tent these days, so like many we sensibly opted for a weekend of DIY and watching the highlights on the box.
It was however a waste of time as some truly awful direction, it’s a live gig not a video, and two vacuous presenters who seemed more interested in themselves than the bands had me reaching for the remote. I know they want to sell the CD of the festival that’ll be coming to your local music store as soon as but I’m sure Creep wasn’t the highlight of the Radiohead set nor was there any need for the interviews with some of the bands that seemed determined to uncover a little as possible, other than to show Lauren Laverne and Alex Zane know sod all about anything. Luckily I didn’t get to see the early show fronted by Dave Berry as by all accounts that was just as bad.
Next time E4; no presenters just the bands please. Unless of course it’s Jo Whiley.