My Sunday Audio Technology Binge

What could be finer than binging on the 12 audio CD box set, Otis Redding, Soul Manifesto: 1964-1970

The collection features the eight studio and live albums that Redding recorded between 1964 and 1967, as well as several essential posthumous sets.

The King of Soul’s box set gives me the opportunity to test the Spotify on Chromecast (2.0) solution. There are several features I am really liking such as an effortless find of the Google Chromecast device on the home wireless network (Connect to a device option).  Then the pairing with the Spotify Web app which instinctively knows I have used the Apple iPhone Spotify app to connect to the device. (The Spotify device icon states, “You are playing from: Chromecast”, a nice pairing…The audio is smooth at a dedicated 5GB throughput through Chromecast to the SONY Blu-Ray 7.1 Home Theatre sound system.

Bet you thought I was going to reveal my device network….not…..

I’ve been listening to Otis my man from the first track until the Mets World Series game tonight. Wonder how far I’ll get 😉

Part II of this audio binge (next chance I get) will be with Tidal HiFi, Google Chromecast and the Sony Blu-Ray system. The audio fidelity is much better that way 🙂

TIDAL HiFi, Why I Kicked Spotify To The Curb

Four years ago, I became a Day One subscriber to Spotify for $9.99 a month after I kicked Zune to the curb. I subscribed to Spotify for two main reasons. 1) Spotify promised better audio quality than the MP3 Freemium music distribution model. 2) Spotify promised to pay artists better royalty payments with a “portion” of the $9.99 a month they collected from me and others. After four years as a Spotify subscriber I have pulled the plug on Spotify Premium. I cancelled the $9.99 a month option. Spotify from my experience failed to meet the “two commitments” I wanted from them as a customer. I witnessed and read how “little” Spotify was paying artists for their content.  I never received more than 320 kbps audio sound from Spotify. In the four year interim 2011 to 2015 digital audio quality improved. I own and use a high resolution PONO Music Player. I can truly hear the difference with HiRes sound. I switched my subscription to TIDAL HiFi last week, $19.99 a month. I am finally listening to the high fidelity audio music quality Spotify failed to deliver upon. I am confident TIDAL HiFi will pay artists higher royalties. After all they aren’t “owned” by a record company as an investor. They are an artist owned platform. The “sweetener” for me is TIDAL HiFi and Sonos. I itch to own a Sonos Play:1 sound cube that allows me to hear hi-def music wirelessly. So long Spotify, Hello TIDAL HiFi. #TIDALforALL

whyd, “A Human Pandora”, Really?

Been reading recent ink on whyd, a social record collection. They have an iPhone App available here.

whyd’s goal is to be a “Human Pandora “, which allows people to discover new music that they wouldn’t have found out about otherwise.

As a music connoisseur I’m resistant when it comes to someone “picking my music for me”. I rejected BeatsMusic as a music service because their music curation method presented itself like progressive FM disk jockey playlist, all filler no substance…

I consider myself a crate digger. I will happily comb through vinyl record crates for new music. In addition I search extensively through music magazine Web sites such as Rolling Stone, Uncut, MOJO Magazine, Paste, etc. for music recommendations.

Don’t get me wrong I’m open to human curation. I think we can benefit from another person’s music explorations, choices and playlist builds.

I keep expecting to see Spotify with their acquisition of The Echo Nest evidence “intelligent” software curation in the Spotify application.

I just installed the whyd app today so I don’t have enough time in service to comment on its capabilities yet. I will follow-up at a later time with a technical assessment of whyd.

Father’s Day 2014, A Beautiful Day in the Music of Our Heart

This has been a wonderful Father’s Day 2014. The weather has cooperated marvelously, its Sunny, 76 degrees and there is a slight, cool breeze in the air.

I was very touched to receive from my son, Matthew a meaningful music gift he hand crafted on Spotify. He made my very own Spotify Music Playlist. Matthew has made TODAY playlists on Spotify that I love listening to online.

He surprised me with the image and the psychedelic rock art. I recall the day his Mother took this picture of us on our living room floor.

This is what my son wrote on my Facebook wall today 🙂

#HappyFathersDay to the ORIGINAL music man. to those who don’t know, it’s where all my love for music comes from. The day i learned how to stand, was the same day i learned how to rock! I really couldn’t have done it without the help of Edward David Jennings

So in Honor of #OMJ and Fathers Everywhere who have taught us maybe more than they know. Here’s a little Special playlist to show you where my family comes from. Long Live Rock!

http://open.spotify.com/user/containedexplosion/playlist/4cQRrkYE5bdutdoACyYzpd

Happy Fathers Day OMJ!

For those of you who don’t know my nickname OMJ stands for Old Man Jennings 🙂

Thank you Matthew it is you who rocks. I am so blessed to share the love, music and memories with you and Mom. I am really proud to be your Father.

 

Crowder – Neon Steeple

Neon Steeple is a soulful début album from Crowder, an artist who possesses an insightful depth that conveys heartfelt meanings directly to the listener.

I’ve listened to Neon Steeple tonight on Spotify marvelling at the feelings that it ignites inside the music of our heart. Being a religious person of devout faith I am comforted by the warmth Crowder resonates inside my being.

The album is more like an in-depth look at the soul – the humanity, the redemption and the regenerated. – Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com

Enchant yourself with a listen to Crowder’s Neon Steeple. You’ll be pleasantly surprised and blessed all at the same time. Oh and don’t forget to clap along 😉

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Oh Happy Day! Spotify and The Echo Nest Become One

Spotify made a friendly, strategic acquisition of their long time music intelligence metabase partner, The Echo Nest. I couldn’t be more enthusiastic to see these two music platform technology companies working more harmoniously to further their common music vision.

The collective intelligence of The EchoNest combined with the discovery of Spotify looms significant for music listeners, record companies, and artists. TechCrunch sees this partnership as creating a “Facebook Connect for Music”. This will be accomplished with The Echo Nest API remaining in place and continuing to serve the need of developers and music companies who use it such as XBox Music, rdio, MOG (BeatsMusic) to name just a few.

Spotify seeks to be the music identity provider across the web and mobile the way Facebook has become a social identity provider.

Spotify and The Echo Nest have a long, mutually beneficial history together. Back in March 2012, the two integrated their APIs so that any Spotify app developer could tap into The Echo Nest’s music intelligence technology. In March 2013, Microsoft, Spotify, and The Echo Nest joined forces to create Mixshape, a visual tool that automatically sorts playlists based on the properties and moods of individual songs.

What excites me the most about this closer development synergy is how Spotify will evolve and ratchet up another layer or two. Music hacking thrives with increased dimensionality now that Spotify and The Echo Nest are one entity.

Jim Lucchese says The Echo Nest and Spotify both have “music hacker cultures. We move quickly. Our goal is to start pushing things that will have a real impact on the [Spotify] user experience as soon as possible. I think probably in the next three months you’ll start seeing things in Spotify based on what we did here today that will have a big impact on music fans.”

Improvements to Spotify’s radio algorithm, discovery suggestions, and more could come even sooner, Daniel Ek says. “I expect to see things that touch consumers really, really fast. You’ll start noticing improvements pretty much instantly.”

I expect further analysis and commentary as the industry processes this announcement. Man do I love this deal and what it will bring us all.

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No thanks beatsMUSIC, I’ll be staying with Spotify

I have completed my trial evaluation of beatsMUSIC. I am impressed with their interface and “human” curation. But unfortunately I found beatsMUSIC a “Closed” cloud music solution. I am a music technologist who respects innovation and music software development. beatsMUSIC achieves those attributes to a “degree” but it lacks being an extensive “development” platform. beatsMUSIC doesn’t publish an application programming interface that encourages music software development.

I am staying with Spotify because it is an “Open” cloud music platform. Spotify allows me as a subscriber to choose the music application I wish to use to grow my music listening experience. Spotify offers a cloud music architectural platform that embraces music software engineering (music hackathons) to take place on a global scale. We in turn as listeners get the advantage of harnessing those apps and interpreting music from new vantage points. I don’t get those options at all from beatsMUSIC. beatsMUSIC programs my music for me (didn’t radio do that for decades…) or I can build a music playlist, underwhelming options, already available elsewhere if you ask me.

The true competitive advantage Spotify has over beatsMUSIC, Pandora, etc. are the applications Just like on Apple’s iPhone or the Android phone the rich set of applications helps to sophisticate the use of these devices. Spotify like Apple’s iOS is a software platform.

Let’s look at Spotify from the jazz listener point of view. The Spotify Web application has the option App Finder listed under the Apps section. I found two premier Spotify Jazz apps from 2013, Blue Note Record’s Timeline and JazzTimes Magazine and Concord Music Group The StylusThe Blue Note application leverages the Blue Note historical timeline of jazz. You can set various filters for jazz artists by sector (Tradition, Groove, Voices) and instruments.

The Stylus app was developed for JazzTimes and Concord Music Group by a development company known as Neon Roots. Albeit a random app to play with I find it intriguing to discover jazz genres and artists. Give it a spin sometime and see what I mean 😉

Spotify continues to innovate and invent on behalf of the music listener with a technological interest towards what lies next in the cloud music ecosystem.

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Spotify Exclusive – Led Zeppelin Catalogue

Significant news, Led Zeppelin is now streaming their catalogue EXCLUSIVELY on Spotify. This is the first time it is available on a streaming service.

Spotify will roll out in chronological order two Led Zeppelin albums a day until the catalogue is fully in place.

Bring It On Home To Me!

Talk About, X-Box Music

I was acknowledged by Hypebot, one of several music news services I follow that X-Box Music and GraceNote have entered into a strategic alliance. GraceNote and The Echo Nest represent two of the biggest metadata solutions for cloud music.

It stands to reason that since Apple iTunes has at its core a GraceNote database, that Microsoft would follow suit with X-Box Music since it closely mimics iTunes for Windows users. X-Box Music also differentiates itself from iTunes in several distinct ways.

For example, X-Box Music is now available as a distributed cross-platform application. X-Box Music became available today for Apple iOS and Google Android. X-Box Music is also available as a Web application and as a Windows 8.1 Panel App. X-Box Music is highlighted on the X-Box One where you can take advantage of X-Box Smart Glass and the full-range Dolby® Digital N1 SurroundBar for maximum high performance audio.

You can free stream X-Box Music on the Web and Windows 8 for six months. I will resort to that option after I trial X-Box Music on my Apple iPhone 4s with the 30 day trial. This device option requires an X-Box Music Pass which translates into having to give Microsoft X-Box Music a charge card to hold your account reservation for the first 30 days. I will cancel on day 30 because I want to experience X-Box Music as a digital music service via AT&T 4G, but I’m not convinced to pay $9.99 a month.

pass

Initial X-Box Music testing has been fun and immediate. It’s not cumbersome and distant like I found the Google Play interface and navigation experience. I was a Zune Music user for three years before I switched to Spotify North America, on Day 1, July 14, 2011. Quite frankly I would have stayed with Zune Music if they didn’t have such a disruptive and unfriendly (rude) non-transition strategy. I was never offered a transition from Zune to X-Box Music. I was orphaned by Microsoft as a Zune Music customer. I resent their lack of acknowledgement and appreciation of my customer loyalty.

I have enjoyed Spotify these past three and a half years. I realize as a technology professional that no technology is permanent. Spotify faces competitive challenges from Google Play and X-Box Music. I don’t see iTunes Radio as a competitive challenge for Spotify nor do I see Pandora, Rdio, Amazon Player or any of the other cloud music also rans as much of a joint threat for Spotify.

I do however see significant challenges for Spotify from next years cloud music solutions Beats Music and Neil Young’s PONO. To be quite honest with you I am leaning heavily towards PONO due to its promise of 100% high-resolution audio. I suspect that X-Box Music is MP3 320kbs just like Spotify but keep in mind Beats Music is sight and audio unseen for me. I am not one of the exclusive few who is testing Beats Music.

I appreciate the Beats Audio music chassis and how intelligent curation will expand and shape my listening experience. I have a great deal of respect for Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre and Trent Reznor. I have yet to experience what the rest of the Beats Music team will bring us from the cloud.

Spotify is readying a December 11th New York City product and strategy announcement (supposedly it has something to do with a new feature that will allow users to pick specific tracks and listen to them on mobile devices for free?) I am eager to see if the 12/11 Spotify press conference will become a pre-emptive strike on Beats Music and You Tube Music (rumored but not formalized (announced) as of this writing) etc. Google Play should be integrated with YouTube Music if Google is smart, which they are 😉

So I continue to test X-Box Music with my ecosystem (iPhone, MacBook Pro (Web) and Windows 8.1 in VMware Fusion). I’d love to experience X-Box Music on X-Box One so I understand how that works and benefits listeners.

It will be an exciting time ahead for cloud music filled with new solutions, increased functionality and dimension from existing players and the anticipated fall-out in a crowded, competitive arena.

To the victors go the spoils!

I suspect that Beats Music will partner with GraceNote too. I’d love to be pleasantly surprised to see a Beats Music and The Echo Nest partnership. Beats Music open music architecture could make it real interesting cloud music battle.

 

A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man

This past February I wrote about Holly George-Warren in my music journalism series . I mentioned at that time Holly was working on a biography about her friend the late Alex Chilton. I received my copy of The Oxford American, Southern Music Issue, The Music of Tennessee this past weekend. The first article that anchored my attention is a piece Holly George-Warren wrote that sets the stage for the highly anticipated book,  A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops To Big Star To Back Door ManThe magazine article is titled, “The Muse of Memphis”. We learn about the relationship and the influence Lesa Aldridge (Elizabeth Hoehn) on Alex Chilton.

So tonight I sit here in my easy chair, listening to Big Star’s Radio City on Spotify as I immerse myself in the muse of Alex Chilton’s magic and Holly George-Warren’s superb narrative 🙂

I can’t wait for the book to be published and released by Viking Adult on March 20th, 2014.