Category Archives: Technology

Serendipitous Blogging & Stifle III

Last Sunday’s post discussed frustrations with social media. The next day I happened upon this article touching on a similar, albeit more specific topic: live-tweeting.

I intended to rail against live-tweeting in last week’s article, but by the time I remembered to do so I was ready to be done with that particular entry. Although Daniel Carlson’s article centers around television, his complaints apply universally. A common, though perhaps less ubiquitous, phenomenon in music is the live-tweeting of setlists. While this occurs mostly with pop music, other styles aren’t exempt. NPR Music’s classical and jazz branches occasionally live-tweet setlists (or, rather, “programs”) from The Village Vanguard or Carnegie Hall. I just don’t get it. Are there folks sitting at home with the entire Chopin catalogue on standby, listening to whatever nocturnes and polonaise is tweeted next? (And to the many sources that live-tweeted Bruce Springsteen’s SXSW keynote address as he gave it: don’t do that again. Just publish a transcript afterwards.)

The closest I get to this as a consumer is my checking DMB’s setlist each night of a tour. Full disclosure: I’ve been doing this since 2000, and both the band and unofficial site provide real-time setlists online. But I don’t need the songs as they happen.

Once, unfortunately, I was on an end similar to the dreaded live-tweeter. At the 06.13.09 DMB show at Saratoga, NY’s SPAC – one of the absolute best DMB shows I’ve attended – I experienced my first “Halloween.” With the exception of 1992-4 and an unexpected run in 2008, this song is one of the band’s white whales (along with “Spoon” – still waiting to see that one live…). I’ve only seen it twice live, and the first didn’t happen until my 39th show. I absolutely LOST IT when they busted it out as a surprise encore. After my screaming and convulsing – dancing is too classy of word for what I was doing – I had to text all my friends who I thought would care. In my excitement and need to spread my joy via phone, I ended up missing a portion of this song I had waited so many years to see. And while I can relive DMB’s performance via audience tape, there’s a chunk of my excitement I cannot relive because I was staring at my phone. While I was never one to really text or anything during a rock concert before that night – I’ve never done the call-and-hoist-the-phone routine, and I never leave my phone on during classical or jazz performances – I’ve all but cut it out of my concert-going experiences since then. I’d rather be in the moment than on the network.

And when I saw “Halloween” again last year at The Gorge I didn’t grab for the phone – I sang and danced with my friends. That memory is much more intact.

“Halloween” @ SPAC 06.13.09


“Halloween” @ The Gorge 09.04.11
You can look for the back of my head in the pit. I was right under the chain of glow sticks, stage right… 🙂

Paying for what you like II: iCloud edition

Apple finally acknowledged its much-anticipated iCloud this week. Sort of. Actually, this week’s acknowledgement was more of a pre-announcement, as they said it would be officially announced and detailed next week. It was more akin to Republican leaders recently announcing exploratory committees for presidential campaigns that will be launched months later.

I’m no technovangelist, though I do have VERY strong opinions on technology and various technological corporations. I like what I like, and I know the pros and cons of the options (those I choose and those I don’t). Beyond that I lose the passion. I don’t have a need to convince others to use an iPhone over an Android. The cultish technological arguments that flood my Twitter and Facebook feeds consistently make me nauseous. But I must stand and defend Apple before the quasi-hipster-anti-iCloud tirade floods tech news and social networks.

In short, iCloud is expected to serve two purposes: 1) an upgrade to the cloud-based MobileMe, and 2) a subscription-based cloud music service. While appearing to be the last of the pack to hit the scene (Google and Amazon are already semi-operational), iCloud’s imminence caused Google and Amazon to hurry their rollouts. So much so that Google launched the beta version of its service without the record labels’ permission. Apple, on the other hand, has been in talks with the record companies for months and has apparently finalized publishing contracts to legitimately and legally place personal music libraries in the cloud.

The MobileMe upgrade really isn’t the focus here, but in full disclosure, I am a MobileMe subscriber. Yes, I pay $99/year for it. And yes, I get my money’s worth. (But, let me reiterate, I don’t really care if you use it or not – that doesn’t affect me whatsoever.) I pay for safe, secure, ad- and spam-free email and cloud service. Furthermore, as a bonus, my data is not sold to advertisers. Very exciting! [Note: The one time I had a technical issue, I instant messaged with a real human who corrected the problem within minutes. Many free services don’t offer this – you have to hope for the best, whining via Twitter in the interim. I realize it’s not for everyone. But if you regularly switch between multiple personal computers and portable devices, it works wonders.]

Regarding the cloud-based music service, you can read the various tech specs elsewhere. What I’d like to emphasize here is the monetization aspect. Myriad complaints have already surfaced that Apple will bundle this service in with MobileMe/iCloud, consequently requiring either a flat annual fee (as it is now), or possibly via rolling monthly subscriptions. Before you sneer and run to Google (never evil? really? ha!) or Amazon, keep in mind that Apple’s agreement with the various record companies comes with a nine-digit up-front price tag ($100,000,000). Sure, executives at Apple and Sony live comfortable lives and don’t need our financial assistance. But the artists who create and perform the music we enjoy DO! (A big reason Google doesn’t have licensing agreements with the major labels is because Google doesn’t want to sidestep the illegal-download-havens that are P2P communities.) Like the aforementioned executives, U2 and Green Day are financially set. No handouts required. However, the countless road acts and up-and-comers out there rely on the emotional, social, and financial participation of its fans for survival. And so if people are going to enjoy Road Act X’s music at home and now in the cloud, Road Act X should be compensated accordingly. Unless, of course, the band decides against it. That’s their right also. (Also in full disclosure, I don’t foresee myself utilizing the “music cloud” too much. I prefer my portable devices and local copies.)

As stated above, I like what I like. And as this entry’s title and this blog as a whole state, I pay for what I like.

Most of the people I know are musicians, or at least musically-inclined. Sadly, these are the same people whose whining will flood my social network feeds. Some are even composers – people who should love the idea of publishing royalties. Yet, unfortunately, I fear most will continue lobbying to live in this so-called “economy of the free.” Blech.

I maintain: pay for what you like.