Technologizer posts about Music

Facebook Pumps Up The Volume

By  |  Posted at 11:40 pm on Friday, January 13, 2012


In Facebook’s never-ending quest to get you to stay on its site even longer, the site has rolled out a new feature for music services on the social networking site. Now, when those music statuses appear on your newsfeed, clicking on their name will pop up a window with a button to “Listen With” that friend. Making it even more fun, you’ll start the music at the exact same point, essentially allowing your friend to play DJ.

The listen feature will works in both individual and group settings. Those friends listening to music will show a music note beside their name. Initially Spotify, Mog, and Rdio are supported, although Facebook says other services are on their way.

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GarageBand Comes to the iPhone

By  |  Posted at 2:37 pm on Tuesday, November 1, 2011

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When Apple brought its OS X music app GarageBand to the iPad earlier this year, it was a convincing counter-argument–one of many–to the increasingly tired theory that the iPad is only good for consuming stuff, not creating it. Now it’s taken that iOS version of the app and made it work on the iPhone (and iPod Touch), too. (It’s one universal $4.99 app for all three devices.)

On the iPhone, GarageBand is a nicely shrunken-down version of its iPad self, with virtual pianos, organs, drums, guitars, and the ability to record and play with samples and plug in a guitar. You can record music and transfer it to the OS X version of GarageBand (which is part of iLife) for further work.

I don’t even qualify as an amateur musician, but GarageBand is fun to play with, and the general level of polish and ambition is exceptionally impressive. I’ll be fascinated to see what people who know what they’re doing do with it. Images after the jump.

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MOG Goes Free to Fight Spotify, but With a Twist

By  |  Posted at 1:37 pm on Wednesday, September 14, 2011


If Spotify proved one thing with its U.S. launch, it’s that people will go nuts for free music. So now MOG, one of my favorite paid streaming music services, is getting a free version of its own.

Like Spotify, MOG lets you listen to any song or album you want from a library of about 11 million tracks. But unlike Spotify, MOG’s free service isn’t strictly time-limited. (Spotify users get six months of unrestricted listening, followed by 10 hours per month and five plays per track.) Instead, MOG uses a game-like system that rewards certain actions with more free listening. Refer some friends, get some free time. Recommend a playlist, get more free time. Click on an ad, get more free time.

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Read more: , , iPhone App? Sounds Good, But…

By  |  Posted at 1:44 pm on Thursday, September 8, 2011


The bug hit me hard about a month ago. Suddenly I was wasting hours DJing alongside my friends, hoarding points to upgrade my avatar and building a big database of cool music that I’d never heard before. All the while, my friends and I asked the same question: Where’s the smartphone app?

Now, TechCrunch reports that a iPhone app is coming soon, and the site has a handful of screenshots to prove it. (Co-founder Billy Chasen seems to have confirmed the rumor, writing in the comments that “We were saving this as a surprise for [TechCrunch's Disrupt conference] when I’m on stage.”)

That’s great news, but it also makes me wonder whether the free ride on this very cool music service is coming to an end.

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6 Questions About Spotify’s U.S. Launch

By  |  Posted at 3:31 pm on Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Subscription music service Spotify has announced that it will finally be launching in the United States — at some point. The company, which is known overseas for streaming millions of ad-supported songs on demand at no charge, provided hardly any details on its U.S. plans. Spotify simply confirmed the news and started a sign-up process for invites.

Naturally, that leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Here’s what I’d most like to know about Spotify’s U.S. launch:

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John Linnell of They Might Be Giants: A Technologizer Tech Interview

By  |  Posted at 12:22 am on Monday, June 13, 2011


Few musical acts have the power to excite tech enthusiasts like They Might Be Giants. The band’s attention to detail, appreciation for humor, and perennial refusal to follow the status quo strongly resonate with nerd-folk (think: engineers, programmers) who rely on minutiae and unconventional thinking to do their jobs.

Their unique approach has earned the band two Grammy awards (and three nominations) in the last 10 years for work with Malcolm in the Middle and a string of well-received children’s albums. Of course, with 15 studio albums under their belt, they aren’t exclusively an act for kids. While perhaps best known in the adult world for the 1990 album Flood, it’s impossible to choose a single TMBG record that represents such a large and diverse body of work.

At the core of TMBG is a 29-year partnership between two good friends: John Linnell, 52, and John Flansburgh, 51, who function like two halves of the same brain. Flansburgh delivers culturally-reflective philosophical works in broad strokes, while Linnell often sings through the character of an insecure, paranoid introvert that explores subjects in elaborate detail.

TMBG are known for their eager adoption of technology in creating and marketing their music. The group first relied on an electronic drum machine before adopting a full live band, then adopted computer sequencing in production work. In the mid-1990s, TMBG quickly set up a strong presence on the nascent Web, and they crowned that era by releasing the first full-length MP3-only album in 1999. To this day, they continue their high-tech track record by embracing online distribution, email newsletters, and podcasting as a way to reach out to fans in the post-label era.

As a student of computer and video game history, I often interview people who helped to make the information technology industry what it is today. But I think it’s also important from a historical perspective to explore the impact of technology on the rest of the world. That’s why I asked John Linnell to recall his earliest experiences with such machines and to reflect on how computers have impacted his profession.

In early May of this year, Linnell and I spoke at length over the phone about these subjects while also touching on his fruitful partnership with Flansburgh and how it has ensured the continued success of their band.

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I Visited a CD Store Today. (Remember Those?)

By  |  Posted at 11:15 pm on Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I was a frequent Tower Records shopper until that chain collapsed, and it’s only been gone since 2006. I went to the Virgin Megastores in San Francisco and New York pretty often, too, and they closed in 2009. That doesn’t seem that long ago.

But at the moment, I’m in San Diego for Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference, and when I saw a Sam Goody music store in the same complex as my hotel, I wandered in–and boy, did what I found feel like something from another era.

Until I came across it, I wasn’t sure whether Sam Goody (which was founded in New York City in the 1950s by Samuel Gutowitz) still existed. Apparently, even Sam Goody is uncertain whether Sam Goody still exists: Wikipedia (which refers to the chain in the past tense) says it’s owned by Trans World Entertainment, which also owns FYE, the last bastion of big-time shopping-mall music stores. But the company apparently converted most of the remaining Goody stores into FYEs in 2008 and doesn’t even mention the chain on its corporate site. There is no such place as anymore, either.

But this San Diego Sam Goody refuses to acknowledge its own fate, like a Japanese soldier hiding out on a Pacific island somewhere. (In this case, the island happens to be Horton Plaza, a sprawling open-air shopping center in San Diego’s Gaslight Quarter.)

The Goody store is a close cousin of the Tower Records and Virgin Megastores I’d once found worth my time, but I’d almost forgotten what they were like, and had to reacclimate myself to the whole concept of a great big retailer dealing primarily in discs with things recorded on them. As I toured the place, I took fuzzy photos with my iPhone.

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At Last, Slacker Gets On-Demand Music (and a Neat iPad App)

By  |  Posted at 2:13 am on Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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Way back in March of 2010, nifty Internet radio service Slacker began demoing features for on-demand listening, putting it more squarely in competition with Rhapsody, Napster, and other all-you-can-eat subscription services. Today, it’s finally launching the service. It’s available in its browser-based version and iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, and BlackBerry versions–and also in a new iPad version.

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Hands-On With Google Music Beta

By  |  Posted at 10:43 pm on Wednesday, May 11, 2011


While many of us Google I/O attendees were unsurprised by yesterday’s announcement that Google was launching its own cloud-based music service, we were excited to learn that every one of us would be getting a priority invite to the service. As a big music nerd, I was excited to give it a test spin. Can Google do music? Read on to find out.

What It’s All About

Music Beta lets you upload your personal music collection to the cloud for streaming to your computer and other Android devices. Sound kind of familiar? You might recall that Amazon also rolled out a music player this year, Cloud Player. But unlike Amazon’s service, Google’s Music Beta does not sell music. So what’s the appeal? It’s simple and if you do everything through your Google account anyway, you might as well add music management to the mix. Furthermore, Android has always had a miserable music organization system so Music Beta is definitely a welcome addition to the platform.

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Google Music and Movies: Your Questions Answered

By  |  Posted at 10:09 pm on Tuesday, May 10, 2011

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That little green robot must be struggling to catch his breath.

In addition to unveiling two significant updates to its Android operating system on Tuesday – Android 3.1 and the next-generation Android Ice Cream Sandwich – Google took the wraps off its long-discussed Google Music service and launched a new movie service for Android, too. It was all part of Google’s annual I/O conference for developers, taking place this week in San Francisco.

So what are Google’s new music and movie services all about, and how will they work for you? Here are answers to all your burning questions.

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Microsoft’s Skype Buy Creates Conflict for Rdio [Update]

By  |  Posted at 4:24 pm on Tuesday, May 10, 2011

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All Things D’s Peter Kafka picked up on an interesting wrinkle in Microsoft’s Skype acquisition: Subscription-based music service Rdio may be in trouble.

Skype has a $6 million investment in Rdio, thanks to some lawsuit madness involving Skype’s founders and several Silicon Valley players. Kafka said he’s “pretty sure” Skype and Rdio were planning to deepen ties and drum up more users for the music service.

But Microsoft has its own music service, Zune Pass, and it seems unlikely that the company will want to manage a competitor. For now, neither Microsoft nor Rdio are commenting. (UPDATE: See the end of the post for Rdio’s statement.)

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The music industry thinks that file-sharing service LimeWire may have owe it $75 trillion–not a typo, and more money than the everyone in the recorded-music business has made in its entire history.

Posted by Harry at 9:02 am

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Ping May Be Pinging Away At Your Battery Life

By  |  Posted at 4:14 pm on Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Along with a host of other features that came with the release of iOS 4.3 earlier this month was the addition of Apple’s music-based social network to iTunes on iOS devices. Now it appears as if the service may be placing an additional strain on battery life, and users are seemingly not too happy about it.

The issues seem to come from the fact that while listening to music through the iPod application, information is being transmitted to and from the device in order to make the social networking functionality work as intended. Data usage is one of the fastest drains on your smartphone’s battery, so your iPhone or iPad could die a lot quicker than you’re used to.

The problem can be easily fixed though, and anecdotal reports indicate battery life returns to normal after Ping has been turned off. To do so, open up the Settings app, then tap General and then Restrictions. After this tap Enable Restrictions, and tap the slider by the Ping option to set it to off. Ping will then be disabled.

I’m curious to hear if you have seen a decrease in battery life. I’m a heavy data user, so frankly I’ve noticed nothing out of the ordinary — but maybe you’reusing the iPod functionality more than I am. Let us and everyone else know if changing this setting fixes any battery issues you may have had.

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Fun with the New Squeezebox Remote Android App

By  |  Posted at 10:32 am on Thursday, March 24, 2011

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What happens when you install the new Logitech Squeezebox Remote app from the Android Marketplace and proceed to play around with the interface from a remote location? You scare the pants off anybody who’s still at home and wondering why the little radio box is suddenly playing music all by itself*. That’s what happened this afternoon when I decided to test out the new Android app despite not being anywhere near my Squeezebox. The app loaded beautifully, and apparently it had no trouble communicating with my player. Here’s the text message I received from home shortly afterward: “Your squeezebox just came on by itself. #afraidtogodownstairs”

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Some Quick Thoughts on GarageBand for iPad

By  |  Posted at 5:13 pm on Thursday, March 10, 2011


Don’t tell Apple, but I might’ve upgraded to an iPad 2 if GarageBand didn’t work on the original. As a lapsed musician, I’ve been cobbling together iPad music apps since last year, but I could never find the one that did it all — recording, sampling, looping, synthesizing — at least in an affordable package.

So for me, GarageBand was the highlight of Apple’s iPad 2 event. When the $5 app launched in the iOS App Store today, I grabbed it immediately. Here’s what I think so far:

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Copyright Hits New Low as WMG Silences “Forget You” Sign Language Video [Update: It's Back]

By  |  Posted at 8:26 am on Tuesday, March 1, 2011


[Update: The audio is back, and WMG's copyright notice is gone. Original post below.]

Iunderstand that record labels need to protect their copyrights, but sometimes, they ought to make exceptions, as with this sign language adaptation of Cee-Lo’s “Forget You” (as the PG-13 version is known).

The YouTube video, put together by a college student named Anna, has been viewed over 1.3 million times since she uploaded it in December. As the audio track plays in the background, Anna delivers the lyrics with emphatic sign language.

Only now, the audio part is gone, thanks to Warner Music Group. In its place is a notice: “This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by WMG. The audio has been disabled.”

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