Category Archives: Music

DRM-less iTunes

Steve Jobs has pulled off something truly phenomenal. Honestly, this is the biggest tech story so far this year as far as I’m concerned, but feel free to argue with me in the comments.

Several weeks ago, Jobs wrote an open letter, which effectively called on the record labels to forget about their inane Digital Rights Management (aka DRM) systems and allow Apple and iTunes (as well as others) to sell DRM-free music tracks. Doing so allows the people who PAID MONEY for the tracks to do whatever they want with the music that they PURCHASED. Well, it worked. EMI will be the first record label to step into these waters and for that, I give them major kudos. To most of you, this may seem irrelevant, but for folks like myself who have multiple computers, use multiple operating systems, it’s truly ground-breaking. I’ll now be able to carry my audio files with me no matter what computer or OS I happen to be using and I don’t have to worry about losing my access to those files if the computer went belly-up. Also, these tracks will be playable on any hardware or software audio player which supports the AAC codec. If it doesn’t, since the files have no DRM attached, you’ll be able to convert them to MP3 or whatever other format you choose. Apple said it pretty clearly in their press release though:

With DRM-free music from the EMI catalog, iTunes customers will have the ability to download tracks from their favorite EMI artists without any usage restrictions that limit the types of devices or number of computers that purchased songs can be played on. DRM-free songs purchased from the iTunes Store will be encoded in AAC at 256 kbps, twice the current bit rate of 128 kbps, and will play on all iPods, MacĀ® or Windows computers, Apple TVs and soon iPhones, as well as many other digital music players.

I honestly can’t wait to purchase my first DRM-free track from iTunes. Offering the 30-cent upgrade on previously purchased tracks is a really nice touch too. Apple already has a huge share of the online music market, and this will probably be the final nail in the coffins of some other online music stores (*cough* Zune Marketplace *cough*). This announcement along with Complete My Album which was announced last week will likely cause me to purchase more tracks (and albums) online than I have in the past.

It’s truly awesome to see Apple answering customer demand. I know that it’s lining their pockets more and more, and maybe that makes them evil, but the consumers are receiving what we’ve asked for, and it’s extremely cool from where I’m sitting to see that happening.

hootie in concert

So, me and a few friends have tickets to go see Hootie and the Blowfish on Friday night at the Bi-Lo Center and I’m getting pretty excited. Oddly enough, Friday will mark five years exactly since the last time that I saw them live @ Center City Fest in Charlotte. I went and dug up the story from my old LiveJournal days:

2001.04.28 @ 20:31
Last night was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. Practically dead center, less than 10 feet away from the stage (only a few feet from the safety rail) and Hootie and the Blowfish were on stage. One word. WOW! H&BF put on a really awesome show. They rocked Center CityFest in Charlotte. It was over around 12:30 last night and there is still a slight ringing in my ears now. My hall mate Nick has turned out to be a party animal. Who knew he could break it down like he did last night? Anyway, Hootie and the gang performed all the great ones. Time, Tuckerstown, Hold M Hand, Let Her Cry, and my personal fav Only Wanna Be With You. I think the best performance as far as crowd enjoyment goes was Runnin’ From an Angel. If you like Hootie you should definitely see them live sometime.

It’s really funny to go back and read some of that old stuff. I was so young and immature. Not that I’m much different now – just old and immature I guess.

too much to ask for?

I want a software-based remote for controlling an iTunes server. I know that the calls exist in the iTunes API because I’ve seen some software for a Tivo and obviously Apple uses it for the Airport Express. I just want to be able to control what’s playing on the WinXP PC in our office from anywhere else in the house with my laptop. Ideally, I think a Java applet of some sort would probably be cool so that it could work cross-platform. I’m booted into Linux 99% of the time that I’m on my laptop but I am forced into Win2k occasionally.iSee iTunes is a Tivo “hack” that will send commands through your Tivo to the iSee iTunes server on a Mac or Windows iTunes installation and it seems to be pretty nifty from what I can read. So – all this to say that I’m sure what I want is possible, it’s just not there yet. I can see this sort of thing as being wildly popular – too bad I’m no code monkey.

Maybe even a bash script would be something that could do the trick. How cool would this be:

syntax@seraph:~>itunes +1 (to skip forward one track)
syntax@seraph:~>itunes -3 (to skip nack three tracks)

Any ideas anyone?

hootie and the bLOWfish

One of my favorite commercials lately is the one with MC Hammer rapping in front of the mansion and then something like “10 minutes later” his pimpin’ ride is being repossesed and his possy is gone. Well, just when I’m enjoying this has-been artist making fun of himself, along comes someone who isn’t a has-been and completely embarasses himself in a commercial. I’m talking about Darius Rucker, more well known as “Hootie” of Hootie and the Blowfish and this new Burger King “Bacon Cheddar Ranch” commercial with this insanely annoying little jingle. Hootie has still been touring and doing OK for themselves even though they haven’t been mainstream in some time. I’m afraid I just lost a TON of respect for the man though… that commercial looks so cheap and Hootie looks like a dork.

UPDATE: If you’re looking for somewhere to watch the video, check out this post with some info on it.

not often

It’s very rare for this to happen, and even more rare for me to publically admit to it, but I’ve been wrong. I’ve never been a fan of Lenny Kravitz – and that’s putting it mildly. I guess it’s because I hated his first big single, was it “Fly Away” or something like that?

Anywho, moving on. The local morning show I listen to , Ace & TJ does this thing every once in a while called Superstar Series where they have an artist perform for a small group (usually acoustically) and last night, they had Lenny there for one. This morning, they played back the recording and I honestly think I’m gonna have to hop on iTunes and get his latest album, or at least a few songs from it. He is a honestly down to earth guy and a killer musician. He talked about how he has taken the last two years or so off to spend with his young daughter and to take care of his aging grandfather. So, my apologies to Mr. Kravitz for disliking him so much over the past few years.

like old times

And quickly on another note, I felt so old earlier today. Bonnie and myself spent the morning having our pictures taken at CVS and then went and applied for our passports in Rutherfordton. Finally I started to work around noon and was heading down the road listening to the “Retro Lunch” on the radio. Right as I was getting near ESI, Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You” started playing. I almost ran off the road. I can remember the first time I heard this song back when I was in high school. Is this song or all of Boyz II Men’s music already considered retro? *sigh* Talk about one of those “I feel like I’m getting old” moments. Wow.

ashlee simpson naked?

Bonnie sent me this today and I got such a kick out of it. The direct quote from the article that I loved is:

If Ashlee Simpson’s looking for a pick-me-up, a look at her Web site probably won’t help. There are some words of support from fans, but not everyone’s willing to let Saturday’s ‘SNL” gaffe pass.

One fan wrote he hoped her humiliation would be long lived. Another told her to go away and suggested she pose for Playboy, saying “If you wanna be famous for something, choose something you can actually do.”

I think it’s just grand that her horribly voice and lack of talent finally caught up with her. Now maybe the spotlight can go back to REAL singers like Brittany…