Music

In the beginning (well, my beginning anyway) there were LPs and my parents old 33s. Then cameth cassette tapes and behold the radiant wonder of the CD. Upon this time was a golden age of mixtapes, whereupon one might assemble a cherrypicked selection of tunes (and come on – some may disagree but wouldn’t you say most albums are a few good songs and a bunch of filler?) for thine only pleasure or to pitcheth a bit of woo… (gettest thou to the High Fidelity if you are ill-informed of this most wond’rous art.) More at Kirk’s UI Dev Blog.

Kirk covers a lot of the frustrations of dealing with keeping music in 2019 and I get where he is coming from. It also coincides with a conversation I had with a friend from work, a friend who buys music on CD. Yes, seriously. He buys music on little discs, the like of which people used to buy in the olden days.

It dawned on me that time has moved on to the point that for some of us physical music makes no sense at all. The idea that you should buy music on a physical disc for it to feel real makes sense until you realise this is an illusion. Imagine for instance 400 CDs on shelves- how many of them would get played and even those that do would only come off the shelf very occasionally. They sit there for 99.9% of the time doing nothing apart from taking up space and using the Earths resources to be made in the first place.

Also, my experience with Apple Music is one of discovery to the point that the majority of music I play on a daily basis was unknown to me 2 years ago. Artists like Billie Eilish would have passed me by completely were it not for streaming and I am now more than happy to pay a monthly subscription, presumably for the rest of my life, to have access to all of the music I need. CDs be damned.

Note: the music in the video below is brilliant, the visuals, however, may not suit those of you with a nervous disposition.

Sunrise Records buys HMV, but why?

Canadian music store chain Sunrise Records has struck a deal to buy British retailer HMV out of bankruptcy in a deal that will keep most of the locations in Britain open… More here.

This Is not a new story of course, but thanks to Bob for sending it in.

I was in Norfolk earlier this week and a lady from Heart FM was wondering the streets interviewing people about HMV. I managed to get caught and was asked the following questions, my answers in italics.

When was the last time you bought music on a physical format?

So long ago I cannot remember.

Do you think HMV will do well in the future?

No

Will niche products like vinyl save the company?

No

I just don’t understand where the company can go. Feel free to enlighten me in the comments.

Going For A Song

Garth Cartwright has travelled the length and breadth of the country, conducting more than 100 interviews with some of the icons of the record shop trade and the wider music industry, including Martin Mills (Beggars Banquet), Geoff Travis (Rough Trade), Andy Gray (Andy’s Records), Ralph McTell, Chris Barber, The Specials and many more. Featuring a foreword by the renowned comedian and writer, Stewart Lee. From the UK’s first record shop, Garth traces the history through more than a century of unprecedented social, cultural and political change… Available here.

Looks like a really good book and it’s available at HMV for £4.99 with any other purchase. Best to grab it from HMV while it is still there…

Spy on people with your AirPods

It’s an accessibility feature mainly designed for the benefit for the hearing impaired.

However, as some users have pointed out on Reddit and Twitter, Live Listen also means Apple users can listen to conversations going on in another room – as long as their iPhone is in the room, they have their AirPods in and Live Listen is turned on… More at The Independent.

No doubt the aim is positive, but did Apple really not forsee this as a potential problem?

Apple Music Wrapped

I’ve always been annoyed by the lack of a similar feature in Apple Music; I’m surprised that Apple still hasn’t added a native “Year in Review” option – a baffling omission given how the company is already collecting all of the necessary data points in the cloud. Official “Apple Music Wrapped” functionality would bolster the service’s catalog of personalized features, providing users with a “reward” at the end of the year in the form of reports and playlists to help them rediscover what they listened to over the past year.

But Apple doesn’t seem interested in adding this feature to Apple Music, so I decided to build my own using Shortcuts. The result is the most complex shortcut I’ve ever created comprising over 540 actions. It’s not perfect due to the limitations of iOS and Shortcuts, but it’s the closest I was able to come to replicating Spotify’s excellent Wrapped feature… More at MacStories.

A brilliant shortcut, it really is.

The L100 CLASSIC

In 1970, JBL released the iconic L100 Loudspeaker. Over the years, the L100 became the bestselling loudspeaker in JBL’s history.

In 2018, we are proud to bring you the JBL L100 Classic, a modern take on a time-honored legend. The Classic features vintage styling, including a retro-inspired design and iconic Quadrex foam grille, along with newly developed acoustic technology and designs for elite performance… More here.

I have no idea if this is a good speaker, but the design caught me immediately. So retro and modern in equal measure.

Where have all the music magazines gone?

In the United States, music coverage now often comes in the form of “20 songs you need right now.” Websites offer features that masquerade as listicles detailing “10 reasons you should listen to so-and-so” or brief posts built around new singles, new videos, artistic feuds, and trending memes. Don’t get me wrong — I need music news, and I love a good list ranking ABBA’s 25 best songs, which is 23 more than I knew existed. I also love being whisked away in a story. Music is the thing that unites all people, and immersive music writing can provide as pleasurable an experience as an hour alone with your streaming service… More at Longreads.

Related to the HMV article below, but there’s a LOT of money still being made in music. Sadly it does, however, seem to be concentrated within the major artists and bigger labels.

HMV finally going down?

Owners Hilco, which took the company out of its first administration in 2013, blamed a “tsunami” of retail challenges, including business rate levels and the move to digital.

It said the stores would continue to trade while negotiations were held with major suppliers and it looked for buyers… More here.

In a way it’s sad because this is a store that I have purchased from for many years, but the writing has been on the wall for far too long. From time to time I visit HMV, but it sells nothing I would buy any more.

I do not buy CDs because I use Apple Music. I do not buy DVDs because I use Prime Video, Netflix and iTunes. I do not buy headphones from HMV because they are available much cheaper elsewhere. And I do not buy T-shirts with superheroes printed on them because I am not eight years old.

The real surprise here is that the chain managed to stay alive this long. With what it sells currently it has absolutely no future at all.