It keeps hitting you…

It hits you. It keeps hitting you. You don’t know when it’ll end, because there’s some things you simply cannot prepare for. A loved one dies. A loved one dies suddenly. A loved one dies tragically. You might feel numb. You might feel angry. You might be overwhelmed with so many different — and even conflicting — feelings… More here.

Such a talented and thoughtful man. The song below is just one example of his depth.

Bohemian Rhapsody (film) thoughts

As you know, Queen are the best band that ever lived. They are better than The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and even Boyzone…

When I was 11 I was playing snooker round a friend’s house and he asked me if I liked Queen. I had never heard of them, but after 30 minutes of the Greatest Hits I was intrigued, excited and clamouring to hear more.

Over the next few years every birthday and Christmas would bring me new Queen albums until I owned them all, and then the collecting continued until they numbered in the hundreds.

I know every Queen song inside out, I could tell you the month each album was released and I could tell you the track listing for every album, and which which member of Queen wrote each song. This is not deliberate, this is just the way it is when you grew up with a passion to make up for the standard anxieties of being a teenager.

Of the plus 500 songs Queen have recorded there are probably three that I do not like and more than 100 that I believe to be exceptional. The rest are on the whole better than any other artist could manage and so the band is very important to me and always will be.


I wasn’t expecting much from the film and indeed was expecting to be letdown. This is Queen, how could a film come close to what I already know. I was expecting to criticise the factual nature of the storyline, but on the whole I couldn’t. A couple of parts felt twisted to be more interesting, such as the way the band were excited about John Deacon playing Another One Bites The Dust for the first time. My understanding is that the song barely made the album it ended up on.

Rami Malek is both brilliant and annoying as Freddie Mercury. He mimics his onstage persona brilliantly and looks like him most of the time. However, I struggle to believe that Freddie spoke the way Malek does in the film – at times he almost makes Mercury sound simple and barely human which seems strange.

The plot is quite shallow with the characters of Brian, Roger and John not being fleshed out in any way and leaving them as bit parts against the overpowering personality of Mercury. It highlights how they all wrote the music, but here we have an astonishing collection of people capable of writing huge hits that no other band has collectively managed to do. Brian May (We Will Rock You, Who Wants To Live Forever), Roger Taylor (Radio Ga Ga, A Kind of Magic), John Deacon (Another One Bites The Dust, I Want to Break Free), Freddie Mercury (Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody To love etc) – they all wrote wonderful songs and it was not fleshed out enough in the movie to highlight this, and the collective nature of their writing was also largely ignored.

The growing popularity of the band was also very simple with a seemingly unhindered route to success just happening without any real problems, apart from the problems Freddie faced being controlled by the evil Irishman. Even then, a couple of the lines were not factual, but it didn’t get in the way.

As the film gains momentum near the end we reach the Live Aid performance. That Live Aid performance which is still considered by many to be the best 20 minutes of live music ever.

The way it is filmed and the audio that runs in the background, the original audio of the performance, is extraordinary. My wife and daughter thought the same and we all had tears in our eyes as it played out. Not through sadness, but through the sheer immersive nature of the production. I can’t explain it, you will have to see it to understand what I mean, but that last 20 minutes is worth the price of admission on its own. It is quite amazing even if the rest of the film is slightly confusing. The film is, however, still the best I have seen in 10 years, and marginally better than A Star Is Born which is also a superb offering.

RHA’s TrueConnect earbuds. Better than AirPods?

Design is not the only thing that the RHA TrueConnect have in common with its AirPods. RHA ships TrueConnect earbuds in a case for convenient carrying and 25-hour battery life. A number that manages to beat AirPods by about an hour.

Features that make TrueConnect best AirPods include an IPX5 rating for sweat and splash resistance alongside noise isolation for blocking ambient noise. Another perk for users who rock an Android smartphone is that unlike AirPods, RHA’s earbuds can activate Google Assistant right out of the box.

Customers that wield one of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros or a recently released Android smartphone, will be pleasantly surprised that they can juice up the TrueConnect battery case using any of their existing USB-C cables… More at 9TO5 Toys.

These look very good to me.

AirFly

When the movie begins on your next long flight, plug AirFly into your seat’s headphone jack and listen to the film with your AirPods. AirFly uses Bluetooth to connect your wireless earbuds or headphones to in-flight entertainment systems. No more lugging wired headphones or settling for those flimsy airline headphones. Enjoy high-quality sound thanks to a device about the size of an AirPod charging case… More here.

Great name, good product, a bit pricey.

The HomePod is stumbling

When Apple Inc.’s HomePod smart speaker went on sale in January, it entered a market pioneered and dominated by Amazon’s Echo lineup of Alexa-powered devices. Apple has been touting the HomePod’s superior sound quality but so far hasn’t enticed many consumers to part with $349.

By late March, Apple had lowered sales forecasts and cut some orders with Inventec Corp., one of the manufacturers that builds the HomePod for Apple, according to a person familiar with the matter… More at Bloomberg.

I was very impressed with the HomePod when I had it for review and was sorry to see it go, but I suspect my usage pattern is similar to enough other people that it may struggle at its current price. I simply do not get the opportunity to listen to music out loud anymore and tend to use earphones 99% of the time for audio. Add to this the fact that Siri is not good in comparison to the competition and the lower sales start to make sense. It’s understandable because the likes of Google and Amazon are not so privacy focussed, but the fact remains that the HomePod is not smart. It is a brilliant speaker, of that there is no doubt, but I suspect not enough people want just a ‘speaker’.

CDs and vinyl are beating digital downloads again

Streaming music is taking over the recording industry, and there’s no clearer sign of it than this: digital download sales have fallen so much in the past few years that they’re now smaller than sales of CDs, vinyl, and other physical media, which hasn’t been the case since 2011.

The stats, which come from the RIAA’s newly released 2017 year end report, show that digital downloads fell to $1.3 billion last year, whereas physical media, while also falling, only declined to $1.5 billion… More at The Verge.

I feel like I’m gonna gearing to be someone’s grandpa ’cause I just don’t get it. For me, downloadable, purchasable singles have brought on a golden age of music: I’m able to get the songs I want, pay artists, assemble a permanent music collection without paying rent on it, and never worry about wireless download amounts or not having a connection. I hate that the form I so love is losing in popularity, because it means support over the coming years and decades will not be a priority. Kirk.

Interesting view from Kirk, but I can fully understand why digital downloads are losing popularity. For me, anyone who is tech savvy enough to look at digital downloads will most likely move to streaming, and is owning a digital file really owning anything?

$570.12 for about 200k total plays and/or downloads

Since 2014, I was paid $570.12 for about 200k total plays and/or downloads of “Never Be Famous.” That’s…
141,648 plays on YouTube
47,200 streams on Spotify
The rest are from iTunes, Google Play, and few other digital retailers.

Here’s the catch. In order to make that $570.12 (over four years), I had to sign away 50% of my publishing rights to CDBaby, plus 9% of all digital sales. An additional 30% of all digital sales was paid to the individual digital retailers.

I almost forgot! Artists pay self-employment tax in addition to gross income tax, adding up to a 30-40% tax rate — among the steepest rates in the US… Tweeted by Hussalonia Founder.

Scary stuff for anyone hoping to make an income from music. Scarier still because Hussalonia is brilliant!

Luciano Bluetooth Speaker

Luciano is a Bluetooth speaker designed by Paolo Cappello for NEWBLACK®. Ceramics and electronics, two contrasting elements, come together in a work of art that is the expression of purity of sound, subtlety of form, and the excellence of Italian craftsmanship. The product will be supplied with the plug adapter for USA.

Luciano’s casing is constructed in Nove, an Italian town that has been famous for its ceramics since the 1700s and remains, to this day, a world leader in the production of high-quality ceramic artistry. The speaker has been crafted with components typically found in hi-fi stereo systems, and its audio output has been optimized in the lab through a detailed process of equalization to ensure superior sound quality… More here.

Would have like to see Apple be a bit more adventurous with the HomePod in terms of the design. There are, however, many justified reasons to go for a design that most will accept.

An iPod time capsule

Great piece on tech nostalgia, a guy powers up his original 2002 iPod, old songs and playlists intact.

Only the final third is about the hardware itself, as classic and still functional (modulo the battery life) as it is; the rest is a nostalgic exploration of the author’s digital musical life of the era, and the idiosyncrasies he had in categorizing songs and arranging playlists.

There are some old digital “snapshots” I treasure, like a folder with all the files stuffed on my Windows Desktop directory – one of those things I kept meaning to get back to, to curate out “the good stuff”, but now holds holistic value as a slice of my old digital life. Similar for old screengrabs I have, or just photos with the monitor visible… the ones that inadvertently show what all I was up to those days are much more interesting than ones that just show an app. (The same phenomenon happens for old photos – ones where my old book stacks – or even just clutter – are intriguing no matter what the subject of the photo is supposed to be.)

Do you share in this kind of object nostalgia, digital or otherwise?

Kirk