Boo! Happy Halloween!

"Halloween Dance" by flickr user MRyanTaylor.com
Once again, the scariest time of the year is upon us - no, not tax season, Halloween!  A time for ghosts, ghoulish, and devilishly awesome playlists.  Here's some resources, musical and otherwise, to help you get in the mood.
What are you listening to this Halloween?  Tell me in the comments.


Friday Playlist: "Revolver," Revolved

Well, 50/90 has come to a close, and while I didn't write 50 songs this summer (mostly because I was busy finding a new apartment and then moving into it), I did get a few done and I was pretty happy with some of them.  And I thought that was that...until last week, when I logged onto the site, and noticed a link in the header labelled "Rocktober."  So of course I clicked on it (wouldn't you?), and was delighted to discover that the fun wasn't over yet.  On that site, the month of October is devoted to recording covers - your own version of an existing song by either "an established artist," or of a song by another 50/90 member.  Very cool.

Poking around the forums, I came across this thread, where some members had put out a call to the community to cover the classic Beatles album "Revolver" in its entirety.  So of course I started playing around on my keyboard immediately.  I decided to go with "And Your Bird Can Sing," one of my favorite 2-minute ditties on the album - and one where the upbeat arrangement and vocal melody almost mask John Lennon's trademark sneer and the somewhat nasty, Dylan-esque lyrics.  The original features some nice guitar work from Paul & George, playing some sweet harmonies up and down the E major scale.  My version features electronic sounds filling in for those two, as well as a bunch of other stuff I thought sounded cool.

You can hear my version below, and I would really encourage you to check out the "Revolver" songs done by others on the site as well - some of them are really incredible.  There's even a version of "Yellow Submarine" that will make you re-think one of the Beatles' weakest efforts.  Check it out!


All Songs Considered - 24/7

If you haven't already heard, NPR's All Songs Considered blog recently launched a 24/7 streaming music channel featuring "a non-stop mix of every song ever played during the 10 years of All Songs Considered."  This is extremely exciting news, for music nerds & public broadcasting nerds alike.  There's tons of great music here, enough to keep you busy for a very long time.  The only dilemma is, what's the best way to listen to it?

If you're using a web browser, you can use their web-based Flash app (on the page linked above), or if you have an iPhone, they have an app for that.  But what if you don't?  Don't be fooled by that "Android" link on the page, that just links to a stream - it's not really an app (though there is a community-built app for streaming NPR stations on Android devices).  So what's a non-iPhone user to do?  Fear not.  My friend Lori recently made me aware of this page, which lists all the myriad ways you can get your digital hands on that stream of sweet, sweet music.  Most of those links are for iPhone apps, but they do go into a little more detail about the Android streaming link as well as recommending an Android stream player (I've used this one, with mixed results).

I think my favorite thing about this is that they expose the underlying stream link so you can use whatever device you want, as long as it can read an audio stream.  So Squeezebox users, rejoice!  You can simply open that stream URL via the web interface, and voila:  10 years of curated music will be yours to enjoy on your home stereo system.  Ain't life in the future grand?


eMusic Adds Universal, Changes Their Pricing Model...Again

eMusic will be expanding their music catalogue again, and changing their pricing structure again, as well.  The online music retailer struck a deal with Sony last summer and added Warner to their roster this past January.  And last week they announced they would be adding "more than 250,000" tracks to their database, thanks to a new deal with Universal Music Group - which includes, among many, many others, Def Jam (classic hip-hop), Verve (classic jazz), and Deutsche Grammophon (classic classical).  Fascinatingly, eMusic CEO Adam Klein refers to this new influx of music as a "slug."

All of this is exciting, but I was a little saddened to see that once again eMusic will be changing their pricing model.  I get it, they need to stay competitive, what with 99-cent tunes available on iTunes, and daily MP3 deals on Amazon, etc.  But how many times are they going to change their model in a 1-year time span?  This isn't just a change in how albums are priced, it's actually a fundamental change in the underlying currency - instead of paying for a subscription then getting credits to spend on downloads, you'll soon pay for a subscription then use that actual money to buy downloads.  Here's how they explain it in their update to subscribers:

In order to continue to grow our catalog and to insure a sustainable business in the long term, we need more flexible pricing. So we are changing from today’s credit-per-track system to currency pricing. Your membership will continue just as it is today and your monthly payments will not change. But starting in November, you’ll see tracks and albums priced in dollars and cents instead of credits.
I see good news and bad news here.  The good news is that the major labels are finally starting to understand that DRM is, on the whole, a bad (and very anti-customer) idea.  They're getting on board with the idea that an MP3 is something you can buy and sell, and that you don't need to attach handcuffs to each one.  Of course they're realizing this at a time when buying and selling MP3s is starting to sound as out-dated as buying a physical CD - everyone knows streaming is where it's at, right?  But still, this is a good thing.  And the fact that eMusic's prices (according to eMusic) will represent a "savings of 20%-50% compared to iTunes a la carte prices" is also a good thing.  So what's the bad news?  The bad news is that by switching to a real monetary price per track/album, eMusic has pulled the curtain back to reveal something which was always true about them, but easier to overlook before:  you are basically giving them an interest-free loan every time you pay your membership dues.  When you subscribe, you are, in essence, buying yourself an eMusic gift card that expires at the end of the year.  Again, this has always been true, but somehow putting real dollar amounts on their wares makes it chafe a bit more.

What do you think?  Are you any more or less likely to become (or remain) an eMusic member based on the new changes to their catalogue and pricing?  What alternatives do you use?  iTunes?  Amazon?  Why?  Let me know in the comments.


The Future of Music

As in The Future of Music Coalition, who are live-streaming their 2010 Policy Summit today.

Speakers and panelists include:

  • Chuck D
  • T. Bone Burnett
  • Ana Marie Cox
  • Ian Hogarth (founder of Songkick)
  • OK Go's Damian Kulash
  • Tom Silverman (founder and CEO of Tommy Boy Records)
  • and, for some reason, Ron Sims - Deputy Secretary, US Department of Housing and Urban Development
Check it out!