recognizing Arthur C. Clarke’s third law

Archive for the ‘music’ Category

I spy for you and me

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Rock WerchterFans who attended Rock Werchter, the Belgian music festival that ended Sunday, were being tracked by Bluetooth scanners as they enjoyed the music of  Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Fleet Foxes, Metallica, Oasis and numerous other bands.

Researchers from the University of Ghent set up a network of 36 Bluetooth scanners at the festival site as well as on a few surrounding roads and bus stops that noted each of the 80,000 daily attendees as he or she came within 30 meters (approximately 100 feet).

The resulting data is the first time a large crowd has been tracked in a live situation, according to the researchers. They added that privacy wasn’t a concern since they only tracked MAC addresses (the unique identifier assigned by the manufacturer) and therefore cannot be linked to an individual user.

Some fans who attended the UK’s Download Festival last month encountered a different unexpected Bluetooth application. Local police and the Leicestershire Drug and Alcohol Action Team asked if they wanted to opt in to receive free informational animated messages. Among those that were sent out were friendly advisories on alcohol and drug use.

(Title lyric from the Dead Kennedys.)


Written by chris

July 6, 2009 at 9:55 pm

It’s an art to live with pain

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jackson_billiejeanApplication developers 9astronauts have created Billie Tweets, an art project they refer to as “a Twitter tribute to Michael Jackson.” Basically it plays the incomparable Billie Jean video, featuring Michael Jackson at the height of his powers, accompanied by a waterfall of random tweets that have each word of the lyrics highlighted in order, kinda like Twitter karaoke. The effect is oddly hypnotic.

(Title lyric from Pearl Jam.)

Written by chris

July 5, 2009 at 10:56 pm

The stars belong to everyone

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moby-waitforme-cover-webMoby sent an email to Bob Lefsetz regarding his new album Wait for Me [lala link]. In it, the recording artist shared the news that his album would be No. 1 in Europe if it weren’t for Michael Jackson. But then he said it was funny that the best-selling iTunes track is Shot in the Back of the Head.

To quote Moby’s email: “Why is that funny? Because it’s the track we’ve been giving away for free for the last 2 months and that we’re still giving away for free.” (Here, among other places.)

Having an official video by David Lynch certainly helped, but the iTunes sales are an excellent example of the famous bottled water analogy: even when something is available free, people will pay to get it in a manner that suits how they wish to acquire and use it.

(Title lyric by Brown, Henderson and DeSylva via Frank Sinatra.)

Written by chris

July 5, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Posted in copyright, marketing, music

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We played our songs and felt the London sky

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PlaceboThe iTunes Festival is underway in the UK, marking the third anniversary of this month-long music event. Among the artists performing throughout July at Camden’s Roundhouse are Oasis, Snow Patrol, Franz Ferdinand, Kasabian, the Saturdays, Flo Rida, Bat For Lashes, Jack Peñate, Paolo Nutini, Noisettes, Peter Bjorn and John, Bloc Party, Simple Minds, Madeleine Peyroux and many more.

And did I mention tickets were free? There are also free weekly downloads: this week it’s Placebo’s For What It’s Worth from here (valid in the UK only).

Each performance will be recorded and available to download on iTunes, so it’s not like Apple will lose money on the project. But that doesn’t devalue the fact that this is a laudable and innovative way to reach music fans.

(Title lyric by David Bowie.)

Written by chris

July 4, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Posted in marketing, music

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I could really go for a cup of coffee

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Sum41_01As the music industry continues to grope its way into the future, Denny’s restaurants have unveiled a marketing campaign that links its 24-hour comfort food to four extremely popular recording artists. Starting June 23, its new Rockstar Menu will offer substantial dishes named after Rascal Flatts, Gym Class Heroes, Sum 41 (pictured) and Good Charlotte.

I suppose the campaign is reminiscent of the Stage Deli naming sandwiches after its better-known customers.  But it still seems unlikely that a fan would ever walk in and see one of these guys eating his eponymous Denny’s meal.

(Title lyric from Katy Perry.)

Written by chris

June 15, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Bring the noise

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SlotradioSansa’s SlotRadio is one of the few electronic gadgets I haven’t craved on sight. The tiny and well-designed $100 player caught my attention at CES, until I realized it only plays $40 proprietary pre-loaded micro-SD cards and has a (theoretically) non-replaceable battery.

Each of those Billboard magazine-branded cards admittedly has 1,000 high-fidelity songs – that’s just 4 cents each – but they can’t be deleted or moved to another device or anything.

I bring it up now because recently I’m encountering Father’s Day marketing efforts focused on grass-roots techniques like Twitter-based competitions and blog seeding.

What’s interesting is the pickup on SlotRadio’s messaging: “It’s great music, made effortless.”

The product clearly isn’t meant for someone like me, who loves both music and gadgets. So, do many people find it that onerous to use digital media players? And if they do, wouldn’t something like a Rhapsody subscription ($13 a month) and compatible player (starting at $25 or so) be more appealing than its market share would indicate?

(Title lyric from Public Enemy.)

Written by chris

June 14, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Hardware, music

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You’re listening to the Streets, original pirate material

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home_taping_is_killing_musicBad Science’s Ben Goldacre has taken on pirate downloading statistics in, “Home taping didn’t kill music.”

He reads through newspaper stories on a report by the government’s Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property (SABIP) and notes that the estimated amount of illegal downloads music in his native United Kingdom is 4.73 billion items a year worth about £120 billion. Goldacre does the math and notes that equals about a tenth of the country’s GDP and means each illegal download is worth about £25.

Goldacre further calculates that these numbers work out to £175 a week per person. Since this is about a third of the average UK wage, he wonders: “Is this really lost revenue for the economy, as reported in the press?”

Adding to his skeptism, Goldacre researches the original documents and learns that the original executive summary and press release were incorrect by an entire decimal point. His subsequent conversation with SABIP makes for entertaining reading.

(Title lyric by Mike Skinner, The Streets.)

Written by chris

June 13, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Posted in copyright, Internet, music

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