Will Technology Lead to a Better Future or Just More Clutter?

 Music, Personal, Technology  Comments Off on Will Technology Lead to a Better Future or Just More Clutter?
Jan 022010
 
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Technology is a part of everyones lives, now more so than ever. I never thought I would see the day that my mother got an iPhone before I would (or some other “cool” smart phone device – I’m still using a cracked Blackberry as shown below). 2010 is said to be the year we further our lives with tech and become more mobile, use more web based services (cloud computing), and demand that everything we do occur immediately (real time) and more locally defined (Geo tagging and local search).

2010 will drive people to use internet services more extensively than every before – we already are storing and sharing our photos and videos online (Flickr, Picasa, Smugmug, Fotki, YouTube etc.), email is primarily web based outside of corporate, we share thoughts and comments with friends through social networks (Facebook) and content services like Twitter, listen to our music on the web (Pandora Lala.com), we shop more online today and all our financing goes to online rather than physical bothering with physical bank runs or working with actual brokers. These trends will continue.

2009 saw the death of clunky desktops but soon we’ll be looking to build our own server networks at home using small dumb access points like netbooks or our smart phones to connect to the internet. Internet, and more specifically wireless, will become standard plumbing of our lives. No longer a luxury, we’ll be connected more than ever by not only our PCs but our phones (MagicJack, Google Voice, Skype, Gizmo), gaming consoles, book readers, HDTVs (Roku, Sling box, Boxee, Netflix etc.) and other smart kitchen or home appliances. Thanks to new operating systems (Window 7 & Chrome OS) and the expansion of high speed Internet services (FiOS and AT&T U-verse) we are free to roam and implement these tools of our life more freely.

There’s a lot of talk about the Tablet making it’s presence known this year and I hope that’s true. Either it be Apple, Google (Android), Lenovo, or HP, it remains to be seen if these devices will live up to their hype.

However, the big question every year will all this tech help to make my life more easier, organized, and connected or will I be spending too much money for more complicated ways of doing simple tasks (e-readers, news delivery, making a phone call). With so much openness and our information freely available over unsecured wireless connections, will we see an increase in malware and security breaches of our finances and personal identities. The Federal government is already being proactive in warning Small Business owners to take note and with the introduction of all new technology, we should all take our time with these steps and understand fully the repercussions and risks before trying to take advantage of the rewards.

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Mariah Carey had Billboard’s hottest played song of the decade with “We Belong Together”. Honestly I can’t say that I have even heard this song, but then again, I don’t listen to the radio anymore – Last.fm, Pandora, or my own vinyl and mp3 collection are my formates of choice. I realize this label is based on radio impressions which is an industry term for saying these are the tracks records labels paid heavily to have played on the airways, and thus force feed to the consumer to buy, download, play and then throw up all over in 3 months. Of the 10 listed, I can still handle Usher’s Yeah! (but I will always have my NOLA memories of Flo-Rider’s Low).

Usher Featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris – Yeah!

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Although my Last.fm profile would say that Santogold was my artist of choice for the year, Last didn’t scrobe every play I made over the year and I think a few of the old ladies plays got integrated here (come on, I’m not that big of an Édith Piaf fan). Also on top of my Last.fm list is Thievery Corporation’s Mandala, which did have heavy rotation this last year in my iPod and I attented at least one of their live shows in 2009. Thievery is one of the most ethnically diverse groups I’ve heard, playing sounds ranging from Indian (tabla), Caribbean, reggae, house and jazz funk – all of which come together nicely on their latest release Radio Retaliation. They definitely epitomize my eclectic tastes in all these musical stylings thrown together into a congruent progression that is my iTunes collection. Mandala is a sweet track and up there for my top 5 of the year even though it was released late in 2008:

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Thievery Corporation Show at Terminal 5, NYC 2009

 Music, Nightlife  Comments Off on Thievery Corporation Show at Terminal 5, NYC 2009
Feb 282009
 

Only a group that brings such a DJ mentality to their music and live shows could garner so much enthusiasm from myself. I’ve been a fan of Thievery for many years, but when you hear their albums, “down tempo”, “reggae” or ” dub” are often genres that describe various melodies and styles of their music, however, on the stage, the sound and bass liven the arena and energize the crowd to a fenzey of head bobin to booty shaken no unusual to the funkiest club scenes.

This show fucking rocked as we got there slightly early to catch the dub reggae styling of the dj to the full blown mix of Thievery’s full cast of singers, drummers, guitar/sitarists playing reggae variations, roots style to spacey dub, Afrobeat, Brazilian bosa nova, to up tempo club deep house mix of rhythms and dance beats. The live show included a high-tech video installation and a parade of singers, male and female, from places including Argentina, Brazil, Guyana, Iran and Jamaica. The lyrics were in English, French, Jamaican patois, Spanish and Portuguese, along with a chorus of “Hare Krishna.” The party continued well past the long awaited encore where ushers needed to push the crowd out. This show rocked from minute 1 till the bar was well past last call.

I hadn’t been to the former Club Exit space, and the venue really didn’t fit the vibe of the show, however, the crowd and company made this a well worthwhile show that I’ll recommend to anyone else into any near genre of styles mentioned above.

Photo credit to mis0vibes115 as all mine came out like shite

TicketMaster are greedy pigs now complete with a Monopoly

 Entertainment, Events  Comments Off on TicketMaster are greedy pigs now complete with a Monopoly
Feb 242009
 

I picked up tickets last week for the Thievery Corporation show this week, in a painful process that hits my wits and wallet. Not only is the process cumbersome, rot with bugs so that you could loose your virtual place in line to garner tickets, but the business is corrupt in that they siphon off tickets to their sister company which grossly over charges for the same show, and when you do get tickets on the TM site, there are exorbitant fees for the privilege to do so.

The latest fees now for tickets purchased through TM are $7.05 per ticket for the “convenience” of selling me the ticket AND $2.90 fee to “process” my order. On top of that they now charge just to print out the tickets (about $2 per ticket). We are now talking $12 per ticket on top of the artist or venue charge to watch a charge where tickets are sourced through Ticketmaster. There needs to be a review of this business and alternatives to purchasing from big broker houses.

Here’s some of the latest news on these greedy ass clowns:

TicketMaster is owned by IAC and inn January of 2008, bid to acquire TicketsNow.com for $265 million. This now puts under the same roof, the ability to initially sell all tickets, and have the opportunity to re-sell those tickets though second tier brokerage houses (such as Stubhub and ebay). What became increasingly clear is that TM was directing buyers directly to TicketsNow.com when sales become sold out. What’s not clear and still to be determined under either the $500 Million suit or the $250 Million suit, both against TicketMaster, is if they gave preferential treatment to TicketsNow.com to buy up tickets to resell at a higher profit margin. There’s different laws in Canada so they very well could have violated fair ticket sales laws there and here’s to their loss in these suits!!!

On the 10th of this month Live Nation and Ticketmaster announce a 2.5 Billion dollar merger. This merger agreement between Ticketmaster and Live Nation will produce a stranglehold in the fragile concert business which lost money on ticket sales last year (even as concert prices went up). This is not a merger that will benefit the concert goer and it’s you and me that will be seeing even higher fees on shows through these companies. New bands will find it harder to get audiences and established acts will get smaller crowds if they don’t play into the TM end game. TM has exclusive rights to sell sporting events tickets as well and this hurts not only music but live sports event enthusiasts as well.

Joe Cohen, the founder and CEO of Seatwave, the UK’s biggest fan-to-fan ticket exchange, sent out a press release on Tuesday the 10th, saying: “The combination of Live Nation and Ticketmaster will create a company that controls over 70% of the U.K. ticketing market, the country’s largest music promoter and management of over 200 of the world’s top artists. Neither party has suggested how this tie-up in any way could be in the interests of fans.”

Before TM, it was first come first serve. You went to the venue or camped out at your local Warehouse record shop to get tickets for the local show. You at least had a shot to get great seats at face value if you had the dedication to do so. Now TM sells their prime seats to ticket clubs (their partners TicketsNow.com etc.), gobbles up competitive ticket sites and strong arms the venues to resell their show tickets at their terms.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-New Jersey called for a federal probe of Ticketmaster’s practices, said “the deal could put concert-goers nationwide at risk of permanently increased ticket prices and should not gain regulatory approval.” The Dept of Justice is looking into the merger, and I hope they find significant evidence that this would create an unfair market monopoly for this business.

Event venues signed with services like TM and Live Nation to expand their promotional reach, and sell out their events. In the internet age, these shows are primarily artist driven not venue driven, so the need for additional promotion through a national ticket service provides marginal benefit to them and they are loosing the processing fees by giving this up to TM.

Regardless, we all need to be conscious of these events and take personal steps to persuade our favorite artists, sports teams and other event promoters to host events in venues that do not sell their tickets through TM or to create tours without the help of TM services. We need to reach out to our favorite venues and encourage them to set up their own ticketing practices. Lastly, people can take a stand on the issue by not going to shows where artists have signed with Live Nation, or Ticketmaster for exclusive concerts, and avoid venues where TM has the monopoly on selling event tickets. It’s a tough sacrifice to give up the live show but maybe this economy will help cut into that discretionary spending and make it easier to make that decision.

An aural experience

 Entertainment  Comments Off on An aural experience
Dec 142008
 

I haven’t touted this here, but since Amazon.com announced and has launched their DRM free digital music site, I’ve been a full convert for commercial music. I typically don’t buy a lot of commercial music regardless, because most of it is over marketed, over produced (Auto-Tune), and really just a steaming pile. I’m completely anti-DRM because of the limitations it presents to usability for multiple formats and players. I’ve stopped listening to good bands because of their decisions to add useless DRM to their media, like the Foo Fighter’s release of “In Your Honor” punishing PC users wanting to listen to the CD on their digital player.

Today I just started shopping early for my own iPod and wanted to share three artist you need to review and pick up (if you haven’t already:

Santogold – Creator (vs. Switch and FreQ Nasty)

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Thievery Corporation – Sound The Alarm

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Rise Against – Kotov Syndrome

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Take note iTunes!!! You just lost over $100 in sales today!