Category Archives: Music

Jamstik Brings MIDI to the Guitar at CES



Jamstik LogoKeyboard players have had a wide range of options for creating all kinds of sounds for years, thanks to MIDI (musical digital instrument interface). MIDI takes input information from a control device, such as the keys of a keyboard, and translates it into audible sound, usually by triggering sounds in a sample bank. If you’ve ever played an electronic keyboard or synthesizer, then you’ve experienced MIDI in action. And while using a keyboard to play MIDI notes makes sense, it’s always been a challenge to transfer MIDI control to other instruments, such as guitar. Jamstik is working to change that.

Chris Helle, Senior Music Product Specialist at Jamstik, stopped by the TPN booth to meet with Jamie and Nick. Chris showed off the latest version of Jamstik and demonstrated how it uses Bluetooth to wirelessly connect to an iPad. Jamstik can be used to control apps on iOS, Mac OS, and soon Android wirelessly. Jamstik uses infrared light to track a player’s movements on the fretboard, sending the data in near real time to the host device. This allows for fast responses, perfect for all kinds of musical performances. Jamstik is currently on the market for $299.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly which can be found at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic, and health journalist.

Nick DiMeo is an audio engineer and show host at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Been wanting to try Spotify Premium? You can get a free Chromecast if you do it now



Spotify logoMusic streaming services are becoming ever more prevalent in the market these days. One made news this week by getting an exclusive deal, but those types of deals also have become common. Perhaps the most popular these days is Spotify, which can be used for free, though a premium subscription brings more functionality.

Now Spotify is trying to pull in more customers with a special deal. The streaming service is offering a free Chromecast to anyone who purchases three months of its Premium service.

To sell this deal, the company points out “With Chromecast, listening at home is easy. Simply plug Chromecast into your TV, connect it to WiFi and cast music directly from your phone or tablet. It works with Android, iOS and laptops, too. Play, skip, browse and search using the Spotify app. Oh, and feel free to make calls, watch a video or play games – the music will keep playing”.

There’s only a brief window of time to take advantage of this deal. You’ll need to act quickly because it’s only running through February 28th. You can grab the offer by visiting here. It will set you back $29.97.


Flicks Lets You Watch Movies Outdoors



Dashbon logo TwitterHave you ever wanted to watch movies outside during a backyard party or a camping trip? Dashbon, a start up company that makes mobile audio visual products, can turn the idea of outdoor movie watching into a reality. Flicks, the first product from Dashbon, is available now.

Marlo and Todd spoke with CEO of Dashbon, Andrew Lin, at CES 2016. Flicks is an all-in-one, Bluetooth enabled boombox that combines a high-fidelity audio system with a cutting edge 720p HD LED projector. Use it to stream your favorite tunes from your smartphone or to watch movies via HDMI from your smartphone or media devices.

Flicks comes in two models. The 140WH model has a 140Wh built-in lithium-ion battery, 4 hours of movie playtime, 28 hours of Bluetooth music playback, 28 days of standby time, and weighs 6.17 lb (2.8 Kg). The 280WH model has a 280Wh built-in lithium-ion battery, 8 hours of movie playtime, 56 hours of Bluetooth music playback, 56 days of standby time, and weighs 7.72 lb. (3.5 Kg).

Flicks 140WH is priced at $599. Flicks 280WH is priced at $699. Both are available now through Dashbon.com and also through Amazon.

Todd Aune is bridging the technology gap with The Elder Divide.

Marlo Anderson is rounding up the latest technology news at The Tech Ranch.

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Aumeo Audio – World’s First Tailored Audio Device – At CES 2016



Aumeo AudioAumeo Audio is the world’s first tailored audio device. It was designed to unlock your best hearing solution. Aumeo has been fully funded on Indiegogo and will be at CES 2016.

The main concept is that not all ears are built the same. Everyone hears differently. Your audio equipment has no way of knowing exactly how differently you hear. As such, it cannot take your unique hearing into account when it delivers sound to you. It just assumes that everyone hears the same across all frequency ranges.

Connect your phone and any pair of earbuds or headphones to Aumeo. Create your unique audio profile with the companion app, AumeoPlayer. It is available for iOS and Android. They suggest you create your profile in a quiet place.

Your audio profile will be stored on Aumeo. It will adjust your music based on your audio profile. Aumeo lets music lovers hear all the music without ear-straining or ear-damaging volumes. Aumeo is available for preorder via their Indiegogo at $149.00 and will begin shipping in January of 2016.

Visit Aumeo Audio at CES 2015 in Sands, Hall G, # 82026


Pandora Launches Thumbprint Radio



Pandora Thumbprint RadioPandora has launched something new called Thumbprint Radio. They describe it on their blog as “a hyper-personalized station for each listener”. Your unique, individual, Thumbprint Radio station will include music based upon your thumb.

That is to say, it is going to select music for you based upon every thumbs up you have provided throughout the entire time you have listened on Pandora. Give a track a thumbs up, and your station will update and evolve to include it.

Another cool thing about Pandora’s Thumbprint Radio is that it will enable listeners to rediscover songs that they thumbed up years ago. That awesome song that you were in love with for a week, and then forgot about, might return to you via your Thumbprint Radio station.

You can share your stations with a friend. Once you share it, your station is going to dynamically update for your friend as you give thumbs up to songs. This is something to be aware of if you have given a thumbs up to a song you like, but would be embarrassed to have friends know that you like.

Your Thumbprint Radio station will be made available to you once you have at least three stations “with four thumbs on each”. If you have been using Pandora for a long time, it is possible that your Thumbprint Radio station is ready for you now.


Nuziki Picks Up Where This Is My Jam Left Off



Nusiki logoEarlier this year, I wrote about how music-sharing site This Is My Jam would be closing. And while This Is My Jam is still slated to go into archive mode, a new service named Nusiki has popped up to carry on where This Is My Jam left off.

When creating a Nusiki account, users have the option to enter their This Is My Jam credentials, allowing them to pull in the songs they’d added to their This Is My Jam accounts. I tried it, and it worked flawlessly. I was also able to add all of my This Is My Jam friends with the click of one button, which is pretty handy.

Sharing music thru Nusiki is simple. Search for a song title or artist name using Nusiki’s search box. Once you find what you’re looking for, you can easily add it to your Nusiki profile. From there, you can also share to Twitter and Facebook.

Listening to music on Nusiki is simple, too. Once you’ve added some friends, all of their shares automatically show up in your Music Feed. Pressing play in the Nusiki player will start playing the first track in the feed and then automatically cycle to the next song.

Nusiki web interface

Like This Is My Jam before it, Nusiki is limited to sharing songs from YouTube and SoundCloud only. So, you may not find every song you like thru Nusiki’s search engine. But these two sources still offer a lot of music to choose from.

You can use Nusiki on the web or thru the service’s iOS and Android apps. My username on the service is shawnmx if you’d like to follow me. Let’s share some great music!


Columbia House Shutting Down for Good



Columbia House logoAdd this to the, “I had no idea that was even still around” file. Mail-order media company Columbia House is finally shutting down for good. I guess this is another win for digital media and another loss for lovers of physical media. I’m also guessing that a person’s familiarity with Columbia House and its ubiquitous “12 Records or Tapes for $1.00” will have a direct connection to that person’s age. Regardless, Columbia House billed itself as a “music club.” Customers would get reeled in by an initial offer that seemed too good to be true. From there, they’d be obligated to remain a member of the club for a couple years. During that period, they were required to buy a certain number of albums in order to fulfill their obligation to the club. Alternatively, they could just let Columbia House mail them one album per month, chosen by Columbia House, based on its understanding of that customer’s music preferences. If customers were happy with Columbia House’s monthly selections, they could then mail back a voucher with payment enclosed. If they didn’t want the record/tape/CD Columbia House chose, they could write “Return to Sender” on the cardboard mailer and return it to the company’s Terre Haute, IN processing center.

Considering the proliferation of monthly subscription services now dominating the Internet, Columbia House was arguably ahead of its time. Of course, this business model leads to some consternation among consumers, as it’s really predicated on getting them to sign up once and then forget about those monthly charges as they rack up. In its time, I knew plenty of people who’d signed up for Columbia House and they’d always be frustrated when that next piece of media came in the mail and they had to decide what to do with it.

Columbia House was best known for its role as a music seller. But over the years, it had also gotten into a  similar monthly service for DVD’s. And it was that iconic music division that went first, having been shuttered in 2010. The company managed to hang on for another five years in the movie/TV show selling business. But the increased adoption of digital audio and video streaming ultimately sent Columbia House’s parent company into bankruptcy. Looks like it’s time to say goodbye to another relic of the pre-digital era.


This Is My Jam is (sorta) Shutting Down



This Is My Jam logoMusic discovery and social sharing site This Is My Jam is shutting down. But the site won’t completely disappear from the Internet. From an e-mail sent today to This Is My Jam users:

Well, this is a tough one to send. After four years, more than two million jams, and assessing many options, we’ve decided to archive Jam in September.

And:

Instead of going offline, the site will become a read-only archive of all the music shared between 2011–2015. So no posting, but you’ll be able to browse profiles, play jams, and of course download all your data!

The developers behind This Is My Jam explained their reasoning for this decision in-depth on their blog. It’s pretty simple, really. They found that running This Is My Jam was fun but that it didn’t really have anything else to do or anywhere else to go.

I’ll admit that I hadn’t used the site myself in well over a year. It’s a cool concept, as it forces users to share one song they’re enjoying in the moment, as opposed to a playlist or an album. This single-track focus is a good idea in today’s attention-deprived world. This Is My Jam features all of the usual social following/sharing features, making it easy to find and connect with others that carry like-minded musical tastes. But the interface is kinda wonky and it’s only able to pull tracks from sources that don’t carry DRM. So, it’s library is limited. Still, the idea has some merit. Perhaps another group of code-savvy music fans will build a better system that’ll pick up where This Is My Jam left off.


Apple Announces Apple Music at WWDC 2015



After months of speculation following their acquisition of Beats, Apple has announced its own streaming music service.

1433792824-apple-musicAt yesterday’s WWDC keynote, Eddy Cue (Apple’s VP of Internet Software and Services) introduced Apple Music, “a revolutionary streaming service” that gives users access to a collection of over 30 million songs right from their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or Android phone. Users can also access their ripped CDs and previous iTunes purchases.

In addition to creating their own playlists, users have access to a variety of curated playlists from noted entertainment personalities. Apple has hired an impressive team of DJs, musicians, and other experts in the field to curate exclusive playlists to fit any mood, genre, or situation. In addition to human curation, you can explore Apple Music using Siri. Ask anything, from “play me songs by The Cure” to “play the greatest hits of 1993”.

Apple also launched Beats 1, a 24/7 live music radio station broadcast to over 100 countries, with programming by DJ Zane Lowe in Los Angeles, Ebro Darden in New York, and Julie Adenuga in London. In addition to a curated selection of songs, Beats 1 will offer exclusive interviews, guest stars, and news on the latest and greatest in music and music culture.

Apple Music Radio, a new and improved version of iTunes Radio, allows users to create custom stations based on their favorite songs or artists to discover other tunes that fit their taste. And in other news that’s sure to delight music lovers, with membership there is no limit to how many songs you can skip– yay!

In a move that’s somewhat surprising given the failure of 2010’s iTunes Ping, Apple is launching a new social network feature called iTunes Connect. With Connect, artists can share lyrics, photos, videos, and exclusive sneak peaks with their fans. Fans can follow their favorite artists, comment and like posts, and share content with friends via iMessage, Facebook, Twitter, and email.

Apple Music launches on June 30 in over 100 countries. Users can try it out with a free 3-month trial, after which the service is $9.99/month, making it an attractive competitor to the equally-priced Spotify. Users can also opt for a family plan, which gives access to up to 6 family members (iCloud Family Sharing required) for $14.99/month.


The Most Popular Musical Keys according to Spotify



Spotify logoThere are many complaints about digital music. Some say its audio quality doesn’t measure up to analog sources like vinyl records. Others contend that ever-expanding digital divide has been causing the once thriving music industry to eat itself, leaving many artists out in the cold. For better or worse, music has become more and more digitized in recent years. Seems like it was only yesterday that Spotify was making a splash with its U.S. launch. Since then, a number of services have popped up to challenge its dominance in the space. But Spotify is still holding strong as a favored music consumption platform.

Spotify has over 30 million songs in its catalog. One good thing about having all of those songs in one place is it creates large data sets that can then be scrutinized to find specific patterns. In this case, one industrious analyst surveyed all of the songs that the service has to offer to see which musical keys are used most frequently. Here’s a rundown of the top ten of the 24 total keys:

  • G Major – 10.7%
  • C Major – 10.2%
  • D Major – 8.7%
  • A Major – 6.1%
  • C# Major – 6.1%
  • F Major – 5.3%
  • A minor – 4.8%
  • G# Major – 4.3%
  • E minor – 4.2%
  • B minor – 4.2%

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