Tag Archives: Music

So Much Streaming Music, Just Not in One Place

In the old days, you never knew which CDs the record store would have in stock.  That limitation of physical media was supposed to be solved by digital. Back in the 1990s, technology evangelists and music fans alike began to talk about a “celestial jukebox” — a utopian ideal in which every song ever recorded would be available at a click.  In reality, even a celestial jukebox has gaps. Or more precisely, numerous jukeboxes have come along – iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube – and each service has had gaps in its repertoire. And those gaps have been growing bigger and more complicated as artists have wielded more power in withholding their music from one outlet or another.

Source: So Much Streaming Music, Just Not in One Place – The New York Times

Additional Editorial:

Published music libraries are numerous, and have scattered artist coverage for one reason or another.  Music repositories may overlap, or lack completeness of coverage.

As expressed in “As a Data Deluge Grows, Companies Rethink Storage“, creating a system similar to the Internet Domain Name System for “Information Asset Libraries” would help in numerous ways.  Front end UIs may query these “Information Asset (object) libraries” to understand the availability of content across the Internet.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical decentralized naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network.

Another opportunity would be to leverage the existing DNS platform for managing these “Information Asset Repositories”

In a relatively cost restrained implementation, a DNS type effort can be taken up by the music industry.  From artists to distribution channels, existing music repositories can be leveraged, and within months, a music aficionado may go to any participating platform, and search for an artist, title, album, or any other indexed meta data, and results across ‘Information Asset Repositories’ would be displayed to the user with a jump link to the registered information asset in the library.

Small independent artists need just populate a spreadsheet with rows that contain a row for each asset, and all the ‘advertised’ meta data.  Their Information Asset library may be a single flat file, i.e. XML, that conforms to a basic record/row structure.  The independent artist places this file on their web site, e.g. in their root folder, and informs their ISP of the address record type, and it’s location.  A new DNS record specification may need to be created, e.g. MX record.

Parse, Index, and Playing Music in the Cloud

In other articles I’ve mentioned audio indexing of most frequently used words in podcasts and videos, and now I am saying this sexy growing hashtag applies to music tracks now playing, as an example, someone plays a song in their cloud player, the lyrics are already parse and indexed for the song, so the Amazon cloud player already can provide the lyrics that are most used, and produce a cloud of tags, more used are bigger.  Then overlapping that they are able to give the index across all songs now playing, so now we have a dynamic tag cloud with words from lyrics getting bigger, and smaller as they are played in their cloud player.

The user is also able to click a word and drill down to get a list of all the songs currently playing with the lyric word.  One caveat, some songs group words together,  so it might not make sense out of context.  Amazon could apply some rules in the AI engine that specify if certain lyrics are grouped together, then they constitute one tag.

This feature would be another great way to diacover new songs for the music aficionado.

An extension of this is to get the music sound foot print, sound waves from tracks, and overlay with songs now playing, so if you like the beat or rhythm of a song, you can listen to other songs with similar rhythm or beats now playing, another way to find new songs. The matching rhythm can be an automatic shuffle filtered by genre, if specified.

Our Mind’s Eye Stream for Sale: Who will Own those Portals?

As we approach a brave new world of our Mind’s Eye for Sale, who will own that portal, or jump page to other view’s or other perspectives?  It gets more and more expensive to see the world, and harder to travel.  Sound like Total Recall, the movie, not far off from the path we’re already on without even realizing.  Portals to other people’s perspectives, such as Instagram, seeing life from other people’s interpretations of the world, it is fascinating and alluring to us.

Once the Genie is out of the bottle, it’s hard to turn back.  In all sincerity, a lightweight version of Google’s Android OS for Glass may even be downloadable, and free as it is based on open source.  The Glass is super stylish, but super expensive.  If you’re in the main stream you can afford the glass, if not, you can build your own.  Not that difficult relatively speaking, a kit from Texas Instruments perhaps, such as we’ve seen in the PC world, where they now offer small computer kits for building small computers with Android, and Linux.  If you wanted to build your own Google Glass, how fast will there be imitations, I imagine, faster than you can blink an eye, pun intended.

Google will make it popular and sexy, after that, there could be a flood of imitations.  After all, today we can all build knock off Google Glass, a tiny web cam, a lightweight OS, and Bluetooth integrated with your smartphone for two way interaction, streaming, and communications.  The lightweight OS could today be Linux, but the champion for this effort , Red Hat? No, they are a support and solutions group for a blend of Unix.   No, there are a few hurdles that Google must and have taken, in some cases, partnered with Verizon, who had their own blend of HUD at the 2013 CES conference.  Today, we might mock and jeer people who wore glasses with a mini cam on their glasses.  It might be clunky, the idea is to make it alluring to the masses, as well as going through iterations to make it an acceptable medium to the public.  Once Google, the trailblazer in this endeavor burns through the problems, it will pave the way for a massive wave of alternate choices, become a commodity.  It’s not just the issue with the UI, there are legal battles to be fought, privacy for example, is it safe to drive with them on, and so on.  There needs to be mainstream platforms, so people take advantage, and are lured to independent platforms.  Many other companies might follow, such as Amazon or other cloud based companies.  Maybe even independent sites, web sites, mobile apps, and others joining and integrating with APIs.

Soft Touch Mouse Brightens Up Your Life

I was looking for a unique mouse on the internet, and it doesn’t seem to exist.  It’s probably something easy to manufacturer, and will brighten up your day for sure.  On the top of the mouse, surrounding the entire body, including the mouse buttons, and except for the base of the mouse is a soft jell layer, soft to the tough, and contains silicone.  Within the silicone are diffused LED lights, which are grouped in several colors, such as Blue, Red, Green, and White, or clear. Under the mouse contains the sensor for the mouse movement as well a micro switch, which has 6 settings.  5 of the settings on the switch corresponds to a color, and when selected, light up the jell with that color.  The 6th setting is custom, which corresponds to the operating system driver for the USB or Bluetooth mouse.  On your computer, there is a light weight application that allows you to select one of several designs or create your own, for example, you could select the pattern which is a rolling wave of lights, or a mixture of colors.  The mouse application allows you to select each LED to turn the color on or off, or you could lasso multiple pixels for a quick design.  The user may create a static image, or create N static pictures to play in a slideshow, dynamic sequence, like the wave of colors I mentioned. The other optimization I thought of is to integrate the lights to listen to your sound output, and act just like an equalizer, such as iTunes, and have the mouse react to the music, either in a random sequence, or flash up and down to the beat of the music, using the setting for custom.

Someone build it please, sounds cool.   If you see something out there like that, please tell me, and happy to post a link to the readers.

Hashtags Embedded in Sound Waves of Songs: Watermarks

Sound, or video is able to be embedded with hash tag information like a watermark in the song, and this hash tag information can then be used as a link or other information which can be used as a link to a fan site, e.g first 100 users of purchase get x tickets for the purchase of the song, or backstage passes to the next concert in your area.

Hash tags that are embedded in the sound of a song may be used dynamically, such as the live broadcast of the song, and offering the user to call or text a number to receive a prize, or embedded in the purchase of a song, so when the song plays,the information will be sent generically to a ratings association to get better quality of a Top 40 ratings. The hash tags may also be used for dynamic posting of the song to your social network of preference, e.g. #NP, now playing., optionally, as specified by the user.

Additionally, if the consumer can automatically post the unique code of the song as a hash tag in a special music service, maybe variations of their favorite song may exist, e.g. the acoustic, or concert version of the song instead of the studio version, and through the posting of this hash tag into this special music social network, fans may be able to identify and acquire unique recordings of their favorite songs.

There is the ability to embedded the watermark of the artist images in the song, such as the JPEGs of the artists signatures, concert pictures, or any other special information, Watermark signals in audio and video is not new, but typically used in an encrypted manner to ensure the artist, music distribution and production company ensure their appropriate share in the profit margin.  Used in this manner, embedded information in the sound waves allows the users to access addition fan content.

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Amazon Content Rich Advertising with Streaming Video & Audio

The Amazon advertising program should include a plugin for personal web sites and blogs that instead of getting a static image with a link to a movie, or song (with Album cover), the plug in, provided by Amazon, should have an option to have a static image, as per today, or:

  • Any movies, where trailers are available, especially for Amazon Instant Movies, have two formats for an associate plug-in.  The first plugin for low bandwidth sites, the user still continues to see a flattened image of the DVD case or CD album, but in addition, have two links, play trailer, or play music. 
  • The second, more content rich plugin, would have either one, or a rotating collection of playing trailers and/or music, with album image.  The trailer can play the standard or an abridge trailer, as defined in the settings. The music would play at the normal sample length, or an curtailed length, based on the settings.  Finally, there are two image overlays, one in the bottom left, the other in the right, but the user may click, the left has a More Info, the right says Buy @ Amazon.

The user would select a collection of songs as well as movie trailers, or the user may make multiple collections, that have movies, songs, or both.

This same Amazon Associates plugin for web sites or blogs, may be applied to other products, such as Audible.com and audio books with samples.  In the Amazon Associates Product Advertising API WSDL, I did not notice references to ‘sample’ or ‘Trailer’, so I do not think a third party can build this plugin or widget as of yet.

Digital Media Platforms: BI Competitive Edge for Businesses & Consumers

This post applies to any digital media platform that distributes news articles, books, music, movies, and more.

As I was looking online at a New York Times article, when I scrolled to the bottom of the screen, a popup appeared and told me I had 9 of 10 free articles left for the month, and I thought that was brilliant.  As digital media becomes more competitive, and the content on the platform varies, regardless if it’s the pay as you go model; trial, with unlimited after trial;  or free until max per month or week as the lure; all companies need to allow their clients or potential clients to see how they are using the digital media platform’s products.

As an example, I would like to see what percentage of Technology articles I am viewing per day, week, or month verses Business articles for a certain periodical, and then I can make an informed decision regarding which periodicals I choose to subscribe to for business and also for Technology.  Maybe digital media companies will evolve to have mixed business models, such as, pay per consumption option for all articles after free until max, then for select sections, such as Business or Technology, they may offer unlimited option for the Business, and eventually even a particular editor of Op-Ed pieces.  It could be a price that is significantly less then getting the whole periodical, but at least you are able to attract consumers that have been less willing to go for the full paper, and don’t want the hassle of a pay per go, or monthly chargeback per use model.

If I want to choose a magazine for photography, and I am into archeology from a specific region, as a perspective buyer, I might want to know from the publisher’s entire content, and not just what I have read, a drill down pie chart of subject matters for all photos, and then after I selected Archeology, what percentage of those articles are from a particular region, a subject, and then a photographer.  This is also a powerful business intelligence tool for existing consumers, and may give you a competitive edge.  Also, alliances, that are able to partner for other content, index, and transform that content, say using NewsMLG2, and then perform sharing margin and chargeback.  The lure to their portal would be the driver for the competition as well as the vast of content, and partnerships.

A Note for Advertisers

There are other forms of Business Intelligence for your digital medial consumption that can be offered, such as indexed content, text, images, and video.  You can not only capture image descriptions, and objects within a video to be indexed, which can be used for advertisers to see what the demographics of consumers are watching videos with the most  sneakers, or smartphones, and descriptions that may include dancing clowns.  This may assist the small to mid side startup digital advertiser to understand the consumers in their target markets, and abstract the data.

The King’s Clothes: He’s Naked, and So is the Artist!

In an article I read in the New York Times this morning, Streaming Shakes Up Music Industry’s Model for Royalties: As Music Streaming Grows, Royalties Slow to a Trickle, it’s not hard to see what needs to be done to help the starving artist into extinction, and the phat artist get a bit leaner.  Lawsuits?  No! Artists are biting into this hook line and sinker.  I think the really shocking bit that no one ever really wants to say because of the huge artists  which take in a lot more than other artists, is for similar reasons we don’t show the salaries of our fellow employees.  However, in some cases consumers do seem to gasp and rally around the starving employee’s or artists, in this case, when there is such a stark contrast in the earnings, such as in a developing nation, consumers seem to rally the troops.  Also, the Hollywood Industry seems to be OK with releasing the extravagant earnings of some of the top making actors and actresses.  If the Music Industry Association were to try to rally the troops to make an API (Application Interface) a requirement, and allow third parties to pull amounts of net royalties dynamically, or whenever those amounts are committed, as well as based upon each artist opting in or out, i.e. if artist, opts-out, they must be doing well might be the assumption, that transparency may shame the consumer into going in another direction with their music purchasing style.  If I can go to a Blog, and view a dashboard that shows the net royalties of any artist, and has a N/A for which artists have opted out, and you can see those tallies slowly rise, or static based on the committed time to book the royalties, music lovers may empathize with the artist.

A second, and parallel approach, is to just peel back Spotify, and look at the functionality, see what the consumer is getting beyond the streaming model, and offer it up similarity using a more artist,  consumer, distributor amenable cost model.  Don’t tell me it is all just the streaming aspect that attracts the customer, because it is certainly not.  Looking at the application, and how people interact with it I spot a few features off the back that are alluring.

E-Commerce Platform Maturity: Reviews, and MP3 Cloud Players

I have read a few complaints on line regarding book reviews, specifically, it seems most  E-Commerce platforms have given the user carte blanche on entering the rating products, i.e. they have the ability to rate any product, without proof the’ve read / used the product.  This approach does encourage the user to have a user friendly experience to add ratings, as users are mostly discouraged to populate any surveys, i.e. time is money, and people just rather do something else, unless they are very motivated.  Some of those motivation reasons: they are passionate about a book, for example, with great distain, or passionate about the material, typically passionate readers.  Historically, in the early days of E-Commerce platforms, ease of entry of ratings, and encouragement was the mantra to make sure users are able to guide fellow users.  We now have matured E-Commerce platforms that don’t necessarily need, en-mass ratings, i.e. sales tool to show potential buyers that people buy from their site.  An issue has arisen especially with amateur writers that have spawned up everywhere, or even with mature publishers, and social media, just like we see in negative political campaigns, mud slinging, so justified, some not, or at least may be interpretative, it gives less credibility to the politician, or book, in this case, and not necessarily for the correct reasons.

It sounds like mature E-Commerce platforms should probably start taking the high road, and give confidence and credibility to the reviews, and not just by relying on standard deviation, and outliers on the bell curve being negated.  This is also amplified with products that have fewer reviewers, i.e. budding authors trying to get their break.

One suggestion, for a book, for example, an author may provide a list of 100 questions or so regarding parts of the content of the book, and before being allowed to rate the book, the reviewer must answer three random multiple choice questions correctly.  Of course, they may have at least two or three sets of questions to press on with the review.  The author, especially the startup authors, would probably be encouraged to write the questions, and attempt to deflect invalid mud slinging, i.e. person never read the book.

The other topic I wanted to touch upon was Amazon’s MP3 Cloud Player.  I have come to rely on Amazon’s player, and my kids use it on their iPod, iPads, computers, etc.  Two small issues I have at least on the Mac Safari browser, I think it also is lacking on my Windows computer, a) I cannot sort any of the columns within any of the filters.  I am unable to select Artist, for example, in a playlist, and resort by the artist name, as one example.  I may be doing something wrong, but it seems like a basic feature.  b) my own personal ratings, like we see on iTunes do not appear as a column that I can sort upon, as well as other meta data available, seems skimpy, both to enter, as well as to sort upon.  As this product seems to have matured to the point to justify it’s existence seems only logical these two features must be on their road map.  I won’t rip the Cloud Player apart, because all fairness, Apple iTunes had a leap on these folks.  It would be cool to actually see lyrics automatically imported with purchased songs.  I haven’t checked iTunes in awhile.  At some point, Apple made a free form text field where you could copy in the lyrics, but you would need to paste in the lyrics yourself.  Yes, there are third party apps that display it, and they actually follow along on the lyrics, which is super cool, but nothing in the cloud player itself.  Oh, well, my two bits for the day.  Note:  this takes into account the premium player only offers additional storage, as implied by their sales and marketing, not features

Ride the Near Field Communications Wave

At the 2013 Computer Electronics Show, there were only a few vendors touting Near Field Communications (NFC) technology integrated into their products, that I could see, and I did try to get to as many booths as possible.  Last week I mentioned people in Korea use NFC business cards to exchange and play music on their devices.  After that post, I did see a company’s tweet saying they were going to get into the distribution of NFC cards to store music, movies, and more, as the advertisement stated.  The benefits of this technology over Bluetooth simply low / near null power signature, inexpensive relative to the Bluetooth technology, and the potential shortcoming is it has a very short range.  Smartphones equipped with NFC can be paired with NFC tags or stickers which can be programmed by NFC apps to automate tasks.   NFC always involves an initiator and a target; the initiator actively generates an RF field that can power a passive target. This enables NFC targets to take very simple form factors such as tags, stickers, key fobs, or cards that do not require batteries. NFC peer-to-peer communication is possible, provided both devices are powered. NFC tags contain data and are typically read-only, but may be rewriteable.  I also had a conversation with someone that implied the storage on the NFC tags may be limited, so an easy workaround would be to store unique keys, such as a reverse domain name, and other pointers to data in a structured storage data web cloud, which is hosted by any number of verticals.

In this post I wanted to highlight a few potential uses.  Unfortunately, this is the second time I am writing the blog post because the first one didn’t get saved.  Annoying!

Automobile Servicing

Instead of the sticker a car dealer, or your mechanic, may put in the top left hand corner of your window to remind you to change your oil at N miles or Z months, an NFC sticker can be encrypted with your car’s VIN number, the complete required and suggested maintenance for the vehicle, as well as when and by who these services were completed.  The NFC Sticker may be placed in the console where you might place your smartphone.

Food Storage, Food Savings

On your refrigerator, you may place an NFC Sticker, that is overlaid on a magnet.  Every time food is removed or placed in a refrigerator or pantry, you can swipe the food NFC tagged with the cooperation of the food manufacturer.  An average usage model can be derived and encoded on the tag, as well as a proximity timer.  If the food item, such as milk, is not returned to refregerator within a given period of time, a notification on your smartphone, and/or a depreciation counter can be reprogrammed on the NFC tag to indicate approximate usage.  Once the item needs to be restocked, or placed back, a notification may appear on your smartphone, and/or added to your shopping list.

Books, Music, and Movie Samplings from a Store

If you’re in a store, and pass by a book, music CD or movie DVD, an NFC tag may contain a URL to download a PDF sample of the book, a music track from the CD, only available in stores through use of the NFC tag, or bonus material from a movie that only can be accessed through the NFC tag in stores to drive traffic into a store.  I specified a URL to link to the content because the current specification seems to limit the amount of storage on the NFC tag, however, specs can change, and I might be a bit conservative on the amount of storage necessary, but with a ‘secure cloud’, the storage shouldn’t be a factor. Any information on the NFC tag can simply be pointers to unique keys to data in tables within the cloud, such as a VIN number, or other generated unique keys.

Accessory Matching

Imagine your in a store by yourself, and trying on an article of clothing, if the dress, pants or skirt contains an NFC tag, you can touch it with your smartphone, which links you to either advisors or AI,  perhaps sponsored by a fashion magazine, that may provide you with with ideas to match that article of clothing, such as complementary accessories.  This could be accomplished through a video camera, front facing camera, perhaps ads float across the bottom of the screen, and/or it could be a subscription service.

 Meeting People / Dating

If you find yourself in a crowed bar, or party, and want to exchange information with someone you just met,  you have an NFC tag or sticker placed on the back of your hand, or on your purse, when bumped, will automatically exchange a brief bio, picture, likes, interests, and an email address.  If your smartphone is GPS compatible, the data is loaded onto your smartphone with the captured NFC tag data in addition to the location, so you never ask, so where did I meet this guy again?

Supply Chain Management and Shortages

Every person in the supply chain from manufacturer to retailers may have an NFC tag embedded within their employee identification tag, and as each individual handles the product or package, they swipe their card to the other NFC tag, and their employee unique identifier, along with date time and location (optional) may be rewrite the tag to append the new information.  This may prevent product shortages, as well as help further optimize the supply chain.