Words to live by…

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): At one point in his career, the mythical Greek hero Hercules was compelled to carry out a series of twelve strenuous labors. Many of them were glamorous adventures: engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a monstrous lion; liberating the god Prometheus, who’d been so kind to humans, from being tortured by an eagle; and visiting a magical orchard to procure golden apples that conferred immortality when eaten. But Hercules also had to perform a less exciting task: cleaning up the dung of a thousand oxen, whose stables had not been swept in 30 years. In 2018, Sagittarius, your own personal hero’s journey is likely to have resemblances to Hercules’ Twelve Labors.

By Rob Brezsny

Straight to video

I had a dream the other night, Tuesday I think, where I’d been invited to play with some significant folks and my bass playing was woeful.

People, audience members, friends, would come up to me and talk briefly, with circumspection, with sadness in their eyes. And I continued to play blithely ignorant to how poor every aspect of my performance was. I was not invited back.

Seldom does my unconscious manifest so strongly.

I write like…

There’s a meme-ish app doing the rounds on Facebook called I Write Like which compares a portion of your writing with successful writers.
So far my style compares with Agatha Christie, Vladimir Nabokov, Arthur C. Clarke, David Foster Wallace, H.G. Wells and Stephanie Meyer.

Even though I’ve written no fiction for over a year, I feel quietly pleased with these results…

Have a wee go!

SoundCloud and rights

So Soundcloud have updated their subscription model: 

We’re happy to announce the latest way to experience SoundCloud – offline and ad free for just £5.99/month. Listen to all the amazing tracks you can only find on SoundCloud anywhere, anytime with our new SoundCloud Go subscription.

They’re charging the listeners and they’re charging the creators. Where is my royalty cheque SoundCloud? You provide the listening stats for each of the 81 songs under my account so it shouldn’t be too tricky for you to figure out.

Oh, it’s invite only? That’s just peachy.

And while you’re at it, how about figuring out how to tell the difference between a paid content creator account and a free listener account, and using that info to avoid spamming people who pay already pay you with demands for more money just to listen?

Local vs Streamed

I commented on a survey last week about streaming vs locally stored music. My answer (150gb of music, of which about 70% can’t readily be streamed and definitely not from one provider i.e. no chance of set-and-forget) seemed to annoy people. The replies I’ve been getting have mostly been frustrating to understand and they really do highlight the vast differences in people’s relationships with both music and emerging technologies.

You could use Google Play Music as a backup.

I could, but I already have backups because the nature of this collection means it is not readily replaceable. Not having looked into GPM’s specific provision, I can’t say if their storage is like-for-like or reprocessed like SoundCloud, and as a free service, their T&C, provision and availability can change at any time.

Having it stored on your phone is fine and all, but if it’s on GPM you can play it from everywhere.

Define “everywhere”! On the contrary, if I am somewhere without internet or a connected device of some kind, I’ll still have my phone and its contents.

What if you upgrade to a phone or player without SD slots?

If SD cards become obsolete on near-flagship models, it will be because internal storage provision has matched or exceeded the capacity/cost benefits.

If the cost of phone bills and connectivity is an issue, why not upload to GPM and cache over wi-fi of you need to listen on the go or something?

Uploading my local files to a 3rd party then selecting a subset of those files to a cache on my phone seems about 3x more complicated and about ¼ as reliable as simply connecting a USB cable and copying a folder from my computer to my phone. It’s still easier and faster to suffer the unspeakable hassle of swapping the SD card to & from the phone.

And this underlines another part of my relationship with music for listening: my music collection is curated in that it contains only things I’ve listened to and decided are worth keeping. Sometimes I want to listen to a specific thing, sitting down to listen to an album is a very specific experience, but my usual use-case is random access. For me the greatest aspect of digital music is the ability to effortlessly shuffle-play an entire collection and that requires constant access to that entire collection through an interface that can provide that functionality.

Once setup, Google play and services a like cut down the amount of “effort” you need to manage your library.

Well for a start, why are you discounting the effort involved in the set-up process? And what effort is involved in managing a local file library that isn’t involved in managing that same library online?

GPM would allow you to download those songs on any of your devices, or stream from a computer via the web interface. Plus it would allow you to re-download them if you need to reset your phone or get a new phone.

Through a lot of the comments there is a curious thread of insistence that all devices should do all things. People seem happy to carry a phone and laptop and a charger or two and possibly even an tablet, so why does it seem so alien to use one single device for music when not at your main device?

And seriously, why the fuck would you delete your own files? Are you an idiot?

My personal favourite: “Not available to stream? What kind of music is that?”

Ever tried grinding your teeth and laughing out loud at the same time? I wanted to make a crayon drawing for the guy who made this comment and post it entitled “With the greatest of respect…” or “No harm ’til ye, but…”.
So I made this:

Mission Accomplished

Each week for the last year I have written, recorded and released a new piece of music.
And some of them I have found to be excellent, some to be entertaining but throwaway, and some to be failed experiments worth revisiting with more time.
One of my favourite pieces from the entire project is this, sung by my good friend Martin Byrne.

And here is the playlist of the entire year of tunes: