Spotify

Who Wins and Who Loses with Apple’s iTunes Radio Announcement?

At the WWDC keynote, Apple announced the revamped music player app for iOS 7 and along with it iTunes Radio. While you can check out the press release for the full details, suffice to say that this is more of an ‘internet radio’ like Pandora than an ‘on demand’ service such as Spotify. Obviously there is more to it than that, and there is still a great deal for us to learn. But for now let’s take a look at how everything works, and I will predict some winners and losers!



Sonos Controller Updated to Version 4.1 – Tweaks and Improvements You’ll Appreciate

I love my Sonos system. I love it enough that I have a Sonos component in just about every room of the house. I love it enough that I purchased a PLAYBAR as soon as the product was announced (our review is forthcoming), and I added a Sonos SUB a few days after that. The one Sonos component I never purchased was the Sonos Controller. The reason was simple — by the time I entered into the Sonos ecosystem, their iOS and Android Controller apps were functional enough that I didn’t need a dedicated controller. At this point my Sonos…


Google Wants to Pretend It Is from the ‘Land of And’

As noted pretty much everywhere last week, Google introduced new stuff at Google I/O. They also had a keynote by Larry Page, and one of the things he said that was picked up widely was: Every story I read about Google is “us versus some other company” or some stupid thing, and I just don’t find that very interesting. We should be building great things that don’t exist. Being negative isn’t how we make progress. Most important things are not zero sum, there is a lot of opportunity out there. Many sites took this as a statement showing how Google…


Kinivo BTX350 Digital Wireless Speaker Review

I’m a big fan of Bluetooth enabled, wireless speakers in this age of cell phones, tablets, and computers.  We’re always on the go, always have our mobile phones with us, and therefore, many of us carry our music collections with us as well.  Even if you don’t carry your MP3 collection on your cell phone, most of our phones can use Pandora, Spotify, or any number of mobile music apps.  The market is ripe for great sounding, decently priced Bluetooth speakers.  Unfortunately, the Kinivo BTX350 does not meet that first criterion.


Google Launches Spotify-like ‘Google Play Music All Access’

For a couple of years or more, there has been constant speculation about when we would see an ‘iRadio’ service from Apple, with some more reasonable speculation that by capitulating to streaming price demands they might have something by this June. Google has also been rumored to be working on a similar service, though more of an ‘on demand’ service like Rdio or Spotify than the Pandora-alike service Apple is reportedly working on. Well, today at Google I/O, they announced Google Play Music All Access. The service is pretty much identical to Spotify and Rdio, but is unique in one…


Twitter Launches #Music Service and App, Check It Out!

Twitter has been rumored to have had a music service in the works for a while, but since we don’t dabble in rumors here at Gear Diary, we waited until it was released to cover it. Now it is out, and it isn’t as much of a ‘music service’ as it is a ‘music DISCOVERY service’, one that depends on artists being on Twitter and having their music mapped out on iTunes, Spotify or Rdio. Twitter describes the service as “A fresh approach to finding new music by using Tweets and follows to power discovery.” The service offers charts of…


Kris Davis Capricorn Climber Review

For all of the grand debate about ‘music discovery’ going on with regards to services such as Slacker and Spotify right now, I continue to have success with the same method I have been using for decades. I find an artist I like, note sidemen I like from their recordings or find recordings where they are sidemen, and check those out. Sometimes that leads to me discovering a sideman from an artist two or three times removed from the original person – such as Kris Davis. Davis plays piano on Ingrid Laubrock’s Anti-House, whose new release I wrote about here….


Rap Genius Takes the Guesswork out of Deciphering Lyrics

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard either the NSFW or the terrestrial-radio friendly clean version of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis‘s hit song, Thrift Shop.  But unless you’ve got a finely tuned rap vocabulary, there are probably some lyrics in that song (and every other rap song for that matter) that have left you scratching your head. Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. I’m willing to admit that I wasn’t quite sure about the meaning of “pop some tags” or “looking for a come up” when I first heard the song, and it might not have mattered so…


eMusic Merges With eBook Distributor K-NFB to Form Media Content ‘One Stop Shop’

It was only a matter of time – most sites not named iTunes/Pandora/Amazon/Spotify have either closed or been bought out over the past few years … and frankly since it seemed that eMusic was unable to increase subscription volumes no matter what they did, I assumed they would eventually fold. Instead, today we learn that eMusic Merges With eBook Distributor K-NFB to form media content ‘One Stop Shop’. The basic idea is that you will be able to get your digital music, ebook and audio book needs met in one place. eMusic has been around since 1998 and had long…


2014 Kia Forte Test Drive: Compact Sedan with Full-Size Amenities

I live in a part of the country where one is likely to feel out of place if not driving an SUV or a pickup truck, and I like driving a big SUV. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy taking the 2014 Kia Forte out for a test drive while recently attending the Kia First Drive event in Scottsdale, however, because there’s just something *fun* about sitting lower to the road and really feeling what’s going on that can’t be duplicated when riding in a jacked-up rig. Kia gave me ample opportunity to experience that sensation during my ~115 test drive…


2012 Was the Year YouTube Went Professional

In previous years the ‘top 10’ lists of most viewed YouTube clips would always contain amateur videos such as ‘Charli Bit My Finger’, cat videos, and so on … but this past year saw YouTube move fully to a professional video channel, reflecting the mainstream adoption of internet video as a primary source of entertainment. As kids have known for years, it is often easier to simply grab a YouTube video for a song you want to hear than fiddle around on iTunes, Spotify or Slacker. As noted here, “Almost everything on the list this year was created by professional…


Release Windows ARE Stupid … But They Don’t Justify Piracy

Most people know of the popular trope called ‘Step Three: Profit’, in which an idea is started, no plan is developed, but there is an expectation of profit in the end. A random example from South Park: Step 1. Collect underpants. Step 2. ? Step 3. PROFIT The reason I bring that up is that in a recent article at MondayNote the author basically makes the point that release windows are stupid. What is a ‘release window’? It is the decision by a company to make their content (movies, TV shows, albums, etc) available at different times in different countries…


Audyssey Wireless Speakers Review

Hi, Captain Obvious here with a thought that is… well, obvious. Today’s totally obvious thought? No matter how good tech gets, there will always be pros and cons to any and every device. This holds for computers, it holds for tablets, and it holds for audio systems; let’s focus on audio system. I LOVE my Sonos system. It works perfectly for me, thanks to its connection with my home WiFi network and the terrific Sonos app that works on any and all my devices. And since I subscribe to Spotify, I can have all my music anywhere there is a…


One of Five Albums (yep, 20%) Sold Last Week Was Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’

Last year I was very vocal about calling shenanigans over the way Lady Gaga used a $0.99 ‘giveaway’ on Amazon.com to basically game her way to ‘selling’ over 1 million albums. It has been documented ad nauseam that the ‘record industry of old’ is dead, but that execs at the three remaining majors try to continue pushing their hand-crafted ‘stars’ and product … to ever shrinking annual sales. This week we get the exception that proves the rule – Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’ sold ~1.21 million copies, the most in a single week since Eminem in 2002. First some background. Every…


Thankfully, Apple Delays iTunes 11 Until Mid-Late November

Let me be blunt – I agree with those who have been increasingly critical of the state of Apple’s software releases in terms of readiness. iOS 5 was patched almost instantly for some awful bugs, iTunes Match stumbled out of the gate late and feeling like it should have been later, Siri was beta at release but hasn’t made all that many strides, … and then there is Apple Maps. So when the news that iTunes 11 was being delayed into November came out, I was actually relieved. I was glad that they hadn’t forced it to release for the…


Google Music Will Get ‘Match’ Capabilities

Google has a huge blog post here related to their product announcements On November 13, we’re bringing music on Google Play to Europe. Those of you in the U.K, France, Germany, Italy and Spain will be able to purchase music from the Google Play store and add up to 20,000 songs—for free—from your existing collection to the cloud for streaming to your Android devices or web browser. We’re also launching our new matching feature to streamline the process of uploading your personal music to Google Play. We’ll scan your music collection and any song we match against the Google Play…


Samsung Galaxy S III from U.S. Cellular Review and Video Hands-On

When it comes to the world of smartphones, there is Apple and Samsung and everyone else. As noted in the past, Samsung and Apple combined for more than 100% of all profits during the last quarter! Whereas Samsung used to be famous for pushing out numerous mid-line phones with different design schemes, over the past couple of years they have focused on delivering top-end devices that offer compelling features – and have essentially become the flagship Android brand. Late this summer Samsung launched their latest flagship, the Galaxy S III. The folks at US Cellular were kind enough to send…


Slacker Just Keeps Delivering the Goods

We do a fair amount of coverage on Slacker Radio at Gear Diary, and for me it is because I use the service all the time. In fact, apart from my own music collection, the second place I head for music is Slacker … before Spotify or other services. Over the summer they expanded their ‘Artist Showcase’ series with several additions, most recently adding Train: Slacker Radio is launching their 23rd Artist Showcase station, hosted by the award-winning and chart-topping band Train. “Save Me, San Francisco Radio” features songs hand-selected by the core of the band – Pat Monahan, Jimmy…


iShower Bluetooth Water Resistant Speaker Review

I’m a guy who needs constant input. Whether it’s sport talk on the radio or music from Spotify while I’m working or a television droning in the background while I’m fixing supper, I always want something to entertain me. So the five minutes I spend in the shower every morning is problematic. I do have one of those old shower radios that had a television tuner as well so I could keep up with the Today Show while I completed my morning ablutions. But once digital tv pretty much killed over the air transmission, that eliminated the usefulness of that…


Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust, Book Review of Ken Scott’s Memoir

What is it that you want from reading a music industry legend’s memoir? If what you are looking for is basically an expanded Wikipedia entry with a more detailed listing of events and characters … then stop reading now and just stay away from Ken Scott’s Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust. If on the other hand you are looking for something that has you diving for your vinyl record collection, trolling through your MP3 library, and hitting up places like Slacker and Spotify to provide the musical soundtrack to the stuff you are reading … then check this out. The…