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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

16 Apr 2013 2:01 PM
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The Coachella festival always signals the start of Spring proper for me, I of course look forward to hearing some of my favourite bands play live, as well as seeing what advances YouTube / Google make in their coverage.

 

As far as the YouTube interface goes, I preferred last year’s version - with the Social Media shout-outs appearing to the right of the main video. I also felt the who’s playing and who’s on next was better done last year too. As per last year - shout-outs were evenly split between Twitter and Facebook, with Google+ messages barely 1 in 50.

 

What really stood out this year though was the ’Rebroadcast’ service YouTube provided - where they looped the live footage 2-3 times after each night. This is how I watched most of the acts - and it enabled me to dive right in and see who I wanted to see and skip those who did not spark my interest.

 

YouTube / Google are still fairly poor at the Video highlights / edit thing and the so-called ’Highlight Reels’ are attrocious. The BBC is far better at the editing thing - and providing full and set highlights per artist.

 

Obvious trend this year was the dominance of what the American’s like to call ’EDM’. In terms of legendary performances though, there were very few of these - Major Lazer put on a spirited show, but it’s really only dance music acts like Basement Jaxx and Groove Armada who know how to put on a proper show for this genre of music. However good James Blake’s music is, I’m not sure how well it works in a lively festival setting - I tend to agree with Glastonbury die-hards in that you need a proper spirited ’band’ mechanic for a live performance to really work - and on that basis, the standout highlight for me was Janelle Monáe. Of Monsters and Men, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grimes, Bat for Lashes, La Roux, Metric and Poliça were pretty good too...

 

I caught whole or partial sets by the following artists:

  • Baauer
  • Bassnectar
  • Bat for Lashes
  • Beardyman
  • Benny Benassi
  • Blur
  • Disclosure
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Grimes
  • Infected Mushroom
  • James Blake
  • Janelle Monáe
  • Jessie Ware
  • La Roux
  • Major Lazer
  • Metric
  • Moby
  • New Order
  • Of Monsters and Men
  • OMD
  • Poliça
  • Purity Ring
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • The XX
... Coachella 2013 is best streaming coverage yet
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

13 Jan 2013 9:21 PM
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My Top 10 Albums of 2012

  1. Visions - Grimes
  2. Born to Die (Paradise Edition) - Lana Del Rey
  3. Kin - Iamamiwhoami
  4. Ice Level - Ava Luna
  5. Good kid, m.A.A.d city - Kendrick Lamar
  6. III - Crystal Castles
  7. Shrines - Purity Ring
  8. Instinct - Niki & The Dove
  9. Master of My Make-Believe - Santigold
  10. Give You The Ghost - Poliça

 

 

 

10 Musical Trends for 2013

 

  • MySpace will try to re-assert itself versus Spotify and iTunes - some nice features in the recent update, but not sure if it’s enough to take on Spotify and become the defacto music discovery site - vs current front-runner YouTube
  • YouTube is still most likely to remain the dominant Musical discovery / promotion vehicle for most pop artists throughout 2013
  • iTunes and Spotify will hopefully bring out browser versions of their interfaces in 2013 - meaning we don’t need to continue using clunky desktop applications
  • We will see more mixing apps and utilities in 2013 - allowing you to create seamless fx-laden DJ mixes and compilations from your own digital collections, YouTube, Spotify and iTunes, something along similar lines to Turntable.fm - but simpler and more stand-alone
  • We are still waiting for genuine competitors to Spotify; - iTunes was feted to launch a streaming service in 2012 but nothing materialised - perhaps we will see something more promising this year - perhaps MySpace can have a real impact
  • Expect to see further advancements and refinements in musical services SoundCloud and MixCloud - both could do with better music discovery facilities
  • In 2012 almost all my Music Album consumption was digital - I only bought a handful of CDs for albums which I was unable to acquire digitally - still suprising to see that not everything is yet available universally in commercial digital formats
  • Amazon is set to become sole purveyor of mass-market solid format music (CDs really) with the demise of Play.com’s own products retail and HMV in dire trouble, digital music really is king (For me that means iTunes, Amazon, Beatport, Juno and even Spotify downloads on occasion)
  • Lady Gaga has announced a multi-media / apps extravaganza for her new album - along similar lines to Björk’s Biophilia, kind of surprised more artist have not followed suit already
  • What with cinemas now showing Live Theatre, Opera, Concerts and Sporting Events,
... The Future of Music Online 2013
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

03 Nov 2012 11:38 AM
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Doing business online is much bigger than any one website. You have to be where the people are, integrate your business hub with all the key sites out there, and make sure that everything integrates effectively with your back-end systems that you use day in and day out to get things done within your company.

 

Affino 7 integrates with over 100 systems, and of those 60 are out-of-the box integrations that you can simply enter your settings and connect to Affino. Affino also has a great API for connecting to any compatible system out there.

 

It’s impossible to select any seven key integrations. Below are some of the best known and most used ones. It all depends on what kind of online business you’re running:

 

Google

Affino is integrated with a dozen Google services. Google’s Analytics and Maps are still the world’s benchmark, and the Google Merchant Centre continues to grow in influence. We do a great deal to optimise Affino for Google Webmaster Tools and to deliver great SEO.

 

Paypal

Paypal is integrated directly into Affino’s store checkout. Affino’s PayPal integration supports direct / indirect, credit card / debit card / PayPal payments, single-page / offsite payment, one-off and renewable payments all just with PayPal. It is one of a dozen different payment systems supported.

 

Facebook

One billion of the world’s citizens interact via Facebook, it would be churlish not to be involved. Affino live-publishes your content directly to Facebook as required.

 

LinkedIn

Affino syncs seamlessly with the world’s largest professional network, pulling in profile and network information and syncing status updates.

 

Twitter

Affino integrates seamlessly with Twitter for instant updates in both directions. It can notify you when high-following members join your community and much more.

 

YouTube

You can drop any YouTube video anywhere into Affino by simply posting the URL. It doesn’t matter where you use it whether it is blogs, media library, articles, chat, comments, wherever. Same goes for all the other top video and other media sites.

 

eBay

Affino stores integrate directly with eBay markeplace - giving store owners a far larger catchment area / audience, same goes for Google Merchant Centre and coming soon to Amazon.

... Affino 7 Key Integrations
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

25 Jun 2012 11:52 PM
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I’m an avid follower of the world’s leading music festivals - specifically how they are broadcast and ’packaged’ for the digital audience. I’ve kept tabs on the BBC’s and YouTube’s coverage of music festivals over the last few years, and reported back on how each has evolved their offering - benchmark events have been Glastonbury in the UK and Coachella in the US. In this Olympic year, there is no Glastonbury, so we will use BBC 1’s Big Weekend extravaganza - the 2012 Hackney Weekend Music Festival as the UK benchmark.

 

Where the BBC always excels is in the depth and breadth of its broadcast coverage, and in its archiving. For this year’s Coachella there was really just a smattering of play-back videos from the 3 days of live music, and no full sets. The BBC though has video highlights for pretty much every featured artist, including full sets for the festival headliners.

 

Watching live though was a different story, as YouTube’s Coachella coverage had better broadcast quality and a much superior interface - with full interaction! For Coachella, fans were able to connect via Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and do comments and shout-outs during the performances - on a live update feed - obviously comments are enabled for most content on YouTube. YouTube also cleverly includes the hashtag #coachellalive on all the updates posted - for maximum exposure. Moreover YouTube’s Coachella screen had a really clever rolling ’What’s On’ panel with dynamic thumbnails - which allowed you to mouse-over for live previews of each stage!

 

The BBC interface did not really makes the most of social media, and it was noway near as easy to organise your viewing schedule. I also noted that for last year’s Carlisle Big Weekend, the BBC was much better at posting up setlists on the artist overviews. Currently the write-ups are mostly sans setlists, which is something we kind of expected after last year!

 

It’s a tale of two very different approaches - as for live and direct coverage, YouTube’s system was most obviously superior, but in terms of being able to really ’catch’ the music - in terms of ’on demand access’ - then the BBC comes up trumps, as you can view after the fact - most of what you missed, which was not the case for

... BBC's Hackney Weekend Coverage is Peerless, could do a lot more with Social Media though
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

20 Apr 2012 11:26 PM
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In yet another example of its failure to get a grip on Internet reality, the music industry - Germany’s GEMA Association this time round, has somehow managed to win a court case in Hamburg - where YouTube has been held to be fully accountable for its users’ uploads - at the point of upload.

 

The only model that can work for Social Media (User-Contributed-Content) - is post first, then screen and remove when copyright or other issue are reported; trying to screen everything at the point of entry just is not feasible or workable in any sense. YouTube is currently one of, if not THE most important Music discovery and promotion vehicles. The number of tracks / artists that YouTube has introduced me to is innumerable - and the amount of revenues I alone have contributed to said artists in singles / albums downloads surely pays for the odd track that is posted without permission from the copyright holder. The copyright holder can of course initiate removal requests for copyrighted material - which until now has been allowed to be actioned within 24 hours. The current system is fair and just, and most importantly is one that should work for all concerned - bar ignorant and greedy music industry types.

 

These Germans obviously don’t see the benefit of music promotion, which is possibly why so few German acts make it into the global mainstream. As a counter example, Sweden’s relatively tiny pop industry is immensely powerful in comparison to size of population - whilst Germany is the largest music marketplace in Europe, but contributes very few Internationally successful acts.

 

I have never been one to deny companies or artists a means of revenue - of course artists deserve to get paid for their work - but the process that GEMA is trying to introduce will ruin things for everyone - including their members. There’s lots of very successful record labels running their own YouTube Channels - and making ’reasonable’ revenues from them - a lot of labels are partly responsible for copyright infringed material - by failing to adequately service the latent need for their new music - like in any market, where there is demand, there needs to be supply - and people will generally orientate towards a quality product at the right price point.

 

The music industry has long felt the need to exert ’

... 99 Lead Balloons - German Music Industry Association GEMA looks to ground German Pop Industry by hamstringing YouTube
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

18 Apr 2012 10:36 PM
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Last year I blogged about catching the year’s first big music festival courtesy of YouTube - who broadcast live form the 5 stages over the 3 days. I raved about the really clever interface - how they included hashtags into their live updates - and how slickly the whole thing worked, including the uninterrupted streaming broadcast itself.

 

This year the layout of the interface was even better - with the current and upcoming bands listed in the centre, and the updates off to the right. It was interesting to see the addition of the ’Login with Google+’ option - although I never saw a Google+ originated post - they were about 70% Twitter Updates, with 30% Facebook - I even logged on myself to post updates during the Azealia Banks and Miike Snow sets.

 

I did not really start watching properly until the Saturday - and thus caught a mix of highlights and full live gigs by the following artists:

  • AWOLNation
  • Azealia Banks
  • The Big Pink
  • Buzzcocks
  • Childish Gambino
  • Datsik
  • Dr Dre & Snoop Dogg + Eminem, Fiddy, Warren G, Wiz Khalifa et al.
  • Florence & The Machine
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • Kasabian
  • Miike Snow
  • Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
  • Radiohead
  • Santigold
  • SBTRKT
  • Swedish House Mafia

I would have loved to have seen, but missed these:

  • Amon Tobin
  • araabMUZIK
  • Borgore
  • Dada Life
  • DJ Shadow
  • Feed Me
  • Flying Lotus
  • Frank Ocean
  • Girl Talk
  • Justice
  • Kaskade
  • M83
  • Noisia
  • SebastiAn
  • The Weeknd

I always compare YouTube’s coverage of this with the BBC’s coverage of its main music festivals. I think the actual live streaming and the social experience is better by YouTube, but overall the BBC still leads - as they provide so much better supporting materials - and actually post up much more of the video highlights - only 76 Videos are listed on YouTube’s Coachella Page - and these are individual tracks, whilst for the BBC there is normally an extended highlights (circa 30 mins.) plus a couple of individual great moments from nearly all the featured performers - a number of the videos on Coachella Live are not even the best moments from those sets.

 

On my somewhat dodgy Talk Talk connection, I was astounded to get a totally seamless experience over the whole event - did not drop out once - and switching between the 3 live feed options was butter smooth!

 

As I’ve said before, I&

... YouTube's Coachella Live is even better second time around
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

01 Mar 2012 12:01 AM
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We people want to be involved in everything today - we want our say, we want our opinions to be heard and shared, and we want to be able to express ourselves artistically through clever parodies, skits and remixes of popular social media.

There’s a brilliant, brief TED talk (below) by YouTube’s Trends Manager - Kevin Allocca - where he tries to identify how out of millions of hours of video - phenomena ’Nyan Cats’, ’Double Rainbow’ and ’Rebecca Black’s Friday’ managed to stand out. Of course there are a myriad of causal factors there, but the obvious one is that of a shared experience and the ease of interaction and parody. Universally, we now live in the age of parody - as best exemplified by long-running animated shows ’The Simpsons’ and ’South Park’ where nothing is holy any more - everyhing is deconstructed, ridiculed and parodied - and the people love it!

A great part of the success of the aforementioned trio is the ease with which people could relate to them and parody them. Pretty much every decent pop song gets ’covered’ in a million different ways within weeks of hitting the tops of the charts - punk versions, skiffle band folk versions, multi-tracked-acapellas, 2Cellos version, the ubiquitous dubstep remix etc. etc.

Twitter and Facebook’s ubiquity in the ease of commenting, liking, re-tweeting and sharing is what makes them work, and what looks like a sound basis for new site Pinterest. Yet there are still forces out there that think that they can totally ’tailor’ a user’s experience - limit the amount of input, interaction and participation, and still create a successful marketplace - I’m not so sure any more.

By nature we humans are usually highly suspicious, increasingly cynical and often lonely and lacking in confidence in various aspects of our lives - we need regular interaction, recognition, support and approval - much as Abrahm Maslow identified all the way back in 1943. Much has been written about key influencers in human motivations, and one thing is for sure - and that is that complex communities of personal interactions are what best influence behaviour. Everything has to happen within a context and within the subjectivity of a person’s activities, interests and tastes - yet the undeniable truth is that we are all

... Participation is the future of everything on the Internet
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

29 Feb 2012 1:22 AM
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It seems MySpace is still very much in catch-up mode, as its latest offering does not really offer up anything close to the scene-changer that MySpace so desperately needs. I remember the older MySpace Player quite fondly - with its animated EQ bars and customisable colours; since then we have seen Spotify, Soundcloud, Tomahawk, Last.fm and even YouTube stealing a march on MySpace’s former lead in the online music promo sector.

As a Music Player, it probably owes most to Spotify - in terms of its overall look and feel / usability, and recommended similar artists, playlists and ’radio’ functions. Spotify though is much further ahead with all its really clever apps and integrations.

With Justin Timberlake’s involvement in MySpace, I had high hopes that they would do something radical to try to take a leading stake in the music industry again. This Music Player is just an also-ran though, it really does not do anything better than what’s already out there, and there’s no cool function or even tiny detail touch which makes you sit up and take notice.

I’m not saying that MySpace is wholly doomed yet, but they have to do a lot better than this to make themselves relevant and worthy of our attentions once more. In the past I used to check in regularly with MySpace to listen to various artists’ latest tracks - particularly new and up-and-coming artists. Nowadays, most artists make use of Tumblr or just upload a static image to YouTube to accompany their latest promo singles. I do regular record reviews, and the number of artists who use MySpace as a primary resource is dwindling fast, these days, music artists are more likely to lead on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It used to be the case that new music artists broke though on MySpace - a la Lily Allen, nowdays though it’s YouTube a la Justin Bieber!

I have always said that for MySpace to succeed, they need to focus on the music-discoverability angle, which now has been largely taken over by sites like Last.fm and even Spotify, as I mentioned previously. MySpace has to come to market with something cleverer and slicker than what already exists - they need to be moving ahead, not toeing the line. If you compare the MySpace Music Player to Tomahawk for instance, MySpace is several steps off the pace, even though its presentation is more elegant. I have already

... New MySpace Music Player is likely too little too late
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

28 Feb 2012 3:40 PM
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I’ve been playing around with the Tomahawk Social Media Player desktop app for about a week now - since brother Markus introduced me to it - it exists in both PC and Mac flavours, with the latter being slightly more seamless an experience at the moment. This is definitely NOT a replacement for Spotify, more of a useful addition to it - as the largest library of quality music media comes from Spotify itself (requires Premium account).

Out of the box, Tomahawk does not do much more than play back files you already have on your desktop or network. To really get it working, you need to configure a number of ’Resolvers’ which include the following:

For Spotify Premium account holders (Windows Users) you need to download a separate Spotify Resolver from the Tomahawk site. All these Resolvers are only semi-official, so chances are some of them could get blocked at some stage in the future, but essentially the system allows you to search by all these resources and play back the various sound files on the Tomahawk Player.

It’s currently a little clunky and unrefined in its user experience and does certain things more awkwardly than one would have deemed necessary. There are separate searches for instance for ’Super Collection’ (Online Resources) and ’My Collection’ (Your own local or networked music files) - why these are not combined into a single uber search is kind of strange. Also, the Search results themselves are no way near as clear and concise as those on Spotify. In many ways, this seems very much a beta release - when compared to the slick experience of Spotify and new online apps like Pinterest.

There’s nothing particularly genius about the search either - as it does not retrieve all those oddly named YouTube files which you can find yourself on YouTube. Some of the results are bizarre ’near matches’ which appear midway through the results listsings rather than at the bottom - they should really be arranged by some sort of ’suitability’ algorithm.

So in short, the interface and

... Tomahawk Social Media Player is the future of online music playback - still requires a lot of refinement though
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

18 Jan 2012 7:40 PM
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Wikipedia and Reddit were blacked out today in an attempt to highlight to Internet Users - the serious likely impact of this legislation on the basic rights of freedom of the typical netizen.

These 2 new bills - Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) - are in the process of passing through the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively. They would end up giving Copyright Owners way too much power in shutting down and commercially crippling any site/s they choose to target - fairly or unfairly. Copyright Owners already have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to effect similar actions - in enforcing take-down notices, and there are already numerous cases where the DMCA legislation has been abused - even though it does require a degree of due process.

SOPA and PIPA are far too broad and far reaching in their applications, and would end up a weapon of censorship and restriction - closing down and curtailing the open and organic nature of the Internet. The legislation requires no court order to force a take-down notice, and can be so broadly applied that any vague 3rd party reference to another allegdly suspect site can result in an injunction against the referring party.

The problem with the Internet at large is that so many of the daily services we use are based / legislated from the USA - Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia - what with Social Content Contribution - any one of these could easily end up with potentially disputed copyrighted material and be forced to shut down.

UK citizens should be far more worried than most, as has been seen by the recent extradition case of Richard O’Dwyer - a UK citizen who has actually broken no UK or European laws with his UK-based links website - but is still being extradited to the US for summary judgment and punishment.

I’m certainly not a fan of piracy, but totally understand why it happens, and this draconionan legislation will not be the cure. The vast majority of media companies are overly greedy and totally out of touch with reality - and are almost as much a part of the problem as the pirates.

I can buy a pretty decent gaming app on the Apple App Store for just 69 pence - a venture which has taken several months to produce and contains sound and vision, and creative flare, and typically involves a significantly sized project team. Yet for a new sound file - ’single&

... Why a stance against SOPA and PIPA is important for all Internet Users
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