Liisten

by Tyler Hayes

Freelance writer and regular contributor to Fast Company

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Music To Write To

There’s nothing magical about these albums, but they’re ones that help create an atmosphere conducive to writing–for me at least. If I’m not careful with my musical choice when I need to get something written, I could end up down a rabbit hole searching for new music or focused on lyrics and get lost day dreaming.

The secret sauce these particular albums have is an ability to blend into the background and become a familiar texture over everything else around. They aren’t painfully dull or bland, but they also aren’t distracting. There’s movement, like a lazy river, which is enough to carry you, but won’t give you reason to pause.

If you looking for music to listen to while you write, study, sleep, or any other type of work, give these albums a spin. You may find something that works for you as well.

  • Hem - Departure and farewell (Folk)
  • Ben Webster - Soulville (Jazz)
  • Youth Lagoon - A...

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Best Music From 2014

Instead of making a full top 10 list, I decided to highlight a few of my absolute favorite albums from 2014. I also added a single word which I feel describes the album as a whole–something that immediately comes to mind when I think of the songs.

Copeland - Ixora

Word: Consistent

This is the one album on this list which doesn’t immediately draw any word or image to mind. It’s an album fairly predictable by Copeland standards. Meaning, there isn’t any distinctively new direction the songs collectively take on. Most borrow parts of the past to make up something new. It’s consistent in the best way possible.

Part of it too is still the shock and awe of a new Copeland album–after the band disbanded years ago. Ixora births a few surprises like “Like A Lie” which breaks into a sultry chorus, one with a thick groove. Or the acoustic and muzak-like “World Turn” which adds a saxophone and...

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Bandcamp And The Streaming Problem

Bandcamp is a website on a mission to provide musicians with the tools necessary to sell their recorded music–both digitally and physically. It’s an easy way for artists to give their fans a solid commerce experience and make more money than selling through iTunes or Amazon.

Despite all the positive work the company is doing in the music space, it still appears to be focused on selling downloads. This seems like a problem as the social consciousness is wrapped around the idea of unlimited and on-demand music streaming being the solution to the music industry’s woes.

Anyone paying $10 to Rdio, Spotify, Beats, or any of the other services has had the joy of searching for a song or album, hitting play, and being able to listen whenever they please. It’s amazing for causal listeners and enthusiasts alike.

While on-demand streaming music may be its technical future, it doesn’t appear to...

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EverDock Duo Review

Did you get a new iPhone 6 or 6 Plus and realize it won’t fit in the dock you had been using? Or maybe you just decided it’s time to look for a new bedside option to charge the phone at night. Here’s my look at Fuz’s EverDock Duo.

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Just scouting out different options, the reason the EverDock is so appealing is its flexibility. There’s no sides which means that as iPhone grow and change shapes, the dock shouldn’t have an issue continuing to be used.

As great as some of the other premium docks might be, if you bought a 6 Plus, there’s a good chance it doesn’t fit in the small area. In addition to the open sides, the cables are also interchangeable for Android, Windows, or iOS devices.

Another aspect to consider for newer iPhones is the ability to undock them one handed. It’s been a little bit of a concern since the phones received the new lightning connector and the connection locks...

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What Spotify’s Video Ads Mean For The Future Of Recorded Music

Spotify announced today that it would begin using video ads–in either 15 or 30-second increments. A 30-second video ad, for example, would net the listener 30 minutes of ad-free listening time.

At this point it seems that there are only two ways recorded music continues to survive. Either companies eventually subsidize it until all recorded music is free and paying for it isn’t an option, or streaming music services lower the price to the point of widespread mass adoption.

As Spotify further explores monetizing its 30 million free users–versus 10 million paying–with video ads, the subsidization option looks to be the most realistic. At a certain point artists trying to make a career in music likely won’t even accept direct payment from fans because few will be willing to pay what advertisers or corporate sponsors will pay.

Samsung spent nearly $14 billion on marketing in 2013, while...

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Music Everywhere

Despite numerous streaming music services available at the touch of a button, music is still too fragmented.

Laying in bed last night, I desperately wanted a simple way to listen to Ryan Adams’s new self-titled album premiering on NPR First Listen on my Sonos Play:1. Every scenario I imagined required too much work for that time of night.

Having the possibility of streaming any audio content I want through a connected speaker is so close, but still so far. Off the top of my head I can think a few different things I’d love to be an service available through Sonos’s app.

  • NPR First Listen (Weekly streams of album not yet released)
  • NPR One (Personally tailored on-demand radio)
  • Whyd (Social network dedicated to music)
  • Thunderspace (iOS app with stereoscopic recorded thunderstorms)

AirPlay or Bluetooth aren’t really the answer. Those solutions are band-aids for when other better solutions...

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Is This How You Share A Song?

Looking for a way to share a song with someone? Someone who may not use the same social network or music service you do?

Check out Craaave.

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It’s a direct messaging app with no user names or profiles, just simple song sharing from one person to another. Once some one sends a song, you can save it to your preferred service.

Finding a song to share is fast, but you can also have it listen and detect a song playing right then, just like Shazam.

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The Best Front Pocket Minimalist Wallet

Even after a year, the post on my favorite front pocket wallet remains one of the most viewed posts on Liisten.

The post deserves an update considering I’m no longer using the Flipside Strata, though I still think it’s a great option.

Like previously stated in the original post, the goal with a front pocket wallet is both minimalism and practicality. The ability for a wallet to be efficiently thin, shedding unnecessary bulk, makes a good front pocket choice.

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My current choice is the Mojave Picker’s Wallet from Whipping Post. It serves all the basic requirements of being slim while holding enough cards, but its benefits are in the finer details and aesthetics.

The most important aspect of the Picker’s wallet is its exposed ID slot. It’s extremely handy to not have to take out your ID or open your wallet to produce the card every time you pay for something. The slot securely holds the...

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The Secret Little Problem With Amazon’s Fire TV

I got a little nervous that something was wrong when I go a notice from my Internet service provider, Cox Cable, saying that I had hit my monthly download cap.

If you don’t know, most Internet services allow a monthly limit of data that you can download each month. Even if it’s not advertised, most services usually have a data cap in there somewhere. With the particular speed of service I’m signed up for I get 250GB/month. That data allotment has always been enough in the past, even streaming all TV, movies, music and having 10+ connected devices in the house.

When I received the email from Cox Cable, the first thing I assumed was a rogue WiFi guest doing something they shouldn’t be doing. So I immediately changed my router’s administrator password and wireless password and turned off guest access.

I checked my wife’s Windows 8 computer which tracks data usage – nothing there. I...

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Possibly The Best Wireless Headphones You Can Buy Today

If you’re like me then it’s essential to have a solid pair of headphones. Some that are of a certain level of fidelity and aren’t unnecessarily bulky or expensive. For a lot of people, myself included, spending ~$100 on headphones is a lot of money so I’d also like whichever headphones I choose to be a wise investment, even years later.

I happened upon Outdoor Technology and its wireless audio products through other reporting, but found something I wasn’t expecting, the exact type of headphones I’d been looking for – high quality, portable, and wireless.

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The Tuis are some of the Outdoor Technology’s newest headphones and are top of the line for the company. Coming in at $150 the Tuis aren’t expensive compared to ones from Beats or another dedicated headphone manufacturer, but they aren’t exactly cheap either. What they are, however, are some of the most comfortable headphones I’ve...

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