Maybe it's not that noticeable to most people, but it seems to stick out like a sore thumb that Yahoo doesn't have a music link on their front page next to movies and sports.
You can stumble around Yahoo and find Yahoo Music which offers a blurred hybrid of their OMG site and generic music keyword related articles. So why doesn't Yahoo list their music site on the front page even though there's little doubt that their music page gets substantially more traffic than most sites striving to cater to their music minded audience?
It's probably because it's a static reminder of the past. Yahoo and music have a strained relationship at best. For example, one of the few original blogs, 'Early Edition', hasn't been updated since September of 2010. Other tabs on the site like iheartradio and Spotify mostly serve as a pass-through to other destinations. There is just very little for this, still, giant company to brag about when it comes to music and music coverage.
Yahoo Music used to mean something in the industry, the place people first thought of to view music videos and listen to songs on their music service, but that time is only a distant memory in the way MySpace seems like it was from another lifetime.
Here's what I'd like to see Yahoo do with their prominent online space to further the music industry rather than contribute to the cruft of it.
What if Yahoo was to do something different than others were doing and make a meaningful impact? If Yahoo acquired someone like NoiseTrade.com – a site that helps artists exchange their music for fan's contact info (email address) – they would instantly create a music discovery destination while driving the limits of a new digital industry. The main idea behind NoiseTrade is that an email address and vague location (zip code) is more valuable in the long run, helping artists contact relevant and interested fans, than a few dollars from an anonymous listener does in the short term. Based on how NoiseTrade easily found an audience of artists (and labels) that believe in using recorded music to help promote shows and merchandise sales, this type of endeavor could quickly scale up to Yahoo's size.
NoiseTrade has built a music community around good will, something that's pretty rare today. Maybe that's why even though all the music on the site is available for free, the tips that fans voluntarily leave can become fairly substantial to an artist's bottom line. Not to mention the site has always been profitable and continues to grow.
Since AOL's recent shuttering of properties like Spinner, it would seem a bit foolish for Yahoo to go down the well worn path of typical music blogs. It would also seem that Yahoo's time to offer a full (modern) music service has passed with plenty of competitors covering most aspects.
Now that Yahoo has officially acquired Tumblr and continues to rebuild from a dated company into current and future relevance there's no reason music shouldn't be apart of their plan. Being apart of the future means doing something new, rather than simply tweaking the colors of a product everyone else is already selling. Whether that looks like NoiseTrade or something new like Twitter did to harvest people's music interest from their tweets, Yahoo desperately needs to reinvigorate their music offering before any influence is lost.
Disclaimer: I do occasionally contribute artist interviews to NoiseTrade's blog, but don't have any financial stake in the company.
The lightweight, clean, and minimalist results provided by ReadyMag should have other publishing systems more than a little nervous.
Below is a test magazine I made. That's right, it's embedded in this post. Try it on a computer, on a phone or tablet. It's scary how quick and simple the experience scales up or down fitting your device.
Everything that ReadyMag is offering, the ability to create lightweight, cross platform magazines that can be sold, is such an attractive offering.
Although the results can be stunning, as shown in the introduction videos, you still need a little patience to create something worth sharing around. The tools are simple and mostly straightforward, but there is a roughness in manipulating objects exactly how you want them to appear. The current offering of templates also still requires the user have some inkling of design talent, creativity, and imagination. So, unless you have some sense of design and layout in your blood, it'll probably take longer than you're expecting to craft a publication.
If nothing else, ReadyMag should give the vision to people of what the future of reading and creating magazines could be. Based on what the small team has already accomplished with a closed beta, I wouldn't bet against them. In fact, I don't see them being independent for too long before being scooped up by a bigger company.
This looks to just be the tip of the iceberg. With the initial release of Twitter #music aiming broadly at the Pandora crowd, this first update looks to reach a hand out to those music enthusiasts always looking for the next big thing.
Google joins the streaming subscription game with their updated music service All Access, competing against Spotify and Rdio. Though new and shinny, don't expect much from the service, at least not initially.
As intriguing as a music subscription service from Google may seem, there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn't get your hopes up without a healthy dose of skepticism to match. A few years back, also an I/O announcement, Google unveiled the first Google Music which has since turned out to be a huge dud, more than anyone could have predicted. At the time, the climate was such that Google was joining Amazon to provide a music locker of a users uploaded music library, a way to get around the need for licensing music in the cloud. Ultimately though, very few cared to jump through the amount of hoops needed to integrate the service into the way they listened to music.
Rumors of a 'confirmed Google music subscription service' spread just a day before the announcement with the biggest news being that they'd gotten all the major music labels onboard. Pricing is set at $9.99/month, with those signing up in the first month getting access for $7.99/month. Unlike Spotify, Google Play Music All Access currently has no free tier. There is a 30 day free trial available.
The biggest issue Google faces with their music initiatives, and reason to be skeptical, is that they're always competing against the rumors of what other companies may or may not be doing, primarily Apple. They tend to swing in the dark with things they think they should be doing, rather than having a clear path and reason for getting into music in the first place. Google's All Access experience on day one is similar to the day before, that's to say it's Google Music just with access to music outside your personal library. There's the obligatory radio service that tries to guess what songs you'll like, along with the ability to swipe those you don't care for out of the playlist. There's nothing more compelling than the service you currently use. This effort also won't convince those not already using a music subscription service.
Google Play Music store has done little to nothing to further music sales. Their Artist Hub is a bold and brilliant move for independent artists, but no one takes advantage of the service. The opportunity for unsigned artists to sell directly through Google Play could be a huge win, yet most still opt for Bandcamp or other services. Independent artists currently selling through Google Play Music can indeed flip a switch and allow their music to easily show up in All Access.
If the only thing Google brings to the table with this move into subscription music, is the threat of competition, it will have been worth it. They just can't do the bare minimum with features and apps, however, and expect to gain any traction in a difficult space. Currently the only option to share a song is through Google+, demonstrating some of the out-of-touch thinking going on with Google and music.
Did you know the iPhone has a notification light for calls and messages?
…You can have iPhone flash its LED (next to the camera lens on the back of the iPhone). This works only when iPhone is locked or asleep. Available for iPhone 4 or later.
Turn on LED Flash for Alerts: Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > LED Flash for Alerts.
It's right there in the manual (PDF link), plain as day. We've been ditching manuals for years in favor of self intellect, but it seems in today's climate even those with the tendencies to consult the official manual have traded it in for just 'figuring it out.' Do you ever wonder what you're missing by not reading the manual?
Do you have a new Samsung Galaxy S4? Did you know there's an easy mode to put some of the most common apps front and center? Ironically, getting to easy mode isn't.
To change to Easy mode, touch Apps > Settings and touch the My device tab. Touch Home screen mode and select Easy mode (Starter mode) > Apply. The Home screen is reconfigured with a simple layout.
The HTC One has a bunch of compelling camera features like the ability to merge several shots into one picture showing an action sequence, or being able to create a highlight slideshow from the night's videos and pictures. Unfortunately if you don't read the manual or take HTC's feature video tour, you might never find these benefits of the sleek phone.
While Twitter doesn't have a manual per se, they do have a lot of guidelines they'd like people to follow. Only the most adventurous, however, might ever find the dos and don'ts for using Twitter's logo. For example, the company has specific guidelines for how much space they'd like you have between their logo and your text, specifically a hashtag or username.
Heaven help you if you choose to browse Gmail's help guide looking for interesting tricks. The coma-inducing text is both boring and incredibly overwhelming. Buried in there though is something most probably didn't know or had forgotten. Gmail has the ability to see the last locations and IP addresses of devices accessing your mail.
To see your account activity, click the Details link next to the Last account activity line at the bottom of any Gmail page.
The help article goes on with how to decipher the information Gmail's account activity gives you. In fact, it's the kind of information that could give a casual user the impression of a hacked account.
The brilliance of Kickstarter, beyond revolutionizing product development, is that it has managed to be everything to everyone.
For the music enthusiast it's the best hipster record store on the planet, being able to buy an album before it's even recorded. For the tech enthusiast it's their wildest dreams come true, a chance to fund the future of gadgets and advanced technology. Everyone who wants a wallet made in their vision can find that too. Here are some of the best products I've found to come through the Kickstarter bootcamp, many now available to purchase directly from the companies themselves for the latecomers.
For all its delays and minor issues — designing against a 30 pin adapter when Apple changed over to a whole new lightning connector — the Elevation Dock has proven to be one of the best iPhone docks to date. The dock has seen copycats and those trying to improve even further on the design, though it still remains first in class. Available to purchase directly from ElevationLab, there is now a version for all the latest iPhones.
The Tiltpod fills the need for picture taking, FaceTime talking, or hands free video watching, all on the go. There are a lot of these compact gizmos for holding your phone, but this is my favorite. In concept and theory it seems cool, the thing that makes it so good is that it actually works exactly like it should and without fault. Available to purchase, there's also an option for the Tiltpod to work with standard point & shoots.
The best kickstarter projects are those that convince you to replace an existing product in good working order, simply because it's that compelling.
The Almond+ : 802.11ac WiFi Router convinced over 7600 people to upgrade their router, not because theirs was broken, but because they just wanted it. With production and shipping, the time between backing and receiving the $99 touchscreen router, it's pretty much only for those looking to increase the capabilities of their home's WiFi. The previous version of the router was well-recieved, so there's no reason to believe the new one shouldn't be as well.
One of my favorite albums of 2013 will be Hoyle's debut 'Massa Peccati'. Because I backed the album through Kickstarter, I was able to get the digital version for only $5. The often poppy indie rock album is an example of the talent that just needs a little support — $4000 funding goal — to produce people's favorite music.
Products like the Pebble smart watch and Ouya's Android game console may be some of the most popular, but unhappy customers with less than satisfied results have caused issues for the different products releases. The most popular doesn't always mean the best, in fact, the best products are usually those that are highly focused on a single, specific need.
What are the best products you've found on Kickstarter?
An interesting tweet showed up in my timeline from the San Diego Padres encouraging fans to download their new official browser theme. I clicked through with no intention of downloading, but interested in what they were doing from a technical aspect. The screenshot of the decked out browser caught my attention, what inevitably will be overlooked by most stuck out like a sore thumb. The search box is not Google or Bing, but a 3rd party interested in making money off re-directing user searches.
I work for a company that repairs and fixes computer and see this type of issue all the time from frustrated users. Though Websearch+ (the particular 'premium' search being used in this case) may not be a typical virus or malware, there's no question it's malicious in nature. Which is why the most concerning thing may be the stamp of approval saying it's “100% malware free.”
Even from just a concerned user standpoint, typing “Websearch+” into Google is littered with results like “How to remove Websearch+.” In fact, there's not one positive or favorable result for the search in the first 5 pages. Everyone wants to know why things are popping up, how to get rid of it, or why it's re-directing them to places they didn't want to go. This type of 'premium search' scam isn't new, but in the past it has come from less than reputable sites promoting glittery new cursors or free desktop backgrounds, not from the pages of MLB and official sports teams.
Simply put, this is unacceptable and not consumer friendly.
Searching @brandthunder's Twitter stream, you can find other examples of teams supporting the malicious practice including NHL's Chicago Blackhawks
Immediately infectious tracks like “Diane Young” are the exception, not the defining lines of Vampire Weekend's newest album. Anyone with more than 30 seconds worth of patience, however, should be able to instantly see the other song's appeal and the reason everyone is getting more than a little excited with the band's 3rd studio album.
'Modern Vampires of The City' utilizes its allotted time, not taking any song for granted, to break any binds that previously held the band from recognition of mainstream greatness, rather than just great mainstream pop.
Pointed and purposeful, Ezra Koenig's vocal effort on the new release, like previous releases, is reason enough to press play. The album's sonic dynamic is crafted in a way that no song is bigger or smaller than it can support with each instrument living comfortably in a carved out space.
Any hyperbole could be put to rest based on the depth of the lyrics, some that dance and wind around in spectacular fashion, others that take a more serious look at life. Any fawning hopefully won't be regretted later on the simple observation that this is an album built track after track rather than by any one or two single songs. Repeat plays show a different aspect each time. So, while this certainly could live independently as someone's soundtrack to summer 2013, it also has enough strength to live on well past the coming season.
My buddy picked his phone up off the table and glanced at it like he was checking for an expected message. After a few swipes and brief pause he put the device comfortably in his pocket. With nothing too suspicious about the actions taking place in front of me while I sat and changed some guitar strings, I broke my gaze from his direction. Not long after that, I reached into my own pocket for my device for no real reason other than to check in on the world and everything happening.
I had been Instagramed. There I was, sitting in the background of this filtered image which contained nothing particularly important. He had Instagramed me, without saying a word, and captioned it “Good times, hanging out.” A flurry of emotions came to life, I wasn't sure whether to be outraged and cite privacy concerns or just be grateful for this opportunity to be tagged in the photo. I didn't say anything, but it was still weird. He never said anything either, though I think he knew it was weird too. We kept being friends in spite of the incident.
Have you noticed that in a matter of seconds, any pre-teen with an axe to grind can take a blurry image and become an Instagram star at the expense of someone or something else. How many exploited sunsets, plates of food, dogs, or unknowing humans will have to be exploited before we get tired of the misery? I often cringe as I see hit after hit scrolling through my Instagram feed. I know that person didn't know this picture would make it to the service, this other person wasn't prepared to be tagged in that situation, and the guy 'scratching' his nose was just a cruel joke.
Seriously though, unlike any other social network, the most random and un-celebrity people (and kids) are wielding tremendous amounts of followers. On other services, if someone has 50,000+ followers they must be a some what well known name, on Instagram though, that's not necessarily the case. More than Twitter, and especially Facebook, carefully placed tags (or massive amounts) can lead to a unimaginable amounts of followers.
Barley is giving a whole new meaning to the phrase, what you see is what you get. The all-in-one content management system and hosting service gives users a simple and clean website that's the same for visitors and publishers alike. Once the owner is logged into their site, they simply click to edit the text, change the formatting, or insert media. The concept isn't so much gimmicky as it is obvious. If you want to change a certain body of text, then you click on it and change it. Simple.
Trying out a demo of the service, the experience was straightforward and intuitive. Further, with the help of about 4 minutes in help videos, I knew all I needed to know about configuring and running a Barley site. For $18 a month you get a complete site with very little headache and very little to worry about. The price and basic feature set, however, do combine to carve out a very specific audience that currently fits into what Barley is offering, but those that do fit the bill should be very happy.
The most obvious competitors in Barley's way are Squarespace and Media Temple's Virb. Squarespace offers a plan for $16 a month (billed annually) and Virb offers a plan for $10 a month. Both competitors have e-commerce integration available and a deeper feature set that comes with being around longer. In comparison to the incumbents, Barley starts to look pretty simple, though to be fair, simple and easy is what they're aiming for. At the time of writing there are some 50,000 people in line wanting to try Barley so the key for them is to capitalize on the interest and aggressively add partnerships that highlight the platforms strengths.
Seeing the person sitting in the coffee shop, updating their site on the iPad, in Barley's introduction video, I can't help but think about this new generation of computer-less users. Those that opted for a tablet rather than a traditional laptop or desktop. Barley's way of building websites seems to grab-hold of forward thinking even more than their competition so while they can't necessarily compete on check-marks (yet), there may be plenty of people whose thinking of technology does align with Barley's.