Liisten

Freelance writer and regular contributor to Fast Company

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The Colourist Hit A Nerve On Self Titled Album

Indie/Pop is a genre never in short supply but rarely does a band or album have the right mixture of substance and shine.

The Colourist’s new self titled album navigates the fine line of fluff right from the start on “Little Games” and only gets better from there.

It was actually “Wishing Wells” that first captured my attention with its hypnotic use of “I’m sick of hearing what if, what if.” Each song has it’s own unique hook buried at different levels beneath foot tapping beats.

The pinnacle of The Colourist’s self titled album isn’t an entire song, or something obvious, it’s Maya Tuttle’s background vocals chiming in on “Yes, Yes.”

The back and forth between Adam Castilla and Tuttle’s lead singing gives the album a feeling mostly absent since Mates Of States released ’Re-arrange...

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5 Apps To Make Music, Even If You Don’t Play An Instrument

Even for those who wouldn’t call themselves musicians, the possibility of being able to create music isn’t out of reach. Here are some of the easiest ways to join in with other musicians or make music on your own.

Figure $0.99 (iOS)

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The app from software maker Propellerhead has long been one of the simplest ways to create your own tunes. There’re sections for drums, bass, and lead (synth) which can all be recorded and layered with each other. The bass and lead sections allow you to change the rhythm and steps in the scale, while the drums allows you to adjust each of the drum pieces individually.

Once you’ve settled on the tempo and key in the settings all you have to do is hold your finger down to start playing. The bass and lead sections are pad which change pitch and shape as you slide your finger and if something doesn’t sound right, it can all be adjusted on the fly with a...

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Looking At Hue Connected Lights

There’s not really a problem with light bulbs as they currently stand and yet after a short time with 3 connected Hue lights from Philips, it’s hard to imagine not having them.

The ability to change colors is one thing, but the true brilliance is simply being able to turn lights on or off from anywhere.

Having lights that connect to the internet, via a hub, is a glimpse into the connected home.

Installing the lights is like any other light bulb, except the hub which gets hardwired into the router. The hub is the connecting piece and what ties all the bulbs or other Hue pieces together. It’s how you’re able to group different lights, or control them all.

In hindsight it’s very simple, but every time you connect a new mobile app to control the bulbs in a new way, you are typically required to press the hub button as a way to allow permission. It’s...

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Searching Social Networks For Indie Artists

It’s obvious enough why Shazam, 300, and now Gracenote are all moving into mining social data to predict the next big artist, before they’re the next big thing, but what’s not obvious is why the next big thing matters that much.

Right now, the entire music industry makes less money in a year than Apple makes in a few weeks. So, it can’t solely be about the money. People are still listening to music and streaming it in large volumes, but consumers aren’t paying for it in any meaningful numbers, and adding or exposing more “hit bands” won’t change that.

300 will be using data direct from Twitter unavailable to anyone else for a year, Shazam will of course be using data generated by its users tagging songs, and Gracenote will using Next Big Sound and Musicmetric for its data source.

Rich Riley, CEO of Shazam, says “We are combining...

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Apple Trying To Delay Streaming Music Releases

According to Billboard, Apple is in talks with major labels to delay music albums from hitting streaming services until after they’ve been available for download for a certain period of time.

In the meetings during Grammy Week, Apple’s iTunes contingent, led by Kondrk, even suggested the albums don’t even have to be exclusive to iTunes, and that labels could give albums to other stores as well – but not streaming services.

I actually agree with this strategy, but only when it’s voluntarily implemented. Beyoncé’s newest album was released exclusively on iTunes for its first week after it remained secret up until release.

The album didn’t leak ahead of time. No one heard it before the moment they could buy it, so of course it sold well.

If you are going to do a windowed approach, it needs to cater towards the fans and artists instead of record...

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Lord Huron Singer On New Album, Tech, And Nostalgia

A lot of fans assume that a musician’s thoughts revolve around the music, that it’s everything to them. Founding member of the band Lord Huron sheds a different light on the process of creating music, however, explaining the importance things like social media, videos, and interactive content.

“I think if we were just touring, playing the same songs every night that we might get kind of tired,” says lead singer Ben Schneider. “Because we have these other outlets–like working on videos and other projects–while we’re out on tour, it keeps us engaged and interested.”

“To be honest, I don’t know how long it would keep my interest, but it’s because we’ve been able to integrate all these other elements that it stays fresh,” says Schneider.

Gearing up for the second album, it’s hard to ignore the feeling that Schneider is really looking to create something that sparks all of his...

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The Other Side Of Content Resolution

Of course I want to share links to songs and not worry what music service other people are using, but I’m just one person. The flip side is about artists that want to share links for their music to the widest possible audience and not worry whether someone uses iTunes, Spotify, or Amazon to get their music.

Bop.fm has been testing the waters and doing just this. The service, which shares a universal link to multiple content sources, has been providing links and testing partnerships with artists like Jason Mraz and Hot Chelle Rae, among others.

Did you notice the Grammys created playlists for each category and used Bop.fm to do it. Why? To reach the largest audience the awards show either has to choose the biggest media service, most likely iTunes, or it has to stay agnostic and cast a wide net. Using something like Bop allows companies and services a chance to incorporate more...

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Photo App VSCO Cam Wants To Be A Museum Not Social A Network

It’s easy to want to compare mobile photo apps, but if Instagram is mainly about sharing, then VSCO Cam is about editing. Instead of the two mobile photo apps competing head on for users, VSCO has focused on the product the app is outputting. “We believe the devil is in the details–that the details are where quality is found,” says VSCO co-founder and CEO Joel Flory. “But, as a creative photography company, we ask ourselves the question ‘Does this honor the art and artist above all?’”

Beyond the twenty something updates and improvements in the new version of the app, the biggest addition is the implementation of the company’s publishing platform, VSCO Grid. With version 3.0 the company is not just adding social in a nontraditional way, it’s also solidifying its stance on how they think a startup should be run.

“The...

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Ha Ha Only Serious: Is This Love App For Real?

You let your phone remind you of meetings and other things throughout the the day, so shouldn’t it be OK for it to remind you to affectionately text your significant other as well? A new app, Romantimatic, is offering just that proposition and in doing so is prompting a bigger debate. “What I see as a small reminder to be nice is seen by others as devaluing the entire idea of romantic love” says developer Greg Knauss. “If you need to be reminded, they say, the relationship can’t be worth much to you.”

Upon downloading, Romantimatic lets you select your “sweetheart,” provides you the ability to select the frequency of reminders, and the message options. Essentially it’s just a reminder app focused on a specific area much like the egg timers or coffee reminders also in the app store. When love is involved, however, all bets are off as to how users will respond. The backlash has been one...

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How We See Music

CEO of Beats Music on his personal site talking about the launch of the service:

I’ll give you my personal view: If you’re the kind of person who pays ~$1,000/year for cable and refuse to spend ~$100/year on a great music service, you and I look at the world very differently from one another. If music, and a service that brings you great music experiences and playlists from everyone from Pitchfork to Downbeat to Mojo to Thrasher isn’t worth $100/year to you I’m afraid we don’t have much in common. Or put more specifically, if you are ok with the playlist below being interrupted by a loud insurance ad, music doesn’t define the moments of your life the same way it does mine.

I see music the same way Ian Rogers does, but unfortunately I think most others don’t. They’re happy, or at least fine, to use YouTube and other sources to hear specific songs at specific times.

I think...

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