Liisten

by Tyler Hayes

Freelance writer and regular contributor to Fast Company

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HTC One (M8) Goes Gold With Harman Kardon Edition

If having the best sounding phone on the market wasn’t enough already, Harman Kardon took the HTC One (M8) and made it sound even better. Sold as a Sprint exclusive, the stunning black and gold appearance won’t likely sway customers away from their current carrier, but for existing Sprint customers it’s an obvious choice.

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HTC’s newest flagship device, the One (M8), is among the best phones currently available today. It’s sleek, well spec’d, and has dual front facing speakers that make it sound just as good as any small device available. The H/K edition tweaks some of the music features further, putting it well above other phones currently available today.

Part of the H/K One (M8) might be the headphones it comes with, the AE-S. With any headphones, however, they’re still most likely hit or miss for most people with fairly generic rubber...

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Why ‘Fire Ahead’ Is The Album Lakes Needed To Make

The new album from Lakes, ‘Fire Ahead’, unfolds like a bitter-sweet ode to California.

In the midst of joy, love, brokenness, and pain, there’s also this unintentional backdrop of the golden state found throughout the record.

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“This album plays out like a story,” says lead singer Seth Roberts. “It’s very personal, but hopefully that comes across clearly to the listener.”

The story Roberts is referring to is a some what dark one, saying that he lost track of how important and beautiful time can be even when things aren’t going well, that it’s these moments that get built upon and will eventually add up later.

“I went through a pretty rough marriage and ultimately a messy divorce,” Roberts says. “It really spun me into a dark time trying to make sense of a lot of things in my life. Spending years investing...

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On Apple Buying Beats

Yesterday morning my piece on how Apple should open iTunes as a way to change the future of streaming was published. In the afternoon it was reported that Apple is close to buying Beats–both the headphones and streaming music service.

Here are a few things worth considering.

Apple doesn’t need Beats to get streaming music rights.

The streaming rights negotiated to specific services don’t transfer in acquisition deals, so the deals Beats has in place wouldn’t benefit Apple.

There are plenty of streaming music services (too many?) so another one getting the streaming rights wouldn’t likely be an issue.

Also, as announced on the recent Apple earnings call, iTunes has 800 million accounts. The labels know that if they don’t negotiate a deal Apple could open direct access to the music store and encourage artists to bypass the record labels altogether.

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This Is Apple’s Future Product Line For 2014

Based on speculation, rumors, and general conversation, this is what I think will, or should, happen to Apple’s product line this year.

iPod

The iPod Touch and iPod Nano will go away.

Every year, not to mention every quarter iPod sales decrease. Presumably iPod Touch sales are the vast majority of those numbers and it’s still decreasing.

And as much as the iPod Touch and iPod Nano fit nicely into certain people’s lives, they are just becoming redundant products for most people.

For those using the iPod Touch for gaming and want a non-phone iPhone, they will be pushed towards the iPad Mini. For those in the camp of the iPod Nano, there will be a new device.

iWatch

I think Apple will get rid of the iPod Nano in favor of its new wearable–though I don’t think it will be a watch.

I think the device that people are currently referring to as the iWatch will...

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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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