Why the Media Fat Cats are Wrong: Again.

Today I look at why the media industry needs to stop and think and start looking at the internet as a whole new opportunity rather than a threat. Then they can make more money and we can love a happier life without stresses of SOPA/ ACTA and all the other threats.

You can find the article on Media Tapper:

Why The Media Fat Cats Are Wrong: Again

(#46 of 366 X 2012 project)

Sixties Music: A Personal Journey

I remember Little Steven stating in one of his shows that the ‘60s was the last decade in which the most popular music of the time was also the best music being made. Even though I was born thirteen and a half years after the decade was over, I have to admit that I agree with him completely since I am a big fan of music released in that era.

I was introduced to pop music from the flower power era at a very young age because my father was still in love with the music as we were growing up. I still remember this orange cassette tape he owned and played over and over again in his car. I can’t recall each and every song that was on it because it was an eclectic mix, however I used to sing along to “Downtown” and “Raindrops keep falling on my head”.

Getting back to them took me quite a while. One of my brothers always had a soft spot for ‘60s music, especially The Beatles and The Doors, but as a young boy I was quite ambivalent to music. I would listen to anything that came along without giving it too much importance. At thirteen, however, there were two defining moments. First was when I was given three CDs as a present: Help!, Please Please Me (both by the Beatles) and Bridge Over Troubled Water (by Simon & Garfunkel). I didn’t own a CD player but listened to them repeatedly on my computer till they were burned through.

The next was a long-haul flight to New York, having taken no form of entertainment on a plane which had a couple of TVs at the start of each group of seats. The plane, did, however have a selection of music you could tap into by plugging in a set of headphones to the jack on the side of the seat. The channels only had numbers, but I remember hearing Downtown (again) and stopping on that channel. It had ninety minutes of ‘60s pop blasting through on loop, but I spent all the 18 hours of flight time (there and back) stuck to this channel, falling in love with one song: “Where do you go to my Lovely”, by Peter Sarstedt.

Following that trip I was completely in love with ‘60s music and have spent my life going from one band from that era to the next ever since. Some have been pop acts, others have been rock and some folk. Somewhere or other, however, there is always the same connection – they started off in the sixties. In the past two to three years I have listened to quite a few modern bands and electronic acts, but I always feel as if I’m walking back home when I hear something from the ‘60s.

Today, for example, we had around four hours of driving to do and, as we tend to do whenever we rent a car abroad, we stopped at a service station for a coffee and bought a compilation box-set of CDs with music from the ‘60s. Having seen my fair share of them, I am always amazed at how similar these collections can be, given that there is over a decade of music to condense into around 100 songs. But give or take a few you know that you’ll have a core of about 30 – 40 songs present on each and every one of these compilations.

We spent the entire drive oohing and aahing at every new song, singing along to all of them (my father in better tune) and being a general nuisance to my wife, mother and sister sitting in the back seat. Oh the good old days.

(#31 of 366 X 2012 project)

8tracks.com: Musical Discovery Paradise

8tracks.com screenshotSustaining a creative spell on a daily business for a long period needs fuel. I’m a terribly boring guy, and I don’t really believe in doing drugs. I stop drinking coffee after lunch time and only use energy drinks if I need a kick before playing football and I’m too exhausted to walk to my car when I’m playing (and to mix with vodka).

My cheat is music. I love it. It is the only way I can survive cardio at the gym, my means of concentration at the office and my fuel at night.

My biggest problem with music, though, is that unless I have time to research new bands I usually end up stuck in a rut. I’m subscribed to Last.FM and use it primarily for one channel – the “Sounds like Neil Young” channel. I’ve tried many others, but nothing comes close to satisfying me as much, even when I tried to specify what I would consider to be a very narrow range of music.

The solution: 8tracks.com. It is all-legit, free-to-use and, as their blurb states: handcrafted. The concept is incredibly simple, users just create small musical mixes and tag them by genre. The average seems to be 8 tracks (hence the name of the site), but some mixes are much longer. I haven’t found the time to create mixes myself, so I might revisit the subject once I have.

You don’t even need to subscribe to enjoy the music, even though creating an account does have its advantages. It allows you to create your own mixes, add songs to your favourites, add mixes to your favourites subscribe to other users’ mixes.

Another mega bonus is the availability of apps for Android and on iDevices. You can select a mix on the move and you’re on the way to musical discovery.

8tracks does have drawbacks (or rather, limitations). It does not compete with Spotify, Google music or Grooveshark because you cannot choose your own tracks (unless you create your own mixes). I have also never come across a mix with more than one song per artist, so I’m also guessing there’s a limit imposed there. I also find it frustrating that you can only press next for a limited number of times per hour – they say it is because of the way their license to play music works.

But I have found nothing I’ve tried so far even comes close as a service to discover new music. Since all the mixes are made manually it can be a bit of a hit-and-miss at times, but overall when you select a mix based on its tags the hit-rate is very high. Try it out, you surely won’t be disappointed and you have absolutely nothing to lose.


(#25 of 366 X 2012 project)

Music – The Jersey Connection

The Gaslight Anthem

I’m not sure whether it is fate, a pure coincidence or the influence of Little Steven’s show, but some of my favourite musical influences in recent years have been from New Jersey. There is much more to the state than The Sopranos and Jersey Shore.

Little Steven

I got to Little Steven via Javi, a Spanish friend. I was crashing at his place for a week and The Underground Garage show was running on one of my friend’s favourite radio stations. Little Steven was a guitarist with Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street band. He was replaced by Nils Lofgren (another one of my favourite artists) on the band in the ’70s but nowadays he has one of the best rock’n’roll radio shows available. You can listen to the show on a weekly basis on his site. You need to register, but it is completely free of charge and gives you access to all the shows in the archive (about 500 of them!) They offer an insight into music like no other. This guy was there when music was still at its rawest. He hung out with legends and manages to secure interviews with the Gods of music on a regular basis.

The Gaslight Anthem

If there is one thing I am eternally grateful to Little Steven for, it is The Gaslight Anthem. He played American Slang in two consecutive shows, and I looked them up but thought nothing more of it. The next week I was researching a festival I was going to (Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, London). I saw they were playing there and was over the moon. I wasn’t disappointed – in fact I now listen to all their material a couple of times a week at the very least. They are currently recording their fourth (full-length) album, which should be out this year.

The Gaslight Anthem: American Slang

Bruce Springsteen

The Gaslight Anthem hit the big time when The Boss unexpectedly joined them on stage at a concert. He loves their music and has supported them heavily along their way to success. I, on the other hand, arrived at Bruce Springsteen via The Gaslight Anthem. I was always aware of his music, but was never a big fan. I could not see past a couple of his big hits. When I got into his albums, however, I found that there is a lot of depth in his lyrics.

The Horrible Crowes

The Horrible Crowes are the dark and mellow side-project of Brian Fallon, the Gaslight Anthem’s front-man. They take the emotional side of The Gaslight Anthem and remove the punk-like riffs and upbeat music to produce music which is drenched in emotion. Forget liking them on your first attempt at listening to their music. You will need to take it in slowly – one song at a time – to fall in love. Once you do, however, I can pretty much guarantee they will haunt you forever. Elsie, their debut album, was my favourite album from 2011.

The Horrible Crowes: Behold The Hurricane

And that, my friends, is the end of our short musical tour of New Jersey. That is what you get for living in the shadow of New York City and having your name shamed by crass TV shows.

This article is (#17 of 366 X 2012 project)