Category Archives: Technology

Netflix is Taking Over the World

 

netflix-logoBy Jessica Samson

For the past couple months, my life has been consumed with great television, all thanks to Netflix.   I know I’m not the only one spoiled by on-demand streaming. Netflix has changed the way we watch television. It has created binge-watching.  a marathon of endless programming.  With instant streaming, you can catch the plot in the middle of a show or start new shows, anytime you want.

Personally, Netflix has changed my life. Not just in viewing habits or lack of social interactions, but it has started a new habit in my daily life. I find myself becoming more of a homebody, spending more time watching and discussing their high quality programming.

Just recently, I was with my family and without hesitation our conversation gravitated to the topic of television. Instantly, Netflix’s programming became the most important piece of our conversation. Comments like…”did you catch this show?”…to… “what do you think about “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black?” made up the conversation.

Netflix is changing our world. It’s instant gratification, no longer do we have to wait for the next installment of our favorite shows. It’s easy to come home from a long day and plop right down and turn on Mad Men.

Netflix’s programming provides a sense of fantasy that one can escape to whenever you want. It’s easy access to entertainment. Netflix updates new content about every month, in with the new and out with the old.  http://whats-on-netflix.com/ allows viewers to see the new additions to Netflix. It’s all just another way to add to the binge watching experience.

By the way here the ultimate dream job at Netflix:   http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-netflix-hiring-serial-watcher-20140709,0,394390.story

Tune into Jessica Samson WCRX 88.1 FM, Tuesday Midday 11a-3p.

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When YouTube Covers Go Right

It’s the oldest tale in rock and roll: a person gets a guitar for their birthday, perhaps a Christmas present, or maybe their dad saw them eyeing one as they walked past a local music shop. That first instrument is a special purchase. The wannabe musician wants to learn how to play so they start pecking away at notes and chords, and usually head out to the garage with a few friends to play some covers from bands that perhaps started out the same way. After practicing an old Oasis or Neil Young song 100 times over, the newly appointed musician is now ready to take that next step and share it with the world on a platform that makes even the worst of musicians visible: YouTube.

We've all seen the terrible "bedroom" cover song renditions that make you cringe.
We’ve all seen the terrible “bedroom” cover song renditions that make you cringe.

How many times have you searched for a song on YouTube and seen bad covers by earnest-looking kids that make you want to jab number two pencils into your eardrums? I know I have clicked on more than my fair share of tone deaf wannabe musicians’ videos who would have been better served by thinking twice before clicking the “Upload” button. Hey, this is the Internet after all though you’re certainly free to put whatever you want up on media sharing websites however, more often than not, these renditions of one of your favorite original songs are inadequate at best.

Sometimes a pleasant surprise does happen.   The covers don’t suck! Sometimes the person has a really clever or unique take on a song or even better a voice that actually does the song justice. It’s becoming common  for new artists to get discovered via YouTube and while you may have to sift through some particularly horrendous versions of Velvet Underground songs, good cover songs really do exist!

So the next time you’re bored laying on the couch around the house, pick up the old laptop and see how many clicks it takes before you find someone who makes you sit back and say “hey, that was actually a pretty good version of that song.” To speed up the process , check out a few good videos of covers right here in this post.

Brendan Taylor hosts the indie alternative rock show, Indie Cuts, every Monday evening from 9-11 pm on WCRX 88.1 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @Btayradio

 

 

SXSW debuts Music Hackathon

imagesThe South by Southwest interactive, film and music festival in Austin, Texas hosted its first annual Music Hackathon, where “world-class hackers and designers will have 24 hours to create new tech innovations in the music space for artists, industry and fans.”

For those who aren’t familiar, hackathons are events where programmers, designers, developers and creative types from all walks of life come together to create an innovative product in, usually, a 24-hour period. Sleeping is slightly frowned upon and those participating almost survive entirely on pizza and caffeine. It’s a hybrid of creative ingenuity and a a high school sleep over where everyone’s drinking Surge.

Dozens of teams participated in Austin, Texas last week, and a full list of the projects created can be found online. The winner, a project titled Moot and only described as a “looper application that you can loop over and add in artist tracks and more,” received a $10,000 prize.

The hacks from the SXSW event range anywhere from playlist creation apps to personal music mixers and social media platforms. Seriously, give this list a quick glance and see everything that was made.

Hackathons are normally events for anyone interested, and being an “expert” isn’t necessary, and SXSW’s first music hackathon differed in this area slightly—participants included “invited winners of previous worldwide music hackathons, experts from cutting-edge music tech companies, and hackers from the public at large.”

The inaugural music hackathon is the beginning of a desirable future: Music, both as a business and passion, working with technology to better advance the industry for everyone, at every end of the spectrum

The music and technology industries have a complicated relationship. Even before the age of Napster, Spotify and torrents, there has always been contention over music distribution, ownership, royalties and digitization. The switch from vinyl to digital music, at least in terms of distributing music to the masses, sparked the controversy of whom owns what, and the legality of reproducing music on one’s own. Basically we’ve all burned a CD and, at the very least, torrented one full discography.

Aside from Thom Yorke’s outspoken hatred for Spotify, the music/technology relationship seems to be doing better. And the SXSW music hackathon is additional proof that music executives are turning to developers and programmers to continue moving the industry forward.  Justin Timberlake—a triple threat actor, singer and entrepreneur—took the struggling Myspace under his wing to redesign the entire site as a social media platform for musicians, performers, designers, etc. The overall look of the Myspace redesign was impressive, and even though the site has yet to catch up to social media giants Facebook and Twitter, Timberlake’s actions prove there’s a future in technology for music we haven’t explored yet.

And he’s not the only big name getting into the technology game.

Neil Young recently funded Pono Music through Kickstarter—in about a day, actually, totaling about $2 million in two days—with the goal to redefine how we experience music in our headphones. Pono, a triangular prism-shaped device, allows listeners to hear a higher resolution sound that is roughly the equivalent of the live, studio master recording.

You’ll need to buy top-notch headphones, though, and the device is retailed at $399.

I don’t think we’re all going to be sending each other songs through our Myspace accounts while developing personalized software and gadgets to enhance our listening experience. A lot of us would have a decent amount of coding and software development to learn. The next generation, though? Most definitely.

It seems the era where the Internet was believed to have ruined the music industry forever is coming to end, and a new era of encouraging new innovation from developers, musicians and executives alike has arrived. Now, more than ever, the individual consumer can be be involved in the development of the next Spotify, Pandora or Garageband application.

You have to wonder what’s next, and more importantly, are you going to be the one to create it?