Posts Tagged ‘iTunes’

Death (of) Stars

November 30, 2016


Twofold purpose to this post.  First, this week there was an article on The Ringer today lamenting the current and pending future state of the star rating system in iTunes.  I join Clair McNear as one of the “dozens” of music nerds that uses iTunes’ five star system to rate each of your songs in your iTunes library.  The entire reason this blog exists is because I decided I wanted to write about songs I had rated 5 stars in my library.

Well, if you hadn’t noticed, in the iOS 10 release you can no longer see or assign stars to songs.  You can like or dislike a song.  This is something I probably should have been seeing and agree with McNear’s thoughts that this is a continuation of efforts to move people to Apple Music.  It’s binary nature makes it nice as a tool to feed more data to music matching algorithms, but it certainly is not useful in any meaningful way to those who want to easily visual their thoughts on particular songs, albums or artists.  I’m not an engineer or software designer, but it seems like Apple certainly could have incorporated the star system into its algorithms.  My only guess is that 2 choices is either to program than 5?

The silver lining in McNear’s article was a comment indicating that the star ratings were coming back to iOS in the next release, though it would be an option that would have to be turned on.  Hope that is the case!

The second reason for this post is that we recently had two more musician deaths.  One, Leonard Cohen died at the age of 82, having put out music as recently as last month and a career spanning six decades.  That’s an impressive career.  I’ll admit I’m not really qualified to say much about his music, he’s just a musician that got missed by me over the years.  To the extent that I have listened to him, I’ve almost always liked it even though it often seems to be more on the melancholy side.

The second recent death is Sharon Jones. This was hits a little harder for me. Since first seeing them in an early afternoon slot on a side stage at VirginFest in 2008(?), I have been telling people to check out both her albums and live shows. After going to enough shows you can usually tell when an act has got that ephemeral “it” and she and her band, the Dap Kings, owned the stage that day and had everyone dancing. I saw her at a NYE concert at the 930 Club which was a blast and once in LA after she had seemingly beaten the cancer she was fighting.

Like her label mate Charles Bradley, she has a irrepressible energy and a genuine appreciation for her fans that you can feel when you saw her live. She had the pipes to go with it, and a tight band that matched her energy.  I have all of her albums except 2005’s Naturally, and here are her songs I rate 5 stars if you want to start to dig into her music or get a nice playlist of some of solid soul/funk songs:

  • I Learned The Hard Way from I Learned The Hard Way
  • Money from I Learned The Hard Way (I’ve written about this song before)
  • I’ll Still be True from I Learned The Hard Way
  • Got A Thing On My Mind from Dap-Dippin’ With…
  • Pick It Up, Lay It In The Cut from Dap-Dippin’ With…
  • Now I See from Give The People What They Want
  • 100 Days, 100 Nights from 100 Days, 100 Nights
  • How Long Do I Have To Wait from Daptone 7 Inch Singles Collection, Vol. 2 (an instrumental but too damn good to ignore)

It will certainly be a bummer not to see “Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings” come up on a list of local shows and get excited.  But, I’ll have a lot of good memories and good music to remember her by.

A few music-related articles

March 8, 2012

Ran across a few music-related pieces on the web the past few days I thought were worth passing along.

First, an article from NPR about iTunes new “mastered for iTunes” concept. It gives a quick overview of the mastering process (basically removing information from the recording for a given delivery mechanism, like a cd or a mp3.) and a good description of what the differences are between lossless and lossy audio formats. It also delves into whether Apple is responding to the current drive of music delivery (streaming services) by continuing to push development in lossy formats rather than working on lossless formats.

One artist quoted in the article who doesn’t appear to be a fan of iTunes’ approach is John Vanderslice. And speaking of him, he has a fascinating blog series going where he is basically giving you a very detailed blow-by-blow of the recording process of his new album. Here’s a link to his site, the latest entry is December 7th. I don’t know a lot of what he’s talking about but it makes me want to learn more and it is interesting to hear how he makes decisions on what instruments, filters, etc to use. I will also be interested to compare the final versions to these sketches.

Last, a quick piece from Consumerist about how music sales rose by 4% last year. These numbers include both CDs and digital sales. Given the economy, this is a good thing for the music industry. As I’ve posited before, I’d like to think that the continued proliferation of streaming music services I mentioned above are playing some role in his recovery. In my mind, these services are more and more replacing radio as the medium to discover a song that you want to go out and buy. iTunes’ 30 second previews never were going to cut it and especially don’t now when you can go to Spotify or Rdio and hear a whole song and the rest of the album that go with that song.

And I’ll leave you with some nice relaxing bmore indie pop: