Lovin’ The Amazon MP3 Store: Deals, Tweets, and User Feedback

Want to get some really good deals on music? Make sure you follow AmazonMP3 on Twitter.

If you’re a music lover then you don’t want to miss Amazon’s Daily Deals. It’s a great way to discover and purchase music with a low risk. At prices as low as 99¢ an album you’re likely to buy stuff you might not even like that much. That’s how much I got Steely Dan’s Aja for.

What kinds of albums have been in the daily deal? These:

  • Soundgarden – Superunknown
  • Death Cab For Cutie – We Have The Facts and We’re Voting Yes
  • Radiohead – OK Computer
  • Beirut – Gulag Orkestar
  • Brian Wilson – Smile

There’s plenty more. Amazon picks albums for the daily deal based on their Facebook group.

Amazon’s MP3 store has also given me another reason to look forward to the weekend. On Fridays they have the Friday 5 – 5 albums for $5 each. It’s a great opportunity to pick up albums at a discount.

Lovin’ The Amazon MP3 Store: Passive-Aggressive DRM

Suing Me

Besides saving a dollar here and there using Amazon’s MP3 store, the main reason I like Amazon over iTunes is its use of what I call passive-aggressive DRM.

Passive-Aggressive DRM is the way Apple keeps you from sharing music you’ve purchased from the iTunes store. It doesn’t have any digital lock, anybody can play it without a problem, but what turns me off from it is this one tiny bit of information that can be used to personally identify you, the account used to purchase the music, and, if need be, used to bring in the law to enforce the EULA that you agree to adhere to everytime you buy from iTunes.

Your email address is in every file you purchase from the iTunes Store. That’s the passive-aggressive DRM.

When iTunes Plus first arrived, the email address in the metadata was noted – but many, including Daring Fireball, brushed it off, stating that Apple gave us exactly what we asked for; DRM-Free music.

This doesn’t bother me because I plan on breaking my agreement with iTunes. I’m not worried about what Apple would do – I’m worried what organizations like the RIAA could do.

If your music folder is wide open and somebody grabs your iTunes purchased music, shares it with their buddies, who share it with more buddies, and in a week it’s on P2P networks, who do you think the RIAA is going to pursue and who do you think will find themselves in the middle of a legal nightmare? You – all because you left a window in your house unlocked either intentionally or unintentionally.

A little extreme? Maybe. Possible? Absolutely.

Amazon may watermark their MP3s to show that they were the ones who sold it, but I haven’t seen anything in their files that personally identify you as the purchaser. For iTunes, this is such a con for me that if it weren’t for this one thing I’d choose iTunes over Amazon almost everytime, except in very specific instances…

The iTunes “Last Chance” Playlist

If you’ve read the iTunes Zero article you’ll know that I’m very meticulous about everything in my iTunes library – and chances are you probably do the same things.

One of the other problems you may be facing is that there’s SO MUCH STUFF in your iTunes library. How do you handle it all?

Here’s what works for me – the “Last Chance” Playlist.

The Process

Here’s the method I use when I add new music to iTunes and homogenize it into the library:

  1. Everything new goes into a static Process playlist. It’s a holding cell for me to verify the metadata before I’m comfortable unleashing it into the wild. Consider it the GTD inbox for iTunes.
  2. Music that hasn’t been listened to shows up in the Playcount = 0 smart playlist.
  3. 3 months after that first listen, music shows up again in the Only 1 Listen playlist. This is my opportunity to make sure that the assigned rating is what I want it be, because after that it’s banished into the iTunes abyss, until the special day when it arrives in the…
  4. Last Chance playlist.

You’re Up For Review, Tune

Why do this?

The purpose of the Last Chance playlist is to listen to tracks in shuffle mode, out of context, in order to rate each track on its own. Let’s take a look at its properties.

lastchanceplaylist.gif

The Last Chance smart playlist is the last hurrah of a misfit song. If after two years I still don’t like the song enough to give it a 4-star or higher rating, in it goes to the huge library, likely to be skipped over and ignored for the rest of eternity.

But, there’s the chance that after 2 years I’ll suddenly realize the genius in a song, and grant it a 4-star or higher rating and save it from the 82 gig (as of this writing) Rancor pit.

Rancor

And with a 4-star or higher rating, the track enters regular rotation in smart playlists that rely on ratings.

This works for me for the following reasons:

  1. Anything I’ve already rated on the extremes (2 stars or less, or 4 stars or more) doesn’t really change for me – but I’ve still got my eye on those 4-star rated tracks.
  2. 3 listens should be enough for me to know if I like a song or not.
  3. 2 years (or 1 year) is far enough out for a song to be removed from the popular culture of the time to realize I like a song because it’s a good song, and not because it’s in a car insurance commercial or something.

This is what works for me. Storage is cheap these days, so if you set up a system with this and other smart playlists you can keep only the good stuff on your iPod and regular playlist (or Party Shuffle sources) and not have to delete anything based on the idea that you might like it years from now.

Classic Synth Sound Design: Abacab

Since finishing my read-through of the Logic 8 instruments and effects manual I’ve thought the best way to learn some sound design was not to create something new, but to replicate the sound of something that already exists.

I have a few classic synth lines I want to try to redo in Logic (or Reason 4) and today we’ll start with something simple: the synth in Genesis’s Abacab.

I’m not sure what synthesizer was used on the track, but part of replicating the sound is to really think about what you hear when it plays. Here’s what I hear:

  • Monophonic synth
  • 2 Oscillators
  • Both of them Sawtooth waves
  • One pitched a Perfect 5th above the other

This is very easy to make in Logic’s ES2 software synth.

Continue reading “Classic Synth Sound Design: Abacab”

3 Versions of Maneasy Lover – SHOWDOWN

collins_04.jpg

Alright, so maybe I wasn’t the first to do it, but I definitely had this idea over a year ago.

Back then there were no versions of Maneasy Lover, but if you do some Googling you’ll find at least 2 others that have come out since last summer.

Maneasy Lover – Subtonic

My version does not have a video.

Easy Maneater – Victor Menegaux

No Specific Name – No Specific Person

Nice flange all over the place.

Which one do you like best? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and don’t be afraid to be honest and hurt my feelings.

Maneasy Lover – Phil Collins Vs. Nelly Furtado

For a while I’ve been wanting to hear this mashup. I talked about it over a year ago.

So, since nobody did it I decided to do it myself.

It’s Nelly Furtado’s Maneater vs. Phil Collins Easy Lover. Stir them together, you get Maneasy Lover.

maneasyloverartwork.jpg

Direct download: Maneasy Lover

Maneating Easy Lover

Today was the first time I heard something from Nelly Furtado‘s latest album “Loose.” No, I haven’t been living under a rock. I’m not even really into Nelly Furtado, so I can’t weigh in on if she sold out with this latest album. I do know that I like what I’ve heard from Loose more than what I’ve heard from her other albums. All I’ve heard was Maneater.

And it’s pretty catchy! It’s got a nice, addictive hook. I really like it.

It’s got an influence I can’t really grasp. Maybe she listens to alot of 80s PHIL COLLINS!?

Maneating Easy Lover

Maybe a cheap shot on my part. A lot of songs probably sound like that.

Dammit, Phil Collins!

For the past week I’ve been driving into work with the song Easy Lover on repeat.

I suppose that when addicts get out of rehab they may be tempted by a drug once in a while but resist the temptation. Yet sometimes they relapse after one event or experience reminds them of their euphoria.

The marketing campaign for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is what made me relapse. The commercials use Easy Lover for the background music, and apparently the protagonist is a big Phil Collins fan.

Scott once asked me, “Dan, how can you like Phil Collins?” He had been browsing through my iTunes library at the time, which contained …But Seriously. “I just don’t understand.”

My dad’s always been a pretty big Genesis fan, so he naturally followed Phil Collins’s solo efforts throughout the 80s. I was growing up during that decade, so the seed was planted.

In today’s recorded music industry, pop stars have to be sexy and attractive before any record label will even judge their music. But then there’s people like Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel; odd looking guys, one of which always had his face on his album covers and reminds me of the Kipper Kids, and they’re staples of 1980’s music culture.

Maybe they were doing something right.

We all grew up on what we would now consider to be crappy music. Over time we grew our own music tastes, or latched on to what we perceived to be hip.

The music that your parents listen to today – you would’ve probably loved it when you were a kid. Almost everybody was raised on lame music, including your folks. To deny yourself the guilty pleasure of listening to that lame music once in a while is akin to trying to forget anything you found pleasurable when you were a kid, no matter how uncool it is. I’m not saying it’s ok to eat paste again.

Plus, Easy Lover is just a very well crafted pop song. Besides, maybe GTA: Vice City is making it trendy to listen to this stuff again, too.