On the road with Alabama 3

October 14, 2005

My favorite obscure band, Alabama 3 (known as “A3” in the US, for trademark reasons), is on tour… I came within an insane hair’s breadth of heading to London to go see them play the Astoria this week, but at the last minute, I couldn’t get it pulled together… Oh well…

In the meantime, the band’s drummer — “The Spirit” (Orlando Harrison) has shared his diary of existential angst on tour with one of the UK’s most popular live acts, and the best band you’ve never heard of…


I have slept, I’ve had a shower, I’ve had breakfast. I am a normal person. Yes I am.

It’s an easy gig. D Wayne has recovered from his psychotic episode, Rock has remembered how to play and it’s a fluffy crowd; they jump up and down and shout and scream just like they’re supposed to.

Later, on the bus, me, Ed and Davey pontificate with great articulation on the state of the music industry, then they draw faces on an apple and a tangerine and make them talk to me in funny voices. I love this business…

The rest of the article is here, and the highly unofficial fan forum is here.

How-To save iTunes music videos

September 26, 2005

Have you ever wanted to download one of the one of the iTunes Music Store videos and save it on your local machine? Now you can!

UNEASYsilence has a little script that will turn the iTMS link into a downloadable Quicktime video file that you can save locally.

You can find the script and instructions here.

Digital Rights Management Explained

September 1, 2005

I had a long conversation with a friend last week, explaining how “buying” music from iTunes Music Store basically wasn’t “buying” it at all…

The fact is that most people just don’t realize how little they actually get for their money when they purchase DRM’d music (or other materials.)

Fortunately, the EFF has just come out with a dandy little guide explaining in simple terms what you’re not getting for your money:

EFF: The Customer Is Always Wrong: A User’s Guide to DRM in Online Music

In other words, in this brave new world of “authorized music services,” law-abiding music fans often get less for their money than they did in the old world of CDs (or at least, the world before record companies started crippling CDs with DRM, too). Unfortunately, in an effort to attract customers, these music services try to obscure the restrictions they impose on you with clever marketing.

This guide “translates” the marketing messages by the major services, giving you the real deal rather than spin. Understanding how DRM and the DMCA pose a danger to your rights will help you to make fully informed purchasing decisions. Before buying DRM-crippled music from any service, you should consider the following examples and be sure to understand how the service might limit your ability to make lawful use of the music you purchase.

(via BoingBoing)

iTunes 4.9 with podcasts (sorta)

June 28, 2005

Apple has released iTunes 4.9.

Unless you’ve been in a hype-proof cave somewhere for the past two weeks, you probably won’t be suprised to learn that it does indeed come with podcast support.

Well, half-assed podcast support, anyway.

Apple offers a list of 3000 or so “blessed” podcasts via the iTunes Music Store, or you can add a podcast manually, if you can figure out the interface.

There is no support for doing some of the handy things a decent podcast client (like iPodderX) can do, like choose a playlist to automatically add a program to, convert it to AAC, or make it bookmarkable (the latter being exceedingly useful for spoken word podcasts.)

Even the stuff that is supported appears to be a bit wonky; it took me 3 times of shutting down and restarting iTunes 4.9 before clicking on the “Podcast Directory” button under Podcasts actually took me to the Podcast Directory, instead of the front page of iTMS.

Once I picked a Podcast and set it to download, it failed due to network issues — perhaps they weren’t ready for initial demand?

I assume they’ll get it all sorted out by and by, but in the meantime, I won’t be deleting my copy of iPodderX anytime soon.

Defending DRM?

June 25, 2005

Engadget has up an interesting editorial — “In Defense of DRM“.

An unpopular position, to be sure. Their point is that, were it not for DRM, we wouldn’t have options to buy individual tracks, nor would we see the current widespread growth of Internet radio.

If you can get past your visceral negative reaction, you’ll quickly see that DRM has actually brought consumers more advancements than restrictions. In truth, the hatred of DRM is a product of its own success; without the added options which DRM brings to the table there would be little to rebel against.

Sorry, but these arguments seem like bullsh*t to me.

Music by the track was happening with or without DRM. To be sure, it had only started with independent artists, and DRM encouraged all of the labels to play.

If that hadn’t happened, however, I don’t think we really know what would have happened. I think it’s quite likely we’d have seen an even bigger exodus of disgruntled artists from the major labels, selling their own downloads without DRM.

Likewise, the record labels worked overtime trying to kill the early independent streaming audio stations. If that hadn’t have happened, who knows that those early pioneers wouldn’t be the online music powerhouses instead of the DRM’d to death Windows Media stations and their ilk?

Woxy Waxes Vintage Alternative

May 31, 2005 has launched a new “Vintage Alternative” audio stream, featuring artists from the “history of alternative” music.

Welcome to WOXY Vintage, the first new 24/7 streaming channel from dedicated to the history of Modern Rock, Alternative and Punk music. You’ll hear nearly 30 years of adventurous, innovative and influential music from The Velvet Underground, The Clash, Talking Heads, The Smiths, Depeche Mode and much more. Consider it your Modern Rock primer.

Your choice of high and low bandwidth Windows Media, MP3 or AAC+ streams—I’ve been listening all afternoon, and it sounds great.

(via GearBits)

Yahoo Music Hack

May 30, 2005

No details yet, but Om Malik is reporting that Yahoo’s new Music Store has been hacked, and it’s apparently possible to download unlimited free music without any DRM.

Doubtless this hole will get plugged very soon.

Yahoo Music service can be hacked by anyone to download all the music they want. Robert Chapin figured out how to do it. In a public press release he says, the flaw was discovered by his company, Chapin Information Services.

DIY iTunes Movies & Video

May 22, 2005

If you’re tweaked about having videos in iTunes, but getting them from iTunes Music Store just isn’t enough for you, you might want to check out this tip for creating iTunes-viewable movies from certain sources.

Mac only, tho.

Xbox 360 – Media Center Details Emerge

May 17, 2005

More details seem to be emerging at E3 regarding the Xbox 360’s integration with Windows Media Center Edition 2005, as well as sharing content from non-MCE XP systems.

Windows IT Pro has an excellent run-down.

The Xbox 360 MCX will include the full Media Center user experience and not the stripped down version seen on today’s Extenders. That means you get the full fidelity of the Media Center experience, complete with animations, transitions during photos slideshows, and so on. For many users, the Xbox 360 MCX will even look nicer than the default UI on a Media Center PC, a first for any Extender.

If you don’t have an XP-based Media Center PC, Xbox 360 will use Windows Media Connect technology to interact with the digital media content on your XP-based PCs over your home network. This experience won’t be as rich as the Extender experience, but will instead use normal Xbox 360 menus via its “Access Music or Photos” interface. Additionally, you can use this interface to interact with CD audio or photo disks, music you’ve ripped directly to the Xbox 360 hard drive, music stored on attached MP3 players, or photos stored on attached digital cameras.

One of the more surprising details seems to be native support for the PSP and iPod — you’ll be able to access music, photos and video (in the case of the PSP) by plugging the device into a USB port on the Xbox.

Interesting that it has all of this, and they’ve still been dithering over whether to offer support for last-generation Xbox games. It’s almost like more thought has been put into what drives demand for video and music users than what gamers want…


(via Digital Media Thoughts)

Removing iTunes DRM with JHymn

May 17, 2005

Assuming you don’t live somewhere with laws like the DMCA, you might wish to drop by The Unofficial Apple Weblog, where they have posted a three-step process for using JHymn remove the FairPlay protection from your iTunes Music Store purchases.

Just in order for you to exercise your fair-use rights without constraint, of course.

As always, don’t do anything that may be illegal in your country, and don’t steal music…

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