Thursday, 23 April 2009

Five massive hits that almost weren't

I'm usually averse to these kinds of lists that seemingly take random information and try and bodge it into a nonsense list, but have an interesting tale on five massive songs that almost weren't.

It's worth a read just as the history of five random big hits, not THE five most massive almost non-hits, or whatever other sites try and drum down your throat.

I was interested most in the genesis of Michael Jackson's mega-hit "Billie Jean". The stories of him being bullied and humiliated by Quincy Jones are legendary, so to find that he was able to salvage a track that Jones was so vehemently opposed to AND make a mega hit out it is quite something.
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Image representing Last.fmImage via CrunchBase

This week did something that their fans were hoping they wouldn't do - they started charging people for streaming, outside of Germany, the US and the UK. Their reasoning is that they can make an ad-funded model work in these countries, but nowhere else.

Fans and users - and from the blog comments, it seems these numbers are dropping like a stone - outside of these three countries are forced to pay either £3.00, €3.00 or $3.00 per month to stream more than the "shareware" 30 tracks they're granted. Funnily enough, it looks like you can choose the currency - enabling people to opt for the weakest currency.

What's steamed everyone's beans, by the posts on the blog, isn't so much that they're charging, but the way they went about it. It was announced in a sort of "oh by the way, from this moment on we're charging". They alluded to the charges a while back, but many people hoped it was a passing fad.

With options - at least in the UK where we have Spotify - I've been using more and more for just their scrobbling feature, which enables me to track what I listen to, as opposed to using their streaming facility.

For some reason my top track is STILL "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise" by Duran Duran, and I've really been compelled over the last few years to top that.

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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Price war and access vs ownership

New variable pricing in iTunes, but *all* musi...Image by Lee Bennett via Flickr

With the announcement of variable pricing on iTunes, TechDigest ran a wonderful article on the whole idea of ownership in the new millenia.

The basic argument stems from the arrival of Spotify. If you have millions of tracks at your fingertips with instant access, why bother downloading - legally or illegally - mp3s?

The argument of mp3 vs CD has been raging for the last few years, with legal downloads quickly making some major headway, but it's interesting to read an article about the abandoning of purchase altogether.

I, for one, seem to spent more time than not on Spotify. True, they're missing a lot of material (mainly indie stuff and IDM stuff) and they're quite slow to fix bugs (there's a sequencing issue in a Tina Turner album I raised weeks ago that's unresolved), but it's still the best piece of software I've downloaded in ages and the best music listening experience I've had since I discovered burning MP3s to CD.

Will I continue to buy CDs? Occasionally. Will I continue to download illegal MP3s? Probably not. Will I continue to question access over ownership? Definitely.
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