Archive for the 'Music' Category

My Christmas playlist

Friday, December 10th, 2010

I made this for Mom and I to listen to last year on the way up to and back from my aunt and uncle’s house for Christmas. Now, I share it with you.

The order of the songs is deliberate. I ask that you listen to them in this order.

Some of these are iTunes links, some are Amazon links, and some are free songs and/or albums.

Title Artist
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (iTunes) Harry Connick, Jr.
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (Amazon) Frank Sinatra
Wizards In Winter (Instrumental) (Amazon) Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Deck The Halls (Amazon) Mannheim Steamroller
The Little Drummer Boy (iTunes) Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) Slow Club
Oh Come Emmanuel (Amazon) (free) Aliqua
Oh Holy Night (Amazon) Richie McDonald
Greensleeves (iTunes) Gary Hoey
The Night Before Christmas * The Smithereens
Must Be Santa (iTunes) Bob Dylan
Feliz Navidad (iTunes) José Feliciano
Jingle Bells (free, on the 2002 album) Adam Kempa
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (Amazon) Mannheim Steamroller
Silent Night (Amazon) House Of Heroes
Sleigh Ride (free, on the 2003 album) Adam Kempa
Christmas Canon (Amazon) Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Carol of the Bells (Amazon) The Bird And The Bee
O Come All Ye Faithful (iTunes) Amy Grant
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (free) Blue Skies for Black Hearts
The First Noel (iTunes) David Archuleta
God Rest (iTunes) Gary Hoey
Deck the Halls (Amazon) Mario Lanza;Henri René and His Orchestra
Twelve Days of Christmas (iTunes) Mexicani Marimba Band
Greensleeves (iTunes) Vince Guaraldi
O Holy Night (free, on the 2009 album) Blasé Splee
The Nutcracker, Op. 71, Act 2: Character Dances (Divertissement) – Dance of the Reed Pipes (iTunes) Kirov Orchestra & Valery Gergiev
We Three Kings (free) Blondie
Little Drummer Boy (free, on the 2005 album) Canada
Joy To The World (Amazon) Symphony Brass of Chicago
Silent Night (iTunes) Johnny Cash
Ave Maria (yes, ripped from YouTube—I’d buy it if I could) Barbara Bonney
This is the point at which the program properly ends, but it has four more tracks—
which we might call “bonus tracks”—to pad out the time to two hours.
The Little Baby Jesus (free, on the 2009 album) American Mars
El Bells (free, on the 2003 album) El Boxeo
Silent Night (free) Vandaveer
Countdown To Christmas (free) Glam Chops

The total time is 2 hours, 2 minutes, and 38 seconds.

* I actually got this one from eMusic as a free download, but it isn’t free anymore.

An iTunes imagine spot

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Nik Fletcher writes:

If you’re an iPhone developer, you’ve probably been using AppViz, AppFigures or AppSales Mobile to download an process your iTunes sales reports. Today, however, Apple have released a new app of their own: iTunes Connect Mobile (iTunes Store Link)..

Wouldn’t it be cool if they released a version of iTunes Connect that could upload music and movies as well as view app statistics?

Imagine, for example, a moviemaker recording a movie on their iPhone 4, editing it in iMovie on their iPhone 4, and uploading it to iTunes from their iPhone 4.

Even more free music statistics

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Some facts and figures:

  • I got tired of waiting for music-queue zero and added the SXSW 2010 music to my queue on April 9th.
  • My music queue before adding the music was 367 songs totaling 1 day, 4 hours, 17 minutes, 11 seconds (under 1.2 days).
  • The 1,038 songs from SXSW 2010 totaled 2 days, 18 hours, 13 minutes, 15 seconds (about 2.75 days—my prediction was 2.5 days).
  • My music queue after adding the music contained 1,405 songs totaling 3 days, 22 hours, 30 minutes, and 26 seconds (about 3.9 days) of music.
  • I finally started listening to the SXSW music on April 18th, 9 days after adding it. That is, it took me 9 days to listen to the 1.2 days of music that preceded the SXSW music in the queue.
  • I have just finished listening to the SXSW 2010 music, early in the morning on May 16th, a month and a week after adding it and 28 days after beginning to listen to it. That is, it took me 28 days to listen to the 2.75 days of SXSW music.
  • My music queue, now empty of SXSW songs, has 1,199 songs totaling 3 days, 14 hours, 39 minutes, and 30 seconds (about 3.5 days) of music remaining. This includes 34 full albums, not counting samplers.

Maybe I’m beating a dead horse at this point, but there’s a lot of free music out there.

Now in a permanent place: My sources of free music

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Having a succession of aging blog-post lists of sources is going to get old fast, so I’ve written down my current list of free-and-legal-music sources in a new permanent web page.

From now on, if you ever want to tell somebody just how much music is available for free, that’s the place to send them.

Bubble Trouble’s high-quality music

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Does this sound familiar to you?

That’s the full version of “Coconut Island” by Matt Swoboda. You may know it better as this shorter version, which is the version used as the alternate level-set-1 background music in the original Bubble Trouble.

Curiously, the Mac OS X version of Bubble Trouble omits that music, although it does include the four other music tracks as ‘snd ‘ resources. All five tracks originally came as MAD files; here’s an archive of the MAD files, rescued from the original Bubble Trouble’s Mac-OS-only installer, for your listening/converting pleasure.

Among the five tracks are two others by Swoboda, composed specifically for Bubble Trouble. The other two are by Yannis Brown. The full song list is:

  • Level set 1: “Bongalonga” by Brown
  • Level set 1 (alternate): “Coconut Island” (Bubble Trouble edit) by Swoboda
  • Level set 2: Composed specifically for Bubble Trouble by Swoboda
  • Level set 3: “Chunga-babe!” by Brown
  • Level set 4: Composed specifically for Bubble Trouble by Swoboda

You’ll need PlayerPRO to play or convert the MAD files; Vox, which I normally use to play and convert modules, does not support MAD. Also, you may find that PlayerPRO doesn’t work under Mac OS X; I used 5.10.0rc2, and it did nothing but crash when I tried to load a module file. (UPDATE: It’s mostly fixed in trunk@r110—no crash, but oversampling now distorts the audio.) I had to run 5.9.8 under SheepShaver (which is also how I installed the original Bubble Trouble, which is otherwise locked away in that Mac OS installer).


Free music round-up 2009

Friday, January 1st, 2010

At the end of March of last year, I predicted that I would download more than 11,000 free songs in that year.

The final tallies are in.

I downloaded and added 11,466 free songs within 2009. At the stroke of midnight, I was still catching up on my backlog of Chromewaves; once I’d finished, I had a total of 11,554 free songs that had been published in 2009.

Either way, I met my prediction: I downloaded and added more than 11,000 songs, approximately doubling-and-a-half my library from its size at the start of 2009, for free. (I did buy some music as well, easing my conscience.)

I’ve refined my stable of sources over the past year. Here’s my current list of subscriptions:

Naturally, I also download all of the free songs on iTunes and free songs on Amazon every Tuesday.

For those of you who’d like to follow these sources in your feed reader:

File: Music sources.opml.bz2 Music-sources.opml.bz2

An OPML file of all of the RSS feeds of these sources (except iTunes, Amazon, and Spinner). In Vienna, choose “Import Subscriptions” from the File menu.

UPDATE 2010-01-16: Added New Weird Australia to the list.

Beneficial incongruity

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Reflecting on this week’s release of Mercedes-Benz Mixed Tape #28, I momentarily couldn’t remember how I found out about the Mixed Tape. Then I remembered: It was featured on Jay is Games over a year ago.

A car company gives away free music, and I found out about it from a game review site.

I love the internet.

A portable, ever-growing music collection

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Here’s an idea I just had. No idea how you could monetize it, except perhaps by a subscription fee, but let’s not worry about that just yet.

It’s a combination of a file-storage service and music-streaming service. You would upload your own music so that you could listen to it from anywhere: Mac, Windows, maybe Linux OSs, maybe the iPhone. You can’t make your uploads public; you have to log in with client software or in a web browser. On a desktop machine, it could make like iTunes and play the local copies of music instead of streaming, especially if the network is down.

The service would uniquify songs*, so when you upload your copies of the songs, it will certainly associate the song with your account, but when you stream it, it may serve you someone else’s copy instead of the one you uploaded—higher bitrate wins, and more/better tags break ties. Not only would this help keep the storage costs down, but everybody who uses the service would basically get a free bitrate upgrade on a song any time someone uploaded a higher-bitrate version of it. (It would probably be a good idea for the service to keep one of every bitrate so that users can set a maximum.)

But here’s the real twist. Suppose that there were an alternate entrance through which musicians could upload their own music for everybody to have. If an artist or label wants to give away a song for free, they can flip a switch and everybody has the song. Of course, any listener can remove the song from their account if they don’t want it. Perhaps the artist (or their label) could see how many people have done that.

So imagine this. Starting from your desktop Mac, you upload all of your music to the service. Then, when you go on a trip, you bring your laptop and/or iPhone and can use one or both to listen to the music you uploaded. And, over time, your music collection grows with no effort from you as musicians post free songs for everybody.

What do you think?

*No, I have no idea how to do that. Title, artist, and album are not sufficient.


Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

In March 2007, Merlin Mann interviewed musician John Vanderslice. I’ve downloaded four of his songs since I started downloading lots of free music, and every time, I’ve remembered that I had first heard his name from that episode of The Merlin Show.

Just now, I went back and watched it again. At one point, they talked about MP3 blogs (Vanderslice used to run one), and Vanderslice mentioned one specifically: Largehearted Boy.

That discussion, and that specific mention, went right past me the first time I watched this interview. Now, more than two years later, Largehearted Boy is probably the single biggest contributor to my music library.

Amazing what you miss sometimes, isn’t it?

(Incidentally, Vanderslice has some free songs and albums available for download on his website.)

UPDATE 23:59: Don’t miss part 2. Even more interesting than the first part, especially looking back from 2009.

Free song follow-up

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

In the first three months of this year, I’ve downloaded 2927 free songs. That’s not including the recent label samplers from the Amazon MP3 Store, nor the thousand-song influx that is the SXSW 2009 torrents.

From this, I estimate that I will download over 11,000 songs in this year alone.

My library right now, including everything I’ve ever bought, is 10,626 songs. Subtracting the 2927 mentioned above, I have 7699 songs that I didn’t get this year, or didn’t get for free. This means that this year’s free music will have multiplied the size of my library by about 250%.

I say this not to brag, but because my mind is blown. I’m going to more than double my library this year, for free. Legally. Without pirating a single song.


There’s no reason for anyone to pirate music anymore. Music DRM is dead, so the “moral” argument is gone, and you can get as much music as you can listen to without having to spend one red cent. If you have a specific song in mind, you usually can buy it from iTunes or Amazon—and if you don’t have the money to do that, why are you pirating music instead of looking for a job?

I do worry that this could backfire on artists. I barely have enough time to listen to everything I get for free, so I never listen to the rest of the songs on the album, which means I never buy the album. If enough people did what I do, the music economy would collapse.

You might say “why not just donate money to the artists?”. The main reason is, again, my limited time. Getting, tagging, and listening to all this free music takes up more spare time than I’d like already; now you’re proposing that I spend more time just to spend some money. I don’t feel guilty enough.

Two other reasons are that I don’t like donating money in exchange for nothing (the song was free), nor paying for things I already have. I’d rather buy the album, because then, I’m buying something I don’t already have.

Radio Paradise works well here. I hear songs that I like and must buy to have, and I buy them. This way actually makes money for artists.

But Radio Paradise isn’t perfect. The main problem, yet again, is that time issue: I no longer have much time at my computer when I’m not listening to fresh free music, and when such time does arrive, I usually use it to listen to what I already have (a rare break from the endless stream of new stuff). Radio Paradise loses badly in my schedule.

I take comfort in the possibility that I’m an outlier: the only one actually gathering as many of these songs as I do, while everyone else is content to only tap a few sources (e.g., iTunes + Amazon) and make up the rest with purchases. The artists get their due compensation, and I get my free music.

Still, I can’t shake the feeling that there must be some better way.

Here’s something an artist could try: Set up a combination player and online store on your website. Let me listen to the entire album for free. Let me download any, say, two songs for free. If I want more than that, I have to pony up for the whole thing.

Another way would be something more like iTunes and Amazon, but with a much longer preview—let’s say half the song. I don’t know about you, but I find 30 seconds useless. With half-song previews, I could get a good sense of the song and whether I want it in my library, but it wouldn’t be worth just downloading the preview and adding that, since it’s only half the song.

The problem with both these solutions is that they, too, compete for time. I’m not sure I’d find it worth it for one artist. Perhaps a record label or independent online music store (like Insound) would be willing to try it.

The best solution I can think of would combine one of the above solutions with a streaming internet-radio player. I could open a browser window (or SSB) upon the player, and leave it running in the background. If I hear something I like, I could bookmark it, so that I could come back to it later to listen to it again, listen to the album (the whole thing, straight through), buy the song, buy the album, recommend the song on Twitter, or dismiss it.

What do you think? Am I inadvertently screwing over artists in these ideas? Should I stop looking the gift horses in the mouth and just take my free music? Are there better solutions than what I’ve suggested?

UPDATE 12:07 PDT: Just found this by random encounter: Amie Street, an experimental new music store. Its twist is that every song starts out “free or very cheap”, and goes up in price as more people buy it. Talk about demand-driven. I haven’t tried it, though—if any of you have, please speak up.

Sources of free music

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

By which I mean, sources that you can check periodically or subscribe to to receive a steady stream of free music.

For music podcasts, use a regular RSS reader (or a dedicated podcatcher, if you have one), not iTunes. I’ve had problems convincing iTunes to accept files into its Music library that I’d downloaded through its podcatcher.

These are some sites that I don’t personally subscribe to, but am aware of and occasionally benefit from indirectly (e.g., when Largehearted Boy posts a link to a Team Love track):

  • A site called RCRD LBL has a blog called RCRD SELECTOR, which provides a few free songs per day. The feed doesn’t use enclosure tags, which makes podcatching difficult, but I’m listing it anyway in case you’re OK with that.

  • You Ain’t No Picasso is primarily a music blog, although it has the occasional non-music-related post. Not every post has MP3s on it, but most do. Has a feed, but no enclosure tags. (Added 2008-12-17; thanks to Mike Krieger for linking to one of their posts on Twitter, and Colin for retweeting that link)

  • The Hype Machine aggregates a lot of MP3 blogs, including the aforementioned Stereogum. Has a feed, but no enclosure tags. (Added 2008-12-17; thanks to Colin for suggesting it on Twitter)

  • Team Love is a record label that gives away songs on their Library page. There’s no dedicated Library feed, so you’ll have to check back periodically (Tuesdays?).

    One thing you’ll notice is that the front page says in one paragraph that the Library is “open to the public 24/7”, and then in the next paragraph that you’ll need to open an account. There is some open-to-the-public access on the right side of the page (“Artists” and “Featured MP3s”); I don’t know what an account gets you.

    Added 2008-12-17. Thanks to Matt Morrell, who is a musician himself (with at least one song of his own available for free) and sent me the link on Twitter.

  • KRCW’s Today’s Top Tune podcast is another weekdaily rock-music podcast (with, of course, a a podcast feed). Note that not every episode is a song; for example, right now, the oldest of the three episodes in the feed is an interview with Tony Hawk. Note also that the song files have borked tags, with the artist in the title tag and the song title nowhere; you’ll have to fix these yourself.

    KCRW has other shows, but it looks like Today’s Top Tune is the only one you can stock your music library from. (Corrections welcome.)

    Thanks to Steven for linking to Today’s Top Tune in a comment.

If you know of other, similar sources, I invite you to link to them in the comments.

UPDATE 2009-03-26: Segregated sites I don’t subscribe to into their own list, and added Largehearted Boy, NME, and Spinner.
UPDATE 2009-04-06: Demoted KCRW to the sources-I-don’t-subscribe-to list. I get enough music from other sources now that I don’t care about it enough to deal with its broken tagging scheme.