On Rdio 3.0

Ben Sisario for The New York Times, on Rdio’s new update, including a move to the “freemium” model:

“What we’ve learned collectively over the last few years,” said Anthony Bay, Rdio’s chief executive, “is that the most successful models are freemium models.”


Rdio’s new design, which fills a user’s screen with readymade playlists based on their tastes, draws heavily on the Internet radio format, which was popularized by Pandora and has become an increasingly important as digital outlets try to figure out how people prefer to listen to music online. The radio giant Clear Channel has made an aggressive push for its online radio platform, iHeartRadio. Recently Rhapsody introduced unRadio, a music service that is free for T-Mobile customers, and Google bought Songza, an online playlist service.


On ‘The History of the Walkman’

Carl Frazen for The Verge, on 35 years of Sony’s iconic music player:

The first of Sony’s iconic portable cassette tape players went on sale on this day, July 1st, back in 1979 for $150. As the story goes, Sony co-founder Masaru Ibuka got the wheels turning months before when he asked for a way to listen to opera that was more portable than Sony’s existing TC-D5 cassette players. The charge fell to Sony designer Norio Ohga, who built a prototype out of Sony’s Pressman cassette recorder in time for Ibuka’s next flight.


Linkin Park Song ‘Hands Held High’ in ASL

As someone who loves Linkin Park and is fluent in sign language, I find this awesome:

The song is from the band’s 2007 album, Minutes to Midnight.

(via @mikeshinoda)

Yet Another Reminder That Time Flies

Jessica Catcher, writing for Mashable, lists “20 Songs Turning 20 in 2014″:

To ring in 2014, we remember what an awesome year 1994 was for music. Back before Snoop Dragon and when the idea of Green Day creating a Broadway musical seemed absurd, Snoop Doggy Dogg and the “Basket Case” band were just getting their start on the airwaves.

I remember every song on the list, particularly “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men. In 1994, I was starting junior high, and Boyz II Men was my favorite group back then. I used to listen to them on my Walkman — yes, Walkman — all the time, singing along quite horribly. Ah, memories!

How I Learned to Love Subscription-Based Music

This article first appeared in Issue 16 of The Loop Magazine.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved listening to music — without a doubt, it is my favorite leisure activity. Music is a part of everyday life for me; rare is the day that I don’t listen to something, even if it’s just one song. I listen to it while I write. I listen to it while I walk around town. I listen to it on the bus. I listen to it therapeutically, as I find music is a great stress reliever during times when I’m angry or otherwise upset. (Case in point: I very recently lost a close family member, and have found that Eminem’s new album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, has really helped me channel my emotions during these still-very-trying times.) All of this to say that I love music, so much so that I can’t imagine my life without it.


Jay Z Albums Ranked By Jay Z

In celebration of his birthday, the rap legend ranked his albums, best to worst:

Jay Z albums

In case the sides of those jewel cases are hard to make out, here’s the list:

  1. Reasonable Doubt
  2. The Blueprint
  3. The Black Album
  4. Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life
  5. American Gangster
  6. Magna Carta Holy Grail
  7. Vol. 1…In My Lifetime
  8. The Blueprint 3
  9. The Dynasty: Roc La Familia
  10. Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter
  11. The Blueprint 2
  12. Kingdom Come

Of Jay’s twelve albums, my favorites are The Black Album and The Blueprint 3.


Rdio’s Bad News

Ingrid Lunden for TechCrunch, on the company’s recent lay-offs:

[S]ome bad news from competitor Rdio, the music streaming service startup from Skype co-founder Janus Friis. The company has confirmed to TechCrunch that is is making “across-the-board workforce reductions today to improve its cost structure and ensure a scalable business model for the long-term.”

The company did not offer any further specifics on the layoffs. One person who first alerted us to them alleges that they affect 35 people, some 20% of the workforce, with significant cuts in engineering. Indeed, at least two people affected by the layoffs are both engineers that focus on mobile and web apps, according to notes posted on Twitter.


On Eminem, Rick Rubin, and MMLP2

David Drake, writing for Complex:

Eminem’s appeal, over the years, seems to have been hammered into a shape that is defined by his “skill,” the detailed, OCD focus on the perfection of his wordplay and intricacy. But there are reasons to suspect—or, at the very least, hope—that Rubin’s influence will be more than letting Eminem exercise his prodigal complexity over the ’80s hip-hop beats.


‘Backstreet’s Back, All Right’

My friend Karen Datangel, in a profile of the Backstreet Boys for The Hudsucker:

In the mid to late 90s to early 2000s, one could not avoid the images of these guys’ transformations into iconic monsters and leading a group in a flash mob-type setting before the term flash mob was even invented in the “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” music video, or hearing the ultra-catchy and sweet pop hooks of “I Want It That Way” on the radio. Their record sales were off the charts, their concerts sold out in minutes, and they always made the talk show and variety show rounds—and their music videos were always in the rotation back when MTV actually played music videos.



In terms of my music-listening habits, I find that I’m much more of an album guy. That is, I find myself preferring to invest in entire albums rather than listening to singles on iTunes Rdio. Moreover, I’ve always been the type of listener who listens to one or two albums over and over, as if on a binge. I’ll listen to these few albums until I inevitably get sick of them, but the illness is always temporary. I know that, eventually, I’ll come back to these albums whenever the mood strikes again.