Live365 suffers a collision of misfortunes, lays off most employees and vacates office
Today, I decided to login to my free Live365 listener mobile app, when I kept getting “incorrect login and password” messages. I then decided to go to the live365 website to reset my password, and saw a large message that I interpreted to be very vague. I tried to escape out of the message but could not. It looks like Live365 has shut down January 31, 2016! Why? Upon further research, the Copyright Royalty Board recently released their new rates for webcasters. Unfortunately, the new rates are significantly more than Live365 could afford (what most webcasters could afford). Long story short, Live365 had to make a decision to either raise their already high membership fees to cover the royalty cost, or shut down. It would have cost a web DJ about $40+ a month (lowest package), for a maximum of about 2 hours worth of music uploaded at a time; and a maximum of 10 listeners at a time. According to the following article from “Rain News,” they have chosen to focus more on other business ventures they currently have. I think it’s good to note that streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, etc, have not been effected much, because they are under a different category; I believe it’s called “non-interactive.” However, I think these new rates for webcasters have inadvertently devastated our ability to listen to a broader selection of music, by real people and real fans. You may not see it now, but at least for us older folks, we can clearly hear the difference between music played on the radio that was hand selected by a human fan; and the kinds of music played that was mathematically selected by a computer. As far as I’m concerned a significant chunk of our music history & culture has been lost as of last month; it is because of sites like Live365 that we were able to hear music we no longer hear; it is because of Live365 that we heard music that other services don’t have a licenses for. Live365 was the only station that I could think of, where you could listen to the rarest of music not played anywhere. Not even 8Tracks have the music that Live365 had. There are some things within the human experience that a computer chip cannot replace.
It is interesting, as much as I used to complain that not enough older folks are using streaming technology, a significant amount of seasoned folks were using and DJing with Live365. Only amateur DJs with a certain level of experience could play the kinds of music we heard there. That’s just a fact, whether you’d acknowledge it or not. This really saddened me. Live365 was an extremely unique service, that allowed real fans to share their personal music they already own, with other fans (especially when it came to classic music). Many of the stations played music you’d never hear from any Genome selected music playlist. I will truly miss them. However, again this speaks to the larger existing problem of the music industry. The music industry is trying to price music streaming in the same way they used to sell albums. If this continues, the only business that will be able to afford these licenses, will be the larger mainstream stations like Z100, etc. I really think that the answer here is YouTube. YouTube needs to be structured more like a traditional streaming music service; but unfortunately, I’m beginning to realize that it appears that the music industry is using YouTube more as a promotional tool, and the smaller webcasters/internet radio are being used to off set royalties. Well, the decision holds till about 5 years; and I don’t think that much change will happen till then.
I’ve found two more reasons to add, to the already existing pile of reasons why apple is on my poop list! Now, I kindly ask that my small and faithful blog fans not be upset for this post. Once again, I think Apple makes phenomenal products, so it’s not that I think Apple devices are crap. All their products works damn near flawless! For goodness sake, I’ve owned 3 iPod classics (which all still work); and I still currently use iTunes software because I still think it’s the best music management software for DRM free/mp3 files they have on the market today! My HUGE gripe with Apple, is their quest to hold customers hostage! They hold their customers hostage indirectly with the music content, and the apps. No one can honestly say that they will be using one app, or one type of phone for the rest of their life. I have the right as a consumer (who spent a LOT of money on Apple music and movies), to have the ability/license to switch technologies at will, and not be concerned with all the money I spent before a new technology. Keep in mind, this is one of the huge advantages Android OS has over Apple; Android doesn’t have such a strong choke hold that it doesn’t allow innovation from the outside. Android is open source, and You’ll find many devices and technology that are now using Android OS; they’re not limited to just Samsung smartphones. Including but not limited to video steaming devices [NVIDIA Shield Android TV and other devices], and watches [ASUS ZenWatch and other watch brands]. Even vehicles are using Android Auto. This is one of the huge reason I keep pounding on my readers heads to ALWAYS purchase DRM free mp3 files ONLY!! DRM free files are sold through Amazon, and GooglePlay (both have significant collections of music). If you want to be limited by Apple, that’s your problem. I’ll always be looking for other technologies where I can benefit, or improve the way I do things.
Today, I tried to open up an Apple link that was posted on Facebook. The web page opened, however, much to my surprise, I could not play the music at all. In fact, the play button wasn’t even visible. I thought I needed an upgrade, but my software was current. So I decided rather trying to find the play button, I clicked on the “view/play in iTunes” link. The user that posted the link was a subscriber to their new Apple streaming. I have to be a member of Apple streaming to hear the music. WTF???????? WTF?????? LOLOLOL 😀 I should have gotten at least a 30 second preview. It is standard practice to give previews on all digital products offered for sale. However, they only offer samples on their “pay per download.” In my opinion, that was a really bad move on Apple’s part; non-users should have samples, because samples is what’s needed to make a decision to buy or tryout a service. They need to disable their share features if they insist on doing that; it may be that they don’t want to pay the labels for free samples. Just my humble opinion. The last insult to injury, they took away Apple radio too. Apple radio is now only available to Apple Music subscribers. AHHHHHHHHHHHH. But continued to make their curated radio streams available (for free of course). However, the curated list of stations are very sloppy; meaning you’ll find many duplicates stations; sometimes up to 4 duplicates. Many stations don’t even belong there, such as feeds from Live365. You need to be a subscriber of Live365, because they have a limit of 10 listeners at a time per station. You’ll be forced to use the Live365 software and search for the station you want and play it. I have to say, a lot of the music on their curated stations are not that great either. You’ll do better finding your own radio streams on the internet, and copying the URL in your favorite radio feed software. It’s obvious they are focusing hard on their subscription services. Even the availability of diverse podcasts sucks. Just food for thought guys.
US vinyl market worth more than YouTube, Vevo and Spotify Free combined
The article this quote comes from doesn’t have a date; however, judging from the URL, it was posted on September 24th of last year. Despite the name of the website is called “Fact Magazine,” I call bullshit. You have to be so careful when you read these websites that through these numbers all over the place, because many of them don’t take in to consideration other factors. First of all, Spotify isn’t making any money; which explains why they’ve never made significant improvements to their desktop and mobile applications; and also reasons why many music labels and major online music stores such as iTunes has put so much pressure to limit their free services. I can’t find any proof that YouTube is paying royalties for all of the music videos; but then again I realize I won’t find any proof because YouTube/Google can’t make such a statement; simply because (as I’ve said before) there’s absolutely no way to account for which royalties are being paid to the actual music labels, and which videos are monitored by YouTube users. Vevo is just a smaller version of YouTube. I don’t understand why this blogger is comparing stats between these three online services, and weighing it against album sales. It’s not even in the same ball park! Second, Record labels are not producing vinyls at the same rate they used to before CD technology. That means that a significant portion of the total vinyl sales (in my opinion) must be coming from collector albums that are in mint condition. Collector albums that are higher in price, for a specific elite group of faithful vinyl fans. I hate when bloggers skew numbers to sway people in to believing something that’s not entirely true. Here is the article if you’d like to read it here.
Before I forget, I just wanted to write something quick about the differences between the 3 major video streaming services. They are, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. I’m not going to tell you which one is the best, because they are all 3 are good, they just offer different things. This really is about personal taste, and the kinds of movies you like. All 3 services offer free trials, I highly suggest that you sign up for them, because it’s the only way you’ll know what’s best for YOU. All three are inexpensive. Keep in mind that none of them will offer any “new” movies younger than about 6 months old (sometimes longer depending on how popular it is in the theater, and licensing). They all have “original TV programming,” and some of these original programs have some big names in the movie business. Depending on the device you’re using to stream your video, you’re going to have different features available. For example, You’re not going to have the same options on your Roku box, they way you would on your computer. The same is true between boxes; so a Roku interface is going to be different from a Sony PlayStation, or Smart TV, etc.
If I’m not mistaken, their movie streaming service only comes as a package with Amazon’s Prime. Like all the other services, you can watch either on your computer, phone, tablet, or Roku box, or any streaming enabled box. However, be forewarned, I purchased a couple of digital movies from them, and they do not display on my computer or phone in high-definition. It they only display in HD if I use my Roku (keep that in mind). Amazon did offer to refund me, but since I use my Roku more, I just decided to keep it. One of the things I had a real problem with, is the fact that their licenses change frequently. For instance, you can save a movie for viewing later, then next month that same movie will be off prime, then you’ll have to pay for it. The same is true for quite a few of their music streaming too. But they do have a lot of good action movies, as well as children stuff. For original content, they have shows like “Bosch,” and “Catastrophe.” For regular shows, they have “Falling Skies,” “Suites,” and “Hannibal.” Their TV classics are “Bonanza,” and “Batman.” Movies are “Slow West,” “Expendables 3.”
Like Amazon, you can use the service across most platforms. Hulu is really good for TV shows rather than their movies. If you skim through their movies, you’ll notice that a lot of them are cheesy horror movies you’d find in the $4 dollar bin, in the closeout section of your local media store. But their TV shows are on point. They have most of the popular TV shows that are out today such as “Empire,” “Gotham,” and Vampire Diaries. They also have their own TV originals such as “Doorgy,” and “Difficult People.” I almost forgot, the have a decent selection of classic TV shows too, such as “I Love Lucy,” “Kojak,” and “Remington Steel.” If you’re a TV show buff, you’ll probably lean toward Hulu.
The nice thing about Netflix is that, although their DVD/Blu-Rays and streaming are two separate services now, they are still integrated features in your account. You can have one or the other, or both if you wish. Personally, I’d take Netflix over Amazon, because just about all the movies that are on Amazon, you can get from Netflix (with the exception of Amazon’s original content). Also, you don’t have to deal with frequent license expiration; and not to mention the fact that they have the biggest DVD/Blu-Ray library than anybody else (including foreign films, documentaries, and special interests). Netflix has lots of popular TV shows too, the only difference, is that Netflix tends to be back by one season compared to Hulu. Hulu is better if you want near current episodes. HOWEVER, if you want last season of “whatever,” you’ll probably need to go to Netflix, because Hulu doesn’t always have all of the seasons. Netflix has TV originals such as “Jessica Jones,” and “Daredevil.” They have regular shows like “Supernatural,” and “Continuum.” They also have nice classics such as “Xena,” and “Farscape.” I think Netflix has better movies available for streaming, such as “The Rite,” “Swelter,” and “Anacondas.”
Awhile ago, I was listening to some music on Pandora. Usually I enjoy a significant portion of the music selected for me. But on one particular day I think I chose to create a Ben E. King station, and much of the music selected I was either not in the mood for, or just was tired of hearing the same songs. Repeat songs can happen when you create stations with artists with very similar style of music. So, I’ve done what most people would have naturally done; I skipped the songs I didn’t like, or was not in the mood for. Much to my surprise, there was a limit on my skips! What?!?! I have premium service (which went up by the way). I paid almost half what I’m paying Rhapsody, and I get a boatload of features with Rhapsody. Pandora didn’t want to throw me a bone at all. LOL. Shit, Jango is free (and also legal), and they have unlimited skips! Now I thought, what am I paying for? I was so aggravated, thinking there was a mistake on my account or something. I emailed Pandora, and the rep told me that the limited skips (I think was 24) also exist for premium accounts. The only bonus I get is the removal of ads, that’s basically it (and I guess the privilege of using their Genome technology). Now, I supported them because I know that music licenses are expensive; but they are not an “on demand service!” 🙁 It would be better to subscribe to Live365; although there are no skips available; at least a human DJ is more likely to play the music that you like consistently, rather than having a computer try to use algorithms to try and predict what you like. From hence forth, I will stick to their free portion. I’m annoyed that Pandora doesn’t clearly state this in writing from the get go. I recommend everyone to only use the free version of Pandora.
I’ve noticed that there are quite a few software out there now that will allow you to record anything from your internet radio stream. Although the age of cassette tapes are long gone; I don’t think the laws have changed any since the demise of cassettes. It is still legal to record any radio station or TV channel for personal enjoyment, and or fair use (FAIR USE DOES NOT INCLUDE transmitting recorded data, image, sound recording, or film via torrents, or using it for mass reproduction (unless public domain/expired copyright/Creative Commons)). Just in case you’re wondering, one of the reasons why it’s legal, is because we don’t need to circumvent radio in order to record it (same is true for television). However, because of streaming, it has changed the ball game completely, and we need to start using these services (even the free ones) in order to help our beloved old school artists get paid. A few months ago, I’ve written an article called “Legal Streaming vs. Torrents: The Dawn Of A New File Sharing Era!” In essence, I wrote about some of the many hassles that torrent users go through to download files illegally; and how now not only legal streaming is the much more convenient way to go, but much more cheaper than trying to spend money and time on finding the best service to cloaking your computers, to download something that would eventually come out on cable or on Netflix within 6 months anyway (depending on how good the movie is).
I’m not going to explain how these are done, because I don’t want anyone from Google, music, movie industry, or any other authority mistaking my blog for a “how to” hacker site. But I will say that spending any kind of money on a software that records radio stations is a waste of time (even if the software is given for free). In my opinion, I really think that this boils down to a dying error, and old habits die hard. It makes absolutely no sense to me at all. Recording music from internet radio, ends up to be more work than what it’s worth. The amount of self labor you’d cause on yourself by doing that (despite the fact it’s legal) is incomprehensible! You have to find a way of organizing that music and also make it searchable! Other wise you will not be able to find anything easily. You’d have to download a separate application called an ID3 tag editor. By hand, tediously, type information in each field within each ID3 tag, for each single recording you make (and there are many fields). You should also know that there are various versions of ID3 tags (at least 5 of them), and not every software will work with every version of tag you input, per MP3. Not only that, you’ll probably want to search for album covers for each one as well. The only time it would be worth recording radio, is if you’d like to record a live speech, such as the presidential debate; or something important being broadcasted by your local news. If you’re that freakin’ cheap, use Spotify. For a really, really, really cheap person, Spotify is as good as you’re going to get, and you’ll be legal. No need for fake torrent guards.
I thought about something early today, and I think it’s worth blogging about. That is international internet radio stations. I am an avid radio listener, and I use many different applications and sources to get my oldies fix. The one thing I couldn’t help but to notice, is how many radio stations abroad that play classic American music! When I say radio stations abroad, I’m not talking about “Pandora like radio,” I’m talking about “live radio” who are playing our classics. Countries such as Spain, Russia, Dominican Republic, and even London, who has radio stations that are either fully dedicated to American classics, or play a good portion of it. America has effected so many cultures and don’t even realize it. I’ve also noticed that foreign radio stations that play “Top 100” don’t play a lot of American music; especially when it comes to pop or today’s R&B. This says a lot for American classic music; it says that our classics have more meaning, had more structure, and longevity. That’s the difference, most of today’s music is like fast foods, they are only hits today, and is usually never replayed in the same way as let’s say a Gladys Knight, or a Michael Jackson album. So don’t over look web radio stations from other countries, there are literally over 500,000+ (and more unaccounted for (Shoutcast alone has almost 60 thousand)) live web radio stations with all kinds of historic goodness! This is why we use Shazam. We can listen to all of this music free, legally. And, the artists get’s paid, just by us sitting back and listening to our favorite web stations. Please always remember that if your favorite on demand streaming service (such as Spotify or Rhapsody) does not have your favorite song in their library, email or take time to fill out their form to request it, it’s the only way to keep our history alive (especially Black music history). Happy listening and discovery!