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!
I haven’t used TuneIn for quite a while, just because I felt I had way too many radio applications on my phone. However, like a real music lover that I am, at some point, I ended up reinstalling it anyway. Much to my surprise, TuneIn now has a premium plan. For $7.99 a month, you can get access to premium audio books, and add free music stations! Now that’s interesting. Yet, it is not surprising. Pretty much every online streaming company is following the likes of Adobe and Rhapsody by creating low cost subscription services. I hadn’t realized just how popular audio books have become. Personally, I prefer paper or digital books so far (maybe I’ll grow in to them, who knows?). I’m interested to see how well this goes; it just maybe a perfect niche for TuneIn. Well, actually, the NY Public Library have been offering both text and audio book downloads for years before iPads were popular. However, I’ve also noticed that the record feature is no longer available. I’m not sure if there was pressure from the MPAA or DMCA to remove the feature, or if it’s now only available for premium users. I think the new TuneIn Premium is good for book lovers, but not if you’re only interested in music. I think it would be better to use Spotify or Rhapsody for music. I don’t think I’ll be bothering with their trail membership; I’m kind of burnt out logging in and trying all this stuff; I think I have a pretty good idea of what it’s about already. However, I am curious about the “commercial free radio.” They say they have over “600 add free stations,” but I’m thinking are these stations actually playlists or live radio? If it is a playlist radio, there are way too many free services I can use for that! Well, like I said, we’ll see how this goes.
Next Big Sound tracked an incredible 1.03 trillion streams in the first half of 2015. Many weren’t monetized.
If we added a time range from when music streaming really started; which is about 15-20 years ago (Rhapsody if I’m not mistaken is the original streaming pioneer, and should have been included in those figures), the above quote is an understatement. “Next Big Sound” is a company that tracks music streams, and it has generated a report that showed 1.3 trillion instances of music were streamed. The report included Spotify, Pandora, Sound Cloud, Vevo, YouTube, and Rdio. I”m pretty sure that that a huge bulk of those streams came from YouTube. I am pleased that we are in the trillion mark, because regardless of what platform you used to enjoy your entertainment, streaming is here to stay. It’s also exciting be it also proves what I’ve been saying all along, most people do prefer to get their music legally and support their favorite artists. Just think for a moment, the reports that were generated, didn’t even include other popular streaming services that are also legal, such as iTunes; and literally over hundreds of thousands of free and legal internet radio stations who are also paying the artist royalties! Things are starting to look up for the music industry. The future finally looks promising. Trust me, 1.03 trillion plays translates to a lot of money (collectively). My only concern is YouTube because of how it functions. Companies like Rdio Sound Cloud, Spotify, we know that every song is tracked and accounted for. However, with YouTube, there is no way they can verify (to my awareness) music without ads are being paid royalties by YouTube. I just can’t seem to find that information, it is possible that it could be one of those classified secrets they keep from the public. The only thing I can think of that will insure most artist get paid, is for YouTube to put ads on all non-monetized music videos. It doesn’t account for YouTuber’s possibly stealing money, but they are pretty good with weeding those people out. It’s the very old classic music I’m worried about.
If you’re one of those people that doesn’t scare easily when it comes to the possibility of hefty fines and jail time for downloading illegal content; then the annoyance of actually trying to surf just one of these public/private torrent trackers should be enough to reform you! LOL.. Before I continue, I’d like to start off by mentioning two important things. First, I’m NOT writing this article to try to convince you NOT to use torrents, or to preach to you that you’re evil for partaking in illegal downloads. However, I would like to share with you my experience with you as it pertains to using torrents. I started using torrents for well over a decade ago (close to two), and today using torrents has become more of a hassle than what it’s worth, and I’ll explain more in detail as I go along in this article. The time you spend trying to stay “safe,” while downloading illegally (which by the way there’s no such thing as “safe,” I don’t care what bullshit someone tells you! Yes, seedboxes are effective however, that doesn’t mean that one day the music industry can’t make law makers require seedboxes to keep logs, and or demand that accounts be deleted. Look what happened with Rapidshare? Their business was nearly destroyed as the result of back and forth court battles. Everyone thought Rapidshare was the bomb, until a bomb fell on Rapidshare. So, don’t be so confident), and the money we spend on additional tools and mechanisms for downloading, and the amount of bad quality files/corrupt/fake/or infected files you come in contact with, you might as well do it the legal way (or as much as humanly possible). As the cost of legal streaming becomes cheaper (as well as FREE content providers such as Crackle:movies and Spotify:music), and as more content is offered, using torrent technology is now quickly becoming VERY antiquated. This becomes especially true when it comes to music; it makes absolutely NO SENSE to use torrents for music! To risk a cease and desist letter, AND still face legal action? For bloody what? When music is practically free via legal services like Spotify. I’ve seen a noticeable decrease in participation on many popular trackers, and it’s certainly not because of lack of available choices in music and movies (that should tell you something). Things have definately changed guys. Anybody that is still using torrents, it’s because of “force of habit.” The second important thing I’d like to bring up is more of a reminder, that the use of torrent technology by itself is NOT illegal, but the downloading of illegal content is. Example, if you’re downloading an old, and very well known public domain movie called “Night Of The Living Dead (1968),” downloading it using torrent technology is very legal. Or maybe you are using Linux/Unix OS, and like to download open source software made available for free, it is perfectly legal to use torrents. However, if you download the latest Jill Scott album using torrents, it is piracy. I think that it is important for me to take a minute to write about this, because soo many people have the wrong idea about torrents. They are no more illegal or less illegal than using Mediafire, Hotfile, or even DropBox. It’s not the service or technology that makes it illegal, it’s what you’re doing with it. The point of torrent technology is to share bandwidth, eliminating the need to pay a service for storage; such as Mediafire, Hotfile, etc. Thus making files that ARE free, actually free. By the way, you may hear that “USNETS,” are better,” this is an absolute lie. In fact, it is my opinion that you open yourself up to more exposed to infected files, and security breaches. People are so desperate to find ways not to pay for anything, that the public risk all kinds of shit in order to get these illegal downloads, while lieing to themselves that these things are great! I can assure you their not, and they’re just as unsafe. You see on the news what are happening to big banks, and they spend a lot of money keeping their systems secure and it’s still not perfect. And many of you don’t even have a bear minimum of a good firewall set up! And you’re telling other people to do what you do! Geniuses you guys are huh?
Some trackers require you to log in once every month (sometimes even more than that), and if you don’t your account will automatically get deactivated and purged. Regardless if you’re on a private or public tracker, more and more fake torrents are produced. More and more fake torrents are being shared without being checked by the uploader, wasting the downloader’s time. If just one person downloads one of those torrents, then 50% of torrent users throughout the torrent world will have that same torrent. Torrents without subtitles or audio translations. Torrents with several hundred tiny zip files. Torrents with several hundred links to various torrent trackers. Torrents with embedded spam and malware that keep your computer infected with something. Torrents with region restrictions on videos. Torrents from users that don’t know what their doing, yet complain about you. Torrents that contain videos with removed audio and a “Cinavia” error (which I’ve seen on public domain movies believe it or not). Swarms with horrific speeds. Torrents with video bitrate that are so low, you are baffled that someone would even consider uploading. Never mind downloading the bootleg version of “Jurassic World (2015)” is illegal; the amount of bulls**t the average true torrent user goes through, it’s not even worth it. Music torrents with 0kb CDA files. Waiting indefinitely for someone to finally upload that special torrent that you wanted so bad; and if found, you discover that there are numerous file corruptions. Please, don’t think links are any better, because they are actually worse; with 0.2kb speeds and each link will be a different service requiring payment for each service. Unfortunately, because more and more people are now using the internet, more and more of those people don’t have a clue as to what their doing. In other words, there is absolute chaos in the torrent world.
Having said the above, it’s not worth all the hassle of using torrent technologies (unless you are downloading Unix/Linux software, public domain movies, Creative Commons, Copyleft, Open Source, GNU licensed software, public learning material, or any other legal files from a legally legitimate website). If you Google “Legal Downloads,” or “Legal Streaming,” you can quickly identify the truly legal ones by noticing repetitions (how many times that company appears (usually on sites that offer various lists of other legal downloads or streaming). Another clue is to notice what companies are the first to be listed by google. Google always verifies a site before they list it; so if Google thinks that a site could be illegal, they will not listed at all (Google Ads). However, because Google Ads are quite expensive, please don’t rely on seeing Google Ads alone. A small streaming company who’s already paying a lot of money for licensing fees, just may decide to opt out on using Google Ads and submit to search engines the old fashioned way. Have a site checker like Norton’s Anti-virus/Firewall bundle, it tells you of any suspicious links from right in your Google search. Since streaming services came to be, we have seen a steady drop in piracy and increase sales in both streaming services and pay-per-download. Now entertainment has become affordable and we don’t have to deal with the hassles of using torrents, and rude ass admins and moderators anymore! And most importantly, not only are there many streaming services that are LEGAL, you can now share the links with other members (or non-members) of the same streaming service, LEGALLY! Or just use YouTube; doing that is certainly a hell of a lot easier than waiting for months trying to get in to a specialty tracker; or risking a DMCA letter (keep in mind that more and more private trackers are using public URL announcements now). If a friend is not a member of your favorite legal streaming service, they get 30 second (music) to 2 minute (video) samples; or they can just simply Shazam it, or search for the song in their favorite streaming service. Stop being so scared! Legal streaming has completely changed the game.
If you still stuck in a time warp, and you still don’t “believe” it’s now legal to share, then just take the time and read the legalese/license for your favorite service yourself (Spotify, Napster, Rdio, Slacker, whatever) at least. If you are new to music/video streaming, and don’t know which ones to start with, click here or here or here. For videos click here. Common sense should tell you that TV news would be reporting Facebook and twitter users being thrown in jail left and right (hellllllooooo?). Legal services like Napster gives you FULL access to their entire library (which is about 40 million songs by now) for a very low monthly fee. Easy to search; easy to create and save playlists; all in high quality; and easy to help the streaming community by rating your music. You also help the the movie goer community too such as Netflix; informing other users as to what to watch; informing the provider as to what to keep in their library and cluing what other kinds of movie licenses they should purchase and make available. Most importantly, if you have an HDTV, I think its best to subscribe to one of these services for best quality. Depending on the movie studio, most content made available is damn near Blu-Ray quality (some services like Netflix even offer 4K streaming). You’re not going to get best quality from a 600mb torrent file; and most importantly a lot of ISP companies like Comcast, throttle, cap, or even block the use of bittorrent applications through their network; you will no longer have that problem at all with legal streaming; and you don’t have to be burdened with quotas or seeding (which also exposes your IP on public announcements). You get the highest possible quality, and whatever service you use, and you know it’s going to work! No incompatibilities, no spending hours searching, no begging for reseeds and hoping for the best. Do you realize how difficult it is to find certain music albums in the torrent world? It is sooo much better to just use Napster or Spotify and call it a day. I think you guys get the picture. Everything literally boils down to, within about a week or two, after a new album is released, will be made available on music streaming/YouTube. So why go through the hassle of using torrents to download it? Movies are usually made available on Blu-Ray about 6 months after it’s released in theaters (depending on how well it does, could be longer). So why bother going through the hassles of using bittorrent when you can easily order it from Netflix? In fact, do you realize that some times movie services like VUDU have selected movies still in theaters? You’d have to pay a little more, but it’s still cheaper than actually going to the movies (no need to download 300 tiny little zip files for one movie, then discover there’s a missing password, plus you know its a horrible bootleg anyway LOL).
Honestly, between 3 of the biggest (low cost) movie streaming competitors, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon, you have all the high quality movies you’ll ever need. Between Napster and Spotify’s FREE accounts, you’re just insane if you still use torrents to get your music at this point. There’s no reason why you should be using torrents for music; even if you’re a serious music collector; what are the odds of a tracker having all your out of print music anyway? Actually, scratch that, because actual collectors prefer to physically buy all their music and movies! It is easier, and most practical to get it from Spotify (did I mention that Spotify is both legal to use and FREE?). Look, I realize that torrents has always been somewhat political as well. Meaning, some people prefer to use torrents as a way of rebelling against the f**ked up music and movie industry who try to put both many fans and artists in the poor house with their greed. However, at the same time, now that entertainment is a lot more affordable, if we don’t use some of the legal services I’ve mentioned, our favorite actors, musicians, songwriters, etc are the ones who take a hit. If we continue not to use legal services like Napster and Netflix, there be will very few financial incentives for any artist or movie studio to create quality content, and we’d be stuck with even more garbage playing on the radio and on TV. There’s only so much we can take of movies like “Sharknado,” or any movies with giant spiders, or giant snakes made in a laboratory, or giant alligators, or genetically engineered leopard lizard creatures, or a virus turning an entire town in to zombies except for 3 people, or movies with extremely poor CGI, or predictable movies about college kids going away to some cabin for the weekend (usually to have sex) and some devil monster eats them all up, or a bunch of doofie drunk kids decide to mess with a Ouija board (even though the instructions basically says “do not touch”) and all hell breaks loose. Grrrr. LOL
Before digital technology and the internet came along, music and movies were never meant to be free. And it still not meant to be free. Back in the day, taping your favorite soap operas/talk shows/movies, and or copying your vinyls to cassette tapes for personal use did not hurt the music and movie industry; and it was indeed legal under fair use. Movies and TV shows are public access, and have been paid for by the ad sponsors; and records where ok because most people purchased their albums (even if you made a copy for your friend or brother, it still wasn’t enough to cripple the industry). But we also had a stronger sense of “fandom” back then; in other words people were proud to purchase the albums of their favorite artists; their posters hanging on the wall of their favorite artist or band; their favorite movie posters hanging on the wall; we were proud of purchasing things that became collectibles; collectibles that sparked conversations and helped to build tremendous fan communities (such as Star Trek); and in turn supported the artists/actors. However, in the digital age we have to realize that torrents are a whole different matter. Torrent users distributes copies to other users (exponentially) in mass quantities in literally a matter of seconds on ultra-high speed, which does hurt (and continues to) the recording and film industry (let’s not even talk about other forms of piracy). Unfortunately, I think the big problem is despite the ease of use, convenience, and safety of using Spotify, Napster, Netflix etc, many of us have grown too accustomed to solely using torrents and it has become somewhat of an addiction. Some of us have been doing it for so long, that we’ve developed an attitude of entitlement. I ask that my readers not perceive me as a moralistic blogger who wants to judge others who still use torrents. It’s just because “I’ve been there and done that,” that I write with a greater sense of wisdom. I’ve been downloading since the days of “Online Bulletin Boards” or “Electronic Bulletin Boards” in the early 80’s. That’s almost 40 years ago, so not only do I have thorough experience, I have good perspective. When I started downloading, I was buying legal shareware for a dollar a disk from BBSs. So it’s not that “I have a dream of waking torrent users up!” I’m just really thinking of the greater long-term effects of our continued torrent use down the road. If at least half of the 40 million free Spotify users would switch to paid premium account of $9.99 a month (a lot of torrent users spend more money than that buying blank DVD/blu-rays to burn all the Ultra-HD movies they’ve downloaded), that would help the music industry significantly. Spotify is already in essence giving you 3 months for a dollar; that is a huge discount.
Now, the new way of file sharing is sharing Spotify or Napster or YouTube on Facebook/Twitter, while helping others to discover at the same time. Sharing IMDB links, along with HULU and Netflix on Facebook/Twitter. Come and share with us (by the way, people on Facebook and Twitter are measurably nicer overall than members of a lot of these trackers you’re still breaking your neck to get in to) worry free! Not to mention, these services get free advertising by giving us the tools to allow us to share, AND, the actors and performers get paid. I apologize, I know I’ve written a lot, but I also know no one is really talking about this in depth, and we need to bring value back to good entertainment.
Last Update: March 25, 2017
On Spotify’s blog, it states that from the company’s total revenue, 70% of their profits go towards paying royalty fees to artists. If you’d like to see their blog, click here. How the hell were they able to survive for so long as a business paying 70% of their profits to the artists? Please don’t take what I’ve written the wrong way; I’m not saying that artist don’t deserve to get paid. Anybody who has been reading my blog long enough, knows I support legal streaming services, and fair pay for all artists. However, the way Spotify is doing things, I”m not sure how long they can survive much longer. No wonder their software sucks ass! There is no real money available to make the necessary upgrades to improve on their service. You know, if I was a Spotify customer I think I would have left, because that doesn’t make me feel good to know that I am helping to pay for the 45M cheap ass free account leechers (oops, I mean the “frugal” users of Spotify LOL). For all you leeches, you need to understand that if it were not for the paid customers, Spotify would become more Pandora like; there’s absolutely no way that Spotify would be able to afford the licenses they currently have on ads alone. So in reality, your mooching is a privilege, not a right. So don’t say “Spotify is the best,” when in reality you only like it because you don’t have to pay; ’cause I’ve seen quite a few services better than Spotify.
That said, this is not good business practice in my opinoin, and it doesn’t give anyone incentive to become paying subscribers. Which also would mean, if I was a subscriber, everything that is broken in the software would stay broken indefinitely. I really do think that there should be a massive campaign effort to explain to the general public, what music streaming truly is, and the value of paying for a good service. Streaming is so much better; not just because it is legal, it’s so much better than using downloading links with infected malware; or downloading a torrent where the person didn’t know how to rip a CD properly; or you download one thing and get something completely different; or the quality is so low because people are still using dial-up; or your hoping and praying for decades that someone, somewhere on this planet will share that 1960’s album you wanted; and if you did find that torrent, you’d discover that it was recorded from vinyl with several hard scratches on each song.
Not only is streaming convenient, not only are most services easy to search and download, most services also help you discover new music you’ve never heard before, or music that you’ve forgotten about. All of that for $10 bucks a month, instead of $30-$50 on CD’s. Even at 99 cents a download still adds up to a lot of money after a while. To be honest, Spotify’s business model really confuses me. I read their goal is to offer free music; well I’m thinking if that’s the case, why do you need subscribers? I don’t like the idea of picking up anybody else tab (thank you very much). According to Spotify, things are doing well, and the company has hired new employees, blah, blah blah. I just don’t see it yet. Maybe I’m wrong. I think they way Spotify is doing things gives the impression that the artists are busting their ass for free, because they just love their fans? Oh, please! One thing is for sure, I don’t think iTunes is finished f**king with Spotify. Apple is going to find some way to make Spotify limit their free services. I could be wrong, but let’s see. This would be interesting to see where music will be in the next 10 years.
What a great subject to write about I thought. I think it’s safe to say that, we focus more on just using Shazam, than thinking how important the service is to us. I have been using Shazam and services like Shazam for quite a few years, and it has proved to be an essential application to have on any smartphone. But, Shazam just doesn’t help the die-hard music lovers; indirectly they also help the streaming services as well! Why? Well, they are actually “bridging the gap,” between the major streaming services (although iTunes/Amazon both have streaming and “On-Demand” download purchases, I still consider it in the same family of streaming). Shazam is not only the best music discovery application to date, it is an independent service that does not depend on music sales “per-say,” but it’s popularity and near flawless functionality. What I’m trying to say is, the music industry depends on Shazam, not the other way around. Shazam makes money by making it easy for Shazam users to purchase their discoveries on iTunes Amazon, and Google. Now, with the recent partnership of Rhapsody, Shazam can encourage people to slowly move over to streaming services. Shazam plays an important role with streaming services, because each time a user Shazams something, they are not obligated to sign up for another service! Shazam will eventually bring all kinds of services together in one application, making it very convenient for Shazam users. If your particular service doesn’t have a song in their library, you’ll still have a choice of purchasing that song through anyone of the three services Shazam is partnered with. The integration with Rhapsody is still new, so the functionality still needs to be ironed out, but the fact that Rhapsody is there speaks volumes. And the fact that some rich dude invested over $40M on Shazam and it’s research. Music fans are in a very exciting era; how wonderful to be living in an age with such incredible technology at our fingertips!