Category Archives: Music & Entertainment

Online Music Services For Different Type Of Listener

Every music listerner has different needs. What are yours?
There are online music services – from the casual pop lover to the audiobook listener. Which one would you choose?

Some quick Tips:

Mac user or PC user?

Any products by Apple, including the iPod line, are usually solely compatible with the iTunes Music Store, which is available on both Macs and PCs.
Other devices with the “Plays for Sure” logo work well with Windows Media Player – based download services and are PC-only. Check your favorite devices for compatibility before you buy. Like Apple, Sony players will only work with the Sony Connect music service.

iTunes Music Store:

Home of the 99-cent download, the iTunes Music Store (ITMS) features over 1 million songs. Entire albums are available for download but the ITMS only supports iPod devices. The system allows you to burn your tracks to CD for low-tech consumption. Most major labels are represented and ITMS tends to get newer music even before some of the other major players. A partnership with Audible.com also allows you to download audiobooks, allowing you to while away the road miles with a good book.

MusicMatch:

MusicMatch’s On Demand subscription service makes this system stand out. Instead of purchasing individual songs, you pay $5.95 to listen to a selection of songs for a certain period of time. Once you cancel your subscription, however, the music disappears. MusicMatch also offers 99-cent tracks. A special music suggestion engine makes short work of figuring out what you’d like to listen to next.

eMusic:

eMusic is a pioneering MP3 service that offers a number of downloads for a set price. The most expensive offer, for example, costs $19.99 and entitles you to 90 song downloads per month. The tracks will play on any MP3 player in the world and are completely unprotected by any digital rights management. The music is skewed towards the alternative and unknowns but there are thousands of gems in eMusic’s extensive library, from the Pixies to Bloc Party.

Napster:

The original music service has gone legit. Individual tracks are 99 cents and Napster To Go offers unlimited downloads to any MP3 player for $14.95. The To Go service, like MusicMatch’s service, expires once your subscription lapses. You can only burn purchased tracks to CDs, but the catalog is wide and Napster features all of the latest from artists in all genres.

Rhapsody:

Rhapsody offers free downloadable music in trial mode as well as a $9.95 all-you-can eat subscription with 99-cent downloads and Rhapsody To Go which allows you to download content to your MP3 player. Like other Microsoft DRM-based services, music you didn’t pay for is erased when your subscription lapses.

Sony Connect:

Similar to the iTunes Music Store, Sony’s store will only work with Sony players, which use the proprietary ATRAC format for music files. But one of those players is the very hot Play Station Portable game, video and music device. Sony’s store includes music from all the major labels, not just the Sony catalog. Like other music stores you can also burn downloaded music to CDs.

MSN:

A latecomer to the party, the MSN Music Store supports Microsoft’s Janus DRM system, which is bundled with most copies of Windows. Tracks are 99 cents and the service is compatible with most non-Apple MP3 players. Major labels are well represented, but the featured music skews towards less alternative acts.

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New Music Service From MySpace

MySpace is launching a new service, MySpace Music, partnering with Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. With MySpace Music, you will be able to listen to music at your computer, as well as being able to purchase downloadable music for you MP3 players, etc.

MySpace is basically returning to its roots, the music business, to help regenerate membership and interest to their site. This new service will be integrated between MySpace Music, the current artist profile pages and the home user profile pages. Users will be able to create and trade music and playlists, along with being able to tune into untapped artists. This move will also help the recording companies, as they will be able to pull in on concert ticket sales, and music merchandise.

MySpace’s direct competitor would obviously be iTunes, which is the 2nd largest music seller. Currently, the price of the download’s has not been made available yet, but it has been said that they will be “competible.” The digital downloads will be DRM-free, and users will also be able to download ringtones, SMS, and wallpapers. MySpace Music will making this a full circle utility not only the for MySpace user, but the artists as well.

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How to Sell Your Music Online

There are a number of different approaches you can take to selling your music online as downloads on the internet. These can supplement the income of a musician. Apart from the obvious choices, there are other, potentially more attractive ideas being developed and evolved on the web.

The first traditional approach is to sign-up to a single website service who sell a artists music on their behalf and take a commission for each sale. They often hold the earnings for a period of time till they have reached a certain sales figure, before making payments.

One advantage is that they normally don’t ask for any sign-up fees or monthly fees, so if the artist doesn’t sell any music, they haven’t lost any money. If they are smaller websites they may give you more promotion than the big boys.

The disadvantages are that the amount one can earn per track is a lot less than the retail price charged, because the service takes a percentage, the prices are often, but not always, charged at a fixed rate set by the web service. Also an artist won’t get the money straight away and will invariably have to wait for sales to reach a certain figure before they get paid.

A more recent approach in the last few years is to use a digital distributor, who for a fee will place an artist’s music in a number of large well known digital stores. This has the advantage of stocking music in all these stores in one fell swoop, placing music in all these services. The distributor will then collect all the money and from each service and make one single payment to the artist, normally each quarter.

The disadvantage is the artist has to wait many months after having paid, to get music on these services without any guarantees that they will sell anything. Also there is definitely no control over the price an artist’s track is sold at, as this is totally dictated by the web services. Also again they have to wait for payments to be made, holding up cash flow whilst they wait. Again after commission the amount they earn is considerable less than via the diy method. iTunes is does have the advantage of hype and artist cling to the hope that if they’re on there they will somehow sell music, many artists can’t understand why once they’re on a big music download service, they’re not automatically selling loads of music.

With these big sites they are competing for attention with millions of other artists, the chances of casual browsers discovering and then buying their music is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It’s only the known of artists with some promotional clout and a lot of backing from a label, who will get exposure and the vicious circle continues, even smaller independents have recently campaigned for equal exposure on these services, so as a totally independent artist the exposure is even worse and the odds stacked against them.

What invariable happens is the independent musician has to promote his own music and send fans and customers to his or her page on these services, whilst the service gives the artist no exposure, unless by the sheer volume of sales the independent bands selling mp3s can buck the trend and rise in the charts, so listeners become aware of them.

The newer and more savvy approach is to use a service that enables musicians to take more control and make more money. From a business savvy point of view, the music hosting approach is one way to go, enabling artists to Sell Music Online. The advantage of this kind of service is the artist get’s paid straight away directly to their own PayPal accounts, artists can charge what they want and even double or even triple earnings, compared with some other services. Also they can get set up almost immediately. When bands discover that they can generate sales themselves through social networking, gigs and word of mouth, they begin to realise that they are driving the sales and in fairness should be making more money.

These music services charge a flat monthly service charge for hosting the music, rates vary dependent on the number songs but prices start at £5 per month approximately $7.50. They charge no commission, so artists make 100% of all sales.

Many artists have used PayPal to sell their own music CD’s for this very same reason and been happy with the independence it brings and extra earnings it generates and the direct customer contact. The issue with selling digital music is it requires some quite sophisticated technology to deliver the music to the customer after the payment is made. This means delivering an instant download link once the payment is completed, which will expire, so people can’t share the link, it means providing a dedicated fast download speed to the customer and also providing the customer with a password so they can download the file again if they loose it. For these reasons it’s far most cost effective and convenient to use a specialist service.

Also the services often provide a music player so people can preview the music and also a mp3 music widget which can be placed anywhere to promote music with a link directly back to the artists sales page.

How to Find Quality Music Downloads for iPhone For Pennies

It was reported recently quality music downloads for iPhone are much sought-after. Among these searches, many are more interested to find places where they can have them cheap rather than paying the regular $0.99 for a song download. People are also ditching free sites that provide music downloads for iPhone as these sites are often plagued by big problems like adware, spyware and viruses threats.

There are basically 2 alternatives when it comes to finding music downloads for iPhone. There are music stores or clubs that either charge you on a monthly or yearly subscription basis, or those that offer you a lifetime membership for a flat fee. These are the best places nowadays for quality mainstream music and the billboard chart hits without overspending.

It seems quite obvious that more and more people see the value in opting for the membership flat fee model. If you were to compare the pricings of different offers, the difference between the lifetime membership fee and yearly fee is only a couple of dollars. People love the fact that they can gain unlimited access to the huge databases at the sites for as long as they want.

The funny thing about why the yearly option for music downloads for iPhone is still quite popular continues to amaze many music industry watchers. Industry professionals claim that people have the mentality that they can make use of that one year to download as many songs and music video as they like before their memberships expires. But they fail to realize that these services are constantly updating their portfolio with new songs. So once your membership ends, you effectively are blocked from receiving any more new downloads.

Another explanation for why some are opting for a short-term subscription such as a 1 month option is their doubt about the service. They wanted to try out the service and see if they are good first before continuing with the yearly or lifetime option. If they are no good, they would just move on to another music service.

The fact is, hopping from site to site may very well end up costing them even more for the music downloads for iPhone. After all, this is really not necessary with the 60-day money-back guarantee offered by many of these services. Plus, you really cannot make a good judgment on the quality of service within a short 1 month. Very often, it takes some fiddling around to really understand the difference between all the competing stores.

For the price tag of $30 to $60, you get a lifetime membership entitlement. Do not quickly jump for the $30 option thinking that you got the best deal. It is not always the case. For a professional service to continue maintaining its site and offer quality service, it takes money and if the club membership fee is too cheap, it could mean a compromise in its quality.

When choosing the right site for your music downloads for iPhone, other than pricing difference, always compare them in terms of the type and selection of music, genres, security of site, download speeds and so on. These should be more crucial than just prices. You would not regret it even if you pay more for quality.

How To Eliminate Music Career Killers Called Day Jobs

Prior to my graduating high school and, particularly, when my family and friends realized that I was going to attend college as a Music Education major and, subsequently, make music my career, the eternal words of “be sure you have a real job to fall back on” were forever etched in my mind. As a musician, I am fairly sure you have heard similar words from well-meaning family and friends. And, if you have not, you certainly will at some point.

The difference between most people who are in the literary arts, whether music, writing, acting, art, etc. and people who are not within these particular areas is that there tends to be a “spiritual calling,” if you will, to these vocations that begins very early in one’s life, culminating into an ever increasing passion over time. And, this is an element that people who are not involved in the arts cannot seem to understand.

However, in getting back to the “ace in the hole”/”fallback jobs” issue, many artists desiring to respect the wishes of their well meaning family and friends will either attend college and study an unrelated course, i.e., accounting, engineering, or take jobs to satisfy others in the interest of eliminating ridicule.

Also, artists who are not confident that they can earn a satisfactory and consistent income from their chosen art will often opt for a “day job” that appears more acceptable and as “secure.”

The caveat emptor of doing so is that the artist often spends his or her time in misery with the day job that “pays the bills,” often feeling like a sell-out since more time is often allocated to it while sacrificing their preferred and desired profession.

As an example, the average performing musician who has a day job works approximately eight hours (or more), then rushes home to rehearse with the band for approximately two to four hours several times per week.

This particular musician often spends the time at his/her day job despising (even hating) it while imagining how wonderful this day time would be better spent rehearsing, planning and charting a music career. Over time, this can become sheer misery.

One of my closest friends, who is an incredible music producer and who was also a recording artist on RCA Records in the 1970s for several years, is in a similar situation.

After his career with the label ended, he went to college and majored in Accounting, becoming a Certified Public Accountant with the Internal Revenue Service (I often refer to it as the *Inferno* Revenue Service due to its innate ability to often and diligently issue third degree burns to your bank account).

My friend has spent the past 20+ years or so working for the IRS, often wishing he would have had the courage to go fulltime in the Music industry.

Now, at age 56, he is counting down the last remaining days (897 on the date of this article) until his retirement while often having relayed to me through the years his regret in having opted for falling back on his own “ace in the hole” and allowing it to become his frontline wage earner.

I suppose in having said all of this up to this point, my advice is for musicians who find it exceedingly and increasingly difficult to land enough well-paying gigs or to sell enough of their music to support themselves is to find a “day job” that is still in the Music industry that will, at least, be a day gig that you can live with, so to speak, while not causing you major depression and, ultimately, regret. As such, please consider the following areas that you may find beneficial:
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* CD Cover Design

(I have met a number of musicians and recording artists who are also gifted artists and painters. If this describes you, why not use your art skill to provide unique and original CD cover designs for other artists?)

* Songwriter/Arranger

(If you are a composer and songwriter, of which many musicians naturally are, you could offer to write, arrange for, or assign some of your songs to other recording artists. It is my experience that many musicians often have a great number of songs that they never intend to use, however, allow ego to supersede beneficial common business sense. Therefore, why not put these particular songs that you are likely to never use personally to good future income-earning use by allowing other artists to get them out there for you and produce royalty
income?)

* Voice/Music Instructor

(Are you a gifted, seasoned or professionally trained singer or musician? If so, check out area high schools or colleges to learn if they have artist residency programs that will pay you to teach in their workshops? You could also contact community colleges to request to become a part of their Continuing Education programs to teach your skill. These tend to pay very decent salaries as well).

* Equipment/Electronics Craftsman

(Do you have equipment building and/or electronics skills? If so, and you are also a musician, you are likely somewhat of an expert in sound technology. So, why not create your own side business while creating your own line of sound products?)

* Equipment Rental/Repair

(Many musicians have a lot of excess sound or musical equipment that they no longer use. Why not put this
equipment to great use with generating a side income by renting it out? Also, if you are good at repairing music and sound equipment, this is yet another great income that musicians would find useful, particularly, if your rates are lower than other repair shops).

* Van/Truck Transport

(If you own a van or truck, you can make some good money transporting equipment back and forth to gigs for other bands)

* Your Own Studio As An Income Generator

(If you have a studio that has more “bells and whistles” than many or most in your area, generate funds by offering its services to local recording artists who do not have such. And, if you can also engineer, you can increase your rates even more).

* Your Record Label

(Obviously, with your own music, you likely have established a label. So, why not turn it into an even greater money-maker by signing other local artists who are not familiar with how to operate a label on their own, or have no interest in doing so?)

* Jingle/Ad Writer For Local Businesses

(Contact local businesses to learn if they would be interested in your creating unique/original jingle advertisements for them that they can run on their local radio or cable stations. Better yet, why not go ahead and create a customized (maybe, humorous) jingle for a few local businesses, then give it to them on CD for their review. You are likely to pick up a few accounts this way for sure).

* Live Sound Engineer

(Many bands do not have their own sound engineer. Can you run good sound? If so, why not offer to do so for local bands? You can even charge more if you use your own equipment. Also, you can add even more income if you run stage lighting along with the sound).

* Live Video Recording

(As with the previously mentioned Artist/Painter, I have also met a few recording artists who are filmmakers and film producers. So, why not put this talent to use by offering local musicians the chance to get some video footage from their gigs that they can use in the future or produce their videos?)

* Band Manager

(Do you run your own band? If so, why not consider managing another band (or two) from your own local area for a fee?)

* Stage/Theatre

(If you have local theatres in your area, another income outlet can be generated by contacting local producers who may welcome the opportunity to hire your band’s musical services as background/supporting music).

* Flea Markets
(Why not start a sideline business by picking up some used musical or sound equipment at repair shops, then re-selling it at a higher price for a profit at local flea markets?)

* Music Gig Photographer

(Are you good with a digital camera? Then, for a profit, use your digicam to take live photos of local musicians’
performances that they can use on their websites and in their promotional literature).

* Rehearsal Space Rental

(If you own a decent size soundproofed rehearsal space that you practice in, or you simply have a space that is vacant, why not soundproof it and rent it out to other local musicians?)

* Equipment Cases

(Can you build customized equipment cases? If so, this could be a great line of products as well).

* Recording Studio Player

(If you are a creative or diversified player, consider hiring out your services for recording artists who cannot play or who are not as well trained).

* Studio Engineer

(As with the Live Sound Engineer above, if you are an exceptional engineer, offer your services to local bands in
order to help them get the best sounding product).

* Studio Producer

(The studio producer, often interchangeable with the studio engineer, is more of a project manager who makes sure that all elements of the recording process are met and in a timely manner).

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3 Reasons Spotify May Never Become the OS of Music

So, most of you are probably aware of the recent changes that Spotify has made in regards to opening up its platform for developers to build apps upon. In March, the social music service will be opening up an app store to help app developers get paid for their hard work. Last week, I read a really interesting article on the Guardian titled “Spotify: We have to turn ourselves into the OS of Music.”

As a heavy user of the free version of Spotify, I really love what they are doing for social music but there are few major problems that I feel will prevent it from becoming the OS of music.

The first, being its relationship with Facebook which forces users to have to login via a Facebook account. Even though just about everybody that’s breathing uses Facebook, people are still a little apprehensive about sharing their listening habits and having to login in to one system to use another system. And, while some may argue you can easily switch to private listening mode, it still will continue turn a lot of people away. With VEVO’s new deal with Facebook, it requires the same process and this is the reason why I won’t be using VEVO as much as I have in the past.

This seems to be the way that Facebook does business, all or nothing. If Spotify is to ever to become the OS of Music, it must separate from Facebook or create a version that doesn’t require users to login via Facebook. Jay-Z had an album to come out a while ago called “The Blueprint 2: The Gift and The Curse,” and in my opinion an all in deal with Facebook is definitely a ‘gift and a curse.’

Second, Spotify and the recording industry must figure out a way to compensate artists more fairly for streaming music play. Major record labels love Spotify, because they own shares and the artists, well…While people argue that listening to streaming music increases physical album sales, I have been using Spotify since it launched in the U.S. and I have yet to purchase one album because I heard it on Spotify.

Third, services like iTunes and Rhapsody still are the most dominant digital music services in the U.S. and they both operate independently of Facebook. Both services will continue challenge Spotify as they are adding more social features. Rhapsody recently topped 1 million paying subscribers, making it the most popular premium music service in the U.S. iTunes failed to get a warm response from Ping, but in my opinion they will leverage their mobile platform to offer a socially integrated service that will challenge Spotify’s dominance in the social music sphere.

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Google Music Store Officially Launches

Google has recently launched the Google Music Service. This allows users to find and purchase new music, share it with friends on their Google+ account. They can also upload their current music to the “cloud” absolutely free. The upload is up to 20,000 tracks! Users on Google Music can then stream uploaded and bought tracks from the web or any device (phone, tablet, etc…).

How to Get Your Own Music in the Google Music Store

If you’re a CDBaby member, getting your music in the Google Music is quite simple. CDBaby will handle the distribution of your music to the Android Market for free! There’s no added on fees when delivering your music to a new digital partner through CDBaby. If CDBaby is your choice for digital distribution, you don’t have to do anything. They’ll deliver it to Google automatically. If you are a control freak and want to do the account management and the process of signing up yourself, you pay a $25 fee to Google. Then you create your store to sell your music in the Android Market. If you decided to create your page/store yourself then you can also opt-into CDBaby distribution at a later date, but you don’t get a refund for the $25.

Explanation of Google Music

The new store has some cool features along with users being able to buy and instantly stream music from the “cloud”. All the tracks will have a 90-second preview for your fans to listen to. Also whoever purchases music through the Android Market is able to share a free play with their friends on Google+. These are called “Social Recommendations”. Being able to upload and share creates a chance for artist to get new fans & more sales through their page. There’s also a free track per day giveaway through the Android Market.

If you’re an artist and not yet a member of CDBaby, you should look into it because it takes out a lot of the work that you normally would do. CDBaby is one of the few launch partners that is confirmed for Google Music. As a result CDBaby is working with Google engineers directly so they can deliver their music catalog to them through a direct feed. Once the feed is good to go, the music will start going to Google. One of the benefits of being a CDBaby member is that you will save money on the fee. There is no charge for existing CD Baby artists. If you want to pay the $25 fee then you can. It depends if you want to do the work or not. To set up your own account and profile with Google Music go to’. You’ll be asked to customize your page, upload your songs and sign off on the Google’s Terms & Conditions.

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Record And Create MP3s From Home

Record And Create MP3s

There used to be no substitution for a good recording job done in a professional recording studio. Now with the rising popularity of digital PC recording and the low cost of recording software, many people are re-thinking the idea of home recording. Plus with the ease of MP3 distribution, and the many sites that offer free web hosting and the ability to upload and download free music, the difficulty of promoting and distributing your band’s MP3s has been made very easy. The questions at hand are, what do I need to begin recording at home, how do I turn my recordings into MP3s, and what do I do with said MP3s after I am done creating them?

Home recording on a PC requires just a couple of things; a computer, recording software (i.e. Pro Tools, Cakewalk, Cubase), and a digital soundcard. If you will be recording multiple tracks from multiple sources at the same time, you might want to invest in a mixer as well. (This is assuming that your sound card only has one audio input) This will allow you input more than one instrument/microphone to your computer at the same time. Install your recording software and sound card drivers. Plug your mixer into your sound card, plug your instruments into your mixer and you’re ready to begin recording. The recording process may be a little different depending on what software you are using, but most decent software comes with a good instruction manual which you can consult if you are having problems. After recording, you will want to mix all tracks down to a stereo audio .wav file.

Now that we have our recording done and our .wav file in hand, we’ll want to convert it to an MP3 file. If you will be burning your tracks to CD, you won’t need to convert it to an MP3 file. But for distribution for music downloads on the web, the smallest, best quality, most universally accepted format will be an MP3 file. You can take your .wav file and export it as an MP3 through whatever audio recording program you use. Most recording software offers that option, but keep in mind that you might need to mess with the output settings to get the best quality MP3 out of your program. Another option is to use a stand-alone .wav to MP3 converter. If you go to download.com and search for “.wav to .mp3 converter”, you will be presented with a good list of programs that do just that. I have had good results using both methods, so it’s really up to you.

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