Music Streaming – Time to go with the flow?

Spotify grandly announced (on Dec 11th 2013) that Led Zeppelin’s albums are now available on the popular music streaming service.

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Having such a globally recognised musically brands as Led Zeppelin, in addition to recent additions such as Pink Floyd, Metallica and The Eagles, in the Spotify stable has demonstrated the weight and momentum behind the music streaming service model.

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Though a number of popular artists still hold out such as: AC/DC, and the Beatles though as these articles point out on-line distributions and sales services (such as iTunes) are being patroned.

I think is significant that these bands which initially held out against music streaming services such as Spotify, RhapsodyRdio etc., are now coming on board.  While there may be real concerns and issues in terms of payment arrangements | terms to the artists (see BBC article “Spotify reveals artists earn $0.007 per stream”) – other services from Google Play (All Access) not forgetting Youtube, Apple (iTunes Radio) and Amazon (Cloud Player).  Admittedly that may be a considerable shrink in terms of pay per stream instead of pay per song (9.1 cents (per song) – via wikipedia (don’t believe everything you read!)) – but the comparison of music streams to actual physical albums sales are subject to drastically different economic models and trajectories.  And certainly from these charts, someone is making money from this.

I am a Spotify subscriber, so I’m not out to rip-off artists, in fact my subscription to Spotify is my way of supporting the music industry.  I now pay something every month, rather than occasionally buying a CD.  For me as consumer the model has great benefits, primarily being no longer limited to the physical copies I have to hand (actually purchased and own). So I am able to enjoy and sample a immeasurably wider spectrum of music than I ever had before (even the radio stations play ‘carefully selected’ playlists)… whereas with Spotify I can enjoy the full range | catalogue of an artist as I wish.   Also I can’t lose or break the copy of the music I have, it’s there when I need it.

Certainly with digital stores and streaming services, the model of distribution and marketing for artists has changed irrevocably, and while it may not be as fair or mature enough in the commercials; I think it’s fair enough to say ‘the tide has turned’ – music streaming (and media streaming for that matter) is here to stay.

For example look at the new digital service from the BBCBBC playlister

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The new digital service allows listeners to tag any piece of music they hear on the BBC and listen to it later.

At a launch event, senior executives from YouTube, Spotify and Deezer explained why the music streaming companies have decided to collaborate on the service.

Do you agree? 

Do you use streaming service – or stay away?

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Speaker Dock for Android

Since I’ve had a Google Nexus 7 tablet.  One item I’ve looked out for is a Speaker Dock solution.

However, whilst Android based mobile devices are leading market share, in the Mobile docking market, Apple compatible devices are still dominant.

But I’ve recently acquired a Philips Fidelio docking speaker (AS351) with Bluetooth® for Android

The product page has a lot of images, videos and detail on the product so I recommend having a look. Here are a couple of product images.

What I find particularly thoughtful and innovative of Philips is the FlexiDock part of docking solution design – which the following image shows in more detail

The Philips FlexiDock is perfect for Android powered phones. Its unique design cleverly docks most Android powered phones – whether the phone’s connection socket is at the bottom, on the side or even on the top. This extreme flexibility is the first of its kind, catering to Android powered phones that are made by different manufacturers with no standardised position and orientation for the micro USB connection socket.

This I’ve put to good use by adjusting it to simply dock the Google Nexus 7  – which you can see in the following image

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In Review:

It’s a recent acquisition but my first impressions are favourable,  it has a solid feel to it, and a re-assuring touch of quality about it.   Sound wise it seems fine to me, it’s not a hi-fi system or top of the range dock, but the audio quality is reasonable and meets my expectations.  A nice feature is that it charges the device without being “switched on” itself, so the tablet is always charged and ready to go.  Of course it receives the audio signal over Bluetooth so support playback from any Bluetooth compatible device and even has an audio input jack too.

The specifications mention –

  • Shielding technology to block mobile phone interference
  • Precisely tuned bass pipes for deep, tight bass reproduction

Which are sensible design features to reduce noise interference and enhance the quality of the audio playback.

The Philips Fidelio (AS351) is what I think of as the mid of range device this list is the full range of Philips Android docking stations:

One of the things I recommend is if you’re interested in an Android docking system is to check recommendations posts like:

Also hunt around for the best price – there are good deals out there!

Let me know if you thinking of getting some like this as an Android device owner.  I certainly think the market will see more options come available as more and more Android devices are in the hands of consumers.

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Evernote’s Web Clipper Update

Evernote introduced another to their Web Clipper product. (v6.0) – the initial release available for Google Chrome

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Here’s the introductory video:

Evernote Webclipper for Chrome

The Web Clipper is one of the best features of the Evernote product set.  For me it’s key for collecting and saving web content into my Evernote.

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Interestingly this particular update includes several features I associate with Evernote Clearly, another Evernote product I like and have posted about previously (link).

      • “Simplified (NEW): We brought in features from our Clearly extension to strip the page of all distractions for easy reading and clean clipping.”

It’s also integrated elements from Evernote Skitch too:

      • “We’re bringing features from our Skitch app right into the Web Clipper to let you overlay shapes, arrows and text on top of the page you’re viewing.”

I think these integrations with the other products are a good step forward.   Many of comments on the Evernote blog post – offer similar sentiments, and indeed talk about removing the need for Evernote Clearly extension at all.  To be honest I would welcome that too, it seems to me Evernote are positioning themselves to have a single integrated browser extension.

What do you think – 1 single web browser extension or keep them separate?

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Updated Spotify Discovery View with Audio Preview– Big Data in Action

Spotify the online music streaming service has updated their client discovery page, with a Pinterest-like scrolling magazine view with an audio preview function built-in.

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The click and hold Preview action as shown above, makes easy to sample a recommendation and discover more artists and their music, with the slick UI and making it simple and straight forward to move through the recommendations. 

Behind the scenes it shows that Spotify are paying attention to the usage profile of their users, and displaying recommendations and suggestions based on tunes played and playlist content.  While an individual users’ play history and playlist settings may be quite small digitally.  As Spotify has millions of subscribers to the service, cumulatively this must equate to a significant data-set and require Big Data hosting and analytics services behind that to drive recommendations and observe other trends within their user base.

For further information on the Spotify’s analytics set-up see this blog post from Spotify Labs

Analytics at Spotify

Some quotes from that post:

At the heart of Spotify lives a massive and growing data-set. Most data is user-centric and allows us to provide music recommendations, choose the next song you hear on radio and many other things.  We do our best to base every decision, programmatic and managerial, on data and this extends into the culture.

Most of our recurring data is added to our analytics pipeline by a set of daemons that constantly parse the syslog on production machines looking for messages we have defined along with the associated data for each message. Matching data is compressed and periodically synced to HDFS.  Typically data is available in our Data Warehouse and Dashboards within 24 hours, but in some cases data is available within a few hours or even instantly through tools like Storm.

So there you go, Spotify bring music, culture and Big Data together.  I for one appreciate this useful combination.

Have a look at Spotify through their looping video here.

Do you use Spotify, what do you like about it?

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When Google Replies– Voice Activated Search

Google has had voice enabled search services on multiple devices (mobile, desktop, laptop, tablet) for a while (see >> “search by text, voice, image”).

However, at the recent Google I/O (2013) they announced a “conversational” search experience which has been extended to the browser and desktop experience.

This means Google search responds to an audio search request with an audible answer.

Voice search starts with a click on the microphone icon in the search bar.

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giving the “Speak now” prompt

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and then the “Listening…” prompt

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it captures into text the voice request spoken…

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The search result returned show all the usual feature giving and provides an audible voiceover of the summary text from Wikipedia (where possible).

It also often says “Here is some information about [request]”.

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Often the request is not picked up or understood correctly and the following appears:

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Interestingly, the voice accent and gender are different for different Google domains.

e.g. (google.com – female voice with an American accent, google.co.uk – male voice with an English accent)

At the moment I find it a little flaky and error prone but I presume it will continue to improve as more people engage verbally with Google.

Have you started making use of this service?

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Improved and Integrated Biographical Visualization services

I wrote about how Visualize.me had introduced an integrated infographic service for CVs in this post.

Vizify offer a more comprehensive service which integrates and surfaces data from multiple content services. (Facebook, Foursquare, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, WordPress etc.)

Which produces a more dynamic and holistic biography of an individual, here’s a link to mine.

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Apart from regularly polling your services feeds for updates to keep an up to date representation of your digital profile | expression, they have also introduced a set of Vizcards (digital comments | business cards)

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I certainly like the simplicity of the Vizify service and the overview function it provides.  While Linkedin is a great service for professional networking, it can feel busy or noisy with corporate profiles, and discussion groups etc.  In comparison Vizify provide focus on the individual and space to present for each facet or feature in the biography which is refreshing and seems to me to produce a more nuanced and holistic summary of that individual.

Do you use an infographic based biographical summary service?

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Sweet Suites of Integrated Mobile Forms

I had intended to post this a long time ago, closer to this generation of devices launches, but the opportunity passed.

However, I still thinking it is fascinating to watch the portfolio of devices these internet and manufacturing giants are assembling.  Much of the commentary and opinion has been developed much further elsewhere, however, even collecting images these device suites together on the same page and admiring the aesthetics is reason enough to post.

By announcing the arrival of the Nexus 4, and Nexus 10 to complement the existing Nexus 7Google have intimated that the application and content state within a mobile user experience across a related set of devices, is as a complete and integrated experience possible to date.  Of course this is not the 1st time it is has been brought together, but Google’s  Nexus | Android is certainly aesthetically and technologically appealing.

 

Apple with iOS offer that experience with their iphone, ipad mini and ipad too.  All synchronising via icloud.

Apart from the mass of OEM hardware manufacturing specialists bringing products to the market place, Amazon and Microsoft are the notable service companies making a inroads into the mobile device market.

Almost standing apart Samsung has that oft commented upon position of being a hardware partner with any of these key internet giants, as well as offering a portfolio of devices of its own.   Very much making the market work for it in more than one way.

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Certainly I see the consumer having benefitted from the general evolution of touch based mobile devices, initially championed and established by Apple , and brought to extensive commoditisation and choice through the market entry of Google, Amazon and Microsoft.  Of course there are other players now making moves Ubuntu and Mozilla, as well as Blackberry still trying to retain a market position and relevance. 

If nothing else this post will represent a moment in technology evolution, capturing the phase of the commoditisation and proliferation of these touch based mobile devices.

Do you have a favourite device or vendor?

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