All posts filed under “Lifestyle

Depicting things that have an impact culturally.

Smashed CD's
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Editorial: Major record labels continue to trick artists to hate Spotify and others like it

I’ve grown tired of the propaganda machine that is major record labels. They’re traditional form of making money off the backs of artists is dated — and they know it — despite the obvious continued decline in CD and MP3 album sales.

Since the inception of music streaming services including Pandora, Spotify, Rdio and others; the record label suits controlling all the music publishing rights have made it their mission to gin up hatred from uninformed musicians against these very services trying to help keep money in their pockets.

I touched briefly on similar hate of the internet music companies last year (Pandora hits milestone of 200M users: gives artists another reason to hate them).

See, many musicians have been programmed to believe there’s some hidden treasure being kept away from them by the music streaming providers. More importantly, musicians think these services are contributing to the slow downward spiral that is album sales (MP3’s and CD’s).

For example, America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift, is in a public dispute with Spotify after pulling her entire music catalog off the most popular streaming platform. She started by not including her new hit album ‘1989‘. However, to be fair, similar tactics have been done by other artists as well.

Last year Beyoncé dropped her hugely successful self-titled album, and in the process intentionally blocked out millions of paid subscribers on Spotify, Rdio, and others from streaming the entire album (till this very day you still can only stream Drunk In Love and XO, which is so corny).

(Note: I continue to use Spotify as an example because they lead the music streaming industry in paid subscribers. Personally, I use Rdio).

What has become clear to me is how little these streaming services get in profit, compared to what the majors receive. It’s believed that the Spotify’s, Rdio, and Pandora’s of the world barely collect 30 percent, while labels (master recording and publishing rights holders) get back 70. Streams only account for $0.006 and $0.0084 per play.

On Spotify’s site it’s clearly explained how the pie is split between them and the rights holders.

“Once Spotify has paid a rights owner the total royalties due for their accumulated streams, that label or publisher pays each artist according to that artist’s contractual royalty rates.”

So in other words, if you’re an artist, who feels like you’re being raped (figuratively, of course), you should first take that up with your label.

But in the same vein, Spotify gives Independent artists back 100 percent through the company’s aggregator partners. So the obvious clear choice is to go Independent if you want more money.

So I ask: where is this imaginary trove of cash music streaming services is “keeping” from artists signed to major recording labels? The math simply doesn’t add up.

This is the classic bait and switch that’s been excellently pulled off by major record companies. The goal is to make a villain out of the innovation that music streaming providers bring to the music business, to scare people into continuing to follow the old guard which is buying CD’s. Obviously, musicians make more through that standard, but their rulers (master recording and publishing rights holders) make a lot more.

This thing isn’t rocket science. If musicians want to continue to fight a new wave of making money through music, then it will only be disastrous for them in the long run. People will begin pirating their work even more. What many artists fail to understand is music streaming providers help prevent some of the pirating by giving those same folks “an all you can eat” service for just $9.99 a month.

It’s really clever for recording companies if you think about it. Distract musicians from what really is the issue, and that’s: labels hoarding the majority of the profits for themselves.

Feature Image: Gerran.Howell

GIAT Bones Press3 1070x713
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Girl In A Thunderbolt to drop psychedelic Own Your Bones EP November 24th

Not many artists are brave enough to tackle the psychedelic sound. For attempting such a feat, you can either be a genius or a complete train wreck (trust me, I’ve heard both!). However on the Own Your Bones EP, Girl In A Thunderbolt dares to do what most can’t — and pulls it off.

Now that I think about, out of all the indie stuff I’ve heard, Fake Babies is the only ones who made psychedelic sound good enough for closed-minded music fans to be interested in (those who are uninformed).

Own Your Bones has four tracks: Sayonara My Lover, Turn It Back, All That Glitters, and Silver Phoenix. 

The opening track Sayonara My Lover has a really interesting sound; a sound that’s almost haunting when paired with a battle-cry chant for a chorus.

“I took myself, I shook myself, like thunder to the core / I took myself, I broke myself, and slammed her on the floor / And I know I ain’t ever going back there no more / Sayonara my lover, you won’t see me anymore” 

“Sock it to you daddy, you’re a muthafucka.”

The next track Turn It Back sounds like it should be on James Bond soundtrack. The chords playing throughout the song are hypnotic, it’s something Jim Morrison of the Doors would probably be proud of.

Girl In A Thunderbolt (GIAT) slows it down on the third song with All That Glitters. GIAT turns off the psychedelic, and gives something more pure, beautiful with this acoustic melody. Something you can vibe to when you’re chilling from a long days of work.

Things pick back up with Silver Phoenix. This is a kick-ass punk rock track, with psychedelic undertones — of course. It’s just so damn addictive. It has a mainstream sound that carries a special underground grit. It’s the perfect theme song for rebels.

“I live the life that’s meant for me”

All in all, I was impressed by this EP. Even after writing this review I still found myself casually playing it (which isn’t always the case).

Unfortunately, the album won’t release until November 24th, but you can pre-order it in iTunes and Amazon (link in cover art below). Go check it out!

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Fantastical reigns supreme when it comes to mobile calendars

As much as I love the Apple ecosystem, I despise their poor excuse for a calendar app. It is bulky, confusing and just plain ugly. I need my calendar. I need it to work but I also need it to get out-of-the-way. Calendaring should be easy, not a chore.

In a world filled with calendar app options it is easy to get lost. There are some really nice options that are free but like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Fantastical is different. It understands its role and executes it perfectly. It doesn’t want to over power you but rather allow you and that all comes by being minimal.

On iOS the app is just gorgeous. From the minimal design to the light font the app is in a class of its own. Fantastical displays a running list of what you have going on and offers the option to integrate your iOS based reminders to that list. The top of the app gives you a week ticker and simple swipe down displays your monthly view. No confusing layouts, no condensed views, just your week or month with an easy to navigate list below it.

If that was all Fantastical for iOS was it would still be my favorite, but luckily it doesn’t end there. Fantastical offers the easiest and fastest way to input events and that is true across all platforms. Typing in something like “Write a review for Fantastical for The Trendaholic on November 7th at 10:21am” creates an event with all the information put in the right places. No wonky sliders, not searching for days and times only to find out you put it as an AM task when it was a PM task. It just works and it has forever ruined me for all other Calendar apps.

The Mac app lives in your menu bar and is always a click away. It gets out-of-the-way and yet is always accessible. When the app is opened it displays your month view and a list just like the iOS apps. I cannot stress enough how incredible it is to have this information quickly available without it overwhelming your screen . Again, the natural language input only takes it to the next level.

Fantastical for iPhone is $2.99, the iPad version is $7.99 and the Mac version is $9.99

Mega Emotion
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MEGA EMOTION Uncomfortable single drops December 1st

Mega Emotion, an UK-based indie band, was kind enough to drop me off an early release of their new single ‘Uncomfortable’. Just some quick background on this group. The band is made up by two ladies and one gentlemen, who bring powerful electronics and synth sounds that resemble something reminiscent to the 80’s.

In the new single ‘Uncomfortable’ I got a bit of a Gary Numan feel to it on its synth sound (if you didn’t listen to the album The Pleasure Principle, then you wouldn’t understand). Of course the single is more modern than that album, but you get my drift.

Unfortunately, Mega Emotion won’t be releasing this track to the public until December 1st so you’ll have to just take my word for it that it’s worth a listening to. Be on the look out for it on their SoundCloud page.

They also treated me to a track called LIB, which is a Madonna cover with a nice grittiness to it. The track presents a more international sound that many sub cultures can vibe to, and I can honestly see an MC rhyme on it to give it a more original sound.

In the end, this band is worth getting behind and supporting so hit up all their music links and social contacts below!

Again, keep an eye out for their new single Uncomfortable on December 1.

SHOWS

November 29 – Ladyfest @ The Redhouse SHEFFIELD
January 7 – Fortuna Pop Winter Sprinter @ The Lexington LONDON

Listen: www.soundcloud.com/megaemotio
Follow: www.twitter.com/megaemotion
Like: www.facebook.com/megaemotionband
Watch: www.youtube.com/megaemotionband
Buy: http://megaemotion.bandcamp.com/

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Cristal’s racist comments made Jay-Z buy Ace of Spades

A few days ago news hit that business rap mogul, Jay-Z (aka Shawn Carter), had purchased the company Armand de Brignac Champagne, which happens to be the folks behind Hip Hop’s preferred choice of champagne ‘Ace of Spades’.

So because I was busy this weekend (working my part-time job. Yes, I still work). I didn’t get to put this into full perspective about what it means culturally. For those of us out there who grew up not fortunate enough to eat with a silver spoon, or drink champagne for breakfast, lunch and dinner — this purchase meant something on a deeper level.

See, Jay-Z never got over what the makers of Cristal champagne had done. Back in 2006, Jay-Z cut all associations with Roederer after Rouzaud, the company behind the wildly popular Cristal champagne said some disparaging comments when asked about rappers using their product.

When asked if he thought the rapper’s association with Cristal would harm the brand, he replied saying, “that’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”

When asked about those comments at the time, Jay-Z simply replied “I view his comments as racist.” Then when he dropped Kingdom Come and his first single off the album Show Me Want You Got – the rapper’s disapproval of the champagne company was ever so clear as lyrics “H.O.V.A., gold bottles of that Ace of Spade/Why even fool with these other guys” and in the video is seen rejecting a bottle of Cristal in favor of Ace of Spades was all public.

I remember this all to well, but then it was way over our heads about what the beef was all about. At the time, I was like “ah, rich people stuff.” Now things seem much clearer today. It’s safe to say that Jay-Z’s Ace of Spades is going at Cristal.

Lesson to rich established brands around the world: don’t say what can be perceived as racist shit that will embolden your competition in the near future.

Source: BI 

omnifocus
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What I love about Omnifocus

There have been hundreds of reviews of Omnifocus.  And many of those reviews say the same thing: that it is the pinnacle of all other get things done apps. So after spending some time using  the iPhone and Mac app for a while now — I see why.

Omnifocus wins because it takes things further than it probably needs to. I understand busy. I go to school, I volunteer at my church on an (almost) full time basis, and I have five kids (yup, five kids). I balance more schedules and deadlines than any person in their right mind should ever attempt and I hate forgetting things and even more so, being late. This is where Omnifocus has become vital and if I am being completely honest I don’t use half of what the app offers.

Unlike some of the other popular choices in this class, Omnifocus is all about the details. When you input a reminder it asks all the right questions.  Before I go further, the app uses the built-in reminders on iOS and OS X which allows for input by way of Siri. When adding an item you are greeted with an almost overwhelming amount of grouping options. You can add a category, which for me usually looks like something for home, school or this lovely site. It also allows you to add a due date and set up a reminder. In iOS that becomes even more powerful with the newly added lock screen widget for quick and painless checking off of items.

What I love about Omnifocus is that it isn’t just another inbox (yes, the app does have an inbox for all your items) but it allows for them to be broken down into projects. Projects, at the most basic level, are things that are going to need multiple steps. For students this is an essential feature. Most assignments aren’t just one item and this allows you to make progress while seeing what you have already conquered.

Another nice touch is the forecast. By including your calendar you can see your list of to-do’s in context to your busy schedule. This may seem minor but it is one of the most viewed screens in the app on my Mac and iPhone. It is one thing to know what you have to get done but a whole other thing to see them on your daily life.

Omnifocus uses Omnisync to keep all your items up to date on all your devices. I have found the service to be extremely efficient and painless.

The only downside to Omnifocus is the price. Omnifocus on iOS will run you $20 and for $40 for OS X. As hard as that may be to swallow you do get what you pay for and the devs behind the Omni suite are constantly updating and improving the apps. Omnifocus is overkill in the best way possible. It isn’t a one trick pony but rather a swiss army knife for all your GTD (Get Things Done) needs.

If you want to keep it simple, stick with reminders. If you want to take it to the next level, Omnifocus is your guide.