Desert Island Streaming

I have been schlepping around a massive collection of musical media for decades, ranging from vinyl and cassettes from when I was a kid, CDs from teenage to medium-adult years, and iPod MP3s onward from there. Over the years I accumulated more plastics and bits. At some point in the last few years it seems like that collection has become obsolete; I realize it has been a couple of years since I bought any CDs or digital downloads, or powered on my iPod for that matter. Come to think of it, I haven’t even pirated much of anything in that time either. (Ironically, I recently got a new turntable, more about that next time.) Practically everything is ready right now to queue up for online streaming. This revelation must be obvious to the rest of the world. I’m a late adopter and I take a long time to decide on things. From another perspective then, if it has won me over, it’s pretty solid.

The catalog of streaming content is broad and the services are widely accessible. I can challenge myself to try to think of records I’ve been curious about and to switch on whenever I can. Caveat time: Not every recording is available, at least not through any single service, so you may just have to dip into the deep well of YouTube sometimes. I’m stingy about my mobile data, so I don’t usually stream in the car, just radio or CD. (I have had Beach House – Depression Cherry on continuous loop for about 6 months now). WiFi or unlimited mobile data are also not yet a gratis, inalienable right. The streaming services do incur subscription fees. Many of the streaming services are no less random/repetitive/inane than broadcast radio. Mercifully, there are some that actually lay off of the ads and algorithms and just let you free range to the limits of your imagination.

I have been on Amazon Unlimited Music for about a year now. I recently renewed for the annual rate, the justification being that it’s cheaper than buying one MP3 record from Amazon per month… it’s hard to put a price on unlimited. But. I have to acknowledge that when the subscription ends, all the music goes poof into the ether. That is very much like suddenly being cut off from the world and stranded on a desert isle. I suppose I ought to hold onto all my obsolete media in case I might be travelling through places without WiFi or electricity.

[Not to make a big deal, but this is 10 years of Sense & Sound. Yay.]

Rumble in Baton Rouge

Ready or not it was time for me to pack up and move out of Georgia. I wanted to arrive in El Paso by the first of February, but to stop a few times along the way to better know the mysterious (to me) South. I thought I’d get a quick look at New Orleans, but to be honest, I wasn’t up for the challenge of navigating through the hustle-bustle. I got a total of 0.75 seconds viewing time of the Superdome as I dashed by on the freeway. After another couple of hours through the swamp forests I arrived in Baton Rouge, pulled off into the city, and found things were crazy there too. A parade route was roped off and the streets were lined with a lot of happy, enthused people. I know, this isn’t a travel journal, so I’ll cut to the chase. I discovered a (family-friendly) night-time Mardi Gras parade, featuring high school marching bands like I’ve never known before. Louisiana schools must take a lot of pride in their music programs. Continue reading

Viva Live365

It was just coming up on my two year anniversary with my playlist on Live365 but dropped some bad news last month. A ruling by the US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) effectively pulled the rug out from under the entire Live365 business model of online broadcasting. As the note from the Live365 team describes it, the result is there are now “no small webcaster options except for full CRB rates.” On top of that their investors have backed out, so the misfortune was sudden and severe. Continue reading

CSRA Adventure

I imagined Athens, Georgia as exotic and magical when I was a kid. Wherever the B-52’s and R.E.M. were from must be another dimension where the rules are upside down. (Before a certain point) the B-52’s were plunky punk rockers and R.E.M. were consummate jangly bohemians. I know their legacy now is they were corny and pretentious, but I cope by filtering them out past the 80’s. I’ve always kept a thought in the back of my mind that it would be an adventure to see Athens for myself, find some traces of the old music scene, and test whether the laws of physics are all the same. Wouldn’t you know it I got the chance for an extended visit to the area the last few months, to the CSRA, and I made a trip (figuratively down the Atlanta Highway) to the heart of Georgia. Yep, it is in fact a trendy college town that adores bulldogs. Continue reading

Thinking of David Jones

It’s comforting but unsettling to find obituaries written online the moment we hear the news of someone significant passing away. A writer takes the time in advance to cast warm light on a life span and distill the essence of character. This morning I noticed a photo of younger David Bowie in the side panel of imgur and could draw the quick conclusion he was in the news for more than just his latest record, “Blackstar.” Just as fast as I could load I could see a major thread running – I knew he must have died. Continue reading