This week Spotify bought Echo Nest, a company that uses sophisticated algorithms to determine what kind of music people might enjoy. Here's the story from The New York Times, The Sweet, Streaming Sound of Data.
The acquisition seems to be serving several purposes. Echo Nest has contracts with Spotify competitors that, once expired, will leave them scrambling for another music data-mining company. The merger will put Echo Nest, already a client of Spotify, in a position to create even more accurate data for the streaming music service. Finally, it will make Spotify more enticing to investors when the rumored IPO takes place.
Spotify's new competitor, Beats Music, employs data mining services to be sure, but the company also uses real humans to help its users discover new music. The question is which model do people want.
Being that my life's mission statement is to enrich people's lives through the sharing of music and my background as a DJ and musicologist I'm all for the humans as gatekeepers. But a combination of the two seems best.
Echo Nest and other streaming services that use these crazy algorithms, like Pandora who pioneered the technology, can tap into millions of listeners tastes to find common ground. A celebrity DJ or musician can only store so much music in his or her brain to share with others. Yet there's something about man's ability to recommend things to other people that goes beyond data.
The beauty of Spotify is how it has tapped into social media. Beats Music has a long way to go. For instance, with Beats Music I can share a playlist I created on Facebook and Twitter. What I can't do is share it with an individual person. Missing out on the mix tape concept is detrimental to Beats Music.
Spotify's user profile pages makes it the best of both worlds. Echo Nest can turn people on to music through their data while someone like me can turn people onto music by creating numerous playlists which I most certainly have been doing as you can see, John "Radio" Hannibal Spotify profile. It also allows a user to type in any search terms and find user created playlists to match.
Any way you look (or should I say listen) to it, the polishing of these music streaming services is good for lovers of music. And as Nietzsche said, "without music, life would be a mistake".
Monday I'll address the musician complainers who still fight streaming music.
Here's my ever changing list of favorites from 1992. You can also find every year from this to the present on my Spotify page.
Every year on Fat Tuesday I like to let you know of a way that you can enjoy, virtually speaking, the festivities in New Orleans. And with a forecast of 48 and rain on Bourbon Street this might be better than actually being there.
To catch some live cam action check out the French Quarter cam which begins in the Bywater neighborhood, traveling through Marigny and finally into the French Quarter. It gets underway at 9:30 Cleveland time. Then there's the parade cam which goes live at 11am our time for the Rex parade. There's more live cams on the NOLA site.
Yes, there's even a Mardi Gras Live app. For $2.99 you can watch live action from The Cat's Meow bar and balcony along with Bourbon Street. These are the cams that used to be on NOLA's site, but I think the folks at The Times Picayune figured they were a bit too risque as you're bound to see many drunk people and women flashing their boobs.
As for music you need merely tune in WWOZ, the jazz and blues heritage public radio station, which is great any day of the year and particularly on this day.
A few years ago it seemed that you could count on one hand the bars that really took advantage of Fat Tuesday of Mardi Gras. The premier spot being the now closed Fat Fish Blue.
A look at my Facebook events page tells me bars are finally figuring out that it's a good day and evening (the key is to have the music start early) to have a live music celebration. Here's some suggestions of where you can party before the start of Lent.
The Parkview has Cats On Holiday starting at 6pm.
Stone Mad presents the debut of Grateful Dead cover band Sunshine Daydream featuring Thor Platter, Tom Prebish, Chris Hanna, Freddie Perez-Stable and Alfredo Guerrieri starting at 7pm.
The Boneyard in Broadview Heights has Ace Molar at 7pm.
Around The Corner in Lakewood sees Becky Boyd and Real Life hitting the stage at 8pm.
Brothers Lounge lights up with Mo' Mojo starting at 8pm as well.
Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers have a nice little career going. The San Fransisco based band have a good sounding, self-titled debut album which was released last year. They've even played the Conan O'Brian Show. Better still, they have about the coolest marketing idea ever.
The Gramblers do covers in cars. No, not Cars covers but they play sweet cover songs live while driving in their van. They call them the Van Sessions and to date have posted over 25 on YouTube.
The song choices are eclectic and every one of them is worth watching as I did the other night on my couch. You should be warned that your cheeks will start to hurt from all the grinning you'll do while watching these fabulously creative cover songs performed by a talented group of musicians...in their van! Here's a few of my favorites.
I can see where Jack White may be a bit freaked out about Dan Auerbach. Akron's Auerbach seems to determined to follow White's path through life.
Let's see, The White Stripes, White's old band, used to play at Cleveland's Pat's In The Flats where Auberbach probably saw them. He starts a two piece band, same configuration as The White Stripes, and names it The Black Keys. Jack White decides to move to Nashville and a few years later Auberbach decides the home of country music might be a good place to live. Jack White begins producing an eclectic mix of artists and now Auerbach is spending more time, it seems, producing than making his own music. Freaky, huh?
The thing is Auerbach is about as good as White at all of this. Dan Auerbach would appear to be the producer everyone wants to work with. Last year he ressurected vintage Dr. John, the voodoo musician, who had laid dormant inside John "Mac" Rebennack for too many years. Auerbach won producer of the year at the Grammys for it. Now he's a hot commodity.
Auerbach is producing two high profile releases coming out in the near future. There's the new Ray LaMontagne, Ray LaMontagne Gets Loose With Dan Auerbach on New LP 'Supernova'. LaMontagne seemed on the verge of becoming quite a star in the mid '00s but huge success has eluded him since that time. I wouldn't be surprised if Auerbach wields the magic touch.
Then there's the strange pairing of Auerbach and Lana Del Rey, Lana Del Rey's new album produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach?. I'm a big fan of Lana Del Rey, a mystery to many of my friends. She's a frightening woman/child who can sound angelic but is full of evil imagery. The name of her new album is Ultraviolence. Clockwork Orange anyone? I can't imagine what this collaboration will reveal, but I'm very excited to find out.
Even Lana's Twiiter photo of the two of them is kinda creepy. Get some sleep Dan.
With only two months gone by 2014 is shaping up to be a good year for new records. Like this one from Columbus, Ohio's Lydia Loveless called Somewhere Else.
I'd heard her name and probably a song or two in the past I told my friend Jay Minkin when, a few weeks ago, he asked if I was going to see her at The Beachland. I shrugged my shoulders and gave it a jaded "meh". He told me I must check out her new album. I did just that and have been streaming it in heavy rotation since then.
Loveless' show is this Thursday. It's in the Tavern which should make it a real treat.
Artist: Lydia Loveless
Album: Somewhere Else
Here's Loveless being interviewed by a kid at the Columbus location of Big Fun.
I swear I haven't heard much of any music for the last 18 days. Well, at least not while I was at home. At 5am I'd turn on my TV, turn on the distributed audio system and have the Winter Olympics playing throughout my home. I'd finally shut it off at bedtime.
I really can't explain my passion for the Olympics that seems to grow as I get older, but a look at my Facebook feed says I wasn't alone. David Letterman's love for it is apparent as he brings on medal winner after medal winner returning home from the games. His enthusiasm is genuine.
So now we wait another two years for the summer games in Brazil. I really am tempted to start planning a vacation to attend. In fact, I think I'll start investigating.
I was sad watching the closing ceremonies last night. Full of melancholy as that magical, floating ship sailed across the stadium and the fat lady actually did sing. It was a beautful ending and a perfect signal to myself. Her voice told me to fear not, you have your music.
And so I'm back to playing the tunes. Music fills the air as I type this, following me from room to room and into the car as my day plays out. Filling me with joy.