Recent posts in my Music Category

November 21, 2012

David Byrne on the perils of ebooks and developing enhanced editions

Sounds like David Byrne has been having a tough time developing an enhanced ebook version of his “How music works”.

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October 18, 2012

Not quite the future of publishing yet - Pitchfork, Bat For Lashes, and mobile phones

You might have seen lots of people on Twitter lavishing praise on the web display of Pitchfork’s Bat For Lashes feature today. But not me.

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September 7, 2012

And then I remembered Situ

Going to a Talk Talk tribute party reminded me that I’d forgotten Situ, a school friend who loved them, and who died unexpectedly when he was in his twenties.

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April 20, 2012

My record store days

Tomorrow is Record Store Day in the UK. In honour this week the Guardian had a piece with some of the writers remembering the record shops that shaped their lives and inviting in contributions from users on the theme. To get yourself in the mood for tomorrow’s exclusive releases and in-store performances, why not have a quick rifle through Reckless Records R.I.P., a set of blog posts I wrote in 2007 about the record shop in London where I used to work in the 90s.

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January 30, 2012

“Slow social media” - This is my jam

At the Guardian, most days we have a five minute talk about something digital during morning conference. Often it is our own products and services we showcase, but sometimes we talk about something outside the building that has caught our eye digitally. Last week I was talking about This Is My Jam.

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December 19, 2011

“Architecture to dance to” - Joe Muggs at London IA

Last week we had the last London IA night of the year, as ever in the Sense Loft and kindly sponsored by Zebra People. Joe Muggs and Jim Kosem were speaking. Here are my notes from Joe’s talk.

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August 4, 2011

The Guardian launches 3 million linked data music album pages

This week at the Guardian we launched something like 3 million album pages, allowing users to rate, review and buy just about anything that has ever been released. Well, provided it has a MusicBrainz ID anyway.

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July 26, 2011

“Tweet a vulgar picture” - differing reactions to Microsoft, Apple and the Huffington Post ‘cashing in’ on Amy Winehouse’s death

The Huffington Post, Microsoft and Apple have faced differing levels of criticsim for attempts to cash in on the sad death of Amy Winehouse.

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June 23, 2011

7 things I love about the new Guardian artist pages for Glastonbury

This week, in the run-up to Glastonbury, at The Guardian we have begun publishing the latest incarnation of our artist tag pages. These gives us an automated page for every artist playing at the festival, which mixes together our own content with content drawn from the rest of the web. It is an extension of the work that we did earlier in the year based upon the SxSW festival, and on some even longer-standing prototypes that our development team built in the middle of 2010 as a proof of concept. And this blog post is about why I am so pleased with them.

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June 16, 2011

“Come as you are” - Part 3: The Sony years

Part three of “Come as you are” looks at some of the things that I learned about about being an IA/UX practitioner whilst working for Sony in Austria - including treating internal systems with as much care as you focus on end users, and why sometimes UX cannot rescue a flawed product.

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June 14, 2011

“Come as you are” - Part 1: The Reckless years

Over the next few days I’ll be publishing an essay version of “Come as you are”, my Polish IA Summit keynote talk, which looked back over how I came to be an Information Architect, and what I’ve learned in the process.

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March 30, 2011

The future sound of music according to the Guardian's Changing Media Summit

One of the sessions that I attended at the recent Media Guardian Changing Media Summit was dedicated to the future of the music industry - a subject that has always been close to my heart, and which now has some interesting learning points for other forms of entertainment and digital media. Here are my notes from the event.

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February 21, 2011

Guardian SXSW festival guide published using linked open data

Last Wednesday was the second anniversary of me joining the Guardian on a full-time basis, and it turned out to be one of the best days I’ve had since I arrived. As well as seeing tech demos of three products that will shortly be going live which I am very excited about, we also launched our guide to the bands playing at the SXSW festival in Austin next month, which uses the linked open data of MusicBrainz IDs to aggregate content from elsewhere onto the site.

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February 14, 2011

"Incoming: feature requests" - Guardian Hacks SXSW Hackday

At the weekend I managed to pop in for a bit of the show'n'tell that rounded up the hackday that forms part of the Guardian Hacks SXSW project being led by Jemima Kiss. I expect several of the hacks to quickly become feature requests for our CMS!

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January 17, 2011

"Jason Mesut: Interaction Design inspired by Music Technology" at London IA

Last week at London IA, as well as Mark Plant's talk about agile and UX, Jason Mesut brought along a sneak peek into his "grotto of geek", as he showed us what user experience designers could learn from music software and hardware. Here are my notes on his talk.

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January 14, 2011

Sometimes complexity is good...

This week at London IA, Jason Mesut was talking about the way that music software and hardware design might influence UX professionals. In one of the conversations I had after his talk, I discussed how many of these interfaces would fail our classic user testing methods.

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November 23, 2010

Erm, so The Beatles didn't storm the charts then? I told you so. 3 years ago.

It isn't very often I get to write "Here is something I blogged three years ago, and it has been proved right"...but..."Here is something I blogged three years ago, and it has been proved right".

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November 16, 2010

The Beatles on iTunes? (slight return)

As everyone is speculating again about The Beatles and iTunes, I thought it might be worth pointing people to three blog posts from the currybetdotnet archives...

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August 6, 2010

Translating analogue cover art to digital requires a digital design mindset

A fascinating blog post the other day looked at the effect of digitalisation on the design of book covers. For me, it isn't about how a design works when viewed in a smaller image size, but the attention to detail that is put into rendering a digital design. XTC's Go 2 album is a text book example of a classic album sleeve not being translated into a digital format.

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June 8, 2010

The two-sides of Wikipedia

Whilst it can be a great tool for finding out information that organisations have embargoed in order to co-ordinate press launches, over-zealous 'speedy deletion' of band articles on Wikipedia is harming the linked data ecosystem.

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February 24, 2010

Balloons at Depeche Mode's O2 gig illustrate the difference between 'community' and 'fans'

My colleague Meg Pickard gives a great presentation about the nature of social media, and it includes a slide of three people waiting at a bus stop, with the question 'is this a community?'. At the weekend I had cause to think about the nature of being 'in a community' at Depeche Mode's O2 gig. There is no doubt that I am a big fan of Depeche, and have been for many, many years. I also visit a lot of...
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November 23, 2009

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop in The Guardian's archive

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to have the chance to see some of the surviving members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop play live at the Camden Roundhouse, and to attend a question and answer session with them beforehand. Photo by Stickpeople Almost certainly the biggest impact the BBC Radiophonic Workshop had on popular culture was Delia Derbyshire's electronic realisation of the Doctor Who theme. However, that didn't hit the nation's screens until 23rd November 1963, 46 years ago...
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August 27, 2009

"And on the seventh day..." - Sunday newspaper branding highlighted at Summer Sundae

The goodie bag we were given at the Summer Sundae festival, featuring The Observer newspaper but Guardian branded merchandise, reminded me how odd I find the historic commandment that on the seventh day, newspapers shall be known by a different name.

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August 26, 2009

Summer Sundae 2009

Yesterday I posted about a festival I went to twenty years ago. Today it is the turn of one I went to less than two weeks ago, Leicester's Summer Sundae. It was my first trip to that particular festival, which is held in the grounds of the De Montford Hall, and which this year was due to be headlined by The Streets, The Charlatans and The Zutons. I say 'due to be', as on the Friday The Streets had to...
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August 25, 2009

It was twenty years ago today...the 1989 Reading Festival

Unless major figures have died, there has been a massive terrorist attack, or a man has landed on the moon, there aren't many days of the year where you can be absolutely sure you know what you were doing exactly twenty years ago, but today is one of them. Twenty years ago today I was in a muddy field listening to New Order. I know this because one of the pubs near to where I used to live in Muswell...
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August 4, 2009

Reasons the music industry has lost the plot #12 & #35

The campaign leading up to the release of the new Muse album has been really interesting, with an online/real-life game of hunt-the-USB-stick called PROJECT EURASIA Well, the campaign was interesting until it got to the bit where they actually release the music for sale. Today was the digital release of single "Uprising". Sort of. Or as they put it: "Following the worldwide radio premieres yesterday, Uprising is now available to download in some countries. Release dates vary around the world"...
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July 19, 2009

D45's from Apple's iTunes? I'd give it a 'D'

The music industry has been going 'back to the future' for format inspiration again, with the launch this week in the US of the D45 via iTunes. These digital downloads feature an 'A' and a 'B' side, and the thumbnail image embedded in each digital file looks a bit like an old 7" single sleeve or a jukebox promo version of an old hit. The range includes a 'D45' from Michael Jackson (of course), and 'Use Somebody' by Kings Of...
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July 9, 2009

Michael Jackson and search at The Guardian

With the memorial service over, it looks like we'll now gradually see diminishing amounts of column inches devoted to Michael Jackson. I wanted thought to put down some of my thoughts about what the reaction to his death tells us about search on the Internet, and on news sites. There were a lot of articles looking at the reaction of search engines to the news. This is always one of the cases that fascinates me about the whole problem of...
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June 27, 2009

Daisy dares you to be young

I can't remember who pointed me to it, but earlier this week I was directed to a free download of a track by Daisy Dares You - the project of 15 year old Daisy Coburn. In order to get your free mp3 you need to sign up for some permission marketing. I always like to see a well optimised form, and so it was good to see 'United Kingdom' and 'Ireland' head the list of territories. There had obviously been...
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June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson's death sweeps BBC expenses from the front pages

"Michael Jackson's death spares the BBC"
What would have been on Friday's front pages.

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June 15, 2009

Idlewild's post file-sharing blues

Last week the new CD by Idlewild - "Post-Electric Blues" - arrived at our house. Like several bands before them including Marillion, the recording and pressing of the album was financed by getting their fan base to pre-order it in return for a physical CD and a mention inside the sleeve. As well as a booklet featuring my wife's name, the CD came with a small note imploring fans not to upload the album to file-sharing sites. "Thank you very...
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May 31, 2009

BBC Radiophonic Workshop Q&A at the Camden Roundhouse

On May 17th I went to see an evening with 'The Radiophonic Workshop' at Camden's Roundhouse, which was part of their Short Circuit festival of electronica. Yesterday I posted my review of the gig. Photo by Stickpeople Before the show started there was an hour long Q&A session with 5 members of the Radiophonic Workshop, which I was lucky enough to attend. Here are some of my notes from the event. The conference circuit Thanks to their involvement with Doctor...
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May 30, 2009

BBC Radiophonic Workshop live at the Camden Roundhouse

May 24, 2009

Idlewild go iPodwild in Camden

On Thursday I went to Dingwalls in Camden to see Idlewild play two of their albums in full, as part of a three night residency they were doing there. We were standing behind the sound desk, and it was interesting to see a real contrast in the technology on display. The mixing desk incorporated a touch-screen control panel, and looked worth a fortune. However, the poem by Edwin Morgan that closes one of my favourite tracks, 'The Remote Part /...
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May 9, 2009

"The look and the sound of The Voice" - Ultravox at The Roundhouse

It may seem to the casual observer, that, having recently seen The Cure and ABC, I'm trapped in a desperate mid-life crisis retro cycle of watching 80s bands live. I did nothing to dispel that illusion the other week by going to see Ultravox at Camden's Roundhouse. They were the first 'modern' band that I went to see live. In 1984 I wasn't old enough to go to a gig on my own, so one of my friends got tickets,...
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May 1, 2009

The computer print-out Evangelists of the future

It is twenty years since The Shamen released their second album, "In Gorbachev We Trust". This was the album that saw them move from being a psychedelic indie four-piece band, to being a duo experimenting with acid house. [1] The main single from "In Gorbachev We Trust" was "Jesus Loves Amerika", a stinging rebuke to right-wing evangelists in the USA. It features vocal samples from several American televangelists, including an opening quote from James Robison stating: "I'm sick and tired...
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April 18, 2009

ABC's "Lexicon Of Love" live at the Royal Albert Hall

In the unlikely event that a) I'm ever on Desert Island Discs, and, b) that they've changed the format so that you can only take one album with you, I would be faced with a tough choice between two contenders. I suspect that Talk Talk's "Spirit Of Eden" would probably provide longer lasting spiritual nourishment for the soul and greater depth of listening. However, I'm pretty certain that I would in the end opt for ABC's "The Lexicon of Love"....
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March 8, 2009

Their greatest album?

The new U2 album is being promoted by a TV spot in the UK, using a chunk of the middle section of "Get On Your Boots" - the first U2 lead single from an album to miss the UK Chart Top 10 since "Gloria" in 1981. The TV ad quotes Q's opinion of "No Line On The Horizon" "Their greatest album - *****" I'm unsure where the quote comes from. Try as I might, the only line close to this...
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March 6, 2009

"You are what you measure" - why the music industry should adopt user-centred charts

In my line of business, we have a mantra - "you are what you measure". If you decide page views are your KPI, then you can increase those by simply splitting articles across three pages. If you decide time spent on the page is your main measure of success, then you can publish longer articles and puts lots of images in so it requires more scrolling, and so on. The music industry measures success by 'the charts', and the charts...
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March 1, 2009

"It feels like one hundred years..."

I can actually remember the exact moment I became a fan of The Cure. It was in 1986, and they had just released their first singles compilation - 'Standing On A Beach'. A friend used our 80's style peer-to-peer network to swap the music files with me i.e. he physically lent me his cassette of the album. Double-play edition with extra unavailable b-sides no less. I was on the 34 bus. The route ran as far as Whipps Cross then,...
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February 22, 2009

More like 'pop your clogs' than 'get on your boots' for the U2 iPod

My wife has had one of Apple's limited edition U2 iPods since 2004, which she got not because of a desperate love of the band, but because it was the first time one was available in black. Sadly last week it died, and she was faced with the dreaded 'unhappy iPod' icon. The thing is, I can't help feeling that it might not have been a total coincidence that the machine chose to give up the ghost on the very...
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February 21, 2009

Poised over "The Pirate Bay"

It used to be that when your favourite band were about to release a new single, you'd be poised over the pause button of your cassette recorder, waiting to tape it off the radio onto a C90. I can remember John Peel playing the Jesus & Mary Chain's "Sidewalking" single for the first time on air, and liking it so much that he immediately played it again, and before that I can remember listening to Peter Powell's 5 45s. Of...
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November 10, 2008

The evil of searching for 'Gary Glitter'

Personally I remain unconvinced of the power of 70's music to reach out through time and corrupt the youth of today via the medium of guidance notes for exams, but that hasn't stopped the Gary Glitter GCSE 'scandal' being one of the main media storms of the day. For me perhaps the most unintentionally funny bit of it is the quote from the anonymous headmaster in The Sun about his fears when teenagers go online: "He's a convicted paedophile jailed...
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November 9, 2008

I wouldn't be voting for this as my interaction of the year

If you are going to produce a celebratory issue with lots of charts and lists of the 'the best of they year', then now is the time to get the punters voting for what to put in the list. Last week I was prompted to vote in Q's poll on the best album of the year. [1] I'm always astonished at the things that seem to go live on the web without having had any serious QA or testing on...
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November 1, 2008

A young person's guide to science fiction by Cliff Richard

"I'm into sci-fi (sci-fi, sci-fi) I'm into sci-fi, U.F.O I think that I-Spy, (I-Spy), (I-Spy) And where I go, the Force will go" It would have been around this time of the year, 29 years ago, that I first heard Cliff Richard's "Rock'n'Roll Juvenile" album. Back in the late seventies and early eighties, Cliff Richard's albums used to always come out in late September or early October. I'm fairly certain that EMI had their eye on the Christmas present market,...
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October 10, 2008

"You've lost your place in the queue" - the battle to buy Depeche Mode tickets from Ticketmaster

This week Depeche Mode announced what Fletch said was their "rather modestly titled" Tour Of The Universe. It gave me an opportunity to have yet another truly diabolical user experience with Ticketmaster. I got an email alert from Live Nation that the tickets for the London gig were going on 'pre-sale' at 9am on Thursday morning. In order to be able to buy tickets you needed to register with the Live Nation site. Naturally, I did that, and come five...
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October 9, 2008

Will The Telegraph's tie-up with eMusic expose the staff's guilty pleasures?

I noticed a couple of weeks back that The Telegraph has a special promotion, where they have joined forces with eMusic to give away free downloads to readers. What struck me as really interesting is the way that they are selling the idea that you can see and follow the music taste of Telegraph writers and editors, as well as contribute to a Telegraph 'chart'. Since eMusic is a social download platform, member's networks can build into an interesting blend...
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September 29, 2008

Goodbye Google Eye

"Oh goodbye google eye... Goodbye goodbye goodbye google eye" No, not a reaction to news that Google's Street View Spycams have been banished from Britain, but a chunk of lyrics from a 1960s hit called "Google Eye" that I stumbled upon the other day. Written by John D. Loudermilk it was recorded in the UK by The Nashville Teens, and came out in 1964 on the Decca label, catalogue number F12000. The song is about search in a roundabout way...
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September 21, 2008

Will ever ask for the last time?

I love You love Everybody loves It is a cool poster child for the Web 2.0 generation, and the fact that they built their business model on avoiding paying streaming royalties in the UK as much as possible is neither here nor there to most people. But... ...installing the application on your Windows XP PC can be really sucky. The problem is that the application seems to pay no attention to the account settings on the...
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September 14, 2008

Nostalgic decorations at ULU

It seems at the moment that no trip to the UK is complete for me unless I manage to get to see Idlewild. In October last year we managed to catch them outside London, during a day trip which involved a ghost walk of our own devising around Haunted Cambridge. On our most recent trip back to Blighty, we saw them during July at ULU in London. In a twist on the usual gig format, they actually supported themselves. They...
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September 9, 2008

"The year 2525: Were Zager & Evans right?"

Every time I heard the Zager & Evans 'classic' "In The Year 2525" as a kid, I instantly imagined myself transported into the glorious future of jet-packs and hover-cars that I was so cruelly promised, and then, as an adult, denied. Listening it to it again the other day, I began to wonder if we could yet assess how accurate Zager & Evans' predictions of the future were... "In the year 2525, If man is still alive, If woman can...
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August 31, 2008

The Verve - limey w%$ker c*&£s with bad teeth?

Occasionally one wanders onto a torrent site to speculatively download the odd album, to see whether it is a triumphant return, or just a load of self-indulgent tosh made by people whose musical fires burned out long ago. From the metadata, I'm guessing the person who originally uploaded The Verve's "Forth" album into the torrentsphere wasn't terribly impressed with it....
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August 28, 2008

Music from Slab!'s iron lung

This is one of those weird freaky Internet inspired co-incidence stories. In the mid-to-late eighties I was really into a pretty obscure band called "Slab!". Their first single "Mars On Ice" is still one of my favourite ever debuts, and I met the singer Stephen Dray a couple of times when seeing them at gigs. A few years back I wrote a piece about them for the BBC's Collective site, and a couple of the band got in touch with...
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August 15, 2008

'Lost playlists' and Chipwrapper in the Guardian's Music sections

I've had a couple of mentions in the Guardian's music section recently. You may have spotted in my Delicious links that Steven Wells described blogging list-making music fans as "the antithesis of rock'n'roll" on the Guardian Music blog, citing "Lifetime of lost playlists" as a prime example. There was also a mention for Chipwrapper at the weekend, in Johnny Dee's piece about the history of the "Now That's What I Call Music" albums - 'NOW that's what I call a...
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August 4, 2008

Download 'A lifetime of lost playlists'

It was described as a 'freakily insular memoir-cum-meditation' by Bill Wyman's "Hitsville" blog. No, not that Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, although the real deal featured in part 4 of the series in question. I'm talking about my lengthy "A lifetime of lost playlists" set of articles, which has been gaining quite a few links around the web. Aside from the Hitsville blog, the series was also kindly posted to Metafilter by Feeling Listless. As ever, that brought a rapid spike...
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July 30, 2008

A lifetime of lost playlists: Part 12 - Pretending to see the future

In this series of articles I've been looking at how the way I've organised and consumed music and made 'playlists' has transformed over the last 30 years. When I first started showing an interest in listening to records when I was a youngster, my playlist mechanism was pretty much shouting at my mum to put my records on. As I got older the Compact Cassette allowed more opportunity for me to choose what I was going to listen to...
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July 28, 2008

A lifetime of lost playlists: Part 11 - It's more fun to compute

I've been writing a series of articles looking at how the way I've listened to music over the last 30-or-so years has changed with the different formats music has been sold in. The introduction of the Compact Disc in the early 80s digitized music, but it wasn't until the advent of cheap home computers in the late 1990s that the true impact of this decision began to be felt. Digitization paved the way for two new ways of organising...
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July 25, 2008

A lifetime of lost playlists: Part 10 - Wired for sound

I've been writing a series of articles looking at how the different musical formats I've used in the last 30 years have shaped the way we made 'playlists'. In the last part, I looked at how the music industry's digital tape revolution with the DAT and DCC formats failed as a consumer proposition. Another format that never really gained mainstream adoption was Sony's MiniDisc format. I, though, was a huge fan and convert, mostly because of the flexibility of...
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July 24, 2008

A lifetime of lost playlists: Part 9 - Gimme dat thing

So far in this series I've looked at how changes in music formats have affected the way that I consumed music and made 'playlists'. The progress has pretty much followed the same pattern as the overall progress of music formats - up until the introduction of the Compact Disc. Having successfully induced a large proportion of the record-buying public to migrate from analogue vinyl to digital Compact Disc, the music industry next attempted to migrate consumers from analogue cassette...
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July 22, 2008

A lifetime of lost playlists: Part 8 - Mixed up

In the previous part of this series looking at changes in the way I have consumed music during my lifetime, I was talking about the introduction of the Compact Disc into my listening habits. For a couple of years, I was very picky about when I would spend £11.99 on a compact disc album and when I would prefer to spend £6.99 on a vinyl copy instead. Not least of my concerns was that I had a record player...
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