Monday, May 20, 2013
+Rob Boone writes over at SSimpli about his affinity for Google, but his growing discomfort with their web dominance. In particular, he sees the entry of Google into markets well-served by other companies and services that specialize as an undesirable trend. Why use Google Keep instead of Evernote, for example? Boone hones in on music services, cloud file access and social networking, as well.
These things are the identity of their respective companies. It’s what they do. That means something. I will give you my money, Rdio, because you do music, and only music. Dropbox, you do files better than anyone around; therefore, I am a loyal customer. Even Facebook, which, historically, I loathe, retains its place in my habits precisely because social is all they do.Though Rdio much better than Spotify in terms of sharing and UI, I still can’t get behind the subscription streaming music service due to the disturbingly low amount they give back to the content creators. As for Facebook, well, I’ve avoided that for years and see no reason to change my stance now. Most people I know who are on Facebook still complain about it like devotion to it is a necessary evil. Sure, it’s a burden to check and most of the posts don’t interest you, but if all your friends are there, you are obligated to be, as well.
I get Boone’s point. There are some areas that Google simply does better than anyone else. Webmail and search, for instance. Obviously given where you are reading this, I am partial to Blogger, having tried Tumblr, Wordpress and others and not found the same balance of simplicity and complexity that Blogger offers. I even like the much-maligned Google+ for its wonderful privacy segmentation. For those markets where existing services reign, and do so by placing emphasis on that market and what they can bring to customers in that market, though, I would be wary of Google entering the mix.
It reminds me of the Blockbuster Movies model. I lived in several places where Blockbuster competed with smaller, independent video rental stores. While those stores remained, Blockbuster regularly sent coupons that made their rentals cheaper then their competition’s. However, once the competing independent stores went out of business, as they almost inevitably did, the coupons dried up. The question is, how many markets will Google strive hard to dominate and then lose interest in providing the additional benefit that drove the others away from competitors in the first place?
Or, perhaps a more relevant analogy
I used to use Newsgator for my RSS needs. The web interface wasn’t bad for checking feeds while I was on lunch break at work. More importantly, it synchronized well with NetNewsWire, which I used on my Mac at home. Google Reader launched, and at first it seemed laughably simple and really not much competition. As they did with Gmail, though, Google fairly rapidly improved the service in a manner that allowed them to leapfrog the competition. Even though I typically prefer desktop clients to web services, I soon became sucked in by the cleanness of the Google Reader design and the expanding feature set, and switched from NewsGator. It was nice having the same interface anywhere I was, and in that respect, the web service had an advantage. Then came along clients like Reeder, the beautiful OSX and iOS front-end to Google’s RSS synchronization. I was, and still am, hooked on that experience across my devices. Despite the rumors, I really didn’t think Google would shut the Reader service down. Why would they squander the good will of their die hard users for a service that they would have no problems maintaining (financially or technically)? As we all now know, I was woefully naive about Google’s intentions. They never found a way to capitalize on the service they built, and they didn’t see a need to keep up the half-hearted attempts at trying.1
One would think there is always the option of going back to Newsgator. Unfortunately, like the independent video stores, Newsgator is no longer around (at least not in its original form). Bloglines isn’t what it used to be, either. Google ate their lunch, as well.2
The lesson here is
Don’t ditch a company that is committed to a certain market segment to follow Google’s latest passing fancy. Your favorite provider of cloud document storage, streaming music or even social media could end up being trampled underneath the mighty feet of the search giant. In the case that you then find yourself dependent on Google for a particular service, they could lose interest and the availability of the service may disappear altogether. Or perhaps in a worse case, the service could be massive enough to actually contribute to Google’s overall web/world dominance. If that happens, someday in the distant future, we could all find ourselves on Google Island, naked and unashamed.
- Google has provided a decent option of preserving your data before the service is discontinued through Google Takeout. Google is probably better at gracefully shutting down services than anyone else at this point (they’ve certainly had enough practice). ↩
- Is anyone else getting panicky about the Google Reader shutdown? I haven’t found a suitable service to switch to yet. Thinking about trying Feedbin. ↩
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
The comparisons to the Talking Heads, though completely understandable, almost kept me from listening to this track. That would have been a real shame.
The intro to the video includes a nice transition from the previous song on the new Empty Estates EP, Data World.
Saturday, May 4, 2013
This is the first compilation I've put together on Soundcloud and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. These are mostly tracks that have come to my attention over the past few months and that I have developed an attachment to. As always, when I'm grouping together a bunch of songs, I'm concerned with sequencing and flow, trying to expose organic similarities in the different tracks. These songs should pair well with the transition from a cool, damp spring to a hot, muggy summer. Hope you enjoy.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
A band telling their fans to promote a credit card company over the internet to get to hear said band play songs with movie stars and tv characters. Now, this kind of stuff is what indie rock is all about.
If enough viewers tweet reactions to the show using #AmexUnstaged, they will unlock online-only access to Vampire Weekend’s post-show antics, which will include a backstage performance of “White Sky” alongside Buscemi and actor Fred Armisen’s quirky character Ian Rubbish.
I wonder what Ian MacKaye would think.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
I suspect I’m like many others in that too much hype actually makes me so annoyed about a band’s very existence that , before I’ve even listened to them, I’ve already passed some sort of judgment and I try to stay away from sampling their music for a while. Even though I was a fan, when Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out, I got to a point where I had read so much about it that I didn’t really feel like I needed to even explore it myself. To this day, I haven’t heard more than a couple of songs from that record.
Chvrches almost fell into the category of overexposed bands that I thought I had heard enough about to not even care to investigate any further. Then I read this from Frank Yang at Chromewaves.net:
The hype around Scottish trio CHVRCHES has probably put some off of them entirely already, some six months from the release of their debut album, and that’s a shame. Because as far as I can tell, they’re not being posited as saviours of anything, just a new band with some really good songs.
I didn’t want to be someone who fell in that foolish group of people who never gave the band a chance simply because they were buzzed about. Or, frankly, because their name seemed a bit pretentious, until it made sense (no one wants to do an internet search for a band called “Churches”). So I started with the song above, “The Mother We Share.” My initial impression was kind of the same one I had to hearing Passion Pit’s1 “Little Secrets” for the first time. It’s a bubbly, joyous, synth-driven anthem that could be blasted at full volume over and over again and not lose any of its infectiousness. In fact, I’ve been delighted by the results of testing that theory over the last few days - the song does indeed hold up after repeated plays.
I’ve read Chvrches newest single, “Recover” described as "the ‘Midnight City’ of 2013.” At first listen, I have to admit, I thought, “this is what American Idol winners will sound like in five years.” The sound is almost that glossy and the hooks are very obvious. Not that you can’t love that kind of thing, but I actually thought “The Mother We Share” came closer to earning the M83 comparison (the backing vocals near the end of the song especially remind me of “Midnight City”). In my book, that’s some of the highest praise you can give. I’m glad I didn’t let the hype machine deter me from checking out a promising new band.
Chvrches recently toured as an opening act for Passion Pit. ↩
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Jason Molina of Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. passed away last weekend, due to complications from a prolonged battle with alcoholism. Almost inevitably, whenever someone dies, it seems like people come out of the woodwork to extol their virtues. It’s natural to almost doubt the sincerity of those statements, coming from grieving hearts, pure as the intentions behind them are. It’s as if tragedy obligates the outpouring of emotion.
Well, this is that kind of post. Though I feel no obligation to declare this to the small number of people who read this blog: Jason Molina was probably the nicest musician I’ve ever met. I’d guess it was about ten years ago that I met him, at a Songs: Ohia, Damien Jurado and TW Walsh show at the now defunct Go! Studios in Carrboro, NC. I really wasn’t there to see his band, but the other two that played before Songs: Ohia, who was the headliner. At the Go! Studios, there was a little loft area with a few very worn couches and a relaxed atmosphere. If you got there early enough, and the show wasn’t super crowded, you could grab a great seat up there. You could relax, and even half ignore the band playing, if that was what you wanted to do.
As TW Walsh played the first set of the night, my wife and I talked to Jason. I wanted TW Walsh merch and he acted like he was in charge of it. He was so enthusiastic about peddling T-Dub’s stuff that you would have thought he was part of the band, or had some kind of stake in it. I didn’t realize who he was but he was clearly a fan of Tim Walsh’s music and just stoked to be talking to someone else who felt the same way. I was struck by his kindness. In the years since, before his death, I’ve thought often of him and how easy it was to talk to him. Independent musicians aren’t rockstars, but sometimes they can be just as inaccessible. Jason was just the opposite.
Another reason I remember that night is that we left about two tunes into the Songs: Ohia set. We were tired, unfamiliar with the music, and just feeling the tug of our warm bed which was still a fair length drive away. The side door where you exited the Go! Studios was in full view of the stage, and I remember feeling terrible walking out on this guy who had been so welcoming to us while he was playing his songs. I suppose that’s part of why his kindness sticks in my mind.
I never did get into Songs: Ohia, but I liked what I heard by the time Jason had changed the band name to Magnolia Electric Co. If you’re not familiar with the man’s work, I’d highly recommend What Comes After The Blues. Start off with “The Dark Don’t Hide It” and “Leave The City” and just leave them on repeat for a while. I dare you to not be struck by their simple country-influenced sounds and naked examination of the sadness of living in a fallen world. Then, feel free to grieve with the rest of us for the passing of Mr. Molina.
Update - Another post on the kindness of this man and his commitment to music.