Did you know that Steve Jobs used to be a crazy hippy? But then he sold out to The Man and agreed to give away free iTunes downloads if you sign up for the Air Force? True story!
Well, power to the people: the open-source music application Songbird, brought to you by the good folks at the Mozilla Foundation, has finally seen an official release. I think it could steal a serious portion of iTunes's user base, and here's why:
- Songbird is customizable. iTunes's customizability is limited, though there are a number of AppleScripts available, mostly written by a guy named Doug. Songbird founder Rob Lord formally worked on WinAmp, for which plugins and skins abounded, and has brought the same extendibility to Songbird. And since Songbird is open-source, anyone can write an add-on. Already, there exists Last.fm integration, album-art finders, remote control support, and several skins, which these cuties call "feathers."
- Songbird is also a web browser. It's amazing how often this is useful in conjunction with different add-ons. Not only does the program come with a built-in, tabbed Mozilla web browser, but it also integrates playback from the web seamlessly, allows you to archive media, subscribe to music blogs, and search the web for music using a variety of specialized search engines. This video explains it all rather well.
- Songbird is just like iTunes. In spite of its fundamental differences, Songbird still looks and functions very similarly to iTunes. New users, even new users' parents, will have little difficulty making the switch. One can set Songbird to automatically match his or her iTunes library, should he or she so desire. And Songbird features full iPod support, so don't freak out.
- Songbird is open source. Mozilla recently announced their one billionth add-on download, so it looks like this open source thing is for real. Songbird will not try to sell you music or hide your name and email address in your music files (TMT News). Unlike iTunes, it will run lossless formats like FLAC and zany-sounding codecs like Ogg Vorbis. And as methods of distribution continue to transform, the software will evolve to accommodate them.
- iTunes sucks worse than ever. Although iTunes was once marketed with the slogan "Rip. Mix. Burn.," version 8 makes it harder than ever to control the compression and encoding of your files (why not just buy songs from the iTunes Music Store?). This version is also the most invasive yet, indexing your entire music library in order to use its new, unimpressive "Genius" function. It even requires a terminal hack just to remove the links to the iTunes Music store.
Songbird still has a few limitations. Playback support on Apple DRM-protected files is buggy and requires a workaround; artists and albums beginning in the word "the" are infuriatingly alphabetized under "T"; and Songbird is a bit heavier on memory than iTunes. But I have faith that these and other limitations will soon be improved upon. Unlike iTunes, Songbird has no ulterior motive affecting its development. Instead, developers will improve Songbird in response to common needs and user complaints. And maybe, just maybe, it might piss off Paul McCartney a little bit.
You're an enigmatic Swedish electronica duo that has won pretty much every award possible at your country's version of the Grammy awards, the Grammis. You're reported to have recorded an album in the vaults of an old church, and you've single-handedly brought back the immeasurable creepiness of the plague doctor's hooded bird mask into the public consciousness. What do you next? Well, if you can safely check off all these boxes, then you are probably The Knife, and you are now working on developing a Darwinian opera entitled Tomorrow, in a Year for Danish theatre group Hotel Pro Forma.
If you are still reading this and you are not The Knife, got your mind around this? Good. Because details so far are sparse. Set to debut sometime in 2009, the opera pays tribute to the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species with rockin' tunes and experimental form.
Hotel Pro Forma's website promises vague tidbits about how the music is written for "three singers who come from different backgrounds: electronica pop, classical opera and performance. They are the protagonists of the performance, displaying three ways of experiencing the world. They are the spokesman, the organiser, and the one who acts. They are structure, sensation, form, time and thought." So, it's no surprise that the performance is said to "challenge the conventional conception of opera," but trust me -- opera glasses and full-length capes (but please, no unsettling bird masks) are always appropriate for this sort of thing.
Hot tip! Short story! Times New Viking, everybody's new favorite cool band to reference, is playing an evening of covers of The Velvet Underground, everybody's old favorite band to reference. It goes down February 14, 2009 at Columbus, Ohio's Wexner Center for the Arts' Warhol exhibition. Columbus is Times New Viking's hometown, and the site of one hot indie rock Valentine's date for probably more than a few fans. That's the news. What a great story, huh? Interesting enough to be important, short enough to give me time to write it and still have time to eat before work. Everyone's a winner!
Here are a handful of Times New Viking dates to add that special je ne sais quoi to my word count
12.09.08 - Memphis, TN - Hi-Tone *
12.15.08 - Columbus, OH - The Summit
02.14.09 - Columbus, OH - Black Box on Mershon Stage (Wexner Center for the Arts)
Mario Speedwagon’s Under The Radar News Roundup: Buzznet Employees Get The Boot, Initial Noise Pop Deetz Announced, Grammy Nominations Announced (Like I Care?), New Record And Home For MSTRKRFT, and 4AD Release AIDS Benefit Comp
- Everyone is getting fired. The latest cuts are from Buzznet, who, according to Valleywag, let go around 10 out of 89 employees. The Buzznet network includes Idolator, Stereogum, and Absolute Punk. MTV has also rumored to have quit that bitch John Norris. (Why does he look like that?) Check out our Viacom story below for more info.
- San Francisco music festival Noise Pop announced festival dates and their initial lineup. The fest will take place February 24, 2009 through March 1, 2009 and will be held in various venues around Frisco. The early band/artist confirmations include Anthony and the Johnsons, No Age, New Pornographers front dude A.C. Newman, Goblin Cock, and others. Check out more at Noise Pop’s official website.
- Uh, the Grammy nominations were announced. Metallica was nominated for “Best Recording Package.” WTF? That’s a category?
- Fucking finally: MSTRKRFT’s sophomore album will be released March 17, 2009 on Dim Mak/Downtown Records. Fist of God features Ghostface Killah, N.O.R.E., Lil’ Mo, and John Legend (barf).
- On February 17, 2009, 4AD will release Dark Was The Night, a 32-track double-disc/triple-vinyl/download that will benefit the Red Hot Organization, a charity dedicated to raising monies and awareness for HIV and AIDS. Artists included on the compilation include The Arcade Fire, Beach House, Bon Iver, Iron & Wine, My Morning Jacket, The National, Spoon, Suffy Stevens, Yo La Tengo, and many others.
And for those of you who thought 2008 wasn’t a great year for records, things are looking up for 2009! Later, ya’ll.
Viacom to Cut 850 Jobs Across All Departments, Including MTV; Rhapsody Office in New York Shut Down; Chairman Sumner Redstone Also Sells Midway Games for a Pittance to Relieve Crippling Debt, Should Expect Citizen Kane-esque Realization That His Life Has Been Empty and Meaningless Any Day Now
Following a calamitous 37% drop in third quarter profits, media conglomerate Viacom, owner of MTV, BET and Paramount Pictures, has announced plans to eliminate 850 jobs, approximately 7% of its workforce, across all divisions and departments. Along with the layoffs, Viacom will also freeze some senior level pay raises for the coming year. (Yes, you read that correctly: 850 jobs gone, but only some high level executives won’t get a bonus next year. Ain’t croneyism grand?)
The exact number of cuts at MTV have yet to be announced, but already MTV and RealNetworks have slashed 25 jobs with the closing of music downloading service Rhapsody’s New York office and rumor has it that even John Norris has been axed. Meanwhile, Paramount Pictures has let go of 140 employees, and cable channel BET cut roughly 50.
Viacom expects to save $200-$250 million pretax as a result of the cuts and salary freezes. However, it will cost the company $400-$450 million in fourth quarter restructuring fees to rearrange Viacom into a working order that can weather the recession as best as possible. But considering how deep in debt chairman and general plague upon humanity Sumner Redstone is, I don’t think this restructuring has a great chance of success.
According to the AP, Redstone’s National Amusements, which owns controlling interests in CBS as well as Viacom, is $1.5 billion in the red. Along with the layoffs at Viacom, Redstone attempted to ease his company’s debt by selling 80.3 million shares of Midway Games, the makers of Mortal Kombat, to a private investor for 12Â¢ per share on the condition that the investor also take on $70 million of Redstone’s debt. The Midway deal will ultimately amount to an $800 million loss and will only cover about 5% of the debt.
So yeah, with business skills like that, it’s hard for me to believe this Viacom restructuring will work at all. Basically, Redstone is gonna have to muster up the courage and sell his beloved Viacom, but considering how Redstone’s stubbornness has managed to estrange him from his entire family as well as ruin his business, I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. He’ll realize the errors of his ways at some point, though. Say it with me now, “Rosebud.”
You know how every music fan has a band that both they’re obsessed with and the average indie kid has never heard of? The kind of band that always finds its way onto every mix CD? Well, Dirty On Purpose was my secret obsession -- “was” being the operative word, as they are no longer. The New York quartet has decided to break up “after spending an unusual and unhealthy amount of time together over the years.” They're scheduled to play a farewell show at the Mercury Lounge in New York City on New Year’s Eve with A Place To Bury Strangers.
The saddest part about all of this? Dirty On Purpose’s headline on MySpace still reads: “Working on a new album…” Sniff, sniff. Perhaps we can still expect this album at some point in the future? Well, the band members are definitely continuing on with other musical projects, so that’s better than nothing at all.
Lil' Wayne, recent picker-upper of Grammy Nominations, has decided to take his show on the road once again. Big deal. However, through some bizarre series of coincidences that apparently involves playing with Gnarls Barkley at some point, Heather McIntosh of Elf Power and Circulatory System will be joining him on bass. Weird!
I sincerely hope Ms. McIntosh takes this opportunity to introduce Carter to her and her friends' psychedelic pop universe. Being the sponge of influences and information that he is, Wayne can only turn his E6 influence into more gold. Lil' Wayne travels to India. Lil' Wayne taps the Tall Dwarfs to open a run of shows. Lil' Wayne quits Pink Floyd. The possibilities are endless.
Upcoming dates on which Wayne will probably be too busy autotuning things in his dressing room to listen to any new music:
* T-Pain, Keyshia Cole
** T-Pain, Keyshia Cole, Gym Class Heroes, Keri Hilson
*** Keyshia Cole, Gym Class Heroes, Keri Hilson
It's no shocker that the past few years have seen a huge vinyl resurgence, and Discord Records has just cemented that fact even further with its decision to remaster and re-cut most of its back vinyl catalog. According to an announcement on its website this week:
We will begin by re-pressing current titles, and later re-issuing others, all re-cut at Chicago Mastering Service and featuring complimentary MP3 album downloads. This move will coincide with a small but long overdue price increase from $10 to $11 (on Dischord vinyl only) that will begin with newly pressed titles and extend to all titles in January 2009.
Can’t wait to buy some Dischord vinyl? These classic titles are available right now:
- Minor Threat - Out of Step 12-inch EP (now on 45 rpm, new cover from original drawings, black vinyl)
- Minor Threat - First 2 7 inches 12-inch EP (now on 45 rpm, new yellow cover, black vinyl)
- Faith/Void - Split LP (on purple vinyl)
- One Last Wish - 1986 (first time on LP)
But who cares?
Ugh... Man, I'm so sad right now. My baby is gonna be at a soccer tournament all weekend long and I'm not gonna see him till monday which is some depressing shit I tell you...this morning was so cute tho we were chillin and stuff like we usually do just talkin and whatever, and then I walked him to the bustop (as usual) and when it was the cut off point I was like "Man I'm gonna miss you so much." and he was like "I'ma miss you too" and he gave me a kiss and was like "Bye, I love you" and I was like "Bye, I love you too" - it was so sweet....
then this afternoon I was trippin cuz you know how when your walking and a car goes by? Well, when that happens I dont even like look at the car right. So me and Alicia were walking and this car drives by and I was thinking in my head, "That looks alot like Fernando..." and then the car drove by and then Alicia was like "You know Josh was in that car right? He was waving at you." I was like "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS!!! OH MY GOD NOOOOOOOOO!!" I was so mad and I was like hes not gonna know I didnt see him, oh shit I messed up!
But, it was alright cuz he called me when he went in the office and I told him I aint see him, lol. And then he was like "Man, I'ma miss you for real" and I was like "I'ma miss you too!" and he was like "I love you" and I was like "I love you too" and then he had to go...I'ma miss that boy...
Judge Sentences Noise Violaters to Listen to Barry Manilow, And I Want To Know Who Your Personal Barry Manilow Is
Are you a Barry Manilow fan planning on committing a noise violation? You should probably do it somewhere in the jurisdiction of Colorado’s Fort Lupton Municipal Court, where citizens who receive noise complaints suffer a particularly unique punishment. Judge Paul Sacco, tired of repeat offenders despite fines, devised a plan wherein offenders must sit in a room for one hour while Barry Manilow and/or the Barney theme song blasts from speakers at high volume. Apparently, this has actually worked – repeat offenses are on the decline.
Sure, this is funny, but what about you, lovely TMT reader? If someone wanted to effectively punish you with the music you’d least like to hear on repeat for an hour, what should they play? Tell me here, and I will compile a special-edition Tiny Mix Tape of the music our readers think are the most annoying. Unless anyone has a better idea for how to put it to use, I’ll play it to reprimand Mango Starr every time he gets lazy and does one of those fill-in-the-blanks tour announcements he’s grown so fond of lately.