Why you should try Soundrop on Spotify

Spotify Apps have only been available for less than a month, but I already have a favourite app: Soundrop. Although I am a big fan of the Last.fm app and the improved Spotify Radio (having already discovered several new artists through there – although some tracks pop up there a lot for some reason), I am spending most of Spotify listening habit on Soundrop. Because I’ve been waiting for Soundrop for over a year.

At my previous job we at some point started making “radio” on Spotify. I’d create a collaborative playlist and everyone in the office would subscribe. Then, we’d all add songs we like (or we thought were annoying, to annoy the others) and listen. Because you couldn’t vote for tracks or delete them (well you could delete them but it was against my rules), all tracks would get played. It was a bit like a radio station of your combined music taste.

Soundrop is a bit like that: you have a virtual room that you can join. Then, everyone is allowed to add tracks and you listen to it all. The only difference is that Soundrop DOES have a voting system. Thus, people have to decide whether they think the track you added is good before it actually gets played. Your track may end up in the bottom of the playlist with one vote. But if other people like your suggestion, they’ll vote for it and soon, your track will pop up. You can start your own room but you can also join a room with a certain theme (like Indie Wok).

The addictive part of this is – for me at least – that you have to listen to tracks you normally wouldn’t listen to. As I write this, I’m listening to Say Hi To Your Mom with Blah Blah Blah. Say Hi To Your Mom is one of those bands that I’ve heard of, but never listened to. Now, because other people vote for them, you HAVE listen to them (unless you leave Soundrop) and you might realise that you are missing out. Can you remember those times when you heard a new song on the radio and you fell in love with it? Yea, me neither, but it’s like that. And every now and then a song pops up that you love.

So that’s why you should try Soundrop. Because it broadens your musical horizon, peppered with tracks you already love. And it’s free as long as you have Spotify.

Which you have, right?

Right?

Call for pop/alt/culture/nice bloggers

Decided: some friends and I are going to launch a new website on 1 January 2012. That gives us just over two months to prepare. But we need more bloggers. We need a WHOLE LOT of bloggers.

It has intelligent, nice people writing about things they like… Music, films, books, art, websites, tech, food, thoughts, science and all other manifestations of the human mind AND nature. If you like it and can write about it, it’s probably suitable.

We want to write about things we like and the way they’re influencing us. What makes the world this great is that people can connect to the things in it. So even though this website is going to be big, it’s going to be personal. You don’t have to positive – because even things we like can let us down. But eventually it’s about giving attention to things we like, BECAUSE we like them. How you do that, is up to you… As long as it includes original content on our website.

This website will be our little project.  Compare it to an open-air theatre. You’ll rehearse a few weeks, then you’ll manage to convince some friends to come for free on opening night. They’ll tell their friends if they like it and they will tell their friends. And the show never stops and the people who like it will keep on coming back. That’s why we need a lot of contributors who can all have their friends tell their friends. If there’s any money left at the end of the year, we’ll reward all of our loyal writers/editors.

If you like the description above, I really want you to join! Write to me via the form below. Include the following info:

  • Tell us about yourself. Who are you?
  • List all the things you like AND want to write about.
  • Give us an indication how often you’ll be able to write initially (keep in mind you need time to enjoy the things you want to write about :)).
  • If there’s an article you’re proud of (in English), please include it. If you don’t have one, feel free to write something fresh about something you really like right now.

[customcontact form=3]

Amazon starts the content war against Apple

We’re approaching the age in technology where hardware quality is becoming less important. It’s user experience that matters more and more these days. Apple has the user experience figured out – mostly – and everyone knows that. Android is still a couple of steps behind, not the least because the transition from phone OS to tablet OS has been going less than smooth.

Hardware-wise though, some Android phones and tablets can already compete with the iPad. OS-wise, Android is slowly getting there. But even if those two are up to scratch, Android still doesn’t have the powerful connection that Apple can offer thanks to the iTunes Store.

It’s as simple as this… While pirating movies, shows and music may exist for the forseeable future, this isn’t ideal for the mainstream. Not everyone feels comfortable downloading from dodgy websites and servers. Most people are willing to pay for a legal alternative, if the price is right and it’s easier to use than searching Usenet for a less legal version of the film you want to watch. This is not new information but it’s more than relevant now that Amazon is doing to more modern entertainment what it has been doing to books for the past years. Making it easier than ever to get more.

The Kindle Fire is the first Android tablet that has a strong integration with a media library comparable to that of the iPad: The Amazon Store.

That doesn’t mean that the iPad will die out in the next year. But for 200 dollar, loyal Amazon customers can buy anything in stock on Amazon via their Kindle Fire. Whether you want to watch a film via Amazon Prime (for an additional fee of 80 dollar per year) or buy a new chair: you can do so via your Kindle Fire. Happy Amazon customers that want to buy a tablet can either fork out 400 dollar for an iPad, or 200 for an Amazon tablet that allows them to use their Amazon Prime feature and get more things as you go.

Strip all those Amazon features and you’re left with a not so state of the art tablet, but that’s not the point. Even if the iPad is faster, lighter or bigger: the Amazon integration is ideal for people who don’t want to play by Apple’s rules. The Kindle Prime is redefining the tablet for its own purposes. The tablet according to Amazon is not just a general entertainment device, it’s a cleverly branded entertainment device. And yes, some other tablets may offer movie rentals (like HTC’s tablets), but they don’t have Amazon’s brand recognition or catalogue size.

If tablets are destined to go truly mainstream, they need to offer features that are wanted by the mainstream in a way the mainstream can easily understand. Apple has always understood that with the iPad. Compare it with a car… Some people get excited about the engine, the price tag and the colour, but most people just want to be assured it works and will get them from A to B, even if B is only reachable via Mountain C, frosty road D and traffic jam E. They don’t care about horse power, as long as they’re not being screwed by their car dealer.

Amazon understands this too. Amazon is not selling the Kindle Fire based on its amazing hardware (*the hardware is not that amazing, really, but it’s good enough to do what it’s supposed to do). Amazon is selling their Kindle Fire based on what you can do with it. Thus, the content war has begun. If this model works – and the previous Kindles have proven it does – other manufacturers will need to start making deals with content providers… So Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Google…  Who else is going to enter the war zone?

If you’re craving something more than whats been given to you


Pete Lawrie mostly made an impact on me with his low-key, emotional songs. His debut (A Little Brighter) had a bit too much strings to resonate and made an impact. This however, is a totally different beast. It’s called Taste of Silver. And I like what it’s doing to my subwoofer.

Only need one more link for my chain

So I spent a lovely, lovely weekend in Groningen these last days. Besides catching up with friends I also experienced a lovely evening full of music. First, my good friend Mischa opened the night with Patrick, who then went on to perform with Harry Bird as Harry Bird & The Rubber Wellies.

A nice guy with a lovely stage presence full of warmth and beaming smiles, Harry Bird played a set full of folk songs that were catchier that made a lot of faces smile that evening – including mine. Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies released their full-length Long Way To Be Free which is available here (a new album is in the works, apparently). Here’s one song with a lovely stop-motion video, called Ain’t got far to go.

And here’s a live performance where you can get a glimpse of the stage presence I was talking about. And the song is darn catchy too!

So hope you like his work. I do.

Talking about iOS 5

Back in the days when I was teacher I dealt with difficult audiences on a daily basis. These days, I’m an editor / writer and speaking in public isn’t really part of my job description that much. That is rather disappointing since I like telling things to people that want to hear them.

That is why I’m happy to report that I will be leading a session / workshop on iOS 5 at the Dutch Apple-event iCreate Live 2011 in Amsterdam on October 1st. Apple’s new mobile operating system hasn’t been released yet, but that isn’t stopping me from presenting my findings in lecture format. Tickets are available NOW at www.icreatelive.nl. The talk will be in Dutch, however, I hope that’s okay with you? See you there!

 

 

Waiting to sail your worries away

I watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang a lot when I was young. It was already ancient (compared to me at least) when I was young, but my uncle put in on a VHS-tape for me along with a musical Disney film that was certainly less awesome (it didn’t have a flying car, which I thought was a neat idea). I was happy to find out that one of my favourite authors – Roald Dahl – worked on the script. I didn’t know that back then, of course.

I haven’t really listened to the songs since I last watched the film. Since, I’ve doubled in size and age if I’m correct. But hearing Richard Hawley and Lisa Hannigan cover the lovely Hushabye Mountain, brings back fond memories of the film (that probably hasn’t aged well, special effects-wise).

Normally, I’m not Hawley’s biggest fan. His music and voice just never hit the right spot here. I’m not sure why. But this is excellent and I think Hawley’s on even better form than Hannigan here (whose name made me watch the video in the first place). It’s an excellent performance from the Irish show Other Voices. Lovely.