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I want a better music experience

Once upon a time, iTunes represented the future of music consumption.  Apple’s desktop app was nimble, good looking and did everything I needed it to without any hassle.

Those were the good old days.

Today iTunes is a giant piece of bloatware that works about half the time, while often taking 5-10 minutes to start because it has to re-scan my entire local library for some insane reason.  After thoroughly looking at the competition, I’m sad to report there are no alternatives that do any better.  Everything else is either half-baked (like Google Music), has crappy UI (like Spotify) or WOULD be perfect were it not for one key feature missing (lookin’ at you Rdio).

All I’m asking for is

  1. A Windows desktop app…
  2. That displays large album art, at least 600 x 600 pixels worth
  3. With a 3-5 star rating system
  4. Utilizing a clean, modern user interface
  5. That manages my local music library
  6. And doesn’t over-heat my computer or hog half of my resources

Currently this does not exist.

Which is strange considering how much talent these companies employ.  It’s equally strange that so little time or care has been put into emphasizing the visual component of music.  With many music fans living in two and three screen environments, there’s a huge opportunity to put album art and related artist imagery front and center, enhancing the overall consumption experience.  Instead we get crappy players with tiny artwork and nothing else.

I can’t be alone in this, and I would hope someone, somewhere would see it as a business opportunity for either an existing service or something new.

You’ll know where to find me when you have it.

In case you’re wondering….

No, none of the existing streaming services offer matching for my entire catalog.  In fact, at least 30% of my albums haven’t been added to any of them yet.

And no, I’m never in a position to have consistent 24/7 wireless or data network access.  Local management is still a total must.

Yes, all you WinAmp fanboys and girls, I’ve tried it.  I loathe it.  It was popular in 1999 and the UI has hardly changed at all since then.  Call me high class, but I’d prefer my media consumption to look like it came from some time in the last 5 years.

I’m using Windows 7, so I can’t download the X-Box Music player.

Great artists don’t steal, they INFLUENCE

Good artists copy, great artists steal.  - Pablo Picasso

I’ve always hated this quote.  It’s a surprising thing for an artist of Picasso’s caliber to say.  It’s equally annoying when guys like Steve Jobs parrot it, as though its some kind of tech-hipster credo.

In both cases, the quote takes what should be a call for artists to create quality, unique work and turns it inside out, telling artists “be just like the other guy, we’ll think you’re clever.”  Sometimes it provides lazy artists the chance to hide behind something.

Sometimes it gives uninspired artists validation for their work, however having been one of these from time to time I’d rather err on the side of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery (thank you Charles Caleb Colton).   And with that we get to what great artists really do - influence.

Think of the last time you were truly inspired to create something.  Chances are, that inspiration was the direct result of taking in something you absolutely loved.  You wanted to put something into the world that made others feel as good as you felt.  That’s the creative process at its most pure and effortless state, and that influence is what makes an artist great.

Even if you don’t chase the urge to create yourself, you may want to consume more from an inspiring artist.  There’s a reason certain things acquire a loyal, passionate (and often profitable) audience.  There’s a reason certain artists take great pains to be unique and authentic and try hard not to compromise their vision.  

When artists are encouraged to believe simply copying someone else is enough, they give up on being influencers.  They give up on being great.

False starts and celebrating “the last”

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved starting projects.  Many of these starts had finishes. Many others didn’t or instead had false starts, only to find themselves back in the big bag of “what if?” As I’ve grown older I’ve come to rely on the energy and excitement that “starting” can bring. Its addictive and fuels the other parts of my life. Perhaps the same is true for you?

But here’s the dirty secret about starting. You can’t possibly know how long your passion for something will last. You can make an educated guess, but you can’t know for sure.

This is made worse when we find every possible way to celebrate the start. We throw a party when two people get married. We send a congratulatory note to someone starting medical school, or a new job or a creative pursuit. As a result we’re left with a world littered with countless ideas, projects, businesses and relationships started but never finished.

What if we spent as much time and energy recognizing and celebrating those things that last? Really stop and think about the last time you did that for yourself or for your friends/family.

Which brings me to this blog, which I’ve started at least a dozen times over the years. This was due to any number of reasons, but if I’m honest with myself, it always came down to getting another “starters high.”

This post marks a new start and a fresh perspective.  With any luck I’ll be here a year from now celebrating the last.

Can you be efficiently creative?

I’d like to think so.  But there are times when I need to be creative and can’t without being incredibly IN-efficient.  Other times, I become more creative because I’m in an incredibly organized and efficient mood.  Try as I may, I can’t ever seem to find a happy balance.

When does creativity need to be efficient?  When does efficiency damage the creative process?

Look For The Novel

Flying Machine

While out on my nightly stroll, it occurred to me that it has been almost 8 years since the idea of a podcast was introduced.  I was in Nashville when I first heard the term, and was delighted to discover what it meant.  From that point on, I could download audio content and listen to it anytime, anywhere I wanted.  Additionally, I (as just some joe schmo sitting in his apartment) could produce and distribute radio-quality content and have it reach MORE people than a radio station ever could.  I remember distinctly thinking “this is awesome and this is going to be the future!”

But I also remember what almost everyone else thought (and said) at the time: “what a novel idea…..” Continue reading

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