Tag Archives: music

Jordan Rudess on Developing for Android vs. iOS

Phil Simon: Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess Talks Music Apps: “There are so many people out there with Android, and I know that it’s a really good system. Personally, I’ve had some problems with it — and that’s why I took so long to get into it and am not anxious to keep working on that platform. First, there’s been an inherent issue with the audio on Android, which has been frustrating to a lot of developers. When you touch the screen to play a sound, there’s a delay, which destroys the reality of the musical experience. It’s a latency issue. Obviously the people in charge of Android’s release overlooked this. It’s a problem that’s definitely preventing some of the music developers I know from wanting to create apps for the platform.

The other problem with Android is, as far as I’m concerned, that the systems aren’t set up to allow for a solid business. Android piracy is rampant. For example, we put out a really cool Android version of MorphWiz Play (even better and easier to use than the one on iOS). But, according to the numbers coming back to our company, it’s being ripped off right and left. Android employees need to create a system that’s fairer to developers.”

(Via huffingtonpost.)

But Android is winning, right?

People think the details don’t matter. But they do. It’s not just about iPhone vs. Galaxy whatever. People say “who cares?” when I talk about how much smoother and responsive scrolling is on the iPhone. Well, here’s a perfect example of why cutting down on latency is extremely important. 

And don’t get me started on the App Store vs. the Android Marketplace. It wasn’t easy to make the App Store a place where both customers and developers could make out well. But that good balance makes all the difference, and it’s obvious when you try and find a good app on the Android Marketplace.

I love all of Jordan’s apps. Love that musicians are finding more and more innovative ways to create music with technology. And I’m happy that he can make some extra bucks on the side from building quality apps. His experience with Android is the reason most of us never bother trying to write an app for Android and probably never will. 

I’ve never liked Lady GaGa. Now I have even more reason not to like her.

And that’s it. As of this posting, I still don’t know specifically what kind of problem she has with the song (obviously I take a few jabs at her, but y’know, it’s satire – that’s how it’s supposed to work). And I’m especially confused as to why she waited until I actually recorded the song (at her insistence!) before saying no. It’s not like there were any surprises in the finished song that she couldn’t have foreseen by, you know, READING THE LYRICS.

A conventional release for the song and video would have also raised a nice chunk of change for the HRC – an organization which I have to assume Gaga supports. Hopefully, if fans enjoy hearing the song online, they’ll make a donation anyway.

My parodies have always fallen under what the courts call “fair use,” and this one was no different, legally allowing me to record and release it without permission. But it has always been my personal policy to get the consent of the original artist before including my parodies on any album, so of course I will respect Gaga’s wishes. However, given the circumstances, I have no problem with allowing people to hear it online, because I also have a personal policy not to completely waste my stinking time.

Seriously. Here’s a tip for all pop culture icons everywhere. Being parodied by the Simpsons or especially Weird Al is how you know you’ve made it to the pinnacle of pop culture in America. It’s an honor. It’s one of the highest honors, in fact, that you can receive as an “artist.” If you don’t understand that, then get out of the business and go flip burgers at McDonald’s or something. You’re taking yourself waaaaaaaaay to seriously.

Maybe, just maybe, GaGa has a legit reason for saying no to this song. If that’s the case, then have the balls to tell him to his face. And tell him BEFORE HE RECORDS IT, at YOUR REQUEST. Not after he incurs the expense and already agrees to donate all the profits from the song to A CHARITY YOU SUPPOSEDLY SUPPORT.

What a loser.


Update: Seems the decision has been reversed. According to Weird Al, Lady GaGa’s manager had made the decision without informing her. Once she heard the song herself, the manager apologized, and GaGa’s official “blessing” was granted. Which means the song will appear on Weird Al’s new CD, and the proceeds will still go to HRC. Well done, Miss GaGa. I still don’t like your music, but at least you were smart enough to make this right. 

Ping: Interesting, but who knows?

So Apple threw its hat into the social networking ring yesterday. I signed up, of course, just to see what it was all about.  

The jury is still out on this one for me, but there were a few things I immediately liked:

No browser. I almost never log in to my Facebook account from my computer. Unless someone asks me a direct question, or I want to check out a photo that someone tagged of me. I never go to the Twitter web site, either. I do, however, use Twitter all day long on my phone, my iPad, and in Tweetie for Mac. To me, browsers are for browsing. Literally everything else is better suited to a real app. So the fact that Ping happens in iTunes on the Mac and on my phone is perfect for me.

Sign up was super simple. Apple already has my info, thanks to my iTunes account. So there was literally nothing to do to get signed up, except to agree to sign up.

Privacy. Couldn’t be easier. Either I let anyone follow me, I approve all followers, or I don’t let anyone follow me. That’s it. Three choices. Pick one.

Look and feel. It’s not an ugly web site. It’s iTunes, which is familiar. (iTunes may not be Apple’s prettiest user interface, but it’s Helen of Troy compared to Twitter and Facebook.) The look borrows just enough from the iTunes music store to be easy and familiar. It’s also fairly snappy. Navigating around is about a thousand times easier than a Facebook page.

It’s limited to music only. I actually think this is an advantage. There are certainly things missing in Ping, but I appreciate that Apple isn’t trying to do everything at once here. This is a place to discuss old and discover new music, and nothing more. That’s refreshing, in the way that Twitter is all about the 140 characters and nothing more. Facebook has turned into a convoluted mess.

I found a few friends and a few artists I liked somewhat easily. Most of my favorite artists weren’t signed up yet, of course. I assume that will change in time. But that did lead me to the bigger question:

Is Apple the right company to be doing a social network?

Apple likes control, and it likes to guard secrets about new products. Those are two things that don’t mix with a social network.

One of my friends on Twitter quipped that Apple must think we all like Lady Gaga, because it was suggesting that we follow her. The system should be able to analyze our libraries and pick artists we’re more likely to want to follow, in other words. But that wasn’t the reason why Ping suggested Lady Gaga. It suggested Lady Gaga because she was one of only a handful of artists it could suggest. Apple wanted to keep the details of Ping a secret before yesterday, so they only told a few choice artists about it, just to have some content out of the gate. The price for that secrecy was a bunch of people signing up on day one with few people to follow.

That need for secrecy led to a sour experience for some people, right out of the gate.

As I watched Steve unveil Ping I immediately thought that it would be a good service for artists. What a great way for them to get the word out about their music. Be active on Ping, develop a reputation, have a lot of people like your work, and that will most definitely lead to more sales. You’d have to be a bonehead not to sign up and spend a little time on Ping if your music is sold on iTunes.

I also saw how Ping would obviously lead to more revenue for Apple, as the iTunes store was likely to benefit from all those extra links. In the end, this is all about money, and that’s fine. As long as the benefits to the rest of us are great enough.

But I’m not completely convinced of Ping’s benefits to the rest of us. Sure, I can follow my friends, see what they’re listening to, and find a lot of new music. But that assumes I like the same music a lot of my friends do. And that’s not a safe assumption.

I have a few friends with similar tastes, but most of my friends listen to crap, to be honest. And they probably think what I listen to is crap. So where does that leave us?

I could limit my “circle of friends” on Ping to just those who share my musical tastes. But how are my other friends going to feel about that? Chances are, as with Facebook, I’m going to follow them out of guilt and just let them spew nonsense all over my recent activity. Which means Ping will end up being yet another service where I have to wade through a sea of uninteresting garbage to get to the one or two good recommendations I want.

Ideally, Ping would analyze my iTunes library, find others with similar tastes, and recommend just those people for me to follow. I don’t want to follow my friends; I want to follow other fans of what I like.

I also don’t like that I can’t really just start a conversation about something at random on Ping. I can “like” an album or song and then comment on that, or I can find an album or track and “Post” on it, in which case I suppose I can ask a question like: “Does anyone have this new Pat Metheny recording? What do you think of it?” But everything revolves around those iTunes store links. I can’t ask what people think about Pat Metheny in general, ask when his new tour will kick off, etc., without tying it to an iTunes link. It’s inconvenient, and a bit pushy, if you ask me.

So I’ll keep my eye on Ping. And I’ll of course check it out when I’m looking for some new music. And I’ll try to follow my favorite artists, so that I know when their new stuff is coming out. But Apple has to add more to this musical conversation before I’ll be convinced whether or not it’s going to take flight.

We’ve seen a lot of social networks fail in the last few years. Maybe the world really doesn’t need more than Facebook and Twitter. Maybe that’s all the distraction we can handle.

I think Apple is right to try and make something work here, considering the captive audience of iTunes users it has at its disposal. They have to protect their dominance of the online music world, after all. But I fear that they are getting into this more out of a sense that they HAVE to, rather than because they want to. They can make this happen, but it’s going to take some more thought.

Pink Floyd showing their age

Indeed, as EMI has discovered, that still appears to be the case, at least when it comes to Pink Floyd. The High Court ordered EMI to pay £40,000 in court costs with the possibility of future damages and EMI may have to pull Pink Floyd’s individual offerings from places like the iTunes Store and Amazon MP3. (As of this writing, the albums with per-track purchases were still available. Get ‘em while they’re hot.) In addition, EMI must pay Pink Floyd an undisclosed amount in royalty payments.

This doesn’t mean they wouldn’t become available again as full-album purchases, though—iTunes, for example, regularly offers albums that have one or two tracks that only come with a full album purchase. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Dark Side of the Moon come back to iTunes with every track marked “Album only.”

Hey, I love Pink Floyd as much as the next guy, and I can’t fathom why anyone would want to buy just one of their songs, rather than listening to the whole album in context. But sorry, guys. This is going to end up being a poor business choice.

I almost always buy full albums on the iTunes Store. But I know I’m in the minority on that. The vast minority.

It just seems like a stupid move, to deny people the chance to own just that one song they like. But maybe there is something noble in the way they are standing on principle.

It’s important to consider WHY the album has died a slow death over the past decade or two. It has little to do with services like iTunes and Amazon MP3 selling individual tracks. That was a necessary REACTION to the death of the Album as a format.

No, the real reason the Album died is that record companies started pushing out albums full of junk from bands that only had one or two good songs to offer. They searched for the lowest common denominator in the pursuit of profits, as always. And people got fed up with it.

Pink Floyd, of course, can’t be accused of contributing to that phenomenon; they certainly didn’t write a bunch of “filler songs” to surround the one hit. But despite being the victims here, they are, nevertheless, selling music in the reality of that new market. Fighting this is just going to make it easier for haters to call them greedy.