Monday, November 10, 2014

Listening to Podcasts.

By the time Howard Stern left the regular radio at the end of 2005 I was already listening to my iPod for both music and the newly emerged medium of Podcasting. My car radio was with me for the two hours every day that I drove to work and it now acted as a playback device entirely. I didn't bother with CDs since my 30GB iPod had a large chunk of my favorite music and I also would use it to sync new Podcast episodes from my computers iTunes almost daily before driving.

Three years later my iPod was replaced with an iPhone 3G but the syncing ritual was the same. Within a couple of years Podcast Apps started to come out for the iPhone.  Some good, some not. I tried several over the years.

  • The Podcasts App from Apple had a rough start but is better today. (And is now included by default in iOS 8.) It syncs across your devices with iCloud and is free so that's an easy way to get started.
  • Instacast is one that I liked for years (until my current favorite came out) and aside from a few glitches a few years back has always worked well.
  • My current Podcast listening App is Overcast. It's free, but spend the money on the in App purchase it offers to get the best out of it. 
What made Overcast my current favorite is the things that it can do with audio. I listen to several different shows of varying audio quality and episode length. Some of the less professional podcasters use poor microphones, bad mic technique or don't know how to correctly use a compressor to even out volumes. Overcast's Voice Boost feature fixes many of those. Some of my favorite shows have lot's of dead air when the host or guest are thinking about what to say next or the Skype connection they are using to speak remotely causes a delay. (That's one of the reasons I would use the 1.5 times (sometimes 2x) playback speed.) Overcast has a playback feature that can, in real time, cut out dead air. That feature has saved me a full days worth of dead air time!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Patronage in music history and present.

Sometime around 2005 I was a member of the Nine Inch Nails fan club. One of the benefits of paying  for the fan club (in addition to shirts, posters and advance concert tickets) was the forums that Trent Reznor would sometimes pop in to chat.

He would occasional offer his opinion on this or that or ask a question or two of the community. One of those questions has stuck in my mind for a long time.

He asked the forum members about how music might continue to be a profession given that the internet had begun to collapse the music industry and how could artists continue to make art in the future. My contribution to the conversation was that we could return to more of a patronage model as had existed before records (and sheet music printing before it) allowed for a "music business". My thought was that the members of the NIN fan club would be happy to pay the same yearly fees to support the creation of the art itself rather then the supporting materials that it generated. It worked for classical music and musicians, why not for us in an era where music is listened to and loved more then ever.

Sadly he didn't try it, but he has tried a lot of different ways and has thankfully kept making music. (He even release a free record as a thank you for his fans continuing support.)

So if NIN didn't go the patronage route why the hell am I bringing this up?

Because while NIN didn't, others have begun to embrace patronage as a way forward to support not only music, but all the creative arts.

Learn more about Patreon in their FAQ or watch these short videos.

So basically what I'm saying is, THE INTERNET IS AWESOME!