Category Archives: Product Review

Beats Music — A Music Streaming Service With Soul

Beats MusicSince signing up for the Beats Music app last month, I’ve experienced a boost in music knowledge, a renewed passion for music discovery, and an ability to connect with artists, producers, audio engineers, industry tastemakers, and friends in a way never realized with other music streaming services.

First thing’s first,–let’s get this out of the way. Some of you may know that I’m employed by the company I’m writing about today. But hear me out. I work for Beats Music because they provide a service I believe in. And I write this blog to share my beliefs with you. Besides, you and I both know Blue House Records doesn’t pull the kind of web traffic to get paid for this kind of thing (womp womp).

So what follows is an honest review of a music streaming service that I believe is changing the game, and I hope you’ll take the time to learn about it. Beats Music has helped me become a better musician, engineer and music professional. Here’s how:

Music Discovery Engage!
I listen to a lot of music, and I love it. It’s no surprise — my job revolves around music, and so do most of my hobbies. But I recently found myself at a crossroads. I had hit a music discovery dead end prior to subscribing to Beats Music. I was a subscriber to several music streaming services at the time, with thousands of songs that I had painstakingly arranged in an obsessive fashion — playlists compiled from years of research, experience, and exposure to the music industry. But even after all this work, I was still missing out on a crucial part of listening to music: discovering new stuff. As a musician, audio engineer, and music industry dude, I needed to stay up on the new and a desire to rediscover the classic tracks of the past. I needed a change.

Enter Beats Music. With scary accurate recommendations on the “Just For You” page, Beats Music suggested artists and albums I’d never considered listening to, and curated playlists full of new and old school jams that felt like I had handpicked it.

These curated playlists, built by real life music experts housed at the Beats Music HQ, are a great way to dive into new genres, eras, and music styles. “Intro To” playlists provide an overview of an artist’s best work, giving you a quick and easy way to listen to an artist’s most popular work. “Deep Cuts” provides a look at the obscure tracks, great for the die hard fans who get sick of hearing singles repeated every day on the radio.

cropped-gedc0951.jpgGimme That Background Info!
Discovering new music is about more than hearing new songs. It’s also about getting to know the artists behind the music. Beats Music goes a long way to help listeners learn about the artists, composers, and producers they’re listening to. Whether you’re an audio engineer interested in the technical aspects of the music, an artist interested in influences and song writing style, or a fan who likes to stay informed — Beats Music offers an extensive resource for connecting the dots between artist history, music styles, influences, and bodies of work. For instance, here’s an excerpt as seen on the album page for Brothers, a 2010 release by the Black Keys:

“Retreating from the hazy Danger Mouse-fueled pot dream of Attack & Release, the Black Keys headed down to the legendary Muscle Shoals, recording their third album on their own and dubbing it Brothers.

Sonically, that scuffed-up spaciness — the open air created by the fuzz guitars and phasing, analog keyboards, and cavernous drums — is considerably appealing, but the Black Keys’ ace in the hole remains the exceptional songwriting that Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are so good at. They twist a Gary Glitter stomp into swamp fuzz blues, steal a title from Archie Bell & the Drells but never reference that classic Tighten Up groove, and approximate a slow ‘60s soul crawl on “Unknown Brother” before following it up with a version of Jerry Butler’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and it’s nearly impossible to tell which is the cover.” ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

This is brilliant for two reasons: a) I’m discovering great new music everyday that I would have never come across otherwise, and b) I’m being exposed to the stories, and details behind the music — real music literature that connects fans and artists alike on an awesome level.

Beastie Boys: Deep CutsDon’t Get Played Out – “Deep Cuts”
For the curious listeners, the die hard fans, those looking for more depth, these playlists contain the gems not heard on your local radio station, a collection of tracks that show another side of the artists you love. My first exposure to this feature was the Beastie Boys: Deep Cuts playlist, mixing old school goods with the more recent jams that flow seamlessly from beginning to end.

Jack White: Influences“Yo Jack White, Who Ya Listening To?”
What influence did punk music have on The Strokes? Where did M83 pull that massive 80s pop/synth sound from? What folk music should I listen to if I want to figure out where Jack White gets his riffs and songwriting style? “Influences” playlists provide these answers and more, giving the listener a comprehensive look into what made our favorite artists who they are.

Forget Singles, We Want Albums!
An album is a musical story, with a beginning, a climax, and an end. Twists and turns that spark your emotions, provoke your thoughts, connect with you in a unique way. The digital revolution brought more focus to the single, removing much of the heart and soul that generations of years past enjoyed through vinyl, cassette tape, and CD. Many of us have fallen into this trap, accepting what is given to us from top 40 radio stations, nightclubs, TV, restaurants, and everything in between. We’ve been missing out on the depth and emotion inherent in the full-length album.

Beats Music has designed a platform that offers the functionality and selectivity of other services, the ability to select from “Top Songs” and singles as you wish, but also encourages the listener to enjoy music from a broader spectrum. The “About” section tends to focus more on the core concept and style of an album. The artist’s cover artwork is visible throughout as you scroll through artist pages. Most full-length albums have a unique and thought-provoking story behind them. And maybe most notable, the “Essentials” feature provides a look into the records that changed the game for certain artists; what Nevermind did for Nirvana, what Reasonable Doubt did for JAY Z, and what Under The Table And Dreaming did for Dave Matthews Band.

The Music Industry 411
Beats Music is more than a streaming service — it’s a music company from top to bottom, founded by legendary producer and entrepreneur Jimmy Iovine and hip-hop icon Dr Dre, headed by CEO Ian Rogers (Beastie Boys, Topspin Media). Throw in a creative team led by award winning musician and composer Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails, The Social Network) and you’ve got a house full of music heads.

These folks know their stuff, and realize the importance of putting the fans and the artists first. For example, Beats Music is the only streaming service out there that pays independent artists the same as the majors — one of the many ways Beats Music adds confidence and a sense of pride to the music streaming business. This cohesive goal is part of what motivated me to move out of the agency, promoter and management world and join Beats Music.

How To Sign Up!
Interested listeners can sign up for a free 7-day trial by heading over to www.beatsmusic.com. AT&T users are eligible to receive an extended trial. More info available here: www.beatsmusic.com/pricing

Have you had a similar experience with music streaming services? Have you tried Beats Music? Hit me up with any questions or comments; I would love to hear your feedback.

Keep it funky,
TAT

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TicketMob — Own Your Live Event Data, Engage More Fans, and Sell More Tickets

 

http://www.ticketmob.com/

Our friends at TicketMob are doing some big things in events and ticketing management.  Far ahead of the game, TicketMob brings an enhanced social media experience, a seamless event management platform,  and several CRM and loyalty tools to help pinpoint and reward your most valued fans.  A great tool for box office managers, promoters, and live event professionals.

Connect with them here to discover how TicketMob can help you manage your venue and ultimately sell more tickets!

www.ticketmob.com

Headphone Review — In-Ear, On-Ear, and Over-Ear

There are too many options to choose from when buying a new set of headphones.  We wanted to share with you a few of our favorite products to potentially help narrow down your search, cause we care.  We care about your ears.  You’re welcome.

In-Ear Headphones

We’ve seen the life and death of several in-ear headphone models.  A durable headphone is vital when you’re always on the run.  But of course, we’re always looking out for the best audio quality available.  We recommend the Klipsch S series in-ears.  You can buy a pair of S4i’s for $99 on Amazon here.  The highs are crisp, the mids cut through, and there’s just enough bass to fill the low end.  

Klipsch Image S4i Rugged - Red All Weather In-Ear Headphones

Klipsch Image S4i Rugged – Red All Weather In-Ear Headphones

We opted for the Rugged model, which boasts the following features for awesome outdoor abuse:

  • All weather design resists moisture and functions thru extreme elements
  • Ruggedized with tough rubber moldings
  • X-large 3-button remote for easy control during outdoor activity

The only con we can think of is they are not quite as loud as some of the Sennheiser, the Sony, and the Bose In-Ears of the past, but they make up in functionality, durability, and style!  Gotta look good…

On-Ear Headphones

This is an easy one.  Gotta go with our friends at LSTN Headphones.  We received a pair of Cherry Wood Fillmores earlier this year, and fell in love at first listen.  The cherry wood casing adds a unique acoustic quality to the sound, warming up the mids and adding clarity at the same time!  Plus, you get a great bass tone without the “blowing out your eardrums” effect you get with some powered headphones.  “WHAT?!?  Sorry, I can’t hear you because I’ve been blowing my ears out.”

Cherry Wood Fillmores

Cherry Wood Fillmores

Also, the compactable (word?) design makes them great for on-the-go listening.  Just fold them up, throw them in the included travel bag, and head out to catch your flight, road trip, library, whatever you crazy kids do.  Whippersnappers.

Did we mention it’s all for a GREAT cause?  Proceeds from your purchase go to LSTN charity partners for the deaf, helping to restore hearing for children in need.  Pretty awesome, right?  Pick up a pair for just $100, a great buy at this price point.

Over-Ear Headphones

Being pro audio folks, we get serious when it comes to over-ear headphones.  We spend a lot of hours with over-ears, so they have to be good.  Comfort is important, clarity of sound, and a flat, frequency response.  We’ve tried most of the major brands, the Audio Technicas, the Shures, the Sennheisers, Sonys, AKG.  You can spend upwards of $600 or more on studio headphones.  We don’t do that.  $100 will buy you a nice pair of pro audio phones.  The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is a solid choice for pro audio, with great noise cancellation and a good bit of low end response.  We tend to throw a pair of HD 280’s in the vocal booth to ensure no audio, other than the vocal itself, leaks into the microphone.  But as much as we like the Sennheisers for tracking, we tend to reach for the Shure SRH440 to mix our sessions.

Shure SRH440 Professional Studio Headphones

Shure SRH440
Professional Studio Headphones

The SRH440 model brings a flat frequency response with strong mids and a crystal clear high end to tame the unpleasant nuances.  Comfortable and lightweight, the Shure SRH440’s are great for hours spent mixing in the studio, or maybe to block out Dad’s singing on that long roadtrip to Wally World.  The Shure does lack a bit of low end bass response, but that’s what monitors and a subwoofer are for!  We typically use the SRH440 to reference guitars, vocals, overheads and other instruments that exceed the 150Hz range before switching to our studio monitors to zero in on the bass instruments.  Many of our engineer confidants ask to use our Shure phones when we visit their studios.  We be like “stop stealing our headphones” and they be like “no”.

Thanks and please let us know if you have any questions at all.  Sign up for our email newsletter here and never miss another blog post from Blue House Records.

Keep it funky,
TAT