Why Beats Music wins at branding

You’ve probably heard of Beats Music by now. A subscription-only music streaming app launched this week by Beats Electronics (Dr. Dre’s headphones company), Beats Music is expected to give mostly-free services like Spotify and Pandora, as well as other subscription-based music apps like Rhapsody and Rdio, a run for their (possibly non-existent) money. Lately the music streaming category has experienced massive growth given changing paradigms in the way that people listen to, access, and discover music. Still, we’ve yet to see a “big player” break through. No one’s truly figured out how to make such a business model work. With Beats Music, though, it looks like Dr. Dre is on a mission to change that. His celebrity status and the star-studded crew behind him will certainly be an advantage.

Beats Music

Now, I’ve never been a regular Spotify or Pandora user, and I’ve never even considered subscribing to something like Rdio or Rhapsody. When it comes to music, I’m a bit of a control freak and can’t stand not choosing songs for myself. Like, it even makes me nervous to turn on iTunes shuffle even though it plays stuff that I’ve hand picked to go into my own music library. I have to be the one curating my playlist from song to song, and I’m not going to let some weird, impersonal algorithm do it for me.

But we might as well scratch all that, because Beats Music has my undivided attention — and not just because it’s been all over the news recently. Continue reading

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My top albums of 2013

Turning on a brand spankin’ new album for the first time — especially a new release coming from one of your favorite artists — has got to be one of the best feelings. 2013 definitely did not disappoint on that front. Whether I’d been waiting for the album for years or I was just checking out a hyped-up artist that I’d never listened to before, this year I was pretty much in a constant state of excitement about all the new music gracing the world. Here’s a rundown of my favorite albums released in 2013.
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When indie music meets advertising

I was really pleased to see this long-form article, “How Selling Out Saved Indie Rock,” on Buzzfeed the other day. It explores the intersection of my two favorite industries — advertising and music — and although it’s admittedly pretty biased and I wouldn’t go so far as to say that selling out saved indie rock (as the article’s sensationalized title suggests), I agree with it for the most part. Basically, the piece is about how indie artists, struggling to make a living amid plummeting record sales, are increasingly turning their songs over to be used in commercials. The indie music community has traditionally balked at the thought of selling out to the corporate world of consumerism, but nowadays, it’s a little more complicated. As in, it’s become more accepted that ‘you gotta do what you gotta do,’ and getting a song in a commercial can be a big break for a lot of these artists. Signing a licensing deal with an ad agency is no longer considered an artistic compromise to the extent it used to be.
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Some picks for end-of-fall listening

I’ve been so busy blogging over at Sound Of Boston (we just debuted the new domain/site design!) that I haven’t kept up my posting here, so I thought I’d put together a short list of some awesome jams. I didn’t mean for this post to have a theme, but all of these songs pretty much fall under the genres of electronic or electro-pop, so I’m just gonna roll with it and call it a day. I’ll be covering a different genre or two next time!   

“36″ by Kwes

Honestly, I’m not fully convinced that this guy isn’t James Blake. The vocal similarities between the two are uncanny. Same accent, same inflection, same dripping soulfulness. I almost feel bad comparing them because one, it’s lazy, and two, Kwes is probably really sick of being called “James Blake-esque.” But at the same time, these guys are playing in the same space, and it’s going to be hard for Kwes to break free from that label, no matter how talented he is. Comparisons aside, though, this song absolutely rules.
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Albums I listened to this summer and loved (but also some that I didn’t)

As I near the end of my annual “Summer Listening” checklist and get ready to go back to school next week, I thought it’d be appropriate to do a quick round up of stuff I listened to over the past three months and liked… or didn’t like. Womp womp.

In total, I listened to almost 100 albums for the first time this summer. I’m pretty sure that’s my new personal record!!! I tried to focus on new releases, but naturally a lot of older albums snuck into the mix too. So that you don’t have to spend 100 hours of your life sifting through music like I just did, here’s a list of some of the best albums I heard. All selections are alphabetized by artist. To listen to the tracks I recommended, just click the song titles!
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