Category Archives: Apple

Step By Step MP3 Distribution Project

Before I started producing dance music I used to strut my stuff as the lead singer of an alternative rock band called the Fruit Eating Bears, who’s main claim to fame seemed to be the ‘unpredictable’ nature of the live gigs (ie: things tended to depend a lot on how much we’d been drinking that day). We also discovered another Fruit Eating Bears which meant we had to ditch the name as well.

In our rare sober moments we got a bit of a following in our local area of South Yorkshire, UK, played the legendary Bull and Gate in Kentish Town, London, appeared on Gary Crowley’s Radio London show, Demo Clash and even had (the then) Phonogram Record company A&R guy ringing us.

Uptempo Tantrum EP The Buzzsonic

Getting to the point a little, we recorded a four track EP which never saw the light of day but which we have decided to get uploaded to iTunes to see how things go. So, starting today the ‘Uptempo Tantrum EP’ experiment begins. We decided to use the band name, the Buzzsonic seeing as its the only thing we could think of that hadn’t already been used for a band.

I got a contact to design the cover (which looks pretty neat) and am signing up for distribution using Tunecore, whom I also used for my 99th Floor Elevators remix project release.

So, step one. Encode hi-bitrate MP3s from my CD master using the CDex Lame encoder, add tags and upload to Tunecore as we speak. Now to put together some kind of readable PR sheet!

To help the project with some much needed PR, one of the tracks, ‘Remember’ has been picked up by an independent film company for usage briefly in the film, ‘Behind The Scenes of Total Hell’. BTSOTH apparently gets it premier at the Curzon Cinema in London sometime next month and is the work of film maker Andy Wilton. I think the film is going straight to DVD but there’s supposed to be a CD tie in which should be good.

Related Reading

Fruit Eating Bears (MySpace)
Get Your MP3 Tags In Order (Wired.com)
Bob Bakers Indie Promotion Blog (Bob-Baker.com)
Cyber PR (Ariel Publicity)

Tunecore Give Indies Digital Distribution Lift

As a recording artist myself I’m always looking for new distribution outlets but so far I’ve been slow to exploit digital sales at all. Two mixes from my latest UK released 12 inch vinyl (yes they do still exist) single, ‘I’ll Be There’ are actually available at underground dance store Xpress Beats but with Apple’s iTunes store dominating 70-80% of the download market (depending on who you believe) its the one place you really want to be if you want to get in the online shop window.

tunecore offer deals for indies wnating in on the itunes bandwagon

I’ve been aware of digital music distribution aggregators for a while and have had a look around well known outlets like CD Baby and IODA so I was very interested in the news of newcomer TuneCore (tip via the essential Moses Avalon). Tunecore works much the same as most digital music aggregators in as much as they sign up artists and label content and place music on the all important download majors like iTunes, Napster and Rhapsody. The difference with Tunecore (FAQs here) is that there is no lengthy terms, no exclusivity and the killer for me, no percentage share of revenue (other outlets range from 8-15%).

There’s a very informative podcast interview with founder Jeff Price at the 75 Minutes blog which is well worth an hour of your time and needless to say Jeff is blogging about the whole thing here. I’ll be commenting further on this as we prepare to upload our first digital release to Tunecore very soon.

Founder Jeff Price is the owner of Spin Art Records other board members include the former head of RykoDisc, George Howard and Toolshed Inc. owner Dick Huey.

Related Reading

Digital Distributor Comparisons (MosesAvalon.com)
Back From Canadian Music Week (BradSucks.com)
Digital Music Report 2006-24 page PDF (IFPI.org)
Digital Music:Industry Answers (BBC News)
The Long Tail (Wired.com)
99th Floor Elevators (Floorelevators.com)
iTunes Outsells Traditional Music Stores (CNet News) Nov 21 2005
Apple Touts iTunes 80% UK Market Share (The Register) Sept 7 2005

Latest Free iLounge iPod Book Released

I’ve mentioned the free iLounge iPod book download here before (when iLounge.com was still called iPodlounge.com). Well this week the iPod gadget website released the latest version of ‘The Free iPod Book’, (Version 2.2) which Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg recommended as the “free manual on getting the most from your iPod.”

The latest edition boasts 200 plus pages covering everything you could possibly imagine related to Apple’s iPod and iTunes and is available as a higher-res printable PDF or lower-res monitor friendly PDF download.

the new ilounge ipod book boasts 200 pages and is available as a free PDF download

You can find a fuller description on the iLounge website here but its a rare thing on the internet, a freebie which carries more value than many paid downloads, whatever the category. Brilliant.
Download

The Free iPod Book 2.2 (hi-res 21mb PDF) Print Version
The Free iPod Book 2.2 (lower-res 13MB PDF) Monitor Version

Related Links

The iLounge Library (iLounge.com)
iPod Hacks (iPodhacks.com)
iPod Hackaday (Hackaday.com)
iPod and iTunes Product Guide (PlaylistMag.com)

The Apple Store Of The Future?

Thanks to the Silicon Valley Good Morning daily newsletter for pointing us in the direction of this one.

There’s not enough people taking good humoured digs at po faced Apple as far as we’re concerned so it was great to see this parody mock-up ‘Apple Store of the Future’ on writer David McCandless’s homepage this week.

The Apple Macintosh store of the future perhaps?

McCandless was previously responsible for editing the Seethru website, a big favourite here during its heyday actually and the interactive half of the BBC2 / World Productions drama series, Attachments.

To satisfy Apple’s “slavering techno-fetishist followers” McCandless came up with an iStore front page complete with the iTug firewire masturbation machine, a 6ft x 3ft iPod Maxi and the Apple Mysteron, amongst others.

“The Apple Mysteron. Inexplicable brushed titanium box with a single, tiny green flashing light. Does nothing but looks great. Perfect talking piece for the living room or to put in the corner of an architect’s reception area.” Funniest site this year so far.

Related Links

iTunes iSbogus [DownhillBattle.org]
Our Mac Parody [Happynowhere.net]
Switch Gates [MacBoy.com]
JustOneMoreThing-Mac’N’Stuff-Steve Jobs’ Weblog [JustOneMoreThing.com]

BBC iPod Parody

UK TV writers David Wellington and Adrian Peters production firm Mantlepies were asked to come up with some sketches for comedian Armando Iannucci’s end of year TV show for the BBC, 2004: The Stupid Version.

A still from the iPod parody taken from the BBC show 2004-the Stupid Version
They came up with ‘iPod World’ a wry dig at the way the iPod is becoming ingrained into the fabric of society. 2004: The Stupid Version, was broadcast on BBC THREE, on New Year’s Eve. Its starting point is taking all the footage from the year and re-editing and re-voicing it to make it become something completely different.

Iannucci, talking on the BBC website said, “What’s been really heartening about making it was discovering lots of creative and funny people who do this sort of thing for a laugh, but in their homes or during the night in posh commercial editing suites. They then normally send these sorts of things out as virals on the internet.

What I wanted to do was bring some of them together and say to them, look, now you’ve got all the BBC’s resources at your disposal. If you need help, we’ll provide it. Don’t change what you do, just aim higher. And they did. I’ve always fiddled about with videotape anyway, so the programme was also an opportunity to get a few more of those jokes off my chest as well.”

View the clip here (in QuickTime .mov format) and grab it here (5.52MB) ( right click and save as-from Gizmodo).

Its Here, the iPod Shuffle Emerges

As predicted for a while now just about everywhere, Apple CEO Steve Jobs yesterday announced Apple Computer’s Flash memory based MP3 player, dubbed the iPod Shuffle.
Apple finally unveiled their entry into the Flash memory based MP3 player market with the iPod Shuffle, shown at the Mac World Expo in San Francisco
Unveiled for the first time at the Mac World Expo in San Francisco CEO Jobs said, “It is smaller than most packs of gum,” and, “It weighs about four quarters.”
The iPod Shuffle will sell for $99 and $149. Unlike other iPods, the Shuffle uses flash memory, rather than a miniature hard drive, to store songs and it is priced lower than many competing flash players with less memory than the 512 megabytes and 1 gigabyte Apple will include.

As predicted at MacMind over a month ago the unit comes without an LCD screen.
“Get this: NO SCREEN. Got a cellphone with one of those flat joysticks? This is apparently how you’ll get around on the screenless iPod.”
Like its big brother the hard disc drive iPod, the iPod Shuffle includes a navigation wheel. There’s also a slider on the back of the player that determines how tunes will be played. The first switch position tells the iPod shuffle to play songs from the beginning of the playlist to the end in orderm, one more notch and it will shuffle the songs on the device. The third position turns the device off.

Jobs told Conference goers, “With most flash-memory music players users must use tiny displays and complicated controls to find their music; with iPod shuffle you just relax and it serves up new combinations of your music every time you listen.”

Users can charge and transfer music from their Mac or PC by plugging iPod shuffle directly into a USB port. The Shuffle also doubles as a portable USB flash drive and comes with its own lanyard so you can wear the tiny player. Apple already have a number of accessories for the new iPod including an arm band, dock connector and sports case.

The players go on sale from today on the Apple website.

Related Reading

iPod Shuffle:First Impressions [PlaylistMag.com]
iPod Shuffle Sparks Stampede [Wired.com]
Apple Introduces iPod Shuffle [Yahoo Finance]
Apple Makes Tiny Steps for the Masses [Washington Post]
Apple: Jobs Unleashes Mini Mini Pod [Silicon.com]
Apple iPod Shuffle (512MB) [CNet Reviews]
Turn Any iPod into an iPod Shuffle in 3 Easy Steps! [Flickr.com]

Flash Memory Micro iPod Only A Day Away?

Geeks and electronic gadget fans attention will be shifting from Las Vegas to San Francisco tomorrow as the much anticipated Mac World Expo opens just 48 hours after gadget-fest Las Vegas ends.

Much of the anticipation surrounds the expected official announcement of a smaller Flash based memory version of the iPod which has already been much whispered and speculated about web wide (including here). I cant think of a portable device that has sprung up so many speculative DiY designs and gossip ever.

One of the hundreds of speculative designs for the awaited Micro sized iPod 'Micro' found at the iPodLounge

The MacMind website was the first one to actually post leaked mock-ups early last month. A few days ago Think Secret had even more information (from reliable ‘sources’) with claims that the device will be in 1 and 2GB sizes with the Flash memory module sourced from Samsung. Prices are said to be $149 for the 1 Gig player and $199 for the 2 Gig (which is said to have two mini Flash modules) with manufacturing already underway in Taiwan courtesy of Asustek.

The other much talked about device expected to be elaborated on at the San Francisco Expo (there was a sneak preview at CES) is the Motorola iTunes capable phone which has been the source of frantic debate almost as much as the Flash iPod.

Related Reading

iPod Flash Will Have a Screen? [Engadget.com]
The Chinese MP3 Invasion [MusicbizNews24.com]
Applele [Applele.com]
iPod Flash Player Revealed? [MusicbizNews24.com]
the Cult of Mac Blog [Wired Blogs]

iPod Flash Player Revealed?

We’re not sure where the rumors of a smaller, Flash based memory iPod emerged, though it was quite probably here last month on the Apple Insider website:

Apple Computer in December will begin manufacturing a third variant of its flagship iPod music player, which will be based on solid-state flash memory, AppleInsider has confirmed through well placed and extremely reliable sources.

Isamu Sanada's stunning hiPod Flash player mock up

Unofficial sources predict that the player will be officially revealed at next months MacWorld Expo in San Francisco, come in at under $200 retail and feature a storage capacity in the range of 256 MB to 1 Gig. No official confirmation from Apple itself and although they dominate the market for hard drive based players with something around 90% share, that share drops to 65% when flash models are included in the tally.

Last night MacMind were showing off ‘exclusive’ mock ups from insider information they’d gleamed from a reliable “anonymous tipster” and their site went into meltdown after it got ‘SlashDotted’ this morning. Its said to have no display and set to retail at $99. Anyway, we’re not convinced by the 3D mockups, the player actually looks more like a mouse.

We much prefer the classy looking mock up from Japanese designer and Mac addict Isamu Sanada on his Applele site. Thanks to the Cult of Mac blog for that lead.

Related Links

Rumored iPod Flash Leaked [Slashdot.org]
the Cult of Mac Blog [WiredBlogs]
Apple iPod Flash Said to Ship January [the Register]
Flash Gordon [Daring Fireball]
Bronfman Likes Telcos in iPod Race [theStreet.com]
the iPod Year in Review 2004 [iPodLounge.com]

iBoom Christmas For Apples iPod

Since Apple introduced the iPod digital audio music player in December 2001 the demand for the device has been nothing short of astonishing, now coming into peak Christmas gift buying time company experts estimate that Apple will shift close to two and three quarter million copies of the highly coveted portable player next month alone.
the iBoom GhettoBlaster for the iPod from DLO
Sales have climbed to 13.3million units up from the 9.5million mark a year ago and the Cupertino, California based company, despite being late to market currently boast close to a 80% share of the world market in hard disc drive based music players. Wall Street analyst Charles Wolf predicts that there will be 100 million iPod owners by the year 2008.

All kinds of companies are riding along on the crest of the wave too. Companies that provide the components, companies that sell after market accessories, add-ons and iPod clones. Major record labels, which at first failed to embrace the digital entertainment revolution are now aligning with legal digital music services with Apple’s iTunes currently sweeping ahead with a 70% market share of the paid download market.

Some of the major beneficiaries are makers of after market accessories like the iBoom ghettoblaster from Digital Lifestyle Outfitters. The enticing looking DLO iBoom is a 20-watt per channel, four-speaker boombox system with built-in digital FM radio. Users simply drop iPod or iPod mini into the iBoom dock, hit play and enjoy their music anytime and anywhere. The unit retails for $149.99.

Just as the black and beige look for the PC has become a running clique, anyone bored with the uniform white of the iPod can get a custom paint job on the unit at places like Minnesota based Colorware PC. And it seems the most interesting developments are happening away from Apple itself with a flourishing line of independent companies queing up to grab a share of the iPod boom. Online stores like Everything iPod will supply you with everything from a black jacket for the similar clad
U2 special edition iPod , a transmitter that’ll plug the iPod into your car stereo and an action jacket workout case that’ll attach the player to your arm.
the iPod Lounge 2004 , iPod Buyers Guide. Free PDF download
If you have trouble keeping track of everything thats around, leading independent iPod resource website iPod Lounge introduced an 80 page “2004 iPod Buyers Guide” at the beginning of the month. Its available as a free PDF download on the iPodLounge site and is also being distributed via peer to peer file sharing networks.

Related Links

iPod Gains Ghettoblaster Accessory [the Register]
the Superstore For Your iPod [EverythingiPod.com]
iPod and Apple [MLAgazine.com]
iPod Killers for Christmas 2004 [MP3Newswire.net]
All Things iPod [iPodLounge.com]
iPod Custom Painting [ColorwarePC.com]
iPod Sales Hit 23.5million by 2006-Analyst [MacWorld.co.uk]
The iPod Economy [Forbes.com]
iPod Buyers Guide (44pg free PDF download) [OverMused.com]
Apple Release iPod [Slashdot.org 2001]

iTunes Heading For Japan (But Not Just Yet)

The Nihon Keizai newspaper in Tokyo reported yesterday that Apple plans to start a music download service in Japan by March 2005 and aims to offer more than 100,000 songs with an emphasis on Japanese music at its iTunes Music Store, which is expected to be the largest music download service in Japan.

With two of the three international Apple Retail Store locations in Tokyo and Osaka leveraging the iPod in tandem, a Japanese iTunes Music Store seems a natural move though for a Japanese version of iTunes Music Store to work, however, Apple will need to be sensitive to the unique dynamics of the Japanese marketplace.

iTunes Heading For Japanese Launch
” In order to have a successful iTunes Music Store launch in Japan, Apple needs to provide Japanese consumers with a strong library of Japanese music from top Japanese record labels and pop stars,” commented Yankee Group senior analyst Mike Goodman recently on News Factor. Apple “can’t just translate its North American catalog to Japan,” Goodman continued. “They have to be sensitive to that market to succeed.”

Earlier in the year ITMS Japan met with opposition from a number of local music labels who claim that FairPlay is “inadequate” and refused to license their songs to Apple.

While Japanese companies are world leaders in making the gadgets that are driving the expansion of the online music business abroad, that business has been surprisingly slow to take off in Japan. Market leader Label Gate Co., funded by 18 major domestic recording companies, including heavyweights Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. and Avex Inc., launched a music download site called Mora this April and plans to expand its offerings to 150,000 songs from the current 70,000.

Apple will also face oppositon from several other Japanese download sites that have emerged in recent months and unlike Apple’s iTunes service, whose downloads can be burned onto CD-Rs, most downloads from the Japanese sites are copy-protected and cannot be copied onto CD-Rs. While a single download typically costs 99 cents (about 110 yen) from iTunes Japanese domestic download services typically charge at least 200 yen per song.

Another market ‘quirk’ typical in Japan is audio CD rental. Tsutaya is the largest chain of video stores in Japan. They operate ‘Culture Convenience Clubs’ where you can not only rent tapes and DVDs but also audio CDs. Last year the chains profits rose a massive 90% as the retail giant expanded to over 1100 stores and a signed up membership base of over 18 million.

According to reports, Apple executives recently visited Japan to discuss pricing and DRM parameters with major record companies in the country, including Avex Group Holdings Inc., Warner Music Japan Inc., and BMG Funhouse Inc. Apple is expected to price its a-la-carte downloads at a competitive 100 yen, beating other Japanese music services that charge between 150 to 350 yen per track. Apple has already sold 500,000 iPods in Japan, making the iTunes Music Store glaringly absent and prohibiting users from legally downloading digital songs for portable playback.

Related Reading

Canada to Get iTunes, Japan Next?
[NewsFactor.com]
Apple to Launch Download Service in Japan [CBS Marketwatch]
iTunes Japans Hits ‘Inadequate DRM’ Hurdle [the Register]
Music Industry Warms to Downloads [Asahi.com]
Innovations Push Japan Towards Online Music [International Herald Tribune]
A Portal into Japanese Pop Culture [JPop.com]
A Lesson From Japan’s CD Rental Industry [Copyfutures]
Japan and US: Two Cultures of Piracy [Smartmobs.com]
Dial M For Music [Time Asia]
Cultures of Music Piracy:An Ethnographic Comparison of the US and Japan [Ian Condry-Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 31pg pdf]