Bohemian Rhapsody on Ukulele

TED has a video of Jake Shimabukuro playing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on his Ukulele. As Jake says, “If everyone played the Ukulele, this world would be a much happier place.”

Fun with SoundCloud

I’ve been playing around with a service based here in Berlin called SoundCloud. It’s geared towards DJs who want to distribute their mixes making it drop-dead easy to upload typically large files and embed them across the web in widgets. The closest thing I would compare it to is the flickr badge for photos or YouTube embed for videos.

What’s nice about SoundCloud for the professional DJ is that plays on the widget and also back on the profile page are collected for reporting back on the artist’s SoundCloud home page so the DJ can see where their tracks are getting the best, er, traction.

It’s also a great service for someone like me who would just from time to time to shine a light on my favorite live music sets. Here’s a set from the April, 1999 run Phil Lesh did with Trey and Page from Phish at the Warfield in San Francisco. And see that little widget over in the sidebar to the right? Yeah, I listen to a lot of music so if you have a mix you think I might enjoy, use the Dropbox to push it my way.


Scarlet > Fire > The Eleven by Ian Kennedy

Current Events

Misa, a touchpad guitar


The Misa is “not a guitar” says Michael, it’s creator based out of Sydney, Australia. The Misa is designed to play electronic music.

In electronic music, the timbre (or colour) of the sound can be morphed in an infinite number of ways. For a guitar to accommodate this, the right hand needs more control than just plucking strings. You need to be able to control elements of the sound, such as sustain, pitch, filter cutoffs, contour or any other synthesizer parameter, in a way that has no physical constraints.

Misa digital guitars to acoustic guitars or electric guitars. Those are different instruments, for different artforms, for different music. This is electronic music.

The Misa plugs into a MIDI controller and runs a Linux kernel. The instrument’s software is open-source and designed to be enhanced by the community.

Here’s how it works.

if you tap on the left side of the screen you play a note with an effect parameter knob turned more to the left and if you tap to the right side of the screen the note is played with the knob turned to the right. Similarly with the top and bottom of the screen. Since there are two axis’ (X/Y) you can actually control two parameters at once.

Pretty cool.

Phish, Embracing the Remix

Jam bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish have always been ahead of the curve with how they let their fans record their concerts because as Jerry Garcia famously said, “Once we’re done with it, it’s theirs.”

These bands have always made more money on their tours than record sales anyway and because each show was uniquely different, fans created a community around the trading of bootleg tapes on sites such as

phish summer09

Phish made the jump to digital and saw an opportunity to feed the demand for high quality recordings of their concerts and turned it into a business on their site, The site featured high quality FLAC format recordings of their concerts just days after each show. Included with each download was a pdf file of artwork related to the show, title tracks with timings, all formatted to fit into the standard jewel case for the CDs that you’d burn at home.

The downloads are non-DRM but are priced such that it’s really not worth trading anyway (unless you want to gift someone) and the site offers special discounts for people that order all concerts from a tour in advance, kind of a futures market for the band’s performances.

Today I got an email which explains their latest innovation in conjunction with a big show they are doing for Halloween in California where they will famously appear in “band costume” and play an entire album from a yet-to-be-announced other band.


It’s back for Festival 8 with a nice twist. Get out of the heat, the House Of Live Phish will be air conditioned! Think you can do a better job mixing Phish? The House will feature mix-your-own-track stations complete with skilled instructors from ProMedia, and you’ll be able to re-mix tracks from this Summer’s Tour while drinking a Shasta (Wait, scratch that last part — Shasta’s just pulled out). Final tracks will be uploaded to a blog at for everyone’s listening pleasure.

Also, everyone who visits the House of Live Phish will receive a free card redeemable for a Live Phish Summer 09 Sampler. Download and burn your own sampler onto CD using a Mac from our buddies at Small Dog Electronics in Vermont, or just enjoy listening to any of the songs at on a Sonos listening station.

We’re also making each show from the weekend available on slotMusic micro SD cards, so that you can grab them on your way out of the concert field and listen back right away. Each card comes with a USB sleeve ensuring interoperability with all computers as well a microSD-enabled mobile phones and MP3 players. Listen to the concert on your way back to your campsite (you will never not be listening to Phish. Get used to it). Stop by the Phish Dry Goods tent for more details.

Letting fans remix their shows and uploading them to a site so that others can listen in? Cool!

Providing a kiosk where fans can download their favorite tracks from the tour and take them home on a CD? Nice!

Liked the show? Grab a microSD of the show on your way home. Priceless!

Current Events

IT Conversations – Jon Udell & John Buckman

Listened to a great IT Conversations podcast the other day in which Jon Udell and John Buckman (founder of Magnatune) had a great exchange on the future of online music.

Once the iPhone 3G enables all-you-can-eat streaming for music, the ipod becomes just a local cache, a hard disk buffer for music that you would normally stream on-demand. Once you can get whatever music you want wherever you are, then availability of music is not the friction, it’s management of your collection and navigation interface (Udell calls it the namespace) of whatever device you’re using to access your collection.

Will iTunes’ crowdsourced playlists and smart folders become the ubiquitous method to interface with your music?

Have a listen., full tracks now for free

free the music

My favorite music site, has done away with the 30-second preview and now serves up full-length streams of all of their tracks, all for free. In a blog post, says that they’ll limit each track to three plays before a notice pops up promoting a new, Unlimited Listening Subscription. The artists will be paid from a royalty pot that is portioned out based on the number of times their tracks are played. is also opening up their platform to invite independent artists to upload their music directly into the mix and also get paid based on popularity.

Royalties are paid from earnings on their subscription service as well as advertising. What is unclear is how royalties get divided up behind the scenes. CBS owns and they say that they’ve cut deals with “Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner, EMI and over 150,000 independent labels and artists.” The big question is if the subscription and advertising revenues will provide enough of a revenue pot to sustain the artists, advertisers, and Back when I worked at Factiva, the calculations for how content providers were paid was complex and tended to favor the larger brand names that could negotiate from a position of strength. I suspect that this is the case, with the large studios gaining a larger percentage cut for each of their tracks. Yet I hold out hope that eventually’s distribution and the pressures bearing down on the studios eventually favors a more equitable arrangement that distributes earnings based more on talent and popularity and less on the big studio lawyers.

More details from a press conference on this news from

Fred Wilson, always a good read on the issues and challenges for the music business, posts a good perspective on this development and suggests opening up the catalog to allow blogs and social networks to embed tracks into their pages for their readers. I was just thinking today, it would be cool to embed a player on your MyBlogLog profile page which played your favorite track of the week. Today I can point to a page, for even broader distribution, the next step is to embed.

Current Events

Going to Burning Man?

Tickets now on sale.

Burning Man – Les Claypool

Current Events

Band Name Origins

led zeppelin

Thanks to the Band Name Origins list, I now know how Led Zeppelin got their name.

Keith Moon told Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones that their new project would go over like a lead balloon, hence, Led Zeppelin. The ‘Led’ spelling was to make sure people pronounced the name right.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta] artist page wiki wiki

Tonight I discovered that has a wiki to store biographies for each of the artists (here’s the entry for Radiohead). They offer a subscription to an RSS feed of recent changes but with a twist – it limit the feed to updates of changes and edits to only artists it thinks you’ll care about.

I wonder how long this feature’s been there?

Billboard Magazine tracking blogs

Billboard Top 100 blogged about artists

I had no idea but it makes total sense. Leaderboards are all the rage so it makes sense that the publication that started it all would track blog post mentions to see which musical artists are getting the most buzz. The site is pretty light on it’s methodology.

The Buzz 100 Chart is currently formulated based on the number of times an artist that appears on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart is mentioned in blogs. Each week, as new names appear in the Hot 100, they are added to the pool of artists from which the Buzz 100 is drawn.

OK. But how does Billboard identify that a post that has the keyword, “eagles” is really about The Eagles? Click on each artists’ name and it’ll take you to the blog search and reveal their filters are a little messy.