Friday, August 05, 2011

Why Spotify will change your life - even if you never use it.

When I bought my car a few years ago it came with a 3-month free pass for XM radio, something I had no previous interest in and something that I had said time and time again that I would never subscribe to. Pay for radio? No way. Needless to say that within a week I was hooked and now I live in the Underground Garage and Outlaw Country. I am positively giddy over the fact that they will be adding a 24-7 channel built around Dylan's radio show.

When I first heard of Spotify I didn't see any reason why I would like that any better then the other subscription-based music services like Rhapsody and LaLa. After all, I have a huge music collection - over 50,000 songs in my iTunes library. I definitely embraced downloadable music - I am more than willing to give up the physical aspect of most recordings and when a package is worth buying for, well, the package, I'll buy it. But do I really need to pay for another music service - especially where I am in effect renting the music and not buying it?

Oh yeah.

Spotify delivers, big time. Think of an album or a song you want to hear and there it is. Take a few minutes and build a playlist that will last all day long. But Steve, what about those 50,000 songs of yours? Surely you have enough music to listen to, right?

The beauty here is that Spotify will be different things to different people. For the average person, five bucks a month to listen to whatever you want, whenever you want is a great deal. For people like me - who obviously have collected and purchased music all their life, there is still a great deal of music from their past that has yet to make the transition from vinyl to CD, much less from CD to digital. Its been a blast thinking of older LPs that I haven't bothered to digitize (a "best intentions" scenario if there ever was one), only to have them instantly appear on my desktop.

Right now I'm rocking the free version which lets you listen to as much as you want with short 15 second ads every 15 minutes or so. The five dollar a month buy in takes the ads away and ten bucks gets you the mobile app so you can listen via your phone. The paid versions also let you keep something like 3000 songs off line so you don't need an internet connection - great for traveling and all that.

The thing about subscription services is that eventually the prices will go up and should you decide to drop the service - you lose all of your music. That could certainly suck for some folks, but I have those 50,000 songs to fall back on.

Or I could take a long drive and listen to the XM.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

I guess there's just a meanness in this world

I know that there are at least two sides to every story and that, usually, even the most unfathomable circumstances can be explained. As Mr. Holmes said, "Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth." Even so, I will never understand how one human being can inflect pain and injury on another without a real and true reason.

Believe me, I understand justice and I believe in it.

I have a friend who was attacked recently and beaten badly. He was blindsided - the victim of a coward who had only one goal - to do him harm. As I said up top, there may or may not be a reason that drove this madman to commit this crime, but one thing is certain - my friend did nothing to deserve this.

What is that allows a person to leave all reason behind and commit such a senseless act? Is it a chemical imbalance or some sort of bad wiring? Is it simply a lack of understanding of right vs wrong? Is society or his parents to blame? Or is it as Bruce Springsteen sings in "Nebraska" that "there's just a meanness in this world?"

I'm stumped. In the past few weeks, for whatever reason, bad news has affected me in ways that it hasn't before. It's just the sad truth that there is always a sad story in the paper and while they often caused me to pause and consider the family and friends of these unfortunate individuals, lately they linger longer in my thoughts. The nine-year-old boy lured into a car by a stranger. The insanity in Norway. A purse snatching in my hometown just a few blocks from my house. All strangers, but I kept imagining myself or my family in their place. It was if if there was a ever tightening circle of evil that was surrounding us.

Now I've seen it, if not first-hand very, very up close and it has chilled me to the bone.