Steve’s Media Blog

Archive for October 2008



Brad Sucks is a one-man outfit hailing from Ottawa, Canada (my home town, yay!).  I always love hearing solid stuff from local artists, and this is nothing different.  I first heard his stuff on CBC Radio 3’s Sweatin’ To The Indies 2 podcast, and it was a terrific song to start off the show (it was “Making Me Nervous” from his album I Don’t Know What I’m Doing).  I found his music over at Jamendo and I downloaded away!


My initial thoughts were “wow, I really like this stuff!  Very upbeat, very catchy”.  As the album went on, I got a bit of a better feel for the album.  He reminds me a lot of Beck – more so his voice and the beats behind the lyrics than anything else, and I guarantee that if you play one of his songs to someone who has never heard of Brad Sucks, and doesn’t know it’s Brad Sucks, they would assume that you’re playing them a Beck song.


That’s not really such a bad thing, I suppose, especially if you like Beck.  The only downside is that some people decided to tag his music on Jamendo as “Beck” which makes no sense because “Beck” is not a music genre or style.  But I digress.


The album is short, but sweet.  Ten tracks of cool beats and in general, fun music.  I like it a lot, but would have to give it a more in-depth listen to tell you any more specifics.  To get this album you can either go to his website and buy it (recommended $10, but he allows you to set your price), or you can get it free as well.


Side notes:


– amazon.ca is finally offering an electronics section.  Amazon.com has had this for a while, and they generally offer cheaper prices.  I don’t usually buy from amazon.com or .ca but this is good news indeed!


– I feel really bad for this band that was denied entry into Canada (twice now!).  It reflects poorly on the country as a whole and overall the situation really sucks.

Obviously, the biggest risk with downloading music illegally is the potential risk of getting sued by the music industry.  It doesn’t happen to everyone, but from the reports throughout the media it would seem like a high percentage of people are getting caught with their pants down (because they’re probably downloading a lot of their music in their pj’s right?).  For some people, that risk alone is enough to deter them from stealing music.

Others ponder about what happens to the smaller artists (i.e., non-top 40).  You might not feel guilty about downloading the latest Britney Spears album (it’s called Circus, by the way), but you feel guilty about finding a torrent for Joel Plaskett (check out his awesome album Ashtray Rock).  It’s essentially a double standard, but I think in some cases it is a “legitimate” double standard.  Britney’s getting her money regardless – but poor Joel might not, and his income depends on people actually buying his albums.   Then again if everybody uses that viewpoint, nobody buys Britney’s album and she’s in the same boat as Joel.  Maybe that’s a good thing? (Disclaimer: I just picked Joel Plaskett because he was the first artist that came to mind, I’m trying not to be too specific)

I think a big reason to buy the real thing is because lately, CD packaging has become a lot more fun to discover.  I remember I thought it was pretty cool that Beck supplied you with the album artwork in sticker form and let you decorate the jewel case.  Other CDs are just plain cool.

Anyway, lately I’ve been wanting to buy music rather than find illegal sources for it.  I find that I get more excited about a specific CD because I’m watching my money so I don’t buy them right away.  I end up not listening to it ahead of time because I haven’t downloaded it, so I really look forward to the album when I do end up buying it.

As for downloading music, I still do it – but only with legal sources.  Some great places I’ve found include betterPropaganda – which includes some border-line mainstream stuff FOR FREE – as well as finding unknown artists from Jamendo.  Check out my post yesterday to find a large list of links for more free music (that’s legal).

In the meantime, I highly recommend buying your CDs over downloading.  I think it’s more rewarding.  It almost feels like I’ve grown up a bit.

I knew it was a good idea to write this post until I got to my laptop.  I have a folder in my bookmarks labelled “music”, and while I have a good list of free resources, a lot of it is actually bands that I found with free music.  But one site on the list is a gold mine and I forgot I even had it.

It’s the Ultimate List of Free & Legal mp3 Music Downloads.  I like this list not only because it is very thorough, but for this exerpt from his mission statement (so to speak):

Although stealing music is fairly easy, it’s not as fun and fulfilling as having a legitimate library of tunes. By compiling an exhaustive list of legal alternatives, I hope it will suppress your desire to pirate music and be caught with the penalties. I personally think digital and music law needs reform, but we should be cautious of some of the illogical interpretations of the law so we don’t get into trouble. There are trillions of audio files roaming around the internet in a legal haze of lawsuits, and whether on purpose or not, I’m sure you’ve stumbled across them.

Definitely check out that site.  It is not a complete list but it is just about perfect.

Music Pirate

Music Pirate

Okay, I will admit that my title today is a bit of a dirty trick.  But it’s not entirely misleading, since I am talking about free music – as in, where to get it.  This post was precipitated by Lifehacker‘s recent blog post about how to save money by getting free mp3’s – the post itself has some good ideas at heart, but is basically promoting piracy.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that nobody is a music pirate or that I think that’s the only way to get music.  Seriously, we live in the Internet age; I’m sure everybody is a pirate, at least a little bit.

I’ve gotten a little sidetracked though.  While the Lifehacker post was essentially about finding free, mainstream music (and I don’t recommend using a google search anymore, as is pointed out in the comments, you’re more likely to get to a scam site), there are plenty more resources for finding really good free music, legally.  Oh yeah, no question, it’ll be stuff from people you’ve never heard of before.  Ask yourself though: don’t you want to be one of those people who listened to so-and-so before they were top 40?  Maybe not, but don’t you at least want some cool music that you won’t hear on the radio?

I hope your answer is yes, because otherwise the rest of my post will be a disappointment.  Obviously, one of the easiest ways is to just browse myspace.  Not everything on there is good, or downloadable, but there are plenty of good bands to be found.  Some other options that may interest you, however, I only myself found out about today through some of the comments of that Lifehacker post:

  • http://music.download.com/ – this site is run by the fine folks at cnet.  Being at work I haven’t had the chance to take a good look through their collection, but it looks pretty extensive – and it even has some mainstream stuff.
  • ZW – This isn’t actually a place to download music, but has a list of places for downloading free music.  Again, I haven’t been able to look through the list/sites thoroughly, so tread carefully if you’re worried about legalities.
  • BestMP3Links – Again, another list of free resources, however this one seems to be more of the legal variety.

I’m going to do a follow-up post as I have a more extensive list of free music resources at home – I think I may have some bookmarked on del.icio.us but I’d still need to come back and do a follow-up.

In the meantime, check out this well-written piece about DRM driving someone to piracy (you may have read it before).

Man do I ever wish I uploaded the word doc I wrote yesterday, yesterday.  Otherwise I can’t with absolute certainty claim that I thought of this before I heard of it being announced: Microsoft Office Heads Online with Next Release.  Still, here it is: education2020

Anyway, it looks like it’s not going to be completely online, in that they are still offering the offline program with online components.

I guess my point is – yay, I was right!

Oops

Posted on: October 27, 2008

So I never made an entry to that Windows Live Spaces contest.  Woops!  I’m clearly not too worried about it.  But I also don’t believe I’d be chosen to win; like I said, they’re probably looking for someone who is an avid user of Live Spaces already.  However, this is my “space” here, so what is to stop me from talking about the future of Education and Computing in the year 2020 anyway?  (Hint: nothing)

The contest was structured so that you answer a set of questions detailing what you think life and education will be like in 2020.  Here are the questions:

  • How does technology today influence school life and help you learn?
  • What will Windows look like in 2020?
  • What will Windows Live look like in 2020?
  • What will Microsoft Office look like in 2020?
  • What role will mobile phones, cell phones and smartphones play in 2020 classrooms?
  • What will extracurricular activities, regular classes and homework look like in 2020?
  • What will classrooms and school grounds look like in 2020?
  • I’m going to write a follow-up to this post as well with my full answers later today after I put some more thought into this.  I did have some initial answers floating around in my head but I never put them down on paper.

    In the meantime, be sure to listen today at 2pm for Audio Sensory Resuscitation on CKCU 93.1 FM.

    I poked around a little, and much to my surprise, I already had a Live Space!  I didn’t realize that this is basically just a carry over of those MSN profiles that you could make; it’s the same thing, but easier to customize.

    So the contest IS open to Canadians, but closes this Sunday so there’s not much time left.  One thing of note – I imagine the winner will not only have a solid entry for the contest, but probably they’re looking for someone who also is an active user of Live Spaces and has it nice and tricked out.  Not a surprise, but I’m going to keep an eye on this contest and make note of the winner and what their Live Space looks like.