Posts Tagged ‘spotify’

Opium – Opium (CD RELEASE 27th September 2010)

September 7, 2010

Front Cover

Back Cover

Hailed by Wiley as a ‘don’ and held in equally high regard by many of the UK’s best urban acts (including Skepta and Tinchy) Opium is ready to step up as the UK’s next Grime star. His self-titled debut mixtape ‘Opium’ is an impassioned exploration of Grime – both lyrically and musically – and features production from Wiley, DJ Target (1xtra & Roll Deep), Chucka and Z Dot.

Released digitally on the 27th September through iTunes, Spotify and Amazon, Opium has delivered more depth and clarity with his debut than most artists can manage in a fistful of albums. Having learned his craft under the tutelage of Grime veterans Wiley and Godsgift he has steadily established his own sound and approach.

His ‘stream-of-consciousness’ lyricism breaks from the typical ego-driven MC fodder currently abundant in the scene, and is complimented on the album by consistently futuristic production.

‘My Dream’ sets the lunar tone, with mellow synths washing over Opium’s thoughtful verse. Emphatic title track ‘Opium’ is a version of the Wiley space-stomper and ‘Empire’ is the glossy lead single in which he muses over his legacy and future.

Being of Turkish descent and having lived in Munich for a number of years, Opium subtly expresses his own cultural experiences through music. The mixtape cover cleverly conceals his nations’ flag within world of his own making. As ‘My Dream’ says, it’s time to “scrap everything old and start feeling new.”

Opium ‘Opium’ is released digitally on 27th September via iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

Big up Threefold’s Dre for the artwork, and myself for the words. 😛

Kristian

Play, Create, Share

May 11, 2010

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Play, Create, Share is the future of video game content.

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This was the Sony’s statement to its competitors nearly two years ago. Three words with endless possibilities, awash with post-modern vector power points and encapsulated within its flagship community-based video games. The term was created by Sony for its exclusive titles. Titles that rely heavily upon user-created content which can be uploaded and distributed over the PlayStation Network. Little Big Planet was the first release to fall within the Play, Create, Share bracket and despite initial teething issues it has proved to be a true success story in both micro transaction and community-based products.

After a year of speculation, Sack Boys worldwide popped, slapped and guffawed as Media Molecule announced there would be another Little Big Planet offering. Sony have alluded to creation on a grander scale than the first game. The trailer hints at this with a wider level of customisation with digital puppets, intelligently design characters, narrative arcs and hybrid genres all being demonstrated within the revamped engine.

Here’s the trailer (Did Nathan Barley do the score?):

The biggest concern with a sequel so heavily reliant upon its players content is that a new release would make everything previously created on the original LBP redundant. Media Molecule were keen to dispel this rumour by confirming that all the levels from the first game would be incorporated and fully compatible with Little Big Planet 2.

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Great news for content junkies but the gripe many have with the original release is the constant removal of content that has even the faintest nostalgic wink to a red plumber or blue hedgehog. Both Sony and MM demonstrated draconian copyright enforcement that would make Viacom blush. Let’s just hope that they won’t be too strict this time around when it comes to punishing the hard working individuals that served as stanchions for the community. People spent hours upon hours meticulously trying to rehash their favourite levels from classic franchises only to have them erased within thirty minutes for having the audacity to reference a mushroom.

mario lbp

The success of Play, Create, Share will be dependant on Sony’s communication with competitors rather than ambiguous statements of intent. Little Big Planet did exceptionally well considering its restrictions but did not fully live up to the original claims it made. ModNation Racers will arrive in two weeks time; the second game in the Play, Create, Share banner with just as bold claims.

It looks astounding what this game could and should be capable of. An intuitive and easily customisable sandbox that will allow the player easy access to a range of physics tools to create kart levels with both the fun and freneticism of Mario Kart and aesthetic horse power of the Playstation.

modnation

With two strong titles on the horizon Play, Create, Share appears better equipped this year. I shall remain optimistic as the framework is certainly admirable. If the press conferences’ claims turn out to be accurate this time it will signify a new era in video game console development and could usher in a new way we experience video games, training a generation of aspiring level designers, mappers and skinners in the process. Just to reiterate, brokering will be key in opening the door to true ubiquitous, uninhibited content. Look no further than Spotify for proof of the pudding – a handshake and discussion goes a long way.

ModNation Racers, scheduled for release on the 21st May 2010 on Playstation 3 and PSP
Little Big Planet 2, expected Winter 2010

Dré

R.I.P. The Music Industry

December 16, 2009

For those who follow this blog, you will be aware that we are currently in the middle of a project that we call ‘The 24 Days of Christmas’ whereby we post ideas for Christmas gifts on each of the 24 days leading to Dec 25th, along with a song that is somehow related to the particular gift. For those who don’t follow this blog, click above to see a list of all the gifts/songs featured so far.

It fell to me to cover day 15, for which I decided to cover a 6-hour recording studio session for budding musicians – after a little thought, I decided to choose Twista’s ‘Overnight Celebrity’ as my song of choice for that gift. Quite apt, I thought. Although actually getting hold of a Youtube link for said video was nigh-on impossible.

Quite surprising, you might think, and you’d be right – produced by Kanye West, the song was a hit on both sides of the Pond, reaching no. 6 in the 2004 Billboard Hot 100 Chart and no. 16 in the UK sales chart. So why couldn’t I find a suitable version on Youtube?

The answer, my friends, is copyright.

Now, seeing as I’m imagining that you’re all young, frivolous and dynamic individuals with a lot of time on your hands, I’m not about to sit here and bombard you with statistics and figures; all I want to say is that it’s about time the archaic and increasingly irrelevant music industry as we know it was finally put to sleep.

When Napster was launched in 1999 and subsequently closed in 2001, it marked the beginning a major shift in consumer attitudes towards buying music; it offered the first user-friendly method of sharing digital music and opened many millions of people to the idea of pirating music. CD Writers were still pretty big, inefficient and relatively expensive, internet dial-up connections were prohibitively slow and chat-based clients such as IRC… well, they looked like this:

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Not exactly easy to follow, I’m sure you’ll agree. Napster, and the other clients that it spawned, were simple; a search field, a search results window and a download progress window. Easy peasy – no wonder it took off the way it did.

Now, with a billion-dollar infrastructure in place to produce, record and distribute music, it is understandable why the music industry was keen to stifle proliferation of web-based music distribution.

However, like the proverbial Goliath, Big Music was slow, unwieldy and unable to adapt to an environment increasingly reliant on the internet; one wonders, if they had embraced the concepts and technology behind file-sharing all those years ago, would we still be in the same situation now? Are its current practices of locking everything down under swathes of copyright red tape really doing anything other than harming its own cause?

Record labels are incredibly vocal about the amount that file-sharing costs them, although when you consider some of the practices that the industry has been involved in to shape the popular music scene over the past few years, it is arguably quite difficult to feel sorry for them.

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They often come across as fairly selfless about the whole thing; placing the ultimate loss with their artists rather than themselves. Although since when did the industry care about the welfare of its artists?

Modern popular music is about fast turnover, not artistic integrity. Artists are milked within an inch of sanity by the terms of their contracts, forced to churn out bland, watered-down and accessible approximations of the music that got them popular in the first place, and when such artists appear to fall from favour, they are tossed away, destitute and worn-out. As soon as a major label gets wind of a particular trend, the market is flooded with identikit acts that loop relentlessly until we’re all sick of it and move onto something else.

However, while I am in one way grateful to the growth of file-sharing for the blows it has delivered to greedy, self-serving and culturally-void media institutions – this goes for Hollywood too, by the way – by providing people with access to any and everything, not just what the big companies deem should be popular, it has had some negative effects.

Aside from the obvious ‘it-takes-money-out-of-the-hands-of-emerging-musicians’ argument, which is nonetheless valid, it has created a climate whereby people think that paying for anything is unreasonable. With so much content on offer for free, many people feel ‘ripped off’ when it emerges that they may have to actually pay for something.

This is not a mindset limited to the world of digital entertainment; cut-price clothing from shops such as Primark nurtures the same attitudes from consumers. Why pay £25 for a top when you can get it for £3 at Primark? Why buy an album when you can download it for free?

Ultimately, the industry in question does suffer, but with a shrewd little shift-around, it can be engineered so that the only people that lose out are those Simon Cowell types who contribute little to the music industry and take a lot. Downloading is rarely identified for its positive traits – for example, it has enormous marketing potential.

Tracking of downloading habits can harvest enormous amounts of data about consumer tastes and should, therefore, be considered a necessary evil in a marketplace where people are unwilling to pay the frankly exorbitant amounts asked of them for media products.

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The launch of Spotify in October 2008 marked an extremely positive step in the right direction. Spotify users don’t seem to be bothered that they can’t download the songs, highlighted by the fact that they have a six-month waiting list for a free account. Users have instant and free access to millions of tracks, interspersed with the occasional advert.

The Spotify method is by no means perfect; it has its fair share of critics but for now it appears to be catering for the best of both; the public gets access to ‘free’ music and musicians get a bit of cash. It may not be a lot right now, but the technology is still in its infancy and let’s face it, a little money is better than none at all.

In short, the music industry has been catastrophically slow in adapting to new consumer trends in music consumption and any money they lose as a result is nobody’s fault but theirs. Rather than spending a bit of cash in R&D, trying to find a viable way to incorporate digital audio and video files into their repertoire and slowly phase out media such as CDs, their attempts to retain global hegemony of the way we listen to music will eventually be their downfall.

Hopefully within a couple of years online products will circumvent Big Music altogether and make way for an industry made up of smaller, independent labels where musicians have more control over their content, their image and their workrate, allowing diverse, varied and user-led content to thrive.

James

Spotify On Your Nokia

November 23, 2009

spotify

Today the good people at Spotify announced a Symbian version of their little beauty of a program. The press release on their website sites the importance of a Symbian model,

Today’s release means that Spotify Mobile is now available on millions more phones, such as the Nokia 6220 Classic, E71 and 5800 XpressMusic models. The application will also run on some of the more popular Sony Ericsson and Samsung smartphones, such as the Samsung GT-I8910 Omnia HD and Sony Ericsson Satio. Symbian is our third launch for Spotify Mobile, along with previously released iPhone and Android versions.

Symbian is an operating system used by Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. To find out if your mobile is compatible with Spotify visit http://m.spotify.com/ on your mobile phone and folllow instructions.

Dré