Beyoncé Knowles Carter treats us to a visual album "bolder and deeper and more uncomfortable than anything [we] could have predicted," blending tracks from her newest record with narration from the poetry of Warsan Shire (more here), and visuals directed by Jonas Akerlund, Kahlil Joseph, Melina Matsoukas, Dikayl Rimmasch, Mark Romanek, Todd Tourso, and Beyoncé herself. [more inside]
Streaming service Rdio is filing for bankruptcy, and Pandora is set to buy its assets for $75 million. Never heard of Rdio? The service was a lesser-known competitor to the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, and did a lot of things right in a low-key way. Its userbase is savvy and fiercely loyal. The service is set to wind down over the next few weeks. The Atlantic: A Eulogy For Rdio. David Greenwald: What Spotify and the rest could learn from Rdio. The Verge: Streaming music has an economics problem. [more inside]
According this latest numbers from IFPI, while the music-buying audience in the USA is still the biggest in the world, the most valuable music fans are actually the proud people of Norway. This may be due, in large part, to the fact that since 2009 piracy in Norway has plunged by 76%.
Time indeed does not exist on Prince albums. Perhaps that’s why he’s kept releasing one or two every few years even long after his hit-making days ended. At age 24, on “1999,” he established a dichotomy—“I don't wanna die / I’d rather dance”—and at age 57, he seems to be taking that idea of dance-or-die more literally than ever. Who cares if fewer and fewer people are listening? Who cares if releasing exclusively to Tidal will limit his audience further? What matters is that Prince is working, and that the holy devoted will follow him.Spencer Kornhaber reviews HITNRUN Phase One on The Atlantic, warning that both Prince and "the gnarly funk-rock and R&B that made Prince famous" are in short supply on the album, which is produced by Joshua Welton, who said the album is "an experimental Prince record for fans who just don’t care about him sounding like a certain thing." [more inside]
At Pitchfork, Marc Hogan has put together a long read on “how playlists are curating the future of music.”. He speaks to various folks in positions of power at the different services, including former Pitchfork editor-in-chief Scott Plagenhoef (now running music programming and editorial across Apple Music) and former Pitchfork associate editor Jessica Suarez (now lead streaming editor at Google).
Now that Tidal has given us a CD quality streaming service, NPR Music Editor Jacob Ganz and some co-workers have put together a quiz to help figure out if it's worth paying for: How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? (Tidal has its own test, if you want something different.) "Danceable cables" come from an old Gizmodo review.
Yesterday, Jay-Z's streaming music service Tidal was launched. The press event featured over a dozen celebrity musicians as signing "owners" of the service (each reportedly received 3% equity in exchange for exclusive content), and, by some accounts, was a bit awkward and content-free. At $19.99, the subscription plan is double the cost of competing services like Spotify, and no "freemium" plan is offered. The justification is two-fold: 1. Artists should be compensated fairly for streaming; and 2. The service's high-fidelity, lossless streaming is far superior to the current standard (320 kbps AAC, as Spotify and Rdio currently provide.) You can take an online blind test between 320 kbps AAC and Tidal's lossless streaming, to see if you have the "equipment and ears" for lossless music. Is there really a noticeable difference, or is this snake oil? Will the artist-forward approach change the conversation and ingrained habits of streaming music listeners? Is Tidal a sort of streaming for the 1% rather than for struggling independent musicians? Is it a walled garden for artists at the expense of fans? Or is this all simply a great vertical move for Jay-Z's Roc Nation label? So many questions.
"The Earth tide is a little-known daily event, similar to the oceans' more familiar tides. But the sun and moon's gravity doesn’t just pull on water, it deforms the Earth itself, causing the ground beneath us to bulge toward the pulling heavenly body." [more inside]
The Wave Motors of California. "Still embedded somewhere in the shores of California, buried by more than a century of sand, are lost hydroelectric machines." Further reading.
Before, during and after. DigitalGlobe's QuickBird satellite imaged the coast of Sri Lanka at precisely the time the tidal wave hit the beaches. It was pure coincidence.
Mention Whirlpools, and people tend to assume you're talking about a Jacuzzi. But not all whirlpools man-made. When powerful tidal currents are forced between a narrow fjord, and then come up against another current traveling in a different direction, the result is a large water vortex. Being tidal means they are predicable. Some of the more famous whirlpools are the Corryvreckian(Scotland), "Old Sow" (Canada), Moskstraumen and Saltstraumen (Norway), and the Naruto (Japan). Notice how they each claim to be the largest of them all. ...Just one more thing to ponder the next time you pull the chain