Tag Archives: music

Free music, Spotify and copywrite issues

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MUSIC & SPOTIFY: To be free or not to be free?

IT amazes me how music stores manage to survive in the information age. We are already able to stream music online from websites and radio stations, watch music videos freely on YouTube (and download these), listen to hit singles by our favourite bands via their websites and share music with others using our cellphones, iPods and iPads. The number of songs that can be stored on an iPod or MP3 player is also so high that buying a CD with between 10 and 20 tracks just seems like a disappointment.

It is also not difficult to download songs illegally online. File-sharing websites such as The Pirate Bay and programs such as LimeWire have been under scrutiny ever since their launch, but are still around and remain popular. It has even been argued that people who download music are far more likely to buy original CDs than those who don’t. Being able to familiarise ourselves with a new band or artist by listening to more than just one promotional track allows us to make a more informed choice whether or not we want to support the group by buying their original work. It also reduces the risk of being disappointed and R100-odd poorer, so the arguments go.

There is no doubt that music corporations painstakingly attempt to protect their copywrite material. Using just a few seconds of a dated song in an online video could result in a hefty fine. What often happens in the case of YouTube videos that use copywrite music is that a stern e-mail is sent to the creator stating that the video will not be pulled but that YouTube has the right to advertise alongside the video. When this happens your YouTube channel begins to look like a corporate website with big, flashy adverts unrelated to your video content.

The games industry has already realised the value of offering dated games for free online. With the proliferation of new titles, it becomes nonsensical to try to sell older games. But game companies and developers still want us playing and appreciating their previous work and familiarising ourselves with their brands. Offering older titles for free may also muster new fans and potential buyers of their newer titles. So why isn’t the same done with regards to music?

Spotify – the free music website

Spotify

Spotify is one of many websites that allow users to listen to and share music freely online. Their ultimate goal is "to have all the music in the world available instantly to everyone".

Spotify is one of many websites that allow users to listen to and share music­ freely online. It hosts more than 13 million songs and it is free to share everything you listen to on Spotify through social media sites and services such as Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube. The Spotify application is available for PC, Mac, cellphones and even home audio systems. “Just help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it,” it says on the Spotify website.

Spotify openly admits that its goal is “to have all the music in the world available instantly to everyone”. It also admits, however, that it takes time to arrange licensing agreements with record labels, which indicates that its goal is a legit one. Unfortunately, this does mean that Spotify is not yet available in every country, including South Africa. It’s no surprise that the countries where it is available are the most liberal when it comes to freedom of information and the Internet, such as Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.

What is great about websites such as Spotify is that they promote the consumer policy of “try before you buy”. Users are able to purchase songs or albums off the website, which can then be downloaded in MP3 format.

But one might ask, if it is entirely free, in theory, to listen to and share just about any song on the Internet, then what difference does it make whether the same songs are downloaded? We may wish to load up our iPod before a jog or create a music CD for our car — whatever 21st-century convenience tickles our fancy.

It seems a bit bizarre that we (or at least people in some countries) are able to consume the music of our choice to our hearts content all for free, but the minute we want to listen offline at our own convenience we have to pay for it — even if they are songs or albums that are no longer stocked in music stores.

Maybe they want us spending that time listening on their websites so they can build up a record of what we like and send promotions our way.

Acapella music group singing Africa

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TOTO AFRICA: Sung by acapella group Perpetuum Jazzile

SINCE writing an article on music therapy and discovering all the wonderful benefits that music can have on the brain, I have begun listening to all sorts of lyrical delights. I am also making an effort to see more live music as this can have the best effect on our brains and psyche. One of my current and favourite musical styles, however, is acapella. To put it crudely, acapella is a musical style performed without instruments – usually by a choir group. To put it more academically, here’s a description from Wikipedia:

Acapella music is solo or group vocal singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. In modern usage, acapella often refers to an all-vocal group performance of any style, including modern pop/rock.

This particular acapella group hails from Slovenia. They’re quite a talented bunch of vocalists that, in my opinion, do a sterling job of Toto‘s great hit Africa. The talent of their beat-boxer is also something to behold. The Perpetuum Jazzile video now has over ten million views. I’m responsible for just over half of that. It’s a great listen that may even put a tear in your eye. Enjoy!

Perpetuum Jazzile singing ‘Africa’ by Toto

If you enjoyed that acapella music group singing Africa you may find the following article interesting: Music Therapy: Tune in and chill out

Here’s a little extract:

MUSIC has the power to play on our moods, fine tune our brainwaves, pluck at our heartstrings, and unite entire nations under song. It has even proven to have a positive effect on livestock. We all know the effects that music can have on reducing stress and promoting relaxation, but music itself is becoming increasingly popular in the modern medical industry — a concept being dubbed as “music therapy”.

Music Therapy: Tune in and chill out

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Music Therapy: Tune in and chill out – studies, research and findings

Image: musicgerication dot comMUSIC is a truly magical thing. It has the power to play on our moods, fine tune our brainwaves, pluck at our heartstrings, and unite entire nations under song. It has even proven to have a positive effect on livestock.

Last year a ten year old farm boy from Georgia won first place in a regional science fair for a project on how music improved milk production in cows. Daniel McElmurray tested the effects of classical, country and rock music on his father’s 300 cows. The experiment showed that their livestock preferred classical music over country and rock by producing 450 kilograms more milk.

Music possesses the power to reach parts of the brain that are not yet accessible to us, at least not on a conscious level. It almost makes one understand why so many artists and creatives turn to recreational drug use for inspiration.

We all know the effects that music can have on reducing stress and promoting relaxation, but music itself is becoming increasingly popular in the modern medical industry — a concept being dubbed as “music therapy”.

Music therapy studies and research

Research has shown that music has a profound effect on our bodies and psyche. Those who practice music therapy are finding it beneficial in helping cancer patients, children with ADD, helping ward off depression, promoting movement, calming patients, easing muscle tension and helping with pain management.

Guitar therapyMany experts suggest that it is the rhythm of the music or the beat that has the calming effect on us, although we may not be fully conscious of it. One theory, found at www.holisticonline.com, suggests that we were likely influenced by the heartbeats of our mothers while still in the womb. The idea is that we respond to soothing music at later stages in our life — perhaps associating it with the safe, relaxing and protective environment we once lived in.

Several studies have found that selections of Celtic, Native American as well as various music containing loud drums or flutes are extremely soothing. More interestingly, any music listened to live, even at moderately loud volumes, seems to have the most beneficial response. Equally beneficial is the effect of playing or creating music oneself.

“The entire human energetic system is extremely influenced by sounds. The physical body and chakra centres respond specifically to certain tones and frequencies. Whenever the proper sounds were experienced, an amazing right/left brain hemisphere synchronization occurs” — www.holisticonline.com

Music therapy findings

Even if you are not a believer in holistic medicine and chakra centers, music therapy has yielded several measurable results in recent years, such as:

  • An increase in deep breathing when hearing a particular tune
  • The body’s production of the happy hormone serotonin accelerates
  • Music has been found to reduce pain during dental procedures
  • music notesPlaying gentle background music while working or studying has been found to reduce stress and improve concentration
  • Music therapy can help counteract or prevent the damaging effects of chronic stress
  • It has even been shown to lower blood pressure, boost immunity and ease muscle tension
  • Music can also be used to bring a more positive state of mind, helping to keep depression and anxiety at bay
  • It can help keep creativity and boost optimism levels higher
  • Certain music has been found to reduce heart rates and increase body temperature — an indication that the body is entering a state of relaxation
  • Memorable music from our youth appears to be a very good choice.

According to stress.about.com, “the change in brainwave activity levels that music can bring can also enable the brain to shift speeds more easily on its own as needed, which means that music can bring lasting benefits to your state of mind, even after you’ve stopped listening.”

I can’t live a day without listening to my own brand of tunes. If you are feeling stressed out, uninspired or down in the dumps lately, don’t pop a pill; why not rather put on your favourite golden oldie.

Exergaming, blogging behind bars and Das Spiegel

Witness This

Exergaming & The River Gym

GAMERS are subjected to a cruel stereo­type that we all live in our parents’ basement and are rendered lifeless if exposed to direct sunlight. While most games are not physically demanding, there is a growing market for exercise gaming — known more commonly as “exergaming” … Continue Reading

U.S. Prison System: Blogging Behind Bars

WEB 2.0: Prisoner-generated content: When prisoners are not tinkering away for 25 cents an hour, several are engaging with social media and contributing towards what largely makes up web 2.0. Social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming more accessible to those incarcerated in the U.S. prison system, and there are even a few that are blogging from behind bars … Continue Reading

Future of online gaming

When we look at the future of MMORPGs, we think virtual reality. We dream about being able to lead another life where you are the boss and control everything. In real life, you are influenced by everyone else. In virtual reality, you get to choose your paths and if you think something is wrong, you change it … Continue Reading

Jack the Ripper in KZN

Evidence has been found that suggests that the character known as Jack the Ripper once resided in the Dargle in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He is known to have frequented Singletons bar, which is now located in the hotel called Tanglewood Country House. The Ripper also never paid for his drinks. Check out this very professionally made mini-docy from Witnessonline
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Fable 3 sees Hollywood voice talent

FABLE 3: Featuring the vocal delights of Stephen Fry, John Cleese, Simon Pegg and Academy Award winner Sir Ben Kingsley. Fable 3 will be available
Continue Reading

Das Spiegel — Euphoric music

THERE are very few songs that give me goosebumps, but lately I have come across a few musical gems that instill feelings of euphoria within my dark, squishy center. Das Spiegel by The Chemical Brothers is one of them
Continue Reading

Online shopping guide

TAKE2: A great place for safe & secure online shopping

CHRISTMAS has once again come and gone like a seasonal fling — leaving an empty feeling deep down inside, next to the leftover turkey that was for lunch. If you were one of the many that left your Christmas shopping to the last minute, I don’t think anyone needs to remind you how hellish it was driving to the Present Store. All Christmas spirit seems to dissolve away the minute you get on the road. It may not have been the best idea to leave the shopping so late, but if it wasn’t for the last minute nothing would ever get done.

There’s also a good chance that we were disappointed with what we got for Christmas this year — again. All those letters to Santa seem to be in vain sometimes. He must get more hate-mail than wish-lists I reckon.

Nonetheless, we are all adept at acting happy around our loved ones and consider that perhaps it is not the gift that counts but being near a fir tree … Or is it family? No no, it’s the thought that counts; that’s it. But great gifts would have been nice too.

There is a solution to fighting your way through traffic, struggling to find what you want and disappointing family and friends with “thoughtful” gifts that you managed to find at the last minute. The solution lies in the joys and wonders of online shopping. There are many ways to go about ordering goods online, but I have found one specific website particularly pleasing to use.

take2 logo

Take 2
Take 2.co.za is a South African website that offers a very similar experience to using Kalahari.net (among others). They have their headquarters in Cape Town, but they will happily deliver ordered goods anywhere in the country.

They also charge a flat-rate deli­very charge of R30, which is the same if you order one item or 20. This is by far the cheapest delivery fee I’ve ever experienced. Take2 will also deliver right to your door and have a very efficient e-mail service to keep consumers posted.

Signing up
Signing up is as simple as saying “silly season”. Simply visit take2.co.za and click on “sign up”. You’ll need to provide a name, contact number and e-mail address.

The next step is to create an address list. This could just be one address (presumably your own address) to have any products delivered directly to you, or you could include the addresses of family and friends to have items delivered directly to their doors instead.

The next step involves divulging banking details, which is where people often get itchy. However, you do not need to give out credit card numbers; in fact you don’t even need a credit card! Rather, you provide banking details such as your account number and branch code and they link your account with theirs.

Paying is as easy and stress-free as performing an EFT.

Email notifications and wish-lists
Something that I particularly like about Take2 is their speedy e-mail service that keeps you in the loop. They send you an e-mail when you place an order, a confirmation e-mai­l once you have paid the required amount, an e-mail to say that your products are being acquired, and a final e-mail once they have shipped your goods with the courteous line, “your products have been shipped and will be arriving shortly”.

Another great feature of most online stores such as Take2 is the wish-list. Any products that you come across while browsing around can be added to your wish-list to be ordered at a later, perhaps more prosperous date and time.

If the products in your wish-list are currently out of stock, Take2 will also e-mail you as soon as they become available to order again. They also let you know if any price reductions occur.

What’s available
Take2 is in the business of home entertainment and deals in DVDs, games, electronics, books and music mostly. They also constantly have specials on offer as well as a clearance stock section, which acts as a sort of electronic bargain bin. I have found goods there for half the price that they are labelled with in stores.

The service also has a fantastic sorting feature which allows you to sort products by price, sales rank, release date etc. This is great when you have a budget in mind or want to see what everyone else is buying. Other features are “monthly best sellers”, “top 40 viewed” products, “top rated products” and “current top sellers”. All specials are also clearly marked in red, making them easy to spot.

Customer network
To give you greater assurance that you’re not being scammed into buying cheap crap off the Internet, Take2 offers user reviews and an easy-to-use rating system. Any member can rate a product from one to 10 and an average score is displayed next to each rated product.

People who have purchased or used any of the products available on Take2 are encouraged to write short reviews, which will then appear beneath the products when people are browsing the website. There are often differing views and experiences of the same products, but consumers generally point out the pros and cons — invaluable information to new buyers.

Click click. All done
All that’s left to know is buying. Each time you click on an item an option to “add to cart” will appear (alternatively you can add the product to your wish-list). Once you’ve added all your desired items to your virtual cart, you can “proceed to checkout”, select the address where you would like your goods shipped to, transfer the right amount of cash due (calculated for you) and you’re all done.

Each product also gives an indication of how long it will take to ship the product. In all the time that I have spent using Take2, they have never been more than a couple of days late.

There was one case where an order that I had paid for went out of stock and I phoned Take2 to find out what was happening. They offered to either refund me in full or to place the amount into a credit balance (which has since been used).

And that’s really all you need to know about online shopping (or perhaps where to go). Happy shopping and remember that everything is cheaper online!

*** Visit Take2 now ***

If you have had any positive online shopping experience please feel free to leave a comment, and let’s do our bit to promote good South African service.

Related posts: Online shopping tips  The Simple Life (online)

White Mountain Folk Fest 2009

VIDEO: Highlights of this year’s White Mountain Folk Festival,
plus what some people had to say about the family-friendly event

White Mountain Folk Fest 2009 featuring “shushu” by South African band
Hot Water. Many thanks to all those who participated. What a lekker jol.

Click here for more info and to see last year’s video

Playing For Change: Peace Through Music

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If you are unfamiliar with the award-winning documentary Playing For Change: Peace Through Music there are a few video clips of this little gem available on Youtube. The first one, featuring Stand By Me, has nearly reached 13 million views to date, making it one of the most viral videos of 2008 and most certainly one of my top videos of all time. Here’s a snippet from the makers:

From the award-winning documentary, “Playing For Change: Peace Through Music”, comes the first of many “songs around the world” being released independently. Featured is a cover of the Ben E. King classic by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it travelled the globe.

Playing For Change: Peace Through Music

Check out the Playing for Change website for more

Wasn’t that great? It really does get those warm and fuzzy feelings deep inside one churning doesn’t it? But if you are an unemotional robot who couldn’t give a fig about sunsets or puppies and even struggle to shed a tear for a dying relative, then try giving this one a watch: Dancing for humanity

Happy Friday 🙂