SoundTracking: the radio station in my head finally finds a broadcast model!

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything about an iOS app (well, on this blog anyway) but I’m more hooked on this one than Charlie Sheen is on ‘winning’

SoundTracking is, as Sarah Lane described it on the opening episode of ‘The Social Hour’ (nee ‘Net@Night’) as ‘a blip.fm style client for the iPhone.’ Blip.fm being the most prominent social music network I can think of other than Pandora. Blip does, however have one archilles heel. There is no official mobile client, the third party client that supports it is as reliable as an old Skoda and the website just doesn’t work on iOS.

And this is where SoundTracking comes in.

Like some other people, I have a radio station (or to don the mannerisms of a hipster, a playlist) in my head. Just tunes I’ve listened to throughout my life just pop into my head and roll around there only to be replaced by another tune sometime later. I like sharing those songs with other people and I’m in the fortunate position that no-one seems to complain about it. Some people even follow what I listen to!

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So, to start. The screenshot above is what you get once you’ve signed up and plugged any combination of your Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare credentials into the app. You can pick the song that’s playing on your iPod app, you can use the SoundHound-esque listening feature if you’re just hearing a stunning mystery song for the first time, or you can do what I do and type the artist and title in manually.

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As you type in a title the app will start guessing what you’re looking for. Handy if you only remember half the title.

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The database of songs and artists is pretty comprehensive, but not exhaustive. If your song can’t be found you can still keep the details, you just won’t get quite the same experience with the rest of the app.

Once your song is loaded you get this screen.

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And from here you can throw in some nice metadata. From photos

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(you can choose a photo of the artists, a photo from your Camera Roll or you can take a new photo)

To location data (provided by FourSquare)

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And a description that gets pushed out as the lead-in for your tweet and/or your status update.

Once you’re done, hit ‘Preview’ and SoundTracking packages your post up and displays your post in both a mobile site and a full website, complete with a song preview (assuming SoundTracking found your song earlier) and a link to buy it on iTunes. You can then hit ‘Send’ and it’s on it’s way to the big wide world of internets.

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There are a bunch of social networking features within SoundTracking itself such as likes, loves, follows and unfollows (the best of Facebook and Twitter, apparently), but I put more effort into piping the posts out to my linked networks.

There are one or two flaws still in this app. The list of Foursquare places isn’t as complete as it is in the Foursquare app itself, but SoundTracking have a good track record of fixing bugs so far, and since this is a free app, I’m not loathe to say you get what you pay for.

So I’m going to keep using this for sharing my tastes in music and the special moments that coincide therewith. I can do it on the go, and it’s a great user experience. If you’re one of these people with a built-in jukebox, or you want to add some context to the reasons you love your favourite songs this app is absolutely for you!

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30 Day Song Challenge: What I can play, and what I wish I could play

I wanted to show you the video of myself playing the SuperMario Bos. theme with Saxual Innuendo (a group that plays arrangements of videogame & anime music) but it looks like it got taken down for some reason 😦 so I found this one from the same set instead.

http://www.youtube.com/user/SaxualInnuendoNZ#p/a/u/2/Y2AROKatOu8

I’m the only one wearing a jacket.

As for what I wish I could play, It’s more a matter of who I wish I could play like:

I mean, sure I can remix my favourite tunes, but when it comes to live performance, it would take me a long time to get this good!

I, TECHNOLOGIST: Kraftwerk’s new app, and how artists are branching out.

This’ll be the first post I’ve actually done in my I, Technologist ‘column’ despite having several good ideas for it.

As readers of this blog have probably established, I’m really into music and although I’ll listen to any song I find audibly pleasing, my preferences do tend towards the electronic. You’ll no doubt have seen in my 30 Day Song Challenge posts and indeed in the music I make myself. Even if you know very little about electronic music, I’m sure if I were to ask you to name a seminal electronic artist most of you would think of that German powerhouse, Kraftwerk (see what I did there?)

Kraftwerk have been around since the start of the 1970s, and while their lineups and sound did change a little over time they have developed a massive legion of fans who really appreciate their work (if the above video is anything to go by.) Fast-forward six years from that performance, and the latest work to come out of the Kling Klang studios is the aptly-named Kling Klang Machine No.1. In keeping with the band’s avant-garde ethos, KKM1 is not a CD, DVD, or even an Mp3 download, Instead it is a fully interactive iOS app.

My first reaction to this is one of feeling connected to the band. I really like the idea of a group releasing an interactive ‘album’ style app. To me it seems like a great way to interact with your fans, and for your fans to interact with your music. The app that got me hooked on iOS in the first place was Brian Eno’s Bloom, an ambient musicbox of sorts which a user could play by tapping on the screen, or just have the app play itself. A great tool for people wanting something other than whitenoise to fall asleep to.

I definitely see the downside of this release being limited to an app, and even more limited to iOS. In the real world, most people still don’t have an iDevice, and even more people don’t have a smartphone at all. That’s why I liked the release of Metallic Spheres  (a collaboration between Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and another founding father or electronic music, The Orb.) It was released in a single CD package, a 2CD package (with the second disc mixed in 3D60) a vinyl record, mp3 downloads at all the reputable digital outlets, and on top of all that, a semi-interactive iOS app.

This model seems like it would cover the widest gamut of fans possible, from audiophiles with bazillion-dollar turntables, to the musically curious high schooler with the first-gen iPod touch they bought on TradeMe with their checkout clerk money, to the Pink Floyd/The Orb fan who still walks around with a Sony discman in his hand. Compared to this, KKM1 appears to be limited to those who can afford Apple’s products (even if it has less stringent system requirements than the Metallic Spheres app)

Overall I highly appreciate artists taking advantage of this new form. I have no doubt that it’s technical limitations will be circumvented by cleverer young people than I, so I see a bright future for the app-as-album. Who knows, maybe at some electronic concert in the future the performing artist will invite a group of punters up on stage with their tablets or smartphones to play one of the artists hit tunes together. Now assuming musical ability, that would be a grand sight (and sound) indeed…

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 24 – A song you want played at your funeral

Weirdly enough. This is the post I’ve been looking forward to the most, after the song no-one would expect me to like.

I want this song at my funeral because of the lyrics, particularly because I will be going home when I die (by the grace of God) and by extension of that this song punctuates the phrase ‘rest in peace.’

So, in the event of my death (and it will happen eventually) I hope someone is taking note of this blog post, because at some point during my funeral I want someone to play this:

if you’re stuck for musos, the CD is about 2/3 of the way down my CD rack.

30 Day Song Challenge: 22 & 23 – Sad songs, and wedding music that wasn’t.

I kinda took a break from stuff over the weekend, so I’m only posting the last two updates now.

Day 22 is a song you listen to when you’re sad. To me, the ultimate sad song is usually Portishead’s The Rip

But I could also go for Radiohead’s Pyramid Song


Day 23 is a song you want to play at your sedding. I got married 14 months ago, so I guess this is more a song I didn’t get to play at my wedding even though I wanted to.
London Elektricity – Just One Second (Apex Remix)