I don’t understand why piracy is still a thing in 2016

I know I’ve talked about this before, but after listening to the song “Exposure Bank” by Sunrise Skater Kids, I’ve been thinking about the issue of piracy again. I just don’t understand how piracy is still seen as an acceptable route to obtain media without paying in 2016. With all of the options available today, getting access to a wide variety of media, be it music, movies, tv shows or even magazines, has become easier than ever. Spotify and Apple Music effectively let you download just about any album you can imagine for the price of a single album a month. Downloading music to your phone using Apple Music, for example, is as easy as searching for an artist and tapping a download button next to an album. It’s much faster and more reliable than pirating music, and it’s safer too. So why do people still pirate?

“We have so many loyal fans, It’s good to know our future rests in their hands, We all do this for the thrill, Real musicians don’t need much to pay the bills”

Napster became a thing when I was in middle school and it truly did revolutionize the way I consumed music. Before Napster I had very limited means of accessing music. My exposure to music came from what was played on the radio, what few CD’s I could buy in a year, and the music shared between friends (occasionally by trading ‘burned’ CD’s). Once I discovered Napster essentially the entire history of music became available at the click of a button. I was able to discover music quicker than ever before, and rather than spending hours at FYE using their listening stations, I could just download a song and if I didn’t like it I’d delete it.

“Buying bad music is the worst, Be sure to download every album, piracy comes first. Once you decide you like it, Get some merchandise and we’ll be supported.”

For a while most of my music was acquired via piracy, however the launch of the iPod and eventually the iTunes store changed everything again. All of a sudden it was easier to purchase a digital album than it was to pirate it. You would be guaranteed a certain level of quality for a price that CD’s could never compete with. The iTunes store was the first step in the right direction in an effort to supersede piracy as the default method of acquiring music, however in recent years another revolution has changed the music industry yet again: streaming.

When I first discovered Spotify’s premium service, which allowed you to download entire albums from just about every artist you could think of in a matter of seconds, my mind was blown. Once again an entire world of music became available to millions of users at the tap of a screen. Spotify Premium became the way I consumed music (outside of the car, in which I still enjoy my SiriusXM radio) until I switched to Apple Music upon its release. Apple Music works much the same as Spotify does, however I like the app better.

Apple Music iTunes

I can’t understand how anyone with any sort of appreciation for music could still pirate in 2016. For just $120 a year you can essentially “own” every piece of music that releases that year and all the years past. Not only that, but you have access you your entire music library on all of your devices, without ever having to transfer any files. It’s so easy it boggles my mind why anyone wouldn’t subscribe to a streaming music service.

$10 a month for all the music your ears desire seems too good to be true, and while it’s great for consumers there is some validity to the fears that the services short change artists. That, combined with the fact that I love vinyl, is the reason I still continue to buy music that I really love. For example, I’ve recently become obsessed with The Strumbellas and immediately ordered their “We Still Move on Dance Floors” album, and pre-ordered their upcoming album “Hope” on vinyl (I also bought both on iTunes, as I REALLY love them and want to support them!)

“Yeah, pats on the back, Yeah, live on the streets, You’re entitled to our music, You did so much to deserve it, Yeah, download a car, Yeah, don’t need to eat.”

There are so many options in other forms of media as well. The app Texture offers a sort of ‘Netflix for magazines” where for either $10 or $15 a month you get access to a wide variety of magazines including back issues. The higher priced plan includes weekly publications such as The New Yorker, TIME and Newsweek.

As for movies and TV, Hulu now offers an add on subscription to Showtime for $9 a month, and HBO and Starz both have streaming services that no longer require cable. You can get access to a wide variety of movies for relatively little money by subscribing to these services. If you want the latest and greatest, I still think the iTunes store offers great prices on movies. I’ve grown my library quite a bit lately just by watching out for sales in which popular movies go on sale for $9.99 or less on iTunes. A lot of new releases sell for $14.99 as well, which is cheaper than DVD’s and Blu Rays ever were. It’s cheaper than ever to watch movies legally, for the sake of the entertainment industry I hope that more people start to choose the high road.

 

Advertisements

Apple Music on Android may be in Beta still, but it’s terrible

The Apple Music experience on Android has not been enjoyable since its release. Granted, it’s been in a perpetual beta status since its launch on Android, but I still expect better. I’ve had a wide variety of issues with the app which make it difficult to use, and I’m often temped to return to Spotify until I get an iPhone.

One of the most annoying g problems I have with the app is that my downloaded music seems to somehow get corrupted. The music will show that it is downloaded to my phone, but the songs will not play when I don’t have an Internet connection. They simply appear to load indefinitely. What’s strange is that sometimes music that worked fine offline will suddenly stop working offline for no apparent reason. I’ll have to remove the download and re-download them to get them to work offline again. Nothing is more annoying than downloading something to listen to on the bus ride to work and have it not play once I’m away from WiFi.

Another issue I have that’s just as annoying is that the app crashes often. So often that my phone recommended I remove the app. Crashes happen while clicking on a song, browsing playlist or even when I try to skip a track. When the app doesn’t crash it will start and stop playing songs at random. At the gym I’ll hit play, slip my phone into my pocket and in about five seconds the song will just stop playing. I’ll try to restart the song but the play button disappears, and surprise, the app soon crashes again.

Despite all these problems, I don’t necessarily blame Apple. My entire Android experience has been terrible, and I often find myself contemplating paying off my Galaxy S6 early to get back to the much better platform of the iPhone.

It’s worth noting that Apple Music works perfectly fine on my MacBook and iPad, and overall I enjoy those experiences more than the Spotify experience. That’s the only thing that has kept me from switching back.

My urBeats by Dre stopped working

urbeats box

It was just a few weeks ago that I picked up a pair of urBeats by Dre to use at the gym, and they’ve already failed on me. Last week while running the right earbud went silent. All of a sudden it was much quieter than the left earbud, and nothing I did was able to fix the problem. I did a search and found that many other users have experienced similar problems with Beats earbuds and I was pretty disappointed. The headphones worked great at drowning out the sounds of the gym while providing excellent bass and wonderful sound, but I never expected a $100 pair of headphones to last only a few weeks.

I didn’t have the receipt and didn’t think I’d be able to exchange them. Despite this doubt, I went over to the Bx this morning and sure enough they allowed me to exchange them for a new pair, but told me if anything else were to happen I’d have to contact the company (a trip to the Beats website refers you to Apple customer support) in the future.

Hopefully my experience was just a rare case and this pair will actually last a while, but my view of the Beats brand has already been slightly tarnished.

urbeats by Dre

Dr. Dre’s ‘Compton’ released today

dr dre compton

Hip Hop fans have been waiting for the third Dr. Dre album for well over a decade. His second album, 2001, was released in 1999 and his third album has been talked about and teased since the year 2001. The album, then referred to as Detox, was expected to be released in 2005, 2008 and 2010 but it never materialized. A lot of fans started to doubt if there would ever be another Dr. Dre record, myself one of them.

Dr. Dre finally gave fans what they’ve wanted for years when he announced last week that his third album, now titled Compton, would finally release via Apple Music and iTunes on August 7th. He also revealed that he would be donating his royalties from the album to create a performing arts center in Compton.

Compton can be listened to by Apple Music subscribers or can be purchased on iTunes for $13.99.

dr. dre compton itunes

I haven’t purchased very many albums in recent years, however the second I heard that Dr. Dre was finally releasing an album (for real this time) I purchased it. I’ve been listening to Compton all day and it’s an incredible album. The beats, most of which produced by Dre, are superb (“Darkside/Gone” and “Issues” are two standouts). The list of collaborators on the album is also impressive. Compton features verses from those who have worked with Dre before (Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Xzibit) alongside newer and lesser known artists (Kendrick Lamar, King Mez, Justus and many more).

Compton is a strong album from beginning to end. I’ve enjoyed listening to it at the gym this morning and with the windows down in the car all throughout the day. I just can’t stop listening to it.

The album has well received by critics so far, with a score of 85 on Metacritic so far. The New York Times review offers Dre high praise, as Jon Caramanica writes “His true peers aren’t other hip-hop producers, not even tenured greats like Kanye West or Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes or even DJ Premier […] Ever since “The Chronic,” it’s been clear that Dr. Dre’s real peers are film-score composers — say, John Williams or James Horner — who communicate emotional direction with broad, legible strokes that set the tone for the details to be sprinkled atop them.”

 

OS X Yosemite download troubles

Quick update, after giving it just a few minutes after posting this I was able to get Yosemite to start downloading. Yay!

Hey there, sorry I haven’t been around over the last week or so, but I returned home from my summer ‘deployment’ (more like 4 months TDY seeing as we spent it in Hawaii and Korea) last Friday and have been busy since then.

OS X Yosemite was finally made available and I was quite excited to install it, only to hit a roadblock this afternoon as I’m unable to download the update. I’ll continue trying as the evening goes on, and hopefully I’ll be checking out Yosemite later tonight or sometime tomorrow.

When I click the download button I’m first hit with the message “This item is temporarily unavailable” and then once I hit ‘OK’ I see another error, “We could not complete your request.

OS X Yosemite download error

OS X Yosemite download error

 

Are you having any luck getting the update? Have it already? What do you think about it?

 

 

First listen: U2 – Songs of Innocence

Songs of Innocence

I’ve never actually sat down and listened to U2 before. I’ve heard their songs and have a good idea of what they sound like but I’ve never listened to any of their albums, or really actually paid attention to any of their songs. A lot of people love U2, I’ve just always known they’re not a band for me. Heck all I even know about U2 is they have hugely popular concerts, Bono wears sunglasses all the time and they seem to be involved in a lot of causes and world politics (whether this is true or not I couldn’t say).

U2 has been in the news a lot lately because Apple in a sense ‘bought out’ their thirteenth album Songs of Innocence and released it to half a billion iTunes users for free during their iPhone 6 reveal. Who doesn’t like free music? Well apparently the internet doesn’t. People immediately complained that the album snuck into their iTunes libraries unwanted. Personally, I feel the complaints are absolutely absurd and there will always be someone out there who will complain about anything. They could’ve given a $10 iTunes gift card to everyone in the world and somewhere out there on the internet someone would find a way to complain about it.

U2 songs of innocence iTunes page

Since I’ve never listened to U2 before I’ve decided I’d give the album a listen and write down a few thoughts about it. So here we go, I’m hitting play.

Aside from a handful of moments, (“The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)”, “Volcano” and “Sleep Like a Baby Tonight”) I can’t say I’ve found much to like in this album. Most of it sounds unremarkable, background music that falls apart when listened to closely. Reading the lyrics in the digital book as I listen doesn’t help. Most everything just comes off as boring.

The parts I like most is when Bono doesn’t sound like Bono. “Sleep Like a Baby Tonight” and the verses of “Volcano” stand out as favorites (not a huge fan of the chorus). I like the darkness in his voice in those two songs in particular. The verses of “Volcano” even have a slight Marilyn Manson sound vocally which I love. If the rest of the album had more of that dark sound and less of the typical, soaring sound that has bored me for years without even having had to listen to a U2 album.

Songs of Innocence

I rated every song as I listened, and going off of the iTunes star rating Songs of Innocence gets 2 out of 5 stars based off my first listen. Seeing as how I’ve never listened to any other U2 album I can’t really say whether this is a particularly good or bad U2 album. I read in TIME that U2 sees this album as one of their best, so it may just be that I don’t like U2.

 

Bioshock is now available on iOS

Bioshock iOS

So I was browsing the App Store today and was surprised to find that Bioshock is now available on iOS for $14.99. I had absolutely no idea that it was even coming to iOS, and now here it is, ready to be enjoyed on the go on my iPad Air! I was quite excited when I saw it, so I just wanted to pop in and share the news in case anyone else was unaware that this was actually coming.

I’ll be sure to share my experience after I play it a bit. Most of the reviews are quite positive so I’m excited to dig in and enjoy this wonderful game yet again!