Gino Robair is former editor of EM

Archive for December, 2009

Music Delivery in the Post-Future


Over 40 years ago, Mr. McGuire told us there was a great future in plastics. But it’s clear that, in the case of music delivery, we’re entering the “post-future” (to quote Anthony Braxton). Although CD-Baby founder Derek Sivers argues that you “alienate a percentage of your potential audience” by going download-only and not releasing a CD, I find myself wondering how long it will last (if it’s even true)? (In the UK this week, the number one single was a download-only oldie that doesn’t even have a holiday theme!)

Anecdotally speaking, I see more and more musicians giving up on physical formats, both as consumers and as artists. Although I know a handful of groups that can still sell CDs like hotcakes from the bandstand, an overwhelming number of artists can barely give them away, which has led to resignation and disappointment. Instead, CDs and CD-Rs are being treated more and more as business cards than as sellable product, primarily because clubs, radio, and the press don’t take you serious unless you’ve “invested in yourself” (as the booker of one San Francisco bar told me). But it has been clear for years that, at some point, music will be as easy to access as water, once we figure out how the tap will work and what the corresponding metaphor that equals a public utility will be. How will we invest in ourselves as artists at that point? more

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Not Quite a Top 5, But Almost…

Despite the severe economic downturn, this has been a great year for gear, with plenty of useful, convenient and, in some cases, downright innovative stuff helping brighten these dark times. As we enter the holidays, I’d like to share a couple of highlights from 2009, just in case you’re making that last-minute wish list.

Let me start by saying that I don’t have any ties to the manufacturers mentioned. I’m recommending these items because I like them and find them remarkable in some way. The list is arranged by price—low to high—to make it manageable for those of you on a budget (and/or COBRA). All prices are MAP (minimum advertised price) unless otherwise noted.

Cleartune Chromatic Tuner for the iPhone

Cleartune Chromatic Tuner for the iPhone ($3.99)
Although it’s not a free app, it’s inexpensive compared to a dedicated hardware unit, and it’s the best $4 you’ll spend for a tuner in your life. It has a 10-octave range, with an easy-to-read display that shows you how sharp or flat you are by as much as ±25 cents.

Most importantly, Cleartune is convenient. If you’re a guitarist, you can set the iPhone on your amp and the app will register what you’re playing and give you an accurate reading—even on a noisy stage. Just be sure to put your iPhone into Airplane mode, unless you want to hear that annoying cell-phone beep through your amp.

If you’re on the lookout for other interesting apps for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, check out EM‘s special iPhone App Site. more

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