Mike Skinner’s souper new way to distribute music

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the genre bending Beat Stevie podcasts by The Streets of late. Mike Skinner and Ted Mayhem fuse together everything from Dubstep to Country, overlayed with the kind of nonsense hilarious conversations that you wish you could have all the time.  They fill the 3 hour long drive on trips back to see my parents nicely, they’ve helped find a common ground in music taste between my wife and I and they’ve got me through the most arduous days at work.

Mike Skinner’s use of social media has been trumpeted recently; his constant stream of Youtube video responses to fans questions on Twitter and poetic ramblings over his trademark beats are enough to keep any fan baying for more. He’s amongst a lineup of celebrities that “get” technology and social media and know how to make the most of it for their own benefit.

His latest “stunt” is to release the newest episode of the Beat Stevie podcast through the use of a an iPhone app, a barcode on his website and a second barcode which you have to hunt down. The second barcode is printed on the side of a 300g tin of Heinz Tomato Soup. There’s doubtless going to me a lot of frustated fans, those without iPhones and those whose local supermarket don’t stock that soup come to mind straight away.  But it doesn’t matter, it’ll be talked about, a lot, which is the exactly the point.

Right I’m off to the Co-op, do you need anything?

UPDATE: I’ve realised you can photograph the barcode on the website twice to get the podcast in case you refuse to shop anywher but M&S.

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Open mailto: links in Gmail

If you’re a Windows user, use Gmail and like me are sick of mailto: links opening Outlook this could save you any more of those argggggggh moments.

DISCLAIMER: If you don’t know how to modify the registry, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. If you do it, you do so at your own risk.

Update the registry value at:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\mailto\shell\open\command

to be:

“C:\Users\[YOUR_USERNAME_HERE]\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” http://mail.google.com/mail?extsrc=mailto&url=%1

or if you use Windows Server 2003 like me:

“C:\Documents and Settings\[YOUR_USERNAME_HERE]\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” http://mail.google.com/mail?extsrc=mailto&url=%1

UPDATE: Someone has pointed out that there’s a Chrome extensions for that :

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/dgkkmcknielgdhebimdnfahpipajcpjn



Amazon acquire Lovefilm

After being the major shareholder since 2008, Amazon have apparently bought out the remaining shares in a deal thought to value Lovefilm at £312 million.

See Techcrunch Post for more details

I imagine this is part of a content play for Europe in preparation for the rumoured Amazon Android tablet along with their App store which I expect will ultimately become something akin to iTunes.


Rubber Dinghy Rapids

I’m probably amongst the minority of my peers on this but for some time I’ve questioned the actions of those of my friends who regularly risk the potential legal ramifications of torrenting 1000’s of videos and albums every year and who have fallen foul to a plethora of viruses and Trojans from bogus downloads. I’ve not been a fan of pirating since my days at university when Napster was all new and the talk of the web and even less so since I took up camp at the 7digital offices where piracy is obviously one of our biggest competitors alongside messrs Jobs and Bezos. I certainly don’t advocate the theft of copyrighted material, it puts my job at risk, but after this weekend I’ve begun to understand why it happens.

After being reminded that I still hadn’t seen the Chris Morris film Four Lions I went to 3 HMV stores on Saturday but was unable to find it in any of them. I could have ordered it from Amazon but it would have arrived mid week and I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to watching it for weeks. I wanted to watch it that night. It wasn’t available on Zune or SkyPlayer on the XBox so I had a look round a few sites online but nowhere would allow me to buy it and then stream it to my TV through the Xbox 360 due to the DRM or requirement to use proprietary software. So I chose to torrent it.

The movie downloaded in around 20mins and the torrent client I chose, Vuze, has a DNLA client to allow me to stream it directly to my Xbox with no intervention – it even automatically converts it into the right format if necessary. The endless choice, ease and speed of the process makes it so effortless – if I could have that same service and pay for it I definitely would.

With the number of connected devices in the average household increasing and the advent of connected TV sets we need better licensed services in the UK that are simple for the average non technical person to use and made available on these platforms. I’m pleased to see Sky and Lovefilm have already taken a step into console integration with their movie services on XBox 360 and PS3 respectfully. There’s iTunes too, but you need an Apple TV device to play through your TV.   Outside of movies there are several good services (iPlayer, Seesaw and Skyplayer) but again they are only usable through a web browser. These existing services also need to look to make their content available through more platforms like Boxee and Roku so that they are simple plug and play services.

DISCLAIMER: I am actually now going to buy Four Lions from Amazon, it would have been better to be able to pay the studio, Optimum Releasing, directly with some form of honesty box system though.

Oh and the title of this blog post is taken from a quote in the movie and for those of you that haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend that you watch it, it’s laugh out loud funny all the way through.


The music industry goes lean

There’s been a bit of chatter today about Sony and Universal deciding that they will try putting new singles on sale as soon as they get radio airplay to try and reduce piracy. The existing model has new singles getting heavy radio airplay for several weeks before they go on sale in order to boost first week sales.

As consumers we are demanding, we are used to getting things now so making us wait means we will go elsewhere so it should have a positive effect. I’m doubtful that it’s going to make a massive impact on the piracy problem especially with those that never buy music – but then I guess that was money the labels were never going to see in the first place.