Put your phones away and enjoy the concert.

Jack White is requiring fans to keep their phones in locked pouches during his concerts:

Jack White has discouraged phone use at his live shows for years. In the past, he’s made a point of going onstage and asking fans to keep their phones in their pockets. Now, for his upcoming US tour, he’s trying a more aggressive approach. Fans will be asked to keep their phones secured in a Yondr-branded pouch that can only be unlocked in certain areas of the venue, NME reports.

A statement released today by White’s team says that concertgoers will be banned from taking photos, audio, or video during the tour. “We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON,” the statement reads, according to NME.

Good move by White. I saw Dave Chappelle perform in Oakland a few years ago and he also has a no phone policy.

And to all you wannabe concert cinematographers: No one gives a shit about your shaky clips and you’ll probably never watch them again.

Mix Tapes

Guardians of the Galaxy Is Leading The Unlikely Cassette Tape Revival:

All of that is to say that cassette tapes, an audio format we all thought died an ignominious death in the ‘90s, are back, baby. According to Nielsen Music’s sales numbers, the format is having a quiet revolution. Just in 2017, sales for cassette tapes were up by 35% over 2016, with 174,000 new cassettes sold. Which isn’t, like, huge, but for a retro format that’s not vinyl, that’s pretty incredible.

And leading that revolution is the superheroic maestro of ‘80s nostalgia, Guardians of the Galaxy. The top three selling tapes are all Guardians joints: the first and second volumes of the Awesome Mix and the first volume of the Cosmic Mix. If you’re looking for proof that Marvel and Disney are reshaping pop culture in their image, look no further. Star Lord is so powerful he can revive dead media formats.

This is cute. My guess is this surge in cassette sales is driven by Millennials, but I have no idea.

As someone who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, I was deep into the mix tape culture. One of my favorite things to do was not only arrange great collections of songs, but I took it a step further. I figured out how to to take the white ‘left’ and red ‘right’ audio cables from the VCR (combined with the yellow ‘video’ cable this was know as ‘component cable’) and feed them into the left and right AUDIO IN inputs in the back of my stereo so I could sample my favorite clips from movies between tracks.

Then I bought the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction and realized Quentin Taratino did exactly what I was doing. My mind was blown.

As John Cusack’s character in High Fidelity explained perfectly, there are many rules to making a mix tape:

The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.

The fact that cassette tapes were an analog format meant it took time to make these mix tapes. They weren’t something you could slap together in 5 minutes like you can with a playlist on Spotify.

I’d be curious if kids spend thoughtful time creating playlists like we did with mix tapes. They probably don’t.

Haim in Oakland

Last night my wife and I saw the band Haim perform at the Fox Theatre in Oakland. The girls (all three are sisters) in the band put on a great a show.

They released a video a few months ago for ‘Want You Back’, the first track off their new album, Something to Tell You. I’ve watched it a dozen times. I find it mesmerizing.

They shut down Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles for a few hours (their home city). The final video is one, continuous shot, but it took a total of 15 takes to nail it.

Paying for Shit

SoundCloud stays afloat with emergency investment, as CEO steps aside:

SoundCloud today announced that it has closed the investor round necessary to keep it going for the foreseeable future. As part of the agreement, Alex Ljung will step aside and former Vimeo leader Kerry Trainor will become SoundCloud’s new CEO, with Mike Weissman as COO. Ljung will stay on to “fully focus on the role of the chairman and the long-term.” Billboard reports the exact amount of the investment is $169.5 million, which, says Ljung, makes this infusion “the largest financing round in the history of SoundCloud.”

Companies these days seem to be averse to the stupid, old idea of charging money for a product. It’s all about getting funding, which is not generating revenue.

I know, I know, SoundCloud does charge for their service, but they didn’t until last year.

Seriously, people. If you want a quality product, you have to pay for it. What is so wrong with this idea? This then raises the question, Is SoundCloud a quality service? Many podcasts syndicate their content on SoudCloud, but I get mine from iTunes and I already pay for Spotify Premium.

Remember, when you’re not paying for the product you use, you are the product being sold.

Millenials be loving vinyl.

The Economist’s Prospero blog explains it’s millenials, not baby boomers, who are driving the boom in vinyl sales:

Many consider nostalgia the driving force behind this uptick. Turntables are cheap and easy to get hold of (a Crosley costs less than $100 on Amazon) and so furnish baby boomers with a good excuse to dust off what remains of their collection, and expand it further. But data show that this isn’t a sufficient explanation: nearly 50% of vinyl customers are 35 or younger, according to ICM. Indeed, it is 25-35 year-olds who are the most voracious demographic, taking home 33% (by comparison, 45-54 year-olds are responsible for only 18% of sales). Millennials might like to carry their favourite songs around with them and discover new artists via streaming apps, but they also want to collect that music in album form.

The key word to understand when it comes to records is experience.

We’re physical animals and we enjoy physical activities, particularly in a world getting more and more digital and virtual.

“they wind up dangling on the outer cradle of my ear”

Apple AirPods review: wireless that wows, earbuds that don’t:

If you’ve had trouble with EarPods staying in your ears, there’s a good chance you’ll also struggle with AirPods. There are slight differences in the shapes, which you can see when you put them side by side — EarPods are a bit more round and AirPods are slightly more contoured, which makes them a bit more comfortable — and Apple says this means AirPods should fit more ears than EarPods.

That doesn’t mean AirPods stay in my ears, though. They don’t. Every time I wear AirPods it’s a constant battle to keep them in. They don’t fall out immediately, and when I first twist them in I can get what feels like a snug fit. But they inevitably slide out, especially in my right ear.

When this happens they wind up dangling on the outer cradle of my ear, where sudden or even not so sudden movements knock them loose. Standing up from my desk, turning my head too fast, chewing through a bag of pretzels, touching down on a runway in an airplane — these are all situations where AirPods popped out of one of my ears because I wasn’t constantly readjusting the fit.

I’ve never ever used Apple’s included earbuds with any of my iPhones over the last 9 years — or any of my iPods before that — specifically for this reason.

When earbuds don’t make a perfect seal around my ear, half the bass escapes and sounds like shit. I’ve never understood how people can enjoy using Apple’s earbuds.

For years I’ve been using $15 Sony earbuds. They sound decent and cheap enough that I keep one pair in my gym bag and one pair on my desk. Most recently the model I’ve been buying is the Sony MDREX10LP/BLK In-Ear Headphones.

Old Man, Check Out Your Tracks, They Sound A Lot Like iTunes…

(sing the title like Neil Young’s Old Man)

Jim Dalrymple is happy to report Neil Young has put his albums back in Apple Music.

So nobody bought your shitty, Toblerone-shaped PonoPlayer, did they, Neil? I think a lot of us knew this wasn’t going to work when he first launched his Kickstarter project for it back in October of 2014.

Slate contributor Seth Stevenson reviewed the PonoPlayer in February of 2015. He compared the remastered, ‘PonoMusic’ version of Neil Young’s “There’s a World,” with the iTunes version.

He couldn’t tell the difference, so he conducted the experiment on his colleagues:

I figured maybe my ears were faulty. So I ran an informal experiment. I asked several Slate colleagues to turn their backs while I played them the same 30-second clip on both devices, through headphones. Then I asked them to pick which clip they thought was higher resolution. I mixed up the order—at times playing the Pono first, and at times the iPhone. Some people borrowed my Polk headphones for the test while others used their own equipment. (The quality ranged from Apple earbuds to Klipsch in-ears to high-end Sony studio cans.)

Bottom line: Not one person had any clue whether they were listening to the Pono or to the “inferior” iTunes track. There was zero confidence in determining which was which. When forced to state a preference, six out of seven people actually picked the iPhone as the higher-quality experience. An eighth person refused to guess because he simply had no idea. These folks were in their 20s and 30s, all avid music listeners. A couple of them write about music professionally and one is a video producer.

I think Young’s intentions were good, but I think he wanted to believe so badly that his music sounded better that he convinced himself he was hearing higher fidelity sounds where none existed.

Neil Young unintentially made a placebo music player and sound format.

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