Category Archives: music

Paid Lyrics: Advertising in Music

Following on from the (not so) shocking news that stars from Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’ were paid a small fortune to smoke on screen, I came across the slightly more shocking news that musicians are getting paid similar amounts for product placement in their lyrics.

The practice itself doesn’t surprise me as product placement in music videos has been going on for as long as music videos have existed – this is just an evolution of that practice. What surprises me is that the lyrics for these songs are obviously written after an advertising agreement has been made. Disappointing.

For the amusing back-story to this, head to Wired’s Listening Post and read about how companies pay artists to include brands in lyrics.

In the e-mail, Kluger (who has represented Mariah Carey, New Kids on the Blog, Ne-Yo, Fall Out Boy, Method Man, Lady GaGa and Ludacris) explained via e-mail that for the right price, Double Happiness Jeans could find its way into the lyrics in an upcoming Pussycat Dolls song. Crouse posted the e-mail on his blog at the Anti-Advertising Agency, an art project of sorts that’s basically the philosophical mirror image of a traditional ad agency.

Loud Music Increases Alcohol Consumption

When Gueguen et al. manipulated the music volume in a bar in the west of France, their suspicions were confirmed: louder volumes correlate with higher alcohol consumption.

[T]urning the music up so loud that people are forced to shout at each other doesn’t have quite the same beneficial effect on social interactions. Because everyone is shouting, the bar becomes even noisier and soon people start to give up trying to communicate and focus on their drinking, meaning more trips to the bar, and more regrets in the morning.

Now I’ve got a good excuse for those hangovers: the psychologists made me do it.

via Mind Hacks

Gödel, Escher, Bach

On a large number of ‘best of’ or ‘books that changed my life’ lists I always spot Gödel, Escher, Bach (GEB), the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Douglas Hofstadter.

When my copy arrived at my door recently I was taken aback by this tome and realised that it was going to be a dense read that will need—and hopefully reward—all of my attention. As with similar books, I will undertake background research and reading first so that I can fully appreciate all the concepts contained within.

This is when I found MIT’s ‘special programme’ specifically based on the book. While it doesn’t provide a wealth of useful, supplementary material (much like the Wikipedia entry), it does mention some good Bach pieces to accompany your reading.

Whip Your MP3 Library into Shape

10 years ago I made the decision to shy away from using ID3 tags with my MP3s; at the time they were new, cumbersome, and not really that useful if you already implemented good file-naming conventions. Then my library grew.

A year ago I realised that my archaic way of thinking was getting in the way of simply enjoying my now fast expanding MP3 collection (on a purely indulgent level, and in a perfectionist ‘everything has to be correct’ level). It was then that I made another decision: to correct my error, no matter how long it took. Everything had to be perfect.

Here are the tools I used (and some tutorials below that):

  • Windows
    • Media Monkey – Batch converts to MP3, Ogg, FLAC, etc.; normalizes volume levels; finds and embeds album art (and singles’ art), automatic ID3 tagging; automatic file structuring.
      Media Monkey is just a great, all-round music organiser and player. It’ll even synch with your iPod.
    • MP3Gain – For all its advantages, Media Monkey is quite a ‘heavy’ application. To normalize your volume faster, use the light-weight (and open-source) MP3Gain.
    • MusicBrainz’s Picard – Everything ID3. Artist, album, artwork, etc. I haven’t used it personally, but have heard good things. However I do wonder how it will deal with my singles collection: Wikipedia states, “[Picard focuses] on album oriented tagging as opposed to track based tagging”.
    • Mp3Tag – Another good all-round tagging utility. Light-weight too. Before I moved to Media Monkey (so I had less applications), this was my tool of choice.
  • Linux/Unix
    • AmaroK – The best all-round music application for your free OS. It does everything you need, and more besides. All crammed into a small, fast, light-weight application. Artwork support has been a bit iffy, but maybe the EmbedCover plug-in script will fix that? Don’t forget to enable SQL! (Oh, and it automatically connects to your Last.fm account; sweet!)
    • EasyTAG – I haven’t used it yet, but have a feeling it’s going to be my new best friend. AmaroK will always be my music player of choice, though!
  • Mac
    • Don’t kid yourself, you wouldn’t move away from iTunes even if I paid you. Or if I had your mother at knife-point.
  • Lifehacker’s Alpha Geek: Whip Your MP3 Library into Shape
  • Help
    • My current music library is 100% MP3. I’m trying to fully embrace the open-source culture, so some suggestions on whether or not to convert to Ogg or FLAC is most welcome… as are tutorials and any useful applications.