Category Archives: Arts

Passing iTunes Match off as Innovation

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Much media frothing occurs whenever Steve Jobs condescends to make public the latest from the masters of innovation at Apple. Today he is announcing, among some other things, iCloud. By copyrighting the phrase which sticks a characteristic “i” in front of the word, “cloud,” Jobs ordains cloud computing as having finally arrived to the level of cool.

Cloud computing has been around for years. It basically means taking the brains and data of some system and putting it on the internet so that it is available through any internet device that can run a browser.

In his “one more thing” moment, Jobs announced iTunes Match. This is a service that identifies the music that you own and gives you some form of “credit” for that music so that you can stream it from your device without having to upload it into the cloud.

This was a nifty trick popularized by LaLa music several years ago. Apple bought them, and then they shut them down. They killed LaLa music a year ago, and now they are dressing up the same idea as something new and innovative. The only thing innovative about iTunes Match is that it manages to charge customers $25 a year for a service that was free from LaLa.

In its typical way Apple has taken a product, spruced up its user interface, given it a veneer of “cool,” made it more expensive, and offered it up as the latest innovation. I have no reason to believe that Apple’s adoring fans will not lap it up and pat themselves on the back for being an early adopter of the leading edge in music delivery.

Who the Heck is Esperanza Spalding?

Grammy Award

Image via Wikipedia

The Grammy awards have always been a bit of a joke. They are notorious for ignoring the best artists and music. The Best New Artist Award is one of their most dicey categories. They are so prone to fall for the latest “cool” artist that they frequently honor artists who are nothing more than a flash in the pan.

This year’s award went to Esperanza Spalding.  I confess, I have never heard of her.  Now that doesn’t mean that she will prove to be a flash in the pan  (Where did she spark a flash?), but based on their track record, I’m not sure I’d be celebrating much if I were her.

She joins the ranks of artists such as Amy Winehouse, Evanescence, Norah Jones, Shelby Lynne, Lauryn Hill, Paula Cole, Marc Cohn, Milli Vanilli, Tracy Chapman, Bruce Hornsby and the Range, Christopher Cross, Rickie Lee Jones, A Taste of Honey, Debby Boone, Starland Vocal Band, and Marvin Hamlisch. They beat out Taylor Swift, 50 Cent, John Mayer, Avril Lavigne, Brad Paisley, Backstreet Boys, Puff Daddy, Boyz II Men, Dire Straits, Elvis Costello, Toto, The Cars, Foreigner, Boston, and Bad Company.

Other artists who lost to lesser talents include: Jefferson Airplane, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, and the Eagles. Artist who were not even nominated? Well, that would include the entire slate of Motown artists. In 1970, Michael Jackson and his brothers had 4 number one hits, but the Jackson 5 was never nominated for best new artist. However, the Partridge Family got a nomination that year. Hip-Hop and Rap artists are routinely snubbed. One would think that this category would be a shoo-in for American Idol winners. Yet, only Carrie Underwood has won (or even been nominated, I think).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as thrilled as anyone when an artist I like wins a Grammy. I still remember in 1974 how thrilled I was that Stevie Wonder won the album of the year Grammy. This was the first time an African-American had ever won this award, so the deck was stacked against him. Most believe that his success at the Grammy’s and within the larger music elite was possible because of the credibility he gained by touring with the Rolling Stones in 1972.

Also, I have nothing against Esperanza. She lists Stevie Wonder as a major influence, and so I would probably like her. She may be a major new talent. All I’m saying is that this award is not a very good predictor of future success or promise.