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music

XM & Sirius Merge Channel Lineup: My Thoughts

By | business, music, news, opinion, rants, technology | 3 Comments

I’ve been an XM subscriber for a good year and a half now, and have always enjoyed their programming lineup. Well, the rumor I had heard lately, that XM and Sirius were going to merge their channel lineup, came true just two hours before posting this. At midnight, the switch took place. It appears more XM channels were replaced by pre-existing Sirius channels than vice-versa. It makes sense, considering Sirius technically bought out XM in the supposed “merger of equals” as the deal was described. (I’ve personally never understood why XM wasn’t the one buying Sirius, considering their significantly larger subscriber base). I have a lot of mixed feelings about the merger. Let’s get started.

First off, I know the merger of redundant programming on two channels (one on each service) into one channel on both will save the company, currently hemmoraging money, lots of coin. Unfortunately, that comes at the expense of many long-time employees at both satellite radio services. I heard the number of people let go was in the hundreds. As far as consolidation goes, I think some of the names of the stations Sirius previously had, that took over XM stations, are silly. I don’t even necessarily listen to the following stations, but they’re relevant examples. Why replace XM’s light alternative rock station “The Heart” with “Sirius XM Love?” Silly name. Then again in some cases neither station’s equivilent station makes any sense. XM’s classic alternative rock channel “Lucy” got replaced by Sirius’ “Lithium.” Go figure either one of those. Some replaced stations do have better names now, though. My favorite station, ’90s & ’00s hot adult contemporary station “Flight 26” was replaced by Sirius’ “The Pulse.” I do like the name better.

I’ve been listening to The Pulse for the past two hours and haven’t really noticed any big differences. I’ve caught a few “new” (to the station) songs sprinkled in, like a catchy track from The Killers I hadn’t heard before, but nothing else out of the ordinary. My guess is the same program director will stay at the reigns, and the only shift will be in the name. The on-air personalities now include two from each station, with the exception of one Flight 26 personality, P.J., who was either let go or was moved to another station. Even the voiceover guy is the same, as I’ve discovered with most other respective channels as I’ve flipped around the dial tonight. The new imaging packages by the voiceover team all say “[Name of station] on Sirius XM] now and come wrapped in a much tighter package, all sounding very quick, snappy, and punchy.

What I don’t get, and don’t agree with, is Sirius XM’s decision to integrate programming lineups but keep channels different on both services. In fact, I think if they’re going to do this, they should go big or go home. What’s the point in having the same channel lineup on both services, yet have different channel numbers for each? I know nothing about exactly how the technology will now be implemented and combined, but my guess would be they could decomission either the XM or Sirius (one or the other) satellites and have only one previous company’s satellites serve the combined subscriber base. It would most definitely save the company a lot of money. Plus, XM’s channel bandwidth could then be used to expand Sirius’. The sound quality on either service has always been questionable. I’ve heard better stereo sound from a cassette tape. The biggest difference can heard when you switch between highly-compressed XM and an insanely-processed, polished-sounding radio station, such as Q94. Using XM’s bandwidth for Sirius’ channels would allow the combined company to allot more bandwidth to each station, effectively dramatically improving sound quality. I’ve heard that music channels are compressed as low as 64kbps (half of what is considered mediocre to good MP3 quality), and some talk channels as low as 16kbps. I can’t confirm this, but I believe it.

Why not just lose the silly Sirius XM moniker and pick one name? I think, for simplicity’s sake, just one should be used. Also, get rid of the channels hardly anyone listens to, like the three French music channels and “The 40s.” How many people do you know in their 80s (that’s how old you’d have to be to reasonably remember music from the 1940s) that listen to satellite radio, much less even know what it is? It’ll be interesting to see how all this plays out, and the response from subscribers. We all knew this was coming. The company is looking to bring value to its shareholders by cutting costs, and this was the quickest way to do just that. I think in the long run, after customers such as myself accept and adapt to the changes, it will be a good thing for everyone.

River City Media Ventures & Downtown Short Pump

By | business, funny, life, movie reviews, music, videos | One Comment

Seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. It’s about time I gave an update! I’ve been too consumed with other websites to keep up with my blog, I guess. I’m moving full steam ahead with my community news and information website, Downtown Short Pump. I’ve been trying to write new, original news stories each and every day, going out to the scene when news happens to get the scoop, and meeting lots of new contacts. I just put together an advertising guide, and hope to sell some ad space soon. Everything’s going really well with the site.

Aside from that, work and school have consumed most of the rest of my time. I work every day at the University of Richmond help desk for Attronica Computers, doing warranty service work on IBM/Lenovo and HP computers. It’s not a bad job at all.

I’m also putting the finishing touches on forming an LLC for my budding business, River City Media Ventures. It should be finalized sometime this week. 5,000 business cards are on their way to my house as I write this to give out to prospective advertisers and area residents. You can’t ever have too much promotion!

I chose to name my business based on other services I offer like web design and didn’t choose anything related to Downtown Short Pump because I have plans for many other different kinds of sites in the future. Downtown Short Pump is just the first. Under River City Media Ventures, I’m also offering web design and many other services I’ll announce at a later time. The plan has always been to provide lower cost design services from the beginning, and it’s starting to catch on. As of today, I have eight clients that need sites designed by the end of November!

That pretty sums everything up briefly. I’m gonna try to start blogging more frequently again, so I’ll have plenty more updates soon!

Exile On Mainstream

By | life, music, opinion | One Comment

I’m a ridiculously-versed music junkie. It’s been established. But not in a cultural or intellectual way. No, I’ve always been a fan of pop, pop-rock, and other processed and acoustically-appealing, unoriginal music. There’s nothing wrong with any of it (with the exception of a few of the new unlistenable bubblegum pop and urban songs). I could easily be a great radio DJ for a any station that plays popular stuff from the past twenty years with all the mainstream stuff I like. But that’s not all there is to the music scene, and I’ve turned a blind eye to the rest of it for way too long.

First off, I’ve just gotten sick of this type of music and hearing the same songs over and over again. I have 200-some channels on my XM Radio in the car, and only listened, until recently, to three or four. How sad is that? So last week I started exploring other stations, and my new favorite is channel 45. It’s called Starbucks XM Cafe. There are many names for the music they play. Some call it coffeehouse music, some call it Triple-A (adult album alternative), and there are others.

Anyway, this station has just gotten me started. There’s so much good stuff out there that’s more down to earth, genuine, original, and appealing. I’ve listened to similar stuff as that station and gotten hooked on the refreshing stream of unprocessed or doctored music. I guess the main thing is I just wanna discover some new artists. If you have a particular favorite alternative artist, comment this post and pass them along! I’m done with this pop crap. There’s so much more to life, musically speaking.

Music Monday: The Similou – “All This Love”

By | music, videos | No Comments

This week I’d like to feature a fresh electronic band out of Sweden. They’re called The Similou. This song came out a year and a half ago, but it’s still a fresh sounding tune with a funky beat. The video is a little weird, but hey, it’s from Sweden. They do things differently. Check it out either way. I think you’ll like the song itself. It’s called “All This Love.”

 

2000s Music: What Will It Be Remembered For?

By | music, opinion, sarcasm | One Comment

I’ve probably delved a little bit into this subject before, but I’ve actually done some deep thinking about it this time. Every decade since the 1950s has had a few things it’s remembered for musically. But what will people be thinking when they look back in ten or twenty years on the music of the 2000s? (As a side note, does that sound weird to anyone else, saying “2000s,” or is it just me?)

Here’s what I’ve been able to gather just by my own humble listening observations. In the early 2000s, you had post-grunge bands start to emerge, such as Three Days Grace and Nickelback. They’re doing well now, but manufactured pop (some of the stuff being played on Top 40 stations such as Richmond’s Q94 is getting almost unlistenable, cheesy and awful lately) has become more commonplace. I can think of two prime examples of annoying, manufactured pop becoming more center-stage.

The first example is Gwen Stefani. She used to be the lead singer of No Doubt in the 1990s and early 2000s. I really liked No Doubt. A few years ago when she started her solo career, she (in my opinion) regressed severely into the teen/bubblegum pop sinkhole (For a thorough definition of the word “sinkhole” in this context, try and force yourself to get through the duration of her song, “Hollaback Girl”).

Second example? Avril Lavigne. She made her debut in the early 2000s as a refreshing alternative pop rock artist with a unique sound. She, too, has now fallen into the hole (Compare her 2002 song “Complicated” with last year’s “Girlfriend” for clarification).

Punk pop groups (I like some, but others drive me up the wall) such as The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Quietdrive, and Simple Plan (Is it just me or do all the lead singers of these bands have the exact same high pitch, whiny voices?), also surfaced a lot more throughout the decade.

The urban scene has also seen unprecedented mainstream growth, and with more varieties. There is a clear difference between the urban sound of even the late 1990s and today. There’s a lot more electronic influence and instruments, as well as voice synthesizers  and a lot of resampling.

Singer-songwriters have made a big comeback, too. James Blunt, Jack Johnson, and John Mayer have seen great success in their careers. Their mellow, voice-driven tracks are refreshing in a sea of otherwise manufactured music. I’ll get to that in a minute. Other successful singer-songwriters like Sara Bareilles and Colbie Caillat have really brought us back to earth in the same respect, as well.

1990s favorites such as The Gin Blossoms, The Goo Goo Dolls, and Collective Soul have made attempts throughout the 2000s to put out new singles and have, for the most part, failed. They just don’t have the musical charisma they had in the late ’90s. Don’t get me wrong, these were some of my favorite artists in the mid 1990s, but they just don’t make the same kind of music anymore. I bet that will change throughout the next decade, because it seems as if trends skip a decade and come back.

Emo music (I’m cringing) will be another thing the decade is remembered for. Evanescence started the trend in the early 2000s, and the movement has grown in recent years. They’re not as bad as some other emo-type bands, but they’re still a little to dark and “I-hate-my-life” for my tastes.

So where do we stand? We’re in the midst of a small 1980s revival, strangely enough in urban music, with the use of ’80s sound effects and keyboards. What’s old is new again. It’s only natural. How much more can we really do technology-wise, without having them all sound manufactured and computer-generated, anyway? There’s been a trend of ’80s music being resampled and artists making successful comebacks, such as INXS, Duran Duran, and The Cars (reincarnated as The New Cars).

It will be really interesting to see where things go as we head into the next decade. It was even more interesting to see the musical soundscape evolve throughout this decade. I was so young in the 1990s that deciphering the music of that decade is more like just digging around in the past. This was right before my eyes, and I find it pretty fascinating.

Powerful Lifehouse Drama About Life’s Temptations

By | music, spirituality, videos | One Comment

A friend of mine showed me this video clip yesterday and it was so incredibly powerful it brought me to tears. It literally sends chills down my spine. It’s amazingly impacting. Watch for yourself and see if it doesn’t do the same thing to you. It’s all about a girl’s struggle with so many things that took her away from the unwavering love of Jesus. She’s pushed down by so many negative influences, but in the end she realizes He is always there with open arms to take her back and make her new again. We’ve all done this and I have certainly done this myself, and it’s the most incredible feeling in the world to know that God is always there to catch you when you fall or go astray.

You can check out the video below. It’s done to the music of the Lifehouse song “Everything.” Please give it a watch. I promise it will be well worth your time.

 

 

Music Monday: Scandal – “Goodbye To You”

By | music | No Comments

So next to mid-’90s music, I really have a thing for ’80s stuff. I’ve been listening to a lot of it lately for some reason. I have almost 300 ’80s songs on my iPod from various artists (I know that sounds like a lot of ’80s, but that’s out of about 3,200 total songs I have from all eras and genres).

Anyway, one of my favorites is one of the biggest hits from the band Scandal, “Goodbye To You.” If I could go back to that decade and had the opportunity, I’d date the lead singer, Patty Smyth, in a heartbeat. You can’t deny she’s pretty attractive in this video. She’s 50 years old now, but still kicking (I know, I know, 50 isn’t that old at all, but you know what I’m saying; she’s still making music). She’s had a few new songs come out in the past couple of years and does shows with the band, too. Check out the video:

 

Rick Rolling

By | funny, music, videos | One Comment

It may not be the latest music video, but it’s latest internet craze. It’s called “Rick Rolling” and it’s pretty clever if you ask me. How does it work? Someone sends a link to a website, video, etc. to an unsuspecting friend. They click on it and are taken to a website and shown the music video for the 1988 Rick Astley hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Apparently over fifteen million people worldwide have been Rick Rolled and it’s the most viral internet video of all time to date. I was Rick Rolled a month or so ago by fellow blogger Kamen after reading his blog post on it.

If you go to the website yougotrickrolled.com and click on “Videos,” you’ll see all the funny ways people have been tricked. The funniest? A basketball game is Rick Rolled with an appearance by Rick Astley himself! Sorta! The largest? The Mets game, opening day. The strangest? At a Scientology protest. All these videos and more are on that page.

This has been going on a while now, but the whole thing got a lot bigger when YouTube redirected every video on the site to “Never Gonna Give You Up” on April Fool’s Day.

It’s amazing to me that this guy, with the sunglasses he wore and moves he had in this music video, was once considered trendy and cool. But times change. I mean I think it’s so cheesy it’s awesome. And plus I don’t dance much better. Seriously I’m not kidding. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about, too! This music video came out the same year I was born.

I now have only one question remaining: What in the heck is this guy doing below? He’s the bartender in the music video. Too funny.