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Here’s What’s Wrong with Classical Music on Streaming Services (Part Whatever)

Classical music is hard to get right on streaming services. From dodgy metadata to inconsistent work names, it’s a real slog to stream classical music (if you want more than just the Bolero or Satie’s Gymnopedies).

unCLASSIFIED, an affiliate of the Naxos Music Group, a large independent classical record label and distributor, creates playlists. They’ve been doing this for Spotify for a while, and they are now on Apple Music. Here’s the kind of playlists they offer:


As the description says, whether you “need a soundtrack for studying…” As if there aren’t any other reasons to listen to classical music. Oh, wait, there are: there is “Serenity Now,” because classical music is “serene.” Or classical music for running, because, I don’t know, you run better with Mozart? And Supper Club, so you can seduce your date with some subtle Bach playing in the bachground.

There’s also brain fuel, a “TranceClassical” playlist by some single-named, unknown person, and “Sounds Without Boundaries,” which is a mash-up of contemporary music with traditional instruments (lots of Icelandic composers, movie soundtracks, and even a track from Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, which no one in the world wants to listen to voluntarily. I know; I listened to the entire album once.)

This is the dumbing down of classical music. Taken this way, classical music is just muzak. It’s designed for a mood or task, like that won’t-ever-go-away Classical Music for Elevators playlist I keep seeing in Apple Music’s For You recommendations.

Let’s just accept that classical music will never work on streaming services unless it is treated the way a good classical radio station would. I don’t think playlists need to contain, say, entire operas or full Mahler symphonies, but dumbing it down like this in an attempt to make classical music “cool” just alienates those people who do like classical music.

Spotify Is Now Letting Other Companies Check Out Your Tunes — And You – NPR

Now, add Spotify to the list of platforms that are opening up their user data to targeted advertising: Yesterday, Spotify announced the global rollout of programmatic buying, which will means third-party companies will have access to the 70 million fans who use Spotify’s free, ad-supported streaming across 59 territories and regions around the world, from the U.S. and the U.K. to the South Pacific.

As Spotify points out in its press release about this development, companies will be able to target Spotify users not just by their age, gender, language and geography — but also by the genres and playlists they choose to listen to. And those companies will be able to look for specific wedges of the audience that they think are the best matches for the products and services they’re selling, in 15- and 30-second chunks of time.

Apple wouldn’t do this.

Source: Spotify Is Now Letting Other Companies Check Out Your Tunes — And You – NPR

The iTunes Guy on Bookmarking Audiobooks, External Hard Drives, and More

itunesguy-thum-100004188-gallery.jpgThe summer is here, and lots of people want to relax and enjoy the weather. But there are still problems with iTunes that keep them from listening to their music and books in peace. In this week’s column, I look at a question about bookmarking audiobook files, help solve a problem with iTunes media on an external hard drive and an issue with app updates in iTunes, and then discuss Apple’s cloud offerings for music.

Read this week’s Ask the iTunes Guy at Macworld.

Use Composition Mode in Scrivener to Write Without Distractions

Many writers like a distraction-free environment. OS X lets you put any app into full-screen mode, removing things such as the Dock and menu bar from view. But Scrivener, the powerful writing app, has a neat trick which offers an even better display: it’s called Composition Mode.

To enter Composition mode, click the Compose button on the Toolbar or choose View > Enter Composition Mode (or press Command-Option-F). Here’s what you see. (In the screenshot below, my cursor is at the bottom of the screen to display the Control Strip.

Composition mode

You have several display options in this mode. You can choose the text size; the paper position (left, center, or right); the paper width; and the background translucency. The Control Strip also lets you see a word count and character count, if you write to a specific word count, or if you have that writer’s anxiety of not having written enough words in a day and want to check, every few minutes, to see where you are.

There are also buttons to display the Inspector, access keywords, and to go to a different file in your project. There is also a full pane of preferences for Composition Mode in the Scrivener Preferences (File > Preferences). You can set editing options, paper and background colors, and much more.

When you are in Composition mode, you can still access all of Scrivener’s menus. To do this, move your pointer to the top of the screen to display the program’s menu bar. You can then select any menu items as you would in normal view mode.

To exit Composition Mode, just press Escape, or click the double-arrow button at the right of the Control Strip.

I love working in this mode, because of the lack of distractions, and the quick access to elements that I need in the Control Strip. If you use Scrivener, check out Composition Mode.

I’m currently updating my Take Control of Scrivener ebook, which should be out in a couple of weeks. If you’re a Scrivener user, check it out.

BBC Prommers: Clapping between movements is ‘barbarous’ – Telegraph

It was once the scourge of classical music traditionalists, then embraced by the powers-that-be in attempts to make concerts less intimidating to excited new audiences.

But it appears Proms modernisers could be losing their battle to insist clapping in between movements is perfectly welcome.

While the new director of BBC Proms confesses he “loves” hearing enthusiastic audiences clap, his own die-hard audience members have dismissed the practice as “barbarous”.

I actually loathe the experience of attending classical concerts, with their codified rules of applause, demands of encores, the guy who yells “Bravo!” as soon as the music is over, and the annoyance of those who make even the slightest noise. Calling clapping barbarous is simply a way of expressing superiority. And it’s childish: “Do it my way, or don’t come to the concert!”

Classical music needs new listeners, not more people put off by anal concert-goers who get irked by any expression of emotion. I had thought that the BBC Proms were much less stressed than that, but I guess I was wrong.

Source: BBC Prommers: Clapping between movements is ‘barbarous’

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Writings about Macs, music and more by Kirk McElhearn