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David Byrne: Open the Music Industry’s Black Box – The New York Times

THIS should be the greatest time for music in history — more of it is being found, made, distributed and listened to than ever before. That people are willing to pay for digital streaming is good news.


Everyone should be celebrating — but many of us who create, perform and record music are not. […] Obviously, the situation for less-well-known artists is much more dire. For them, making a living in this new musical landscape seems impossible. I myself am doing O.K., but my concern is for the artists coming up: How will they make a life in music?


Perhaps the biggest problem artists face today is that lack of transparency.

David Byrne discusses the opaque nature of how streaming music income is distributed.

Source: Open the Music Industry’s Black Box – The New York Times

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Problems Backing Up an iOS Device to iTunes? Try Putting it in Airplane Mode

Over at Kirk’s iTunes Forum, a member posted a question about problems backing up his iPhone. He said:

I have been having a problem with my iPhone 6 Plus where it puts out an error saying the backup failed (during sync) because the iPhone disconnected. And yet it sits there still syncing

Another person chimed in today, and I suggested putting the iPhone into airplane mode, since I have seen that it fixes some sync problems.

Interestingly, it worked, at least for the second user. He said:

So rebooting my Mac and setting the phone to Airplane Mode seems to work. It also worked for my wife’s phone, which was suffering from the same problem.

So, if you’re having problems backing up an iOS device, try putting it in airplane mode. It could be an issue with the device connecting to Apple’s servers. It’s hard to confirm why this works, but if it does work, that’s good enough.

Do post in the comments if this does work for you, or if it doesn’t.

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Learn How to Record Any Audio on Your Mac with My New Book, Take Control of Audio Hijack

Tc audio hijackLearn how to use Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack 3 to capture and enhance any audio playing on a Mac. Audio expert Kirk McElhearn provides instructions for setting up common scenarios — including recording Skype and FaceTime calls, extracting audio from concert DVDs, digitizing LPs, and working with mics and mixers, among much else. Kirk also helps you edit recordings in Rogue Amoeba’s Fission audio editor.

“Find sound advice for recording anything on your Mac!”

You’ll learn how to pipe sound through Audio Hijack to enhance its quality without recording. For example, by boosting the volume or tweaking the bass — movies on Netflix never sounded better!

You’ll also discover special features such as reusable sessions, recording to more than one file (and format) at once, scheduling recordings, time shifting during live playback, effects like ducking and panning, adding automatic metadata before recording, and more.

The Fission chapter has directions for trimming, cropping, adding, replacing, splitting, combining, and fading audio. It also explains how to turn an audio file into a ringtone and — podcasters and educators take note! — how to make a chapterized AAC file.

Get Take Control of Audio Hijack now.

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Finding the Right Words: iOS Dictionaries and Thesauruses

It’s getting to be that time again. Your summer vacation is ending, and you’ll be heading back to school. Either back for another year at the same high school or college, or starting out a new stage of your life in a new school.

One thing you’ll be doing a lot of is writing. You’ll have all sorts of assignments, from simple papers for homework to a Master’s thesis or PhD dissertations. To get good grades, you’ll need to show that you can use words: that you have a good vocabulary, and that you understand the words you use.

There are lots of iOS apps you can get for your iPhone or iPad that can help you: English dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries — if you’re studying a foreign language — and thesauruses, to help extend your vocabulary. Here are 10 of the best free and for pay dictionary apps and thesauruses.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

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Apple Music Matches Files with Metadata Only, not Acoustic Fingerprinting

If you’ve used iTunes Match in the past, you may know that it matches music using acoustic fingerprinting, which means that iTunes scans the music, and matches it to the same music. It doesn’t matter what tags files have: you could have, say, a Grateful Dead song labeled as a song by 50 Cent, and iTunes Match will match the Grateful Dead song correctly. (Here’s how Wikipedia defines acoustic fingerprinting.)

Apple Music, however, works differently. It does not use the more onerous (in time and processing power) acoustic fingerprinting technique, but simply uses the tags your files contain. And it can lead to errors. Here’s an example of how this can be a bit surprising.

Note: I have an iTunes Match subscription, which is active on the computer I used for these tests, so, theoretically, my tracks should be matched using digital fingerprinting. So I’m all the more confused about what’s happened here.

I started with a random piece of music from a disc of Bach chorales.


I changed its tags to Can’t Feel My Face, by The Weekend. (I picked this track because it’s one of the best selling tracks on the iTunes Store; I could have picked any track in the Apple Music catalog.)


I waited for Apple Music to match the file, deleted my local copy, and then downloaded it from the cloud.


Note that, so far, each version of the tracks shows a time of 1:57.

When the track downloaded, here’s what it looked like.


When I played it, it was not Bach.

Since Apple Music matches only using tags, it can’t tell the difference between, say, a studio recording and a live version of a song. Or an explicit version and a clean version. This explains why, for example, Macworld editor Susie Ochs found that a live Phish album was replaced by studio versions of the same tracks.

Phish tweet

Note that, in my example above, even the duration was ignored: a 1:57 track was “matched” to a song that’s 3:36. You’d think that Apple Music would at least use durations (within a few seconds) to try and figure out which version of a song is being matched, when there are more than one, but it’s not even doing that.

Here’s another example. I took a short speech from a Royal Shakespeare Company CD of excerpts from their current production of The Merchant of Venice. I labeled it “The Other One” by the Grateful Dead. It matched, I deleted the local file, and downloaded this live track from April 1971, which was released on the Skull & Roses album.

The other one

Granted, the track that Apple Music gave me is a great version of the song, but at 18:04, it’s far from the 1:25 original track.

This is a very big problem with Apple Music. Since Apple already has the technology to match tracks using acoustic fingerprinting, they should be using this with Apple Music. Instead, it’s using scattershot matching, which results in lots of tracks showing up as being from different albums, from compilations, or totally different versions of songs.

Update: I’ve been unable to reproduce this issue, and my guess is that there was a glitch with Apple’s servers that has since been corrected. If you only subscribe to Apple Music, or are using it on a free trial, then your songs are matched using metadata only. If you subscribe to both iTunes Match and Apple Music, then iTunes matches your songs using digital fingerprinting.

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Writings about Macs, music and more by Kirk McElhearn