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Is Apple Considering iTunes Subscriptions?

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Apparently, Apple may be considering a service that allows unlimited iTunes Store downloads for a year in exchange for a higher initial purchase price on future iPods and iPhones. It has been dubbed “Comes With Music.” However, this means that Apple would go against its long-standing view that music should not be purchased permanently and not merely rented as many other music services do. I don’t know quite where I stand with this yet. It’s an interesting concept. Here’s the article, via AppleInsider.

A longtime opponent of subscription music services, Apple is reportedly exploring the possibility of charging extra for iPhones and iPods in exchange for unlimited iTunes Store access. Allegedly tipped off by senior officials close to the matter, the Financial Times suggests that Apple is in talks with music labels to follow an approach first pioneered by Nokia and Universal Music Group.

Dubbed Comes With Music, the upcoming service has customers pay more for a cellphone in return for as many a la carte music downloads as the customer likes over the course of a year. In this implementation, customers can either renew a subscription once it expires or else keep the tracks they’ve downloaded, even if they switch to competing phones or music services. This would eliminate common reservations about subscription services whose copy protection automatically invalidates downloaded tracks as soon as the subscription ends. Apple chief Steve Jobs famously attacked this latter concept as “renting music” upon introducing the iTunes Music Store in 2003.

Apple is said to be entertaining the notion of a similar plan to spur sales for iPhones and iPods. However, the electronics giant is claimed by a pair of executives to have hit a roadblock through its early insistence on low prices. While Nokia already plans to charge $80 for its year-long music giveaway, its newest opponent in the cellphone market is only willing to offer $20 at present — a gap that may result in no deal at all if no labels agree to the strategy. “It’s who blinks first,” says one of the claimed sources, “and whether or not anyone does blink.”

Apple may nonetheless be willing to budge. Studies purportedly conducted about the subject have shown that many would be willing to spend $100 for unlimited access throughout the device’s entire useful lifespan. Whether these studies were conducted by Apple or music industry analysts is unknown. More surprising still are assertions that Apple is willing to consider a conventional subscription model with a monthly fee, though the details of any proposals are unclear. The Times claims that such a service would require an iPhone due to the monthly billing structure and that most industry discussions revolve around unlimited access to songs with permanent downloads for 40-50 of those songs. The same research conducted for a Comes With Music-style premium also suggests that customers would be willing to pay between $7 and $8 per month for a subscription. Apple has declined comment on the report.

40-Hour Fiasco

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I’ve pretty much been up since 7:00 AM Friday and have been at the 27 hour Deep Run Marathon Dance up until now. That makes for a grand total of 40 hours awake, moreless. I don’t feel a thing… yet. I bet tomorrow it’ll hit me like a ton of bricks. I will post the opening and closing videos I made for the dance tomorrow once I figure out how to squish 3 GB files into a 100 MB maximum YouTube upload. Anyway, it was an incredible experience and I’ll write much, much more about it tomorrow!

Winning Streak

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I must be on a winning streak. I somehow won something else. I was informed by email this morning by a local radio station that I won tickets to see Blind Melon in concert tonight at The National downtown. I don’t think I can go, though, so I’m giving the tickets away. You might remember their song “No Rain” from the ’90s. I’ll post the video below. Wish I could go to the show, they’ve done some really good stuff.

New High Tech Fitness Equipment At The Shady Grove YMCA

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So I’ve been working out every day lately at the Shady Grove YMCA, but just this morning noticed a lot of new technology in place. There is a set of new Life Fitness treadmills (I don’t know how long they’ve been there, but not too long) that have interactive color touch screens complete with a view of how far you’ve run that can be shown as a track, mountain hike, or nature trail, a virtual personal trainer, and an interface for your iPod (you can plug your iPod into the docking cable and you can scroll through your playlists on the treadmill screen!). I keep my USB flash drive on my keyring, so I was also able to insert that into the provided slot at the end of my workout and it saved my workout information. Nifty!

Next, I went up front to discover three new interactive stationary bikes by a new start up company called Expresso Fitness. These bikes allow you to sign in to track your progress and then select a myriad of different road courses of various levels, change gears on screen, and you’re given a pacer to keep up with, all on a big 17 inch color screen. I was much more motivated to go faster and farther by being on a virtual course and having other bikers to keep up with on screen than I would have been if it was just me on a traditional stationary bike. This is a very cool concept and I think this company will do very, very well in the fitness industry as they grow and expand.

These are some great new fitness technologies and it’s really cool that the YMCA has invested in them to bring a new dimension to working out.

Music Monday: Pat Monahan – “Two Ways To Say Goodbye”

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Pat Monahan is probably my favorite musician at the moment, out of all of the different music I listen to. He’s incredibly talented, and I think when he was the lead singer in Train, he was held back creatively in many ways. He was just way above the songs Train was producing, musically speaking. He’s much better off on his own, in my opinion. There’s no music video for this song, but he’s one of those artists who sounds even better live than on their albums. The song is called “Two Ways To Say Goodbye,” off his first solo album, “Last Of Seven,” that references the fact that he’s the youngest of seven children in his family. This was recorded at a radio station in Long Island. Take a listen.

90s Night With Jen

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So Jen and I ended up having what turned out to be 90s Night. After dinner we came back to my house because she wanted to burn some CDs. Well, we ended up making three 90s music CDs (and one country and rap, too). There’s just something about the 90s that I’ll never forget. I guess it was just the time span of my life when there wasn’t a care in the world and the world just seemed like this big, expansive, wondrous place, and time just stood still. The music brings all of these memories back very vividly. So we wrote some of our favorite 90s catchphrases on the CD (well Jen did, and I just laughed at how great they were). Among our very favorites were “all that and a bag of chips, “eat my shorts,” and “I got the pasties.” Now that last one sounds like some kinda nasty disease or something doesn’t it? It’s really not. All it means is your mouth is dry or you’re thirsty. Just awesome.

It was awesome getting to hang out with Jen, because it seems like we never get to that much lately, and if we do, it’s at Shafer and, well, as Jen puts it, “That’s always a real treat!” Shafer food, although decent at times, is never anything to rave about. Anyway, we both had a lot of fun and I’m really excited for summer because this is the kind of fun we get to have all the time.

As an interesting side note to 90s music, when we look back at this decade, what will we call it? It seems everyone is so reluctant to call it the 2000s. For example, you hear radio stations like Mix 103-7 saying they play “the best mix of the 80s, 90s, and today.” So does that mean if they kept that format, a few years down the road they’d be saying they play “the best mix of the 80s, 90s, and yesterday?” It’s just funny that nobody seems to refer to this decade as anything. It’s almost as if our decades have lost their distinction. Look at the 60s, 70s, and early 90s. They all had very distinct clothing and hair styles, music, and cultures in general. The mid 90s through today, in my opinion, has seen very little change. For the most part things aren’t drastically different than ten years ago. There were no crazy hair styles that have since been tamed, no disco music that has now been updated, etc. like there would have been in decades past. Things have just kind of mellowed out and follow the status quo. Does anyone agree with this? Also, what do you think this decade will be called once we enter the next one? 2000s? Maybe 00s? Chime in and leave me a comment.

Music Monday: Third Eye Blind – “Semi-Charmed Life”

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“Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind is probably on the top five list of my all-time favorite songs. There’s nothing better, in my opinion, than mid-1990s alternative rock, specifically 1996 and 1997, had some of the best music ever. I liked this song so much back in ’96 that I bought it and it was my first cassette tape (that’s right, not CD but tape). It’s still just as awesome today, twelve years later, and brings back lots of great memories. Take a listen.