Audials Music Rocket

Get your monthly music fix with Audials Music Rocket, one of the best players available anywhere.

I’ve been a singer/ songwriter and musician most of my life. To say that I have the music in me is a bit of an understatement. Thanks, in no small measure, to the 128GB iPhone 7 Plus in my life, I’ve got my entire digital music collection with me all the time, every day, out loud. And loud it is, as I love listening to tunes while driving. It’s what I do…

Finding new music, however, can be difficult at times. Yes, there are streaming tools like Pandora and Spotify, you can get access to new streaming titles, but as I’ve said before, I like to own my music and not just lease (read: stream) it. That’s probably the biggest reason why I’m such a fan of Audials Music Rocket for Windows. It gives you access to a huge music library that you can download for free; and its available for a PC near you.

Audials Music Rocket allows you to find and download new music, fast, legally and for free. With it, you can listen to internet radio stations, podcasts and music TV broadcasts. The application offers fast downloads and will even do video to audio conversion from well-known music portals on the fly. You can save music in MP3, WMA or AAC file formats, legally and free of charge.

Audials Music Rocket will create a playlist of songs automatically once you tell it your favorite type of music, by identifying a “reference song.” Its Top Songs feature then creates the playlist to match your taste in music. With its auto play mode, AMR will automatically play that music for you, too

With its Wish List feature, Audials Music Rocket can monitor thousands of radio stations and music sites automatically. Whether you’re looking for singles, whole albums or an entire discography, AMR can find it and send you an alert when the station or site is updated. You can also use the app to update ID3 compatible song tags, album images and song lyrics, prior to adding them to your music collection.

 

I really have to admit that I didn’t want to like AMR. I’m very picky about my music apps and as such don’t venture too far from the OS or device defaults. I don’t even do a lot with Pandora, Spotify, Shazam, Last.fm or Lala. However, I was really, very pleasantly surprised by Audials Music Rocket. I really like this app; and you should, too.

The app provides a number of different ways to do new music discovery. It provides a wish list function that will also update you when new items matching your likes are found. You can download all the music to your PC and sync it to your device and update your iTunes music library as well. This… this was a very pleasant surprise, and now has me doing music discovery from my Windows machines.

While the app is a little on the expensive side for a modern desktop app, its easily offset by all of the new music you’re going to get and find. If this isn’t part of your default Windows setup, it should be. Stop what you’re doing and download the app now. You won’t be disappointed.

DOWNLOAD Audials Music Rocket

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Am I a Relic from the Distant (Music) Past? – Streaming vs. On Device Music

…And by distant past I mean, like Steve Jobs time frame… or just 15 years ago.

I’m an Amazon Prime Member. For this service, I, like everyone else who subscribes to this service, get unlimited, free, 2-day shipping on all of my Amazon, physical goods, purchases and all of the digital video my internet services (both at home and mobile) will allow me to stream.

prime-music-header

A little while ago, I got an email promo for Amazon Music Unlimited. It’s an on-demand, ad-free, music streaming service offered by Amazon (obviously) that streams music from their vast, digital music catalog. It comes with personalized recommendations, curated playlists and curated stations. It also has Prime Member exclusive pricing of $7.99 USD per month (non-Prime members can get the service for $9.99 per month). You can also get an Alexa only version for only $3.99 a month. That last deal should be especially interesting to folks who mainly listen to music only through their Amazon Echo.

Amazon is really stretching the offerings here. They’ve given users a number of different ways to get access to their vast catalog and are offering unlimited streaming without any ads. The extra $4 bucks a month for access to ALL of their music seems to be a huge no-brainer, especially if you have an Amazon Echo in the house. You can listen to anything and everything as many times as you wish, and Alexa will serve it up – again, ad free – all at the asking. I’m not certain exactly how vast their catalog is, but it has to be pretty big, right?

With this new offering, it appears as though Amazon is doing the best it can to make the best of Prime’s position. Their audience is big, and they have a lot of other services that they’d like to sell…

apple-music-header

Conversely, my daughter – and a whole bunch of other folks – subscribe to Apple Music. Apple Music works on every iDevice in sight, and once you subscribe on one, the service is available on every iDevice that uses your AppleID. At $10 per month for their service, it’s a similar offering to Prime’s in that you get access to everything, without any ads. I think the best thing here, is that their trial period is three months long.

The cool thing with Apple Music is that it provides purchase links to everything you hear, interfaces with Apple Pay (at least on your device) so buying something that you hear and really like is super easy… much easier I think than any other service offering available today.

UPDATE: Potential new pricing information has come to light from Neowin while I have been writing and researching this article. It is currently rumored that Apple is seriously considering a price drop on Apple Music in order to be more competitive with Amazon’s Prime Music. The new rumored price points are said to be:

  • Regular rate: $7.99 per month, down from $9.99
  • Family package: $12.99 per month, down from $14.99
  • Student rate: $4.99, remains unchanged

The decision looks like a tough one for Apple, it’s expected that if it does slash the price of its Apple Music, it will have to directly pay the difference to the record labels. Digital Music News claims that Amazon is already forking over money to the music labels to offer its own low prices on Amazon Music.

google-music-header

Google Music is much like Prime Music in that it offers a way for you to easily upload and stream all of the music you already own – up to 50,000 songs – as well as stream new music from their service. You get to stream all of YOUR music for free. With Google Play, you get a 30 day trial and after that, the service costs $10 bucks a month.

The cool thing about Google Music is that you get to stream your own music regardless of whether or not you subscribe. The software and service work on iOS, Android, and on macOS or Windows, via a web browser. You can download anything you hear, your music or the services, and listen to it either online or offline. The service has up to 35 million different tracks, too.

Unfortunately, Google Music doesn’t offer any kind of student or family plan. With Google Music, it’s one size fits all. So, you get everything for free for 30 days, and then its $10 bucks a month.

You know… I’ve been chewing on this article for about two months. I’ve talked to a lot of people about the whole streaming craze. Me…? I get it; but I don’t get it. Traditional radio is on the outs. Kids… millennials… don’t listen to it. I’m not certain why, but they’re not. Maybe it’s the mix… the music that’s being played. Maybe the kids don’t like being dependent on the DJ or the station and all of its advertising influenced playlists. Maybe they like having more control over the content that actually plays and streams; and when you subscribe you get ad free music – so no commercials or DJ’s stopping to promote this that or the other thing – and you get both curated playlists AND the ability to skip as many songs as you don’t like (depending on the service).

Here’re the issues that I have with all of this:

  1. You Gotta Pay for the Service
    Traditional radio is free. And while I get that while most smartphones can play FM broadcasts, they DON’T include an FM radio app. Most kids carry their smartphone. They don’t carry a portable radio these days, and without the ability to actually PLAY live, traditional radio, it’s clearly OUT of the picture.

    When I talked to my daughter, who is clearly a millennial, about all of this, she said the biggest reason why she subscribes to a streaming service is music discovery. She wants access to new music. The issue I have with this is that you have to pay to play; and at the end of the day, you don’t own any of it. However, you can play songs as often as you want or like. So if you want to find new music, and you want to play it where ever you are, whenever you want, its gonna cost you on the average, $10 bucks a month to find what you want and play it.

  2. You Gotta Pay for the Bandwidth
    I think this is perhaps the singular most problematic point in the whole streaming music model; and it’s the point that bothers me the most. Not only do you have to pay for the service, you have to pay for the service that gets you the bandwidth that allows you to play the music in the first place.

    This can cost you anywhere between an ADDITIONAL $10 to $50 a month per line on your account, which – at the end of the day – more than doubles the cost of your music subscription, especially if you go over your monthly bandwidth allotment.

    This over and above any and everything else is where the whole streaming model falls apart for me. I love music. I especially love listening to music while I drive to and from work. If I were to stream everything and if I had to stick to a specific bandwidth limit, I’d likely either run out of bandwidth or go over my limit and be subject to overage charges.

    This is the one thing that everyone forgets about when it comes to the streaming model: it uses cellular bandwidth, and bandwidth costs additional money.

  3. When you Leave, you Lose the Music
    You have to remember, you don’t own any of the music that you download. You can’t burn any of it to a CD. You can’t play any of it after your subscription expires or is cancelled. You only have access to any of the streaming catalog as long as you’re paying for your monthly subscription. Stop, and you no longer have the music in you.

Again, maybe I’m just an old fuddy duddy. Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m too old for music discovery and new artists. I don’t think I am, but there has to be another, perhaps better, easier, less expensive way to discover and play new music… Isn’t there? ISN’T THERE?!?

If there is a solution that I’d likely embrace, I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it’s in development now, or perhaps it’s still on the drawing board somewhere. In the meantime, I’ll rely on friends and family to turn me on to new music and new artists… and I’ll keep on playing the music I already own and I already enjoy.

What do you do for music discovery and for playing your favorites? Do you stream? Do you use traditional radio? Do you own a large music library and do you play locally or use a service to stream it like Google Play or iTunes Match? Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below, and give me your thoughts on the whole issue?

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iTunes 12 Breaks Music Organization

Apple has been having iTunes organize music the same way since the inception of iTunes. Now in version 12, it’s totally different.

I’ve been an iPod user since 2003/ 2004 time frame. I still have my 60 GB Click Wheel iPod. It’s in great shape and still plays music well. The battery is in decent shape, too; so if I had to, I could cart it around without constantly searching for a power outlet or USB port. I still make certain that it’s as updated as it can be. You have no idea when you might need a portable hard drive with all your music on it…

I’ve really invested in the Apple ecosystem, too. Actually, that’s an understatement… I jumped into the deep end of the pool with both feet. I’ve got almost 600 movies and over 50 TV shows (multiple seasons on some, not many…but some). I’ve got 65GB just in music and audio alone. When you’re looking at 4-6MB per song, that’s a lot of songs to get to 65GB.

There’s been an influx of Apple gear in my house thanks to Gazelle and No More Rack and the recent Christmas Holiday. I’ve got at least two new Macs and two new iPad mini’s in the house that need to be connected to Apple services, including iTunes and iCloud. I’ve had reason to setup new devices and new Macs in existing iTunes and iCloud accounts, and honestly, I’m not a happy person right now.

That may be just me, as I did cut my teeth on DOS/Windows and on the Microsoft side of the world, but I’ve recently noticed that the latest version of iTunes has changed the way it organizes the music library.

itunes12-music-song-list

In previous versions of iTunes, when you checked the option to have the app automatically organize your music library (it actually organizes your whole media library on your computer, including music, movies, TV shows, etc.), it organized the media in the following folder tree:

iTunes Music

<Media Type>

                        <Sub-Organizer 1>

                                                        <Sub-Organizer 2>

                                                                                        <Media File>

So for Music, this would translate to

iTunes Music

Music

<Artist Name>

                        <Album Name>

                                                  <SongName.aac/mp3/etc.>

For TV Shows, this would translate to

ITunes Music

TV Shows

<TV Show Name>

                               <Season #> (where # is the number of the season)

                                                  <EpisodeName.m4v>

In the current version of iTunes, the middle, organizing folders have been removed. This means that for music, the Album folders have been removed, so, all of the songs you have for a given artist, coming with all the songs from all of their albums. For TV Shows, this means that every episode of every TV show is stored in a single TV Show Name folder.

Now… you HAVE to be asking yourself, “Why do I care?”

That’s a GREAT QUESTION. Here’s why – It’s totally screwed up my local copy of my EXTENDED iTunes Media Library.

While iCloud is GREAT, the key word in its name is – CLOUD. The big problem of backup and access TO the cloud is still a concern for a great many people, and quite honestly not ubiquitous and totally NOT trustworthy, even in a large metropolitan area like suburban Chicago. I’ve also got TERABYTES of media; and that’s not something that I want to have to rely on internet access to get access to; and I always download a copy of anything that I buy so that I don’t have to rely on the internet or to any other service. Having a local copy on my home network also backs up a copy for me… AND because MacBook Pro’s, MacBook Airs, and Mac mini’s no longer come with upgradable storage, I don’t keep everything I buy on my Mac.

As soon as I download a copy of anything in iTunes, I copy it to my NAS and make a backup copy. That’s just smart computing.

The problem now, though, is that the new file structure doesn’t mesh with the old file structure, and I’ve got shows copying to show folders and not in season specific folders. I’ve got a huge mess of a movie folder on Mac that now copies movies to the root of my movies folder on my NAS.

Now, after I make any new iTunes content purchases, I have to go into iTunes, find out where iTunes has stored it, move it to match the folder structure of all the content on my NAS and THEN copy over the backup. This is a huge increase in overhead, and a change that totally screws up a bunch of stuff on my network. I have to ask, WHY did you do this, Apple, especially without telling anyone?

I’ve been being a good Apple boy. I’ve been resisting to organize my iTunes library myself and have been letting iTunes organize it for me. Part of the reason why this worked for me and was so easy to accept was the fact that they organized it exactly the way I would have done it, if I organized it myself. The obsessive-compulsive, anal retentive organizer within me now screams every time I download new content.

I think what’s bothering me the most is that the change in this is unannounced, and for me to follow the Apple “company line,” I’d have to reorganize my entire extended library and I really don’t want to. I don’t want to do that not only because it’s a huge amount of work with very little return in value, but also because the new organization structure is not what I want. I want what I had. I want it the way it was. The new “organization” method that iTunes does on its own creates a huge mess…

Am I alone in this? Am I the only one that’s noticed this? Have you noticed the change? Does it matter to you? Am I the only anal retentive nut job out there that keeps a local copy of their extended iTunes media library? I really can’t think that I am…

What are your thoughts on this change? Does it matter to you? Do you have a local copy of your extended iTunes library, or do you totally rely on iCloud to get you access to content you’ve removed from your iDevice, Mac or PC? I’d really love to hear what you have to say on this, as I’d like to know how big of an issue this is for everyone. Have you looked it up in Apple’s Support Forum? Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and give me your thoughts on this?

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Malwarebytes Secure Backup – Protect and backup your data

mwbrKeeping your data safe is probably the one of the most important things a computer can do. Without your data, there really isn’t a reason to have or use a computer.  Its for this reason that having a backup strategy is important.  If I were you, I’d give serious consideration to Malwarebytes Secure Backup.  It’s a backup program for Windows.

With Malwarebytes Secure Backup, your files are backed up automatically to a secure server, according to a schedule that you set. Every version of a backed up file is archived. Every backed up file that is deleted from Malwarebytes Secure Backup is archived. Every file can always be retrieved, so you never have to worry about something being lost forever. With Malwarebytes Secure Backup, your data is always, ALWAYS safe.

The app even backs up infected files; but thankfully, the app automatically scans your files with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware engine and cleans them.  Don’t worry about your data. Malwarebytes Secure Backup keeps it safe and clean.

MSB-03
Many backup services backup your most current dataset and that’s about it. As items change, so does your backup set. That’s not the case with Malwarebytes Secure Backup.  It backs up and archives every version of every file on your PC.  You’re not limited by the number of devices it backup, either.  It will backup most any device on your PC or network with just one license.

If you’re looking for a backup service or thinking of making a change, then you really need to give Malwarebytes Secure Backup a serious look. Its worth the cost and the time it takes to backup the data.

download Malwarebytes Secure Backup

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dBpowerAMP Music Converter – the swiss army knife or audio utilities

dbpoweramp-music-converterWith the increased number of audio codecs in use online now, from WAV to FLAC to MP3, you may often find the need to convert files yourself. Therefore, you need an audio utility for your conversion needs. As far as audio utilities go, dBpowerAMP Music Converter is the swiss army knife of audio utilities.

While many converters give you the opportunity to convert between any number of formats, dBpowerAMP allows you to choose the codec for each audio file format and the relevant settings for it.

dmc-opt

Audiophiles naturally flock to dBpowerAMP as you can set your MP3 to LAME (the best encoder), and then choose any of the individual encoding settings that you would with the standalone app itself. This grants you a freedom that is missing in some lighter audio utilities and for good reason: many do not need this.

The dBpowerAMP Music Converter is one of the best audio utility out there, but it will not be suited for everyone. Converting a file to mp3, while a simple process, presents you with encoding options that may confuse or at the very least seem redundant for the average user. Audiophiles flock to this, but that doesn’t mean everyone else will. That said, if you want an audio converter, you may as well go for the best, and we know that this is it.

Download dBpowerAMP Music Converter

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Audials Tunebite Platinum

Convert odd audio file formats to something you can use with this cool windows utility.

ATbMusic is a big part of my life. I’ve been surrounded by music since I was a child and I’ve got pieces in my music collection that go back quite a ways. Keeping the files playable from one PC generation to another without a loss in audio quality isn’t always easy. This is perhaps the biggest reason why I like Audials Tunebite Platinum. It’s an audio file conversion tool for Windows.

The biggest problem with playing audio on a newer or next generation computer is the file format. Something that may have played on an older PC may not play well or be supported on a newer PC. Technology changes. It’s a fact that can’t be changed. However, your file formats can. Audials Tunebite always features the best options for recording and converting file formats for all of your computing devices including, PCs, smartphones, tablets, netbooks and games consoles.

Streaming music is one of the most popular services available today. The biggest problem with streaming is that you can’t necessarily take the music with you when you’re done. You can now, though. Audials Tunebite automatically records all streaming music without any loss of quality and saves these as new audio MP3, WMA or in any other audio format.

ATP-02

If you’re looking for a way to capture streaming video, look no further. Audials Tunebite Platinum is the universal solution for recording videos from Internet pages, HD movies from video streams or from DVDs and downloaded HD video files that won’t play anywhere else.

Audials Tunebite Platinum is an awesome app. Its video capture process handles most video from most sites. Its streaming music capture insures that you get the most out of your music subscriptions by allowing you to capture the music you love most. Its value to purchase price ratio is off the charts. If you’re looking for a multimedia capturing and conversion tool, then you need to give Audials Tunebite Platinum serious consideration.

Download Audials Tunebite Platinum

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Burn, edit, backup, rip, convert and play your media with Nero 12

Nero12Over the past few years, the biggest influx of consumer data has been in the area of multimedia. More than anything else, the increase in popularity of smartphones, tablets, digital cameras etc. have created a huge increase in the use and demand for multimedia – pictures, music, and video. This is one of the biggest reasons why I like Nero 12. Its one of the best optical media utilities available for Windows today.

With Nero 12, you can burn, edit, backup, rip, convert & play all of your multimedia. It’s one of the most-complete multimedia suites ever. You can use it to format your media for use with all of your computing devices.

NERO12

Nero 12 allows you to stream your movies, photo slideshows and music playlists throughout your home network. Nero uses the latest high-quality video formats to convert, edit and burn your data. The app supports streaming to your XBOX 360™, PS3™, Android tablet, PC, digital media adaptor, streaming-enabled TV, or other DLNA- or UPnP-supporting devices. Nero 12 supports virtually all the latest video formats, including AVC/264, MKV, MP4, 3GP, AVI.

The result of Nero’s support for burning and streaming is disaster-proof data; and Nero is Windows 8 compatible. It takes only seconds to schedule an automatic backup with Nero LIVEBackup in Nero BackItUp 12. Now, you can back up to hard drives larger than 2 TB. Nero also supports USB 3.0 storage devices. Should your destination be optical media, Nero supports burning to CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray.

Nero 12 is a great application; and one of my favorite multimedia burning suites. I’ve used it for years. While the app supports Windows 8, streaming, and nearly any multimedia format you’d be interested in, it is quite pricey, and there are other, suites that you may find more affordable. If cost isn’t a huge issue, then this is probably the best optical media app you can invest in.

Download Nero 12

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CyberLink Media Suite – All You Need to Enrich Your Digital Life

CMS10If you’re like me, then you have digital media coming out of your ears – photos, music, video – and more coming nearly every day. It’s not always easy to manage when items are coming at you from all directions. That’s one of the reasons why I like CyberLink Media Suite. It’s a media management tool for Windows.

CyberLink Media Suite is a 10-in-1 software suite featuring PowerDVD for movie playback, PowerDirector for video editing, PowerProducer for DVD authoring, Power2Go DVD burner and 7 other, additional CyberLink apps, including CyberLink WaveEditor for editing your digital audio. It’s an all-in-one DVD & Blu-ray Media suite that allows users to view and work with HD content, including Blu-ray.

One of the biggest things in HD TV as of late is 3D. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of 3D content out there to be had. With PowerDVD, you can use TrueTheater 3D to transform 2D Blu-ray videos into 3D movies in real time. PowerDVD also works wonders for SD DVD’s, too. TrueTheater HD up-converts your DVD’s and vides to near-HD quality. Your SD movie collection is now free of pixilation and other distracting artifacts.

2d-3d

If you have an HD video camera, PowerDVD is the ultimate media player for viewing your HD videos right on your PC. You can watch AVCHD home videos captured on your camcorder or MKV and FLV files. PowerDVD also supports two new 3D formats – MVC Transport Stream 3D (M2TS) and MK3D – in addition to MVC 1080i 3D PowerDVD also supports quality of 5.1 channels Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD soundtracks for truly HD quality entertainment

When it comes to your digital photo collection, CyberLink Media Suite has you covered there too. You can use MediaShow to organize all of your photos and home videos. You can sort items by date, album or people. MediaShow automatically organizes your photos and videos into a calendar view by the date they were shot.

Once in MediaShow, you can use its FaceMe technology to identify and tag people in your collection. The app is surprisingly accurate. Once faces are tagged, MediaShow makes it easy to locate every photo that a person appears in.

Download CyberLink Media Suite

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