2017

I used to ride a commuter bike to work to save on gas and avoid the hassle of finding parking. I would often be twenty minutes late looking for a good spot. No one wants to walk a mile to the end of the lot after a long day at work. But I am now selling the old faithful online as I don’t ride any more. How does one change habits just like that? I am now all about cycling. I made the decision not long ago because I was getting fed up with all the traffic and delays while watching people on their bikes riding past me in the traffic jams.

I now look forward to getting up and jumping on my commuter bike. I took the time to find the right model for my needs, and on my search I discovered https://www.onroadandmountain.com/best-commuter-bikes-city/. The exercise on the way to work helps lift the fog of sleep. It gets me in the mood to be up and at it. It makes the whole process of going to work a lot more enjoyable. Now the car is now gone and has left a lot of space to use for other purposes. Who knew that it was that big! I have put some suitcases and duffels in the spot.

It is important to have a good selection of music on your phone or computer. A good library is essential so you can match the music to your mood. In the old days, people listened to the radio and put up with whatever was offered. I can do that if I am lazy and don’t want to even look at my phone. I am too busy checking early-morning emails and texts. I am not enamored with the local stations however as they all play the same songs. The powers that be who make these decisions must be the same people. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised. It is okay now and then. I might be in the mood for country, a genre that I do not have much of in storage.

In short, I live my life with music at all times. Some choices in the morning and some in the afternoon and night. It is like having a background to your own life movie. The score is written by you, an amalgamation of this and that that strikes your fancy. I get suggestions for new music and take changes all the time. It enriches my world with the magic of sound. I always wonder how other people operate. Are they as involved in music as much as I am? What do they choose and how long does it last? Fads come and go, but I have never been one to follow trends. I make my own without knowing it. I suppose I would be surprised if I looked at the list of artists I have listened to over the past month. What would it say about me? It’s a great psychological tool of self-awareness.

I am an outdoor buff and love to hike and bike. Rain or shine I am outside. There are scenic trails close by so that I can take a break from work as needed. I might swim in a neighbor’s pool or play basketball at the court in the park. One of the best times I’ve had in a long time was boating on the lake and riding in a towable tube. If you don’t know what I mean, then take a look here at some of them: https://www.inflatableslife.net/best-towable-tubes-for-boating/. It was a kick and we finished the day with loud music and beer on the shore. There is nothing like a full day out with friends having communal fun. Yes, we have music. I have made sure of it. I am in charge and I always come through. I live my live through music as many people do. It fits my mood or elevates in at the right time. Revved up or relaxed, it infuses me with happiness and energy. Thus it takes all kinds to satisfy my needs. I am by no means one dimensional. Call me an eclectic any time.

People often ask what kind of music I take because they know that I love it everywhere I go. In fact, I am known to ask people to recommend something new to listen to. The radio stations seem to play the same stuff. Maybe they are owned and managed by the same people with limited taste. If I want to control what comes in by ear, I resort to the Internet. It has taken over the old role of the radio in any case. If you watch podcasts and check out Internet radio and streaming music services, you will have a lot more from which to choose. The Internet is a music lover’s paradise with many accessible options. You can go back into the past as far as you like and rediscover old favorites. Imagine the freedom of creating your own stations. There is also the great benefit of previewing music at no cost before you commit. Streaming music is totally free. It’s a brave new world indeed. It takes me to foreign lands and totally new sounds. Bravo to the geniuses who invented Internet music sites.

You can take music with you wherever you go including in a towable tube. Ha! It was great to sit in the bouncy thing to the rhythm of cool jazz. It seemed to fit somehow. The beat is varied and creative. In a second you can be at one with hard rock and heavy metal. In a flash you are into classical music and bluegrass. Vocal music is at your beck and call. Even when you are without Internet connectivity, you can find a way to keep music going. A cell phone works well unless you are in a noisy place. The roar of a motor boat could be intrusive. You thus need waterproof Bluetooth speakers for days at the lake. Problem solved.

I used to waste a lot of money on CDs – I’d hear a song I liked on the radio and then, after shelling out a lot of money for the whole album, discover that there was only a few songs that I liked. So then I’d have to create my own CDs with the songs I liked burned on them. Once MP3s were invented, I could usually get the songs that I liked and just pay for those. However, I still had to listen to the radio and suffer through all those commercials before I heard new music that I might be interested in. Or I had to rely on friends will good musical taste to recommend something.

Music was a lot of work!

But now there’s streaming music! I pay for the service, but I get access to all kinds of music. If you’re new to the streaming music scene, here’s some options:

First, the big boys: Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, or Google Play. If you buy your music from one of these companies, you’re already familiar with their UI. It’s definitely worth the subscription. Amazon gives you lots of free songs to listen to, pre-designed playlists, and different radio stations. Plus my Alexa speaker works with it! On the other hand, Apple Music allows you to actually download the music and use Siri to control it. It also has stations curated by real musical artists and DJs. Google has YouTube and Google Home integration, and some good playlists and artist stations.

From a purely music service point of view, a name you likely know is Pandora. You select your favorite band or artist, and Pandora creates channels based on the stuff you like as well as new things that you might enjoy also. Spotify is another household name. Spotify has an amazing amount of songs available for the cost. I love being able to make playlists and share them with friends. There’s also Slacker radio, which has news and weather updates as well as live ESPN radio included with the service, so you get more than just music.

Speaking of more than just music, if you’ve got SiriusXM radio, you can pay a little extra and get the streaming service too (or you can pay separately for it.) You can listen to it in the car, through your Alexa, stream it over the internet, or listen on any device you can install the app on.

These streaming services give you a lot more freedom to listen to what you want, when you want, and where you want. No more paying for whole albums when you only like three songs. No more having to shell out tons of money to buy each individual MP3 you like and having to constantly upgrade your MP3 player to one with more space to hold all your music. Some of these offer a free version (with commercials) or a free trial, so you can give them a try to see what’s right for you before you pay for anything. For the price of a take-out meal or an overpriced latte, you can get all the music you want, curated just for your tastes!

I think, in an ideal world, I would be an internet DJ. I’ve got good taste in a variety of music, as well as a decent collection of tunes. I could probably do it now, but believe it or not, I am kind of shy. I freeze up when I talk to people. It’s kind of why I got into music in the first place – musicians can say the things I am thinking and feeling so much better than I am capable of.

I find that I am OK with this blog because I am able to think about the things I want to say before I say them, and if it sounds stupid I can always delete it and try again. When you’re on air, there’s no backspace key. Since I run out of things to say in a normal conversation with people and dead air is probably the biggest mistake a DJ can make, it’s a legit concern. It’s something that I’m working to improve.

But say you have an extensive music collection and are lucky enough to have a lot to say. After sending out loads of resumes and not hearing anything back, what else can you do? Believe it or not, most computers nowadays have all the basic hardware you’ll need to get started. There are loads of software programs and plugins that will allow you to broadcast your music over the internet. Some are free, some have both free and paid versions, and others can cost you. I’ll give you a few that I’m familiar with, but with some searching, you’ll find loads more.

There are free programs like SHOUTcast (which gives you the capability to choose your bandwidth and tracks listener information), the freeware program Icecast that runs on any platform, and others. Then there is Livestream – which you can even install on your phone or tablet – a pretty robust program that allows you to even broadcast live video, which costs a subscription fee to broadcast (but it is free to view). StationPlaylist has three different editions for you to choose from, no matter what your budget.

No matter which program you go with, the idea here is to get yourself some experience and possibly build a fan base. While neither may translate right away into profits, both will benefit you in the hunt for a bonafide paying job. First of all, having your own station shows initiative and ability, not to mention giving any potential employers an idea of what a show of yours would be like. Secondly, if you can bring followers to their station, that increases your stock immediately. It will make you stand out among a sea of straight-out-of-school candidates and elevate your chances of getting hired. If you present yourself right, you’ll be able to translate your DIY-radio station into a paying gig.

Keep going, stay focused, and you’ll get there – you’ll rule the radio one day.

Today when I woke up, I asked my Alexa speaker to play my morning playlist and all I got was a glowing red circle at the top of the device. I grabbed my phone to check and sure enough, my internet was down! I immediately started to panic. I started thinking about all the things I couldn’t do: no streaming music, no access to my online library of movies and music, no Netflix. Oh wow. Not for the first time, I wished I had unlimited data on my cellphone.

I have never been so excited to go to work in my life. While work frowns upon us messing around on the internet all day long, they don’t mind if we stream music – good for me, I know. So I loaded up my Spotify account and put in my headphones. I called my internet provider on my lunch break and they confirmed that my neighborhood’s internet was still down, and that they’d be fixing it as soon as possible. I felt a little better knowing that my neighbors were suffering right along with me. The lack of an eta on the internet being back up, on the other hand, was concerning.

When I got home, I realized that the crews had so far been unsuccessful and I still had no internet. I found myself thinking of those people who called 911 when Facebook went down a few years ago. I forget how many things I own are connected to the internet. For example, I’ve got a Nest thermostat, so I actually had to go to the thermostat to adjust it. Normally I can either tell Alexa to do it or use the app on my phone. A minor annoyance, sure, but definitely not what I usually do. Another example is dinner – I usually stream music while I make dinner, and that wasn’t going to happen. It was too quiet, so first decided that I was going to put the tv on. But my cable was out, too. Then I remembered that I had some music downloaded to my phone, so I played that instead. It wasn’t very loud, but at least it was something.

While I’m eating dinner, I usually watch something, but the cable was still out. So I had to get creative again. I had a movie downloaded on my laptop, but the app wouldn’t open without an internet connection – how does that make sense? I probably took about a half hour of yelling at my computer until I remembered there were other options. I had a couple of old blu-ray disks from back before they started releasing the digital films first, so I put one of those in. That was probably the seventieth time I found myself wishing I had an unlimited data plan for my phone.

I decided to go to bed early because there was pretty much nothing to do after I cleaned up for dinner and prepped for tomorrow. I went to set my phone alarm and I realized that the little wi-fi lines were back. Hooray!

If you want free music, there are a couple of options if you want to do so legally. I’ll go over a couple legit sites that I use so you can get an idea of what’s out there. Feel free to check them out the next time you’re looking for some new tunes.

Usually, music is made available for free under one of two licenses: either the owner has released the music through a creative commons license or the songs are public domain (meaning there is no copyright anymore). Keep an open mind as you’re looking and you can find some really great things.

There’s a site called PureVolume that has free songs by some household names in rock, rap, and pop music. It also has emerging artists that are worth a listen as well. While you’re not going to get entire albums for free from famous artists, you will score enough tracks to make your wallet happy.

The artists who make their work available through creative commons are often people who want to get their music out there and expand their audience. A site like Noisetrade allows you to download complete albums for free. If you like the music, you can choose to tip the artist or spread the word. You can even get ebooks (or regular books, if that’s your thing) from Noisetrade. Nice, right?

Another option is the Free Music Archive, which is a free to use/donations appreciated site, but you can get some pretty sweet swag if you do hand over some money. It is part of one of my favorite radio stations, WFMU-FM. This station is available for streaming, and it’s great because the DJs play whatever they want.

Jamendo is another free service with independent music from all different genres. The site is really user-friendly and allows you to find the most popular downloads and the newest music very quickly. They also have a “Best of” playlist every month and you can typically find something good there. There are streaming radio channels, too. You can listen to that and if you hear something you like, you can download the music for free. I think that’s pretty awesome.

Amazon has pages of music available for free, you just have to look for what’s free (go into digital music, click on best sellers, and then select top 100 free). Apple used to have a single of the week, which was awesome, but they don’t offer it anymore. I think it is probably so that they can push their pay service, Apple Music, although I can’t say that for sure.

You can discover a lot of new and talented artists this way, as well as discover some great classics. The next time you find yourself sick of hearing the same songs over and over on the radio, take one of these sites for a spin. I’d love to hear what you come up with in the comments!