You can now download the free Flutter app for Mac or Windows
and be able to control playback of your iTunes library with just a hand gesture. Really. And it's not just iTunes you can control - you can also play and pause Spotify, VLC, Quicktime and there will surely be more on the way.
When I first read about this I thought it all sounded a bit gimmicky and geeky, but it's actually not. As the Flutter website
suggests, there are times when being able to play and pause your music via a hand gesture is handy. e.g. when you have many windows open. With just a wave of the hand in the air you can pause or start playback, regardless of what you're working with on-screen at the time. Truly handier in practise than it may sound.
Before checking the app out myself I wanted to read more about it or see a quick demo on YouTube. Then I realised the app is free and very quick to download. Within a minute I was using it and posting this!
One thing I'm sure will be on the developers' minds already - it brings a "touchscreen" like experience to controlling your audio and you naturally want to be able to swipe your hand left or right to skip tracks, maybe even shake your hand to shuffle tracks. Perhaps in future you could just throw up a maloik
and immediate hear a metal track... the sky's the limit with this one.
I'm enjoying it and look forward to seeing it developed further. Hope you enjoy too.
Some time ago I started using SugarSync
, a great tool for easily accessing, synching and sharing files across multiple computers and mobile devices.
While this sounds a bit techy, in reality there are some awesome things you can do with SugarSync. One of them I particularly like as a composer - and that's being able to carry my music portfolio in my pocket.
Now you might think you could just have a playlist setup in iTunes or something and have that stored on your phone, ready to play when needed. Sure, that would allow you to access your music on the go, but what if you wanted to quickly and easily share
one of your tracks with someone? Maybe you're a muso wanting to send a demo track or two to a venue manager you just met. A player looking to join a band you've just seen play live. Or a composer keen to share a demo of your work to a prospective client...
SugarSync not only enables you to access and play your music on the go from your phone, but you can simply tap a button to send a link to that track via email. Sweet.
Here's a rundown of a few steps I take each time I finish a new composition. These quick steps make it easy to access and share my music anywhere, anytime, with anyone:
- When I finish a new track, I use XLD to convert the large WAV file to a more transportable mp3 version
- I then drag the mp3 to an "mp3s" folder on my desktop, where all my project mp3s are stored
- This folder is automatically synched to SugarSync, which means that by just dragging the mp3 to this folder, the next time I open SugarSync on my phone I'll have access to the track - including the ability to play it and share it directly with others.
Hope you find this useful. Now get out there and spread your music to the world!
Earlier today a friend asked me how to set up a wireless audio system in his house. I'm sure he's not alone in asking the question, and while there are many resources providing information on how to do this online, the options and conflicting opinions can be pretty daunting at first. So here's a little overview from me to you.
It is pretty simple to set up actually - pretty low tech from a user's perspective and easy to set up once the initial purchases have been made.
There are also a few ways to do this. I'm not an Apple Fanboy but have found that the following Apple-based system is reliable, as long as your WiFi signal is strong enough. Other than your computer, the following two pieces of hardware are all that is needed:
1. An Airport Extreme
, used as a wireless router. This is what will stream the music from your computer to other parts of your house. I have previously used non-Apple routers (e.g. Belkin) with varying levels of success. But Apple talking to Apple tends to be much easier to set up and save you hours of fruitless head-scratching and Googling.
2. An Airport Express
, used to receive the audio signal streamed from your machine / router. This little unit just plugs into a power point, and has a headphone jack on the bottom. This unit receives the audio sent from your computer (via the wireless router e.g. Airport Extreme), and using the headphones jack you can just plug the output into the stereo / speakers of your choice.
Out of the box you'll be able to set up iTunes to stream audio from your computer to your remote speakers i.e. whatever speakers you have which are plugged into the headphones jack of the Airport Express.
iTunes will do the work to make sure the audio stays in synch, so if you walk away from your computer playing music into another room which is remotely streaming the music, it will all be in synch. Nice.
With these couple of bits of hardware, you will be streaming music from iTunes. If you want to go one step further, you can stream ANY audio from your computer to your remote speakers. e.g. stream online radio, YouTube, system sounds, you name it. This is great if iTunes is not the only program you wish to be tied to when listening to music or audio. To stream any audio, get the brilliant AirFoil from Rogue Amoeba
Once set up, you can then ready my other tips on optimising the quality of your WiFi signal
. More iTunes related audio tips
can be found in the iTunes section of my blog
Hope that helps! Happy listening.
A short time ago I stumble across a great post from WinkSound - with some excellent tools to help convert, play and share audio
. I have since been using this trio of Mac apps to streamline sending demos of tracks I am working on to clients.
But taking these free (yes, free!) apps away from an audio creation context, two in particular are indispensable for quickly and easily sending files to the cloud or listening to audio.
- this is a simple little app to enable very easy transfer of files to cloud storage. The basic plan is free, and fine for most file-transferring needs but not suitable so for long-term backup or storage. Once signed up, simply dragging a file into the app's icon will transfer it to the cloud. Further streamlining things, as soon as the upload is complete the link to your upload is automatically copied to your clipboard, ready to paste into an email.
- anyone on a Mac would be familiar with the common process of being able to listen to an audio file such as a WAV or mp3 by simply highlighting the file and pressing space bar (to play it in the Finder preview window) or double clicking it to open it in iTunes. Each of these processes has its shortfalls. The preview window won't enable the audio file to keep playing in the background if you switch to another app or select another file. Alternatively, adding a file to iTunes every time you listen to something new is a time consuming and unnecessary process. Vox is a lightweight audio player which is great to get around both of these issues. I especially like the app's icon which displays a neat, circular playback progress status during play.
Hope these tips help musicians and non-musicians alike.
For many years now, Apple have been selling the Airport Express
, a small portable unit which can plug into a power point to create a simple wireless network. One of the most popular uses of this device is to stream an iTunes library wirelessly from a desktop or laptop to a home stereo (potentially at the other end of the house / building). This is a setup I enjoy at home myself, but getting it to work correctly is not always as "plug and play" as you would hope. My stable setup these days is the result of many bleary-eyed, late night Google searches for ways to improve signal strength and decrease dropouts.If you are reading this post with similar trouble, hoping for some guiding light, I won't even begin to cover off all the potential solutions that have been offered over time (which you would likely have read to exhaustion already!). However, other than the usual suspects of improving line of sight between your sending and receiving devices (minimizing distance and walls between the two), checking you have followed correct setup procedure, ensuring security settings are consistent between sending and receiving devices, not having your microwave running or any other electrical / magnetic interference nearby,
etc etc, there are less hit and miss opportunities to improve your streaming results...Check the cleanliness of your selected channelThe Channel your WiFi connection is transmitting on can be easily crowded by other communications nearby, including neighbour's WiFi networks and other equipment. The good news is, free tools are available to help check which WiFi channels provide greatest strength and least noise in your area. I have successfully used iStumbler for Mac though
there are several other options including Windows-based solutions such as NetStumbler
. Ensure IPv6 is turned OFF in your network settings
On Mac (I'm not sure if this is relevant to PC users?) you need to turn off IPv6 for both
Wi-Fi and Ethernet networks. This procedure is referenced in many posts relating to reducing iTunes streaming dropouts
. The process is as follows:
Hope this helps you keep the music flowing nice and cleanly from your desktop / laptop to your remote speakers. Nothing is more frustrating than wireless audio dropouts!
- Open System Preferences→Network and select the Ethernet service in the sidebar.
- Click on the Advanced button, then select the TCP/IP tab.
- The Configure IPv6 field should be set to Off.
- Click OK, then Apply.
- Repeat this process for the Wi-Fi service.
- Open Airport Utility and restart the Airport station that is running AirPlay.
As a music composer
, it has been years since I've been able to settle for a default ringtone on a phone. Many years back, the ability to import your own short audio clips started appearing in the dominant phones of the day - Siemens, Nokia, Sony, Motorola...Then a few years back it seemed every magazine and TV show within arm's reach of a gullible teenager offered a way to download the "latest hits" (Crazy Frog, anyone?) to their phone as a ringtone. Amazingly it's still occurring today. If you're an iPhone owner, you've possibly already wondered at some point how you can get a different ringtone to everyone else, and expand that relatively limited default range of options. The number of apps in the app store to "help" you create ringtones is testament to the difficulty many people experience. In reality, while not clearly communicated, it is quite easy to create your own ringtone from an existing audio track you have in iTunes (or you could contact me to create a custom ringtone for you!). The following instructions are based on running iTunes 10.5 on Mac, however the process in older versions and on PC is quite similar:
1. In iTunes, highlight the audio track you want to use as your ringtone. It doesn't matter if it's too long or doesn't start at the point you want it to, you can sort this later...
2. Right click and select "Get Info".
3. Click the Options tab.
4. Check the boxes next to Start Time and Stop Time and enter in the times you want your ringtone to start and stop.
5. Click OK.
6. Right click on the same file again and choose "Create AAC Version".
7. You'll see a new, shorter audio file appear under your original file.
8. Right click on this new shorter file and choose "Show in Finder" (or "Show in Windows Explorer" if on a PC)
9. Change the extension of your audio file from ".m4a" to ".m4r". You may receive a warning message but that's fine, go ahead, make the change.
10. Swap back to iTunes and delete the short ringtone file you just created in Step 6.
11. Import the file you just renamed with the extention ".m4r" into iTunes.
12. Now just connect your iPhone and sync your playlist. You may need to drag the .m4r file into the Ringtones section on your iPhone.
13. On your iPhone, you can now choose this ringtone alongside all the old boring default ones!
Happy ringing! And please, no more of this...
My studio hard drive was running low on space recently, which meant an upgrade to my daily storage and backup systems.The outcome of this was a transfer of my whole iTunes library from an internal disk to an external. The phrase
"hindsight is always 20/20" could not be more true in this case, as in the process I managed to break most of the links iTunes had to its mp3 files! The effect - most files I attempted to play back through iTunes showed a dreaded exclamation mark warning that they would not play back correctly as the actual file could not be located. Argh!After a little investigation, I ended up purchasing TuneUp. Read on - this is not simply an endorsement...Most people - such as myself until recently - might remember TuneUp as being an annoying popup which appeared some time back whenever you launched iTunes (unless you disabled the popup). The program promises to clean your iTunes library, adding in missing tags and missing cover art, generally tidying things up. It also offers to dedupe your library so that multiple instances of the same track are removed. Now, let me be clear. TuneUp is not a simple matter of one click and everything is sorted. To be honest, I had a frustrating problem with the program in that many times while it was "cleaning"
or finding missing info, it would hang. The program requires an internet connection of course, but even when all other browsing and online activity was fine, this thing would hang and need to be restarted to pick up where it left off. Frustrating, especially if you are cleaning a large audio library for the first time. What is TuneUp good at? The hanging issue aside, it does a good job at finding missing cover art for your tracks. It also d
oes a good job at filling out missing or incorrect detail such as album, track or artist titles. Deduping seemed to be a little hit and miss for my liking. Especially given that my library contained a lot of broken links given the recent hard drive changes, TuneUp didn't seem to have an ability to prioritise a track in the iTunes library that it could find over one which was a broken link in the library.
As such, even on manual review of each duplicate found, it was difficult to choose the correct one to keep. How did I get around this? A big thank you to the authors of this post titled "How To Remove Broken Songs From iTunes Library
". Following these steps, I was able to remove duplicates from my library relatively quickly and easily, ensuring that broken links were completely taken out of the picture. In summary, if you can handle the frequent need to relaunch the program, TuneUp does a good job of adding missing tags to your audio tracks and finding missing cover art. But this is how to freely and easily remove broken songs from your iTunes library.
Some time ago I set my home up with a couple of Airport Express
units. These enable the wireless transfer of music from iTunes on my Mac computer to another room where the Airport Express is plugged into a stereo. This provides a nice seamless experience as you move from one room to another, with the audio from several different stereos all in sync. With the popular Remote app for iPhone,
it is also possible to control iTunes directly from the phone. All the features you need are there, such as the ability to search, browse by artists and of course play, pause, and navigate from one track to the next. However, the luxury of controlling iTunes from your phone is only possible if iTunes itself is already open on your computer. A real hassle if you're relaxing in another room and get the urge to put some music on without iTunes already open! There are many solutions to this, with varying levels of additional functionality, cost, and complexity to set up. One simple solution I discovered recently is the free and easy Desktop Controller
app. Once setup, this iPhone app lets you launch any app on your Mac via your phone - perfectly solving the issue of being too lazy to leave the couch to go and launch iTunes!But I had an additional hurdle. When not actively being used, my Mac will go to sleep, needing a password to be entered to wake it up. While this is the case, the Desktop Controller app will not be able to launch iTunes. The solution - another free app called NetAwake.
This very simple app lets you wake your computer remotely via iPhone. Problem solved!So in summary, if you have the same indulgent need as me to be able to put music on remotely using your phone, even if your computer is asleep, you can do this by installing these three simple FREE apps. Happy listening!
After a long period of recovery on the morning of January 1st 2011, I blearily thought about the playlist of songs I’d heard from the stereo the previous night. Sitting around with a mate of many years we – among many beers – tag teamed driving the next selection for the evening’s music. In doing so it became very clear how eclectic not only my, but our (human), tastes in music are. With no need to impress each other or maintain a level of “public acceptability” to the selected songs, the things that were coming out of the stereo the other night were great. It was New Years Eve for crying out loud, so there was no need to do anything other than enjoy the evening.
I can very happily recall little of the night as well as the music! In no particular order we heard such classics as:
Estranged (Guns ‘n’ Roses),
The Flame (Cheap Trick),
Unskinny Bop (Poison),
I Was Only 19 (Redgum),
Drive Thru (Tenacious D),
Open Arms (Journey),
Dear God (XTC),
Digging The Grave (Faith No More),
Out Of The Ashes (Symphony X),
Hard Lovin’ Woman (Deep Purple),
The Hardest Part Is The Night (Bon Jovi),
Paranoid (Black Sabbath),
Time Stand Still (Rush),
One Summer (Darryl Braithwaite),
Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta (Geto Boys),
Cold Gin (KISS),
Echo (Joe Satriani),
Lie In Our Graves (Dave Matthews Band),
Asian Hooker (Steel Panther),
Gone For Good (Morphine),
Sweetness Follows (REM),
A Midlife’s Tale (My Friend The Chocolate Cake),
Rocket Man (Elton John),
Release Me (Oh Laura),
Hangar 18 (Megadeth),
Soldier Of Fortune (Whitesnake),
Make Me Lose Control (Eric Carmen),
and many many more…
There was even a recorded phone call in there which I put to music several years ago.
If you happened to use iTunes to listen to music on New Year’s Eve, you may find it entertaining to revisit what you listened to and consider how broad your tastes are. You could do this by clicking on your music library in iTunes and then sorting the list by the “Last Played” column. There’s probably a lot of variety in there! Unless you were keeping your interests locked away from guests at the party you were enjoying. But if so, why? Everyone’s tastes in music are different, one person’s Metallica is another person’s Eric Carmen.
I’ve actually jumped into iTunes in the cold light of day to see that between the hours of 5:52pm on 31/12/2010 and 1:29am on 01/01/2011 we listened to 75 songs. Vastly different to each other. Sure, there’s an overall rock flavour, but there’s a lot more to it that completes the picture.
If you’re a musician, have a think about this too. It’s likely that the typical listener you’ve pictured listening to your music has a much broader range on their mp3 player than you may have given them credit for. Genre classification for music enthusiasts is near impossible. Sure, you may not see people walking down the street with their Robert Palmer tour T-shirts proudly displayed in 2011, but in the comfort and security of their headphones or home stereo there is likely to be more than what you see in public. And it’s in that comfort and security that people are most connected with your music.
Happy New Year!