Mid-Week Wrap-Up: The David Lowery vs. Emily White Debate and Three Music Apps I’m Using

Writing has been heady and traffic has been heavy on the blog this week. I’ve been fully engaged in this David Lowery vs. Emily White debate as it goes viral. Boing Boing has a great wrap-up of rebuttals and of course you can check out my original piece here.

It’s been incredible reading all sides of the debate and I think we’ve all come away learning something important about each other. I know I’m reinvigorated to get back to writing the book full-time as well as getting my new music non-profit venture founded and funded. You may see less of me on the blog in the coming days, but rest assured I’m in a basement somewhere in Upstate NY hunched over a keyboard next to stacks of books.

Before I split to get on with it, I wanted to share with you some of the cool new music app discoveries I’ve made recently. They’re thanks in no small part to the incredible API masters at The Echo Nest and their wonderful Evolver.fm site which reports on all the latest music apps.

This is My Jam is built on an utterly simple concept. Each week, you choose a single song and tout it to the world as your current favorite. This is My Jam does a number of things right to make this app a compelling experience. First, I think the idea itself is great because it hits the sweet spot in terms of how much of my listening experience I want to share with everyone. To me, pushing updates every day on what I’m listening to seems excessive. Last.fm is cool because it makes my listening history available without pushing it to the world all day. Once a week seems like the perfect quality control too — it ensures whatever song I pick will be the best of the best. As someone who spends at least a few hours a week listening for new music, it’s the perfect balance. Add to that a well-designed UI, a robust music catalog to choose from and just the right balance of reminder emails to drive engagement, and This is My Jam is something with staying power. Check out my jam here.

TastemakerX is a fantasy stock market for music. You buy and sell shares of bands, that’s it! It’s a fun little diversion to check into each day and see how your band portfolio is doing. Some buy shares in their favorite bands, others try to play the market and notice emerging trends. I’ve taken the latter approach, doing research on sites like Metacritic and Pitchfork to check for new releases (would have done that anyway). Since there’s a 5% commission on all sales, and a 25,000 unit starting bankroll for everyone, you really are forced from the start to be shrewd and patient with your trades (it’s all play money of course). The mobile app makes for a great waiting-in-line time-waster, and the full-featured website gives a home base to track your portfolio. It’ll be way more fun when a few friends start to play, but for now I’m enjoying trying to climb up the leaderboards, and going long on R. Kelly.

WhiteNoisePro is handily the best white noise app in the iTunes app store. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the iPad and as such have been using the WhiteNoisePro app in my headphones to drown out background noises. There are dozens of sounds that can be blended and customized to create a unique aural atmosphere. The UI is most impressive in the mode where you’re placing audio sources in your environment and changing their volume, pitch and other parameters. I’ve got a nice crackling fire with some wind and ocean waves, and a mechanical hum to ground it all. It’s funny to be enamored with an app that basically does its job best when you don’t notice it, but I’d recommend it for any of your white noise needs.