Metal Starter Pack

A recent study indicates what Metal fans have known all along: Listening to Metal makes you grow up to be awesome (you can read the details for yourself here: The Metalhead Kids Are All Right).

That being the case, here’s Murfie’s Metal Starter Pack to get you on the road to a happy and successful life (don’t worry if you’re getting started late, most of these musicians are likely older than your parents).

123048-largeBlack SabbathBlack Sabbath

Arguably where it all began, this album is essential classical listening for all headbangers.

AC/DCBack in Black

Black, the staple ingredient of any quality metal band.  AC/DC defined a generation of rock-leaning metal musicians and Back in Black captures their unique ability to be simultaneously condemned by the moral majority and still receive play at wedding receptions.

Iron MaidenNumber of the Beast

Where would the world of metal be without disturbing album art?  Probably on more record store shelves, but that’s not what matters to Eddie and company.

123530-largeMotorheadAce of Spades

Don’t bother reading the lyric sheet, just pound your fist on the dashboard and press the accelerator into the floorboards.

Mercyful FateMelissa/The Beginning (Disc 1 and Disc 2)

Mystical traditions often appear in the the lyrics of metal music.  Mercyful Fate, headed by King Diamond, took this atmosphere to the stage.

MetallicaKill ’em All

What more can you say, “metal” is their first name!  Kill ’em All marks the beginning of a new generation of shredders lifting metal out of its rock roots and elevating it into a new form.

37087-largeMegadethRust in Peace

A counterpoint to Metallica (although the two cross stylistic paths over time, and share an origin story), Rust in Peace shows that metal can be intellectual as well as completely bad-ass.

SlayerSeasons in the Abyss

Taking metal into the darkest recesses of the human experience (at least before 1990), Slayer takes metal to an all new low (which is a good thing).  See “Dead Skin Mask” for a nod to a historical Wisconsinite…

AnthraxSpreading the Disease

Inoculating metal traditions with a stiff shot of Thrash (and the occasional thoughtful reflection), Spreading the Disease keeps it metal while opening doors to future crossover acts and points to the then future (now past) of metal music.

By 1990, metal had fragmented into a wide assortment of hybrid genres which I encourage you to explore once you’ve studied the essentials.  When you’re ready to graduate to the next level, rescue a 1980’s Camaro from it’s cinder-block perch, install a pair of Craig speakers in the rear deck and pick up one of those cassette-deck adapters for your phone…


Jason Gullickson
@jasonatmurfie

Jason makes sure all the electrons flow in the right direction at Murfie. His dream job is to automate himself out of his dream job, then hire his automaton to execute the “master plan.” He enjoys 20% of all musical styles and 35% of metal, punk, electronic and classical.


Cloud streaming FLAC – Possible, Practical, Awesome

Our friends at @Bliss_audio retweeted this post from @audiophilestyleCloud Storage & High Resolution Streaming – Possible? Practical? Pricey?  It’s a very thorough write-up on streaming your personal music from a cloud storage service, and you totally should go read it right now if you’re serious about high-quality audio (as you can imagine, we’ve done a lot of that math ourselves :)

We reached the same conclusions as well, that streaming lossless music from the cloud is not only possible, but it is also practical and awesome!

When Murfie first offered a streaming music service we insisted on using 320k MP3 as our lowest-quality format.  Most of the experts thought this was unnecessary at the time and most other streaming services used much lower quality.  We disagreed, did our homework and found that we could reliably stream 320k to all the devices we support.  We felt that our members, who were used to downloading high-quality formats (including lossless FLAC) from high-quality sources wouldn’t be satisfied with the low-quality bitrates offered elsewhere.  So we made the investment and the technology to deliver a higher-quality stream regardless of what everyone else was doing.

Not long after our original streaming service went live we were already looking for a way to provide something better.  After more R&D we successfully demonstrated lossless streaming of FLAC over the Internet in our labs, and began to figure out how we could offer this as a premium service to our members who demand the highest quality available from their CD’s with the convenience of streaming from the Internet.  One of the biggest challenges to this project was finding playback devices that could handle streams of this quality but over time these became available, and we released our first lossless streaming service on the Voco music device.

Since that time we’ve been adding more devices to the list of players that can handle our lossless streaming service (we call it “HiFi“), and of course clever hackers can always use our public API to access the service using their own home-grown solutions.

It was very exciting to run across @audiophilestyle’s post this morning and know that there are other music fans out there who care this much about the convenience of streaming without compromising the quality of their recordings.  Paired with the large amount of lossless recordings available in the Murfie Marketplace, we think our lossless streaming service is pretty awesome, but that doesn’t mean we’re not already working on making it awesome-er :)

 

We Will Roku!

One of the most important things to us at Murfie is making it easy to listen to your music however you like to.  That’s why we created our streaming web player, iOS and Android mobile apps and built a public API to integrate with cool devices like Sonos and VOCO.

Another cool device we get a lot of request for is the Roku streaming player.  We’ve been experimenting with making Murfie available as a Roku Channel for awhile and while it’s not quite ready yet, we’re at a point where we’d like to get some feedback from regular Roku users about what we’ve done so far.

So, if you’re feeling adventurous, have a Murfie account and are Roku fan, we’d love to hear what you think about the channel so far!  Since this is an “experimental” channel you won’t find it in the Channel Guide yet, but here’s how you can add the Murfie Channel to your Roku devices:

  1. Go to https://owner.roku.com, login to your account and click the “My Account” link in the top-right corner
  2. Click “Add a Private Channel
  3. In the private channel box, enter “murfiebeta” and click “Add Channel
  4. Confirm by clicking “Yes, Add Channel

Once this is done the Murfie channel should appear on your Roku devices within 24 hours.  If you can’t wait that long, go to Settings > System Update > Check Now on your Roku device and the Murfie channel should be available as soon as the update completes.

Remember that the Murfie Roku Channel is still experimental so don’t be surprised if you find some bugs lurking in there.  That said, if you do run into any trouble we’d love to hear from you, and we’re particularly interested in what Roku fans think about the channel.  We’ll then incorporate all of the bug reports and feedback into future versions of the Channel, and once we think it’s awesome we’ll release it from the laboratory.

…and you thought that 3D printed record was cool?

Last week everyone was excited about an LP created on a 3D printer . . . well, check out this frozen record!

Shipped as an ice mold and a bottle of water, this distribution takes “icecasting” almost too literally.

Murfberry Pi

As you may know not too long ago Murfie opened the doors on a new streaming music service we like to call “Murfie Everywhere“. Currently you can stream any disc in your collection to a browser and listen to it without the hassle of downloading, syncing, etc., which is pretty cool, no?

However the browser is just the beginning. In addition to this we are working on several new ways to stream your music library. Of course there are the expected ways like on your smartphone, or perhaps a high-quality-streaming-music player, but what about the other end of the spectrum?

You see, it’s a bit of a pastime of mine to try and get my Murfie library streaming on any device I can get my hands on and I wanted to try this on the simplest, most bare-bones device I could find. Enter the Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi is a tiny, $25 single-board computer that you can hook up to your TV, and it runs Linux. The slightly more expensive version even has an ethernet port (a critical ingredient for a streaming music device) so this seemed like a perfectly viable target for the cheapest, simplest Murfie Anywhere player.

Of course I expected there to be challenges (even the more sophisticated machines we’ve been porting to have had hang-ups) but thanks to the completeness of the Raspberry Pi’s implementation (it’s really a full-blown Linux compute) and our well-designed API I was able to put this little demo together in about an hour (crank up the volume for full effect):

It’s kind of hard to tell from the video, but the player is actually completely self-contained on the Raspberry Pi as a console application.

Got something you’d like to stream your Murfie library to? Send your challenges to info@murfie.com and we’ll give it a shot!

A New CCC

This post belongs to Murfie Musings–a series where folks at Murfie and our guests take the time to share what Murfie is up to as well as explore issues that matter to media ecology.

My friend Pete’s post on Facebook sparked a conversation that I’ve been involved in before as well as sparked my imagination.

It’s common to identify oneself as one thing or another without realizing that we’re composed of all sorts of other things. Perhaps we’re more talented in one thing or simply prefer one over the other. But we are generally discouraged from acknowledging that we are composed of a variety of skills and passions due to the fear that cultivating these “non primary” skills will somehow “dilute” the primary skill. However, my experience demonstrates that the opposite is true.

I believe in variety and balance and I know that personally my best ideas have been inspired by exposure to diverse and unrelated topics (the TV show Connections demonstrates this well), so I propose a new CCC: Create, Curate and Consume.

The new CCC suggests consciously dividing your time into thirds and focusing each third on one of the three C’s (I’m not sure that thirds are correct, but it feels right).

Most likely one of the C’s comes so naturally to you that you’re unaware of even doing it, but working the other two into your schedule may require some conscious effort. Restraining yourself from the C you spend most of your time on now will require discipline as well.

You might be saying now “why would I stop doing what I’m best at?” I would counter by saying that even though you’re excellent at Cx, do you not find yourself at times lacking the will, or the ability (or even desire) to continue pursuing Cx? Embracing another C can sometimes help clear these hurdles, and in my personal experience it has both fortified and inspired me in the C that comes most naturally.

So what does this have to do with Murfie?

In a way, Murfie embodies all three activities in a microcosm. Through existing recordings, musicians contribute to the first C, Create; in addition to existing recordings, Murfie is actively working directly with musicians to explore ways to bring new recordings directly to our members.

Curation is handled by our members themselves, whose collections represent and reflect their personal taste in music. Through sharing these collections via Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist and other means, our members also select and present music to existing and prospective members. Here again we are working on new ways to make curation easier for members and provide news ways of sharing curative activity with other members and the rest of the world.

Surrounding all of this is the third C, Consume. This is the direction from which we see the most new members join our ranks, as consuming music is the easiest way to get started with Murfie.

Chances are you already engage in these three C’s without thinking too much about it, but I believe that making a conscious effort to balance the time you spend on them will improve both your experience as well as those around you. I’m going to conduct an experiment on myself to this end, and I invite you to join me and share your experiences in the comments below.

Postscript:
Why “new” CCC?  The original CCC stands for the Civilian Conservation Corps; which you can read about on Wikipedia.