Ownership Matters: Redbox Instant has shut down

On October 7th 2014, Redbox Instant officially shut down and discontinued their movie streaming service which only existed for 19 months.

With Redbox Instant, customers could pay a monthly fee to stream movies at home or on their mobile devices. Customers could also purchase electronic versions of movies, which were made available to them in their account for on-demand viewing anytime.

Since the company is no more, they offered refunds for the remainder of any unused monthly subscriptions. But the lingering question that customers are asking is: What happened to the digital movies I purchased?

Redbox posted an FAQ about this very question:

What happens to the movies I bought and stored in my digital locker? We’re exploring options for customers who purchased electronic versions of on-demand movies and will be providing that information to you soon. We appreciate your patience.

Do you know what that really means? “Be very, very worried, because you never really owned anything.” The FAQ was posted almost three weeks ago with no update to follow.

As we gain more convenient access to music and movies in the cloud, our ownership and control of this content is under assault. As the Redbox example points out, it doesn’t matter that you paid real money for a cloud copy of a movie—your access to that copy is controlled by a gatekeeper. And that gatekeeper can change the rules or even cease to exist at any point. Redbox Instant is not the first DRM service to shut down and leave customers high and dry after purchasing digital content. Within the last decade, Walmart, MSN, and Yahoo Music ended up announcing that customers would no longer have access to the digital content they paid for.

Contrast that with the ownership experience of physical media—your CDs and DVDs. Physical media puts you in total control. Ownership rights are well established. The formats are well documented. The only real downside to physical media is that it takes up real physical space. It’s less convenient than streaming.

And that’s why we built Murfie. We wanted to make real ownership of content in the cloud a reality. We’ve realized that vision for music. Our platform makes it ultra-convenient to really own CDs in the cloud. Check back soon about movies!

Murfie Streaming on Samsung Shape

Samsung has recently added support for Murfie streaming to their Samsung Shape Wireless Audio System.

Samsung’s new multiroom audio system, consisting of the compact M5 speaker, powerful M7 speaker, and specialized network hub, can be controlled with one mobile app on your iOS or Android device to stream Murfie and other music services throughout your entire home.

“We’ve had a couple M5 speakers to experiment with during development of the new service, and they are great sounding little units,” says Jason Gullickson, our lead developer at Murfie. “One of my favorite features is the circular volume control which works more like a traditional volume ‘knob’ and feels better than the up/down buttons found on other speakers. It also makes turning the music up or down quickly a lot easier.”

In addition to streaming your Murfie collection in 320kbps mp3, Samsung Shape also supports Bluetooth audio and works directly with Samsung televisions as well.

Check out the new Samsung Shape system at samsung.com. Murfie is among the music services easily found in their app.

Last Call: Your Murfie Week in Review


 Monday 5/5 

shinsOn Twitter: @bradleege won a copy of Chutes too Narrow by The Shins in our first #FreeFriday giveaway!

On the Blog: Ally reviewed three of her favorite folk albums (Let’s Be Still by The Head and The Heart, Indigo Girls by Indigo Girls, and Diamonds and Rust by Joan Baez) in Staff Picks: Ally’s Folk Picks.

On Twitter: We responded to a Forbes article called “Taking The Collecting Out Of Music“, letting them know that the spirit of the music collector is alive and well at Murfie.

In the Press: AudioStream wrote an article about us called “Murfie: A New Home for Your CDs in the Cloud“.


 Tuesday 5/6 

377182-largeIn the marketplace: 5 brand new album releases by Atmosphere, Lily Allen, Natalie Merchant, Sarah McLachlan and The Horrors were added to the Murfie marketplace.

On Twitter: We congratulated Musaic for the success of their Kickstarter campaign and expressed our excitement for being a streaming partner!


 Wednesday 5/7 

– On the Blog: Ally gave us our weekly dose of music history in This Week in Music HIstory (May 7th-13th).



 Thursday 5/8 

tbt– On Twitter: Throwback Thursday! Out #tbt tweet included an article and a picture of Matt and Preston from 2011, back when Murfie had “a couple hundred” members.

– In the Press: AV Specialists posted our guest article, called How Does Murfie Work? A Murfie Employee Explains. The post includes a special offer!


 Friday 5/9 

mouse– On the Blog: Andrew posted our #FreeFriday giveaway: The Mouse and the Mask by DANGERDOOM. You still have a chance to win if you retweet us or share our Facebook post!

– On Twitter: We got a shout-out all the way from Australia! The locals love us! :-)


Saturday 5/10

– On the Blog: Ally told us about some Mom-Approved Modern Music for Mother’s Day.


 

Where to find the Murfie Web Player

The Murfie Web Player has moved! You can find it on your personal navigation menu, near the top of the website. Sign in and start streamin’ those tunes of yours!

Hopefully you’ve been digging all the new improvements to the website—we’re always here to help if you have any questions. :-)

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 5.10.12 PM

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 :)

 

Sounds Like Texas: The Best of the Lone Star State

We know everything is bigger in Texas, but is the music better? This week, check out reviews of three albums by The Lone Star State’s greatest!

PearlJanis Joplin
Pearl

Listening to Pearl feels a bit heavy, and there’s certainly reason for that: Janis Joplin’s last, the album was recorded near the very end of her life. After succumbing to an overdose at 27, she would never live to see it finished and released. Her tragic ending was a symbol of how she lived: erratically, but remarkably—an incredible voice and presence that belonged to a very troubled woman. Pearl is both a testament to her incredible talent and a hint of what could have been.

One of the album’s greatest strengths is Full Tilt Boogie, the backup band that’s with her through every track. Together with Janis’ big voice, they create a sound that lets her rock, but keeps her refined and smooth. She doesn’t overpower them, nor they her—it’s a harmonious combination. On tracks like “Cry Baby”, Janis is her full, belt-y self, brought down to earth with Full Tilt Boogie’s influence.

This album has an organization to it that other Joplin records lack, and it’s a refreshing and new take on her music. Previous albums like Cheap Thrills have essentially lacked structure; while letting Joplin’s trademark rawness show is great, the extra guidance in these songs lets her shine in a different way. Her intensity is kept in check just enough to let the songs fully develop, but not so much that she never has her big moment. This album has taken an already incredible talent and refined it into something that much more listenable.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Cry Baby”, “Mercedes Benz”

 

370176-largeLos Lonely Boys
Los Lonely Boys

Los Lonely Boys are certainly true to their Texas roots—they call their musical style “Texas Rock n’ Roll”, a fusion of rock, soul, country, blues and Tejano. A group of three brothers, the band is forging those influences into a brand-new and extremely inspired sound. To cement their status as a true Texan band, the group recorded this album at Willie Nelson’s Pedernales recording studio.

At the heart of this album is their incredible music talent and creativity. Rather than making the album hard to follow, the group’s numerous musical influences instead work their way into a track list that is incredible varied and creative, yet cohesive. That variety turns out to be their greatest strength on Los Lonely Boys: “Crazy Dreams” is a masterpiece of guitar riffs, while “Dime Mi Amor” shifts effortlessly into a Latin-rock structure that echoes Carlos Santana.

Variety isn’t these brothers’ only talent, however: this album shines on instrumentals, vocals and songwriting. Rather than sticking to their Texas roots, their talent elevates them to what feels like a new genre: their songs are crafted with incredible nuance; they find a place in both your heart and your mind. Whether it becomes the soundtrack to your summer party or a quiet at-home listening session, this album deserves a place in any music collection.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Crazy Dreams”, “Senorita”

 

67224-largeGeorge Strait
Troubadour

It’s impossible to write a compilation of Texas music without at least one country album, and there is no country star more worthy of such a spot than the King of Country: George Strait. Texan-born, George Strait has released dozens of albums and had dozens of No. 1 hits. Twang is a testament to his signature sound and the solidifying of his status as country’s music supreme ruler.

A true Texas star, Strait’s collection not only contains nary a bad album, but manages to stay true to his Texas sound. After releasing so many albums, Strait still manages to find a new sound on Troubadour. The album finds him looking introspectively, creating a soft, mellow sound that is calm and soothing without ever slipping into melodramatic or depressing. On this album, he certainly sounds like a Troubadour—a singer who has had a long and varied career, but always manages to emerge that much better.

It would be easy to mistake Troubadour’s 12 songs for simple tracks, but his sound and songwriting prove otherwise. He’s enlisted a lot of outside songwriting help here, including Buddy Cannon and Monty Holmes, but the songs weave together into a calming, cohesive collection. Despite the number of people involved, the album keeps its attitude going all the way through: it’s a subdued, intimate album that sounds like the soundtrack to events you’ll want to remember. Strait stays true to his Texas roots for a reason: why mix it up when you do it so well?

Don’t Miss Tracks: “River of Love”, “It Was Me”

 

This Week in Music History (April 9th-15th)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

4/9- On this day in 1977, ABBA scored its first US No. 1 hit on the Billboard singles chart with “Dancing Queen”. The song was the group’s 7th US Top 40 hit, and would also hit No. 1 in 13 other countries. 

4/10- On this day in 1956, Nat King Cole was attacked onstage while performing a show at the Municipal Hall in Birmingham, Alabama. The attackers were five racial segregationists looking to make a political statement. The group was arrested, and Cole returned to the stage later that night for a second show.

4/11- On this day in 1994, Oasis released their first single, “Supersonic”. Although the track peaked at No. 11 on the charts, it eventually sold over 215,000 copies, making it the band’s 13th highest-selling single.

4/12- On this day in 1954, Bill Haley recorded “Rock Around the Clock” at Pythian Temple studios in New York City. The song, which went on to become a worldwide No. 1 hit, is widely considered to be the track that began rock and roll’s rise to fame.

4/13- On this day in 1967, Nancy Sinatra and Frank Sinatra were No. 1 on the singles chart with “Somethin’ Stupid”, making them the only father and daughter team in history to have a No. 1 single. The song was originally written and recorded by folk singer C. Carson Parks.

4/14- On this day in 1969, Paul McCartney and John Lennon recorded “The Ballad of John and Yoko”. Lennon performed lead vocals and guitar, with McCartney on bass, drums and piano. After the song was released, many radio stations banned it because of its controversial lyrics.

4/15- On this day in 1972, Roberta Flack began a six-week run at No. 1 on the US singles chart with “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face”. The song, written in 1957 by Ewan MacColl, was featured in the Clint Eastwood film Play Misty For Me. 

Oh, so you wanna own these gems, and hear them in lossless format? Check out our CD marketplace where you can stream (mp3, FLAC) and download in your favorite format (mp3, acc, FLAC, and ALAC)!