December 2011

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Music

Best of 2011: Staff Favorites

Best of 2011

Lots of music plays through the Rdio staff’s collective headphones and computer speakers, but some of it stands above the rest, especially when it ends up in our Heavy Rotation for months on end. In the spirit of year-end list-making, the Rdio staff — engineers, designers, operations, IT and beyond — have compiled a list of favorite songs from 2011. They’re the tracks we had on repeat, added to our personal playlists, and endlessly suggested to friends — say, have you heard these songs?


Have we missed any? What were your favorite songs of 2011?

Stay tuned for Best of 2011 playlists from some of Rdio’s dearest Influencers, coming tomorrow.

Developer AppRecommended By RdioTips & Tricks

Unofficial Rdio Apps: Trnsmit

Trnsmit

Rdio has a solid Engineering team here in San Francisco, building features and improving our products every day. But thanks to Rdio’s API, music fans and hackers anywhere can create their own Rdio apps, enhancements and social music innovations. Starting this month, we’ll be featuring interesting Rdio API apps monthly, right here on our blog.

This month is all about Trnsmit. Rdio’s own desktop apps can already match your iTunes Library, but what about all those playlists you built way back when? Move them from iTunes to Rdio with Trnsmit.

Importing your iTunes playlists is simple — connect your Rdio account to Trnsmit, export your playlist as XML, and upload it to Trnsmit. Presto: your perfect work-out mix is on Rdio without breaking a sweat.

Are you a developer with great ideas? Visit Rdio’s Developer page and register for an API key, check out our sample code and libraries on Github, join our API Google Group for discussion, and start building. You can even get some green for your efforts via the Rdio Affiliate program.

Influencer Spotlights

Five Questions with Scott Ellis, Drummer for She Wants Revenge

Scottellisillustration

Scott Ellis wears a lot of hats in the music world. Not only is he a touring drummer par excellence, he’s also the manager of Pearl Group Entertainment, where he manages bands in Santa Monica, California. A musician for over 15 years, first finding success with bands such as The Start, Man Will Surrender, Human Waste Project, Motochrist, Campfire Girls, Mellowdrone, and most recently with style-shifting rock duo She Wants Revenge.

Over that time he’s absorbed a multitude of influences from a variety of genres, and his Rdio profile shows it — his top artists include L.A. rapper Game, croon-poppers Maroon 5, campy punk troupe The Misfits, and neo-Americana rockers My Morning Jacket, just to name a few. Ellis grew up listening to punk rock and the music of the ‘80s, but his taste has broadened a lot in the past decade, when he started embracing music beyond the genres in which he typically played. Check out Scott Ellis’ Vibes playlist below, then read our Five Questions with him.

Five Questions with Scott Ellis

  1. Who do you think is an important musician that most people have never heard of before?
    Scott Ellis: Good question. In my opinion, some of the best are the musicians the general public doesn’t know of. To the musicians, my answer will be somewhat generic but as far as “Never heard of before”, I’d go with Billy Preston. Some say he was the fifth Beatle, though I disagree since he was more involved at the end of their career. Either way, he was very important and somewhat the glue to the creation of Let It Be, which is a beautiful record.
  2. If you had access to any record in the world, what would you listen to right now?
    SE: The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta. That one never gets old.
  3. Which album or artist do you most associate with your childhood?
    SE: Oh man. I grew up on a lot of ’80s punk (mostly British), rock (Zeppelin & Sabbath), and another style they called New Romantic or New Romanticism. Now they just file that under “alternative”. Basically New Romantic was music with synthesizers and dance beats. So I’ll say I associate with Duran Duran because I would run around Huntington Beach with liberty spiked hair, eye liner, painted leather jacket, boots, etc; trying to be the king of punk but I’d come home and pull Duran Duran’s “Rio” 7" out from under my bed and listen to it in private. I may have even danced around my room a little.
  4. We hope people are ______________ when they listen to our music.
    SE: It’s hard for me to speak for others, but I hope people feel something when they listen to records I’ve played on or music in general. I think this is what music is supposed to do. It should be emotional. It should bring up feelings of happiness, love, pain, rage, etc.
  5. We were thinking about ______________ when we wrote music for the new album.
    SE: It’s hard for me to answer this one because I’m always a hired musician and can’t speak for others. I know I was happy Justin and Adam asked me to play on this latest She Wants Revenge record as I had just broken my collarbone in a bicycle accident and figured I’d miss out. Justin called me over to track for a few days and I did most the beats with one arm. I only used the hurt side when I had to do a fill. Quite an experience!
MusicNew Music Weekly

New Music Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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While people are busy compiling their Best of 2011 year-end playlists, new music continues its weekly release tradition. Today, you’ll find new collaborations between Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa and Gucci Mane and V-Nasty, which should satisfy listeners who like their rhymes accompanied by a knowing smirk. Those looking for hot songs for non-Holiday party playlists may find them in releases from electronic maestro Moby or indie rockers Silversun Pickups. Cruise this week’s New Releases and listen to the New Music Tuesday, December 13, 2011 playlist for even more music.

Playlist Notes

  • Charlotte Gainsbourg - Stage Whisper
    The sultry pop singer returns this week with an album of two halves. The first seven songs are studio recordings from the same fertile sessions that produced her acclaimed 2009 effort, IRM; the latter eleven are live takes on tracks from that album and others.

  • Anthony Hamilton - Back to Love
    Grammy-winning R&B vet Anthony Hamilton releases his seventh studio album this week. As evidenced by first single “Woo,” expect the singer’s usual blend of soul and R&B, with touches of funk and gospel.

  • Silversun Pickups - “Seasick”
    L.A.-based dream-pop quartet Silversun Pickups are currently readying their third album, tentatively titled 3, for release in early 2012. The first single is “Seasick,” a nearly seven-minute opus highlighted by swirling synths and chiming guitars. It's joined by new songs “Broken Bottles” and “Ribbons & Detours” on this three-song EP.

Label Spotlights

Follow and Listen to Rhino Records on Rdio

BlueBest gratefulAreatha

Rhino Records’ humble beginnings as a single record shop in 1973 have been largely obscured by their recording legacy since. The company started distributing records in 1978, specializing in novelty and punk records, before moving into reissuing in the mid-‘80s. By then it had found its niche releasing remastered editions from The Smiths, Joni Mitchell, The Cars, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and other musicians making pop, rock and roll, and R&B records. In-house studio master Bill Inglot’s deft touch made Rhino Records famous for their excellent sound quality.

Today, Rhino and its affiliate label Rhino Atlantic continue releasing exciting new music (such as the latest from The Streets) while ensuring that older gems, such as the Grateful Dead, continue getting their due.

Check out the Rhino label page and follow Rhino Records to ensure you’re getting your daily dose of classic cool.

This Week on Rdio

This Week on Rdio: December 5 - 9, 2011

This Week on Rdio

Last week we began a new week-end roundup to keep you updated on the recent goings-on here at Rdio, including new music, Rdio news, new Influencers, and more. Check out what happened this week below, and don’t forget to like Rdio on Facebook, subscribe to the Rdio blog feed, and follow @Rdio on Twitter and on Rdio.

Here’s what happened on Rdio this week.

Follow this week's newest influencers.

EventsNews

Love Rdio? Vote in the Mashable and Crunchies Award

You’ve told your best friend, mom, and college roommate about Rdio — now help tell the world. If you love Rdio, we’d appreciate your vote in these two tech awards.

Mashable awards

Vote Rdio for the Best Music Service/App in the 5th Annual Mashable Awards. You can submit one vote per day until December 16th — log in via Facebook or Twitter to vote.

The crunchies

Nominate Rdio for the Crunchies Awards. Enter Rdio on the Crunchies website as your pick for Best Design, Best Social Application and Best Tablet Application with one nomination per category per day until midnight on December 13th.

Label Spotlights

Listen to Smithsonian Folkways on Rdio

FolkswayswoodClassic folkCimmaron

No, it’s not your typical pop music, and you’d be hard pressed to find them on the commercial radio, but the importance and cultural relevance of Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label owned by the Smithsonian Institution, cannot be overstated. The label, founded in 1948 by Moses Asch, has a simple MO: spread the music that speaks to the power of folk culture, which both illuminates our own heritage and engages us in the culture of others.

Smithsonian Folkways’ commitment to bringing historically and socially relevant music to the attention of wider audiences has rightly made them an influencer and a musical institution. Their attention to detail, which includes writing extensive and in-depth reviews for almost all of their releases, and making plenty of exciting, cultural- and genre-based playlists such as “Throat Singing”, “Boogie Woogie Piano”, “Radio Haiti”, and “Radio Africa”, makes following Smithsonian Folkways on Rdio an easy decision.

Don’t take our word for it though — straight from the folks at Smithsonian Folkways, below are their suggested “Five Essential Smithsonian Folkways Listens,” including commentary.


Five Essential Smithsonian Folkways Listens

  • Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly - Folkways: The Original Vision
    A list of music from nearly 3,000 Smithsonian Folkways albums would need to start with Woody Guthrie and Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, two singer-songwriters who are arguably the most impactful American folk musicians of the last 75 years. This album was one of the first releases by Smithsonian Folkways after the Smithsonian Institution acquired the Folkways Records collection in 1987. A companion to this album is Folkways: A Vision Shared, which features the same songs performed by other artists including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Willie Nelson, and helped raise funds for the launch of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

  • Various Artists - Classic Folk Music from Smithsonian Folkways
    We often take for granted the influence of artists such as Doc Watson, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Pete, Mike and Peggy Seeger, Big Bill Broonzy, Brownie McGhee, Elizabeth Cotten, and other folk musicians. This compilation, one of the numerous albums in the “Classic Series from Smithsonian Folkways,” sheds new light on the success of the urban intellectual-driven movement that made rural white and African-American artists and their music favorites everywhere.

  • Elizabeth Mitchell - You Are My Little Bird
    Quality family music that doesn’t “talk down” to children has been essential to the Smithsonian Folkways mission. An excellent recent example is You Are My Little Bird, the 2006 recording from Elizabeth Mitchell that brings a fresh sound to cherished American folk songs, contemporary covers, and other melodies from around the world.

  • Various Artists - ¡Cimarrón! Joropo Music from the Plains of Colombia
    Smithsonian Folkways has one of the largest and most diverse collections of music, spoken word and sounds from around the world. The “Tradiciones Series” features 33 recordings that showcase the diverse musical heritage of the more than 50 million Latinos living in the United States. A recent stellar example is ¡Cimarrón! Joropo Music from the Plains of Colombia, which features percussive strings, dynamic vocal expression, and a full-throttle pace that makes Joropo one of the most exciting regional musics of Latin America.

  • Babatunde Olatunji - Drums of Passion: The Invocation
    Smithsonian Folkways not only produces new recordings, but it also accepts donations of other independent record labels or collections, such as Monitor, Fast Folk, and Cook Records, which would not otherwise be made available to the public. A recent acquisition is The Mickey Hart Collection, 25 albums of music the Grateful Dead percussionist performed, recorded or co-produced, that furthers his endeavor to cross borders and expand musical horizons. Drums of Passion: The Invocation is one of two albums by Nigerian artist Babatunde Olatunji in the series.

Music

The Holiday Music You Can't Live Without (Or Stand)

Holiday

Not everyone likes your Auntie Bess’ fruitcake, but even your curmudgeonly cousins know that the raisin-speckled brick means one thing — it’s the holidays. People echo this same sentiment about music this time of year: yes, you love to hate it, but it's just not the same without Mariah Carey chirping from the mall, car stereo, and family get-together that all she wants for Christmas is you.

With that in mind, we’re pleased to present a playlist of Fruitcake Music — all the songs you find yourself craving despite yourself, during the holiday season. Including Celine Dion, Gene Autry, Paul McCartney and more, here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays — may you find at least a few sweet maraschino cherries tucked between those pesky currants. Dig in.


What’s a holiday-tinged song you love to hate?

ExclusivesMusic

Exclusive: Listen to Kool Keith Drugs Remixes

Kool Keith

Rap mogul Kool Keith has been a hip-hop staple since he formed the Ultramagnetic MCs in 1984, during the genre’s nascence. Since then he’s recorded prolifically under a number of aliases, including Dr. Octagon and Dr. Dooom. After a busy period of recording that saw him record four albums between 2006 and 2009, Kool Keith returns this week with Drugs, an unreleased single featuring a slew of accompanying remixes and alternative versions from the likes of Hot Chip and Switch. The idea was inspired by Amon Tobin and Doubleclick’s Two Fingers project, in which the duo re-imagine older tracks in new, rhythm-centric ways.

Starting today, you can listen to Drugs exclusively on Rdio, one week before its official release.