Orpheus was a music search and exploration tool conceived as a solution to a problem on the horizon in 2003: how does one organize, search for and discover music when all digital music ever recorded is at the tip of ones fingers? This was my Master’s Thesis at UC Berkeley’s School of Information. My team (myself, Vijay Viswanathan and Jeannie Yang) won the best master’s project that year.

Oh! Wow. I was wondering when the next *awesome* dj evening @ olive was, and then I looked at my calendar, and guess what? It’s TONIGHT. So get your game face on, gather your pals and get on down to Olive. We get on at 8:30 or so. Don’t be confused by the new DJ names. Jeannie will still rock you, and I’ll throw down some valid distractions while she rests between sets. Don’t front. You know you want to show up.

If you absolutely *can’t* make it, we’ll be streaming our set live. Stay tuned for details.

Get up for the down stroke

Get up for the down stroke

photo courtesy of floetic_justice

photo courtesy of floetic_justice @

Man – the King of Pop is dead. I did not think I would be writing that any time soon.

Like most people of my generation, Michael Jackson played a very big role in my pre- and early teens. We all loved his music, his mad dance moves and his larger than life presence.

But I’m pretty sure I took it to another level when it comes to fanaticism. I adored him as a kid. I still do. I had all the paraphernalia – a sequined glove (made by my mom), the thriller jacket, the beat it jacket, pins, posters, pictures and all of his records. I listened to Thriller everyday and cried when he caught fire during that commercial filming. I attended the Jackson 5 Reunion Victory Tour at RFK stadium with my mom when I was 11. As a “DJ”, I judge a song’s value by whether or not I can mix it with Billie Jean.

Despite all the things that have transpired since the height of his popularity, all the things that he has been accused of (the worst of which I don’t believe he is guilty of), and all the odd things he’s done or said to have done, he will remain in my mind that brilliant, massively talented and plainly bad ass performer of the 70’s and 80’s.

I’m personally saddened by his death. At least I know I’m in good company.

We have a new sound system and fresh sounds to pump through them. Get up and get down to Olive this Friday, 6/19!

Because its like that.

Because it's like that.

Becaue its like that.

Becaue it's like that.

This Friday at Olive is a special one. Stitcher won a Webby People’s Choice award, and we are throwing down at Olive to celebrate. Add to that the usual fun @ Olive on the 3rd Friday of the month, and you have a perfect storm of fun! Come on down, meet the Stitcher team, have a drink, eat some pizza, listen to some music and generally enjoy yourself!

Come on down to your favorite Tenderloin establishment for NYE! I’ll be spinning with the infamous Jeannie Yang starting at 9.


This past weekend was a fine celebration of San Francisco. What follows is a quick run through of the highlights. But first, a song to play while you read this. The Submarines have nothing to do with any of the above, but this song just keeps playing on my iTunes mix and I thought I would share it with my loyal and adorable readership. This is off their new album – Honeysuckle Weeks. Note: if the song doesn’t play, visit this link to hear it.

On Friday, Kelly and I went to see Kid Beyond and the Honeycuts at the Independent. Neither band is exactly my cup of tea, but Kid Beyond’s beatboxing is something to behold. He multitracks his own beatboxing to create nuanced rhythms and melodies, then sings over them. He’s pretty entertaining.

During the day Saturday, I rented a Zipcar to run some errands. Said errands took me through many of the city’s neighborhoods on a gorgeous, sunny, cool day. I hit up the Presidio, Fort Mason, Upper Haight, the Sunset and touched my hands in the Pacific at Ocean Beach.

Saturday evening, after a quick stop at Olive, we visited the new Owl Tree and then went to more tiki bars than entirely necessary (although it wound up being a very fun night). I have another post planned about the new Owl Tree, but my main observation is that I was so happy to see the new owners honor the former owner Bobby and his desire to keep the name the same and the owl theme alive. They did right by him. They did a great job with updating the owl theme.

The New Owl Tree


Inside the Owl Tree

Last night was the coup de grace – a dinner of mexican food at Puerto Allegre with some out of town friends, then Erykah Badu and the Roots at the Paramount in Oakland.

I’ve never been to the Paramount, and I missed Erykah Badu the last time she was there. I’ve always wanted to go to the Paramount, and I can’t think of a better line up to see there. It was a great show, although the acoustics could have been better.

Erykah Badu is a true performer. I love her.


Badu w/ The Roots @ Paramount!

The Paramount in Oakland

Happy Monday Kids!

I’m really digging the new Roots album. As ever with their albums, there are one or two immediately appealing songs, then a couple that creep up on you the more you listen to them. This is a hip-hop band with 8 studio albums, each one pretty unique and innovative. In many ways they have transcended hip-hop, or perhaps more accurately never fully fit in the ‘genre’. At any rate, I’m looking forward to seeing them next month at the Paramount in Oakland, and digging deeper into this latest release.

Here’s the track that’s getting heavy rotation at home and on my decks.

Update 2008-06-09: This track is no longer available to embed on a website, so I’ve removed the player…

Digital Thought Leaders @ MusicTech

Copyright Panel


Audience @ Copyright Panel


Tech Talk


Tech Talk


Paul Lamere


Search Inside the Music

Today I attended the SanFran MusicTech Summit. The name says it all: this conference brings together technologists, musicians and business people to discuss trends and challenges at the intersection of music and technology. What follows is a brief run down of the highlights of the talks I was able to attend. I haven’t had much time to digest any of the talks, so there isn’t much insight here – just the interesting tidbits as I saw them.

Legal Issues in Searching, Linking & Blogging

Panelists: Howie Cockrill, Esq (BEAT LAW), Andrew Bridges, Esq (Winston & Strawn), Mark Palermo, Esp (ASCAP). Moderated by Joe Gratz, Esq (Keker & Van Nest)

The twenty minutes I spent in this talk made me super super stoked I didn’t chose law as a career. The talk focused on the nitty gritty details of the legal implications involved in maintaining music blogs – interesting from an intellectual perspective, but rather mundane in implementation.

Digital Thought Leaders

Panelists: Michael Petricone (Consumer Electronics), Ty Roberts (Gracenote), Tim Westergren (Pandora), Aza Raskin (Mozilla). Moderated by Brian Zisk (SF Music Tech)

Aza Raskin had some great comments on the need for better utilities for search and discovery of music (I think, I didn’t take notes).

Tim Westergren made some interesting observations about how musicians might better take advantage of the new music landscape. He suggested bands might add a member whose sole responsibility was to deal with the emerging technological aspects of the band – blogging, marketing, promotion, and all the various social networks and publishing channels now available. “The 5th Beatle” he called it.

There was a great question asked by an audience member regarding music metadata, and why Gracenote feels entitled to build a business model off other peoples’ data. Ty Roberts effectively brushed off the question, but it does raise the ongoing question of why this kind of data should be proprietary to begin with, and if it is proprietary, why a third party could own it. There were also some interesting points made on the problem of the metadata standards and normalization. While it wasn’t explicitly raised, the MusicBrainz model provides a very compelling counter model to Gracenote: At its core it is an open source, user moderated, better designed alternative to Gracenote.

Copyright Issues in Music Law

Panelists: Richard Idell, Esq. (Idell Seitel), Fred Von Lohmann, Esq. (EFF), Zahavah Levine, Esq. (YouTube), Maia Spilman, Esq. (INgrooves). Moderated by Whitney Broussard, Esq.

This was a great talk about the challenges of building a business given the terribly murky legal issues surrounding music distribution. It was nice to hear some of the newer problems arising in this space, particularly around the differences between purely audio tracks (like MP3s) and audio visual works, which have entirely different licensing requirements.

I really enjoyed listening to YouTube’s counsel discuss some of the ridiculous requirements and challenges she confronts trying to be sure YouTube’s content is legitimate and rights holders are compensated.

I don’t always agree with the EFF, particularly on the music/copyright issues, but this was one of the better talks I’ve seen Fred give over the years. There are clearly some new emerging problems at the intersection of music & technology, and he was a great advocate for the little guy and the disruptive technologies that make this intersection of music and technology so interesting. I left with a much greater appreciation for the value that EFF contributes in this particular arena. They are very good at thinking about, advocating for and articulating the problems that other lawyers, technologists and the “in” businesses might not care about or think about. Overall a great panel, with some good Q & A afterward as well.

Tech Talk

Panelists: Tom Conrad (Pandora), Marc Urbaitel (In Ticketing), Not Ethan Kaplan (Warner Bros.), Jack Moffit (Chesspark / Xiph), Jeremy Riney ( Moderated by Colin Brummelle (Rilli).

This was basically just serious music tech geek goodness. All the panelists talked about the technology behind their sites. Most were fairly straightforward, Drupal or other PHP implementations. An interesting conversation on Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing app and S3. On balance, Tom Conrad’s discussion of what Pandora’s tech stack took the cake. Their challenges and subsequent solutions are truly unique and worthy of more discussion. Tom did a great job of describing their infrastructure and the numerous challenges of storing a serving up a complicated set of music, playlists and recommendations all in a dynamic, highly scalable, high availability environment. Pandora’s technology: Java, Postgres, C, and Flash for the front end, among other technologies. In another life I’d work on their backend systems.

Individual Presentations

Presenters: Paul Lamere (Sun Labs – Search Inside The Music), Mike Troiano (Matchmine), Paul Anthony (Rumblefish), David Gratton (Project Opus).

I was eager to hear Paul’s talk on the Search Inside the Music project, as this is an area I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. His lab at Sun is doing some really promising work in making use of audio data to power visualizations and recommendation engines. His talk covered the basics on the SITM features, as well as some of the future directions the project may go in. Most exciting was his statement that this technology will be open sourced and available by September. This folds in wonderfully with my research needs. The rest of the presenters were interesting as well, although I had to leave.

There’s a lot more to talk about and see here. For more info, check out the sfmusictech tag on Flickr & Twitter, and the sites of the people who presented.

Major thanks to Brian and Shoshana Zisk for putting this together!

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