Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Moving forward-- an online storage solution?

Hello friends, or any of you that have still been frequenting these parts. Things have been a bit on the slow side lately on account of life and all of its insidious conflicts and challenges. But I feel like since I've emerged mostly unscathed and still (relatively) sane, it might be time to satisfy that nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me to get this blog back in shape.

I guess the good news is that I've been putting in a great deal of work on the musical end of things, tightening up several old compilations and creating a few new ones to boot. Though at times the process could be stultifying, I've largely cherished the opportunity to go back and revisit my old compilations and box sets that I've created through the years.

Now I'm sure most of you can comprehend that the end result of listening and re-listening to a particular set of songs in an attempt to put together a near-perfect compilation is often ear fatigue, or worse, total artistic burn-out. Many times I'll post a compilation here and then won't revisit it for a year because my listening habits are often protean, and songs tend to sound far less mellifluous to my ears once that certain sweet spot is hit in terms of number of listens.

However there is something to be said for going back. Times have changed in the world of the music nerd, and we're long past the point where 160k mp3s are considered suitable for serious endeavors. (I wish someone had told me this would be the case when I first started ripping my CD library whole cloth back in the early oughties!) I also find myself far more aware of subtle mix variations than I did as a youngster, this no doubt due to too much time spent over on the Steve Hoffman forums.

So in my older and hopefully wiser incarnation, I have gone and transmogrified some of the worst offenders in the Crystal Sphere back catalog by searching for superior mixes, utilizing superior mp3 compression schemes and properly balancing the levels between tracks. Hopefully this might entice some of you who missed this stuff the first time (or didn't, but want better versions) to check it out!

All of which leads me to the storage issue. Ever since I started this whole blogging endeavor, I've been battling my online storage providers when it comes to them dropping my files without my knowledge. Now of course part of this is just that once I woke up one day and found myself suddenly without job, frivolous expenses needed to be cut so that I could maintain a roof over my head, and the money I was paying the hosting company seemed like the easiest monthly payment to get rid of.

That said, like most of you I enjoy hopping from blog to blog and checking out all the delights people take the time to post; and I've seen how the entire scene has nearly died out over the past five or so years. Active links on music blogs are becoming an oddity from the past. Why is this?

The obvious answer is that people just don't want to pay money, but I think it goes beyond that. We live in an age where even Peer-to-Peer services are becoming antiquated due to streaming sites like Spotify and Pandora. Whereas a decade ago people under 30 were getting their music off of iTunes or for free off of Napster and WinMX, nowadays they simply stream, and mostly off of YouTube. In other words it's an audiophile's worst nightmare!

But in the mainstream's rush from P2P to the streaming model, something interesting is taking place. That is, the remnants of the download world are now becoming the domain of the hardcore fan-- the obsessive. Far from the way things used to be where you would find little but shoddy 128K rips of the latest Black Eyed Peas single, Soulseek in particular is now flooded with the same rare pressings, imports, needledrops and other esoterica that the blog world used to provide. Furthermore audio quality is now getting its due. Most everything I see there is ripped at 256 or above, with much of it encoded as FLAC.

A gratuitous photo of Mila Kunis, because why not?

So this is where I'm going with this. I think paid file hosting sites of the MegaUpload variety are yesterdays news, and if I'm to keep this blog going, I would like to push it into the realm of P2P. While bittorrent is one approach, I've been leaning towards the notion of running the Soulseek QT client on one of my servers here at the pad. That would then open up the folder with the entire Crystal Sphere catalog, including all the updates and the new stuff I've been working on, for 24/7 access. All you, the end user, would need to do is download the client on your own machine and then point it towards the user name which I'll establish (probably something catchy like "123JimBob").

So is this workable, or would it be if utilized perhaps in conjunction with a bittorrent solution? Let me know what you think. Of course this blog would still be the center of the action in terms of letting you know what's going on; but I really do want to establish a better long term hosting strategy so that it doesn't wind up a virtual ghost town like so many others from back in the glory days.

Your thoughts?