Why I Love and Hate Apple Music

When the digital music age took off, I was one of the first on it. Yes, I might have been on Napster. It’s how I found Belanova. I was all for getting rid of the excess in my life even though I don’t think music is an excess; CDs are.

Before digital, I had lots of vinyl and lots of CDs that I owned. I listened to everything in my collection. I knew all the songs, the tracks, track listings, names of the songs, and knew every band/artist in my collection. You could ask me questions about my collection and I could tell you most anything.

Once digital became the norm,  I ripped them all on to my computer at the highest quality and uploaded them to my iPod. It was the biggest iPod they had at 160GB. My entire collection fit on that one device. I didn’t grab a few files online but once I learned about a new artist, I purchased their music legally. My collection grew.

As I added new music, digitally, I became less connected to it especially as my iPod was set to shuffle all the time. Maybe I didn’t it to myself by shuffling but I have a wide variety of music and want to listen to it all. I stopped buying physical media and only purchased from the iTunes store, until Apple Music.

Apple Music is wonderful. Period. A lot like Spotify, Apple Music gives you music streaming. You listen to what you want, when you want, and they give you recommendations based off your listening habits. This is awesome. I have found so much new music and new artists that my library has grown by leaps and bounds.  And for writing music reviews, this is perfect. I can pull up new music, listen to it over and over while I writing my review, and done. I don’t need to own it, purchase it, or waste money if it’s bad.

That sounds great, right? Its is until your music library is filled with downloaded music that you can’t remember ever downloading. When I find out about a new artist, I don’t always have time to stop right then and listen to them. I might have heard one song that was amazing and I downloaded the album for later. Later never comes because you have still a bunch of other albums still in your later pile. Sadly, there is no pile. It is just taking up space on your “cloud” and you never come back to it.

Just recently, Apple Music gave us “new music” based on our listening habits. Every Friday, we tune into the new music. A good song comes on and I go to add it to my library, just to find out I already downloaded it. A band, SIENNA, had already been added and I didn’t even remember it. This is my life with music right now. I have so much music, that I have too much music.

Without the tangible disc in my hand, I am disconnected with music. I don’t see the names of bands anymore. I don’t know the names of the albums, either. Heck, I don’t even know the names of the songs. There is a band called VEINTIUNO and I really like their music, but I can’t not tell you one name of a song. This is how digital and streaming services have changed the way we listen to music. Or maybe it is just like radio. You hear a song and you like it, but you have no clue of who sings it.

I love Apple Music… and I hate that it has made me disconnected from it too. It seems that unless you stop and play a downloaded album over and over, you never truly connect like you did with physical media.

Is this the end of MenudoMania?

What’s happening with the MenudoMania Forever tour? Sadly, it feels as if it is falling apart right before our eyes before we have had a chance for a full-fledged tour.

The 80s pop group from Puerto Rico had called it, quits after many attempts to revive the group had failed, but remember of the “golden era” knew that Menudo fever couldn’t be gone forever. Six members from the golden era joined forces to create El Reencuentro. Rene, Johnny, Miguel, Ricky Melendez, Charlie, and Ray Reyes hit success with two very successful tours and the first-ever live album from Menudo. This reunion super-group began in 1998, continued to tour and perform together until 2015, when Johnny and Ricky decided to no longer be a part of the group. They cited issues with money as the reason for their abandonment.

Johnny and Ricky’s positions in the reunion group were replaced with one Robert Avellanet, who joined Menudo in the late ’80s and had no connection with his fellow bandmates. Robert won the hearts of the nostalgic middle-aged mothers and housewives, who rekindled their love affair with Menudo with El Reencuentro. This change also included one big/MAJOR bonus, they would allow the guys to use the Menudo name and logo for their new tour.

This new and most awesome tour would be a Menudo fans perfect wet dream, in theory. Not only would Robert join the group, but so would Rawy Torres, who traveled with the band at the same time as Robert. Then add the return of MDO, and to top it off, special appearances by almost any member who wanted to come back, which many did. Now we have MenudoMania.

The term Menudomania was founded in the early ’80s and like Menuditis, it was a term that gave fans who were infected by the love for Menudo. And in 2016, Menudomania hit Miami with a massive trip down memory lane. Rene, Miguel, Charlie, Ray, Robert, Rawy, Jonathon, Abel, Alexis, Ashley, Didier, Daniel, and Pablo united for a concert that hoped to have a mega-sized turnout. The concert’s reception didn’t have as good of crowds as El Reencuentro’s concert tour, but it sparked fan’s love again, especially those in Mexico and Central American countries.

After the concert, various members of the supergroup began appearing on television programs for interviews and oddly enough the members appearing changed time, mostly keeping Charlie Masso as the spokesperson for the group and tour. When certain members seem to be lost in the group’s interviews, you start to wonder what was going on. Fans realized as dates set that there are two sets of concerts. Menudo concerts with five members: Rene, Ray, Miguel, Charlie, and Robert, then there were Menudomania concerts, the reunion super concert.

On July 7, 2016, both Rene and Ray announced that they will not be appearing any long in the Menudomania Forever reunion tour but would continue as Menudo. They both cited their reasons were financial against the creator of the Menudomania tour. The tour continued on without Rene and Ray, but also without huge participation from Miguel, as well. He seemed to have moved away from the concerts to a small guest appearance and having a presence similar to a godfather. Charlie Masso is the only member left from the group’s golden era.

As fans and social media play a big part in everyone’s world, they connect fans to former members of the group and accusations began to fly over the media and publicity. Members like Adrian Olivares had his name on the flyers for Mexico concerts, yet Adrian was never even asked to be a part of the reunion. Some say that Ray Acevedo was kicked out of the tour during rehearsals because of attitude problems.

Now, Charlie Masso announced via social media that he too was leaving the group because of financial reasons against the creators of the reunion tour. He has even been removed from the concert tours official website. Seems to me that all your original members have disbanded for the same reason and it leaves us with no one representing the original group. Remember, Miguel (who has not officially left) is not performing full concerts any longer. Not that there is anything wrong with Robert and Rawy and Jonathon (who only true faithful fans will know), but MDO is not Menudo.

So where does this leave Menudo (the group) and Menudomania (the reunion)? It’s hard to say, but it feels that without the representation of the original members, there is not a Menudomania even necessary. It may be time to retire Menudo once and for all.

Cataloging your music collection

I spent this weekend cataloging my vinyl collection and I have to say, it was a bitch. I started to use Discogs since they developed an app for smartphones. I do have to say that the amount of Latin music listed has gotten so much better since 2-3 years ago thanks to a lot of collectors and sellers on the website, but still there was still so much that was not on there. It might have been an album in general, or just something easy as adding a different edition, like a US release versus a Mexican edition.

My wife has no patience for this type of hobby. She doesn’t mind collecting as she has her own collection of Christmas music, but the concept of cataloging and knowing what she has, hence when I began the cataloging I had to pull out duplicates. She likes the idea of having a list but not creating the list. Me, I don’t mind the work. Yes, it is a daunting task but it has to be done.

The sad part is that I think the internet has made us stupid. I think back to when I began collecting music in the 80’s. I hunted down everything and bought new items almost weekly. I listened to vinyl and CDs regularly and had a great collection. It was bigger than it is now and I didn’t need to catalog anything. I knew exactly what I had…maybe not the exact edition or country but for the most part back then, I wasn’t thinking about the obsessiveness of having every edition from every country. I was just interested in the music and if I had it based on the cover art more than anything.

Maybe it could be that over the years, I have bought and sold so many times that it is hard for me to keep track in my head but I am finding out that going digital has changed how I collected music. It wasn’t about editions, or covers anymore. It was about having the music. I don’t like that feeling. I don’t like feeling that I am missing owning music and missing the knowledge of knowing what I own physically and not virtually.

At this point, all the vinyl is cataloged and I am moving on to the CDs next. I know someone with a wall full of CDs, I would hate to have to start from the beginning of cataloging that collection. Mine is not as big, but still substantial. It will be another task I take on to get it in the app, but I think it is necessary in order to keep my sanity and my collection organized.

So much music and so little time

Over the weekend, I cleaned up my iPod and added more music to it; things that I have just recently purchased. And I was thinking that this isn’t everything I own. If I were to add the vinyl music that I don’t have digitally, I think that my iPod would be filled. I currently use the discontinued 160GB and I know there is stuff that just doesn’t play. How can one person listen to that much music?

I have a goal in life and that is to review all the albums I own, which goes back to the 80’s. Eventually, I will get that task handled; but how long do you think that will take. A year, two years, five years? I don’t know, I think it would be possible to review all the music I own within a year if I did nothing else and I purchased nothing more and that I didn’t take on any music that I find on streaming sites like Spotify.

Reviewing an album isn’t just listening to the album once and writing a review like movie critics do, there is much more to it. While I don’t get as in-depth as some critics do, it does take more than one listen. Albums that I thought I loved, as I listened to them again and more critical, I found out that I really didn’t like it. At the same time, some albums I thought I hated became favorites. Just because I can sing along with a song on an album I have heard a million times, doesn’t make it a good album.

They say everyone is a critic, but what I find is a lot of “fanboy” and “fangirl” attitudes when it comes to music. Lots of fans have their particular favorites and within those favorites, everything is perfect. In reality, this isn’t true. Nothing is ever always the best. People like Thalia with huge fan bases make bad albums, but her fans won’t say that.

As a music critic, I believe in 100% honesty; but sometimes you have to choose your words wisely. I don’t believe in slamming an artist or their work and I will try to be as tactful as possible. Music is subjective, my likes and your likes may never be the same and all I can talk about is what I think. Take what you will from it. I know I will never say “this sucks”… I will try to talk about the good points as well as the bad, but if there are a lot of bad parts (for me), I am not afraid to say it.

Not every review will be good. As I find artists or artists find us and want us to review their music, keep in mind that it might not be a good review. We don’t cater to divas who want us to only write positive things. I did that once and felt very wrong for stating the music was good even though I didn’t care of it.

Menudo could be “BIGGER” than The Beatles?

In 1984, Menudo had a lengthy news story on 20/20 where Barbara Walters and Geraldo Rivera told the world about the group and one of the quotes from the interview stated that Menudo could be BIGGER than The Beatles. Now, I know a ton of people might disagree with this but honestly… Could Menudo have been bigger than The Beatles? This is something to think about.

Menudo began in 1977 and ended in 1997; that is 20 years of musical history. While the group’s popularity went on a rollercoaster ride over the years what remains is simple: 20 years of music. The Beatles only have 10 years of musical history. The Beatles had 12 albums to their name and Menudo? 37 (if you don’t count MDO and later). So Menudo had 3 times has many albums as The Beatles in double the life span.

One of the things that stuck out in the 20/20 news story was their praise of Edgardo Diaz being a marketing miracle and how they needed to bring him into a marketing seminar to teach others how to do what he did. Yes, He took 5 boys from a little island of Puerto Rico and turned them into a world phenomenon and you wonder how this group is NOT bigger than the Beatles.

Don’t put praise on Edgardo Diaz too fast. Honestly, if any of this information is incorrect then I will edit this story with a correction BUT… Edgardo Diaz was seriously one of the dumbest owners around. WHY? Because he no longer owns or has any control over his legacy.

Before the group’s deal with RCA, Edgardo Diaz was in total control releasing albums in various countries under smaller indie labels. He was sitting pretty because he could release what he wanted and when he wanted. This was perfect for the early 80’s because fans could have such unique items making “memorabilia” in abundance. Once RCA took over for about 3 years and 11 albums around the world, for the most part, all the music was still written by Edgardo’s team of writers. So any smart business man would have saved all the rights for his production company Padosa.

When RCA dropped Menudo due to lack of sales, Edgardo took the boys to Mexico and worked a deal with Melody Records who could handle the international demand on a smaller scale. At the same time, Edgardo entered a horrible deal with McGinnis to market the band in the US, the one place Melody Records didn’t go. Both of these ideas were bad in the sense that Edgardo lost control over the music and the rights to the songs. Control was all over the place and Edgardo seemed like he was giving away his legacy.

More trouble seemed to follow as Edgardo, probably hungry for money and trying to keep his “concept” alive, sold the rights to everything including the name. Why would you do that? I would rather have held on to that more than anything. A smart business man would not have done that.

Now, as the music industry is changing; Menudo is left in a state of nothingness because there are so many people involved that a true catalog of the group’s legacy can never be formed. Older music from Padosa Records (the first 8 albums) seems to belong to no one. RCA, who owns everything from “Quiero Ser” to 1986 “Menudo” in Portuguese seem to only want to release compilations of the same 20 songs. Melody Records in Mexico has yet to re-issue any of that music, maybe because of the name being sold. And McGinnis is trying to milk half-ass official bootlegs of his little piece of the pie.

If Edgardo had held on to everything he did with the group, I bet we would be seeing Menudo everywhere, especially with all the reunions over the years. A full catalog could have been remastered and think about 37 albums on the market now versus The Beatles’ 12. All the fans who grew up on Menudo are adults now and they all want to relive their childhoods and expose their children to what they grew up on. So, yes… it is possible Menudo could have been BIGGER than the Beatles-yet Menudo’s mastermind messed that up completely.

Physical Media vs Digital…

A question that music lovers still ponder!

Over the last week, and honestly the last year, I have been trying to wrap my head around the age old debate of what is better: digital or actual physical media. Collectors of media, especially vinyl, will say that vinyl is the best; but just recently I have read an article that states: Audiophiles claim that analog playback sounds better, even though this is scientifically untrue. According to science, a CD and a vinyl record being pulled from the same original material are mathematically identical. Without going too far into it, suffice it to say that the 44.1 kHz/16-bit CD-quality spec isn’t random—it’s based on sampling theory, which proves that given that the highest frequency you can here is 20,000 Hz, using a higher sampling rate or resolution is mathematically inconsequential. Some people choose to dispute science and instead trust their easily deluded senses, or maybe they just like the sound of a record scratching on the surface of a record.

For me, I don’t think it has been a matter of sound as I honestly don’t hear the difference. When iPods first came around, I was one of the first to jump on board; because living the music, you want it with you every place you go and cassettes and mixed CDs just didn’t cut it anymore. I digitalized all my CDs and vinyl and then purged because why in the hell do I need all this clutter when everything I own is in my pocket, plus I have a backup of it on my hard drive.

Now I am rethinking my decision.

I look at my collection and worry because some of my songs and albums are so rare that they are not on digital media. Let’s take some very obscure groups like “Pares Y Nones” and I wonder if there is actually anything about this group online. Doubt it. But the 5 girl group hailed from El Monte, California and made one record that sold in the old Menudo store there because the man who ran it, also was the manager of this pop group. It was released on a small label that might have had only one or two acts. There is no way this will ever find a digital play or the fact that I will probably never see this album again. I pray that my 10 digital songs stay with me because this is the only way I have this music. So now I am trying to see if digital is the way to go with the music.

One of the hardest things to do is go back, especially in the US, this music is extremely hard to come by. This would require many trips across the border and lots of dollars because Mexican sellers know how hard it to locate these items that they are putting a pretty penny on it. That all fine for older stuff, but Mexico and other Latin American countries are not embracing the resurgence of vinyl like the US and the UK. Artists like Flans, OV7 and even CD9 are still pushing digital downloads of their music. Most artists are pushing downloads instead actual CDs. It’s quick and easy, and ready for instant comments from their followers.

I am finding new artists left and right because of social media and outlets like Spotify that lets me listen to music for free; but dammit… I want to have more ways to purchase music other than downloading. Or is it just the way it is and I have to deal with this? My girlfriend says format doesn’t matter because if what matters is truly the music, then why worry about all these new artists and finding their CDs…just download the music and enjoy it or hate it. Whose right and whose wrong. While I don’t know either or right or either or wrong… I think it comes down to what is easier to get sometimes. Why work so hard to get your music?

Menudo 1983 The Original Crossover

In 1983, Xavier left the Puerto Rican pop group, Menudo, and Ray Reyes became the new member of the group. This was the first time that a new album was not released to celebrate the arrival of a new member. There is a big gap in Menudo history that is missing from an official release, and the recent posting of a video on facebook made me rethink Menudo’s music and where it could have gone IF we would have seen an official release based on what the band was performing.

In early 1983, Ray began singing “Si Tu No Estas”, which was from the album “A Todo Rock”. At the same time, Miguel began singing songs in English like “Motorcycle Dreamer” and “Gimme Rock” and Ricky sang “Gotta Get On Movin” but yet there wasn’t an album that was corresponding to the group’s music.

At the same time, this is happening, Menudo was signing a deal with Lorimar and RCA for a big crossover. Miguel was around during this signing and it makes me think that the group was hoping for a release that would have been a bilingual album. It would be 2 albums before we saw Menudo in English and two member changes later, but the music, lyrics, and recordings were already in place as we saw Menudo on English language programs like Silver Spoons, and even news shows where the group performed with Miguel.

In the facebook video posted recently, we saw Ray singing “Chicle De Amor” in concert without Roy, but with Miguel in the background. Again, why is Miguel performing songs from A Todo Rock, when Roy should have already been in the group if the album was actually recorded with Roy.

Think about the idea that A Todo Rock featured Miguel, not Roy… and Motorcycle Dreamer, Gimme Rock, and Gotta Get on Movin’ where actually on the album. Based on history so far, should there have been an album with the Johnny, Miguel, Ricky, Charlie, Ray line up? Yes… Would it be easy to see A Todo Rock as a bilingual album, absolutely?

I would love to get my hands on a Menudo and ask the true story about this missing era of the group.

Twitter is important for music fans

If you love music and you are not on Twitter, you’re an idiot!

I hear so many times from music people that hate twitter and love Facebook and I am like WHY? While they still consider Facebook is still social media, they gear it to your likes and your life. What was once a networking place is no longer that? Facebook wants you to be in your own little bubble and wants you to stay there.

Many people describe Twitter as the world’s largest chat room, but if used correctly; twitter can be heaven for people who love music. Now, if you are one of those people who say, “Yeah, I love music.” yet your iPod is only filled with 1-10 artists and only the most popular songs, you are not a music lover and we can excuse you from reading this.

Honestly, you don’t even need to talk on twitter and it still can be your best friend. Here is how. First, you follow your favorite musical acts and their record labels. Then you look through the people the record labels follow. Most of them will follow their artists, plus smaller artists will follow other bands, groups, and singers. Follow these people because usually, they will be in the same genre.

Then do the same with the new artists that you just followed. Follow their label, too. Indie labels have lots of good artists that don’t get a lot of airplay, so you may not have heard of these artists. Follow them anyway…for now.

Okay, this is where new music becomes fun. Now that you have all these bands followed. Go to your following list and start researching these artists online. Most will have a website or better yet, head over to Spotify and search them. If they are in there, listen to them for a moment.

If you like them, favorite them on Spotify. If not, you go back over to Twitter and unfollow them. Now they are gone from your timeline. Do this to all the artists you like and don’t like. Eventually, you will have a list of great new artists to buy. Also, keep an eye out for artists that other artists mention, or record labels. New artists get signed daily, so you never know when someone hot is gonna come around.

Now, just an FYI…you’s feed can get crazy if you follow many people. Make sure you turn off people’s retweets. Some artists will retweet everything people say about them, and you wake up with 500 messages to go through. Nope… just put up their profile and hit the button that says Turn Off Retweets. Easy.

I have found so many new bands just on twitter alone, and they are great. Some of my favorites. Facebook might let you follow your favorites, but you’re not going to discover your next favorite musical act there. You need Twitter!