Category Archives: Tech

Live Nation magazine subscription scam duping customers out of $14.99 per purchase

Please beware that when purchasing tickets to certain events via Live Nation (Ticketmaster) you are very easily being duped into a “bonus” or “complimentary” magazine subscription. Why is this a scam?

First of all, yes, Live Nation gives you the option to ‘opt out’ of this “complimentary” subscription but it’s listed under “Privacy Information”. It should be listed elsewhere with a different heading. Also, “bonus” implies free, no cost to you, and this is not the case. Also, you must check the box to opt-out versus checking the box to opt-in.
(Click on the image below for larger version)

Secondly, if you do decline this “bonus” offer, you are then eligible for a “refund” of $14.99 if you are thorough enough to read the fine print and follow a couple links. Why are you eligible for a “refund” if this is indeed a “complimentary” offer?!

Ticket Special Bonus:
A one-year (52) subscription to Entertainment Weekly (a $14.99 value) is included in your concert ticket purchase today. Your first issue will mail in 8-12 weeks. You will not receive a bill for this magazine subscription. This offer is valid for new U.S. subscribers only and is limited to one subscription per household. Entertainment Weekly publishes eight double issues a year. Each double issue counts as two of 52 issues in an annual subscription. The subscription will be mailed to your ticket purchase order shipping address. If you would like to decline your magazine subscription you may request a $14.99 rebate. To request this rebate: please mail this completed form along with confirmation of purchase to Live Nation Rebate, Entertainment Weekly, P.O. Box 63440, Tampa, FL 33663-3440 within 30 days of your purchase.

I, for one, didn’t read the fine print and received 2 issues of Entertainment Weekly in the mail. I had no idea why I was receiving this magazine until a friend, weeks later, asked me if I noticed this practice on Live Nation’s website when she was purchasing tickets for a different comedy show. That’s when it became obvious to me why I was receiving Entertainment Weekly. Of course this was 30 days after my “purchase” and too late to request a refund. I suspect this is intentional and part of the scam. By the time customers figure out what is going on, it’s too late. 6-8 weeks to receive your magazine, remember?

Here is the quote from Live Nation’s Privacy Policy:

“Newsletter and Magazine Subscriptions: When you complete the ticket purchase for our shows, you will be automatically enrolled in our newsletter. In addition, for some shows you may receive a complimentary subscription to a trade magazine. For this purpose, we will provide your name and mailing address to the magazine subscription fulfillment company. You may choose to simultaneously opt out of both subscriptions during the checkout process.”

You can see the entire Live Nation final ticket purchase page to the right. (click on it to enlarge) Notice how there is a timer on it at the bottom right? It forces you to rush through the page and not read everything because you’re afraid of losing your tickets.

Let’s put a stop to this practice by complaining directory to Live Nation. You can retweet this here.

-Chris Thacker


Update: May 11, 2011

On February 18, I purchased tickets via Live Nation to see Kevin Nealon at Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco. Now that I’m aware of Live Nation’s duplicity when buying comedy tickets I was diligent enough to check the box to decline the “complimentary” magazine subscription and fill out the necessary paperwork to receive the $14.99 refund on said COMPLIMENTARY subscription. I mailed out the paperwork within a week.

On April 28th, I realized that I hadn’t received my refund so I tweeted this to @livenation and a specific Live Nation employee who follows me. She said she’d have someone look into it.

On May 2nd, Ben from Live Nation emailed me to assist. I told him that I hadn’t yet received my refund and was curious if Live Nation had a comment regarding my concerns about the nature of how these subscriptions are filled. He said he’d look into the refund and ignored my other point.

On May 4th he said that he learned that the refund had been processed and I received a voice mail that day or the next. I replied back:

“Hi Ben,
Thanks for your help with this.

So correct me if I’m misunderstanding this whole process but every time
someone orders comedy tickets online, they must opt-out of a “free”
magazine subscription yet are entitled to a refund if they both decline
the free subscription and fill out the necessary paperwork? LiveNation
expects customers to repeat this process over and over for every ticket

Again no reply.

Today it’s May 11th and I have yet to receive my refund. I emailed Ben, the Live Nation rep, and he replied back, “The check is on the way and you will be receiving it this week!”. This tells me that they didn’t send the check before, like he said they did, and they just got around to it. Really?

Additionally, I found this class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster (1)(2)(3)(4) from 2000! They have been doing this for over a decade.


Update: June 1, 2011

After calling/emailing Live Nation numerous times I finally received my rebate check for $19.99. I have no idea why that was the amount versus the stated $14.99. So the three tickets I purchased totaled around $89 and I got $20 knocked off of that.


Recording Studios Face Uncertain Future (NPR)

Here is an interesting story on how digital recording (your laptop) is replacing expensive recording studios. There is a 6 minute audio segment from NPR at the top of the above link.

“”The real value for most bands isn’t the equipment,” says McTear. “A guy at Guitar Center or Sam Ash would like you to think it is. They’d like you to think if you just spent 3 grand, you’re on your way to making your record because you bought the equipment. The sort of unseen, disappearing player in all the records being made today is collaboration — between artists, engineers and producers and studio musicians — all those people.””


Apple buys but I’m sure I still won’t get my dream features

Apple has bought online streaming music service   While this surely changes the game, I’d really like to see a site offer the depth of features that I’ve been dreaming about for at least 4 years now.  Yet I don’t even see people trying.  I can’t be the only one with these ideas in my head.

In case you’re wondering just what these features are… I sure won’t mention them here.  If you’d really like to know and want to open a professional dialogue about it… I’d be delighted.

NY Times article

PC World article


MOG introduces All Access on demand music for $5 a month

“Today MOG launched MOG All Access, a revolutionary new online music listening service unrivaled in quality and ease-of-use.

MOG All Access is the extraordinary music listening service we full-time music fans have always wanted. You can listen to just about every album and song you can imagine (about 6 million songs), all-you-can-eat and on-demand for just 5 bucks a month. Yeah, pretty much all the music you can get at your nearest record store, for the cost of parking. And no, we are not pulling your leg!

In a cybersea overpopulated with subpar machinery, MOG is your state-of-the-art periscope to the sublime. On-demand music is just the beginning of the MOG paradigm. We’re creating a league of our own with features like:

  • Personalized radio capabilities that put other online radio & satellite radio to shame
  • Easy playlist creation and cool tools for discovery and sharing
  • Sky-high quality streaming at 320 kbps…the highest sound quality in the industry

Highly regarded tech blog says “…it is a significantly better user experience than any other music service I’ve tried, including Spotify, MySpace Music and Pandora”.

Get the free trial right now, no strings attached:

Want to learn more before embarking on our fantastic voyage? See the video guided tour here and see for yourself why we’re so pumped about the service that’s changing the online music listening experience forever:”


Microsoft replacement of black man causes uproar over a common advertising practice

Microsoft recently used a different version of a photo within an ad for two different markets. Apparently this has caused an uproar, Microsoft has apologized, and replaced the changed photo.

All they did was photoshop out a black man and replaced him with a white man. Advertisers and marketers have been doing this since the beginning of advertising and marketing.

I was part of a similar plan in 2003. I was a model for a Microsoft ad where they hired 3 men and 1 woman. The other two men were of Japanese and Chinese decent. Their intent was to use a different version of the ad for different markets, US, Europe and Japanese.

Click on each photo icon above to see the full size ad.

Why is this just now being brought to light and frowned upon? Because the man was photoshopped and it wasn’t reshot with a different actor?


iTunes On OS X Finally Has Competition

The following is from, Slashdot: Apple

iTunes On OS X Finally Has Competition mallumax writes “The truth is, iTunes is an average music player. Though the UI is simple and good like most Apple products, it has lagged in features compared to music players available on Linux and Windows. A feature as basic as monitoring a folder and adding the latest music files to the library is unavailable in iTunes. There are no plugins or themes. Despite the many faults, many of us continued to use iTunes because of the lack of options available. But today the wait is finally over. Not one, but two music players have become credible contenders. Songbird: An open source music player which has been in the works for more than 2 years has finally released its 1.0 Release Candidate builds. The team behind Songbird has members who previously developed for both Winamp and the Yahoo Music Engine. It has support for extensions and themes (‘feathers’ in Songbird parlance). Amarok: The undisputed champion among Linux music players is finally coming to OS X, thanks to KDE 4 being ported there. Amarok developer Leo Franchi has been able to run a Amarok on OS X natively. So we can expect a reasonably stable Amarok to hit OS X in a few months’ time. Hopefully these players will gain traction among OS X users, which will finally force Apple to either step up in terms of features or open up iTunes for extensions.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

This was from Slashdot: Apple.


iTunes 8, using the Genius playlist option to do what you want

iTunes 8 features a new playlist creation tool called Genius. To create a playlist with it, you find a song you like and select it in your iTunes library, then you click on the ‘Genius’ button at the bottom right of your iTunes window. iTunes then gives you a few, albeit overly simplified, options. One, select how many songs you want in the playlist. Two, ‘Refresh’ the playlist with different songs. Three, “Save Playlist”. In theory I like the idea but in practice, it’s half useless.

What if I don’t want songs rated 1 or 2 stars in this playlist? What if I only want unrated songs in this playlist? You may be thinking, “who rates songs? what’s the point?”. The answer to that is rather long and I will go into that in a later post when I explain how to create customized and dynamic playlist to vastly improve the “shuffle” ability of iTunes and your iPod.

To achieve a Genius based playlist that consist of only unrated songs, this is what I did.

1. Create a Genius playlist for a song. Select a song you like, click on the ‘atom’ looking icon at the lower right of your iTunes window. Select “Limit to 50 songs”. and click on “Save Playlist”. You may repeat this step and create an unlimited number of Genius playlist. I call each playlist “g: song title”.

I try to rate all of my music, so when iTunes creates a Genius playlist, probably about 50% are rated. This only gives me about 25 songs per playlist that aren’t rated. Depending on how many songs you have rated, and how many unrated songs you want to achieve for the final playlist, you can adjust the parameters to match your needs.

2. Create a Smart Playlist that contains “any” and for the options, select “Playlist” > “is” > (the genius playlist you created in step 2). You may continue adding any and all Genius playlist you’ve created in step 1. I called this playlist “g: all”.

3. Create another Smart Playlist that contains “all” and for the first option select “playlist” > “is” > (select the playlist you’ve created in step 2). For the second option in this playlist, select “rating” > “is” > “0 stars”. I called this playlist “g: unrated”.

Here is a screenshot of the playlists I’ve created. I named them all with “g: ” to make it easier to find them and to know what they are for just by the playlist name.

genius playlist

So now if you want to play unrated songs based on the iTunes Genius feature, just select the final playlist you’ve created in step 3. Which for me is “g: unrated” in the screenshot above.

This is also a good way to find songs that you knew you liked but for whatever reason haven’t gotten around to rating yet. As each song plays, you can easily and quickly rate it. Or you can eyeball the list and batch rate songs with a few mouse clicks.

This is how I currently rate my music:

5 stars: My absolute favorite songs that I very rarely skip
4 stars: Songs I like
3 stars: Song I’m indifferent to. They may grow on me.
2 stars: Songs I don’t like
1 star: Special case songs, “live music”, “spoken word”, self-help tracks (instructional, tutorial, etc)


Stream your music collection to your iPhone

Simplify Media software connects you directly to your music with your iPhone.

Enjoy songs that are on your home computer while at work or from any WiFi location. Explore friends’ music while they are online.

Hoping to spur a strong early reaction, Simplify Media is offering the iPhone edition of its utility for free to the first 100,000 to download it but will charge $3.99 per copy afterward. The computer-based software is and remains free, regardless of platform.


PandoraJam, a must have app for fans


PandoraJam enables fans of the fantastic music service to easily listen, record and stream tunes to an Airport Express. With support for scrobbling tracks to and Twitter, PandoraJam is essential software for net music lovers everywhere.”

Features include:

  • Stream music wirelessly to a sound system (requires Airport Express)
  • Record music for iPod or iPhone playback
  • Apple Remote support
  • Tag recordings with album artwork
  • Submit songs to (known as Audioscrobbling)
  • Native, Cocoa application.
  • Growl notifications
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Instant Messaging status updates (Adium, iChat, Skype)
  • Twitter support

I’ve been using this off and on for about a year now… and I’m a bit late posting about this. I’ve never been a dedicated Pandora user because there are so many options and many of them have their limitations. However, using PandoraJam to listen to Pandora provides the huge majority of features and flexibility that tech savy music lovers desire. A custom designed station (add your artists), smart new artists recommendations, audioscrobbling, Instant Messenger status updates…

listen to my custom Pandora station here


“Import, organize, play, and share your music and videos using Banshee’s simple but powerful interface.

Rip CDs, play and sync your iPod, create playlists, and burn audio and MP3 CDs. Most portable media devices are supported (iPods, MTP, and Mass Storage) – including video and album art support!

Stream or download your podcasts and video podcasts. Discover new music with streaming radio.”

Share (The Rock Hard Times)

Searching for interpol works but Catherine Wheel and Film School do not.

Their description of themselves:

“My reason for doing this website is that I felt there wasn’t a site like it available – that there was a need for it. Something that would pull everything on a particular artist together into a neat, simple package. Something that would be editable by the people but in a more structured than how Wikipedia does it. And, yes, and do this in their own way and I totally respect their work. However, is more focused on discography, is more focused on being able to put proper mp3 tags on tracks, and I am more interested in making a sort of meta-fansite.”


Your music in more places:
nuTsie placeshifts your music to any web-connected PC and many mobile phones including Blackberry devices.

“SEATTLE, WA–(Marketwire – May 7, 2008) – nuTsie today announced the availability of nuTsie on Facebook. The nuTsie Facebook application allows users to play, share and explore the music that matters most to them — full tracks from their iTunes libraries and their friends’ iTunes libraries.
The nuTsie Facebook app allows users to:
— Feature and listen to their favorite iTunes playlists on their
Facebook profile pages
— Listen to their friends’ iTunes playlists
— Highlight their top 5 playlists on their profile pages
— Discover new music based on the music in their playlists and their
friends’ playlists

“nuTsie is about the music. There are over twelve hundred music apps on Facebook and not one of them delivers,” said Dave Dederer, Vice President of Business Development at Melodeo and founding member of the GRAMMY-nominated, multi-platinum rock band The Presidents of the United States of America. Dederer added, “In fact, this just in — findings from a study released last week noted that most Facebook apps are silly and pointless. Blow off the goofy apps that will just drive you crazy and go nuTsie for music with us.”
nuTsie is a synchronized web and mobile music service that allows anyone to upload and listen to their iTunes music in hi-fi quality on any web-connected PC, mobile phone or BlackBerry device, as well as explore other users’ playlists and share music with friends.
In addition to providing anytime, anywhere access to a user’s iTunes library, nuTsie offers powerful music recommendations and music discovery. nuTsie’s proprietary recommendation engine adds new music based on collaborative filtering of many playlists, which results in highly relevant song recommendations guaranteed not to be in the user’s own library. nuTsie users also can easily find and listen to new music by searching and browsing by artist, member, genre and song title.
nuTsie recently announced the commercial availability of its service on BlackBerry devices.”


BeaTunes’ powerful inspection feature let’s you clean up your iTunes track data in a way unrivaled by any other software on the market today. Easily find typos or different spellings of artists’ names, automatically fill in the album artist names, and much more. No more R.E.M. and REM in your iPod’s artist list!

beaTunes can even help you to find the titles of tracks that have no artist or title associated with them.

And once you have a clean collection, the built-in playlist generator works even better.

Here are some more examples of what you can do with beaTunes:

  • Automatically determine BPM (beats per minute) and store the result in iTunes
  • Manually determine BPM and store the result in iTunes
  • Inspect and fix your music library (typos, wrong genre etc.)
  • Sort existing playlists so that matching songs succeed each other
  • Create matchlists, i.e. playlists based on one or more sample songs
  • Browse songs from your music collection that match the currently selected song
  • Discover albums that aren’t in your music collection, but would complement it
  • Keep up to date through Amazon™ album charts
  • Automatically set start and end times of songs based on their volume
  • Categorize songs by their sound color
  • Build playlists per drag and drop
  • Create blog entries on with your favorite playlist or songs
  • Add like tags to your songs
  • Look up track metadata using acoustic fingerprints
  • Detect the language of lyrics already stored in iTunes