43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.


Kutiman, Big Media, and the Future of Creative Entrepreneurship

So amazing, so illegal. What are we going to do with you, future?

That's my pal, Jonathan Coulton, remarking on the disruptively talented Kutiman, who has made an astounding series of YouTube video remixes that's lighting up the web and (one imagines) generating a lot of wood amongst our nation's libidinous entertainment litigators.

Here's Kutiman's "The Mother of All Funk Chords" (link includes credits for each video):

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TWiT 133 with Jonathan Coulton and "Rock Bad"

TWiT 133: Jonathan Coulton - Functional And Elegant

Hosts: Leo Laporte, Jonathan Coulton, Merlin Mann, Veronica Belmont, Ryan Block, and Tom Merritt

Jonathan Coulton and niche broadcasting, HD DVD finally kaput, YouTube goes down, frozen RAM and more.

Here's a free, direct MP3 download of TWiT 133.

Man, I really loved this episode. Jonathan Coulton's music and performances are inspiring in themselves, but as a fellow (albeit, much more modestly successful) "microbrand," I have huge respect for how he runs the business of his career. (more after the jump, including why we were all on this episode together in the first place)

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Jacob Marley vs. Bob Marley: Shutting Out the Ghost of Music Past

In the few weeks since I wrote my first plea to trim the fat from your iTunes library, I've continued purging my own collection. On the first pass, I simply deleted the clearly objectionable stuff, things that I couldn't understand what made me want to keep them in the first place. It was rather easy, and like I said, it slimmed my corpulent media collection by a third.

Now though, it's getting down to brass tacks, and I'm making some hard decisions about what to keep. I don't need to do this for disk space, mind you, but as I've been trying to do a better job of organizing all my music and video with smarter lists and ratings, I've come to a simple conclusion: even if I still think it's good, I just have too much.

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Put Your iTunes Library on a Diet

My music buying habits have slowed considerably since my college days, when I'd rush down to the music store every Tuesday and spend every penny I hadn’t guzzled through a beer bong the previous weekend, but I still managed to amass a rather prodigious CD collection. When I got a Mac and an iPod, this turned into a rather prodigious iTunes library, and quickly became a major thorn in my side.

Having suffered through a couple hard drive crashes, upgrades, and subsequent backing and re-backing up lately, I've really been feeling the weight of that 100+ GB media millstone around my neck. I felt so great when I ripped that last CD and put all those unsightly jewel cases into storage, thinking it would simplify my life. Instead, it just created bigger headaches.

I know, I know, there are a bazillion ways I can slice and dice my iTunes library, storing it on different drives, shunting the videos off to a server, pimping out my machines with terabyte drives, etc, but it begs the question: do I really need all that crap in my life?

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Amazon launches sale of DRM-free MP3s

Daring Fireball: The Amazon MP3 Store and Amazon MP3 Downloader

Given the Amazon MP3 Store’s audio quality, prices, and user experience, I can’t see why anyone would buy DRM-restricted music from iTunes that’s available from Amazon. And given that Amazon is quite a bit cheaper than iTunes Plus, you might as well check Amazon first. I plan to.

I'm with Gruber -- this is a welcome and fan-friendly addition to the marketplace. And, frankly, I'm glad there's finally somebody out there who can really give Apple some competition in this area.

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Piano prodigy on focus and flow

TED | Talks | Jennifer Lin: Magical improv from 14-year-old pianist (video)

This video from the 2004 TED Conference is extraordinary for a few reasons. First, the prepared performances by then-14-year-old composer and pianist Jennifer Lin are lovely and technically very accomplished. And -- wow -- the improvisation she creates on the spot (16:45) is really something.

But, I also wanted to draw your attention to her thoughts on creativity and flow -- discussing how she tries to beat distraction and gain focus in both drawing and composition. Her discussion starts around 13:31, but do stick around after for her improv based upon randomly chosen notes.

[via Metafilter]

NYT Magazine on Coulton, Hold Steady, and "Artist 2.0"

Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog

Fun story by Clive Thompson in today's New York Times Magazine about what some people are coming to call "Artist 2.0" (or "Music 2.0") -- the post-plastic-disc world of musicians like Jonathan Coulton and The Hold Steady, who are actively engaging with their fans and not relying on the old school "spray and pray" approach to music marketing that's still in practice by the majors and their foundering artistic properties.

Selected quotes from Clive's article (plus clickable video of my interviews with Jonathan Coulton):

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MacBreak Weekly Special: the iTunes & EMI deal

MacBreak Weekly Special Edition: Fixing A Hole

Hosts: Leo Laporte, Merlin Mann, Alex Lindsay, and John Gruber

A special edition discussing the Apple EMI announcement. Look for our regular weekly MBW on Tuesday as usual.

Direct Download MP3 file

Here's a few links related to this very cool story:

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The Merlin Show: Two JVs and more

Two JVs & a Nick

No, I haven't yet interviewed Nick Mirov, but The Merlin Show's launch week juggernaut rolls on with interviews featuring two "JV"s: Google's Jeffrey Veen and San Francisco indie rock institution John Vanderslice (the latter of whom also has a show tonight at The Independent at which you should say hi if you see me). Clickable versions of both episodes provided after the jump.

Also, I've posted my first in a series of credit highlights, beginning with John Roderick, the man behind the wonderful music you hear over our credits (it's called "Blue Diamonds" and you can download it here).

Finally, if you haven't yet subscribed for free, it's a great time to hop in. Also, kindly note that, if you subscribe via iTunes, you can help me potentially overtake several popular public radio shows. Which would be really cool.

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Revenge of the Smart Playlist: 5 tricks for packrats & power users

The success of yesterday's post on the basics of Smart Playlists makes me think you might enjoy seeing a few more. So, today I want to show you how to get control of a very large iTunes library -- to save space by getting rid of stuff you're not enjoying or listening to, as well as bubble up stuff you may not even realize you like.

If you are an iTunes packrat but feel overwhelmed by your collection (or are simply running out of drive space), try these recipes for Smart Playlists to help you get it together.

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »