Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Well it's hard for me to keep a secret, so I might as well stop trying and go ahead and bust it out.  Our newly revamped download store is almost ready!

The new store works on a very cool platform called Shopify, which is a popular e-commerce platform anyone can use to sell their products.  While they don't support downloading music, we've been able to accomodate our online sonic needs thanks to the amazing developers who built our first store, Tekked.  Tekked is a New York based development company that has created something called Audio Salad, which is a content management system for selling downloadable music.

The new store is a lot different from the old one.  The biggest change from last year is that when the store opens, our music will be available worldwide.  Last year we painfully sat by and received email after email from hopeful yogis all over the world asking why they couldn't purchase music from us.  This was unfortunately a limitation put on us by our then distributors, but since moving away from those kinds of deals we've been able to remove the boundaries and open our doors to everyone.

We've also simplified browsing a lot.  Rather than have a ton of music genres to peruse through, we've decided to use our amazingly talented DJ's to hand-pick albums for recommendation.  Aside from that and some featured areas for yoga related styles like chanting, we wanted to come out of the box with a spacious approach and see what arises.  What we're really looking for is feedback from our beloved community on ways they'd like to browse.  Ideas that we haven't thought of so that we can shape the shopping experience to be something truly fun, time saving, intuitive and unique to Yogi Tunes.

Also, we have a lot of amazing new music that's come our way lately and we very much look forward to growing our catalog by continuing to discover and select music that we feel resonates with our beloved community.  That being said, if there's anything out there we don't have that you think we might like, please feel free to let us know.

Finally, we need beta testers to shop in the store before we release it to the general public, so if you have a hankering for buying some music from us and wanna get in before the red ribbon is cut please fill out our beta test form!

Stay tuned for more about the store launch date!

Namaste to all :)

Alex King-Harris (aka Rara Avis)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Power of Limits

There is an idea within music that can be found both in nature's limitless designs and in aspects of human ingenuity. It is that when limits are created, ultimate freedom can be achieved.

While at first glance the two words freedom and limitation seem to be in opposition of one another, upon further study one finds that this is not the case. Such is the subject matter of an amazing book by architect Gyorgy Doczi titled "The Power of Limits: Proportional Harmonies in Nature, Art, and Architecture"

What Gyorgy reveals in his book is something I studied heavily in music theory at college.  When no boundaries or limitations are placed upon something, it quickly looses it's meaning, and it's ability to communicate something of value to the observer.  In the case of music, if you take away all the rules, you remove the musicality of what it is you are trying to express.  Such was the case with the 'free jazz' movement.  Jazz itself is full of rules, and thus provides the learned musician with an incredible language from which he or she can express a multitude of improvised melodies, harmonies and rhythms.  The moment one strays from the rules, the music often ceases to be enjoyable.

In the case of classical music, where the rules are so strict that classical musicians often fear improvising, there is also something lost.  If you look at the history books it was the Church who first decided that improvising forms of classical music was not only illegal, but reason for excommunication.  They decided what the voice of God was going to be and no one else.

Why am I blogging about this?  Because it relates very much to teaching and practicing yoga.  When I first learned yoga, my teacher taught me the forms and always gave me the freedom to explore them as I saw fit.  So much so that my personal practice outside of class was of equal value to my time spent in class.  I was lucky enough to learn in a small group so that his attention was closely divided among his students.  This gave me an intimate understanding of the forms, and allowed me plenty of freedom to explore improvising with them.

What I see when I tour to yoga events world wide is something I like to call the McAsana.  Yes folks, it's the same concept as going to a McDonald's anywhere in the world and ordering a burger.  The idea is that it's the same no matter what.  With deepest respect and gratitude for the widespread movement of yoga, I also yearn for and wish to see an expression of it that encourages learning the rules and then knowing when to break them.  

Such is the case in the music only classes I love DJ-ing for the most.  Music only classes are a space for people who have a strong personal practice, teachers, etc who want to simply drop into some deep, perfectly mixed instrumental music, go on a journey and do some yoga.  No instruction, only improvisation.  This is a balancing practice to the need for learning forms, which of course is vital and will always be an integral part of yoga.

So next time you're at a yoga festival, take a look and see if they're offering a music only flow - consider going and seeing what it feels like to simply practice yoga in the company of other yogis to some nice relaxing music provided hopefully by Yogi Tunes!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Working with iTunes Part 2

So this article is less about the downsides of Apple and iTunes and more about the upsides!  We're going to cover listening to music in iTunes, how it works, tips and tricks to have iTunes work for you, rather than against you.

Playback Options.  iTunes is capable of crossfading songs, which is handy when you're putting together Yogi Tunes playlists of your own.  All of our subscriber mixes download not only as a seamless 90 minute mix by the DJ, but also as the separate songs that make up the mix.  That means you can mix and match songs as you please and create your own mixes.  In order to have songs transition seamlessly from one to the next you need to turn on the 'Crossfade Songs' option.

To do that, open the 'Preferences' window.  In Windows it's under the 'Edit' menu, on a Mac it's under the 'iTunes' menu.

In the preferences window, there is a tab called 'Playback'.  Here you will find the 'Crossfade Songs' option.  Turn it on, then set the amount of time you want songs to spend crossfading with each other.  If you're unfamiliar with the term crossfading, it simply means slowly replacing one song with another. This effect creates a seamless mix for your playlists!

Under the Playback menu you'll also find the 'Sound Enhancer' for increasing the quality of those crappy old mp3's you have in your library.  Note that Yogi Tunes mp3's are three times the quality of what you can purchase on iTunes, so you don't need the Sound Enhancer turned on.

Another cool option is 'Sound Check', which is a handy effect if you're finding songs in your playlist vary a lot in volume levels.  Turn this on and iTunes will scan your library to adjust playback volume.  Note that with large libraries, scanning takes quite a bit of time and can suck valuable resources up on older computers.  It does run in the background, but can slow things down a bit.

You can now close the Preferences window and feel the excitement of having learned a little something about how iTunes helps make the playback of your downloaded music a little cooler.

Finally, with the latest release of iTunes 11, you can create a mix on the fly from your main music library using the 'Add to Up Next' feature.  If you click on a song once, you'll see a small grey arrow pointing right at the end of the song name.  Click on that arrow and a small box of options pops up.  The first option 'Add to Up Next', will play that song next without interrupting your current song.  If you have the Crossfade option turned on, voila!  You're DJ-ing on the fly, just like the pros.

Friday, February 22, 2013

What's an RSS feed and why do I care?

Every once in awhile on the internet somebody contributes something of great worth to many people.  If you've read the Hacker's Ethic by Pekka Himanen then you know that many of the greatest innovations online come from the hacker community. 

Contrary to the main stream media's view, hackers are simply a group of enthusiastic computer users who passionately support innovation, freedom of information and the creation of things that make people's lives better.

One such hacker is the late Aaron Swartz, a brilliant hacker who was a founder of the popular social news and entertainment site Reddit, was also a huge contributor to the creation of the RSS feed.  

RSS feeds are an automatic way to receive news and blog content using something called a Reader.

Recommended readers are:

Reeder (Mac/iOS)
FeedDemon (Windows)

Google Reader is probably the easiest to acquire and setup.  It's web based, requires no installation, and all you need to access it is a Google Account. (Not a Gmail account, just a Google ID and password).  Once you've done that and navigated your way to your Google Reader home page, you simply click the large red SUBSCRIBE button at the top left of the page, and enter the feed URL we've listed above.

Most readers work this way, in that you find the SUBSCRIBE button or option, and enter the feed URL.  Once you've done that you can set wether or not you want your Reader to notify you via email every time a new post comes into your feed.

If you want to read more about RSS Readers, check out this great article @ LIfeHacker:

If you'd like to subscribe to our blog via an RSS reader, here is our feed URL:

Sadly, Aaron Swartz recently took his own life due to the immense pressure laid upon him by the federal government in a trial regarding copyright infringement. Thought I never got the change to meet Aaron, I feel very much in alignment with his ethics, morals and values and was very sad to hear that he had decided to leave us.  If you'd like to get a sense of his character, please watch this awesome video of him giving a talk about internet privacy and government control.

Alex King-Harris (aka Rara Avis)
CEO/Co-Founder Yogi Tunes

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Working with iTunes Part 1

We get a lot of questions concerning using iTunes, because let's face it - we all use it!  Or at least the vast majority of us use iTunes often coupled with an Apple mobile device such as an iPad, iPod or iPhone.

First off, let's deal with why Yogi Tunes doesn't currently offer an easy way for people to download and listen to their purchases directly on their Apple mobile device.  Apple works very hard to ensure that it's both very complicated and expensive for other music services to access their devices.  Currently, no other music service is able to automatically and permanently download music to iTunes on any device, mobile or otherwise.  Apple wants to keep it this way and is always working towards a world where they control the user experience from bumper to bumper and everything in between.

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE Apple.  I've been a user since before the internet was around, but as a small business owner trying to get music out to my beloved yogis, I must object to Apple's desire to remain in control of it's ecosystem.

For a time, PodCasting was a viable option, but the release of iOS 6 (Apple's latest mobile operating system), PodCasting must be done entirely through Apple.  If in our case, it's a paid service we're offering to our subscribers, we must give Apple 30% of our subscription revenue!

The other option for us would be to develop a mobile app that only streams and temporarily downloads music to Apple mobile devices (Spotify, Pandora, etc.).  This is an expensive option that has certain drawbacks.  Only the biggest music services have pursued this path as it's rife with issues both legal and technical.

To sum it up, we don't always get what we want.  If you own an iPad and don't own a computer, you can thank Apple for why you can't download music from us.  While there is currently no easy solution to this problem, you can rest assured that we spend a considerable amount of time, energy and creativity looking for an affordable option that will give users the experience they desire.

Alex King-Harris (aka Rara Avis)CEO/Co-Founder Yogi Tunes

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Here We Are [dub mix]

London-based Spiral System's tune "Here We Are [dub mix]" features Lottie Child, who also sings on the new Spiral System album that is called "Be" and will be released on Interchill this summer.

Want this free sonic gift, courtesy of Interchill Records?

Click here
to redeem your free download...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Free Song from Interchill Mix

Hibernation is Seb Taylor's electronic downtempo project, with a distinct sonic palate that includes stand-up bass, muted trumpet, brush drums, glitches, womps and warm subs. The hibernation sound is crucial listening.

Seb brings a lifetime of musical experience to his production, composition and arrangements, and it shows. Listening to hibernation conjures up future memories of dark smokey jazz clubs, bladerunner cityscapes, parallel universes, dreams half forgotten and epic nights.

This is music with spirit, narrative and detail.

Click to get a free download from the mix.

Friday, February 1, 2013

When I Am Silent, I Fall Into That Place Where Everything is Music

"When I am silent, I fall into that place where everything is music" - Rumi

This is for sure, one of my very favorite quotes. The breath is a conduit for movement. But it's also a conduit for consciousness. Eckhart Tolle said, "It just takes one conscious breath to justify meditation." It's what we do with that breath, that space, that silence, that offers us the greatest gift. Do we fill it up with noise? With busyness? With Facebooking and Youtube? Or can we perhaps be still and hear the beautiful sounds of silence and how our breath moves within that space. Can we bear witness to that which transpires in that seemingly fleeting moment in time of nothingness.

I am a yogini who enjoys playing music in the classes I teach. The music I play during own practice reflects exactly how I am feeling and it also has the ability to bring to me places I couldn't go without it. Why? Because music is the beat of our heart. It is the blood in our veins. It moves and breathes with us. It raises our vibration and it can bring us to the depths of our deepest emotions. It triggers memories that are new and those that are buried. It brings up stored issues in our tissues, offering us the opportunity to look at them, embrace them and release them.