Corporate Commissions + Their Discontents

Perhaps the bloom is off that brand rose. Back in July of last year, the band OK Go’s Damian Kulash said the following, as reported in

"As a band it’s a lot easier to work with brands and marketing agencies than record labels. Because record labels, they know what they want a band to be doing. They want a band to be making these very particular types of things. Whereas brands, generally, if you find the right relationships, they want the same things you do. What we want is maximum engagement with our fans."

One complicating factor, as OK Go has learned, is when those relationships aren’t right. As, among others, is reporting, the band is now accusing Apple of using the idea behind one of its videos:

"Speaking to Bloomberg Businessweek, OK Go manager Andy Gershon claims the band met with Apple to discuss the concept for its music video in hopes that Apple would collaborate on the project. Apple declined, and OK Go made the video along with production company 1stAveMachine. Released in June 2014, the video won a Video Music Award for best visual effects and has accrued over 10 million views on YouTube. Following the talks between Apple and OK Go, Gershon claims Apple also hired 1stAveMachine and even employed the same director that worked with OK Go on its hit music video to produce the video for the company’s iPhone launch event."

For comparison, here’s OK Go’s video:

And here’s Apple’s:

Corporate Commission: GE + Ladytron’s Reuben Wu

This goes back to late last year, when Reuben Wu of Ladytron was hired by GE to produce a short audio-visual tribute to the network of shipping containers.

Interview with Wu at

TK: The machines seem to be playing a melody.

RW: Yeah, I was able to break the sounds down into musical elements as well. I found that a lot of the sounds of the cranes moving across the yard, for example, were almost melodic. They produced hydraulic hums and vibrations, which I thought worked on a different level than the percussive sounds.

Found via

A Compact Reader of Marketplace Music Social Engineering

At The Atlantic, Joe Pinsker does a short overview of how sound influences consumers. The piece is also a small trove of links, including the DJ of Chipotle (Chris Golub), the mid-2011 end of the Nordstrom department store piano player, volume and beer consumption, and the influence of French and German music on wine purchases. The end result is a small reader of the role of social engineer that music plays in retail spaces.

Signs of Death: iPod Classic

As reported at and, the iPod Classic has not survived the recent upgrade to the Apple online store, which suggests it has been discontinued.

Given the centrality of the iPod to the logarithmic growth in Apple’s consumer product line, it’s hard to imagine it would pass without official notice, but for the moment that appears to be the case.

Oddly (see below) the classic circular “click wheel” interface remains the distinguishing factor in the icon for the iPod category on the store site:

Corporate Commission: GE + Matthew Dear

Electronic music made at the request of a corporation — Taylorism finds its natural development into a kind of sequencer.

Every machine has its own acoustic signature - a precise frequency that indicates whether that machine is operating at peak performance. GE engineers monitor and record these sounds to perform real-time diagnostics on airplane engines, locomotives, power turbines, and medical equipment. Musician Matthew Dear and GE Acoustics Engineer Andrew Gorton teamed up to collect and compose thousands of audio emissions from the world’s most powerful machines. The result is an original track of music titled “Drop Science.”

Here’s the track:

Here’s a short documentary:

Viv, Daughter — or Younger Sibling — of Siri

Steven Levy at gives a thorough overview of the people behind Viv, an new AI by the people who gave us Siri:

“Siri is chapter one of a much longer, bigger story,” says Dag Kittlaus, one of Viv’s cofounders. He should know. Before working on Viv, he helped create Siri. So did his fellow cofounders, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham.

A little room for gradated improvements would be appreciated. The story opens with a memory of how the original Siri launch was followed quickly with broad amazement at its seeming sentience, and then: “Over the next few months, however, Siri’s limitations became apparent.”

Now, describing what is essentially Siri 2.0, the article speaks of the new service’s “almost limitless capabilities.” And: “the end result will be a digital assistant who knows what you want before you ask for it,” which seems to bypass speech-to-text for something closer to telepathy. Whatever the doubtless ongoing improvements in speech recognition technology, hype is our lingua franca. And despite the big promise of the benefits of such AI, most of the examples come down to getting assistance buying things.

Still, lots of fascinating stuff here about the initial development of Siri, and how Viv builds on it.

And a fantastic visualization of Viv’s AI in action below by

More on Viv at