Friday 15 December 2017

McCartney's in the clouds

Niall Byrne

It may have taken until 2009 for music from The Beatles to appear on iTunes, but it seems Paul McCartney is wasting no time in catching up with the latest hot technology. The 69-year-old musician is embracing the cloud.

Hewlett Packard have announced that they will be digitising McCartney's entire musical library. More than one million items including tracks, sound clips, photos, reviews, live performances, experiments and other assorted ephemera from his basement studio will be uploaded to a cloud-based library that can be digitally accessed from anywhere.

A digital archive is a big leap away from the old technology he was accustomed to using. One process for remastering and remixing old tapes involves baking the tape to remove oxide. "That amazed me when I heard that one. We've actually got to bake my old tapes before we can play them? It's a bit like the steam engine, you know. A bit old-fashioned," McCartney told in an interview (

The digitising of McCartney's archive means a life's work that could have languished in the darkness of a basement is now open to possibilities for thousands of fans to experience in future as well as guaranteeing the preservation of McCartney's musical legacy.

The latest phenomenon has also taken the music experience to a virtual space. Not only can you blog about music, tweet about it, like a song on Facebook or watch it on web streams, but now you can participate in a virtual DJ set or musical chatroom.

Two new services have sprung up of late, and Turntable.FM. The latter is the best. Log in via Facebook and you can browse the musical rooms or create your own. You are represented with an avatar in a virtual venue. You can choose to listen in on what's being played by up to five DJs on the virtual dancefloor or join in yourself.

If you choose to play music, you can upload your own songs to play or choose from an existing library.

It all adds up to a fun and collaborative music-sharing environment where you can broadcast your musical tastes to friends and strangers, chat about songs or shoot the breeze. It's a novel way to listen to music and of getting somebody human to programme or curate your musical playlist for the day rather than relying on your own brain or computer algorithms. If you like a track, you can buy the song on iTunes or add it to Spotify and Last.FM too.

It's addictive and, for that reason, Turntable.FM has the potential to be the next big digital music experience.

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