Olympic Swimmer Anthony Ervin On Giving Away his Gold Medal, Jack White and World Travel

Every once in a while an athlete comes along that destroys the preconceived notions of how we expect athletes to think and act. Anthony Ervin is one of them.  An Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer, Ervin once held the world record in the 50 freestyle and is also a former World Champion in the 100 freestyle. But his life outside the pool is just as interesting as his life in it. We sat down with Ervin for a quick conversation that touched on a little bit of everything. Check out Ervin’s Rhapsody playlist here and make sure to follow him @AnthonyErvin.

You auctioned off the gold medal you won in Sydney in the 50-free to help victims of the Tsunami in 2004 . That’s simply awesome.  Do you know who bought it or where it is?

Yes, I do.  Anthony Chua, a very big swim fan from the Phillipines bought the medal.

We have your playlist, clearly music plays a role in your life. What was the first album you connected with?

Tough question!  For years I was stealing my older brother’s albums and listening to them when he wasn’t home: Pixies (Bossanova), Red Hot Chili Peppers (Mother’s Milk), The Smiths and various other Brit-rock bands.  They were an immense influence on me.  The first album I ever owned was The Crow soundtrack, closely followed by Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten.’   However, when I acquired ‘Siamese Dream’ by The Smashing Pumpkins, a self-reflective musical identity began taking shape.

First Show/ Best show?

The first show I cared about came pretty late in my life.  I think it was 2002 when I saw Zwan at the Warfield theatre in San Francisco.  I wanted to because I had been a Smashing Pumpkin fan forever, but never actually got to see them live.  At the show, I encountered much more than I’d bargained for; and for the first time I felt the power of a live rock show as the music was not just heard but felt, roaring through the earth into my feet, up into my heart then head and continuing up and beyond.  I was irrevocably changed by that show.

The best show was seeing the White Stripes at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley.  Seeing Jack White rock out on a menagerie of instruments, flowing from one to another, an indomitable force of rock’n’roll intensity. That was inspiring.

I’ve since been to many great shows, but these two shows have demystified the rest.

Swimming has taken you all over the world, any places or cultures that you’ve particularly enjoyed?

True, swimming has taken me all over the world, but by far the best part of globe-trotting is seeing the international friends I’ve made who once lived in the USA and have since returned to their origins.  These friends make the place.  In a cultural sense, since I studied English as an undergraduate, I’ve always enjoyed being in London.  As well, I’ve always had a fondness for Japanese history and culture – roots that took hold, I believe, with imported cartoons when I was a child – so I’ve always relished opportunities to go to and return to Tokyo, Japan.  I really hope Tokyo wins the bid for the 2020 Olympic Games!

You’re standing on the podium in Sydney for the medal ceremony, but the sound guy had a few too many Fosters and can’t find the Star Bangled Banner – In its stead, what song would you have them play and why?

Shit question!  I’d start belting it myself!

Anthony.Ervin.by.Lewis-13-Edit-(ZF-0118-61352-1-001) (1)You stopped swimming competitively in 2003 and started again in 2011, qualifying for the 2012 games in the 50 free. That’s quite a layoff, how did you find “it” again? Or did “it” find you? 

I enjoy the dual-phrasing of that question, and I can say it’s both. For a variety of reasons I stopped swimming, though the one to mention here is that I’d lost the passion. When I lived in NYC I worked as a swim instructor for the Imagine School of Swimming, teaching kids to swim. I saw these kids evolve from, at times, an absolute fear of the water to instead, pure play. This brought back to me the joy in swimming, something I had long ago forgotten through all the years of hunger in competition and sacrifice for that end. I decided to return to university in Berkeley, Ca to finish my bachelor’s and then went straight into a Master’s program where I found myself back in the water just for the enjoyment.

What was the biggest change from 2003 to 2011?

How the maturity and advancement of my own mind made my work ethic, attitude, and purpose in swimming completely different from how I remember being.  When younger this immaturity, without necessarily realizing it, also contributed to my being somewhat conservative, not necessarily from zealous belief, but from a sheltered lack of experience.  During my time away from the sport my passion was music and I evolved a liberal open-mindedness to others and the world, a re-coloring of how I view the swimming world as well.  One of many gifts music and the pursuit of being an artist has given me.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, we’ll certainly be rooting for you. What’s up next for Anthony Ervin? (feel free to answer the third person)

No problem!  For now, Anthony will continue swimming, working at getting stronger, faster, and becoming one with the water.

Rocking While Rolling: Rhapsody Coming to BMW Apps

Today, Rhapsody and BMW are announcing a partnership that will pair the premium on-demand music service with one of the world’s premium automotive brands. Rhapsody will soon be available on BMW apps.

BMW Apps Rhapsody

 The Rhapsody iPhone app will be fully integrated into the BMW Apps system, meaning users will be able to not only use the vehicle controls to find and listen to their favorite tracks, but also navigate Rhapsody’s music discovery tools, which have been adapted for an in-car experience that’s safe, useful and engaging.

For a full press release, click here

The Hush Sound Debuts Scavengers on Rhapsody!

First-Listen-HushSoundThe Hush Sound have been quiet for the past five years. Finally, their silence has been broken, and those delicious poppy tunes we love are back. Rhapsody is lucky enough to debut “Scavengers” today, excessively to Rhapsody listeners.

We love the new tune and are excited to hear the rest of the tracks from the album, which the band is releasing one at a time. The band is getting ready to hit the road–tour dates follow.

The Hush Sound tour 2013

May 14—Webster Hall—New York, New York
May 15—Theatre Of The Living Arts—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
May 16—Royale—Boston, Massachusetts
May 17—9:30 Club—Washington, DC
May 18—Amos Southend—Charlotte, North Carolina
May 19—The Loft—Atlanta, Georgia
May 21—The Social—Orlando, Florida
May 22—Culture Room—Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
May 23—The State Theatre—St. Petersburg, Florida
May 25—Trees—Dallas, Texas
May 26—Fitzgerald’s—Houston, Texas
May 27—The Parish—Austin, Texas
May 29—Firebird—St. Louis, Missouri
May 30—Blue Note—Columbia, Missouri
June 1—Mill City Nights—Minneapolis, Minnesota
June 2—The Rave—Milwaukee, Wisconsin
June 4—Metro—Chicago, Illinois
June 5—A&R Music Bar—Columbus, Ohio
June 6—Altar Bar—Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
June 8—Grog Shop—Cleveland, Ohio

Jon Irwin Guest Posts on WSJ Accelerators Blog

acceleratorsRhapsody’s president was asked to be a guest mentor on Accelerators,  the Wall Street Journal’s blog for entrepreneurs, where he talks about tearing down paywalls to get consumers to love your app enough to pay for it. Instead of annoying customers just enough to make them pay, he advocates for delivering real value every step of the way–and building bridges to premium content.

Read the post here.

Rhapsody Set to Rock Austin with Performances from the Walkmen, Foxygen, inc., In the Valley Below, NOBUNNY and DJ sets by True Panther

Rhapsody today announced the lineup for its Rhapsody Rocks Austin (RRA) unofficial SXSW day party, with live sets from some of this year’s most talked-about artists. The Walkmen, making their only appearance during SXSW week, will headline fresh off a North American tour that made them one of the most talked about acts of the last year. Rhapsody will rock Austin at the Club DeVille on March 15—doors open at noon.

RRAThe Walkmen are joined in the RRA lineup by Foxygen, the LA-bred song writing duo of Sam France and Jonathan Rado, who create a sometimes impressionistic, sometimes-hyper-real portrait of sounds from specific places and times that never comes across as anything but absolutely modern. Their albums have accurately been described as “Love letters to vinyl collections.” Rhapsody Rocks Austin will also feature inc., In The Valley Below, NOBUNNY, and DJ sets by True Panther.

“Seven albums in, the Walkmen are among the elder statesmen of indie rock,” said Garrett Kamps, senior director, content programming, Rhapsody.  “We fully expect them to show these young whipper-snappers how its done, which will be no small feat as our line-up of whipper-snappers rules: Foxygen, inc., In the Valley Below, NOBUNNY, DJ True Panther — I just grew chest hair saying all those band names one after the other.”

 Rhapsody Rocks Austin

Who: The Walkmen, Foxygen, inc., In The Valley Below, NOBUNNY, plus DJ sets by DJ True Panther

What: Rhapsody Rocks Austin 2013

Where: @ Club Deville, 900 Red River, Austin

When: Doors at12:00 noon.

How: Event is free, but you need to RSVP here. Check out Rhapsody’s facebook page and @Rhapsody on Twitter for details

It’s All About the Music (and the Money)

Separate from the concert event, Rhapsody will also be hosting a panel on a topic near and dear to many SXSW attendees and performers – streaming music and artist reimbursement. Titled ‘Streaming Music: A River of Cash or up the Creek,’ the panel will bring together perspectives from all sides of the issue to examine what roles streaming music services can play for artists today and in the future. Additional information about the panel available here, but make plans to be at the Austin Convention Center, room 18d at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 15. It promises to be an honest and sober(ish) discussion on a very important topic.

Panel- Streaming Music: A River of Cash or up the Creek

Who: Simon Wheeler, Dir. of Digital, Beggars Group

Richard Jones, Owner, Key Music Management Ltd.

Jon Maples, product and design, Rhapsody

Emily White, Co-Founder, Whitesmith Entertainment/ Readymade Records

What: Panel discussion examining the value to be derived from streaming music services

Where: Austin Convention Center, room 18D (500 E Cesar Chavez St)

When: 5:00 – 6:00pm Friday, March 15

How: Credentials with access: music badge, platinum badge, artist wristband

Veronica Belmont talks Game of Thrones, Show tunes and Mr Little Jeans

Veronica Belmont, host of Revision 3’s Tekzilla is, in no particular order, an unabashed geek, a polished karaoke power balladeer, and a pretty rad chick. As an authority on all things gaming we asked Veronica to share a list of her favorite tunes from video game soundtracks. Check it out here. She was also kind enough to answer a few questions–enjoy!

VBWe have a list of your favorite tracks from video game soundtracks (above). I’m wondering, as the gaming experience becomes more immersive, what role do you think music plays in game design and experience?

Music is a huge part of the gameplay experience, for several reasons. Most importantly, to me at least, is that it creates another layer of immersion to a game. If I’m walking though a nightclub, like in Mass Effect 3 for example, it makes sense that I would hear the appropriate kind of music in the background. But it can also work as an ambient layer to help set a mood or a tone for a section of gameplay. I like it when certain areas of a game have a very specific soundtrack that I can identify that zone with.

We won’t ask you to name your favorite game on each console, instead we’ll play some word association. Which title comes to mind first (and maybe a brief explanation), when you think of:

NES – A Boy and His Blob

 • SNES – I have the power! (super power!)

 • Genesis – Chris down the street, who had one

Nintendo 64 – Donkey Kong 64, which was amazing

 • Playstation – Never had one, waited until the 2

Game cube – Ocarina of Time

 • ColecoVision – my mom (she worked for Coleco)

In a piece you wrote for Engadget you mentioned that being a “geek” really just means that you’re more obsessed than the average person with any particular subject. Does your “geekiness” extend to music? If so, what was the first album that you really connected with?

Probably more back in high school and college than it does now, unfortunately! I was obsessed with the local music scene in Boston, and went to shows all the time. I even had a radio show at my college station. But it’s hard for me to keep up on all the cool new stuff nowadays. I get most of my music from my husband or from listening to the XM stations in my car (yes, radio is still a thing!).

What was your first live show? Best live show?

My first big concert was the WMRQ Backyard BBQ. It was our local radio station’s big summer concert, and The Offspring were headlining. I was only there because I was interning at the radio station!

My best live show… oh boy, that’s tough. Probably Sunny Day Real Estate. It was their reunion show, and it was only like a year or two ago here in San Francisco. I had never been able to see them live as a kid, so it blew my mind. They were just as good as ever. Plus, everyone there was like 35-40 years old. It was amazing.

VB2Your cat, Mr. Littlejeans, has a decent social following himself, does he have any musical leanings?

No, he’s a cat. Silly. Though, don’t ask him about the band Mr. Little Jeans, he finds it very annoying.

You also host Sword & Laser, a science fiction and fantasy show. Game of Thrones has become a bit of a cultural phenomenon and you had George Martin, the author whose work the series is based on, as a guest on the show. What’s he like? 

He was awesome! We were a little worried that maybe he was going to be a tough interview… you know, he does so many of these things, he’s probably sick to death of talking to people. But we were able to talk to him about things he likes, like The Avengers, and he just totally opened up.

On a related note – you’re sent the Wall to the take the black, what one album are you taking with you? 

The Smashing Pumpkins  – Siamese Dream. But please do not talk to me about the Smashing Pumpkins post-1995.

So, sure you a natural on camera, but when the bright lights are really on at your favorite Karaoke spot, what songs are you going with? Do you practice?

I do show tunes. Phantom of the Opera (my speciality), Grease, etc. I also like the tried-and-true 80’s power ballads, like Bon Jovi (Livin’ on a Prayer), Meatloaf, and Bonnie Tyler. I practice insofar that I do karaoke a lot.

You’re a busy women, between your hosting duties on Revision 3, the speaking circuit, podcasting, writing, gaming, prolifically tweeting What’s up next for you?

We’re working on a S&L book anthology, which we’re accepting submissions for in March! I’ve also got a TV pilot airing in March as well, so stay tuned for that!

Veronica tweets! Often! Follow her: @veronica

Playing SXSW? Send us your muzak so we can blast it to millions!

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Every year Rhapsody’s editorial team heads to SXSW in Austin, TX to report back on all the potentially kick-ass musicians playing out there. We record interviews and stripped down acoustic sets with some of the kick-assiest. Previous years have included Macklemore, Passion Pit2 Chainz & Talib Kweli. This year we want to make sure we hear as many musicians as possible, so we can feature the best and make sure other people hear their sweet, sweet muzak, too.

If you’re playing at SXSW or are representing someone who is, send us a song that represents your band’s sound – we’ll feature our most beloved submission in a two-song, stripped down acoustic set and tell everyone we know about how smashing they are.

So, here’s the deal:

  • Email your one song (we’ll only consider one, so make it your most beloved) to: rra-songs@rhapsody.com
  • Make sure to include the artist/band name, title of the song, and contact info in your submission.
  • Get ‘er done by: 11PM PST, March 4th, 2013
  • Your band has to actually be in Austin, TX for SXSW and must be available to perform the acoustic set on March 14th at 3PM CST. For real.
We can’t wait to hear from you, check us out on Facebook, TwitterYouTube & Instagram (shameless plug) for SXSW updates!

Rhapsody’s Windows Phone app gets an offline facelift…and more!

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Windows phone owners rejoice!  We’ve been working on some improvements and added features to give you an even better music experience while you’re on the go. If you have a Windows phone download the app (or update) today.

Offline Playback

Taking your music with you got a whole lot easier.  Now you can download albums, songs and playlists to your phone and listen even when you don’t have a connection. Your next commute, plane trip or subway ride just got a bit more melodic.

Music Library

We revamped your music library (My Music) so you can easily add or remove tracks and albums, and even add music while it’s playing. You’ll find the same collection of music in your library whether you are accessing on the web, on a home audio device or your Windows phone.

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We also added in better functionality to genres, so you can explore those in depth with stations, new releases and top tracks.

Plus there are some behind the scenes improvements you may notice with search, enhanced visual display of Rhapsody radio stations and more album images.

We also want to thank all our beta testers who provided some fantastic feedback while playing with the new app. They were excited and impressed, so we hope you are too.

Rhapsody 4.0 for Android, it’s alive!

Chief Android Mechanic

Chief Android Mechanic

What’s up to our Rhapsody Android fans!

It’s a new year (fine, yes, it’s February) and what better way to kick it off than by announcing the 4.0 release of our Rhapsody Android app! This release is killer, featuring complete rewrites of our player, queue, Bluetooth handling and audio focus, a new screen for artist tracks in your library, queue reorder, playlist editing, and WOW we’re so ready for you to have it. I can’t even tell you how stoked we are to put this in your hands. Really. So much of what we’re pushing out today is all about your requests. Let’s do this…

 

Order! Order please!

In the 3.0 release we removed the ability to reorder your queue. Honestly, it was so clunky, tedious, and painful to use we thought nobody would suffer through it. Well, we were mistaken. We heard from many of you that you really wanted this functionality back. But we couldn’t just put it back the way it was, no way. We had to do better – so we rewrote it. Today you can now edit your queue with a great drag and drop interface. By the way, we enabled this for your playlists, too. From the queue you can either tap your hardware menu button (or if you’re on a newer device, the overflow menu in the Action Bar – that’s the three dots on the right side at the top of the screen) and choose “Edit queue.” On a playlist just tap the plus button and choose “Edit playlist.” Enjoy!

Queue it up
Since we rewrote the queue, we took more of your feedback to heart and we also removed the queue limit, something more than a couple of you found frustrating. You’re no longer capped to 800 songs in your queue at a time.

Lock it up
Carrying on with the theme of customer feature requests, another feature you’ve been asking for is lock screen controls. If you’re on Android 4.0 or greater, you’ve got ’em, even if your OS is skinned, i.e. HTC Sense, Motoblur, Samsung Touchwiz, and so on.

Play nice
Often times, the best improvements are the ones you don’t notice, and we’d really just like you to enjoy your playback experience. It wasn’t easy to hear, but we know that playback wasn’t always awesome for some customers. We’ve made changes along the way and things got better for a lot of folks, but some issues just persisted. We knew it was time to address this because you can’t rock if it doesn’t roll.

We’re so excited to announce that we have completely rewritten our player from the back to the front. It’s kind of funny, this is the biggest thing we’ve done in this release but it can be summed up as “playback just works.” With Rhapsody 4.0 you should now experience less delay starting playback, drastically fewer stalls and skips, and in general it is just way more stable.

Speaking of playing music, don’t forget that Rhapsody also integrates with Ford Sync so you can have your music at your fingertips in your car!

Encore
Some things you may have missed from our last few 3.x releases…
– Swipe in Now Playing to go to the next or previous track
– Shuffle and Repeat, up front and center on Now Playing (moved from Settings)
– Replay: what you listened to when you listened to it

Preview
Over the next couple of releases we’ll bring you:
– Killer music articles written by our editorial team
– Performance improvements to the rest of the app
– UI refresh
– More customer feature requests
– Surprises 🙂

Beta programs
This year our goal is to run beta releases as often as we can to get new features out in the field before a general public release. If you want early access to the newest features, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Get Satisfaction and keep an eye out for calls for beta testers.

And speaking of betas…

Shout outs
My team and I want to extend our gratitude to the 100+ customers who participated in our open beta of the 4.0 release. Over 4 weeks you tested, used, abused, poked, prodded, stressed, and blended* not one but two drops from us. You sent us feedback, bug reports, and of course, even more feature requests** and put up with a lot of back and forth with us as we worked through it all. For this, we thank you.

*=ok, maybe not blended.
**=we’ll get to them!

We want to hear from you!
If you experience problems, let us know. Go to Settings in the Rhapsody app and tap on the feedback link. You’ll be able to send us email directly. Yes, us, the Android Team. If you’re reporting a problem, the more information you can provide, the better.

If you’re feeling social, you can follow me on G+ or Twitter and I’ll post updates and info as frequently as I can.

Rock on,
R(k)

Chief Android Mechanic
https://plus.google.com/u/0/102121089362394168005/posts
@RhapsodyAndroid

Lifestylers — Paging Dr. Laura: It’s Almost Valentine’s Day!

Love is in the air. Or it soon will be with Valentine’s Day just a few days away, so we set out to find amore advice from renowned sex and relationship expert Dr. Laura Berman.  Her show, In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura, can be seen on the Oprah Winfrey Network and she’s also a regular on The Dr. Oz Show. Since everyone can use a tip or two about romance, we dove straight in.

Dr  Laura Berman headshotDo you celebrate Valentine’s Dr. Laura? How?

My husband usually comes up with something special. We do a regular weekly date night so we try to stay creative and think outside the box.

What’s your top tip for romance–be it married, serious dating or just starting out?

You have to make it a priority. People think romance just “happens” but you have to make an effort and be the change you want to see in your relationship.

Valentine’s Day is a few days away. How can I create a special evening?

Try to think of something you wouldn’t normally do. Dinner and a movie can get old, but what about an exciting activity like rock climbing or a trapeze class? Exciting activities such as this can make your heart race and release dopamaine and adrenaline in your body, and this mimics those feelings of butterflies and excitement you had when you first started dating your partner.

Any advice for those new in a relationship?

Think small and sweet. Don’t go overboard or feel like you have to buy a big expensive gift. Something thoughtful and unique will be more appropriate, and it will also show your new partner that you care about their interests and hobbies.

How can music add to a romantic evening?

Music can definitely be a sensual part of a big night out, whether you like classical or rock. All of our senses play a role in creating the experience, and music can help to raise our excitement and add to the mood.

What songs do you think help set the right mood? 

It depends on the couple! Some people love the old stand-bys like Al Green or Billie Holliday, but other people love Metallica or Jay-Z. Whatever makes you happy–or makes you want to dance–should fit the bill.

What songs are on your all-time list of most romantic?

At Last, Etta James

Our Love is Here to Stay, Ella Fitzgerald

As Time Goes By, Frank Sinatra

Fever, Peggy Lee

It Had to Be You, Harry Connick Jr

Your Song, Elton John

Always on My Mind, Willie Nelson

Saving all My Love for You, Whitney Houston

Wonderful Tonight, Eric Clapton

When you Say Nothing at All, Alison Kraus

Play Dr. Laura’s Rhapsody playlist here.