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

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

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.

Stream Rhapsody on your Roku

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Rhapsody is announcing today that it will soon be available on Roku. The leading premium on-demand music service has teamed with the market leader in streaming entertainment devices for the TV. The result? Naturally, it rocks.

Roku is the latest device in the living room to receive Rhapsody connectivity. In the last several months, Rhapsody has also added Xbox and most major SmartTV manufacturers.

Like all Rhapsody platforms, the Roku channel will allow users to lean forward, accessing Rhapsody’s entire catalogue of more than 16 million songs, to search for and play songs, albums and artists. Or lean back, enjoying playlists and preprogrammed genre and artist radio stations.

Rhapsody Hits the Road with Ford SYNC AppLink

Rhapsody and Ford today announce at International CES that the leading premium on-demand music service is now available in Ford and Lincoln vehicles with SYNC® AppLink. Rhapsody listeners with SYNC-enabled cars and trucks can use voice commands and radio buttons on the steering wheel to control the Rhapsody app on their smartphones, making it safe and easy to rock out on the road.

ImageThis marks Rhapsody’s first full automotive integration, and a major step forward in the company’s strategy to bring the popular service to the places where listeners spend the most time playing music: in the car and in the living room.

“Everybody loves to listen to music in the car, so making it as convenient as possible for people to enjoy Rhapsody while driving has been a high priority for us,” said Jon Irwin, president, Rhapsody. “We were pleased to work with Ford on this innovative integration. Now our customers have their favorite music within arm’s reach in their cars.”

Rhapsody members are increasingly taking their music on the road. In a recent survey of more than 1,000 Rhapsody members, 40 percent said they listened to Rhapsody in the car, more than any other form of audio entertainment (only 13 percent listen to the radio).

How Rhapsody members use audio entertainment in the car
Streaming Rhapsody (via mobile device) 40%
Playlists (downloaded from Rhapsody or on phone or MP3 player) 22%
Radio 13%
Podcasts 9%
Audiobooks 6%
Source: Survey of Rhapsody members, n=1,396

Actual behavioral data from Rhapsody’s 1 million-plus base shine more light on members’ mobile inclinations. Fifty-one percent of all tracks played on the service this past year were from a mobile device, up from 27 percent in 2011. In addition, 56 percent of Rhapsody members listen on a mobile device, up from 38 percent the year prior, with 42 percent of all members using mobile exclusively for the service.

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The beauty of SYNC AppLink is that it works seamlessly with the Rhapsody smartphone app. When Rhapsody is launched on a smartphone while in a SYNC-enabled car, it will connect wirelessly via Bluetooth® to the vehicle’s audio system for hands-free listening.

SYNC AppLink is available on more than 1 million vehicles; it is available on 2013 Fiesta, Mustang, Expedition, Fusion, F-150, Super Duty, Focus, E-Series and C-MAX.

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 172,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.

About Rhapsody
The Rhapsody® digital music service (www.rhapsody.com) gives subscribers unlimited on-demand access to more than 16 million songs, whether they’re listening on a PC, laptop, Internet connected home stereo or TV, MP3 player or mobile phone. Rhapsody allows subscribers to access their music through mobile phones from Verizon Wireless, AT&T and MetroPCS, through Rhapsody applications on the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, RIM BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7 and Android mobile platforms as well as through devices from Vizio, SanDisk, HP, Sonos and Philips. Rhapsody is headquartered in Seattle, with offices in Frankfurt,London, Luxemburg, New York and San Francisco. Rhapsody, and the Rhapsody logo are registered trademarks of Rhapsody International Inc. Follow @Rhapsody on Twitter and keep up with the latest on the Rhapsody Facebook page.

 

Rhapsody Brings Music Discovery to Life with Latest Android App

SEATTLE—November 6, 2012—Subscription music services have never been sexier than Rhapsody’s new Android app. But don’t let the stunning visual interface fool you—this is an app that combines beauty and brains by surfacing personalized recommendations and suggests music based on time and day—a first among on-demand music services.

“It’s never been easier to discover the right song at the right moment,” said Paul Springer, senior vice president, worldwide product and design, Rhapsody.  “Our customers want their music within arms reach and the ability to download or play instantly with the push of a button. Our latest Android app delivers that experience and more.”

Rhapsody also announced the Beta launch of Rhapsody Replay. Replay is a new concierge feature that will appear on the home screen after learning your listening patterns. It provides personalized and easy access to familiar music based on the time and day.

“Our customers told us that in addition to discovering new music, they enjoy listening to familiar favorites,” observed Springer. “We also know that they listen to different music throughout the day—what they listen to on their motivating morning drive or run is not what they listen to while making dinner or relaxing in the evening. So, we built that intelligence into the app—which gets smarter the more you listen.”

In addition to Replay, the latest update includes a new home screen that showcases new releases as well as playlists and content curated by Rhapsody’s editorial staff. Fresh updates have been made to the player, which now includes full-screen album art and swipe-to-skip functionality, as well as quicker access to shuffle and repeat.  Under the hood is the fastest ever version of the Rhapsody Android experience, with easier access to radio and improved offline playback and downloads.  The app is available and free to download in all major Android app stores.

About Rhapsody

The Rhapsody® digital music service (www.rhapsody.com) gives subscribers unlimited on-demand access to more than 16 million songs, whether they’re listening on a PC, laptop, Internet connected home stereo or TV, MP3 player or mobile phone. Rhapsody allows subscribers to access their music through mobile phones from Verizon Wireless and MetroPCS, through Rhapsody applications on the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, RIM BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7 and Android mobile platforms as well as through devices from Vizio, SanDisk, HP, Sonos and Philips.  Rhapsody is headquartered in Seattle, with offices in Frankfurt, London, Luxemburg, New York and San Francisco. Rhapsody, and the Rhapsody logo are registered trademarks of Rhapsody International Inc.  Follow @Rhapsody on Twitter and keep up with the latest on the Rhapsody Facebook page.

Lifestylers: Gabby Reece on Volleyball, Fitness and Music

Volleyball star, model, fitness guru, actress, mother, and wife – Gabby Reece wears a lot of hats, and she wears them all with flair and style that have endeared her to many, including her husband, big wave surfer Laird Hamilton. We sat down with Gabby to talk about fitness, being a mom, and of course, music.

To listen to Gabby’s playlist, click here.

Q: Let’s start with the important stuff – are you really part of the “Malibu Mob” or guilty by location?

A: We are always all looking for an identification – so the boys loosely created a club that I have somehow been thrown into – lucky me.

Q: Any similarities between being an elite athlete and a mom?

A: You need a lot of endurance.

Q: We’re going to put you on that hot seat. You have to pick one partner to play with — Misty May Treanor or Keri Walsh Jennings. Who would you choose?

A: Misty because I am a tall player and she is probably the best person in the world to play behind a block. One would be fortunate to play with either.

Q: You have a new book coming out in 2013, anything you can share with us in advance?

A: The title is My Foot’s Too Big for the Glass Slipper and I basically give away all of Laird’s dirty secrets – No, seriously, it’s my observation of relationships, taking care of yourself, aging, sex, raising children…the basics.

Q: You grew up on the Virgin Islands. Curious what kind of music were you listening to?

A: Reggae, and occasionally Calypso

Q: What was the first album/ artist you connected with?

A: The BeeGees

Q: What was the first live show you attended? Favorite live show?

A: Van Morrison / U2 with Eddie Vedder

Q: Fitness and living an active lifestyle is obviously a huge part of your family. What role does music play in that?

A: Huge – it’s the motivation most days to get moving and it’s the sound track instead of my heavy breathing –the music I train to is very different then the music I listen to…

Q: Music can also be a family experience. If you were packing up the whole gang for a road trip, what would the soundtrack be?

A:  Almost Famous

We also had a chance to chat with Gabby’s Husband, Laird Hamilton, so stay tuned for that. For more, you can also check out their website gabbyandlaird.com

An Android Update to Make Any iPhone Jealous

Howdy!

My name is Randy and I am the lead engineer for the Android team here at Rhapsody.

I wanted to take a few moments and let you know what the Android team has been up to.

The big feature that we’re announcing today is the release of the long-awaited ability to download individual albums and tracks. (Woot!) This is the number two feature request that we get from customers and we’re excited to finally hand it over to everyone.

But wait, you might say, that’s big and it’s number two?! What’s number one?

Glad you asked. 🙂

The number one requested feature is the ability for you to decide where you want your music downloaded to. There are a number of devices out there with both an internal, fixed SD card as well as a removable SD card. Boring technical details aside, the Rhapsody app was using the internal fixed SD card.

No longer.

Today we are also happy to announce that along with the ability to download those albums and tracks, you advanced users will be able to decide where to put them! We looked at what we could do quickly as we wrapped up on the album and track download work to fulfill this request, so you may find it a little sparse, but we’ll work to make it more robust.

So what else…

Oh!

You may have missed it, but the very last update of 2.2.4 included a performance tweak that speeds up playback times by 30%. This is of course in 3.0.1 as well. It’s kind of a big deal, and it’s something worked on across the company. We’re just the first to get it out. 😉

If that’s not enough for you, other things I can share with you that we are working on include:
– a complete rewrite of the player
– lock screen controls (and better Bluetooth controls)
– more performance increases
– lots and lots of fun stuff

Download the new app here!

I’m extremely proud of my team and the work they’ve accomplished here. We’re all stoked to bring you more updates, more improvements, and deliver new features (including requests from you, our customers).

Speaking of requests…

If you open the app and go to the Settings screen, you’ll find a handy little item at the bottom called “Feedback” you can use to send us your requests or let us know what you like, don’t like, and so on. We’ve heard from a lot of you already and we’ve already begun incorporating some suggestions and looking into issues you’ve reported. Thanks for that!

Head on over to our Get Satisfaction forum to read the full announcement for the 3.0.1 release. http://forum.rhapsody.com/rhapsody

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)

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