TuneSpan, Clear Channel and Big Machine, Third Man Records, Brick Factory: Music in This Week's Innovations Issue

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Have you seen this week's dead-tree edition of the Scene yet? It's our fourth annual "Innovations" issue, in which we have a look at some of the most noteworthy developments that have sprung up in our area over the past 12 months. It features all sorts of interesting stories, from an Android app that helps blind students learn math to a flying drone capable of doing 3D mapping. Awesome.

But — seeing as how Music City is A-No. 1 in the "music cities" department — it's only natural that a handful of this year's innovations relate to music in one way or another:

* I contributed a bit about TuneSpan, "a Mac OS app designed to make 'spanning' — that is, storing your iTunes files across multiple external drives — easily manageable." It was developed by Pico Mitchell, and while it isn't as glamorous as, say, quantum dots (also profiled in this issue), it looks to be a bit of a life-saver for folks with loads of media to store.

* Fellow Creamster Adam Gold penned a blurb about a royalty agreement struck between FM giants Clear Channel Entertainment and country label Big Machine Records (home to Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts). According to this arrangement, Clear Channel "will pay Big Machine Records (and ostensibly its performers) royalties for the terrestrial broadcast of sound recordings — something broadcasters have never before done, and fought long and hard never to do." Looks like Clear Channel seeks to keep up with webcasters like iTunes, Pandora and Spotify. Interesting one to keep an eye on.

* We couldn't forget the ever-innovative Third Man Records, of course. With his solo debut, Blunderbuss, Jack White decided to experiment even further with unique vinyl pressing, this time releasing his "Sixteen Saltines" 12-inch single (b/w a cover of U2's "Love Is Blindness") on both a playable etching and a liquid-filled record. While both had been attempted before, a silk-screened etching in which the "single sits above the rest of the grooves" had never been done before, and "problems with leakage" prevented the liquid-filled prototype of 1978's The Black Hole soundtrack from being released.

* And finally, staffer Laura Hutson threw in a bit about both The Skillery and Brick Factory. While that piece centers on how the entities "provide hands-on, practical, step-away-from-your-computer lessons to curious folks," Brick Factory also, of course, functions as one of the newest music venues on the local scene.

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