New Year's Predictions 2019

2018 was an alright year. It might not have been a spectacular year, but I think 2016 did an excellent job of lowering our expectations. I didn't have to eulogize David Bowie in 2018, so I'm counting it as a win.

For me personally it was a roller coaster... if there was a roller coaster where halfway through the ride Apple comes along to punch you in the dick. I seriously spent most of the year working on the new AppKaiju site, only to learn halfway through that all of my work was never going to pay off. And oh, yeah, discchord was also in jeopardy of becoming financially unsustainable.

At my lowest point in 2018 the community truly stepped up to help me keep this site alive. Thank you so much to every single person who has helped support the site! I am so deeply grateful. You empower me to continue to do what I love here, instead of moving on to some corporate gig. I'm not even sure I'd fit in, in a corporate environment anymore. I've been self-employed since my mid-20's. I'd probably seem feral in an office setting.

Before we look into the future to predict what 2019 holds, let's look back at our predictions for 2018.

Successful Predictions

Ion677 expected more goodies from Bram Bos in 2018 and was not disappointed, with Perforator and Kosmonaut both releasing in 2018.

Dendy successfully predicted a mobile Reason, though he probably feels that Reason Compact is a bit of a fail.

Enkerli took a shotgun approach to his predictions, missing on nearly all of them, but he hit a good one with "Devs will continue to push for subscription models. One of them might succeed." BLEASS has been trying very hard to be that first successful subscription music app, with amusing videos, and community engagement.

Jim Hanks made the most accurate NanoStudio 2 prediction ever. People have been making NanoStudio 2 predictions since I started doing these, but they've all fallen into the failed column. Jim expected we'd see NanoStudio finally release in 2018, and further predicted that it wouldn't have audio tracks by year's end.

Red Sky Lullaby successfully predicted that Bitcoin was going to lose a lot of people a lot of money in 2018. The crypo collapse has been so significant that Todd Smith, an ardent crypto enthusiast, changed his YouTube name from Blockchain Music to Todd Smith Music. I don't even want to know how much he lost this year.

Failed Predictions

Red Sky Lullaby was also trying to keep hope alive for a 2018 Samplr update, but the app remains untouched since 2014 so he gets a fail too. That's two years in a row on this one!

Erik thought I might finally buy a Mac in 2018. He was, and will continue to be, wrong about that. I'm not making that much money from the site that I can go blowing money on a Mac. I did get a new computer in 2018, but it was a self-built PC for about a third of the price of a similarly spec'd Mac.

Erik and TBIRD both thought we might see Ableton iOS, but Ableton remains puzzlingly absent.

Heretik7 got a whole lot of things wrong, including BM3 on iPhone; which was a common theme.

A bunch of folks were expecting Apple to release some of their Pro music apps on iOS, but Apple failed to deliver. Mainstage was mentioned a lot. While Apple didn't bring us Mainstage in 2018, we did get Camelot Pro.

What's Coming in 2019?

One of the most common predictions last year was that Apple would completely collapse, as they have in the past without Steve. They instead became a Trillion Dollar company, but along the way they've made a lot of decisions that have left people perplexed or flat-out angry.

This might be the opportunity Android needs to finally become a competitive alternative for music makers. In late 2018 Android got a low latency audio driver, and Audioroute as an Audiobus equivalent.

My 2019 prediction is once again the vain hope that Android Music Apps will finally be a thing!

Open Mic: New Year's Predictions for 2019!

In the comments here please share your predictions for what we'll see in 2019!

Let's Play with Zero Input Mixing

In the last three Let's Plays, I played around in the granular apps released this year. It occurred to me that it might also be helpful to do a video on how to quickly develop a lot of rich textures for use in them. For that I like to turn to Zero Input Mixing as a fun creative exercise in sound design. I let my freak flag fly on this one!

Video Description:

Apps like Audiobus and AUM have made effects apps a mainstay of iOS music production for years. Let's make some fun textures for our granular synths, using just effects apps and no input!

If you've enjoyed this series please consider supporting it by becoming a Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/discchord If you'd prefer to help on a monthly basis, instead of per video, there is a monthly Patreon campaign: https://www.patreon.com/discchord_com (Patrons of both campaigns get the same benefits, including Ad Free viewing on the site!)

New Web Server is Live!

The site swapped to entirely new servers last night! There were some issues, but I've been able to fix them as I find them. Big thanks to pantsofdeath for being my beta tester and alerting me to a big bug. Most people will hit errors and not report them. I'm begging you: Please report any bugs you find! Don't assume I know about it. As of right now I am aware of no bugs on the site. Seriously, please tell me if you find one!

Throughout its life discchord has resided on several hosting platforms. Initially it was just a simple Squarespace v5 blog. When I decided to write my own CMS this meant I had to get proper hosting, but I was pretty spoiled by Squarespace's reliability. I thought I'd find similar reliability on the mighty Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform, especially for the price. I was mistaken. I got a very good deal on the web hosting from PythonAnywhere (a Managed AWS web host), but the database hosting from mLab (a Managed AWS database host) that went with it was quite expensive and not at all reliable. This site has a very large database of comments, articles, apps. It's not quite "Big Data" but it's hefty, and growing.

I'm just about to launch AppKaiju, my AppShopper killer. During its development I needed an even larger database that would include all of the apps on the App Store. mLab was going to charge me a kidney for a database of that size, so I decided to set out on my own. This turns out to have been a great move. I migrated discchord's database on to the new server cluster, along with AppKaiju's insane database size, and still have plenty of space left to grow. That was 7 months ago. It has been much more reliable than mLab/AWS!

For the last few weeks I've noticed some performance issues on the discchord webserver in the morning while I'm trying to write articles. This is simply you guys coming here because you know the schedule and you're coming to see what's new. There are a lot of you, so that was beginning to overwhelm the PythonAnywhere (AWS) server. I had two options: ask you all to stop coming to the site because you're slowing it down, or upgrade the server. Yesterday I went with the latter.

And the new site is so fast! Holy shit! Go click around and see how fast it loads! This new server is running a faster processor from the one I had at PythonAnywhere, and it is in the same room as the DB cluster. I'm so excited! discchord is my baby. Right now my baby is very healthy and I'm 100% responsible for its care. No more managed hosting or middlemen. I am solely responsible for maintaining all the servers that run the site. This is incredible to me, because 4 years ago I couldn't do any of this. I couldn't write backend, I knew nothing about databases, and I definitely wouldn't know the first thing about running a cluster of Linux servers.

Now I'm a full-fledged DevOp. As with music making, it was simply a matter of dedicating the time to practice.

discchord v3.3: I fixed it this time, guys!

I haven't released an official major update to the site in a year. In fact, and completely by coincidence, the last major update was exactly one year ago tomorrow. I've been preoccupied with my other coding projects, but that does not mean that I've been neglecting discchord. I've learned a lot from the other projects, and I've been applying what I learn here.

This 3.3 update to the site includes a lot of fixes that I've been slowly trickling into the code base, along with a number of performance improvements. Some of these fixes include some boneheaded mistakes on my part. I had to unban over 50 IPs today because I found my anti-hacking code was being a bit agro if you approached the login page at a weird angle.

There are also some substantive changes I wanted to get done ahead of Black Friday Week.

Music App Sales

Astute readers will note that the side menu now includes Music App Sales under the Music App Guide. This is a feature the site could always do, but hasn't out of respect for other sites. A lot of other sites in the music app community have given me space here to cover the news. A few of them have been covering app sales exclusively. They were deliberately avoiding my toes, so I tried not to step on theirs and their app sale commissions. Since Apple has ended app sale commissions I've decided to include that service here.

Here you can quickly find the latest app sales, because they're all sorted in order of most recent. As in the Music App Guide, you can further sort by device and category. If you are looking for a DAW on iPad you can find just those sales here!

What you will not find on this list is Price Bouncers!

Bounce Out

I've hated Price Bouncers since the very early days of the site. These are the guys that are constantly jumping around in price because sites like AppShopper would list their "sales" in among the recently updated apps. It is a lazy way of getting attention for your app, without having to do all that tedious updating. This is unfair to other developers who get pushed out of the way by their antics. It is unfair to consumers who might purchase it at the high point of the price bounce. And it really really pissed me off because I have to double-check every single sale I've ever posted here to make sure it is a genuine sale and not this nonsense.

The App History pictured on the right here is from StompBox, which has been price bouncing for months now. It spends most of its time at $8, but if you're unlucky you could buy it on a day it is $15. To help prevent people from making this sort of mistake I've been tracking all the apps on the App Store to develop an algorithm that will flag these apps. Now when you see a link here for an app, it might have a Price Bouncer tag added to it. Like this:

If you hover your mouse over the words Price Bouncer you get a short description explaining that the app has a lot of frequent price fluctuations.

I'm still tweaking the algorithm so if anyone feels it is being too aggressive in flagging apps, you can let me know. It seems good so far. In the last 3 months it has only flagged a few... most of them from 4Pockets.

I tried to make the algorithm fairly conservative. Apps like Scythe have had a lot of price activity, but that's mostly them just trying to find the right price for their app. That's fine. The algorithm has not flagged it yet, so developers shouldn't worry too much about this! As long as you're not bouncing every month you'll probably avoid being flagged.

Apps that are flagged as Bouncers can become unflagged over time, simply by cutting that shit out. All Price Bouncers are omitted from the new Music App Sales page.

Pretty Emails

One of the many new things I've learned in the last year is how to make emails show up nicely on most email clients. If you've used the Wishlist feature of the site you've probably had a 50/50 chance of getting an oddly formatted email. I've finally fixed that so that most email clients will render them nicely. Except Outlook, which uses an insane HTML renderer from Microsoft Word, so fuck those guys.

I really wanted to get this done ahead of all the sales that will be happening next week! And I did. So now we can both rest easily knowing that all of the sales emails you get from here will look pretty!

Halloween 2018: The Parent Trap

Halloween has always been my favorite time of the year. When I was a kid there were a few houses in my neighborhood that really put in an effort to make it creepy for the kids. I try to do the same for children today.

Our house has developed a reputation in the neighborhood. In the last couple of months I've heard from a few parents wondering if we were going to do anything. Naturally we were, but with all of this enthusiasm from parents we decided to change things up a bit. We wanted something that would give the parents a scare too!

Video Description:

Halloween is our favorite holiday so we always try to make it something memorable for the kids. This year we changed things up a bit to also make it something for the parents, with a "Parent Trap" to catch them off guard! Audio was recorded on the new iPhone XR, using Audioshare.

Last year's video: https://youtu.be/stB5jMaWnHc

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