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Mar 5th 2012

The Boot's Beville Darden Talks Country Music

In honor of "Women's History Month," we will featuring profiles about some of the incredible women working at AOL. Stay tuned for more features and check out MAKERS.com to explore more stories of trailblazing women.

The fact that a recipient of one of country music's most prestigious honors actually grew up in Alabama hating country music may qualify as blasphemy to some. But ask Beville Darden, co-founder and editor of The Boot why, and you may understand.
"I was a rock and roll girl until I began college at Vanderbilt University, which just happens to be in the country music capital of the world: Nashville, Tennessee."

When Beville's freshman year boyfriend gave her Clint Black's album, 'No Time to Kill,' he completely changed her mind about country music. Beville loved it so much that she started to discover more artists in the genre, from the classics including Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson to current hitmakers like Faith Hill and Keith Urban.

After working in different areas of AOL over the last 7 years including AOL Radio, Spinner and AOL Music, Beville's deep love for country music led her to The Boot. It was in this role where she thrived, recently earning a prestigious honor in the country music community, a CMA Award. "I was flabbergasted and incredibly humbled when I won this award, I certainly wasn't expecting it," Beville said. "The Country Music Association is a historic, highly respected organization, and to be voted for this award by peers in the industry is an honor that still overwhelms me. This award also belongs to AOL, as it was given for the dedication to country music through journalism, and our company has given a lot of exposure to country music on not just The Boot but on several AOL and Huffington Post sites."

When asked about country music's recent ascension into main stream music, Beville explains that, "Unlike a lot of other genres, country music tells stories, and often these are stories that are relatable to everyone from a 10-year-old girl to her 80-year-old grandfather. The genre has always been this way, but with the infusion of a more of a pop-friendly sound, some of its songs are starting to get noticed outside of country radio. This actually dates back to before Taylor Swift was even born, with the Barbara Mandrells and Glen Campbells of the music world, but acts like Taylor and Lady Antebellum have taken the crossover popularity to new heights with great songs and incredible media exposure."

Beville spends her time outside of work entertaining friends with new recipes, but still dreams of ridiculing celebrities as a comedienne on "Saturday Night Live." Her biggest inspiration is her mother who "recently beat breast cancer, and acted like it was nothing but a stubbed toe. Her decision not to let cancer change her life in the least bit amazed me. As great as her doctor was, I'm convinced it was her attitude that was the best medicine." When asked about the things she can't live without, Beville simply responded, "My amazingly supportive, wonderful, loving family ... or coffee."

Stay connected with the latest in country music and bluegrass news, videos, songs, interviews and live performances by visiting The Boot and reading Beville's blog posts here.

Jan 27th 2012

Lookout for Winamp at Midem 2012


Winamp will participate in Midem this year, demoing the Winamp suite of products including Winamp, Winamp for Android, Winamp for Mac, and SHOUTcast. Midem is the world's largest music industry trade fair which is held annually at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France. The Winamp booth will be located in the main entrance of the Riviera Level of the Palais des Festivals. Please stop by for questions, product demonstrations or just to meet the team.

Winamp for Android is the largest third party media player in the Android Market with well over 12M installs since launching a little over a year ago.* In October, Winamp for Android 1.2 was released and offers an in-app purchase of premium features. The "Pro Bundle" offers enriched audio, high-end features and customization including a 10-band graphic equalizer, crossfading between tracks, gapless playback and a customizable home screen.

As of Wednesday of this week, user's now have two options for purchasing the Pro features. Either by purchasing the "Pro Bundle" directly from within the free version of Winamp for Android, or by purchasing the "Winamp Pro" app from the Android Market.

Winamp for Mac was release in October of 2011 to high critical acclaim. And it is rapidly being adopted by users who are looking for a solution to sync their Mac desktops to an Android handsets. SHOUTcast is the leading internet radio directory with over 52,000 stations and is used worldwide.

We hope you change the way you listen, watch, manage, and sync your media by trying Winamp!

*Source: Internal Data

Nov 8th 2011

Spinner Celebrates the Launch of New Site RPM

Last week Spinner celebrated the launch of RPM, a new site that covers breaking news, premieres new songs, and features videos of electronic artists and influential DJs. The event, which took place at Co-Op Restaurant at Hotel on Rivington, was well attended by AOL clients and music industry insiders.

DJ Whitmore kicked the night off as attendees checked out the iPad bar featuring "RE: GENERATION, The Crystal Method." Guests also enjoyed the custom graffiti t-shirt station where they were able to personalize their swag. After an interview with Spinner, DJ Blu Jemz of Brooklyn, closed the night as the crowd grew and guests danced the night away.

(Photo courtesy of Kelly Mahan, AOL)

Nov 2nd 2011

Introducing the Relaunch of AOL Music for Mobile Web!


AOL Music for Mobile Web just dropped the remix of the year. We thought a music mobile website should bring you actual music, not just music news, so we've given the site a total redesign. Now on top of reading the latest in music news, you can actually listen to great music right from your phone!

Featuring streaming music through your phone's browser (no downloads required), you can: Listen to full CD's with the CD Listening Party, stream your favorite SHOUTcast stations, listen or even download the MP3 of the Day right from your phone's browser.

We're also bringing you the latest articles from AOL Music Blog, Spinner, NoiseCreep, The Boombox, and The Boot. Get all the info on your favorite artists from news, galleries, bios, and discography - all in one place.

Everything is touch enabled for supported devices – swipe through full albums, the MP3 of the day, galleries and blog content. We still support non-touch phones as well, don't worry.

So starting playing tunes and getting the latest music news now – all from AOL Music: m.aol.com/music

(Streaming music and touch enabled navigation for supported devices only.)
(This post originally ran on The AOL Music Blog)

Oct 31st 2011

Listeners Have Their Say With The New AOL Radio By Slacker


When we unveiled the new AOL Radio powered by Slacker last week, we believed we were offering music lovers something great. With half the commercial time of the old service, a library about ten times the size of the industry leader's, playlists curated by top critics and DJs, and totally overhauled design and features, we flipped the on switch with high hopes.

Immediate feedback came with the tech and music media's first impression stories. Billboard said, "With AOL's reach and the high quality of Slacker's radio service, AOL Radio has become a formidable competitor for Pandora and iHeartRadio." Gizmodo called out its "awesome new interface." Bloomberg Businessweek said it "cuts advertising by half to challenge Pandora." Consumer Reports, MacWorld, MediaBeat, Betanews, and many others seemed to agree that the new AOL Radio had the look of a force to be reckoned with in the industry.

We were thrilled, needless to say, but important as they are, industry journalists are not the audience we're seeking to delight. And a reporter's analytical eye is different from a music lover's heart.

So we've obsessively monitored our comments section to hear what our listeners think of the new service. And, yes, we've had some feedback about a small browser glitch or two, and we've needed to guide some listeners to buttons that had been moved and whatnot, but for the most part – well, read for yourself:

"Digging the new player and less commercials, guys! It's a winner thus far. Keep up the good work!"

"The new AOL Radio app powered by Slacker is amazing!! Beautiful new user interface. I'll be using this more than iheartradio."

"I love the new format and the look of the site, and of course the music. Just wonderful. Thank you so much"

"Congratulations on your new improved AOL Radio Station for iPhone. Whatever you have done, your radio app is tops and I listen to it exclusively."

"I must admit, I'm digging the new update to the iPhone app. Seems a lot smoother and no commercials at all yet."

Whew.

When we rebuilt our service with Slacker the top priority was to delight our longtime listeners who appreciated our curated stations and our customer responsiveness despite the drawbacks of the old service. We're not hanging any "Mission Accomplished" banners yet, but so far so good.

Of course, we think new listeners will be delighted, too. That's why we're asking users of other services to take the Pespsi challenge. Try us out for a day or even just an hour. See if one of our critic or DJ playlists can beat the music mix generated by an algorithm or by your friends. Experience the surprise selections that can be found in a library of over 10 million tracks. Find out how easy it is to get to the music you'll love. Come, have a listen!

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