Throwback Thursday: The iTunes Music Store Catalogues Over 1 Million Songs

Throwback Thursday: The iTunes Music Store Catalogues Over 1 Million Songs


On this day in 2004, The iTunes Music Store announced that it had become the first online music service to have a catalog of more than 1 million songs. Launched in late April of 2003, The iTune Music Store quickly became the largest music vendor in the world and revolutionized how people purchase and experience their music. In its first 18 hours, the store sold about 275,000 tracks, and more than 1 million tracks were sold in its first 5 days. On December 15, 2003, Apple announced that it had sold 25 million songs. Before it’s debut, most online music was downloaded illegally off of sites like Napster or Limewire. Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, sought to create a service that allowed people to access music legally, so in 2002, he made an agreement with the five major record labels to offer their content through iTunes. Originally, all songs on the service were sold at the same price, but Apple introduced tiered pricing in 2007. At the Macworld 2008 Keynote, Steve Jobs announced iTunes movie rentals. Today, the iTunes Store has expanded from just music downloading to a music and app store, as well as a place to rent or purchase movies and TV shows.

Bay Area Concert Buzz: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival 2017

Bay Area Concert Buzz: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival 2017


Since the summer of 2008, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has played host to the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival. Like other well-known outdoor festivals (like Coachella and Lollapalooza) Outside Lands takes place over the course of three days and boasts an abundance of high profile performers on multiple stages. Unlike other festivals, Outside Lands bills itself as a “celebration of Music, Food, Wine, Beer, Art, and Comedy,” meaning, there’s something there for everyone (even if that something is getting drunk off Napa Valley Merlots at the Wine Lands pavilion).


The festival will be taking place this weekend: Friday August 11th, Saturday August 12th, and Sunday August 13th. This year also marks the 10th anniversary for Outside Lands, and with an all-star lineup, it’s sure to be one big celebration.


The festival begins on Friday August 11th, with everyone’s favorite virtual group, Gorillaz, headlining. Their latest album, “HUMANZ” was released this past spring. Known for their creativity and unique performances, Gorillaz is the perfect group to kick off this year’s festivities. Also performing on Friday: legendary hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest; summer music festival indie favorites Alt-J and Fleet Foxes; as well as celebrated pop group Belle and Sebastian.


The Saturday lineup brings rock and heavy metal to the festival, with rock and roll hall of famers, Metallica, headlining in the evening. Queens of the Stone Age, and Alt/electronic pioneers, Empire of the Sun, are also taking the stage earlier that day. But Solange – whose late 2016 album, “A Seat at the Table,” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart and earned her extensive critical acclaim – is the artist I’m most looking forward to seeing on Saturday.


On Sunday, the final day of the festival (which is typically the most laid back of the three), Jack Antonoff’s indie-pop side project, Bleachers, will perform. In addition to releasing a new Bleachers album, “Gone Now,” in June, Antonoff has been hard at work producing and writing for other artists over the past few years, most notably – Sara Bareilles, Taylor Swift, and Lorde. Speaking of Lorde – the twenty year-old music sensation who just released her sophomore album, “Melodrama” – will be sub-headlining that day. Lorde is known for her dramatic, captivating live performances, and to say I’m excited to see her is quite an understatement. The final act of Outside Lands 2017 will be classic English rock band, The Who, taking fans on a journey through their iconic body of work, from “My Generation” to “Tommy” and “Who’s Next.”

For more information on the festival and to purchase single day tickets or 3-day general admission, visit the Outside Lands Website.

New to Netflix in August

New to Netflix in August


A new month brings new original shows and movies to Netflix! What are we excited about watching in August? Here’s a list of some of the top, new Netflix releases – because what better way to spend the dog days of summer than at home blasting the AC and watching Netflix?


Icarus (Documentary)

On August 4th, Netflix will be releasing the documentary, “Icarus”, an examination of the Russian doping scandal of the past Olympic Games. Premiering at Sundance this past January, Netflix engaged in an all-out bidding war, with many well-known studios vying for the film. Ultimately, Netflix paid $5 million for the production, and will most likely push the documentary come awards season.


Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (Limited Series)

Also on August 4th, The Camp Firewood Ten Year Reunion begins! The 2001 cult-classic film by David Wain and Michael Showalter, which got a Netflix Original reboot-series in 2015, returns for an eight-part limited sequel taking place ten years after the events of the original film. This time, the group must save Camp Firewood after the owner announces she’s sellit it. Like the first reboot, this one will also star most of the original cast, including Amy Poehler, Chris Meloni, Elizabeth Banks, Jason Schwartzman, Michael Ian Black, Molly Shannon, and Paul Rudd.


Naked (Film)

August 11th is the new Groundhog Day! Netflix is releasing their own version of the classic 1993 film that starred Bill Murray, with a twisted, romantic-comedy premise: “Rob Anderson (Marlon Wayans) is all set to marry the girl of his dreams, but can’t quite get to the altar. Every time he comes close, he finds himself waking up naked in his hotel elevator, forced to relive the beginning of his wedding day over and over again” (Netflix).


Disjointed (Season 1)

On August 25th, Chuck Lorre (“Two and a Half Men”, “The Big Bang Theory”) and David Javerbaum (“The Daily Show”) release their latest project on Netflix: a new stoner sitcom starring Kathy Bates as a medicinal marijuana clinic owner.


What Netflix Originals are you excited for in August? Share yours in the comments section below!

Catch these and all your favorite shows at

Bay Area Concert Buzz: July-August

Bay Area Concert Buzz: July-August


Loving music is a requirement for working at Blackfire Research. As a smart home entertainment solutions company, we’re listening to music all day while testing wireless speakers, surround sound systems, music streaming applications, and more. Although we specialize in perfecting wireless home entertainment, there’s plenty of excitement to experience outside the home. One of the best aspects about being located in San Francisco is the immense access to all the live concerts, shows, music festivals, and events that the Bay Area has to offer. And, believe me, there’s a lot. Here’s a list of some upcoming concerts near the City by the Bay we’re excited for this month.


On Saturday July 22, the hugely successful and highly acclaimed hip-hop duo, Run the Jewels, are taking the stage at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. In the wake of their third album, “Run the Jewels 3,” they’ve been selling out venues and headlining summer music festivals. With their political lyrics, they’re widely viewed as the future of hip-hop. For ticket information, click here.


On Sunday July 30, legendary folk rock singer, Neil Diamond, will be performing at San Jose’s SAP Center as part of his 50th Anniversary World Tour. Presented by Live Nation, the world tour is in celebration of the artist’s astonishing career: from selling over 125 million albums worldwide, to multiple Grammy wins and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Neil Diamond and his music has helped shape the American landscape over the past half century. For more information, check out this link.



The Band Perry will be coming to the Bay Area and performing at two different outdoor venues this summer. The first, at Mountain Winery in Saratoga on Tuesday August 1st; and the second, at Wente Vineyards in Livermore on August 3rd. Both venues will serve as a perfect background for an evening with the unstoppable pop-country trio. Their popularity and massive industry success leaves other country stars shaking in their cowboy boots.


At the Oracle Arena in Oakland on Friday August 4th, the most talented and sought-after rapper in the business, Kendrick Lamar, will be gracing the stage to what is sure to be a spectacular night of hip-hop. Lamar is coming to the Bay as part of THE DAMN. TOUR, celebrating his latest album, which went straight to No. 1 and was certified platinum. For more ticket information, click here. And check out my review of DAMN. here.


Finally, Hans Zimmer, the Academy Award winning composer behind over 150 film scores including “The Lion King,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Pirates of the Caribbean” series and “Inception” has been on tour this year. To the surprise and delight of many music and movie fans, he was even a headliner this year at the largest summer music festival, Coachella. Now, Zimmer is scheduled to take on the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on Wednesday, August 9th. Get your tickets now before they sell out! And don’t forget to bring some popcorn.

What concerts or events are you most excited for this month? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Movies to Watch on the 4th of July

5 Movies to Watch on the 4th of July


For Bay Area dwellers, the 4th of July is usually a disappointment: most years it’s too cold for a backyard barbeque, and good luck trying to catch a glimpse of any fireworks through the dense layer of fog that incessantly rolls in every evening during the summer. Most people who live in the Bay Area tend to skedaddle out of town for the holiday, but for those staying in chilly San Francisco today, instead of trying to make out colors through the clouds, here’s a list of movies to watch on the 4th of July while staying cozy and warm inside.


Forrest Gump

One of the most quoted films of all time, “Forrest Gump” is an excellent choice for The 4th of July. The film chronicles the life of a lovable Southerner, Forrest Gump (Played by Tom Hanks), and takes viewers on an American history tour that spans the second half of the Twentieth Century. Through coincidence, talent, and sheer luck, Forrest continually finds himself in the midst of history unfolding: from meeting Elvis before his big break, fighting in the Vietnam War, engaging in 1960’s counterculture and even investing in Apple Computers. The carefully curated soundtrack especially helps the film fully manifest each decade and provides a perfect anthology of American rock. With a runtime of two hours and twenty minutes, “Forrest Gump” is a great film to watch when you’ve got the entire day off to enjoy. And on the 4th of July, it’s a near-perfect, American-themed film.


Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

You probably watched this uplifting, 1939 film about overcoming political corruption, the goodness of humanity, and the unflappable bedrock of morality that is the American Legislative branch (*sigh*) in your 8th grade Social Studies class. The story follows a Junior Senator, Jeff Smith, who takes on a powerful and corrupt political machine, culminating in an epic, 24-hour long filibuster highlighting American ideals. This film is exactly what your therapist wants you to watch this 4th of July.  


Apollo 13

The 1995, major box office success directed by Ron Howard depicts the true story of the on-board explosion and subsequent emergency landing expedition of the Apollo 13 lunar mission. Starring Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell and Kevin Bacon as Jack Swigert, the film was praised for being scientifically and historically accurate. Besides the all-star cast and stellar attention to detail,  “Apollo 13” is an excellent story about the science, ingenuity, and perseverance that defined the Apollo Program and lifted the American spirit during the Cold War.



This 1972 movie-musical about the events leading up to the signing of The Declaration of Independence features our Founding Fathers (Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, & Company) in neatly choreographed musical routines. Based off of the 1969 Broadway musical of the same name, “1776” borrows portions of its dialogue and song lyrics directly from the letters, diary entries, and memoirs of participants of the Second Continental Congress. Overall, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, putting a jazzy twist on a long, tiresome debate and the birthday of American Independance.


Independence Day

No 4th of July movie list would be complete without “Independence Day,” the 1996 sci-fi disaster flick about aliens coming to Earth to destroy all of mankind on – you guessed it – the 4th of July. Featuring iconic performances by Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum (and an epically inspirational speech by fictional President Thomas Whitmore), it’s easy to remember that this movie was a really big deal when it first came out – from its high stakes action scenes to its cutting edge special effects (like blowing up the White House), “Independence Day” helped define the modern blockbuster heading into twenty-first century. But most importantly, “Independence Day” brought to light a Utopic vision of all of humanity putting aside their differences once and for all to seriously kick some evil alien butt.

Happy 4th of July! Do you have any favorite 4th of July movies that didn’t make the list? Add yours in the comments section below!