We've been on the books for a few weeks now to play a private party. As it turns out, it was the 30th birthday party for a lawyer. We arrived at a apartment complex across the street from the National Cathedral (in NW DC) at the same time as the caterers. Setup went fairly smoothly, as we took up an alcove in the party room where the festivities were to occur.
We started to play with a set list very similar to the last time. The first couple of songs didn't go as well as I would have liked; I think that we were not as warmed up as we would have liked to have been. After Shahin's unaccompanied solo, we started to play much better. I'm not sure as to why, but I'm glad that it happened.
One of the things that I least like about playing corporate gigs is how the "audience" completely ignores you (the money that these shows pays can help make up for that, though). This time around, we had a few people grooving along, dancing just a bit to themselves.
Today was also the first time that we tried out Red Leaves in front of other people. It was at the end of the set, and the people still around were very into their own conversations. In any case, the three of us probably played it the best we ever have.
First off, congrats to the SP team, this is a big win for them financially. I'm just hoping that this doesn't result in South Park toning down their writing.
SP was painfully funny when they first came out, and then they lost their way for a while. In the last season or two, they've found their footing again, coming up with some wicked funny satire. I just hope that the FCC decency requirements won't cause them to tone it down.
I recently finished up Start & Run Your Own Record Label by Daylle Deanna Schwartz, and it was good. It's a good write up of the big picture of getting a record label off the ground as well as the details that are needed to succeed.
The text covers how to conceptualize the necessary business plan, how to find funding, distributors to contact (and how to package up the label to get their cooperation), ways to track down retail outlets, negotiating points -- in general, just about everything you would need to start getting your head around a label birth. Schwartz's writing style is engaging and brisk; she's written another book that I will probably be picking up in the very near future.
It's a good book, one that I would recommend to anyone who wanted to understand the nuts and bolts of how a label would work.
Trying to come up with a way to be financially successful? Consider composing for film and TV. Or, to be much more precise, for film/TV in such a way as to be attractive to ringtones.
Apparently part of the problem lies with the complexity, or simplicity, of the music itself. A successful ringtone needs to be instantly recognizable and have an infectious hook. Beethoven's Fifth works; Glass and company may be a little too subtle to get our attention on a busy street corner. Composer Jean Hasse recognized those limitations when she began composing for the cell phone as musical instrument in 2001. The Oberlin-trained composer has carved out a singular niche for herself by writing hundreds of 20-second ringtones to reflect different moods and attitudes. The elliptical, jazzy little tunes, with names like Ouch, Get Out of Bed and Wait for Me, don't sound anything like typical ringtones, yet they don't sound as if they could be anything else, either. Like any dedicated composer, Hasse has figured out the quirks and character of her instrument: She knows where to place a pause for best effect; she's learned that cell phones will raise the pitch of a melody and that tempos can go astray.
It's proof time! A professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has written a paper on how DRM makes buying music less attractive.
We look at the firm's optimal choice of Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection, and find that revenue decreases with increased protection, and so it is optimal for the firm not to employ any DRM, in the absence of network effects. Listening to music or watching video protected by DRM is cumbersome to users. They have to download license files, there are restrictions on the number of times the file can be copied, and restrictions on the type of devices that can play the file. As a result there is a disutility to the legal consumer, because of which the firm charges lower prices. Loss in revenue due to decreased prices cannot be compensated by the increase in demand, and hence revenue decreases with higher protection.
Thanks to Earnest for the tip.
I have a day job. It's a pretty good one, stress aside, that pays well and has decent bennies. But I'd drop it in a New York minute if I thought I could make a living doing music. To that end, here's some thoughts on the subject:
It may be tempting to walk into work, announce that your music simply cannot wait any longer, and bid adieu to your fellow co-workers. Indeed, it can be liberating and ultimately may provide you with the time you need to write. Before you take that job and shove it, though, there are a few things you might want to keep in mind.
Some good advice for anyone.
“It was somewhere in the thick of that fog that I understood that I’m really in the T-shirt business,” Cooley [of the Drive-By Trukcers] said. “Merchandise is now the only way a band can make money. So I tell people that I sell T-shirts for a living, and play music for fun. I also sell stickers and beer Koozies, too. You want to buy one?”
I know from my experience that the merch is where the money is for just about any band. The royalty level on any CD is so low that it's hard to make any money at all on selling music, but there's no royalty for merchandise.
Thanks to David for the tip.
We're guessing the real reason Courtney Love has been allowed to fly to Japan is because, secretly, America is hoping she won't come back and clog up the legal system any more. Japan's motives for issuing her a visa? We're beating she's being lined up for a guest obstacle on Takeshi's Castle.
Courtney is convinced she's going to be able to stay clean for eighteen months, as ordered by the court:
"I've been clean for a month. I can do this. It's easy. I did it years before."
Yes, but birth to ten years old doesn't really count.
No longer satisfied with sleeping her way to the top (of a record label, that is), Mariah Carey has started dating her photographer.
Honey, the idea is to sleep up, not down. On the other hand, there'll probably be some interesting photos on the web in a few months (after the inevitable breakup).
Justin Hawkins, frontman for The Darkness, pierces himself as punishment for his own transgressions. Including a piercing through the offending organ when he got caught cheating on his girlfriend.
The original line up that was going to be playing can be found here.
You seen way too many of these yourself, and you know it.
I think their goal is to try and collect a million legal mp3 online.
Their next album is due at the end of September.
Not Safe For Work, but still funny as all get out. I've always wanted those diamond commercials to be a little more honest.
The day gig kept me at work way longer than I would have liked. So, I didn't make it out to rehearsal until about an hour after it was scheduled to start. When I got there, Shahin and Brett had been working on a new tune as well as changing the arrangement to Talking Strings.
Shahin has added a section to the bridge, mostly a fast and busy scale run starting from E. It works pretty well. When he does that, I try to hit a big, ringing note, just to stay out of his way while giving him a big room in which to move. The new part is altering the transitions (natch), which may not be the best idea just before a show, but we're going to go with it anyway.
Other than that, we just worked on a few of our problem children (Red Leaves, Soho), and then revisited Sol Azteca. Sol isn't a particularly hard song, but when Brett and I were looking at each other trying to coach each other into remembering how it even went, that's usually a sign that we need to at least touch on it once. I changed my line for Sol, though. I took it from a slap piece to a finger style tumbaó. Brett picked up on my change and we turned a semi funky straight ahead tune to a pretty hard Latin feel song; I can easily see people up and dancing to this one now.
One critics' thoughts on the Sony Walkman.
The Walkman, with revolutionary force, made music portable and subject to personal selection. It fulfilled the nursery-rhyme, ‘he shall have music wherever he goes’ and became so ubiquitous in a short period of time, with 340 million worldwide sales, that its brandname became generic and was admitted to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Its advantages were many, mostly unforseen. ...
But these benefits were soon outweighed by its corrosive effects.
He ends his rant with a bit of over dramatizing:
So while the moguls of Sony may celebrate the jubilee of another small step for mankind with the launch of an I-pod challenging Newtork Walkman, I shall mourn an art that was ripped from its rightful place and reduced in moral worth. The day the Walkman landed was the day the music began to die.
Thanks to Andrew for the tip.
A judge (who clearly got his dose of happy pills) sentenced Courtney Love to 18 months of probation and drug rehab.
I'll give her 12 months. Tops.
From Rev. Bob:
A Greek bandleader wasn't happy when his regular drummer sent a a young jazz player as a substitute on a traditional dance job. After the first set, he took the youngster aside. "Look, kid," he said, "forget about all that Elvin Jones stuff. Just give me a simple afterbeat on two and five."
The used-to-be drummer in me laughs at this. The present day writer/arranger in me says "Oh, yeah. And a hit-hat accent on 3-e would be nice, too".
I'm doubting it is playable, but still kinda cool. Now with a working link!
Thanks to Reen for the tip.
If you're interested. I'd offer you my opinion as to who should win, but that would mean that I'd have to sit down and take the time to watch MTV for the videos. Even if I wanted to, it would take a team of search dogs to find out when they're actually on (as opposed Newlyweds, Pimp My Ride or Cribs).
Eppy, who's always got something thoughtful to say, weighs in on the pluses and minuses of jam bands:
Really, if you're indie, there's no reason not to like jambands. Well, aside from the music, of course. But there are a host of things the indie mentality values that the jambands scene has in spades. A non-corporate business structure: check. A community-based promotion and distribution model: check. No sell-outs: check. Being totally "for the kids": check. Bands form organically, make the music they want to make uncompromisingly, get signed and distributed by independent labels, tour relentlessly in largely non-corporate venues, build up a fanbase through hard work, get written up in grassroots publications as well as independently-owned ones, and maybe find wider fame and success. What's there to complain about? They've acheived amazing popular success without much of any compromise to either the mainstream or corporations. Jambands constitute probably the largest independent music movement in our time. Why wouldn't you want to emulate it?
Well...because the music's bad, right?
Me personally, I either really like jambands or I hate them. There's not a lot of in-between for me. A good jamband (and even one of my favorite bands -- The Flecktones -- can go that way from time to time) takes something that works, gives to a crowd that wants it and both the band and the crowd feed off of each other's energy in a big ol' feedback loop. Jambands get in trouble when they keep a groove alive for too long, losing the crowd as they go.
Pierce Brosnan might be hanging up the secret agent gig. Or he might just be hankerin' for more money.
Thanks to Defamer for the tip.
I've seen a nine string bass from John (F# to B-flat). Now here's an eleven string bass (F# to A-flat, I would guess). I can't imagine trying to play this; just the effort of trying to mute the extra strings would seem to defeat any joy of playing.
Tonight, I lucked into some good seats for The Gipsy Kings at Wolf Trap. I've seen the Kings several times before, and Wolf Trap is a great venue for them -- there's something about hearing flamenco-style music in an outdoor ampitheatre that brings the music to life.
The show almost didn't happen, though. What with the torrential downpours and flooding in the DC area last night, the show was veering towards cancellation for a short period of time. Thunder and lightning started the consternation, but the wind blowing rain into the ampitheatre was the deciding point. It's kind of hard to play music with electrified instruments in those conditions.
In any case, the decision was made (coin came up heads?) and the group took the stage. I'd like to be able to tell you what the set list was, but I'm not sufficiently familiar with their material to be able to recognize all the songs in a live setting. Not speaking the language doesn't help much, either. This tour was in support of the Roots album, so quite a few songs from that disc were featured, as well as a number of their standbys. In any case, the show was about two hours or so of upbeat, energetic Latin/flamenco style music. There's something about seven acoustic guitars playing together, producing a vertiable wall of sound.
I know that traditional flamenco players don't like the Gipsy Kings all that much, and I can understand why. It's watered down from the traditional style (no 12/8, lots of extra instrumentation, etc.). While that makes it less pure, it has the side effect of becoming very accessible to the gringos in the audience. The crowd was very enthusiastic through the entire show, dancing in the aisle (more on this in a second), singing along as best they could and having a good time.
The dancing. The last few times I've been to see the Kings in concert, they have brought someone on stage to dance while they play (for some strange reason, almost always picking young, attractive women). While they probably have lots of reasons for doing this, I would suspect that part of the logic is that they are all in their 40's and 50's and have probably played a lot of the same songs for years and years. So bringing up a dancer on stage gives them something new in their show and takes some of the burden of entertaining off of the musicians.
The Gipsy Kings are playing again tomorrow night at Wolf Trap. If you can swing by, I'd recommend it.
-- Update --
The photos from the show are up.
-- Update 2 --
I did a little digging and found out who was playing at this particular show. Here it goes:
The Kings themselves were André Reyes, Patchaï Reyes, Paul Reyes, Nicolas Reyes, Tonino Baliardo, Diego Baliardo and Canut Reyes. Backing musicians were Xavier on bass (I can't find his last name), Cyril on keys (again, no last name), Stephanie Lambatte on drums and Rodolfo Pacheo on percussion.
So, I took a stab at trying to name who was who in each picture. I'm probably wrong, but I did make the attempt.
-- Update 3 --
Cyril found me on the web, and sent me the info on the backing musicians:
on the bass: Xavier Padilla
on the keyboards: Cyril Barbessol
on thr drums: Stéphane Lambotte
on the percs: Rodolfo Pacheco
Thanks for the update!
...[A] ring of over 300 speakers hangs roughly 10 feet above the ground. Using a digital pen and a touch-sensitive tablet, a sound engineer drags individual sound elements from one point to another to direct the position of sound elements. Samples of phantasmic voices whisper, hiss and appear to be darting and sliding invisibly from one spot to another throughout the room.
Iosono's developers claim the system offers "three-dimensional sound," and that it could revolutionize the entertainment experience for movie theaters, theme park attractions, gaming environments and home systems.
It sounds cool enough to me that I'd go out of my way to check it out.
Thanks to Xeni for the tip.
A Simpsons movie will be coming. The when's an open question, but it will happen.
We kind of liked this trio of headlines from the Associated Press, which ticked out to us, one after the other:
Rapper Ja Rule Charged With Assault
Hip-Hop Stars Aim to Get Fans to the Polls
Rapper C-Murder Indicted in Shooting
Hey, when a hip-hop star tells you to get out and muddafukin' vote, you better move your skinny ass out there and get voting - and none of those hanging chads, either...
Another great way to think of harmony.
Tonality was based on a simple gag. Get the ear to "buy" that the four notes that make up a tonic chord are a four note mode. That the top and bottom notes are the same isn't material - we recognize that it is a four chord. When all of the other chords are heard as being the same mode, with flexes. This means that when we buy that the V7 chord is really the one chord flexed and transposed, we buy the tonality.
Thanks to Chris for the tip.
NYPLM considers the legacy of the 80's stalwarts:
It's A Sin was all over the radio at the same time Def Leppard were equally everywhere thanks to the monstrously beautiful sculpture that is Hysteria, and the two were really related, glam-influenced away-from-the-beautiful-people-and/or-London UK music obsessives who drew on their inspirations specifically to conquer them. Slam up It's A Sin or One More Chance or I Want To Wake Up from Actually next to Gods Of War or Rocket or Pour Some Sugar On Me and the effect is transcendence in an echo chamber light years across, hotwired energyflash in ways often now displaced or hovering on fringes.
Jazz clubs are getting less and less through the US. So where's a fine upstanding jazz group to play?
Given the constant state of flux of live music nightclubs, and the fact that there are so few actual listening rooms left in this country, if we are to experience live jazz by major artists in the future, it will be mainly in the concert hall. The concert stage is home to jazz festivals around the world, the place where the music will be readily exposed to the next audience. At the leading edge of this phenomenon, particularly in our larger urban centers where jazz has always been more of a presence than in suburban or rural burghs, are not-for-profit presenters, in many cases those which formerly concentrated on the so-called classics (symphonic and chamber music, ballet and modern dance, legitimate theater)...
Steven Seagal, "actor", martial artist and (shudder) singer. His blues album isn't being released in the US for some strange reason; France gets that honor.
But I'm way to f-in' busy at this day gig to do much in the way of writing. At least for the forseeable future, it's going to be a lot of early morning/late night posts. Sorry 'bout that, but I gots to eat.
Jeff Jarvis lists a mountain of blogs concerning the media. I didn't make it -- surely there was some sort of oversight.
Well worth your time to read it.
Electronic termites are chomping out the support beams of our music culture, whether we're prepared or not.
The termite is the MP3 player, led by the iPod -- Apple's handheld jukebox capable of storing the equivalent of 1,000 CDs, or 10,000 or more songs -- that's stashed in your front pocket.
That's right. Those hundreds of CDs you've been hoarding since the '80s, for which you've spent huge sums for stereos, entertainment centers and decorative CD racks, are going the way of reel-to-reel, 78s and eight-tracks.
Eight-what? Exactly. The CD, as a mass-produced physical entity, is dying.
Thanks to the Pho mailing list for the tip.
Today was The Bourne Supremacy. The original flick was a pretty good popcorn thriller, and this one is actually an improvement on the original. Taut, quickly paced, with one of the best car chases I've seen in quite some time (I don't know what manufacturer makes that taxi, but I'll buy three of their cars right now).
Matt Damon plays the main character straight, which was probably the best choice in this situation. Actually, all of the actors play their parts rather well. Tony Gilroy's adapation of the Ludlum novel brings out the disorientation of a muddled memory to the screen with as much clarity as is possible.
I'd highly recommend it. Watch time 1:05
Today. it was just myself, Shahin and Brett. We really needed to buckle down and get ready for this Saturday's show. Once we set up, we went through every song on the list. There's still a little bit of rustiness (particularly on the old chestnuts), but that's why we're practicing.
During the workouts, we finally got Red Leaves down; probably the best we have played it to date. Brett finalized his drumline for Talking Strings -- now he's playing a straight ahead funk groove, which really brings the song to life. It's a solid head-nod groove.
I also introduced a new song to the mix. For a few days, I've been toying around with a mid-tempo dark funk groove built around F# minor. I really like the feel of it, but I can't quite figure out where to go with it. So, I'm going to give this one to Canvas and we'll see what we can throw together. After Saturday, natch.
The Revenge Of The Sith opens May 2005. Movie reviews comparing it to utter dreck expected at the end of April (and any bets on how many change the order of the letters in that last word?).
Mixerman is a diary/story about the real life story of recording a rock album from the engineer's perspective. It looks to be pretty interesting.
Britney decides that a pre-nup isn't such a bad idea after all.
A comic strip about a guy trapped in a phone booth.
It's about a boy who wakes up in a telephone booth which has been mysteriously selaed in an envelope of concrete. Using only the contents of his pockets (two pens, a paperback novel, three coins and 20 ft of unwaxed dental floss) our hero must fashion and execute an escape plan before he runs out of oxygen.
The RIAA has crossed over into a new legal realm, taking action against Berry's Music Stores for selling DJ-mix CDs.
Sometime in the late ’90s, Alan started hearing about something called mixtapes. A phenomenon with roots in the ’70s, mixtapes are cassettes (now CDs) put out by regional DJs: compilations of what they deem to be the hottest new tracks around. A typical mixtape might include remixes or mashups along with hits of the day. But sometime in the ’90s, there was a shift away from mixtapes emphasizing turntable skills to ones showcasing exclusives — guest freestyles by name rappers, as well as new tracks unavailable anywhere else. DJs became virtual talent scouts and mixtapes became the new urban radio, a means of hearing cutting-edge new music. ...
“Back then I didn’t know what they were really about,” Alan [Berry, one of the store owners] remembers, though it didn’t take much investigating to find out. “I got some of the local DJs’ names, JF I think was one of the first ones, Paul Bunyon ...” At first, Berry’s stocked only local mixes, buying them directly from the source. When they sold well enough to become a permanent fixture in the store, Alan started adding mixes by prominent national DJs as well. Mix-CDs soon made up about 5 percent of Berry’s’ total sales. ...
In 2002, with business booming, the brothers opened a second store on the Southside. By then, Andy Berry had become more of a silent partner, with Alan overseeing the stores’ day-to-day operations. By 2003, Berry’s Music was enjoying yearly sales of $1.7 million (up from $46,000 its first year). Then, on Sept. 23, came a knock at the store’s back door that would derail Alan Berry’s life. “I was at our warehouse and got a call from one of the stores saying, ‘Hey Alan, the police are here with an RIAA agent and they’re wanting to confiscate all the mixes.’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ I couldn’t believe it.”
Armed with search warrants, the officers grabbed all the mix-CDs from both stores, then headed to the Berrys’ warehouse. Though they had no search warrant for the warehouse, Alan, believing he had nothing to hide, let them look around there as well. “We didn’t have any duplicating equipment [for pirating CDs], if that’s what they were looking for. And as for the mixes, we never really questioned the legalities of them. We never did. Because, one, we were getting some of the mix-CDs through our regular vendors that we bought our quote-unquote ‘legit’ product from. The same place I would get the Interscope record from, I would get mix-CDs from, from national distributors. Two, the artists are on there endorsing the mixes. I mean, Eminem’s on the mix-CD saying, ‘Yo, this is Eminem. You’re listening to DJ Green Lantern.’ Then he drops three or four exclusive free-styles and he’s talking within the mix, about the mix itself, saying Lantern’s his man. You would kind of assume that Eminem’s fine with it.”
[sorry for the long quote -- ed] It also seems that one of the major problems here is that Berry's store would routinely break the street date of releases. The major labels agree to give record stores marketing money if they agree to not release a specific album prior to a given date. Berry doesn't receive these moneies, so they don't feel beholdened to wait for any given date.
Eventually, the federal charges (bootlegging and such) were dropped, but the store did go out of business. I can't imagine why. I also wonder about any other kinds of activities that are going on which we do not hear about regarding other music stores.
Thanks to Earnest for the tip.
The lawsuit names 46 defendants, including Great White, singer Jack Russell, former band manager Paul Woolnough, Knight Records, tour manager Dan Biechele, club owners Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, pyrotechnic firm Luna Tech, foam manufacturers, speaker manufacturer JBL, Providence radio station WJHY, its owner Clear Channel Broadcasting, Anheuser-Busch, Lloyd's of London, bus company Four Seasons and state and local officials.
The band, the technicians and the decision makers who decided to use pryo in a small club I can understand being sued. But why sue JBL (who had nothing to do with the event and probably didn't even know that there speakers were being used in the venue), Busch, the state of Rhode Island or the bus company (which makes as much sense as suing the taxi companies that brought some of the victims to the club)? Oh, yeah. Deep pockets. God, I hate lawyers. I'd almost rather deal with predatory drug dealers.
If you're interested, that is.
I wonder who fronted this bill, since she has said repeatedly that she's broke. In any case, it's interesting to note the police reaction:
"She was extremely cooperative. She was pleasant. She was very coherent," said police Capt. Pat Findley.
Just like you only hear about planes landing when they crash, you hear about Courtney's coherence when she pretends to have some.
Both Lynard Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band will be touring together this fall. Dates and cities to avoid can be found here. Surprisingly enough, all of the dates listed (at this time) are entirely within the sourthern US.
Thanks to Scott for the tip.
There's been a raft of stuff written on this topic, most of which I've covered before. Here's another bit o' evidence; in this case, the 9/11 report is selling quite briskly at Amazon, even though it's available for free.
Tonight, I was invited to Synergy, which I have been told is the first all Christian comedy club in the US (I'm doubting that, but we'll let it go for now). I would not have normally gone, but the sheer novelty of it caught my attention. The Washington Post did a write-up on the club not too long ago.
The venue was very, very rough (I'd suspect that the particularly primary color blue paint was still drying on the walls) -- basically a empty slot in a strip mall with hard back chairs for the audience (if you go, be forewarned. Not all that comfortable). There's no cover, but they do take up a donation in the middle of the show.
The opening comic/host was actually decent. Sean Sarvis had a decent run as a secular comic for a while (before he got his religion), so he had some decent material and good instincts. The middle performer (who I think was named Platinum) was a complete waste. She used hackneyed material with not much in the way of delivery. The closer (Marcus Wiley) had an unusual style (as well as some odder topics), but he was effective.
There was nothing at this show that I would have been even slightly bothered to watch with my mother. "No offending" should probably be the slogan of the club. Aside from the Christian culture in which a good number of jokes were steeped, the material would not have been out of place in a Bob Hope special, or at a Disney theme park. Brett Leake would have fit in perfectly at this place. I rather doubt I'll ever go back, but it was an interesting experience for at least one go 'round.
Atlantic Records in the UK will be releasing two different versions of some of their upcoming CDs -- one with copy protection, one without. This is sort of a different take on the three CD approach which differed on the amount of swag that came with the disc. But a tack that doesn't make sense. Presumably, the record companies want copy protection to work and for everyone to adopt it. Having even one unprotected copy would allow for it to spread far and wide unimpeded -- as if no CDs were protected. If that's the case, then why protect any at all?
Thanks to Simon for the tip.
The Knight Rider car is for sale. Well, one of them, at least.
Thanks to David for the tip.
Even if you play along, you might not escape the wrath of the studios.
Hollywood studios and the National Football League are seeking to block the maker of the popular TiVo television recorder from expanding its service so that users could watch copies of shows and movies on devices outside their homes.
In filings with the Federal Communications Commission, the organizations say the new technology could compromise the copyrights of shows that broadcasters send over the airwaves in digital form, which offers much higher sound and video quality than what viewers typically get today.
Sometimes you can't win for trying.
Thanks to Donna for the tip.
We're curious to know an answer to this one: Apparently, Madonna has hired dancers for her no-selling tour based on their birth sign. Is that, you know, legal? She's also, it's claimed, making the entire cast pray before they can go on stage - we don't know what the prayer involves, but we bet the words "more than half full tonight" will be in there somewhere.
The first four albums from Rush's Atlantic years (Presto, Roll The Bones, Counterparts and Test For Echo) are being remastered and sent to the streets. I'm not sure as to why; typically remasters are done for older albums, not a bunch from a decade ago or so.
Tonight, I had an audition with Junkyard Saints. They're a regional band, and their old bass player has been picked up a national act to go on tour (and so they're looking for a replacement). I've been looking forwards to this audition for about a week now.
As a tangent, here's a note to any band out there that might be looking for a new musician. The way these guys handled things is the way that everyone should be handling things. A few days after we talked the first time, I got a packet in the mail -- CD with songs to learn, some details on the band and sheet music (both for the tunes on the disc as well as a few other ones). I would have been thrilled (almost beyond words) if I had gotten a chord chart, but sheet was a wonderful surprise. In short, I had everything I needed to be completely ready for the audition.
Having said that, I wasn't ready. The changing of the day jobs didn't allow me to focus as much attention on it as I would have liked. The Saints play a pretty wide range of musical styles -- fingerstyle funk, R&B, Latin, Zydeco, swing. The first two and the last one I've got down cold, having played them for a long time in many bands. I've done some Latin, but it's been more of a flamenco style, and I've never tried my hand at Zydeco before.
So, when we played (it was just Andy and Brian, on drums and keyboards/vocals/accordian respectively), I worked the funk, the R&B and the swing pretty hard, laying down a thick groove and trying to share with the other two. When it came to the Latin and the Zydeco, I was up front with them both -- I wasn't as familar with notes as written as I should have been. I spent all my time when I was learning the songs trying to get down the feel of the music.
It's my belief that if I have both the feel of the tune right and am laying down a good thick groove, I can sell any note I hit (right or wrong) to anyone listening. So, I tried to pick up as much of it as I could, follow along with the general read on the sheet and then listen as best I could. I don't know how well I did at it, but I did try my best.
To be honest, I'd love to play with these guys. They're have a high level of musicianship and they seem to be a pretty good bunch of guys. Either way, I'll probably check them out at one of their upcoming shows -- from on the stage or off.
Remember how I said that things might be a bit slow for a bit? Well, on my first day on the new job, I didn't even have a machine. Accordingly, blogging may be a bit affected.
Continuing to call the music industry a "business" is to fly in the face of reality. They've already been convicted of collusion and price-fixing (has anyone gotten their settlement check yet? I haven't.) and now they're accused of blacklisting. These are the classic actions of a cartel (drugs, crime, oil) that seeks to retain its stranglehold on its chosen domain.
In this case, the alleged blacklisting is aimed at preventing companies like RealNetworks from doing business with companies that run P2P networks. As I've noted, a few innovators are trying to use these networks to promote themselves and develop new business models. Meanwhile, the Cartel continues to fight for its antiquated business models and to strangle in the cradle anything else.
In order for the Cartel to continue to maintain that the P2P nets are illegitimate, they have to prevent those networks/companies from having any arrangements with legitimate companies. It's a lovely Catch-22 you see - since we won't let you have our music legally, any music on your net must ipso facto be illegitimate. Roll out the next round of lawsuits, boys!
I dunno. The Music Cartel just doesn't quite have the same ring to it as, say, the Columbian Cartel. But ya never know...
Thanks to Donna for the tip.
Jimmy Buffett's latest album is now at the top of the charts. I used to rather like Jimmy, even to the point of catching one of his concerts every year for about thirteen years (or so). I stopped doing this a while ago, though. The music is just about indistinguishably the same (not that the music is actually the point of going to a Buffett show).
No, the entire purpose of attending a Jimmy Buffett concert is consumption of alcohol. Massive amounts of it. When I say massive, imagine your liver writing you a Dear John letter and then suing you for divorce on the grounds of aggravated physical abuse. Once you take away the "beach party with a few thousand equally drunk people" aspect of the show, it just didn't appeal to me much anymore. I'm not a big drinker; for awhile, I had my share (and his share, and probably her share over there, too), but that's not really my thing anymore.
Now, to forestall the Parrothead legions who are getting ready to flame me about how great Buffett's music is, just stop. I'd hate for you to expose your ignorance like that. He can tell a decent enough of a story, but the music is completely formulaic and trite. Even his latest stuff (which is actually just his really old stuff) harkens back to his earliest albums of rather Country/Western music that just happens to be either about a beach or a story set in the context of a beach.
Kind of an irony here is that I own just about every Buffett album on CD (excepting the last two or three). I'll probably hang on to some of them (a few songs have sentimental value to me because of my memories as to what I was doing at the time rather than any actual musical value), but I think I'll probably sell the rest on Amazon. Now that, you can feel free to contact me about.
Thanks to Coolfer for the tip.
The Army is looking for a few good musicians. That in and of itself isn't that big a deal. The thing that caught my eye is that you
don't have to be do have to be in the Army to join the band [that's what happens when you don't read closely enough. -ed]. Although I wonder if the uniform comes with the gig.
You know those emails that you get, claiming to be able to increase penis size (which doesn't work... or so I'm told) or getting rich quick? Here are some cartoons based on the headlines.
Michael Jackson, fresh off of his fathering of quadruplets with a surrogate mother, wants to carve out a celebrity execption to the First Amendment
Another box set, this time featuring those golden years when Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor (no relation) left the band.
I think I want one or two of these. Maybe the "American Devil" one.
Thanks to David for the tip.
Starting tomorrow, I'll no longer be at my old day gig. My new one might not be as.... understanding of the amount of blogging I've been doing for the last few months. Either that, or I might be in an environment where I won't have the same easy access to the web I've been having. I'll try to keep up, but if my output falls off, you'll know why.
Honestly, just scroll and read for a while.
But, if you want particulars, check out his thoughts on the major leagues of sports as compared with the music industry:
Of course, one of the reasons labels don't do [operate as a league] currently is because it's to their advantage to sign acts that a) don't know much about the business and b) negotiate from a position of almost total weakness so they accept terms that are sort of punitive of success. But if there was a league, that would make a non-studio musician's union a viable propositon, because there would be a unitary entity to negotiate.
Specifically, [the movie] show[s] not only the introductory talk when [Metallica tells Robert Trujillo, who's joining the band] that he's going to get a million dollar advance (!) against future profits (!), but they also show the meeting between the four band members (in beanbag chairs, if I'm recalling correctly, although maybe this is just wishful thinking) and their lawyers to hash out the new corporate agreement that incorporates Trujillo. The lawyers are clearly very uncomfortable having the cameras in the room, and, fuck, no wonder: for me, at least, it was absolutely shocking to see those kind of closely-guarded details on public display. I want to go back and watch it again and again and nail down exactly how they worked that shit out.
To be totally fair to Eppy, he didn't much like the movie, but I'm still interested in seeing the film. Now even more so, if I can learn the negotiating secrets of a bass player who seemed to have made one hell of a positive career move.
A one stop shop for all things musical about African music in general and Zimbabwean music in particular.
Thanks to Tim for the tip.
Flip is a comic hypnotist -- he gets a large group of people (like twenty or so) on stage at once, hypnotizes as many of them as possible and then takes them through a number of humorous things. But that really doesn't do his show justice. He does do some straight ahead stand-up, but I think it's more as a warm-up to the hypnosis.
One of the things I really like about his shows is that they are never the same twice. He can do the exact same bit, but it's never the same -- even with the exact same people on stage, they will respond differently. It's one of the main reasons why I can enjoy his show time and time again.
Tonight, he had one of his smaller shows. Only about five people stayed under for the duration of the show, but they were rather good and interesting.
Flip will be in town at the Improv for the rest of the week. After that, it's Destin FL, Baltimore MD and Addison TX for a few trips.
Today, when I was studying with Anthony, he lent me one of this basses (the Fodera I took up the other day to NYC). While we were playing, Anthony's wife dropped in to talk with Anthony for a bit. I tried to get out of the way of the door, and ended up bouncing the headstock of his bass off of a rack in the room, chipping the top of it.
I'm an oaf.
A look at the asshats of rock shows:
- The Singer -- He wants to the world to know he's got a great voice. So he sings. Really, really loud, during the lulls, during the shrieks. All the time.
- The Reckless Smoker -- A cigarette is a dangerous weapon around people packed together tight.
- The Angler -- They arrived late, and they don't want to stand in the back. So the Anglers connive to get close to the stage, which is tricky -- and rude -- at a show that's sold out.
- The Requestaholic -- They came for one song, and they're going to hear that song if it kills them.
- The Talker -- The bane of nearly every show. A shocking number of ticket buyers regard rock concerts as ideal moments to catch up with friends.
- The Stander -- Ordinarily, this is not a big deal. But if everyone else is sitting, it can lead to violence.
Please, please. Don't be one of these people. Mass beatings will ensue.
Thanks to Lynn for the tip.
A MIT professor takes a look at the two cultures and how they each approach the issue of online music piracy.
...[W]hile the American industry has responded by seeking legal actions against its own consumers, no such law suits have been filed in Japan, where industry leaders are seeking to understand why music fans think it is ok to share music. CD rental stores are so common in Japan that the industry has no hope of shutting down this alternative distribution outlet. Industry leaders have suggested that the aggressive commodification of music had led a generation to ignore its status as someone’s expressive output. They are seeking ways to rebuild consumer loyalty rather than demand customer obedience.
What a concept -- instead of treating all prospective customers as criminals and suing grandmothers, find out why people do something and then scratch their itch for them. That's just crazy enough to work.
Thanks to Donna for the tip.
In true Madonna fashion of taking a trend to a ridiculous extreme, she has taken to performing songs in Yiddish.
"The staff working at the party were baffled when she took to the stage. I think most people were expecting her to belt out one of her big Top Ten hits.
"It was a really odd spectacle watching Madonna launch into some Yiddish tunes."
Now there is talk the Queen Of Pop may release a song with Yiddish lyrics in it.
Oh dear God, please, NO.
You're kidding, right? It would make Vanilla Ice look like Ice Cube by comparison.
Linda Ronstadt was performing at Aladdin in Vegas when she urged her audience to support Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. She was basically booed off the stage, and then the owner of the hotel threw her out of the building.
Clear Channel Communications (trust me, if you listen to radio at all in the US, you've got better than even odds that it's a CCC station) will be cutting back on the number of ads that will run in a given hour.
Thanks to Brad for the tip.
Okay, I have an idea. Over on Richard Bona's website, I've asked him if he has any plans to drop by the DC area as a solo artist. If you've got a bit of time, drop by and chime in with your two cents worth. I figure that if there's enough people pestering him to come, he just might do it. And that would be a good thing.
It's not just that someone took the time to choreograph dancing in an online game, it's that the developers wrote the code to support it.
Thanks again to Cory for the tip.
Nike will be getting a bunch of one-hit wonders (like Kajagoogoo and A Flock Of Seagulls) to play music along the course of a foot race in NYC. Judging from their lineup, I'm guessing that some executive at Nike really liked the Bands Reunited show.
Just what we needed and didn't know about -- the search for the best "guitar face". Perhaps this one might be it.
We can only hope.
Two people playing the game Soul Cailbre, getting the characters to dance in time with the music. Again with the too much free time.
Thanks to Cory for the tip.
Hanging themselves from meat hooks to "enjoy the afternoon"?
A quick look-see at some of the inner workings of MS Office.
And more on MS Office causing problems. Although, in this case, I'm very surprised that genetic researchers aren't keeping a backup of their data.
The four of us got together today over at Brett's place. Shahin has written a new tune that he's all excited about. We started to go through our list, trying to gear up for the show a few weekends from now, but we never really clicked today. I suppose there's a lot on our respective minds and it just didn't quite come together. Hopefully next time will be better.
The trend-setting Fender Stratocaster turns 50 years old today.
George Washington University (in Washington DC) will be offering Napster to students living in the dormitories, free of charge.
I caught Anchorman today at a "matinee" (I say that word in quotes because the price for the "matinee" was $9.50, whereas the regular show would have been $9.75. WTF??). I was hoping for something along the lines of Dodgeball or Old School, but I didn't quite get it.
The movie was decent enough, with a few rather funny moments to tide me over through the mediocre parts. Wil Farrell did a, well, decent job of his part, and Christina Applegate was underused. Steve Carell (a refugee from the Daily Show) completely stole every scene he had, playing the mildly retarded weather man. As far as the rest of the cast goes, there are some great cameos, and a plethora of refugees from SNL.
Watch time :46.
Oh, and the credits. Yes, there are some easter eggs in the credits (including one from Smokey And The Bandit for some reason), but they're not worth staying. Apparently, they had some many outtakes worth keeping that there will be an entire second DVD worth when this movie hits the home market.
As most of my readers well know, from a business perspective the marketing of the music is almost more important than the music itself. To that end, here are some tips:
- Relationships are key
- You NEED an active, powerful, online presence
- You should regularly produce excellent articles of journalistic quality
- You need to have your name and stories showing up consistently in GoogleNews and Yahoo! News
- Recognize the power of video and audio in helping media sources to choose to call you rather than your competition
- Learn to wisely use email to pitch stories
- Learn to stand out
Thanks to Governor Arnie, recording artists will have additional access to auditing the financial books of the labels.
The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, allows artists to conduct annual audits and applies to any record companies doing business in California. The law holds down the cost of audits through means such as letting a single auditor work for several artists on the same label simultaneously.
"This is a significant step forward for artists' rights," said Sen. Kevin Murray, the Los Angeles Democrat and former music agent who sponsored the bill. "The ability to audit will keep record companies a little bit more honest."
The law is the culmination of a campaign by some musicians, including Don Henley, to give artists more power to determine whether they are due royalty payments.
Original Hit 2nd try Get Here Get Lost People Are Still Having Sex People Are Now Having Kids I'm Gonna Be 500 Miles I Got Really Tired And Sat Down For Awhile Tubthumping Let's Just Drink A Lot Afternoon Delight Tomorrow Hangover Turn Up The Radio Get Your Hearing Checked Beds Are Burning And Now The House Kung Fu Fighting Then He Got A Gun Video Killed The Radio Star Internet Killed The Video Star
Thanks to Xeni for the tip and the ideas.
Rasputin has a good point -- when various idiots gather together for a good ol' fashion book burnin', from where do those books come?
Say it isn't so?! (and there was much rejoicing)
And the odds for divorce will be set in December.
Some things to consider about road managers.
Musician.com: How do you make sure the band is paid fairly?
Brenner: As an addendum to the contract, there would be a list of expenses that are agreed to between the band's management through the booking agent and the local promoter. Typically those involve things such as advertising, production sound and lights, crew costs, catering, security, box office staff, Ticketmaster, etc. Those are all pretty standard. The tour manager should always expect at the end of every performance to be presented with a list of bills from the promoter validating these figures. At a certain point you have to believe that the bills you are looking at are indeed the correct bills. You can dispute a dollar or two here or there, but if you've done it two or three times you realize it isn't a worthwhile use of your time. You need to look at the overall expenses to see if they're in-line with what was previously budgeted. So the expense side is one issue and the income side is the other issue. You need to see the Ticketmaster manifest and understand how to read it. You need to know that within the contract you'll see a number that says what the gross box office receipt is at sellout, so if there is a sellout those numbers should be close. There are always a few seats here or there. It's never an exact match, but the numbers have to be close and reasonable. The way the deal typically works in a medium sized theatre, once you've determined the basic expenses and agreed on the basic income, the promoter will get an additional 15%, which is their profit. That profit is added onto the expenses and subtracted from the income. Then whatever money is leftover is split between the band and the promoter as per the contract: 80/20, 85/15 or however that's agreed upon. And you should always walk out with your money. But it's a business and for the most part people are dealing straight up with it because it's not worth it to screw your band for a few hundred dollars when they know they've got to deal with this agent for 20 or 30 other bands that they want to book. It's not as ugly a business as it might have been some years ago.
Thanks to Rob for the tip.
A little over 25 years ago (twenty-five years and three days, to be precise), the Disco craze officially ended with a bang. A controlled demolition of disco records in the middle of Wrigley Field in between a double header of the White Sox and Detroit Tigers.
Dahl [the Chicago area DJ behind the stunt] admits that the cultural phenomenon that sparked the end of the disco era began simply as his response to losing a job at a radio station that had turned to an all-disco format. Even though disco music had become the unofficial soundtrack of the 1970s, his “disco sucks” mantra struck a nerve because so many Midwesterners simply didn’t ‘get it.’
“The average guy in Chicago didn’t have the right clothes, couldn’t get into the right clubs, and thought he’d never get laid again because of disco,” says Dahl.
The Disco Demolition and Steve Dahl became national news the next morning, and the event’s legacy survives to this day – disco bands including ABBA and K.C. and the Sunshine Band agree that the event was the beginning of the end for disco.
Remember way back when? You know, when Eddie Van Halen was the "best guitarist ever, man!" ? Well, if you smiled when you read that, here's a photo history of his guitars.
A graphical analysis of various songs, demonstrating the repitition of the parts. You can even listen to the music, albeit in a crappy MIDI format. But still kinda interesting.
Audible Magic, the techology introduced by the RIAA to campus networks to foil (I just love that word. "Curses, foiled again," the villian said as he twirled his moustache) file sharing, doesn't work all that well. Edward Felten analyzes a number of reasons why it has some pretty massive technological holes in it
CopySense [Audible Magic's product name] would be defeated in practice, without even reaching the question of whether Audible Magic's underlying audio-scanning technology is sound. His encryption argument applies to any system that claims to detect infringing music transfers by listening to network traffic.
It may turn out -- and I suspect it would, if independent experts were able to study Audible Magic's technology -- that copyrighted music files could be tweaked in a way that made them undetectable to Audible Magic's algorithms, while still sounding fine to typical human listeners.
When paper shredders just aren't enough.
Two great bass players at a great venue! Kai Eckhardt (with Garaj Mahal) and O'teil Burbridge (with the Peacemakers) will be playing at The Funk Box in Baltimore on August 3rd. I've seen both of them before (Kai here and O'teil here), and the chance to catch them both in the same night is really too good to pass up.
This morning, I completed Hit Men (by Fredric Dannen) on my way to work. This particular book is frequently referenced as an exposé on how the music industry really works.
This book picks up at the end of the payola scandals in the late fifties through to the end of the eighties. While this does make the information rather dated, it's still a good look on how we got where we are. Basically, the point is made that radio time has just about always been bought and paid for. Initially, it started with the labels paying the DJs. Then, it went to the labels paying the program managers of the station. When the attention/heat got too much, it changed to the labels paying "independents", who turned right around and paid the program managers (pocketing a small fee along the way). Finally, after a report from NBC news, the labels gave the money to the artists who then hired the independents who then paid the PMs -- but now, it's a recoupable expense, so the labels get all the benefits and none of the cost or exposure.
The book does make a pretty damning case that the payola laws are a sham, at best. No one follows them, no one wants to prosecute them. Organized crime seems to have more than a small hand in the system. And artists don't want to be the ones to try and go against them, either.
"When we first went off indies, Maurice White came into my office. He made the rounds and found out this [boycott] comes from Asher [who is speaking in this quote]. We had a long conversation. He was saying he had to have independents. I said, 'We're just not doing it, Maurice.' I said, 'Maurice, you're the greatest artist in the world, you're such a huge talent. Isn't it demeaning to you have some guy with an Italian name has to get paid off to get your records played on the air? You Know'
"He said, 'Look, man, I only have one career. So don't make me your crusade.' "
When talking about the independents themselves, there's an interesting story about Pink Floyd and LA. During the tour for The Wall, Pink Floyd had one of their few hits with Another Brick In The Wall. At the time, CBS records decided to see what would happen if they didn't pay the independents to promote in LA. Well, what happened is that no radio station in LA played the song. Not one -- not even when Floyd was in town, playing a huge venue for two nights and selling it out. But as soon as CBS cut some checks to the indies, the song shot up to number one record played within the week.
As a sometime biker, I get some strange looks from people as I zip by, lycra-ed up and trying to get a decent workout in. And, from my youth, I know that there are those who consider bikers to be wimps, not fit for a "man's sport" like football. Oh, really?
...[R]ecently, when I googled the terms "Iraq torture prison Abu Ghraib" -- certainly one of the most intensively covered news stories of the year -- the first New York Times article was the 295th search result, trailing the New Yorker, Guardian, ABC and CBS News, New York Post, MSNBC, Slate, CNN, Sydney Morning Herald, Denver Post, USA Today, Bill O'Reilly on FoxNews and a host of others news sites.
What's more, tons of other non-traditional news sources came ahead of the Times, including a number of blogs and low-budget rabble-rousers like Antiwar.com, CounterPunch, truthout and Beliefnet (a site dedicated to spirituality). So did Al-Jazeera (twice). But the Times still ranked low, even after it plastered an Abu Ghraib story on its front page for 32 straight days between May and June. And Google isn't the only one to shun the Times: I got similar results from other search engines (AltaVista, Lycos, Yahoo).
I wonder if they'll drop the registration requirements. I doubt it; they seem to perceive an economic benefit to having people register. Either they expect to make money off subscriptions (The Wall Street Journal does this successfully, Salon is failing quite miserably), or they think the gained demographic information for marketing purposes is valuable (although I would suspect that a majority of their data is spoofed and flawed -- I know that I don't give out real information).
Here's yet another list.
I'm glad to see this advent. I rather strongly believe that digital distribution is the wave of the future (and I'm going way out on a limb with this one, I know), so the more artists that produce digital music, the stronger the networking effect, the sooner that day will come.
The city fathers in Detroit pass an ordinance making any automobile with music "plainly audible" from 10 feet away. First offense is $100, third might result in jail time.
Brazil leads (at least as far as countries go) and Tom Capone has the most nods as well (at least as far as people go).
How the pimp image has been softened and popularized throughout the American culture.
Remember that horrible piece of legislation that Orin Hatch introduced? Well, the RIAA has (surprise, surprise) come out in support of it.
First off the bat, Earnest Miller goes through the RIAA's letter to Congress, fisking as he goes. Then Brad Hill restates the letter in a short but sweet, straight-to-the-point version. Either (or better yet, both) are worth your time to read.
A liquor long a standard of impressionists is back.
Thanks to David for the tip.
|Indian Oven||237 Filmore||415/626-1628|
|Little Thai||Polk & Broadway|
|North Beach Restaraunt||1512 Fulsom||415/392-1587|
|Culinary Art Institute at Greystone|
|The Boom Boom Club||1601 Filmore||415/673-8000|
If you're heading to see Prince over at the MCI Centre, this is what you're in for.
-- Update --
Eppy gives an even better review.
An interesting article on how color choices are made in fashion (and other industries).
Thanks to Cory for the tip.
Quite a few of the heavies of technology and film are banding together to try and create video technology that cannot be pirated.
The alliance marks the culmination of years of tentative and often suspicious contact between the high-tech industry and Hollywood. It will be aimed at developing specifications to protect copyrighted content such as movies inside home networks. If the group is successful, a consumer might be able to download a high-definition movie, store it on a PC, watch it on a television and transfer it to a mobile device to watch while traveling. ... Despite the inclusion of some tech and content heavyweights, to be successful many hurdles will need to be overcome. Most importantly are the differing goals of the two main camps. Tech companies have much to gain from the digitization of the living room and want consumers to be able to perform a wide variety of tasks with digital content. Companies that produce movies and music want make sure that people are buying the content and not simply watching pirated material, a la Napster.
On the one hand, you have to give these companies credit. Unlike some people (say, the record labels), they're not ignoring the problems ostrich-like, hoping that it will go away. Rather, they're trying to work with people who have some rather competing goals (while both want people to buy as much of their product as possible, techies want to ease the use of the studio's products as much as possible, where the studio just wants people to buy as much as possible). On the other hand, money talks and consumers don't have as much as the studio does. In any case, it's bears closer attention.
-- Update --
Some good thoughts from Edward on the subject.
The new entity will fail just as badly as the old ones, and for the same reason: there is no effective anti-copying technology on which to standardize. You can get together as many company representatives as you like, and you can issue as many joint reports and declarations as you like, but you cannot change the fact that the group's goal is infeasible. This just isn't the sort of problem that can be solved by negotiation.
But perhaps the group's real goal is to limit the use of digital media technology by law-abiding consumers. That's certainly achievable. And, as Ernest Miller notes, they may also be able to erect barriers to entry in technology markets, by creating "security" requirements that lock out smaller companies.
Brad also has a word or two:
So this cross-industry working group resembles nothing less pathetic than the failed SDMI (Secure Digital Music Initiative) project which made the music industry look like a pack of fools several years ago.
What is the quixotic dream of the content companies? Call it smooth friction. The content owners want to establish invisible gates that quietly prevent undue levels of copying without getting the user angry. Accordingly, they are looking ahead to targeting not just P2P companies, or Internet service providers, but each private junction that holds together an in-home network. Sure, watch the start of an HD movie in your living room, and finish it in the bedroom. But there might be a technology gate between those two rooms that prevents making a copy that could leak out of the house.
The alliance of tech and content companies is an uneasy one. Silicon Valley needs to build copying devices. Tech companies recognize an unalterable truth about their marketplace: people love making copies of cultural products. Copying technology has driven the computer and Internet industries for the last seven years. Hollywood despises copying technology, and always has—despite the fact the once-reviled VCR has spawned a hugely lucrative branch of the industry.
Some pretty cool technology.
A few years ago, I was working at a facility that required me to be very familiar with computer security threats. I had heard about quantum encryption, thought I should bone up on it just to be familiar with it and picked the seminal work on quantum crypto. I remember reading about the first three of four pages when my brain started hurting. Really badly. It's one of the few books that I put back on my shelf rather than read because I just couldn't follow it.
Courtney Love has found her way back in to the arms of the nice men with the white coats.
Fugitive rocker Courtney Love has been admitted to a private New York hospital after being released from a weekend stay at a public medical facility in Manhattan, her criminal defense lawyer said yesterday (July 13).
The article continues...
Earlier yesterday, Love's civil attorney, Robert Ring, said during an unrelated Santa Monica court hearing that a legal guardian had been appointed for the singer and that she was in an East Coast "institution."
Ring did not elaborate except to describe Love as "a troubled rock star" in a hearing over a lawsuit alleging that she owes money to another law firm that previously represented her. Ring declined further comment on the matter when contacted later by telephone.
Lemme see. If you have been institutionalized and have had a legal guardian appointed for you, that doesn't speak very well towards one's mental status, now does it?
A webpage dedicated to all the poor souls who ushered into the great beyond at the theme park from the ride.
Thanks to Cory for the tip.
The new Velvet Revolver album released without DRM protection in Japan. Yet more brilliance from the labels.
Tivo picked up Red Dragon for me overnight. I remember this when it came out and thought it might be interesting -- Edward Norton is one of my favorite actors working these days, and Hopkins is an old pro (period, but this role in particular). I'm glad that I didn't. I'm also glad that I watched it at home, because I could do other things while it was on.
Why am I glad? One very simple reason: Manhunter. The 1986 film, directed by Michael Mann, is superior to Red Dragon in almost every way. The production is less slick (in a good way), the main character (portrayed by William Peterson, best known today from CSI) brooding and effective, the primary villian far more frightening and -- bear with me for the heresy -- Brian Cox's Hannibal Leckter is more chilling. And the difference in last names is not accidental; the spelling for the name was changed between movies.
Hopkins' Lecter is frightening in its perversion of a high class, urbane sophisticate who is also completely sociopathic and amoral. Cox's Lecktor is brilliant, arrogant (in that abrasive way of people who are really smart, expect other people to be just as smart and are sorely disappointed in every one of them that they are not) and completely commands attention even though he is never seen outside of the confines of his cell. Hopkins seems like a professor that was a little out there -- the kind of guy when you hear that he kills and eats people, you'd cock your head and say, I could see that. Not Cox; he'd be a complete shock.
If you happen to go and catch Manhunter (and disagree with me), first -- how dare you disagree with me! (I kid; I kid!) and second, bear in mind that I saw it years before Silence Of The Lambs, so it's the yardstick by which I compared Silence. Silence has a psychological battle between Lector of the Lambs and Jodie Foster's FBI agent and it dominates the movie -- their toe-to-toe gave the film energy and made it compelling to watch. Manhunter is a more straight-ahead crime flick, but the appreciation for both the criminal and cop gets the energy moving.
And, as a complete side note, I don't think that Michael Mann ever really felt that his film got the appreciation it deserved. So, he recycled large swathes of the plot, the characters, the mannerisms -- the whole thing, actually -- into a Miami Vice episode (which Mann was writing at the time).
Some guy has built a roller coaster in his backyard. Yeah, it's small, but still...
Thanks to David for the tip.
Declare Yourself, the Register to Vote website has killed two socially useful birds with one stone - encouraging people to make their voice heard in 2004, and sewing Christina's mouth shut.
In somewhat confusing news, rapper Nelly to act in an Adam Sandler movie, actress Lindsay Lohan to record album. What's next?
Raymond: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.
Egon: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston: The dead rising from the grave.
Peter: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.
That must be it.
Man in the UK gets five years in jail after shooting himself in the groin with a sawed off shotgun. That there was alcohol involoved shouldn't surprise anyone.
Thanks to Andrew for the tip.
Maybe the Turing Test shouldn't be the end-all, be-all yardstick anymore.
"In the auditions, we had all kinds of women coming in with real ones, fake ones. It was sort of interesting," executive producer/writer Scott Silveri said. "We chose Drea, but we stopped short of making her go under the knife just for a sitcom."
Excuse me? Making her go under the knife? I'm glad that you had the decency to stop her from get surgery "just for a sitcom." Had it been a movie, cut away!
All Music Guide has been a mainstay of internet music research for awhile. I've never been that big of a fan of it -- I've never liked the interface, and what information I have found tends to be somewhat accurate, if incomplete.
Well, they recently changed the look and feel. And, if you ever needed an example of a quantum leap backwards, this would be it. Over at Waxy.org, there's a pretty comprehensive examination of the negatives to the new design.
Thanks to Tim for the tip.
It seems he's doing a little moonlighting in the studio with Trent Reznor.
The hip place for late night TV these days is Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.
Unless you're one of its growing number of insomniac fans, you may not have heard of Adult Swim. But these shows are among the most innovative, and increasingly popular, new programs on television today. The block includes such off-kilter postmodern cartoons as "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," a send-up of classic action-hero shows starring a life-sized talking milkshake prone to such bizarrely ill-informed pronouncements as "plaque is a figment of the liberal media and the dental industry to scare you into buying useless appliances and pastes"; "Sealab 2021," a workplace comedy where nobody can ever leave the underwater office; "Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law," a "Perry Mason"-like spoof in which a winged superhero with a law degree defends famous cartoon figures accused of various crimes; and "Home Movies," a show about a single mom, her movie-making son, and his alcoholic soccer coach, all united in their mutually amiable incompetence.
The Adult Swim fare now consistently rates as the top block in its time slot on cable among the coveted young adult demographic. In the last year alone, the ratings for the entire three-hour block jumped by over 60 percent, from around 180,000 viewers to 431,000 viewers (as of April); a few shows in the block, like "Family Guy" (about a dysfunctional Rhode Island family), regularly draw more than a million viewers. Most of those viewers are young men. In fact, for males age 18-24, Adult Swim now demolishes the ratings of broadcast standbys like Leno and Letterman--beating Leno by 36 percent and Letterman by a whopping 87 percent.
I've seen a number of these shows (thank you Tivo -- I don't stay up as late as I used to), and they are definitely inventive.
One of the more interesting aspects of the article is how it talks about the way in which this creativity was allowed to happen:
...[T]he good stuff tends to come when nobody's looking--created by those on the fringes of the studio system, occupying marginal creative real estate with minimal supervision.
Kind of like what happens in the music world where the interesting music comes out of the minors, not the majors, huh?
After paying 20 pounds (about $32 bucks or so) for a suitcase at a flea market in Melbourne, Fraser Claughton opened it up to find it full of Beatles items, including a reel to reel tape of the Abbey Road album marked not for release. Apparently, the suitcase used to be owned by a former roadie for the Beatles. Estimated worth is somewhere in the half million range.
Rapper Jadakiss is making a complete fool out of himself for blaming Bush for 9/11.
Ruff Ryders/Interscope artist Jadakiss is getting a lot of attention for his single "Why?" from his new album, "Kiss of Death." The song questions President George W. Bush's role in the events of Sept. 11, 2001, with the lyric "Why did Bush knock down the towers?" The line has prompted some radio stations to edit the track.
Having said that, if he wants to make the claim, let him. He takes the responsibility for his own statements, he gets the credit or the blame for speaking out as he sees fit.
However, I do not support radio stations editing out what they don't like -- If you don't like what he has to say, then don't play the record. It's pretty simple.
Enimem may be following up his 8 Mile flick by starring as a Jewish boxer, based (loosely, I'm going to guess) on Dmitry Salita.
I've added MT Blacklist, which should further cut down on the spam. Trust me, it's starting to become the bane of my existence.
Thanks again to Elise for the assistance.
The NY Times has an article about bands going into therapy.
The music world — full of notoriously volatile and dysfunctional types who have long preferred to rock it out, not talk it out — has become more receptive to therapists and their ministrations. Though the notion of seeking help remains one of rock's dirty little secrets, some of these therapists have become a regular part of band retinues; Bon Jovi, R.E.M., Motley Crue, and Aerosmith have all relied on shrink sessions, as have smaller groups like the female alt-rock trio Sleater Kinney. And Dr. Cox is one of several therapists who have made a career of helping bands excavate deep-rooted resentments, break through communication blocks and negotiate power struggles.
One of the more interesting details in the article is how the labels are usually footing the bills (at $40,000 a month or so). And, since all expenses incurred by a band are typically paid out of the royalties earned by the band, I guess they're actually paying for it themselves.
The graphic novel (of which I have been a fan for some time, even if some people have made fun of me for it) is gaining more and more dignity these days. Glad to see that others are catching up, even if they do ignore some of my favorite writers.
Clear Channel Communications, one of the largest communications conglomerates around, has rejected displaying a politically oriented billboard in NYC around the same time as the Republican convention. The billboard in question showed an American flag in the shape of a bomb with the slogan "Democracy is best taught by example, not by war."
If this had been the government stopping the display of this ad, then I'd be all up in arms over it. That's not the case here -- it's a business decision (as politically motivated as it may or may not be). On the one hand, CCC is well within their rights as a private business to decline any business they do not want. On the other hand, it does smack a little of political expedience.
Mind, Body and Soul is scheduled for release in September.
The size of touring shows are getting smaller, and boh the unions and the venues aren't all that happy about it.
The shifts underway are seismic because the very force that formed these Broadway-size venues across the nation is shifting under their feet. Many have pegged the huge cultural venue boom of the past two decades on the cash flow and blockbuster sales of the Broadway touring circuit. ... There are a full range venues still under construction or renovation around the country, all built on the promise and expected revenue of the Broadway touring mega-musical. There will be some interesting aftershocks as the size and scope of the touring productions, the interest of the audience, and the cost structures of the brokers and businessfolk all work to find their new equilibrium.
I want. I want! I WANT!
(thanks to Brad for the tip)
Will Smith comes out (sorta) in support for music downloads.
...[T]he actor and singer says he doesn't see why so many other musicians are furious about illegal downloading.
[Smith] said: "My take is, 'OK, there were pirates 1,000 years ago - there is no reason for us to think that we'll live without them in the year 2004.'
The view of the sights in Italy may not be so clear anymore.
There's a lovely 16th Century church at the top of the Spanish Steps--Rome's premier gathering spot for tourists--but if you're visiting Rome this summer you won't be able to see it.
That's because it's been draped in a giant advertisement for L'Oreal beauty products, the latest in a series of controversial advertisements that obscure the ancient city's monuments.
Thanks to Jeff for the tip.
At least you don't live in England, where there is a reality show starting that will feature porn stars and average joes.
To avoid getting staggering costs, broadcasters are scrambling to get the technology to allow for delayed broadcast (of just a few seconds).
The typical 7-second delays may sound about as harmless as Bill O'Reilly on mute. But the technology isn't cheap for small stations, which also face a risk of hefty fines just like their huge commercial counterparts in metropolises like New York City and Los Angeles.
While the technology ain't cheap, it's less than a half million dollar fine.
Thanks to Glenn for the tip.
The rules are: steal it, post it on your site, bold the books you've read and add three of your own. I'm also going to comment as I go... Click more for the list.
-- Update --
Here's a list of books that other bloggers are reading.
I went through and added links for all the books, in case you are interested in exploring the titles further. As some good news, each book goes for a few bucks a pop, so you can pick up lots of things to read on the cheap. And, if you decide to join in on this, feel free to copy the HTML used here (it takes care of the numbering for you). If you just want to add your three, put them in the comments, and I'll update the list accordingly.
Well, first things first. We have officially changed the name of the band from Fire On Ice to The Canvas. As I've said a few times before, trying to decide on a name for a band is almost harder than forming it to start with; so this is it. No more name news.
The three of us played around for a bit, adding a C section to the Talking Strings tune and working with Shahin on his MIDI patch for the same song. After a while, we were joined by Rahul on guitar. Shahin found Rahul and invited him to sit in with us, to see if there was going to be a match.
We played through a number of songs, and Rahul hopped in as we played. He's got a good voice when he solos and he fits well with our style. He needs some work on his chording (some hands-on-the-strings noise when he shifts chords), but I think that will come with time (he's a relatively young player). So, we now have a fourth.
Some highlights from the list:
5. James Jamerson joins Motown.
(1959): He never got a fraction of the fame of Marvin Gaye or Diana Ross, but without the remarkable electric bass of Jamerson (1936 to 1983), the Motown sound would be unthinkable. As Berry Gordy once put it, "His influence is omnipotent."
26. Payola refuses to die.
(late '70s): The Payola Act of 1960 stopped DJs from taking cash under the table from record labels. But by the '70s, "pay for play" was back in the form of independent record promoters -- shadowy figures paid by record companies to persuade stations to play certain songs.
28. Grandmaster Flash's "Adventures on the Wheels of Steel":
(1981): While he's best-known for his early rap hit "The Message," Grandmaster Flash (above) was also a pioneer of sampling. With "Adventures," he became the first DJ to cut snippets of other people's tunes (Chic, Blondie, Queen) and paste them on his own.
29. Prince gets booed off the stage.
(1981): The pop world wasn't always so tolerant of androgynous black rockers in bikini briefs. Opening for the Rolling Stones at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Prince was literally booed off the stage.
As a side note, the statement from her lawyer goes out of the way to emphatically mention that this is "not drug related". Of course not; why would we think something like that?
Thanks to David for the tip.
Bobby Brown required to turn himself in.
Previously on the Love channel, Courtney was scolded by a judge for showing up late. On today's episode, she doesn't bother to show up at all and has a warrant sworn out for her arrest. Her reason for not setting foot in the courtroom? She was confused as to which courthouse she had to go. I guess that can happen when you have legal cases pending on both coasts.
A Spiderman musical sounds bad enough. So why is U2 interested?
On my way back from NYC, I decided to drop in on Philly. I used to work there for a time, and one of the things that I really loved was the profusion of good Italian food. You could pretty much just throw a rock down the street and it'd land in front a great Italian joint. One in particular I really liked, so I went by to grab some grub.
The place is still there (a good sign), and the menu hasn't changed much in several years (either a rather good sign or rather bad). I asked the waiter if the chef was the same as from then and he told me that it was (although I think he was a little annoyed that I was asking such a question). So I ordered a dish that I remembered really liking.
Well, you know how sometimes you remember things as being better than they were? That wasn't the case here. I think I would have remembered the very few pieces of chicken that did come with the pasta dish I order as having really big green streaks across the surface. That's the sort of thing you don't forget. Ah well, another thing that you can't go back to.
I went back to Fodera today to get my four string back. I had left it to get the finished worked on the finish of the bass, as well as having them take a look at the frets. I also took up another bass of Anthony's for them to check (and, it was just fine).
Over the years, I've managed to get a few signatures on the back of the headstock, and I wanted them to be protected (as I have already rubbed some of it off while changing strings). Some of the frets had started to get a bit of a buzz, particularly on the first three frets on the E-string.
This time around, I spent some time with Vinnie. Vinnie took a look at the frets and reworked all of them from top to bottom. He told me that I had worn grooves from my strings into the top three frets. Which is something that I knew might happen -- I used to use Rotosounds on this bass, and those strings have a history of chewing up frets.
Once he was done working on the frets, he spent some time setting up my bass. It was interesting watching Vinnie work, particularly in comparison to Joey. Joey works in a rather intuitive fashion -- working by feel, twiddling here, checking the setup by playing. Vinnie, on the other hand, works almost like a scientist -- measuring the string height off the fretboard in several positions, checking the tension of the strings, then playing to hear the sound. I don't think that either way is better, just different. Both in conjunction would probably work out rather well.
While Vinnie was working, he and I talked about guitar construction in general and Foderas in specific. I learned quite a bit from him (the difference between the Fodera models, the best way to string an guitar -- accoustic vs. electric, the resonant qualities of various wood species); actually, talking with him for a while was completely worth the nine hours or so of driving.
And, on that note, if anyone (hi Mom, Dad!) is wondering why I take the time and effort to drive my bass to NYC to get it worked on (instead of say, shipping it), take a look at the pic to the right. This is a brand new, handmade Fodera bass that was shipped using FedEx. And that's what it looked like when the owner opened up the case. All things being equal, I have no problem driving a few hours.
Joey and I talked about what Fodera's usual policy and procedure is for ordering a new bass. He was saying their turn around time is about 8 to 12 months these days (not the 2+ years I had been expecting). What I was really curious about was the payment process. I'd love a new bass, but I don't know if I could part with several thousand dollars for something I'd eventually get in a year or so. However, he was saying that they usually take a percentage (33% to 50%, depending on the customer and the project -- the more obscure or unusual, the less likely they would be able to unload the instrument in case of problems, so the more they would ask for upfront). But not having to have all of it up front makes picking up one of those things a bit easier.
And, if you'd like to help (hi Mom, Dad), feel free to hit the tip jar on the left hand side at the top of the page....
It's back to up NYC for me today, going to get my baby back. Since the police tend to frown on people typing on a computer while driving, it'll be later on before I have much to say.
In the meanwhile, drop by some of the sites listed to the left.
A rather inventive pitch for a dating service. And extra special points to Lindsey for the Mr. Show reference at the end of her post.
Last night, I completed The Psycho-Ex Game. This book is written as a back and forth between two LA-based characters Lisa (a film and TV writer) and Grant (a musician). Both are older, a bit world weary and scarred by years of trench warfare love.
The two of them meet at a performance by Grant and sort of recognize each other. They decide to email each other back and forth. In fairly short order, the emails turn into a game in which they compare horror stories about things that happened with a psycho-ex, scoring points along the way ("helping her score heroin the night before an interview with the press, 200 points" or "listening to him scream about how the waiter brought the wrong food but it was somehow my fault, 450 points"). All the while, their respective lives go on, with some people moving out of the one's life and into the other's.
The book feels like an actual back and forth, with misunderstandings and miscommunications abounding. One of the reasons it feels this way is that it was actually written by two writers, one male (Andy Prieboy as Grant), one female (Merril Markoe as Lisa). Andy is actually a musician in LA and Merril a writer in LA -- how much of the story is autobiographical, I couldn't even begin to say.
The book itself was engaging more as a concept than as an actual read -- I mean, who doesn't have a psycho ex (or five) in their past? The characters in the book restrain themselves to a single psycho in their past, instead of branching out to other people. Which I didn't quite buy, but I suppose the choice may have been made for economy. Still, it was an enjoyable enough read.
Andrew Taylor considers the cause and effect of taxation on the arts.
Heads will nod in most rooms where you hear this...especially when all the heads belong to nonprofit organizational leadership or staff. And yet you'll seldom hear a voice asking if any of the above statements are actually true. Tease it out a bit and we all realize that plenty of nonprofits are driven by money (it just happens to be in the form of philanthropy in addition to sales). On the other side, plenty of 'for-profit' organizations are driven by passion and vision -- think of the florist, or the garage band, or the indie record label that never makes a nickel of profit and never seems to care.
- Nonprofits are driven by mission. For-profits are driven by money.
- Nonprofit performances are engaging and ennobling. Commerical entertainment is crass and pandering.
- Nonprofit arts organizations build community. For-profit organizations destroy bonds and values.
It's been my experience that arts groups choose to go non-prof or not almost exclusively for business reasons -- one is more viable than the other, one can bring in a higher cash flow, etc.
If you're heading out to see Rush in concert, this is what you're probably going to get.
About half as much as before, it would seem.
Follow this logic: Mozart made appallingly little money on his music during his short life, and were he still alive today, his royalties would doubtless amount to billions a year. Meanwhile, musical ensembles today have a financial incentive to play dead composers rather than living ones, because they don’t have to pay the dead ones royalties. I’ve always thought we should reverse that: that some ASCAP- or BMI-like organization should collect royalties on music by dead composers, which could then be distributed among the living ones, on the well-established theory that classical composers (at least the good ones) get a lot more performances after they’re dead than while they’re living. You’d need sort of an old-fashioned guild system that composers would have to be inducted into to qualify for the benefits - which ASCAP and BMI already are, to some extent that could be feasibly extended. Today’s composers could be living off of Wagner's and Stravinsky’s divided royalties, and the next generation of composers could live off of our music.
I don't particularly agree with Kyle on this one (although I wouldn't be opposed to taking a cut of the royalities from Mozart -- the film score revenues alone could support me quite well, thank you), but it is an interesting idea.
Salon magazine has what they consider to be the top ten on camera screw-ups. "I'll sue you" and "Leaping lizards" are good ones.
Even copyrighted works can be quoted, so long as the quote isn't so long as to be approaching a totality of the work and the original author is appropriately credited. This is typically referred to as "fair use." This doctrine is coming under assault as of late, though.
Does that mean that some silly copyright holder might sue anyway? Sure! [...]
This is the problem with fair use: It is a gamble. If you were confident that the copyright holder would not care or would not bother for fear of bad publicity, then you could go ahead and use the material as the law intended you to do. But we have all been taught that copyright holders are vultures out for a quick and easy meal. This is not always true.
Fair use is near and dear to my heart -- if you're read this blog for any length of time, you've seen me using it. Heck, the above quote is an example of fair use. A decline in what can be used in this fashion would be a bad thing.
Due to a new FCC regulation, radio and TV broadcasters
are now may be required to keep an archived edition of everything they do for sixty to ninety days. I'm not a fan of this approach; I expect that it will significantly curb any broadcaster's willingness to even risk playing a song (or showing a skit) that might offend someone.
My reasoning? Well, prior to this rule, if someone was going to complain, they had to be recording the broadcast in question. This didn't always happen, of course (How often didn't this happen, you may be asking? Try 1.17%.). Nowadays, all that anyone has to do is write the FCC, say "KBAL did something indecent at 7:25am on Saturday, July 10" and an investigation will follow. Said investigation will cost the station money (in research, lawyers, etc.), so the sheer nuisance value of the potential complaints will cause the station to shy away from taking the risk.
Before any of you get all happy over this possibility ("less smut on the air! yeah!"), try to keep in mind that there is no limit to how this can be applied. A complaint could be lodged for something offensive during a Rush Limbaugh show just as easily as an allegation can be sent in about an incident during a Michael Moore interview.
Also, what about small/indie stations? Most radio/TV groups will probably have the technical means to support this requirement (to warehouse the tapes and/or hard disk space for the archives), but some of the micro stations that the FCC has been trying to encourage may not. Web-based radio stations will probably have the disk space (since it's a streamed medium), but I still suspect that this regulation will probably put some groups out of business.
-- Update --
I changed the post to better reflect the reality of the situation. Thanks for the correction, Kristin.
First, on rappers and the police.
Look, we don't know how we can we make this any clearer. If you're driving round with a car stacked up with guns and drugs, it's probably best not to do stuff to draw attention to yourself. Isn't that simple? And yet, time and time again you get people ignoring what should be a very basic rule: Jadakiss, for example, goes driving with guns and drugs in the glove compartment. But rather than following the rules of the road, being polite and not hogging his lane, the shuntlobe decides to start flinging firecrackers from his window. The inevitable happens - "would you mind opening your door for me, sir... is this your weapon, sir..." yadda yadda... court appearance.
Then, on Beyonce and the Pink Panther.
Beyonce has just been asked by BBC Breakfast what she thought of the original Pink Panther movies (she's appearing in the remake, of course): "Well... I've seen the cartoons..." She's probably be expecting them to overlay a Crazylegs Crane with CGI.
It's hard to believe, I know, but sometimes it happens.
This is one way [link NSFW] to really get into a concert.
"How far are you willing to go to save the world?" asked the [Kristopher Schau, lead singer], and without much ado, the couple pulled off their clothes.
Cumshots [really -- that's the actual name of the band (Casper)] provided the background music as the couple had intercourse right in front of the audience. A banner was raised on stage informing the audience that the couple was having sex to save the rainforest. After completing the intercourse, the couple received applause from the audience and disappeared.
I've seen a lot of strange things at my shows, but I'm not quite sure as to how I would have reacted in this circumstance.
Today must be clip day here at the Musings.
Now this is some serious free time.
Thanks to Cory for the tip.
I think this was supposed to be an infomercial for Winnebago, but I'd be afraid to count just how many f-bombs he lets loose during it. Probably not something you should listen to at work.
The seeds for the song were planted nearly 60 years ago in April 1945 when British soldiers liberated the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Lee’s mother, Manya (now Mary) Rubenstein, was among the survivors. (His father, Morris Weinrib, was liberated from Dachau a few weeks later.) The whole album Grace Under Pressure, says Lee, who was born Gary Lee Weinrib, "is about being on the brink and having the courage and strength to survive."
Though Red Sector A, like much of the album from which it comes, is set in a bleak, apocalyptic future, what Lee calls "the psychology" of the song comes directly from a story his mother told him about the day she was liberated.
"I once asked my mother her first thoughts upon being liberated," Lee says during a phone conversation. "She didn't believe [liberation] was possible. She didn't believe that if there was a society outside the camp how they could allow this to exist, so she believed society was done in."
In listening to the tune, I had gotten the concentration camp metaphor, but I hadn't realized that it was a historical look as well as a nihilistic look forward.
Thanks to Marty for the tip.
Britney Spears, businesswoman:
Pop princess BRITNEY SPEARS is refusing to sign a pre-nuptial agreement before she weds fiance KEVIN FEDERLINE, because she's "marrying him for love and not money".
According to American website PAGESIX.COM, the singer's parents are begging her to agree to a pre-nup ahead of her planned November (04) wedding to dancer Federline - who, under California law, stands to win half her fortune if they divorce.
The website claims Spears, who is worth a reported $100 million (GBP55 million), had to buy her own $400,000 (GBP222,000) engagement ring and has put penniless Federline - who she has dated for just three months - on her payroll.
I think that Simon has a good observation for Ms. Brit:
We wonder if someone should have a quick word with Britney Spears: she's saying she doesn't need a pre-nup for her wedding because she's marrying Kevin Federline for "love not money." Well, of course, you are, you daft boobie; he's not got any money, has he? Britney even had to spring for her own engagement ring, although we do picture Kevin saying "Hey, chicks, I'll pay you back just as soon as I win the pool tournament... could you lend me a ten for some beer?"
George Michael has decided to shut down his fan forums on his site due to negativity in the threads.
He said: "I am afraid that, having visited the forums on a regular basis over the past few months, simply to see how you guys thought the album/ interviews/promotion were going, I have decided to close them down.
"I feel bad for those of you who have always been supportive, but I'm afraid I want nothing to do with the bitching that has evolved between some members... Sorry guys, but that's the way it goes."
The 41-year-old singer who released his first studio album in eight years, Patience, in March, ended the message: "Peace and Love... or nothing at all. Love as always. George xx."
Peave and Love or nothing. Wow, that's a rather strong statement to make, Georgie-boy. My way or the highway, but I'm peaceful and loving about it, even as I throw you out for doing something I don't like.
It's your site, George; feel free to do with it as you see fit. Some of your fans aren't all that happy, though.
One accused Michael of being a 'Control Freeek!' and went on: "It smacks of someone unhappy that we're not all heaping praise on him at every turn...and that's sad."
I use Gracenote rather regularly; it's the database in the backend of most CD ripping software. Wired has a nice review on the service and it's origins.
Thanks to Brad for the tip.
I'm not even sure what SourceNext does (something software/cell phone-ish, I think), but they have some interesting commercials.
For anyone used to the minimum-security-prison ambiance of most rock festivals, it's a surprise to see stocked merchandise tables left unattended at night. But if you take away the safe environment, the reasonably priced food and the sober teenage virgins, Cornerstone is a lot like Ozzfest.
I'll have to take their word for it.
I've spent some time tonight updating the technical structure of the blog in my effort to try and rid myself of wading through comment spam on a regular basis (really, I know that my penis is small and that I could get out of debt by with a home equity loan, but I'm just tired of hearing about it). Soon, I might even get rid of it all together. Well, maybe a lot of it. I'd be happy with a 80% reduction.
Anyway, you might be asking what does this mean to you. Well, almost nothing. The changes should be largely transparent, although some trackbacks might be broken now.
Thanks to Elise for the assistance.
They come to the US seeking to escape the onslaught of Britney Spears and decadent Western music.
There are many like Mr. Zhang, established musicians from China who perform daily in the city's bowels. Convinced that the best music, Western or Asian, is truly borderless and that their own talents are sufficient to make ends meet anywhere, these artists have converged on New York like the philosophers and poets who swarmed to Athens in classical times. They feel not just lured, but pushed; China, in their view, has turned its back on traditional music in favor of the pop dazzle of Britney Spears.
"I want to try my luck in New York," Mr. Zhang, 42, said, speaking in Mandarin. "In China serious artists like us aren't as respected as pop singers. That's not right. Maybe Americans can see the true appeal of Chinese music, and I can make my way to the grand concert halls in New York."
While I'm glad they're around (I rather like traditional Chinese music), I don't know if the US will be all that more a hospitable place for them.
The sales of Christian related merchandise at festivals is big business.
At booths all around [Mr. Lula's] at the festival last month, 91 other vendors spread their wares, mostly Christian CD's, T-shirts and hats (the ones reading "I Love Christian Boys" seemed to be the most popular), in a sprawling bazaar that was part mall, part invitation to witness. The tents cleared only for twice-daily sermons.
Please-please-please tell me that the people buying the "I Heart Christian Boys" caps weren't creepy older men. Or Catholic priests. And please (pretty please, even) tell me that this is a joke:
T-shirts screamed or punned for attention. One shirt declared, "Body Piercing Saved My Life," and showed a hand with a nail through it. Other brisk-sellers said "Jesus Freak" or mimicked the Mountain Dew advertising logo, tweaking the slogan to read, "Do the Jew,'' meaning to emulate Jesus.
As I think I've said before, I like live albums. Prefer them over studio ones, usually. So news that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are going to be releasing a live album soon just warms the cockles of my heart.
Bertlesmann (aka BMG) has announced that they will be offering three different varieties of musical CD in an effort to combat piracy.
Version 1: No-frills. Will "look virtually identical to a pirate copy with only the title printed directly on the disc."
Version 2: Regular. Will "include a cover and lyrics."
Version 3: Luxury. Will have "additional material and video clips."
There will be about a ten dollar spread between the top and the bottom ($9/$12/$18 or so).
I'm not too sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, a cheap version of a disc that I only want for one song might not be a bad thing. On the other hand, I kind of like reading liner notes.
And I'm afraid that the artists are going to get royally screwed by all of this. Most recording contracts have clauses allowing the label to deduct packaging expenses from the artists royalty accounts. These clauses are blanket, so I suspect that a number of artists will have their royalties calculated using the highest margin of expenses (the "luxury" example) regardless of what version of the disc is sold. Which could very easily lead to a situation where the artist might end up owing money for each no-frills copy sold.
Thanks to Simon for the tip.
While I know that just about every organization makes these kinds of choices, it's remarkable that Best Buy is this up front about it.
Some retailers are deciding that the customer can be very, very wrong -- as in unprofitable. And some, including Best Buy Co. Inc., are discriminating between profitable customers and shoppers they lose money on.
Like a customer who ties up a salesworker but never buys anything, or who buys only during big sales. Or one who files for a rebate, then returns the item.
"That would be directly equivalent to somebody going to an ATM and getting money out without putting any in," Brad Anderson, Best Buy's chief executive, said in a recent interview. "Those customers, they're smart, and they're costing us money."
If you were ever wondering what your favorite guitar player uses as his/her setup, wonder no more. Unfortunately (for me), this site seems very heavily skewed towards lead guitarists. Apparently no bass players are guitar geeks.
Although, if you can make a suggestion, I'd be all sorts of interested....
Fans are rebelling against the outdoor amphitheaters, known in the biz as "sheds." These places are cheaper to build and operate than downtown concert halls, but they're inconveniently distant from population centers, and tend to be traffic and parking nightmares. Yet ticket prices have been soaring, in part because most of them are controlled by one company: Yup, Clear Channel. ...
Another problem with the sheds: Indoor venues are better suited to the Vegas-style showmanship that's become common in mainstream pop. "Prince is not going to do what is a relatively sophisticated presentation—a lot of choreography, a lot of lighting—outdoors because it just doesn't translate as well," said Boehlert.
According to this article in the Guardian, a group of Brits sat in a pub and invented the genre of world music.
...[O]n June 29 1987, a group of music enthusiasts involved in the running of independent record labels met in a London pub, The Empress of Russia, to discuss how they might market music from around the world. The group - which included DJ Charlie Gillett, Ian Anderson (now editor of fRoots magazine), record producer Joe Boyd and Iain Scott - decided on a joint campaign to put "world-music" boxes in record stores to promote their products. This would cost just £3,500, financed by 11 indie record labels.
It was a simple decision - but the result has been remarkable. African bands found a new global market, as have Latin musicians (notably Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club) and artists from Asia and Europe. The annual Womad festival (held this year from July 23-25) is always sold out, while Radio 3 devotes considerable air time to world music and hosts the annual world music awards.
The word chutzpah comes to mind. And lots of it.
Thanks to Alex for the tip.
I used to work in bars. About ten years of it, to be precise. I blew a good bit of my hearing working in a bar, not to mention learning how to make lots of different drinks. So when I hear people who work in bars complaining about smoke and such, it beggars belief.
It's a BAR!!! What were you expecting?!? It ain't a health club. That there's things in the environment that just might be unhealthy shouldn't rank as a huge shock.
Finally, I'm not alone. Warren Ellis has his own take on it.
Bar staff complaining that passive smoking poses a health risk to them. So your job is to cajole people to buy tasty poison, break up fights, get bottled, mop up spew, breathe in old mens' aspirated diseases as they bellow for more beer over the counter, deal with a dozen different kinds of physical assault -- and it's passive smoking that's a threat to your health? You don't need new laws -- you need new jobs.
Amen, brother, amen.
Over the long weekend, I joined the hordes of people checking out Spiderman 2. I enjoyed the first one as the summer movie popcorn fest it was, I had heard good things about this flick from quite a few sources, so I had pretty high expectations.
I rather enjoyed this movie. It was a good popcorn summer action flick -- of that, there can be no doubt -- but it also worked as a remarkably faithful adaption of the comic book series. More than just a retelling of the story (an epsiode here or there), this film captured the thematic concept of the Spiderman stories. A kid who doesn't have a charmed life (no invulnerability, no billions of bucks, just a desire to do the right thing) who has to make his way in the world as a real human (job problems, women problems, parent problems) while trying to balance it against what he feels as his calling.
In the sequel, Tobey Maguire gets a chance to actually do some acting, as opposed to just looking sort of stunned and kind of Keanu Reeves like. The best acting of the film is a tie in the same character: Alfred Molina provides a three dimensional, thoughtful villian who's transformation from reasonable scientist to sociopath while remaining the same character is quite remarkable, and the four metal tentacles attached to his body are animated/puppeteered in such a way that they are almost a character to themselves.
Analytical types (and I'm one of them) will have to turn off a good bit of thinking and just suspend disbelief. The laws of physics are contravened so many times that I stopped paying attention to it in fairly short order, and there are some gaping logic holes, like (spoiler warning) if there's one chip that would prevent the robotic arms from taking over the wearer, why leave the chip exposed so that it could get easily damaged? And, for that matter, why were the arms evil? Did someone forget to flip the switch to "good"?
Sam Raimi has set the bar against which all other comic adaptions will be judged (and there are a slew of them coming -- I saw at least four in the previews for this film alone). I'd highly recommend this flick for a big screen showing -- the effects alone are worth the price of admission.
Chad Kroeger might come across as a glum type, but it turns out that behind that grim exterior, there's a brightly coloured waistcoat, "character" socks, a Looney Tunes tie and a complete Colin Hunt just struggling to get out. Chad, it seems, is a bit of a "practical joker" (or, as we call it, a bit of a bully who attempts to disguise his attempts to humiliate his employees as being a bit wacky):
Recently, lead singer Chad Kroeger planned retaliation for a previous prank. It involved the band's bus driver and a lightning storm (which shook the tour bus) and resulted in incriminating photos of the band and crew sitting on top of bags of garbage, protecting themselves from lightning.
"This joke traveled for a good week and a half," Kroeger told The Associated Press during a break before the band's upcoming summer tour.
Oh, my. While we dry our watering eyes, let's just wonder about a man who thinks this isn't only worth doing in the first place, but then - teehee - tells the Associated Press about it and brags that he - giggle giggle - banged on about it for ten bloody days. We know from the records that he's clearly got no idea when something has been milked to death, but this surprises even us.
"The guys say, 'Don't ever do anything to Chad,'" Kroeger joked. "'And make sure he doesn't know where your toothbrush is.'"
Please tell me that Kroeger isn't doing what I think he's doing with those toothbrushes.
Perry Farrel is rather upset that the rest of band broke up Jane's Addiction.
Farrell told Rolling Stone: "Music that was once relevant and graceful had become clumsy as a circus seal tooting his horns.
"I wish for Jane's Addiction to be remembered as one of the seminal bands of her era. She laid a foundation for unbridled underground music to rise up on."
A few days ago, I finished up Victory, by Stephen Coonts. I had picked this up from a remainder pile about a week ago, having read one of his other books at some time in my past. There's a reason why it was in the pile.
To be honest, I'm not sure as to why I continue to grab books from the remainder list. The only reason why books end up there is that the publisher thought it would be more successful than it was (either no one bought it to start with or not as many bought it as originally expected). It must be that siren song of cheap books that just might be good that keeps me hopeful.
This particular book is part, well part x of something or other; I really don't know. It's not all that important. There are enough details of importance from any prior novels that matter sufficiently to this story that I didn't feel I couldn't pick up as I went along (or, if there are, I'm not aware of them). The main thrust of the story is fairly generic techno/military thriller. There's a military situation going on (in this case, four nuclear weapons being smuggled into the US by Islamic terrorists), only a small group of US military can solve the problem (Navy pilots and CIA operatives), and only the US has some super secret technology that will win the day (computer processing of public cameras). Will the four warheads be found in time? Will the various sub-plots of a personal nature to the characters be resolved? I'd say tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channel, but I'm no where near motivated enough to care.
Today, I was spending some time in a Guitar Center. I'd love to find a decent 5 string bass that I could use for most gigs so I wouldn't have to worry about using one of my good basses at a show and having some slob spilling beer on the fretboard, kicking the guitar off the stand or, even worse, out and out stealing it when no one was looking.
Anyway, I picked up a five string Ibanez and was tooling around with it. This particular bass was decent enough -- okay action, reasonable neck, average electronics, respectable tone. After I had played it for a bit, I was killing some time, waiting on the sales guy to get back to me with a cost (as it turns out, not a very good one. The purchase will have to wait for a bit). I started to noodle around a bit with the Red Hot Chili Peppers' version of Higher Ground. I've been playing that song for a decade (give or take), so I'm extremely familar with the ins and outs of it.
While I was playing, I looked up and noticed this kid peeking around the corner, staring at me. When he caught my eye, he said something like "I've always wanted to know how to do that." So I offered to teach him real quickly, if he had the time.
We walked through the basics of thumping and of slapping (Thank you, Anthony for being a great teacher; I took a lot of what you taught me and returned it as best I could). How to strike the thumb against the strings towards the end of the neck to get the right percussive effect, how to pluck the string without wasting effort or grabbing too much string, things like that.
As we were playing, he told me that he was really a guitarist, but he had always wanted to play bass instead. Hopefully, this little session might have let him see the light.
When you buy a tune from iTunes, you should probably be aware that you're not getting quite what you think you are:
Customers are led to believe that they are getting a CD in all respects except the trouble of going to the mall. The iTunes store does not warn about the permanence of its method of compression; once freeze-dried, there is no way to reconstitute the music into CD quality for playing through a good stereo.
Ah, for simpler times, when we never had reason to look up the bit rate at which music is digitally sampled for CD's: 1,378 kilobits per second. The bit rate for iTunes, 128, is so low that when played side by side against the original, the difference is audible not only to audio enthusiasts, but also to mortals with ordinary hearing. Wes Phillips, contributing editor at Stereophile, says "128 is like an eight-track," and he describes the combination of iPod and iTunes as "buying a 21st-century device to live in the 1970's."
More details on the process can be found here.
Or is this just part of the strategy of the RIAA? We'll let you buy "music" online, but we'll give it to you at less quality (over ten times less, to be accurate), so that you'll probably go out and buy the album anyway. The industry gets to sell the same song twice, the consumer ends up not being all that happy with the online experience (which also fits with the RIAA model) and, well, at least the label walks away happy.
In the last decade, Maria Schneider, who regularly wins prizes for best composer and best big-band arranger in jazz, has made three albums on the Enja record label. Each sold about 20,000 copies — very good numbers for jazz. She didn't make a dime off any of them. On two of them, she lost money.
So recently, she went off the grid. She became the first musician to sign with a company called ArtistShare. Rather than go through labels, distributors and retailers, ArtistShare sells discs over the Web and turns over all the proceeds (minus a small fee) to the artist.
I don't know how useful this sort of deal would be for any music group/musician that wasn't already established and had somewhat of a built in fan base to buy the releases -- one of the main purposes of the major labels is to do the marketing, get the word out about the new music and make the arrangements with the retail shops (which are still the biggest sales pipeline in the world) to get the CD into the stores.
A rememberance of the fire that killed 100 a year ago.
A good word (or two) of caution about those seemingly legal mp3 services.
What these sites sell is something you can get for free from any number of Web sites: client software for accessing P2P networks such as Kazaa, WinMX, and Gnutella, along with some simple instructions on how to use them. As for the $25 charge to your credit card? None of that goes to the record labels, as some users might assume. That money generally goes to Internet entrepreneurs (actually, they're closer to parasites) who developed none of the software or the networks their so-called products use. As for you? The fact that you paid $25 to some guy in Romania changes nothing except your bank account balance. Your potential legal risk of being sued by the RIAA for making music available for sharing is unchanged.
Hopefully, the day will come when record labels start licensing their music to P2P networks so that those services can sell legal access to them. But for now, sites such as My-Free-Music.com are 100 percent bogus.
To celebrate the 20th year anniversary of Purple Rain, Prince held a concert in New Orleans (at the Superdome) that featured Shelia E, Morris Day and the Time, as well as Lisa Coleman (of Wendy and Lisa and The Revolution fame), Larry Graham, Chaka Khan and Doug E. Fresh.
Thanks to Xeni for the tip.
The Concert Companion, though, is aimed mostly at people who haven't gone to many concerts. My working theory goes something like this: For some, at least, of these people, classical music seems something like a blur. It all sounds very nice, but at first it's hard to separate one moment from another. The more I describe the essence of each moment, at least as I feel it, the easier it will be for people to get some handle on the music, and begin to hear what's going on as the sound flows and changes. The people using the Companion don't seem to object to this. What some of them did object to, at the New York tests, was me telling them that certain moments were wonderful or dazzling. That struck them, I was fascinated to learn, as either gushing or patronizing. So I learned (with thanks to all the people who spoke so honestly about their objections) to write more calmly, but still with plenty of personal feeling.
The point, after all, is to call attention to those background woodwinds, so that people hear more than just the surface of the music. And I can't see any way of doing that without saying something about what the woodwinds are doing. I can't just say, "Listen to them." Because then people might ask, "Listen to them doing what?" A precise technical description of what they're doing in that passage would be very hard to write, very verbose (far too long for a single Concert Companion screen), and also, come to think of it, not precise at all, because there aren't any technical terms to describe what's going on. The winds don't play a counterpoint, but are something more than an accompaniment -- which, by the way, I can't say in Companion commentary, because the people the Companion is for won't know what these words mean. (Or even the concepts. The idea that there's material that stands strongly on its own, even if it's subordinate, and other material that simply fades into the background to accompany the things it's subordinate to -- you need a fair amount of musical experience just to think in these terms.)
So I find the Concert Companion very promising. And useful, too, based on the simplest of criteria -- the people it's designed for (orchestras, and the audience) find it useful. What its future is, beyond all this, is hard to say. I'll just repeat something I've suggested before -- as classical music starts to change, it's not helpful (and maybe even dangerous) to try to guess how the changes will work, or which of them will turn out to be lasting. We just have to try things, and see what happens.
“I don’t agree with the copyright laws and I don’t have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it with people as long as they’re not trying to make a profit off my labour. I would oppose that,” he said.
“I do well enough already and I made this film because I want the world, to change. The more people who see it the better, so I’m happy this is happening.”
However, since the studio actually owns the rights to the movie, Moore's opinion doesn't really matter in this case.
Some good suggestions for any musician thinking of setting up their own website.
The three of us got together over at Brett's to go over some material. Given that we have a show coming up, we're starting to write less, choosing instead to focus more on getting what we have already written tighter.
We started off going over some of our older tunes, like Luis, Waiting For Rain, Brazilian Café, Talking Strings and Sampa Pati. For one thing, we haven't played them in a while, so it's good to refresh our memory. For another thing, they serve as a decent warmup.
Once we got that down, then we revisited Red Leaves and Indigo. Both of these tunes are really hard for me to play on my Kubicki -- the action of this bass is set very high, which is appropriate for most fretless playing but hard on thumping. And with the heavy tap routine of Indigo on an unlined fretless, my ear and my intonation are getting a heavy workout.
Five, on the other hand, works really well played fretless -- I think I'm going to go ahead and make that switch. The tone of the fretless bass speaks very clearly through the mix. I personally think that well played fretless bass is one of the most pretty instruments in any band: it can make you smile with the mirth of the approach, weep with the tone or sway to the groove (depending on the musician, of course). Mind you, I'm not saying that I can play a fretless like this, but I'm working on it.
Brett and I worked on the rhythm for Five a bit. Brett changed the drumline such that the 1 always starts with a kick drum. I think this gives better continuity to the song. We also worked on the transitions for awhile. The switch from 15/8 to 4/4 is not going very easily. I can so clearly hear this in my head, though. I think I might try programming a version of it on my machine to see if I can better express what I'm hearing.
After a few hours, we broke for the day. We talked about a new name for a bit. I think that we are probably going to change the name of the band to The Canvas; it's not a runaway smash, but we like it better than Fire On Ice, and it has lots of options for visual imagery.
David Crosby gets fined for possessing a firearm, a knife and marijuana.
A little slideshow for your edu-fi-cation.
Thanks to Gerd for the tip.
Adults having proms. WTF?!?
...[T]he people who do dress up go for it. "I've done about six corsages for people who are going to pretend proms," says Zofia Zak of M&M Florist in — where else? — Williamsburg, that locus of all things ridiculously ironic. "I make them together with the ones for the children in school."
Zak says the average age of "pretend prom" customers is between 30 and 40, and they ask "for the funny stuff — black ribbons, butterflies, feathers."
A few things here.
Thanks to Gawker for the tip.
The judge in this instance has a unquenchable sense of optimism. Weiland pleaded nolo contendre to a DUI and was ordered to go to drug rehab. Yeah, that worked ever so well the times before.
ARIA (Austrailia's version of the RIAA) has started to step back from the hard line on digital music.
Australian Record Industry Association chief executive officer, Stephen Peach, told ZDNet UK sister site ZDNet Australia: "We certainly don't agree consumers should have the statutory right to simply make copies, we think that right should rest in the copyright owner. However, the industry is exploring a variety of means where controlled copying by consumers can be implemented".
They're not quite there yet, but it's positive motion, and that's a good thing, right? And do you think I could get a few more commas into these sentences?
Towards the bottom of this article on the current spate of music documentaries comes a list of rare documentaries on music luminaries. These movies sound like they'd be fairly interesting:
Eat the Document (filmed 1966)
Bob Dylan's 1966 British tour was a flashpoint in rock history: he had "gone electric", and nightly faced baying mobs of livid folkies. Yet the film of the event - directed by DA Pennebaker, who was responsible for 1965's acclaimed Dylan documentary Don't Look Back - has rarely been seen, thus denying the public the chance to see a drugged-out Dylan attempting to interview John Lennon in the back of a limousine. Dylan is verbally decimated by the unimpressed Beatle, then throws up in the back of the car.
Cocksucker Blues (filmed 1972)
It was Mick Jagger's idea to film the Rolling Stones' 1972 US tour, his enthusiasm undaunted by the fact that the last time the Stones had been filmed, at their 1969 Altamont concert, the cameras had captured the murder of an audience member. However, even Jagger was horrified by Cocksucker Blues: a parade of debauchery that includes Keith Richards nodding out on heroin and telling Jagger about how to snort coke properly, and an orgy in a private plane. Suppressed by the group, the film has gone on to become perhaps the most infamous rock documentary in history.
And, if anyone knows where I can find a copy, please feel free to share the love.
Thanks to Coolfer for the tip.
First off, the installation went fairly well, a pretty clean install process (and I've been through many software installs that were not). The software seems to bind itself to a specific machine through some mechanism (I'm not immediately sure as to how -- perhaps to the Intel processor identification code?). Accordingly, I don't think that anything I would download using Connect would work on another Connect-enabled machine I would also happen to own.
Opening an account (which seems to be required if you were to want to actually download any music) asks for credit card information. This wasn't required, but it bothered me that they were even asking. I would think you might ask for a credit card if a customer actually tried to buy something -- I know I don't hand my Visa to a cashier as soon as I set foot in my local record shop.
I entered the free coupons I had from McDonald's (I had been back once or twice since that initial outing), only to discover that you could only redeem two coupons per day. I didn't know that there needed to be a waiting period for music downloads; the guy from Super Size Me must be furious.
With my coupons in hand (2x$.99!!), I started to hunt for some music to download. Not a lot of luck, though. No Victor Wooten at all; some Flecktones, but nothing that I didn't already have; Norm Stockton is not represented, nor was David Dyson or Oteil Burbridge. Connect doesn't seem to be all that bass player friendly.
I decided to check out how Connect would do with some more standards. There were some tunes from the Beatles, but not the one for which I was looking. I did grab a song from Mike Stern which I hadn't heard before (Play, although once I did hear it, I realized that Stern had played the piece at one of the shows I have attended) and a different version of the Sting song I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Cryin'.
Once the two songs were downloaded, I found out that I can only play it within the Connect software -- I can't use my usual player. The player built into Connect is good enough and all, but Connect has a much larger footprint than WinAmp does.
For the technical geekish who might be reading, I did a little detective work on the software. I discovered where the Sony software writes the files (<user>/Application Data/Sony Corporation/SonicStage/Contents/<song name>) and the format (oma). I also found that the Connect software was written using a considerable amount of MS tools (witness the Access database file that make up the "backup", the csv file that provides help). I haven't taken the time to hunt through my registry to see what it did or didn't do there, mostly because I don't care enough to check it out. I don't see me using this software as anything other than a way to try out music that I was already inclined to buy via these free things from McD's. Once that promotion ends, my use of Connect will end with it.
Basically, Connect is good for previewing music and not much more. You can only listen to what you buy on the same machine on which you make the purchase. You can't take it with you (unless it's on a ATRAC compatible CD). Does someone want to explain to me what the positive benefits of this product would be?
Because, for some reason, there seems to be a connection between being well-known and the assumption that this must make you a designer, Christina is going to be given the chance to design her own range of panties. We're picturing Mike Baldwin opening an envelope one morning, sliding out a sheet of paper, and discovering the words "Crotchless Thongs" crayoned thereupon.
Why is it that pop stars set their sights so low, designing clothes and the odd handbag? Why doesn't someone get Kim Deal to design a diving bell, or approach Britney Spear to rustle up some plans for a prefab school that could be used in Africa? After all, if singing suddenly endows Gwen Steffani with the skills of a clothes designer - something that most people have to spend three or four years studying to develop the skills for - why not see what other magic design skills are endowed upon people with pretty faces and voices?
Rachel Stevens says "It's odd, until my first solo record I had no idea what sort of steel was best used in load-bearing lintels; one trot out on Top of the Pops and I suddenly realised exactly how to design a house to maximise light and space while minimising the demand for fuels."
Cause of death is being withheld at this time. Brando was 80.
Andrew Leonard explains his feelings towards digital music
Ease of access enriches our lives. I am not just a happier consumer now; I am a better consumer, more discerning, more informed, more confident to pull the trigger on a purchase. I read a review of an album on the day it comes out, and before night has fallen, I own it -- something that rarely happened before. Previously, by the time I got to the record store, I had long forgotten the positive reviews I might have read. And listening to so much music feeds a virtuous cycle: The more I hear, the more I want to hear.
But the record industry still doesn't get it. A couple of nights ago, I searched iTunes for the song "Days Go By" by Dirty Vegas. I found it, but was annoyed to learn that it had been designated as "album only." In other words, I could not purchase the song for 99 cents -- I had to buy the whole album. So, naturally, I bought nothing at all. I don't like having my arm twisted. Again, I'm not a file-trader, but that kind of heavy-handed bait-and-switch treatment might very well encourage me to look for the song on Kazaa or to ask a friend to burn it for me. So now the studio, the artist, the song writer and the retail outlet are all out their percentage of my purchase.
This kind of behavior is a microcosm of everything that the industry has been doing wrong for years. I won't buy CDs that I can't rip to my hard drive. If legislation is passed that outlaws my CD burner and prevents me from making mixes for my friends, I'll return to my cloistered past, unaware and unengaged with all the music being created in the world. And if I'm exposed to less music, I'll buy less music.
Starting in August, the RIAA will recognize downloads (the legal kind, one can only presume) when tabulating Gold (100k units moved) and Platinum (200k units) status for a single.
For some strange reason, Gary Pusateri got upset when the $15,000 he bid at a charity auction was to allow him the privilege of eating in the same restaurant as the singer, instead of actually at the same table.
Pusateri dined in the same Little Italy restaurant as Bennett, but on a separate floor. Hopkins officials blamed an inaccurate script that was given to the auctioneer for creating the impression that the winning bidder would dine with the singer.
Bennett, who wasn't aware of the auction, demanded Wednesday that Pusateri get his money back. [my emphasis]
I'm glad that Pusateri was refunded his money (which he then donated back to the hospital -- he sounds like a real stand-up kinda guy). What I really find surprising is that Bennett wasn't even aware of the auction. You would think he might be just a wee bit upset that someone was using his name like that.
Thanks to Simon for the tip.
Sony, with great fanfare, released their new digital music portable music player, which they are also calling "Walkman." Then they go and set it up so that it will not play mp3s. Did Sony go and hire the same guy who designed the Newton for Apple?
A fairly challenging flash based logic/puzzle game.
Thanks to Max for the tip.
Take a gander at what she thinks you should give her for showing up.
Just the two of us for the evening -- Brett couldn't make it up. We had a fairly short night of it, just going over the two new tunes (Indigo and Five). We worked on the blocking for a little bit, and then talked about a possible new name for the band (how does Canvas grab you?). We also talked about doing a world/jazz cover of another song. The most recent one that I've heard (and that's on my mind) was Marcus' take on the Beatle's Come Together. I started noddling with the heavy funk groove, and Shahin liked what he heard, so I think we're probably going to do that one.
Dan Glickman steps in to take over from Jack Valenti.
I've got mine. Do you? You know you want your own trunk monkey.
Thanks to Eugene for the tip.
An analysis from Pop Matters.
Many of the acts chosen for this year's tour were long on critical credibility but short on drawing interest from the all important 18-24-year-old demographic. Between Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey, Flaming Lips, Modest Mouse, Wilco, Pixies, Morrissey and Michael Franti there is at least a hundred years of touring and industry experience amongst these bands, and no less than fifty albums amongst these groups and their previous incarnations. What becomes evident from looking at past rosters is that Lollapalooza has become a place for developing acts to make a name for themselves.
Thanks to Mark for the tip.
For some reason only known to the various gods, the first song from Fantasia (of American Idol fame) debuts at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Unfortunately, I was not selected to attend Bass Camp this year. For those that did make it, congradulations. And I hate you all, so very much (said in my best Cartman imitation).
And a special congradulations to Rob, who was accepted.
Two online mp3 files from Fluxblog that you should make some time to check out.
First up, we got Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby (yes, that Bill Cosby) doing this smokin' late 60's jazz groove that I'm totally diggin'. Cosby scats along the tune like a funky mofo that you would have never thought him to be.
Then we've got Fiona Apple's new tune. I'm not really sure as to how you would classify it. It's a departure from her previous albums, more upbeat and not so introverted. I enjoyed it, though.
Get 'em while they're hot.
The overall music industry is improving (7% in the US, 3% in the UK so far this year) thanks to online music sales and ringtone sales.
The recovery has been fuelled partly by the spread of download services such as Apple's iTunes, launched outside the US this month. "We think this is the digital music store that Europe has been waiting for," said Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple. In its first week, Apple sold 450,000 tracks in the UK, augmenting the 70m already sold in the US since its launch last year.
The somewhat obscure headline references a legal theorem -- if you're a television station and you are actively editing what is broadcast over your equipment, then you can be held liable for that content. However, if you're like the telephone system and you are not monitoring the traffic at all, you are not liable.
Canada's Supreme Court has decided their ISPs fall within the latter category. I'm glad that they came to this conclusion, (which seemed intuitively obvious to me).