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Current Topic: Music

The Sun Online - News: Why we must close the net
Topic: Music 7:51 pm EDT, Aug  1, 2007

POP legend Sir Elton John wants the internet CLOSED DOWN.

Never one to keep his opinions to himself, the Rocket Man has waded into cyberspace with all guns blazing.

He claims it is destroying good music, saying: “The internet has stopped people from going out and being with each other, creating stuff.

“Instead they sit at home and make their own records, which is sometimes OK but it doesn’t bode well for long-term artistic vision.

“We’re talking about things that are going to change the world and change the way people listen to music and that’s not going to happen with people blogging on the internet.

“Hopefully the next movement in music will tear down the internet.

“I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span.

“There’s too much technology available.

“I’m sure, as far as music goes, it would be much more interesting than it is today.”

The singer also announced earlier this year that his entire back catalogue of albums would be made available for digital download.

Because clearly the Internet was the reason his last album only sold 100,000 units...

The Sun Online - News: Why we must close the net

Music industry attacks Sunday newspaper's free Prince CD | Guardian Unlimited
Topic: Music 9:44 am EDT, Jul  2, 2007

The eagerly awaited new album by Prince is being launched as a free CD with a national Sunday newspaper in a move that has drawn widespread criticism from music retailers.

"It's all about giving music for the masses and he believes in spreading the music he produces to as many people as possible," said Mail on Sunday managing director Stephen Miron. "This is the biggest innovation in newspaper promotions in recent times."

Prince is not stupid. Quite the contrary, actually. He knows where he makes his real money. For artists of his caliber, that's live performance and broadcast royalties.

One music store executive described the plan as "madness" while others said it was a huge insult to an industry battling fierce competition from supermarkets and online stores. Prince's label has cut its ties with the album in the UK to try to appease music stores.

The Entertainment Retailers Association said the giveaway "beggars belief". "It would be an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career," ERA co-chairman Paul Quirk told a music conference. "It would be yet another example of the damaging covermount culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music.

"The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores. And I say that to all the other artists who may be tempted to dally with the Mail on Sunday."

High street music giant HMV was similarly scathing about the plans. Speaking before rumours of a giveaway were confirmed, HMV chief executive Simon Fox said: "I think it would be absolutely nuts. I can't believe the music industry would do it to itself. I simply can't believe it would happen; it would be absolute madness."

The record industry is scared shitless. They are at the point where they have to try new things. Teaming up with newspapers is an interesting idea. When it comes to entertainment, the Sunday papers and the weekly papers are the ones that must out innovate each other.

All the players here are correct that the perception of the economic value of music is broken. Rather, it's just downright lost now. People place emotional value on music, and always will. As it stands right now, the only place people still place economic value is in the direct connection you get with the artist when seeing them perform live.

People used to have strong bonds with record labels, buying new releases off certain labels, just based on track record. Now, both average and non-average music consumers hold nothing but vile for the labels. If the retail stores manage to make the artists hate them, then it's game over for them that much faster.

The big retail music store is going to die. I don't see a way for it to continue existing. I think Starbucks is drilling down the right direction. The future environment in which people are going to share music is the coffee house..

Ponder the idea of a Starbucks/iTunes partnership for a moment.. When at a Starbucks, downloads are 20% cheaper. They make up the money in saving bandwidth costs by having cache boxen on site. Starbucks makes money from having more people around, who will obviously buy decaffeinated stuff. The possibility exists that neat environments would spring into existence, where people sit around talking about music and giving each other recommendations.

Music industry attacks Sunday newspaper's free Prince CD | Guardian Unlimited

South Jersey city wants to claim a birthright | Asbury Park Press
Topic: Music 5:50 pm EDT, Jun 21, 2007

Bill Haley was a small-time disc jockey and unsuccessful country and western singer when he took up a six-nights-a-week gig at the Twin Bar in this gritty industrial city.

Soon, he started messing around with rhythm and blues and the sound he created there in 1951 and 1952 made him one of the first stars of rock 'n' roll.

But do his appearances here qualify as the birth of the genre?

Officials in Gloucester City and Camden County think so. They also think claiming ownership of such historic trivia could help the city's redevelopment efforts and even attract a few tourists.

Wildwood, N.J.; Cleveland; Hattiesburg, Miss.; Galveston, Texas; and Memphis, Tenn. also claim the title as the birthplace. Until now, though, Gloucester City had not been part of the conversation.

Steve Martorano, who has lived all his 78 years in Gloucester City and remembers going to the Twin Bar at 16 or 17, doesn't remember a lot about the Haley or the other performers.

"I used to listen to the music sometimes," he said, "and we used to get into rowdy fights sometimes."

Now, that's rock 'n' roll.

South Jersey city wants to claim a birthright | Asbury Park Press

Daniel J. Levitin - It Was 40 Years Ago Today -
Topic: Music 6:23 pm EDT, Jun  3, 2007

Great songs seem as though they've always existed, that they weren't written by anyone. Figuring out why some songs and not others stick in our heads, and why we can enjoy certain songs across a lifetime, is the work not just of composers but also of psychologists and neuroscientists. Every culture has its own music, every music its own set of rules. Great songs activate deep-rooted neural networks in our brains that encode the rules and syntax of our culture's music. Through a lifetime of listening, we learn what is essentially a complex calculation of statistical probabilities (instantiated as neural firings) of what chord is likely to follow what chord and how melodies are formed.

Skillful composers play with these expectations, alternately meeting and violating them in interesting ways. In my laboratory, we've found that listening to a familiar song that you like activates the same parts of the brain as eating chocolate, having sex or taking opiates. There really is a sex, drugs and rock-and-roll part of the brain: a network of neural structures including the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala. But no one song does this for everyone, and musical taste is both variable and subjective.

To a neuroscientist, the longevity of the Beatles can be explained by the fact that their music created subtle and rewarding schematic violations of popular musical forms, causing a symphony of neural firings from the cerebellum to the prefrontal cortex, joined by a chorus of the limbic system and an ostinato from the brainstem. To a musician, each hearing showcases nuances not heard before, details of arrangement and intricacy that reveal themselves across hundreds or thousands of performances and listenings. The act we've known for all these years is still in style, guaranteed to raise a smile, one hopes for generations to come. I have to admit, it's getting better all the time.

Daniel J. Levitin - It Was 40 Years Ago Today -

The Counterpoint to Trent Reznor's Comments in The Herald Sun
Topic: Music 4:30 am EDT, May 27, 2007

This is all well and good because Trent is an established artist that definitely has a core audience that will purchase whatever he releases. Given the fact that his releases (upto the last two years) have had 5 year intervals, then the label is going to be even more likely to jack his retail price up. They've got to make as much hay while the sun is shining.

What's missing in this story is the fact that he's gotten tremendous marketing and placement since after PHM hit platinum in 1990. Most artists don't get nearly the kind of promotion that he's gotten over his career. Let's not even talk about the fact that his debut album had two of the worlds most successful producers working on it as well, something that could've only been organized by TVT. Let's also not forget that despite being engaged in a lawsuit with Trent, TVT still promoted the hell out of Broken because it was in their best interest to do so. While Trent didn't make as much money from TVT as he might could've, he made enough to situate himself in a good place and took advantage of a great tour to up his brand with fans.

If he were to have to break into today's marketplace, there's no way that he would be so cavalier about how he would distribute his work. He's forgetting that the $10M+ that he's netting after each world tour comes from the fact that he's gotten such good promotion release after release. If he was starting from scratch again, he'd still be doing the opening slot for Jesus and Mary Chain and Peter Murphy and barely able to pay for the tour. This notion of him even being ABLE to make a living using this method of distribution is insulting because it uses revisionist history as its basis. The fact is, like most established artists, his cost basis for producing further releases is much closer to zero due to his investment in millions of dollars in studio infrastructure and ability to attract top engineering talent from his brand name. Those assets came from the fact that major labels have invested in him from the beginning and he's been rewarded for generating good returns on that investment.

I'm not a big fan of the major labels and their business practices. The system needs to change and the models are anachronistic at best. But they do provide a critical function in the value chain and that is promotion and marketing. It's ridiculous for an artist to say that they are completely unnecessary when they've been the benefactor of that marketing machine.

This is great commentary. This is the counterpoint. It's all valid.

The space between Trent's comments and flynn23's post is the battleground in the current music marketplace.

The Counterpoint to Trent Reznor's Comments in The Herald Sun

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails | Herald Sun
Topic: Music 3:19 pm EDT, May 26, 2007

On the other hand, you got record labels that are doing everything they can to piss people off and rip them off. I created a little issue down here because the first thing I did when I got to Sydney is I walk into HMV, the week the record's out, and I see it on the rack with a bunch of other releases. And every release I see: $21.99, $22.99, $24.99. And ours doesn't have a sticker on it. I look close and 'Oh, it's $34.99'. So I walk over to see our live DVD Beside You in Time, and I see that it's also priced six, seven, eight dollars more than every other disc on there. And I can't figure out why that would be.

Q: Did you have a word to anyone?

Well, in Brisbane I end up meeting and greeting some record label people, who are pleasant enough, and one of them is a sales guy, so I say "Why is this the case?" He goes "Because your packaging is a lot more expensive". I know how much the packaging costs -- it costs me, not them, it costs me 83 cents more to have a CD with the colour-changing ink on it. I'm taking the hit on that, not them. So I said "Well, it doesn't cost $10 more". "Ah, well, you're right, it doesn't. Basically it's because we know you've got a core audience that's gonna buy whatever we put out, so we can charge more for that. It's the pop stuff we have to discount to get people to buy it. True fans will pay whatever". And I just said "That's the most insulting thing I've heard. I've garnered a core audience that you feel it's OK to rip off? F--- you'. That's also why you don't see any label people here, 'cos I said 'F--- you people. Stay out of my f---ing show. If you wanna come, pay the ticket like anyone else. F--- you guys". They're thieves. I don't blame people for stealing music if this is the kind of s--- that they pull off.

Q: Given all that, do you have any idea how to approach the release of your next album?

I've have one record left that I owe a major label, then I will never be seen in a situation like this again. If I could do what I want right now, I would put out my next album, you could download it from my site at as high a bit-rate as you want, pay $4 through PayPal. Come see the show and buy a T-shirt if you like it. I would put out a nicely packaged merchandise piece, if you want to own a physical thing. And it would come out the day that it's done in the studio, not this "Let's wait three months" bulls---.

Reznor seems to be getting pissed off about all the right things these days...

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails | Herald Sun

Linkin Park's Mysterious Cyberstalker
Topic: Music 5:27 pm EDT, May 15, 2007

One afternoon, Talinda discovered that she couldn't log on to her eBay account because the password had been changed. Soon after, she got an email from PayPal reporting that someone was trying to change the password to that account. Though such emails are often spam, sent by cyber criminals in an attempt to "phish" for user data, a call to PayPal confirmed it was real. No one had taken the Benningtons' money, but someone was trying to gain access. The PayPal rep told her to notify her local police.

"This person is hacking into everything," Talinda thought. "Are they watching me now? Are they here?"

In August, Chester got an automated text message from Verizon Wireless, his cell phone provider, confirming a new password for his online account. Like most phone companies, Verizon allows subscribers to manage their accounts on the Internet and view lists of incoming and outgoing calls. To open this type of account, users need only go online, fill out a form, and choose a password.

But Chester had never opened an online account for his Verizon mobile phone; he got his bills the old-fashioned way, by snail mail. So why was Verizon confirming a password change?

Suspicious, Chester and Talinda logged on and changed the password, promptly receiving an SMS verification of their change. Then another notification informed them that the password had been changed again. So the couple changed it back and got another confirmation. When they got yet another text message announcing yet another change they had not made, the Benningtons logged on and found a question written in the space where the password should have been.

"Who is doing this to you?" it read.

"Artist 2.0", meet "Fan 2.0".

Linkin Park's Mysterious Cyberstalker

NYT | Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog
Topic: Music 5:20 pm EDT, May 15, 2007

This New Your Times article by Clive Thompson explores "Artist 2.0", the new shape taken by the musical b-list on the Internet.

"Artist 2.0" ... what a buzzword.

NYT | Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog

Johnny Strange | Download these tracks, or rock n' roll gets it...
Topic: Music 6:35 am EDT, May  7, 2007

A number of MemeStreamers will remember becoming acquainted with Johnny Strange several years ago in NYC while HOPE was going on. A gang of us dropped in on him in the studio, hung out for a few, and (of course) caused a bunch of trouble. We wound up getting trapped in an elevator, kicked off the roof of a building by the Secret Service, and completely fucking plastered at the Molly Wee. It was a fun night.

Anyway, some of you are already in tune with The Strange, and some of you are not. All of you need to cruise over to Johnny's MySpace page and download his latest tracks. Otherwise, rock n' roll will die, and it will be all your fault.

Do you want the death of rock on your conscience? I didn't fucking think so... So, go and buy some tracks from an independent artist that doesn't suck, or shut the hell up and stop complaining about the current state of music.

Eventually we will get an Internet radio kinda thing going on that makes it possible to taste bands' music beyond little clips, without having to initially buy whole tracks. It will be recommendation driven, so you can depend on the hip to clue you into stuff. You'll wind up paying for it somehow too, so indie artists can actually make some money. Bands have all kinds of expenses. Stuff like guitar strings, whiskey, condoms, and pot.

In the meantime, while all this is getting worked out, buy some tracks from independent artists occasionally. Seriously.

Johnny Strange | Download these tracks, or rock n' roll gets it...

Slashdot | Court Rules Playlist Customization Is Not Interactive
Topic: Music 5:55 pm EDT, Apr 30, 2007

The court decision determined that recommendation algorithms that rely on usage data to build playlists server-side are still eligible for broadcast license, thereby substantially lowering the costs of operating a music recommendation site.

MemeStreams could generate agent based music under the compulsary license. The Industrial Memetics conspiracy is functioning perfectly. Muhahaha. :)

Slashdot | Court Rules Playlist Customization Is Not Interactive

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