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The Progressive Review
The recording industry vs. music
A nine year old piano player wipes out America's Got Talent
Punk & protest: Music and action
Fight for the Future
Nowhere Boy: John Lennon's childhood. Set in Liverpool 1955
Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
As a musician with more than 40 years of gigs behind me I know that among the many services of music is to say things we can't find the words for - perhaps not yet or perhaps ever. As a writer with over 40 years of gigs behind me I am still often humbled by what a better job music sometimes does of it.
After spending thousands of years building libraries of donated books, why do governments try to tear them down when they happen spontaneously online?
Why can't I give money directly to every musician I like, instead of paying Apple or Spotify and leaving virtually nothing in the pockets of the artists?
How is it possible that singing "Happy Birthday" in public is still illegal, and why does anyone stand by these laws?
Will every kid growing up in every developing country have access to every book ever made, as soon as they get a smartphone? Or will the books cost $12, an impossible expense for a poor kid?
Why have we all been sitting idly while the movie and music lobbyists have been systematically advancing legislation that strips freedoms, blocks innovation, and exclusively advances Hollywood's financial agenda?
The GEMA, the German musical copyright monitoring body, has written to 36,000 of the nursery schools telling them they have to fork out to photocopy song texts and to keep a proper record of which ones are sung.
RIAA pays its president $3 million: We forget. . .what song did he write or record?
RECORDING INDUSTRY ONCE SANG A DIFFERENT TUNE ON PERSONAL CD COPYING
BOING BOING - Dan Gillmor points out that the recording industry used to have a different opinion on personal use. It removed the following statement from its website: "If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that's great. It's your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail."
Gillmor adds: "Also, from the Supreme Court oral arguments in the Grokster case, Donald Virrelli, on behalf of the entertainment companies: 'The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it's been on their Website for some time now, that it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod. There is a very, very significant lawful commercial use for that device, going forward.'"
MARC FISHER, WASH POST - Despite more than 20,000 lawsuits filed against music fans in the years since they started finding free tunes online rather than buying CDs from record companies, the recording industry has utterly failed to halt the decline of the record album or the rise of digital music sharing.
Still, hardly a month goes by without a news release from the industry's lobby, the Recording Industry Association of America, touting a new wave of letters to college students and others demanding a settlement payment and threatening a legal battle.
Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.
RECORDING INDUSTRY DESTROYING THE SOUND OF MUSIC
ROBERT LEVINE, ROLLING STONE- David Bendeth, a producer who works with rock bands like Hawthorne Heights and Paramore, knows that the albums he makes are often played through tiny computer speakers by fans who are busy surfing the Internet. So he's not surprised when record labels ask the mastering engineers who work on his CDs to crank up the sound levels so high that even the soft parts sound loud.
Over the past decade and a half, a revolution in recording technology has changed the way albums are produced, mixed and mastered almost always for the worse. "They make it loud to get [listeners'] attention," Bendeth says. Engineers do that by applying dynamic range compression, which reduces the difference between the loudest and softest sounds in a song. Like many of his peers, Bendeth believes that relying too much on this effect can obscure sonic detail, rob music of its emotional power and leave listeners with what engineers call ear fatigue. "I think most everything is mastered a little too loud," Bendeth says. "The industry decided that it's a volume contest."
Producers and engineers call this "the loudness war," and it has changed the way almost every new pop and rock album sounds. But volume isn't the only issue. Computer programs like Pro Tools, which let audio engineers manipulate sound the way a word processor edits text, make musicians sound unnaturally perfect. And today's listeners consume an increasing amount of music on MP3, which eliminates much of the data from the original CD file and can leave music sounding tinny or hollow. "With all the technical innovation, music sounds worse," says Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, who has made what are considered some of the best-sounding records of all time. "God is in the details. But there are no details anymore.". . .
It's the same technique used to make television commercials stand out from shows. And it does grab listeners' attention but at a price. Last year, Bob Dylan told Rolling Stone that modern albums "have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like static."
TORRENT FREAK - Car maintenance chain Kwik Fit is currently tied up in a bitter legal battle with the UK Performing Rights Society. It's alleged that Kwik Fit's mechanics allowed their radios to be played within earshot of the public - a truly heinous crime for which the PRS are demanding L200,000 in damages. . .
The staff at a charity also received a visit from a PRS officer who declared that because a staff radio in the kitchen could be overheard by the public in their tea-room, they would need a license. The charity, Dam House, which was originally set up to save a historic building and offer community and health facilities, had to have a fund-raising event to raise the money for the license.
However, having purchased a license, this wasn't the end of the matter. The PRS then started asking more questions, and when they discovered that kids sing in a carol concert there at Christmas, they declared that the premises were under licensed. Yes, of course - the PRS wanted yet more money.
"We got really worked up when they told us how much we would have to pay this year" said charity trustee, Margaret Hatton. "They asked us what facilities we had and we think they are charging more because they found out we've got a function room.". . .
"They told us the only way to avoid paying to sing the carols is if the kids are told to stick to old songs which are out of copyright."
Next thing you know someone will be saying 'Happy Birthday' is copyrighted and you can't sing that to the public in the tea-rooms. Well, unfortunately it is, and legally you can't.
CANADIAN STUDY BLOWS HOLES IN RIAA ARGUMENTS
MICHAEL GEIST, CANADA - A new study commissioned by Industry Canada, which includes some of the most extensive surveying to date of the Canadian population on music purchasing habits, finds what many have long suspected (though CRIA has denied) - there is a positive correlation between peer-to-peer downloading and CD purchasing. . . The authors believe this is the first ever empirical study to employ representative microeconomic data.
The two key findings:
- There was "a strong positive relationship between P2P file sharing and CD purchasing. . . The study estimates that one additional P2P download per month increases music purchasing by 0.44 CDs per year.
- When viewed in the aggregate (ie. the entire Canadian population), there is no direct relationship between P2P file sharing and CD purchases in Canada. . .
The study also addresses a number of other frequently discussed issues. It finds that:
- there was no statistically significant relationship between P2P downloads and digital download purchases from stores such as iTunes
- people who buy digital downloads are not less likely to buy CDs
- people who own MP3 players are less likely to buy CDs
- people who buy large numbers of DVDs, videogames, cinema and concert tickets also buy a higher number of CDs. In other words, consumers of entertainment consume more entertainment, not less.
- household income has no statistically significant effect on CD or digital download purchases
HOW CLEAR CHANNEL IS WORSE FOR THE MUSIC BUSINESS THAN DOWNLOADING
ROGER FRIEDMAN, FOX NEWS - Bruce Springsteen should be very happy. He has the No. 1 album, a possible Grammy for Best Album of the Year for "Magic," an album full of singles and a sold-out concert tour. Alas, there's a hitch: Radio will not play "Magic." In fact, sources tell me that Clear Channel has sent an edict to its classic rock stations not to play tracks from "Magic." But it's OK to play old Springsteen tracks such as "Dancing in the Dark," "Born to Run" and "Born in the USA."
Just no new songs by Springsteen, even though it's likely many radio listeners already own the album and would like to hear it mixed in with the junk offered on radio.
Why? One theory, says a longtime rock insider, "is that the audience knows those songs. Of course, they'll never know these songs if no one plays them."
"Magic," by the way, has sold more than 500,000 copies since its release on Oct. 2 and likely will hit the million mark. . .
ECONOMIST CALCULATES OPTIMUM TERM OF COPYRIGHT IS 14 YEARS
BOING BOING - Rufus Pollock, a PhD candidate in economics at Cambridge University, has just released "Forever Minus a Day? Some Theory and Empirics of Optimal Copyright," a brilliant new paper on the economically optimal term of copyright. He's presenting it in Berlin this week, but it's already online. Here's the abstract:
"The optimal level for copyright has been a matter for extensive debate over the last decade. This paper contributes several new results on this issue divided into two parts. In the first, a parsimonious theoretical model is used to prove several novel propositions about the optimal level of protection. Specifically, we demonstrate that (a) optimal copyright falls as the costs of production go down (for example as a result of digitization) and that (b) the optimal level of copyright will, in general, fall over time. The second part of the paper focuses on the specific case of copyright term. Using a simple model we characterise optimal term as a function of a few key parameters. We estimate this function using a combination of new and existing data on recordings and books and find an optimal term of around fourteen years. This is substantially shorter than any current copyright term and implies that existing copyright terms are too long."
LICENSE DOWNLOADING INSTEAD OF SUING OVER IT
FRED VON LOHMANN, WASHINGTON POST OP ED - The House committees responsible for copyright and education wrote a joint letter May 1 scolding the presidents of 19 major American universities, demanding that each school respond to a six-page questionnaire detailing steps it has taken to curtail illegal music and movie file-sharing on campus. One of the questions -- "Does your institution expel violating students?" -- shows just how out-of-control the futile battle against campus downloading has become. . .
History is sure to judge harshly everyone responsible for this absurd state of affairs. Our universities have far better things to spend money on than bullying students. Artists deserve to be fairly compensated, but are we really prepared to sue and expel every college student who has made an illegal copy? . . .
It's not an effective solution, either. Short of appointing a copyright hall monitor for every dorm room, there is no way digital copying will be meaningfully reduced. . . Even if students were completely cut off from the Internet, they would continue to copy CDs, swap hard drives and pool their laptops. . .
The only solution is a blanket license that permits students to get unrestricted music and movies from sources of their choosing.
[Von Lohmann] is a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
RECORDING COMPANIES HURTING MUSIC, EARS WITH LOUDNESS
ADAM SHERWIN, TIMES UK - Rock music really is getting louder and now recording experts have warned that the sound of chart-topping albums is making listeners feel sick. Record companies are using digital technology to turn the volume on CDs up to "11". Artists and record bosses believe that the best album is the loudest one. Sound levels are being artificially enhanced so that the music punches through when it competes against background noise in pubs or cars.
Britain's leading studio engineers are starting a campaign against a widespread technique that removes the dynamic range of a recording, making everything sound "loud".
"Peak limiting" squeezes the sound range to one level, removing the peaks and troughs that would normally separate a quieter verse from a pumping chorus.
The process takes place at mastering, the final stage before a track is prepared for release. In the days of vinyl, the needle would jump out of the groove if a track was too loud.
But today musical details, including vocals and snare drums, are lost in the blare and many CD players respond to the frequency challenge by adding a buzzing, distorted sound to tracks. . .
THE LOUDNESS WAR
DECLINE OF RECORDING INDUSTRY CONTINUES
ROLLING STONE - Overall CD sales have plummeted sixteen percent for the year so far -- and that's after seven years of near-constant erosion. In the face of widespread piracy, consumers' growing preference for low-profit-margin digital singles over albums, and other woes, the record business has plunged into a historic decline. . .
In 2000, U.S. consumers bought 785.1 million albums; last year, they bought 588.2 million (a figure that includes both CDs and downloaded albums), according to Nielsen Sound Scan. In 2000, the ten top-selling albums in the U.S. sold a combined 60 million copies; in 2006, the top ten sold just 25 million. Digital sales are growing -- fans bought 582 million digital singles last year, up sixty-five percent from 2005, and purchased $600 million worth of ring tones -- but the new revenue sources aren't making up for the shortfall. . .
About 2,700 record stores have closed across the country since 2003, according to the research group Almighty Institute of Music Retail. . .
It all could have been different: Seven years ago, the music industry's top executives gathered for secret talks with Napster CEO Hank Barry. At a July 15th, 2000, meeting, the execs -- including the CEO of Universal's parent company, Edgar Bronfman Jr.; Sony Corp. head Nobuyuki Idei; and Bertelsmann chief Thomas Middelhof -- sat in a hotel in Sun Valley, Idaho, with Barry and told him that they wanted to strike licensing deals with Napster. . .
The idea was to let Napster's 38 million users keep downloading for a monthly subscription fee -- roughly $10 -- with revenues split between the service and the labels. But ultimately, despite a public offer of $1 billion from Napster, the companies never reached a settlement. . .
In the fall of 2003, the RIAA filed its first copyright-infringement lawsuits against file sharers. They've since sued more than 20,000 music fans. The RIAA maintains that the lawsuits are meant to spread the word that unauthorized downloading can have consequences. . . But file-sharing isn't going away -- there was a 4.4 percent increase in the number of peer-to-peer users in 2006
EMI SEES DRM-FREE SALE BOOM
INQUIRER, UK - EMI is reporting that the sales results for its DRM-free music are better than those with protection. Since EMI ditched the DRM on I Tunes it has seen sales of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon increase by between 272 and 350 percent. It is too early to tell if this is just a temporary rise as punters replace their old DRM infected tracks with those which are protection free. However it does look like punters have given the record labels the thumbs up for DRM free music. According to Bloomberg, digital sales for other DRM free music increased by between 17 to 24 per cent. OK Go's Oh No increased 77 per cent. Coldplay's A Rush Of Blood To The Head jumped 115 per cent.
CONGRESS ALLOWED RECORDING INDUSTRY TO RIP OFF INDEPENDENT ARTISTS, LABELS
DAILY KOS - There has been an understandable public outcry against the RIAA's attempts to more than triple the sound recording copyright royalties on Internet radio. One solution proposed by Webcasters is to just not play RIAA-member songs under the assumption that then they don't have to pay the royalty to the RIAA's collection body, Sound Exchange. Webcasters would then just pay the independent artist the royalty.
This sounds fair and just because it is. However, the RIAA is not about being fair and just. The game is rigged and the RIAA has rigged it in their favor. The strategy of playing only non-RIAA songs won't work though because the RIAA has secured the right to collect royalties on all songs regardless of who controls the copyright. RIAA operates under the assumption that they will collect the royalties for the "sound recording copyright" and that the artists who own their own copyright will go to Sound Exchange to collect at a later date.
The RIAA has secured legal authority to administer a compulsory license that covers all recorded music:
recent U.S. Copyright Office ruling regarding webcasting designated
Sound Exchange to collect and distribute to all nonmembers as
well as its members. The Librarian of Congress issued his decision
with rates and terms to govern the compulsory license for webcasters.
Sound Exchange (the RIAA) considers any digital performance of a song as falling under their compulsory license. If any artist records a song, Sound Exchange has the right to collect royalties for its performance on Internet radio. Artists can offer to download their music for free, but they cannot offer their songs to Internet radio for free.
So how it works is that Sound Exchange collects money through compulsory royalties from Webcasters and holds onto the money. If a label or artist wants their share of the money, they must become a member of Sound Exchange and pay a fee to collect their royalties. . .
And what exactly is Sound Exchange doing with the money they have collected for those hundreds of labels that must have thousands of songs???
RIAA, MPAA WANT RIGHT TO LIE
LA TIMES - The music and movie industries are lobbying state legislators for permission to deceive when pursuing suspected pirates. The California Senate is considering a bill that would strengthen state privacy laws by banning the use of false statements and other misleading practices to get personal information. The tactic, known as pretexting, created a firestorm of criticism when detectives hired by Hewlett-Packard Co. used it last year to obtain phone records of board members, journalists and critics.
But the Recording Industry Assn. of America and the Motion Picture Assn. of America say they sometimes need to use subterfuge as they pursue bootleggers in flea markets and on the Internet. . .
HOW TO RESPOND TO RIAA HARASSMENT
[Just a bit from a classic legal letter to RIAA's attorneys composed by Attoprney Merl Ledford III of Visalia CA]
MERL LEDFORD III - It is not too late to correct your clients' (and your law firm's) mistakes.
Mr. and Mrs. Merchant's emotional condition puts a premium on immediate case resolution. Thus, although I generally do not make opening legitimate offers as defense counsel, the clients' non-monetary interests and their probability of recovering their fees and costs in this matter (at a minimum) suggest that a defense settlement offer would not be inappropriate. Therefore:
My clients are willing to accept dismissal of the litigation in exchange for
1. Payment of Mr. Merchant's reasonable fees and costs including retainer of $6,880.25. The payment represents good value considering what your own firm's billings will have been to date and use of those billing records as the loadstar rate for Mr. Merchant's award. . .
2. Apology on your firm's letterhead by your supervising partner for inappropriately filing and maintaining an action against Mr. Merchant without probable cause and for the emotional hardship that such litigation caused; and
3. Execution of a mutual general release of all claims in my office's usual form. The RIAA form of release I have seen will not be used. It is my practice in these kinds of cases to require that the plaintiffs indemnity my clients against claims by third parties as part of my general release language. (E.g., your clients sue a site for posting guitar tabs to copyrighted music; my client visits the site, read the tabs, plays them on his guitar, and get sued by way of cross-claim by the guitar tab site. . .
4. Confidentiality: It is my general practice to disfavor confidential settlements. Under the circumstances, and so long as your clients are prompt and candid in dealing with their mistaken, misplaced lawsuit, I would consider a reasonable confidentiality provision. Again, quick response, full payment, and immediate dismissal will allow confidentiality as an option. . .
The authorized settlement offer expressed in the preceding paragraphs of this email . . . may be accepted by signing a copy of this email and returning it to my office by fax no later than the close of business on Friday, March 30, 2007. . . It is the best offer that will be made in this litigation based on the facts and circumstances as they are known at this time. Substantial discovery, investigation, and exchange of information remains that could substantially alter the settlement position of the parties to the betterment of either side in ways that cannot now be responsibly predicted. The case settlement value will, however, trend upward the longer I have to work on it. And the emotional distress damages for willfully filing and thereafter maintaining claims for relief without probable cause will only increase as the matter drags on. . .
Procedurally, we need to address how best to move the case to the Fresno Branch so you can enjoy our new Courthouse and avoid Judge Levi's wrath for filing in the wrong court. . .
Once the case is moved to the Fresno Branch, your clients should consider cleaning up their complaint. The FRCP and collateral estoppel from other RIAA law and motion matters require much greater specificity in pleading than your clients provided in the complaint I reviewed. Dates of the alleged downloads, which plaintiff (or affiliate) holds which copyright to which track, etc. must be specifically pleaded and proven. You are as familiar as I am with the results in other cases where RIAA's general allegations have been challenged. Let's get over that hurdle without unnecessary law and motion practice. . .
GIZMODO - We've been following the RIAA's increasingly frequent affronts to privacy and free speech lately, and it's about time we stopped merely bitching and moaning and did something about it. The RIAA has the power to shift public policy and to alter the direction of technology and the Internet for one reason and one reason alone: it's totally loaded. Without their millions of dollars to throw at lawyers, the RIAA is toothless. They get their money from us, the consumers, and if we don't like the way they're behaving, we can let them know with our wallets.
With that in mind, Gizmodo is declaring the month of March Boycott the RIAA month. . .
Firstly, I encourage everyone to purchase music from unsigned bands and bands on independent record labels. . .
Secondly, you can still support RIAA-signed bands without buying their music. Go see them live and buy their merchandise; they get a hell of a lot more money from that then they do from album sales. . .
Let me just reiterate that we are not saying you should stop buying music and start pirating everything. We need to send a message with our wallets to the RIAA, and that message will only be stronger if we show support for musicians without your money making its way to the lawyer fund.
So come on, make next month one to remember. Let's stand together and let the RIAA know that yes, we are paying attention and no, we aren't going to put up with their unethical practices any longer. -Adam Frucci
OVER 45 YEAR OLDS ARE BIGGEST MUSIC BUYERS
DAN GLAISTER, GUARDIAN, UK - The latest US research shows baby boomers and beyond now account for the largest share of music buyers. Figures compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America show that consumers over 45 accounted for 25% of music sales last year, more than twice the share of any other age group, and up from 15% a decade ago. Perhaps most surprisingly, the over-50s were responsible for 24% of the music industry's online sales.
Article continues Now the AARP, which used to go under the less racy name of the American Association of Retired Persons, is to sponsor a concert tour for the first time - by the 80-year-old Tony Bennett. The endorsement follows the success of Bennett's latest album. Duets: An American Classic has sold just under 650,000 copies in the three weeks since its release, making it the biggest seller of his career. . . .
[The] growing numbers call into question some of the traditional tenets of marketing. While some marketers in the past have dismissed the over-50s to concentrate on the disposable income of the under-30s, demographic changes are turning that wisdom on its head. As people live longer, have more money and are increasingly active in retirement, so their disposable income has become a target.
MUSIC PUBLISHERS DECLARE WAR ON MUSICIANS
[Your editor bought his first illegal fake book with song lyrics and chords under the counter at a music store in Boston in the 1950s. There were few working musicians in the country who didn't have one or know somebody who did. Later, music publishers got smart and began publishing legal fake books of which I have an impressive collection. I have given a lot of money to the Music Publishers of America over the years to buy their stuff, far more that I would have if I had known that buying that first fake book could have landed me in jail. Once again the music and movie industry is being convinced by their lawyers to act like masochistic idiots rather than as smart business enterprises - Sam]
IAN YOUNGS BBC NEWS - The music industry is to extend its copyright war by taking legal action against websites offering unlicensed song scores and lyrics. The Music Publishers' Association which represents US sheet music companies, will launch its first campaign against such sites in 2006. MPA president Lauren Keiser said he wanted site owners to be jailed. Guitar licks and song scores are widely available on the internet but are "completely illegal", he told the BBC. Mr Keiser said he did not just want to shut websites and impose fines, saying if authorities can "throw in some jail time I think we'll be a little more effective".
DEFENDANT GETS TO CHALLENGE RECORD INDUSTRY ON HOW MUCH DOWNLOADS ARE REALLY WORTH
NEW YORK COUNTRY LAWYER - In UMG v. Lindor, in Brooklyn federal court, the presiding judge has held that Marie Lindor can try to prove that the RIAA's claim of $750-per-song statutory damages is a violation of the due process clause of the Constitution, since she has evidence that the actual wholesale price of the downloads is only 70 cents. This decision activates an earlier ruling by the magistrate in the case that the record labels must now turn over 'all relevant documents' regarding the prices at which they sell legal downloads to online retailers, and produce a witness to give a deposition by telephone on the subject. Judge Trager rejected the RIAA's claim that the defense was frivolous, pointing out that the RIAA had cited no authorities contradicting the defense, but Ms. Lindor's attorneys had cited cases and law review articles indicating that it was a valid defense.
AUSTRALIAN REPORT BLASTS MUSIC INDUSTRY PIRACY CLAIMS
AUSTRALIAN - A confidential briefing for the Attorney-General's Department, prepared by the Australian Institute of Criminology, lashes the music and software sectors. The draft of the institute's intellectual property crime report, sighted by The Australian, shows that copyright owners "failed to explain" how they reached financial loss statistics used in lobbying activities and court cases.
Figures for 2005 from the global Business Software Association showing $361 million a year of lost sales in Australia are "unverified and epistemologically unreliable", the report says. . .
The study, which says some of the statistics used by copyright owners are "absurd," will be redrafted after senior researchers disagreed with its conclusions. . .
"Of greatest concern is the potentially unqualified use of these statistics in courts of law," the draft reads. . .
HOW TO SET COPYRIGHTS FREE
[From a Wikipedia bulletin board. Wales was Wikipedia's founder]
JIMMY WALES, WIKIPEDIA PIPER MAIL - I would like to gather from the community some examples of works you would like to see made free, works that we are not doing a good job of generating free replacements for, works that could in theory be purchased and freed.
Dream big. Imagine there existed a budget of $100 million to purchase copyrights to be made available under a free license. What would you like to see purchased and released under a free license?
Photos libraries? textbooks? newspaper archives? Be bold, be specific, be general, brainstorm, have fun with it.
I was recently asked this question by someone who is potentially in a position to make this happen, and he wanted to know what we need, what we dream of, that we can't accomplish on our own, or that we would expect to take a long time to accomplish on our own. - Jimbo
REASON NOT TO BUY CORPORATE CDs:
GUITAR TAB UNIVERSE - The company which owns this website has been indirectly threatened (via our ISP) with legal action by the National Music Publishers' Association as well as the Music Publishers' Association on the basis that sharing tablature constitutes copyright infringement. At what point does describing how one plays a song on guitar become an issue of copyright infringement? This website, among other things, helps users teach each other how they play guitar parts for many different songs. This is the way music teachers have behaved since the first music was ever created. . .An attack on this website is really an attack on every one of you who have told someone (in person, or via the written word, telephone, or e-mail) how you play a song on guitar. And who, especially among small websites, has the deep pockets to fight the NMPA/MPA?
WHY CORPORATE MUSIC HAS TAKEN A DIVE
CHRIS ANDERSON, WIRED - Music itself hasn't gone out of favor - just the opposite. There has never been a better time to be an artist or a fan, and there has never been more music made or listened to. But the traditional model of marketing and selling music no longer works. The big players in the distribution system - major record labels, retail giants - depend on huge, platinum hits. These days, though, there are not nearly enough of those to support the industry in the style to which it has become accustomed. We are witnessing the end of an era.
What caused a generation of the industry's best customers - fans in their teens and twenties - to abandon the record store? The labels cried piracy: Napster and other online file-sharing networks, along with CD burning and trading, had given rise to an underground economy of stolen music. Of course, there's something to that. Despite countless record-industry lawsuits, traffic on the peer-to-peer file-trading networks has continued to grow, and about 10 million users now share music files each day.
But technology didn't just allow fans to sidestep the cash register. It also offered massive, unprecedented choice in terms of what they could hear. The average file-trading network has more songs than any music store - by a factor of more than 100. Music fans had the opportunity for limitless choice, and they took it. Today, listeners have not only stopped buying as many CDs, they're also losing their taste for the blockbuster hits that used to bring throngs into record stores on release day. If they have to choose between a packaged act and something new, more and more people are opting for exploration.
Technology also gave consumers a new way to buy music. Rather than having to purchase an entire album to get a couple of good tracks, they can buy songs à la carte for 99 cents each. The online music industry is primarily a singles business, which depresses album sales further. Meanwhile, the music marketing machine has lost its power. . .
When it comes to lost marketing power, nothing compares to the decline of rock radio. In 1993, Americans spent an average of 23 hours and 15 minutes per week tuned to a local station. As of summer 2005, that figure had dropped to 19 hours and 15 minutes. Time spent listening to the radio is now at a 12-year low, and rock music is among the formats suffering the most. . .
Then came the cell phone, which gave people something else to do during their commutes. And finally, the iPod, the ultimate personal radio. With 10,000 of your favorite songs on tap, who needs FM?
WHY CD SALES ARE FALLING
READER M OFFERS this comment on why CD sales are falling:
Because too many of us have taken the pledge, and will not buy any item when a royalty will be paid to an RIAA or MPAA member. Do without, rather than provide funds for the entertainment industry to continue to purchase rights stealing legislation. If you must have music or movies from one of these wretched outfits, then buy it used.
- Because too many of us realize that the prices on CDs are grossly inflated. A whole two hour movie DVD usually costs less than a CD of its soundtrack. What sense does that make?
- Because too many of us have decided that the movies and music that is being produced today, is generally of very low quality. Not worth the time to sit through, unless someone pays us for the time and the boredom.
- Because we don't want the entertainment industry to install spyware and malware that will wreck our PCs, and secretly report information about us to the industry.
STEVEN PAGE, NATIONAL POST, CANADA - Concerned with the prospect of record-label lawsuits against MP3 file sharers, and the continuing march toward greater restrictions on the use of music, artists -- including Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk, Sum 41, Broken Social Scene, Stars, Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace, Dave Bidini of Rheostatics, Billy Talent, John K. Sampson of Weakerthans, Sloan, Andrew Cash, Bob Wiseman, a co-founder of Blue Rodeo, and my own band, the Barenaked Ladies -- launched the Canadian Music Creators Coalition.
The Coalition brings together a diverse array of musical backgrounds and interests. We create everything from popular top-40 tunes to critically acclaimed selections to grassroots folk songs. . . Collectively, we have won dozens of Juno and Grammy awards, and have sold tens of millions of albums worldwide. Most, although not all, of us are associated with major record labels, collecting societies and industry associations. We know that record companies and music publishers are not our enemies. They are often run by people who love music and are passionate about the promotion of Canadian culture.
MOSES AVALON, BIZDEV - When speaking this month to a representative from Soundscan, the company that provides much of the data for the Billboard Top 200 Chart, I learned things that would contradict reported statements by the RIAA. Mainly that US labels have had a significant reduction in sales over the past three years. Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, responded personally, put his rebuttals on the record and in the process exposed intriguing insight into the way the RIAA calculates "losses."
Through my interview with the Soundscan rep ~ I learned the following:
- For the first quarter of 2003 Soundscan registered 147,000,000 records sold.
- For the 1st quarter of 2004 Soundscan will report 160,000,000 records sold.
That's 13,000,000 more units, almost a 10% increase in sales since last year. He also confessed that 1st quarter "album sales" (as opposed to overall sales) had increased 9.4% since 2003.
What gives? Didn't Cary Sherman recently attest to the "fact" that there was a "7% decrease in revenue since last year." . . . And didn't he name piracy/file-sharing as the main reason? . . .
So, I asked the Soundscan rep, who would only speak to me if I didn't use his name, "Would you disagree with what the RIAA is implying?"
"I would never disagree with the RIAA," he said. . . But he did do the most amazing thing; he proceeded to explain the rational that would allow both of these seemingly inconsistent realities to exist in the same universe, "The RIAA reports a sale as a unit shipped to record stores. Whereas Soundscan reports units sold [to the consumer] at the point of purchase. So, you're talking about apples and oranges."
I fact-checked this with Cary Sherman, who confirmed, "He is correct," and added, regarding RIAA and Soundscan data, that "The two sets of numbers tend to be similar, but because of timing differences, they're usually a little different at any point in time."
Similar? How is a 10% increase for first quarter of 2004 similar to, or a premonition of, a 7% decrease for the entire year of 2004?
Now armed with the secret decoder formula, I went back and read the RIAA and International Federation of the Phonographic Industry Web sites more adroitly. Sure enough, every time the RIAA complains of large drops in "unit sales" it includes international sales, not strictly domestic. Every time it speaks to domestic "losses" it is speaking only of "units shipped in the US" to record stores. It seemed obvious that if the RIAA confined their revenue statistics to the US market alone they may not be able to publish ANY losses in revenue at all.
But what about Sherman's statement of 7% "losses" at the London conference? He answered, "I was speaking to an international audience, [and] thought they'd want worldwide figures, rather than just US.". . .
Forget the confusing percentages, here's an oversimplified example: I shipped 1000 units last year and sold 700 of them. This year I sold 770 units but shipped only 930 units. I shipped 10% less units this year. And this is what the RIAA wants the public to accept as "a loss."
PEW TRUST - When asked what impact free downloading on the Internet has had on their careers as musicians, 37% say free downloading has not really made a difference, 35% say it has helped and 8% say it has both helped and hurt their career. Only 5% say free downloading has exclusively hurt their career and 15% of the respondents say they don't know... 67% say artists should have complete control over material they copyright and they say copyright laws do a good job of protecting artists...
Some 60% of those in the sample say they do not think the Recording Industry Association of America's suits against online music swappers will benefit musicians and songwriters. Those who earn the majority of their income from music are more inclined than "starving musicians" to back the RIAA, but even those very committed musicians do not believe the RIAA campaign will help them. Some 42% of those who earn most of their income from their music do not think the RIAA legal efforts will help them, while 35% think those legal challenges will ultimately benefit them.
DON HENLEY IN WASH POST - When I started in the music business, music was important and vital to our culture. Artists connected with their fans. Record labels signed cutting-edge artists, and FM radio offered an incredible variety of music. Music touched fans in a unique and personal way. Our culture was enriched and the music business was healthy and strong.
That's all changed.
Today the music business is in crisis. Sales have decreased between 20 and 30 percent over the past three years. Record labels are suing children for using unauthorized peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing systems. Only a few artists ever hear their music on the radio, yet radio networks are battling Congress over ownership restrictions. Independent music stores are closing at an unprecedented pace. And the artists seem to be at odds with just about everyone -- even the fans.
FILE SHARING HAS NO IMPACT ON CD SALES
GUARDIAN - Despite the industry's belief that file sharing is anathema to record sales, a recent study has shown that it may not be so clear cut. "Downloads have an effect on sales that is statistically indistinguishable from zero," the controversial report claims, even going so far as to suggest that for popular albums, "the impact of file sharing on sales is likely to be positive".
The study, by Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Associate Professor in the strategy unit at Harvard Business School, and Koleman Strumpf, Associate Professor in the economics department at the University of North Carolina, analyses sales and download data, and its conclusions contradict the established music industry line. During the last quarter of 2002, the pair gathered data from two peer-to-peer file sharing servers on the Open Nap network and matched individual downloads to the weekly sales figures of 680 chart albums.
"Our hypothesis was that if downloads are killing music, then albums that are downloaded more intensively should sell less," says Strumpf. But, after adjusting for the effects of popularity, they discovered that file sharing has "no statistically significant effect" on sales. . .
WRONGS OF COPYRIGHTS
DENEEN L. BROWN AND HAMIL R. HARRIS WASHINGTON POST ["Eyes on the Prize"] is no longer available in stores and can't be shown on television or released on DVD until the filmmakers are able to renew the expired rights to footage, photos and music that were used. Old sets of VHS tapes owned by community centers and schools are wearing out. Teachers and librarians seeking new copies can't purchase them, except for rare ones being sold on eBay for as much as $1,500.
The film is hampered by the same problem many documentary filmmakers are encountering as they wrestle with buying and renewing licenses to use copyrighted archival footage, photos and music. Independent filmmakers must pay for each piece of copyrighted material, and those costs have escalated in the past 10 years.
Some of the footage in "Eyes" was cleared for only five years, and the executive producer died before renewing the rights. . .
In November, the Center for Social Media at American University released a report highlighting the problems that documentary filmmakers have as they try to clear rights to images. The report, which recommends finding ways to lower costs for obtaining rights, says current interpretations of copyright law "leads to a creative stranglehold."
must pay a license to use a pop song that may play in the background
[of footage shot] in a pizza parlor, an image or sequence from
a movie, or from archival footage owned by someone else,"
the report says. "They may need to pay not only songwriters
but performers, not only movie studios but actors. There is no
central place to find out who owns what. There is no rule of
thumb for pricing. No one has to agree to license. And it doesn't
matter if you didn't intend to quote it. Did somebody sing 'Happy
Birthday' in your documentary? Too bad -- you owe Time Warner
a small fortune.
MEMORIES OF MONK
Circulating on the web are some great quotes from Thelonious Monk, as collated by fellow musician Steve Lacy. Some excerpts:
- Just because you're not a drummer, doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time.
- Pat your foot and sing the melody in your head when you play.
- Stop playing all that bullshit, those weird notes, play the melody!
- Make the drummer sound good.
- You've got to dig it to dig it, you dig?
- Don't play the piano part, I am playing that. Don't listen to me, I am supposed to be accompanying you!
- The inside of the tune [the bridge] is the part that makes the outside sound good.
- Don't play everything (or everytime); let some things go by. Some music just imagined.
- What you don't play can be more important than what you do play.
- A note can be small as a pin or as big as the world, it depends on your imagination.
- Stay in shape. Sometimes a musician waits for a gig & when it comes, he's out of shape & can't make it.
- (What should we wear tonight?) Sharp as possible!
- Whatever you think can't be done, somebody will come along & do it. A genius is the one most like himself.
- They tried to get me to hate white people, but someone would always come along & spoil it.
Your editor never heard Monk, but recalls one evening in the late 1950s a friend returned from a Boston club to report seeing Thelonious sit at the piano for innumerable choruses, just smoking and listening to the bass player and playing no more than one or two notes. Someone at a front table shouted out, "Hey, Thelonius, play something." Monk let his cigarette drop to the floor and then kicked it onto the complainer's table. He then got up and slowly stalked the outside aisle of the club before leaving and reportedly ended up in a mental institution that night.
The Wikipedia account makes a reference to LSD, peyote and Timothy Leary, who even had the Harvard football team on mushrooms at the time.
Wikipedia - Monk's manner was idiosyncratic. Visually, he was renowned for his distinctively "hip" sartorial style in suits, hats and sunglasses, and he developed an unusual, highly syncopated and percussive manner of playing piano. He was also noted for the fact that at times he would stop playing, stand up from the keyboard and dance while turning in a clockwise fashion, ring-shout style, while the other musicians in the combo played. Bassist Al McKibbon, who had known Monk for over twenty years and played on his final tour in 1971, later said: "On that tour Monk said about two words. I mean literally maybe two words. He didn't say 'Good morning', 'Goodnight', 'What time?' Nothing. Why, I don't know. He sent word back after the tour was over that the reason he couldn't communicate or play was that Art Blakey and I were so ugly." A different side of Monk is revealed in Lewis Porter's biography, John Coltrane: His Life and Music; Coltrane states: "Monk is exactly the opposite of Miles [Davis]: he talks about music all the time, and he wants so much for you to understand that if, by chance, you ask him something, he'll spend hours if necessary to explain it to you."
The documentary film Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988) attributes Monk's quirky behavior to mental illness. In the film, Monk's son, T.S. Monk, says that his father sometimes did not recognize him, and he reports that Monk was hospitalized on several occasions due to an unspecified mental illness that worsened in the late 1960s. No reports or diagnoses were ever publicized, but Monk would often become excited for two or three days, pace for days after that, after which he would withdraw and stop speaking. Physicians recommended electroconvulsive therapy as a treatment option for Monk's illness, but his family would not allow it; antipsychotics and lithium were prescribed instead. Other theories abound: Leslie Gourse, author of the book Straight, No Chaser: The Life and Genius of Thelonious Monk (1997), reports that at least one of Monk's psychiatrists failed to find evidence of manic depression or schizophrenia. Others blamed Monk's behavior on intentional and inadvertent drug use: Monk was unknowingly administered LSD, and may have taken peyote with Timothy Leary. Another physician maintains that Monk was misdiagnosed and given drugs during his hospital stay that may have caused brain damage.
One last Monk tale found in a web comment: "My dad grew up in the Village in the 40's and 50's and saw Monk play dozens of times. One time he was at the bar at one of the clubs and in between sets Monk comes up next to him, orders a Coke, drinks it down, looks at my dad and says 'man, if alcohol tasted like Coke, the whole world would be drunk.' He then goes back and starts his next set.
JAZZ: COOLER AND CHEAPER THAN WAR
A HALF CENTURY AGO , jazz musician Dave Brubeck became a star in an anomaly: some American foreign policy that actually worked. He recently was in Washington celebrating his participation in the Jazz Ambassadors program of the 1950s,which sent musicians abroad to show a different side of America. Among the other participants: Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Thelonius Monk, Benny Goodman and Miles Davis.
In 1958, Brubeck visited 12 countries, including Poland, Turkey, East and West Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Iran and Iraq. As Brubeck explained it, "We were out 120 days without a day off, and it was rough travel. The water wasn't fit to drink, but you got so thirsty, you drank it. The State Department didn't want us to come home. They wanted us to stay out. They cancelled our concerts here at home."
In an interview with National Endowment for the Arts chair Dana Gioia several years ago, Brubeck told how the Voice of America had been his warm-up band: "Most of the people, when they spoke to you in English, sounded like Willis Conover from the Voice of America. His show came on every night worldwide. . . To this day . . . you can hear his voice. In Russia, people sound like Willis. If you listened to my recordings in the Soviet Union during the darkest days of the Cold War, you could be sent to Siberia or worse. They listened to my records, and they called it 'Jazz in Bones.' Using X-ray plates, they could record Willis Conover and get a fairly good recording. If you were caught with that, you were dead. But the doctors and the nurses and the students would very carefully listen to these recordings, and they had underground jazz meetings all the time."
Listening to Brubeck recall his tour under the prodding of Hedrick Smith at a Library of Congress event the other evening, it was clear that Brubeck had added his own flair for diplomacy. And not just from the stories. The Brubeck Institute Quintet played tunes between the anecdotes. The musicians were all 18-20 years old but the 87-year old Brubeck treated them with respect and enthusiasm, turning his chair to watch each solo and even at one point signaling to Christopher Smith that he noted the bassist hadn't got his solo. It's one of those things that happens to bass players so they both shrugged and smiled.
Brubeck himself only played one number all the way through and when it was time for his "Blue Rondo" he stood behind Javier Santiago and announced, "This piece is so damn hard that I'm going to have him play it." Santiago masterfully tackled the opening, relinquished the piano bench to Brubeck for the solo and then returned for the close. You don't see many legends do that sort of thing, especially when it's their tune.
As I watched Brubeck and the young musicians under his influence, I recalled being an 18-20 something drummer and buying a ten inch LP called "Jazz at Oberlin," which I would play repeatedly in my room and on my college radio station show, "Jam With Sam." Maybe I even played it while Brubeck was on his tour in 1958, my junior year. One thing is certain, for young college musicians and jazz fans of my vintage, trapped behind the Iron Curtain of 1950s values and culture, there was no doubt that Dave Brubeck revealed the meaning of life better than your parents or your professors. And if you were a young white musician, it was a sign that there was room for you, too.
Brubeck crossed the generations like it was just another national border in the Cold War. Matt Schudel of the Washington Post quotes the NEA's Gioia as saying: "There is no American alive who has done more extensive and effective cultural diplomacy than Dave Brubeck. Dave is not only one of the greatest living American artists, he's also one of the greatest living American diplomats."
Just the sort of guy you would have wanted to send to Poland in the midst of the Cold War. Brubeck told Gioa, "When we played in Poland in 1958, I had gone to Chopin's home, and I had seen the statue that the Nazis had almost broken. I had been in his home and seen his pianos. So that night on the train to the last concert in Poland, I composed in my head a song dedicated to Chopin and the Polish people. As an encore, we played it, and there was absolute silence in the auditorium. I thought, now I've ruined all 12 concerts. They're shocked that I would play in a Chopinesque kind of way. And then, the place went insane with applause. . . It's called Dziekuje, which means 'thank you' in Polish. Here it is 2005 - that was 1958 - and they still remember that piece."
[FROM THE BRUBECK COLLECTION, UNIVERSITY OF THE PACIFIC]
It hadn't been easy getting to Poland. A Hedrick Smith documentary website notes:
"The tour also featured a stop in Poland, which required a journey into communist-controlled East Berlin. Because of a State Department snafu, the group didn't have the necessary visas. A tour official found a way to get papers, but collecting them required a risky illegal journey through Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and into communist territory. 'I was supposed to be in [music promoter] Madame Gunderlach's trunk to go through the gate,' Dave explains, 'And of course, there were plenty of signs telling you not to go through. Many people that had gone through into East Germany disappeared for about six months or longer. So I didn't want to be in that position.'
"Brubeck refused to ride in the trunk, but did crouch down in the backseat and was dropped off at a big, non-descript building. 'I sat there for two hours alone in this bare room,' he said. 'And this guy, very shabbily dressed came and sat next to me. He said, 'You Mister Kulu?' And I said, 'No, Mister Brubeck.' And he said, 'No, you Mister Kulu.' And I said, 'No, I'm Mister Brubeck.' So he took out a Polish newspaper and there's a picture of me. And under it, it says, Mister Kulu. So I figured it out - "Mr. Cool Jazz, that's what Kulu means. He thought that [was] my name. But he had the papers for me to continue on through East Berlin into Poland."
The problems didn't end there. Reports Schudel: "Later he climbed aboard an East German train bound for Poland with his wife, son, three band mates and a musician's wife. When guards demanded to know why the Americans were carrying so much luggage, Brubeck recalls, he had to pantomime drumming to explain that they were musicians traveling with instruments. His boom, boom' drew suspicious glares, but they eventually made it to Warsaw."
In India that Brubeck found only one decent piano - a 12 foot grand in Bombay with gold in its keys. He wondered aloud what he would play at a major event the next day. His hosts answered by gathering 20 men who lifted the piano and carried it to the stadium. In Afghanistan it was tougher. Kabul, recalled Brubeck, "was a hard place to find a piano." They located a terrible one, but Brubeck said it was okay; there were "just certain notes I won't play."
But Brubeck didn't just perform. He learned. In Turkey it was about 9/8 time. In India about a different standard for improvisation that Deepak Ram explained at the Library of Congress event: "We encourage improvisation after you have studied 12 years." Everywhere Brubeck went he not only played, he listened. Out of it came a number of tunes including Blue Rondo a la Turk based on the Turkish zeybek,
And he kept at it. Thirty years later, Brubeck had Mikhail Gorbachev tapping his fingers to "Take Five" at a break during a stalled summit meeting. The next day Secretary of State George Shultz gave Brubeck a big hug and credited him with breaking the conference stalemate.
But then this was a white musician who had won the first jazz poll ever taken by the black newspaper, the Pittsburgh Courier. And Schudel tells the story of Brubeck and William "The Lion" Smith doing a tour in the Netherlands, during which Smith is asked by a journalist, "Isn't it true that no white man can play jazz?" Smith, Brubeck beside him, replied, "I'd like you to meet my son."
It was not unlike what Louis Armstrong said to Jack Teagarden on their first meeting: "You're ofay, I'm spade, let's blow."
It isn't that jazz musicians are better people; it's just they have better things on their mind than national and cultural anger. Finding these better things is the quickest way out of human conflict: the commonality of appreciation overcomes fear of the uncommon. Jazz has always been a metaphor for this: a place where everyone gets to solo but only if they also back up everyone else - that mystical blend of individual and community that makes some human societies thrive. One day we may even learn how to make it work for countries as well.
DAVE BRUBECK VIDEOS
THE FALL OF JAZZ
[From a great profile of pianist Billy Taylor]
WELLS TOWER, WASHINGTON POST MAGAZINE - One of jazz's bestselling albums, Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue," hit the charts in 1959, and the four decades that followed would witness the music's fitful recession from mainstream listenership. With a handful of notable exceptions, instrumental jazz failed to win back audiences that had started to stray at the onset of the bop era. Riven by new categories -- free jazz, Latin, fusion, acid jazz, smooth jazz -- consensus as to what jazz was or wasn't began to disintegrate. Even the music's most commercially successful incarnation in years, smooth jazz, posed an artistic quandary. A heavily pasteurized, atmospheric music that favored listener-friendly melodies over improvisatory prowess, smooth jazz, in the 1980s, revived the music's presence on mainstream radio. But the hard-core jazz establishment largely dismissed the new genre as a commercial abomination. In 1992, saxophonist Kenny G lofted smooth jazz into the Top 40 with "Breathless," which, with sales of more than 15 million copies, is the bestselling instrumental album in recording history. Yet no one has deplored his success more venomously than the jazz community. "You're in a room with Hitler, Stalin and Kenny G, and you've got a gun with only two bullets. What do you do?" asks a bitter joke circulating widely on jazz chat sites. "Shoot Kenny G twice."
ABOVE TUNES ARE LONGER AVAILABLE
& DC'S HIDDEN MUSIC HISTORY
MONTY ALEXANDER: SATIN DOLL
Sarah Vaughan: Tenderly
Forbes - In only a matter of days, some of your favorite videos on YouTube could be gone, possibly for good.
YouTube is preparing to radically change the site, adding a subscription service that is intended to help them compete in the streaming music industry. The Google owned video site has already signed new licensing deals with all of the major labels, but many independents are refusing to take part. Apparently, not only are smaller, indie labels not being offered the same deals as the majors, but the contracts that Google is putting in front of them are less than fair.
In order to show their muscle, Google has stated that any labelmeaning smaller, independent onesthat does not sign a deal with them will not only be left off the new service, but will have their content taken down from the original, free YouTube. Vice President and Global Head of Business at YouTube Robert Kyncl recently claimed that they already had deals with 90% of the industry, and that they had no choice but to move forward.
Showbiz 411 - According to Nielsen, during the first six months of 2014, sales of all albums both physical and digital were down 14.9%. And sales just of digital downloads (from iTunes mostly) were down 11.6%. But dig this: sales of CDs were down 19.6%. What was up? Streaming jumped 50%. And sales of vinyl LPs were up 40%.
12 bar blues (with elephant)
The Beatles in 1957
49 years ago today, the Beatles first US concert
An amazing GOP staffer's analysis of myths about copyright (which his superiors, of course, suppressed) As Maryland Pirates notes, "Unfortunately, someone (we assume the copyright lobby) got to them within hours of the document appearing and the publication was pulled from the committee's website. Luckily, in the Internet age, copies were preserved elsewhere."
The Brussels Philharmonic has become the world's first orchestra to abandon paper scores and play from a digital screen. The musicians have all been issued with a Samsung tablet that can hold up to 1,000 orchestral works.
Psy shuts down Seoul with free concert
Clínica do Deficiente Musical ·
For all the drummers in the crowd: Wikipedia - During the mid-1980s, an intoxicated Mick Jagger phoned Charlie Watts' hotel room in the middle of the night asking "Where's my drummer?". Watts reportedly got up, shaved, dressed in a suit, put on a tie and freshly shined shoes, descended the stairs, and punched Jagger in the face, saying: "Don't ever call me your drummer again. You're my fucking singer!"
Bill Cosby's wonderful description of learning how to play drums, inlcludng freezing up behind Sonny Stitt
Best response ever to rogue cellphone ring
A 1973 recording of the Statler Brothers singing
one of the great American songs: The Class of '57
NO LONGER AVAILABLE CENSORED BY RECORDING INDUSTRY
Scientific Blogging - Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have shown for the first time that the emotions aroused by joyful music have a healthy effect on blood vessel function.
Music, selected by study participants because it made them feel good and brought them a sense of joy, caused tissue in the inner lining of blood vessels to dilate (or expand) in order to increase blood flow. This healthy response matches what the same researchers found in a 2005 study of laughter. On the other hand, when study volunteers listened to music they perceived as stressful, their blood vessels narrowed, producing a potentially unhealthy response that reduces blood flow. . .
Compared to baseline, the average upper arm blood vessel diameter increased 26 percent after the joyful music phase, while listening to music that caused anxiety narrowed blood vessels by six percent. . .
During the laughter phase of the study, a 19 percent increase in dilation showed a significant trend. The relaxation phase increased dilation by 11 percent on average; a number that the investigators determined was not statistically significant.
Most of the participants in the study selected country music as their favorite to evoke joy, according to Dr. Miller, while they said "heavy metal" music made them feel anxious. "You can't read into this too much, although you could argue that country music is light, spirited, a lot of love songs." says Dr. Miller, who enjoys rock, classical, jazz and country music. He says he could have selected 10 other individuals and the favorite could have been a different type of music.
From Christian Schubart's Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst (1806), translated by Rita Steblin in A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries. UMI Research Press (1983
C Major - Completely Pure. Its character is: innocence, simplicity, naivety, children's talk.
C Minor - Declaration of love and at the same time the lament of unhappy love. All languishing, longing, sighing of the love-sick soul lies in this key. . .
Eb Major The key of love, of devotion, of intimate conversation with God. . .
D# Minor Feelings of the anxiety of the soul's deepest distress, of brooding despair, of blackest depresssion, of the most gloomy condition of the soul. Every fear, every hesitation of the shuddering heart, breathes out of horrible D# minor. If ghosts could speak, their speech would approximate this key. . .
F Major - Complaisance & Calm. . .
G Major - Everything rustic, idyllic and lyrical, every calm and satisfied passion, every tender gratitude for true friendship and faithful love,--in a word every gentle and peaceful emotion of the heart is correctly expressed by this key.
G Minor Discontent, uneasiness, worry about a failed scheme; bad-tempered gnashing of teeth; in a word: resentment and dislike. . .
Ab Major Key of the grave. Death, grave, putrefaction, judgment, eternity lie in its radius.
Bb Major Cheerful love, clear conscience, hope aspiration for a better world.
WHEN THEY CAN'T FIND A DRUMMER
CBC, Canada - Fans of heavy metal music are gentle, creative people who are at ease with themselves, which makes them very similar to fans of classical music. That's the finding of a new study at Scotland's Heriot-Watt University of the link between peoples' personalities and their choice of music.
Adrian North, the professor behind the study, said he was surprised at the similarities between fans of classical music and heavy metal, especially their creativity and generally shy natures. "The general public has held a stereotype of heavy metal fans being suicidally depressed and of being a danger to themselves and society in general. But they are quite delicate things," he said in an interview with the BBC. . .
"We think, what we think the answer is, that both types of music, classical and heavy metal, both have something of the spiritual about them - they're very dramatic - a lot happens."
The study of more than 36,000 people from six different countries found that people had more in common with fans of their favorite music in other countries than they had with fellow citizens who preferred different styles of music.
North describes it as a new kind of tribalism, based on musical taste.. . .
Jazz fans tend to be creative and outgoing, with high self-esteem, in keeping with the innovative and sociable nature of the music.
Country western fans were found to be hard-working, but introverted, fitting with the blue-collar image of country music.
The research concluded soul music lovers are a well-rounded bunch - creative, outgoing, gentle, at ease with themselves and with high self-esteem.
Rap fans are outgoing and far from gentle, while indie music lovers lack both self-esteem and the work ethic.
"Researchers have been showing for decades that fans of rock and rap are rebellious, and that fans of opera are wealthy and well-educated," North said.
He also made a link between income bracket and musical tastes, with more affluent consumers liking more exciting, punchy music while those lower down the pay scale preferring more relaxing sounds.
People who score high on intelligence tests are also good at keeping time, new Swedish research shows. The team that carried out the study also suspect that accuracy in timing is important to the brain processes responsible for problem solving and reasoning.
THE VOICE THAT FADED FAR TOO SOON
ONE OF THE PLEASURES of your editor's life was to have caught a performance by Eva Cassidy before the incredible singer passed away at the age of 33. Reader John Gear has tipped us off to some links to videos of Cassidy singing.
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HOW THE ARMY FINDS A BAND
NOAH SHACTMAN, DANGER ROOM - It's not completely surprising that the Army wants to hire a band to tour its bases jn Afghanistan and Kuwait. The armed services get all kinds of folks, to entertain the troops. . .
First, a summary of what the Army is seeking:
"Professional Celebrity Rock Music Band, group not to exceed seven people for tour of FOB's [forward operating bases] in Kuwait and Afghanistan for February 4-13 2008. The band should be an active rock band, with a music genre consisting of Southern Rock, Pop Rock, Post-Grunge and Hard Rock. At least one member of the band should be recognizable as a professional celebrity. Protective military equipment, such as kevlar, body armor, eye and ear protection will be provided when the group is traveling on military rotary or fixed wing aircraft."
Then, there's the highly-calibrated method the service will use to evaluate these Professional Celebrity Rock Music Band applicants. The contract will be awarded based on "Past Performance, Contractor Capability, Contractor's Experience, Celebrity Status of the Proposed Artists, and Price. Contractor Capability, Experience, and Price. The celebrity status of the proposed artist is slightly more important than these 3 combined, and all 4 combined are slightly more important than Price."
Good luck, rockers. And remember:
"Any criminal conduct, unexcused tardiness or absence which prevents timely starting of the performance(s) required hereunder, indecency or obscenity, drunkenness, damage to Government property, failure to discharge indebtedness to the Government, influence of narcotics or hallucinatory drugs, threatening breach of national security, violation of the rules and regulations of the Host Nation, Government or TFF MWR are grounds for termination of this contract."
No "forced on indentured child labor," and no "live animals," either.
DIXIE CHICKS FAR FROM ALONE IN COUNTRY MUSIC HISTORY
ASHLEY SAYEAU, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - Despite the [Dixie Chicks'] successes, the grudge has held, particularly among the Nashville music establishment. The Country Music Association completely snubbed the Chicks at its awards ceremony in May. Such an affront on the part of country music is not only cowardly, but also quite antithetical to the genre's history. . .
Take Johnny Cash, for instance. Not only did many of his most famous lyrics center on "the poor and the beaten down," including a poignant attack on this country's treatment of American Indians, but also Cash was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War, as in his famous song Man in Black: "I wear the black in mourning for the lives that could have been/ Each week we lose a hundred fine young men."
And then there is Willie Nelson, who on Valentine's Day 2006 released a love song about gay cowboys, titled, "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)." Perhaps more seriously, he has been an avid supporter of presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich, who, while arguing for universal health care and a swift withdrawal from Iraq, is probably the furthest left of any Democratic candidate.
SANDY CARTER, Z MAGAZINE, SEPT 1994 - In my 20s, as I began living and working in other parts of the country, I came to realize that people outside the South, particularly politically progressive people outside the South, judged white Southerners and nearly all aspects of their cultural heritage as backward. And this snobbery often found its most candid expression in mocking and ridiculing country music.
The elitist views that define popular prejudices about the country tradition greeted the music at its commercial birth. In the 1920s, when country music first felt the pressures of commercialization, rural traditions of all kinds were experiencing tensions and challenges brought on by industrialization. Country sounds suggesting older and more settled ways seemed inherently at odds with rapid social and technological change. . .
Conflicted feelings also derived from the Southerness of the music. While the music of Stephen Foster and the writings of Mark Twain fueled romantic notions of the South as an exotic land of enchantment, the region also evoked images of slavery and the Civil War, the Scopes monkey trial, and the Klan. . .
Like other music forms of our culture, country music is an amalgam of influences. Its sound, song structure, and lyrical text reveal a heavy debt to African American musical styles, particularly blues and gospel. Rhythmically, country draws most on the dance meters of English and European country dance tunes. As to lyrics and narrative style, country storytelling has roots in Southern Protestant sermonizing, barroom banter, front porch story swapping, and the general character of regional oral traditions. . .
Because of this emphasis on Southerness and tradition, country music has long been associated with all that is reactionary. However, while country music generally expresses a conservative outlook, the view of country as an exclusively white, male-dominated, right-wing tradition is unfair and one-dimensional. At no point in its history has country music expressed a consistent political ideology. . .
More importantly, since country music has always been a voice for small farmers, factory hands, day laborers, the displaced and unemployed, its harsh portraits of work and everyday life carry an implicit critique of capitalism
DON'T BAN YOUNG PEOPLE FROM CLUBS
COUNTRY MUSIC BEING SHUT OUT OF BIG CITY RADIO
MARC FISHER, WASHINGTON POST - With last month's format switch in Los Angeles, the nation's two largest markets now have no country on the radio. New York lost its last country station in 2002, a year after San Francisco fell into the same status. Country's decline on the radio seems paradoxical at first, because the genre is doing better than much of the rest of the music industry these days. . .
attracts an almost all-white audience, and in some big cities,
including Los Angeles and New York, whites are in the minority.
Increasingly, radio companies believe they can fine-tune other
music formats to create the largest possible audience of black,
Latino and white listeners. . .
GREAT MOMENTS IN HOMELAND SECURITY
BRITISH MUSICIANS' UNION WANTS LIP SYNCHING REVEALED
REUTERS - Britain's Musicians' Union has called on performers to come clean - audiences should be told if they are miming rather than singing. The union is urging promoters, producers and artists to back its campaign for lip-synching to be clearly labeled during TV shows, in pop arenas and on stage. "Stand up and be honest about it. We won't knock you for using recordings," said union spokesman Keith Ames, wearied by the sight of bands with miming singers backed by guitarists going through the motions to a recorded track. If we are going to sell British music around the world, we cannot go out without a genuine product. You cannot sell artificiality to the Europeans and the Americans. They will see through it immediately.". . .
The issue hit the headlines when British pop veteran Elton John took a swipe at Madonna, saying she cheated her fans by miming on stage. Collecting a song-writing award in 2004, he suddenly launched into a tirade against Madonna when he discovered she had been nominated for Best Live Act. "Anyone who lip-synchs in public on stage when you pay 75 pounds to see them should be shot," John said. Madonna swiftly denied lip-synching and pointedly said she did not spend her time trashing other artists.
NEW CHORD STRUCK IN WORLD'S LONGEST PIECE OF MUSIC
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - A new chord was scheduled to sound in the world's slowest and longest lasting concert that is taking a total 639 years to perform. The abandoned Buchardi church in Halberstadt, eastern Germany, is the venue for a mind-boggling 639-year-long performance of a piece of music by US experimental composer John Cage (1912-1992).
Entitled "organ2/ASLSP" (or "As SLow aS Possible"), the performance began on September 5, 2001 and is scheduled to last until 2639. The first year and half of the performance was total silence, with the first chord -- G-sharp, B and G-sharp -- not sounding until February 2, 2003. Then in July 2004, two additional Es, an octave apart, were sounded and are scheduled to be released later this year on May 5. But at 5:00 pm (1600 GMT) on Thursday, the first chord was due to progress to a second -- comprising A, C and F-sharp -- and is to be held down over the next few years by weights on an organ being built especially for the project.
WHY CLASSICAL MUSIC NO LONGER MATTERS
[We recently ran a story on a local DC news page about longtime classical music station WETA-FM going all news. An anonymous reader makes some interesting remarks]
A READER - Much has been made of the widening gap between the income of a CEO at a company and the income of a janitor at the same company. What has been less well noted is how the entire spectrum of incomes has widened - with greater space between the lower middle class and the middle class, between the middle class and the upper middle class, and so forth.
I believe that, as these disparities grow, we will see less reliance on traditional positive hierarchal markers - the things that people used to do in order to mark their proper or desired status. Essentially, classical music was a way for middle class and upper middle class people to mark their higher status.
With greater disparities in income and greater diversity of consumer products, people can use far easier markers - SUVs, McMansions, etc. In such a world, there is less need for a difficult marker like classical music. Thus, it is slowly dying.
Seem too grand and theoretical? Well, if my theory is correct, we should also see less aversion to traditional negative hierarchal markers - the things that people that used to avoid in order to not mark themselves as having a lower or less desirable status.
What has happened to tattoos? What was once almost exclusive to working class people has exploded across class lines. With greater incomes and more consumer choices, people are no longer afraid to sport tattoos; they can easily purchase other items that confirm their higher status. With a Hummer and a tattoo and a motorcycle, you're saying, - Yes, I am well off, but I am also unconventional. I have an outlaw side.
CRASH: HIT SONGS BY COMPUTER
JO TATCHELL, GUARDIAN - The magic ingredient set to revolutionise the pop industry is, simply, a piece of software that can "predict" the chance of a track being a hit or a miss. This computerised equivalent of the television programmer Juke Box Jury is known as Hit Song Science. It has been developed by a Spanish company, Polyphonic HMI, which used decades of experience developing artificial intelligence technology for the banking and telecoms industries to create a program that analysed the underlying mathematical patterns in music. It isolated and separated 20 aspects of song construction including melody, harmony, chord progression, beat, tempo and pitch and identifies and maps recurrent patterns in a song, before matching it against a database containing 30 years' worth of Billboard hit singles - 3.5m tunes in all. The program then accords the song a score, which registers, in effect, the likelihood of it being a chart success.
SEAN DALEY, WASHINGTON POST - Backing tracks -- that is, prerecorded tracks, either with or without vocals, that can help an artist better re-create an album performance -- can be used in different ways. Those venerable acts on "American Bandstand" were lip-syncing: mouthing along to their songs. Pink Floyd has used prerecorded tracks to add sonic rumble to its trippy concert shtick. And Madonna has used "guide vocals" -- prerecorded vocal tracks that a pop star can sing over to add oomph to her performance -- so she can dance, dance, dance and not sound winded. Hip-hop acts and rappers employ prerecorded tracks all the time at "track dates," live events where someone, usually a DJ, provides everything but the vocal. . .
Performance-enhancement for pop stars, especially on a high-tech scale, is a relatively new trend. In 1997, Antares Audio Technologies -- a godsend to some, the death of authentic music to others -- developed revolutionary pitch-correction software called Auto-Tune, which allows a sound technician to smooth out a singer's voice, no matter how wobbly or screechy or off-key that voice may be. Just punch the desired key of a song into the computer, and the gizmo will adjust the pitch to the closest note in that key. Auto-tuning, which is now being used onstage as well, did nothing less than change how pop music is made. . .
BEN RAYNOR, TORONTO STAR - One doesn't have to be particularly intuitive to see something's up when, for instance, an out-of-breath Spears can barely wheeze a "thank you" between songs at moments in her shows, yet consistently hits every note while she and her dance troupe essentially conduct a 90-minute workout onstage. I've been to numerous hip-hop and R&B shows over the years where the performers' voices carried on mysteriously while microphones were pointed into the crowd. And how is it that the Backstreet Boys could always sing like angels whilst being hoisted skyward and over their screaming fans in harnesses braced tightly around their torsos?
While major rock stars are fond of belittling their pop counterparts for turning to tape for assistance onstage, they, too, frequently employ digital audio tape, canned harmony vocals and all manner of other technological accoutrements - most notoriously the automatic pitch shifter, a common recording crutch that is also now regularly employed during live shows to "correct" off-key vocals - to finesse their performances and more accurately reproduce the sound of their albums.
ARTS JOURNAL - "Music--not merely classical but also jazz, folk, blues, and bluegrass, once staples of public radio programming--is slowly being withdrawn from the public airwaves. The number of noncommercial stations identified as "classical" has been cut in half since 1993, while the number of noncommercial news-talk stations has tripled. From 1995 to 2002, the number of locally generated classical music hours on public radio declined roughly 10 percent, even as the number of public radio stations greatly increased; meanwhile, over the same period, the number of news-talk hours rose by more than 150 percent. - Weekly Standard
MEDIA BIAS is not limited to bad politics; it includes bad math, typically manifested in an inability to count above the number two. According to the mass media, our world is one giant 'Crossfire' show divided into pro and anti, liberal and conservative, war and appeasement, free market and socialism. When such bifurcation fails because of the number of participants - as in sports, Democratic primaries, or reality shows - the media solves the problem by ultimately reducing the number to one, with everyone else a loser. It is by such means that the media discovers the outstanding average American male.
This is a form of semiotic suppression as bad in its own way as political propaganda for it steals opportunities, options, and subtleties from us, turning us into either cheering sycophants or worthless outsiders. It also is the playing field on which we learn mindless acceptance of the minimal choices that the media offers us in the political and economic realms.
We are, for example, supposed at this moment to be obsessed with football, especially if one is a virile male. In fact, however, only about a half of American males are interested in football. A 2002 poll found that only 28% of Americans listed football as their favorite sport, with 16% preferring basketball and 12% baseball. Add them all together and you are still left with nearly half of America having something better to do. But you would never guess it from the media.
The same is true with popular music. Michael Jackson, the latest media fetish, is a not atypical example. If you only followed the "news" you would have to be wondering what was wrong with you if you did not find the fate of Jackson of concern or, worse, never liked him or his music in the first place.
Jackson sold 47 million copies of "Thriller," which sounds like a lot until one realizes that Dunkin' Donuts sells more cups of coffee than that in one month. In fact, more people have a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee than watch Bill O'Reilly on the same day. But note where Dunkin' Donuts stands in the media cultural hierarchy compared to Jackson and O'Reilly.
It's actually far worse than that. An ABC News poll last year found that 38% of Americans considered Elvis Presley the greatest rock star ever. Jimi Hendrix came in second at four percent and Michael Jackson tied Lennon, Jagger, Springsteen, McCartney, and Clapton at 2%. In all, pollees list 128 different names. Even among 18-34 year olds, Presley beat Hendrix 2 to 1, albeit getting only 19% of the votes.
The ABC News poll is unusual in that it gave actual percentages. Normally, such surveys only list rank, leaving the reader who prefers number six on the list feeling out of it and leaving all readers badly misinformed.
One way to create more honesty in such surveys would be not only to use actual percentages but also instant runoff voting in which second and third place votes would be factored in. These celebrity surveys instead use the same misguided principle that distorts our politics, confusing whoever is first past the post with the consensus choice.
The matter is further complicated by the fact that we do not know how the over 200 million Americans who did not buy a copy of 'Thriller' felt about Jackson. Some were married to a purchaser, some have downloaded it, some picked it up second hand or from a sibling. But is it not possible that among this vast pool we might not actually find a many people who disliked Jackson's music as liked it?
Yes it is. And although I have not been able to find an American study that deals with this issue, a fascinating examination of Japanese adolescent tastes in western music suggests what we might discover.
Here are the percentages of Japanese adolescents who liked very much a genre of music followed by the percentages of those that didn't like it at all:
Note that rock is the only category in which the percentage of those not liking it at all does not approach 50%. Note also that one of the most disliked genres is something the media has labeled "easy listening."
the reasons the media doesn't tell you things like this is that
it would be too embarrassing. Far better to using rankings that
obscure the fact, for example, that you could fit the entire
American audience of CNN into a place the size of Washington
One of the few people honest about all this is Don Imus who says he wouldn't cover the Jackson story, which repels him, were it not for the ratings boost. But that boost, of course, is based on the media's past success in convincing us that Jackson was worth caring about. And even if MSNBC's ratings doubled we're still only talking about three big stadiums full of people.
So if you can't stand Jackson or his music, don't feel bad. You are just part of the silenced majority. Go down to Dunkin' Donuts have a cup of coffee like a real American.