Thursday, September 30, 2010

Production Music Disasters #2: The Deboner

Serene, meditative piano accompanies industrial chicken de-boning. Commercial food production has never been more calming.

WARNING: Do not watch past 1:00 mark if even remotely squeamish about where chicken "products" like patties, nuggets, etc, come from.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bob Dylan

"And I thought: That's how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don't want him to be all cheesin' and grinnin' with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise."
President Obama in Rolling Stone.

Worth a read.

Monday, September 20, 2010

U2: Stages of Grief

Reading today's (ironic) LAT piece about U2's manager bemoaning reality, I'm reminded of the K├╝bler-Ross model of the stages of grieving:
  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance
They don't always go in this order - #'s 2,3, &4 will interchange. Paul McGuinness is bargaining. He wants to go back to 1997-8, right before Napster. He wants a do-over. "If I give you what you wanted twelve years late, will you even care?"

He's got some anger for ISP's, seeing them as beneficiaries of endless TOS violations, and there might be a case to be made. But he won't get them to pay up. Where would that party end? Everybody who was convinced they'd lost money because of "the internet" would want to eat from that trough. And how would it work? A blanket tax? If ISP's are going to start shelling out fees to PRO's or something, they're going to want to enable blanket access for their users. Which is, of course, antithetical to the media companies (they want ala-carte billing, or the ability to ding you for every possible use of their 'property'.)

“Artists cannot get record deals. Revenues are plummeting. Efforts to provide legal and viable ways of making money from muse are being stymied by piracy."

Go and read my post "Panic." Then come back.

The people who continue to produce quality product (music, shows, etc) are just fine. It's everyone else who's in a panic. Maybe McGuinness sees U2 as losing cultural relevance or something. Look how everyone got upstaged by Gaga last week as she activated an army of people in support of the DADT repeal. Talk about the ultimate sleeper cell.

I don't know what acceptance is going to look like. Maybe U2 puts out a few singles complete with individual tracks for the multitudes of remixers out there. Maybe they get behind a good cause and tie up some traffic intersections with impromptu concerts.

U2's paydays of yore are not on the table for future artists. It just isn't in the cards - not as a hierarchy, anyway. There will still be stars, but like an ever expanding universe, they'll be farther and farther apart, gravity be damned.

Friday, September 17, 2010


There's a revival goin' on.

It's kind of a religious thing, in the sense that so many people are seeking transcendence right now.

And why wouldn't they? Read the news lately? A lot is coming unwound right now. If you're under 30, the next few years look like a long swim in Shit River. If you watch FOX News you feel constantly threatened and under assault. If you're even remotely connected to reality, there's a lot to be depressed about in the world.

But people still need to get up every day. They need reasons. They need friends. They need release.

They need to feel connected.

A reasonably good musician can do just that: connect. One hand on the ethereal pulse of the universe, and the other holding the audience. It's a dicey dance, and it takes years of terrifying practice to get it right, but when you do....

...they'll tell everyone about you. They'll evangelize. You'll get a flock. Your songs become your gospel.

But don't forget your place. You're a conduit, not a god.

Into The Valley

We're over the top now, on the way down the slope to the new valley. Forces are beginning to converge. Fog is starting to clear. A new day is dawning in the music business.

I'm not alone in this feeling. There's a new static charge in the air. Things feel possible again. Not because any specific element is in play - it feels more like a case of "Well, why the hell not??"

Oh, there are still people lost in the old world - they've yet to make the journey over the mountain, if they make it at all. You have to see the mountain before you can climb it.

Some nearby acquaintances are still trying to outsmart the old formula. They're trying to goad their fans to call radio stations (do any of their fans listen to radio?) or ballot-stuff web-polls and surveys. What was the last CD you bought because you saw an ad on some website saying it was a #1? Anything long lasting is going to be via word of mouth.

The future is personal evangelists and the Gospel of You.

Evangelists. Gospel. It's really about religion in a way, isn't it? And isn't the time about ripe for a nice revival?

We can't look to the recent past on this one, however. That was an anomaly that isn't going to be repeated. We have to look further back. Remember, Jesus walked with his disciples, not in the VIP section. Bands and artists would do well to remember this.

The future is hyperlocal and personal (a band can play in front of 25k people, stop at a Whole Foods 10 miles away and nobody knows who you are. True story.). I know the usual signals are telling you different: the insipid "Idol" shows still shoveling hopeful after ever hopeful schmucks on stage, modeling the same tricks and moves they've been watching on MTV, and being handed tours and awards, etc.

I can tell you confidently it's all bullshit. It's the system feeding back on itself. The audiences are carefully groomed and prodded. The awards bestowed randomly and are meaningless anyway. Those shows exist solely to "deliver" a targeted demographic to advertisers and marketers, and for the few who are profiting, they are profiting handsomely. So of course they want to keep that feeding frenzy going. Why would an artist get anywhere near something that toxic?

But you've got to get outside that box to see what's really going on - what that system isn't telling you. It's not telling you that people spend more time on Facebook and YouTube than watching television, or listening to terrestrial radio (do cell phones have FM receivers?). If you live in the US, the system hasn't told you about Spotify. It's not telling you there are more consumers of music than ever before, and more genres than ever before, more places to play than ever before.

And musicians should be playing. Every day. There's a place for practically every kind of music now - no excuses.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hired Gun

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Band vs. Promoter

"How much will we be paid?"
" Nothing."


Saturday, September 4, 2010

How The Dave Matthews Band Made It

Summary: They let fans trade their music FOR FREE via cassettes and concert recordings for YEARS before they cut a studio situation.

And they took *every* gig, because they wanted fans. Great story.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Single: Rule The World

Watch the HD version on YouTube if you can - the difference in audio quality is striking.