Monday, December 29, 2008

What I Have Learned About Twitter (So Far)

Dr. J's Social Media Experiment Part 2: Twitter
(Obscure Music Joke Subtitle: Rockin' Robin on the Interwebs)

Happy New Year! Most of my readers are already using Twitter, but if you have lived in a cave for the last year and don't know what it is, look up Twitter or Micro-blogging on Wikipedia. Too lazy? OK, here goes: A social media/blogging network in which users post "tweets" of 140 characters or less. These tweets provide followers/friends with status info (similar to your Facebook status,) links, jokes, conversations (consisting of @replies,) etc. When referring to a twitter user, you use the "@" symbol; For instance, my Twitter handle is @docj1664. However, if you were to search for me on Twitter, the URL would be For several weeks last month, I collected my daily Twitter feeds on the blog, so that should give you an idea of how it works!

I signed up for Twitter in early March of 2008. I was taking my high school vocal jazz group to France and Switzerland, and I thought it would be a good way to stay in touch with people while I was gone. I convinced my wife to sign up, and I already had a few friends who were using it. I used the service infrequently for the next two months, mostly because I didn't really understand it very well. Of course, I've found out recently that many Twitter users felt that way, and in some ways the "proper" use of Twitter is still evolving.

I really had trouble figuring out what possible use this could be to musicians. I think this area is still evolving, but people such as @carlalynnhall and @sivers (Derek Sivers of CDBaby) are beginning to figure this out. I think the best way to understand Twitter is to realize that it requires an entirely new approach. 

When you sign up, the question is "What are you doing?" However, the type of self-promotion that is so prominent on MySpace and Facebook is anathema to most Twitter users. As cheesy as this may sound, Twitter is about community, and you often find users more concerned about helping each other than promoting themselves. I think this spirit of helpfulness really started this last summer during the hurricanes that hit the Gulf coast, and it has persisted. 

Here are a few other things I've learned:
  • Link Spam - When a user sees someone whose every post consists of a link to their myspace or website, they will probably not follow you. Most users will post helpful links for their followers, as well as occasional blog post announcements.
  • Troll Behavior - This is absolutely not tolerated on Twitter. Most users even tend to stay away from asserting strong political opinions, and generally don't tolerate online flame wars.
  • Profile Names - Most users use their full real name, with no numbers. Unfortunately, I didn't realize this until I had a few hundred friends, but I'm banking on Twitter getting more popular, and people will begin having to use nicknames and numbers.
  • Conversations - Conversations between users are generally looked on favorably, as long as they are not too personal (you can DM or Direct Message another user when appropriate, as long as they are following you.) Many power users spend the entire day conversing with others on Twitter, almost like a public chat room. The idea is that this is usually information that will benefit other users as well.
  • Retweeting - When a user sees something interesting posted by someone he/she is following, they will often "retweet" it so their followers will see it as well. This is one of the most fascinating and useful aspects of Twitter, and perhaps why it was so useful during the hurricanes last summer. Information can spread very quickly this way.
  • Robots - Recently some accounts have started using 'bots which DM new followers. The community at large, however, seems to find this distasteful, so I would shy away from it.
  • Followers - When you follow someone on Twitter, they are not automatically your "friend." They must choose to follow you as well. It is generally considered a courtesy to follow those who follow you, unless you are a celebrity with tens of thousands of followers. It is a good idea to keep your "following" and "followers" numbers as close to each other as possible. 
Twitter definitely requires some "outside of the box" thinking, especially if you are using it as a marketing tool. Many of the old social network rules do not apply, and new rules are being written as the service evolves.

I've barely skimmed the surface, so here are a few additional resources:
For more advice on how to use Twitter for marketing: and
For advice on how to use Twitter and other tools in support of your music career:

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twitter Posts for 12-23-24

12/24/08 Twitter Posts
  • 10:38 It's Christmas Eve. How many of you will be watching "24 Hours of A Christmas Story?" Come on, raise your hands! #
  • 10:57 @mrdungbeetle That sounds like a good combination. #
  • 11:51 @pj33322 Ouch - good luck. Having worked at the Apple Store last season, I know how crazy the malls can be on Christmas eve! #
12/23/08 Twitter Posts
  • 00:49 @jthrash Happy birthday Jen! #
  • 01:01 @darthvader "Winter" from "Santa Claus is Comin' To Town" is my favorite Christmas villain. #
  • 01:07 @carlalynnehall Thanks for wishing me a great gig! It did go very well! #
  • 01:13 @greggrunberg I just spent 5 minutes trying to see if your eyes would truly follow the cursor everywhere. #
  • 01:23 @greggrunberg Seriously, though, I love the site. Kudos! #
  • 03:44 New blog post: Twitter Posts for 12-22-08 #
  • 12:02 @elgincombs Happy birthday Elgin! #
  • 12:10 Watching @theguild. #
  • 12:23 @matthewgood congratulations! #
  • 12:26 RT @repcor: I. Can't. Stop. Watching. This. :) #
  • 13:28 @Omega13 Thanks for the retweet. Hilarious and cute, isn't it? #
  • 14:12 @garagespin Thanks for the retweet! #
  • 17:01 @repcor I just completed my second semester, and I'm really enjoying it. My wife teaches in the Music Business dept. #
  • 17:03 Doh! Macbook power adapter cable melted. Now I have to use the Macbook Pro adapter. Hope the Macbook doesn't 'splode! #
  • 17:06 @MattSearles I don't know, Matt...Seems to me you've gotten the real-world education. #
  • 17:07 @matthewgood You're right! Abort! Abort! Danger Will Robinson! #
  • 17:15 @MattSearles That's the key. I have a doctorate in music, but 50% of what I know I learned from the professional work I've done. #
  • 17:16 @MattSearles And that includes the people I've worked with as well as the work experience itself. #
  • 17:20 @MattSearles Not that I'm trying to talk you out of it. Of course, anyone can benefit from more education:) #
  • 17:28 @jonduenas Have a safe trip. #
  • 17:34 @matthewgood Good luck, drive safely! #
  • 17:51 Hoping I can remember how to use the Roland VS1680, since it's been about 8 years since I last used one. #
  • 21:46 New blog post: Social Media and the 40-Something Male - #
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Social Media and the 40-Something Male

(Note: I have been wanting to blog about social media for a while, but I wasn't sure where to start. Therefore, it will now be an ongoing series, possibly even stream-of-consciousness at times. Consider yourself warned:-)

Dr. J's Social Media Experiment Part 1: Introduction

I suppose I first entered the online world in the early 1990's when I joined my first BBS. I think it was called the Gold Coast Macintosh bbs, and I was living in Miami at the time. I was also an early adopter of AOL, but I dropped it in 1996, which was coincidentally about the time it became popular. Next, in the late 1990's, I taught myself HTML, and created my first website, which I called The Jazz Vocal Resource (check it out at the Wayback Machine)

For a number of reasons, I had to drop the website, ca. 2001. For the next five years, my online presence consisted of a single page on the Greenville College website with a photo and bio that I never updated after it was originally posted.

Then, one fateful day in June of 2006, I opened my first MySpace account. Sure, it was a little late, but at the time, hardly anybody my age was on MySpace. I initially did it to promote my music and the music of my band, but I soon created a second "personal" page, and began to search for anyone and everyone I have ever known! Before I knew it, I was fully immersed in the world of social media.

In no particular order, here are all the services I have signed up for. I continue to use some of them, but some I have either cancelled or neglected:

Several random Ning networks, including NetNewMusic

I'm sure there are a few I have forgotten about. Of course, last but not least, I started this blog. My intent with this was especially to help independent artists, and I hope I have helped at least a few of my dozen readers!

If I have come away from this experiment with one overarching theme that applies to musicians, it would be that the old methods no longer work. Social media is not about promoting your music in the traditional sense. It is about creating a connection or relationship with your listeners. In fact, I believe it has more in common with the traditional idea of signings and "meet and greets" than it does with promoting a specific product. I also believe this will translate into career longevity and a more entrenched fanbase. However, even the "experts" don't yet know how musicians will be able to pay their bills in this new world.

Well, folks, that's all for now. Thanks for listening. In my next installment, I will talk about Twitter, which has taken up quite a bit of my free time for the past six months.
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Twitter Posts for 12-22-08

Recent Twitter Posts
  • 00:36 @Ihnatko I never even knew they did a director's cut. The original was perfect the way it was! #
  • 00:37 @markdejaynes Are you doing a lesson with Jorge? #
  • 00:49 New blog post: Recent Twitter Posts #
  • 00:58 @matthewgood I told you I was worried about a potential feedback loop:) #
  • 01:04 @markdejaynes You know I would have been glad to teach you! Jorge will be awesome, though, and I'm glad you're doing it! #
  • 11:45 Have to venture out into the cold for another human pincushion meetup. #
  • 14:55 @matthewgood Hey, that's in my bag of tricks as well:) #
  • 14:56 RT @Mick_Shrimpton: What's the hardest three years of a drummer's life? ....Second grade. #
  • 14:56 RT @Mick_Shrimpton: What did the guitarist do when told to turn his amplifier on? ....He caressed it softly and told it that he loved it. #
  • 14:57 @matthewgood Oh, man, if they have dates in Mexico, we could even drive down! #
  • 15:23 @matthewgood Understood! #
  • 15:32 I just joined the musicians Twitter Group and you can too. Please Retweet. #
  • 15:34 @JaronDavis Actually, I've heard a version of Terry Riley's "In C" played by a very large ensemble. #
  • 15:51 New blog post: Good News in These Bad Times #
  • 18:02 Starting my gig tonight as "house band" for "Live on Tape" on Malden's MATV. #
  • 22:52 "Scientists discover new forest with undiscovered species on Google Earth - Telegraph" #
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Good News in These Bad Times

I was listening to NPR this afternoon, and they were talking about retailers and the troubles they are having in the current economic climate. A gentleman from St. Louis who owns an independent record store called in and said that he has seen a 20% increase in sales this holiday season. He also said this included vinyl and CD's, as well as DVD's.

As many of you know, I have long sung the praises of mom-and-pop record stores. In fact, I credit them for much of my own musical education. I have been pleasantly surprised lately to see that, while many of the big chains have gone under, the indie stores have been able to survive.

To hear this particular story really warms my heart, especially since I used to frequent all of the St. Louis indie record shops, and I think I can guess which one it is (he didn't say.) I also know that many of my friends who still live in St. Louis also frequent those shops, and I know at least several who buy plenty of vinyl (yes, I'm talking about you, Jason, among others!)

So, I say a hearty "thank you" to my STL friends for supporting local music retailers, and I urge everyone around the country to do so as well!
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Recent Twitter Posts

  • 00:46 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 13:40 When driving in Boston, never underestimate the willingness of drivers & pedestrians to risk their lives as well as yours. #
  • 14:31 @matthewgood True. I remember Chicago being that way, now that I think of it. #
  • 17:13 The guy on the "Shamwow" commercial cracks me up! #
  • 19:42 Still blizzarding here in Malden. #
  • 19:45 @matthewgood What did you think of I Spy? I used to love that show as a kid. #
  • 19:50 @karma_musings Actually, this may be sleet. It's hard to tell, and I'm not about to go outside and find out. It's very windy as well! #
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tweets for 12-20-08

Recent Twitter Posts
  • 00:45 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 12:06 I think I may do absolutely nothing today. I need a day to decompress. #
  • 12:19 RT @stevegarfield: Earring wearer's head is placed between "open" and "close" tags. #
  • 14:23 Round 2 of the storm is supposed to hit tomorrow, and I have morning church gig, afternoon recording session, evening band rehearsal. #
  • 14:24 I'm guessing some of that might not happen:( #
  • 14:25 @chasemacri Ooh...Langley figures prominently in several XFiles eps! #
  • 14:35 @karma_musings It hasn't really stopped here either. #
  • 14:51 @matthewgood Oops, did I have the wrong Langley? #
  • 15:03 Holed up in the apt. during a snowstorm: #
  • 15:38 Bet I'm the only person you know who can burn eggs! (Can't wait 'til @recdmavn gets back) #
  • 19:43 @matthewgood Eggs are usually one of the few things I can do. However, this time I even set off the smoke alarm. #
  • 19:45 Watching my DVD of the *original* The Day The Earth Stood Still. Ah, the genius of composer Bernard Hermann! #
  • 19:48 Theremin FTW! #
  • 20:02 @Ulrn2Twtr I suppose if I had never seen the original, I would think it is a decent movie. #
  • 21:06 Klaatu. Barada. Nikto. #
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Tweets for 12-19-08

Recent Twitter Posts
  • 03:48 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 07:49 Last day of school. Hope I can get in and out of the back bay before the storm hits. #
  • 13:39 Some Berklee offices have closed, but I don't see any snow yet. I'm still going home, though, just to be safe. #snow1219 #
  • 13:53 OK, It's definitely snowing now near Berklee. Glad I'm going home. #snow1219 #
  • 15:15 Safely at home in Malden, stocked up on groceries, internet and heat both work. I'm good:) #
  • 15:17 Listening to @maronvseder #
  • 18:20 @CMajor The two of you are hilarious together! #
  • 18:43 @Mick_Shrimpton I'm glad to know your spontaneous combustion was faked. You were the best drummer Tap ever had! #
  • 23:04 Can't believe it's still snowing. I think it's been at least 9 hours now. #snow1219 #
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tweets for 12-18-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:45 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 05:24 RT @reevesman: the official autotune Backlash video. #
  • 05:52 @springclock That was Al, right? I used to be in a band with his son. How's he doing? #
  • 05:54 @docj1664 got a Twitter Grade of 95/100 from @grader. See: #
  • 06:29 RT @reevesman: For anyone who hasn't gotten my first record, here it is. Pass it around. I love pirates. #
  • 06:38 It's 6:38 and I've already been awake for 2 hours. Something wrong with that;) #
  • 08:43 True story: On the train reading the paper. Liked an article I was reading. Looked for a "Digg" button. Where's my cyber-wifi & brain2text? #
  • 08:44 @Sooz All I can say is "nonono!" #
  • 08:48 @springclock I forgot that he was back in the band by that point. He had quit the band for a while, then he came back. #
  • 09:18 @JaronDavis A month ago in class, I erased something on the board, realized I shouldn't have, and looked for an "undo" button! #
  • 10:16 I love Berklee. I just got an email from someone, and it was written in the Finale Jazz Font! #
  • 10:45 @joemcgill Actually, I just meant I love the fact that even most of the administration and staff here are musicians. #
  • 11:27 @JaronDavis @matthewgood Maybe "Tronitis" or "Matrixity?" #
  • 11:30 @matthewgood Hey, that's me, nerdy references always at the ready! #
  • 11:40 @chasemacri What is the derivation of your use of the word? Does it have something to do with the movie? #
  • 13:40 RT @reevesman: reposted album link for anyone interested. #
  • 13:49 RT @matthewgood: some more free-music love: - my album. #
  • 16:15 @chasemacri One of my Christmas break projects is to get all of that music available. #
  • 16:22 @chasemacri Yeah, @recdmavn has been on my case lately about the fact that I've never properly released it, so it will happen soon! #
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tweets for 12-17-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:54 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 12:26 @joelgoodman @chasemacri @matthewgood You know what that reminds me of? "Big Blue Bastard!" #
  • 12:49 RT @carlalynnehall: RIAA Bans Telling Friends About Songs #
  • 13:19 @carlalynnehall Oh, you know, finals week. Always a lot of fun! #
  • 13:59 @davidhechler What happened to Jude? #
  • 14:03 @davidhechler Oh, that's good. I was afraid something had happened to him. #
  • 16:32 @chasemacri Yeah, Brian's band was amazing, and they were all great singers as well. The songs were OK. #
  • 16:34 Two more days left until vacation! #
  • 20:33 Nigel Tufnel was just named to the Berklee Board of Trustees. Awesome:-D #
  • 20:35 Just in case you doubt me: #
  • 20:39 Have to go to bed early so I can take @recdmavn to the airport at 4:30 am. Goodnight Twitterites! #
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tweets for 12-16-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:07 @joelgoodman I knew it!! #
  • 00:10 Just finished writing an arrangement of Carol of the Bells for my choir. Going to bed now. #
  • 00:52 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 10:52 @joelgoodman @JaronDavis The guy who plays Hiro is a huge trekkie, so I'm sure he's been in heaven. #
  • 13:30 One of my students wants me to help him start a Radiohead ensemble. Awesome! #
  • 13:45 @MattSearles Thanks for stating it that way. I've been feeling a bit guilty about how much time I've been spending on Twitter:) #
  • 14:55 @joelgoodman I'm surprised you can even connect. We're having a server problem at the edu today. Even our intranet is painfully slow. #
  • 17:48 Listened to class projects all day, and so far they all rocked! #
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Tweets for 12-15-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:48 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 09:43 Good morning Twitterites! Only 10 shopping days until Christmas! Wait, do you include the current day or not? I'm so confused:) #
  • 10:43 @smokingmole Glad to be of service:) #
  • 10:45 @springclock I scoff at shopping, only b/c I can't afford to do any, which I suspect is the case for many people this year! #
  • 13:15 @chasemacri I usually have to wait months to d/l an update. Since I don't have PT on my school macbook, I'm doing it!! Take that, digi!! #
  • 13:17 Wow, it's 62 degrees in Boston right now! Gotta love the bipolar weather here! I'm going outside right now! #
  • 13:22 @chasemacri I'm hardly even using PT anymore. Right now, it's mostly Logic, and I have made a commitment to myself to learn DP over break. #
  • 13:28 @chasemacri I'm doing very little in the way of live recording right now. Mostly softsynths. #
  • 13:30 RT @mvolpe: Twitter In Real Life: The Follow-Back [cartoon] Funny! #
  • 13:33 @chasemacri an ipod is def easier than triggering samples, etc. #
  • 22:01 OMG, I think that was Worf playing the president on Heroes. #
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tweets for 12-14-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:47 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 06:32 Now I can watch the 3 stooges with breakfast. Thanks Hulu! #
  • 15:28 Just checked my Twitter grade (on @grader) and it was much higher than I expected. Wonder what I'm doing right? #
  • 15:45 @repcor I'm glad someone is trying to spread some happiness! We need it these days:) #
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tweets for 12-13-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:49 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 11:43 @joelgoodman I'll second that! #
  • 11:47 @film_girl It must be administered by their management:P #
  • 11:53 Sitting on the couch with @recdmavn, listening to jazzy Christmas music! Happy Saturday Twitterverse! #
  • 22:09 Spent all day grading papers. Taking a break now. #
  • 22:49 @jonduenas Speaking of that, at this very moment I am enjoying your library! #
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Tweets for 12-12-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:53 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 09:55 New blog post: 2008 Pitchfork Readers Poll Is Out! #
  • 12:43 Heading to lunch, then back here for more grading of papers! #
  • 15:57 Heading home...Glad the rain stopped! #
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2008 Pitchfork Readers Poll Is Out!

I did not pay much attention to mainstream music this year, for reasons I will discuss in a future posting. (Of course, when I say "mainstream," I also mean indie labels, which have, in effect, become a mainstream phenomena.) Therefore, you will see no "best of 2008" lists on my blog.

Instead, I would like to direct your attention to Pitchfork's annual reader's poll. If you listen to indie music, you should bookmark Pitchfork and visit it daily. And don't be scared of the name; It has nothing to do with Satan or farming!

2008 Pitchfork Readers Poll | Pitchfork
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tweets for 12-11-08

  • 06:27 My morning ritual: eat, run around the house, scratch the rug, play with a paper bag...Wait, that's my cat's morning ritual! #
  • 07:26 @Sooz Thanks. I realized that many of the people there had probably already met at the SMB event, which I couldn't attend. #
  • 07:28 @smokingmole A meetup of Twitter users. You should check around, they are probably doing some in LA from time to time. #
  • 08:06 60 degrees yesterday, 35 degrees today. WTF Boston? #
  • 09:57 New blog post: Cut Your Own Record? #
  • 13:03 @chasemacri Thanks for adding me. You have some awesome stuff in your library! #
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Cut Your Own Record?

This company from Switzerland sells a home vinyl record cutter. If I remember my exchange rate correctly, it is extremely expensive, but I'm just amazed that there is a market for something like this!

dubplatecutter - Vinylium

(via Analog Apartment)
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Monday, December 08, 2008

Mellotron Demo

The best thing about this video is that they briefly show the inner workings of the instrument several times.


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Friday, December 05, 2008

RIP Forrest J Ackerman

Forrest J. Ackerman, the dean of sci-fi/horror fandom, is dead at 92. For those of us who grew up reading his words of wit and wisdom in "Famous Monsters" and elsewhere, this is a sad day!


Wikipedia Article:
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A Must-Read for Indie Musicians!

I'm not going to say anything else about this post, you should just go and read it. I do welcome your comments here, though, if you have the time.

Should the New Law of Music Absorption alter your music business decisions? - Music Think Tank - Music Think Tank

(via Yvynyl)
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Monday, December 01, 2008

The Matrix Runs on Windows

No comment necessary...just watch and laugh!

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Read George Orwell's Diaries in "Real Time!"

Since August 2008, The Orwell Prize has been presenting George Orwell's diaries in blog form, exactly 70 years since they were originally written! If all goes according to plan, the entries will continue until 2012. As the original diary was begun before WWII and ended several years into the conflict, this will be a very interesting experience to read in real time.
It's not all completely riveting, however. At the moment, the entries consist of a daily count of the number of eggs his hens have laid!


(via BoingBoing)
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Future of Music?

(two musicians are standing in the unemployment line. It is some time in the future. In order to protect their identities, we will call them M1 and M2.)

M1: So, here we are again.
M2: Yeah, here we are. How long has it been since your last gig?
M1: Quite a while.
M2: Me too!
M1: You know, it's funny. The other day the plumber came by and fixed my toilet. He handed me his bill, and I mentioned that I thought he should do it for free, since I'm expected to give out my music for free. He just laughed. He said something about having gone to trade school, and I pointed out that I went to college to learn music. He didn't like that answer.
M2: Yeah, I'm sure he didn't.
M1: Yeah, I ended up dipping into my savings again so I could pay the bill.
M2: Oh, man. Speaking of giving out music, can you believe it's almost been 2 years since congress abolished the copyright act?
M1: No, it seems like yesterday. One day I was making a living, the next day I was looking in the want ads for day jobs.
M2: You know, my kid asked me the weirdest question the other day. He said "dad, what's an album?" I had to explain to him that people used to get songs in groups, rather than downloading random songs one at a time. He also couldn't understand that people used to pay for it.
M1: Speaking of downloads, how many people have downloaded your newest song?
M2: I think it's more than 500,000 now.
M1: Oh, man! In the old days that would have been a gold record. You wouldn't have been standing in this line!
M2: That's for sure! Here I've got over 500,000 fans on Mybandspacebook, and I had to sell a bunch of my gear to pay this month's rent. What's wrong with this picture?
Announcer: Next please.
M1: Oh, that's me. Well, good seeing you. Take it easy.
M2: Yeah, good luck.
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

I guess it was too good to be true!

According to a recent article on hypebot, a new study shows that payola is still keeping indie labels and artists off of commercial radio, despite a recent high-profile crackdown by the NY attorney general and the FCC. I probably shouldn't be surprised, but I still am.

hypebot: A2IM Study: Payola Still Keeps Indies Music Off Air
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Friday, September 26, 2008

Take NIN's Survey

If you bought or downloaded any of the recent Nine Inch Nails albums, you should go and take this survey: I think they are trying to determine the best way to release future albums, and I am very interested to see the results!
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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

First Day of Fall Classes

For me, that is. Wish me luck!
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Friday, September 05, 2008

Proof That Some Tasks Are Better Left To Professionals

For instance, beard trimming!

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Are The Slackers No Longer Slacking?

I just read this great piece in the LA Times Blog about how musicians from my generation have begun taking up political activism. Of course, traditionally, these causes would be taken up the youngest generation of musicians, but I think the irony here is that when we were the youngest generation of musicians, we didn't necessarily care that much about causes. That's probably one of the reasons we were called "slackers." As it turns out, however, there may be hope for those of us who are "past our prime." I think the original piece speaks even more eloquently to this:

Rage Against the Machine in Minnesota and the state of political pop | Soundboard | Los Angeles Times

Of course, Rage Against The Machine has always cared about causes, so they were the exception to this rule. In fact, when I saw Tom Morello on his solo acoustic tour a few months ago, I walked out of there convinced that he should run for office! In this video, which is also linked on the LA Times article, Rage performs several tunes a cappella when their performance is cut off at the "Ripple Effect Festival" in Minnesota protesting the RNC convention. I give you the video here, you know, in case you're too much of a slacker to read the article!

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Dr. Horrible Soundtrack Is Available!

Sorry to be a fawning fan-boy, but the Dr. Horrible soundtrack is finally available on iTunes!

I just bought it, and it sounds great! An actual physical CD is forthcoming, if you want to buy the actual physical product, but I'm too impatient to wait. I've been walking around the house singing these songs for weeks!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Two "Rock Docs" You've Gotta See!

Over the summer, I saw several great documentaries recently released on DVD. You must rent or buy these asap - it's the punk thing to do!

"Joy Division (The Miriam Collection)" directed by Grant Gee. If you choose to watch the Ian Curtis biopic "Control" released by the same company, make sure you watch the documentary first! This great and short-lived post-punk band finally gets the historical treatment they deserve.

"The Future Is Unwritten - Joe Strummer" directed by Julien Temple, who previously directed the Sex Pistols documentary "The Filth And The Fury." I've always loved the Clash, but I never realized what an incredible person Joe Strummer really was. This documentary never pulls any punches, showing Strummer at his best and worst, but I admired him even more after watching it. Highly recommended!
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Artist 2.0

Over the past few years, there has been chatter about new media developments, for instance "Web 2.0," "Music 2.0," etc. I believe we are witnessing the emergence of a new type of artist, "Artist 2.0," who will cross traditional borders of media and incorporate old and new media in order to get his/her ideas across. Here are two recent examples:

  1. Joss Whedon, during the writers strike, decided to produce an internet musical webseries (his brother actually coined the term "mushortio" to describe it) outside the traditional studio system. "Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog" turned out to be such a huge success that it crashed their server during the first day of it's release. It was streamed free for one week, but offered for sale on iTunes as well, and it continues to be in the top ten TV seasons now, 3 weeks later. It is currently streaming ad-supported on, and will be released on DVD in a few months. The soundtrack will also be released soon, presumably on iTunes. Whedon and company spent no money on promotion for the series. Instead, they used MySpace and Facebook, obviously to great effect!
  2. Trent Reznor is in talks with HBO for a television adaptation of "The Year Zero" (see my earlier post.) This will reportedly be accompanied by another album, as well as an Alternate Reality Game (they also did an ARG for the original record.)
Now, just in case you think I'm grasping at straws, I Googled "Artist 2.0" and found an NY Times article published more than a year ago where they used the term. I guess I can't get credit for coining the term...
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Zack is Back!

An interview with Zack de la Rocha in yesterday's L.A. Times Music Blog:

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Trent Reznor Announces More "Year Zero" Plans

Trent Reznor is now in negotiations with HBO to present a two-season "maxiseries" based on "The Year Zero." I have a feeling we will be seeing more of artists crossing traditional media boundaries to get their ideas out there, especially as they begin to untether themselves from traditional media conglomerates. I'm definitely interested to see how this proceeds!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another Multitrack Audio Format - iKlax

Somebody commented on my earlier post, so I checked it out, and it looks interesting. iKlax is a music-based social network which allows artists to offer their music in a multitrack format, and listeners can do their own remixes. Interesting concept, and it's free to join: - HOME - Download multitrack and interactive music
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Great Album Covers of the '70's

I miss (vinyl) record covers. When I was growing up, there was something magical about record covers that I think has been lost since the advent of the CD. Many of us considered it to be an art form, as well.
I found this blog post, and I wanted to share it. I agree with most of his choices, especially "Maggot Brain," "Headhunters" and "Wire." I always loved the cover for Santana III as well:

Anyway, check out the original post. Are there any other '70's covers you think the blogger missed?
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Musicians Survey

If you have a moment, pop over to hypebot and take this survey. It's very short, and should only take several minutes. I'm interested to see what comes of it:

hypebot: A Short Survey For Musicians
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Monday, July 14, 2008

Act 1 of Dr. Horrible is Now Live!

The first act has been posted! Check it out and report back here!

Dr. Horrible
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Happy Birthday Woody Guthrie!

Iconic American singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, in Oklahoma. Best known for "This Land Is Your Land," one of his more than 1,000 compositions, Guthrie died in 1967.

To learn more about Woody Guthrie, read about him at Britannica: Woody Guthrie
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Krofft Supershow!

If you grew up with any of the campy creations of Syd and Marty Krofft, such as "Land of the Lost," "H.R. Pufnstuf," "Sigmund & The Sea Monsters," or "Lidsville," you will appreciate the new MySpace TV channel they have just created for them: - Sid and Marty - 39 - Male - -
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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Voicemail Is Dead!

Over the past several years, I've become increasingly annoyed with having to check voicemail. I'm overjoyed to know I'm not alone:

Think Before You Voicemail

Who is with me? Can I get an "amen?"
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Friday, July 04, 2008

The Internet Police

Interesting article on TorrentFreak about file sharing:

Indiana Gregg to The Pirate Bay: The Internet Police Are Coming | TorrentFreak
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An exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Matt Mahaffey working on the next sElf masterpiece. A must-see!

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Hammer Time

Get prepared for Dr. Horrible by reading about Captain Hammer on the Dark Horse Comics myspace page:

I'm telling you, even if musicals scare you, this one is going to be good!
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dr. Horrible Trailer

Check out this trailer for "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the upcoming web-only musical by Joss Whedon, starring NPH, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day. It's going to be awesome!

Teaser on Vimeo
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oldest Recording of Music Played by a Computer

From BBC News (article includes an audio link):

BBC NEWS | Technology | 'Oldest' computer music unveiled
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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Throw Away Your DI Box!

Somebody has come up with a phantom powered guitar cable that has it's own preamp. Why didn't anyone think of this before?

FET Preamp Cable
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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A New Audio File Format

Korean engineers have developed a new digital music format with a file extension of MT9. The product name is "Music 2.0," and it seems to be a multi-channel format. According to what little info I can find, the interface will allow the listener to separately control the volume of guitars, drums, vocals, bass, and other mix elements. This leads me to believe the audio files will be imbedded with "stems" of each mix element, although I have been unable to confirm that assumption. It is expected that the format will be formally adopted at the upcoming international MPEG conference this year. The company which developed it is Audizen, and I encourage anyone who can read Korean to visit the site and find out more!

Here are also three articles I found on the subject:
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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

We Lost Another Giant

On June 2, legendary singer/songwriter/guitarist Bo Diddley passed away of heart failure. He was extremely influential, and he will be missed.

Read more about him on Bo Diddley
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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Finally, a good use for multi-touch

All I can say is, I want one!

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Apple Mac Music Video

This video seems to have been made almost entirely from the OSX desktop! Quite ingenious, and it looks like it took a bit of work!

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Monday, May 05, 2008

The New Age of Marvel!

After the impressive box office performance and nearly universal positive reviews of "Iron Man," Marvel Studios announced dates for the next spate of films. In 2010, "Iron Man 2" will be released on April 30th, followed by "Thor" on June 4th. In 2011, "Captain America" will throw his shield into the ring on May 6th, and "The Avengers" will be released sometime in July.

And, in case you've been living in a cave, we are scheduled for a reboot of "The Incredible Hulk" in June, and a "Punisher" movie in December.

Since Iron Man was the first independent effort for Marvel Studios, I think they were waiting to see how it would perform before they made any more announcements. I think I can safely speak for all comic book geeks when I say "Hallelujah!"

If you haven't seen Iron Man yet, get thee to a theater, and don't you dare leave the theater until the screen goes completely dark!
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Thursday, May 01, 2008

May 1 is "RSS Awareness Day"

According to, "only a very small percentage of the internet population is aware of the RSS format and its benefits." Accordingly, they have declared May 1st "RSS Awareness Day," in order to help spread the word about the benefits.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is most beneficial to those who follow blogs, but I've noticed that even some bloggers don't know what it is.

So, if you have no idea what RSS is, head to and watch the short video they put together, or just look it up on Wikipedia. Then, come back here and subscribe to my RSS feed!

RSS Awareness Day
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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Ma Rainey!

Vocalist Ma Rainey, known as the "Mother of The Blues," was born on this date in 1886. She is not as well-known today as her protege Bessie Smith, even though she actually outlived her by several years. Her influence on the next generation of blues and jazz singers, however, is universally recognized by scholars and musicians.

Learn more about Ma Rainey at Britannica online: Ma Rainey
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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hooray For Earth-Warm Out

I saw this Boston-based band on Record Store Day at the Newbury Comics near Berklee. I liked it so much I bought their "Cellphone" EP and I've been listening to it ever since. A fascinating combination of drop-tuned guitars, unconventional chord progressions, shimmering keyboards, and catchy melodies. The video is funny, too!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New NIN Single

Nine Inch Nails has just released a brand new single, which can be downloaded for free at:

You can also download the multitrack files at:

If freedom from record contracts means that artists like Trent Reznor will be releasing music more frequently, I say "bring it on!"
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Support Your Local Record Store

Saturday April 19 is Record Store Day. Independent music stores all across the country will be participating, with in-store performances, prizes, etc. Go to the website (link below,) find a participating store near you, and show your support. The "Mom and Pop" stores are an important resource we can't afford to lose!

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stay In Your Box!

I have always assumed that artists were much more willing to think "outside the box" than the rest of the world. However, I have come to realize that many of us have our respective boxes that imprison us, and the arts are certainly not immune. In fact, arts education seems to be a bit more prone to traditionalism, and music is often the worst offender. This is unfortunate, because if we need bold, out-of-the-box thinking anywhere, it is in education.

I saw this growing up, as the son of a music educator who often got in trouble for thinking too far outside of the box. However, I had always assumed that my generation would be the one to change things. Maybe some things never change.....
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Geek Credentials

So, I feel like I established my geek credentials early in life. I started wearing glasses in the 4th grade, and started playing trombone in the 5th grade. I voraciously read Marvel comics and science fiction novels, used words like "voraciously" in everyday conversation, saw every episode of the original Star Trek series multiple times, saw the first 3 Star Wars films multiple times in the theaters, played D&D, learned to program in Basic on an Apple II, etc. all before I graduated from high school.

Alright, so the third Star Wars film came out after I graduated from high school, but here's my point: Now that it's "cool" to be a geek, it's a bit annoying when I see someone I know was a jock in high school pretending they were a geek all along. I'm just saying....
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Monday, April 14, 2008

Recommended Reading for Music Types!

I recently read the autobiography of Al Kooper ("Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards,") and I am currently reading a book by and about Phil Ramone ("Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music.") I highly recommend both books for musicians as well as producer/engineers.

Al Kooper is a colorful character, and his book is interesting just for the stories. Throughout his career, he has worn many hats, including that of songwriter, arranger, recording artist, sideman, producer, A&R scout, and probably a few more I have forgotten. He first came to fame as the organist on Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone," and it's fascinating reading how he actually got the gig!

He originally came to my attention as the producer of the Tubes debut album, but he is much more famous for producing Lynyrd Skynyrd's early albums, as well as being the guy who originally signed them. He is multi-talented, and a true "renaissance man." Unfortunately, that also means that has never fit into the "box" that the music industry and it's associated media likes to fit people into, which is why he never became a big star. I hope someday he will get the recognition he deserves, and I hope he lives to see it.

On a more personal note, I discovered that, until recently, he was teaching at Berklee, and he lives in the next town over from me. If I ever get to meet him, you'll definitely hear about it here!

Phil Ramone's book doesn't have as colorful stories as Kooper's does, but it is interesting just the same! Ramone (not a member of the Ramones, btw) was a classically trained violinist who started his career in the late 1950's as an engineer, and didn't really begin making his name as a producer until the 1970's.

I was most familiar with his production work with Billy Joel, but I was surprised to see some of the records he engineered in the 1960's. He worked on some of the Burt Bacharach records, and even recorded some landmark jazz albums, such as the Getz/Gilberto record. I was surprised to learn that I grew up listening to some of the records he engineered, such as Dionne Warwick's late-1960's work, produced by Bacharach (my mother had it on 8-track!)

Ramone's book describes his working relationship with Billy Joel and Paul Simon, as well as other artists. He also talks a bit about recording techniques, so it's essential for engineers. It's not necessarily an autobiography, in that it's more about his work than his life.

Get a signed copy of Al Kooper's "Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards" from his website.

Phil Ramone's autobiography "Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music" at Amazon.
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Saturday, April 05, 2008

A social network exclusively for Mac users

This is an interesting social network, in that users install an application on their Mac, rather than interfacing through a web browser. This allows the social network to be integrated with other OSX services, such as the address book.

net4mac - Social networking for Mac users

I'm giving it a shot, because it looks interesting. If you decide to join, my username is "doc" (my nickname when I worked at the Apple Store last fall.)
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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Apple Is Now #1 Music Retailer

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Remix a new Radiohead track

A Twitter friend pointed out the following site to me:

Radiohead/ Remix/ Nude

If you do a remix and enter the contest, let us know so we can vote for you!
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Dealing with "bully" bosses

This is a little off-topic, but it's very important. Having somehow survived some recent jobs victimized by "bullies" as well as "toxic" types, I wish I had seen this at least 10 years ago. Thank God I don't have to deal with this at my current job.

Important information for everybody, no matter what field you are in. Don't be a victim!

How to Deal With Bully Bosses - - Business Technology Leadership
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Sunday, March 30, 2008

More Record Label Hypocrisy

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Friday, March 28, 2008

We're Not Out Of The Woods Yet!

The Royalty Scam - New York Times

You must read this article. Billy Bragg brings up some interesting issues, and I think he's right on the money. This quote especially made me think:
"The claim that sites such as MySpace and Bebo are doing us a favor by promoting our work is disingenuous. Radio stations also promote our work, but they pay us a royalty that recognizes our contribution to their business. Why should that not apply to the Internet, too?"

The moral of this story: For years, the record labels have been making loads of money off of artists, yet sharing very little of the profits with the artists themselves. Along comes the internet, promising new avenues of distribution for artists, yet the artists still don't seem to be getting fairly compensated for their work! Mr. Bragg feels, and I agree with him, that we need to find new methods for artists to protect and be compensated for their intellectual property.
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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Great Singer, Not A Robot!

Last week, when I was in Montreaux, Switzerland, I saw this statue of Freddie Mercury. Apparently, he owned a studio there, and spent a great deal of time there near the end of his life. Now, that's a singer who never needed auto-tune!
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Replaced By Robots

As I was randomly shuffling through the lame music on commercial radio today, I was alarmed at the increasing use of blatant auto-tune. Then, something occurred to me: Maybe the major labels are trying to desensitize the public so that they will be able to eventually replace human singers with robots! Just think how much they will be able to increase their profits if they don't have to pay artists.

Then, of course, the final step will be to eliminate the songwriters. I'm sure some programmers are at this very moment working on applications that will examine current hits and "compose" similar music. It's too bad there are so many sheeple out there who will probably listen to it!
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring Break Trip, Final Day

So, you may be asking "what happened to days 5-8?" Internet access was a bit more expensive in Switzerland, and all I could afford was a 1/2-hour iChat with my wife.

Paris was fun, but I must say, I loved Switzerland. The mountains reminded me of home, and the people were very friendly. Once I get back to Boston, I will post some pictures, but let me give you some highlights.

We spent a day in Montreaux, where we spent some time touring the Castle of Chillon. This is my first time in a real medieval castle, and my inner goth embraced the experience! There was also a statue of Freddy Mercury, who apparently owned a studio there, and spent quite a bit of time there in his final years. Of course, the song "Smoke on the Water" talks about a studio in Montreaux that burned down, but I didn't have time to find it.

We also went to Geneva yesterday, which was a beautiful city. Most of our time in Lausanne was spent performing, and both performances went very well.

All in all, this was an enjoyable trip, but I am glad to be returning home.
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spring Break Trip, Day 4

We are now in Lausanne Switzerland, on Lake Geneva. You can see the Alps in the distance, and they are pretty spectacular.

The classical groups are performing tomorrow afternoon at a church, and the jazz groups will be performing on Monday evening at the local Conservatory. We will still be riding high from our sold-out show on Friday, so I'm sure Monday will be great. It also looks like we'll have a bit more free time on this leg of the trip (although not quite enough to go skiing.)

The weather was great today, but it has started raining, and it may snow tomorrow. So far, though, it doesn't seem too different from France. The drivers seem a bit more insane, though. No sooner did we pull into town when someone hit our bus trying to get past it.

On the trip, I've been reading "Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards," the autobiography of journeyman producer/musician/songwriter Al Kooper (not to be confused with Alice Cooper.)

I've always been a fan of Al Kooper's work, from his days playing organ for Dylan, as a founding member of both The Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears, to his productions for Lynyrd Skynyrd, as well as (my favorite) The Tubes debut album. He's quite a character, and it's a great read.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring Break Trip, Day 3

We had a long day of rehearsals at the Victor Hugo Theater today, and it was well worth it. The jazz bands and jazz vocal group did an awesome job! I'm especially proud of my singers, as only half the group came on the trip! I have six girls in the group, and only three were able to make it. I did have to cheat a little, though: None of my altos came, so I'm singing alto.

After the concert, some of the faculty went to a cafe for dessert. They were doing Karaoke there. French Karaoke is a little strange, but they really get into it.

Tomorrow morning, we pack up and drive to Switzerland for a few days, with a classical concert on Sunday and a jazz one on Monday. We'll see how the internet access is there. Au revoir for now!
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring Break Trip, Day 2

Wi-fi is expensive, so I have to make these blog entries brief.

Rushed through the Louvre this morning, then to Notre Dame. Our students did a house concert this evening in Paris, then we had dinner in the Bastille area. Also, somewhere in there we did a driving tour around the city.

Apparently, Paris is now much cleaner than it used to be. Traffic is nuts, though. Of course, the food is great!

Now I'm dead tired after chasing high school students all over the place.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spring Break Trip, Day 1

Finished my first full day in Paris. Took a while to get wi-fi access.

Saw the Eiffel Tower and Versailles. Except for dealing with spazzy high school kids, it was fun.

Dead tired after being awake for 36 hours.
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Monday, March 10, 2008

For Vinyl Lovers Only

An interesting application for high-resolution archiving of your vinyl collection:

Pure Vinyl™
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Saturday, March 08, 2008

More Major Label Hijinks

Can you believe the gall of these people? Seriously, don't even try to get signed to a major. If you want to know how it feels, try standing on a street corner in the inner city, naked and holding up a wad of 100 dollar bills, and see what happens!

Enough of my yakkin' -- just check out the link:

hypebot: Old School Accounting Plagues Music 2.0
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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Larry Norman

I still can't believe we lost Larry Norman. In the week-and-a-half since his passing, I have been contemplating what I should write about him. I'm not sure people quite realize the extent of the cultural impact of Larry Norman, not only on Christian music, but popular music in general. Even Frank Black of the Pixies has cited him as an influence, and Black was working on a project with him shortly before his death.

Growing up in the evangelical church in the 1970's, Larry Norman certainly had an impact on me. In particular, I memorized every groove of "Only Visiting This Planet," listening with headphones late into the night and dissecting each lyric, riff, and production technique.

In the 1970's, Christian music paled in comparison to what was happening in mainstream music, and there were no "Christian Rock" stations, because there was very little Christian Rock. Norman proved that Christians could create music with artistic merit. He was also not afraid to write about taboo subjects, and he ruffled quite a few feathers, especially in the mainstream church.

Of course, he was too "Christian" for rock radio and too "Rock" for Christian radio, and even though his debut album was on a major label, he labored in relative obscurity for his entire career. He should be celebrated as a bona fide legend by now, but CCM listeners do not venerate their elders. It doesn't help that very little of his back catalog is in print.

Let's hope that someday his genius will be recognized, and his back catalog released so that future generations can hear his voice!
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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Hypocrisy of the RIAA

I'm too mad to even comment on this one:

RIAA plays both sides of the street in music royalty debate
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Monday, March 03, 2008

Trent Reznor's first independent release

Nine Inch Nails today announced their first release outside the major labels, the 36-song instrumental "Ghosts I-IV." It is available in a variety of pricing options, from a 9-song free version to a $300 vinyl release with a ton of extras. Probably the most attractive option to the casual fan is a download-only version of the entire album plus a PDF and other extras for $5!

The paid downloads are offered in a choice of (DRM-free) formats: 320kpbs LAME mp3, FLAC lossless, or Apple lossless.

My advice, however: Wait a day or so until they iron out their server issues. I don't think they expected such an overwhelming response. I have been unsuccessful so far in downloading my order.

It has only been a few months since Mr. Reznor announced his departure from his label. I am impressed that he has released new material this quickly, and I think/hope the response to it is a very positive sign!


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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Obsolete Skills

I found an interesting and rather sad wiki database of obsolete skills, or "things we used to know that no longer are very useful to us."

Obsolete Skils: Skills/Skills

Readers (mourners) are invited to contribute to the list.
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