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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