Andy on the Road

7 January 2010

Lefsetz Letter on the Live Nation / Ticketmaster merger

Filed under: deepthoughts,music,soapbox — Andy @ 10:46 pm

I mentioned a few days ago that I’d be spending a good slice of this year analyzing the Live Nation / Ticketmaster proposed merger from as many angles as I could manage. (There’s an antitrust law casebook on my lap as I write this.) Anyone following along with me would probably like to know that this evening music industry expert Bob Lefsetz has posted on his very influential Lefsetz Letter his rundown on the merger.

Lefsetz approaches this from the perspective of the largest complaint we’ve heard on this merger: that this is going to impact ticket prices and make it more expensive to see shows. He attacks this in a rather sobering way, noting that not for years has Live Nation or Ticketmaster been about much other than the money. When Don Law and Robert Sillerman were making their bones buying out other promoters they were doing it for profit, and today the market (as much as there still is one) will keep the downward pressure on prices until we find equilibrium. It’s the market that dictates this merger, and the bottom line which is leading these companies to act. He also notes that artists deserve a lot more blame than they are receiving for the perpetually skyward costs in the live concert industry, and perhaps this is the product of the slow commoditization and big business-ification of our once-innocent industry.

I landed my first gig in the music industry in late 2002 (before I could drink, sign a contract, buy a lottery ticket, or even drive after midnight in Massachusetts), and have been working in and out of the business ever since. My first employer has been the one constant source of work throughout my entire career: a small in size but big in results concert promoter of the old guarde, and my longstanding mentors even through my present hiatus in law school. And so, my concern is not about ticket prices. From an industry perspective I do have faith in the free market to settle this somewhat – that there will come a time when U2 realizes they won’t fill Boston Garden at $250 a seat and the prices will sink. From a selfish angle I can still shell out $10 to see the bands I give a damn about at the Black Cat or Middle East, so no harm there.

No, my concern is the independent promoters. It’s something most concert goers do not notice or really care about, but the promoter is the catalyst that makes concerts happen. The promoter gets the venue, artist, labor, and marketing together to actually make a show come to life. The promoter assumes the risk; indeed, the promoter is the one that takes the proverbial and literal risk in the idea. Without independent promoters, my fear is that live performance market will suffer from a rather stagnant imagination. Put it another way: No Micheal Lang and crew, no Woodstock. No Dave Werlin, no Phish festivals. No Marc Geiger and crew, no Lollapalooza. No Kevin Lyman, no Warped Tour. No Barry Horgan, no All Tomorrow’s Parties. No Goldenvoice Concerts, no Coachella. The organic feel of all these festivals (in their early forms) is no happenstance. And that’s just the creativity. The innovations made in better live concert experiences (from more peaceful security to integrated medical support to clever concert swag) were made not out of concern for corporate shareholders, but with genuine desire to give fans the best experience possible. I do not, for a moment, believe that a corporate conglomerate will ever match what the independent and dispersed market has provided.

Throughout all of this ticket sale information is one of the closest guarded secrets a promoter can have. All calculations are made and most expenses flow from the volume of tickets sold at concert. At the really big shows – the festivals especially – you never want your rival promoters to know how many tickets you are selling, because a good promoter can do so much damage with that information. As healthy and strong as my relationship with my old employer was, I know my old bosses would fire me on the spot were I to start leaking that information to rival promoters.

But in America you have to sell your tickets with Ticketmaster, and thus Ticketmaster will always know how you’re doing. And in almost every market in America you are competing with Live Nation in the live promotion market: they own the venues and they have the promotion shops to make these shows happen on their own. My fear is what will happen to the independent promoters once their biggest rivals in the market know exactly how much money they are making. I’m not sure yet if it’s a fear I can characterize under the Sherman Act, but it’s a fear I have as a music lover and fan and what leads me to staunchly oppose this merger.

5 January 2010

Clearing the Cobwebs

Happy 2010, all.

I’m back in DC after another lovely few weeks up in Massachusetts. I feel as though I’ve been out of touch with the world of current events, so I took a slice of my extended break to catch up on my RSS feeds. Here are a few stories that caught my eye. Once things settle down here a little bit I’ll start writing in earnest again.

  • Although I never wrote much about it on this blog for reasons I expressed here, I’ve been following the recent developments in the Sony v. Tenenbaum case. After the jury verdict came down and formal judgment was entered in December, much has been made of the constitutionality (and in some circles, the prudence) of the $675,000 verdict in Tenenbaum and $1,920,000 in Captiol v. Thomas. The team defending Tenenbaum have now filed a motion for a new trial on these grounds, arguing the verdict violated due process under St. Louis I.M. & S. Ry. Co. v. Williams and progeny. Predictably, Torrentfreak sees this as potentially diluting the lofty statutory damages used by the RIAA to scare its patrons into so many $3500 settlements, while Ben Sheffner over at Copyrights & Campaigns notes the conspicuous absence of any case that has found statutory damages (as opposed to punitive damages) to be violative of due process. UPenn was gracious enough to host an excellent back-and-forth between Sheffner and Pamela Samuelson on this exact subject, for the especially curious. Constitutional question aside, Ron Coleman over at Likelihood of Confusion gives a great wide-angle perspective on the whole affair, which I found rather refreshing.
  • Speaking of Mr. Sheffner, he posted up on Wired the 5 cases that defined music law for 2009. While I disagree with his analysis (I often do), he lays out exactly where we are in this field today: RIAA filesharing battles finding results with massive judgments against individuals, the MGM v. Grokster “inducement” theory finding some teeth in the Bit Torrent realm, and content creators clashing head-on with online service providers over DMCA safe harbors. (And Bridgeport v. Dimension Films is still good law, much to my chagrin.) And while we’re on the subject of Wired end-of-the-era lists, here are the top 10 cybercrimes of the decade.
  • Meanwhile, some law nerd circles – including the always excellent Volokh Conspiracy – are buzzing about the constitutional questions raised by the health reform legislation pending in Congress. The argument, according to those raising it, is that the mandate that all persons buy health insurance is an unconstitutional exercise of congressional power under the Commerce Clause. As I was discussing with my roommates tonight (GWU Law 2Ls, the lot of us), I just don’t see this argument flying under the modern-day Lopez test. Nevertheless, there appears to be a lawsuit waiting for ripeness in the wings.
  • On the music front, my friend Sawyer Jacobs’ fantastic music collective Underwater Peoples just released their winter sampler. For those of you that missed it, they made a good splash back in June with their summer analogue, including some rare praise from Pitchfork. Fully acknowledging my bias after spending a great summer with Mr. Jacobs last year as Berkterns, I think these guys are one of the coolest collectives to hit the scene since Elephant Six. And speaking of those cats, one of the first new issues to come out of E6 in what seems like years is a new Apples in Stereo / Olivia Tremor Control side-project, Thee American Revolution. Both the UP Winter Sampler and the Thee American Revolution albums have been in heavy rotation on the ol’ iPod over the past week or so. Well, those and the annual DJ Earworm United State of Pop mashup.
  • My buddy (and singer-songwriter) Brian Bergeron has gone all Kerouac on me and moved from his (and Kerouac’s) hometown of Lowell, MA out to San Francisco. While out there he’s been firing up the blog and commenting on music, media, and society – subjects close to both of our hearts. I am delighted to see him take up the issue of net neutrality (which he correctly identifies as a less-flashy-than-normal cause for artists, but extremely important), and wish him all the best on his adventures out there.
  • For Brian and my other music industry friends: take a moment to read Bob Lefsetz’s predictions for 2010 and beyond. It’s rather 30,000 feet and raises more issues than it solves, but I suppose those are the sort of characteristics that go with the future-predicting territory. I think he was dead-on to raise the potential Live Nation / Ticketmaster merger as the most significant event on the horizon this year. I’m studying antitrust law now, in part to help me wrap my head around this beast. My fellow industry wonks may also appreciate this recent interview of Donald Passman in the Berklee Music Business Journal, marking the release of the new seventh edition of his All You Need to Know About the Music Business.
  • On the lighter side, way back in November Wicked Local Brookline brought us the best use of federal stimulus money I’ve heard yet: a proposal to fix the MBTA 66 Bus.
  • My new favorite blog is the Legal Satyricon, brought to you by IP and First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza (working in one of the most interesting places a First Amendment lawyer can work these days: the adult entertainment industry). Randazza is most recently famous for representing the owner of glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com against an attempted WIPO takedown by Glenn Beck himself. Randazza’s eventually successful response brief (PDF) has to be the funniest legal filing I have ever seen. As his casework suggests, the Legal Satyricon is a profoundly irreverent (and sometimes downright nasty) look at IP and free speech issues, delivered in a smug but intelligent way. Recently he took aim at  Alan Grayson for using an anti-fraud statute to attempt to imprison the founder of an anti-Grayson website (I know. I used to like the guy too.), and totally destroyed former Representative Ted Klaudt for trying to use “common law copyright” to keep news sources from printing stories about his conviction of child rape and witness tampering.
  • Another excellent blogger is my friend and former coworker Chris Devers, who has been combining his various Internet presences into a Posterous blog which I’ve been following recently. A recent highlight was his writeup of the last day of the Zeiss Projector at the Boston Museum of Science’s planetarium. Half the fun of going to the planetarium was seeing that mutant steampunk barbell in action. I hope the new projector can live up to its predecessor.
  • And finally, while I’m as excited as the next tech-minded 20something about the new Apple tablet, I share Mr. Colin Ashe’s well-honed and succinct skepticism about its ability to singlehandedly save the publishing industry.

It’s good to be back. Here’s to a successful new year in all of our endeavors.

2 December 2009

In Memoriam: Bess Lomax Hawes and “M.T.A.”

Filed under: boston,huh.,music — Andy @ 12:02 am

Born into the most important roots music family this side of the Seegers, Bess Lomax Hawes was an epic anthropologist and musicologist in her own right, a member of the ever-interesting Almanac Singers, and, most significantly for us Bostonians, the co-author (along with Jacqueline Steiner) of  the song “M.T.A.,” more popularly known as “Charlie on the M.T.A.”

The Kingston Trio – M.T.A.

As a Dissent Magazine article from 2008 points out, the history of this song is often obscured while we fawn over the Kingston Trio and use our CharlieCards to navigate the M(B)TA. It’s a fascinating history which sets a far better stage for appreciating Ms. Hawes’ classic.

(more…)

17 November 2009

Support WFMU Right Now!

Filed under: friendsromanscountrymen,goodcalls,music — Andy @ 7:36 pm

Last week, WFMU‘s ever-amazing “Beware of the Blog” announced that they would be holding the first-ever 24-hour fund-raising drive to cover their operating costs between their annual, excellent Marathons in the spring.

From the Blog:

WFMU prides itself on holding only one on-air fundraiser per year: our annual Marathon, which is a 2-week-long frenzy of great prize giveaways, hilarious co-host banter, surprise guests, and more caffeine than a case of Sparks (RIP). The listener support we bring in during the Marathon is normally enough to fuel our fire for a full year. While WFMU came very close to making our goal during the Marathon this March, we still fell short (I smell recession).

Because it’s tough to operate with an empty bank account and there’s an entire winter to get through until our next Marathon, WFMU needs to break with tradition by holding a brief on-air fundraiser next week.

Truly independent free-form radio is crucially important for music, the arts, and culture, and WFMU is (in this author’s humble opinion) the cream of the crop. I know times are tough all over, but any money you can give to these guys will help tremendously.

In this age of institutional corruption where money buys programming on the overwhelming majority of commercial radio, this station remains one of the few detached from this corporate influence and wholly dedicated to taste. The station has launched thousands of bands and tastemakers (Jeff Magnum was a DJ at WFMU, for goodness sake!) and are tremendously important in shaping modern culture. It’s your social obligation – like PBS or NPR, but for young people.

The 24-hour marathon just started about half an hour ago, and runs through tomorrow. You can donate on the phone at 800-989-9368 or online here. And while you do so you can listen to the station online.

3 October 2009

Mojo Nixon to put entire catalogue online, for free

Filed under: copyleft,huh.,intellectual property,music,seriesoftubes — Andy @ 2:40 pm

(Mojo, as captured by Flickr user kathyp.)

Digital Music News is reporting today that psychobilly legend Mojo Nixon is going to release his entire catalogue – over 150 songs – online for free download, alongside the debut of his latest album, Whiskey Rebellion (also free).

DMN:

“I’m just the kind of crazy person to do it,” Mojo told Digital Music News in a phone conversation.  “What do I have to lose?  I’ll make make more money off of this in the long run.” […] The Orchard is now preparing an official release on the matter, pending various executive approvals.  “Getting all 150 tracks, that might be like having a bacon sandwich with sausage on it.  It’s like chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup,” Mojo shared. [Link added for reference.]

I don’t put this up here suggesting this is the way to go for everybody.  Indeed, Mojo’s 1980s releases on Restless Records might cause The Orchard some trouble during those “executive approvals.” Restless would probably be more into getting their catalogue out there for free before they were bought out by WMG.  Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating step, and something to talk about during the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit over the next few days.

13 September 2009

Joe Satriani v. Coldplay ends in settlement.

Filed under: intellectual property,music,nerdingout — Andy @ 12:49 pm

Whenever Coldplay releases an album these days it starts a small wave of copyright litigation.  Last year’s Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends was no exception.  Last week, however, that docket got a little bit lighter, as the most prominent infringement case settled.  Joe Satriani, famed rock guitarist and founder of the G3 tours, claimed in a lawsuit back in December that the title track off of Viva La Vida infringed Satriani’s copyright in his 2004 track if “If I Could Fly.”  In essence, Satriani argues “Viva La Vida” copied his song without permission.  Here are both for comparison:


Joe Satriani – If I Could Fly


Coldplay – Viva La Vida

For a really ill-informed discussion of this case, check out the comments on the Satriani YouTube post.  For a more music-theory based discussion of their similarity, check out this excellent YouTube video from a guitar instructor in Canada.

On the music side of this (and largely care of the above posted video) here’s the rundown: Coldplay’s song is in a slightly swung rhythm at about 138 BPM, in the key of F minor doing a VI–VII–III–i (Dbmaj–Ebmaj–Abmaj–Fminor) progression.  Satriani’s song is also at about 138 BPM, roughly the same rhythm, and the chorus goes through a iv–VII-III-i progression in B minor (Em7–Amaj-Dmaj7–Bm).  At this most fundamental level, the only variants between the two are the key and the first chord of the progression – and the two different chords are actually quite similar.  The VI chord in the Coldplay is the relative major of the iv chord in the Satriani (which is to say if they were in the same key they’d share 2 out of the three notes in the chord).  In other words, the meter is the same, the chords are virtually identical, and where the chords vary they still are quite similar harmonically.  Now, this progression is just a progression, and as an old song from my band notes there’s a lot of songs that share the same three or four chords.  Nevertheless, it is a fairly unique progression, a fact which wouldn’t bode well for Coldplay.  There are many other elements to consider, but it does certainly lay a musical foundation for substantial similarity.

As for the legal analysis, it’s important to remember that the substantial similarity between these two would have to be either admitted by Coldplay or found at trial (Coldplay demanded a jury trial in their answer, so it would have gone to a jury to decide unless the evidence was so overwhelming as to lead a judge to direct a verdict on that point).  Absent such a finding or stipulation, I can’t say for sure whether the harmonic structure, meter, and rhythm alone would be legally sufficient.  Satriani would also have to prove that Coldplay had access to the work, but given how broadly Satriani is distributed and how broad Coldplay’s musical arms reach I don’t imagine this would be difficult.  Coldplay seems to have challenged this exact point in their Answer, however, arguing as an affirmative defense that these two songs were independent creations.  In other words, Coldplay did their song without ever hearing the Satriani song.  This was one of nine affirmative defenses in their Answer that Satriani would have had to get around, although some of the defenses look a little dubious. (Including “lack of originality” in the Satriani work, which either suggests that Satriani’s work does not have the requisite creativity, which is preposterous, or that Satriani forfeited copyright through 17 U.S.C. § 103(a) by using other copyrighted material without permission, which is highly unlikely.)

Whatever we think of Satriani, Coldplay, or the case in question, the answers to all these legal problems have left the realm of the courts.  The parties asked to settle the case in front of an arbiter in July, and last Wednesday the parties filed a joint stipulation for dismissal of the lawsuit.  Either Satriani was scared off or (more likely) the parties came to some form of settlement.  The question of whether Satriani would have won at trial is now left to speculation by the copyright nerds of the world.

If you’re still interested in the details of the case and up for some legal digging, this case is captioned Satriani v. Martin et al, and all of the filings are up on Justia.  In May, Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) also claimed “Viva La Vida” infringed his original “Foreigner Suite” and threatened action, but about a month later he dropped the suit.

Update – 15 Sept, 8AM: Justia posted two more filings on the Satriani v. Martin docket yesterday, including an official order to dismiss the case with prejudice (meaning that Satriani may not file the case again).  Not too much to see here; I suspect someone will have to get in touch with the parties to hear the details of the settlement.

I also want to take a second to say hello to the folks over at Techdirt for mentioning my blog yesterday while covering this story. Many thanks!

Update 2 – 23 Sept, 10AM: I realize in the comments I was playing it a little fast and loose with the degree to which expert testimony would be admissible with respect to the infringement, so I want to clarify:

Independent origin is a total defense to copyright infringement.  If I were a monk in Nepal and I came up with a song identical to “Viva La Vida” without ever hearing Coldplay’s song to begin with, I could not be found to infringe Coldplay’s song.  However,  proving this degree of “copying” can be very difficult absent party or witness admission (“Yes, I saw Chris Martin at a Joe Satriani concert where he played ‘If I Could Fly.’  Chris had his tape recorder out.”).  Accordingly, courts allow expert testimony to show how unique elements may be used as circumstantial evidence of direct copying (“Given these unique factors, it’s highly unlikely that Chris Martin would have come up with this on his own were it not for hearing Satriani’s song.” combined with “‘If I Could Fly’ was a #1 on Top of the Pops for two weeks and it’s extremely likely that Chris heard it.”).   This is sometimes called the “access/striking similarity” inference of copying.

Proving “copying” is only half of the battle, however.  Satriani would also have to prove that he copied the elements in such a way as to be unlawful appropriation.  Not all copying is copyright infringement, after all, and his copying would have to go to the protectable elements of the expression, and not just the abstract ideas.  The courts have employed variety of techniques in finding this, but at the heart they all recognize this as being the province of the jury, and not the experts.  In other words, we play both and ask the jury to determine whether the copying done in the secondary work is “too much” of the original.  The term most often tossed around here is “substantial similarity,” which helps to illustrate to a degree.

An example might help illustrate: I really love the guitar work of Marc Ribot in Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs.  Were I to try and create that same over-driven Telecaster flamenco-infused soloing in my own song, I am “copying” Ribot but my copying is not so substantial as to be infringement (I think.).  However, as I start to appropriate more – say the notes of the solo or the lyrics of the song or even the chord changes and tempo – this might start to feel more like infringement.

Were Ribot to sue me, he would first either have to prove that I copied his work (I think this blog post might be a good piece of evidence to start with) or prove through circumstantial evidence that I had access and through expert witnesses that the songs are so strikingly similar that I could not have come up with it without copying, and then persuade the jury that my copying was so substantial that it interferes with his monopoly conferred by copyright.  Market harm or other data may be introduced as evidence here to help draw inferences, but ultimately it is for the jury, and not experts, to decide.

So, to artificially draw up some parameters here as a court might, the evidence above about chord structure and melody would go to the “access/striking similarity” inference of copying, and is best paired with some other evidence as to the popularity of “If I Could Fly.”  (SoundScan has Is There Love in Space?, the album containing this song, as selling around 90,000 copies worldwide, for what it’s worth.)  All of this goes to the question of “copying.”  To take this copying into the realm of infringement, however, requires a juror (say, you) to listen to both and determine whether the copying is so substantial as to constitute infringement.  Naturally, this is subject to dispute.

29 July 2009

Bad Call?

Filed under: huh.,intellectual property,music,nerdingout,randomthoughts — Andy @ 7:00 pm

This is a slightly more whimsical (and short) approach to a topic I spilled a great deal of ink on last week.  I saw this bumper sticker on a traffic pole yesterday:

bad rabbits

Clearly, a sticker done in homage to:

bad brains

Is this good?  Bad?  Acceptable?  Infringement?  Legally fine but artistically dubious?  Artistically clever but legally questionable?  An unfair use of Bad Brains’s design to imply support from Bad Brains or their fans?  A strategically bad decision of iconography, considering how different Bad Rabbits and Bad Brains are?  Totally fine and rather cute or amusing?

I’m torn.  All I know for sure is I checked them out because I thought they may be similar to Bad Brains, but they turned out to be entirely different (and I see very little crossover between these fan bases).  I also think I may know some people in Bad Rabbits – at least a few went to Northeastern – so I should be careful before I rip on them too much.

27 July 2009

The State of Music Reviewing

Filed under: huh.,music,seriesoftubes — Andy @ 10:15 pm

The blog Aritsts Paid posted up a video of Rolling Stone and Village Voice music critic Christopher R. Weingarten, speaking at a web/twitter conference in New York this past June.  He argues that crowdsourcing and amateur music blogging has killed popular music:

(Not suitable for work, or for the kiddies.)

With the obvious grain-of-salt caution that this is a Rolling Stone writer complaining about how amateur reviewing has undercut his professional usefulness, Weingarten raises an interesting point. Before the Internet, music reviewers would dish out opinions from up on high.  Their opinions were respected (if not agreed to).  When the Internet first began to spread, music websites kept up this tradition of, as he puts it, separating wheat from the chaff.  But with the advent of the amateur music blog (*ahem*) we switched from parting the waters in music to opening the firehoses.  As Weingarten puts it, it was like a sprinkler, with opinions and MP3s flying everywhere.

On top of this, the one edge “professional” reviewers had for years was the coveted “advance” copy of records: even if consumers didn’t care what people like Weingarten were saying about bands, at least they could scoop us bloggers out here.  Nowadays record labels seem to run their organizations about as watertight as a swiss-cheese submarine, and albums are leaked well in advance of promotional distribution.

At the meat of his speech – around the 7-minute mark – he argues “crowd sourcing killed music” because “people have terrible taste,” and, “if you let people decide what good music is, nothing different or adventurous gets out.”  Weingarten says this trend lead to professional music critics being forced to review bands that are popular instead of bands that are “good,” and a close-minded online listening world (“I only listen to X music and thus I have no idea about Y”).  His solution: spend less time saying online that “I like this music” and start saying why you like different music.  In other words, don’t get so caught up in consensus.  Advocate for the bands you love, and disagree about it.  Practicing what he preaches, his uses his Twitter account to review albums at a breakneck rate, injecting a great deal of “why” into his reviews and keeping pace with the amateur reviewers.

He spends a while complaining that music is “rising to the middle” and popular interest leads to an overabundance of mediocre, mass-appeal bands (citing the current indie rock world as his major case study), which the music world is compelled to review to feed the “click-economy” and get the all-important hits.  While I agree that there are far too many mediocre bands out there, I don’t think that’s the online music world is as dire as he claims.  While Weingarten spends some time talking about the stratification of music consumption (people getting more narrow and closed-minded about listening), he neglects to mention is a duplet characteristic of online music writing: (1) there are a lot of music blogs/twitters/online sources that write about different music online, and (2) many people are diverse in reading blogs.  It doesn’t follow that because music websites are narrow music listeners are too.  Sure, there are blogs like Detailed Twang which focus heavily on a specific genre (to wit, bluesy garage rock and proto-punk), and I read that Detailed Twang for that purpose, but that’s just one music blog in a personal arsenal that I use to keep up with music. Speaking from anecdotal evidence, people tend to diversify their niche sources.

Some people will be closed-minded about music, but that’s no different than listening to Top-40 radio for one’s entire life.  (And I never subscribed to this axiomatic inquiry the because you don’t listen to weird music you are less of a music. I respect objective music fandom above any subjective taste.)  While Weingarten is right about there being a lot of derivative, Pixies-meets-Death-Cab-at-a-party-for-Pinback bands out there, there are also troves of unique and interesting music blogs talking about quality artists.  Save for maybe the late 1960s, I don’t think fringe music fans like us have ever been happy with what’s in the mainstream, be it on radio or in major music blogs.

There’s a certain degree of “physician, heal thyself” sentiment I feel towards Weingarten, but that’s likely misplaced.  I know that he’s not the one that selects which bands to review in Rolling Stone, and I know that precious few places can afford a good music critic (and he is a good critic).  The belt-tightening and corner-cutting of the industry forces most national music magazines to go for quantity of sales over quality of writing.  What we have here is the cost of national distribution.  If Rolling Stone plans to be a magazine with broad appeal, its writers can’t act surprised when they focus on music with broad appeal, “crowdsourced” from the Internet.  While I wholeheartedly share in his dismay of writers being replaced by blogs, there’s an inherent circularity to Weingarten’s central argument about crowdsourcing.  Crowdsourcing by definition seeks information mass of people; the bands that someone finds from such a search will almost by definition mass-appeal.

Critique aside, I do sympathize with Weingarten and other experienced, professional music reviewers.  Were there a place (online or offline) where we congregated and compiled our Lester Bangs protégés I would certainly open my wallet to it.  For now, I suppose the best we can do is promise to each other that we’ll argue viciously over bands and strive not for consensus, but diversity.

25 July 2009

A conversation with Beck and Tom Waits

Filed under: friendsromanscountrymen,music,theroad — Andy @ 11:11 am

Big thanks to the Anti- Records Blog for posting up a pair of conversations Beck and Tom Waits shared on Beck’s website.  A lot of it is inside jokes about LA, but you get a good discussion on the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and Wienerwhistles, playing live shows, the lifespans and utility of songs, Japan, and yo-yos.  Check it out.

For more Waits interviewing, check out this amazing AntiBlog post from May of last year (just before the PEHDTSCKJMBA tour).  Quote of the post:

Q: What is a gentleman?

[Tom Waits]:  A man who can play the accordion, but doesn’t.


7 July 2009

Thrill-arsis

Filed under: huh.,music,seriesoftubes,theroad — Andy @ 5:52 pm

There’s more to write about Michael Jackson – the will and its deep-in-the-music-industry executors, Internet music sales records set and broken this past week care of Jackson, how monoculture will change after his passing – but I’m done.  I think this story has been blogged to death.  I’ll end with the weirdest two stories on this topic: one, care of BoingBoing, that They Saved MJ’s Brain, and two, care of WFMU, on the worst eBay cash-in imaginable.

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