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Archive for the ‘Industry Talk’ Category

musicforweb2

Interesting graph here. Always refreshing to see how all this plays out in terms of units shipped. Never would’ve thought digital downloads, whether they be for singles or for albums, would represent such low revenue in this time and age. Seems like people still haven’t gotten that used to buyin’ on the web, and it appears to be just ridiculous to count on making any money with CDs, so yeah, this graph is yet some more corroborating evidence that bands have got to be as creative in marketing whatever they can, than as in creating their music.

Multi-Tasked Creativity will represent the musician’s greatest ally in the decade to come.

Woof

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“He who rejects change is the architect of decay”.
Harold Wilson

Ever heard of Joel Tenenbaum? Well I hadn’t really paid any attention to that name until today, and more precisely until I read this article from The Guardian – “How it feels to be sued for $4.5m“. I have always known thousands in the states had been sued for absurd sums for sharing music, everyone’s aware of the RIAA’s sissy-fits, but to read such a testimonial set me aback some. Do read it: it was written by Joel himself, and weather you’re with him or against him, it won’t leave you indifferent to his cause.

I don’t want to go into the details of his story because  it is all written marvelously well in that article. What I’ll say is this: Joel is one of the tens of thousands of people who have got their lives crushed just for sharing music. Joel is not the compulsive file-sharer type who detains tera bytes upon tera bytes of music storages on dozens of 7200 rpm, RAID intertwined hard-drives, he’s just one in 50 million file-sharers who unluckily won the RIAA lottery. His battle started off small, just in for a couple of thousand of dollars. Now he is in for millions because he fought back.

joel tenebaum riaa trialHe finally made it to the trial which started yesterday (most people cave in before reaching that point). Joel’s story struck a chord in many music lovers’ hearts, and he is now backed-up by thousands from all over the world. He has got his proper “Joel Fights Back” twitter account (@joelfightsback), twitter feed (#jfb) and website.

The Guardian’s article holds ten pages full of comments, but the very first one made my day. It was written by a nut who hammers Joel by invoking the “you just shouldn’t steal from people more creative than you. You deserve what’s coming at you” speech. I can take a step back like any other and realize there are laws for a reason, that these laws must be reinforced to maintain order. I am not defending Joel 100% just because it’s easy and comforting to be on the martyr’s side, engaging resistance against corporate fat cats, I’m on Joel’s side because if we succumb to absurdity, we are headed straight for a brick wall, the likes of which mankind has a tendency to bang its head against over and over again.

For such trials to be enacted in this day and age is absurd for the simple reason that there is no balance whatsoever between technological advancements and copyright law anymore. The later has, since its most primitive founding, been intimately linked to the former. They both go hand in hand, and when one changes, the other follows briefly after. The recording industry caved in on many accounts in the past because of ever-evolving music distribution mediums, yet now, the RIAA still won’t accept the change p2p brought to their consumers’ consumption habits. And why are they so aggressive? Because of scalability. Never have the paper-rolls, the radio, the cassette-tapes and so on scaled such a gap between consumers and content owners. So members of the RIAA have litterally been shittin’ their pants these two past decades. Their solution: to frantically sue customers at random for completely absurd sums of money for no reason other than fathering fear and making up for decreasing profits.  I would like to repeat myself here: it is only to engender fear and make money that the RIAA is suing. There is no long-tail humanitarian purpose here, there is no will whatsoever to educate the masses, there is no greater master-plan behind all this grief – just fear and money.

We don’t burn people on stakes anymore just because they refuse to believe in the virgin Mary. Same should apply to file sharing and music in 2009. But apparently, that is still far from being the case.

Accepting change is the key to healthy evolution. The first step would be for major labels to admit their wrongs in terms of serving musical garbage to us all these past 10 years. Economic instability, growing gaming industry, DVDs and Internet- related-entertainment didn’t help them one bit in getting back that entrepreneurial spirit they lost so long ago. Add to that p2p networks, and it all seems so logical that the RIAA affiliates are going down the drain, taking 15% decreasing market blows every year or so.

That is just the ways things have changed, and those who go against what has changed, although it is completely beyond their power to do anything about that change, are fools, plain and simple.

Good Luck Joel. You have my total support.

Mruff

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Hypebot’s interview with Amanda Palmer is a must read for basically anybody, so I highly recommend you take some time here and there and check out all three parts (as well as the comments!).

Posted exactly as on Hypebot’s blog:

amanda palmer hypebot interview

If the point is to find meaning and fulfillment but the very idea of staying connected is causing you eternal anxiety, it’s defeating the purpose… I simply feel blessed that I’m an emotional exhibitionist right around the time is seems to be expected and en vogue.”

Part 1Part 2Part 3

Thank you Bruce for this wonderful interview, and of course for Hypebot! (Follow Hypebot on twitter @hypebot)

Oh and here’s Indaba’s interview with Amanda (this time it’s a video!) talking about Twitter (yet again), her crazy success stories, and other music 2.0 stuff – very interesting as always.

Mruff.

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porter mason book

Porter Mason is the guy who drew gigdoggy’s main splash-page cartoon, and a very smart and talented individual at that. I follow him on twitter (@portermason) and the guy’s got a real sense of humor. Not only that, but he’s the embodiment of a DIY artist: he publishes his own books, is on top of the social media game, uses all the tools out there to get his brand out etc..
I received this email this morning, and I just thought I would share it with you doggy-readers as an example of GOOD marketing practice (simple, personal, and funny – i loved the Micheal Bay bit :)

please note that this is the first email of this kind that I ever received from Porter – so I’m not preaching spammy practices to you lot out there – and no, we aren’t paid to write this post :-)

************************************
Summer is here, and prices at PorterMason.com are dropping. Dropping like my rent when I move to Los Angeles in September!

Yes, in September I’m leaving New York to move to Los Angeles.

And you know what I don’t want to move across the country? Unsold piles of my book of comic strips, All Local Bands Suck (Except Ours)!

So help me out: buy my book of comic strips now from PorterMason.com

We all know you want to buy the book, but you just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Well friends, this is your moment.

I’ve even dropped the price to $11.99 for a limited time.

Only $11.99!! That’s less than a single ticket to Transformers 2! For 92 beautiful pages of comic strips from my hit cartoon, Bassist Wanted! And none of that $11.99 will go to support director Michael Bay. I guarantee it.

I think we can all agree my book is this summer’s alternative to Transformers 2.

So again, if you’ve thought about buying the book, I’d really appreciate it if you’d pull the trigger now.

Buy it online right now at: http://PorterMason.com/store

You can use your PayPal account to pay for it, but if that annoys you, PayPal also lets you just use a credit card.

Now if you ever see me in person, I will always have copies of my book on me, and will be happy to sell you one right then. Believe me. Just ask.

But don’t wait to see me! Who ever sees me? No one! And you won’t have cash! Or I won’t be able to make change! Bah! What a hassle! Just buy it now online instead.

And if you wouldn’t mind, please pass on the word about the book.

Email friends. Blog about it. Put stuff on Facebook. Twitter some tweets. Every little bit helps.

Remember, this is a one-man operation.

I have no company backing me and my comics. It’s just me and you, friends. It’s me and you (and my book) against AIG and Halliburton! So let’s really give those corporate jerkfaces a run for their money, huh? Yeah!

OK, that’s it.

Love,
Porter

P.S. I promise I’ll only send these emails once or twice a year.

**********************

Porter is right, i WAS meaning to buy the book and just hadn’t gotten around to it, and I can totally relate to his situation, having moved around myself quite a bit.

Congrats Porter, you just got my $11.99, and we wish you good luck in LA!!

Greg

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nin trent reznor twitter fuck music 2.0Well it’s done, Trent Reznor just deleted his Twitter account. He was one of the first to be harassed by puny users and other Twitterazzi types, and one of the first to leave ship.

From Rolling Stone: “When Twitter made it’s way to my radar I looked at it as a curiosity, then started experimenting. I thought it through and in light of where I was / am in my career I decided to lower the curtain a bit and let you see more of my personality,” Reznor said. “I watched some of you get more engaged because you started to realize there’s a person (flaws and all) back there, and I watched some of you recoil in horror because I’m not what you projected on me”.

I find this quite interesting. The other day I left some comment on Hypebot’s “Amanda ‘Fucking’ Palmer (Part 1) interview” (which is a must-read by the way). One commentator commented upon the fact that a seemingly indestructible platform such as Twitter clearly has a life expectancy. His arguments, some straightforward and simple deductions that go along the lines of “Twitter is new and fun for now, but the narcissistic social game it engages its community in will eventually get old”, got me thinking about the real impact Twitter has on most people, and if that “social game” is really worth the time spent perfecting the skills required to a “must-follow” type of user. And now there’s Mr. NIN, one of the most influential and “must-follow” accounts, that decides to bail. Although I believe he did so for personal reasons other than “Twitter is boring me”, Trent is also saying “Twitter ain’t for me, at least not anymore”. I think many will come to that realization at one point or another. Not every massively popular service is for everybody, and the more some play the game of opening-up-to-the-world, the more they might realize they just don’t like opening-up to the world.

All in all, Twitter can be seen as a sort of gratification game, or tool. I share my insights, my news, all the while shedding some light on my personality, and when I get that RT or that mention, I feel as if I made some impact, as if my presence on the Twittersphere ain’t useless and that some people out there appreciate it. And by Jove how it feels good to achieve that sense of accomplishment in this absurd world (even if it’s only due to words and not actions). Add to that the fact that Twitter is a powerful networking tool, and for me the game is still fun and exciting, as it is for an increasing number of people.

It seems to me that all the social-media success stories are due to specific traits of character. In that Amanda Palmer interview cited above, one particular sentence struck me as being very revealing: “I simply feel blessed that I’m an emotional exhibitionist right around the time is seems to be expected and en vogue.” Not everyone is like Amanda Fucking Palmer, or Trent, or others, weather they be exuberant social figures or more of the discreet kind.

I also want to quote what that commentator (know as “Old Recod Guy”) said on the interview: “Music, and art in general, is cyclical. Right now, most artists have to engage, have to get close to their fans. This is a new sensation for both sides, especially when it comes to bigger acts, for whom a one-to-one dialogue was never really practical. So fans and artists are learning where the boundaries are, what works and what doesn’t, and what the tolerance levels are on both sides.

BUT…..

Sometime in the future, people will get tired of this. They’ll become used to the interaction, the access, they’ll realize that not every artist has something interesting to say, they’ll suck all the ideas and news and gossip and photos and free downloads out of the trough until they want to puke. And that’s when some artist, or movement, will bring back that sense of mystery, that unattainability, and they’ll be huge. They’ll use the new tools to accomplish the task, but they won’t be Tweeting during their colon cleanse. They’ll rebel against the banal status quo, and legions of fans who are sick of it it too will follow them.

And that’s what’s great about art. The new burns down the old to be burnt down by the new, until we fondly remember the old and burn down the new.”

Since I feel incapable of finding a proper conclusion to this post, I will simply ask what you all think about this. Is Twitter popular for the simple reason that we live in a time where gratification and validation are important? Is Twitter working for music just because the former industry model is crumbling, and that Twitter’s direct-to-fan model appeared around the corner at the right time? Is indirect messaging a la Twitter truly to the new communication medium, or is it just a craze?

Woof!

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Ok, that does it. I have to write a post about this whole Tunecore / Universal partnership-thingy that has been going on since the release of the official news last Thursday. For those of you who aren’t aware of this historical event, here’s a quick summary.

tunercore and universalTunecore= low-fee digital distribution platform for bands, that places their music on sites like iTunes, eMusic, Amazone and others. Tunecore launched in 2006 and since then has become one of the most prominent and active digital distribution models out there.

Universal=largest behemoth record label on the planet. Is known to engulf record labels, and many other things.

Since July 9th, Tunecore+Universal=first ever partnership where a major record label offers services instead of offering contracts to indie artists (that I know of).

Since my synopsis might have been unclear, I’ll let Jeff Price, CEO of Tunecore, explain: “In a nutshell, in addition to regular old TuneCore.com, we will also be hosting and serving websites for Universal labels that provide artists distribution while taking none of the artists rights or revenues. At these label portal sites, you not only get distribution but also extra things from each label. We do not yet know what the “extra things” are as each label will be creating their own. These extra things could be musician services, marketing, promotion, information, opportunities etc.

Here’s also an extract of the Ars Technica review on the matter (recommended read): “any artist (big or small) can sell music through iTunes and Amazon for $9.99 already with the help of TuneCore, but now artists can choose to “sign themselves” to one of UMG’s labels—assuming the label is agreeable—for more marketing and distribution opportunities for a separate flat (and affordable) fee. […] Each label within UMG will have its own package of offered services, providing many different choices for the discerning musician. Price said that the individual labels will set up portal sites that will outline what they can do for artists, like finding a similar band to open for you at your next show. “The labels are going to do this without pre-signing or tying down the artist,” (first services should open-up around October 2009)

So now artists have the possibility of signing themselves to a major record label. Historical indeed.

Actually UMG and Tunecore have been in partnership since last year – Tunecore bands have the possibility of ordering mastering sessions from Universal’s studios for only $50 a song. Forum discussion confirmed that the quality was pretty amazing for the price. But this new deal is something else. What does it all amount to for both the artists and UMG’s labels? Well I haven’t been able to find the catch yet and I find myself seduced by the greatness of the initiative.

Is this the model the established record industry needs to follow? Outsourcing its services and know-how to the indie market? Artist can now be DIY and DBSE (done by someone else), keep their rights, and have a steady foot in the door of big time players’ facilities and services. From Universal’s standpoint, such a deal amounts to one big A&R operation without the hassle of actually sending out scouts. If there is no blatant catch here, Tunecore artists will be working side-by-side with a major engaging in a healthy B2B fashion. Really sounds like a win-win.

So seriously, what’s the catch? Is there a possibility that there might be no catch? I have been so brainwashed and accustomed to pointing fingers at major labels that I feel there must be one. As cited above, this might be one the solutions we all need right now, because even in the event where a consolidated band gets approached by UMG to sign whatever sort of contract via this system, I have a tendency to think that the whole process would be different, that the exploitation could come to a halt. Why? Well for different reasons, and for me the most obvious one would be because otherwise this whole new relationship UMG will be developing with the indies would crumble. They would get smacked by music communities in not time if they were to abuse their rights. And they know it’s time for a change.

Although this is still business and not some care bear inspired scenario, and although all of this might only be wishful thinking, such a deal has the potential of re-instating mutual trust between majors, unsigned bands and the public, and this might as well lead to music of a more experimental nature to reach a new, long lost level of popularity and properity, since it will be the artists themselves that will intiate the financial risks.

So catch, or no catch?

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Hey people.

Because I have no inspiration, and because I have yet to encounter some real news worthy stories to write about, I have decided to give you 5 links to articles, rants and whatnot I fell upon today and found particularly interesting. I’ll kick start with the myspace of an awesome band I just discovered so you can check it out while reading the articles.

Enjoy! (click on titles to access links)

Bark

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