Saturday, January 9, 2010

Conference Call

I enter this new year (decade, etc.) posting from the APAP Conference in New York City (just like I pitch'ud it, etc.). "Industry" conferences are always a bit sobering, as you are forced to be with your "peers," which does not always provide comfort. In the record industry, I remember the uneasy feeling that always came with that first entrance to the conference hotel, immediately spying the group of rather unattractive middle-aged men at the bar wearing track suits, chests and gold chains flashing. In the world of "arts presenters," it's frumpy gray hairs wearing the same clothes that they bought in 1972...

But in both cases there is also the group of true peers, inevitably people who are in the "business" for much the same reason you are, which is to say, basically, the music addicts. And every year there are a few more that have crossed over from the other side- colleagues once involved with records, that re-emerge in some aspect of the live music realm. Ah, survival.

The APAP conference is structured thus: "special interest" groups generally have their meetings on the periphery, mostly mornings. I tend to skip all but the most critical of those in favor of at least trying to sleep in. One-to-one meetings start late morning or lunch and run all afternoon. For me, that's mostly with booking agents. Sometimes real work gets done, dates of touring bands are at least held (rarely actually booked here), or you get pitched on additions to their rosters. Other times it's just a schmooze.

Then the good stuff happens in the evening, where literally thousands of bands showcase all over Manhattan and Brooklyn. If you'd like a taste of what's offered, check out this spreadsheet compiled by world music publicist Dmitri Vietz of Rock Paper Scissors. And this is only the world music showcases!

I'll wait to post a more detailed review of my favorite showcases, but so far, after two nights, my favorite moments have come courtesy Punch Brothers and Red Baraat.

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It appears that 2010 will be the year of the Tablet. Apple is set to announce their version, speculated to be called iSlate, later this month.

What's all the fuss about? With the growth of cloud computing (which I talked about in my previous post), and the explosion in popularity of smart phones such as iPhone and their widespread applications, the speculation is that the next generation of computers will be dominated by paired down, slim color displays with advanced interactive capacity that mostly access media remotely. Kind of like a blown-up iPod Touch. Expected to finally deliver the promise of an e-reader that also allows you to use all of your smartphone apps, computer manufacturers from all sectors are rushing to get products to market lest Apple pull their third major product coup in five years and dominate this market as well. Which I suspect is exactly what is about to happen.

For music, some have speculated that this could help restore the album to its former glory, with a device that can accommodate somewhat portable but visually expanded graphics, allowing for a wider experience than listening to songs on a tiny mp3 player. I suspect that the horse has already left that stable (or insert a better animal metaphor here), but if Tablets do become popular, inevitably some new trend of graphics-with-music which takes advantage of their specific capabilities will follow in its wake. And YouTube videos will have to increase their march towards high-rez.

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I'll leave you with some film musings (I know, it's a music blog, but cut me a little slack here). I always look forward to the arrive of a new film by Terry Gilliam, so that's next on my list of must-sees. But I have to say a few words about the pop culture phenomenon called Avatar. If you can get over the ridiculous storyline, one dimensional characters, predictable war/action scenes, awful soundtrack, and over-indulgent length (whew, that's a lot to get over, isn't it?), go see the 3D version of this movie just to experience the most incredible visuals your eyes have ever seen. Believe it or not, it's worth it!


Mama E Dub said...

Main Fig,
I felt exactly the same way about Avatar. You WILL get past all the hokey dialog and trite script(think: original Star Wars hokey/trite), because of the paradigm-shifting visuals. (I had Avatar dreams for two nights following!)

momo said...

I completely agree--I almost didn't go see it because I've managed to survive without seeing Titanic, but leaving aside all of those things you mentioned, I swooned at the color palette, the images of flight, the flora and fauna, the tiny buds of unrealized thinking beyond the cliches of the's a struggle to resist cynicism, but it was worth it.