Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Bright Side of the Moon

News stories abound about the changing music-commerce landscape. A couple of recent ones caught my eye, not least for offering a delicious rice-and-beans complementarity given that they centered on two EMI acts, one from the old world and one from the new:

Pink Floyd successfully sued EMI over the label's attempts to sell their songs a la carte. Here is an editorial from my local paper about this issue. I enjoyed the author's purism.

This is a fun subject to tussle over. Personally, I tend to side with the artist in just about any ol' dispute over content control and royalties. On the other hand, Pink Floyd suing to preserve the integrity of their albums inspires about as much empathy as The Eagles cutting exclusive distribution agreements with Wal-Mart.
Really? I gotta buy all of 'Ummagumma' just to have the live 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun?' Guys, have you actually listened to 'Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave' recently?

And another thing. Most MP3s (or AACs) are sold with a sample rate of 192 or 256 kbps. That is a drastic compression from the original CD, itself a compressed file. The point is, we're being sold museum gift shop postcard reproductions. Artistic integrity has already been compromised in the name of commerce.

I don't know which one of you gents is Pink, so I'll offer this to you en masse: you just blew a lot of money on legal fees preserving a principle that might not be worth the blacklight poster it's printed on.

(Boy, I'll bet they and their lawyers found that argument compelling.)

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On the sunny of the moon, perhaps you have read or heard about the contretemps between EMI and their band OK Go. In short:

If you have ever blogged about music or read about the subject on this and other blogs, you know the coin of the realm is embedded content ('embedding' means content is available for the reader to watch or listen to on a blog site itself rather than as merely a link to, say, YouTube). This is the medium by which a catchy tune can go viral if the planets align. Sometimes, though, the blogger is confronted with the dreaded words, 'Embedding disabled by request.'

OK Go's Treadmill Video is an example of a band breaking big because their imaginative video spread like the proverbial wildfire. Much of this was due to embedding. However, as that success resulted in OK Go having more fans and name recognition, EMI put the kibosh to embedding of their more recent 'This Too Shall Pass' video.

I mention this not because I have much of an opinion one way or the other (artists' track records (or lack thereof) are big factors when choosing promotion tactics), but because of OK Go member Damian Kulash's January open letter to the world about the issue. If you have any interest in the challenges artists and labels face navigating today's shark-filled waters, it's worth a read.

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Our crawl has brought us to the Three-Dot Lounge, where everything is A1 on the jukebox and nowhere on the charts:

Update on my Borders search for the Tammy Wynette biography, 'Tragic Country Queen.' A subsequent visit found the book neatly shelved...in Literature/Fiction. While this might be one more teeny-tiny example of the fraying in the once-great book retailer's fabric, one must consider that this placement might be a statement. Tammy Wynette's is no more a true-life story than Dolly Parton's ... Speaking of mass-market retailers and the surprises they can hold: I was in Safeway the other day loading up on buck-a-bag spinach, when I suddenly screeched my cart to a halt. For on the PA, the 'muzak' was 'Sometime After Midnight' by The Airborne Toxic Event. In Safeway. Talk about yer clash o'cultures. Next thing you know, the Cedar will be promoting in-performance contests for most imaginative audience ringtones ... Personal to Mama E Dub: my music library includes about 10% compilations and 10% individual tracks. My clear preference is for full albums I can then shuffle into the deck. I've decided that the music I want played at my funeral is whatever's next on 'random play' ... This blog has seen a bit of commentary about Massive Attack's latest. I must agree: it has something of a paint-by-numbers feel. This is best exemplified by Martina Topley-Bird's guest vocals. Back in the day, she sounded like she was sequestered in Tricky's chamber of horrors while suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Here she sounds, um, nice ... While polishing this floater I've been listening to Longital. What fun! ... Considered going to the Dead Meadow show the other night, but stayed in and watched 'The Hurt Locker.' Guess it was gonna be a heavy psych night no matter what. Great movie, but I required back-to-back sitcom episodes as a digestive before bed.

Here is a bit of what I would have heard had I decided to stay up late on what is ordinarily Ovaltine night at Chez Fever:

4 comments:

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