Amazon unveils AutoRip feature for CD purchases; CDs are all, “Yo, bro, thanks for the shout-out.”

Amazon unveils AutoRip feature for CD purchases; CDs are all, "Yo, bro, thanks for the shout-out."

As I touched upon recently, CDs are going out of style quicker than… [insert humorous analogy here]. The point is, despite the fact that CDs still comprise the majority of overall music sales, their novelty has quickly worn off, and that’s almost entirely due to the ever-burgeoning popularity of digital sources.

It need not be emphasized that the undisputed king of those digital music sources is Apple’s iTunes Store, which last year claimed roughly 64% of the digital music market and close to 30% of all music sold, regardless of the format. Prior to the launching of the store in 2003 (as well as the more general popularization of digital music throughout the decade), Amazon was quickly becoming the go-to source for physical music, as it siphoned away customers from traditional retail stores like Best Buy and Tower Records. Now that digital sources are slowly diluting the relevance of CDs, what’s Amazon to do if they want to realize their ultimate goal of world dom… I mean, retail monopolization? After all, Amazon MP3 isn’t close to achieving the success that the iTunes Store has.

Enter AutoRip — an appeal to those reluctant to relinquish their plastic discs, but technophilic enough to take advantage of the cloud. Launched officially on January 10, AutoRip does exactly that: when you purchase a designated AutoRip CD on Amazon, you’ll have the option to have it automatically ripped (der) to your Amazon Cloud Player for free, as 256 kbps MP3 files. In other words, it saves you the hassle of having to rip and upload the CD yourself.

Additionally, if you purchased CDs from Amazon since 1998, “AutoRip eligible songs” will be added to your Cloud Player library as well, supposedly, like… right now.

All of this sounds very interesting, but of course there are a few lingering questions. First, will the selection of CDs qualifying for AutoRip improve in the future? Reportedly, the current catalog consists of over 50,000 albums, but a search of some relatively popular artists (Animal Collective, Kanye West, Four Tet, etc.) suggests that it’s not yet comprehensive. Second, in the future, will we have any control over the resulting file type ripped to the cloud? True, most people probably don’t care, but a sub-feature like that might be a draw for some people (including myself).

• Amazon:

Talib Kweli has a new LP due out in April; also, don’t expect the second Black Star album this year

In the time honored hip-hop tradition of vaporware albums, Talib Kweli has confirmed in Rolling Stone that the follow up to Black Star’s landmark 1998 album Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star won’t be out this year.

The long-teased-about, oft-delayed album isn’t on the back burner due to animosity between Kweli and Yasiin Bey (the dude who used to go by Mos Def) but commitments to other projects, with Kweli adding “I would love to get back into it whenever he’s ready.”

The duo is still considering making the (hopefully) forthcoming record themed around Aretha Franklin, inspired by a late-night listening session in 2011, the same late-night collaboration that led to “Fix Up.”

With that unsurprising news out of the way, Talib Kweli has a new solo album coming up. Prisoner of Conscious, available April 23, has been in the works for quite a while, apparently since before Kweli even began production on 2011’s Gutter Rainbows (TMT Review). Kweli is putting the album out on his own Blacksmith/Javotti Media label. Look for guest spots from Kendrick Lamar, Busta Rhymes, Nelly, and probably some others.


01.19.13 - Washington, DC - Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar (DJ set)
01.20.13 - New York, NY - S.O.B.S.
01.31.13 - New York, NY - IFC Center (movie screening and discussion)
02.09.13 - Detroit, MI - The Fillmore (Dilla Day)
02.22.13 - Lawrence, KS - The Granada
02.26.13 - Cambridge, MA - The Middle East
02.27.13 - Providence, RI - Fete

• Talib Kweli:

Dust off your fedora, Leonard Cohen is hitting the road again!

Leonard Cohen gets around pretty well for a dude pushing 80.

Last year he put out his first album in seven years, Old Ideas (TMT Review), and embarked on a nearly five-month worldwide tour. The 78-year-old singer-songwriter and ordained Buddhist Monk (Seriously. Check out all this shit he’s done if you don’t believe me.) is set to have a busy 2013 with another worldwide tour in the works, including trips across the US and Canada, plus some stops in Europe. So if you missed him last time around, here’s your chance to make up for it.


03.02.13 - Oakland, CA - Paramount Theatre
03.06.13 - Victoria, BC - Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre
03.09.13 - Regina, SK- Brandt Centre
03.11.13 - Winnipeg, MB - MTS Centre
03.13.13 - Chicago, IL - Chicago Theatre
03.15.13 - Milwaukee, WI - Milwaukee Theatre
03.18.13 - Tampa, FL - David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts: Carol Morsani Hall
03.20.13 - Miami, FL - James L. Knight Center
03.22.13 - Atlanta, GA - Fox Theatre
03.24.13 - Memphis, TN - Orpheum Theatre
03.28.13 - New Orleans, LA - Mahalia Jackson Theater
03.30.13 - Louisville, KY - Palace Theatre
04.02.13 - Wallingford, CT - Toyota Oakdale Theatre
04.06.13 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall
04.09.13 - Hamilton, ON - Copps Coliseum
04.13.13 - Halifax, NS - Halifax Metro Centre
04.15.13 - Saint John, NB - Harbour Station
04.17.13 - Moncton, NB - Moncton Coliseum
04.20.13 - St. John’s, NL - Mile One Centre
06.18.13 - Paris, France - Palais Omnisports de Bercy
06.21.13 - London, UK - The O2 Arena
06.25.13 - Oberhausen, Germany - Konig Pilsener Arena
07.09.13 - Lucca, Italy - Lucca Summer Festival
07.12.13 - Mannheim, Germany - SAP Arena
07.14.13 - Hamburg, Germany - O2 World
07.17.13 - Berlin, Germany - O2 World
08.17.13 - Odense, Denmark - King’s Garden

• Leonard Cohen:
• Sony:

Diplo goes on helicopter tour, takes Major Lazer on boat tour, because what else is new?


Diplo is going on a one-day, four-city tour on January 20. He is calling this tour the Trap Hawk Down tour, because he will be traveling between the four shows via helicopter. His run of shows will begin in Baltimore at the Ottobar at 6 PM. After that, he will continue on to Philadelphia, where he will play the Sound Garden Hall at 9:30 PM. He will then depart to play at Atlantic City’s Mixx at Borgata Resort at 12:30 AM. Finally, Diplo’s single-day, helicopter-fueled jaunt will end with a show at New York’s The Westway beginning at 3:30 AM.


Immediately upon concluding the Trap Hawk Down tour, Diplo will meet with his compatriots in Major Lazer for the Mutiny Aboard the Molly Roger tour. As the title suggests, this is a tour of the Caribbean that shall be traversed by sailboat. However, this tour will last five days, presumably because sailboats are not as fast as helicopters. The dates for that tour can be viewed below.


Major Lazer’s Mutiny Aboard the Molly Roger dates:

01.21.13 - Kingston, Jamaica - Students Union UWI
01.22.13 - Norman Island, British Virgin Islands - Willy T’s
01.23.13 - St. Marteen, The Caribbean - Soggy Dollar Bar
01.24.13 - St. Croix, US Virgin Islands - Christian Brew Pub
01.25.13 - Old San Juan, Puerto Rico - Levels

• Diplo:
• Major Lazer:

The Men announce new album, call it New Moon, offer new track, unveil new tourdates, generate new press coverage

The Legend of The Men

Back in the dark ages of 2012, things were looking dire for Brooklyn rock dudes The Men. Mighty once, they had lost their way and fallen on hard times. They put out their third album last year, no one really wrote about it, and they probably played a few shows here and there at a handful of university student union halls. A few stalwart fans probably came out, but generally, I don’t think anyone would have been surprised if the band sullenly slinked away into annoying solo-project land in 2013. From this reporter’s iron-clad point of view, it was looking very bleak indeed.

BUT LO! Just when things looked their bleakest, A HUGE, multi-bazillion-dollar magazine called Tiny Mix Tapes zoomed in from on high and saw fit to bestow that 2012 album the tremendous accolade of being its 36th favorite album of the year! Literally overnight, everything changed for The Men, and they found themselves suddenly equipped with the opportunity to make a fourth album for the Sacred Bones label in 2013. Thus it has come to pass that The Men proudly present New Moon, an intensely personal and wholly immersive triumph of underdog grit and TMT facilitation. According to the press release, it was recorded in a converted “studio home” that the band constructed in the upstate New York village of Big Indian and once again features guitarists Nick Chiericozzi and Mark Perro and drummer Rich Samis (all fresh from the last record), as well as friend and producer Ben Greenberg on full-time bass duties and Kevin Faulkner “dreaming aloud on lap steel” (and let me hereby be the first to pretend that dreaming aloud on a lap steel doesn’t sound terrible).

Speaking of off-beat, “keepin’ it fresh for album #4” instrumentation choices, it seems like we can expect such affectations as “piano, mandolin, harmonica, four-part vocal harmonies and even no-input harsh noise.” And yes, in case you were wondering, “New Moon is simultaneously an expansion of palette and a contraction of focus. It is a love letter devoted in bowed humility to the grand continuum, exposing the hoax of the great divide.” Hmm. I’m starting to regret giving TMT full credit for this album’s existence all of a sudden… oh well. Either way, the first single, “Electric,” will be out on 7-inch vinyl on January 22. Check it out below (as well as a bunch of 2013 tourdates), and do not, I repeat, DO NOT, write us any hate mail if you don’t like it. Love mail if you DO like it is fine.

New Moon tracklisting:

01. Open the Door
02. Half Angel Half Light
03. Without a Face
04. The Seeds
05. I Saw Her Face
06. High and Lonesome
07. The Brass
08. Electric
09. I See No One
10. Birdsong
11. Freaky
12. Supermoon


01.28.13 - Auckland, New Zealand - Silo Park
01.30.13 - Sydney, Australia - Goodgod Small Club *
01-31.13 - Wollongong, Australia - Beaches Thirroul *
02.01.13 - Brisbane, Australia - Laneway Festival
02.02.13 - Sydney, Australia - Laneway Festival
02.03.13 - Melbourne, Australia - Laneway Festival
02.06.13 - Melbourne, Australia - Northcote Social Club
02.08.13 - Adelaide, Australia - Laneway Festival
02.09.13 - Perth, Australia - Laneway Festival
03.07.13 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
03.09.13 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour
03.14.13 - Paris, France - Point FMR
03.15.13 - Kortrijk, Belgium - De Kreun
03.16.13 - Bruxelles, Belgium - Magasin 4
03.17.13 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Paradiso
03.18.13 - London, UK - Rough Trade
03.19.13 - London, UK - Garage
03.20.13 - Nijmigen, Netherlands - Merlyn
03.21.13 - Copenhagen, Denmark - Stengade
03.22.13 - Berlin, Germany - Festaal
03.23.13 - Prague, Czech Republic - 007 Club
03.24.13 - Vienna, Austria - Arena
03.25.13 - Budapest, Hungary - Gozsdu Mano Klub
03.26.13 - Ljubljana, Slovenia - Menza
03.27.13 - Zagreb, Croatia - Club Mocvara
03.28.13 - Belgrade, Serbia - Grad Beograd
03.29.13 - Skopje, Macedonia - Menza Pro Koritu
03.30.13 - Tessaloniki, Greece - 8 Ball Club
03.31.13 - Athens, Greece - AN Club
05.31.13 - Austin, TX - Chaos in Tejas
06.01.13 - Austin, TX - Chaos in Tejas

* Royal Headache

• The Men:
• Sacred Bones:

Album sales for 2012 show a moderate decline; industry execs petition to change the word “moderate” to mean “apocalyptically severe”

In contrast with 2011, when overall album sales in the US miraculously increased by 1.4% over the previous year (in part, courtesy of a green-eyed British idol), Nielsen SoundScan reports that albums sales for 2012 fell by 4.4%, from 331 million to 316 million units. Time to pack it in. We’re back to the downward trend that began in 2004, and major record labels can continue cynically (and now, justifiably) prophesying the death of the music industry, right?

Well, not so fast. There are a couple of statistics that suggest more of a settling around a new normal than a resumption of industry hemorrhaging. First: the 4.4% decrease in 2012 is mild, relative to the near double-digit losses that were experienced between 2006 and 2010. Album sales in 2007 fell by 9.5%, for instance. Second: digital sales of individual songs grew by 5.1% last year, which is slower than in previous years, but again, that points to a new normal. Digital sales of individual tracks were growing by around 30-40% at the same time that physical album sales were decreasing markedly, so what does it say if both aren’t moving much in either direction? Someone let me know if I’m missing a variable here. The music industry lives on, it appears…

Within the realm of overall album sales, CDs continued their reign as the increasingly uncool music medium — according to Billboard, sales decreased by 13.5% to 193.4 million units. Meanwhile, sales of vinyl records increased by 17.7% to 4.55 million units, and the numbers for digital albums grew as well, by 14.1%, improving its share of overall album sales to 37%.

To another year of fiscally inadvisable music purchases!

• Nielsen SoundScan: