Austin, Live Music Capital Of The World And Loving Every SXSW Penny Of It

- Roundtrip plane ticket to Austin, TX: $350
- Entry to several dozen venues to see more live music than your brain can feasibly enjoy in the span of 120 hours: $$
- Sleeping eight to a room and balling your joyful eyes out because you've just been picked up by a major label: Priceless

Now, multiply that by the approximately 125,000 people who attend SXSW every year, and you create a market that does have a price -- nearly $95 million, an amount that the local Austin economy has come to depend on as an enormously lucrative annual event unparalleled by any other American music festival.

Hailed as an indispensable event to the music, film, and technology industries, SXSW attracts tens of thousands of rockers and industry movers ‘n’ shakers to the city every year, and while more than 1,700 bands are expected to perform (and spend) at this year's festival, the real money is being laid down by the talent snipers and working professionals there to snatch ‘em up.

Attempting to track the economic behavior among the wide range of festival attendees, economist John Rees says "SXSW is targeting both an affluent demographic and people with expense accounts. You may have a band sleeping eight to a room, but you may have an executive spending 20 times the amount over the course of the festival that that band is spending."

According to the Austin Business Journal, roughly $18 million is contributed to the permanent staff and operational expenses of SXSW, $77 million in various spending to the local economy by attendees during their brief stay, $18 million to food and drink establishments, $13 million in media coverage, $12 million in hotel expenditures, and $7 million in the transportation sector, amounting to approximately $95 million, both directly and indirectly filtered into the local Austin economy by SXSW attendees annually. Last year, that figure was conservatively estimated at $110 million.

Well, hot damn. If money makes the world go round, Austin is the axis.

Hardly Art Signs The Pica Beats, Seeing ‘Pica’ In Their Name Reminds Me of Something…

Of course, some of you nasties out there may think that pica reminds me of the eating disorder by the same name, where people dig eating things like shit and chalk, but you're oh so wrong. No, ‘Pica’ totally reminds me of the following piece of art that I just created:

Yep! I know for a fact that The Pica Beats would've been much better off naming their group The Pichu Beats, but hey, whatever -- the music matters more than the band name right? Wrong! The name is everything. Seriously, the Pica Beats is nothing compared to The Pichu Beats -- what were they thinking? I bet they'll toss and turn in their beds at night, wishing they had replaced that vowel with a dope-ass consonant and an even BETTER vowel (work with me here).

So, yeah, I'm still pissed off, but if you haven't heard any of the awesome pop music these folks are churning out, then you should visit their MySpace. Don't own a computer? Can't read this current news story? Don't fret: the five-piece group will release Beating Back the Claws of the Cold on Hardly Art later this year.

I recommend protesting their name at these lonely Seattle shows:
03.22.08 - Seattle, WA - Triple Door *
03.29.08 - Seattle, WA - TBA #
04.01.08 - Seattle, WA - Chop Suey ^

* The Blow

# Hollow Earth Radio's Magma Festival

^ Le Loup, The Ruby Suns

Hair Police Cancel Tour Due to Car Accident

After we excitedly (and weirdly) reported on Hair Police's first stateside tour in almost two years, the band has unfortunately announced its cancellation. Aside from the Ann Arbor show this Saturday (March 15), the remaining tourdates have been quashed after the band "ran into some insane blizzard conditions south of Columbus, Ohio on I-71 and totaled [their rental] car after a run in with a tractor trailer," according to band member Robert Beatty.

Luckily, Hair Police left the scene unharmed, with only minor damage to music equipment. And since they had time to kill when stranded in a Ohio hotel, they even recorded "a completely desperate, warped, and sparse session," which will eventually be released under the entirely appropriate title, Totaled and Stranded. Meanwhile, their tour-only merchandise will now be made available at Troubleman Unlimited's store in the coming weeks.

And just so you're updated with all things related to Hair Police: Troubleman Unlimited will release their newish album, The Empty Quarter, on vinyl soon; a newer, as-yet untitled album will be released on No Fun Productions later this year; and Tone Filth will be releasing Robert Beatty's Living Order/Mourning Order (under the name Three Legged Race) sometime this spring. You should buy ‘em all.

Canceled dates + remaining show:

Wal-Mart to Save the CD Format With Lower Prices and Tiered Pricing Plan… Right, Everyone?!?

Well, I'll be a son of a bitch! Wal-Mart is at it again! Rattling the cages like Batman!!! And ladies and gentlemen, they're out to single-handedly save the doomed CD!

Billboard recently published a report about Wal-Mart's push for lower CD prices in all of their stores, as well as a new, tiered pricing plan that would price "hits" (like Travis Trit Records or something) $12 and different levels of an artist's catalog at $9 (like Take of Your Pants and Jacket), $7 (like Enema of the State), and $5 (like Dude Ranch).

A proposed promotional program would put the top 10 or 15 titles (like The Jonas Brothers) at $10... a.k.a. one cent higher than the typical download price, you know, minus the extra several dollars in taxes. Hmmm...

But despite the obvious (right??) fact that these CDs would still be more expensive and less convenient than digital downloads, Wal-Mart, again, just like Batman, just won't give up the good fight! In fact, they've been harping on this lower-priced CDs thing for quite some time now. If we all recall, Rolling Stone had an article about Wal-Mart's push for $10 CDs way back in 2004. The situation was described as tense... and this was three-and-a-half years ago.

But what good will the decision to finally lower CD prices do now? Well, maybe this convoluted series of buzz-words will explain things for us:

"When you look at sales declines with physical product," a Wal-Mart sales manager says, "and you have a category declining like it is, you have to make decisions about what the future looks like. If you have a business that is declining and you want to turn it around, it really takes looking at it from all angles." See??? ALL ANGLES, people! Think outside the box for once! Fling wide the doors of perception and lose the watch! Wal-Mart has, and they ain't never seen the sky so clear!

...ah, good stuff, good stuff. This story's going straight to the top of the queue, I can feel it. I deserve a beer... Oh, yeah, but like I was saying, CDs are fucked.

Xiu Xiu Announce Even More Tourdates, An Excerpt From A Xiu Xiu Fan’s Notes

Things To Pack For Xiu Xiu's Tour:

- Toothbrush
- Depressing documentaries from Netflix queue
- Copy of The Virgin Suicides novel
- iPod
- Noose

Things To Do Before Xiu Xiu Tour:

- Refill prozac prescription
- Put psychiatrist on speed dial

Xiu Xiu's Upcoming Itinerary:

# Thao and the Get Down Stay Down

Breaking News! Mia Doi Todd Tour Already Underway! New Album Already Released!

Do you like fairy tales? Have you heard the one in which a Tiny Mix peasant sits on a news story until the subject's album and tour is already released and started respectively? Nah, that one is boring. Let's stick not to peasant tales but pleasant tales. Have you heard of the one in which the heroine -- a princess/angel/goddess of music magic, possessed with a voice that is like tuberose to the nose and that could delight the gnarliest ogre's heart upon note one -- releases her seventh musical druid egg to a hail of public adoration and ceremony? Not familiar with that one? Well, did you hear that Mia Doi Todd released her seventh album, GEA this week in North America through City Zen Records (March 14 overseas on Kindred Spirits) to a hail of public adoration and ceremony? Both stories are the same, but I added some respectful flowery legend dust to the first one. Luckily, Todd's delightful angel visits are more frequent than those flittery femmes from fable. Whether popping up as guest to save lesser albums by mere mortals or gracing us with a full-length of her own every year or two, she is beloved by humans and hill people alike. Here be GEA's tracks:

1. River of Life/The Yes Song
2. Night of a Thousand Kisses
3. Big Bad Wolf & Black Widow Spider
4. Sleepless Nights
5. Esperar Es Caro
6. Kokoro
7. Can I Borrow You?
8. Wolf Reprise
9. In the End
10. Old World New World

Keen TMT eyeballers will remember that we ran a groundbreaking, pioneering news story about José "Goin' Green!" Gonzalez' latest tour earlier in February. This one. Read it. It’s funny. It has this whole thing going on where The Friz and a couple of TMT dolts do something. And talk and stuff. The three hold a pointy paper pizza party or something like that. Um, alright I only skimmed it quickly while searching for the words "frolicking Golden Girls" (I didn’t ask you to explain your eccentricities, so don’t ask me!). I do know that the story footnoted the fact that M.D.T. (as she is known to no one) will be opening many of those Gonzalez dates. These remaining ones, actually:

02.29.08 - Miami, FL - Airtime Theater
03.01.08 - Orlando, FL - The Social
03.02.08 - Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
03.03.08 - Chapel Hill, NC - Great Hall, UNC
03.04.08 - Asheville, NC - Orange Peel
03.05.08 - Washington, DC - Sixth & I Historic Synagogue

03.07.08 - Tarrytown, NY - The Tarrytown Music Hall
03.08.08 - Philadelphia, PA - World Café
03.09.08 - Morgantown, WV - WVU Creative Arts Center
03.11.08 - New York, NY - Highline Ballroom
03.12.08 - Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Masonic Temple
03.13.08 - Boston, MA - Paradise
03.14.08 - Montréal, Quebec - Musée Juste Pour Rire
03.15.08 - Toronto, Ontario - Phoenix
03.17.08 - Chicago, IL - Lakeshore Theater
03.18.08 - Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theatre
03.19.08 - St. Louis, MO - Graham Chapel, Washington University
03.20.08 - Omaha, ME - Sokol Underground
03.21.08 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theatre
03.22.08 - Salt Lake City, UT - Union Ballroom, University of Utah
03.24.08 - San Diego, CA - San Diego Women’s Club
03.25.08 - Los Angleles, CA - Wiltern
03.27.08 - San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore Auditorium
03.28.08 - Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater
03.29.08 - Seattle, WA - The Triple Door
03.30.08 - Seattle, WA - The Triple Door
03.31.08 - Vancouver, British Columbia - St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church