EMI’s Capitol Music Group Continues Restructuring/Layoffs

Oh Hypocrisy, You Foul Demon You; A Very Special DRM Update

Since the dawn of the new millennium, the people on this planet fortunate enough to own and operate their own personal, internet-enabled computers have been forcibly changing the delivery of digital media. Napster, Gnutella, Kazaa, and Bittorent featured new and innovative technologies that delivered content, but were also rejected by companies, corporations, and associations that made it clear business would not support them. Apple Inc. was and is one of those companies.

Recently, Apple head honcho Steve Jobs surprised everyone when he stated "If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store." Jobs' offer to rid iTunes of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology is great news for the consumers of digital content, as it would free us to trade songs with friends and make as many backup copies of our legally purchased music as we wanted. It is, however, terrible news for the association currently providing Mr. Jobs with his beloved content. This association is regularly mocked on Tiny Mix Tapes and the Internet Tubes in general, and they responded to Steve's DRM comments with, "Apple [should] license its DRM to other technology companies. We think that's a great solution." The Recording Industry Association of America has made foolish comments in the past, but this one takes the ultra-ignorant award of stupidity for failing to note this method would be impossible to implement with the current restrictions placed on Apple by the recording companies.

According to Jobs in his letter, if the iTunes software is cracked, Apple has a limited amount of time to fix the issue before each recording company can remove its catalog from iTunes with absolutely no legal repercussions. So, licensing Fairplay, the DRM that Apple uses, would likely be even more cumbersome than using the software itself. It would be in Apple's interest to at least attempt it, as it would be able to charge whatever it wanted for Fairplay, because the iPod has a hidden feature: it's able to print money in any currency. Including Monopoly money.

Jobs made his statements early last week, and we've been patiently waiting for the recording companies to come forward with statements. Edgar Bronfman, the chief executive of Warner Music, stated Jobs' ideas were "completely without logic or merit," and he desperately wishes that was true. Sony, the heartless, cum-stained bastard it is, has declined to make a comment, most likely in fear of embarrassing itself any further. How are those PS3 sales coming? Universal, in its tireless efforts to never comment on anything, has not commented on anything. EMI is playing a different hand, and it's one that supports the utopia Mr. Jobs dreamed of in his manifesto1. The courageous label has decided to try selling more of its music without the DRM restrictions, after it ran a successful pilot program last December. EMI's announcement may be purely coincidental, but I'd like to think they're related.

While a world without DRM would be great, that reality is not yet upon us. And until Apple removes DRM from their iTunes store, Steve Jobs will be a hypocritical prick that is using the music industry as a scapegoat for his growing business concerns in Europe (iTunes recently became illegal in Norway). And if he shoots his wad too early and drops DRM before the association wants to, he risks them packing it in and supporting the Zune or whatever shitty service Sony is currently hawking instead. The industry still has the power to treat iTunes just like Napster or Kazaa, so it took balls to do what Jobs did. And for that, this hardened open-source advocate will give him a shred of respect. He'd better not screw up.

1 Manifesto was used by Edgar "Sand In My Vagina" Bronfman.

South By Southwest is Fast, Easy, and most of all, fun; If WE Can Do It, YOU Can Do It…

South By Southwest is far, far more than just another music festival. It is its own self-contained planet, a virtual warzone of cred-wanting music journalists, cred-wanting publicists, cred-wanting industry knobs, cred-wanting band managers, and cred-wanting doormen who won't even fart in your general direction unless you have a fabled badge. Oh, and there are bands, too. Quite a few, in fact, if you can manage to get to every venue five hours early, lest you get shut out of the Ratatat/M.I.A. show like I did a few years back. But seeing as SXSW changed my life, I owe it an infomercial-style endorsement:

My South By Southwest Testimonial: I was a neurotic, insecure twenty-something. I was 112 pounds overweight, obsessed with Get Smart, and I washed my dishes in the bathtub. Then I went to SXSW and everything changed for me. I lost weight, re-connected with God, and became the svelt, well-to-do bloke you see here today. Now I run a highly successful internet business, own my own boat (wanna see it?), and hob-knob with only the biggest celebrities (as opposed to Tucker Max). I managed to make these changes in my life thanks to South By Southwest's five-day music program.

And it's so simple! A light band for breakfast, two bands for lunch, then for dinner I watch as many bands as I want! I was shocked by how fast the weight melted off my naturally slight frame. I was, in fact, so excited I didn't have time to take in all the sights and sounds. For example, I left a Wrens show to catch Hella down the street. I ran-ran-ran as fast as I could and before I knew what was happening I passed David Fricke -- no shit! But I was so intent on seeing Hella I just yelled "David Fricke!" and kept running! He turned around and smiled and went on his way, but I'm pretty sure he could feel the force flowing through me. Deep-down he knew that once I'd built up my strength for another decade or so we'd meet again, matching pens for a Reviewer's Battle to the Death, the winner taking the spoils: A promo copy of Neil Young's Are You Passionate? and ownership of Under Byen's soul.

But that's another story/novel/five-part TV miniseries. We're talking South By Southwest! Now that I've imparted what the festival means to me I'll get into the details. For one, the music portion of the fest takes place from March 14-18 in downtown Austin, Texas. The band list? Not yet. Don't forget that there's a huge Film portion of the event as well. (band list?) NO! And there's also the Trade Show Exhibition and an endless string of panel discussions, mentor sessions, interviews, band lists and... erp, damn. Ahh fuck it, time for the band list! As usual, it's a nickel-plated doozy, oozing with name-drop goodness you couldn't find if you poked a pudgy blogger's bum with a p4k. Below is a short-list of bands slated to perform (including world-renouned superstar Kenna). And by ‘short list' I mean the Longest List Known to Man, Ever:

Aesop Rock, Against Me!, Akimbo, Allison, An Albatross, The Apples in Stereo, Aqualung, Architecture in Helsinki, Austin TV, The Automatic, Kevin Ayers, Badly Drawn Boy, Balkan Beat Box, Bayside, Beach House, Beirut, The Besnard Lakes, Andrew Bird, The Bird and the Bee, Martina Topley, Birdmonster, Black Lips, Bloc Party, Blonde Redhead, The Blood Arm, Bonde do, The Bravery, Vashti Bunyan, Tracy Byrd, Charalambides, Child Abuse, Chingo Bling, Chingon, The Cinematics, Citay, Jill Cunniff, DATAROCK, Deerhunter, Delorentos, Dengue Fever, Errors, The Faint, Ferraby Lionheart, Field Music, The Fratellis, Fujiya & Miyagi, Galactic, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Ghostland Observatory (Austin TX), Girl Talk, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, Albert Hammond, Jr, Kate Havnevik, The High Dials, The Holloways, Hoodoo Gurus, The Horrors, Hot Club De Paris, Benji Hughes, iLiKETRAiNS, IV Thieves, Jack O and The Tearjerkers, Jack's, Georgie James, Jamie T, Jandek, Joan as Police Woman, Daniel Johnston and the Nightmares, Junior Senior, KENNA, Keith Killgo Jazz, Kings of Leon, Kinski, K'NAAN, Tracy Lawrence, Les Claypool/Electric Apricot, Les Savy Fav, Lethal Bizzle, Lily Allen, Little Barrie, Little Man Tate, The Little Ones, LoneLady, Lonely China Day, The Long Winters, Charlie Louvin, Barbara Lynn, Magik Markers, Malajube, Mando Diao, Maneja Beto, Jo Mango, Maps & Atlases, Willy Mason, Mastodon, Matt & Kim, Nellie McKay, Meat Puppets, Metro Riots, Mexican Institute of Sound, Mika, Mogwai, Money Mark, Money Waters, Thurston Moore, James Morrison, The Mountain Goats, Muck and the Mires, Alexi Murdoch, MuteMath, MV/EE and The Bummer Road, Johnette Napolitano, The 1900s, Paolo Nutini, The Octopus Project, Okkervil River, 120 Days, Oppenheimer, Ozomatli, The Panda Band, Graham Parker, Peaches, Pelican, Elvis Perkins, Peter and the Wolf, The Pipettes, The Polyphonic Spree, The Ponys, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Priestess, Prisonshake, Psychedelic Horseshit, Quetzal, Qui w/ David Yow, Ra Ra Riot, Razorlight, Jay Reatard, Reigning Sound, Gruff Rhys, Rickie Lee Jones, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Sam the Sham, Satellite Party, Secondhand Serenade, Ron Sexsmith, Shout Out Out Out Out, The Shys, Sloan, Alice Smith, Soweto, SSM, The Stooges, The Sunshine Underground, Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hearafter, Tally Hall, This Moment In Black History, Pam Tillis, Times New Viking, Tiny Masters of Today, Tokyo Police Club, The Tragically Hip, Turbonegro, TURZI, Under, Valient Thorr, Chad VanGaalen, The View, Viva Voce, The Walkmen, The Watson, Mary Weiss, Willowz, Amy Winehouse, WinterKids, The WOMBATS, Wooden Shjips, The Young Knives, Young Love, and Youth Group. This list is subject to change.

For a more complete list of life-changing (and waist-cinching!) acts, check out SXSW's official website.

Broken Social Scene Smashingly Score {The Tracey Fragments}

I still can't give you a definitive head count of Broken Social Scene's members, 'cause sometimes Leslie Feist makes me all dizzy by being so dang hot. Or Emily Haines. Whatever. Broken Social Scene simply reduce me to a puddle of admiration (it's kind of gross, actually). My love only grew when I learned that this exceptionally good-looking collective will be scoring a new indie film from director Bruce McDonald, entitled The Tracey Fragments. McD has pegged the flick as "Degrassi meets Hendrix." Ooh. Degrassi. Craig. Yum. Moving on...

Take this project as a cue for BSS' future, 'cause according to singer Kevin Drew (who has quite a nice beard, FYI), family life doesn't exactly lend itself to touring, and these dudes wanna stay home and play with the kids for now. Which is fine. I'll just have to make a diorama or something and pretend they're playing live in my living room. It'll be almost like the real thing, I swear.

Sigh.

“The Stooges Tour!” Press Release Because TMT Needs to Make Sure We’re Part of This Historical Event

Hey,

Tour dates just announced for the Stooges! This is going to be historical – make sure you’re part of it!

Don’t forget to check out the first single off “The Weirdness” out March 6th!

The Stooges – My Idea of Fun

You can get more pics here

I should be [CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED.]

http://myspace.com/iggyandthestooges

RIAA Faces Major Setbacks Because It Is Ridiculous

Last week, a wittle wittle baby, accused of copyright infringement, filed a claim accusing the RIAA of "violating antitrust laws, conspiring to defraud the courts, and making extortionate threats," according to the AP (and Michael Ocean!). Robert Santangelo, now 16, was originally 11 when the "piracy" supposedly happened, but he denies ever having shared the files (shit, at 11, the boy couldn't even spell "piracy," let alone hate Eric Clapton as much as I do). Santangelo sound familiar? If you hop in the DeLorean with me, you might recall the PR disaster that was the RIAA vs. Patti Santangelo, the 42-year-old mom who famously refused to settle with the RIAA. (Yes, Robert's her son -- good work detective!)

As if that lawsuit wasn't enough, the RIAA faced another major setback this week. Another mom, Deborah Foster, recently won a case against the RIAA, in which the trade group has been ordered to pay the case's legal fees. Deborah was originally the target of litigation until the case was dropped, because it was her daughter who committed the actual infringing. Like the Santangelo case, the RIAA proceeded to sue Foster's daughter, which is significant because it clearly discerns who specifically is in trouble if there's file-sharing in a household (the person who downloaded the tracks, not the person who pays the bills). Furthermore, previous cases concerning legal fees were decided in the RIAA's favor, so this victory can be seen as a warning to the RIAA and its bullying tactics.

Or not. The RIAA recently filed a fresh copyright infringement lawsuit against some 23-year-old dude from Maine for sharing FIVE songs. Each song priced at $750. Again, he shared FIVE songs. With all this talk about everything as culturally relative and how there are no universal truths, I guess it's oddly comforting to know that the RIAA's shittiness is a constant.

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