RIAA Victim’s $1.92 Million Fine Reduced to $54,000

The weirdness continues as Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s music copyright infringement fines are lowered by Judge Michael Davis. Thomas was the first individual to be tried (Capitol v. Thomas) before a jury in a file-sharing copyright lawsuit by major record labels, with the original case taking place in 2007 for illegally downloading 24 songs.

The damages of that original case came to $222,000 but Thomas was retried in 2009 due to an error in jury instructions. The second trial brought the damages up to a bloated $1,920,000—obviously the RIAA was giving the jury instructions this time around.

Ms. Thomas appealed against the $2 million damages claim, resulting in Judge Davis’s reassessment saying, “It was the jury’s province to determine the award… and this Court has merely reduced that award to the maximum amount that is no longer monstrous and shocking.” That new award was set at a still-shocking $54,000, and the RIAA was given a week by the court to challenge that reduced verdict.

The ultimate artifice in all of this comes from the announcement that any damages awarded to the RIAA will not go to the artists whose music was downloaded, but instead to more anti-piracy campaigns; a final “fuck you” to consumers and musicians across the US.

For those interested in the full chronology and details of the case, check out the heavily referenced Wikipedia page.

Quasi to Release American Gong, Tour, Do Their Darndest to Maintain Post-Bush Relevancy

That great Northwestern powerhouse Kill Rock Stars is the new home of that other great Northwestern powerhouse known to your other brother and me as the one and only Quasi. The newest record, awesomely/horrendously titled American Gong, was recorded at Jackpot Studios by Kendra Lynn and mixed by Steve Fisk (much to the chagrin of all us fans who think that Dave Friedmann is the only man who should be mixing Janet Weiss’s drumkit), and it also features new member Joanna Bolme (of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks infamy) on bass alongside Weiss and everyone’s favorite hate-fueled, government-tormented, white bluesman Sam Coomes. (BTW: anyone who wants to take bets on how many songs will be about how much it sucks to work a blue-collar day job even though Coomes is in fact a touring musician, just email me and you’re on!)

Anyway, American Gong is set to drop on February 23, after which the newly established trio will hit the road for a string of U.S. dates. And more dates are most assuredly on the way, so calm down, late-90s-indie-rock fan-who-worked-at-the-golf-course-with-me-back-then.

American Gong:

01. Repulsion
02. Little White Horse
03. Everything and Nothing At All
04. Bye Bye Blackbird
05. The Jig Is Up
06. Black Dogs and Bubbles
07. Death Is Not the End
08. Rockabilly Party
09. Now What
10. Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler
11. Howler


03.09.10 - Arcata, CA - The Depot at Humboldt State
03.10.10 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent
03.11.10 - Visalia, CA - The Cellar Door
03.12.10 - Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland
03.13.10 - Costa Mesa, CA - The Detroit Bar
03.14.10 - San Diego, CA - The Casbah
03.15.10 - Tucson, AZ - Plush
03.17.10 - Denton, TX - Hailey’s
03.21.10 - Norman, OK - The Opolis
03.22.10 - Kansas City, MO - Record Bar
03.23.10 - Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
03.25.10 - Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge
03.26.10 - Boise, ID - Neurolux
03.27.10 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir
04.15.10 - St. Paul, MN - Turf Club
04.16.10 - Madison, WI - Annex
04.18.10 - Toronto, ONT - Horsehoe Tavern
04.19.10 - Montreal, QC.10 - Il Motore
04.20.10 - Cambridge, MA - Middle East
04.22.10 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
04.23.10 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda’s
04.24.10 - Washington, DC - The Black Cat
04.26.10 - Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle
04.28.10 - Birmingham, AL - The Bottletree
04.29.10 - Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
04.30.10 - Newport, KY - The Southgate House
05.01.10 - Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall

Times New Viking and Yo La Tengo Magical Winter Tour Starts Tonight

Sometimes, magic happens. If you’re a fan of both Yo La Tengo and Times New Viking, that time is now.

When asked during a 2008 interview with Pitchfork, Times New Viking’s Jared Phillips described the best places the band has ever played: “Probably one of those places that we played with Yo La Tengo that we’ll never get to play again [laughs ]. Those were all pretty fun but, you know, if it ever happens we’ll be 40 years old by the time we play in a place that big again.” HOLD ON JARED!!!! You’ll be reunited with Yo La Tengo sooner than you think—tonight, in fact. And really, the most magical thing of all is that, with this tour, we all win.

01.22.10 - Pontiac, MI - Crofoot Ballroom
01.23.10 - Madison, WI - Barrymore Theatre
01.24.10 - St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
o1.26.10 - Lawrence, KS - Granada Theatre
01.27.10 - Tulsa, OK - Cain’s Ballroom
01.28.10 - Houston, TX - Warehouse Live
01.29.10 - Austin, TX - Antone’s
01.30.10 - Dallas, TX - Granada Theatre

After this small trek, Times New Viking and Yo La Tengo will head their separates ways to the same location: Europe. Check out the dates here and here

• Times New Viking: http://www.myspace.com/timesnewviking
• Yo La Tengo: http://www.yolatengo.com

Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt Documentary Coming This Spring, Brooding Pop Enthusiasts Rejoice

Maybe we were a little too quick to crown Morrissey as the Master of Melancholy, cause I’ll be damned if Stephin Merritt doesn’t come in as a VERY close second. The Magnetic Fields are just one of many mopey, dark projects Merritt has been involved with (including the 6ths, the Future Bible Heroes, and the Gothic Archies, to name a few others). But Merritt’s role as the arranger, songwriter, and producer in the Magnetic Fields may represent the best of his talent as a pop musician and overall Sad Sack. Merritt has long been known to expertly punch out moody, confused and jubilant pop song after pop song, but few journalists and/or filmmakers have ever gained access to Merritt’s personal life (though god knows they’d like to).

Well, all that’s about to change. This spring, directors Kerthy Fix and Gail O’Hara plan to release a documentary that chronicles the last 10 years of Merritt’s career and personal life. The film will reportedly gloss over Merritt’s beginnings as a naive copy editor for Spin Magazine and go on to cover his growth as a musician and as a prolific writer for Time Out New York. The film, due sometime in the next few months, will be screened as a part of San Francisco’s SF360 Film+Club series, and will then go on to make the necessary festival rounds. You’ll have to sit tight for the doc’s title though, because that’s not ready yet.

If you’re too ants in the pants to wait for the film’s release, you may satiate yourself in the meantime by checking out the new Magnetic Fields’ release Realism, out on Nonsuch next Tuesday (January 26). That’s in four days!!! And if you can’t wait till THEN, well I feel rather sorry for you—but no really, you can check out all of Realism streaming on the Fields’ MySpace page. Check out a video for “We Are Having a Hootenanny” over at the Chocolate Grinder.

• Magnetic Fields: http://www.houseoftomorrow.com
• Nonesuch: http://www.nonesuch.com

RIP: Apache of hip-hop group Flavor Unit

From AllHipHop:

Flavor Unit emcee Apache, born Anthony Teaks, passed away today (January 22) after a protracted illness.

As an original member of Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit, Apache first appeared on 45 King Presents The Flavor Unit and his best known single “Gangsta B**ch” peaked at #11 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Singles chart.

Shakim Compere, CEO and Co-Founder of Flavor Unit Records, remembered Apache.

“Without Apache there would have been no Queen Latifah, no Naughty By Nature, no Chill Rob G., no anything” Compere told AllHipHop.com. “Apache was the string that tied all of Flavor Unit together. Without Apache none of this would be.”

Apache was one of the three original rappers in Flavor Unit, which also counted Queen Latifah and Latee as early group members.

• Apache: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache_(rapper)
• Flavor Unit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flavor_Unit

Best Buy Wants $250 to Stock Your Band’s CD

For those who have been struggling to get their CD heard—even though it is going to totally revolutionize music, man, because it’s totally like if Pavement and Radiohead got together—there is both good and bad news. The good news is that your local Best Buy will be willing to stock that CD. The bad news is that it requires a $250 non-refundable upfront fee. Oh, and your band will have to use Best Buy’s preferred vendor, J Distribution’s RegionalCD.net.

The hits keep coming, too. Every additional release requires another $100 fee, and to set the CD up for iTunes requires an additional $50 per release. But there is pay! An amazing $5.15 per CD sold! Unless it’s an EP, in which case it’s $3.65 per CD sold. So, for the first LP, a band will need to sell 49 CDs to make a profit, and an additional 20 for each CD after that. EPs will require 69 sales for the initial payback and 28 for each subsequent release.

So, if getting into Best Buy is the only thing between your band and greatness, fork over the cash and hope that the record industry isn’t as dead as Brian Eno thinks it is.


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