Whatever happened to predictability? The milk man, the paperboy, evening TV? (Clear Channel Revises Agreement So Indie Musicians Aren’t Forced to Sign Over Digital Performance Royalties)

When the world ends, when it crumbles and the last musicians are standing on a cliff, damned to hell, a scrappy lawyer will trot onto god's playing field to save them. It will be difficult, a high-wire act over flame. These poor souls, these artists, they will go through trials and tribulations. Eventually, hopefully, our hero lawyer, who never got to be President but was the biggest man, will save them -- when the world ends. Until then, they're stuck in the middle of a singed rope.

These poor souls! How did it come to this? How did these musical artists end up in such a fix? In 50 years, if our giant of a lawyer can help, if the way business is done changes, apologists will say it was bad luck. Bad luck is a quick, blanket statement that covers all the legal turmoil and copyright battles and creative rights wars that small, independent artists struggled with. Our poor artists would sew the seeds of creativity and receive only blight and famine. Stores of music, locked away with no means of broadcast! What but bad luck would drive these men and women to throw their hands up and be done with the whole business?

It's enough to make one sell their rights to the devil. The devil, looking down on his hot rock, sensed a very shrewd business opportunity. Our artists, though as down-and-out as any Dust Bowl farmer -- good people that they are -- were unwilling to sell. Not wanting to miss out on a deal of an eternity, the devil sent his top salesman, Clear Channel.

Clear Channel sidled up to our artists as they tended the fields of the few outlets of broadcast that were still available. The artists dropped their hoes when they heard Big Radio's case: "Sign over your digital performance royalties to us, and we'll play your music!"

One musician loudly objected, "But you're supposed to play our music anyway, on account of your settlement with the FCC for your payola scandal!"

The devil's salesman smirked and boasted, "4,200 hours worth, for free. Alls' you gotta do is sign over your rights, and it's yours! If you want airplay, sign, sign, sign!"

Another interjected, "But this is America!"

The smirk only grew as the salesman exclaimed, "Exactly!"

He had them, he really had them. The artists talked amongst themselves, wondering what they did to deserve such horrid treatment. Bad luck, perhaps. Greed from Big Radio, more likely. Some signed. And yes, life did get a bit better. Others didn't, and all were outraged. Then, shining from above, our giant stomped onto the scene.

A modern-day Daniel Webster, the collective force of the FCC and the Future of Music Coalition, looked Clear Channel in its eyes. This was something the devil's salesman wasn't used to. Perhaps the artists' luck was about to change. Perhaps. Clear Channel stepped back, shuddering, giving way out of surprise. The devil has a keen business sense, and knows that much of a good deal comes from good timing. Today wasn't the right day, tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow.

As for now, everybody is friendly. Clear Channel has revised the agreement: "In the instance when Clear Channel makes the decision to use the content for terrestrial broadcasting and, as a result, for simultaneous transmission through online streaming ... Clear Channel shall be subject to and pay for all applicable current and future statutory royalties as well as public performance royalties." Friends. Tomorrow, the devil's salesman will wait in the tall grass.

How does it end? Unfortunately, we come into this tale in medias res, and only time will tell what will happen. Artists are hoping to extend their public performance rights to include over-the-air broadcasts, but the future looks grim. Bad luck. So much bad luck, hanging over fire, today and tomorrow, stuck between the devil and our Daniel Webster.

Decemberists to Play Series of Ireland and UK Dates This Fall, Colin Meloy’s Stodgy Stuffed-Shirtedness and Effusive Literary References Finally to be TRULY Appreciated, Mine to Continue Unacknowledged

"Stately, plump Decemberists' Guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk came from the stairhead of the tour bus, bearing a trap table on which a lap steel and an electric mandolin lay crossed. A second-hand baritone guitar, unstrung, was sustained gently behind him by a quaint silver dolly. He held the folk instruments aloft and intoned:

-- Introibo ad vehiculum manus.

Halted, he peered down the dark widening bus aisle and called out coarsely:

-- Come up, Colin! Come up, you fearful frontman!

Solemnly, he came forward and mounted the cloth upholstered bus seat. He faced about and blessed gravely thrice the other band members, the surrounding country, and the awaking mountains. Then, catching sight of Colin Meloy, he bent toward him and made rapid crosses in the air, gurgling in his throat and shaking his head. Colin Meloy, displeased and sleepy, leaned his arms on the top of his road case and looked coldly at the shaking gurgling face that blessed him, equine in its length, and at the light untonsured hair, balding and hued like pale oak.

Chris Funk peeped an instant at the upcoming fall tour schedule and then covered the itinerary smartly.

-- Back to Britain! he said sternly.

He added in a preacher's tone:

-- For this, O dearly beloved, is the genuine UK and Ireland tour: Smart suits and inflatable whales and Garrulous Crane Wife (TMT Review) narratives. Folky/Klesmer/proto-prog/Irish Jig/pop music, please. Shut your eyes, gents. One moment. A little trouble about those Portland Indie-rockers. Silence, all..."

From Swerve of Shore to Bend of Bay:

Just trust me. That whole thing was really clever.

For Just $3, You Can Get a Big Mac, Medium Fries, a Medium Soft Drink, Herpes, and a Sexy McLive Performance from Ne-Yo and Twista During McDonald’s First Live Tour (Oh, Did I Say Herpes? I Meant Apple Pie)

I feel that I am the official McDonald's reporter for TMT, since the fast food Goliath is always doing something revolutionary with music, and I am the one who notices just how quick Ronald McDonald is to "jam" with the kids. You could call it good PR or foolishness, but McDonald's will be embarking on the first ever free, live musical tour to be presented in parking lots. Yeah, you heard it correctly. It sounds like a ridiculous idea straight from Happy Days. But will Fonzie jump the shark?

McDonald's already has jumped the metaphorically frightening shark by hosting a free 10-city tour with performances from Ne-Yo, Kenna, Kat DeLuna, The Dey, Single File, Twista, and Kevin Michael. (What, no Fall Out Boy?) Douglas Freeland, director of U.S. marketing at McDonald's, has said that he knows that music is young peoples' number one passion. Their second passion is, of course, herpes-infested apple pies.

Not all performances will be at McDonald's parking lots, as the first show, being launched July 26, will be a performance of Ne-Yo and Kenna at California's Venice Beach Recreation Center (a cleaner place than a parking lot). The next stops will be Denver featuring Single File, Chicago with Twista, Philadelphia with Kevin Michael, and Bloomfield, NJ with Kat DeLuna and The Dey. The tour will sizzle over September 25 in Austin, TX, with additional artists to be announced.

Between 500 and 1,500 McMusic Lovers will be admitted to each free show on a first-come, first-serve basis, which is just the same treatment as being a regular customer. A stage will be set up in the middle of each McDonald's parking lot with on-site security and barricades to block off the area. The shows will begin at approximately 6:30 PM, according to Freeland. Each concert will be filmed and later posted on MCDLive.com, where fans can then vote for their favorite artist to be featured in a McDonald's 2008 advertising campaign.

So there you have it. It may be Chicago's first chance to see and hear Twista rap the Big Mac song faster than a Cheetah on speed. And this may be your first chance to hear live music in a McDonald's parking lot. And no, listening to Uncle Jethro blasting Europe's "The Final Countdown" on his El Camino speakers does not count as a live parking lot performance. Oh, and I'll be honest now, so that I don't get sued. I was lying about the herpes infesting McDonald's' apple pies. The truth is, I wanted them all to myself. The truth is, I'm a very sad, little man.

No Limit Reunites To Snitch On Lil Wayne

The No Limit Soldiers have released a statement this week claiming responsibility for the arrest of Lil Wayne on Monday. In a release posted on their website and faxed to major news outlets, Silkk the Shocker is quoted as saying, “Judging by the cover art of Lil Wayne’s mixtapes this month Master] P, [C-] Murder, and I agreed that the title we have long held as the originators of the finest album covers in the industry was in jeopardy. While few will disagree that Snoop Dogg’s [Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told is his cover-art opus and Master P’s MP Da Last Don is still the industry standard in holographic cover images, Lil Wayne has clearly made a move to end our dominance. Therefore, we were given no choice but to plant half a pound of marijuana and a .40-caliber Springfield Armory semiautomatic weapon on his tour bus while he was touring in New York City.”

Lil Wayne could not be reached for a response, as immediately after paying his $70,000 bail (supposedly by making it rain on the local judge whom he claimed was a “hater”), he rushed to the studio to record a series of spoken interludes about the event for the upcoming “There Was Never A Drought That Was Never Over 4 (Presented By DJ Whiteowl)” and scour eBay for bootleg copies of The Wonder Years, as his current analogy about Trina being his Winnie Cooper and Curren$y his Paul Pfeiffer needed some refinement.

Lil Wayne’s lawyer, Stacey Richman, however, was quoted as saying,

“Snitches snitches snitches

Y'all be running they mouth just like bitches (bitches)”

Lil Wayne’s court date is scheduled for Friday, July 27. He faces up to three-and-a-half years in jail.

Fugazi Subject of New Photogaphy Book; My Birthday Coming Up

On September 3, 1987, Fugazi played their first show. I was 782 days old, and I was not there. Exactly 20 years later, Glen E. Friedman is celebrating Fugazi's beginnings, and presumably my lack of attendance, by releasing Keep Your Eyes Open, a book of photography revolving around the little band from the District of Columbia who basically invented a bunch of this shit.

By being courteous enough to donate their souls to Friedman's ever-eloquent photographic eye, Fugazi have made a big step in cementing their legacy as underground legends. Besides being a vital cultural artifact, Keep Your Eyes Open is the perfect gift for:

- Your friends who have entered the stage in their lives where they can use coffee table books but are still sort of in denial about it.

- Me.

- Your nephew that always wears cutoff shorts with no socks.

- Ian Mackaye, vocalist of Fugazi

- My mother, because she will thank you profusely and then give it to me.

I am also going to take this time to point out that a friend of mine once publicly stated that he thinks Fugazi sounds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He can be reached here">here.

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