EMI Hires Creator of “Second Life,” Looks to Virtual World in Order to Deal With Real Life Grimness

Gather ’round young'uns and take a knee. I've got stories to tell...

Back in the day, record peddlers bankrupted themselves by driving from town to town, blowing radio DJs in exchange for a little airplay for their label's latest signings. If you were lucky, sometimes you got a home-cooked meal of a roast rabbit and some sweet cider for your efforts above and beyond (and below). All monies that were accrued from hard-fought sales were shipped off to Dick Clark, who used the cash to brainwash the nation to support the war effort against the commies through images of pogo-ing teenyboppers via a new fangled device called the "television" (ask your parents). The rest he spent on pomade and crow's feet cream. Between spittin' and rinsin' and paying the pimp, there was little time to enjoy ourselves. Every second Friday down at the town hall, we would sockhop ’til the break of 8 PM and whip Kewpie dolls at the squares before going home to look to the skies for UFOs. We would also grab some sody pops and drive our hotrods up and down the same suckin' street 70 times a night, until our whitewalls were grey from all the Silly Putty, which could be found in the better-built roads of the day...

Sorry, I had an old-fart moment there. Of course, things are different now. The big record companies are having to look outside the box to bump up their revenues and compete, as they evolve from traditional sales businesses to digitally distributed ones. Case in point: EMI -- home to highly-original, critically-loved, and well-known acts like 30 Seconds to Mars, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, and Alpha Galates respectively -- have announced the appointment of former Linden Lab Chief Technology Officer Cory Ondrejka to the company as senior vice-president of digital strategy, presenting him "with a rare opportunity to influence the digital music industry, by helping artists reach their fans in more relevant ways and by allowing fans to find and acquire music through new business models," says the new recruit.

It seems like a perfect fit. Ondrejka discusses his music obsession on his blog thusly:

I neither buy not hear much music. Since 2000, I've only purchased 5 albums. Three by Rush (enough of my friends are Rush fans, so somebody reminds me when they release a new album), Pearl Jam's Pearl Jam (I read a Rolling Stone review in an airport), and R.E.M.'s Accelerate (best Terry Gross interview on "Fresh Air" in months.) [...] I hear lots of new music I like -- anything from the first couple seasons of Alias would work -- but I never hear new music in the right context to buy it.

Uh huh. Well, there is obviously a good reason why EMI would seek out the geek services of "Three by Rush" Ondrejka. The hiring is, of course, a digital strategic decision, and who better than the co-founder and prime builder of the online virtual world phenomenon Second Life to help EMI through these current troubled industry waters. As Hypebot claims, "In addition to developing the core code and building the company from 4 to 250 people, Ondrejka drove multiple initiatives that generated enormous value from user participation, creation, and collaboration. The ecosystems he helped create led directly to the success of Second Life, as well as the ongoing use of Second Life as a platform for music, education, and business."

EMI, the world's fourth-largest music group, is taking great strides in establishing itself as a music industry pioneer in regards to digital technology. The Ondrejka announcement comes hot on the heels of hiring the former chief information officer of Google, Douglas Merrill, to the post of President, Digital Business of EMI Music. Merrill piped up on the addition of Ondrejka to the EMI family:

Cory shares my passion for driving technology and innovation in the digital music business. His unique experience building online environments, like Second Life, will be invaluable to EMI Music, as we create new digital communities for fans and artists. Adding Cory to the leadership team of the company continues to reinforce out commitment to the digital market.

That may all be true, but can Ondrejka hula hoop on top of a telephone booth crammed full with zany letterman sweater-wearing high schoolers? Fuck no, Bazooka Joe!

In related news, Rush album sales are soaring.

Microsoft Realizes the Negative Impacts Its Theft of Your Money May Have On Customer Morale, Supports Your DRM Files For At Least Three More Years

Remember this? In April, Microsoft announced that all DRM digital downloads purchased from its now-defunct MSN Music store would no longer retain their license keys, which meant that customers essentially lost ownership of the music they had actually paid for. Why? Because Microsoft just didn't feel like it. Even though consumers did the right thing and actually plunked down the cash for these songs, they still got fucked.

Guess what. People were pissed off. So pissed off, in fact, that Microsoft decided this week it would continue to support DRM files purchased from MSN Music... for now, anyway. According to Microsoft, via Ars Technica:

After careful consideration, Microsoft has decided to continue to support the authorization of new computers and devices, and delivery of new license keys for MSN Music customers through at least the end of 2011. This means you will continue to be able to listen to your purchased music and transfer your music to new PCs and devices beyond the previously announced August 31, 2008 date.

However, the damage is done, because many people are going to think twice about buying DRM music for the Zune now. Blatantly fucking over your customers will make them mad, and hastily reversing a stupid decision in response to backlash makes you look even more asinine. High five, Microsoft. I think it's time for you to stop complaining about those PC/Mac Guy commercials, because you've officially become That Guy.

What the Shiv does “Thigmotactic” mean? Ask Negativland – it’s the name of their new record.

San Fran sound-collage collective Negativland are releasing their most brand new, ass-shakin' disc Thigmotactic July 15 on their own label, Seeland Records. Though the disc is touted as the band’s first “song-based release,” I personally fail to see how past efforts like No Business (with its “Favorite Things” send up) are any less so. AND ANOTHER THING. If Negativland are the culture-jamming bad-asses like they claim, why release an album at all? While some b-boys are super-disco breakin,' and others are certainly fakin' (looking at you C. Finn), Negativland is most definitely COMMODITY-MAKIN'.

Or maybe that's the point?

Either way, we better get some Negativland Converse/Nike commercials out of this, cause I ain't bailing them out of jail this time...

Decemberists Drummer Announces Solo Album Release

If you’re the drummer of The Decemberists and former drummer for Stephen Malkmus and Elliott Smith, there’s really only one way you can top yourself: release a solo album. Yes, that’s right; John Moen is releasing a solo album under the name Perhapst. The self-titled effort is due August 19 on In Music We Trust.

According to the press release, the album is “filled with quirky, catchy, hook-laden indie-pop, experimental folk-rock, and even some twang for flavor, all delivered with a smirk and a smile.” So, you know, that’s always good. Performing on the album with Moen (who will be tending to vocals/guitar duties) is Chris Funk on guitar (The Decemberists), Eric Louvre on bass (The Dharma Bums), and Jonathan Drews on drums (Sunset Valley).

Perhaps this release from Moen could start a “Decemberists Presents” series, akin to the “Broken Social Scene Presents” series? I can almost see it now: “The Decemberists Present: Colin Meloy – Not Just Another Bespectacled Boy.”

Juana Molina and Feist Tour Together Like Two Peas in an I-Pod

Remember the days when women couldn't vote, work at Subway, run for president, or win surfing championships? Thanks to women like Hil-Dawg and the girls in the film Blue Crush, it seems likely that we'll someday have a female, surf contest-winning president.

What does that mean for women in music? Well, fuck Lilith Fair. We don't need you or your "Girlapalooza" anymore. Strong, talented women like Juana Molina and Feist can perform and not be looked at as sexual objects. Yes, times have changed.

Juana Molina tourdates:

# Juana Molina

Sigur Rós are a fictional group of small, sky blue creatures who live in a village somewhere in the woods. The members look essentially alike -- male, very short (just "three apples tall"), blue skin, white trousers with a hole for their short tails, white hat in the style of a Phrygian cap, and sometimes some additional accessory that identifies their personality (Jónsi, for example, is always carrying around a bow).

Hot off the anticipation for their latest full-length, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (out next week on EMI/XL), Sigur Rós have tacked a healthy batch of North American dates onto their already sizable European tour, with a few Japan dates for good measure. Buy your tickets tomorrow for the North American tour, and see what all the fuss is about.

Full tourdates:

Patti Smith documentary out this September, Me to note in a roundabout way that I (sort of) think Patti Smith is (sort of) the coolest, Me to figuratively mumble this, Wear backwards cap and drag my foot a little like a nervous elementary school kid that breathes heavily through their mouth, You to have to understand all that isn’t said, Patti Smith to inevitably accept my macaroni necklace

Alas, readership! Us common folk will have the opportunity to re-consume the High Art of Patti Smith via a documentary to be released in September, Patti Smith: Dream of Life on Palm Pictures.

Directed by photographer Steven Sebring, who apparently first met Smith in 1996 when photographing her for Spin, the work snagged the Cinematography Award this year at Sundance. The project represents an 11-year effort.

Wild horses can’t keep you away? The film is scheduled to show at the Film Forum in NYC August 16 through 19. I’ll be there with a macaroni necklace for all thousands of you, Oh My So Critical Fanbase. So find me... I’ll be by the door wearing a red carnation on my left lapel. We can all sit together and make macaroni necklaces for Patti Smith. And send them to her. It’d be just so thoughtful.

Girl Talk Has Just Released Feed The Animals, But Who Cares Because Guns N Roses’ Chinese Democracy Has Leaked!

The time has come! As we reported earlier this week (TMT News), Girl Talk has adopted the pay-what-you-want model for his new album, Feed The Animals, and it is now available at Illegal Art's website here.

Depending on the amount you input, you get several different options, including high-quality 320kbps MP3s, FLAC files (at the $5+ level), or on physical CD ($10+, with MP3s or FLAC), which is set for release September 23. You can also get the album as one continuous mix, which is how Girl Talk wants you to hear it. (But don't let him bully you into it. You're your own person, remember that.) Strangely, however, you are given the option to download the album before you even make the official payment (via PayPal), which is either Girl Talk testing your morality or because the programmer couldn't figure out the coding.

I paid $5, but here's what happens if you input $0:

I have opted to pay $0.00 because:

- I may donate later
- I can't afford to pay
- I don't really like Girl Talk
- I don't believe in paying for music
- I have already purchased this album
- I don't value music made from sampling
- I am part of the press, radio, or music industry
- Other reasons

Feed The Animals tracklist:

Now forget everything I just said, because nine supposedly mastered tracks from Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy have leaked! The original link has been taken down, but -- not that I'm encouraging it necessarily -- you can P2P or torrent the tracks fairly easily. As the saying goes: Why not ruin 17 years of waiting for downloaded tracks that may or may not be mastered or even on the album? I think Confucius said that.

Let Epsilon Be Less Than Zero: Don Caballero to Release Punkgasm, Tour with Ponytail

I have a hunch that the members of Don Caballero -- who could out-math pretty much any band out there -- were originally lumberjacks. I mean, let's face it: lumberjacks make good math rock musicians because of their natural logarithms. They definitely weren't just math students all their lives -- hell, most math students think General Calculus is a famous war hero! (Though, if General Calculus actually did exist, he probably knew how to integrate his troops together and differentiate between his enemies and his allies.)

Anyway, Don Caballero have recently announced details for their wow-that-was-quick, I-barely-noticed, that's-awesome-they're-still-around seventh album, Punkgasm. Recorded in Michigan with Al Sutton (no relation to JoMarie Sutton but possibly the long-lost cousin of Kasey Majorowicz), the album is set for release August 25 on Relapse Records (not sure about the North American release yet). Damon Che (drums/mastermind), Eugene Doyle (guitar), and Jason Jouver (bass) were kind enough to/coerced into sending the underlying equation for track "The Irrespective Dick Area," just for you incorrigible TMT readers:

Note the "pun" in Punkgasm tracklist:

* Ponytail

$ An Albatross

The Broken West Get Homesick, Release Sophomore LP This Fall

Okay, maybe it's just me on this one, but after you appropriate some Samuel Beckett action for the title of your debut LP (in this case, The Broken West's minor wave-maker I Can't Go On, I'll Go On released in early 2007 via Merge), you've really gotta throw-down big time with the weightiness of the ol' sophomore effort. Right?

...Or, you could just chill in your backyard and write another record in between alternating rounds of sinking brews and sinking bean bags, I guess! Because that's just what the LA indie-pop quartet went and did with their second (and infinitely less cleverly-titled) LP, Now or Heaven. Well, figuratively, at least. Says the band's press release:

While many bands' second albums end up being about the road, Now or Heaven originates from home, the longing to get there, and all that comes from being there. The perspective generated from time spent on the road and the distance traveled led to a new, unnamable development.

In other words, there are a lot of songs written from Dorothy Gale's post-Oz point-of-view on this record. I don't really see their cover of "Over the Rainbow" on the tracklisting though. Hmmm...

Anyway, this new batch of homebody backyard barbecue jams will see release September 9 of this year via the wonderful wizard of Merge and will be preceded by a smattering of shows along the West Coast (staying close to home, you know) and one lone summer festival date, after which any band that hates the road this much will presumably breakup and start a co-op farm or something. Ziiing!

Goodnight, everybody!

There's no place like home:

  

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