Tiny Mix Tapes: Giving You More RIAA News Than You Can Shake Your “I Don’t Give a Shit!” Stick At!

Here’s TMT’s irreverent recap of recent Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) activity:

1. RIAA Ordered to Pay Fees of Accused Pirate

Not long ago we could have reported that the saga between the RIAA and Tanya Andersen and Tanya Andersen and the RIAA was continuing with no end or excitement in sight, but now we have word that this sorry mess may indeed be coming to a long-overdue close. A recommendation for the RIAA to pay Anderson's lawyer fees and Bill of Cost was approved last October, but in mid-May a U.S. Magistrate Judge recommended the sum to be paid be $107,834. It is not exactly a stiff penalty to the fat cat labels, but the finding is important for future decisions between the RIAA and those accused of illegally downloading its music.

While many accused have settled their file-sharing cases out-of-court, Andersen decided to stand up to legal threats by the RIAA and its questionable bullying collection tactics by countersuing the association under conspiracy laws. While the RIAA claims it is merely trying to take vigorous but appropriate measures in an attempt to curb music piracy (which supposedly costs the U.S. record industry $3.7 billion annually), Andersen's lawyer, Lionel Hutz, I mean Lory R. Lybeck, says that there are flaws in RIAA's identification of suspects through their IP addresses and that the cases against those accused are not about money lost but rather "it's about an extortion campaign" (BusinessWeek, May 5, 2008).

We believe that Andersen has been unfairly targeted by the RIAA, but then again, you never know: the same article in BusinessWeek mentions that Andersen lives with her Maltese-terrier mix, "Tazz." Surely everyone knows that Maltese-terriers are the sneakiest and stealthiest breed of dog. There's a reason canine circles refer to them as "the illegal file-sharing pirates" of the dog world. And yes, there are canine circles.

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2. RIAA Drops Suit Against AllofMP3

The RIAA is trumpeting its victory against AllofMP3, despite dropping its rather large lawsuit against the Russian-based company. Papers were filed in a Manhattan federal court on May 20 voluntarily withdrawing the suit which was originally sought by the RIAA, Warner Music Group Corp., Vivendi SA, and EMI Group Plc.

Jonathan Lamy, a spokesman for the trade group, says "The site is now defunct and out of business, the result of a successful anti-piracy initiative." According to John Crossman, who represented AllofMP3’s owner MediaServicesLLC said of the dismissal, "The RIAA, et al] never correctly commenced the proceeding in the first place" before adding, "Maybe [dropping the lawsuit] was a rare triumph of good sense." He then placed his index finger delicately to his lips and looked slyly at the camera like [Mr. Roper used to do in Three's Company. Regardless of legal technicalities and producing proof, I'm not sure the RIAA would have won the damages it was seeking in the case originally filed in December 2006: $150,000 for each of the 11 million songs illegally downloaded from AllofMp3 from June to October 2006!. A bit steep, but when it caught wind that the site was not forwarding any profits to artists and was providing songs for much, much less than every other retail music website, it had to put its foot down.

What it either doesn’t realize or is conveniently neglecting is that the folks who created AllofMP3 have a new site up called Mp3Sparks, which is based on the very same business practices that the RIAA frowned upon when the site was known as AllofMP3.

AllofMP3 had approximately 5.5 million subscribers who paid an average of 10-20¢per song, bringing in $30 million annually to the site. The 411 on the mysterious Mp3Sparks is unknown (hey, if the RIAA doesn't know about them, how is TMT supposed to?). I'm sure it's all an oversight by the RIAA, who are probably devising a plan to terminate the site's operation as you read this. Whether it will be successful in quashing other illegal music sites in Russia, where this kind of activity is more popular than potato vodka, will remain to be seen. "Cpaciba!"

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3. RIAA Doing Other Stuff

- According to TMT’s freelance snitches (our most reliable avenues for news), we have found out that RIAA officials are increasingly taking part in such shady activities as desecrating war heroes graves, milking seniors out of their pensions with social security scams over the telephone, and charging around schoolyards kicking kids in their stomachs right after they have eaten lunch. A spokesman for the RIAA denies the claims, saying "The RIAA has done nothing wrong..." or something like that. Yeah, yeah, we know! You never do anything wrong, do you?

- Danity Kane’s Welcome to the Dollhouse album has hit the "Gold" certification for sales... ALL LEGAL!

Jason Anderson Tours With Harry And The Potters, Sharpens #2 Pencil For Harry Potter Quiz

New Hampshire singer/songwriter Jason Anderson may be in for a shock when he meets up with Harry and the Potters this summer for a West Coast tour (with one date in Vancouver): there will be quizzes!

In order to help out Anderson, I decided to give him a little test quiz based on the Harry Potter books. Maybe now he’ll feel more at home out on the road with the Potter brothers.

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1. How many goal posts are there on a Quidditch post?

a. 12

b. 2

c. 6

d. 8

2. What birthday does Harry celebrate in the first book?

a. 10

b. 11

c. 12

d. 13

3. How many points is the Golden Snitch worth?

a. 50

b. 500

c. 100

d. 150

Answer Key: c, b, d

Tourdates Key:

Tori Amos Gives Epic the Two-Finger Salute, Complete with Fairy Dust

Tori Amos has officially ended her stint with Epic Records after seven years. (madonna.) She was signed with Atlantic Records from 1992 to 2001, but apparently turned into some kinda masochist and signed another contract with Epic, which bites the dust this week. (radiohead.) "As with many of her contemporaries, Tori is devising new and exciting ways of getting her music to the masses without the boundaries and limitations of the major music companies," tells her manager John Witherspoon to Billboard. (nine inch nails.)

Amos has a new album hitting the shelves, virtual and otherwise in 2009, and she is also writing a musical for the British National Theater called The Light Princess. (paul mccartney.) Her album catalog will also be immortalized in a new graphic novel called Comic Book Tattoo. (the love symbol. I mean, prince.)

(these parenthetical artists get to be in lowercase because they jumped ship back when it was just starting to get embarrassing to stick with your major label, and everyone knows people who write in lowercase are way hip. Tori's gotta earn them stripes. next time, Tori. maybe next news story.)

Dan Deacon Cancels Upcoming Shows

As reported on Pitchfork, Dan Deacon has canceled seven upcoming shows in France and Portugal due to “matters in [his] personal life beyond [his] control.”

Pitchfork courteously took on the hard part of my job and asked Dan to comment: “In addition to working out the matters in my personal life,” he said, “I will be using the time to finish work on the record, work out the plans for possible build out of the new Wham City arts center, and finalize the remaining aspects of the Whartscape Festival.”

As we reported about a month ago (TMT News), Deacon’s new album, Bromst, is tentatively set for release in the fall. The Whartscape Festival will take place July 17-20 in Baltimore. I’m thinking about going. As far as the Wham City arts center, that’s the first I’ve heard of it. Awesome.

Take your time, Dan. Hope everything works out.

The Canceled Dates:

$ Ultimate Reality show

OiNK Users Arrested; We Ex-OiNK Users Should Probably Start Going Through The Name-Changing Paperwork Now

File-sharing utopia and invite-only torrent site OiNK.cd was shutdown by the Cleveland and Dutch police back in 2007. Since then, no users, not even the site's owner, have been charged.

Until now, that is.

The go-to torrent news blog TorrentFreak reports that Cleveland, UK police recently arrested six OiNK users for, according to their sources, “Conspiracy to Defraud the Music Industry.” This essentially means the accused OiNK members were apparently arrested for sharing advance/pre-release albums with ties to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), an affiliate of the RIAA. (The IFPI mostly parties with the major labels, but judging by its extensive list of member sites, the group also expands its protection to indies.)

The British Phonographic Industry provided the following statement (via The Register):

The BPI and IFPI worked with the police in order to close down the OiNK tracker site last October. The illegal online distribution of music, particularly pre-release, is hugely damaging, and as OiNK was the biggest source for pre-releases at the time we moved to shut it down. We provided the information to assist this investigation, but this is now a police matter and we are unable to comment further at this stage.

At this point, it's unclear if more arrests are expected and why British police are involved in this particular investigation but not other file-sharing incidents.

Anyway, if you don't see any news stories from me for more than two weeks from today, then you can safely assume that I've either (a) gotten fed up with Mr P's bullshit or (b) have been caught and incarcerated.

I'm all for option A.

RIP: Bo Diddley Dies at 79 Due to Heart Failure

“I thank you in advance for the great round of applause I'm about to get.”

- Bo Diddley Official Website
- Bo Diddley Wikipedia entry
- NPR story: "Rock Pioneer Bo Diddley Dies at 79"

[Photo: Aconcagua]

Adventure Signs to Carpark, To Release Debut in September

Wham City extraordinarily extraordinaire Benny Boeldt is Adventure, and Adventure is his debut album, set for release September 16 on Carpark. But does that mean Adventure is Benny? Does it mean that Benny himself is an album? Does it mean the release date is really Carpark, and that the record label is Benny's moniker? C'mon press release, tell me something good:

His ultra-melodic synth compositions pull from his earliest exposure to the 8-bit soundtracks of the Sega Genesis video game catalog. But it's not just retro video game music. Mix in the kitschy Moogy sound of Hot Butter's "Popcorn", the saturated disco-theatrics of late seventies electro-pop acts like Sparks and Yellow Magic Orchestra, and a penchant for Eastern European diminished scales and you've come pretty close to Adventure's accelerated baroque sound.

Adventure's tracklisting:

Adventure's tracklisting without line breaks: 1. Loredo 2. Poison Diamonds 3. Civilization 4. Hyper Glow 5. Travel Kid 6. Iron Stallion 7. Battle Cat 8. Wild Wild Ride 9. Ultra Zone 10. Crypt Castle Cult 11. Jurassic Park City

Finally, Adventure has a couple dates in June (at New York's Cake Shop on June 4 and at Talking Head in Baltimore the next day), but is planning on tagging along the Wham City Round Robin tour this October with Dan Deacon, Ponytail, Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, and others. They all have new albums coming out too, as we've reported here and there. More dates too with Dan Deacon and Video Hippos!

[Photo: Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez]

Liz Phair Confirms Exile in Guyville Tourdates For San Francisco and Chicago

Remember a few weeks ago when TMT reported that ’90s goddess Liz Phair was going to be performing her classic album, Exile In Guyville, in its entirety? (TMT News) Well, it turns out that the Hiro Ballroom in New York City isn’t the only lucky venue that’s being graced with Phair’s presence, as she just announced last week that dates have been added in Chicago and San Francisco.

All of this exciting news is of course due to the fact that Exile In Guyville is being reissued June 24 on CD, vinyl, and in digital format from ATO Records. The special reissue package will include three never-before-released songs from the original recording sessions: “Ant in Alaska,” with Phair simply accompanying herself on guitar, “Say You,” which features Phair and a full band, and an untitled instrumental with Phair on guitar.

She has also just completed a new, 80-minute DVD, Guyville Redux, for the reissue. The DVD examines the male-dominated indie rock scene in early-’90s Chicago, including interviews with Gerard Cosloy and Chris Lombardi of Matador Records, engineer Steve Albini, Ira Glass of NPR’s “This American Life,” and John Cusack among others!

So what are those dates again?

The Pogues to Release New Box Set, My One Friend Who Likes The Pogues to Get Excited (Read: Drunk)

Good news, violent people! The band that has made you feel for years that being an unstable alcoholic, jovial party-goer, pensive stoic, and blubbering spiritualist are all reconcilable (and acceptable) ways to behave is finally consecrating your questionable obsession with caricature-music with that classic symbol of a tenured band-turned-obstinate social symbol: the lumbering 5CD Box Set.

This particular badge of stubborn permanence, Just Look Them In the Eye and Say... Poguemahone, will be released by Warner/Rhino June 2 in the UK and Northern Ireland and June 17 across the pond (June 3 for the import though, apparently) and is comprised of, you guessed it, previously-unreleased material and hard-to-find rarities.

Compiled by The Pogues themselves with track-by-track annotations from Phil Chevron, Just Look Them in the Eye promises to bludgeon its listeners with a hefty 109 tracks from 1983 demos (pre-dating their first recordings for Stiff Records) through to live recordings from 2001 when The Pogues reconvened, after disbanding in 1996, for their very punctual money-grab. As an illimitable Pogues fan, you'll revel in a treasure-trove of material that this monumental band never saw fit to release in the first place, including rehearsal recordings, B-sides, outtakes, rare mixes, and BBC sessions spanning their entire career, plus recordings with Steve Earle, Joe Strummer, and, duh, Kirsty MacColl.

But wait! There's more: You'll also get unreleased soundtrack recordings from Sid and Nancy, rarities from the films Garbo and Straight To Hell (yeah, remember those?), alternate versions of songs you already own like "Fairytale Of New York" and "Rainy Night In Soho," and a heaping helping of live recordings. Still not enough, huh?? Well, how's about if they smother some never-before-released covers on top of that hot heap of tracks, like The Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe In Magic," Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction," and The Faces' "Maggie May?" The deal can't get any sweeter than that. Just think how much drinking and dart-throwing you could get done while these discs play out! The Pogues rule.

See the complete tracklist, in all of its relevant glory, here.

Summer dates w/ beer gardens:

Napster Goes DRM Free, Metallica Sucks

Dude, remember back in 2002 or so when you got your first computer and your older brother had to have "the talk" with you? Sure, it was awkward and uncomfortable, but it seemed damn worth it at the time. After all, you didn't want to end up just knocking back a few T1 connections, hooking up with some random MP3s you met on the internet, and catching a DRM! "Take it from me," he said. "I had a little downloading fun, got slapped with a DRM, and now I can never feel comfortable sharing music again." A gruesome lesson.

But hey, now it's 2008, kids, and the pandemonium over catching DRM is finally on the wain, as the concept of free-love finally returns to digital downloads (which, uh, are still not "free," really). And the latest company to finally tune-in and get clean? Napster.

Yes, much to the chagrin of Lars Ulrich (we assume), the squeaky-clean Napster is letting it all hang out, sexily stripping DRM from all paid downloads on its digital music service in favor of hot, carnal, unprotected MP3s, just like they told us they would way back in January! As of last week, all 6 million (as compared with the less-manly 2 million over at AmazonMP3; sorry ladies) songs in the Napster catalog are now available for purchase without the buzz-killing threat of contracting DRM.

These new, uninhibited MP3 files will be of higher quality than the DRM carriers (256 kbps compared to 192 kbps) but will still cost a tantalizing 99¢. Plus, unlike other digital retailers who are also "getting DRM-free" -- such as Wal-Mart -- Napster actually hasn't lost any cool-points at school, as all four major labels as well as all of its existing indie label and aggregator partners are supporting its decision, conservative kids be damned! Perhaps most importantly, Sony BMG has come out in support of Napster's decision by replicating the same "agency" model it started using with the AmazonMP3 store. In addition, Napster is also winning some big time "social responsibility" points by reaching out to all Windows Media DRM victims with special support groups that allow those MP3s to stand up and be heard (unlike the now-defunct MSN Music service, which cruelly turned its back on victims of DRM)!

But despite its new sense of liberation, Napster wants the world to know that it's still all about the long-term relationships at heart. "We're really focused on subscription and driving subscribers as our business model," says Napster COO Christopher Allen. "It's a way for us, through MP3s, to get some exposure to our subscription service," he continues. "They may be initially attracted to the MP3s... and I think it will result in more subscribers over time." The company is hoping that by committing to Napster though a variety of internet-connected devices -- such as mobile phones, home stereos, and eventually car radios -- a beautiful, enduring relationship will eventually start to take shape in which a monthly subscription to access all the music they want from any device is more attractive to their customers than a quick, one-night download.

But hey, before you go out there and pick up any old MP3 off the street thinking that it can't happen to you, remember that the DRM-free movement has not yet made it to the Napster Mobile service, which is the default mobile music service for several wireless operators worldwide, including AT&T Mobility (which also counts eMusic as a digital music provider). As of now, music purchased via Napster mobile will still be encoded in the Windows Media DRM. Allen says this will change "soon," as Napster and its liberated partners test a new system that would send a DRM-free version to users' computers, as well as a second copy to their phones without that nasty, "Windows" DRM. But until then, you know, watch where you stick your phones, huh?