SoundExchange Audits Last.fm, Raises Questions About the Value of Music

Leave it to those bigwigs at the Copyright Royalty Board and SoundExchange to get all existential on our asses about the true value of that new Mariah Carey jam. The Daily Swarm is reporting (via Digital Media Wire) that SoundExchange has honed in on Last.fm, the internet radio/social networking website, alleging that the site may not be in compliance with royalty requirements for the songs it uses. An audit will assess the "only a couple of thousand dollars a year" that Last.fm paid under the Small Webcasters Settlement Act, despite selling out to CBS for more than $200 million shortly thereafter. It is this Small Webcasters act that has kept much of internet radio functioning due to pressures from the Copyright Royalty Board. If Last.fm is indeed found to be ducking charges, the real loser will be the truly "small" webcasters for whom the act is designed to protect.

However, more questions sit at the center of the debate, as examined in detail by DC attorney David Oxenford. In plain English, Oxenford argues that the copyright holders (record companies) assume that the success of sites like Last.fm are based solely on the music they provide, and they should be compensated as such. What they fail to realize, he notes, is that, if this were true, internet radio would be thriving and anyone could do it. Really, it is the "community aspects" of sites like Last.fm or iMeem that serve as the main draw. When these success stories are eventually bought out for unreal amounts of money (in an effort to expand the service), the record companies will eventually be paid their share if the successes continue.

And so the question remains: is there an "intrinsic value" to music or should it be judged only as a tool that leads to "revenue"? It all might seem like a load of industry mumbo-jumbo, but as a fan and a listener, it is quite terrifying that when these court precedents about who owns what and how much it is "worth" finally come down, they will dictate how and when we hear music.

Foot Village’s “Friendship Nation” Tour Will Fudge You Up (It Will Also Fuck You Up)

What's the deal with Foot Village? Well, according to their MySpace:

Our national language is drumming.

Our national pass-time is screaming.

Founded in the barren ruins of Hades, after the millenialist event evaporated the seas, Foot Village is both redemption and punishment for mankind. It is a nation unlike any other and only by visiting there can you really know.

Indeed, these crazy motherfuckers make noise without electric instruments (the gall!), and guess what? They're going on tour! Their latest album, the drum-heavily awesome Friendship Nation, was released on TOME back in March. It has nude cover art, too. Society is crumbling y'all, and you can help it crumble faster by participating in the insanity at one of these dates:

* Thanks Taylor

P.S. Bring drumsticks and/or drumkeys to any of the shows, and you'll receive a free, tour-only CD-R called Before They Were Foot Village, which I'm sure you can guess what that's all about.

EMI Hires Google Exec to Head Up Digital Music on April Fool’s Day, Realize It Might Actually Be a Good Idea

Former Google Chief of Information Officer Douglas Merrill is trading Google's dress code (jeans, "witty saying" t-shirt, Converse) for EMI's (sup, Bill Blass?) and starting a new gig as head of EMI's digital music. In the past, EMI has been less associated with change and progress and more associated with releasing singles without telling its artists (TMT News), blaming profit nosedives on the nearest parking meter, and axing employees left and right.

But don't worry. It all makes perfect sense!

After a few pints at the Irish pub down the block (you know, the kind that doesn't have Guinness but allows people to blast Flogging Molly at all hours of the day), the boys from the office thought of a total screamer! The news of Merrill's hiring dropped on April 1, which many serious businesses with Real Suits forget is April Fool's Day. Of course, no one believed those cut-ups at EMI, and the whole office had quite a chuckle over the funny joke they had played on the rest of the industry. Hiring one of those hippies over at Google? The very idea! But Merrill stopped by to join the hilarity and slipped something into the CEO's tea, and whaddaya know? Dude got himself a job. For real.

Thanks to hallucinogenic drugs, it will be soooooo much easier to get the latest on EMI's new digital releases. Finally, I can effortlessly buy albums from Yellowcard and 30 Seconds to Mars on the internet.

But: Will Merrill help save the music industry?

Times New Viking Deported… Or Touring UK (Definitely One of The Two Though)

Maybe it's because of all of the recent "Go Green" hype, or maybe it's because of the swell in homeland hope and pride that accompanies an upcoming presidential election, but whatever the reason, one thing is clear: America is ready to clean up its act!

And we're starting with those Columbus, OH speaker-wreckers Times New Viking. Over the past several years, these sludgy noise-poppers have been dumping their noise-polluted records, most recently their Matador Records debut Rip It Off (TMT Review), and no one has had the courage to stand up to their skuzzy onslaughts.

But now, at long last, a new day is dawning. No longer will the United States look the other way about Times New Viking's catchy brand of noise pollution. That's why we're packing them up, cramming them onto a cargo ship, and depositing them (safely) on the other side of the Atlantic. And do you know what else? We're even packing up their dirty, dirty records and shipping them overseas too! That's right, as part of its community service, Matador is spearing-up all of the Rip It Off copies it can find along the side of the highway and shipping them over to the UK on April 28 (where, presumably, they can be recycled into lightweight furniture for Thom Yorke's solar-powered summer house).

Now if only we could pass a bill to clean up all those Dirty Projectors, we'd be in business.

Good riddance to rad rubbish:

* Thanks Hari!
# Thanks Kevin!

Rock ‘N’ Roll Is The New York Dolls: New York Dolls for Live At The Fillmore East (Thanks Again Morrissey)

This is rock ‘n’ roll: Skinny boys who smoke smack and confidently flip their long hair back like conceited prom queens. It's beer cans crumbled like pieces of paper. It’s sneaking out of your parents' second-story window to go to a show, the show, probably the most important show of your life. (And if it’s not, then fuck it, at least you got drunk and/or laid).

Rock ‘n’ roll is a band like The New York Dolls, who played their very first show on Christmas Eve 1971 at a homeless shelter, who listened to The Rolling Stones, MC5, and The Stooges in the same way Kiss, Blondie, and The Smiths listened to them. Without The New York Dolls, rock record buffs would be missing essential building blocks in their collection: Too Much Too Soon, Seven Day Weekend, and New York Dolls are albums as important as Whiskey Sours and unfiltered cigarettes to every new generation of smut.

The New York Dolls' first break came when Rod Stewart invited them to fill the opening slot in London, but their second break is all because of Morrissey. In 2004, Morrissey organized his heroes to reunite for the Meltdown Festival, which gave way to both an album and DVD on Morrissey’s Attack label. So thank Morrissey for giving us a second chance to catch all the glory.

Which leads me up to the new news: On June 17, The New York Dolls are releasing Live At The Fillmore East, a new live album recorded last December, via Sony BMG. It's supposedly cleaner than any live document released before, but it still sounds like how we prefer them: raw.

Live At The Fillmore East tracklist

NY District Court Supports RIAA In Case Regarding Kazaa; Vague, Hulking Menace of Copyright Law Gradually Lumbering This Way, We Might Want to Move In a Few Years

On March 31, a federal District Court in New York provided “specific language” for labels to use when suing someone who didn’t necessarily share files per se, but merely placed them in a context in which they’re allowed to be shared.

Basically: A lady got sued in August 2005 for having 600 MP3s in her Kazaa shared folder. The woman, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, filed briefs saying, “Wait, guys, you don’t have any proof that these files were shared, just that they were in a shared folder.”

Copyright law regulates “publication,” which has a fancy legal definition wherein you distribute something by selling it or giving it away or lending it or whatever. The labels were accusing the woman of making a work available for “distribution,” which is a situation copyright law that hadn’t really been tackled yet.

Now I’m beginning to understand why this has taken so long.

The District Court spent over two-and-a-half years doing something, then issued a statement at the end of last month agreeing with the labels and alleging that, from a digital copyright law standpoint, “publication” and “distribution” are synonymous. An 11-year-old could have probably told you that the two words mean pretty much the same thing, of course, but from a legal standpoint, this provides a tiny little hole through which the RIAA can continue its string of large-figure lawsuits against just about everybody.

According to the new ruling, it’s kosher to sue for "offer(ing) to distribute copies or phonorecords (MP3s) to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution." Having files in a shared folder can be considered a tacit kind of offering, so here we are. People don’t use Kazaa anymore, but I could see this eventually affecting FTPs or, really, just about any method of transferring files from one computer to another. Of course, as long as legal proceedings move at about one-millionth the pace of file-sharing technology, piracy will probably reign. Woo.

It’s A Cruel, Cruel Summer: Sunn O))) Dude’s New Project Coming Out on Southern Lord

I used to have this friend who was obsessed with the Southern Lord label. He would talk non-stop about bands on Southern Lord that I had never heard of. He would bring me to shows by other Southern Lord bands I had never heard of, which he promised would be "awesome" and "incredible." Oftentimes, he was right, but holy shit was this stuff degrading my self-esteem, because we both worked at a record store together. And like most record store employees, I did not want to admit that there could be record labels and entire genres of bands that I knew almost nothing about.

So, this one goes out to you, friend, who introduced me to Sunn O))). Here's a story for you, all the people like you, and all the people like me who hate to claim ignorance about a good thing. In this case, that "good thing" is ASCEND, a new project out on Southern Lord. It features Greg Anderson of Goatsnake, Engine Kid, and Sunn O))) along with Gentry Densley of Iceburn and Eagle Twin. The new album hits stores May 27, 2008 and promises to bring its share of the ominous, heavy jams needed for a killer summer. It features guest performances from pals like Soundgarden's Kim Thayil, Steve Moore of Earth and Sunn O))), and Andy Patterson. But that's not all -- there will also be Wurlitzer organs on this thing! It doesn't get much more rock ‘n’ roll than organs, am I right?

Comcast Admits to Secret Love Affair with BitTorrent

Great duos:

Wait wait wait. Comcast and BitTorrent?! Yes, according to The Wall Street Journal, internet service provider (ISP) giant Comcast will be working with the torrent protocol developers over at BitTorrent, Inc. in an effort to move video content more efficiently through its network.

Comcast has been at odds with the torrent community since August 2007, when it was reported that the ISP was blocking torrent traffic, causing net neutrality proponents to shit their pants. Comcast later issued a press release stating, "Torrents are destroying our network. In the near future, all of our bandwidth will be consumed by a protocol dedicated to illegal file-sharing. And that will leave no bandwidth for Joseph Goldbottom's Bar Mitzah Evite. And imagine how ka'ab Joseph will feel when nobody shows up to his manning party?"

No word yet as to any specifics of the agreement or what could possibly come out of it.

Avant Music Fans In Anticipation of the Bent Festival: “Don’t Put Me In Your Box Unless It’s Disassembled And Filled With Frayed Sparking Wires!”

If this year's festival lineups seem a little vanilla for your taste, and the prospect of moshing along to "Guerilla Radio" with an aged Rage Against the Machine doesn't spark your interest, perhaps the fifth annual Bent Festival of circuit bending is more your style. What the hell is circuit bending? Well, straight from the experts, "Circuit Bending is short-circuiting battery-powered sound making devices to create new musical instruments," and this year's festival will take place in Los Angeles (April 17-19), New York City (April 24-27), and Minneapolis (May 1-3). LA performances will take place at Zero-Point and the California Plaza, NYC at The Tank, and Minneapolis at Intermedia Arts (mere blocks from Mr P's house).

All shows start at 7 PM and are completely free, with small fees for those interested in participating in afternoon workshops and zapping some wires of their own. Artists performing who are guaranteed to impress your friends in skill and obscurity include:

Dosh Finally Escapes From Andrew Bird’s Clutches Long Enough To Record Fourth Solo Album

Back Story: For the past year, our hero, Martin Dosh, has been held captive by a certain violin-playing, mouth-whistling, guitar-slinging villain, better known as Andrew Bird, or The Birdman, if you will. Against poor Dosh’s will, The Birdman allegedly forced him to tour around the country (And Europe and Australia too! Gasp!) playing drums and keyboard in his backing band. Word has it that the Birdman even resorted to pecking the defenseless Dosh in the face if he even mentioned anything about his own solo career. How dreadful!

Present Day: It appears with the help of some of his anticon. labelmates, Dosh has managed to escape The Birdman’s evil clutches. Yoni Wolf of WHY? (a.k.a The Wolfman) and Adam Drucker of Subtle (a.k.a. Doseone) were seen breaking into The Birdman’s tour bus while he sat perched asleep inside his cage. The Wolfman howled at Dosh, signaling to him that he was safe and it was time to go. Doseone grabbed Dosh’s shakey hand, and the two heroes led him out of the bus and back to anticon.'s Oakland, California hideout.

Conclusion: The Birdman has decreed on message boards across the land that he will seek revenge on Dosh, but for now, it seems that Dosh is safe from the evil beak of The Birdman and able to focus on his fourth solo album, Wolves and Wishes, due out May 13 on anticon.

The tracklisting is as follows:

Tune in next week to see if The Birdman finds out where Dosh is hiding! Will he wreck havoc on the anticon. offices? Will he ruin Dosh’s CD release party? Stay tuned to Tiny Mix Tapes for all the action!