Surprise, surprise: Vivendi's Universal Music has received U.S. antitrust approval to acquire BMG Music Publishing, in an estimated $2.09 billion deal. (Shit, that's a lot of Egg McMuffins.) What does this mean? It means that Universal could potentially own 22% of the publishing market, which would essentially combine (1) the world's third largest music publisher and largest independent music publisher with (2) the world's fourth largest publishing company that already owns and administers more than 1 million copyrights. (Try to guess which one's which!) This would create the world's largest publishing company, just beating out EMI.
But, don't worry, you optimistic mealworm! Because here comes IMPALA, the pan-European independent labels/publishers group that successfully overturned the EC's approval of the Sony BMG merger!! Can IMPALA come to the rescue and provide some valuable input to the EU's investigation!? Will IMPALA be able to convince the inhabitants of Earth that a merger could lead to "prejudice in terms of collecting societies, online licensing, synchronisation markets, and the restrictive impact on songwriters and artists"!? The IMPALA members are currently in consultation with each other and we should hear back soon. C'mon, they've gotta prove the U.S. wrong! They've just gotta.
THIS JUST IN: ARTISTS STILL FUCKED
My sophomore year of college, I lived across the street from a fraternity house. No, it wasn't this pack of bigots, though I'm embarrassed to say that it was at the same institution. Anyway, like most frat guys, they were really into drinking beer shirtless on their front porch, with music blaring and barbecues blazing. Hey, whatever floats your boat, right? Well, no. Not when your boat is pumping Jimmy Buffet loud enough for all of Baltimore hear. Saturday after Saturday, my roommates and I were jolted awake by the pseudo-calypso strains of "Margaritaville," "Cheeseburger in Paradise," and all the other food-and-drink-themed classics. And when they got tired of that? "Sweet Home Alabama."
While I'm free associating, I might as well let you know that Jimmy Buffet has decided to sue some dude for copyright infringement. Apparently that dude, named Robert Akard, owns a site called Under One Hut, where you can buy all types of latter-day frat guy accoutrements, from crisp, khaki shorts to beach-themed home accessories. Listen, don't barf yet — it gets better. So the dude's web site is selling some Jimmy Buffet merch, apparently without permission from the Buffmeister. Interested? Well, for $16, this little beauty can be yours.
This kind of makes me nervous that Jimmy Buffet is going to sue TMT for adapting his lyrics to last month's news story. That would be really sad, because then Mr P would be totally penniless and have to go live in a box. Whoa, that's depressing. Please, Jimmy Buffet, for the love of all things tequila-infused, have a heart! Don't take away Mr. P's home!!!
So, it goes like this. Mazarin, the psychedelic rock band from Philadelphia that has toured with The Walkmen, Rogue Wave, and more over the last 10 years or so, were given a cease-and-desist letter from some '70s rock never was-ers, also called Mazarin, who claim to be the "Rock and Roll Legends of Long Island." According to the band's web site, they didn't want to fight the "L.I. Legends" and have decided to give up the name.
After December 2, the band that released Watch It Happen (1996), Tall-Tale Story Line (2001), and We're Already There (2005) will no longer be called Mazarin. They are not breaking up exactly, as they state later on the site, "Quentin Stoltzfus (and every contributing member to have ever played in Mazarin) is still making music with every intention of making it available to you, in time!" Since Stoltzfus wrote all the songs and has pretty much been the only constant in the band, all and all, the name seems fairly inconsequential.
Their last "Mazarin" show will be in Philadelphia, on December 2. The band will be taking e-mail requests, through their site, for what songs they should play during the show. Please, drunk-asshole-who-will-scream-all-night-for-them-to-play-"Chasing The Girl," save everyone the discomfort and just put it in an e-mail or two, or one-hundred, whatever it takes. As one final consolation, the band has put up their last "Mazarin" song, "Your Advice" on their MySpace page as a free download.
12.02.06 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda’s *
* w/ Public Record and Beat Jams
MySpace, a site owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., has decided to disallow copyrighted music from being uploaded to its member pages. Reported in The Globe and Mail, MySpace will use "audio fingerprinting" to filter copyrighted material. The site will check uploaded songs against Gracenote's database. From the article: "'MySpace is staunchly committed to protecting artists' rights, whether those artists are on major labels or are independent acts,' said Chris DeWolfe, MySpace chief executive and co-founder."
I was going to spend much of my TMT space elaborating on the story, but I started reading some of the comments posted after the article. Not that you have to travel far, or at all, to find someone who is frustrated with copyrights and music rights, but the debate on The Globe and Mail is especially telling.
goofy fathead wrote: "im not going to use myspace then. i pay 40 bucks a month to my cable company, that should entitle me to download what i want, when i want, and share what i want as well."
Rick Czarnota wrote: "You are entitled to nothing more than being able to access the website. Why do you... seem to think you should have access to a product for free?"
Mark H. wrote: "Every good thing sells out. I am not in any way infringing on the rights of the people who 'own' the content (It's not property, I can't write a letter to data, or transport it without media, or grab it out of the air). Hell, it's free freakin' advertising. Posting is not stealing. It's just attaching a different url to a datastream."
We are saturated by intellectual property these days, with iPods, Walkmens, video iPods, home studios, DV cameras, and home-editing suites. Companies are doing A LOT to get us the media we want. They have to do it under the letter of the law, and really, why should they do it any other way? Mark H's comment that MySpace has sold out just means that they are large enough to show up on the radar of law enforcers. Google removed copyrighted material from YouTube because that site, like MySpace, is a distributor of content. Saying, "it's just attaching a different url to a datastream" is, like most arguments against copyright, circumventing the obvious: "owned" media displayed without consent. It sucks, but it's the cost of doing business. And it is a business.
Perhaps we should be discussing what constitutes intellectual property or copyrightable material and how one might go about "owning" it. Go to an AMC-owned movie theater and see that they've made "Silence is Golden" a registered trademark. What about the aggressive campaigns to patent animals, plants, and even human DNA? And did you know Time Warner owns the song "Happy Birthday to You"? How are these any less objetionable than filtering out copyrighted music? How are they more? These topics are important, and it is more important that we all take a step back and count where we stand on privatization, copyrights, and intellectual property. Argue against MySpace and Google, but do it because that is what you believe, not because you want to save a few bucks. Let's debate in earnest. I know where I stand. Do you know where you stand?
Great news loyal TMT readers! Your Clear Channel stock has already risen 5% since this morning, after the lovable and huggable Clear Channel announced an agreement to be acquired by a private investor group for $18.7 billion (approx. $26.7 billion plus an assumed $8 billion debt). The Clear Channel board of shareholders unanimously approved the merger agreement, and a special advisory committee of disinterested directors unanimously deemed the transaction to be fair, which means shareholders like you will receive $36.70 per share! Not bad for doing nothing at all.
So why is Clear Channel doing this? Let's see what it had to say in its SEC (Security and Exchange Commission) regulatory filing:
"The Board believes that these decisions are in the best interest of our shareholders. As you know, our Company outperforms the competition in every business in which we operate, but the public market has not appropriately valued our performance. The consortium has agreed to pay $37.60 per share to acquire the company, which is 25 percent greater than our average closing share price of $29.99 during the 30 trading days ended October 24, 2006, the day before the company first acknowledged that it was evaluating strategic alternatives."Clear Channel can still solicit competing bids from third parties (like us or Stylus) through December 7 and negotiate until January 5. Otherwise, the more than 1,100 radio stations and all those billboard and bus-stop ads will be acquired by Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. and Bain Capital Partners, LLC.
Current Clear Channel management, including the infamous Mays family, will continue to work for the company. And don't forget about their spin-off company Live Nation!
The $18.7 billion deal was in cash, so if you saw a couple suited douchebags shaking hands in front of a truck full of discreet suitcases, you totally missed your chance to congratulate them on a job well done and thank them for all those radio stations and advertisements.
It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when the mere mention of "Montréal" immediately prompted wistful thoughts of this [Shapes and Sizes look to be the latest act to receive the golden touch of luck that residency in Montréal brings].
Wait, I know what you're thinking: "Hey dicklick! Shapes and Sizes are from Vancouver, not Montréal!" Well, the Victoria-born and Vancouver-based group are now Montréal-bound, as the band have decided to pack up their gear and try their luck in "la belle province." Whether a change in home camp will result in success on the scale of century-long hockey glory or 1.5 month-long indie rock message-board talk is anyone's guess, but the quartet is having a plum year nevertheless.
Before setting up permanent headquarters, the band will head out on vacation, albeit a working one. Like so many Canadian "snowbirds," Shapes and Sizes will spend the cold month of December in the mostly agreeable U.S., touring in continued support of their summer smash debut album on Asthmatic Kitty, Shapes and Sizes. There should be plenty of new songs to hear as well, because they recently recorded their second album (tentatively due in the spring of 2007).
Before the sophomore effort hits both concrete and virtual stores, Asthmatic Kitty will be releasing a new single by the band, with a twist. The label will be launching its "Unusual Animals Series" on January 23 with the release of the first in a series of split 7-inch singles. As the title suggests, the goal is to pair seemingly unsimilar acts and perhaps highlight the more "experimental" side of the record co. Volume 1 has "Jinker/That Fat Hand" by, you guessed it, Shapes and Sizes paired with The Weird Weeds' "Hold in the Light." Future singles include Half-Handed Cloud splitting sides with Ariel Pink and a Castanets/Dirty Projectors disc. Each will be sleeved in designs by kinky illustrator and animator Jared Chapman. If you are allergic to vinyl or don't own a turntable, the songs in this series will be available for streaming on the Asthmatic Kitty website. The following shows will not, so you'll have to get out of your bedrooms and away from your computers to see 'em.
12.01.05 - Missoula, MT - The Loft
12.02.06 - Billings, MT - Venture Theatre
12.04.06 - Fargo, ND - Aquarium
12.05.06 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry
12.06.06 - Madison, WI - Café Montmarte
12.07.06 - Chicago, IL - Beat Kitchen
12.08.06 - Urbana, IL - Courtyard Café *
12.09.06 - Columbus, OH - Andyman's Treehouse
12.10.06 - Covington, KY - Southgate House
12.11.06 - Muncie, IN - Village Green Records #
12.12.06 - Bloomington, IN - TBA
12.14.06 - Austin, TX - Emo's $
12.15.06 - Dallas, TX - The Roadhouse
12.16.06 - Odessa, TX - The Cavern
12.17.06 - Phoenix, AZ - Modified Arts %
12.19.06 - San Diego, CA - Che Café ^
12.20.06 - Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland
12.21.06 - San Francisco, CA - Botton of the Hill
# w/Arrah and The Ferns, This Story
$ w/The Weird Weeds
% w/Dressy Bessy
^ w/Bunky, Rafter and Friends
Live Nation Finishes Buying Out House of Blues; Still In Negotiations with White House, Greenhouse Effect, Satan
Michael Rapino, CEO of the charming cash succubus that is Live Nation, has a heartwarming message for all music lovers: "We are excited about continuing to build the great House of Blues brand throughout the world. It will provide Live Nation with a great mid-size music business to compliment our music venue portfolio." Set your fears aside, people. The world's largest promoter and venue operator is getting bigger... and they're excited about it! Yes, the $350 million acquisition of the House of Blues franchise is finally finishing up after recently being cleared by the Department of Justice. Rapino plans on keeping the HOB brand name intact out of respect for the franchise's legacy, and in no way to dampen the public awareness that Live Nation controls every building in your hometown, including your own grandmother's garage. Next time you decide to visit, remember to bring enough lemonade for her and each member of Mudhoney.
Currently, there are only a small number of Blues Houses in select American cities, but Rapino's future plans are to aggressively force the Blues into every nook and cranny of the world. Live Nation's aim is to open its arms wide enough to encompass a rainbow monopoly over both stadium-size venues and alcohol-caked alleyways. Questions about antitrust issues come to mind, but these concerns are failing to make Rapino tremble: "We think there are still lots of opportunities for bands and the consumers to see bands in venues everywhere." Well. If his dizzyingly nuanced way with words is any indication of this merger's future, we all have a lot to look forward to next time we go to a show. Like, for example, guitar solos sponsored by Applebee's.
All these bands — well, at least The Killers and The Hold Steady — lately — well, more like the last 20 years, but whatever — seem to — these asides aren't bothering you, are they? — be becoming more musically enamored and influenced with the Garden State's most famous gift to the world (if you said The Shins or Braff, you are sad), Bruce Springsteen. But, it is easy to forget that The Constantines have a couple years on all these Brucey-come-latelys. In this fast-paced, rat-race world, where a day seems like a year, a year probably seems like at least a couple years, maybe even three, it may seem like longer, but it was about one year ago that those Canadian-uniters of punk, rock and Bruce put out their latest LP, Tournament of Hearts, on Sub Pop rock city.
Now you can relive those heady days by attending a show during a short tour by those scruffy and loveable brothers in arms, who formed the band back in Guelph, Ontario in 1999. Why so much talk of Canada? Surely not because it has been hyped-to-death as a country with an astonishing amount of amazing bands. Incidentally, Canada, I think Sweden is nipping at your heels, so watch your back and cover your ass. Canada, while it is old news in the independent rock world, is important to all this talk of The Constantines, mostly because their upcoming shows are almost all taking place in Canuck country. So grab your passport, prepare to be hassled by overzealous border security, and (legally) get super drunk — you crazy 19-year-old — while checking out the boys who have brought the Boss back into relevance (something he can't seem to do himself). Fellow Springsteen acolytes The Hold Steady, as well as the band with possibly the most ironic band name ever, The Tragically Hip, and the general good band The Creeping Nobodies will be playing alongside The Constantines during what essentially amounts to three different jaunts:
11.21.06 - Philadelphia, PA - The North Bar *
11.22.06 - Brooklyn, NY - Warsaw *
11.29.06 - Waterloo, ON - Starlight Social Club #
11.30.06 - London, ON - Call the Office #
12.01.06 - Toronto, ON - Lees Palace #
12.02.06 - Toronto, ON - Lees Palace (matinee - CARE Canada benefit) @
12.02.06 - Hamilton, ON - The Underground (evening show) #
12.08.06 - Sudbury, ON - Townehouse Tavern ^
12.09.06 - Brantford, ON - Ford Plant ^
01.29.07 - Peterborough, ON - Peterborough Memorial Centre $
01.31.07 - Oshawa, ON - General Motors Centre $
02.02.07 - Ottawa, ON - Scotiabank Place $
* w/ The Hold Steady
# w/ Lullabye Arkestra
@ w/ Jason Collet
^ w/ The Creeping Nobodies
$ w/ The Tragically Hip
Caroliner Celebrate 23rd Birthday with Huge Exhibit and Live Performance; Michael Jordan Conspicuously Absent, and Jordan Made All of the Other Birthdays
I asked a friend of mine why he decided to steal a kayak and paddle to a lighthouse while on LSD. He told me he saw a spaceman while running up a hill in an attempt to dodge the policemen who raided a hotel crack party. The spaceman told him to walk to the beach, which is two miles from the hill, and make his way to Faulkner’s Island. While at the beach, he met the other three people who took acid with him that night. Apparently, they received the same message. The story left me with one of those WTF looks on my face. It was one of the most bizarre things I ever heard.
Shortly thereafter, I discovered the music of Caroliner, a deranged band of miscreants from the Bay Area in California, who claimed to play covers of songs originally sung by a magical singing bull in 1833. (I'm not making this up). The bull's owner killed and ate it. As a tribute to the magical singing bull, the band adorns themselves in flamboyant day-glo costumes (think Green Jelly meets the Merry Pranksters by way of Nautical Almanac and crust punks) and play wildly noisy, dissonant folk music. Their record sleeves are handmade and each packaged with a set of hand-typed lyrics. The sound quality on each record brings to mind 78 rpm blues and folk records, only accentuated with fuzzy montages, high-pitched vocals, and Henry Flynt-like Fluxus guitar lines. None other than Alex Ross called them "some lost American Baroque, retrieved at rummage sales" in a 1993 article from The New York Times.
On December 13, PLAySPACE in San Francisco, a division of California College of the Arts, celebrates 23 years of these American underworld icons with an extensive exhibit. The exhibit features a collection of Caroliner's costumes, props, instruments, records, and flyers from concerts. A live concert from the legends themselves at California College of the Arts Graduate Center in San Francisco will mark the closing ceremony on January 13.
23 Years of Caroliner is curated by Sarrita Hunn, Marcella Faustini, and Museum of Viral Memory. It runs December 13, 2006 through January 19th, 2007 at PLAySPACE California College of the Arts, 1111 8th Street (at 16th and Wisconsin), San Francisco. Regular gallery hours are Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 12-3 PM or by appointment.
The closing reception will be held on Saturday, January 13 from 6-8 PM, with a live performance by Caroliner at 8 PM. It's their first live performance in a year-and-a-half. Don't drink the milk, kiddies.
Far fucking out.
You remember The Decemberists, right? We just don't seem to give them enough attention around here. I mean, we give their records consistently low scores, we hardly ever report their tours on time, and we basically just think they're on the cusp of writing a Coke jingle. Doubtless they'll go downhill from here, now that we've made this statement of discontent with their progress.
Hot on the heels of their first album released on a major, The Crane Wife [TMT Review] — which barely registered on the TMT radar — The Decemberists have announced their latest scheme to garner publicity. They've decided to auction themselves off to hopeful fans in a sordid series of so-called "romantic encounters." Bizarrely, for a band comprising only five members, they intend to run 2007 dates on consecutive nights. I've never been on that many in my life! If you do the math, that's just over 400 dates for each band member. Colin Meloy is going to be sore at the end of this, no question about that.
What this means for the Decemberists' tour plans as yet remains unknown, but if you would like a chance at getting to know Jenny Conlee a little bit better, maybe lasciviously watching her play the keyboard lick from "The Island: Come and See/The Landlord’s Daughter/You’ll Not Feel the Drowning," then you might want to turn up at the following venues:
02.02.07 - Sheffield, England - Leadmill
02.03.07 - Dublin, Ireland - Village
02.04.07 - Glasgow, Scotland - ABC
02.05.07 - Manchester, England - Academy 2
02.07.07 - Nottingham, England - Trent University
02.08.07 - London, England - Shepherds Bush Empire
02.09.07 - Southampton, England - University
02.10.07 - Brussels, Belgium - Botanique
02.12.07 - Cologne, Germany - Prime Club
02.13.07 - Hamburg, Germany - Knust
02.14.07 - Berlin, Germany - Postbahnhof
02.16.07 - Fribourg, Switzerland - Fri-son
02.17.07 - Bologna, Italy - Estragon
02.18.07 - Munich, Germany - Ampere
02.19.07 - Vienna, Austria - Flex Club
02.21.07 - Amsterdam, the Netherlands
02.22.07 - Paris, France - La Maroquinerie
Oh, and don't forget: The Decemberists have released a digital-only EP, EXCLUSIVE to Sony. WOW! Here are some songs: "O! Valencia," "The Perfect Crime #2," "The Crane Wife 1 & 2," and a cover of "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)." Double wow!