I'm guessing that I'm not the only music writer in the world to be unsurprised that some indie labels are planning on removing their catalogs from online retailer eMusic. For those who are unaware of eMusic's service, the company offers a subscription download service of DRM-free MP3 files. Given the rates that eMusic offers (its cheapest package gives you 30 tracks a month for a mere $9.99 -- that's 0.33 per track, for the non-accountants in the room), it's no wonder that there is a bit of discomfort in the air.
Now that there are services such as iTunes, who are beginning to offer the same caliber of DRM-free MP3 files for a much more substantial $1.29 per track, why would an indie label have any interest in offering their precious catalogs to a service that divvies out much smaller royalties? According to a recent Billboard report, some labels receive as low as 12 cents per track from eMusic, while that same song would receive over 60 cents from an iTunes purchase (that's a 400% difference, according to unofficial TMT accountant "Joe").
But while the obvious conclusion to draw about this recent news would be strictly related to the financial aspects, there is more to the picture than you may realize. Some label representatives are concerned that eMusic is attempting to lure in indie labels to expand their subscriber base in order to make their company more appealing as a business acquisition (though eMusic CEO David Pakman claimed that this was not the case last month).
Pakman also claimed at the same press conference that the average eMusic customer only uses 20 of their allotted 30 tracks per month -- that's 66% of $9.99, which means that these dumb average white men are actually driving up the cost-per-song to 49 cents themselves.
Victory Records made a bit of press when they pulled their catalog from eMusic's site in early April. According to the same Billboard report, there are at least six different labels who are considering withdrawal from the site, be it leaving only their back-catalogs available or removing their label's entire catalog altogether. Unfortunately, as is the case with many of these ridiculous reports, the names of these labels is a mystery to the general public.
So for now, I'm sure there will continue to be a couple thousand people a day buying Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven double album on eMusic for $1.32. After all, we're not music fans, we're fucking garage sale bargain junkies! Let the proverbial legal download garage sale continue, folks. Now onto that $0.33 Bang On A Can album...
Royalties? What royalties?
Every summer, millions of people get their pathos on when they take a weekend to care about a sponsored cause while they run for an extended period of time. Marathons that don't involve scooting around wearing "meat shorts" and a numbered bib stapled to your chest are less common. Back in the days of the flapper, people got their jollies by pole-sitting for days on end, but short of David Blaine, no one seems to be playing the super-fun "Let's sit still for days on a platform or pole!" game anymore. Dance marathons still happen, but they are scarce compared to the "fabulous fifties," when every Potsie, Ralph Malph or Leather Tuscadero dragged their ass to Arnold's to watch Fonzie help little Joanie C. win the respect of her pre-teen peers and perhaps a coveted cupie doll or $5 prize by remaining on the floor the longest.
Okay, there is your history lesson from Gramps Nadelle. The Bang on a Can Marathon sounds like a much more enjoyable way to spend 26 hours. Taking place from 8 P.M., Saturday, June 2 to 10 P.M. on Sunday, June 3 at the World Financial Center Winter Garden in New York, the Marathon features composers, performers and filmmakers from all over, and it is all free! The Bang on a Can organization was formed in 1987 by Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe in a concerted effort to present and garner attention for "contemporary" music in the very best sense of the word. Did we mention that the Marathon is free?! Below are lists of those participating this year, including bigger names of Eno, Moore, Reich, and the just-added La Tengo. The only question remaining to ponder is how the festival managed to get Yo La Tengo to play? I mean, they NEVER play live!
Composers: John Luther Adams, Louis Andriessen, Christopher Adler, Derek Bermel, Don Byron, Mary Ellen Childs, Mark Dancigers, Franco Donatoni, Brian Eno, John Fitz Rogers, Michael Gordon, Judd Greenstein, John King, Phil Kline, David Lang, Alvin Lucier, Missy Mazzoli, Thurston Moore, Steve Reich, James Tenney, Matt Tierney, J.G. Thirlwell, Galina Ustvolskaya, Edgar Varese, Lois V. Vierk, Julia Wolfe, Marcelo Zarvos, Evan Ziporan.
Performers: Bang on a Can All-Stars, Iva Bittova, Robert Black, The Books, Clogs, Dälek, David Cossin, Eighth Blackbird, Ethel, Dominic Frasca, Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, Michael Harrison, The Hartt Bass Band, The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Vijay Iyer, Kyaw Kyaw Naing, Manorexia, Mashrig, The Meehan/Perkins Duo, Juana Molina, Patti Monson, NOW Ensemble, Odd Appetite, Milind Raikar, Real Quiet, red fish blue fish, Steven Schick, Mark Stewart, Mike Svoboda, TACTUS, The Talujon Percussion Group, The World Saxophone Quartet, Yo La Tengo, Young People's Chorus of New York City.
Filmmakers: Bill Morrison, Matt Mullican.
As you may have gathered from Judy Ain't No Punk's recent review of the Dismemberment Plan reunion, there was indeed TMT representation at the Saturday night set at the Black Cat. What you don't know is that I was there too, but instead of being a responsible and respectful journalist/concert reviewer, I was three pints to the wind and blissfully, exuberantly crushed in a crowd of kids at Travis Morrison's feet.
What you also may not know is that my iPod car adapter recently died a spiteful death, perhaps in protest to Public Enemy's "Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man" being played on a loop a few too many times. Either way, Judy and I were reduced to mix CDs, and since we both neglected to create "TMT Does DC or Bust!" mixes, we listened to a range of scratched mixes circa 1998-2002. One mix of Judy's kicked off with The Faint. Two songs later, we again listened to The Faint. The disc proceeded to end with The Faint. "Um, I guess I really liked them," Judy said.
What's also important to note is that Judy liked The Faint in high school. I was slow on the uptake and danced with skinny hipster boys in tight pants to "Glass Danse" during my sophomore year of college. Moral of the story: if you attend this upcoming tour, you're probably not as, uh, cool as either of us are now. But hey, it's okay. We (er, maybe just I) got really excited/nervous to blast "Fuck Tha Police" in Brooklyn. Bad. Ass.
"Call Call" is a pretty excellent song, regardless:
05.21.07 - Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theater
05.22.07 - Chicago, IL - Metro
05.23.07 - Toronto, ON - Opera House
05.24.07 - Buffalo, NY - Town Ballroom
05.26.07 - Boston, MA - Avalon
05.27.07 - New York, NY - Motherfucker @ Webster
05.28.07 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
05.30.07 - Norfolk, VA - Norva
05.31.07 - Asheville, NC - Orange Peel
06.01.07 - Knoxville, TN - Blue Cat's
06.02.07 - Columbia, MO - Blue Note
06.03.07 - Tulsa, OK - Cain's Ballroom
06.04.07 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theatre
06.05.07 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theatre
06.06.07 - Salt Lake City, UT - In the Venue
06.07.07 - Las Vegas, NV - House Of Blues
06.08.07 - San Diego, CA - SOMA
06.09.07 - Mountain View, CA - Live 105 BFD 2007 @ Shoreline Amphitheatre
06.11.07 - Boise, ID - Big Easy
06.14.07 - Omaha, NE - Sokol Auditorium
Judge: “Next on the docket… Will Oldham, Devendra Banhart, Superchunk, Jim O’Rourke, and the rest of you here are up on the charges of having questionable consciences and listening habits. How do you plead?” All: “Guilt by Association, yer honor!”
Ah, guilty pleasures. We all have them. Mine, you ask? Well, it is a bit of a secret, but I'll tell you, because you are my trusted virtual friends who would never ostracize me and who will certainly never e-mail me and tell me yours in return (hint, hint). Most nights I tend to cook up a quick Thai fusion dish for dinner then settle down with a good read (a Candace Bushnell or maybe a Helen Fielding), slip into the tub, pour in some lavender bubble bath, light a sandalwood candle, crank the Yanni to at least 6 and just soak, baby, soak!
Pffft! I "write" for Tiny Mix Tapes! Firstly, I can't read. Secondly, I wouldn't recognize Yanni if I ran him over repeatedly with my car. And thirdly, the only fragrances I smell after a long day cruising the highway ditches and downtown garbage bins for bottles and cans are Molson and dirty ashtray. Just a small spritz under your arms and behind your ears and you've got an irresistible mélange that screams "sophisticated and savvy!" Girls, before you say the words "Hmmm, I have got to get me some of that stanky sexy beast!" I have to tell you that I am fully committed to TMT. I'm sorry, but she is my mistress and I will never stray.
Guilty pleasures, musically speaking, are what we should be talking about here. In the UK, the whole thing is much more of a phenomenon, with the music industry's leading lights moonlighting as guest DJs at clubs and hosting radio shows, showcasing their slightly embarrassing but secretly loved songs of yesteryear. It is only natural that someone would ask artists to reinterpret a guilty pleasure of their own and collect them for a compilation. The coaxed-out confessions of some of our fave artists have been recorded and will be available for all the world to hear and snicker at on August 7 when Guilt by Association is released on Engine Room Recordings.
Normally, Devendra Banhart is up for anything, so it is not surprising that he appears on this compilation, covering the Gallagher brothers' "Don't Look Back in Anger." Luna takes on cheerleader-turned-medicated "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul's finest moment, "Straight Up" (other will say "Cold Hearted" is THE Abdul song to cover, but I'm agreeing with Dean Wareham and co. on this one), Jim O'Rourke releasing his inner Spice Girl (Old Spice?) with "Viva Forever," and thankfully both Fall Out Boy and System Of A Down are represented with covers here, because without the attention, they just might disappear forever, and that would be a damn shame! Banhart's Oasis cover, Petra Haden's a cappella version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," and Will Oldham's interpretation of Mariah Carey's "Can't Take That Away" are available for your listening pleasure at this MySpace link and on the Engine Room Recordings website, which is handy for burgeoning videographers because you could win a chance to create a video for one of those songs. Click here for details and deadlines.
Of course one person's guilty pleasure is another person's reason for living. So ironic or not, don't be pretending that Eddie Money's "Two Tickets to Paradise" is just another hilarious song you decided to cover for a laugh, Geoff Farina! Money is not funny! Money is money! And speaking of money, or words that are similar to money, no one wanted to attempt Mony Mony? Now that is funny.
1. Petra Haden - "Don't Stop Believing" (Journey)
2. Devendra Banhart - Don't Look Back in Anger" (Oasis)
3. Mark Mulcahy - "From This Moment On" (Shania Twain)
4. Luna - "Straight Up" (Paula Abdul)
5. The Concretes - "Back For Good"
6. Jim O'Rourke - "Viva Forever" (Spice Girls)
7. Goat - "Sugar We're Going Down" (Fall Out Boy)
8. Will Oldham - Can't Take That Away" (Mariah Carey)
9. Woody Jackson Orchestra featuring Money Mark - "Love's Theme" (Love Unlimited Orchestra)
10. Porter Block - "Breaking Free" (High School Musical)
11. The Mooney Suzuki - "Just Like Jesse James (Cher)
12. Geoff Farina - "Two Tickets to Paradise" (Eddie Money)
13. Casey Shea - "Chop Suey" (System of a Down)
14. Superchunk - "Say My Name" (Destiny's Child)
15. Mike Watt - "Burning For You" (Blue Oyster Cult)
If you asked any random guy on the street what the word Trojan meant to them, it’s a sad fact that, more likely than not, the first thing that would alight in his enfeebled mind would be an image of him amateurishly jamming something onto his unspeakable parts prior to engaging in, as Johnny Rotten put it, “2 minutes and fifty-two seconds of squelching noises.”
However, there are those select few -- amongst whose numbers I am sure I can count you, dear reader -- to which the word has an infinitely more dignified and noble musical correlation, which of course would be what would leap into our pristine and beautiful minds: Trojan Records! Only, like, just about the most ace record label that ever existed and probably ever will!
Set up by Chris Blackwell in the late ‘60s, the label existed to spread the formerly hidden sounds of Jamaica out to the enlightened masses (and to plenty of skinheads as well). Lee Perry, Desmond Dekker, Bob Marley, U-Roy, and Prince Far I are just a few of the geniuses of the form that have appeared at one time or another on the label. And without these dudes, there’d probably be no hip-hop , no drum and bass, no dubstep, no grime, and consequently, no fun to be had at all, anywhere, ever.
Taking that into account, it’s only fair that we at least pay cursory attention to the fact that this year is Trojan’s 40th birthday. And they want us to celebrate with them, not through the traditional method of getting wasted, shouting at people and pissing in the corner of their basement, but through the entirely more urbane medium of buying compilation CDs they’ve recently put out or are releasing in the near future.
Radiohead nerdlings will already be aware of Jonny Greenwood Is the Controller (TMT Review), which was released a few months back. They’re looking to further arouse the student stoner market with the upcoming release of Furry Selection, Luxury Cuts Of Trojan Chosen By A Super Furry Animal, the Animal in question being bassist Guto Pryce. The Orb are also doing a double mix CD later in the summer, which’ll include new Mad Professor material.
You’ll even be able to pick up a special compilation from a certain monoculture-craving coffee chain in August. There are no release dates available for any of these albums, but maybe for the coffee compilation you’d like to ask your barista precisely when the record is out. I’m sure they’d be happy to help.
More interestingly, the undisputed maniac Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry himself is pulling together a compilation culled from the like sixty-thousand billion tracks he’s been involved with. Personally, I hope he includes "Check Him Out" by The Bleechers, an early Upsetter B-side which (as well as being a rad tune) was also a blatant advertisement for Scratch’s recently opened record shop in Kingston -- going as far as including detailed directions -- “If you want to know the spot/ Just take a walk down Orange Street/ Turn Charles Street/ Then look for the Upsetter shop/ Where music’s sweet”. Such shameless selp promotion, but at least we can be grateful the directions weren’t to his local Starbucks.
Hey male reader: I know your type. Let’s see, she’s got dark, chestnut hair that you play with while singing her Neutral Milk Hotel. Thick-framed glasses trap her pensive eyes, and she is always wearing some crazy outfit: suspenders with a plaid skirt or some colonial button-up. She is the typical indie girl, and she is your kryptonite. How many of these have you dated? Well, probably not many because you’re the typical indie boy, and when you fall for a girl, you fall hard. But, regardless, your eyes are always on the lookout for that one in Mary Janes carrying some original pressing of the Velvet Underground.
That’s fine, but get ready for this. There is going to be a Madonna tribute CD, titled Through the Wilderness: a tribute to Madonna. Some of the bands? Indie rawkers! Well, I don’t know if they’re categorized as indie, but you know, left-of-the-dial. To name a few, Devandra Banhart, Ariel Pink, and Giant Drag.
You are probably wondering what the parallel between my first paragraph and the second one is. Well, if our good friends from the indie world can crossover and cover Madonna, shouldn’t you be able to broaden your horizons and date that chick who's always wearing Greek letters on her sweater? Purchase this Madonna tribute and stand your ground. Deny the Annie Hardy wannabe and go straight for the next Ugg-wearing, blonde fun-having, fake tan-sporting Ashley to walk by you on the way to your vegan lunch. Wait, why stop with girls? Take a break from veganism. Go to your local sports bar and wash down a medium-rare steak with some beer and yell derogatory things at the cheerleaders on the big screen. Put away your Ray Ban wayfarers and strap on some damn Oakleys! If you are ever in doubt of this new lifestyle, just think, “What would Banhart do?”
1. Giant Drag - "Oh Father"
2. Bat for Lashes with Moon and Moon - "Justify My Love"
3. Lavender Diamond - "Like a Prayer"
4. The Tyde - "Hung Up"
5. Ariel Pink - "Like a Virgin"
6. VietNam - "Human Nature"
7. Mountain Party with Devendra Banhart - "Material Girl"
8. The Bubonic Plague - "Who's That Girl"
9. Siddhartha - "Holiday"
10. The Chapin Sisters - "Borderline"
11. Winter Flowers - "Live to Tell"
12. The Pangaeans - "Impressive Instant"
13. Alexandra Hope - "Lucky Star"
14. Jonathan Wilson - "La Isla Bonita"
15. Lion of Panjshir - "Crazy for You"
16. The Prayers - "Cherish"
17. Women and Children - "Burning Up"
18. Golden Animals - "Beautiful Stranger"
Alfred Charles Sharpton, Jr. Leads Music Decency March Today; Essentially Taking People On Tour To Major Labels And Of New York City
When I woke up this morning, walked into the TMT offices, greeted my fellow writers, and grabbed my daily coffee (decaf with two cream packets), I found an interesting packet on my desk. I screamed, "Holy shit! This is big, this is real big!" I booted up my computer as quickly as possible, opened up Firefox, exited out of all my usual porn and flash game tabs, and began to type this story. What I found on my desk was Al Sharpton's Decency March itinerary. The following is pulled directly from the itinerary:
"THE NEW YORK CITY MAY 4 MUSIC DECENCY MARCH LED BY THE HONORABLE REV. AL SHARPTON. PRESENTED BY THE NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK.
THE FOLLOWING IS A MESSAGE DIRECTLY FROM THE HONORABLE REV. AL SHARPTON HIMSELF:
"Good morning fellow Americans. Today we are going to march. We are going to march, for justice, march for peace, march for an end to racism, march for an end to sexism, and to march for the end of rap music as we know it. Yes, today we shall walk miles in an attempt to destroy rap music. The following is today's schedule, and please refer to me as The Honorable Rev. Al Sharpton from now on. I've got an image to maintain, people. Also, be sure to donate to the Alfred Fund if you want to engage in more marches. Thank you and have fun! Not too much fun, mind you; too much fun may prompt you to engage in racist or sexist behavior. Enjoy."
5:00 p.m. CHECK IN
The march will begin at Sony Music on 55th St. and Madison Ave. To check in please fill out the applications. Be sure to fill in the blanks regarding your sex, race, and your sexuality. Thank you.
5:25 p.m. LIGHTING OF JAMES BROWN'S BIRTHDAY CANDLES ON A SHEET CAKE
Be sure not to miss this monumental occasion as The Honorable Rev. Al Sharpton gets to grace his breath upon the candles of a birthday cake dedicated to the late and great James Brown.
5:29 p.m. CELEBRATORY BIRTHDAY SONG DEDICATED TO JAMES BROWN
The Honorable Rev. Al Sharpton, in light of copyright issues, has written his own birthday song for James Brown. See page five of this packet for the lyrics. Everyone is invited to sing. Do not, however, sing louder than The Honorable Rev. Al Sharpton.
5:30 p.m. THE MARCH BEGINS
We will begin by shouting various chants (see page six for required chants) and holding up signs (see page six as well) up at the tinted windows of Sony Music.
6:00 p.m. MARCH ON WARNER MUSIC GROUP BUILDING
After leaving Sony Music, we will arrive at 75 Rockefeller Plaza to shout, hold signs, and march and march some more. This building is the Warner Music Group building; it was established to proliferate racism and sexism and has been behind every sex and race scandal since the '40s.
6:30-7:00 p.m. MARCH ON UNIVERSAL MUSIC AND TIME WARNER
We well arrive at 49th St. and 8th Ave. at exactly 6:30 PM. This atrocious spire of hate is the Universal Music building. We must target this evil more than the other buildings, so please refer to page eight for harsher chants. We will then march on to the Time Warner Building on 58th St. and Broadway. By this point, you should already feel that we have made a major impact and a huge dent into the racist and sexist lyrics these labels promote.
7:30 p.m. FINAL STOP AND RALLY LOCATION AT COLUMBUS CIRCLE
The Honorable Rev. Al Sharpton will now give a speech about the power and health benefits of marching. Here you can converse with your fellow marchers, get The Honorable Rev. Al Sharpton's autograph, and pick up your complimentary boxed lunch.
--March of Music Decency Staff
All I can say is that I hope Alfred wins this oppressive battle against rap lyrics. In fact, those lyrics are probably the source of starvation and poverty as well. Al just has to find the connections.
On March 3, Scottish voters went to the poles and gave the proverbial middle finger to their colonial masters in London. With 95 of 127 seats reporting, The Scottish National Party looks poised to take control of the region's legislature, and in doing so, will set the groundwork for the secession of the nation from British rule, more than 50 years after the collapse of the empire upon which the sun never sets. In anticipation of the eventual separation of the nation from those wankers in England, SNP party leader Alex Salmond has appointed James Graham Foreign Affair cabinet minister and has commissioned his band The Twilight Sad to engage in a diplomatic tour to promote increased ties with France and to smooth over the contentious relationship between the soon-to-be-independent Scottish nation and England.
It is expected that the band will be greeted as liberators in Glasgow and as proponents of freedom in France; however, just how exactly the group will be received in England is unknown. With the English music community notoriously divided, there are fears that the presence of FatCat's droan popers will reunite sectarian violence in Brighton that has remained stable since its last explosion in 1973 during the battle of Quadrophenia. Despite the band's claims to be non-violent diplomats, leaked MI6 memos insinuate that their intentions may be more dubious than previously suspected. In recently declassified documents, it appears the Twilight Sad Liberation Army (TSLA) had previously been labeled by the Scotland Yard as a criminal organization whose anti-colonial activities have ties to international terrorism.
Gillo Pontecorvo has been commissioned to produce the bands upcoming DVD, with the tentative title, The Battle of Alba.
When reached for comments about their potential ties to the Scottish Separatist movement and anti-colonial terrorism, The Twilight Sad said I was full of shite.
You can protest in support or hatred of freedom and The Twilight Sad's LP Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters at these locations. Green zones will be in effect:
05.05.2007 - Glasgow, Scotland - Classic Grand with My Latest Novel
05.07.2007 - Paris, France - Fleche D'or
05.09.2007 - London, England - Luminaire with Cougar
05.10.2007 - London, England - Club Fandango
05.11.2007 - London, England - Windmill with Lord Barringtone
05.13.2007 - Glasgow, Scotland - Classic Grand
05.19.2007 - Brighton, England - Ocean Rooms with Rabbits/Rank Deluxe
05.20.2007 - Glasgow, Scotland - Mono (instore)
In a partnership with Universal Music Group, Amazon appears to be the next company trying to challenge Apple’s glossy, steely grip on digital music sales. Amazon has declined to comment directly, but sources claim that Universal, the largest record label in existence, has handed Amazon DRM-free versions of much of its classical music back catalogue.
With Apple’s only announced DRM-free ally being the comparatively puny EMI, this could become the largest blow to its industry dominance since the American Idol music store went DRM-free.
With the industry power of Universal and EMI coming out in support of unlocked MP3 files, the pressure is on for smaller major labels to follow suit and provide simple, DRM-free downloads that won’t confuse our parents. Both Apple and Amazon are reportedly in contract negotiations with labels of all sizes that are expected to continue through the summer, so it certainly appears that, in spite of what many labels are saying publicly, the DRM-free game is being played for keeps.
A source claimed earlier this week, though, that the assumptions being made about the Universal/Amazon partnership are “way off the mark.” There’s still a fighting chance, then, that this story will make me look like a fool in a few months.
Pete Doherty Back in Rehab!