Report: Big Labels are Fux0rd. In Other News, My Body Requires Oxygen.

You've seen them on message boards, forums, blogs, IRC, and fucking MySpace, but a semi-respectable tech site interview is an unlikely place for an anti-DRM advocate. We've all read about the filthy hippies running Defective By Design, but those nerds didn't have anything to do with Pink Floyd or The Rolling Stones. Nor do they have a clear idea of what they're doing. So when The Register runs a Peter Jenner claiming that the major four music labels are "fucked," a few more people listen. That's good.

One of the primary reasons we're not seeing anything done about DRM is nobody knows about it. I mean yeah, you're here, but your mom and pa aren't coming by the site later to read about why DRM sucks my ass (although passing along the link is not discouraged). The Register isn't exactly Reader's Digest, but hopefully this opens a few more eyes to the dangers of this kind of control. There is no other industry I can think of that demands the consumer to give up so much freedom over the product. Can you imagine the outrage if every new couch was built to spontaneously combust if the company who built it went out of business? Or worse yet, what if Sony brand condoms infected the wearer with the bubonic plague just for a laugh. There would be riots.

Jenner speaks for those with a brain when he claims digital music pricing has been a scam where the consumer pays for manufacturing and distribution, when neither of those are done anymore. Ten years ago a 'single' required physical material and distribution by vehicle to get it to you. Now it's technically possible to finish the song in the studio and upload it to a server across the planet, without ever having to create packaging or pay for shipping. And you still pay one dollar a song. And the artist still only gets between 8 and 14 cents of that dollar, depending on their status with the label. If you're trying to support an up-and-coming act, you're currently better off burning a DRM-free copy of the album and mailing the artist a dollar. You're cutting out the greedy ass middle-man, and you don't have to worry about the CD infecting your computer with a virus.

The remainder of Jenner's interview is spent discussing his blanket-licensing model for countries to adopt, and it's a pretty sound idea. It's similar to the system we have here in Canada where we pay levies on blank media, but with Jenner's model there's no product involved, and everyone just pays a small monthly fee. This money is pooled and distributed according to artist market share, which will be tricky to figure out. The plan involves a lot less money for the labels, which partly backs his prediction of their doomed future. Another aspect of the plan (which I love) is to bring the musicians closer to the fans. By offering multiple recordings of hit songs, live cuts, and behind-the-scenes concert footage to fans, artists can tap those who would pay for such items. Everyone knows one person who owns everything The Radio-Head have ever sold, and this plan opens that level of fandom to all artists. I just hope it's not too late for K-Fed.

“You Wanted the Best …You Got the KISS DVD Instead!”

As a rule, I generally try to not get too blog-like on your asses, but some scenes have to be set using the simplest, most conversational tone. When I was six years old, I pestered my parents to send away an enrollment form and a little bit of cash to pay for my membership in the KISS Army. Although I started listening to music from an early age, KISS was the first band I held dear to my thin chest and ribcage and regarded as "my band." For my part, I received many treasures from this inclusive club — newsletters, badges, photos, and the like. However, the most important prize was an iron-on decal that came to the mailbox one day. I immediately got my mom to affix it to a shirt and consequently wore the thing out.

Do you want a less heartfelt and much sadder story? Before I was lucky enough to have that homemade t-shirt, I actually went and had another one made at the local flea market, "Shirt Stop." It was pumpkin orange with dark blue fuzzy-felt letters that simply stated "I LIKE KISS." Can you imagine? Well, you don't have to because the photo is to your left. Good grief man, if I had any credibility before (not likely), this posed picture of yours truly, bowl-cut intact, grinning like a jackass, proudly displaying said stupid t-shirt while perched on my Dad's knee, sure as hell seals the deal!

As embarrassed as I am of this, I've never been shy about confessing my allegiance to early-period KISS. I have had no problems mostly avoiding the band's past 25 years — including many awful group and four simultaneously-released solo efforts, the movie KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (which rules, actually), "unmasking", endless reunion tours, current reality show madness, co-writing songs with Michael Bolton, his and hers fragrance lines, the KISS Coffeehouse, and the boning of 20,000+ groupies — but still love the vintage, raw nuggets contained on those first few albums by New York's finest. Make no mistake, I know that KISS are all about the sell and very little about the music, but that's no reason not to be pumped about the release of KISSology Volume One: 1974-1977 this past Halloween (when else?). Needless to say, this DVD is going to be awesome when I get my hands on it. The two-disc set (three-discs in limited quantities and certain locations) covers the band's nascent years and apparently features the stuff that all good music DVDs should: loads of archival television appearances, four full concerts (San Francisco '75, Detroit '76, Tokyo '76, and Houston '77), interviews, and rare, unreleased footage including, among other things, a performance by the band at Ace Frehley's wedding in 1976. Bring on the bliss!

So, friends, have pity on the cherubic lame-ass in the photo, and trust me on this one. When it comes to KISS, you can take my words to the bank.

Apple Fall From Tree, “Just Push Play” Says Sir Issac Newton, Aerosmith mp3 Song Title

Hey, what are those things that everyone is carrying around on the train? I heard someone call it an "iPod," is that right? Apparently they're popular. I thought those white things were just fancy candy bars! Sweet, delicious candy bars wrapped in a 21st century tech-savvy wrapper with a new chocolate delivery system that pumps it right into the ear canal. Boy was I wrong!

Now, I'm not a total dummy. I thought something was off in my analysis of the device. But, I thought, c'est la vie! People want chocolate in their ears, let 'em have it! They wanted it in their mouths all these years, those holes and tubes all go down somehow, who was I to judge? Eventually I realized that, hey, maybe this isn't candy, and, hey, where can I get one?

Apparently you can get them everywhere. 8,729,000 iPods were shipped in the fourth quarter alone! The ubiquitous little devices are selling like the poor man's pancakes (hot cakes). 39 million were bought over the whole year. That's a lot of hot cakes! So I thought, "Okay, iPod, I'll bite." And I did. Hard. Chipped a tooth and ruined the device.

Round two. I bought another one. 180 GB. GB must stand for Great Buy because boy was it ever! And Salesman Ted was real nice. Even though the unknown company that makes the iPod made a profit of $546 million in the fourth quarter of our fiscal year, they don't act like it. Sure, $10 billion in annual profits could go to a guy's head, but not Salesman Ted's! Once I got it, I started fiddling around with the thing... it's a DAT player! I love DAT tapes. So I tried to put one in, but there was no hole. Not even a slot. The thing was defective. So, DAT-less, I returned it.

Needless to say, I was pretty upset. All that time, money, and energy wasted, and I wanted answers. So I looked up who makes the player. Turns out it's made by some company that sells apples! No wonder it didn't work! You can't stick a DAT in an apple, how can they expect us to put one in these pods? I guess everyone is just too embarrassed to return theirs, but not me. They even sold 5.3 million Macintosh "computers" (new breed of apple) this quarter. They sure do love those apples. And for the record, it's a bushel, not a pod. What a company!

If You Want to Impress Your Girlfriend, Get Her This P.J. Harvey Release

P.J. Harvey has released a B-sides compilation album called The Peel Sessions. These are recordings from broadcaster John Peel's BBC radio show dating from 1991 to 2004. The album serves as a tribute to the late legendary John Peel, who some people might compare to Rodney Bingenheimer, except more English and less flamboyant. John Peel introduced many underground bands such as The Smiths, The Fall, and New Order into the mainstream. He also served as navigator to the now-deceased pirate radio station, Radio London. John Peel made quite an impact on PJ Harvey's life as a friend and mentor; "Throughout my time of knowing him we kept in touch and sent postcards. Whenever I demo'd a new record I'd send it to him. I always wanted to know his opinion on things because I think he had really great taste." The Peel Sessions was recently released on the second-year anniversary of his death, October 25. He died in Cuzco, Peru alongside his wife. What a way to go.

In other news, P.J. Harvey has begun working with Flood and John Parish to create her new album a la manage a troi; no, that's not what it's called, but it would be interesting. The album will be more piano-based, and hopefully P.J. Harvey will roll around on top of it pulling her hair out. Release date for this album is not available.

The full tracklisting is for The Peel Sessions:

Peel 29.10.91

1. Oh My Lover
2. Victory
3. Sheela-Na-Gig
4. Water
Peel 2.3.93
5. Naked Cousin
6. Wang Dang Doodle
Peel 5.9.96
7. Losing Ground
8. Snake
9. That Was My Veil
Peel 10.11.00
10. This Wicked Tongue
11. Beautiful Feeling
John Peel Tribute 16.12.04
12. You Come Through

eMusic Gives You Less! (But Still More Than iTunes); Artists Still Screwed, of Course

It seems that all good things must either pass or worsen over time. eMusic, one of the world's better digital music retailers, has announced that they are reducing the amount of downloads you get with your monthly subscription.

Starting next month (just in time for Christmas!), eMusic will be offering MP3 downloads to their new subscribers at $0.33 or less per track, depending on which subscription the user chooses. Prior to the price increase, the same tracks would have cost $0.25 or less. The Basic package used to offer 40 tracks, and is being cut to 30, while the Plus and Premium packages are both being cut by 15 tracks per month.

Current eMusic subscribers, as well as those who sign up in the next few weeks, will continue paying the old rate.

Now, call me a picky consumer if you'd like, or even an anal accountant, but a 32% price increase seems a bit much. It's not like we're talking about copper commodities; these are less-than CD-quality digital files, with no inherit value other than sheer convenience and/or affordability (after all, you can't beat buying a copy of Yanqui U.X.O. for $1.00, can you?).

That said, with all the other greedy, DRM-happy music services such as iTunes, eMusic is still one of the best services out there for finding new independent talent. Let's face it, there are many people in this world who don't own an iPod and prefer to be able to open their files with several different programs (i.e. Foobar2000, Quintessential, Songbird.) So while a 32% price increase seems steep, the service is still worthwhile.

The New Motherfucking (literally) Flesh Push You Down the Razorblade Slide

Let me begin by explaining this simple equation. A new PSA from the Above the Influence campaign directly implies that you probably only like Indie Rock because you are high on marijuana.

This really has me thinking. Are most of us too high to understand the rewarding nature of being on a major label? Is Justin Timberlake's "Sexy Back" really the only song we should be paying attention to right now? And can I enjoy any music without knowing I should either being smoking pot or bending over backward?

As the Pernice Brothers start touring in support of their newest release, Live a Little, they may want to rethink their whole Indie Rock thing. Seriously, they're just supporting mindless stoners who could be entertained just as easily by watching Half Baked:The Musical. Somehow this does support terrorism, and by writing this I feel grotesquely filthy. I need to take shower right now. BRB!

All right I'm back. I didn't even get dressed. I am that devoted to finishing this. I wish every reader knew how much acne is visible on my nude lower half, despite my morbid obesity. Just imagine John Goodman morphing into Oprah Winfrey morphing into Rosie O'Donnell having a gigantic baby with Ron Jeremy with a resemblance of Gary Busey in the face and genitals. I am that gigantic Busey baby covered in pus.

So if you want to hear Joe Pernice's perfectly polished vocals accompanied by the beautiful arrangements of his fellow bandmates, you will have to pick up a joint and light up. No, this isn't the sort of message I wanted to be giving you, but Above the Influence believes you must be high in order to like this sort of thing.

Face it, you were high when you first picked up Overcome by Happiness back in 1998. You were beyond toasted when you saw The Pernice Brothers on The Gilmore Girls, and the reasons why you were watching that show to begin with go beyond drug usage.

You better catch them live or I'm not you're friend anymore. (Tourdates)

11.04.06 - Pittsburgh, PA - Club Cafe
11.05.06 - Dayton, OH - Canal Street Tavern
11.06.06 - Covington, KY - Madhatter
11.07.06 - Detroit, MI - Lager House*
11.08.06 - Grand Rapids, MI - The Intersection*
11.09.06 - Chicago, IL - Schuba's*
11.10.06 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon*
11.11.06 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th St Entry*
11.12.06 - Des Moines, IA - Vaudeville Mews*
11.16.06 - Seattle, WA - Tractor Tavern*
11.17.06 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge*
11.18.06 - Eugene, OR - Sam Bond's Garage*
11.20.06 - Sacramento, CA - Old Ironsides*
11.21.06 - San Francisco, CA - Café du Nord*
11.22.06 - Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland*
11.24.06 - San Diego, CA - The Casbah*
11.25.06 - Phoenix, AZ - Modified*
11.26.06 - Albuquerque, NM - Launchpad*
11.28.06 - Austin, TX - Cactus Café*
11.29.06 - Denton, TX - Haileys*
11.30.06 - Baton Rouge, LA - Chelsea's Café*
12.01.06 - Oxford, MS - Proud Larry's*
12.02.06 - Birmingham, AL - Bottle Tree*
12.03.06 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl*
12.05.06 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506*
12.06.06 - Washington, DC - Black Cat*
12.07.06 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brendas*
12.08.06 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge*
12.09.06 - Northampton, MA - Iron Horse*
12.10.06 - Boston, MA - TT the Bears*

* w/ Elvis Perkins

I hate intellectualizing music. It gets boring. Sure, just saying "that shit is SO tight" is pretty fucking lame too, but who wants to hear about how the length of silence juxtaposed with segments of a dissonant melody truly brought out the ambivalently subconscious qualities in a piece? Save that shit for classical music. (Also, I am naïve.) How does this tie-in to anything? Because once you hear the sounds emerging from the trio that is The New Flesh, you won't give a shit about their musical talent and the complex song structures and whatnot. You'll more likely be crying blood all over the floor and make people hate you. You fuck! Stop crying blood. Then someone will probably come up to you and pull a gun that's melted to their hand out of the vagina that's grown into their stomach because they watched some fucked up snuff TV show. You know what I'm talking about.

Fuck your friends over: Instead of giving them those shrooms you bought so you could all "trip balls" and have a "good time," go to a show and find out how painful melody can actually be. Also, try vomiting on the band members and see what happens. It's what they want.

P.S. Any date without a venue may or may not happen. Godspeed.

ALL HAIL THE NEW FLESH!:

11.03.06 – Washington DC – 611 Florida Ave. NW
11.04.06 – Charleston, NC – Andrew's House
11.05.06 – Birmingham, AL – Cave 9
11.06.06 – Baton Rouge, LA – A House
11.07.06 – Houston, TX – Supper Happy Fun Land
11.08.06 – Denton, TX – House of Tinnitus
11.09.06 – Driving Day - TBA
11.10.06 – Pasadena, CA – The Playhouse 7
11.11.06 – Los Angeles, CA – Neon Hates You Festival at The Smell
11.12.06 – Los Angeles, CA – Il Corral
11.13.06 – Val Verde, CA – Ren's House (30549 San Martinez Rd.)
11.15.06 – Davis, CA – UC Davis Campus
11.16.06 – Santa Cruz, CA - TBA
11.17.06 – Oakland, CA – The Bakery
11.18.06 – San Francisco, CA – Thee Parkside
11.19.06 – Eugene, OR - TBA
11.20.06 – Portland, OR – The Foodhole
11.21.06 – Seattle, WA – Camp Nowhere House
11.22.06 – Boise, ID - TBA
11.23.06 – Denver, CO - TBA
11.24.06 – Kansas City, KC – El Torreon
11.25.06 – St. Louis, MO – Jeremy's House
11.26.06 – Lexington, KY – A House
11.27.06 – Murfreesboro, TN – Alex's House
11.28.06 – Cincinnati, OH – Sudsy Malone's
11.29.06 – Columbus, OH – Skylab Gallery
12.01.06 – Cleveland, OH - TBA
12.02.06 – Lansing, MI - TBA
12.04.06 – Madison, WI – The Corral Room
12.05.06 – Milwaukee, WI or Minneapolis, MN
12.06.06 – Chicago, IL – 1133 Fulton Avenue
12.07.06 – Fort Wayne, IN - TBA
12.08.06 – Pittsburgh, PA - TBA
12.09.06 – Philadelphia, PA - TBA
12.10.06 – Baltimore, MD – Talking Head Club MT6 Records Festival

Bob Dylan’s Childhood Back Pages (Not) Sold for Thousands of Dollars

Now, I'm all for healthy adulation here and there, when deserved, but Ric Kangas has surely taken this one a little too far. Up for sale: a tape of him and Bob Dylan, then schoolyard buddies back in the Midwest, playing four songs of their own composition. Three feature Dylan's voice, while Kangas sings the other, backed by Dylan's astringent guitar accompaniment.

This tape was floor auctioned on October 6-7, while online bidding finished a day earlier. It was expected to fetch at least $50,000 at conservative estimates, though many experts suggested it would be nearer the $100K mark. Seems a little bit over the odds for a taped recording of a living man, even if it is Dylan. Still, what do I know? I'm still high from sliding down the tubes at the Tate Modern.

However, in a spectacular twist, the tape apparently didn't sell. According to the Heritage Auction Galleries website, the emporium responsible for this irresponsible raping of Dylan's still-forming legacy, the item "did not sell at auction because it did not receive bids equal to or greater than the reserve (minimum bid) amount set by the consignor." In other words, it didn't fetch as much as everyone expected!

I don't know what the next step is in this whole sordid affair, but I'll keep you posted.

Universal Music Group Still Taking the Odd Hit Of Payola Now and Then

Five months ago, Universal shelled out $12 million to New York charities after being slapped firmly on the ass with accusations of payola. The settlement also introduced a rule that prohibits any label execs from purchasing radio ads containing more than 60 seconds of a song, since independent tracking services could potentially count this as actual airplay, rather than as a dirty, dirty, fat-cat trick. However, if Universal really wants to try it out, all it has to do is give written notice.

And so, as if possessed by a spirit of good will and fairness, some labels distributed by Universal have recently taken up the practice of, well, purchasing radio ads containing more than 60 seconds of a song. Blackground Records used this method last week to boost JoJo's "Too Little, Too Late" to the no. 2 slot on the U.S. pop charts. In the previous week, Roadrunner Records, another label associated with Universal, bought ads that launched Nickelback's "Far Away" up to no. 1. Written notice of these purchases was provided, but it was on a bathroom wall at Universal's corporate headquarters, and was written in shit. Another sign that something was awry in the charts was the fact that no one, in any country, has ever heard either of these songs.

The "ball" is now in New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer's "court." Will Spitzer make a "slam dunk" and tighten up the settlement? Will he "call a foul" on Universal's shady practices? Will he continue efforts to "Shaq"-kle corporate criminals? Will he "chase a player around the court with a bucket of water and then toss it into the crowd, revealing that the bucket was actually filled with confetti"?

Check back in the coming weeks for any further developments on Nickelback.

Danielson Further Alienate My Christian Friends, Tour Europe

Lou Barlow is all grows up! He's grows up and he's grows up and he's grows up! (Note: if you didn't find that amusing, please re-acquaint yourself with a certain filmic masterpiece by the name of Swingers. Thanks.) But listen, really. He's got a wife & kids and a nice little place in Massachusetts, and you know who the heck comes by to talk new songs and a NEW TOUR!? Ohh, it's beautiful: Murph and J Mascis. Whether or not they also come bearing fruit baskets is unconfirmed at the time of press.

All you sniffling indie kids dreaming of injecting "Oh yeah, last week at that Dinosaur Jr. concert... " into everyday conversation? Prayers answered. It's a tease of a tour, but it's been 15 long years since Dinosaur Jr. threw a bunch of tantrums and broke up. I don't know about you, but this feels like Christmas.

Pssst. Pavement. Take a hint and live up to your "active" status on the Matador roster:

11.27.2006 - Portland, ME - The Big Easy
11.28.2006 - Portland, ME - The Big Easy
11.29.2006 - Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
11.30.2006 - Northampton, MA - Pearl Street
12.01.2006 - New York, NY - Rebel
12.02.2006 - New York, NY - Rebel

  

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