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The problem with music, redux.
February 4, 2007 2:16 PM   Subscribe


 
Via Bemuso and MOMI.

And yeah, I know some of it is old stuff. Hate it, suckers.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:16 PM on February 4, 2007


That read like something out of Finnegan's Wake.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:22 PM on February 4, 2007


I started a record label once. Turns out fiscal obligation and friendship don't mix so well.
posted by hototogisu at 2:23 PM on February 4, 2007


Well, the first link's supposed to be the main one, and it should let you know what the post is about. Since I read the Courtney Love thing (the first link here) seven years ago, I didn't bother to read the rest. Sorry.
posted by washburn at 2:27 PM on February 4, 2007


riverrun, past Courtney and Jeff's, from clang of chord to power of pen, brings us by a commodius musicalis of recirculation back to Haughey Castle and Environs.

Better now, SCDB?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:36 PM on February 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Your loss, washburn. The nymag article was insightful and interesting.
posted by fleetmouse at 2:48 PM on February 4, 2007


Nice post. I'm actually trying to talk a friend into starting a label, 'cause we've done everything else already and he's bored again.
posted by loquacious at 2:55 PM on February 4, 2007


The first lie of the music business is in the name "music business." It rightfully should be called "the business of music" because the business always comes first.

Oh, yeah, and if you're in a working band, study the crap out of this book.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:53 PM on February 4, 2007


There was a blurb in the Inquirer today about labels turning away from DRM and starting to offer plain MP3s.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:05 PM on February 4, 2007


Now if we could just get away from MP3s and start adopting Ogg Vorbis or FLAC we'd be even better off. Though I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do with all the MP3s I have at this point. I suppose just leave them alone and keep MP3 around while embracing better compression for new stuff.
posted by loquacious at 4:09 PM on February 4, 2007


Fantastic post, goodnewsfortheinsane, if a bit cryptic. I saw it a couple times scrolling through and didn't stop to check it out until the third, but once I started reading I was caught.

What I mean to say is that the links are really good, but the presentation doesn't let you know immediately what it is all about. But it is a great post.
posted by micayetoca at 4:27 PM on February 4, 2007


Love her or hate her, Courtney Love has a brain, and when she uses it, it's impressive.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:39 PM on February 4, 2007


Thanks fleetmouse for pointing me to the nymag article. It was pretty interesting.
posted by washburn at 6:44 PM on February 4, 2007


What kind of royalties do artists get on an indie label?
posted by smackfu at 7:14 PM on February 4, 2007


They left out a not-quite-quote from Thompson: "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."
posted by adipocere at 7:23 PM on February 4, 2007


The NY Mag article was really good. I think Michael Wolff got it just about right. So if authors were the generational voice, replaced by rock stars, themselves now fading, who will take up the mantle and become the next generational voice, the chroniclers and romanticizers of modern life?

(Thanks for highlighting the hidden article fleetmouse. I probably wouldn't even have clicked in to see these comments, except I am always interested in gnfti's posts. Too cryptic, this one.)
posted by caddis at 7:50 PM on February 4, 2007


So if authors were the generational voice, replaced by rock stars, themselves now fading, who will take up the mantle and become the next generational voice, the chroniclers and romanticizers of modern life?

There's always bloggers, sad as that may seem. They have the ego, the introspection, and the drama to captivate.
posted by zabuni at 9:29 PM on February 4, 2007


The NY Mag article was really good. I think Michael Wolff got it just about right.

I liked it too but I was surprised when he talked about a "recent" story on Carly Hennessy... then I looked at the bottom and the article was from 2002! Five years later and you could write pretty much the same article.
posted by bobo123 at 10:03 PM on February 4, 2007


Love her or hate her, Courtney Love has a brain, and when she uses it, it's impressive.

She lifted the whole thing for the Albini/Baffler piece that was published 7 years prior. I have never seen her piece mentioned without someone mentioning the obvious plagiarism, and I guess I get the honor this time around. Maybe she can be impressive, but this is not evidence of it.
posted by thirteen at 10:23 PM on February 4, 2007


More on Carly Hennessy

I wonder if her album is any good and if it might eventually become modestly popular in the long tail. All this talk about it is making me curious. Wouldn't it be a wonderful and ironic thing if the internet discovered this album as a lost masterpiece?

more likely than not it sucks balls though
posted by fleetmouse at 10:55 PM on February 4, 2007


It was not easy to track down a sample of this young lady - even the Amazon clips didn't play - but I found samples and it is gloriously mediocre.

Not a hint of her on emule, youtube or last.fm.
posted by fleetmouse at 11:20 PM on February 4, 2007


i'm in love with Ruckus.
mmm... ad-supported music dowloads.
posted by andythebean at 11:44 PM on February 4, 2007


I think it's a fine thing that someone has put all these links under one roof. Sure, I've read some of 'em already, but I'm of the opinion that material doesn't have to have been written within the last 3 days and 17 minutes for it to be a valid part of a MeFi FPP. Taken as a whole, this strikes me as a worthwhile post, and I'm glad goodnews brought it here.

Oh, and, the music business stinks.

So y'all go check out some of the posts over at MeFi Music. We're givin' it away fer free over there!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:51 AM on February 5, 2007


After reading all this, my impression is that the music industry basically runs big-time usury, lending money at exorbitant interest to artists while providing some supporting functions (like promotion etc.)

Now with all the new distribution channels it becomes apparent that quite a lot of people ARE willing to pay for the tracks we download (a reasonable price for me would be 20 eurocents per track, to give an example) so I believe the distribution and payment channels are there along with the customer demand.

The only thing that's missing is the advance money for artists to produce and promote their music. I wonder if a micro-loan scheme would help. I know artists tend to be notoriously irresponsible with money, but one way to support the start-ups would be for the more affluent to perhaps team-up and start a micro-loan bank specifically aimed at musicians.

Although this is what indie labels already do, but I can't see a reason why both systems could not co-exist.
posted by Laotic at 3:37 AM on February 5, 2007


a micro-loan bank specifically aimed at musicians.

This would be a very good thing. World peace, universal health care and a Muslim cleric getting elected as US president is more likely to happen, however.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:31 AM on February 5, 2007


After reading all this, my impression is that the music industry basically runs big-time usury, lending money at exorbitant interest to artists while providing some supporting functions (like promotion etc.)

What's missing from consideration here is the cartel-like activities of the major labels. Quite literally, they pay radio stations to play the music that they insist be played on the radio on most commercial radio stations. (They just do it through an underhanded mechanism with a middleman, which makes it okay supposedly.) They are the ones with the money and the might to secure large performance venues and run massive promotional blitzes. And, being part of entertainment mega-corporations, there is a lot of synergy in the business among fields. (Ashlee Simpson started out as a guest star on "7th Heaven", although her older sister Jessica had already released some albums at that point)

There are a lot of ways in which small independent record labels simply cannot compete. Most of the ways in which we consume music in this country (radio, music stores) do not allow for much experimentation and derivation.

This is starting to change with satellite radio (they're not in on the quasi-payola), online music stores (the "long tail" potential of selling music), online video distribution (any band can enjoy the effect of producing a very good music video without having to make it past some cable TV executives first), and viral marketing (think of Arctic Monkeys selling their wares all over the web before actually coming out with a real record). The record industry is also starting to feel the pain, as record stores are collapsing left and right and terrestrial radio becomes less popular. It doesn't help that VH1 and MTV literally stopped playing music videos, joked about sarcastically for years but seemingly true now. Album prices are dropping because another cartel - Circuit City, Best Buy, Target, and WalMart - sell their music as loss leaders for the more lucrative home electronics systems. And now, of course, if you want to listen to good music, you don't have to take any corporation's force fed crap.

I thought it was awesome that Lily Allen was on SNL the other night. In the usual record company world, she would have never been "found".
posted by brianvan at 5:18 AM on February 5, 2007


I've been reading MeFi in an aggregator, recently, and I just wanted to say that in that form, this post looks almost like da da. I think it's the "goodnewsfortheinsane" part that really tips it.

That's probably a compliment, fwiw.

posted by lodurr at 7:37 AM on February 5, 2007


"Your loss, washburn. The nymag article was insightful and interesting."

Hey, thanks for that. After the first five links were all things I'd read, I didn't have the stamina to wade through the rest. That was a neat article.
posted by klangklangston at 7:41 AM on February 5, 2007


Just a couple notes— Major labels are moving away from the "independent promoters" because it got them in legal hot water (the fictional curtain between this and payola was drawn back).

And for a great view on how indies handle royalties, take a look at the saga of the Butthole Surfers and Touch and Go.
posted by klangklangston at 7:43 AM on February 5, 2007


Yeah, sorry about an inadvertently dadaist post. It was late. Thanks for salvaging the thread with good discussion and links. For real.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:16 AM on February 5, 2007


I enjoyed learning about the inner workings of ASCAP and BMI, but it was horribly depressing at the same time. I have been proud of receiving ASCAP checks in the past but now I realize that every venue I've ever played at should have been paying me royalties, but instead they go into the ASCAP system and support some major label, and the intended Indie band get screwed with radio sampling royalties. I will definitely file all new releases with BMI in order to at least get accountability for radio airplay.
posted by elkelk at 12:01 PM on February 5, 2007


Here's a pretty detailed article from 1999 on the Butthole Surfers / Touch and Go thing klangklangston mentioned. It's an interesting story, especially from eight years out when the Butthole's brief and improbable moment of mainstream popularity has faded from view.
posted by whir at 2:03 PM on February 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


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