That Nirvana killed hairbands dead. For awhile anyway.
Nevermind was released on September 24th 1991. Yes. You are that old.
Many in their 20’s believe Nirvana to be quite uncool. For good reason. They are in their 20’s. Anything cool when you were born, isn’t all that cool. Don’t worry it will come back around. Kurt was awesome.
So is this video.
Here we are now. Entertain us.
Much has been written about Miley Cyrus and her recent change to distance herself from her Hannah Montana character. It was ta terrible idea as the New York Times points out today.
So last month, when Ms. Cyrus released her post-adolescent anthem, “Can’t Be Tamed,” her once-adoring fan was unimpressed, unmoved by, among other things, the singer’s sexy music video.
“It was weird,” Perry said of Ms. Cyrus’s bird wings and black ribbon corset. “I feel like she acts 25. She looks so old. She is too old for herself.” She, like others her age, has had enough. First-week album sales for the more adult “Can’t Be Tamed” tallied a mere 102,389, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks music sales. That was 72 percent less than her 2008 solo debut, “Breakout,” and 33 percent less than last year’s “Time of Our Lives,” both of which were popular with teenagers.
Readers of my book will recognize this failure to be utterly predictable. Ms. Cyrus and her strategists should never have equated sexuality with maturity. Kids are generally alienated by the quantity of sex in their media. The movement to conservatism continues on the young end. Not only can Taylor Swift sing better– her style is more on pitch as well.
Everybody knows Lambert will win this season’s Idol but there may be some surprises in store none the less.
According to The New York Post “a glitch in the Apple software allowed fans a glimpse at which contestants are selling the most “Idol” download.” And, in what will come as a surprise to many Idol fans, Gokey was not the first or second most popular artist.
While Lambert, as expected, is the most downloaded artist so far with 6 of the top 10 top tracks, Kris Allen actually occupies 3 of the slots, while Gokey has just 1 song on the list. Of course, American Idol fans don’t vote on singing skills alone, and Gokey, as you might know, has a compelling backstory, which could make all of this irrelevant.
As much of an Apple fan boy as I am–nobody like a monopoly. I really like iTunes and e-music too, I just feel like there ought to be another model.
I’m generally not a fan of content subscription models. Typically consumers pay for more than they actually use. They are inefficient. Managing most content subscriptions is too hard–and most subscription business models exploit that. I can’t shake the feeling I’m being taken advantage of. I’m convinced there is an alternative– and I might just have stumbled on to it. Although admittedly, the process I envision already exists to some degree (on itunes– natch). As Lance Peter put it –“Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it.”
Last week on Twitter I asked: Why not subscribe to artists via a paid rss feed- say 1.99 a month for a song and other digital stuff (alt mixes, lyrics, recording notes, blog from the road etc.) I subscribe to the Colbert Report, Daily Show and The Soup on iTunes and the shows land conveniently on my Apple TV. It’s better than TiVo–nobody’s getting ripped off and I don’t have to skip through commercials. it’s just not quite as portable as it needs to be (though it’s getting much closer) and its too expensive, but the exchange feels better because I’m getting what I paid for.
Back in the 80’s, one of my favorite bands, the Cocteau Twins, used to regularly release ep’s– 12 inch records with 3-4 tracks. They’d release these every few months and then release compilation lps. I always thought this EP strategy was genius from a revenue strategy perspective and never understood why more artists didn’t do it . That is until I learned the horrible awful disgusting truth.
Here’s the point: it’s time to shift the release schedule to a constant drip rather than gushing in 12 month intervals. The snag, of course, is If you release one single a month, radio can’t keep up. You also risk loosing the ability to milk every possible dime out of each hit your record may (or may not) have. Radio simply can’t assimilate one single per artist per month even if every song were a hit–which by definition cannot be. Hits are consensus tracks — poplar favorites– from the artist. Highly-involved fans burn out on artists’ hits. They hear them too often precisely because they have achieved popular consensus.
Imagine though, subscribing to your favorite 4-5 artists a month– adding or dropping those subscriptions as needed. Now you are subscribing artists–not to a service–you’ve e-eliminated the middleman.
The RSS subscription purchase process goes something like this– 1. Dig the hits (now, “loss leaders” to be given away or shared to bring the customer in) , 2. buy some catalog, 3. fall in love with artist, then 4. pay to subscribe to the artist feed.
Of course it won’t work if artists insist on marketing through labels and labels insist on DRM. Providing artists with secure, paid, rss feed technology would allow them the ability to sell (all) their content themselves-and with the use of collaborative filtering and free feeds from emerging artists, a new model may well emerge that enriches artists for the studio efforts. You can see the beginnings of this on sites like Garageband.com and iLike where bands similar to what you are listening to make songs available for free.
Imagine (because I totally dig their iPhone app AND their music) that Deathcab for Cutie has a paid feed I can subscribe to. I get a song or two a month, pictures from the road, notes on microphone selection and placements on their guitar rigs–hell even files for re-mixing, thoughts on lyrics, chord tabs ringtones,etc.– you get the idea. Of course I’m paying for THAT!. $2, $3, perhaps $4 bucks a month. Here’s the thing–the band I love is mediating for me–I don’t need mediated recommendations – I’m getting them from a band I trust and enjoy. Imagine that a band asks Deathcab to share its music via Deathcab’s feed. Deathcab gets all the dough–NewBand gets the audience. Now anybody Deathcab likes could add value until they are big enough to go at it alone.
Of course all of this gets even cooler when the feed is device-agnostic. This is ultimately the goal– right? This is what the Mac-haters are correct about. The advantages of the walled garden are real, but they come with a price–my Colbert report goes away after I watch it. But when the feed comes to you–independent of the device–and we’ve released the futile bonds of DRM we’ve achieved a new level of value in the marketplace.
When it started, the Internet did like every media before it–copying the media that preceded it: TV ran radio shows, Radio read the newspaper–you get the idea. Now social media is converging on feeds driven by the consumption of content: More and more these feeds are becoming the auto-publication of media behavior (consumption and creation). Interest spawns awareness through these social, syndicated connections connections Artists can set up to sell their feeds– they can do it from their own website– I’m sure the technology is already there. Well what do you know, here’s a couple now : umundoinc.com. and podbean.com. Paid feeds need not be done in lieu of what is already underway –but as an adjunct to it. Here’s how pretty much anybody can set up a premium paid feed on Podbean.com.
This is not a new idea–but perhaps an idea whose time has come. If not, I’m certain that it will eventually. We know the internet will continue to change the process of content mediation and filtration. Now I think we’re seeing how those changes get monetized in a way that more fairly benefits the creators of content.
This is the kind of creative destruction that the big thinkers on the web have been talking about since the turn of this century. People like shows and songs and bands– they bond with the creators of content–the artists. Any business model that brings the consumer closer to the creator of the content is bound to have more inertia than one that distances the artist from audience.
Today’s top story from Cynopsis (maybe the best media email in the biz–subscribe for free here)
“Warner Bros. became the latest studio to bow Out of the broadband-happy Korean DVD market, according to the WSJ, choosing instead to license pressing and distribution rights to a local company. Warner Bros. follows Sony, Paramount, Universal, Buena Vista and 20th Century Fox which have all discontinued selling DVDs directly in the territory due to falling sales. DVD sales will drop to a projected $285 million this year – less than half of revenues in 2002. The presumption is that the lion’s share of the lost business is due to piracy. South Korea has the most advanced broadband infrastructure in the world (94% penetration rate,) offering blinding connection speeds at a fraction of the cost of U.S.-based services.”
Well there it is. DVDs are over in Korea. If they are over over-there, its only a matter of a few years before they are over here too. Big changes on the way. Most of them good. more later.
I’ve been a very mediocre musician for a very long time. I like to make noise and record it. I have absolutely no idea why.
Lately I’ve been sad because the muse hasn’t been around much. I try to make stuff but it rarely comes out listen-able. This will be relevant shortly–trust me.
Back around 1992 I was fortunate enough to visit the Lanois studio in New Orleans called Kingsway at the corner of Esplanade Avenue and Chartres Street (in the French quarter). I remember the year only because I remember that Columbia was working the Chris Whitley record at the time, it was recorded there. It was an a grand old house with rooms rumored to be haunted. It was disorganized and messy. It was awesome. The most memorable part of my tour was seeing Daniel’s Grammy for U2’s Joshua Tree being used to prop open a bathroom door.
There is some great creative wisdom (along with a bit of bla bla bla) is the film.
In the film Lanois has some great quotes about the process of collaboration and experimentation:
“My heroes were always the people in the room at the time. At the moment I really believed in the people I was with. How can we make it different? How can we do something that’s never been heard before?” he asks.
“You can’t buy feel. I look to see what I have in the room–maximize the people in the room to get a good feel. People began calling me a producer as I became more helpful to them” Lanois observes.
My favorite quote in the film however, comes from the storied audio experimentalist and producer Brian Eno, who says:
“Beautiful things grow out of Sh*t. Nobody ever believes that. Things (art) evolves out of nothing”
The strength of the movie is it’s theme of fearless creativity. Just do it. Try it. Things will happen. Even the worst ideas can potentially turn into something wonderful– but only if you believe in the abilities of the people you are collaborating with.
It’s a big idea. It suggests that seeing the potential of an idea may be ultimately more creative and important than the idea itself. After all –it’s all been done. There are really no new ideas–just approaches to expressing them. There are only 12 notes in a western chromatic scale– five thousand years of story telling essentially follow the same few arcs. Catching the lightning of inspiration seems to be a function of finding a groove by getting people to be their best, and then seizing on the brilliance that comes from the bravery of sharing.
The Lanois discography is one of the most storied and inventive in modern music –he’s not a bad guitarist either. His take on creativity and “getting a groove out of the room” is enormously valuable regardless of whether you are creating music, developing products or marketing them.
Next time you’re involved in the creative process, think about getting the most out of the room and turning the participants into your creative heroes .
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper Blue Öyster Cult Agents of Fortune
Fluffy Tufts Cocteau Twins Victorialand
A Night Like This The Cure Staring At The Sea: The Singles 1979-1985
Welcome to My Nightmare Alice Cooper Welcome to My Nightmare
I Walked with a Zombie Roky Erickson & The Aliens The Evil One (Plus One)
Dear Prudence Siouxsie and the Banshees Twice Upon a Time: The Singles
She Is Not Dead Adrian Belew Desire of the Rhino King
Your Skull Is Red Team Sleep Team Sleep
Frankenstein Edgar Winter They Only Come Out At Night
Bela Lugosi’s Dead Bauhaus Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Single
Rain The Beatles Past Masters, Vol. 2
A Corpse Is Corpse Dog Fashion Disco Anarchists of Good Taste
Cities in Dust Siouxsie and the Banshees Twice Upon a Time: The Singles
Boris the Spider The Who The Who: Thirty Years of Maximum R&B (Box Set)
Halloween Siouxsie & the Banshees Juju
Monster Mash Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers The Original Monster Mash
O Death Ralph Stanley O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Living Dead Girl Rob Zombie Past, Present, & Future
This Is Halloween The Citizens of Halloween Nightmare Before Christmas (Special Edition)
Country Death Song Violent Femmes Add It Up (1981-1993)
Sirena Dirty Three Ocean Songs
Wax And Wane Deftones B-Sides & Rarities
In The Street Big Star #1 Record/Radio City
Nemesis Shriekback Oil & Gold
I Want Candy Bow Wow Wow The Best of Bow Wow Wow
Iron Man The Cardigans First Band On The Moon
Twilight Zone Neil Norman Greatest Science Fiction Hits, Vol. 2
A Cautionary Song The Decemberists Castaways And Cutouts
Walking With A Ghost Tegan & Sara So Jealous
Shankill Butchers The Decemberists The Crane Wife
The End The Doors Greatest Hits
More Human Than Human Rob Zombie Past, Present, & Future
Dead Man’s Party Oingo Boingo Dead Man’s Party
Travolta Mr. Bungle Mr. Bungle
9 to 5 at the Morgue Dog Fashion Disco Anarchists of Good Taste
Tubular Bells (Opening Theme) Mike Oldfield Elements
The Fix Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid
Pink Cigarette Mr. Bungle California
oh yea and thanks to Christian for remebering:
Halloween Misfits Collection II
So off I went to new york city to see two of my very favorite bands and in doing so saw the new music biz landscape in high-def.
First was Sigur Rós in at the gorgeous United Palace in Harlem.
I’ve loved Sigur Rós since the second album. They may be the first band to really legitimize using the orchestra in rock music. Something I’ve waited for since the 70’s. Yea, sorry, the The Moody Blues, Guns N’ Roses and Metallica didn’t quite cut it.
Except at the United on Wednesday, Sigur Ros had no orchestra.
“Bully!” you might say. “Rock bands are better with out them.”
Perhaps. But orchestral post-rock bands are not. Worse, apparently the drooling and fawning that Sigur Rós has enjoyed from the press over the past 7-8 years has apparently gone to their heads. The lead singer wore a Sgt. Pepper’s jacket and red glitter under his eyes–causing a guy behind me to comment sardonically
“well they’re rock stars now”.
Yes. Yes they are. Rock stars without repertoire. By that I mean rock stars without an independent sense of their work and its effect on their audience. Back in the bad-old-days record companies helped artists figure out what to play when. That’s gone now. And we are all better for it–mostly. Sure I wanted to hear the new songs but i wanted to hear the hits. Sigur Rós opened “Svefn-g-Englar” and played “Viorar Ver Til Loftararsa” but that was essentially it. No “Agaetis Byrjun”, no “Glosoli”, no “Untitled 2″.
The following night I saw Mogwai at Terminal 5. I LOVE Mogwai too. But damn it, Beavis, I wanted to hear “Take Me Somewhere Nice” . Granted I was late and could have missed it. But I wanted to hear the hits. Listen Tony badassmofo Bennett still sings “The Good Life”. Go ahead. Dis Tony. I dare you.
So Mogwai could have played more hits –and Sigur Ros could have played more hits. While this debate between playing the audience’s favorites and the last album are ancient, the debate is over. The artists have won. At the same time, I need more motivation to go out and see bands, not less. Bands make more money touring now than they do recording, so they better get the message or audiences will slowly–imperceptibly–loose interest as shows become intolerably self-indulgent.
No. Neither Mogwai or Sigur Ros was “intolerably self-indulgent”– but they were dangerously close. Way too close. Of course my expectation was way too high and I was way too excited to see these bands–especially in Capital City.
Still despite my geeky–doomed- to-be-disapointed over enthusiasm Sigur ros’s stage show was outstanding. The audio was phenomenal. The drums sounded better than any I have ever heard. Ever. And well, I learned more about the bass that Wednesday night than I have 10 years prior.
Further, Mogwai proved that you can use three guitars and not be Molly Hatchet. Their tones were so great I could have listened to them for another hour. i just wanted to hear “Take Me Somewhere Nice”, “Kappa”, “Glasgow Mega-Snake” and ‘Summer’. Regardless of the economic changes in the record business, I still say there’s room to consider your whole audience and not just your boredom when playing the Big Apple. Come on guys, sell out a little. I mean after all, you’re wearing eye make up and you left your string sections back at home.