Saturday, March 24, 2007

cost of war

This is from a great site where you can see the cost of the war in iraq, and compare it against actually improving lives here in the US in a variety of matrices . . .

Cost of the War in Iraq

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

tragedy in mali

i've been writing some emails with a reporter from the NY Daily News, who has been writing about the tragedy in NYC where 10 children and 1 woman died in a house fire. he has traveled to mali to report on the story there, and i think he has really captured some of the essence of mali, of the hospitality, the people, and the culture. he's got his stuff up in bloggish format here.

there are also some nice pictures accompanying the story.

funny stuff

from the NYTimes coverage (by the excellent jon pareles) of sxsw (funny stuff bolded):

"At South by Southwest, a music lover is also a target market. We presumed early adopters and tastemakers have been inundated not just with music, but also with whatever -- through research or, just as likely, free-association -- that marketers happen to think we'll tout to friends after the convention ends.

"The swag in the bag was just the beginning. More CDs are piled up at club doors by companies who, for the rest of the year, fret publicly about people getting music free. For those who prefer their music virtual, there are baskets of plastic cards with codes to redeem for downloaded songs."


sxsw highlights

still recovering from my crazy red-eye travels. the most amazing thing to me about sxsw was how little sleep i needed. being in that environment seemed to give me extra energy. for someone who usually needs 8 hours, i was going strong with 3-5 hours per night, and am doing well today after my red-eye home from california, and the 1 hour of sleep i got on saturday night before i flew from austin to california.

for those of you who don't know, sxsw is a mad house of music. something like 70 venues host showcases where 2-10 bands play each day/night. each band plays 1 hour sets (including setting up and breaking down), and gets $150 from sxsw for showing up and playing. all costs are borne by the band. so these acts are hustling. probably playing a couple unofficial gigs, and trying to get in wherever they can. so it is madness.

since this was my first sxsw, and since indy rock (which dominates the scene) isn't really my cup of tea, my list of bands that i saw is rather modest, but i like to think i really picked my spots. got some good songs in my head.

wednesday i really just saw forro in the dark. saw some other groups, but couldn't tell you much about them. big shout out to davi, the percussionist for forro in the dark, and of course dave of bole2harlem for setting up that meeting. davi is a monster on the drums, and a mensch otherwise. more about him later.

thursday i started off at marco werman's showcase and caught ana laan, who was great. nice mix of acoustic guitar, loops, killer voice. then moved quick to a private party where david byrne played with forro in the dark (thanks davi!!!). wow. FITD had some sound-man issues on wednesday night, but thursday, they sounded great, and when david byrne jumped onto the stage, the place went wild. they closed the show by each grabbing some percussion and line dancing their way through the crowd and ending up crouched in a circle surrounded by dancing fans. nice one. i also had a nice memory photo moment when during the first song of FITD, i looked over and saw byrne leaning against the fence with the same stupid grin stuck on his face that was stuck on mine. regrettably, i missed the after party, cause i caught a cab to go see toubab krewe downtown, which was also great. spent some time with those guys during the day, and it was awesome to see their take on mali tradition. finished up the night catching MIS (Mexican Institute of Sound) at Marco's showcase again.

friday was a bit different musically. started off checking out buffalo tom, who were good to see, especially as they were so different from the rest of the stuff i'd seen thus far. then headed off to see a Scandinavian showcase, catching a few minutes of marit larsen, and then seeing the group vincent van go go, a great reggae act. bunch of danes rocking it. we took a break at this point, headed to a hotel on 6th to hang with some friends, and then later on, moved out to check out damon albarn's latest thang - the good, the bad and the queen. had to wait a while for them to come on, but it was good to finally see mr. albarn live on stage. funny shtick they have going on, but it is nice to see someone really keep on doing new projects, and not sitting on his first success. i had to bust out towards the end of the set to make it home by 2.30 or so.

saturday started earlier, with ian and i checking out antibalas who played around 5.30 pm. late start, but they got the crowd going with the ever-popular "sing along" thing. and they kept it rocking for the whole set. afro-beat will never die. ;) moved on to some food, and then headed back to pack up and rest a bit. made my way back out for a 10 pm set by tom morello. got to re-connect with my union roots in a show he performed in the central presbyterian church, the most unlikely venue of sxsw. ran around a bit to some unfulfilling little shows, and then ended up at the pinker tones show. wow. what a blast. it was hard to tell if the band was having more fun than the audience, and the audience didn't stop moving and cheering all set. these are an act not to be missed live. we tried to catch lee scratch perry (long line) and balkan beat box (stuck in nyc due to snow) to close out the night, but settled for a taco from one of the little places on 6th. then back to the hotel for the quick hour of sleep before the flight.

dang. what a week!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

terry mcbride at sxsw

so i'm sitting here at sxsw listening to an interview with terry mcbridge, probably the most visionary record exec operating today. he is saying some interesting stuff. i'll put some notes here, and come back and edit it all later .. .

create a culture of pulling media with the introduction of cds. this runs counter to the majors forcing behavior. you can't legislate behavior no matter what, so you must learn to market and promote to this new behavior and monetize this in the end.

metrics of measurement only getting 50% of revenue or artists like those on nettwerk.
artists are selling memory sticks with shows, albums, etc. totally green, reusable.

consumers should be able to choose how and when they get music.

50/50 split on digital with nettwerk. collapse copyright (publishing, image, synch) to maximize profit. fractured copyright actually holds back ability of artists to make money off those copyrights.

7 of 8 groups are profitable that were launched by nettwerk without any fan base.

one act was able to sell 3-4 thousand, this created market & capital to sell phyical.
getting 1000 tix per day sold on the net.

50-150K units being sold by new artist middle class.

where is your audience?
go there.

millions of customers don't go to itunes, as they view it as a speciality retailer. those big boxy retailers (yahoo, etc) don't want to deal with DRM and the customer issues that come with it. and those millions of customers will not buy until those big box players come into the music sales biz.

walmart has had a bigger impact than p2p. by removing sections of physical cds from stores, and by setting price at $10 max for buying cds.

future is that we'll move into space where fans make money by pushing music.

radio is losing the power to sell music. kids are tuning out of radio. radio going back to the 20's, with news and talk. music industry didn't allow music on the radio in the 20s cause they thought if music was given away on the radio, then people wouldn't buy those cylinders. ha! repeat of history. as terry said, those industry folks are up there saying "yes, go with drm"

now they are headed to q & a, so i am headed out of here . . .

forro in the dark

saw these guys play last night. despite some sound man issues, and a funky energy in the club, they killed it. great unexpectedly dancey music! catch them if you can. i'm going to be around them a bit more this week, so more coming .. . .

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gilberto Gil at SXSW

Gilberto Gil spoke today at SXSW in a nice little conversation with Christoper Dunn (go Bruno!). He had some really funny and deep comments, including a re-iteration of some of his older lyrics where he says that Bahia has provided him with both him compass and ruler for life. He also said that the people of Bahia have sympathy both for god and the devil.
Later on, he got some laughs by saying "from very close, NO ONE is normal."
His mac laptop was open on his lap the whole time, although he never really referred to it, other than to talk about the crystal a couple times, including when he talked about Silicon Valley as part of the psychedelic movement, where the trip is taking place in the crystal [referring to the computer]. And then talking about how it was no coincidence that Silicon Valley is so close to SF . . . .

funny, entertaining and insightful. why don't we have a minister of culture? and can we get one like Gil?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

loads of music, dance, etc

This has been a busy busy past week of music and performance. Thursday night was Vieux Farka Toure's debut performance in Boston. Sick. The young man clearly has talent all his own, as well as plenty of licks learned from listening to and watching his father (Ali Farka Toure). It was a great show. If you can catch him on tour this summer, do so.

Then, saturday, we saw our friend dave's band Addison Groove Project (AGP) play their last show at the paradise. great venue, great band, great show! one of those bands that you are sad to see stop playing, but knowing the guys in the band, and where they are at, this is a good move for all parties.

and then, on sunday, we went to see marc bamuthi joseph and his piece "scourge". amazing. spoken word, dance, live music, hip hop, discussion of race & identity politics, wow. great stuff. if you can see this group, do so. i never thought i'd see bassoon be used so effectively in hip-hop. scratch that. i NEVER thought i'd see bassoon in hip-hop period.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

another DRM story

so it appears that the majors aren't so game to sell mp3s . . . .
my fave part is where EMI talks about how releasing mp3s has been positive at the end of the story where they just talked about how they are not going to release more mp3s . . . excellent business.

New York - Major record label EMI Group has ended discussions with major online music sellers on the possibility of selling songs without digital rights management (DRM) restrictions, as the parties were unable to agree on advance payments for songs sold as unprotected MP3s, Bloomberg News reported, citing people briefed on the offer.

EMI asked retailers for a large advance payment for the rights to sell its artists' songs without copy-protection technology, which included a premium based on the risk involved.

The retailers -- including Apple, Microsoft, RealNetworks, Yahoo and -- countered with a lower offer, which was rejected by EMI.

The talks are now on hold, Bloomberg's sources said.

EMI has recently experimented with releasing its artists' songs without DRM, offering singles from Norah Jones and Lily Allen as unprotected MP3s.

"The results have been positive," an EMI spokeswoman told Reuters earlier this month, adding, "lack of operability between a proliferating range of devices and hardware and the digital platforms for delivering music is more and more becoming an issue for music consumers and EMI has been engaging with our various partners to find a solution."

Friday, March 02, 2007

way to go!

great article (link in title) on the music industry. my fave bit:
"Apparently, the creation of the new consumer base with a marked aversion for anything to do with Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG didn't come up.

The Big 4 labels are currently engaged in a world-wide effort to sue their customers, put off by high music industry prices, indifferent product and severely limited catalogues, into abandoning the free p2p networks and independent sales and music sites they now favour online."

lol. nice one.

Major Label woes

this is the post i originally came in here to write, before i got sidetracked by the damn google bots.

anyway, what set me off today was the last line in this article of a wired(!) article. it reads "The surprise, however, could be that the majors, with their restrictive licensing attitudes, could find themselves at the bottom tier of that system."

Surprise!? why is wired of all places surprised at the potential/likely demise of major label dominance? didn't the article on the long tail first appear in wired? (full long tail article here)

and although i've said many times already this year that 2007 is the year of DRM based on a bunch of articles and back room gossip, i'm beginning to doubt that. all the folks who have been advocating dumping DRM at the majors are finding themselves out in the cold . . . .

google unlove

although i am typically in love with google and their range of services, this whole move from blogger to google has been quite harsh. i know i'm not alone as others across the blogosphere have moved away from google blogs or kept the original blogger blogs. i'm beginning to wish i'd done the same, but figured that i couldn't go wrong by moving to the new google tool.
why i'm pissy today (friday, 3/2/7) is that i logged in and got the message "WARNING

This blog has been locked by Blogger's spam-prevention robots. You will not be able to publish your posts, but you will be able to save them as drafts.

Save your post as a draft or click here for more about what's going on and how to get your blog unlocked."

When I clicked through, I get to a place where i enter some letters in an image and then am told someone will get back to me in 2 days. 2 days! what! you are going to shut down my blog and not get back to me for 2 days! why? cause i show too much love to the projects i'm involved with by linking to them? cause i use your tools to liberally? cause i use my blog for what it should be used for? publicity and testing out new fun tools? grrrrr. color me grumpy with google.

and turn my damn blog back on.

it took them 6 hours to turn it back on.