Sunday, April 29, 2007


just back from the big easy, the crescent city, and we are so FULL. full of the life energy that is there in new orleans, filled with wonderful family, filled with tasty food, and of course, filled with beautiful music from the clubs of NOLA and JazzFest.

we were only in town for something like 48 hours, and besides checking in on the fun little tool i build for offbeat magazine, we were there to see some of alli's family, and see jazzfest. we got there on friday and got a quick tour/re-orientation of the french quarter. got a tasty muffalata (sp?) and some coffee & beignets at cafe du monde. a quick wander around jackson square, and then off home to alli's dad's cousins' home. next was a poignant tour of the late cousin's artwork (here, here, and here) that is all around the house, keeping daniel's energy present in such a deep and present way.
our first show set the bar pretty high - terence blanchard. playing with a tight talented group (piano, bass, sax, kit, and terence on trumpet). great set, and we ran into our good friend simeon at the bar! he lives in vermont, so we had no idea we'd run into him.
after terence, we moved on to ray ray's boom boom room for some live latin music, some spins on the dance floor, then on to see eric lindell. wow. night one done.
saturday we headed out to jazz fest, and saw some great stuff as usual. started off with some healing in the gospel tent, moved on to the magnolia brass band to bring it close to home, nola-style, and then checked out the amazones (female drummers from guinea), the new orleans klezmer all-stars, and many more. and did i forget the food? oh hell no. we ate and ate and ate. some crawfish sacks, some of this spinach, chicken, plantain platter that i remembered from '00 and '01, and more. we closed out the day seeing simeon perform with the dartmouth gospel group. excellent!
back home for a quick shower, then off on the town. tried to catch jonathan batiste, but got there too early, so we headed off to frenchman street, and instead heard one of the most amazing voices i've heard - john boutte at dba's.
then off to the house of blues to see lucinda williams, and back to frenchmans to see trombone shorty and his krewe of talented youngsters (see some moving video of troy - aka trombone shorty - here - there is also a great FREE mp3 download of troy's o holy night).
finally, back to see jonathan batiste for a little bit at the little private-ish party, and then back home.
and this morning up to get on the plane and get back here.
so, i can't really believe all this happened in such a short period. and i haven't really even got into the katrina aftermath . . . which was not that apparent on the surface, but ever present, especially if you dug a little, or just opened your ears/eyes to the changes apparent. more on this later, but now, off to bed, to fill up on the sleep which is the only thing on empty after this weekend.

Monday, April 23, 2007

david byrne's take . ..

David Bynre write a bit about his set with Forro in the Dark on his blog here. . . . i wrote about this show from my side a bit earlier, and of course, since i found his blog, and since he has been quoted as saying that calabash is his favorite download site, of course, love is being given. . .

Thursday, April 05, 2007

payola - digital style

> New Music Business Briefing - Apple Paid EMI $5M, Auto iPod Use Soars & More

>>> is reporting that Apple paid EMI a $5 million advance to be the first to sell their
> tracks DRM free. Will other services be required to pay advances and how will it effect
> DRM-free momentum?

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. wow. so DRM can be removed for the low low price of $5 Mill?!? and the artists on EMI are getting how much of this? right. $0.00

jeezus. not really surprising, but still, this is gall. this is payola, straight up. big player pays big player to keep general public appeased, but small guys (artists, fans) still get screwed.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

interesting take on DRM ditch by EMI

found this in another blog -

> Combined, independent labels have twice EMI's US market share.
> Yeah, I know: that's a lot of combining, but two big reasons _artists_
> have scoffed at iTunes are low-quality and DRM.

> With those matters settled, it'll be fascinating to watch how deals evolve.
> My suspicion is that _indie_ sales spikes on iTunes may be what
> convinces the other majors to get into the game.

I think he's right. The driving forces in the market now are artists, indies, and customers. The driving force is not the major labels. All of us in the game are trying to figure out how to serve these 3 masters, and if the majors want to be part of this, then great. If not, then we'll keep on moving without them . . .

there is also some info here on the numbers in the world music market:

If I Could Play an Instrument

[thanks for the forward dad]

An award-winning article (reprinted in the International Musician) worth reading:

If I Could Play an Instrument
by Brein Matson, Honolulu, HI

"If I could play an instrument … I'd love to play for a couple of hours for $50. Heck, I'd even do it for free, I'd just be so happy to be playing music. You're so lucky!"

Sound familiar? It's the voice of the uninitiated non-musician, the fan, the admirer, the "Regular Josephine," the "Regular Joe." They're right. We are lucky that we play music, but it's bad luck that most people look at our profession in that way.
We are professionals. We chose music as a career, we work hard at it, and we want to make a decent living at it.

Here's another familiar sound: "It's just not in the budget. Look, you love to play, why don't you just do it for that amount? It's better than nothing…" Or these: "Take it or leave it;" "It's great exposure."

Sound painfully familiar? It's the voice of the purchaser. The club owner, the restaurateur, the agent, the promoter. The sad thing is that the purchaser is in the music business to make money, but somehow, they don't want to pay the people who make the music that makes the money.

This article is addressed to the "Regular Joe's," the "Regular Josephine's," and the purchasers. It's also to us, the professionals. We need to think about this, and remind ourselves of how specialized what we do is, and set the bar a little higher in order to survive and--dare I say this?--prosper. Let's go with the $50 gig. Most of us won't take them, and people are surprised when we don't. But let's use that figure and do a little math to illustrate why we're not happy to play a couple of hours for 50 bucks.

"Two hour gig, $50 each, cash. What's wrong with that? That's $25 an hour." Hmm-m-m-m. Let's say the gig is from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., and let's not take into consideration practicing or warming up.

Start with the drive to the gig. What? Everyone has to drive to work! True, so we won't count the drive. Keep in mind that most people drive the distance, and then walk in to work five minutes early, grab a cup of coffee, and start working. We have to pack up the car with equipment (half an hour) and drive to the site. Unload the car, load the equipment onto the stage (half hour), go park the car (15 minutes), come back and set up (1 hour).

Let's say that you timed it so you had 15 minutes before the gig starts. That's two and a half hours. Add the gig, and you've got four and a half hours.

Now pack up. If you're lucky, and nobody wants to talk to you after the gig, you can tear down in one hour, go get your car, load your equipment (another half hour), and drive home.
Nobody counts the drive home, but when you get home, you unpack your car, and load your stuff into the house; another half-hour, easy.

That's six hours work, for $50 cash. More like $8.33 an hour, not $25 an hour.

Let's look at making a living with that same amount. To make $1,500 a month, you would have to do one $50 gig a day, every day of the month. If you did that every day, every month of the year, no vacation, no holidays, you would make about $18,000 per year, and that's before taxes.
Paying federal and state income tax, general excise tax, and full social security tax (no employer contributions), knocks it down to about $11,880. By the way, you're not eligible for unemployment or workers' comp, but that's okay, it's not really work, right?

Let's double that to $36,000 gross, which is $23,760 after taxes. For that, you would need to do two of those gigs a day. Two gigs taking up 6 hours each is 12 hours a day, every day of the year.
It's a simplistic formula, but it makes a point. The point is, that's why we're not "happy to play for a couple of hours for $50," even though we are lucky to be able to play music.

The next time someone says something like the opening line of this article to you, turn it around. Say: "If I could be a dentist, I'd love to do it for $8.33 an hour. I'd just be so happy to be able to practice dentistry. You're so lucky!"

I'm sure the reply would be: "What do you mean, lucky? I studied for years, and I still study. I worked long, hard hours to perfect my craft, and still do. My equipment cost me an arm and a leg, and it's very specialized work. I'm a professional!"

Just smile and say, "Me, too."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

DRM is dying!

It's happening:

EMI takes locks off music tracks
EMI entrance, AFP/Getty

Music giant EMI is taking software locks off its digital music sold via download sites such as iTunes.

The "premium" versions of EMI tracks will lack the digital locks common to songs available via many online sites.

The move is significant because most download sites currently try to limit piracy by restricting what people can do with music they buy.

Apple's iTunes store will start selling the EMI tracks in the "premium" format in May, with other services to follow.

Track changes

EMI said every song in its catalogue will be available in the "premium" format. It said the tracks without locks will cost more and be of higher quality than those it offers now.

79p single - with digital locks and at 128kbps quality
99p single - no digital locks and 256kbps quality
Album prices unchanged with no locks and all at 256kbps

Popular EMI artists include Lily Allen, Joss Stone, Robbie Williams, Coldplay and Corinne Bailey Rae.

Contrary to early speculation there was no announcement about music from the Beatles going online in any format.

The higher price will apply only to single tracks that customers download. On iTunes EMI tracks free of digital rights management (DRM) software will cost $1.29 (99p).

Itunes users will be able to upgrade previously purchased EMI songs and albums for 30 cents (20p) a track.

Fans will be able to buy "premium" tracks that are twice the sound quality of currently available EMI tracks.

Apple will continue to sell DRM-protected versions of music tracks, including those from EMI, for 99 cents (79p).

All EMI albums will now be free of DRM and at the higher quality with no increase in price.

"Consumers tell us they would be prepared to pay a higher price for a piece of music they can play on any player," said EMI boss Eric Nicoli at a press conference in London.

Mr Nicoli said the move did not diminish EMI's fight against piracy. DRM has been hailed by some in the industry as the most effective way to stop illicit copying.

"We have to trust our consumers," he said. "We have always argued that the best way to combat illegal traffic is to make legal content available at decent value and convenient."

Mr Nicoli said EMI was still in discussions with Apple Records over the use of Beatles songs online.

Apple boss Steve Jobs shared the platform with Mr Nicoli and said: "This is the next big step forward in the digital music revolution - the movement to completely interoperable DRM-free music."

He added: "The right thing to do is to tear down walls that precluded interoperability by going DRM-free and that starts here today."

Analyst Mark Mulligan, with Jupiter Research, said the announcement "changes not just the rules of the game, but the game itself".

He said: "It's a reflecttion that EMI is in a more difficult situation than the rest of the record labels - they have to gamble.

"It's the right move but it's a limited gamble; about 5% of the music market is online."

He said he expected the other record labels and online retailers to follow suit in due course.

"Other retail partners have to come to the party because they can't be seen to be offering an inferior product."

The move means that consumers will be able to move music tracks between different music players at will. For example, EMI songs bought via iTunes could be played on iPods and other players too.

Although this is possible today it typically involves converting downloaded tracks into neutral formats - which often means a loss of quality.

Other record companies would soon follow EMI's lead, predicted Mr Jobs.

Open letter

He said the more than half of all the tracks available in the iTunes store would be available DRM-free by the end of the year.

In January Mr Jobs issued an open letter to the music industry calling on it to abandon DRM.

Although DRM is designed to thwart pirates by limiting how many copies people can make of tracks and where they can play them, critics argue that it goes further than the law allows and punishes innocent consumers.

Mr Jobs said the move to remove DRM on music was not a precursor to a similar step in the video market.

"The music and video markets are not parallel. The video industry does not deliver 90% of its content DRM-free."

He denied that the 99p cost for tracks without DRM constituted a price increase.

"We are adding another product, priced higher, with more features, higher sound quality and hassle free interoperability.

"It's not a price increase."