You’d think that it would be so easy: as a wink and a nod at the audience for whom he’s performing, Prince does a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” at Coachella, a bunch of cell-phone videos gets put up on YouTube, and everybody marvels — for the eighty zillionth time — at what a versatile mother-fracker Prince is.
And, oh yeah, what a great song “Creep” remains. Sure, it would have been cooler had Prince covered “Karma Police” or “Everything In Its Right Place,” (especially if Prince had changed the opening line to “Yesterday I woke up, you were sucking my lemon”), but, all things considered, “Creep” was good enough, and the whole thing just becomes part of the legend of both artists.
You’d think. But, as it turns out, things are a bit more complicated. Which since it’s Prince and Radiohead, makes a lot of sense, since inherent in the greatness of each artist is more than a touch of madness.
A while back, Kirk wrote an article called “Prepare for the Worst: 4 Simple Digital Media Backup Solutions.” One of the options was the digital Music Locker at MP3tunes, where you could upload your music and store it, secure and password-protected.
This is not file-sharing. File-sharing is, of course, the digital equivalent of what music fans have been doing since the dawn of time: turning other people on to music they love. This is really the exact opposite: it is more akin to locking your music in a safe deposit vault, where only you have the key.
Apparently, EMI didn’t think so, and sued MP3tunes, essentially trying to shut down online storage of music for any purpose whatsoever.
Longtime readers of this site (that would be Will and John) know that there are consumer products to which we’ve never been very kind. These products include Microsoft’s Zune, anything from DuroSport Electronics and of course SpiralFrog, the major label-sponsored website that allows you to download DRM’d music for FREE! All you have to do is ignore some ads.
After first making fun of the concept, then making fun of the amazingly long time to market, and finally, making fun of the thing itself, I figured that I was done with ever writing about it ever again. Hell, I thought I was done with ever thinking about it again.
Until last night.
The headlines scream: “Universal Music Takes on iTunes,” and all I can think is “what, again?” Don’t they do that, like, every other week?
This time, I am told, it will be different. This time, Universal Music Chief Doug Morris is talking about launching a subscription model — reportedly called “Total Music” — that will essentially be FREE to the consumers. Which doesn’t at all sound like a combination of Napster 2.0 and Spiral Frog. Nope.
I will admit, there is what seems to be a twist:
The song “Sweet Home Alabama” is many many things: one of the greatest political songs ever written; the song that put Lynyrd Skynyrd on the musical map; the catalyst for Neil Young and Ronnie Van Zant’s friendship.
What it wouldn’t seem to be, however, is a song that would make people go, “gee, I need to spend my tourist dollars on Alabama. Let’s go!!”
However, the good people who run Alabama’s tourism agency disagree with me: in 2008 the theme by which they will try to encourage people to go visit Alabama will indeed be “Sweet Home Alabama.”