So first, the good news, courtesy of the A.V. Club: Bob Dylan is putting out The Bootleg Series Vol 8.
This one — subtitled Tell Tale Signs — concentrates on rare and unreleased music from 1989 – 2006, and can actually be seen as a companion to the very first Bootleg Series, especially since one of the songs on Tell Tale Signs is another version of “Series of Dreams,” one of the more talked-about tracks from that first collection, put out nearly 20 years ago.
It probably goes without saying that I love Dylan’s Bootleg Series discs, even if they contain songs I’ve already heard, because not only is the quality top-notch, there are always surprises. I’m very much looking forward to discovering what this one has in store. Best of all, as anybody who has the Genuine Basement Tapes knows, there’s always more where that came from.
Yet, this time, there is a problem.
My initial reaction was you have GOT to be shitting me, followed closely by huh. that kinda makes sense. That’s been my chain of response to most everything about the online virtual world thingy Second Life thus far, from the basic concept to its immense popularity to the gazillions of dollars spent on it daily to the notion that for many users it’s just high-bandwidth cybersex to the fact that major brands are establishing a marketing presence there. That it even qualifies as a “there” is troubling, but according to consensus reality, it exists. And where people go, they will be sold to. Certainly advertising in video games is nothing new, dating at least back to the Marlboro ads in Pole Position II. The blatant promotion of cigarettes to ten year-olds (as opposed to the comparatively more subtle Joe Camel approach) has that certain early-eighties charm, doesn’t it?
So after a momentary incredulousness, I realized the lack of shock value that the allegedly beleaguered music industry (whose tolerate/hate relationship with the internet is probably the most well-documented struggle since World War II) is attempting to get a piece of the virtual pie’s very real money, in such forms as the imaginatively named Sony Music Media Island. In Second Life parlance, an island is the same thing as in meatspace: a mass of land surrounded by water. The owner can do pretty much whatever they want with it, allowing for the fulfillment of more than a few fascist fantasies. Rule your vampire clan while sitting at your computer in a bathrobe! We may not have flying cars, but the Future’s still pretty great.
Two big stories raced through Hollywood yesterday (though one was less discussed than you’d think). First, Sony Pictures Entertainment paid $65 million for a social networking site called Grouper. Second, Paramount ended its deal with Cruise/Wagner Productions. Neither of these things will likely affect you as you go about your daily business, but they’re fascinating to people like me.
The Grouper thing? Well, Sony had a few choices there. They could have built something for a lot less. A lot less. The technology is cheap and the video sharing market is wide open. Do not believe the hype about YouTube ruling the world. There is plenty of room for competition. You need to recall that YouTube is only now approaching its first birthday.
According to at least one major label, they are both!! It just depends on whether you’re an artist or a consumer . . .
I know that it’s old news that Cheap Trick and the Allman Brothers are suing Sony over download royalties: a while back, Kassia did an excellent analysis on it.
The other day, however, I came across a posting on P2Pnet.net (love that name!) that discussed this very topic. The posting had an excerpt from an article in the Internationl Herald Tribune that reminded me just how two-faced the record companies really are when it comes to this issue, and why you have to take it with a grain of salt when they say that they’re (all together now) “just trying to protect the artists” with their draconian download restrictions.
Way back in the early eighties, a revolution happened. Giddy with the power of new technology, motion picture studios rushed to release their back catalogs on the new-fangled videocassettes (and some on laser discs, but that’s a story for another day). They knew full well that this was a foolhardy decision, but with dollar signs in their eyes, how could they resist this new revenue stream?
Why foolhardy? Because the existing agreements with talent, from a participations and residuals perspective, didn’t cover this new distribution channel. With residuals, somehow the studios won and were allowed to continue to calculate payments as a percentage of a 20% royalty calculation. As I noted earlier this week, the guilds aren’t likely to take this forever.