Last week Microsoft confirmed the name of its soon to be released digital audio player. It’s called Zune, and here’s what you need to know about it:
That’s What I Like: Robert Christgau
I first discovered Robert Christgau in the hallowed pages of Creem Magazine. It was nearly 30 years ago, and I was a music-crazy high school kid trying to come to terms with not just the two decades of rock ‘n’ roll I’d already missed, but this punk rock thing I was reading about, but not hearing. You gotta remember that, back in the day, not only was there no internet, there were no radio stations in Fresno that were playing anything more adventurous than The Cars, and everybody I knew were on a steady diet of Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Kiss and AC/DC. So I bought album after album without hearing a note; based entirely on what people wrote about them. That’s just what you did.
Punk Rock changed my life, for sure, but Creem was the catalyst. (And The Clash was the agent, but that’s another story.)
Since I spent every penny of disposable income on records, I didn’t have the money for a subscription, so I went to Thrifty’s Drugs (Tower Records wasn’t selling magazines yet) every day during the middle of every month because that’s when I noticed it would show up.
There was no doubt that it was just about my favorite thing in the universe. I devoured each issue, over and over again, month after month. And my favorite thing of alll was Christgau’s Consumer Guide.
Reaching Operatic Heights
For reasons I’m not going to go in to, I read a lot of press about opera. What with one article and another, I have learned that there is a lot opera being performed in the United States and that the concert halls that are home to opera companies are generally struggling for money. There seems to be a lot of soul-searching on this topic, but I keep thinking, “Who goes to the opera anyway?”
This is not an idle question. I know exactly two people who are opera buffs. When I asked a friend if he’d consider going to the opera, he took my question pretty seriously. “Maybe when I’m older,” he finally said. “Fifty.”
The RIAA and the Blogosphere – Like Oil and Water
Is there anyone or anything more universally despised throughout the blogosphere than the RIAA? Seriously, when was the last time you read something positive about the RIAA? My guess is never. Chances are you’ve read dozens of stories about the RIAA’s heavy-handed anti-piracy maneuvers, and even more that portray the organization’s leadership as hopelessly out of touch with reality.
The interesting thing about this is that the RIAA doesn’t seem to be aware that the blogosphere exists. If they are, they certainly aren’t taking it seriously. The RIAA comes across as being completely dismissive of its critics. It’s almost as if they think that acknowledging their critics might be seen as a sign of weakness. In my darkest nightmares I fear Karl Rove might be secretly running the RIAA.
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Graying, Balding, Is The Record Store Ready For Retirement?
It was just yesterday that Kirk looked across the street and said, “Remember when we used to go to Tower Records?” I stared at the garish ketchup-and-mustard sign and nodded. “When was the last time we were there?” He paused, paging through years of his mental calendar. Finally, he settled on a date, “A long time ago.”
We’ve been to places like Amoeba more recently, of course, but even that journey was a long time ago. Poo-Bah’s, an independent record store in our region, moved to a new location — we hadn’t been to the old one in a long time and unless Kirk is keeping secrets, haven’t visited the new one.
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Hyping The Music, One Song At A Time
In my lifetime, I’ve bonded with a lot of DJs. It is my nature, I think, to glom onto a voice. I probably shouldn’t admit this as it implies I’m a target for cult-dom, but what the heck? In my lifetime, of course, the nature of radio has been such that DJs are very much hear today, gone tomorrow. Their ability to rally a community is sketchy at best — did Rick Dees every really command respect? Howard Stern was/is as polarizing as he was addictive.
Because radio isn’t a national medium in the same way as network television, our relationships with with radio are largely local — this is, perhaps, why I reject the argument that blogs and services like iTunes fail to rally the larger community the way radio once did. Maybe we all listened to the same Top 40 songs, but does that necessarily a community make? No, it simply showed that when a lack of choice exists, consumers will either tune in without much enthusiasm or tune out, sometimes while the music is blaring.
The Universal Plan To Save CD Sales
Sometimes, you hear a story and think, “Hmm, good column material.” Sometimes you hear a story and think, “They’ve got to be kidding. Hmm, good column material.” And sometimes you hear a story and think, “What? They’ve got to be kidding me. Hmm, good column material.” Case in point: Universal’s big plans overhaul their CD packaging.
The proposed scheme was all over the news yesterday — such is the luck of those who live in Los Angeles — and goes something like this. Universal will offer snazzy new packaging with higher prices on new releases and no-frills packaging with lower prices on catalog product. See, ’cause it’s the jewel boxes that will drive consumers to the stores.
Tom, Thanks For Not Suing The Chili Peppers!!
An Open Letter To Tom Petty,
Tom, you still don’t know me, but earlier this month I asked you to not sue the Red Hot Chili Peppers for their purported plagarism of your song “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”
And once again, you’ve provided another example of your ongoing menschdom (menschiosity? menschitude?) by telling Rolling Stone that suing is the furthest thing from your mind:
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Hillary Rosen vs. the RIAA
According to today’s LA Times the RIAA is suing XM over it’s new device which allows subscribers to record up to 50 hours of XM broadcast on a portable player. It’s sort of like TiVo for radio, but it’s also the digital equivalent of what many of us did as kids back in the pre-digital era.
You’d think that the battle against taping music off of the radio would have been settled long ago but, as we all know, content is so much more valuable once it’s been digitized. Apparently all pre-existing licensing and copyright law must be abandoned in an effort to save content from
pirates consumers who simply want to time-shift and consume content on their own schedule.
The Real Reason iTunes Songs Are Still Only 99 Cents
Yesterday Apple announced that it has renewed its contracts with the four major record labels and that iTunes pricing will remain 99 cents for individual songs.
It would appear to be yet another victory for Steve Jobs in his battle against the “greedy” record companies. Or maybe there are more practical reasons the record companies backed down in their demand for variable pricing.
Buried near the end of today’s LA Times coverag is this tidbit:
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