It’s shocking anybody is buying any music at all

It’s difficult to know if folks in the music business don’t know how much music is available online or if they know and are in denial.

By the time you have been to the download blogs, all the blogs that offer free downloads for promo purposes, all the music you can stream on blogs and on YouTube, rippin mp3s off videos all over the net, free streaming options, you can have a very rich life without dropping a dime on music.

Being a small independent label, that certainly makes for a more difficult environment to sell music in, but reality must be recognized as it is.

I predict that in just a couple of years recorded music will be viewed as a listener’s desire to support a musician, band, act or label.

It’s not necessary to buy music, even if you are an enthusiastic listener.

New Music listening Tuesday April 10, 2012

@@@ I know it’s tres unhip to purchase cds or even talk about them, but I did purchase some discs last week.

I bought Thelonious Monk’s Big Band and Quartet in Concert (Columbia, 1963)  It’s a five star double disc live recording from the early ’60s and I got it for $7.  I have most of the major Monk recordings — Brilliant Corners, Monk’s Dream, etc and this record stands right there with his greatest records.

Something about the Monk’s sense of rhythm and way he could play that way with other people will keep folks listening to him for hundreds of years.

@@@ I like this track off Matthew Shipp’s new record Elastic Aspects.  I haven’t loved a lot of Shipp’s music but I like what I’ve heard with this release.

@@@ I checked out M. Ward‘s new record Wasteland Companion.  I really like some of his early sparse unadorned music, and then I thought he kinda popped out and was side mousing towards the cheese (as mike watt would spiel) and this music seems to be in the middle of those two perceptions.

It’s a bit breezy for my taste, I like the stripped down music of misery and despair.

@@@  Amadou & Mariam: Folila.  Watering down a great act to get them to cross over to a larger audience is almost criminal.  In my world.

The good news is that they’ve made a ton of great African music where they are the focus of the record.

New Music listening Monday, April 2, 2012

There is clear path for the music industry to follow — the idea of buying organic, or locally produced or fair trade food can easily be replicated in music.  Supporting folks who nurture the music scene instead of exploiting it for short term sales, buying from small producers, and not buying from unethical producers would make for a big change in the music industry would really shake things up.

Of course, this would require changing our behavior and that might cost someone some money so it’s an uphill battle, but it is possible.

From the Aquarius weekly list which you can get here:

@@@  Mirroring: Foreign Body (Kranky).  A drone duo.  I like the drone arrangement, the reverb soaked vocals not so much.

@@@ Pete Swanson: Man With Potential (Type, 2011).  As a recording engineer, these are some of my least favorite frequencies.  I can see how folks might dig the extremeness of this, but it doesn’t work for me.

From the AMG (All Music Guide) weeky email:

@@@ Black Breath: Sentenced to Life (Southern Lord).  Razor sharp guitars and the caveman stomp vocals.  The drummer has this band under control and I dig that ornate guitar riff, it’s quite disturbing.  Not super black or sludgy, it’s pretty relentless and pretty listenable.

@@@ Carter Tutti Void: Transverse (Mute).  Not in the typical ecstasy BPM range, it still might be best if you’re drunk or high to get with this.  Minimalist throbbing beat, wambly sonic drippings heaped on top.  Not much in the way of melody, but you get some twisted mangled voices.  It clicks apart at the end, not a bad tune

My proposal to save the music business

Warning: This plan does not involve the use of the words units or paradigms or digital content strategy or platform.

1.  The use of mp3s will be for streaming and marketing only.

2.  The default format for the music business will be 88.2/24 bit .wav files or above.

3.  Music listeners will preview all purchases online.

4.  When they want to own a recording, they purchase the files and the files are deposited in their cloud account from the server of their online store.
4a.  Listeners will own those recordings even if they drop their streaming membership.
4b.  Listeners are able to do with those files as they see fit — resale is not permitted.  If some sort of embedded id number is put into the files to track ridiculous anti-artist file sharing, so be it.

5.  There will be a minimal monthly charge to stream and file purchases should be $5-7 per recording.

6.  If music listeners consume more music, the price they pay will drop or the perks they receive will increase.

7.  New bands with new recordings can sell at lower prices and older, more established acts that have paid their dues are free to sell their recordings at higher prices.  Prices for recordings can move up or down as demand moves up or down.  Dynamic pricing will be a part of the music business.

8.  Some sort of equipment subsidy should be adopted so that listeners are listening on equipment that makes their listening experience better, not worse.  Maybe increased consumption entitles listeners to upgraded music gear.

9.  A non-PR oriented music filter should be built into these stores so that new recording artists are able to develop organically.  The filter should not be centered either around paid publicity or fan voting — neither one currently works.

10.  Artists and music labels will put their 88.2 .wav files in one location that all stores will use to move files to customers.  They will received detailed but not invasive information regarding who is streaming/listening to their music and who has purchased it.  They will be able to get enough information to establish relationships with listeners outside of the store.

Listeners will be able to preview music and not be ripped off.
Listeners will be encouraged to consume more music as they consume more music.
Listeners will have a great sounding format that is easy to purchase online.
Listeners will be able to bring back the music business.

You heard it here first.

New music listening Friday March 23, 2012

No inspirational thoughts about how great the music business is today.

@@@ Duke of Straw has this Neal Casal as his favorite song of the week.  Nothing ground breaking but a strong voice.

@@@ Check out some ambient tape lo-fi from Russia’s Curd Lake over here at Russian Adults.  I dig the third tune, kinda haunting like that Mike Watt answering machine message on Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation.

@@@ Over here at Abeano Music you can read about and check out the band Virginia Wing.  It reminds me of the Mamas and the Papas, I think the chord progression is similar.

@@@ I don’t know why a blog that features acoustic music almost exclusively would be KickKickSnare, but it’s a whacky world.

Here’s a pretty straightforward indie ballad by St. Lucia.  He’s got a good voice, I don’t care that much for the song but check it out.

@@@ We’ll wrap up this week’s listening with a tune off Vijay Iyer‘s new record Accelerando.  I could have sworn I heard a riff from Michael Jackson’s tune ‘Human Nature’ tucked into this tune.  I shit you not.

New music listening Weds March 21, 2012

@@@ Back on the Amber Waves of Twang underappreciated records of 2011 which you can find here.

@@@ The Barr Brothers: Self-titled. I would call this orchestral folk roots music.  Good production, singer has a strong voice.  I think a lot of folks could get into this music.

@@@ Mark W. Lennon: Home of the Wheel (Vagabond Tune).  A more ragged voice and a more country feel.  More good playing, people who dig the roots music should check both of these records out.

@@@ Esperanza Spaulding: Radio Music Society.  I would call ths an album of jazz fusion songs — smooth and unchallenging to listen to.  She’s worked really hard on her vocals though her songs sound a little awkward to my ear.  It’s an intricate album, but sterile sounding.  More of a showcase than a heartfelt expression.  I will fully admit that I find the Esperanza Spaulding marketing show to be extremely annoying and it prejudices me against her music, but if it works for folks, have at it.

Read the AllMusic email blurb below and tell me this album isn’t aimed at non hardcore music listeners to make them feel smarter for buying this record:

Esperanza Spalding’s fourth album, Radio Music Society (a companion piece to Chamber Music Society in name only) is one of enormous ambition — polished production, sophisticated, busy charts, and classy songwriting — that consciously juxtaposes neo-soul and adult-oriented jazz-tinged pop. It employs a stellar cast, largely of jazz musicians, to pull it off.

@@@ Anti-Flag: The General Strike.  (Side One Dummy).  A revved up California Orange County punk/rock fhybrid.  Solid, but I’ve heard this formula too many times to get excited.

New music listening Tuesday March 20, 2012

@@@ I appreciate what Amber Waves of Twang has going on over here.  10 2011 albums that flew under the radar.  Don’t get all obsessed with release date.  I’m still finding great music from 2011.  I’d rather find something great from 2010 that I hadn’t heard about rather than some 2012 biscuit.

@@@ The New Familiars are at the top of the above list.  Their 2011 album Between the Moon and Morning Light is up on Spotify but they have mostly live videos up on Youtube.  These guys are happenin’.  No pretense, no marketing bullshit, just folks playing straight ahead roots rock ‘n roll.

@@@ I try to stop by Invisible Oranges when I can.  There’s a post up over here on the band Sigh and their new record In Somniphobia.  If you’re into the genre mashup these guys might work for you.  A hot stringy punk bass sound, some double pedal kick drumming, some epic proggy guitar playing and yer classic heavy metal vocal gruntfest.

I give them big points for waving the freak flag — they’re just rocking their own formula unashamedly.

@@@ Bunch of new music discussed over here at Music Under Fire.  All their tunes are embedded on the page so you can be super lazy and check out a bunch of new music.

@@@ Tanlines Mixed Emotions is not getting a lot of buzz as much as it’s getting a big paid for push.  They were profiled on NPR and if it makes it to NPR there’s a 95% chance there’s a PR campaign going.

Isn’t this whiteboy disco?  I think this is white boy disco.  So I don’t know what the wrapper says, but this candy bar is white boy disco.  It’s a decent pop tune, nothing particularly unique at any level as far as I can hear.

There’s a comment on their Youtube video page where someone says ‘This song makes me feel like everything is gonna be okay.’  Wow is all I can say.  I don’t want to be a downer but this tune is not going to make anything more or less okay.

@@@ The Shins: September.  Singer has a good voice, tasteful arrangement, really nice tremolo guitar sound behind the chord progression.  Sound A-, lyrics B-.

Serious and active music listening Thurs March 8, 2012

Each day’s listening begins with a spiel — that’s the price you pay for having someone working on the listener’s behalf instead of on the music biz/promo machinery.

I got some negative feedback following yesterday’s Hypem listening tour.  Apparently, the indie crowd is not too excited to have someone put a critical ear up to their genre.  I put out free jazz, and nobody hesitates to shit all over my genre so get your thick skin on because the truth is that indie music is king because of its organizational hyping prowess not because it contains the greatest musicians playing with unheard of originality.

As it was so much fun yesterday, on to the Hypem:

@@@ Over here at The Sky Report you can catch the OFFICIAL new song by Beach House, coming out on Sub Pop.  Or you can listen below.  It’s dreamy, it’s soft, the singer can at least sing.  There’s a nice segue in the middle of the tune, so there’s some songwriting skills in residence.  Overall, not your usual indie dreck and not anything to jump up and down over.

@@@ Onward.   Over here at Awkward Sound you can read about Loma Prieta.  Here’s a picture of the band — those Orange amps are pretty sick. I’ve never played one, but I’ve been at show that contained herewith said amplifiers.

As far as tuneage, it’s a hardcore meltdown.  I can’t embed the video on the the blog, so you have to click through.  These gents can bring it, I’m sure it’s a cathartic live show.  I like hardcore live over hardcore recordings, but this is a real band putting some muscle into it.  The drummer is the star of this band, in my opinion.

@@@  Over here at Oh My Rock, the fine bloggers there are on about Jessie Ware.  She is down below doing her thing.  It’s a solid B example of modern day smooth R&B.  Not what I was expecting, very professional, and not particularly passionate.

@@@  Over here at Feast of Beast you can see a video of Keep Shelly in Athens.  Before we discuss Keep Shelly in Athens, you can also find the Beach House tune posted over there.  What a shocker.  Is this our unbelievable grassroots blogosphere in action or is it the silent hand of the Music PR folks?  I’ll let you decide.

As for Keep Shelly in Athens, it is an indie electronic, highly synthesized thang.  I’m not a huge fan of this sound, but it’s a decent specimen of that now very trendy trend.

@@@ It seems fitting to end today’s Hypem listening fest over here at The Digital Outhouse.  Oh, my, I’m not even sure what to say here.  This is not my cup of tea, and I will leave it at that.

Conclusion: Another tough day with no great music in my pocket courtesy of Hypem listening land and I want to sign off by saying that I will give it up for great music.  I will buy it, I will tell others, I will blog it and fuckin tweet and mash it up and wipe the band’s ass.

Serious music listening Weds March 5, 2012

More time with Hypem blogs and it wasn’t productive time.  My hit to shit ratio as a listener was 1/2 out of 5 bands.  I kinda liked the first tune.

@@@  Would you like some alternative rock from Lovedrug?  If so, go over here to HillyDilly or click below.  It’s the best of what I’ve heard today so far and it’s a solid B.

@@@  Via Pop Goes the Radio here’s some new Free Energy.  The first album was extremely derivative and it sounds like they’ve picked up right where they left off — right down to the cowbell!

@@@  If you’re looking to get your indie on head over here to Music Under Fire.  There’s some decent tunes over there but I listened to six tunes and I did not jump up and down once.

@@@  Would you like some electro-house F.O.O.L. (Fuck Our Ordinary Lives) courtesy of the fine people Stoney Roads.

Put your hands in the air
put some gel in your hair
get to all those malls out there

@@@ Check out Casey Diamond — I found her at Ryan’s Smashing Life over here.

Check out the verbiage from the blog and tell me this wasn’t written by a music publicist:

Having appeared on last season of NBC’s “The Voice,” Boston’sCasey Desmond is the proud owner of dozens of songwriting awards and has recently enjoyed a string of successes; her work has been picked up by several television programs – she is clearly a player on the rise in the music world. Casey’s unique style and music combine her soaring vocal melodies, synth-driven electro dance rhythms & socially conscious lyrics with a retro yet ahead-of-the-curve fashion sense that keeps today’s tastemakers wanting more, landing her coverage in The Examiner, Star and Keyboard Magazine. Elements of her song and art have seen her compared to electro-pop icons like David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, and today’s dance pop divas like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.

Are you fucking kidding me?  I call this putting lipstick on a pig.  There’s nothing ahead of the curve here and there’s no socially concious lyrics.

I call this bullshit.

Hardcore music listening Tuesday March 6, 2012

Music Business Spiel:  You don’t get all the links without the spiel.  In the music business there is a hit/shit ratio.  Number of great records a label puts out vs. the shit.  There is a more meta- version of that concept at work for the listener. How much music that you do not vs. the music you end up loving and buying.  It’s my contention that the music business is completely in denial about this music listener ratio.

For example, I put 5 videos up today, and I like one, the fucking grinding hate, and I’m not sure I would buy it.

@@@ Carnivale: Magalenha.  Uptempo would be an understatement.  I find some Brazilian music to be tiresome, but not this.

@@@ Black Brew Bantha/Archagathus 7″ over here.  Self-described as fucking grinding hate.  That’s what it sounds like to me, and unlike many American out there I think hate is fine, normal human emotion.  Wow, fast as fuck, nice work.

@@@ Islands: A Sleep and a Forgetting.  Out 2/14/2012.  It’s a decent tune, but I’ve been hearing versions of this tune for just about my whole life. It’s not fresh enough for me to give respect — I’m looking for originality, and uniqueness and creativity.

@@@ Ruthie Foster: Let it Burn.  The album songs are much slicker than this video which is live.  Beautiful voice, a little melodramatic for my taste, but you might dig it.  I like the super plain, straight old school soudning folk/blues style.

@@@ Polica: Give You the Ghost. Poptronica music with a little too much delay on the vocal.  There’s a flatness to this tune — if you dig the beat you can groove on it, if you need more than a beat and a wandering female vocal you probably won’t like it.