28 April 2007

Let people download

Something that has piqued my interest lately is how labels are reacting to the fact that people are downloading music rather than buying CDs. Some labels are reacting to this. One of my favourites, Distinctive records (the label for "Way out West", "Hybrid", "General Midi", among others) has embraced music downloads and I've downloaded several albums from there (if only they'd tag the damn mp3s properly). Thankfully, I can play those mp3s on any device as there is no DRM (Digital Rights Management) on the files. iTunes is now offering DRM-free music from EMI, so as an aside I'm glad about that too.

At the Winter Music Conference recently there was a big discussion at how music has gone from buying albums to downloading singles. Labels need to embrace this concept, or die. The kids of these days (it seems like I'm 50 years old writing this) buying music don't really know the concept of buying a whole album from an artist. People only want to buy the songs they want to listen to. More importantly, they want to buy it and listen to it now. The internet and iTunes in particular have made that an expectation.

Some labels have not embraced this whizz-bang concept of digitally downloading music. So when I heard that a label was dying because of "illegal downloads" I was curious. Here is a quote from the filter27 website, where I first saw this posted:

According to Herwig, illegal downloads of Dependent albums outnumber legal purchase by a factor of three or even five to one. "Money was always tight," he says, "and in the future it's only going to get tighter, because even if we were to continue to produce quality CDs, the rate with which they will be purchased legally will continue to decline. Each album released would represent an ever-increasing financial risk."

Herwig also points out that an unnamed Russian warez site recently distributed over 5000 downloads of one of Dependent's releases in just one week while the label only sold about 1000 copies of the same release in physical discs.

"A popular claim often seen on Internet maintains that the P2P culture weakens the majors and bolsters the independent labels. This is, we can assure you, 100% bullshit. Even if there are listeners who download first and buy later, they are clearly in the dwindling minority," says Herwig.

My biggest question was: did they offer digital downloads of their artists' music from their website? I looked around and was not surprised when the downloads I found were samples for albums that were available on CD only. Hey, no surprise there! People obviously want their albums but are not prepared to buy, wait for delivery, only to probably rip them to mp3 anyway when they arrived. The only get-it-now method for receiving the music was to download a torrent of the album. This hurt the label AND the artists.

'Dependent' records get no sympathy from me. They were holding on to an old way of doing business in the music industry. They didn't realise that or were too stubborn to change, and thus are getting all they deserve from their lack of foresight.

23 April 2007

Muse in concert

I am in a pretty damn good mood right now, having just come back from my first Muse concert. How can I say they were fucking awesome without swearing? Even from as far back as I was sitting I could see Matt Bellamy strutting around on stage and working that guitar like nothing else. It was awe-inspiring. "Supermassive black hole", "Knights of Cydonia", "Hysteria", "Stockholm Syndrome" were just some of the songs they played and I was lapping up every damn second of it.

The only bad thing was that they were a support act. Muse should not be the support act for anyone and I have, at length, complained about this to people. I guess I should be glad they're even travelling this far south into Florida, but I cannot stop thinking about what could have been. In this case they were supporting My Chemical Romance. Whilst I know a couple of the MCR songs I am not what you would call a super-massive fan. This was just proven to me tonight when after the adrenalin rush of Muse, I sat through the glam-rock of MCR relatively unswayed. The seats were comfortable at least. Some people weren't tricked by the comfortable seats though as they left the building after Muse finished their act.

A couple of times during the MCR performance I was suddenly awoken by massive firecrackers going off. I had to give them kudos to them for that though: their stage presentation was fairly good, with lots of fire and explosions and pretty glitter to keep the kids interested and me awake. It was sort of like "Disney on Ice" meets KISS.

Eh, I wish MCR's music had the same impact on me as it did to all the teenagers at the concert. They were all going crazy and that's when it dawned on me. MCR isn't aiming to be that great musically (and I really don't think they are), they're fulfilling a certain niche that emo-teenagers are craving: simple, emphatic, easily digestible music that doesn't do anything new but is packaged nicely. I think the best way of putting this would be to say:

My Chemical Romance: "The Wiggles" for teenagers.

18 April 2007

What's going on?

Things have been especially busy lately. I've been hanging out with my girlfriend Adriana a lot. Yes Mum, I've met the family, and they're absolutely hilarious! So things are good there.

I recently helped organise a "baby shower" (I use the quotes since it had guys there too, and showers as such are normally a female-only affair) for my friends Jessie and Omar, and I took pictures at another shower party for friends Maha and Matt.

Maha and Matt's shower photos
Jessie and Omar's shower photos