Archive for October, 2008

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Coverage: Built to Spill does MIA

October 31, 2008

[embedded YouTube video; if you can't see it, click here]

Wait, that headline sounds a little more NSFW than I intended…

Built to Spill covered MIA‘s ‘Paper Planes’ at a recent concert in Rome. I’ve heard mixed responses to it, but I quite like Doug Martsch’s ringing guitar. Check it out for yourself.

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Local news: “Seattle, City of Music”

October 30, 2008

Mayor Greg Nickels thinks that Seattle is not getting the recognition it deserves as a music city, and last night he unveiled the Seattle Music Commission. Modeled after similar organizations in Austin and Chicago, it has a twelve-year mandate to work to improve Seattle as a city for musicians, for live music, and for music businesses. Nickels has had a somewhat rocky relationship with Seattle music venues, having spearheaded some fairly draconian city bylaws, including asking for the authority to shutter clubs that didn’t comply (the City Council balked, and ultimately Nickels decided to veto the scaled-back versions). However, he’s recently proposed rolling back the admission tax at venues and providing city assistance to help new venues start up. Last night also marked the release of a new economic impact study; highlights include the 20 000 or so music-related jobs in Seattle, the 1.2 billion dollars of revenue, and the fact that about 40% of this revenue comes from sales outside King County, bringing cash into the area. Nice to see the Mayor’s Office step up to the plate to help Seattle get even better as a music town.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer article. Mayor’s Office press release.

Image: Music sign at Seattle Center by Flickr user jcolman, reposted here under its Creative Commons license.

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My Secret Playlist

October 28, 2008

I’m a total sucker for mix CDs, and you’ll never catch me sitting around bemoaning the death of the Album. So a website like My Secret Playlist tickles me. They ask artists what songs they are currently listening to, and then post an annotated playlist (you can stream all the songs). Recent contributors have included everyone from Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie to Donna Summer to a bunch of people I’ve never heard of and am really looking forward to checking out. It’s a great place to hear both the old and the new music that is inspiring artists today.

My Secret Playlist

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Music for the winter

October 26, 2008

Well, the days are getting shorter and the weather is turning colder. But for those of us who look forward to winter (and maybe to encourage those who don’t), outdoor outfitters REI got a bunch of gear companies to sponsor songs about the snowy season, from bands including Apples in Stereo (above), Eagles of Death Metal, and Seattle power-pop band Quadrillion. The best part is that REI is making the songs available as unrestricted audiofiles for download. The MP3s are up already, and it looks like videos for most of the songs will be up later this winter.

REI Go Playlist

MP3: The Apples in Stereo – (Baby It’s) So Cold

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Future of music, continued

October 24, 2008

This is clearly ‘future of music’ week in the zeitgeist. I wrote a bit about it based on a Boston Herald article about how Pretty & Nice met Built to Spill‘s bassist managing a Jiffy Lube in Boise, and I just stumbled on a Village Voice music blog post on much the same theme, this one focusing on licensing versus developing a fanbase:

Which is to say the model now is to completely bypass the consumer—whose thumbs-up/thumbs-down was once the obvious, inarguable standard of success—in favor of the television drama, the movie soundtrack, and the TV commercial….What is curious about this model is that it essentially imagines an industry future without fans. People will consume music the way they consume actors and actresses: as part of a much bigger whole, to be judged as such. Beatles-type fame is a casualty, although I’m sure these dudes have no trouble getting laid; so are about a million tropes, some good, some bad, traditionally designed to appeal to ‘music fans,’ a demographic that may well not exist in ten years.

So, to recapitulate: mobs of screaming fans – out; a modest revenue stream through licensing, direct CD sales, merch, gigs, podcasts, etc, etc, and yet more etc – in. Hmmm. I’ll have to give some more thought to what I think this trade means for both fans and artists. If you have thoughts, feel free to share them in the comments.

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Listen local: Pretty & Nice

October 24, 2008

Following up on yesterday’s post about the Indie Music Survival Guide, and how I want bands that I like to keep making music…

Boston band Pretty & Nice had a sobering run-in with one of their musical heroes:

This may be the most telling anecdote about modern rock ever: A new band with a seemingly bright future meets one of its idols – a guy signed to a major label with 15 years of storied records and tours under his belt – and he’s managing a Jiffy Lube in Boise, Idaho….

The bright new band: Pretty & Nice, which plays a CD release show for its new album “Get Young” Sunday at Great Scott. The idol: Built To Spill bassist Brett Nelson.

“We met Brett at the Jiffy Lube he manages in Boise.” said Holden Lewis. “I came out from paying and was wondering, ‘Who’s this guy talking about touring?’ The whole interaction was about 30 seconds long, but he came to our show in Boise that night and invited us to their Boston show last month.”

The article focuses how what it means to ‘make it’ in the modern music industry, and how the days of being wildly successful (a là KISS and their ilk) are pretty much over. Hugh Dillon‘s character in Hard Core Logo says of his bandmate, “Billy wants the models and limousines, while I’m happy with hookers and taxicabs,” and it looks like it might be all cabs, no limos from here on out. There are clear parallels to other media, and how they are becoming increasingly niche-oriented: instead of everyone sitting in front of their TV watching Dallas on a major network, we moved to the 500-channel universe, and then to watching clips on YouTube. Music seems to be going in the same direction – instead of relatively few bands that are massive and ubiquitous, there’s a complete ecosystem of bands thriving in a wide range of niches. At least, I hope that’s how it plays out; I really need to keep going to shows and buying CDs, Pretty & Nice’s in particular…

More Pretty & Nice: myspace website label

MP3: Pretty & Nice – Tora Tora Tora

[via Boston Blog Crush]

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