Archive for June, 2009

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Music and tech roundup

June 30, 2009

A quick hit of assorted news from around the intarwebs while I’m around the world.

Band makes video out of CCTV footage. The Get Out Clause, out of Manchester, performed in front of some of the UK’s ubiquitous surveillance cameras, then requested the footage under the Brit equivalent of the Freedom of Information Act, and edited it into the video for their song “Paper” (that’s the vid, above). There’s some question about how much of it is from CCTVs, but it’s still a pretty cool idea. Also, file this one under ‘new business models’ – getting taxpayers to involuntarily fund your promotion efforts (via Hypebot).

Amanda Palmer makes $19K on Twitter in 10 hours. A few weeks ago, we mentioned Amanda Palmer’s online Twitter auction, and we totted up her numbers to report that she made more than $4000. She wrote a letter to Bob Lefsetz, detailing the auction, sales of the #LOFNOTC t-shirt, and a concert. It was a hell of a lot more than $4K (via amanda fucking palmer).

Speaking of Twitter users, apparently we’re valuable to the music industry. A new report by marketing firm NPD reports that Twitter users are heavier consumers of music than Twitter users on a number of axes: they’re about twice as likely to have purchased music downloads in three months prior to the study (and they spend more money), are much more likely to listen to Internet radio, and more. Ars Technica suggests that these differences may be due to Twitter users being tech-loving early-adopter neophiles, although neither they nor NPD seems to make any attempt to correct for household income, which seems like an obvious possibly confounding factor.

Hype Machine publishes names of bands who tried to manipulate charts. Hype Machine recently reported on bands (or PR teams) attempting to manipulate its ‘popular‘ page, and the efforts they took to limit this. But I thought that the most interesting element, at least sociologically, was that they named names: an alphabetical list of the artists “who[they] believe have attempted to manipulate the charts on the Hype Machine. [They] thought [they]’d publish this list to let everyone make their own judgments about quality, integrity and marketing strategies.” You can see the list for yourself here.

Who is the best band in the world today? The Guardian asked a bunch of musicians to name the artist they thought was the best in the world. Geddy Lee of Rush replied, “Describing someone as “the best” is something you do at school in grade 5,” which made me smile, and Rush would probably have been my answer in Grade 6 (not in sixth grade). He did eventually reply with ‘Radiohead.’ You can read the full list here.

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Off-topic: do not adjust your Internet

June 26, 2009

europe map

Just a  heads-up that updates to zed equals zee might be intermittent over the next two weeks, as I’ll be traveling in Europe. If you’re not already subscribed via RSS, now might be a good time (posts, comments). And, as ever, you can follow me on Twitter, where I’ll continue to microblog music and tech stuff, as well as the usual minutiae.

If you’re reading this blog, you probably care about the intersection of music, culture and technology. Interested in doing a guest post? Drop me a line at debcha at gmail dot com. And tips (the information kind) are always welcome.

Finally, if you have suggestions on cool things to do in Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam, Antwerp or, especially, Berlin, please leave them in the comments! I got a great set of suggestions when I went to Austin last week, and I really appreciated them.

MP3: Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express (live) [buy]

Image: Satirical map of Europe by Paul Hadol, 1870. Read more about it here.

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Threesome: Defending CanCon (sort of)

June 25, 2009

mountie

Last week, CBC Radio 3‘s online radio broadcast and their Sirius Satellite radio station merged their playlists and schedules as a cost-saving measure. As part of the merger, they solicited input on whether the joint entity should play 100% Canadian music (as the online radio did) or 85% Canadian music, as was the case for Sirius 86. Scores of people sent in comments, and in the end they decided to play only Canadian music, but to also reserve the right to make exceptions: for example, covers of Canadian artists by non-Canadians, or for Neko Case, “who is American, but is widely considered an ‘honourary Canadian.'”

But the whole issue of CanCon in the age of the Internet probably deserves to be reconsidered. If you’re not familiar with this, the basic premise is that Canadian broadcasters are required to play a certain fraction of Canadian content, as a way of supporting Canadian artists who might otherwise be drowned out by the bigger and better-funded American industry (or as cultural protectionism, take your pick). Many Canadian artists have gotten airplay via this support, and there are some artists (like Sloan and The Tragically Hip) that are superstars north of the border but who’ve never really made it big in the US.  When broadcast was the primary means of disseminating music and video, the CanCon requirements made a certain amount of sense (remember, something like 90% of Canadians live within 100 mi – ie within broadcast range – of the US border). But it’s not clear how it’s going to shake down these days. On the one hand, the global playing field is increasingly leveled by the existence of Internet. On the other hand, it makes it easier to follow, see, and support local bands. Tellingly, one of the reasons why CBC Radio 3 decided to go with the 100% (give or take) Canadian approach in the merger is because, in a crowded online marketplace,  it differentiates the station from the rest of the world.

MP3: The Flaming Lips – After the Goldrush (Neil Young cover) [more]

MP3: Ben Gibbard – Complicated (Avril Lavigne cover)

MP3: Neko Case – If You Knew [more]

Image: Ride On by Flickr user eskimo_jo, reposted here under its Creative Commons license.

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Crowdsourcing: Built to Spill and radio

June 24, 2009

built to spill

Two current examples of crowdsourcing:

Legendary PNW rockers Built to Spill (pictured) are playing the Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle on July 24th and they’ve decided to let their fans vote on the setlist. The Stranger‘s art and music blog, Line Out, has a poll where you can select your first choice of song. I hope that this will go a long way towards shutting down people who yell out requests.

Jelli.net crowdsources radio. Yes, real radio. This Sunday, June 28th, they’ll have the first of their regular slots on San Francisco’s Live 105. For two hours, starting at 10 pm PST, it’ll be an experiment in the real-time crowdsourcing of radio. You can go to the website and vote on songs to be played, and you can even band together with other listeners to pull songs off the air. It looks like the station streams online too, so you don’t even have to be in the Bay Area to check it out.  (via Hypebot)

MP3: Built to Spill – You Were Right [buy]

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Seattle: Rane/Serato Scratch Live demo

June 23, 2009

not checking e-mail

Ever wondered what DJs are doing at their laptops? (protip: don’t ask them the question implied above). Mukilteo, WA’s Rane, who makes the audio interface hardware for the Serato Scratch Live DJ software, is hosting a demo this Friday, June 26th at the War Room in Seattle. There’ll be music and giveaways, and you can finally learn what’s happening on the other side of the screen.

(via Line Out)

Image: Buy this t-shirt and loads of other geek and electronic musician gear at Fractalspin.

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Watch: City Sonic

June 22, 2009

The City Sonic video project is a series of short films that focus on the relationship between a band and a venue. They premiered a half-dozen or so of the films at NXNE last week, and there’s several up on YouTube. One is an interview with Barenaked Ladies drummer Tyler Stewart about the now-defunct Ultrasound on Queen Street W and their residency there.* And z=z fave director Bruce McDonald did one on punk band Cancer Bats at the Adrift Clubhouse. Check their YouTube channel for more videos.

If you happen to be an aspiring filmmaker (or know one), I would love, love, love to see something like this for all the great bands and venues in Boston or Seattle.

MP3: Barenaked Ladies – The Flag [buy]

*Outing myself as a total dork: When I was a young, geeky, music-loving engineering student (as opposed an old, geeky, music-loving prof), I saw BNL many times at the Ultrasound, frequently bringing my calculus problem sets with me to work on before or between sets. Incidentally, if you think of them as just a novelty band, check out this early and emotionally powerful track.

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Tonight in Seattle: Mochipet

June 19, 2009

mochipet

Daly City’s finest dubstep/8-bit/IDM/glitch artist, David Y. Wang (better known as Mochipet) is back with a new album, Master P on Atari. While it certainly seems like his music should be a bit of a hodgepodge, it sounds great – glitchy and dirty and bleep-y, but with a driving tempo that keeps more than just your head moving. Check him out live tonight at the Broken Disco 2.0 show at Chop Suey.

MP3: Mochipet – Marshall Bass Stacks [buy]

Image: Mochipet @ Broken Disco, Chop Suey, Seattle, WA, 5/9/08 by Flickr user iamdonte, reposted here under its Creative Commons license.

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