Archive for August, 2009

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Music, tech and culture roundup

August 31, 2009

long tail graphic

After a summer hiatus, zed equals zee is getting back on a regular posting schedule. But you probably still want to sign up for the RSS feed.

Catching up on some music, tech and culture from around the web and around the world.

Owen Kelly designed the graphic, above, to help bands visualize their fanbase, from casual fans to the long tail of committed fans. Click for a larger version, and read more about it here.

In case you haven’t been following The Flamings Lips, who played in Boston last night, they have an interesting model for music distribution: when you bought your ticket, you received immediate access to three tracks from their new album. This month, you received access to three B-sides. And finally, after the show, you receive access to an audio download of the concert. All nice and legit, with the cost of the music factored into your ticket.

Nina Paley, creator of Sita Sings the Blues, collaborated with QuestionCopyright.org to come up with the Creator-Endorsed Mark. It complements Creative Commons licensing, in that it allows distributors of CC-licensed work to indicate that they are sharing profits with the creator. Paley argues that, when fans connect with a creative work, they want to give back to the artist and it should be clear when they are doing so. Read a PBS MediaShift article about it here, and you can download the marks here.

Finally, you’ve probably heard that Apple is planning a proprietary album format, code-named Cocktail, which bundles together an album’s worth of music with assorted extras like art, movies, and lyrics, all wrapped up in a shiny DRM’ed wrapper. Since music lovers have made it clear that they aren’t interested in buying albums when they can buy songs they want à la carte, it’s not clear to me why they’d be interested in buying Cocktail packages – Apple’s sweetening the pot, but rather missing the point. But straying a little bit outside the purview of this blog, it does make me wonder about the future of DVD extras – when we are downloading movies instead of buying DVDs, what will become of all the additional goodies that filmmakers provide? Will they just go on a website to help promote the download? Premium content? What do you think about bundling extras with downloadable content?

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Sat Aug 29th: One Night Band, Middle East [Down!]

August 28, 2009

OneNightBand

One Night Band. Saturday, August 29th, 8 pm at the Middle East Up Down! Go.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the new bio of Sonic Youth and I commented that one of the striking things about them was how embedded they were in their community, the 1980s New York art-music scene. And Cory Doctorow made the point that, in an age of all creative works being just a click away, only relationships aren’t fungible.  So I’m really intrigued by One Night Band, a music event organized by Boston Band Crush. The deal is that 40 people from local bands get together at the godawfully early hour of 10 am on Saturday, are randomly assorted into eight bands of five people, and then scatter to rehearsal spaces all over Boston. The mayfly bands have to write and learn three original songs, and rehearse one cover, before they present themselves at the Middle East Upstairs Downstairs, ready to rock. One of the neat things about this format it is how it allows for the cross-pollination of local music fans – with any luck, it’ll draw a superset of the followers of all the participants.

Read more about the event here, here, or here, and check out Boston Band Crush’s wall-to-wall coverage of the participants. The z=z award for most honest comment goes to Henry Beguiristain of Aloud, who wrote: Am simultaneously frightened by and looking forward to One Night Band this Saturday. Should be fun and/or horrible.

Of course, One Night Band as part of the development of a local community in the digital age is only part of why I’m going – I’m also hoping to see some trainwrecks.

(Okay, well, not really – I’m hoping to see some great musicians do interesting new songs, leavened by some cool covers. But I do predict that there will be some entertaining trainwrecks.)

EDIT: No one is so wrong as someone who is absolutely sure they’re right. It’s at Middle East Downstairs, not Upstairs. Which means that there’ll be more room for you!

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This week in live music: z=z picks

August 26, 2009

RSL Aug 26 09

Winding down the summer with another great week in 02139. Tonight -  Wednesday, August 26thRyan’s Smashing Life presents a great-looking lineup at the Middle East Upstairs, with Larcenist, Static of the Gods, The Shondes and Ian Adams. Full details at RSL, including lots of pictures and songs to download.

On Thursday night, we’ll be heading back to the Middle East Up to see The Lights Out, The Future Everybody‘s debut showing (featuring bassist Matthew Girard, who really gets around), Golden Bloom, and Gene Dante and the Future Starlets, who I’m especially looking forward to checking out after watching their Michael Pope-directed and distinctly NSFW video for ‘C Star’ (hint: it’s not actually about starfish)

Thinking of  giving Plushgun‘s indie-electro a go on Friday night, not least because The Main Drag is one of the supporting acts.

Finally, Saturday is the long-awaited One Night Band! We’ll have more on this later in the week, but you should go buy your tickets now. Yes, now.

MP3: Static of the Gods – Talk You Down [unreleased track via RSL]

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Why I don’t buy DRMed music

August 24, 2009


www.toothpastefordinner.com

It’s only a matter of time.

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Read: The Indie Rock Coloring Book

August 14, 2009

indie coloring book

Okay, maybe that should be ‘Color,’ not ‘Read,’ as we take a break from our serious-verging-on-academic commentary. Just got my copy of The Indie Rock Coloring Book, from Montreal’s Yellow Bird Project, who work with artists raise money for charity. It has beautifully whimsical illustrations by Andy J. Miller to color, and is replete with activities to amuse small children, such as “Find all the birds in Devendra‘s beard and color them yellow.” and “See what’s written in the stars by connecting them to one another!” Of course, there are jokes that are pretty much for grown-ups, such as a maze with the instructions, “Help Kevin Drew avoid the ladies, Brendan Canning miss the wall, and Feist dodge the million-dollar solo contracts so they can reunite for a new Broken Social Scene record!”

Buy a copy for the indie rock-loving child (or parent) in your life here.

MP3: Devendra Banhart – I Feel Just Like A Child (extended mix) [buy]

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A quick round-up

August 8, 2009

Joel Tenenbaum

Still no internet at home, so instead of mainlining information, I’m getting methadone through my phone and the occasional infusion at Diesel. Back on a regular schedule shortly, but here’s some of what I’ve been squeezing through the needle:

In case you’ve missed it, Boston physics student Joel Tenenbaum (pictured above) is blogging his trial, defending himself against a $4.5 million lawsuit from the RIAA (parts one and two, at the Guardian Music Blog). Also, who gets the money the RIAA collects from filesharers? Not the indies.

Music Machinery had made me really excited about Spotify even before they had an iPhone app, so I’m latching onto rumours that they may be coming to the US.

On the agenda: checking out MTraks, which is billing itself as a indie-oriented eMusic alternative after the Sony debacle (and boy, the word on the transition was not good).

There’s a new website out of England called GigPay, for electronic performance contracts - the performer and the venue draw up a contract, the venue puts funds in escrow, and the performer is paid after the gig, and GigPay takes a small per-transaction cut. I’ve heard a bunch of horror stories from bands, and it seems like it would be a useful way for a venue to create, track and pay performance contracts (since you can do it by bank transfer or credit card, not just cash or cheque). But it also seems like there would be a big network effect hump to get over. Artists, others – what do you think?


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There’s no place like home

August 5, 2009

ruby-slippers

Zed equals zee is back in 02139, hurrah! Postings will be light this week, thanks to Verizon deciding they need an entire week to turn the phone service on in my apartment, but I’m psyched to return to a bunch of zed equals zee local faves doing live shows. Tomorrow night (Thursday, August 6th), The Main Drag [myspace] is headlining at the Middle East Upstairs, and The Lights Out are playing with The Divorced at TT the Bear‘s (and if you’re looking for a few seconds of fame, The Lights Out will be shooting a music video at the gig). And on Saturday night, The Motion Sick will be part of the Third Annual 08.08 Party, also at the Middle East Up. And there’s a bunch of shows on my calendar for the second  half of the month (like Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling and Gene Dante and the Future Starlets). And I’m really, really looking forward to the musical and community experience  of One Night Band, presented by Boston Band Crush, on August 29. It’s good to be home!

MP3: The Lights Out – Miss Fortune [download EP]

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