Archive for February, 2009

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Band Metrics: track your band online

February 23, 2009

bandmetrics1

Band Metrics is a semantic web start-up that lets  you track your band across social media. Modeled after Google Analytics, it’s being designed to let you monitor where your music is being listened to, shared, or talked about; the image above, for example, is a graphic of plays at different sites. While tracking online statistics is not quite as glamorous as, say,  hanging out in the green room drinking with groupies, Band Metrics is intended to give you the tools to track the dissemination of, and sentiments towards, your music online (since, if you have a band in 2009, you probably don’t have a manager excitedly calling you with the latest SoundScan figures).

It’s currently in private beta, but is scheduled to open to the public in a few weeks, once they sort out some kinks. You can register at their site.

Band Metrics

Via ReadWriteWeb. Thanks to David for the heads-up!

MP3: Bon Iver – Skinny Love [buy; Bon Iver’s Rise in Popularity]

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PSA: Please return Library Voices’ gear

February 23, 2009


[embedded YouTube video; if you can’t watch it, click here]

Library Voices had $10,000 worth of gear stolen from their tour van in Vancouver while on a tour of western Canada. The ten-piece pop collective from Regina (that’s in Saskatchewan) make a heartfelt and funny plea for its return in the video above.

Even if you don’t have any help on stolen-gear front, you should still check out their brilliant new EP, Hunting Ghosts and Other Collective Shorts. It’s a fantastic mixture of intriguing lyrics, pop hooks, and anthemic choruses.

myspace website

MP3: Library Voices – Step Off the Map & Float [buy]

[via CBC Radio 3]

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Threesome: Fuck

February 20, 2009

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[image: Kayfabe Design]

A side effect of the rise of digital distribution on the Internet and the concomitant decrease in the influence of traditional media appears to be the rise of bands with ‘fuck’ in their names. Fucked Up, the Toronto-based punk band, got a head start (not surprisingly, given the genre) with their founding in 2001. Fellow Torontonians (and z=z faves) Holy Fuck and Bristol, UK-based Fuck Buttons were both formed in 2004. Even Yo La Tengo has gotten into the four-letter-word act, with a live performance March 2008 as Condo Fucks, and an upcoming album, Fuckbook, under the same pseudonym (although it’s not surprising that Canadian and British bands came first).

MP3: Holy Fuck – Lovely Allen [buy]

MP3: Fuck Buttons – Sweet Love for Planet Earth [buy]

MP3: Condo Fucks – What’cha Going to Do About It? [preorder]

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This weekend in Seattle: z=z recos

February 19, 2009


[embedded YouTube video; if you can’t watch it, click here]

Some recommendations for this weekend in Seattle (which hasn’t been getting much z=z love recently):

Thursday, February 19th: Our new favourite local band, Hey Marseilles, has its first headlining show at Neumo’s. Doors at 7 pm. Check out the video above for a taste of their live show.

Friday, February 20th: This month’s Broken Disco, a monthly show by a collective of local electronica collectives, is the third Friday of the month at Chop Suey.  This month features a DJ set by Jona (Berlin; Get Physical) and a live set by Nutownproject (Berlin; Recode/Immigrant). Doors at 9; $10 cover before 10 pm.

Saturday, February 21st: Get your evening started at the Three Imaginary Girls‘  listening party for Dark Was The Night (which is terrific, incidentally). It’s at Moe Bar, from 7 to 9 pm. Then mosey next door for the AC Newman show at Neumo’s.

MP3: AC Newman – There Are Maybe Ten or Twelve [buy]

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The return of Muxtape

February 19, 2009

muxtape

Guest blogger Scott writes:

On Monday, the NYT Freakonomics blog reported on the return of mix tape site Muxtape. While the blog entry has pictures and content links that give a sense of where Muxtape is going, there’s very little at the website itself right now, although the story of what Muxtape was, and how it got to where it is now, is interesting. The major change from the original Muxtape format is that, instead of anyone being able to upload songs and create mix tapes, only artists with licensing rights will be allowed to upload music. On its face, that makes this Myspace without the thirteen-year-old-who-just-learned-HTML design dynamic (which might be sufficient, actually).  But, for me at least, the important aspect is this: “The goal of Muxtape remains facilitating the discovery of new music, and anyone can still create a mix from the music available on the site.” (emphasis mine) In other words, while only those with legal authority can upload music (the charter members include Amanda Palmer, Girl Talk, Dan Deacon, and Of Montreal), a user-created mix tape can include any of the uploaded music. That’s a fairly straight-forward tipping point business model—once a critical volume of music is reached, the ability of Muxtape to reach new listeners has the potential to expand drastically.

Even as improvements in technology have greatly increased the ease with which music can be shared and distributed, the technology of what-the-database-thinks-you’ll-like has been a huge step back, for me. I’ve never been a big fan of Pandora and its ilk, and much prefer recommendations with the human touch. The Shuffle function on my iPod hasn’t seen use since the first two weeks I owned it. While I don’t always know what song I want to listen to at any given moment, I do know that randomization (even based on a seed/relational database or a playlist of things I know I like) does a very poor job. Mix tapes, on the other hand, follow a path that someone has laid out, and if that path passes through something I know I like, then there’s an excellent chance that there will be other steps in that path that appeal. Mix tapes and personal recommendations from people whose taste I understand are generally how I learn about new music, and although there are many options for the latter, the options on the Internet for the former haven’t been especially successful to date. So the return of Muxtape is welcome.

On a related topic, the Freakonomics blog entry also includes a link to an economics paper suggesting that television availability on the Internet increases total television program viewing, even though (as would be expected) it decreases television program viewing on television. The models are sufficiently different that it’s hard to claim that this argument is generalizable to music, but it might help to explain why Alec Baldwin was laughing maniacally during the Super Bowl.

MP3: Of Montreal – Faberge Falls for Shuggie [buy]

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Roundup: Neko Case, Crocodile, Blogger, more

February 18, 2009

neko-case[photo: Jason Creps/NY Times]

A round-up of a few items that are either new or that I haven’t had a chance to post:

A long profile of Neko Case in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. The best part, for those of us obsessed with infographics, is this interactive map with samples of her solo music and work with The New Pornographers, The Corn Sisters, and more.

If you’re interested in the direction that music and the music industry is going, and you’re not already reading it, I highly recommend Music Think Tank. The postings are typically thought-provoking and knowledgeable.

Speaking of music blogs, Boston’s own Ryan Spaulding, of Ryan’s Smashing Life, was interviewed for this LA Weekly article about disappearing posts on music blogs hosted by Blogger. It’s certainly starting to look like Google (who acquired Blogger in 2003) might be violating its ‘don’t be evil‘ policy by eschewing takedown notices in lieu of simply deleting posts without warning. Ryan makes a  morally compelling argument: “By pulling down my post, they destroyed my intellectual creativity, the very same thing they’re erroneously accusing me of doing.” (‘erroneously,’ because, like many music bloggers, he is posting MP3s at the behest of the same record companies who are presumably putting pressure on Blogger to remove posts). You can read Ryan’s own post on the topic here.

There’s an amusing posting at Panopticist about Andrew Hearst’s experience purchasing AC/DC tickets from scalpers, and the role of typography and design in differentiating between real and counterfeit tickets. [thanks, Clive!]

Finally, Seattle’s Crocodile has a website! We posted previously about its imminent re-opening, and the first listed show is Hot Buttered Rum on March 21st. The calendar page is lovely, utilizing ‘concert posters’ rather than simple lists. [via Seattle Subsonic]

MP3: AC/DC – You Shook Me All Night Long [buy]

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Experiment: name-your-own-price merch

February 17, 2009

merch-table

Should you let your fans pay what they want for merch? Dave Allen, the original bassist of the Gang of Four, recently made the argument on his music blog that bands can make more money by not posting prices at merch tables and instead letting fans name their own price for merchandise at concerts:

My thinking here is that those fans that really like the band and are leaning towards buying will ask what the price of a CD is. And the answer should be “how much do you want to pay?” I guarantee that the answer will be somewhat along these lines – “I only have $4,” “I’d like to give you $10,” “You guys were great, here’s $20,” “I have no money.” You should sell your CD at those prices to all of those folks and give one to the guy with no money. They will never forget the experience they had and they will tell their friends that you are the coolest band on earth for doing that.

Allen argues that, on average, bands are likely to make more money doing this than by having fixed prices. More importantly, however, this approach either leverages an existing relationship (people who have money are happy to give the band more than the ‘official’ cost of the CD) or it helps develop a relationship. Here at z=z, we recently discussed the role of relationships in differentiating artists in a world where the music itself may be fungible.

While I’m not a musician, I know that a number of artists read this blog – please let us know what you think. And if you decide to try this, please share how it works out!

How bands can make more money by not putting a price on a CD

MP3: Electric Laser People – Move Right, Move Left [buy, CC-licensed download]

Image: From behind the merch table by Flickr user Brett L., reposted here under its Creative Commons license.