Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Elvis goes vinyl and digital

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

With high profile acts such as Radiohead (who has one of the ugliest web pages I’ve seen since I last accidentally stumbled onto a MySpace page) and Nine Inch Nails (a very nice website) trying out new song distribution methods, it’s no surprise that other acts would try out the waters as well. And of course since they are all ‘artists’ in one fashion or another, it seems that each has to do it a little bit differently from the last.

According to an article from Reuters, Elvis Costello will release his newest studio album on vinyl and will not press any CDs at all. In the package with the olde tyme vinyl record will be a redemption code to retrieve the songs via digital download. Yes this is certainly a new way to deliver the music. No I can’t see how it could possibly work out financially.

Considering that the average music listener more than likely hasn’t seen a record player in the past decade much less own one that works, I can’t see how this is a smart decision. I understand that the young generation today who has probably never heard of a record player before is not Elvis Costello’s target audience but I have to admit that I haven’t had a record player in the house since my Dad got rid of the old ‘Hi-Fi’ that also played 8-track tapes. In quadrophonic, I might add.

Sure I could go download the songs with that redemption coupon and I could then burn them to CD, but then what do I do with that big plastic disc with all the tiny grooves in it? Buy three more from the flea market and use them as place mats? Ooh… that’s actually not a bad idea….

So will not releasing this new album cut down in piracy? I’d say no. Like I just mentioned, people will just download the songs and then burn them to a CD to be played on a standard CD player. And once you have that anyone can rip it to DRM free digital files to be uploaded to the world. But does it matter? Probably not. The people who would buy an Elvis Costello CD are a dedicated (and small) group that will purchase whatever he releases. The people who go download a pirated copy are about 98% likely to NOT be his target customers anyway and they would never have bought the CD even if they found it in the bargain bin.

Now please, don’t take any of this as bashing Mr. Costello or his music. I think it’s great that he and others are trying new and inventive ways of music distribution. I like a lot of his older music but truthfully haven’t listened to anything new from him since probably 1994. With the exception of a few break-out songs back-in-the-day, he’s always been a bit of a niche artist. Of course that also gives him a lot of flexibility to try new things. And since I’m always rooting for the underdog, I hope he sees some success from this. I just don’t see it as likely though. Unless his fans just really want a new place mat.

Thursday is Rambling Day

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

So it’s Thursday and I’ve got nothing in particular to say so I’ll just say lots of non-particular things in a way that’s probably filled with run-on sentences and other such annoyances what would drive your basic grammar professor to tears or at least to increase the amount of whiskey in their coffee.  Sixth grade it was I think when we had a history teacher, a mean bugger if I remember correctly, that used to do very little to hide the fact that his coffee thermos had a friend named Jack Daniels living with it in the desk drawer (probably in sin) and we used to dread having to go to his desk to talk to him because his breath smelled of coffee, whiskey and who knows what else.

Have I mentioned that most Hong Kong locals are lazy?  Don’t get your politically correct feathers in a ruffle just yet.  If you’ve lived in Hong Kong or maybe just visited, you may have noticed that most doors to buildings don’t open themselves.  No they are opened by non-locals.  If you see a group of Asians walking toward a set of six doors but you don’t know which ones are locals, you can easily tell the locals by their tendency to run 25 feet out of their way to slide sideways through a closing door than to open one themselves.  I have even seen people stand in front of closed doors waiting for someone else to open them, and no their hands were empty.  In one case I saw a young woman stand and wait for an elderly woman to pass her and open the door before slipping through herself.  I’d like to say that this is not common but it really is.  You can almost see the locals lining up behind a white person (gwai-lou) walking towards a closed door.  It’s our job I think.  I’m fairly certain that if all the foreigners left Hong Kong all at once, the entire local economy would collapse within a day because no one would be able to figure out exactly how they are going to learn telekinesis fast enough to get the doors open with their minds.

Muzak is pretty common here and probably more common than in most places.  Muzak, in case you don’t know, is the music that plays in elevators and other common areas that are remakes of well known songs that have the lyrics stripped out and are generally recreating all the instruments on a small Casio electronic piano keyboard.  I was thinking about this as I was approaching the elevator in the mall my office is connected to, not in the elevator which strangely has neither muzak or music, but in parts of the mall itself and its a little game I challenge myself with to discern the original song before I move out of its audible range.  I’m quite good at it.  Today it was Phil Collins’ Billy Don’t You Lose That Number seemingly being gently played on an electro harpsichord/claviola one man band arrangement.  In the elevator in the hotel in Kuala Lumpur the song The Age of Aquarius had been so mangled and mutilated it took two or three trips to and from the lobby before I figured out that indeed they were talking about the moon being in the seventh house and Jupiter aligning with Mars and so on and so forth.  In that case there were lyrics… I think that’s what through me off.  That and the mix of raggae and new age celtic etherealness that made of the music.  Hard to say really.

Buying an MP3 player

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Does anyone out there have any experience with the Sony Walkman MP3 players? Specifically the A8xx series (link to 4GB model)? Muse‘s MP3 player (an older Cowon iAudio 1GB unit) bit the dust a while ago and she’s stolen mine. She doesn’t really care for my tiny iRiver s10 2GB unit because, admittedly, the controls are kind of funky and it does take a little patience and compromise to use such a small player. It’s the size of a standard postage stamp.

So I’ve been looking for a new MP3 player for her lately. Something at least 2GB in size that is of an average size and weight (per her request), durable, not too many functions and easy to use. Getting an iPod is completely out of the question because I am not converting my entire music library over to iTunes. Ever. So my criteria are that it has to be able to be plugged in via USB and be seen as a drive so I can drag and drop new music on or off the device without any need for extra software or file conversion.

So I’d narrowed it down to Sandisk, Creative and Sony and the reviews on the newest of the Sony Walkman series are really promising. I looked at a few at the electonics store near my office and out of five, the Sony was the only one that felt like a nice solid metal piece of equipment that wouldn’t crack in a pocket.

However, it’s still a relatively new product and not everyone takes the time to right reviews. So here’s where you come in: If you have a recent or current generation Sony Walkman MP3 player, please leave your thoughts on it in the comments of this post.

There’s nothing in it for you except the fuzzy warm feeling of helping out another person. And I’d really appreciate it.

Future of music quorum

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Matt over at The Onymous sent me this article on the future of the music industry from the eyes of five people with different levels of involvement in the music industry as a business, a culture and a mess. It’s a very long article but it’s very enlightening for those of you interested in music as a business. There’s some good history and realistic numbers that really help to put the hype and over-exaggeration of the industry into real perspective.

Update on concert

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Here are some of the songs that I can remember them playing:
Fascination Street
Friday I’m in Love
Just Like Heaven
A Night Like This
Love Song
Shake Dog Shake
The End of the World
Wrong Number
The Walk
One Hundred Years
Never Enough
Pictures of You
Hot Hot Hot!!!
The Figurehead
A Strange Day

And a WHOLE bunch more including some new stuff.  They had been playing for 2.5 hours when we left before the first encore. We listened from outside the doors looking at t-shirts as they played these songs:
Inbetween Days Days (Encore)
Why Can’t I Be You (Encore)
Close To Me (Encore)

And reading posts on the official site I see that they actually played a second encore as well which included Forest.  I love that song and wish I would have stayed for that.
Oh well, at least I got to sit on the bus back without people crammed into me.  That’s something.