Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Oatmeal's State of the Music Industry

This Oatmeal comic was so good I couldn't just leave it hiding under my, "In the News" section.

Click image to go to
Matt Inman (the 'Oatmeal' guy) has a particular knack for countering silly arguments with obvious ones in a funny way.  In this case he takes on the record labels' view that they are the God-appointed gatekeepers to all music.

Of course, the comic isn't perfect.  The last frame shows the consumer voluntarily paying for music, and although voluntary payment does work in many cases for revenue generation, it's not a business model the bank would accept if you needed a loan.

As has been emphasized here (and many other places), technological disruption has made music a free good and attempting to sell such a thing cannot rely on value.  The emphasis should be to sell scarce goods: T-shirts, concert tickets, physical media, signed or personalized kitch, etc.  Music should be treated as a promotional item used to drive consumers toward those scarce goods.

Matt's comic does not address that, but his own business model does.  He gives away all his comics online and sells books, posters and t-shirts for revenue.  I own some of his stuff myself :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

All's Quiet Except the News

Hi all.  I things have been rather quiet 'round here for a while.  Life tends to get really busy in fits and starts and this blog is an unfortunate casualty.

On the plus side, I still update my, "In the News" feed almost every day with hand-picked articles about Creative Commons, copyright, the RIAA's tomfoolery and anything else that peaks my interest.

Big changes are afoot for me this summer including a new job (though I don't yet know where), so I hope to get back to this blog some time in the fall.

Thanks all for reading.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Simply the Coolest Use of Tuning Pegs ... Ever

Trevor Gordon Hall performing his original composition, Outside the Lines.  Don't know what else to say about this video except, "wow!"


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In-Ear Monitor Repair on the Cheap

I am the king of wearing out all kinds of cables: microphone, instrument, power, headphone, network, USB, firewire - you name it. I can't count the number of cables I've destroyed over the years just by using them until they fall apart. I now make most of my cables from scratch, buying cable and connectors in bulk and soldering/crimping them together myself.

Unfortunately some cables are particularly difficult to replace - like the cables for in-ear monitors. I have three sets of Shure monitors of various vintages, and over the years I've had to send them in for repair at least 6 times - every time because the cables went bad. Now this isn't an inditement of Shure quality, as every other brand would likely fare the same given how much I use them, but it's a real pain that I have to send these things in for warranty repair every six months.

Enter Sugru, a moldable soft silicon that cures at room temperature. Here's an article about how someone used it to repair his Shure E4C earphones after running into cable issues, and another article on using Sugru for creating custom ear molds.

When I find cool things like this I immediately start to think, "What else can I use this for?" Things like:
  • Stress relief ends for cables
  • Custom molded bumpers for my guitar tuner
  • Color-coded caps for the knobs on my mixing board
  • Adding grippy-bits to guitar picks
  • Repairing the bridge on my glasses for that extra-nerdy look
  • Fashioning removable Elvis-like sideburns
  • Making snot-balls to gross out my kids

The possibilities are endless. Check out Sugru's site. They have a growing list of user-contributed uses for the product.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Promotion via Infographics

This morning during my usual coffee and feedreader ritual, I stumbled across this infographic and thought, "This is great stuff for my blog.  I must post!"  After a few minutes of digging (have I mentioned how Cheezburger sucks at attribution?) I found both the original source and an ingenious idea.

The guys who put this together run a DYI band promotion site - a decent resource in itself and worthy of mention here.  The thing that REALLY caught my attention was how they used the infographic to draw people to their site.  It's a beautiful piece of work and they're explicitly giving it away for free in exchange for linkbacks.  Genius!

So how can indie musicians do something similar?  It is in our nature to promote our music by extolling its virtues.  "Look at me!  I'm entertaining, talented and generally a good person so support me and buy my crap!"  Um - yeah - that never works, does it now?

The lesson here is that the indirect route may provide better results.  I would have never visited if it weren't for their infographic, even though it doesn't directly relate to the subject of their site.  Even before the Internet this type of indirect promotion worked.  Remember how much attention Kim Mitchell's music got when MADD adopted his song Go For Soda as part of their rallying cry?

(infographic and links below the fold)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stolen Content as a Business Model

For years much ado has been made by the likes of the RIAA and MPAA about stolen content via P2P fileharing.  The majority of this sharing has been done by random individuals with no profit motive, but what if someone figured out how to make good money on this stuff?

No, I'm not talking about Kazaa, Napster or any of the similar services that have used nefarious means to bank cash in the past (and some in the present) while standing behind the, "it's the users that are doing it" defense.  I'm talking about, who I refuse to link to 'cause I don't want to give them any search engine link juice.

I became aware of the situation earlier this week via a blog post by Matt Inman on his stupidly funny site, The Oatmeal.  It seems that Funnyjunk has copied his entire website and are using the content to make money on their own site by wrapping it in advertising.  Now that, in concept, is only mildly objectionable and can be mitigated by appropriate use attribution and link backs, but the shlong twinks at Funnyjunk went a many of steps farther to turn this into an outrageous violation of Internet ethics by doing the following:

  • Not a single bit of attribution to Matt.
  • No link backs to The Oatmeal.
  • Explicit editing of the content to remove any reference to Matt or The Oatmeal by either cropping or blotting sections of the images.
  • Defacing the content with multiple ads on site that's ugly as sin.  That's particularly insulting to Matt 'cause he's a killer-good web designer.
  • Stamping everything with their own copyright notice.

As Matt describes in his post, the buttmunches at Funnyjunk seem to make a habit of this practice, stealing content from places like The Far Side, XKCD, Dilbert and many others.

Since this was originally posted, the fecal fetishists at Funnyjunk have taken down a lot of the content at issue but certainly not all of it.  I'm still seeing a steady stream of content from the various Cheezburger Network sites, all with the same problems as before.  On the other hand, Cheezburger seems to have many of the same issues as, but that's another story.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Jonathan Coulton on Success Without a Label

Yet another podcast for y'all.

NPR's Planet Money did a segment with Jonathan Coulton on how he managed to succeed without a record label by leveraging the modern wonder that is the Internet. If you're not familiar with Jonathan, he made a big splash among the Slashdot crowd with his song, "Code Monkey."

My apologies for the ugly, oversized embedded player - NPR doesn't seem to have anything more compact. Scroll to the bottom of the post if you want an MP3 version of the podcast.


Fugazi and Sloan on Abundance and Scarcity

CBC Spark did an excellent segment on scarcity and abundance in the digital age of music including interviews with Ian MacKaye of Fugazi and Jay Ferguson of Sloan.

Lots of web and mp3 links below.  Even more on the episode web page.

Listen here:

  • CBC Spark Episode 149 - May 22 & 25, 2011 - web, mp3
  • Just the segment, "From Rare to Everywhere (and back again!)" - mp3
  • Extended interview with Ian MacKaye of Fugazi - web, mp3
  • Extended interview with Jay Ferguson of Sloan - web, mp3

Saturday, April 16, 2011

CMS 2010: Newworldson

The closing act at the conference was Newworldson, an eclectic soul band based in southern Ontario. Considering how they took the house by storm last year, giving the band the headline spot was more than appropriate.

The band also taught a class in the last session titled, "Fitting the Pieces Together: How We Write & Arrange Songs as a Band."  I'm sooooo kicking myself for missing it. I thought it would be a moderated discussion where the band would be asked the usual, "What's it like to work together?" type questions (yawn). Instead, they went through a process of writing and arranging a brand new song from scratch right there in front of the audience.

You heard right - a brand new song written in public in less than an hour. Wow!

Did I mention, "Wow!"?  This is the finished product as performed later that evening:

Newworldson - Selah

I also had a chance to chat with some of the band members backstage after the performance.  I'll talk about that and post some of the photos I took another time.

Here's a few other songs from the evening:

Newworldson - Commander

Newworldson - Do You Believe in Love

Newworldson - In Your Arms

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

CMS 2010: Gungor

The first act on Saturday night was Gungor.  Watch the videos, say no more.

Gungor - God is Not a White Man

Gungor - Heaven