Weird Al – RIAA Tool?

weirdal.jpgWeird Al Yankovic, who is to the song parody what Jerry Douglas is to the dobro, is at it again. The latest sacred cow on his barbeque is the nefarious practice of file sharing. “Don’t Download This Song,” he implores over a “We Are The World” music track, and here’s why:

“You start out stealing songs, then you’re robbing liquor stores/and selling crack and running over schoolkids with your car”

Of course, the song’s a free download, on MySpace, Weird Al’s website (both of them, weirdalyankovic.com and dontdownloadthissong.com). There’s probably kids at the mall offering to beam it to smart phones, and Bluetooth billboards being built right now.

The whole song is Yankovic at his snarky, irreverent best. Don’t mess with the R-I double-A, he cautions, because “if you’re a grandma or a seven year old girl, they’ll treat you like the evil, hard bitten criminal scum you are.” And if you decide to do it anyway, he wonders, “how can I afford another solid gold Humvee?”

C’mon, Al says.  “Even Lars Ulrich knows it’s wrong.”

Are you with me? DO download “Don’t Download This Song” and share it with all your friends. I envision a mashup of this one, “We Are the World” and the great Billy Crystal-as-Prince SNL parody from 1985, “I Am Also the World.”

Today’s Free Download – Asobi Seksu

CitrusEverybody’s arguing about sound quality these days. Paul Rappaport incited a Lefsetz flame war that boiled down to “compression sucks” on the one hand, and “I cut my teeth with crappy 45’s stacked on a mono record player that looked like a princess suitcase” on the other.

Even Bob Dylan got into the act:

You listen to these modern records, they’re atrocious, they have sound all over them,” he told Rolling Stone. “I don’t know anybody who’s made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really.

Interesting, since the Bobster (who I admire more than any musical figure apart from John Lennon) plays mostly low-fi records from 1940’s and 1950’s on his XM Radio show. But I digress.

I agree that a lot of modern records are often packed to the density of a fruitcake, but is that always a bad thing?

Take “Thursday,” the latest from Asobi Seksu’s “Citrus.” It’s stuffed with synth banks, a drummer that seems to hit a cymbal every time he aims at a snare, multitracked guitars, a house dub bass that slaps like a broken door, and no matter what I do with the volume controls, it seems to get louder. But keyboard player Yuki’s sweet, Blondie meets the Cranberries singing swirls miraculously over “Thursday,” and other equally dreamy tracks, like a Grand Marnier float on an orange blossom cosmopolitan.

The band’s name is Japanese for “Playful Sex,” which must be the reason Yuki’s bilingual switch from English to Japanese on tracks like “New Years” feels so seductive.

Sure, the waveform likely resembles a caterpillar conga line, but it’s atmospheric and hypnotic music designed to take your mind elsewhere. Something I enjoy

Citrus

Asobi Seksu
Friendly Fire Recordings

Consumer Coup?

sweeney.jpgAt a recent media gathering, Disney-ABC Television President Anne Sweeney lamented the state of her business:

“We all thought we were in charge of the consumer experience,” Sweeney said. Today, “it’s all about when a consumer wants it,” what device they want it on and where they want to view it, Sweeney told attendees of the Aspen Summit on Monday.

That’s an interesting,and typically adverserial, way to put it. What’s really happening is consumers finally have the tools to shape the entertainment experience any way they want to. Whether that means using a DVR to skip commercials, remixing a song or video or making their own content and bypassing the majors completely, consumers are running the table, no matter how many lawmakers the RIAA or MPA pay off.

In a now-familiar whine, Sweeney said, “Piracy is a pretty darn good business model when you think about it” – as if that were the problem. The fact that millions of netizens see a digital copy of “Desperate Housewives” 15 minutes after it airs is GOOD for Disney’s business. It’s the watercooler effect mutated into King Kong.

Let me put it another way. How do you think a DVD market for reruns came to be in the first place? Not due to some pent-up demand for the mediocre crap that passes for TV’s best work these days. People saw the shape of things to come. The industry had little to do with that awakening; in fact, if left to its’ own devices, it would have killed it.

It still wants it dead, so blind are they to the exponential growth opportunities it represents.

With that reality so clear, what else do consumers have left to do? Of COURSE they’ll YouTube, ABSOLUTELY they’ll fill the Internet with the content they want. If the industry can’t figure out how to make that work for them, that’s their problem, not one for our laws to remedy.

“We all thought we were in charge of the consumer experience,” Sweeney whines.

You WERE. You’re fired.