Weathervane Music points to a new future

Weathervane Music is a non-profit, community supported production company, making music and video to support and advance the careers of amazing independent musicians. Unlike traditional for-profit production or record companies, the vast majority of proceeds from the recordings of this music go straight to the artists, which Weathervane Music selects. I first heard about them when Brian McTear made this announcement in June, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it ever since:

Hi all,

Long time no speak! I’ve been really busy putting together a new non-profit organization called Weathervane Music. In a nutshell we’re experimenting with a new model for how to fund and promote the work of great independent musicians.

Our main focus to start is something we’re calling the Weathervane Music Project Series. It’s a curated music and music-related video series produced for the web in which selected artists come into the studio (at no cost to them, of course) and record a song. The whole thing is artfully captured in hi-definition video, providing great exposure for the artist, some interesting material for gear enthusiasts, and a general primer for Weathervane’s mission.

Now NPR‘s All Things Considered has beat me to it, six months later as part of The Decade in Music: ’00s. NPR’s extraordinary instinct of going beyond the death and destruction of virtually all the major recording studios in New York City (Recording Studios Face an Uncertain Future) paid off by looking at the dynamics of low-rent Philadelphia (where commercial studios are also struggling), and discovering the diamond-in-the-rough story of an environment providing free recording services to a handful of deserving artists. But the reporting could have gone much further…

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The Jazz Loft Project

On December 3rd I attended the Jazz Loft Project book and website launch event at the West End Wine Bar in Durham, NC.  WUNC’s Frank Stasio, always on top of local goings on, clued me in.  It was packed, despite the venue being situated by LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY signs from all approaches.  Where else would Jazz fans congregate, if not in some well-hidden bar that’s so small you’d need three of them just to hold all the people who came to hear the music?

Needless to say I bought the book, got it signed, and have since met people who are on their third reading of the text.  I’m trying to save it for Christmas!

I look forward to the time when, perhaps 40 years from now, The Miraverse has become the definitive archive for a new collection of music representing a meaningful continuum of talent and community.

Who (or what) killed rock and roll?

Like the old man in Bring Out Your Dead scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, rock and roll continues to protest that it’s not dead yet.  But the number of ingrates willing to club it on the head, toss it on the cart, and wheel it out of town is mind-boggling.  There are so many villains to this story, but I’m going to focus on those that appear in two story lines from last week.

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Copyright v. Culture: Music Think Tank Followup

After posting Copyright v. Culture last month, Bruce Warila contacted me about re-publishing the article on his site, Music Think Tank.  I agreed to do so, and was pleasantly surprised to see 10 comments within a week.  That, and having made some more progress on The Glenn Gould Reader (edited by Tim Page), compelled me to write a followup to the article, which I reproduce here:

To the question “doesn’t culture primarily advance through people creating new works, as opposed to recycling old ones?” I would say the answer is beyond my ability to answer in a perfectly factual manner.  Since we’re talking about Gould, perhaps his perspective on the matter could be enlightening.  The article in question (from The Glenn Gould Reader, edited by Tim Page) is “Strauss and the Electronic Future”, and he writes:

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Copyright v. Culture

In the case of the written word, I can quote a few words from the latest best-seller and know that I am legally protected by the doctrine of fair use.  In the case of digital media, the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that no such fair use exists at all when it comes to sampling.  In the case of the written word, it is possible to quote and rearrange concepts as a form of criticism, satire, parody, or public discourse, but the record industry claims there is no such right when it involves quoting from their music catalogs.  In the case of the written word, it is possible to draw inspiration (and characters) from multiple sources and to bring those characters together in a new context to reveal new truths (or at least discussions) about the human condition, but when this is attempted with musical materials (such as Danger Mouse’s The Gray Album), the music industry demands no less than total destruction of all such works.

Whatever freedoms have been won when it comes to the textual world of the printing press have been forfeited when it comes to the digital presses of the musical world, which is surprising because both the written word and the musical sound are fundamentally covered by precisely the same law: copyright.  Why should copyright treat one expression, one media so differently than another?

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The Participant Listener

In the seminal essay The Prospects of Recording, Glenn Gould “explores the vast changes in musical ontology, phenomenology, production, and listening brought about by audio recording” (see Audio Culture, edited by Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner, pp 115-126).  The Glenn Gould archives have Part A of that essay online, but it is the paragraphs that immediately follow that have me most excited.  He says:

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Garrison Keillor plays the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC)

Polecat Creek Because we are blessed with the best public radio station in the country (WUNC), we frequently receive the best that public radio has to offer, live and in person.  Earlier this month, A Prairie Home Companion came to Durham, North Carolina to produce and broadcast a show at our new state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center (DPAC).  As I settled into my fourth-row seat, I flipped through the program, it was a darned good thing I was sitting down when I read these words written by Garrison Keillor:

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The Obamas transform the White House into a Salon

In the comic strip Doonesbury, the White House is an iconic representation of all that is wrong with America and American power, the ironic home of presidents who, one way or another, come to represent the very evil they have sworn and affirmed their duty to defeat.

First Lady Michelle Obama Candidate Obama ran his campaign on a platform of change, and every day the Obamas surprise and delight with the changes they are bringing, not just to American politics, not just to Washington, but to the White House itself.  Earlier this week, the Obamas hosted what the Washington Post believes to be the first-ever poetry jam at the White House.  Somewhere from his living room in Heaven, Langston Hughes is nodding in approval as many gather to sing a new song.  It is a joy to see what happens when we have a President who is willing to let America be America again.

And so we have a President who is willing to listen to both rhyme and reason, to both the arts and science.  And we have a First Lady who is willing to bring people with something to say, something to listen to.  What a change!

And so for one night at least, the East Room has become a Salon.

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Construction and Deconstruction

Michael Pollan Pulseoptional While I have been fairly diligent about maintaining my construction blog, I have neglected to blog about much else since January, which could mislead the reader into believing either that nothing else of interest is happening, or, worse, that nothing else has been interesting me, both of which are false.  But this past week, two creative works—one a book and the other a CD—were so interesting that I was compelled to respond to both in manifold ways.

Now, for the blog, how to begin?

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