A Barenaked guide to music copyright reform

On May Day 2006, Stephen Page of Barenaked ladies published The Barenaked guide to music copyright reform. It appears that yesterday Canada’s government decided to ignore some of its most famous and commercially successful artists, including Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk, Sum 41, Broken Social Scene, Stars, Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace, Dave Bidini of Rheostatics, Billy Talent, John K. Sampson of Weakerthans, Sloan, Andrew Cash, Bob Wiseman, a co-founder of Blue Rodeo, and Page’s own band, the Barenaked Ladies, by giving standing to rightsholders in the music industry who wish to sue music fans for downloading music.

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Gene Simmons: we don't have a clue

The Gearslutz.com hosts 35,000 producers, musicians, audio engineering professionals, and aspirants who talk about everything from high end gear (aka the expensive stuff) to low end theory (studio bling on a shoestring) to politics and serious social issues (as seen from the mix position). I believe that experience is the best teacher, and my own experiences have been greatly informed by the conversations and arguments I’ve read and contributed to on many of the Gearslutz.com forums.

This past week, one of the hotest posts in recent memory was started by this post containing this quote from Gene Simmons (KISS frontman and Entertainment Weekly’s Crackpot of the Year — Male.

[Simmons:] The record industry doesn’t have a f—ing clue how to make money. It’s only their fault for letting foxes get into the henhouse and then wondering why there’s no eggs or chickens. Every little college kid, every freshly-scrubbed little kid’s face should have been sued off the face of the earth. They should have taken their houses and cars and nipped it right there in the beginning. Those kids are putting 100,000 to a million people out of work. How can you pick on them? They’ve got freckles. That’s a crook. He may as well be wearing a bandit’s mask.

Doesn’t affect me. But imagine being a new band with dreams of getting on stage and putting out your own record. Forget it.

[BILLBOARD:] BUT SOME ARTISTS LIKE RADIOHEAD AND TRENT REZNOR ARE TRYING TO FIND A NEW BUSINESS MODEL

[Simmons:] That doesn’t count. You can’t pick on one person as an exception. And that’s not a business model that works. I open a store and say “Come on in and pay whatever you want.” Are you on f—ing crack? Do you really believe that’s a business model that works?

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What's your story?

Yesterday I heard Dave Isay promoting his new book, Listening is an act of love. The StoryCorps® oral history project began in 2003 in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. Since then over 30,000 stories have been told and recorded, and the stories broadcast weekly on NPR have become one of my favorite features of WUNC‘s programming. The stories selected for broadcast are as eclectic as one could imagine: an American citizen of Japanese descent describing life in American concentration camps, a pastor whose simple act of charity changes the life of a man and a community struggling with poverty, a prominent doctor honoring his unschooled-but-wise father, an old woman recounting how she first fell in love. But what makes the stories remarkable are not just the circumstances and not just the actors—real people in this case—but the way in which the story seems to draw life from both the telling and by the listening of the interviewer in the booth.

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Chamber Music Returns

In the What’s Up? section of this week’s News and Observer, correspondent Roy C. Dicks wrote a wonderful review-cum-article about a renaissance of chamber music in the Triangle Area. He begins by observing the extent to which chamber music has strayed from its roots:

Nowadays, chamber music concerts are typically performed in large public venues, such as Raleigh’s Fletcher Opera Theater, Duke’s Reynolds Theater and UNC’s Memorial Hall. There, string quartets, piano trios and wind ensembles play to several hundred to a thousand people, with the musicians on a raised stage, separated from the audience.

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Tom Dowd & The Language of Music

Earlier this year I attended SPARKCON 2007, a conference set to “ignite the creative hub of the South.” I joined two days of “ideaSPARK” sessions, including one that covered my favorite topic—combining open source and music. I made many great connections and gained more than a few truly profound insights about how to make my studio plans better.

One of the folks I met there was Frank Konhaus, and he introduced me to the movie that gives this blog its title: Tom Dowd & The Language of Music. I immedately ordered it from Amazon.com and then promptly left for a 15-day trip to Asia, but the DVD was on my doorstep—and dry because of the drought—when I returned.

After watching the video, I can only imagine that everybody wants somebody like Tom Dowd in their studio, using their technical knowledge, musical knowledge, profound humility and wonderful optimism helping to make the best possible records. I certainly do! But more importantly, I believe that the environment we are trying to create will nurture new Tom Dowds, not box them in or shut them down.

I heartily recommend to any and all that this video demonstrates the viability of collaboration between artist, engineer, and producer. And I will start to build a library of quotes from that video that talk to the specifics of the successes Tom helped achieve for his artists, his label, and all of us, the music-loving community.

Kid Pan Alley in North Carolina

My daughter is eight years old, and one of her favorite CDs is the Kid Pan Alley Nashville CD. She knows all the lyrics, all the melodies, and uses it as inspiration for her own flights of poetic fancy. Which is wonderful when you consider the mission statement of Kid Pan Alley: inspiring kids to be creators, not just consumers of popular culture.

I first heard about Kid Pan Alley while listening to an episode of NPR‘s Morning Edition on my local radio station, WUNC. Their motivation and my own seemed so aligned, at least when it came to introducing children to music in a cultural context. I loved the idea of soliciting song and story ideas from the children, and then as much as possible using the material provided by the children to create popular songs. I must admit that despite owning more than 1,000 CDs, at most a handful have that “Nashville Sound”. But I like Kid Pan Alley!

I’m looking into bringing them (back) to North Carolina and doing a CD with a creative commons license. Are you as excited as I am? Are you interested in co-sponsoring their visit? If so, send me an email and/or indicate +1 in your comment on my blog.