The Death of CD (Uccello Project’s take on it)

According to CD Baby: “Over 70% of the music-buying public still prefers to purchase physical CDs, and most music journalists won’t write about your act unless you’ve sent them a professional-grade disc.”

Nowadays there’s sooo much room for innovation. It seems to be that each artist needs to figure out what works best with their audience. There is no ‘new model’ that everyone’s going to embrace, though we all keep trying 🙂 I like Darren Landrum’s ideas about having various ‘bonus materials’. Sounds like a great way to have the best of both worlds. There also seems to be more freedom in the instrumental world, I keep hearing about ‘mini-discs’ that contain one long piece of music on them, those seem like an inexpensive alternative that makes it possible to release each song or ‘piece’ as it’s completed.

My basic feeling is this: Making a really nice physical product is even more important now, in the face of all the alternatives, a CD (or vinyl or cassette) really has to ‘justify’ it’s existence. I know how I am, I download most of my music, and when I do get a real CD, I instantly dismantle it, save the jewel case for my own use (I run my own studio, so I’m always giving people discs of sessions) then I have a big box in my loft where all my liner notes reside, and the CD gets burned into my computer then stored in a binder, I just need to be this way, I have a small house! BUT, there are those certain albums where the art is really well done and the product itself feels like an object of art (there’s actually a Japanese theory that an object can acquire a soul if it is imbued with enough energy from the person that owns, or who has made it) and I don’t have the heart to tear those apart.

As I’m about to complete my new record, I thought about whether I should make a disc at all, or how nice it should be. So this subject is pretty pertinent for me right now. I decided to make this one as nice as I could afford, I’ve been working with my brother, who’s a fantastic artist, and we’re using a high end printshop (Stumptown, in Portland OR) we’re even getting the nicest paper we can, and we’re including a poster with the CD (when folded up the poster will double as an info/contact postcard) all in an attempt to give people a valuable product that will, hopefully, go a little beyond the ‘download experience’. Possibly in vain, we are attempting to create an experience where people will pop in the album, then look at the art as they listen.

As the music unfolds, they would unfold the panels of the packaging and the poster-they are actually designed with this in mind. We’ll see how it turns out, but we feel that it’s worth the effort to try and create something that is a work of art.

The death of CD – forward or back?

There’s been much discussion about the death of CD & the freedom this will bring musicians & this has got me thinking what does this freedom entail & what possibilities will be created.  For the last 50 years the vast majority of LP driven music (e.g. pop) has been constrained to 40-70 minutes of music consisting of individual songs which have no connection with each other.  That’s certainly what the record buying public expect & seem to like so why change.  There have been notable exceptions such as the concept album beloved of prog rock but really most music today is just a collection of random songs but does it have to be & I would contend that this has been driven mainly by the format they are published in.

I listen to a fair amount of classical music where there are standardised forms which often consist of connected movements e.g. a symphony typically has four movements which are intended to be played together in sequence.  There are song cycles, e’g Schubert’s Wintereisse which link together songs around a common theme or collection of poems, again intended to be sung as a complete performance.

Now the tyrrany of the fixed format has been supeceded is this new freedom going to encourage song writers to explore the writing of suites of music or is it going to be business as usual with the normal random collections.

Is Three Hours Too Long For A Concert?

It’s all kicking off on Twitter today, after a comment I made about not wanting to watch anyone play for 3 hours. Which in turn was inspired by people commenting on how great it was that Springsteen did a 3 hour set in Hyde Park. Great? I’d be reaching for the tranquilizer darts, and start picking off his band before he reached 2 hrs and 15 minutes.

I once made the mistake of seeing Bruce Cockburn on 3 consecutive days. I LOVE Bruce Cockburn. Def. in my top 3 all time fave performers, songwriters, etc. But by the 3rd gig, I lasted about 40 mins before heading outside to chat. He wasn’t any worse, it was just that I didn’t need to see it 3 times. Live music just doesn’t engage me over that amount of time.

For just under 2 hours, it can be the greatest 2 hours of my life. Beyond that, I get fidgety. Shorten that for venues where I’ve been standing for 3 hours before the band comes on. Lengthen it for ones with comfy seats, and add another 40 mins if they include an interval.

So, who are the exceptions? Who have you seen that played too long, who have you seen who could’ve gladly gone on for days?

The Power Of Music

In a week when endless words are being spent deconstructing the meaning of Michael Jackson’s life and legacy, This video provides a stunningly powerful example of the role of music at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Bant Singh is a singer and farmer from Punjab, India. His story is told in detail on the Wikipedia page about him. In short, his young daughter was raped, and he had the perpetrators prosecuted – the first time a Dalit (often refered to as the ‘untouchables’) had successfully prosecuted someone from a higher caste for rape.

In retaliation he was attacked, beaten and left for dead. His injuries were so bad that he lost both hands and one leg.

Now, watch the video – see if you can detect any bitterness from him. The evil against him just gives him fuel for more songs to inspire the poor. Unbelievable. Such a incredible guy. I heard about him through Vijay Nair, one of the most inspiring music industry thinkers I’ve met in a long time, and someone with the passion of an activist about the power of music to change the world.

Anyone want to attempt a comparison between this and the video to, say, Earth Song?

Michael Jackson Dead Aged 50

Wow, bit of a surprise this one. I didn’t know he was ill, or any more ill than he always appears to be. The LATimes are just now reporting that his death has been confirmed

A proper nutcase, and quite a scary one at times. But also a musical genius. When teamed up with Quincey Jones, he made some of the greatest soul/funk/pop music of late 70s/80s. His music went on the slide at the same time as the madness around his personal life became stranger than fiction.

Here’s a video. What do you think: Genius or just a lunatic?

The Death Of Myspace And How To Save It.

Hypebot just ran a story about Myspace Losing 66% Of Their International Staff, Including the possibility of scrapping most of their world offices (including the one in India, but not China as that’s a separate company).
Here’s the comment I posted:
Myspace lost it when they refused to update their design, to open up the data that artists had put on there to sharing, and didn’t bother trying to understand the changes in the nature of social networking that happened while they were spending their time shouting about being the biggest.

Myspace pages now look like Geocities pages – a sign of a naive time in the web’s recent past.

How to fix it?

  • Make the music player, gig dates and blog headlines embeddable,

  • make friend/follow asymmetric with easier ways to share music (maybe a ‘top 10 most recent bands I’ve dug’ plugin, with a ‘like this’ button on every artist page to feed it?),

  • allow blogs to be auto-update via RSS feed,

  • sort out the basic design disasters (include a proper design editor as standard ALREADY!!!)

  • make hooking up Twitter to the status a cinch,

  • oh and do a deal with BandCamp to make it possible to replace the music player with a bandcamp embed…

Basically, use some of those Murdoch millions to incorporate the best bits of reverb nation,, facebook and twitter. Or, alternatively, disappear. The choice is theirs 😉

What say you? Have Myspace left it too late? What do they need to do?

Mos Def’s New Album Released As A T-Shirt.

Found via @mattstevensloop on twitter – New Mos Def album to be embedded in a T-Shirt (link to NME news pages).

Each shirt has a hang-tag printed with a URL and a unique code allowing the purchaser to download the music from the album.

So c’mon, other possible ways of releasing an album? Let’s brainstorm!

Indie MP3 Sale! today have had a massive MP3 sale, with lots of albums going for 29p. Some great stuff, much of which I’ve bought.

But, there’s no indie stuff there, largely because none of us manage our own catalogues on there, so can’t change prices at will – CDBaby or ReverbNation or whoever did the deal, and we don’t get the vary it, generally.

However, we do on bandcamp, on cdbaby itself or on our own self-hosted MP3 sites.


This thread is for the posting of links to indie MP3 albums, which have to be under £3 UK or $5 US.

Here are the rules – read them or I’ll delete it. This is not a thread for FREE DOWNLOADS. It’s a sale-bin. If you’re on bandcamp and have pay-what-you-like or whatever, that’s fine, but if it’s just free, it doesn’t qualify… for now.

Add the link, a small description, then go and pimp the thread, so we all benefit. Hurrah!

I’ll kick things off with my 2004 album, Grace And Gratitude – it’s lots of people’s favourite album of mine, and is currently only $3.50 on CDbaby.

Click here to head over there and download Grace And Gratitude for £3.50.

Now it’s your turn… (after you’ve bought G+G 😉 )

ISPs & those troublesome downloaders – A possible solution

The BBC news reported that

“Virgin and Universal have signed a deal that will give the ISP’s customers access to “unlimited” music.

For a monthly fee, Virgin’s broadband customers will be able to download or stream as many MP3 files as they want. Continue reading “ISPs & those troublesome downloaders – A possible solution”