I just caught the end of a "town hall" sort of program on telly, on which the topic of discussion was illegal downloading of music in Australia. The main focus of the discussion was whether Australian ISPs ought be involved in the prevention and discouragement of illegally downloading, and if them doing so would count as punitive enforcement or not. Much like in America, the music industry here wants ISPs to sort of "play nanny," giving up information about their customers and enforce a sort of "three strikes" program after which a customer will be permanently disconnected.
The thing that I found most interesting is that, currently, the ISPs seem to be holding back the attacks of the music industry in ways that simply didn't happen in the US. They are currently saying "no way," that it isn't their job to be policing the Internet or held liable for what is done via it anymore than the post should be for materials sent through it. In The US, this sort of step was pretty much skipped over via legislation; it was simply made law that content owners can force ISPs to do their bidding for them, and thusly they've all had to do so. I have no doubt that it will eventually be the same here in Australia, but I'm really encouraged by the rational arguments against doing so that have been made so vocally.
The thing that discourages me, however, is that the debate seems to have been sold to many Australian musicians as if the Internet is some sort of music dispersal medium like radio or television. They seem to think that, like as with the radio, the ISPs are selling customers the ability listen to music, and thus ought pay royalties for the ability to do so. It's discouraging to me because it does make a sick sort of sense; they ARE after all charging their customers, and they ARE (sort of) providing them a mechanism through which to listen to music. If providing Internet access is eventually designated as the same sort of service as radio and television, all sorts of scary doors will eventually be opened, so I'm hoping that this line of thinking is put out to pasture.
The one thing that all parties involved in the debate keep bringing up, however, actually strikes me as the sort of system I'd like to see. Everyone -- save for the music industry, natch -- is advocating a low-cost flat fee for music usage, kind of like the television license fees to which people outside America are already accustomed. The figure that keeps being brought up is $10AU a month, after which you are free to listen to as much music as you'd like, however you'd like to do so. Enforcement of this plan would obviously be problematic; it's not as if the illegal file-sharing networks are going to put in place some sort of authentication system to ensure that only licensed individuals can access them. People will clearly still be able to access music without paying the fee. Why then, would anyone bother to pay the fee?
What I would like to see, however, is for some enterprising ISPs to bundle this "all-access" music license into the cost of their service. If the fee is $10 a month, they could subsidize it down to something like $5 or $6 extra a month -- or even cheaper as an introductory perk. This could also be bundled with higher data caps (oh yes, if you're not currently operating under a data cap, you soon will be) to create another sort of revenue stream for the ISPs. After all, if they're now going to be legally downloading tons of music, they're going to need to buy extra monthly bandwidth as well.
According to the program I saw, studies done in Australia show that just $10AU a month would be enough to fully remunerate all entitled parties with compensation. I suspect this figure would need to be re-factored for use in the US, but I suspect most people would be willing to pay at least double or triple that for unfettered access. Some people already pay this much on top of their Internet access fees to facilitate the ILLICIT transfer of music and video, and NONE of that money gets to any entitled individuals. Surely a workable scheme can be devised.
A few days ago the muxtape guy broke silence on what's going on with him and the RIAA. Short answer: he gave up. Probably wisely.
As predicted, muxtape as you knew it is gone forever. There are, however, a number of contenders trying really hard to slide into everyone's consciousness as the replacement for muxtape. Favetape, for instance, is one of the most high-profile of the bunch. They've been doing a number of really cool things in the mixtape space, leaving me with little doubt that they're going to be the de-facto place people make their mixtapes.
Until THEY get into things with the RIAA, that is. Sure, their model does not involve hosting any files (which is pretty dang cool, actually), but at the end of the day they're generating referral revenue using content for which they don't have a license. They will get shut down too. Unless they work out some kind of deal with the RIAA -- which means you're probably going to have to pay to use them.
So where does that leave us? The best solution that I see right now is to install Opentape; it's simple, fast, and low-profile enough that your friends can continue to hear your mixes without the threat of some money-grubbers getting shut down. You COULD decide to go with favtape or mixtube or one of the others, but at the end of they day they're trying to make a buck off you -- which is the best way to ensure that they cease to exist. (The RIAA/BMI/ASCAP does not like it when you make money involving music. If your business even has a radio playing within earshot of your customers, you're required to pay them the appropriate license. Same goes for "on-hold" music.)
For the future? Hold on to your butts, for I've got a couple ideas in the works that may make mixtaping even easier with less risk of being shut down. If I have such ideas, you can be sure OTHER people do as well, which will make up for the fact that I'm notorious for getting all excited about a project and then completely abandoning it after very little of the work has been done.
In the meantime, though: seriously check out Opentape.
A few days ago, I got my hands on a pre-release copy of Metallica's latest album, "Death Magnetic."
Now, I was once a pretty hardcore Metallica fan; in my youth preferring the "Master of Puppets"-era sound, my taste eventually maturing to find the "Load" sound to be preferable. After that live album they recorded with the SF symphony and Michael Kamen, as well as the all-covers album, I was really excited to hear a new studio album, because the songwriting on the new songs from the symphony show was really fantastic -- and the band had never sounded better on the covers album.
Sadly they kind of lost me with the eventual release of "St. Anger." After a considerable amount of time, I did come to find a couple of the songs on that album tolerable, but my overall disappointment in them not sounding like I expected was kind of a downer.
It was with that disappointment in mind that I hesitantly decided to give "Death Magnetic" listen. I'm really glad I did, because over the last couple days I've found the album to be really fantastic. Nobody is more surprised than me at that fact. Many of the songs have really catchy grooves and riffs, really earworming themselves into my head.
I've picked my three favorite of the songs from the album and popped them into my Opentape installation (which I've been adding features to) for your listening pleasure. It's with hope that other disheartened fans -- and perhaps some newcomers as well -- might give the album the fair chance it really deserves.
Oh, and please don't go linking to this. I just want to share some great music with my friends and promote the album -- not get sued by Metallica :) If you like what you hear, the album comes out on Sept. 12th.
1) muxtape is kind of addicting. I've crafted another muxtape for your listening pleasure. It is nothing like the other one: nyquildotorg.muxtape.com. In addition, I've also used muxtape to share with the world one of my favorite out-of-print albums: nakednaked.muxtape.com.
Having just been introduced to the dubious legality of muxtape.com, I decided to see if I could make it a bit more useful. I've been meaning to play around with greasemonkey again since it'd been a couple years since I had, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
I found a script at userscripts.org that generates 'download' links for each of the songs on any muxtape page, then added to it the ability to generate an m3u (playlist file) which you can click to stream all the songs in your audio player of choice. No more having to leave a browser page open just to listen to muxtapes. No more having Flash take down your browser. Awesome.
If you'd like to add this functionality to your muxtape experience, simply install Greasemonkey (or whatever IE/Opera plugin does the same thing) and head over and install muxtape downloader / m3u enabler from UserScripts.org.
If you've not seen muxtape before, head on over and listen to my first attempt at online mixtapery: nyquildotorg.muxtape.com
(Is there any interest in enabling 'podcast' functionality to your muxtapes, allowing people to subscribe to them in iTunes/whatever and have them auto-download?)
A few days ago Emalyse posted a little sonic doodle she had made, reminding me that I had been meaning to try to record some of the sonic doodling the Nintendo DS game Elektroplankton allows you to create. The thing that's fun about the game is that you just sort of click around on things and it effortlessly turns those clicks into "music." Most of the different modes have pretty unsatisfactory results, but my favorite works rather well. It consists of a grid full off arrows and 4 different plankton that each make their own sets of noises as they follow the arrows. By changing the direction of the arrows you can cause them to go into different loops, drastically changing the "song" that it makes.
That (awesome) video shows how Maynard James Keenan incorporated a Fibonacci sequence into the TOOL song (and album) Lateralus, using the spiral it defines to to add meaning to the song (and his philosophy). It blew my mind. Now I wonder just what else Maynard has nestled into the music I love...
I've been wanting to try my hand at creating electronic music on my computer for years, but, having made the decision over 10 years ago to limit myself to free open-source software (including operating systems), there hasn't really been many tools to suit my very limited knowledge in this area. There are apparently several really good tracker/sequencer applications available, but I'm apparently too stupid and non-musical to operate them.
This morning I decided once and for all that I was going to try to make something vaguely resembling music, and that I was going to do it entirely with Audacity. The following (really shabby) "composition" is made entirely from the first 11 seconds of the Guns and Roses song Sweet Child of Mine, mangled and manipulated with a whole slew of Audacity plugins. Audacity is a lot clunkier than I'd like, meaning it's pretty difficult to get tracks lined up perfectly, so there's a lot of trainwrecking here and there, but I'm relatively pleased with it as a first attempt. I do realize that this is just several looping samples over top each other, and that I'm not really "composing" anything here; I'm mainly just trying to get the feel for Audacity and working with multiple tracks.
i've been a fairly regular listener of radioparadise for several years. i really like hearing all sorts of songs ive eithr never heard before, or just not in a long time. the thing i like best is that they play songs from new albums that arent singles. while commercial radio beats each single to a pulp, radioparadise keeps things fresh.
anyway, in the last few weeks ive heard this song several times:
it reminded me of another song so much that i actually thouht it /was/ that other song each time it came on. i just couldnt for the life of me figure out what song i thougt it was. i went around humming it for days, eventually deciding it was an old song by the tea party. i imediately set about systematically goiing through all my cds trying to find it. i coul;ndt find it. i began to think i was crazy.
i wish i had the skills to mash these up because aside from a slight tempo difference, these seem really similar to me. the guitar riff, the drum beat, even going into the chorus seems as if you could just interchange the vocals.
In case "basic human decency" isn't enough to keep you off your cellphone in public places -- like, for instance, a rare intimate performance by Tool in a tiny club -- perhaps the following recording will be an additional reason. Particularly 11 seconds in.
"Shauna's friend" was being really inconsiderate of those around her all evening, but it was during Tool's performance of the rare "slow version" of the song "Pushit" that she gained notoriety, forever being inscribed in music history. I recorded this concert at the peak of my bootlegging "fame", and copies of it can probably still be found on every peer-to-peer music trading network there is. Thousands of people have had the chance to learn just how inconsiderate "Shauna's friend" is.
So, I hope this is a valuable lesson to those of you who insist upon being a "cellphone asshole"; you never know when those you are being inconsiderate of are making a permanent record of it, spreading your assholitry all over the internet.
Here's my little tribute to pop radio, composed from the "best bits" of Ashlee Simpson and Gwen Stefani's recent releases. I hope it makes your ears bleed as much as it does mine. (And I mean that in a good way; I don't actually wish harm to fall upon your ears.)
If you enjoyed RE: Your Brains, and didn't expend the effort to see what the latest ol' Jonathan Coulton has done is, I urge you to take a second and check out Code Monkey as well. There're no zombies, but monkeys who program are just as good.
I'll try to refrain from turning this into the "look at what Jonathan Coulton did now!!!1" blog, but I can't make any promises.
As someone who loves both Jonathan Coulton and zombies, I highly recommend the song, which is easily my favorite of his Things A Week. Just click on 're your brains' towards the bottom to hear it -- you know, if you aren't afraid of having it stuck in your head the rest of the day.
As promised, here's a couple mp3s from the debut album from The Like (it is kind of refreshing to find a band that is apparently without a website), entitled Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking?.
UPDATE: These have been up for way too long, so you should just go buy the album rather than download them illegally from me.
I like this album quite a bit, these young girls are verty talented. In a world of Lindsay Lohans and Hilary Buffs Duffs, it is refreshing to hear some quality work from attractive young women.
As this album is available commercially -- and came out less than a month ago to boot -- you really shouldn't steal it. I'm providing these 2 songs in a lame attempt at fan marketing, which is something which will probably get me in trouble if the record label finds out.