Thursday, January 31, 2008

An Open Letter to the RIAA and the CRIA

Today in Music History:

In 1968, The Who kicked off their third North American tour at the Civic Auditorium San Jose, California
I looked at the date and it's the 1st of Feb. Holy crap where did the month go? It feels like I just got back from Alberta just last week. So I was cruising one of my friends site and came upon an excellent posting and feel like I had to share it here. I hope he doesn't mind. In the year to come who knows what madness the RIAA will be up to.
"A former music buyer" posted this open letter on to the CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association). It's an impressive summary of what's wrong with the music industry and how they alienate their customers. Well thought out and much better written than I could ever do. The writer is a metal fan, so there are several references to metal bands and or sites. To make it more relevant to yourself just insert your fave bands and genre of music where he has mentioned metal stuff. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and the CRIA have to rethink their business models, closing down p2p sites (or blogs such as mine) does not solve the problem.

To Whom It May Concern at the CRIA:

I have been an avid music collector for many years, and have approximately 1,000 CDs in my collection, not counting albums that I have purchased over the internet and own only digital copies of. I purchase approximately 30-40 new CDs per year. However, thanks to your recent decision to block Canadian users from accessing Demonoid, I have decided that I cannot continue to support this backwards, dysfunctional industry with my money any longer and, as such, I do not plan on purchasing music ever again if it means that one penny goes to your organization.

I listen to heavy metal music, a form of music that "the industry" stopped supporting many years ago, so I have a hard time feeling any sympathy. Sites such as Demonoid have done far more to promote the music I love than your organization or the industry in general has ever done.

I can find out about new artists and new releases from artists that are never promoted. I can listen to music from artists that have never been played on the radio, will never be shown on MuchMusic or MTV, and never have a review or even mention of their new album written about in the local newspaper. From listening to this music, I can make an informed decision if I wish to purchase the album or not, as I am not going to gamble $15-20 on something that I haven't heard anything of before.

Twenty-five years ago, I primarily learned about music from friends who dubbed a copy onto a cassette tape, where I could listen to it and make a decision if I wanted to buy the tape for myself. Now, many years removed from school, my "gang" of friends to share music with has shifted from cassette tapes and the school cafeteria to sharing mp3s online. I listen to some things that I don't like, and consequently, I don't buy those albums. What I do like, I buy, or at least I used to, before your decision intended to stop me from hearing new music.

The industry cries that record sales are down, and blames this all on internet downloading. I won't be so naïve as to say that internet downloading has no impact on the sales.

Downloading has certainly stopped me from making the stupid purchases where I heard one single that I liked and bought an entire album only to find out that the rest of the songs are crap, and the CD sits collecting dust on my shelf. But for every CD that I didn't buy based on those premises, there are two or three other CDs that I did buy because I heard of them for the first time on a site like Demonoid.

In the meantime, the music industry itself needs to recognize that they are to blame for sagging record sales. For years, they have been marketing recycled crap, and people are getting tired of it. On the odd occasion that something fresh and new accidentally slips through and gets radio play, the music industry immediately signs a seemingly infinite number of clone bands that makes the "new, fresh" sound boring almost instantly. It seems the music industry doesn't even care about making or promoting good music any more.

Instead, they market a young, pretty face that can dance provocatively and lip-synch well, and push this on the radio stations to play while getting the tabloids to print large pictures of their breasts. If bands like AC/DC or Motorhead were to emerge today, they would never be successful; not because of poor record sales due to downloading, but due to the fact that they're ugly so the record company wouldn't promote them, if they picked them up at all. In the meantime, they're falling all over themselves to promote Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, or any teenage tramp that can be airbrushed to look sexy.

The record labels cry about downloading cutting into the profits of the sales of albums. They put out "greatest hits" albums by 20-year-olds with two or three albums under their belts, released with one new track to try and sucker the fans that already have both albums into spending another $20 for one new song, or re-releasing a three-month-old album with a "previously unreleased bonus track". Then they can't understand why people aren't buying them, and cry foul that people are downloading the one new song instead.

I know not only the record companies are crying. Artists that have been around long enough to have enough clout to get a cut of the record sales are concerned about their cut, like Metallica that also clamor that "downloading is evil", and then go on to sell over nine million copies of their last album instead of 9.1 million. Boo hoo. Meanwhile, many younger, smaller artists favor downloading, because they know it's the only way that people will get to hear the music and in turn come out to see their shows, because the record label sure as hell isn't promoting them. But they can't say that out loud, can they? If they do, guess which band is going to get dropped by the label?

So tell me, what does the CRIA do to promote metal? Oh, right, you've got a link to the top 50 "metal" albums in Canada, which after a quick glance at the top ten this week includes punk acts like Dropkick Murphys, Finger Eleven, and Billy Talent, and rock acts like Nickelback and Queen, but very little that resembles heavy metal. (Perhaps you should ask the Celtic punk band, Dropkick Murphys, what they think of being labeled as "metal".)

And also tell me, without Demonoid, where would I have found out about bands like Evile or Dublin Death Patrol and made a decision to purchase their album online (because no record store that I have found in Canada carries either one)? And god forbid the CRIA would care about the promotion of Canadian talent, such as longtime recording artist Annihilator, which released one of the better albums of 2007.

However, I have yet to see their new album sold in any store in Canada, including HMV's flagship store on Yonge Street in Toronto, and I ultimately had to buy a copy from a UK website. Considering the only place I had heard about this album was having downloaded it from Demonoid, do you really expect anyone to make this kind of effort to buy an album without ever having heard it?

The record labels and CRIA have gone to great lengths to tell us that downloading and sharing music is killing the music industry. Open your eyes and you will see that the music industry dinosaur has already been killing itself for years, and by resisting technology rather than embracing it and using it to their advantage. "Oh, but they have," you try to insist, pointing to the sites devoted to selling music in mp3 format online.

I notice that most of the metal bands I am interested in are still not available through these services. I also notice that buying an entire album ends up costing as much, if not more, than if I went to buy it in the store, even though there are no longer costs of materials or shipping that have to be paid for, and once again, I fail to come up with any sympathy for the music industry.

I hope the music industry does die, because I know that music itself will not die so with the corrupt aspects of the industry gone, only then might music once again flourish.

A former music buyer

This guy has really hit the nail on the head and if I knew his name I would certainly be giving him his props here.
As for myself when something new comes out that I like I immediately go buy it, I may have to download it first until I can find a store that carries it, but I do eventually buy it. Because I must posess the high quality hard copy including liner notes, but the old stuff is increasingly hard to find, and there's the rub. Many many fine albums are out of print. Many amazing albums are sadly out of print. Someone, somewhere really needs a boot up the ass up to the knee for letting this happen. Since I have been unable to find hard copies on cd, I have been forced by the record industry to download music instead of buying it. I can go on ebay or third sellers on amazon and purchase a used copy, with prices ranging from 40 to 400 dollars. Who profits in these instances? The RIAA? The artists? Hell no, the ass selling his used CD of Lou Reed's New Sensations album for 300 dollars is the one who profits. So after this long ass post homercat is featuring out of print material. Material that demands to be re-released. All of these songs are from albums that can only be purchased from resellers at an exorbitant price. The one exception is the Joan Jett song. It is unavailable on cd but can be purchased in mp3 at Amazon. Like I said before, "I need the hard copy"! So until the record execs get their heads out of their asses, people will continue to download.

Turn to Me by Lou Reed from the OOP album New Sensations originally released in 1985. Found a copy for 300 dollars.

Crazy by Peter Wolf from the OOP album Lights Out originally released in 1984. Found a copy for 8o dollars

Dirty Fingers by Joanna Dean from the OOP album Misbehavin' originally released in 1989. Found a copy for 70 and one for 200 dollars.

Good Music by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts from the OOP album Good Music originally released in 1986. Found a copy for 35 dollars or download mp3's @ 99 cents a track.

The Drinking Song by the Electric Angels from their OOP self titled debut album originally released in 1990. Found a copy for 80 dollars.

Next Position Please by Cheap Trick from their OOP album Next Position Please originally released in 1983. Found a copy for 70 dollars and this album is available for mp3 download at Amazon.

Post Post-Modern Man by Devo from their OOP album Smooth Noodle Maps originally released in 1990. Found a copy for 40 dollars

Normally I provide a link to buy the CD but remember these are out of print and I do not recommend buying the inferior quality mp3's. Have a good weekend all.

Funny Toon

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Jones Street Boys

Today in Music History:

In 1967, The Monkees performed live for the very first time at The Cow Palace, San Francisco to a sell-out crowd.

jones street boysAlthough Good Rockin' Tonight likes to talk about the older lost gems of rock n roll, every once in a while homercat comes across some new stuff that tickles his ear bone. Most of you know that the cat likes his rock, but rocking out all the time makes homercat a dull boy. So slowing it down once in a while makes perfect sense.

The most recent ear candy I've come across is The Jones Street Boys from Brooklyn who I can best describe as country with a tinge of bluegrass. Or maybe a slice of Americana. Whatever the case these 5 guys have some infectious tunes in their repertoire. Included on their latest album Overcome are some sweet harmonica, a bit of mandolin, some honky tonk piano, great sounding harmonies, and some slappin' stand up bass. Just to name a few of great things about this album. I have numerous country albums in my collection and Overcome is a worthy addition that has been getting some heavy rotation at homercat's house. Jonathan Hull plays a helluva harmonica, I can tell ya. The song I have listed here as a sample starts out with some mandolin picking and harmonica and just gets better from there. Listen to it and tell me you didn't tap your foot along with the music.

Last Time by The Jones Street Boys
Buy It

Funny Toon

Monday, January 14, 2008

Top Ten of 2007

Today in Music History:

In 2005, a $100,000 statue honouring the late punk guitarist Johnny Ramone was unveiled by his widow Linda at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Johnny died from prostate cancer in September 2004 at the age of 55.
Even though we're more than two weeks into the new year, I've finally gotten around to writing my first entry of 2008. The holidays were just too hectic and the homercat household had to have time to unwind and get back in the groove of normalcy. Also I've been sick every day of this new year and haven't felt like doing anything. I'm finally getting over this dreadful cold and have a little more free time for a change.

So I've compiled my list of the 10 best albums of 2007. I'm pretty sure people will disagree with every pick on my list. Let me explain. For the most part I was pretty much disappointed with the music of 2007. There just wasn't that much out there that floated my boat. Not a fan of the Arcade Monkeys or whatever those bands are called. So the albums I've placed on my list are the ones I have listened to and enjoyed the most, they may not be the best per se, but they're my best ones darn it. The last two albums on my list were released in 2006, but I only bought them in 2007 so they got on my list. So for all you complainers about homercat's list, you sure are free to compile your own in the comments. Maybe I've missed out on some I shouldn't have.

1. Acoustic Sessions by Doc Neeson's Angels
Absolutely no question about it, this is by far the best album of the year. No one else even comes close. The acoustic version of No Secrets is one of the most haunting and memorable tune I've ever heard. The violin slays me. I covered this a few weeks ago so no sample.
Buy It

2. This is Somewhere by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Maybe not quite as strong as their debut but it still leaves everyone else in the dust. Big White Gate gives me chill bumps when I hear it.
Big White Gate
Buy It

3. The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack by SIXX: AM
Another album I covered previously. It really is quite good.
Life is Beautiful
Buy It

4. Bitchin' by The Donnas
Two words. Torry Castellano. Also just because I love the Donnas. Album sounds like it should have come out in the eighties during the hair band era. Down and Dirty just the way I like it.
Don't Wait Up for me
Buy It

5. B Sides and Rarities by Cake
Another band that can do no wrong in my opinion. I love the deadpan vocal stylings of John McCrea. The bass, the trumpet and finally those rare tracks all on one album. Album has a kick ass cover of War Pigs and Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town. The song I have listed here Originally comes from episode 17 of the 1st season of the Muppet Show which aired in 1976, and was sung by Mahna Mahna and the two Snowths.
Mahna Mahna
Buy It

6. Touch Up by Mother Mother
"Dirty Town" is an awesome upbeat song and the title track "Touch Up" is excellent. This album is fun. I'm a sucker for harmonies and riffs and this fits both criteria. Great debut from a new canadian band.
Touch Up
Buy It

7. Planet Earth by Prince
Definitely not his purplenesses best work, but ever since I first listened to his Dirty Mind album back in 1980, I declared to my friends that Prince was a genius and they poo pooed me. Yet I had the last laugh. I still declare him a musical genius and anything he puts out makes my list.
Buy It

8. Black Rain by Ozzy Osbourne
I have been and always will be a fan of the Ozz man and I Don't Wanna Stop kicks ass. Nuff said.
I Don't Wanna Stop
Buy It
Honorable Mentions (or I just bought these albums in 2007 so they count for me even though they came out in 2006)
9. Sinner by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
I have chronicled my lust for Joan here on these pages over the years, so even though this is a 2006 release it makes my list here since I bought it this year.
Buy It

10. Slayed (remaster with bonus tracks) by Slade
I was ever so happy to see the remastering of Slades catalog. I just hope they continue and remaster every album including their 80's material which I really dig.
The Whole World's Goin' Crazee
Buy It

Funny Toon