Rdio blog

The best new blog I've followed in many months is the blog for the music streaming service Rdio. I've been a paid member of Rdio since they launched, but I only occasionally use the service, since most of my music playing is in the car where controlling it via an iPhone app is problematic (for safety reasons, I'd rather use my car's integrated steering controls to advance songs).

Then I found their blog. Every Tuesday, new music that is one click away to play, plus posts on the best music of the previous month in case you missed them, and plenty of posts about exclusive new albums (also freely playable in just a click). If you're a user of Rdio, by all means sign up for their blog, in the few weeks I've followed it I've fell in love with three albums I wouldn't otherwise have known were even released.

Weird ringtones

I've noticed over the past few months at least three instances of someone's phone going off and playing a really odd song, something completely unexpected. In no particular order, they are:

  • ~60 year old male. He was a carpenter measuring for bookshelves, suddenly the chorus from Michael Jackson's Billie Jean starts playing. 
  • late 30s male, construction worker, building a house. Phone goes off with a jazz classic I've heard millions of times but can't name. Take the A train perhaps?
  • mid-60s woman at a restaurant with her husband having dinner in the next booth. Silence was broken by Who Let The Dogs Out. Let me repeat that. The silence was broken in a restaurant when someone's grandmother (possibly great-grandmother) had their phone play Who Let The Dogs Out very loudly.

In every case I'm left with the obvious questions of What the hell? Why that song out of every song ever recorded? and Do people even buy ringtones anymore? 

Scarring Party west coast tour

Over on MetaFilter Music, I've fallen for a band doing sort of old timey pirate shanty stuff called The Scarring Party. They recently threw a Kickstarter fund drive for their upcoming west coast tour, and I went so far as to donate at the level where they had to write a song about me.

Here are their upcoming tour dates:

  • April 22 at Empty Sea Studios (All Ages) with Erin Jorgensen in Seattle, WA
  • April 23 at Alberta Street Pub in Portland, OR
  • April 24 at Sam Bond’s Garage in Eugene, OR
  • April 25 at Rainshadow (All Ages) with Deadly Gallows and Stabracadabra in Reno, NV
  • April 26 at Disco Volante in Oakland, CA
  • April 27 at Viracocha with Eliza Rickman in San Francisco, CA
  • April 28 at The Crepe Place in Santa Cruz, CA
  • April 29 at a yet to be determined space or residence in the Greater Los Angeles Area
  • April 30 at Park Gallery with Martian Horses and Birds Ate My Face in San Diego, CA

Even though I only go out about once every six months to a concert/event, I actually have tickets to Donald Glover doing comedy the same night as their Portland date so I'll sadly be missing them in town (though I might try to catch them before/after), but if you get the chance do check them out.

Here's my song, Head Full of Birds they wrote for me:

03 Head Full of Birds

Re: Hip Hop

…It's his fifth album, and he's 27. It's interesting that hip-hop, because of its perenially underground nature, encourages very young people to keep trying, perhaps succeeding and perhaps failing, but keep trying until they can get good. And if/when they get good, they have a good decade on everyone else.

That's from an email Mike Kuniavsky wrote reviewing Black Milk's new album (which has both the ballsy/arrogant but also totally apt title "Album of the Year"), quoted with his permission. It's just so spot-on, I had to write it down somewhere so I could refer back to it someday.

Also, given the amazing new album, if Black Milk decided to start a batshit insane twitter feed, I bet he'd be as big as Kanye in about six months.

La Blogotheque takeaway shows

I’m a late comer to La Blogotheque’s Takeaway shows (Andy turned me onto them six months ago). From what I gather, the site is like a French Pitchfork, and when musicians come visit, a video director and sound guy throw some instruments at the musicians and they play wherever they can. Buses, street corners, and hotel rooms are the norm, and the videos (and music in them) are simply amazing.

There’s some magic combo of improvisation with nervous musicians using borrowed guitars, standing in a French street where few people recognize them, while a shaky hand camera captures the unamplified sounds. There’s something incredible about how it all comes together and you’re instantly transported onto the street as a nervous onlooker, instead of an idle observer at a computer. It feels like if a tripod was used, the whole thing would come off as fake like U2 playing a rooftop show, or if the band seemed too rehearsed or comfortable, you couldn’t pick up on the energy of the moment.

They’re all great, but these are my favorites:

I’d never heard Phoenix before but I enjoyed the videos so much that I bought two of their albums off iTunes. Much to my surprise, the sound on their records is smoothed over and diluted, with none of the raw charisma seen in the live taping. I almost want to rip mp3s from these videos and replace the album tracks.

On the plus side, this means they’ll be great live and hopefully next month I’ll see them in Portland.

By listening to this you acknowledge you are: Brian Davidson

I’ve been getting some annoying robot phonecalls recently on a daily basis. They always give me menu options to hear more, but never an option to tell them they got the wrong number (or some guy put down the wrong number). The robot leaves messages with half of their recorded message so when I was deleting a slew of them today I noticed one sounded very different from the rest, so I took a quick recording of it.

There’s something almost melodic in how the robot says the name and the message is pretty amusing in the way it reads like the worst EULA ever and that part of it sounds like the Miranda Rights being read to you.

Here it is, enjoy:
[audio:http://images.metafilter.com/BrianDavidson.mp3|titles=Brian Davidson|artists=Brian Davidson]

Anyone that wants to download it and put some beats or throw it into a mix is welcome to this direct link to the file.

Globalization is freaking awesome

Chinese Hammer fucking rules, originally uploaded by mathowie.

I stumbled across Chinese Hammer tonight and fell in love with it for a thousand reasons. Just the thought of someone halfway around the world mimicking a video from 1989 in a move-for-move remake. Also, the mom on the couch crocheting, oblivious to the awesome dancing. Then I posted it to MetaFilter only to find there’s a such thing as YouTube Doubler to play them side by side.

I captured the best bits in a short movie here. About 30 seconds in, things start matching up and it just keeps staying awesome for another minute or so.

update: cool, the dude has a ton of other videos (Thriller, more MC Hammer, etc)

The Future of the Music Business

In the age of the mp3, label musicians and the labels themselves are fighting for survival. As the cost of music is driven down to near zero, they’re doing everything they can to reverse that trend — and yet, the trend continues. I’ve been thinking about music costing effectively nothing and the future of the business and my musician friends for the past few weeks, and some half-assed ideas popped into my head.

Classical Music. Classical music is our future so take some time to consider it.

1. People rarely spend money on classical music itself. I bought a Bach or Mozart CD once when I was 19 when I needed background sound while studying. For the last few years, whenever I want to hear some classical, I just put on the one radio station that plays it or I pick any random classical listing in iTunes’ streaming music area and let it play. It’s basically free and plentiful.

2. Old classical music has no copyright, anyone can cover anything by Beethoven and not owe anyone a cut. You can remix sheetmusic from the 1700s all you want and call it your own. If you’ve got access to an orchestra and a recording device you can go nuts making music and never need a lawyer for any of it. Everything before 1923 is in the public domain: it’s like a Creative Commons wet dream.

3. Classical music fans are tech savvy and embrace the internet. The majority of them rip music, and a sizable chunk own iPods and pay for downloads.

Despite these doomsday notions, classical music remains an industry and there are tens of thousands of professional classical musicians worldwide that make a living from it. It’s not all glitz and glamor, but there are classical music labels that are doing alright and plenty of live events generate a decent amount of revenue even in modest-sized cities. There may not be crazy millionaire Kanye West platinum sellers (aside from maybe Yo Yo Ma?) in the classical set, but they’re not all starving artists.

The popular music industry of the future isn’t going to be anything like it is today, but if you’re an indie rocker in 2007 worried about what the future might bring, don’t listen to what the labels are saying, think more about the 2nd chair clarinet in the Berlin orchestra.

update: Andy was kind enough to send more evidence along: NYTimes, NPR, and The New Yorker all on how despite being plentiful and free like I mentioned, classical was the fastest growing segment of music sales last year, thanks in part to the tech savvy listeners paying for downloaded music.