Stamp of approval. More »
Count me among those instantly skeptical of any new business startup that has anything to do with the music industry, particularly as 2009 approaches. Heckfire, I was instantly skeptical of these nebulous businesses in the late ’90s, when, as a music industry professional and a musician, I was bombarded with offers of liaising and support systems and synergizing by companies that probably had basketball courts in their offices and went bankrupt six months later. So when I read something like this on the site for the digital-music startup Topspin, it’s hard not to get a high reading on the BS Detector:
Topspin is a media technology company dedicated to developing leading-edge marketing software and services that help artists and their partners build businesses and brands. We help artists manage their catalogs, connect with fans, and generate demand for music.
Ian C. Rogers is at the “helm” (their wording, not mine) of the aforementioned company, and he was the keynote speaker at *ahem* the GRAMMY Northwest MusicTech Summit 2008. Doesn’t that sound exciting? Nothing gets me more excited than uselessly crammed-together words like “MusicTech” combined with GRAMMY written in ALL CAPS. But Mr. Rogers actually had some interesting stuff to say about the state of the industry, particularly in relationship to the recent David Byrne/Brian Eno collaboration, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.
The David Byrne/Brian Eno collaboration Everything That Happens Will Happen Today–the first collaboration between the two since 1981’s My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts–is available for purchase right now, with interested parties given the soon-to-be-standard purchasing options of immediate digital download, CD, or special pacakge. (The special package, which goes for $69.99, comes in the adorable little box at left, which can double as a kitchen centerpiece/conversation starter.) For those of you interested in trying before buying, the album is streaming for free as well (we’ve embedded it after the jump).
This weekend, the New York Times had a short piece on some new bicycle racks designed by David Byrne, who went from “judge” to “winner” in a recent New York-sponsored contest to design some racks for the city. Byrne’s racks, which were installed on Friday, seem to go for “whimsy” over “function,” with themed designs (a silhouette of a woman that looked like it was copied from a semi’s mudflap went into Times Square; a car-shaped rack called “The Jersey,” pictured, was installed near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel) and space for maybe four or five bikes, max. Well, at least when they’re uninstalled, they’ll be able to sell in the low five figures, thanks to Byrne’s name recognition. After the jump, a Wall Street Journal video report on the racks’ creation that, at the very end, shows just how one might chain a bike to the dollar-sign-shaped “Wall Street”:
Fatboy Slim’s new project, the Brighton Port Authority, have released a queasy video full of black bars over boobs to promote their new single “Toe Jam.” David Byrne (who should have hung it up twenty years ago) handles the vocals and Dizzee Rascal offers a guest rap. More »
The producers of Bands Go Pop! want to provide physical training, cosmetics and even cosmetic surgery for “bands who provided the soundtrack to our youth but who now for whatever reason no longer look like the poster picture that once adorned the walls of the nations teenagers.” According to Popbitch, they naturally decided to offer their services to St. Etienne, who understandably declined. Still, I hope the producers aren’t too dismayed by this cold shoulder. Judging by the recent actions of once defiant bands like R.E.M. and Metallica, plenty of artists will take any measures necessary to attempt to reclaim their former glory. We’ve got some recommendations.
If you’re of advanced age, you may remember Steve Albini’s infamous Maxmimumrocknroll screed from the mid-’90s, where he outlined just how how thoroughly a label could fuck over what we’d now call an “emerging act,” way before the crazy ol’ Internet knocked over everything we knew about being a small band. (Or something. Right?) So sure, we live in very different times now, thanks to the ongoing industry flameout, one where indie bands are infamously more career-minded than ever before, major labels are just as evil (and confused and desperate), and indie labels can occasionally score a Top 10, 300k-selling hit record. (Hey, it’s not that different, after all.) That’s why David Byrne has penned a guide for young bands on how not to drown in the currently muddy industry waters, augmented by audio interviews with Radiohead’s management, Brian Eno, Merge Records co-founder Mac McCaughan, and others. Naturally, because he’s David Byrne and not Steve Albini, Byrne’s “six survival strategies for emerging bands” paint a far less grim portrait of the possibilities for getting and staying paid in 2008 and beyond, and even if you’re not in a band, he lays out all the mumbo-jumbo about “equity deals” and whatnot in language accessible to the layperson. Or music blogger!