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February 27, 2003

American Thingy

So there's this guy, Matt, who does stuff. A few weeks ago, Matt asked me if I wanted to have a Walkingbirds song included on a special compilation CD that Creative Commons would be handing out at NoisePop this year, it'll be cool, gonna have DJ Spooky and Dealership and (Byrds guitarist) Roger McGuinn and others on it. And I'm like, can I give you a new song instead? And he's like, that'd be kewl, and I'm all, when do you need it? And he's like, by next week.

So then I'm all like, crap! and I run and lock myself in the second bedroom for the weekend and emerge all bleary-eyed and unshaven (which I am most of the time anyway) with this: American Thing (128kbps, 3.5MB).

So, this is a bit different than what I've written in the past but more in line with what I'm writing recently. I'm not sure whether to peg this as alt-rock or alt-country, but it definitely shares a bit of DNA with both.

Either way, I'll leave to you to decide if it sucks or not.

February 26, 2003

War (The Song, Not The Industry)

Songstress Jonatha Brooke, whom I worship from afar, had released a re-recorded version of the song "War" as a free MP3 download (3.6 MB). Very cool production. (ps: this is not a cover of the Edwin Starr song of the same name).

February 25, 2003

Hitchin', Wishin', Ramblin', Singin'

A Mighty Wind: Christopher Guest brings us folk music done Spinal Tap style. Be sure to watch the trailer. (via MeFi)

Rising Over The Boss

A nice analysis of how Norah Jones' yearlong slow burn up the charts resulted in her Grammy victory over Springsteen.

Jones's momentum was built slow and steady. Her album sold a mere 10,000 copies in its first week. Then came a series of late-night talk show performances -- she's done the "Tonight" show three times now -- each one causing a noticeable spike, though hardly a stampede. She was profiled on National Public Radio, toured with Dave Matthews over the summer, and was finally added to MTV's lineup around the same time.

And Not Enough RIAA Prisons To Hold 'Em

MP3 Newswire reports that half of all teens and one-fifth of all Americans age 12 and older have used file-sharing services, which adds up to roughly 40 million people.

February 24, 2003

But With, Of Course, Groupies.

From the NYTimes NY Daily News, a music industry case study, detailing the supposed earnings of a mythical rock band. How does a band with a gold record and a $300K advance end up with an annual income no better than what your average desk jockey makes, without health care benefits? Do you know what a "packaging deduction" is?

February 23, 2003

With The Mouth Of A Truckdriver

Shannon is finally back, with a slick new redesign to boot, and most importantly, she sounds happy. Now, maybe she'll find the time to bless us with a new song or two.

February 20, 2003

One More Song The Radio Won't Like

Kathleen Edwards: FailerKathleen Edwards, Failer. Picked it up last weekend. So good, you could drown in it. Rivals anything Gillian, Lucinda or Ryan can come with. Run, don't walk.

IndieOneStop

IndieOneStop is an ambitious collection of online projects that support independent music and publishing. Short Run Music, as the name implies, does small runs of CDs for indie artists, while DollarCD provides distribution and fulfillment services. The infobase contains exhaustive information and links for musicians, writers and other creative types. Meanwhile, IndieMusicBeat is a monthly magazine published in PDF format.

I just got a CafePress newsletter announcing the aforementioned on-demand CD and book publishing services. This is great news, but CafePress' base pricing is still pretty expensive, and that goes for all of their items. Anyone know of a good alternative?

Yours Truly @ Fray Cafe 3

I'll be performing a solo acoustic set at Fray Cafe 3 this year at South By Southwest.

Yeah, I'm just as terrified as you are.

It'll be the first time I've played live since 2001, and the second time I've played solo. You'd think that after almost ten years of playing in various bands, with some of that time spent as the lead vocalist and lead guitarist (all at once!), I'd be over the whole stage fright thing by now. And you'd be oh, so very wrong. I am very likely the Most Uncool Guy In Rock.

The Future Of Music Careers

Derek Silvers (the guy responsible for CD Baby, which distributes my record (which you haven't bought, why haven't you bought one yet?) posted an interesting (albeit long) article by Peter Spellman called The Future of Music Careers, which is a call-to-arms to musicians everywhere to ditch dreams of stardom and take the reins of their own destiny, or, um, something like that. Definitely written to appeal to artists who haven't recognized the true power of the Web yet.

The same forces that are undoing the larger music companies are empowering individual musicians. And as a result, the idea of a "music career" is sprouting new wings as artists and industry careerists begin discarding intoxicating myths and tapping into some new-found powers.

Powers deriving from desktop computers and digital recording gear, from a hyperabundance of entrepreneurial and self-development resources, a segmenting (and reachable) music marketplace, and most importantly, from the Internet - the first tool that puts a global communication and distribution "channel" into the musician's hands.

February 14, 2003

Please Leave A Message

At this very moment, my girlfriend is probably wandering around the SOMA district in San Francisco, hoping that the people who said they'd meet her are actually going to be there. She's going to be fine. I know she's going to be fine.

About once a year, I have to make a resolution to make a better effort at answering email. Today is such a day. If you've sent me email that has gone unanswered, please accept my apologies, and know that it wasn't anything personal. Sometime you just get drowned amid the spam and the dozen mailing lists I subscribe to.

That, and I'm basically a hermit. Which I know runs counter to my whole wanna-be-a-rockstar thing. But the problem is, I'm surrounded by similarly hermit-like people who also don't answer email in a timely fashion. Email is a preferred communications medium for people like myself, because it allows some time to think, formulate a response, rethink your words, be more diplomatic, etc. and generally avoids the hesitant, awkward, stuttering responses you sometimes get from people who just aren't all that socially adept. Not that I spend my life cowering in the attic, mind you, but I often find myself thinking in hindsight: "omigod, I can't believe I said that out loud."

Um, anyway. I know it's gone too far when even I start to get pissed when people don't answer their email. Especially when it's important to get a rapid response. Did you get the plane tickets? Are we still on for dinner tomorrow? Are you picking me up at the airport? Did I get the job or not?

It's at this point that I realize what a hypocrite I am, and realize that change starts at home. So I have to set an example for myself in hopes that others will follow. Let's see, let's start with this thing here called "inbox..."

February 11, 2003

Googling MP3s

Warning: incremental redesign in progress.

Sometimes I wonder why Google doesn't index MP3 files. There must be some value to being able to find relevant MP3 files in the same fashion that Google's image search indexes image files. Dreaming Of Violets has been linked to here and back, but a Google search for the file itself turns up nada. Why? (Afterthought: because then it would be too easy to hunt down file-traders?)

February 7, 2003

Yours Truly @ Creative Commons

Check it out y'all, Dealership and the Walkingbirds are this month's featured commoners at the Creative Commons site. It's sort of a roundtable discussion on being independent musicians in the Internet age, and how the Web assists and affects our creative pursuits. The interview was actually done awhile back, so I've had plenty time to completely forget everything I said. It kinda plays out like this:

ME: Blah blah blah, a thousand times blah, M to tha' E to tha' me, me, me.

JANE: [Something wickely astute in seven words or less.]

February 4, 2003

What's Old is New Again. Sort Of.

I'm doing a little musical spring cleaning in the hope that I'll eventually finish a full-length record of new songs sometime in the next few months. It's a lot more work than I thought. For one thing, I'm re-recording all the vocals on existing songs. It take a certain amount of emotional detachment on my part to just toss out the vocal tracks from songs like Gravel Road Requiem and Cast The Net Wide, as if they were coffee grounds or something.

I have to, though. The instrument tracks can be tweaked, but nothing masks the sound of plosives (that's the popping sound you hear when you voice a hard consonant against the mic, like the letter p or b) or sibilance (the hi-frequency hissing sound of air escaping over the teeth, like "sh" or "ch." Aren't breath-stream dynamics interesting? Yeah, thought so.) I can usually let those imperfections slip for a 56Kbps MP3 file, but I can hear them -- always -- and it drives me batty.

Another thing I'm grappling with is putting together a list of at least ten solid songs that are varied enough to keep people from falling into a stupor. Unfortunately, there's something about composing on an acoustic guitar that leads to a surfeit of depressing ballads. So a lot of perfectly good tunes are being kicked to the curb to make room for more uptempo numbers.

Case in point: this new version of Stay The Same (beware: 4MB download), completely re-recorded. Compare with the original demo from 2000. This was going to be on the record until I realized it'd just be filler. It's old (written in 1997), slow and never did blow my socks off. But it's still a decent song; the mix came out really clean and I'm very proud of my oh-so-clever backwards guitar solo. Y'know, back in Olden Tymes, we actually had to run the tape backward to get that effect! Now you just select the waveform with the mouse, right-click and choose "Reverse."

So I'm setting it free here, in hopes that I'll be forced to fill the gap with something more rockin'.

February 2, 2003

Obsfucation

Each and every one of the finalists in the Musical Artist/Band category of the SXSW Website Competition requires Flash. Every one. And half of them are missing the obligatory "skip intro" link. (and no, I didn't enter, so thppt! :P) I had almost forgotten how Flash still excels at making important information as inaccessible as possible.

Заранее Вас благодарим

The thing is, it looks really cool in Russian!

Proliferation

Attention everyone: please bookmark the following page

http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/search.html

This is the Symantec Security Response online database. It contains extremely up-to-date information on computer viruses, worms and hoaxes. Especially hoaxes.

The next time you receive a frantic virus alert email, warning you to delete a file called jdbgmgr.exe, or not to open a certain file because IT WILL DELETE YOUR ENTIRE C: DRIVE, MY FRIEND OPENED IT AND NOW HE CAN'T START HIS COMPUTER!!!!, the first thing you should do is search the Symantec database and confirm that it's a legitimate virus warning, which it often isn't. Just type in the name of the "virus" and click "Search."

Please do this before you forward the email to everyone in your address book and every mailing list you belong to.

As a simple precaution against real virii, you should never open any suspicious file attached to an email. Especially those that that end with (or contain) the .exe or .vbs extension. And especially if you are using Outlook as your mail program.

February 1, 2003

For the Columbia

I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should
burn out in a brilliant blaze
than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor,
every atom of me in magnificent glow, than
a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.

Attributed to Jack London (thanks, Anders)