Downloading music on Internet is fool’s game — and illegal

Democrat & Chronicle: Nick Francesco

Downloading music on Internet is fool’s game — and illegal

That is the headline of this Rochester Democrat & Chronicle piece. You would think that a newspaper would employ people that understand at least the broader meanings of the English language. There are plenty of ways to download music on the internet that are completely legal, and not a fool’s game. Using P2P programs like the ones mentioned in the piece, do fit the description, but this writer makes no attempt to differentiate between grabbing a song off Kaazaa and buying a download from iTunes, Yahoo Music, or an artist’s site.

With journalists like this informing the population, our chances of empowering artists through technology are doomed. When I launched my mp3 store, I announced it on a forum that I frequent. One of the other users commented something to the effect of “that’s cool, but downloading is wrong, and I would never do that to you.” I tried to explain that people paid for the downloads and I got the money, so that was a good thing. He eventually got it, but geez…

Carol Robbins – Jazz Play

Someone must be reading the stuff I write here, because people keep sending me CDs with the implied or stated expectation that I will write something about them. That stirs odd feelings in me. Since they spent the time and the money to send me a CD, I feel some obligation to write about it, eventhough there are many writers who have failed to act upon any feeling of obligation that might have stirred as a result of my mailings.

Anyway, in the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t buy this CD, it was sent to me by a jazz promotion service. That’s a good thing, because it is very unlikely that I would have purchased a jazz CD by a harpist. That could have been my loss, because this is a pretty good CD.


The disc is a pleasant mix of standards and originals. The players are uniformly good, and it is well recorded. The harp fills an interesting sonic space. It blends into the guitar sound at times, and fills the space where the piano would be at others. One doesn’t think of a harp when one tries to imagine hard swinging instruments, and there are times when the harp’s time feel is, well…harp like. I don’t hear this as a deficiency, as much as a point of interest.

This disc probably won’t be in my heavy rotation, but only because my listening habits are leaning to the more adventurous side lately. This CD is solid well played mainsteam jazz, with good tunes, and well crafted improvisations. I commend Ms. Robbins for stretching the minds of jazz-folk by making an undeniably good jazz record on an undeniably unusual jazz instruent. I am all for turning the unusual into the usual.

Musicians, writers, art and money

Are there any good musicians that are also music writers? I know there are some. Greg Osby does interviews for Downbeat, and D.D. Jackson writes his column for DB. Ethan Iverson even does reviews in that same magazine. I’ve also heard stories from a variety of sources about critics (who will remain anonymous here) and their awful bands or performances. Does being a music writer tarnish one’s reputation as a musician? Does being a musicians tarnish or enhance one’s reputation as a writer? Does getting paid as a writer factor into these questions at all?

I recently heard someone talking about the jazz scene that is developing in Brooklyn. They were talking about some of the places that are having interesting new music, and it was agreed that this was a good thing, but it was also said that the clubs were simply allowing the music, not really supporting it. They would let the bands play, and put out a tip jar, and maybe give them a small cut of the bar, but they weren’t really taking any risk on the music.

Is that bad? Far and away the most adventurous, and arguably the best music I have ever heard in a club setting has been in places that didn’t have a whole lot of risk tied up in the music. If your business’ survival is dependent on your music revenue, you will program conservatively, because your business life depends on it. If your business depends on selling beer to locals between 5 and 10 pm, then you are free to do whatever you like with the music after 10 pm. These are the places that can have really great music scenes, because it is about the music, not the business.

Why do jazz musicians expect to get paid anyway? I mean when we are unknowns getting our stuff together? Classical music composers pretty much know that they will have to teach or something to make a living, because it will be rare that they get paid to compose. Same goes for poets and visual artists, and pretty much any other type of artist. I’m not saying that no artist gets paid, and I am definitely not saying that we don’t deserve to get paid, we do deserve it. But, do we deserve to get paid more than the guy who runs the club? More than the bartender? If there are 15 people in the bar, should we expect to get a couple of hundred dollars for the band?

I’m not sure how all of this is related, other than it is what is on my mind today.

Geldof cancels Italian tour after only 45 fans turn up for Milan gig

Guardian Unlimited Arts | Arts news | Geldof cancels Italian tour after only 45 fans turn up for Milan gig

Millions of people like to hear Bob Geldof talk about causes as diverse as debt relief and the rights of fathers but it seems not so many, at least in Italy, are as keen to hear him sing.

The Irish rock musician and political activist beat a retreat back to London at the weekend after cancelling concerts in Milan and Rome because too few fans had bought tickets.

Only 45 people turned up on Friday at Milan’s Civic Arena for a performance by the 51-year-old singer and songwriter.

That’s jive. I think artists should have enough respect for the people who buy tickets to play for them, no matter how many, or few, there are. Do people onyl deserve to hear him play, if they are in large groups?

This touches on the subject of why performers perform. Some of us do it because we want to share music with people, and some of us do it because we want people to share adoration with us. Most of us do it for some combination of those reasons.

Yahoo! Music Blog » Buy A Customized Jessica Simpson MP3 At Yahoo! Music

Yahoo! Music Blog » Buy A Customized Jessica Simpson MP3 At Yahoo! Music

So the news is that Yahoo Music is selling a non-DRMed mp3 of a Jessica Simpson tune. This has led to some inetersting conversation on the Yahoo Music blog.

As you know, we’ve been publicly trying to convince record labels that they should be selling MP3s for a while now. Our position is simple: DRM doesn’t add any value for the artist, label (who are selling DRM-free music every day — the Compact Disc), or consumer, the only people it adds value to are the technology companies who are interested in locking consumers to a particular technology platform.

We’ve also been saying that DRM has a cost. It’s very expensive for companies like Yahoo! to implement. We’d much rather have our engineers building better personalization, recommendations, playlisting applications, community apps, etc, instead of complex provisioning systems which at the end of the day allow you to burn a CD and take the DRM back off, anyway! And on the consumer end there is certainly some discount built into that $0.99 download for the fact that you can burn a limited number of times, can’t play it on your Squeezebox, can’t DJ it with your DJ software, and can’t make a movie out of it with iMovie? I certainly hope so. Un-DRM’d content is implicitly more valuable to a consumer.

As my friend Jimbo says, “if you can make it come out of speakers, you can copy it.”

To turn this into self-promotion, let me remind you that all of my music (and some other stuff) is available as 256k mp3s with no DRM at Pepper Enterprises mp3 Store.

EMI expands Blue Note to all adult music – EMI is restructuring its adult pop music, jazz and classics,…

EMI expands Blue Note to all adult music – EMI is restructuring its adult pop music, jazz and classics,…

NEW YORK, July 19 (UPI) — EMI is restructuring its adult pop music, jazz and classics, grouping them as multigenre music for over age 25 under the Blue Note Label Group in New York.

If I though this would provide more money to record good new jazz, I would say this was a good thing, but I am afraid it will just put the real jazz records in a position of having to sell like adult pop to stay alive. That’s not a good thing.

What we can learn about art from fortune cookies

I like Chinese food. The fortune cookie is just a bonus. From Wednesday’s lunch:

A good laugh and a good cry both cleanse the mind.

This made me think about what our goal as artists should be. I often say we should want to move our audience or listeners. I like them term cleanse the mind, as well.

The fortune cookie reminded me of an interview I did shortly after the release of “One“, when I told the interviewer that I didn’t care if people loved or hated my music, as long as it moved them one way or another. That’s hard to say… I don’t mind if people don’t like what I do, but it’s true. If we are making music that affects people enough to make them dislike it, then we have touched an emotional space in those people. That’s what we are here to do.

Bagatellen: Talking About Music

Bagatellen: Talking About Music

The atomization of Western culture is a phenomenon that has been well-documented for some time now. But it seems to me that as music fans this is something we must actively fight. Just as the music we listen to tries to critique modern society, so must we work against its debilitating effects on our ability to reach out to people in human ways. Whether that means trying to start a local listening club or going to greater efforts to build an online community connected by more than pixels on a screen, I don’t know. I don’t have the answers; I only wish to raise the issue.