09 Aug

Prince defends Napster and says that anti-Napster musicians such as Metallica are only fooling themselves.

“Record companies don’t really like the public to like good music. They want it to buy whatever ‘product’ they come up with, whether it’s musically good or bad. We need to be educated about how the record companies have exploited artists and abused their rights for so long about the fact that online distribution is turning in to a new medium which might enable artists to put an end to this exploitation.”

I hope that will happen, but I fear that as online distribution develops, it’ll turn into “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Musicians aren’t likely to band together to fight industry exploitation — you don’t even see many of them joining the musicians’ union now, do you? The are hungry for success and hungry for food, clothing, and a roof over their heads. They aren’t likely to turn down a major label deal despite the common knowledge that signing is more likely to screw up your life and career than to make you rich and famous.

I really do hope the current system ends and is replaced by something more artist-friendly. I’m just not optimistic that it will end up that way.

08 Aug

Webtype.org:
a non-commercial organization dedicated to the furthering of the lost art of web typography. Lost? I think it has to exist in the first place before it can be lost. Perhaps “dedicated to the development of web typography” would be better. Truthfully, in order to keep my sanity while developing web pages, I’ve had to throw out a lot of the typographical principles I used to be really picky about. It drives me nuts to use “typewriter quotes” or to see bad kerning, but to make my pages as accessible as possible, I have to tolerate things like this. I hope someday that I’ll have more typographical control.

08 Aug

Record labels face 28 states in CD price-fixing suit. It should have happened sooner. But perhaps it doesn’t go far enough. CD prices were fixed long before the “minimum advertised price scheme” was put into place. CDs cost no more than vinyl to produce, and yet the price of an album doubled from vinyl to CD. Why?

In the mid-80s the industry claimed that there weren’t enough CD-pressing (isn’t that a misnomer?) plants to serve the US, so that caused prices to be high. But now CDs can be made anywhere. Did the prices ever go down? No, they’ve continually gone up! Even in 1988, I remember looking at a price list to mave an album made — the only difference in cost between vinyl and CD at that time was the digital mastering, which was only a few hundred dollars difference. (Now I doubt it’s more expensive at all.) For a major label product, $300 is nothing. There was no excuse for the high price of CDs then, and there isn’t now. None of that extra money is going to artists, who for the most part are laboring with royalty rates that amount to mere cents per song.

08 Aug

Also at The Observer, Homer’s odyssey: 10 years of The Simpsons on tv in Britain.

“My favourite is Marge, and I’ve worked out a great technique for doing her voice. Go to a rave and smoke 20 fags on the trot. Then drink five Diamond Whites. When you get home, sit in front of your open fridge and then sleep next to an open window. Set your alarm extra early and when you are rudely awakened, say, “Oh Homey, I’m concerned about Lisa.” The results are pretty mind-blowing.”

Yep, that oughta do it.

08 Aug

How Dr Dre sings out for the Big Six record companies, from The Observer:
“Behind the angry black face of the (Dre’s) assault on Napster are the grinning white faces of his co-plaintiffs: the Recording Industry Association of America, front for the Big Six record companies – Sony, EMI, BMG, Universal, Warner and Polygram. Together, these six media megaliths distribute more than 95 per cent of all music sold in the western world. Behind the public tears shed for compensating their artists is the deeper agenda of protecting this global musical monopoly.” (Emphasis added.) Whether you believe Napster users to be thieves or not, no tears need to be shed for the Big Six. For every artist doing well in their monopolistic embrace, thousands of others are getting the shaft. It’s not the artists the RIAA fights for.

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