Today’s New Releases
Some of today’s key albums come with a bit of subtext. Audioslave’s
Out Of Exile
comes after the band became the first American rock band ever to play a outdoor concert in Cuba. Some, including myself, were surprised to see the band perform a concert with such political overtones. Three-fourths of the band used to be in Rage Against the Machine, an activist band that was the more politically outspoken of the two. It wasn’t an overtly policitcal trip (as it would have been for Rage) and it helped propel the band to the forefront of the country’s attention just as the album was prepared for release.
Out of Exile
was another in a long line of albums to get a free streaming preview at MySpace.com. Like others, the album could only be streamed start to finish—no skipping, no fast-forwarding. For the iPod crowd it may be a frustrating way to hear a record, but it’s free and legal and artist-approved.
Gorillaz have a new album out today as well,
Demon Days. Along with Coldplay’s upcoming X&Y, this delayed album was one of the reasons EMI gave for a lowered first quarter profit expectation. Coldplay didn’t appreciate getting blamed for a poor first quarter and it doesn’t enjoy getting pressure from the corporate suits. Accordingly, singer Chris Martin lashed out at corporations and shareholders in general. The Gorillaz, who are a cartoon band, kept quiet on the matter.
Toby Keith has been in the news lately after he said he plans to start his own record label after some frustrations with Universal Nashville. “At this point in my career I’m not going to put up with it,”
he told the Associated Press. Today his album Honkeytonk University was released, and he insists his next album will come out on his own label.
Bob Mould Speaks To Downloaders
At his blog,
musician Bob Mould wrote about two websites that were posting his
in its entirety
and how he contacted them to request its removal. One, he wrote, had “respectfully removed the content.” He then explained the economics of the independent musicians in case people were confusing him for a wealthy superstar on a well-funded major label.
“For the record: this project has taken me 3 years (on and off) to complete, with a price tag of around $50,000. … There was no evil label paying these costs—I write the checks. I get paid on records sold. This is how I do my business. The price tag doesn’t account for my own time and effort, for which I typically get paid fairly well. After 26 years on the job, I have earned my keep.”
Indeed he has earned his keep. After a career that stretches back to forming the legendary punk band Husker Du in 1979, Mould is in a position to call his own shots, work for himself and release music independently. A musician like him requires his fans to work on the honor system—that’s how he makes a living and will continue to make music.
posted a track from his upcoming album, Mould was not only fine with it, he even
mentioned it at his blog. MP3 blogs, with their single tracks and the short life spans of their posts, are acceptable to most musicians and labels. Posting an entire album is a different matter.
In a follow-up post yesterday, Mould included some emails he received on the matter (some of which were from apologetic fans who insist they will buy the record when it’s available) as well as some commentary on the matter. He understands the temptation to download tracks, but separating the real fans from the curious listeners and trying to figure out the impact of all this is a dubious exercise in the powers of social networking. Then he differentiated between sharing music discretely and sharing on a large scale:
“I think there’s a great difference between sharing something directly with someone in a discreet manner, and making it available to everyone everywhere. It’s the difference between tape trading (which it what everyone likens file sharing to) and wholesale distribution (think iTunes with less promotion and no fee required).”
This isn’t the first time an artist has spoken to his/her fans about downloading and it won’t be the last. Over time we’re likely to see this kind of discourse between artist and consumer as both parties seek a middle ground between their needs and interests.
Glenn works in the music industry in New York City. He writes about the industry and music in general at his blog,