Tuesday, March 19, 2002

I've spent most of the day and evening trying to email a press release to 150 media folks and my computer has not been co-operating. It's really more a problem of trying to do something complicated when I'm half-way into changing the system. In any case, it's been a pain in the ass. I have 15 shorts to watch before Thusday night plus finish all this computer upgrading. Ugh.

On the plus side, I finally fixed the carb in my Rambler. A few weeks ago, my father-in-law convinced me that rebuilding a carb was easy work. Well, he was half right. Rebuilding it was easy. Putting it all back together so that it didn't spew gasoline all over the engine block was another matter entirely. Total time - about 3 weeks.

On another note...about 5 years ago, I was interviewed by Forrester Research about the future of music online. I totally missed the Napster concept (which wasn't happening then anyway), but my prediction was that lesser known musicians - be they niche players or guys who had hits years ago - would find their new homes on the web, selling their CDs privately all across the globe.

I found the perfect example of my concept with Permanent Flame - The Bill Nelson Web Site., For those who spent a few years in the world of art rock, Bill Nelson was the raging guitarist and leader of Be Bop Deluxe, a fine 70s band that I discovered in college, after they'd broken up. Bill continues to release music to this day - frankly, I don't think he could stop. He's got something like 50+ albums to his credit. His site is like a glorified blog - he jots messages about his day etc, but also gives email addresses where fans can write to complain about BeBop albums being out of print. It's kind of the ME ME ME site, but that's cool. It's Bill's world and if you hang out long enough, you might start to care about NOISE CANDY, Bill's latest box set of 6 double-length CDs.

Like I said, the guy does not stop working.

In any case, check it out for no other reason that it's a taste of how I think musicians of future might offer themselves to the world audience.

There's a lot of talk about CD protection schemes which will prevent users from ripping copies of their music. It will probably go a lot further. In an effort to extort some money from everyone each time they listen to a piece of music, record companies will probably try to rent the music - users can download the file, but it self-destructs after you fee runs out.

There are many, many schemes being considered, all of which stem from the fear record companies have about music being digitally copied fo free from CDs. Some would say the problem is the record companies themselves - for signing shitty performers and them refusing to sell the product in any other format except full-length CDs (someone compared that to Coke only offering Coke in 64 ounce bottles).

Here's my prediction - if record companies go the encryption route, audiences will rediscover vinyl. Yes, there are mountains of records all over the world and with a turntable, preamp and free software, you can record that music into your computer and rip a custom CD (and frankly, if the record's in clean shape, it sounds just as good or better than a commercial CD). Add to that all the indie musicians willing to give away their music, the few musicans who create something so unique people will pay them for it (in my book, Tom Waits) and whatever other forms of diversion/entertainment out there, and you've got an equation that spells the end of the music biz as we know it.

I, for one, won't be too sad to see it go. My turntable is set up and I'm looking at nearly a 1,000 records that I haven't heard for a while.

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