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Thursday, July 12, 2007
Project Mersh

(Having not gotten around to posting this by Monday. I rewrote parts and added links from the weekends press.)

Sunday 15 July is the deadline for the new rates on radio broadcasts of recorded music and things that resemble radio broadcasts. On Thursday an Appeals Court issued a denial of stay of execution, although a more formal appeal of the decision is underway. There was by SoundExchanges a last minute change of heart on an immediate enforcement of certain fees, the courts have established they can collect. The Boston Globe, PC world, Ars Technica and the Washington Post all wrote on this Friday.

WFMU's perspective as one of the potentially effected institutions can be read via Monday dj Liz Berg's entry on the WFMU blog, from last Monday WFMU's Beware of the Blog: Radio News You Can't Use, and now this Monday WFMU's Beware of the Blog: Update on Webcasting Royalty Controversy where she laments that things are still very unclear. The fees are punitive and have to be avoided by small non-profits like WFMU and their course will probably be to cap the number of on-line listeners. An iTWire story painted the fee increase gambit as an attempt gain some form of control over internet radio before it became so big that it would dictate terms back to the labels iTWire - Net radio stay of execution really a stay of suicide. The article suggests that the point where the SoundExchange could act unilaterally may have already passed, and that they and the RIAA misread the situation and woke their judges up for no reason.

A small Washington Post article last Tuesday Jeffrey H. Birnbaum - Radio Royalties: Reprising Ol' Blue Eyes' Battle - strongly misrepresented the situation and was indicative of a belated PR effort by SoundExchange. The article appeared in a regularly occurring column covering lobbying from an insider perspective. Today's 16Jul07 Ars Technica story backs this notion up by arguing that SoundExchange seems to have transitioned to bargaining mode Net radio "compromise" hinged on DRM adoption. Hastened by increasing congressional scrutiny.

Kicking around in my mind as a followed these turns of event was the Rolling Stone magazine piece from last month Rolling Stone : The Record Industry's Decline. Most of the quotes that article collected were from people either saying one way or another that the Music Industry was dead or dying, or seething that they should have killed off the very idea of MP3s (the mere concept of a digital compressing codec) when they had the chance. Hunting it down; stabbing it with their hay forks, clubbing it with their dung shovels.  Hilary Rosen's comment was that pop music "no longer has economic value, just [merely] emotional value." Another comment that caught my eye that this is the biggest change in the Music Business since sheet music gave way to prerecorded music (records) in the 1920's. Both comments are telling. I don't know exactly how these people viewed the prerecorded music / pop-star phase (or era) of music that is modern cultures relation to the more enduring notion of music performance. Or from where they got the idea of it's permanence. Its unclear to me whether mass culture demanded the hit-record pop-star business model in order for musicians to make livings in a traditional way. By playing out at ticket-collecting venues and making a reputation. Even at this I think I am relying too much on 19th century notions of a musicians livelihood: music halls and traveling sacred music shows, opera stars and orchestras all of which were very big business in the fifty years preceding radio. I don't sympathize with the record industries travails. They always preferred prefab imitations, of their own control and devising, to artists that came to them with their own ideas of what they were about. They crushed more music than they promulgated. If the sand castle they built their fortunes on is to slip into the sea - eventually. It won't matter to me.

But forget radio or mp3's for now. There's always tv commercials (part iv). Here should be glimpsed the perspective of those who are now doubting the tradition value of their back catalogue and are considering again the alternatives. First: I have finally learned who does the song "Let me take your photo" that was used in a printer commercial a few months ago. They were the Speedies and they were (are from Brooklyn and 1978. Then there was the big bougie SUV commercial from last year that inexplicably ran a Moondog tune "Bird" (as repurposed by a British DJ) in the background. Moondog was either a mostly crazed Street Viking or a noted modern composer Moondog - Wikipedia. Either way I owe this bit of awareness to WFMU's Irwin Chusid. New Order's "Age of Consent" was out fronting for something - I can't actually remember what - a bank I think. I wonder what sort of subtextual message is being passed on there. Lastly, a different sort of thing really, I caught the White Stripes version of "We're going to be friends" in a music bed for a promo on PBS. "...when silly thoughts run through my head about the bugs and alphabet."

11:45:48 PM    comment [];trackback [];

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2007 P Bushmiller.
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Prolegemma to any future FAQ.

Who are you again?
paul bushmiller
what is it exactly that you do?
at the least, this.
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Know any foreign languages?
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victoria - the kinks
RockandRoll? Favorite American song then
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