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Atomized junior

Sunday, October 25, 2009
Federal Truncheon Commision

 The FTC have had a bit of a rule overreach with their recent guide for endorsements and testimonials  FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials .  This is the blog specific rule set released earlier this month. It is a rather detailed document too running eighty plus pages! The main and obvious weakness is that these rules don't apply to existing print and broadcast media: Magazines, Newspapers TV Ad group: FTC blog rules unfairly muzzle online media - Ars Technica. There would be no business to be in if they did. Perhaps the FTC figures bloggers more publicly collegial, more peer normed than the media. And more trusted therefore. I don't suppose it ever fooled anyone when Woofer Review monthly would glowing review a speaker or turntable opposite a full page ad from the same. The FTC seems inclined to place web-loggers in a category not unlike celebrity endorsements. And of course if Mikey likes it that's good enough for me. The denizens of the world wide web are aghast. The Wild Westerners especially: this is that particular breed inclined to think of the internet as some wide open libertarian rule-less frontier.  The Wild West is nearly a synonym for the very desire to behave badly - to extend your boundary over someone else on the myth that it is a boundless plain. Spam Kings and Trolls.

 The great concern is that ordinary people may be representing to other ordinary people not out of dispassionate estimate alone.  I never tell people about anything I don't believe is isn't worth their consideration not simply mine Communicating with other people is something fraught with peril and pitfalls to be sure. Lets look at how this works, I'm sure I can invent a small example to illustrate this

 I have in the past praised the noisy and fuzzy but clever and inventive San Francisco band the Sic Alps. I was quite pleased when their most recent single "L. Mansion" turned up on Slumberland records. This is a good and harmonious thing I thought - and I've now written it here. Yet within in me doubts rose and I went to the bookcase where I keep various 7" records and discovered I have a copy of Slumberland no.1 "What Kind of heaven do you want?" I didn't buy that record either - It was given to me; by someone named Mike or Dan or Archie, or maybe Pam. The exact details escape me. Suddenly in a cold sweat I realized the true origins of my mention, my endorsement of the Sic Alps. Naked consideration for a Velocity Girl/Black Tambourine/PowderBurns 7" compilation ep given to me twenty years ago. After I spent an afternoon helping Dan and Mike cut-out images photocopied from a Winsor Mackay book.  

 The real story here is modern Marketing outreach rather Marketing co-option. There  is a very large body of literature on how the Internet and Social Media tools can help you sell your product ( Internet Marketing ). The idea here is that if you can identify the opinion leaders the high traffic sites and turn them, no more efficient marketing strategy could be imagined. Frankly with some inherent skepticism I think if the FTC gets the idea that what is going on here is more in the nature of Astroturfing and gorilla marketing by established corporate bodies, with lobbyists on retainer, and that web loggers are merely docile bodies in their hands, lacking agency. They may then decide then, that it all just the free market at play, and no great concern after all. Well, we'll always have caveat emptor.     

11:36:27 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Friday, October 16, 2009
Culture Clarifications

  After closing the last post and not intending to revisit it immediately. I find myself heading in that direction anyway. In a fairly parallel scenario to iTunes' and other similar sound bite samples of songs constituting a performance, a Federal Court has ruled that ring tone versions of songs do not represent a separate billable concert performance of a song for songwriter royalty purposes Judge: Cellphone Ringtones Are Not Concerts | Threat Level |  I'm sure some might say there is a certain marked spirit evinced in even asking additional payment for such ephemera. More of it is dullness and lack of imagination.

 These 30 second battles though are merely skirmishes in a larger and more centrally contested battle. One between the Record Labels, their traditional products and marketing, their shrinking profits and shrinking seat at the table and the new entities and technologies in the popular-music consumption game. Internet Music concerns pay both performer and song-writing royalties, whereas traditional radio pays only song-writing royalties. This can amount to a lot of money. A century of wrangling had worked out that a certain benefit or value was supposed to flow to the performer of recorded music by its being aired over the radio and being heard being known. In the new millennium all bets were off and The performance rights act is being snaked through congress to deal with it  Radio "pay to play" law ready for vote in House, Senate - Ars Technica. The NAB is not amused.

 Largely, it doesn't currently concern what I care about. The various tribes of indie music are not where the money is. Smaller internet radio and non-profit radio have different less onerous fee structures. This essentially seems to be a battle of big business with the emphasis on big. I can watch this one from the sidelines

 At the same time it seems a good point to further emphasis the point I made in the last post. Mass reproduced pop music, dependent on mechanical mass consumption, is more related to other like mass pop cultures, and less to music culture even for being music. It is not like going to see a live performance of a string quartet, a Mariachi band, or even a busker on a city sidewalk. Pop music culture is not Music culture. Not strictly even a subset of it. Pop music is also a partial thing as created, even in the hands of your favorite band (fill in name of your favorite band / artistes here {_______} ) It does not become whole, let along develop its final value until an audience reaction is achieved until a general opinion or affinity is rendered and registered. Until the people decide what it signifies, as its multiplicity of performances grinds through its moment.

 I put together a reading list on pop music culture a few months,  books I knew were in the library where I work, with the intent of reading a few things that might place this in a more rigorous context. I might dig that out.  On preview I feel strongly that the complex interplay of popular music culture, the publics role in the distributed nature of its valuation speak against simplistic notions of property rights the record labels hold. Craft intellectual property entities like pop music have copyrights as a reward and living convenience to the creator and were not intended to become another category of permanent and generalized property.   It impoverishes a societies culture to treat it that way.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009
4 Regimes of Music

 I need a post that doesn't require me to consume significantly large amounts of reading, even newspaper reading. Or think much. Hopefully this piece is it.

 Every day within about a fifteen minute time frame I encounter four different regimes of everyday music. This is due to passing through a number of shops at the student union during lunch, and their having store PA systems tuned to a variety of radio stations. The effect is not simply like spinning the knob on a radio tuner; though, each of these localities is a micro-culture all immersed in a music that shapes those who work there.  At the Food Co-op it can be anything from growl core (pehaps not the technical term ) to Queen. The Food Co-op is the only stop where the workers program their own music. They never play much techno or folk there. It is a place where generally load fast, or at least inscrutable, rules. In fairness there is a sign by the cashier that states: "This music isn't playing for you"

 The lower level of the campus bookstore (a Barnes and Noble in disguise) is the next stop.  Here I've heard Pink singing about Vietnam (Is that right, does Pink do a song about Vietnam? Are these my notes or did I pick up somebody else's again?).  I've also heard the Talking Heads cover of Al Green's "Take me to the River. " A song I first heard while buffing a water emulsion waxed floor in a BEQ at NAS Key West. A good song to buff floors to. Oddly, one level up in the same bookstore - where it transitions into a U. Maryland branded UnderArmour clothing store - they are often listening to something different, contemporaneous and unmemorable generally. Although once it was Karen O explaining that "...they; will never love you like I love you." I nearly bought a red and white hoody pullover before the song ended. A turn of the corner and a few feet down the main hallway to the Stamp union convenience store and its Reggaeton, or one of the varying forms of latin hip hop. When lunch over its back to my quarter cubicle at McKeldin, where the sound regime is whatever WFMU is playing: the Melvin's Live at their All Tomorrows Parties gig in the Catskills by dj Liz Berg as it happens. Everything is back to normal.

The only other exposure to music culture I get is what tunes the television advertising industry has come across and thinks I might respond too. My favorites from this effort or at least ones I recognize: a techno version of the Church's "Under the Milky Way", I used to like that song. Similarly a techno version of BOC's "Burning for you".  The car companies like the techno covers. Cadillac is hawking their SRV with Phoenix's 1901.  Cat Stevens for the Google/T-Mobile Android phone. It's hard to miss boy is that commercial on the air a lot , but: "Be you." What is he talking about? Makes Van Morrison seem sensible. Why haven't any of these microwave telephony companies gone with "Radar Love"?   Or maybe the Jam's "Girl on the Phone."

 I read recently that we could be paying soon, directly or indirectly, for those 30 second sound samples. This is the  royalty rights group's latest gambit. Songwriters want to get paid for 30-second song previews - Ars Technica Those snippets of a song you listen to before making a purchase need to be paid for as they constitute a "performance". The sense of entitlement here is truly astounding. If this overheated position is indication the IP (intellectual property) people around the music industry are genuinely and completely clueless.

 A piece of mass-(re)produced pop music alone is only a thing of partial value as created. A burnt offering to the times.  IP owners and managers impart little or no added value. Whatever part of a pop song's success is played by marketing capital at first, diminishes and disappears over time. Whose music is it really? Only when accepted by the public, becoming a marker of an age and outlook, part and representation of the culture it was born out of, does it have the associative power they desire. But never in guarded isolation, it has to get out to the people, out by word of mouth and organic process, dropped off between Clark and Hillsdale. Developing an independent life away from those who created or capitalized it. Pop music knicked by a thousand little cuts to produce a thousand little profit streams will die slowly, irrelevant and infinitely elastic. Its attempt to monopolize the category of music culture rejected.

11:40:10 PM    comment [];trackback [];

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