April 22, 2007

Music Distribution Experiments [11:53 pm]

Speaking of radio: New Model for Sharing: Free Music With Ads

For years, music labels have been trying to prevent fans from downloading their songs on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. Now, some of them would like to encourage people to listen to music that way — provided they view some advertising first.

Several start-up companies are pursuing the idea of advertising-supported music, including SpiralFrog and Ruckus, which caters to college students. Qtrax, one such company that plans to open for business in September, already has deals to sell music from Warner Music Group and EMI Group, and it plans to announce a similar deal with Sony BMG Music Entertainment today.

On the other hand: In Dallas, Commercial Radio Without Commercials

Facing increasing competition from satellite radio and iPods, Clear Channel Communications is trying something radically different at a commercial radio station in Texas: getting rid of the commercials.

As of today, KZPS in Dallas — on the dial at 92.5 FM or online at lonestar925.com — will no longer run traditional 30- or 60-second advertisements. Instead, advertisers sponsor an hour of programming, during which a D.J. will promote its product conversationally in what the company calls integration.

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Surprise! If You Like Radio, You Like Radio [11:51 pm]

Exposing the weak assumptions of exclusivity — paying for a subscription service does not mean eschewing other alternatives: Digital Subscribers Like Free Radio, Too

The data suggest that, generally speaking, fans of digital radio are seeking to supplement, not replace, traditional radio. “Heavy users of digital media don’t think, ‘If I’m doing this more, I’m doing the other thing less,’ ” said Bill Rose, an executive with Arbitron.

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The Evolution of the Concert & Reunions [11:45 pm]

Not Reunions, Reinventions Back and Better. Really.

Unless you are a lawyer or a promoter for one of these bands, all you have is your ears. Despite all the bien-pensant hand-wringing about how reunions smell fishy, a band is a band. It is not more powerful than the sound it generates on a certain stage at a certain hour, its grooves and tones and tension and release. It is made of musicians who are considered young for a while, and then become older. They play in a club, then maybe a stadium, and then maybe a club again. They have money disputes, or they don’t want to look at one another for a while, and they stop. Then the market changes in their favor, and they play again.

[...] If you had working knowledge of the Pixies’ and Stooges’ albums, you may have been stunned by how sophisticated live sound has become since those bands disappeared the first time, and how they have adapted the advances to their own needs. And what about the best of those who never formally went away — a band like Slayer, a performer like Prince? They carry so much maturity after more than 20 years that even if they don’t retain perpetual youth, they have something that might be more important: complete control over their own sound.

[...] There are clear reasons for this trend. We’re seeing the winnowing of the live-music era in America, as well as the end of belief in the album. Any crisis of belief leads to sanctification and orthodoxy; people want to see the saints work their magic. Ashley Capps, who helps produce mid-June’s Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tenn. — which has booked the Police as one of its headliners this year — put it in a slightly simpler way. “When I was growing up, the release of an album was an event,” he said. “We’ve moved away from the notion that the release of a recording is an event. Somebody can release a great album and get fantastic reviews and everybody’s talking about it, but how long does that last? Six weeks? In that sense, live performances are becoming the important event.”

[...] We have to allow for the possibility that Rage Against the Machine — or the Police, or the Jesus and Mary Chain — could be as good as it ever was, if perhaps a little more wizened, a little more skeptical. (It will depend on their practicing of course.) If you’re still looking for something sacred, it probably can’t be found in their values or politics or cult significance. It’s in you: It is your own reaction to how they sound. Nobody can take that away from you.

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