Pop culture and all that.






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    Friday, August 16, 2002

    Tomorrow is my 31st birthday! Thanks to the miracle of overnight shipping, you can still check out my Amazon Wish List anf get the presents here in time!

    • Universal Slashes Promoters' Fees by 50%
      In a move that will save the company $25 million a year, Universal Music Group this week slashed fees paid to independent record promoters by half. For those not in the know, Independent promoters typically charge record labels to pitch their songs to broadcasters in hopes of getting radio airplay. The practice was invented to insulate record labels from making direct payments to stations but still allow companies to influence airplay Don't cry to much for the indie promoters, as slashing the payments in half means they get $200,000 a song.

    • Bill on Free Agency for Artists Dies
      Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Culver City) announced that, "at the request of artist representatives," he had decided not to move forward this legislative session with Senate Bill 1246., which would've repealed the musician's exemption to California's 7-year-per-contract Labor Code. It appears he didn't have the votes to get it passed anyway. Don't give up hope though, as Murray says he'll be back next session with an all-encompassing law that covers deal recording artists' rights, the length of recording contracts, music accounting practices and health-care and pension benefits.

    • 2nd Music Industry Hearing Set
      California state legislators have called for a second hearing on record label accounting practices, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 24 in Los Angeles-- presumably so the R.I.A.A. won't skip out on the last part of the hearing to catch a flight-- like they did last time. If the legislators can't uncover the shady accounting dealings in record industry and do something about it, there's simply no hope for civilization. Okay, I am exaggerating a bit, but the terrible accounting practices and shady contracts that permiate the music biz are an open secret. Between these hearings and Murray's proposed law(s), we just may eventually get a level playing field in the music biz. Maybe.

    • Cuban Rappers Open Festival
      ....and end up taken away by the secret police and beaten within an inch of their lives? Perhaps, but the story doesn't say so. Alto Voltaje (High Voltage) opened a Havana rap festival with an anti-police song. Brave move. Other acts scheduled to appear at the festival include The Roots, Mos Def and Dead Pres.

    • Sheryl Crow to Play for 'Big Brother'
      Is this a reward or punishment for the House Guests? Yeah, I'm among the dedicated few who watch this ongoing train wreck of a show.

    • Joan Jett Selling Downloads Of Out Of Print Albums On Her Web Site
      I Love Rock N' Roll, Bad Reputation and the greatest hits collection Fit To Be Tied are all available for download in Mp3 or WMA formats at the above link, for 10 bucks a piece. How can she do this? She owns her masters, of course. Smart cookie, that Joan Jett.

    • Cash Enlists Apple, Henley
      Johnny Cash's American IV: The Man Comes AroundNick CaveFiona Apple singing with Cash on Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and Don Henley guests on his own tune, "Desperado." Read ther story for the whole guest list and track list. It looks awesome, I hope it lives up to my expectations.

    • Axl Speaks "Chinese"
      Axel sez Chinese Democracy remains unfinished, but that he hopes to release it by the end of the year. Once it is released, G N' R could be on the road for the next two or three years. I'll believe it when I see it.

    • Snoop Dogg Goes After Suge and Tha Row in New Song
      With "Pimp Slap" Snoop fires another shot at his old label, a friend (Xzibit, who says Dr. Dre's crew isn't dissing Suge Knight becuase Suge ain't a rapper) and a former friend (Kurupt, who was at Snoop's side but then took a vice president position at Tha Row). You can hear "Pimp Slap" in RealAudio at the above link.

    posted by Randy on 11:43 AM | permanent link to this entry

    Thursday, August 15, 2002

    Area 2 Report: It was a fun night, but I think Smokin' Grooves was my best summer concert experience. The Avalanches, Ash and Busta Rhymes were my faves. David Bowie played a slow-paced set that I found to be a little underwhelming. His set was packed with faves (Life On Mars, Heroes, Fame, Fashion, China Girl, Let's Dance, I'm Afraid of Americans, Ziggy Stardust) and some stuff from Heathen. He seemed like a hip crooner. I would've preferred a different Bowie set-- more glam rock and faster paced stuff (Rebel Rebel, Suffragette City, Diamond Dogs, Panic In Detroit, Watch That Man et. al.). Moby was very energetic and had a great light show. i was entertained. The DJ tent was very hard house focused, definetly not my cup of tea. Blue Man Group were cute at first, but their sthitck (is that how one spells that?) didn't keep me interested for their whole set.

    Two days until my birthday! Thanks to the miracle of overnight shipping, you can still check out my Amazon Wish List anf get the presents here in time!

    Is My Blog Hot Or Not? Right now I'm at 7.9 and I'm very happy with that. That's about where I'd like it to stay-- I don't think my little corner of cyberspace rates and 8, 9 or 10-- but a 7.something is a nice little nuber for me to dwell on.

    • AOL May Have Overstated Revenue
      After weeks of standing by its accounting, AOL Time Warner Inc. acknowledged that there may be problems with the way its America Online unit recognized revenues from at least three transactions. Whoops. Earlier Wednesday, the company said David Colburn, an executive who had negotiated many key advertising deals for America Online, had left the company late last week.

    • Drowning Pool Singer Found Dead
      Dave Williams, lead singer of Drowning Pool, was found dead on the band's tour bus Wednesday afternoon, according to a spokesperson for the group. He was 30 years old. The band was touring as a part of Ozzfest. Cause of death has yet to be determined. Creepy factoid: the band recorded a version of Metallica's "Creeping Death" for the forthcoming an upcoming live album documenting Ozzfest 2002. R.I.P. Dave Williams, from all of us here at

    • Zack De La Rocha Working With NIN's Trent Reznor
      Here's who Zack has worked with thus far on his solo album: The Roots' ?uestlove, Dan the Automator , Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs and now Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Sounds a an awesome collection of producers to me-- I hope the albums represents that gang's best work. It could be awesome.

    • Satellite Radio Providers Plagued With Early Financial Problems
      XM Radio will be out of cash in the first quarter of next year and would have to discontinue operations if it did not raise additional funds. Sirius Radio isn't signing up subscrubers as fast as they originally predicted (though this statement says they aren't in that much trouble. Satellite radio (along with TiVo) is on my to-do list-- but the finances are a little tight right now. I've said it before and I'll say it here-- the first company to offer a Total Music Service (satellite radio, internet radio and downloadable music transferrable to CDs and devices) will get my cash.

    • Top '90s Concert Draw Phish Returns
      Why, oh why must the hiatus end? Well, if it keeps the stinky hippies out of my alt-hip-hop shows, I guess that's a good thing.

    • Mystikal Addresses Rape Charges In New Song
      Mystikal, who was charged with extortion and rape last month, has addressed his recent legal woes in a song called "P--sy Crook," which he performed on Sunday (August 11) at the Summer Jam 2002 event in Irvine, California hosted by Los Angeles radio station KKBT (The Beat). Note to Mystikal: Lawyer Up and Shut Up. Don't you watch Law & Order? NYPD Blue? Don't be writing and performing songs about your alleged crime!

    • Solomon Burke to open for Stones in L.A.
      Last time The Rolling Stones toured North America, the broke with tradition and had rock acts like Pearl Jam, Blues Traveler, Third Eye Blind, Smashing Pumpkins and Sheryl Crow opening up for them. This time around it is largely back to the future, as R&B and blues acts open up the show-- Solomon Burke, the Pretenders, Buddy Guy, Dr. John and Shemekia Copeland, Soulive, Jonny Lang, No Doubt, Shaggy and (once again) Sheryl Crow. But wait, Shaggy? I'm not seeing a real warm response for him. I'd love to be wrong-- but people booed Stevie Wonder and Prince when they opened for the Stones.

    • Dru Hill Getting Ready To Make Girls Scream Again
      Call me cynical-- but I'm remembering that Sisqo's second solo album flopped. Perhaps this led to an ego deflation and then a reunion with his old pals, hmmmmmmmmm? Also, again maybe I'm just cynical, but the girls have moved on to other boys by now, don'tjathink?

    • Beck's Plan For Keeping Everyone Awake: The Flaming Lips
      Very, very cool idea. The Flaming Lips will open for Beck on his upcoming tour and then perform as his backing band. Could be a cool little colab, me thinks.

    posted by Randy on 11:38 AM | permanent link to this entry

    Wednesday, August 14, 2002

    My birthday on Saturday! (Aug 17) What to get me? Peep my Amazon Wish List!

    Tonight I'm going to see the Area: 2 show @ Shoreline Ampitheatre in Mountain View, CA. I'm most psyched to see Moby, David Bowie and The Avalanches. I'm also into seeing Busta Rhymes- but I've seen him four times now and already once this year, so the shine has sort of worn off for me. Still, he always puts on a good show, so I'll be throwing my hands in the air as if I didn't have a care in the world. Given my aversion to techo and all it's cousins, I'm curious to see how long I will be able to stand the DJ tent. I'll report back here tomorrow.

    Distant Early Warning:Come check me out spinning as DJ MC Hesher @ The Attic (3326 24th St. in San Francisco) on Sat., Aug. 24th!! I'll be spinning a fun mix of hip-hop/funk/soul/mash-ups/club classics. Flyers and more reminders to come.

    • Business Week On Digital Music
      MUST. READ. OF. THE. WEEK. There's a lot of articles in this package, but each of them is well done and on the money.

    • Battles of the Copyright Crusader
      This Financial Times profile of R.I.A.A. chairman and chief executive Hilary Rosen doesn't reveal anything new about its subject, but it does have a few interesting nuggets. 1) Indeed, the R.I.A.A. is actively exploring suing individual file traders. 2) Lyor Cohen, chairman of Island Def Jam Records, will probably be called on the carpet after this quote: "Why close those services if you don't have an alternative service? Your customers have already told you that they want all the music all the time, digitally and conveniently, so to give them some of the music some of the time is not knowing your customer." and 3) Rosen still doesn't get it: "We're never going to offer the Napster experience - we're never going to give away our entire catalogue for five bucks a month, but we can offer something that is a good service and fairly priced."

    • Vivendi to Sell $9.8 Billion In Assets
      Mostly their publishing house and other bits and pieces. No concrete word yet about their entertainment assessts.

    • John Oates Finds His Solo Voice
      John Oates, have you no apperication of the delicate balance of the universe? The yin-and-the-yang! You are the silent one! You don't get to make solo album! If the end of the world comes soon, we know who to blame.

    • Motley Crue Coming to Silver Screen
      The group has signed a deal to turn their autobiography The Dirt into a flick. It's a pretty gritty story, but the end of the story arc (get clean, keep on rockin') isn't as interesting as the beginning and middle. I'll be curious to see who directs and who writes. In the right hands, it could be a beautiful thing. In other hands, it could be "Glitter."

    • N.Y.C. to Consider Cell Phone Rules
      The law would make it a $50 fine for speaking on cell phones in theaters, museums and libraries, except for in emergencies. I hope it is a law making craze that sweeps the nation.

    • Megadeth to Record Buddy Holly Tune
      Except, not really. Blame the AP for lazy headline writing. In truth, lead guitarist Marty Friedman and bassist Dave Ellefson (both of the now broken-up Megadeth) teamed up with singer Steve Richards to record an unfinished Buddy Holly tune called "That Makes It Tough," more than 40 years after Holly's death. The tune was one of the last Holly wrote before his death in a 1959 plane crash at age 22. He recorded it informally on what are called "The Apartment Tapes."

    • Group Collects for John Denver Statue
      The Windstar Foundation, founded in 1976 by singer/songwriter and environmentalist John Denver along with Aikido Master Tom Crum, will unveil a life-sized bronze state of Denver at the Windstar Land Conservancy this October. You can buy smaller versions if you want. I usually don't display images here, but this is too priceless:

    • Mosaic Buys Early Aerosmith Library
      Friends Don't Let Friends Sell Or Sign Away Their Publishing Rights. At least in this case Aerosmith still has 50% of their publishing.

    • Senator Spars With RIAA Over 'Seven-Year Rule'
      "For the RIAA to present their demands as compromises or concessions was an insult to the recording artists, attorneys, and managers that have been working for months to resolve this issue," says Murray in a statement. He also says the current impasse in negotiations on the seven-year rule has hardened artists' resolve to repeal the current law.

    • Clear Channel Air Talent Stage Boycott
      They are protesting Clear Channel's efforts to "voice track" (i.e. use canned DJs) in the New York City market. Negotiations between Clear Channel and AFTRA have stalled over a company proposal that would give it the unrestricted right to voicetrack programs into the New York market. CC-NY talent wrote to the company saying voicetracking "would undermine wage standards, harm programming quality, erode the vital connection between local listeners and Clear Channel stations and ultimately destroy the stationsí ratings and revenue." Clear Channelís New York stations include WKTU, WWPR, WLTW, WAXQ, and WHTZ. All very admirable-- except they boycotted a company sponsored softball tourney in Central Park. Given the average phycical condition of a radio DJ, it doesn't surprise me that they were trying to get out of physical activity.

    posted by Randy on 11:11 AM | permanent link to this entry

    Tuesday, August 13, 2002

    My birthday on Saturday! (Aug 17) What to get me? Peep my Amazon Wish List!

      Very nice blog featuring news/views about and reviews of music and books from numerous contributors. I'll add it to those links over there on the left nav bar in a quick minute.

    • Hollywood's Private War for Social Control
      Nice piece by Richard Forno in The Register about the Hollywood's continual grasping at straws and efforts to draft unconstitutional laws vis-a-vis file sharing and losing market share. Speaking of which....

    • My Baby, She Wrote Me A Letter
      On July 25th, 2002, nineteen United States Senators sent a letter to United States Attorney General John Ashcroft asking that the U.S. Department Of Justice begin prosecuting file traders. In response, Rafael Quezada has written an excellent letter that you can sign your name to. I couldn't encourage you stronger to read all the letters and let your representatives know where you stand. But then again...

    • Geeks in government: A good idea?
      Declan McCullagh has a piece at saying that it is better for geeks to program and test the system by pusing the envelope than to get all involved with letter writing campaigns. I vaguely disagree. I think geeks should program/push the envelope and stay in touch with their representatives and get the word out to "the normals" about the government/Big Media's efforts to infringe on their rights. Fight the war on all fronts. Also, money talks. Give to candidates that respect your views.

    • Singer Adam Ant Admits 'Cowboy' Incident
      Adam Ant admitted in court that he strode into the Prince of Wales pub in north London dressed in a cowboy hat and combat jacket and with a starting gun in his pocket, intent on "pistol whipping" the husband of a woman he had befriended. His composure evaporated when customers began giggling at his outfit and mocked him by humming the theme from "The Good The Bad and The Ugly." He left, but later flung a car alternator through the pub's window- leading to Cowboy Adam being chased by pub customers that he scared off by pulling the starting pistol from his pocket.

    • Singer Out on Bail After Arrest
      Tish Hinojosa and a companion were busted with 30 pills of the so-called "date-rape" drug Rohypnol when they were returning from Mexico. Turns out Hinojosa thought they had bought Ecstasy and apparently were duped. Not the best defense I ever heard, but more power to her.

    • Sam's New Album Presents Challenge
      Sam Moore' s Plenty Good Lovin' is a collection of songs that were recorded 30 years ago and were found only recently. Moore apparently has had some trouble hitting the same notes he hit back then, but he's willing to tough it out. Go, Sam, go!

    • Nas Sets Release For God's Son, Pooh-Poohs Jay-Z's Challenge
      Nas will drop God's Son on November 19. It will feature production work by Large Professor, Alchemist and Irv Gotti. But guess what-- it's coming out on Ill WillColumbia! Even though Nas is on a street song right now saying he is alligned with The Inc., Nas said "I've always had a great relationship with Columbia and look forward to making records with them for the rest of my career." He also turned down Jay-Z's pay-per-view battle offer saying ""Pay-per-view is for wrestlers and boxers. I make records. If Jay-Z wants to battle, he should drop his album the same day I do and let the people decide."

    • Top-Earning Dead Celebrities
      Death as a career moive, now recognized by Forbes magazine.

    posted by Randy on 11:15 AM | permanent link to this entry

    Monday, August 12, 2002

    Is My Blog Hot Or Not? 7.5 this morning-- still in my comphy mid-7 range. Any lower that 7 and I feel bad. Any higher than 7 and you'll have Leo ego issues to deal with.

    Speaking of which-- it is my birthday on Saturday! (Aug 17) What to get me? Peep my Amazon Wish List!

    Distant Early Warning: Come check me out spinning as DJ MC Hesher @ The Attic (3326 24th St. in San Francisco) on Sat., Aug. 24th!! I'll be spinning a fun mix of hip-hop/funk/soul/mash-ups/club classics. Flyers and more reminders to come.

    • Lawmakers Ask Ashcroft to Target Online Song Swappers
      In a July 25 letter released late Thursday, some 19 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle asked Ashcroft to prosecute "peer-to-peer" networks like Kazaa and Morpheus and the users who swap digital songs, video clips and other files without permission from artists or their record labels. This all ties into the copyright battle being fought between consumers and Big Media.

      If any of the following are your representatives, please write them (House or Senate) and let them know how wrong they are: Sen. Joseph Biden, Rep. Lamar Smith, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Rep, Robert C. Scott, Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Rep. Howard Coble, Rep. Henry Hyde, Sen. Rick Santorurn, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Sen. Gordon Smith, Rep. Robert Wexler, Rep. William L. Jenkins, Rep. Ed Bryant, Rep. Lindsey 0. Graham, Rep. Adam B.Schiff, Rep. Ric Keller, Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Melissa Hart and Sen. Diane Feinstein .

    • a blog by Edward W. Felten Associate Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University dedicated to watching legal threats to tinkerers, the people who pry open technology to understand how it works, to improve it, or to make interoperable devices. Also lotsa copyright stuf there as well. Felten stood up to the music industry when they got all huffy about his white-paper on the security flaws in the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI).

    • Widespread Panic Guitarist Dies
      Michael "Mikey" Houser, guitarist and singer for the rock band Widespread Panic, died Saturday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 40.

    • Ex-Chief of Vivendi Plans Tell-All Book
      Best. Title. Ever. How I Was Betrayed. A little bitter, are we?

    • Coors to Sponsor Miramax Premieres
      When you see Coors in a Moramaz picture over the next three years, it will be no accident. The two companies made a deal to place Coors products in 15 films over the next three years.

    • Beck Heading Acoustic Route On New Album
      Sea Change, which is due September 24, will be more like Mutations and less like Midnite Vultures or Odelay!, sez a label spokesperson.

    • Nelly, Ashanti, Shadows Fall Agree: CDs Should Be Cheaper
      What a daring stance for them to take! Not. It's like saying "(Your City Here) Audiences Are The Best Audiences In The World!" Cheap pop. Let's see some action-- like back in the day when Tom Petty argued with his label about what to prices his latest album.

      Nice piece by Hank Bordowitz about how the record industry is busy fighting over Gen Y kids with limited media attention spans when parents and older siblings still have time and money to spend on music but can't find anything worth buying.

    • I Wanna Rock!
      Very nice piece about how Dallas station KKZN-FM is beating their Clear Channel competition by, you know, playing music that the local audience wants to hear. Revolutionary concept, eh?

    posted by Randy on 12:25 PM | permanent link to this entry

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