Saturday, December 08, 2007

50 Cent - Visonary? Oh Wait, wasn't he a thief or drug dealer or something....

Read the whole story here
So let me get this straight, Fitty thinks stealing is ok? duh! Know why? Because the more fans he has the more money he makes. How do do you make people become fans? Let them HEAR your music. This isn't the first time I've used the "pusher" cliche but it is true. Give them a taste for free and they will PAY over and over and over again to get more of what they crave.

Monday, November 12, 2007

One Laptop Per Child - Give one, Get One program

About 10 or 12 years ago I read Nicholas Negroponte's book "Being Digital". It formed a perfect trilogy with two other books I had read at about the same time Freeman Dyson's "The Sun, The Genome and the Internet." and George Dyson's "Darwin Among the Machines". These three tomes had a huge impact on my appreciation for where current technologies had come from and where they are headed. Which lead in a round about way to my current company, Aderra Inc.

Since writing "Being Digital" Negroponte, Founder of MIT's Media Lab, has spearheaded a campaign to create a low cost durable laptop to be distributed to children in developing nations. The initial goal of One Laptop Per Child was to build each machine for $100 (a seemingly laughable feat when the project was announced...). The project has been maligned by bloggers and the press who ask if there isn't a more practical way to help children throughout the world (medicine, food?).

In the end the OLPC machines ended up costing $200 (double the original goal but still pretty amazing). The machines are not only low cost but include open source software, all flash based memory and storage, the ability to charge via rip cord, crank or solar power (someone read "The sun, The Internet and the Genome...) and a screen that is visible in direct sunlight and also bright enough to provide simple lighting at night in homes with our electricity.

This month the OLPC program is has a unique oportunity. For $399 you can purchase a laptop for you own child (or yourself...) and they will donate one machine to a child overseas.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Look over there ->

I added the Saul Williams embed. Haven't heard the tracks yet but I am supporting this in principal anyway.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Where to start? Madonna, NIN, Radiohead, Saul Williams, Charlatans

Has the world gone crazy? Seems that a lot of high profile artists are jumping off of major labels in favor of going it through the internet/indie route.
I think most anyone would have seen this coming eventually but it seems like the Dominoes are falling fast.
On top of it all Atlantic Records is releasing a USB drive of the new Matchbox 20 album without any anti-piracy protection! A major label?! No DRM?!

Led Zeppelin and AC/DC have finally made the move to make downloads available though with DRM. I htink the only major hold outs might be the Beatles and with the addition of all of their solo catalogs to iTunes I have a feeling we will be seeing them on the web as soon as their long rumored Re-Mastered box set is released.

I tried to buy the Radiohead release through their website on the first day it was available and couldn't because the site kept crashing. Not sure if this was due to heavy traffic or just the poor design of the site.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Reznor makes the move.

Trent Reznor, the man behind Nine Inch nails, announced that he was leaving Universal Records and making NIN a completely independent outfit. This comes as no surprise given his recent web rants about how the record company was gouging customers with high CD prices. This comes on the heels of Radiohead's move to release their new album on their own through their website. This is surely the future for established artists but how will new acts reach the status of NIN or Radiohead to be able to do this?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avril Lavigne Manga USB thumb drive bracelet

Gotta admit I'm not the biggest Avril fan but this is pretty cool. There are 11 episodes of a manga comic featuring the Canadian singer in flash animation on here. Even cooler is that they are in either English, Chinese or Japanese. You can read more about it .

Thursday, September 13, 2007

MTV VMAs - Who will still be performing in 2047?

Last night I watched a documentary that Clint Eastwood created about Tony Bennett. They are both OLD guys who are doing the best work of their lives. Eastwood's work as a director has a depth and soul that is unequaled among his younger peers. Bennett's voice has been enriched by age. It got me thinking about Sunday's Video Music Award show. Was there any artist on that show that will not only be performing in forty years let alone have improved to be at their lifetime best?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Guess I should start watching TV!

I don't see much TV, and award shows? Never. But this is pretty damn cool. "Clampdown" from the London Calling Album (One of the best collections of songs in the past 50 years) is one of the main reasons I ever picked up a guitar.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

DRM- Doesn't Really Matter? Because almost everyone is selling songs without it.

A lot of news about DRM free sales today: from the Black Eyed Peas opened his own digital download store with all tracks available with Digital Rights Management(DRM) (DRM is anti-copying software designed to prevent piracy but actually just limits the types of device the file can be played on.)HERE is an article about it.
In a previously announced move, Wal-Mart began selling DRM downloads through it's online store today. This will include tracks for artists on both the EMI and Universal. HERE is the full article.
The Rolling Stones are included in the tracks available on Wal-Mart's service as well as on 7Digital is selling The Stones' albums from the early 70's through their latest a Bigger Bang. The tracks are in very high resolution MP3 format, 320kbps (roughly double the quality of a standard iTunes track.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

U.S. Government Debt - Like a shopper at the mall on a credit card rampage.

This is frightening. The United States has been funding our overseas adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan by borrowing money from foreign countries. The majority of this debt is held by China. This past week there was some saber rattling by the Chinese about selling off their U.S. notes. This would bankrupt the U.S. instantly. I completely understand using debt responsibly but I am concerned that Mr. Bush's team may have made America more vulnerable to an economic catastrophe by leveraging our solid credit history (the dollar has been the most stable currency since World War II) in their strange attempt to restructure the political structure of the Mid-East. Read more in the Financial Times HERE.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Disco Biscuits Live on USB jump drive Bracelet!

This is the coolest: Disco Biscuits - Click HERE

At the Camp Bisco Festival in New York this week, The Disco Biscuits will be recording their sets and making them immediately available to the attendees on a USB stick. But wait, its not a stick its a bracelet!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss!?

Whole Lotta Twang T. Bone Burnett is producing a new collaboration by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Not sure if there are any plans for a tour. I'd love to hear Union Station cover Kashmir though it might make more sense to tackle some of the rootsy material on Zeppelin III.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Live Music - Julia Albert at The Derby, Los Angeles

Julia Albert showcased the songs from here new CD, More Real Than This, at the The Derby in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. She and her three piece back group filled the intimate venue with the powerful new tunes. I have never shared the stage with three more talented people, masterful fretwork from Allen Moreno and Urban Olsson and unbelievably souful singing from Julia herself. Look for her to perform at Kulak's Woodshed on Aug 11. This performance will be webcast.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Carbon Offsets - Fund new tree growth in U.S. National Forests

The National Forest Foundation in the U.S. has a carbon offset program that is geared toward improving our National Forests. On their website They have a "Carbon Calculator" that helps you determine what your household's carbon footprint is. A typical American is responsible for an average of 10.73 metric tons of carbon output per year. If you fly as often as I do that can quickly double or triple. After running the calculator you can place a donation for $6 per metric ton. This money is used to plant and maintain new trees in on U.S. land. Many other carbon offset programs are sued to plant new growth in other countries. While this is still helpful (carbon dioxide has no borders) it is an added benefit to improve our own park System while lower the impact of our domestic CO2 output.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Don't drive through the yellow snow - Zappa Strasse!

Berlin honors late guitar great Frank Zappa by naming a street after him. HERE is the full story.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

New Record Co to issue all release on Flash Drive Only

Record label Superfrothco has announced that all of their release will be on USB jump drive only. Read more here: Superfrothco

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New CD Release - Julia Albert ...More Real Than This

Julia Albert's New CD was recently released by Fresh Baked Music. The five song collection is a triumph of tasteful production and inventive songwriting. Industry vets Michael James and Urban Olsson handled mixing and production duties to bring out the best in Julia's already amazing voice. Watch for her live sets in Los Angeles: Saturday July 28th at the Hollywood Book Festival, 5PM; August 1 at the Derby in Los Feliz, 9PM and August 11 at Kulak's Woodshed 8PM (This show will also be simultaneously webcast). Her live band is Urban Olsson on Guitar and backing vocals , Allen Moreno on lead guitar and backing vocals and me on percussion, electric sitar and lapsteel.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Best New Band from a Northern Land - Shaye

I am absolutely blown away by these three girls: Shaye Website.
I have downloaded some of their tracks from iTunes but they really shine live with stripped down arrangements and angelic singing. I can't wait until they come to L.A.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Music Industry hires mercenaries to pose as police

This is a fascinating article about the RIAA's new tactic to combat piracy. They hire ex-policeofficers, dress them in paramilitary uniforms and send them out to raid potential pirates. The article appeared here in the LA Weekly.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

White Stripes Release New Album on USB Flash Drive

Following in the footsteps of the Barenaked Ladies, Keane, The Fratellis, Killola and L.A. Tight the White Stripes have announced a limited release of their new Icky Thump Album on a USB jumpdrive. The drives are styled to look like little versions of Jack and Meg in the Mariachi costumes they wear on the CD cover. The crazy thing is the price $99.00!! Ridiculously overpriced.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Bob Marley Exodus Relased on USB jumpdrive by Island Records

Island Records has announced that they will be releasing Bob Marley's seminal 1977 album, Exodus on a USB flash drive. The release will include the original 10 album tracks as well as three videos of live performances from London's Rainbow Theater and Marley wallpaper for your computer. Read the full story here.

I applaud the forward thinking people at Island for leaving the 20th century behind!! If only the rest of the record industry could be so brave, they might actually make some money outside of suing fans.

Monday, May 28, 2007

3 Steps for Freelance Success

For the past year I have worked with a number of freelancers from a wide range of professions, programmers, video editors, musicians, graphic designers, photographers, audio engineers, web designers, cameramen, tech consultants etc. Across the board I have noticed the key issues and attitudes that a freelancer brings to the project that ensure success and also ensure that I will re-hire and refer them to others. Here are the three most important things to keep in mind when pursuing a career doing independent freelance work.

1) Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.
ALWAYS meet deadlines. If you see that you can't, give the person you are working with as much warning as possible. Everyone understands that situations can change quickly and that some adaptation must take place. DO NOT let the deadline slip by and then blame it away with excuses. You are a professional, you agreed to the scope of the project, there are no excuses.

2) Communicate.
Communicate clearly and often. Offer updates on your progress(brief updates). Identify obstacles that have appeared on the horizon. Do not toil away in silence. There should be no true surprises along the way if you have clearly communicated everything.

3) You live off of reputation and referrals.
Don't ever forget that.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Indy 500 - Flash Drive!

Ok I am trying to work in an AJ Foyt or Danica Patrick joke here but coming up blank(The only thing that rhymes with "Danica" is "Panica"???). Here's a cool Indy 500 Flash Drive from my friends at Drive like a Flash!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Amazon Announces Music Download Store to Compete with iTunes

Here is a brief story about Amazon's plans to launch a DRM free download store in partnership with EMI.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

"No wonder people steal music" - Trent Reznor

Here are a few notes from Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor on music piracy and record label pricing scams. I have never been the biggest NIN fan but his latest marketing campaign for Year Zero has been a model for artists looking to further their connection with their audience (and therefore their income) in the post-major label era.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Apple's Greatest Marketing Coup for 2007

iPhone? Apple TV? Those wacky TV commercials? 80GB video iPod?
Nope. How about Windows Vista. Now I know I am a bit late to get on the Vista bashing bandwagon but yesterday was the first time I have had a chance to work with Vista.
I was setting up a new notebook system for one of our field reps. Two words come to mind: Slow and annoying. It seems that the folks up in Redmond thought that the best way to plug the gaping security flaws with XP was to prompt the user for confirmation each and every time they actually try to use any application. And plugging in external memory? Fine as long as you can wait 5-6 minutes while Vista figures out what is going on.
Is it prettier than XP? Yes. I think I have finally been pushed to make the permanent move to a Mac.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Next Stop: Tralfamadore

In all of the news reports of the death of Kurt Vonnegut I have not seen his best three novels mentioned: Bluebeard, Galapagos and Breakfast of Champions.

While his writing was vastly different than the usual pantheon of mid 20th century American authors (Hemingway, Miller, Fitzgerald etc.) Vonnegut still conjured the lost, lonely experience of a populace thrust into two World Wars and the Great Depression followed by the giddy post war years.

Monday, April 02, 2007

iTunes and EMI - Downloads without DRM

Rumors had been floating around for the past month or so that EMI would make the move and sell their catalog without any DRM system. As the owner of the Beatles catalog this was especially exciting as to date no Beatles tracks have been legally downloadable.
Apple and EMI announced today that the iTunes music site will now carry the full EMI catalog, with the sad exception of the Beatles, without any DRM attached. This only makes sense as the major labels have no problem selling physical CDs which don't have any DRM!

Additional details are HERE.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Indie Victory on iTunes!

Today is the day. I posted a few weeks ago about an effort to push an indie artist to the top of the charts on iTunes. You can find more info about this effort at Bum Rush The Charts. The band that is featured is Black Lab.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Music! I have been looking for this Internet radio station!

I have been looking for a cool Internet radio station form the middle east. Having spent a lot of time there in the past five years I miss the music! One of the highlights of my travels there was sitting and listening to an Egyptian group of about 15 musicians blasting through 4 hours of traditional music. I loved it so much I bought an Oud on a trip to Cairo and took lessons when I returned here to Los Angeles. (Who knew you could find and Oud teacher in L.A. let alone an Oud salesman in Cairo who went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor?!)
I have found a lot of talk radio from the region but with my severely limited Arabic it was not too interesting. Finding music has been difficult and spotty. This site from Beirut is awesome:
Radio Sawt.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

New Music Service - Major Acts, No DRM

Canadian Indie Powerhouse Nettwerk Records has recently teamed up to sell music downloads for their artists through the Amie Street service. Amie has an interesting sales model. Every track by every artist starts out as being available for free. As the song is download more and more times the price rises to coincide with the track's popularity. The maximum cost is 98 cents. Nettwerk is home to an impressive roster of talent from the Great White North including Sarah Maclachlan, Avril Lavigne and the Barenaked Ladies.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Live Music Recording on a Flash Drive??


Aderra Audio Systems
The WHOLE concert. The WHOLE presentation. The WHOLE religious service.
Right there, on the spot, before the audience leaves the building.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

An Indie Artist #1 on iTunes!?

March 22, 2007: We can all contribute to make an independent, DRM free band #1 on the iTunes charts.
Go here for more info.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

DSL out for 27 Hours

Argh! Our DSL service (SBC/new AT&T) was out for just a little over a day. The tech showed up this afternoon. Turns out the modem had croaked. We have a brand new Siemens modem sending this signal out. I spent most of the day working at Starbucks!
Of course we have two great indie coffeehouses here in South Pasadena but do either of them have any wi-fi hotspot access? No. I hate to patronize the evil empire coffee place but if the bohemians can't get me on the net what am I supposed to do? (work on a screenplay like all of the other Mac toting poseurs??)
At any rate, we are back up and running.

Friday, February 09, 2007

EMI Seriously Considering Non-DRM Music Downloads

It is about time one of the major record companies came to their senses! Read the story here:

Sources say EMI to drop DRM

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Steve Jobs Calls for the end of Music DRM!!

Thank you Mr. Jobs ! I am glad to hear that there is finally a growing concensus that DRM is actually slowing music sales. I wonder if the record company executives and shareholders who are desperately clinging to their old business models are aware that most DRM (including the system iTunes uses) can be completely disabled with a 35 cent blank CD-R. These companies would be well advised to move forward and either develop new business models or accept that their revenues will continue to shrink until they can no longer operate. Let me be clear, there is a place for the major labels. Their marketing muscle is remarkable but they must adapt to the marketplace.

Apple to Major Record Labels "Drop DRM".

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Prince SuperBowl Half-time Show, Foo Fighters!

Prince. Lots can be said about the wee purple one. His halftime show tonight ROCKED and funked a ruled. In the rain even (purple and actual). The craziest thing? He did a Foo Fighters song!! In the middle of mainstream American TV he decided to dedicate 25% of his time on stage to a very Hendrix-y cover of a Foo Fighters tune? Is this a return compliment to Dave Grohl and Co. for their blistery take on Darling Nikki??
I have never ever seen him with a Stratocaster before. Always the Hofner Tele copy or one of his weird "symbol" guitars. Can you imagine a club gig with Prince, a Strat and a Marshall?
One really weak thing I noticed: NO shots of his band!!! Sure we saw the back up singer, the two dancers and the glow in the dark marching band (pretending they were playing!) but not a single pass over of the NPG! Dammit CBS.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Solar Power Cellphone!

My RAZR is officially off the grid. (powerwise, if it were off the GSM grid it'd be, well, useless.)
I have been using the AOC Razor charger this week. Si it saving the world Bono-style from green house gases? no. Is it one step toward Freeman Dyson's vision of solar independence? Yes.
Here's the thing: Dumping a ton of money into making your home totally solar powered is fine. A more realistic approach for all of us is to shoulder some simpler energy burdens with solar. Maybe personal panels like this to power gadgets and laptops. Maybe a single solar panel to contribute to your home's energy efficiency(while still relying on the local utility to provide the lion's share of your electrical power needs). EVERY little bit helps reduce YOUR individual carbon footprint. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Prince Charles is now a Saint because he is eschewing the use of his private jet..
If you can't make that a big a sacrifice ( I would LOVE to give up the use of MY private jet so I could ride in First freakin' class!) the least you can do is get on board with some simple, low cost alternates to provide SOME (but not all) of your energy needs.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Wisest words I have heard about music downloads - Video

From the Barenaked Ladies - Here is an interview in which Ed and Steve (the main singers/songwriters) explain their take on filesharing, P2P, DRM MP3s and the future of the music industry. Check this video out HERE.

Digital Rights Management(DRM) Vanishing in 2007

HERE is an intersting article about the recent Midem conference in France. The industry consensus is that DRM will shrivel away in the next few years. This challenges the Apple model (kudos to Steve Jobs for selling the "major" labels on iTunes' DRM which can easily be subverted with a 35 cent CDR) as well as the entrenched, desperate worldview of most record companies that they can cling to their historoc revenue model. If the big record companies would stop pining away for the coke fueled glory days of the seventies and eighties and jump on to new ways to monetize the content they can provide they could come oput the other end with an entirely new business model that could be even more profitable than the old school record, press, sell method.

Interview with Epitaph Records Founder/ Bad Religion Guitarist Bret Gurewitz

HERE is a short Q&A with Brett Gurewitz from Bad Religion. He discusses the current sate of the music business as well as his run in with The Offspring.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Albums Released on USB Flash Drive

Here is an interesting story about a band that has released their album on a jump drive. The Barenaked Ladies were the pioneers when they released their Christmas album a few years ago but now it seems that other bands are following suit. Just this past year Keane released a single on a flash drive. The future is now.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

CES - Solar Power!

I ran across a cool little solar charger for cell phones and MP3 players at CES. It is built into the mold of a Motorola RAZR. It is very cool for two reasons: 1) it has an on board battery so it can charge itself and then later charge your phone or iPod. 2) The price is about half of what the Solio costs (I blogged about the Solio recently, I still think it's a great product but this new unit seems to be a better alternative.)
I am working on having my import company, MotherBoard LLC, distribute these things.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cascading Style Sheets - CSS Zengarden

I began HTML programming in the early to mid-nineties. After 1997 or so I didn't do much hands on programming because my job didn't require anything except oversight of our web presence. As I have started my own businesses over the past 6 months I have been thrust back into it (mostly to keep costs down) and I have been shocked at how sophisticated web programming has become. Simply learning about Cascading Style Sheets has been an eye opener (cackle on everyone who has mastered ruby on rails, AJAX etc....). Taking a crash course in web 2.0 design has led me to be absolutely blown away and smitten with CSS. I am taking baby steps to implement it for sure but this site has shown me just how incredibly freakin powerful this is. The premise of the site is that the underlying HTML code remains the same but the layout and look are DRASTICALLY changed by the CSS code. The various design examples are brilliant on their own but given the fact that they are ALL hitting the same exact code is just mind boggling to me. I have loaded some screen captures from the site but I think it is much more worthwhile for you to explore it on you own.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

CES 2007 - What is the killer new technology?

I spent the day at CES in Las Vegas yestrday. It was a whirlwind visit. I had six meetings with suppliers crammed into the day as well as a little time to walk through the Sands Expo, the Hilton and the LV Convention Center. I am hard pressed to say that I saw anything truly new or mindblowing. (Given that I was moving so quickly I could easily have overlooked something...)Incremental improvements or innovations maybe but nothing that shocked or surprised. (Of course if I had been at MacWorld I would have been wowed by the expected but still cool new iPhone.)
I was sitting at a restaurant at the Venetian when almost simultaneously three people at surrounding tables got messages on their Blackberrys, "iPhone!"
The trend I did notice was that Motorola, Yhaoo and Microsoft all seem to be putting alot of negy into making the cell phone the be all end all gadget. Including more music playing functionality, more browsing capabilities, video downloads etc. Again nothing new.
One word of advice for those of you leaveing the LVCC at the end of the day: Monorail. I took the Monorial to Paris and then got a taxi, there was no one in front of me (compared to the hour plus wait at the curb out side the show.)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Trouble No More - Ray LaMontagne

One of the joys of 2004 was discovering Ray Lamontagne. I was driving on the 210 freeway from Pasadena to Duarte one chilly morning in November or December. I flipped the radio to NPR and heard an ancient soulful voice ache across the airwaves. Part Otis Redding part mountain man. I was shocked to hear such a genuinely heartbreaking sound.
It was Ray LaMontagne. His Trouble album was one of the greatest Cds I had come a cross in a decade. Let me set the record straight, I am jaded, I am cynical, I have seen and heard it all. To be moved so deeply by a new artist was astonishing to me even as it was happening. I bought at least a dozen copies of the CD to give to friends and family that I thought needed to hear it.
Ray's new CD, 'Til the Sun Turns Black is another great collection. Ethan Johns produced both. While trouble was raw and live, the new collection is more thoughtful and introspective. A little less rough around the edges but still brilliant. And we get a sweet dose of Muscle Shoals Style horns to boot.