Shuffle Interrupt

Most days I come down the the Underground Lair® and hit shuffle on the Apple Music library and roll with that for awhile. Invariably a track bubbles up that simply demands you stop – do not pass go – and return immediately to the beginning of that album and play it all the way through. Blood Sugar Sex Magik is one of said instances.

The shuffle track that launched it today? Track 7, ‘Mellowship Slinky in B Major’.

Joe Rogan Sells to Spotify

Photo by Jonathan Velasquez on Unsplash

Podcaster Joe Rogan has sold his immensely popular podcast to Spotify:

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/may/24/spotify-podcast-deal-the-joe-rogan-experience

From the article:

“By requiring Rogan’s listeners to use the Spotify app to tune in, the company gains far deeper data about who, when and where their audiences are; that, in turn, can be fed through to advertisers, who are more likely to pay higher rates if they can be assured that the target audience is listening. Control of the player also allows Spotify to vary the advertising to the audience, again increasing revenue.”

Alex Hern, The Guardian

This is unfortunate. I understand the need for these podcasters to generate revenue for their shows – they deserve something for their effort and advertising is one way to do that, however I prefer the more direct ‘donation/subscription’ model of someone like Sam Harris – where I feel I’m more directly supporting the person and their work vs. paying a large corporation who’s going to track my actions and advertise back at me. There are several other people on the internet who’s work I feel I directly benefit from and therefore I’m happy to support directlyBrad Warner and Ben Weaver among them. This move by Spotify will effectively position it as the Facebook of Podcasting. 99% of people probably won’t care – and to me that’s part of the problem.

I’d never used Spotify for several reasons, I am happy with Apple Music and I didn’t like their app/interface. This gives me one more reason to opt out. It will be a shame because if/when Rogan’s show goes exclusive on the platform, I’ll miss it.

Fargo Rock City

I recently re-read Chuck Klosterman’s ‘Fargo Rock City’. If you ever owned even one metal record in the 80’s and haven’t read it, it’s a must-read. Period. It’s a bit dated now, but still fantastic. As such, I’m rolling through my old cassette collection from back in the day thanks to the modern magic of Apple Music. A forgotten gem right here – Bulletboys. I didn’t realize these cats were a: still putting records out; b: had such the revolving door of members over the years including the likes of DJ Ashba, Stephen Adler, Keri Kelli and more. These guys were fringe back in the day but their videos for ‘Smooth Up In Ya’ and ‘For the Love of Money’ got heavy rotation on MTV. Listening back now, they had a lot of Van Halen going on in ‘em – in a good way. I was just commenting to @tyler how I preferred my metal vocalists to be more of the ‘gritty’ sound than the more operatic (i.e. Jani Lane) sound. Marq Torien fit that bill, and apparently is currently the only original member of the band. Works for me. Excuse me while I do some scissor kicks. 

Catching Up With Old Musical Friends

Our Lady Peace’s first record hit me like a bag of bricks. Unreal. Still a go to. Came out in1994?! Damn. I had a ‘relationship’ with this band before I was married. I’ve had a ‘relationship’ with this band longer than I’ve been married. Maybe this band influenced my decision to marry a Canadian. Them and Rush. There were, of course, other reasons I chose to marry my wife, but Canadian Rock seems almost as good as any of those.

OLP are touring this year with Matthew Good. Another Canadian man/band I have a long-time ‘relationship’ with. There’s a YouTube clip of a modern-day Raine Maida and Matthew Good visiting the archives of what used to be MuchMusic and watching videos of themselves from their first appearances on the network. It’s like visiting a house you used to share with 5 friends that’s now inhabited by someone else. It’s wistful, weird, nostalgic, sad, uncomfortable and creepy all at the same time.

I saw OLP at the 9:30 Club in DC on the Clumsy tour with my best friend at the time – a buddy that would later be my Best Man. I think maybe 250 people were there – 500 tops. Nuts. That’s my hipster ‘I liked ‘em before they were ‘uge – at least in the States’ – cred.

I dug subsequent records after the first one. Clumsy, Happiness is a Fish… We started to drift apart a bit with Spiritual Machines.

Then I completely lost them over the years. Chalk it up to the usual stupidity. I was ignorant. I still wanted ‘em to sound like Naveed. I completely refused to acknowledge that as I’ve grown as a person so has the band, we are now different people (in some respects, quite literally), but in some ways the same. Perhaps I didn’t want to acknowledge my ascent into adulthood. Even in musical terms.

Their new record popped up on Apple Music this week. I haven’t listened to anything since Spiritual Machines. Listening to Somethingness is like catching up with old friends. Neither one of us is the person we were for that first record anymore, and I’ve learned we shouldn’t expect that of each other. Further down this road we’re on, it’s been nice to run into ‘em again.

It really doesn’t matter if you think this record is any good or not. Or if I tell you that it is and you agree or disagree. At this point in our relationship, everything is between me and them.

The Long, Lingering Death of the CD

The Grammy winning packaging for Tool’s album, 10,000 Days, art directed by band member Adam Jones. Photo by Josh Janicek

Best Buy to Pull CDs from Retail Stores

It’s been at least a year, maybe two since I bought a physical CD. As someone who’s library was at one point pushing the 1,000 unit mark, I find that fascinating.

I held on to my CDs for a long time, even after subscribing to Apple Music. I finally unloaded them all to a collector a few months ago for a painstakingly low sum when contrasted against the sentimental value they had for me. But the value was just that, sentimental.

At some point I bought in to the subscription music model. I still believe in supporting the artists in whatever way I can. Regrettably, the current music landscape has shifted so that artists no longer make the most of their money on sales – their money comes from touring and live shows – something I rarely take in anymore. Though I was – and continue to be -at odds with how artists are paid by streaming services, I had at some point to simply give up, and hope that somewhere, somehow, there were people working to make sure that artists were fairly paid for licensing their work to steaming services. History and a gut feeling about the industry tells me that the reality is, they probably aren’t.

I used to spend hours with new CDs. When I got a new CD from a favorite artist, I poured over photos, liner notes and detritus for clues about the artist and the music the album contained. I loved seeing new and innovative ways to package CDs – jewel cases, paper folios, gatefold packaging and the like. I believe there’s even a Grammy handed out for best packaging – what will become of that now?

I wonder if there will ever be a resurgence of CD interest in the same way there has been vinyl, but I doubt it. There simply isn’t the same attraction. I was a ‘middle’ kid – I discovered music in the age of the cassette and subsequently the CD, so vinyl never held the same nostalgic feel for me, but CDs do.

I wonder how my kids and future kids will develop their relationships with music and the artists in a world where physical product has become extinct and the emphasis has become more on ‘quick-hits’ vs. albums and artists are becoming increasingly more ‘flash in the pan’ and a disposable commodity.

When I dumped my CD collection, there were some I refused to get rid of. My Rush catalogue – simply because they’ve been my favorite band consistently over the years. Some CDs by friends or local artists that aren’t available online anywhere. Then there are bands like Tool, who’ve never licensed their albums to be on iTunes/Apple Music for example. I kept all my Tool CDs. With rumors of a new Tool album sometime in the future, one wonders if they will maintain that stance. If they’re committed, one wonders how they would release new material. Digital download direct sales? Will they actually produce physical product? An interesting question as they have consistently been a band who was at the forefront of design, packaging and presentation throughout the years.

Many artists are now releasing ‘pre-order’ packages for albums or digital downloads that still include physical copies of the album – either on CD or Vinyl, along with a download code, in addition to other select, sometimes exclusive, merchandise. Perhaps this will become the norm. One wonders at what point though, the production of physical product will become a financial liability to the point that it isn’t worth the expense and it will disappear all together.