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May 2008
 
 
 
 
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mmaestro
mmaestro
Gareth
Fri, May. 23rd, 2008 03:31 pm

Some of you may have heard me bitching about health insurance in the US before. Real Live Preacher is having some of his own problems, and sums up the whole issue rather nicely in this video, which y'all should watch:


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Current Mood: cold cold

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mmaestro
mmaestro
Gareth
Fri, May. 16th, 2008 09:34 pm

Actual IM conversation:
sparkofcreation: But the dinner itself was very fast. But good.
Cod cakes (like crab cake, but cod) with mustard sauce, succotash, scalloped potatoes made with white cheddar and goat cheese, a salad of chick peas and salmon, and tomatoes and mozzarella.
mmaestro: Succotash is a real thing? I thought it was a word made up by Daffy Duck.
sparkofcreation: No, it's a mix of corn and lima beans.
mmaestro: Huh.
I mean, seriously. Thought it was a nonsense word.

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Current Mood: anxious sux

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mmaestro
mmaestro
Gareth
Fri, May. 16th, 2008 09:29 pm
We've always said that Scout isn't a food motivated dog. Really, this has been one of our problems. Finding something that'll motivate her.

Last week, we figured out that she is food motivated. It just has to be the right food.

Unfortunately, the right food is sushi grade tuna.

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Current Mood: frustrated frustrated

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mmaestro
mmaestro
Gareth
Tue, May. 6th, 2008 01:09 pm
My dog seems to believe that hearing the sound of a spray can spraying means she's about to get a walk. Given it's usually sunscreen, she may be right.

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Current Mood: energetic energetic

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mmaestro
mmaestro
Gareth
Mon, May. 5th, 2008 09:04 am

More free music. Trent Reznor posted the new Nine Inch Nails album today, free gratis, with the comment "thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years - this one's on me," it's completely free. Download here. But that's not the coolest part - the ZIP of 320kbps is available, but there's also FLAC, Apple Lossless and - get this - uncompressed 24bit 96khz WAV files. That's near master quality. OK, so you'll need some nice equipment to hear the difference (but those of you who have home theaters and have a good way to get it into your amp should be able to hear it), and it takes up a whopping 1.2Gig, but that it's available at all, and for free at that, is just amazing.
The downside is that because of the huge file sizes, only the mp3s are available for direct download. The rest is available only as bit torrents. That's great for most people, but the RIAA in their infinite wisdom persuaded someone that using any peer to peer file transfer technology ought to be ground for immediate deportation from the US. So I'm not touching those because even though the risk would be small, and they're legally available, I could still be tossed out of the country. And I quite like living with my wife - being forced out would kind of suck (as far as I know, this has never actually happened BTW, but still, that it's a threat at all is enough for me to steer clear). Those of you without such a threat hanging over your collective heads, though, should really grab some of the higher quality files.

So what's the album like, then? Honestly, it feels like Reznor is trying to go in a different direction, and hasn't quite gotten there yet. I understand why this stuff is coming out independent of a record label. Going the pop/dance route for NIN is a very different direction, and could well have been a commercial flop. The record companies would doubtless have had a fit if they were handed this material. Also, it's not polished. I'm actually OK with that - clearly, what's going on is that Reznor is trying new things because he can, churning out material, and just getting it out there because he can. It's probably a nice way for an artist to work, likely to get us more serious hits and interesting material, but also more misses. There's some stellar stuff on this album, but there's also some real junk that feels like filler or an experiment which never quite worked. In that sense, it makes sense to give it away for free. If it's almost a stream of consciousness to see what works, it wouldn't really be fair to charge money for that. I'd probably pay a few dollars for it, but in comparison to most NIN albums where I'd happily pay $15, in this case I'd probably feel like I'd been had a bit.
As a way to look at Reznor's artistry developing though, it's very interesting. I'd recommend downloading. After all, it's not like you have anything to lose.

Current Mood: pleased pleased
Current Music: Nine Inch Nails: The Slip

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mmaestro
mmaestro
Gareth
Wed, Apr. 23rd, 2008 10:45 pm

I've not had nearly enough time to write here recently. If I had, I would have written a long and involved post that's been developing in my head since Radiohead first released In Rainbows. The general jist would have been this: it makes economic sense for artists to sell music directly to consumers, in fact it makes sense for them to give it away. When an artist signs to a big record label, they generally only see a few cents per record sold. It's peanuts. Nothing. And the record companies generally have them "pay back" the costs of publicity, studio time etc. out of those royalties before the artists get a penny. Economically, releasing an album through a record company doesn't really make sense for anyone except the most successful artists who can bludgeon their way to a better contract through competition.
Artists make their money through concerts. And concerts get filled through the public hearing material. That's been the underlying logic to signing for years now. But downloading offers another way. If you give your music away for free, fans and others will get excited about it, you might even make a buck, and hopefully you fill your concerts. No record company required.

So, anyway, that's the jist of the post. There's other economic stuff that if I have time, I'll dig up. Real numbers, showing that charging even only a couple of dollars per album is a significantly better deal for artists than selling CDs.

Trent Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails, gets this. Last month, he released Ghosts I-IV, 4 instrumental albums, direct from his website. The first you can download for free, and get the complete set for a measly $5. Download it here. It's good stuff. Try it out, and if you like it, buy it. Yesterday, he released a new single. Free. No charge, no option to even pay. Download it here. It's interesting. Almost dance music. Certainly not industrial metal. Heck, it might even be pop. It's sort of bob-ey (and I never thought I'd describe NIN like that). The tags on the track say to check their website May 5. Might even be another album.
And that's the other advantage to doing direct - no interfering record company. Artists can do what they want, release what they want, and get back to creating without anyone dictating schedule or what they should put out. For some, I'm guessing this'll mean they'll be a lot more prolific. And that should be fun.

Most of the arguments about Radiohead and others allowing people to pay what they want, or download for free, have been presented in absolute dollar terms. And sure, it's a losing proposition in those terms - free or $5 will never look as good as $15 for an album. But it's the wrong terms to look at this. For the artist, it's both an economic win, and a creative win.

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Current Mood: tired tired
Current Music: Nine Inch Nails: Discipline

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mmaestro
mmaestro
Gareth
Thu, Apr. 10th, 2008 07:59 pm

I'm currently watching American Idol, they're doing their Idol Gives Back extravaganza (probably the only telethon I've seen in the US that rivals something like Comic Relief back in the UK, take from that what you will), and they had all 3 of the current Presidential hopefuls saying something about what is effectively the biggest US TV charity event in history.
Clinton talked about how she had worked with many of the organizations who take the charitable donations. Obama said... I don't even remember what Obama said. Something about it being real good to give money to charity, probably. And McCain... McCain said...
You know, American Idol is a lot like a Presidential Primary. Except for those of you in Florida and Michigan. Because on American Idol, your votes actually count. Now I'm off to work on my immigration plan. I'll get Simon out of here somehow.
OK, so there was the obligatory charity stuff in there somewhere too, but the point is, I laughed. I liked McCain. I thought Clinton was arrogant and self-righteous, and Obama was kind of dull.

And there, right there, is the Democrats' problem. Because McCain, McCain is formidable, and why is summed up right in those clips.

In other news, B's off to California, so I'm home alone with the dog. And the dog is clearly distressed. It's funny, I thought she'd be a little concerned, but she's really worried that we're without B. Heck, I don't like it that she's gone, it doesn't feel comfortable, so maybe the dog is feeding off that feeling from me, but still. At least I have sake (Tentaka Kuni, thanks for asking. It means "Hawk in the Heavens," and it's kind of OK, but not great. The brewery was founded after the owner went to Kyoto and saw a hawk circling overhead in a vision, and for whatever reason took that vision to mean he needed to start producing alcohol). And come Saturday, I'm going to watch the new master of Seven Samurai. But I feel lonely.

Current Location: Home, without my wife.
Current Mood: lonely lonely
Current Music: Alanis Morissette: The Collection

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mmaestro
mmaestro
Gareth
Tue, Nov. 27th, 2007 06:46 pm

Following in B's footsteps:

Linky.

It's a Golden Compass/Northern Lights thingy. I'm hoping this is going to be a good movie - the book was fantastic (somewhat let down by the second two books in the series, but what can you do?), and the trail looks great.

Current Mood: sick sick

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mmaestro
mmaestro
Gareth
Wed, Oct. 10th, 2007 10:01 pm

Little time to write anything, but it's good. Very good. Initial impressions from the first two tracks weren't positive, but it started to pick up, and the rest of the album is just devastatingly beautiful. It's wonderful. I expect in time the first two tracks will grow on me, too.

For anyone who's bought the album and who wants some cover art for it, here's the page I grabbed album art from.

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Current Mood: pleased pleased
Current Music: Radiohead: In Rainbows

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mmaestro
mmaestro
Gareth
Wed, Oct. 3rd, 2007 11:39 pm

OK, so just in case any of you haven't yet seen the news, Radiohead's new album is being released next Wednesday. They just announced it on Sunday. The format's a pretty bold experiment - in 2003, upon the release of Hail to the Thief, their contract with EMI ended. Rather than signing with another label, they're going to distribute the album themselves, digitally. Even more interestingly, the price is... whatever you want to pay them for it. You can sign up now. There's a 65p administration charge, and then you can name your own price. Anywhere from zero to £99.99. This is, I think, immensely cool. The downloads will be DRM free, there's no middleman, no iTunes, no record company, no one. And it'll prove that people are willing to pay for their music, even if they can get it for nothing, given a sensible option. I'm just totally impressed with the whole idea, and y'all should go order, right now.
But, there's a downside: firstly, the store is in UK money only. This isn't a huge hassle (although the rest of the world may curse the credit card charges they'll incur), except there's a special edition coming out. 2 heavyweight LPs, a CD of the album, and an additional CD of other material, plus booklets and pictures. I have the last 2 limited edition CDs Radiohead did, and I'd quite like this one, too. And here is where the UK money problem comes in: the exchange rate is bad right now (thank you, Greenspan and Bernanke, you morons, your short term fixes will have long term consequences), and the limited version has a fixed price. £40 is not totally unreasonable if you live in the UK. But the $85 that this translates into for us US customers, unfortunately, is totally unreasonable. Radiohead really ought to have found an international distributor for this stuff. I'm also kind of hacked off that this is the only CD version that's going to be available. Convenient or not, mp3s are lossy, the quality just isn't as good as CDs. I'd quite like a high quality version of the audio, and right now that means Windows Media Lossless (sorry, Apple fans) or a solid CD. My preference is to have something I can hold in my hand. So: for many reasons, I must own the limited edition, and it's too damn expensive. Even worse, they're making the limited edition to order, so if I don't order now, I may simply never get a copy. Argh!

Here's where the request to the UK folks comes in: I actually still have some UK money. Just not quite enough. If someone could pay £15 into my UK bank account for me, I'd be sorted. So, if anyone's interested, I'm going to suggest an exchange - does anyone want anything from the US that I can buy and send over to them that they'd otherwise be unable to lay their hands on? Jamie, for one thing, I could get a copy of Empire of Ivory, the newest Temeraire book (not released in the UK 'til mid December, I think) that would match the rest of your set into the mail Friday, if you want. Plus whatever else, up to about $30-$35. Any takers? Please?

Eh, it's kind of frustrating. I've known there's been this album coming for months, and given more than the week and a half's warning they've given people, I'd have been able to work something out for the limited edition without additional panic. The download idea is a really bold experiment (and a great PR move, too), and should also expose a lot of people who haven't heard the band to their music (even if half the people who sign up pay nothing, sales of their other albums ought to make up for it), and I'd expect most people are going to pay £5-£10 for the album. If you're out to show that people want to pay for music, that people want to be honest, this is the way to do it, and hats off to Radiohead for trying. But damn, I could have done with a US distributor for the limited edition.

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Current Mood: frustrated frustrated
Current Music: Not Radiohead. Yet.

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