Canadian Music – This City Rocks!

In addition to the CBC Radio 3 podcast I can now wholeheartedly recommend another source of information on Canadian Music: This City Rocks.

It’s a vlog (video blog – don’t blame me I didn’t make the word up) that started out focusing on Vancouver’s music talent, and has recently decided to open it up to the rest of the country’s artists. They do a little interview with a band in an effort to introduce you to their style and sound.

It’s a nice way to get to know a local band, as perusing the Straight’s band listing really doesn’t give you an idea of who these bands are. I also think the Straight’s music section tends to ignore local talent as well, preferring to focus on up-and-comers from out of town. So it is nice to have a local resource in Vancouver itself.

I just hope this new ‘Canadian’ focus doesn’t shatter the usefulness of this vlog – I really enjoyed the first 3 episodes and getting to see some of the talent located locally.

The Emeror’s Bland Pablum

It’s a good day to be a Canadian music fan.

A coalition of Canadian music creators (that would be artists, producers, distribution companies, etc) has publicly stated that the current approach to dealing with online music sharing and copyright legislation changes do not represent their views. In fact they put forward three principles that nicely sum up their position:

  1. Suing Our Fans is Destructive and Hypocritical
  2. Digital Locks are Risky and Counterproductive
  3. Cultural Policy Should Support Actual Canadian Artists

Check out their policy paper(PDF) for 5 pages of Canadian common sense. So I say everyone welcome the Canadian Music Creators Coalition!

In related news, that feisty law professor in Ottawa, Michael Geist, continues to point out that the emperor has no clothes:

In summary, CRIA’s own research now concludes that P2P downloading constitutes less than one-third of the music on downloaders’ computers, that P2P users frequently try music on P2P services before they buy, that the largest P2P downloader demographic is also the largest music buying demographic, and that reduced purchasing has little to do with the availability of music on P2P services. I’ve argued many of these same things, but now you don’t have to take my word for it; you can take it from the record labels themselves.

I’m sick of being fed a bland mix of pablum and half-baked facts designed to make me fear digital music. Thank goodness some real facts are finally coming to the fore. Things get juicy when the polling company complains that Geist is misleading people (PDF). Geist provides a few comments on their comments too – good stuff!

I’m A Published Author Now!

Here in Vancouver we have a local newspaper called The Georgia Straight – your basic local motion type stuff and left-leaning editorials. Most importantly, there’s a Music section that includes reviews of music releases, local concerts and local artists. It also includes a section called “Payback” where people write in and generally complain about how pathetic the Music section is.

Well, several weeks ago I read an article that, quite simply, made me want to complain to someone – so I did. They decided to publish my (edited) complaint in this week’s issue. Since it is an edited version, I’ll let you read their version and then you can continue here to read my original complaint if you’re curious to see how they can cut 4 paragraphs down to a single one without losing any meaning.

*cough* Continue reading I’m A Published Author Now!

K-Os And The CBC Radio Orchestra

Anyone familiar with K-Os may be interested in watching a documentary available called Burning To Shine. It documents a process where he tries to collaborate with the orchestra to create a new song melding hip-hop with classical music. The single is called Burn To Shine, as is the documentary.

I find the documentarey interesting, as it leaves a few raw edges out there for everyone to see. K-Os follows his muse but not everyone is on board in the end.

The single itself sounds great – definitely a K-Os song. He ended up pushing the orchestra but I wonder how much he ended up pushing himself – his self-proclaimed goal in the process. Either way I’m happy to pimp K-Os, he’s a good example of how hip-hop does not have to be about the bling and the babes, that it can contribute to the music scene rather than detract from it. If you’re willing to listen you can check out his latest album Joyful Rebellion – I highly recommend it (it’s part of my collection).

Best Song Review Evar

The Georgia Straight has delivered its annual Music in Review article.

Included is what I consider to be the best song review ever: succinct, accurate, and utterly hilarious.

The Black Eyed Peas – My Humps

The fact that Fergie pissed her pants on-stage this year is only one reason that even the most righteous, reconstructed-male-feminist type among us is moved to scream “Skank!” at the very thought of her. This ghastly song about Fergie’s “lovely lady lumps” is another. It breaks new ground in bad taste-and not just because a “lump” is something you see a doctor about-but once it’s in your head, “My Humps” is as sticky as the residue in Fergie’s crack pipe, and it inspires the kind of exquisitely conflicted feeling of pleasure one normally assigns to a Preparation H applicator.

Podcasting At Last

I finally found a reason to hook into the Podcasting phenomenon. CBC Radio3 is available as a podcast now!

CBC Radio 3 is a great show that showcases the great Canadian Music scene. Sure you may have heard of Arcade Fire and Bedouin Soundclash. But this show tries to find time for all kinds of Canadian Music you haven’t heard yet. FalconHawk anyone?

Here’s a direct link to the CBC Podcast page. Download a client (I can recommend Juice (formerly ipodder) but there are many others), subscribe and download the old episodes.

As another note, CBC Radio is trying this podcast out as a pilot – if you like or dislike it, let them know.

Finally, I love “Morning Becomes Eclectic“, and they have a podcast too!

DRM and You – A Consumer’s Introduction

DRM – What the heck is it? Digitial Rights Management is becoming much more prevalent today as consumers are beginning to purchase digital media online rather than analogue or consumable versions from brick and mortar stores.

In plain English? People are really starting to buy online music. iTunes is the most well-known name in online music right now, but there are a myriad of other companies out to try to lure you out of your expendable income.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation have published an introductory guide to the various DRM that today’s most popular online music stores are using. In effect, they outline what restrictions the files have on them once you purchase your mp3’s from the stores. What kind of restrictions? How often can you burn playlists, how many different computers can you play the file on, etc.

Note that the guide also lists a few online resellers that do not use any DRM in the sold files. This means you have total control over what you can do with those files. They list the following:

Audio Lunchbox
Live Downloads

Of those, I have only ever used emusic, and I was impressed with their services at the time (several years ago).

In addition, you should check out your favorite artist’s website, as they may be selling their albums themselves. Some record labels are also doing the right thing, and offering their new releases online as well. I recently purchased a song from Nettwerk and it came without any DRM that I am aware of.

I’ve also found a few sites that offer Live recordings of shows as well as uncompressed songs for purchase or free download. Check out my Music page for more details.

So don’t limit yourself to just using what everyone else is using. This industry is in a state of flux – don’t accept anything less than you are willing to, and try to find products that give you the most for your dollar.

Fiona, Fiona, Wherefore Art Thou?

Does anyone remember Fiona Apple? She had a small hit with her song ‘Criminal’ some time ago. Well, I’ve been a fan of hers for some years now and I’ve been waiting patiently for a new album or song from her to appear on the scene.

It turns out I’ve been waiting along with a whole bunch of other people. Back in 2003 she completed an entire album’s worth of music and submitted it to her record company (Sony) for release and distribution. Sony apparently didn’t like what they heard, as there were no radio-friendly singles on it, so they asked her for another song. She served up another one, but Sony was still unhappy with the album. So they shelved it. They literally took the entire album and put it in some distribution warehouse.

Fiona’s unable to do anything because of the contract she has signed with the recording company, and the album has sat unheard for years. Several of her fans created an entire movement to try to get that album (called “Extraordinary Machine”) released somehow, pestering Sony by sending apple-related messages and objects.

Now here’s where things get a little interesting.
Continue reading Fiona, Fiona, Wherefore Art Thou?

Canadian Copyright Laws To Change

It has come to my attention that the Canadian government is working on amendments to the copyright laws. After reading their announcement (available here) I have a few concerns about how they’re going about this.

From the interpretation provided by a Canadian Law Professor (available here) I’m concerned when I read things like we’ll continue to pay levies on blank media, but be unable to use that media for making personal copies of music. Reading the gov’s announcement also makes me wonder what kind of crack they’re smoking – they surveyed how many people in what year? The data they collected and used to form the basis of the needs of Canadian copyright law reform was acquired in 2001 and comprised a whopping 700 submissions? (This was found in their FAQ.) Let’s see – what was the state of technology in 2001, and who could fortell what the needs would be in 4 years, when the changes would be examined?

So naturally the laws they are going to create MUST be wishy-washy, such that they can apply to future technology while sticking to the comments made by some 700 Canadians 4 years ago. Just typing that makes me shake my head. Of course interpretation of these laws will be difficult, and will require many lawyers many hours. I guess that’s not a surprise to anyone.

But they are obviously trying to make it easier to enforce copyright law without explicitly following the U.S. and its DMCA. In the meantime they are removing some of our current rights as consumers of copyrighted material. The legislation will allow ISP (Internet Service Providers) to be forced to provide details of what their subscribers do and how often, enabling the copyright holders to pursue perople in court for breaking their copyrights.

I’m all for supporting copyrights – provided they do not stifle innovation or the creative process. But this does not seem to focus on maintaining status quo. It sounds to me like they are setting up a legal framework that can be used to actively hunt down and kill people who break copyright laws. Yes, kill.

Resistance Is Futile

Today I joined the masses – I succumbed to the alluring call of the white earbuds and the slick interface. I am now an iPod owner.

As a card-carrying member of the geek brotherhood (should that be capitalized?), I was resisting getting an iPod for a few reasons. The lack of open standards support, the proprietary software interface and the price premium for being trendy (never a good thing for a geek) were paramount on this list. But looking around at the alternatives really depressed me, as most of them are large, chunky things. In terms of usability, there really is no way of beating this wheel interface Apple has patented – try as Apple’s competitors might.

So I’ve been coveting an iPod for many a year now, though I’ve always wanted to hold back until I could afford one that was large enough to bottle up my entire music collection. Well Apple finally made my year and discontinued one of their models – meaning price cuts for all!.

So now I’m like a kid in a candy store – though it’s a Linux candy store. I’ve found out that plugging the iPod into my Linux desktop simply worked. I was able to download an OpenSource programme called gtkpod that allows me to sync up the iPod with my music collection, thereby replacing the need for iTunes. And I didn’t have to do a thing!

Bravo to the Linux Desktop people (specifically the Project Utopia team) and the developers working on gtkpod! Now leave me to my precious.