Is ASCAP a scam?
Mar 26th, 2012 by Ken Hagler

How ASCAP Takes Mon­ey From Suc­cess­ful Indie Artists And Gives It To Giant Rock Stars. The short ver­sion of the sto­ry is basi­cal­ly that, to make its own life eas­i­er, ASCAP just pays those per­for­mance roy­al­ties to the top 200 gross­ing tours in the US, and every oth­er tour­ing musi­cian is more or less screwed — unless you can con­vince ASCAP that you play “seri­ous music.” [Techdirt]

I know a num­ber of indie artists, and I can’t remem­ber ever hear­ing any of them say any­thing, good or bad, about ASCAP.

Standing up to the Evil Empire
May 29th, 2009 by Ken Hagler

Terrorist Pianos of Doom!. Toward the end of last month, a noteworthy incident occurred in the classical music life of Los Angeles:

Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman, who is widely admired for his virtuosic performances and who famously tours with his own custom-altered Steinway, created a furor at Disney Hall on Sunday night when he stopped his recital to announce that this would be his last American appearance -- in protest of the nation's military policies overseas.

In a low voice that could not be heard throughout the auditorium, Zimerman, universally considered among the world's finest pianists, made reference to Guantanamo Bay and U.S. military policies toward Poland.

"Get your hands off my country," he said.

Then he turned to the piano and played Szymanowski's "Variations on a Polish Folk Theme" with such passion and intensity that the stunned audience gave him multiple ovations.

Earlier, about 30 or 40 people in the audience had walked out after Zimerman's declaration, some shouting obscenities. "Yes," the pianist, known in Poland as "King Krystian the Glorious," answered, "some people, when they hear the word military, start marching."

[Once Upon a Time...]

The whole post is worth reading.

New iTunes Store option
Feb 24th, 2009 by Ken Hagler

Apple launch­es iTunes Pass con­tent. Apple has intro­duced the con­cept of the iTunes Pass, a new shop­ping option in the music sec­tion of the iTunes Store. The Pass auto­mat­i­cal­ly sub­scribes a per­son to all of the tracks and videos in a par­tic­u­lar col­lec­tion, down­load­ing exist­ing mate­r­i­al and any­thing new as it becomes avail­able. Apple notes that all the mate­r­i­al pro­vid­ed in a Pass is DRM-free, and encod­ed with 256kbps AAC audio.… [The Mac­in­tosh News Net­work]

This seems like it could be good for inde­pen­dent musi­cians. More than once I’ve heard about a CD release being held up because the artist need­ed to save up mon­ey to pay for art­work or man­u­fac­tur­ing, and with some­thing like this maybe they’d be able to cov­er those expens­es from “Pass” orders.

Garageband ’09 “Artist Lessons”
Jan 8th, 2009 by Ken Hagler

I came across this com­ment on Mac­In­Touch:

iLife 09’s “killer appli­ca­tion” has to be Garage Band’s Artist Lessons. Not because it’s a cool way to learn music. Nor because it is anoth­er rev­enue stream for Apple.

It’s an attempt by Apple to cir­cum­vent the music indus­try labels. iTunes is a pre­ferred gate­way to new music for many con­sumers already. But in order to get that music Apple is still hav­ing to use the inter­me­di­aries who own the dis­tri­b­u­tion rights to those tracks.

Now Apple is cre­at­ing a com­pre­hen­sive 3-way link between the fan, the artist and Apple. At some point the tra­di­tion­al dis­tri­b­u­tion medi­um and cor­po­rate appa­ra­tus will become moot under this arrange­ment as the artists will less and less rely on a label and can have the abil­i­ty to inter­act with fans at a tru­ly indi­vid­ual and per­son­al lev­el.

Future artists will get their expo­sure direct­ly via por­tals like iTunes, and with fea­tures like Artist Lessons can add val­ue to the expe­ri­ence, some­thing that entire­ly bypass­es the cur­rent dis­tri­b­u­tion and pro­mo­tion sys­tem.

It’s a bril­liant end-run against the estab­lished indus­try. Cer­tain­ly it won’t work for some gen­res in the teas­er form we saw at the keynote, but it def­i­nite­ly opens up inter­est­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties when fans can inter­act direct­ly with artists with an agnos­tic tech­ni­cal enabler like Apple get­ting a cut of the trans­ac­tion. Labels will increas­ing­ly see new artists bypass their sys­tem for this more direct inter­ac­tion and will become reliant on lega­cy cat­a­logues alone. They’ll lose clout over iTunes mar­ket­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion tech­niques and costs. Noth­ing val­ue added from the estab­lished indus­try has worked since the music video rev­o­lu­tion almost 20 years ago. Artists Lessons and deriv­a­tives have the poten­tial to be just as tran­scend­ing. It has that mass mar­ket pop­ulist streak to it that goes to the heart of Apple’s design fort?.

In its cur­rent form the prod­uct needs work to get beyond Apple’s often over­ly cute aes­thet­ic steril­i­ty (sex, drugs, and Fogerty’s “bright” chords?) but it is nev­er­the­less strate­gi­cal­ly inno­v­a­tive.

TS Low

Interesting gig review
Jan 7th, 2009 by Ken Hagler

Song­writer Round w/ Jay Nash, Joey Ryan, Javier Dunn & Sara Bareilles @ Hotel Café, 1÷5÷09.

Sara Bareilles

Song­writer Round is a semi-regular gath­er­ing of singer-songwriters, host­ed by local Jay Nash (MySpace), that’s usu­al­ly held at the Room 5 Lounge above Amal­fi on Fair­fax. But Monday’s edi­tion was moved to the newly-expanded stage at the Hotel Café (MySpace) in Hol­ly­wood to acco­mo­date peers Joey Ryan (MySpace), Javier Dunn (MySpace), and spe­cial guest Sara Bareilles (MySpace), who was adver­tised as the ana­gram “Lara Sarables.”

In such an inti­mate set­ting, Song­writer Rounds have allowed the artists to per­form mate­r­i­al that’s usu­al­ly not heard on a reg­u­lar basis, and this edi­tion was no dif­fer­ent, with Bareilles per­form­ing “Under­tow” and the newly-written “Anchors Aweigh”. In addi­tion, the evening fea­tured unique col­lab­o­ra­tions, which includ­ed Dunn and Bareilles’ stripped-down cov­er of Huey Lewis“Heart and Soul”, and a group ren­di­tion, with Count­ing CrowsDavid Immer­glück on man­dolin, of the Crows’ “Sul­li­van Street”.

How great is it that there’s a place for singer-songwriters?” exclaimed Bareilles ear­ly in the evening. Indeed, it has been mem­o­rable to see artists like her and Gary Jules return to their “old school” roots in recent weeks. And that includes Katy Per­ry (MySpace), who is sched­uled to per­form an acoustic set there next Tues­day in advance of her sold-out show at The Wiltern on the 31st.

As for upcom­ing local shows, Nash’s are on Jan­u­ary 14th at the Hotel Café and Feb­ru­ary 4th at Saint Rocke (MySpace) in Her­mosa Beach, and Dunn opens for Bareilles on March 11th at the Hotel Café.

There is an image gallery to this entry which you can view at LAist

Spe­cial thanks to Jay Nash, Joey Ryan, Javier Dunn, Sara Bareilles, and the Hotel Café.


I stum­bled across this site through a Google search for some­thing com­plete­ly unre­lat­ed and imme­di­ate­ly added it to my news­read­er. The arti­cle on Monday’s show is very nice, almost as good as what you’d pay to read in Music Con­nec­tion. The pho­tog­ra­ph­er shows promise, although they need a bet­ter pho­to edi­tor (there are shots in there that I would have tossed). I went to this show myself, as I know all four of them.

Javier also played a late night (11 PM) show at Room 5 last night, and I tem­porar­i­ly un-retired from con­cert pho­tog­ra­phy for the occa­sion. His “day job” is play­ing gui­tar for Sara, but despite try­ing for two years I nev­er got a pho­to of him that I was real­ly sat­is­fied with. I shot five rolls of him at Room 5, with Mona Tavakoli and Becky Geb­hardt of Rain­ing Jane on cajon and bass (also Sara joined him for one song).

Grammy nominations
Dec 5th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

This year’s Gram­my nom­i­na­tions have been announced, and there are three peo­ple I’ve pho­tographed on the list: Sara Bareilles, Katy Per­ry, and Rufus Wain­wright. Sara got two nom­i­na­tions, includ­ing Song of the Year for “Love Song.” Appar­ent­ly the music indus­try has very long years, as she wrote that (and first per­formed it) in 2005…

Silly idea of the day
Oct 21st, 2008 by Ken Hagler

Pupils to receive finance lessons. Chil­dren in Eng­land are to receive lessons in how to man­age their finances, under an £11.5m gov­ern­ment scheme. [BBC News]

I’ll bet nobody in the main­stream media will even notice the absur­di­ty of a gov­ern­ment teach­ing peo­ple how to man­age their finances (and spend­ing mil­lions of pounds stolen from tax­pay­ers to do it).

Music sales via YouTube
Oct 7th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

YouTube intros links to buy music fea­tured in videos.

YouTube has intro­duced “click-to-buy” links on some of its part­ner videos so that users can have one-click access to the media fea­tured in the video. With this fea­ture, users can buy music or video games direct­ly from some YouTube pages, and in the future, this fea­ture could be extend­ed to oth­er videos, too. 

Read More…

[Ars Tech­ni­ca]

Hope­ful­ly this will get extend­ed to inde­pen­dent musi­cians soon. Some of the musi­cians I know put videos up there, and this can be a big help to their career–for exam­ple, Ter­ra Nao­mi got a big boost from her YouTube videos. It would be great if peo­ple could go direct­ly from those videos to their music in iTunes.

MySpace Music
Sep 15th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

Record labels plac­ing big bets on MySpace Music.

MySpace Music may be the labels’ last hope. The new ven­ture is expect­ed to for­mal­ly launch with­in days.

Read More…

[Ars Tech­ni­ca]

One of the musi­cians I’ve pho­tographed, Meiko, is signed with MySpace Music.

Video on iTunes
Sep 9th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

TuneCore will put your indie film on iTunes.

Known main­ly as a cheap, no-royalties ser­vice for putting music on iTunes and Ama­zon, TuneCore is branch­ing out into full-length films. For a cou­ple hun­dred dol­lars, your film can soon be sold through iTunes.

Read More…

[Ars Tech­ni­ca]

This seems like it would also be good for inde­pen­dent musi­cians who want to put their music videos on iTunes. The TuneCore web­site has a sec­tion in their FAQ on what’s involved.

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