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 Cafe, 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 Cafe (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 Cafe and February 4th at Saint Rocke (MySpace) in Hermosa Beach, and Dunn opens for Bareilles on March 11th at the Hotel Cafe.

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 Cafe.


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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