Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The end is here...

...finals are finished and the winter term is OVER!!

Thanks, Professor Macek!
I really enjoyed your classes.
Here is a present just for you, because I know how much this means to you:
florida fireworks

See you next term!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home...

     ...Your house is on fire and your children are alone."

I always hated that little rhyme. I felt sorry for the mom-bug having her house burn while she was out doing some mom-thing, like gathering food for the baby-bugs. I worried for the baby-bugs; would she make it back in time?

In the news this morning there was an AWFUL story about a human mom who was off milking the cows when her family home literally burned down, killing six of her seven children. That is an unfathomable loss a real person is enduring right this moment; it isn't a story or a rhyme.

My own house isn't on fire, but I smell smoke. I worry I may misread the signals for being too busy.  There have been some serious family crises unfolding at home and presently they are threatening my student-hood. As a mom, a "nontraditional" student, and a business owner, I am pretty busy. I was actually spread rather REALLY thinly before starting school. I guess when I started, I was naively thinking "what's a little more work?" It is a lot, actually.

Suddenly I am very torn about my commitments. I am a scholar, getting paid to go to school (crazy, right?!), but first and foremost I am a mom. I feel like the lady-bug, and suddenly I'm not so sure about the school-thing. I might quit, actually. That sounds dumb from one perspective (I have a 4.0 GPA and a free ride); from another it feels urgent.

I'm feeling very much like it is time to "fly away home."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

And now for Ohio, and next...?

From today's Washington Post:
"The divide between government worker unions and their opponents, playing out now in several state capitals, highlights a critical aspect of the evolving labor movement."
Will this trend keep spreading? How do you feel about the spreading legislative push to restrict the union rights of government workers?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Former Senator Chris Dodd to Head Motion Picture Association

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  After a year-long search to replace Dan Glickman, former senator Chris Dodd has been named the new head of the MPAA. Dodd is an American lawyerlobbyist, and Democratic Party politician who served as a United States Senator from Connecticut for a thirty-year period ending with the 111th United States Congress     

     Barry Meyer, chairman of Warner Bros., said Dodd has the "right political instincts and experience" to lead the film industry against content piracy. You can read more here; I'll wait. 

(tick, tock; tick, tock) 

     So, what do you think? Is digital piracy about to get a wake-up call? Is Dodd the right person for the job?

The Future of Music

In Stephen J. Dubner's article, "What’s the Future of the Music Industry? A Freakonomics Quorum," Dubner presents five different perspectives from reputedly "smart people" with their best guesses.

Koleman Strumpf, professor of business economics at the University of Kansas Business School, is "dubious about making forecasts." Strumph believes  choices the major labels make on key issues and as-yet unknown new technologies technologies will direct the future of music's general course, but he doesn't foresee the recorded music industry's ship sinking.

Fredric Dannen, author of Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business, is a bit more pessimistic, stating  "You can always count on the record industry to cling to the past, and to fight innovation." 

George Drakoulias, music producer, artists & repertoire executive at American Recordings, and veteran of Def Jam Recordings, claims "the old business model is dead." Drakoulias thinks the CD is on its last legs, and will be gone in five years.  He also believes the future holds some sort of music subscription service, possibly some pooled talent co-ops, such as the bands of Ozzfest, and computer involvement paired with highly mobile music. In any case he feels 
"the future is really in the hands of the consumer,"  with the public dictating "to whatever is left of the record industry."
Peter Rojas, founder of Engadget and co-founder of RCRD LBL, doesn't "pretend to know what the industry will look like in ten years," but is amused that "music itself is healthier than ever" thanks to the Internet, low-cost (or even no-cost) digital tools, and the resulting explosion of consumer-producer creativity.
Steve Gottlieb, president of TVT Records, feels "we have little choice but to invest in advertising-supported free services that will make this type of consumption profitable." Gottlieb believes the music industry will figure out new ways to recapture the revenue it’s losing, and then develop a "new, secure file format that offers audio, meta-data, and other digital features superior to those of MP3s." Gottlieb suggests this shouldn't pose too much difficulty and will provide the industry access to high quality digital products for direct sale that can be ad free, though he fails to explain how this could happen. He also warns "unless the labels actively reinvent themselves and embrace change, they will continue to find themselves in an expanding music marketplace that rewards their efforts less and less. "
As for me, I am sticking with my idea of bringing music back to the live local venues, with direct marketing of recorded music--for whatever digital devices the future may bring-- allowing more control and revenue to stay where it belongs; in the possession of the music makers.

Band Battles

Once upon a time (about 35 years ago), music was accessed often and live, typically at a party at a friend's house, or sometimes at small local clubs. On some summer nights the music was in the parking lot of the local strip mall, where many "battles of the bands" were waged.

This music was rife with the kind of power that comes from direct access. No pirating or paying to download; just live gigs your friends told you about, or you read about on a poster, or you performed; you were there to experience it.

The music was interactive, but old-media interactive. Very local, very grass-roots, and honestly pretty cool. You might have had to pay a cover charge--the bands had to get paid--but not much; and it was usually totally worth it. The bands would give back what they hoped was their friends' and fans' money's worth of raw emotion, and possibly even talent. 

If there was a
 lot of talent, though, things changed. Then came the offers, the hopes, the big money, the recordings. It was cool to hear friends on the radio or their records, but live and local was better. Even though everyone was trying to get their deal and make it big, when it happened the happiness was sometimes short lived. Sadly the music got buried in big business dealings, sold-out song writing, tour buses, substance problems, and far-away, huge stadiums. It was still kind of cool, but not as cool.

Perhaps it is time to rethink the best way to share and sell the fruits of musical inspiration, talent and effort. Perhaps it is time for a new version of the folk art music model, where producers and consumers are often the same people and music is made for the joy of producing and sharing it. Money can still be made--maybe not millions--but the greedy people who were always just in it to get rich might get weeded out.

Perhaps musicians should get back to performing more concerts, handing out fliers, and putting up lots of posters. By all means keep the new media, too; promote websites, sell recordings, get fans to tell their friends. Maybe direct access can help recreate the interactive, connected relationships musicians once had with their listeners.

New media/ music related websites: