About once a year I do a song that is particularly fannish. I mean, it’s me, right, they’re all kind of fannish or nerdy on some level, but I’ll do some straight up Pacific Rim or Buckaroo Banzai or Doctor Who track about once a year. Often, they’re for a convention or some other, similar event.
Did you know I always make those free downloads afterwards? I don’t do these for money, I do them because I love the thing I’m writing about. Sure, the link usually still says “Name your price,” because if somebody wants to hit the tip jar, I’m not gonna stop them. But these songs are up for $0 because I want people to download them. I’ve had people tell me they feel bad about that, but – seriously, don’t, that’s what they’re for!
So pass this link around:
It goes to all the free ones, including the new one from this year, “Thirteen,” my Doctor Who song. We aren’t getting any new Who this year, so maybe that’ll help tide your Whovian friends over. And hey, we just got word Pacific Rim 2 is a go – I’ve got a song for that, too. 😀
G’wan, hit the link. Find something you like and take it home. It’s on me. ^_^
Hey, the new song is up! There are actually several new songs in the pipeline but this is the one that’s finished right now. It’s called “Thirteen,” and it’s a free download, though you can always hit the tip jar if you like it.
I made it for Conflikt, where I was MCing as Toastmuppet this past weekend. It’s a filk convention – geek music goes back a while, this is a geek folk music (“filk”) con – so of course I made them some geek folk metal, a semi-cover of the Vixy & Tony track “Thirteen.”
Their original isn’t about Doctor Who contemplating his own mortality after running out of regenerations, though. That’s just my version. I was all, “What’s the filkiest thing I can do for this con? Oh, I know, take a well-known filk track and make it even geekier by making it about the Doctor.”
Their original is here, if you want a listen. It’s quite different.
More on Conflikt tomorrow. I shot parts of the con with a fisheye-lens film camera. YEAH I SAID FILM IT IS HILARIOUS I HAD TO
STEAL IT FROM THE PRESIDENT ORDER IT FROM JAPAN. I also said fisheye, because the camera was a gift and it has a fisheye lens and you can’t turn it off. FULL-THROTTLE FISHINESS BEGINS TOMORROW!
Assuming the film comes out. I don’t even know. I sure hope it does, I’m not joking about it being imported from the home islands. It’s the last place you can buy ISO 1600 colour film as far as I know.
Okay that’s enough words. LESS TALK MORE FILK!
Time to pack up and load out! We’re not actually leaving yet – that’s for tomorrow morning, all too bright and early – but we’ve already set up the duty schedules for all the Minions staying behind in the Lair, and now it’s just a matter of making sure we have everything we need.
I don’t know how much I’ll be on over the next week, though almost certainly at least a little. Other than that – see you at Worldcon, I hope!
It matches what I was seeing in an RIAA PDF from earlier this year. Vinyl sales are doing very well, thanks, and are the only ownership segment that's actually rising. Streaming revenue is climbing too, but wow, not enough to make up for all the down segments.
Data again Statistica, this graph Forbes
I think there are a couple of things going on here.
First, the LP surge - yes, of course it's at least partly a fad. That's not durable, and the increase in rate of increase is most probably a warning sign.
But aside from that, I think the rise in LP sales may be related to the LP package being a physical/tangible object that's interesting to have for itself. Certainly, if you're going to pick a CD vs. a vinyl LP as an interesting physical object, the LP wins. Bigger covers, more interesting art possibilities - the whole drill. But...
I wrote a while ago about how the RIAA made music ownership a negative value. I think that's still pretty much true, for digital.
But I don't think that perception ever reached vinyl. Vinyl had been written off by the time the RIAA swung into self-destructive smashy smashy. And I'm wondering if vinyl still caries a weight of ownership that digital no longer does.
I mean, I just had a friend of mine who has never owned a turntable and is the opposite of a hipster say she's thinking of getting one. This shouldn't be ignored.
The downside for the artist, of course, is that LPs are a lot more expensive to make - particularly for indies. And smaller living spaces mean less space for storage of any kind of stuff, including LPs. That's a limiting factor, and while it might become less of one as housing stock rebalances, that rebalancing is a longer cycle, and probably won't come early enough to matter.
or somebody will find a way to make it their job
The second statement I take from these graphics is that the industry - as of 1st half 2014 - is still both sinking and on fire. That Forbes chart shows year-to-year revenue changes in stark numbers - down categories at $-394m (downloads, CS, synchronisation, others) vs. up categories at $+231m (streaming, vinyl) year-to-year.
That's a $163m revenue loss. I certainly don't see how vinyl can staunch that much bleeding. And the streaming revenue gains - while obviously more substantial, and where the industry is betting its future - don't even make up for the drop in paid downloads. They're just cannibalising their own revenue streams.
We're still living in a post-scarcity environment. And there's no rearrangement of desk chairs that can change that fact. Delay the repercussions a little, sure; stop them, no.
Me, I want to release something on Edison cylinder. It can in fact be done; there's a company in the UK doing it. And wow, it's expensive. But if, you know, 20 people want to go in at $50/each for cylinders, I will do it. I will do it in a heartbeat.
No? Yeah, I didn't think so either. XD
This is Part 11 of Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment, a series of essays about, well, what it says on the tin. In the digital era, duplication is essentially free and there are no natural supply constraints which support scarcity, and therefore, prices. What the hell does a recording musician do then?
But! There's a surprise sale on Amazon for author Angela Highland's other books. Carina Press didn't notify her, they just did it. So if you're interested in her other series - the Rebels of Adalonia novels - Valor of the Healer is a staggering 99¢ right now. G'wan, get it - at 99¢, it's not even really splurging.
Echoed from Crime and the Blog of Evil
But I am a musician, after all, so how about a welcome present. First: all pay things on Bandcamp are 25% off with this checkout code:
That includes all music, and both Free Court of Seattle novels in paperback, which I can stock and sell via arrangement with the author.
Also, I have a bunch of tracks that are free-downloads all the time. I want people to download them! They're right here, with stories about how each one came about because a lot of them have stories.
So give a listen (we like Bandcamp because Bandcamp lets you stream entire tracks), find some things you like, and maybe throw our bandwidth fund a little love. And regardless, welcome, and we hope you'll stick around! ♥
Originally posted at Crime and the Blog of Evil.
I’ve been thinking more about Google/YouTube’s new music streaming service terms – the ones that require your whole library, that require 320bps source, that require five year terms, and so on. I wrote about it last week, talking about how Google is letting the old labels dictate away crowdfunding rewards and the like.
But I’ve been doing more thinking since that. It’s been churning in my brain. And I’ve realised the five-year term, the 320bps requirement, and whole library thing have a combined intent.
And that intent is to take away literally every last music sale you might make. As in, every last music sale.
It’s not presented as such, of course. I think they want artists to think of it as radio that pays. But two of the big streaming service problems have been 1. quality (smaller concern) and 2. stability of material (huge concern). All the television streaming services, for example, have been plagued by shows getting yanked on and off and moving around. Customers find that annoying.
Meanwhile, you have the label involvement, discussed before. They were, from all reports, pretty tightly into this new set of terms. And one of the big problems for the labels the last several years has been the rise of indie artists. The crowdfunding/long-tail model has given indie artists something more to live on, ways to make money outside of the label ecosystem.
This solves both sets of “problems.” Think about it:
Google will have everything you do for five years, listen-anytime, at functionally CD quality. They’ll have everything, and they’ll have it first, at optimal quality. What’s that mean?
It means Google/YouTube Music service members will have no reason to buy any goddamn thing from any artist which is on the service. No more early-access advantages to entice crowdfunding backers. No more deep tracks on albums to discover. No more alt-takes, no more remixes, no more mailing-list exclusives – Google will have it all. Not exclusively, of course! But they’ll have it.
If I’m reading this right, then even if you hold out on them – you don’t upload some tracks, in violation of the agreement – if and when somebody else does, and they identify it as yours, they’ll add it to the service automatically. Tell me I’m wrong (even though I’m not) because that’s what this sounds like:
So even if you don’t explicitly deliver us every single song in your catalog if we have assets and they are fingerprinted by content ID to contain that music then it will be included to the subscription service…
— Zoë Keating’s Google rep., in conversation with Zoë
Which means there’s no more reason to buy anything from you. No reason for anyone to deal with you at all.
Five years is a long time. There will be no long tail – at least, not for you. It’s all going to them. Five years is also plenty long enough to keep you locked in once you figure all this out. And five years is more than long enough to try to make this the new standard.
That’s the point of this whole contract. To take everything else away, and thereby, to reinstate a kind of 1971, one managed by making both unlimited internet distribution and piracy completely irrelevant.
I have to say – it’s brilliant. It end-runs around the post-scarcity environment entirely, by co-opting it. The pirates and illegal uploaders will make sure your entire catalogue is up there, even if you hold out, and it’ll be included whether you like it or not – it’s genius!
Meanwhile, they’re “giving the music away” so you can’t make any money on it, stopping you from being able to reward patrons and backers so you can’t make any money there either, and tossing you a sharecropper’s pittance in ad revenue as a reward. And even that is a pittance you can never hope to make on your own. You don’t – and can’t – have the numbers.
It’s a plan that takes away the entire internet/indie route as they understand it. It’s to make them – both the old labels and Google, in alliance – the only viable path. It’s a plan to make it so that once again, you have to go through them.
And we all know what that has always meant, don’t we?
Run. Run like hell.
This is Part Eleven of Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment, a series of essays about, well, what it says on the tin. In the digital era, duplication is essentially free and there are no natural supply constraints which support scarcity, and therefore, prices. What the hell does a recording musician do then?
Since it’s been announced, I can confirm: I have accepted an invitation to be Toastmaster at Conflikt 9, January 29-31, 2016. It’s my first GoH position at any convention, and as I’ve been saying, I am confused but honoured to have been selected and I will do my best to be a good one.
Conflikt Chair Jen Kilmer asked me to pick my personal Toast title, as is tradition; previous officeholders have been Toastmistresses, Toastmaster both standard and burnt, and Toastmonsters; I have chosen Toastmuppet. Expect inordinate amounts of Kermitflail, starting right now:
The release concert on Sunday was pretty much amazing, at least from our end. We never did manage to have a rehearsal with everyone at once, but it didn’t seem to hurt us too badly on stage. A lot of people stayed through Sunday afternoon to hear us, and I cannot thank all of you enough for that.
And hoo, I will never complain about setup time for other bands again. Okay, well, I will. But not as much. We took over an hour, and that was as simplified as I could make it, and with all the advance material I could hand over handed over, and nobody screwing around.
And, of course, once again, thanks to everyone: Alexander James Adams (drums, vocals, backing fiddle), Paul Campbell (hammer dulcimer), Jeri Lynn Cornish (cello, bones, chorus), Angela Korra’ti (flute, readings), Leannan Sidhe (vocals), Skellington (lead fiddle), Betsy Tinney (drums), and S.J. Tucker (bass, chorus). It would quite literally have been impossible without you.
— SJ Tucker (@s00j) February 2, 2015
Highlights of the convention – hoo, I dunno, it’s hard to pick. Alec’s show was great, and not in that “as always” way, there was something extra in the energy that night. Having the rest of Tricky Pixie on for a few songs probably didn’t hurt anything. The PDX Broadsides won Saturday’s concert set, no doubt – they’re much better live than in their older recordings. (I haven’t heard the new album yet tho’ – I only heard old demos.)
I’m so glad I’m having them in for nwcMUSIC this year. Oh wait, that’s still technically embargoed, lol. Regardless, they’re really good live. And Stringapalooza’s set on Sunday was the tightest thing I’ve ever heard at a convention, they were amazing.
I stayed through the near-very-end of the dead dog/smoked salmon; I like leaving while there are one or two holdouts still holding out, so I don’t feel like it’s really over even though it is. And there were two, and a couple of others who were just there to listen, at around 1am Monday morning, so I packed out before they could change their minds. Sunday night is particularly good as far as I’m concerned, because I’ll do any damn thing, and that includes the relevant-for-20-minutes-thanks-a-lot-
Also, this happened – thanks Tom!
S00j wrote a really relevant post about Conflikt and Filk in general, particularly as its position in the geek hierarchy, and you should go read it. She touches quite directly on some of the things I’m trying to address indirectly through the way I feature filk as the founding pillar of geekmusic, and the way I talk about the punk nature of their hands-on/DIY aesthetic, and the participatory culture foundation underlying all of that.
Definitely worth reading. Give it a little thought.
*: it was pretty good, too.
The times on the webstreaming site are a little confusing, so: we are being livestreamed 2pm Cascadian/Pacific on Sunday, barring the usual things-running-lateness. And! There are several other shows and events also being livestreamed both today and tomorrow, so drop in for any and all of those, too!
That of course includes Amazon, so if you preordered from there, you should be getting things. And if you wouldn’t mind dropping a review, we’d love that, ’cause they really do help. You don’t have to have bought it there to review it there.
Of course, Bandcamp is where you can stream the whole album uncut (and also where we get the largest share of the purchase price, yay? economics?) and that’s also the best place to get the physical disc.
Yay! We’re official!
So Bone Walker is genuinely ready to go in download form. We’re holding the full release (iTunes, CD Baby, all that) until the book is ready too, closer to the CD release show at Conflikt.
HOWEVER! We realised over the weekend that since we are ready, it’s unfair to keep it back from the Kickstarter backers who have been waiting so long. And since the easiest way to get that sorted was to hand it out through Bandcamp, we’re gone ahead and made the Bandcamp edition LIVE.
Final Wraparound Cover
Yep, THE BANDCAMP VERSION OF BONE WALKER IS COMPLETE AND DOWNLOADABLE NOW. You can also still pre-order CDs, and one of you who pre-order the physical CD will get the little bonus we mentioned before. If you pre-ordered the CD already, you should have mail and download codes in your inboxes.
We aren’t ramping this monster up through the roof yet – the big event will be the book and album at the same time, and all that, and there’ll be the show and it will be awesome, like y’do. But the Kickstarter people have been incredibly patient, and sitting on it another couple of weeks just seemed rude.
It would be really nice if you post a review or comments if you let us know. That would be really excellent of you.
I’ve been talking a lot about Bone Walker as a soundtrack album for the Free Court of Seattle fantasy novel series, because, well, it is.
But I think that creates a misleading impression. People have been after me for a long time to do an instrumental and/or a trad album. This is also that album.
Leaving out the readings, and the tie-in factor, and this is a 10-track album of mostly traditional music. The arrangements aren’t real traditional, maybe – or, as one might say, “that’s all well and good, but it’s not very Irish, is it?” – but it’s still pretty heavily trad.
And that’s mostly just a long way of saying, “You don’t have to read the novels to like the album.” It’ll all make sense without that – well, okay, maybe the readings will be a little bit context-free. But the rest?
This was envisioned as a quick project, something that would take about six months and be a fun Kickstarter reward. But it grew way beyond that. Sure, part of the reason it took so long is because of unpleasant surprises like eye surgeries. But it also took longer because we put so much into it. We pushed ourselves hard. We brought in guests like Alexander James Adams and Sunnie Larsen and Sarah Kellington and Ellen Eades and Leannan Sidhe and Klopfenpop. We invented new process technologies and went way the hell over budget, something I’m not in the least sorry about.
So what I’m saying is: don’t hear “soundtrack album” and think “accessory to something else.” It’s not. It stands on its own. Give the samples a listen, and if you like what you hear, pre-order. Even with the Kickstarter money, we won’t be ahead of this curve on shipment. But I think when people hear it, they’ll know – it was worth it.
It’s been a problematic year, in a lot of ways; started out with the third round of eye surgery and recovery from all three initial rounds, and ended on a fourth round which will hopefully be the last. In between, despite everything, we managed to produce a new album (which I certainly hope you will preorder) and even tour a little.
But in terms of public exposure, it’s mostly been… about the blog. And that’s really not how to do things as a musician. I haven’t even started booking much for 2015 yet, because I’ve been waiting for this last go-round with the eye, afraid it’d explode again making me cancel anything I set up.
Hopefully we can move past that now.
Still, most of the visible action has been at the blog! So here’re the 2014 Top Ten Posts. Four of them are actually posts from 2013, so I’ll also add on the four that would’ve made it without those holdovers.
- Gatekeeping and Recourse: something only men can do about sexism in geek culture. (A perennial favourite, from 2013)
- Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment, part 8: The Intrinsic Fraud of the Prestigious Internship. See above. Also 2013.
- An Embarrassing Stumble Towards Irrelevancy – comments on the SFWA petition flap and sexism.
- Mozilla and Firefox Careen Into a Ditch – comments on The Open Standard’s endorsement of Gamergate. This got me mentioned in The Daily Dot, so that was pretty cool.
- A Horrible Group of People – more on the SFWA petitioners, and specifically, on petition author Dave Truesdale’s “five furry pussies on the ballot” comment.
- What is Being Lost – the SFWA petitioners and failure to envision the present, much less the future. I sense a theme here; lots on sexism.
- Pushback and Misandry – sexism in geek culture and two case studies of sexist pushback against science. Another 2013 post in this year’s top 10.
- A Friday of Followups – Sarah Kellington of Pinniped comes in for recording, and more on the SFWA flap. Yay, something about music!
- Ribbon Mic Buildout – I built a ribbon microphone, and took pictures. The last of the 2013 posts in the top 10.
- Way Too Much to Dislike: my highly critical review of Doctor Who: The Caretaker. This was before “Kill the Moon” and my breakup of Moffat’s Who.
It reflects the controversies of 2014 geek culture pretty solidly, I’m afraid. But that’s not the whole story.
The difficult thing about this blog is that it’s echoed a lot of places. Some places, in entirety. Some comments come back here, and others are linked, but I’m not making any attempt to include views on those other sites in my numbers. I still have three-digits worth of views per post on Livejournal, and this year, Tumblr started mattering. In some cases, mattering a lot.
And by “a lot,” well – the biggest post in this list got over 17,000 views at the home site this year. That is a lot for me, and it’s totally awesome. Most of them aren’t nearly that popular, at least, not here.
Let’s take a look 2014’s 7, 8, 9, and 10th most popular posts, because one of them is a Tumblr example:
- Insects of the Writing World – on the contempt for the new shown by the SFWA old guard. Essentially tied are:
- If One of the Bottles Should Happen to Fall – more SFWA sexism, specifically, Sean Fodera’s arguably questionable apology to Mary Robinette Kowal
Number eight there? A Quiet Night at the Lair: Korrasami is Canon and Nothing Hurts? Here, it has a couple of hundred views. Plus another couple of hundred at Livejournal, and a few other places. All combined, over 400 views, which actually isn’t all that far above average.
On Tumblr, though? It rocketshot. I can only get an estimate of the views, but the data I have puts it at around 35,000-45,000, mostly for the addendum commentary at the end. It nearly triples the number one post’s total count actually on crimeandtheforcesofevil.com.
That’s not the only post I’ve had do that. Rock candy geode did that too. And a post I made of some of the Kitsune at War sheet music (a bass-clef transposition actually left labelled “flute”) is nearing six digits.
In the past, I’ve questioned my “echo everything everywhere” strategy, of letting people read whatever they want wherever they want. It didn’t seem to have been getting me much, and certainly, things like Facebook are a total bust. (And given how Facebook Destroys Everything, I’m kind of okay with that.)
But having had a year which has, by necessity, been mostly about being online… it may have started to catch. This strategy may vindicate itself after all. That would be nice.
An addendum: None of these lists include compilation posts, which are nexus posts for specific topics, like, the sexism and racism in geek culture collection, the studio buildout series on how to build your own recording space, and Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment. Those would all be in the top ten, but obviously shouldn’t count.
The soundtrack album is still at the mastering engineer – these things take a while, particularly since we’re having the same people do the replication. We’re using the same people that SJ Tucker uses for her CDs (thanks for the rec, Sooj) and I know their work, it’s quality. We’ll be getting it back in time for the release show at Conflikt, and there’s still time to pre-order it and help us pay for all these things.
Here’s the disc label graphic, as sent to the printer. It’s Kiri Moth’s art. Pretty, no?
All these pre-orders will be signed, and one of them will get a small special present included. Remember that test CD I was carrying around for a while? I posted about it back in October, and talked about carrying it around to places here.
One pre-orderer will also get that test actual CD. There are differences, too – we made mix changes on three tracks. I’ll sign that, too, and include a little note certifying that yep: it’s the one in the picture. It’s unique, a one-off, and if you find those sorts of things interesting, well, this is how you can get a legit shot at one. It’s not super-fancy or anything – it’s a CD-R with sharpie writing on it, I mean, go look at the picture. But it’s the only copy of that exists, and there won’t be another.
Wow, this is quite the op-ed in The New York Times yesterday: Elegy for the ‘Suits’ – The Internet, Not the Labels, Hurt the Music Industry.
It’s everything you despise about The New York Times and The New Yorker rolled up into one! Paean to power and old authority? CHECK! Unchecked nostalgia for the prime of the Baby Boom era? CHECK! Slavish worship of corporate culture? CHECK! Fear of agency resting outside the hands of white guys in suits? CHECK! “What an asshole!” working just fine as a punchline? CHECK!
Really, it’s terrible and hilarious. And just wrong, of course – as I’ve written, the labels – via their industry group, the RIAA – destroyed the industry just fine on their own by making music ownership a negative value. Not to mention that they also drove the more aware musicians out through their ruinous strip-mining of artist value. It’s been almost 15 years since Courtney Love did the math, and the sharecropper approach wasn’t new then. If you signed with a label, you were giving them all the value and keeping something below minimum wage – if that. And they owned everything you made.
So no, “the Internet” didn’t “hurt the music industry.” The labels are the ones who set up the teetering edifice. The internet just let musicians break out and tear it down.
ps: talking of, pre-order the new album! We have a mastering engineer to pay. :D
One of the big tricks you have to do when throwing your album and/or single out there – either or both, honestly – is say “fans of <foo> will like this, too!”
Typically, that’s who you sound kind of like. I flailed around on that pretty hard with Dick Tracy Must Die, and I’m still not happy with choices I made.
So who would you list?
I think it’s clear that the lists would be different for the songs (particularly “Something’s Coming” and “Song for a Free Court/Anarchy Now!”) than for the instrumentals. So both of these would be really helpful.
Obviously, I’ve got a few – mostly the ones left over from Dick Tracy Must Die for the songs, and a bunch of Newfoundland and Quebecois trad bands for the instrumentals. But I’m not happy with either list.
Got any ideas? I really could use the suggestions.