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FridayFive: Singers, concerts, and the RIAA

I was going to write one (of probably many) entries about the adventures of the past week while up in the D. C. area, but I checked over at FridayFive.org to see what this week's questions were. They intrigued me enough that I decided to go ahead and work on them instead.

1. Who is your favorite singer/musician? Why? If you don't know it's Johnny Cash by now, you must be new here. Why is he my favorite? Well, for lots of reasons -- many of which I've heard in the press over and over again over the past week since he died. Mostly, I love his songs -- they're generally simple songs that tell great stories. I think the fact that he had such a lengthy career is impressive. And from everything I've read about him, he seems to have been a really good guy when he was outside of the spotlight, too. Well, maybe not in the sixties when he was on the pills all the time, but after June helped him get cleaned up.

2. What one singer/musician can you not stand? Why? I can't really think of one that I can't stand. Sure, there are a bunch that I'm indifferent to, but I don't know of any I can't stand. So for the purposes of this question, I'm just going to throw out Bryan Ferry.

3. If your favorite singer wasn't in the music business, do you think you would still like him/her as a person? Yeah. I touched on that some in my answer to the first question. When I was in college, I used to trade emails with the sound and lighting manager for the Johnny Cash show, and with one of Johnny's daughters. He really seemed like a great guy to know. Especially after he got cleaned up, he really dedicated a lot of his "out of the spotlight" life to his faith, which I'm entirely cool with.

4. Have you been to any concerts? If yes, who put on the best show? Yeah, I've been to some concerts. I can't think of any concerts I've been to with big, theatrical stage shows. Most of the shows I've been to have been about the music. I really think that the show Johnny Cash put on was great -- I've seen him three times. He did a great job of performing stuff from whatever his current album was, and incorporating his old favorites. Additionally, for a portion of his show, June Carter Cash would join him. She's just a hoot. And, even better, a portion of the show was a gospel portion. I really, really enjoyed his shows.

5. What are your thoughts on downloading free music online vs. purchasing albums? Do you feel the RIAA is right in its pursuit to stop people from dowloading free music? I'm in favor of both, when "downloading free music online" is legal. Stealing music, online or in record stores, I'm against. There are lots of artists who are fine with free distribution of their music online. See etree.org, for example. In these cases, I think that free downloads have all the advantages people always claim that you get -- more exposure for the band, probably increased concert attendance and record sales. But when a work is copyrighted, the RIAA has the right (some would say responsibility) to go after the thieves who are downloading it. What I really think needs to happen is that the RIAA needs to come up with a better way to deal with the online craze. It's funny to be answering this question now, after just having watched an episode of K Street, where they spent most of the episode trying to find a way to defend the RIAA. One of the things that one of the characters mentioned is that people don't follow artists anymore like they used to. They don't buy CDs like they used to. They like songs. So why pay $17 for a CD where you only like one of the songs? That's one of the reasons that downloading has become so popular. Instead, the industry should move to something more akin to what Apple did when they opened the iTunes Music Store -- you can buy a single song for a dollar. From the press I've seen, it seems to be somewhat successful. I hope services like that become more commonplace; I think it's a solution where everyone can win.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
bodnej
Sep. 22nd, 2003 09:05 am (UTC)
Albums and the RIAA
What's wacky about the insistence on albums is that the single was around first, anyway. Singles (and their "B" sides) were how most rock and roll songs were distributed at first. You can still find singles bins in most record stores, but the cost of a single is usually 50% of the cost of the whole album. It's not worth the bother, unless you're looking for a rare B side. A smart record company would lower the price of a CD single to a buck or two.

The pop music album might just be a historical curiousity, popular for a few decades. There will always be album-length songs (broken into sections, like an opera) or album-length concerts released, but those are exceptions.

I guess this is just a long way of saying that the RIAA might be the biggest collection of dummies with money in the entire world. They're fighting to insist on selling music in a way that few people want to buy it, and they are doing their best to look like the bad guys when enforcing their own rights. All they need is a black cape, a waxed mustache, and an orphanage to pave over and they'll have finished the descent into cartoon villany.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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