Music services are still a bad idea: Spotify Edition

Read an article this weekend about Spotify in Wired.  It now has 10 million subscribers paying $10 a month.  Because they have to pay 70% of each track’s revenue back to the labels, that doesn’t leave much margin left.  Thus, they are still plowing through cash. They’ve spent over $200 million dollars to date.  In 2011 reported a loss of 59 million (24% of revenue 245mm) and 2012 had loss of $72 million (13% of 558mm).

I’ve always thought that the music industry is f’ed and if you’re the number 1 streaming provider and you’re not doing well, something’s wrong. 

Related content: You’ll never make money with a music service

The Beats of Change – Electronic music is the new indie rock

I got to quite a bit of live music shows.  I try to see my favorite acts whenever they roll through Colorado.  I just went to Coachella and in the past year i’ve seen Mumford, The National, Wilco, Andrew Bird, Shins, Radiohead, Childish Gambino, Band of Horses and others.  I like these shows but they are also frustrating.  I increasingly find that rock bands do nothing more than just play the songs from their album, in a way that sounds just like the tracks on the album and i leave the venue wonder why I went.

I began to think back to why people used to go to shows.  In the past, i could imagine that music represented more than it does today. It represented a movement. The Rolling Stones and Elvis were a powerhouse that were more than just great songs.  Or, i could see how an artist’s lyrics (such as Bob Dylan’s) were so meaningful that their concert was more akin to a speech or a rally.   None of these are happening in indie rock today.

However, i do see this stuff happening with the electronic music scene.  Two things are different. First, now that music is digital, the instruments of today are the computer and that’s resulting in brand new music that is truly different than anything that’s come previously.  Second, the concerts where this is played are extremely social.  The DJ’s aren’t just playing music for an audience, the audience is involved. Very involved.  As my friend JT said this weekend after hearing Swedish House Mafia, “it feels like the DJ’s are conductors.”

Also, these electronic artists don’t need major labels.  They are proficient in interacting and promoting online.  If fact, most of them don’t even release albums in the traditional sense.

It feels to me that this electronic music scene is the future. Bob Lefsetz agrees with me.  I just hope i’m not too much of a dinosaur to enjoy it.

May Music

Hangin' with Matty Charles
Matty Charles in LA by pescatello

I’ve been listening to some good tunes for the past month and thought i’d share them with y’all.  Here they are:

  1. Sad Song by Fredo Viola.  This was put on a mix for me by Lady Biasia and is a pretty mesmerizing tune.  You can listen to it back to back every day and not tire of it.  In fact, if you were going to throw a dinner party and didn’t want to destroy the mood with the music but keep it chill and interesting, this would be the track for you. Worth a listen.  MP3 HERE
  2. If I Ever Leave This World by Flogging Molly.  Also on the same mix by Lady Biasia and is one of my new favorite running songs.  You may remember this song from the P.S. I Love You soundtrack.  What you don’t? You didn’t see it?  Oh that’s right, nobody did.  And the people who did where so sad that they lost 2 hours in the most horrific fashion that they refuse to admit it.  Unless you’re name is Diane Woodhouse and then you go out and buy the DVD (i kid, i kid). Anyway, regardless of how absolutely horrible the movie is, the track really pumps me up  MP3 HERE
  3. Last of American Girls by Green Day.  Many of you might not know this, but Green Day just came out with a new album called 21st Century Breakdown.  Rolling Stone gave it 4.5 stars out of 5 and other people can’t stop slurping it. I think it half has to do with the fact we never expected Green Day to have any longevity or talent and it’s half that the album is just really good and unique (it’s a rock opera for chrimminey sakes). This track is my favorite but probably not for people who don’t like Green Day.  MP3 HERE
  4. Starry Tilting Sizzle by Les Blanks.  The band Les Blanks is a my friend Parker’s band.  If you want to know how much Parker rocks the Buzznet psyche, you should look at this slide show.  While i admire his style and loud voice in the office, i never got into Les Blanks until i stumbled across this tight jam.  It rocks. That’s all i can really say. I don’t see how anyone wouldn’t like it.   MP3 HERE
  5. Starry Stairs by Okkervil River.  This song came out last year but i didn’t really give it a chance until recently.  Like other Okkervil River songs, it’s heavy on the lyrics but is still quite catchy.  MP3 HEREIMG_0380
  6. The Train by Matty Charles.  I went to go see Matty when he came to LA about two months ago and found out that he had put out a new album.  After listening to it for a while, it’s clear this is the best track.  As always, he completely delivers. I think he could be my favorite singer-songwriter of this decade.  MP3 HERE
  7. Hikky-Burr by Bill Cosby and Quincy Jones.  I found this from Karen’s blog and loved the tracks so much that  I actually went out and bought this CD at Amoeba.  That’s right i paid for music.  People still do this.  Not you of course, but people.   This is fantastic jam from 1969 – back when people used to jam for no reason other than just to jam.  I wish i could have gotten in on that.  This track will have to do for now. MP3 HERE
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Top Albums of 2008

Cover of
Cover of Evil Urges

Here are my top albums of 2008.  It was a toss up between MMJ and Dylan but when i looked back at my total plays for 2008 in my iTunes, it was no contest – i’ve played MMJ a bunch mor

  1. Evil Urges – My Morning Jacket – totally unexpected departure from the Southern rock band but that made it all the more awesome.  There songs are all great.  From start to stop, this album totally delivers.   “Librarian” and “Smokin’ From Shootin'” are my favorites.
  2. The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 – Bob Dylan – previously unreleased tracks from 1987 to today.  And they are amazing.  I love both versions of “Mississippi” and “High Water”
  3. Consoler of the Lonely – Raconteurs – These guys totally rock.  The title track is one of the best rock songs i’ve heard in the past 10 years and the rest of the songs are good too
  4. For Emma Forever Ago – Bon Iver – incredibly catchy and chill record.  This got stuck in my head for about 2 months in the middle of the year.  Plus you’ve got to love a guy from the woods of Wisconsin. Love the songs “Flume” and “Skinny Love”
  5. Only By The Night – Kings Of Leon – this album isn’t as good as 2007’s Because of the Times which had 2 amazing (5 star) songs but it still rocks. The songs are all pretty good and continues KOL’s rise to be one of the biggest bands in the US
  6. The Way I See It – Raphael Saadiq – a pretty smooth and groovy album that brought some soul back into my life in ’08.  The songs “Take a Walk” and “Never Give You Up” with Stevie Wonder are the best of the bunch
  7. The Stand-Ins – Okkervil River – a good followup to the awesome The Stage Names.  It’s songs are just as punchy and fun to listen to.  I didn’t get to this until later in the year, otherwise it could have been higher in my list

Honor Roll – these albums have one or two good songs but not enough to be a “top” album of 2008 but i did like them:

  • Ra Ra Riot – The song “Dying is Fine” is one of the best songs of the year
  • Born Ruffians – very addictive album but also kind of annoying.  Can’t tell if i really like it or not
  • Ryan Adams – all the songs are just okay
  • Girl Talk – not my favorite mashup artist but still catchy and good for working out to
  • Mudcrutch – two great songs in “The Wrong Thing To Do” and “Six Days on the Road”
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Last Week's Top Artists

As compiled by Qloud, here were my top artists of last week:

  1. Bob Dylan – i got the new Bootleg Vol. 8 album and it is fantastic.  Dylan has had 8 multi-disc albums of previously unreleased tracks.  These are new songs or alternate versions that were recorded at the same time (or live).  Eight albums, all multi-discs.  Some people call that a career – a good one too.
  2. Blind Melon – sometimes you forget how good they are.  I think they would fit in really well with the current music scene.  Kind of punkish
  3. Guns N’ Roses – oldies but goodies.  Had the live album on alot this weekend
  4. Led Zeppelin – Found the album Houses of The Holy in my apartment on Monday and was happy to revisit the classics
  5. Okkervil River – they have a new album out that i’m trying to get used to.  I have no opinion yet


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Initial Reactions to MySpace Music

I only played around with it a little bit, but here are my initial thoughts:

The good:

  • they got all the music in there to have a big ad-supported music service.  This is not easy to do and only MySpace, Imeem, and (sort of) have done this.
The bad:
  • The interface/usability could be better. To make a playlist, you have to do a TON of clicks.  They should google “javascript” and learn more about.  It could help them out. Overall, I the interface a 4 out of 10
  • The service is not at all social. You can’t see any friends activity – no suggestions, no nothing.
  • It’s not integrated into the rest of the site.  If you go to Band of Horses page it only has 2 songs from their latest album (Cease to Begin) but if you go to you search and can listen to all of the tracks from that album.  Why?
I’m sure it’ll get better but for now it’s just a repository of music to listen to.   I’ve only played around with it a bit but that’s my initial reaction.
What do you think?
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Heavy Rotation

I got a new plugin that feeds me an RSS feed of my top plays of the past week into my RSS feeder.  It’s interesting to see what my top artists are each week.  This week i’ve got:

  1. Whitest Boy Alive
  2. Born Ruffians
  3. Guns N’ Roses

The Whitest Boy Alive and Born Ruffians are two of my favorite new artists. WBA are really chill and easy to listen to while Born Ruffians are a better version of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.  I recommend you check both out.