Friday, February 27, 2004

Flying under the radar
Some genius at the NZ Herald decided to give local comedian Radar a weekly column in that esteemed paper - Hoo - bloody - rah! His first effort involves the invasion of his lounge by the compost raiders, and is highly entertaining. I suggest you to investigate this talented chaps fine wit. He spent last Xmas in Jerusalem, looking for the Intifada (Israeli/Palestinian conflict) - he didn't find it, but he did meet Yasser Arafat. Look out for the documentary film of his travels sometime later this year.
The pic in the paper has him smiling and looking all user friendly (scrubs up well, he does), however the pic on the Heralds website is Radar's 'serious young man' face. Scary.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation has put up a legal analysis of the Grey Tuesday protest, which strongly supports the protesters fair use rights, noting that EMI do not have federal copyright protection as the White Album came out prior to 1972 ....

"Are the Grey Tuesday protesters protected by fair use?
... There are a number of characteristics of the Grey Tuesday protest that would likely weigh in favor of those who post the Grey Album:

1 the posting of the Grey Album is for a noncommercial purpose;
2 downloads of the Grey Album do not substitute for purchases of the White Album;
3 the Grey Album is a transformative use of the White Album, not a wholesale copy; and
4 the posting of the Grey Album is intended as part of a commentary on the use of copyright law to stymie new kinds of musical creativity."

From Creative Commons site...
"For some people, the future of copyright law is here, and it looks a lot like Gilberto Gil. The Brazilian singer-songwriter plans to release a groundbreaking CD this winter, which will include three of his biggest hits from the 1970s. It isn't the content of the disc that makes it so novel, though -- it's the copyright notice that will accompany it." Read more here.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Flattering, says Danger Mouse.
DJ Danger Mouse's official response to Grey Tuesday is here. For some background on Danger Mouse, check out this interview at allhiphop.com. He's been doing the mashup thing for a while now.. "I put out about three other 12” of things I did where I was mixing like Suzanne Vega with 50 Cent, Nas and Portishead and stuff like that...."
The New York Times reports that "By yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) some of the web masters of the protesting sites said they had served 85 to 100 copies of the album, while other reported as many as 1,000 downloads." So, its gone from 3000 cds to potentially 75,000 to 100,000 copies in circulation in one day by my estimate. Grey Tuesday say that "we are certain the Grey Album was the number one album in the country yesterday (by a huge margin). Danger Mouse moved more 'units' than Norah Jones and Kanye West, and the Grey Album easily went gold in a day, with well over 100,000 copies downloaded. That's more than 1 million digital tracks."
EMI could have licensed the record, got it in the shops and be making money off it, instead of making money for their lawyers. 'Cept the Beatles are well known for saying no to anyone wanting to sample their music.

More from the NYT... "Jonathan Zittrain, a director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, said the issue is indeed a gray one. "As a matter of pure legal doctrine, the Grey Tuesday protest is breaking the law, end of story," Mr. Zittrain said. "But copyright law was written with a particular form of industry in mind. The flourishing of information technology gives amateurs and home-recording artists powerful tools to build and share interesting, transformative, and socially valuable art drawn from pieces of popular culture. There's no place to plug such an important cultural sea change into the current legal regime."

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Props to Alan Oakley.
Raleigh have just announced they are bringing back the 70s classic Raleigh Chopper. Hits the streets in the UK on April, costs just under 200 pounds.
"The bike’s original design by Alan Oakley, the then Chief Designer at Raleigh , remains largely unchanged on the new version. Available only in the original Infra Red, the materials in the bike’s production are taken from the original Chopper concept, even using the original tyre mould from the 70s.... the original Chopper (or The Hot One as it is affectionately known) was launched in America in September 1968. The film ‘Easy Rider’ was released here in 1969; Raleigh saw the opportunity and released the Chopper to the discerning UK audience. The Chopper frenzy exploded taking the Hot One to cult status. " Me want.

And guess what? Just phoned a few cycle shops, and discovered that Raleigh NZ is not connected with Raleigh UK, they make a totally different range for NZ, and these new issue choppers won't be appearing here any time soon. Bummer. If you know of how I can get one, or if you have contacts in a cycle shop, please help me get my hands on one! (And yes you can get one online - BUT the UK online sellers only sell to the UK).

Mysterex
The latest issue of Mysterex magazine hit the stores recently - issue three contains excellent articles on 80s NZ bands such as Riot III, Danse Macabre, Wellington punk scene in late 70s, Fifty 45s Kiwi Rock Dribblers Shouldn't Be Without (very entertaining),and Shayne Carter writing about his high school band, Bored Games. Available from Real Groovy, Slowboat, Records Records, or email andy.s@ihug.co.nz. Essential reading for any serious Kiwi music fan.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Tuesday Dischord.

"...you can't sell music because music is free. I'm serious about that. I really believe that. Music is like air, you can't sell it. I know that people have, not to fall back to my oft-used metaphors and analogies, but this is the way I process things, but I see music as a river, and the water in a river is there for everyone and anyone that wants to have a sip can have a sip and have some water.
Now somewhere along the line someone came up with the idea of putting the river water in bottles and selling the bottles of water. That's the record industry. Music is a river, music is water, and the bottling company is the industry, and it's not inherently evil, because it's frankly, convenient to have water in a bottle, so if you're driving in your car and you're thirsty you don't have to drive to the nearest river and take a sip, you can just reach down and take a sip out of your bottle.
The same way if I'm driving in my car and I want to hear a song, I don't have to drive over to the people's house and ask them to play it for me, I can put the CD in and listen to it, or turn on the radio. Where it gets ugly is that when the bottling company, since their aim is to make money-- at some point they may have thought like, "Let's bottle this water and that way we can share the healthful qualities of water with all the people."
At some point it becomes, "This is our industry, we need to make money, and how can we increase profits?" Well, the way to increase profits is to try to discourage people from going to the river, and having to buy the bottled water. And they'll start with that but eventually what they're going to get into is they're going to start blocking the river or they're going to poison the river.
But water is always moving, and it's very difficult to poison a river, very hard indeed. And that's the good news about music, it can't be stopped, it will always happen, people will always make music, and regardless of whether or not there's money to be made form it or not, it's still going to happen, it can't be stopped. So in my mind with the sales of records, the industry has done their best to claim ownership of music but they don't-- they only own the things that they sell, so when people who are songwriters say, "That's my property and if you give it away for free then I lose my incentive," then, well, good riddance."
Ian MacKaye of Fugazi/Dischord Records, interviewed on Downhill Battles site (people behind Grey Tuesday).

Also worth reading is the interview with hiphop MC Sage Francis of crew Non Prophets - his crew are currently on a 41 city tour of the US called the Fuck Clear Channel Tour. Clear Channel Sucks backgrounds this radio giant. "...They are in 248 of the top 250 radio markets, controlling 60% of all rock programming. They outright own the tours of musicians like Janet Jackson, Aerosmith, Pearl Jam, Madonna and N'Sync. They own the network which airs Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, Casey Kasem, and the Fox Sports Radio Network. With 103,000,000 listeners in the U.S. and 1,000,000,000 globally (1/6 of the world population), this powerful company has grown unchecked, using their monopoly to control the entire music industry. If you find this alarming, ClearChannelSucks.org is the place for you."

Reality tv has hit new lows..... Celebrity Detox Camp, currently on repeat in the UK. Celebrity enemas, two a day for seven days. Yuck.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Fade to Grey
What do you get if you cross Jay Z's latest CD the Black Album with the Beatles White Album? Answer: The Grey Album, a bootleg by US DJ Danger Mouse (real name Brian Burton). Highly illegal, very entertaining. Hiphop vocals from Jay Z's latest, plus beats and samples all taken from the White Album. Its intriguing, and some of it even works.
Not surpisingly, the Beatles label EMI has jumped all over this, as its been out on cd, limited to 3000 copies worldwide. "It's illegal, I know that and it may get me in trouble, but if I had thought about that I would have never made what I thought turned out to be one of the best things I ever did," Dangermouse said. Read Reuters news report on it here.

"Danger Mouse said he's complied with the order not to distribute any more copies of The Grey Album. [Ebay have pulled it from their auctions also] Because of the small number pressed, he didn't expect any further legal action to take place." But once it hits the net it will be downloaded all over the show. Grey Tuesday is about just that... "Tuesday, February 24 will be a day of coordinated civil disobedience: websites will post Danger Mouse's Grey Album on their site for 24 hours in protest of EMI's attempts to censor this work." 138 sites are currently listed as taking part.
I'm not suggesting you download it, that would be illegal. I heard some short sound samples over at Turntable Lab. Will the Grey Tuesday kids all get sued by EMI?
Andrew Baio at Waxy.org had the files up on his site for download briefly, but was CC'd on an email to his ISP emailed by EMI's lawyers, ordering him to stop unauthorized distribution. A copy of the email from EMI is on his site.



Reactions?
"I love the Beatles, but nobody knows that there's breaks in there," said Chad Hugo of the Neptunes, who produced two songs on The Black Album. After hearing The Grey Album for the first time, he nodded in approval. "This is dirty," he said.
Rolling Stone called it "the ultimate remix record" and "an ingenious hip-hop record that sounds oddly ahead of its time"
the Boston Globe called it the "most creatively captivating" album of the year.
"Appalling, simply appalling. The Beatles and Jay-Z? Disgusting. How could he do this? Danger Mouse has some serious issues. What was he smoking? Drugs, booties, and hoes over tracks like "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and "Piggies"????? It's just not right!!" said one disgruntled old bastard/Beatles fan.
Andrew Dubber over at the Wireless says "Legitimate art or piracy? Well, strictly speaking, it's both - but it's only piracy because both the law and EMI are wrong. Grey Tuesday is a campaign to protest narrow and self-interested interpretations of copyright law that limit and erode creativity, thereby destroying the very industry the major labels should be supporting and depend upon for their livelihood... This could, in fact, already be the most important record of the decade - and you can't buy it."

"I'm just worried ... whether Paul and Ringo will like it. If they say that they hate it, and that I messed up their music, I think I'll put my tail between my legs and go," DJ Danger Mouse recently told The New Yorker.


Hey Ya...
Outkast own their own studio in hometown Atlanta, Georgia... Heres how they got it...
"...bought at a knock-down rate in 1999, after it was seized by the IRS from its previous owner (a cash-strapped Bobby Brown), and re-christened Stankonia." Excellent interview, worth a read on the Guardians website here. Big Boi's cellphone ring is a Kate Bush song, one of his favorite artists of all time, he says. They are so way ahead of the game when it comes to hiphop.