Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Friday, September 19, 2003

I can't believe I almost forgot the Friday five

Happy birthday, FF:

1. Who is your favourite singer/musician? Why? You mean I have to choose? Out of everyone? I guess in terms of lifelong listening pleasure, I'd have to say Simon & Garfunkel. I grew up on their music. Their harmonies are superb, and the songs are consistently well-written, both musically and lyrically (and they're going to be touring again soon!)

2. What one singer/musician can you not stand? Why? Well, I'm not particularly fond of Eminem, although I do recognise that he's talented and is rapping about real life. But a lot of his work borders on hate speech. I wouldn't say I hate him...I'm willing to believe he may even be misunderstood. But I don't think I'd invite him over for dinner with my friends.

3. If your favourite singer wasn't in the music business, do you think you would still like him/her as a person? I think so. I think in terms of political and social conscience, they'd be wonderful. And I can connect with some of Paul Simon's darker moods given some of my own struggles.

4. Have you been to any concerts? If yes, who put on the best show? Believe it or not, I have been to a total of three popular music concerts in my life, all at relatively small venues rather than a huge concert arena--although I've been to a lot more vocal and instrumental performances, and I have even performed in a few. The first was Sting's Dream of the Blue Turtles tour in 1985. It was great...it was at Memorial Coliseum at UK. I also went to a Youth Choir (Christian alternative group from the 80s) a couple of years after that. The last concert I went to was Tori Amos, which was a very good concert, fairly intimate, but I find I can't listen to Tori Amos anymore without basically going into man-hating bitch mode, and I try not to go back to that emotional place. I have a lot of trouble with standard concerts...they're just too damn loud, to the point where you can't really appreciate the music. I would like to go to more concerts. I'd like to see Loreena McKinnit or just about any of my favourite Irish/Scottish bands. In terms of popular music, I'd like to see Depeche Mode, Dave Matthews, Simon and Garfunkel, even Metallica, to name a few. I have varied musical tastes (my only dislike being some hip hop and rap, although I'm fine with some of it). So, you'd think I'd go to more concerts. But money's a factor, and anxiety in crowds, not to mention an aversion to really loud music (I guess I'm being stereotypically librarian with that). Maybe an acoustic concert would work?

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 dilating free music? I recognise that point-to-point sharing can undermine the music industry's profits and the intellectual property rights of the artists. Our copyright laws are meant to protect those rights, and the ever-changing world of technology runs at a faster pace than lawmaking. I suppose from their point of view, it's hard to imagine that people who would not steal a CD from a store wouldn't think twice of downloading it online. But I think part of that has to do with the public's lack of information about copyright and, well, the idea that it's based on the same concept of making compilation of songs for a friend to enjoy, but on such a grander scale. I can certainly see the RIAA wanting to prevent people sharing large numbers of songs online. At the same time, I think the RIAA is basically acting like a big bully and from a public relations standpoint is really shooting itself in the foot. I mean, really, suing 12 year olds? This is not going to encourage us to buy music, guys, and it's not going to help you with today's music fans.

One, I think part of the problem is that the recording industry, like the publishing industry, is threatened by the idea that people might bypass them completely and that someday we'll have artists making direct profits instead of a big chunk going to the overhead or promotions, distribution, etc. I have to admit, I'm all for the artists themselves maintaining not only the intellectual property rights but direct profits without, say the record label or music publishers holding the rights to the music. I also think the music industry is stupid not to use technology to its benefit. Why not let people pay for just the songs they want? And it sounds like things like iTunes could work for the artists and the record industry's favour, but a lot of people seem wary of losing control by changing how they do distribution. But I think a lot more people would pay a couple of bucks for a song they liked than plunk down $18 for a CD they'll listen to for awhile until something else comes out. Wouldn't that offset things? Now, in that case, I'd be more worried for music stores; but then, if they're smart, they're branching out anyway. I don't have all the answers, of course. The music industry is complex and I don't know a 10th about how it works. But it seems to me that the best and brightest on both the technology and music fronts should be finding a middle ground that gives fans the flexibility of .mp3 downloads and maintaining profits for the artists and yes, even the record industry.

I have to admit, I love the service I get on Launch Yahoo! You get to listen to music at a medium quality for free; high quality requires a subscription. But you choose various artists and rate them, and that determines what plays, with similar artists/genres thrown in. There's quite a bit of music that I've heard working on the computer that I wasn't aware was out there since, and having had a chance to listen to songs that haven't made it to radio or video, I'm more inclined to buy the album. And, of course, then you can by the album directly from the service.

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