Jun 27, 2010

DRM - We're still talking about this in 2010? (Geek Challenge below)

Just got off the phone with a manager that we are working with on an upcoming tour. He wanted to know what Aderra does to "Lock Down" the music we record at live concerts. I told him we use the same exact thing that Universal (the artist's label) uses for DRM on their CDs. This mollified him for a moment until he caught on that I meant "nothing". Then is mind reeled. He hadn't ever considered before that DRM on digital music files was ridiculous given that CDs are wide open to be ripped and shared.

So then I told him about Rhapsody. I have a friend with Rhapsody who was annoyed with the restrictions on where and how he could listen to the tracks they supplied by subscription. I sent him to Radio Shack to pick up an 1/8" stereo to 1/8" stereo cable (I'm, guessing that ran him less than $5). Then I told him to run from his mp3 player out to a laptop and record everything he wanted to unlock into garageband. Ta da. Unlocked music.

Then I told him about the iTunes trick. Make a playlist of locked AAC files in iTunes. Burn it to an audio CD then rip the tracks from the CD as MP3s. Ta da. Unlocked music.

Then I told him about "secure" streams on NPR and other sites. Same old 1/8" stereo cable trick.

There is no way to create a file that you can listen to or watch and not have it vulnerable to being copied. (Here is my challenge, I'll provide 100 USBs, custom imprinted and loaded for anyone that can send me a digital media file that I cannot make shareable.)(and yes, your content will be on torrent sites) This is not about what a wicked hacker I am or or implied support of sites like the Pirate Bay, the point is that "locking" digital media content is senseless.

So as the manager I was speaking with began to realize that the fight against file sharing is futile he asked what why they had been wasting time on it for so many years.
The reality is that the people who will pay for your music will and those who won't, won't.
So really the only thing to do is make music people will invest themselves in both emotionally and financially. Worry about file sharing is a waste of time and energy. Finding a way to use file sharing to further awareness of your artist's music is well worth some thought.

Jun 16, 2010

Shooter Jennings - Black Ribbons The Living Album

So I try not to post too much about what my company Aderra is doing but seeing as it pretty much has taken over my life its hard not to include some of the overflow here. But this isn't a post about something the company is doing per se but is about my personal experience while working on a recent project with Shooter Jennings and his band Hierophant.

Last year Tom Morello hired us to record the Axis of Justice benefit show in Los Angeles. As we were setting up the multitrack gear Shooter showed up for soundcheck to run through a song. He got about half way through the first verse and I exchanged glances with the guys who work with me; holy shit this guy is the real deal. The voice booming out of him was soulful and yet very southern. He was singing Bob Dylan's "Isis" with Tom Morello on guitar. Really cool.

So we had a good night at the show, Corey Taylor from Slipknot (a complete revelation when he steps out from under the fright mask), Sen Dog (Singing Paradise City!), Brother Wayne Kramer, Jerry Cantrell singing "Wish You were Here", Eugene Hutz, Lemmy and more. I walked away pretty amazed by everyone but most of all by Shooter. Spoke with him for a few minutes after the concert. Didn't realize he had a radio show on Sirius until he mentioned it (I am woefully unaware of most of what is happening in subscription driven media platforms..)

Fast forward a year. I had seen a brief glimpse of Shooter in Streetsweeper Social Club's "100 Little Curses" video but heard nothing since the Morello show. Then I read an L.A. Times review review of Shooter's new "Black Ribbons" album featuring Stephen King. The album sounded ominous an imposing, a concept on par with The Wall or the challenging theories of David Icke I had recorded back in October of 2008 when he had appeared live in downtown L.A.(The man spoke on stage alone for four hours o an overflow capacity house with only a 3 minute break .)

I made a note and bought the album on Amazon the day it was released. Whoa. This was a mix of Heavy Soundgarden-esque riffs, Floydian-Rick Wright style Moog solos, Wall/Operation Mind Crime narrative, and more than just a touch of the South. And some GREAT songs, "Black Ribbons", "God Bless Alabama" leaped out of the speakers.

A few weeks later we ended up out on the road multi-tracking several of Shooter's shows in the south. Reports from our folks on the road were that everything went smoothly and the crew and band were cool.
Then I got the hard drive with the first show on it.
The first thing that I noticed was the organ. An honest to god B-3 through a smokin' Leslie speaker. Not just a nice emulation but the real deal. (Found out later it a Hammond Spinet model not a B-3 but still spinning tone wheels). Then I started to notice how the band, Hierophant had taken the textures of the album and made them their own. And the songs while strong on the record, are amazing live; the guitar tone "Triskaidekaphobia" is stunning, the groove of "Summer of Rage", the sorrow of "All of this could have been yours", the Allmanesque"The Breaking Point" and the opening salvo of "Wake Up!"; all mind blowing.

Now granted, I have spent a lot of time in the studio mixing these shows and have heard these songs dozens of times each (if not more). But I have to testify that this band, with Bobby Emmett on keyboards, The Schreffman on lead guitar, with Ted Russell Kamp and Bryan Keeling on drums is one of the best on stage these days. And if you are in any way a fan of sophisticated yet soulful classic rock you must get Black Ribbons, go see this band live and be sure to listen to "Black Ribbons: The Living Album" the collection of live show recordings Shooter has released on USB drive. (Yes, that sounds like a plug to buy a product we produced but it was really meant as the most sincere endorsement of these songs, this band and this album I could make.)

Jun 4, 2010

Album Sales Plummet To Lowest Total In Decades

Is this really a surprise to anyone?

Album Sales Plummet To Lowest Total In Decades