Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Shutting the lid

In another crushing blow to the independent proliferation of creative arts, has been banned from streaming to various countries, including Canada (as of today). I'd gone through a love/hate relationship with the site. The idea, for those who haven't used it or heard of it, is to create custom streaming stations based on artists or songs with similarities determined by a bunch of music theory geeks in a back room. It can be further refined by user ratings. The concept is great, and has parallels with or Yahoo!'s LaunchCast, but it has a vast database of music and may be the only one to purportedly deal with music on theoretical terms. My only qualm with it is in the results, and granted I'm a little picky. It takes a lot of tweaking because the areas isolated by the theoreticians may not be the common threads I hear. (It's also a bit disingenuous to claim all Brazilian music is related because it has Portuguese lyrics.) I had greater success with more minimal and popular forms of music, like the last station I created, seeded from the Jimmy Castor Bunch's "It's Just Begun."

According to founder Tim Westergren, the issue at hand is that Canada does not have an adequate license to cover what they do - it would need to be a nearly exact counterpart to the DMCA/SoundExchange combo in the States. That claim leaves me dumbfounded; between CRIA, CMRRA and SOCAN, we don't have adequate licensing for something like Pandora? My initial feeling is Westergren and co. just didn't know where to look.

The fact that Pandora only recently acquired the ability to associate IP addresses with locations not only befuddles me (as my blog's SiteMeter's been available for free for a long time now), but also raises the question: how does Pandora's service differ from's radio features, or David Byrne's radio stream (or Kyle Gann's, or any number of streams I can get through iTunes), or the fact that I can listen and watch webcast material from various NPR affiliates across the US?

I've never come across an industry so entirely out of touch with the desires of its consumers as the music industry. As someone commented on the Pandora blog, "Other industries can only *dream* of treating their customers with the contempt that the music industry does." I've said it before: as a musician and composer, yes, I'd love to be compensated adequately for my work, but as it stands right now, the attention I would garner through having plays on MySpace,, Pandora and various college/community stations internationally would only result in further compensation through gigs, potential album sales, etc etc. As a journalist and broadcaster, I get a kick out of programming music for whoever may be listening, and as a music fan I'm always into that one killer track someone sends out over the airwaves that is entirely new to me.


I'm going to New York next week after another protracted absence due to prior commitments and inclement weather. Monday the 21st is an embarrassment of riches that I won't be able to catch because of my train's arrival time: Montrealer Francois Bourassa is at Dizzy's with guest David Binney; Butch Morris does a conduction at Nublu; Ingrid Jensen's at 55Bar and Noah Jarrett & Todd Sickafoose's bands are at Bar 4. Depending on what time my train gets in, I may check out Ingrid or Butch Morris, or maybe just head on up to Smoke's jam session as per usual, with special guest Jim Rotondi on trumpet. With the closure of Tonic, I'm at a loss as to what to do on Tuesday night. All About Jazz-NY shows that Eli Degibri is playing with Mark Turner, Ben Street and Jeff Ballard at Louis 649 and Binney is hitting 55Bar again. I may trek over to Barbes and check out Slavic Soul Party.

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