Archive for September, 2008


we like science, too

Not that I challenge myself too much to be on-topic with every post, but since there is some science behind our search engine, I figured I’m allowed to show you this excellent ad placement in a recent edition of Nature magazine.

Amazing foresight to someone if this ad buy was intentional.


the only way to celebrate rosh hashanah

At 7pm central time tonight, VH-1 will kick of their observance of Rosh Hashanah – commonly known as the beginning of the Jewish new year (though there’s much more to it than that) – by airing 24 hours of Rush videos and concert footage in a celebration they’ve dubbed “Rush Hashanah.”

At first this seemed somewhat cringe-worthy, but it turns out that lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee is, in fact, Jewish. Geddy Lee, born Gary Lee Weinrib, is the son of Holocaust survivors from Poland. (I wonder if they’d have run with this idea if he wasn’t.)

It probably wouldn’t matter, because practicing Jews will not be able to watch any of the broadcast, due to the tenets of the holiday.

So, to those celebrating Rosh Hashanah (or even Rush Hashanah), mazel tov. Here’s a live clip of “Tom Sawyer,” one of Rush’s most notable songs…



newtunes will not be rocking the vote (nor will we kill you if you don’t vote)

While many in the music industry are still interested in rocking the vote or killing you if you don’t vote, NewTunes firmly advocates that you do what you want to do. Until there is a law mandating that you vote, you have just as much of a right not to vote as you do to vote.

The fact is that a lot of people don’t follow news or politics and they just aren’t interested. So, if they’re not paying attention or don’t really care, why force them to vote? The answer, to the campaigns, is that if they’re not committed, then they can use that person and vote for them. Here’s an analogy that I think might help my point…

Let’s say Death Cab for Cutie and Beck were each going to be playing a free show in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and tickets are free and general admission (and required). The shows are announced over a year in advance, and the diehard fans get tickets right away. The shows will be on the same day, at the same time, but on opposite ends of the park. People can only attend one.

Now, there’s a segment of each fan base that think everyone should go and hear the bands’ concert. They believe the band they like is the best, and they really want to prove it to the fans of the other band.

So they go around recruiting everyone – regardless of demographic, psychographic or any other graphic – to attend the show. They’re renting buses, showing up at college dorms and hospice facilities alike, picking up the residents – most of whom have not even heard of either of the bands and have not interest in them, bringing them to the grounds and handing them tickets to the show THEY want the residents to go see.

And some groups of fans are so committed to their band that they’re sneaking people without tickets into the grounds. Some are even paying people to attend these shows.

Some people really like the bands, but don’t want to deal with the crowds or they’ve seen the bands before, so they decide to show up early to look at the layout of the park. They figure now that they’ve seen the layout, they probably have a good idea of what will happen at the show, so they leave. What they don’t know is that both bands will be playing new songs that only those attending will get to hear.

Meanwhile, the real, die-hard Beck and Death Cab for Cutie fans are revving up and excited as hell to go. They’ve purchased all the CDs and have been supporting the bands for years. They’re ready to camp out and get the best seats. They’re home playing those CDs, counting down the hours until show time.

The day of the concerts comes, and all these people who’ve never heard either Death Cab or Beck, and some who don’t even like either one, show up. Both bands start their show at the same time. The diehard fans are stoked and trying to get into the show. But all of those who were encouraged to take part in this “historic concert event” are bored and starting to wonder why they’re there. So they start talking amongst themselves – many getting really drunk because if nothing else, it’s a party. Others just bored and milling about.

Soon no one at either show can hear the band play because of all the people there who don’t care are talking, spilling beer on them, moving about trying to get closer or farther away from the stage. It ruins the entire experience for everyone and everyone walks away angry and frustrated – especially the Beck and Death Cab fans who had been looking forward to this show for over a year. Bootleggers who were trying to tape the show had their recordings ruined by people around them who were yelling because the music was “too loud.” No one could hear the show with all the talking, and it was hard to enjoy yourself with people constantly walking around, bumping into people and generally being a nuisance.

People who are engaged in the political process know the candidates. They know when voting day is, and if they’re so inclined, they’re going to vote. Freedom is supposed to be the backbone of this country – including freedom not to vote. That’s why I am completely anti any pro-voting initiative. Anything that encourages people to vote should be outlawed (I’m kinda joking on that one, but I’d still be for it).

When election day comes, those who care will and should vote. If you’re not interested, stay home.

There should also be severe limits on early and absentee ballots, because the greatest opportunity for voting fraud exists around early balloting or mailed in ballots – when no one is there to check identification.

Let’s not ruin this fall’s election show for the true fans. This election is simply too important for everyone to go and vote. Either start listening to all everything that the candidates have recorded – old and new – or stay home. There’s no shame in either, only shame in being used by the candidates and their fans.


genres on newtunes

As we’ve been uploading our music catalog to testing area of our website, we’ve been having discussions about if there are any genres of music that we should NOT have on our site.

Obvious genres like alternative, rock, pop and r&b/hip-hop will all be there, and I suspect the bulk of our traffic will come from people into those genres. But there are other very legitimate genres like classical, opera, religious and world music… to name a few. In my eyes, there’s no reason not to feature our entire catalog. Sure, for marketing purposes, we can really focus on one or two and go after the people who listen to those – indie/alternative, rock and r&b/hip-hop being the most likely suspects.

But each genre has its own core audience of people to go after. We could easily be a site at which Catholics could use our service to find other religious bands that sound like ones they like. Likewise, an opera fan could find other operas (although it seems to me, if you’re an opera fan, you’re probably familiar with a lot of different operas… and then there’s the obvious joke about them all sounding similar, anyway).

Then there’s music that spans several genres.. songs that blend hip-hop, religion, ska and other nuances of many different genres.

Here’s two examples I was sent today. First one is from The Way, performing “The Renewed Mind is the Key”… (click here). *Update: Since posting this, they took down that page of their site (although everything else was left… hmmm.)

The second is a creative ska/rock/religious mix by a band called Sonseed…


testing. relentless, merciless testing.

We’ve got the first iteration of the NewTunes site in-house right now, and it’s testing time.

We’ll be spending much of the next three days beating the crap out of the site, trying to find every bug, flaw and oddity we can… so that you don’t, later.

I’m sure we’ll miss a few things, and I’m sure you won’t hesitate to point them out (at least we hope you won’t). But we’re excited to finally be at this point.

More on this story, and a few of the findings, later this week…


i saw josh groban on the emmys

I understand music is subject to taste. It’s hard to definitively say that something is great or crap…

But why does anyone listen to Josh Groban? His voice is the equivalent of Kenny G’s sax…


today is a very good day… it’s a gogol bordello day

About a week before I left the newspaper last year, one of our sister publications in Utah had asked me to head out there for some consulting. Because I made the plane reservations only a week prior, the ticket from Madison to Utah cost the company $1,200.

When I left the paper, I asked them if they still wanted me to do the consulting. They said they wouldn’t give me any money for it, so I decided not to go.

Shortly after, my travel agent asked me “so, what are you going to do with the $1,200 in flights?” Apparently, I now had one year to use up that amount of money on Northwest Airlines. I checked into giving it back, but it was in my name and non-transferable and non-refundable (both exciting “nons”, I have to admit).

I used about $400 to head to Austin last November for a friend of mine’s wedding. It was my first trip to Austin, and I was rewarded with the world’s best burritos at Freebirds (you should really check it out).

Fast forward to October of this year. I had the rest of my $1,200 to use, and it had to be booked by mid-September. I decided to go to San Francisco to see my family and hang out.

Meanwhile, NewTunes launch is on the horizon, and we’re thinking of ways to kick it off. I see that Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is going on in San Francisco while I’m there, and I start thinking we could probably get one of the bands playing there, in the day, to do a night show at one of the local clubs. After checking out the lineup, Gogol Bordello seems like an obvious choice.

I called their management and it turns out they’d be willing to play the event – for a fee, of course.

But, we hit some of the predictable development delays, and having an event that weekend would be a bit premature. So, I had to call them back and let them know the timing wasn’t going to work out. Oh well, at least I still get to see them at the festival.

Since I’m going to be there from Thursday through Tuesday of that weekend, I decided to check out the lineups at Slim’s and Great American Music Hall – two of my favorite venues there.

Guess what? Someone took my idea, and Gogol Bordello is playing at Slim’s on Sunday night (after their performance at the festival). I just bought two tickets ($30/ticket) and am really excited to see them in a club venue instead of a festival setting. This has now gone from a nicely-timed vacation to a trip I can’t wait for. This one’s going to be great. And if you haven’t had a chance to see them, you should join me…

“Dub the Frequencies of Love” is my current favorite of theirs. You can check it out here…

And here’s another taste of the live experience…

September 2008
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