So… “CNET | Poll: Should music be free?”


Not that it’s never been brought up before… but, the debate rages on.  I find it interesting that it’s a CNET poll, and that there are people quite passionate on both sides of the issue.  Check out this poll:

Poll: Should music be free? | Paying for music is now a voluntary act, so why would anyone ever buy a CD, LP, or download?

English: The crossed out copyright symbol with...

English: The crossed out copyright symbol with a musical note on the right hand side is the free music symbol, signifying a lack of copyright restrictions on music. It may be used in the abstract, or applied to a sound recording or musical composition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not exactly sure where I fall.  Obviously, as a musician… I see value in the songs & the entertainment.  It’s great when I have a product to sell.  It’s awesome that people would want to pay to purchase noise that I make.  To me it’s more of a lifestyle/hobby though.  I don’t mind playing just to make gas money, or selling music barely above cost… or even posting it for free.  I dig that people enjoy it.  But, and this is a big but…  If it was my sole means of income, I sure would not be happy giving much away for free.  Although, radio and now online streaming are the way to get heard, and… that’s free.  You almost need that to advertise yourself, unless you gig non-stop like Metallica in their early days.

Are people like me who don’t mind giving away music devaluing music for everyone?  I certainly like free stuff.  I also buy CD’s & merchandise from local & smaller touring acts like a madman.  I realize I’m not normal in that practice.  I see the value in others’ art.  It’s important to me to reward their efforts.

The again, I’m a huge fan of freeware, shareware, and open source stuff when it comes to software.  What’s the difference?

What’s the new model?  Albums are free, shows and T-shirts make you money?  Every band releases a documentary & a bunch of live DVD’s?  Government sticks its’ nose into streaming and it becomes an ad-heavy payola nightmare?

I’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts in the comments.

Digital Media vs.Physical Media.


The other day I posted a Facebook status, and wanted to expand upon it here.  This is what I said:

I get that digital & cloud media are the next step. I get that ALMOST everything is available for streaming as part of a service. Anyone else weirded out by it? Some stuff… obscure or whatever just isn’t available for streaming. What happens when the companies close or the cloud’s redundant services fail? What happens if someone buys the rights to streaming movies, just to keep them from the public? What if censorship goes out of control and some committee decided certain movies are no longer available? Will they all be lost forever because no one will have physical copies? Don’t say it can’t happen… it has in the past with books.

It sparked a discussion.  Not too long after I posted that, Amazon posted this:

Announcing AutoRip from Amazon MP3: Buy an AutoRip CD and instantly get the MP3 version for FREE. Learn more: http://amzn.to/VMhFaJ

I of course shared it, and it sparked a tiny bit more discussion.

English: Photograph of Roku XDS player with re...

Photograph of Roku XDS player with remote. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like the idea of digital music & cloud storage.  I just purchased a 3TB drive, and in addition to other uses, hope to eventually rip all of my CD’s & put them on there so I can set it up to listen to all of my stuff from any browser anywhere.  Well, after I make a few decisions.

I like the idea of Digital movies & TV shows…  I love having Netflix‘s library available in an instant.  I love being able to watch a movie from Netflix or rent a digital movie from Amazon through the Blu-ray player.

I like the idea of Pandora or Google Play where there’s streaming music there in an instant.  Pandora just disappoints because of the variety of music I listen to… a lot of smaller bands that I really dig just have a minimal or even no presence there.  Google Play at least lets you upload your own mp3’s in addition to purchasing new ones.  Amazon holds your stuff in the cloud too.  I just wish all the music that I wanted was all in one place.

I have had an older external hard drive crash.  It’s not good.  I still need to get it fixed without breaking the bank.  Anything physical can be destroyed…  CD’s & Records can melt or scratch, and not too many people have 8-Trak or even cassette players any more.

My original question is as much about content control & ownership as much as anything else.  Say you purchase a ton of music that’s in the cloud… and that company shuts down.  How do you hold on to that music?  Were you just renting it?  What happens if the parent company gets into a disagreement with the management of your favorite band and their catalog is removed from your clous storage?

Cover of "Idiocracy"

“…a time when people cared about who’s ass it was, and why it was farting!”

What if you bought the movie Idiocracy and it becomes so true to life that it’s banned?  Don’t sit back comfortably and think it can’t happen.  Books are banned all the time by different groups.  No one comes & takes all of your books… yet.  What if the banned book could be deleted from your Kindle or Nook?  All In The Family would never fly on TV now, but what if it was no longer available because of its abrasive humor?

I just feel uneasy about it.

That being said, I absolutely hate cash money.  I hardly ever have it on me.  I like swiping my card for everything.  If I could use it in parking meters and pop machines, I would.  There’s a swing back towards cash though, as credit card company fees are crushing small businesses, especially if you’re making a purchase with a low dollar amount.  Is it odd that I have no problem with my money being intangible,  but when I use to to purchase an album or a movie… I need that to be tangible?

I’d like to get a good discussion going in the comments.

Bands vs. Venues: Who promotes? Who makes money? Can everyone “win”?


Rick from the Fallout Shelter brought up a great discussion topic on Facebook, and it inspired me to blog about it.

That’s a private group on Facebook, so here’s what was said in case you’re not a member:

Rick D'Agostino Looking for some feedback from the music community out there. Do you think that the $5 cover charge keeps you or your friends from attending shows at the Fallout Shelter that they might otherwise attend to check out new bands? In other words, are folks only willing to pay a $5 cover to see bands that they already know? And as a band member, would you rather play to a larger crowd with a tip bucket or to just a few people and make some gas money? I am thinking of making some changes. you can reply here or message me if you want. thanks!

Rick D’Agostino is looking for some feedback from the music community out there..

Dig?  So now, you have the gist of it.  My blog may go on its own little tangent, you never really know with these things.  It’s certainly worth talking about.

First, it’s clear that I’ve never been in a band where making money is the ultimate goal.  I’m amazed over & over that venue owners let me come in, set up, and play in front of people.  Sometimes we get money from the door, sometimes we get money from tickets sold, sometimes we give it all to the touring band, sometimes it’s a charity gig, sometimes no one shows up to pay anyone, sometimes we get some gas money or a couple of bucks to dump back into merch or something.

This is how it’s worked nearly everywhere and every time I have played:  Most of the time, the cover is $3 to $5, unless we’re opening for a national act & it’s through a booker where we’re asked to sell tickets.  Some call the latter “pay to play“, and rail wholly against it.  Some people have no problem selling tickets.  Some bands like mine do, but we try anyway.  At bar gigs, the cover charge is usually $5.  Sometimes it all goes to the bands, especially if it’s a bar & if you provide your own door person.  Sometimes it pays for a sound guy (if there is one) & a cut goes to the bar, then the bands get paid.  Sometimes locals defer and let the out-of-town bands take the cash (if there is one).  Sometimes you can play for free at open stages, sometimes you pay to get in at open stages.  Sometimes no one comes out to see you, and no one gets paid.  Sometimes the band gets free or discounted drinks.  It’s generally a no pay or break even situation.  You hope to sell merchandise and/or CD‘s if you have them, and the bar hopes to sell drinks & food.  The bands should promote and the venues should promote.  Some venues think the bands should do it all, some bands think the venue should do it all.  Generally 3 or sometimes 4 bands are all on the same gig.  Sometimes, it all works out, sometimes… it doesn’t.  This is how bands who largely play their own music are forced to operate.

That’s only 1 way.  There are many other “scenes” here overlapping in the ‘Burgh.

Cover bands… or human jukebox bands, can generally charge a fee for playing a certain style, genre, or “songs that people know”.  This is to provide entertainment to drunken Yinzer patrons who want to yell out requests.  You probably usually play 3 sets, maybe 4… and you’re the only entertainment all night.  You’re probably playing pop country, classic rock, or a little mix of everything.  Professional singers/songwriters operate pretty much the same way as described above, but can get away with putting in more of their own material.

High-class…  I know a band that plays funk, and can get $5000 a gig at the least.  They put their twist on a bunch of songs, dress up, bring lights, and put on one hell of a show.  I’m pretty sure I could never command that much cash for what I do… but how is one less relevant or entertaining?  They do weddings, corporate parties, and “events”.

I’m sure there’s other stuff out there that I’m not even aware of.  I can’t really speak for any other parts of the scene than the one I’m in.

I’ve heard the argument that charging only $5 is devaluing our craft.  Bands should demand more to be heard live.  It worked for Yuengling.  They raised the price on their beer in the late 90s/early 00s and they took off ahead of the other “microbrews”.  Should we then put a higher value on ourselves & our art?  If we raise the price do we raise our expectations?  Do we raise our worth?  Do we raise the value of our music & entertainment?

I also see that a cover charge can make or break a show.  Times are changing.  People aren’t spending money on entertainment.  Music is seen like it’s all supposed to be free.  Why would someone pay for a live show?  To me, if you don’t have $5 on you for a show, maybe you shouldn’t be going to a bar in the 1st place.  $5 might get you 2 beers if you’re a butthole & don’t tip the bartender.  Then again, we hardly ever walk away with any money anyway (the Fallout Shelter is an exception here, we get paid well there, regardless of turnout), so why not let people in for free?

The tip bucket.  I’d play for one.  I have no doubt that we’re entertaining.  Why not, right?  Do all bands split the tip bucket?  Or go per performance?  That if the 1st band up gets all the cash & the “cleanup” band gets nothing simply because the patrons ran out of cash?  Are we nothing more than indoor buskers if we play for a tip jar?  Is it a better measurement of our entertainment value to work for tips?  Does it devalue our art to basically beg for donations to support the rock n’ roll cause?

I certainly don’t want to see my favorite venues close because they can’t afford to operate.  I like to play them, I like to see other bands in them… I want them to do well.  I want them to continue to host my band & other bands.  I even want them to make a buck so it’s all worth their while, and so they can do it to make a living.

I just want to play.  I don’t care where, or for how much.  I have fun doing it.  I think this is an important discussion to have, though.  What is the value of live rock n’ roll?

So…

  • Would you play for less of a cover charge?
  • Should we charge more for shows?
  • Should bands play for tips?
  • How should the tips be split?
  • How does the venue make money?
  • Who pays the sound guy?

Leave your opinions in the comments below!

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Moving my CD’s to a full-out digitial collection. It is time.


I need to step into the 00s.  I know it’s already the 10s, but I’m obviously already behind.  Yesterday I filled 4 giant under-bed storage containers (& one little one) with CD’s.  I need to rip this veritable mountain of plastic to a more easily & instantly accessible medium.

Enrico Caruso with a "Victrola" bran...

Where is the USB port on this thing...?

I also have a pile of vinyl that I believe I’m set up to rip… I just have to plug everything together.  Maybe after that, I’ll do my the last few of my cassette tapes.

For the younger readers:

Any advice?

First one to say iTunes gets a stinkpalm.  I don’t like programs that “take over” and are meant for people who don’t know what they’re doing.  I also dislike anything that asks me to “synch” anything.  NO.  I DO NOT WANT TO SYNCH ANYTHING.

I have a Google Music account that’s awesome, I might use it to store a bunch of the stuff I like to listen to.  Google has a 20,000 song limit.  I’m over that, no doubt.

I’ll most likely keep the CD’s so I have something to listen to when the grid crashes.

Winamp 1

WinAmp (Old School)

I will most likely use CDex and Mp3Tag to get everything in order.  I have experience with them and like them.  They’re free.  I also like WinAmp as a player.  Yes, I still like WinAmp.

I’ll probably need a 1TB (or bigger) external hard drive.  Where can I get an inexpensive yet reliable one?  My usual spots are TigerDirect or NewEgg.  Is there somewhere else I should try?

The compact disc

There are 1s and 0s on here? I don't see any.

It will make accessing the music any time I want much easier.  I’ll be able to control the genres & tags, add artwork, and if I get crazy I can hook up something so I can play all of my stuff from any computer in the house.  I also have an FM transmitter somewhere so I can further destroy the sound quality broadcast to any & all radios in the house.

Re-buying probably isn’t an option for at least a quarter if not half of my collection.  I have a lot of local D.I.Y. stuff and stuff from touring bands that I’ve never heard from again.  Also; I’m cheap.  I bought it once.  I’m not buying it again.  I think I’ve bought Appetite for Destruction at least 6 times.  Two cassettes, 3 CD’s, & a vinyl.  Does Axl really need another dollar out of me?

I’d try a service like Ripshark, but why if I can do it myself?  Also; I’m cheap.

Sadly, my Insignia can’t handle any SDHC cards over 4GB, and it freaks out once you hit over 2000 songs.  Maybe I can put a backup drive in my car & hook it to my stereo, to play my entire music catalog at will?  I’m getting ahead of myself.

Have you done this yourself?  Are you thinking it’s time to do this too?  Do they make a 2TB iPod yet?  Should I go with mp3‘s or rip to something else?  AAC? FLAC?

So many options.  I suppose I’ll finish the entire project some time in 2015.  I’ll still be quicker than PennDOT.  If the world ends before I finish this, I’m going to be really upset.

Cover Album…


“Someday” if I ever get the time, energy, & resources… I’d like to record a CD of some of my favorite songs with whatever kind of band I can pull together, or maybe even a varied assortment of musician friends.  Some of them are by bigger bands, some by locals, some by bands I’ve been in.

I’m sure there are more I’d want to include.  There’s no real reason to this, other than I think they’re all solid songs and it would be all kinds of fun.  Well, add any of the songs from my Ramones/Misfits/related bands list, really.

If anyone has better audio links for any of these… or any link at all for ones that aren’t click-able, I’d really appreciate your sharing of such things.

(I’d actually like to re-record most of the AiXeLsyD & Gasoline Dion catalogs, just because I think a little more attention to production could really polish some of that stuff. – Reunion gig or 2 anyone?  Ha ha.)

What songs do you dig enough to cover?  Any of these?  Ever hear of any of these?  Ha ha.  What would be on your album were you to do the same thing?