New playlist: Mike Friedman

We have a new playlist currently running on Greenleaf Radio (at the top of the page). Compiled by Michael Friedman, it's a smattering of great Chicago Soul music that Mike has been obsessed with lately.


Digital music is profitable and fun

According to figures released by an industry trade group, digital music sales tripled in the first half of 2005, even as physical sales fell by 2-10% around the world. Mobile phone "ringtunes", pay-as-you-go downloads and music subscriptions combined to offset the recent and persistent declines in overall sales.

Yes, we're shocked -- shocked! -- to find there is music-buying going on here.


Sue who?

A new wave of RIAA lawsuits has brought something else new: a 41 year-old Oregon woman, Tanya Andersen, has countersued the RIAA for fraud, invasion of privacy, abuse of process, electronic trespass, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, negligent misrepresentation, and deceptive business practices.

From the filing:

11. Settlement Support Center also falsely claimed that Ms. Andersen had “been viewed


Greenleaf Music Interview with Ryan Kotler

I recently did an interview with doctoral candidate Ryan Kotler about Greenleaf Music and the industry in general. If you're interested, read on.

RK: What are some of the largest obstacles that Greenleaf Music faces at the moment?

The challenges faced by Greenleaf Music are not unlike the challenges facing other start up entities in the record business, or any business for that matter: establishing name recognition, creating a recognizable sound, creating an identity in the marketplace, gaining the trust of the consumer and doing it all expediently so that what we are creating is a fiscally responsible entity.

RK: Are there particular threats to the overall success and viability of running a new independent record label?

There are numerous threats. Difficulty gaining access to the existing marketplace is probably the biggest. Large corporations are in control of all aspects of the music industry. Record companies, distributors, retail, radio, even the press to a certain extent are all owned by a relatively small group of businesses. Naturally they have configured the playing field so that it works best for them. Some of it is simply the natural bigness of these companies and some of it is aggressive tactics designed to lessen competition.

RK: What are some of the biggest opportunities Greenleaf is faced with?

The opportunities are related to the threats because as the saying goes, "nature abhors a vacuum." Big companies have created a vacuum, at least compared to what once existed, in really creative, compelling, heart stopping music production and in the consistent development of artists whose music does not conform to a very narrow range of musical possibilities. At the same time, the internet has opened up new and highly effective ways to reach people (potential customers). We believe there are people out there looking for something beyond what the big companies are offering and we thing the internet is an effective way to reach them . At this point, the internet as an effective way of reaching consumers is still unproven. For us, the next six months will tell a lot.

RK: Are there any existing successful business models that you're trying to incorporate into Greenleaf?

Maybe the closest business model to ours is the A&M Records model (one person does the art, the other person handles the business) but given that we are dealing with such a shifting industry it doesn't really seem to apply somehow. So there are really no companies that I am aware of that are attempting to do exactly what we are trying to do, which, at the most basic level, is to create a new label from the ground up by focusing strongly on the internet for sales and marketing. We are inspired by Lost Highway Records for their 50/50 artist/record company profit sharing ideal. We are inspired by Artist Share for their philosophy that music companies in the current era must learn to harness the power of the digital delivery of music not fear it. We are inspried by individual artists like Chuck D, among others, but in terms of a business model, there is not an easy fit.

RK: What are the long-term goals you have Greenleaf Music?

Our long term goal is to make records and stay in business long term.


Variable pricing in online music

The era of fixed price music downloads may be coming to an end. Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, has called record company executives "greedy" for pushing for higher prices on Apple's iTunes internet music store. Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. responded by saying the price of downloaded songs should vary depending on the popularity of the songs and the artists and calling Apple’s flat rate of $0.99-per-song "unfair".

While it might be nice to see $2 Britney Spears tracks if it means two quality songs for a dollar, it's hard to trust record companies with ... well, anything regarding money.


EFF Guide to DRM

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published a guide blasting digital rights management in online music stores, particularly iTunes.

Many digital music services employ digital rights management (DRM) — also known as "copy protection" — that prevents you from doing things like using the portable player of your choice or creating remixes. Forget about breaking the DRM to make traditional uses like CD burning and so forth. Breaking the DRM or distributing the tools to break DRM may expose you to liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) even if you're not making any illegal uses.

In other words, in this brave new world of "authorized music services," law-abiding music fans often get less for their money than they did in the old world of CDs (or at least, the world before record companies started crippling CDs with DRM, too). Unfortunately, in an effort to attract customers, these music services try to obscure the restrictions they impose on you with clever marketing.


Paperback Series Release #2

Greenleaf Music announces its second Paperback series release: Kneebody, Live at Zebulon. Kneebody is a powerful live band, and Live at Zebulon finds them in great form at one of New York's premier underground venues. (Zebulon is so underground it's actually in Brooklyn.)

Coming soon! Check back later for more details.


People Commissioning People

Here's another great way that composers and musicians are linking directly to listeners through the web.

The People's Commissioning Fund is simple; we bundle together hundreds of individual contributions of all sizes. We select three or more new composers to write pieces for the phenomenal Bang on a Can All-Stars. All members of the Fund are then invited to join us in the intimate setting of an open rehearsal to get a sneak preview of the premiere of these works and enjoy a glass of wine with the artists.

Since the Fund started seven years ago, aficionados of new music have commissioned twenty new pieces of music.


Pearl Jam's "Digital Bootlegs"

Yet another way that musicians are using the Internet to offer products they previously couldn't:

SEATTLE - Beginning with Pearl Jam's sold out concert at the Gorge in George, Washington on September 1, the band will begin releasing high quality digital downloads of their live shows exclusively at www.pearljam.com. The digital downloads will be available for most of the band's 2005 Canadian and US dates just hours after each show has ended; they will include special downloadable artwork and a slideshow specific to each night's show.

Pearl Jam's "digital bootlegs" will be professionally mixed in real-time at each show by Pearl Jam's longtime studio and live engineer, Brett Eliason. Eliason's company, Basecamp Productions, developed the software application that delivers and manages digital downloads. Pearl Jam has opted to encode the digital files at a higher than standard bit rate (192k) in an effort to balance manageable file sizes with very good sound quality. The cost is $9.99 per show.

More music to lovers of music everywhere. Positive trends for all, and definitely an inspiration for our Paperback Series.


Paypal micropayments

According to a shareholder.com press release:

PayPal, the global online payment service, today announced new micropayments processing fees for digital goods. The new pricing will provide merchants with a more affordable way to process payments for low-cost digital content such as video games, online greeting cards, news articles, mobile phone content and digital music. PayPal's micropayments pricing is designed to give customers the convenience of a-la-carte purchases, such as 99-cent downloadable ringtones, without having to sign up for annual subscriptions or pre-funded payment accounts.

It's designed for transactions closer to $2 than, say, $.10, so calling it a micropayment system is probably premature. But services like this potentially lower the barriers between artists, music and fans, and that's always a good thing.


Dave/Fatty in New York Times

He's too modest to point it out himself, but Dave is featured in Sunday's edition of the New York Times (free registration required).

The silent-film comedian Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle may seem like an unlikely inspiration for a jazz composer. But the trumpeter Dave Douglas's newest album serves as accompaniment, homage and apology to Arbuckle, whose career was destroyed when he was charged with rape and murder in 1921. "Keystone," set for release Sept. 20 on Mr. Douglas's own Greenleaf Music label (www.greenleafmusic.com), uses DualDisc technology in a multimedia package devoted to Arbuckle. The CD side of the disc includes 11 original songs; on the DVD side, five of those songs, in edited form, make up a new soundtrack for "Fatty and Mabel Adrift," a 1916 two-reeler that Arbuckle made, as director and star, for Mack Sennett at Keystone Film Studios. The DVD side also has a music video called "Just Another Murder," created from vignettes from another Arbuckle film, "Fatty's Tintype Tangle."

The project began when Jon Yanofsky, executive director of the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, N.Y., asked Mr. Douglas if he would like to write and perform some film scores in conjunction with a grant the center had received. Not wanting his music "to overpower the images," Mr. Douglas said, he chose to work with the Arbuckle films because their fast pace seemed to match well with the heavily grooved, electronica-steeped jazz riffs he was creating in his home studio. Mr. Douglas said he was also drawn by the present obscurity of the films; Arbuckle was one of the biggest stars of the silent era when the scandal struck, but he never regained his popularity even though he was eventually acquitted. Mr. Douglas and his band will perform live to screenings of "Fatty and Mabel Adrift," "Fatty's Tintype Tangle" and two other Arbuckle films on Oct. 1 at the Paramount Center (http://tickets.paramountcenter.org); a New York City performance is scheduled for Feb. 18.

Sharing a birthday (March 24) with Arbuckle "certainly piqued my interest," Mr. Douglas said. "But what really got me into the guy was realizing why his name was tarnished. It hit on my sense of social consciousness and made me want to be part of setting something right for Roscoe Arbuckle."


Internet is the new radio?

Slashdot has a post about how the Internet is affecting how music and people meet.

Richard Menta from MP3 Newswire recently posted an article that describes how the Net has shifted his tastes
from main stream radio artists to indie acts he discovered online.
Slashdot has run a number of articles dealing with the struggles of
independent artists and how the net is helping them. Between the recent
payola scandal and the incursion of Big Radio
into podcasting the major labels are pushing hard to monopolize what
they can. The good news is that Big Music is much slower adjusting to
the changes brought about by technology than Little Music and the sky
is looking rosier for the independent artist. In a July article, CNET also discussed how things are looking much better for the independents.

(via Slashdot)