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by Jason Gross

1 Nov 2005

Note this tidbit from a Reuters story: Sprint launches music service, fast network: “Cingular, a venture of SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth, in September began selling a Motorola Inc. phone that runs Apple’s music-playing iTunes software but the phone has met with a lukewarm reception.”  And how much do you want to bet that Steve Jobs isn’t losing sleep over this…

by Jason Gross

31 Oct 2005

Good article at Alternet about the Shock Jock king moving to the satellite realm and what they might or might not mean for the burgeoning industry.  The consensus seems to be that it’ll help them (of course) but that satellite ain’t gonna take over for a number of years to come. 

The question then is, if the self-proclaimed king of all media can’t drag users over to that realm, what will eventually?  The poor quality of “terrestial radio”?  Better quality and more diverse satellite channels?  Better radio personalities there? 

Admittedly, I haven’t taken the plunge yet but a friend showed me his Sirius set-up which he carries from his car to home.  The variety and ease of use was stunning.  I know this is old news to most people but on ol’ radio, you twiddle around the dial in a hit and miss search for some music or talk you wanna hear.  With Sirius, you would go through one station immediately after another of dozens of genres, which is easily more preferrable.  What seemed to be missing though were two things: 1) personalities who program to their own eccentricities and 2) free form radio where any genre goes.  Once satellite figures out how to do those well, the sky’s the limit.

And yet between XM and Sirius, their subscriber base is pretty tiny compared to ol’ radio.  As the crystal ball gazers in the Alternet article point out, Satellite’s time still has yet to come.  When the price of the units and subscription for the services shrink and ol’ radio has become so soggy that… Oh wait, there’s still Internet radio, right?  You know, thousands of stations from around the world you can access.  Unless you’re stuck on one station or have a specialized set of bookmarks for your favorite programs/stations, there’s still not the ease of use as on satellite but they do have the personalities and cross-genre programming on their side.  That’s hard to beat.

But you know how it is for new technologies and relatively speaking, satellite is still a baby (hell, the Web is barely over a dozen years old itself).  Maybe they need a sleek, sexy design for I-Pod before more people take it more seriously…

by Jason Gross

29 Oct 2005

Recommended reading of the day comes from Wired magazine: Battle for the Soul of the MP3 Phone.  Here we learn how phone carriers are thinking of playing nice with Apple while also worrying about making such deals, and vice versa.  Meanwhile, labels aren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of another player (phone companies) trying to muscle in on the profits.  One solution being trot around is raising prices for the downloads, which is sure to drive many home users to P2P services unfriendly to the RIAA.  Also, a chilling prediction at the end of the article for Apple: screw your prioritory Fair Play system to keep tracks under tabs or you’ll be out of the business.  This isn’t the first time this topic has come up and it may yet come back to haunt Steve Jobs and bite him in his ass…

by Jason Gross

27 Oct 2005

As much as I enjoy articles that poke at biz evils, it’s also important to talk about what can be done to counter them.  That’s why I recommend Timothy Karr’s Making Sense of Payola article from Free Press (reprinted in Alternet).  Not only do we learn the history and particulars of this disgraceful practice, we also get some practical ideas about what all of us as music fans can do to help punish the scumbugs who indulge in payola, including supporting local acts and local independent stations as well as letting your member of Congress and the FCC know how you feel.

by Jason Gross

26 Oct 2005

Best music scribing I’ve seen recently is this little gem by Sara Bir: Filmed Notes, concerning the idea of the musical biopic.  For Hollywood’s purposes, Bir points out that an artist’s or band’s career is shaped into a suitable beginning/middle/end storyline with the inevitable rise-fall career course that VH1’s “Behind the Music” documents (too) well now.  There could have been more than a few examples that are cited in the article but that would have been a massive undertaking and the few examples there serve the purpose.  Other than the upcoming Johnny Cash film Bir notes, there’s also a Biggie film in the works.

One difficult thing to chronicle in films like these are the scope of the subjects.  By nature, larger-than-life characters are the basis of these films but what also comes along with that are very complex characters that are difficult to fully chronicle in the space of a two hour film- that’s usually left to a good biographer.  While it’d be boring to see the goody-goody side of a famous character for the space of a film, most of these pics delve into dark sides and a character overcoming this or not without trying to explore or explain where these problems come from in the first place.  In fairness, this isn’t easy to compress into a biopic and it’s usually not done very well in your standard drama.

One way out of this dilemna is a the novel idea of having multiple parts playing one character.  This didn’t work very well in the recent Lennon musical but a more promising example of this may be Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There: Suppositions on a Film Concerning Dylan, which is rumored to have Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Colin Farrell, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Richard Gere and Julianne Moore among others playing the Minnesota bard.  Still in pre-production at the moment and slated for a possible 2006 release, it may not be as revealing as Scorsese’s recent Dylan film but may be more in the spirit of the subject if Haynes structures it right.

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