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by Jason Gross

20 Nov 2008

Did you ever feel like you’re being pulled around several different directions and can’t keep track of things?  Don’t feel too bad- if you’ve spent any time online, then you’re going through this same problem as millions of others.  We’re putting pieces of ourselves all over the web now and it’s getting confusing to keep up with it.

Other than this blog, I’ve been thinking about everywhere else that I’ve been leaving my mark online.  Along with my zine, I’ve also set up little outposts in a number of social networking spaces which include, but definitely ain’t limited to…

(NOTE: You might have to sign up for accounts at these services to see any of these pages)

- Ye Wei (aka my other blog where I talk about particular albums)

- Twitter, where I find myself ‘tweeting’ more and more often

- MySpace, where I set up a place for my zine

- Facebook, which was my previous fave until I got hooked on Twitter (more about that in another post)

- Going, which I find both interesting and confusing as a social space

- Last FM, which tracks what I’m listening to

- Linked In, where I’m supposed to make business contacts

- Goodreads, where I list my favorite books and find other bookworms

In addition, there’s a bunch of services that I haven’t had time to check out yet, including Bebo, Fark, Ponce, Plaxo and…

One problem is that I’m probably signed up at other places but I can’t remember them right now.  Another problem is that I can’t always remember to go back to all of those places above to update them or just to poke around to find friends or find some info.  It gets confusing after a while to keep track of all of this.  Don’t get me wrong- I do like visiting each of these sites when I can remember it.  But then comes another problem- when are you going to find time to visit all your social destinations?  And what are you going to do when new ones inevitably come up?  You’ll want to go to those places and have to let some of your old favorites languish- for me that’s been MySpace, where I still go to regularly but nowhere nearly as much as I used to.

Isn’t that the same for all of us online addicts?  We love to explore online but we can get tangled up in this stuff too.  I usually keep a set of bookmarks to help me remember these sites but it’s still time consuming and sometimes, I’ll go weeks without visiting some of them, not because I’m bored of them but just because I’m busy at the other sites.

What I also wonder about is what we say about ourselves on these sites and what it adds up to.  I don’t have the same exact info about myself, my tastes and my interests on all of the social sites (it would look bad if you did, right?) though some of them definitely overlap.  So you basically spend time constructing these versions of your life on these sites, highlighting some things that you’re proud of and usually skipping over the embarrassing stuff.  Even if you’re registered with dozens of site, it’s still an incomplete and selective version of who you are. 

Plus there’s your ‘friends’ at each of these places- some of them are definitely friends but you know… there’s others who just meet you there and might share some interests and maybe know you through someone else but they’re not someone you’d regularly hang out with otherwise or correspond with.  Also, whether we want to admit it or not, it becomes kind of a status symbol to say that you have lots of friends on these services- we collect them like we collect books or music or other objects that say who we are and what we’re about.

So we futilely try to balance all of these persona that we’ve created while we look for friends, interests and info.  What we’re like offline though, outside of these idealized versions of ourselves is another story…

by Christian John Wikane and Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

20 Nov 2008

Thirty-five years ago, the Pointer Sisters debuted with one of the most musically eclectic albums ever to grace the pop and R&B charts. From Allen Toussaint (“Yes We Can Can”) to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross (“Cloudburst”) to Willie Dixon (“Wang Dang Doodle”) to their own jazz-inflected compositions (“Jada”, “Sugar”), Ruth, Anita, Bonnie, and June Pointer effortlessly navigated a range of musical and vocal styles. The Pointer Sisters (1973) marked their first of five albums for Blue Thumb Records with producer David Rubinson before Bonnie Pointer ventured solo on Motown and the remaining trio teamed with Richard Perry for a string of memorable pop and R&B classics on Planet/RCA. Then and now, their versatility remains unparalleled.

PopMatters recently sat down with Ruth Pointer at her home in Massachusetts to discuss the incredible legacy of the Pointer Sisters. She also gave us a peek into her “trophy” room! Look for the complete interview in early 2009!

by Rob Horning

20 Nov 2008

Via Barry Ritholtz comes this transcript of the keynote speech by Ian Rogers, who runs Topspin, an online music distributor, at the Northwest MusicTech Summit. He cites some interesting data with regard to the future of music: Media companies are making less money from music sales, but music consumers are as eager as ever to consume music.

Rogers argues that power in the music business has shifted to artists: “when I talk to managers and artists they feel it, they feel an ability to take their careers into their own hands, to redefine what success means for them, and that is the emergence of the new music business.” The redefinition of success seems to me the pivotal idea—the idea that success is less a matter of money than what it is to most working artists, to be able to make a living through their art and not have to treat it as a passionate hobby. The trouble begins when ambitions begin to exceed that horizon—art is denatured and brokers seize control. Right now, technology is disintermediating the brokers (from the A&R people down to the record-store clerks), which has given musicians across the board a chance to recalibrate their ambitions on a sustainable scale, rather than going into it for the stardom and the cash.

That’s not to say the essence of Rogers argument is an appeal to making art for art’s sake. His point is the new music industry promises to remunerate artists more directly, since there is next to no overhead with regard to production and distribution costs. “When your costs are low, your royalty rate high, and your channel direct, the marginal profitability from the artist’s perspective can be far different than in the old model, to be sure.” Key to the marketing plan Rogers outlines, though, is something I instinctively cringe at—price discrimination, or letting people decide what they will pay in return for the same product.

fundamentally I believe the model is shifting from mass-marketed (via radio and TV) and one-size-fits-all (one $15 CD suits fans of all levels of commitment) to a target-marketed approach where fans can self-select where they fit on the scale (when Trent [Reznor] offered Ghosts at five price points he was really asking, “How big a fan are you?”).

I don’t why this bothers me so much, since this is the essence of what’s probably the oldest form of commercial interaction, bartering. The idea that a fair price for a product is established and applied uniformly is a relatively new phenomenon, a response to the massive problems of information asymmetry that larger-scale production brings on. Still, the idea that someone else can get the same thing for cheaper fires my competitive spirit. It makes me feel like a chump. In other words, I won’t be on of the superfans volunteering to pay musicians as much as possible for their music so that I can prove my fidelity or earn their gratitude or whatever the rationale is. When I read about volunteer spenders, I end up thinking that those people are under the sway of some kind of irrational personality cult with regard to the artists they are supporting. Am I really supposed to believe that Trent Reznor gives a single shit about how big of a fan I might be? (Not a fan at all, for the record.) I suppose the idea is that you can prove to other fans that you are more in love with the leader by spending more, but that seems almost worse than the pre-digital star system in which we were told which mass artists were acceptable by A&R people, and at least had to be creative or much more dedicated if we wanted to manifest our superfandom. So when Rogers claims that consumers are “more satisfied” in today’s music market, I have to assume he means that we can let our money testify to our devotion—as opposed to the fact that anyone can get anything they want for free. But since I play music myself (in a total amateur way) I always want trends in the music business to lead away from creating more fans and toward creating more garage bands. I can’t tell if the game Rock Band is the beginning or the end of that dream.

by PopMatters Staff

20 Nov 2008

Check out the PopMatters tribute to the 40th anniversary of the White Album. Side Three songs highlighted below posted today.

Side Three


Paul McCartney
Birthday [Video]

 

Dirty Mac (John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Mitch Mitchell)
Yer Blues [Video]

 

The Beatles Ensemble
Mother Nature’s Son [Video]

 

Anne Ducros
Sexy Sadie [Video]

 

U2
Helter Skelter [Video]

 

Paul McCartney
Helter Skelter [Video]

 

George Harrison
Long, Long, Long [Video]

by PopMatters Staff

20 Nov 2008

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Red, the movie based on the book by Jack Ketchum.

2. The fictional character most like you?
Carrie Bradshaw (from Sex and the City).

3. The greatest album, ever?
Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars

5. Your ideal brain food?
Chicken and hummus.

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