AC/DC sign with Wal-Mart?

Rolling Stone reports that AC/DC will be following the path of several other artists by selling their new album exclusively through Wal-Mart this fall. By foregoing a deal with a record label, and instead going directly through a retailer, AC/DC and others are able to sell their albums to customers for $15, about $5 less than the price of most newly released albums.

I won’t be shedding any tears for the neglected record labels. I actually like the idea of this. I just hope Wal-Mart won’t be the only retailer to take this direct-to-shelves approach to cd sales. I don’t really like the idea of being forced to give a corporation like Wal-Mart my money in order to get access to music I want. But in truth, I think a good number of the artists I like would never get in bed with Wal-Mart, making it impossible for me to ever benefit from these lower prices, anyway… On the whole, the idea that one retailer will have exclusive rights to sell a product doesn’t really bother me, if it means lower prices. As it is, with cd prices so high, I already feel like I’m cornered into buying mp3s through iTunes, and not everyone has an mp3 player or a computer. Deals like this might mean people who couldn’t get access to the music otherwise can now afford it.

The Glow in the Dark Tour: Kanye, Rihanna, N.E.R.D., Lupe Fiasco

Last night my brothers invited me to join them at the Glow in the Dark Tour in Salt Lake City. In truth, I’ve never been a major Kanye West fan, but the rest of the lineup sounded awesome, so I tagged along.

Though the doors opened an hour and a half late and the set changes were painfully long, every artist offered something awesome. I think the highlight was the band N.E.R.D., made up of Pharrell, Chad Hugo, and Shay Haley. They were seriously on their A game and everything from the beats to the lyrics to the drum solos were totally impressive. I’d post video of N.E.R.D. to make you familiar with who they are, but the recordings just don’t capture how cool they were live… Their new album, Seeing Sounds, came out today, so I’ll be buying and listening shortly.

Rihanna is definitely one of those artists who was born for the stage. She knows how to work the crowd and how to keep the energy up during a performance. And of course, her voice is beautiful.

This is my favorite song of hers:

Kanye’s an energetic performer, but I honestly couldn’t get over the incredibly cheesy and over-the-top “Kanye in space” theme of his set, which also made for clumsy transitions between songs — a real buzz kill at a show. I would’ve much preferred if he forgot about the ridiculous theatrics and accompanying set and charged us $20 or $30 less. So unnecessary. Still, his rhymes are hot and his performance of “Hey Mama” really moved me…

The Nation interviews Billy Bragg

Punk legend Billy Bragg spoke with Christine Smallwood at The Nation shortly after he published this op-ed in the NYT about social networking sites profiting off of artists’ music without paying the artists any royalties.

In the NYT piece Bragg actually answers the question I posed in my Prince-Radiohead post about why an artist or label would have something against Web 2.0 sites providing a platform for users to watch and discuss an artist:

The claim that sites such as MySpace and Bebo are doing us a favor by promoting our work is disingenuous. Radio stations also promote our work, but they pay us a royalty that recognizes our contribution to their business. Why should that not apply to the Internet, too?

A good point from an awesome man. Here’s one of the highlights from his interview with The Nation:

Christ knows there’s more competition now than there ever was for people to love music. By constantly wagging a finger at them, telling them they’re doing something illegal–well, since the 1980s more has become illegal. Back in the old days of vinyl the British music industry used to print on the inner bag of albums a logo, a cassette with crossbones underneath it, that said, Home Taping Is Killing Music. How ridiculous is that? Capitalism is killing music, and I went so far as to print that on the cover of Workers Playtime (1988). The industry has long tried to blame the consumer for its own shortcomings. My concern is that a new generation will come along who won’t be able to do what I do, which is make a decent living doing what they love doing. If we don’t protect individuality and the possibility of individuality, all the music will originate in the corporations. We’ll get Hannah Montana forever. A band like Radiohead or Björk or Sigur Rós will never get out there. That’s ultimately what’s at stake, the music to come. It behooves us older artists to make that point and make a stand. We have a voice and a platform.

And here’s my favorite Billy Bragg song ever.

Prince covers Radiohead at Coachella

“Radiohead to Prince: Hey that’s OUR song,” via CNN.

Prince covered Radiohead’s Creep at Coachella, then his label blocked all fan videos of the rendition on youtube, claiming copyright violations. CNN dismisses these claims first because the videos are fan videos, and second, because the song actually belongs to Radiohead. While I have nothing to add from a legal standpoint, I do have to say it’s confusing to me that a label would think it’s in their best interest to remove user-produced content which features their artist from the internet. Isn’t it like free promotion? Really, I can’t understand the business logic here…Unless they plan to release the performance on DVD and they want to protect their market, it makes no sense to me that this could be a problem. It actually sounds like a good thing that people want to watch and talk about the artist whose records they hope to sell…

And since Prince’s version of Creep is nowhere to be found on the internetz, here’s Radiohead’s, just for those who haven’t been playing Rockband lately and need a reminder 😉