Is the Music Industry Better or Worse than It Was 30 Years Ago?

484182085LM00050_John_VarvaSeveral big-named artists have been in the headlines recently proclaiming that rock is dead. Most notably, of course, was Gene Simmons in his interview with Esquire back in September. Simmons was quick to point out that rock didn’t die of old age, “It was murdered,” blaming for the most part, file-sharing.

In response to this and other statements about the utter despair of the music industry, recording engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies) recently delivered the keynote address at Melbourne’s Face the Music Conference and his main opinion was that the music industry is doing great, saying to even be thankful you weren’t in a band twenty years ago. He does have some interesting viewpoints, and being as seasoned as he is in the industry, one can’t help but reluctantly nod in agreement.

From all quarters we hear that, this is the platitude: “We need to figure out how to make internet distribution work for everyone.”…..

I disagree with this rather inoffensive platitude. It’s innocuous and vapid and fills the air after someone asks the question, “How is the music scene these days?” And it maintains hope that the current state of affairs as mentioned, presumed to be tragic, can be changed for the better. For “everyone”. That word everyone is important to the people using the sentence. In their mind the physical distribution model worked for everyone. But the new one does not. Not yet, not yet. Not until we “figure it out”…..

I disagree that the old way is better. And I do not believe this sentence to be true: “We need to figure out how to make this digital distribution work for everyone.” I disagree with it because within its mundane language are tacit assumptions: the framework of an exploitative system that I have been at odds with my whole creative life. Inside that trite sentence, “We need to figure out how to make this work for everyone,” hides the skeleton of a monster.

Count Eldridge is currently directing a documentary called Unsound about how musicians and creators survive in the age of free. Given his research on the topic, Count decided to write a rebuttal to Albini’s statements, and he has quite a solid argument.

Instead of perpetuating the myth that artists make money touring, those in the music industry who know better should be focussing hard to make the delivery and monetization of recorded music better for artists by making it more efficient. This means less middlemen (or no middlemen) taking a smaller cut, rather than allowing a few giant corporations and rogue pirates to profit enormously from our work.

Read the full articles and then decide for yourself. But more importantly than your position…what are you going to do about it?

Best B-Bender Guitar Songs

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Guitar Center interview with Brad Paisley and how he incorporates the use of a string bender in his guitar playing style. This cool contraption allows guitarists to create a unique array of bending sounds. Adding to the subject, Guitar World has also compiled a list of 10 Essential B-Bender Guitar Songs. Written by their online managing editor Damian Fanelli, he explores in-depth, the use of the b-bender from artists such The Byrds and Led Zeppelin. Go check it out!

The Best Guitar Related Pumpkin Carvings

Why do a traditional Jack-O-Lantern when you can carve Jimi Hendrix or a Gibson headstock right into a giant gourd? We scoured the internet to find the best pumpkin carvings featuring guitarists and guitars. Some people have used stencils and expensive kits and others just free wheeled using their own artistic abilities. Hopefully next year I’ll start carving a Les Paul pumpkin early in October instead of thinking of it the night before.

Eddie Van Halen (via Van Halen News Desk)

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Jimi Hendrix (from Youtube)

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Stevie Ray Vaughan (via The Blue Bisquit)

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Fender Logo (Flickr user mcmrbt

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Gibson Guitars (source)

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Randy Rhoads (photo: Norbini on Flickr Pattern: Stoney Kins

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Cool Guitar Jewelry that Gives Back

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My wife came home the other day wearing a necklace made from a guitar string (actually a bass string to be exact) and it really caught my eye.

Love Noose
Love Noose

Since this pendant was made from recycled strings, and since I have a lot of strings, I thought I could try my own hand at custom made guitar inspired accoutrements.  Let me reveal for the first time my new line of products…wait for it…Peter’s Purposeless Guitar Inspired Jewelry, or PPGIJ.  Whichever you prefer. I call this first piece Love Noose. Please keep in mind I didn’t have a professional photographer available so a white towel and my Canon Power Shot went to work.

Rabbit Trap
The Rabbit Trap

My second piece I call The Rabbit Trap.  The inspiration was this little…well let me stop there and say my childhood is riddled with horror stories.

When presenting these artifacts to my wife, who has always supported my creative endeavors, she told me wearing any of these would be the equivalent to running with scissors or playing with BB guns.  Artists are so misunderstood…

Let’s get back to our original creation. The designer is Abbie Chesney, founder of Eye on the Sparrow Designs, and she creates handmade jewelry from recycled strings. “Wearing one of her designs means you can hold on to a piece of a musician and carry it with you“.  Talking with Abbie, I found the story behind these pieces  intriguing and it was also part of my wife’s attraction to their jewelry.  It’s truly jewelry that has a heart and gives back.

The impulse to start this company came when the artist Carter Albrecht was tragically killed half way through a recording project.  Carter was best known for his work with Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians and was famously  supportive of  local musicians.  Looking for a way to continue in this tradition, the Carter Albrecht Music Foundation was formed and Eye on the Sparrow  has donated in a large way to their cause.  Besides buying a creative piece of  jewelry,  purchasing an  Eye on the Sparrow Designs means a donation is made to a charity.  Eye On the Sparrow has donated proceeds to music kickstarter campaigns helping fund musicians that might not otherwise have a chance, and more recently has donated to causes like Cystic Fibrosis and Brain Tumors.

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It’s pretty hard not to like this stuff.  They have a great look and are so entirely original. If I didn’t have my own competing line (PPGIJ) I would buy from them for those reasons alone, so knowing that these folks are dedicated to giving back is an amazing bonus.  If you are liking these for yourself or your significant other and don’t for whatever reason want to wear something called The Rabbit Trap, look these folks up online.  You can find them on Facebook and  Etsy and they also have a website called shareyourstrings.com. where you can find more information. My wife found them on Etsy where there are many more pieces for men and women and all of them are undoubtedly  safer than mine.

So what do you think of guitar related jewelry?  Do you own any already?  I wonder how many people are attracted to jewelry like this that don’t actually play an instrument.  Don’t forget to Like and Share this blog …we want to share ideas like this with as many people as possible and maybe help raise money for some good causes.  Now I’ve got to get back to designing my third piece which has just come to me.  It’s called “Pull On My Gas Generating Mechanism”.

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