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  • Morrissey vs Crowdfunding

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    Morrissey is an old man, shaking his cane, and yelling GET OFF MY LAWN. I mean, that’s like his dinner after all. OK, ok, the dinner part was an undeserved jab. I respect his dietary choices, though he doesn’t respect the rights of others to do the same, but that’s an entirely different story altogether. Morrissey recently said something downright ignorant and hurtful to independent musicians. Coming against all the musicians one finds on Kickstarter and gofundme, Morrissey stated: Crowdfunding Is Desperate and Insulting. This simply is not true!

    go vegeFirstly, music is a dream of many a people. Music is a very fickle business to get into, but if that’s your dream, then you should use all tools at your disposal to make this happen. Chase your dreams! Morrissey has been in the business for a long time, and has reached a point in his career where he can release a symphony of white noise and it would still sell a zillion copies because he’s freaking Morrissey. Good for him, but not all musicians have reached that point. Sure, I can see that someone of his caliber and popularity might feel a little desperate if they have to resort to crowdfunding to publish their music, but again – not everyone is Morrissey. Not everyone has the privilege and luxuries afforded by Morrissey.

    But the issue goes deeper than simple privileges afforded by big name musicians. Crowdfunding provides the musicians with the ability to not have to deal with a record company. The day of releasing an album through a big label, and then having it distributed to all the record stores is over. Artists no longer need that, and that’s a good thing. Record companies are notorious for taking more than their fair share of revenues. When all is said and done, the average musician (including Morrissey himself mind you) has to tour to make any money at all. Record companies provide a lot of perks – expensive studios, advertising, distribution, and the like. They also have a lot of staff that needs to be paid, overhead, stockholders, etcetera. If a band can sidestep the middle man, and just rent a studio themselves and distribute their music online, that’s a bigger cut for the musicians. That means they might not need to spend 200 nights a year on the road, just to feed their families.

    Stepping away from the monetary hassle, there’s also a certain amount of freedom a musician gets when they’re not tied to a record company. It’s common for musicians to have to sign a contract saying they must make X amount of records. This has led to things like Andrew Eldritch’s SSV-NSMABAAOTWMODAACOTIATW. Sometimes bands just peter out before their contract lets them. You get bitter feuds in bands, you get crappy albums, and you get unlistenable music that doesn’t sell well. It’s a stable gig, sure, but it also sucks when one wants out of that gig. Crowdfunding means record labels don’t have that power over a musician. It also means the artist has the freedom to write whatever they feel inspired to write. They’re not pressured by their label to keep it clean, keep it radio friendly, or even to keep it in a certain style. Crowdfunding throws the shackles into the recycling bin where every other piece of scrap metal belongs!

    There’s another aspect that Morrissey doesn’t get, and that’s how crowdfunding creates a bridge between the musicians and the fans. As much as I wish I could be the former, I’m the latter. I’m a fan of the music. As a fan, the most hurtful thing Morrissey said was “What next? Do you want us to brush your teeth?” This statement makes me want to kick Morrissey in his nether regions and delete all the songs out of my library. He does not get that crowdfunding makes those of us who feel so connected to the music even more so connected! We can actually be a part of the process of making sure our favorite artists can publish their music. No, we didn’t write it, and no, we don’t own their music. But it fills us with joy to help. A band I’ve loved for a long time, Flemming and John, are making music RIGHT NOW because of crowdfunding…and I helped! My 43 bucks is getting me a copy on vinyl, but more importantly it’s helping put out the first Flemming and John album since 1999. No amount of swag can match that feeling – the feeling that I’m part of the album. morrgetofflawn

    Finally, crowdfunding allows fans to show our gratitude to the artists. I remember walking around downtown several years back, listening to Over the Rhine’s Ohio album. I loved it. It was part of who I was. I wanted to do more for OTR. I knew buying the album and going to their shows was good enough, but I felt like I wanted to do more. They were sharing their soul with me (and the rest of the world). This in turn fed my soul. How is 15 bucks for an album and 25 or so for a concert even beginning to repay that debt? Sure, a few bucks more in a kickstarter isn’t repaying that debt either – but it helps. Again, it gets the music out there. It helps them fulfill their dreams. That’s at least a start.

    Crowdfunding really isn’t a new concept. There was an album Willie Nelson put out in the 80s or 90 to pay off his tax burdens. He fully disclosed that he was in trouble and he needed the help of the public. A fifteen dollar CD would make sure that Willie didn’t go to the slammer after messing up on his taxes. Maybe Morrissey is just too far removed to realize the benefits of crowdfunding. Maybe he’s just an old dog who can’t learn a new trick. Maybe he’s just a jerk, and that’s why he and Johnny Marr will never get the Smiths back together. Maybe I’m being unfair with that last part. If I am, burn me at the stake, just make sure I smell the flames as they rise and my Walkman starts to melt. Now I know how Joan of Arc felt!

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  • Top 5 soundtracks of the ohs!

    I was not going to do this list, but its pretty much writing itself in my head anyways. Besides, there were so many great soundtracks this decade, I almost HAD to write this list. So without further Adieu, I give you the top five soundtracks of the ohs!

    5. Team America: World Police (Film – 2004) : OK. This film is rude, crude, and at the very least, NSFW. But it is also funny as heck. And the soundtrack was done so well! Who could forget classics like “Freedom isn’t Free” and “Montage?” Not to mention the anthem of patriotism that is the song, “America! —- Yeah!” But as funny as the soundtrack is, what made this soundtrack great was the fact that when it (and the movie) was made, we were (and are still) in the midst of a war that doesn’t seem to have an end. It was a time of extreme patriotism at the expense of those of us who dared question why. Team America: World Police dared lampoon these political zealots, as well as those who stood blindly to oppose them (ie the Film Actor’s Guild). This soundtrack and movie was an expression in free speech. I dare say the creators have indeed, with the making of this great piece of art, put in their buck oh five (cause freedom costs a buck oh five).

    4. Spamalot (Stage – 2004): As I type this, I have the song “Run away!” going through my head. Spamalot was based on the classic movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I dare say, the producers found the one thing missing from the film: MUSIC!  “The Song that Goes Like This” lampoons the cheesy hit song that is inevitably in every serious Broadway production. “Find Your Grail,” while comedic in nature, has a good point – one should indeed search for their “Grail.” And who could forget (ahem – sings in my best voice),  all for one, two for all, four for some, and three for all. So bring out your dead and always look on the bright side of life! Even if you’re not yet dead – or wed.

    3. Avenue Q (Stage – 2003): One of these days I might actually get to see this show live (as opposed to the crappy video floating around on youtube), but for now, I have this marvelous soundtrack. And what a soundtrack! I’ve often asked myself  “What Do you do with a BA in English?” I’ve often wished I could go back to college, and I find myself singing “It Sucks to be Me” on a regular basis.  I’m pretty impressed the writers of Avenue Q throw political correctness out the window with “Every One’s a Little Bit Racist.” And “Schadenfreude?” Well, that just makes me laugh.  The Avenue Q soundtrack is not safe for work by any means, but I find myself playing it at work on a regular basis anyways.  Avenue Q may not be the best for those who are offended easily, but it has more than its fair share of valid points.  One has to wonder what the Avenue Q soundtrack would have been like if it had been a television series – somehow I don’t think it would be the same.

    2. Dr Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog (Internet / DVD – 2008): If you haven’t seen this yet, go to Hulu right now and watch it. OK? Watch it? Good. Wasn’t that amazing? And what about the music? A high point on the album (and the video itself), is the song “A Man’s gotta do,” which outlines a pivotal scene in song. The scatting in the second chorus between Penny, Dr Horrible, and Captain Hammer is probably my favorite part of the entire video (the remote control is in my hands! Balls!).  That’s what makes this soundtrack so great – the music is not there for the music’s sake – the music is part of the plot. If you took the music out of the production, there would be no storyline.  If this is what happens when writer’s go on strike, maybe writers should go on strike more often!

    1.  A Mighty Wind (Film – 2003): The soundtrack for “A Mighty Wind” did something different than any other soundtrack mentioned on this list: A Mighty Wind’s soundtrack included songs not in the movie. One notable instance is the Folksmen covering “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones.  They take a traditional sex, drugs, and rock and roll song, and make it a folk song. Quite intriguing actually. And while the soundtrack features other instances of songs not mentioned in the movie, one can also judge between the “toothpaste commercial” New Main Street Singers version of “Never Did No Wandering,” or the Folksmen version which is musically truer to the lyrics. On a side note, if you have not seen this film, you should! The soundtrack is the best of the Ohs, but the movie itself is the best mocumentary of the ohs. I could think of far worst things to do with an hour and a half.

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