Recently I received a mass-emailing from CD-Baby. I am on their mailing list because we tried getting our music onto iTunes through them last year, an effort I quickly abandoned. We then went with AWAL instead.

The email mentioned that the head of CD Baby suggested this:

Aha! It’s cover songs! The artists who have a cover song on their
album are selling the best, all-around. Of course! Most of these programs have a SONG-BASED SEARCH, so people go to iTunes or Rhapsody or Napster and search for their favorite SONG – and in the search results, they probably see their favorite artist on top, but then they see a few below it that they’ve never seen before!

He continues:

So now, I’m advising musicians to do a creative cover song on their next album. Find something that hasn’t been done TOO much. (Example: CD Baby has 762 versions of “Amazing Grace”. Really!) Find something that you can add your unique twist to. Then make sure to include it on a full-length album, so that people who discover you by that song can get turned on to your own music, and buy the whole collection.

Hm, that all maybe true. But, it is also true that through these searches one can easily find songs that have been covered, where the artist/publisher/label are not paying the composer to use the covered composition. Anybody can cover a song, but royalties have to be paid to the composer. These royalties are fixed and are the same for every composition. I have always contacted the publisher of a composition I wanted to cover as a courtesy, to let them know that there is another version out there and so they can track the sales if they like. I think to sell a cover-version of a song and to hope that no-one will notice is pretty low. It can happen out of ignorance, but I think a lot of guys also simply hope that they can get away with it.

I think a cover song can be a great tribute and I have recorded a few of them, but to suggest that one should record them simply to be found in a song-based search seems like used-car-salesmen tactics to me.

Last Week

This is my last week home before the tour. Home always looks especially sweet during that last week. The first week on tour, and the first week back home after the tour are the hardest. The weeks in between are fine, because one gets into the rhythm of touring.

Then there is always the question, how will the new line-up sound? We will play as a quartet for the first time at rehearsals next week. Fine musicians to be sure, but how will they gel together? Sometimes you can have great musicians, that just don’t fit together very well, or you can have musicians who are less impressive on their own, but sheer magic when in the group. I guess we will find out soon. I am very optimistic. This could be a magical quartet.

Water Bottles

Are you looking for alternatives to plastic water bottles after reading some of the albeit conflicting reports regarding Lexan bottles? I looked around a little and found these alternatives yesterday:
Klean Kanteen, a stainless steel bottle in 27 oz and 40 oz sizes.
Brunton Beverage Flasks, made from aluminum that has been covered with food-grade epoxy on the inside. Sizes range from 0.4L to 1.0L.

Swazi king marries 11th wife

Africa’s last absolute monarch has been criticised for having so many wives in a country with one of the world’s highest rates of HIV infection.

He owns a fleet of luxury cars, including a $500,000 Maybach, and has spent millions of dollars refurbishing palaces for his wives. The 37-year-old’s lavish lifestyle is at odds with the living conditions of his people, most of whom live in poverty. The unemployment rate stands at 40% while nearly 70% of the country’s one million inhabitants live on less than $1 a day and nearly 40% of adults are HIV positive.

Noliqwa Ntentesa, who was forced to give up high school when she was picked three years ago, was smeared in traditional red ochre and married in a secret wedding service held last week at a royal palace.
From the BBC

Joyride Almost Over?

Could the petroleum joyride — cheap, abundant oil that has sent the global economy whizzing along with the pedal to the metal and the AC blasting for decades – be coming to an end? Some observers of the oil industry think so. They predict that this year, maybe next – almost certainly by the end of the decade – the world’s oil production, having grown exuberantly for more than a century, will peak and begin to decline.

And then it really will be all downhill. The price of oil will increase drastically. Major oil-consuming countries will experience crippling inflation, unemployment and economic instability. Princeton University geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes predicts a permanent state of oil shortage.
From Wired News

Why should any large group of people act smarter than an individual? As individuals we usually do not seek to change or find help with our problems until it is really really important, and there is no other option. We as individuals are like that, so why would groups, i.e. society, act any different? We’ll go to the brink and hopefully we will find a solution. It sure would be nice, if we don’t get too close to that brink, methinks.The sooner we start taking this serious, the less extreme the measures will have to be.

More reading: Rolling Stone article The Long Emergency:

Carl Jung, one of the fathers of psychology, famously remarked that “people cannot stand too much reality.” What you’re about to read may challenge your assumptions about the kind of world we live in, and especially the kind of world into which events are propelling us. We are in for a rough ride through uncharted territory.

Also note the documentary The End of Suburbia

Since World War II North Americans have invested much of their newfound wealth in suburbia. It has promised a sense of space, affordability, family life and upward mobility. As the population of suburban sprawl has exploded in the past 50 years, so too has the suburban way of life become embedded in the American consciousness.

Suburbia, and all it promises, has become the American Dream.

But as we enter the 21st century, serious questions are beginning to emerge about the sustainability of this way of life. With brutal honesty and a touch of irony, The End of Suburbia explores the American Way of Life and its prospects as the planet approaches a critical era, as global demand for fossil fuels begins to outstrip supply. World Oil Peak and the inevitable decline of fossil fuels are upon us now, some scientists and policy makers argue in this documentary.

Thanks Wendy.

Let’s face it, Suburbia wasn’t that great of an idea. A dead-end street, if you will. I have heard of old folks moving back into the city from the suburbs, because in the city they can walk to get groceries, they can take a cab to the opera or theater. They can take care of themselves and enjoy their life, while living in suburbia they depended on a car, and even going to buy milk means getting in your car…