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These appallingly low musician royalty checks are both amusing and depressing

Being a musician and trying to get paid can be a terrible chore. You can fill a club with drinkers and they’ll still stiff you at the end of the night. Your work—and your draw—will constantly be requested free of charge, as though the magic word “exposure” paid for rehearsal studio rental and gas in the van. Even deep-pocketed concerns will hose you. A band I was in in the ‘90s had a song that managed to grow some stubby little legs thanks to a compilation appearance, and a few years after the fact, a popular cable channel wanted to use it in an animated TV show. Thrilled, I filled out a small mountain of paperwork in 2003, and I’ve still not seen a check. The same song got used by a major clothing company, but not a cent found its way to my pocket for that, either. I have a good idea which of my former bandmates gave away that song for a song, but I’ve left it alone—I was livid about it at the time, but it’s long enough in the past now that there’s no sense in getting worked up about it anymore. I still play in a group that constantly records new original material and tours as often as it can, but if I was in this for money, I’d have been done after that fiasco.

But don’t think for a moment that this sort of heinous chicanery befalls only the obscure strivers who for obvious reasons are more vulnerable to it. Important and influential artists that you’ve heard of and enjoyed get the screws put to them all the time. The way radio royalties work against smaller artists is especially vile, but as radio diminishes in importance and new models emerge, innovative new ways to rob artists emerge alongside them. Right now, Pandora, ASCAP and BMI are in court arguing about exactly how songwriters will get hosed in the future. There are so many things to read online on the subject of how musicians do or don’t get paid it’s practically becoming a genre complete with its own classics, but just as a picture speaks a thousand words, money in the bank speaks more loudly still, and a recent piece in Aux that might startle you offered some pictures of musicians’ money in the bank.

How little does the music industry pay artists? Shockingly little. Spotify, the dominant streaming music source in the U.S., is leaking money. They reportedly dole out 70 per cent of their revenue to royalties, and while that number seems high, consider this: each song stream pays an artist between one-sixth and one-eight of a cent. One source claimed that, on streaming music services, an artist requires nearly 50,000 plays to receive the revenue earned from one album sale. Ouch.


This check was cut to the influential and respected post-metal band Isis by a company called Music Reports. No specific accounting was offered.

Lambgoat speculated that this check, also from Music Reports, may have been cut for one month’s worth of streaming royalties for the long running Washington D.C. death metal band Darkest Hour.

In the ‘80s, Camper Van Beethoven were a HUGE deal in the independent/college music scene. They split into Cracker and Monks of Doom in the ‘90s, with the former becoming very popular indeed. For over a million Pandora plays of one of their hugest hits, “Low,” Cracker got a little under $17.

OK, anyone wanting to could quibble as to the significance or popularity of Isis, Darkest Hour, or even Cracker, and by all means, that’s what the comments section is there for. But this is Janis Ian. Grammy winning, massively influential folk artist Janis Ian. “Society’s Child,” Between the Lines Janis Ian, hauling down some fat Darkest Hour cash, here.

More hiliarously depressing examples at

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Meat tent: Because art is disgusting
10:58 am


Andrea Hasler

meat tent
Admittedly, my art knowledge is neither vast nor sophisticated, but I do know I love me some Cronenberg-style body horror. And I’ll be damned if the folks at Animal haven’t found a new sculpture to give me the shudders! The piece, titled Matriarch, actually references a 1981 anti-nuclear protest, the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, where 30,000 women camped out at a British air force base. It was probably the largest sustained women’s protest ever organized.

As for the aesthetics, artist Andrea Hasler says it “[takes] the notion of the tents which were on site during the women’s peace camp as the container for emotions and [humanizes] these elements to create emotional surfaces.” Look, I know I’m a total rube, but I’m still just staring at the grody flesh shelter. It’s clearly very historical and political, but it’s difficult for me to interpret something this visceral with anything but teeth-grinding and cringing right now. I’m not sure I can quite process a meat tent intellectually just yet, but it’s cool as hell and I can’t stop staring, no matter how bad my nightmares are gonna be.

In the video below, Andrea Hasler gives some insight into the creation of Matriarch, as well as other, similarly jarring pieces.

Via Animal

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
A capella heavy metal will incinerate the tyranny of talent and set the world free to rock
10:20 am

Stupid or Evil?

Jud Jud

Despite the brave and noble efforts of the iconoclastic naifs espousing punk’s anyone-can-play ethos, almost all music still remains captive ‘neath the omnipowerful thumb of the instrumentally and compositionally adequate. But this hegemonic stranglehold of the modicum-of-talent nazis does not go unchallenged. In the underbelly of heavy metal—a genre whose tradition for shredding solos unfairly excludes the totally giftless from giving life to their creative visions unless they play bass—a visionary movement is emerging that defies the ironfisted rule of able craft by doing away with instruments.

First, there were the onomatopoetic godfathers Jud Jud. Formed by members of Assück and Murder-Suicide Pact, their instruments were their voices, “Left Jud” and “Right Jud.” Accordingly, you’ll want to bust out the headphones for this (and maybe a little ganj, bruh), as there are MINDBLOWING STEREO TRICKS. Just because you’re not playing anything doesn’t mean you can’t like totally explore the studio as an instrument, man.

Jud Jud—”Fast Song”

Jud Jud—”Wah Wah Song”
There’s a pigpile of free Jud Jud MP3s at WFMU’s blog. Go getcha some.

The next artist to come along and smash the tyranny of capability was the Japanese master Dokaka. Though not strictly a metal artist, his completely awesome re-interpretations of metal classics utterly shame the instrumentally apt original artists with the steely-eyed determination of the outsider with something to prove.

Dokaka—”Angel of Death” (Slayer)

Dokaka—”The Trooper” (Iron Maiden)

But lo, on the horizon, an upstart! Jud Jud and Dokaka have taken aim at the cruelly despotic autocracy of having what it takes by substituting scat vocals for instrumental beds, and they’ve even spawned some pale imitations, but via Music For Maniacs, we learn of the brutal emergence of Blue Tapes’ recording artists EyeSea, who eschew even that:

EyeSea’s “blue ten” is an entire album of Cookie Monster vocals going ‘rowr rowr rowr’, screams, and silences. And they don’t cheat by sneaking in other sounds - there really are no other instruments.  Are they even “singing” in English, or is this a guy clearing his throat for 22 minutes?



Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
IKEA’s Expedit line is biting the dust, and vinyl nuts aren’t happy about it
09:32 am



IKEA recently announced that they are discontinuing their Expedit line of bookshelves—at least in Germany—and the news has sparked an intense reaction among German vinyl enthusiasts. For a generation now, Expedit has been the shelf of choice for record collectors, who don’t care to imagine life without the line. It seems to be the case that IKEA product lines are not specific to countries—if that’s true, then that probably means that IKEAs in America will also cease carrying the Expedit line soon, too.
Since mid-January there has been a Facebook group dedicated to saving the Expedit. “Rettet das Ikea Expedit Regal” (Save the IKEA Expedit bookshelf) has already amassed 5,820 “likes” in just over a month. Record collectors united!
“Last chance! We’re always making room for new things. The EXPEDIT series is exiting the product line. Take advantage while it’s still here!”
The Kallax line has been announced as the replacement for Expedit. It is a close match to Expedit and will certainly do a fine job holding your LPs. However, if you already have Expedits in your home and need your next shelf to match, you’d better stock up now. The user “soundscope” on the message forum pointed out that the sides are not nearly as thick. Even worse, a Facebook user on the “Rettet das Ikea Expedit Regal” suggested that Kallax has no 5x5 version, which Expedit does offer.
All things are temporary in this life, including mass-produced bookshelf lines. As the Sufi poets of medieval Persia once said, “This too shall pass.” But those guys didn’t collect vinyl.

Here’s a useful guide to the Expedit line for record collectors:

via Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Full House’ eerily re-imagined without the Olsen Twins
07:55 am


Full House
Olsen Twins

Here’s the cornball 80s TV show Full House re-imagined without “Michelle Tanner.” Michelle was played by twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

WHY someone would spend their time making this… I don’t know. But I felt compelled to share this with you anyway.

From the YouTube description:

Did Danny Tanner deal with the grief of losing his pregnant wife in a fatal car crash by creating an imaginary daughter named “Michelle”?

I never really watched Full House when it was on in the 80s and 90s except for a few episodes here and there. Even if you aren’t a fan of the show, it’s still kind of funny and perhaps slightly eerie.

And before you say it in the comments, yes, yes, I know, it’s like Garfield Minus Garfield.

Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Edward Snowden action figure

An Edward Snowden action for only $99.00 + shipping by That’s My Face.

I dunno, I still like the “My Talking Henry Rollins” doll better.

This package includes Edward Snowden’s custom action figure head mounted on a 12-inch action figure body with a several choices of outfit styles. By selecting Head only in the Outfit selection box above, you can also buy Edward Snowden’s head for $60 only and fit it onto your own 12-inch figurines.

Below, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden action figures just hangin’ out:

Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Folk Hero: Gordon Lightfoot live ‘In Concert,’ 1971
02:14 pm


Gordon Lightfoot

Although the man is considered to be an absolute legend/national treasure in his native Canada, singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot is best known elsewhere for a string of hit records he had in the 1970s, some of which (“Sundown,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” among others) are still played on “classic rock” radio stations to this day. His double platinum Gord’s Gold greatest hits collection is one of those albums that everyone’s parents seemed to have back in the ‘70s. It’s one of the strongest anthologies by anyone, ever, in the history of popular music, or so sez I. Seriously, it’s like those red and blue Beatles comps or Endless Summer, not a bad track to be found on it. Whenever I pull that album out, I know, for sure, that it’s going to be in the “speed rack” next to the stereo for a long time to come.

When I was a kid, still a pre-teen, I went to a Gordon Lightfoot concert. I can still recall being very impressed by the beautiful chiming of the acoustic guitars and the almost telepathic communication he had with his backing musicians. I’ve read in interviews that some of his band members have been with him for more than four decades. You can’t fake that.

In the video below, a performance shot for the BBC’s In Concert series in 1971 (but aired in 1972), you can see the man in his prime with a set including several of his classics:

Summer Side Of Life
Saturday Clothes
That’s What You Get For Loving Me
Affair On Eighth Avenue
If You Could Read My Mind
Steel Rail Blues
Your Loves Return
Ten Degrees And Getting Colder
Early Morning Rain
Farewell Nova Scotia
Me And Bobby McGee
Nous Vivons Ensemble
Minstrel Of The Dawn
Talking In Your Sleep
Canadian Railroad Trilogy

Lightfoot is accompanied here by Red Shea on guitar and Rick Haynes on bass. You will please note how great of a guitar player the guy is!

If you are too young to have much of an idea of who Gordon Lightfoot is, well, rejoice kiddo, because you’ve got some great music to discover. If you’re old enough (or perhaps Canadian enough?) to be hip already to Gord’s golden baritone, then you’ve probably already stopped reading this and have hit the play button.

Bonus, “Sundown” on The Midnight Special in 1974:


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Hilarious, cutting tweets will get you up to speed on our inglorious U.S. presidents
11:54 am


U.S Presidents

U.S. President
Can you identify this man?

Today is Presidents Day, and that means it’s time for a mattress sale or, more likely, a day at home catching up on House of Games or The Walking Dead. But you could also spend it getting edumacated about the impressive personages who have occupied that lofty office.

Eh, takes too long, right? And who really gives a hoot about all those bearded jokers from the 19th century? But what if I told you that a gregarious professor of history has done all the work for you, by crafting 44 (actually 46) witty tweets so that you can at least know the thumbnail takeaway for each President? Erik Loomis is an assistant professor of history at the University of Rhode Island and a blogger at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, and he’s done exactly that: summarized every President’s accomplishments in a tweet.

Nearly all of the tweets are pretty cutting, and there’s a heavy emphasis on imperialist adventures abroad and racist and/or union-busting activities at home, which is fine with me. Here are a few of the more memorable ones:



I can hear you now at your next cocktail party, perfectly primed to uncork your newfound wisdom on your unsuspecting prey: “Oh, Harding? Yes, he liked bicycles, you know.” (Unfortunately, since everything I know about Harding comes from that tweet, I have no idea what that actually means.)

With the more recent presidents, it’s easier to have a informed opinion: I think Loomis underrates Eisenhower and Reagan mildly, but those assessments are very much in keeping with the others, and he makes a valuable point about Nixon, who did such “liberal” things as create the Environmental Protection Agency largely as a way to splinter and generally confuse the Democratic Party: “Not a domestic liberal people. Quit saying that. Signed those bills b/c Congress would have overridden veto.” And I think this is the exact right take on LBJ:

To shore up your newfound knowledge, here’s an Animaniacs clip that accomplishes much the same thing (without the left-wing bias):

(By the way, the dude at the top of the page is Millard Fillmore.)

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
J. G. Ballard: Undermining bourgeois certainties and ‘Empire of the Sun’
10:15 am


J. G. Ballard

Writing is a very peculiar existence, J. G. Ballard told an audience during an interview for his novel Empire of the Sun, at the ICA London, in 1984.

”Unlike playwrights, composers, sculptors and painters who can go to first nights and gallery openings and alike, the writer never sees his audience. I mean, I have never in my life seen anybody reading one of my books.”

Ballard’s knowledge of his audience came from the letters he received, mainly written by teenage Science Fiction fans. He believed his audience was limited as the reading of such speculative or “imaginative fiction—which is not popular on the whole—is a very solitary business.”

”It’s an extreme fiction made out of extreme metaphors, and I think only people with that taste for extreme solutions are going to be drawn to imaginative fiction. Let’s face it, if Gulliver’s Travels or Alice in Wonderland were published for the first time now they would meet with rather a mixed response. Imaginative fiction is not popular as a whole, I don’t think.”

Ballard devoted his whole career to imaginative fiction, and was more influenced by the Surrealists than his favorite novelists Graham Greene and William Burroughs.

”I have a great built in hostility towards the realistic social novel because it does tend to accept society as it finds it. I feel it is particularly dangerous in sort of puritanical, northern European countries like this one, where there’s a polite distaste for going too far—for going anywhere at all practically.

“I have devoted my career, for what it’s worth, to undermining the bourgeois certainties wherever I can, and the bourgeois novel is target number one on my list. I see the writer’s role as important but I recognize, and one has got to be a realist, most people prefer cosy certainties of life to permanent revolution, as the Surrealists called it, but that doesn’t discourage me at all.”

Empire of the Sun was the first of Ballard’s fictional autobiographies, loosely based on his childhood experiences as a prisoner-of-war at Lunghua Civilian Assembly in Shanghai during World War II. The novel was his most successful and was filmed by Steven Spielberg in 1987. In this interview with Matthew Hoffman, Ballard briefly discusses this book, his career as a writer up to 1984, as well as giving his views on America and the rise of China.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Seizure’: Oliver Stone’s disowned directing debut

Although it seems as if he’d like to do everything he can to disown it and pretend that it doesn’t exist, Oliver Stone’s 1974 directing debut, the low-budget horror film Seizure, is nothing to be ashamed of. It may not be the best film he’s ever made, but it’s certainly not the worst either (U-Turn anyone?).

In terms of cult movie catnip, Seizure boasts stars like Jonathan Frid (“Barnabas Collins” from TV’s Dark Shadows), B-movie queen Mary Woronov, Bond girl Martine Beswick and Hervé Villechaize, the dwarf actor who played “Tattoo” on Fantasy Island (Villechaize, a well-known actor in NYC experimental theater circles, was Stone’s roommate at the time). Frid plays a horror writer who is terrorized by his own fictional creations. The surreal plot that is loosely based on Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf.

Here’s what the VHS cover looked like:

Mary Woronov claims that one of the film’s producers was gangster Michael Thevis, who anonymously bankrolled the film to launder money while he was under investigation by the FBI, something also mentioned on IMDB.

Seizure has never come out on DVD, but in the early 80s, it was easy to find on VHS for $2.99. According to Mary Woronov, Stone bought the rights to the film and it would appear that he intends to keep sitting on it. It’s easy enough to find, of course, if you know where to look. Ahem.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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