Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Cassettes

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Cassettes
So far this year, around 6,500 pre-recorded cassettes have been sold in all of Canada. The shortage of magnetic tape is intertwined with the even larger renaissance of vinyl records: Both are surfing the same wave of nostalgia for old recording formats, and the vinyl boom has created a new niche for cassettes. They’re cheaper and require less lead time for production. If you’re a regular reader of these pages, you’ll know that I believe the cassette is a hateful, outdated, obsolete piece of technology that deserves to die. Or as Donald Trump would say, fake news. Read the entire Quartz piece here. It’s restarting production to satisfy demand from musicians like Metallica and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who insisted that “The Hamilton Mixtape” be available as a cassette. In the US, the number is something like 130,000. “The process includes a finely calibrated slurry of metallic particles and polyurethane, miles of Mylar, 48 feet of ovens, a small amount of radioactivity and a very precise slicer.” You can watch a video about National Audio here. The Journal reports that a manufacturer called National Audio Company has been managing a dwindling stockpile of tape since most US suppliers shut down. “Tape-making is complicated,” the Journal notes. Quartz (via Peter) has taken a deep dive into cassette culture and begins by pointing out that there’s an acute shortage of magnetic tape. Yet cassettes endure, albeit as a tiny, tiny, tiny niche within the entire music ecosystem. So while some blather on about a cassette renaissance, that’s clearly wishful thinking. Those who romanticize the cassette were probably not around when that was the only way we could make our music portable.

Women Confronting the Boy’s Club in Rock’n’Roll

Women Confronting the Boy’s Club in Rock’n’Roll
They were building identities and confronting demons. My mom nerves were based in personal experience. At first it provided a louder alternative to Lollapalooza, celebrating punk’s history just as that subgenre became historical. I’d texted her frequently that afternoon to make sure she was safe. They were also learning the language of sexual harassment. I remember the hordes of young men at those shows, wearing painters’ masks to protect themselves from the dust they kicked up in front of the main stage. This NPR article takes a look at how things are progressing. Not too many people stopped to talk with me. Last summer I took my daughter to Vans Warped Tour for the first time. It’s important. I got us tickets by volunteering to run a sign-up table for our local feminist rock and roll summer camp. The #MeToo reverberations will continue for some time yet–as they should. She’d been clamoring to go since the first time she’d walked into a Hot Topic store and bought a t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of the band Black Veil Brides; deeply devoted to that band and its sweetly philosophical, doe-eyed singer Andy Biersack, she’d even had their album cover painted on her eleventh birthday cake. “I got kicked in the face twice,” she said, possibly exaggerating. They were having fun. Rock mom that I am, I identified with her passion — the same green kind I’d directed, as a teen, toward local bands with New Wave names like The Heaters and The Frazz — and wanted to help her live it out, within the limits that my own mom, a Bing Crosby fan, didn’t know were necessary. By age 13 she’d become utterly versed in current pop-punk and grunge-indebted metal, shouting along to her playlists of Neck Deep and Attila songs in the car. “F*** this s***, you can find me in the mosh pit!” she’d yell, all five feet two inches of her electric with defiance. Keep reading. My kid took off with a friend, returning occasionally to share her adventures in the crowd. But five years or so in, it became a wild boys’ paradise. There will also be many long overdue ripples through the world of music. Artists like Blink-182 and Kid Rock peppered their sets with jokes about women’s body parts; actual women hardly ever appeared onstage. Stationed across from the Reverse Day Care tent, where parents went to enjoy air conditioning and avoid their kids, I shared space with some social conservatives (“All Lives Matter,” their t-shirts read) and a few students trying to raise money for refugees. I’d covered Warped Tour for The New York Times in the late 1990s and watched a malignancy sprout inside its rock and roll shenanigans. “But I’m okay!”
I can’t explain the relief I felt when she said all she’d experienced was some standard pit jostling.

The Science and Art of Resurrecting Long-Gone Songs and Albums

If this song were to be released today, it would sound every bit as fresh. I had a vinyl copy of the album at one point, but it has long disappeared. Making sure this music lives on is part archeology, part legal entanglements and entirely a labour of love. In fact, there are a lot of songs and albums from that period that because they never made the transition to CD have seemingly been sucked into a black hole. LA’s Real Gone is one of those labels and Loudr is a company that helps with licensing. Sourcing this material is one thing. Licensing it for a digital world is another. Fortunately, we’ve seen the rise of a number of specialty labels devoted to re-issuing this long-lost material. Not only did I find my 20/20 record at Real Gone, but I found tons of lost soundtracks and collections, including a vinyl copy of The Return of the Living Dead soundtrack that someone nicked from me at a Halloween party back in the late 80s. Go here if you want to read how it all works. The only hope we might have of recovering these memories is to spend a lot of time crate digging at record stores and shows. Back in my university days, everyone in my gang was a fan of an Oklahoma power pop band called 20/20, especially a song called “Yellow Pills” from their 1979 self-titled debut.
The Science and Art of Resurrecting Long-Gone Songs and Albums

Time to Start Crunching the Year-End Numbers in Music for 2017, Including Sales and Streams of Those Who Died

(Yeah, but only about 6,500 pre-record cassettes have sold in all of Canada so far this year. This past week marked the first week since Nielsen Music began tracking streaming in Canada that audio on-demand streams surpassed the 900 million mark. Rock +52%
Dance/Electronic +52%

That’s all fine, but all forms of rock still aren’t being streamed in the numbers necessary for the labels to push more marketing money its way. Labels make more than 50% of their revenues from streaming now, which means they’re going to continue to invest in the genres that are hot–i.e. I quote (with some annotations):
Audio On-Demand Streams are up 75% over 2016 so far this year. (I was such a huge Streetheart fan back in the day. Vinyl sales have enjoyed year-over-year growth every year since 2011
Cassettes sparked new interest, especially with the two Guardians Of The Galaxy soundtracks. 2
Two weeks later, Downie’s new solo album Introduce Yourself debuted at number one
Tom Petty (passed October 2)
Four of Petty’s albums charted the week following his passing, including Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits, which re-entered at No. Many genres saw increases in audio on-demand streaming consumption over last year

Latin +163% (Gotta be “Despacito” that’s responsible for most of this.)
Children +102%
Rap +101%
R&B +86%
Country +75%
Hard Rock +68%
Pop +64%
Alt. Try to get any marketing money for any new band that dares plays guitars. Their annual year-end report will be out soon, but they’re offering up these appetizers. The people at Nielsen Music Canada spend all their days monitoring how we consume music and teasing out facts and trends from the data. Fake news!)

In Memoriam
Chris Cornell (passed May 18)
The week of Cornell’s passing, the combined album sales of Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple Of The Dog and his solo work went from just over 100 units the previous week to over 3,000
On-Demand streaming increased significantly over the previous week:

Soundgarden +726%
Audioslave +389%
Temple Of The Dog +402%
Solo work +1380%

Chester Bennington (passed July 20)
Following the passing of the Linkin Park frontman, the band’s consumption increased 227%
Seven of the band’s albums were on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart, including One More Light at No.  
I’ll have more data from Nielsen Music Canada once their report is out. o   Streaming lifts help make up for the drops in physical and digital sales

Overall albums -16%
Digital Tracks -19%

Vinyl & Cassettes

Sales of vinyl LPs continued to grow, running 22% ahead of this time last year. That number is only going to increase every week in 2018. 4
Kenny Shields (passed July 21)
Consumption rose 870% the week following his passing. If you came of age musically in the late 70s and live in Winnipeg, it was pretty much the law that you were required to own the first two Streetheart albums.)
Gord Downie (passed October 17)
The week of The Tragically Hip frontman’s passing saw the band’s overall consumption increase by 1000% over the previous week
Six of the band’s albums charted on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart, including their best of collection, Yer Favourites at No. 5
Total sales for Petty’s catalog, solo and bands, posted over a 1500% album sales increase

Digital track sales +1800%
Streams +1000%

Patrick Bourgeois (passed November 26)
Overall consumption of the band’s catalog rose nearly 3000% the week following his passing. rap and R&B.
Time to Start Crunching the Year-End Numbers in Music for 2017, Including Sales and Streams of Those Who Died

Stage Collapse at a Brazilian Festival Kills a DJ and Injures Three

More at Mixmag and The Daily Mail. About 5,000 people were enjoying DJ Kaleb Freitas’ set at the Atmosphere Festival in Esteio, Brazil, Sunday afternoon when something went terribly wrong. As you can see by the video, the winds whipped up and the stage came down. Organizers knew about the weather forecast and the potential for “gale-force winds,” but decided to go ahead with the gig, anyway. There’s no word on the injured.   Freitas was rushed to hospital with severe head injuries but died in the emergency ward.
Stage Collapse at a Brazilian Festival Kills a DJ and Injures Three

Pizzagate, Pai and net neutrality: What happens next

This is now possibly becoming a challenge to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which gives creators the right to have YouTube take down videos that infringe on their copyrights (see the Dancing Baby case for a bonkers example of DMCAs and how messy they can get). As one website put it, the chair of the FCC doesn’t understand copyright law – kind of makes you question how well he can possibly understand how the internet works and, as a result, how best to operate and oversee its regulation? These regulations might have been voted out, but don’t for a moment thing the fight is done. Because that’s how American politics works right now. The brunette woman dancing to Pai’s side, appearing to hold a cigarette, is a woman that people who love governmental conspiracy theories might recognize. The ACLU is calling on people to call their congressional leaders, but this is likely to be a fight along party lines. Got that? Rules were written and rewritten and edited and made sure to follow the letter of the law. Democrats were running a child sex trafficking ring out of a local pizza restaurant. No one said killing net neutrality would make it so people couldn’t post photos of their food on Instagram or take away YouTube. The video was supposed to reassure people that his proposed changes would keep the internet a place where you could do all the things you normally do:

Let’s talk about a few points here, shall we? Again. By the way, the people behind the Harlem Shake are thinking about suing Pai for using their song without permission. Let’s also discuss his use of the “Harlem Shake” and the cast of characters in that segment. Gizmodo credits Alexander Smith, a musician, with noticing the woman first. We’re looking at a regulatory, legislative and probably prosecutorial journey ahead. It might look like Kat Dennings, she of “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” and “Two Broke Girls” fame. We also now know that more than a dozen states are going to take their own action to preserve internet protections as outlined under the previous regulations. “If the push for reversal of the FCC’s action through the CRA doesn’t succeed, then the action will turn to the states. The video was taken down for a few hours on Sunday but has been reposted on YouTube. “One of the Daily Caller employees that danced alongside Pai in the video seems to be a proponent of Pizzagate, the infamous and completely baseless internet conspiracy theory claiming prominent Washington, D.C. The hoax spread through 4chan, Twitter and fake news sites and eventually spurred a man to discharge an assault rifle inside Comet Ping Pong, the D.C. The CRA is a relatively new tool that allows Congress to reverse regulatory action within 60 legislative days of their enactment,” the group says. As expected, the US Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted along party lines to repeal Obama-era net neutrality regulations. Already we know that the Attorney General of New York is filing a lawsuit on behalf of the two million comments in support of the new regs that were filed fraudulently. And working with our People Power organization to help Americans have a voice on this important issue.”
The biggest takeaway is that this is a process; nothing’s going to change overnight. The ACLU is filing a lawsuit and says the next hoop for net neutrality will be in Congress, “where pro-network neutrality members will press to use something called the Congressional Review Act to undo this hasty and misguided action. Good. The woman in question, Daily Caller video producer Martina Markota, appears to the right of Pai during the Harlem Shake portion of the video.”
Remember Pizzagate? No one ever said repealing Obama-era net neutrality would make the internet go away. There were lawsuits. We’re already working with state and local leaders to find every possible means to keep pushing on this issue and signal that the country won’t roll over,” the ACLU continues. When the Obama-era net neutrality regs were first proposed, there was controversy. Just before the vote, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released a little video. Baauer, the meme’s creator, told The Verge that he’s “appalled to be associated in any way with the repeal of net neutrality.”
Now for the reassuring thoughts. It is most assuredly not. What supporters of net neutrality have argued is that, under the proposed changes, internet providers could sell the speed at which users can do all those things to the highest bidder. “We will be helping legislators figure out what protections they can enact at the state and local level, providing model legislation and resolutions. A refresher from Slate: “In the run-up to the 2016 election, a viral myth had it that Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman were managing a child sex ring in the basement of a pizza shop. pizzeria in question.”
And here’s the chairman of the FCC, using this person in a video – and a meme that ran its course several years ago, if we’re being truthful, a meaningless fad—to argue for calm and rational thought about his proposed changes to the governance of the internet.
Pizzagate, Pai and net neutrality: What happens next

Diddy Wants to Buy the Carolina Panthers and Sign Colin Kaepernick

Diddy Wants to Buy the Carolina Panthers and Sign Colin Kaepernick
Given that Forbes says the Panthers are worth at least $2.3 billion, it seems obvious that there’s a lot of fire behind this smoke. The time is now. What kind of allegations are we talking about? Let’s make it happen!! No joke. Let’s GOOOOOOO!!!!! I WOULD LIKE TO BUY THE CAROLINA PANTHERS!!! It’s time!! This is God’s work. Attention to the Carolina PANTHERS!! He wants to buy the team with help from Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. It’s rare that an NFL team comes up for sale, but Jerry Richardson announced yesterday that he’s going to sell his Carolina Panthers as the result of an investigation into “allegations of workplace misconduct.” The for sale sign will go up at the end of this season. A post shared by Diddy (@diddy) on Dec 17, 2017 at 5:47pm PST

This picture was taken back in 2003. It took just a couple of hours before Diddy chimed in. Tell the world! Diddy also says that if he’s successful in buying the team–and if you watch Ballers, you’ll know what kind of an uphill battle he’ll face–he says he’ll sign Colin Kaepernick. Spread the word. pic.twitter.com/zex7LTZ8mn
— Diddy (@Diddy) December 18, 2017

According to Forbes, Diddy is worth about $820 million–a good start, but not enough to buy the team on his own. That includes sexually suggestive language and actions along with the use of a racial slur. This is a chance to make history!!! ATTN all @NFL owners, it’s time for diversity!! Steph Curry is worth around $50 million, so they’ll need a few more people to buy in. ATTENTION NFL! There are NO AFRICAN AMERICAN MAJORITY OWNERS IN THE NFL!!!! The team isn’t saying, but did issue a statement saying the organization was “committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally.”
Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated says that at least four former employees were paid off to make allegations of Richardson’s bad behaviour go away. It’s time for Black ownership!!

In Case You Missed the Foo Fighters on Saturday Night Live This Past Weekend…

In Case You Missed the Foo Fighters on Saturday Night Live This Past Weekend…
🎄🎸 pic.twitter.com/KszRLAbnFp
— banana!SAM 🍌 (@the_endverse) December 17, 2017 You decide. When The Wife saw this Foo Fighters performance on Saturday Night Live, she exclaimed “Look at those eyelashes! Love the incorporation of the Vince Guaraldi theme from Peanuts, too. Are those real or is Dave Grohl wearing falsies?” Dunno, dear. Give them all the holiday awards. The Foo Fighters incorporated acoustic Everlong, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), & the Peanuts theme into one performance.

Random Music News for Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Random Music News for Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Interested in how streaming is affecting radio? They’re all sold out until 2018. Hoping to give or receive some Apple AirPods for Christmas? This tragedy underscores the pressure so many K-Pop bands feel. More analysis of America’s stupid move of repealing net neutrality measures. Blackberry is shutting down its app store. Talk about music from the underground! The lead singer of a South Korean boy band has apparently killed himself. Undergoing surgery anytime soon? Best headline of the week: “George Zimmerman threatens to feed JAY-Z to alligator over Trayvon Martin documentary.”
Those rare Beatles Christmas records have been unveiled. A company called Spotlite, a live-streaming app for musicians, has some new investors. This is fun: At one point, airlines fantasized about putting discos and gyms on their aircraft. Here’s some music news for December 19. A good Tuesday timesuck: A history of radio advertising. Is streaming bad for domestic Canadian acts? Could this become a real thing? There’s now a new “snooze” feature that will temporarily let you unfollow a person or group for 30 days. Listen to this. With no Cancon requirements for streaming, there’s a real argument to be made. This could be the last day of any kind of workplace productivity of the year–except if you’re in retail or hospitality, of course. Or radio, now that I think of it. Maybe you could look at giving one of these special Canadian box sets instead. Ed Sheeran has already written a Bond theme, just in case someone asks him. This music was recorded 2,000 metres below the surface of the earth at a neutrino observatory near Sudbury. And no–and I can’t stress this enough–radio is not dead. Tired of some people in your Facebook feed? This doctor says you should be able to choose your music. But not until December 31, 2019, so don’t panic yet.

New Music From The Inbox – Tuesday Edition! (Dec 19, 2017): MGMT, Tricky, Bully, and more!


Artist: Bully
Song: “Running”
Album/EP: Losing

I’m not sure if you’d classify this as post-grunge, but it’s the neatest description I can conjure so let’s run with it. The sultry-yet-sweet tone, achingly laying out the embattled thoughts of a damaged soul, stand front and centre as they belong. Melancholic vocals and instrumentation with all of the songwriting and substance of an indie-pop arena rocker, Vern Matz strikes the perfect balance between crooning and crying with “Shelby Park”. Modern slacker rock influence gives Bully’s edgy tune a slow-burn quality, keeping angst and inner turmoil at an arm’s length – just far enough to creep in, but not eat away at the song’s forefront. Boom. Tricky’s underlying track is cleverly minimalistic, following the ebb and flow of Belmonte’s voice closely yet creeping in and out of prevalence like the emerging shadows of a long day’s sunset. The passion in this one is palpable, but make no mistake – romance is hard-fought here. Thankfully, that translates to nice music for the rest of us. Watch/Listen:

Artist: Vern Matz
Song: “Shelby Park”
Album/EP: Vern Matz

The National meets Coldplay. After the psych rock band struggled to get any traction with their original demos and EPs, they went as poppy as possible to make the money they needed to create what they wanted. The emotional swells in the song hit similar mental touch points as The Fray’s “How To Save A Life”, and I almost expect to see Vern Matz’ single in a sitcom’s emotional moment, too. Trippy psych rock melded perfectly with catchy pop and smooth songwriting, MGMT feels like they’re returning to their roots but can’t quite shake that frustratingly monstrous success. Artist: MGMT
Song: “When You Die”
Album/EP: Little Dark Age

The story goes that MGMT’s unbelievably popular debut Oracular Spectacular was actually their sell-out-on-purpose album. Tightly plucking instrumentals remain constant throughout “Running”, giving the song an always-on, slightly-frenetic progression. Watch/Listen:

Artist: Tricky
Song: “New Stole” ft. Listen:

…and that’s all! This tune from upcoming album feels like the fulfilment of that tale, true or not. Sometimes there just aren’t enough top songs in the Inbox to recommend (maybe the holidays have something to do with it?), but when the great tunes come flooding back in greater numbers we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming of six highlighted tracks per week. Francesca Belmonte
Album/EP: ununiform

Francesca Belmonte’s vocals are the highlight of this tune, hands down. Stay tuned! No, you’re not going crazy – these past couple of weeks of the Tuesday edition have been getting progressively shorter. Good thing the chorus gives everybody time to let loose.
(Dec 19, 2017): MGMT, Tricky, Bully, and more! New Music From The Inbox – Tuesday Edition!

An Update on Tom DeLonge’s UFO Research

They’re probably Greys, too. Puthoff: A former government physicist and NSA and CIA contractor who worked on various skunkworks projects for Lockheed Martin, he’s been working on “engineering the space-time metric,” a murky way of allowing for instantaneous travel over long distances. Clever little buggers. Sure!)
TTSAoA&S is totally crowdfunded and has raised over $2 million USD from 2,200 donors. Tom has already co-authored two books (the fictional dramatization Sekret Machines: Chasing Shadows and the serious study, Sekret Machines: Gods: Volume 1 of Gods Man & War). (Zero-point energy, anyone? He’s also the founder of To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science, an organization devoted to “bring[ing] transformative science and engineering out of the shadows” free from “the restrictions of government priorities.” In other words, he wants to pursue all kinds of technologies that he claims to have been suppressed by NASA and other government agencies. Luis Elizondo: He’s the former head of The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a multi-million-dollar project run from inside the Pentagon from 2007-12. Along with creative differences and wanting to spend more time with his family, Tom DeLonge felt it was time to leave blink-182 so he could spend more time studying UFOs—or, as he calls it “The Phenomenon.”
This isn’t just some part-time hobby, either. Mellon: He used to work with the Defense Department as a deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence. Tom maintains that there’s more information like this coming, that this is “just the tip of the spear.”
I, for one, welcome Tom’s efforts to uncover the truth of our future alien overlords. A lot of that money has gone to hiring some interesting people. It was accompanied by some wild radar/video images. Although the program still exists, it was officially defunded (more likely moved to the black ops budget) with Elizondo resigning in disgust this past October after new secrecy protocols were put in place. Hal E. Over the weekend, The New York Times carried a front-page story about the Pentagon program that included a story about a UFO (or, as Tom prefers, UAP—Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) and a couple of Navy fighters off the coast of California. Christopher K. He’s now a part of Tom’s crew. What about telepathy and space travel?
An Update on Tom DeLonge’s UFO Research

Remembering That Time When Frank Zappa Recorded a Jingle for Remington Electric Shavers

A shame, really. That person knew about the commercial Zappa had done for Luden’s Cough Drops…

…and thought he’d be the perfect guy to give a fresh spin to electric razors. Everyone was paid a thousand dollars for the demo–but ultimately rejected it. As we approach Christmas, we’re once again seeing plenty of commercials for electric shavers.   Zappa contacted a young singer named Linda Ronstadt (yes, her), with whom he shared a manager. “Why not?” he thought. This is a good time to remember the time when Frank Zappa produced a spec piece for “Remington Electric Razor Machines.”
Zappa was living in New York at the time and got a request from one of the weirder people at an advertising agency.
Remembering That Time When Frank Zappa Recorded a Jingle for Remington Electric Shavers

Gift Idea: A Justin Bieber Sex Doll

Around $1700 CAD. The description reads “This sex doll is made from the most advanced medical thermoplastic elastomer material (TPE) with a full metal skeleton. It can flexibly do all sorts of different sexy poses.” And yes, you can custom order, er, package size. The price? This silicon doll is 160 cm tall and is being sold from AliExpress, which sells both male and female sex dollars. OHFERTHELOVEOFGAWD! (Via The Sun)
Gift Idea: A Justin Bieber Sex Doll

Even Eminem Uses Tinder

Even Eminem Uses Tinder
It was an interesting time for me. Dunno, but it’s fascinating to think about Eminem swiping on Tinder–and people swiping left on him. It’s tough. Really? I also used to go to strip clubs. Thanks for asking though. I think a lot of long-term relationships start in strip clubs. Is fame lonely for you? Going to strip clubs is how I was meeting some chicks. Do you date? When you’re ultra-famous, you exist in a bubble away from the rest of society, mostly for your own protection. No, I’m good. What can I say? Since my divorce I’ve had a few dates and nothing’s panned out in a way that I wanted to make it public. Are you being serious? Am I lonely? This brings us to Eminem, who admitted to Vulture that he used Tinder to get dates. But it gets lonely in that bubble and sometimes, like the royal kid in The Prince and the Pauper, you long to get out into the real world so you can live like a normal person. Dating’s just not where I’m at lately. Read the whole interview here. Tinder? Is he serious? Yeah, Tinder. When you were dating, how’d you meet people? [Laughs] And Grindr. I mean, yeah. The Q&A went like this.