Something is rotten in the state of iTunes

"CUPERTINO, California—May 30, 2007—Apple® today launched iTunes® Plus—DRM-free music tracks featuring high quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for audio quality virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings—for just $1.29 per song. iTunes Plus is launching with EMI’s digital catalog of outstanding recordings, including singles and albums from Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Frank Sinatra, Joss Stone, Pink Floyd, John Coltrane and more than a dozen of Paul McCartney’s classic albums available on iTunes for the first time.

iTunes will continue to offer its entire catalog, currently over five million songs, in the same versions as today—128 kbps AAC encoding with DRM—at the same price of 99 cents per song, alongside the higher quality iTunes Plus versions when available. In addition, iTunes customers can now easily upgrade their library of previously purchased EMI content to iTunes Plus tracks for just 30 cents a song and $3.00 for most albums."

Some initial reactions are starting to appear online, and they are shedding light on at least one disconcerting detail about iTunes Plus. It appears that in its current incarnation, the DRM-free tracks aren't quite "alongside" their cheaper counterparts, as the press release states. Instead, they exist behind a switch to turn iTunes Plus on or off; a switch that appears to users upgrading to the new iTunes when they search for the beefed up tracks, but that requires some snooping and password recall to undo. And once you've opted to view iTunes Plus tracks, the 99 cent ones are obscured. They're still there, but you have to know how to find them.

Some might consider this a backdoor price-hike, which is exactly the way I worried this whole deal would pan out. Not everybody is going to be able to figure out how to turn iTunes Plus off once they've agreed to flip it on.

With sufficient customer uproar, history teaches us we can expect a mea culpa from Steve Jobs and a quick fix. But for now, take a look at Lefsetz's play by play and decide for yourself if iTunes Plus is good for music retail, or just one more nail in the coffin.

Here are a few more stories:
[ars technica]

CBS buys Last.fm for $280 million

In a surprisingly forward-thinking move that will surely spark a firestorm of similar acquisitions by CBS's competition, CBS has announced today that they will purchase Last.fm for $280 million dollars. Similar to News Corp's MySpace deal, the Last.fm management team will remain intact and continue to run the service without day-to-day oversight.

The take-home from this is that CBS sees the writing on the wall, which is that plain-old terrestrial radio (and really, old media in general) is treading water in a shark tank. The value of old media without complimentary online offerings is shrinking by the day, and it's not going to grow again.

Additionally, you can bet your ass that CBS will throw its full force behind reversing the Sound Exchange/CRB decision now.

I really want to get cynical about this and cry that the sky is falling because one of my absolute favorite services has been bought by a corporate behemoth, but I really think this is a good day for radio; old and new school.

[Last.fm Blog]
[The Wall Street Journal]
[RAIN: Radio And Internet Newsletter]


Jack White treats objects like women, man.

jackie treehorn conquest

I can't be the only one in the world that thinks of the scene at Jackie Treehorn's house when I hear "Conquest" by The White Stripes.

lala.com to give free on demand streaming a shot

TechCrunch reports that lala.com, WOXY's knight in shining armor and the hapless object of Bob Lefsetz's bitterest ire, will offer free, on demand streaming music to its members. TC breaks down the numbers and they don't look to be goldmine-ish at first glance. Basically, it's going to cost about $.01 per song to do this legally, and the labels will sign short term deals to reserve their right to renegotiate for higher rates if Mr. Nguyen is able to pull a rabbit out of his hat.

This on demand service (and WOXY, for that matter) are meant to drive lala's CD trading business. For $1, users arrange with each other to trade discs through the mail. It's important to note that not a penny of this goes to record labels, music publishers, or artists*. Much like the secondary concert ticket market, the secondary disc market is something these folks are just dying to get a piece of. You'd better believe that if the labels can't swallow some pride and make nice with Bill Gates**, they're sure as hell not going to give Bill Nguyen and lala a break with the rates.

Argue all day long about the level of exposure and sales this may or may not drive. Labels couldn't care less about Internet Radio's potential to do the same, and they certainly aren't going to be any more favorable to lala, especially when the sales this service aims to drive sidestep them altogether.

As cool and useful as this service might be for lala's members, it has some seemingly insurmountable hurdles from a business standpoint. I'll be surprised if it lasts.

* If you're also a gamer and you ever wonder why the clerks at EB Games try to push the used disc on you instead of the new one, this is why. It's pure profit.

**I'm talking here about Universal insisting on a cut from every Zune sold. But mostly I used Bill Gates instead of the more obvious Steve Jobs because his name was Bill.

Tegan and Sara - The Con

The Idolators in their infinite scofflawishness have posted the title track for the newly leaked Tegan and Sara record, The Con. I, in an uncharacteristic departure from my impeccable good citizenship, have listened to it and would be remiss in not recommending that you do the same. It's catchy as hell.

Apparently this was produced by Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla. Let me know if you hear a bit of "We Looked Like Giants" tone in there.

Of course, these things don't often stay up for very long, but I'm sure that if you're too late to get it from Idolator, you can find it on The Hype Machine.

If you feel bad, buy their records.


we also ran.

Well, here it is. My Elba. She's not much to look at just yet, but I'm done licking my wounds and I'm ready to start blogging regularly again. I am pretty proud of the banner there on top, which I made in MS Paint (swear to God). I stole the three standing guys from an image of a men's room sign, but I had to make the seated guy by hand, pretty much pixel by pixel. You may wonder why he doesn't have a chair. The short answer is that the chair is invisible. The longer answer is that there was no fucking way I was going to draw him a chair. Come on.

If you're finding this site without me having linked you to it, let me explain the Elba thing. My name is Mike McClenathan, former program director (and chief blogsecutive officer) of the now-defunct PulverRadio.com. A lot of factors snowballed to cause that site's demise, and I like to think most of them weren't my fault. Regardless, the blog had been doing well there, and just because I'm not being paid anymore to heap praises onto deserving bands doesn't mean I can't do it anymore. So I'm going to do it here now.

A few notes about this site:
  • I'm slowly moving over all the posts from PulverRadio that I think are any good. I'm doing it by hand, so it's one at a time and it's taking forever. Since I'm doing it by hand, old comments won't be making the journey with me to the promised land. Comments will, of course, be accepted on all posts here at WeAlsoRan.com/music.
  • As far as the "/music" thing goes, I did that because the plan is to (hopefully) have more than just this music blog going on here, eventually. But we'll deal with all that later.
  • I'm using Blogger because it's easy, free, and awesome.
  • Eventually you might see some ads up here, but for now, this is a passion project in process. Please be patient while I figure out the look and feel, and populate the archives.
  • And feel free to tell your friends, if you think they'd dig.

a fond farewell

Simply for archival purposes...

It comes to this. A cocktail of recent developments will culminate in the cessation of PulverRadio's streaming at the end of the week. The ongoing CRB drama is but one star in the constellation, and I am hopeful that our bowing out at this time isn't interpreted by any of our brethren in webcasting as a surrender. Our time, very simply, has come.

There are some people I want to thank.

Shadoe and David, it has been the purest of pleasures to work with you both. Your big-time enthusiasm for a (comparatively) small-time gig is a testament to your professionalism, and your legions of fans speak to your charismatic ability to engage an audience. It would take me days to list the things I've learned from listening to your shows.

Ian Bell and especially Jeff Pulver, you hired a kid with a little DJ experience and a passion, and gave him a chance to run a radio station and live a dream. I like to think I've come a long way, and I have you to thank for that.

The following artists are amazing, deserve to be superstars, and have been very generous to me with their time:
- Endless Mike and The Beagle Club
- Elementary Thought Process
- Glennwood
- Zox
- Houston Calls
- Josh Pyke

For the most part, every record label I ever contacted wanted nothing to do with Internet Radio. Drive-Thru Records was a notable exception and was consistently amazing to me.

Lastly, thanks to you, who listened to the shows, emailed requests, read the blog, told your friends. There wouldn't have been a reason to do any of this if not for you.

As for me, I'm going to try my hand at a professional life that doesn't directly involve music, but you can rest assured you'll still be able to find me around the internet. Here's my new blog.

Seriously, thanks. It's been a hell of a ride.

Mikey McClenathan
Program Director


David Pakman gets it

David Pakman, CEO of eMusic, recently wrote a piece on 17dots.com (eMusic's own blog) that's part manifesto and part elevator speech, but all awesome. Some highlights:
"According to data we analyzed from the RIAA and Ipsos, last year, more than 30% fewer people bought music than did in 2000. This is an enormous decrease. Many have offered theories to explain it — piracy, music quality, you name it — but informed people will tell you that a very big reason is that consumers, inundated with well-priced entertainment choices, think most music is too expensive."

"Most of you know about price elasticity. It’s the basic economic concept that says, for certain goods, when you raise the price, sales will fall disproportionately, and so the increased revenue doesn’t make up for the lack of sales. And if you lower the price, sales will rise disproportionately. Music is an elastic good, and we have now seen that by raising prices, the industry in fact did not make up the revenue, and, in the end, only slowed sales."

"So, eMusic is all about trying to satisfy two concerns that most former music buyers have: a) they aren’t sure what to buy anymore because they don’t hear anything good on the radio, and b) they think music is relatively expensive compared to DVDs, etc. eMusic makes a splendid bargain with our customers: get a better deal on music from us than what you get at iTunes, and we’ll work really hard at helping you discover great music. But in return, you spend more money on music than you normally would. And that’s good for everyone: artists, labels and customers. And here’s the bottom line: the average customer only spends about $12 per year on iTunes; by contrast, the average eMusic customer spends about $168 per year with us. Imagine how different our industry would look if more retailers could serve their customers so fully."

Forgive the guy's usage of "splendid" and the general pitchiness of the whole post; he gets it. For the time being, the big bad RIAA still doesn't want to play with eMusic, but there is a ton of great stuff on there and you can count me in the group of their customers that spends well over $168 a year there.

Bravo, David. Bravo.

(Please take time and read the whole post, here.)


roots of creationI wanted to share part of a myspace message I just received. This is from Roots of Creation, an independent Reggae/Rock band from New Hampshire that are doing some really respectable business on the road with little more than some good songs and some out-of-the-box thinking.
Lots of cool things going on...we just bought a short bus (seriously), toured down south for 2 1/2 weeks, and we are throwing our own festival August 17,18,19 in NH. And if you haven't picked up our new CD RISE UP please do on Itunes.com or here: click here

Here are our tourdates (so far):
- 5/11 Nectars. Burlington VT.
- 5/25 Armadillos. Keene, NH.
- 5/26 Make-It-Happen Youth Day Celebration. City Hall Park. Burlington, VT. All ages.
Settimes:1:00-2:15PM 2:45PM-4:00PM
- 6/7 The Boathouse. Saugatuck MI.
- 6/8 Bells Ecentric Cafe. Kalamazoo, MI.
- 6/9 The Wild Hare. Chicago IL.
- 6/10 Red Dock Cafe. Saugatuck, MI.
- 6/23 The Gathering. Pulaski, NY. 1AM (really 6/24 in the AM).
- 6/30 "Benefit for the Livestrong Foundation" @ the Amato Center. Milford NH. ALL AGES!!!
- 8/17, 8/18, 8/19 1st annual ROOT DOWN ON BETHEL FARM. Hillsboro, NH. Our own festival with Yoga, Camping, hiking and more bands TBA!!!
- 8/25 VT Reggae Fest
(afternoon set. Time TBA)
- 9/8 Pondstock. Plattsburgh NY. 4:15pm. ALL AGES!!!
- 10/31 Halloween Bash @ Green Mountain College. Poultney VT. ALL AGES. STUDENTS ONLY.

More TBA...all shows 21+ and at 9:00pm unless noted.


As always if you wanna help out and do street team (myspace promo, hanging up posters, handing out flyers, etc) in return for free tix and merch shoot us a message back. Be friends with the street team on myspace: click here


Come ROC out and have a good time, and say what's up.

See you soon!

P.S. Sorry if you got this by mistake or it annoyed you. Just block our myspace account if you don't want to ever recieve a message from us ever again.

This kind of thing is what separates bands with talent from bands with talent and fans. These guys tour constantly, and make a special effort to be right in it with their fans. So much so that they're going to do yoga and go hiking with them! Their fans are their friends!

If you're planning to start a band and you actually care if people come to see you, take a cue from Roots of Creation. This is what it takes.


The Crimea give away their record for free

the crimeaThe Crimea are distributing their new record Secrets of the Witching Hour for free in a .zip file on their website:
To be super quick, we're pushing the free on-line release to... now!!! 'Secrets Of The Witching Hour' is ready to go, and awaiting your MP3 player of choice everywhere as of NOW.
Just head towards www.thecrimea.net
and let your mouse do the work. Nice and simple.

Originally the plan had been to release the record free later this month, but when a few media outlets picked up on the story the band decided (smartly) to take advantage of the attention while they had it and pushed the date up.

What's interesting about this is that Tragedy Rocks, their awesome debut, was released on a major and yielded a single ("Lottery Winners on Acid") that performed very well in the UK. Not well enough, because they got dropped. But this is a band that has been through the major label meatgrinder and have decided to take distribution into their own hands, to theoretically reap the benefits of increased awareness in live revenue.

Expect to see more and more bands trying this.

Previously: Socratic did the same thing.