…between a craftsman/artist and your friend with a cellphone:
Category - Digest
… to the most recent technology shift. Just in time to get clobbered by the next one…
First, Billboard has reported that…
For the third time this year — and only the fourth time ever — the year-to-date total sales of digital albums have exceeded those of CDs.
How long did that take, about ten years?
Let’s see, when did iTunes start selling downloads. April 28, 2003. So, yeah, just a little over ten years.
That’s important, because it tells us how long it takes for something that seems unlikely one day to become “mainstream” the next. It’s the statistical flip side of “it can’t happen here.”
Which is significant, because of the insights offered in another piece that was published today. David Ross’s Nekst.biz posted an interview with Billboard’s Glenn Peoples that goes into considerable detail about how music online is already shifting from downloads to streaming:
…half of the country listens to Internet radio on a regular basis (monthly), so that’s mainstream behavior, but there is still room for growth…The streaming model is set to grow for the foreseeable decade.
There is much more to the analysis than that (obviously). But that might be all you need to know.
The first item tells us how much has changed in the past decade. The second item tells us now much is going to change in the coming decade.
All of the above was written while listening my Bill Frisell channel on Pandora. Which is now playing Pat Metheny.
The Celestial Jukebox abounds. Along with newsfeed irony.
Life is good.
Another “Only In Nashville” moment…
I’ve gotten to know Irene Kelley a little bit through my association with The 1861 Project. She has contributed several co-writes and vocals to Volumes 1 and 2 of that series, and will be appearing on Volume 3 when it is released this spring as well.
I don’t really know Irene’s whole career story. I gather that she had a major label deal for a while, but was perhaps one of those talents for whom being shoehorned into mainstream commercial country was not exactly an ideal fit. What I do know is that she remains a highly respected songwriter and is a delightful singer, gifted with one of those voices that is so clear and refreshing you could listen to it all day.
It has been over a decade since Irene has released an album of new recordings, but it’s been worth the wait. Last week she released Pennsylvania Coal (iTunes), a loving, bluegrass-flavored reminiscence of growing up in the coal mining country of her parents and grandparents.
The production on Pennsylvania Coal was guided by Mark Fain (another stalwart from The 1861 Project) who created just the right sound for Irene – to my ears a much more suitable sonic environment than what I’ve heard of her earlier country recordings.
I was hired to photograph Irene’s CD release party at the Station Inn last Friday night. In preparation for the event, I listened to a preview of the new CD, and one track that I was most looking forward to hearing was You Are Mine (iTunes), which features vocal harmonies by Irene singing with her two equally talented daughters, Sara Jean and Justyna.
As soon as I heard You Are Mine I gave myself a personal assignment – in addition to covering the entire show – of getting a definitive shot of the three Kelley women singing together.
I couldn’t get that shot during the show. When they sang “You Are Mine” together, each of the girls (yes, yes, I know… women…) had to take their own microphone, and so were spread out across the stage. The resulting photo is rather flat, with the usual microphone in front of their faces.
After the show, I persuaded them to return to the stage and gather around a single microphone in order to recreate the moment for the sake of the photo at the top of this post.
However, rather than singing You Are Mine, these three angels started harmonizing on a rendition of Crosby Stills and Nash’s Helplessly Hoping. Hearing this his was an unexpected delight, the close three-part harmonies so brilliant that I could easily imagine, “this is how Irene raised these girls, riding around in the car, singing songs like this together… ”
All I could do was watch them through the viewfinder and fire away… it was not until I got home and looked at the files that I could exhale and think to myself, once again… “only in Nashville…”
I would dearly love to offer a player with some tracks from Irene’s new CD, but it is not available for streaming yet. The best I can do is offer a track from The 1861 Project. So please enjoy one of my favorite tracks from Volume 1, Horse Without A Rider:
For more information on having your next performance professionally photographed, please visit
Part 1: How I Got Here
The ground was first tilled in October, 1991.
That’s when my-then-future-ex-wife and I did a vacation exchange – our house on Maui for a home outside of Atlanta, GA. The occasion was our annual ‘Fall Tour’, something we tried to do almost every year by spending a couple of weeks in a deciduous climate, some place where the leaves changed color – which is not something we ever saw when we lived in Los Angeles or Hawaii, the two places where I had been living since graduating from college and leaving the east coast in 1973.
There were a couple of influences already starting to work on me: I’d been listening incessantly to a new Kenny Loggins CD, Leap of Faith (Spotify link), and reading a book by Harry Browne about How I Found Freedom in An Unfree World (Amazon). Those two things already had me thinking a Big Change was coming down the pike.
Meanwhile, in other news… The Europeans are beginning to take a dim view of US control of the Interwebs…
The European Union’s executive body is raising pressure to reduce U.S. influence on the Internet’s infrastructure, after revelations of widespread U.S. surveillance activities have caused what it calls a “loss of confidence” in the global network’s current makeup.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will propose the adoption of “concrete and actionable steps” to globalize essential Web functions–like the assignment of so-called top-level domain names–that are still contractually linked to the U.S. government, according to a draft policy paper seen by The Wall Street Journal.
I don’t know that I trust the EU’s Communications Command and Control structures any more than I like the U.S.’s… this is probably an internecine turf war: The EU doesn’t like the US/NSA monitoring our communications only because it presents a challenge to the EU’s ability to do precisely the same thing.
I am reminded (as I am often) of an observation that somebody made back in the heyday of Napster: “The labels don’t like Napster ripping off the artists because it interferes with the labels’ ability to rip off the artists…” Or something to that effect.
I think the same principal probably applies here.
Like everybody else in the country, I’m thinking this morning about The Beatles.
I’m posting because I want to pass along a piece I heard on NPR’s Weekend Edition/Saturday about the first live concert The Beatles performed after their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on Feb 9, 1964 – fifty years ago today.
Their first concert was two days later in Washington DC.
The centerpiece of this NPR report is an interview with Mike Mitchell, at the time an 18-year-old photographer who somehow landed the plum gig of shooting this Beatles first U.S. concert. The report revisits the venue, now a derelict building used mostly for a parking lot.
What struck me was the part where Scott Simon asks, “So what did they look like close up?”
And Mike Mitchell answers,
I’ve said before that they kind of were an alien species to us… At that point they looked incredibly fresh, you know, like a fresh iteration of the human race. Read More
…This time with a Spotify player for the new CD (scroll down)
We had another one of those “Only In Nashville” kind of nights last night when Suzy Bogguss hosted an outstanding lineup the 3rd and Lindsley Bar & Grill.
Suzy is one of the few artists (and in this case, I use that overused term consciously and deliberately) who achieved some stardom during the “Country Music Integrity Scare” of the 1990s. A lot of the performers who achieved some profile during that period have since disappeared down the backside of the arc of stardom, but Suzy Bogguss keeps turning out great new recordings and remains an absolutely engaging and entertianing performer. I’ve been a fan all along and I’m pleased to see she’s still turning out great music.
Last night at 3rd & Lindsley she opened her own show, joined on stage by Matraca Berg and Gretchen Peters for the ensemble they call “Wine, Women and Song” – offering some of the sweetest three part harmonies since “The Trio” with Emmy, Linda, and Dolly.
That was followed by the real reason for the night, the official release of Lucky, Suzi’s new collection of Merle Haggard songs. For this set she was joined by some of the finest players on the planet: Charlie Chadwick on bass, Chris Scruggs on all sorts of things, Guthrie Trapp on electric guitar, Pat Bergeson on guitars and harmonica, and a drummer, whose name I will insert into this space when somebody reminds me who that was …
Update (Feb 12 ’04): Good News!
Lucky was released yesterday and is already available on Spotify. So have yourself a listen: