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Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Monday, December 19, 2011 2 comments

Christmas Cheer, all in one place

Mrs. Fetched thinks I’m grinchy. Not so, I just prefer to focus on the social aspects of Christmas — family, feast, reflection — than to make a gaudy show of things. Still, there’s a few things I’ve done over the years to mark the occasion. Some of the newcomers to the free-range insane asylum could easily miss them in the 1300+ posts that have accumulated over the past 6 years, so I’ll gather them together here for you.

A Christmas Story — Santa Claus lives in a single-wide trailer in Lumpkin County, Georgia. Come read about my fictional encounter with The Big Guy.

Podcast from FAR Manor #3 — a special holiday song, and several contributors shared their earliest holiday memories. (I wish I had the time to do more podcasts.)

For This Night — my first #FridayFlash, posted as such. It's about The Slaughter of the Innocents, from the viewpoint of two soldiers.

Music! — the “special holiday song” from the above podcast, as a standalone MP3.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010 6 comments

Self-Published Publicity (NSFW?)

… or “Boobs, Books, and Buzz.” Or "Marketing 101 in the Internet Age.”

Have you heard the names “Hayley Williams” and “Paramore”? Until Saturday, I hadn’t, although Daughter Dearest insists that I’ve heard some of their music on the radio. Anyway, this self-snapped shot (look at the angle of her left arm) appeared in her TwitPic stream on Thursday night — OK, I’ve slightly doctored it to keep this post PG-rated:

Hayley Williams topless pic (censored)

The pic was pulled down, but not soon enough for it to get copied (obviously, see above) and the old Whoops, I got hacked excuse popped up in her tweetstream. 'Course, some folks checked the pic’s EXIF data and found the shot was snapped about eight minutes before it got posted… making the possibility of a hack, shall we say, extremely remote. A much more believable explanation would have been “it was supposed to be for my boyfriend and I messed up when I emailed it.”

For those of you who have to see the original, I found out about the whole kerfuffle in an [!!!!!NSFW!!!!!] article from TheRegister [!!!!!NSFW!!!!!]; it includes the picture in all its nude-tastic glory as I type (and ElReg tends to give the meaty middle finger to take-down notices).

So… this all happens on Thursday. I read about it on Saturday. And by Monday, I’m off to Amazon’s MP3 store to check out Paramore’s music selection… which turns out to be pleasant to listen to as well. There has been a ton of press about it, and “Hayley Williams” is a trending topic on Twitter at the moment — you just can’t buy publicity that good. Hey, if I thought I’d get a huge traffic bump by posting (and taking down) a nudie of myself, I’d go for it too… but my bits just aren’t as interesting to look at. IMHO.

Clothing choices aside, I like her face better in the above shot than the one in a more “turned-out” publicity pic (in which she looks like a Jennifer Aniston clone, not that I think Jen is unpleasant looking). Hayley, lose the makeup and the hair stylist, you look better and more like yourself without them.

Now that I’ve got your attention…

Last week, I mentioned, among other things, J.A. Konrath being the subject of a Publisher’s Weekly hit-piece and his response. This week, he embarks on a fascinating experiment he calls Steal This eBook: he makes available a zip file containing Jack Daniels Stories (one of his own books) in various ebook formats (and a direct link if the first one doesn’t work). The really audacious part is where he asks people to share the file far and wide via the usual “piracy” channels.

Konrath sums up his experiment thus: “I've said repeatedly that there is no proof piracy hurts sales. So I'm manning up and putting my money where my mouth is.” Indeed. This experiment has just sailed, so it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out. But I can already say, Konrath has put one of his books in my reading pile where there were none before. I’ve never been one to shy away from making predictions, so I’ll throw one out here: I think he’ll see a negligible effect on sales for this particular book, and a noticeable uptick in sales of his other books.

Of course, it can be debated (and is being debated in the comments on Konrath’s blog) whether this is actually “piracy” or not — after all, the author himself is encouraging spreading the file far and wide. Perhaps this should be better considered a “loss leader,” an old sales tactic where a store sells one product at a loss in hopes that people will buy other (more profitably marked-up) stuff while they’re grabbing the Great Deal. But successful buzz generation means you have to get people to notice what you’re saying — and is “A free ebook” or “Hey, pirate my ebook!” going to get more notice? Or, in the case of Hayley Williams, did “hey, music” or “BOOBZIEZ!!!!” turn more heads? (Big hint: of the thousands of bands out there, who’s getting the attention right now?)

Publicity is not for the faint of heart, and DIY publicity doubly so. I think there are some lessons to be learned here, though, to make things a little less scary…

1) You can only do this thing once. Williams’s stunt definitely lands in the category of “tough act to follow.” Konrath took a more modest approach, but even if he offers another freebie later on, a lot of people will go “yeah, yeah.”

2) Know what results you’re looking for. I’m guessing that both Konrath and Williams did, and got them.

3) Seize the opportunity when something goes wrong. Sometimes, you might get free publicity in a way you neither expected nor particularly wanted. Once the genie is out of the bottle, no amount of whining nor DMCA take-down notices will get it back in… and you’ll just end up looking clueless and petty. Make it work for you instead. Get out in front of the story so you’ll have at least some control — and for your own sake, don’t come up with a lame explanation that can be easily debunked (e.g. “I got hacked”). On the other hand, if you can extend the controversy (which is an unpleasant way of saying “extend the free publicity”) with a silly comment, it might be worth it.

Consider the sad case of Stephanie Meyer throwing a hissy-fit when an early draft of Midnight Sun* got leaked onto the net — she decided that she’d “been violated” and walked away from the work. To her credit, she soon acquired a partial clue and posted a copy herself (although with the usual “Any retranscription or reproduction is illegal” stuff), but still has no plans to finish it. She would have been far better off, publicity-wise, had she said something like “I’ve been rewriting this and what hits the shelves will be different and far better, it’ll be out on [some date]. Hang in there.”

*Thanks go to Daughter Dearest, a Stephanie Meyer fan, for supplying both the book title and the author name when my memory couldn’t produce either one.

Cheap electronics and public networks have changed creative media forever. It was once said, “freedom of the press applies only to those who can afford a printing press.” Now the electronic equivalent can be purchased for a few hundred bucks new, or sometimes fished out of a dumpster for free. Of course, the old “talent” issue still applies — Sturgeon’s Law says “Ninety percent of everything is crap,” and many would say Sturgeon was an optimist — and so publishers and the recording/movie industry can claim to be a filter for that ninety percent. Still, people like J.A. Konrath are making a comfortable living without having the mass-market appeal that the gatekeepers/filters demand, simply by using the tools available today and finding a way to get noticed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 8 comments

Albums and Insanity

Ether Demo CD album coverI mentioned The Boy coming to church Sunday, but neglected to mention that he had a stack of his band’s demo CD to give to me and a few of his friends. I had to take the car to work yesterday, since it looked like rain and I wanted to bring the work laptop home so I work at home today, and that gave me a chance to listen to the CD.

Like many albums, there are actually one or two decent tracks on there. One was “Hair Piece,” about a guy who’s losing his hair and getting flak from his SO over it. Another was “Cell Hate,” which is a lot shorter than it needs to be… there’s so much to hate about cellphones that it should have been easy to fill up an entire CD with one track.

Which brings us to last night: Daughter Dearest was meeting someone at MalWart who’d borrowed one of my monitors to get it back. Someone else asked her if she could get them some food. She would have, but left her debit card at home (always a good strategy when going to MalWart)… the woman said she’d wait, and DD called us (while the rest of us were picking in the big garden). Mrs. Fetched smelled a rat and decided to come along. We met in town; I took DD’s car home because my monitor was sitting in the front seat and the girlies went back to MalWart. The woman was gone, but they saw a Suzuki Reno for sale and Mrs. Fetched decided DD needed a new vehicle (her Civic is leaking oil again). She called me at home to tell me all about it.

“What do you think?” she asked, as if my input means anything.

I sighed. “Well… if you can figure out how to get that, pay for DD’s college, keep the mortgage up, and all the other bills we have, let me know. Or we can just chase the renters out of the trailer, move back in there, and let them foreclose on this place.”

She laughed. I’m not sure what she found funny about that… with the kids out of the house, I wouldn’t shed a tear over losing this heap.

The only good that came of it was when we were eating lunch in town today, and she started nagging me about looking up the gas mileage on a Reno (nowhere near as good as a Civic, but reason and logic are unwelcome when they clash with the decision already reached). I pulled out my iPod touch, and lo! there was a signal! The county is actually doing something useful with some of our tax money and has wifi available around town “for occasional use by residents and guests of the county,” as the entry page put it. There was some mumbling in the ToS about responsibility, which I took to mean they wouldn’t appreciate people downloading pr0n or warez (or large system updates). Since I was only interested in hitting fueleconomy.gov, checking the weather, and a little Twitter’ing, I was OK.

So that’s the third open wifi I’ve run across out here. Maybe when we go bankrupt, I’ll just do all my net access in town.

Saturday, June 28, 2008 10 comments

Weekend Cinema: The Boy, in Concert

Welcome back to Weekend Cinema, where the time is short, movies are free, and you decide how entertaining it all is!

This time, we’re making an homage to Woodstock, with a home-grown concert video… but not just any concert. This is The Boy’s first performance with Ether, a local-ish punk rock band. Here they are: Ether at Gardner Lake (rather huge, sorry about the bandwidth issues for the dialup folks). The lyrics are… well, not suitable. But I know a lot of the regular readers don’t care too much about that.

The Boy is the one farthest from the camera, wearing white & playing the bass. I stood where I did because that’s where the lighting was best.

Saturday, March 08, 2008 3 comments

Odds and (week)Ends

Yet another collection of happenings and items that didn’t merit their own post. I thought that I wouldn’t have to do these anymore when I started using Twitter, but I don’t always tweet these things and sometimes there are pictures involved. I’m not sure how many of you read the Twitter box (in the margin to the right) anyway — and if your employer has weird IT people like mine does, they block Twitter and you might not be able to read them anyway. But if you join Twitter and follow me, then you’ll get up to the minute updates (when I think to send them).

I had a brief HEFOD (Hardware Engineer Freak-Out Dance) at work yesterday — fortunately, it only took a couple hours that I had to spare. I cleared a couple of major milestones this week, and several minor ones, so I’m pretty content with my work-related productivity this week.

Nine Inch Nails has released a four-CD instrumental compilation they call Ghosts I-IV. They put up the first CD in the set as a free download — I figured if I didn’t like it, The Boy probably would, and grabbed a copy. (If you tried earlier in the week, when they first announced it, they’ve added servers and bandwidth to handle the load.) I’m listening to it now; it’s definitely not what I’d have expected from NiN. I expect it will get airplay on Space Station Soma or other ambient stations before long. I’m keeping it. I doubt The Boy will be thrilled with it though.

(I don’t mean the truck, or the ribbon sticker. I want the oval sticker.)
Save the Ta-Tas
But seriously, I’ll make sure the proceeds are actually going to breast cancer research before I buy one.

Going around to visit some of my blog-buddies… stop by and wish Beth a Hippo Birdie! Meanwhile, Nancy P has gone dark until she finishes writing her next book, so send productivity vibes her way. For that matter, Beth and several other of my writing pals need some productivity vibes as well. Until Nancy’s ready to come back, Kimberly Frost is hosting the “cafe.”

Meanwhile, I’ve got some writing of my own to do (ahem FAR Future ahem), so I’ll be getting on that shortly. Actually, I wrote at least half of the next episode at lunch yesterday, and the three or four episodes after that are already written, so I’ve just got to hook it all up and I might go twice-weekly for the next two or three weeks to make up for being slow on this one. I could use a few productivity vibes as well, as long as Olga (my imaginary BSDM Muse) doesn’t decide to send too many vibes. Right now, I’m typing at a long-ish story that centers around a teenage couple and a mysterious cornfield.

Amazing, how quickly one can type (and accurately!) when squiffed. I’m actually preparing this post Friday night, but jiggered the relative dates (“yesterday” et al) to work with the actual posting time. I hope everyone has a relaxing and/or exciting weekend, depending on how you like it. Lurkers, feel free to say hello and share your weekend plans…

Saturday, December 01, 2007 5 comments

Holiday Music

I did this last year in a podcast, but many of you have started reading this year. So…

Hope you enjoy it! For those of you on dialup, here’s a low-bandwidth version (700K MP3).

Monday, October 08, 2007 8 comments

Moving the Tollbooth

Just in case you haven’t heard yet, the British band Radiohead is taking online pre-orders for their new album. That’s nothing out of the ordinary, except that they are letting the purchasers determine the price they pay — from 46 pence (45 of which is a credit card transaction fee) on up. Daring? Maybe.

Radiohead parted ways with their record label (EMI) when their contract ran out in 2003, which gives them the freedom to market their new music online without RIAA interference (or the UK equivalent, whose name escapes me at the moment). Considering that a recording artist’s cut of a retail CD sale is maybe 10%, and assuming a new-release CD goes for $18 (which is typical in the US, not so sure about the UK), then you’d guess that an average sale price of $1.80 average will net them what they would have gotten in royalties. Actually, we should account for recording expenses and hosting/bandwidth fees as well — but they're getting free promotion from everyone (including me) and I’m pretty sure that a $5 average sale price is going to put them ahead of the curve.

Yesterday, The Register interviewed Gerd Leonhard, a media consultant who is putting up his newest book, The End of Control, as a set of PDFs. According the the El Reg article, he writes lovely sentiments on his blog like “Another 12 months for this Radiohead experiment to become the default approach” and “move the tollbooth further down.” To be sure, the labels that comprise the RIAA membership are trapped in an old business model that worked well (for the executives, at least) for a long time — they will not be able to adapt quickly, and it’s just as likely that they will drive away their last retail customers with “piracy” lawsuits. Naturally, they will blame everything and everyone but themselves as they sink into the pool of irrelevance where the buggy-whip manufacturers of the early 20th century are likely waiting to receive the first industrial casualty of the 21st.

The recording industry is quick to remind us that they provide valuable services: production, promotion, distribution — and indirectly, with top-shelf acts (like Radiohead) subsidizing the up-and-comers. But when production is a matter of copying files to a server, and distribution is iTunes or eMusic (or services that wish they were iTunes or eMusic), what’s left? Promotion? When is the last time you heard or saw an ad for a new CD coming out? (Actually, I suspect that promotion these days amounts to paying Clear Channel and other giants to play selected tracks on the air, a practice known as “payola” and once frowned upon.) But I’m sure I’m not the only person who rarely listens to commercial radio nowadays. The last CD we bought was an act Daughter Dearest heard on MySpace. The next two CDs I buy will be from groups I’ve heard on streaming stations.

Leonhard says, “The real money is not in the CDs. It's in the gigs, the merchandising, the sponsorships. To make that money, you have to let people further down the highway before they arrive at the tollbooth.” But how do you get the people to the tollbooth? Thus, I still see a role for traditional music publishers: as incubators for new acts. Not nearly as lucrative as it used to be, partly because promotion is all they really have left to offer and they’ll have to actually do some of that promotion — including getting tracks into the hands of streaming stations and giving away some free samples.

Aspiring writers, unfortunately, only enjoy part of the potential that the Internet brings to aspiring musicians. Non-fiction writers, like Leonhard (or my day job, for that matter) can self-publish non-fiction to promote consulting or similar businesses… the book becomes a loss leader, much like a free music track, in the hopes that people will like what they read and pay for related services. But fiction writers, especially novelists, have it more difficult: as I’ve said before, people won’t abandon paperbacks until e-book readers with hi-res screens sell for $10 in the grocery checkout line. In the meantime, it’s a lot harder to print and bind a book than it is to burn a CD — and writers don’t have 10,000 people lining up to buy tickets to a reading.

But the Internet does, however, open up possibilities for new kinds of fiction. I humbly submit that FAR Future is one example: by the time I finished the story, and it wound its way through the publishing system and onto the shelves, it would be perhaps two or three years to 2012 instead of five, the writing would be on the wall, and the parts I guess wrong would make the whole story less believable.

But here’s the bottom line: can authors make a living publishing fiction online? and if so, how? I have an idea along those lines — but like Radiohead and their new album, it would likely work best with an established fan base.

Monday, April 30, 2007 2 comments

Saturday, February 24, 2007 3 comments

Podcast from FAR Manor #4 — News, phones, music

After an unwanted January hiatus, I have returned to the podwaves! I’ve got the latest news from the free-range insane asylum, cellphone chatter, and an interview with Daughter Dearest’s band.

Listen up! direct link (14.7MB MP3) | archive page (listen online)

Here’s a shot of the band, practicing in the big garage…

…and their Myspace page, with more music and even a logo!


00:00 - Intro
01:51 - News from FAR Manor
04:33 - Shiny Things, the all-cellphone edition (scoring iPhone predictions, Samsung Sync)
09:33 - An interview with the band “Short Buss”
23:52 - Wrap-up

Thanks to everyone out there listening to these podcasts. If you have comments or suggestions, feel free to leave comments here, on the archive page, or email text (or even audio comments) to FARfetched58 at aim.com.

Production Notes
Audio was recorded using an XtremeMac MicroMemo iPod accessory, a Samsung Sync, and a Blue Snowball USB mike (and that’s why the audio changes here and there). Audio files were edited on a MacBook Pro, running 10.4.8, using Audacity 1.3.2 beta.

Theme music: “Jump Around” by Psycho Maniak (no link/contact info available — help!).

Audio content hosted on:
The Internet Archive

Sunday, January 21, 2007 3 comments


A “weekend” is when you try to compress seven days of living into two, so it seems.

Dad got here Friday night and spent the weekend; this is his break in the drive to Florida for a month or so. It’s always fun to have him around. We have long talks about whatever, joke about getting older, watch some football (more TV than I usually watch in several months), drink some beer, and just chill. He’ll be leaving tomorrow morning for the last leg of the trip.

Daughter Dearest had her second All-State chorus audition yesterday morning — and got a perfect score! She’s pretty happy about it, although the second rehearsal is mainly a formality to make sure the kids have been practicing the music. During the waiting-around part, she ran into a couple of old friends who are now at other schools, so that was also good.

Her band members came by to practice/rehearse this afternoon. As cold and rainy as it has been this weekend, the garage just wasn’t terribly hospitable. They retreated to the house a couple of times for hot chocolate, and indulged me with an interview for the podcast (I hope to finish it up by next weekend, you know how that goes by now… should be up a week from Wednesday), then called it a day. I need to order a couple of wicks for my kerosene heater.

That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it absorbed much of the last couple of days.

Monday, August 21, 2006 2 comments

Making something of bleeps and boops

Sometimes, following links takes you to some odd places.

This particular oddity odyssey started with a MacDevCenter article, which led O’ReillyNet, and from there to an article on BoingBoing.

Near the bottom are two links to audio files. The first is a short, silly thing made of System 7 MacOS beeps over a funky beat; the second is a complete song whose soundtrack seems to be made up entirely of Nintendo snippets and MacOS beeps, plus the MacOS startup chime. The strangest thing about it is that it works.

Go have a listen and be amazed, amused, or disgusted.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 3 comments

Musical humor

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) is perhaps the first US Senator to be immortalized with a techno remix of his infamous “series of tubes” speech. Absolutely hilarious!

Friday, June 30, 2006 1 comment

Friday Night Cinema

You get paid on Friday... next Friday... and you don’t have time to drag yourself to the theater anyway.

Tonight’s selection is a horror flick... or it would be horrifying if you could only stop laughing at the soundtrack. Go watch it and see I’m right.

Soundtrack: Jonathan Coulton

Video/machinima: Mike “Spiff” Booth, a program manager at Adobe. If he manages FrameMaker, I understand why the thing has been languishing lately: he’s too busy making silly machinima to pay attention to his product. :-P j/k!!!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 No comments

What’s worse than a song stuck in your head?

Answer: one stuck in your head that you’re dancing to.

This is all Daughter Dearest’s fault. Night before last, she introduced me to Cascada. iTunes has her album, Every Time We Touch, but for a whole CD’s worth of tunes I’d rather spend a couple extra bucks on the disc than download the songs and deal with even Apple’s lightweight DRM.

So yesterday we were out & about, Mrs. Fetched and Daughter Dearest were getting DD some tan pants for her new job (she starts Friday). I figured instead of hanging around a clothing store, which is right up there with a trip to the dentist in my book, I’d pop into Target on the way home to see if they had the Cascada CD. They did, I called the wimmin to let them know, and headed on home.

So I loaded up the iPod and gave it a listen. Whoa... just the stuff I like: high-energy, massively upbeat. And then I started spontaneously twitching to the song, now well stuck in my head. Thank God I didn’t have any meetings today. As it was, I was constantly trying to keep a lid on it while anyone else was around. (If you want to hear what has been bedeviling me all day, hit the above link and select “Everytime We Touch” on her jukebox.)

It’s finally flushing out... maybe because I’m listening to DI.fm Hardcore and I have something external to make me twitch.

Monday, June 05, 2006 No comments

This is SO true

Go visit Shout Out Out Out and click the link for “Forever Indebted.” The lyrics are quite rude, but sometimes The Truth doesn’t come in pretty packages.

For some light humor with family-friendly lyrics, try the next song down: “Nobody Calls Me Unless They Want Something." Perfect song for the Robot Dance, and I can relate.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006 No comments


That’s what it sounds like to this non-metal fan, anyway. The Boy just handed me a CD entitled, “The Death of Black and White,” which he says is the demo CD for his band. They finally got off the dime and did it! Six songs, a tad over 17 minutes, no “explicit” lyrics that I could tell (but I couldn’t catch about 90% of the lyrics anyway). Ironically, the track “29 Seconds” is the longest cut on the CD, nearly 4 minutes.

The sound is a tad muddy, no highs at all. I think they recorded it in somebody’s living room, but it’s better than I could have done (I tried in the detached garage last year). I’ve not figured out how to keep the drums from over-freeking-whelming the rest of the band; maybe the living room acoustics had something to do with it. Or maybe they put the drummer outside, or just recorded him separately and mixed the rest of it in. Or maybe they just had somebody who knows what they’re doing; The Boy claims the guy who recorded it was with Staind before they got big.

He came home with a small stack of CDs, which he plans to hand out to just about everybody he knows.


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