Brexit With Strawberries and Milk

From what I can tell (and that isn’t much) from the various articles and screeds about “Brexit” (which sounds like crunchy breakfast cereal, I want some), it’s either a medium-sized economic disaster, or The Beginning Of The End Of Civilization. Oh, and Happy Freedom Patriotic Flag-Wave Rah-Rah Populist Nationalist Liberty! – to some. Many pints and ridiculous pub fights scheduled for tonight, throughout the UK and beyond. Enjoy. The “Leave” vote (I love that language, don’t you? I mean where are they going? Gonna put an outboard motor on England and sail it to Freedom-Land-Place?) the Leave vote, I think, was based on emotions rather than thoughts. And I get it. Things are bad. “I vote for DIFFERENT!” is a natural reaction. It might make things infinitely worse, but at least, at least, things will be different. Good luck. Congratulations. I wish you success and happiness.

“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
-Hunter S. Thompson

RIP Yahoo Web / Media Player

LAST AND FINAL UPDATE OF THIS EVER-EVOLVING POST! June 25, 2015

I’ve been meaning to say – beloved WordPress open-source geniuses have solved this whole issue and you don’t need a plugin or anything else to manage audio streams and downloads and playlists anymore, just WordPress. This has been true for a while now I just now finally got around to updating ye olde “Yahoo Player Lament” post =). Done. Closed. Le fin. Or as Jonathan Richman said, bye bye, bye bye. I’ll leave the rest of it and the comments below for posterity as it was such a lively thread for those of us who care madly about this stuff.

LADEEEEZ AND GENTLEMEN! Musicians and bloggers, audio web geeks and music lovers of every stripe the world over, we have an UPDATE! 10-2-2014 :->

It’s not: an update for the dearly departed Yahoo Web Player. It’s not: a solution for streaming video. It’s not: a solution for platforms other than WordPress. It is: a badass new WordPress plugin for audio streaming that works on (praise all that is holy) all major platforms including iOS, Android, etc. I am testing out the free version here. Pro version purchase imminent, as it allows for multiple playlists, drag and drop ordering of songs and other features which will be essential for the “power-user.” Wanted to make sure it hums along and works as intended and so far yes yes yes it does.

I will leave this thread open for further improvements, revelations, or laments about our old pal YMP / YWP. But I’m pretty sure the audio-player wp-plugin question has been finally solved by something solid, cross-platform, stable, and easy to use. Get the plugin here.

UPDATE 2-22-2014! Thanks Jaap for the Playlist function update! Awesome work, it’s great to see that part working again. Thanks everyone for your kind feedback and notes. Glad to see so much interest in this. Please feel free to post any links to your uses of the player, or blog posts about this subject, in the thread below.

UPDATE 1-28-2014! Scroll down to the more recent comments or click here for the latest exciting updates around this.

UPDATE 8-30-2013! OK, to summarize from the comment thread, what we’ve found is that you can host your own instance of the player and modify it to fit your needs. You can download it from here. This is unfortunately not a solution for bloggers who use shared servers and can’t install and run the software locally. What yahoo had going was a neat little snippet of code that activated the player from any domain, and served it up from Yahoo’s servers. The good news is if you can install it, it runs exactly the same way as the remotely served version used to. We have it running again on publicdomain4u.com and it seems to work perfectly. For those going this route: it’s important to note that you need to poke through the player code and make sure that all of the elements are served locally. There still are some images and bits that come off Yahoo servers, and given that they’re not supporting this software anymore, it’s a safe bet those elements will go dark sooner or later. It’s a hell of a piece, as others have stated here, it’s the best web media player out there, ESPECIALLY for music, by a country mile.

Big props to our server admin and chief propeller-hat, Lou Parmelee at Planet Six String for getting the player humming for us again!

UPDATE 8-20-2013! See encouraging developments in the comments below, and feel free to join in the discussion.

UPDATE 8-14-2013! It’s gone again. Bye bye. Yahoo Media Player, or Yahoo Web Player, or whatever it was called. How sad, that was the coolest thing Yahoo ever made.

UPDATE 7-8-2013! It’s on, the Yahoo Web Player is not discontinued, turns out that report was erroneous. You just need to change the URL to access it. View the very simple fix, right here. Truly happy news.

ORIGINAL POST:

Ack! Yahoo turned off their WebPlayer service. What a bummer for all the sites out there that used it. I used it extensively in PublicDomain4U, various other music blogs, and the band sites I manage. I know of roughly a bazillion other music sites that also used it. This was a simple way to make all your .mp3 or other media types load automatically in a neat little player – just by adding a line or two of code to your head tag.

I had wondered how Yahoo benefited from this magnanimous service to the Webmasters of the world. I had wondered what their expense in tech resources and cash amounted to, for making it available. If anyone knows of a media player that works similarly to the late, great, Yahoo WebPlayer, please leave it, or your #$%^&’s and laments about this, in the comments below.

For now, without any explanation or discussion, webplayer.yahoo.com redirects to the front page of Yahoo. I did find one article, on webpronews, which explains that Yahoo is shutting down a stack of services including the redundant AltaVista search engine. That’s understandable. But the Yahoo WebPlayer was a great service, and it will be sorely missed by myself and everyone else who wove it into the fabric of their websites.

T.V. Guns, Block Off The Streets To Shoot..

This song is about guns, media, and idiocy. It’s from the Uptones’ “East Bay Orbits” CD, you can get it at iTunes or Amazon, or download it from the link below if you like. Here are the lyrics. My bandmates all really came through on this track, and patiently put up with about 100 re-writes before it felt ready. In the end, I’m really happy with how it came out. I wish the subject matter never even existed, but, as the song goes, “It’s always on.”

The Uptones – “T.V. Guns”

tvguns-design2

Too Many Links With Coffee Man

Actual photo of the author at work, snapped candidly by Shannon Wheeler.
Actual photo of the author at work,
snapped by Shannon Wheeler.

Not enough time this AM to write much about any of these, but here are a few items which I found interesting, worthy of attention, or appalling.

The Death Of Expertise, and its consequences

Yes, yes, yes! A great read about a point I’ve tried to get my head around. Tom Nichols articulates it well. I hope his article “goes viral.”

911 Museum GIFT SHOP ?!?!?

No, no, no! My god are they serious? This would be funny except that it’s not.

FCC moves toward obliteration of Net Neutrality

Disaster, disaster, disaster. I hope everyone keeps making noise about this. It’s not a done deal yet and it should never be.

Mission Road – © Michael Webster

Finally, in lieu of the usual bouncing baby goats I like to put at the end of these “coffee link” posts, here’s Michael Webster’s “opera home movie,” Mission Road. The composer sang and played all the parts, conducting himself via a video of himself. Did you follow that?  Words by Sam Beckett. This will get its own post later, but I had to share it meanwhile as I’m thinking it over. Magnificent work.

Bye now, off to gym and the greater reaches of Tuesday.
See you round the bend.

THE STONE ROSES And The Endless 80’s Cavern Of Reverb

The Stone Roses‘ great debut album just turned 25 years old, and there are some interesting articles and radio shows about it. I was struck when I listened to it again for the first time in many years that 1) I still love it and 2) my gawd but they put a lot of reverb on that puppy. It was a thing in the 80’s, to generally heap gobs of echo and ‘verb on records. Didn’t work on some records. Works great on this one. Here’s the whole beautiful, shimmering, dark, light, shiny, mood-altering thing. The 2nd song, “She Bangs The Drums” is such delicious ear candy, I used to put it on repeat and just swim in it for a while. You can find this at a record store or iTunes, Amazon or wherever, and then you wont have to listen to the commercial spots in this youtube version. But here ya go – the holy grail of Britpop. I also enjoyed this scathing and hilarious indictment of the entire Britpop movement that followed in the wake of this record.

Unhappy With Copyright Law, Amazon Makes Up Its Own Royalty Rates

More fun in the ongoing saga of corporations trying to profit from music and pay rights holders as little as possible.

Today’s poster-villain for blatantly attempting to abuse intellectual property rights is web colossus, Amazon. Seems for their new music streaming service, they are trying to bypass US Copyright law and define their own royalty rates. Read some of the sordid details at digitalmusicnews.com.

To complete the absurdity, apparently Amazon also included a clause that forbids publishers from removing their songs from Amazon, if they keep them up on any of the other streaming services (like Spotify, Google Play etc). You may need to read that last sentence again. No, this is not from an Onion article.

The entire contract is here if this fascinates you morbidly and you have air sickness bags. It will be interesting to see how much of this actually flies. I guess that’s one way to start a negotiation: “Give us the house, and your firstborn, and the shirt off your back, and then stand there and beat yourself with a mallet for our amusement forever.” Why not? It sets the tone for lively discussion.

Meanwhile, to be fair, Amazon’s MP3 store remains a great alternative for people who don’t like the iTunes store experience, and they pay similar decent royalty rates for downloads. As the streaming field gets more crowded, who knows what will come of it for publishers and artists?

Obsolescence, Monetization, and Zen & The Art Of Guitar-Never-Upgrading

Random Geek Complaints!

1. I am very fond of my antiquated 2008 Apple laptop and do not wish to upgrade. Ever. But I must eventually as this machine will expire. And I will then have to get a new one and be sad. Why can’t it be like a well made guitar, that just works forever if you take care of it? No, everything electronic must be upgraded, thrown away, replaced, so that we may have more landfill and less peace of mind. It’s important. I understand. I am one with the Borg.

hamster-running-teh-interweb
Actual footage of the Interwebs main hub running at peak capacity

2. As part of my experiment in using a non-stealthy browser to see what the hamsters that run the Interwebs will do, I have observed that they like to show me ads for things I have already bought. As well of course, as ads for things I have merely looked at. If you hit some store sites even once, then instantly their ads are everywhere. I’m sure the best minds in advertising and marketing have conventions to discuss and argue the efficacy of this. But for me, there’s actually a backlash effect. You see, I might have bought some shoes yesterday from one particular site, but no, their ads are annoying, it creeped me out that they “followed” me, and just no. It turned me off. So, there they inadvertently spent a few pennies to lose my business. How does that figure into the great revenue model in the sky? Am I an anomaly in this regard? God this is good coffee. I got it from Peet’s. Now if I publish this post, will Peet’s wallop me with ads? Well, nothing will stop me from buying their product. So I suppose it all depends how motivated one is in the first place.

I never thought I’d be in the advertising business. But it seems we all are now, all of us “content providers,” and we would like our content to be “monetized” somehow, thank you. Bands, songwriters, music publishers, authors, bloggers, etc. are “providers of digital content.” One can choose to be utterly horrified, or one can embrace it. I choose both. Anyway, yesterday there was a great April Fools day post on Digital Music News with the headline:

Spotify To Pay Musicians $1 Per Play

I guffawed. It’s an ongoing battle in the music biz, in which companies attempt to make money off of other peoples’ copyrights and recordings, and pay as little as possible for the right to do that. It’s also an odd moment now where it becomes increasingly clear that the “lean forward” music “user” is a rare bird indeed. Most people are “lean back” music “users” (I just have to put those terms in quotes, or my intestines will leap out my nostrils), meaning they lean back and let others present music to them. They are not scouring the bins at Amoeba or digging through the blog-o-sphere looking for new music discoveries, most people are simply not doing that these days. And who can blame them? There are things like global warming, rent and mortgages, tuitions and vet bills and the existence of Sarah Palin to consider. And of course the lean-forward crowd is largely made of young folks, who generally have less money to spend, and they are also accustomed to the idea that music is readily available for free. What a pickle.

Changing The Subject To FUN Things Involving MAKING Music! Which is still fun.

I have the same guitar I have played since 1983. It was a gift from my Uptones bandmate Charles Stella. He received it as a gift from John Oates of Hall and Oates fame, who had received it as a gift from the luthier who built it. It didn’t work so well for their hands, but it immediately worked magically for mine. So I borrowed it and I’ve been playing it ever since. I used it on a recording just this weekend with my Uptones bandmate Mike Stevens at Lost Monkey Studios, and it sounded beautiful. Guitars are funny that way, they are all so different. This is the only electric guitar I play now. Years ago I stopped using a Les Paul or Strat or anything else. I can do anything I want with this one slab o’ wood. The one modification? Recently I had Al Milburn remove the tone pot from the circuit. I never roll off any treble at the guitar anyway, so why have that capacitor and extra wire attached, degrading the signal a tiny bit? And yes, I noticed it sounded even a little better after we did this.

Fervent electric guitar pickup opinion alert!

I know many would disagree, but whatever, it’s music, so our subjective opinions rule, in our own little worlds, don’t they? Here goes: passive pickups are good, active pickups are bad. Active pickups (ones that require batteries) sound icky and squeaky clean, like I think a hospital smell would sound like, if it could. Use passive pickups. A single or double coil electromagnetic pickup. This invention was completed decades ago and has not been improved upon since. The electric guitar was perfected by the early 1960’s. Unlike laptops and phones, no need to upgrade, for a lifetime of playing happiness. If you need to get EMG’s or other active pickups, do so because you want to dispose of some money and acquire bad tone. Not because you believe some nonsense about a revolutionary new advancement in electric guitar tone technology. There are none. Tone doesn’t come from a fancy pickup or your amp or your cryogenically frozen alloy guitar strings. Tone comes from your fingers.

Hey, the laptoppy still works. Good. The space bar on this thing is worn through almost like Willie Nelson’s guitar. This post got long. That was good coffee.

On the other hand, here’s how you DO get me to Like yr Band Page!

Sarchasm-Help_I_Need_An_AdultI felt a little bad posting this little screed the other day about bands asking people to “Like” their FB pages before hearing their music. Today I have a happy footnote to that!  A young band sent me a nice email asking if we could put them on a show sometime, with a link to their bandcamp page. So I popped over and pressed play, and it is freakin’ GREAT! So I’m a fan now. So, I went over to their FB page and clicked “Like” and added them to the Uptones’ likes as well. And now I’m posting it here. Because it really rocks my ass, OK? Not because I’m being nice. This is firmly in the East Bay punk / ska / power-pop tradition, and it really stands on its own merit. The lyrics are sincere and smart and passionate, the combo playing is tight and dynamic, the guitar playing and vocals are lovely and powerful, the production is marvelous and look. Here’s the thing. I pressed play on song 1, and it kept my riveted attention all the way to the end, and kinda made my morning. I like it because these kids put in WORK and turned in a real gem of an album, for which I have no problem sharing my “Like” with the world. Let’s see, will bandcamp let me embed this whole thing, along with Buy and Share links? Let’s see.. Yes! Like! Heh.. Where’s the “Love” button? Listen to this:

How Not To Get Me To “Like” Your Band Page!

not_likeSigh. Invited to “Like” a band on FB. I go to their page. Band looks cool. I click Play and it prompts me to Like before I can hear ’em. Not doing it!

I’ve been sharing some of my bands’ music for free on the Internet since 1998. If someone likes us, great! But I’m not going to ask for a “Like” unless you actually like us and want to help spread the word about us. Gawd. That said, you can hear The Uptones at our FB page, heck yeah we’d appreciate your Liking! Love it even more if you like it enough to want to buy our music at iTunes or put it on a playlist in Spotify or play the Uptones channel in Pandora. We get a little revenue from that and it really means a lot to us. Encourages us to release more music, I mean we have a way to distribute our music world wide without having to invest in CD’s or deal with storage and shipping. It’s potentially a great new world emerging for recording artists as the subscription sites and youtube etc. all figure out how to pay the artists and copyright owners in this era of nearly universal access to recorded music.

But the work has to stand on its own merit! If you’re going to compete with a bazillion other records, compete! Make the best record you can, and then let people hear it somehow. I know it’s not easy to choose the best ways to get your work noticed in today’s crazy playing field, but the model of using a “Like” as currency before even hearing the work, is just kukoo. I might just “Like” the band that invited me, then listen to their stuff, but then I’ll be in the awkward position of having to un-Like them if I didn’t dig their music. Or leave the “Like” standing, thus recommending something I’m not down with, and diminishing the value of my real recommendations. I don’t Like either option.

Thus endeth the rant.

Your comments and rants and musical recommendations are always invited.

UPDATE, Jan 30!-> Here’s is how you DO get me to Like your Band Page!

Jesse Michaels, Renaissance Punk

Here’s a new site about Jesse Michaels, featuring his music, art, and writing.

Michaels is most well known for his songs and life-altering lyrics, first introduced by Operation Ivy, and later by Common Rider and several other bands he has fronted. Op Ivy’s short but blazing run in the late 80’s was quite a thing to witness, and I am glad to have been at a few of their early shows. Heh.. People often talk about liking a band’s “early stuff” best, often for good reason. In the case of Op Ivy, ALL of their songs are their “early stuff!” If there was ever a band that finished their work and got the fk out, it was them. Jesse’s bandmates Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman later formed Rancid and became one of the top acts in punk, while Operation Ivy’s only records – the “Hectic” EP and “Energy” LP – spread by word of mouth, to eventually reach millions of fans all over the world. It’s an unusual story, driven by the power of the message in the music and the songs.

Whispering-Bodies-FrontWhat has been a bit more of a secret until recently, is that Jesse Michaels’ unique voice is as strong and clear in his fine art, and hilarious fiction, as it is in his songs. Check out the site, and put Whispering Bodies – A Roy Belkin Disaster (Michaels’ first published novel) on your reading list. You might die laughing, but it’ll be a happy death. The book is really damn funny, and as original as you would expect. Hopefully it’s the first of many Roy Belkin disasters.

As a final note, if you are among the many who have burning questions about the true essence of punk rock, the real meaning of life, and proper mosh pit etiquette, you will find answers to all of that and more in this short, informative video, by Mr. Michaels himself.