Byrne and Yorke on the Music Biz

See WIRED mag’s article “David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists,” with links to his interview with Thom Yorke.

What is called the music business today, however, is not the business of producing music. At some point it became the business of selling CDs in plastic cases, and that business will soon be over. But that’s not bad news for music, and it’s certainly not bad news for musicians. Indeed, with all the ways to reach an audience, there have never been more opportunities for artists…

…So where do artists fit into this changing landscape? We find new options, new models.

Where there was one, now there are six: Six possible music distribution models, ranging from one in which the artist is pretty much hands-off to one where the artist does nearly everything. Not surprisingly, the more involved the artist is, the more he or she can often make per unit sold. The totally DIY model is certainly not for everyone — but that’s the point. Now there’s choice.

Byrne maps out the territory of the post-CD music business, and his six possibilities range from Madonna’s new deal at one end of the spectrum to the fully DIY at the other. All pop (in the broad sense) artists should be thinking consciously about where they’re trying to fit on the spectrum.


As I’ve distributed burned copies of XMAS this year, several people have tried to pay me for the discs. “It’s not like that,” I explain with some difficulty. “We give our music away.”

But in the interview with Byrne, Thom Yorke said something that’s nagged my memory since the start of Mr. Furious Records. He’s talking about Radiohead’s recent decision to let people name their own price, including zero, for downloading In Rainbows (my emphasis); “…it was really good. It released us from something. It wasn’t nihilistic, implying that the music’s not worth anything at all. It was the total opposite. And people took it as it was meant. Maybe that’s just people having a little faith in what we’re doing.

I’ve always been concern that the implication of Mr. Furious’ distribution model is that our music is worthless. In a consumerist culture, where price largely determines value, what is free is often understood as something that can’t be sold.

Radiohead (and, to be fair, other artists who pioneered the model in the past couple years) have found a way around this conundrum, creating a model that is both a critique of consumerism (you can choose to have the album for free) and allows for an expression of value in a way that is understandable in the wider culture (you can pay what you want).

So the question is;

Assuming the technical and person-hour obstacles can be overcome, would it be a good idea for MFR to release albums this way?

AV's Best of the Year, Archive, Fifty Bears, Something, and a Message from ScoMo

The Onion AV Club’s Best-of-2007 list is the… best… one I’ve seen around the web. Since I don’t hear *everything* like journalists do, and many of my greatest listens this year have been older stuff I’m getting into (Depeche Mode & Spoon are notable), I feel unqualified to offer a list. I’m sure Cory and I will cobble something together under a header other than “Best of 2007,” though.

I was mildly surprised by the presence of Low’s record in the # 17 slot because it hasn’t been on a lot of other lists. Same with Jesu at # 12, Bloc Party at # 10, and Band of Horses all the way up at # 5. But that’s why I like the AV Club’s list; they seemed to step back and take the year as a whole, seriously considering who made great music this year (as opposed to what has been fashionable (Pfork) or indie-popular (everyone else) in 2007).

The AV Club’s flexible points-based rating system is also a cut above the standard procedure; they explain their methodology in the article.

\\\\ has been slow this week, making it hard for some folks to download or stream XMAS. We apologize. does us a giant kindness – makes MFR possible, really – so please be patient with them!


In project-news Matt and I rocked with Drew as Fifty Bears in a Fight last night, and that was exciting. You may know Drew from such Lincoln bands as Rent Money Big. We are now seeking a singer with some kind of Big Rock Voice; a howl, growl, bark, or wail. This someone may or may not be influenced by metal or blues music, and may certainly be of any age, gender identity or orientation, cultural background, etc; voice is all that matters to us. Some singers we would have taken if they were available include Lemmy from Motorhead, Ozzy, Dave Grohl, the guy from Ladyfinger (ne)…


This week I also finished writing a new record called There is Something and not nothing. It’s different, it’s catchy, and Matt will play drums on it. Beyond that, I don’t know what to say yet.


Scott sent this message from south of the equator.  “These tracks” are his horn and flute parts in “Snow is a Bear.”

Yo h, It’s probably too late, but I checked and I recorded these tracks in the Atlantic at approximately

Lat: 25* 31′ S

Long: 44* 11.70′ W

I repeat…

Lat: 25* 31′ S

Long: 44* 11.70′ W.. wait I guess you don’t have to repeat over e-mail. Hope the holiday season is treating you well. Good to hear from you. Can’t wait to see you. Merry Christmas


Nov/Dec Project Update

XMAS – It will be ready, in one week; same bat-time, same bat-channel. My new original song, “Snow is a Bear,” is nearly mixed and sounding pretty good. It’s nice to hear the sound quality and production improve from 2005. Not that I’m down on that stuff; but I’m happy for concrete evidence I’m not in aesthetic stasis. Cory may also have a new song – TBD.

5*C – I’ve started mastering for a new CD release that will combine our two EPs, and maybe another track or two. The Red EP has been criminally underheard; our own fault. But we aim to correct it in big way. We have also received our original sessions and stem mixes from Westend Studios, and we’ll be experimenting with re-recording some parts of songs (keys/guitars), without any expectations for what the results will be. At the very least, the new disc will bring together the original mixes from Sleepless Nights and Red, and that will be fantastic in itself. Anything more is pure frosting.

The Combine – Two more hours in the lab will knock out mastering on The Combine’s debut, and its banging. The guys are in the planning stages for a CD release. MFR will release an EP from the Combine simultaneously with their album; the EP will contain 2-3 album tracks and 2-3 exclusive songs. We are very excited to add The Combine’s considerable talent, and their status as our first hip-hop artist, to the MFR catalog.

I’m also writing/demo-ing a new record. It might be done before Boots, depending on the Boots cast. I don’t know what band-umbrella it’s going to fall under.

See my recipe for Sweet and Sour Winter Veggie Soup, as promised, below!  Fury gots to eat.

Sweet and Sour Winter Veggie Soup

Chopped or sliced:

  • Parsnips
  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • White onion
  • Snow peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Radishes

(Use any combination and any amount, to your taste)

Throw the chopped/sliced veggies in a B.A.P.*; cover with vegetable broth and a good shot of olive oil.

Season with fresh rosemary and equal parts balsamic vinegar and maple syrup (use plenty!), and salt if necessary.

Simmer until cooked; about an hour. I like to add chopped mushrooms at the end.

*Big Ass Pot