Sunday, October 07, 2007

MUSIC: Analyzing a Music Pirate's Playlist

Found this article on my home page. It's from The L.A. Times. - OlderMusicGeek

Jammie Thomas, the unlikely saboteur, had an eclectic set of songs collected. Maybe there's a message in her playlist.

By Ann Powers, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 6, 2007

Thomas' list has hipsters groaning. It includes some of the most banal Top 40 songs of recent memory: songs by 1980s balladeers Richard Marx and Bryan Adams, quiet-storm beauty queen Vanessa Williams, and the feathered-hair kings in Journey. Teen tastes may be represented by the presence of Green Day and Linkin Park tracks. "In her defense," one respondent posted on the pop-music blog Idolator, "I wouldn't pay for any of these songs either."

But look at the list beyond the prejudices of taste, and another quality surfaces: it's eclectic. A Reba McEntire track represents classic country. There's some Gloria Estefan for that Latin freestyle flavor. It's easy to imagine Thomas chilling out to Sarah McLachlan's "Building a Mystery" after her kids were in bed, or getting out her aggressions after a hard day at the office -- she works for her own tribe, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwa, in the natural resources department -- by turning up "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses.

This is a playlist for a family party, wide-ranging enough for everybody to be satisfied. It has a lived-in feel, with songs spanning four decades, probably marking highlights in the life of Thomas and those she loves. What it isn't, though, is something you'd hear on the radio, or be able to buy on any compilation that's in print.

True, Thomas could have burned a CD of these tracks, from the vast record collection she claims to own. She could have purchased the songs again from iTunes. But what she probably really wanted to do was just hear them occasionally, the way you hear songs on the radio. She wanted a wide array of music, easily available. Radio, split into niche markets and limited by tiny, repetitive playlists, wasn't giving her that.

Pop hits saturate the airwaves, television and the speakers at the mall for a brief time, until they reach obsolescence. Occasionally they'll pop up in a television show or on a film soundtrack. But a pop fan who wants a little country, a little metal and some hip-hop in her life won't easily find it in one environment. Her fingers could get blisters twisting the radio dial.

Popular music has always been a leaky commodity, but the major labels have increasingly narrowed their scope to focus on a few superstars and one-hit wonders. The Internet has made eclectic listening easy again. Thomas' crime (if we must label it that) was in not paying for the tracks she allegedly shared. But in a way, it was an act committed in self-defense, against the numbing effects of an increasingly narrowcast mainstream.


Link to the complete article

Comments from The L.A. Times:

Tell me this, when the U.S. crawls its way up the broadband ladder to where Finland, Hong Kong, or S. Korea are with net speeds of 100Mbps (compared to the U.S.' average 3Mbps), what chance do these media companies have of slowing their inevitable extinction? Other than crippling future technological innovation and lobbying for some Orwellian state with our tax dollars paying law enforcement to defend the 21st century equivalent of the buggy-whip industry.
Submitted by: Plautus
7:28 PM PDT, October 5, 2007

How absurd is it to call what she did piracy. Piracy is an act committed by one who plunders at sea, killing or maiming the victim. To call this piracy is an insult to pirates. This definition was created She shared music with strangers. Sharing, what society teaches kids to do starting in pre-school. Call it what it is, she's guilty of sharing.
Submitted by: blackbeard
7:26 PM PDT, October 5, 2007

Please follow up after the judgment is paid to find out how much of it the labels have paid out in royalties to the artists -- then we'll find out how much it is really about compensating them.
Submitted by: AB
3:25 PM PDT, October 5, 2007

Those who can't innovate and adapt to a changing marketplace call their lawyers. Digital music has made the market more efficient and more porous-- deal with it, or perish. I think it's time to short-sell recording industry stock.
Submitted by: Chris
7:37 PM PDT, October 4, 2007

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This is a fairly good sampling of some of the music I listen to. It's missing a few genres I like - such as cajun. I'll work on that later. But it does contain most of my favorite artists. I tried to steer away from the better known songs to give you a better idea of what kind of music the artists play, but I was limited by the songs the website - Project Playlist - had available. But if you want to get an idea of what I listen to, just hit the play or arrow button. - OlderMusicGeek

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This website, OlderMusicGeek Radio on Pandora.com, does a fairly decent job of playing what I like, although they do occasionally play stuff I don't care for, but overall they're pretty good.