The Interview: Joni Mitchell

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After reading this interview, I’m a bigger fan of hers. I’ve liked her music and voice, but her outlook on producing, the 70’s, producing, performing, feminism, empowerment and life in general is great.

In a rare and wide-ranging interview spanning 90 minutes, singer-songwriter-artist Joni Mitchell spoke from her home in Los Angeles. Her latest project, a box set called Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, a Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced, combines her experience as a Grammy-winning musician, a painter and a dance enthusiast by collecting 53 songs into four discs from 40 years of recording

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Q: You’ve voiced concern over what you call the “push-button generation of today.” What is impairing us the most?

A: Everything is about channel changing. It has ruined attention spans. I spaced out in school but I didn’t develop attention-deficit issues because I placed attention on my imagination and ignored the curriculum. I didn’t have a million newsfeeds to contend with. It is just like when I have people over to my house to watch a film—it’s like living in a Robert Altman movie! They are always talking over each other. We are all losing the plot. It’s an addiction to phones and too much information.

Q: What repercussions do you think future generations will feel now that everyone is on their phone during concerts, etc.?

A: Here’s an example. My grandson and I were sailing on a boat and he said, “It’s boring.” I asked, “How can you say it’s boring? The sun is shining, we’re going across the water so fast . . . ” And he said, “Not fast enough.” Technology has given him this appetite.

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Q: Your song Two Grey Rooms was another ahead-of-its-time song. Was there pushback from the record company recording a song about one man falling in love with another?A:

They always pushed me back but I take as much liberty as I can get away with. That’s why I’m not a feminist. When I heard, “You can’t do that, you’re a girl,” I went ahead and did it anyway.

Q: Yet feminism was monumental in the ’70s.Why weren’t you interested?

A: I’d rather go toe to toe with a guy than have a posse. I’m like Katharine Hepburn—I don’t know why but I just feel equal. I thought people should fight for their rights individually—not in a group. The feminists I met were so hostile. They would say, “You like men and they just want to f–k you.” They were browbeating me. They were also so undomestic. I have a lot of respect for domestic women. A lot of them were made graceful by supporting and serving a man. I tried to cook for two men but it was a thankless job

Read the entire piece HERE

Little Bit Funky/Little Bit Rock and Roll

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Tonight I’m playing a gig with a really good and fun band called Arena out in Wayne NJ at a spot called Grasshopper Too. I’ve played a few gigs with them in the past and have had lots of fun each time we’ve worked together. Each gig we’ve done has been me subbing for their regular drummer who can’t make it for some reason, and I have to play without a rehearsal. So far, no train wrecks. It really is just plain old fun at a NJ bar with down to earth people ready and willing to go out on a Saturday night and have a good time. Sometimes I feel it is better than playing certain gigs in NYC where people sit back and  judge every move you make, often while not even paying attention.

Most of these songs are ones that I grew up listening to as a kid. I’ve even played some of them in bands in high school. It is funny how the drum parts all seem to come back as soon as we get started playing the songs. Other ones, I have to do some homework before I get there.

It’s one thing to know a song from listening to it on the radio for 30 years and another to actually play the drum parts…the right way. I like trying to play the actual parts the drummer did on the record. It is a challenge. Plus, it makes things easier for the band and more fun for me.

In my opinion, to this day, Tom Sawyer is by far, the hardest song I have ever tried to play. Even harder than those songs in the Broadway show Evita. (Rush/Evita…yeah I infused broadway into this post – It is where I make my money folks!) I loved playing Rush songs back in 1981 and I love their songs to this day.

I must say this…..I love rock. LOVE it. I love playing even harder stuff like Tool, Black Sabbath. Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden, Bad Brains…that kind of stuff. I even played in my own metal band back in the late 80’s called EvilTwins. We had the chance to open up for Creed back in January of 1998. It was the first time I played in a band where we actually created a mosh pit. Yessir! After the third song, our lead singer asked, “So how are we doing?” The crowd replied with the biggest roar I’ve ever heard while on stage. It was one of the greatest feelings in the world.

Even though I love my rock and metal, I love me some soul and funk. If I had things my way, in my perfect utopian world, I would have an original band that was a combination of Earth Wind And Fire, Led Zeppelin and Bad Brains…with a little Cameo sprinkled in…oh, and with a black female singer. Yes!!!!

One day I’d like to do a show with a big ass band. 3 background singers, 3 guitarists (yeah, I need three), bass player, 2 keyboardists, 3 horns,  male and female lead vocalists and a percussionist. And just about everyone should be able to sing. We’d have a set that had songs like this:

Fencewalk – Mandrill

777-9311/Cool/ The Stick – The Time

Baby I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little Bit More – Barry White

Red Hot Mama/Knee Deep – Funkadelic

I just want to be/Shake Your Pants/Sparkle/Keep It Hot- Cameo

Evil/All About Love/Runnin’ and about 15 other non-hits – Earth Wind and Fire

Sexy Dancer/She’s Always In My Hair and 10 other B-sides Prince

More Bounce To The Ounce – Zapp

Fancy Dancer – Commodores

Skin Tight  – Ohio Players

Your Wish Is My Command/Fantastic Voyage/Something About That Woman – Lakeside

Just A Touch Of Love/Slide/Watching You – Slave

Footsteps in The Dark and their classic non-hit ballads- Isley Brothers

Dusic/Dazz/Push – Brick

If I’m in Luck, I just might get picked up – Betty Davis

Do you love what you feel/Stay./Clouds/What Cha’ gonna do for me/We Got Each Other – Rufus/Chaka

Chocolate Buttermilk/This Is You, This Is Me and the cool stuff before Ladies Night  – Kool And The Gang

 

You know, stuff like that. I would have a funk show for those who know how to funk-and-soul, but are a little tired of hearing wedding band funk.

Until then, I’m gonna rock out tonight!

Somebody help me put this band together will ya?

 

 

 

Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars

Not bad…but I heard this already 35 years ago. I ain’t gonna complain too much because I like Bruno. He’s a great performer and songwriter. More power to you soul brother #2!

“Uptown Funk” is the first single from Ronson’s upcoming fourth album, Uptown Special, which drops January 27th on RCA Records. He and Mars, along with a “very special guest,” will perform the track on the November 22nd episode of Saturday Night Live.

The bulk of Uptown Special was co-written and produced by Ronson and Jeff Bhasker over 18 months in studios spanning London, Memphis, Los Angeles and New York City. The LP also features a number of lyrics by American novelist Michael Chabon, along with significant vocal and instrumental contributions from Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker. Other musical collaborators include Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt, producer Emile Haynie, Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford, TNGHT’s Hudson Mohawke and DJ Zinc.

Ronson previously teamed with Bhasker and the Smeezingtons production team for three songs – “Moonshine,” “Gorilla” and the chart-topping “Locked Out of Heaven” – on Mars’ 2012 LP, Unorthodox Jukebox.

How Will the Wolf Survive: Can Musicians Make a Living in the Streaming Era?

An excerpt from an article written by Daivd Byrne:

In this view the people who complain about the impact of technology and the giant corporations who control it are like those who complained about the printing press, the mechanical loom and videotapes, and by complaining about the long term impact of online music streaming, I am revealing myself as an old fart who can’t or won’t adapt.

However, I’m not sure those complaints about printed books and VHS tapes were always coming from the artists and creators who felt they weren’t being adequately compensated. I think the complaints might have come from the church and the governments who saw the dissemination of information and media as a dangerous and threatening thing. We musicians love having our work disseminated. And wasn’t it the movie studios who worried about the impact of VHS tapes and VCRs? Not the filmmakers. I don’t remember too many musicians getting behind the “home taping is killing music” initiative that the record companies tried to establish with regard to cassette tapes. That was an industry thing. We musicians aren’t responsible for the insane copyright extensions in the last 50 or so years, either. Now, significantly, the industry is in actual partnership with the streaming services, so we don’t hear them complaining at all.

 

From Digital Music News:

The Swedish Musicians’ Union are bringing a lawsuit against the record labels there, alleging that the labels are not only screwing artists, but extending digital streaming rights that they don’t have.

Spotify asserts that they can’t be screwing artists because they ‘pay the labels’. Which is why labels are the target. Musician Billy Bragg points to possible legal action against Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, both majors that have received massive advances and equity shares from Spotify while passing little on to artists. It’s estimated that artists capture between 6 to 10 percent of revenues received from companies like Spotify. You can’t live on that.

This is a pretty big issue—are the labels who are in league with Spotify and the like keeping way too much of the payments for themselves?

 

Money will only flow to artists in the agreed-upon percentages if there is transparency. If the accounting remains hidden, secret, obscure—as it is now—then so does the money. We have tried for about two years now to obtain some figures that would give a clear picture of what a medium-level artist might reasonably expect to make in these various scenarios. Granted there are lots and lots of factors to figure in, and any figures would be ballpark estimates, but even that seems to be impossible to obtain. I would LOVE to be proved wrong here, and shown how this can work and how musicians can make a living—but that hasn’t happened yet.

I suspect labels won’t automatically agree to transparency. I already have to audit Warner every time I want to know my sales, downloads and streaming metrics. Spotify, for example, is currently only required to account back to labels not artists (not surprisingly, and maybe reasonably, as the labels control the copyrights on the recordings—the artists traditionally don’t). Streaming services hold valuable data on fan and consumer behavior that would be beneficial to labels and artists in order to market recordings, sell concert tickets and identify where they are strong. (Spotify has made some signs that they might address this transparency issue a little bit and I am communicating with folks at Beats to determine how their accounting might work—it’s encouraging that the lines of communication are still open—but still no easy formula or estimates in sight.)

Read more HERE: http://davidbyrne.com/how-will-the-wolf-survive-can-musicians-make-a-living-in-the-streaming-era

Passion

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I realize that I am blessed. I am a musician. What I do makes you feel good, sad, elated, angry or any one of a number of emotions. What I do moves your toes, feet, back or entire body. It evokes memories of past events and creates new ones daily. What I do puts smiles on your face. You hear it every day even though you don’t realize it. You may be on the subway, in your car, at just about any store, watching tv or just walking down the street. What I do affects your daily life.

I’m blessed to be a part of unique people that absolutely love what they so and sometimes do it without expecting to get paid. It’s just who we are.

What musicians do is not easy. It takes decades to learn how to effectively learn our craft. It takes years of serious practice. Some of us, like jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins still practice even in our 9th decade of life. Music is a lifelong passion and I’m glad I found it around the age of 6.

Seeing my cousin’s shiny sparkle kit in his basement was a life changing experience. I asked my parents to get it for me and they did. I haven’t stopped playing drums ever since then.

YouTube Music Key Is Introduced as New Rival in Streaming

Credit Liz Grauman/The New York Times
Credit Liz Grauman/The New York Times

For nearly a decade, YouTube has offered a smorgasbord of free music, making just about every song imaginable — from Top 40 to ukulele covers — available at a click. But soon the site, whose more than one billion monthly visitors make it the world’s most popular music platform, will start charging for additional perks.

On Wednesday, YouTube unveiled YouTube Music Key, a long-awaited upgrade of its music offerings that will include higher-quality audio for most songs and give users the option of paying $8 a month for extra features, chief among them removing YouTube’s ubiquitous ads.

With its new service, YouTube hopes to reform its reputation in the music industry as a phenomenal free site to promote songs, but one that pays a pittance in royalties. “We want to give fans more ways to enjoy music on YouTube, but also give artists more opportunities to connect with fans and earn more revenues,” said Christophe Muller, its music partnerships director.

As YouTube pushes into paid content, other online music outlets — under considerable pressure from the recording industry — are being forced to defend or change their business models to better compensate artists.

Taylor Swift drew wide support among fellow musicians — and a rebuke from Spotify’s chief executive — after she removed her entire catalog from the streaming service, apparently because Spotify refused a request to keep her music only on its paid level. And SoundCloud, which has never paid royalties, signed its first deal with a major record company, the Warner Music Group, last week, and will begin to pay artists for the first time.

With the music industry suffering a steep decline in sales, it is ever more dependent on payouts from streaming outlets like Spotify, Pandora and Apple’s Beats Music. For a while, free music has been crucial to the marketing of these services, but now music executives and analysts increasingly say that their growing popularity is a deterrent to getting customers to pay.

“As recently as five years ago, free was entirely about piracy; now free is widespread and completely within the legitimate sphere,” Mark Mulligan, an analyst, said. “But we still have the exact same challenge we had in the golden age of piracy, which is, how do you compete with free?”

Online subscription services like Spotify have grown quickly, with 28 million subscribers around the world last year, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. In some countries, like Sweden, a majority of sales revenue now comes from streaming music.

But so far this growth has not been fast enough to make up for a rapid decline in sales of CDs and downloads. In the first half of 2014, for example, album sales were down 13 percent compared with the same period the year before, and digital track downloads were down 10.6 percent, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

YouTube Music Key will be available to users in the United States, Britain and a handful of other European countries. Following Google’s preferred pattern of introducing new products through “beta” testing, it will first be available by invitation only, and is expected to be offered to all users by next year.

For those invitees, it will be free for six months and then cost $8 a month; the cost to the public starting next year will be $10, the same as Spotify and other services. Subscribers will also get Google Play Music, the on-demand audio service that has been Google’s main competitor to Spotify.

Read the rest HERE

Who’s to blame here?

Here is the problem with most of the arguments against Spotify; we don’t know the terms of the deals bands have signed with their labels or publishers. What kind of an advance do artists get for publishing/record deal? What are the exact terms? Without any of this information, we can’t tell exactly what is happening to the money after Spotify writes the check. All we know is – the owner of the publishing on a song or band member should be seeing what they signed up for in their contract. It isn’t Spotify’s fault that the money isn’t making it’s way to artists.

Why is Spotify in the crosshairs because publishers and labels don’t pay the artists/writers? Did writers march on Best Buy or Target headquarters when they felt they weren’t getting a big enough piece of CD sales? What about the payouts from YouTube?

How much of the $11.99 a fan spent on a CD in the 90’s actually went to the group TLC? Weren’t they broke even after selling millions of CDS?

Streaming is here to stay, no matter what the 1 percenters like Taylor Swift do with their millions and private owned jets. I could have sworn musicians weren’t supposed to like millionaire musicians?

I’m Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. And These Are the Facts…

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Taylor Swift is absolutely right: music is art, art has real value, and artists deserve to be paid for it. We started Spotify because we love music and piracy was killing it. So all the talk swirling around lately about how Spotify is making money on the backs of artists upsets me big time.

Our whole reason for existence is to help fans find music and help artists connect with fans through a platform that protects them from piracy and pays them for their amazing work.

Read what he said HERE: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2014/11/11/im-spotify-ceo-daniel-ek-facts