09 June, 2009

Another Reason To Not Trust A Journalist: Wired's Scott Thill reports on Sonic Youth

I am pleased that today is indeed 0830 CDT Tuesday, June 8th, 2009. There's nothing goofy going on. The maintenance man is going to be over soon with a new toilet and I'm going to go get some groceries and some beers later. It finally stopped raining after three days. Life is good.

I still need to get laid, though. I think it's been something like two weeks. I need to get fucking laid.
I don't know if I should go back to the internet dating site. I mean, the bartender isn't there anymore. You see, the bartender was kind of the reason I deleted my profile and I'm willing to bet that after she met a few more guys that were just there for booty, she got fed up and left.
Of course, on the other hand, maybe she met somebody really cool. And you know what? That would actually warm my heart a little. She wasn't a bad person, she just had needs that I couldn't fulfill. Was looking for something different than what I was looking for. Nothing wrong with that.
Yeah, I hope she met a cool guy.
At any rate, this is supposed to be a music blog, right? I'm thinking that after I get done with the dishes this morning, I'll get rid of some Sonic Youth records. They're just not my thing, and the only reason I even remembered that I had Sonic Youth records was the recent imaginary debacle of Kim Gordon slamming Radiohead's pay-what-you-like model. Of course this is Wired (one of many who reported the "slam") taking things out of context.
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Pictured: The middle finger as directed toward record labels.
Radiohead's In Rainbows came out (in North America, anyhow) on January 1st, 2008. The article was reported yesterday, June 8th, 2009 in Wired discussing a comment from Kim Gordon in The Guardian on June 5th, 2009. For expediency's sake, let's just call that an even year and a half.
This has been bandied about as the new music business model and The Guardian was referencing it as such. Wired writer Scott Thill and, by extension, the Wired editors, took Gordon's response to the proposition of Sonic Youth using the In Rainbows model out of context. Why? What the fuck for? To make it look like Gordon was behind the times to the point where she was citing year and a half old news? In the end Wired comes off like a bunch of jackasses for not keeping up with the times.
Radiohead has remarked that yes, the pay-what-you-want model is a marketing move. I'm sure Trent Reznor would tell you the same thing about using that move for Ghosts I-IV. Why? Because it has to do with the manner in which one promotes and sells, or "markets", a fuckin' record. Hence, "market"ing.
Sonic Youth - Hits Are for Squares
Pictured: Starbucks' June 2008 sales spike.
Sonic Youth know about marketing, too. They took a stab at selling a record exclusively at Starbucks, a "celebrity curated" greatest hits compilation entitled Hits Are For Squares. Guess who picked the fourth track, "Kool Thing". Radiohead did. The record was released on June 10th, 2008, one year ago tomorrow, pretty much six months after In Rainbows. Why, if Sonic Youth has such a fucking problem with Radiohead's business model that for the past year they've been secretly poo-pooing it until now, did they choose Radiohead to pick a song for their coffee-house greatest hits comp?
We're seriously expected to believe that Sonic Youth are saying, "Your business model is repugnant in that it fucks over other bands, but you're cool enough to pick out a song for our new compilation."
What's more is that, when you think about it, Radiohead were signifying that they were not only down with Sonic Youth but down with the Starbucks thing if they're showing up to make a "celebrity curation".
Why, though? Why any of this? Because in case you haven't noticed, the record industry is kind of in shambles right now. By "kind of" I mean "mind petrifyingly", by "in shambles" I mean "collapsed to rubble", and by "right now" I mean "since about June 1999", so for about ten fuckin' years the record industry has been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. People have to find new ways to make money off of records. Off of music, we know is about playing live and hocking merch. But off of records? The old methods are dead and there are a few people who are forward looking enough to say, "OK, this sounds nuts, but how about we try this?"
"This" being any number of things. The pay-what-you-want Radiohead model that also worked well for Nine Inch Nails, the Starbucks model that Sonic Youth tried, the bands that have decided to skip printing costs and release their records on thumb-drives or as downloadable mp3s, and a bunch of other things about which I've never thought and don't really take the time to think about because I have other shit going on in my life. Besides, nobody buys my records anyway, what the fuck should I care about marketing?

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