Thursday, October 06, 2005


I don't usually do this, but here's my "Listening to" section: Go download the latest Harvey Danger album, Little by Little (yes--It's free, legal, good, there's no DRM to "manage" your digital rights, and the band wants you to do it). The reason they can (and want to) do this is that they currently aren't signed with a record label.

Musicians don't make much money when you buy their album, their cut is typically around 10%, and this goes first to recoup the cost of the contract. A record label will front a musician the money to produce an album, let's say it's $100,000. They can go and tell their friends they just signed a hundred thousand dollar record deal, which is true, but from that money, they have to pay for studio time to record, have it mixed, produce a master, etc., and all of these are usually "services" that the label supplies to the artist, for a fee. If you have a dinner meeting with your agent, he will pick up the check, and then turn around and bill that amount against your contract, plus whatever his hourly rate is. After all of this, the album goes to the shelves, and the artist gets a certain amount of each sale. By "gets," of course, I mean that his share of that money goes towards paying back the record label for the contract amount. THEN, once the label has gotten all their money back (plus their cut of album sales, plus all of the services they sold to the artist along the way), the artist starts seeing some of the money from album sales.

So, how do musicians make money? One word: concerts. The record label often gets a cut of this action too, if they act as the producer, but live performance has always been and is still today the primary source of a musician's money. So, how does one fill seats at a concert? Hmm... it would help if the artist had fans. Fans who had heard the artist on the Internet, radio, or CD, or... hmmm, what are all those funny little things people walk around carrying with wires that go to their ears? Anyway, the more exposure an artist gets, the greater their audience and fanbase and hence a larger pool of people willing to come to their concerts, buy their T-shirts, baseball caps and nose rings, most of which goes straight into the musician's pocket.

[Please feel free to correct me if my facts are significantly wrong, btw.]

So, with the advent of viable Internet digital content distribution, the recording industry is in for a monumental change. The cost of getting music into the ears of millions is shrinking. Record labels suddenly find themselves becoming obsolete. They must change their business model, buy congress in order to enforce the old system (watch out for this--they have already purchased a few small European nations), or disappear altogether. What won't disappear is the music, it's just that the makeup over the big "MIDDLE MAN" stamped on the RIAA's foreheads is wearing off.

I'm not telling you to go participate in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted work. Don't do that, it's copyright infringement (though it is not theft), and you would open yourself up to civil suit (but not criminal prosecution). I'm sick of people trying to redefine our perfectly good language to their own ends--but that's another rant.

Wow, that was long. And now, on to my real post.

Thursday nights I play volleyball. I'm on a team of six and we play in a league put on by my work. Today there were only three of us. I was a bit late because I had gotten distracted at home. I couldn't find my basketball shorts, so I had to wear some old jean shorts with a torn back pocket. I was starving when I got home. I forgot to bring a banana to work this morning, which is not a big deal, because I have package cereal at my desk, as well as yogurt in the fridge, and frozen dinners in the freezer. But I wasn't at my desk all day. I was in a lab in another building and I couldn't leave. Plus, when I get absorbed in a task, I have very little clue of anything going on around (or, in this case, inside of) me. I lose track of time and hunger is just another distraction that I ignore. My family can attest to this.

Anyway, so when I got home from work, I was really hungry, so I started making some french toast and chatting online with my sister-in-law while I caught up on some articles I'd seen on slashdot and digg. We discussed pizza and her new job, which she is enjoying. I also called my roommate to see if he had seen my shorts. He hadn't.

I left a bit late for volleyball, but I was able get into the gym and arrived just as the first game was about to start. It was a good thing I showed up when I did because there were only three of us. I didn't have any time to warm up or anything, and consequently I started the game off with a bad serve. It glanced off of my hand to the right and went out of bounds. Oh, well. The nice thing about playing 3-man volleyball is that it's pretty easy to tell whose ball it is, and each player gets a nice share of the action. Playing against teams of 5 and 6 when there are only three of you means you are constantly on the move when the ball is in play, and I mean that literally. I got some good exercise, and I had a lot of fun. Despite our numerical disadvantage we played very well. We played three 30-minute matches against different teams, which usually consist of one and a half to two games, rally score to twenty-five. We won four games out of six (fractions of games count as whole), and the ones we lost were pretty close. (This is better than our record with the whole team there.) The three of us were playing well: we were communicating well, and we were consistently sticking to three-hit (bump, set, spike) rallys, we weren't making stupid errors, and our serves were generally good.

I think playing in this league is really improving my skill. I would say I'm about average for the team, but the two players there tonight are both better than me in most respects. Playing with people who are better than you gives you examples to follow, and keeps your ego down, so you don't think you've 'arrived.' As a setter you're given decent passes as well as right-of-way to the second hit, and your good sets aren't wasted; and when spiking you more often see the ball floating in space perfectly poised for you to smack it down on the other side of the net. Speaking of which, starting to dink lot less and spike more often and more effectively.

I'll have to get down to California and test my mettle with the Lassen champs one of these days.


  1. This Lassen champ would be quite content to forfeit, seeing as I haven't played SINCE Lassen.

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