The Riff - June 2008

Study: Canadian Musicians Would Like You to Pick Up the Tab

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 6:45 PM EDT

mojo-photo-canadaguitar.jpg

The average Canadian musician makes only $16,500 ($16,000 US) per year from their craft and is largely against free file sharing, according to a survey of 700 musicians conducted by Pollara, a Toronto-based research firm. The survey was released as part of a new report on the Canadian music sector conducted by Dr. Douglas Hyatt of the Rotman School of Business in Toronto. The survey found that with retail sales of music declining, Canadian musicians typically make around $25,000 ($24,555 US), but pay $8,300 in expenses.

- Billboard

The study also found that, when broken down into categories, "expenses" included the following:

-- Molson's: $5700
-- Donuts at Tim Horton's: $1200
-- Trying to keep warm by burning crumpled bills: $650
-- Replacing antique bar lamp after getting a little excited during guitar solo at a gig in Edmonton: $350
-- Poutine: $250
-- Rush box set: $130
-- Arcade Fire T-shirt: $20
-- Health care: FREE!

So, do your Vancouver guitarist buddy a solid and give him 99 cents for an mp3 today. That's only 97 cents US!

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Vishnu Ad Death Threats? An Onion Editor Responds.

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 6:39 PM EDT

onion%20vishnu%20150x300.jpgThe Onion's website recently featured a four-armed, blue-hued Vishnu incarnated as a serenely multitasking Indian call center operator. Thank Allah that Onion editors had enough sense not to exploit images of the prophet Muhammad instead to hawk its latest hardback collection of ironic misinformation.

But although there are no bombed embassies to speak of, the Onion ad has sparked controversy among Indian journalists.

"Instead of finding something that we could all laugh along with, the Onion seems content in giving us something sufficiently exotic that some of us can laugh at," writes one commenter on the South Asian Journalists Association's online forum.

"Perhaps some of us have gotten too comfortable here in the US to truly understand what is happening back home and instead respond with the cliche "offended minority" reaction," writes another.

I asked Onion editorial manager Chet Clem if he received any death threats in response to the Vishnu house ad. His response:

CD Review: Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 5:36 PM EDT

mojo-photo-lilwaynecarter.jpgDelays are never, ever a good sign. If the release of your highly-anticipated creative work keeps getting pushed back, it's pretty much a given that when it finally emerges, it'll be bloated and uneven, overcooked in spots and raw in others. I'd hoped mixtape master Lil Wayne would prove the exception to this rule, but the long-delayed Tha Carter III (in stores today) is more mixed bag than mixtape, with brief hints of the head-spinning magic that made his bootleg releases so exciting marred by dull (if financially successful) attempts at mainstream appeal.

New 3G iPhone: Resistance is Futile

| Mon Jun. 9, 2008 5:16 PM EDT

mojo-photo-borgphone.jpgSteve Jobs has announced the introduction of new iPhone models, slashing the baseline price in half to $199. The new models will run on 3G technology, allowing for faster internet access and download speeds, and will feature GPS, so you always know where you are. While Jobs himself just called the new phones "zippy," others have decided that higher-speed internet access and the possibility of unlimited music downloads may be "as important a moment in musical history as the invention of the gramophone." At the risk of sounding like an alarmist Luddite, I'll take it further: the new iPhone brings us one step closer in our inexorable progress towards becoming The Borg.

Is the (Traditional) Rock Band Dead?

| Mon Jun. 9, 2008 4:46 PM EDT

mojo-photo-noage.jpgNouns, the new album from the Los Angeles-based No Age (left), is fast becoming one of the most acclaimed albums of the year, with high marks from Pitchfork and NME. The album's sound, as Pitchfork put it, is "cacophonous" and "gorgeously thick," punk rock with a swirling, tone-bending My Bloody Valentine sheen. What might surprise you is that the band is actually a duo: just two guys, Randy Randall and Dean Spunt, playing guitar and drums respectively, their sound filled out by loops and samples. Lately, this seems more and more common: most of the interesting developments in rock music are coming from "non-traditional" band lineups. Is the good old rock four-piece an endangered species?

After the jump: I still haven't found the U2 I'm looking for... but I do have a No Age mp3!

Does It Matter If Bob Dylan Supports Obama?

| Sun Jun. 8, 2008 5:52 PM EDT

The wad of celebrity endorsements Barack Obama has in his back pocket got a bit thicker once rock legend Bob Dylan told The Times of London that Obama was "redefining the nature of politics from the ground up."

Now for the real question: Are times really a-changin' so much that McCain supporters will swap sides to Barack n' Roll?

Just recently The Weekly Standard's blog chided "failed kingmaker" Bruce Springsteen for his political outspokenness, while praising Dylan for making the "smart career move" of never publicly supporting a candidate.

So much for rocker silence; now for the echo.

—Steve Aquino

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Rapper Nas Produces Obama Song That Isn't Terrible

| Fri Jun. 6, 2008 4:27 PM EDT

I know, we all got sick of the Will.I.Am track pretty quickly (although the McCain spoof was pretty awesome), and let's not even link to Obama Girl. But leave it to New York rapper Nas to come up with an Obama-referencing track that actually sounds pretty good. MTV news has a clip of the new track, called "Black President," which started out as part of a mixtape, but will now be included on the as-yet-untitled upcoming Nas album. Part of what makes this song interesting is its complexity: rather than being a goggle-eyed campaign sing-along, it actually expresses some doubts, with lines like "These colored folks and Negroes hate to see one of their own succeeding/America: surprise us, and let a black man guide us." Nas even wonders aloud if Obama really can "keep it way real." Plus, it's, uh, got a good beat. Check out a clip after the jump.

Chart Beat: Coldplay's Biggest Hit Ever; Duffy Doffs Madge

| Thu Jun. 5, 2008 5:47 PM EDT

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Well shut my mouth: I've been ragging on Coldplay's upcoming Viva la Vida for a while now, but the lead single of the same name has just jumped to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the band's highest-charting single ever in the U.S. ("Speed of Sound" peaked at #8 in 2005, and the ubiquitous "Clocks" never made it past #29). The album's out June 17th. Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III finally hits stores next week (I'll believe it when I see it) and "Lollipop" remains at #1 on the singles chart for a fourth week, while second single "Got Money" debuts at #13. That's only half of his four appearances in the top 40 this week, the most since 50 Cent back in 2005.

Over on the albums chart, Usher beat out the Sex and the City soundtrack this week, debuting at #1 with Here I Stand, while music to drink cosmos to landed at #2. Death Cab for Cutie's Narrow Stairs dropped from #5 to #10.

Across the pond, hotly-tipped Welsh singer-songwriter Duffy hops back up to #1 on the European albums chart with her debut album Rockferry, replacing Madonna's Hard Candy at the top spot. (Rockferry climbs to #7 in the US this week). Portishead's Third is barely hanging on in the European Top Ten after five weeks, although it was just certified gold in the UK for sales of 100,000 copies.

A selection of accompanying videos, after the jump.

Record Labels Make Hint-Laden Mixtape for NAB

| Thu Jun. 5, 2008 4:07 PM EDT

mojo-photo-cassette.jpgAh, it brings me back to my early teens. With the image of an unrequited crush object fixed firmly in my mind, I'd labor for hours at my crappy Sears stereo, arranging song after song onto a C-90 cassette, in the hopes that the music would carry a message I was too chicken to voice myself: The Smiths "I Want the One I Can't Have," The Cure's "Close to Me," Violent Femmes "Add It Up." A master of subtlety I was not. Then, the magic cassette (complete with intricately detailed cover) would be handed off to said crush object, who I can only assume listened to it for hours while longingly gazing at a picture of me. Or, tossed it in the trash.

Either way, it never really worked, but that isn't stopping record label-funded musicFirst, who are trying to express their unrequited love of performance royalties to the National Association of Broadcasters with lyrically appropriate music this week. Cheekily calling the attempt a "four-day prank," the organization is sending NAB president David Rehr an iTunes certificate for these songs:

Video: Terry McAuliffe Loses It on The Daily Show

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 4:06 PM EDT

Is he doing a bit? Is this a shoot-the-moon strategy? Is it the giddiness of a man who knows some sort of secret bombshell Obama revelation is about to hit the fan, which will somehow magically switch everybody's allegiances to Hillary? Or is he just on gigantic mounds of crack cocaine?

Update: Jonathan Stein has already noted on Mojoblog that this guy is loony tunes, but that he'd "want him in my camp." But Jonathan, think of the crack bills! No wonder they're $20 million in debt...