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October 7, 2003

Break the chain. Via Crooked Timber: RIAA Radar, which displays the 100 highest-selling CDs on Amazon from non-RIAA members.

Just in case you don’t feel like, you know, giving money to an industry syndicate that sues 12-year-olds. And the #1 top-selling non-RIAA album today is…Warren Zevon’s The Wind. [08:37 AM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Break the chain.:

Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2003, 10:07 AM:

Curiously enough, many of these same labels (Concord, Shanachie/Yazoo, Spin Art, Matador, Epitaph) participate in eMusic.com, one of the first legitimate online music subscription services, which beat the major labels to the punch by offering nearly unlimited downloads for as little as $9.95 a month. I've certainly already downloaded more music than I'll ever finish listening to from them, and they never had to threaten me with legal action to get me on board.

Adam Rice ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2003, 11:36 AM:

Depressingly, Michael Bolton is #4 on that list.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2003, 12:17 PM:

I've been an eMusic subscriber for several weeks, and I second Richard Brandt's enthusiastic recommendation. Ten bucks a month for more good music than you could possibly keep up with.

seth ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2003, 02:03 PM:

eMusic really is a good deal, especially for those of us who listen to non-mainstream music. You can find scads of indie-rock, blues, jazz, etc.

I loved seeing that non-RIAA list, because it's one of the few places I can see how some of my favorite artists and labels are doing: I adore Merge, Matador, Sub Pop, and Def Jux, and some of the best albums released in the past year or so appear there (including the near-perfect "Kill the Moonlight," by Spoon, on Merge, and its closest competitor in the angular-pop game, "Make Up the Breakdown," by Hot Hot Heat, on Sub Pop).

Darkhawk ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2003, 03:26 PM:

I must say, having Beethoven, Pachelbel, Vivaldi et al listed provides me with the sort of comfortable whimsical feeling I need to start my working day in good mettle.

Zizka ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2003, 08:15 PM:

Commercial Break: The Decembrists have several CD's on the list. Everyone should buy these, because my son plays on one of them. Moody, literate alternative. Yes, I'm shameless. So sue me.

--k., or kip ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2003, 12:01 AM:

Zizka, kiss your son for me; the Decemberists have of late become an obsession in our little crew. Well, the Spouse and me, anyway, and we're foisting them on everyone we meet. --I was pleased to note "Her Majesty" is no. 88 on the list.

John Owen ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2003, 07:25 AM:

Fascinating to compare that non-RIAA chart and the UK Amazon top 100. I've bought more CDs from the non-RIAA chart (all three Zevons, the Waifs, Ryan Adams,Richard Thompson, Daniel Lanois, Aimee Mann), as opposed to only three (Sting, Norah Jones, Red Hot Chilli Peppers)from the Amazon main chart. There is also more CDs I want to buy on the non-RIAA listing, too. Just goes to show that part of the reason for the decline in CD sales is that the majors simply aren't putting out enough good material to satisfy the whole market, as opposed to just the youth market.

Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2003, 08:19 AM:

Let me put in a recommendation for another item from the list: "The Richest Man in Babylon" by Thievery Corporation. These guys are a duo who get put into "electronica" sections in stores because they use synthesizers and the occasional sideman, but the music is lush and melodic, sounding a lot more like The Girl from Ipanema than the uptempo, heavily processed dance tracks that are next to it in the CD bins.

(And, as long as I'm recommending music, I'll plug two local bands, both of which have CDs on their own labels -- The Twinemen, who are the two surviving members of Morphine working with singer and guitarist Laurie Sargent, and the Dresden Dolls, who have been described as "the new (painted) face of Boston rock" even though they're more of an electric, angry, and very smart cabaret act than a rock band. They both sound better live, IMHO, but the records are pretty darn good).

Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2003, 09:58 AM:

Also on the list, Beware by Panjabi MC, which has the unlikely MTV hit "Beware of the Boys (Mundian to Bach Ke)" (Love that Knight Rider sample!).

Of course, I might be the only Electrolite-reading Bhangra hip-hop fan...but I do recommend it.

Paul ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2003, 11:22 AM:

I'm delighted to see Panjabi MC on the list. I'm still dying to hear the rest of Boy In Da Corner. Too bad that's not on there.
And The Mighty Zizka's son is one of The Decembrists? Wow. The things you learn on the Interweb.

Steve ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2003, 05:10 PM:

Of course, I might be the only Electrolite-reading Bhangra hip-hop fan...but I do recommend it.

How's Rishi Rich? He was making some noise in the British charts when I was in England this summer, but I don't think I ever actually heard anything by him.

Zizka ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2003, 05:53 PM:

He's actually no longer with the band (no hard feelings, schedule conflicts), but he's on one of their CD's and has a bit role in their most recent video (he's a gruesomely wounded soldier).

The band he's in now is Amelia, also a Portland band.

David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2003, 10:55 AM:

Interesting timing, bad news:

"As of November 8, 2003, EMusic will be discontinuing the unlimited service offering and replacing it with a new service offering that places a reasonable limit on the number of downloads available to each subscriber in a month. Beginning November 8, EMusic will offer two subscription plans:

EMusic Basic: $9.99 per month/maximum 40 downloads
EMusic Plus: $14.99 per month/maximum 65 downloads"


Seth Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2003, 01:02 PM:

There's more about eMusic's new policy at MetaFilter, and a mini-rant by Cory Doctorow at boingboing.net.

It'll be interesting to see how the new policy will go over; people seem already to be jumping ship in droves. Myself, I don't think 25 cents a track is over the top, even for drive-by listenings of music I may or may not want to keep; if anything, some limitation will prevent me from obsessively downloading vastly more music than I'll ever listen to, which prevents me from paying enough attention to the downloads I do like (like the Decembrists, whom I just discovered a few weeks ago). But 40 or 60 downloads a month is too restrictive, and it'll lose them business.

It seems like, to remain viable, they'll have to come up with some cell-phone-like plan, in which the basic subscription gets you a certain number of tracks a month and then you micro-pay for each track above that. A smaller micro-payment amount, like 10 cents/track above the subscription, would be a good move.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2003, 04:26 PM:

Yeah. I got the eMusic email this morning, and immediately cancelled my account.

The fact of the matter is, attention is at least as scarce as money. In money terms, their new deal may still be a bargain, at least compared to buying the same CDs at list price. But their new deal requires me to pay attention and keep count. Although months might have gone by without downloading anything at all, I would have paid twice or even three times what I was paying in order to download from their catalog at the flat rate.

But their new pricing structure makes them nothing more than an inferior and hard-to-parse online discount record store with huge holes in its stock. Life is too short.

Must check out the Decembrists. Although if I were them, I'd avoid playing a double bill with Tsar.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2003, 04:59 AM:

I'm happy to see that the Decemberists are popping up on so many radar scans these days; their stuff is hella good (although I think that the Salon article comparing them to Neutral Milk Hotel wasn't really fair to either band -- which, come to think of it, was pretty much what the author of the piece concluded, as well). Oh, and look -- In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is right there at 56.

I second the Thievery Corporation recommendation, and add a local artist, Cat Power (although I still don't actually have a copy of You Are Free, dammit), and a not-so-local artist (Super Furry Animals) as well.