Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Value of Art and the Apparent Death of the Album

1) All art has value.

2) Artists should have the sole discretion to determine how that value translates into compensation for its consumption.

3) Without the artist, there is no art to consume. Therefore, the artist should be the one to receive the largest piece of the compensation pie.

4) Art designated as being “free” still has value, yet…

5) …the concept of “free” does not actually exist. Compensation (monetary or otherwise) is always expected in some form or fashion.

Here are a few numbers to think about:

In the year 2000, the top 10 highest selling albums released that year totaled 60.1 million units sold. In 2010, the 10 highest selling albums of that year equated to only 19.9 million units. That’s a decline in album sales of 67% over a 10-year span.

Eminem had the second highest selling new album of 2000 with 7.9 million copies sold. His 2010 album Recovery? It sold 57% less, yet it topped the highest selling album list of 2010.

Before Limewire was shut down by court injunction a few months ago, it was determined that over 5 million transactions of shared music occurred through their P2P network every month. That, of course, is just one of many P2P networks available around the world.

Now I know there are a number of factors that go into all of this, but here’s the thing: like most people on this subject, many of my college students speak out of both sides of their mouths. If they make their own music, then they believe they should be paid for it if they have decided to sell it. Yet, those same people think it’s ok to not pay for the music of others…especially those with the popularity of an Eminem. “They already have enough money” is the usual response.

So where does that leave the rest of us?!?!?!?

Students have mentioned that they are willing to pay for music by a new artist that is trying to make it (many times it being a friend). I don’t necessarily believe them, but let’s say that is true. So what do they do if he/she does “make it”? Will they then not pay because they perceive the new-found popularity as having “enough money”? It’s still shocking to me how many people just do not have a clue as to how the business of music really works and still believe that fame equals cash (for the artist, that is).

Notice that none of what I said includes single downloads. Everything is cyclical, so have we gone back to the 50’s where the single was king? That is a topic for another time, but I will say this: I’m an album kind of guy. Call me old school, but I like collections of songs. I’m a fan of concept albums. And while I do not currently own a record player, I do miss the days of holding the cardboard sleeve in my hands, opening the gatefold, looking at the big images, and sitting down to listen to an entire album as a whole (CDs, for all their convenience, still can’t fully replicate that). That’s why I focused on album sales here.

Who knows? Maybe vinyl will make a big comeback. Vinyl sales did increase 14% over the past 12 months while CD sales decreased. I think the invention of the CD caused a lot of problems that we now have to deal with, but that’s even another topic for another time.


Click here for your own copy of my latest release, Balance: The One-Forty-Seven Manifesto, available both on CD (ha! ha!) as well as digital download.


It’s Not So Bad: A Look Back At Music In 2010

A new year tends to make us look back at the good and bad of the previous year. With all of the Ke$has/Biebers/Gagas of the world along with the doom and gloom news reported within the music industry, its pretty easy to say that most of the music being released today is garbage. I know I tend to think that way. So I didn’t expect to look back at the album releases of 2010 and find anything really worthwhile.

What I found, however, are a number of great albums from new bands, established artists, and gems released from music’s past that have not only become a part of my music collection but also a consistent choice for my daily listening habit. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list but is a collection of 14 albums (plus an additional one that is a bit self-serving) released in the year 2010 that shine a ray of hope on an industry that seems to be overrun by auto-tune, teeny-boppers, and “performers” using outrageous appearance or lyrics as a substitute for talent.

1. Black Country Communion – Black Country Communion. Are Jason Bonham, Derek Sherinian, Joe Bonamassa, and Glenn Hughes out to single handedly save r’n’r? It kinda sounds like it.

2. Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier. It’s Maiden; nuff said.

3. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. Great songs, great vocals, great grooves…plus girl-led guitar groups are kinda cool.

4. Eric Johnson – Up Close. Probably my favorite EJ release yet. It lacks the sterile feel of his other studio albums, and that’s a good thing. Oh yeah, his guitar playing is downright disgusting, too. 8^)

5. Frank Zappa – Hammersmith Odeon (3 Discs). My favorite FZ line-up (Bozzio! Belew!) live in London, and Frank is blasting away on guitar. What’s not to love?

6. King’s X – Live Love in London (DVD). My favorite band in the world playing (once again) in London. Dug is probably one of the best rock singers of all time, and Ty’s guitar sounds great. And that leads me to…

7. Ty Tabor – Something’s Coming. Ty’s latest solo release has some of his best songwriting to date with grooves galore.

8. Coheed and Cambria – Year Of The Black Rainbow. Call it sacrilege, but I think this album is their best second only to Good Apollo, Vol I.. And, no, I didn’t forget about SSTB or IKSSE: 3.

9. The Nels Cline Singers – Initiate (2 Discs). Nels Cline is one of the most forward thinking guitarists alive today, pushing boundaries within the confines of Wilco and stretching out as far as possible in his solo work. This is a great double album. First part is all studio work; second is all live. Plus you can’t beat an instrumental band with a name that hearkens back to the old family vocal groups of yore. Makes me think of “the family Von Trapp!”

10. Neil Young – Le Noise. I love Neil Young. He can do no wrong (and, yes, I am taking Trans into account). This album received a lot of mixed reviews, but I think it’s great! Folk singer Neil trading in his acoustic for a fuzzed-out electric at a solo gig. Brilliant!

11. Buddy Guy – Living Proof. Buddy’s been on a roll over the past few albums. He’s still one of the best blues guitarists…scratch that. He’s still one of the best guitarists of our time. Never mind that he’s 74 years old…!!!

12. Dweezil Zappa – Return of the Son of… (2 Discs). The work Dweezil put in for 3 years to prepare for the Zappa Plays Zappa project is incredible. He completely transformed his approach to the guitar, and his technique and improvisation have grown by leaps and bounds. I have been fortunate to see ZPZ three times (the first being on their first tour with Nappy Brock as lead vocalist and Bozzio guest drumming) and have the CD/DVD combo for that tour. This release consists of performances from the latest incarnation of the touring group, and it’s interesting to see how DZ has developed as a guitarist over the past few years between releases. Are you a Zappa fan? Get this. Are you a fan of guitar? Get this. Are you breathing? Get this!

13. The Sword – Warp Riders. This is one of my favorite finds of the year. I read about The Sword in one of the guitar magazines and how this album’s lyrics dealt with a story set in space. That grabbed my attention right away, but I wasn’t prepared for the musical onslaught…GEEZ! Heavy yet musical, this is a must have for those about to rock!

14. Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart. I loved their last album In The Future, but I think this one blows it away. The song “Radiant Hearts” is worth the price of admission alone; it’s probably my favorite song of the year. A haunting masterpiece amidst the twists and turns through stoner/psychedelic rock that BM is well known for.

…and my self-serving pick:

15. Jason Davis – Balance: The One-Forty-Seven Manifesto. Hey, it’s not that I think it’s the best album that came out of 2010, but I’d like to think that it’s worth it for you to check out. I really put a lot of work into it, and I’m proud of the results. If you like both the rock and the roll with a healthy dose of guitar theatrics, then Balance: The One-Forty-Seven Manifesto could be right up your alley.

So there you go. 2010 wasn’t so bad, was it? Besides, all flashes in the pan will go away and not leave too much of a lasting mark on the psyche. Just think: in about 10 years we’ll get to watch one of those “I Love The” episodes on VH1 where they make fun of what was once thought of as being cool back in the day. Then everyone can laugh together at the ridiculousness of meat dresses and brushing one’s teeth with alcohol.