Stuff I Think and Shouldn't Say 46: Pooing on Retail: Pt. 2

Stuff I Think and Shouldn’t Say 46

There isn’t a whole lot that excites me about music anymore. The downward spiral that the retail music industry is currently trying to ride out, and will ultimately succumb to, has been hard to watch. I know I have mentioned this before, but I really was the biggest fan of record stores. I love that new CD/LP smell.

It always bothered me that stores like Best Buy and Circuit City use new release CDs as a “loss leader,” another gimmick to get you to set foot in their store. They don’t mind spending $8.99 to purchase the album, but selling it for $.01 more. It’s chump change to them.

They have marked the TVs and the DVDs and the like up so much, that what’s a penny profit? Nothing. They don’t care, but they also don’t mind the effects this has on the so-called Mom and Pop stores around the nation. They don’t care that independent chains can’t keep up; they just want to bowl them over.

The music industry used to be a MONSTER. The world held it’s collective breath when new releases were coming out. I remember my neighbors talking about standing outside of the Strawberries in Clifton Park or Saratoga, just waiting for the doors to open to grab the new Duran Duran.

That does sound fairly ancient, right?

Sad thing is, even two weeks ago, I showed you that it really hasn’t been that long since the biggest release in history occurred (read it again, if you must!) and things really didn’t drop off dramatically from there. Limp Bizkit had a big release a few months after that, selling 1 million albums in a week. Alicia Keys had a mega-debut, as did Coldplay, but it was a very slow, painful descent into the mess we now know. There were beams of light like Come Away With Me, Norah Jones’ jazz masterpiece. A jazz-terpiece, if you will.

Honest question: When was the last time you set foot in an FYE, Coconuts, Tower Records, or even a local store? Maybe it was for a Black Friday special. On that “holy” shopping day, everyone and their mom is selling stuff for way less that it would normally retail for.

Honestly, I would venture to guess that only 30% of my readers ever go into a music retail store anymore. Part of the reason for that is because it is much harder in the digital age, to get consumers to walk through the door if you aren’t holding some HUGE sale that makes Best Buy look foolish. Those don’t make you lots of money, you just hope that for each $8 Killers CD, you can sell a DVD player or some $14 CDs as well.

That’s the problem right there!

Damn it, I don’t want to go to a record store, with a sign on the awning that read “Blankity Blank Music, Movies & More!” I want to talk to staff that really KNOW and love music, not a person who can show me where Final Fantasy’s He Poos Clouds is stored alphabetically in the music section.

Why aren’t we doing digital downloads IN the stores? I remember reading HITS Daily and inter-company memos about the necessary evolution of the business, and yet I haven’t seen a major change. The stores aren’t records stores anymore (sorry Tower!) but rather, a HUGE entertainment franchise. They became Best Buy, but with no TVs. Maybe they do try and sell TVs, but that’s not important.

As for in-store downloading, not every title would have been available right off the bat, but if you offer the albums that aren’t ready to be ripped at a reasonable price, people won’t feel as cheated. They might actually ENJOY buying the music.

That was another problem with the “old” system: the consumer KNEW they were getting ripped off. That was 6-7 years ago, and an entire new generation of music fans is growing up without the guilt or fear of repercussions that I experienced as a Napster virgin. You loved the bands; the artists, and felt badly that you couldn’t afford their music, but knowing the words was more important than paying for it, right?

When we dealt only in Maxell cassette tapes and a boom box that allowed us to tape a friend’s newest purchase, we didn’t feel that badly. Now, a friend buys that new Tapes ‘N Tapes album and puts it on their harddrive, thousands and thousands of digital friends “tape” that album as well. If every person who owned the album made 5 copies for friends, that wasn’t too bad, as their were still over 400,000 people buying it. No one cared.

Now, they are only selling 200,000 copies in three weeks, and hundreds of thousands are sampling their wares for free, it appears as though there is no end in sight.

Kind of tragic, but not a tragedy.

To paraphrase “the greatest living band on Planet Earth,” the giants at Sony, Universal, Warner, well, “they did it to themselves, they do, and THAT’S why it really hurts.”

Instead of changing the price points and ENCOURAGING people to head to the stores to buy the album, and making it cheaper to own the physical CD and not the digital one, they insist that CD sales will always be up. If the labels set a $10-12 price per album on iTunes or Rhapsody, and set the price of the ENTIRE album (CD, booklet, all the bells and whistles) for less, in the range of $7-8.

(Before I get an angry email from some underling at Sony, let me say now that I understand that back royalties would need to be reworked. Tough. Get your team of lawyers on drawing up some new contracts, and those people who aren’t willing to budge, release them. If they can’t see that times have changed, and that you have set a price outside of the purchasing range of the public, they need better advisors, and I will gladly negotiate their new deals for them. I am sure that most artists would rather have as many people hear their music as possible, so they would take any deal they could get. I just don’t get how major labels can afford to sell of royalties through a limited release to companies overseas, that inevitably end up in a bargain bin for a $1, but can’t get their heads around the fact that they created this monster, and in order to save their jobs, they MUST fix it.)

Back on track here: sure, it seems like a major loss, but if you could go into any store in the U.S., Canada, hell, ANYWHERE, and get a CD for that price, wouldn’t you make the trip? Everyone is doing JUST that when they purchase from iTunes. The material, the songs, that’s cheap, and if the labels want to tell me that the costs of printing and pressing are too high, bear in mind:


They aren’t subcontracting this out. They send the masters, the artwork, everything, to their OWN plants, to create their albums. We don’t need to nail an exact figure here, but even if it cost them three dollars to make every CD, with Ssquared’s Plan for Saving Retail Music (© pending) they would still make five dollars on every purchase. DUH!

Listen, the attitudes of music fans need to be changed. Instead of being the rock that is standing in the way of such an ocean of discontent, be a jetty.

If you really see the music industry as various “shades of gray,” you’re a tool. Since no one that reads my column is a tool, all I can say is that the heads of these labels really do think that they have us (the consumers) figured out. Labels have been petitioning to raise they prices at iTunes when the really should be leaving them right where they are. Five years ago, people just took and took without regard for the legalities of it all. Now we have them WILLING to pay for the product, and you are going to mess that up by alienating them for WHAT? Fifty cents a download?

(Another note for the future Sony emailer: Yes, I can do the simple math: a dollar more on 400,000 units is 400,000 more dollars.)

Here’s a problem for them:

Two decades after my parents were buying 100s of LPS, myself, my sister and my pre-teen cousins hardly buy music at all. Most is given to me because of this glorious site, but why doesn’t Kristin purchase CDs?

“The prices are too high.”

Today is my mother’s birthday. She, at 52, didn’t want the new Ashlee Simpson (thank GOD!) or Chris Brown or Celine or any CDs, which was a first.

She wanted a laptop. Not just any laptop, a fast one…to download songs she likes.

Build it and they WILL come.

.::.Plugging the Bitchin’ $h!t.::.
.:.Columns from the Week that Was!.:.

Greg Wind: Between the Notes
Kyle David Paul: Let’s Rave On
Gloomchen: Summertime Blues, News, and Views
Mathan Erhardt: More Reasons Why Being Deaf Sucks/Rocks
Tom D’Errico: The New Classics

I love Joshua Grutman. He’s quite a catch, ladies. Don’t worry about his love for this “gloomchen,” he is waiting for YOU!


Ssquared’s Music Pulse Hook-Up!

The Dresden Dolls – Girl Anachronism

If you have never seen or heard the Dolls, this is a great place to start. The video features Amanda Palmer in various wigs and even just chilling in a bra.

I love her. She’s really “out there” musically, but in such a good way. The Dresden Dolls take chances. They are making ballsy music in a time that the only stuff that really “moves units” are safe and bland.

It’s about the art; their passion for creating. If you are interested in checking out more, head here to learn more.


brought to you by

.:. Rare Collection of Best Eyes’.:.

Conor Oberst and co. will release a 19-track set of singles, unreleased tracks, and more, recorded between 1998 and 2005.

While Bright Eyes fans anxiously await the follow-up to 2005’s I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, Conor Oberst and co. is sating their hunger with a set of singles, unreleased tracks, collaborations and covers recorded between 1998 and 2005. Noise Floor, which hits shelves Oct. 24, features tracks pulled from four-track cassette, MiniDisc, reel-to-reel tape, and computer, as well as a guest appearance from Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney.

Here is the track listing for Noise Floor:
1. “Mirrors and Fevers” (Don’t Be Frightened of Turning The Page EP – 2000)
2. “I Will Be Grateful for this Day” (Sub Pop Singles Club – 2001)
3. “Trees Get Wheeled Away” (Lost & Found, Volume 1 – 2003)
4. “Drunk Kid Catholic” (3 Hit Songs From Bright Eyes – UK single – 2003)
5. “Spent on Rainy Days” (Home series on Post Parlo Records – 2002)
6. “The Vanishing Act” (Too Much Of A Good Thing 7″ – 1999)
7. “Soon You Will Be Leaving Your Man” (Motion Sickness 7″ – 2000)
8. “Blue Angels Air Show” (DIW cover mount 7″ – 2002)
9. “Weather Reports” (Unreleased 7″ with M.Ward)
10. “Seashell Tale” (Unreleased 7″ with M.Ward)
11. “Bad Blood” (Album Leaf 7″ split – 2001)
12. “Amy in the White Coat” (vinyl only b-side No Beginning To The Story EP – 2002)
13. “Devil Town” (The Late Great Daniel Johnston – 2004)
14. “I’ve Been Eating (for You)” (3 New Hit Songs From Bright Eyes – UK single – 2001)
15. “Happy Birthday to Me” (Feb. 15) (3 New Hit Songs From Bright Eyes – UK single – 2001)
16. “Motion Sickness” (7″ – 2000)

Additional tracks available on vinyl only:
17. “Act of Contrition” (Second Thoughts compilation – 2000)
18. “Hungry for a Holiday” (Album Leaf 7″ – 2001)
19. “When the Curious Girl Realizes She Is Under Glass Again” (Sub Pop singles club – 2001)
20. “Entry Way Song” (Amos House Vol 2 – 2002)
21. “It’s Cool, We Can Still Be Friends” (Transmission One: Tea At The Palaz of Hoon – 2000)

Mark down today (July 22nd, 2006) as the day I officially said: Thank you, Saddle Creek. I didn’t have QUITE enough Bright Eyes stuff. I need more. Much more.

Sure, Tracy leaves the room when I put it on. Granted, Conor is too cute for me to worship unless I secretly admit that I love him (which I can’t do because Ryan Adams has my heart!)

I don’t care. I will own both versions (CD and LP) and both will receive MILLIONS of plays between now and the end of my life. My obsession knows no depths.


.:. Wolfmother Shoots Video for ‘Jackass’.:.

Watch out Australia: The stars of “Jackass” are coming down under with plans to record a video with Wolfmother and to presumably wreak some havoc. Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O et al will star alongside the afro’d Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother in the clip for the band’s forthcoming single, “Joker & the Thief,” according to Wolfmother’s official website. The song is also slated as the lead single and video for Jackass: Number 2, set for release on Sept. 22. The Malloys, who also directed the clips for Wolfmother’s singles “Mind’s Eye” and “Dimension,” will be at the helm of this video. The band’s self-titled debut has moved just under 200,000 copies in the U.S.

Well, I guess that “Dimension” being the theme music to Dane Cook’s “Tourgasm” isn’t enough exposure. No, neither is “Woman” being used in promos for A&E’s “Driving Force.” I know that every band wishes for this kind of buzz surrounding their first album, but Wolfmother are really trying to be heard in EVERY house in America, even those that will know who they are.

My mom watches A&E, so I am sure she has heard that song. My grandmother has HBO, so she probably saw Dane Cook a time or two.

Should I hate them now? I DID establish the precedent with Coldplay; a band I love cannot also be known or liked by my mom or her mom. That’s too weird.

.:.B.I.G. must be CRAZY! .:.

The duo behind the runaway hit “Crazy” and the legendary rapper Notorious B.I.G. get the mash-up treatment on The Gnotorious Gnarls Biggie.

Following in the footsteps of The Grey Album (Jay-Z and the Beatles, the calling card for Gnarls’ Danger Mouse) and Black and Blue (Jay-Z and Weezer), Brooklyn-based DJ/producer duo Sound Advice have fused Gnarls Barkley and the Notorious B.I.G. for The Gnotorious Gnarls Biggie. The online album, which has been repeatedly removed from MySpace, mixes Biggie’s biggest hits with tracks from Gnarls Barkely’s debut, St. Elsewhere and can be streamed at this website.

Stumbling through the interweb the way I do, I happened upon this link earlier in the week. The only problem with this one is that Notorious B.I.G.’s label is not fond of their property being used in such a way without consent.

Who cares!

This is a fun and intelligently constructed mash-up, one that rivals the power of Danger Mouse’s own Grey Album tomfoolery from few years back.

Please, enjoy.

.:.Clubbed Foot?.:.

The remaining members of Kasabian have talked for the first time about the decision to split with founding member Kris Karloff.

As we reported earlier this week the band announced they were parting company with Karloff due to differences over the recording of their new album Empire and the future of the group.

Of the split and the fans reaction to it Tom Meighan said: “Fans should understand that if there is a problem within the band we address that. We know it better than anyone. We want the fans to get behind our band instead of the few who f*cking whines all the time.”

‘We’re still a gang of mates. It’s us against the world. I’m gutted. It’s sad after you’ve been with someone all those years and he’s a great person and friend and it’s just one of those things.”

Moving onto Karloff’s replacement Meighan revealed that Jay Mehler, who played with the band at their recent festival appearances, won’t become a full time member at the moment.

“Jay’s just coming in to do the live parts,” he told The Sun. “We’ll make that decision when the time comes but he’s wonderful.”

Kasabian release their new album Empire on September 4.

Breaking up, it appears, IS hard to do. Personally, I would be the last person to leave a band that had received so much hype and developed a strong following. I have no idea why people can’t find a way to “stay together for the kids.”

The marriage may not be strong, but you’re married to the music. Move on or move forward. Every band has problems. Just don’t give up because times are hard. Your big break might be just around the corner, or it might never happen.

I just think it’s worth the sacrifices to stay with a group that is moving forward than to start fresh after 5 years, unless something is really wrong.

Just Hug it Out, Bitches!

.:. I’m Not Al, but here’s a New Album.:.

So here it is, the full details of the record which Brandon Flowers has called the “best album of the last 20 years”, we’ll reserve judgement on that.The Killers release their second offering, a twelve track affair, Sam’s Town on October 2 via Island Records.

As previously reported on Gigwise the first single to be cut from the album will be ‘When You Were Young’, which hits the shelves on September 18.

The track listing according to the NME is:
Sam’s Town
When You Were Young
For Reasons Unknown
Read My Mind
Uncle Jonny
My List
This River Is Wild
Why Do I Keep Counting?


Yes…there will be awesome!

The dance-rock revolution of 2004-2005 was spear-headed by this intrepid group from Las Vegas and Franz Ferdinand. Will they continue along to boogie heaven? Is a new sound in the works?

You will have to wait, like I do, until September 18th to find out.


The Roots have sampled indie experimentalists Radiohead on their forthcoming album.

The hip hop collective have taken a section of the ‘Head’s track “You And Whose Army” and used it in their song “Atonement.”

You and Whose Army originally appeared on Radiohead’s acclaimed album Amnesiac.

“Atonement” is one of the tracks featured on The Roots’ new album Game Theory, which Def Jam will be putting out on August 29th.


Just when people start to whine about Radiohead losing touch, they say “Hey ?uestlove, you should use a sample of one of our songs.”

Delicious. I have no doubt that this song will, in fact, be the greatest thing I have ever heard. Thank you, Roots. Thank you, Radiohead.

I am sobbing a bit (happy tears!) but this year keeps getting better!

.:.Following Winchester.:.

Break out your surgical masks (or, you know, don’t) because the gimmicky Liverpudians in Clinic have set the release date for the follow-up to 2004’s Winchester Cathedral. Visitations will be released October 9 on Domino Records, and is set to include “Jigsaw Man,” a song that was made available on the band’s website earlier this year.

Here’s the full tracklisting:
01. Family
02. Animal/Human
03. Gideon
04. Harvest (Within You)
05. Tusk
06. Paradise
07. Children Of Kellogg
08. If You Could Read Your Mind
09. Jigsaw Man
10. Interlude
11. The New Seeker
12. Visitations


.::.Plugging Music Reviews: the Inside Pulse Way.:.

Check out the Archive or you can just click the individual reviews below:

Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country

The Streets – The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living

The Flaming Lips – At War With The Mystics

The 303s – Lines of Parallel Minds

lostprophets – Liberation Transmission

Mew – And the Glass Handed Kites

Ten Things You Might Not Know about Shawn M. Smith:
I have an attitude problem.
I am loud and obnoxious.
I tend to tell inappropriate, or just lousy, jokes in public settings.
I like cooking for friends, family and my girlfriend.
I hate being alone.
I have three tattoos: one each on my shoulder, inner arm and ankle.
I like monkeys and collect anything monkey-related.
I have an enormous toy and comic collection that I cannot bear to part with.
I am only happy and/or productive when it rains (and it’s raining right now.)
He is a total “mama’s boy,” and only wrote this so that fact ten could say “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!”

We’ll be together again in 14, dear readers.

Keep it real!
Ssquared @ MySpace