Piracy by the RIAA: They’re Stealing our Music from Us
Now that the elections are over, whether or not you like who was elected, whether or not you voted, whether or not you care, one issue that we all will be affected by is the decisions our politicians make regarding peer-to-peer (p2p) file-sharing of music. The decision they make will impact the music we listen to, how we listen to it, and which bands are able to rise from obscurity and share their gift with the masses.
In the weeks leading up to November 3rd, I received many pre-recorded phone calls from politicians, celebrities, and yes, even musicians – notably, Puff Daddy and Vanessa Williams. I also received emails from organizations such as Rock the Vote and punkvoter.com, and read an article in Alternative Press magazine featuring conservativepunk.com. It seemed as though the music industry in general had gotten more involved in politics than it ever had – and why not? The decisions our politicians make regarding file sharing will have an immense impact on music.
Right now, Congress is considering laws which would crush p2p file-sharing entirely. One example, the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act, seeks to squash p2p networks. Due to the lack of definitive wording, this act may also make mp3 players (as well as other recording devices) illegal because they support the use of digital music (see http://www.savetheipod.com). If this act passes and this loophole is used to make mp3 players and recording devices illegal, it will infringe upon your freedom to choose how to listen to your music. For example, even if downloaded music does become illegal, would Congress make it illegal for you to “rip” your store-bought CDs to your computer for non-file-sharing purposes? If that’s not illegal, shouldn’t you be allowed to take a mixture of these songs from your store-bought CDs and put them onto your mp3 player for your own listening enjoyment? After all, it is your hard-earned dollar, so shouldn’t you be able to choose how you listen to the music?
In seeking to make p2p networks illegal, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is missing one major point – downloading music is the best way to get free marketing. Musicians and record labels pay nothing for it, and people get to listen to music they normally wouldn’t, thus expanding their minds and encouraging them to buy CDs they normally wouldn’t. In saying the following, I’m assuming that most people have the same mindset that I do when it comes to downloading music: If I like a song, I’ll download it, but unless I really like the band, I’m not going to buy the CD anyway, so the music industry, the stores, and the musicians are not losing any money. On the other hand, if the band puts out more music that I like, I will buy the CD in the store regardless of whether or not I can download it for free – for three reasons. One is the sound quality, because it is very difficult to download an entire album and have every song be crystal clear the way it is on a purchased CD. Secondly, when you buy a disc in the store, you get the cover art, the lyrics, and quite often, extra features that you can use on your computer. In addition to the sound quality and the “extras”, if I like a band, I’m going to support them by going to shows and buying the CDs because I think they deserve it.
Most importantly, making p2p networks and digital music illegal will have a dramatic and negative impact on independent music. Before the implementation of websites where independent bands can post their music online, such as Purevolume and MySpace, it was hard for bands to promote their music outside of their local area. With this new way of “spreading the word”, I’ve been fortunate to hear independent music from outside of my home state of Florida. Without being able to download these songs and listen to new bands, I wouldn’t have been able to hear many of the bands whose CDs I now own – having bought them, legally, from independent record labels. I can’t be the only person who is doing this, either, and with more and more people being able to hear more and more independent music through Purevolume and MySpace, more bands have opportunities to gain a loyal following and rise from obscurity – thus impacting the overall music industry because loyal fans spend money on their favorite bands, and even when these bands become popular, their original following tends to stick with them. For me, this conjures up memories of when A New Found Glory (before they dropped the “A” from their name) was tearing up the local scene in Florida, playing in bars and clubs in front of 50 people…even if they are mainstream music now, the fact that I was a loyal fan “way back when” keeps me interested.
I may only be one person with one paycheck, one checking account, and the ability to buy the CDs that I like, but without being able to hear new music through p2p file-sharing, I wouldn’t know as many artists or buy as many CDs as I do. What the lawmakers and the RIAA forget is that all music starts out somewhere, and it’s not on major record labels with five star promoters. It starts out in tiny clubs, handing out free CD-Rs of their music, or sending out emails with copies mp3 files of songs recorded in basement studios across the nation. It starts with fans listening to those CD-Rs and mp3s and making copies to give to our friends. Eventually, what started with a CD-R or an mp3 ends with success, both in finances and in notoriety.
Band Name: Staring Back
Album Name: On
Best element: Infectious vocals and guitar riffs
Genre: Melodic punk
Label name: Lobster Records (http://www.lobsterrecords.com)
Band e-mail: email@example.com
Staring Back’s sound conjures up memories of The Ataris back in the Blue Skies, Broken Hearts…Next 12 Exits era. This album is a departure from their first EP, The Mean Streets of Goleta in two ways. First and foremost, while The Mean Streets of Goleta was a superb and fun-to-listen-to EP, On has all of that while demonstrating both musical and lyrical maturity. Lyrically, they cover a wide range of deep subjects, ranging from not objectifying women (“You Say”), to leaving an unhealthy relationship (“Note to Self: Don’t Feel Dead” and “Seasick While Standing Still”), and of course the tried-and-true subject matter of broken hearts (“X-Out”).
Secondly, On is far more cohesive than Staring Back’s previous efforts. They’ve crafted a definitive sound for themselves, while avoiding repetition. Each song has its own unique sound and message, but as a whole, the songs combine to create a style of melodic punk that Staring Back can safely claim to be their own, a sound which is fraught with energy and sincerity all in one. The guitar riffs are infectious and catchy, and the vocals beg for the listener to sing along. For example, the break in “The Problem with Fire” where all instruments drop out and it’s just their lead singer, Matt, singing a few lines – you can’t help but join him.
Perhaps the two and a half year break between their first full length, Many Will Play and On, coupled with a few changes in their lineup, gave Staring Back time to really sit back and think about where they wanted to go as a band. If this is the case, the steps they made were definitely in the right direction. This is a CD which lacks a weak or throw-away song. On is a worthy listen for fans of The Ataris, Midtown, Dynamite Boy (also on Lobster Records), and MXPX.
(As a side note – try to catch these boys live as well – they put on one hell of an energetic live show.)
Band Name: Ruth Ruth
Album Name: Right About Now
Best element: Commitment to themselves over fame and fortune.
Genre: Indie Rock/Emo
Label name: Flaming Peach records
Band e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The members of Ruth Ruth are obvious indie rock veterans. They have honed their sound and have fun with their music without really caring what category they fit into. It’s rare that a band plays music for the sake of playing music, but according to a statement on their website:
“Ten years ago when we started, we thought the ultimate goal was to get signed and make a record. Now we are finding that being independent is better for us. The ultimate goal this time was to enjoy the process and make the best album we could. No words to hang on from the “executives”. No songs we “have to play”. And we finally got to do things at our own pace and in our own way.”
This attitude is reflected in their music, as it’s obvious that they love playing music and do it for the fun, and not for the notoriety and riches that corrupt so many bands once they reach the big time.
Overall, Right About Now is evocative of Barenaked Ladies Stunt in its laid back nature and fun-to-listen-to traits. There are some great upbeat tunes on this CD, such as “Electric”, a song apparently about infatuation and sexual tension. This is balanced out by more serious songs, such as “Every Time We Go to Bed”, a song which tells the story of turmoil in a relationship which is only balanced by bedroom intimacy. The song “Jim Baio”, which, appropriately, tells the story of a guy named Jim, has a great grungier sound. This variety keeps the album fresh and fun to listen to from start to finish.
On a personal note, it was great to have a chance to listen to this CD and review it as I remember back when they were on Deep Elm Records–I always enjoyed their sound, but I was just a poor teenager at the time and couldn’t afford to order the music. I feel like I’ve missed out!
Band Name: Ray Perez
Album Name: Delusions of Grandeur
Best element: DIY recording and distribution
Label name: Pearcore Records (http://www.pearcore.com)
Band e-mail: email@example.com
No Cover Art
First things first: Since this CD is not only self-released but self-recorded, self-produced, and self-mixed, the recording quality leaves a lot to be desired. It is scratchy, some tracks sound very distorted, and some tracks are louder than others. But this album is still in my hands. This sort of DIY ethic is something to be admired in an artist. Having gotten that point out of the way, let’s proceed to Ray Perez’s music.
Ray writes music which would be great to have on in the background at a party. It’s easygoing, relaxing, and almost soothing. It doesn’t really sound like anything else you’ve ever heard. His voice sounds a little like Everlast, but the music is uniquely his. There’s a little bit of folk rock, a little bit of industrial/techno, a little bit of straight up rock, a little bit of alternative, a little bit country, and a little bit of Spanish.
His lyrical style is very personal, as he writes about what he sees and experiences first hand, whether it be events in his own life or his reaction to world events. [u]Delusions of Grandeur’s[/u] strong point is in the song “Needle and Thread”, where Ray’s friend Nicole Laas loans her voice for a little bit of the song. The song’s lyrics are a very simple expression of love, and the split male/female vocals add an extra bit of emotion to the song.
The only thing that would make this CD an easier listen is if the recording quality improved. The DIY recording/distribution method is admirable, and the talent is there, but the grainy sound quality makes the CD at times a tough listen. It’s a long CD – an hour and 18 minutes – so having a clearer recording would make it easier to get the full effect of the music, passion, and emotion that Ray Perez puts into his music.
People are continually trying to classify music, but it’s not often that people actually explain their classifications. It’s as if people listen to music and suddenly imparted upon them is every piece of music knowledge needed to survive in music today.
We here at Independent Clauses feel that explanation of our classifications is necessary. This column will be devoted to explaining them, for your benefit as well as ours.
Below is a list of genres that routinely get confused for each other. Some of these are old things with new names. Some of these are old things with old names. Some are just completely new things.
Punk – Been around since the 70’s. The Ramones and the Sex Pistols were the most prominent proponents of it. Bar chords, bad attitudes, anti-establishment, no compromising.
Pop Punk- Been around since the early 90’s. Pop music that wants to be punk, this music is high energy, happy, usually three or four chord songs, sex-driven, girl-driven, simplistic. Boring. Not very giving style, you have to stay between the lines. Drum beats are wicked and usually quarter note snare.
Hardcore Emo (Emocore)
Alt Metal (Nu-metal)
Band Name: Object
Album Name: S/T
Best element: Retro-grunge type sound
Label name: None
Band e-mail: None
No cover art
Object is a band with potential in a unique way: should there ever be a band to remake Nirvana’s [u]Bleach[/u] album and bring on a grunge revival, Object would be the one- they have that retro, grunge rock sound down pat. Thankfully, they’ve gone above and beyond the traditional grunge sound, placing themselves in a unique niche of the genre. Yes, Object chose to follow in the footsteps of Local H, doing away with the bass guitar and featuring only a singer/guitarist and a drummer. This aesthetic contributes to Object’s aggressive sound, as well as the use of heavy electronic distortion on both guitars and vocals.
Unfortunately, at this point in time, Object proves that Local H is the only band who can pull off the duo act. The low production quality of the CD makes it hard to listen to in general, but on top of that, their music sounds flat, their singer’s voice sounds flat, and there really isn’t anything to grab the listener’s attention.
In the future, Object may become a force to be reckoned with. They are talented in their ability to bring back the grunge sound, but the rough production quality of this demo makes it hard for their true talent to shine through.
Is Metalcore the New Emo?
I’m really getting ticked at all these metalcore/hardcore bands that are suddenly getting press just for screaming and thrashing on a guitar and drum set. These guys all say that they are pulling away from their influences and making a new sound while all they are doing is duplicating the sound of Tool, Shadows Fall, Dillinger Escape Plan, and past names in metalcore. Bands like Bury Your Dead and A Perfect Murder are running around saying they will change the face of metalcore/hardcore- and the worst part is that the labels are falling for it.
Labels like Victory and Ferret that had been signing actual melodic hardcore and post-hardcore bands such as Atreyu, A Static Lullaby and Every Time I Die are now turning around and signing bands such as A Perfect Murder (Victory), A Life Once Lost (Ferret) and Remembering Never that have nothing new to bring to the table. I love Dillinger Escape Plan enough that they are one of my favorite bands- but I don’t need to hear 20 bands playing the same thing.
It’s the same situation that so many people complain about with “emo”. Bands like Thursday, Thrice and Cursive set the stage and hundreds followed. Now we are stuck with horrible bands such as Allister, Action Action, and Dashboard Confessional ruling the “emo scene”- bands that put out half-thought-out music for the masses, ignoring their loyal followers from their indie days.
Dashboard is the worst of all. Chris Carrabba cries, longs for lost love, puts together the most basic of chords, calls himself emo, then expects to sell hundreds of thousands of records on Vagrant- and the worst part is that the kids are falling for it.. This screws over everyone from Thursday to Cursive to any Indie “emo” band that is trying to make it because the fringe kids (kids who hate the trends but don’t know the independent scene yet) ignore anyone called “emo”.
I’m worried that this same situation is brewing for metalcore/ hardcore. The scene is being over saturated with bad bands giving the genre a bad name, leaving the good bands so buried that many listeners give up before they find them. Bands like Fear Before the March of Flames and Poison the Well are still out there. You just have to look a little harder for them. And don’t believe the hype.
- Name of Your Band: Underscore
- Where are you from: Washington, D.C.
- Names, ages and instruments of all your members:
Matthew Flyzik – singer – 18
Ryan Sherril – guitarist/singer -21
Paul Martinez – drums – 20
Phil Moy – guitarist/singer – 6
Jason Tipton – bassist – 5
4. Genre: Punk? Pop-punk? Emo? Rock? Whatever you wanna call it.
5. How would you, without comparing yourself to another band, describe your music?
It’s a little of this and a little of that mixed with…Shit! I dunno, I suck at these questions?!?!
6. What bands have you shared a stage with? Fallout Boy, Sugarcult, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, Yellowcard, Stars Hide Fire, Midtown, Hidden in Plain View, The Early November, Punchline, Army of Freshmen, and many many more
7. Quick Tour Story: 2 days before our last tour, our van broke down and we didn’t have enough money to fix it, so we crammed six people into a small SUV and did an entire month long tour in that. 2 of us had to sit, practically on top of each other, in the trunk.
8. Names of all EP/albums and who released them:
“The Spring EP” – March 2004 (independent)
“You’re No Angel” – November 2004 (available ‘ www.smartpunk.com/product.php?item_id=13270)
9. Scene you most identify with:
Not the one where everyone fights over whose white belt is better, whose jeans are tighter, and whose hair is longer and has better blonde streaks. We’re just 5 kids who enjoy music and go to shows to have fun, and our “scene” is kids who feel the same way.
1. Name of Your Band: The Commercials
2. Where are you from: Harrisburg, PA
3. Names, ages and instruments of all your members:
Andy, 26, Bass, Vocals
Tom, 24, Guitar, Vocals
Tony 24, Guitar, Vocals
Dan, 19, Drums
4. Genre: Indie/Rock/Emo
5. How would you, without comparing yourself to another band, describe your music?
I would say our music is melodic, yet it still contains urgency, and some aggressiveness.
6. What bands have you shared a stage with? All kinds of bands, At The Drive In, The Ataris, Saves The Day, Taking Back Sunday, Hot Water Music, Zao, The Starting Line, the list goes on.
7. Quick Tour Story: The best thing that ever happened on tour was we were playing in Knoxville, TN, and the Gin Blossoms were playing right down the street. We were at the show early and we got to meet those guys, and they got us in the show for free, and gave us shout outs from stage. We had all been huge Gin Blossoms fans since we were like 13.
8. Names of all EP/albums and who released them:
It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It- Blackout Records
Twenty Years Tonight -Jumpstart Records
First Time For Everything- Chowda Records
9. Scene you most identify with: I don’t know exactly what this question means, but I think we identify with the underground scene in general. I mean we all come from a punk rock and hardcore background. I kind of consider all that stuff, indie rock, etc. to be one scene.
Band Name: In Memory Of
Album Name: The Things We Try To Forget
Best element: Emotional singer- in a good way.
Genre: Emotional Alternative Rock
Label name: N/A
Band e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
No cover art
The Things We Try To Forget opens with “Underneath”, a strong melodic and emotional rock track with a vocal sound reminiscent of Dryden from Alien Ant Farm, but a musical style more akin to Hoobastank. This sets the tone for the entire CD – melodic and emotional alternative rock.
This CD has two strong points: the steady, emotional voice of the highly talented vocalist and the standout tracks “The View” and “3 Days”. Both of these tracks are a bit more intense and a bit more emotionally involving than the tracks surrounding them, proving that there is more to In Memory Of than just some good rockin’ tracks.
The biggest downfall to this album is that it becomes a bit monotonous at times. With the exception of the two aforementioned tracks, the songs all sound vaguely similar to one another, and while it’s a great listen for a few tracks, but there’s nothing there to really grab a listener’s attention for the entire ten-track album.
In Memory Of does what they do very well- by excellently combining emotion and musical talent, they have mapped out their space in the alt rock world. At the same time, though, there’s nothing contained within which completely separates their music from every other band out there. They are good- there’s no doubt about that – but they’re not groundbreaking artists yet; they have potential, but they haven’t reached full maturity.