Monday, February 20, 2006

post conference notes and bits

Just attended a pretty fun conference of the International Association for Popular Music. As far as I could tell, I was the only person presenting about law, or property rights, except for one of my fellow panelists (1)

Quite a crew: mostly ethnomusicologists, musicologists, American Studies people and communications peeps, as far as I could tell. A pretty relaxed bunch, style-wise, some snazzy peeps around (2) and (3), and a more grizzled cadre of folk, more male, and more pale, whom I projected (likely inaccurately) mostly do stuff about the 60s: ponytails abound among the older men in this segment, hip glasses among the younger. There’s my definition of snazzy. And yes, I have hip glasses. I also wore my purple metallic flats I got from Insider’s Outlet (that were almost 70% off and sigerson Morrison -SCORE), until it started snowing outside.

I kept re-writing and practicing my talk, trying to avoid the dreaded academic-syndrome (interesting work read directly from the page, result: audience death from boredom and difficulty following long and dense sentences). I think I did okay, ultimately, as far as being lively. But I felt bad because it seemed like most of the questions afterwards were ‘ask-a-lawyer’ questions like: “can I do this or is it illegal?” to which the answer is 1) I don’t think anyone knows for sure about most of these issues, and 2) I’m not talking about that, really, i'm talking about how people discussing music use categories that limit their ability to make rights claims..

Also, it didn’t help my nerves that J. Toomey who’d just given a killer presentation for the Future of Music Coalition, and whom I admire very much, was sitting front and center and seemingly focused (but not very cheerfully) on me. Considering she’d come straight off a much-delayed plane to her own presentation after what sounded like a day in transit, though, I’m amazed she stuck around at all, and i shouldn't pretend it was necessarily anything to do with me. If I was in her shoes I mighta been sleeping with my eyes open.. anyway I know it’s pointless to project onto an audience. I couldn’t keep from hoping that what I said seemed relevant or interesting, especially to folks involved in activism, because that is what I want to be a part of. And that’s one of the organizations (like the EFF) that I keep wanting to have a project or some good reason to interact with, and it hasn’t quite come yet. Early days yet I suppose.

For a first paper, it didn’t do badly, I kept to time, and a couple folk afterwards said it was clear, and people did seem generally interested (I saw some nods out there at various points). I think it was pretty different from the kinds of things other people were talking about, but it still seemed relevant to some of the folks I talked to, which is hopeful.

There were some highlights from the rest of the weekend:
  1. One of my fellow presenters (Prof. Geoff Hull, MTSU) gave an illuminating if depressing overview of the state of unpublished works, music that was never officially released. Based partly on the Capitol v. Naxos case (which I think I’ve already mentioned as one of the more depressing recent legal decisions.. what are they smoking in NY, where the Bridgeport music anti-sampling case went down as well?), and in a really recent ongoing case with some recordings of Hank Williams that were made as spots for radio and then fell by the wayside. Who has the right to sell copies of these kinds of recordings? A hint: it’s totally complicated and makes no sense.
    1. Another highlight was that he played recordings they have at the Center for Popular Music at the university where the conference was, some of which are in this unclear legal limbo.. including the Golden Gate Quartet! Lovely sounds.

  2. A killer set of papers on video game music. The one I liked best was on Grand Theft Auto’s radio station programming.. almost redeemed the game for me, it was so interesting.. although whenever I watch it I feel twitchy and sick. I think I’d just cruise around listening to the radio (assuming I managed to score a car with one somewhere). Who’s going to write the program that hacks into GTA and inserts your own programming? Hard to do on a separate platform game I guess, but I have faith. Then again the Pico-pico music one was pretty frickin fun. I am now seeking out Plus-tech Squeezebox for their fabulous sounds.

  3. Also good sounds coming from a presentation on Taiwanese rap. The content was good as well (notions of authenticity figured in a well-nuanced way), but I confess I’m even more hot for some of those records!! Some coool sounds to drop here and there, although I guess I should ask someone to vet the lyrics too
  4. karaoke at the hotel bar on the last night. too funny.
back to the conference itself, after three or four panels, I started noticing how difficult it seemed to be (or how rare) to incorporate a gender critique into one’s analysis. Either you “do gender” or you don’t, I guess. While I think there is definitely space to focus on one particular kind of analysis, I also felt like there should be a way to bring in gender as a concern more often...

I’m totally hypocritical, because I haven’t integrated a gendered or a feminist analysis into my own research and approach. I guess I can say I’m influenced by especially feminist analysis, that I see as coming from feminism, of the “personal/political” in that I’m very wary of naturalizing systems that create hierarchies of power, even if they seem to be personal/private/individual sets of acts. I don’t buy arguments that things are ‘just personal’ or ‘private/individual’ acts. But as far as incorporating a gender story into my concerns – so far, not so much. Although one of my papers this semester will hopefully do just that, since I want to get into the idea of fans and fandom and if there's a way to discuss the creativity that goes on there, as well as whether fan scan make some claims for rights to access music, and also the way fandom seems like it might be gendered (and possibly rights claims limited) - girl fans = consumers, boy fans = expertise...

Monday, February 13, 2006

A new look

I changed templates. Partly because the old one was acting very strange. But I'm not wild about the pink here. Hopefully I can get my css wizards in the cizzastle to fix up a better color at least for the links.

Still and all, a small development. Happy new year.

In other news, went to a really good party on Saturday, thrown by the lovely 5lowershoppers. Left too early, saw many many good friends, and heard some fantastic sounds. Big up Eustachian! Serious props to The Stapler (some people listen up and give this man a record deal)! Big up DJ Savage Rhythm! Big up Exillon! Big up Heartworm (the man who, along with the ill-ustrious Aaron Spectre, got me my first gig in NYC)!

I'll write a coherent post on this later -perhaps on the plane to the conference. Suffice, for now, to say that proper warehouse madness, done up right, is good for the soul. A good big sound system and a good smaller sound system (oh, big up Amandroid!), plenty of circusy squattery crusty fabulous peeps, and all my beloved NY transplants holding down the gettin-things-done vibe (big up Jack Clang! Nic Fit! SOUR! ). It warmed my heart to see all the people who made such good stuff happen in NY, all these peeps I've worked with to make stuff happen, still making it happen and I get to live near them again. I sense some good things in the Bay Area coming up.

I also saw Drop The Lime on Friday. the contrast between the gigs was fascinating. A lovely guy, an interesting show. Also saw many peeps, from the other side of the Bay Area electronic music world.

more sound commentary to come.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

of substance

I keep waiting and waiting for something Of Substance to post about. But really I'm juggling so much stuff that it's rare I can pull it together with proper conviction.

Things on the table right now:
  • A gig, courtesy of the lovely peeps who threw our LA show, in Baja, Mexico. Some big crew fom San Diego runs the main spaces, but we run tings in the experimental/chillout room, with a crew of nice kids, up in the mountains somewhere with a hot spring. um? word.
  • A presentation at the International Association of Popular Music's US branch annual conference, in Murfreesboro TN. Title? Listening to law, getting law to listen: music practice and legality. This is part of my hope that academics and music fans (which I am assuming are both represented at the conference) can be involved in building new vocabularies around music use - breaking down the consumer/producer framework, which is something that helps people interpret and enforce laws and certain kinds of rights, but that doesn't necessarily relate to how people engage with music. I'm especially interested in how people claim rights over music use - are there other ways than insisting on rights based in being either a consumer or producer?
  • Possible gig in Nashville? cross your fingers..
  • Research on fans and fandom - can we look at music fans as creative contributors, and fandom as a productve activity? What does that get us?
    Mmmaybe some challenges to the current legal system which basically looks at fans as consumers, or even worse (for those of thus critical of the "freedom of contract" model of law which assumes everyone is free to negotiate their terms and courts will limit unconscionable contracts sensibly), individual contractors with record labels for limited rights over music recording.
  • Listening to Dubstep, bemoaning the lack of access to the records, and the difficulty of building a properly eclectic set when you are on the broke side. But excited about several levels of music these days
    • Dubstep generally, particularly Skream, Boxcutter, Digital Mystikz, Kode9, Appleblim
    • the Ladybug label looking very promising
    • Forthcoming Math-head release
    • Forthcoming Jason Forrest tour
    • Drop the Lime, this weekend at the Hemlock (SF). Woo! I love this guy's music, and his artwork (he did all the artwork for my death$ucker cd), and he's generally awesome, and hopefully we can go out to brunch in the sunshine and wander the pretty city (a major distinction from when I lived in NY - natural beauty all over the frickin place).. ah I know it's not very hardcore of me, with all the brunch talk, but hey, gingerbread pancakes with poached pears. Hardcore as f*ck.
    • Right, music. this was list of music, not my favorite breakfast foods.
    • Which, incidentally, would inlude bagels and lox except that that's the one thing you simply can't get a decent version of in the bay area. Dammit.
    • Food-related, kids-tv-show-related, and just plane wtf-related samples in Baltimore club music. I have to say, get me to bmore because I want to see a clubful of people getting down to the Spongebob song. Plus it's fun to play
    • El Kano's mixes, from the Adverse Camber crew. More musical kin.
    • On the sunnier side of sound: Framix, Amadou & Mariam.
  • Extending and updating my work on the development of the Jamaican music industry in the virtual absence of copyright law (absent both in terms of popular use of the ideas inherent in (c) and in terms of enforcement).
  • Organizing a lecture series on the boundaries of property rules in different fields and what happens when people question them or when they get introduced. Thinking: forestry vs. biotech, music vs. land use, etc.. Structures for interdisciplinary conversation are always a challenge. Negotiating the vagaries of intra-academy fundraising is another..
  • Working on a podcast and a new mix, but waiting for some crucial records to include. sigh.
  • coordinating the issues involved in moving to live in Berlin for most of the summer, doing preliminary/exploratory research, djing, and contining my job (research on privacy and surveillance issues in public spaces). Housing, gigs, a tour here or there, gigs in the UK, gigs everywhere in europe, trying to go south too..
I need a bigger table