Tale Of Two Worlds

Jeff H.:

Re: YouTube

"Just go to YouTube and plug "knopfler this is us" in the search box and you too can watch the video."

Make that COULD have watched the video. When I went there, I got the following message tonight (Friday): "This video has been removed due to copyright infringement."

Ed Teja:

Re: YouTube

Hey the Mark/Emmylou video has been removed "Due to copyright infringement". Did you attract too much attention to it?

Let’s recap. I heard Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris’ "This Is Us" on XM, the service that Warner Brothers is SUING, seeing it as the enemy as opposed to a friend, and I fire up my browser and search for a MySpace page. I don’t find an official one, only a FAN site. I still don’t believe MySpace breaks acts, but I DO know that music FANS are conditioned to go to the site to hear streams of songs by their favorite acts. I.e., you’re interested in an act, you CHECK IT OUT! But the staff at Warner Brothers didn’t seem to get the memo. If you want to hear Knopfler and Harris performing, you’ve got to go to THEIR site. Not the acts’, but WARNER BROTHERS’! And it’s the ELEVENTH LISTING! Done in a typeface so small and so blue that if you’re of an age to LIKE Knopfler and Harris you can’t read it. Then, at the end of the spiel, you click and are taken to ANOTHER page, that allows you to click once more and launch the player and listen to the music. What, are the dodos in Burbank still living in the nineties? When record companies lamely tried to establish THEIR label sites as destinations? Before they rarely updated them with lame information and everybody went elsewhere? (Turns out there IS one song on Emmylou’s homepage, but not the single. Yup, stream the album track, don’t appease curiosity.)

Then you’ve got the curious case of YouTube. Fans, just like the one who established the MySpace page, doing the label’s work FOR IT, capture and put up footage of Knopfler and Harris’ Letterman appearance. What do you think motivated them? Theft? Fucking the big corporation? No, they wanted to share the JOY! But I guess WB is a joyless corporation, because they had YouTube take the video down. Even though another lame version is posted elsewhere. So NOW people will see their product in a WORSE quality. Isn’t this what their charge Flea was railing against?


Or maybe it’s not WB at all, but the Letterman show.

Go to the Letterman homepage. Tell me you can find ANYTHING! I searched for more than five minutes and couldn’t find a link to this Knopfler/Harris performance, do you think the average person my age who’s not an inveterate surfer will? (And, of course, my instinct tells me it’s not even posted, just sitting in some vault, aging by the minute, waiting for some future exploitation by Les Moonves’ grandkids.)

Then we’ve got the case of James McMurtry.

As you will remember, I castigated his label, Compadre, for removing the acoustic version of James’ "We Can’t Make It Here" from their site.

But it turns out Compadre wasn’t at fault at all. They were just following James’ wishes.

But unlike the corporate behemoths, when I shined the light on the issue, that I preferred the acoustic take, and many other people did too, James decided to PUT IT BACK UP!


Compadre says they’ll put the acoustic version back up, though I still much prefer the band version. I prefer the bleeped, download band version to the unbleeped album version. We recorded and mixed the song in one day (I played all the guitars, since I didn’t have time to schedule any expensive players), trying to get it on the net before the election. We mixed to CD24 with some kind of cheapo pre-mastering program. For the CD, I used the same mix, but transferred it to half inch analog and had it mastered very carefully trying to dig out the frequencies where the vocal was hiding. I was a Luddite, steeped in the old LP era prejudice that tape always improves matters. I was wrong. This track is better all digital, more space. I didn’t figure that out until the record was already out.

Now I hope I can write some songs worthy of my hard won producorial knowledge.

take care

Now did Mark Knopfler not get what I wrote? Did some intermediary, someone at the label, decide not to send it on for fear of backlash? Probably. That’s the way it works in the big time world. There’s a filter between the fan and the act. The act only hears what it wants to and has no IDEA what’s going on in the street. To its detriment.

So Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris think their label has done everything it can for them, is doing its job, since WB got them an appearance on the "Late Show". But, it’s not happening on the "Late Show" anymore. There’s no sales blip after an appearance. It’s a scattershot approach, playing to those not interested. Whereas those who care are left out in the dark. Searching on MySpace and YouTube for nuggets, which are removed by the corporate behemoths in their ongoing fight against PIRACY!

First comes exposure, THEN comes "piracy". At first no one cares. You play for free, give your music away for free, just trying to garner fans, establish a career. Sure, once you’ve made it you might be worried about people not paying, but to take this approach is to miss the point. A career is an ongoing enterprise. It’s like a shark, constantly moving, or it dies. You’ve got to satiate the old fans and make new ones. As soon as you establish hard boundaries, make it too tough to find out what you’re up to, people turn away and go elsewhere.

It’s like having a girlfriend you can only see once a year. It wouldn’t take long before you’d move on. Those streams on MySpace, those videos on YouTube, they’re like dates. GOOD ONES! That keep people hooked.

You can lament the fact that Apple owns online music. And MySpace has social networking with music cornered. And that YouTube is the home of video on the Web. But unlike in the physical world, EVERY establishment is easily reached on the Net, so the best one is paramount, and rules. Maybe not forever, but for now. The critical mass ENHANCES them. Don’t fight this rule, embrace it. The more cacophony there is, the more sites, the more the surfer is confused and tunes out. In a world where it’s so hard to be recognized to begin with. I mean meet them halfway. Be THRILLED that fans are doing your work. Give them the tools. Let them sell… Hell, it’s cheaper than paying all those indie promoters and radio stations. The Net is the new radio, it’s harder to get noticed, anything that gives you a leg up should be EMBRACED!

To download James McMurtry’s SPECTACULAR acoustic version of "We Can’t Make It Here" click the link on the home page of James’ site or go directly to Compadre’s site. Once again, to download on a Mac, hold down the Control key when you click and select "Download Linked File" in the pop-up menu.

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.