Hey kids! Today I'm going to take this opportunity to ridicule my former employers, now that they are customers!
On June 12, we're hosting the release party for Mozilla 1.0. For those of you who haven't been following along at home, my first ever experience in nightclub promotion was throwing the first Mozilla party back in 1998. A year later, when the company proved to me that its head was so far up its collective ass that it wasn't going to be able to ship anything usable before I went insane, I threw a second party and quit in April 1999.
Well, it's now a bit over three years since I quit, and they're finally about to release 1.0! I'm actually very happy for them, because I think it will end up being a good product. But I'm sure glad I didn't have to help them roll that boulder up the hill for those last three years. In that time, I took about a year off, and then Barry and I created a whole new business from scratch in a completely different industry, and that was far more interesting than continuing to work on the same old thing I'd been doing since 1994. (Or 1985, depending on how you count.)
So anyway, I'm organizing this party for them. It's roughly the fourth anniversary of the release of the source code. We had cleverly called the first party "Mozilla dot party, one dot oh." We had a party the next year that we called "two dot oh", where we celebrated, uh, the fact that we hadn't shipped anything yet (that was not coincidentally the day I quit.) However, it gave me the opportunity to book one of my favorite bands, Emergency Broadcast Network. (Speaking of which, hey Greg, are you out there? I've lost track of what your email address is these days.)
They had another party the next year, cleverly called "three dot oh," and then they gave up, so the "four dot oh" party never happened.
Coincidentally, that was about the same time that Netscape (oh, did I say Netscape? I meant the Netscape brand identity as worn by the AOL-Time-Warner leviathan) decided that the fact that it had been four years since Netscape Confusicator 4.x had been released was starting to get really embarrassing, so they packaged up a very early alpha of Mozilla and released it under the Netscape name. They also decided, apparently, that calling it 5.0 would have been embarrassing, so they called it 6.0 instead, to leap-frog over Microsoft's latest version number. Were you fooled? I wasn't fooled.
Anyway, this succession of events clearly, to me, makes this party "five dot oh." So that's what I wrote in the party announcement and FAQ I wrote for them last week, part of which went like this:
Now I thought that was pretty damned funny, but hey, what did I expect: they still have no sense of humor and took that out. They decided to call the party "1.0" again, so now the succession of party names goes 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, none, 1.0. Huh?
This is the bandwidth consumption graph of the machine that serves up the audio webcasts for last week. Look at that hole where Webcast Blackout Day was! (We served roughly the same number of hits, but comparitively no bandwidth, since nobody listened to the looping robot voice doing a public service announcement for very long.)
This spam made me laugh:
Subject: Digital Rights Management
Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 13:35:33 -0400
We acquired your name from The Musician's Atlas 2002 published by Music Resource Group. And as a leader in the musical industry we thought you would be interested in acquiring more information about the world of DRM (Digital Rights Management) the new technology for securely downloading copyrighted materials over the internet. [...]
For those of you not following along at home, "Digital Rights Management" is the latest doublethink buzzword for "making it impossible for you to copy your legally-purchased CDs to your computer" and "making it impossible for you to download music off the net." Yeah, sign me up!
Not much to report this week. The biggest drama we had was that our SoundWeb (the computer that runs the whole sound system) melted down on friday afternoon. We were able to borrow one from Townsend so that we actually had a sound system on friday night, but apparently something wasn't configured right on the loaner, and so we ended up with no webcast on friday. Oops... Well, we have a new one today, and the webcast tonight seems to be working. I hope it was just the power supply or something: SoundWebs are really expensive, and if we have to replace it, it's going to put a serious crimp in the debt-reduction progress we've been making lately...
I suppose I ought to be screwing around with the kiosks and working around the couple of problems that are preventing me from being comfortable installing Mozilla as the club's web browser. I really ought to find some way to make those go away before the Mozilla party next month, so that I don't have to spend the whole night answering the question of why it's not installed. But you know, that just sounds like the farthest possible thing from fun. I'd much rather hack on screen savers...
Congratulations, Mollie and Alex!
Tonight we hosted a wedding reception for our good friends Mollie Gilbert, aka DJ Melting Girl of Death Guild, and her new husband Alex Warren. They had a lovely ceremony under the rotunda at the Palace of Fine Arts, and then invited a hundred of their friends and family over to DNA for a pre-honeymoon party. We all wish them the best!
In other news, we've just confirmed a new live show:
I am so looking forward to this! I saw Download play at DNA Lounge once before, a year or two before we took over and remodeled the place, and it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. I think that was the last real live performance I saw at DNA before we moved in!
I'm always shocked when there's any sign of sanity occuring in opposition to corporate interests, but the Copyright Office has rejected the CARP recommendation. This was the proposal that would have forced webcasters to pay such enormous royalty payments that it would have pretty much shut down all small webcasters over night. You can read the details over at the Save Internet Radio and Radio And Internet Newsletter sites. On the off chance that you haven't been following this (unlikely if you're reading this web page at all!) you can find some background info in my Webcasting Legality article.
Note that while they have rejected the current proposal, we still don't know what the eventual decision will be; this just means everyone goes back to the negotiating table. But presumably the eventual decision will be less egregious than this last proposal!
Let me just start by saying AAAAARRRGGGGGHHHH!!!
So, the Download show has been cancelled, after having been on our calendar for less than three days.
The band's representative had signed the contracts and webcast agreement, so we thought we were done: we went ahead and announced the show and started selling tickets. Two days later, they came back to us and said, "by the way, no webcast."
Apparently the first time cEvin actually read the contract was two days after we'd already gotten a signed copy back, and it wasn't one he would have signed. It's still unclear to me whether this was because of his personal beliefs, or because his record label doesn't allow it, or because he just thinks his record label doesn't allow it. But, we've had dozens of other signed bands perform here, and none of them have had a problem with it.
Had we known ahead of time that they wouldn't agree to the webcast, we wouldn't have booked the show. But we thought that was all settled already. I'm very sorry that we found out about this so late in the game. We didn't mean to get everyones' hopes up unnecessarily; we really had every reason to believe that the deal was done, and the show was on.
In fact, Download is the very first band who has ever turned us down because of the webcast.
People keep asking me, "well can't you just black out the webcast for that night?" I could, but I won't. These webcasts we do are completely integral to the mission of this club: doing the webcasts is a major part of why I opened the club in the first place. I see them as one of the major benefits we have over other venues.
And if there's one thing that the last year of operating this club has taught me, it's that there's a world of difference between the words "never" and "sometimes." The difference is that "sometimes" means "always." The first time we booked a show and turned off the webcast, that would become the norm and not the exception. Because just about every time someone hears about the webcasts, their gut reaction is, "ooh, scary, we can't do that." But when we push back, they go and talk to whoever they need to talk to, and realize that it's not actually a problem after all. And then after it goes off, they think it was really cool.
But it would be easier not to webcast, in that it would mean less conversations about it. And then we'd end up being just like every other club: doing webcasts only once in a blue moon, if at all.
How can anyone possibly think that a live webcast is anything but a benefit to the band? Even if someone does manage to save an MP3 of the show (something that's not very easy to do), in what alternate universe can that possibly hurt record sales rather than helping them? It's nothing but free exposure for the artist ("free" in the sense of "DNA is paying a lot of money to do it for them.")
God dammit, I really wanted to see this show.
I'm enjoying this Kidneythieves album that they sent us -- yay club swag! (You're coming to the show next week, right?) All I'd heard of them before was a two-song single that someone gave me a few years ago, which I liked. This is industrial-rock with female vocals and occasionally-trip-hoppy electronics. They're a bit like Radio Iodine, or maybe Curve, if Curve were Kittie. (No, that's not right. Oh, nevermind, I couldn't write a music review to save my life.)
I will say, though, that I really miss industrial with guitars.
(Of course I really miss old-school EBM as well, which the arrival of guitar-industrial pretty much killed off in the early 90s. But whichever; the progressive house and/or retread-synthpop that most people seem to call "industrial" these days just doesn't cut it for me.)
I got a nice email from Phil Western apologizing for the Download cancellation mess, which made me feel a lot better. I'm still edging closer to deciding that the webcasts are just not worth the fucking hassle, though. I haven't reached that decision yet, but doubt grows. Here's a summary of the debate going on inside my head:
I wouldn't be having this debate with myself if it was any of: cheap-and-easy; or influential; or appreciated. But it's none of those, really.
Since that last entry, I've gotten a number of messages from listeners telling me how much they appreciate the webcasts. Though it's definitely nice to actually hear that from people, I should clarify that when I said "unappreciated" above, I meant by the artists, not by the fans. I never had any doubt that there were a lot of folks out there who enjoy and appreciate the webcast... I've got the bandwidth bill to prove it! If people weren't interested, people wouldn't be listening, and there are a lot more people trying to listen than we actually let in!
Not too surprisingly, most of the people who wrote me about this were people who live in the middle of nowhere: I guess the internet would have to play a much larger role in music discovery for people who aren't in or near large cities.
One guy said that his usual technique is to try and write down any lyrics he hears of songs he likes, then feed those into a search engine to find out what the song is. He said: "I figure you have sold me over $500 worth of CD's this year, yet you have to pay to sell me that and you don't get a commission? What the hell is this world coming to?"
A few people suggested setting up some kind of online "tip jar" to take donations for the webcast. That might be worth looking into, but I have my doubts about it; nobody ever pays for shareware. I'm also not sure of the ASCAP implications: if our web site changes from zero revenue to a tiny bit of revenue, are they going to expect us to pay more? I think they might, but I no longer remember how their rules work.
One guy had a suggestion I really like, which is that we put a suggestion on the webcast page that people contact the band to let them know that the webcast is appreciated, and that it provides them with exposure to a wider audience. Maybe if more artists were hearing feedback like that, they'd be less worried.
Anyway, on to current events.
Last week some doofus threw up over the bar. It was very early in the evening, he did a shot, then dove forward to yakk right in the well ("the well" is the part of the backside of the bar where the ice and cheap liquor lives.) Now our bars are pretty deep, you've got to really work at it to reach all the way over like that! Amazing. He bolted out of the room before we could have him tossed out, but that happened a few hours later.