A few musical notes. One of our correspondents is sad we didn’t note the release of the new Radiohead album last week, but we only now had a chance to download it (paying £5 which seemed only fair) but we need a few more listens before it becomes a part of us. We were also enthused about Moog Acid, the mashup of Luke Vibert and Jean Jacques Perrey, the French electro pioneer. That is primo noodling, bleeps and blips, especially the track that sounds like Delius.
That put us in mind of a few other things. CMJ, the big music festival is going on in NYC this week. In years past we used to go, and toyed with the idea of going this year, but we’re just too busy to go see 50 bands a night, sadly. We noted there’s a panel called Comic Books, Kung-Fu and Hip-hop this Friday which promises “A swift kick of identity, metaphor and homage from prolific hip-hop artists who have used comic book and kung-fu motifs in their music as well as comic book creators who have made hip-hop come to life on the page.” which sounds kind of interesting. Panelists include graphic novelist Percy “MF Grimm” Carey, DJ Excess, DJ IXL, Johnny “Juice” Rosado, Adam Wallenta. Given the huge hiphop comics crossover, it’s a fertile topic for study. Vertigo is listed as a co-sponsor, which is a bit of a return, because if recall rightly, DC experimented with promotion at CMJ in the past.
That got us to thinking about the huge coverage CMJ gets in the local media, with guides to what to see and do. It struck us, looking at the extensive coverage of SPX in the Washington Express, that shows like MoCCA and SPX are increasingly seen as the comics equivalent of CMJ or SXSW, with the local trend based media covering them as things you should see full of interesting people. It’s a refreshing development.
Speaking of Radiohead, while we’re all wondering about comics downloads and delivery options and so on, the music industry is in a complete tizzy about this very subject, being rocked to its very core by recent developments, as MTV reports:
The record industry is in a freefall, with annual album sales around half of what they were in the late ’90s due primarily to downloading — a situation that can only get worse. Then a trio of high-profile defections made headlines in the last few days: Radiohead eschewed “traditional” routes and released In Rainbows largely on their own (see “Radiohead’s In Rainbows To Be Released Digitally October 10 — You Decide The Price!”); Trent Reznor declared his freedom from Interscope (then basically attempted to scuttle the label-release of his Year Zero Remixed album by promising to leak all the tracks himself); and Madonna is leaving Warner Bros. in favor of a big-money deal with concert promoter Live Nation that includes albums, concert promotion, licensing and merchandising. Needless to say, things are pretty rough for the majors these days.
In fact, one could ask the question: Do artists of a certain caliber even need major labels anymore? Couldn’t acts like Pearl Jam, R.E.M. or the Dave Matthews Band survive — and even thrive — on their own? And doesn’t the answer to this question (which seems to be an unequivocal “yes”) lead to an even larger one: Are major labels becoming obsolete?
That’s a good question. When you note that the nets are starting to offer TV on the web it’s been obvious for some time that sooner or later everyone in the video entertainment biz is going to go to digital downloading. Will comics follow suit? It seems like only a matter of time, and we’ve already heard of several more comics companies offering extensive lists of downloadable comics. It doesn’t take a Faith Popcorn to see that this will be the big story in 2008.