The beauty — and the beast — of traversing the Information Super Highway is the over-abundance of exits and off-ramps and auxiliary lanes and four-leaf clovers and connector ramps, all guaranteed to send you barreling down cyber-roads you didn’t even know existed in search of information in which, moments before, you had absolutely no interest. Such was the case Thursday morning when I clicked on a New York Times headline titled “Labels Halt Downloads to Increase CD Sales.” Jeff Leeds’ fine article examined how the Island Def Jam label chose not to make Ne-Yo’s R&B smash hit “So Sick” available online for downloading (from services like Rhapsody or iTunes) before the CD hit the stores last week, and postulated that “if the industry determines that restricting digital sales pays off with bigger album sales, fans may soon find the instant gratification of snapping up new songs online becoming a little less instant.”
Unless the music industry experiences another creative renaissance the likes of the late Seventies punk movement (or the post-punk one in the Nineties), this news won’t cause this listener to lose any sleep.
What caught my eye in the article, however, and returns us to the note on which this post began (it already seems so long ago), was this bit of reportage: “‘The labels are shooting themselves in the foot,’ said Tim Quirk, executive editor of the Rhapsody music service. To the labels, Mr. Quirk advises, ‘every single track that you are worried about is available for free whether you want it to be or not.'”
Not only did I suspect that Mr. Quirk’s assessment was dead-on, I fondly recognized his name from musical days gone by. In the Eighties and Nineties, Tim Quirk was lead singer and songwriter for the terrific punk pop band Too Much Joy, with whom he penned lyrics like:
Jack’s in his corset
Janie’s in her vest
Lou’s hawking scooters
and American Express
Is it any wonder, before moving on to Rhapsody, he wrote about music for publications like Raygun, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The San Francisco Bay Guardian, to name but a few? He was already practicing rock & roll journalism within his own songs. (Pretty much all of Too Much Joy’s music, including their classic albums Son of Sam I Am and Cereal Killers, as well as that of other Too Much Joy-related bands, is available for listening and download by clicking on the following image. Free.)
Which brings us back to how we so easily get lost on the Internet highways and byways. I Googled Tim Quirk and, amongst the bevy of results, found myself at the KEXP 90.3 FM website. Apparently, back in 2003, Quirk participated in something called the Pop Conference, where he delivered a paper called “I Was Going to Title this Paper ‘Been Caught Stealing,’ but Warner Wanted Five Grand and Perry Ferrell’s Publisher Demanded 50 Percent of Any Money It Ever Made: Why All Artists Should Be Horrified By Sample Clearance Practices.