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Archive for July, 2005

$1000 Design Contest Extended to August 16th, 2005

Friday, July 29th, 2005

Good news — you got more time to get the word out about the design contest and you got more time to make a design for the design contest because the deadline has been extended to August 16th, 2005. The design contest entails you winning $1000 for designing the chosen interface of a next generation video player application for your desktop, $300 for designing a winning logo, or $200 for telling the winner about it (seriously). So, get all designy on us, already.

PCF is also announcing a much anticipated countdown to a release of the video player — on August 9th, 1005, 11 days from now, we will be letting the Mac OSX Beta version of the DTV video player go public. We’ll still be keeping the name to ourselves until we do the big Windows and Mac joint-launch, but until then you can go here to see why internet television is almost here, with quotes from notables.

Spitzer did it

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005

Spitzer reached an agreement with Sony BMG today on a multiple-decade payola scandal and effectively got Sony BMG to stop violating federal law with their payola practices and pay a $10 million fine for what they have done up until now. Payola is cash bribes for airplay on the radio (pay + vitriola), outlawed in 1960, it returned when positions for “independent promoters” were devised and could act as a clandestine money funnel to top dj’s.

The best part about the deal is that there will be more crackdowns and more payola-crushing with Spitzer out in the loose. Can Spitzer clear up this labyrinthine, corporatized crap? It seems like Spitzer is having a pretty easy time at it, the real hindrance to getting this part done was getting people to start thinking that when major labels cover the entire field of radio that there’s a serious problem for music (and culture).

“Spitzer has asked for documents from three other major recording industry names — EMI, Warner Music Group and Vivendi Universal SA’s Universal Music Group. While Spitzer would not talk specifically about investigations into those companies, he said the payola problem goes “way beyond Sony BMG.”

Have a listen to your independent radio (or a drink), it’s on Spitzer. Spitzer, This is awesome. Thank you.

Spitzer, Smackdown, Booya.

Friday, July 22nd, 2005

Eliot Spitzer, NY Attorney General extraordinaire, is close to reaching a settlement with Sony BMG to end payola in the music industry:

As part of the settlement, Sony BMG, the second-biggest of the four major music conglomerates, is expected to admit to misconduct in its radio promotion practices and agree to a series of changes that would limit attempts to influence airplay, according to people involved in the discussion.

For instance, the company is expected to end its use of independent promoters middlemen who are paid to persuade programmers to add new songs and put in place regulations that limit the paid advertising it can place at a radio station. Sony will also likely forgo future use of so-called “spin programs,” in which labels pay stations to air songs repeatedly, usually with an eye toward manipulating a song’s appearance on industry airplay charts.

Plus fines for the major labels! The deal isn’t totally sealed yet, but seems to be well on its way. Isn’t it great to see corruption get rooted out at least once in a while?

This rules, and a huge thank you from music lovers to you, Mr. Spitzer. There will probably still be a bunch of sneaky crap that goes on like concert promotion play-for-airplay, but this is a big big step forward. It means more money in the pockets of major label bands (less gets wasted on zero-sum game radio bribes) and it means a much better chance for independent music to get onto the air.

Help low power FM: do this now!

Friday, July 22nd, 2005

Here’s a simple thing you can do that will help make independent radio more of a reality in your city. From our friends/heroes at Prometheus Radio:

On July 7th, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking asking a number of important questions about the future of the Low Power FM (LPFM) radio service. This is the most important opportunity for you to comment on the direction of LPFM since the service was implemented 5 years ago.

Tell the FCC you want Low Power FM.

You know those commercial stations that play payola music? And you know those college and community stations that play weird, awesome, interesting music? If you want more of the latter sometime in your lifetime, this is the kind of stuff you have to pay attention to and get active on.

And if you care about this stuff you should get on Prometheus’s email list (see the checkbox at the bottom).

M.I.A. Interview

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

In June, most of the Downhill Battle hometeam headed out to western Mass, to see M.I.A. play in Northampton. Her show was awesome, as you would expect. Holmes managed to get back stage and get an interview. It’s a must read / must listen:

“You know, I get to stick my fingers up at every single person in the music industry and go– pssht, I didn’t need your fucking play on the radio so fuck you and no, I’m not going to edit Sunshowers.”

Go: M.I.A. Interview.

Listen to the mp3, if you prefer: M.I.A. interview audio. Feel free to use the audio anyway you’d like to (want to rebroadcast it on your popular podcast show?). Enjoy the click track and the ambient intro.

PCF Design Contest Hopes to Bring Good Design and $1300 prize

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

Downhill Battle members have been working on a new project as you may all know — a next generation video player for your computer. The video player is the most important piece of the decentralizing media platform that we’re making and it is at the point where it needs some design work.

That’s why PCF is having a design contest for any socially-minded and all designers out there who want to take a stab at the main interface of the video player. Winning design wins you $1000. You can also design a logo for the player/platform and win $300. The coolest part for non-designers is the chance to win $200 if the person you told about the contest ends up winning the main $1000 prize — so shout it out on your blog, radio show, or at your design community and hook us up with an awesome design (and get yourself double 100’s). Contest ends July 31st — check it out now.

Alternative Freedom Trailer

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

Twila and Shaun sent us a link to the trailer for their movie Alternative Freedom. It looks awesome. Watch the Trailer. And here’s their blog.

Carbon Silicon is Smart Online

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

Members of the Clash and Generation X have a new band called Carbon Silicon that encourages downloading of their music and posts demo of songs as they develop. “What we’re talking about here is fans who are sharing music… It’s just like you did when you were young, when you made a cassette of your favourite tracks you’d love, and would give it to a friend and say ‘listen to this.'” Check out their website.

The death of the CD: now underway

Monday, July 18th, 2005

It seems like the death of the CD is happening before our very eyes. After a couple years of decline and then a couple years of flattening off, CD sales are nosediving– down 7% this year so far. A drop of 7% might not seem like much, but in business it can be devastating, especially in this bloated, stagnant industry which needs growth just to stay on its feet. That drop is only going to accelerate as iPods continue their march towards total domination. And as CD sales fall, stores will cut back on shelf space for music, which will contribute to a cycle of complete collapse.

Even factoring in paid downloads (which are rising very quickly), overall music sales are down 2.5% this year. That’s just as bad news for the major labels because they are almost certainly getting a smaller percentage of online music sales than in-store sales (iTunes has a music selection that’s orders of magnitude larger than Walmart, which means people can actually find and buy non-corporate music). And trends like iTunes podcasts could steal listeners away from purchased music.

So despite all the noise the major labels are trying to make about online services, the death of the CD will be the death of the major label system as we know it. Here’s a more detailed analysis of why we think that’s true.

Record sales fluctuate depending on what albums come out when. But if this year’s drop in CD sales is really iPod related (and I bet it is), then the decline is going to keep accelerating and the second half of the year will probably be worse. 50 Cent already dropped his album, so who else do they have left? But this year is a mere hint of what’s coming. Wait until Christmas when every 12 year old gets an iPod Shuffle and every 16-60 year old gets an iTunes phone (and is anyone going to be giving CDs this year?). The next 18 months could see the most dramatic changes in the music industry in decades; by March, we’ll probably know for sure. It’ll be fun to watch the corporate music beasts wither away.

Radio Anda in Paris is Cool

Monday, July 11th, 2005

Radio Anda is a web radio “station” in Paris, France and they’re going to be passing out our “Think Again” flyers and “relay Downhill Battle promotion” in France. We’re glad to have the help and be a part of the fight that Radio Anda is putting on. If you speak French or are in French-Canada, you can grab this new French flyer here: Repensez-Y!. Happy flyering.