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Archive for October 16th, 2006

Sacrifice – Peltier

Groov’n to my iPod this morning I was listening to Robbie Robertson – “Contact from the Underworld Red Boy” (1998), (http://theband.hiof.no/albums/contact_from_the_underworld_of_red_boy.html) and heard a song called Sacrifice. I’ve listened to this song before, but didn’t think much about the lyrics. Today was different in that something in the song caught my attention. The song is “supposedly” narrated and you hear this telephone-squawk box element of Leonard Peltier, introduced in the song? Being curious I thought is this for-real or just a clever way to write a song?

Who is this Robbie Robertson (http://www.ahroo.com/PIC/rrtimeline.html)? Born with the name Jaime Robert Klegerman, the wiki states – he’s the son of a Jewish father and Mohawk mother, and first brushed with music at the Six Nations Reservation. He is an accomplished musician. He composed the score to Scorsese’s movies Raging Bull, King of Comedy and The Color Of Money. He has appeared with Bob Dylan, U2, and Peter Gabriel. Most recent work was with Touchstone Pictures / Beacon Pictures’ ‘Ladder 49’ (John Travolta) and the feature track, “Shine Your Light.”

As it turns out the song Sacrifice is indeed a ‘protest’ song which does feature Leornard Peltier — a Native American who has been imprisoned since 1976 on charges of murder many believe are fabricated — his voice is recorded from a telephone call. Peltier, a native of Grand Forks, N.D., has spent nearly half of his 59 years behind bars in maximum-security prisons, most recently in the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan. (http://www.freepeltier.org/). Peltier was convicted for the deaths of two FBI agents who died during a 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

If you’re into conspiracy theories, the Wounded Knee occupation of 1973 marked the beginning of a three-year period of heightened political violence on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  Peltier was an American Indian Movement (AIM) organizer in the Northwest and was asked to go to Pine Ridge, South Dakota to support and help protect the people being targeted for violence. Peltier set up camp on a ranch owned by the Jumping Bull family and when more than 40 Native Americans participated in a gunfight, two FBI agents and one Native American were dead. The agents injured in the shoot-out, were then shot at close range. Of three people brought to trial (first two were acquitted in a federal jury in Iowa) only Peltier was convicted (in ND) and is serving two life terms. The protest song Sacrifice (lyric at: http://www.ahroo.com/pp/lyr/sacrifice.html) is very legit.

I wonder how many other musicians have created real-people protest songs and delivered them to the unassuming public as we march through our work day unaware?!

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From the Give me a Break Dept!

Dateline: August 29, 2005 New Orleans, LA – The costliest ($81.2B) and one of the deadliest (1,836 lost lives) hurricanes (Katrina) in the history of the U.S., hits New Orleans and FEMA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FEMA) officials took severe criticism over governments’ lack of reaction to the storm.

Advance ahead a year later and…

Dateline: October 16, 2006 Kailua Kona, Hawaii – FEMA’s (mainland) computer simulation indicates “a possibility” that as many as 170 bridges on the big Island could have suffered damage and Bob Fenton (FEMA Regional Director) immediately dispatches 50+ Federal Officials to span-out across the Big Island to “assess damage” and help begin any recovery work.This should zip-the-nay-sayers-shut who think the B-government can’t learn to become more effective and coordinated in a natural disaster.

I’m sure the location had nothing to do with this rapid response – As you can see the Kona Brewing Company suffered NO damage and the tourists are enjoying lunch http://www.konabrewingco.com/360/360-1.html …while watching Director Bob’s crew “assess” the brewery! FEMA will also need to close pool-slide #6 to check the concrete pillars on the Hyatt bridge that connects the all-you-can-eat egg & sausage/pineapple buffet to the Mai-Tai Bar. Once done with breakfast, all the federal “official’s” will of course have swimsuits to facilitate entry into the pool for full assessment…

Give me a break!

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Digitized Best Buy

Best Buy announced (http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/061005/20061005005675.html?.v=1) plans to launch a digital music store powered by RealNetworks’ Rhapsody (http://www.rhapsody.com) service. The Music Store (http://www.bestbuy.com/digitalmusicstore), which launched yesterday (Oct. 15th), features tight integration with memory card maker SanDisk’s line of Sansa Rhapsody MP3 players (http://tinyurl.com/dz44x). Anyone who purchases the $139 (2GB) or $249 (8GB) Sansa e200 Rhapsody player will be given a free two-month subscription to the service, enabling unlimited downloads to the players; after the trial period the portable downloads service will cost $14.99 per month. Users can also purchase tracks from Rhapsody a la carte for 99 cents each.

 “Whether they want to purchase downloads or a subscription and have access to all the music, we’re giving consumers the ability to enjoy entertainment on their terms,” said Jennifer Schaidler, vice president of music for Best Buy. http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2006/10/06/report-digital-music-sales-buoy-overall-market

This launch aligns with the release of Rhapsody 4.0, an updated version of the digital music service that allows users to drag-and-drop songs from the service directly onto their portable players. By aligning with RealNetworks and SanDisk, Best Buy positions itself in the download music market, Rhapsody can drive more subscribers and the combination of all three mean they can compete in the end-to-end music solution space dominated by Apple. This is where Microsoft is headed with the Zune (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/sep06/09-14ZuneUnveilingPR.mspx),  launch set for November.  Best Buy is the #1 retailer of MP3 players in the U.S. SanDisk is the #2 manufacturer of MP3 players in the United States, and RealNetworks is the #1 digital music subscription services provider, with >1.6 million subscribers. An interesting side note is that the most-stolen item from Best Buy stores is the MP3 player (http://blog.wired.com/music/#1568666).

Best Buy clearly wants a larger piece of the download music sales and with a strong (DRM-ed) music service, and it might even influence customers to stop stealing?! They have significant floor space locked up in album displays and according to Nielsen SoundScan data (www.Nielsen.com), physical album sales dropped 8.3% year-to-date. At the same time more than 418 million tracks were purchased from digital music retailers, a rise of 72% over the same period last year, So, it’s easy to understand the motivation. When Digital album sales year-to-date (22.6 million, up 115% from last year) are combined with digital singles and physical sales, the overall music industry has sold 434.9 million albums, down from 439.2 million during the same period last year. http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=industryNews&storyID=2006-10-05T084239Z_01_N05410414_RTRIDST_0_INDUSTRY-INDUSTRY-DC.XML&WTmodLoc=EntNewsIndustry_C1_%5BFeed%5D-1

Best Buy as an online digital music retailer is focused on the TAM expansion sweet spot of the market. Rhapsody adds between 30,000 and 50,000 new tracks every week, and will be at 3 million tracks by the end of the year. The MP3 players and Rhapsody service require higher performance PC’s to rip, sync, download, post and update your listening history on a blog using RSS.I’m interested to see how the music implications of this deal plays out…

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