Labels unite on no-brainer



1. Labels unite on no-brainer

2. Tracks

3. Recommended Reading

Labels unite on no-brainer

Last week, upwards of 750 independent labels came together to sign the "Fair Digital Deals Pledge" spearheaded by Worldwide Independent Music Industry Network (WIN). The tenets of the pledge confront two issues: creating more transparency around digital licensing agreements with artists and the assertion that labels, regardless of size, deserve an equal share of revenues from digital content distributors. Read the pledge and the appended "Global Independent Manifesto" in its entirety HERE.

The Pledge:

We will:

Ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form.

Account to artists a good-faith pro-rata share of any revenues and other compensation from digital services that stem from the monetization of recordings but are not attributed to specific recordings or performances.

Encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetisation of music.
Support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorized uses of their music.

Support the collective position of the global independent record company sector as outlined in the Global Independent Manifesto below.

We wholly disapprove of certain practices which leave artists under-recompensed and under-informed in the digital marketplace and will work together with the artist community to counter these practices.

Signed on behalf of [Label]

On the surface, the pledge and manifesto look like little more than a bit of political posturing in reaction to YouTube's planned subscription service and the broken math of Spotify's current payout system, until you stop and acknowledge the rarity of any group of humans congregating in the name of Common Sense these days. More importantly, the pledge has the tone and appearance of a class action lawsuit without the lawyer fees and years of litigation that such a suit would entail. This makes sense as a first step, but it may fail to accomplish any substantive change in policy from the YouTubes and Spotifies of the world. If the indies do garner a reaction from the major players, we should nominate their owners for a seat in congress this fall.

Do the aims of WIN appear egregious and overreaching? Hardly. The group simply wants the internet to remain a level playing field for the participants held within. Unfortunately, we live in a world where level playing fields are a pipe dream. At virtually every level of the global economic system, parity is an afterthought. I've watched the proverbial Goliath squash the little guy too many times to have any confidence that the pledge is going to result in equal payouts to artists. That said, I'm still holding out hope for the underdog. If nothing else, this is a story to keep your eyes on in the coming weeks and months.


Mexican Slang - "Halcyon"

Earlier this month, up-and-coming Toronto punks Mexican Slang dropped a four-track EP on Canadian label Buzz Records entitled Inside The Velvet Cake. It's the sixth batch of singles the group has released since forming in 2012. At the center of Mexican Slang sits the hazy vocals and understated guitar of lead singer Annabelle Lee. "The main reason I started playing music is I had to get out a lot of anger," Lee recently confessed to BlogTO. "I just wanted to get it out of me. The music is angry so that I don't have to be." The limited-edition cassette is currently sold out, but listen to the hypnotizing slow stomp of "Halcyon" below and grab a download on the cheap via Bandcamp.

Tour Dates:
7/24 - The Maltese Tiger - Indianapolis, IN
7/25 – Wally’s World – Chicago, IL
8/24 – Uncross Your Arms Fest – Kitchener, ON
9/12 – The Baltimore House – Hamilton, ON (Supercrawl) w/ HSY
9/20 – The Silver Dollar – Toronto, ON w/ Shonen Knife

Sleep Cycles - "just a couple"

I recently received a nondescript email from UK singer-songwriter Max Holder who performs under the moniker Sleep Cycles. Holder recently dropped his debut LP of fragile, acoustic-driven bedroom pop called hibernation. I was immediately taken with the release, which sounds something like an undiscovered batch of Youth Lagoon demos. Listen to "just a couple" below, and name your price for a download via Bandcamp.

Cousins - "Alone"

I caught Halifax two-piece Cousins when they opened for fellow Canadian Chad Van Gaalen in Indianapolis earlier this spring. The band is comprised of Aaron Mangle (guitars/vocals) and Leigh Dotey (drums/vocals). Since that first impression, I've returned to the duo's 2014 LP, The Halls of Wickwire, with regularity. Over the weekend, I had a chance to catch Jack White at Forecastle. His set was solid, but left me pining for The White Stripes. While those pangs of nostalgia are probably a misguided waste of time, at least I have Cousins to admirably fill that void.



Mike Cooper and the Cult of Reissues (LINK)

Earlier this year, I previewed a collaborative LP from Steve Gunn and legendary guitarist Mike Cooper. Not to boast, but Cantos de Lisboa has proven to be one of the 2014's most interesting and challenging listens in this author's humble opinion. Last week, Michael Blair and Joe Bucciero co-wrote an article that places Cooper at the center of a phenomenal discussion around the culture of vinyl reissues over at Adhoc. The writers did an admirable job of underscoring the unpredictable nature of Cooper's career as a recording artist while adding some clarity to the phenomenon (and financial boon) that drives the reissue market. I also found it reassuring that there is at least two other writers who hold Cantos de Lisboa in the same high regard that I do.