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Monday, March 21, 2005

On a lighter note, take a bite of this Apple

Free Fiona Apple! Disclaimer: I do not find Fiona Apple's voice or vocal style at all appealing. That said, I do still very much like her music, especially what I've listened to so far of "Extraordinary Machine," the album Sony has shelved—refused to relase—because it's "not commercial" enough, but which neverhteless has found a huge audience among radio listeners and internet downloaders. Huh? Yep. Seems a DJ got hold of a copy of the songs and has been playing them regularly and a whole movement to "Free Fiona Apple" has sprung up, attempting to get Sony to press the album and allow folks to buy it. Here's a site where you can download very high quality mp3s of all the songs on the album, if you wish (I did). And here's Other observations? Glad you asked. (You did ask, didn't you? :-) OK, in one sense Sony is right. The music on "Extraordinary Machine" is definitely not the sort of manufactured commercial crap Sony has been majoring in recently. It's rather complex and involving music, instead. Not the sort of thing that Sony's market is aimed at—tone-deaf, subliterate, "prison for kids"-manufactured doofs. OK, I can see where Sony would say, "We don't know anyone who would buy this stuff," because Sony execs apparently are tone-deaf, subliterate doofs ,themselves. This stuff is good, in spite of all apple does to ruin it with her annoying voice. Just plain good stuff! Now, I'm conflicted. If Sony succombs to pressure to release it, against all their "over-manufactured commercial crap for idiots sells" instincts and Fiona fans buy the albu in large numbers, who benefits? Sony. *sigh* Would this encourage Sony execs to look more carefully at the quality of the music they publish (and who would care, since they obviously can't tell good music from bad, anyway)? Or would it just reward their three-year shelving of this album? Wouldn't a better solution be to download the songs anywhere one can get them for free and send Fiona Apple a buck or so a song (far more than the buck or so an album she'd get from Sony--if she's lucky)? I'd much rather send her some money directly than give Sony a dime. But that's me. I'll always prefer that the artist (and in this case, again in spite of her annoying voice, Fiona is that rare thing: and artist) get the lion's share, rather than some philistine in a suit. Thx to Glenn Reynolds for tipping me off to the fact that the songs were available—somewhere *heh*—on the web.) Update: Epic (a subsidiary of Sony) now says " ...Fiona has not yet delivered her next album to Epic, but we join music lovers everywhere in eagerly anticipating her next release." So, what is it? Apple fans have supposedly been besieging Sony for more than a year asking for the album's release, and now Epic says she hasn't delivered? I suspect the truth is that she has but Epic demanded changes to make it more "marketable"—changes Apple is probably right to resist, given the other offerings coming from the Sony Borg. Addendum: Janis Ian has some trenchant observations about artistic expression, music, the music industry, and the internet at her web site. Good reading. (Oh, and she has some of her music for download there. Remember "At Seventeen"?) And this whole idea of artists marketing directly to those who appreciate their work, bypassing much of the cumbersome and overly expensive vampires (well many of them are) has other thinking advocates. Jim Baen, a book publisher with a genuinely forward-looking viewpoint, has given server space and publicity to those authors who want to give away some of their books... and both baen Books and the individual authors have noticed significant gains in their bottom line as a result. I know that after Holly Lisle pointed me to the Baen Free Library I bought a number of her books... since the library offered me an opportunity to download and read one of her books and I discovered I liked her writing. (Our local lil library here in America's Third World County™ does the best it can, but its fiction selection is scarcely larger than my pre-purge collection was. And much of that selection is... not worth reading, anyway—a matter of catering to the clientele, as much as anything else. *heh*) Other authors—Eric Flint (the prime mover behind the Baen Free Library ), John Ringo and several others' books have been purchases I would probably not otherwise have made, had not the library introduced them to me. And Baen Books also sells e-books of all their titles very inexpensively, with a larger share of the ebook price going to the author than does from print books (economy of production passed on to the artist--Baen's a White Hat, I think.).