Sunday, August 10, 2008

KCRW story on Westerberg's "49:00"

A few new links to share with you today:

» Crawdaddy review of "49:00"
» Rocky Mountain News review of "49:00"
» "49:00" review from The Modern Conservative (if, like me, you're a bleeding heart liberal and the name of the site is giving you the willies, check out the review anyway, it's very good)

KCRW's News Collage of the Week covers the "49:00" story:

Litigation is becoming the modus operandi for rock and rollers. In the old days, problems were discreetly solved with quiet negotiations. But when the internet came along, a band suddenly had direct access to their own fanbase. Now bands have democratic distribution. Anyone can release a record. And in the rough and tumble world of independence, artists are often guided by the "do it now and apologize for it later" rule. This means the threat oflawsuits looms ever present.

The latest victim caught in the crosshairs is cult favorite Paul Westerberg. Westerberg, singer and songwriter and the previous frontman of The Replacements, came up with a novel way to launch his new album. The album, titled "49 Minutes" was sold as a single download on Amazon and Tunecore. It was 49 minutes long and sold at the ridiculously low price of .49 cents.

The story generated headlines from all the major press, first for marketing, then for its unusual sound. Critics loved the album, which sounded more like a sound collage. Included in the music, were a few seconds worth of mash ups from other artist songs. Two weeks after it was originally released, Amazon and Tunecore pulled the "49 Minutes" download off their sites. And in its place, Tunecore began offering a different, exclusive Westerberg track titled, "5:05." The new song sells for .99 cents.

Why did the original album get pulled? The most plausible answer is that digital retailers probably received cease and desist notices for "49 Minutes" due to the mash ups. Once they receive a notice, they simply pull the release until they are convinced they have the rights to sell it. Game over, or prepare to suffer lawsuits. It will be interesting to see what Westerberg does next.