This is a tremendous piece of reporting by Jody Rosen. I have never had many kind words for the big record labels, but this just takes my distain to a whole new level.
As mentioned in the article, I understand how costly it is to maintain an archive of content as large as this. It’s not economical, and it is likely never to be a profit center.
But one could argue that if your entire business model is to leech the intellectual property of artists, you would at least have a moral imperative to keep that IP in as pristine of a condition that you could.
Of course, though, we are talking about the music industry. Why do something altruistic and beneficial to society with the gobs and gobs of money they make when, instead, they can hire more lawyers?
Here’s a small list of artists mentioned in the article, just to leave you with a taste of what we, as a society, have collectively lost:
Virtually all of Buddy Holly’s masters were lost in the fire. Most of John Coltrane’s Impulse masters were lost, as were masters for treasured Impulse releases by Ellington, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders and other jazz greats. Also apparently destroyed were the masters for dozens of canonical hit singles, including Bill Haley and His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats’ “Rocket 88,” Bo Diddley’s “Bo Diddley/I’m A Man,” Etta James’s “At Last,” the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” and the Impressions’ “People Get Ready.”
The list of destroyed single and album masters takes in titles by dozens of legendary artists, a genre-spanning who’s who of 20th- and 21st-century popular music. It includes recordings by Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, the Andrews Sisters, the Ink Spots, the Mills Brothers, Lionel Hampton, Ray Charles, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Clara Ward, Sammy Davis Jr., Les Paul, Fats Domino, Big Mama Thornton, Burl Ives, the Weavers, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Bobby (Blue) Bland, B.B. King, Ike Turner, the Four Tops, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Sonny and Cher, the Mamas and the Papas, Joni Mitchell, Captain Beefheart, Cat Stevens, the Carpenters, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Green, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles, Don Henley, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Iggy Pop, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Barry White, Patti LaBelle, Yoko Ono, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Police, Sting, George Strait, Steve Earle, R.E.M., Janet Jackson, Eric B. and Rakim, New Edition, Bobby Brown, Guns N’ Roses, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Sonic Youth, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hole, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, 50 Cent and the Roots.
“Everyone does it.”
These were the words from my college-aged daughter when I caught her lounging on our couch, streaming Friends with 24-point closed captioning on. She has no hearing impairment, and I wanted to know what she was up to.
Does “everyone” do it? My wife and I turned to Facebook and a private, nationwide group for parents with near-adult children. “Anyone else’s college student (without a hearing disability) watch TV with the closed captioning on and insist that everyone does it?” my wife posted. Seven hundred responses (and counting) later, we had our answer.
I remember when I got my first TV in my bedroom. I was in fifth grade, and for my birthday, I received a 19” tube TV.
After opening the box and plugging it in, I spent an hour reading the instruction manual, learning everything I possibly could about this amazing machine.
One thing that stood out to me was “closed captioning.” I had never heard of this before, so of course, I enabled it, then closed the menu to see what it did.
I was absolutely blown away. How was this TV able to understand the words that were spoken on the screen and type them out to read?
As I got older, I started to understand why this technology existed and how it actually worked. At the same time, I never turned off that setting on my tube TV.
My friends thought I was weird for having it on, but there was something about seeing the words along with hearing them that helped me process the information a little bit easier.
My wife and I now permanently have closed captions on our TVs. It really comes in handy as we watch Game of Thrones late at night, but even as we are binging The Office for the eightieth time, the captions only enhance the situation.
One thing I appreciate about captions are how different content providers approach them. Some caption the words verbatim, while some (especially, but not exclusively, live events) take liberties with the words they caption.
It’s interesting to see how they are able to take someone’s stream of consciousness from their head and summarize the essence of it for someone to read on one or two lines.
Anyway, I’m a huge fan of captions, and I appreciate the hard work that goes into generating them.
I came across this episode of The Knowledge Project the other day, and I instantly downloaded this episode with Jason Fried.
The more I read and listen to interviews with Jason and his co-founder, David Heinemeier Hansson, the more I want to model JMG after them.
Some takeaways from this episode:
- The businesses Jason admires are not big name ones that everyone has heard of (except for Stripe). He admires businesses who have been around for 5+ years, such as his local grocer.
- The expectation of himself is to do the right thing day after day. That’s an admirable goal, and one that makes more sense to me than straight up making billions of dollars.
- He said he tries to understand what “enough” is. That really is what owning a business should be about, right? If we have enough, then anything beyond that is greed, no?
- He spoke about how, at one point, Basecamp set numbers and metrics and then aimed to hit them. Ultimately, that led them to doing things that “weren’t them”, such as giving money to Facebook for ads. If your company is profitable and making you and your customers happy (again, returning to the “enough” point made above), why do we set pointless goals for ourselves? Can’t we find satisfaction in something more tangible (like how something feels) as opposed to hitting a made up number?
I would love JMG to be as “successful” of a company as Basecamp in every sense of the word. As our company grows and continues to find success, I am proud of our ability to stay true to our roots and build a business that does things the right way.
We had just gotten back from a weekend in Wisconsin celebrating Shannon's grandpa's 83rd birthday. Charlee was quite a whiner... just like she had been all week long.
Well, the last several weeks, actually. She requires a lot of attention, and she is very bossy in the way she requires it. You have to play with the toy she wants you to play with (usually Goofy but sometimes Mickey or Pete), and you have to act the same way you acted the first time you did this game months ago, and god forbid you try to talk to anyone else (such as your wife) while you do it.
It was 5pm, and the Super Bowl was about to kick off in a half hour, and thanks to the day spent in the car, I still needed around 7,000 steps for the day to continue my 153 day streak of getting 10,000 steps.
I thought I should get a quick walk in while it was still bright out (and so I could enjoy the 70 degree swing in temperature from earlier in the week, when it went from -30 to 40 degrees).
Charlee, who I was playing with while I had that thought, wanted nothing to do with that idea. She insisted I stay and pretend I was Pete and that I needed to help Little Minnie get tucked in for bed.
Since my throat was a little sore, I grew weary of the Pete voice and said, "Charlee, you can either stay here with mom and play, or you can go on a walk with me."
Charlee sobbed and said she wanted to stay home, so I put my jacket on, loaded up a podcast, and started out the door.
I didn't even get 3 houses down the street when I get a call from my wife. Charlee changed her mind and wanted to go on a walk with me.
Annoyed, I turned around and came back home. By the time I got in, mom already helped Charlee into her boots. I helped her into her coat and hat and we set out the door.
Before we got out of the garage, I noticed she had two stuffed animals with her. One, her beloved Bumba. Two, a stuffed lion holding a heart that says "Love" that her mother won from an arcade game earlier that day.
I figured she might drop one of them, and due to the sloshy roads, I didn't want her to risk dropping Bumba, which would've required giving him a "bath." I told my daughter she could only bring one stuffed animal on the walk. She sobbed when I took her best friend out of her hands, but after a few steps down the road, she was just fine.
We started out painfully slowly. Again, I was slightly irritated that my brisk walk devolved into a turtle's pace, but these are the cards you are dealt sometimes as a parent.
We made our way out of our subdivision and towards the fire station.
Now, a few months ago, I took Charlee to an open house at the other fire station in town. She, as with most new experiences, wanted nothing to do with it. I showed her every possible thing you can see in that station, but she just wanted to go home.
In a last ditch effort, I forced her to go up into an empty fire truck. After she wiped the tears from her eyes, she looked around and was mesmerized. She immediately started pretending she was driving to a fire to help someone out. About 10 minutes later, the tears reemerged, but this time, they were caused by not wanting to leave this new experience.
As we strolled by the fire station on our walk, she asked me (as she has every day since the open house) if we could go inside. I told her not until they have an open house.
She then said, "Daddy, I want to be a fighter fighter."
"Do you mean 'fire fighter?' I asked.
"No, a fighter fighter,” she insisted.
Right then and there, my whole mood shifted. I looked down at her with the biggest smile I've ever smiled in my life. The rest of the walk, we had an amazing conversation. We talked about her new stuffed animal (who developed quite a personality). We talked about senses and which body parts help gather those senses. We held hands for the entire walk. We both laughed incredibly hard. She kept insisting that when she grows up, she's going to be a fighter (fire) fighter.
As we rounded the corner to complete the loop around our neighborhood, Charlee said "I want to do another one!"
I looked down at my watch. It was now 5:30, and the game was starting. But instead of fighting with a screaming toddler, I thought I should give in and let her keep walking. Besides, we both were stuck in a car for 6 hours, we might as well both burn off some energy.
The conversation continued to be lively and stimulating. Seriously. She might only be 2.5, but she has a lot of interesting thoughts rolling around that head of hers. Our pace began to quicken, even though we were both scared of slipping. We had held hands almost the entire 1.8 miles.
About three quarters of the way through the second loop, my watch buzzed. It was a notification from my buddies making fun of something that happened at the game.
I again thought about myself, missing out on this game. I was quickly brought back to reality when my little girl pulled on my hand and asked to do a third lap.
At that moment, my mind fast forwarded to the future. A future where my daughter was 16 and wanted nothing to do with me or the Super Bowl. A future where she was 28 and she stopped by in the morning to say hello, but ultimately went to go watch the game with her friends. A future where I was 83 and too weak to walk for a mile.
I stopped, pulled out my phone, and took a picture of my little girl. I asked her to look up at me and smile.
As you can see, this is a blurry, ill-composed photograph.
But in that future I imagined, I'm gonna look back at this picture and remember that for one brief, fleeting moment in my life, my little girl just wanted to spend another half hour walking through the sloppy, dark twilight with her daddy and her $1 vending machine lion.
Instead of another lap, we ultimately decided to go inside and take a bath.
But you can bet that in the morning, I know I'll have a walking buddy all set to hit the pavement with me.