DAMN FIGHT

Trends & Culture - April 17th, 2009
weekender-0084

ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT THINGS EVERYONE HAS TO LEARN IS THAT FOR YOUR ENTIRE LIFE YOU MUST KEEP FIGHTING AND ADJUSTING IF YOU HOPE TO SURVIVE. NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE OR WHAT YOUR POSITION IS YOU MUST KEEP FIGHTING FOR WHATEVER IT IS YOU DESIRE TO ACHIEVE. -George Allen

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

by Robert M. Poole

2009 is seemingly shaping up to be the year when the internet’s threat to sound the death knell for the traditional entertainment industry is finally about to ring true. With each passing month, systems like Veoh, Vuse, Bittorrent, and Crunchy Roll have made TV and film available to the masses, while iTunes’s domination of downloads is now facing the threat of Spotify, which offers streaming that requires no ownership of music at all, just provides an unlimited jukebox. Entertainment was always driven by its creators, but in today’s generation it is the providers in the front seat. Interestingly, music artists such as Prince, Van Morrison, and Bryan Adams are amongst those fighting hard to limit the damage they foresee, calling on anti-piracy firm Web Sheriff to close down anything they deem infringing, including fan sites. Meanwhile, companies like Warner have pulled all material from YouTube for similar reasons. Is the fight worth it? With so many alternative entertainment options available, it seems anyone fighting the good fight will only be left behind and forgotten.

PODCAST: Tapestry of the Times

Twenty-five episodes in and counting, Baltimore, Maryland’s WYPR show Tapestry of the Times offers an unrivaled musical journey through the archives of The Smithsonian Institution’s Folkways Records catalogue. Contained within each hour-long episode are extraordinary recordings culled from 2,168 albums ranging from field recordings, traditional music from around the world, contemporary music, and perhaps most significantly, the early recordings of American folk fathers like Woody Guthrie and early blues from the likes of Warner Williams. The timeless nature of music is presented by showcasing tracks starting from the birth of the label in 1948 until its founding father, Moses Asch, died in 1986, with only short commentary introducing each track so that the music does all the talking. Available once a week, Tapestry of the Times harks back to a bygone era before the commercialization of music stripped it of its soul, and is nothing but heartwarming throughout.

weekender-0085

MUSIC: Rimi Natsukawa—Kokoro no Uta/ (Rhythm Zone)

Rimi Natsukawa, 35, has long been held as Okinawan folk royalty, and not without good reason. Her ability to add subtle modern elements to traditional Ryukyuan music is combined with her sweet and uplifting voice, and Kokoro no Uta comes not only as her latest album, but as a highly suitable introduction to her work. The first CD is studio based and offers her often performed Inochi no Oto, as well as Spitz cover Ai ni Yuku yo. But the highlight is the live second CD, which brings out the frailty and vitality of her vocal delivery. Included is the classic Amazing Grace—the slave anthem written by a Christian enslaver—and her biggest hit to date, the stirring Nada sou sou (Tears for You). She is truly one of the Japan’s most original voices.

SCREEN: Veoh

Online video content distribution sites don’t get much higher support than Veoh, whose board features ex-Disney chairman Michael Eisner. Established in San Diego, California, the internet TV station allows user-generated content, but it has also been able to distribute footage from CBS, ABC, MTV, and a host of others. Its user-friendly interface allows members to select from short-form videos, full-length movies, music clips, or TV channels with full-length episodes. Each of these offers a wealth of sub-category options, though despite high-profile backing there are few major shows and the movie collection is mostly black and white classics.

weekender-0086

While Veoh continues to stock its shelves, it has amassed some 130,000 anime videos within its ranks that may attract Japanophiles, and the site is available in Japanese, German, and French. The site is also enticing celebrity and lifestyle followers through channels Young Hollywood and Vogue TV, as well as accepting that to boost hit rates it needs some risqué content too. Playboy TV and Sports Illustrated offer unique toned-down footage behind the scenes, further establishing Veoh as a YouTube rival with a diversified quality that YouTube can’t quite match. Veoh has so far attracted 28 million hits per month and has recently included support for the iPhone and iPod touch, proving it is developing carefully for the future, so expect much more content over time.