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Love Me Donít

We got buried last week in an avalanche of WTF with regard to a proposed city of Albany ordinance that would impose a $50 tax on an establishment for every music performance, every karaoke performance, every DJ spinningówhy, any time anybody even thought about music in the general proximity of a club, laundromat, restaurant or convenience store. Or something like that.

Like thereís too much music happening in town. Like those darn lazy musicians are being paid too much. Iíve been assured by folks much smarter than me that this was all a tempest in a tea bag, and one of these smart folks, Chet Hardin, has the whole skinny laid out for you elsewhere in this issue.

And speaking of tea bags, all hats go way off to the fine people of the North Country. It was mildly amusing to see the idiot media get all cranked up over the big congressional showdown in the Adirondacks between the normal workings of democracy and the fascist far right. Why, itís a referendum on Obama, or on the Republican Party, or socialism, or Fox News! Speak to us, NY-23! Grace us with your accumulated wisdom! A nation turns its lonely eyes to you!

Now, North Country folks are about as individualistic as they come; that is, they tend not to be real big on following or doing what they are told to do by strangers. And they sure ainít dumb. Remote? Yes. West Virginia? No. So, when a gaggle of thuggish assclowns like Dick Armey, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin shoved the local Republican candidate out of the way in favor of this goofy-looking, nervous, out-of-district little nobody who parroted the Heritage Foundationís party line, well, it was pretty clear that things werenít going to go well for the visiting team. The whole silly affair struck me as less a referendum about any national issue than the Adirondacks telling a bunch of phony would-be power brokers to get lost.

As far as Maine goes, how tragic and sad. I wonít be vacationing there anytime soon. Iíll go to the Adirondacks.

OK. MP3s have been around since, what, 1995? For the next 10 years, MP3s were the format of choice for an overwhelming number of music fans, but unavailable for purchase anywhere, leaving this overwhelming number of music fans two choices: Make your own by ripping a CD, or, even better, downloading MP3s for free from any of the P2P or torrent sites on the Internet. Slowly, the major labels caught on that not selling what people wanted wasnít a particularly smart business model, and MP3s are now available through iTunes, Amazon, and the like.

But there were stragglers, most notably, the entire Beatles catalog, which, along with a couple other banner collections, like those of AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, have to date been unavailable in any kind of digital format. Except, of course, on CDs. Which means that all of this music has been readily available for download as free MP3s all over the Internet. You just canít buy it that way.

Well, after years of promises and speculation (I was positive that the Beatlesí digital catalog was gonna come packed into the first iPhones a few years ago. I was wrong.), it looks like the Beatles are joining the real world. Sort of. Apple Records just announced that in the first week of December it will start shipping little apple-shaped memory sticks that contain the entire remastered Beatles stereo catalog, with the songs available in the lossless FLAC format and as 320 bps MP3s. There are also a bunch of jpgs and little movies in the package.

Well, whoop-dee-freakiní-doo. Itís my job to complain about things like this, so let me count the ways this is wrong:

1. It costs $280, or $20 per album. The same CD box set costs $220. And this is because?

2. Why only the stereo albums? Any real Beatles fan will tell you that the remastered early mono mixes are the only things that really matter in these rereleases.

3. You have to buy the whole damn thing. No single albums and certainly no single songs. Repeat after me: ďLove Me Do mono torrent MP3.Ē Now hit search. Youíre welcome.

4. Theyíre selling only 30,000 of them. Selling things that are scarce is a good marketing plan. Creating ridiculously artificial and easily defeatable scarcity is not.

Iím sure youíll have your own reasons for avoiding this, unless youíre one of those several million Beatles completists out there who, no doubt, have already snapped up every single one of these pricy doo-hingies by the time you read this.

So, I guess it doesnít make any difference anyway. Sheesh.

óPaul Rapp

Paul Rapp is an intellectual-property lawyer with offices in Albany and Housatonic, Mass. He teaches art-and-entertainment law at Albany Law School, and regularly appears as part of the Copyright Forum on WAMCís Vox Pop. Contact info can be found at paulrapp.com. Comments about this article can be posted at rapponthis.blogspot.com.


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